We’ve known this was coming for a long time. Every empire is built on a foundation of sand debt. The Ponzi scheme works for a while but, at some point, the debt we’ve passed along to future generations must be paid. The alternative is default, which can happen with extreme rapidity. The latter option is increasingly attractive because the current U.S. debt of $10.5 trillion far exceeds the value of all the currency in the world combined with all the gold ever mined from planet Earth. This seems like a problem to me.

The prototypical disaster

In the final pages of Earth Abides, Stewart gives us great hope. He envisions the day civilized humans will give way to worldly humans, abandoning dominance and arrogance for coexistence and humility. He imagines humans living with the world, instead of apart from it. He imagines us becoming part of nature, so that, when nature bats last, we’ll still be on the planetary stage

The detritus of empire

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.”

Limits to growth

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.

The Greatest Depression, briefly described

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.