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Richard Heinberg: The Big Picture

Richard Heinberg: The Big Picture thumbnail

Humanity has a lot of problems these days. Climate change, increasing economic inequality, crashing biodiversity, political polarization, and a global debt bubble are just a few of our worries. None of these trends can continue indefinitely without leading to a serious failure of our civilization’s ability to maintain itself. Taken together, these metastasizing problems suggest we are headed toward some kind of historic discontinuity.

Serious discontinuities tend to disrupt the timelines of all complex societies (another name for civilizations—that is, societies with cities, writing, money, and full-time division of labor). The ancient Roman, Egyptian, and Mayan civilizations all collapsed. Archaeologists, historians, and systems thinkers have spent decades seeking an explanation for this pattern of failure—a general unified theory of civilizational collapse, if you will. One of the most promising concepts that could serve as the basis for such a theory comes from resilience science, a branch of ecology (the study of the relationship between organisms and their environments).

Why Civilizations Collapse: The Adaptive Cycle
Ecosystems have been observed almost universally to repeatedly pass through four phases of the adaptive cycle: exploitation, conservation, release, and reorganization. Imagine, for example, a Ponderosa pine forest. Following a disturbance such as a fire (in which stored carbon is released into the environment), hardy and adaptable “pioneer” species of plants and small animals fill in open niches and reproduce rapidly.

This reorganization phase of the cycle soon transitions to an exploitation phase, in which those species that can take advantage of relationships with other species start to dominate. These relationships make the system more stable, but at the expense of diversity.

During the conservation phase, resources like nutrients, water, and sunlight are so taken up by the dominant species that the system as a whole eventually loses its flexibility to deal with changing conditions. These trends lead to a point where the system is susceptible to a crash—a release phase. Many trees die, dispersing their nutrients, opening the forest canopy to let more light in, and providing habitat for shrubs and small animals. The cycle starts over.

Civilizations do roughly the same thing. In their early days, complex societies are populated with generalist pioneers (people who do lots of things reasonably well) living in an environment with abundant resources ready to be exploited. These people develop tools to enable them to exploit their resources more effectively. Division of labor and trade with increasingly distant regions also aids in more thorough resource exploitation. Trading and administrative centers, i.e., cities, appear and grow. Money is increasingly used to facilitate trade, while debt enables a transfer of consumption from the future to the present. Specialists in violence, armed with improved weaponry, conquer surrounding peoples.

Complexity (more kinds of tools, more social classes, more specialization) solves problems and enables accumulation of wealth, leading to a conservation phase during which an empire is built and great achievements are made in the arts and sciences. However, as time goes on, the costs of complexity accumulate and the resilience of the society declines. Tax burdens become unbearable, natural resources become depleted, environments become polluted, and conquered peoples become restless. At its height, each civilization appears stable and invincible. Yet it is just at this moment of triumph that it is vulnerable to external enemies and internal discord. Debt can no longer be repaid. Conquered peoples revolt. A natural disaster breaks open the façade of stability and control.

Collapse often comes swiftly, leaving ruin in its wake. But at least some of the components that made the civilization great (including tools and elements of practical knowledge) persist, and the natural environment has opportunity to regenerate and recover, eventually enabling reorganization and a new exploitation phase—that is, the rise of yet another civilization.

Energy Is Everything
Global industrial civilization shows significant signs of being in its conservation phase. Our accomplishments are mind-boggling, but our systems are overstretched, and problems (including climate change, inequality, and political dysfunction) are accumulating and worsening. However, our civilization is different from any of its predecessors. Unlike the ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Shang Dynasty Chinese, Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans, we have built a civilization that is global in scope. We have invented modes of transportation and communication previously unimaginable. Thanks to advances in public health and agriculture, the total human population has grown to many times its size when Roman armies marched across North Africa, Europe, and Britain. Have we perhaps outgrown the adaptive cycle and escaped natural checks to perpetual expansion?


In order to answer the question, we must first inquire why modern civilization has been so successful. The rise of technology, including advances in metallurgy and engineering, certainly played a part. These provided better ways of obtaining and harnessing energy. But it’s the rapid shift in qualities and quantities of energy available to us that really made the difference.

