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Great read that I found over at DU - the article is not at DU, the link is there, and this topic intrigues and worries me. What if the collapse already happened? What if we are living in a collapsed world? Do any of us doubt that the United States' economy would have collapsed if we didn't bail the banks out in 2008? My husband's cousin, who works on the docks in NJ, said that goods and food were just sitting on the docks, because the supermarkets were not getting the credit to move the food to their warehouses. Would a collapse look like this? Here is one person's opinion:

http://hipcrime.blogspot.co.uk/...

Every once and awhile I'll be listening to a podcast with one or the other writers specializing on the subject of Peak Oil or collapse and the subject of timetables will come up. When will the collapse finally be here, the callers ask insistently, almost pleadingly, so that they can finally justify their investments in freeze-dried foods, water purification tablets and solid gold coins. Inevitably the guest will demur, and speak more in general terms. But I'm going to be the first pundit to go out on the limb and assign a timeline for the collapse. Spread it far and wide, and let's see just how good my predictive powers are. Are you ready? Here it is:

Right now.


More below:

What do they think a collapse is supposed to look like? It seems people just cannot just cannot get past the "Zombie Apocalypse" theory of collapse. They imagine hordes of disease-ridden folks dressed in rags stumbling around and fighting over cans of petrol and stripping cans of food from shelves. That's not what collapse looks like. It never has been. In fact, there's very little evidence that a Zombie Apocalypse style collapse ever occurred in the historical record. Instead we see subtle patterns of abandonment and decay that unfold over long periods of time. Big projects stop. Population thins. Trade routes shrink and people revert to barter. Things get simpler and more local. Culture coarsens. High art stagnates. People disperse. Expectations are adjusted downward. Investments are no longer made in the future and previous investments are cannibalized just to maintain the status quo. Extend and pretend is hardly a recent invention.

The part of this writer's argument that makes the most sense to me is what is going on in Europe. But I don't know. I read things like this sometimes and begin to think that maybe these people are all paranoid. Maybe I would be paranoid to think that there is some truth to all of this? What do you think? Truth? Craziness? Or somewhere in between.

Poll

Do you think the economic and societal collapse have already occurred?

42%50 votes
14%17 votes
43%51 votes

| 118 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Silly diarist! Dontcha' know... (25+ / 0-)

    ...that it's a "recovery" and this is our "new normal."
     Get with the program! Everything looks just peachy!

    (The U.S. economy DID collapse.  It's merely being propped up. The 1% are doing just great!)

    (snark)

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:58:02 AM PDT

  •  thanks for sharing this (10+ / 0-)

    intriguing read.

    i've got a long-running love / hate relationship with economics, and much of it revolves around my perspective as environmentalist -- and in particular, how continuously aggrieved i am by our collective inability to question the lie that economy and environment are these diametrically opposing forces that need to be counter balanced.

    anyhow, the notion of "we've already collapsed" has a ring of grim authenticity to it, at least on first pass.

    our economy is incresingly predicated less on actually making stuff, and ever more on the financial (dis)service sector. how and why their movement of bullshit paper (that generate wealth based only on debt / extraction, but adds zero value) is counted as positive to gdp is beyond me.

    imho: we need a radically restructured economic system, one that takes into measure the opportunities and constraints of the planet we live on, and at the same time we need a serious upgrade to our tools and models within academic economics. current thinking / anaysis predicated on way too many assumptions that fall apart upon ground truthing.  

    keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

    by homo neurotic on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:01:56 PM PDT

    •  that would be socialism. (5+ / 0-)

      What you said: "imho: we need a radically restructured economic system..."

      Capitalism, properly defined, is an economic system in which capital is equity (ownership), labor is rented (wages), and profit is returned to capital*.  The inherent fatal flaw is that it requires a growth rate, and any growth rate taken over a long period of time is by definition an exponential function.   Exponential functions can't persist in a finite system of any kind, including a planet, which after all is a finite Euclidean solid.  

      So capitalism as we've known it has to go.  It has to be replaced with something that does not depend on exponential growth: a steady-state economic system.

      For that there are basically three choices:  fascism, feudalism, or socialism.  

      ----

      *Contrast to the employee-owned cooperative model where labor is equity, capital is rented (debt financing rather than equity financing), and "profit," technically called "patronage dividend" or "retained earnings distribution" is returned to labor.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:17:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  guilty as charged n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, adigal

        keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

        by homo neurotic on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:25:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  on second thought (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, adigal

        and to clarify, if my babbling twaddle sounds like advocacy of socialism, i won't shrink from that.

        but my saying that we need a radical transformation of economy (and the study of economics), i do not rule out the possibility of something whose form we've never seen.

        in other words, i'm not sure i'm prepared to accept the limitation that we have only one of three (fascism, feudalism, or socialism) choices.

        precisely because modern society has never seen (large scale) economy predicated upon living in accordance with natural systems, i'd suggest we need  to be open to the possibility of something the likes we've not yet seen, let alone named.

        just a thought / very best, dave / hn

        keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

        by homo neurotic on Thu May 03, 2012 at 04:28:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  to get technical about it... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          homo neurotic, peregrine kate

          .... something more like the Mondragon system:

          Labor = equity, capital is rented, the income scale is compressed, and the central financial entity (in their case a large credit union they built) has a strong role in enterprise development to maximize the success of each new company that does get started.

