Dave Collum: 2019 Year in Review (Part 1)

Every year, friend-of-the-site David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. As with past years, he has graciously selected PeakProsperity.com as the site where it will be published in full. It's quite longer than our usual posts, but worth the time to read in full. A downloadable pdf of the full article is available here, for those who prefer to do their power-reading offline. — cheers, Adam

David B. Collum Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University Email: dbc6@cornell.edu - Twitter: @DavidBCollum


“I hope David comes to his senses.”

~ Nassim Taleb (@nntaleb), best-selling author and Professor at NYU

It is that time of year again when I sit down and, in a frenzied stream of subconsciousness, bang out my view of the world. It’s my 11th chronicling of human folly and anthropogenic global idiocy (AGI).1 It’s like when Forest Gump jogs: I start writing, go on too long, and then just stop. Forty years of writing about organic chemistry has taught me that you do not understand something till you finish writing about it. Constrained by time—you can’t write an annual synopsis in May—I have made sure to sacrifice quality not length.

“Huge fan. Please continue to remain above the din.”

~ Guy Adami (@GuyAdami), trader and commentator on CNBC’s Fast Money

*I am the din, Guy.

Figure 1. An original by Candace E. Cornell (my wife) dedicated to Jeff Macke (my Bud and the Banksy of Wall Street).

There was a mad chemist named Dave His Year In Review is the rave With Epstein and Powell And repos most foul His comments are sure to be grave. @TheLimerickKing

The writeup is a little different this year; there are fewer topics, especially on the finance side. Despite all the reading, sorting, and culling, I have little to add about Trump, impeachments, beltway politics, and swaths of the finance world. Our debts, pensions, and valuations were beyond repair last December; they have only gotten worse. The markets have been muffin-topping for too long; I am waiting for change and tired of being the Gail Dudek of the modern era. I also fought the Balrog way more than usual on a few topics just to get thumbless grasps. That pain is here for all to see.

For the newcomers, I am a non-Easter Worshipping, openly white male who vaguely remembers being heterosexual. The first section is my first-ever authorized autobiography. This is for parents who think their kids are incorrigible idiots; that won’t change, but your kids might become functional. The Table of Contents follows, allowing you to cherry pick topics.

About the Author–A Brief Autobiography

The question that I am always asked on podcasts is how does a chemist end up writing about economics and politics and why? With that said, here are some low- and high-water marks en route to the present. Think of it as my college essay, including the omnipresent dead grandparent that seems to be irresistible to high school seniors looking for a tear jerker. It’s tangential and vaguely inappropriate but free and worth every penny.

I’ve always had extracurricular stuff, been a little nuts, and located somewhere on the humor spectrum. There were plenty of sports and a smattering of school. The rest was “sex and drugs and rock and roll.” I was getting shitfaced and hitch hiking around town at 12, smoking pot at 14, and dropping acid by 15. I took a friend’s college boards to get him a Texas football scholarship with better scores than on my own. By 12th grade the drugs were in the rearview mirror. Having bagged a 3.4 GPA it was off to Cornell. Really? You can get into Cornell with a 3.4 GPA? In a word, no. Not even close. Rumors of being 1/1024th native American on my paternal grandmother’s side remain undocumented. I was a gymnast at Cornell but, having grown to a towering 6 feet, no Nike endorsements appeared. (Relatively speaking, I sucked.) The admissions mystery resolved itself decades later from my grandfather’s obituary revealing he was Vice Chancellor of the Board of Regents of New York, President of Cornell’s National Alumni Association, and member of the Cornell Council. You think that might have helped, eh? Don’t need bribes with that dossier.

A crash course in maturation—12 hours a day, 7 days a week in the library—got me another 3.4 GPA and a BS in biology. Survival skills? You betcha. Genius? Not a chance. The path, however, was tortuous. Following a one semester non-majors sophomore organic chemistry course—Yup: pre-med—I went straight into a second semester graduate-level organic chemistry course. There were a few bumps—some really big ones actually—but I survived. Taking physical chemistry for laughs but with no calculus and surrounded by engineers was problematic too. My only F on a test at Cornell was a physical chemistry test on “kinetics”, which I basically blew off being too busy trying to not flunk that organic grad course.

Recognizing that my concentration in genetics was leading me into a dying field, I used electives to take more graduate-level organic chemistry courses and then headed off to the Big Apple to study organic chemistry at Columbia. Their peachy idea was to make me take graduate level quantum mechanics—the real stuff with Bessel functions, second-order perturbation theory, and unrecognizable symbols. This time, lacking calculus transcended problematic to third-trimester fugly. An 8 on a test and a totally unearned D foreshadowed greatness. (They had to fake a pass on the now-defunct German test too.) After dodging expulsion, in cahoots with another second-year grad and brand-new assistant professor, I synthesized a molecule that was sufficiently ginormous and complex to catch the world’s attention. After completing my second year of graduate school—two friggin’ years—I was on the job market. WTF? Unsolicited interviews from Cornell and Cal Tech were particularly heady stuff for a total meatloaf. One thing was clear: I was the most overrated graduate student in the 1,000-year history of graduate education. I got my PhD in a little over two and a half years, skipped the usual two-year post-doc, and returned to Cornell at the ripe old age of 25 as the most unprepared assistant professor in history. (It was awkward running into my freshman chemistry TA—the one from whom I earned a C+— trying to finish his degree.)

