Fifty years ago, an international team of researchers was commissioned by the Club of Rome to build a computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth on a finite planet.

In 1971, its findings were first released in Moscow and Rio de Janeiro, and later published in 1972 under the title The Limits To Growth. The report concluded:

  1. Given business as usual, i.e., no changes to historical growth trends, the limits to growth on earth would become evident by 2072, leading to “sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity”. This includes the following:
    • Global Industrial output per capita reaches a peak around 2008, followed by a rapid decline
    • Global Food per capita reaches a peak around 2020, followed by a rapid decline
    • Global Services per capita reaches a peak around 2020, followed by a rapid decline
    • Global population reaches a peak in 2030, followed by a rapid decline
  2. Growth trends existing in 1972 could be altered so that sustainable ecological and economic stability could be achieved.
  3. The sooner the world’s people start striving for the second outcome above, the better the chance of achieving it.

Few reports have generated as much debate, discussion and disagreement. Though it’s hard to argue that its forecasts made back in the early 1970s have proved eerily accurate over the ensuing decades.

But most of its warnings have been largely ignored by policymakers hoping (blindly?) for a rosier future.

One of the original seventeen researchers involved in The Limits To Growth study, Dennis Meadows, joins us for the podcast this week. Fifty years later, what does he foresee ahead?

Decline is now inevitable.

We’re without any question moving into the remainder of a century which is going to see, by the end of these decades, a much smaller population, much lower level of energy and material consumption and so forth.

Whether we retain equity amongst people and avoid the more violent forms of conflict remains to be seen. But sustainable development is no longer an option.

This is one of the most important discussions we’ve ever recorded among the hundreds produced over the past decade.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Dennis Meadows (55m:24s).

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Transcript

Chris Martenson:     Welcome, everyone, to this Featured Voices podcast. I'm your host, Chris Martenson, and it is December 5, 2019. You know, here’s one of the things that I'm fond of saying, and I picked this up from some really incredible people who are in the space, and it’s simply this idea that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. I mean, it’s just obviously a wrong idea. Ever since Malthus way back when noted that geometric growth and exponential growth are a bad combination, that’s been proven out over and over again. And it’s not a terribly difficult thing to reason out either. It really isn’t.

But somehow, continuous exponential growth, that’s still the operative economic model of our times. Endless growth as far as the eye can see, that’s the model. The global economy seeks nothing else besides more growth at all points in time. Politicians also seek nothing but more growth; they will all promise it, faster growth or even faster growth than that. That’s the debate in political circles at this point.

Every single stock and bond portfolio owes an enormous amount of its present value to the concept of endless economic growth actually happening. So that’s the model we're running. And yet, it’s a completely unworkable model.

Anybody who’s ever filled a glass with water can tell you why. Finite things, they have limits. A glass can only hold so much water. A stadium can only hold so many people. An entire planet only has so much to give and only so much space upon its surface. These are not terrible difficult concepts.

But really, what’s surprising about talking about any limits to growth is that it remains so difficult, controversial even. So misunderstood. Really a difficult concept to broach.

Now, given the outcast status of the conversation, you maybe come to the conclusion it’s still a very new concept maybe that needs a few more years to penetrate the centers of intellectual and political power, but that’s not the case. The ideas are many decades old.

And today we're going to be discussing the limits to growth which was published in 1972 and reported on the results of a computer simulation of exponential economic and population growth set against a finite supply of resources. It was funding by the Volkswagen Foundation, commissioned by the Club of Rome. The findings of the study were first presented at international gatherings in Moscow, in Rio De Janeiro, in the summer of 1971. The reports authors are Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William Behrens representing a team of over 17 researchers.

Now, today we're going to be talking with one of the lead co-authors of The Limits to Growth. That’s Dennis Meadows. Dennis is an American scientist. He’s a former director for the Institute for Policy and Social Science Research at the University of New Hampshire. He is president of The Laboratory for Interactive Learning and speaks to audiences widely. I first met Dennis at a Population Media Center back I think it was in 2009, and I'm just thrilled to have him on the program with us today. Welcome, Dennis.

Dennis Meadows:      Thank you. Happy to have a chance to talk.

Chris Martenson:     Well, thank you for that. Dennis, for our listeners, can you please summarize The Limits to Growth. What is it?

Dennis Meadows:      In the early ‘70s, a group called the Club of Rome, which is an international network of mainly corporate leaders, became concerned about the interconnection of emerging problems, and out of their conversations evolved finally a project at MIT, which I directed over a course of two years.

We gathered available data going back to the year 1900 to create a computer simulation model showing the interaction between population, economic capital, and environmental resources, and used it to project out to 2100 under a bunch of different assumptions, assumptions about social change, technical change, and so forth.

And the basic conclusion was that if the policies which were then in force and which had produced enormous growth in in welfare around the world by early ‘70s, if those were continued, we would see further growth through maybe 2020, and then the physical realities would start to impress themselves and there would be decline.

We knew it was impossible to make predictions precisely because so much of this depends on political responses, so we developed a set of thirteen different scenarios, some of which showed sustainable development, most of which showed what we would loosely term overshooting decline. And it’s the overshooting decline scenario which is our standard – was standard at that time – and actually has been borne out. We're clearly now just beginning the decline phase.

Chris Martenson:     So let’s talk about overshoot really quickly. I noticed in your book, in Limits to Growth and the update, you also talk about the three causes of overshoot. If we could just define overshoot for people so we're all on the same page, please.

Dennis Meadows:      Overshoot refers to a concept of carrying capacity. Carrying capacity is the rather loosely defined concept of how much a population can be supported on a given ecosystem. So in our case, it comes down to sort of how much population and material wellbeing can be sustained a planet earth given its stock of resources and its natural regenerative possibilities.

This is a concept which is not very well defined. It’s subject to a lot of debate. But I think there's pretty good consensus that the current population, and certainly the current material wellbeing, are far above what could be sustained.

So, as a consequence, it’s kind of like if you have a bank account, for a short period you can spend a lot more from the bank than you're putting into it as you draw down your reserves. But at some point, you deplete your reserves, and then your spending has to go into a decline. And in a very crude way that’s what we're looking at.

In our case, spending is things like energy use, food consumption, fresh water, and so forth.

Chris Martenson:     So this idea of overshoot – you know, I'm a biologist by training, I guess. My PhD is in pathology. I did a lot of biology as I went through. And to me, humans are just another organism. And whatever metaphor you want to use, whether you talk about mountain climbers carrying calories up a mountain, and they can only go so far as their calories will permit them to go and then they get into trouble, or whether you look at cheetah’s chasing gazelles, there's sort of rule there which says that every organism needs to live within its energy budget one way or the other.

And the way I look at all of this, it says, well, you know, humans as an organism came upon a really, really tasty, highly concentrated form of chemical energy – we call them fossil fuels. And coincident with that discovery came all sorts of things which included this tasty growth that everybody seems to really love because along with that growth came rising standards of living and a lot of progress and a lot of technology and an age off abundance that is unmatched in the human experience.

And so the way I look at this, Dennis, it seems to me that people are confusing access to energy with human ingenuity. And do you see it that way, and can you help parse that for people a little bit here?

Dennis Meadows:      Well, it’s complicated. And so when you talk about carrying capacity by, let’s say, using fruit flies in a bottle, the situation is quite clear. But when you start to look at humans on the planet and factor in the capacity for technological advance and resources substitution and so forth, it becomes more ambiguous although the underlying situation is still the same.

Yes, you're right. The discovery of how to find and then to use the various fossil fuels, natural gas, coal, oil, principally, was a one-time event in the history of our species starting, as you know, in the late 1800s up until now. And without any question, that burst of energy has given us access to a standard of living that never existed for the masses before.

I was reading recently a recapitulation of the situation, and someone said – I don't know if the numbers are precisely correct, but they’re ceratianly in the ballpark – that a barrel of oil contain four and a half years of human energy in an equivalent. So every time you use a barrel of oil you basically have got yourself a slave for four and a half person years. Well, obviously, with that kind of slave we can enjoy the sort of life that let’s say the ancient elite Romans used to have when they had hundreds of slaves.

But the oil’s going to run out. It is running out, actually. Conventional oil peaked out probably in 2006. This burst of fracking, and to some extent deep oil, has sustained the growth, but general consensus is that by 2030 fossil fuel production levels will be quite far below what they are today. And there's virtually no way we're going to invent our way out of dealing with the consequences of that.

Chris Martenson:     Yeah, and that, of course, remains a very controversial subject for a lot of people who do believe in technology. We’ll get to that in just a minute because I think it’s an important conversation to have.

So, The Limits to Growth comes out. It makes quite a splash, actually. If I have my number right, more than 30 million copies of the book sold, translated into 37 languages, and it remains the top selling environmental title ever published. Given all that, what we're the aims of the group when you decided to run the study, and how have those been meet by all of that success?

Dennis Meadows:      You started this interview with a monolog about the absurdity of the notion that growth can continue forever. That went into our study. We didn’t imagine that we were going to have to prove that growth couldn’t continue forever. That was a predicate for the study. And we then set out to understand how much longer physical growth could be sustained and what would be some various options for dealing with the limits for physical growth.

We emerged from that with a set of scenarios which we loosely termed sustainable development and pointed out, amongst other things, that social and cultural changes are actually much more important than technical changes. Technical changes, for example energy efficiency, can buy a little time, but they don’t solve the problem. The problem is exponential growth of consumption demands and population on a finite planet and stopping those is not a technical but rather a cultural issue.

So we pointed that out, and in the last 45 years, I’ve given thousands of speeches, written another nine books, met with tens of thousands of people to discuss this issue. The baseline, I would say, is there has not been much change.

A recent retrospective analysis of our work undertaken in Australia at the National Institute there concluded that the world was still evolving more or less along our standard scenario. That is to say, for all of these 45 years of concern about climate and energy and everything else, basically, the dominate policies in 1970 still prevail. Politicians still find growth a wonderful Ponzi scheme which lets them promise more for everybody without asking anybody to sacrifice. And, of course, there's a whole institutional framework in Wall Street and the banks geared up to make short terms profits off it. So none of that’s changed. If anything, it’s gotten, I would say, much more pronounced.

Chris Martenson:     If I have the story right, I believe one of the principals involved in that Australian study you just mentioned there, I believe he started an off-grid community way out in the wilderness, or something is response. Ran through the data again and said where are we, how are we tracking? Found that business as usual was the closest approximation.

And, of course, when you model that all the way out, the scenario says that leads to overshoot and then collapse. And that remains the conclusion that seems to be driving some – at least this person’s behaviors, and mine as well. I have to confess, that idea of overshoot and collapse, when I look into that it’s very euphemistic terms for what I see as very unpleasant possibly future. Doesn’t have to happen, but still, that’s what we seem to be tracking towards. Is that accurate?

Dennis Meadows:      Actually, I would correct you on two different things.  So I would say decline – let’s call it decline because I think it’s going to be a bit more orderly than is implied by the term collapse. But decline is now, I would say, inevitable. I wrote already in 1999 an article, which is published in one of the major German newspapers, the title of which was It’s Too Late for Sustainable Development. It was true then, and it’s even more true now.

So we're without any question moving into the remainder of a century which is going to see, by the end of these decades, a much smaller population, much lower level of energy and material consumption and so forth. Whether we retain equity amongst people and avoid the more violent forms of conflict remains to be seen. But sustainable development is no longer an option.

Now, in terms of your personal situation, it’s tempting, when looking at the results of our study, to think of things in sort of black and white terms. We made a global model. The model didn’t differentiate amongst the various countries. We used averages. We didn’t talk about the extremes. And so while on average decline I think has already started in material terms, there will be people, even younger people today probably, who live out their lifetime without really ever being aware or experiencing personally the consequences.

It’s an unfortunate fact that the poor and dis-powered who, by and large, haven’t caused these problems, are going to be the first ones and the most serious ones to experience them.  Somebody like you who’s rich, smart, and mobile will probably be able to move around, at least for yourself and your immediate colleagues, structure an existence which is acceptable to you.

Chris Martenson:     Now, as we look at the granular nature of this, you’ve travelled around and seen how a lot of countries are and are not maybe positioning themselves with this awareness, do you have places where you think there are countries and large enough groups of people that get it, that are actively reorganizing themselves in fruitful ways? Or is it really more homogenous than that, that everybody’s going to get bit by the peak oil bug at some point equally?

Dennis Meadows:      So, of course, there are efforts at innovation going on around the world, both in rich and in poor areas. And I think when you assess them you need to differentiate between what I would loosely term global and universal problems. Universal problems affect everybody, but they can be dealt with and immigrated locally: water pollution, soil erosion, air contamination. These are universal problems. You can clean up the air in Detroit without having to wait for Beijing or Tokyo to clean up their air.

