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Why Are Food Prices So High?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Regardless of what we eat, we're actually eating oil.

Anyone who buys their own groceries (as opposed to having a full-time cook handle such mundane chores) knows that the cost of basic foods keeps rising, despite the official claims that inflation is essentially near-zero.
Common-sense causes include severe weather and droughts than reduce crop yields, rising demand from the increasingly wealthy global middle class and money printing, which devalues the purchasing power of income.
While these factors undoubtedly influence the cost of food, it turns out that food moves in virtual lockstep with the one master commodity in an industrialized global economy: oil. Courtesy of our friends at Market Daily Briefing, here is a chart of a basket of basic foodstuffs and Brent Crude Oil:
In other words, regardless of what we eat, we're actually eating oil. Not directly, of course, but indirectly, as the global production of tradable foods relies on mechanized farming, fertilizers derived from fossil fuel feedstocks, transport of the harvest to processing plants and from there, to final customers.
Even more indirectly, it took enormous quantities of fossil-fuel energy to construct the aircraft that fly delicacies halfway around the world, the ships that carry cacao beans and grain, the trucks that transport produce and the roads that enable fast, reliable delivery of perishables.
Though many observers see money-printing as the master narrative of the global economy, we don't see much correlation between the Fed's ballooning balance sheet and food/oil. If money-printing alone controlled oil (and thus food), prices of oil/food should have soared as the flood of QE3 (and other central bank orgies of credit-money creation) washed into the global economy from late 2012.
Instead, oil/food have traced out a wedge: prices have remained in a relatively narrow trading range during the orgy of money-printing.
While money creation is one influence on commodity prices, supply and demand matter, too; in that sense, money printing only matters if it pushes demand higher while constricting supply.
Other observers use gold as the "you can't print this" metric of price. In other words, rather than price grain in dollars, yuan, yen or euros, we calculate the cost of grain in ounces of gold.
The gold/food ratio is around the level it reached in 2009 after spiking in 2008.
This tells us food is cheap when priced in gold compared to 2002, but it's more expensive (priced in gold) than it was at gold's peak in 2012.

In effect, the influences of monetary inflation and supply/demand show up in food via the price of oil. Until we stop eating oil (10 calories of fossil fuels are consumed to put one calorie of food on the table), oil is the master commodity in the cost of food.


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Wed, 05/28/2014 - 12:56 | 4802303 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

It's all about calories, period.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:00 | 4802310 Magnix
Magnix's picture

Plant your garden, eat veggies, fruits, and beers. Then you're all good!

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:05 | 4802329 Der Wille Zur Macht
Der Wille Zur Macht's picture

I want a beer tree...

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:18 | 4802354 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

One bushel of wheat weighs approximately 60 pounds.
One bushel of wheat yields approximately 42 pounds of white flour OR 60 pounds of whole-wheat flour.
A bushel of wheat yields 42 one-and-a-half pound commercial loaves of white bread OR about 90 one-pound loaves of whole wheat bread.

So if wheat stays under $9.00 a bushel then there is less than 10 to 20 cents of wheat in every loaf.

Who said there isn't any food inflation out there...

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:19 | 4802366 Badabing
Badabing's picture

So, if food follows oil, what does oil follow!

Dose he think we’re dicks?

Who pays you Charles Hugh-Smith?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:23 | 4802391 economics9698
economics9698's picture

Ahhh Venezuela has the cheapest oil in the world and bread is $11 a loaf.

When it gets hot and the excess reserve are no longer safe collecting 0.1% interest the full effects of this printing will be felt.


The money is printed, sitting on Wall Street and the Fed.  It will not last forever.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:35 | 4802434 Four chan
Four chan's picture

oil like every other real thing follows the devaluation of the thing its measured by. fiat

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:37 | 4802441 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

Check out these foods if you want a good laugh.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:42 | 4802454 Hippocratic Oaf
Hippocratic Oaf's picture

How many times have I said this? There is NO inflation!!!

Package size on the other hand............

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:48 | 4802470 Dixie Rect
Dixie Rect's picture

I think it's called shrinkflation.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:51 | 4802473 BobPaulson
BobPaulson's picture

Hedonics says filet mignon is hamburger helper which is Alpo. After that I guess you just eat shit.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:03 | 4802691 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

horse manure does feed the crops

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:48 | 4802636 centerline
centerline's picture

That was great! Thanks Fonz.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:55 | 4802658 j0nx
j0nx's picture

Agreed, the author is a tard. I've been saying it for 2 years now: there is only ONE SINGLE REASON for the massive increase in fuel and therefor food prices. Dollar devaluation courtesy of USGOV. PERIOD. Anything else is a lie up to and including weather and disease.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:07 | 4802707 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

so are you saying sweet crude is just as plentiful and easy to get 100 years later, the same amount of people are using it...and the same amount of products and services are tied to and dependent upon it? 

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:28 | 4802771 greatbeard
greatbeard's picture

>> so are you saying

Not only that, but farm output is not affected by drought or disease.  If you don't agree you are a 'tard. 

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 18:04 | 4821367 Factotum
Factotum's picture

I understand not being able to understand numbers (See 2012 election)   But really.  Not being able to read a simple graph?  That requires a new level of stupid (refusal or inability to learn new stuff)  Starting in 2008 money volume started going up and has not quit.  But the price of oil droped sharply and is still below the high achieved in 2008.   Seriously J0nx.  Are you blind???

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:22 | 4802384 Cannon Fodder
Cannon Fodder's picture

"Do you have any of that beer with skittles in it? You know, SkittleBrau..." Homer Simpson...

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 02:10 | 4804566 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

"Then give me some beer and a pack of skittles Apu" - Homer Simpson

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:11 | 4802340 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Yes, you're good for 100 calories of the 2200 you need per day.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:11 | 4802341 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Assuming you get up and walk to the bathroom from your puter now and then.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:16 | 4802356 BrosephStiglitz
BrosephStiglitz's picture

Right.  It takes several acres of land to support one human's caloric needs for a year.  If you utilize high-tech growing such as hydroponics, or aquaponics you can cut that down by a factor of 8.  That's still a pretty big footprint and it's bigger than most people's back gardens.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:20 | 4802377 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

It's not that bad, bro.

Potatoes or peanuts can fuel 2 people per acre -- sort of inverting that ratio, but you will need some other things than just potatoes or peaunts, nutrient wise.

Where it gets ugly is when you have 20 people and need several acres, which means horses or oxen, and that means you need some acres in hay to get the draft animals thru the winter.

There is NOTHING about the future that is bright.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:23 | 4802390 samsara
samsara's picture

Peak Oil

"The Future's So Dark, You'll Think You're wearing Shades"

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:30 | 4802423 BrosephStiglitz
BrosephStiglitz's picture

Peak oil wouldn't have been a big deal if humanity had foresight.  Naturally they did everything they could to inhibit progress.  Now the future looks painful.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:22 | 4802569 daveO
daveO's picture

I guess I'm the only one who remembers the oil industry consolidation of the late 90's, when gas was .87/gal. We were swimming in oil and every other jackass drove a Chevy Surburban. I warned everybody then that we were gonna get screwed by the oil co's. They would just stare, oblivious. At least the Surburbans are gone.    

