The end of the Middle East

14 03 2017

I have to say, I am seriously chuffed that Nafeez Ahmed is calling it, as I have been for years now…. In a lengthy but well worth reading article in the Middle East Eye, Nafeez explains the convoluted reasons why we have the current turmoil in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. He doesn’t mention Egypt – yet – but to be fair, the article’s focus in on Mosul and the implications of the disaster unfolding there……

It never ceases to amaze me how Egypt has managed to stay off the news radar. Maybe the populace is too starved to revolt again….

After oil, rice and medicines, sugar has run out in Egypt, as the country has announced a devaluation of 48% of its currency. In Egypt, about 68 million of the total 92 million people receive food subsidized by the State through small consumer stores run by the Ministry of supply and internal trade. After shortages of oil, rice and milk, and even medicines, now sugar scarcity has hit the country. Nearly three quarters of the population completely rely on the government stores for their basic needs.

Egypt produces 2 million tons of sugar a year but has to import 3 million to face domestic demand. However imports have become too expensive.  The country is expected to receive a loan of 12 billion dollars (11 billion euros) from the International monetary Fund (IMF) to tackle its food scarcity. The price for sugar in supermarkets and black markets are skyrocketing as well, with a kilogram costing around 15 pounds. If available, one could get sugar from subsidized government stores for 0.50 euros per kilo.

Nafeez goes into great and interesting detail re the dismaying shenanigans going on in nafeezIraq and Syria at the moment. I’ll leave it to you to go through what he wrote on the Middle East Eye site on those issues, but what struck me as relevant to what this blog is about is how well they correlate with my own thoughts here…..:

Among my findings is that IS was born in the crucible of a long-term process of ecological crisis. Iraq and Syria are both experiencing worsening water scarcity. A string of scientific studies has shown that a decade-long drought cycle in Syria, dramatically intensified by climate change, caused hundreds and thousands of mostly Sunni farmers in the south to lose their livelihoods as crops failed. They moved into the coastal cities, and the capital, dominated by Assad’s Alawite clan. 

Meanwhile, Syrian state revenues were in terminal decline because the country’s conventional oil production peaked in 1996. Net oil exports gradually declined, and with them so did the clout of the Syrian treasury. In the years before the 2011 uprising, Assad slashed domestic subsidies for food and fuel.

While Iraqi oil production has much better prospects, since 2001 production levels have consistently remained well below even the lower-range projections of the industry, mostly because of geopolitical and economic complications. This weakened economic growth, and consequently, weakened the state’s capacity to meet the needs of ordinary Iraqis.

Drought conditions in both Iraq and Syria became entrenched, exacerbating agricultural failures and eroding the living standards of farmers. Sectarian tensions simmered. Globally, a series of climate disasters in major food basket regions drove global price spikes. The combination made life economically intolerable for large swathes of the Iraqi and Syrian populations.

Outside powers – the US, Russia, the Gulf states, Turkey and Iran – all saw the escalating Syrian crisis as a potential opportunity for themselves. As the ensuing Syrian uprising erupted into a full-blown clash between the Assad regime and the people, the interference of these powers radicalised the conflict, hijacked Sunni and Shia groups on the ground, and accelerated the de-facto collapse of Syria as we once knew it.  

AND…..

Meanwhile, across the porous border in Iraq, drought conditions were also worsening. As I write in Failing States, Collapsing Systems, there has been a surprising correlation between the rapid territorial expansion of IS, and the exacerbation of local drought conditions. And these conditions of deepening water scarcity are projected to intensify in coming years and decades.

An Iraqi man walks past a canoe siting on dry, cracked earth in the Chibayish marshes near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah in 2015 (AFP)

The discernable pattern here forms the basis of my model: biophysical processes generate interconnected environmental, energy, economic and food crises – what I call earth system disruption (ESD). ESD, in turn, undermines the capacity of regional states like Iraq and Syria to deliver basic goods and services to their populations. I call this human system destabilisation (HSD).

As states like Iraq and Syria begin to fail as HSD accelerates, those responding – whether they be the Iraqi and Syrian governments, outside powers, militant groups or civil society actors – don’t understand that the breakdowns happening at the levels of state and infrastructure are being driven by deeper systemic ESD processes. Instead, the focus is always on the symptom: and therefore the reaction almost always fails entirely to even begin to address earth system sisruption.

So Bashar al-Assad, rather than recognising the uprising against his regime as a signifier of a deeper systemic shift – symptomatic of a point-of-no-return driven by bigger environmental and energy crises – chose to crackdown on his narrow conception of the problem: angry people.

Even more importantly, Nafeez also agrees with my predictions regarding Saudi Arabia…

The Gulf states are next in line. Collectively, the major oil producers might have far less oil than they claim on their books. Oil analysts at Lux Research estimate that OPEC oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 70 percent. The upshot is that major producers like Saudi Arabia could begin facing serious challenges in sustaining the high levels of production they are used to within the next decade.

Another clear example of exaggeration is in natural gas reserves. Griffiths argues that “resource abundance is not equivalent to an abundance of exploitable energy”.

While the region holds substantial amounts of natural gas, underinvestment due to subsidies, unattractive investment terms, and “challenging extraction conditions” have meant that Middle East producers are “not only unable to monetise their reserves for export, but more fundamentally unable to utilise their reserves to meet domestic energy demands”. 

Starting to sound familiar..? We are doing the exact same thing here in Australia…. It’s becoming ever more clear that Limits to Growth equates to scraping the bottom of the barrel, and the scraping sounds are getting louder by the day.

And oil depletion is only one dimension of the ESD processes at stake. The other is the environmental consequence of exploiting oil.

Over the next three decades, even if climate change is stabilised at an average rise of 2 degrees Celsius, the Max Planck Institute forecasts that the Middle East and North Africa will still face prolonged heatwaves and dust storms that could render much of the region “uninhabitable”. These processes could destroy much of the region’s agricultural potential.

Nafeez finishes with a somewhat hopeful few paragraphs.

Broken models

While some of these climate processes are locked in, their impacts on human systems are not. The old order in the Middle East is, unmistakably, breaking down. It will never return.

But it is not – yet – too late for East and West to see what is actually happening and act now to transition into the inevitable future after fossil fuels.

The battle for Mosul cannot defeat the insurgency, because it is part of a process of human system destabilisation. That process offers no fundamental way of addressing the processes of earth system disruption chipping away at the ground beneath our feet.

The only way to respond meaningfully is to begin to see the crisis for what it is, to look beyond the dynamics of the symptoms of the crisis – the sectarianism, the insurgency, the fighting – and to address the deeper issues. That requires thinking about the world differently, reorienting our mental models of security and prosperity in a way that captures the way human societies are embedded in environmental systems – and responding accordingly.

At that point, perhaps, we might realise that we’re fighting the wrong war, and that as a result, no one is capable of winning.

