The End of the European Project?

  • Joschka Fischer, former German Vice-Chancellor
  • Paul Gillespie, columnist at The Irish Times
  • David O’Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service

Date:                            Monday 23 January 2012 from 7.15 to 8.45pm

Venue:                         Edmund Burke Theatre, Arts Building, TCD

European integration has been described as riding a bicycle – if you stop, you fall off. Many claim that the only solution to the eurozone crisis is greater European integration, but it is clear that there is little popular appetite for this.

The event will be chaired by Elaine Byrne, Lecturer in the Political Science Department, TCD.

More details here.

43 replies on “The End of the European Project?”

This era of Globalisation has reached its peak – like other periods before this time.
Efforts should be about rebuilding national structures & utilities dismantled since 1987 while maintaining trade connections to achieve maximum output.
I.e. we can no longer domestically manufacture most capital goods – but the core cannot sustain their technological capital base by just developing their domestic infrastructure.
A classic example of this is Alstom Trams – the French are installing trams in their towns less then half the size of Cork which has obvious very large scale wastage costs.

Wider European demand from Larger peripheral Euro towns should work to increase their exports and maintain a larger more efficient industrial ecosystem.

But if you scale up this model any further huge energy losses will occur making the project even more impractical then it is already.

We are not the US – the Histories of both Continents are very different , replicating the American experiment will lead to a greater disaster.

Anyone else getting sick of Neo Malthusian postings?

Some of us are quite happy living in 21st century and rather not go back to some idealised version of Victorian Era or Stone Age as being advocated by Luddite Enviro Fascist streak of the Green movement.

Show me the BTUs
This is not about ideology.
Ideology is a method of capture.
Why does musings about energy have to be “Green”
Energy both its cultivation and capture is what has driven civilisation and indeed hunter gatherers since the beginning.
I am not a Maltusian – unlike Richard Toll I believe.
I believe in real capital appreciation ,not taking capital from the future and spending it today.
I like Top Gear as much as the next guy but recognize it as just a bit of fun.
You cannot have petrol heads without petrol.

@Dork we have enough “known” supplies of uranium, plutonium and thorium that can be used using existing technologies and recycled (something that is not done more of due to proliferation concerns) using existing and proven technologies to power the world for many thousands of years

Thats more than enough time for engineers to make fusion commercially viable 😀

Theres your BTUs my young Jedi ecowarrior, now come and join the dark (Dork?) side

That is a much more capital intensive process that indeed should be have been done yesterday.
But the economics of Nuclear is radically different.
The high capital cost means much less consumer durables will not be made – see houses , cars , computers ,fridges. etc etc.
When you build Nuclear you must spend real money and not credit – this creates a energy glut (too much electricity and not enough wealth to utilise this energy)
PS underneath the Limestone Castlemaine probally has thee mother load of Uranium resourses.
Anyway a Nuclear economy is radically different from a Petro economy – we might not be able to make the transition.

Provisional data 2010
Road freight : 733 KTOE
Private car : 2021 KTOE
Public passenger : 204 KTOE
Rail : 44 KTOE
Domestic aviation : 34 KTOE

Residential oil use : 1174 KTOE

Road freight : 733 KTOE
Private car :1899 KTOE
Public passenger :187KTOE
Rail : 44 KTOE
Domestic Aviation : 14 Ktoe

Residential oil use :1267 KTOE


Road freight : 1296 KTOE
Private car : 2160 KTOE
Public passenger :188 KTOE
Rail : 47 KTOE
Domestic aviation : 42 KTOE

Residential oil use : 1127 KTOE

Notice the huge drop in road freight caused by a collapse in commerce yet we continue to pay nearly equal amounts if you look at our national accounts.

Our Infrastructure is now a energy sink – not fit for purpose unless China collapses in on itself.

@EIS: “(we) have enough “known” supplies of uranium, plutonium and thorium that can be used using existing technologies and recycled (something that is not done more of due to proliferation concerns) using existing and proven technologies to power the world for many thousands of years.”

Yes, but … …

The Thorium matter is something that must be sorted out. No idea how (not being a physicist) but it is feasible. Better do it fast though. Navy have small nukes. That’s the design we need.

Power: The generation of electricity (by whatever means) requires significant amounts of liquid hydrocarbon fuels [LHF]: (build-out, maintenance, repairs, renewals). Absent that liquid its lights out! The squeeze is on LHF. Big time! Not obvious, so not many are waving arms about to attract attention. Ignore the price signals – the whole price in LHF is deeply manipulated. Count the tanker cargoes leaving the producer ports.

