Summing It All Up...

Tyler Durden's picture

Excerpted from "Ignorance by Consensus" posted by at FEASTA,

But, very briefly and acknowledging some contention, the conditions for concern might be summarized as follows.


We are trying to comprehend our world within the world-views and economic orthodoxies developed over an extra-ordinary, two-hundred year period of compound economic growth. This growth was coincident with increasing wealth, complexity and globalized integration. Part of our dominant consensus is that this trend will continue. Much of what is important to us, how we live, our expectations, what we value and hold dear, was shaped by this process. And we, the global 10%, have done well out of it.


The fringe view is that this growth is over – we are at the limits to growth, now. At issue is the stability of the globalized economy. We are moving into a deepening global deflationary depression, interspersed with dangerous and possibly irreversible shocks to the systems that support our basic welfare. We will lose much of what we take for granted and things we have come to call our own. We are entering an era of real danger and unpredictability.


This is because we are at an historic point of convergence. Firstly, we have reached the limit in the credit backing of our financial, monetary and banking system. We are at the same time hitting profoundly destabilizing ecological limits preeminent at this time is that we are almost certainly at the peak of global oil and food production. Put another way, we are at the limits of the system of trust and solvency that underpins the trade upon which we depend. We are at the limits of the least substitutable energy source that, by the laws of physics, is necessary for economic maintenance and growth. We are at the limits of our most fundamental human sustenance. They are the three most critical structural pillars of the globalized economy. Like a three-legged stool, the whole system can become destabilized by the buckling of just one.


In addition, and almost completely unacknowledged is that the changing nature of the globalized economy – increasing integration, complexity, speed and inter-dependence – has made us very much more vulnerable to this convergence. Further, such complexity makes it very difficult, or even dangerous to try and ‘fix’ its parts.


If we were to acknowledge such a fringe view we would be urgently preparing for profound change – for when real change is forced upon us we may have much less room for manoeuvre. We would be embracing austerity because of its inevitability, and in doing so, transform it. From top to bottom, we would be working on our food security, the resilience of critical services such as sanitation, monetary systems, governance, and re-working work. We would have begun the personal and collective psychological processes that might allow us avoid some of our species most destructive passions that can emerge in a time of crisis, and instead use it as a source of creative and positive change.


Of course, no detailed explanation for such a fringe view has been provided here. For most though, none is needed. They already know this view is nonsense. Why worry, it’s a fringe view… why with shale gas, technology, markets, stopping austerity, green growth, changing the monetary system, getting rid of the ‘wrong’ people….so many options! Anyway haven’t people been saying such stuff since the time of Malthus, and they’re still wrong! Aren’t the experts in control?! But an economist said…! Quite….quite.

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akak's picture

Actually, the earth is almost certainly already overpopulated today in any long-term sense, as the world's available cropland and topsoil, which are being degraded and lost due to monoculture and the lack of fallow-period regeneration (not to mention "development" such as the spread of urban areas), will simply not be able to sustain even current production levels for much longer, much less the 20-40% greater yields that will be demanded in 20 or 30 years at current population growth levels.  And this does not even take into account the rising cost (quite a bit above "inflation") of fertilizers, or the rising cost of the petroleum which fuels modern industrial agriculture.

Overpopulation is not about having enough space for people, it is about sustainability, and most particularly about food production.  The Mayans and Easter Islanders learned that lesson to their own great detriment.

Yen Cross's picture

 I'm busy AKAK. The people need the "real figures".   U- get it!

samsara's picture

The yeast will say that "The dish is only half full" with one minute till noon, Not caring that they double every minute. The are programmed not to see it coming.

oddjob's picture

When so few consume so much and so many go without 'sustainability' is merely lunch talk between overfed academics.

Michelle's picture

Millions upon millions of latent BLM land that may eventually be sold off to the private sector to help pay off the debt. Those private landowners won't be sitting on it as the government does, I assure you.

SheepDog-One's picture

The Doors, 'Strange Days'

Yen Cross's picture

 Cramers , "Bull Shit Fund" is melting. Bill Gates can't stand Cramer!

   FUCK YOU, gently...    Jimmy Cramer<

knukles's picture

I can't stand bill Gates, so where's that leave me?

