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Page added on November 23, 2010

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Let’s Just Get It Overwith

General Ideas

Societies and civilizations are born, mature and die – this is what history teaches us.  Our society is in old age and death/collapse is near.   As I pointed out here Howard Kunstler has made a career of predicting the end of civilization as we know it.  But he’s not alone.  There was a time when Kunstler was mocked – but no more – he has plenty of company these days and The Energy Bulletin has some examples.

First, how does the United States today compare to the old Soviet Union?

  • Extreme dependence on the price of oil. The Soviet’s over reliance on oil was as a source of income (which collapsed in the early 80’s due to a confluence of factors, hence the bankruptcy). The US depends on it due our profligacy in its use. As oil availability dries up (export land model, peak oil production, etc.) the US will suffer disproportionately.
  • Extreme levels of spending on national security. The paranoia that led the Soviets to overspend on national security was legendary. The same is true with the US. The US now spends more than the rest of the world combined on national security. In a hyper competitive global economy it isn’t absolute or historical levels of spending that matter – it’s relative spending levels.
  • A runaway foreign trade deficit and ballooning debt.
  • Extreme levels of corruption and a gross misallocation of economic resources. The Soviets had insular bureaucrats and the US has bankers and financiers.
  • A ballooning welfare state that it can’t support (in the US’s case, it’s mostly ballooning health care costs — the US’s crony capitalist health care system costs 2-4x per unit of health care as compared to the rest of the developed world, while delivering health stats only rivaled by the developing world).

The old Soviet Union was no longer a Marxist state when it failed. it was an oligarchy.

Oh Karl the world isn’t fair
It isn’t and never will be
They tried out your plan
It brought misery instead
If you’d seen how they worked it
you’d be glad you were dead
just like I’m glad I’m living in the land of the
free
where the rich just get richer
and the poor you don’t ever have to see
It would depress us, Karl
Because we care
that the world still isn’t fair

~Randy Newman

The United States is no longer a capitalist country but an oligarchy.  But it’s not just the United States it;s the world.  The oligarchs represented by the World Trade Origination and the International Monetary Fund control the economy of the world.

But a society/economy controlled by sociopathic oligarchs is not sustainable.  They are interested in what will enrich them today not will happen tomorrow – they are sociopaths.  The result will be the collapse  of society as we know it.  Some specifics can be found in Peak Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global Civilization: The Current Peak Oil Crisis:

This report considers energy resources, climate change, ecological balance, and the Earth’s capacity to supply food and water to support human life from the perspective of governance and human security

Some key messages from the report include:

  • Peak oil is happening now.
  • The era of cheap and abundant oil is over.
  • Global conventional oil production likely peaked around 2005 – 2008 or will peak by 2011.
  • Global oil reserve discoveries peaked in the 1960’s.
  • New oil discoveries have been declining since then, and the new discoveries have been smaller and in harder to access areas (e.g., smaller deepwater reserves).
  • Huge investments are required to explore for and develop more reserves, mainly to offset decline at existing fields.
  • An additional 64 mbpd of gross capacity – the equivalent of six times that of Saudi Arabia today – needs to be brought on stream between 2007 – 2030 to supply projected business as usual demand.
  • Since mid-2004, the global oil production plateau has remained within a 4% fluctuation band, which indicates that new production has only been able to offset the decline in existing production.
  • The global oil production rate will likely decline by 4 – 10.5% or more per year.
  • Substantial shortfalls in the global oil supply will likely occur sometime between 2010 – 2015.
  • Furthermore, the peak global production of coal, natural gas, and uranium resources may occur by 2020 – 2030, if not sooner.
  • Global peak coal production will likely occur between 2011 – 2025.
  • Global natural gas production will likely peak sometime between 2019 – 2030.
  • Global peak uranium will likely occur by 2015 to sometime in the 2020’s.
  • Oil shortages will lead to a collapse of the global economy, and the decline of globalized industrial civilization.
  • Systemic collapse will evolve as a systemic crisis as the integrated infrastructure and economy of our global civilization breaks down.
  • Most governments and societies – especially those that are developed and industrialized – will be unable to manage multiple simultaneous systemic crises. Consequently, systemic collapse will likely result in widespread confusion, fear, human security risks, and social break down.
  • This current transition of rapid economic decline was triggered by the oil price shock starting in 2007 and culminating in the summer of 2008. This transition will likely accelerate and become more volatile once oil prices exceed $80 – $90 per barrel for an extended time. Demand destruction for oil may be somewhere above $80 per barrel and below $141 per barrel.
  • Economic recovery (i.e., business as usual) will likely exacerbate the global recession by driving up oil prices.
  • A managed “de-growth” is impossible, because effective mitigation of peak oil will be dependent on the implementation of mega-projects and mega-changes at the maximum possible rate with at least 20 years lead time and trillions of dollars in investments.
  • Peak oil and the events associated with it will be an unprecedented discontinuity in human and geologic history.
  • Adaptation is the only strategy in response to peak oil.
  • Mitigation and adaptation are the only strategies for climate change.
  • Peak oil crises will soon confront societies with the opportunity to recreate themselves based on their respective needs, culture, resources, and governance responses.
  • The impacts of peak oil and post-peak decline will not be the same equally for everyone everywhere at any given time.
  • There are probably no solutions that do not involve at the very least some major changes in lifestyles.
  • The localization of economies will likely occur on a massive scale, particularly the localization of the production of food, goods, and services.
  • Existential crises will soon confront societies with the opportunity to recreate themselves based on their respective needs, culture, resources, and governance responses.
  • If the international community does not make a transcendent effort to cooperate to manage the transition to a non-oil based economy, it may risk a volatile, chaotic, and dangerous collapse of the global economy and world population.
  • Since the advent of the Green Revolution, the global human population has increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to nearly 7 billion today.
  • Global demand for natural resources exceeded planet’s capacity to provide sustainably for the combined demands of the global population between 1970 – 1980.
  • The global population is projected to grow to around 9.2 billion by 2050.
  • Current trends in land, soil, water, and biodiversity loss and degradation, combined with potential climate change impacts, ocean acidification, a mass extinction event, and energy scarcity will significantly limit the human carrying capacity of the Earth.
  • Based on these estimates, the global population may have nearly reached or already exceeded the planet’s human carrying capacity in terms of food production.

Joseph Tainter thought that complexity was what was responsible for the collapse of civilizations and societies.  Perhaps it is the power of sociopathic oligarchs.

The collapse is near so let’s just get it over with and pick up the pieces.  A post-collapse society will be less centralized – a smaller federal government – in fact no federal government.  Something that makes this Libertarian Liberal happy.

The Moderate Voice



3 Comments on "Let’s Just Get It Overwith"

  1. jillnerkowski on Wed, 24th Nov 2010 5:07 am 

    very nicely said

  2. PrestonSturges on Wed, 24th Nov 2010 5:14 am 

    I’m having trouble following your logic here – you say that unlike the USSR, our oligarchy is corporate, so you suggest that the Libertarian solution is to get rid of the government.

    My objection to the Libertarians is this-how do they differ from someone that was simply a company PR person pitching corporate loot and pillage?

    In all this, I never see a Libertarian advocating anything that would be in my interest.

  3. KenZ300 on Fri, 26th Nov 2010 12:44 am 

    The world economy and globalization was built on cheap oil. When energy is no longer cheap we will move back to local based solutions and distributed energy sources. Wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels can all be generated locally supplying local energy and local jobs.

    The time to transition is now.

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