Guest Post: The Really, Really Big Picture

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity,

[Many longtime followers of the Crash Course have asked Chris to update his forecasts for Peak Oil in light of the production increases in shale oil and gas over recent years. What started out as a modest effort at clarification morphed into a much more massive 3-report treatise as Chris sifted through mountains of new data that ultimately left him more convinced than ever we are facing a global net energy crisis despite misguided media efforts intended to convince us otherwise. His reports are being released in series over the next several weeks; the first installment is below.]

There has been a very strong and concerted public-relations effort to spin the recent shale energy plays of the U.S. as complete game-changers for the world energy outlook.  These efforts do not square up well with the data and are creating a vast misperception about the current risks and future opportunities among the general populace and energy organizations alike.  The world remains quite hopelessly addicted to petroleum, and the future will be shaped by scarcity – not abundance, as some have claimed.

This series of reports will assemble the relevant data into a simple and easy-to-understand story that has the appropriate context to provide a meaningful place to begin a conversation and make decisions.

Since completing the Crash Course in October of 2008, much has gone as I anticipated in the way of money printing, official neglect of the main predicaments we face, and generally higher petroleum costs (2012 was the record so far on a yearly basis).

What has not changed is the general trajectory of liquid fuels becoming increasingly expensive and more difficult to produce.  I know that this runs counter to virtually every news article that has come out recently.  It is time to separate the data and facts from the hype.  Much has recently been either muddied or presented so far out of context as to be more distortive than helpful.

This entire body of analysis is so large that it will be broken into three pieces. 

The first is a general world outlook for petroleum that presents the macro picture, provides some necessary clarifications on definitions, and illustrates that all of the data is consistent with the idea that the world is on a plateau of oil production.  Here we note that exactly zero of the major energy outlooks provided by the IEA, the EIA, PB, and especially the inexcusably sloppy piece put out under the auspices of Harvard (the Maugheri report of 2012) all failed to make any mention of the declining net energy provided by any of the new unconventional oil finds.  This is a crucial oversight.

The second report will focus on natural gas in the U.S., with a particular emphasis on shale gas, the supposed game-changer that we have read so much about.  There are some very important elements to this story, but the punch line is that there's nowhere near "100 years" of this magic fuel, it costs more to produce than it is being sold for at present here in early 2013, and – once we include the idea of future increases in consumption – there may only be in the vicinity of 20-30 years of proven and probable reserves. And that is if and only if prices rise by a factor of 2.5x or more from the current $3.30 per therm market price. 

The third will focus on tight oil, often called shale oil (not to be confused with oil shale, a very common mistake), and make the case that, while it may have some modifying effect to the Peak Oil story, it lacks the ability to return the world to anywhere near its prior glory years of ~2% per year growth in global oil output. 

The summary of all three reports leads to the conclusion that all efforts to cram the world full of fresh rounds of new debt lending are going to end in failure because the requisite net energy is simply not there to support continued debt accumulations running several-fold faster than actual economic productive output.

Enormous risks are continuing to build in the world's financial landscape, and the continued unwillingness to confront the truth about our global energy predicament is both puzzling and frightening. The conclusion is that our future resilience as individuals, corporations, or countries will hinge to a very large degree on whether or not we heed the warning signs and adapt our lives and habits to the actual circumstances.

The Really, Really Big Picture

The really big picture goes like this:  Humans discovered about 400 million years worth of stored sunlight in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas, and have developed technologies that will essentially see all of that treasure burned up in just 300 to 400 years. 

On the faulty assumption that fossil fuels will always be a resource we could draw upon, we fashioned economic, monetary, and other assorted belief systems based on permanent abundance, plus a species population on track to number around 9 billion souls by 2050.

There are two numbers to keep firmly in mind.  The first is 22, and the other is 10.  In the past 22 years, half of all of the oil ever burned has been burned.  Such is the nature of exponentially increasing demand.  And the oil burned in the last 22 years was the easy and cheap stuff discovered 30 to 40 years ago.  Which brings us to the number 10.  

In every calorie of food that comes to your table are hidden 10 calories of fossil fuels, making modern agriculture and food delivery the first type in history that consumes more energy than it delivers.  Someday fossil fuels will be all gone.  That day may be far off in the future, but preparing for that day could (and one could argue should) easily require every bit of time we have.

