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June 21st, 2010

From Twitter 06-20-2010



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Collapse

I saw an interesting (if overly dire and flawed, imho) documentary over the weekend. It's called Collapse and is predominantly about Peak Oil, but the real thrust of the piece is that humanity is in an overheated bubble like the housing market before the financial crisis. When we run out of oil, the bubble will burst. Humanity is in for a violent downsizing and reorganization.

Peak Oil, if you don't know, is when we will have reached the maximum level of oil production possible. The problem being that demand will continue to grow, especially with the growing economies of China and India. It's the clash of finite/dwindling supply and ever growing demand. Per the Christian Science Monitor, theories range from Peak Oil was reached 5 years ago to we will hit Peak Oil in 2025 without the discovery of new vast oil fields. The concept of Peak Oil is pretty well established. The debate is when.

Back to Collapse! The documentary is done as an interview with this man who lays out the upcoming crisis. The main weakness of the film is the lack of scientific credentials of the interviewee, Michael Ruppert. The gentleman was a CIA whistle blower, ex-LAPD and now a reporter. He comes off as a paranoid conspiracist. Despite this, many of his points were compelling and based on facts. Some of his predictions and assumptions are tougher to evaluate.

He points out that with rising oil prices that will come with Peak Oil, we will need to change the way we feed ourselves. Strawberries from Ecuador are a luxury that we won't be able to afford. Further, pesticides (not to mention all the plastic in our lives) are made from oil. Regular car tires typically are made with 7 gallons of oil, so you can assume truck tires are made with much, much more. Modern society will have to radically change to cope with Peak Oil.

The main problem I had with the film was the assumption that the explosive growth of the population in the 20th century was due to oil. I grant that oil played a part, but so did medicine and science. I also think that science will allay some of Mr. Ruppert's dire predictions. Mr. Ruppert does not feel humanity has enough ingenuity to overcome the coming crisis. Maybe he's right, but maybe he's not. I have no doubt that the onset of Peak Oil will be bad. Real bad. Maybe the Great Recession is only the start, like he suggests. Or maybe not.

Peak Oil isn't new. Neither is the push for local food and sustainablity. However, Ruppert goes further and also talks about purchasing gold and 'real' seeds (i.e. not Monsanto seeds) as a future currency. With the concurrence of the dwindling fresh water supply, places like Las Vegas will have to be abandoned, per Ruppert. He talks of surviving the transition.

Like I said, I feel like this was a flawed documentary. However, I agree that society is in for a very bad time in the foreseeable future. I hope that's in 50 years rather than just around the corner.

Après nous, le Déluge. At least I hope it's après moi!

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