Undeterred by my lack of prowess in math (polymathless) or kinetics, and never having studied anything with a metal in it, I set out to become…wait for it…an organometallic kineticist. I thought it would be fun. With considerable pride I am now a reasonably prominent organometallic kineticist, although I still can’t count to 21 without removing my shoes and dropping trow. (That joke caught me some serious flak at a meeting from angry prototypes of social justice warriors.)

As an assistant professor, I was also head gymnastics coach for two years and casual gymnast for four. I took up Taekwondo, eventually attaining the rank of 3rd dan (3rd degree black belt). The TKD team members and I loved the symbolism-rich beatings on each other. It was probably my happiest decade. After some health issues, a subsequent back surgery, and a failed comeback, my next goal was to get fat as shit and way out of shape. I was a natural. I also am now a chair professor and was director of undergraduate and graduate studies, associate chair, and department chair for four years (four years longer than I should have been), prompting many to channel Scott McNealy and ask, “What were they thinking?” I have enough scars—chicks dig scars—to guarantee I will not be a dean of any flavor. All this time my wife’s chronic health problems called on me to do waaaay more child rearing of two boys than I had bargained for. I really don’t want to hear whining about how hard it is to balance personal and professional lives. It’s fiction. If your gonads are big enough, gravity keeps you grounded through the chaos.

So now you can see that writing about politics and economics as a chemist follows the pattern. I became a financially woke boomer and hunkered down. I will retire from chemistry at either 70 or 75, identify as a 20-year-old super model, and walk the runway for Victoria’s Secret.


Trigger Warning:

This is satirical and comedic. Somebody has to get hurt. Today it may be your turn. If you are a douche bag who cannot take a joke, remember: nobody is making you read this.

Footnotes appear as superscripts with hyperlinks in the Links section. The whole beast can be downloaded as a single PDF here or viewed in parts via the hot-linked contents as follows:

Part 1

Part 2  


I read many blogs, but those I read religiously include mailings from Ron Griess’s The Chart Store, Jim Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, Bill Fleckenstein’s Daily Rap, Tony Greer’s daily TGMacro mailings, Grant Williams Things That Make You Go Hmmm, Automatic Earth, Jesse Felder’s blog, and selected podcasts from Grant Williams’ and Raoul Pal’s RealVisionTV. I am a huge supporter of Adam Taggart’s and Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity. And then there’s Zerohedge: you can love ‘em or hate ‘em, but I am a die-hard fan of Zerohedge.

“Maturing is realizing how many things don't require your comment.”

~ @LifeTipsPage

The personalized chat board called Twitter is also amazing. For a chemist trying to snarf up wisdom outside my discipline, it is irreplaceable. Although you can follow anybody you want, it gets special when you get the double follow—you follow each other—because communication kicks up three notches. You both see each other’s Tweets, and you can direct message (chat privately). My double access to such luminaries increased in 2019 to include Bass, Hussman, Adami, Bianco, the Pomboys, McClellan, Mish, Achuthan, Hemke, Roche, and Chanos. And then there are those “holy shit” moments that are Twitter Trophy Catches:

The challenge posed by Twitter, however, is that you progress from being highly connected to hyper connected, which mutates you from a reader to a responder. I haven’t fully adapted because I’m having too much fun. Customized “lists” become imperative. Of course, there’s no shortage of people to fill your echo chamber and trolls to question your parentage.

Creation of the Year in Review

“It was either write or die for me.”

~ Michael Hastings, killed while researching corruption in the FBI

I am also asked how and why I write this beast? I wake at around 7:00 AM, make The Boss breakfast, read and open email, go to work, and camp in front of my computer doing my job and my “extracurriculars.” I am in front of a computer for 18 waking hours day, which leaves plenty of time for both work and screwing off. The weekends are no different. All year I throw notes, quotes, and links into word files kept open on all computers and drag graphics into folders. By October I have amassed up to 1500 graphics and approximately 500-600 pages that look like this:

I sort in October, write in November, and edit in December. (During crunch time it invades my work day.) By the end of November I am in the Valley of Death having amassed >120 pages of poorly written, unedited, unreferenced, and humorless text unsupported with graphics. That is my Epstein moment, but I edit my way out.

“The brightest people I have met share a superpower that would serve investors well—the ability to make inherently complex things simple and understandable.”

~ Jim O’Shaunghnessy (@jposhaughnessy), Founder, Chairman & Co-Chief Investment Officer, OSAM LLC

Why bother is a relatively subtle question that I have to answer for myself every October. Many let news events, pithy quotes, world-class wise cracks, deep thoughts, flashes of wisdom, and random musings pass them by into the void of lost memories. I try to capture and make sense of them. This is true even for the parts that reside on the cutting room floor mercifully hidden from the reader.

“I know. You get it, but let me write it anyway. I need the catharsis.”

~ Grant Williams (@ttmygh), hedge fund manager, blogger, and founder of RealVisionTV

My Personal Year

“The only thing nearly as enlightening as reading David Collum's epic Year in Review is listening to him and Chris Martenson riff about its highlights. Strap in, grab some eggnog, and listen to this year's recap.”