          To that I would also add this:  a new system of currency.

          Local (bioregional) currencies would be based on units of labor.

          National or international currencies would be based on units of energy, such as BTUs or ergs or whatever turns out to be the most useful measure.  

          Thus each level of currency would be backed by something physical and real.  Yes I could write about this at length.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:35:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  YES !!! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peregrine kate, G2geek

            >> To that I would also add this:  a new system of currency. <<

            thank you for going there.

            personally, i'm an unapologetic advocate (a la jeremy rifken, among others) of pegging currency value to energy unit (i.e. something whose value can be objectively measured and agreed upon by all). totally tracking right along side you there, boss. very best, dave / hn

            keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

            by homo neurotic on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:40:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  and ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, adigal

            i think local currency concept has real value as well; makes me happy to see fledgling experimentation w/the concept at the community level start to pop up here and there.

            keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

            by homo neurotic on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:42:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the key to this is: decoupling local from global. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              homo neurotic

              The point is to decouple local economies from global.  

              Thus a local problem in one region can't multiply itself via the currency into a global problem.  And the impact of global problems upon local economics is buffered somewhat.

              Think of it as similar to suspension on a vehicle, that works to lessen the impact of irregularities of the road upon the vehicle and its passengers & cargo, and also works to lessen the impact of the vehicle's inertial mass upon the pavement.  

              I could practically write a book on this topic.  

              The point of using labor as the basis for the local currency is that labor can always be produced locally in ways that cannot be translated to global transactions.  For example the dude at the burger joint, the nurses at the hospital, most municipal employees, the person at the hardware store who helps you find the right materials for building a bookcase, etc.: all the "Main Street USA" type jobs, can't be outsourced halfway around the world.  

              Labor is the ultimate form of energy conversion: from sunlight to plant matter to calories (either directly or via farm animals) to humans, translated to the activity of human muscles & brains.  Labor is the top of the energy conversion chain for supporting human societies.  Labor can be further abstracted into capital, but that makes it transactable, in which case it can be absconded globally unless it's linked to a locale.  Thus labor-based bioregional/local currencies.  

              Conversely, energy is the bottom of the chain: the most basic "raw material" (as it were) that's needed to perform operations on all other materials.  And energy can easily be shipped across vast distances.  It only requires one step of translation or abstraction to turn that into currency, and energy is the same everywhere, agnostic to locality.  So that makes sense to use as the basis of national & global currencies.

              But again, the point of having both is to provide a buffer between the local/bioregional level and the national/global level.  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:49:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i like the cut o' yer jib (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                G2geek

                Thus a local problem in one region can't multiply itself via the currency into a global problem.  And the impact of global problems upon local economics is buffered somewhat.

                ...

                Conversely, energy is the bottom of the chain: the most basic "raw material" (as it were) that's needed to perform operations on all other materials.  And energy can easily be shipped across vast distances.  It only requires one step of translation or abstraction to turn that into currency, and energy is the same everywhere, agnostic to locality.  So that makes sense to use as the basis of national & global currencies.

                perhaps this is too tangential, and it is a counterpoint to the argument that energy can be shipped across vast distance, but in the spirit of local currency, for any one location (or region), some methods of energy generation may be more fruitfully developed than others. geothermal. solar. terrestrial wind. offshore wind. tidal. etc. none of them perfect everywhere, some among them worthy anywhere.

                i harbor a "smoke 'em if you got 'em" rethinking of our energy infrastructure. but perhaps we'll get to space solar / microwave transmission, and make the whole ball of twaddle moot ... though not likely in my lifetime :D

                keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

                by homo neurotic on Fri May 04, 2012 at 12:04:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  thanks, and, yes. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Roger Fox, homo neurotic

                  Agreed, use whatever local sources of energy are viable, just as long as they're climate-clean.  Fossil fuels need to be conserved for a number of reasons including the fact that each of them is a vital feedstock for industrial materials (e.g. plastics, chemicals, fertilizer, etc.).

                  Local energy production also becomes a source of local wealth: any energy an area can export is a positive source of income.  This will encourage climate-clean energy development anywhere it's possible, and for example, Arizona could export solar electricity to the wider national grid, thereby gaining the income needed to take various steps to protect itself from impacts of climate change.

                  "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                  by G2geek on Fri May 04, 2012 at 02:17:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Meh, the Dutch Empire collapsed (4+ / 0-)

    they used wind power as a work multiplie, the British Empire fell, the used coal as a work multiplier, the US Empire is collapsing, we have oil as a work multiplier.

