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Biggest Corporate Welfare Scam of All Time

Biggest Corporate Welfare Scam of All Time

President Joe Biden keeps lecturing corporate America to “pay your fair share” of taxes. It turns out he’s right that some companies really are getting away scot-free from paying taxes.

But it isn’t Big Tech companies in Silicon Valley or the Wall Street financial company “fat cats” or big banks or Walmart. They pay billions in taxes.

The culprits here are the very companies that President Biden is in bed with: green-energy firms.

It turns out that despite all of the promises over the past decade about how renewable energy is the future of power production in the United States, by far the biggest tax dodgers in the country are the wind and solar power industries. Over the past several decades, the green-energy lobby—what I call the climate-change-industrial complex—hasn’t been paying its fair share. That’s because the vast majority of these companies pay nearly zero income taxes.

But they wade in rivers of federal direct and indirect subsidies that keep these zombie companies alive. Over the past two decades, the renewable energy lobby has collected more than $250 billion in subsidies—payments that we’ve been assured over and over would be temporary. The argument for these grants, loans, tax abatements, and other sweetheart kisses is that these were “infant industries” in need of a Head Start program for CEOs. Except that these companies have never even reached puberty after all these years.

What’s worse is that President Biden keeps spoiling the children with lavish gifts for bad performance. A new report by tax expert Adam Michel at the Cato Institute finds that the green-energy subsidies—mostly created by Biden policies such as the so-called Inflation Reduction Act—will drain the Treasury of as much as $1.8 trillion over 10 years.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXII–Differing Opinions on ‘Renewables’

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXII

October 19, 2022 (original posting date)

Chitchen Itza, Mexico (1986). Photo by author.

Differing Opinions on ‘Renewables’

While I work on a longer (perhaps several part) contemplation regarding the myth of infinite growth on a finite planet that infiltrates and dominates many mainstream narratives — especially economic in nature — I thought I would share a back-and-forth conversation I’ve had with professor Ugo Bardi and another person on the Facebook group Dr. Bardi administers called The Seneca Effect regarding ‘renewables’.

It is a good example of the differing opinions regarding complex energy-harvesting technologies and their potential to offset the energy descent we seem to be experiencing.

First, I’d like to share an introductory statement from a relatively recent ‘essay’ by Megan Siebert and William Rees: “We begin with a reminder that humans are storytellers by nature. We socially construct complex sets of facts, beliefs, and values that guide how we operate in the world. Indeed, humans act out of their socially constructed narratives as if they were real. All political ideologies, religious doctrines, economic paradigms, cultural narratives — even scientific theories — are socially constructed “stories” that may or may not accurately reflect any aspect of reality they purport to represent. Once a particular construct has taken hold, its adherents are likely to treat it more seriously than opposing evidence from an alternate conceptual framework.”[1]

I am well aware that, for the most part, people believe what they want to believe. We defend our beliefs in various ways such as ignoring/denying opposing information, attacking the presenter of contrarian evidence, or confirming beliefs via selective interpretation of data/’facts’. And I am as guilty of such psychological mechanisms impacting my belief systems as the next person. We all fight hard to reduce the anxiety/stress created from the presence of cognitive dissonance and can be easily manipulated into believing certain narratives.

I have shared in previous contemplations my thoughts about non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies and my increasing belief that they are not the panacea they are being made out to be. You can read some of these here:

And my thoughts on how our beliefs are impacted by various psychological mechanisms:

The post in which the conversation took place shared a media publication[2] regarding a fusion reactor and its potential for providing unlimited, clean energy.


The presentation begins: “Imagine a world where energy was so clean and abundant that it was no longer a limiting factor in the growth of civilization.”

Infinite growth without a need to worry about what is ‘fuelling’ it or our ecological systems. What’s not to love?


My original comment on the link:

Steve Bull
Unlimited, ‘clean’ energy (an oxymoron) may address one ‘problem’ humanity faces (actually, a roadblock to continuation of our chasing of the perpetual growth chalice) , but it would exacerbate the various predicaments we have created — especially ecological overshoot.

Comment by another that kicked off the back-and-forth:

Breton Crellin
Yeah maybe for like a fraction of a second before they run out of fuel.
That’s the biggest hurdle at the moment.
Even if we can figure out how to keep it cool and controlled it still uses up an incredibly rare fuel incredibly fast.
Maybe one day.
But until then it’s a good thing we’ve got renewables.

Steve Bull
Breton Crellin
Despite narratives to the contrary, ‘renewables’ are a can-kicking endeavour. They rely upon finite resources in perpetuity, while that reliance draws those resources down more quickly and exacerbates our fundamental predicament of ecological overshoot.

Breton Crellin
Steve Bull
and how would you recommend we generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases?
Because ‘we can’t have clean energy since one day in the future we could run out of the resources we used to make it’ is a very poor argument that assumes we will use the same materials with no innovation until we run out and it ignores the damage burning fossil fuels is doing right now.
If we don’t stop burning also fuels we won’t be alive to see the end of any resources used to generate renewable electricity.

Steve Bull
Breton Crellin
The laws of physics and biology care not one iota if our species survives. However, humanity survived for millennia without electricity. And, you can’t have non-renewable, renewable-energy harvesting technologies without fossil fuels — and A LOT of it to even come close to replacing what fossil fuels provide…to say little of their import to modern industrial agriculture that supplies our food. This is a predicament without a solution.

Breton Crellin
Steve Bull
Your solution is a non-solution.
I asked you how You would recommend producing clean electricity and your answers to not produce electricity?
You can’t have renewable energy without fossil fuels?
That talking point is straight out of the climate change denial handbook.
Yes I’m well aware that concrete and steel have a carbon footprint and engineers take a gas burning car to work.
But those emissions are only made once and after that it’s decades of clean electricity.
Besides using petroleum products is not the problem. It’s burning them for heat electricity and transportation that is accelerating I possible extinction level event.
A predicament without a solution hey?
Sounds more like a predicament you have where your logic has pushed you in a corner you can’t find your way out of.
Sorry I shouldn’t make this about you.
Seriously though if climate change is a predicament without a solution then what is the harm in using renewable energy if we won’t survive on this planet long enough to use up the materials?

