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Anxiety turns to fear: Markets, energy, Pan and the Zeitgeist

The characteristic feeling of the post-2008 world has been one of anxiety. Occasionally, that anxiety breaks out into fear as it did in the last two weeks when stock markets around the world swooned and middle class and wealthy investors had a sudden visitation from Pan, the god from whose name we get the word "panic." Pan's appearance is yet another reminder that the relative …

Counterintuitive: (Some) volatility is good for you, stability not so much

A certain amount of volatility is good for humans and the systems they build. Attempts to stifle the natural and healthy volatility of a system can lead to greater and even catastrophic volatility in the end.

What is the price of oil telling us?

Market fundamentalists tell us that prices convey information. Yet, while our barbers and hairdressers might be able to give us an extended account of why their prices have changed in the last few years, commodities such as oil--which reached a six-year low last week--stand mute. To fill that silence, many people are only too eager to speak for oil.

The future isn't what it used to be

Two recent films couldn't be more at odds in their vision of the future.  "Mad Max: Fury Road" is a relentless chase scene set in a world burned to desert by climate change and bereft of civilization which has long since vanished in a haze of war and resource shortages. Disney's "Tomorrowland" shows a technotopian future guided by some innate wisdom that insures not …

Energy, the repressed: Paging Dr. Freud

Today, a new psychological repression hides in plain sight. It is the servant of a modern ideology, a religion really, that says the material world is soulless and merely fodder for economic growth. This repression prevents most from seeing our ecological predicament and therefore from understanding it or acting in response to it. This repression is of the very physical world about us and …

Nonlinear: New York, London, Shanghai underwater in 50 years?

Those under the impression that climate change is advancing at a constant and predictable rate don't understand the true dynamics of the issue. The fear is that the ability of the oceans and plants to continue to absorb half the carbon dioxide human civilization expels into the atmosphere each year may have become impaired. That means more carbon dioxide is remaining in the atmosphere where …

Has U.S. oil production started to turn down?

The plunge in oil prices last year led many to say that a decline in U.S. oil production wouldn't be far behind. This was because almost all the growth in U.S. production in recent years had come from high-cost tight oil deposits which could not be profitable at these new lower oil prices. These wells were also known to have production declines that averaged 40 percent per year.

Chinese stocks: When mispricing becomes more important than pricing

What's happening in the Chinese stock market may be the front edge of the often delayed demise of the global credit bubble. Our daily lives have become so dependent on finance that it appears governments will do anything to keep the bubble going. Can they really succeed indefinitely?

Lab rats and the corruption of how we count

The numbers that come our way are calculated and disseminated by people who have an agenda. It may be to be as objective as they can be given the constraints under which they labor. It may be to satisfy the views of financial supporters of a think tank or university research laboratory. The information may be intentionally skewed so as to deceive us (even if there are no outright lies). Or the …

Radio Interview: Nuclear and other alternative energy sources

Kurt Cobb, author, journalist, and expert on energy and the environment, returns to Goldstein on Gelt to discuss the energy crisis. Are natural sources of energy, such as thorium and molten salt, effective alternatives to oil?