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Are limits to growth real?

Enviroment

In 2002, global warming denialist and anti-environmental gadfly Bjørn Lomborg consigned the 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, to “the dustbin of history.” However, 42 years of data now appear to vindicate the book’s premise, that the human enterprise must accept some limits on economic growth.

Research published in 2014 by Dr. Graham Turner at the University of Melbourne shows that four decades of data track closely to the Limits “Business As Usual” (BAU) scenario, which they warned could lead to resource constrained economies and large-scale economic collapse in this century. The Limits authors did not make predictions; rather, they outlined possible futures and explained how those scenarios could arise, and what the consequences might be.

In outlining the BAU scenario, the The Limits to Growth researchers concluded: “If the present growth trends in world population, industrialisation, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.”

The Melbourne study shows that their warning is reasonable. The study makes particular note of peak oil and the decline in “Net Energy” available to society after the rising energy costs of extracting low-grade, marginal, highly polluting hydrocarbon reserves. We witness this today in the Canadian tar sands and in the shale gas fracking industry.

The Denial Chorus

Growth economists and pundits ridiculed The Limits to Growth within a week of its publication.  Yale economist Henry C. Wallich, dismissed the book in Newsweek magazine as “a piece of irresponsible nonsense.”

New York Times economist Peter Passel attacked the Limits book by conjuring false claims that all the study’s simulations “invariably end in collapse” and that the book predicted depletion of critical resources by 1990. The book, however, made no such predictions, and on the contrary, offered sound suggestions to avoid collapse. These facts did not deter the denialists.

“There are no great limits to growth,” U.S. president Ronald Reagan declared in 1985, “when men and women are free to follow their dreams … because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.”

This inspiring Reaganism serves as the official corporate rebuff to any talk of environmental limits. Lomborg claimed: “Smartness will outweigh the extra resource use.” Dreams. Imagination. Smartness. Humans, the theory went, are just too clever to be restricted by biophysical limits.

In 2008, in Canada, Ottawa Citizen, columnist Dan Gardner attacked Canadian writer Margaret Atwood for even mentioning The Limits to Growth book in an interview. “You mean the one that said world supplies of zinc, gold, tin, copper, oil and natural gas would be completely gone by 1992?” barked the columnist. “You mean that report?” The glitch in Gardner’s harangue, of course, is that the Club of Rome book says no such thing.

The Limits to Growth authors provide a table (p. 56 in my edition) in which they display three columns of numbers to explain potential depletion rates of commodity reserves:

  1. A static index, showing how long known reserves could last at 1972 rates of consumption. 

  2. An exponential index, showing depletion at increasing consumption rates. 

  3. An optimistic index, allowing for future resource discoveries and new technologies.

The denialists cherry-pick the middle column, the fastest possible depletion, and then misrepresent this as a “prediction.” In the 2011 BBC documentary, “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace,” filmmaker Adam Curtis repeats the erroneous claim that the Limits authors “Predicted an imminent global collapse,” presumably because, according to Curtis, they believed nature was a machine that operated like a computer. They did not. The Limits authors recognized the complexity of biological systems, they understood that the map is not the territory, and they carefully explained that “resource availability … will be determined by factors much more complicated than can be expressed by either the simple static reserve index or the exponential reserve index.”

Jean-Marc Jancovici, environmental consultant to the French global warming study, Mission Interministérielle de l’Effet de Serre, refers to Limits to Growth and the IPCC report on climate change as “documents that 99% of the people that quote them never read.”

Ecologists and social planners will benefit from understanding that resource depletion does not imply that we will “run out” of those resources, but rather that as we deplete finite reserves, we find ourselves spending more money and energy to retrieve lower quality reserves, with greater ecological impact, exactly as we are now doing in the tar sands and fracking fields. 

In his Ottawa Citizen attack, Gardner ridicules Margaret Atwood for suggesting that eventually “Things unconnected with money will be valued more – friends, family, a walk in the woods.” Ms. Atwood makes a valid and important point: We might indeed achieve happier lives with less stuff. In 1979, Norwegian ecologist Arne Naess explained this as: “Richer ends, simpler means.”

Cassandra revisited

In 2007, as the world economy soared, The Wall Street Journal reported commodity shortages in “New Limits to Growth Revive Malthusian Fears,” an essay referring to nineteenth century economist Thomas Malthus, who had warned of limits on a finite planet. Although the business journal documented cases of scarce energy, water, land, and resources, they clung to the denialist dream: “Powerful voices have warned that human activity would overwhelm the earth’s resources. The Cassandras always proved wrong. Each time, there were new resources to discover, new technologies to propel growth.”