Previously, people derived their energy from annual plant growth (food and firewood), and manipulated their environment using human and animal muscle power. These energy sources were inherently limited. But, starting in the 19th century, new technologies enabled us to access and harness the energy of fossil fuels. And fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas—were able to provide energy in amounts far surpassing previous energy sources.

Energy is everything. All terrestrial ecosystems and all human societies are essentially machines for using (and dissipating) solar energy that has been collected and concentrated through photosynthesis. We like to think that money makes the world go ’round, but it is actually energy that enables us to do anything at all—from merely getting up in the morning to launching a space station. And having lots of energy available cheaply can enable us to do a great deal.

Fossil fuels represent tens of millions of years’ worth of stored ancient sunlight. They are energy-dense, portable, and storable sources of power. Accessing them changed nearly everything about human existence. They were uniquely transformative in that they enabled higher rates of harvesting and using all other resources—via tractors, bulldozers, powered mining equipment, chainsaws, motorized fishing trawlers, and more.

Take just one example. In all previous agrarian civilizations, roughly three-quarters of the population had to farm in order to supply a food surplus to support the other 25 percent—who lived as aristocrats, traders, soldiers, artisans, and so on. Fossil fuels enabled the industrialization and automation of agriculture, as well as longer-distance distribution chains.

Harvesting corn by hand (left) versus harvesting by machine (right). Image sources: The Harvest Cradle by John Linnell, Public Domain (left). Deer Harvester by Wesley Hetrick, Creative Commons Non-Commercial 2.0 Generic License (right).

Today only one or two percent of the U.S. population need to farm full-time in order to supply everyone else with food. The industrialization of food systems has freed up nearly all of the former peasant class to move to cities and take up jobs in manufacturing, marketing, finance, advertising, management, sales, and so on. Thus urbanization and the dramatic expansion of the middle class during the 20th century were almost entirely attributable to fossil fuels.

But fossil fuels have been a bargain with the devil: these are depleting, non-renewable resources, and burning them produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, changing the climate and the chemistry of the world’s oceans. These are not small problems. Climate change by itself is far and away the most serious pollution dilemma any human society has ever faced, and could lead to crashing ecosystems, failing food systems, and widespread forced human migration.

Replacing fossil fuels with other energy sources is possible in principle, but doing so fully would require massive investment, not just for building solar panels, wind turbines, or nuclear reactors (there are some other serious problems with this latter option), but also for the retooling of manufacturing, transportation, buildings, and food systems to run on electricity instead of solid, liquid, or gaseous fuels. An energy transition is needed, but it’s not happening at even nearly the pace that would be required in order to forestall catastrophic climate change or to prevent economic decline resulting from the depletion of the world’s highest quality oil, coal, and gas resources. Industrial society’s failure to make this energy transition is no doubt due not just to well-funded opposition by the fossil fuel industry, but also to the enormous technical challenge posed, and to the failure of policy makers to champion and implement the carbon taxes and alternative energy subsidies that would be needed.

And so we accelerate toward ecological and economic ruin.

Why It’s So Hard to See that We’re Headed for the Biggest Crash Ever
This is fairly typical of what happens toward the end of the conservation phase of every civilization’s adaptive cycle. Each problem that arises, taken by itself, is usually solvable—at least in principle. But, as problems accumulate, leaders who are accustomed to (and benefit from) the status quo grow increasingly reluctant to undertake the changes to systems and procedures that would be required in order to address worrisome trends. And as those trends are ignored, the level of effort and discomfort needed to reverse them soars. Once solving problems requires too much perceived sacrifice, the only realistic ways to deal with them are to deny their existence or to blame others for them. Blame has the advantages of enabling leaders to look as though they’re actually doing something, and of winning loyalty from their followers. But it does nothing to actually stave off snowballing crises.

It’s easy enough to see how elites could lose touch with reality and miss signals of impending collapse. But why would everyone else follow suit? Recent discoveries in neuroscience help explain why it’s hard for most of us to grasp that we’re on an unsustainable path.

