Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gold hits a peak in GBP

China Ratings Agency Downgrades UK Sovereign Credit Ratings

"Chinese ratings provider Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. said Tuesday it downgraded the local and foreign currency sovereign credit rating of the U.K. from AA- to A+ with a negative outlook".

Posted by alan @ 05:22 PM (3214 views)
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48 thoughts on “Gold hits a peak in GBP

  • general congreve says:

    This is wery bad, wery bad indeed!

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  • what kinda clout do the Chinese ratings agents have?

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  • general congreve says:

    @2 – The Chinese are now standing up and calling a spade, a spade. Seeing as it is up to them when they pull the plug on the dollar etc., so this is where the clout is. So, they’re starting to talk the talk, how long till they walk the walk also?

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  • Clout doesn’t matter. Western ratings agencies only matter because they have legally privileged status – as Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization. Banks etc. are obliged to respect the ratings agencies, no matter how stupid they are.

    Presumably in China the banks have a similar requirement; only with their local agencies, not western ones.

    The market which is most revealing – the CDS swap market – isn’t bound by these regulations, so it shows the market’s true opinion. The markets haven’t budged on this news so obviously nobody is paying them any attention.

    At any rate, neither the UK nor the USA are ever likely to default. They can just keep printing fresh banknotes until inflation licks the debt away. That’s why gold keeps climbing.

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  • not if you import more than you export you can’t.

    The US largest single export is now scrap and rubbish.

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  • @Drewster
    >They can just keep printing fresh banknotes until inflation licks the debt away. That’s why gold keeps climbing.
    I agree, though of course there is no actual printing… just some numbers being produced in the stratosphere, distantly tied to notes and coin. Not sure if it is going to be inflationary though; hard one to call with unemployment on the rise and rise, credit (i.e. money supply) continuing to contract, but globally-traded commodity costs on the up and up.
    N

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  • I’ve said this for a long time too. Western ratings agencies have been down to be asleep at the wheel. And in a parallel universe where countries only listen to their own ratings agencies, how well would the UK fair?

    BTW, is the downgrading of 14 UK banks today coincidental to this revelation? What is the impoverished taxpayer about to be hit with now?

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  • I’d like to think this was a serious player, countering the rather obvious pro US stance of the existing agencies…

    ..unfortunately, a look at their ratings makes me think this is just a self-important proclamation by a bunch of spotty faced kids who really havn’t done their homework…

    ..pity…!

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  • I’ve been away for a few weeks busy with other things but its reassuring to check in to find things haven’t changed. The same cliched mainstream views, day in day out about debt mountains and derivative collapses, and other erstwhile nonsense that I’m convinced are barely understand. But hey understanding isn’t the point, the point is to keep scared, and paralysed or is it just lazy and to devote a good deal of one’s day exchanging with each other the same tired consensus views and half baked quips. Do none of you ever bored?

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  • Bellwether,

    It happened that I found myself with a little time to burn in Oxford today. On a whim, I visited Blackwells book shop to see how many books on Modern Monetary Theory I could find (for those who haven’t been there, Blackwells holds an absolutely massive amount of stock on academic subjects.) I couldn’t find anything. Next, I picked up some monetary theory and macroeconomic books to check the indexes for MMT; still nothing. Due to the amount of material available, I couldn’t check everything but I have to say that finding a textbook on MMT in a particularly large bookstore seemed to be a fruitless exercise.

    As I composed the above, I decided to try eBay for books with “Modern Monetary Theory” in the title. Two hits. One written in 1986 and another written in 1991.

    Next stop Amazon. The same two hits and lots of related books which I suspect don’t really address the issue because they just have the words “Monetary Theory” in the title which is a big field.

    Our MSM frequently discusses “deficit deniers” in the UK and the “debt ceiling” in the US. In a nutshell, you’re preaching to a desert and that’s sure to be a frustrating experience.

