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?

26 comments:

Øyvind Holmstad said...

Ei veldig nyttig liste med konsepter man bør kjenne til!

Har satt den opp for republisering i løpet av jula, flere bør kjenne til dette.

Folk reagerer stort sett på to måter stilt ovenfor disse scenarioene:

A) De orker ikke å forholde seg til dem, fordi det blir for dystert.

B) De reagerer med sinne og peprer deg med ord som "prepper", "ideologi", "tro", etc. Mens de er bærere av den sanne vitenskap.

Uansett reaksjonsmåte tar folk avstand fra deg. Folkene i gruppe A har nok respekt for deg, men de orker ikke å forholde seg til deg, da det er mer behagelig å fortrenge virkeligheten så lenge som mulig.

Folkene i gruppe B hater deg, da de ser deg som en kjetter og en farlig fanatiker.

Så å være "peak-oiler" er ikke enkelt. Tror mange deler ditt syn, men å stå fram blir for tungt.

Eivind Berge said...

Ja, jeg merker selv at det er enda mindre akseptert å stå frem som peak-oiler enn mannsaktivist. Men jeg er så vant med å skille meg ut at jeg sier det jeg tror og mener uansett.

Det er litt merkelig at det er politisk korrekt å være opptatt av klimaendringer, men ikke grenser for vekst. Hvis du uttaler deg om at vi må bremse veksten for å unngå global oppvarming og katastrofale konsekvenser, så er du helt OK. Men hvis du påpeker at veksten vil ta slutt enten vi vil det eller ei, så er du en tulling eller verre. Det blir vel for dystert å bli fortalt at vi er maktesløse, som du sier.

Øyvind Holmstad said...

De foretrekker nok å lytte til Krugman:

“Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. . . . It would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth” – Paul Krugman

Eivind Berge said...

Krugman er morsom. Det verste er at folk tror på ham også. Jeg leste nettopp et intervju som går i samme baner:

http://www.dn.no/magasinet/2014/11/28/2140/Profil/grnt-overskudd

"Christine Tørklep Meisingset (38) ser ikke motsetninger mellom avkastning og bærekraft. Nå håper hun flere børsnoterte selskaper oppdager mulighetene det grønne skiftet gir."

Det er vanskelig å se at hun og Gail snakker om samme planet. En av dem må nødvendigvis ta vanvittig feil.

Eric said...

Eivind:
This comment probably goes better with your last post, but there was a local media story here about case with eerie parallels to yours:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Kirkland-man-arrested-for-threats-against-Ferguson-officer-284511441.html

It sounds like Lex Berge has come to America: in spite of the article's title, the accused never specifically made threats against Officer Wilson---in fact, he wasn't saying much more than half these 'protestors' were saying here.

Eivind Berge said...

Eric,

That's clearly another prosecution done in bad faith. It goes to show that your prosecutors are dishonest scumbags, just like ours. Jaleel Tarik Abdul-Jabbaar was making a moral pronouncement about the desirability of killing cops, just like I have done. His statements are neither threats nor incitement as far as criminal law is concerned, and the prosecutors know it. They are simply harassing people because they know they can get away with it. This is all the more reason why protests are needed too, because America clearly has a huge problem with police brutality and corrupt prosecutors.

On the other hand, it looks like Michael Brown's stepfather, Louis Head, actually committed a textbook example of inciting a riot:

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/12/02/justice/ferguson-protests-investigation/index.html

When you step onto a platform above a crowd and shout "Burn this bitch down!" and there is an imminent risk that they might actually do it, then that's the type of situation the law I was charged with is supposed to apply to. A specific situation where you incite specific people to commit specific crimes. My case did not come anywhere close to that, and the police lawyers knew it. I am not even arguing that the incitement law is a bad law here (though it might be); it was simply never meant to apply to the kind of speech I have committed, even when the Internet is defined as a public venue.

When cops and prosecutors are corrupt, this leaves us with the courts to restore justice. Hopefully the case against Abdul-Jabbaar will be dismissed, or else freedom of speech in America is in serious trouble.

