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Dark Age America: The Population Implosion

General Ideas

The three environmental shifts discussed in earlier posts in this sequence—the ecological impacts of a sharply warmer and dryer climate, the flooding of coastal regions due to rising sea levels, and the long-term consequences of industrial America’s frankly brainless dumping of persistent radiological and chemical poisons—all involve changes to the North American continent that will endure straight through the deindustrial dark age ahead, and will help shape the history of the successor cultures that will rise amid our ruins. For millennia to come, the peoples of North America will have to contend with drastically expanded deserts, coastlines that in some regions will be many miles further inland than they are today, and the presence of dead zones where nuclear or chemical wastes in the soil and water make human settlement impossible.

 

All these factors mean, among other things, that deindustrial North America will support many fewer people than it did in 1880 or so, before new agricultural technologies dependent on fossil fuels launched the population boom that is peaking in our time. Now of course this also implies that deindustrial North America will support many, many fewer people than it does today. For obvious reasons, it’s worth talking about the processes by which today’s seriously overpopulated North America will become the sparsely populated continent of the coming dark age—but that’s going to involve a confrontation with a certain kind of petrified irrelevancy all too common in our time.

 

Every few weeks, the comments page of this blog fields something insisting that I’m ignoring the role of overpopulation in the crisis of our time, and demanding that I say or do something about that. In point of fact, I’ve said quite a bit about overpopulation on this blog over the years, dating back to this post from 2007. What I’ve said about it, though, doesn’t follow either one of the two officially sanctioned scripts into which discussions of overpopulation are inevitably shoehorned in today’s industrial world; the comments I get are thus basically objecting to the fact that I’m not toeing the party line.

 

Like most cultural phenomena in today’s industrial world, the scripts just mentioned hew closely to the faux-liberal and faux-conservative narratives that dominate so much of contemporary thought. (I insist on the prefix, as what passes for political thought these days has essentially nothing to do with either liberalism or conservatism as these were understood as little as a few decades ago.) The scripts differ along the usual lines: that is to say, the faux-liberal script is well-meaning and ineffectual, while the faux-conservative script is practicable and evil.

 

Thus the faux-liberal script insists that overpopulation is a terrible problem, and we ought to do something about it, and the things we should do about it are all things that don’t work, won’t work, and have been being tried over and over again for decades without having the slightest effect on the situation. The faux-conservative script insists that overpopulation is a terrible problem, but only because it’s people of, ahem, the wrong skin color who are overpopulating, ahem, our country: that is, overpopulation means immigration, and immigration means let’s throw buckets of gasoline onto the flames of ethnic conflict, so it can play its standard role in ripping apart a dying civilization with even more verve than usual.

 

Overpopulation and immigration policy are not the same thing; neither are depopulation and the mass migrations of whole peoples for which German historians of the post-Roman dark ages coined the neat term völkerwanderung, which are the corresponding phenomena in eras of decline and fall. For that reason, the faux-conservative side of the debate, along with the usually unmentioned realities of immigration policy in today’s America and the far greater and more troubling realities of mass migration and ethnogenesis that will follow in due time, will be left for next week’s post. For now I want to talk about overpopulation as such, and therefore about the faux-liberal side of the debate and the stark realities of depopulation that are waiting in the future.

 

All this needs to be put in its proper context. In 1962, the year I was born, there were about three and a half billion human beings on this planet. Today, there are more than seven billion of us. That staggering increase in human numbers has played an immense and disastrous role in backing today’s industrial world into the corner where it now finds itself. Among all the forces driving us toward an ugly future, the raw pressure of human overpopulation, with the huge and rising resource requirements it entails, is among the most important.

 

That much is clear. What to do about it is something else again. You’ll still hear people insisting that campaigns to convince people to limit their reproduction voluntarily ought to do the trick, but such campaigns have been ongoing since well before I was born, and human numbers more than doubled anyway. It bears repeating that if a strategy has failed every time it’s been tried, insisting that we ought to do it again isn’t a useful suggestion. That applies not only to the campaigns just noted, but to all the other proposals to slow or stop population growth that have been tried repeatedly and failed just as repeatedly over the decades just past.