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:04 | 4802877 earnyermoney
earnyermoney's picture

"At least the Surburbans are gone."  LOL. Not where I live. Every other vehicle in the school carpool lane is a massive SUV, pickup truck or minivan.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:48 | 4802832 samsara
samsara's picture

"Peak oil wouldn't have been a big deal if humanity had foresight. "

Like not letting the population get to 7 billion you mean?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:31 | 4802495 Bollixed
Bollixed's picture

I've seen farmers grow 40,000 pounds of potatos as well as 100,000 pounds of onions per acre. An acre can support around 250 pounds of beef. All under ideal conditions. That means tractors, machines, and fuel.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:37 | 4802607 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

"That means tractors, machines, and fuel." - Correct, try producing that without the tractors, machines, and fuel.  Not to mention all the added nutrients and pesticides...


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:47 | 4802635 Bollixed
Bollixed's picture

You forgot sunlight and water. Not sure what the point of your post is or who these morons are. The farmers? The commenters here? The author of the article?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:31 | 4802778 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

one problem with the "acres/person" analysis is that ignores how nature works and how mankind has sought out food for most of their time on the planet. Permaculture principles with mostly perennial plants lets the world of plants and animals supply most of the energy, fertilization and pest control work. In a truly stacked system with vines, trees, nuts, berries, beans, etc it's really hard to place a ratio number. One probably necessary adjustment is less meat, well definitely not the way we produce it now and just like plants a much much wider variety of it. There's plenty of insects.      

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 23:05 | 4804208 msmith9962
msmith9962's picture

The permaculture folks claim you can feed 10/acre with no inputs once mature.

See Geoff Lawton, Paul Wheaton, Sepp Holzer and the book the one straw revolution.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:43 | 4802459 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Mr's grandparents lived very comfortably on a 10acre farm in Wa during the depression. They had a 50X50 garden and fruit trees, everything not consumed was canned. They produced massive amounts of food including 10 head of all grass fed cattle yearly. What they didn't personally need was bartered. I was amazed how well they lived as compared to the city dwellers even without regular jobs.

Our 20x20 garden produces far more vegetables then we can use. We feed a lot to our meat chicken and turkeys to offset the cost of raising them. No, we cannot raise them as cheaply as low cost supermarket brands but far less than organic. Plus we know our pasture raised birds are not diseased and raised in filth.

There is a hidden cost to our cheap food that people don't see. I see it every day at my job in the massive proliferation of resistant bacterial strains killing people. People need to connect the dots.


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:51 | 4802474 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

While I appreciate the spirit of your post - if you can feed two people all year on a 20x20 garden, you aren't eating very many vegitables.  

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:02 | 4802510 Dagny Taggart
Dagny Taggart's picture

Um... if one is creative, they can do a lot with very small spaces...

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:07 | 4802528 Hippocratic Oaf
Hippocratic Oaf's picture

That's because he's eating vegetables.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:51 | 4802475 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Nice job, Miffed.

If it's still in the family, keep your mouth shut.

When the time comes, you don't want people remembering you.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:05 | 4802518 crunchyfrog
crunchyfrog's picture

Ten head of cattle on ten acres calls for some pretty perfect conditions.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:28 | 4802772 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Yeah, you can do all kinds of amazing stuff if you're trucking in feed, water, and fertilizer and have a prime location.  Once you try to do it on a non-ideal site, without an off-farm income, or without reliance on importation of feed, water, and fertilizer and copius amounts of fossile fuel power, the program becomes much more challenging and requires much more space to function long-term.  

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:40 | 4802958 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I must admit this was on prime farm land in Wenatchee on the Wenatchee river. They did irrigate. The soil was fabulous. Rich and loamy. Could not ask for better conditions even with the the harsh winter. They did raise hay to keep their breeding stock over the winter. Unfortunately this land had been sold but we still have the 100 acres in Spokane. This is not as nearly so productive though it is only dry land farmed. My mother in law still raises cattle but she has to supplement with hay and barley to finish and sell her 10 head a year. Yes, conditions certainly do matter.


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:09 | 4802314 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Calories and profits...

The farmer buys the land, plants and maintains the trees, pays the harvesters, etc. etc.

"U.S. apple growers received a record average price of $0.34 per pound in 2012 for fresh market apples compared to $0.30 per pound in 2011 (NASS 2013). In 2011, the value of apples for processing was $338 million, according to the USDA."

And then the real value is added to the product when you go to Walmart and pay just a little more than 34 cents a pound...

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:15 | 4802355 spastic_colon
spastic_colon's picture

do all these calculations include the fact that my $10 only buys 8oz when it used to buy 12?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:24 | 4802389 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Quit whining...

.gov studies show that the 8 oz portion now tastes 50% better than the old 12 oz portion... therefore there is no change in price.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:40 | 4802801 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

Good point.

US wars now last 500% longer therefore less people have actually died

and more people like us.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:27 | 4802412 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

"It's all about calories, period."


Energy Returned On Energy Invested (E.R.O.E.I)  


This controls and determines everything.....from energy, to work, to eating, to relationships, to investing.....etc.

But PARTICULARLY when it comes to sustaining the Elite's Utopia and the false "American Dream" of the middle class

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:52 | 4802483 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

CHS makes a lot of good points and I usually like his stuff, but I don't think anyone yet has drawn all the lines between all the dots, and yes exactly EROEI is killing us, and not even slowly.

Money is vanishing from the system, and The Fed and the other CB are printing money like crazy. But that money has no productive place to go -- because we are not producing anything -- so it sits unproductive in banks earning interest (also paid by the Fed). People say "when that $14T hits the streets, the hyperinflation will be epic" and if that $14T ever did yes it would be, but it's not going to ever because there simply is no hole it can be poked into. Some went into housing, but housing has imploded and that money simply evaporated or is about to. A small amount has gone into infrastructure but even with all the government crony capitalist waste they can shovel, it just evaporated anyway. Those are all short-term uses of cash, little blips in the big picture, still we cannot produce anything.

Unless they let lose the hounds of war -- and produce destruction -- they simply have no hole to poke money into. We can only shovel money into destruction! God what a world. Christ on a pencil.

Because we cannot produce an economy on debt we are caught in a vise and it's closing on us day by day. One jaw of the vise is called "peak debt" and the other is called "peak energy" and the jaws of the vise are being screwed shut on the global economy, the US consumer, and every kind of useless debt financing.

I just don't see anyway out of this. There is simply no mechanism, no switch to throw, no gear to turn. We've run out of the energy that drove us to this cliff, and now we're going over the edge. Our Titanic has hit the iceberg and its going down and its not going to take very long doing it. Imagine any kind of solution or hiding place you want to, I'm standing here and I can see this shit is not going to work out. None of this shit, ever, will work out for anyone I don't care who you are or how you've prepared. The numbers are not there, the resources are not there, the capital is not there. It is simply not going to work out.