We humans have an understandable innate tendency, when making decisions, to give more weight to present threats and opportunities than to future ones. This is called discounting the future—and it makes it hard to sacrifice now to overcome an enormous future risk such as climate change. The immediate reward of vacationing in another country, for example, is likely to overwhelm our concern about the greenhouse gas footprint of our airline flight. Multiply that future-discounting tendency in one instance by the billions of individual decisions with climate repercussions and you can see why it’s difficult to actually reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions.

We humans are also wired to respond to novelty—to notice anything in our environment that is out of place or unexpected and that might signal a potential threat or reward. Most types of reward increase the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine within the brain. Experiments have found that if an animal’s dopamine receptor genes are removed, it explores less and takes fewer risks—and without some exploration and risk taking, individuals have reduced chances of survival. But the human brain’s dopamine reward system, which evolved to serve this practical function, can be hijacked by addictive substances and behaviors. This is especially problematic in a culture full of novel stimuli specifically designed to attract our interest—such as the hundreds of advertising messages the average child sees each day. We have become addicted to stimuli that our culture has multiplied and refined specifically for the purpose of grabbing our attention (for fun and profit) to such a degree that we barely notice long-term trends that are as threatening as a charging rhino.

The power holders in society incentivize smart people below them in rank and wealth to normalize the unsustainable, deny impending consequences, and distract one and all from worsening contradictions. Economists who claim that economic growth can continue forever on a finite planet win Nobel Prizes. Politicians who argue that climate change is a hoax attract big campaign contributions. Pundits and entrepreneurs advance along their career paths by asserting that society can grow its way out of climate change and resource depletion traps through “decoupling” (service economies, it is claimed, can expand in perpetuity without requiring additional energy or physical resources). Technology mavens win fame and glory by informing us that artificial intelligence, 3D printing, or Blockchain will usher in the “singularity,” at which point no one will have to work and all human needs and desires can be satisfied by self-reproducing machines.

Denial comes in shades, some of them quite benign. Many thoughtful and informed people acknowledge the threats of climate change, species extinctions, soil depletion, and so on, and insist that we can overcome these threats if we just try harder. They are often on the right track when they propose changes. Elect different, more responsible politicians. Donate to environmental nonprofit organizations. Drive an electric car. Put solar panels on our roofs. Start solar co-ops or regional non-profit utility companies that aim to source all electricity from renewable sources. Eat organic food. Shop at local farmers markets. These are all actions that move society in the right direction (that is, away from the brink of failure)—but in small increments. Perhaps people can be motivated to undertake such efforts through the belief that a smooth transition and a happy future are possible, and that renewable energy will create plentiful jobs and lead to a perpetually growing green economy. There is no point in discouraging such beliefs and their related actions; quite the contrary: they should, if anything, be encouraged. Such practical efforts, however motivated or rationalized, could help moderate collapse, even if they can’t prevent it (a point we’ll return to below). But an element of denial persists nonetheless—denial, that is, of the reality that the overall trajectory of modern industrial society is beyond our control, and that it leads inexorably toward overshoot and collapse.

What to Do?
All of the above may help us better understand why the world seems to be running off the rails. But the implications are horrific. If all this is true, then we now face more-or-less inevitable economic, social, political, and ecological calamity. And since industrial civilization is now global, and human population levels are multiples higher than in any previous century, this calamity could occur on a scale never seen before. Although no one can possibly predict at this point just how complete and awful collapse might actually be, even human extinction is conceivable (though no one can say with any confidence that it is likely, much less inevitable).

This is more than a fragile human psyche can bear. One’s own mortality is hard enough to contemplate. A school of psychology (“terror management theory”) proposes that many of our cultural institutions and practices (religion, values of national identity) exist at least in part to help us deal with the intolerable knowledge of our inevitable personal demise. How much harder must it be to acknowledge signs of the imminent passing of one’s entire way of life, and the extreme disruption of familiar ecosystems? It is therefore no wonder that so many of us opt for denial and distraction.

There’s no question that collapse is a scary word. When we hear it, we tend to think immediately of images from movies like Mad Max and The Road. We assume collapse means a sudden and complete dissolution of everything meaningful. Our reasoning shuts down. But this is just when we need it most.

In reality, there are degrees of collapse, and history shows that the process has usually taken decades and sometimes centuries to unfold, often in stair-steps punctuated by periods of partial recovery. Further, it may be possible to intervene in collapse to improve outcomes—for ourselves, our communities, our species, and thousands of other species. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, medieval Irish monks may have “saved civilization” by memorizing and transcribing ancient texts. Could we, with planning and motivation, do as much and more?