Ugo Bardi
Breton Crellin There is nothing to do, Breton, for some people, denigrating renewable energy is a crusade.

Steve Bull
Ugo Bardi
You and I will have to agree to disagree regarding‘ renewables’. And as I have written before in responding to you: “… it is not that I ‘hate’ renewables or am a shill for the fossil fuel industry (the two typical accusations lobbed at me); I simply recognise their limitations, negative impacts, and that they are no panacea.”

Steve Bull
Breton Crellin
You need to recognize the difference between problems with solutions and predicaments without them. Not only is there increasing data/evidence to point out that there exists nowhere near the mineral/material resources to achieve the ‘transition’ many desire (see this: https://www.thegreatsimplification.com/…/19-simon-michaux), but that the ecological system and environmental fallout from pursuing such a shift would be catastrophic (see this: https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2022/09/a-climate-love-story/).

Steve Bull
Ugo Bardi
Breton Crellin As physics professor Tom Murphy concludes in the piece I link: “Let’s not engineer a nightmare for ourselves in the misguided attempt to realize a poorly considered dream. It starts by recognizing that the vision many hold as “the dream” is itself utterly unsustainable and thus may even accelerate failure, rather than avert it. The predicament has wide boundaries that reach deep foundations of our civilization’s structure. We only succeed by altering our mental models of how we live on this planet — not by finding “superior” substitutes for the very things that have put us in this precarious position — and thus will only dig our hole faster, better, and cheaper.”

Breton Crellin
Steve Bull
strongly disagree that using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels is a poorly realized dream.
And again to repeat myself those material estimations assume innovations or alternative materials between now and when we run out.
What are the timelines until we are expected to run out anyway?
Or do we have less than that?

Steve Bull
Breton Crellin
First, you cannot have ‘renewables’ without fossil fuels — from the mineral extraction and processing industries to their maintenance and reclamation/disposal, fossil fuels have no replacements for these industries at scale; plus you require fossil fuels to back up renewable systems because of their intermittency. Note that humanity’s energy demand (including that of fossil fuels) has only increased over the past several decades despite the introduction of ‘renewables’. Renewables are best seen as an extension of fossil fuels, not a replacement. As for the mineral limitation issue, I will defer to Simon Michaux as the geologist who has studied the issue extensively. We need to be powering down significantly (plus reducing our population dramatically), not attempting to replace what fuels our energy-intensive civilisation with complex technologies that require significant drawdown of finite minerals that have for some time been encountering problematic diminishing returns (to say little of the ecological damage such a pursuit entails). Our fundamental predicament is ecological overshoot and chasing replacements for fossil fuels does zero to address it; in fact, it makes it worse leading to an even more difficult reversion to the mean for humanity.

Ugo Bardi
You see? It is a crusade.

Steve Bull
Ugo Bardi I view my attempting to point out the deficiencies and issues with renewables no more a ‘crusade’ than yours to push these technologies (and their environmentally-destructive production) as a ‘solution’ to our inevitable energy descent. The repercussions for our planet (and all life) of our continued pursuit of complex technologies are not inconsequential.

Ugo Bardi
Yours is a faith, mine is a scientific investigation based on data

Steve Bull
Ugo Bardi Many would argue that the idea that ‘renewables’ are a ‘solution’ to our energy descent as ‘faith-based’. I guess you missed (purposely ignored?) the links I shared of physics professor Tom Murphy and geologist Simon Michaux? We must agree to disagree over this…

Ugo Bardi
Steve, how many papers on renewable energy did you publish in peer-reviewed journals? I published at least three (actually more) during the past few years. For this reason I say that my opinion on renewables is based on data and facts.

Steve Bull
Ugo Bardi
Yes, you are arguing based upon an appeal to ‘data’ and ‘facts’, as am I when I refer to the work of fellow academics and ‘experts’ in their fields. Simon Michaux, for example, is a geologist with the Geological Survey of Finland and has performed extensive work on the mineral requirement aspects for a transition to ‘renewables’. Tom Murphy is a practising physicist who looks deeply into the numbers and data. And then there are the countless ecologists who are witnessing horrific biodiversity loss and ecological system collapse from the continuing, and expanding, industrial processes required to pursue complex technologies. I am not basing my perspective on ‘faith’ as you have suggested. I am attempting to balance the ecological concerns (that are almost always ignored or rationalised away) with the human need for energy to sustain our current way of existence. The two seem quite incompatible.

I conclude with the notion that we all believe what we wish to believe; ‘facts’ make little to no difference to that human proclivity. And this is particularly so when one is ‘invested’ significantly in the belief. Dr. Bardi seems well invested in the concept of renewables being capable of replacing fossil fuels. Me…not so much.

Might my concerns for the environment and ecological systems because of our industrial processes and pursuit of increasingly complex technologies be overblown or misplaced? Perhaps. But if they’re not and we continue to chase them in our quest for some holy grail to sustain our current living arrangements, the reversion to the mean for humanity will not be very welcome. Not at all.

[1] https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/14/15/4508

[2] The media publisher is ‘Electric Future’ that offers the following information about itself on its YouTube channel: “Electric Future® is an independent media publisher that presents optimistic but realistic coverage of cutting edge sustainable technology… The operators of Electric Future may have material connection to organizations mentioned in video content.”

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXI–The Pursuit Of ‘Renewables’: Putting Us Further Into Ecological Overshoot

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXI

October 10, 2022 (original posting date)

Chitchen Itza, Mexico (1986). Photo by author.

The Pursuit Of ‘Renewables’: Putting Us Further Into Ecological Overshoot

Today’s very brief contemplation has been prompted by a couple of recent articles/posts (see links below) by thinkers/writers whose works/ideas I have followed for some time and respect greatly — but disagree with when it comes to non-renewable renewable-energy harvesting technologies.

I continue to be dismayed that many (most?) analyses of humanity’s predicament(s) seem devoid of the bio- and geo-physical constraints that exist on a finite planet and suggest quite strongly that the energy ‘transition’ argued for is, for all intents and purposes, dead on arrival — to say little about our fundamental predicament of ecological overshoot.

