Fragility, Decay, Collapse

The interview of Tim Garrett above may be of some interest, although it’s been around a while.

Here is a link to a 2013 paper: Thermodynamics of long-run economic innovation and growth.,-73,715

There is a lot of mathematics in this paper but also good written interpretations.

From the paper we have this figure (pg. 23) in which the x-axis represents the rate of return on investment and the Y-axis the rate of technological advancement.


I believe what this shows is technological innovation pushing to the right as new tools are used to consume existing gradients more efficiently and open up new gradients if they exist.  This trend is always facing the headwind of diminishing returns as each new iteration of technology becomes more expensive and provides less net profit. When innovation fails to provide any new energy/resources, then diminishing returns wins and you approach a zero return on investment and zero GDP growth. This is a time of fragility as indicated by the small box in the center. Any rate of return less than zero means technology has failed to open up any new energy vistas and decay and/or collapse commence. Seems like we’re about at the point of decay and collapse now.


It looks like technology began to fail around 1980, at least in the case of oil where production (equals consumption) overcame technologies best efforts to find more reserves. At that point we were consuming from developed legacy fields and collapse was baked into the cake. Even though it’s easily determined that future production would be curtailed even with the use of fracking technology, we continued to grow our civilization. All of those large finds from about 1935 to 1980 have been used to build endless numbers of technological cells, distribution systems and all sorts of complexity. Now the black production curve has pretty much peaked far above the annual reserve additions. Will more innovation besides fracking save us? Not likely. Return on investment is pushed towards zero. In some cases we are already experiencing negative interest rates or return on investment which will push us into decay.

These are some of Garrett’s conclusions from the paper:

“Global GDP growth requires energy consumption to grow super-exponentially, or at an accelerating rate. GDP growth is sustainable for as long as energy reserve discovery exceeds depletion.”
“When growth rates slow and rates of return approach zero, civilization becomes fragile with respect to externally forced decay. It lies along a tipping point that might easily lead to a mode of accelerating decay or collapse.”
Externally forced decay seems to be ramping up with flood and wind damage from storms, fire damage and warfare. The old adage that starting a war will spur the economy no longer holds in a time of falling energy reserves – it will most likely just push us from decay into collapse.

“Innovation and collapse are two sides of the same coin. Increased internal connectivity allows for explosive growth when times are good, but also for exceptionally fast decline when times turn bad.”
One other thing to consider with our networked economies is that on national levels Liebig’s Law of the Minimum has been overcome with international trade allowing economies to achieve sizes by trading for the resources that would have limited their growth in their own geographic area. When the “minimums” are reintroduced through trade dispute or interruption of supply by depletion or war, the effect may be catastrophic. The minimum, the amount that can be obtained within a countries borders may call for a much, much smaller overall economy and population.
It also seems like the young RNA, fresh out of college, are backing up in their parent’s cells, unable to find work that will support them in the system built when times were good. If they inherit their parent’s homes they likely won’t be able to maintain them as decay sets in. Not only will they not make enough to expand the system, they won’t be able to afford the “connections” that make the legacy economy work.



Perspiration (formerly vomitus) of the Gods



Birth of the Universe

The more I see the products of civilization, the more I see the vomitus perspiration of the Gods, a half-digested meal of fossil fuels ejected onto the landscape in a sudden and uncontrollable manner. The self-organized characteristics of a system are identifiable within the mess,  like the distribution systems and cells where most of the metabolic activity and tool building occur, and where the human RNA lay down to rest at night before their mechanical alarm clocks wake them again in the morning. I’m sure that by now we know more about ribozymal activity than was revealed by Taylor’s time and motion studies and all subsequent related investigations. But somehow we cannot diminish our own self-esteem by recognizing the corollaries that exist between our civilization and cellular systematic life. But let’s return to the machinations that have spewed forth the toxic metabolism and infrastructure.

It is clear that an ancestral species of the geneus Homo could have continued to exist in the natural ecosystem without information and tools beyond that occupying the nuclei of their cells. That could have been a long-lasting and sustainable relationship. But through no fault of its own, this ancestral ape was nudged towards tool-use and then description and recording of such tools and the processes needed to produce them. It has been said that Homo erectus used the same primitive axe for nearly five-hundred thousand years. Even though humans have been moving towards technology for at least two-million years, why did it take so long to discover the fossil fuels and begin utilizing them? Is it simply a matter of obtaining a high enough level of net energy that provides the metabolic firepower to do the “extra” things necessary to record the tool related information, so that it may then subsequently evolve? In other words, the use of primitive spear points, axes and scraping tools, utilized against the stock of apex “meat” was still inadequate to provide the energy for scribes and temple builders, let alone skyscrapers full of engineers? If net energy had to be advanced a notch, it probably would have been accomplished by attacking the soil gradient and with the use of fire in a localized place where “investements” , including information, could be handed from one generation to the next. Eventually, if there are sufficient gradients to consume, there arise engineers and scientists whose jobs involve mapping reality and recording it and then examining information in order to produce new tools and structural components that can attack other energy/resource gradients. Is it any wonder that the fall of civilizations has often been attributed to drought which makes the soil gradient useless?