    The next Empire will be India, they will use fusion as a work multiplier. Possibly Polywell Fusion.

    Needless to say I'm no Doomer.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:02:12 PM PDT

    •  India has a lot of catch-up to do (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob, Nisi Prius, adigal

      before they could even contemplate "empire" beyond their own borders, though it should be said that within their own borders is a pretty big world. China would seem a better bet in terms of empire... but more to the point, none of the empires mentioned collapsed because they ran out of their "work multiplier" (I'm guessing the Dutch still have about the same amount of wind as before...) but because their reach inevitably exceeded their grasp...which is pretty much what is happening to the US today.  

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Thu May 03, 2012 at 02:32:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  de-limiting one factor in an equation... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate, Roger Fox, adigal

      .... does not de-limit the others.

      Where unlimited clean energy is available, population grows until it hits another limit to growth such as potable water, sanitation, food, contagious disease, etc.  

      My peers and I had this discussion in the early 00s.  At the time we started out by making the same mistake of believing that clean energy would solve the world's problems (this by way of knowing some physicists who were working on theories that pointed toward new clean energy sources).  

      As we thought it through and accumulated data, we found ourselves moving toward the conclusion that de-limiting one factor does not inherently de-limit others.  And that conclusion is convergent with others who have looked at this in much more detail.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:21:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, unlimited clean energy would solve (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roger Fox, adigal

        most of the worlds problems (all of them if you truly mean unlimited).  For food you would have hydroponics.  For water you could have desalination plants and 50 mile wide atmospheric condensers (dehumidifiers).  For living room you would have outer space as a 200 mile railgun for launching large payloads into space with minimal fuel is feasible.   All of this is possible if you define "unlimited" to mean "a few hundred terawatts".

        If you have truly unlimited energy (not just a very large amount) then you don't have to worry about resources at all because all matter is just energy so why not just use some of that unlimited clean energy to make whatever you need, from food to entire solar systems.  Of course, such violations of the conservation of energy/matter could have severe consequences including collapsing the universe into a black hole due to the extra mass.

        There is no saving throw against stupid.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Thu May 03, 2012 at 07:25:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Practical Fusion might (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          adigal

          You site some great potential, But I think G2geek makes a valid point.

          Never the less practical fusion can put humans on a potentially better path. as you note. It depends how things work out, as G2geek notes.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:42:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What kind of power output would your average (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roger Fox

            fusion plant have and what size would such a plant be.  Or if you prefer, how large would a 1 terawatt fusion power plant be.

            There is no saving throw against stupid.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:37:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •   Polywell theory says (0+ / 0-)

              A 3 meter magnetic core, in a 5 meter reactor in a 10 meter room, generating 1000Mw.

              Proton Boron fusion is anuetronic, with direct conversion to electricity, no thermal plant, no nuclear waste.

              Double the size of the reactor, you get 144 times more output.

              The Navy funded Polywell program uses a 60 cm core, a long way from net power. They like the idea cause it could replace fission nukes on ships.

              I like it cause it can replace coal, fission nukes, nat gas, and send a ship to Mars in 38 days. Titan in 76 days.

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:12:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So how big of a reactor for a full 1 terawatt (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Roger Fox

                of net power output?  Also, how well would it scale, could you build a 50 or 100 terawatt polywell reactor using the same technology?  Because if the goal is to use that power to solve many of our problems we are going to have to boost the world's power output by several times it's current amount.  As an example, you can extract CO2 from the air, separate it into carbon and oxygen and then store the carbon but that requires lots of power.  If you had even more power (probably at least a 100 terawatt reactor, if not more) you could have a satellite with a microwave beam heat part of the ocean to steer hurricanes away from land and up toward the arctic where they would die out.

                There is no saving throw against stupid.

                by Throw The Bums Out on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:44:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Double the size of the reactor, you get 144 times (0+ / 0-)

                  more output.

                  but the 1000Mw size is near ideal, its small enough that the core can be shipped by truck and possibly by rail. ANd could even be sent to orbit or the Moon with not much more than current launch tech.

                  500 gigs for the US is average demand. so 500, 1000Mw reactors and youre good. Peak demand is about 750gigs?
                  Mix in some solar and wind.

                  terawatt = too much math, LOL

                  FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                  by Roger Fox on Sun May 06, 2012 at 12:05:52 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  1 terawatt is 1000 GW. Peak energy demand (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Roger Fox

                    of the entire planet is currently somewhere between 15 and 20 TW.  However, geoengineering and/or weather modification/control to mitigate the effects of global warming would require MUCH more than that (and I am talking things like heating part of the ocean with a microwave (or whatever) beam to steer hurricanes away from land).  As for launch tech, have you looked at the (closed cycle) nuclear liberty rocket which could not only carry three fully assembled ISS stations into orbit but have enough delta-V left over to send the radioactive material into the sun?  We could have mercurial (on or in orbit of Mercury) solar power stations pumping hundreds to thousands of terawatts (that's millions of gigawatts!) within a century if we were to really get going.

