That we are entering a period of decline is not in any real doubt, at least not among those with the inclination to think about it. ‘Downsizing’ seems to be the commonly used term, but few really understand what it will really mean. No one will willingly accept downsizing if it means a meaningful drop in their standard of living. So it remains a vague notion that it might be somebody else’s problem, and nothing too drastic on a personal level. There is a misplaced concept that we will drift into it gradually as oil decline eases us into another mode of living that will not be too far removed from the one that we enjoy now. We want the creature comforts that we have known for less than a century to remain a permanent feature of our imagined future.
Our most recent history shows that the slightest slowdown of our current economy by just a few percentage points brings an immediate chaos of unemployment and global destabilisation. Yet somehow that won’t apply to a permanent ‘downsizing’; that seems to follow a different set of social rules, as if we can do it and still retain a civilised existence. And of course without downsizing wages too much. We will still expect to eat, buy ‘stuff’ and carry on in employment and even retain our wheels, with the strange certainty that as long as we have wheels, we will have prosperity by involving ourselves in the exchanges of trade that will not differ much to what we have now. Continue reading →
Notwithstanding a couple of wars, the Europe we know and take for granted was created on a surplus of very cheap fuel. namely oil coal and gas. These hydrocarbons provided the power that not only fought our wars, but built our cities, healthcare, transport systems, cheap food supplies leading to a seven fold population explosion, pensions, and all the other ‘stuff’ we take for granted. But on the downside, created infinite debt and along with that the insane notion that we can go on paying off that debt into infinity. Continue reading →
Bacteria were here for 2 billion years before we were, and will be here long after we’re gone.
It is important to consider what bacterial life forms actually do…as opposed to thinking of them as just ‘bugs’. Their combined support system keeps us alive….Is this for our benefit, or are we just their prairie on which to graze and find sustenance? It is a certainty that if we were not here, bacterial life would continue unchanged. If bacteria vanished, we would all be dead in less than a week. So are we or they the most important in the grand scheme of things?
Also they have the ability to kill off any other animal, and use its carcass for their own purposes, ie to render it down into raw energy for re-use by other life forms—which bacteria then colonise and expand their numbers to continue their own life cycle. Continue reading →
As climate change alters rainfall patterns and river flows, tensions are bound to rise between states and countries that share rivers that cross their borders.
In the Rio Grande Basin of the American Southwest, that future inevitability has arrived.
Last week Texas, suffering through a devastating drought, filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court alleging that New Mexico is failing to live up to its water delivery commitments under the 1938 Rio Grande Compact. Continue reading →
By Karl North | Archived October 8, 2012
October 10 2012
Original article available here, republished courtesy of Karl North
This article was originally reviewed, edited and published by Tompkins County Relocalization, a group in upstate New York that is researching various aspects of energy descent.
The vulnerability of cities and suburbs in the post-petroleum era has been the object of much debate because their present organization makes their operation so energy-intensive. The debate heretofore has tended to swing between two extremes. One claims that these forms of social organization on the land are so unsustainable that their populations will be forced to abandon them gradually as the energy descent progresses.
Figure 1. A tree grows in Detroit (photo by James Griffioen, vice.com)
James Kunstler, a well-known critic of the kind of cities and suburbs that have emerged in recent decades, puts it bluntly: Continue reading →
When our hunter forebears slaughtered an animal for food, they were absorbing energy from its metabolic system into their own. The energy from the dead animal powered a human hunter and his family or tribe for a few days, maybe a week, until they had to go out a kill another energy/source animal. Continue reading →
Any species that feeds and breeds unchecked on a sphere must by definition run out of space when it reaches its polar extremities. When the Russians planted their flag on the undersea point of the North Pole on August 2nd 2007, it represented the peak of mankind’s relentless quest to extract the maximum energy from the world’s resources. Continue reading →
Sometimes, markets’ surprise can be surprising in itself, and this is certainly the case where events in Spain are concerned. There has long been a certain grim inevitability about the tightening of the economic, political and regional stranglehold gripping the Eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.
Certainly, anyone who believed that the Draghi plan was going to fix the woes of the Eurozone was gravely mistaken. The great weakness with this plan is that it treats sovereign debt as the root cause of the Eurozone’s problems. The reality is that debt is a symptom, not the disease. The disease is a sharp deterioration in economic competitiveness. Continue reading →
Article reposted courtesy of Common dreams original article available here
“Out of control” land grabs by foreign corporations in the last decade have taken over an area big enough to grow food for a billion people, according to a report published Thursday from Oxfam (pdf). And the continued push for biofuels and recent food price spikes may lead to even further grabs, the group says.
“The world is facing an unbridled land rush that is exposing poor people to hunger, violence and the threat of a life-time in poverty,” Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam’s Executive Director, stated.
For the communities affected, the land grabs have brought hunger and lack of food security, intimidation by foreign companies, loss of land and resources, and environmental harm. Continue reading →
Because the economy of the developed world has locked itself into the delusion of infinite growth, we have no option but to demand more. Though the lives of seven billion of us literally depend on more always being available, we are collectively incapable of recognizing that our profligate lifestyle has reached its limits. Yet two billion more people are going to turn up over the next forty years, they too will insist on being fed. But we remain in denial. It is in our short term interests to accept cornucopian economics and political wishful thinking so that we can have a little while longer to reject the reality of overpopulation, resource depletion and climate change. We must face the fact that we have reached the End of More.