Not only is there increasing data/evidence to point out that there exists nowhere near the mineral/material resources to achieve the ‘transition’ many desire (see this: https://www.thegreatsimplification.com/episode/19-simon-michaux), but that the ecological system and environmental fallout from pursuing such a shift would be catastrophic (see this: https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2022/09/a-climate-love-story/).

And please note, it is not that I ‘hate’ renewables or am a shill for the fossil fuel industry (the two typical accusations lobbed at me); I simply recognise their limitations, negative impacts, and that they are no panacea.

Our pursuit and leveraging of complex technologies, amongst a few sociocultural practices, is what has led us into ecological overshoot. The evidence appears to be accumulating that they are not likely to help us out of this predicament and pursuing them to the degree their cheerleaders suggest (many of whom stand to profit handsomely from during such a shift) would compound significantly the negative consequences of their production and distribution.



Stragedy Unfolds

Stragedy Unfolds

A bitter rant on Europe’s self-implosion

It is now the second time I’m having afterthoughts upon publishing an article. After writing about how Europe’s well intended but disastrously planned environmental initiative puts us right on track to a permanent deindustrialization, thoughts kept coming up on why is that not seen as a problem by policy wonks. Perhaps understanding the parallels with what is currently unfolding in Eastern Europe could help lift the fog.

There is a looming sense of civilizational decline in Europe, stemming from the loss of cheap condensed energy. Yet, denial and hope, together with its eternal springs, still reign supreme in the higher echelons of power. There seems to be a firm belief, that no matter how unattainable the objectives we set to ourselves are, someone, somewhere will surely come up with something. Intermittent „renewables”? Costly, heavy, material and energy intensive to make batteries? Oh, someone somewhere is surely working on a storage solution (or more) to come around those minor technicalities. Not enough resources to build all that stuff? Oh, someone somewhere will surely open up a new mine… After all, demand and a good deal of subsidies always begets more supply, now isn’t it?

Well, no. That level of magical thinking is an insult on all practitioners of sorcery, and leaves even underpants gnomes’ green with envy. There are no more cheap and easy to get resources to extract, and what’s even more concerning, there are no more habitats left to destroy on this planet. Mining the seabed, and stirring up all the carbon stored in the sediment, is just one of the most disastrous ideas… Oh, and as an aside, there is no more surplus energy from oil left to do all that additional digging, smelting, transportation and manufacturing, but that’s really just me nitpicking on some minor details.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Unsustainable Goose Chases

Unsustainable Goose Chases

As we look toward the uncertain future, it may occur to some among us that we’ll need energy on Mars. How are we going to get it? Presumably Mars has no fossil fuels—although on the plus side its atmosphere is already 95% CO2, compared to Earth’s 0.04%, so they’re likely to be less uptight about carbon emissions on the red planet.

At this point, we could launch into an extensive discussion, full of quantitative detail and analysis about the solar potential: insolation, materials availability, dust storm mitigation, and on and on. But the real answer to how we will get energy on Mars is probably: we won’t. We’re extremely unlikely to set up a permanent presence on Mars, if humans ever even go there at all. So the exercise would be of questionable value.

I feel similarly about discussions of full-scale renewable energy and associated storage and grid shenanigans. How will we rise to the challenge to keep modernity powered into the future? In all likelihood, we won’t. Besides the misdirection of “inexhaustible flows,” keeping modernity powered by any means looks like game-over for ecological health, and therefore humans, if pursued at all costs. So, enough with the fantasy schemes.

Why so bold? Glad you asked.

Past posts of mine have dealt with the question of what sustainability means, and associated timescales:

  1. Ultimate Success: thinking 10,000 years ahead, what’s still possible?
  2. Can Modernity Last?: an attempt to synthesize why continuance is not in the cards
  3. Sustainable Timescales: the relevant scope is that of biological evolution
  4. Inexhaustible Flows: the dead end of materials-hungry “renewable” energy technology

Additionally, The Simple Story of Civilization frames the current epoch as so mind-numbingly new and rapid that it boggles the mind how we could ever think of modernity as a normal time that might have staying power, rather than a fireworks show. It’s only because that’s all our short lives have shown us.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Telling the Truth About Our Future

Energy Aware II

Renewable energy is a poor substitute for fossil fuels. That’s because renewables are a diffuse form of energy and produce power only about one-third of the time.

That doesn’t stop renewable energy true-believers from trying to bend the laws of physics to tell a story that’s not true. EROI** (energy returned on energy invested) was used in this way by Murphy et al in 2022 and more recently, by Delannoy et al in late 2023.

Louis Delannoy and twenty-one co-authors proclaimed the good news in November that there is now a consensus that renewable energy is cheaper and more efficient than fossil fuels.

“The EROI of fossil-fueled electricity at point of end use is often found to be lower than those of PV, wind and hydro electricity, even when the latter include the energy inputs for short-term storage technologies.”

Emerging consensus on net energy paves the way for improved integrated assessment modeling

That’s not true. There is great uncertainty about EROI and a range of net energy values for every type of energy source. It’s a blunt instrument at best. It requires knowing an unknowable array of complex inputs and outputs to be anything more than a high-level guess.

First, let’s examine the easy part of their statement—“including storage technologies.” Lazard’s latest data shows that wind and solar are the most expensive forms of electric power once backup storage is included. Cost and EROI are not the same thing but they are related so it’s a red flag that Delannoy et al’s statement may be untrue.

The reference for their claim is a 2020 paper by one of the co-authors about modeling carbon emissions in California that included simulations for future solar PV EROI California is not the world, forward modeling is not historical data, and solar PV is not the renewable universe.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXXVIII–Magic Permeates Our Thinking About ‘Solutions’

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXXVIII

Knossos, Greece (1993). Photo by author.

Magic Permeates Our Thinking About ‘Solutions’

A few brief Facebook conversations I have had the past couple of days while I work on a longer Contemplation regarding binary thinking, particularly as it applies to sociopolitics.

The first shared this article featuring a picture of a massive ‘agrivoltaic’ project and entitled Sheep may soon graze under solar panels in one of Wyoming’s first ‘agrivoltaic’ projects.