We might note, that these authors misread the Cassandra myth. In the Greek story, Apollo lusts after Cassandra, beautiful daughter of Trojan king Priam, and bestows upon her the gift of prophecy. However, she spurns the deity’s advances, so Apollo takes revenge with a curse that no one will believe her. This is not a tale about erroneous predictions; it is a tale about blundering humanity ignoring the truth and mocking the visionary. 

In addition to sleeping through the classics, certain economists may also have skipped calculus and natural science classes. High school biology students know that bacteria in a petri dish or fruit flies in a jar will grow until they exhaust available nutrients, and then perish. Wolves in a watershed will grow beyond the capacity and then die back. A similar fate befell humans on Easter Island and Reindeer on St. Matthews Island. There are zero cases in nature of endless growth. None. 

In real ecosystems, growth has only two possible futures: 1. Dynamic stability (oscillation within limits) or 2. collapse. “All growth after maturity,” explains Dr. Albert Bartlett, late emeritus professor of physics at Colorado University, “is either obesity or cancer.”

In 1900 the grand banks around Newfoundland provided habitat and nutrients to support 10-15 tons of commercial fish per square-km. Now, that figure has dropped to less than 1.5 tons, a 90 percent reduction in ocean productivity, triggering economic disaster in Atlantic fishing communities.

In 2008, after decades of denial, the International Energy Agency admitted that hydrocarbon “energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable.” The data is now irrefutable, but geologists had warned of peak oil production in the 1950s, and The Limits to Growth had alerted humanity four decades ago. Meanwhile, most hydrocarbon reserves must stay in the ground to avoid disastrous global warming according to a study by Christophe McGlade and colleagues at University College London, and published by Nature

In 2009, Nature published “Planetary Boundaries” by Earth systems scientist Johan Rockström and colleagues, showing that human activity has pushed seven essential systems – biodiversity, temperature, ocean acidification, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, land use, fresh water, and ozone depletion – near or beyond critical tipping points. 

In 2012, Nature published “Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere,” by 22 international scientists, warning that human activity is risking a planetary-scale transition, “with the potential to transform Earth rapidly and irreversibly into a state unknown in human experience.”

Dr. William Rees, at the University of British Columbia, creator of “ecological footprint” analysis, wrote in “the Way Forward” in Solutions Journal: “A virtual tsunami of evidence suggests that the global community is living beyond its ecological means.”

We live on a vast planet, whose bounty appears at times almost infinite, but human enterprise has reached the scale of the Earth itself, and we now witness a big difference between “smartness” and the physical requirements of economy such as energy, trees, and fish. And because global society remains severely unjust, with rich nations consuming most of these dwindling resources, we have to simultaneously reduce wasteful consumption in those rich nations and share Earth’s bounty more equitably.

We cannot make nature’s limits disappear with wishful thinking. Cassandra, remember, really did see the future. The fools around her brought down Troy. 

Rex Weyler is an author, journalist and co-founder of Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace



30 Comments on "Are limits to growth real?"

  1. Rodster on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 6:05 am 

    We live in a finite world period. There are limits to everything thing.

  2. J-Gav on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 6:59 am 

    Good article, explaining what should be obvious to thinking people: Biophysical limits are real …and those who predicate a future which denies their existence are living in a dangerous Fantasyland.

  3. Davy on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 7:16 am 

    Good article without the usual greenie fantasy optimism of a shiny new AltE world around the corner if we would only invest. I have been dooming and prepping in a significant way since 2005. Even before 2005 I was following the limits of growth issues. Pre 2005 I was not convinced these issues would play out in a decade. I felt like 2 decades where more probably. In the last 10 years I have seen an exponential increase in the subtle issues of limits of growth over a broad spectrum of economics, resources, and social issues. Over population is the single biggest issues in my mind. Over population is truly a foundational predicaments that effects all other limits of growth issues.

    I am finding at a macro global level a subtle cognitive dissonance among the exceptionalists and cornucopians. Their meme of progress and adaptation to limits through man’s use of technology, substitution, and markets in now under threat. I see this most fully now from all their article’s attacking the doom message of depletion, limits of growth, and ecological collapse. The exceptionalsits are in a reality denial mode. The more reality screams in their face the more they scream back.

