Book review of Failing states, collapsing systems biophysical triggers of political violence by Nafeez Ahmed

6 06 2017

I have written at length about the collapse of Egypt over the years, and Syria too. I’ve also discussed Nafeez Ahmed’s views on the unraveling now happening in the Middle East, and my most recent item here from the Doomstead Diner has attracted a lot of attention….. including from Alice Friedemann who pointed out to me that she has published an extensive review of Ahmed’s new book “Failing states, collapsing systems biophysical triggers of political violence”. It’s a long read (the references alone are almost as long as the article and would keep you busy for weeks!), but I was totally riveted by it and felt the compulsion to republish it here as it needs to be read as widely as possible. In fact, this review is so good, you may not need to buy the book……. as I’ve been saying for a very long time now, 2020 is when things start to get really ugly, all the way to 2030, by which time it’s likely the state of the world will be unrecognisable.

The overview of biophysical factors table below is alone really telling……

If after reading this latest piece you are not convinced collapse is indeed underway, then there’s no hope for you….!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

alice_friedemann[ In this post I summarize the sections of Nafeez’s book about the biophysical factors that bring nations down (i.e. climate change drought & water scarcity, declining revenues after peak oil, etc.) The Media tend to focus exclusively on economic and political factors.

My book review is divided into 3 parts: 

  • Why states collapse for reasons other than economic and political
  • How BioPhysical factors contribute to systemic collapse in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia Egypt, Nigeria
  • Predictions of when collapse will begin in Middle East, India, China, Europe, Russia, North America

In my opinion, war is inevitable in the Middle East where over half of oil reserves exist.  Oil is life itself.  If war happens,  collapse of the Middle East, India, and China could happen well before 2030.  If nuclear weapons are used, most nations collapse from the nuclear winter and ozone depletion that would follow.   Indonesia blew up their oil refineries to keep Japan from getting oil in WWII. If Middle Eastern governments or terrorists do the same after they’re attacked, that brings on the energy crisis sooner.  Although this would leave some high EROI oil in the ground, the energy to rebuild refineries, pipelines, oil rigs, roads, and other infrastructure would lower the EROI considerably.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Ahmed, Nafeez. 2017. Failing States, Collapsing Systems BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence. Springer.

1) Why states collapse for reasons other than economic and political

Since the 2008 financial crash, there’s been an unprecedented outbreak of social protest: Occupy in the US and Western Europe, the Arab Spring, and civil unrest from Greece to Ukraine, China to Thailand, Brazil to Turkey, and elsewhere. Sometimes civil unrest has resulted in government collapse or even wars, as in Iraq-Syria and Ukraine- Crimea. The media and experts blame it on poor government, usually ignoring the real reasons because all they know is politics and economics.

In the Middle East, experts should also talk about geology.  Oil-producing nations like Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Nigeria, and Iraq have all reached peak oil and declining government revenues after that force rulers to raise the prices of food and oil.  This region was already short on water, and now climate change (from fossil fuels) is making matters much worse with drought and heat waves causing even greater water scarcity, which in turn lowers agricultural production.  Many of these nations have some of the highest rates of population growth on earth at a time when resources essential to life itself are declining.

The few nations still producing much of the oil – Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. are about to join the club and stop exporting oil so they can provide for their domestic population.

Ahmed points out that “because these and other factors are so nested and interconnected, even small perturbations and random occurrences in one can amplify effects on other parts of the system, sometimes in a feedback process that continues.  If thresholds are reached, these tipping points can re-order the whole system”.  These ecological and geological factors result in social disorder, which makes it even harder for government to do anything, such as putting more money into water and food production infrastructure, which accelerates climate change and energy decline impacts, which leads to even more violence at an accelerating rate until state failure.

2) How BioPhysical factors contribute to systemic collapse in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia Egypt, Nigeria

 

Table 1. Overview of biophysical factors (water scarcity, peak oil, population) for nations Ahmed discusses in this book

The UN defines a region as not having water scarcity above 1700 cubic meters per capita (green).  Water stressed nations have 1000 to 1700 cubic meters per capita (yellow).  Water scarcity is 500-1000 per capita (orange) and absolute water scarcity 0-500 (red).  Countries already experiencing water stress or far worse include Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Yemen, India, China, and parts of the United States. Many, though not all, of these countries are experiencing protracted conflicts or civil unrest (Patrick 2015).

SYRIA

The media portray warfare in Syria as due to the extreme repression of President Bashar al-Assad and the support he receives from Russia.  Although there has been awareness that climate change drought played a role in causing conflict, there is no recognition that peak oil was one of the main factors.

Here’s a quick summary of how peak oil and consequent declining revenues from oil production, rising energy and food prices, drought, water scarcity, and population growth led to social unrest, violence, terrorism and war.

It shouldn’t be surprising that peak oil in 1996 triggered the tragic events we see today.  After all, the main source of Syrian revenue came from their production of 610,000 barrels per day (bpd).  By 2010 oil production had declined by half. Falling revenues caused Syria to seek help from the IMF by 2001, and the onerous market reform policies required resulted in higher unemployment and poverty, especially in rural Sunni regions, while at the same time enriching and corrupting ruling minority Alawite private and military elites.

In 2008 the government had to triple oil prices resulting in higher food prices. Food prices rose even more due to the global price of wheat doubling in 2010-2011. On top of that, the 2007-2010 drought was the worst on record, causing widespread crop failures. This forced mass migrations of farming families to cities (Agrimoney 2012; Kelley et al. 2015). The drought wouldn’t have been so bad if half the water hadn’t been wasted and overused previously from 2002 to 2008 (Worth 2010). All of these violence-creating events were worsened by one of the highest birth rates growth on earth, 2.4%.  Most of the additional 80,000 people added in 2011 were born in the hardest-hit drought areas (Sands 2011).

Rinse and repeat.  Social unrest and violence led to war, oil production dropped further, so there is even less money to end unrest with subsidized food and energy or more employment, aid farmers, and build desalination plants.

Syria, once able to feed its people, now depends on 4 million tonnes of grain imports at a time when revenues continue to drop.  Syrian oil production didn’t really take off until 1968 when there were 6.4 million people.  Since oil revenues allowed their population to explode, another 13.6 million have been born.

IRAQ

Like Syria, Iraq’s agricultural production has been reduced by heat, drought, heavy rain, water scarcity, rapid population growth, and the inability of government to import food and provide goods and services as oil revenues decline.  ISIS has worsened matters and filled in the gaps of state-level failure.  Peak oil is likely by 2025.  Or sooner given the ongoing war, lack of investment to keep existing production flowing, and low oil prices (Dipaola 2016).

YEMEN 

Like Syria, Iraq, and Iran, Yemen has long faced serious water scarcity issues. The country is consuming water far faster than it is being replenished, an issue that has been identified by numerous experts as playing a key background role in driving local inter-tribal and sectarian conflicts (Patrick 2015).

Yemen is one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. In 2012, the average Yemeni had access to just 140 cubic meters of water a year for all uses and just three years later a catastrophic 86 m3, far below the 1000 m3 level minimum requirement standards.    Cities often only have sporadic access to running water— every other week or so.  Sanaa could become the first capital in the world to run out of water (IRIN 2012).

Yemen reached peak oil production in 2001, declining from 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 100,000 bpd in 2014, and will be zero by 2017 (Boucek 2009).   This has led to a drastic decline in Yemen’s oil exports, which has eaten into government revenues, 75% of which had depended on oil exports. Oil revenues also account for 90% of the government’s foreign exchange reserves. The decline in post-peak Yemen state revenues has reduced the government’s capacity to sustain even basic social investments. When the oil runs out … the capacity to sustain a viable state-structure will completely collapse.

Yemen has 25 million people and an exorbitantly high growth rate and predicted to double by 2050. In 2014 experts warned that within the next decade, these demographic trends would demolish the government’s ability to meet the population’s basic needs in education, health and other essential public services. This is already happening to over 15 million people (Qaed 2014).  Over half the Yemeni population lives below the poverty line, and unemployment is at 40% (60% of young people).

To cope, too many people have turned to growing qat (a mild narcotic) on 40% of Yemen’s irrigated land, increasing water use to 3.9 billion cubic meters (bcm), but the renewable water supply is just 2.5 bcm. The 1.4 bcm shortfall is made up by pumping water from underground water reserves that are starting to run dry.

Energy, overpopulation, drought, water scarcity, poverty, and a government unable to do much of anything without oil revenue is in a downward loop of social tensions, local conflicts and even mass displacements.  This in turn adds to the dynamics of the wider sectarian and political conflicts between the government, the Houthis, southern separatists and al-Qaeda affiliated militants.

Violence undermines food security, feeding back into the downward spiraling loop.  Making matters worse is that rain-fed agriculture has dropped by about 30% since 1970, making Yemen ever more food import dependent at a time when revenues are shrinking. The country now imports over 85% of its food, including 90% of its wheat and all of its rice (World Bank 2014). Most Yemenis are hungry because they can’t afford to buy food, which also rises in price when global prices rise.  The rate of chronic malnutrition as high as 58%, second only to Afghanistan (Arashi 2013).

Epidemic levels of government corruption, mismanagement and incompetence, have meant that what little revenue the government receives ends up in Swiss bank accounts.  With revenues plummeting in the wake of the collapse of its oil industry, the government has been forced to slash subsidies while cranking up fuel and diesel prices. This has, in turn, cranked up prices of water, meat, fruits, vegetables and spices, leading to fuel and food riots (Mawry 2015).

Is Saudi Arabia Next?

Summary: Within the next decade, Saudi Arabia will become especially vulnerable to the downward feedback loop of peak oil.  The most likely date for peak oil is 2028 (Ebrahimi 2015). But because the Saudi exports have been going down since 2005 at 1.4% a year as their own population rises and consumes more and more, world exports could end as soon as 2031 (Brown and Foucher 2008).

Saudi revenues will decline to zero, so the Saudis will be less able to buy their way out of food shortages.  Their own food production will drop as well from drought and water scarcity — the kingdom is one of the most water scarce in the world, at 98 m³ per inhabitant per year.

Most water comes from groundwater, 57% of which is non-renewable, and 88% of it goes to agriculture. Desalination plants produce 70% of the kingdom’s domestic water supplies. But desalination is very energy intensive, accounting for more than half of domestic oil consumption. As oil exports run down, along with state revenues, while domestic consumption increases, the kingdom’s ability to use desalination to meet its water needs will decrease (Patrick 2015; Odhiambo 2016).

According to the Export Land Model (ELM) created by Texas petroleum geologist Jeffrey J Brown and Dr. Sam Foucher, the key issue is the timing of when there will be no more exports because the domestic population of oil producing nations is using it all for domestic consumption.   Brown and Foucher showed that the tipping point to watch out for is when an oil producer can no longer increase the quantity of oil sales abroad because of the need to meet rising domestic energy demand.

Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest energy consumer. Domestic demand has increased 7.5% over the last 5 years, mainly due to population growth. Saudi population may grow from 29 million people now to 37 million by 2030, using ever more oil and therefore less available for export.

Declining Saudi peak oil exports will affect every nation on earth that imports Saudi oil, especially top customers China, Japan, the United States, South Korea, and India.  As Saudi oil declines, there will be few other places oil for importing nations to turn to, since other exporting nations will also be using their oil domestically.

A report by Citigroup predicted net exports would plummet to zero in the next 15 years. This means that 80% of money from oil sales the Saudi state depends on are trending downward, eventually terminally (Daya 2016). In this case, the peak oil production date could happen well before 2028, as well as violent social unrest, since so far, Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth, and its unique ability to maintain generous subsidies for oil, housing, food and other consumer items, has kept civil unrest at bay. Energy subsidies alone make up about a fifth of Saudi’s gross domestic product. But as revenues are increasingly strained by decreasing exports after peak oil, the kingdom will need to slash subsidies (Peel 2013).  Even now a quarter of the Saudi’s live in poverty, and unemployment is 12%, especially young people who have a 30% unemployment level. [Saudi Arabia recently started taxing fuel at the bowsers]

Saudi Arabia is experiencing climate change as temperatures rise in the interior and far less rainfall occurs in the north.  By 2040, local average temperatures are expected to increase by as much as 4 °C at the same time rain levels are falling, resulting in more extreme weather events like the 2010 Jeddah flooding when a year of rain fell in 4 hours.  The combination could dramatically impact agricultural productivity, which is already facing challenges from overgrazing and unsustainable industrial agricultural practices leading to accelerated desertification (Chowdhury 2013).

80% of Saudi Arabia’s food requirements are purchased through heavily subsidized imports.  Without the protection of oil revenue subsidies, and potential rises in the global prices of food (Taha 2014), the Saudi population would be heavily impacted. But with net oil revenues declining to zero—potentially within just 15 years—Saudi Arabia’s capacity to finance continued food imports will be in question.

EGYPT

Like Syria, Egypt has had increasing problems paying for food, goods, and services after peak oil in 1993 while at the same time population keeps growing.   Worse yet, there are no oil revenues at all, because since 2010 the population has been using more oil than what is produced and has had to import oil, with no oil revenues to pay for food, goods, and services.  Two-thirds of Egypt’s oil reserves have likely been depleted and oil produced now is declining at 3.4% a year.