My comment: All I can see is a shitload of ecological destruction in the wake of producing all those solar panels…all in the name of attempting to sustain the unsustainable.

GH: Steve Bull, it was never going to work burning 13 billion tonnes of coal oil and gas per year to keep the lights on . With at least another 2 billion people to add to the global population and up grade the remaining 80 per cent of the population to 1st World comfort

Me: GH, Nope, and all chasing ‘renewables’ is doing is exacerbating our ecological overshoot predicament.

GH: Steve Bull, i got no answers

Me: GH, There are none except what Nature has in store. The best our species can hope for is community mitigation/adaptation via relocalisation.

MC: Steve Bull, “Community mitigation/adaptation via relocalization”… Almost a bumper sticker… Thanks for that. I believe you are correct sir… How do we get on with this and how far can it be scaled up to include how many of us and how soon before the rest of us turn into a mob of armed hungry savages (strategy suggestions do not need to be pre-approved by ideologue peers and browbeaters [not that I notice that many in this in this group] and would be most welcome)…

Me: MC, I don’t have any suggestions beyond what I began last year: a community food gardening guild. Most people don’t want to hear the hard ‘facts’ on our predicament so I don’t discuss them with community members. Getting neighbours to begin and expand food gardening is the best I can offer in my suburban community on the outskirts of the sprawling city of Toronto. I do try to raise awareness of the insanity of pursuing the perpetual growth chalice by our politicians but, again, most people dismiss the notion so I do it infrequently.

TE: Steve Bull, and then a hailstorm hits and destroys the solar panels in about 3 minutes. Nice greenwash for intensive industrial agriculture tho

GH: TE, new panels have hail ratings .. although i see ( from reports ) hail is increasing in size

This second conversation is based upon this post:

My comment: There is nothing ‘sustainable’ about the complex, industrial products pictured here.

RH: Steve Bull, In this particular usage it means having energy forms that are renewable as opposed to those that are in the process of making life very hard if not impossible for a large percentage of the inhabitants of the world. You will notice for example that some of the people portrayed are growing plants.

Me: RH, Non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies are not sustainable and contribute to a host of ecologically-destructive processes, just as detrimental to the world’s inhabitants as hydrocarbons are. To say little of the fact that they depend significantly on hydrocarbon-based resources up and down their production and supply chains. Because of carbon emissions tunnel vision, these products are perceived as ‘clean/green’ but are nothing of the sort. They do zero to address our fundamental predicament of ecological overshoot. In fact, since ‘renewables’ have been additive to our energy use, there is a good argument to be made that our pursuit of them is simply exacerbating our predicament. Until we can stop our expansion/growth of both population and resource extraction/use, and reduce our energy/resource demands (significantly), then all the chatter about an ‘energy transition’ is just noise to help reduce our cognitive dissonance (and produce/sell more ecologically-destroying industrial products).

RH: Steve Bull, A significant part of the drive for sustainability is simply the reduction of wasteful uses of energy. And it isn’t simply chatter, there is a a lot of jobs and economic development involved in making our society more efficient.

Incidentally, there is now enough solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, and other renewables on stream now to cover the energy requirements of producing additional similar energy systems right up to and including getting rid of fossil fuels.

While there may be some environmental advocates who see with tunnel vision, it isn’t nearly the number of fossil fuel cranks who have had the blinders on, concerning the impacts on all the cartoon categories mentioned, for decades.

Me: RH, We will have to agree to disagree. You may wish to read this latest piece by physicist Tom Murphy. https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2024/02/inexhaustible-flows/

RH: Steve Bull Yeah, I have seen some of those before, the death by hockey sticks was a new one. Other than saying what we are doing in terms of our fellow mammals, is not sustainable, how does it relate to the jobs bill?

Me: RH, It’s about sustainability and creating “…lots of jobs and economic development…” are the exact opposite of what sustainability requires. We need degrowth.

RH: Steve Bull, I wouldn’t say it is the exact opposite, but rather part of a direction that we need to compromise on with respect to other factors like a just transition, conservation, land use, and economics.

GW: RH, bs

And, finally, this one posted by PW to the Peak Oil Facebook Group I am a member of:

SD: Ladies and gentlemen the future https://youtu.be/_3P_S7pL7Yg?si=n7C4Jg-bcrev-sEA

PW: SD, 😂🤣🥲😁😆…..we can’t even afford the infrastructure!!!

SD: PW, not really that expensive. Overhead wires for trolleys and busses were very common in the first half of the 20th century (1900s to 1950s.) The only reason they disappeared was because diesel became cheaper. But those days of cheap diesel are gone, and it wouldn’t take much to get the wires up again. In fact, it would create a lot of jobs. The only thing that is needed is the demand (electric trucks with cable attachments) and coordinated infrastructure development (government.) It’s the only solution.

PW: Here’s additional data of why the electric trolleys and other forms of transportation went out of business. Although GM was acquitted I feel that they somehow beat the charges with bribery and other means. You make it seem that the switch to electric as like hanging drapes. There is no solution. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_streetcar_conspiracy

Me: SD, Magical thinking solves everything.

SD: Steve Bull what’s magic about technology?

Me: SD, The idea that we have the resources (mineral and energy) to try and scale up to anywhere near replacement levels, that this can be done without further ecological systems destruction, that it can be accomplished without putting us further into ecological overshoot, and that we have the economic capacity to do this (because what’s a few quadrillion more in debt/credit?) are just a few examples off the top of my head of the magical thinking necessary to have complex industrial technology help to ‘solve’ anything in our future. Such thinking is simply exacerbating our predicament.

PW: Steve Bull, Instant Magical solutions sold here. https://www.britannica.com/art/deus-ex-machina

PS: Steve Bull, Yes, a concise summation of . . . the coming apocolypse

Renewables Are Not the Cheapest Form of Power

Energy Contrarian Featured Image

The CEO of TotalEnergies believes that the renewable transition will lead to higher—not lower—energy prices. That’s a very different view from the popular belief that renewable energy prices are falling so fast that electric power will become ever-cheaper.

