Nov 072019
 November 7, 2019  Posted by at 2:27 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ivan Shishkin Midday. Near Moscow 1869



“In theory they were sound on Expectation
Had there been situations to be in;
Unluckily they were their situation”
– W.H. Auden



And drawn back again into energy… I did a little interview on the topic this week, and that was a little too little. Can’t cover it all in 5 or 10 minutes, even though that is mostly because people understand so precious little. We fool ourselves non-stop 24/7 on the topic, just the way industry and politics like it.

A wee step back: “The only clean energy is the one that isn’t used.” I’ve seen that attributed to Nicole, and that’s fine. But at the same time, I see terms like “clean energy”, “zero-emissions” and “zero-carbon” fly by all the time, used to depict things that are not clean at all. Perhaps less polluting, but that’s only perhaps; we’re experts at discounting externalities.

Still, we do still realize that without oil and gas there would be no wind turbines and solar panels, don’t we? How much carbon waste is generated in the production process of the two may be up for grabs, if only because that’s nobody’s favorite topic, but it’s a whole lot more than zero. More for solar, I would guess, because mining of rare earth metals is a pretty dirty process.


But in the end, the only aspect that I find really interesting, and that everybody appears to ignore, is why we produce so much waste. If you were hell-bent on designing a contraption aimed at wasting as much energy, and generating as much waste, as possible, you would have a hard time competing with the automobile.

Your run of the mill internal combustion engine uses maybe 10% of the energy you put in at the gas station, and you use it to transport yourself in a contraption that is 20x heavier than you are. That leaves you with just 0.5% of the energy embedded in the gasoline that is effectively used.

And that’s not all: before the gas reached the station, there was an entire process of extraction, refining, multiple transport steps. And before the car reached the store, it had already generated over a third of all the waste it will in its ‘lifetime’. If ever you need a way to demonstrate that people are not very smart, look no further.

Angela Merkel this week said she wants 1 million car charging points in Germany by 2030 (the country is way behind). And she may mean well, but for a physicist it’s still disappointing. If anyone could understand that replacing petrol powered cars with electric ones is a very poor deal, it should be her.


But sure, Germany has some very large carmakers, and she needs to appease them. Cars run the economy, after all. Or, rather, that’s not quite right, it’s in fact generating waste that runs the economy. Which is the only sensible conclusion we can draw after seeing that way less than 0.5% of energy is efficiently used in and by a car.

And for people like Merkel, practical politicians with ties to industry, that means you have to keep them running. And help the media and industry in convincing people that electric cars, produced by BMW, Merc and VW, is a great way to save the planet. Still, making those things requires enormous amounts of oil and gas.

If a car that runs on an internal combustion engine generates a third of the waste produced in its ‘lifetime’ before it hits the store, I bet you the ratio is worse for electric cars, because again of mining of rare earth metals and other components. And then they run on electricity generated by coal or gas or oil plants, or wind that we saw is not clean, or even nuclear, which produces the ultimate lethal form of waste, which we can still not safely store.


We need an entirely different approach, and I find it both very hard to understand and very disappointing that I don’t see this reflected as their no. 1 item by the climate rebellion and the various Green New Deals. That is, we must reduce our consumption of all forms of energy, not just oil and gas, and we must do it in a drastic fashion.

Luckily, we can start with the automobile, that contraption [seemingly] aimed at consuming as much energy, and generating as much waste, as possible. But even if we would achieve a 50% increase in efficiency there, we would still hover around that same 0.5%. Still crazy after all these years.

That won’t work. But there are other options. We presently live in cities and towns that are designed exclusively around those cars with their abysmal efficiency rates. In many if not most places, over half of what once was, and could be again, public space, has been turned into car space. There are no kids playing in the streets anywhere anymore.

If you talk about waste or pollution, that too could be labeled as such. In only 100 years, or even just 50, not only have most city populations exploded, both through birth rates and migration, all those extra people and the ‘original’ population now demand space for their vehicles that are 20x their weight and size.

And the car makers keep on advertizing ‘lifestyle’ ads with wide open roads and smily happy people. If I can repeat myself “If ever you need a way to demonstrate that people are not very smart, look no further.”


Now, mind you, if and when I say something that sounds like: we can do this, I am a lot more skeptical than most of you. This is because as I wrote three weeks ago in Energy vs DNA, we are driven by nature, by our DNA, it doesn’t matter how you define it, to maximize our energy consumption. Not on an individual level, but on a group level.

