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The Sound of a Second Shoe Dropping


To avoid the worst of the predicted outcomes, global carbon emissions must be cut by half by 2030, to zero by 2050.

Montage by author of images from Bartek Sadowski, Bloomberg
Polish coal mining supplies 80% of the power to the UN climate summit. 


A comment on one of my Facebook posts helped me to realize it is possible that some readers, especially those born after the 1970s, aren’t familiar with the Club of Rome. The Club was the brainchild of Fiat industrialist and ex-WWII resistance fighter Aurelio Peccei, who was captured and tortured by the Nazis but survived. 
Aurelio Peccei
Because of his language skills, Peccei was asked to give a keynote speech in Spanish at an international meeting in 1965, which led to a series of invitations ending in the creation of the Club of Rome. His speech, about the seriousness of problems facing mankind and the necessity to act globally, deeply moved those who heard it or read it later. Peccei was asked to form the Club of Rome in order to develop a better pathway for humanity, applying advanced data analysis and regenerative design principles.
Tapping into the newfound ability to forecast world trends using early computers (primitive by today’s standards), the Club commissioned ecologist Donella Meadows, her engineer husband Dennis, and team of 15 others to undertake a first model, using software developed at MIT by Jay Forrester called World3. They presented their findings at international gatherings in Moscow and Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 1971 and in 1972 the Club produced a report called Limits to Growth that shocked the science, economics and public policy communities of that time. 
Limits projected that by about the second decade in the 21st century, human population would have exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity and would be “burning the furniture” to find energy, food and nonrenewable natural resources, while the exponentially growing volume of pollutants such as greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals would be heating the planet, fouling human habitat, decimating ocean life, felling ancient forests and forcing mass migrations.
Limits’ “Standard Run” over red chart from Climate in Crisis (1990)
Two of the Limits scenarios forecast “overshoot and collapse” by the mid- to latter-part of the 21st century, while a third (the path not taken) resulted in a “stabilized world.” The leading economists of the day and all the media pundits scoffed, waved their hands wildly, and the Club, along with all the scientists who worked on the project became synonymous with tin-foil-hat eco-wingnuts. The current presidents of the United States and Brazil would no doubt be quick to tell you those Club of Rome studies have been discredited, if they even knew about them.
Ugo Bardi recalls: “[By]the 1990s LTG had become everyone’s laughing stock… In short, Chicken Little with a computer.” 
In 1997, the Italian economist Giorgio Nebbia, observed that the negative reaction to Limits came from at least four sources: those who saw the book as a threat to their business or industry; economists who saw it as an encroachment on their profession; the Catholic church, which bridled at the suggestion that overpopulation was one of mankind’s major problems; and finally, the political left, which saw it as a scam by the elites designed to trick workers into believing that Marx and Engels were wrong.
But because the Club was then and continues to be right about the existential threats we are choosing to ignore, I sat up and took notice when I saw a new report this week entitled The Club of Rome Emergency Management Plan, issued in the first week of the annual UN climate summit, #COP24Katowice.
At the top of the first page, Potsdam climate scientist Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber writes, “Climate change is now reaching an end-game scenario, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.”
After that it doesn’t get any lighter. 
To avoid the worst of the predicted outcomes, global carbon emissions must be cut by half by 2030, to zero by 2050. This is an unprecedented task, requiring a reduction rate of at least 7% annually; no country has to date achieved more than 1.5%. The only possible response is emergency action that will transform human social, economic and financial systems.
As I have written here before, a 7% decline slope (which holds us below 2 degrees, to get to 1.5 degrees we would need to decline by 11%) translates into halving emissions every 10 years. So half by 2030, a quarter by 2040, and an eighth by 2050. Even that will not be enough to hold to the target. Steep emissions reductions need to be accompanied by rapid deployment of negative emissions technologies, which is the subject of a new book by Kathleen Draper and myself, out from Chelsea Green Publishers in February.
The Club of Rome, never one to care what the deniers might say, goes on:
As a result of inaction, climate change now represents an existential risk to humanity. That is, a risk posing permanent, massively negative consequences which can never be undone.
Decades of exponential growth in both population and consumption are now colliding with the limits of the Earth’s biosphere: the climate system is destabilizing; about half of the world’s tropical forests have already been cleared; in the last 150 years, half of its topsoil has been depleted; nearly 90% of fish stocks are either fully or overfished; and the sixth mass extinction event is well underway.
This situation is exacerbated by a global leadership that has abrogated its moral responsibility to provide security for the world’s people and the planet, even as the risks of irreversible climate change escalate.
The inability of our existing economic and financial systems to provide real quality of life and to ensure decent standards of living across the globe has also created social breaking points. The current neoclassical economic model was designed for an ‘empty’ world with a global population of around 2 billion people, when the bounty of natural resources seemed endless.
To stay well below the 2°C warming limit mentioned in the Paris Agreement, global emissions would have to peak no later than 2020.
Then a second shoe dropped mid-week in a report from the Global Carbon Project that The New York Times described under the headline, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018.”
That report, building on a peer-review study published December 5th in Earth System Science Data, said that a three-year plateau in global greenhouse gas emissions did not end in the start of the gradual glide slope Paris calls for and instead bent back up, pretty steeply. All the major polluters except the EU are polluting more in 2018 than ever before, India as much as 8% more than in 2017, and the raw survey data does not yet include so-called “fugitive emissions” (methane leaks) from fracking, flaring and gas pipelines which are only very poorly monitored, if at all.
With the price of natural gas in the Permian Basin falling to negative 25 cents last month, oil companies have been flaring it from tall smokestacks (the better to reach the upper atmosphere and have a warming effect quickly) rather than pay refineries to take it. Flaring as a price-control practice had largely ended 30 years ago in the United States, but has now been revived by the Republican administration, which of course does not believe in global warming.
Nadja Popovich/The NY Times from Global Carbon Project data.
With India determined to give all its citizens (coal-fired) electricity and China set to become the world’s largest car-maker and road-builder, prospects for a near-term decline in emissions are not great.
Last month the White House published findings by 13 federal agencies predicting that global warming could knock hundreds of billions of dollars off the size of the American economy by century’s end. In actual fact, climate events within the United States occurring at a 1°C temperature increase knocked $306 billion off the economy in 2017, double their 2016 cost, and the predicted expense for 2018 is even higher.
We are paying for this ineptitude, if not through the rising costs of insurance, then through higher taxes, or the ashes of houses, or combing through the wreckage after storm surges. 
The Club of Rome provides a laundry list of steps to be taken, and by now it is pretty familiar. One step they have been urging since 1972 does not usually make it into climate reports. They say we need to throw the bums out and elect people who can start to right this foundering ship. 
Humanity currently faces systemic collapse on many fronts, such as threats to the philosophical underpinnings of modern society’s democratic institutions and practices that include declining respect for human rights, the rule of law and the proper use of science, and very much needs more enlightened leadership.
It would seem unlikely that such enlightened leadership will be coming from the United States any time soon. We can only hope the leaders gathered this week in Katowice can step up their own game plan.

