Tuesday, February 5, 2013


I am trying to figure out my relationship with this medium.  In a real sense, this blog is a vain affectation.  It makes an assumption that the public commons is a fair outlet for ideas.  I would have to agree that this is true.  But my numbers for folks coming to visit seem to show that either my ideas are stale or my presentation is lame.

Oh well.

The ideas presented here aren't particularly palatable.  When I sit down to think of them, even I am not fond of the conclusions reached.   That overpopulation seems to be at a tipping point.  That resource depletion is getting some firm traction.  That the environmental consequences of these first two points above are going to lubricate the decline we are entering.

What everyone here in Doomerland seems to agree on is the idea that badness happens.  Serious armed-survivalist preppers stock up beans and bullets and hope that they can outlast and outgun the opposition.   The vegan-prepper-survivalists are trying on the idea that being a agrarian peasant is an economic/environmental niche worth exploiting.

What seems obvious to me is that we are very close to a time of compression.  Barring some currently unforeseen and historically unique event, I don't think that the fall will be precipitous one, leading to the Mad Max scenario so adored by the survivalists.   The beans and bullets have a 99+ percent chance of going unused for their original purpose.  The vegans will discover just how hard and precarious the life of an agrarian really is.

The compressive decline ahead of us will be a long-drawn out affair.  The industrial age started around 200-odd years ago.  We have used up right around half of the fossil fuels and even more of the industrial resources.  I won't be a symmetrical bell curve with a 200-year tail, but will probably be asymmetric with a tail on the order of 80-100 years.   The exact term is a negatively-skewed distribution.

So, what I think is that we need to get a firm grasp on the idea of a decline that will take generations.  This in not sexy.  It has no heroes.  It will just take hard work and adaptability.  We will see the unrealistic goals and rewards of the current system be replaced (sometimes forcefully) with something different.  There will be errors made, and scrambling done.  Some lives will be happy, most won't.

In other words, we are going to be returning from Never-Neverland.


John D. Wheeler said...

I disagree 50.0%. I absolutely agree with everything you say starting with "hard work and adaptability". I think the fundamental problem that both sides of the fast/slow debate have is thinking it is an either/or situation. Have you not read the Archdruid's warning against thinking in binaries?

I agree that we are in a multigenerational decline. That does not mean that there will not be periods of fast collapse. I fully expect those beans and bullets to get used. What the preppers don't get is that it won't necessarily be over. After the dust settles, the long, slow, grinding decline will likely continue.

russell1200 said...

John in the comment above makes some good points. Even slow collapses (Rome) have very fast local collapses. In a the case of many empires there have also been a lot of shifts in centering. The Mayans, the Hittites, Rome, the Phonecians (via Carthage), even somewhat arguably Britain (via the U.S.) all had shifts away from center core that lived on after their collapse at the Center.

Population is the major driver of many of the negative scenarios, and at best it is said to be peaking around 2040 to 2050.