The way the current crop of morons in charge is behaving, I feel far less hopeful that someone will see the light. There aren’t even worthwhile alternatives to vote for at the moment…  If anything, they are all getting worse at ‘leading the world’ (I of course use the term loosely..), not better. Nor is the media helping, focusing on politics rather than the biophysical issues discussed here.

 





Forget 1984…. 2020 is the apocalypse year

26 01 2017

The crescendo of news pointing to 2020 as the date to watch is growing apace…. it won’t be the year collapse happens, because collapse is a process, not an event; but it will definitely be the year this process starts to become obvious. To people other than followers of this blog at least…!

RIYADH, Saudi ArabiaAccording to the International Monetary Fund, Saudi Arabia’s economy is in danger of collapse as oil prices grow increasingly unstable.

The warning appeared in the “Regional Economic Outlook” for the Middle East and Central Asia published on Oct. 15, an annual report published by IMF economists. Adam Leyland, writing on Oct. 23 for The Independent, explained the grim prognosis for Saudi’s economy, which is almost completely dependent on fossil fuels:

“[T]he IMF said that the kingdom will suffer a negative 21.6 per cent ‘General Government Overall Fiscal Balance’ in 2015 and a 19.4 per cent negative balance in 2016, a massive increase from only -3.4 per cent in 2014.

Saudi Arabia currently has $654.5 billion in foreign reserves, but the cash is disappearing quickly.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency has withdrawn $70 billion in funds managed by overseas financial institutions, and has lost almost $73 billion since oil prices slumped, according to Al-Jazeera. Saudi Arabia generates 90 per cent of its income from oil.”

AND……..

Tax-free living will soon be a thing of the past for Saudis after its cabinet on Monday approved an IMF-backed value-added tax to be imposed across the Gulf following an oil slump.

A 5% levy will apply to certain goods following an agreement with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council in June last year.

Residents of the energy-rich region had long enjoyed a tax-free and heavily subsidised existence but the collapse in crude prices since 2014 sparked cutbacks and a search for new revenue.

Author Dr Nafeez Ahmed, a Visiting Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute, is making even more waves today, saying………:

“Syria and Yemen demonstrate how climate and energy crises work together to undermine state power and fuel terrorism. 

“Climate-induced droughts ravage agriculture, swell the ranks of the unemployed and destroy livelihoods.  Domestic oil depletion undercuts state revenues, weakening the capacity to sustain domestic subsidies for fuel and food.  As the state is unable to cope with the needs of an increasingly impoverished population, this leads to civil unrest and possibly radicalisation and terrorism. 

“These underlying processes are not isolated to Syria and Yemen.  Without a change of course, the danger is that eventually they will occur inside the US and Europe.”

Failing States, Collapsing Systems: BioPhysical Triggers of Political Violence, authored by Dr Nafeez Ahmed, published by Springer Briefs in Energy includes the following key points…:
  • Global net energy decline is the underlying cause of the decline in the rate of global economic growth.  In the short term, slow or absent growth in Europe and the US is complicit in voter discontent and the success of anti-establishment politicians. 
  • Europe is now a post-peak oil society, with its domestic oil production declining every year since 1999 by 6%.  Shale oil and gas is unlikely to offset this decline. 
  • Europe’s main sources of oil imports are in decline. Former Soviet Union producers, their production already in the negative, are likely to terminate exports by 2030.  Russia’s oil production is plateauing and likely to decline after 2030 at the latest. 
  • In the US, conventional oil has already peaked and is in sharp decline.  The shortfall is being made up by unconventional sources such as tight oil and shale gas, which are likely to peak by 2025. California will continue to experience extensive drought over the coming decades, permanently damaging US agriculture.
  • Between 2020 and 2035, the US and Mexico could experience unprecedented military tensions as the latter rapidly runs down its conventional oil reserves, which peaked in 2006. By 2020, its exports will revert to zero, decimating Mexican state revenues and potentially provoking state failure shortly thereafter.
  • After 2025, Iraq is unlikely to survive as a single state.  The country is experiencing worsening water scarcity, fueling an ongoing agricultural crisis, while its oil production is plateauing due to a combination of mounting costs of production and geopolitical factors.
  • Saudi Arabia will face a ‘perfect storm’ of energy, food and economic shocks most likely before 2030, and certainly within the next 20 years.
  • Egypt will begin to experience further outbreaks of civil unrest leading to escalating state failure after 2021.  Egypt will likely become a fully failed state after 2037.
  • India’s hopes to become a major economic player will falter due to looming food, water and energy crises.  India’s maximum potential domestic renewable energy capacity is insufficient to meet projected demand growth.
  • China’s total oil production is likely to peak in 2020.  Its rate of economic growth is expected to fall continuously in coming decades, while climate change will damage its domestic agriculture, forcing it to rely increasingly on expensive imports by 2022.

I wish Julian Simon could read this….. it seems all our limits to growth chickens are coming home to roost, and very soon now.





Water in the world we want

26 05 2015

Mark Cochrane

Mark Cochrane

Another guest post by Mark Cochrane……

As everyone who watches the news about California, Lakes Mead and Powell in the American Southwest or the situation in Sao Paulo, Brazil can see, water availability is a big deal for both agriculture and human populations. However, much more of the world faces chronic water stress but those areas simply don’t get the press that the aforementioned areas do. We fool ourselves by thinking that ideology drives conflicts and wars when resource scarcity is generally at the root of matters. Water scarcity fueled the Syrian conflict long before the bullets started flying and it is making the Middle East a powder keg.

The UN defines a region as water stressed if the amount of renewable fresh water available per person per year is below 1,700 cubic metres. Below 1,000, the region is defined as experiencing water scarcity, and below 500 amounts to “absolute water scarcity”.

According to the AWWA study, countries already experiencing water stress or far worse include Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Yemen, India, China, and parts of the United States.

Many, though not all, of these countries are experiencing protracted conflicts or civil unrest. (source)

Unrest doesn’t have to be directly related to an apparent lack of water. Egypt’s 2011 uprisings were largely a function of spiking grain prices caused by droughts in grain-exporting countries like Australia. Importing grain is a cheaper and lighter way of effectively importing water to places that don’t have enough water to grow their own crops. Egypt has another tension brewing over water with Ethiopia which is currently working to dam the Nile above where Egypt has already dammed the river.

As Egypt’s population is forecast to double to 150 million by 2050, this could lead to “tremendous tension”

River Nile Dam Site

River Nile Dam Site

between Ethiopia and Egypt over access to the Nile, especially since Ethiopia’s dam would reduce the capacity of Egypt’s hydroelectric plant at Aswan by 40%.

And the problems are not only in Egypt.

Syria, Iraq and Yemen are currently subjected to ongoing US military operations under the rubric of fighting Islamist terrorists, yet the new AWWA study suggests that the rise of Muslim extremist movements has been indirectly fuelled by regional water crises.

————

As US meteorologist Eric Holthaus points out, the rapid rise of the “Islamic State” (IS) last year coincided with a period of unprecedented heat in Iraq, recognised as being the warmest on record to date, from March to May 2014.

