New person with questions
I came across Chris’ work early last year. It was mentioned by another YouTube source identifying the possible connection between a lab leak and the sars-cov-2 (J.C. on a Bike). I really appreciated Chris’ work to spell out some of the questions regarding Fouci’s relationships and behavior in a recent vidoe. So I decided to register at this site.
My first step was to watch the crash course (the 1hr summary of it). I also noticed in a recent blog post by Chris that he does not seem so motivated to promote the crash course – is that correct?
I have some feedback and questions on the crash course but I’m unsure if/how/where to discuss that.
The forum comes across as having a low signal to noise ratio i.e. lots of spam. I don’t see a way to flag spam nor a way to flag posts. Is the forum being moderated? I did see complaints in the forum about it not being moderated.
Is this the best place to engage with Peak Prospoerity members are there other channels that are being used?
For the crash course to be effective it needs to be very accurate. The higher the quality of that material the better it will filter those who are interested in similar issues. A few points that I am unsure of:
The explanation about exponential growth is not perhaps coherent. The growth in worldwide population is not 1% compounding as suggested. At a compounding growth of 1% the population would double about every 70 years.
The correlation of compounding rate and number of periods required for explosive growth could be clarified. The example of the stadium filling with water is at a compounding growth rate of 100% which is exceptionally rare. It seems out of sync with the population growth of 1%.
The basis of tertiary wealth seems overly focused on physical goods. The basis for tertiary power is also based on controlling future labor (e.g. the state taxing its citizens) or on exploiting foreign labor (e.g. the military power enforcing a USD petro-dollar). This has me concerned that the analysis is over-simplified and lacking the connection between social structures and the dynamics at play.
It seems that debt creates a form of tertiary wealth for the lender? It is not based on primary or secondary but on future labor (or capital in rare cases) of the debtor.
The idea that we don’t have infinite resources is obviously true but whether we are hitting into a fixed limit is questionable. Of course there are major problems but we are also clearly not limited to the resources of this planet. The current competition between nation states to setup moon bases is partly motivated by the idea of mining the moon. We are already collecting samples from asteroids and returning them to earth. Just as an example: the asteroid 16 Psyche is believed to contain 1.7×1019 kg of nickel–iron, which could supply the world production requirement for several million years.
Regarding energy, the United Nations Development Programme in its 2000 World Energy Assessment found that the annual potential of solar energy was 1,575–49,837 exajoules (EJ). This is several times larger than the total world energy consumption, which was 559.8 EJ in 2012. Now obviously that is not going to magiclly appear any time soon. Consider France generates 70% of its electricity from nuclear power (with the obvious risks) and future small reactors will be much cheaper (and safer) and consume current nuclear waste. Another relatively untapped resource is geothermal: according to industry estimates, 70% of the Earth’s territory could provide geothermal power using modern drilling techniques. GA Drilling says ultra-deep geothermal could provide enough baseload electricity and heat to power the entire planet with local energy sources.
To be clear I am not claiming there are not problems and building new infrastructure may or may not be possible. But the idea that we are energy limited does not seem to make sense. If we project forward 1000 years and imagine technology has continued to develop at an exponential rate, then it seems obvious we will not have an energy shortage, nor a material resource shortage. Just as an example of that sort of growth: the first industrial geothermal electricity plant opened in Larderello, Italy, in 1904. In 1913, it was producing 250 kilowatts of electricity. Over a hundred years later, in 2016, geothermal energy worldwide produced 75,000 gigawatt-hours per year
The graph showing exponential fertilizer use in the crash course was particularly interesting because it rolls off – like any exponential curve must do if it is based on material resources. Whatever is currently growing exponentially at high compunding rates gets our attention and makes huge changes – the best example is probably the ongoing improvements in computers (doubling or more every 18months).
I guess we need to make the connection between value that is from the primary and secondary sources (i.e. physical resources) and value that is from services. Services are not directly tied to the increasing consumption of resources – people pay much more to eat a smaller amount of food in a 3 star restaurant than being super-sized at McDonalds. It can even work the other way – for example, improving our health and education require a massive increase in spending in public services. Those jobs can be highly paid if society is organized in a different way. I’m trained as an engineer, my wife is a teacher, her job is obviously much more difficult than mine and requires a lot more skill, yet I am paid more, that is just a distortion in how we’ve setup the rules of the game.
Perhaps the services industry is ultimately limited by energy but there is no foreseeable limit to the energy we could generate on Earth and the entire solar system is exploitable. Talking of exponential growth, the cost of getting 1kg to orbit in 1980 was about $100,000 and in 2050 it is projected to be less than $10 https://www.futuretimeline.net/data-trends/6.htm
I am interested in the risks and concerns Chris raises. I think the 3Es are one important lens on viewing the current situation. But imagining we are at peak energy seems naive given the available energy sources – or am I missing the point?
