The Economist finally showed up for the party, admitting late last week “the worst economic performance in 26 years could still be described as better than expected.” Yep, the vaunted hyper-conservative journal of record for the hyper-conservative financial sector finally conceded the economy’s in the tank and, calling it a recession, “this one is getting worse.”
We’re due for a massive correction with respect to our hallucinatory economy and our bloated population. Because we’ve run out of inexpensive energy, we’ve reached the end of economic growth. We might be at the end of global population growth, too. If not today or tomorrow, the day is fast upon us. Within a few years, the global human population will shrink by eighty percent or so. When it does, the alleviation of oppression will be profound, with respect to the rest of the world.
For the first time in my memory, we have a major media figure pining for the failure of a president, and therefore the country. And, also for the first time in my memory, I agree with Rush. The economic collapse of this country promises a renaissance for non-human species and non-industrial cultures.
We’ve built a set of living arrangements that relies on infinite access to a finite resource. That set of ill-conceived living arrangements is comprehensive, including capture and delivery of water, production and delivery of food, construction of shelter, the systems of health care, education, and finance, our sense of community (or absence thereof), and thousands of attributes we take for granted on a daily basis.
I’m not happy. The latest projections on climate change from the Hadley Center indicate we’ll not voluntarily power down quickly enough to save our species. Seems even if we reduce emissions to 47% below 1990 levels by 2010 (yeah, right) we’ll still warm the planet sufficiently to destroy all planetary ice by century’s end, and therefore ensure the extinction of our species. No surprise there, of course. When the Nobel committee gives away the Peace prize to the gutless (but “pure”) scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), you know we’re screwed at our own hand.
I used to talk, and write, about peak oil with considerable urgency. But my enthusiasm is waning. Perhaps it’s time to throw in the proverbial towel, give up the proverbial ghost, switch proverbial horses, or … well, insert your own tired cliché here.
Will we transform immediately and totally into ill-behaved rats, clustered in a cage without food? Perhaps, at least in the cages known as cities, particularly when the food runs out, along with the water. But people in the “tribes” known as neighborhoods and communities will try to get along, at least for a while, at least while we’re all suffering more-or-less equally. Small communities will be particularly well-suited for the hard times ahead. The neighborhoods of suburbia, on the other hand, are particularly poorly suited for neighborly behavior of the Mr. Rogers kind. Indeed, sprawling American suburbs seem to have been designed specifically for anonymity and therefore uncaring, unfriendly neighbors.