 

These days, a great deal of the hopeful talk around the subject of limits to overpopulation has refocused on what’s called the demographic transition: the process, visible in the population history of most of today’s industrial nations, whereby people start voluntarily reducing their reproduction when their income and access to resources rise above a certain level. It’s a real effect, though its causes are far from clear. The problem here is simply that the resource base that would make it possible for enough of the world’s population to have the income and access to resources necessary to trigger a worldwide demographic transition simply don’t exist.

 

As fossil fuels and a galaxy of other nonrenewable resources slide down the slope of depletion at varying rates, for that matter, it’s becoming increasingly hard for people in the industrial nations to maintain their familiar standards of living. It may be worth noting that this hasn’t caused a sudden upward spike in population growth in those countries where downward mobility has become most visible. The demographic transition, in other words, doesn’t work in reverse, and this points to a crucial fact that hasn’t necessarily been given the weight it deserves in conversations about overpopulation.

 

The vast surge in human numbers that dominates the demographic history of modern times is wholly a phenomenon of the industrial age. Other historical periods have seen modest population increases, but nothing on the same scale, and those have reversed themselves promptly when ecological limits came into play. Whatever the specific factors and forces that drove the population boom, then, it’s a pretty safe bet that the underlying cause was the one factor present in industrial civilization that hasn’t played a significant role in any other human society: the exploitation of vast quantities of extrasomatic energy—that is, energy that doesn’t come into play by means of human or animal muscle. Place the curve of increasing energy per capita worldwide next to the curve of human population worldwide, and the two move very nearly in lockstep: thus it’s fair to say that human beings, like yeast, respond to increased access to energy with increased reproduction.

 

Does that mean that we’re going to have to deal with soaring population worldwide for the foreseeable future? No, and hard planetary limits to resource extraction are the reasons why. Without the huge energy subsidy to agriculture contributed by fossil fuels, producing enough food to support seven billion people won’t be possible. We saw a preview of the consequences in 2008 and 2009, when the spike in petroleum prices caused a corresponding spike in food prices and a great many people around the world found themselves scrambling to get enough to eat on any terms at all. The riots and revolutions that followed grabbed the headlines, but another shift that happened around the same time deserves more attention: birth rates in many Third World countries decreased noticeably, and have continued to trend downward since then.

 

The same phenomenon can be seen elsewhere. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, most of the formerly Soviet republics have seen steep declines in rates of live birth, life expectancy, and most other measures of public health, while death rates have climbed well above birth rates and stayed there. For that matter, since 2008, birth rates in the United States have dropped even further below the rate of replacement than they were before that time; immigration is the only reason the population of the United States doesn’t register declines year after year.

 

This is the wave of the future. As fossil fuel and other resources continue to deplete, and economies dependent on those resources become less and less able to provide people with the necessities of life, the population boom will turn into a population bust. The base scenario in 1972’s The Limits to Growth, still the most accurate (and thus inevitably the most vilified) model of the future into which we’re stumbling blindly just now, put the peak of global population somewhere around 2030: that is, sixteen years from now. Recent declines in birth rates in areas that were once hotbeds of population growth, such as Latin America and the Middle East, can be seen as the leveling off that always occurs in a population curve before decline sets in.

 

That decline is likely to go very far indeed. That’s partly a matter of straightforward logic: since global population has been artificially inflated by pouring extrasomatic energy into boosting the food supply and providing other necessary resources to human beings, the exhaustion of economically extractable reserves of the fossil fuels that made that process possible will knock the props out from under global population figures. Still, historical parallels also have quite a bit to offer here: extreme depopulation is a common feature of the decline and fall of civilizations, with up to 95% population loss over the one to three centuries that the fall of a civilization usually takes.

 

Suggest that to people nowadays and, once you get past the usual reactions of denial and disbelief, the standard assumption is that population declines so severe could only happen if there were catastrophes on a truly gargantuan scale. That’s an easy assumption to make, but it doesn’t happen to be true. Just as it didn’t take vast public orgies of copulation and childbirth to double the planet’s population over the last half-century, it wouldn’t take equivalent exercises in mass death to halve the planet’s population over the same time frame. The ordinary processes of demography can do the trick all by themselves.

