Facing up to the Global Crunch
For Millennia, doomsayers have been predicting then end of the world, the annihilation of their people, collapse of empires and other outcomes which were so pessimistic as not to provoke successful evasive action. And sometimes these things have happened. War, resource depletion and natural disasters have all brought about swift ends to human social structures which must have seemed permanent and stable at the time. Today there is no shortage of threats to our way of life coming from our over-exploitation of nature as a resource:
Why it can't go onThe developed world is predicated on cheap oil. Oil is finite, and becomes progressively harder to extract. This has been known since the 60s Oil extraction rates have not increased since 2005, despite increased demand. We could switch to coal or nuclear, for a while, if it wasn't for global warming, (also known about since the 60s, as the 1972 Charlton Heston Movie, Soylent Green illustrates.) The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts widespread desertification, increased floods and other weather related events, rising sea levels taking up the land and a host of other major side effects. Combined with an end to vast quantities of cheap energy (a barrel of oil can do the work of one man for three years) we can expect some drastic consequences.
How can this be preventedWe've known about this for 40 years. Action at the political level is still unconvincing, despite increasingly frightening and concurring predictions made by scientists. There are many grass roots movements, people understand about changing their lightbulbs, but often don't. We are still building more planes, more airports, more power stations, more roads. Uk managed not to increase its carbon emissions last year, but it wasn't counting aviation and shipping. Interesting technologies are being developed, Industry is cleaning up, but the emphasis is all on efficiency and not on rebuilding our societies.
Already too lateA useful notion to describe the lessons of climate modelling is the tipping point. It is predicted that if CO2 levels rise beyond 350ppm, then climate change would spiral out of control perhaps taking centuries to find a new stable state. Many recent studies show that, with the ocean acting as a massive heat sink, there may be a 40 year temperature lag. The current political targets are increasingly shown to be totally inadequate. It is time to stop talking about the tipping point. Even with all the brakes on, we will pass tipping point.
What are the consequences to me?What will happen really cannot be predicted. Rich people have a way of surviving off the backs of the poor when times get lean. A major recession seems certain. It could be that apart from high prices, all that will happen is the developing world will implode, and bananas will disappear off the shelves. But equally I expect major economic upheavals in overpopulated, developed societies which depend very heavily on imports. An Appropriate response to global warming: The combined crisis will be like a Mega-humanitarian disaster. This is not reflected in media coverage. It will cause more suffering than AIDS, bird flu, Iraq, Tsunami, Guantanamo, surveillance society, gay marriages and Britney Spears put together!
How will I know when all this startsIt has started already. See my 'important' feed. The next question is how violent the transition will be; how much time will we have to adapt, re-tool, stock-up? How can I prepare for the unknown? Here we are touching on a field called survivalism, which is full of eccentrics and pessimists.
So what can I do?Don't hold cash, because of inflation. Stay out of debt! Gold, land and other commodities are more likely to hold their value. Try to become food and energy independent. Stock up. Remember that there will be more crime with unemployment. Get into Permaculture. Start using local currencies.