Nor are there revenues coming from natural gas sales made up for the loss of oil revenues.  Over the past decade domestic use nearly doubled to consumption of nearly all the production (Kirkpatrick 2013a).

The Egyptian population since 2000 has grown 21% to 88 million people and isn’t slowing down, with 20 million more expected over the next 10 years.  A quarter are children half of them living in poverty and unemployed  (EI 2012) at the same time the elites have grown wealthier from IMF and World Bank policies.

In the 1960s there were 2800 cubic meters of water per capita, now just 660 – well below the international standard of water poverty of 1000 per person (Sarant 2013).   Water scarcity and population growth lave led to tens of thousands of hectares of farmland to be abandoned.  There is some water that can be obtained, but most farmers can’t afford the price of diesel fuel to power pumps  (Kirkpatrick 2013b)

Egypt was self-sufficient in food production in the 1960s but now imports 70% of its food (Saleh 2013). One of the many reasons Mubarak fell was the doubling of wheat prices in 2011 since half of Egypt’s people depend on food rations.  But the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood party and their leader Morsi couldn’t alleviate declining government revenues due to the biophysical realities of food, water, and energy shortages either.  Morsi desperately tried to get a $4.8 billion IMF loan by slashing energy subsidies and raising sales taxes, but the economic crisis made it hard to make the payments and wheat imports dropped to a third of what was imported a year ago.

This led to Morsi being ousted by army chief Abdul Fateh el-Sisi in a coup.  Like his predecessors, El-Sisi has also been unable to meet IMF demands for increased hydrocarbon production and has resorted to unprecedented levels of brutal force to crush protests. He has also rationed electricity, which led to key industries cutting production, leading to further economic losses, declining exports and foreign reserves.  Without more money, energy companies can’t be paid, so energy production continues to drop, and debt goes up, reducing the value of Egyptian currency and higher costs for imports and shortages of energy for industrial production. Egypt’s energy and economy find themselves caught in an amplifying feedback loop (Barron 2016).

How Boko Haram arose in Nigeria

Nigeria’s climate change has led to water and land shortages from desertification, which in turn has led to illness, hunger, and unemployment followed by conflict (Sayne 2011).

Perhaps the Boko Haram wouldn’t have arisen, if the Maitatsine sect in northern Nigeria hadn’t been hit so hard by ecological disasters.  To survive they fanned out to search for food, water, shelter, and work (Sanders 2013).  Niger and Chad refugees from drought and floods also became Boko Haram foot soldiers, some 200,000 displaced farmers and herdsmen.

In northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is from, about 70% of the population subsists on less than a dollar a day. As noted by David Francis, one of the first western reporters to cover Boko Haram: “Most of the foot soldiers of Boko Haram aren’t Muslim fanatics; they’re poor kids who were turned against their corrupt country by a charismatic leader” (Francis 2014)

The Nigerian military sees a correlation between regional climatic events, and an upsurge in extremist violence: “It has become a pattern; we saw it happen in 2006; it happened again in 2008 and in 2010. President Obasanjo had to deploy the military in 2006 to Yobe State, Borno State and Katsina State. These are some of the states bordering Niger Republic and today they are the hotbeds of the Boko Haram” (Mayah 201).

Drought caused desertification is decreasing food production, in turn leading to “economic decline; population displacement and disruption of legitimized authoritative institutions and social relations.” The net effect was an acceleration of the attractiveness of groups like “Boko Haram and other forms of Jihadi ideology,” resulting in escalating “herder-farmer clashes emanating from the north since 1980s” (Onyia 2015).

The rapid spread of Boko Haram also coincided with Lake Chad’s shrinking from 25,000 square km in 1963 to less than 2500 square km today, mainly due to climate change. At this rate, Lake Chad is will dry up in 20 years, and has already caused millions of people to lose their livelihoods.

The government has exacerbated problems by cutting fuel subsidies, which led to fuel shortages, angering the public who engaged in civil unrest  (Omisore 2014).

A senior Shell official said that crude oil production decline rates are as high as 15–20%.  But Nigeria doesn’t have the money to explore to find more oil to offset this high decline rate. Nigeria’s petroleum resources department said that Nigeria had reached a plateau of production in the Niger Delta and were already going down (Ahmed 2014).

About $15 billion of investment is required just to maintain current production levels and compensate for a natural decline in production of about 250,000 b/d each year. A 2011 study by two Nigerian scholars concluded that “there is an imminent decline in Nigeria’s oil reserve since peaking could have occurred or just about to occur (Akuru and Okoro 2011). A 2013 report backs this up, finding that Nigeria’s crude oil production has decreased since its peak in 2005, largely due to the impact of internal conflicts, leading to the withdrawal of oil companies and lack of investments. Since then production has fluctuated along a plateau. The UK Department for International Development report noted that new offshore fields might bring additional oil on-stream, surpassing the 2005 peak—but also noted that rising domestic demand “at some point in the future may cut into the amount of oil available for export” (Hall et al. 2014).

POPULATION. With Nigeria’s population expected to rise from 160 to 250 million by 2025 and oil accounting for some 96% of export revenue as well as 75% of government revenue, the state has resorted to harsh austerity measures. Sharp reductions in public spending, power cuts, fuel shortages and conditional new loans will probably widen economic inequalities and further stoke the grievances that feed groups like Boko Haram in the North. With domestic oil production decline undermining Nigeria’s oil export revenues and consequent fuel subsidy cuts, the public grows poorer and increases the number of young men more likely to join Islamist terrorist groups.

3) Predictions of when collapse will begin in Middle East, India, China, Europe, Russia, North America

When will  Middle-East oil producing nations fail?

Ahmed says that so far after peak oil production, Middle-Eastern economies have declined as revenues declined, leading to systemic state-failure in roughly 15 years, more or less, depending on how hard hit a nation was by additional (climate-change) factors such as drought, water scarcity, food prices, and overpopulation.

Saudi Arabia, and much of the rest of Arabian Gulf peninsula, may experience state-failure well within 10 to 20 years. If forecasts of Saudi oil depletion are remotely accurate, then by 2030 the country will simply not exist as we know it. Coupled with the accelerating impacts of climate-induced water scarcity, the Kingdom is bound to begin experiencing systemic state-failure at most within 20 years, and probably much earlier.

Marin Katusa, chief energy strategist at Casey Research, reports that “many Middle Eastern countries may stop exporting oil and gas altogether within the next few years, while some already have” (Katusa 2016). Oil analysts at Lux Research estimate that OPEC oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 70%. True OPEC reserves could be as low as 429 billion barrels, which could mean a global net export crunch as early as 2020 (Lazenby 2016).

The period from 2020 to 2030 will see Middle East oil exporters experiencing a systemic convergence of energy and food crises.

When will India & China collapse?

India and China are widely assumed to be the next superpowers, but at this stage of energy and resource depletion, can’t possibly mimic the exponential growth of the Western world.

India, South Asia, and China face enormous ecological challenges Irregularities in the pattern of monsoon rains and drought are likely to lower food production and increase water scarcity, while higher temperatures will increase the range of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and become prevalent year-round (DCDC 2013). As sea levels rise, millions of people will be displaced permanently.

These impacts will unravel regional political and economic order well within 20 years and manifest at first as civil unrest.  Depending on how the Indian and Chinese states respond, it is likely that these outbreaks of domestic disorder will become more organized, and will eventually undermine state territorial integrity before 2030.  Near-term growth will further undermine environmental health and deplete resources, making these nations even more vulnerable to climate and food crises.

European and Russian collapse timeframe

Within Europe, resource depletion has meant that the European Union as a whole has become increasingly dependent on energy imports from Russia, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Yet exports from these regions will become tighter as major oil producers approach production limits.

The geopolitical turmoil that has unfolded in Ukraine provides a compelling indication that such processes are rapidly moving from the periphery of the global system into the core. For the most part, the Euro-Atlantic core—traditionally representing the most powerful sections of the world system—has insulated itself from global crisis convergence impacts by diversifying energy supply sources. However, there is only so much that diversification can achieve when the total energetic and economic quality of global hydrocarbon resource production is declining.

Post-2030–2045

Faced with these converging crises, the Euro-Atlantic core will continue to see the creation of cheap debt-money through quantitative easing as an immediate solution to generate emergency funds to stabilize the financial system and shore-up ailing industries. This will likely play out in one of these business-as-usual scenarios:

  1. The lower resource quality (EROI) of the global energy system may act as a fundamental geophysical ceiling on the capacity of the economy to grow. It may act as an invisible brake on growth in demand, so fossil fuel prices would remain at chronically low levels, endangering the profitability of the fossil fuel industries. This would lead to an acceleration of the demise of the fossil fuel industries, which could lead to debt-defaults across industries in the financial system. Declining hydrocarbon energy production would cause a self-reinforcing recessionary economic process. This would escalate vulnerability to water, food and energy crises and hugely strain the capacity of European and American states to deliver goods and services to even their own populations, and other nations dependent as much on importing food as they are oil.
  2. Scarcity of net exports on the world market may raise oil prices and provide some sectors of ailing fossil fuel industries to be profitable again. But previous slashing of investments and cutbacks in exploration will mean that only the most powerful sections of the industry would be able to capitalize on this, which means production is unlikely to return to former high levels. Price spikes would trigger economic recession, causing a drop in demand, while lower production levels would exacerbate the economy’s inability to grow substantially, if at all. In effect, the global economy would likely still experience a self-reinforcing recessionary economic process.

In both scenarios, escalating economic crises are likely to invite the Euro-Atlantic core to respond by using debt-money to shore-up as much of the existing core financial and energy industries as possible. Prices spikes and shortages in water, food and energy would be experienced by general populations as a dramatic lowering of purchasing power, leading to an overall decrease in quality of life, an increase in poverty, and a heightening of inequality. This would undermine their internal cohesion, giving rise to new divisive, nationalist and xenophobic movements, and lead states into a tightening spiral of militarization to police domestic order. As instability in the Middle East and elsewhere intensifies, manifesting in further unrest, political violence and terrorist activity, states will also be drawn increasingly into short- sighted military solutions. In particular, scarcity of net oil exports on the world market will heighten geopolitical and military competition to control and/or access the world’s remaining hydrocarbon energy resources. With the Middle East still holding the vast bulk of the world’s reserves, the region will remain a central flashpoint for such competition, even as major producers such as Saudi Arabia approach systemic state-failure due to reaching inevitable production declines.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that as we near 2045, the European and American projects will face escalating internal challenges to their internal territorial integrity, increasing the risk of systemic state-failure. Likewise, after 2030, Europe, India, China (and other Asian nations) will begin to experience symptoms of systemic state-failure.

References

Adel, Mohamed. 2016. Eni to Increase Zohr Field Gas Production to 2bn Cubic Feet Per Day by End of 2019. Daily News Egypt, May 9. http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2016/05/09/ eni-increase-zohr-field-gas-production-2bn-cubic-feet-per-day-end-2019/ .

Agrimoney. 2012. Unrest, Bad Weather Lift Syrian Grain Import Needs. Agrimoney.com, March 14. http://www.agrimoney.com/news/unrest-bad-weather-lift-syrian-grain-import-needs–4278.html

Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq. 2009. The Globalization of Insecurity: How the International Economic Order Undermines Human and National Security on a World Scale. Historia Actual Online 0(5): 113–126.

Ahmed, Nafeez. 2010. A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It. London: Pluto Press.

———. 2011. The International Relations of Crisis and the Crisis of International Relations: From the Securitisation of Scarcity to the Militarisation of Society. Global Change, Peace & Security 23(3): 335–355. doi: 10.1080/14781158.2011.601854 .

———. 2013a. Peak Oil, Climate Change and Pipeline Geopolitics Driving Syria Conflict. The Guardian, May 13, sec. Environment. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth- insight/2013/may/13/1

———. 2013b. How Resource Shortages Sparked Egypt’s Months-Long Crisis. The Atlantic, August 19. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/how-resource-shortagessparked-egypts-months-long-crisis/278802/

———. 2014. Behind the Rise of Boko Haram—Ecological Disaster, Oil Crisis, Spy Games. The Guardian, May 9, sec. Environment. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/may/09/behind-rise-nigeria-boko-haram-climate-disaster-peak-oil-depletion

———. 2015. The US-Saudi War with OPEC to Prolong Oil’s Dying Empire. Middle East Eye. May 8. http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/us-saudi-war-opec-prolong-oil-s-dyingempire-222413845

———. 2016a. Climate Change Fuels Boko Haram. Women Across Frontiers Magazine. February 29. http://wafmag.org/2016/02/boko-haram-filling-vacuum-nigerias-state-collapses/

———. 2016b. At the Root of Egyptian Rage Is a Deepening Resource Crisis. Quartz. Accessed August 16. http://qz.com/116276/at-the-root-of-egyptian-rage-is-a-deepening-resource-crisis/

———. 2016c. Return of the Reich: Mapping the Global Resurgence of Far Right Power. Investigative Report. London: Tell MAMA and INSURGE Intelligence. https://medium.com/ return-of-the-reich

———. 2016d. FEMA Contractor Predicts ‘Social Unrest’ Caused by 395% Food Price Spikes. Motherboard. Accessed August 21. http://motherboard.vice.com/read/fema-contractor- predicts-social-unrest-caused-by-395-food-price-spikes

Akuru, Udochukwu B., and Ogbonnaya I. Okoro. 2011. A Prediction on Nigeria’s Oil Depletion Based on Hubbert’s Model and the Need for Renewable Energy. International Scholarly Research Notices, International Scholarly Research Notices 2011: e285649. doi: 10.5402/2011/285649 .