At a press conference on Saturday, the COP President said that now it is obvious that the difference between 1.5 degree and 2 degrees warmer will be utterly catastrophic, making it imperative that COP24 take the needed steps to hold to 1.5. For a review of where we are at the end of Week One, here is a press conference by Climate Action Network International:

The Great Change by Albert Bates

94 Comments on "The Sound of a Second Shoe Dropping"

  1. makati1 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 2:45 am 

    There is NOT going to be any significant change in BAU until it all collapse’ and then it will be too late. We are already at least 40 years behind the curve and building up steam.

    To change our oil use in any noticeable amount would destroy the world economy. Granted billions would not notice, but it would end the world as we know it in the West.

    And “Renewables” are still a sick joke. Already countries with budget problems are pulling away from subsidizing them and that is the only way they will grow. I don’t bother reading most of these hopey/feely articles because they are chasing rainbows and looking for unicorns.

  2. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 2:49 am 

    @ Chrome Mags & Other Serious Thinkers

    Yes, all true reference your comments above. With that being said, here’s my question. TPTB know better than anybody else the future, the not to distant future, that awaits life on earth. Even without the severest consequences of AGW, mankind has already ushered in the greatest mass extinction of biodiversity in 67 million years, with the best yet to come.

    Even if the wealthy relocate to New Zealand or the highest elevation of the Andes, they’re going down as well. This only buys them a little more time. Under this scenario, their fate is the same as the rest of humanity.