In addition to the Middle East, hotspots for water-scarcity-fuelled regional conflicts include the Sahel, Central Asia, and the coastal zones of East, South and Southeast Asia. Within as little as five years, 30 million people could be displaced inside China due to water stress. The American west and Mexico could also get ugly as things get drier.

Map_of_Water_Stress_Regions_by_WatershedThe UN defines a region as water stressed if the amount of renewable fresh water available per person per year is below 1,700 cubic metres. Below 1,000, the region is defined as experiencing water scarcity, and below 500 amounts to “absolute water scarcity”.

According to the AWWA study, countries already experiencing water stress or far worse include Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Syria, Yemen, India, China, and parts of the United States.

Many, though not all, of these countries are experiencing protracted conflicts or civil unrest.

– See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/new-age-water-wars-portends-bleak-f…

The UN recently released a new study “Water in the world we want” that looks at the stark situation we are facing in the near future if we do not get our global act together to invest in decent water supplies and sanitation. While trying to be generally upbeat about the possibilities we have for improving global water infrastructure they don’t say that it will be cheap. It doesn’t help that corruption currently eats up 30% of expenditures in this area.

The estimated global cost to achieve post-2015 sustainable development goals in water and sanitation development, maintenance and replacement is US $1.25 trillion to $2.25 trillion per year for 20 years, a doubling or tripling of current spending translating into 1.8 to 2.5 percent of global GDP.

The resulting benefits would be commensurately large, however – a minimum of $3.11 trillion per year, not counting health care savings and valuable ecosystem service enhancements.

In this age of revolving the world on quarterly profit reports, who can be bothered to invest in the future of clean water? The report states that the current ‘deficit’ in the world’s maintenance and replacement of water and wastewater infrastructure is growing by $200 million a year. In the ‘richest’ country in the world (guess who) we are disgracefully $1 trillion behind on where we should be to have first world water systems! Do you think that might become an issue at some point?

Given accelerating Earth system changes and the growing threat of hydro-climatic disruption, corruption undermining water-related improvements threatens the stability and very existence of some nation states, which in turn affects all other countries, the report says.

Is that a clear enough statement to spur some sort of action or is it still too vague? How about this..

Within 10 years, researchers predict 48 countries – 25% of all nations on Earth with an expected combined population of 2.9 billion – will be classified “water-scarce” (1,000 to 1,700 cubic meters of water per capita per year) or “water-stressed” (1,000 cubic meters or less).

And by 2030, expect overall global demand for freshwater to exceed supply by 40%, with the most acute problems in warmer, low-resource nations with young, fast-growing populations, according to the report.

What is that about the next 20 years being totally unlike the last 20 years? Oil is going to continue to be a major issue in the global economy but water scarcity is what can really move the masses to riot or simply relocate. This is not a surprise to those in the halls of power. They’ve been preparing for years.

In May 2010, the U.S. National Security Strategy included global climate change as a security issue: “The danger from climate change is real, urgent, and severe. The change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources, new suffering from drought and famine, catastrophic natural disasters, and the degradation of land across the globe.”

In case you think that this is a ‘future’ problem just look at what the humanitarians in the EU are getting ready to do to stem their human tide of migrants (source).

The European Union has drawn up plans for military attacks in Libya to try to curb the influx of migrants across the Mediterranean by targeting the trafficking networks. It is to launch a bid on Monday to secure a UN mandate for armed action in Libya’s territorial waters.

Britain is drafting the UN security council resolution that would authorise the mission, said senior officials in Brussels. It would come under Italian command, have the participation of around 10 EU countries, including Britain, France, Spain, and Italy, and could also drag in Nato although there are no plans for initial alliance involvement.

And get this:

Following a visit to Beijing last week, Mogherini believes the Chinese will not block the mission at the security council. Her staff are also confident that Russia can be persuaded against wielding its security council veto despite the intense animosity between Moscow and the west over the Ukraine conflict.

What could possibly put the EU, NATO, China and Russia all on the same side other than a problem that they all expect to face? I wonder what chips were traded to get those assurances? The borders are closing fast and it doesn’t sounds like anyone is planning on increasing aid for water infrastructure outside their borders quite yet.

Drink up! It’s only water after all.





Solidarity, not Austerity

27 01 2015

https://damnthematrix.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/91395-tae2b25402betr.png?w=199&h=149

Raul and Nicole

I suppose it’s fair to assume that most of my readers already follow Nicole Foss’ old website, the Automatic Earth, which is now largely operated by as I can’t recall when was the last time Nicole wrote anything there, busy as she is speaking all over the place and moving to NZ etc….  If you’ve already read this, my apologies….. but Ilargi has written some sublime posts on the unfolding European catastrophe of late, and now that SYRIZA has in fact been elected, this gem had to be reproduced, because I see the current revolution in Greece as the very beginning of the end for the oligarchs, who apparently are even running scared about their future now!  Enjoy……

In what universe is it a good thing to have over half of the young people in entire countries without work, without prospects, without a future? And then when they stand up and complain, threaten them with worse? How can that possibly be the best we can do? And how much worse would you like to make it? If a flood of suicides and miscarriages, plummeting birth rates and doctors turning tricks is not bad enough yet, what would be?

If you live in Germany or Finland, and it were indeed true that maintaining your present lifestyle depends on squeezing the population of Greece into utter misery, what would your response be? F##k ‘em? You know what, even if that were so, your nations have entered into a union with Greece (and Spain, and Portugal et al), and that means you can’t only reap the riches on your side and leave them with the bitter fruit. That would make that union pointless, even toxic. You understand that, right?

Greece is still an utterly corrupt country. Brussels knows this, but it has kept supporting a government that supports the corrupt elite, tried to steer the Greeks away from voting SYRIZA. Why? How much does Brussels like corrupt elites, exactly? The EU, and its richer member nations, want Greece to cut even more, given the suicides, miscarriages, plummeting birth rates and doctors turning tricks. How blind is that? Again, how much worse does it have to get?

Does the EU have any moral values at all? And if not, why are you, if you live in the EU, part of it? Because you don’t have any, either? And if you do, where’s your voice? There are people suffering and dying who are part of a union that you are part of. That makes you an accomplice. You can’t hide from that just because your media choose to ignore your reality from you.

And it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just a lack of morals. The powers that be within the EU deliberately unleashed shock therapy on Greece – helped along by Goldman Sachs and the IMF, granted -. All supra-national organizations tend towards zero moral values. It’s inherent in their structures. We have NATO, IMF, World Bank, EU, and there’s many more. It’s about the lack of accountability, and the attraction that very lack has for certain characters. Flies and honey.

So that’s where I would tend to differ from people like Alexis Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis, the man seen as SYRIZA’s new finance minister, and also the man who last night very graciously, in the midst of what must have been a wild festive night in Athens, responded to my congratulations email, saying he knows what Dr Evil Brussels is capable of. I don’t see trying to appease Brussels as a successful long term move, and I think Athens should simply say thanks, but no, thanks. But I’m a writer in a glass tower, and they have to face the music, I know.

