Exponential Growth


Peak Prosperity

What Should I Do? - Crash Course Chapter 26

Take prudent steps NOW, while there's still time
Saturday, January 10, 2015, 10:43 AM

If there’s one message to take away from this newly-updated Crash Course video series, it’s this:  It’s time for you to become more resilient and more engaged. Things are changing quickly and nobody knows how much time we have before the next economic, ecological or energy related crisis erupts.  Nobody knows when, but we do have a pretty good idea of what is coming.

And it is within your control to enter the coming future with a higher degree of security, prosperity and fulfillment than you enjoy now. » Read more


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Future Shock - Crash Course Chapter 25

The unsustainable often ends abruptly
Friday, December 26, 2014, 10:24 PM

Chapter 25 of the Crash Course is now publicly available and ready for watching below.

Here at the penultimate chapter of The Crash Course, everything we've learned comes together into a single narrow range of time we'll call the twenty-teens. 

What this chapter offers is a comprehensive view of how all of our problems are actually interrelated and need to be viewed as such, or solutions will continue to elude us. » Read more


National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

The Environment: Depleting Resources - Crash Course Chapter 23

Why scarcity will define the future
Friday, November 28, 2014, 2:44 PM

The bottom line is this: we, as a species, all over the globe, have already mined the richest ores, found the easiest energy sources, and farmed the richest soils that our Environment has to offer.

We have taken several hundreds of millions of years of natural ore body, fossil energy deposition, aquifer accumulation, soil creation, and animal population growth -- and largely burned through them in the few years since oil was discovered. It is safe to say that in human terms, once these are gone, man, they’re gone. » Read more


Peak Prosperity

Compounding Is The Problem: Crash Course Chapter 4

By the time the problem is visible, it can't be avoided
Friday, July 11, 2014, 11:32 AM

Chapter 4 of the Crash Course is now publicly available. It includes Chris' famous "magic eye dropper" example of how the compounding nature of exponential systems speeds up over time, often in ways very non-intuitive to the human mind. » Read more


Peak Prosperity

Exponential Growth: Crash Course Chapter 3

The most important driver of future trends
Friday, July 4, 2014, 10:18 AM

Chapter 3 of the Crash Course, Exponential Growth, is now publicly available: » Read more


This chapter of the new Crash Course series has not yet been made available to the public.

Each week over the rest of 2014, in sequential order, a new chapter will be made publicly available (we've currently published up to Chapter 2)

If you don't want to wait, you can:


Japan Is Struggling

More data on my favorite black swan candidate for 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012, 8:53 PM

In a prior piece this year, I proclaimed Japan to be my favored candidate to be the black swan of 2012. By this I mean that a financial accident in Japan that would create massive havoc in the world markets seems even more likely to me than something originating in Europe.

The reason is precisely because all eyes (and efforts) are focused on Europe, leaving Japan out of focus and unattended, so to speak. This is practically a requirement for a crisis spot; crises never seem to arise in the place everybody is already watching. Japan is nicely out of focus and therefore a good place for us to keep our eyes trained upon.

In the most recent podcast with Mish, we discussed the fact that Japan had recently posted its largest first half trade deficit in history. Then Mish asked if Japan's current account had slipped into negative territory yet, as that event will accelerate the pace at which Japan's looming structural insolvency will arrive.

While discussing the current account, a normally obscure economic term, seems a bit wonkish, it is really quite important. So let's start there, with a definition as a refresher for myself and perhaps an introduction for others. » Read more


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You are at the part of the Crash Course where everything you learned comes together into a single chapter. Chapter 19 contains a comprehensive view of how all of our problems are actually interrelated and need to be viewed as such or solutions will continue to elude us.

We will review the key trends, which appear to be converging on a very narrow window of the future. Here is a two-second recap of the key issues. If you have watched all of the videos until this point, you will undoubtedly see how they are connected:

Money, credit, growth. Exponential growth. Debt, future, history. Failure to save. Assets, housing, bubble, financial panic. Demographics, wealth, boomers, falling values. Fuzzy numbers. Energy, oil, growth. Peak Oil. Environment, resources, exploitation, change.

This chapter will connect the dots and beckon us toward the future.


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In theory, there’s nothing problematic with living in a world full of exponential growth and depletion curves – as long as the world does not have any boundaries. However, exponential functions take on enormous importance when they approach a physical boundary, as seems to be the case for oil in the very near future. Both discoveries and production indicate that we could be at oil’s exponential boundary already.

We can make a very strong case that both population and our money system are utterly dependent on the continued expansion of oil energy. But what if our exponentially-based economic and monetary systems, rather than being the sophisticated culmination of human evolution, are really just an artifact of oil? What if all of our rich societal complexity and all of our trillions of dollars of wealth and debt simply are the human expression of surplus energy pumped from the ground?

What will happen to our exponential, debt-based money system? Is it even possible for it to function in a world without constant growth? These are important questions, and they deserve answers.


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In order to understand the urgency I feel about the issues covered in the Crash Course, you need to understand the power of compounding. If something, such as a population, oil demand, a money supply, or anything else steadily increases in size in some proportion to its current size, and you graph it over time, the graph will look like a hockey stick.

Said more simply, if something is increasing over time on a percentage basis, it is growing exponentially. With exponential functions, the action really only heats up in the last few moments. There is simply not a lot of maneuvering room once you hop on the vertical portion of a compound graph.