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  • Soro’s didn’t fool Le Crunch for a nano second.

    People really need to do some serious research on this shill.

    That goes for you also bellweather.

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  • I’ve been away for a few weeks busy with other things but its reassuring to check in to find things haven’t changed. The same cliched mainstream views, day in day out about debt mountains and derivative collapses, and other erstwhile nonsense that I’m convinced are barely understand. But hey understanding isn’t the point, the point is to keep scared, and paralysed or is it just lazy and to devote a good deal of one’s day exchanging with each other the same tired consensus views and half baked quips. Do none of you ever bored?

    Must have been a terrible knock for your massive ego….

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  • bellwether says:

    Thanks Quiet Guy, an interesting post. Also I can’t really disagree with your conclusion, the mainstream view will tend to prevail even on a site such as this which purports to be contrarian.

    Also perhaps an occasional attempt to argue something a bit different isn’t entirely lost, in addition to us, I count Wadsworth, Shipbuilder and Flash as not being blinded by the debt hysteria/fiat; currency = bits of confetti arguments that seem so hugely popular right now. IWe might not be entirely right , but it beats hanging out with le Crunch, HPW and the good General – who I actually like but who can’t take the hint from the company he’s keeping.

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  • 11. bellwether

    So long as I keep being right, I know I’m on the right track.

    However, I hold no resentment towards others who reap those rewards and would be the first to congratulate anyone for correct foresight.

    If the Euro collapses, which it won’t. lol, I would be the first to admit to techieman that I was wrong about the dollar.

    If the dollar was not downgraded in the future, I would be the first to congratulate flashman. And so forth.

    Hey, we all like to be right, It’s in our survival instincts, so is not listening to BS.

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  • not being blinded by the debt hysteria/fiat; currency = bits of confetti arguments that seem so hugely popular right now.

    Shame really that you failed to buy precious metals and make money before the ”bubble” burst. Still you have your principles.

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  • Bellweather,
    not sure what is on this thread that is inconsistent with MMT – could you enlighten please? In particular, impossibility of US or UK default seems to follow rather directly from this body of thought, a la Bill Mitchell at least. (Regarding whom… apparently he is bringing out a textbook).
    Nick

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  • Isn’t the whole notion of a default rating for a sovereign entity with a floating exchange rate and only local currency debt (so the UK) inconsistent with MMT. Especially an A+ one.

    Quiet Guy – what about Chartalism? That may pop up more in books and is pretty similar.

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  • MMT verses Agendas.

    No contest. Simples!

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  • Nick examples of inconsistencies would be that ratings of sovereign debt are in any sense meaningful or relevant, or that the US somehow needs China to fund it – what with $ that the US can produce at will? This is so obviously nonsense it astonishes me that people actually talk about China funding the US.

    The sale of bonds by the US and the UK is a purely monetary operation to with draining reserves, and has nothing to do with funding these countries. This is not a theory but self evident fact.

    The notion that bond sales has to do with funding a counntry is a pernicious hang over from gold standard

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  • @Bellweather
    re the article itself, OK.
    I agree about the bond sales too. But what about the fact the the chinese, formerly it was the japanese, acquire vast mountains of dollars because of the balance of payments situation? This seems to be what michael hudson means when he talks about other countries financing the US deficit. The US can produce the dollar at will but there is risk ultimately of a crashed dollar. For example if oil were to be traded in a different currency.
    N

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  • These conversations belong in another era. The major shock to the system came years ago and all we are experiencing is the latest in a series of weakening after shocks. The worst has past.

    The only real debate should be about how the recovery will play out. My best guess is that strengthening growth will cause a slightly unruly unwinding of stimulus, which will in turn cause increases in both long and short interest rates. We arrived at the recession after an extended period of growth and low interest rates but it is almost impossible for the conditions that caused that scenario to repeat for the foreseeable future. The next decade is likely to be characterised by lower, more sustainable levels of growth and higher interest rates.

