Rejoice! Globalization is dead

hombredelatierra, Jueves, Octubre 29, 2009 - 14:37


If only humanity had the wit to reap the benefits this golden opportunity provides..

The corporate elite and their government cronies will desperately try to re-inflate the burst bubble of the speculative globalized "free market" economy. They haven’t learnt anything from the financial-economic crisis of the past year because they inhabit a bubble universe pinched off from physical reality and founded on abstract flows of currency, the status and false wealth based on those flows. Despite recent green-mouthing, the elite does not grasp that all REAL wealth is ECOLOGICAL in nature, based on living, self-regenerating processes; real wealth is not found in non-renewable resources (which, by definition, deplete and exhaust).

The proof is in the pudding!

- Industrial economics depleted the planet’s non-renewable resource base in a mere 2 centuries.

- Life, on the other hand, has been self-sustaining, self-regenerating (and evolving) for 4 BILLION YEARS; that’s 20,000,000 times longer than the entire life of industrial society!!

Obama and company make the error of attempting to revivify a corpse: the globalized, fossil fuel economy IS ALREADY DEAD. They mistake post-mortem twitches as signs of life and imminent recovery..

In reality - physical reality - the fossil fuel economy is dead because of Peak Oil. The global economy may indeed “recover” in fits and starts for a few years, only to falter again as oil prices spike due to increased demand. The fact is, the days of cheap oil are over and, with them, the globalized “free market” economy based on cheap oil.
(some of these folk work in the oil industry!)

Oil will not run out tomorrow (or the day after) but CHEAP oil production cannot keep pace with rising demand from burgeonning economies (India, China..). Prices will rise, creating a “tight supply” market (Classical Economics 101, freshman year).

Worse, speculation on oil futures will create oil price spikes followed by crashes when bubbles burst and panic selling sets in. This is called “volatility” and will stunt alternative fuel development projects.

Consider Natural Gas Liquification. Infrastructure costs are huge which requires a long “look ahead” period of stable fossil fuel prices in order to ASSURE RETURN ON INVESTMENT. (Oil and gas prices are linked because they can inter-substitute as energy sources, to some degree.)

The facts are simple: we waited too long to deploy “bridging technologies” as transitional energies sources to a sustainable, renewable energy future.

Bridging technologies (large sense): natural gas, remaining cheap oil reserves, energy conservation / efficiency, public transport, (even) nuclear energy.. We frittered away these resources and the most precious resource of all, TIME, in order to persue the short term pleasures our ad men programmed us to persue. Now we pay the consequences..

For me, the “golden window of opportunity” to use bridging technologies to transition to a clean energy future was, roughly, 1960 to 1990 (at the very latest).

Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, outlining some of the threats to the environment and the consequences thereof, was published circa 1960. If the political will existed, world governments could have commissioned scientific teams to investigate global environmental challenges and appropriate ways to deal with them. This work could have been completed by 1970. Again, with political will, the UN could have initiated a global “Manhattan Project” (atom bomb program of World War II) to assure that global energy and food requirement would be met in a sustainable, self-regenerating fashion. Such a project could – with political will – have gotten off the ground circa 1975.

This, however, was not the trajectory followed. As a result, we are today IN A TOTALLY DIFFERENT BALL GAME WITH A NEW SET OF RULES. The business and political elites are blissfully ignorant of this reality, I feel, although some commentators hypothesize that an "Inner Circle" of hypercynics has understood the implication of Peak Oil for years and is deliberately attempting to profit from the last days of the dying fossil fuel economy to the detriment of future generations. This would explain, I guess, the bizarre behavior of the oil industry friendly US government during the Kyoto Accord discussions: not content with simply not participating in carbon emission reductions, they appeared to willfully sabotage the diliberations for all parties.

However, all is not doom ‘n gloom! There is, in fact, reason for hope even with the poo in the fan. Life, science tells us, evolves under the pressure of change, even REQUIRES it: adapt or die off! There is plenty of evidence to support this proposition from the fossil record of early life. “Cephalized” (”brainy”) lifeforms – if they survive an extinction event – respond by becoming brainier, more adaptive. “Necessity is the mother of invention” in the biological and social-cultural realms.

