Friday, November 20, 2015

My compensation case for wrongful political imprisonment goes to the court of appeal

I am special because I did not internalize the prevailing sexual taboos of my culture like my more impressionable peers. Instead, I grew up to be a men's rights activist, dedicating my life to the fight against oppressive sexual taboos and their associated laws. If there is one thing I am proud of which to my mind really makes me better than most people, it is my ability to see through the odious irrationality which forms the basis for most of our sexual legislation. I am truly one of the few blessed (or cursed...) with the gift of sight in the country of the blind. I see the man in the street as a simpleminded fool who will easily internalize ever more hateful and irrational laws against normal human sexuality, usually including a great number of his own desires and actions. My refractoriness to brainwashing with feminist sexual taboos means that I don't fit in, and proudly so. If you are of the mainstream persuasion, then I represent what you consider evil, and you represent evil as I understand it. This difference is profound and cannot be amicably reconciled, because this is the stuff that true hatred is made of, the kind that motivates lynch mobs and legislators on one hand and sex offenders and sex-positive activists on the other.

I am a stranger in a strange land who fundamentally does not accept the sexual morality of my culture, a natural-born rebel. I am so ardent and sensitive to this issue that I can't read the news without convulsing with hatred against the state for another persecution of victimless sexuality and fake victimhood, which happens daily (such as this recent example). If I were to express my opinions with complete honesty, I would obviously be in prison, so this blog is an expurgated version fit for publication. My original comments that landed me in jail in 2012 actually also struck the right balance between the hatred in my soul against the scumbags in law enforcement and the purely pragmatic need to remain within the law, which is why I was cleared of all criminal charges by the Supreme Court of Norway. I am assuredly not a nice guy from the point of view of society, and those judges would have loved to see me imprisoned, but the police had so flagrantly disregarded the law that it would have been a scandal to let the prosecution proceed.

I became a men's rights activist first and foremost because of the corruption of rape law (see my post entitled "My Antifeminist Journey" for how I was radicalized) -- because of the hatred instilled in me by all the feminist legal reforms to rape law in my lifetime -- closely followed by the hatred incited in my soul by odiously high age of consent laws and the legal fiction of statutory rape, the criminalization of child pornography with its absurd definitions, revenge porn laws, the feminist construct of "sexual harassment," the criminalization of men who pay for sex (and the sellers too in many countries), the recent abolition of the statute of limitations for sex crimes in Norway, the preposterous "trafficking" hysteria, the institution of needless taboos against sexual relations between people based on a multitude of roles and statuses such as doctors and patients and teachers and students or President and intern, and no enumeration of my antifeminist hatred is complete without mentioning the bizarre feminist idea that women should be held equally culpable for sex crimes: the female sex offender charade. This makes me a bona fide enemy of the state, and because of expressing my conviction that insurrection is the moral response for men, I was arrested in 2012. I am admittedly an ideologically violent activist, but it is legal in Norway to be an advocate of violent resistance as long as one does not publicly exhort a specific implementation of such acts, which I never do. Even communists don't get imprisoned here just for being ideologically revolutionary, and it would be a travesty to lower the bar on permitted speech just for me.

My mission is to convince men that the sex laws of our land are hateful and unfair and that the scumbags in law enforcement are our enemies (and not just the enemies of men -- cops and prosecutors increasingly use our insane sex laws to prey on women too, goaded on by feminists and manginas). I aim to incite maximum hostility against the feminist state of Norway (without breaking the law), against our legislators and their enforces. This hatred is mutual, of course, and I provoked a predictable reaction from the state. But the more the authorities fight me, the more they help promulgate my subversive propaganda in court documents, like this one. That is the ruling from the district court (Nordhordland tingrett) in my compensation case for wrongful incarceration as a political prisoner.