There’s still the trifle little matter of how all systems, all organisms, deal with energy (sources). Now, according to Alfred J. Lotka and Howard T. Odum, in what they and others have labeled the 4th law of Thermodynamics, all systems and organisms of necessity (DNA/RNA driven) seek to maximize their use of energy, for pure survival reasons: the one that’s most efficient in its ability to exploit and utilize -external- energy sources will survive. (another word for this is: Life)

In that article I also quoted Jay Hanson:

Why can’t we save ourselves? To answer that question we only need to integrate three of the key influences on our behavior: 1) biological evolution, 2) overshoot, and 3) a proposed fourth law of thermodynamics called the “Maximum Power Principle” (MPP). The MPP states that biological systems will organize to increase power generation, by degrading more energy, whenever systemic constraints allow it.

But then that takes me right to a quote I’ve used a few times before, from Herman Daly and Kenneth Townsend:

“Erwin Schrodinger (1945) has described life as a system in steady-state thermodynamic disequilibrium that maintains its constant distance from equilibrium (death) by feeding on low entropy from its environment—that is, by exchanging high-entropy outputs for low-entropy inputs. The same statement would hold verbatium as a physical description of our economic process. A corollary of this statement is that an organism cannot live in a medium of its own waste products.”


Note that the Maximum Power Principle is quite mute on efficiency. It talks about being efficient in grabbing the resource, not in using it. That only matters if you MUST be efficient. The oil extravaganza we discovered in Pennsylvania and Baku in the 1850s has left us without any reason to be efficient. And there is precious little reason to believe we will suddenly change that behavior BEFORE we hit a wall (or, rather, THE wall).

And also note that Daly and Townsend talk about waste in general, waste as in what is left over once we have “consumed energy”, when we have used a low entropy “source” and turned it into a high entropy one, i.e. one that is useless to us (though trees live off of CO2, we have no use for it). In that regard, replacing one form of energy with another, as electric cars seek to do, is a very dubious undertaking.

The only approach that makes any sense, is to use and consume vastly less ‘energy’. From a rational point of view, that would seem an easy thing to do: it should be possible to transport yourself at a higher efficiency rate than 0.5%. But at the same time, that’s not at all what we are doing.

We, like all organisms, are obeying the Maximum Power Principle: we grab all the energy we can, and we use it in whatever way we can. Got to be a bit careful with the term “we” perhaps, if only because if by some miracle we might drastically reduce our energy consumption, which physics says should be no problem -though biology might disagree-, we would leave a lot of oil, or other energy forms, available to for instance the Chinese, who could use it against us.

Very much a part of the Maximum Power Principle: competition between species leads to maximum ‘power grabs’ (for survival), but also competition within species (same reason). What you have in your possession, they do not.


I very much welcome any and all thoughts and contributions and disagreements on this topic. But do note I’ve been on it for many years.



I will return to Jerusalem, my holy city, and live there. It will be known as the faithful city… Once again old men and women, so old that they use a stick when they walk, will be sitting in the city squares. And the streets will again be full of boys and girls playing.
– Zechariah 8:3-5



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Home Forums Energy vs Waste

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    Ivan Shishkin Midday. Near Moscow 1869     “In theory they were sound on Expectation Had there been situations to be in; Unluckily they were
    [See the full post at: Energy vs Waste]


    Energy vs Waste is a quid pro quo
    Therefore lets do an impeachment inquiry.

    a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.
    “the pardon was a quid pro quo for their help in releasing hostages”
    exchange · trade · trade-off · swap · switch · barter · substitute · substitution · reciprocity · reciprocation · return · payment · remuneration · amends · compensation · indemnity · recompense · restitution · reparation · satisfaction · requital


    “If a car that runs on an internal combustion engine generates a third of the waste produced in its ‘lifetime’ before it hits the store, I bet you the ratio is worse for electric cars,” I read the other day that the EV figure is 43%


    Would’t surprise me one bit Arttua, and then they start running on coal. Insanity squared, and that pleases the entire green movement. I’m on record saying the term Green lost its meaning the moment BP incorporated it in its logo

    John Day

    Today’s compilation is “Life Support Systems” same theme, some different aspects…
    How Private Equity Vampires Are Killing Everything
    Hostile takeovers by vulture capitalists use leveraged loans to buy companies like Sears, sell off long-accumulated assets, borrow massively, buy back stock to raise the price of the stock the vultures hold, so they can sell it, let the company die, and find another to bleed to death.
    This is killing the host. The parasites are running the business. This can be prevented with different financial laws.

    Auto Industry Recession is Tanking Global Economy
    This may not be a “problem”. 7 year payments on a $65,000 pick up truck are “normal” around here.

    Democratic politicians have a blind-spot for cars and excessive driving.
    ​ ​Sanders’ plan aims to speed up this process by offering a “cash for clunkers”-style grant program that would purchase electric vehicles for low- and medium-income drivers. Over 10 years, the plan would cost $2.1 trillion, enough for roughly 54 million EVs at today’s average price of $36,600 each. It is the largest single expenditure in Sanders’ $16.3 billion climate plan.
    ​ ​Matthew Lewis, a climate and urban policy consultant in Berkeley, said Sanders’ plan is an inefficient way to spend such a large outlay. “Even as a symbolic victory, it’s not much of a victory,” Lewis said. “It’s like, ‘Congratulations, you just threw away enough money to build a great public transit system in every city in the country.’”…
    ​ ​“Depending on how much you drive, a car that’s 10 to 12 years old might actually be better for the environment than replacing it with an electric vehicle,” Lewis said.

