Here he makes sweeping general claims about days gone by. It is not true that product prices have been dropping in real terms for all of human history. There were sustained bouts of increasing prices. It is true that real charges for many commodities have been on an approximately downward trajectory right from the start of the commercial revolution. So, in one respect Stansberry’s analysis suffers from failing woefully to distinguish between sources of energy such as fossil fuels and materials which do not provide energy such as copper. Fossil fuels, our main resources of energy, are the perfect movers in the commercial economy.
We cannot simply replace some other materials on their behalf without careful discernment. There are numerous things to consider such as energy density, portability, energy return on investment, the requirements of the existing infrastructure, and so forth. Still, Stansberry may be right in what he asserts about the near future or he may be wrong.
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But a very important factor, he cannot be is certain. It is a truism that nobody can prove anything about the future. So, we choose to extrapolate current developments often. This is what Stansberry does, which is where he moves from logic to mere supposition. Stansberry, like so most of us, falls into the capture of the nagging issue of induction. The nagging issue of induction is easy to demonstrate. And, yet on something as important as energy policy, people with the views exemplified by Stansberry hold sway.
They do not acknowledge that their view could maintain error. To take action would imply a much different energy policy than the one which most countries are now pursuing. Most policymakers adhere to Stansberry’s view, even though there is certainly considerable evidence that fossil gas production, particularly oil, may start to drop soon.
And, they appear not to understand that existing alternatives suffer from problems of scalability and energy density and face the all important rate-of-conversion problem. But, one doesn’t have to learn anything with certainty to be able to select policy. In fact, the policy is always predicated on incomplete information about the guesses and previous about the near future.
What policymaking requires, in critical areas such as future energy supply especially, is humility and extreme caution therefore. The amount of caution required depends on the plausible dangers we face. The range of possible outcomes for oil creation five, 10, even twenty years hence is so wide as to require excessive extreme caution when planning the world’s collective energy insurance policies. If the optimists such as Stansberry are right, then policies recommended by that extreme caution will have put global society on a sound road to an alternative solution energy overall economy.
That would reserve a lot of the rest of the hydrocarbons for high-value uses such as fertilizers, plastics, and pharmaceuticals than mere burning up rather. If the optimists are wrong, such policies will be the difference between stability and chaos then, between life and death, for the billions that inhabit the planet earth. These are the results that might derive from the blindness of fools who don’t realize the basic reasoning. And, we can not count on nature to suffer such fools gladly.
Around half of unemployed South Koreans will have degrees. On their behalf, the very idea of a “graduate premium” may seem a mockery. Kim Hyang Suk, a recruiter in South Korea, says that half the applicants for customer-service careers at her firm are graduates, even though only a secondary-school education is given.