Buy Dork a pint of Beamish!


I really don’t understand why it is so vital that integration “goes on forever”. Carried to its logical conclusion, integration means we’d all end up as clones living in homogeneous pods.

We had a great EU back in 2000. It wasn’t perfect, but it ticked along and generally made life better for everyone. Now we have the Euro and as has been elsewhere described, we’re living in a hotel California which we can check out of but never actually leave.

The EU has become a prison for nation states. This must be rolled back.

I seem to remember that a “bicycle ” analogy was used by the Scandinavian “JunList” in the 2004 EP elections.

If I remember correctly the idea was that what starts out as a nice cycle in the countryside might bring you you to somewhere less pleasant if you get distracted or do not pay attention to where you are travelling. 🙂

@ EIS: 2020 – 2025 time range. Warning: Long explanation!

This is not my prediction. But I am accepting it, as I trust the source (Jeffrey Brown), a consulting oil engineer in Texas. I am offering no personal warranty.

The situation (according to Brown) is that Total Global Production has ‘flatlined’ since 2005. Now, before I go any further with this, some VIP caveats.

The data for global production of Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels [LHF] can only be proxied from actual shipments. The producers are a lying bunch of sphintures when it comes to actual production values. Worse, the financial virus critters have infected the LHF market (both spot and forward) so the actual posted prices are a most unreliable indicator of real supply-demand. Speculation is a factor, but the nature and extent of this is shrouded in a fog of disinformation. Bad scene.

So. What you need to locate is the aggregate amount of LHF consumed domestically by the major producers (there are 33 of these): they’r the Nett Exporters. Rem: these critters are outright liers. There are a small number of major producers (11, I think) who are deficient in LHF, and who are Nett LHF Importers. In total there are 160 LHF Importers (give or take a couple).

OK. We can quesstimate the Total Global Production [TGP] of LHF production (using the domestic producer consumption, plus known shipment values). Not ideal, there are errors an omissions, but it has to suffice for the moment. BP publishes some production and export stats, and these are generally regared as reliable. Analysis of the data shows that TGP has virtually flatlined since 2005 – its up a tad, but not a statistically signifcant amount. What is exported is known as the Global Nett Export [GNE], of LHF.

The next step is to isolate China and India (Chindia) and combine them into a single, mass importer. That leaves 158 (Irl being one). Deduct from GNE the quantity that Chindia is importing (its increasing exponentially) and you get the value that matters to us – the Available Nett Exports [ANE] for the rest of us consuming critters. This latter value is declining – exponentially! If things continue as-usual. Chindia will take ALL GNE by 2025! And the 158 will be singing ‘Dixi’. Now I do not think this will occur, but you get a sense of the LHF supply predicament we are facing into.

Some shills witter on about ‘alternatives’, ‘green technologies’, ‘renewables’ (re-usable is the proper term), ‘wave power’ and such like guff. What they totally fail to mention is our mandatory need for a significant (its guesstimated at 15%) of our energy resource as LHF. Its mandatory! If we do not have this amount available, all electricity generation will decline, decay and die! Electricity is v-good for large semi-mobile machinery, but a tad useless up the side of a Connemara mountain. Or seven miles east of Courtown Harbour. I credit the shills with stupidity, not malice.

Nuke would be good (for baseload electricity). But its politically radioactive!

That’s the ‘good’ news, I’ll leave the ‘bad’ news for a ‘bad’ news day.

Please do not hestiate to come back to me for answers or clarification. I’ll do my best. The ‘lights’ will not literally, ‘go out’. But they could well be dimmed! And RyanAir will be a museum exhibit! 🙂



Just as Ireland’s rise especially post 1987 was a very artifical event – so is our present contraction – but it must be seen in a wider context.
The Imperium is dying either because of Grave policey errors or deliberate malthusian decisions taken in the late 60s which began to bear fruit in the 80s , we ate this tempory credit harvest and are now slowly decaying.
Seen from the centre the Brain must cut off circulation to its extremities so that it can sustain itself just a little bit longer.
The fact that our surpluses are merely feeding consumption in the financial sector & not capital growth even in the core is proof the body is decaying.