What galls me at this stage is that all of the pronouncements of additional oil being squeezed, fractured, and otherwise expensively coaxed out of the ground are being delivered with the message that there's so much available, there's nothing to worry about (at least, not yet.)  The message seems to be that we can just leave those challenges for future people, who we expect to be at least as clever as us, so they'll surely manage just fine.

Instead, the chart above illustrates that on a reasonably significant timeline, the age of fossil fuels will be intense and historically quite short.  The real question is not Will it run out? but Where would we like to be, and what should the future look like when it finally runs out?  The former question suggests that "maintain the status quo" is the correct response, while the latter question suggests that we had better be investing this once-in-a-species bequeathment very judiciously and wisely. 

Energy is vital to our economy and our easy, modern lives.  Without energy, there would be no economy.  The more expensive our energy is, the more of our economy is dedicated to getting energy instead of other pursuits and activities.  Among the various forms of energy, petroleum is the king of transportation fuels and is indispensible to our global economy and way of life.

To what do we owe the recent explosion in technology and living standards?  To me the answer is simple: energy. 


Because a very large proportion of our society was no longer tied up with the time-consuming tasks of growing their own food or building and heating their own shelter, they were free to do other very clever things, like devote their lives to advancing technology.  

When energy starts to get out of reach either economically or geologically, then people revert to more basic things, like trying to stay warm – such as this fellow:

Greeks Raid Forests in Search of Wood to Heat Homes

Jan 11, 2013

EGALEO, Greece—While patrolling on a recent cold night, environmentalist Grigoris Gourdomichalis caught a young man illegally chopping down a tree on public land in the mountains above Athens.

When confronted, the man broke down in tears, saying he was unemployed and needed the wood to warm the home he shares with his wife and four small children, because he could no longer afford heating oil.

"It was a tough choice, but I decided just to let him go" with the wood, said Mr. Gourdomichalis, head of the locally financed Environmental Association of Municipalities of Athens, which works to protect forests around Egaleo, a western suburb of the capital.

Tens of thousands of trees have disappeared from parks and woodlands this winter across Greece, authorities said, in a worsening problem that has had tragic consequences as the crisis-hit country's impoverished residents, too broke to pay for electricity or fuel, turn to fireplaces and wood stoves for heat.

I think it is safe to assume that all of the people in Greece who are chopping down trees to stay warm are not simultaneously working on the next generation of technology.  Energy first; everything else second.  In other words, our perceived wealth and well-being are both derivatives of energy. 

Like every other organism bestowed with abundant food – in this case, fossil fuels that we have converted into food, mobility, shelter, warmth, and a vast array of consumer goods – we first embarked on a remarkable path of exponential population growth.  Along with these assorted freedoms from securing the basics of living, we also fashioned monetary and economic systems that are fully dependent on perpetual exponential growth for their vitality and well-being.  These, too, owe their very sustenance to energy.

It bears repeating:  Not just energy is important here, but net energy.  It's the energy left over after we find and produce energy that is available for society to do all of its complicated and clever things.

Not only is the world struggling right now to increase global oil production, but all of the new and unconventional finds offer us dramatically less net energy to use as we wish. 

Where We Are, in Three Simple Charts

One narrative that is being heavily marketed right now is that the shale plays are true game-changers and there's really nothing to worry about for the foreseeable future.  Heck, the story says that the U.S. will soon exceed Saudi Arabia in oil production and become energy independent, that it has so much natural gas that it might as well build export terminals, and that there's 100 years of natural gas just waiting to be used.

Unfortunately, none of this is really true.  Here's how I can make the case for that assertion using just three charts. 

This first chart comes to us from the EIA courtesy of one Mr. Sweetnam, a former director at the EIA who was promptly reassigned to a distant position when his superiors discovered that this chart revealing declines in existing conventional oil fields had been released to the public.

What this graph shows is the projected decline of all known projects in 2009 (so this does not have the U.S. shale 'revolution' baked into it, but I'll get to that shortly), and it shows that those projects are going to slip from delivering 85 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil to just 45 million bpd between 2012 and 2030.  In other words, 40 million bpd will go missing.  But it's worse than that, because demand is expected to grow, leaving a gap of more than 60 million bpd by 2030.

If that sounds like a lot, it is, but that's just an assumed rate of production decline of 4.8% per year, which is right in the midzone of expert estimates.  Some estimate decline rates as high as 6.5%, which would really amplify the drop and the resulting gap.