    I see the bumpy descent now in motion. The trigger in my mind was diminishing returns to financial repression and the asset purchases of the global central banks. These financial repression policies have not ended but it is progressively slowing. The Fed policy changes and the end of the Swiss currency peg are an in-your-face example of this diminishing returns to macro global quantitative easing. The oil price drop from the appearance of an oil glut created by an economic slowdown is the other. These issues are subtle and may bounce around as markets and policies do but IMO the trend is clear. Limits of growth and descent are a paradigm shift. That shift appears to be occurring now. Expect new rules to the game. Everyone should take note and prepare.

  4. Plantagenet on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 7:48 am 

    There are limits to growth but the current oil glut shows we aren’t there yet. When we hit peak oil we will see oil shortages and high energy prices, not an oil glut and low energy prices

  5. Plantagenet on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 7:56 am 

    Also the claim that the current oil glut is due to shrinking demand doesn’t match the facts. Global GDP continues to grow and oil demand is at an all time high

  6. Rodster on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 8:06 am 

    “Global GDP continues to grow”

    Seriously? Come on now. 😉

    You mean the USSA’s GDP which is all built on lies and data manipulation? The Chinese GDP data which is also built on lies, distortion and manipulation? The entire planet is being run by Central Banks. They are the ones who are behind the govt manipulation.

    Trying to convince the world we are in a recession is just immoral at best best. The entire Planet since 2008 is in the midst of a Global Depression and collapse.

    If the US Gov’t can lie about it’s GDP numbers as well as unemployment data which John Williams from Shadwostats puts in the range of 26-28% unemployment then anything else the Govt tells me is pretty much assured it’s bullshit.

  7. Rodster on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 8:20 am 

    Here’s a guy who puts China’s GDP numbers in perspective and shows even during the good times they were nowhere near what their Govt claimed. While China was claiming 9% growth they were actually half that.

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/8/7/china/truth-about-chinas-gdp-numbers

    Ask yourself, if the Global GDP is growing, then why are Central Banks around the world..fearing the “D” Word…….DE-FLATION? 😉

    The world has hit it’s economic limits and is only being manipulated by Central Banks and the free money the Federal Reserve has given to the TBTF institutions and Wall Street.

    That’s where you’ll find your GDP growth. Hell I can grow my GDP by 2,000% if I could print monopoly money and have people accept it as real cash. 😉

  8. paulo1 on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 8:28 am 

    Plant,

    The ‘glut’ of oil is a simple reflection of recent high prices and extremely high debt levels due to QE and low interest rates. You know this. They flooded the market with expensive oil, and that is all they did. It’s not like they found an elephant field and there is actually more oil than previously thought. If oil was $200/bbl then CTL or kerogen would be feasible and would flood the market.

    I would be very surprised if shale investment will come back before real and visible PO decline sets in, as we are on the cusp of it. Even hyped up and stupid retail investors will remember a drubbing a few years hence. If it had any staying power, the majors would have stayed in the game, wouldn’t they?

  9. Davy on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 8:29 am 

    It has been a Cat Piss morning. Planter, limits of growth do not have to hit in a quantitative way to create crisis. Limits of growth can hit in a qualitative way such that the diminishing returns associated to limits of growth approach create destructive turbulence. This is what the bumpy descent has done for 10 years now. This is why we have financial repression and high then low oil prices. It is called disequilibrium in a situation a faux stability giving way to a bifurcation event in the vicinity.

    Planter please don’t tickle me with your bogus growth meme cause it don’t fly in the land of reality. Current GDP growth represents a huge global malinvestment physically. In the realm of the abstract financial world it is debt. These two issues are faux growth and further anti-growth because they will never bring a return as normal policies, investment, and practices do. Extend and pretend policies are kicking the malinventment can down the road. Sooner or later this game will end. What we are seeing now is a blow out of entropic activity on a huge scale which represents the waste of vital resources that could have been used to mitigate and adapt to collapse.

    Planter you are so far up a tree you can’t see the friggen forest. I like you Planter but you like to play a spoiler here and piss people off. Are you into the shit disturbing business or do you want to responsibly contribute? You are smart enough to at least accept the possibility of a demand driven oil glut. Many of your comments support this theme subconsciously. It is almost like you know it but enjoy pissing people off. I am not pissed just pointing out the fact others are. I would take note if so many people raised hell with my position.