    ​America’s food-chain map.
    Truck everything thousands of miles in multiple steps, irrespective of distance, invisibly to the grocery shopper. “Sustainable”?

    Dr. D

    ​“Depending on how much you drive, a car that’s 10 to 12 years old might actually be better for the environment than replacing it with an electric vehicle,” As I say regularly.


    Driving and shipping are options. All these places are capable of walking and growing if they wish. They don’t, and the price point will tell them. $25/gal and $200/liter for grain, a day’s wages for a measure of barley and don’t spare the oil and wine? You’ll be growing kale and tomatoes in a half-second that year.

    Well, it will shortly solve itself as we’re going to have another epic economic crack-up and Merkel’s –indeed all Germany’s — master plans can crawl back under the rock they came from. California has said the same thing but when it came to it, they just shut off the power and left you in the dark, no planning, no apologies, no solutions given.

    Doc Robinson

    Someone crunched the numbers and found that the “fuel efficiency” for the human body while walking is roughly equivalent to a gasoline-powered vehicle that gets 180-340 MPG. On a bicycle, the human body achieves the equivalent of 720-1300 MPG.

    But there is typically a large amount of embedded fossil-fuel energy in our food. If the average is 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of food, then those human MPG figures get divided by 10.

    For a fair comparison, the MPG of automobiles should be similarly reduced by the embedded energy required to produce each gallon of fuel, and the embedded energy in the vehicles and related infrastructure should also be included in the accounting.

    The human body’s MPG can increase significantly with a locally grown diet that’s lower on the food chain.
    (Your mileage may vary.)

    This should in no way be taken to suggest setting aside the bike or boots for a car that gets better performance. Rather, we should consider ways to make our agriculture or eating habits less energy-intense. By necessity, we once spent less than one kilocalorie of energy on each kilocalorie of food delivered to the plate—otherwise we would have starved ourselves out of existence. So we know that we don’t strictly require a 10:1 ratio of input energy to output energy. Choosing our food sources and food type can make a big difference here.

    Dr. D

    I wrote a whole article on this, where cows eat grass and are butchered and eaten 100 yards away for zero CO2 and zero kilocalories.

    As with so much infrastructure, they forget the road is half the bicycle. That’s very energy-expensive indeed, but can be in much worse condition for bikes or Model T’s than for Teslas. Also weather, which is abominable in half the northern hemisphere, but clearly a lot better than the present system.


    Dr. D


    Doc Robinson

    Back when the national speed limit was 55 mph, a European acquaintance was only half-joking when he suggested to me that the ideal car for drivers in the US would be the Citroen 2CV (produced from 1949-1990). With a weight of only 500 kg, the 24-hp version had a top speed of 63 mph, and the 30-hp version could do 75 mph.

    Today, there is not one car which comes even close to these figures. The smallest model of Citroën now on the market, the C1, weighs 810 kilograms (despite the use of lighter materials)… Compared to the first 2CV models, the weight of the smallest Citroën today has almost doubled, while the top speed more than doubled and the maximum power output rose by a factor of eight. Surprisingly, the fuel consumption remained more or less the same. The C1 consumes 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres (61 miles per gallon), the 2CV consumed on average 4.4 litres (64 miles per gallon).

    It is obvious that the engine of the C1 is many times more energy efficient than the engine of the 2CV, since the latter needed the same amount of fuel to power a much lighter and much slower vehicle. In other words: if we would apply this modern technology in a car that is as light and slow as a 2CV from the fifties, we would now drive cars that scarcely burn any gasoline. Unfortunately, all technological progress was devoured by more weight, more power, more speed, more comfort and more electronics.

    Kris De Decker, Low-Tech Magazine

    Maxwell Quest

    Some thoughts on the energy problem…

    Esoteric writers say that man is only aware of about 1% of the physical plane, which leaves 99% yet to be discovered, all the other planes/dimensions being currently out of reach. The words of American physicist, Richard Feynman, would seem to corroborate this when he said that the energy in a cubic meter of empty space was enough to boil all the oceans of the world.

    The eye-witness descriptions of the tic-tac UFO’s encountered in 2004 by the Nimitz carrier group also add support to this claim of untapped energy. The craft maneuvered with speeds and accelerations that seemed to defy all our known laws of physics, having no control surfaces and emitting no exhaust plume. Wavy lines, like those seen rising off a hot surface, seemed to surround the craft, giving the appearance that it could bend space.