Yen Cross's picture

Don't worry Knuckles, Your EGO is intact! ;-)

Implicit simplicit's picture

Used to  use that stool and see clearly out the window standing tall,

but now we're hanging from the window sill just trying not to fall.

Yen Cross's picture

 I just bought some Micro Soft. Cramer is buying Boeing? Their orders are all ready in? The stock is priced in already.

  Cramer you are a "Shrinkie Dink"!

   Jimmy) 787 delivery is barely schedule, 747-8 is on schedule?

' Total delivery stable price is "still under budget after lease contracts'

jonjon831983's picture

Apparently, this woman was passionate about the US's chances post-election: "AZ woman runs over husband for not voting; 911 call released"

DeficitAlchemist's picture

We are at limits of the financial and debt ponzi system... that doesn't automatically translate to limit of food production, limit on energy and everything else limit up.. sensationalist prose..


Solar has long way to go, as will tidal for energy.. today in UK, all talk is how US will become exporter of Gas and oil in the mid 2025's.


Technology will increase density of harvests as and when we seem we have no way out..


All a bit too 'no hop we all gonna die' all from a major financial reset and related social turmoil which like all things will eventual pass.. till the next time some 60 years later in the supercycle when the next generation of fools must learn the same lesson..

For us fringe media early(late?) visionaries of the wave due to swamp us, we are only undermined by wholeslae mutitude calamity doom mongering.. have we run out of clear air and cockroaches in time for the nuclear detonations all whist the financial system fails..


The latter will be crap enough not to warrant the co-ordinated calamities  both natural and otherwise all coinciding with 'reset' away from fantasy economics.. credibility detsroying doom mongering on too many fronts for me..

Seer's picture


"Technology will increase density of harvests as and when we seem we have no way out.."

No, you're going to die.  Sorry.  But it was a great story :-)  P.S. reversion to the mean.


Oldwood's picture

THE END IS NEAR.  Where did i put my sandwich boards?

Seer's picture

The Beginning is Near!

willwork4food's picture

I'll bet you're one of those half full, not half empty kinda people, right?

are we there yet's picture

When I fly over the US only a small part of the land is cultivated.  I do not see peak food production.

Michelle's picture

You would be correct in that assessment, we can grow a hell of a lot more food.

Seer's picture

When I chew bubble gum there's LOTS of oil!

Are you saying that you only SEE a small part?  I guess I'd have to ask what altitude you're flying and over what area in order to determine what you COULD physically be able to see.  Anyway...

Most food is the result of mechanization, which requires LOTS of energy.

And keep in mind that nature rebuilds soil VERY slowly.

You won't know "peak" until several years go by, until you've been able to chart the trend/numbers.

The collapse of many civilizations caught most people off guard.  I suspect that they didn't understand the exponential function just as we don't.

From Chris Martenson's Crash Course (

The purpose of this mini-presentation is to help you understand the power of compounding. If something, such as a population, oil demand, a money supply, or anything, steadily increases in size in some proportion to its current size, and you graph it over time, the graph will look like a hockey stick.

Said more simply, if something is increasing over time on a percentage basis, it is growing exponentially.

Using an example drawn from a magnificent paper by Dr. Albert Bartlett, let me illustrate the power of compounding for you.

Suppose I had a magic eye dropper and I placed a single drop of water in the middle of your left hand. The magic part is that this drop of water is going to double in size every minute.

At first nothing seems to be happening, but by the end of a minute, that tiny drop is now the size of two tiny drops.

After another minute, you now have a little pool of water that is slightly smaller in diameter than a dime sitting in your hand.

After six minutes, you have a blob of water that would fill a thimble.

Now suppose we take our magic eye dropper to Fenway Park, and, right at 12:00 p.m. in the afternoon, we place a magic drop way down there on the pitcher’s mound.

To make this really interesting, suppose that the park is watertight and that you are handcuffed to one of the very highest bleacher seats.

My question to you is, “How long do you have to escape from the handcuffs?” When would it be completely filled? In days? Weeks? Months? Years? How long would that take?

I’ll give you a few seconds to think about it.

The answer is, you have until 12:49 on that same day to figure out how you are going to get out of those handcuffs. In less than 50 minutes, our modest little drop of water has managed to completely fill Fenway Park.

