America will Pay

The world economy and our environment are changing faster than most of us realize or want to admit. Growing populations, dwindling resources, job/income migration as well as natural disasters are putting a lot of pressure on society as we know it.

My guess is that we Americans are in for a reality check. We as a nation have run up a huge debt and because our government is printing money with no collateral other than their word, our dollar is becoming worthless. Think other countries might want their money back before it isn’t worth anything? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not predicting a run on the bank, that would be a disaster for everyone. What I am predicting is that Americans will live a much more modest lifestyle.

Within a decade, the days of SUV’s and McMansions will be over. The price of everything will be much higher than today and wages will not keep up. This will effect not only those that make minimum wage, it will trickle up the economic ladder to effect everyone so get ready.

Lock in as many necessities as possible at today’s rates. What I mean is don’t hesitate to spend today’s Dollars on things that will help you later. Lock in your mortgage for 30 or 40 years so that won’t go up. Buy a fence for your vegetable garden, purchase a motorcycle or a vehicle that doesn’t use much gas, install a wood burning stove and get ready for a wild ride to the poor-house.

This year we saw Wall Street buckle under the collapse of big banks and other institutions that deal in derivatives. In case you don’t know what derivatives are, they are money on paper. Promissory notes if you will. The trading of debt and stuff that you can’t hold in your hand, use or eat. As the Dollar becomes weaker, our derivatives will also become worth less so what’s the next logical step for smart investors? Switch to investing in commodities. Buy futures on things like wheat, corn, oil and other basics that everyone needs. It just makes sense. There are more people, less staples and the law of supply and demand dictates that prices will go up. Add lots of profit seeking investors into the market for basic foods and you have disaster. The poor won’t eat at all and the rest of us will also have to change our lifestyles.

I’m a bit apprehensive about what economic change will do to society as a whole. The tables are turning. People in developing nations are growing more prosperous because we moved production (and pollution) to their countries, people in under-developed nations are already starting food riots and we are loosing our toys. We are so used to living lifestyles of un-sustainable luxury that we can’t share if we want to keep it up. There’s not enough to go around for the whole world to live like we do. That’s a big problem.

Are we going to accept a large decline in our standard of living without a fight? Are the poor going to starve without trying to take food from those that have it? Are the Chinese going to be mad and want to break our knees when we pay our debt with worthless money or are they going to want resources that we don’t want to give up instead?

If we’re lucky the weather will hold and our plight will stay limited to financial distress. I’m not a doomsday priest but the evidence that climate changes real quick is there. We know it’s already happening so when will it snap? When will the oceans conveyor stop and quit bringing warmth to Europe? In 100 years? Next year? It has stopped before because too much fresh water was dumped into the northern oceans. Arctic ice is melting now. Are we ready for an ice age in the blink of an eye? Being poor won’t help. That’s just one example of the many time-bombs we have ticking. Any large natural disaster can throw humanity over the brink.

We can’t avoid change or disaster. The best we can do is to stick together, try to avoid conflict and prepare to the best of our ability.




The Energy Wars. Get Ready to Escalate.

It first dawned on me during a 7th grade science experiment. Mankind is in big trouble!

We were growing mold in Petri dishes. The concept was simple and the results were fascinating.

We started by putting different nutrients like agar, honey, sugar water, slices of apple etc. into Petri dishes which we left sitting at different temperatures, light and humidity levels. It was amazing… Almost everything we put out grew some kind of mold or fungus. Given time and something to eat, life sprung up almost everywhere. The fact that life is so abundant, varying and resilient was a key factor to my revelation.

The revelation was this… All of the fuzzy mold critters that developed in the many different dishes we had put out went through the same life-cycle. They multiplied until all of the food was gone and then they died.

Just like every batch of mold did, we the human race are rapidly eating all of the food in our Petri dish. Earth can only sustain X amount of people where the number X is variable depending on what comfort or consumption level you use as the sustainable minimum. When you’re doing that kind of math it matters a lot whether Earth must sustain 6.5 billion people driving cars and living in single family homes or 6.5 billion living in dung huts and walking. I’ve seen studies that say 9 billion is the limit and I’ve seen others that say we can sustain a lot more if we all consume less.

It doesn’t matter what number X is. The fact is that the human race is growing and using resources fast. The other fact is that our main resource, the resource that is the basis of the global economy and the one we use to harvest food, pump water, transport goods, heat homes etc. is oil.

Unlike the mold in the Petri dishes we have options.

1. Fight wars over resources like oil, water, land etc. This will reduce our population and stretch remaining resources a bit longer. That’s already happening and is the most likely path for humanity.

2. Tap into new resources. Unfortunately this is only happening on a small scale. Because profits are higher when supply is low, the powerful oil industry will hinder the influx of any kind of alternative energy not controlled by them.

3. Stretch our existing resources. Things that make sense to me are driving smaller cars and insulating homes better. I don’t know about low wattage poison light bulbs or cars that need extra batteries, gizmos and oil.

