Friday
Nov122004

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I don't know what to think now. The last week has been odd. There haven't been any chat buddies online, and some of the side work I thought would be either in progress or done has been put on the back burner. I've been so bored on a few occasions that I even went into the studio to mess around! Obviously the blogging has slowed down too. Some of that energy went to a brief return to hanging out on newsgroups, but that stuff is boring and tiring. Then some of my time went to making the illustrations on the posters page. And frankly, dwelling on all these issues I take on in the blog is a lot of work. Sometimes it just isn't good for a person to get so damned worked up.

I guess I was hoping that the presidential election would bring me some new stuff to write about. I was hoping for better. Now I have even bigger worries about the peak oil situation, because Bush is just the sort of guy who wouldn't do shit to even tell people about it. And frankly, who can imagine what to do in a time like that, and one that will never resolve itself in a way we would recognize? It is more than just driving more efficient cars. Much more. It's scary. There is no precedent but for maybe the Great Depression, but this would be worse, and every day, fewer and fewer people are alive who lived in the Depression. Almost any of us alive now will have gone through life with little real hardship—the sort that third world countries deal with all the time. But there is a lot that points to some terribly austere times ahead, for this nation and for most of humanity.

There are two main ways I look at this whole impending crisis. The pessimistic one is dire as all getout. There are shocking projections that a population dieoff is before us. There are over six billion people living on earth now. At the start of the last century, there were about two billion or less. The thing we need to remember is that that was the last time the earth provided for us in any real natural and undisturbed sense. The last century figured out how to grow enough food and transport it around to otherwise uninhabitable places so that populations could grow in places that nature really didn't intend. And all of that hinges on oil. Even if we had a solution for oil as an energy source, all the sunlight or wind can't serve as a fertilizer or pesticide—the key parts of the modern agricultural model. So the food supplies are bound to be in great jeopardy when oil and natural gas are priced out of usefulness. Six billion people never lived on this earth at once before this last century, and indeed, the last decade or so. What will humanity do when crops fail, or distribution chains collapse? There will be a lot of starvation deaths. I don't see how it could be otherwise. Assuming the human population reverts to something the earth can support without the "help" of humans, we could be looking at a 70% population dieoff, back to about a billion people. That is gut wrenching to think about, but even more so is this: how do we remain humane in the face of all this? Thousands of years of humanity has generally given us free license to populate the world with almost no need to contain our rabbit tendencies. Six billion turning into two billion people won't happen naturally. Darwinism will probably become something that is more than just abstract speculation. The sick will need to die. There won't be an alternative. Without the contraception now available to us by our advanced health care systems and the science that underpins them, people will have to resort to all the nasty stuff that would make a Christian fundamentalist cringe—abortion may be more than a sin, it may be a necessary part of things during a time of uncertainty when people have to find food where they can, since their decades-long systems (interstate trucking of packaged food, fast food) will be in a failed state. Or worse—the stuff to make any person's gut turn over—infanticide. The question is how gracefully can people depopulate the world so that nature can return to its balance?

In many regards, we might not be able to think of ourselves as any more advanced than a population in the 19th century. There will be more artifacts from our lavish and indulgent 20th century, but they will break down over time, and people will have to return to natural systems of life.

That's the grim news. The good side is that the 20th century was really an historical anomaly, and can never happen again. A lot of the wreched stuff that happened then might never be able to happen again. If human population peaks out at less than seven billion, we could be spared the problems that would be present if we were still on the diagonal path across the graph. We may never need to worry about how to take care of 15 billion people. There won't be the problems associated with globalization because such distances won't be so easily traveled. Eventually, the technology for nuclear weapons will fade from the minds of the people who need to concentrate more on living than killing people a world away, because there may not be as much reason to go to the other side of the world, because they are starving and their resources are thin too! The lack of community we now know may have to fade too as people discover it is not really feasible to get in a car and drive away from problems. Cars will not be the divisive objects they are. The cars that do work will have to be used more sensibly. Carpools will be a necessity until people eventually build their lives around a reality that is more local. People will actually have to meet each other in public, and may even need to talk to them! Maybe common courtesy will have a chance to shine again. While there is not a good reason to think people will actually love their neigbor, they will have to actually have to trust him, because he will be making something you use in your house or the food you eat. People eventually will rediscover how to relate to one another after decades of crumbling social values and expectations. The people who survive the worst of the transitional period of this next century will learn again what it is to be thankful for the small things. It's a virtue in short supply here in America now, and is only dragged out when people's houses are burned down or flooded or ripped apart by a tornado.

There are terrible things to come, but there will be good things eventually. The part that bugs me is that I may never get to see that time come when the 20th century's accoutrements are forgotten and not taken for granted. It is hard to say if I would want to see that. Who wants to see their way of life come to an end? For a couple generations of spoiled Americans, there will be a HUGE shock to the system. There will be denial like no one since the end of Rome has experienced. America is riding high on an ego the size of Jupiter, but the people who think we are invincible just don't get it. They are the ones in for a shock. America won't be brought down by a death blow from a mortal enemy. No, we will be taken down by suffering a thousand cuts. We'll be Gulliver, taken down by Lilliputians. Osama Bin Laden doesn't really want to kill us as much as he wants to bankrupt us. That should be easy enough. Every day there are corporations going belly up and getting corporate welfare at taxpayer expense. Hell, it's harder and harder for taxpayers to reap the benefits of welfare, but a failing business gets to the head of the line! The failure of privatization is manifest; companies can't handle themselves. They cave into their own greed. One by one, the greed that gives a CEO the golden parachute will be the greed that causes companies to fail. Instead of distributing wealth more equitably, the CEO will make off with sick amounts of money while the business dies.

Face it, we have failing corporations, corrupt government, over indulgent and under educated citizens, and debt out the ass. When other nations decide to cash in on their IOUs, we will have nothing to offer them but our land. We have not enough gold to back up our promises of wealth. We have not enough oil, either. We have a lot of Wal Marts. Eventually people won't be able to even shop there because they are out of their jobs thanks to Wal Mart choosing to buy foreign goods. People, this is a crisis that I don't think we will recover from. How would we be able to? We exploit workers, resources, environment, other nations, politicians... The fuel for all this is in a permanent state of decline beginning in this decade. Just about every socioeconomic system we know is in a state of entropy and we just voted for a fuckstick that is more than happy to drive the train off the tracks in a wild drunken spree, pandering to people who think banning abortion and gay marriage is the most critical thing our elected officials could do. Holy fuck we are in a mess.

Damn, those fucking Republicans even got Jesus working for them now.

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