    What explains the “seeming” total lack of urgency among the politicians and super wealthy? If you mean to tell me that they have simply accepted their fate, I say bullshit- no way. These, the most narcissistic men and women in the world, believe they are special, too self-important to go silently into the night.

    So, what do they know the rest of us don’t? Do they have a pre-planned escape plan? Of course they do. They posses the riches and political power to have enacted a contingency plan, and unfortunately we are not on the RSVP list. And this explains why there is zero sense of urgency on their part, other than lip service. SOP is BAU while provisioning their escape plan so when the SHTF, a well planned and coordinated contingency plan is executed.

    Don’t you people spend some time considering this issue? Please explain why you agree or disagree. Serious replies. Would like for this to be an opportunity to learn.

  3. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 3:03 am 

    “Bernie Sanders flies from here to kingdom come and racks up 300,000 dollars in charter flight costs and wants everybody to not use fossil fuels.

    Another stupid idiot without a clue, a nutjob like no other. Shut up, Bernie. Time to get a life, you stupid hypocrite. Your ranting and raving ain’t gonna do a damn bit of good.”


    So are we supposed to be taken aback and shocked that Senator Sanders has “racked up 300.000 in charter flight costs?” It might be instructive to put this in context. Mr. Trump has racked up $51.657.000 in flight expenses for his golfing junkets, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

    Sanders is a US senator and former US presidential candidate. How should he travel to the various caucus and primary states? By ox-cart? Please show me where Senator Sanders stated “he wants everybody not to use fossil fuels”? Like any responsible elected official, he should encourage the rapid transition to non-CO2 emitting sources of energy. Or do you think this is irresponsible.

  4. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 3:05 am 

    Sorry, forgot to show the link that shows the number and cost of Mr. Trump’s golf outings.

  5. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 3:30 am 


    “Fossil fuels are the bread and butter of the industrial world. It is foolish and foolhardy to believe humans can live without fossil fuels and remain an industrial civilization. Pure fantasy. Let the burning continue.”

    You come off appearing incredibly self-centered. All that matters is you, you, you. You will not be inconvenienced at any cost. Fuck the future. Fuck all the millions of animals and plants who will suffer extinction due to the greed, selfishness, and madness of mankind. You’re OK with letting these innocents suffer the death of their entire species?

    Brother, you had better hope hell does not exist in the after life. I wouldn’t hold my breath, however.

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Karma.

  6. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 3:39 am 

    In every past civilization, collapse occurred due to, though not exclusively, privileged elites rapaciously exploiting the environment while shielding themselves from the consequences.

  7. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 3:57 am 


    “In recent essays, I’ve compared American capitalism to European social democracy — and pointed out that the latter is more successful in every way imaginable. So while the average Western European lives history’s longest, happiest, and richest life, the average American lives in a weird, bizarre, gruesome state: perched perpetually at the edge of ruin, living paycheck to paycheck, fearing their kids might be shot at school, dreading that they’ll have to choose between chemotherapy and bankrupting their loved ones, and watching extremists rampage through what’s left of their democracy.”

  8. makati1 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 4:05 am 

    Der, sadly, that is a pretty accurate description of America today.

  9. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 4:08 am 

    @ Deadly

    Denial. Self-chosen ignorance. Socially constructed mass delusions. Overweening folly. About the world, humanity, life, and each other. Things will be OK, go back to normal. We stick our fingers and cry “LA LA LA LA!!” at the merest mention of even the tiniest inconvenient truth — quick, change the channel, unlike that person, unfollow. So here are a few of those truths, now that I’ve got you in a position where you can’t squirm away so easily.

    The climate is changing. Inequality is spiking. Young people’s lives are declining. The global economy is broken. Democracy is slowly fading, if not dying. We are in deep, deep shit as a world, as a species, as human beings. I could go on. The point isn’t to depress you. Sorry, you’re not that important. The point is that it isn’t about you. What isn’t? This. All of it. The planet. Society. Democracy. Life. Even your life. Denial is a way to retain one’s egoism, really, to cling to the delusion that one is all-powerful. “If I ignore it long enough, it’ll go away!!” Sorry. You just don’t matter that much. The great truth of this age begins right there.

