The Vital Connection Between Oil and The Economy Revealed in Two Simple Charts

There’s a huge, glaring defect at the core of our financial and economic system, and it’s sitting in plain sight.

Surprisingly, few people are aware of it, and I can reveal it in just two simple charts. One of the growth in debt, the other in the relationship between economic growth and oil consumption.

It’s really a math problem; we’re attempting to exponentially increase our monetary/currency/debt claims on a world of limited and finite energy resources.

If you can connect these dots, you will be able to foresee the future in a way that very few others can. It is powerful information that can (and should) change your life.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Hydrogen To Helium

Let’s say scientist’s can even get this to production. Then all we will do is grow grow grow until we deplete our oceans and destroy the world or magically go Startrek and deplete other worlds.


Good news on that front! They apparently have this enzyme that splits water now, and by the time this is operational we’ll be swimming in that (er… sorry) because the icecaps will have melted.

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Re: melting icecaps
Q: Why are rivers in Germany and US showing significantly low levels, to the point of impairing or stopping commercial shipments?
The story I’ve heard for decades about global warming melting icecaps and raising sea levels implied river levels should rise too.
This seems to falsify the rising sea level fear.


Rivers go out to the sea, dependent on rain.


Yay, Helium!

All that helium being generated by fusion energy will drop the cost of party balloons (and blimps)!


Cheap Energy Isn’t Enough

Lots of cheap energy won’t solve much if the energy is electricity. How do you move it from where it was created to where it’s needed. How is it consumed? Copper is a big part of both. Lots of rare metals are needed to make anything move with the electricity, or even more if you want to store the energy.
Where is all that going to come from?.


The other problem people dismiss is that our current economic system was based around oil. Countries base their future promises (pensions, medicare, etc) around the oil they export, rather than use. If Saudi Arabia can’t sell its oil, it collapses. So if something is to replace oil, it needs to have the entire system built around it so it can generate revenue for the politicians.

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Great, we can all talk like silly little kids with a high pitched voice all for mere pennies. ?


Surpassing Break-even

Spoofing the fusion break-even announcement (ignoring that pesky factor of 100x needed to drive the lasers…), xkcd comic weighs in:


Money Is An Exchange For Energy

Money is a common exchange mechanism for someone else’s energy: whether purchasing harvested wheat, a fabricated fork, a kiln fired bowl or a constructed house. When energy units decline, money looses value in comparison to the smaller supply of energy, even as claims on that money loose greater value.
What are the best energy sources to invest in? Timber, solar, a large diesel storage tank?


Per Capita

Chris, great presentation. Simple and compelling.
There is one more component to the “solution.” Restructure the financial system. Yes. But the new system has to exist longer on diminishing resources. One way to stretch out the supply is to reduce aggregate demand. A great way to do that is to dramatically reduce the population. Lots of cool ways to accomplish that goal.

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How will it end? Elon Musk is doing a great job, hope the military
tribunals do their job. Isn’t life interesting?

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Fusion Energy

Seems like it’s been “just around the corner” since the 1970s.
The real metric is total energy in vs energy out. The marketing trick is to select which energy units to include on the input side. Do it like they did and you get perpetual motion.
The output power here is a rounding error of the input power. Forget to carry the two, or have a typo in a spreadsheet, and even this amount goes away.
Entropy means every energy conversion step generates losses. High energy lasers are really efficient water heaters (as water is often used to cool them). The higher the power of the laser, generally the less efficient. Little diode lasers are relatively efficient at converting electrons to photons. The big guns… not so much. Lots of heat.
And oh yeah… the high energy in the laser pulses often damages the optics, so they need to be inspected, cleaned, and sometimes replaced between firing. I’ll bet that cost is not factored in.
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch - in economics or in physics.
So why fund it? Hope.