”Desolation” by Thomas Cole (1836), the fourth of a five-part series called The Course of Empire. Public Domain.

Many of the things we could do toward this end are already being done in order to avert climate change and other converging crises. Again, people who voluntarily reduce energy usage, eat locally grown organic food, make the effort to get to know their neighbors, get off the consumer treadmill, reduce their debt, help protect local biodiversity by planting species that feed or shelter native pollinators, use biochar in their gardens, support political candidates who prioritize addressing the sustainability crisis, and contribute to environmental, population, and human rights organizations are all helping moderate the impending collapse and ensure that there will be more survivors. We could do more. Acting together, we could start to re-green the planet; begin to incorporate captured carbon not only in soils, but in nearly everything we make, including concrete, paper, and plastics; and design a new economic system based on mutual aid rather than competition, debt, and perpetual growth. All of these efforts make sense with or without the knowledge that civilization is nearing its sell-by date. How we describe the goals of these efforts—whether as ways of improving people’s lives, as ways to save the planet, as fulfilling the evolutionary potential of our species, as contributing to a general spiritual awakening, or as ways of moderating an inevitable civilizational crash—is relatively unimportant.

However, the Big Picture (an understanding of the adaptive cycle, the role of energy, and our overshoot predicament) adds both a sense of urgency, and also a new set of priorities that are currently being neglected. For example, when civilizations collapse, culturally significant knowledge is typically lost. It’s probably inevitable that we will lose a great deal of our shared knowledge during the coming centuries. Much of this information is trivial anyway (will our distant descendants really suffer from not having the ability to watch archived episodes of Let’s Make a Deal or Storage Wars?). Yet people across the globe now use fragile storage media—computer and server hard drives—to store everything from music to books to instruction manuals. In the event that the world’s electricity grids could no longer be maintained, we would miss more than comfort and convenience; we could lose science, higher mathematics, and history.

It’s not only the dominant industrial culture that is vulnerable to information loss. Indigenous cultures that have survived for millennia are being rapidly eroded by the forces of globalization, resulting in the extinction of region-specific knowledge that could help future humans live sustainably.

Upon whom does the responsibility fall to curate, safeguard, and reproduce all this knowledge, if not those who understand its peril?

Act Where You Are: Community Resilience
We at Post Carbon Institute (PCI) have been aware of the Big Picture since the founding of the organization 15 years ago. We’ve been privileged to meet, and draw upon the insights of, some of the pioneering ecologists of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s who laid the basis of our current understanding of resilience science, systems thinking, climate change, resource depletion, and much more. And we’ve strived to convey that understanding to a younger generation of thinkers and activists.

Throughout this time, we have continually grappled with the question, “What plan for action makes the most sense in the context of the Big Picture, given our meager organizational resources?”

After protracted discussion, we’ve hit upon a four-fold strategy.

Encourage resilience building at the community level.
Resilience is the capacity of a system to encounter disruption and still maintain its basic structure and functions. When it is in its conservation phase, a system’s resilience is typically at its lowest level throughout the entire adaptive cycle. If it is possible at this point to build resilience into the human social system, and ecological systems, then the approaching release phase of the cycle may be more moderate and less intense.

Why undertake resilience building in communities, rather than attempting to do so at the national or international level? It’s because the community is the most available and effective level of scale at which to intervene in human systems. National action is difficult these days, and not only in the United States: discussions about nearly everything quickly become politicized, polarized, and contested. It’s at the community level where we most directly interact with the people and institutions that make up our society. It’s where we’re most affected by the decisions society makes: what jobs are available to us, what infrastructure is available for our use, and what policies exist that limit or empower us. And critically, it’s where the majority of us who do not wield major political or economic power can most directly affect society, as voters, neighbors, entrepreneurs, volunteers, shoppers, activists, and elected officials.

PCI has supported Transition Initiatives since its inception as one useful, locally replicable, and adaptable model for community resilience building.