Magura caves, Bulgaria, about 8,000 BP. They already have some nasty tools to use against the other large animals. Lots of meat means lots of little conduits, but farming means even more.

But over the two-million years of human evolution, it seems that the speed and extent of development into systematic status was slow but accelerated rapidly with the discovery of fossil fuels. Suddenly there was enough energy to create specialists of every description, working in all areas of information, creating more capable tools and structures. In the old ecosystem the general rule of the jungle was, “if your not fit to escape, we’re going to eat you”. A rather unfeeling rule but, for the most part, the ecosystem has no feelings. However, humans often do have feelings and sometimes ponder the cruelty of the ecosystem and are themselves often cruel. Once they obtained the energy and tools, what did humans do? They didn’t have “feelings” for the natural world, but rather used their newfound power to escape into their technological cells and from there destroy and enslave their old cruel nemesis while assuring themselves of their  chosen status.

So here we are, beings, conduits, formed by the maximum power (entropy) principle, conducting ourselves in a very predictable manner, scouring the face of the planet to consume anything that can be readily digested. Humans have barely enough feeling or empathy to prevent them from killing each other, let alone the entire remainder of the ecosystem which has conveniently been put into the “them” category that humans love to use as an open invitation for butchery.

Even though humans are a social species, their behavior is a two-sided coin alternating between cooperation and competition. No doubt we were increasingly pulled together to pull-off the transformation to technological existence, but this cohesive force has not overcome the natural competition for advancement in the social hierarchy. I’ve never heard of a case of ants from the same colony with clonal DNA cheating on each other or fighting for a greater share of the resources. Individual humans with their unique DNA are expected to struggle with each other for the greatest rewards even as they cooperate in the face of greater adversaries. It would also seem that God loves liars, thieves, philanderers, rapists, warmongers, and the like because the good people that restrain themselves and save assets simply are not getting the job of gradient reduction done fast enough. Of course, with modern societies, smooth functioning requires “peace” so that the human RNA may go about their work of taking down the gradients. But when the gradients are exhausted the individual conduit should be prepared to protect themselves, their mates and children from other dissipative structures that want their energy and powers of reproduction. Also it is so very common in nature for young conduits to be eaten or thrown out of the nest by new mates who take over the resource and energy environment for their own young. It seems we occupy a world of mindless, competitive conduits.


Who’s going to be the winner? Let’s have Donald Trump go against Lloyd Blankfein in the smack down of the billionaires, winner take all. Since they already  have the gold, we’ll award the winner Kim Kardashian, something like a booby prize.

The human mind seems to find many ways to justify its greedy, nefarious activities. It seems they won’t stop fighting until there’s nothing to fight over.

Build More Roads – We Need Growth


The map above depicts major U.S. highways connecting the various metabolic hubs.


This map depicts major roadways in Canada.

Larger maps can be seen at:

I’m always amazed at the speed and infiltration of this vascular system into the organic tissues of new geographic areas. There are very few areas that these tiny distribution channels have not penetrated. They’re built to access the resource gradients found there. After the road is built, typically a few frontier technological cells will be built; homes, storage buildings, barns and then the technological enzymes (tractors, chainsaws, cultivators, rifles) will pour forth onto the fresh, nutrient rich area and begin the harvest. Raw material is pulled into the technological, cellular system where it can be distributed along these myriad roadways to other cells involved in the overall metabolism.

Although I like to compare man’s escapades to a cancerous growth due to the relatively sudden evolution to technological, systematic status, the growth that has resulted has gone far beyond that of a common malignancy. If even 1/100 of the scope of growth we see on the geographic landscape had occurred in a multicellular organism, it would have already expired and taken the cancer with it into the great beyond. But as you can see from the maps above, the “cancer” has sent a vascular distribution channel (road) into just about every tissue that has anything to offer. It’s as if a distribution system similar to that of multicelluar organisms comprised of a heart/pump, major arteries, lesser arteries and capillaries had grown into another body for the sole purpose removing all nutrients for its own metabolic activity. It’s as if a human cancer had produced not just a few tumors that interfere with the indispensable functioning of the integrated body, but rather that the exponentially growing cells had penetrated every last cubic millimeter of flesh without the patient yet expiring.

The maps above only show the major roadways. Spreading out from these major arteries in every direction are the capillaries that leave no stone unturned in their search for resources to pull into the cancerous growth. The entire ecosystem is being eaten alive by the digestive juices pouring from the technological cells.