I do not have a Plan B. I don't know what to do. I'm going over the same cliff as everyone else and I cannot stop it, and it doesn't help at all that I know exactly why we're going over -- we're just going over and that's all there is to it.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:58 | 4802499 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Buy farmland in the best climate you can find.

If you're a global warming person, pick farmland in colder areas than best.  If you think the collapse of oil consumption will stop global warming, then be content with "the best climate you can find."

Marry local so you stop being "other".  Don't plan on your kids going to Harvard.  Harvard won't be there anymore.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:19 | 4802545 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Those are all coping mechanisms. Yeah, we'll have to cope and them as don't will quickly blow themselves up in one fashion or another.

Of course a collapse in oil consumption won't stop global warming -- we've got 50 more years of warming in the pipeline at the current rates or greater even if we don't release another ounce of fossil carbon starting tomorrow, and then it will take 2,000 years for the carbon we've forced into the system to sequester itself again. That's not even my opinion, that's basic science. We're completely screwed over for the next 2,000 fucking years. It's only going to get worse before it gets any better and it won't get any better for 2,000 years.

Yeah go find yourself a nice fertile valley in British Columbia, Canada. Clear the land, build yourself a sod cabin, do it all just right. See how long that lasts when 200 million starving and angry people streaming out of S. America, Mexico and the Lower 48 urban cores have exactly the same idea. They'll take your land and roast you on a spit with the wood from your rocking chair, is what they'll do. Can you imagine what it's going to look like as the 7 billion people currently living most in the equatorial belt all try to cram themselves and their economic and agricultural patterns into the 10% of the Earth's surface inside the Arctic Circle in Russia and Canada? Jeezuz H. Christ! How is that shit supposed to work? Just tell me how that works I want to hear it. There is nothing up there, no roads no cities, no trains, no industry no fucking anything up there. And we're going to build all that -- how? When? Who's going to built it and what the fuck reason do they have to then share it with 7 billion insane and desperate people none of them speaking the same language?

This isn't even fiction. I write really bleak and desperate fiction punctuated with acts of brutal and tyrannical violence, and I can't even wrap my head around the shit coming our way. It's just completely off the god-damned map. Nothing in human history comes close, nothing at all, you can't think of even one thing on this scale of loss, betrayal and suffering that can hold a candle to this nightmare.

It's pain, and it's coming. My worry is that literally nobody gets out alive.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:28 | 4802582 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

"we" may be screwed for the next 2,000 years but I have about 30 good ones left and another 30 plus good ones god willing after that for the family I care about. The 1,900 years after that I am less concerned with. I just hope those 7 billion people don't scramble for a while. 

(not by junk btw)

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:38 | 4802610 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Your years and another generation -- yeah that's it. And that's fine, I get that part. Good luck. I mean it.

But I don't see how you can not be concerned about the 1,900 years that follow. You've gotta be smarter than that. I know you are, I just know it. This isn't a Tarantino film and you and I are art critics. This is the real thing. It's been 5 million years of people just moving forward as best they can, 8,000 years of history we can point to with pride, 300 years of industrialization and the rapid advancement of human achievement and intellectual advancement -- and suddenly we're looking at the edge of a cliff. How did we get here? Who called that shot?

I'm really worried, let me tell you. I'm back-pedalling like crazy I am not going to just ride over the cliff without a struggle. 5 million years and now I am going to fight this bullshit, sir. I'm going to haul out of the big engines and I am going to fight it. There is nothing I can do but fight it. I'll lose, we'll all lose now, but I'm going to fight it anyway I don't care the odds.

We can salvage something. We can leave something behind. But only if we fight hard for it. The first step is sensing the desperation of our situation, the next step is realizing there will be no miracle, and the final step is to fight it like a crazed and raging mutherfucker.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:47 | 4802633 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

well i certainly don't wish ill on the years i won't be here. but there are a lot of variables in play. i'd put decent odds on us advancing with technologically to the point that we eventually invent the robot smart enough to end us. i think there are a lot of other variables.

i'm more concerned with the next 10 to 20 years. when the baby boomers hit their 80's and are still downing red bulls while they change the batteries in their penis pumps. those costs will go through the roof and the gen x'ers are going to barf up all they have trying to prop that system up. when they fail, the millenials who are pretty much all unemployed and don't have much of an interest (quite smart of them) in propping up the system walk away from it, we get an implosion. That is assuming the markets hold up that long and don't crash the system before demographics do. I don't know that we recover from that. 

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:10 | 4802713 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

You really might want to step back a little from your Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming belief system for a little bit... read the assessments from several former IPCC authors who now think the problem is likely to be small and manageable. The hysteria that the "Climate scientists" create and MSM promotes is ALL based on computer models.

Seriously. Computer models.

Ever hear of garbage (and oodles of money) in - garbage out?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:51 | 4802842 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I know plenty about it thanks. You can think what you like.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:46 | 4802829 MopWater
MopWater's picture

I think you underestimate the power of the planet and humanity to survive.  Tens of thousands of years weve lived in some of the most inhospitible places and thrived.  The 7+ billion wont survive in its entirety, some, most, will probably die trying to survive.  We have no real idea on what will happen whether the Earth warms, cools, or stays static in its ecological settings.  Who knows what could happen if the ocean curents shift, deserts get rain, the permafrost melts and becomes a haven for food growing, antarcitcia melts and we unearth mineral riches never imagined.

 You see science fiction of years ago and what is reality now, theres no reason we couldnt be living beneath the surface of the oceans or living in the skies...take the requisite need for profit out and who knows what humanity could achieve.

Dont worry about the next 2000 years.  You think the Romans cared what we would be living like while they were stabbing spears into each others necks?  To quote Keynes, "in the long run, youre dead" so take each day as it comes.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:58 | 4802864 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

It isn't random stuff, and it's not all equal, and I don't take much solace being compared to the fall of the Roman empire. We did this to ourselves, we're still doing it because there is money in doing it, and we'll continue doing it until the last nail is driven into the last coffin. That's a lot of fail to just roll over and accept. And I don't like that the guys making the money are going to drive themselves and us over a cliff while counting their loot. That's just really dumb.

Well I guess if we're that dumb then yeah maybe 100 years of continuous murder could fix it. Still, makes me sick to think about.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:37 | 4802608 rum_runner
rum_runner's picture

I don't know.. I get what you're saying and in my darker moments I'm sure you're right.  But there are other factors to consider too.. the global population is supposed to peak somewhere around 2050 and then will slowly start to decline.  Too many people will still be around by 2100 for sure but we'll be trending in the right direction.  

People move into cities more and more.  I have a hard time seeing the trend reverse.  They'll live in vast slums like Rio and most cities in India.  There's no fucking way these folks are going to try to make a run for Nova Scotia.  Look at the misery that abounds in Africa and yet only a tiny handful of folks actually sneak through to the EU.

Plus who knows what Black Swans are waiting out there.  Heck, a global flu pandemic wouldn't even be a black swan, it's a routine event we've managed to hold at bay thanks to technology.