Al-Sinousi, Mahasin, and Amira Saleh. 2008. International Expert Warns Of Egypt’s Oil And Gas Reserves Depletion In 2020. Al-Masry Al-Youm, May 17, 1434 edition. http://today.almasryalyoum.com/article2.aspx?ArticleID=105585

Arashi, Fakhri. 2013. Wheat Imports Cause Yemen Heavy Losses—National Yemen. http://nationalyemen.com/2013/03/03/wheat-imports-cause-yemen-heavy-losses/

Aston, T.H., Trevor Henry Aston, and C.H.E. Philpin. 1987. The Brenner Debate: Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-Industrial Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Aucott, Michael L., and Jacqueline M. Melillo. 2013. A Preliminary Energy Return on Investment Analysis of Natural Gas from the Marcellus Shale. Journal of Industrial Ecology 17(5): 668– 679. doi: 10.1111/jiec.12040 .

Azevedo, Ligia B., An M. De Schryver, A. Jan Hendriks, and Mark A.J. Huijbregts. 2015. Calcifying Species Sensitivity Distributions for Ocean Acidification. Environmental Science & Technology 49(3): 1495–1500. doi: 10.1021/es505485m .

Badgley, Catherine, and Ivette Perfecto. 2007. Can Organic Agriculture Feed the World? Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 22(2): 80–85.

Bardi, Ugo. 2014. Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth Is Plundering the Planet. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Barnett, Tim P., and David W. Pierce. 2008. When Will Lake Mead Go Dry? Water Resources Research 44(3): W03201. doi: 10.1029/2007WR006704

Barron, Robert. 2016. Facing Rumors of Money Troubles, Egypt Denies Tension with Foreign Oil, Gas Firms. Mada Masr. January 27. http://www.madamasr.com/sections/economy/ facing-rumors-money-troubles-egypt-denies-tension-foreign-oil-gas-firms

Berger, Daniel, William Easterly, Nathan Nunn, and Shanker Satyanath. 2013. Commercial Imperialism? Political Influence and Trade during the Cold War. American Economic Review 103(2): 863–896. doi: 10.1257/aer.103.2.863

Berman, Arthur, and Ray Leonard. 2015. Years Not Decades: Proven Reserves and the Shale Revolution. Houston Geological Society Bulletin 57(6): 35–39.

Bhardwaj, Mayank. 2016. Food Imports Rise as Modi Struggles to Revive Rural India. Reuters India. February 2. http://in.reuters.com/article/india-farming-idINKCN0VA3NL

Bindi, Marco, and Jørgen E. Olesen. 2010. The Responses of Agriculture in Europe to Climate Change. Regional Environmental Change 11(1): 151–158. doi: 10.1007/s10113-010-0173-x

Bose, Prasenjit. 2016. A Budget That Reveals the Truth about India’s Growth Story. The Wire. March 2. http://thewire.in/23392/what-the-budget-tells-us-about-indias-growth-story/ .

Boucek, Christopher. 2009. Yemen: Avoiding a Downward Spiral. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. September. http://carnegieendowment.org/2009/09/10/yemen-avoidingdownward-spiral-pub-23827

Bove, Vincenzo, Leandro Elia, and Petros G. Sekeris. 2014. US Security Strategy and the Gains from Bilateral Trade. Review of International Economics 22(5): 863–885. doi: 10.1111/ roie.12141

Bove, Vincenzo, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, and Petros G. Sekeris. 2015. ‘Oil above Water’ Economic Interdependence and Third-Party Intervention. Journal of Conflict Resolution, January 27: 0022002714567952. doi: 10.1177/0022002714567952 .

Bove, Vincenzo, and Petros G. Sekeris. 2016. Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions. IPI Global Observatory. Accessed July 19. https://theglobalobservatory.org/2015/03/civil-wars-oil-above-water-military-intervention/

Brandt, Adam R., Yuchi Sun, Sharad Bharadwaj, David Livingston, Eugene Tan, and Deborah Gordon. 2015. Energy Return on Investment (EROI) for Forty Global Oilfields Using a Detailed Engineering-Based Model of Oil Production. PLOS ONE 10(12): e0144141.

Brown, Jeffrey J., and Samuel Foucher. 2008. A Quantitative Assessment of Future Net Oil Exports by the Top Five Net Oil Exporters. Energy Bulletin. January 8. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2008-01-08/quantitative-assessment-future-net-oil-exports-top-five-net-oil-exporters

Brown, James H., William R. Burnside, Ana D. Davidson, John P. DeLong, William C. Dunn, Marcus J. Hamilton, Norman Mercado-Silva, et al. 2011. Energetic Limits to Economic Growth. BioScience 61(1): 19–26.

Buckley. 2016. Coal Decline Steepens in 2016 in India, China, U.S. Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis. May 16. http://ieefa.org/coal-decline-steepens-2016-2/

Capellán-Pérez, Iñigo, Margarita Mediavilla, Carlos de Castro, Óscar Carpintero, and Luis Javier Miguel. 2014. Fossil Fuel Depletion and Socio-Economic Scenarios: An Integrated Approach. Energy 77: 641–666.

Castillo-Mussot, Marcelo del, Pablo Ugalde-Véle, Jorge Antonio Montemayor-Aldrete, Alfredo de la Lama-García, and Fidel Cruz. 2016. Impact of Global Energy Resources Based on Energy Return on Their Investment (EROI) Parameters. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 15(1–2): 290–299.

Chen, Shuai, Xiaoguang Chen, and Xu. Jintao. 2016. Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture: Evidence from China. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 76: 105–124. doi: 10.1016/j.jeem.2015.01.005

Chowdhury, Shakhawat, and Muhammad Al-Zahrani. 2013. Implications of Climate Change on Water Resources in Saudi Arabia. Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering 38(8): 1959– 1971.

Clarkson, M.O., S.A. Kasemann, R.A. Wood, T.M. Lenton, S.J. Daines, S. Richoz, F. Ohnemueller, A. Meixner, S.W. Poulton, and E.T. Tipper. 2015. Ocean Acidification and the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction. Science 348(6231): 229–232. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa0193

Cleveland, Cutler J., and Peter A. O’Connor. 2011. Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of Oil Shale. Sustainability 3(11): 2307–2322.

Coleman, Isabel. 2012. Reforming Egypt’s Untenable Subsidies. Council on Foreign Relations. April 6. http://www.cfr.org/egypt/reforming-egypts-untenable-subsidies/p27885

Cook, Benjamin I., Toby R. Ault, and Jason E. Smerdon. 2015. Unprecedented 21st Century Drought Risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains. Science Advances 1(1): e1400082. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1400082

Coumou, Dim, Alexander Robinson, Stefan Rahmstorf. 2013. Global increases in record-breaking 0668-1.

Csereklyei, Zsuzsanna, and David I. Stern. 2015. Global Energy Use: Decoupling or Convergence? Energy Economics 51: 633–641.

Cunningham, Nick. 2016. Decline of Coal Demand Is ‘irreversible. MINING.com. February 19. http://www.mining.com/web/decline-of-coal-demand-is-irreversible/

Dawson, Terence P., Anita H. Perryman, and Tom M. Osborne. 2014. Modelling Impacts of Climate Change on Global Food Security. Climatic Change 134(3): 429–440. doi: 10.1007/ s10584-014-1277-y.

Daya, Ayesha, and Dana El Baltaji. 2016. Saudi Arabia May Become Oil Importer by 2030, Citigroup Says. Bloomberg.com. Accessed August 11. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-09-04/saudi-arabia-may-become-oil-importer-by-2030-citigroup-says-1-

DCDC. 2013. Regional Survey—South Asia Out to 2040. Strategic Trends Programme. UK Ministry of Defence, Defence Concepts and Doctrines Centre.

Department Of State, Bureau of Public Affairs. 2014. Syria. Press Release|Fact Sheet. U.S. Department of State. March 20. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3580.htm

Diffenbaugh, Noah S., Daniel L. Swain, and Danielle Touma. 2015. Anthropogenic Warming Has Increased Drought Risk in California. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(13): 3931–3936. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1422385112

Dipaola, Anthony. 2016. Iraq’s Oil Output Seen by Lukoil at Peak as Government Cuts Back. Bloomberg.com. May 19. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-19/iraq-s-oiloutput-seen-by-lukoil-at-peak-as-government-cuts-back

Dittmar, Michael. 2016. Regional Oil Extraction and Consumption: A Simple Production Model for the Next 35 Years Part I. BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality 1(1): 7. doi: 10.1007/ s41247-016-0007-7

Dodge, Robert. 2016. Unconventional Drilling for Natural Gas in Europe. In The Global Impact of Unconventional Shale Gas Development, ed. Yongsheng Wang and William E. Hefley, 97–130. Natural Resource Management and Policy 39. Springer International Publishing.

EASAC. 2014. Shale Gas Extraction: Issues of Particular Relevance to the European Union. European Academies Science Advisory Council.

Ebrahimi, Mohsen, and Nahid Ghasabani. 2015. Forecasting OPEC Crude Oil Production Using a Variant Multicyclic Hubbert Model. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering 133: 818– 823.

El. 2012. Youth Are Quarter of Egypt’s Population, and Half of Them Are Poor | Egypt Independent. Egypt Independent. August 12. http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/youth-are-quarter-egypt-s-population-and-half-them-are-poor

EIA. 2016. Petroleum & Other Liquids Weekly Supply Estimates. US Energy Information Administration. http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_sum_sndw_dcus_nus_w.htm  .

Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. 2015. Saudi Arabia May Go Broke before the US Oil Industry Buckles. The Telegraph, August 5, sec. 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/02/11/saudi-arabia-may-go-broke-before-the-us-oil-industry-buckles/

Famiglietti, J.S. 2014. The Global Groundwater Crisis. Nature Climate Change 4(11): 945–948.

Farmer, J., M. Doyne, C. Gallegati, A. Hommes, P. Kirman, S. Ormerod, A. Sanchez Cincotti, and D. Helbing. 2012. A Complex Systems Approach to Constructing Better Models for Managing Financial Markets and the Economy. The European Physical Journal Special Topics 214(1): 295–324.

Feely, Richard, Christopher L. Sabine, and Victoria J. Fabry. 2006. Carbon Dioxide and our Ocean Legacy. Pew Trust. http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/PDF/feel2899/feel2899.pdf

Foster, John Bellamy, Brett Clark, and Richard York. 2010. The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth. New York: NYU Press.

Fournier, Valérie. 2008. Escaping from the Economy: The Politics of Degrowth. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 28(11/12): 528–545.

Francis. 2014. Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda 2.0—Islamic Extremism in Africa. Humanosphere. May 7. http://www.humanosphere.org/world-politics/2014/05/boko-haram-alshabaab-and-al-qaeda-2-0-islamic-extremism-in-africa/

Friedman, Thomas L. 2013. The Scary Hidden Stressor. The New York Times, March 2. http:// www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/opinion/sunday/friedman-the-scary-hidden-stressor.html

Fritz, Martin, and Max Koch. 2014. Potentials for Prosperity without Growth: Ecological Sustainability, Social Inclusion and the Quality of Life in 38 Countries. Ecological Economics 108: 191–199.

Gagnon, Nathan, Charles A.S. Hall, and Lysle Brinker. 2009. A Preliminary Investigation of Energy Return on Energy Investment for Global Oil and Gas Production. Energies 2(3): 490– 503.

García-Olivares, Antonio, and Joaquim Ballabrera-Poy. 2015. Energy and Mineral Peaks, and a Future Steady State Economy. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 90, Part B (January): 587–598.

Ghafar, Adel Abdel. 2015. Egypt’s New Gas Discovery: Opportunities and Challenges | Brookings Institution. Brookings. September 10. https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/egypts-new-gasdiscovery-opportunities-and-challenges/

Guilford, Megan C., Charles A.S. Hall, Peter O’Connor, and Cutler J. Cleveland. 2011. A New Long Term Assessment of Energy Return on Investment (EROI) for U.S. Oil and Gas Discovery and Production. Sustainability 3(10): 1866–1887.

Gülen, Gürcan, John Browning, Svetlana Ikonnikova, and Scott W. Tinker. 2013. Well Economics Across Ten Tiers in Low and High Btu (British Thermal Unit) Areas, Barnett Shale, Texas. Energy 60: 302–315.

Hall, Charles A. S., and Kent A. Klitgaard. 2012. Energy and the Wealth of Nations. New York, NY: Springer New York. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-4419-9398-4

Hall, Charles A.S., Cutler J. Cleveland, and Robert K. Kaufmann. 1992. Energy and Resource Quality: The Ecology of the Economic Process. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado

Hall, Charles A.S., Jessica G. Lambert, and Stephen B. Balogh. 2014. EROI of Different Fuels and the Implications for Society. Energy Policy 64: 141–152.

Hallock Jr., John L., Wei Wu, Charles A.S. Hall, and Michael Jefferson. 2014. Forecasting the Limits to the Availability and Diversity of Global Conventional Oil Supply: Validation. Energy 64: 130–153.