Now let me ask you this – at what time of the day would Fenway Park still be 93% empty space, and how many of you would realize the severity of your predicament?

Any guesses? The answer is 12:45. If you were squirming in your bleacher seat waiting for help to arrive, by the time the field is covered with less than 5 feet of water, you would now have less than 4 minutes left to get free.

And that, right there, illustrates one of the key features of compound growth…the one thing I want you take away from all this. With exponential functions, the action really only heats up in the last few moments.

We sat in our seats for 45 minutes and nothing much seemed to be happening, and then in four minutes – bang! – the whole place was full.

Notarocketscientist's picture

Ya there are millions of acres of fertile land laying idle becasue?


The difference between humans and donkeys is the ability to reason....  It would appear that donkeys can type

Tango in the Blight's picture

I wish I'd been a babyboomer then I would have lived a full life which one way or the other would have ended soon. As a Gen-Xer my life will likely be cut short half way. The younger generations will probably not outlive their youth. Damn why do things go this way?

TrustWho's picture

When I was younger, I hunted with a Daniel Boone like friend of the family that was a little younger than my father. He had beagle dogs that ran rabbits. The rabbit population went through 2 population cycles. The baby rabbits born as the predator populations (foxes, hawks...) were falling at the depths of the rabbit population had a good life. The baby rabbits born at the peak population levels had a short and tough life.

Sanitation, food production, antibiotics and calorie burning gift of refined crude oil has allowed the human population to surpass the Malthusian ecosystem constraints beyound anyone's imagination. The logic of Malthus has never been refuted, except by idiots that assume resources are stupid economists. Who would have ever thought that little old humans could change the chemistry of the oceans with their activity? I am NOT a global warming nut, but I do understand the power of mother nature and the ecosystem rules. I do not know, but I can appreciate your concern that, like the rabbit born at peak population, your dice roll was lacking. Enjoy the sunsets my man!

Seer's picture

"Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children."  - George Bernard Shaw

Before you start getting despondent you might consider that it COULD be worse:

I'm not thinking that this kid is going to get a shot at fuming in front of a computer.

Michelle's picture

BS, we are not at the peak of food and oil production, there is still a lot of oil and available ground that could be converted to ag use with irrigation.

Yen Cross's picture

 Michelle? Do you collect stained glass windows? 

  EONS ago, the priest/hood taught thier "unread" ,  [DISIPLES] on painted glass, eulogies...

Michelle's picture

Your point? If you mean I'm just simply stating something without showing how I know this than I'm only doing what all the other fear-mongerers do and I can play that game, too.

Fact: Millions of acres of BLM land could be sold and added to ag production

Fact: Alberta Bakken of  WESTERN Montana and Alberta, Canada with over 400 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil. This is in addition to all that has recently been found.

TrustWho's picture

Fact: Most land in BLM is poor quality land in western USA and significant percentage is used by livestock operations for forage.

Fact: Alberta Balkans consume a barrel of oil to produce 8-10; whereas the first oil in Middle East (or PA for that matter) consumed a barrel of oil to produce 200 barrels of oil. Once we reach 1:1, gane over. By the way, corn ethanol is abour about stupid activity.

Michelle, how old was Polly Anna when she died? You are correct that Polly lived a happy life as ignorance is bliss!

Michelle's picture

The Balkans are NOT in Alberta....why trust this IDIOT?

I think I'll trust my own knowledge on this one.

Notarocketscientist's picture

Did you take your idiot meds today?

Seer's picture

How old are you?

If you're younger then I say, YES!  Let's just fucking use it ALL up!  I'll race you!  Of course, it's highly unlikely that I'll be around when others suffer the consequences.

I hate all the skittles and unicorn people.  Never their feet touch the ground.  Not a fucking clue about what soil is.  Not a fucking clue about the FACT that it takes FAR more than just soil.  Here, google this: "Ogallala aquifer."  And know that there IS such a thing as "water wars."

Notarocketscientist's picture

You know you are fucking idiot right?

Seer's picture

"available ground that could be converted to ag use with irrigation."

Irrigation takes WATER (and not polluted water).