And maybe we'll get off our collective asses and commit to nuclear technology again.  Fucking hippies did more damage to the world than any oil co by shutting down the nuclear industry.  If we had kept the same pace of research up we'd most likely have closed-loop fuel cycles using thorium instead of U.  Maybe we'd even have Rossi's (seemingly now) crackpot LENR device in our basements.

However you perceive the future, I'm sure it will be different.  Maybe better in some respects, maybe worse in others, but assuredly different.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:46 | 4802629 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

That's a lot of wishful thinking from past conditions.

But the center -- and the edges and everything else -- is not going to hold.

You think I'm wrong about the future, but I might not be. You better be ready to fight for the future you want or else you'll be getting mine by default, and that kind of future is simply going to eat you alive.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:14 | 4802723 BuddyEffed
BuddyEffed's picture

If any herd thinning occurs, it will most likely be local for the most part.  People aren't going to be traveling a hundred miles in large quantities.  They will likely meet herd thinners quickly, or lack the resources to move a long distance such as fuel for vehicles, or food and shelter.  The longer things are quiet in your area, the less likely there will be strangers coming around.  Now, 20 or 30 miles from an urban center, is walking distance, even on an empty stomach, and those types will be desperate any where they show up.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:49 | 4802781 Jethro
Jethro's picture

On a long enough time line....

What I see happening is going to happen with or without global warming.  A currency crisis has the potential to be every bit as effective in culling the herd as anything naturally occuring.  No currency=no medicine=potential for pandemics.  It's not like you're going to barter with Pfizer for medicine either. 

We'll slowly decline like the Romans did.  Food and energy will be more expensive.  Violent crime will increase, and corruption (more corruption) will occur. 

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:59 | 4802870 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

We've been in decline for a while now.  It's just been hidden.  Look at the run-up to the peak of the employment-population ratio.  More people were working more hours and using more and more debt to maintain the same standard of living.  But for a while, we were able to maintain that standard of living without considering the costs.  Then around 2000ish, the population employment ratio started to drop, then, as a result of the financial crisis, it plummeted, and has been bouncing at around 58%-59%, just waiting for the next financial crisis.  When empires collapse, it doesn't happen over night, and I would argue that they start their declines long before people realize that there is something to be worried about.  We're in the stage where people realize that there is something to worry about, which means that the decline should start accelerating.  

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 23:31 | 4804294 msmith9962
msmith9962's picture

Cougar.  I'm a fan of yours. I like and agree with most of what you say, including these posts.  You sound like you're in a bad place, but giving up is never an option.  Life is always a risk and we live to minimize that risk.  I'm raising 3 kids and what I'm aware of terrifies mem, I have yet to fully inform my wife of my terrors. 

My oldest (10) learned about fire safety at school recently and she was scared, I thought would you rather not know about it or know and have some potential solitions in the face of not getting out at all.

We and our progeny have an uphill battle.

-Collapse of credit

-peake oil

-peak food



-fukushima and the pending fukushimas when the above hit the fan

-you name it

7 billion people aint gonna last but what are you doing to help you and yours?  The antidote to despair is action.  Do some permaculture, build a rocket mass heater, start a community something.


Sorry, just got back from a funeral and have a bit o whiskey in me.  Live with one foot in the present, one foot in the future and always celebrate life.

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 00:18 | 4804402 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

That all made a lot of sense for someone with a bit o whiskey in them. The same does wonders for me, too. Funerals can focus the mind, so you might have the advantage over the rest of us right now.

I've already taken all the actions you mention, even have plans now to make a bunch ofsmall rocket heaters to leave under the bridges this winter for the homeless to use. This stuff is pretty easy, you know. We just have to find ways to drag a bunch more people after us in the journey, it's going to be a royal bitch everyone doing their own thing and making all the same mistakes.

Thanks for the kind words. I needed them.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:38 | 4802602 daveO
daveO's picture

IMO, peak oil is a reflection of peak debt. By printing fiat/debt, the FED is pulling demand from the future. W/o that debt being created, oil demand would be no where near as high. They inflate the money supply and create a false oil rush. I rememeber the same thing back in the 70's & 80's after the FED went on a printing spree. People were drilling holes everywhere. Gold topped about 5 years ahead of oil. Yea, it costs more energy to extract it, today. That's because they are pulling demand from the future while extracting with today's inferior technology. 

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:42 | 4802620 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Debt is an abstract concept with a certain utility, but oil (energy) is a thing. You can only ever actually run out of things.

All else is illusion.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:07 | 4802873 BuddyEffed
BuddyEffed's picture

Your insight on THINGS is so true.  Nothing really ever gets pulled forward.  The capability was always there to harvest resources, even without debt being involved or style of agreement of good faith and credit.  You use the energy you have in hand to get the things your society is using today and in the next few weeks and months.  PERIOD!  The world really runs on it's stockpiles of THINGS and it's ability to keep repleneshing and replacing the things it uses and needs again.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:57 | 4802652 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture


You cannot stop it and you cannot plan for it.

When they tell us that even strong real economic growth (if you could even achieve it which you can't) would cause rising interest rates which in turn would collapse equities, debt, the banking system and thus what is left of the "economy"... well you have pretty much reached the end of the line.

The 'solution' is to head to where you can still get by on good old fashioned subsistence living. Buy a fishing rod, plant some vegetables and pray for rain.

Oh... and absolutely do no not worry about global warming.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:10 | 4802889 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I like you, you know I do, but seriously please rethink your stand on AGW. Just take some advice from someone who can see all the way to the bottom of the well; if you cannot understand the science then for the love of God just go with it. Just accept the results of the science and don't question what you don't understand. Just roll with it. I'm on my knees here -- just please roll with it.

In a year or so you'll remember what I just asked of you. And you'll understand why I was on my knees when I did it.

I probably won't be in your conversation circle then. So I'll say now that it's okay you took so long. It's okay and I don't think any less of you for having taken so long. That was just the times we lived in, and some took a longer time than others.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 17:29 | 4803073 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

I used to believe in CAGW before I doubted it. It was the release of Mann's hockeystick graph for the IPCC that did it back around 2000 or so.

Having had been taught paleoclimatology back in the 80's I knew well that the Medieval., Roman, and Holocene maximum warm periods as well as Maunder and Dalton minima were real, Still have the textbooks.

When politics and science are merged together with billions in climate "research" this is the kind of result you can expect to get.

I give a doubling of CO2 to effect a 1 degree c. warming more or less. That is what the physics suggest. When you start calculating increases due to additional water vapor in the atmosphere without being able to quantitfy the negative feedbacks of the additional resultant cloud cover... well... that's just not science anymore... that's clearly propaganda.

Anyway we now find ourselves in a solar minimum of sorts once again so we won't have to wait long to find the answer to both of our questions... so in the meantime don't despair so much... unless you live in California or the midwest because BOTH camps plus the paleo suggest they are fucked badly for the next 30 years or so.

Excluding the precip from the El Nino later this fall that is...

