Friday, April 24, 2015

Will the next big crash be the last one?

As our civilization runs into limits to growth, there are several ways to analyze the situation, all with some validity in their own ways. One might for example think of limits in relation to ecosystem services, pollution and climate change, and these are certainly major challenges that I don't mean to trivialize. But surely the fatal limit we are likely to run into first is worthy of the most attention? If Gail Tverberg is right, our most immediate limitation might be described as "peak finance." She believes the financial aspect of our predicament is capable of bringing the whole system down long before anything else and probably will very soon.

Commodity prices are low now, so most people assume resources are still abundant and we can't possibly be close to the end of industrial production. But limits are manifesting in a way mainstream commentators didn't expect. It comes down to two key words which are really two sides of the same coin: profitability and affordability. In our market economy, commodities must be priced at a level which is both profitable for producers and affordable for consumers at the same time. Unfortunately, sustainable prices are by no means guaranteed by forces of nature or economics. When prices can't rise above production costs, we are in serious trouble even if it doesn't seem that way at first. This kind of unsustainable situation has in fact already arrived, if Gail's view is correct. In this comment on her blog she sums up exactly what she thinks will happen:
It depends on how quickly the failure of banks brings the whole system down. I think the most likely scenario is that the next big crash is the last one. We had a big crash in 2008, and were temporarily saved from it. The next one seems likely to be much bigger, and thus to be much harder to avoid the consequences of. 
My expectation is that oil prices will go lower than they are now, and that debt defaults will start hitting the system. Some of these defaults will relate to derivative bets gone wrong. This will start hitting in the next few months. We should be feeling the effects by late in 2015 or early 2016. Oil production will start going down in 2015, and we won’t be able to get it back up again. 
I don’t see prices bouncing back up again much, expect perhaps briefly in the next few months (and probably to less than $100 barrel), as people speculate that our problems are temporary. I don’t think shale drillers will be able to qualify for more debt, and this will prevent production from increasing again. There will be similar problems with new oil sands investment.
I recommend reading Our Finite World to understand the nature of what will be the worst disaster in human history and the end of industrial civilization. Gail does not offer any solutions, though, because she does not believe there are any. If perchance there are ways to avoid or mitigate the collapse, now would be a good time to work them out, because we are running out of time.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peak oil also means peak renewables

Mainstream experts on energy promote some incredible beliefs. Today I was reminded just how fantastical are their beliefs by a conversation on Twitter with oil analyst Thina Saltvedt. She claims that thanks to technological progress, renewables can be scaled up at the same time as fossil fuels are scaled down. She doesn't dispute that peak oil will happen, and we even agree that peak demand will probably happen first, but we have very different beliefs about what this means for the future of industrial civilization.

According to the mainstream narrative, peak demand is nothing to worry about. By this logic, the prices of oil and other commodities are now dropping because we no longer need so much of these materials -- and if we did, prices would surely rise again to enable extraction. I have explained in a series of posts why contrary to popular belief, the oil price is not obliged to rise just because we need it to. Let me now address the other common fallacy: the notion that renewable energy can be scaled up in the face of peak oil (or peak demand, for that matter).

Most people, including celebrated experts on the subject, seem to think of renewable energy products as emanating from an alternative universe where fossil fuels play no role. All we have to do is send money to this parallel universe to get windmills and solar cells and so on in return. In reality, of course, we have at best externalized most of their production to places like China, but renewables still very much demand fossil energy input at every stage. There is not a single factory in existence capable of producing industrial renewable energy products using only renewable energy as input to itself and all associated supply lines. We are in fact so far away from this scenario that it boggles the mind to even contemplate. We would have to remake our entire civilization from scratch! And probably break the second law of thermodynamics, too.

So where would you get the energy from to scale up renewable energy even as fossil energy is scaled down? We know that nature doesn't provide energy loans. All the energy needed to produce a solar panel or windmill must be available before you can get any energy back, and then it takes several years just to break even. So are we to believe that the extra energy is going to come from renewables themselves? Because there is no other way if fossil fuels are leaving us, whether by peak demand or peak supply. Can renewables really break out of the fossil-fuel-based economy and reproduce themselves?