So people can innovate socially and create circumstances for themselves where they can reduce the impact of the emerging universal problems. Global problems affect everybody and are only going to be dealt with through collective action: climate change, some aspects of fossil fuel depletion, nuclear proliferation, the threat of global epidemics – these are global problems, and no amount of innovation is going to protect you over the long term from these things. If they manifest globally, they’re going to affect everybody.

Now, you can move to areas which are relatively less affected by climate change now, but by the time we’ve run the trends out – let’s say another ten, twenty, thirty years – the disruptions of natural cycles are going to be affecting everybody. Rich people can buy their way out of food shortages. They can buy clean water. But they’re not going to be able to buy a benign climate.

Chris Martenson:     Right. And that’s an excellent distinction: global versus universal. And we're already starting to see, I think, the early results back from India getting closer and closer to the wet bulb temperature past which humans cannot survive without air conditioning or some other artificial support. India is being followed I think closely by Australia, which is just, again, under drought and bush fires and abnormally warm temperatures, all this and that.

So I think at least in a couple cases, we're already seeing the early stages of what the future is likely to hold. Would you agree with that, or is this still just an example of where climate change and weather events can’t really be connected yet?

 

Dennis Meadows:      There is no longer any scientific uncertainty about the fact that climate change is progressing. It’s cost, at least in some measure, and probably large measure, by human activity, and that it is moving the weather regime into more disruptive and negative areas. And it’s, of course, not only hot temperatures that are causing problems. Sea level rise combined with more intense periods of rainfall and wind are causing flooding problems or drought problem on occasion. The agricultural systems are starting to be disrupted.

I’m watching with great interest what’s unfolding just now between the hog epidemic in China, the freezing of, for example major potato producing areas, the flooding of some of the major grain producing areas. I think food may already be a serious constraint even next spring, and not only in India, but some places like the United States.

So, yes, we are absolutely seeing these things now and in many ways. The people who deny that this is happening I think, by and large, actually are not ignorant of it. It’s just that they don’t care or that they find it politically extremely inconvenient to deal with the consequences. So rather than try to figure out how to solve the problem, you just deny it.

Chris Martenson:     You know, Dennis, I guess I'm well over a decade at this now, and I’ve put together a thing called the Crash Course which is sort of a systemic level view to try and put together the economy, energy, environment into sort of a very high level view to say hey, look, you know, this is like one big balloon. You can squeeze on one part and it just pops out over here.

So we’ve hit the edges of what the earth can provide, and now we have to manage it as if it were a single thing. And, of course, you know, I was just trying to bring to the financial community this idea that infinite exponential growth, it’s the plan, but it’s not a good one. And it’s not even possibly.

So even with all that, I thought I was in the business of sharing information with people. But I have a science background. I have a lot of training in it, and data speaks to me, and I quickly learned that it doesn’t speak to most people.

And further, that data can actually cause the opposite effect of what you expect, called the backfire effect. And I had to take this whole tour into psychology and areas that had frankly not been strong in my background to learn things about why people actually form opinions and hold beliefs and how they can shift those.

Because really, you said earlier that it’s not the technology that matters, it’s the social and cultural variables and how we push those. Those are largely immune to data, I found, personally. And I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that and what you’ve encountered and learned over the years?

Dennis Meadows:      I have, in retrospect, spent a lot of my time communication with people who are generally inclined to share these views. You know, when you or I go and give a speech, or when you or I write a book, the people we're speaking to are by and large not rabid critics, but rather people who are looking for a reaffirmation of views that they already hold.

Unfortunately, they are a very small minority. And I agree with you, for a large fraction of the population, the kind of data becoming available now don’t serve to persuade anyone of either the situation or they need to change.

I'm not an expert in this area, but I have wondered whether actually our species cognitively has the capacity to deal with these issues. You know, we evolved over several hundred thousand years where long-term issues were simply not an issue. The main concern was to escape immediate danger, acquire food over the next 24 hours, and at the very longest, move so as to cope with seasonal changes.

But if you had two cavemen sitting there, one guy says, “Let’s run.  There's a tiger coming.” And the other one says, “Let’s develop some hundred-year scenarios,” the first one is going to pass on his genes and the second one isn’t. And here we are two, three hundred thousand years later.

It has occurred to me that we simply will not deal with this issue. You know, somebody said to me the other day, “Well, we got to save the planet.” And I said, “No, we don’t, the planet always saves itself.” You know, we worry about climate change. Climate change is not worried about us. Climate change is a mechanism by which the planet re-establishes some sort of dynamic equilibrium in this little thin micro percentage fraction of its surface.

And if it takes the planet a million years, two million years, you know, it’s not a matter of great concern to the planet. But, of course, it has enormous implications for our species.

Chris Martenson:     Well, indeed, the earth will be just fine, and it will go forward. So I really do think this is about whether humans are capable of getting past our wiring, and I think we are.

So here’s the thing. When people ask me this – I have great faith in individuals – I have almost no faith in groups of people, the larger the group the worse that prognosis for me. And so what it really speaks to is that we do need to start making these changes. And, of course, it’s great to see younger people starting to disconnect from the standard model, which is consumerism and infinite growth, at least enough to say, hey, we're really worried about the future; it looks like the elder generations are not saying the right things or doing the right things.

But given all that, with Greta Thunberg coming up and all of that, with all that awareness now centered around climate change, have you seen any proposals from even I would say the most ardent of climate change groups that would actually go far enough to prevent the worst declines that you're seeing in the Limits to Growth models?

Dennis Meadows:      I have seen proposals which if they had been implemented back in the ‘70s would have achieved that purpose. But I would say that now a number of self-reinforcing positive loops have kicked in on the climate system to the point where it almost doesn’t make much difference what we do, what humans do with respect to energy use.

The climate dynamics are going to play themselves out according to a set of long-term physical parameters over which we have essentially no control. So I guess the simple answer to your question is yes, I have seen proposals that would have worked 40 years ago. They won’t work now.

Chris Martenson:     And is that simply because the scale of the problem or because we’ve gone past some sort of critical moment?

Dennis Meadows:      As I said, it’s because the number of self-reinforcing feedback loops have kicked in. These are called, in the climate community, tipping points. You know, for example, the sun comes down, it melts the ice on the Arctic. When the Arctic ice melts, less sunshine is reflected back so that more is absorbed by the earth, so the earth warms up, so it becomes even warmer, so even more ice melts, et cetera.

Well, once that cycle starts, whether or not somebody in Delhi decides to drive their car becomes increasing irrelevant.  We are now in a point where not only the Arctic ice cycle, but methane emissions and the tundra, the slowing of heat exchange cycles, macro cycles and a number of things that have started to pick up, and once they get going, they sustain themselves.

We triggered them but having – it’s kind of like firing a bullet of a gun. You can decide whether or not to shoot the gun, but once you pull the trigger you no longer have any flexibility about that despite the fact that there will be a short period of time where there's no apparent consequences for what you’ve done.

Chris Martenson:     Yeah, so as we look at that idea, you mentioned – I think this as in the 30 Year Update to Limits of Growth – and I’d love to hear what was new in that and what got changed – you said, “Now we must tell people how to manage an orderly reduction of their activities back down below the limits of the earths’ resources.”

There's a related idea to that which I just love which is that instead of looking at this as piles of resources and how many are there, you actually talk about this around the concept of throughputs of resources. Can you talk to us about that?

Dennis Meadows:      Yes, I’ll be pleased to. Let me point out that the book you're citing was written 15 years ago and, of course, things have progressed in the last 15 years.

But underlying our analysis, a fundamental concept is the difference between stocks and flows. Stocks are accumulations which sit there. It’s like water in a bathtub. And flows are the rate at which those stocks increase or decrease. Having a stock of energy under the ground, which we did have for millions of years, has no particular influence on the climate. It’s once the flow of that energy increases to the point where carbon balances are changed that it starts to have an impact.

So this interrelationship between stocks and flows is replicated through out our analysis. Take populations, for example. If you have a stock of people, which we do now of 7.5 billion people, too large to be supported by the planet, it has to go down. It will go down one way or another. There are only two ways it can go down. The birth rate can decline – that’s the input flow – or the death rate can increase, and that’s the output flow.

We have been working as a species for a long time very hard to reduce the death rate. We haven’t put much energy into reducing the birth rate. And so one way or another, those two flows will come back into balance.

If we choose how they do that, we're more likely to be happy with the results. If we ignore the problem and let the planet set them to be equal, then probably that will operate to the death rate in ways that we're not very happy with.

 

Chris Martenson:     Yeah, you know, this is getting back to this idea of social versus cultural in this particular story. Those two things feel like the most important variables here because we already have – here’s the frustrating part for me, and it’s maybe the hopeful part for other people. So are you an optimist or a pessimist in this story? I consider myself a realist. But it goes like this: we already know that the sun heats things up really well and if you just orient your house to thee south and have appropriate overhangs and window glazing and then maybe some solar hot water heaters up there that you could reduce the energy footprint of a house magnificently.

And you mentioned the 1970s. We’ve known this since the 1970s. It’s not hard. It’s not rocket science. And yet, I would say, Dennis, that nearly every new development drive by is totally ignorant of these things, which means it’s not a failure to have the technology. It’s not a failure to have the knowledge. It’s not a failure of any of those things, it’s just we have a culture that doesn’t think those things are important yet.

And so, as you mentioned, you pull the trigger and the bullet leaves the barrel. It feels like we're already past that overshoot moment, and yet we're persisting as if it doesn’t exist. Is that a fair way to look at this?

Dennis Meadows:      Yes.

Chris Martenson:     And how do we go about changing that?

Dennis Meadows:      It’s possibly to respond to that question in theory or I practice. I can tell you a lot of theoretical changes that would have an impact, specifically, let’s say taking a look at the use of solar on residential structures. In theory, you could change that by inventing a drastically new and much cheaper solar energy source, and then, in theory, you could require that it be retrofitted on all existing structures.

But in practice, the housing stock has an average lifetime of 20 or 30 years. So even if you started right now to implement solar at 100 percent of everything newly built, it’s still going to be 30 years before you have penetrated the market. So that’s the different between theory and practice.

I know lots of theoretical things that may get done, but when I look at the practicality of it, the physical delays, the short time horizons of politicians, the overemphasis of the economic system on monetary instead of physical indicators and so forth, then practically speaking I don’t know how you could do it.

                                   

Chris Martenson:     I guess I'm looking at the difference between if you fly into Tel Aviv or into China, you’ll find that there are solar rooftop collectors for hot water. Thermal collectors on pretty much every roof because it’s mandated, and they said this is important and we’d rather not be expending fossil fuels to heat water because guess what? The sun does a great job at that, and that all just makes sense.

In the United States, if you fly in almost anywhere, including even in Tucson, you have to scour really hard and you’ll see them on less than one percent of the roofs, if my rough airborne estimating is correct. And so it’s not a question of does this make sense long term? Does it make sense even short term? Does it make sense financially? Do we like to support local manufacturing installation and maintenance? Every possible reason you could say this is a green checkmark, and yet it doesn’t happen.

So again, back to this idea of how we go about changing people’s cultural practices in this. That’s such a long-term project. It’s sort of where my scepticism comes in because I know what’s possible, but what’s probable is a different thing. And I think you’re right, we have to change the social and cultural conditioning first.

And the only times those really change, the only thing I have in my data sets, like here’s when oil consumption went down, was during a moment of economic duress. That’s the kind of thing that changes people.

But, of course, when you're in the middle of an economic crisis people say, well, now is a really bad time to talk about doing things because we're in a crisis. And then you get out into the good times. Eh, it’s a bad time to talk about stuff because everything’s going good, why would we want change anything?

So we have this enormous resistance to this change. It feels like, at least in the United States, but maybe other parts of the world, it’s going to require some sort of a slap to the face to really change things and put us on that fabled World War II war footing equivalent.

What kind of things can you imagine would be a significant enough wake up call to actually create that level of change?

Dennis Meadows:      I’ve asked myself that question, of course, more or less continuously for the last 45 years, and I haven’t come up with a really good answer. An unfortunate tendency of our species is to erode its standards so that – it’s like cooking a frog in water. The idea being if you stick a frog into hot water – let me say a repulsive idea, but if you were to do it the frog would hopefully jump back out. But if you put it cold water and slowly bring it up, the frog never notices the difference.

Well, our attitudes about energy price, climate variability and so forth, have this unfortunate tendency to track recent experience. So in order to catalyse action there needs to be a really big difference between what you want and what you get. And if you want is slowly tracking what you get, difference never opens up enough to prompt action.

You mentioned sort of growing chaos. That’s another one of the self-reinforcing loops is as leaders come into a period of chaos, the natural inclination, for reasons that you explained, in part, are to do short term expedience. That is, to do things which have a very short time perspective and diminish the symptoms of the problem without actually altering the underlying causes.

