Guest Post: Beyond The False Dawn: Global Crisis 2020-2022

Tyler Durden's picture

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
trav7777's picture

a watt is a unit of power...try to get the basic shit right or else don't talk in terms of science

abc123's picture

Hey trav7777

there's a conversion factor for watts to calories/sec

The conversion factor is 0.2386 so his use of "watts" is perfectly appropriate if you just convert the units. 


Zeno of Citium's picture

Nope, you're wrong ... calories/sec won't do you any good as you don't know the time factor. What matters is how much energy you use in a day, not an instantaneous throughput, or power (which might still be important).


People tend to forget to multiply watts by time (usually hours).

trav7777's picture

again, the watt is a measure of power, not of energy.  So is the calorie per second.  Conversion of one unit to another does not change what the units are measuring.

The US in 2010 generated 4T kWh.

abc123's picture

and yet, oddly enough, most people I meet exist in the time domain...

ergo work per unit time...


Enough of this!  I'm even boring myself to tears


trav7777's picture

yet oddly enough all power generation is measured in essentially joules, because instantaneous power is relatively useless.  Even a 1.21 gigawatt lightning bolt doesn't sustain it for very long.  Only long enough to launch one deLorean

New_Meat's picture

Trav, something as simple as the distinction that you are attempting to describe passes many.  I've seen this on other subjects as well.

Makes me wonder about the financial acumen around here, too.

But notice the underlying rationale, why, the Earth might not be able to 'sustain' even 300 MM humans.  Wonder how we get to that 'sustainable' level.

 - Ned

Diplodicus Rex's picture

It speaks to credibility. If you're going to post about energy consumption and then get the units wrong its going to send out a signal that you don't know what you're talking about.

In the field of engineering and in particular the lay-world the use of Watts to describe a rate and Watt-Hours to describe a quantity are unbelievably badly understood. The easiest way of thinking about it is to relate it to time, speed and distance, which most people can get their heads around.

Speed (equivalent to Watts) is the distance travelled per time period. i.e. 50mph.

Distance (equivalent to Watt-Hours) is the actual distance travelled i.e. 100miles.

Time (equivalent to Hours) is the time taken to travel the said distance ie Hours.

Therefore the statement in the article "2,000 watts a day" translated into Speed, Distance and Time is like saying " I travelled 50mph per day". You see, it makes no sense. If he had said "I travelled 50miles per day" that would have made perfect sense. Instead he got it wrong.

If I have one concession to make, that is that the electrical engineering fraternity did not help themselves by making the commonly used unit of energy (Watt-Hour or kWh) to be a rate times a time. As a comparison it would be like having the generally accepted unit of distance to be speed times time or " How far is it from A to B? Oh it's about 50mph for two and a half hours" instead of saying "125miles". They should have stuck to the Joule, J, kJ or MJ and saved a lot of trouble.

/pedant off

New_Meat's picture

Rex, good explanation, thanks.  RE: your concession, well, pesky history got there first ;-)

- Ned

MrSteve's picture

Guys, Guys, Guys! Slow way down: the Dude abides in horsepower and foot-candles; back down on all this here EURO-metric gibberish with unintelligible letter-codes like kJ, we don't parlez francaise/ espranto/ zydeco! Get the big pix: we're just hix from the stix. we know barrels of oil and tons of coal. Yor Newton-kilograms per sq. meter is pressing us real hard.

Backspin's picture

Way to go.  Seriously, not pedantic at all.  Hit the nail on the head, and it was a good explanation, too.

Modern Money Mechanics's picture

Power is measured in Watts (W)
Energy is measured in Joules (J)
1 Watt = 1 Joule / second

A human being at rest runs on 90 watts

Thus a human being at rest runs on 90 Joules/second.