The district court ruling claims that what I wrote would be punishable if not for the technicality of publicness, the definition of which did not include blogging at the time. This is wrong and cannot be allowed to stand. I did not incite execution ("iverksettelse") of crimes; I merely argued in favor of them and expressed my unflinching moral support for the brave men who hurt the state, as well as glorifying them after the fact, which is also legal. Expressing hatred and activist-glorification against laws, legislators and enforcers is protected by freedom of speech as this right is defined in Norway, and that is all I am doing. All the points in my old post from one year ago describing my lawsuit back then are still valid. But I lost and was denied compensation because the court regards my actions as "worthy of punishment," as is also claimed in an obiter dictum from a previous Supreme Court ruling in my case (though it is debatable what exactly they meant there). It is the opinion of the district court that my statements would be punishable if they were defined as public at the time, which is false. That is my most important reason for appealing, next to getting money: I want to establish for all to see that my kind of rhetoric which was labeled as extremist and criminal all over the national news is perfectly legitimate.

I was imprisoned for 22 days while the cops made a failed attempt at prosecuting me for promulgating my heartfelt conviction that insurrection is an ethical, noble and tactically reasonable course of men's rights activism. What I did was legal, but every bit as malicious as accused and with the utmost premeditation. The true test of freedom of speech is whether it protects malevolent activists like me with unpopular agendas, and aside from the compensation issue and the hysterical scramble to change the law because of me, Norway passed in this case. But I am still not done litigating the compensation issue. I appealed the district court ruling, and now my compensation suit is going to the court of appeal (Gulating lagmannsrett) on December 4th, 2015. The goal of the upcoming trial, aside from getting more publicity for the Men's Rights Movement and to legitimize our vicious propaganda, is to force the Norwegian government to pay me compensation in the amount of NOK 37,100 for their bad-faith attempt to prosecute me for exercising my freedom of speech, which they are refusing to do unless compelled by the court. I stated my sincere and thoughtful opinion on the ethics of violent activism against feminist sex laws and their enforcers, without telling anybody to actually carry it out. It was part of a philosophical discussion rather than a call to action, which was and is perfectly legal. In terms of mens rea, I most assuredly had a guilty mind insofar as what I did was no accident and perfectly malicious. But crimes also require the actus reus, and that was absent, since no actual law was violated, as certified by the Supreme Court.

From the state's point of view, I am a dangerous man because I seek to use my influence in the Men's Movement to hurt the government -- influence which only grows the more they try to suppress me -- but I do so within the bounds of the law. My heart is full of seething hatred against the scumbags in law enforcement and I sincerely wish them the worst, but none of this is criminal. It is mere sentiment and opinion and at worst glorification of crimes, which despite being mentioned in the Norwegian Penal Code of 1902, has long since been decriminalized in the interest of freedom of speech. It was de facto legal already in 2012, and now, with the enactment of the revised Penal Code in 2015, the law has even been changed to make it explicit that glorifying crime is legal. The new version of § 140 (the statute I was accused under), which is now called § 183, does not have any reference to glorification because it has been legalized, and now simply says: "Den som offentlig oppfordrer noen til å iverksette en straffbar handling, straffes med bot eller fengsel inntil 3 år."

Gulating Court of Appeal, Bergen
I am very idealistic about my activism. I took a calculated risk of being nearly as offensive as one can be without being a criminal, a risk I deemed to be justified because I so strongly believe in the sex-positive cause, motivated by morality and idealism from the depths of my heart. It is important for me to emphasize that everything I wrote was carefully considered and represents my deepest convictions, my heart and soul. Our goal as MRAs is to find ways to rebel against society in revenge for the feminist sex laws and influence legislators to repeal them, not because I think they can be persuaded by reason but because our politicians might come to realize that men's rights activists are a greater cost to them than the perverse satisfaction of oppressing sexuality that they derive from these laws. The words I was arrested for still describe my agenda with perfect fidelity. But that agenda did not and does not go so far as to literally incite illegal violence as defined by the Penal Code. Protesting means hurting society, but it does not necessarily involve breaking the law. A labor strike or a blockade, for example, can do far more harm than killing the occasional cop, without the downside of landing us in prison, so that is the sort of campaigns we should be agitating for. I am a spiteful propagandist for men's rights, but not a criminal inciter, and thanks to freedom of speech our cause cannot be silenced. Now it is time to do my part to foster hatred against the feminist state and its scumbag enforcers in the Gulating Court of Appeal on December 4th. I am motivated by the hate of that which is evil and the love for that which is still good about humanity, though few have the moral integrity to recognize it and fewer dare articulate it like I do. Come watch me win compensation for being wrongfully prosecuted for my activism.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Secular stagnation or deflationary collapse?