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  • Nick if too many $’s are produced then the value of the $ is adjusted via forex and commodity markets, this would only be a problem if the downward dislocation were huge or if it led to significant inflation. These don’t appear to be a problem right now especially if you strip out the inflation measures that are influenced by recent speculation in commodities.

    The problem is that everyone wants a cheap currency right now, but of course everyone can’t have a cheap currency all at once so various attempts to achieve the goal tend to cancel each out as opposed to leading to what is often referred to as global inflation – which is by defintion impossible as inflation is a relative phen. and (obviously) cannot happen in relation to all currencies at once

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  • I would add to bellwethers post @22 that there is no serious expectation of the Dollar being replaced as reserve currency for the foreseeable future. The next three biggest currency blocks are not remotely viable. China is a communist dictatorship that dares not float its currency. Japan is too small. Europe is not fully integrated. The SDR ‘basket of currencies’ idea has been a dream since 1969 and the hurdles that were discussed then, are as big as ever. The IMF keeps mentioning it because they like the idea of issuing their own money but there is too much serious opposition for that to become a reality

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  • Keep it coming lads.

    I haven’t laughted so much in a long time.

    Even China (not known for it’s fondness of satire) is joining in.

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  • Flash,
    I think you are overoptimistic about the prospects, though for different reasons to the ones being aired here. I’ll say why on a new thread.
    Nick

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  • Actually, scrub that, the articles are old news, but still valid.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/22/peak-oil-department-energy-climate-change
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,715138,00.html
    So contra Bellweather, the price increases are not all down to speculation on commodities. There is one very fundamental commodity, net energy from oil, whose increasing scarcity is a geological certainty.
    N

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  • Commodity prices have risen for a number of complex reasons and one very simple reason, which is that the aggregate world economy is growing.

    Don’t panic about all that determinedly miserable peak oil guff. The major oil companies (it’s really not worth listening to anyone else) say we’ve got enough to meet demand until at least 2050 to 2060. By then they’ll have worked out how to find and extract way more of the stuff. It’s actually more likely that the price of fossil fuels will one day fall because it’ll get largely replaced by alternative sources, long before it runs out. The peak oil crowd tend to be a bunch of Luddite technology deniers. We’ve quite obviously got an incredible abundance of sun, wind, waves and geo to work with and one day in the not too distant future we’ll have commercial nuclear fusion. Britain is already drawing up plans for its first plant with an anticipated switch on date of 2030. When we get fusion, we’ll be swimming in power. Countries like France are far from leaders in alternative energy but even they will only be getting about 55% of their energy from fossil fuels in 9 years time. I actually find it incredible that anyone would deny the probability that we’ll make giant strides in energy technology during the course of the next 40 years. That’s what humans do.

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  • Flash,
    I really don’t think you understand the nature of the peak oil hypothesis. Far from being a bunch of luddite deniers (and even if they were, that is ad hominem) they include some of the world’s most eminent energy scientists, and oil industry insiders. Pay no attention to oil industry official announcements, they are governed by the imperatives of the stock exchange.
    There is no substitute for energy since it can be neither created nor destroyed. Getting more oil out by new technology implies lower net energy return than when the stuff is gushing out under its own accord. Finding more means smaller fields because of the ‘best first’ principle. Fusion is always 20 years away. There is no subsitute for oil because is it so energy dense and easily transportable – you can’t use nuclear or wind power for transport fuels for example. I actually find it incredible that people fail to take this issue seriously – clearly the military do, and clearly our governments do, though not in their public pronouncements.
    N

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  • (let me qualify that… you can have nuclear subs and battery powered cars… but no-one is seriously proposing nuclear or battery powered planes, and people who have looked into it are sceptical about the ability of battery powered cars to substitute for what we have now. Then there is the problem of mining all the heavy metals for batteries without oil; then peak lithium and uranium. etc. etc.)