Modern Money Mechanics's picture

Why are people confused?
Measured by:
Engineers -         2255  Watts 
Physicists -          2255  Joules/second 
“the French” -       194  MJ/day
Electricity people    54  kW-hr/day 
HVAC People -      184  kilo BTU/day 
Weight Watchers -   46  kilo(kilo)Calories/day
Mechanics -          143  Million foot-lbs per day
DOE -                 184  pico-quadrillion BTU’s/day
Gas station -        1.5 gallons of gas/day
Exxon -               4.3 kg of oil equivalent/day Exxon
Grandfather -         3  Horsepower 
Environmentalists -  5.4 Tonnes of CO2 per year 
World Planners -     0.76 (NEW WORLD) Tonnes of CO2 per year 
Chemists -             2.2 billion carbon atoms per nanosecond

Byte Me's picture

+1 trav

It's tiresome to see otherwise good theses shitted-up with the power/energy terminology snafu.

Sounds very Olduvai Cliff imho.

Not that I disagree...

Dyler Turden II Esq's picture

"It's tiresome to see otherwise good theses shitted-up with the power/energy terminology snafu."

What is tiresome is to see a lucid-enough exposition get raked over the coals endlessly over some pedantic technical point regarding a single trivial passage (in the context of the whole essay), when anyone with an above-room-temp I.Q. understands what the guy was talking about, for God(dess)' sake.

Please guys: get a fucking life.

covert's picture

this is bigger and simpler than it looks, the dark ages are coming upon us. it happens in cycles. the last time it happened, plato saw the end of the last dark age. it is believed to happen about every 80,000 years or so. for more details, read from Dr. William Coreless.


alter ego's picture


Hey, I think this is overly optimisitic.

Watch the news, the SHTF is already here.

Peak Oil, fiat currency, pyramid scheme

economy collapse, riots, rumors of war, solar

flares, etc, etc, etc.


For everyone, just prepare yourself a cup of tea,

seat and wait.

Lets reality make its work.


midtowng's picture

Gallup says 10% unemployment rate right now.

Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, hit 10.0% in mid-February -- up from 9.8% at the end of January.

The percentage of part-time workers who want full-time work worsened considerably in mid-February, increasing to 9.6% of the workforce from 9.1% in January.

Underemployment, in which Gallup combines part-time workers wanting full-time work with the U.S. unemployment rate, surged in mid-February to 19.6% -- mostly as a result of the sharp increase in those working part time but wanting full-time work. Underemployment now stands at basically the same place as it did a year ago (19.8%).

Pegasus Muse's picture

John Williams has true unemployment around 23%.  SGS-Alternate:

Shell Game's picture

employment search exhaustion is a bitch..

AcidRastaHead's picture

Trying to figure out all these unemployment figures is more difficult than finding a job.

Backspin's picture

I appreciate JW and his work.  Still, I try to compare all the things I read to what I actually see around me.  23% sounds too high.  That's nearly 1 in 4.  And out of all the people I know, there are certainly many out of work or underemployed, but it's not 1 in 4.

Not that it's a great job market out there or anything - just trying to reconcile what I read with what I see.

Gully Foyle's picture

alter ego

This never gets mentioned. Even though it is arguably more important than all others trends combined.

It's true that the world's population overall will increase by roughly one-third over the next 40 years, from 6.9 to 9.1 billion, according to the U.N. Population Division. But this will be a very different kind of population growth than ever before -- driven not by birth rates, which have plummeted around the world, but primarily by an increase in the number of elderly people. Indeed, the global population of children under 5 is expected to fall by 49 million as of midcentury, while the number of people over 60 will grow by 1.2 billion.


Eventually, the last echoes of the global baby boomers will fade away. Then, because of the continuing fall in birth rates, humans will face the very real prospect that our numbers will fall as fast -- if not faster -- than the rate at which they once grew. Russia's population is already 7 million below what it was in 1991. As for Japan, one expert has calculated that the very last Japanese baby will be born in the year 2959, assuming the country's low fertility rate of 1.25 children per woman continues unchanged. Young Austrian women now tell pollsters their ideal family size is less than two children, enough to replace themselves but not their partners. Worldwide, there is a 50 percent chance that the population will be falling by 2070, according to a recent study published in Nature. By 2150, according to one U.N. projection, the global population could be half what it is today.


Today, however, we see that birth rates are dipping below replacement levels even in countries hardly known for luxury. Emerging first in Scandinavia in the 1970s, what the experts call "subreplacement fertility" quickly spread to the rest of Europe, Russia, most of Asia, much of South America, the Caribbean, Southern India, and even Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, Morocco, and Iran. Of the 59 countries now producing fewer children than needed to sustain their populations, 18 are characterized by the United Nations as "developing," i.e., not rich.