If Gail Tverberg has figured out the true story about the economy, then this is probably as close as the mainstream might come to understanding the real situation. Lawrence Summers correctly notes that we are entering a secular stagnation, but he seems oblivious to the root cause. The economy is not slowing down due to people's changing "propensities" to save and invest or whatever, but because of diminishing returns in the extraction of energy and other natural resources. Economic growth can only be created by adding an increasing amount of cheap energy, which is a very tall order at this stage of the game and getting exponentially harder all the time. To bring back growth, we would need lots of oil which can be produced for $20 a barrel with an EROEI of 50 or a similarly cheap drop-in replacement for oil, but nothing like that is on the horizon anymore. No known energy source can deliver the exergy needed for its own production and sufficient economic activity to have a market capable of affording it. The cheap oil is almost gone and renewables don't produce enough surplus energy to pull their own weight, much less create economic growth. The result is deflation, which is a highly unstable state.

We are not merely facing a Japanese-style recession which can drag out for decades, because that can only be sustained when the rest of the word economy is growing. When the entire world is in the same stagnant state, it becomes much harder to maintain stability. When growth ends globally, the system will likely fall apart like a dome of Leonardo sticks. At least if we try to run it the same way we are used to, based on debt, because that only works in a growing economy. No one has conceived of a realistic alternative, however, so the only way we can forestall collapse is to keep adding more debt. There is absolutely no way to repay debt when the economy is shrinking, so this path must lead to disaster. Perhaps Summers is right that there is still room to increase the debt some more if interest rates are kept at zero or negative indefinitely, but this entire paradigm is fundamentally close to its breaking point.

It will be exciting to see how it plays out, and then horrible when the electric grid goes down due to lack of spare parts because international trade has ceased and we die. If we had the option of simply using less of everything, it wouldn't be so bad, but there is no way to do that when profitability is the only way to keep essential services such as the oil industry and other mining operations running. Deflation means commodity prices drop too low for producers, which means they have no choice but to shut down production, and so even the rich will get none of life's necessities and nearly all assets will become meaningless.

The world is rudderless and adrift, with no chance of sufficient awareness and cooperation to mount a meaningful response to deflationary collapse. Individuals can understand our predicament, but as a species we can apparently only follow the religion of growth. Politicians can only get elected by promising prosperity, even if it is a lie, while the only politically correct worry is climate change, which happens too slowly to be relevant anyway if we are facing deflationary collapse now.

It is tempting to wish for some kind of conspiracy who has plans ready for a new world order, but I know better than believing any group would be capable of coordinating such an effort. The only thing we can do is to enjoy the short time we have left while industrial civilization is still with us. Every day I marvel at how lucky I am to be alive at the height of human existence, in the absurdly prosperous times when our species gets to consume several million years' worth of solar energy per year. Our age is truly exceptionally wealthy even in a perspective of a hundred million years. There are still many things to be angry about in the world today, of course (feminism, for example), but the economy is actually a miracle which will never get any better than this. People who think growth is "normal" and will soon return are ridiculously deluded and strike me as ungrateful for the very transient miracle of industrial civilization that we are still enjoying for the time being. We should be positively thrilled to have a secular stagnation, if it doesn't get any worse than that!