  10. bobinget on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 8:43 am 

    Plantagenet states the obvious. True to form, ‘obvious’ is often nuanced.

    I maintain a moment of oversupply, because of
    religious, political intolerance, is no more an indicator of ‘Growth Limitations’ then would be
    temporary shortage brought about by open conflict.
    (Gasoline was rationed in the US during WW/2).

    The Japanese and Germans effectively were cut off from oil supplies during WW/2. This did not stop
    these two economies from thriving post war.

    In all probability we will, within the year, be experiencing shortages driving oil prices higher.
    All this indicates is a breakdown in the supply chain.

    Anyone who states flatly there are no limits (to growth) is a fool.

    We have an out of control birthrate. (Almost 4,000,000 newborn straws in the soda can, just since New Years Day!

    What are “Alternatives to Growth” ?

    Do we put all toothless on ice flows ?
    (assuming we find ice)

    Should we continue to restrict or encourage birth control?
    (abortion, chemicals, family planning)

    Follow China’s ‘Single Child Policy’?

    Develop cleaner, less labor intensive occupations?
    (limiting, even eliminating existing ‘jobs’)

    Tell ya what. Let’s just look at the number of diapers
    used by this six million newborns. After all, disposable diapers are all about resources .

    http://disposablediaper.net/faq/how-many-diapers-are-required-every-day-to-satisfy-the-world-consumption/

    In the 0-2 age group requires, on an average, 4.42 disposable diapers every day – 6.82 are needed for newborns (size 2) while only 3.74 are needed for two year olds (size 5 and 6 with non linearity). This means that 40.37 million diapers are required every day in the United States alone. There are variations to consumption patterns. For example, in Japan, mothers are more concerned about hygiene and use almost two and a half more diapers per day than mothers in America do, and Americans use at least one more diaper per day than Latino Americans do. If we estimate the total world consumption on this basis, it translates into 1,375 million diapers every day – i.e. if every baby in the world uses a disposable diaper.

    In summary:

    In the United States alone, 467 diapers are used every single second (with market penetration estimated at 95.6%; only 4.4% babies use the old non disposable kind). Considering a typical weight of 45 grams per diaper, that means 1,816 tons of diapers are used every day in the U.S. alone.

    For the whole world, 18,238 diapers are needed every second, if we go by the theoretical calculation. Unfortunately, in reality, world consumption is less than one quarter of this because of poverty in a large part of the world where market penetration of disposable diapers is low.

  11. marmico on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 9:01 am 

    Planter please don’t tickle me with your bogus growth meme…

    I realize that empiricism is inconvenient and doesn’t fit your gloom-and-doom narrative but 2009 was the only year that world real GDP did not grow since 1960.

    GDP from the World Bank

  12. bobinget on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 9:12 am 

    If the manufacture and disposal of one single product of modern life represents a major problem, how are we to manage?
    We ‘manage’ because every industry has developed
    over generations complicated mechanisms for supply, manufacture and distribution.

    Using the example of crude oil, Saudi Arabia broke two Cardinal rules of Cartels.
    1) KSA used the one product it makes as a weapon.
    (most weapon’s intent is explosive)
    2) KSA allowed religious and political concerns interfere with sound business practice.
    (Selling finite crude now at half price, endangers future profitability)
    Yes, yes, I know KSA is cheating by shorting markets, all the worse, their oil is still burned up.

    KSA has simply monkey wrenched complicated, highly interlocked, interdependent economies.

    If diaper materials were suddenly become unaffordable, scarce, we could reuse cloth diapers.
    How that would impact water and detergent supplies, not to mention energy for electric and gas driers, sewage disposal. I’ll bet growth in these departments would attempt to keep up.

    I’ll invest in growing wooden clothespin markets.

  13. Ron Patterson on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 9:20 am 

    Plant, peak oil will be the point in time when more oil will be produced than has ever been produced in the history of the world.

    Therefore we can infer that the time of peak oil will also, very likely, be a time of an oil glut as well.

  14. Plantagenet on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 9:25 am 

    I think it’s quite possible that the world will plunge into another economic crises fairly soon. But let’s not confuse our concerns about future economic problems with the reality of the current situation

    Global GDP continues to grow albeit slowly
    Global oilroduction continues to grow thanks to huge gains in U.S. tight shale oil production
    Right now we are in an oil glut

  15. Plantagenet on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 9:31 am 

    @ronpat

    Good point. But consider that AFTER the peak oil production will decline.

