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Page added on April 30, 2018

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Kunstler: That Collapse You Ordered…?

General Ideas

I had a fellow on my latest podcast, released Sunday, who insists that the world population will crash 90-plus percent from the current 7.6 billion to 600 million by the end of this century. Jack Alpert heads an outfit called the Stanford Knowledge Integration Lab (SKIL) which he started at Stanford University in 1978 and now runs as a private research foundation. Alpert is primarily an engineer.

At 600 million, the living standard in the USA would be on a level with the post-Roman peasantry of Fifth century Europe, but without the charm, since many of the planet’s linked systems — soils, oceans, climate, mineral resources — will be in much greater disarray than was the case 1,500 years ago. Anyway, that state-of-life may be a way-station so something more dire. Alpert’s optimal case would be a world human population of 50 million, deployed in three “city-states,” in the Pacific Northwest, the Uruguay / Paraguay border region, and China, that could support something close to today’s living standards for a tiny population, along with science and advanced technology, run on hydropower. The rest of world, he says, would just go back to nature, or what’s left of it. Alpert’s project aims to engineer a path to that optimal outcome.

I hadn’t encountered quite such an extreme view of the future before, except for some fictional exercises like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. (Alpert, too, sees cannibalism as one likely byproduct of the journey ahead.) Obviously, my own venture into the fictionalized future of the World Made by Hand books depicted a much kinder and gentler re-set to life at the circa-1800 level of living, at least in the USA. Apparently, I’m a sentimental softie.

Both of us are at odds with the more generic techno-optimists who are waiting patiently for miracle rescue remedies like cold fusion while enjoying re-runs of The Big Bang Theory. (Alpert doesn’t completely rule out as-yet-undeveloped energy sources, though he acknowledges that they’re a low-percentage prospect.) We do agree with basic premise that the energy supply is mainly what supports the way we live now, and that it shows every evidence of entering a deep and destabilizing decline that will halt the activities necessary to keep our networks of dynamic systems running.

A question of interest to many readers is how soon or how rapid the unraveling of these systems might be. When civilizations crumble, it tends to fast-track. The Roman empire seems to be an exception, but in many ways it was far more resilient than ours, being a sort of advanced Flintstones economy, with even its giant-scale activities (e.g. building the Coliseum) being accomplished by human-powered work. In any case, the outfit really fell apart steadily after the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius (180 AD).

The Romans had their own version of a financialized economy: they simply devalued their coins by mixing in less and less silver at the mint, so they could pretend to pay for the same luxuries they had grown accustomed to as resources stretched thin. Our financialized economy — like everything else we do — operates at levels of complexity so baffling that even its supposed managers at the central banks are flying blind through fogs of debt, deception, and moral hazard. When that vessel of pretense slams into a mountain top, the effects are likely to be quick and lethal to the economies on the ground below.

In our time, the most recent crash of a major socioeconomic system was the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990-91. Of course, it happened against the backdrop of a global system that was still revving pretty well outside the USSR, and that softened the blow. Ultimately, the Russians still had plenty of oil to sell, which allowed them to re-set well above the Fifth Century peasant level of existence. At least for now. The Soviet Union collapsed because it was a thoroughly dishonest system that ran on pretense and coercion. Apparently, the US Intel Community completely missed the signs that political collapse was underway.

They seem to be pretty clueless about the fate of the USA these days, too. If you consider the preoccupations of two very recent Intel chiefs — John Brennan of CIA and James Clapper, DNI — who now inveigh full-time on CNN as avatars of the Deep State against the wicked Golden Golem of Greatness. Personally, I expect our collapse to be as sudden and unexpected as the USSR’s, but probably bloodier because there’s simply more stuff just lying around to fight over. Of course, I expect the collapse to express itself first in banking, finance, and markets — being so deeply faith-based and so subject to simple failures of faith. But it will become political and social soon enough, maybe all-at once. And when it happens in the USA, it will spread through the financial systems the whole world round.

Kunstler



65 Comments on "Kunstler: That Collapse You Ordered…?"

  1. Boat on Tue, 1st May 2018 9:55 pm 

    Mm

    Lol You haven’t changed the site much. In fact there was more certainty of a crash 5 years ago than now. You know what happened? No crash.
    Now it seems 2020 is the general consensus of the big one but with much less enthusiasm. Short and his minions don’t talk about the ETP of 2019 huge demand drop much which ruled the forum.
    Your posts and links are nothing new, same o’l shyt. But hey, show me some new ones from them paid kids. Always open to new data.

  2. makati1 on Tue, 1st May 2018 9:59 pm 

    Mm, you still don’t get it. Youth can be a handicap, not an advantage. You have nothing to judge your elders by. Nothing. You did not live then. Nothing you can read about it will ever put you there and then. Book learning is just the beginning. The real education comes from living and doing. Having responsibilities like a career, military and marriage gives you that education. Living in mom’s basement does not.