This is where it gets impossible. Proponents of renewable energy often claim that the EROEI of windmills is in some high ballpark like 25 or 50, so they must be sustainable. But you can't just look at EROEI in one small corner of the system and conclude that the whole system can work. When you factor in other things, such as energy storage or how to maintain the roads or have a functioning financial system or how to provide education and health care, renewables don't look so good anymore. People like Gail Tverberg have helped me understand that it is the whole system that is unsustainable. It took considerable reading before it became intuitive to me that renewables can't work. The issues are too complex sum up in a simplistic notion like EROEI, but the more I learn, the clearer it becomes that we can't make the transition.

Even if a transition to renewables could theoretically have been accomplished, we are out of time. Thirty years ago we might have had a shot at it, but not now. We had a one-time gift of fossil energy that could at least have sustained industrial civilization for very long time if we had used it wisely, but we didn't. We have no prospect of remaking industrial civilization to run on renewables when things are falling apart because we lack the energy to maintain the current system. Peak oil thus inexorably means peak renewables as well.

Take a look at the Tverberg estimate of future energy production again, which shows peak renewables at the same time as peak oil and everything else. I would be grateful if Thina Saltvedt or other cornucopians could explain how we can possibly defy this energy graph and have a future based on renewables. Because I sure don't see a way.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Depletion, aging and deflation

To understand why it is irrational to expect oil prices to increase in the face of depletion, consider the analogy of human aging. Aging entails progressively depleting strength similar to what is going on with natural resource extraction. Imagine a man doing manual labor. In his prime he is good at it, but as he grows old his productivity obviously declines, and so does his earning power in most cases. It would be delusional to expect a 90-year-old man to be paid more per hour for hard physical labor than a 20-year-old. Yet bizarrely, this is what we expect from oil. We expect oil to be worth more as it becomes scarcer and harder to extract and returns less and less net energy on our investments. I used to believe so myself before I got into the peak oil scene, but now I see how foolish this entire line of reasoning is. High oil prices will not save us from peak oil. On the contrary, too low oil prices will be the proximate cause of peak oil, and it is happening now.

To take the analogy further, consider a workforce of aging workers, with less and less vigorous young men to replace them. Attempting to power industrial civilization on shale oil and tar sands and the like -- or renewable energy, for that matter -- would be equivalent to expecting 90-year-olds to do all the work, and be paid more for it than we used to pay men in their primes. It is impossible, and things fall apart. Unfortunately, this is our immediate fate.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why deflation is the endgame, conceptually explained

To intuitively understand why deflation is the endgame of our civilization, divide people into miners and everyone else. The miners are everyone in the business of extracting nonrenewable resources, such as oil and metals. Miners are indisputably subject to diminishing returns as we consume the highest ore grades first, which means rising inefficiency and increased costs for every unit produced. Therefore, to keep civilization running, society must allocate increasing amounts of resources to the miners at the expense of everyone else. In other words, we get poorer, and poorer people are able to pay less, rather than more, for commodities. As natural resources get depleted, it therefore follows from the law of supply and demand that commodity prices will go down, rather than up as is commonly and erroneously assumed. Perhaps this becomes clearer if "demand" is understood as "affordability," without which there can be no demand. As their income falls below costs of production, miners will be forced out of business and the necessities of life will no longer be available to humanity. Some people imagine that they can "save" for this eventuality by hoarding gold or whatever, but that is a delusion because the operational fabric of industrial civilization will be broken, so even the simplest amenities such as a toothbrush or toilet paper will not be available at any price. It will be truly horrific for everyone and we have no contingency plan, nothing to collapse back to except the Stone Age.

So, are we there yet? Considering the ongoing price crash with regard to oil and other commodities, I think there is a strong possibility that this is it. Again, I have to credit Gail Tverberg with explaining how increased depletion leads to falling oil prices, or else I would be just as clueless as most people. She is kind of verbose, however, and uses lots of graphs and supporting data which is all very important, but not really needed to grasp what is going on intuitively. So maybe my putting it into few words can help more people understand. She thinks we have at most two years of business as usual left, and then collapse will occur by the end of 2016. And the only remedy she can come up with is to pray for divine intervention.