                    There is no saving throw against stupid.

                    by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 06, 2012 at 04:34:28 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not thrilled with fission (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      adigal

                      Busssards QED fusion rocket would make the point moot.

                      Once you have fusion, why go back?

                      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                      by Roger Fox on Sun May 06, 2012 at 11:02:21 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  It would depend on the thrust to weight (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        adigal

                        ratio.  Hopefully it would make the point moot but it is entirely possible that it wouldn't.  A closed cycle fission rocket the size of the Saturn V could lift 3 fully assembled ISS stations into LEO (and still have enough left over to send all the radioactive waste into the sun) even when massively overbuilt like a tank.  What would it take for a QED fusion rocket system to do that, assuming the fusion rocket even has a thrust to weight ratio of above 1.0 (if it doesn't, then it can't even launch itself into orbit).  Because if such a fission rocket has a thrust to weight ratio of 10 to 1 but the QED fusion rocket is much less (say, only 1.5 to 1) then using the fission rocket to jumpstart space based solar power would be worth it.

                        There is no saving throw against stupid.

                        by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 06, 2012 at 08:12:57 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Have to include IPS (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          adigal

                          Ah ha, I found it

                          http://www.askmar.com/...

                          Manned missions out to 550 AU, to place a telescope that uses the sun as a gravitation lens for example. If I read it right 5 years one way.

                          Of course this paper is written by Robert Bussard, inventor of the Bussard ram scoop idea, to use interstellar hydrogen as fuel, Former Assistant Dir US Atomic Energy Commission. Bussard gave up nuclear fission rockets over 35 yrs ago.

                          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                          Some might consider Bussard the father of the closed cycle fission rocket.

                          http://www.askmar.com/...

                          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                          by Roger Fox on Sun May 06, 2012 at 10:40:05 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  If they could get the thrust to weight ratio of (0+ / 0-)

                            such an engine to be at least 5 to 1 then I agree, fission rockets would be obsolete.  Of course, that assumes that such a fusion rocket could operate in microgravity otherwise you would need a large chemical or small fission engine to provide 1G of thrust so you could start up the fusion engine.  As for space exploration, I would argue that we should focus our attention inward first in order to harness the incredible amounts of power available close (as in near Mercury) to the sun.  With hundred or even thousand terawatt power stations providing beamed power, even fusion reactors would be obsolete until you reach the outer solar system.

                            There is no saving throw against stupid.

                            by Throw The Bums Out on Mon May 07, 2012 at 02:13:55 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Skim the papers I linked to (0+ / 0-)

                            Robert Bussard loved fission rockets, but decided fusion was way better, see 2nd link.

                            Trust/mass for fusion is in the first link.

                            You;ll like it.

                             

                            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                            by Roger Fox on Mon May 07, 2012 at 06:38:03 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

      •  Right clean energy does not autosolve (0+ / 0-)

        the worlds ills

        But practical fusion gives us the solar system and its resources.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:40:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Dutch Empire built on peat burning (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, adigal, damfino

      I read an article on a site that discusses pre-industrial technology where the author made a clear distinction between kinetic energy and thermal energy.  Windmills and water wheels can turn machinery but they can't generate the heat you need to smelt ore, forge iron and steel, bake bricks, make glass, produce salt, etc.

      Never attribute to stupidity what can be adequately explained by malice; stupid people couldn't hurt us so effectively.

      by Visceral on Thu May 03, 2012 at 04:03:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wind powered bellows (0+ / 0-)

        The 2 largest manufactured products by % between 1500-1600 would have been wood working and weaving.

        Whale oil vs peat?

        Wind power cut wood, turned lathes and powered weaving looms. Thermal powered products were compatitively cottage industries, IMHO.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:48:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  the difference between (9+ / 0-)

    precipitous but growing decline versus falling off a cliff.  We've been on the first path for decades.  The only real question is how far to the bottom.   Still can't see it from here.

  •  The linked article (6+ / 0-)

    is stunning.  Pretty good take on what is happening from my view.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:10:50 PM PDT

  •  Easter Island = Apocalyptic collapse (9+ / 0-)

    The civilization of Easter Island collapsed when the locals consumed enough of the resources and there weren't enough left to provide a descent standard of living.

    Ever hear of Peak Oil?

    We are in the first stage of the collapse, but it won't be apocalyptic, it'll be like a growing and never ending depression.  Most people in the 1930's did just fine, it was the bottom half that had it rough.

    About the time we figure out that our standard of living is completely based on cheap fossil fuels and we're rapidly running out, we won't have enough time to transition to renewables without throwing a big bunch of people out of the middle class boat.  By the time we transition to ALT-E, Global Warming will be smacking around what's left of the economy like Mike Tyson going against Pee Wee Herman at Madison Square Gardens.