I’m a bit baffled by where you’re coming from, but the Crash Course is fundamental to the site. It’s proven valid over many years, longer than Chris’ work [see mathematician Albert A. Bartlett].
What you get out of the site depends on what you put into it. It’s our site, too. Your concern over noise/signal probably has individual validity because there are so many threads and topics running at once. Possibly most don’t interest you.
Suggestion: Explore the site. We don’t get hand fed here. There’s a huge number of interests here. Look for your own interests and respond. Knowledge that can be acquired from others here is huge. Many of the commenters are brilliant people. You’re now among them.
But, yes. The Crash Course is fundamental and valid. All follows from those predicaments.
Hi Mark. Short answer: its all about oil.
Most of transport, and farming, and mining, is all about oil. No oil = no farming = no mining = no transport = no civilization.
Can you replace the auto fleet with electrics? How long will that take?
How about ships? Planes? Farm equipment? Mining equipment?
Meanwhile, population continues to grow. Cheap oil is gone. Expensive oil is getting harder to find. This ends badly at some point not far in the future.
Planetary oil resources won’t last another 20 years at current consumption. Electricity won’t replace oil as a transport fuel. Can you run farm equipment on batteries? How about those private jets the Oligarchy flies around on?
In 20 years, what will we use?
Hi agnes xyz,
I better understand the role of the crash course, thanks. So it seems the critique of some aspects of the crash course will be of value, so I will try to do that.
I appreciate that you beleive the crash course is valid. In the spirit of Chris’ approach I tried to bring facts and reason to my criticism. You have not addressed the issues i raised in regards to problems in the crash course material. That is fine but it is hopefully obvious that the criticisms are not raised to harm but to help.
Thanks for your reply. I would like to test that assumption a little bit. I’m not sure about the position on oil because there is a long history of people claiming that we are going to hit peak oil and have a collapse due to that. My current understanding is that there is too much oil already discovered and that if we did extract all that oil it would be an environmental catastrophe. So I see a tension between the reliance on oil and the environmental changes that it imposes. We see a cultural move toward renewable energy resources that is driven more by environmental concern than peak oil concerns.
Certainly energy will get more expensive but there is a massive, and I mean massive, buffer in the system regarding energy efficiency. I live in France which is probably typical for Western countries in regads to energy consumption. It would be very easy to half my energy consumption if I had to do that. For example, if everyone started driving smaller cars I could feel safe driving a smaller car that would consume half the energy our current small car consumes. Rather than everyone being in separate cars we could car pool and radically reduce transport cost. We use wood to heat the house, so that is not a big issue for us, but simply wearing more clothes inside and heating less could easily reduce our energy consumption in winter by half. So much of the energy we use is for superfluous needs – we have a fridge that is large, we consume for pleasure things like wine and coffee (with the energy hungry expresso machine).
The idea that everyone is going to keep consuming in the same way while energy prices rise is incorrect. Consider what happened in the 1970s when oil prices were artificially increased – the improvments in efficiency radically reduced consumption. Oil producing countries artificially manage the price to keep consumption high.
You wrote: “Planetary oil resources won’t last another 20 years at current consumption.” Here is a site that tracks that https://www.worldometers.info/oil/ which shows 47 years at current consumption levels. But where your reasoning does not seem sound to me is assuming that consumption just continues as normal until suddenly there is no oil. It will not happen that way. Consider how oil is managed in France, the cost of diesel of a farm is about 30 cents (I think) and the cost for a motorist is about 1.30 i.e. 4 times more expensive. We will control the cost of oil to control where it gets consumed, for example, the cost of oil for private consumption like jets is going to get VERY expensive. But the cost of driving a tractor will not go up at all due to government subsidies – that is how farming in the West works, we do not pay the market price for food, it is massively subsidized.
A realistic scenario would be large increases in the cost of energy for consumers. For example, if you want to run the pool pump, the AC, and heat an energy inefficient home it is going to cost a lot. If you use the public pool, and accept that it is hot in summer and cold in winter, then your costs will not increase massively. Like in any other state, the basic cost of living is adjusted (subsidized) to maintain social stability. Compare the price of bread in india to San Francisco and you will see this.
So let’s say it takes 100 years to run out of oil. In that time frame we can construct the infrastructure necesarry to move to eletricity and hydrogen as our primary energy sources. China is a good exmaple of how fast infrastructure can be built, look at how fast their energy consumption went up over the last 40 years. As I mentioned in my initial post, there is more energy from the sun and geothermal than we know what to do with, so we probably don’t even need nuclear which is another huge and available source (70% of electricity in France).
I am not trying to say there is no problem – there clearly are huge problems with the environmental side effects of using so much oil so quickly. I think governments are doing an incredibly bad job of organising things, we are wasting an incredible amount of limited resources etc. But the value of this community (as I understand it) is using rational, reasoned, scientific information to plan for future changes. Your assumption that in 20 years there is suddenly no oil is not realistic.
