Monday, July 23, 2012

stairsteps and waterfalls

STAIRSTEPS AND WATERFALLS
Greer, of the Archdruid Report and many doomer books, likes his theory of a stair step decline.  I prefer the waterfall theory.  We both think pretty highly of ourselves for having come up with the metaphors and are rigidly sticking to our guns, unwilling to yield to the others dogma.  Greer thinks survivalists are paranoid little weasels without a lick of sense and I think Greer is a Pollyanna over optimistic tree hugging fool.  We are both right, at least to degrees.  Today, yet another attempt by myself to discredit Greer and proclaim final victory for my side!
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I love Greer, don’t get me wrong.  He is a wonderful thinker and writer.  He just has a bit of a blind side on his collapse theory and I can’t stop making fun of it, being the hateful little crapbird that I am.  Greers thinking goes as such.  Collapse ensues, parts of the system fail, people adjust to the new normal, life goes on as new normal until the next failure and so on in a stair step fashion.  My theory is much sexier and allows heavily armed paranoids to stroke the plastic stocks of their poodle shooters in orgasmic delight.  I ain’t getting paid here to look good, but to help the uber-paranoid sleep easier at night knowing that funneling 50% of their net income into prep stocks wasn’t the most moronic move of their entire lives.  You all poo-paw my Peak Oil ranting’s but deep down you can’t wait until this bitch implodes and sinks.  My theory postulates that we’ve been in a very slow and long collapse.  Slow enough that it is the new normal.  Nothing fails catastrophically but everything just works less and less well.  Finally, the system is weak and fatigued from past continual patching and one or a series of events puts too much pressure on things and suddenly it all feeds on each other to collapse the system.
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Greer bases his theory on history.  The Roman Empire took three hundred years to collapse, the Mayan 150, etc.  I base mine on the fact that history was all about agricultural economies and since this one is the only Petroleum Economy I’d wager we have put ourselves into far more danger than normal.  And, in case you are wondering, it matters who is right.  If Greer is correct your world deteriorates into an idyllic organic farming reality.  Hard work, but it is honest and you eat better and sleep better.  In my reality, it is dog eat dog and everyone is a walking skeleton fighting each other weakly for too little food.  I can see where the majority of the unwashed proletariat side with Greer and shower him with book sales and conditioner for his outlandish ZZ Top beard.  His future looks a lot rosier.  Yet, while we are both technically correct in our views, I think the importance is in the details.  Just as in Peak Oil, the deniers are correct when they claim that we won’t run out of oil ( avoiding the high energy cost of extraction for what’s left ) but in the end we will all be dead with oil still in place, so with centuries long collapse.  Yes, it took ancient civilizations a long time to collapse.  But their ability to mine resources was limited to muscle of men and oxen.  It took much longer to strip away the excess energy.  And since it took a long time to mine excess wealth, population growth was both slower and didn’t exceed carrying capacity all that much. 
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Think of Rome.  She stole all the agriculture from subjected lands.  Hence, she gained the same population that said land lost.  It mostly balanced out.  When too many converging problems started the empire crumbling, the excess population for one small core area was decimated.   It all took place in slow motion.  Oh, the cities welfare mobs quickly died off when the grain shipments stopped, but when the cities rule stopped, the still productive farmland that had been abandoned due to taxation could be placed under cultivation again ( there was still production lose due to over planting, but the smaller rural population could survive on that- the land couldn’t support all the idle town population that it once had ).  In short, other than urban mass die-off life in the boonies could, after a fashion given lawlessness ( quickly extinguished by the local lead criminal crowning himself King Shit and taking a cut of the crop for protection services ) pretty much go on as semi-normal.  So, in the Greer universe, the stair step decline.
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Bison’s Universe is a far less forgiving bitch.  I contend that the nature of collapse has been altered by the magic elixir of petroleum.  Oil has allowed the surplus population to very quickly multiply exponentially.   It is as if Europe discovered a new continent twenty times bigger than the New World.  There was so much free energy available that population exploded many times the levels ever seen.  And every swinging dingus out there already birthed and ever to be birthed under current circumstances is fed exclusively with 100% petroleum inputs ( even organic ).  And, if that wasn’t bad enough, because given enough time we at least could ( although we aren’t ) transition back to local and organic and sustainable, the problem is that most of us live in the equivalent of Rome.  Food must be shipped to almost all of us.  Even the poor indigenous Third World populations can’t escape, the centuries long paradigm being luxury export crops being grown and then shipped out, basic foodstuffs imported back in to feed the poor schlubs.  There is no corresponding population that can survive the fall of imported food.  We all live on it and shall all be affected by shrinking petroleum.  Your only hope is to believe in long slow collapse or abiotic oil.  Good luck with both.
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7 comments:

  1. What sucks is you will both be right. We'll hit a little peak oil plunge. Eat all our wheat then fall down the stairs screaming "Curse you Lord Bison" stand up and fall down an even worse "Climatic collapse" waterfall. About the time we get hit with human produced plagues (Check out Russel1200's chicken plague today) and nuclear war....Have a nice day.

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  2. Depending on whose math you believe, we have somewhere around 4 to 20 times more people on the planet than the planet can sustain without our short term fossil fuel binge. I don't see how you get from here to there (sustainable living) without some really big ugliness. Waterfall, crash, great disturbance, massive die off... don't care much what you call it, but I don't think that many people will go quietly and peacefully, unless there is a big pandemic or something like that. I'm still opting for a decent hidey hole to remain in my overall plan for the future.

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  3. All this worry over food people forget soylent green is not off the table.:]

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  4. No review of "valley of dying stars"?

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  5. Who would win in a fight between Lord Bison's hair, Greer's beard and Tom Selleck's mustache?

    My money is on Bison's silky locks of DOOM!

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  6. 744-you wonderful bastard!!!!! I can't belive there was a sequal to Dry Grass and no one else told me. I'm in friggin heavan! I've put this one on the Wish List at Amazon and shall order at first oppertunity. Come on folks, throw me a bone here once in awhile. I don't get much Interweb time, keep me updated on important stuff like this.

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  7. Actual title, "In the Valley of Dying Stars"

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