The top line is showing how much oil demand would grow if it was going to expand at the usual historical rates.  The gap between those two modeled states is 43 million barrels.  To put that in a U.S. shale context, the EIA projects that the domestic shale plays might deliver as much as 3 million barrels per day by 2020, which is nothing to sneeze at, but even with that there's a projected 40 million bpd shortfall

The second chart I want you to look at is this one which shows total world crude oil production over the past 12 years:

Between 2004 and 2012, the total supply of global crude oil + condensates (a definition which excludes the non-transportation fuels known as natural gas plant liquids and biofuels) has just flopped around in a tight band with only 5% wiggle.

It bears noting here that the 2004 average spot price for crude oil (using the Brent contract, as that better defines the 'world oil' price) was $38.35/bbl, while the average 2012 spot price was $111.63, or 2.9 times higher than the 2004 price. 

Despite this near tripling in price, the global supply is just sitting there stuck on a plateau.  Economically speaking, this is not supposed to happen.  What is supposed to happen is that suppliers will react to these higher prices and deliver more to the market, and then prices will settle down.  But that hasn't happened, which indicates that global oil supplies are, as expected, constrained by something other than market forces.

This brings us to the third chart of global spending on oil projects:

What also happened during the time that global supplies of crude oil were undulating along that 5% plateau?  Global expenditures on oil projects jumped by 100% from $300 billion per year to $600 billion.  With a 100% increase in capital spending by the petroleum industry, we saw petroleum supplies remain more or less stuck in the exact same spot. 

I am of the impression that $600 billion a year is a lot of money and that the people dedicating that capital are applying it to the very best projects available.  I make the further assumption that when a project is identified and pursued, it is brought on line as rapidly as possible.  There are not that many ways to look at this data other than noting that we are spending more and more to get the same...for now.

If you want to know why oil costs over $110 on the world stage, the last two charts above give you the answer:  There's just not that much of it to go around.

Despite all of this effort and expense, the world is basically treading water with respect to overall production.  The reason for that is contained in the first chart out of these three:  The race is now on to bring new projects on line quickly enough to offset the losses from existing fields. 

Petroleum is neither a U.S. issue nor any other specific country's issue, but rather a global commodity of immense importance. While the development of the shale plays in the U.S. is of domestic importance, it has not altered the global dynamic of static oil production – at least not detectably in the global supply charts. Not yet.

Conclusion (to Part I)

In Part II: How Energy Woes Will Trigger Financial Crisis, we look at the latest global petroleum supply and demand data and see clearly that cheap oil has become extinct. That era is over for humankind. 

My prediction is that the underlying rates of depletion will continue to fight the recent production gains in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world until they soon come to a standstill, eventually swamping even heroic efforts. 

Steadily rising energy costs and decreasing net energy yields will simply not be able to fund the future economic growth and consumptive lifestyles that developed nations are depending on (and that developing nations are aspiring to). In fact, the persistent global economic weakness we've been experiencing over the past years is an expected symptom of the throttling constraint decreasing net energy places on growth.

If you care about the future of the economy, your standard of living (or that of your children), and/or your quality of life, you need to fully understand this relationship between growth and net energy. Your individual future (and our collective one) depends on it.

Click here to read Part II of this report (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access).

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CrashisOptimistic's picture

trav, don't know if you saw the news.

November Bakken report is out.  First production decline in 20 months.

Rollover.  Looked back recent previous shale hype years.  No November seasonal events.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Ahhh, the delta function, hedge accordingly.

Flakmeister's picture


Useless factoid, the derivative of the Heaviside step function gives you the delta function....

DCFusor's picture

Greened ya.  But I must say, having just come back from running an errand in my 100% solar energy charged Chevy Volt (I have personally been off the grid since 1979) - it's not hopeless, quite.

As far as I'm concerned, growth, if all it means is more useless eaters - isn't necessary a good thing, any more than all change is good.  We've just seen "hope and change" for example.

There are other ways than fossil fuels - the real problem is the human race is so stupid they don't change till after breaking their nose running into a wall, maybe more than once.  At least not most of us.

Hating on every possible alternative, as many here do, ain't helping, guys.

