Saturday, December 13, 2008

Apocalypse-o-rama #2...

Sent in by  a loyal reader:
By 2018, we'll be firmly in the post-industrial stone age. Kunstler's novel, A World Made by Hand, closely matches my outlook (I think we'll approach Kunstler's version of the world about a decade before his book suggests; it's set in ca. 2025). The final third of the book descends into distractingly silly superstition, but otherwise the book offers a plausible portrayal of our post-petroleum future. All activities have become very local, and the world has become very large. Travel is restricted, for all practical purposes, to walking and riding animals. Global climate change has warmed upstate New York, where the characters struggle to capture water, grow food, and maintain civility when civilization has failed. Violence is extremely local, unlike the violence we visit upon other countries, cultures, and species on an unrelenting basis.
Unlike the fictional characters in Kunstler's book, I see great hope and great beauty in our own post-carbon world. Despite the presence of a limited from of civilization -- there will still be a few functioning solar panels and windmills in ten years -- we'll be depending on each other and living close to the land that sustains us. Any stored food will be gone, the climate will be completely out of whack with our memory and expectations, but Earth and its native flora and fauna will be making serious comebacks. Most of the marauding hordes will be a distant memory, along with ammunition for the remaining guns, though the problem of evil will continue to appear on a frequent basis. People will continue to seek power, but the world to be conquered will be restricted to a sparely populated few acres.
We'll be thinking more, and differently, and undertaking a lot of manual labor. We'll struggle to feed ourselves, physically and emotionally. If we commit to a different set of arrangements than those to which we've become accustomed, the bounty of the natural world will assist with the former. The renewed and renewing beauty of the natural world certainly will help with the latter. [More]
I usually catch sense of wistful anticipation in these Stone-Age prophecies, and I think much of this feeling arises from an alienation to technology and an imperfect grasp of how necessarily crude, unfair, and difficult this simpler life was. 

The other angle I always ponder is the likely futility of beating such a dire outcome.  If you prepared adequately for the end of the world, you would simply become a target for fearful neighbors. Imagine having power when all around you are freezing and hungry in a an ice storm.  You think you wouldn't have visitors?
These scary scenarios strike me as jeremiads railing against current (sinful/wasteful) lifestyles and a longing for some crule justice to justify the author's sense of outrage. And right now, people will listen to you.

But the real test of belief is whether you sell out and move to a secret well-stocked cabin in the mountains, or just keep haranguing folks on the Internet.

[Thanks, Dave]


buffalobill said...

My grandfather farmed back in the 'good old days'. He was a young adult in the early 1900's. I never heard him say that he wanted to go back to farming without tractors, hauling his own water, and producing food mostly for his own consumption. He was happy to leave those things behind. He considered progress a good thing.

I noticed the phrase 'feeding themselves physically and emotionally'. I believe that if humanity was struggling to feed itself physically, it would have no energy left over for 'emotional' feeding. Feelings/emotions would almost cease to exist, leaving only hunger, fear and anger. The earth becoming a more beautiful place to live would not be important at all.

One more point, it is unlikely that the author of that blog would be one of the survivors to even see that brave new world. It is more likely that most of us would Not survive. Not that it matters in the long run at all, no one ever survives, do they?

Ol James said...

...I guess I need to dust off my bow and arrows, for this Y2K-Part 2, huh?? where did I put that "Rambo-exploding broadhead"??...did I say that out loud??

Anonymous said...

Modern, high tech agriculture uses 10 calories of fossil energy, as fuel, fertilizer, and chemicals, to put 1 calorie of food on the table. Is that efficient? I thought the point was to use sun energy to produce food.

As oil supply begins to decrease, and it has already, we will need to find other ways to get the work done. We really don't have much choice regardless of what we feel or want.

The big question right now is will financial troubles slow things up even while there is still adequate oil supply to meet the decreasing world demand? My guess is that we have a few years left for business as usual. Given a choice, folks will choose to eat over riding around.

Anonymous said...

I believe we are seeing same thing to-day as some want "to save the environment(good thing) , bio-fuels ,bail-outs"...BUT how do you spend much time thinking about that when many are just hoping too have a job to-morrow and make there mortgage payments.....taalk too many pork producers that don't have much land base and all I hear is despair...hope only lasts so long