Europe’s rise in energy import dependency over the years is clinical proof of entropy.
Europe is full of Surgeons now – there only cure is to cut off the leg , the hand , everything & anything but don’t listen to the bloody pathologist.

Caught that NCC Don Quixote thingy – tilting at off shore windmills now………….
Going back to late Medieval technology with a maritime twist when the Edwardian infrastructure is starring at them in the face……….
God help us & save us.

The 1950s /1970s American Graffiti culture has infected Europe’s Brain

The Euro Project is in transition; it can be observed if one has the proper spiritual perspective.

Fiat money is dying as a result of banking insolvency and sovereign insolvency in the Eurozone; with the result being failure of global growth.

Banking insolvency in the European Financials, EUFN, especially the National Bank of Greece, NBG, means ongoing currency failure globally, persistent economic contraction, and continued diminished world trade.

Sovereign insolvency will spread from the EU periphery to the EU core. The loss of debt sovereignty will be a catalyst for the formation of a European Super State based upon unified fiscal rules. Bank failures and EU Treasury auction failures, will be the defining issues of the year. These will cause leaders to meet in summits, waive national sovereignty, establish a unified federal authority, mandate a European fiscal union, and establish either the ECB or the Bundesbank, that is Buba, as the Euro’s Bank.

Life in Europe will be characterized as a totalitarian collective. Totalitarian collectivism is the EU’s future. European Socialism will die in 2012. Diktat will provide seigniorage to replace the seigniorage of treasury bonds. Diktat will become a currency, that is a payment used in the exchange of goods or services.

Gary of Between relates that Welt reports Europe’s interbank market is frozen and the continent’s banks are only lending to each other through the ECB due to a lack of confidence within the financial industry, World Bank President Robert Zoellick was quoted as saying. If European banks don’t lend to each other, how can others in the U.S. or in China be expected to do it, Zoellick said.

The seigniorage of fiat money is failing, and the seigniorage of diktat is rising in its place, as is seen in the rise of power of the EU ECB IMF Troika to appoint technocratic government in Greece and Italy. Diktat is rising as a currency to dominate mankind. Libertarian’s desire for Freedom and Free Enterprise are a mirage on the Neoauthoritarian Desert of the Real. And Choice is an epitaph on Neoliberalism’s tombstone.

Bible prophecy of Revelation 13:3-4 foretells that a world wide credit bust and global financial collapse is coming, and that regional global governance will be established. This was foretold long ago when the prophet Daniel explained the Statue of the Progression of Empires to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2:31-33.

For much, much more on bible prophecy, please consider reading here

The bike thing isn’t great. No point in keeping cycling just so you don’t fall off. Sooner or later you have to stop – else there’s no point in getting on the bike.
If you fall off a bike – you pick yourself up and you can get back on the bike or you can walk.
So – for Europe – the best option is to bring the bike to a gentle stop, get off it and look around. Then we have the option of deciding whether we want to stay where we are, get back on the bike or just start walking.

For all its Treaties – Europe has no values. There is no ten commandments – no magna carta – nothing for the ordinary person to get their teeth into. And to get really silly about this a Union without values is like a bike without a headlight – it’s bound to crash once it gets dark


“Bible prophecy of Revelation 13:3-4 foretells that a world wide credit bust and global financial collapse is coming”

Even by some of the standards on this thread, that’s a bit of a stretch even for someone like me, who actually believes in conspiracies. I can see a lot of ‘beasts’ and ‘dragons’ in that Revelationas quote but I don’t see much mention of interbank credit, capitalism, burning bondholders or CDS’s….. but then, I’m a godless heathen.

@ Eureka

Europe has no values

To put it mildly, this is a dumb statement.

There is no Utopia but Europe is a beacon to the rest of the world in respect of the rights of its citizens, including women, racial minorities and gay people.

At a practical level, why is an EU directive deadline necessary to get clean water in Ireland?

Uniquely, each successive enlargement has taken in poorer countries than existing ones including Ireland.

“ECB’s Asmussen warns of softening of EU fiscal pact”

in german:
“EZB kritisiert Aufweichung des Fiskalpakts”

and on the topic of “The End of the European (Project) Institutions?” you can read in the german article:
“Fierce criticism of the treaty negotiations came from the European Parliament. The involvement of parliaments and the Commission had been severely restricted. The head of the SPD deputies Rapkay Bernhard spoke of a “declaration of war against the parliament and the European institutions”.”