Ho, Mae-Wan. 1999. Are Economic Systems Like Organisms? In Sociobiology and Bioeconomics, ed. Peter Koslowski, 237–258. Studies in Economic Ethics and Philosophy. Berlin: Springer.

Holling, C.S. 2001. Understanding the Complexity of Economic, Ecological, and Social Systems. Ecosystems 4(5): 390–405.

Holthaus, Eric. 2014. Hot Zone. Slate, June 27. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_ tense/2014/06/isis_water_scarcity_is_climate_change_destabilizing_iraq.single.html

Homer-Dixon, Thomas. 2011. Carbon Shift: How Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis Will Change Canada (and Our Lives). Toronto: Random House of Canada.

Hook, Leslie. 2013. China’s Appetite for Food Imports to Fuel Agribusiness M&A. Financial Times, June 6.

Hughes, J. David. 2013. Energy: A Reality Check on the Shale Revolution. Nature 494(7437): 307–308.

ICEF. 2016. Growing Chinese Middle Class Projected to Spend Heavily on Education through 2030. ICEF Monitor. http://monitor.icef.com/2016/04/growing-chinese-middle-classprojected-spend-heavily-education-2030/

IEA. 2009. World Energy Outlook. Washington, DC: International Energy Agency.

———. 2015. India Energy Outlook. World Energy Outlook Special Report. International Energy Agency. https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/india-energy-outlook2015.html

Inman, Mason. 2014. Natural Gas: The Fracking Fallacy. Nature 516(7529): 28–30.

IRIN. 2008. Bread Subsidies Under Threat as Drought Hits Wheat Production. IRIN. June 30.

———. 2010. Growing Protests over Water Shortages. IRIN. July 27. http://www.irinnews.org/news/2010/07/27/growing-protests-over-water-shortages .

———. 2012. Time Running Out for Solution to Water Crisis. IRIN. August 13. http://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2012/08/13/time-running-out-solution-water-crisis

Jackson, Tim. 2009. Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. London: Earthscan.

Jackson, Peter M., and Leta K. Smith. 2014. Exploring the Undulating Plateau: The Future of Global Oil Supply. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 372(2006): 20120491.

Jancovici, Jean-Marc. 2013. A Couple of Thoughts in the Energy Transition. Manicore. http:// www.manicore.com/anglais/documentation_a/transition_energy.html

Jefferson, Michael. 2016. A Global Energy Assessment. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment 5(1): 7–15

Johanisova, Nadia, and Stephan Wolf. 2012. Economic Democracy: A Path for the Future? Futures, Special Issue: Politics, Democracy and Degrowth, 44(6): 562–570.

Johnstone, Sarah, and Jeffrey Mazo. 2011. Global Warming and the Arab Spring. Survival 53(2): 11–17.

Kaminska, Izabella. 2014. Energy Is Gradually Decoupling from Economic Growth. FT Alphaville, January 17. http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/01/17/1745542/energy-is-gradually-decouplingfrom-economic-growth/

Katusa, Marin. 2016. How to Pocket Extraordinary Profits from Unconventional Oil. Casey Energy Report.

Kavanagh, Jennifer. 2013. Do U.S. Military Interventions Occur in Clusters? Product Page. http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9718.html

Kelley, Colin P., Shahrzad Mohtadi, Mark A. Cane, Richard Seager, and Yochanan Kushnir. 2015. Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(11): 3241–3246.

King, Carey W. 2015. Comparing World Economic and Net Energy Metrics, Part 3: Macroeconomic Historical and Future Perspectives. Energies 8(11): 12997–12920.

King, Carey W., John P. Maxwell, and Alyssa Donovan. 2015a. Comparing World Economic and Net Energy Metrics, Part 1: Single Technology and Commodity Perspective. Energies 8(11): 12949–12974.

———. 2015b. Comparing World Economic and Net Energy Metrics, Part 2: Total Economy Expenditure Perspective. Energies 8(11): 12975–12996.

Kirkpatrick, David D. 2013a. Egypt, Short of Money, Sees Crisis on Food and Gas. The New York Times, March 30. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/world/middleeast/egypt-short-of- money-sees-crisis-on-food-and-gas.html

———. 2013b. Egypt, Short of Money, Sees Crisis on Food and Gas. The New York Times, March 30. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/world/middleeast/egypt-short-of-money-sees-crisison-food-and-gas.html

Klump, Edward, and Jim Polson. 2016. Shale-Gas Skeptic’s Supply Doubts Draw Wrath of Devon. Bloomberg.com. Accessed July 11. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2009-11-17/shalegas-skeptics-supply-doubts-draw-wrath-of-devon-energy

Kothari, Ashish. 2014. Degrowth and Radical Ecological Democracy: A View from the South— Blog Postwachstum. Postwatchstum, Wuppertal Institute. June 27.

Kundu, Tadit. 2016. Nearly Half of Indians Survived on Less than Rs38 a Day in 2011–2012. http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/l1gVncveq4EYEn2zuzX4FL/Nearly-half-of-Indians-survived-on-less-than-Rs38-a-day-in-2.html

Lagi, Marco, Karla Z. Bertrand, and Yaneer Bar-Yam. 2011. The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East.

Lazenby, Henry. 2016. Opec Believed to Overstate Oil Reserves by 70%, Reserves Depleted Sooner. Mining Weekly. Accessed August 22. http://www.miningweekly.com/article/opec-believed-to-overstate-oil-reserves-by-70-reserves-depleted-sooner-2012-10-04

Lelieveld, J., Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis, and G. Zittis. 2016. Strongly Increasing Heat Extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st Century. Climatic Change 137(1–2): 245–260.

LePoire, David, and Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, USA. 2015. Interpreting ‘big History’ as Complex Adaptive System Dynamics with Nested Logistic Transitions in Energy Flow and Organization—Emergence: Complexity and Organization. Emergence, March. https://journal.emergentpublications.com/article/interpreting-big-history-as-complexadaptive-system-dynamics-with-nested-logistic- transitions-in-energy-flow-and-organization/

Lesk, Corey, Pedram Rowhani, and Navin Ramankutty. 2016. Influence of Extreme Weather Disasters on Global Crop Production. Nature 529(7584): 84–87. doi: 10.1038/nature16467

Li, Minqi. 2014. Peak Oil, Climate Change, and the Limits to China’s Economic Growth. New York: Routledge.

MacDonald, Gregor. 2010. Think OPEC Exports Won’t Decline? You’re Living In A Dreamworld. Business Insider. August 14. http://www.businessinsider.com/think-opec-exports-wontdecline-youre-living-in-a-dreamworld-2010-8

Matsumoto, Ken’ichi, and Vlasios Voudouris. 2014. Potential Impact of Unconventional Oil Resources on Major Oil-Producing Countries: Scenario Analysis with the ACEGES Model. Natural Resources Research 24(1): 107–119.

Mawry, Yousef. 2015. Yemen Fuel Crisis Ignites Street Riots. Middle East Eye. February 12. http:// www.middleeasteye.net/news/yemen-fuel-crises-ignites-ongoing-street-riots-393941730

May, Robert M., Simon A. Li, Minqi. 2014. Peak Oil, Climate Change, and the Limits to China’s Economic Growth. New York: Routledge.

MacDonald, Gregor. 2010. Think OPEC Exports Won’t Decline? You’re Living In A Dreamworld. Business Insider. August 14. http://www.businessinsider.com/think-opec-exports-wontdecline-youre-living-in-a-dreamworld-2010-8

Matsumoto, Ken’ichi, and Vlasios Voudouris. 2014. Potential Impact of Unconventional Oil Resources on Major Oil-Producing Countries: Scenario Analysis with the ACEGES Model. Natural Resources Research 24(1): 107–119.

Mawry, Yousef. 2015. Yemen Fuel Crisis Ignites Street Riots. Middle East Eye. February 12. http:// www.middleeasteye.net/news/yemen-fuel-crises-ignites-ongoing-street-riots-393941730

May, Robert M., Simon A. Levin, and George Sugihara. 2008. Complex Systems: Ecology for Bankers. Nature 451(7181): 893–895.

Mayah, Emmanuel. 2012. Climate Change Fuels Nigeria Terrorism. Africa Review. February 24. http://www.africareview.com/news/Climate-change-fuels-Nigeria-terrorism/979180-1334472- 4m5dlu/index.html

McGlade, Christophe, Jamie Speirs, and Steve Sorrell. 2013. Unconventional Gas—A Review of Regional and Global Resource Estimates. Energy 55: 571–584.

Meighan, Brendan. 2016. Egypt’s Natural Gas Crisis. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. January. http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/62534

Moeller, Devin, and David Murphy. 2016. Net Energy Analysis of Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale. BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality 1(1): 1–13.

Mohr, Steve. 2010. Projection of World Fossil Fuel Production with Supply and Demand Interactions. Callaghan: University of Newcastle.

Mohr, S.H., and G.M. Evans. 2009. Forecasting Coal Production until 2100. Fuel 88(11): 2059– 2067.

———. 2010. Long Term Prediction of Unconventional Oil Production. Energy Policy 38(1): 265–276.

Mohr, S.H., J. Wang, G. Ellem, J. Ward, and D. Giurco. 2015. Projection of World Fossil Fuels by Country. Fuel 141: 120–135

Mora, Camilo, Abby G. Frazier, Ryan J. Longman, Rachel S. Dacks, Maya M. Walton, Eric J. Tong, Joseph J. Sanchez, et al. 2013a. The Projected Timing of Climate Departure from Recent Variability. Nature 502(7470): 183–187.

Mora, Camilo, Chih-Lin Wei, Audrey Rollo, Teresa Amaro, Amy R. Baco, David Billett, Laurent Bopp, et al. 2013b. Biotic and Human Vulnerability to Projected Changes in Ocean Biogeochemistry over the 21st Century. PLOS Biol 11(10): e1001682.

Morgan, Geoffrey. 2016. Average Oil Production to Decline This Year, Grow More Slowly in the Future: CAPP. Financial Post, June 23.

Morrissey, John. 2016. US Central Command and Liberal Imperial Reach: Shaping the Central Region for the 21st Century. The Geographical Journal 182(1): 15–26.

Murphy, David J. 2014. The Implications of the Declining Energy Return on Investment of Oil Production. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 372(2006): 20130126. doi:10.1098/rsta.2013.0126.

Murphy, David J., and Charles A.S. Hall. 2011. Energy Return on Investment, Peak Oil, and the End of Economic Growth. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1219(1): 52–72.

Nandi, Sanjib Kumar. 2014. A Study on Hubbert Peak of India’s Coal: A System Dynamics Approach. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research 9(2).  http://www.academia.edu/9744358/A_Study_on_Hubbert_Peak_of_Indias_Coal_A_System_Dynamics_Approach

Nekola, Jeffrey C., Craig D. Allen, James H. Brown, Joseph R. Burger, Ana D. Davidson, Trevor S. Fristoe, Marcus J. Hamilton, et al. 2013. The Malthusian–Darwinian Dynamic and the Trajectory of Civilization. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 28(3): 127–130. doi: 10.1016/j. tree.2012.12.001

OBG. 2016. New Discoveries for Egyptian Oil Producers. Oxford Business Group. January 27. http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/overview/fresh-ideas-new-discoveries-have-oilproducers-optimistic-about-future

Odhiambo, George O. 2016. Water Scarcity in the Arabian Peninsula and Socio-Economic Implications. Applied Water Science, June, 1–14.

Odum, Howard Thomas. 1994. Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado.

Omisore, Bolanle. 2014. Nigerians Face Fuel Shortages In the Shadow of Plenty. National Geographic News. April 11. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/enerws/ener nigeria-fuel-shortage-oil/

Onyia, Chukwuma. 2015. Climate Change and Conflict in Nigeria: The Boko Haram Challenge. American International Journal of Social Science 4(2)

Owen, Nick A., Oliver R. Inderwildi, and David A. King. 2010. The Status of Conventional World Oil reserves—Hype or Cause for Concern? Energy Policy 38(8): 4743–4749.

Patrick, Roger. 2015. When the Well Runs Dry: The Slow Train Wreck of Global Water Scarcity. Journal—American Water Works Association 107: 65–76.

Patzek, Tad W., Frank Male, and Odum, Howard Thomas. 1994. Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology. Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado.

Omisore, Bolanle. 2014. Nigerians Face Fuel Shortages In the Shadow of Plenty. National Geographic News. April 11. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/enerws/ener nigeria-fuel-shortage-oil/

Onyia, Chukwuma. 2015. Climate Change and Conflict in Nigeria: The Boko Haram Challenge. American International Journal of Social Science 4(2). http://www.aijssnet.com/journal/index/329 .

Owen, Nick A., Oliver R. Inderwildi, and David A. King. 2010. The Status of Conventional World Oil reserves—Hype or Cause for Concern? Energy Policy 38(8): 4743–4749.

Patrick, Roger. 2015. When the Well Runs Dry: The Slow Train Wreck of Global Water Scarcity. Journal—American Water Works Association 107: 65–76.

Patzek, Tad W., Frank Male, and Michael Marder. 2013. Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Obeys a Simple Scaling Theory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(49): 19731–19736.

Pearce, Joshua M. 2008. Thermodynamic Limitations to Nuclear Energy Deployment as a Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Technology. International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology 2(1): 113.