    Where is all this energy when we most need it? Safely out of reach, since man still lacks the necessary moral development to use it wisely. It still amazes me that we were allowed to discover the energy sources of nuclear fission and fusion, as these were immediately put to the service of destroying life. So, it looks like we are going to be stuck with fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, or at least until our motivations turn from self-interest to the service of life and the common good.

    Dr. D

    I have a theory that the engineering-insane drive to all-electric is because they already know what new electric patent is about to be admitted. Just like how Uber can only exist as a self-driving car. I can’t identify whether it’s in storage or distribution, but clearly it needs electric motors.

    Remember Tesla had a wireless power transmission method? Why not that? We already know it exists, it’s 100 years old.


    I see no essential responses to my article at all in the Comments, like nothing I say has any weight, I see only people retreating into their own old trenches. The Model T Ford or the 2CV have nothing to do with what I wrote. I can expect that in many other venues the article will be published in, but right here it is disappointing. Here, your can disagree as much as you want, but you’re going to need some logic.

    Maxwell Quest

    “I very much welcome any and all thoughts and contributions and disagreements on this topic.” – Raúl Ilargi Meijer

    I don’t understand your disappointment, Ilargi. What exactly were you looking for? If it was the nodding of heads, I think you got it. I, for one, don’t have any problems with your essay, and have little to add about what you’ve already covered.

    Doc Robinson

    Ilargi wrote

    The only approach that makes any sense, is to use and consume vastly less ‘energy’. From a rational point of view, that would seem an easy thing to do: it should be possible to transport yourself at a higher efficiency rate than 0.5%. But at the same time, that’s not at all what we are doing. We, like all organisms, are obeying the Maximum Power Principle: we grab all the energy we can, and we use it in whatever way we can.

    Ilargi’s writings here can be a springboard for diving deeper and learning more. My comments include what I learned today, not quite an entrenched position. The baseline energy efficiency of the human body (along with the embodied energy content of food) seem relevant to the topics of waste and energy. The Model T and 2CV examples seem to illustrate the trend to “grab all the energy we can” instead of trying to “scarcely burn any gasoline”.


    We all know the answer for societies to lower energy consumption and as a result lower the waste.

    Lower reproduction reduces population reduces energy consumption reduces waste production.

    Its all about quid pro quo.

    Who should be first to start the process?
    Everyone says, not me. You go first. Lets set up a committee to study the problem. etc.


    Even sane discussions on the topic seem fated to be smeared with nonsense.

    The will to power concept is not thermodynamic; it’s based ion thermodynamics.

    It is instead a concept to be understood via biological or cybernetic concepts held to tight philosophical rigor.

    Personally, I think the only way to commence a solution is through a buncha nuclear exchanges. Wasting a few zillion megawatts of unbridled energy blowing each other to kingdom come should teach us that expanding ever more energy in ever concentrated amounts in ever greater locales is hard to distinguish from an explosion.

    As for all this moving around: physical work is done in a specific locale and shouldn’t require megajoules just to deliver tomatoes to the local market. Not to mention that we allegedly live in an Information Economy which, while surely not immune from the laws of thermodynamics, would surely burn less energy if we bothered to consume useful information rather than information that is not only ENTIRELY WASTEFUL (TV, cinema, for example) but designed and employed to encourafge ever more wasteful energy.

    We are not going to have a soft landing. Not sure we
    ll even make it to the ground before we crash.

    The writing is densely academic but the writer is a genius, so the difficult passages are worth it, and many passages are not difficult but, rather, delightful. You know those academics. Anyway, folks who regular the conviviance that is AutoEarth can know whether they want to struggle with this worthy tome by their feelings about this paragraph from the book’s intro:

    “”Finally, it will have to be shown how the delayed failure of the European dream of universal monarchy supplied the driving forces for the terrestrial globalization process, in whose course the scattered cultures on the last orb will be drawn together into an
    ecological stress commune.”

    I swear, Dr. D, if you turn Ecological Stress Commune into a lazy acronym, I will frown. I will.

    (caustically sarcastic William Shakespeare voice): ‘O brave new world…’



    What we need to do is to shift the Overton window among the mainstream discussions. I just created a WordPress account and posted my first blog at My argument is from a Progressive viewpoint, but it is obviously inspired by many including you.

    Best wishes

    PS: This is my first comment here although I have been lurking here for quite some time.

    Maxwell Quest

    Another thought about the current energy use/waste paradigm…

    The greatest power on earth currently rests in the hands of the global banking cartel, which is currently in the process of subduing all non-absorbed nations by any means necessary. A vast river of wealth and power flows upward toward them each and every day, sucked from nations (governments) that have fallen under their control. They designed the monetary system in which we currently live out our lives: neoliberal capitalism. Below them sit the multi-national corporations, beholden to the banks, loyal only to themselves, and just as eager to monopolize their respective domains.