If you understand how this works, you will quit worrying about comparatively distant issues such as climate change and realize that falling commodity prices is the most ominous problem of our times. Of course, the problem may well morph into something else before it becomes obvious that there is a resource crisis, such as another World War or a crippling financial crisis. But even if we avoid any other major disturbances, deflation will kill us rather soon. After oil prices go too low to encourage further exploration and drilling, for example, the depletion rate of existing oil wells will be at best about 6% per year. So imagine the economy shrinking by 6% as a best-case scenario. Our financial system is not arranged to handle orderly degrowth, however, so most likely there will be a much more rapid collapse instead, in one way or another.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A remedy for peak oil

In a fascinating TED talk, designer Thomas Thwaites explains how he tried to build a toaster from scratch, using only preindustrial tools and methods. Even though a toaster is one of the simplest industrial products available, of course such a project is doomed to fail, because it takes an entire civilization to make a toaster. Thwaites even cheated quite a lot, using a leaf blower and microwave oven and many other tools that he couldn't possibly have made himself, and electricity was just assumed, yet he could only produce a crude imitation of a toaster. Amazingly, his homemade toaster actually worked for five seconds, but that was it.

When you consider how many things we take for granted and depend on that would go away without the operational fabric of industrial civilization, it becomes clear that it is supremely important to preserve this system if we would like to go on living comfortably or at all. We can't even make a pencil without industrial civilization. Unfortunately, peak oil is the elephant in the room which threatens the very fabric of our civilization along with our ability to make toasters and pencils and just about everything else, yet public awareness treats peak oil as a complete non-issue, or at most like just another factor in the economy which might slow down growth a little bit. Even the most pessimistic economists in the mainstream talk about temporarily slower growth and never anything worse. It is downright surreal.

Everyone understands that if you want civilization, then elementary schools and hospitals need to exist even if they can't make a profit. Energy is even more basic to our civilization, and crude oil is our most critically important energy source, yet strangely everyone (in Norway, at least) expects oil companies to be profitable or go out of business. So why is the oil industry simply allowed to collapse? I find it very strange that the market is assumed to sort things out and meet our needs in the face of rising costs and declining wages. Somehow, the law of supply and demand is supposed to solve all energy and commodity problems, and we don't need to take any action whatsoever to produce these goods ourselves if we can't make a profit on them. Demand is always assumed to materialize at any price needed to produce the things we need, even though the opposite is happening before our eyes. This model is outdated and it clearly doesn't work anymore, because the oil industry is no longer profitable. I believe mankind is losing its ability to afford the necessities of life, at least not by means of the market economy, which is in the grips of deflationary forces.

So here is what I would do in response to the current oil price crash. The Norwegian government should guarantee the price of oil from the Norwegian continental shelf at, say, $80 per barrel and back it up with our Petroleum Fund. This way we have over 800 billion dollars to throw at it, and I can't imagine a better way to use this wealth because it will be obliterated by peak oil in any event. The price guarantee would encourage petroleum companies to keep investing in the North Sea, and the sustained activity would also benefit the entire Norwegian economy as we have been accustomed to. If the price of oil goes back up above $80, nothing happens, and if it stays below, the government will pay the difference or buy the oil for $80 and put it in strategic storage or whatever. Instead of expecting profits, projects should be evaluated based on EROEI, and all projects with a sensible EROEI (at least 5, perhaps?) should be approved for this price guarantee.

