John Michael Greer on the Future of Energy and Progress

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30 Jan 2016, 4:43 pm

I think John might be on to something - if not the whole puzzle at least a significant challenge we'll be dealing with in our lifetimes. While we've got solar and wind in progress reading Bill Gates' last commentary the scale of batteries for storage to economic feasibility is 10:1 - he's adamantly pushing for cash-propulsion on these technologies but it's questionable as to whether that'll happen properly 20 years from now, 40 years, 100, or possibly never.

Regardless, if there's a significant gap between the fall of fossil fuels and the uptick to replacement rate for solar and wind I do wonder just how much of what JMR is talking about in this lecture might actually come to pass or how our economies and lifestyles will contract to fit the changes in things like the price and scarcity of fuel and power supply both for transportation and the grid in general.


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31 Jan 2016, 1:35 am

A good view, but I see more than energy driving progress.

Scarcity drives progress, through demand.

When production provides excess goods, the market is driven by lower prices, the idea of fashion and making the goods sold last year outdated, and the end result is, we have too much stuff.

Luxury goods try to absorb excess wealth, such as autos that sell for three or ten times the price of a normal functioning auto, and do not do anything extra, last longer, and end up in the same race to the scrap yard.

Gem studded gold plated garden forks, some gold made into a bracelet selling for many times the price of gold.

Those who cannot have the ultimate SUV, can take advantage of cheap food, a larger than ever selection, for Gluttony is basic consumerism.

The economy has always been consumer driven, to the point where driven consumers are our most common product. Scarcity used to keep this in check, also, if you bought one plow, you used it till it wore out.

Overproduction was said the cause of the Great Depression, Trade Routes and Markets the cause of most wars.

When earnings per person topped out about 1970, Debt was pushed, Credit Cards, to keep consumption going.

China, Walmart, cheaper goods to drive a market where lower consumers could buy larger items, at a discount, and on credit.

We are not failing because of energy, as this video thinks, humans are just becoming saturated consumers.

Some do not know how to say enough, such as the third of Americans who are a hundred pounds over weight.

Some things, Smart Phones, replace watches, radios, TVs, computers, cameras, and work as phones.

Some very high quality goods used to be rare. Ebay is where I buy top line boots and clothing, at 75% to 90% off.

I am a doubter, so I do own a top quality backpack, tent, sleeping bag, outdoor clothes, boots that will last for years, cooking and first aid gear. If I have to walk off into the woods to survive, it is a good start. I cannot pack much food, but living for a few weeks I might find more.

After basic life security, I have production machines to produce books, web sites, animation, art, as Media will likely continue.

I have more than I wear, use, need, of just about everything. I now only buy things that are better than what I have. Also, I got it all cheap on Ebay. I did not support the manufacturing economy, and all the related taxes, I am a post consumer consumer. I paid cash.

I am not the only one, shopping malls have been closing at the rate of several thousand a year. Now it is hundreds of Walmarts. Each one of those was some towns tax gold mine, that let them ignore the citizens. Now they have to put a Bond Issue before the people to pay for the air base for the Police fighter planes.

This years Walmarts alone were said to be a billion square foot of retail, that no one wants.

The Baltic Dry Goods Index, has stopped. It is a measure of ships hauling cargo, and it seems they are all in port at anchor. The US Rail Cargo index, Over the Road Trucking, all the same. Demand has died.

There is no scarcity of manufactured goods, raw material, fuel, food, to the point where they are all running at a loss to keep market share.

Japan is issuing negative interest bonds. The Federal Reserve has raised rates to 0.25%, which says, money is worthless as an income source. They are pumping the stock market, where vast amounts of money can be made to disappear. They are the same people who bought oil futures at $100 with easy money.

Public Debt. Bush the younger doubled it, from $5 to $10 Trillion, Obama doubled that to $21 Trillion.

This compares to total consumer debt, credit cards, of $1 Trillion, and Student Loans of $1 Trillion.

In fifteen years We The People were saddled with a Public Debt ten times our personal debt.

I do not think brewing some beer and having a garden is going to alter this.

The problem is not the limits of growth, it is the direction.

I, and many others are looking to downsize. Buying the largest house you can afford to barely make the payments and get food stamps did not work for the consumer. It did work for Canadian Plywood and lumber manufacturers. It worked for Mortgage Brokers, Banks, and Mortgage backed Bonds. Till it crashed.

The only thing worth owning, free and clear, is dirt, dirt that has water, and will grow food. A few acres, a two car garage shop with upstairs living quarters, a wood stove, and the world economy crashes.

A recent saying, "Broke is the new rich." No debts, no credit, few assets, is freedom.

While it is not the path to riches and power, you can own one thing of great value, your life.

I disagree with Greer's reasons the future will be worse, I see economic failure due to over production, we would agree on a low energy lifestyle being the best.