I don’t believe in any of the nonsense about Mayan Calendars, ancient prophecies, or suchlike. Not one bit. Nevertheless, actual economic and scientific data does increasingly indicate that 2012 is going to be a crunch year.
Here in Europe, the sovereign debt crisis totters onwards, with various countries totally unable to pay off what they owe. However, to admit this would bring the banking system crashing down. Already, mass protests are underway, and those will get worse as governments cut spending harder. The dry weather in April is causing crop failures here in the UK, and perhaps elsewhere. Local government is redefining what a ‘pothole’ is, because they haven’t actually got the money to repair the roads.
In North Africa and the Middle East, things are getting less and less stable. I learned this week that as of next year, Saudi Arabia will run out of fossil water, and as a consequence will cease all domestic production of wheat and other irrigated crops. That means that all 30 million Saudis will be totally dependent on imported food. Not exactly an incentive for them to see lower oil prices, is it? Next door, Yemen is about to collapse completely, having run out of both water and oil. That means the approach to the Red Sea, and thus the Suez canal, will be flanked by two totally failed states.
China? Drought, crop failures, and nationwide shortages of electricity. Inflation. Rising wages and violation of intellectual property leading to manufacturers moving out of China to other countries. Rampant corruption and abuses of power. Rising expectations meeting limits to growth causes dissent and increased repression.
The US? A political system unable to engage with the real world. Huge unemployment. Unpayable debts and a still-collapsing property market. Fossil water also running out in the mid-West. A great unravelling.
Plus, the International Energy Agency confirming that we’ve hit peak oil.
If there’s a way for this to all come right, I hope someone can direct me to it. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.
I don’t say all this as a cry of despair. It’s just that, looking clearly at the available data, it seems inescapable that the economic system that we have developed over recent decades has gone as far as it can. A change is coming, a great simplification. It’s going to be a difficult transition. (if you have 90 minutes available, I recommend watching Dmitry Orlov’s presentation to the Long Now Foundation, Social Collapse Best Practices).
As I’ve been saying for a while now, it’s a time to be building up social networks; to be learning how local production of food works, and to be doing what you can on that. It’s a time to be building up skills, and knowledge, and inventory.
Let me be clear, I’m not a survivalist! I don’t advocate bunkers full of ammo and tinned food. What’s coming is what John Michael Greer calls ‘Catabolic Collapse‘, a radical simplification – but not a Mad Max-style total collapse. We’ll still have government, we’ll still have our systems, but they’ll be much less complex than they are today.
Rather, I think this is the time to be stocking up on the things you might need, and won’t be able to get, once global trade, and the banks, stop working. In my case, as I’ve mentioned before, it means getting in training and qualifications that might be useful once the Higher Education system collapses. Planting trees, and stocking up on seeds. And, most relevant to this blog, acquiring knowledge in the form of books, DVDs, etc that will help me to continue expanding my knowledge while they’re still available. Thus, I’ve been spending a lot of money lately. I’ll start putting up some initial reviews soon. This is all happening faster than I originally expected – I thought a year ago that 2015 would be the crunch year, but it seems not.
Of course, I could be wrong about this – it could all work out and, indeed, I know that I tend to look very much at the negative side of things. But hey, if I’m wrong all that happens is that I will have rapidly built up a collection of skills, resources, and material that I wanted and would probably have acquired at some point anyway. And if I’m right, good luck to anyone who hasn’t prepared.
And now, I’m going to dig up more of the garden for planting 🙂