And when you have to lie and say a car that was first shown in '06 (bush) is the obamamobile - you've just lost and proved you are both uniformed and stupid - and pushing a completely other agenda.  Those of us with a brain just laugh at you.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

I'm gonna offer up a guess here that you live somewhere like San Diego or Flagstaff.  

Not ever do you 100% solar off the grid people live in Wisconsin, or Iowa or Ohio or Texas.  Meaning, your absurd little solar panels don't have to either heat or cool a house.  And you don't live anywhere that a horse drawn wagon can bring crops to you to eat, because Rufus, there ain't no solar powered food transport trucks AND THERE NEVER WILL BE. 

The N word.  Never.  That's what physics does at 745 watts per horsepower.  A truck needs 350+ horsepower to get up hills.  That truck solar panel would need the surface area of about 1 American football field.  For one truck.

EnslavethechildrenforBen's picture

Nobody with any fucking brains at all would live in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio or Texas.

Matt's picture

I thought DCFusor lives somewhere around the Appalachians, the video he posted looks more like that area than the desert.

Incorrect. The truck does not "need" 350+ horsepower to get up the hill; it only "needs" that power to get up the hill at 65 miles per hour. Also, I suspect more distribution will go back to water and train and away from trucks and airplanes.

And before you use the "N" word again, the Belgians already have trains running on solar:

CrashisOptimistic's picture

Look, pal, read your own damn links before you dare post them to rebut.


"The train ride from Paris to Amsterdam may not be the most scenic of European railway routes, but it's the only one capable of harnessing the awesome power of the Sun -- for two miles, at least. Yesterday, engineers in Belgium officially switched on Europe's first solar-powered train tunnel, spanning a 2.1-mile stretch of the rail line connecting the City of Lights to Mokum. The installation's 16,000 solar panels will be used to provide 50 percent of the energy needed to power nearby Antwerp Central Station and to provide extra juice for both high-speed and traditional trains. "

It doesn't power the train, not even for 2.1 miles.

An furthermore, Gertrude, if you don't go 65 miles per hour in a refrigerated truck, the food spoils enroute.

Read about "cattle cars" in the world before oil.  Before oil steers were shipped from Omaha to NYC LIVE.  They had to be alive or they would rot because you could not keep them cold in summer.  Coal/steam didn't have the power.  And btw, 60% of a live steer's mass is not edible.


Matt's picture

1) the Belgian train is a proof-of-concept, not an example of a totally solar-only system

2) Food will probably be transported shorter distances, and steaks will cost more. More Beef will be frozen rather than refrigerated. People will eat less meat. You cannot assume only one change.

thisandthat's picture

the Belgian train is a proof-of-nonconcept



smiler03's picture

 "An furthermore, Gertrude, if you don't go 65 miles per hour in a refrigerated truck, the food spoils enroute."


What a load of shite. In the UK almost all very large trucks distributing frozen and chilled foods are speed limited to 56mph or less. Not only that but the vast majority will fail to even average that speed, more like 40mph, and the food doesn't spoil.



thisandthat's picture

Yes, in fact 90 Km/h (56 mph) is the speed limit for trucks, in Europe, but then refrigerators are running most of the time, day or night, specially if it's frozen food  (-30ºC), not just refrigerated... and those run on fuel.

Cosimo de Medici's picture

West Virginia, IIRC.  Not exactly the Sunbelt.  Off the grid since '79 in WV has to tell you something, both in terms of innovation and application.  Toss in conservation for good measure.  The Kriegers and Brandon Smiths whose names appear in lights on this site are neophytes, dilettantes and mere poseurs in comparison.

I'm kind of a fanboi of DC Fusor;  the guy is on to something...maybe a lot of somethings, and not like the neo-Tesla Fanbois (mostly English majors and Communications majors) who run rampant on the interwebs.  Real stuff.  Scientific Method stuff.  Peer reviewed stuff.  Incremental and even quantum improvements on what is. 

Not everything comes from a Bell Lab or equivalent, even in this post-discovery world, though it's a damn sight harder to come up with something new in a converted old barn.  One still marvels at Faraday and Maxwell.

CrashisOptimistic's picture

A watt is a watt and a horsepower is 745 of them, whether you're in Bell labs or your garage.

I'll bet DC dood makes a weekly trip to Walmart, where he buys groceries that didn't appear on the shelf there via solar powered trucks, of which there are none.

BTW my recall is WVA is the home of some big Federal funded wind farms.