Leave good ideas lying around.
Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine, quotes economist Milton Friedman, who wrote:

“Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”

Friedman and other neoliberal economists have used this “shock doctrine” for decades to undermine regional economies, national governments, and indigenous cultures in order to further the project of corporate-led economic globalization. Klein’s point is that the key to taking advantage of crises is having effective system-changing plans waiting in the wings for the ripe moment. And that’s a strategy that makes sense as society as a whole teeters on the brink of an immensely disruptive shift.

What ideas and skills need to be lying around as industrial civilization crumbles? One collection of ideas and skills that’s already handily packaged and awaiting adoption is permaculture—a set of design tools for living created by ecologists back in the 1970s who understood that industrial civilization would eventually reach its limits. Another set consists of consensus group decision-making skills. The list could go on at some length.

Target innovators and early adopters.
Back in the 1960s, Everett Rogers, a professor of communications, contributed the theory of the Diffusion of Innovations, which describes how, why, and at what rate new ideas, social innovations, and technology spread throughout culture. The key to the theory is his identification of different types of individuals in the population, in terms of how they relate to the development and adoption of something new: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

Innovators are important, but the success of their efforts depends on diffusion of the innovation among early adopters, who tend to be few in number but exceptionally influential in the general population.

At PCI, we have decided to focus our communications on early adopters.

Help people grasp the Big Picture.
Discussions about the vulnerability of civilization to collapse are not for everyone. Some of us are too psychologically fragile. All of us need a break occasionally, and time to feel and process the emotions that contemplating the Big Picture inevitably evokes. But for those able to take in the information and still function, the Big Picture offers helpful perspective. It confirms what many of us already intuitively know. And it provides a context for strategic action.

Pro-Social, Nonpartisan
I’m frequently asked if I have hope for the future. My usual reply is along these lines: hope is not just an expectation of better times ahead; it is an active attitude, a determination to achieve the best possible outcome regardless of the challenges one is facing. PCI Fellow David Orr summed this up best when he wrote, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”

However, if that’s as far as the discussion goes, merely redefining “hope” may seem facile and unsatisfying. The questioner wants and needs reasonable grounds for believing that an outcome is possible that is something other than horrific. There is indeed evidence along these lines, and it should not be ignored.

Steven Pinker, in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature, argues that we humans are becoming more peaceful and cooperative. Now, it could be argued that any decline in violence during the past few decades can be seen as yet another indication that civilization is in a conservation phase of the adaptive cycle: we have attained a balance of power, facilitated by the wealth flowing ultimately from fossil fuels; perhaps violence is simply being held in abeyance until the dam breaks and we head into the release phase of the cycle. Nevertheless, evolution is real, and for humans it occurs more rapidly via culture than through genes. It is entirely possible, therefore, that we humans are rapidly evolving to live more peacefully in larger groups.

Earlier I explained how the findings of neuroscience help us understand why so many of us turn to denial and distraction in the face of terrible threats to civilization’s survival. Neuroscience also offers good news: it teaches us that cooperative impulses are rooted deep in our evolutionary past, just like competitive ones. Self-restraint and empathy for others are partly learned behaviors, acquired and developed in the same way as our capacity for language. We inherit both selfishness and the capacity for altruism, but culture generally nudges us more in the direction of the latter, as parents are traditionally encouraged to teach their children to share and not to be wasteful or arrogant.

Disaster research informs us that, in the early phases of crisis, people typically respond with extraordinary degrees of cooperation and self-sacrifice (I witnessed this in the immediate aftermath of wildfires in my community of Santa Rosa, California). But if privation persists, they may turn toward blame and competition for scarce resources.

All of this suggests that the one thing that is most likely to influence how our communities get through the coming meta-crisis is the quality of relationships among members. A great deal depends on whether we exhibit pro-social attitudes and responses, while discouraging blame and panic. Those of us working to build community resilience need to avoid partisan frames and loaded words, and appeal to shared values. Everyone must understand that we’re all in this together. The Big Picture can help here, if it aids people in grasping that the collapse of civilization is not any one group’s fault. It is only by pulling together that we can hope to salvage and protect what is most intrinsically valuable about our world, and perhaps even improve lives over the long term.

Hard times are in store. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do. Each day of relative normalcy that remains is an occasion for thankfulness and an opportunity for action.