Meanwhile I am waiting for the judgment in my compensation case, which is due within the next few days.

Eric said...

Eivind:

It looks to me like Abdul-Jabbar's case is one the FBI trying to make an example of someone (much like your case). Even if gets dismissed, it causes people to think twice about what they say for fear 'Big Brother' is watching.

Yes, American prosecutors are notoriously corrupt. They win political points and public notoriety the more aggressive they are.

Good luck on the compensation case!

Eivind Berge said...

"FBI trying to make an example of someone (much like your case)."

That's why it is important that we set an example back and sue them for wrongful prosecution. Getting that message out to the public is more important to me than the relatively small amount of money I might be awarded.

tg olsen said...

Gail Tverberg er en klok dame, men noe sier meg at hun kan mer logistikk/økonomi enn politikk. Diminishing returns mht ressurser (ikke minst fossilt brensel) er selvfølgelig noe som blir mer og mer akutt i årene som kommer, men det politiske aspektet ved dette er at fascistliknende statsdannelser fort rykker inn i de vakuumene som denne situasjonen bringer (jfr det politiske og økonomiske nær-kaos vi har i de såkalte PIGS-landene i EU for tiden). Skjer dette, kan man holde det gående, lenge, med rasjonering, ekstra verneplikt, tvangsarbeid o.l.

Og forsåvidt kan dagens lave oljepris være en "fluke", et resultat av Saudi Arabias redsel for å bli faset ut som oljeleverandør. Det er godt mulig det er mange år ennå foran oss med oljepriser som "er til å leve med", selv om de svinger vilt.

Så to innvendinger til deg og Gail Tverberg: 1) Dagens tegn i tiden kan ha andre årsaker enn at systemets grunnvoller knaker, og 2) Når grunnvollene (tilsist, med sikkerhet-enig der!) knaker, og knekker, så kan nye politiske konstellasjoner oppstå, som via tvang og brutalitet holder ekstraksjon av (lav EROI-)kull og olje gående, og derigjennom et "skyggedalens industrisamfunn" gående, lenge.

En tredje innvending finnes, man skal ikke se HELT bort fra den, nemlig at en revolusjon innen kjernekraft kan redde situasjonen. Men kjernekraftens krav til et fungerende komplekst industrisamfunn rundt seg, for i det hele tatt å kunne komme opp og gå, gjør at dette virker usannsynlig. Blir litt som å ringe til interiørarkitekten når de snekkerne som skulle bygge huset, ikke dukket opp. ;)

Uansett enig med dine grunnleggende anfektelser: Men Gail Tverberg er gjennomgående lite flink til å tenke politisk, for henne er det liksom Status Quo or bust ;D Maybe not.

Eivind Berge said...

Jeg er til en viss grad enig med alle de innvendingene. Gail er selvfølgelig ikke noen ufeilbarlig profet, og hun er spesielt svak på politikk. Ifølge hennes modeller virker det som staten bare forsvinner så snart den ikke får nok skatteinntekter eller ikke kan låne mer penger, og det stemmer jo ikke med virkeligheten. Vi må forvente at noen vil prøve å gripe makten og drive staten på andre måter enn demokrati og markedsøkonomi. Til det vil Gail si at de grunnleggende problemene med minkende nettoenergi og andre minkende profittrater nødvendigvis også vil manifestere seg i alle andre styreformer enn kapitalismen (men kanskje ikke like raskt?). Og så vil hun si at sivilisasjonen vår er for kompleks til å holde det gående med slavearbeid. Man må fly inn eksperter fra hele verden for å bygge ut et oljefelt, for eksempel. Denne arbeidskraften må også utdannes først, slik at skolesystem og universiteter må fungere. Veiene må vedlikeholdes. Du er avhengig av datamaskiner og all tilhørende infrastruktur med råvarer fra alle verdenshjørner. Det kan godt være politisk mulig å sette hele landet ditt i tvangsarbeid, men hvordan får du handlet med andre land etter at det globale finansielle systemet har brutt sammen? Hvordan får du opprettholdt flyten av varer og tjenester slik at den industrielle sivilisasjonen er mulig? Omstillingen må skje uten betydelige avbrudd, for det nytter ikke å starte opp igjen fabrikkene hvis alt har stoppet opp i mer enn noen få uker (det har David Korowicz overbevist meg om). Det er også umulig å drive raffinerier og rørledninger og så videre med lav utnyttelsesgrad (du kan ikke kjøre et raffineri på 25% av kapasiteten, for eksempel). Man får smådriftsulemper på veldig mange måter. Strømnettet krever like mye vedlikehold selv om folk bruker mye mindre strøm. Gail er veldig tydelig på at man må bevare hele systemet for å ha noe av det, og det virker veldig plausibelt. Men fins jo en mulighet for at hun tar feil. Jeg vil også si at en fremtid basert på fascisme og slavearbeid føles enda mer uhyggelig enn en rask og total kollaps, så det er vel ikke noe å trakte etter.