“We think that fundamentally this energy transition will mean a higher price of energy.

“I know that there is a theory which says renewables are cheaper, so it will be a lower price. We don’t think so because a system where you [have] more renewable intermittency is less efficient . . . so we think it’s an interesting field to invest in.

Patrick Pouyanné

Many energy analysts and renewable promoters see things differently.

“Renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today.”

Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA

La Camera’s statement is based on a 2021 report by IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) that evaluated the levelized costs for renewable energy sources. The problem is that IRENA’s study only evaluated generation costs and did not account for electric power backup and storage costs. Since wind and solar are intermittent sources of electricity, the cost of natural gas backup or battery storage must be included in their levelized cost.

Lazard published a report in 2023 that includes backup and storage costs. The data indicates that electric power costs from wind and solar are about 21% more than from combined-cycle natural gas and 44% more than from coal (Figure 1). At first glance, that doesn’t seem like an unreasonable premium to pay for cleaner electric power.

The levelized cost for electric power from wind and solar with backup is 21% more than from combined-cycle natural gas and 44% more than from coal
Figure 1. The levelized cost for electric power from wind and solar with backup is 21% more than from combined-cycle natural gas and 44% more than from coal. Source: Lazard & Labyrinth Consulting Services, Inc.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXXVI–Confessions Of A Fossil Fuel Shill

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXXVI

Tulum, Mexico (1986). Photo by author.

Confessions Of A Fossil Fuel Shill

For anyone who has been following my writing over the past couple of years, you will know that I have been critical of non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies (aka ‘renewables’) and the ‘marketing’ that surrounds them[1]. My critiques are usually focused upon the resource limits and ecological systems-destruction blindness that appear prevalent in many (most? all?) of the mainstream narratives, and the subsequent cheerleading surrounding such products and their ability to transition us smoothly away from hydrocarbon-based fuels/products[2].

On top of this is the argument that as with much (most? all?) in our modern world, the pursuit of controlling/expanding revenue streams to sustain the power/wealth accumulation (and thus privilege/influence) of an ‘elite’ few of our species plays a key role in the narrative management surrounding these industrial products and their uptake; particularly the ‘Electrify Everything’ and ‘Net Zero’ stories[3]. It’s no secret that this is increasingly being accomplished through legislation under the guise of carbon emissions reduction to address concerns with climate change.

As a consequence of my highlighting the biogeochemical restrictions, negative ecological consequences, and the motivation behind the marketing and uptake of these industrial products, I have been the recipient of accusations regarding my motivation for pointing these aspects out. These have ranged from being labelled, in no particular order: a fossil fuel shill, conspiracy theorist, Big Oil accomplice, technophobia cult member, right wing (Republican) supporter, climate change denier, Malthusian doomer, left wing (Democrat) extremist, etc.[4].

And it’s not that I support the ongoing growth in complexities that hydrocarbons has brought. In fact, I have extensively highlighted that this resource has been one of the most significant catalysts to our ecological overshoot predicament and modern societal complexities[5]. Again and again I have pointed out that the rise in complexity of societies through time contributes to the recurring ‘collapse’ processes that pre/history has shown occur, and that hydrocarbons have contributed to this time the phenomena being important on a global scale.

I’ve also pointed out that I don’t criticise these non-renewable, renewable energy-products because I ‘hate’ them, and that I am not unfamiliar with them having constructed my own solar photovoltaic back-up system for my home[6]. I’ve simply come to the realisation and accepted that there are limits to their usefulness in supporting the extremely complex systems of our modern world, and that the industrial processes required to manufacture and dispose of/recycle them are costly in terms of ecological destruction and resource drawdown.

It seems to me that the failure to accept the limitations (and thus consequences) that these industrial technologies bring with them are for the most part ignored/denied or justified/rationalised away[7]. There is little if any recognition that not only is their pursuit adding to the destruction of our very important ecological systems, but that they are contributing to our resource drawdown rather than offsetting it, and making our ecological overshoot predicament worse.

Humanity is not ‘transitioning’ away from its unsustainable path but exacerbating it by both increasing the overshoot and decreasing the natural carrying capacity for our species through the pursuit of these complex, industrial products. And rather than acknowledge our mistaken choices, we are creating stories to double-down on them and attacking the messengers who point out our errant ways.

The vast majority of people are accepting of the dominant narratives because it helps to avoid the anxiety and stress of cognitive dissonance that arises otherwise[8]. What do you mean we can’t have our cake and eat it too? Hang on a minute, that’s not what we were promised…

In our mistaken beliefs that we stand above and beyond Nature, and that our tool (i.e., technology) innovativeness and use can address any issue/dilemma that arises, we continue our journey towards the inevitable consequences that any species experiencing significant overshoot must endure. In our uniquely human way, however, we are sharing stories to avoid this reality — because we can, and by doing so makes us feel better (or, at least, not as bad). We are avoiding pain to pursue pleasure. The most head-scratching to me are the ones that insist physical limits do not exist, and that infinite growth is indeed possible on a finite planet (with zero repercussions, of course).

In the end, we humans tend to believe what we want to believe regardless of evidence that challenges these beliefs. Rather than confront our misguided beliefs, we tend to justify/rationalise them. Our reactions to evidence that contradicts our views tend to be emotional in nature, lashing out at the naysayers and clinging more firmly to our beliefs because having our beliefs challenged is threatening to our personal identity and the social circle/echo chamber we live within[9].

And because we abhor uncertainty, we cling to the certainty espoused by our ‘leaders/authority figures’ even if it is wrong and leading to greater harm. It’s simply our way of avoiding anxiety-provoking thoughts and evidence for as long as we are able — forever if we can.

So, sure, call me a fossil fuel shill or engage in some other ad hominem attack if it makes you feel better when you don’t like what I’m saying about why non-renewable, renewable energy-products are no ‘solution’ to overshoot and that your promotion of them is actually making our predicament worse.

But make no mistake, the future ain’t what it used to be when we imagined it based upon a notion of limitless energy and other resources — not even close. We are, at our peril, ignoring the signals being sent by our planet and its other species in our ongoing narcissistic beliefs that Homo sapiens are in some way ‘special’ and above and beyond the reproach of Nature, the biogeophysical limits of existence upon a finite planet, and laws of the universe.