~ Seeking Alpha (@SeekingAlpha), finance blog

“You have a great voice—a combination of Andy Rooney and Albert Brooks.”

~ Mark Spiegel (@mrkbspiegel), Stanphyl Capital and “wiseguy”

I did a lot of interviews and podcasts this year, all unscripted. I’ve concluded that there is almost no topic for which I cannot muster an opinion. A record-setting seven chats with Chris Irons at Quoth the Raven (QTR) included one that lit off some fireworks (below).1–7 (It is said that those who curse are “more authentic.” Chris and I are the Real McCoys.) Phil Kennedy orchestrated three multi-participant interviews with gold bugs Dave Kranzler of Investment Research Dynamics, Bill Murphy of GATA, Rob Kirby of Kirby Analytics, Peter Hug, Mises Institute head Jeff Deist, and Bitcoin hodler Trace Mayer.8,9 A Zach Abraham interview (KYRRadio) was a planned prelude to a debate with David Andolfatto of the Saint Louis Fed that broke off at the last minute.10 (I suspect David finally realized he doesn’t share my views of the Fed.)

Other podcasts include long-time friends and confidants Jim Kunstler11 and Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity,12 Kenneth Ameduri of Crush the Street,13 Craig Hemke of TF Metals Report,14 Jason Burack of Main Street for Wall Street,15 Elijah Johnson of Silver Doctors,16 Patrick Donohoe on Wealth Standard Podcast,17 Jason Hartman of the Creating Wealth Podcast,18 Lee Stranahan and Garland Nixon on RT’s Fault Lines,19 Kevin Muir and Patrick Ceresna on Market Huddle,20 Sam McCulloch on End of the Chain (out of Moscow),21 and the San Francisco Book Review,22 State of the Markets Podcast with Tim Price and Paul Rodriguez,23 Fergus Hodgson and Brien Lundin of the Gold Newsletter Podcast,24 Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert on RT’s Keiser Report,25 and even a local radio show.26

“One reason I quit doing interviews after years and years and years was because I was making things up.”

~ Bernie Taupin, Elton John’s lyricist

I got a bucket-list interview with Tony Greer on RealVisionTV that became “The Lost Episode”. The fully formatted 50-minute version disappeared and was replaced by a relatively content-free seven-minute version mysteriously timed with a staff change.27 It was gone until divine intervention resurrected it just weeks ago.28 Now if I can get one more—a Joe Rogan podcast—it will be off with Frodo on the boat loaded with elven chicks to a better place.

I seem to get up to my kneecaps in at least one brouhaha each year. This year I joined a flash mob that included some serious academic thought leaders like Pinkus and Petersen to keep Peter Boghossian from getting fired from Portland State.29 I also unknowingly joined forces with Donald Trump Jr. and Nigel Farage to pressure Facebook to stop blocking links to Zerohedge articles.30 Meet-ups with Tony Greer, Steve Moore, and Hootie (Figure 2) were notable. My amateur profiling of Moore detected profound concern about Kavanaugh-like hearings for his appointment to the Federal Reserve. I suggested beta blockers. He dropped out instead. Could be worse, Steve: Hootie died of West Nile Virus that night. People, not places or activities, are my bucket list.

Figure 2. Moore, Greer, and Hootie (over shoulder).

A few million bucks arriving from the National Institutes of Health for five years of research is what Wall Street calls “fuck-you money.” My record of 22 out of 23 funded Federal grants over the last three decades is satisfying given how many folks assured me I would never get funded. I published a modest 7 papers, but they are beasts. My current goal is to convince the chemistry world that after 4.5 billion years it is about God-damned time we take organosodium chemistry seriously.

I live a Utopian existence in Ithaca, the #1-ranked college town for the third year in a row.31 My colleagues are great because we work hard to avoid dickweeds [insert joke here]. Real estate is cheap: my house hangs off a 100-foot cliff looking over Cayuga Lake with a 12-minute commute to work along the lake. A potential brush with Parkinson’s disease proved to be mild “essential tremors” (the Katherine Hepburn Golden Pond thing). I did, however, convince the neurologist that I am a seriously twisted bastard.


"I fought the Fed, and the Fed won."

Over my 40 years I’ve done pretty well despite painfully sitting out the most recent decade-long equity 'roid rage hunkered down with gold (about 25%), laddered 2-year treasuries, and a TIAA fixed-income account paying out guaranteed 3.6% per annum. My house is too costly to not call an asset and will likely track inflation over the years when taxes and expenses are factored in.1 For me, investing is all about valuations and process. While many were selling in fear in ‘08–’09, I was buying way too timidly out of greed. I had joined the ranks of those who could not fathom that central banks would dump over $20 trillion into the system and acted on that disbelief while others rode the rip. Thousands saw the bubble and ensuing crisis in ‘08–’09, but nobody saw the interventions. The central banks clipped 5–10 years off a standard secular bear market and pulled markets off valuations that never dropped significantly below historical “fair value”. (Read that again: it is true.) I am pondering how not to repeat mistakes made in the next recession while not making even bigger ones when the Fed is shown to be impotent. I hope to buy stocks that act like real bonds—pay you to own them—because I don’t think capital gains from story stocks will be the game (see Japan).