But let’s get a proper perspective on this. And for that, first let’s get back to Steve Keen (you now he’s a personal friend of The Automatic Earth). Here’s what I think is important. His piece last week lays the foundation for SYRIZA’s negotiations with the EU better than anything could. Steve blames the EU outright for the situation Greece is in. Let’s see them break down the case he makes. And then talk.

It’s All The Greeks’ Fault

Politically paralyzed Washington talked austerity, but never actually imposed it. So who was more successful: the deliberate, policy-driven EU attempt to reduce government debt, or the “muddle through” USA? [..]muddle through was a hands-down winner: the USA’s government debt to GDP ratio has stabilized at 90% of GDP, while Spain’s has sailed past 100%. The USA’s macroeconomic performance has also been far better than Spain’s under the EU’s policy of austerity.

[..] simply on the data, the prima facie case is that all of Spain’s problems – and by inference, most of Greece’s – are due to austerity, rather than Spain’s (or Greece’s) own failings. On the data alone, the EU should “Cry Uncle”, concede Greece’s point, stop imposing austerity, and talk debt-writeoffs – especially since the Greeks can argue that at least part of its excessive public debt ratio is due to the failure of the EU’s austerity policies to reduce it.

[..] why did austerity in Europe fail to reduce the government debt ratio, while muddle-through has stabilized it in the USA? .. the key factor that I consider and mainstream economists ignore—the level and rate of change of private debt. The first clue this gives us is that the EU’s pre-crisis poster-boy, Spain, had the greatest growth in private debt of the three—far exceeding the USA’s. Its peak debt level was also much higher—225% of GDP in mid-2010 versus 170% of GDP for the USA in 2009

[..] the factor that Greece and Spain have in common is that the private sector is reducing its debt level drastically – in Spain’s case by over 20% per year. The USA, on the other hand, ended its private sector deleveraging way back in 2012. Today, Americans are increasing their private debt levels at a rate of about 5% of GDP per year—well below the peak levels prior to the crisis, but roughly in line with the rate of growth of nominal GDP.

[..] the conclusion is that Greece’s crisis is the EU’s fault, and the EU should “pay” via the debt write-offs that Syriza wants – and then some.

That’s not the attitude Berlin and Brussels go into the talks with Tsipras and Varoufakis with. They instead claim Greece owes them €240 billion, and nobody ever talks about what EU crap cost the PIIGS. But Steve is not a push-over. He made Paul Krugman look like a little girl a few years ago, when the latter chose to volunteer, and attack Steve on the issue, that – in a few words – banks have no role in credit creation.

Back to Yanis. The right wing Daily Telegraph, of all places, ran a piece today just about fully – and somewhat strangely – endorsing our left wing Greek economist. Ain’t life a party?

Yanis Varoufakis: Greece’s Future Finance Minister Is No Extremist

Syriza, a hard left party, that outrightly rejects EU-imposed austerity, has given Greek politics its greatest electoral shake-up in at least 40 years.

Hold, wait, don’t let’s ignore that 40 years ago is when Greece ended a military dictatorship. Which had been endorsed by, you know, NATO, US … So “greatest electoral shake-up” is a bit of a stretch. To say the least. There was nothing electoral about Greece pre-1975.

You might expect the frontrunner for the role of finance minister to be a radical zealot, who could throw Greece into the fire He is not. Yanis Varoufakis, the man tipped to be at the core of whatever coalition Syriza forges, is obviously a man of the left. Yet through his career, he has drawn on some of the most passionate advocates of free markets. While consulting at computer games company Valve, Mr Varoufakis cited nobel-prize winner Friedrich Hayek and classical liberal Adam Smith, in order to bring capitalism to places it had never touched.

[..] while Greece’s future minister is a fan of markets in many contexts, it is apparent that he remains a leftist, and one committed to the euro project. Speaking to the BBC on Monday, he said that it would “take an eight or nine year old” to understand the constraints which had bound Greece up since it “tragically” went bankrupt in 2010. “Europe in its infinite wisdom decided to deal with this bankruptcy by loading the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders, the Greek taxpayer,” he said.

“What we’ve been having ever since is a kind of fiscal waterboarding that have turned this nation into a debt colony,” he added. Greece’s public debt to GDP now stands at an eye watering 175%, largely the result of output having fallen off a cliff in the past few years. Stringent austerity measures have not helped, but instead likely contributed.

That last line, from a right wing paper? That’s the same thing Steve Keen said. Even the Telegraph says Brussels is to blame.

It will likely be Mr Varoufakis’ job to make the best of an impossible situation. The first thing he will seek to tackle is Greece’s humanitarian crisis. “It is preposterous that in 2015 we have people that had jobs, and homes, and some of them had shops until a couple of years ago, that are now sleeping rough”, he told Channel 4. The party may now go after multinationals and wealthy individuals that it believes do not pay their way.

[..]The single currency project has fallen under heavy criticism. The economies that formed it were poorly harmonised, and no amount of cobbling together could make the end result appear coherent. Michael Cembalest, of JP Morgan, calculated in 2012 that a union made up of all countries beginning with the letter “M” would have been more workable. The same would be true of all former countries of the Ottoman Empire circa 1800, or of a reconstituted Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, he found.

That’s just brilliant, great comparisons. Got to love that. And again, it reinforces my idea that the EU should simply be demolished, and Greece should not try and stay within eurozone parameters. It may look useful now, but down the line the euro has no future. There’s too much debt to go around. But for SYRIZA, I know, that is not the most practical stance to take right now. The demise of the euro will come in and of itself, and their immediate attention needs to go to Greece, not to some toxic politics game. Good on ‘em. But the fact remains. The euro’s done. And SYRIZA, whether it likes it or not, is very much an early warning sign of that.

[..] A disorderly break up would almost certainly result in a merciless devaluation of whatever currency Greece launched, and in turn a default on debt obligations. The country would likely be locked out of the capital markets, unable to raise new funds. As an economy, Greece has only just begun to see output growth return. GDP still remains more than 26% below the country’s pre-crisis peak. A fresh default is not the lifeline that Greece needs.

Instead, it will be up to a Syriza-led government to negotiate some sort of debt relief, whether that be in the form of a restructuring, a deal to provide leeway on repayment timings, or all out forgiveness. It will be up to Mr Varoufakis – if he is selected as finance minister – and newly sworn in Prime Minister Alex Tspiras to ensure that this can be achieved without Greece getting pushed out of the currency bloc in the process.

And whaddaya know, Steve Keen finishes it off too. Complete with history lessons, a take-and-shake down of failed economic policies, and a condemnation of the neo-liberal politics that wrecked Greek society so much they voted SYRIZA. It’s not rocket politics…

Dawn Of A New Politics In Europe?

About 40 years ago, one of Maggie Thatcher’s chief advisors remarked that he wouldn’t be satisfied when the Conservative Party was in government: he would only be happy when there were two conservative parties vying for office. He got his wish of course. The UK Labour Party of the 1950s that espoused socialism gave way to Tony Blair’s New Labour, and the same shift occurred worldwide, as justified disillusionment about socialism as it was actually practised—as opposed to the fantasies about socialism dreamed up by 19th century revolutionaries—set in.