    Why would these people have any interest in doing anything which might slow down the operation of the great wealth extraction machine that they’ve created, when every policy has been designed to strengthen, legally harden, and accelerate it? To them, “higher efficiency” is only important if it benefits the operation of the machine.

    We might get an opportunity to try some of your ideas once the machine seizes up, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. It would require a global shift in consciousness, and the complete and utter destruction of the debt-based monetary machine.

    I wonder what would happen if we all planted gardens and didn’t show up for work in the morning?


    Well, we know that the energy animals need to acquire to live is derived from a food chain that goes all the way back to plants and photo synthesis, so even plants need the sun’s external energy.

    All our evolutionary and social transit has been a scramble to maximise energy for ourselves as individuals, then on through our DNA relatives, as per Dawkins ‘The Selfish Gene’.

    Along the way fire and cooked food took as past the point where we no longer have the ability to chew or digest what we once did and then coal and oil etc put us on a parabolic trajectory of unsustainablity.

    And it’s not just energy is it, we can’t live in our own waste products be they carbon dioxide or plastic, regardless of rate of depletion of soil water minerals insects plants and fish.

    Too. Many. People.

    So what’s the endgame? As if I ever needed to ask. The Automatic Earth and others spelled it out long ago. Yeast in a sugar solution and the reindeers of St. Matthew Island.

    The only excitingly unknown bits are how we get there and how long it takes, whether via the seemingly irreversible catabolic collapse of Mr Greer or the 5 stop escalator of Mr Orlov. At least his escalator was capable of stopping at any given floor and going back up.

    What are the chances of that I wonder? My guess is somewhere between Buckley’s and 30:30,:30 where one of the 30s represents a deliverance by God, another a deliverance by benign interstellar beings and the last 30 by a change of mind of the big kid who’s computer game we live in.


    Well I have an electric car and I am very very happy with it especially as here in New Zealand our electricity is from hydro dams.

    V. Arnold

    Well I have an electric car and I am very very happy with it especially as here in New Zealand our electricity is from hydro dams.

    Unfortunately, there is no free lunch…

    Ivan Shishkin Midday. Near Moscow 1869
    Now that is an amazing piece of art; spectacular no less…

    John Day

    H Ilargi,

    I didn’t mean to dis you, but what you said is what I say and we’ve been saying it for years, as has Stoeleigh, Gail-the-Actuary Tverberg, Ugo Bardi and so on.
    I just took it as a starting place for discussion today. It’s like my discussion most days.
    e are at a cusp for our species. We can become stewards of life on earth, or keep burning things up into a brick-wall crises of thermal-death, as energy disapears and toxic waste chokes us all.
    We will have to take sociopaths out of power. I’m ready to bell that cat.
    Who’s up to help me?


    It’ll need to be a bunch of us, and some of us will get killed…



    I wonder what would happen if we all planted gardens and didn’t show up for work in the morning?

    Well, many of us are too decrepit to plant gardens and many of us already for a variety of reasons don’t show up for work in the morning. An interesting flexing of muscles by the 99+% (of those whose daily efforts keep the economy going) would be for them to slowly load up on cash and then en masse not pay their credit card and other bills for, let’s say, three months and not show up for work. In a Mammonist world, you need to speak to the folks who know best in a language they understand. FASAB56, a secretive financial “cloud”, and central banks, including BIS, scheming to make all legitimate money crypto-digitalized is going to render all of us disempowered. On our current trajectory, future financial and depopulation and/or AI-robotization Armageddons are in the cards anyway. And it would give us some advantage to control the timing. “Mr. Global” and his minions don’t give a hoot about destroying the living planet if they can’t get their way…a totally dehumanized planet populated with alchemical hybrids who claim God-like status. These “people” are SICK. Better to go out with a battle charge for ethics and goodness and civilization/culture than a whimper in a slow motion Zioglobalist execution chamber.


    “We will have to take sociopaths out of power. I’m ready to bell that cat.
    Who’s up to help me?


    It’ll need to be a bunch of us, and some of us will get killed…


    Your applicants will likely be more sociopathic than not. Normal people don’t want to save the world any more than they want to own it. It is wanting to own the world that damages the world so badly it needs saving.

    Also, sociopaths are in power for the same reason Trump is in power: our systems are designed by sociopaths for sociopaths, with the rest of us willingly doing the work.

    Here’s who will take our sociopaths out of power: foreign sociopaths. Our power grids will take hits here and there, agents provocateur will rouse our inflammable rabble, our currency will become vaporware… here’s who will take the power vacated by our ousted former sociopaths-in-charge: local sociopaths, more of the warlord variety.

    Here’s who will get by more than most: decent people who form their own local centers of power and don’t truncate their morals for ‘pragmatic’ reasons.

    I would study life in Libya for an instructive example laid out in plainly polarized terms..

