Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Couple of Bracing Antidotes

Here is a fine example of the kind of thinking we need more of these days...the first is from The Oil Drum poster ResponsibleAccountable, posted on perhaps the premier liberal blog DailyKos. Chaos will reproduce it in its entirety, but the full post (with comments) can be found here.

"Stop blaming the Republicans for the War in Iraq. Just stop it.

I am so very tired of it. I hear it day-in day-out. And I am sick of it. Stop blaming Bush. Stop blaming Cheney. Stop blaming the lot of them.

The fault lies entirely with you.

It is your fault. All of you. The American people. You refuse to change your habits, you refuse to do anything about the unsustainable lifestyles you are leading. You sack any political leader that dares challenge you to do so.

Yet you refuse to really bother to understand the world as it is, and not as you wish it were, or as your wasted hours in front of the TV surrounded by your trinkets have hypnotized you into fantasizing it is.

What do I mean by how it really is? Well, for one, our food production is entirely based on petrochemical based fertilizers and pesticides and massive supplies of oil to power machinery.

The so-called Green Revolution - that's all it was... pumping oil into our food supply. Pouring massive supplies of stored sunlight onto our crops. Turning millions of energy-slaves onto our farms - a barrel of oil has 25,000 man-hours of work in it. For every barrel you consume you have the equivalent of a dozen men working for you 8 hours a day, all year long.

Without the oil inputs the food supply would collapse... ignoring all other consequences a moment - think about that. The food supply would collapse. Pause and remember what collapse really means.

And world oil production peaked in 2005 and has not been as high again since. Now, it isn't the planet running out of oil that causes us problems - there is still as much left in the ground as we've used to date...

No, it is the fact that the rate at which we can get it out has peaked and from now one we will get an ever decreasing amount of oil out every year. Less oil will be available this year than last. Less next year than this.

Even as demand grows, the supply is declining frighteningly. Mexico - the second largest exporter of oil to the US, after Canada and ahead of Saudi Arabia - Mexico's oil production is crashing. It is falling at more than 10% per year. Almost every single major oil producer in the world is in terminal decline. There is increasingly less and less oil in the world being chased by more and more people. We in America have 5% of the world's population and consume 25% of its oil. That leaves a lot of pissed off people in the world. That's why we fight bloody messy wars to secure access to it.

But we'll get back to that in a moment.

So, the oil supply is declining, yet your demand for it is increasing. This leaves an ever widening gap. Which means shortages. Gap between supply and demand. Shortages. Pretty simple.

Even if there might be ways to mitigate some of this we won't be able to do it. Everything about our economy is so dependent on a complex system of oil inputs that any serious shock to that system will cause a catastrophic collapse. People didn't starve in the great depression so much because of lack of food - it was an inability to get that produce to market as the economy collapsed.

And that was food. Essential and straightforward. Imagine how much harder it will be to do complex engineering projects like alternative energy, electrification, public transportation projects... not a chance.

We are talking about nothing less than the end of everything. Remember the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that shocked you so much when you saw it on TV? Picture that everywhere. Across the nation. All the time. With no cavalry coming over the horizon, however late, to save the day.

Try going hungry for a couple of days. Then on the third day, with the stores empty, no money and no transportation... what are you going to do? Think what are you prepared to do when your child is hungry and you have no money and no food to eat? Now think what others might be prepared to do when they are in that spot.

This is the world we face by continuing to consume at the unsustainable levels we are doing.

But you won't do anything about it. You refuse. None of this is new information. None of this is hidden away in secret files somewhere. You are surrounded by the evidence. You have been told it so often in so many ways. But you won't do anything about it. You refuse.

So we, your elected leaders, we have to go out there and kill thousands - hundreds of thousands - of Arabs to secure future supplies of the thick black lifeblood of our current decaying lifestyles. Not personally I might add - thankfully at least you give us your kids to sacrifice on these military adventures, I'll give you that. I just wish you wouldn't complain about it so much.

Don't complain about the press not telling you that the Administration lied to get you into Iraq? They didn't tell you because no-one with any critical thinking skills, no-one here in Washington, no-one... i mean NO-ONE, believed it to be anything other than what it is. A desperate attempt to secure control of energy resources, while we still had some semblance of military pre-eminence. Some believed it was the wrong strategic move and argued so. But the fact you didn't get it is your fault not theirs.

Don't complain about how the Democrats didn't stand up to the Republicans on the war. You wouldn't let them. You voted repeatedly for scare tactics and faux strength manifested in cliched rhetoric and high-school level macho.