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  • Peak oil, nothing that a 70% population reduction wouldn’t cure.

    Not my words. See Prince Charles and crew, perhaps they would like to explain why.

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  • “Fusion is always 20 years away”:

    People once said the same things about computers, nuclear fission, the television and no doubt the wheel. It’s already a reality in the lab, so it’s just a matter of time. Fortunately we’ve got decades and when it inevitably happens, we will have almost limitless energy.

    “People who have looked into it are sceptical about the ability of battery powered cars to substitute for what we have now”

    Electric cars have been commercially available for years and they can only get better and better. A Prius can already do 120mph with a range of 400 miles using electricity and biofuel. In 10 years time they will be spectacularly better. Submarines have been nuclear powered for decades. Homes, towns and factories are increasingly supplied by micro generation and large-scale commercial renewables. Technology never stands still and it’s a racing certainty that things will exponentially ramp up from here. There will always be die hard technology deniers but history tells us to ignore them.

    “no-one is seriously proposing nuclear or battery powered planes”).

    They are already starting to be part powered by biojet fuel and there are biojet fuel plants being built all over the world. There’s a £ half billion biojet fuel plant that’s currently going through planning permission in London. It’s entire output for 5 years has been pre-ordered. There’s a legislative road map for the mandatory use of biojet fuel in commercial aircraft and the US military have certified biojet fuel for use in all their aircraft. They are doing this because they don’t want to rely on oil from a country that might turn out to be an enemy (its very little to do with peak oil). There are some very exciting developments with second and third generation biofuel feedstocks that can be grown in salt water fed deserts and they are also starting to harvest biofuel from previously useless algae. Neither of these sources competes with standard food crops.

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  • Skeptical First Time Buyer says:

    @flashgordanman “the energy deficit denier”

    Having worked in fuel systems for an aircraft maker, I point out, you can make an aircraft run on bio-fuels, but where do you get enough bio-fuel from? I think the most likely scenario is that we will be making synthetic fuels via fisher trops from coal.

    The real issue with bio (and the truck industry is competing for the fuel as well, (distances travelled are to far for batteries)) is that you are trying to replace fossil fules that are a store of energy from sunlight that accumulated over millions of years with the somewhat paltry amount of plant matter in comparison, that you can grow in one year). We will simply not have a the same abudence of cheap energy after fossil fuels.

    People who have actually worked in the tech sector are less ambitious about what can be achieved.

    Algae in the desert sounds promising, but a bit of a mission. We can’t even put up the money to put a barrage across the Severn and you are talking about projects that come close to terraforming a planet.

    Having also worked designing wind turbines, I will point out that net energy returns are not huge, the embodied energy in the materials is not insignificant, and at present they break after about 5 years, and have to have bearing and gear replacements. Hardly a reliable energy provider that we can roll out en mass, particularly when you consider the added difficulties of sure , and needing a crane ship to make any significant repairs.

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  • Don’t worry, Mario says it’s all OK!

    youtube.com/watch?v=akm3nYN8aG8

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  • Flash,
    I don;t want to be a stick in the mud, really, but…
    On fusion see e.g. Paul Mobbs (Energy Beyond Oil). It works in the lab but only for a fraction of a second. Never say never, but it doesn’t seem wise to rely on it.
    Biofuels are currently the worst of a bad bunch, I’m afraid. Why? The best performing energy crops only convert about 2% of the incoming energy into biomass. This means there are massive land use requirements for biofuels. Giampietro and Mayumi, who seem to be very respected energy analysts, calculate that therefore even a fraction of the liquid fuels currently coming from oil would need large multiples of the land currently in food production. 2nd and 3rd generation – so far no commercial viability and algae dependent on seeding with fossil fuel CO2. Never say never, but again, it doesn’t seem that we could bet on them. We can rely on oil depletion, on the other hand.