Well, when you do that, rather quickly, the problems mount even further.  So you're in this cycle where you do short-sighted, short term things that causes more problems which causes you to be even more short term and more short-sighted. And I'm afraid we're in that mode now.

The climate debates, the discussions about energy and so forth are simply what we term kicking the can down the road. You know, it’s a group of economic, political leaders who are basically saying there shouldn’t be problems on my watch. If I can simply defer the consequences of this until after I'm out of office or retired, that’s good enough for me.

How to overcome that, well, I mean, in theory, we need longer term perspectives. One of my dear friends, Elise Bowling, used to talk about the 50-year presence. This notion that you walk around viewing everything in the context not of the immediate or the day implications, but how it’s going to unfold over the next 50 years. And if you had a 50-year presence, the cause of what you're doing now would start to outweigh the benefits. But the benefits are always short term and the cost are longer term. So you don’t have a 50-year present but a one-day present, or a one-hour present, then there's just systematically the inclination to keep doing things which are going to cause you more problems later.

Chris Martenson:     So if we look at the tendencies here, I know that you mention that it’s been, and I can’t believe this, but it’s been 5 years since the update to Limits to Growth, and you mentioned that things have transpired since. First, very quickly, what was in the update? Did you have new variables? How were the models shifted and what popped out of that? And secondly, what do we know since then?

Dennis Meadows:      We rewrote the book, Limits to Growth, three times, and each was a fundamental rewrite. We sat down – we kept the structure, you know, the logical structure of the book, but we re-examined everything to new data, possibilities for new relationships in the model. But finally, at the level of the long-term global future, we didn’t find reasons to make major changes. So, of course, there were some discoveries.

I think we underestimated the response of human decisions to some of the economic variables that are at work. We also, I think, underestimated to a minor extent the ability to increase food production through the application of fertilizers and water. But when we put those changes into the model and then ran it out to 2100, it didn’t make any difference in the fundamental results.

We still concluded that you simple cannot support seven or eight or nine billion people with a material and energy flow anything like what  is currently experienced in the West or aspired to in the third world.

Now, as to what’s happened in the last 15 years, well, we had at one time actually intended to write the 4th edition of the book. But I finally decided not to do that because sort of the conceptual framework which you use simply no longer applies. In the first three editions, we could show how current policies were leading to a period of overshoot decline, and we could lay out, at least in theory, some changes, cultural and other changes so it would avoid that outcome and produce not infinite long-term welfare, but at least sustain our species in its current form, more or less, for another century.

Well, in  the last 15 years, there's been such an acceleration in demand for energy and materials, the natural resources of the earth have deteriorated sufficiently, and the population has grown to the point where I no longer see ways realistically of changing the model to produce a so-called sustainable development scenario.

And it’s caused me, in my own thinking, to shift from this notion of sustainable development, which is actually a kind of an oxymoron anyway, over to the concept of resilience. How do you structure a system, a personal system, your family, your firm, your household, your town, your nation, so that it will absorb the shocks which are coming and continue to afford a basis for a humane existence?

Resilience has a benefit of being scalable. You can think about resilient policies at the household level. You can think about resilient policies at the national level. That’s less true over the long term for sustainable development. I don't know how an individual can think about sustainable development of a household over say the next 30, 40, 50 years in the midst of a nation which is pursuing exactly the opposite goal.

Chris Martenson:     Fascinating. And quite aligned with the thinking of Adam Taggart and myself and what we do at Peak Prosperity is encouraging people towards resilience along multiple dimensions. A lot of people hear that word and they think, oh, I’ve got food in the basement.  That’s not it. We're talking about eight different forms of capital, living capital being your personal health and the ecosystem around you as much as you can influence as well as your social capital, emotional capital, a lot of things that are really, really critical.

And I think, Dennis, part of the problem when we talk about this decline part, to you or I where we can run the numbers and we go, oh, it’s kind of a unless we do something, and we're not doing anything, that’s what’s coming.

For a lot of people, that evokes something where they think, oh, they’re talking about going back to the Middle Ages. So to resilience, I have this other word I like to throw in which is preservation. Middle Ages they didn’t have germ theory, and they didn’t understand some of the finer points of how we heal developmental trauma and all these wonderful things we’ve learned. We need to preserve those as well.

And the question is really can we fashion lives that sustain a really comfortable standard of living, but at maybe much lower levels of throughputs from that stocks and flows example that we currently have?  Do you think – is that a framework that has some legs here at least to buy us some time? And is there a way we could go there?

Dennis Meadows:      I think all of those are important ideas. Welfare, real welfare, by and large, depends of the stocks that we’ve accumulated, housing stock and so forth. And, obviously, there are ways to sustain those stocks with much lower throughputs. Extremely useful, feasible, important to pursue them.

But there's another part of the equation, which I think probably you're also pursuing. And you say sustain a comfortable lifestyle. Well, you know, that’s a matter of social definition. I remember back in the early 50s, my family had a housing, had transport and other stocks which would be considered today very inferior. Nonetheless, we were perfectly comfortable and happy.

So I like to point out that happiness is getting what you want. And if you're not happy, that means you're not getting what you want. There are two ways to adjust. One is increase what you get. That’s, of course, the traditional way. And the other is to reduce what you want.

A very important policy, a very important strategy for the next decades will be people and larger groups, families, communities and so forth, adjusting their goals and understanding how they can have objectives which are not purely measured by let’s say GDP. Making yourself happy with much lower stocks. That’s a very important, very feasible thing to do.

Chris Martenson:     Well, indeed. And we have – part of the battle that I know you fight, I'm sure, I do as well, is this idea that technology is going to save us, and the people are very techno utopian and they look at the positive sides of things all the time. And I’ll tell you what. I like my Smartphone. I live being able to drive in through Boston, which I can’t fathom, but with GPS it’s possible. I get it.

And at the same time, we have people now reporting a whole generation that feels more isolated, more lonely, more disconnected from self, from other, unhappy, and that’s the other side of that coin. So it’s clear that somehow in our so-called modern existence we’ve lost some things that used to add to that level of happiness. And, of course, the consumer model is perfectly happy to fill that back on with cheap dopamine hits from new TVs and the latest app on your Smartphone.

And so as we get locked into this, it feels to me like there's a little bit of a seismic shift coming where it almost feels like a critical mass of people have started to say hey, wait a minute; we don’t even like this culture we’ve got. Can we do better? The answer is yes, but maybe I speak to an echo chamber.

What’s your personal experience with the people you live around and communicate with who you would consider your neighbor’s? How on this wavelength are they do you think, without getting anybody in trouble?

 

Dennis Meadows:      First of all, I’d have to point out, I live in a very, very unrepresentative milieu. I'm in New Hampshire. I'm in an academic university town which has a fairly high-income standard, so I wouldn’t want to make inferences about the globe by looking around my neighborhood.

Nonetheless, even amongst my colleagues, my friends, it varies enormously. Some are rabid Trump supporter. Some are rabid Trump non-supporters. Some believe in climate change. Other are incredibly sceptical. There is a shift, I think, towards things like recycling, renewable energy use, shifting mass transport modes and so forth. I wouldn’t call it a seismic wave, but it’s coming.

You mentioned this notion that technology will save us. It’s unfortunately one of the main problems we have to deal with is that many people hold this view. It’s an incredibly naïve view, I can say, having spent a lot of my life being at the forefront of developing new technology.  There's somehow implicit in that idea that technology is autonomous, that it moves according to its own goals and that those goals are beneficial. In fact, that’s actually not the case.

Technology emerges when people invest money and effort into developing something new, and they don’t do that at random, and they by and large don’t do it out of a sense of general human wellbeing. They do it because they feel it will give them some special economic, political, military advantage. And so when you say that technology will save us, you're really saying that the people who invest in technology will save us. And that’s a much more difficult idea to defend.

Who invests in technology? Well, one of the biggest investors in the United States is the military. I’ve never thought that the military was trying to develop things that would feed the world, clean up pollution, and make everybody more equal in their income. Quite the contrary. Or the technology developed by people out in Silicon Valley. Once again, they’re doing it for their purposed, not for ours.

So we need to come past this idea and understand that oh, technology is very powerful, it gives you great tools, the tools aren’t going to be very much use to you unless they’re developed out of a cultural shift that accords much more value to social equity, environmental preservation and so forth.

Chris Martenson:     Well, I’ll tell you, the only sort of glimmer of hope I have around technology, and it’s going to sound terrible for most people. I was at this think tank that was being put on by Nassau and there was a guy from DARPA there, really nice guy, actually, and he mentioned that DARPA deals a lot with things that are very complicated. But they were really concerned about the complexity of the systems involved. So they were holding an AI modelling challenge, and I haven’t seen the results of it yet, but they were really looking for artificial intelligence to come in and see what it can do around complexity modelling. So you mentioned the military. This would be an example.

The only thing I could imagine is if humans somehow said, gosh, everything’s gotten more complicated as well as it’s too complex for human culture, society, and even brainpower to manifest. We built these AI machines now that can self-learn and beat the world master at GO and chess and other things like that. So what if we got an AI software package together that could sort of model this all out and let it make the decisions? I don’t think we’d like the answers because it might conclude, hey, we can only afford to have 200 people living in what we currently call Phoenix, let’s move the rest out.

I don’t know what decisions it would make, but that was the only sort of way I could see technology really managing to live into this forest is if it could somehow make the decisions for us that we're unable to. But I can’t for the life of me imagine how anything like that would actually come in to being.  So it’s more of a specifically-fi novel at this point that I haven’t written rather than anything realistic.

Dennis Meadows:      I agree with you totally.

Chris Martenson:     All right. Well, Dennis, we're pretty much out of time, but I could keep talking to you forever, and I would love to do this again. And I'm wondering, what’s next for you, and how can people follow your work and maybe hear you speak?

Dennis Meadows:      Much of my intellectual work now takes place in two venues. Because my books were translated into lots of languages, I still receive invitations from around the world to go and meet with people, teach teachers, consult with leaders and so forth. Often, those presentations are filmed, and if you type in YouTube Meadows, you’ll come up with a whole bunch of videos which, at least amongst the more recent ones, show some of my current ideas.

I'm also working with a group that I founded back in 1982, so it’s now 37 years old, called the Balaton Group. It’s a network of leaders from around the world who are interested in dealing with these issues. We come together once a year for a week of informal conversations to help each other, and it’s based on the idea that we don’t know what’s going to happen, but whatever is emerging we're going to be happier with it if there are around the world smart, well informed, altruistic leaders responding to it. And so the Balaton Group is working to identify and cultivate those leaders.

Those are the two ways that people can keep in touch with my idea at the moment. I also do a lot of work around here locally on my community, but that’s not of much influence or much interest, I would say, to people outside of Durham.

Chris Martenson:     Well, Dennis, thank you so much for your time today.  Thank you for the work you are doing in the world, and I really hope to remain in touch with you around these very important ideas and the work you’ve done.

Dennis Meadows:      Thank you. Well, it’s a pleasure to talk to you Chris. I admire the work you’ve done with your course and with your blog. I hope you are encouraging people to really become informed and active on these issues.

Chris Martenson:     Well, absolutely. It’s education first. If people ask me, Chris, what do we need to do? I'm like well, we have to get education. But education without action is kind of just interesting rather than useful. So we encourage people to take actions as well. And we’ve had a remarkable amount of success at that, so we're going to keep doing it even though there are times when it feels completely insufficient. I know it’s also necessary work. And so this is what we do, and I’ll keep doing it.  So thank you for that vote of support. I really admire you and the work you’ve done, so it means a lot. And I wish you all the best.

 

Dennis:                        Thank you. It’s nice talking with you.

 

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65 Comments

  • Tue, Dec 17, 2019 - 8:01pm

    #1
    obizzozero

    obizzozero

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    Fabulous interview

    Thank you Chris! Thank you Dennis!

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 4:15am

    #2

    travissidelinger

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    Thank you

    I second that thank you. That is a great interview.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 5:29am

    #3
    Chris Martenson

    Chris Martenson

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    One Source of My Urge to Own Productive Farmland

    Thanks for the positive feedback on the interview - yes it was fantastic.  I hope it goes far and wide.

    Unfortunately, I doubt it will.  It cuts against the current narratives and fantasies of the elites.  So it won't get picked up by any news outlets, and it won't receive a fair shake on Twitter or Youtube or Facebook.

    Because of that overt and covert system resistance, individuals will be inhibited to varying degrees from feeling comfortable sharing it.  "If the herd isn't doing it, I probably shouldn't either"  So more than a few fingers will hover over the share button and then back off to click something else.  Virality doesn't occur.

    Without being able to look at the systemic issues there's virtually zero chance of addressing anything 'in time.'

    For all the people hoping somewhere deep down that electing a different president or set of representatives will fix anything, well, thank you for being hopeful.

    I have none.  There's practically a zero chance of anybody new making any sort of a difference at all.