    Learn how to be trustworthy and how to recognize and trust the same, a skill mostly replaced in our culture by the ability to count money, itself also a fading skill.


    I’m with Maxwell Quest. The banking cartels and the financial system need serious tanking for any meaningful turn around but I don’t see it happening yet. Look in my situation if I want to keep the lights on using little energy – I can make bees wax candles (and bee keeping is giving me the shits right now as it is time consuming). But who the fuck is gonna do that? The Europeans and Americans with their mass inject die-off? The Indians and the Chinese who are just swimming in their free time and wake up each morning with fresh wheatgrass juice shots and a meet with their personal trainers? Nah – we are screwed until a few very unpleasant outbreaks of whatever (omni-violence, genetic weirdness, AI gone bad, wars or maybe – just trending right now – the old climate emergency hashtag/unreliablefood thingy) sinnycool – you are spot on in my view.


    Ilargi, thank you for this and the explanation of the maximum power principle. I have read a lot on Degrowth, Steady State, and often puzzled why this type of shift was “unsellable”. Since the Rio Earth Summit, unsustainable production and consumption has been the elephant in the room, and still is. Look at the media promotion of this way of life it is unescapable and overpowering.
    For 40 years I lived in Australia with a “bolted on” car as my legs, there is no public transport to speak of.
    I had a consumption based footprint of 23 tons of carbon per year. In 2011 I moved to Barcelona and live here now. My carbon footprint is 8 tons and I have not driven a car for 8 years. I walk.
    It is nice to know I have reversed the MPP, but looking around I see no “trend” in this direction.
    The MPP explains some of the “inbuilt issues” degrowth has with the “individual”, how can you “socialise” a biological impulse? How can you “calm” an individual desire to make a squillion $?
    I find it difficult to “vision” a future so far from the limits I try to live by, we have come too far.
    Vaclav Smil points out eloquently what he sees when he looks at a wind turbine, 500 tons of steel, 500 tons of concrete etc etc. what better way to fly into catastrophe than a “green revolution”.
    I am a big fan of Adam Curtis, “HyperNormailsation” explains a lot


    “if by some miracle we…drastically reduce our energy consumption….we would leave a lot of oil, or other energy forms, available to for instance the Chinese, who could use it against us.”

    The above is nearly as succinct a summary of our predicament as it is possible to make. If we in the developed world reduce our use of fossil fuels, some other country or group of countries will eagerly step in to take up the slack. Only when the energy obtained from burning fossil fuels exceeds the energy used in retrieving them will humankind stop burning them. I have never heard a convincing argument contra this stance.

    Dr. D

    I think I was doing the right thing. The premise is basic, so how could we debate or discuss it? That as Lovelock would say, “Negentropy” of life aggregates energy to itself and disperses waste akin to the 3rd law? Given, so we move on to how our present system foolishly and inefficiently over-uses energy on nonsense, and like it or not, voluntarily or involuntarily, is going to stop.

    While everyone else is all for killing as many life units as possible, I don’t find that necessary as all humans could fit in an area as small as Texas, and with 18th c energy-usage would probably have 25x today’s energy to spare. So we can — and most probably will — start solutions to use less energy on the way down, as cars are too expensive, gas, and it’s too dangerous to commute very far. So there we are with the systems we already own, smaller, older, like the Model T, which can be machined into being with the tools left dusty in every auto shop in this dusty, decrepit country. Or with street trolleys as auto parts go missing when China shuts us off. Or with scooters, which are by far small and humble enough to use when most things are down, in cities like Thessaloniki, but not hipster Manhattan, but going back to your unheated apartment with a tin-can alcohol stove, or a 30-year old trailer in St. Augustine, near the last operational nuke plant in Florida.

    That is to say, the universe is this way. We have the 3rd law of thermodynamics. We have the principles of life. Always has been and nobody complained too much, we all got by as we get by now. And so we will in the future as well. The real trouble of talking about it, of being positive, is that solutions are microscopic, so individual to one time and place and person that explaining how to get a tree planted here, by my town council, what kinds will grow, what diseases, what purchasing process, what vendor, what lifespan, is wholly inapplicable to an area 5 miles away, to say nothing of a province or parish halfway around the world. It has to do with your family, your finances, your connections, your expertise. Should you plant a walnut orchard or start a Model T factory? Or a banana orchard and a dugout factory? This I can’t say, which is why I don’t, although I’m looking for some kind of doorway there. Many blogs, youtube channels do this for your area, wherever you are. Instead of Greta’s useless complaints, you can see Bjorn Bull-Hansen or TA Outdoors or Swedish Homestead work solutions all day long. But those will be useless even across the water in Scotland or Denmark, much less New Hampshire.