-. I won’t count having everyone on the planet consume less as an option because it goes against human nature.

Speaking of human nature, there’s greed and speaking of greed, there’s profit in war.

And that’s why we are where we are today… In the early stages of the energy wars.

There are curve signs on the road ahead, read them and heed.

1. The US has military bases and is occupying key regions in the oil rich middle east.
2. China’s economy is booming and their national energy consumption will surpass the US in just a few years.
3. Iran is a real hot-spot. They have a contract to supply China with natural gas and are getting help from Russia to build nuclear reactors. That’s smart of them but it’s irking the US to the point where they want to pick a fight.
4. The US Dollar is weaker than it’s ever been. Big players are selling Dollars out of their federal reserves and portfolios in favor of other currencies.
5. Here’s the big one, climate change. Parts of the world are flooding, parts are burning, some places are turning into desert while others are getting washed away. Growing seasons are changing and species that pollinate crops are dying off.
6. There were 3 billion people on this planet in 1959, 6.5 billion now, and a projected 9 billion by 2042.

The short term effect of all of these factors combined will be that world-wide, things will be more expensive and the US, where consumers are spoiled rotten, the country that carries the biggest stick will be broke.

I see a sure thing recipe for a bigger war being stirred up right now. We will go about it in the usual way, the way mankind has throughout history. First by making enemies invading other countries and justifying our greed with reasons like “We’re spreading democracy” or “We’re fighting terrorism”, “Protecting our national interests” etc. Then as our enemies strike back we escalate the situation by picking fights with our enemy’s friends, neighbors or even countries that share the same ethnicity or religion. Look at the way the western media is subliminally stoking the fire against Islam.

Well, let’s hope that I’m completely wrong or that at least the bad events I foresee take a long time to unfold so that we can enjoy the unsustainable prosperity we currently have.


Extinction. Are we next?

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British scientific journal, there have been five major extinctions during the last 520 million years. Four of them have been linked to warmer tropical seas. I for one have read enough articles and connected enough dots to know that we are seeing the beginnings of such an event right now. Not some time in the future but right now as I write this article. Don’t be fooled by scientists that say these events take hundreds or even thousands of years. They happen fast, usually within a few decades. Fast enough to effect you, me and especially our children.

During the last great warming, 11,500 years ago, the earth warmed 9-18 degrees F in less than a decade. If humans change the composition of the atmosphere significantly enough, the possibility exists that an abrupt climate shift with substantial social and ecological consequences could occur. – Alley & deMenocal, 1998

Last month a U.N. network of scientists reported that 30 percent of the Earth’s species could disappear if temperatures rise 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 70 percent if they rise 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Compare that to the predictions by the Woods Hole Research Center that say…

“Surface temperature increases are projected to increase 1.8-6.3 °F in the next century, with scientists’ best guess being about 3.5 °F. Scientific modeling suggests that the surface temperature will continue to increase beyond the year 2100 even if concentrations of greenhouse gases are stabilized by that time. However, if carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase at present rates, a quadrupling of pre-industrial CO2 concentration will occur not long after the year 2100. Projected temperature increases for such an atmospheric concentration are 15-20 °F above the present day mean annual global surface temperature.”

and you may realize that we have a serious problem, not in 100 years but RIGHT NOW.

I read an article yesterday that stated “Butterflies now extinct in Alps”, last week I read one that stated 40 to 60% of the bees in North America had vanished/died due to a mysterious disease called Colony Collapse Disorder. One third of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators. Without pollinators to produce the fruits, nuts, and vegetables that fill your refrigerator, we will be hard pressed to feed the billions of people that populate our planet.

Add the fact that dwindling oil supplies will make mass farming, i.e. food production and transportation more expensive in the future and you have a recipe for disaster. Food prices are going to rise dramatically over the next few years. Of course this will, as usual, hit the poor the hardest but even the rich will feel the effect. Think about it… If your neighbor has nothing to eat and you do, he will expect you to share willingly or he will use force to take his share from you to feed his family.

I’m talking War.

Sure, the Bush regime has already started what future generations will call the “Energy Wars” but trust me when I say that Iraq is just the beginning. It’s over oil which provides lots of conveniences and many things we have come to depend on as necessities. The “Resource Wars” will be much bigger. Deserts are expanding and sea levels are rising. Just wait until the resources at stake are land, water and food.

To sum up this article, the answer to my opening question “Extinction. Are we next?” is no.

Man will not become extinct any time soon. We are extremely adaptable and technology will help us survive even the toughest conditions. We will find ways to pollinate our crops, we will flee the rising seas by moving to higher ground, we will use technology to fight the ever increasing wildfires and disease caused by higher temperatures and many of us will even survive the fight for our remaining resources. After all that, only a fraction of the current population will be left.

Maybe the suffering to come will teach those that survive a lesson they will heed…

Don’t pee in the pond you live in!