    I have decades of solid data to back that up.

    This video explains it all - just five minutes that packs the same punch as Rules for Rulers.

    Discuss.

    The above video explains why Evie & I have bought a big chunk of land and I'm working hard to create a community center of some sort to live out the rest of our days.  Nothing is going to be fixed.  Not in time.  The elites have a complete stranglehold on the system and they won't let go in time.

    That's another history lesson, but it's also personal experience from knowing people and how strongly they cling to their belief systems.   It takes something of a personal catastrophe to budge the average person into a new orbit.

    It takes something far stronger to knock a prevailing cultural belief system into a new orbit.

    The former is like launching a satellite, the latter is like bumping the moon into a new orbit.  It takes a lot.

    In this story "a lot" is likely to be a collapse of some sort.  Maybe ecological, maybe financial, maybe political in the form of a devastating war.

    Until then, the system will continue to chug along as it has, doing what it does.

    Which is why farmland figures so prominently in my future.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 6:12am

    Quercus bicolor

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    Corruption video

    At the video's end, the sponsoring organization, RepresentUs, pitches joining them to work on a solution.  They have had some success at the local and state level.  Their plan is to reform enough states to get enough support in the state legislative bodies to pass a constitutional amendment that will reform the Federal government.  They have a pretty sophisticated grass-roots organizing campaign that recruits volunteers by text and other methods to do things like call voters in states or municipalities where anti-corruption or election reform measures are on the ballot.  I've participated in a couple of them.

    Apparently you don't have much hope for their success.  I must admit that in my heart, I feel that way too.  Would you be willing to elaborate on why you aren't expecting them to succeed?

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 6:33am

    #5

    Olduvai.ca

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    A Must Read, Limits to Growth

    Thanks so much, Chris and Adam, for this interview and once again raising the issue of where our pursuit of perpetual growth is likely taking us.

    Limits to Growth would be one of my top recommendations for those exploring the existential issues facing humanity. I would add Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies (presentation on topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0R09YzyuCI); William Catton's Overshoot (one of several interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6cWQYaJZ3E); Dr. Albert Bartlett's presentation entitled Arithmetic, Population, and Energy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI1C9DyIi_8); the documentary Collapse with Michael Ruppert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_NVddYKYXc); Richard Heinberg's The End of Growth (one of many interviews on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J94LY8rwmhs); and, of course, The Crash Course by Peak Prosperity!

    Other suggestions for me to read/view would be most appreciated.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 6:47am

    #6
    Chris Martenson

    Chris Martenson

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    Re: Corruption Video

    Apparently you don’t have much hope for their success.  I must admit that in my heart, I feel that way too.  Would you be willing to elaborate on why you aren’t expecting them to succeed?

    Certainly.  Beyond the obvious and powerful resistance that they will face, which will be nearly impossible to overcome without a massive fight of some sort, there are two things that weigh on my mind.

    #1 Time:  Oil production is going to peak in the US by 2025 according to the EIA, and I think a bit sooner.  Global oil peaks thereabouts too.  Maybe a few years later.  Can the US system of government be entirely reformed by 2030?  Not very likely is my estimation.  The odds of being able to engage in a proper discussion of massive reform slinks towards zero during an emergency.  Might even go negative.

    #2 Trends:  How have things been going lately?  Is the trend towards or away from citizen power?  I would say the trends are entirely against the average citizen.  Maybe even more forcefully than 10 years ago.    For heaven's sake, we can't even get the power structure to call what the FBI did in the FISA situation by its proper terms; lying and illegal.

    Instead we get the FISA judge saying that “troubling instances in which FBI personnel provided information [to the court] which was unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession.”

    Oh, come on!  You know what happens to you if you "provided information [to the court] which was unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession?"

    You get in trouble.  You get charged with perjury or whatever the charge is.  We're so far down the rabbit hole that the judge cannot even bring herself to say that the FBI lied and broke laws.

    Which shatters my trust in both the FBI and the FISA court system.

    It also dings my hope that we can possibly reform anything in time.  Maybe we can, and god bless those who are trying, but in my heart of hearts I know it's just not going to happen in time.

    We can't even get the little things right like calling lying lying and charging responsible parties with their crimes.  After all it wasn't "the FBI" that lied to the FISA court, it was specific FBI officials who showed up in court and lied.  They have names.

    Ditto for JPM rigging the gold and silver markets, or the FX markets, or any of a dozen other crimes.  It wasn't "JPM" that did it, it was specific individuals, with names.

    A system that is so far gone it cannot even be bothered to discover and publish the names of the statist criminals is pretty much going to be immune to grassroots efforts involving phone calls and text trees, is my thinking.

     

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 7:51am

    #7
    Hotrod

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    Long held beliefs

    There is a phrase that comes to mind: "Be fruitful and multiply."   That alone tells you there will be an ongoing problem with resources.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 9:23am

    Quercus bicolor

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    Summarizing that:

    I think you're saying the odds of sufficient reform aren't that great and the odds of sufficient reform happening in time to matter (and before a crisis makes further reform near impossible) is more or less zero. Correct?

    Their main wins have been through ballot initiatives for the obvious reason that they are citizen driven and provide and end run around corrupt state houses.  The last big one in 2018 in South Dakota they lost due to a rather intense PR campaign from you-know-who.  I imagine these opposition campaigns will only get bigger and more sophisticated if it looks like they're getting enough traction to perhaps get that constitutional amendment passed by the states.

    I haven't volunteered since 2016 and have been instead working on resilience/regeneration.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 10:16am

    #9

    travissidelinger

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    travissidelinger said:

    It takes something of a personal catastrophe to budge the average person into a new orbit.

    Then I must not be average.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 11:01am

    #10
    climber99

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    climber99 said:

    I've got my cherished 4th edition of the LtG from a second hand book shop.  It has hostile annotations in the margins from the original owner which stopped after chapter one.  I wonder if they stopped reading soon after only for the book to gather dust in a book case somewhere before being tossed out many years later.

    Anyway, to my point.  Another, and simplier, way to look at future human evolution is to consider the following two questions.  1.  What will life be like without fossil energy  2. When will we be deprived of fossil energy.

    My answer to these is 1. An agarian life with food, wood, water wheels, wooden windmills and windsails as our only energy sources.  2. Within 80 years probably, within 150 years certainly.

    It really is this simple.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 11:04am

    #11

    thc0655

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    As you say, “So what then?”

    Dennis said he thinks collapse is too strong of a word for what’s most likely to happen. He thinks decline is more likely to be the most accurate descriptor. That’s the most optimistic thing I’ve heard in a while from people of “our persuasion!” I hope he’s right because I think I’m well positioned to handle a decline, and I think the average Western person who’s not paying attention will be too. It’s the various collapse possibilities that make my blood run cold and cause me to be more pessimistic. He also said he thinks wealthy people will be able to buy resources during the decline that others will have to live without. I’m not part of the 1% but even if gasoline goes to $10 or $15/gallon I’ll be able to afford enough of it to make all the trips I’ll need to survive (for medical care, essential shopping, etc). He also said some young people may not experience much of a decline because most of the suffering will be far away. I can imagine scenarios where millions of people starve to death or die in wars that are far removed from the US or Europe for instance. I find that all very optimistic, and I really, really hope he’s right. (😤  That’s me NOT holding my breath for that happy possibility.)

    OTOH I agree with both of you that there’s no realistic path out of the “decline” for the world as a whole. Sure, aliens from Alpha Centauri could visit and give us the gift of tabletop cold fusion, but that’s nothing we can count on. So, very big changes are coming no matter what. Here’s the $64,000 question: what would Chris, Adam and Peak Prosperity do differently in light of that truth, if anything? What would we as individuals and families do differently? Personally, I don’t think I’d be doing anything differently until what’s possibly going to happen becomes more certain, along with the timing becoming more certain. I’m certainly very unlikely to become more involved politically like I was in the late 70’s after reading “Limits to Growth” as a 20-something. (I will admit to small actions meant to disrupt “The System,” not fix it. Over the summer I sent Tulsi Gabbard a donation to help her qualify for the next debate and disrupt the proceedings with her anti-war message. As I said before, I held my nose and voted for The Bad Orange Man in the hopes he would break some or all of The System. I’ve been mostly disappointed on both counts, though with the Democrats’ help the Bad Orange Man may yet be the cause of major parts of the system breaking down, like the DOJ, the FIB and the Federal Reserve).

    Oh, have you guys noticed how some of the most intelligent people who are most aware of our predicaments have chosen to live in New Hampshire?!  😎

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 11:05am

    #12
    treebeard

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    Science, technology and Consciousness

    Interesting interview, probably reaffirmed everyone who's a regular here at this sites view of reality, as it did mine.  But I stopped reading once I hit the analogy about the two guys in the cave. The one who wanted to run away from the tiger passing his DNA down vs. the "long range planner" who didn't.

    Very disappointing, incoherent view of reality, from my point of view.  As we are currently configured, even those who get it are as much of an issue as those don't "get it".  Seems we're insistent on using our small local drives only (small individual mind) vs the cloud (what some may call the intuitive mind) even though we're already wired for it.  We are certainly approaching an evolve or die scenario in the not to distant future, but that seems to be the only way consciousness evolves on earth.

    There are conversations that need to happen that are not even possible yet, I guess they just need to be lived, and that is what is happening now.  May we face the future with questions and not predictions, and hopefully living with those unanswered questions will transform us.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 11:39am

    #13

    Matt Holbert

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    Limits to Growth was a life changer...

    In my endeavor to stop sprawl in my adopted hometown of Boise in the early 90's I started reading books* that I would have not normally read. One of them was Limits To Growth. In addition to the work of Lewis Mumford on power, it was a tremendous influence and set a course for my wife and I over the past 25 years or so. We no longer fly or drive and grow a significant amount of our food.

    [Rant alert]

    I wish that I could be hopey about the future, but I can't. We have a former president that has apparently spent his "change" on a third home (credit to Aaron Mate). A DuckDuckGo search for Dennis gave me Rodman and Quaid -- a guy who just married or is about to marry someone who is young enough to be his granddaughter. The neighbors across the street have seven vehicles for five people. Their trash literally overflows their bins on pickup day. Speaking of passive solar... These people heat their home 24/7 with wood due to having baseboard heat but never open the blinds on the south side of the house.

    I've observed in my neighborhood that millennials are totally into having kids. So much for the population component of Limits to Growth. Thom Hartmann -- someone who influenced me with his The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight -- has a severe case of TDS and appears to be channeling Rush Limbaugh in his nastiness.

    I edited a fiction book ten years ago that probably is a fairly accurate depiction of where we are going. If there is any interest, I'll attempt to locate the pdf and send it to those who are interested without charge. Amazon got most of the money from sales anyway and I'm unhappy with their censoring of important works...

    * When you are in the "system" you tend to read books (and watch television) that permits you to escape and ignore reality. In the late 80's I reported to someone who was extremely intelligent but read spy novels while traveling...)

    [End Rant]

    Thanks to Chris and Dennis for a very thoughtful and informed discussion.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 12:50pm

    #14
    cowtown2011

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    Interview

    This was one of the best interviews I've heard from Peak Prosperity. It was great to hear his perspective on things even though the outlook is not very good. Hope you get him on again to dig into things even deeper.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 12:54pm

    Mots

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    CORRUPTION VIDEO, CM's comment

    You got that right.  The "system" truly is "so far gone" that voting or the like has no chance to fix it.  Working as a lawyer in DC between 1995 and 2016 I witnessed the destruction of things that I held dear and had respected about America.  I could not stand it anymore and walked away.  Even the patent law was destroyed by the globalists, who systematically destroyed the rights of American inventors by legally tilting the playing field to allow international corporations to cheat and steal from the wealth creators, via constant alteration of the law to benefit the elite.   All of the legal institutions are profoundly corrupt and rotten and the idea of "reform!" by voting is ludicrous.  At the same time, the opposite was occurring (and still is occurring) in wealth creation countries of Asia of Japan (and now China) that have been strengthening their systems to encourage and protect wealth creators there.

    The U.S system is riddled with procedural pitfalls and corruption, and is like a fallen log in the forest.  Kick it and your foot goes through a rotten mass with worms and bugs feeding on it.  You cant wish away or vote away this kind of profound and irreversible entropy.  These include procedural rots that preclude positive change.  Moreover, the rot is so set in that even if you made corruption illegal (good luck with that btw) it will not help because you will not undo the incredible systemic rot that has already occurred.  The corruption has left us with laws that are already cooked for the elite and that is not addressed by "just make corruption illegal!"