 

Let’s explore that by way of a thought experiment. Between family, friends, coworkers, and the others that you meet in the course of your daily activities, you probably know something close to a hundred people. Every so often, in the ordinary course of events, one of them dies—depending on the age and social status of the people you know, that might happen once a year, once every two years, or what have you. Take a moment to recall the most recent death in your social circle, and the one before that, to help put the rest of the thought experiment in context.

 

Now imagine that from this day onward, among the hundred people you know, one additional person—one person more than you would otherwise expect to die—dies every year, while the rate of birth remains the same as it is now. Imagine that modest increase in the death rate affecting the people you know. One year, an elderly relative of yours doesn’t wake up one morning; the next, a barista at the place where you get coffee on the way to work dies of cancer; the year after that, a coworker’s child comes down with an infection the doctors can’t treat, and so on. A noticeable shift? Granted, but it’s not Armageddon; you attend a few more funerals than you’re used to, make friends with the new barista, and go about your life until one of those additional deaths is yours.

 

Now take that process and extrapolate it out. (Those of my readers who have the necessary math skills should take the time to crunch the numbers themselves.) Over the course of three centuries, an increase in the crude death rate of one per cent per annum, given an unchanged birth rate, is sufficient to reduce a population to five per cent of its original level. Vast catastrophes need not apply; of the traditional four horsemen, War, Famine, and Pestilence can sit around drinking beer and playing poker. The fourth horseman, in the shape of a modest change in crude death rates, can do the job all by himself.

 

Now imagine the same scenario, except that there are two additional deaths each year in your social circle, rather than one. That would be considerably more noticeable, but it still doesn’t look like the end of the world—at least until you do the math. An increase in the crude death rate of two per cent per annum, given an unchanged birth rate, is enough to reduce a population to five per cent of its original level within a single century. In global terms, if world population peaks around 8 billion in 2030, a decline on that scale would leave four hundred million people on the planet by 2130.

 

In the real world, of course, things are not as simple or smooth as they are in the thought experiment just offered. Birth rates are subject to complex pressures and vary up and down depending on the specific pressures a population faces, and even small increases in infant and child mortality have a disproportionate effect by removing potential breeding pairs from the population before they can reproduce. Meanwhile, population declines are rarely anything like so even as the thought experiment suggests; those other three horsemen, in particular, tend to get bored of their poker game at intervals and go riding out to give the guy with the scythe some help with the harvest. War, famine, and pestilence are common events in the decline and fall of a civilization, and the twilight of the industrial world is likely to get its fair share of them.

 

Thus it probably won’t be a matter of two more deaths a year, every year. Instead, one year, war breaks out, most of the young men in town get drafted, and half of them come back in body bags. Another year, after a string of bad harvests, the flu comes through, and a lot of people who would have shaken it off under better conditions are just that little bit too malnourished to survive. Yet another year, a virus shaken out of its tropical home by climate change and ecosystem disruption goes through town, and fifteen per cent of the population dies in eight ghastly months. That’s the way population declines happen in history.

 

In the twilight years of the Roman world, for example, a steady demographic contraction was overlaid by civil wars, barbarian invasions, economic crises, famines, and epidemics; the total population decline varied significantly from one region to another, but even the relatively stable parts of the Eastern Empire seem to have had around a 50% loss of population, while some areas of the Western Empire suffered far more drastic losses; Britain in particular was transformed from a rich, populous, and largely urbanized province to a land of silent urban ruins and small, scattered villages of subsistence farmers where even so simple a technology as wheel-thrown pottery became a lost art.

 

The classic lowland Maya are another good example along the same lines. Hammered by climate change and topsoil loss, the Maya heartland went through a rolling collapse a century and a half in length that ended with population levels maybe five per cent of what they’d been at the start of the Terminal Classic period, and most of the great Maya cities became empty ruins rapidly covered by the encroaching jungle. Those of my readers who have seen pictures of tropical foliage burying the pyramids of Tikal and Copan might want to imagine scenes of the same kind in the ruins of Atlanta and Austin a few centuries from now. That’s the kind of thing that happens when an urbanized society suffers severe population loss during the decline and fall of a civilization.