Indeed, most developing countries are experiencing population aging at unprecedented rates. Consider Iran. As recently as the late 1970s, the average Iranian woman had nearly seven children. Today, for reasons not well understood, she has just 1.74, far below the average 2.1 children needed to sustain a population over time. Accordingly, between 2010 and 2050, the share of Iran's population 60 and older is expected to increase from 7.1 to 28.1 percent. This is well above the share of 60-plus people found in Western Europe today and about the same percentage that is expected for most Northern European countries in 2050. But unlike Western Europe, Iran and many other developing regions experiencing the same hyper-aging -- from Cuba to Croatia, Lebanon to the Wallis and Futuna Islands -- will not necessarily have a chance to get rich before they get old.

One contributing factor is urbanization; more than half the world's population now lives in cities, where children are an expensive economic liability, not another pair of hands to till fields or care for livestock. Two other oft-cited reasons are expanded work opportunities for women and the increasing prevalence of pensions and other old-age financial support that doesn't depend on having large numbers of children to finance retirement.

Surprisingly, this graying of the world is not by any means the exclusive result of programs deliberately aimed at population control. For though there are countries such as India, which embraced population control even to the point of forced sterilization programs during the 1970s and saw dramatic reduction in birth rates, there are also counterexamples such as Brazil, where the government never promoted family planning and yet its birth rate went down even more. Why? In both countries and elsewhere, changing cultural norms appear to be the primary force driving down birth rates -- think TV, not government decrees. In Brazil, television was introduced sequentially province by province, and in each new region the boob tube reached, birth rates plummeted soon after. (Discuss among yourselves whether this was because of what's on Brazilian television -- mostly soap operas depicting rich people living the high life -- or simply because a television was now on at night in many more bedrooms.)


China, for now, continues to enjoy the economic benefits associated with the early phase of birth-rate decline, when a society has fewer children to support and more available female labor for the workforce. But with its stringent one-child policy and exceptionally low birth rate, China is rapidly evolving into what demographers call a "4-2-1" society, in which one child becomes responsible for supporting two parents and four grandparents.

Asia will also be plagued by a chronic shortage of women in the coming decades, which could leave the most populous region on Earth with the same skewed sex ratios as the early American West. Due to selective abortion, China has about 16 percent more boys than girls, which many predict will lead to instability as tens of millions of "unmarriageable" men find other outlets for their excess libido. India has nearly the same sex-ratio imbalance and also a substantial difference in birth rates between its southern (mostly Hindu) states and its northern (more heavily Muslim) states, which could contribute to ethnic tension.

No society has ever experienced the speed of population aging -- or the gender imbalance -- now seen throughout Asia. So we can't simply look to history to predict Asia's future. But we can say with confidence that no region on Earth is more demographically challenged.


For now. On its current course, the U.S. population of 310 million will continue to grow relative to that of the rest of the developed world, primarily because its birth rate, while barely at replacement level, is still higher than that of almost any other industrialized country. In purely geopolitical terms, this suggests American influence over Europe, Japan, South Korea, and other allies could grow. Yet the United States has no reason to be smug about its comparatively favorable demographics. As its allies age and even shrink in population, the United States could be forced to assume even more of the burden of policing the world's trouble spots. Like a person in middle age, the United States now has to worry not only about its own aging, but also about how to provide for other family members who are becoming too old to fend for themselves.

And age America will. The main reason for its comparative youthfulness so far has been immigration, both legal and illegal. But according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center, the number of illegal immigrants thought to be entering the United States has plunged to just 300,000 people annually -- down from 850,000 in the early 2000s. More than a million immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America have returned home in the last two years. These falling numbers are largely driven by the soaring U.S. unemployment rate, which has at least temporarily reduced the economic rewards of moving to El Norte, but they could herald a permanent shift.