Richard Heinberg

34 Comments on "Richard Heinberg: The Big Picture"

  1. roccman on Mon, 17th Dec 2018 3:21 pm 

    While Heinberg is right – civilizations have collapsed – what is not known amongst most is that an “ark” has always been created by these dying civilizations – this is the huge CURRENT blind spot and the CURRENT agenda. The grocery list of “what ails humans” is not complete and typically most don’t know to talk about the “ark”…that is a cube – 6x6x6 (216) or the -cosine of the square root of 54. The ark is discussed in most all great literature. Google “Sky Garden” in the City of London – then google “Dutch ark sails to africa, 2008” the building (sky garden) and the ark look identical. Again folks – the agenda is ancient, global and interdimensional.

  2. roccman on Mon, 17th Dec 2018 3:25 pm 

    BTW the -cosine of square root of 54 is in in fact – the golden ratio – Phi. Most call it,ignorantly, the number of the beast – not knowing anything about hermetic ideas.

  3. Darrell Cloud on Mon, 17th Dec 2018 4:51 pm 

    In the Old Testament there is mention of the remnant. These are the people who by divine providence, luck or pluck manage to escape the collapse. When Rome collapsed, the church set up an ark in monastic orders in places like Skellig Michael. In these remote outposts, Latin and the written legacy of Rome and Greece survived while was consumed by the dark ages.

    The same thing will happen this go round in the mountains, in swamps and in impenetrable forests. I think it might be possible even in flat Florida. Sugar sand motte and baileys should be fairly easy to put up with heavy equipment or a hundred determined men and women with shovels.

    Look to your hard copies of technical manuals, your copies of Gibbons and your Bibles. When the flickering screens go dark, your youngsters will once again become students of the past.

  4. print baby print on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 2:01 am 

    90% of humans are worse than animals, with an IQ lower than a sheep There can no be any collective solution .we are ‘ every man for himself’ and who survive will tell the story

  5. Shortend on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 3:13 am 

    As a student of History what goes up must come down to the dead state.
    What the ancient city of Rome had one million souls at it’s height in 1AD and needed to colonize the Mediterranean world to support it’s population. After it’s collapse,numbered in the thousands.
    Boy, hope I’m lucky and die before the SHTF.
    Here in South Florida, I have a front row seat

  6. anon on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:38 am 

    mm, lets not forget that while some monks in ireland preserved a handful of texts, through the whole era the real treasure of ancient knowledge was not just hidden away in a monastery, but remained alive and current in byzantium. The renaissance was not fed by texts of antiquity preserved in ireland, but by texts of antiquity coming west from a collapsing byzantine empire. (of course if you read gibbon youll only see his endless dislike of byzantium and his attempt to explain a thousand years as merely a ‘decline’)
    what is unique about the collapse we’re seeing now, is that the industrial civilization, and its collapse, are global phenomena and there will be no part of the world left untouched. thats where the ireland metaphor helps us now, because it’s only in remote and currently ‘useless’ places that theres any hope that they wont get destroyed in the death throes of industrial civilization. there will be no byzantium this time around to preserve it for us.. and much more will be lost this time around.

  7. Sissyfuss on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 8:53 am 

    What a conundrum, that our overly successful survival instincts have lead us to a bottleneck where survival will become ever more difficult for all living things. The modern human philosophy has become “Consume and Breed” and pay pay no attention to that catastrophe behind the curtain. I, like many keep my mind attached to a screen of some sort where I can shut the damn thing off if the message becomes too realistic.

  8. JuanP on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 9:42 am 

    “China and Japan lead global dumping of US sovereign debt”
    Another baby step in the right direction!

  9. JuanP on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 11:13 am 

    Full text of China’s new European policy.

  10. Tired of Waiting on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 12:06 pm 

    I wish things would just collapse; get it over with. The waiting is truly the hardest part.

  11. george on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 12:37 pm 

    This economy is like an out of control elevator with greed at every floor.

  12. Darrell Cloud on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 3:35 pm 

    Tired your your apparent hope for the zombie apocalypse is misplaced unless your harbor suicidal tendencies. If the system goes down, we are expected to lose 90% of our population within the first year. Wrap your head around that and understand that the odds of you and the people you care about surviving such an event are not good.