@ All

Two speeches, one by Joschka Fischer, the other by Angela Merkel, provide suitable bookends for a decade of EU institutional navel-gazing – largely instigated by Germany – which has not ended well.

It is, therefore, ironic in the extreme that there has been a sudden re-discovery of the value of the Community method, on which the EU was founded, and which should never have been abandoned in the first place (and never was fully in practice).

The explanation for this abandonment is dissimulated but in reality rather obvious; the larger Member States, and most notably France, were unwilling to see their influence diminish, as they saw it, in an enlarged EU. Unfortunately, as the recent largely manufactured schism with the UK has revealed, the inter-governmental path was not the one to take.

The end of the European project is not in sight. Its preservation requires a return to the use of, and respect for, the institutions, most notably the ECB, that have been holding it together while a gaggle of inadequate political leaders have been done their best to undermine it. There has been such indulgence in “summitry” that the European Council itself has lost nearly all credibility, if it is not subjected to ridicule. One would like to think that this is what has brought about a change of heart. But the real explanation is the scepticism of the markets and their unwillingness to take appearances for reality.

The paradoxical aspect is that the level of economic integration is now such that a debate at a European level appears to be beginning involving alliances between politicians across borders with regard to dealing with particular issues, the most obvious recent example being the opposition of the junior partner in the German governing coalition to the introduction of an FTT on any other than a Europe-wide basis. Europe and the euro are also major themes in the coming French presidential and parliamentary elections.

This is the most hopeful sign.

Missed the biofuel component in private car use – which was a surprisingly large 92KTOE
Most of which appears to be imported biodiesel now ?
All liquid fuel biofuel production seems to be a marginal activity at best anyhow.
Irish times April 2011
“FOUR BIODIESEL plants which could be processing 60 million litres of renewable fuel for the Irish economy have been “mothballed” because of cheap imports of biofuels from outside the EU, the National Bioenergy Conference was told yesterday”

But perhaps ethanol derived from sugarbeet is best for Ireland given the natural crop rotation cycle in some south & east farms.

Brian see you back on this thread in 2022 so

provided the Green eco fascists dont get their way and we are not all back living in caves by then 🙁

The world of next 10 years will use MORE energy not less, and no it will not rely solely on fossil but a mix of nuclear (as politicians wake up to fact that it provides cheap reliable base power), renewables (A green bubble will inflate and burst in next decade) more efficiency and more importantly something you and Dork are ignoring > GAS proven reserves stand at few hundred years of current use thanks to recent revolution in extraction technologies

that should tie the world nicely until 2030s when fusion is finally commercially viable as per the end of the ITER project (under construction in france)

The world of next few decades will be more crowded but the standard of living of all people will rise continuing the trend of last few decades, along with more energy usage

The Irish might be happy to go back living in caves and farming fields for potatoes surrounded by expensive wind turbines white elephants, but the rest of the world will be quite fine.

Peak energy is a rather silly thing to be worrying about in a world where each atom in the glass of water next to your table holds a shit load of energy as per Einsteins famous equation, all of that energy awaiting engineers and scientists (provided money is spend on research not banks!) to do what they do best 🙂
And if they fail we have plenty of gas for few hundred years without even considering nuclear.


What I think we are seeing is a slow recognition that it is impossible to sustain optical illusions and to suspend disbelief indefinitely and an equally slow acceptance that the informed consent of citizens is required to secure some resolution of the current mess. The EU’s Grand Panjandrums are reluctant to allow too much reality to intrude too quickly on the Euro project, which is probably the grandest optical illusion of them all. Too many cosseted narrow, but influential, sectional economic interest have their snouts in the trough. But it can’t be kept at bay for ever.

And the requirement to secure increased democratic legitimacy is proving equally fraught, because the Grand Panjandrums had previously ridden roughshod over this requirement when they were constructing their optical illusions. And now that their consent is required, voters are keen to impose some punishment for the cavalier way they had been treated previously. It will be messy and populist, nationalistic and, sadly, xenophobic elements will be mollified or confronted.

But better this than the optical illusion and a continuation of this phoney war.

I never said much about living in caves or toiling in fields…………except in my darker moments – but there is such thing as elegance of design
( I believe this is hardwired in our brains if we wish to access it as it naturally saves work) rather then brute force although sometimes massive power is conversely the most effiecent mechanism although very hard to control both from a poltical & economic viewpoint.