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 17:30 | 4803107 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

"When politics and science are merged together this is the kind of result you get."

See, that kind of thinking can unwind the wisdom of the ages. Just do not go there.

Not everything is politics. In fact not even most things are politics. Most things are the way they are because that is how the universe works and even our politics runs aground on most things. The earth was round before it was acceptable to think so,and it  didn't matter what we wanted it to be. Just was.

Well as I said think what you like. The unblinking universe will take us where we need to go, there's not much we can do about it now but watch in awe and terror as we are taken.


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 17:54 | 4803145 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Just for the sake of keeping an open mind...

Solar physicist Mike Lockwood (IPCC author and CAGW adherent ) says that we stand a 25-30% of falling back into a Maunder-like minimum.

Here's a paper you may wish to take a look at concerning the north-south diversions of the jetstream/polar vortex we have been experiencing more of lately.

Here is another paper that examines the Interplanetary Magnetic Field and it's effects on atmospheric circulation. (BTW... other planets than earth are experiencing unusual atmospheric circulation patterns over the last decade or so...

Give them a look see and get back to me OK? And don't forget that Svensmark's hypothesis about cosmic rays and cloud condensing nuclei was proven at Cern.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 18:47 | 4803380 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Alright -- god-dammit alright -- let's do this --

Lockwood: (April 2009) "Solar activity began to tail off in the mid 1980?s – a period of steadily rising temperatures. If the Sun was responsible for global warming we would have seen a much more marked decline by now." So now he's changed his mind? He's the only one doing so, not sure how to read that. He can think what he wants but if he's the only one changing his mind now then it's of no material importance sorry.

Benestad: "The physical picture they [Lockwood et al.] provide is plausible, yet empirical relationships between solar activity and any of the indices describing the north Atlantic oscillation, the Arctic oscillation or the polar vortex are regarded as weak ... it is an example of incremental scientific progress rather than a breakthrough or a paradigm shift." Okay --- so what now? That's a lot of well-maybe-but-what-if going on, and not much climate science. Not even very interesting at some level.

Lam et al: "Meteorological effects resulting from fluctuations in the solar wind are presently poorly represented in weather and climate models. Indeed, the role of the Sun is one of the largest unknowns in the climate system ... Our results indicate that a mechanism that is known to produce atmospheric responses to the IMF in the polar regions is also able to modulate weather patterns at mid-latitudes." That's weather talk for transient high-pressure ridges in the mid-latitudes. The observation that the effects on climate of the solar wind are poorly understood is somewhat meaningless; if they are still poorly understood after a century of observations (and 40 years of satellite data) then let them remain unanswered but probably unimportant, we can move on to the things we know more about. There are similar questions about the importance of the ENSO in driving some global climate transients, for example. Sure it might be interesting, but we're talking minor and temporary fluctuations in something that is running in a nearly straight line to Hell, so get yourself a grant to study it, nice work if you can get it, probably doesn't matter.

Svenmark: That whole thing was a lot of hand-waving. Does it or does it not do that nucleation thing? Okay we don't really know, let's throw some money at the question. Oh look maybe it does in the lab but we're still not sure that means anything for the actual earth oh hum more money. Meanwhile there has been no significant trend in the cosmic ray flux over the 50 years we've been looking, so while we cannot rule out cosmic-ray/cloud mechanisms being relevant for historical climate changes, they certainly have not been an important factor in recent climate change. So who gives an actual fuck. Get a grant, study that shit good on you. Come back when have something to tell us that matches with observations, or shut up.

Christ that was a lot of work on my part. Fucking fuck I hate this useless crap. God-dammit. Just God-damn-it.

Okay ...

There is a pattern to those articles. They are minor contributions (or even just what-if thinking out loud grantsmanship) thrown like spaghetti against the wall of global climate science, which is composed of thousands of articles a year. Will they stick? Don't know. If they do will that change anything else? Unlikely. Will they throw out 300 years of climate observations and 50 years of scientific categorization? Of course not! The science is cumulative until some kind of seismic shift dislocates everything anyone ever thought. You know how often such a shift happens? Like maybe three times in the entire course of human history is how often. Lockwood and Lam and a few others nibbling around the edges of poorly understood phenomenon are welcome to report their findings, nobody will laugh, but even they are not expecting the entire human species to stop in its tracks in shock.

I want you to understand something that is really fucking absolutely 100% important that you understand; I can see to the bottom of the well. Almost nobody can do that. I mean nobody. People who think they can see some things clearly will tell you I'm a god-forsaken intuitive genius. That's not even a trick, I've been deliberately trained to see all the way through absolute opaque bullshit. Just take that as granted okay? You see some of that at casual work in the above commentary, like it or not, I'm the real thing. Just all the time the real deal.

And I'm telling you on my knees -- just stop this.


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 22:15 | 4803897 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

I will try to keep this short...

First... Solar acvtivity did not taper off during the 80's as you can see the level during the last 50 years has not been matched in centuries. And yes Lockwood is a hack but he's your hack.

Second... Benestad (also hack) does also see evidence of atmospheric blocking events


Next... PDO (ENSO) and AMO phases were what accounted for most of the observed warming during the 80's and 90's. Lately since 2000+/- the PDO has been mildly negative hence no warming. (No attribution of PDO/AMO positve phases was ever given when GISStemps were increasing during the 80's and 90's BTW... it was all sold as anthropogenic)

So if I am wrong and CO2 is the major driver we will find out very very shortly.  Agreed?


A definitive piece from Max Planck Institute concerning solar activity during the holocene can be found here.

Now pay careful attention to the graph below indicating the current level of solar activity vs. rest of holocene...

Now can you find me just one IPCC climate model that hasn't failed (on a 95% confidence level) or predicted the current pause that even Pachauri has stated has lasted the last 17 years? 

So excuse me for being just a tad sceptical OK?


Fri, 05/30/2014 - 12:26 | 4809831 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

ask the oceans

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:02 | 4802679 BuddyEffed
BuddyEffed's picture

Learn to live like the American Indians used to before the industrial revolution.  But first find a place to hide for 3 years until any herd thinning occurs if any events trigger something along those lines.  Being near a water source for fish and travel is not a bad idea.  I used to think the PNW or Canada or Alaska were promising due to being near salt water to get oysters and fish at any time of year and due to the remoteness to likely herd thinning areas.  But after Fukishima I have concerns about whether the food source might be an issue.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:26 | 4802932 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

You really think we'll have three years until the herd thinning is finished once it starts?  I think that once it starts, it'll be scary fast.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 17:18 | 4803069 BuddyEffed
BuddyEffed's picture

I recognize that the first few weeks and months would be, lets say challenging.  The odds of getting through that would be low, depending on your location.  But afterwards, and through several season changes, those that have found a way to be self sufficient and steady state will be able to breathe a little easier as any who couldn't make it that far are now a non issue.  People will still have to watch the back and their 6, but they will be to relax their guard a little, and maybe not shoot first and ask questions later.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:54 | 4802852 Mediocritas
Mediocritas's picture

Plenty of people already joined those dots cougar_w. ;-)

Most of the folks I used to talk with about these things just ran out of things to say, as did I. Some of the chats are still active, eg but most have been silent for years now.

