Triflation – how long now?

Triflation – how long now?


Four years ago, I turned to Jennie as we watched the opening ceremony of the China Olympics, and said “This is it – we’re looking at the peak of human activity”.

It still looks that way, and every day that goes by makes it more certain. Why? Every day, we dig into our planet, for the real resources which are the only real wealth-underwrite. Every day, that includes fossil fuels, which aren’t just a ‘resource’, they’re the energy we use to dig, process, transport and consume, all the others. You don’t need to track the others, just the net available energy.


Four more years of 85 million barrels a day, every barrel never-to-be-had-again. Last year, coal re-claimed the ‘No1 world energy source’ from oil. Yes, you can do coal-to-oil. Yes, we already do coal-to-electricity. Yes, there’s a lot of coal left.


But: The infrastructure morph, coupled with the lesser EROEI, means less available net energy, henceforth. That, even as demand ramps (due to population increase, expectation per-head increase, and alternatives – like firewood – decrease). Per-head, then, we get ‘poorer’, meaning we do less.


If we assumed a growing consumption, exponential-style, she’d be ‘all over, Rover’, before 2050, probably before 2030. The question now, though, is what happens to the fiscal system we assembled to match the ‘growth’ phase. It is out of kilter in stagnant times, and unable to cope with permanent recession. It’s what we will attempt to use for a while yet, though, so there have to be rev-ups followed by crashes followed by rev-ups….. and no ‘doubling’ exponentila stuff any more.


That means we will still be chewing through the planet, but not at double the rate by 2036 (3% growth doubles in 24 years, is the ‘for instance’ there). Still, the essential extractions – water, food, attempted infrastructure maintenance – will continue, even if fiscally compromised.


We have to be staring down the barrel of a massive devaluation of existing ‘money’, and probably helped by attempts to pump the system with more. Maybe your mortgage will become the owing of a loaf of bread – but that won’t help much, if you can’t afford the bread…… Nicole Foss expects rampant deflation: the reduction of values of ‘every class of asset’. Some of those assets are life-essential, though, and in that case you bid until you’re outbid – fiscal survival of the fittest, in a sense. That says a mix of inflation/deflation, depending on the essentialness of the ‘asset’, all happening atop a sinking underwrite.


The combo of inflation and no growth is known as stagflation. I’m not sure anyone has coined one for all three. Triflation?


Interesting times, or is that ‘Post-interesting times’?


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