I think we are currently in a period of calm before the storm. Every day I read about more layoffs in the oil industry, but so far no major bankruptcies. Many companies are surely teetering on the brink, however. Since there are no realistic prospects of commodity prices ever rising again to the levels needed for profitability, the situation is bound to get much worse before long.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Saving civilization with Bitcoin XT

Having spent the last couple of years reading and thinking about energy and the economy, this is what I have learned: A primary energy source needs to fuel enough economic activity to pay for its own production (I think this is a self-evident statement, but correct me if I am wrong). This is how the laws of thermodynamics trump the law of supply and demand, which will not save us from low commodity prices in the end. The maximum prices possible for primary energy sources like oil, coal and gas are constrained by their energy content, which remains fixed by their chemical structures. Unfortunately, nonrenewable natural resources are also subject to depletion and hence diminishing returns as a result of rising production costs, which means they become less and less valuable to the economy over time (more and more economic resources are diverted into their extraction rather than doing the things people actually want). As of September 2015, we are at the point in history where none of the energy sources which have enabled industrial civilization are able to drive enough economic activity to pay for themselves any longer. Therefore, commodity prices are crashing and the collapse of industrial civilization will soon follow. Deflationary collapse is the logical endpoint of civilization and appears to be underway now.

However, at this point I want to forget about all the futilitarianism promoted by Gail Tverberg and turn to the proverb, "while there's life there's hope." And by "life," I mean as long as the operational fabric of industrial civilization is intact, still allowing us to do anything possible with modern technology. There is plenty of wastefulness in the system that we theoretically could get rid of without breaking everything, if we only learn to do things more efficiently.

Think of deflationary collapse as a terminal illness we have all just been diagnosed with, and Bitcoin XT as one experimental treatment. No one knows it if will really work, but it is worth a shot. The weakest link in our civilization -- and the part capable of bringing it down the fastest short of nuclear war -- is the banking system, which is precisely what Bitcoin XT seeks to remedy. Bitcoin XT can help make civilization more resilient and more resistant to authoritarianism at the same time. Let us use Bitcoin to disintermediate the banks and take control over our finances. Quit paying bank fees. Buy, sell and save with no third party involved. Keep your assets safe from risk of seizure by governments or other entities. This will work as long as the Internet remains in existence, which is a big unknown, but at least I don't see what we have to lose by converting our other moribund virtual assets to this much more resilient one. If we are lucky, Bitcoin can help our whole civilization last longer because our infrastructure becomes more resilient to financial crises.

Now Bitcoin needs your help against misguided forces who try to stunt its growth and subvert it for their purposes. Most of the so-called core developers (but not the larger Bitcoin community) are fanatically opposed to bigger blocks, while being horribly ignorant of how urgently we need an alternative to the established financial system. The villains include Peter Todd, Adam Back, Luke-Jr, Wladimir van der Laan (who has counterproposed a ridiculously slow growth scheme instead) and even Nick Szabo. They basically want Bitcoin to remain so small that it can only be used as a settlement system among banks and a few individuals willing to pay high fees, which will ensure that Bitcoin sinks with the banking system. Read Mike Hearn's summary if you are unfamiliar with the block size war:

The solution is a hard fork which can be accomplished by using Bitcoin XT (or any Bitcoin client implementing the changes described in BIP 101), created by Mike Hearn and Gavin Andresen (the actually change will happen in January 2016 at the earliest, and only if 75% of the last 1000 blocks get mined according to the updated protocol). This will enable Bitcoin to scale up so the world can actually use it to handle a significant portion of payments. Currently, Bitcoin is limited to one-megabyte blocks (at the rate of one block about every ten minutes), which amounts to roughly three transactions per second at most. Bitcoin XT will give us the ability to produce eight-megabyte blocks in 2016, and then this limit will double smoothly every two years for twenty years, which should be enough for all of Bitcoin's future growth.