Jeg er også enig i at dagens tegn kan forklares på alternative måter. Det er mulig systemet har mer å gå på, slik at det ikke er grunnvollene som brister på dette tidspunktet. Det blir spennende å se om oljeprisen kan gå opp igjen... Med litt slark i systemet og litt flaks kan vi kanskje få noen runder til med volatilitet og priser som er til å leve med en stund. Men det er veldig mye som tyder på at vi balanserer på grensen av det mulige. Sentralbankene har ikke mange flere virkemidler igjen mot deflasjonen.

En revolusjon innen kjernekraft virker lite sannsynlig, men jeg kan ikke utelukke det helt. Jeg vil si sjansen er under 1%. Det er jo ikke noe vi satser på engang, så her har antakelig tiden løpt fra oss allerede. Det er sikkert 30 år for sent.

Tenk om politikerne kunne ha andre tanker i hodet enn å sikre økonomisk vekst for enhver pris. Tenk om de hadde skjønt at økonomisk vekst er avhengig av stadig mer energi, og at det er fysisk umulig å fortsette med denne modellen. Da kunne man i det minste fokusert på riktig problem, nemlig hvordan vi kan klare oss med mindre uten at hele systemet kollapser (samtidig som vi prøver å unngå fascisme). Glem vekst, og finn ut hvordan vi kan opprettholde et fungerende komplekst industrisamfunn i det hele tatt. Her vil Gail innvende at det uansett er umulig å styre økonomien til en myk landing, for menneskene har ikke så mye kontroll over den. Vi bygget systemet, men det lever sitt eget liv nå og kan ikke endres radikalt uten at det kollapser fullstendig, og da har vi ikke noe industrisamfunn lenger. Hvis det er tilfellet, så kan vi ikke ha noe "skyggedalens industrisamfunn" heller. Jeg har egentlig veldig liten tro på at et slikt samfunn kan eksistere med tilgang på kull og olje eller høyteknologi i det hele tatt -- ikke etter at vi har brukt opp de lett tilgjengelige ressursene.

Anonymous said...

Du frygter fascisme, men er feminisme ikke i forvejen en form for fascisme? Så det ville bare være en overgang fra en form for fascisme til en anden...

Anonymous said...

Nærmere forklaret: Feminisme er en form for fascisme der er stiltiende accepteret, hvorimod et decideret fascistisk samfund sandsynligvis ville sætte noget modstand i gang.

Eivind Berge said...

Jo, visst er feminismen en form for fascisme. Men det kan bli verre også...

Anonymous said...

http://www.bt.no/nyheter/lokalt/Hoyre-politiker-tiltalt-for-overgrep-3173537.html

Noen som husker denne saken? Nå er mannen frikjent på absolutt alle punkt i tiltalen. Så får vi se om det kommer erstatningskrav og nye rettsrunder. Tre dager tok rettsaken, hvor påtalemyndigheten tok ut tiltale uten fnugg av bevis. Noen her inne som betviler mannens uskyld?

Anonymous said...

yeah for low oil prices!!!