Last year I spilled my guts providing 20 metrics showing equities were >2x over historical fair value.2 It’s only gotten worse, so go read it cause I am not gonna repeat it. What I will do is offer a plot that I created last year (Figure 3). Those blue lines represent blocks of time that the inflation-adjusted capital gains (ex-dividends, fees, taxes, and demographics) treaded water. It should scare the crap out of y’all because they are 40–75 years long. As the boomers become more and more late cycle and old enough to be carbon dated, their days of averaging into the markets are over. If you are fully invested at a secular top, your pain will follow you to the old folks home or to a van down by the river.

"Noah: How long can you tread water?"

~ God

Figure 3. Inflation-adjusted S&P capital gains. Blue arrows show time required to return to the previous secular peak for the last time (hopefully). (Chart without arrows came care of Ron Griess of The Chart Store.)

How’d I do in 2019? My clinical paranoia has largely kept me very light on equities. I missed the fake-meat bubble, and long discussions with Todd Harrison failed to get me into the pot stocks. For a while I felt stupid watching them run up 300%, but the jury started re-deliberating. (They gave it all back.) My biggest equity positions are tobacco, which disappointed in 2019 after their newly acquired vaping companies started killing people. Deja vu all over again. But here is an important point that will come in handy, maybe even profoundly important, in the future: those companies paid me huge dividends over the decades just to own them. There is a case for buying even more based on large cash flows, potentially rising dividends, and manageable debt,3 but the next big whoosh seems so close now. My faith-based pessimism means I’ll wait.

My large gold and much smaller silver positions went up 19% and 16%, respectively. Gold equities don’t interest me as levered proxies for the price of gold. I remain unconvinced they know how to generate cash flow. Fixed income returns were nominally positive but surely did not beat the real (uncooked) inflation. I am well aware that bond traders might try to scalp a trade, but low-net-worth investors should buy investments whose stated return is acceptable rather than fixed-income timeshares. That, for example, excludes 10- and 30-year treasuries in my world. I have routinely saved 20–30% of my gross salary every year but have formally started passing wealth along to the next generation. Preliminary estimates put my savings at 15% of my gross salary and overall wealth accrual at 5.7%, about 1.4 gross-salary multiples.


Almond-Eyed Aliens and Other Conspiracy Theories

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”

~ Albert Einstein

“The only thing dumber than believing in conspiracy theories is believing in none.”

~ Nassim Taleb

Every year I denounce those who use “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” pejoratively, but that Tweet hit a nerve.1 Chris Irons of Quoth the Raven pounced, and we did a three-hour podcast in which Chris dragged my sorry ass through every imaginable popular theory including 9/11—I’m a truther—to moon landings, false flags, and almond-eyed aliens.2 (If you were an alien who traveled across the galaxy would you make a crop circle, drill through some guy’s eyeballs, and then leave?) I listened to the interview twice and heard nothing deplorable, but something—probably the mention of the school shootings—triggered the YouTube Gestapo:

That was catnip for Chris. Out popped colorful headlines like…3

My dean must be proud. The funny part is that about a week later YouTube made some very public declarations:

“YouTube to delete thousands of accounts after it bans supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and other ‘harmful’ users.”

~ The Independent

“Without an open system, diverse and authentic voices have trouble breaking through.”

~ Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO inviting “offensive” content back onto the site

Don’t believe Wojcicki for a minute. YouTube’s newest rules turned the knob to 11 on the neo-Stalinist scale. The Supreme Court must align the Constitution with the digital world (before it becomes ruthless). Your honors: please stop fretting over baked cakes and revisit the interface of free speech and private corporations.

The whole affair inspired me to read Michael Shermer’s new book on the hows and whys of conspiracy theories and theorists (See “Books”)—a kind of penitence. To say my review is unflattering would be an understatement. That guy can suck my salty balls. Meanwhile, the FBI has declared “conspiracy theorists” to be “domestic terrorist threats”.4 I am way too old for Fertilizing the Tree of Liberty, but don’t push me.


"When the Trump tweet went out, I went from 93% invested to net flat, and bought a bunch of Treasuries... Gold’s not bad either"

~ Druckenmiller on Mexican trade war

”...mainstream commentators have made a point of dismissing anyone sympathetic to a gold standard as crankish or unqualified. But it is wholly legitimate, and entirely prudent, to question the infallibility of the Federal Reserve in calibrating the money supply to the needs of the economy….it’s entirely reasonable to ask whether this might be better assured by linking the supply of money and credit to gold...Central bankers, and their defenders, have proven less than omniscient.”

~ Judy Shelton, one of Trump’s possible appointments to the Federal Reserve

“I believe it would be both risk-reducing and return-enhancing to consider adding gold to one's portfolio."

~ Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates

“I maintain my call to hedge the equity risk in a portfolio with gold, since bondholders are most likely to be the victims of the next crisis.”

~ Charles Gave, founder of GaveKal

"The best trade is going to be gold...It has everything going for it in a world where rates are conceivably going to zero in the United States."

~ Paul Tudor Jones, legendary hedge fund manager

“Here is the best thing about gold: It yields more than 11 trillion dollars’ worth of bonds. So, it’s a high yield asset.”

~ James Grant, before negative yielding bonds reached $17 trillion

“…it's possible that we go into a recession. That would make one think that rates in the US go back toward the zero bound, and in the course of that situation, gold is going to scream."