    It won't be a "collapse", it'll be like walking down a stairs into the abyss.

    Have a nice day :)

    •  Something odd with this sentence: (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adigal, G2geek, pollwatcher, Calamity Jean
      Most people in the 1930's did just fine, it was the bottom half that had it rough.
      Perhaps, half the people did fine and the other half not so much.

      But overall I agree with your comment, we are an energy based society and with out alternatives we are screwed. Greed over vision is what's killing us.

      •  it sounds like a deliberate irony. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nisi Prius, basquebob, adigal

        But the issue isn't about percentages, and decline & fall is measured in relative terms.

        Bottom line is the urgent need for a new economic system that does not depend on exponential growth.   And with that, the urgent need for "distributional equity" that ensures a dignified standard of living for all via labor as equity and radical compression of the scale of compensation.

        As it turns out, your fellow countrymen have what appears to be the best model for sustainable economics.  

        And for anyone who doesn't know what the last sentence refers to, keyword search "Mondragon" and read up.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:27:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  society collapses from the bottom (4+ / 0-)

        The people at the top keep on partying until the very end by squeezing everyone else harder and harder.  It's the people at the bottom who already have nothing more to be expropriated who die first; then the people above them become the new bottom.

        Never attribute to stupidity what can be adequately explained by malice; stupid people couldn't hurt us so effectively.

        by Visceral on Thu May 03, 2012 at 04:06:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  somewhere in between. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basquebob, Alice in Florida, LinSea

    Anybody who reads any history at all knows of the popularity of the "Zombie collapse" and end of the world/rapture scenarios.

    I suspect it will be just like it has always been throughout history, both recorded and non-recorded.

    Barring a true world-wide natural disaster, plague, or nuclear war, mankind will continue to slog along, putting one foot in front of the other, perfecting new tools to shape their environment, and responding to the pressures that come with expanding expectations of the populace. We've only been around for a few million years. Even during periods of "stagnation" in one part of the world, like the "dark ages" of Europe, other societies were doing just fine, coming into existence, growing, and eventually decaying, which left room for another society to rise to prominence.

    People say it is different now because we have a global economy. I say BS. We've had a global economy for thousands of years. all during that time, some portions of the world have had problems while other portions of the world have prospered at the same time. Yeah, we can get around faster now. Big whoop! That just means that people can move away from places undergoing hard times easier.

    The only reason that you read this stuff is because it "sells books". People are fascinated by the idea of doom and gloom. Look at how many cultures feature in their history a "big flood", with almost all people perishing in a violent "act of god(s)". Same old stuff since the beginning of the written word and I'm sure there were plenty of oral histories before that which recounted the same thing.

    More of the old "same old, same old".

    Will there always be pain and suffering? Yes.

    Is the "end of the world"/collapse coming? NO!

    OK. And now we begin the part of the show where we pull out individual words and phrases of the commenter to try to determine the "real" meaning of the comment.... let the games begin.

    by hillbrook green on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:32:28 PM PDT

    •  Not even wrong. keyword "climate." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nisi Prius, adigal

      The difference between all previous periods in human history and the present one, is a population that has overshot the carrying capacity of the planet in absolute terms, to the point where it is now having an impact on global ecosystems and climate.

      You need to stop reading zombie fiction and start reading science.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:30:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

        You need to remember that humans have been around for many hundreds of thousands of years. They have gone through much much colder times and probably hotter and drier times. Humans are presently living in much hotter climes than the predicted worse case scenario for most of the major population centers 100 years from now.

        The ancient Egyptians had some of their cities encroached upon by the sea. They managed to survive by just moving inland.

        I don't read zombie fiction. I am a scientist. I know that the climate is and will continue to be changing.

        That's not the point. The diary was about the possibility of total collapse.

        In my opinion, that's not going to happen for the reasons I outlined.

        I'm sure it is very exciting to dream about all the chaos that would happen from "total collapse", but total collapses don't happen. When it gets warmer people will move towards formerly cold areas.

        People adapt. The end of the world is not nigh.

        And of course, we definitely SHOULD work to curb the growth in CO2 gases, etc. I'm not a denier. Just a realist.

        OK. And now we begin the part of the show where we pull out individual words and phrases of the commenter to try to determine the "real" meaning of the comment.... let the games begin.

        by hillbrook green on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:23:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  local adaptation in a favorable global climate... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          adigal

          ... is a far different scenario than in an unfavorable global climate.

          And adaptation becomes progressively more difficult as the technological basis of civilization becomes progressively more complex, syntropic, and further from thermodynamic equilibrium, with greater and greater degrees of interconnectedness and interdependence.

          I dare you to come up with a plan for moving New Orleans inland, that will pass legal muster.  That's just one city out of a very large number that will not be viable in the expected conditions.  