Watch the progress of Bitcoin XT here and download the version for your operating system: [This site may be down due to DDoS attacks from small-block fundamentalists, and if so, you can download XT from its official site, where you can also read the XT manifesto.]

Running a full node is easy even for completely ordinary computer users with no technical knowledge. Most likely, all you have to do is install Bitcoin XT and keep it running. You can also use it as a wallet, of course. Just make sure you have enough storage space on the drive where you want to put the Bitcoin data directory (which you get to select at first startup). So far, the blockchain occupies 47.3 GB on my disk, so you need all that plus room to grow. Or if you don't feel like keeping the whole blockchain, you can enable pruning, but I don't recommend it. Storage is so cheap, we can all keep the whole blockchain for a very long time. It will take years before it will even fill up the smallest hard drive you can buy new (which is currently 320 GB, I think). You might as well dedicate an entire hard disk or SSD to Bitcoin right now and leave it running for years without having to upgrade.

If Bitcoin is hogging to much upstream bandwidth, just adjust the QoS settings in your router. Also, in order to have a reachable node (which is not absolutely needed, but good for the network) you need to make sure port 8333 is open. It should open automatically using UPnP, but if it doesn't, you need to open it manually. You can tell if you have a reachable node by the number of connection you are getting; anything over 8 means your node is functioning correctly (which is easily determined by hovering your mouse in the lower right corner of your XT client). You can also check if your node is reachable on the Bitnodes website.

I urge everybody to run an XT node. If you encounter any problems setting it up, just ask and I will guide you through it. Ideally we should also be mining with XT, but that is much more costly. Let us just get the nodes running for now to signal our support of XT and be ready to use the forked version of Bitcoin. Running a full node is a powerful feeling, because it means you validate and store every Bitcoin transaction on your computer. It also gives you complete control over your own bitcoins with the most superior wallet, and you do your small part to maybe save our civilization from deflationary collapse. As Gandhi said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”

Friday, June 19, 2015

How peak demand leads to civilizational collapse

According to Gail Tverberg,
Our problem is collapsing demand, everywhere. That is a scary story [referring to this link, which states that shipping rates are now even below the cost of fuel]–basically the same one we hear in different forms, over and over. The world cannot move from growth to shrinkage without huge overcapacity. With overcapacity comes prices that are way too low. No one will exit the market until some type of collapse occurs.
She also says,
I recently have been arguing with Chris Martenson on Facebook. Trying to explain to him that peak demand and low prices can bring down things pretty quickly–we can’t count on high prices allowing us to buy what we need forever, just more expensively.
Does this make sense?

I am afraid it does. Collapsing demand means that prices are becoming too low for suppliers of goods and services, which will force them out of business. If the problem were localized to one or just a few commodities or industries or countries, we would probably not need to worry about industrial civilization as whole collapsing. In that case it would just be another business cycle, which has happened many times in the past. But the present situation is different, because demand is dropping off in the entire world, across most industries! It is as if a bubble (made of debt) which has been propping up all prices is now deflating. We are kidding ourselves if we think only some companies will go bankrupt and then the rest can continue with higher prices. Not at this scale. When many bankruptcies happen at the same time across many industries, unemployment soars and demand drops further, leading to even lower prices. No companies will be able to cover their operating expenses. The collapse will be a total breakdown of the system, leaving us with no ability to produce the essentials of life anymore, even for the rich (who will then be formerly rich, of course).

Why does Chris Martenson not get this? Why do mainstream economists not get this? Are Gail and her followers the deluded ones, or are everyone else wrong? Methinks Gail is right.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jury abolition in Norway is the latest escalation in the war on male sexuality

"For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury."
This is one of the reasons cited in the American Declaration of Independence as justifying rebellion against England in 1776, but it applies just as well to contemporary Norway. The scumbags in our legislature are now determined to deprive us of the benefits of trial by jury, and not just in many cases, but in all cases. Feminists have been lobbying for this change for over a decade, and now the majority of our legislators agree. The primary motivation behind abolishing the jury is to enforce feminist rape law reform, which has thus far largely been subject to jury nullification.

