It doesn’t pay to be a prophet, at least not in one’s own time. I’ve been ridiculed, disparaged, and generally mocked in public, and the email in-box is filled with hateful missives. I’m not complaining, mind you: Every social critic knows how little regard society has for criticism. I don’t much care for it myself, when it’s pointed my way.
Now that oil is on the verge of the magical $100/barrel mark, the laughter is starting to die down. Seems the readers of my dire writings — which merely echo the thoughts of people far more knowledgeable and intelligent than me — are starting to think the Empire might fall, after all.
As if there was the slightest doubt about any Empire, much less this one. You know what they say: the bigger they are ….
Now that reality is penetrating the thick skull of Homo consumerus, the email messages and phone calls are starting to pile up in a less hateful way. Rather, they are curiously serious. People are even stopping me in the street on a regular basis, asking a set of questions that have become predictable: Where should I move? And when? What should I do to prepare? Where should I invest my money?
If they only knew how much money I’ve lost, they’d stop asking the latter question.
If they only knew how little I knew about surviving in the post-carbon age we’re entering, I suspect they’d stop asking me (of all people) to save them.
At some point, I’ll resort to this line: “You, you, and you, panic. The rest of you, come with me.”
So we start the conversation, rehashing the needs of life on Earth: water, food, shelter, community. Notice money doesn’t play a role, at least not if you’re capable of taking care of these four items. As Edward Abbey often wrote, “All gold is fool’s gold.”
And we move on to talk about where, and when, and why. I’d prefer Belize or Hawaii. Now. And why the hell not? But that’s just me, with my minority vote. And I rattle on about the export policies of oil-producing countries: Will they stop selling to us, and keep some for themselves, now that most countries are past peak? If so, I suspect chaos will take over the cities of this country within a year or so. If we can keep squeezing oil from those old Middle Eastern stones, perhaps we’ll have a few more years of “normalcy.” As if anything about happy motoring and the requisite inhumanity are normal.
As I can’t remind people often enough (including myself): The collapse of American Empire is wonderful news for the many species and cultures with which we share the planet. And probably for our own species, since the fall of civilization might allow our species to squeeze through the global-change bottleneck. I doubt it. But it’s the only chance we’ve got, and I’m an optimist.