          Know what an evolutionary bottleneck is?  

          One thing it is, is a hell of a lot different for migratory hunter/gatherer tribes than it is for an industrial civilization that's bristling with nuclear missiles.  

          And no, it is not exciting to dream about chaos.  I like turning on the faucet and getting clean drinking water, I like having a toilet that works and electricity and a communications grid, weekly garbage collection and yearly flu vaccines, etc. etc.  So do most of us "collapsniks" and "doomers."  You're a scientist and I'm an engineer.  I know what it takes to make infrastructure work, and I do not look forward to shit breaking down on all fronts.  To say it's a pain in the ass would be an understatement.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:46:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think collapse is exciting at all (0+ / 0-)

          I have kids in their late teens and early twenties. Their future scares the hell out of me, and I want to know what things I can do to insure their life and well-being if this economy doesn't recover.

          My dog is a member of Dogs Against Romney: He rides inside.

          by adigal on Fri May 04, 2012 at 07:47:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  OK (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            adigal

            I was not suggesting that you thought the idea of collapse was exciting. I'm talking about all the people who thrive on putting out dire predictions about the inevitable doom that we face. You just asked a perfectly reasonable question based on something you had read that was written by someone who thrives on predictions of doom and gloom - someone who probably either has read no history or has chosen to ignore the historical record.

            But as far as the present economic situation, you can certainly look to the past for reassurance.

            I am sure that people in the depths of the Great Depression also feared for their future and the future of their offspring. Things would have gotten a lot better a lot faster if there had been economists around like Paul Krugman and people around who would listen to economists like Paul Krugman. Rest assured that there have always been many, many protests by people infuriated by income and wealth inequality throughout our history - protests that were much more violent and widespread than the present occupy protests.

            Fortunately/unfortunately, in the early 30's there was a guy named Hitler in Germany (see Godwin's Law) who was bound and determined to cause a World War which, because it required massive deficit-spending by the government, brought about a economic recovery in the United States. That recovery fueled a world-wide recovery that turned into a boom within about two decades. Yes, two decades is a long time. But when governments allow the richest of the rich to hoard all the money and then you have a World War, it takes a while to recover. And within that recovery there were hiccups/recessions - the path to prosperity is never a smooth road.

            Granted, the former part of the equation (financial hard times) has happened again, but fortunately not the latter (a world-wide war). So things are gonna be not good for a while longer, but recovery will happen. There will also be suffering. Those  people who adapt to the changing circumstance will fare better than those who curl up into a ball because they thought that the end was near.

            Just for reference, since you seem to be mostly concerned about the Great Recession, here is a list of previous financial panics, recessions and depressions in just the United States:

            financial panics: 1797, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1896, 1907, 1910-1911 (haven't had any of those in quite a while - a good sign?)

            recessions: 1802-1804, 1812, 1822-23, 1825-26, 1828-1829, 1833-1834, 1836-1838, 1839-1843, 1845-1846, 1847-1848, 1853-1854, 186-1861, 1865-1867, 1869-1870, 1882-1885, 1887-1888, 1890-1891, 1899-1900, 1902-1904, 1910-1914, 1918-1919, 1920-1921, 1923-1924, 1926-1927, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960-1961, 1969-1970, 1973-1975, 1980, 1981-1982, 1990-1991, 2001, 2007-2009 (the present "Great Recession" - apparently judged to be over for three years)

            depressions: 1807, 1873-1879 (the "long depression"), 1929-1933 (the "Great Depression")

            We got through all of those. We will get through the present economic difficulty, especially if we can get a little "income redistribution", since the present levels of wealth inequality are the greatest since 1929.

            In short, these times are not pleasant to live through, but judging from the lists above, when has there been "pleasant" economic times to live through?

            And don't forget, these are just a list of financial problems for the United States ONLY; it does not include the thousands of financial problems that have existed in other countries and societies throughout recorded history.

            Should you be concerned? ALL good citizens should always be concerned about income and wealth inequality. All good citizens should be concerned about a changing climate. There will be drastic adjustments to be made in the coming decades and possibly centuries due to climate change. Some cities will be lost, but others will arise, leading to a lot of work for engineers (nod to G2Geek). Disruption is a time of suffering, but it is also a time of great opportunity - for those who do not curl up into a ball and wail about the changing times - and I am not referring to you, adigal, but rather to the teeth-gnashing blogger whose writings led to your doubts.

            In the words of the great Firesign Theatre:

            How do I like the future? Well, the future ain't here yet, man.
            But it will be here and it will not be all gloom and doom. Just more of the same. You know, good times and bad times.

            OK. And now we begin the part of the show where we pull out individual words and phrases of the commenter to try to determine the "real" meaning of the comment.... let the games begin.

            by hillbrook green on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:56:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Carrying capacity (0+ / 0-)

        is the Zombie Movie in the Net Flix catalog/bull in the china shop.