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  • nickb, flashman,

    The big game changer in the energy world is shale gas. This isn’t 20 years in the future – this is right now. There are more than 35,000 active shale-gas wells in the USA alone, and Britain’s first shale well is currently undergoing testing just outside Blackpool. The price of natural gas is actually lower than it was five years ago. How many commodities can say that?

    Compare natural gas prices vs crude oil prices. My next car will run on autogas.

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  • It’s easy to find people who say that everything is impossible but the plain fact is that we are already using large amounts of nuclear power, renewable energy and biofuel. Some of these deniers are still denying what we’ve already got. For example biofuel made from second generation feedstock is already commercially produced. It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that these technologies will have exponentially improved in 20 years time. The ramp up in technology and renewable generation infrastructure has already started to move at a previously unforeseen pace. Fossil fuels will clearly still be around in 50 years time but it’ll have serious competition long before it starts to run low. You wont find too many people who would bet against fusion being on stream in 50 years. The guys in Oxford (JET) and California are very pleased with their recent performance

    On a personal level my house has serious insulation, photovoltaic panels and a heat pump. It uses very little external power. When I’m away from home, the electricity company even has to pay me a tiny amount because my meter runs backwards. That’s one of the reasons why I am a little incredulous when people say that renewables and conservation can’t contribute much. It already can and does. All new houses in the UK have to be zero emission by 2016 and all existing commercial buildings are being legally forced to drastically cut emissions. Imagine how little power our houses will consume in 20 years time when microgeneration and insulation technologies progress and become less expensive.

    History tells us not to bet against the human race

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  • drewster, yes there are enormous supplies of untapped and undiscovered fossil fuels. My grandchildren will still be using them, if they want them

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  • Flashman,
    No one is saying biofuels are not produced. They are not being produced in a commercially viable way without government subsidies and not in a way, so far as I know, that could be sustainable in land use terms. If you think it is, please provide at least a reference or two, so that I can check up on it. As for onwards and upwards into the future, no one has ever refuted Boulding’s dictum that anyone who thinks exponential growth is possible indefinitely in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. It is a physical impossibility.
    History in fact provides several examples of human populations that have succumb to one form of resource depletion or other self-induced environmental catastrophe that they failed to solve. The best known of these is Easter Island, where they cut down so many trees on thin soils (undercutting their main energy sources) that they had a feedback of soil erosion and deforestation, leading to a population crash. but Jarret Diamond makes a fair fist of summarising about 10 others.
    N

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  • @drewster
    Have you heard anything about the environmental consequences of shale gas (France already seems to be banning it), or quantitative analysis (by a non-VI) of how much net energy it is likely to provide?
    N

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  • nickb,

    Yes, I’ve heard the allegations. They have all been rebutted. The French decision was more about protecting attractive landscapes than anything else. Besides, even if France and Britain ban it, we’ll still be able to import shale gas from other countries. The USA is likely to become a net gas exporter soon – five days ago the US government approved the first natural gas exports. Ironically they’re converting an LNG import terminal, which was built a few years ago amid fears that domestic supplies would run out.

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  • You’re reaching with your Boulding’s dictum comment. Technology nearly always develops exponentially until it reaches maturity This process usually only takes a few years or decades so your ‘indefinitely’ comment has absolutely no relevance to this scenario.

    Biofuel is in every tank of petrol and diesel sold in Europe. You use renewables every time you plug in your toaster. It’s already here and its going to greatly increase its share of the energy market, so there is little point in questioning its existence or asking for proof. If it wasn’t considered to be a long term viable solution, then every government in the world wouldn’t be working on it and mandating its use (they are). I imagine that every development in the world has had a few people grumbling about the certain doom that will befall the human race as a consequence of using something new. You appear to feel doomed by the use of the old fossil fuels AND doomed by the use of the new renewables. That’s pretty dark

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  • general congreve says:

    @37 – I’ll give you dark Flashman, try this for size:

    My view is we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t find a long term viable replacement for oil, before it runs out. If it does start to run out as Nickb seems to believe is more likely, then you will see war. I say will see, but we are already seeing it; Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Iran next? How long before it goes full blown?