    The world is telling us something pretty important these days, if we listen. It is that we don’t matter at all. Not this way. We have lived all wrong for the last century or so. Materialism, rationalism, individualism. What have they produced? Greed, brutality, cunning, competition. What have those produced? At a human level — beneath the festooned gadgets and the glittering spires? Loneliness, bitterness, rage, anger, fear, envy. Inequality and stagnation and immobility and decline. Despair and cruelty and misery at the meaningless of it all.

    But it is we ourselves who chose all this. This meaninglessness. This futility, emptiness, hollowness. We chose it by saying nothing mattered at all, except winning, conquest, cruelty, possession. Nothing mattered except having the power to make nothing matter.

  10. DerHundistLos on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 4:09 am 

    Mak- I’m afraid you’re and unless we defeat denialism as a society, it’s all going to end fairly soon.

  11. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 4:11 am 


    You will be dead by 2030 for sure..

    Limits to growth had 12 models. One of those models, the “standard run” or, alternatively, the “business as usual” model was the one that 40 years of historical data has tracked/followed. And according to that model the global economy will collapse by 2030.

  12. This is the real Davy on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 4:47 am 

    You know I’ve decided to sell the farm in Arkansas the u.s has gone down the dumps. My buddy Makati-1 convinced me to move to the Philippines . bit humid but at least I won’t have to chop firewood anymore and those tuc tuc’s get better gas mileage than my pickup . Anyway makati I’ll need a pickup from Manila airport when I arrive , will let you know my flight details soon as I book it.

  13. Hello on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 6:07 am 

    >>>> European lives history’s longest, happiest, and richest life,

    Hahaha. You don’t know much about history nor Europe, do you?

  14. makati1 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 6:17 am 

    Hahahahahahaha! This is…what a joke! The real Davy would not even consider moving to the Ps under threat of death.

  15. makati1 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 6:19 am 

    MOB, I don’t give it until 2025 before it collapse’. It could happen next year or tomorrow. Are you prepared?

  16. JuanP on Thu, 30th Jun 2016 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 6:47 am 

    JuanP on Thu, 30th Jun 2016 4:56 pm

    Go Trump! Anyone but Hillary! My wife and I are considering volunteering for the Trump campaign to fight the narcissistic, psychopathic bitch. We helped some friends make calls for Sanders two weeks back and it was fun and interesting. It gave us a chance to talk to many people we wouldn’t have met otherwise. It can be done from your own home.
    I think I could use my antisocial, psychopathic, sociopathic skills to convince people to vote for Trump. I can be very convincing when I want and I am excellent at manipulating people.

  17. BillT on Wed, 28th Nov 2012 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 7:06 am 

    BillT on Wed, 28th Nov 2012 10:54 am

    Too many are actually wanting the ‘end’ to come so they can leave this disaster world and go to some perfect place where they will be safe and happy forever. Jim Jones writ large. But, if you tell someone that it is true from the first day they can understand what you say until they are dying on their death bed,they will drink the cool aid gladly. They don’t believe that it is actually going to happen. The second coming is imminent. No worries. Just keep living as if nothing is happening. Go to church and ‘believe’.

  18. Darrell Cloud on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 7:09 am 

    There is no political solution to this mess. The masses are done. Concentrate on trying to save the remnant. Three days without water will sort a lot of this out. Three months without food will sort out the rest. Look to your people, their security and their provisions.

  19. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 7:17 am 

    Russia denies involvement in ‘Yellow Vest’ protest movement

    Russia meddles in the US election and then assassinated someone in the UK..Now they are inciting a riot in France..

    Hit him hard! Nuclear first strike..I want to see Russian children running naked in the streets like that girl in Vietnam!

  20. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 8:07 am 

    It’s amazing how Clogg substitutes reality with deep state, foreigners, Jews, globalists and other scapegoats..

  21. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 8:09 am 

    Clogg has been duped by “pluto-populism”..

  22. Cloggie on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 8:12 am 

    It’s amazing how I AM THE FLOP substitutes reality with peak oil, Russians, white people and ther scapegoats..