 

That, in turn, is what has to be factored into any realistic forecast of dark age America: there will be many, many fewer people inhabiting North America a few centuries from now than there are today. Between the depletion of the fossil fuel resources necessary to maintain today’s hugely inflated numbers and the degradation of North America’s human carrying capacity by climate change, sea level rise, and persistent radiological and chemical pollution, the continent simply won’t be able to support that many people. The current total is about 470 million—35 million in Canada, 314 million in the US, and 121 million in Mexico, according to the latest figures I was able to find—and something close to five per cent of that—say, 20 to 25 million—might be a reasonable midrange estimate for the human population of the North American continent when the population implosion finally bottoms out a few centuries from now.

 

Now of course those 20 to 25 million people won’t be scattered evenly across the continent. There will be very large regions—for example, the nearly lifeless, sun-blasted wastelands that climate change will make of the southern Great Plains and the Sonoran desert—where human settlement will be as sparse as it is today in the bleakest parts of the Sahara or the Rub’al Khali of central Arabia. There will be other areas—for example, the Great Lakes region and the southern half of Mexico’s great central valley—where population will be relatively dense by Dark Age standards, and towns of modest size may even thrive if they happen to be in defensible locations.

 

The nomadic herding folk of the midwestern prairies, the villages of the Gulf Coast jungles, and the other human ecologies that will spring up in the varying ecosystems of deindustrial North America will all gradually settle into a more or less stable population level, at which births and deaths balance each other and the consumption of resources stays at or below sustainable levels of production. That’s what happens in human societies that don’t have the dubious advantage of a torrent of nonrenewable energy reserves to distract them temporarily from the hard necessities of survival.

 

It’s getting to that level that’s going to be a bear. The mechanisms of population contraction are simple enough, and as suggested above, they can have a dramatic impact on historical time scales without cataclysmic impact on the scale of individual lives. No, the difficult part of population contraction is its impact on economic patterns geared to continuous population growth. That’s part of a more general pattern, of course—the brutal impact of the end of growth on an economy that depends on growth to function at all—which has been discussed on this blog several times already, and will require close study in the present sequence of posts.
That examination will begin after we’ve considered the second half of the demography of dark age America: the role of mass migration and ethnogenesis in the birth of the cultures that will emerge on this continent when industrial civilization is a fading memory. That very challenging discussion will occupy next week’s post.

 The Archdruid Report by John Michael Greer



26 Comments on "Dark Age America: The Population Implosion"

  1. Plantagenet on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 10:09 am 

    John Michael Greer is a pessimist.

  2. herrmeier on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 12:32 pm 

    If the US at least would import capable people instead of illiterate 3rd world cave dwellers.

  3. Solarity on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 12:41 pm 

    “Today’s seriously overpopulated North America will become the sparsely populated.”

    NA has a very low population density relative to other continents. If population declines in NA, population reduction elsewhere will be significantly greater.

  4. pamur on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 1:02 pm 

    Viewed through rose colored glasses, pragmatism does often appear to be pessimistic.

  5. JuanP on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 2:01 pm 

    “…while death rates have climbed well above birth rates and stayed there. For that matter, since 2008, birth rates in the United States have dropped even further below the rate of replacement than they were before that time; immigration is the only reason the population of the United States doesn’t register declines year after year.”
    Not according to the CIA’s factbook:
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html
    The birth rate is 13.42/1000 and the death rate is 8.15/1000, the opposite of what the article states.
    The author further confuses the fertility rate, currently at 2.01 children per woman with the birth rate, which is the number of births per every 1000 members of the population.
    Lastly, immigration is the cause behind population growth in the USA, but not just in the way the author implies that this is because of current high immigration, but also, indirectly, because of all the births to immigrant mothers in the USA. If we subtracted immigrant mothers from the total births in the USA, then births would be lower than deaths. I know my demographics.

  6. shortonoil on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 2:16 pm 

    Today some member of the German War ministry said that war with Russia was a real possibility. How much of that statement results from pure stupidity, and how much is propagandize hyperbole is difficult to ascertain. In the event of a war with Russia, Russia would simply shut off European oil supplies, and NATO could spend the duration of the war (both days) pushing its tanks around the country side. It won’t be much of a war.

    We find that over, and over again different people have come to the same conclusion as we have, using entirely different methodologies.