Payback for our behaviours is sure to be cruel and unforgiving. But then again, I’m just a Malthusian doomer and right-wing conspiracy theorist…or is that left-wing?

[1] See:
A ‘Solution’ to Our Predicaments: More Mass-Produced, Industrial Technologies. Blog Medium
-To EV Or Not To EV? One Of Many Questions Regarding Our ‘Clean/Green’ Utopian Future, Part 1
. Blog Medium
Electrify Everything: Neither ‘Green’ Nor ‘Sustainable’. Blog Medium Substack
Electrify Everything: The Wrong ‘Solution’. Blog Medium Substack

[2] See:
The Pursuit of ‘Renewables’: Putting Us Further Into Ecological Overshoot. Medium
Roadblocks to Our ‘Renewable’ Energy Transition: Debt, Resource Constraints, and Diminishing Returns. Medium
Ignoring Ecological Systems Destruction. Medium
‘Renewables’: Virtuous Circles, Resource Limits, and Ecological Systems. Medium

[3] See:
Finite Energy, ‘Renewables’, and the Ruling Elite. Blog Medium Substack
‘Renewables’, Electrify Everything and Marketing Propaganda. Blog Medium Substack
‘Net Zero’ Policies: Propaganda To Support Continued Economic Growth. Blog Medium Substack
The Ruling Class: Chasing Growth Regardless Of the Consequences. Blog Medium

[4] See:
Thou Shall Not Disturb the ‘Renewables’ Force. Medium
Criticising ‘Renewables’ is Not a Sin. Blog Medium Substack
Sometimes People Don’t Want to Hear the Truth. Blog Medium Substack
Differing Opinions On ‘Renewables’. Medium

[5] See:
Finite Energy, Overconsumption, and Magical Thinking Through Denial. Medium Substack
Fossil Fuels: Contributing to Complexity and Overshoot. Blog Medium Substack
Ecological Overshoot, Hydrocarbon Energy, and Biophysical Reality. Blog Medium Substack
Surplus Energy From Hydrocarbons: Another Predicament Catalyst. Medium

[6] See:
Personal Experience With ‘Renewables’. Medium

[7] See:
Infinite Growth, Finite Planet; What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Blog Medium Substack
Growth Greenwashing: A Comforting Narrative. Blog Medium Substack
‘Renewables’ and the Overton Window That Ignores Biophysical Realities. Blog Medium Substack
Climate Emergency Action Plan: Electrification and Magical Thinking. Blog Medium Substack

[8] See:
Grieving: There Are No ‘Solutions’ to Overshoot. Blog Medium Substack
‘Clean’ Energy and the Stages of Grieving. Blog Medium Substack
Magical Thinking to Help Avoid Anxiety-Provoking Thoughts. Blog Medium
Magical Thinking About the Energy Transition. Medium

[9] See this, this, this, and/or this.

We Are Not Mining with Renewable Energy

We Are Not Mining with Renewable Energy

…and when we do, shit is going to get real

The way we like to think of “renewables”. No smoke, just green fields and a clear blue sky… Photo by Serge Le Strat on Unsplash

There are no “renewables” without mining, an unsustainable practice turbocharged by burning fossil fuels. Yet, advocates of green technologies still believe that we could somehow electrify the recovery of critical minerals, and continue with civilization in a “business as usual but greener” manner. In reality, this could not be further from the truth.

Before we delve into the topic of using renewables to continue extracting metals from Earth’s crust, let’s tackle the environmental aspects of this activity. And while at it, let me also draw your attention to the deep and intimate relationship mining has with burning fossil fuels. What a fascinating — but also disastrous — symbiosis of technologies…

Perhaps it’s no exaggeration to say that the term “building a mine” is actually an euphemism for environmental destruction on a truly industrial scale. First of all, opening a site for mineral extraction inevitably comes with destroying a green blanket of a living habitat. It takes large harvesting machines cutting down all those trees and shrubs — all powered by burning diesel fuel, as there are no power plugs nearby to do all this with electrified chainsaws. Then a bunch of diesel guzzling excavators and bulldozers are brought on site to build roads leading to the would be mining site. Next, a fleet of trucks arrive to haul all those logs away — again, by burning diesel — as the distance and load is usually far-far beyond what an electric semi could cover.

Plumes of diesel smoke everywhere. Photo by Dominik Vanyi on Unsplash

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Delusions of Davos and Dubai – Part Three: Alternatives to Wind & Solar Energy

The Delusions of Davos and Dubai – Part Three: Alternatives to Wind & Solar Energy

If the delusional but dead serious demands coming out of the international climate crisis community are to be believed, and as documented in the earlier two segments of this report, achieving universal energy security in the world will require wind energy capacity to increase by a factor of 60, while solar capacity increases by a factor of 100. The mix between wind and solar can vary, of course, but the required overall increase is indisputable. As noted in Part One of this report, that would be a very best-case scenario, where extraordinary improvements in energy efficiency meant that total energy production worldwide would only have to increase to 1,000 exajoules per year, from an estimated 600 exajoules in 2022.

Finally, and as explained in Part Two, this is preposterous. Wind and solar energy cannot possibly increase in global capacity by a multiple of 50-100 times. It is utterly infeasible. As noted, “The uptick in mining, the land consumed, the expansion of transmission lines, the necessity for a staggering quantity of electricity storage assets to balance these intermittent sources, the vulnerability of wind and solar farms to weather events including deep freezes, tornadoes, and hail, and the stupefying task of doing it all over again every 20-30 years as the wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and storage batteries reach the end of their useful lives—all of this suggests procuring 90+ percent of global energy from wind and solar energy is a fool’s errand.”

One may nonetheless argue that other forms of energy can supplement wind and solar in order to still fulfill the climate community’s goal to completely displace oil, natural gas, and coal. But what then, and in what proportions? Here are the alternatives:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLV–Chasing Maladaptive Strategies

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLV

March 24, 2022 (original posting date)

Knossos, Greece (1988) Photo by author

Chasing Maladaptive Strategies

Today’s very short contemplation was in response to a post I was asked to comment upon that calls for sociopolitical ‘leadership’ to ‘tackle’ natural disasters that have been linked to the climate crisis.