Ever since a radical feminist definition of rape replaced our traditional and quite reasonable legal concept of rape in the Norwegian Penal Code in 2000, prosecutors have had nearly unlimited power to charge men with "rape" whenever women regret sex (although they are still not satisfied and keep pushing for more feminist reforms to the legal definition of rape as well). Juries have usually refused to get with the program and convict men in the most egregiously feminist-motivated cases, however. This is because the people's natural sense of justice simply does not correspond to the hateful feminist ideology of our politicians, so for as long as the safeguard of a jury of peers remains in place, legal reforms to expand rape law can only have a limited impact. The explicit purpose of removing the jury is therefore to get rid of this pesky obstacle to imprisoning more men for normal male sexuality. This motivation has been explicitly stated many times by feminists such as Attorney General Tor-Aksel Busch, for example, who is one of Norway's most malevolent characters (along with Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen) and probably the person whose guts I hate the most in the entire world. He is the single mot powerful feminist lobbyist in Norway and the scumbag responsible for pushing through most of the prosecutions for false or feminist-defined rape since our rape law was reformed for this purpose.

Jury abolition is something I predicted all the way back in my very first blog post in 2007, and now it is actually happening. As American history attests, the travesty of denying us trials by jury is a just cause for rebellion even if you are not a men's rights activist. These expanded government powers are certain to harm a lot of women as well, so unless they are obsessed with enforcing the insane feminist concept of rape, women also have reason to join our fight. Unfortunately, I have failed to incite an insurrection among men against our government because most men are just too damn complacent, and now the political climate in Norway has become so hateful that I am seriously looking forward to collapse. Collapse is the only realistic way that the feminist regime in Oslo will be destroyed. The day when the scumbags in our legislature realize that not only do they not have a future, but that their children and grandchildren are dying of starvation in short order, will be a joyous day indeed. I don't prep to save myself, because I know it will be futile, but I do keep enough victuals on hand to gloat with a full belly over the despair of our feminist rulers and their enforcers when collapse comes, at least in the initial weeks. And most importantly, I will be psychologically prepared and not shocked like most people when it becomes clear that everything they love is dying.

Since the turning point came with crashing oil prices last year, 22,122 jobs have been lost in the Norwegian oil industry so far. And this is before we even have a real financial crisis, so you ain't seen nothing yet. Most people still think all the layoffs are just part of a transition to a more renewable and not dramatically poorer future, although it is a bit comical that the best idea anybody can come up with for replacement jobs is to go and teach the Saudi Arabians how to implement fracking so they can extend their oil production a bit. We are still very much in what the Archdruid calls the Era of Pretense. Norwegians have not yet figured out that the oil age is ending, and we have certainly not figured out that nothing can replace oil. Nothing can replace oil because nothing provides comparable usefulness to society in proportion to the effort spent on obtaining it. You can study thermodynamics and systems theory to understand this or you can just look around you and think about what role oil played in producing everything you have and how hard it would be to get things any other way. Before that realization will sink in, though, the whole system will be broken because oil limits manifest as an intractable financial crisis long before we "run out" of oil. According to Gail Tverberg, oil would have to bounce up to the completely unrealistic price of $130 per barrel now in 2015 and then keep rising every year in order to avoid a breakdown of the system, and I think she is right.

And so I am looking forward to the financial crisis to end this odious political system. If we can't have jury trials, and there is no willingness to rebel either, then we might as well have no society at all, as far as I am concerned. I have one pet project left before the collapse, however, which is to collect compensation from the regime for my wrongful political imprisonment. I am happy to report that my appeal trial is coming up on December 4th, 2015, in Gulating lagmannsrett (this is the verdict I am appealing and this is my blog post about the last trial). I will blog more about my appeal later and try to whip up as much excitement around it as I can in order to make it into an MRA event.

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.