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« Celebrating the Darkness of Winter Solstice | Main | Financial Sense Newshour Podcast - Interview »

March 20, 2016

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GaryA

Welcome back George. Yes the ironical contrast springtime renewal and social disintegration-this is very apparent in Europe stirred up by the epic incompetence of the EU and their fantasy policies of expansion and technocratic neoliberalism. Libya Ukraine Syria fuelled the migration crisis-the floods of displaced peoples and economic migrants-those 'doomer' predictions of 15 years ago are happening right now. Here in Blighty we have the EU referendum coming up soon and its a depressing if predictable sight to see the left wing 'progressives' siding with the political establishment, bankers landowners and multicultural fantasists and campaigning for the remain side. They are living in the past of 'what the EU has done for us' rather than facing the reality of what it has been doing recently- Greece, TTIP, sell off public assets directives etc etc. A Golden opportunity to cause mayhem in financial markets and conditions for real change squandered for the sake of belief and ideology. here will be no voluntary transformation there will be no revolution only a slow collapse..every glimpse of insurrection Tipras, Corbyn, Sanders, Podomos will fizzle out into ideological sectarianism.
On a personal level I drop out and get out into nature and innocence...the only thing worth looking forward to is the past.

D

I can't decide whether Hillary or Donald best embody the Maximum Power Principle. Even though we have likely reached the limits to growth, they continue to promise more growth and rewards. The human brain is an elaborate reward sensing and acquisition organ to the exclusion of almost all else. The mind space is seemingly dominated by thoughts and plans to acquire more reward. When will we have a politician trumpeting the benefits of economic contraction? Never. It takes promises of reward to make the human brain release enough dopamine to get a person to cast a vote. Bernie's going to provide free college education for everyone, Trump will initiate the Third Reich of American capitalist dominance and Hillary has goodies for everyone. The ecosystem is already being trounced by direct impacts of technological growth, introduction of exotic species, and now it will be beaten back and forth by climate change. Even if it were possible to provide a preview of the horrors of the backside of the Limits to Growth curves for every human mind, it would soon be forgotten and reward acquisition would once again dominate even in the face of accelerating deterioration of both the ecosystem and the technological system. Even though a lot of information and complexity are being racked up in the technological system at the moment while even more is being lost in the ecosystem, it seems that in the end it's going to be a bust with much of the ecological information lost and almost all of the technological information lost. I guess we'll see.


George Mobus

@GaryA,

Thanks. I haven't been gone, just very busy with book writing. Besides I just don't know what needs questioning any more!!! ;^)

After the news of the morning about Brussels I could use a few days in the wilderness myself! Flying through Frankfurt in a couple of weeks. Hope the terrorists don't think it is worth the trouble! But honestly there are no safe havens anymore. If it isn't human caused terrorism it is human caused destruction of everything else.

--------------------------------
@D,

Growth! More! What a concept. More and more I think we are directly observing the reason for the Fermi Paradox.

George

Tony

Hi George,
I have written something about Trump and Sanders but in Chinese:
/ Now we see, with the increasing distance between the global's Top and bottom, two directions begin to appear: one is the opposition by the bottoms, like Jeremy Corbyn, Bernard Sanders, their way is as shown in the second figure (so called the "left"); another is racial/national-protectionism, like Donald Trump, Le Pen, their way is as shown in the first figure (so called the "right"). /
[in Chinese]http://tonyphuah.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/nation-stratum-closer

It’s good as long as not over-/too much. • Moderation • balance

Tony

Philip Bogdonoff

Allan Savory has been posting some essay about managing complexity, e.g.: http://savory.global/allanUncensored/managing-complexity


George Mobus

@Tony,

Thanks for the link. Without the labels in the figures, though (in English!) I'm not sure I grasped the "story."

-------------------------------------
@Philip,

Thanks for the link. I will check it out. In my book I do explore the nature of the hierarchical cybernetic governance system and how evolution always seems to favor systems that adopt it to manage complexity.

George

Desmond Smith

Hi George,

The problem I see with this "whole systems" approach is that you can produce explanations after the fact which are compatible with almost anything. Since everything is connected to everything else, potentially any consequence could be explained as feedback loops between components in this highly interconnected system. For that matter, almost anything could be explained as energy decline propagating through the system. As a result, I don't see how these predictions and ideas are falsifiable or risky, or how they would satisfy the criteria of science.

This is especially true when explanations are offered after the fact. What you and others anticipated back in 2007 or so was the collapse of civilization because of peak oil and peak energy, etc. That didn't happen, so now you are talking about dysfunctions in the education system, etc, as consequences of complex energy interactions. Peak oil didn't happen, but test scores are down, so these theories are right anyway (test scores aren't actually down, but you get the point). It appears that almost ANYTHING bad can serve as confirmation of the theory.

As an example, you refer to "dysfunctions" in the political system, the economic system, the education system, and so on. The question I find myself asking is: when have these systems not been dysfunctional? There have been periodic booms and crashes in the economy for centuries, going back further than the 17th century. There were swings in oil prices 30+ years ago.

I just don't see how these things satisfy the criteria of falsifiability and risky predictions. Could you point out to me which risky falsifiable predictions have been made and subsequently confirmed for these theories about complex whole systems?

Thanks,
-Tom S

George Mobus

@Desmond,

Thanks for the observation. However I think you have missed something extremely important. In fact the peak of conventional oil DID occur as predicted and only because of the high prices that resulted did oil and gas companies resort to fracking and the tar sands operations in Alberta become profitable. These unconventional sources are far more expensive in money and energy costs than conventional extraction so they can only sustain as long as oil prices remain high. But here is the not-well-known fact about fracking that is the real cause of the oil glut and subsequent drop in prices. Fracked oil and gas wells, if they are lucky to hit a "sweet spot" immediately start producing at maximum rates - far more than conventional wells. The rush to drill and produce oil did produce a temporary glut that drove prices down. But it is also the case that these production rates do not last long. The oil flow peters out much sooner than for conventional wells. Furthermore, the total volume of oil produced is far less per well than for conventional wells. Thus the glut that was produced will soon turn to a deficit.

But now these companies are abandoning operations because they cannot afford to continue drilling to keep up the production rates needed. Ergo we will be seeing the glut of oil start to diminish even with Iran, for example, increasing its output. Total oil production will peak as predicted and will likely cause the price to rise again. We may see several cycles of increased production followed by another glut, a fall of in production and a subsequent deficit. It will likely look like a roller coaster ride but always trending in the downward direction.

The peak of oil is still a reality, even when masked by these last-ditch efforts.

If you look really closely you will see that civilization is collapsing and if you look really carefully, for example, at the ground conditions in much of the MENA region you will see that declining energy per capita is a major actual cause of the unrest in the region. We have a tendency to try to explain what is happening in Syria by political causes, but this ignores the deeper reasons that people are rebelling.

In the US the declining net energy (and hence wealth) per capita is having a major impact on education. Did you see the memo from the Chancellor at Berkeley? Public universities all over the country are in panic mode because of drying up funding from states. Those, in turn, are having harder times making budgets balance, hence ignoring the funding of higher ed as somehow optional.

Not sure what risk has to do with the prediction of phenomena making it scientific. As I pointed out above the peak of oil is still very much alive and well and having an adverse effect on global economies.

As for dysfunctions in institutions, you are right to point out that there has always been some dysfunctional things going on for almost ever. However, the current nature of the dysfunctions (bad decision making) and the level of impact they are having is substantially greater than what we have seen historically. In my mind that and the fact that they are global in scope makes this worthy of comment!

George

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