Demographics explain why. Birth rates are falling dramatically across Latin America, especially in Mexico, suggesting a tidal shift in migration patterns. Consider what happened with Puerto Rico, where birth rates have also plunged: Immigration to the mainland United States has all but stopped despite an open border and the lure of a considerably higher standard of living on the continent. In the not-so-distant future, the United States may well find itself competing for immigrants rather than building walls to keep them out.


According to a recent Rand Corp. study published in Health Affairs, more than 40 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 already have difficulties performing ordinary activities of daily life, such as walking a quarter mile or climbing 10 steps without resting -- a substantial rise from just 10 years ago. Because of this declining physical fitness among the middle-aged, we can expect the next generation of senior citizens to be much more impaired than the current one.

It isn't just Americans. Obesity and sedentary lifestyles are spreading globally. Between 1995 and 2000, the number of obese adults increased worldwide from 200 million to 300 million -- with 115 million of these living in developing countries. From Chile to China, McDonald's and KFC are opening franchises every day, even as people everywhere spend more and more of their time in automobiles and in front of flat-screen TVs and computer monitors. More than a billion people worldwide are now estimated to be overweight, creating a global pandemic of chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes.





10kby2k's picture


Oh shit I shouldn't say this, but it appears the world will have to place a cap on age. Here in the US it would relieve the ss, medicare, pension problems.....there will be no retirement except by wealth. 

Whats a good number?    60? 65?

zot23's picture

Carousel demands 35, 40 as an upper limit.  You can always run if you prefer.


Or we could bring back Roman style games and televise them.  You have to fight a deathmatch every 5 years, fighting more than one in that timeframe earns you tax breaks and sexual slaves (people who defer their fighting can spend a cycle as a slave.)  I volunteer to take on Rush Limbaugh in my first match.  We should be able to get down to 3 billion or so people in say 25 years?

paleofartus's picture

Put out on the ice, old folks wouls feed large populations of polar bears would benefit, if there's any ice to put us out on. Danm conundrums.


Lord Koos's picture

What kind of faulty logic is that -- birth rate is responsible for population growth -- the boomers were already counted in.  Expectations are that we will hit around 6-7 billion and then it will fall.  Of course we've already used up most of the world's resources, so even with less people it's still not going to be pretty.

Azannoth's picture

I would like to have a hardened atomic fallout shelter ready till 2019

equity_momo's picture

Ive got news for this guy. He needs to adjust his cycle forward at least 5 years. If we make it through next year without a black and white swan taking a giant shit on everyone and everything i'll be impressed .

Kondratieff wave cycles suggests we are due to be shat all over anytime now. 

KickIce's picture

Agree, inflation line will be exponential and we will continue to be crippled by high unemployment.

Ragnarok's picture

We've got the 2012 election coming up, I put TSHTF in spring 2013.

falak pema's picture

how many watts to make love?

Sophist Economicus's picture

...let's not forget the economy version, masturbation

Mark Medinnus's picture

Shadowstats has a proprietary heuristic for computing over-50 watt/erections.

MrSteve's picture

All hospital gowns have this problem!

Windemup's picture

Depends on the manufacture of the model of vibrator.

topcallingtroll's picture

Apparently few here believe bennie can walk a tight rope, or drive
a p.o.s. car through an obstacle course.

10kby2k's picture

TV and survivor will

Huck T's picture

Spooky.  You work that Mayan deal in there somewhere and you could probably get on Coast-to-Coast. 

Thorny Xi's picture

Hey, cut Charles some slack.  Damn few people understand the difference between power and energy.  The 10,000 Watts should read Watt hours, for a daily total of 240 kW hours.  If you commute using 4 gallon of gas a day, that's more than half of that, right there.  20kW hours are requured to deliver your 2,000 calorie par day food supply.  33.3kW hours per average home in electricity alone, per day. We produce 100 Watts per hour while consuming 10,000 Watts per hour.  Enjoy that while it lasts...

New_Meat's picture

How's that work out in FRNs? ;-) - Ned

dumpster's picture

how many politicians to screw in a 75 watt bulb.

all of um.  they get the union to screw in the bulb ,  while they be screwing around in theback room


Oh regional Indian's picture

I think with the rate at which time is contracting, we'll be in 2020 sometime right around 2012, if you get my drift.

Notice how everything is literally, figuratively, speeding up? Or down?