And what do the politicians promise their citizens? More growth. It’s even a principle of the cancer to build more roads to spur more growth (bring more resources into the cancer.) And what can anyone find sustainable about this malignant operation? Do humans think that they will be able to pour more enzyme onto the landscape? New and improved enzyme to extract every last bit of resource? What is sustainable when the human and associated technological conduits burn through everything they can access while dumping the CO2 into the atmosphere and dumping the other toxic wastes willy-nilly into the bodily environment. The ecosystem is dying and all the idiots in Washington and other capitals can say is that we need more growth. Even after the ecosystem is dead, the human cancer will likely continue processing necrotic tissue until it too ceases to function in the exhausted, putrid environment.

This entire civilization is a one-trick pony and the show is almost over. Look again at the maps and the complex, metabolic hubs (cities) sucking the life from the landscape with its tiny capillary roads and try to imagine just how sustainable any of that really is. It’s not.


Farm land, where the cancer systematically deploys tools to utilize the soil and fresh water gradients. Most raw materials are then taken into the vascular system for transport to factories for conversion into techno-mass.


Infiltration of cancerous cells and vascular system into ecosystem tissues. Each cell houses RNA, of which some will remain in the home cells while others travel to dedicated factory or office cells to do the business of the cancer, finding new gradients and opportunities for growth, production of tools, production of more cells and roads.

Competition, Evolution, Extinction



Charles Darwin

From Salthe’s “Darwin and some leading ideas of contemporary Western culture.”

(and here is the link to Salthe’s website via Dave, good reading and ideas here.)

I conclude with thoughts concerning why one might be concerned today about these relations. Darwin’s natural selection idea can be summed up as — ‘whatever succeeds is good’, ‘success is its own reward’ – success here meaning short-term success

. As such, it is hardly a ‘theory’! — except when it gets detailed by theneoDarwinians into a principle that competition is the source of success. Evolutionary psychologists point out that cooperation has evolved in many species, but that is because it succeeds –against non-cooperators in the same species. Importantly, this is not only a leading idea / belief of our culture, but when readinto biological evolution — the process which produced us — it becomes a mythological theme. The current relevance of this is that it is our capitalist economy that appears to be destroying our natural environments around the globe,and this economy is based in competition, which becomes idolized by being as well the source of we ourselves, in the neoDarwinian theory of evolution. Here a pragmatic principle tends to become sacralized, and it is in this that Darwin’s (asNietzsche would have said, ‘English shopkeeper’) concept can be said to have become dangerous to our continued cultural survival. As well, in its hectic productivity and search for energy, we could fairly interpret our economic system as earnestly pursuing the goal of universal thermodynamic equilibration, despite the fact that that condition would eliminate us all.

I’ve expressed this idea myself, that cooperation is only engaged to out-compete those that are less able to cooperate. Cooperation results in the elimination of many potential states of freedom that could have been taken by the individuals acting alone, but in cooperative unison results in even greater entropy production as energy gradients are made accessible and degraded. But are international animosities unavoidable in the competition for energy, red in Abrahms tank (tooth) and ICBM (claw)? It has been the rule in both the ecosystem and the technosystem to this point in time.


Cheshire Unit, WWI, The Somme

In order to crystallize the “cooperation” amongst nations for the purpose of consuming gradients and dissipating heat, there would need to be a gradient greater than all of the fossil fuels put together, a supernational technological organism cooperating to work upon a gradient that could satisfy the appetites of its members would have to form. With regards to the sun,  I don’t think the universe needs humans on earth to process sunlight through their machines when it is done most effectively through the conduits of the ecosystem. Although there do seem to be some inklings of a Manhattan style project to harness sunlight and also one for fusion, these have not led to a new world order, but rather provide pleasant fantasy for human’s indefatigable optimism bias. 

But as humans begin to fight over remaining fossil fuels, this will not facilitate a future evolution in technologies as occurs in the ecosystem but rather will put an end to our short-lived technological civilizations. Having failed to coalesce this unification of the world prior to fossil fuels peaking, the cooperation, as in the Eurozone, is likely to go by the wayside and give way to warfare. To bring all of these actors into cooperation requires greater wealth and energy flows than was available from fossil fuels without toxic externalities.


Ireland and England at night. You can plainly see just how extensively the cancer has spread by the light by-product of metabolic processes feeding on fossil fuels.

The steady delivery of energy from the sun provided a boundary to the development of life on earth. Atoms became molecules which became cells which became organisms, all ultimately limited in extent by the earth’s daily dosing of solar radiation. Humans became unbounded when they became systematic and have served the insatiable desires of the limbic system as they have accessed the seemingly infinite supplies of fossil fuels. Mankind became a malignant cancer and continues to this day to consume everything at the most rapid rate possible. 