    On the other hand, if we break nuclear fusion soon, or some other unforeseen ultra abundant, cheap, clean energy source is suddenly found, then what will be the result? Looking back through history, every time we have discovered a more energy rich, more bang for your buck energy source, we have exploited it to the max. Economic growth has boomed, along with technological progress, including the destructive capabilities of our weapons of war and of course the sustainable size of human populations. However, this time it’s not war that really concerns me, or even over population of a crowded planet. It is another factor that has characterised human progress, namely environmental destruction. Just imagine everything suddenly becoming amazingly cheap due to cheap energy input costs. It would mean a gigantic leap forward in standards of living, due to cheaper costs to manufacture goods and therefore cheaper costs to buy them. Ergo, goodbye what is left of earth’s biodiversity and ecosystems under a torrent of tarmac and concrete as every man and his dog finally gets in on western standards of living.

    Maybe that’s too apocalyptic, but it seems to me that everytime we crack a problem, we just create new ones. Maybe the best way forward for humanity would have never been to pick up a piece of bone or a stick and realise we could use it as a tool.

    Having said that I’m not depressed about the whole thing, far from it. I consider myself to be living at or near the peak of human advancement. I mean in what other age would society have provided me with the time and ability to sit on my @rse all day spouting drivel on sites like HPC? Not to mention all the wonders of modern life: health care, education, digital entertainment, motorised travel, international travel, drugs, alcohol, contraception etc. Jeez, I’ve lived a life only wealthy kings of past ages would have got away with thanks to rubbers and the pill! So, as far as I’m concerned on a personal basis, the human race did good, even if the future doesn’t work out as well as we’d collectively like.

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  • “Jeez, I’ve lived a life only wealthy kings of past ages would have got away with thanks to rubbers and the pill!”

    That’s the problem, we were not meant to General. God had a simpler plan for our happiness, Then the Kings came along

    with their money changers and Satan (in the mind) took over. We have all been played.

    Still few people know who or what they are. Is it any wonder.

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  • The General: Was your midwife fantastically ugly with Marmite breath? How does a person become so irrationally gloomy?

    On the one hand you are absolutely delighted by the quality of life provided by human advancement and endeavor, thus far. You even go so far as to say that as a consequence of our serial achievements, we now live like ‘Kings gone by’. You then go on to despairingly claim that it’s definitely all downhill from here, for the human race (“we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t”)

    What you are in effect saying is that the thousands of years of scientific and social progress that has helped you to live ‘better than a King’, will by some massive coincidence, all come to an end, immediately after you have lived your life. The mathematical chances of you being correct are negligible. There have been gloomy sods like you in every generation going back many thousands of years. They were all equally certain that the world was gong to end in disease, pestilence, war or famine. They all thought they had special insight. They were all wrong, so I don’t fancy your odds of being the gloomster that got it right.

    If you are the one in ten million gloomster that got it right, then it wont be because of something as mundane and solvable as oil depletion. We’ve still got several decades worth of discovered fossil fuels and almost certainly hundreds of years worth of undiscovered fossil fuels. There is so much of the stuff that we’ve been able to abandon stuff that we used to use, like coal. Britain alone, has enough coal to last us for several hundred years. If ‘easy’ fossil fuels ran short them we would simply start using the less easy stuff. When we cut off the supply to Germany and South Africa they did just that. Hitler turned coal into oil 70 years ago and the South Africans powered their jet aircraft with biojet fuel decades ago. Technology will make these things even easier in the future, so what is now expensive to extract and use will soon become cheaper.

