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Chris Martenson Lecture On Why The Next 20 Years Will Be Marked By The Collapse Of The Exponential Function

Tyler Durden's picture


In this video courtesy of GoldMoney, Chris Martenson, economic analyst at and author of ‘The Crash Course’, explains why he thinks that the coming 20 years are going to look completely unlike the last 20 years. In his presentation he focuses on the so-called three “Es”: Economy, Energy and Environment. He argues that at this point in time it is no longer possible to view either one of those topics separately from one another.

Since all our money is loaned onto existence, our economy has to grow exponentially. Martenson proves this point empirically by showing a 99.9% fit of the actual growth curve of the last 40 years to an exponential curve. If we wanted to continue on this path, our debt load would have to double again over the next 10 years. By continually increasing our debt relative to GDP we are making the assumption that our future will always be wealthier than our past. He believes that this assumption is flawed and that the debt loads are already unmanageable.

Martenson explains how exponential growth works and why it is so scary that our economy is based on it. In an example he illustrates how unimaginably fast things speed up towards the end of an exponential curve. He shows that an exponential chart can be found in every one of the three “E’s” for instance in GDP growth, oil production, water use or species extinction. Due to the natural limitations on resources, Martenson comes to the conclusion that we are facing a serious energy crisis.

This energy predicament is namely that the quantity of oil as well as the quality of oil are in decline. He shows that oil discoveries peaked in 1964 and oil production peaked 40 years later. Martenson also shows how our return on invested energy is rapidly declining – the “cheap and easy” oil fields have already been exploited. In 1930 the energy return for oil was 100:1 or greater. Today it is already down to 3:1 and newer technologies such as corn-based ethanol only provide a 1.5:1 return. Martenson predicts that the time in between oil shocks will get shorter and shorter and that oil prices will go much higher.

Not only oil but also other natural resources are being rapidly used up as well. At the current projected pace of use, known reserves for many metals and minerals will be gone within the next 10 to 20 years. The energy needed to get these non-renewable resources out of the ground is growing exponentially. So we live in a world that must grow, but can’t grow and is subject to depletion. The conclusion out of all this is that our money system is poorly designed and that we need to rethink how we do things as quickly as possible.

After finishing his presentation Chris Martenson answers questions regarding a rise in efficiency, alternative technologies and oil prices. He also responds to questions regarding electricity, shale gas, gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and uranium and the race for global resources.

This video was recorded on November 16 at the Gold & Silver Meeting 2011 in Madrid.


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Wed, 11/30/2011 - 13:43 | 1931131 jmc8888
jmc8888's picture

We never needed monetarism.  What you speak of is a way to increase the money supply as needed to provide for growth of all things.


But you need not need the dogma of monetarism, nor any of the 'game' that goes along with it.


American Credit System trounces the British Imperial Monetarism (fraudulent debt based) by every measure.


We don't need monetarism in any form, in fact, monetarism has been holding the human species back big time for thousands of years.  Without monetarism, who knows where our space program would be...considering monetarist concerns had us shut down the Apollo program before Neil ever walk on the moon.

Monetarism removes our goals, and says 'there's no money' for it, just push paper, and create more money for IT.  Monetarism is not efficient, it is in fact ultra inefficient.  It doesn't aid man economically, it is ONLY a hindrance.

Both Keynesian and Austrian, not to mention any other kind of monetarism, are basically speed limits on the economy, by and for the oligarchy.   Monetarism itself is an act of taking the power of fire back from mankind.

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 13:38 | 1931100 jmc8888
jmc8888's picture

Oh yeah, and there is no shortage of water, and there won't be even beyond our childrens, childrens, childrens, childrens, childrens x 100.  Only people being stupid and not desalinizing the water.

There is plenty of resources and energy for mankind, but instead of sitting with our thumb up our ass pushing paper, we actually have to DO SOMETHING.   Imperial monetarism will never take us there, only to extinction.

The oligarchy still curse the legend of Prometheus for giving us plebes the power of fire, and wish to take it back from us.

Glass-Steagall, not a fascist head in the sand woe is me approach.   All that work, and none on any solution, Chris needs to get his act together, because in the end he's probably doing more harm than good. 

Fusion, Fusion Arc + Other celestial bodies for resources...not to mention the OTHER 95+ percent of the earth's crust, desalinization are all paths the human species can take.  But Chris forgets about these things, or doesn't see them as feasible.   Like a person in 1905 who says man will never fly, even if there is a hot air balloon already over his head. 