The time has come to stop expecting profits from the oil industry, but rather subsidize it to the hilt. I realize Norway is one of very few countries in the world able to do this, and we only represent 2.8% of global oil production. I suppose OPEC is in a sense already doing it, since they insist on selling all they can at any price. Most oil exporters would collapse without the profits and they are in no position to subsidize oil exports for long. But we should do what we can. This remedy will not solve the problem of peak oil, but it might buy us a little more time, in which we can try to come up with more sustainable strategies. If our politicians understood the gravity of the situation, they would do it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Deflationary collapse is underway

As a reader of Gail Tverberg's blog Our Finite World, I am privy to the fact that our world is soon collapsing. This is an open secret expounded in broad daylight and even in a friendly commercial-free environment, yet most people will never grasp it. The masses will starve to death or otherwise perish in the collapse thinking it is a political problem, and if only we had voted a different party into power who would have made some better decisions, things would have worked out. That is nonsense because we are facing a physical and ecological problem, to which there is no political solution. While I would love to be proven wrong, I have almost as much confidence in Gail's prediction of imminent collapse as the Second Law of thermodynamics, to which it is closely related. People who think sustainability is possible or renewables can save us have basically no knowledge of these issues. Likewise for people who obsess over climate change, which is rather like preparing to fight World War II before World War I. Read Gail's posts and comments, check her references and especially pay attention to the way she replies to all comments and convincingly debunks any kind of optimism, and it shall be intuitive to you too that we are collapsing.

I don't expect anyone to believe this simply because I say so. The impossibility of continuing our industrial civilization cannot be expressed in a single indicator or a few sentences. Declining EROEI comes close, but as Gail often points out, EROEI is not the whole story. You have to be willing to look at the whole picture and the various ways we are running into diminishing returns, which is something very few people can be bothered with. You have to understand concepts such as Liebig's law of the minimum, White's law, Jevon's paradox, the Constructal law, the concept of dissipative structures, the Maximum Power Principle and the Seneca cliff. You have to understand that life is in the business of entropy maximization, and now doing such a fabulously good job at it that the party will inevitably be over soon.

The meaning of life (at the level of physics, which rules biology) is to produce entropy. We are dissipative structures who came into being because entropy is created faster by our existence, considering the whole system. Dissipative structures arise in response to energy differentials. Our economy is also a dissipative system, whose function is to create entropy out of fossil hydrocarbons, which represent the greatest energy differential known to man. That is the only thing our economy knows how to do at this point, and when it fails to grow anymore it will collapse. Once again, you have to learn more about all these concepts to understand why it MUST collapse. Then you will understand that we need to preserve the whole industrial system to have any of it, which requires exponential growth since the whole thing is built on debt. Growth is no longer possible due to diminishing returns, so our economy must collapse. In time, other dissipative structures will emerge, but they will not be as grand or complex because the energy available to them is much too diffuse to produce anything like our industrial civilization. And all this glory was brought down by low oil prices, which is the proximate limit that we cannot defeat. Peak oil precipitated by low oil prices is exactly what Gail predicted (in December 2013 she explained why “oil prices don’t rise high enough” is the real limit), and it is happening now!

And not just oil, but all major commodities are now subject to deflation. Coal is also critically important, of course, and it is becoming unprofitable to extract as well. Deflationary collapse is thus already underway. The oil price will not go back up to the needed level of $100 or more per barrel. Instead, it will continue to decline until we are dead. If the oil price does go back up, it will only be a brief and useless spike because the world economy can no longer sustain such high prices. This is not a matter of OPEC limiting production, because that would have been futile anyway. The financial system is the operating system that the hardware of our civilization runs on, and it is totally dependent on growth to function at all. At some point within the next few years this system will seize up, leading to broken industrial supply lines, and there will be a forced localization of our economy. Since we can produce almost nothing locally in a world dependent on globalization, there will be immense suffering and a huge die-off. Any survivors will be limited to Stone Age technology or at best manual agriculture. The number of survivors could be as low as 100 million or probably no more than 10% at best.

There is nothing we can do to save industrial civilization or the bulk of humanity. Any attempt to prepare at a societal level will run afoul of the reflexivity trap and accelerate the problem by engendering fear and desperation. Any individual coping strategy is so fraught with risks as to be meaningless. You can prepare in various ways if you feel like it, but there is no guarantee it will do you any good the day business as usual (the legendary "BAU") ends. The end of BAU also means the end of all social movements, so our work as antifeminists will be done. Peak oil will destroy our enemies as surely as it will destroys us.