There's no avoiding it, we're sliding down the energy slope and there's a world war at the bottom. Probably nuclear. Probably mid 2020's or so. The vectors have been obvious for decades (props to the Club of Rome).

What more is there to say?

Some of the crew just tried to forget and live in the present. Others sank into helpless depression and we lost more than a few to suicide. Others got on with it, choosing to move as far away as possible and build robust communities.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:04 | 4802876 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Yeah I know they did. Some of the bad news came out in the 70's, and has been mostly supported by events since. I get all that.

The usual "technology will fix it and besides it's all a hoax" line around here gets to me once in a while.

I got work to do. You do to. And I can't solve it. I'm a writer so sometimes here I write, but it's just words and I can't solve anything.

God dammit anyway. Just sad, is all I can say.

We could be better. But we're not. It's just sad.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 23:46 | 4804335 msmith9962
msmith9962's picture

So your saying dont wory about funding retirement?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:18 | 4802913 DR
DR's picture

How much EROEI to make soylent green?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:25 | 4802917 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

couger_w......I'm with ya, babe (man...whatever....doesn't matter)

You are metaphysically and quantum physically correct.  There is NO way out and NO way to stop it.  The Elite's have built a system of systems that has produced their wildest dreams of wealth and comfort and have deluded the masses of the earth to follow and wallow in the excess, trickle down scraps they let fall to the ground.

And yet....the Frankenstein they have created is out of control and their is nothing even THEY can do to control it without killing off not only the monster but the very debt serfs who are working their system to their benefit.

As a Christian....(well....a very cynical, foul mouth Christian...hey, we all have our vices....I'll forgive you if you forgive me) I can only offer the advice of prayer.

Barring that, if you do not believe.....then find solace you have a soul brother in me.  Goes for the rest of my ZeroHedge family.

Peace be with you all.......we're going to need it like never before.....and it will be more precious and rarer than gold.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 17:07 | 4803051 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I don't pray to any established deity, but I'll accept your prayers as a gift well intended. We're all gonna have to do something, that works for now.

You know what, for all my humanistic blather I'm just like a cat. All knives and a kind of mindless practicality, that's us and our brand of survival is patient. I can wait at a hole a long time for the mouse to come out and when he comes out he's mine right now. I know exactly what to do about that mouse right now. No wondering what it all means or where it's headed, mouse there and then not there, maybe there never was a mouse, maybe I'm just imagining things, maybe mice are all in my head. The mouse is there I know it. Wait for it -- wait for it -- mouse out boom -- mine and right now.

I tell people, think what you like. But know that I'm the cat at the hole, all knives and sharp things and I'm thinking several steps ahead because that's how you own things you can't even see yet. You guys get to glimpse into my thinking some times just a little, but most of the time not so much. Right now maybe more than I will allow again. I'm just waiting patiently for something I cannot see but I know is there and when it comes -- boom -- mine right now. Be all surprised if that's your thing but don't hold it against me that I'm the cat that caught the mouse before it was even there.

Because that's just how you play this game.

Peace out.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 19:16 | 4803474 No Quarter
No Quarter's picture

I'll This about all that. I was the Mouse that caught the Cat - Morrison

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 19:23 | 4803498 No Quarter
No Quarter's picture

Dude- i can appreciate the place you are in. We all have a responsibility for where we are and a responsibility for the results of our actions or inactions, today and in future. That said, you can get way too wrapped up in your own head.. Do what you can do. Educate, prepare, ammeliorate. But at the end of the day, we are all still subject to the barbs of fate, those things outside our power to shape or control. All you can do is your best, if it is sincere. The rest is unknown.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 20:06 | 4803633 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

When I'm here I cannot do anything except educate. I spend all my time here educating people, taking a lot of time doing it, really thinking about how to do that. Anyone who's been around here more than a few years knows how I roll out the big guns once in a while, and then it's on like World War III.

As for outside here, I don't operate nearly the effort I used to because I've been watching the course of the science I'm now of the opinion we're gone over the edge and it's over. Just fucking over. As for the rest being unknown, you hope that's the case. I think it's not too hard to imagine, just nobody wants to go there and the ones that do scare themselves into silence.

Anything I do now is for my own sense of having done the right thing. Otherwise I really cannot care what people think anymore. They're talking about systems that no longer exist, nothing I can do about that.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:07 | 4802308 Zirpedge
Zirpedge's picture

The gaping maw of 'merica is never satisfied. It will require coersion like high prices to enforce global equality. Don't bother looking at the deregulated commodities markets, there is no story there.


Yes, shipping costs are high and people should support their local farmers, however farmers sell on commodity markets which historically allowed only little speculation by intermediaries who provided price stability. The flood gates are open now to rampant speculation with no intent to consume or take delivery. These contracts are rolled over befroe that can happen. Goldman and others invest public pension funds into commodities. This of course raises the living costs of their clients, but they are too stoopid to realize that they are betting against themselves.


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:04 | 4802322 orangegeek
orangegeek's picture

In CME terms, Meats and Grains have come off highs at the end of March.  Most are on their way down now.


Takes 3 months to hit grocery shelves - or sooner.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:09 | 4802333 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

To this article, one says duh.

"oil is the master commodity in the cost of food."


oil is the master commodity. <--  That's a period there.  Though rephrasing may be better.

Oil is the master everything.  The word commodity somewhat contrains significance.

Oil is what matters and it is all that matters.  6 of the 7 billion depend on it, and the upcoming wars derive from it, and are waged with it.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:16 | 4802358 magnetosphere
magnetosphere's picture

COAL.  A LOT more important than oil.

uk, germany, usa, russia, china, and japan >> saudi arabia, iraq, kuwait, iran, venezuela, norway, mexico, angolo, libya, and indonesia.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:22 | 4802386 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

I recognize your name so I think you understand all the snide rebuttals about coal powered 18 wheelers bringing food to the walmart shelves.

Pop on over to and scope out China's coal production.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:07 | 4802648 magnetosphere
magnetosphere's picture

in 2009 csx trains averaged 468 miles per gallon for 1 ton of freight.  with these kinds of fuel efficiencies even biofuels could power the whole freight transport network of the usa.  or you could electrify the network and run it on coal like china and russia

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 17:48 | 4803178 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

"in 2009 csx trains averaged 468 miles per gallon for 1 ton of freight.  with these kinds of fuel efficiencies even biofuels could power the whole freight transport network of the usa.  or you could electrify the network and run it on coal like china and russia"



So tell me.....

Does biofuel have the same energy quotient as diesel ? 

Is biodiesel cheaper to produce from the EROEI standpoint (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) ?

The answer to both questions is no. electrifying the nation's rail transportation system......

How much money is it going to take to do that?

How much energy and engineering is it going to take to do that?

How much faster will we deplete our domestic coal supply which is already down to using lower quality coal than in the past?