  23. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 9:09 am 


    University of California: Environmental Science & Technology (Malyshkina 2010)

    1. It Will Take 131 Years to Replace Oil with Alternatives

    2. World oil production will peak between 2010-2030

    3. World proven oil reserves gone by 2041

    A global energy assessment (Jefferson 2016)

    An extensive new scientific analysis conducted by the Former Chief Economist Michael Jefferson at Royal Dutch Shell published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews titled “A Global Energy Assessment 2016” : says “that proved conventional oil reserves as detailed in oil industry sources are likely “overstated” by half.” & “punt bluntly,the standard claim that the world has proved conventional oil reserves of nearly 1.7 trillion barrels is overstated by about 876 billion barrels. Thus, despite the fall in crude oil prices from a peak in June 2014, after that of July 2008, the “peak oil” issue remains with us.”

    The World in the 21st Century is faced with huge challenges that go far beyond, but importantly include, energy challenges on the supply, access, and use sides. So severe are these challenges, mainly arising from the demands of a rapidly increasing human population on the Earth’s limited resources, that the future existence of large numbers of people may be threatened with extinction. In that sense, we may be observing the twilight of the Anthropocene (Human) Age.

    Projection of world fossil fuels by country (Mohr, 2015) Fuel

    Over 900 different regions and subfuel situations were modeled using three URR scenarios of Low, High, and Best Guess. All three scenarios indicate that the consistent strong growth in world fossil fuel production is likely to cease after 2025. The Low and Best Guess scenarios are projected to peak before 2025 and decline thereafter. The High scenario is anticipated to have a strong growth to 2025 before stagnating in production for 50 years and thereafter declining.

    IEA Chief warns of world oil shortages by 2020 as discoveries fall to record lows

    Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Warns of World Oil Shortages Ahead

    There will be an oil shortage in the 2020’s, Goldman Sachs says

    Wood Mackenzie warns of oil and gas supply crunch

    Imminent peak oil could burst US, global economic bubble – study

    German Military (leaked) Peak Oil study: oil is used in the production of 95% of all industrial goods, so a shortage of oil would collapse the world economy & world governments

    Now go run away with your tail between your legs! Only Nazi’s will accept a loser like you..


  24. Cloggie on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 9:09 am 

    Russia meddles in the US election and then assassinated someone in the UK..Now they are inciting a riot in France..

    Hit him hard! Nuclear first strike..I want to see Russian children running naked in the streets like that girl in Vietnam!

    Revealing admission by our mobster forum kike. Normally he loves anarchism, provided it comes from the mixed race left, antifa, blm, etc.

    But now that he has understood that the yellow vest movement is a white insurrection, all of a sudden he gets scared and blames Russia for it and tries to instigate a war against Russia (the new Germany).

    CW2 will begin in the US, soon. As mobsters philly link speculates, possible 2021, shortly after Trump has gone (exactly the scenario I have been predicting for some time).

    China, Russia and Europe must patiently anticipate that event and quietly begin to support white insurgents when it begins.

  25. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 9:28 am 


    Yea right..Europe is falling apart way faster..And Trump base are manly senior citizens who are dying off ever day..

    We have oil supplies secured now Iraq, Saudi’s and Shale, plus Canada..Europe and Asia are going to fall and crash hard whne the global oil shortage hits..And its coming soon!

  26. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 9:49 am 


    Europe will have zero GDP growth by 2030..Which means economic collapse..And when the oil shortage hits they will collapse just like the Soviet Union did from an oil shortage..

    Source: World Bank

  27. Cloggie on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 10:13 am 

    “Europe will have zero GDP growth by 2030..Which means economic collapse.”

    Zero growth means stinking reach at constant level.

    Keep trying.

  28. GetAVasectomyDudeLifeSucks on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 10:16 am 

    No way Europe has a positive GDP. French street protests are not a sign of a positive GDP, more a sign of a negative GDP.

    French people are complaining about lack of purchasing power and income not following price increases. Europe might be in stagflation right now.

    What I find the most fascinating about the peak oil story, is not the oil depletion but people behavior. I am amazed how people can lie to them self and pretend that everything is fine.

    You know it is bad when lying to oneself does not work anymore like we what we are seeing in France.

  29. GetAVasectomyDudeLifeSucks on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 10:28 am 

    In another news we now have the Canadian dollars crashing. If this continues I am expecting hyperinflation in Canada and bank of Canada force to raise rates like they did in Venezuela but with no success. Don’t worry eternal positive people of Canada, Canada has an unemployment rate of 5.6% lowest ever or close to it. Forget the falling dollar.

