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Once a cask that held crude, the oil barrel is now mostly an economic concept. An Object Lesson.
I elaborate on these arcane matters because it is fundamental to understand that the root cause for the sputtering of economic growth is that the primary resource needed for creating it (oil) has exceeded our ability to pay for it — and despite all the wishful thinking, there is no alt-energy rescue remedy to replace it. Hence, we’ve been borrowing from the future (piling up debt) to keep the vast complex systems of advanced civilization running. And now we’ve run out of our ability to pile on anymore debt. The result will be a collapse of our complex systems and a re-set of human activity to a lower and simpler level. How disorderly the process gets remains to be seen, and where it stops is as yet unknown. But it will have everything to do with how human life organizes itself on-the-ground, and therefore with the future of our cities.
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Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it's already economically aboveground – it's figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide – those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value. It's why they've worked so hard these past years to figure out how to unlock the oil in Canada's tar sands, or how to drill miles beneath the sea, or how to frack the Appalachians.
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The results in Virginia, where the prospects of gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam gave Democrats severe heartburn over the last week, were particularly surprising: Not only did Northam coast to victory over Ed Gillespie, a Republican who had embraced the Trump message if not the president himself, but Democrats won legislative races across the Old Dominion, putting control of the House of Delegates—not generally expected to be up for grabs— within Democratic grasp . Bob Marshall, a particularly outspoken anti-LGBT conservative, was defeated by Danica Roem, who becomes the first openly transgender legislator in state and . history.