How much more are the Appalachians going to be quite literally shaved from the top down mountain by mountain to quicky meet that kind of demand ?

How quickly will we have to import coal to meet the demand we cannot meet domestically.

If it were so cheap or easy....we would have already been doing it.

It's not...and therefore we won't

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:20 | 4802379 samsara
samsara's picture

You got it babe.


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:21 | 4802380 DutchR
DutchR's picture

But, but, oil is just liquefied ancient sunlight, can't we get some newer sunlight?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:37 | 4802606 sleigher
sleigher's picture

Sorry all the sunlight was used up by the solar farms they put in the desert.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:36 | 4802436 orangegeek
orangegeek's picture

yep - the only other master commodity is the USD, as unpopular as it is to say such a thing.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:24 | 4802574 Tortfeasor
Tortfeasor's picture

That's because drought has forced farmers to cull early, bringing supply into the market early. Prime beef season will see a spike. Grains down because of decreased herd sizes.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:09 | 4802335 starman
starman's picture

Don't  be silly theyre not high wete just broke!

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:11 | 4802339 Kaiser Sousa
Kaiser Sousa's picture

There is no inflation.

Yours truly,


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:15 | 4802352 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture

High food prices actually cause deflation. People will buy food no matter what the cost because it is a necessity to live. They will have less money leftover to purchase other things, and there is your deflation. Usually at some point in the process the sheeple demand higher wages to balance this out and then we get inflation. Hopefully if we are lucky that won't happen and several billion people can just die off quietly so we can get food prices down without severaly damaging our purchasing power long term (fingers crossed)

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:27 | 4802413 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

Think they'll get many volunteers?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:32 | 4802425 fonzannoon
fonzannoon's picture


"“It gives us cause for concern because it cannot be ruled out that elderly healthy people could come under pressure of taking their own life,”

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:52 | 4802646 daveO
daveO's picture

The ultimate brainwashed baby boomers are already be encouraged! There was an article last year in Time, I think, that suggested they get Living Wills with Do Not Resuscitate Clauses. Never fear, the Baby Boomers will play Edward G. Robinson's character in Soylent Green.

A few months after I read the article, linked through Drudge, I heard a Boomer relative school teacher parroting the articles suggestions, on their own! I thought then, the mission of the article was accomplished.  


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:45 | 4802972 SDShack
SDShack's picture

0zer0care Death Panels will "help" get the volunteers. Just multiply the VA debacle to infinity to see what is coming... Solyent Green HC.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:42 | 4802457 Tjeff1
Tjeff1's picture

High food prices also cause wars.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:55 | 4802662 rum_runner
rum_runner's picture

As an addendum.. if these people would consume one another in an orderly manner we would offset strain on the food system while also guarding against inflation.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:11 | 4802344 Rehab Willie
Rehab Willie's picture

it's the COLD stupid


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:17 | 4802362 Took Red Pill
Took Red Pill's picture

Peak oil BITCHEZZ!!

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:24 | 4802365 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

Assuming peak oil is right. then as oil becomes exponentially more expensive to extract, the price of food will also grow exponentially, thus food will be too expensive for the majority of the population, and we will have a forced correction in total population, down to pre-oil discovery levels.

assuming technology can bridge the gap by 20%, at best we would retain 20% of the population growth that occurred after the cheap oil boom.

It only makes sense that we should see a correction in population size.


The problem is not only peak oil, its peak growth, we are stuck with a monetary system that can not exist without constant growth of 2~3% year after year (the debt system implodes without growth), which means every year, we have to burn 2%+ more energy than the last year (exponentially ad-infinity), or you get a massive economic crisis, how to achieve such unsustainable growth without a free abundant source of energy . . . . not likely to have a good outcome for humanity.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:25 | 4802402 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

Or take a shortcut: WWIII otherwise the elites will have no resources left to hang over the

heads of any remaining serfs.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:30 | 4802411 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture


They could release all the suppressed technology and we can start colonizing other planets and gaining access to more resources, earth can't be the only planet with some form of bio - fuel to harvest.

If the situation is that grim, WWIII needs to be quick and nuclear, as a long war would only consume more resources and make the problem worst.


Fighting WWII probably burned up more oil than the people who died during the war would of consumed for the next 50 years.


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:58 | 4802498 luckylogger
luckylogger's picture

There is one big problem with peak oil theory. It is based on the fact that we can only recover aproximately 7% of the oil we find. This is all we have recovered from all of the huge feilds that we have been pumping since the 1930's like in afrika and the mid east. Problem with this theory is that there was recently a presentation put on by I believe statoil in Norway on its developement plans for a traditional oil feild. They see a 70% recovery rate with the emerging technology at todays prices. So if we have pumped 5-10% of the oil out of the mega feilds and this has sustained us for 70 years. How long will the other 60% last us. Hint, way beyond our lifetimes. the end of the oil age will be just like the end of the stone age. When technology finds somethig else than oil will be religated to just a lubricating medium and not a fuel. We have more time to figure this out than all the sky is falling crazies ever dreamed of. The stone age did not end when they ran out of stones, the same will be with the oil age. Fear is a weapon to extract money from gullible people that do not research the facts. We have problems, but running out of oil is not one of them.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:09 | 4802532 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

I would have to agree, we have plenty of time to solve the oil problem (if it is even a problem), new oil drilling tools and techniques are sure to boost oil recovery (I like the word recovery more than production, because humans don't really produce the oil, they gather it), investing in companies that are spearheading these new recovery methods is probably a good bet.

That being said, the future has to come down to extracting energy from hydrogen/solar, its the most potent and abundant energy source we have, the problem has always been extraction, and compared with the decades of oil discovery and recovery research that has been done, very little research has been done in the ways of improving efficiency of hydrogen extraction.

That also being sad, there are good prospects in fusion, hydrolysis, new graphene based solar cells , and hell even cold-fusion has made somewhat of a revival these past few years.

Once we transition from an oil based economy, to a hydrogen based economy , I would expect population to tripple or even quadruple.

The thing is, a lot of good tech is just not receiving funding, and a lot of the intellectual property related to such promising technologies are being bought up and almost permanently shelved by special interests that have an interest in perpetuating the old paradigm.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:22 | 4802922 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Back to the Chevy Suburbans!!!

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:57 | 4802669 daveO
daveO's picture

You're exactly right. We could end the oil age tomorrow if we could remove the oil co's influence from DC. I remember TV commercials in the 70's, sponsored by the Ad Council(state propaganda) where a kid was walking on the beach and bemoaning the fact that oil was gonna run out before he became an adult. Same shit, different decade.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:18 | 4802368 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

The US dollar buys about what .10c did in the late 60's early 70's.
All that oil/ food chart tells me is that sometime in 2007 some computers got programmed to corralate oil/food thats when your chart starts to follow closely.
A better question is when will this oil/food corralation break and go back to food/gold.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:24 | 4802398 CrashisOptimistic
CrashisOptimistic's picture

When gold powers the tractors that plant it.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:28 | 4802416 Badabing
Badabing's picture

I agree, The five and dime store is now the 99 cent store.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:59 | 4802675 daveO
daveO's picture

With Chinese made goods replacing US made. Where do they go next for cheaper labor?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 16:33 | 4802369 darteaus
darteaus's picture

Hyperinflation hits food, fuel and medical hardest - everything you need to stay alive until tomorrow.