  30. GetAVasectomyDudeLifeSucksAss on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 10:31 am 

    This is people living in Quebec. Always grey and cold with no Sun. Maybe this will cheer you up and make your body warmer.

  31. Dredd on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 11:00 am 

    Great post Mr. Bates.

    They are cremlin up a storm for us (Cremlin: It Should Be A Verb).

  32. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 11:02 am 


    France had a recession in 08 and then again in 12 and they have averaged around .05% growth since..

    Source: World Bank

  33. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 11:17 am 

    Europe could ‘infect us’: Richard Fisher on risks to the economy

  34. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 11:43 am 

    Paris antifa far-right attacks in Yellow Vest protest.

  35. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 12:18 pm 

    A terrible cross-section of humanity

  36. Cloggie on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 1:08 pm 

    You will be dead by 2030 for sure..”

    According to your own philly link, you will be dead in 2021.

    Burial or cremation?

  37. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 2:09 pm 


    That is speculation from a journalist about 2021..Not a peer reviewed scientific model like the limits to growth..

    That’s called a false equivalency..

  38. Cloggie on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 2:55 pm 

    “That is speculation from a journalist about 2021..”

    yabut YOU posted it!

  39. Davy Identity Theft on Tue, 11th Dec 2018 8:27 am 

    JuanP on Thu, 30th Jun 2016 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 6:47 am

  40. Davy Identity Theft on Tue, 11th Dec 2018 8:28 am 

    BillT on Wed, 28th Nov 2012 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 7:06 am

  41. JuanP mental diagnosis on Tue, 11th Dec 2018 8:41 am 

    Davy Identity Theft on Tue, 11th Dec 2018 8:27 am JuanP on Thu, 30th Jun 2016 on Mon, 10th Dec 2018 6:47 am

  42. Davy sock on Tue, 11th Dec 2018 8:42 am 

    JuanP mental diagnosis on Tue, 11th Dec 2018 8:41 am

  43. Davy on Thu, 13th Dec 2018 7:59 am 

    “Keeping Some of the Lights On: Redefining Energy Security”

    “In their 2015 book Off-the-Grid: Re-Assembling Domestic Life, Phillip Vannini and Jonathan Taggart document their travels across Canada to interview about 100 off-the-grid households. [22] Among their most important observations is that voluntary off-gridders use less electricity overall and routinely adapt their energy demand to the weather and the seasons.”

    “The very high “reliability” of power grids in industrial societies is justified by calculating the “value of lost load” (VOLL), which compares the financial loss due to power shortages to the extra investment costs to avoid these shortages. [1][10] [26-29] However, the value of lost load is highly dependent on how society is organised. The more it depends on electricity, the higher the financial losses due to power shortages will be. Current definitions of energy security consider supply and demand to be unrelated, and focus almost entirely on securing energy supply. However, alternative forms of power infrastructures like those described above show that people adapt and match their expectations to a power supply that is limited and not always on. In other words, energy security can be improved, not just by increasing reliability, but also by reducing dependency on energy. Demand and supply are also interlinked, and mutually influence each other, in 24/7 power systems – but with the opposite effect. Just like “unreliable” off-the-grid power infrastructures foster lifestyles that are less dependent on electricity, “reliable” infrastructures foster lifestyles that are increasingly dependent on electricity.”

    “As a result, energy security is in fact higher in off-the-grid power systems and “unreliable” central power infrastructures, while industrial societies are the weakest and most fragile in the face of supply interruptions. What is generally assumed to be a proof of energy security – an unlimited and uninterrupted power supply – is actually making industrial societies ever more vulnerable to supply interruptions: people increasingly lack the skills and the technology to function without a continuous power supply.”

    “If we look at energy security in a more holistic way, taking into account both supply and demand, it quickly becomes clear that energy security in industrial societies continues to deteriorate. We keep delegating more and more tasks to machines, computers and large-scale infrastructures, thus increasing our dependency on electricity. Furthermore, the Internet is becoming just as essential as the power grid, and trends like cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and self-driving cars are all based on several interconnected layers of continuously operating infrastructures.”

    “Because demand and supply influence each other, we come to a counter-intuitive conclusion: to improve energy security, we need to make the power grid less reliable. This would encourage resilience and substitution, and thus make industrial societies less vulnerable to supply interruptions. Coutard and Shove argue that “it would make sense to pay more attention to opportunities for innovation that are opened when large network systems are weakened and abandoned, or when they become less reliable”. They add that the experiences of voluntary off-gridders “provide some insights into the types of configuration at stake”.”