    “The base scenario in 1972’s The Limits to Growth, still the most accurate (and thus inevitably the most vilified) model of the future into which we’re stumbling blindly just now, put the peak of global population somewhere around 2030:”

    Our model (the Etp model) predicts that the oil age will end no later than 2030 – 2035. Oil, which is an absolutely essential component for the continuance of modern civilization. Without oil, populations will immediately begin to collapse. The stupid (propagandized) statement of the German War Minister is no doubt in response to the stress that is building in Europe, and the US as those economies unravel.

    Mr. Greer compares the unraveling of modern civilization to the decline of Rome. In the days of the Roman Empire world population was about 170 million people. Rome did not decline because of the sudden loss of one vital commodity. The loss of one vital commodity in a world of 7 billion will produce stresses that will have a million times more impact than what Rome witnessed. Opportunities for the illogical, stupid, propagandized will abound.

    Predictions of world population declining over centuries is most likely an unattainable best case scenario. Decades are a much more likely time period. The absurdities now being promoted by governments around the globe, and their total disconnect from reality almost assures it.

    http://www.thehillsgroup.org/

  7. JuanP on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 2:20 pm 

    I just couldn’t finish this article by Greer. It is too full of inaccurate details and wrong math. He calls a doubling of the death rate a modest increase. A 100% increase in the death rate from one year to the next is modest? And then he goes exponential for centuries into the future. Anyone who says things will grow or contract exponentially for centuries is just talking.
    I agree that the population will brutally contract but I was forced to give up on this article.

  8. Harquebus on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 5:29 pm 

    Modern agriculture is the process of turning fossil fuels into food.
    The world is over populated and feeding all will not be possible. Global hunger and famine is a “dead” certainty.

  9. Makati1 on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 6:46 pm 

    herr, “If the US at least would import capable people instead of illiterate 3rd world cave dwellers.”

    Why would any intelligent, capable person want to move to an obvious failing police state? Even Chinese engineers and technicians are moving back to China.

    Solarity, Assuming that, if the USSA fails, it will take down the rest of the world is another example of the ‘exceptionally self-centered’ thinking of Americans. The world does NOT revolve around the USSA.

  10. Makati1 on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 6:56 pm 

    shortonoil, I see a world war soon and it will go nuclear before it ends. The comments flying around in the MSM prove that we are ruled by psychopathic, power hungry liars who seen to believe that we can survive a ‘limited’ nuclear exchange.

    I don’t see us getting to 2020 before it breaks out. The Druid may be off on some things. A bit too optimistic in this instance, I think. But his picture of what is left is only possible if we survive the nuclear war. Or should I say, those who suffer through the end of homo sapiens as they die of cancers, starvation, etc.

    And, yes, didn’t Germany lose the 2nd world war because they had no fuel for their vehicles? Merkle is straddling the fence, but I see her making the move East around January 2015.

  11. JuanP on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 7:14 pm 

    Mak, it seems increasingly likely that BAU won’t last till 2020 like you say, IMHO, maybe a lot less. I am wondering if we can make it past the coming shale oil bust, I have a feeling that could be the event that sets off the next global economic crisis.
    The increasing costs of producing oil are also very worrying. There are so many speculative bubbles in the world right now, it is hard to believe.

  12. shortonoil on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 7:43 pm 

    “The comments flying around in the MSM prove that we are ruled by psychopathic, power hungry liars who seen to believe that we can survive a ‘limited’ nuclear exchange.”

    There is no doubt that we have some real “sickies” in positions of power. But, it has long been established that there are no winners in a nuclear exchange. The winner just gets to live another week, or so. The top brass that I know, and deal with daily are by an large very intelligent, ethical people. I don’t think anyone could get them to push a button that they know couldn’t be un-pushed. Let’s hope they rise to the occasion when the time comes. Of course, troops in Washington before this is over wouldn’t surprise me one bit. They got caught with their pants down on 9/11. They don’t intend to let that happen again!

  13. Davy on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 9:09 pm 

    Short, thanks for pouring some cold water on the idiot on this board that is constantly claiming there will be a NUK war soon and his side will win.

  14. Makati1 on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 10:19 pm 

    Davy, I never said the Us would win. But I do see the war, and soon. Both countries are spending huge sums to upgrade their nukes at this point and both have no restraint’s to a first strike. Do you see the US losing the war? I don’t.