    But because of the nature of our problem it will solve itself as it’s always done before. Yes, war perhaps, probably even, but certainly a lock-up of the financial system that greases the over-consumption and makes it possible. And with that, the halt of transport, which will halt not only goods but fossil fuel itself from refineries and pipelines. That may not happen fast and evenly, so the system will build a patchwork replacement and we roll on in a different way. Ever on. Did we think 20 years ago the crash that should have fallen in 1994 but for Greenspan’s printing would be pushed past 1999 out to 2020? No, but systems have a way of doing this. Rome never “fell”. It rotated. The Vandals didn’t “sack” Rome, Rome was so corrupt the people let them in as a better government. So it never fell, it became less Roman until it was feudal, then European, then at long last not like the ancient world at all, having only the same banners and symbols and architecture today. Then Feudalism never “fell”, it rotated war by war, place by place into non-feudalism into modernism today. Just so we will not “fall” but rotate out of hyper-energy frenetic modernism and into something else, crash by crash, place by place. So none of us can predict it but can know it happens.

    The Thermodynamic and DNA realities will continue to be true, and yet it will all be different. But slowly, very slowly, in a world more local, with much less energy, that none of us can foresee, and no one will live long enough to see where it goes.


    ” …. the system will build a patchwork replacement ….”

    The premise is basic, so how could we debate or discuss it?

    I think that every comment was appropriate and applicable to some condition.
    There will not be one solution for all conditions.

    We were lucky. We lived in the best of time.

    Charles Alban

    Amish. just learn to live like the Amish then all problems are solved. Industrialization was a mistake. it never made anyone happy and it’s just trashing us and the planet. i propose that training camps be established with Amish instructors to teach others how to live this way. there are 300,000 Amish presently and they double every 20 years. this also solves the problem of the catastrophic decline in the white birthrate, since Amish have up to ten children per family.


    Hi Illargi,

    Not posted here for years. However as regards your notion that what you say does not have any weight, I disagree. I think you have far far more weight than you might think. So I for one take it seriously when you post certain stuff that is ‘off key’ in my judgement. For instance your assumption that ‘nuclear energy’ is inherently unclean is disingenuous. Yes the current scam of using bomb making factories for electrical power production is nuts, I agree. However, done properly with the right approach, nuclear power from fission represents a very useful source for possible 100’s of years to come. Unfortunately it is on the level of ‘rocket science’, and as the understanding of burning radio-isotopes safely is still being researched, there is a lot of polishing of the techniques to be done. I was going to use technological advances like comparing the Ford model ‘T’ to the refinement of a modern sports car such as the Bugatti Veyron – then realised its insanity writ large and a perfect example of the problem of what’s wrong with the entire human species in my judgement! Ok bad example, – perhaps I’d use the sopwith camel compared to a modern jet liner, but again I meet with human stupid full frontal, as in Boeing Boeing Gone!. Perhaps a 1950s IBM mainframe computer compare to a palm top device such as a Samsung Galaxy…

    However as regards the safe burning of radioactive isotopes, the Russians are doing just that:

    I posted this a while back at Orlov’s site, which is where I go the link from:

    — Quote – Thread start: —
    “Pamela Storer said…

    Apropos the topic, and Russian Nuclear Energy, this has just turned up on YouTube.
    People might be interested to see the strides ahead in this field Russia has made – far in advance of anywhere else I think.

    Sunday, June 16, 2019 at 11:24:00 AM EDT

    My Reply:
    @ Pamela Storer,

    Thanks for the link. Wot, no touch screens wifi or blue tooth?! LOL. No seriously interesting video about using ANY hot isotopes to produce heat and hence generating potential. Personally I think there is a very bad karmic load on those who ‘weaponised’ nuclear energy – I gave up a potential career in physics as I wanted nothing to do with it (oh yes the MIC is NOT a conspiracy). My only addition would be to say that some of the thorium experimentation was along similar lines, and of course once one masters the engineering finesse to burn any heavy element safely without the emphasis on producing fissile material for bomb making, oops sorry generating power, their energy future is all but secured, barring any ‘first strike’ of course, which Russia has cleverly negated with its new (very) tactical highly targetted low yield system Dmitri commented on a while back.
    The UKs first ever nuclear power generator next to Calder hall had been developed, not as many think to generate power, but to ‘dump’ the excess heat from the nuclear reaction processes being used to produce fissile material for bombs, something the British governments was obsessed with at the time, and did not care very much how they obtained it. The fire at the UKs earlier bomb making factory at Calderhead, the old ‘carbon’ reactor, came after the new reactor had been switch on, but so desperate were they for fissile material, they carried on using it. It was ironic that when Chernobyl went up, TPTB suddenly discovered heavy contamination in Wales, and a ban on eating welsh lamb went into immediate effect, and was still current some 30 years later. Only the isotope profile was not just from Chernobyl… there had been many more leaks and f*ck ups prior to the grand finale fire of 1957. Nowadays, Sellafield as its been renamed (yeah, rebranding – the solution to radioactive contamination) is apparently the warehouse for half the worlds weapons grade plutonium:
    Yeah not the most reliable source, but hey…
    Oh and for those who didn’t get the touchscreen/wifi joke, solid engineering in critical applications is all about making something work under arduous conditions, not how pretty or bling it looks. I hope they stick with this idea and don’t go down the ‘fly by wire’ nightmare to gain foreign sales through ‘user friendliness’ etc. Just ask Boing… er actually no don’t.