    In the meantime, we’ve jumped the gun and developed alternative energy sources and nuclear power. We’ve got quite literally, limitless amounts of solar, wind, wave and geo energy. We’ve already harnessed these things, so its just a matter of deciding when we really NEED to use them. All that’s stopping the complete switch over is the abundance of fossil fuels. It would be very expensive to switch over now but we could already theoretically do it with current technology nuclear and renewables. If we can do it now, how easy will it be in 20 or 30 years time?

    As the technology ramps up exponentially (even a gloomster wouldn’t dare say that it wont), we’ll be able to fill the Sahara with solar panels (they’ve already started) and the Oceans with turbines (also already started). Every house and factory will generate all or some of their own power (also already started). In 10 years time the larger western European countries are projected to get almost half of their energy from renewables. We’ve got several decades (and almost certainly much longer) worth of fossil fuels, so if anything we’ve developed renewables way earlier than we needed to.

    “Maybe the best way forward for humanity would have never been to pick up a piece of bone or a stick and realise we could use it as a tool.”

    If you don’t mind General, the rest of us will carry on working, just in case the sky doesn’t fall tomorrow

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  • HAARP, nucular bombs, pollution, GMod food, GPS tracking systems, bio weapons, scanners, and all the rest of it.

    Hitler would have revelled in it. Every advancement has an opposite side to it.

    Do you blindly trust the driver. If you do and you are aware of history, I would call you complacent at best.

    We should all be sitting pretty with all this advancement you speak of. We are not. Go figure.

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  • general congreve says:

    @37 – Fair point Flash and basically the flip side to my argument, so let’s hope for the sake of humanity this particular coin lands with a picture of Flash on the upturned side 😉

    A few caveats though:

    Firstly, if we have to fall back on coal, or just keep on finding viable oil sources for decades to come and have to rely on these because nuclear fusion doesn’t become a reality, is this going to work out well? Of course I am talking about the side effects of climate change. I am not a committed climate changer and believe solar activity has a lot more credit to take than it currently does when looking at weather patterns, but I’m not sure decades more of burning fossil fuels will be all that great for the environment in which we live.

    Secondly, although, I still say that your vision of the future needs to be coupled with a levelling off in human population at a level that is sustainable in parallel with what remains of our ecosystems in the long term. As we have seen in developed countries this seems to be an automatic function of human populations as they become wealthier, healthier and better educated. – So a global levelling off is on the cards, whether 9 billion (for example) is sustainable is another question.

    Thirdly, if fusion is discovered it needs to be coupled with global human responsibility for the planet so that a sustainable future is managed. It doesn’t take more than a few rogue individuals to put technology to bad use for personal gain and thereby cause real problems for the rest of us, i.e. illegal loggers capitalising on cheaper energy to ply their selfish trade until the rainforests are no more or illegal fishers users new technologies to rape the sea yet further until fish stocks completely collapse and the sea becomes a relative desert. This is my main concern with advances in energy production and we are already destroying our forests and pillaging our seas as things stand.

    Having said that, and like I said before, while my views for the future of humanity flirt with doom, personally I am not a gloomy person. The party is currently in full swing for the human race and I for one have been and will continue to get drunk and dance like crazy, who cares about cleaning up the mess, unlikely to be my problem 😉

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  • general congreve says:

    @40 – Whoops, was responding to @39, not @37.

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  • The General: Thanks for the answer. I’ll limit my response to just one thing:

    “Firstly, if we have to fall back on coal, or just keep on finding viable oil sources for decades to come and have to rely on these because nuclear fusion doesn’t become a reality, ”

    Don’t worry about fusion. We won’t have to fall back on coal or hope for fusion because we’ve already got the technology to replace fossil fuels. At the moment the cost differentials are too great, so we chose the cheaper option. Technology will inevitably cause the cost differentials to shrink long before fossil fuels become scarce. We’ve also had the option of nuclear fission for 60 years. The green lobby has prevented the building of new plants but if push comes to shove, we will build as many as we have to. Fusion will happen one day and it will be a tremendous bonus but we are not relying on it.

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