Irrigation takes POWER.  In California it constitutes roughly 20% of all California's electricity consumption and 30% of its NG consumption (excluding electricity production [from NG]).

Is that sandy soil?  If so, then be prepared to keep pouring water down a hole.

Maybe that soil is clay, no water loss here.  Problem, however, is that clay tends to limit available oxygen, tends to make it tough for roots to establish.

What's the pH of the soil?

Upper midwest isn't the breadbasket of the world for nothing.  And if there was anything even close to the fertile lands there it's already in production.  You just can't wave a wand have stuff grow if it's marginal soil to start with (which is the case for anything that's not already in production).

Oh!  And what's the temps like?  Enough warm days?  Sunshine?  Enough sunlight?

Can the necessary machinery be available?

How far to processing facilities?  Storage facilities?

If livestock (which a LOT of BLM land is already used for), then be prepared for very low stocking densities, likely coupled with a lot of long-distance hauling.

Yeah, if you throw enough energy and money at some land you can make it more productive.  Is it, however, cost effective?  You can bet that the selling prices will HAVE to be higher.  And the other squeeze point is consumers.  With more and more people losing income there's going to be more "victory gardens," which then reduces demand on any output from these BLM lands.

There's a reason why there are farm subsidies and only big players can really operate- FARMING FOR A LIVING IS EXTREMELY HARD* (and no, regular people wouldn't be getting access to any good lands)  * Some are doing OK with niche marketing, but this relies on wealthier customers (in general), and as the economic downturn continues this group isn't going to be growing.

Michelle's picture

There, you said it, the BIG PLAYERS...those commercial growers are successful for a reason and have the knowledge, expertise, and resources to turn marginal soil into farmable land.

Like I said, I know about these things.....

Notarocketscientist's picture

NO.  There is still oil but it is outrageously expensive to extract it.   We are quickly approaching the point where the amount of energy needed to extract and refine oil is = to the amount of energy realized from a barrel of oil.


The End Game is close - deep sea drilling and fracking and tar sands are HUGELY expensive and polluting.  You only resort to such measures when you are truly desperate

Yes_Questions's picture



We'll be Summing It All Up when we begin counting the ways we've implemented OUR way forward.


This starts with revoking the Deed TPTB have claimed on the planet.  

Fishhawk's picture

Errol, thanks for your thoughtful comment, and for an excellent example of your premise.  I used a bit of shorthand (hard to get a lot of complex points across in a short comment) in the statement that "Politics interferes with the needed adjustments, preventing us as a collective society from moving towards sustainable solutions."  Actually, politics is a cover devised by the elite to misdirect the frustrations of the disenfranchised when the elite enact their directed history.  The elite interfere with the needed adjustments, preferring to warp society until the fabric tears to maintain their privileged status.  They maintain the two party system to control the supply of available puppet candidates for the voters to choose from.  Thus I use the perjorative term 'politics' to subsume the entire paradigm of fraud being perpetrated by those who control the money.  But you are ultimately correct that the voters will continue to vote for the free lunch over those leaders who would actually try to solve the difficult problems the world is now facing.  Truth has never been in big demand. 


flacorps's picture

Malthus was nonsense then, and he's nonsense now. Same for Paul Erlich.

Humans solve problems at a slightly faster clip than they create them. Hence pessimism is attractive, but ultimately erroneous.

toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Americans solve problems at a slightly higher clip than ordinary humans. There, I fixed your post.

Seer's picture

"Malthus was nonsense then, and he's nonsense now. Same for Paul Erlich."

To you perhaps, to you...

Hey!  Let's test it all out.  Let's pile all of the humans on the planet into "flacorps'" house! (assuming his/her mother doesn't mind)

There are virtual realities and then there are physical realities.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's the physical realities that you should pay attention to.

BTW - Do you believe in compound interest?

doomerdoug's picture

The real issue is for the first time in decades the USA is going to have to finance current federal spending out of current tax revenues, including Social Security. The total federal budget is around 4 TRILLION. The total federal tax revenues is in the 2.5 TRILLION range. Obama has been borrowing 1.3 trillion a year to make up the difference, as well as having Braying Bernie print fiat federal reserve notes.