Fighting for the dregs of remaining energy is counterproductive in the technological system because there won’t be another generation of conduits regardless of which nation burns the remains. It all goes away when the fuels are gone.

In addition, a freely evolving technosystem is completely incompatible with biological life on earth. How many centuries of plastic water bottles, millions upon millions of solar panels, toxic chemicals, CO2 etc. can a biological system sustain. It is already dying after only a couple of hundred years of technological growth and evolution. Big, fast growing and undisciplined malignancies have a tendency to undo their parent systems. (Disorder them so they can’t process energy and resources any longer.) Biological life will come back and fill-in some of the gaps and the new species do not need to be “intelligent”. The intelligence evolved only to produce the tools to get at the fossil fuels and devise a million different ways to burn them. Intelligence of the technological type just won’t be needed in this little part of the universe in the future.

Being a cancer feels great in the short run, but in the long run it’s not a winning strategy. Parents are having little conduits today in expectations that they will be fully employed, reducing resource and energy gradients in the future, instead of working down Cheetoh and Pepsi gradients in their basements. Stepping away from the virtual realities of their protective cocoons, they will emerge to find desolation and starvation.


Annapolis graduation – Anchors and hats away. A job you can count on in the future.

How Many Conduits Do You Have

Information, RNA and tools and the cells that contain them serve the function of creating conduits that maximize the flow of energy from a highly energetic source to a cold sink that accepts the waste heat. It’s a thermodynamically favorable arrangement of matter, even considering the amount of energy it takes to build it. The extant biological forms are “profitable”, if not they go extinct. Those conduits that are best at acquiring energy and dissipating it are also those that can reproduce themselves most prolifically from the profit derived from the energy and resources that flow through them.

Human societies are no different in that they use information, RNA (humans) and tools at the human scale to attack energy and resource gradients to maximally degrade energy from high density fossil fuel deposits, converting it to waste heat. All of the structures built by humans facilitate the acquisition and degradation of high grade energy. Self-organizing systems like the ecosystem and the technosystem evolve to maximize the acquisition and flow of energy. Metabolism, cellular and technological, is the sum total of movements to build and distribute materials for building conduits, reproducing conduits, moving conduits (in pursuit of energy) all fed by the primary source of energy (ecosystem/sun, technosystem/fossil fuels). Even though complexity is created in the conduits, entropy overall is accelerated as conversion of high grade energy to low grade waste heat. Prior to the use of fossil fuels, the emerging technological system relied upon wood.


A very profitable brand of conduits that has expanded rapidly based upon the amount of profit it has been able to skim is Wal-Mart. Fed by products made with low-low wages in China, the company was able to offer low-low prices in the U.S.

Biological and technological conduits will evolve and reproduce and those forms that are best adapted to the environment and can skim the most profit from the energy flow will reproduce to a greater extent than others. Technological forms like Wal-Mart can likewise evolve and reproduce based upon the profits generated by the energy that flows through their stores and distribution channels. One store becomes ten, becomes one hundred, becomes one thousand. It expands because it is best at maximizing the energy flow, deriving a profit and reproducing. Same story for Starbucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken and so on. Those structures less capable of processing energy and deriving profit grow slowly, if at all, and may also go bankrupt or become extinct.


Early logging operation in Queensland. These human RNA are very hungry for a profit as their numbers expand exponentially. The wood is used for both building cellular and other structures and in firing the metabolism of steam driven tools, heating and cooking. The tree they stand upon had evolved to skim a profit from the solar radiation it collected. The humans, in their malignant form, equipped with rapidly evolved tools, will skim a profit and grow by essentially consuming themselves – the ecosystem. Malignant cancers  always perish as the system which gave birth to them dies.

Humans have found thousands of ways to channel the fossil fuel energy through the metabolisms of their technological cells (factories/workshops). For work performed in the cells, each human is given a stipend of paycheck with which to vote for their favorite products. Typically, instead of maximizing their own reproduction (children), they’ll instead choose from a variety of product-oriented mental masturbation and neural opioid release instead of pursuing the natural orgasmic opioid release associated with copulation and production of offspring. The variety of opioid possibilities has greatly expanded with technological civilization. Humans will defeat reproductive success, the only measure of success in the ecosystem, through the use of various barriers to conception. Instead of the limbic system tricking the cortex into pursuing sexual relations, the cortex can now trick the limbic system into providing the reward without the associated offspring. “What’s it going to be honey, another kid or a trip to Cancun every year for twenty years?” The typical human will choose the trips, even though they will be less represented in the species DNA in the future, if there is one.


Large families happen when pleasure is religiously pursued. Each offspring is a potentially successful conduit that will both assist and compete against other conduits depending upon the closeness of their DNA – typically.

