(This is a repost of one of my first blog posts from Feb 2009 – it still reads ‘OK’ as a manifesto for this blog)
We have built an marvelously sophisticated, complex and efficient culture. This very sophistication, complexity and efficiency has the implication that there is no redundancy, slack or alternatives available to us. We have only one mode of operation which is entirely interdependent and dependent on continuous growth for its perpetuation.
A useful analogy is the difference between a beehive and and animal. A shotgun blast to beehive might kill/destroy a huge fraction of the swarm/hive but the survivors would likely be able to rebuild and thrive again. No animal could survive even a 10% traumatic loss of its mass without external assistance. Sadly, there is no source of outside assistance for our ‘globalised’ ‘blue marble’.
We have shot ourselves in the foot over the last 8 years. The damage is severe and it seems that the lights are about to start going out, one by one, all over the world. This culture is about to start collapsing in on itself. The planet will be very lucky if we disappear with a whimper, as the possible bang would be very dirty indeed.
The sequence will be thus; we will preoccupy ourselves with our globally synchronised financial delusions for the next 4 years, at a minimum. The success of the ‘globalisation’ effort of the last 15 years means that all the major economies are ‘in sync’ for the first time in century and the recovery process will most likely to take longer.
After Obama has lost the next US Presidential election and the Euro has collapsed into its original core, the climate catastrophe will start to make its presence felt through the reduction in crop yields. Those who possess fossil fuels will start to burn them in attempts to mitigate these effects (more irrigation, fertiliser, pesticides); those without will bid up the price of the rapidly dwindling surpluses of oil.
The high price/unavailability will affect the poor in Asia hardest and will lead to food riots. The environmental degradation and the urban/rural inequalities in China make it a likely source of unrest, though this may well be completely internally contained. The density and poverty of the Pakistani and Indian peoples combined with their long standing disputes and possession of nuclear weapons makes this the most dangerous flashpoint.
The delicate balance of terror and corruption that comprises the puppet states of the Middle East will last only as long as the American and Saudi paymasters can sustain their respective client monstrosities. Israeli paranoia makes them likely to be first to throw a ‘nuke’ in this theatre or rather several in a first strike to eliminate their enemies when they sense America starting to buckle.
Either way, it is not likely that there will be much ‘turning of the other cheek’ after the first nuke is thrown. The only question then would be the degree to which the US and Russia would allow themselves to be dragged in.
There you have a snapshot of a likely scenario for the next 15 years. There are some alternative technologies that might mitigate some of these effects. However, none of them address the requirement of planting, fertilising, irrigating weeding harvesting and transporting food for approx. 7 Bln mouths, which currently we do with oil and gas and for which we have no substitutes (in the required quantities).
Is this a counsel of despair? In the long run, yes. But I intend to go down fighting, which is why I am a ‘Green’.
Ireland saw out the last Dark Age without too much trauma and, nuclear war aside, will ride out this cataclysm for the same reasons. With luck and a little planning, we may have a similar role to play in the rebooting of the global culture as we did in the era of the ‘Island of Saints & Scholars’.
For those of you inclined to sneer at my pessimism, I would just remind you of this.
What is that you believed 18 months ago that is not completely undermined by the events of the last 6.