I hope the stock market crashes and the banksters starve!!!!

Eivind Berge said...

Yes, the banksters will starve. And so will we. There is no happy ending to this. It will probably be deflation all the way now until the system is broken. Maybe the central banks can manage to turn it around to hyperinflation (why not try helicopter drops?), which will still produce the same result in the end, but I doubt it.

Notice that the powers that be don't even have a plan for degrowing the economy while preserving the most useful aspects of industrial civilization. They must have (correctly) concluded that it would be impossible, so they single-mindedly pursue growth at any cost until the whole system fails.

Anonymous said...

After reading "The End of Growth" by Richard Heinberg and Ellen Brown's "Web of Debt" it becomes clear that the reason we are locked into a system of cancerous economic growth is that credit and currency is issued by private financial interests as a profit. The tragic thing is that 80 years ago one European nation proved to the world that it didn't need to be this way. Currency could instead be issued by the state according to the production of the people. This would have made it easy to make the transition to a steady state economy when needed. Sadly, that nation was then destroyed by a war in large part caused by the vested financial interests that have led us to collapse. Humanity had a chance to progress to a higher level of civilisation neither capitalist nor communist but we blew it.

http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/bankrupt-germany.php

Øyvind Holmstad said...

People don't want to change the system simply because capitalism is the best system available to exploit and deplete the ecosystems we live in, according to our greedy and short sighted biology.

"The biologist Jared Diamond published in 2005 the book Collapse: How societies choose to fail or survive. He summarizes how native populations and cultures that have ‘advanced’ in technology, have, without exception, expanded above carrying boundaries, destroying their own foundation for life. And then they collapsed. There are no historical examples of native populations who cared about anything else than short sighted gain. Human cultures have in the past only been restricted by technological limitations in using up resources, not by their nobility. There is a clear boundary between those cultures who remained at a hunter/gatherer level, in which some still exist, and cultures which developed technology or grew their populations to change the ecosystems they depended upon. All the latter-mentioned cultures are gone, except for the one we live in today. The world’s earlier cultures, like ours today, are a history of how people used all available means to fight for, exploit and deplete the ecosystems they lived in. Regardless of culture, people of all eras struggled and fought for food, place, benefits and values that are connected to the two powers of selection: To get what’s needed to secure nurturing for children and family (natural selection), and to become an attractive partner (sexual selection)." — The Biological Human Being, by Terje Bongard and Eivin Røskaft, page 239

If people are free to follow their short sighted nature they feel free, if we will all die they don't care.

I will encourage everyone to eat really well this Christmas. You may don't get so many more chances.

Anonymous said...

Cops are maggots!

https://www.dn.no/nyheter/2014/12/18/1048/Jus/kokrimtopper-frifunnet

Anonymous said...

Ny skandaløs dom. Helt uten beviser for noe straffbart. Dette er visstnok helt normalt i norsk rettssystem. Latterlig!

http://www.an.no/D_mt_til_fire__r_fengsel_for_voldtekt-5-4-5022.html

Eivind Berge said...

Ja, helt uten bevis, og selv om han tilfeldigvis skulle være skyldig i det han er anklaget for, så er mannen dømt etter et korrupt voldtektsbegrep hvor kvinnen har angrerett på sex når hun har drukket seg full og vært med frivillig. Og så minstestraff på tre år og normalstraff på fire år i de aller mest trivielle sakene, også etter disse kriteriene. Nå skjønner du hvorfor jeg ble radikalisert som mannsaktivist.

Øyvind Holmstad said...

"Sammenbruddet i oljeprisen i 2014 har ført til at svært mange oljeinvesteringer er ulønnsomme. Men hvor mange? Finansbanken Goldman Sachs har regnet på det og har kommet til at kanskje så mange som to tredeler av de planlagte prosjektene er “levende døde” – zombier."

http://steigan.no/2014/12/21/1000-milliarder-i-zombie-investeringer-i-oljebransjen/

Eivind Berge said...