The Golden Pacifier

I’ve been watching several of the Vice News video clips on Youtube lately. Liberia, North Korea….. You may think that these people are somehow different from various developed world populations. But I’ve come to the conclusion that all populations are susceptible to molding into an apparently insane state of mind. Whether it be the followers of former General Butt Naked in Liberia or the followers of Kim Jong-Il in North Korea, the followers of ISIS in the Middle East, or the followers of Jim Jones in Guiana. There always seems to be a strong leader, a group think and a reluctance on the individual level to diverge from the prevalent belief system. Generally people do not want freedom of mind, but rather the comfort of belonging to a group (no matter how insane or immoral) that is part of a movement to satisfy their desires and alleviate their fears. Young males are often the first to take part as they are naturally inclined to strive for power, wealth and mating opportunities which, in declining economies, may not be available without taking short-cuts (like picking-up a gun and taking what you want). Instead of picking up a gun, Kim Jong-Il wants to pick-up a nuclear missile and take what he wants. Maybe he’ll grow out of it. This is further evidence, if we needed any, of the subconscious limbic system pulling the strings to get what it wants. In other words, I don’t care if we have to believe in unicorns and fairies as long as we get what we want. Many children will believe in Santa Claus long after their rational minds are giving them hints, because they know if they pretend to believe, they’ll get what they want.

Many people will put their faith in something like gold and believe post-collapse we will just revert to an earlier model of commerce and everything will be all right, especially for those possessing the gold. These people are likely to be disappointed because if gold does become very valuable, then those that believe in lead shot will soon deprive them of it. It is more likely, in poor conditions, that General Mosquito, General Rambo or General Butt Naked will show-up at your door and want not only your gold, but your children for the nights “ceremonies” and feasts. I have no doubt that those in the West that are susceptible to belief and group think would also do heinous acts without hesitation. The U.S. military’s Abu Ghraib prison is another good example of group think taking over and the dehumanizing of the opposition. But in any case, listening to people that want constant reassurance about gold is ridiculous. Gold is mostly what is seen in the picture below.




The world is full of people that are willing to believe irrational things in order to get what they want, including the assuaging of the fear of death with a resurrection into heaven. Once again the limbic system is in control. Where does the limbic control of the mind stop? In collapse.

There is an equally absurd belief in technological progress, the same technology kept alive by fossil fuels that is poisoning the biosphere and is of limited supply. Technology doesn’t progress, it just serves the Maximum Power Principle and makes our eventual terminal destination arrive that much faster. There’s a belief for that too – colonizing space so we can continue growing.

And finally a picture of a cute and cuddly friend for our limbic brains, for the emotional side that doesn’t know how to speak in words and really doesn’t know anything about anything. I just feels.


All of the dog lovers hoarding gold must love this short blog post by now.


Here’s a link to the Vice HBO Korea/basketball short video.

Just don’t worry, Kim Jong-Il will get his nuclear warhead on a missile, Dennis Rodman will get another piercing, the executives will lie again regarding the next Fukishima (radiaton is good for you) and everybody gets a dog for their touchie-feely needs. It’s a limbic world, most of the rest is just made-up.

You can witness the limbic system at work here too in eating dog. The rationalization is that some dogs are pets and some dogs are food. That’s O.K. because we’ve got to make a living. What would they do if they got hungry enough?






Collapsing Pyramids

Dissipative structures exist as conduits to maximize the flow of energy in nature. Those structures that are best adapted to derive an energy profit beyond their operating and maintenance needs, are able to reproduce most and dominate in the competition for resources and energy. Within the same niche, those most successful at growing and reproducing will eventually prevail. Cooperation (amongst cells) may enable a structure that is more successful than the same group of cells existing independently.

Human technological cells (factories, parent companies) will likewise try to profit and plow money back in to new growth until they have pushed others from their particular niche. Some populations (corporations) expand while other contract in numbers due to differences in profitability.

The energy that human technological civilization is most rapidly converting to entropy in their races to profit and expansion will soon be gone, converted to lots of conduits (factory cells, infrastructure), waste gases and heat. In its expected course defined by the maximum power principle it will eat everything as quickly as possible and then the extant conduits will stop growing, die and deteriorate.

There is a comparison to made with plants regarding the metabolic changes resulting from steadily decreasing levels of light used for photosynthesis. The primary producers of the ecosystem are roughly equivalent to the primary producers of the technosystem, which would include producers of natural gas, coal and oil. We can and do pretend that the fossil fuels will always be there on a daily basis like the sun. This is a mistake. The sun does rise regularly and provide an input of energy to the ecosystem’s primary producers. Almost the entirety of the herbivores and carnivores feed upon the ample production of the plants and single- celled autotrophs. Anything reducing that productive capacity would necessarily reverberate throughout the ecosystem, resulting in species extinction, less complexity and perhaps collapse of the trophic levels above.

