Several excellent blog articles in recent weeks have danced around a subject that I have long thought could be the real problem facing our world.
Upcoming changes in our physical world will happen so quickly, important parts of our society will be unable to conform to the new environment, and parts of the structure of civilization will simply crumble. Our opportunity to prepare and adapt is rapidly fading into the past.
First, let me give credit to the articles the helped me along in my thoughts. I offer these as recommended reading.
Crash_Watcher began a multi-part series of blogs starting last September on “Predicting Global and Regional Petroleum Consumption Trends.” As his series developed, he gave a clear picture of the results of Jeff Brown's Export Land Model in real-life. Timelines for when regions would run out of petroleum they could afford are becoming tighter and tighter.
Gail Tverberg has two articles at ourfiniteworld.com that are recommended: “Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem” and “How High Oil Prices Lead to Recession.” Her analyses indicate why the rising trend in oil prices point to an inevitable lack of other resources in the future.
Today's world of humankind is like a large ant nest with an interlocking system of interaction between its various parts. While civilization is very versatile and adaptive, some of its larger societal structures are based upon long-term consistent trends in the physical world.
For instance, people in the USA depends upon the automobile to transport them to wherever they want to go. They also have a long-standing habit of debt-based consumerism – take what they want when they want it and simply charge it to the card.
In the past, whenever some significant change came along, civilization adapted, and most of the adaptions we think about were to “someone's good.” The Renaissance was an adaption to a new flood of knowledge into Europe. The Industrial Age was an adaption to learning how to control and use mechanical power from coal. The Automobile Age was an adaption to plentiful supplies of liquid fossil fuels.
Adaptations over the past 200 years have mostly resulted in growth of our society, and now our economy is based upon an adaption to Growth as a continuing trend. The promise of America has been that we will always grow to something bigger and better and bigger and better and ...
Today, too many indicators point to a situation where a new trend is developing: the availability of cheap fossil fuel will become less and less in the near future, maybe within the next two or five years. Fuel will be available, but at an ever higher price that continues to climb. The alternative is a great depression where the price of fuel is still too high, no matter how low it might be, because money is worthless. Either way, our way of life is toast.
The articles I referenced are not from economists. They are from people whose rational analysis I respect, and they are consistent in their warning that the new downward trend we are seeing in the cost of liquid fuels will result in an end to the growth that has fueled our economy throughout my lifetime and that of all my peers. We have ridden the roller-coaster to the top of the track. Now we will all put our hands into the air and ride it down, but we do not know what we will find at the bottom.
So why do I bother telling this story. (TPTB) The Powers That Be do not want this story told. (MSM) Main Stream Media does not want to talk about it. (.gov) Our government (both parties) does not want to admit that there is a problem. And even my sons tell me I must be wrong, though my daughter is working at learning sustainability.
I believe there will be some parts of civilization that will survive and learn to live in the world that follows ours. I just want those people to begin training now. It will not be an easy ride.