    A rotted out America (legally and culturally) may be an extremely natural and normal course of events of countries that temporarily turn into empires.  I get that understanding from reading Charles Hugh Smith's blogs........  It would be wise to acknowledge that fact and move on.  Cant fight nature.  We need to build a new organization from the ground up.  CM's community in NH is a reasonable response because if you must stay in America, NH is probably the most libertarian environment with less rot to contend with.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 1:10pm

    #16

    pyranablade

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    Sad

    To most of us this is nothing new. But it is still really sad stuff.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 2:21pm

    Wantingtoretire

    Wantingtoretire

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    One Source of My Urge to Own Productive Farmland

    I shared the article on my Facebook page. I am not an American but I am a newly minted Citizen. I have spent many years characterizing Americans. Being herd-like and not wishing to step out of line is one of my characterizations. I'm glad you pointed to the same attribute. I see it as the biggest social downfall and it will prevent anything useful getting done. I heard a comment once that America is a culture needing a crisis before anybody will act. Even then the act will be short-lived and at the lowest cost. America is not going to survive.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 4:18pm

    #18

    thc0655

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    “I have spent many years characterizing Americans”

    In all those years spent characterizing Americans, did you ever wonder if those characteristics were uniquely American or if they were merely human traits? Have your studies discovered other cultures that don’t suffer from those same characteristics? What good example are they showing Americans right now about how to deal with those negative characteristics in the midst of our universal predicaments?

    Congrats on your new citizenship! Of which country have you become a newly minted citizen?

     

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 5:19pm

    Quercus bicolor

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    12+

    Collapse

    My daughter is studying ancient world history as part of the 9th grade curriculum at the local public school.  Recently the class focused on the Han (China), Gupta (India), Greek and Roman empires.  They spent some time examining the common threads in the collapse of these empires and even looked for commonalities with the United States right now as a way of making it real.  The conclusion is that we are heading for collapse.  Quite daring for a 9th grade history teacher.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 5:34pm

    #20
    robie robinson

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    Not exactly on topic

    Amelia county VA just voted unanimous for 2A sanctuary status. I was expecting 4/1. Boots on the ground were 750 attending.

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 11:06pm

    #21
    David Allan

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    Collapse vs Decline

    I really enjoyed this interview. In the beginning I listened to every podcast but now I pick and choose. This was well worth while. My main point of disagreement with Dennis is around his expectations of a managed decline.  I'm not so optimistic.

    If we go back to basic principles - Crash Course 101 - we know our economy must keep growing for stability. And therefore our civilization is patterned and structured on growth. It's woven into the fabric of society like wool is woven into a carpet.  When the end of growth is finally recognized by the masses there will be a tipping point.  The global system is hyper complex and, as such, there is a degree of resilience to individual failure. But beyond a certain point failures will cascade. Financial / business failures could easily lead to critical infrastructure failures like communications or electricity supply breakdowns. And so the dominoes fall.

    A major influence on my thinking back at the beginning of this decade was David Korowicz. I sometimes think he would make an excellent guest here. Korowicz is a systems theorist and free articles available here https://www.korowiczhumansystems.com/publications

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  • Wed, Dec 18, 2019 - 11:37pm

    Grover

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    Fate of Empires

    Quercus bicolor wrote:

    My daughter is studying ancient world history as part of the 9th grade curriculum at the local public school.  Recently the class focused on the Han (China), Gupta (India), Greek and Roman empires.  They spent some time examining the common threads in the collapse of these empires and even looked for commonalities with the United States right now as a way of making it real.  The conclusion is that we are heading for collapse.  Quite daring for a 9th grade history teacher.

    Qb,

    A friend of mine sent me a link to an article a few years back. It is a 24 page PDF concerning the "Fate of Empires." I have been thinking about it lately and just reread it earlier this month. Here's a link: https://www.docdroid.net/5CdrehR/the-fate-of-empires-by-sir-john-glubb.pdf

    Sir Glubb characterized empires as being culturally and economically significant. That allowed him to include "non-traditional" powerful empires in his analysis. Is an empire only defined by its outright military rule of a subjugated country ... or is a mutually advantageous economical subjugation sufficient to consider the vassal as part of the empire? I read this distinction between a nation-state and an empire that fits with all of Glubb's empires: "A nation-state taxes their own citizens for works that benefit the citizens of the nation-state. An empire taxes the citizens of other nation-states for the benefit of the citizens of the host empire."

    As an example, is the United States an empire under this definition? Even though we don't militarily rule other countries, our military might forces them to use the US Dollar for trade. How much does it cost for the US to produce a dollar bill (or its electronic equivalent)? - A few cents at most. How much does a foreign nation need to produce in order to get a dollar bill or its electronic equivalent? - exactly $1 and that's at the wholesale price of their products. Seigniorage is the difference between what it costs to produce the currency and what it is worth. The US government benefits immensely from our unwritten relationships. That is the way we tax other nation-states.

    What happens if a country decides to invoke their sovereignty and use their own (or another) currency for trade? Look at those recent countries unfortunate enough to think they were sovereign. Iraq's Hussein wanted to sell his oil to Europeans denominated in Euros. He's gone. Qaddafi wanted to establish a gold based African Dinar. He's gone (and so is his gold.) Syria's Assad didn't allow a Qatari natural gas pipeline through his country so we could directly compete with the "evil Russian's" natural gas. If it weren't for Putin backing Assad, they would have been destroyed. (Is that why we're so against Putin? He's a thorn in the side of the NWO globalists.)

    Frankly, the US fits Glubb's criteria very well. Here are the empires Glubb noted in his paper, dates of existence, and duration in years.

    The nation
    Dates of rise and fall
    Duration in years

    Assyria
    859-612B.C.
    247

    Persia
    538-330B.C.
    208

    (Cyrus and his descendants) Greece
    331-100B.C.
    231

    (Alexander and his successors) Roman Republic
    260-27B.C.
    233

    Roman Empire
    27B.C.-A.D.180
    207

    Arab Empire
    A.D.634-880
    246

    Mameluke Empire
    1250-1517
    267

    Ottoman Empire
    1320-1570
    250

    Spain
    1500-1750
    250

    Romanov Russia
    1682-1916
    234

    Britain
    1700-1950
    250

    You'll note some overlap in years of existence and a terminal age of about 250 years.

    Glubb wrote this article in the mid '70s and didn't include the US empire. I question when the US changed from a nation-state to an empire. If we use 1776 as the beginning of the empire, we've existed for 244 years. In 2026, when our country will have reached its 250th birthday, transfer payments like social security and medicare are expected to consume 100% of federal tax receipts. Unless we are able to ramp up borrowing or taxing, there won't be anything left over for any of the other critical government expenditures like defense, environment, education, transportation, etc. Hmmm!

    Glubb also noted that empires go through different ages. They are:

    Pioneers, Conquests, Commerce, Affluence, Intellect, Decadence.

    The Age of Decadence he portrays as "marked by: Defensiveness, Pessimism, Materialism, Frivolity, An Influx of Foreigners, The Welfare State and Weakening of Religion.

    Based on Glubb's repeated sequence and the US's position in that sequence, I'd say that your daughter's history teacher's conclusion is spot on. I wish it were different.

    Grover

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 5:17am

    #23

    Snydeman

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    We're out there.

    There are many of us history teachers out there who make those links to ancient Empires, Republics, and civilizations in general. I explicitly link the fall of the Roman Republic lesson to have them clearly see the possible failings of any republic, and when we speak of the fall of the Roman Empire, I actually have them read a fake chapter from a future history book describing, in gory detail, the fall of American and global civilization, so that they can clearly empathize with what Romans might have felt when their Empire fell into ruin. When teaching about the causes of the French Revolution and spread of Enlightenment ideals, I make the parallels with today very, very clear; I even show them videos of some of the modern protests going on around the world. Trust that my students know the Yellow Vests and others are doing their thing. In my econ class, I use the Crash Course regularly, as well as charts and writings by Sven Heinrich, Wolf Richter, Charles Hugh Smith among others. My students are being exposed to these concepts because I'm trying to get them to question the paradigm of the world they've been brought up in. Am I successful? Who knows, but I'm going down swinging to the end.

     

    We're out there, though.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 5:38am

    #24

    davefairtex

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    yes great interview

    Happy (mostly!) along with the others to get the reminder from the horse's mouth.  Executive summary: sustainability isn't possible, although resilience is.

    There is one thing I've been struggling with: I can totally appreciate the need for farmland, but my desire to actually be a farmer?  Well, it approaches zero!  (Eat: yes.  Farm:  no.).

    Is there a place for me in the brave new world other than as a farmer?  I hope so.  I know things will become "less complicated", but...boy.  A farmer?  One hopes there are other slots available as we move slowly downhill.

    Individually, I think my only option is to follow where my intuition leads me.  So far at least it hasn't led me astray.  So far anyway... 🙂

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 5:58am

    Quercus bicolor

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    Nice find Grover

    I'll put that paper on my reading list.

    Her teacher gives extraordinarily difficult tests along with creative extra credit assignments to prevent too much of a ding to their grades.  The last extra credit was a cartoon relevant to the empires recently studied.  Hers is with the teacher right now.  With her permission, I'll scan it and post it in a comment when it comes back.  It fits right into the decadence phase as it's written as a advertisement to buy a kit to collapse your society as a way to assuage boredom and provide entertainment.  The two points it makes:  1) Hire mercenaries (Rome) or military "contractors" (USA), 2) ensure a flamboyant, crass and possibly ineffective leader is in power (for Rome, Commodus who fancied himself as Hercules, and you-know-who for the USA).  These are probably signs of collapse and not necessarily the most significant ones, but it's still a neat concept.  I wonder if she'll get the entire 5 points of credit.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 7:02am

    Wilco

    Wilco

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    Wilco said:

    I agree David, collapse seems to be a better term IMO.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 7:37am

    marti61

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    marti61 said:

    Here's a talk from Tim Crews at the Land Institute you might find useful-

    Prairie Festival Remarks—September 27, 2019 Tim Crews

    A major theme of this year’s Prairie Festival is energy, which was a big reason why we got into agriculture in the first place ---you see, by eliminating wild plants and replacing them with crop plants, we increased the amount of solar energy captured through photosynthesis in the form of food. When we eat and digest this food, the solar energy it contains fuels human activities--- Now, before what I refer to as the fossil fuel bonanza took place, the most universal human activity powered by food from crops, was, in fact, growing next year’s food crops. Larger scale non-agricultural social endeavors like building pyramids, or fighting wars, or composing operas required some social engineering, in which the farmer class of people worked extra hard and extra long hours to produce the food energy that allowed these other non-agricultural classes of people to exist without doing farmwork. In fact, a dark side of pre-fossil fuel agriculture is that many societies coerced through slavery or other forms of subjugation, groups of others— other classes, races, genders...to undertake the arduous work of farming so that much smaller groups of non-farmers could eat and do something else.

    But I would like to take a minute to ask the question... why IS farming such hard work? It seems like a silly question to ask!....because it just inherently is, right?! It’s hard! But why is it hard? what are we doing that makes it so hard. Well, the activity in farming that traditionally required the most work was clearing vegetation--first by clearing the wild perennial vegetation, and then weeding, and weeding and weeding again to give the seeds and seedlings of the

    1

    annual crops wheat, barley, corn, chick pea, rice, millet, sorghum, a chance to grow. In nature, pretty much the only time that annual plants dominate ecosystems is after a dramatic disturbance, such as a catastrophic wildfire, or a severe flood, or a landslide. The energy that is released in each of these forms of disturbance is remarkable, and is sufficient to kill the diverse and dominant native perennial vegetation that characterizes forests, grasslands, deserts and savannahs. Humans with our big brains chose that rare ecosystem of a highly disturbed piece of ground, clearcut of vegetation every year, as our food producing ecosystem. So fortified by the energy in the food we grow for ourselves and our work animals, we have from about 10,000 years ago, to about 250 years ago, committed ourselves to a lifestyle of extraordinarily hard work battling ecological succession with the plow, hoe, disc or machete--- and by ecological succession I mean the strong tendency for ecosystems to grow back into a diverse, perennial vegetative community—If I dare anthropomorphize, recently plowed fields really want to be something else....like a prairie or a forest. And nature has honed a heck of a process called succession that will in fact re-create prairies or forests...and it takes a lot of energy to keep that from happening. That is the work—stopping succession in its tracks-- that defined our agricultural existence, indeed arguably ourselves as a species for the last 10,000 years. That is, until about 250 years ago at least for those in industrialized parts of the world. It was at that time that we began to figure out how to stop ecological succession a new way, ....you got it, by employing fossil fuel energy we can clearcut the landscape down to bare soil every year without having to rely on food energy to guide plows and wield machetes day after day-- tractors of all sizes could now do that work. And agriculture’s chapter of the fossil fuel bonanza does not stop there--- we have figured out how to use fossil fuels to address virtually

    2

    every other thing that limits crop growth—using fertilizers (organic and inorganic), pesticides (organic and inorgainic), irrigation, season extension, plastic sheets for weed prevention, and so on. Many of these energy expensive inputs are used to shore up a low-functioning plowed field, a field that has no roots for a good part of the year. Even in the Midwest U.S., with some of the best agricultural science in the world, grain agriculture continues to leak 50% of the nitrogen applied to the crop.