What if the amount of light available to plants steadily fell just as fossil fuel primary production will steadily fall?  What would happen to the primary production? Can a plant starve? In the graph below you can see a steady increase in photosynthesis (red line)  up to about 2,000 foot-candles of light intensity and then additional light input does not increase the photosynthetic rate. The green part of the graph represents photosynthesis greater than respiration, or production above a resting metabolic rate. All of that green area feeds both the growth and reproduction of the plant and the food requirements for the entire remainder of the ecosystem. Leafs can be grazed upon without harming the tree which is more than able to compensate. But at a certain “compensation point” light intensity is only enough to enable the plant to meet is respiratory needs. If light energy were allowed to fall this low, there would be no production for the remainder of the ecosystem and if the light level fell even further respiration needs would overwhelm photosynthesis and the plant would begin to lose dry matter and begin to starve to death. Plants can be starved of sunlight for a while and make use of stored energy reserves.



By necessity, as the light intensity diminishes, the amount of food produced for the overlying ecosystem is proportionally reduced and one would expect a collapse in populations and perhaps extinctions and elimination of trophic levels. The technosystem also relies upon net energy made available by fossil fuel producers. At a peak of net energy production, equivalent to 2000 foot-candles in the plant system, primary production is at its greatest allowing for maximum technomass and complexity in the overlying technosystem. Because 2,000 foot-candles of sunlight have been showing up daily on the planet for billions of years, the photosynthesis based system eventually reaches maturity.

Since the human system has a limited pool of energy, it will not eventually stabilize at a high level of production like the plants. Instead the flow of energy will diminish, equivalent to a falling flow of photons in the plant example, and the amount of energy supporting the technosystem will slide backwards leaving bankruptcy, abandoned infrastructure and many human RNA out of work. The light intensity in foot-candles can be thought of as EROEI. In the plant example, at a foot-candle level of about 400, respiration exceeds photosynthesis and not only is there no growth, there is no longer an ecosystem. The plant makes only enough to keep the plant alive. This would be like fossil fuel corporations making only enough to support themselves, leaving nothing for the remainder of the technosystem. Eventually, when the flow of energy gets low enough, the plant or fossil fuel extracting primary producer starves and dies (yellow area).


This energy pyramid can represent both the ecosystem and the technosystem. In the technological system, most consumers will go extinct as the net energy from primary producers falls. Most of civilization will collapse long before primary producer EROEI goes to zero. The plants have no such problem as they are assured 2000 foot-candles of flow per day which allows for enough production to support the pyramid of life above them. However, the human technological fiasco will likely damage plant primary production greatly even though 2000 foot-candles will be incoming daily (ocean acidification, soil erosion, rapid climate change.) Humans think the fossil fuel sun will be out again tomorrow and they can use their ingenuity to “fix” the ecosystem. Arrogance and hubris.


The Pyramid of Life gives way to the “Pyramid of Skulls” – Painting by Paul Cezanne.

We can only speculate as to where we are on this primary production energy flow curve. If 2000 foot-candles (techno-equivalent) was the peak, are we now moving backwards and starving the technosystem, the technological pyramid of life, of what it needs to survive? How much bankruptcy (extinction) and unemployment will we endure before hitting the compensation point? There is already rumbling from the human RNA within the cells and our primary producers cannot turn a profit or produce the required amount of net energy to support the entire technosystem. Instead of a gentle slide back down the energy curve, we may experience something more like a shark-fin curve, popularized by Ugo Bardi. At a rapid level of descent we will find it difficult to reintegrate ourselves as the “static” apex predator in a damaged and hobbled natural ecosystem.



Prosperity Shining

Even though the lights at night as seen by satellite do not correspond exactly to GDP, they do provide some idea regarding the growth of the technological malignancy. The malignant cells within our bodies are not bioluminescent and must be labeled with a radioactive tracer like fludeoxyglucose, an analogue of glucose. It’s just our luck that technological growth and cells are for the most part bioluminescent with variations in intensity indicating, to some degree, differences in metabolic activity. Our scientists, the one’s that investigate and record natural phenomena to add to our analog world, have had the good sense to develop the technology of sensing to include satellites capable of recording this luminous phenomenon. Even though they are quite adept at designing, building and deploying the technology, they have not been able to adequately interpret the data. For instance the picture below was found on a NASA website.


“Prosperity Shining” and “Megacancer” – two sides of the same coin.

Imposed upon the satellite imagery of worldwide, metastatic malignancy are found the words “Prosperity Shining”. Hmmm. I will have to agree that cancers, and especially our technological one, have runs of prosperity. After all, all of the restraints are removed and growth ensues, destroying the delicate complexity that enables life. But it does feel good, in a certain sensational way, to devour and wreck everything in your path on a one way trip to ……………death.