I believe that most still don’t understand that the existential predicaments we are experiencing are but symptoms of the over-arching predicament of ecological overshoot[1]. Until and unless we acknowledge our overshoot we seem to be chasing maladaptive strategies in attempts to deal with its catastrophic symptoms and, in my opinion, asking the wrong people to address the situation.

For example, most people, in their well-intentioned desire to confront the effects of climate change, believe that if we abandon fossil fuel use and transition to some alternative (that has been mislabeled ‘green/clean’ and ‘sustainable’), we can maintain our energy-intensive complexities. Understanding that energy-harvesting technologies (e.g., solar, wind, wave, nuclear) not only depend upon the fossil fuel platform but upon finite resources that require a continuation of environmentally-/ecologically-destructive processes to retrieve and refine radically alters how one should perceive our path forward.

We need to be pursuing radical degrowth in all its iterations, from population to economics. Modern living standards of advanced economies (even of ‘emerging’ economies) are not in any way shape or form sustainable on a finite planet. If we cannot accept this and acknowledge that this needs to guide our responses and actions, then we are in all likelihood destined (some argue it is all but guaranteed) to experience the collapse that always accompanies overshoot. And such collapse will only increase in severity when it eventually occurs if we continue to chase misguided ‘solutions’ that further reduce the natural carrying capacity of the planet.

Given that our sociopolitical systems are built on power/wealth structures that for some time now have come to rely almost exclusively upon chasing the perpetual growth chalice, it seems to me that looking to them to correct our path is completely misplaced and increasingly more destructive in the end. Their tendency is to talk a good talk about addressing issues but when push comes to shove they almost always leverage such crises to their own advantage in one way or another to expand upon and prolong the Ponzi schemes they preside over[2].

As I argued in a recent article[3], people: “are encouraged to focus on relocalising the basic aspects of living (i.e., potable water procurement, food production, and regional shelter needs) as much as possible and reconnect with community members who will be your primary supports as things go increasingly sideways. Do not put your faith in our so-called political ‘leaders’. Despite their propaganda, they do not have your best interests at the top of their agendas; if such an incentive even makes the agenda except perhaps around election time when the marketing of more, more, more really blossoms. Because, you know, more is in your best interest…only it’s not.”

Yes, we need to shut down our fossil fuel industry but we also need to realise there is no ‘replacement’ for the significant energy it supplies society. The post-carbon world will be radically, and I mean radically, different than today. The illusion of a modern utopia with electric vehicles and all the accoutrements painted by the techno-cornucopian snake oil salesmen (that are little more than grifters lining their pockets) must be abandoned if we are to have any hope of getting through the bottleneck we have created for our species and most others on this planet.

Please consider visiting my website and helping to support its continuation through the purchase of my ‘fictional’ collapse trilogy: Olduvai.

[1] If you have yet to read William Catton Jr.’s Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, I highly recommend it. It is fundamental to understanding overshoot. You can find my personal summary notes here.

[2] I use the term Ponzi scheme intentionally given the fact that such contrivances require continual growth to keep from collapsing and that they are, for all intents and purposes, rackets that benefit a few at the expense of the many participants.

[3] https://stevebull-4168.medium.com/todays-contemplation-collapse-cometh-xliv-b81abc961f4c

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLII–Criticising ‘Renewables’ is Not a Sin

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLII

March 1, 2022 (original posting date)

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Criticising ‘Renewables’ is Not a Sin

The following ‘contemplation’ follows on the heels of a discussion I began with another within a Facebook group I am a member of. The post and dialogue can be found here. Suffice it to say, I was, as has happened numerous times, criticised for a comment that challenged an argument for accelerating our shift from fossil fuels to ‘renewable’ technologies.

What follows is my response to their response to my comment that suggested we need to simplify our existence and not accelerate our pursuit of environmentally-/ecologically-destructive and complex technologies.

Let me respond to each of your paragraphs:

First, indeed humans have harnessed wind and water power for millennia but using far, far less complex and resource-intensive technologies and for far, far fewer humans so their impact on the environment has been multiple times less, and during times when numerous biophysical limits had yet to be broached or nearing such overshoot. You then create a straw man implying I am arguing to return to the ‘Stone Age’, which I did not[1]. I left open the nature of any type of ‘simplicity’ that we should be aiming for but there’s a good argument to be made that ‘simple’ windmills/waterwheels for far fewer humans than currently exist may be the only ‘sustainable’ option[2]. What I did argue is that we need to NOT seek complex technologies that continue the destruction of the planet as our ‘modern’ harnessing of wind/solar/water do; facts you have completely glossed over[3].

Second, to point out the significant issues with non-renewable renewables (NRRs), does not necessarily feed into the ‘climate change denial, fossil fuel fundamentalism’ you accuse me of[4]. This is another straw man based upon a complete lack of contextual interpretation of my comment, and continued ignorance of the environmental destructiveness issue I raise; to say little of the reality that a massive push to accelerate the processes needed to produce NRRs would require massive fossil fuel inputs (and lots of other finite resources; thus the reason they are non-renewable). I am as concerned about continued fossil fuel extraction and its impacts as I am about all the other resource extractions we continue to rely upon (and expand as diminishing returns increase in severity).

Third, I would argue we are not where we are primarily because of fossil fuels (although they have likely sped up our predicament) but because of our propensity to expand and create complex societies based upon a number of finite resources. Humanity has shown its complex societies have been ‘unsustainable’ from the very first ones, long before fossil fuels ever came into the picture — every complex society that has ever existed has eventually ‘collapsed’ due to diminishing returns on investments in complexity[5], and accelerating an adoption of NRRs fits into this perfectly; they require significantly increased inputs compared to outputs (while continuing to destroy our biosphere[6]).