But there something very sad about the Irish landscape.

I don’t think the inherent lack of cohesion & order subtractions in Irish habitation patterns will just disappear.
The fuel oil inputs needed are now just too great.

Its such a shame we have all become petrol heads.
There was a great but sad beauty in the Irish landscape once , now its mostly sad.
Still there is beauty present out there if you care to find it.

Foynes & indeed the North Kerry line could have good tourist potential for the typical British Boffin tourist who generally have more money to spend then your average bear.
There is such a wealth of little architectural gems in the place given its relative agricultural richness for such a westerly place.

@EIS: Lost track of the thread!

Those eco critters will get the shortest shrift of their lives when the city folks realize that the choice is between one hot dinner or none.

I won’t dent you enthusiasm. But someone who will, is Albert Bartlett. He is not impressed by the lack of human understanding of the exponential function. And everywhere you look in the energy-ecocomic nexus its exponential this, and exponential that. Bad lads are exponentials. Think: briar up fundament.

Fusion is fine – on Sol. Here on Terra? Big energy gobbler. Your right (to a beautiful, naive degree) about energy. Anyways, I am whinging about the decline of a mandatory primary, finite source, Liquid Hydrocarcbon Fuels. They have no chemical substitute – none! Neither NG or coal come even close. And it is highly irresponsible of any commentor to give out the impression to the non-scientific public that, “We will be all OK with NG”. That’s what turkeys think until they experience their necks being stretched. Kinda late then.

You, and anyone else who may be anyway concerned about our energy security, must understand this immutable fact: Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels are chemically unique. They possess the most amazing chemical and physical attributes. If you attempted to rank them (out of 10), in terms of their economic utility, alongside solid hydrocarbon fuels (anthracite, coal), lignite) and gaseous fuels (LPG and NG): gaseous = 3 solid = 5 liquids = 20! They’re that good. So, with NG coming out of every available orifice – we need x5 – at least, to compensate. That’s a lot of gas. Reprise exponents here. And do we have the NG infrastructure in place? Er? No!

Absent a reliable, easily accessible, relatively low cost source of LHF – our economies will shudder to a crawl. We can make some LHFs from coal and gas – for a while. Tha’ts just robbing P to pay P. But some, like aviation kerosene are fiendishly hard to synthesise chemically. Even if we had Fusion coming out our ears (it supplies electricity) we cannot maintain our economic activity without a mandatory, minimum supply of LHF. It is technologically impossible. I am not making this up. Nor am I a Doomster. Think of me as the chemical equivalent of Morgan Kelly.

We’ll be back at this long before 2022.


Dork talking of petrol heads,
you can pry my 4.4l V8 out of my cold dead hands, I could still afford to drive it even if petrol goes up 4x more, and on bright side there will be no one else on the roads then 😀

Mind you 2/3rds of petrol price here is taxes and taxes on top of taxes, now the US on the other hand… no wonder their economy is recovering and unemployment is lower, they dont tax the shit out of people getting about.

Wost comes to worst the 4.8l LPG model of me german car sounds like a great buy, if only more stations sold LPG here which is quite common and much cheaper on continent.

Dont worry if your doomsday scenario does occur me and my family come quite prepared having snapped up a good few acres during this “downturn” and having already produced more vegetables and fruit this summer(on a small portion of the land) than we could consume (ending up giving most away to extended family and friends)

I am not beyond toiling in field 😀 tho mind you programming is much more lucrative proposal at moment.

Sorry if I dont share your negative outlook towards the future nor get obsessed with peak energy, the best minds of our generation are busy coming up with elaborate financial schemes or coding microsecond trading systems, if only some of this brainpower (and money) was put towards energy research and engineering…


Your ppint seems to be that tech will solve the problem .

That is just a variation on the Irish notion of “world class”.

@ Michael Hennigan
Those are the countries of Europe (and those values exist within them to varying degrees).
What does the supranational Europe entity mean to people? What does it mean to itself? It is not defined by anything other than compromise and technical politics.

Did you watch that Death Race 2000 ? (It must be watched in German)

Notice the empty pristine roads…………nobody had a car because all the energy in society went into maintaining the asphalt.
Because they had no real income people could not move about & enjoy themselves.
So they got a kick out of others get run over.
You accused me of trending towards fascistic tendencies ….perhaps
But Autobahns were a strange fusion of American corporate culture & German nationalism.
To continue to burn such vast amounts of oil armies must project themselves into Sunny climes.
The US does not pay for its oil directly , indeed it does not pay much at all.
The Military expenditure on expeditionary war is not counted in the price.
There is a thing called the US $ and since 1922 the world has been paying a Imperial tax towards it upkeep.
The US externalises its costs baby via a reserve currency that it can magically print.