The logical result of that will be the kind of austerity budgets in Greece et al. These austerity budgets will be imposed by Obama on his obamabot supporters, with the result the obamabots will turn on their junior messiah.

The debt is unpayable. The illusion it is payable has been the result of a carefully designed propaganda campaign going back decades. LTCM back in 1998 should have brought the system down. The system has been gamed repeatedly with the result it is now running out of options. The collapse will now be much worse than it would have been if the excess had been allowed to be purged.

THE DEBT IS UNPAYABLE AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS AND PERSONAL. This is the defining economic aspect of our age. 2013 will show what happens when mass debt meets reduced ability to pay that debt. The key to the ongoing survival of this system has been cash flow to maintain interest payments. This cash flow is now drying up at all levels of society. The abiity to roll over debt, without actually paying it off, is also a major reason the system has managed to outlast several crisis which "should have" taken the system down.

The current economic fraud of a system has had a pretty good run due to the US forcing everybody to buy and sell oil in fiat dollars. The run is now ending for a lot of reasons.

I am unsure at what point people will figure out the debt is unpayable. I am also unsure at what threshold attempts to impose austerity budgets to pay off the unpayable debt will trigger social unrest. What I am sure of is the system is now beyond reform, and further, it deserves to crash and burn.

Seer's picture

When "interest" on "money/currency" appeared it was all over.  Interest demands inflation, as there is NO way to account for interest otherwise.  All debts + interest could NEVER be repaid, not even the most thrifty of peoples could do it (unless, that is, none of them had any loans).

Fractional reserve banking just hyper-inflated the core flaw.

People starting to finally learn of the importance of understanding the exponential function?

zorba THE GREEK's picture

Summing it all up.... The future sucks and my girlfriend doesn't.

Flying Tiger Comics's picture

It's sort of interesting to compare the Georgia Guidestones blueprint, the Dolan breakaway civilisation stuff and this kind of economic forecast. They do fit together pretty well.


dognamedabu's picture

I knew it. We are fucked!

Sanksion's picture

I don't see the ecological apocalypse, the planet is fine. And I don't care about peak oil. Where was our peak coal?

Welcome in the future, once the Occident will have used all the available uranium, in order to impair the other civilisations in their ability to produce nuclear weapons ; we'll go forward thorium. Then what ? We'll have millions of years ahead to colonize and exploit space.

bunnyswanson's picture

As mountain glaciers shrink, large regions that rely on glacial runoff for water supply could experience severe shortages. The Quelccaya Ice Cap, the traditional water source for Lima, Peru, is now retreating by some 30 meters a year-up from only 3 meters a year before 1990-posing a threat to the city's 10 million residents. And in northern India, a region already facing severe water scarcity, an estimated 500 million people depend on the tributaries of the glacier-fed Indus and Ganges rivers for irrigation and drinking water. But as the Himalayas melt, these rivers are expected to initially swell and then fall to dangerously low levels, particularly in summer. (In 1999, the Indus reached record high levels because of glacial melt.)

This link is from US gov's EPA web site.


Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations will have many effects

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere will continue to increase unless the billions of tons of our annual emissions decrease substantially. Increased concentrations are expected to:

These changes will impact our food supply, water resources, infrastructure, ecosystems, and even our own health .

Searching for favorable temperate climates, conducive to producing crops and livestock and sufficient and reliable precipitation is why man has circled the globe over time. 

Sanksion's picture

The only effective greenhouse gas is water. Have you been near the equator? The atmosphere is full of water, you have a greenhouse effect, that is to say the temperature during the night is almost the same during the day (3°C of volatility).

When you move away from this equatorial climate, you do not have any greenhouse effect: as soon as the sun set, the temperature decrease by dozens of celcius. I live 48,5° north from the equator, there is any greenhouse effect. Stay one night outside, it might be 15°C during the day, you'll be dead frozen in the morning. That won't be the case if there was an effective greenhouse effect in those regions.

So, what the proportion of gas in our atmosphere? 80% azote, 20% oxygene, and rare gas... The CO2 is not even 0,04% of the volume, it is nothing, a fart in a stadium. And this fart doesn't come from industrial fart, but from volcanic eruptions. Whereas water can range from 0 to 4%. Guess which one has a real effect that you can feel.