Keep in mind that resource ‘wars’ far, far predate our past few decades of fighting over oil and gas (resources that, unfortunately, underpin our current massive global complexities and footprint). Fossil fuels have simply expedited our propensity to overshoot our local carrying capacity and taken it global in nature. It is this, ecological overshoot, that is our predicament; the consequences of which we increasingly appear to be unable to avoid because we’re misdiagnosing/misinterpreting it (and have been for some decades). I would argue that there is nothing that is ‘sustainable’ for close to 8 billion humans. Nothing, probably not even ‘Stone Age’ hunting-and-gathering.

By all means, let’s transition away from fossil fuels but let’s not exacerbate our predicament by chasing the wrong path that is increasingly being shown to be just as detrimental to our species and all the other ones we depend upon. If we are not talking significant degrowth and simplification, then we are just creating comforting narratives to reduce our cognitive dissonance[7].

Having said all this, however, I am convinced we will attempt the push into NRRs that you advocate as we slide down the Seneca cliff of resource/energy availability. For, after all, the ruling class[8] that controls/influences the mainstream narratives (and what most people think/believe) stand to profit handsomely from the effort for they also control/influence all the industries and financial institutions that are required to pursue such a path. The result will surely be a trajectory further into ecological overshoot and thus a more massive ‘collapse’ (which always accompanies a species overshooting its environment). Nature always bats last and we continue to deny this and end up putting ourselves in greater danger. And, unfortunately, it would seem even a lot of the most well-intentioned individuals and groups are cheerleading us along the wrong path.

[1] While I did not suggest we would return to the ‘Stone Age’ that may indeed be the endgame of our unknowable future. In fact, some of humanity may be ‘lucky’ to make it through the bottleneck we have created and actually live in a ‘Stone Age’ type way. Time will tell.

[2] What might be ‘sustainable’ depends upon a host of factors, most importantly the number of humans and the nature of their living standards. More resource-dependent living standards necessarily means far fewer humans can be supported.

[3] The industrial processes necessary to create and produce the current technologies to harness wind, water, and solar energy are highly finite resource-dependent (including fossil fuels) and require significant mining, transportation, refining, and construction processes that result in concomitant waste production; both toxic and non-toxic in nature.

[4] It seems any criticism of ‘renewables’ is immediately construed by many as being in favour of continued fossil fuel extraction and use. This seems to me to be more of an instantaneous emotional reaction than a considered interpretation of the context in which such criticism is made. Such dichotomous thinking, while a common defense mechanism, prevents one from seeing the complexities and nuances of situations and distorts perceptions.

[5] See archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies.

[6] https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/14/15/4508/htm?fbclid=IwAR2ISt5shfV4wpFEc8jxbQnrrxyllyvZP-xDnoHhWrjGTQRIqUNfk3hOK1g



[7] My discussion here doesn’t even begin to elaborate on all the additional ‘headwinds’ we are bumping up against besides resource limits and overloading of planetary sinks, a significant one being the massive ‘debt’ that currently exists. With debt being, more or less, a claim on future energy we are in substantially more dire straits than it appears on the surface due to significant debt obligations and the Ponzi-like nature of our financial/monetary/economic systems. Most, if not all, economic activity could find itself collapsing completely with the implosion of the debt bubbles that exist far before resource limits bring it all crashing down; to say little about the impact of geopolitical stressors.

[8] I use the term ‘ruling class’ as a catch-all for those individuals/families/groups that sit atop a complex society’s power and wealth structures; and whose prime motivation is the expansion/control of the wealth-generation/-extraction systems which they tend to control/own/influence.

A Renewable Energy Future Will Collapse the Financial System

Energy Contrarian Featured Image

Energy is the economy. That’s a radical concept because most people think that the economy runs on money. It doesn’t.

What is energy? It is the potential or capacity to do work. The economy runs on work. That’s why energy is the economy. That’s simple.

What is money? That’s a little more complex.

“Money is not the value for which goods are exchanged, but the value by which they are exchanged.”

John Law

In other words, money has no inherent value. Economists often attempt to change the subject by pointing out that money is at least a medium of exchange, a store of value or a unit of account. The same, however, could be said for cigarettes that were used as money in Communist Romania in the 1980s.

“Society runs on energy and materials, but most people think it runs on money…[Money] is created as debt subject to mathematical laws of compound interest…Money eventually gets spent on a good or service which will contain embodied energy. Money is a claim on energy yet its creation is not tethered to energy availability or cost.”

N. J. Hagens

In the end, money–as paper, coins, gold or cigarettes–is just a financial claim on energy, a marker, a unit of account. For example, I may contract someone to do work for me—to build a fence or to move some heavy equipment—and we agree on a payment amount. I pay him dollars for his physical work (joules). He may then use those dollars to buy food (joules), gasoline for his car (joules) or contract someone else’s labor to do some work for him (joules). Money is the medium of exchange but the value exchanged is energy.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

“Worried About Next Two Months”: Solar Firms Running Out Of Cash In California

“Worried About Next Two Months”: Solar Firms Running Out Of Cash In California

The solar industry in California is facing significant headwinds following the implementation of a new policy in April, which reduced incentives that had encouraged homeowners to install solar systems.

Bloomberg reports the California Solar & Storage Association has found about 63% of its 400 solar installer members have reported cash flow issues because the new policy crushed consumer demand.

Since last April, sales of rooftop solar systems across the state have crashed 85% in the most recent months of 2023 compared to similar periods one year before, according to solar firm Ohm Analytics.

On Wednesday, California Solar and Storage Association Executive Director Bernadette Del Chiaro told an audience at the Intersolar North America conference in San Diego that 25 to 30 solar companies have already closed shop or abandoned the state.

“We are worried about the next two months,” she said. “We think a lot more fallout may be coming.” 

Besides a reduction in incentives, higher interest rates and expensive panels have also curbed demand. This means that solar installers have a dismal pipeline of work through the year’s first half.

Meanwhile, a Bloomberg MLIV Pulse survey of professional and retail investors from late last year found the green energy downturn will last well into 2024.

iShares Global Clean Energy ETF has nearly roundtriped Covid lows.

The ownership portfolio of the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF shows solar, wind, and hydrogen stocks have been clubbed like a baby seal over the past year.

Olduvai IV: Courage
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