Also if the price was 4 times higher – the real price of credit would be 4 times higher – you would probally not have much income to afford a Honda 50 – never mind a 4 litre.
Remember we have had massive inflation here already – it was through a decrease in wages & unemployment.
But the CBs don’t count this as inflation so I guess everything is alright then – this is just a form of inverse inflation EIS – using the metric of a static Euro relative to goods is a absurd simplification.

Also Taxes destroy money to prevent malinvestment – at least that should be their true function.
Anyway the import numbers I have given previously is the raw material prices not the oil + tax.
The real material import price has not fallen much despite a radical decline in some activities.


Stone age didnt end because we ran out of stones,

Hydrocarbon age will end with us moving to other technologies (that are already available for most part, but kept down by politics)

Necessity is the mother of all invention, tho mind you we Irish are not particularly inventive, then again large sections of society are protected from reality that most of the worlds population faces everyday by extortionately taxing a class of PRSI serfs and borrowing large amounts of money.

Ah! EIS. You really are a nice critter. We share some things (4×4; farm).

Now! This is a dig in ribs for me?

“the best minds of our generation are busy coming up with elaborate financial schemes or coding microsecond trading systems, if only some of this brainpower (and money) was put towards energy research and engineering…”

They are indeed fearfully good minds: blinkered, monorail, no braking systems. Ask them how they would make tea given; bucket with holes, damp sand; petrol – (dry tea, billycan, water, sugar and matches are supplied).

Funny you should mention moolah: we need lots and lot and lots of moolah. Trouble is some pesky fellows seem to have grabbed it all. Oh! I know: lets create electronic moolah credit lines. Oh! we tried that. Bad outcome. 8)

And please, its not a Doomsday Scenario. Its a real, current and emerging predicament wrt a single energy resource, liquid hydrocarbon fuel.

Cheers, Brian.

“In 2008 dollars, the cumulative cost of the Manhattan project over 5 fiscal years was
approximately $22 billion; of the Apollo program over 14 fiscal years, approximately $98 billion;
of post-oil shock energy R&D efforts over 35 fiscal years, $118 billion. A measure of the nation’s
commitments to the programs is their relative shares of the federal outlays during the years of
peak funding: for the Manhattan program, the peak year funding was 1% of federal outlays; for
the Apollo program, 2.2%; and for energy technology R&D programs, 0.5%. Another measure of
the commitment is their relative shares of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) during the
peak years of funding: for the Manhattan project and the Apollo program, the peak year funding
reached 0.4% of GDP, and for the energy technology R&D programs, 0.1%.”

The US spent few % of its yearly GDP on important projects such as developing atomic weapons (resulting many spin off such such as energy generation and other technologies such as computing), sending people to the moon and developing alternative energies

We on the other hand spend what % of our GDP on banks?
And continue to waste how many billions every year on our little Socialist experiment that would have made the Soviets blush?

tl:dr while Ireland might be buggered due to decisions taken by clueless politicians with wide reaching consequences, i put alot of faith in US, Europe and China to lead the world via use of new and existing technologies out of sheer necessity into a better place for all of us.

I agree ,the US could have had French like spending on applied technology in the 70s & 80s but it did not.
It could have rocked the (and other worlds)but it did not.
But if you believe Yanis V. – the Marxist economist , the idea was to collapse the world economy via monetory opium.
It did this with substantial european banks behind this strange endeavour.

PS …… stones are not a fuel.
Most (but not all) isolated islands never ran into the stone problem – but there was a few wood (tool & fuel) problems.
We live on a world island now……….
Piss boats are not even a option these days.

“Alternative theories of origin
One theory is that during the age of the canals in Britain, urine would be brought up the canals to the wool mills in Northern England (particularly to Yorkshire), as urine was used in the process of fixing dye to wool. This was particularly the case for the dyeing items blue with indigo or more traditionally with woad, before synthetic dyes were invented or made commercially available.[10] Being in the business of transporting urine was much less lucrative than transporting wine, so when the boatmen were questioned what they were carrying they would lie and say “I’m taking wine” and the response would be “No you’re taking the piss” to express disbelief”

If “they” were actually dealing with the problem in a rational scientific manner rather then subsidy farming & going all Don Quixote I would not be so negative.