        Technological advances can help in many ways, energy-fusion, space based resources, etc.

        Unless Technology can double or triple the carrying capacity of Earth (very unlikely)..... its deep poo poo time.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:56:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah but, the Black Plauge killed half (0+ / 0-)

      the people on the planet, leading directly to the Renaissance, scientific enlightenment, and the first middle class.

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:59:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not Collapse But Decline, Going Back to the 1970's (10+ / 0-)

    But what was unfolding in 2008 was a genuine abrupt collapse with the potential to unleash mass starvation in the developed world over a period of weeks, absent much more radical government intervention than we got, had things been allowed to proceed X amount farther.

    We haven't had that kind of collapse and I'm not sure that's necessarily in the cards. Ownership understands the security consequences of famine.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:37:51 PM PDT

  •  We are playing with definitions here imho. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basquebob, Alice in Florida

    Collapse is usually rapid otherwise it's not called collapse. There were plenty examples of it (Soviet Union is probably one of the most recent). You could argue that we are entering slow decline. I disagree even with that but at least this line of argument makes sense.

    •  How do you measure or define (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      adigal, homo neurotic, G2geek

      decline. By many metrics we have been in decline for a while now in the U.S. It is true that by other metrics we have also been growing and advancing, but it all depends on POV and what aspects of the economy and society we are talking about. There are no simple answers, as usual. It also matters what the end game objective is for the observer/commenter. The speed of change is yet another important variable.

      •  the measure of collapse: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, peregrine kate, basquebob, adigal

        Regression in the mean-average quality of life of a given population per a set of standard metrics.  

        More coarsely (in the sense of less detailed data needed to reach a conclusion), by decline in the mean-average life expectancy of a given population.

        There is no question that the end of the Soviet Union precipitated a collapse in many of its territories, as the mean average life expectancy of males declined from about 72 to about 54.   (Those figures are accurate to +/- a couple of years.)   A decrease of life expectancy by more than a decade during a period of less than a decade is catastrophic by any measure.

        Right now the US is still on the early end of that, at least in terms of life expectancy.  Though if present trends continue, we will be headed in the same direction.  

        These are not matters of POV, they are objective variables that can be operationalized explicitly and tested.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:36:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  the speed of change: (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, basquebob, adigal

        "Decline" can be defined as a slow regression in standards of living and average lifespan, not accompanied by widespread mass civil unrest.

        "Collapse" can be defined as a rapid regression, accompanied by widespread mass civil unrest.

        A dirty little secret...

        In slow decline scenarios, people tend to behave selfishly, each attempting to insulate themselves from the prevailing trends by an increase in competition against others and a decrease in the ethical standards that limit competitive behavior.

        In collapse scenarios, which are immediately grasped as "emergencies," people tend to behave altruistically, with an increase in cooperation and a decrease in competition along clearly definable axes of measurement.  

        Behavior in natural disasters is a well known model for both of these phenomena, and there are large volumes of data on the subject.  

        ...and an example:

        Obama's "most unlikely" victory in 2008 was an example of a reaction to fear of collapse: a measurable number of racists voted for him because the bottom line is they were more terrified of "losing the green" than of "getting the black" (losing their life savings, compared to getting a black man as president).  

        Now that Obama has gotten the economy stabilized, the fear of catastrophic collapse has receded and we see the re-emergence of various forms of invidious competition.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:48:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Very interestings, and true, as far as I can see (0+ / 0-)

          People are getting more and more selfish. I can't tell you how many of my acquaintances are angry that my husband got disability from 9/11. Doesn't matter that he is a fireman who got sick from being down there for a  year.

          Another example is the anger at teachers for having insurance. WTF?? For having insurance?? Is this what we have come to?? Scary and sad.

          My dog is a member of Dogs Against Romney: He rides inside.

          by adigal on Fri May 04, 2012 at 07:44:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  We are in a declining civilization and have been (13+ / 0-)

    for decades for now.  The bubbles helped hide the decline as the 1% siphoned off increasing amounts of wealth. The pressure on the 99% from that inequality became greater and greater and when the last bubble burst we were at risk of a true collapse.

    It does not have to be this way, of course.  We have the ability to move away from non-renewable energy and build our future based on new technologies and a new way of interacting with our environment.  The problem is the entrenched interests do not have any motivation to change until it is too late, because that is one of the biggest problems with capitalism.  The government is supposed to be the one pushing forward but since it has been captured by those same interests, we find ourselves in a downward spiral that unravels faster or slower but unravels nevertheless.