If this is true, we should “look forward” :0 to a time of increasing stress, chaos, and conflict with – on the PLUS SIDE – a real chance to AFFECT REAL POSITIVE CHANGE TOWARDS A BETTER, MORE HUMANE, MORE HUMAN SOCIETY. In Ecolgical Christian terms we are given the challenge \ opportunity of becoming ”co-creators with God in bringing about his Kingdom on Earth”. Researchers like Edgar Morin (“La Méthode”), Illya Prigogine (Nobel Prize for research into self-organizing systems), Robert Reid (“Biological Emergences”, MIT Press) recognize such times as critical phases of RAPID transition / selection that “program” the future evolution of the system in question for long periods of time. Example: the asteroid that slammed into earth 65 million years ago, ending the reign of the dinosaurs and beginning that of the mammals (us!). As Illya Prigogine who won the Nobel prize for his work on self-organizing systems put it, “timing is of the essence” at such times: relatively small efforts or impulses can deflect the system off along one of SEVERAL RADICALLY DIFFERENT evolutionary trajectories. In our times, we could envision “scenarios” like

- extinction of life on earth (exceedingly unlikely in the extreme)

- extinction of human life (quite unlikely)

- extinction of SciTech culture (”new stone age” – moderately unlikely)

- a chaotic, nasty transition to a sustainable Space Age culture (a weak version of the previous scenario which includes a rebound / recovery – fairly likely)

- a “utopian” revolution (à la Marx) to a sustainable Space Age (rather unlikely)

- various HiTech dystopias (?? likelihood ??)

and so on (use your imagination!). The point is, THIS IS A TIME OF CHOOSING, SELECTING THAT WHICH WILL COME. The hick is that none of us knows whether or not his action will have the intended outcome. :0 But change things we must; in fact, we cant’t help it: even BREATHING actively maintains the atmosphere at its current chemical composition. In an interconnected world, we are actors WHETHER OR NOT WE LIKE IT.

SOME positive outcomes of de-globalization as the fossil fuel economy fizzles out:

- shipping food over god-awful distances will disappear. Food will be grown regionally / locally (except, ideally, for exotics like tropical spices which have a high value per unit weight). This saves energy in transport, reduces pollution. If well managed, this transition could lead to healthier, fresher, more nutritious food which is less contaminated by carcinogenic / mutagenic pesticides. Land management should – and should be MADE TO – improve with less nitrogen and phosphorous runoff to watercourses. Land quality should improve. At present, industrial agrigulture impoverishes the organic, life-sustaining properties of the soil. In an overpopulated planet such practices are non-sustainable, patently insane and MUST BE ELIMINATED! The collapse of globalized agro-industry can aid this process by elimination faulty, unecological farming practices. People will be able to get to know their farmer again: farmer, consumer and farmer / consumer coops are becoming viable business models, all to the benefit of local famers and consumers. We need to ACTIVELY ACCELERATE THESE PROCESSES OF POSITIVE CHANGE IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES as much as we can! “Think globally / act locally” is truer now than it ever was.

- if the transition to “post-growth” economies is well managed, so that people don’t end up starving for example, people will once again begin to make contact with the REAL VALUES OF LIFE like family, community, personal effort and achievement, group effort and achievement, cultural and spiritual expression, artistic creation, etc. Consumerism, in order to function, must expel such vital values from human life. The lack of real satisfactions in life creates an ETERNAL HUNGER for SUBSTITUTE satisfactions which globalized consumer industry feeds off. Man does not live by bread alone.

- localized / regionalized production of energy in DECENTRALIZED / DISTRIBUTED consumer /producer grids, if well designed, produces energy intelligently. Less infrastructure is needed for energy transport and less energy is lost in transmission since most energy (electricity) is consumed close to the point where it is generated. This means less pollution and less use of non-renewable resources. Electric meters should run both ways: you buy electricity from the grid when you need it; your house (or neighborhood) supplies electricity to the grid when you produce a surplus (for this YOU get paid by the electric utility).

- More local / regional production means less road, rail, air or sea transport of goods: less energy consumed, less pollution, less environmental destruction (for example in extraction of energy resources). This means, in practice, cleaner air and water, less climate change, less extreme weather (and geopolitical instability from crop failures). It also means less health problems related to pollution. We have paid a high price for our consumer society! There are many “externalized” – hidden – costs in the present system of production !!! (”Hidden subsidies” to pollutors for example: the pollutor saves money on pollution abatement equipment; the poor sucker living down wind / stream pays with health problems as does the public health system: “socialism for the rich”!)

Happy New Year 2010 to Everyone!
Vie, 2009-12-18 17:57

If you read French and want to see the "new economy" (post peak oil) emerge and develop in a positive direction:

specifically, the latest entry 18 dec, 2009

meure UN monde que Le Monde naisse!

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