Peel, Michael. 2013. Subsidies ‘Distort’ Saudi Arabia Economy Says Economy Minister. Financial Times. May 7. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f474cf28-b717-11e2-841e-00144feabdc0.html

Phys.org. 2016. Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas. Accessed August 21. http://phys.org/news/2011-07-minority-scientists-ideas.html

Pichler, Franz. 1999. Modeling Complex Systems by Multi-Agent Holarchies. In Computer Aided Systems Theory—EUROCAST’99, ed. Peter Kopacek, Roberto Moreno-Díaz, and Franz Pichler, 154–168. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 1798. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Pierce, Charles P. 2016. What Happens When the American Southwest Runs Out of Water? Esquire. June 1. http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a45398/southwest-desertwater-drought/

Pracha, Ali S., and Timothy A. Volk. 2011. An Edible Energy Return on Investment (EEROI) Analysis of Wheat and Rice in Pakistan. Sustainability 3(12): 2358–2391.

Pritchard, Bill. 2016. The Impacts of Climate Change for Food and Nutrition Security: Issues for India. In Climate Change Challenge (3C) and Social-Economic-Ecological Interface-Building. Environmental Science and Engineering. Springer.

Pueyo, Salvador. 2014. Ecological Econophysics for Degrowth. Sustainability 6(6): 3431–3483.

Qaed, Samar. 2014. Expanding Too Quickly? Yemen Times. February 25.

Qi, Ye, Nicholas Stern, Tong Wu, Jiaqi Lu, and Fergus Green. 2016. China’s Post-Coal Growth. Nature Geoscience 9.

Reganold, John P., and Jonathan M. Wachter. 2016. Organic Agriculture in the Twenty-First Century. Nature Plants 2(2): 15221.

Rioux, Sébastien, and Frédérick Guillaume Dufour. 2008. La sociologie historique de la théorie des relations sociales de propriété. Actuel Marx 43(1): 126.

RiskMetrics Group. 2010. Canada’s Oil Sands: Shrinking Window of Opportunity. Ceres, Inc. http://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/oil-sands-2010

Rockström, Johan, Will Steffen, Kevin Noone, Persson Åsa, F. Stuart Chapin, Eric F. Lambin, Timothy M. Lenton, et al. 2009. A Safe Operating Space for Humanity. Nature 461(7263): 472–475.

Ross, John, and Adam P. Arkin. 2009. Complex Systems: From Chemistry to Systems Biology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(16): 6433–6434.

Salameh, M. G. 2012. Impact of US Shale Oil Revolution on the Global Oil Market, the Price of Oil & Peak Oil.

Saleh, Hebah. 2013. Egypt Weighs Burden of IMF Austerity. Financial Times. March 11. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/464a9350-8a6d-11e2-bf79-00144feabdc0.html

Sanders, Jim. 2013. The Hidden Force behind Islamic Militancy in Nigeria? Climate Change. The Christian Science Monitor. July 8.

Sands, Phil. 2011. Population Surge in Syria Hampers Country’s Progress | The National. The National, March 6. http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/population-surgein-syria-hampers-countrys-progress

Sarant, Louise. 2013. Climate Change and Water Mismanagement Parch Egypt | Egypt Independent. Egypt Independent. February 26. http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/climate-changeand-water-mismanagement-parch-egypt

Sayne, Aaron. 2011. Climate Change Adaptation and Conflict in Nigeria. Special Report. United States Institute of Peace. http://www.usip.org/publications/climate-change-adaptationand-conflict-in-nigeria

Schneider, E.D., and J.J. Kay. 1994. Life as a Manifestation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Mathematical and Computer Modelling 19(6): 25–48.

Schneider, François, Giorgos Kallis, and Joan Martinez-Alier. 2010. Crisis or Opportunity? Economic Degrowth for Social Equity and Ecological Sustainability. Introduction to This Special Issue. Journal of Cleaner Production, Growth, Recession or Degrowth for Sustainability and Equity? 18(6): 511–518.

Schrodinger, Erwin. 1944. What Is Life? http://whatislife.stanford.edu/LoCo_files/What-isLife.pdf

Schwartzman, David, and Peter Schwartzman. 2013. A Rapid Solar Transition Is Not Only Possible, It Is Imperative! African Journal of Science, Technology. Innovation and Development 5(4): 297–302.

Shahine, Alaa. 2016. Egypt Had FDI Outflows of $482.7 Million in 2011. Bloomberg.com. Accessed August 16. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2012-03-25/egypt-had-fdioutflows-of-482-7-million-in-2011-correct-

Shaw, Martin. 2005. Risk-Transfer Militarism and the Legitimacy of War after Iraq. In September 11, 2001: A Turning-Point in International and Domestic Law? ed. Paul Eden and T. O’Donnell. Transnational Publishers. http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/12462/

Simms, Andrew. 2008. The Poverty Myth. New Scientist 200(2678): 49.

Smith-Nonini, Sandy. 2016. The Role of Corporate Oil and Energy Debt in Creating the Neoliberal Era. Economic Anthropology 3(1): 57–67.

Söderbergh, Bengt, Fredrik Robelius, and Kjell Aleklett. 2007. A Crash Programme Scenario for the Canadian Oil Sands Industry. Energy Policy 35(3): 1931–1947.

Steffen, Will, et al. 2015. January 15, 2015. Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet. Science.

Stewart, Ian. 2015. Debt-Driven Growth, Where Is the Limit? Deloitte: Monday Briefing. February 2. http://blogs.deloitte.co.uk/mondaybriefing/2015/02/debt-driven-growth-whereis-the-limit.html

Stokes, Doug, and Sam Raphael. 2010. Global Energy Security and American Hegemony. Baltimore: JHU Press. Stott, Peter. 2016. How Climate Change Affects Extreme Weather Events. Science 352(6293): 1517–1518.

Street, 1615 L., NW, Suite 800 Washington, and DC 20036 Media Inquiries. 2014. Attitudes about Aging: A Global Perspective. Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. January 30. http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/01/30/attitudes-about-aging-a-global-perspective/

Taha, Sharif. 2014. Kingdom Imports 80% of Food Products. Arab News. April 20. http://www.arabnews.com/news/558271

Tainter, Joseph. 1990. The Collapse of Complex Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tao, Fulu, Masayuki Yokozawa, Yousay Hayashi, and Erda Lin. 2003. Future Climate Change, the Agricultural Water Cycle, and Agricultural Production in China. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 95(1): 203–215.

TE. 2016. Egypt Government Debt to GDP 2002-2016. Trading Economics. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/egypt/government-debt-to-gdp

Terzis, George, and Robert Arp, eds. 2011. Information and Living Systems: Philosophical and Scientific Perspectives. MIT Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhhvb.

Thevard, Benoit. 2012. Europe Facing Peak Oil. Momentum Institute/Greens-EFA Group in European Parliament.  http://www.greens-efa.eu/fileadmin/dam/Documents/Publications/PIC%20petrolier_EN_lowres.pdf

Timms, Matt. 2016. Resource Mismanagement Has Led to a Critical Water Shortage in Asia. World Finance, July 21.

Tong, Shilu et al. 2016. Climate Change, Food, Water and Population Health in China. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, July.

Tranum, Sam. 2013. Powerless: India’s Energy Shortage and Its Impact. India: Sage.

Trendberth, Kevin, Jerry Meehl, Jeff Masters, and Richard Somerville. 2012. Heat Waves and Climate Change. https://www.climatecommunication.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Heat_ Waves_and_Climate_Change.pdf

Tverberg, Gail. 2016. China: Is Peak Coal Part of Its Problem? Our Finite World. June 20.  https://ourfiniteworld.com/2016/06/20/china-is-peak-coal-part-of-its-problem/

UN 2015. World Population Prospects. United Nations Department of Economic & Social Affairs, Population Division.

UN News Center, United Nations News Service. 2012. UN News—Despite End-of-Year Decline, 2011 Food Prices Highest on Record—UN. UN News Service Section. January 12.

Victor, Peter. 2010. Questioning Economic Growth. Nature 468(7322): 370–371.

Vyas, Kejal, and Timothy Puko. 2016. Venezuela Oil Production Drops Sharply in May. Wall Street Journal, June 14, sec. World. http://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuela-oil-productiondrops-sharply-in-may-1465868354

Wang, Jinxia, Robert Mendelsohn, Ariel Dinar, Jikun Huang, Scott Rozelle, and Lijuan Zhang. 2009. The Impact of Climate Change on China’s Agriculture. Agricultural Economics 40(3): 323–337.

Wang, Ke, Lianyong Feng, Jianliang Wang, Yi Xiong, and Gail E. Tverberg. 2016. An Oil Production Forecast for China Considering Economic Limits. Energy 113: 586–596.

Weijermars, Ruud. 2013. Economic Appraisal of Shale Gas Plays in Continental Europe. Applied Energy 106: 100–115. doi: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2013.01.025

Wiedmann, Thomas O., Heinz Schandl, Manfred Lenzen, Daniel Moran, Sangwon Suh, James West, and Keiichiro Kanemoto. 2015. The Material Footprint of Nations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(20): 6271–6676.

Wilkinson, Henry. 2016. Political Violence Contagion: A Framework for Understanding the Emergence and Spread of Civil Unrest. Lloyd’s.   http://www.lloyds.com/~/media/files/news%20and%20insight/risk%20insight/2016/political%20violence%20contagion.pdf

Williams, Selina, and Bradley Olson. 2016. Big Oil Companies Binge on Debt. Wall Street Journal, August 24. http://www.wsj.com/articles/largest-oil-companies-debts-hit-record-high1472031002

Wood, Ellen Meiksins. 1981. The Separation of the Economic and the Political in Capitalism. New Left Review, I 127: 66–95. World Bank. 2014. Future Impact of Climate Change Visible Now in Yemen.

World Bank. November 24. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/11/24/future-impactof-climate-change-visible-now-in-yemen

Worth, Robert F. 2010. Drought Withers Lush Farmlands in Syria. The New York Times, October 13. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/14/world/middleeast/14syria.html

Yaritani, Hiroaki, and Jun Matsushima. 2014. Analysis of the Energy Balance of Shale Gas Development. Energies 7(4): 2207–2227.





Collapse is underway……

5 06 2017

(By the Doomstead Diner)

Due to my High & Mighty position as a Global Collapse Pundit, I am often asked the question of when precisely will Collapse arrive?  The people who ask me this question all come from 1st World countries.  They are also all reasonably well off with a computer, an internet connection, running water and enough food to eat.  While a few of us are relatively poor retirees, even none of us wants for the basics as of yet.  The Diner doesn’t get many readers from the underclass even here in Amerika, much less from the Global Underclass in places like Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The fact is, that for more than half the world population, Collapse is in full swing and well underway.  Two key bellweathers of where collapse is now are the areas of Electricity and Food.

This chart was around 16 years ago when I first became a peaknik….

In his seminal 1996 Paper The Olduvai Theory: Sliding Towards a Post-Industrial Stone Age, Richard Duncan mapped out the trajectory of where we would be as the years passed and fossil fuels became more difficult and expensive to mine up.  Besides powering all our cars and trucks for Happy Motoring and Just-in-Time delivery, the main thing our 1st World lifestyle requires is Electricity, and lots of it on demand, 24/7.  Although electricity can be produced in some “renewable” ways that don’t depend on a lot of fossil fuel energy at least directly, most of the global supply of electric power comes from Coal and Natural Gas.  Of the two, NG (NatGas) is slightly cleaner, but either way when you burn them, CO2 goes up in the atmosphere.  This of course is a problem climatically, but you have an even bigger problem socially and politically if you aren’t burning them.  Everything in the society as it has been constructed since Edison invented the Light Bulb in 1879 has depended on electricity to function.

Now, if all the toys like lights, refrigerators big screen TVs etc had been kept to just a few small countries and the rest of the world lived a simple subsistence farming lifestyle, the lucky few with the toys probably could have kept the juice flowing a lot longer.  Unfortunately however, once exposed to all the great toys, EVERYBODY wanted them.  The industrialists also salivated over all the profit to be made selling the toys to everyone.  So, everybody everywhere needed a grid, which the industrialists and their associated banksters extended Credit for “backward” Nation-States all over the globe to build their own power plants and string their own wires.  Now everybody in the country could have a lightbulb to see by and a fridge to keep the food cold.  More than that, the electricity also went to power water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants, so you could pack the Big Shities with even more people who use still more electricity.

This went on all over the globe, today there isn’t a major city or even a medium size town anywhere on the globe that isn’t wired for electricity, although many places that are now no longer have enough money to keep the juice flowing.

Where is the electricity going off first?  Obviously, in the poorest and most war torn countries across the Middle East and Africa.  These days, from Egypt to Tunisia, if they get 2 hours of electricity a day they are doing good.

The Lights Are Going Out in the Middle East

Public fury over rampant outages has sparked protests. In January, in one of the largest demonstrations since Hamas took control in Gaza a decade ago, ten thousand Palestinians, angered by the lack of power during a frigid winter, hurled stones and set tires ablaze outside the electricity company. Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, but, during the past two years, repeated anti-government demonstrations have erupted over blackouts that are rarely announced in advance and are of indefinite duration. It’s one issue that unites fractious Sunnis in the west, Shiites in the arid south, and Kurds in the mountainous north. In the midst of Yemen’s complex war, hundreds dared to take to the streets of Aden in February to protest prolonged outages. In Syria, supporters of President Bashar al-Assad in Latakia, the dynasty’s main stronghold, who had remained loyal for six years of civil war, drew the line over electricity. They staged a protest in January over a cutback to only one hour of power a day.