The best thing we can do now is to enjoy what we have until it is gone. Be thankful for the wonderful wealth we have. Marvel at the amenities of industrial civilization and the power of your hundreds of personal energy slaves. That is arguably not a bad thing to do even if I am wrong. Most people think of civilization as a permanent state that they simply take for granted. They think they will have access to things like hot showers, dentistry, pharmaceuticals, security and plenty of food as long as they live. The Olduvai theory tells us the lifespan of industrial civilization is more like 100 years, and even if it drags out a bit longer it will have been a mere blip. We shall soon find out if this turns out to be right. I think 2015 will be the year of the peak. This prediction will fail if commodity prices go back up and stay there, but that isn't happening, is it?

Sunday, November 09, 2014

I'll Take My Stand

My compensation case is going to trial.
On the Fourth of July in 2012 I was arrested, jailed and charged with criminal incitement because of my no-nonsense approach to men's rights. I have stated bluntly that cops are our enemies and I hate their guts. I have said in no uncertain terms that I wish them the worst, making it clear that I morally support violent activism against cops, for revenge and more importantly with the aim of influencing legislators to reverse feminist sex law reforms. Make no mistake, the gender war is a civil war where it all comes down to sex laws such as the definition of rape, age of consent, child porn laws, sexual harassment laws, grooming laws, criminalization of the purchase of sex and so on, and law enforcement is our actual enemy in the real world. As men's rights activists (MRAs), we are intensely aware of the fact that our ideology is mutually hateful to the prevailing norms of (feminist) society. I know I am so different from the man in the street, or should I say the mangina in the street, that there is no political party I can vote for. Our mutual hatred is far stronger than most people realize, because the great unwashed do not fully comprehend the scope of the sex laws that they tacitly support. But MRAs do, and that is our defining characteristic along with the hatred that these laws breed in us. If you conform to political correctness like most people, we hate you for criminalizing our sexuality and your willingness to hurt us just for being normal men. To mince no words: I am ideologically aligned with violent activism. Please understand that this is an exposition of my moral convictions and not an incitation to commit such crimes. I believe the most honorable response to state feminism is for men to inflict damage on society (and I hasten to add preferably not by violent means; simply refusing to contribute to society can be sufficient if enough men do it) to the point where all the odious feminist-reformed sex laws do more harm than good to women when you include our activism in the equation. Our hearts and souls are seething with hatred against the feminist state and its enforcers. Simply put, men's rights activism is all about politicizing and radicalizing sex offenders -- which by now is synonymous with men -- in order to hurt the state enough to give up its war against male sexuality (and to some extent female sexuality as well, since some women also become victims of feminist sex laws).

My published opinions are perfectly sincere and I was certainly guilty as charged as far as all the facts go, but there was one problem with the prosecution's case: None of this is against the law. While I am not exactly concerned with respecting the law in a moral sense (quite the opposite; in fact my entire blog is about resisting the normative power of laws and turn back the tide of feminist legislation), I know intuitively what freedom of speech is, and as a practical matter I made sure not to cross the line into criminal speech as defined by the Norwegian penal code. Thus I never wrote a sentence without carefully crafting it to conform to freedom of speech. Considerable restraint was required as I was fuming with hatred, but I always made sure to obey the law.

The police are the ones who disregard the law. They abused their power and arrested me without any legal basis, as confirmed by the Norwegian Supreme Court, who ruled that I had done nothing illegal and ordered my release. Having already been cleared of all criminal charges but denied compensation, now I have filed a civil suit against the state seeking to be compensated for wrongful prosecution and imprisonment. My allegedly criminal utterances (or the supposedly most egregious of them, anyway, that were also most widely quoted out of context in the media at the time) were part of a philosophical discussion, far into the comment section under this post pertaining to the Breivik trial titled "Thoughts on the trial." Old and new readers can judge for themselves, as every word that triggered my arrest still appears exactly as it did the day I was arrested. Having read through that old thread again now, I see that my comments in the discussion are actually a fairly comprehensive and quite persuasive description of why I came to be radicalized into an antifeminist. Those statements will now receive renewed publicity in connection with my compensation trial, to my benefit and the detriment of the scumbags in law enforcement, which goes to show how futile it is to suppress speech by means of cops and prisons. I fully admit to glorifying crime, which is legal, but my rhetoric did not cross the threshold of section 140 in the criminal code (or §147c for that matter, which would actually be a closer fit), whether it was "public" or not (I won't rehash the technicality of whether the Internet is "public" here except to say it is irrelevant; see my posts on Lex Berge if you want more background on that non-issue).