The picture below is of South Korea, before and after. After what, I’m not quite sure, 5 years, 10 years, it doesn’t really matter. By damned if it doesn’t look like a lung pet scan with numerous tumors and small spots of metastatic growth. There’s really nothing more that the human RNA like more than more wealth pumped into their cells from the reservoirs of fossil fuels and the ecosystem. The pathologist (myself) has carefully evaluated this radiograph below and can confidently report that the condition is Stage Four.


But Korea is the tale of two countries, one (South Korea) megacancerous, the other suffering from involuntary controls via dictatorial control. It surprises me that no metastasizing cancer has liberated North Korea’s resources with freedom and democracy. It must mean they don’t have anything worth taking and spreading into that sparse landscape is more trouble than it’s worth.



India, between 1994 and 2010 has shown very robust growth, no doubt pulling many RNA into cells to work in luminous environments. The cancer seems to be spreading and the metabolism growing in intensity. It doesn’t seem that there could be another doubling of growth within this political boundary, let alone support of existing development for more than a decade of two.

india 2010


I’ve included a couple of links to large satellite views of night lights. It appears that a lack of water (required for human RNA and industrial processes) and extreme cold are limiting factors in technological cancer metastasis. I think one image is 2.1 gb, so be forewarned.



In the Shade of the Coconut Tree


I’ve suggested that many people are not open to exploring various cataclysmic economic and environmental scenarios because they prefer to be in denial. But there is another possibility that may work in concert with denial or alone. This characteristic is ignorance. I’ve recently read an article by Viatcheslav Wlassoff, PhD entitled “How does the Brain Respond to Gossip?”

According to the article two-thirds of information passed between humans is gossip about other humans. You can see this on the major television networks, rarely is there anything substantive said, but rather it is a festival of gossip – he said this, she said that, he did this and so on. It fits perfectly with the human characteristics of hierarchy and tribalism Facebook and Twitter owe their success to these human priorities.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Ministry’s Lavrov.

What are the first things they say when reporting back to President’s Obama and Putin? “That guys a jerk, he lying, you can’t trust him, and the weather, it’s awful. By the way, who won the playoffs.”  Typical low-grade monkey chatter.

From the article:

“According to the findings from these scan reports (MRI), listening to gossip about themselves heightened activity in the superior medial prefrontal cortex of the subjects’ brains. This region also responded to negative gossip about others. The subjects recorded increased activity in the orbital prefrontal cortex region of their brains in response to positive gossip about themselves.

The prefrontal cortex is one of the brain regions involved in social cognition and executive control. Social cognition is the ability to regulate our thoughts, behavior, and actions based on the real, imaginary, or assumed presence of other people. In other words, social cognition is a trait that makes us want to conform to the accepted norms and rules of society. Executive control is the ability to channelize our thought patterns, behavior, and actions based on internal goals. The neurotransmitter dopamine regulates the functionality of this region and activates the reward system.

The activation of prefrontal cortex region of the brain in response to positive gossip about oneself indicates that most human beings want to be seen as conforming to social standards of morality and success. They see more rewards in being “seen” in a positive light by the world at large than staying true to their internal moral compass.

On the other hand, we think that we are repulsed by negative gossip about others. But the fMRI images obtained during the above study bust this myth. The activation of the superior medial prefrontal cortex region in response to negative gossip about others indicates that although we are not elated by the falling-from-grace stories of other people, we are amused. This finding would seem morally unacceptable to many. After all, we don’t like to think of ourselves as fiends who gloat at others’ miseries and misfortunes.”

Apparently people are predisposed to gossip, a behavior that may have served them well in the past but which now simply interferes with understanding of greater reality and associated problems.

“We talk about other topics like music, sports, politics, and the weather in the remaining time.”

What this means generally is that people do not discuss much but the banal and trivial, moderated by the superior medial and prefrontal cortex and our old friend dopamine. Just consider the next time someone cuts you off from discussing real issues, it may be that they’re just ignorant, except for the latest gossip.


Tune in today and find out who said what about whom. But that’s about it, unless you want to know about sports or the weather.

The activation of prefrontal cortex region of the brain in response to positive gossip about oneself indicates that most human beings want to be seen as conforming to social standards of morality and success.

What this basically means is that everyone wants to be praised and accepted by their peers and to be accepted requires conforming to the standards of behavior existing in the society, even if that means being devoid of knowledge and ideas. I’m beginning to believe that one must be a loner in order to escape the wasteful monkey chatter in order to devote ones mind to thought.