    I never claimed to be “special”. I only claim that having a good life does NOT require a college degree. Today, a degree is a hindrance. Too many have worthless ones and those who has good ones (Ivy League) have ‘connections’ with us older, established career professionals for reference.

    I did my job as goods as, and sometimes better than, the so called college educated. And made as much money as they did. My career ended doing the work of an architect/engineer. Not a construction worker. 30+ years of my career were office work as designer/estimator/project manager with an upper five digit income and multi-million dollar projects under my “uneducated” belt. You should be so lucky.

  3. makati1 on Wed, 2nd May 2018 12:05 am 

    MM: Minimum wage in 1964, when I worked as a lab tech in a manganese steel foundry = $1.15/hr. Inflation since then makes that about $10/hr today, not $17.

    https://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm
    https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

    MM, the real “competition” is the one in the job market where you are failing. Your future employers will look at your “vacation” as an immature indulgence they don’t want to deal with in the future, or as the real cause, unemployment. (fired/lazy/immature) If you don’t think they will ask your old employer about you and your record, you are deluding yourself. If you refuse to tell them, it will be another red flag. The longer you stay “on vacation” the more difficult it will be to get a job. You have too much competition to rely on a piece of paper. But just ignore this “old construction worker” and learn the hard way. Most young people believe they know it all until reality proves that they know nothing.

    BTW: How much $$$ per hour are YOU making today? Answer: Zero.

  4. Anonymouse1 on Wed, 2nd May 2018 1:24 am 

    Mak, when you say 8/10, are those strictly exceptionnalturds rants, or does that count the ranting he does as ‘mushmind’ as well?

  5. makati1 on Wed, 2nd May 2018 2:04 am 

    Anon, I don’t count his alternate persona in that number. MM does the same when there is no one online that he can claim superiority to with his arrogance and 12 year old putdowns.

  6. makati1 on Wed, 2nd May 2018 2:06 am 

    BTW: MM has never, to my knowledge, refuted my assertion that he lives in his mom’s basement. Maybe I struck home? lol

  7. MASTERMIND on Wed, 2nd May 2018 3:39 am 

    Madkat

    I don’t have to disprove a negative. My mom doesn’t even have a basement. She has a one story, two bedroom house. I moved out when i was in college and never returned.

    You use the US government data..The same government you accuse of so many horrible things. You dumbshit

    Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage is worth less than 50 years ago
    https://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/21/adjusted-for-inflation-the-federal-minimum-wage-is-worth-less-than-50-years-ago.html

    like I said. I was a state chess champion. Earned a PhD with honors from Michigan. Was the top sales person in my state for a fortune ten company. And work as a research scientist. You were a dirty filthy construction worker who farted all day..And your wife left your ass .lol

  8. makati1 on Wed, 2nd May 2018 4:11 am 

    MM, “dumbshit” does not prove intelligence. Nor does your claim to live on your own. Not likely since you wasted all your income to “go to college” and could not possibly have enough savings to live a year without working, unless you draw unemployment and/or welfare/food stamps. Or, maybe have a working GF? Or all of the above?

    As for my use of any data, it is all doctored to some extent. Everyone writes to the paycheck. The ability to see the spin is key. That comes from perspective and intelligence. Both of which take time to develop. They do not come from books.

    CNBC LMAO! You can claim to be anything here. No proof possible, other than what you say. What you say tells me you are NOT what you claim. Too many contradictions in your claims vs your display of immaturity and narrow mindedness. See “dumbshit” for example. Or “peer reviewed”. LOL

  9. Davy on Wed, 2nd May 2018 4:20 am 

    “Davy, I notice 8 or 10 of your rants posted in a short time”

    When I am not dealing with you lying extremist I try to say something. This is not the case with you today. You take up drinking now that you are at the little rental house?

  10. Davy on Wed, 2nd May 2018 5:08 am 

    “You know what happened? No crash.” Thank god too! I was a little more extreme about a crash a few years ago when this board was dominated by doomers. I am less now and I am happy to say this. The problem with cornucopians here is they act like I should be ashamed of moderation. I am a doomer but not by choice. A part of me hopes there is a survivable “crashette”. A smaller crash that like a recession to the economy cleans things up. I am not sure this can happen anymore with so much debt and built up systematic risk from years of extending and pretending.

    I now tend to see multiple crashettes occurring globally. The core of the system will likely hold much like Rome as the Empire crumbled with nodes surviving. The Byzantium part powered on for centuries maybe parts of the modern world will do the same. I do see places in consumption, population, and or climate based overshoot facing dangerous issues soon. Energy seems less a problem but peak oil dynamics are alive and well. The good stuff is depleting and what is left is expensive stuff that needs a strong economy to produce. The economy is a big unknown since now we have coordinated global central bank intervention. We have police state type controls with social activity further restricting chaos. But chaos can’t be controlled. It can be corralled for a time but it is like water it will seek out the lowest places to seep into.