Parties to the left of the political centre—the Democrats in the USA, Labour in the UK, even the Socialist Party that currently governs France—followed essentially the same economic theories and policies as their conservative rivals.

Differences in economic policy, which were once sharp Left-anti-market/Right-pro-market divides, became shades of grey on the pro-market side. Both sides of politics accepted the empirical fact that market systems worked better than state-run systems. The differences came down to assertions over who was better at conducting a pro-market economic agenda, plus disputes over the extent of the government’s role in the cases where a market failure could be identified.

So how do we interpret the success of Syriza in the Greek elections on Sunday, when this avowedly anti-austerity, left-wing party toppled the left-Neoliberal Pasok and right-Neoliberal New Democracy parties that, between them, had ruled Greece for the previous 4 decades? Is it a return to the pro-market/anti-market divides of the 1950s? No—or rather, it doesn’t have to be.

It can instead be a realisation that, though an actual market economy is indeed superior to an actual centrally planned one, the model of the market that both sides of politics accepted was wrong. That model—known as Neoliberalism in political circles, and Neoclassical Economics in the economic ones in which I move—exalts capitalism for a range of characteristics it doesn’t actually have, while ignoring characteristics that it does have which are the real sources of both capitalism’s vitality and its problems.

Capitalism’s paramount virtues, as espoused by the Neoliberal model of capitalism, are stability and efficiency. But ironically, the real virtue of capitalism is its creative instability—and that necessarily involves waste rather than efficiency. This creative instability is the real reason it defeated socialism, while simultaneously one of the key reasons socialism failed was because of its emphasis upon stability and efficiency.

[..] real-world capitalism trounced real-world socialism because of its real-world strength—the creative instability of the market that means to survive, firms must innovate—and not because of the Neoliberal model that politicians of both the Left and the Right fell for after the collapse of socialism.

Neoliberalism prospered in politics for the next 40 years, not because of what it got right about the economy (which is very little), but because of what it ignored—the capacity of the finance sector to blow a bubble that expanded for almost 40 years, until it burst in 2007. The Neoliberal model’s emphasis on making the government sector as small as possible could work while an expanding finance sector generated the money needed to fuel economic prosperity. When that bubble burst, leaving a huge overhang of private debt in its wake, Neoliberalism led not to prosperity but to a second Great Depression.

The Greeks rejected that false model of capitalism on Sunday—not capitalism itself. The new Syriza-led Government will have to contend with countries where politicians are still beholden to that false model, which will make their task more difficult than it is already. But Syriza’s victory may show that the days of Neoliberalism are numbered. Until Sunday, any party espousing anything other than Neoliberalism as its core economic policy could be slaughtered in campaigning by pointing out that its policies were rejected by economic authorities like the IMF and the OECD.

Syriza’s opponents did precisely that in Greece—and Syriza’s lead over them increased. This is the real takeaway from the Greek elections: a new politics that supports capitalism but rejects Neoliberalism is possible.

All Europeans, and Americans too, must now support SYRIZA. It’s not only the only hope for Greece, it is that for the entire EU. SYRIZA breaks the mold. Greeks themselves would be terribly stupid to start taking their money out of their accounts and precipitating bank runs. That’s what the EU wants you to do, create mayhem and discredit the younger generation that took over this weekend.

It’s going to be a bitter fight. The entrenched powers, guaranteed, won’t give up without bloodshed. SYRIZA stands for defeating a model, not just a government. Most of Europe today is in the hands of technocrats and their ilk, it’s all technocrats and their little helpers. And it’s no just that, it’s that the neo-liberal Brussels crowd used Athens as a test case, in the exact same way Milton Friedman and his Chicago School used the likes of Videla and Pinochet to make their point, and tens of thousands got murdered in the process.

It’s important that we all, European or not, grasp how lacking in morality the entire system prevalent in the west, including the EU, has become. This shows in East Ukraine, where sheer propaganda has shaped opinions for at least a full year now. It’s not about what is real, it’s about what ‘leaders’ would like you to think and believe. And this same immorality has conquered Greece too; there may be no guns, but there are plenty victims.

The EU is a disgrace, a predatory beast unleashed upon all corners of Europe that resist central control and, well, debt slavery really, if you live on the wrong side of the tracks.

SYRIZA may be the last chance Europe has to right its wrongs, before fighting in the streets becomes an everyday reality. Before we get there, and I don’t know that we can prevent it, hear Steve Keen: it’s not the Greeks that screwed up, it’s the EU. But they would never ever admit to that.





ADVICE FOR SUSTAINABILITY ACTIVISTS IN 2015

12 01 2015

Below is Geoff Chia’s article “advice for sustainability activists in 2015”. Feel free to forward this email to everyone ad infinitum. Maybe not a lot new from this source, but it sure is more informative than mainstream rubbish.

After writing this article, Geoffrey discovered this interview with Thomas Lewis, a journalist with many decades experience investigating and reporting environmental issues, who came to the same conclusion:
https://soundcloud.com/doomstead-diner/collapse-cafe-thomas-lewis

Here is a podcast by financial guru Richard Martin http://thewakeupcall.podbean.com/e/spreading-fear-or-providing-information-122214/

He sounds the alarm about the fraudulent and precarious nature of the global financial system. In particular he explains the bogus nature of the shale oil derivatives and associated junk bonds (collapse of which may well trigger the next, more catastrophic GFC). He is an expert in financial matters but unfortunately does not understand peak oil.

You may need to read the following a few times to fully comprehend the various machinations taking place today:

Current low oil prices are a result of demand destruction (slowing of growth in China + recession/depression everywhere else in the world), combined with the Saudis insanely continuing to pump their oil at full throttle (they are well down the slope past peak oil, but they still have the largest reserves in the world). Such Saudi behaviour defies logic in a rational market, but the political motives are clear (which the Saudis devised in conjunction with John Kerry in September last year) http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/16/the-oil-coup/

Predatory low oil pricing is now decimating the Iranian and Russian economies* and could even cause them to crash, an outcome greatly desired by the US who so far have been singularly impotent in forcing either regime to toe the US line. As for the Sunni Saudis, they regard Shia Iran as their heretical enemy and Russia as a godless Satan. This strategy, if drawn out, will also cause collateral damage to the US shale oil industry, however that was doomed anyway from the start. http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/nov/09/us-iran-russia-oil-prices-shale In the short term, Bakken/Eagle Ford will continue pumping like crazy, even if no profit is made, as they are riding on the momentum from old investments (which will never see a long term return**). They need to maintain the illusion of ongoing viability, despite their lousy EROEI, to prop up their share prices and recruit more suckers investors. Furthermore Obama, as directed by his masters (the usual wunch of bankers) has now removed legal protection of public savings from oil derivative fraud (akin to the US government previously repealing Glass-Steagall) which means that if the oil derivatives collapse, the “too big to fail” banks will once again be bailed out by public funds obtained from taxes on the dying middle class and more quantitative easing (AKA printing funny money). Savings accounts will not be safe. Anyone else, everywhere else, who has been stupid enough to invest in the US sharemarket (perhaps your superannuation fund managers?) can kiss their investments goodbye.