Over the past eight months, I’ve been struck by people talking less about the prospects of peace, the dangers of ISIS, or President Trump’s intentions in the Middle East than their own exhaustion from the trials of daily life. Families recounted groggily getting up in the middle of the night when power abruptly comes on in order to do laundry, carry out business transactions on computers, charge phones, or just bathe and flush toilets, until electricity, just as unpredictably, goes off again. Some families have stopped taking elevators; their terrified children have been stuck too often between floors. Students complained of freezing classrooms in winter, trying to study or write papers without computers, and reading at night by candlelight. The challenges will soon increase with the demands for power—and air-conditioning—surge, as summer temperatures reach a hundred and twenty-five degrees.

The reasons for these outages vary. With the exception of the Gulf states, infrastructure is old or inadequate in many of the twenty-three Arab countries. The region’s disparate wars, past and present, have damaged or destroyed electrical grids. Some governments, even in Iraq, can’t afford the cost of fueling plants around the clock. Epic corruption has compounded physical challenges. Politicians have delayed or prevented solutions if their cronies don’t get contracts to fuel, maintain, or build power plants.

Now you’ll note that at the end of the third paragraph there, the journalist implies that a big part of the problem is “political corruption”, but it’s really not.  It’s simply a lack of money.  These countries at one time were all Oil Exporters, although not on the scale of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.  As their own supplies of oil have depleted they have become oil importers, except they neither have a sufficient mercantilist model running to bring in enough FOREX to buy oil, and they can’t get credit from the international banking cartel to keep buying.  Third World countries are being cut off from the Credit Lifeline, unlike the core countries at the center of credit creation like Britain, Germany and the FSoA.  All these 1st World countries are in just as bad fiscal deficit as the MENA countries, the only difference is they still can get credit and run the deficits even higher.  This works until it doesn’t anymore.

Beyond the credit issue is the War problem.  As the countries run out of money, more people become unemployed, businesses go bankrupt, tax collection drops off the map and government employees are laid off too.  It’s the classic deflationary spiral which printing more money doesn’t solve, since the notes become increasingly worthless.  For them to be worth anything in FOREX, somebody has to buy their Government Bonds, and that is precisely what is not happening.  So as society becomes increasingly impoverished, it descends into internecine warfare between factions trying to hold on to or increase their share of the ever shrinking pie.

The warfare ongoing in these nations has knock on effects for the 1st World Nations still trying to extract energy from some of these places.  To keep the oil flowing outward, they have to run very expensive military operations to at least maintain enough order that oil pipelines aren’t sabotaged on a daily basis.  The cost of the operations keeps going up, but the amount of money they can charge the customers for the oil inside their own countries does not keep going up.  Right now they have hit a ceiling around $50/bbl for what they can charge for the oil, and for the most part this is not a profit making price.  So all the corporations involved in Extraction & Production these days are surviving on further extensions of credit from the TBTF banks.  This also is a paradigm that can’t last. The other major problem now surfacing is the Food Distribution problem, and again this is hitting the African countries first and hardest.  It’s a combination problem of climate change, population overshoot and the warfare which results from those issues.

Currently, the UN lists 4 countries in extreme danger of famine in the coming year, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.  They estimate currently there are 20M people at extreme risk, and I would bet the numbers are a good deal higher than that.

World faces four famines as Trump administration [and Australia] plans to slash foreign aid budget

‘Biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II’ about to engulf 20 million people, UN says, as governments only donate 10 per cent of funds needed for essential aid.

The world is facing a humanitarian crisis bigger than any in living memory, the UN has said, as four countries teeter on the brink of famine.

Twenty million people are at risk of starvation and facing water shortages in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, while parts of South Sudan are already officially suffering from famine.

While the UN said in February that at least $4.4 billion (£3.5 bn) was needed by the end of March to avert a hunger catastrophe across the four nations, the end of the month is fast approaching, and only 10 per cent of the necessary funds have been received from donor governments so far.

It doesn’t look too promising that the UN will be able to raise the $4B they say is necessary to feed all those hungry mouths, and none of the 1st World countries is too predisposed to handing out food aid when they all currently have problems with their own social welfare programs for food distribution.  Here in the FSoA, there are currently around 45M people on SNAP Cards at a current cost around $71B.  The Repugnants will no doubt try to cut this number in order to better fund the Pentagon, but they are not likely to send more money to Somalia.

Far as compassion for all the starving people globally goes in the general population, this also appears to be decreasing, although I don’t have statistics to back that up. It is just a general sense I get as I read the collapse blogosphere, in the commentariats generally.  The general attitude is, “It’s their own fault for being so stupid and not using Birth Control.  If they were never born, they wouldn’t have to die of starvation.”  Since they are mostly Black Africans currently starving, this is another reason a large swath of the white population here doesn’t care much about the problem.

There are all sorts of social and economic reasons why this problem spiraled out of control, having mainly to do with the production of cheap food through Industrial Agriculture and Endless Greed centered on the idea of Endless Growth, which is not possible on a Finite Planet.

More places on Earth were wired up with each passing year, and more people were bred up with each passing year.  The dependency on fossil fuels to keep this supposedly endless cycle of growth going became ever greater each year, all while this resource was being depleted more each year.  Eventually, an inflection point had to be hit, and we have hit it.

The thing is, for the relatively comfortable readers of the Doomstead Diner in the 1st World BAU seems to be continuing onward, even if you are a bit poorer than you were last year. 24/7 electricity is still available from the grid with only occasional interruptions.  Gas is still available at the pump, and if you are employed you probably can afford to buy it, although you need to be more careful about how much you drive around unless you are a 1%er.  The Rich are still lining up to buy EVs from Elon Musk, even though having a grid to support all electric transportation is out of the question.  The current grid can’t be maintained, and upgrading to handle that much throughput would take much thicker cables all across the network.  People carry on though as though this will all go on forever and Scientists & Engineers will solve all the problems with some magical new device.  IOW, they believe in Skittle Shitting Unicorns.

That’s not going to happen, however, so you’re back to the question of how long will it take your neighborhood in the UK or Germany or the FSoA to look like say Egypt today?  Well, if you go back in time a decade to Egypt in 2007, things were still looking pretty Peachy over there, especially in Tourist Traps like Cairo.  Terrorism wasn’t too huge a problem and the government of Hosni Mubarak appeared stable.  A decade later today, Egypt is basically a failed state only doing marginally better than places like Somalia and Sudan.  The only reason they’re doing as well as they are is because they are in an important strategic location on the Suez Canal and as such get support from the FSoA military.

So a good WAG here for how long it will take for the Collapse Level in 1st World countries to reach the level Egypt is at today is about a decade.  It could be a little shorter, it could be longer.  By then of course, Egypt will be in even WORSE shape, and who might still be left alive in Somalia is an open question.  Highly unlikely to be very many people though.  Over the next decade, the famines will spread and people will die, in numbers far exceeding the 20M to occur over the next year.  After a while, it’s unlikely we will get much news about this, and people here won’t care much about what they do hear.  They will have their own problems.

The original article can be found at the Doomstead Diner here: Dimming Bulb 3: Collapse Has ARRIVED!


A very interesting article by the folks at Doomstead Diner.  While their forecast of collapse could be off a few years, it seems as if they are looking at the same time-frame the Hills Group and Louis Arnoux are projecting for the Thermodynamic oil collapse.

Lastly, people need to realize COLLAPSE does not take place in a day, week, month or year.  It takes place over a period of time.  The folks at Doomstead Diner are making the case that it has ARRIVED.  It is just taking time to reach the more affluent countries will good printing presses.

So… it is going to be interesting to see how things unfold over the next 5-10 years.





EROI explained and defended by Charles Hall, Pedro Prieto, and others

29 05 2017

Yes, another post on ERoEI……  why do I bang on about this all the time…?  Because it is the defining issue of our time, the issue that will precipitate Limits to Growth to the forefront, and eventually collapse civilisation as we know it.

There are two ways to collapse civilisation:
1) don’t end the burning of oil
2) end burning oil

And if that wasn’t enough, read this from srsroccoreport.com 

While the U.S. oil and gas industry struggles to stay alive as it produces energy at low prices, there’s another huge problem just waiting around the corner.  Yes, it’s true… the worst is yet to come for an industry that was supposed to make the United States, energy independent.  So, grab your popcorn and watch as the U.S. oil and gas industry gets ready to hit the GREAT ENERGY DEBT WALL.

So, what is this “Debt Wall?”  It’s the ever-increasing amount of debt that the U.S. oil and gas industry will need to pay each year.  Unfortunately, many misguided Americans thought these energy companies were making money hand over fist when the price of oil was above $100 from 2011 to the middle of 2014.  They weren’t.  Instead, they racked up a great deal of debt as they spent more money drilling for oil than the cash they received from operations.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

alice_friedemannAlice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Questions about EROI at researchgate.net 2015-2017

Khalid Abdulla, University of Melbourne asks:  Why is quality of life limited by EROI with renewable Energy? There are many articles explaining that the Energy Return on (Energy) Invested (EROI, or EROEI) of the sources of energy which a society uses sets an upper limit on the quality of life (or complexity of a society) which can be enjoyed (for example this one).  I understand the arguments made, however I fail to understand why any energy extraction process which has an external EROI greater than 1.0 cannot be “stacked” to enable greater effective EROI.  For example if EROI for solar PV is 3.0, surely one can get an effective EROI of 9.0 by feeding all output energy produced from one solar project as the input energy of a second? There is obviously an initial energy investment required, but provided the EROI figure includes all installation and decommissioning energy requirements I don’t understand why this wouldn’t work. Also I realise there are various material constraints which would come into play; but why does this not work from an energy point of view?

Charles A. S. Hall replies:  As the person who came up with the term  EROI in the 1970scharles-hall (but not the concept: that belongs to Leslie White, Fred Cotrell, Nicolas Georgescu Roegan and Howard Odum) let me add my two cents to the existing mostly good posts.  The problem with the “stacked” idea is that if you do that you do not deliver energy to society with the first (or second or third) investment — it all has to go to the “food chain” with only the final delivering energy to society.  So stack two EROI 2:1 technologies and you get 4:2, or the same ratio when you are done.

The second problem is that you do not need just 1.1:1 EROI to operate society.  We (Hall, Balogh and Murphy 2009) studied how much oil would need to be extracted to drive a truck including the energy to USE the energy.  So we added in the energy to get, refine and deliver the oil (about 10% at each step) and then the energy to build and maintain the roads, bridges, vehicles and so on.  We found you needed to extract 3 liters at the well head to use 1 liter in the gas tank to drive the truck, i.e. an EROI of 3:1 was needed.

But even this did not include the energy to put something in the truck (say grow some grain)  and also, although we had accounted for the energy for the depreciation of the truck and roads,  but not the depreciation of the truck driver, mechanic, street mender, farmer etc.: i.e. to pay for domestic needs, schooling, health care etc. of their replacement.    Pretty soon it looked like we needed an EROI of at least 10:1 to take care of the minimum requirements of society, and maybe 15:1 (numbers are very approximate) for a modern civilization. You can see that plus implications in Lambert 2014.

I think this and incipient “peak oil” (Hallock et al.)  is behind what is causing most Western economies to slow or stop  their energy and economic growth.   Low EROI means more expensive oil (etc) and lower net energy means growth is harder as there is less left over after necessary “maintenance metabolism”. This is explored in more depth in Hall and Klitgaard book  “Energy and the wealth of Nations” (Springer).

Khalid Abdulla asks: I’m still struggling a little bit with gaining an intuition of why it is not possible to stack/compound EROI. If I understand your response correctly part of the problem is that while society is waiting around for energy from one project to be fed into a second project (etc.) society needs to continue to operate (otherwise it’d all be a bit pointless!) and this has a high energy overhead.  I understand that with oil it is possible to achieve higher external EROI by using some of the oil as the main source of energy for extraction/processing. Obviously this means less oil is delivered to the outside world, but it is delivered at a higher EROI which is more useful. I don’t understand why a similar gearing is not possible with renewables.  Is it something to do with the timing of the input energy required VS the timing of the energy which the project will deliver over its life?

Charles A. S. Hall replies: Indeed if you update the QUALITY of the energy you can come out “ahead”.  My PhD adviser Howard Odum wrote a lot about that, and I am deeply engaged in a discussion about the general meaning of Maximum Power (a related concept) with several others.  So you can willingly turn more coal into less electricity because the product is more valuable.   Probably pretty soon (if we are not already) we will be using coal to make electricity to pump out ever more difficult oil wells….

I have also been thinking about EROI a lot lately and about what should the boundaries of analysis be.  One of my analyses is available in the book “Spain’s PV revolution: EROI and.. available from Springer or Amazon.