Don't blame the Republicans themselves. They just kept giving them more of what you asked for time and again, election after election - both through your votes and through your sitting on your backsides at home not bothering to come out and vote. (Whichever category best fits you)

When Dick Cheney said that the American way of life is non-negotiable, he wasn't being some stubborn ass, or some evil mastermind. He was stating a fact. The American people will not elect a leadership that will make them change their way of life. It will kick out anyone that tries.

So, instead we do what you demand of us: we will kill over half-a-million Iraqi men women and children. We have done. And we promise to keep doing so. We will kill them in their thousands. Millions if we have to.

And if that doesn't work we'll go out there and start killing Persians. We will slaughter them. We'll drop nuclear weapons on large civilian populations if need be. We will do anything not to have to make you change your way of life. This we promise you. Because that is what you demand.

Of course, we'll leave it for someone else to tell you - when all of this has finally failed - when your insatiable thirst for oil remains unslaked - while you still long to remain the overseer to your fossil-fuel energy-slaves - something shocking will happen.

Well, when I say shocking, it shouldn't be of course. When I sit down this evening, to relax with a beer after talking with you, something natural will occur. As I drink, the amount left in the bottle will decrease. If I speed up my rate of drinking the rate of decrease speeds up too. Eventually... fairly soon if I keep drinking at a rapid pace... eventually my bottle is empty. At that point I realise that a bottle holds only a finite amount of beer. It isn't much of a shock to me.

It shouldn't need saying, but perhaps we should repeat it every morning when we wake up: There is only a finite amount of oil on the planet. Once we exhaust fossil fuels they are gone. Forever.

And we just talked about what happens at that point. The picture is a very dark one. A precipitous collapse. A disintegration of everything we know. And a lot of people will die.

Even though we'll have kept killing the Arabs, then the Persians, eventually Venezuelans - heck possibly Canadians too - just as we promised to do.

...well, at least as long as we could keep getting away with it - we may actually be surprised at some point down that road to run into an immovable barrier of world resistance... but that is a whole other topic for another time.

Even with all of the killing you have demanded that we your elected leaders command the troops of our nation to instigate, all we'll have done is put off the collapse, made it later, eliminated any possibility of any mitigation whatsoever, and made the fall oh so very much worse.

So, please. Please. I ask of you one thing - and it isn't: "vote for me for President of the United States of America". I'll do that plenty in the coming months, so let's give that one a miss tonight.

I ask of you one thing: stop blaming psychotic Republicans, or ineffective Democrats, or sinister Cheney, or buffoon Bush, or Machiavellian Rove, or some evil cabal. stop blaming anyone for the war in Iraq, but yourself. It is your fault. And it is time to face up to that.

It's hard. It's painful. But it is time to grow up and see things as they really are. And vote.

Realise you aren't in high-school anymore. It isn't someone else's job to make your decisions for you. Many will step up and offer to do so if you let them - but you won't like those decisions if you do.

Those of you with family, with kids... Do you want any chance of a future whatsoever that doesn't involve losing everyone you know and care about? Then take responsibility. Decide right now to change. Fundamentally. Immediately. If not those children of yours will probably die alarmingly soon. And not well.

Once I am elected President of the United States of America, I will ask one more thing of you. I will put it to a vote.

Quite simply: Do you want us to make the radical changes to every area in public life that will be necessary to completely restructure society to a sustainable model as quickly as possible, to the benefit of the most people possible, and do you want it to start now? Or, do you want us to keep on killing Arabs, then Persians and whoever else we need to in order to buy a couple more years of this unsustainable lifestyle that is making you miserable anyway?

If you choose the former I will do whatever it takes, and pay whatever price necessary, to save what I can of this great nation of ours for the future. If you choose the latter... well I am sure somebody will give you what you ask for...

And that's it really.

Now, no Democrat will say that. I have no interest in a Republican getting nominated, but I reckon if someone like John McCain took a platform like this to try to revive his campaign he'd be a shoo-in. But the R's won't either.

No-one will. But it needs to be said....

...and read The Oil Drum even if you just have time for the daily Drum Beat... I promise you in a few years time you will be very glad you did..."

If that's not enough for you, try this one, courtesy of David Michael Green (author of 36 Signs Your Empire's Crumbling....if you recall). Of course, this person evidently believes that a mere changing of the guard from perhaps the worst president in US history will be sufficient to cure most of the Empire's ills, a position not in accord with Chaos' estimation of the situation. However, some interesting points as to why the US public is simply incapable of democracy at this very moment.

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