    We went from near 0 % reliance on fossil fuels to grow an acre of grain when the declaration of independence was signed, to 99.96% reliance on fossil fuels to grow an acre of corn in Iowa today. This overwhelming reliance on fossil fuels to produce our food is problematic. If we are serious about de-carbonizing society this century, it seems to me that this degree of dependence must be addressed. And I am cautiously optimistic that the work we are doing here, and our colleagues are doing at over fifty institutions around the world, may help and not just a little. Here’s the deal, if you create an agriculture that does not require huge energy expenditures to battle succession, an agriculture that is much more like the natural system that was in place before, then it will not require nearly as much energy to grow the same amount of food as our current annual systems require. And if you follow some other cues of natural systems, like integrating legumes for biological nitrogen fixation, even less human-sourced energy is required to maintain the agroecosystem.

    When it comes to the post carbon future, it will be desirable, no matter what, to have an agriculture that does not require nearly as much work....and this is true regardless of whether you are a person who thinks we will come up with a bridge to renewable biofuels or solar

    3

    electric, or whether you think the bottom is going to drop out of our technological society leaving us to farm without machines---in either case, agroecosystems that functions more like the rest of the earth’s terrestrial ecosystems will give humanity a little more slack, a little more wiggle room to sort out living within unfamiliar limits. And we may hear from Francesca Cotrufo tomorrow morning, how converting ag land back to something that looks and functions more like the natural system that came before, also means capturing a lot of the soil carbon that was lost when we converted the natural system to agriculture in the first place, thus helping to put the brakes on climate change.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 7:59am

    #28
    Chris Martenson

    Chris Martenson

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    Thanks Marti!

    When it comes to the post carbon future, it will be desirable, no matter what, to have an agriculture that does not require nearly as much work

    Yes!  Yes, and yes.  All this and more.

    So-called "modern" agriculture is just a step on the way to the future.  It's obviously not sustainable, and it does measurable and often compounding damage to soil, ecosystems, groundwater supplies, species diversity, and all the rest.

    Luckily we know how to take the next steps.  How to work with nature rather than against it.  How to close nutrient loops, plant compatible species (like nitrogen fixers with nitrogen consumers), build soil diversity, use far less water (drip irrigation, hugelkulture, etc), and mimic the herds of old to revitalize pastures with intensive rotational grazing.

    If you systematize this it's still hard work, but not the ridiculously hard work of old.  No old ladies wrestling a plow behind a solitary oxen needed in this new story.  No old dudes bending over all day as they hoe endless rows of corn.  A lot more thinking up front, and maybe some fossil fuels investments to sculpt the land and build the systems, but fairly minimal human input thereafter.  At least compared to yesteryear.

    But it takes a lot more knowledge and a very open mind to explore these new ways of doing things.  It takes a willingness to explore new things.

    I know it's possible because I've seen it being done.  And I hate unnecessary drudgery.  I figure that's a winning combination.

    This essay/speech was very well written, so thanks again.

     

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 8:23am

    Ejohnson

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    Fate of empires

    Grover,

    Thanks for posting that article, it was a good read. I find the definition of empire you extracted to be very useful, as well as the life stages of empires.

    The only issue I had was his focus on the 250 year lifespan. I didn’t get a sufficient justification from the paper for “ending” the Roman Empire in 180, instead of at the sack of Rome in 410, or the schism of the eastern empire, etc. Similarly, the Ottoman Empire continued far past 1520, why not end it with the establishment of the nation-state of turkey in 1922? Or the formal abolishment of the caliphate in 1924?

    I’d like to hear your perspective on this aspect of the paper if I missed something. Again, I think his logical framework of what an empire is and the common stages they go through is solid, but I can’t quite get behind the 250 year timeline.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 9:50am

    Matt Holbert

    Status: Member

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    2+

    For those who expressed an interest in the book I linked to

    in the comment above. I tried to respond via private PP email, but was unable to do so... I've put a link to the pdf here: https://integraljournal.typepad.com/integraljournal/2019/12/the-institution.html

    For the individual that just sent me a private message, I have been unable to reply to messages. [Perhaps I need a tutorial. I repeatedly get a message after pressing the Reply button: "Refresh this page and try again."] I'll send you a hard copy that I have on hand if you provide your snail mail address. My email is "theinnclub" at yahoo.com...

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 10:24am

    davefairtex

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    roman empire

    EJ-

    I concur.  Roman Empire lasted much longer than 240 years.  At least, according to my understanding.  If we count from ascension of Gaius Julius Caesar through the sack of Rome in 410, that's, what, 54 BC -> 410 AD = 464 years?

    [This doesn't even take into account the eastern empire, which lasted until 1453.  Even if we date the Eastern Empire from the fall of Rome in 410, that's still substantially longer than 240 years.]

    And - if we use the same meter stick, at what point did the US turn from Republic to Empire?  Certainly not in 1776.  We were way too puny back then.  Arguably, earliest that might have happened was the "Monroe Doctrine" (1823), but we were pretty pathetic then too.  Possibly: war with Mexico (1846-1848)?  That's best (worst) case.  1848 + 240 = 2088.

    Whew.  Safe for another 69 years.  Such a relief.  🙂

    My work here is done.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 10:44am

    Quercus bicolor

    Status: Silver Member

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    Well rounded guy

    Dave, from what I know of you you're a well-rounded guy.  I'm sure your skills will be relevant in the future.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 12:26pm

    Grover

    Grover

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    Life Span

    Ejohnson wrote:

    The only issue I had was his focus on the 250 year lifespan. I didn’t get a sufficient justification from the paper for “ending” the Roman Empire in 180, instead of at the sack of Rome in 410, or the schism of the eastern empire, etc. Similarly, the Ottoman Empire continued far past 1520, why not end it with the establishment of the nation-state of turkey in 1922? Or the formal abolishment of the caliphate in 1924?

    I’d like to hear your perspective on this aspect of the paper if I missed something. Again, I think his logical framework of what an empire is and the common stages they go through is solid, but I can’t quite get behind the 250 year timeline.

    Ejohnson,

    I'd really like to be able to explain the 250 year timeline. It looks to me that Glubb picked some fairly arbitrary dates to begin and end his empires (as you and davefairtex pointed out.) Was Glubb cherry picking to support his preconceived conclusion? I don't know. He may have discovered the 250 year timeline in some empires and just assumed it was a universal characteristic. I haven't read any of his other writings to provide any insight.

    I found his characterization of empire stages to be the most interesting aspect. It was easy for me to imagine an empire using a human analogy. Young adults are full of energy and hubristic enough to take on high risk ventures. As we age, physical prowess diminishes and we become more risk averse. Since we can't just muscle our way to success, we need to develop intellect to maintain our position. Later, we start harvesting the rewards of all the hard work - fine food, arts, and games. We rest on our laurels in senescence until some young upstart realizes we're just a toothless tiger ... and another empire is born.

    Granted, that is a really simplistic analogy; however, it gave me a framework to relate to the various stages of empire. Furthermore, we really shouldn't expect the sequence of events to deviate much from what Glubb laid out. An empire doesn't start in decay and end up conquering more lands. It doesn't work that way in human or empire life spans.

    Since the stages occur more or less paternoster in all these other empires, it makes sense (to me) to try to identify what stage the US empire is in. That way, prediction of near term future events can be made more accurately.

    https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/11/what_is_the_fate_of_the_american_empire.html#ixzz68aIMomML

    Pioneers, Conquests, Commerce, Affluence, Intellect, Decadence.

    The Age of Decadence he portrays as “marked by: Defensiveness, Pessimism, Materialism, Frivolity, An Influx of Foreigners, The Welfare State and Weakening of Religion.

    <snip>

    Glubb's essay is pertinent because the Age of Decadence is upon us.  Glubb makes the case that empires run out of gas because of internal decline and decadence.  The typical life expectancy of empires, according to Glubb, is 250 years — about ten generations.  Without a change in direction, America will become another casualty to the process — a lesser player, suffering the "used to be" syndrome.

    We're definitely in the "age of decadence" in America. It really doesn't matter how long our empire has existed. Without a change of direction, we've nearly arrived at the end of the ride. There are still enterprising individuals willing to conquer new realms, but as a culture, we're just resting on our laurels - waiting for something new to flash across our glowing rectangular devices.

    The Fourth Turning predicts some climax in the mid 2020s. Martin Armstrong predicts that the empire reins will be taken by China before 2033. Most American government finances are horrendously bad. As I noted earlier, all expected federal government receipts will be earmarked for transfer benefits by 2025. All the signs (I see) suggest that we'll have to adjust to a much different way of life within the next dozen or so years - possibly much sooner.

    Grover

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 12:54pm

    #34
    David

    David

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    The limits to Growth

    First: yes, I also found the interview very worthwhile. Glad I listened.

    On the book: I can recall when it was first published (that tells all about my age) and the way it was slammed (in Australia) as being Communist. And, I've always been puzzled by the ferocity of this accusation. Until this interview.

    Given the politics of the early 1970s, I'm astounded at their stupidity of (jointly) launching the book in, of all places, Moscow!
    No wonder it was branded as Communist.
    A mistake that probably limited its impact.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 1:29pm

    Quercus bicolor

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    More on life span

    My daughter's teacher's powerpoint lists 27 BC - 180 AD as the golden age of the Roman Empire.  While the empire remained for another 250 years or so (and another 1300 in the east), decline was noticeable and significant starting in 180.  The 10 or so slides in the linked document starting at 39 discuss this.  I think this time frame is generally accepted as Rome's golden age.

    roman_empire_history

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 1:38pm

    richcabot

    richcabot

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    not average

    Most people on this site aren't.  That's why we read this.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 3:08pm

    smaturin

    smaturin

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    Posts: 4

    Nice suggestions

    I like Dimitri Orlov's, "Reinventing Collapse" and "The Five Stages of Collapse." He's astute with a unique perspective, and is a master of sardonic humor. Also Albert Bates, "The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide." Albert was one of the original back-to-the-landers with The Farm in Tennessee and is a master permaculturist and commentator on our predicament at The Great Change blog. Also freedomsurvival.org for a brilliantly naive young person's take on how to organize around climate change.

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  • Thu, Dec 19, 2019 - 9:33pm

    #38

    Mark_BC

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    Mark_BC said:

    I never liked the reasoning that "the planet" doesn't need saving because whatever we dish it, it will recover in time; instead, it's humanity that needs saving. I understand where this argument comes from and that it's trying to put us into perspective and bring down our grandiose self image as somehow necessary for this world to keep moving. And that the world has been through worse crises than the current one. And it internalises the environmental crisis to be a direct threat to ourselves more than to the planet, which will hopefully motivate a shift in perspective towards our stewardship of the environment.

    I get all that but the problem with it is it trivialises all the other species out there. I'm sure giraffes feel left out of this argument. They will certainly go extinct when humanity fails, and they won't be part of the future biosphere when it recovers after humanity disappears.

    I kind of like blue whales and giraffes and rainforests and all the amazing life around us. I get upset when I see dolphins caught in fishing nets. Life is worth protecting in its own right. The environmental crisis isn't just about humanity versus humanity's own survival. It's humanity versus every other existing life form.

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  • Fri, Dec 20, 2019 - 7:09am

    climber99

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    climber99 said:

    In geological time giraffes don't matter.  Homo Sapiens don't matter.  After all there has been 5 mass extinctions in Earth's history so one more won't stop evolution of life.  Plus the Earth is nothing special which must mean there are Trillions of Earth-like planets supporting life in the Universe.

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  • Fri, Dec 20, 2019 - 7:26am

    #40

    pyranablade

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    Well said, Mark BC

    Your post says just what I meant earlier when I noted that "this is really sad stuff."

    Sad, of course, that it is happening and also sad that some don't seem to care.

     

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  • Fri, Dec 20, 2019 - 8:26am

    Quercus bicolor

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    Be here now

    That maybe true climber, but I'm here right now on this planet in this body.  To me and my community, we matter and so do giraffes and whales, and (here in the northeastern U.S.) so do catbirds and common yellowthroats and Wolves and beech and white oak and white ash and hemlock and dragonflies and bumblebees and American ginseng and wild leeks and trillium and great blue herons and oyster mushrooms and painted turtles and blue spotted salamanders and the spring down in my woods and the swamp it feeds and ....  They really matter to me.  They are my community and to a large extent, we thrive or struggle together.