~ Paul Tudor Jones

“For the first time in my life, I bought gold because it is a good hedge. Supply is shrinking and that is going to have a positive impact on the price.”

~ Sam Zell, real estate mogul and the founder of Equity Group Investments

“If you want to ever own gold, the time to do it was last summer.”

~ Jeff Gundlach (@TruthGundlach), Doubline CEO

“...central banks to ease more aggressively, making gold an even more attractive asset to hold."

~ Bill Dudley, former president of the New York Federal Reserve and ex-Goldman

If you wanna see the best bullish case for gold that I have ever seen, check out this talk by Grant Williams.1 Gold had a good but relatively uneventful year, sitting at $1250 this time last year and currently $1487 (+19%). Silver posted a more modest 16% gain (Figure 4). An 8-day winning streak was the longest since 2011. That was fun despite the end-of-year pullback. Given that the alternative hedges (bonds) offer little

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/2019-year-in-review-part-1/

As the data stands, I see there are two ways to see climate change.
(1) Political power and money grubbing banks have been accumulating around the topic of climate change for their own benefit AND it is real.
(2) Political power and money grubbing banks have been accumulating around the topic of climate change for their own benefit BUT it is not real.
I think Dave Collum has done a superb job of raising the degree to which legitimate scientists have been ostracized and stifled as they try to bring forward their research that might not fit the dominant narrative which, as pointed out above, has a lot of very interested power players on board.
What if…what if the power structures have known about peak oil as a reality for a long time? What if they didn’t know about shale oil (like the rest of us at the time) and that goes a long ways towards explaining the many lies and falsehoods behind attacking Iraq?
What if their plan has always been to be “on top” of the heap that scrambles for the last dregs of oil as things wind down? What if they rightly concluded that fighting for the oil was not an option, not in this world of hypersonic missiles and the fact that China has a land route to the Middle East while the rest of the OECD has to sail there?
What if given all that they settled on another strategy for getting that oil for themselves? What would that strategy look like?
There really aren’t that many ways to get it “peacefully” but one of those would include “convince the rest of the world that they cannot afford it.” This is especially awesome if you can simply print up hundreds of billions of dollars per month without any seeming consequence because you and your locked-in central banker ring have got all the financial ““markets”” under complete control.
Well, now you need some sort of a narrative that supports that angle. But what might do the trick? Probably has to be something really large, something existential. Preferably something that you can lock out the poor people by making it such that they can’t afford to pay the taxes and levies that are placed upon the oil to save the earth. Sorry Africa and Asia! You were just too late to participate.
I remain open to either option (1) or (2) being correct because I am data dependent. I am deeply troubled by the heat waves we’ve been seeing around the world these past few years, and the diminishing age and extent of sea ice in the arctic, and I am also scrutinizing the Maunder minimum, worrying about a decades long cold spell, and thinking about installing extensive glass paneled (for longevity) greenhouses on my new property.
I’m holding both worries at the same time.
But one thing I am not confused about is that, as a scientist, I am always deeply offended by obvious societal and cultural pressures to shut down any full inquiry into anything. There are legitimate, data-driven, empirical studies about vaccine loading and how the current all-at-once schedule is not optimal yet this information is literally and metaphorically shouted down…which only serves to make me more curious about it.
Many thanks to SandPuppy and others for opening my eyes and bring the data to that gunfight.
I am also counter-averse to the charge of “conspiracy theorist!” As soon as I hear that I know (1) I am speaking with someone who is prone to absorbing MSM-CIA talking points without critical evaluation and (2) that the topic probably is worth looking into.
Dave Collum has done a great service in assembling a huge array of legit climate scientists who are saying the same thing; they are being shut down for reasons other than peer-review and logic. It means that there’s a different script running. At least one that is different than the fable of science we tell ourselves … the one that centers on the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Any good science welcomes any and all challengers. It is not threatened in the slightest by new comers with probing questions and new experiments. It only detests shoddy science, cherry-picked data, and false conclusions.
Just something to think about.

There’s another explanation for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which also explains Libya. Saddam started selling his oil for Euros. Gaddafi created the gold Dinar which he saw as a way for Africa to shed the French Franc and US Dollar. Both leaders were a threat to dollar hegemony and had to go.