Cosimo de Medici's picture

I'll grant you the win if you're a strict constructionist when it comes to "off the grid", but in a relative sense.....

Plus, in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, we'll all make do with what is already out there, so in a sense everyone will start the race at the 20 meter mark.  Of course some will run backwards and others will never see the tape.

I have an eye for the science types around these parts (being personally entrenched in same), and I suspect you would find some common ground with DC Fusor.

trav777's picture

you drive a car manufactured in factories and charge it with solar panels built in factories and you call yourself OFF the grid?

You are more on the fkin grid than I am

Matt's picture

Off the Grid as in not connected to the power lines, not Off the Grid like Osama bin Laden's mountain caves.

steve from virginia's picture




you drive a car manufactured in factories and charge it with solar panels built in factories and you call yourself OFF the grid?


Drive on roads made of asphalt and concrete, to- and from real estate made from petro products, requiring finance to subsidize everything, big governments to protect the financiers, industries to gain the fossil fuels needed to make everything including the factories, asphalt and concrete, militaries to steal what we want when we want ...


There is no 'off the grid'.

debtandtaxes's picture

But there is

i) able to travel more than 10 miles a day because his vehicle runs on sun and you have no gas so must walk or ride a horse

ii) a home that is warm or cool cuz of solar power when you roast or freeze to death

iii) being able to feed and clothes yourself and your kids from the land rather than needing little pieces of paper and a buiding with stuff stored inside it

And that is "off the grid" enuff for me.

debtandtaxes's picture

But there is

i) able to travel more than 10 miles a day because his vehicle runs on sun and you have no gas so must walk or ride a horse

ii) a home that is warm or cool cuz of solar power when you roast or freeze to death

iii) being able to feed and clothes yourself and your kids from the land rather than needing little pieces of paper and a buiding with stuff stored inside it

And that is "off the grid" enuff for me.

trav777's picture

yeah till his LiON batteries go...which will happen in short order.

You make me laugh, you really do

thisandthat's picture

Drive on roads made of asphalt


And on tires made of petrol, too, no matter what your "eco" car engine runs on. And tires and asphalt are as bad if not worst polluters than modern gas engines.

thisandthat's picture


So, you have a car that runs on Hopium... question is, how many miles until the looming head-on colision with the reality of "alternative" fuels?

AgAu_man's picture

Correct!  In the meantime, back in NY... @ The Fed:

1.  "Whoever rules the energy & key resources, rules the GRC (Global Reserve Currency)."

2.  "When that runs out, our FRNs won't matter.  But until they do, keep pushing that NWO, Mr President."

3.  "We'll print fiat to build our own Noah's Ark 2.0".

Flakmeister's picture

Clearly not much appreciation for mathematics in this crowd...

Totentänzerlied's picture

The y-axis is not labeled or given a scale on that first chart. What do I win?

Flakmeister's picture

Nothing but you do get a free link to a lecture from Edward Tufte...

trav777's picture

there is an IEA outlook I have somewhere on some machine which shows the relationship between age of discovery and time-to-peak plus decline rate.

More recent fields peak quicker and have steeper decline rates.  Same trend for onshore->offshore->deepwater.

The further out, the deeper the water, the quicker time-to-peak, and faster decline.

Really doesn't matter if it's field quality or just the increase in TECHNOLOGY (that the corns promised us would save us) that has enabled them to more efficiently get production to peak and drain the field.

Technology didn't prolong fields; it helped us get the product OUT FASTER.

Because that is what EXPONENTIAL GROWTH IS an exercise in- RED QUEEN.  And I don't mean the manchurian candidate.

We have to start being able to have adult conversations.  Not to harp on the topic, but this means a lot of people have to de-energize their mental third rails and start facing the TRUTH about humans.

Nuclear fission is, with 4G reactors, LFR and stuff such as that, functionally limitless...however, it's going to require a HELL of a lot more intelligent and conscientious society to manage than EVEN Japan, which is among the highest-IQ, lowest crime societies on earth.  And it will require abandoning growth.

Trying to find something else to burn at a higher rate isn't going to solve anything.

Flakmeister's picture

Foremost though is that it will all but require foregoing the profit angle...

tickhound's picture

The implications are huge.  The irony is all things from consumerism and profit models, government role, loss of sovereignty, birth rates, IQ tests, technological overhaul, human perceptions on 'labor', and so money and wealth would have to enter the discussion. 