I did not make the decision to become a militant political dissident lightly. I realize that openly and avowedly advocating the murder of police officers is the sort of behavior that is likely to get you killed or tortured or imprisoned for decades, so I was lucky to only be imprisoned for 22 days. Nevertheless, I did nothing illegal, and now I am suing for compensation. Just like communists can say they support a revolution (which incidentally would have to involve killing many more cops than I ever contemplated), and Muslims can legally say they support beheadings of infidels or whatever terrorist acts the Islamic State is up to, as affirmed by a recent ruling, I can legally say I support killing cops for antifeminist reasons. Islamists and I share the same enemy and we are both equally sincere and serious about our ideology, which can also be expressed with equal legality. I am proud of what I have done and make no apology for it. But at the same time, I realize it wasn't necessarily wise. To beat the cops at their own game -- violence -- is not for amateurs. It also doesn't matter much as far as risk goes that my alleged incitement was and is legal, because as evinced by their baseless prosecution of me, cops and prosecutors do not respect the law. As John Michael Greer said in a slightly different context of peak oil:
Violence against the system. It’s probably necessary to say a few words about that here. Effective violence of any kind is a skill, a difficult and demanding one, and effective political violence against an established government is among the most difficult and demanding kinds. I’m sorry if this offends anybody’s sense of entitlement, but it’s not simply a matter of throwing a tantrum so loud that Daddy has to listen to you, you know. To force a government to do your bidding by means of violence, you have to be more competent at violence than the government is, and the notion that the middle-class intellectuals who do most of the talking in the peak oil scene can outdo the US government in the use of violence would be hilarious if the likely consequences of that delusion weren’t so ghastly. This is not a game for dabblers; people get thrown into prison for decades, dumped into unmarked graves, or vaporized by missiles launched from drones for trying to do what the people in these discussions were chattering about so blandly.
For that matter, I have to wonder how many of the people who were so free with their online talk about violence against the system stopped to remember that every word of those conversations is now in an NSA data file, along with the names and identifying details of everybody involved. The radicals I knew in my younger days had a catchphrase that’s apposite here: “The only people that go around publicly advocating political violence are idiots and agents provocateurs. Which one are you?”
These are points well taken. I have played a deadly game, and I was aware of the risks. Those were calculated risks, of a kind I was more willing to take in my younger days. I have toned down my rhetoric since I got out of prison, just to be on the safe side, though I continue to express forthright hatred against cops and I still glorify violence against them because this sort of speech is so unequivocally legal. Now I will also have my day in court to promote my cause and seek compensation for wrongful imprisonment. My lawyer and I have started preparing the case. All my readers are welcome on November 24th at 9 AM in the courthouse. I would especially like to extend a cordial invitation to all Islamists and sympathizers of ISIS (as noted in a previous post, the Men's Movement ought to join forces with jihadists since we share a common enemy), who are also often maliciously prosecuted for bogus speech crimes. If you hate cops for any reason or just support freedom of speech, now is a good time to show up and exhibit your contempt towards the police state. Let us jam-pack the Bergen courthouse to prove that the Men's Rights Movement is a force to be reckoned with, promote brotherhood against feminism among men of all ethnicities and religions, and help legitimize hateful public rhetoric against the scumbags who enforce the feminist sex laws.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Tverberg Estimate of Future Energy Production

