(By the Doomstead Diner)
Due to my High & Mighty position as a Global Collapse Pundit, I am often asked the question of when precisely will Collapse arrive? The people who ask me this question all come from 1st World countries. They are also all reasonably well off with a computer, an internet connection, running water and enough food to eat. While a few of us are relatively poor retirees, even none of us wants for the basics as of yet. The Diner doesn’t get many readers from the underclass even here in Amerika, much less from the Global Underclass in places like Nigeria, Somalia,Sudan and Yemen.
Read also: The Dimming Bulb, The Dimming Bulb 2
The fact is, that for more than half the world population, Collapse is in full swing and well underway. Two key bellweathers of where collapse is now are the areas of Electricity and Food.
In his seminal 1996 Paper The Olduvai Theory: Sliding Towards a Post-Industrial Stone Age, Richard Duncan mapped out the trajectory of where we would be as the years passed and fossil fuels became more difficult and expensive to mine up. Besides powering all our cars and trucks for Happy Motoring and Just-in-Time delivery, the main thing our 1st World lifestyle requires is Electricity, and lots of it on demand, 24/7. Although electricity can be produced in some “renewable” ways that don’t depend on a lot of fossil fuel energy at least directly, most of the global supply of electric power comes from Coal and Natural Gas. Of the two, NG (NatGas) is slightly cleaner, but either way when you burn them, CO2 goes up in the atmosphere. This of course is a problem climatically, but you have an even bigger problem socially and politically if you aren’t burning them. Everything in the society as it has been constructed since Edison invented the Light Bulb in 1879 has depended on electricity to function.
Now, if all the toys like lights, refrigerators big screen TVs etc had been kept to just a few small countries and the rest of the world lived a simple subsistence farming lifestyle, the lucky few with the toys probably could have kept the juice flowing a lot longer. Unfortunately however, once exposed to all the great toys, EVERYBODY wanted them. The industrialists also salivated over all the profit to be made selling the toys to everyone. So, everybody everywhere needed a grid, which the industrialists and their associated banksters extended Credit for “backward” Nation-States all over the globe to build their own power plants and string their own wires. Now everybody in the country could have a lightbulb to see by and a fridge to keep the food cold. More than that, the electricity also went to power water pumping stations and sewage treatment plants, so you could pack the Big Shities with even more people who use still more electricity.
This went on all over the globe, today there isn’t a major city or even a medium size town anywhere on the globe that isn’t wired for electricity, although many places that are now no longer have enough money to keep the juice flowing.
Where is the electricity going off first? Obviously, in the poorest and most war torn countries across the Middle East and Africa. These days, from Egypt to Tunisia, if they get 2 hours of electricity a day they are doing good.
Public fury over rampant outages has sparked protests. In January, in one of the largest demonstrations since Hamas took control in Gaza a decade ago, ten thousand Palestinians, angered by the lack of power during a frigid winter, hurled stones and set tires ablaze outside the electricity company. Iraq has the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, but, during the past two years, repeated anti-government demonstrations have erupted over blackouts that are rarely announced in advance and are of indefinite duration. It’s one issue that unites fractious Sunnis in the west, Shiites in the arid south, and Kurds in the mountainous north. In the midst of Yemen’s complex war, hundreds dared to take to the streets of Aden in February to protest prolonged outages. In Syria, supporters of President Bashar al-Assad in Latakia, the dynasty’s main stronghold, who had remained loyal for six years of civil war, drew the line over electricity. They staged a protest in January over a cutback to only one hour of power a day.
Over the past eight months, I’ve been struck by people talking less about the prospects of peace, the dangers of ISIS, or President Trump’s intentions in the Middle East than their own exhaustion from the trials of daily life. Families recounted groggily getting up in the middle of the night when power abruptly comes on in order to do laundry, carry out business transactions on computers, charge phones, or just bathe and flush toilets, until electricity, just as unpredictably, goes off again. Some families have stopped taking elevators; their terrified children have been stuck too often between floors. Students complained of freezing classrooms in winter, trying to study or write papers without computers, and reading at night by candlelight. The challenges will soon increase with the demands for power—and air-conditioning—surge, as summer temperatures reach a hundred and twenty-five degrees.
The reasons for these outages vary. With the exception of the Gulf states, infrastructure is old or inadequate in many of the twenty-three Arab countries. The region’s disparate wars, past and present, have damaged or destroyed electrical grids. Some governments, even in Iraq, can’t afford the cost of fueling plants around the clock. Epic corruption has compounded physical challenges. Politicians have delayed or prevented solutions if their cronies don’t get contracts to fuel, maintain, or build power plants.
Now you’ll note that at the end of the third paragraph there, the journalist implies that a big part of the problem is “political corruption”, but it’s really not. It’s simply a lack of money. These countries at one time were all Oil Exporters, although not on the scale of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. As their own supplies of oil have depleted they have become oil importers, except they neither have a sufficient mercantilist model running to bring in enough FOREX to buy oil, and they can’t get credit from the international banking cartel to keep buying. 3rd World countries are being cut off from the Credit Lifeline, unlike the core countries at the center of credit creation like Britain, Germany and the FSoA. All these 1st World countries are in just as bad fiscal deficit as the MENA countries, the only difference is they still can get credit and run the deficits even higher. This works until it doesn’t anymore.