    As for the “intelligent” generals that short knows. They can be replaced easily. Or circumvented. Or just killed. The people in charge are NOT the generals or the people you think you elect. The ones in charge consider murder collateral damage.

  15. adamx on Thu, 28th Aug 2014 11:41 pm 

    Despite innacuracies in the article, I think his point still stands; the likelyhood of things going along, just slightly worse, for a long time seems much more than sudden doom. We’ve weathered a lot of crises over the years, and sudden doom has been very rare. As he makes the point with the fall of Rome.

    That said, the Black Plague happened, the 30 years’ war happened (parts of Germany were depopulated then), the Irish potato famine happened (while Britain looked the other way, which led to the death of something like 1/4th of the Irish population). I expect someone, at some point, will set throw around some nuclear weapons. Probably the Pakistani ones.

    But I don’t expect sudden doom for most people in the West. It requires a lot for sudden doom. We’re not there yet. Gradual doom seems more likely, and more in keeping with what is occuring now. People said the economy would fall apart in 2008 – well, it’s back to business as usual, just a little suckier than before for many. Oil prices go up again, well, it will suck a lot. It would take more than “suck” for sudden doom.

  16. Richard Ralph Roehl on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 3:37 am 

    Way too many words to describe a stark and simple concept.

    The EXPONENTIAL growth of the human baboony population and the global consumer economy during the ‘industrial revolution’… can no longer be sustained on a host organism of FINITE space and FINITE resources.

    Beware. Nature can be violent and savagely cruel… and the cosmos does not suffer fools gladly or glad-lie.

    Alas! Humans are colorful, creative and imaginative… but as a whole (and ass-a-hole)… they lack prescience and common sense.

  17. Richard Ralph Roehl on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 3:48 am 

    There are no ‘winners’ in a nuclear war. Only mass extinction of various life forms on the surface of the Earth. Humans in particular.

    “Phuck! Phuck! Hooray!” the fool idiot ejaculated… as his flesh rotted away from radiation poisoning. “We won! We phuckin’ won!” he deliriously screamed while surveying the smoldering ruins of the Earth.

  18. Newfie on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 6:01 am 

    Too long. Waaay to long. Write shorter articles please. Much shorter.

  19. shortonoil on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 9:17 am 

    @ Makati1

    I sympathize with your concern. Watching the antics of humanity seems to be reminiscent to watching a troop of monkeys play with a hand grenade. As a civilization becomes more complex threats to its existence become more prevalent from the inside, as well as its outside. If anyone believes that a few camel humpers with box knives shut down the entire eastern US air defense system for an hour and a half they definitely have to have their head stuck in an uncomfortable anatomical position. They best remove it soon before they suffocate.

    The perpetrators pulled off one heinous act because no one was watching the inside. There is now an army of watchers. The lunatics will find it far more difficult to pull off a second one. Civilization itself is a Catch 22 situation. We are now caught in the entangling arms of monkey business, and we are the monkeys.

  20. Northwest Resident on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 10:45 am 

    Makati1 said: “…both have no restraint’s to a first strike.”

    I wonder how you know that, Makati1. Are you stating your opinion as if it is fact? Or do you claim to know the secret plans and thoughts of the military and political (and TPTB) minds that make the decisions?

    You do seem obsessed with the likelihood of nuclear war, Mak. Frequently in your posts you confidently predict nuclear war and preemptive nuclear strikes. Sometimes, it seems to me that you WANT nuclear war. Clearly, you are obsessed with the thought of nuclear war and think about it a lot, otherwise your posts wouldn’t be filled with confident predictions of nuclear war.

    From my point of view, nuclear war is equivalent to suicide — which is why we have the term “mutually assured destruction”.

    To believe that nuclear war is imminent, or that U.S./Russian leaders are actively planning a first-strike with intent to carry the strike out, you have to believe that those leaders and a large number of people who must also be involved are suicidal, maniacal, irrational and murderous.

    Reading your posts, I get the strong impression that you DO believe US leaders and military commanders are all of that and more. But it is just your opinion — and in this case, your opinion is more reflective of your own inner psychological workings than it is based on any shreds of fact or evidence.