Best Summary Todate

First a comment then a question.
The only missing bit was your graph of oil energy return (energy extracted/energy expended to enable that extraction) vs time. This concept helps me explain the oil challenges to my friends and associates. Shallow pressurized gushers of the early 1900’s are gone, past peak, depleted and there are no more. Deep drilling, horizontal drilling, fracking, deep sea drilling are today and getting more and more difficult (energy expended in mining). Everybody gets the concept, the reduction in energy return and that when the return =1, game over even though there is still oil in the earth. It’s just too hard to get and extract.
chris, one problem I have is I have never lived through a financial system collapse. What does it look like exactly. A few/some/many/all banks cease to exist like Lehman and Bear Sterns? Currency becomes worthless? A Big Mac costs $1000+? If existing currency disappears, does another arise to replace or is bartering chickens for turnips or as SouthPark would say handjobs for crack? With a debased currency, stocks and bonds wither in value, corporations cease to function and everyone is unemployed?
sounds like Hollywood and not true. How many hundred years did it take for Rome to decline before it ceased to exist? The USSR dissolution was pretty abrupt after publication of Gulag Archipelago and Chernobyl disaster. The UK empire took decades to erode to current state. India fell from riches in1600’s to 1948’s low and rebuilding well underway today. Will this follow those patterns or is the set of factors of peak oil, utter corruption of most western governments in concert, exponential debt based economies with over zealous central banks across the western world, and the pace of web-based transaction and information spread come together for a novel event unlike all others?


Aren’t many rivers in the lower 48 and Germany fed by glaciers.

Great post. I just hope the final solution the cabal has in mind is not massive population reduction. That would solve all the problems.


I think they fund fusion research because a) it won’t work, and b) they want to still be able to show how very hard they’re working on alternatives, while keeping their axis of control (crude oil) in place.
Here’s a similar thing on treating alzheimers.
Below is a clinical trial on niacinamide & alzheimers. It took 6 years to complete. It recruited 50 people. (Must have been awfully hard to find alzheimers patients back in 2008). It came up with no result. Conclusion: run another 5-year trial, with another 50 people. This allows NIH to say “oh yes we are DEFINITELY looking into niacinamide.” Meanwhile drug companies get 4000 patients in their trials that take 3 years, get nowhere, injure a bunch of people, but whose drugs get approved anyway, and they can charge $50,000/year because “there are no other options.”
Its a scam.
Safety Study of Nicotinamide to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
What do they call it in football when you are ahead, you like things to stay just how they are, so you do nothing for as long as possible, in order to run out the clock? Make a few first downs, but don’t really try to score.
So that’s what “fusion research” is to me. They’re just running out the clock.
Kinda curious how the age 80+ oligarchs never seem to get Alzheimers. “Its a big club. And you ain’t in it.”


Nice, Clear Presentation Chris, Shared!

Tim Morgan at Surplus Energy Economics totally understands that money = a claim on future surplus energy.
Good to see that others beside us at PP are clear eyed about the primary relationship between energy and the economy
Definitely worth a visit

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Fusion Energy Prospects

Usable fusion is even further off than Chris’ excellent presentation suggests.
(1) Everyone is working on the most accessible reaction which is deuterium+tritium (both are isotopes of hydrogen). Deuterium is relatively easy to extract by processing sea-water. But tritium decays with a half-life of 12 years, so it must be made rather than found. Typically, tritium is made by irradiating lithium - sounds like we need fission reactors to make the tritium.
(2) Pure deuterium-deuterium or deuterium-hydrogen (or even hydrogen-hydrogen) reactions could be used, but they need higher temperatures and pressures than deuterium-tritium.
(3) The most likely first practical fusion reactor will be of the tokamak design (cf. the ITER ignition project), however they need to exceed a certain size and power before their ignition won’t be snuffed out by dissipation. That translates into big centralised facilities with all the vulnerabilities and distribution problems of huge scale and centralisation. Using alternative reactions, noted in (2) above, makes this problem worse.
In sum: necessarily huge scale limits useful deployment; sourcing tritium fuel is problematic; more easily sourced fuels exacerbate the scale problem.