Blue collar homes, cars, boats, etc. will see deflation.

The most exclusive things also see price rises during hyperinflation: expensive homes, cars, art, etc.

The stock market functions as a "safe haven" in hyperinflation, but it doesn't keep up with the inflation. 

So, if we are seeing all these things, we must be seeing hyperinflation, n'est pas?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:18 | 4802371 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

this won't be popular here but correlation does not equal causation in this "market"

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:58 | 4802666 detached.amusement
detached.amusement's picture

beat me to it, the real causation here is MALINVESTMENT just like everywhere else.  why's beef gone up, well, corn's gone up, well why's that, because someone thought it'd be a great idea to mandate BURNING THE SHIT instead of using foodstuffz as....ya know, FOOD...



all chasing a nonexistent new free source of tax revenue called CO2




the transporation costs havent helped of course, but to point at that as the big one and only driver is stupid.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:19 | 4802372 samsara
samsara's picture



Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:19 | 4802373 ShrNfr
ShrNfr's picture

If this is a surprise to you, you have not been paying attention. You give the guy who harvests the lettece a dime a head. The cost is then transporting it from Imperial Valley to where ever. That cost is energy dependent aka oil dependent. The cost of oil being equal, the prices are then modulated by the drought. Meat prices are modulated by corn and anchovie harvests. Anchovie catch is modulated by El Nino. Let them eat cake.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:25 | 4802400 DutchR
DutchR's picture

Anchovie eat cake, learn something new here everyday, thanks...


Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:22 | 4802387 Dingleberry
Dingleberry's picture

Why does the fed print so much money?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:27 | 4802409 DutchR
DutchR's picture


wait what?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:54 | 4802850 CHX
CHX's picture

YES WE CUN'T. There, fixed.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:28 | 4802414 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

To pay their caterers of course.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:45 | 4802466 Tjeff1
Tjeff1's picture

Why does a dog like its balls.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:18 | 4802554 MassDecep
MassDecep's picture

Why do I like my balls?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:46 | 4802828 InjectTheVenom
InjectTheVenom's picture

why do YOU like your DOG'S balls ?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:53 | 4802843 CHX
CHX's picture

Team "I like balls" USA ?

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:29 | 4802420 q99x2
q99x2's picture

I learned on TV that food prices are high because there is no inflation and there is global warming and Monsanto says people won't buy their GMO. On the Internet I learned that the TV is controlled by the enemy, Monsanto is the enemy, The FED is the enemy and basically that Washington D.C. is the enemy too, and that within 15 years we will be in an ice age. On my own I reflected upon human nature and have determined that food prices are high because that is how much people will pay within existing market conditions. And, conditions are often controlled. 

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:47 | 4802431 Duc888
Duc888's picture



magnetosphere: COAL.  A LOT more important than oil.


Thorium from the coal, even better.  LFTR.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:39 | 4802443 redbird
redbird's picture

Why do the two lines on this chart have differing scale ?

That trick is getting really old now

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:40 | 4802448 Tjeff1
Tjeff1's picture

Pricing in gold is stupid.  Gold is too manipulated to have true price discovery.  And you can not corroalate prices with inflation because they are two completely separate things.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:43 | 4802461 lasvegaspersona
lasvegaspersona's picture

the Fed can always print more food

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 13:48 | 4802468 kchrisc
kchrisc's picture

Considering the FedRes is "printing" theft which shows up as price-inflation, one could consider that ALL prices pass through the FedRes.

I.e. The FedRes is why food prices are so high.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:08 | 4802710 daveO
daveO's picture

Right. They are extracting from all dollar transactions worldwide. Egypt blew up on FED printing. They couldn't afford to eat. Experts say the breaking point is around 40% for food price to income.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:13 | 4802541 americanspirit
americanspirit's picture

The food-oil relationship is almost 100% due to the dominance of our food chain by the corporate farming industry which substitutes fossil fuels for human energy at virtually every step of the process. Small-scale, locally marketed, organic agriculture is independent of the price of oil with the possible exception of the fuel to drive farm vehicles - if any. Not saying this approach is perfect - nothing is - but the correlation of oil and food prices is driven almost completely by corporate farming strategies and priorities.

Of course most people in the cities are screwed unless neighborhood gardens and vertical farming really take off and unless they wean themselves from industrialized fast food and packaged crap. Good luck with that. But people in smaller, rural communities can make choices right now that will allow them not just to survive but to thrive.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:59 | 4802671 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

We went from 2 billion people to 7 billion people in about 50 years, and yes the additional 5 billion where fed on oil.

So guess what happens now? Oh go ahead just take a wild guess. If you guessed "5 billion people are set to perish" then you win the cupie doll.

People eat energy. For 5 million years we ate the structurally limited energy of sunlight. For the most recent 50 years we've eaten the entirely unlimited energy stored in fossil fuels.

And now, we are set to starve for that decision, by the billions.

Anyone can think anything they like. It's not even interesting all the things people think or believe. Reality is simply going to come around the corner one of these days very soon and cut our head right off, just like that.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:37 | 4802796 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Most "farmland" is now basically a sterile sponge.  Absent fertilizers and abundant water - there just aren't that many lifeboats left for the passengers here on the Titanic.

If you think you can farm your own food through the P.A.W., you better get crackin.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:42 | 4802804 espirit
espirit's picture

Amen, Bro.

If more people spent time producing their own food, localized Co-ops would re-balance dietary needs.

Of course we have too many useless eaters though.

History teaches us genocide via war usually cures that. 

"Fight or Die", the slaves were told.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:21 | 4802561 gcjohns1971
gcjohns1971's picture

And the top 5 reasons why food costs are lockstep with the oil price ARE:


The fields are plowed by (DRUMROLL) -   Oil-Powered Machines.

The fields are fertilized by (DRUMROLL) -  Oil-Derived and processed fertilizer

The Fields are harvested by means of (DRUMROLL) -  Oil-Powered Machines

The Animals are fed with (DRUMROLL) -  Oil-produced grains from the fields

And processed into foods by - Oil-powered machines.


Buy acreage...



Wed, 05/28/2014 - 15:32 | 4802780 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Don't forget what powers how the land is irrigated and how all this stuff gets to market. . . 

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:36 | 4802604 Last of the Mid...
Last of the Middle Class's picture

This has absolutely nothing to do with inflation! It's because the cost of producing food is going up due to cold and draught, depending on where you live. Oh, and because there is a tendency amongst the middle class to purchase higher quality foodstuffs as the recovery takes hold. Fucking A!

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:50 | 4802642 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

The numbers suggest you are entirely 100% incorrect. But that's okay, you can believe whatever you want to.

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 14:54 | 4802654 detached.amusement
detached.amusement's picture

this is rich, confuse correlation and causation

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