    There’s no sign of that occuring. Yes, we may see temporary production declines as exploration tapers off due to low oil prices. But by definition after the peak oil production will taper off no matter how many wells get drilled. That’s not what we see. Over the last 10 years more drilling is still producing more oil.

  16. ghung on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 9:48 am 

    I got over the limits to growth debate a while back. True growth should be organic growth, occurring naturally using resources relatively easily obtainable. What we have, industrial growth, is largely forced; foie gras, force fed with stuff people don’t really need resulting in bloated goose economies, attempting to create demand where their was none. A society that relies on mostly discretionary production to provide ‘incomes’ loses its meaning. We’ve reached the “Red Queen” era of running faster to just try and stay in place with things that really do matter.

    That doesn’t mean I have to participate in that madness => earn more => consume more => waste more => earn more… At what point does our desire for surplus become our moment of overshoot? We’re well past that point; that’s all that matters.

    Take what you need. Leave the rest.

  17. J-Gav on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 10:50 am 

    Ghung – I like your “bloated goose economies.” Seems to me to be a fairly apt metaphor, extending well beyond just the production of foie gras.

  18. Perk Earl on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 11:06 am 

    “In the United States alone, 467 diapers are used every single second.”

    Bobinget, there was a Mad magazine bit I remember on babies, suggesting using a plexi-glass bubble that was hinged around the middle and had an air hole in the top. All the stuff was at the bottom of the bubble so it just needed to be washed out – nothing to throw away. The fumes and noise were also contained within the bubble. That would save a lot on diapers – lol. Of course they didn’t explain what would happen if the infant rolled the plexi ball, but maybe it could be on a stand.

    In China they use to put their infants in a sandbag with just the head sticking out and place them all side by side next to the river near where they were working. The sand bag caught all the stuff and the infant which could not move due to the pressure from the containment would lose it’s desire to act out, so these infants would become very docile (sheeple). I guess that’s a lot of sand to dispose of but anyway it beats changing diapers so often.

    I’m not trying to negate the diaper analogy as it relates to limits, just having fun suggesting alternatives.

  19. Apneaman on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 12:23 pm 

    What percentage of the economy is financialization? What does it produce? Why has it grown so much? I thought the, so called, tech revolution was supposed to create less dependance on big institutions; make the world flat. I sometimes wonder what percentage of tech sales are for the growth and maintenance of the security state and the financial complex it protects. Add that together with the people needed to run and maintain it. I bet it is a really big dollar number, but hey, it’s “good for the economy/deity” and the numbers are all that matters right? Our societies and citizens exist to serve the economy. Were like monks who have devoted their lives to the unquestioning devotion of invisible (market) forces. The higher power that everyone serves and answers to. Every economic graph and chart is the equivalent of a biblical verse; it gives guidance and explains and justifies our reality. Just look at all the Mammon worshipers who cannot go an hour with out checking the market on their stupid phones and judge humans by their productivity. Much like the late medieval man who carried a small bible and could not think a thought in non religious terms and measured others by their level of devotion.

  20. Ron Patterson on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 1:11 pm 

    Plant wrote: “Good point. But consider that AFTER the peak oil production will decline.
    There’s no sign of that occuring.”

    When your AT peak, there can be no sign of production that will not occur until AFTER the peak.

    However there is every indication that oil production will decline in late 2015. I have predicted that the 12 month period, September 2014 thru August 2015, will be the highest 12 months of production…. ever.

    You can save this and remind me of it when, or if, I am wrong.

  21. tahoe1780 on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 1:47 pm 

    Ocean Life – http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40713.htm

  22. J-Gav on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 1:50 pm 

    Ron – That may be the case. Predictions are tough, we’ll see. When you add in a growing population and expectations of increasing availability of per capita energy, particularly in Asia, that could make for a lot of disappointed campers, couldn’t it?

  23. BC on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 2:02 pm 

    Plant, global real GDP PER CAPITA has barely grown since 2007-08, trending around 10-30% of the long-term average with cheap oil.

    Global oil production PER CAPITA is down since 2005-08, i.e., Peak Oil. Crude oil PER CAPITA is down even more.

    US oil production PER CAPITA is down 40%+ since the peak in 1970.

    With respect to global oil production PER CAPITA, the world is where the US was in the mid- to late 1970s, i.e., peak industrialization and the onset of deindustrialization and financialization.