Beyond the credit issue is the War problem. As the countries run out of money, more people become unemployed, biznesses go bankrupt, tax collection drops off the map and goobermint employees are laid off too. It’s the classic deflationary spiral which printing more money doesn’t solve, since the notes become increasingly worthless. For them to be worth anything in FOREX, somebody has to buy their Goobermint Bonds, and that is precisely what is not happening. So as the society becomes increasingly impoverished, it descends into internecine warfare between factions trying to hold on to or increase their share of the ever shrinking pie.
The warfare ongoing in these nations has knock on effects for the 1st World Nations still trying to extract energy from some of these places. To keep the oil flowing outward, they have to run very expensive military operations to at least maintain enough order that oil pipelines aren’t sabotaged on a daily basis. The cost of the operations keeps going up, but the amount of money they can charge the customers for the oil inside their own countries does not keep going up. Right now they have hit a ceiling around $50/bbl for what they can charge for the oil, and for the most part this is not a profit making price. So all the corporations involved in Extraction & Production these days are surviving on further extensions of credit from the TBTF banks. This also is a paradigm that can’t last.
The other major problem now surfacing is the Food Distribution problem, and again this is hitting the African countries first and hardest. It’s a combination problem of climate change, population overshoot and the warfare which results from those issues.
Currently, the UN lists 4 countries in extreme danger of famine in the coming year, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. They estimate currently there are 20M people at extreme risk, and I would bet the numbers are a good deal higher than that.
‘Biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II’ about to engulf 20 million people, UN says, as governments only donate 10 per cent of funds needed for essential aid.
The world is facing a humanitarian crisis bigger than any in living memory, the UN has said, as four countries teeter on the brink of famine.
Twenty million people are at risk of starvation and facing water shortages in Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, while parts of South Sudan are already officially suffering from famine.
While the UN said in February that at least $4.4 billion (£3.5 bn) was needed by the end of March to avert a hunger catastrophe across the four nations, the end of the month is fast approaching, and only 10 per cent of the necessary funds have been received from donor governments so far.
It doesn’t look too promising that the UN will be able to raise the $4B they say is necessary to feed all those hungry mouths, and none of the 1st World countries is too predisposed to handing out food aid when they all currently have problems with their own social welfare programs for food distribution. Here in the FSoA, there are currently around 45M people on SNAP Cards at a current cost around $71B. The Repugnants will no doubt try to cut this number in order to better fund the Pentagon, but they are not likely to send more money to Somalia.
Far as compassion for all the starving people globally goes in the general population, this also appears to be decreasing, although I don’t have statistics to back that up. It is just a general sense I get as I read the collapse blogosphere, in the commentariats generally. The general attitude is, “It’s their own fault for being so stupid and not using Birth Control. If they were never born, they wouldn’t have to die of starvation.” Since they are mostly Black Africans currently starving, this is another reason a large swath of the white population here doesn’t care much about the problem.
There are all sorts of social and economic reasons why this problem spiraled out of control, having mainly to do with the production of cheap food through Industrial Agriculture and Endless Greed centered on the idea of Endless Growth, which is not possible on a Finite Planet.
More places on Earth were wired up with each passing year, and more people were bred up with each passing year. The dependency on fossil fuels to keep this supposedly endless cycle of growth going became ever greater each year, all while this resource was being depleted more each year. Eventually, an inflection point had to be hit, and we have hit it.
The thing is, for the relatively comfortable readers of the Doomstead Diner in the 1st World BAU seems to be continuing onward, even if you are a bit poorer than you were last year. 24/7 electricity is still available from the grid with only occasional interruptions. Gas is still available at the pump, and if you are employed you probably can afford to buy it, although you need to be more careful about how much you drive around unless you are a 1%er. The Rich are still lining up to buy EVs from Elon Musk, even though having a grid to support all electric transportation is out of the question. The current grid can’t be maintained, and upgrading to handle that much throughput would take much thicker cables all across the network. People carry on though as though this will all go on forever and Scientists & Engineers will solve all the problems with some magical new device. IOW, they believe in Skittle Shitting Unicorns.
That’s not going to happen though, so you’re back to the question of how long will it take your neighborhood in the UK or Germany or the FSoA to look like say Egypt today? Well, if you go back in time a decade to Egypt in 2007, things were still looking pretty Peachy over there, especially in Tourist Traps like Cairo. Terrorism wasn’t too huge a problem and Da Goobermint of Hoser Mubarak appeared stable. A decade later today, Egypt is basically a failed state only doing marginally better than places like Somalia and Sudan. The only reason they’re doing as well as they are is because they are in an important strategic location on the Suez Canal and as such get support from the FSoA military.
So a good WAG here for how long it will take for the Collapse Level in 1st World countries to reach the level Egypt is at today is about a decade. It could be a little shorter, it could be longer. By then of course, Egypt will be in even WORSE shape, and who might still be left alive in Somalia is an open question. Highly unlikely to be very many people though. Over the next decade, the famines will spread and people will die, in numbers far exceeding the 20M to occur over the next year. After a while, it’s unlikely we will get much newz about this, and people here won’t care much about what they do hear. They will have their own problems.
The original article can be found at the Doomstead Diner here: Dimming Bulb 3: Collapse Has ARRIVED!
A very interesting article by the folks at Doomstead Diner. While their forecast of collapse could be off a few years, it seems as if they are looking at the same time-frame the Hills Group and Louis Arnoux are projecting for the Thermodynamic oil collapse.
Lastly, people need to realize COLLAPSE does not take place in a day, week, month or year. It takes place over a period of time. The folks at Doomstead Diner are making the case that it has ARRIVED. It is just taking time to reach the more affluent countries will good printing presses.
So… it is going to be interesting to see how things unfold over the next 5-10 years.
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