That’s how I’ve always seen it too – just because the political power and money grubbing banks have been accumulating around the topic of climate change for their own benefit – doesn’t mean that climate change isn’t real. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I put little to no faith in charts since both sides of the debate seem adept at producing them and you have no idea of the validity of the data underlying them. Those charts amount to nothing more than pretty pictures. I’d strongly lean towards anthropogenic climate change being real since the precautionary principle would clearly suggest that doubling the concentration of one of the main greenhouse gases is going to have SOME significant impact on climate, especially since the Earth is 14 C warmer than it would otherwise be if there were no greenhouse gases at all, and the obvious trend would be a higher temperature if you increase GHG concentrations… seems pretty obvious to me.
That being said I am highly disappointed with the popular discussion around climate change. IMHO it completely misses the mark and we aren’t even discussing the right things. That really should come as no surprise to me at this point, being the justifiably cynical person I am when it comes to anything mainstream, since ANYTHING talked about in the mainstream is never given proper treatment and inevitably turns into a partisan circus designed to inflame both sides of an issue, get them focusing on red herring nonsense and muddle the whole thing rather than further widespread understanding and come to some kind of a resolution. It’s almost as if those in power DON’T want people understanding the issue — LOL who’d a thunk??
The climate seems to be getting a lot of media attention lately and I’ve learned enough to know that anything of significance that gets on the media is there because it is allowed to, and/or purposely put there for a reason. There is clearly some other motive for the emergence of this subject onto the scene lately. What that is, I’m not sure exactly but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. Most likely some kind of new spending and taxation scheme to further enrich the military industrial complex.
On the Greta Thunberg side, how many times do we need to hear about how “we need to do something” to fight climate change, but are never really told of any practical specific actions this would entail (and the results we could expect) other than throwing some solar panels wind turbines out there which, as we have learned from places like Peak Prosperity, don’t have a hope in hell of making any difference to emissions due to their low EROEI and dependence on fossil fuels for manufacture – never even mind the implications of Jevon’s Paradox even if solar panels were able to achieve decent EROEI. Simply put, the climate alarmist camp has no idea whatsoever what is required to reduce carbon emissions, nor of the economic consequences of this, nor of how to mitigate those economic consequences.
Secondly, the entire climate debate we are suffering through is almost pointless because, as I think most of us on this site accept, it is far too late to do anything about it anyways. Sorry Greta, you were just born 50 years too late. We have passed tipping points and clearly humanity could not survive without fossil fuels. Given a choice between 7 billion people starving or the Marshall Islands sinking, is there even a contest? Alternative energy will not be able to step up to take over from fossil fuels. Climate change WILL occur, and all remaining easily accessibly fossil fuels with reasonable EROEI WILL come out of the ground. End of story. Let’s move on to adaptation strategies.
And then on the other side you have the climate deniers who seem to completely miss the point that fossil fuels are running out and we will be forced to decarbonize regardless. The sooner we transition, the better we’ll all be. Instead they go on and on about the economic impacts of addressing climate change and seem equally ignorant of how the economy truly works as the climate alarmists do. First of all, since when have economists argued that spending money is bad for the economy? Not for many many decades, more like centuries. But for some reason, when it comes to spending money to fight climate change, that’s bad and we can’t afford it. But more importantly, it’s a totally bass ackward argument – because it won’t cost ANYTHING to reduce carbon emissions. We will SAVE money by reducing emissions.
The ONLY way to reduce carbon emissions is to stop economic growth (and this will only be a part time reduction since as I pointed out above, all of the fossil fuels will be eventually be coming out of the ground – it merely stretches that out over a longer time frame). We could dramatically reduce carbon emissions tomorrow, literally, if we wanted to, and it wouldn’t cost a thing. If we stopped economic growth we would have no more need for new housing developments and infrastructure and all the emissions related to building those, no need to support this pointless consumer culture to prop up the markets and all the emissions related to making and transporting all that crap, less of a need for mined materials and all the emissions associated with getting the metals out of the ground and refined down. Instead, we could stop economic growth tomorrow and 75% of the people could just take a deep breath of that 400 ppm CO2 air, relax and go for a walk in the park. Bam, done. Right there, emissions would drop at least 50% across the board, tomorrow. So we would save all that money that would otherwise be wasted on new suburbs we don’t need, crappy new gas guzzlers we don’t need, and all the other crap we think we need but don’t – we’d save trillion$.
But… as we all know, the inevitable consequence of stopping and reversing economic growth is a deflationary depression – massive unemployment and a collapsed financial system, leading to social chaos. But this is a consequence of the rigged system that the elites have set up to rape and pillage the middle class. It is not a necessary conclusion. Rather, the elites’ economists just aren’t smart enough to think up alternative systems that would not result in this consequence, and those systems would not be favourable for the elites… but society could take back all the wealth, redistribute it amongst the 99%, and cancel all debt and mortgages. Then the average person really could just sit at home and go for a walk in the park most of the time, and all he’d have to worry about is buying food and a bit of energy. The rest of his life could be relaxation time with his family and pursuing hobbies, the way it should be when we have robots doing so many of our jobs for us. He’d need to work a few hours a week to afford that. It really is that simple, at least technically. The hard part is kicking the elites out.
And as a final note, I wouldn’t give Patrick Moore any credit. He doesn’t deserve to be quoted.
“Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore notes that at 280 ppm we were nearly carbon starved compared with prior ages. Even 400 ppm is starved by historical standards.”
What he conveniently neglects to mention is that the sun was dimmer back then when CO2 was higher.

This was the needle in Uma’s chest in Kill Bill.’ Shouldn’t that be Pulp Fiction? Thanks, Dave! Please give us a 4 hour recap on the QTR podcast.

My intent was to sow the seeds of doubt in the climate story, not to refute it but to regenerate discussion of the type that appears here. That you cannot contest the climate change models is precisely why I contest the climate change models. Half of what I said may be wrong, but only the free market of ideas will show that. In any event, I am a peak oil/peak resource guy and big detractor of plastics-based pollution. We need alternative energies. We need to consume less. All these principles are likely common to Chris’s and Adam’s readers.
Wish y’all well. Thanks for reaching the comments section (of part 1).