But there are substantial costs in this which would effect consumption patterns dramatically or possibly cause extreme turmoil.

For instance capital has been sunk into our roads , our petrol stations , the location of our houses , the nature of our work which is now globalised & sitting on a precarious supply chain……….. pretty much everything – its very hard to turn a ship that big around.

The 3 biggest problems energy wise in Ireland are
1. A private car road based transport system system
2. A electricity sector which uses NG as its base load.
3 Oil central heating in a large amount of our houses.

Its easy enough to change number. 3 with a bit of will & some capital but no.2 is very hard to do today given that the infrastructure is so new and has had no time to repay for itself.
And No 1 is the hardest of all as oil use in Transport is very inelastic.

But if even if every oil Home spent 3 / 5 thousand on a wood gas stove that would heat the entire house & provide hot water that would create a consumption shock in the economy as capital spending would subtract from day to day consumption – especially if the appliances were imported.

But still number 3 can be done easily with a bit of will – we can subtract 1mtoe from our heating needs and perhaps another 1Mtoe from personnel transport with extreme effort.
Unless you get total collapse – starvation then does the work for you – but thats not very nice.

@ EIS: “i put alot of faith in US, Europe and China to lead the world via use of new and existing technologies out of sheer necessity into a better place for all of us.”

Your faith is totally misplaced. US and EU are bust. They’re in the can for a while yet. China is a looter.

Many new technologies exist on small scale, in development labs. Efforts to scale them up can be very problematical. Ramping them to up to industrial scale would consume massive amounts of resources (material, energy, labour, money). Some may indeed succeed. Then you have the problem of keeping them going: more, more and more resources. Its a negative sum game (wrt energy).

There are physical limits to any engineering technology. These limits may not be obvious in small scale, but they are in large scale. And the more complex, and the more integrated the technology, the more problematic are these limits.

I had a bad experience a few months back. 20 out of 24 humanities postgraduates when asked, neither knew about, nor could specify the location of, Easter Island. True.

My message is plain and simple, which is probably why it is being ignored (though RTE Radio had two guys on about ‘oil’ supply this tea-time).

The available nett global export supply of Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels is decreasing exponentially (due to several structural factors). In less than 20 years it will be 50% of what it is today. Ok, we can tap into unconventional reserves – with massive increased energy cost. So, all this guff about, “We must encourage growth” is sheer nonsense. Developed economies have a mandatory min level of LHF in order to function. No other fuel can substitute for LHF – none! I described the problem with price signals wrt supply/demand of LHF: unreliable at best, fraudulent at worst. Price falls = demand negative (recessionary). Price rises = demand positive (growth).

Now, there is price range for LHF, with an upper and lower bound. Below bound, price is too low for producers: they hoard. Price exceeds upper bound, demand stalls. The situation is highly volatile and predictably unpredicable. At mo its: 80 USD/bl – 120 USD/bl = 65 eur/bl – 95 eur/bl. Though this range varies somewhat, depending on whom you ask. The posted spot is 80 eur/bl. And that is with a severe global economic downturn in progress. What might it be if everyone heeds the exhortation and ‘grows’? We hit that upper bound: growth stalls, again! Reprise.


@EIS: I caught that extra-terrrestrial post. Energy flows from region of high density (Sol) to area of low density (Terra). Its not the total energy we receive, its the density of that energy at surface. On Terra it is very low. You need a very sophisticated biochemical process (Photosynthesis) to ‘encourage’ that low density energy to flow uphill, to synthesise carbohydrate. But its hydrocarbons we need! They are biochemically speaking, three times further up that energy hill.

Please slow down and start to get your head around this predicament wrt LHF depletion. You will if you try.



“the best minds of our generation are busy coming up with elaborate financial schemes or coding microsecond trading systems, if only some of this brainpower (and money) was put towards energy research and engineering…”

You have to understand our limitations as a species. The way our brains are wired.!/articles/6153-feature-true-to-type

The hopey changey genes. The greed. Never happy with enough. Short termist. Prone to extreme violence. What happened with the first half of the last century? We need to understand neuroscience. Who are we? How did we get here and to this incredibly complex but incredibly fragile system? Where are we going?

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