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  • Fri, Dec 20, 2019 - 10:52am

    #42
    Doug

    Doug

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    I'm with Mark BC and Quercus Bicolor

    We have managed to evolve into the only species that we know of in the universe that is capable of forethought, planning and conceptualizing beyond finding our next meal and a safe place to hide.  Those abilities give us the opportunity and responsibility to protect and nurture life as we know it.  The failure to do that will be monumental and horrendous.  If we get it right we can build a world truly worth inheriting for succeeding generations of all species.  How can we not try?

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  • Fri, Dec 20, 2019 - 11:15am

    #43
    skipr

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    business as usual

    That argument about the earth recovering no matter what we throw at it sounds like an attempt to perpetuate the "business as usual" scenario that was well modeled in World3.  It's definitely the most profitable.  So who benefits if we swallow that argument without blinking?  It's not 99.9% of us homo saps and ever other species out there.

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  • Fri, Dec 20, 2019 - 12:16pm

    #44
    RocketDoc

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    130 Years Above the Norm

    My grandmother was born on a farm in rural Alabama in 1889.  She died in 1985 and saw it all.  Horses to moon rockets in a single lifetime.  She was a suffragette and temperance organizer during WWI.  She encouraged me to become a pastor, a calling that did not apply to me at all when I read LtG in 1974.  I had read Lester Brown in Foreign Policy in 1972--"The Coming of the World Food Crisis" and wanted to engage in a social justice career.  I joined Lester Brown's ODC in 1975 but he had left to start a new non-profit called WorldWatch.  I spent 4 years in a think tank considering  how to include the desperately poor in the world economic system.  My motto was "Think globally and act locally". The answer was sustainable economic systems for the developed world which would include austerity for the rich and alternative development strategies for the poor.  Limits to growth was clear that we needed to get busy providing a future for everyone or it was going to be the Four Horsemen.  When Reagan was elected, I left DC and expected collapse by the Year 2000.

    I have been wrong a long time.

    So now I am a dentist facing retirement.  My grandfather had left the farm in 1910 to become a dentist, my father became a dentist, as did I.  I have considered buying land for  the last 20 years in order to return to the land. But I have no idea how to farm.  I share many commentators reluctance to take that on as a senior citizen.  My wife and I have everything we need to make it to age 100 under current conditions.  When will those assumptions become problematic?  As everyone here knows--At any time.

    But in dodge ball you don't move until the ball is thrown even if there are 5 people throwing at you..... And that's where we are.

    Now as for political action to be a "help" in these times, I am with Yeats: "We have no gift to set a statesman right, He has had enough of meddling who can please, a young girl in the indolence of her youth or an old man upon a winter's night."

    We should enjoy our Fortune above the curve and educate the interested.  My morning paper reports that a local business sold out to a conglomerate for $1.6 Billion, proceeds to be shared among the the 2,300 employees.  Why would my neighbors (or mayor) listen to my concerns?  Things are good in the defense contracting and security state world. So in my opinion, the money has to fail and soon... I don't really like that solution since I have money but we are all going to need to sacrifice if we want to end up somewhere worth going.

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  • Sat, Dec 21, 2019 - 4:16am

    Chris Martenson

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    I'm With Doug

    Those abilities give us the opportunity and responsibility to protect and nurture life as we know it.  The failure to do that will be monumental and horrendous.  If we get it right we can build a world truly worth inheriting for succeeding generations of all species.  How can we not try?

    Here's the place that I am in perfect alignment with you Doug.

    100%

     

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  • Sat, Dec 21, 2019 - 8:12am

    chipshot

    chipshot

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    JPM Individuals w Names

    Such as Jamie Dimon?  Who, I believe, is one example of many uber rich people that have completely lost their bearings on the meaning and purpose of life due to the immense wealth they've accumulated, morphing into evil enemies of mankind and the planet as a result.

    As far as acquiring farmland, gotta wonder how long that will be effective.  The climate is almost certain to deteriorate faster and faster, making worldwide ecological collapse inevitable.  Maybe it'll take 20 yrs or more--and I'm not criticizing those pursuing the farmland strategy-but I think we're on borrowed, very short time, where growing food becomes impossible.  Hope I'm way wrong.

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  • Sat, Dec 21, 2019 - 10:45am

    #47
    Doug

    Doug

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    Saul Griffith

    This an Ezra Klein podcast with Saul Griffith who has a solid background into how to deal with climate change through decarbonization.  Its an interesting and encouraging look at what is possible through looking at energy flows.

     

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  • Tue, Dec 24, 2019 - 5:10pm

    #48
    DaveGillie

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    More from Less saves us from these endless Doomer predictions

    https://www.econtalk.org/andrew-mcafee-on-more-from-less/

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  • Wed, Dec 25, 2019 - 11:20pm

    Mots

    Mots

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    MIT solved the problem of exponential growth!

    Thank you Dave G for this link.  It is good to know how/why the sociopath elite think how they we can continue exponential business as normal. Actually I learned much and liked much of what he said, but his PT Barnum style and obvious BS and lies overshadowed the interesting facts (aluminum cans now use something like 8X less aluminum, energy needed for manufacturing keeps going down etc)....

    Christine Lagarde, CNN, NY Times etc are nuts for this guy and cite his view that the world problem of resource use and limits to growth due to exponential economic growth is solved by (what he calls) the "infinite creativity" of people.

    All of his "data" comes from recorded information about consumption of what he calls "molecules" (including oil, plastic, paper, steel, concrete energy etc) inside the U.S.  He points out that the US economic expansion since the 1970s is no longer correlated with resource consumption (except for plastics production).  Further, increased energy is not needed for economic growth see 34, 35:40.

    Agreement: he points out how paper use has declined much (due to internet and computers).  In the same argument he explains that the smart phone is our savior because we no longer have to lug around manufactured cameras, clock radios, tape recorders, atlases, barometers, and geolocation devices everywhere we go, which saves resources.  Hail to the mighty smart phone! (at 56:00)

    He completely ignores 3 things in his conclusions that our economy is unlinked to resource use:
    1. the oil shocks of the 1070s, which forced decrease in consumption and higher efficiency due to economic pain was the major reason for a step down in energy/resource use that occurred then (why no mention?).
    2. He ignores the fact that most of the energy consumption and raw material consumption by Americans since the 1970's has been location shifted from the U.S. to China.  This is how he incorrectly concludes economic growth is unrelated to resource consumption.  People buying crap in Walmart and manufacturing of hamburgers, plastic wrappers and soda cans is not a major use of resources, wherein most resource use, being outside the US, he simply ignored.

    3. Further, there is NO account for increased resource consumption by China for itself much less India and others (such as for example extreme increase in energy and resource use in recent years).  The only real discussion of China is his argument that the one child policy did not have any significant effect on their population.  (this is very wrong and indicates his inability to reason properly).  But we have to believe him because he is from the Sloan Dept of Management at MIT!!

    4. he argues that recent 10 years has seen a leveling off in energy use.  He does not connect this to the fact that middle income people were pushed down into the poor class via economic policies from guys like him and use less gasoline/energy because they are too poor now.

    This elitist is narrow minded and bigoted in the same sense as AOC, who similarly overlooked China and India etc when she recently lectured us from a perch on high, that resource consumption in the planet is all due to the "white race."

    He argues near the end that we need a carbon tax because despite decrease in resource use, we need a tax to correct environmental problems with an economic tool given to us by our betters at Harvard and MIT.

    His view on energy: "Fukushima was scary. Chernobyl was really scary. ......(the) one energy source right now that is clean--super-clean--scalable, safe, and not intermittent."  fortunately, however, "[a] number of environmentalists have bravely spoken in support of nuclear power."  No acknowledgement of the value of large valuable land tracts that are removed from human civilization or the extraordinary costs to clean up the "super clean" technology in Fukushima, with no end in sight.

    Most people are not concerned about resource (and energy) depletion.  This self deluded and self appointed expert (and admiration of him by media pundits) is one reason.  It may be a good idea to study what he is saying.

     

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  • Fri, Dec 27, 2019 - 2:16am

    Mots

    Mots

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    Saul Griffith

    Doug

    thank you for the reference.  I recommend the Saul Griffith interview audio from 32-36 minutes.  He explains parameters relevant for how to get energy in the future.  Even if nuclear electricity were free, the average grid transmission cost of 7.8 cents alone is higher than the cost of rooftop solar electric.  The data indicate that a small community that makes its own energy locally can greatly out-compete a globalist company that provides the energy from far away.

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  • Fri, Dec 27, 2019 - 5:27am

    #51
    Chris Martenson

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    Incorrect Views By Team Elite

    4. he argues that recent 10 years has seen a leveling off in energy use.  He does not connect this to the fact that middle income people were pushed down into the poor class via economic policies from guys like him and use less gasoline/energy because they are too poor now.

    Mots - this is happy talk by Team Elite, telling themselves (and everyone else) what they most want to hear.

    Due to the nature of being able to ship off your energy consumption across the globe, one cannot look at any particular locale and say that "energy use is leveling off."

    It's complete garbage.

    Because it's now a global economy, we have to look at the whole world.  Here's what we see.

    Whoops! No "leveling off" yet to be seen anywhere in the data!

    A second, and very large error he makes, is in using GDP as a divisor in the "things are getting better" argument he makes.

    As I somewhat tediously point out, to the extent that GDP is comprised of consumptive debt spending, it is false.  It is merely tomorrow's demand consumed today.  One has to back out the debt to normalize the true organic GDP growth.  Further, to the extent that abundant credit growth is there, so is financialization.  Is the $50 billion that big banks "make" by  being paid interest on money the Fed printed and handed to them in the first place really, truly the same as $50 billion of solar equipment installed?  No, it is clearly not, but GDP measures it as exactly the same.

    When tomorrow finally comes, GDP falls off, but energy use remains stubbornly high ("inelastic" because people still need to eat, stay warm, drive to work, etc).

    The the ratio goes all to hell. Both GDP and energy use fall off, but GDP falls off far faster.

    This is all utterly simply math and even easier concepts.  Not hard.  One has to be either completely deluded by one's own internal narrative, or willfully ignorant to avoid connecting these dots.

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  • Fri, Dec 27, 2019 - 8:47am

    Mots

    Mots

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    Energy and Team Elite

    GDP (and what it really represents) as divisor is very interesting and helpful for me to understand.

    At least the elite are thinking about the fundamental role of energy.  People are waking up.   Jeff Bezos in multiple interviews states that the most important thing in the world to him is stasis resulting from non growth of energy, and that is the main reason for his number one priority: space travel. https://youtu.be/SCpgKvZB_VQ?t=2294 https://youtu.be/LqL3tyCQ1yY?t=2061 https://youtu.be/KPbKeNghRYE?t=1840  So, some elites simply lie to themselves and some are thinking about how to get off the planet.  As for me, I cant do either but plan on muddling through. But my aim for "Peak Prosperity" involves extensive use of appropriate technology, which can do much more than it has so far.  I cannot go back to my grandparent's agrarian lifestyle.

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  • Fri, Dec 27, 2019 - 10:40am

    MKI

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    More from Less saves us

    ...seen a leveling off in energy use.

    ?? Energy is so cheap today, why expect a "leveling off"? It's party time, price-wise. Look at the price of oil in gold if doubting this.

    Also, correlation is not causation. There is no proof GDP growth is dependent on cheap energy, and not the other way around. Should we not expect more energy use (and waste) with high GDP, and for it to be a nice linear relationship? We all like to consume more energy when flush, and stay home when tight.

    We simply do not know what will happen if the world runs short of energy. We have never see this before. But it's entirely possible we will just cut luxury energy waste and direct energy to productive GDP. Or conserve like hell with a victory garden in every yard. Or even discover fusion. But it's also very possible we melt down into endless war over energy and implode into a dark age.

    Myself, I make no prediction. And anyone familiar with the Black Swan or the 3-Body Problem should be with me. One possiblity: we use nuclear/coal/NG/conservation and see very little until the next generation. Or again, with a good war or two, energy could be on everyone's radar in 2020. A smart man remains open-minded and humble to events unless he has  a long history of successful predictions, and even then should be cautious, since things change.

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  • Fri, Dec 27, 2019 - 12:40pm

    Chris Martenson

    Chris Martenson

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    Correlation Vs Causation

    Also, correlation is not causation. There is no proof GDP growth is dependent on cheap energy, and not the other way around.

    Really?  You think there's no proof?  Interesting.

    The primacy of energy as THE master resource is so axiomatic to me that I've hardly thought it necessary to supply the proofs.

    Simple thought experiments should suffice.

    Food intake and the growth of a child are connected.  Is it correlation or causation?  Does food intake cause a child to grow, or is it the growing child that causes food to digest itself?

    Is it the work performed by gasoline that causes things to move about, or does moving things about cause gasoline to disappear?

    I guess we'll never know without 'proof.'

    🙂

    GDP is the sum value add of all goods & services.  Every single step of creating or adding value requires energy to be expended.  Every one.  If you can name some ways to add to GDP that don't require energy in some form, I'd be interested to hear what they are.