    Our problem boils down to sustainability issues and resilience. On one hand we are overly sustainable because of fossil fuels and complexity. Witness our overpopulation and over consumption. Resilience is robust because of fossil fuels and complexity. Major issues have been fixed in the past because of this global resilience. Yet this modern sustainability and resilience is brittle and dependent. We have built a civilization that is a Ponzi. It is not built on a long term foundation of real and productive values anymore that reflect finite planetary realities. We are out of planetary scale and the planetary system will bring us back to scale because all linear systems are forced to cycle it is just a matter of when.

    Civilization is now a summation of short term satisfaction satisfying billions of individual decisions that are grounded in the cooperative competitive market based capitalism that rests on the support of global liberal democracy of competitive cooperation. This modern system allows mutual market based satisfactions to be realized through comparative advantage. If you got good stuff the markets will great you with profit. This profit can buy you most everything you need in this vast global system. If you have money you can go anywhere. Price now dictates sustainability and resilience.

    The problem these days is corruption. The corruption is now at the very heart of all pillars of civilization. This systematic overextension still does not mean a global crash is imminent. We humans have short attention spans. A decade is an eternity for us even though it is a blink of an eye. This means a slow boil of decay and decline is part of our modernism and the results are random “crashettes” within an assortment of segments of normality. A decade or two of these converging and building seems to me a problem in itself. We are growing like a cancer and the results are problems and budding predicaments. This points to a shelf life of our normality.

    A global catastrophic crash cannot be dismissed. It is not the danger many of us saw a few years ago post 08 crash but it is still there. World war possibility appear more possible lately. We can’t seem to live with each other in the best of times what happens when times get hard? Our complex global system cannot survive a big war but it is unclear what might shake out if anything. There is no way the result could be as prosperous. Nothing man can do can top our current global system for wealth generation and planetary destruction. Too much interconnection and dependence means any destruction of the central nodes of power and control could destroy the whole system so watch what you wish for many of you angry people that want lynchings. Climate change is a ticking time bomb. Other overshoot issues are brewing. Yet, we seem to be on an undulating plateau of normal that could last another decade of two. Stay tuned because I moderated my doom but that does not mean I can’t raise the threat level tomorrow.

  11. MASTERMIND on Wed, 2nd May 2018 8:11 am 

    We live in exciting times. It’s my belief that “you personally” will most likely die of starvation or conflict between 2020 to 2075. You will experience a collapse of human civilization, a 90% die-off of humans, a destruction of the ecosystem, a loss of access to mined and drilled resources, and a dark age from which your descendent’s will not reemerge.

    If your kids survive to 2075 they will have been cannibals and will live like 17th century serfs — no electricity, no running water, no schools, no medicine, and life will be short, nasty, and brutish.

    https://imgur.com/a/pYxKa

  12. fmr-paultard on Wed, 2nd May 2018 8:33 am 

    guys, i’m a tard. i had a GPA 2.01 bachelor of arts, major physics. i used a graphing calculator so i couldn’t pass final because i’m used to the calculator tells me what shape the system of equations is. w/o it i failed with an F…plus i spent all my time looking at naked ladies and i couldn’t keep my eyes open in lectures nor i was smart enough to do homework.

    it’s not easy a feeling to be a tard. stupidity is extremely frustrating.

    but i learned things like:

    the space around a dynamic magnetic field contains energy. this would save so much time (but i respect his elite machine shop skills)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK3JOlY0V8Y

    Right off the bat, this man’s driving motor loses energy through space.

    Then he went on and said he obtains work without d, he said work is not equal F.d

    he disagrees w=Fd

    i’m a tard and a human and i get confused. then i opened my mouth speaking to my (((professors))) because i learned things on the intardweb

    and now my ((professors))) won’t talk to me again.

    Now i’m told to trust a guy who never graduated HS and went to live in the phils.

    HELP me guys

  13. Anonymouse1 on Wed, 2nd May 2018 1:16 pm 

    No one pays any attention to your rambling, long-winded diatribes exceptionalturd, including w/e that one above is about. I mean it could about another of be your dis-jointed whines about, China, the philippines, the saintly works and deeds of the united snakes. It could be about your multi-million dollar enclave in missishiiti LOL!, It could even be about that door you plan to hang on your outhouse (someday).

    But no one will know, or care. Your time would be better spent, either calming down(right), or actually going outside and at least pretending to farm. As opposed to pretending you farm on the interwebz.

  14. MASTERMIND on Wed, 2nd May 2018 1:42 pm 

    Gas prices hit three-year high nationwide

    https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/gas-prices-hit-three-year-high-nationwide-1223545411909

  15. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 3rd May 2018 6:00 am 

    Yo Mastered Mind,
    you should say “when I gave the plans to
    the builder and built mom her new house,
    I made sure it has 3 floors and a
    swimming pool, but we chose slab-on-grade
    over crawlspace and theres definitely
    no basement”.

    (O;

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