As the collapse deepens across the world, there is a rising tide of concern among crashwatch bloggers that the collapse will not happen soon enough. This story is a prime example of why a long, slow crash will have a worsening impact then a fast crash.
Rising prices are only one factor among many different variables, but it does demonstrate that we’re unable to curb consumption even at the price increases we have already seen. However, according to this article, Saudi Arabia is pretty much expecting us to reduce our consumption.
I have serious doubts that conservation measures will ever prove adequate enough, and we already know bioethanol and alternative fuels can’t keep up to demand. The upshot of all this is how a slow crash, i.e., the drawdown of the world’s resources to maintain our existing living standards, will ultimately destroy everything, all by itself, without considering any other factors or variables.
The inability to make drastic and widesweeping changes in global consumption habits should be pretty obvious by now. Actually, to be entirely fair, in First World nation consumption habits. While many nations, particularly China are vying to catch up to our living standards, the energy and resource consumption levels of First World nations will probably remain forever unmatched. You’ve heard the saying, “this is as good as it gets”? Well, that’s true in this case, we are now living at the very apex of civilization and no other nations on earth will ever achieve this level again. Possibly for forever.
If we’re not willing to truly conserve, and if gradual price increases do not affect our consumption habits, what might we expect? Assuming no other factors, a world of increasing scarcity, then “total exhaustion” of non-renewable resources, and extensive depletion of renewable resources. Collapse will then commence in earnest, followed by a massive die-off on a global scale and then a long, slow recovery towards localized communities.
Of course, I don’t think this will happen, because of the deep interconnected links between energy, resources and politics. Long before total exhaustion, war, rationing and population control will be widespread. A severe curtailment upon goods, commerce, industry, travel and personal freedom will be enacted.
Not too many people remember war rationing as the nation geared up for battle. But imagine this on a global scale, forever, or at least until the population levels dropped and stabilizes to sustainable limits. This will, under the slow crash scenario, last a long time, perhaps a generation or more. The linchpin is energy. As energy resources diminish, so will everything else. Prices will rise and rise and rise, and eventually, the scarcity of goods will be widespread. In time, this will be dealt with by rationing and nationalization of all resources; food, water, electricity, transportation and even medicine.
A slow crash essentially means the absolute destruction of everything we’ve ever known. It is the worst of all possible outcomes in reality, because it leaves absolutely nothing for future generations and expends all of the world’s resources on trying to maintain the present generation at the complete expense of all future generations. This in reality, is “speciescide” at an unprecedented level in human history.
And there is also “the promise”, called the “techno-fix” inherent in the slow crash scenario. It usually goes something like this: “Given enough time and effort and energy, mankind will miraculously resolve his most pressing problems, including energy, pollution and environmental destruction, and will save himself from the brink of disaster”. This type of belief is found very often in the writings of climate change deniers, peak oil naysayers and technogeek “environmentalist” types who base this belief on nothing more substantial then wishful thinking and corporate press releases.
Time is what they demand, as the world continues it’s headlong plunge into oblivion. Time is all that is needed to find the “fix” while consumption levels remain high and the unseen cliff looms ever closer.
Ironically, it is the fast crash outcome seen as the “cliff” event to be dreaded most, because of this belief in the “fix”. Fast crash is the cliff coming suddenly and almost without warning, leveling civilization to pre-industrial levels rather quickly. This cliff seems frightening, insurmountable and the most devastating, but it is the opposite that is actually true.
The slow crash cliff is the worse of all possible outcomes, doing little to nothing to prepare people for the inevitable drop off. The technofix is simply not coming, and this belief is very dangerous. Don’t forget, bioethanol was one such “promise” that is already proving to be false. It is accelerating the environmental destruction.
It’s quite possible, with this kind of wrong thinking and unrealistic expectations, that the slow crash response, which is in fact what we have today, will trigger the fast crash cliff far sooner then the slow crash cliff. That remains a distinct possibility. Earlier I mentioned the interconnected links between energy, resources and politics. As slow crash grinds on, as it is doing today, any one of these areas could trigger a domino effect in the others. In the real world, there are many other factors to consider, not the least which is climate change, drought, war, famine, pandemic, crop failures, biodiversity loss, rising sea levels and many more.
The slow crash will deal with all of these as it progresses towards the cliff. The fast crash could avoid many of these as it heads over the cliff much, much sooner. And it also has the advantage of avoiding speciescide. It is the only crash outcome that can truly be called “desirable”.
Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning again that either scenario is really not up to “us” crash watchers. What will be, will be, despite all and everything we might do. That the crash is well underway is without doubt. That up until now, the slow crash has the upper hand. But we still do not know if the domino effect will kick in adequately to trigger a fast crash. It might not. And if it doesn’t, this will be the worst of all possible outcomes.
Hypothetically speaking, if I was a member of the ruling elite and I understood these things, I’d definitely be considering ways to accelerate the entire process, opting for a fast, hard crash over the slow variety. This would be much more profitable in the long run for me and mine and even ensure my own progeny a chance at recovery while staying very rich.
But I don’t know if they’re that smart. Maybe, maybe not. But if they are, your time is running out. Which it is anyway, this blog has documented many global events that are all accumulating into a pixel perfect picture of catastrophic proportions. Prepare for crash as if there is no tomorrow, because one day, there won’t be.