  44. Davy on Thu, 13th Dec 2018 7:59 am 

    This is a great article because it shows a paradox of increasing modernity. As we try to achieve increased reliability and efficiencies of our energy systems we are actually decreasing our resiliency and lowering overall reliability. This article is saying that off grid and 3rd world systems are actually more robust in regards to potential interruptions even though they show more immediate unreliability. When we have a system with very high reliability then activities that increasingly depend on reliability are exposing ourselves to failure. We need to accommodate intermittency and demand management in regards to best behavior in regards to consumption and resilience in regards to potential interruptions.

    I am living with a hybrid of on and off the grid power. I have an 1800 watt solar system with batteries and inverter. I want to add a 1000 watts wind generator down the road specifically to lower intermittency and to have more power to charge an electric tractor I want to get. I used wood to heat my home and heat water. In the summer I only burn wood once or twice a week for high hot water usage days. I am adapting my lifestyle to intermittency. I am changing behaviors to reflect off grid living but I can still access the grid because I use transfer switches to switch any circuit in the house to grid or off grid. Things like electric oven, hot water, and dryer are not switchable. My well pump can be switched but I can only use it to pressurize a water tank. It takes all my system can handle so it is very manual and cannot be left on or I will trip the inverter if other circuits are used. I have water when the grid is down others with wells don’t. This system is much like a sailboat with its master panel of switches for shore power, generator, solar/wind, and battery.

    I am a firm believer in this way of incorporating renewables into the mix instead of all off or a feed in grid renewable system. I have resilience from the grid for bad power days and I have resilience if the grid is down from my renewables power. My system is less expensive than a system trying to cover all power needs by all renewables. I have propane, electric, and charcoal cooking abilities. My heating is wood and or electric and the same for water. I adapt my behavior to accommodate as much solar as I can so we do certain activities during the week based upon solar and wood use. I usually have solar on running something depending on the sun. I do not use batteries at night so they are not being cycled too much to maintain longevity. In the summer if we are going to shower, run dishwasher, and wash cloths then I burn wood that day so we combine activities on wood heat day. In the summer I do not want to burn wood all the time for hot water because wood is expensive in time and effort. In the winter I am always burning wood for home heat so hot water is always from wood. In the winter I sacrifice some hot water performance because I am running off a heat exchanger without an electric water heater so water will not be as hot.

    The point is demand management along with supply sourcing can make you more efficient with lower cost with a minimal change to lifestyles. It takes a little education and investment you can change an all on grid life to a hybrid one. All off grid is a different animal. I would love to be in a secluded place with off grid living but I am not. There is no reason for me to be all off grid with the grid available and electric prices so low. My solar system cannot compete with grid power with cost and availability but the combination of the two make the system at a higher standard than both separate. It comes at a cost though. This system cost me an extra $23,000 over just grid. Some of that I will amortize back over time but I imagine not all unless power prices go way up.

    This becomes complicated when applied to macro situations. Society needs reliability to be a high functioning society able to be modern and robustly economic yet this also increases vulnerability and deceases good behavior. If people are all on grid with high reliability they do not learn to adapt and control their usage than if they are subject to unreliability. Price is a motivator but it cannot do all the motivating. Active demand management requires sacrifice and motivation. I would advocate a combination of the two to increase reliability of both supply and demand in that good attitudes and lifestyles are incorporated. I am saying we need the very reliable grid in some locations but also people using hybrid systems so people develop demand management behavior and are motivated to lower usage. We should not try to make all places highly reliable. Places in the 3rd world should be left to be less reliable with a population that adapts to unreliability. Leave the highly reliable part to certain regions to accomplish economic tasks that need high reliability. Of course this is not realistic because we are a global world of nations with each nation wanting to be the most affluent but within a nation where policy can be managed in such a way we should have more hybrid systems and more regions left to less reliability. The cost may be more with a hybrid system I advocate but it means more resilience and in the end a more prepared population and resilient system. I know some argue here for industrial solar and wind as much cheaper in all cases but these systems do not promote demand management of an enlighten conservation oriented population. A mix is our best policy in my mind.

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