Economies of Scale


As energy becomes more scarce and there is upward pressure on product price, corporations will try to compensate with increases in economies of scale and larger market share. For economies of scale to reap its full rewards, globalization is necessary for selling product into world-wide markets. This all makes sense for the few wealthy owners of the mega retailers {Amazon, Wal-Mart), corporations (GE), banks (HSBC) , manufacturers, and media. Their goal is to equip large factories with the latest in automation or low paid workers and essentially put less efficient producers out of business, taking their market share and using it to pay for their capital investment. The end result is a relatively small elite owning most of the “business” and its capital and many unemployed human RNA, expected to take advantage of the resultant marginally lower-cost items even though they no longer have income.

At some point, those that are excluded from the benefits of globalization because they’ve lost they’re incomes or have been downgraded, have thoughts of escaping the economy that fails to support them. Some will want to set up their own solar electricity production, grow their own food, collect their own water, but this runs counter to globalization and the need to spread the cost amongst many consumers. It’s likely that legislatures, captured by globalists will eventually pass laws to prohibit opting our of the “market”. You may eventually be imprisoned in BAU until it’s too late to escape it. Economies of scale investments go broke if their market share is falling. Are the massive investments made by the energy corporations falling because the “market” can no longer afford to support the investment? Why do people want to reverse globalization and the pursuit of economies of scale? Perhaps there is no longer enough net energy being produced to support those thrown from the old production lines, even though the wealthy are doing fabulously well with their large, internationalized corporations that continue to take market share from smaller, less efficient producers.

The current desire to reverse globalization in the face of decreasing net energy and bring the jobs home means that the prices of many products will go up on a per unit basis and therefore the jobs that are imagined to come home will be lost anyway. The products are only viable if they can be sold globally using massive factories at low cost. Already new technology and globalization is losing the race with decreasing net energy. The economies of scale will disappear as incomes decrease and product cannot be sold, even product produced from a globalized, highly automated corporation.

To back away from globalization probably means collapse as many products can only be produced on a globalized scale. To continue globalization in the face of falling net energy results in a huge pool of people without jobs and no means to purchase the “economies of scale” product. Prior to collapse, those owning and running the multinational corporations will likely own most everything, at least before the entire thing collapses by shrinkage of markets and/or net energy.



Economies of scale at work on a North Carolina turkey farm. On Thanksgiving Day we thank God for making humans special {systematic} so we could devise ways to consume and enslave the ecosystem, like these turkeys. But these aren’t the only turkeys. Humans are in some cases just as packed into their little cells, their lives run by clocks, and rewarded with the next shovel-full of crap to be thrown into the trough. I wonder if humans will ever be genetically modified  to work within their cellular/factory environments more pacifically and efficiently. We humans seem to be putting on weight in our enclosures, not unlike the incarcerated livestock we eat.


From Investopedia:

Q: How do economies of scale work with globalization?

A: From Sean Ross at Investopedia.

“Globalization – the integration of factors of production and inclusion of consumer groups from different markets around the world – facilitates unprecedented achievements of economies of scale for producers. Access to increased numbers of laborers, investors, markets, resources, technologies and business models through globalization can theoretically maximize productive efficiency to a level consistent with the size of the world’s population.

Economies of Scale

Economies of scale refers to the phenomenon of diminishing marginal costs associated with each additional unit of output. A company experiences economies of scale as it specializes and is able to produce extra goods with fewer and fewer input costs.

According to economic theory, economies of scale are the natural consequence of specialization and the division of labor. It is one of the chief drivers of economic growth. However, firms do not realize economies of scale in perpetuity; there is a maximum level of efficient output for any given inputs, and operations may sometimes extend too far and cause diseconomies of scale.


With access to new inputs and potentially more profitable markets, globalization can increase specialization and operational efficiency. The practical consequences of globalization include lower costs to consumers, access to capital for wealthy countries, access to jobs for poorer countries, increased competition and higher global productivity.

As globalization spreads the division of labor to a global scale, countries are able to export labor and production processes that they are relatively less profitable at and instead specialize in labor that is relatively more profitable. This result can be seen in factory jobs being driven out of the United States, which frees up capital for highly technical, highly productive fields such as IT. Companies are able to pursue higher degrees of efficiency and increase their economies of scale.”


The economies of scale production works for a while to feed ever expanding expectations of growing populations, but will eventually fail to serve consumers that have little net income and little net energy in world where externalities will be increasing the costs of production.

As temperature extremes become common (over 100F) many chickens will die as will many humans if not kept in an air conditioned environment. Most of our utilities rely upon a economies of scale economics to function. The loss of incomes means unpaid utility bills and disconnects and eventually failing infrastructure from deferral of maintenance. Black-outs and failures of service soon follow.

The reversal of globalization in favor of nationalism is likely to hasten the global economic collapse, even though lack of net energy will eventually do the same thing. Without a renewable, plentiful source of energy and population/consumption controls, the economies of scale of globalization will eventually lose their market share and be unable to cover their fixed costs. Large economies of scale investments will no longer be made as markets shrink.