    •  well put (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pgm 01, G2geek, adigal

      i'd add: re: "The pressure on the 99% from that inequality became greater and greater..."

      that pressure shows up (in among other ways) in the form of a labor productivity curve that's been trending steeply upward for many years, while wages have stayed flat (or, in real dollar terms, actually decreased) during that time.

      keep your eyes on the sky. put a dollar in the kitty. don't the moon look pretty. --becker&fagen

      by homo neurotic on Thu May 03, 2012 at 02:08:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We've been on the edge of it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, adigal

    for decades but have so far managed to not go over - or at least catch ourselves and pull back before totally losing our balance.  How long we can keep doing it is another question.  Both income disparity and global warming/extreme weather/climate change are "positive feedback" loops - if we can't break out of them, it will be inevitable and sooner rather than later.  If we can break out of them we have a chance - not a certainty - of "higher" societal survival.  But we will have some kind of society as long as there are people around to form it.  I'm just not sure I want to try and live in some of the possibilities.

  •  That would be great! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, adigal

    Because, obviously, it would mean that collapse isn't hugely different from what came before.  We should be so lucky!

    Romney '12: The Power of Crass Commands You!

    by Rich in PA on Thu May 03, 2012 at 02:27:02 PM PDT

  •  The fall of the Roman Empire was so episodic and (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lonely Texan, G2geek, Knarfc, adigal

    gradual that no scholar can put his/her finger on when exactly the tipping point occurred.

    They can all agree that it happened, but they cannot agree on exactly when it happened or why.

    Collapse, if we can call it that, is a slow process. It seems the U.S. has been on the decline for a while, with short episodes of success.  

    Ecologists have put forward recently some great hypothesis about human-ecological systems. They refer to it as resilience theory (See book by Gunderson and Holling 2003 called "Panarchy").

    It's a pretty fascinating read.

    "If you don't sin, then Jesus died for nothing!" (on a sign at a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans)

    by ranger995 on Thu May 03, 2012 at 02:44:12 PM PDT

  •  This diary just cost me $10 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, rimstalker, adigal

    Stand on Zanzibar [Kindle Edition]

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Thu May 03, 2012 at 02:51:03 PM PDT

    •  woot!, you beat me to it! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob, adigal

      Yes, the linked blog title "Hipcrime Vocab" refers to items in John Brunner's visionary dystopian novel Stand on Zanzibar.

      His writing style takes a little getting used to, because he flips back and forth between two or more story lines, interspersed with unrelated out-takes from "slices of life" in the world he's describing.  

      But he was a brilliant writer who accurately foresaw a number of trends.  He was also the original cyberpunk author though it was not called that in those days, with Shockwave Rider, and his eco-dystopia The Sheep Look Up is a classic as well.

      All very highly recommended and worth buying in hard copy so you can stick post-it notes on various pages or write stuff in the margins.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:54:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For those pinching pennies... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, Just Bob, adigal

      It's in the public domain.

      http://www.ebook3000.com/...

      I reread it a couple of years ago.  It's a terrific book.

    •  I think I am going to go look it up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Just Bob

      right now!! My own diary might cost me $10, too!!

      My dog is a member of Dogs Against Romney: He rides inside.

      by adigal on Fri May 04, 2012 at 07:41:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It can get much worse.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adigal

    and unfortunately, our wrong way lemming politicians, beholden to the corporations, or leading us off of a cliff.

  •  Of course the collapse has happened. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adigal

    The economy is properly understood as a subset of society, encompassing the material functions of life, the distribution of resources, exchange, etc.  Society is properly understood as a subset of the human elements within the larger environment that supports a given human population.

    The ecosystem is collapsing.  An extinction event has begun.  Climate change is almost certainly irreversible for the next thousand years or so (being optimistic).  It is impossible for civilization and its various economies not to follow.  It's a slow motion catastrophe, so most of us haven't really picked up on it yet, or mistakenly believe that we'll still have time for course correction after things get really bad.  We're like the stories of soldiers who were mortally wounded, but were so pumped up on adrenaline that they didn't notice and kept fighting, eventually bleeding out.  We're a civilization that has been shot and still thinks it can dodge the bullet just because it can't feel the blood tricking down its leg.  We may yet survive the wound, but we don't help our odds by continuing to pretend that grievous damage hasn't already been done.

    When (if) we pick ourselves up and recover from this, maybe next time we find ourselves in this position, we'll have our priorities straight.

  •  Social collapse is coincident with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nisi Prius, adigal

    increasing nepotism and concentration of rule. Just one or perhaps only a few families try to gain control of what was formerly mostly an elective political structure. Say for example, the son of a President becomes President, or the wife of a President almost becomes a President.

    In the case of Rome you may blame or focus your attention on the family of the Julio Claudians. And while we have yet seen a leader's horse appointed to the Senate, one might argue we have seen the election of several types of asses.

    H'mm. I'm not terribly into this, anymore.

    by Knarfc on Thu May 03, 2012 at 07:37:06 PM PDT

  •  Capitalism has flaws! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    adigal

    The collapse has begun, in a way.  Capitalism is falling...slowly.

    It started at WWII.  Socialism is here, but still working things out.  

    knuckle-dragging Neanderthals

    by Deadicated Marxist on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:10:44 PM PDT

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