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 13:44 | 1931135 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yeah, and a few sprinkles of unicorn dust will take care of everything....

I would rebutt some of your statements but a closer examination reveals nothing of any real content, just wishful thinking...


Wed, 11/30/2011 - 15:03 | 1931605 afroloco
afroloco's picture

It also helps to have colonies all over the world, no?


Wed, 11/30/2011 - 21:03 | 1933336 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

'as a scientists' pleaseeeeeee


social science is NOT science. statistics is NOT analytical math. 


otherwise. i agree with this douche.

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 21:23 | 1933404 Lost Wages
Lost Wages's picture

It troubles me toward the end (around 1:01) when he says that he thinks Gold is a good investment now, because it will be monetized, and he will recommend Silver to his children and grandchildren, i.e. 10-20 years out. I've heard the opposite from most people, that silver's price should increase at a greater rate sooner than gold. Do you believe Chris Martenson or Max Keiser when it comes to silver's investment potential?

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 21:38 | 1933440 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

"quality is an issue" . nah, there's plenty of slave labor. the problem is absolute oil quantity. and we can get it out of the tar sands or anywhere else, we can get enough of it if we only turn people into slaves and destroy enough land. 


we can do it!. 


Wed, 11/30/2011 - 21:50 | 1933473 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

we didn't move from wood to coal. we used peat between wood and coal. and we were using spermaceti before coal for candle wax before petroleum.

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 10:32 | 1934710 redrob25
redrob25's picture

Why aren't people looking at solutions already at hand? Thorium and Natural gas would work just fine. Natural gas for cars and trucks, and thorium powering the grid and any public transportation. We may have an issue with planes and kerosene but I am sure we could come up with a workable solution. I think we could, especially in the resource-rich US, have a viable economy while shutting down a lot of air traffic. We have incredible means within our own borders. 

In addition, some areas are rich with geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind. 

I've been through the crash course, written my own book, and done quite a lot of research. I understand fourth turnings. But I don't have quite the defeatist mentality that some do in regards to solving either the food or energy issues. Those both have viable solutions that people, including Congress, aren't spending enough time on. 

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 16:15 | 1936061 Lost Wages
Lost Wages's picture

Someone else asks the natural gas question during the Q&A toward the end of the video, after the presentation and after explaining exponential growth.

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 18:21 | 1936525 sweet_cheese
sweet_cheese's picture

Thorium bitchez.

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 18:39 | 1936601 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Thorium aint liquid fuel..... Bitchez...

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 23:47 | 1937234 redrob25
redrob25's picture

It doesn't need to be. If you can use it to replace nat gas, you use the nat gas, hybrid, and electric technology for mobile. 


Then of course we have a lithium or other battery metal shortage of course .. 

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 23:47 | 1937235 redrob25
redrob25's picture

It doesn't need to be. If you can use it to replace nat gas, you use the nat gas, hybrid, and electric technology for mobile. 


Then of course we have a lithium or other battery metal shortage of course .. 

Fri, 12/02/2011 - 00:13 | 1937295 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Put together a model in Excel that simulates start ups for all your neat technologies... Fold in growth and decline rates. It is pretty straight forward...

Let me know when we get to 20% of transport based on electrics for any reasonable CAGR.  And sell the world on a crash course on an unproven nuclear technology...

Maybe in time for your grandkids, assuming you are 25-30...  

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 23:46 | 1937229 redrob25
redrob25's picture

So according to him, we can use natural gas as a bridge fuel just like i stated. Sounds good, sign me up. 


Where was the  mention of thorium anywhere in that presentation? I know we can't just roll out thorium reactors from the factories in a short time frame, but this is a very viable long term solution. 



Sun, 12/04/2011 - 22:54 | 1945613 Seer
Seer's picture

Quit fixating on your FIXES!  And when that HIGH wears off, then what?  Of course, you're NOT going to get to the next high: when you're pretty much junkied out your brains have no capacity to resolve the REAL problem that you're in.

GROWTH.  Did you not get it?

Transportation fuels are but a fraction of the total oil use.  Close your eyes, spin around and then lay your hand on whatever is closest.  Chances are pretty high that that object that your hand is touching was made using oil.

Just like with the crackheads pushing ethanol, those pushing NG fail to realize how significant NG is in our food production (nitrogen fertilizers being the top item).  Pull NG away from food production so that you can whisk your ass around in a car,, while starving to death?

Big problems from small minds...

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