Whether you are a peak resource hawk, or a climate hawk, your “action item list” is roughly equivalent. [yes?]
As I’ve said other places, I think it is interesting that the aims of “climate people” involve transitioning off fossil fuels “to save the planet” (or to save our happy spot on said planet), which provides a more positive motivation for humanity than transitioning off fossil fuels because we are running out of them.
As a meta-strategy or “problem framing”, I think a “climate emergency” framing is better, since the “running out” (shortage) mind-set will drive humans to scramble for the remaining resources (and all the wasteful and destructive warfare that will entail) while “saving the planet” necessarily means NOT scrambling for the remaining resources because if you do this, you are “killing the planet.” (boo - you are a bad person - and you are dooming us all too!)
“In the simulations that the CFR Projections group ran, the ‘saving the planet’ scenarios had substantially better outcomes than ‘we’re running out of resources’ scenarios.”
[for the humor impaired - I’m making that last one up. But the sense of it does feel right.]
Of course, others have figured out how effective this is, and are now employing climate framing in order to justify socialism! Doh!

Superb post Chris, one of the best you’ve written and one I will save to e-mail friends and acquaintances and especially those I might be at ideological odds with. Ditto for the kudos to Sandpuppy on the vaccines as well as a number of other issues. He has picked up the topics started years ago here (that were then banished to “the basement”) and has run with them and taken them to new heights. And I love Dave Collum. I think we share a lot of DNA for how our brains are wired.
I think we always need to keep in mind certain thoughts when dealing with corporate and government entities, more so the more powerful they are:
(1) Assume they are lying until you can prove they’re telling the truth.
(2) Assume when they tell you it’s for your own good, your safety, or the children, it isn’t.
(3) Assume they will always support their well being and/or existence over yours. It’s convenient and accurate to think of them in terms of being collective (as opposed to individual) sociopaths.
(4) Assume that if they are censoring it, it is something that would be good for you to know and is probably closer to the truth than what they are promoting in its place.
(5) Assume that if they are cramming “something” down your throat, you shouldn’t trust “the something”.
(6) Assume that if you can’t question it or them, something is wrong with it or them (along with its corollary of, if they are trying to silence you on something, it’s probably something that should be spoken out about).
(7) They will continue doing what they’ve always done (and worse) unless they encounter strong resistance. Be the strong resistance. Encourage others to do likewise. People often ask me, why do you fight this entity or that entity about this or that? I tell them because if you let the bastards get away with it, they just want more and more and more. Give them some of their own medicine and they start to rethink their actions. Along this line, I applaud the folks in Virginia fighting the 2nd Amendment threat with sanctuary counties and other measures and I mourn the New Zealanders (a nation and people that I respect) who’ve seemingly rolled over so readily on the issue.

AO wrote - I mourn the New Zealanders (a nation and people that I respect) who’ve seemingly rolled over so readily on the issue.
Don’t be so sure about that. The arms buyback scheme closed on Friday reportedly with only 15 - 25% of banned guns having actually been surrendered. So there is obviously major dissent here and I suspect there will be a considerable backlash against our esteemed Prime Minister in next years election

Best book you’ll ever read on the vaccines issue:

Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History
Book by Roman Bystrianyk and Suzanne Humphries
The ONLY way to reduce carbon emissions is to stop economic growth
That's entirely true, at least according to the past 51 years of data. I'm thoroughly unaware of any way to switch over to alt-energy solutions that doesn't require the extensive use of fossil fuels to install, maintain and then eventually replace these systems. I am thoroughly unaware of any closed-loop installations where alt-energy systems make the energy that is used to completely to install, maintain and then eventually replace themselves. I am thoroughly unaware of any studies being performed to run the basic energy balance equations that would seek to answer any of these questions:
  • How much of the estimated remaining fossil fuels would be required to build the new energy infrastructure?
  • How much of the energy output of the new alt-energy systems would be required to maintain them?
  • What fraction of the energy output of the new alt-energy systems would be required to rebuild them?
These are dead-simple questions to raise. How much of the remaining energy is going to be needed to build the new systems and how much of their own output would be required to keep them going indefinitely? Seems pretty obvious. As obvious as needing a household budget. Yet nobody is tasked with these questions, and funding is slight. I know of only a handful of university professors taking a swipe at these very deeply thorny questions and - surprise! - the ones that make the biggest splash say how easy this all will be if only we'd just get up and do it!
The Global Price Tag for 100 Percent Renewable Energy: $73 Trillion A global effort to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 would cost nations $73 trillion upfront — but the expense will pay for itself in under seven years, according to a new report from researchers at Stanford University. The study also found that the shift to a zero-carbon global economy would create 28.6 million more full-time jobs than if nations continue their current reliance on fossil fuels. The report, published in the journal One Earth, presents detailed roadmaps for how 143 countries that account for 99.7 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions could successfully transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
See? Just spend a few bucks, create nearly 30 million new jobs in the process (which is very growthy, so instantly supported by the in-crowd) and it will all pay for itself in under 7 years! Some follow up questions I have:
  • How many manufacturing facilities have these professors run?
  • How many logistics companies have they operated?
  • What evidence do they have that we'll be able to conduct mining operations, operate vast cargo ships, and fly jumbo jets using electricity?
The answers are zero, zero, and none. The "study" is a mess of assumptions and jargon that are sure to impress other academics, but which your average policy maker will find rather incomprehensible. Example from the summary "results" section:
We first projected 2016 end-use BAU energy in multiple energy sectors in 143 countries to 2050 (Note S3). 2050 BAU end-use energy loads were then electrified, the electricity for which was provided by WWS energy (Notes S4–S12). Table 2 and Figure S1 indicate that transitioning from BAU to WWS energy in 143 countries reduces 2050 annual average demand for end-use power (defined in Note S3) by 57.1% (case WWS-D in Table 2). Of this, 38.3 percentage points are due to the efficiency of using WWS electricity over combustion; 12.1 percentage points are due to eliminating energy in the mining, transporting, and refining of fossil fuels; and 6.6 percentage points are due to improvements in end-use energy efficiency and reduced energy use beyond those in the BAU case. Of the 38.3% reduction due to the efficiency advantage of WWS electricity, 21.7 percentage points are due to the efficiency advantage of WWS transportation, 3.4 percentage points are due to the efficiency advantage of WWS electricity for industrial heat, and 13.2 percentage points are due to the efficiency advantage of heat pumps.
ZZZzzzzzzzz...*snork* whut? Just to pull out one assumption is this one, the calculated energy savings from no longer exploiting fossil fuels: "12.1 percentage points are due to eliminating energy in the mining, transporting, and refining of fossil fuels" They are claiming 12.1% energy 'savings' (which is a lot) because we're no longer digging up or using oil, gas or coal. Okay, fine, but where's the energy 'ding' for having to mine, manufacture and sell nearly a billion EV vehicles (planes, trains, ships and automobiles)? Is there enough lithium for that project? That's not stated. The costs of the conversion are nowhere to be seen. I guess those just magically appear via some magic market mechanisms or something? No matter, this hopeful fantasy of "if we just decided to do it, it would be easy, self-liquidating and make more jobs!" is exactly what the dominant growth-oriented belief system wants to hear. If you said it any other way ("geez, fellas, it's going to be hard, uncertain, and possibly a colossal failure, we don't honestly know") you wouldn't get that tasty media splash that keeps your department chair happy. Again, this chart must be kept front and center, and reconciled with whatever hopes and dreams any plan might have.