The entire premise would need to start on a different foundation.  The question ultimately won't be "do we have enough money or is it affordable or can we profit?"  It'll be "do we have the resources?"

Flakmeister's picture

The thesis that I have maintained for some time it that must we re-invent our value system or go extinct (or damn close to it). And there is no guarentee the former implies avoiding the latter...

BTW, that thesis is one of the reasons why I am *so* popular here at ZH....

tickhound's picture

it's your stick in the eye delivery too.

Flakmeister's picture

I used to be a kinder gentler spirit but I got tired of abuse from dickheads... Nowadays, I only respond in like (and I have a very good memory)...

In PO slugfests Trav always kidded me that the "Dark side was stronger".... And you have no idea of the *war* that transpired here over peak oil... This thread is kitten cuddley cutesie wootsie...

Totentänzerlied's picture

Do any of your planks new values involve the killing of (many, many) people who don't agree with you?

Or perhaps take it a step further and transmute the old value "thou shalt not kill" into "thou shalt kill (who I tell you to, when I tell you to)"?

If this sounds sarcastic, it isn't meant to be; I believe you are sincere about this "thesis" of yours. The questions you left open are which values will be revalued, and how badly will they then conflict with their predecessors. You know where this is going.

PS: this is not a plug for the brain-dead ethics, or its evangelizers, which gave the world "thou shalt not kill".

Flakmeister's picture

Nope, just because it is inevitable that some will go does not make me feel any better...  And just because I recognize that inevitability does not make me complicit or supportive....

I wouldn't want the job of playing God, there are far too many people that relish the prospect and are willing to fight for it...

After all, we all die eventually...

There is still much wisdom to be gained from the Stoics....


secret_sam's picture

Defending one's own property and/or resources ONLY requires killing people who "don't agree" when they show up at your door to steal from you. 

Quite frankly, most of the "have-nots" on the global level lack the resources to show up at the door of the "haves."  That's the greatest part of what enabled Europe/US/Japan to steal so many of those resources in the first place.

Matt's picture

Also, "Not keeping alive" is NOT the same as killing. If I don't provide food to someone on the other side of the planet, and they die of hunger, I did not actively kill them. Or someone down the street, for that matter.

trav777's picture

humans won't go extinct...civilization might.  Certainly as we know it.

Acet's picture

Well, profit itself needs not be foregone.

The profit that comes from increased efficiency (make a better mousetrap) will still be there for the taking.

It's the profit that comes from simply ridding a wave of growth without actually adding any value that will be gone forever once the "mooar & biggger" style of growth is stopped on its tracks by energy availability limits.

In other words - modern Consumer Society with its countless me-too products, XXL sizes, meaningless innovations, fragile short-lived products, built-in obsolescence and marketting as value-adding tool is going to dissapear, but a free market where better and/or more efficiently done means better profit will likelly replace it.


centerline's picture

The root of the real problem... in a nutshell.

OOONONO's picture

Spot on ... and when you carry your thinking out to the logical conclusion(s), it is time to:  1) enjoy life as much as possible 2) prepare to die   (no sarc!)

Freddie's picture

EVEN Japan, which is among the highest-IQ, lowest crime societies on earth.

The Yakuza runs Japanese business and the govt to some extent.  The Yakuza had the maint contract on       Fu*k-o-shima.

I am glad we do not have gangsters or gangster unions running Oba-MAO Amerikkka.

Flakmeister's picture

Well, you are starting to understand how fucked things really are Freddie...

trav777's picture

selfish genes...they aren't made for scarcity.

Deer on islands don't fare any better

Matt's picture

I think corruption is the key factor here, not the intelligence, education or concientousness of the general population. The corruption that maintains the status quo via barriers to entry, tarrifs, subsidies to the incumbents, regulations, etc. Where to find, or how to create, a society with as little corruption as possible?

secret_sam's picture

"Corruption" is just a specific source of inefficiency, which is the REAL problem. 

The light from the sun has maintained life on the planet for billions of years, and probably can support a thriving human population for another billion, but there would certainly have to be adjustments to how we employ and distribute our resources.

If efficiency is adequate, we really needn't worry so much about the corruption bit.  Just like some brewery might allow employees to take home as much beer as they like, or some ice cream shop might allow them to eat as much ice cream as they like while on the clock.