MarkNZed…..Great input. Right now much of the energy and focus on this site is on Covid Vaccines, and if they prove to be unsafe when the trials are over in 2022 we may reduce the population enough to revisit the math on resource depletion vs. population.
I hope you will join our discussion behind the firewall and bring your intelligence and thoughtful input to all of the current discussions. Great to have you here as a new voice.
It’s not the end of oil that gets you, it’s the decline.
Pretty much all of the super majors are in decline around the world, peak oil may be in the rear view mirror already, only time will tell.
As Chris says our banking system is designed for continued exponential growth, it does not un grow well! I would submit to you our exponential growth in fiat currency and debt around the world is a sign post along the path of the peak in energy.
I love your thoughts on conservation, we are following through on those as well.
Yes I agree, the “run out of oil” is a common mis-statement, and I’m sorry for making it. I’m out of practice.
The cheap oil discoveries are largely gone. Expensive oil is all that remains. It will continue to get more expensive. That’s the trend.
We can see that oil wells produce ever-fewer barrels every year. New discoveries get smaller, and they don’t last very long. Shale wells today have an annual 45% production decline rate. The wells drilled in Alaska back in the 80s lasted for 20+ years. The direction of this trend is clear, even if the end date itself isn’t.
My guess is the private-jet-flying Oligarchs will never run out of oil. It is the Plebes like us that will have to economize. I used to have a car. Then a motorcycle. Now I walk. Downsizing is entirely possible. I sure did it. And, I dare say, it will be a requirement. Downsizing in advance probably makes sense.
But there are a lot of sunk costs out there. Suburbia is transport-energy-intensive. Living in the Bay Area, commuting to work (in the old days pre-pandemic) on a 50-100 mile commute – just won’t be possible as oil gets more expensive. If you own a home in surburbia with a 50-100 mile commute required to make your payments, you can’t just switch to use a bicycle.
If this is true, all those homes in suburbia are just sunk costs, which will slowly go to zero over time. What will their owners do to make the payments? Will they? Do you want to own one?
Likewise, all the cars out there. Can we just rebuild them all smaller overnight? [How many cars are there in the US? What’s the auto mfg capability per year? Do the math = how many years to rebuild the auto fleet?] Or build a bunch of motorcycles for everyone? Overnight? How long will it take to do this? Do you think it might take an extra expenditure of energy to do this rapidly? Where would the bottlenecks be? Enough steel for this? Should we wait until the problem becomes obvious to make adjustments?
Adjusting to progressively more expensive oil will be a messy process. Probably not a linear one. Probably not without affecting the monetary system. Debt is funded (at the macro level) by surplus energy. Reducing surplus energy available to society will push things towards a deflationary outcome.
So when do people figure this out?
Maybe they’re figuring it out now. Perhaps The Oligarchy is calling it “climate change” so as not to get people too focused on lack. “Save the planet” is a more positive framing than “the oil is getting progressively more difficult to extract, and that comes with a whole lot of changes you might not enjoy.”
The focus on COVID makes sense. You mention the elephant in the room regarding resource depletion: don’t have more than one child! I hope you will understand my desire to “kick the tires” on the forum before taking the next step and enrolling.
I’m also concerned about the money supply. It would be interesting to know what the compounding growth rate has been over the last 20 years in the US. It is suprisingly difficult to find the data well presented. The end of this article https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-money-boom-is-already-here-11613944730 suggests it was around 6% from 2000 to 2019 (but it does not provide references.)
You wrote “I would submit to you our exponential growth in fiat currency and debt around the world is a sign post along the path of the peak in energy.” I don’t think this growth in money supply is anything new, the money supply has been growing exponentially for a long time (like population). I think this is one of the points the crash course makes? Because the only way to pay for interest on debt is by creating new money and the only way to create new money is through debt, we are locked into a compounding growth of the money supply. It has nothing to do with peak oil, it would be growing exponentially in any case. The only other alternative is defaulting on debt which nobody can afford to do (e.g. it would lead to foreign ownership of all assets or war). I think of it like a game of musical chairs. By design there is not enough money in the world to pay back the debt+interest, so we keep creating new debt and the music plays. If the music stops then someone is left in a position where they must default and then the house of cards may come tumbling down.
A key point I would challenge in the crash course is whether growth must always be aligned with primary resource usage. The assumption that everything is sitting on top of the primary resources seems to ignore the value of knowlwedge and services. Anonther example, consider how the rarer something becomes the more expensive it becomes, in this case the growth of the money supply is driven by the rarity of a resource rather than the abundance of it. Consider how much money people are paying to get an education and how much we are willing to pay for health care and you see there are other sources of value that may not be limited.