What would you do if you were Russian or Iranian? Grit your teeth and ride things out till the oil price inevitably rises again and you can once more make a profit, then trade your oil in currency other than the US dollar (or use barter arrangements eg X barrels of oil for Y number of Chinese solar PV panels). Elimination of the greenback petrodollar is guaranteed to cause the collapse of the US economy. If Iran and Russia are however blocked in their attempts to recover from their own economic collapse and escape the petrodollar, they can always resort to the “continuation of policy by other means” to paraphrase von Clausewitz. If my country is imploding and the Saudis are to blame, I may as well lob a missile into Riyadh, as I have nothing to lose. And so the great game continues.

Meanwhile the dumb sheeple are blissfully pumping cheap oil at the bowsers to fill their monstrous SUVs but have no clue as to what is going on. What was Mr T’s famous catchphrase again?

Brand New Year, same old dirty tricks. Hope you have a happy one anyway.

*Iranian and Russian breakeven oil production costs are substantially higher than Saudi costs. Low oil prices cause the Iran and Russia economies to bleed money. Saudis can even price their oil below Saudi production costs for a while, due to their huge financial reserves.

**big players such as Shell and Sumitomo were well aware of the bogus accounting of shale oil returns, which is why they pulled out. Other players were captured by hubris and irrational exuberance akin to tulip mania. Money flooded into shale oil junk bonds as a result of the US Reserve Bank’s ZIRP, but the chickens will be coming to home to roost soon.

ADVICE FOR SUSTAINABILITY ACTIVISTS IN 2015

RATIONALE

  1. First and foremost, it is essential to understand and accept that the massive die-off of the majority of humanity (indeed, the majority of all species) is guaranteed and inevitable over the next few decades, no matter what you or anyone else does, even if all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions were to cease immediately. Get over it. Stop wasting your precious time and energy trying to influence National1 or International policies. Even if you succeed in turning society around right now, we are well past the point that it will make any difference whatsoever. Runaway destruction of our ecosystems has spiralled out of control and we have already fallen off the cliff. In 2012, I myself abandoned the conceit and delusion that I could “save the world”, when the scientific evidence for the irreversible decompensation of our global ecosphere became overwhelming and indisputable. The mainstream media paint a false picture to the sheeple to keep them subdued and distracted, to avoid provoking mass panic. This article is meant for intelligent people capable of objective, reality-based thinking. The only thing you can do now that will make any difference, is that which lies within your own individual control. It is to determine your own personal fate.

  2. A small proportion of the population will be able to survive, even thrive, during and after the coming collapse. Who will they be? Those who prepare now and plan ahead will have the best chance. You must therefore seize your opportunity while there is still time, before the complete meltdown of this fraudulently propped-up global financial scam wipes out your bank balance, before economic collapse triggers the eruption of extremists in your neighbourhood (just as the Great Depression led to Nazism, the Greek implosion to Golden Dawn and the Syrian collapse to ISIS) and before all your options are lost. It is imperative you discuss with and advise people about the measures needed now, so that the tiny handful who are receptive to this message can mitigate against future hardships and horrors. If you fail to take action now and remain inert and paralysed like a stunned mullet, you are passively submitting to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and will very likely die horribly.

  3. It is not selfish to try to save yourself and your loved ones, while the rest of humanity perish. There is nothing noble about you going down in flames alongside the clueless sheeple and those denialists who reviled you in the past for being “alarmist”. Indeed it will be stupid and pointless for you to join them. They had their chance, refused to listen and will reap what they sowed. The people we should mourn are those who have historically contributed little to this global catastrophe, but who will suffer the most eg subsistence farmers in Bangladesh or Africa.

  4. The actions you must take to survive the great unravelling of industrial civilisation actually correspond exactly with the ethical actions you should take anyway to set a good example to others. The best way to convince others is not by words, but by deeds. To serve as a role model, to practice what you preach. There is no point campaigning to shut down coal fired power stations unless you first show others how they can live well without using coal fired power. Your actions will consist of drastically reducing your ecological footprint, liberating yourself from a corrupt, rapacious and destructive capitalist system and pursuing a meaningful and joyful life in a cooperative community. Talk less and do more.

  5. Do not get bogged down by the proponents of near term human extinction. They are a nihilistic cult with nothing to offer but inertia, hopelessness, misery and despair, despite their attempts to put a positive spin on suicide. Even if NTHE ultimately does occur, it still remains eminently worthwhile at this time for you to aim for the best quality, longest duration lifespan you can possibly achieve. For the patient with terminal cancer, the ethical physician must endeavour to minimise their suffering and maximise the quality and duration of their remaining life. As long as you are not in excruciating pain or in unremitting distress, your survival instinct will dictate that you keep on keeping on. Humanity’s best strategy to avoid extinction is not by attempting to preserve the cities nor prolong industrial civilisation (which is precisely what is destroying our living planet) but by establishing a multitude of self sufficient off-grid communities all around the world. All it takes to avoid NTHE is for just one community to succeed in the long term. By saving yourself you could well be saving humanity as a species.

ACTIONS YOU NEED TO TAKE NOW (IF NOT YESTERDAY) :

  1. Try to expand your social network. Seek out like minded individuals you can trust, who are interested in pursuing an ethical sustainable lifestyle.
  2. Withdraw your money from the Ponzi scheme known as the Sharemarket. Get rid of debt. Convert your cyberwealth into assets of real world value. Lack of finances is not necessarily an impediment to escaping the corrupt mainstream establishment. Practical knowledge, experience and abilities (carpentry, metalwork, plumbing, electrical, agricultural skills etc) will be in great demand, however simply possessing good common sense, physical health and a willingness to learn and contribute are the most important assets, which you can offer to homestead planners who will be keen to snap you up. The most precious commodities of the future will not be gold, silver or diamonds (which the wise will regard with disdain) but the qualities of trustworthiness, reliability and diligence. These are the riches of the future which will bind individuals and communities together.

  3. Purchase suitable land in a remote2 location with reliable fresh water supplies, as little affected by the future projections of climate change as possible, on which to establish your permaculture homestead.

  4. Construct one or more large lockup sheds (with attached large rainwater tanks), in which you can store agricultural tools, fertiliser, water purifying equipment, emergency food supplies and other essential startup items. One or more containers placed there will also be useful, if you can arrange that. When you ultimately empty out your large shed of its contents, it can be used as multipurpose building eg workshop, community hall etc.

  5. It may be necessary to erect a permaculture enclosure to protect your crops from being consumed by the local wildlife.