    Until the nuclear narrative in a society is cleansed of the horror and trauma of nuclear war no sense will ever see the light of day.

    Best Wishes,
    Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 8:00:00 AM EDT ”

    —End Quote—


    “Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed.”

    ― Albert Einstein

    Nuff said,

    Dr. D

    Amish shock troops boot camp?

    Maybe we’ll be there whether we want to or not.


    You throw around this .5% efficiency number like it has some special meaning in summing up the stupidity of the human species. Like the species had a choice and just made the wrong one. I don’t understand what to think about this number. Should I be proud that my species was able to conceive and create such a contraption or should I somehow be ashamed of this accomplishment?
    Before cars people rode horses and a horse had to be raised, fed and attended to while it grew into something useful to man. Now a man uses it to ride to town. Should I calculate the efficiency number of this horse technology and if I do, what does it mean? Was the development of horse and buggy technology an earlier bad choice made by my species?
    Humans are natural being. We have evolved from smaller brained beings that don’t have the intellectual reasoning capacity to care about things like energy, waste and resource limitations. At our core we are still driven by nature and just like nature drives bacteria in a petri dish to multiply and expand until they run out of resources, humans are the same. This is what we do. This is what nature drives us to do. Any intellectual attempts to control or reverse these natural tendencies is doomed to failure. It’s not natural. Humans will continue to use our position at the top of the natural order to control and utilize all the resources available to us. We will fix the problems that we create when they absolutely have to be fixed. And when we run out of resources then, like the bacteria in the petri dish, we will collapse and die or we will use our technology to expand outside of earth proper and find more resources to utilize. It’s what we do.


    Hello, Ilargi. First time commenter here. I get your frustration as I’ve experienced it many times myself when attempting to convey the centrality of the MPP. Methinks the deterministic nature of the MPP triggers the defensive cognitive biases to fire off, including changing the subject. This, in my experience, is standard in almost all the humans anytime they are presented with evidence they are not in control. Normal human reaction & not a knock on anyone’s intellect.

    Here is extra material for anyone interested in exploring the matter further.

    The purpose of life is to disperse energy

    “The truly dangerous ideas in science tend to be those that threaten the collective ego of humanity and knock us further off our pedestal of centrality. The Copernican Revolution abruptly dislodged humans from the center of the universe. The Darwinian Revolution yanked Homo sapiens from the pinnacle of life. Today another menacing revolution sits at the horizon of knowledge, patiently awaiting broad realization by the same egotistical species.

    The dangerous idea is this: the purpose of life is to disperse energy.”

    The Natural Science Underlying Big History

    “Human beings and our cultural inventions are not special, unique, or apart from Nature; rather, we are an integral part of a universal evolutionary process connecting all such complex systems throughout space and time. Such evolution writ large has significant potential to unify the natural sciences into a holistic understanding of who we are and whence we came. No new science (beyond frontier, nonequilibrium thermodynamics) is needed to describe cosmic evolution’s major milestones at a deep and empirical level. Quantitative models and experimental tests imply that a remarkable simplicity underlies the emergence and growth of complexity for a wide spectrum of known and diverse systems. Energy is a principal facilitator of the rising complexity of ordered systems within the expanding Universe; energy flows are as central to life and society as they are to stars and galaxies. In particular, energy rate density—contrasting with information content or entropy production—is an objective metric suitable to gauge relative degrees of complexity among a hierarchy of widely assorted systems observed throughout the material Universe. Operationally, those systems capable of utilizing optimum amounts of energy tend to survive, and those that cannot are nonrandomly eliminated.”


    To sum it up, the only way man seems to be able to absorb any prudent, though “unsavory” message is, through the assistance of a 2×4 upside the head,,,,ala, something along the lines of a scenario laid out in Kuntslers work “World Made by Hand.”

    Certainly, as a cure for whatever ails, granting consensus to “Authority” to “fix it” isn’t a panacea at all. 😉


    I totally agree with you. Cars really are one of the main problems in pollution. I am not just talking about the use of oil and gas sources. I am referring to the pollution of cities, but not even the exhaust fumes. The uglification of cities with cars and endless roads and car parks is what I’m talking about. I think it’s time for people to switch from cars to bicycles or at least electric scooters and develop public transport. I stopped using my car a long time ago and have now mainly switched to an electric scooter. Even at home, I use green electricity, which I learned about at

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