    Given that, how could it be that GDP causes energy, not the other way around?

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  • Sat, Dec 28, 2019 - 2:03am

    #55
    Mots

    Mots

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    Correlation vs Causation

    The absolute dependence on energy to grow or to do anything primarily based on energy availability is dispositive to growth at the cellular level, micro level, organism level, society level.......  The essential role of energy is the most basic phenomenon potentiating or limiting growth of everything in the world.  I don't know why this should be in dispute.

    In cellular biology, the intermediate form of energy (created by digesting/oxidizing food stuffs) is "ATP," which is actually nicknamed "the currency of the cell" because of its primary role in everything that happens.  ATP drives and its availability decides if an anabolic (building up: "growing") reaction will even occur. This has a role similar to money as it is a universal currency for creating growth and is the prime form of available energy.  If excess ATP is available, growth occurs.

    Look around you, most everything colored in the natural world is a result of the competition for energy/growth.  The greens, yellows/reds are molecules that absorb light energy and make it available for plants to grow, they are competing desperately for energy, and their energy competition success directly determines their growth.  Much or most of the color you see in a leaf results from the competition for energy.  Leaves in the forest understory are darker and broad in an attempt to get enough energy to grow.  The main activity of animals is a search for energy and those that succeed the most grow the most.  This is so basic that it is not even stated.

    Human civilizations and their growth have ALWAYS been fundamentally based on energy.  The ancient American civilizations and the rates of their growth were completely based on the availability of maize, which the government/gangsters took from the people and gave to their friends as a form of money.  The more the community had, the more it could grow (or not contract).  The store houses of maize were entirely analogous to the accumulation and use of money by modern societies.  The culture and confiscation and storage/trading of energy in the form of rice allowed for and determined the growth of civilizations in Asia such as China and Japan.  Similarly, the storable form of energy known as wheat was the basis for the organization and growth of Egypt and Roman empires.  Rice, maize, wheat etc were forms of energy that were used very much like money is used today and were directly responsible for the growth of settlements and empires, not unlike how fossil fuel is used now.
    There must be books somewhere written on this topic.

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  • Tue, Dec 31, 2019 - 1:17pm

    dude59

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    dude59 said:

    I have used the term catabolic collapse for a few years now. In cancer patients, the body eats itself to remain alive (a  catabolic process) at the end. Unfortunately we are eating the seed-corn (and energy) that could have provided sustainability.

    The reset of expectations that is necessary will not happen until the crisis cannot be avoided any longer.

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  • Wed, Jan 01, 2020 - 8:03pm

    #57

    AKGrannyWGrit

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    Chris - I don't think you asked the right question!

    Since listening to this podcast a couple of times something no one else picked up on has been bothering me.  As I have said in the past I sometimes see or hear things differently than a number of the other regulars on this site, and so with this nagging thought I feel compelled to comment.

    Dennis Meadows: In the early ‘70s, a group called the Club of Rome, which is an international network of mainly corporate leaders, became concerned about the interconnection of emerging problems, and out of their conversations evolved finally a project at MIT, which I directed over a course of two years.

    We gathered available data going back to the year 1900 to create a computer simulation model showing the interaction between population, economic capital, and environmental resources, and used it to project out to 2100 under a bunch of different assumptions, assumptions about social change, technical change, and so forth.

    And the basic conclusion was that if the policies which were then in force and which had produced enormous growth in in welfare around the world by early ‘70s, if those were continued, we would see further growth through maybe 2020, and then the physical realities would start to impress themselves and there would be decline.

    Okay, my second thought first.  Chris has said, in the past, and a number of others as well - "follow the money", soooo lets take a look.  First the Club of Rome got the Volkswagen Foundation to fund the study that Mr. Meadows researched and created.  A brief search on the interned indicated the Club of Rome was created by the Rockefeller's and other Industrialists.  The Foundation was funded by wealthy and powerful people as well.  It stands to reason that we could say that some of the richest, most powerful people on the planet wanted the information this study provided.

    And the conclusion of the study?---

    And the basic conclusion was that if the policies which were then in force and which had produced enormous growth in in welfare around the world by early ‘70s, if those were continued, we would see further growth through maybe 2020, and then the physical realities would start to impress themselves and there would be decline.

    Wait, what, did I read that right????? Enormous growth in WELFARE around the world???  Perhaps I did not understand the sentence and or the meaning of welfare.  So what is the meaning of welfare? -

    "the health, happiness and fortunes of a person or group"  "Statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need."

    Sooo- the conclusion - policies produced a growth in welfare and because of welfare we would experience..... physical realities.  Hmmmm lets see Mr. and Mrs. Middle and Poor class were Given so much welfare the planet is now going to experience "physical realities".  Welfare as in clean water, nutritious food, a shelter to live in.  Surroundings that were clean and fertile. Are those God given rights or Welfare?  Welfare to be meted out for profit? And the millions of people who live in polluted, toxic, areas and forced to live in substandard shacks, forced to eat garbage food and drink dirty water?  Is that welfare too?  Put simply----- allowing people to exist---- is Welfare?  And of course there is always some profit component in the equation.

     

    In the podcast the question was asked why didn't people seem  to get our predicament and why weren't they doing more.  I suggest that that's not the right question, rather - Why have the richest, most powerful, most influential and well connected people done so little with the information. THE most powerful people on the planet have known for almost 50 years the information in this study.  JFK rallied a nation to put a man on the moon but this topic was not deemed to be priority number one by those with the power?  This is the real story, a story not told.  A story to be hushed up.  A story ever so much more exquisitely interesting than the scientist who wrote the study.  But I understand, following the money and telling the "real" story might offend and make important individuals uncomfortable.

    So the people of the world were given welfare and the world went to shit.  Next they and we may just become the "expendable" class.

    Welfare indeed!

    AKGrannyWGrit

     

     

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  • Wed, Jan 01, 2020 - 10:14pm

    MKI

    MKI

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    Every single step of creating or adding value requires energy

    Every single step of creating or adding value requires energy to be expended. Every one.

    This simply isn't true. For example, I added real value (however defined) to my life just today by discovering a shortcut to a friend's house. Saves energy, saves time, and adds value. I added value to my life by using the web to send a large note with pictures rather than a postcard with no pictures like last year. Faster, saves money, better product for all involved, for less energy expended. I added real value to my health by intermittent fasting. Cost me nothing, even saves energy, plus saves on health bills for years to come, and adds real value to my life.

    Now, one could claim GDP is now "lowered" through my efficiency. But that's just playing word games, because my new resources and energy I've saved will merely be applied to GDP in the end by myself or others.

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  • Wed, Jan 01, 2020 - 10:31pm

    #59
    ezlxq1949

    ezlxq1949

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    Which type of climate change denier are you?

    Some articles to provoke discussion

    There are three types of climate change denier, and most of us are at least one

    Why some conservatives are blind to climate change

    Climate explained: Why are climate change skeptics often right-wing conservatives?

     

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  • Thu, Jan 02, 2020 - 1:45am

    Mots

    Mots

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    growth in WELFARE around the world

    Thank you AK for your observations.

    This really does help explain how things fit together.

    "Welfare" in the context that you presented means "common welfare" and represents the "common man" or woman (as opposed to the elite).  The elite figured out (via Limits to Growth) that the world's abundance cannot support the common welfare of the citizen inhabitant and thus Team Elite(TM) cannot share a shrinking pie with normals (deplorables, the Cratchits, or "regular" folk or what have you).

    Those of us who have had contact with billionaires understand that they believe themselves to be a superior group of people, almost in a religious sense.  Fortunately they and we don't have to worry about a French Revolution type of strife because Team Elite (TM) has things under control with the internet of things/facebook/google/G5/smart phones etc.
    It is important that we respect their superiority based on superior gaming of the system, purchase of elite entry into universities such as Harvard/Yale for their often lazy or degenerate children, and etc..  We must continue to let them monitor us.  We should just relax and enjoy Team Elite's (TM) goodies such as "free" cell phone apps. and the new Santa Claus culture of free sh*t tied to surveillance:  (can you sing?:) "He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you are bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!"

    Interesting times ahead.

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  • Thu, Jan 02, 2020 - 2:07am

    Mots

    Mots

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    "But, that’s just playing word games..."

    I agree with you that (at least in one aspect) these are word games.

    I really do respect your focus on higher efficiency.  But taking less energy to do something does not remove the need for energy, but allows more value for less energy used.  You still expend energy.   This is the game, which words are being affixed to.

    I see this in the solar electric space wherein advances in technology (going from single crystal manufactured cells to polycrystalline, ever thinner cuts of the crystals, thinner cells etc.) are decreasing energy inputs all the time to allow higher intrinsic EROIs.  Still, to get a result relevant to generating "more GDP!!" (which we assume means a happy life.......), we need to expend some serious energy.  Bitcoin is extremely energy intensive, and the internet is as well.  Phenomenal energy is used to run the servers that pass on and copy messages around the planet.  Dave Fairtex is an expert in this area and I wonder what he thinks.  All I know is that my computer uses about 50-100 watts and is on all the time, while my modem and wifi seem to chew up about 5-10 watts apiece and are always on, and I have to make an effort of small muscle power to engage the above for an email message that assumingly replaces a paper letter.  Not to mention the high energy used in the Utah servers of the NSA (or the Chinese equivalent in China) to ensure that we are being good.  Based on the energy output of the human body being around 200 watts, and only a small portion of that being used to write a letter, I think that a good case can be made for the argument that emailing a message is more energy intense than writing a stupid letter.  I don't have time for this but very few people really understand how much energy is used in modern appliances.  Just because flipping a switch is easy, and the thing does not run around in circles in response, does not mean that it uses less energy than doing something physically yourself and even engaging a postman to spend 30 seconds on each end and a transportation system with efficiencies that we have not even begun to evaluate....

    You raise an interesting point which is not addressed well by others, in my opinion, and that is: how much energy can we save by modifying behavior, and which particular behaviors should we focus on for what Kunstler refers to as "the long emergency."  I am focusing on cooking energy and am surprised by how much burning a few twigs (3kw in a rocket stove) can save over battery power for single person cooking.

    Best wishes.  I hope that you or another can make a table of recommended behavioral changes to improve the GDP/energy ratio (or other goodness ratio) for our lives.

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  • Tue, Jan 07, 2020 - 8:33am

    #62
    borderpatrol

    borderpatrol

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 21 2017

    Posts: 62

    Worst interview, guest on PP, how mislead can be Chris with this guy. What cool aid did Chris drink

    Has Chris turned into a pawn for disinformation. First thing that makes my ears perk up where is the source of funds for an organization? Club of Rome, David Rockefeller is one of the sources, that's right, one of the most evil men on the face of the earth. Dennis is unknowing or knowning pawn of this organization.
    Here is a exert from First Global Revolution.
    In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill…. But in designating them as the enemy, we fall into the trap of mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.” – Club of Rome, The First Global Revolution, 1991

    I love the first line, A new enemy to unite us. A new enemy, what would that be, climate change, or whatever term they would like to give it. New, means created to do what, unite us. Who's us, everyone that wants to save the world from being uninhabitable due to human's impact of excess carbon, created by us. Solution, decrease carbon created by humans that is destroying the earth.

    Carbon tax is the answer correct? Where does this tax go, it's traded on the CBOT, to do what? Promote businesses that use less carbon and penalize those that use more. All you have to do is convice everyone that carbon gas is the enemy right? Easy enough when 6 companies control 90% of the news.

    I can't believe Chris has fallen for this carbon scam. The earth is in trouble and looking for the ultra rich that cause most of the problems to solve it is preposterous. The World Bank and UN are just pawns of the ultra rich and they are assisting the global corporations in help rape and pillage resources around the world.

    Totally disgusted by both Dennis and Chris, why can't anyone else see this?

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  • Tue, Jan 07, 2020 - 11:55am

    Snydeman

    Status: Bronze Member

    Joined: Feb 06 2013

    Posts: 612

    1+

    Obviously...

    We can't see it because we don't have your stunning intellect, capacity for logic, and amazing ability to elucidate thoughts so clearly in writing. Well done!

     

    Now, if you wish to argue the carbon thingy, there's a forum for that. Someone else can link you for certain.

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  • Wed, Jan 08, 2020 - 11:17pm

    tourcarve

    Status: Member

    Joined: May 21 2009

    Posts: 45

    exlxq1949 - thanks...

    ...for these links!

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  • Thu, Jan 09, 2020 - 8:43am

    borderpatrol

    borderpatrol

    Status: Member

    Joined: Feb 21 2017

    Posts: 62

    4+

    my not so stunning intellect

    "We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years......It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supernational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries." ~ David Rockefeller

     

    Not my  words, just his. The world is changing to a world government, governance whether we debate about it or not. I have a belief of not trusting those who in the past has shown themselves to be devious, thats all.

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