  6. Participants must construct their dwellings. These must be designed to be off-grid ie. completely independent of centrally controlled electrical, water and sewage utilities. Time, money and ethical considerations may preclude the construction of conventional concrete and steel buildings. Restrictive and backward codes of the local council may prevent you from building cheap, innovative dwellings such as Earthships (which are labour intensive and take a long time to build anyway). One way to bypass these obstacles is to construct tiny houses on wheels3. They cost less than 20% of a standard house, can be built to passive solar principles (and incorporate the essential wood stove/heater) and can provide all your usual creature comforts and amenities (even a home movie theatre) albeit in a smaller space. Furthermore they can be custom built by you right now, right where you live, then towed to your homestead later. Timing of the move is crucial and must obviously be done before the collapse of the current infrastructure leads to fuel scarcity and blockade of the highways. If time becomes very short, you can purchase a standard caravan immediately, although they are generally designed to be plugged into the grid and will not be ideal to live in long term (although much better than a tent).

  7. Security issues for your community may be the most fraught and difficult to work out. In the USA where guns proliferate, paranoia leads to the accumulation of weapons and fearful continuous surveillance. My advice to Americans is to move to Alaska, Washington State or Oregon. Even better if you can, is to emigrate to NZ, Canada or southern Chile (the latter only if you are a fluent Spanish speaker) which probably has the best long term prospects of all. In Oz, I personally favour remoteness, obscurity and good relations with your neighbours as the best means of protection4. Dogs on your property may help, but avoid aggressive breeds which may be a danger to children.

  8. The above steps will not guarantee you a good outcome (nothing can) but will dramatically increase your chances of achieving a good outcome. At the very least, engaging in hopeful activity in the company of other good people will shield you from despair. Even if things don’t ultimately work out, at least you will go down fighting and in control of your own destiny, rather than be a passive lamb to the slaughter. Apart from good planning, the main factors which will determine whether your community succeeds or fails in the long term will be the quality of your participants5, your framework of governance6 and a good deal of luck.

Geoffrey Chia, January 2015

Footnotes:

  1. Unless you live in NZ, which may be the only country in the world with any hope of saving the majority of its population. This is based on its favourable location and soils, low population density, high level of renewable energy infrastructure including electric railways and my belief (although I could be mistaken) that the majority of Kiwis are not certifiably insane (unlike the rest of the world where the inmates have taken over the asylum).

  2. Well away from large cities which will be the “killing fields of the future”. Small towns in agricultural areas may potentially be viable.

  3. Lara Nobel, a graduate architect now completing a building qualification, will be presenting this topic at the Queensland Skeptics meeting in Brisbane in March 2015. There is a wealth of information about tiny houses on the web.

  4. In the future time of petroleum scarcity, the “marauding hordes” will not be able to invade you en masse if your homestead is more than one fuel tank away from a major city and they do not know your location. Good neighbours can provide advance notice if random dodgy strangers are seen making their way on foot through the countryside. As survivors, they will be resourceful. If they also turn out to be decent and hardworking, let them share in your homestead chores with a view to eventually joining up.

  5. Every member must contribute. Psychopaths must be expelled. People steeped in non-evidence based bullshit (eg belief in homeopathy or that the MMR vaccine causes autism) must be excluded, because their forcefully held nonsensical and harmful ideologies will obstruct sensible decision making initiatives. People steeped in superstition eg belief in God, gods or ghosts must be excluded, because their delusions will distort rational thinking of impressionable young people and may pose a future risk of turning your community into a cult. The reason why this global human experiment is failing is because of idiocracy, ie. rule by idiots, who must be excluded from your community. The only hope for humanity is for sapient people to survive and populate future generations.

  6. The basic principle being that decisions must be made on the basis of evidence, reason and fairness to confer the greatest amount of good to the greatest number of people in your community on a long term basis.

Geoffrey Chia is a Cardiologist/Physician based in Brisbane, Australia, who convened the group “Doctors and Scientists for Sustainability and Social Justice” from 2006 to 2013





Carbon bubble toil and trouble

27 03 2014

There has been of late quite a few articles on the blogosphere about the potential for a Carbon bubble.  A bubble about to burst.  That this will occur is utterly undeniable, but the outcomes featured by different writers are a bit off the mark in my opinion……

First, let me start with Paul Gilding.  I have a lot of time for Paul.  I’ve even published some of his writings here; but his optimism often leaves me flabbergasted…….

In Carbon Crash Solar Dawn, published in Cockatoo Chronicles 

I think it’s time to call it. Renewables and associated storage, transport and digital technologies are so rapidly disrupting whole industries’ business models they are pushing the fossil fuel industry towards inevitable collapse.

Some of you will struggle with that statement. Most people accept the idea that fossil fuels are all powerful – that the industry controls governments and it will take many decades to force them out of our economy. Fortunately, the fossil fuel industry suffers the same delusion.

gilding

Paul Gilding

I don’t think the oil industry is under any such delusion.  Unable to make a profit with oil floundering around $100 a barrel, a price the market forces on them to accept, that industry is taking to selling its assets to prop up its bottom line, even borrowing money to pay shareholders’ dividends….

The only idea I struggle with Paul, is that “renewables, electric cars and associated technologies build the momentum needed to make their takeover unstoppable“.

Take here in Australia for instance; the coal fired power lobby has twisted the politicians’ arms (I don’t think much twisting was required either…) to thwart any further growth in the development of renewables.  In Queensland where I still live, the Newman government has indicated that the paltry 8c feed in tariff that the poor beggars who installed PVs on their roofs after the frankly overgenerous 44c feed in tariff was terminated, will become a zero FiT after July 1.  We who are on the overgenerous 44c FiT are ‘safe’ (until TSHTF that is – then all bets are off), because we are on a contract that lasts until 2028….. but everyone else misses out.  Why are they doing this?  It’s all explained very well here on The Conversation, but basically it’s to protect the dinosaur industries’ shareholders.  There’s no way they are borrowing to pay their shareholders like Shell had to do….  Money rules, and f*** you the consumer.

Paul also further writes:

I think it’s important to always start with a reminder of the underlying context. As I argued in my book The Great Disruption, dramatic economic change is not a choice we get to make it, but an inevitable result of physical science. This is because business as usual, with results like ever increasing resource constraint or a global temperature increase of 4 degrees or more, would trigger economic and social collapse. So the only realistic outcomes are such a collapse or an economic transformation that prevents it, with timing the only big unknown. I argued transformation was far more likely and, to my delight, that’s what we see emerging around us today – even faster than I expected.

In parallel, we are also seeing the physical impacts of climate change and resource constraint accelerating. This is triggering physical, economic and geopolitical responses – from melting arctic ice and spiking food prices to the Arab Spring and the war in Syria. (See here for further on that.) The goods news in this growing hard evidence is that the risk of collapse is being acknowledged by more mainstream analysts. Examples include this commentary by investment legend Jeremy Grantham and a recent NASA funded study explained here by Nafeez Ahmed. So the underlying driver – if we don’t change in a good way, we’ll change in a very bad way – is gathering acceptance.