  21. Davy on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 11:40 am 

    N/R, It is mental masturbation for the NUK S&M idiot. He also feels China and Russia will destroy the US with no response from the US. He believes he will be safe and happy in the PEE-P’s eating coconut and rice rations. The NUK idiot you speak of could give a rats ass about his own family back in the US. He is truely a sick puppy. I wish he would see God or something and chill on his darkness and death wishes.

  22. DMyers on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 1:06 pm 

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/06/indications-u-s-planning-nuclear-attack-russia.html

    As the above article indicates, there are good reasons to believe US is set on launching nukes. Let us also note that the US has revised its long term policy of nuclear retaliation only (i.e., MAD) to one of a nuclear first strike option.

    Let us also note that only the US has used nuclear weapons against another nation and that this was entirely unnecessary, as the Japanese were ready to surrender, and was only done to show we had such weapons and to do a live test with them.

    “To believe that nuclear war is imminent, or that U.S./Russian leaders are actively planning a first-strike with intent to carry the strike out, you have to believe that those leaders and a large number of people who must also be involved are suicidal, maniacal, irrational and murderous.”

    The US has slaughtered tens of thousands of people in the Middle East and Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam) for many years now, not in self defense, nor for no other justifiable reason. In fact, Richard Nixon’s specific purpose for bombing Cambodia in 1970, which led to the deadly Kent State demonstrations that spring, was so the enemy would think he was so crazy he was capable of doing anything (an undisputed fact that was his strategy). Yes, the deep state which runs the US is, to any open and honest mind, maniacal, irrational, and murderous, as those terms are intended in context IMHO.

  23. Northwest Resident on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 1:26 pm 

    DMyers — I hope you’re not correct, and I don’t believe you are. While I don’t doubt your point that TPTB, using American military forces, have been responsible for untold death, injury and mayhem, I just don’t believe they are suicidal. Also, I personally believe that the drums of war between America, Russia and Europe are designed to produce fear and insecurity in the populations of those countries, all the better to enable those countries to maneuver military forces and impose security measures that their populations might otherwise be opposed to. The way I see it, we are heading quickly into a global financial collapse and there is going to be a lot of mayhem and fighting going on — what better way to prep the population and justify military/security buildup than to create the illusion of imminent war? It isn’t as if that trick hasn’t been used before in the past, and many times. It works, really well. Don’t forget that TPTB have families, children and cultural interests just like the rest of us. None of them want to live in a nuclear wasteland and pass that “heritage” down to their children, you can count on that fact. Nuclear war, first strikes or whatever is pure suicide, immoral and idiotic. I just don’t believe that military, political or elite leaders have any intention to engage in nuclear war when there would be zero benefit and immense downside in doing so. Despite all the intentional hype otherwise.

  24. energyskeptic on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 4:16 pm 

    Far too optimistic, I don’t know where Greer gets the 100-300 year collapse idea, so many took 20 years or less.

    Human population rise and fossil fuel production are as tightly bound as a boa around its prey. As oil declines, so too will human population, and perhaps social unrest and war will make the downward spiral worse than it needs to be.

    If the oil depletion rate were 2% then Greer’s rosy future would be possible, but decline rates are likely to be 9% or higher, exponentially, based on North Sea, Cantarelle, Alaska, and so on. And then there’s the Export Land Model. And too many other factors to list.

    And the Stupidity-and-Greed principle–if the limited fossil fuels were rationed fairly, descent could be less gruesome, but look at how money is mismanaged now — our infrastructure is falling apart — priorities are all screwed up by corporate lobbyists. Its as if you were fired and had enough money to pay a month of rent and food and utilities, but blew it all on a stock market bet.

  25. elproducto on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 5:24 pm 

    Pretty depressing lol but I will give respect to the article. The ideas make sense. The end of IC should bring a massive decline in population over time. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.

  26. D Burbank on Fri, 29th Aug 2014 10:11 pm 

    Worldwide, since the time of the Romans, has human population actually declined? It certainly has in specific locales, but how about globally? The fine points of technology have been lost and recovered by various cultures, but as a species, humans have generally figured out ways to deal with the situation that presents. My optimistic view is that between advances in energy production (nuclear fission, fusion, renewables) and efficiency in energy utilization we will squeak by.

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