This is Gail Tverberg's estimate of future energy production. For reasons best explained by Gail herself on her blog, I believe this graph represents the most accurate prediction of our future. Now imagine what it will be like. Imagine the human suffering embedded in this graph! All the debt defaults, bankruptcies, unemployment and poverty. Broken supply lines and entropic decay to our infrastructure which will never be repaired. Famines, pestilence and violence. Fascism, failed states, and bloody insurrections. Imagine billions starving to death or otherwise meeting their premature demise. This is the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse represented as an energy graph, and it is our near future. In 2035, the energy production available to humanity will likely be down to 25% of what it is today. If you thought peak oil meant maybe you would be driving an electric car in 2035, think again, because that kind of green delusional future would require more energy consumption rather than less. And we will get less. A LOT less. The 7000 jobs lost in the Norwegian oil industry thus far is only the beginning, as even the mainstream media is catching on to now.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Freedom of speech is reaffirmed in Norway

When the scumbags in law enforcement try to have you criminally prosecuted and you are acquitted in a court of law despite proudly taking full responsibility for the acts you are accused of, prosecutors end up sending the opposite message than what they intended: Such acts are legal and can be committed with impunity and utter contempt for the police. Indeed, it would be a better deterrent against offensive speech to refrain from prosecuting baseless cases and leave us wondering if we are breaking the law. Now Arslan Ubaydullah Maroof Hussain has been acquitted of inciting terrorism, while arrogantly standing by all his statements. Read the full verdict here (in Norwegian), which also includes the quotes he was on trial for -- a useful template for what we can certainly say legally.

I love court cases where the accused proudly admits to all facts and disdainfully proceeds to attack the law itself or its application, and still wins. It is a glorious situation similar to what happened to me two years ago, and now it has happened again in Norway. Supporting and celebrating terrorist acts is now certified legal. The cops acted in bad faith, much to their embarrassment. Their bluff is called, and the slimeball prosecutors are the object of public derision even among politically correct commentators who normally support fascism. I can declare with increased conviction that I hate the guts of cops and wish them the worst, and Islamists now know for sure that they can celebrate the atrocities of ISIS such as beheadings and the like with legal protection.

While I was accused under the general incitement law which covers all crimes (§140), Hussain was accused of inciting terrorism specifically under §147c, but his statements are very similar to mine (in fact I was surprised at the time that I was never charged under §147c myself, since the spirit of this law is the best match for what men's rights activism means). Both statutes also similarly state that you have to call for action (the crucial word is "iverksettelse"; read the verdict for a good discussion) before the law applies. Merely supporting or celebrating criminal acts is not against the law. Neither Hussain nor I told anyone to actually carry out specific acts of violent activism -- we merely stated that such acts comport with our values and we glorified them in various ways. The cops tried to stretch this too far, as if we can "indirectly" incite terrorism criminally by celebrating it. Prosecutors must have known that their line of reasoning flies in the face of the principle of legality, which basically means that laws can't be applied so vaguely, and now they have egg on their faces. The court has ruled that only your explicit statements count as far as criminal incitement law is concerned, rather than the interpreted spirit of your message, even if it most assuredly is the correct interpretation. So both Hussain and I are confidently within freedom of speech as it legally exists in Norway. I already knew that, of course, but it's good to have it reaffirmed. This verdict makes it perfectly clear that we are free to opine publicly that certain crimes are morally right and even wish and pray for them to come to fruition, which is all we have done.

On a side note, it is a little bit funny that when I was cleared of all criminal charges, pundits were quick to denounce me nearly unanimously based on pure politics and call for more draconian laws (confer Lex Berge) without even giving my supposedly illegal statements due consideration, but now the same pundits support Hussain and call his acquittal an obviously correct decision after evaluating the legal aspects dispassionately (and look at this). Go figure. The media pundits must love Muslims much more than ethnic Norwegians. And perhaps they understand that the Men's Movement, if it gains traction, can be more insidious because we are an enemy emerging from within the feminist state with its hateful sex laws that these manginas will defend at any cost. We don't look like Muslim militants. Which reminds me: Should the Men's Movement support the Islamic war effort as well, at least morally? There is at least one powerful argument in favor: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Insofar as the Muslims can hurt the feminist state, they have my support. But otherwise I have very little in common with Muslims, so I don't know how fruitful any cooperation would be. Choosing between feminism or Islamism looks rather like a pest or cholera situation. What do other MRAs think?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The problem with low oil prices