    The problem for the world hereafter is that we no longer have $10-$20 oil and low debt to GDP as we had then, permitting financialization and 20-25 years of growth of debt to wages and GDP with cheap oil.

    So, in one sense, LTG began when the US reached peak industrialization (when LTG was first published) and is about to worsen hereafter with the world having reached the same peak but now with peak debt and Peak Oil.

    That is to say, growth is over, which implies that capitalism and its growth imperative is over. That socialism relies upon a growing capitalist surplus (and imperial expansionism, exploitation of labor, and expropriation of resources), the end of capitalism is likewise the end of socialism (as we know it).

    Therefore, we need a radical transformation (self-organization) of “the economy” (purpose, objectives, etc.), “money”, resource allocation, utilization, and conservation, income and purchasing power distribution, system of taxation, incentives, and rewards, and form of political representation that permits the continuation of the historical universalist-humanist progressivism since the Enlightenment.

    But the rentier Power Elite and their CEO and bankster oligarchs and their politicians and economists will not permit such a transformation.

    Therefore, the transformation has to come from the self-organization of like-minded and similarly motivated scientists, engineers, technicians, gearheads and roughnecks, architects, techno-savvy artists and intellectuals, ecologists, ecological/biophysical economists, and small businesses whose interests are in serving the needs of the bottom 90%+.(I’ve left out some, so forgive the omission.)

    The necessary transformation that serves the majority will NOT come from CEOs, Wall St. types, Ivy League economists, rentier speculators, politicians, lawyers, banksters, Silly-Con Valley gazillionaires, and Establishment public intellectuals and mass-media influentials.

    Without such a universalist-humanist or technohumanist/technoprogressive transformation, we risk the collapse of the mass-consumer economy, the institutions that depend on its growth, and the predictable economic, financial, social, and political outcomes, including increasing risk and scale of gov’t reaction and violence, racial/ethnic/religious conflict and violence, loss of faith in institutions, lawlessness, and abject privation and despair.

    P.S. Apneaman (LOL!), I’m not religious, but the reference to Mammom is as apt as any in describing the deity the Anglo-American rentier Power Elite and their rapacious oligarchs worship at the Temple of Wall Street. That false god is among the first we send packing if we collectively want to rid the civilization of the non-productive, ultimately destructive force in the US and around the world.

  24. J-Gav on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 3:11 pm 

    Davy – Yeah, As Art Berman has pointed out, the basics are pretty simple here. Supply outstrips demand, price goes down.

    There’s a little more to it than that, of course, what with the ‘taper’ kicking in etc.

  25. marmico on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 4:30 pm 

    Global oil production PER CAPITA is down since 2005-08

    Global oil production per capita peaked in 1979 and since then global real GDP per capita (constant USD) has risen 60%.

    It’s called energy intensity.

  26. J-Gav on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 5:20 pm 

    Marmico – You still believe in official GDP figures as a measure of, well, WHAT exactly? It’s become a simple measure of wealth transfer to the oligarchy, in case you missed it …

    Largely through their vast manipulation of all markets that count and their fraudulent investments in highly leveraged derivative products which are somehow, miraculously, supposed to represent “wealth.”

    You come across as someone who, very clearly, doesn’t get it, or chooses not to.

  27. Makati1 on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 7:25 pm 

    The US switched from a real economy to the faux one we have now in the 1970s. If you know your US history, you can see why. It was a chain reaction to one event. The Empire could only survive by changing from fact to fiction. We are now seeing the last act of the play and the fat lady is about to sing.

  28. Sugar Seam on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 7:40 pm 

    doesnt natural disaster cleanup count toward GDP growth?… there is irony there.

  29. dubya on Sun, 18th Jan 2015 11:30 pm 

    Mr Plant: I don’t know what we would do here without you.

    I have found one numerical reference to the current ‘oil glut’ – from my calculations it works out to a massive 7 minutes of daily oil consumption.

    Zwei Dinge sind unendlich, das Universum und die menschliche Dummheit, aber bei dem Universum bin ich mir noch nicht ganz sicher. [Albert Einstein zugeschrieben]

  30. Perk Earl on Mon, 19th Jan 2015 12:00 am 

    On the topic of limits to growth, below is a link with a podcast link of Martenson interviewing Gail. It’s quite good!

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-01-18/gail-tverberg-beginning-end-oil-production

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