  13. twocats on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 4:31 pm 

    Fast collapse has been questionable for a decade. The system has so many self-correcting mechanisms and can flush out weak hands and weak souls so easily. Entire US cities and entire countries around the world have imploded in the past fifteen years, and yet, the rest persists.

    I think there will be some step-downs that will have some interesting “firsts” that I am anxious to see:

    1) gas line in the US outside of a natural disaster

    2) global population decrease

    We’ve recently seen life expectancy fall in the United States over the past couple of years due to opioid epidemic – so I would put that on the list as “slow collapse”. because no matter how high they run the market – it can’t give people the feeling that their lives are improving – only increasing use of energy or a society worth living in would accomplish that.

    and speaking of markets – who’s waiting? the shit is happening as we speak. I’m burning through my popcorn – loving it!!!

  14. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 4:32 pm 

    “Crude Carnage Continues”

    “The energy complex has gone from bad to worse this afternoon as WTI collapses to a $46 handle and Permian crude below $40 amid economic growth (demand) anxiety and surging supplies. A U.S. government report Monday forecast surging shale-oil production, adding to worries about a glut; and in Moscow, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said production is rising, although the country is preparing to implement output curbs to conform with an OPEC+ accord. “Oil has gotten caught up in all the panic you’re seeing,” said Bill O’Grady,chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management LLC in St. Louis. “This is all about fears of a recession. It’s risk-off everywhere.” But, as BMO’s Russ Visch notes, it’s not over. Crude oil (WTI contract) has rectified the deepest oversold reading in more than 30 years by doing nothing more than trade sideways for the past 3-4 weeks. That’s not healthy. A close below support at $49.41 would signal a resumption of the downtrend and open a new swing target of $44.27. The next major support level below that is $42.25. We noted a few weeks ago that crude oil likely won’t bottom until equity markets do similar to what occurred in 2011 and again in 2015. So far it’s living up to its end of the deal.”

  15. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 4:32 pm 

    “2019 Will Be A Wild Year For Oil”

    “The bullish factors”
    “Iran The largest and most obvious risk to supply comes from Iran. The U.S. waivers to eight countries buying Iranian oil will expire in May.
    “Libya although the country has lofty goals to increase production in 2019, it is just as likely that they could surprise the oil market with unexpected losses.
    “Venezuela Venezuela is set to close out the year near 1 mb/d of output, down more than 600,000 bpd since January. The losses could slow at this point, if only because there is little left to lose. Yet, one would be hard pressed to find a single analyst that expects production to rebound in the near- or even the medium-term.
    “U.S. shale By all accounts, U.S. shale is expected to continue its explosive growth. Indeed, shale producers have vastly exceeded 2018 forecasts, surpassing some initial estimates by around 1 mb/d. It is all the more notable since the drilling frenzy was supposed to be hobbled by pipeline bottlenecks. Nevertheless, the recent downturn in prices, financial stress and ongoing pipeline issues could finally slow growth.
    “OPEC+ cuts The 1.2 mb/d cut should help eliminate much of the surplus, although perhaps not by the mid-year meeting in Vienna. OPEC+ might be forced into extending its production cuts.
    “Lack of supply growth This is more of a post-2020 problem, but the severe cutback in spending that began in 2014 has not really been felt yet. The surge in shale supply has papered over the dearth of new conventional projects. With the pipeline of projects drying up from 2020, supply tightness might start to pinch.
    “Bearish supply-side factors”
    “Economic downturn Perhaps the largest pricing risk, and one of the hardest to predict, is the possibility of an economic downturn. The global economy has already thrown up some red flags, with slowing growth in China, contracting GDP in parts of Europe, currency crises in emerging markets and financial volatility around the world. The tightening of interest rates looms large in many of these problems.
    “U.S. shale growth Despite a downward revision compared to a prior forecast, the IEA still expects non-OPEC supply to grow by another 1.5 mb/d in 2019, which exceeds total global demand. The bulk of that will come from U.S. shale. With new pipelines coming online in the second half of the year, the next shale wave could be coming.
    “OPEC+ noncompliance Already Russia has indicated it would not cut by much in January, when the OPEC+ deal takes effect. As such, there is a risk that the full cuts do not materialize.