Some of us STILL think that the observed data (settled science) has been linked to CO2 because that narrative provides a mechanism to centralize power. The dogmatic refusal to consider the effects of other factors and the religious zeal of ACC proponents says it all to me. But hey, I’m a lost cause anyway - I still think 9/11 was an inside job, peak oil is real, and Epstein didn’t kill himself.


That you (Chris) and Dave Collum and the other good people on this site… seem to be the only people on the planet connecting these dots. You all make total sense but no one anywhere puts this together the way you all do. When I read at the peakoilbarrel site, some (awesome people) get this but many are in the renewable energytopia camp. When I read fintwit they get the debt/dollar problems but not limits to resources. Seems like climate change people are in the renewable energytopia camp also and as Dave points out not questioning CC assumptions more deeply.
What am I trying to say? What is it with people that so few people outside of this site put everything together as you all do.
I am reading Ugo Bardi’s Seneca Collapse book right now and would like to just recommend it to everyone. Chris - I would be great to have him back on to discuss it. I guess deep down my biggest fear is of a harsh decline curve (which to me is looking very likely) because so many systems on the way down could collapse at the same time.
Happy holidays to all! You all keep me going all year long!

That is good news David but is their dissent hidden or out there and vocal? To me, 15 to 25% is still too many. I remember a similar measure passed by the state legislature in New Jersey in the USA many years ago banning any semi-automatic rifle with larger than a 5 round magazine as an “assault weapon”. If I recall correctly, there were only a few hundred guns turned in when there were an estimated number in the high hundreds of thousands that were still out there. So the number turned in were less than 0.1%. I know in my neck of the woods, there is NO ONE I know who owns a firearm who will turn it in … NO ONE! And by and large, our law enforcement would side with the public on this issue.

I think your post really captures much what has been lying, unorganized, in the back of my mind for quite some time. I edited it down for brevity. This is something I need to post on my fridge - it is just a collection of utter common sense. I’ll repeat it again just because I liked it so much:
(1) Assume they are lying until you can prove they’re telling the truth.
(2) Assume when they tell you it’s for your own good, your safety, or the children, it isn’t.
(3) Assume they will always support their well being and/or existence over yours.
(4) Assume that if they are censoring it, it is something that would be good for you to know and is probably closer to the truth than what they are promoting in its place.
(5) Assume that if they are cramming “something” down your throat, you shouldn’t trust “the something”.
(6) Assume that if you can’t question it or them, something is wrong with it or them.
(7) They will continue doing what they’ve always done (and worse) unless they encounter strong resistance.
It may not be right in every single instance - but boy. Right pretty darned often.

Speaking of common sense, Dave:

It may be that Nature has marked them for extinction.And maybe there’s nothing we can do about it. ?‍♂️


You mention growing barley in Greenland as an indication that the earth has been warmer in the recent past, but being able to grow barley in Greenland is an indication that Greenland was warmer in the past. Do we have temperature records from around the globe from that time frame that indicates average global temps were higher then than now? I don’t believe we do. So the only conclusion we can come to about growing barley in Greenland is that Greenland temps–and coastal Greenland at that–were warmer in the past.