To me the issue of boundaries remains critical. I think it is proper to have very wide boundaries. Let’s say we run an economy just on a big PV plant. If the EROI is 8:1 (which you might get, or higher, from examining just the modules) then it seems like you could make your society work. But let’s look closer. If you add in security systems, roads, and financial services and the EROI drops to 3:1 then it seems more problematic. But if you add in labor (i.e. the energy it takes to make the food, housing etc that labor buys with its salaries, calculated from national mean energy intensities times salaries for all necessary workers) it might drop to 1:1. Now what this means is that the energy from the PV system will support all the purchases of the workers that are building/maintaining the PV system, let’s say 10% will be taken care of, BUT THERE WILL BE NO PRODUCTION OF GOODS AND SERVICES for the rest of the population. To me this is why we should include salaries of the entire energy delivery system (although I do not because it remains so controversial). I think this concept, and the flat oil production in most of the world, is why we need to think about ALL the resources necessary to deliver energy from a project/ technology/nation.”

Khalid Abdulla: My main interest is whether the relatively low EROI of renewable energy sources fundamentally limits the complexity of a society that can be fueled by them.

Charles A. S. Hall replies: Perhaps the easiest way to think about this is historical: certainly we had lots of sunshine and clever minds in the past.  But we did not have a society with many affluent people until the industrial revolution, based on millions of years of accumulated net energy from sunshine. An affluent king, living a life of affluence less than most people in industrial societies now, was supported by the labor of thousands or millions of serfs harvesting solar energy.  The way to get rich was to exploit the stored solar energy of other societies through war (see Plutarch or Tainter’s the collapse of complex societies).

But most renewable energy (good hydropower is an exception) are low EROI or else seriously constrained by intermittency. Look at all the stuff required to support “free” solar energy. We (and Palmer and Weisbach independently) found EROIs of about 3:1 at best when all costs are accounted for.

The lower the EROI the larger the investment needed for the next generation: that is why fossil fuels with EROIs of 30 or 50 to one have led to such wealth: the other 29 or 49 have been deliverable to society to do economic work or that can be invested in getting more fossil fuels.  If the EROI is 2:1 obviously half has to go into the next generation for the growth and much less is delivered to society.   One can speculate or fantasize about what one can do with some future technology but having been in the energy business for 50 years I have seen many come and go.  Meanwhile we still get about 75-80% of our energy from fossil fuels (with their attendant high EROI).

Obviously we could have some kind of culture with labor intensive, low energy input systems if people were willing to take a large drop in their life style.  I fear the problem might be that people would rather go to war than accept a decline in life style.

Lee’s assessment of the traditional  Kung hunter gatherer life style implies an EROI of 10:1 and lots of leisure (except during droughts–which is the bottleneck).  Past agricultural societies obviously had a positive EROI based on human labor input — otherwise they would have gone extinct.  But it required something like a hectare per person.  According to Jared Diamond cultures became more complex with agriculture vs hunter gatherer.

The best assessment I have about EROI and quality of life possible is in:  Lambert, Jessica, Charles A.S. Hall, Stephen Balogh, Ajay Gupta, Michelle Arnold 2014 Energy, EROI and quality of life. Energy Policy Volume 64:153-167 http://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S0301421513006447 — It is open access.  Also our book:  Hall and Klitgaard, Energy and the wealth of nations.   Springer

At the moment the EROI of contemporary agriculture is 2:1 at the farm gate but much less, perhaps one returned for 5 invested  by the time the food is processed, distributed and prepared (Hamilton 2013).

As you can see from these studies to get numbers with any kind of reliability requires a great deal of work.

Sourabh Jain asks: Would it be possible to meet the EROI goal of, say for example 10:1, in order to maintain our current life style by mixing wind, solar and hydro? Can we have an energy system various renewable energy sources of different EROI to give a net EROI of 10:1?

Charles A. S. Hall replies:  Good question.  First of all I am not sure that we can maintain our current life style on an EROI of 10:1, but let’s assume we can (Hall 2014, Lambert 2014).  We would need liquid fuels of course for tractors , airplanes and ships — I cannot quite envision running those machines on electricity.

The problem with wind is that it tends to blow only 30% of the time, so we would need massive storage.  To the degree that we can meet intermittency with hydro that is good, although it is tough on the fish and insects below the dam.  The energy cost of that would be huge, prohibitive with respect to batteries, huge with respect to pumped storage, and what happens when the wind does not blow for two weeks, as is often the case?

Solar PV may or may not have an EROI of 10:1 (I assume you know of the three studies that came up with about 3:1: Prieto and Hall, Graham Palmer, Weisbach — but there are others higher and certainly the price and hence presumed energy cost is coming down –but you should also know that many structures are lasting only 12, not 25 years) — — this needs to be sorted out ).  But again the storage issue will be important.   (Palmer’s rooftop study included storage).

These are all important issues.  So I would say the answer seems to be no, although it might work well for let’s say half of our energy use.   As time goes on that percentage might increase (or decrease).

Jethro Betcke writes: Charles Hall: You make some statements that are somewhat inaccurate and could easily mislead the less well informed: Wind turbines produce electricity during 70 to 90% of the time. You seems to have confused capacity factor with relative time of operation.  Using a single number for the capacity factor is also not so accurate. Depending on the location and design choices the capacity factor can vary from 20% to over 50%.  With the lifetime of PV systems you seem to have confused the inverter with the system as a whole. The practice has shown that PV modules last much longer than the 25 years guaranteed by the manufacturer. In Oldenburg we have a system from 1976 that is still producing electricity and shows little degradation loss [1]. Inverters are the weak point of the system and sometimes need to be replaced. Of course, this would need to be considered in an EROEI calculation. But this is something different than what you state. [1] http://www.presse.uni-oldenburg.de/download/einblicke/54/parisi-heinemann-juergens-knecht.pdf

Charles A. S. Hall replies: I resent your statement that I am misleading anyone.   I write as clearly, accurately and honestly as I can, almost entirely in peer reviewed publications, and always have. I include sensitivity analysis while acknowledging legitimate uncertainty (for example p. 115 in Prieto and Hall).  Some people do not like my conclusions. But no one has shown with explicit analysis that Prieto and Hall is in any important way incorrect.  At least three other peer reviewed papers) (Palmer 2013, 2014; Weisbach et al. 2012 and Ferroni and Hopkirk (2016) have come up with similar conclusions on solar PV.  I am working on the legitimate differences in technique with legitimate and credible solar analysts with whom I have some differences , e.g. Marco Raugei.  All of this will be detailed in a new book from Springer in January on EROI.

First I would like to say that the bountiful energy blog post is embarrassingly poor science and totally unacceptable. As one point the author does not back his (often erroneous) statements with references. The importance of peer review is obvious from this non peer-reviewed post.

Second I do not understand your statement about wind energy producing electricity 70-90 percent of the time.  In England, for example, it is less than 30 percent (Jefferson 2015).

Third your statement on the operational lifetime of actual operational PV systems is incorrect. Of course one can find PV systems still generating electricity after 30 years.  But actual operational systems requiring serious maintenance (and for which we do not yet have enough data) often do not last more than 18-20 years, For example Spain’s “Flagship ” PV plant (which was especially well maintained) is having all modules replaced and treated as “electronic trash” after 20 years : http://renewables.seenews.com/news/spains-ingeteam-replaces-modules-at-europes-oldest-pv-plant-538875    Ferroni and Hopkirk found an 18 year lifespan in Switzerland.

Pedro Prieto replies: The production of electricity of wind turbines the 70-90% of time is a very inaccurate quote. Every wind turbine has a nominal capacity in MW. The important factor is not how many hours they move the blades at any working regime, but how many EQUIVALENT peak hours they work at the end of the year. That is, to know how much real energy they generate within one year. This is what the industry uses as a general and accurate measurement and it is the load factor or capacity factor.

Of course, this factor may change from the location or the design choices, but there is an incontrovertible figure: when we take the total world installed wind power in MW (435 Gw as of 2015) from January 2004 up to December 2015 and the total energy generated in Twh (841 Twh as of 2015) in the same period and calculate the averaged capacity factor, the resulting figure slightly varies around 15% AT WORLD LEVEL. This is REAL LIFE, much more than your unsupported theoretical figures of 20 to over 50% capacity factor in privileged wind fields for privileged wind turbines.

Interesting enough, some countries like the US, United Kingdom or Spain have capacity factors reaching 20% in the last years, but the world total installed capacity has not really improved so much in the last ten years, despite of theoretically much more efficient wind turbines (i.e. multipole with permanent magnets), very likely for the reasons that good wind fields in some countries were already used up. Other countries like China, India or France show, on the contrary very poor capacity factors even in 2015.

 

With respect to the lifetime of the PV systems, nor Charles Hall neither myself have confused the inverter lifetime with the solar PV system as a whole. The practice has not shown that modules have lasted more than 25 years in general over the world installed base. The fact that one single system is still working after more than 30 years of operation, if it was carefully manufactured with high quality materials, and was well cared, cleaned and free from environmental pollutants, like several modules we have also in Spain, does not mean AT ALL that the massive deployments (about 250 GW as of 2015) are going to last over 25 years.

I have to clarify also a common mistake: almost all main world manufacturers guarantee a maximum of 25 years (NOT 30) to the modules, but this is the “power” guarantee. This means that they “guarantee” (assuming they will be still alive as companies in 25 years from the sales period, something which is rather difficult for many of the manufacturers that went out of business in shorter periods of time than the guarantee of their modules. Of course, this guarantee is given with the subsequent module degradation specs over time, which in many cases has been proved be higher than specified.

But not only that. Most of the module manufacturers have a second guarantee: the “material’s guarantee”. And this is offered for between 5 and 10 years. This is the one by which the manufacturer guarantees the module replacement if it fails. Beyond that date, if the module fails, the buyer has to buy a new one (if still being manufactured, with the same specs power and size), because the second guarantee SUPERSEDES the first one.

Last but not least, there is already quite a large experience in Europe (Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, etc.) of the number of faulty modules that have been decommissioned in the last years (i.e. period 2010-2015) as for instance, accounted by PV-Cycle, a company specialized in decommission and recycling modules in Europe. As the installed base is well known in volumes per year, it is relatively easy to calculate, in a very conservative (optimistic) mode the percentage over the total that failed and the number of years that lasted in this period and the average years for that sample that died before the theoretical 25-30 years lifetime and make the proportion on the total installed base.

The study conducted by Ferroni and Hopkirk gives an approximate lifetime for the installed base of lower than 20 years. And this is Europe, where the maintenance is supposed to be much better made than in the rest of the developing world. And the figures of failed modules given by PV-Cycle did not include the many potential plants that did not deliver their failed modules to this company for recycling

What it seems impossible for some academic people is to recognize that perhaps the “standards” they adhered to (namely IEA PVPS Task 12 in this case) and through which they published a big number of papers, should be revisited, because they lacked some essential measurements that could help to understand why renewables are not replacing fossils at the required speed, despite having claimed for years that they reached grid parity or that their Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) is cheaper than coal, nuclear or gas. 

I am afraid that peer reviewed authors are not immune to having preconceived ideas even more difficult to eradicate. Excessive pride, lack of humility, considerable distance between the academy (i.e. imagined solar production levels versus real data from actual solar PV plants and lack of a systemic vision due to an excess of specialization are the main hurdles. Of course in my humble opinion.

References

  • Hall, C.A.S., Balogh, S., Murphy, D.J.R. 2009. What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have? Energies, 2: 25-47.
  • Hall, Charles  A.S., Jessica G.Lambert, Stephen B. Balogh. 2014.  EROI of different fuels  and the implications for society Energy Policy Energy Policy. Energy Policy, Vol 64 141-52
  • Hallock Jr., John L., Wei Wu, Charles A.S. Hall, Michael Jefferson. 2014. Forecasting the limits to the availability and diversity of global conventional oil supply: Validation. Energy 64: 130-153. (here)
  • Hamilton A , Balogh SB, Maxwell A, Hall CAS. 2013. Efficiency of edible agriculture in Canada and the U.S. over the past 3 and 4 decades. Energies 6:1764-1793.
  • Lambert, Jessica, Charles A.S. Hall, et al.  Energy, EROI and quality of life.  Energy Policy




Electric Cars and Happy Motoring

6 05 2017

KMO reads a question from Eric Boyd about the transition from fossil fuels to a transportation infrastructure built around solar power from suburban rooftops and autonomous electric cars. John Michael Greer, Dmitry Orlov, Chris Martenson, Frank Morris, Kevin Lynn and James Howard Kunstler all give their reasons for dismissing Eric’s vision as wishful thinking……….





It’s simple. If we can’t change our economic system, our number’s up

30 04 2017

I occasionally publish articles by George monbiot. At times I have labelled them ‘Monbiot at his best’, even if I disagreed with bits of it….. but this time, he utterly nails it. There’s very little regulars to this site will learn from this, but it is a good piece of writing, and it needs to be shared far and wide, because we truly need this revolution. It’s two years old, but even more relevant now than when he wrote it.

Found on the Guardian’s website…..

'The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.'
‘The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.’ Photograph: Alamy

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.

Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.

To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.

Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.

It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, with the accessible reserves exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.

On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable, the Ecuadorean government decided toallow oil drilling in the heart of the Yasuni national park. It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as either blackmail or fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich. Why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills, will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America.

Almost 45% of the Yasuni national park is overlapped by oil concessions.
Yasuni national park. Murray Cooper/Minden Pictures/Corbis

The UK oil firm Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants. In Britain, where a possible 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil has just been identified in the south-east, the government fantasises about turning the leafy suburbs into a new Niger delta. To this end it’s changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent and offering lavish bribes to local people. These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.

Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use. By unremarked accretions, ever more of the surface of the planet is used to extract, manufacture and store things we don’t need. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that fantasies about colonising space – which tell us we can export our problems instead of solving them – have resurfaced.

As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, the inevitabilities of compound growth mean that if last year’s predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay the inevitable by just 75 years. Efficiency solves nothing while growth continues.

The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.

Statements of the bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.





Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world

6 04 2017

Image 20170329 8557 1q1xe1z
Planting a diverse blend of crops and cover crops, and not tilling, helps promote soil health.
Catherine Ulitsky, USDA/Flickr, CC BY

David R. Montgomery, University of Washington

One of the biggest modern myths about agriculture is that organic farming is inherently sustainable. It can be, but it isn’t necessarily. After all, soil erosion from chemical-free tilled fields undermined the Roman Empire and other ancient societies around the world. Other agricultural myths hinder recognizing the potential to restore degraded soils to feed the world using fewer agrochemicals.

When I embarked on a six-month trip to visit farms around the world to research my forthcoming book, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” the innovative farmers I met showed me that regenerative farming practices can restore the world’s agricultural soils. In both the developed and developing worlds, these farmers rapidly rebuilt the fertility of their degraded soil, which then allowed them to maintain high yields using far less fertilizer and fewer pesticides.

Their experiences, and the results that I saw on their farms in North and South Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ghana and Costa Rica, offer compelling evidence that the key to sustaining highly productive agriculture lies in rebuilding healthy, fertile soil. This journey also led me to question three pillars of conventional wisdom about today’s industrialized agrochemical agriculture: that it feeds the world, is a more efficient way to produce food and will be necessary to feed the future.

Myth 1: Large-scale agriculture feeds the world today

According to a recent U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, family farms produce over three-quarters of the world’s food. The FAO also estimates that almost three-quarters of all farms worldwide are smaller than one hectare – about 2.5 acres, or the size of a typical city block.

Enter a caption

A Ugandan farmer transports bananas to market. Most food consumed in the developing world is grown on small family farms.
Svetlana Edmeades/IFPRI/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Only about 1 percent of Americans are farmers today. Yet most of the world’s farmers work the land to feed themselves and their families. So while conventional industrialized agriculture feeds the developed world, most of the world’s farmers work small family farms. A 2016 Environmental Working Group report found that almost 90 percent of U.S. agricultural exports went to developed countries with few hungry people.

Of course the world needs commercial agriculture, unless we all want to live on and work our own farms. But are large industrial farms really the best, let alone the only, way forward? This question leads us to a second myth.

Myth 2: Large farms are more efficient

Many high-volume industrial processes exhibit efficiencies at large scale that decrease inputs per unit of production. The more widgets you make, the more efficiently you can make each one. But agriculture is different. A 1989 National Research Council study concluded that “well-managed alternative farming systems nearly always use less synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics per unit of production than conventional farms.”

And while mechanization can provide cost and labor efficiencies on large farms, bigger farms do not necessarily produce more food. According to a 1992 agricultural census report, small, diversified farms produce more than twice as much food per acre than large farms do.

Even the World Bank endorses small farms as the way to increase agricultural output in developing nations where food security remains a pressing issue. While large farms excel at producing a lot of a particular crop – like corn or wheat – small diversified farms produce more food and more kinds of food per hectare overall.

Myth 3: Conventional farming is necessary to feed the world

We’ve all heard proponents of conventional agriculture claim that organic farming is a recipe for global starvation because it produces lower yields. The most extensive yield comparison to date, a 2015 meta-analysis of 115 studies, found that organic production averaged almost 20 percent less than conventionally grown crops, a finding similar to those of prior studies.

But the study went a step further, comparing crop yields on conventional farms to those on organic farms where cover crops were planted and crops were rotated to build soil health. These techniques shrank the yield gap to below 10 percent.

The authors concluded that the actual gap may be much smaller, as they found “evidence of bias in the meta-dataset toward studies reporting higher conventional yields.” In other words, the basis for claims that organic agriculture can’t feed the world depend as much on specific farming methods as on the type of farm.

Cover crops planted on wheat fields in The Dalles, Oregon.
Garrett Duyck, NRCS/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Consider too that about a quarter of all food produced worldwide is never eaten. Each year the United States alone throws out 133 billion pounds of food, more than enough to feed the nearly 50 million Americans who regularly face hunger. So even taken at face value, the oft-cited yield gap between conventional and organic farming is smaller than the amount of food we routinely throw away.

Building healthy soil

Conventional farming practices that degrade soil health undermine humanity’s ability to continue feeding everyone over the long run. Regenerative practices like those used on the farms and ranches I visited show that we can readily improve soil fertility on both large farms in the U.S. and on small subsistence farms in the tropics.

I no longer see debates about the future of agriculture as simply conventional versus organic. In my view, we’ve oversimplified the complexity of the land and underutilized the ingenuity of farmers. I now see adopting farming practices that build soil health as the key to a stable and resilient agriculture. And the farmers I visited had cracked this code, adapting no-till methods, cover cropping and complex rotations to their particular soil, environmental and socioeconomic conditions.

Whether they were organic or still used some fertilizers and pesticides, the farms I visited that adopted this transformational suite of practices all reported harvests that consistently matched or exceeded those from neighboring conventional farms after a short transition period. Another message was as simple as it was clear: Farmers who restored their soil used fewer inputs to produce higher yields, which translated into higher profits.

No matter how one looks at it, we can be certain that agriculture will soon face another revolution. For agriculture today runs on abundant, cheap oil for fuel and to make fertilizer – and our supply of cheap oil will not last forever. There are already enough people on the planet that we have less than a year’s supply of food for the global population on hand at any one time. This simple fact has critical implications for society.

So how do we speed the adoption of a more resilient agriculture? Creating demonstration farms would help, as would carrying out system-scale research to evaluate what works best to adapt specific practices to general principles in different settings.

We also need to reframe our agricultural policies and subsidies. It makes no sense to continue incentivizing conventional practices that degrade soil fertility. We must begin supporting and rewarding farmers who adopt regenerative practices.

Once we see through myths of modern agriculture, practices that build soil health become the lens through which to assess strategies for feeding us all over the long haul. Why am I so confident that regenerative farming practices can prove both productive and economical? The farmers I met showed me they already are.

David R. Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.





The end of the Middle East

14 03 2017

I have to say, I am seriously chuffed that Nafeez Ahmed is calling it, as I have been for years now…. In a lengthy but well worth reading article in the Middle East Eye, Nafeez explains the convoluted reasons why we have the current turmoil in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. He doesn’t mention Egypt – yet – but to be fair, the article’s focus in on Mosul and the implications of the disaster unfolding there……

It never ceases to amaze me how Egypt has managed to stay off the news radar. Maybe the populace is too starved to revolt again….

After oil, rice and medicines, sugar has run out in Egypt, as the country has announced a devaluation of 48% of its currency. In Egypt, about 68 million of the total 92 million people receive food subsidized by the State through small consumer stores run by the Ministry of supply and internal trade. After shortages of oil, rice and milk, and even medicines, now sugar scarcity has hit the country. Nearly three quarters of the population completely rely on the government stores for their basic needs.

Egypt produces 2 million tons of sugar a year but has to import 3 million to face domestic demand. However imports have become too expensive.  The country is expected to receive a loan of 12 billion dollars (11 billion euros) from the International monetary Fund (IMF) to tackle its food scarcity. The price for sugar in supermarkets and black markets are skyrocketing as well, with a kilogram costing around 15 pounds. If available, one could get sugar from subsidized government stores for 0.50 euros per kilo.

Nafeez goes into great and interesting detail re the dismaying shenanigans going on in nafeezIraq and Syria at the moment. I’ll leave it to you to go through what he wrote on the Middle East Eye site on those issues, but what struck me as relevant to what this blog is about is how well they correlate with my own thoughts here…..:

Among my findings is that IS was born in the crucible of a long-term process of ecological crisis. Iraq and Syria are both experiencing worsening water scarcity. A string of scientific studies has shown that a decade-long drought cycle in Syria, dramatically intensified by climate change, caused hundreds and thousands of mostly Sunni farmers in the south to lose their livelihoods as crops failed. They moved into the coastal cities, and the capital, dominated by Assad’s Alawite clan. 

Meanwhile, Syrian state revenues were in terminal decline because the country’s conventional oil production peaked in 1996. Net oil exports gradually declined, and with them so did the clout of the Syrian treasury. In the years before the 2011 uprising, Assad slashed domestic subsidies for food and fuel.

While Iraqi oil production has much better prospects, since 2001 production levels have consistently remained well below even the lower-range projections of the industry, mostly because of geopolitical and economic complications. This weakened economic growth, and consequently, weakened the state’s capacity to meet the needs of ordinary Iraqis.

Drought conditions in both Iraq and Syria became entrenched, exacerbating agricultural failures and eroding the living standards of farmers. Sectarian tensions simmered. Globally, a series of climate disasters in major food basket regions drove global price spikes. The combination made life economically intolerable for large swathes of the Iraqi and Syrian populations.

Outside powers – the US, Russia, the Gulf states, Turkey and Iran – all saw the escalating Syrian crisis as a potential opportunity for themselves. As the ensuing Syrian uprising erupted into a full-blown clash between the Assad regime and the people, the interference of these powers radicalised the conflict, hijacked Sunni and Shia groups on the ground, and accelerated the de-facto collapse of Syria as we once knew it.  

AND…..

Meanwhile, across the porous border in Iraq, drought conditions were also worsening. As I write in Failing States, Collapsing Systems, there has been a surprising correlation between the rapid territorial expansion of IS, and the exacerbation of local drought conditions. And these conditions of deepening water scarcity are projected to intensify in coming years and decades.

An Iraqi man walks past a canoe siting on dry, cracked earth in the Chibayish marshes near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah in 2015 (AFP)

The discernable pattern here forms the basis of my model: biophysical processes generate interconnected environmental, energy, economic and food crises – what I call earth system disruption (ESD). ESD, in turn, undermines the capacity of regional states like Iraq and Syria to deliver basic goods and services to their populations. I call this human system destabilisation (HSD).

As states like Iraq and Syria begin to fail as HSD accelerates, those responding – whether they be the Iraqi and Syrian governments, outside powers, militant groups or civil society actors – don’t understand that the breakdowns happening at the levels of state and infrastructure are being driven by deeper systemic ESD processes. Instead, the focus is always on the symptom: and therefore the reaction almost always fails entirely to even begin to address earth system sisruption.

So Bashar al-Assad, rather than recognising the uprising against his regime as a signifier of a deeper systemic shift – symptomatic of a point-of-no-return driven by bigger environmental and energy crises – chose to crackdown on his narrow conception of the problem: angry people.

Even more importantly, Nafeez also agrees with my predictions regarding Saudi Arabia…

The Gulf states are next in line. Collectively, the major oil producers might have far less oil than they claim on their books. Oil analysts at Lux Research estimate that OPEC oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 70 percent. The upshot is that major producers like Saudi Arabia could begin facing serious challenges in sustaining the high levels of production they are used to within the next decade.

Another clear example of exaggeration is in natural gas reserves. Griffiths argues that “resource abundance is not equivalent to an abundance of exploitable energy”.

While the region holds substantial amounts of natural gas, underinvestment due to subsidies, unattractive investment terms, and “challenging extraction conditions” have meant that Middle East producers are “not only unable to monetise their reserves for export, but more fundamentally unable to utilise their reserves to meet domestic energy demands”. 

Starting to sound familiar..? We are doing the exact same thing here in Australia…. It’s becoming ever more clear that Limits to Growth equates to scraping the bottom of the barrel, and the scraping sounds are getting louder by the day.

And oil depletion is only one dimension of the ESD processes at stake. The other is the environmental consequence of exploiting oil.

Over the next three decades, even if climate change is stabilised at an average rise of 2 degrees Celsius, the Max Planck Institute forecasts that the Middle East and North Africa will still face prolonged heatwaves and dust storms that could render much of the region “uninhabitable”. These processes could destroy much of the region’s agricultural potential.

Nafeez finishes with a somewhat hopeful few paragraphs.

Broken models

While some of these climate processes are locked in, their impacts on human systems are not. The old order in the Middle East is, unmistakably, breaking down. It will never return.

But it is not – yet – too late for East and West to see what is actually happening and act now to transition into the inevitable future after fossil fuels.

The battle for Mosul cannot defeat the insurgency, because it is part of a process of human system destabilisation. That process offers no fundamental way of addressing the processes of earth system disruption chipping away at the ground beneath our feet.

The only way to respond meaningfully is to begin to see the crisis for what it is, to look beyond the dynamics of the symptoms of the crisis – the sectarianism, the insurgency, the fighting – and to address the deeper issues. That requires thinking about the world differently, reorienting our mental models of security and prosperity in a way that captures the way human societies are embedded in environmental systems – and responding accordingly.

At that point, perhaps, we might realise that we’re fighting the wrong war, and that as a result, no one is capable of winning.

The way the current crop of morons in charge is behaving, I feel far less hopeful that someone will see the light. There aren’t even worthwhile alternatives to vote for at the moment…  If anything, they are all getting worse at ‘leading the world’ (I of course use the term loosely..), not better. Nor is the media helping, focusing on politics rather than the biophysical issues discussed here.