Hang on……..  is he saying the Arab Spring is about people demanding “renewables, electric cars and associated technologies”?  Because collapse is exactly what is happening in Egypt and Syria.  Collapse does not begin in boardrooms, it begins in the streets when people run out of food, water, and petrol….

And where is the debt problem mentioned in this “dramatic economic change“?  How exactly will the “renewables, electric cars and associated technologies” be paid for?  More growth?  Has he never heard the saying “the best way to get out of a hole is by not digging any deeper”?

Over at Nature Climate Change, I found this too……

…major players in the financial markets are becoming increasingly uneasy about the extent of the impact of future climate policies on power companies. A supposition — fostered by the Carbon Tracker Initiative — is that fossil fuels may be nowhere near as profitable in the future as they have been so far. This is not simply because the costs of prospecting and drilling for oil, for example, are increasing, or that the fossil fuel resources that give the oil, coal and natural gas companies their value are about to run out — they are not. The problem is more that a large portion — perhaps as much as 80 per cent — of these reserves will have to be left untouched if society has any chance of limiting global temperature rise to 2 °C this century.

So, pray tell, what will we build the new energy system with…?  Let me remind you of just how many resources it takes to build wind turbines… or a solar thermal power plant

Paul ends his article with:

So, as I see it, the game is up for fossil fuels. Their decline is well underway and it won’t be a gentle one. Of course they won’t just be gone in few years but once the market and policy makers understand what’s happening, it will become self-reinforcing and accelerate rapidly. Markets come into their own in situations like this. They rarely initiate change, but once they’re racing down the hill, it’s time to jump on board or get out of the way. It’s an ugly and brutal process for those involved, but it gets the job done quickly.

When that occurs, we may find that those forecasts by myself and others like Tony Seba from Stanford University, that the oil, coal and gas companies will be all but obsolete by 2030, might turn out to be conservative after all. Interesting times indeed.

Yes, it is game over.  But not for the fossil fuel industries alone.  When they go down, everyone goes down.  Even the central bankers, to whom the global debt which has soared more than 40 percent to $100 trillion since the first signs of the financial crisis, will go down….. why do so few people see the big picture…….?  For someone who claims to understand the “inevitable result of physical science” as the driver of economic change, Paul truly puzzles me.





Can you smell the stench…?

20 07 2013

“An­other great chal­lenge of our age is asylum seekers. The bib­lical in­junc­tion to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The par­able of the Good Samar­itan is but one of many which deal with the mat­ter of how we should re­spond to a vul­ner­able stranger in our midst. That is why the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal to ex­cise the Aus­tralian main­land from the en­tire Aus­tralian mi­gra­tion zone and to rely al­most ex­clus­ively on the so-called Pa­cific Solu­tion should be the cause of great eth­ical con­cern to all the Chris­tian churches. We should never for­get that the reason we have a UN con­ven­tion on the pro­tec­tion of refugees is in large part be­cause of the hor­ror of the Holo­caust, when the West (in­clud­ing Aus­tralia) turned its back on the Jew­ish people of Ger­many and the other oc­cu­pied coun­tries of Europe who sought asylum dur­ing the ’30s.”  

Kevin Rudd   http://www.themonthly.com.au/epublish/1  October 2006

Seven years is a long time in politics.  Yesterday, our Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea signed the ‘Regional Resettlement Agreement’.  This means that any asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat will be turned back to Papua New Guinea and resettled there.  Politics, it appears, is all about winning elections, stuff principles.  Even faith based ones.  And some wonder why I am so skeptical of religion…… or politics for that matter.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s403x403/1001206_443289102445844_466629865_n.jpg

Syrian Refugee Camp

I see this conundrum as one with no solution.  Well, at least no solution compatible with the running of ANY form of Business as Usual.  The core of the problem is, as usual, overpopulation, and we all know how badly Catholics – like Abbott and Rudd – deal with these issues.  Or Muslims for that matter.  Populate or perish is fast becoming populate and perish……. and if you think Australia has a refugee problem, then check out the refugee queue in Syria…!

This is what happens when a country runs out of oil and water and foreign currency.  They start killing each other, they blame whoever is in charge, and those who don’t have access to guns simply run away….  except there is nowhere to run away to, there is no Planet B.  How long before we start seeing Syrian refugees (or Egyptian…) on our precious borders is anyone’s guess.

I think this issue is fast becoming the one that affects my sanity the most……  it drives me to despair.  I can cope with running out of oil, I can cope with having to make do without a car, I’ve already worked out how to make do with sweet bugger all electricity, but I honestly cannot cope with the thought of Australia, already overpopulated, being invaded by potentially millions of refugees from all over the world.

https://i2.wp.com/resources1.news.com.au/images/2013/06/27/1226670/634689-fa2f2448-de29-11e2-afc5-85fe0b419826.jpg

Aren’t we just good Catholic boys now….

Don’t get me wrong, I truly feel sorry for these people.  How can you not…?  After all, it was us who bombed the hell out of their countries and/or stole their oil…  And certainly, I am privileged to have gotten here first.  No ifs no buts.  But believe me when I say none of the three major parties, the Liblabs and the Greens, have any understanding of the problem.

Australians exhibit a fear of this ‘invasion’ that isn’t justified.  Compared to the problems facing Europe with similar boat people attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa, ours is a mere trickle.  The trickle could of course turn into a flood, and I have to say we who don’t live in a major Australian city are somewhat protected from this…..  you will just about never see a Muslim wearing traditional dress on the Sunshine Coast.  Glenda and I were gobsmacked when, upon arriving in Sydney and catching a train to reach Steve Harrison’s workshop, every second person on the train was a foreigner.  It really felt like we had reached an overseas destination……..  You don’t see Muslims in Tasmania either I might add.  I’m sure some exist, but we haven’t crossed paths yet……  I hate to admit it, but we felt uncomfortable.  I don’t want to think it’s a racist thing, it’s more of a cultural one.  We do all prefer to live in our own culture; and when overseas we are fascinated by other cultures…..  but not threatened by them, because we are visitors.

Next week (July 24 to be precise), we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of my family’s arrival in this country.  My Mother’s French accent is still as thick as, but we have all managed to assimilate into Australian culture.  In fact, by the time I was 25, you would have been hard pressed to detect that I was not Australian born.  But many of these refugees do not even try to assimilate.  Their children may…. but of course when collapse really sets in, who knows what will happen?  Perhaps people in this country of ours unconsciously know collapse is on the way, and that it may all turn into a “them versus us” situation, and let’s face it, they’ve had far more practice at street violence and persecution than most of us whiteys…….

Australia, just like the rest of the world, is already in overshoot.  We just don’t know it yet.  Well maybe some are starting to suspect.  This whole mess, as far as I am concerned, is another sure sign the collapse has begun, and political parties are all pretending they are doing something about it, except they are merely treating the symptoms, not the disease…….

If there’s a Stable Population Party candidate here at the next election, I’d be inclined to vote for them……..  but I fear it’s way way too late already.  I can smell the stench already……..