As a former techno-optimist, up until a few years ago I believed peak oil was nothing to worry about and I saw no reason why we shouldn't be able to carry on civilization on renewable energy in any case. Now I see how spectacularly ignorant I was, and what decisively convinced me was the problem of too low oil prices. Try to wrap your mind around what low oil prices really mean, and therein lies the frightful realization that the future cannot be anything like we commonly imagine. Low oil and other commodity prices are much more problematic than they appear at first glance, because it takes an increasing amount of real resources to produce these commodities, and if the market is unable to afford at least this cost, then eventually the commodities cannot be had at all. As an analogy, consider space tourism. We know it is technically possible to go to the moon, yet it is impossible to book a cruise to the moon at any price, even if you are a billionaire, because the entire potential market is too poor to support the infrastructure investments needed to produce a moon tourism industry in the first place. So space travel cannot be had at any price, despite technical feasibility. And that is the fate of the oil industry as well, and all other advanced technological industries. Everything we value and depend on, including enough food to sustain anything close to the current population, will be gone within our lifetimes or shortly thereafter.

If oil prices could rise arbitrarily high, then there would be no insurmountable problem, and substitution would also be possible. But reality doesn't work that way, because there is a limit to how much the market can pay (in fact, wages seem to have hit the ceiling already for most people), and the universe is under no obligation to provide us with resources we can't afford even if we desperately need them. When oil is getting too expensive to extract, it obviously also does not work to substitute with something even more expensive. Unfortunately, all conceivable alternatives to fossil fuels are more expensive, and the much hyped "green" alternatives may in fact be counterproductive and hasten our collapse. We are therefore surely doomed, and there is nothing science or technology or wealth can do about it.

It is intuitive to me at this point that industrial civilization cannot operate on renewable energy such as solar and wind and biofuels, because these energy sources are too diffuse. While not intuitive, I also tend to accept the conclusion that nuclear energy will not work either (too low EROEI, all things considered, which is manifested in lack of profitability and the need for subsidies), based on the analysis of smarter people than I. Our civilization is all over but the crying, and the only question left to be decided is the time scale and details of the collapse. At one extreme, you have people like Gail Tverberg and David Korowicz, who say collapse will be nearly instantaneous, and on the other hand you have John Michael Greer, who says our descent into the next dark ages will take a century or more. I am still trying to figure out who is right, but I have no doubt that growth is over, it will be all downhill from here, and the end result will not even be worth living in by our standards for the few who manage to survive the bottleneck. On the plus side this also means victory over feminism is assured, because the feminist police state with enforcement of its hateful sex laws cannot be sustained without fossil fuels, but it is a Pyrrhic victory.

Gail is the world's biggest pessimist indeed. She does not think humans can do anything. But she is right -- absent the global economy with all its long and interdependent supply lines that make up the operational fabric of our civilization, there is very little humans can do. It does not matter how smart you are -- alone you are limited to Stone Age technology, and this is even true for isolated countries and regions. If you don't believe this, go and try to dig up some oil or coal yourself with your bare hands, and you understand how dependent we are on the entire networked economy, which is precisely what is on the cusp of breaking down.

These days the news is full of reports on layoffs in the Norwegian oil sector due to decreasing profitability and diminishing investments in new projects. This is happening because the cost of extracting oil in the North Sea has quintupled over the last decade! It is surreal to read Norwegian newspapers which present peak oil as a local problem and pretend we can be fine doing something else and perhaps even thrive by investing in green energy. They do not explain that the fundamental problem is diminishing returns, which affects all resource extraction globally. That article actually admits that there is no profit in renewables, yet they are presented as a solution, and how renewables can be perpetuated without subsidies from fossil fuels is based on nothing but wishful thinking. Exactly what Gail predicted is happening, yet most people are unable to put two and two together and contemplate the full implications. Everyone should read her latest post, because she explains the problem with low commodity prices better than I. Or perhaps it is best not to, if you would prefer to remain blissfully ignorant as long as possible.