  16. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 4:42 pm 

    “We’ve recently seen life expectancy fall in the United States over the past couple of years due to opioid epidemic”

    28,000 deaths from opioids is a drop in the bucket??

    life expectancy is stagnating only showing a .1 drop

    Not good but nothing dramatic

  17. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:06 pm 

    Oops sorry. Wrong link again. Damn it.

  18. makati1 on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:11 pm 

    quit it JuanP you handle stealing pervert

  19. makati1 on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:12 pm 

    this is the article juanP

  20. makati1 on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:12 pm 


  21. peakyeast on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:13 pm 

    @twocats: The stair-case model is likely and preferable even – as long as you are in the areas where the step-response take place.

    Like so many countries nowadays…

    When I look at Syria, Libya, Libanon and many others I think that we have reduced consumption for many millions – permanently. I do not believe their countries will prosper again.

  22. peakyeast on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:14 pm 

    argghh edit function please… .. as long as you are NOT in….

  23. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:21 pm 

    I know many of you registered forum members keep asking me why I continue to copy and paste all of those articles from the hedge all of the time.

    The simple answer is, I really don’t know.

  24. I AM THE MOB on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:25 pm 


    Nothing dramatic? More people died of drug deaths last year than in the entire Vietnam war..I just lost a close friend from high school who has a 7 year old child..Life expectantly hasn’t declined in over 100 years..

  25. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:31 pm 

    It seems the American Medical Association is very concerned about the national opioid epidemic.

    I prefer to get my info from the MSM. What do a bunch of stupid dumbass doctors and surgeons know anyways.

  26. JuanP on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:43 pm 

    Davy, I wish I had something to say period. I say nothing. I just steal your handle and gum up the board with my nonsense. This is because I am me JuanP. I would rather play dirty and stupid than intelligent

  27. Anonymouse on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 5:45 pm 

    I have to agree with you Juan, you have not posted anything intelligent for a long time. Yea, occasionally you post an empty link and say a one liner but how smart is that? I think you are just in a mental funk (depression) which is manifested in obsessive anger towards Davy. You find comfort in being an asshole. That’s my opinion for what it is worth.

  28. boney joe on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 6:16 pm 

    Davy is correct. To suggest 28.000 annual deaths due to opiods would have any sort of material effect on life expectancy on a population of 330.000.000 is a joke.

    Save the hysterics for someone who is buying.

  29. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 6:23 pm 

    I would apologize for making all these fake posts using the handles of people that are far better than me, but I am complete douche-bag so screw that idea. Besides, being exceptional as I am means never saying sorry. Calling myself Admin was a stroke of genius on my part I have to admit. I bet dirty Juan, billy3rd world and Anon peed themselves when they saw Admin moderating and neutering them.

    If anyone cares, I am going to sign off and read the back of a box of cereal the Salvation Army dropped off for me the other day. I will be back to neuter your dumb ass’s after I am done.

  30. Davy on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 6:40 pm 

    Further to my above. This could take a long time. Theres lots of big words on cereal boxes and i don’t have a dictshionery.

  31. Admin on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 6:48 pm 

    JuanP isn’t logged in Davy, and everyone here knows that boney joe is one of your socks.

  32. JuanP on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 7:15 pm 

    Peakyeast “When I look at Syria, Libya, Libanon and many others I think that we have reduced consumption for many millions – permanently.”
    I agree that most of the places that are collapsing now are unlikely to ever recover completely. Venezuela and Ukraine are two other good examples, the first has oil and the second has soil, but their best years are all in the past and never coming back.

  33. JuanP on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 7:23 pm 

    Anonymouse “I have to agree with you Juan, you have not posted anything intelligent for a long time. Yea, occasionally you post an empty link and say a one liner but how smart is that? I think you are just in a mental funk (depression) which is manifested in obsessive anger towards Davy. You find comfort in being an asshole. That’s my opinion for what it is worth.”

    I am glad to see that we still have some sane, inteligent, and perceptive people here. I almost completely agree with you. I find no comfort in being an asshole, though.

  34. Admin on Tue, 18th Dec 2018 7:38 pm 

    It’s spelled Intelligent Davy. Not inteligent.

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