Wow! Hvis Gail har rett, så var oljeprisen og andre råvarepriser holdt oppe av en global gjeldsboble som nå er i ferd med å sprekke. Det vil si at prisene ikke kommer til å gå opp igjen (i alle fall ikke lenge nok) og lønnsomheten aldri kommer tilbake. Vi er virkelig ille ute. Det virker ikke som Steigan helt har skjønt alvoret heller, siden han ser for seg flere runder med prisøkning.

Øyvind Holmstad said...

I posted your essay at p2p-foundation and you got a comment about entropy:

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/deflationary-collapse-is-underway/2014/12/21#comment-1015081

I'm not really into this entropy-stuff, but maybe you should like to precise further?

Eivind Berge said...

Yes, interesting comment, I will respond later today after some urgent work I need to complete first.

Andrea Muhrrteyn said...

Re: As a reader of Gail Tverberg's blog Our Finite World, I am privy to the fact that our world is soon collapsing. ... 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... 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.

*~~~~~* *~~~~~* *~~~~~* *~~~~~*
Except of Invitation which was sent to Ms. Gail Tverberg to support the implementation of an Ecology of Peace international law social contract for orderly and humane deindustrialization and depopulation. No response received. Full text of invitation available at EoP PoW Geneva Convention Amendments: Submission Documentation: Legal Supporters & Correspondence: Supporters - Read Receipts (PDF).
*~~~~~* *~~~~~* *~~~~~* *~~~~~*

Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2:32 AM
To: 'Oil Drum Editors'; 'Nate Hagens'; 'Brian Maschhoff'; 'Rune Likvern'; 'Gail Tverberg'; 'Chris Vernon'; 'Robert Rapier'; 'Samuel Avro'; 'Juan Aguilar'; 'Allison Braxton'; 'Jeff Vail'; 'Luis de Sousa'
Cc: 'Timothy Truthseeker'
Subject: Legal Invitation: MILINT Earth Day submission to Swiss Federal Council

TO: Oil Drum Editors; Nate Hagens; Brian Maschhoff; Rune Likvern; Gail Tverberg; Chris Vernon; Robert Rapier; Samuel Avro; Juan Aguilar; Allison Braxton; Jeff Vail; Luis de Sousa
CC: Timothy McVeigh

Legal Invitation to support GMC 4643-13 MILINT Earth Day Applicants SUBMISSION TO SWISS FEDERAL COUNCIL RE: GENEVA CONVENTION RELATIVE TO THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS OF WAR, ITO ARTICLES 142 & 143 (PDF).

If you seriously and honourably support the submission to the Swiss Federal Council -- to implement MILINT Earth Day due process solutions to honourably de-industrialize and humanely reduce planetary population and consumption to ecological carrying capacity limits including the adoption of an international law social contract requiring all the worlds religious, racial and cultural tribes to restrict their members consumption and procreation to ecological carrying capacity limits -- please respond with a ‘Read Receipt’.

Your ‘read receipt’ support shall then be included as attached ‘supporters’ for the submission to the Swiss Federal Council; once Presidents Obama and Putin, the Pentagon, CIA, FSB, NATO et al officials; have concluded there is sufficient support for the submission not to be emasculated, of its fundamental MILINT Earth Day principles.

‘Not Read’ responses shall be interpreted as follows:

You did not read the invitation; or Notice of Legal Argument objection.

Terms of Service: Re: ‘Not Read’ = Notice of Legal Argument Objection:

If your ‘not read’ response is a result of your objection to the Military Necessity CommonSism arguments to implement international legislation to limit the ‘right to breed’ and ‘right to consume’ to carrying capacity limits; to orderly address ecological overshoot and climate collapse; to be submitted to the Swiss Federal Council.

You are invited to submit a brief with your legal argument, and evidence for your legal argument; within two weeks of your ‘not read’ response ‘notice to object’. .......... [ continued ]

-- end excerpt --

FTR: A copy of this comment is posted to Transcript of Comments Correspondence [PDF]: RE: Former MILED Clerk Ecology of Peace v War is Peace culture NWO Negotiations [PDF].