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Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

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  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 05:06am

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    xraymike79

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    Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

Here's a must-read essay if you're writing a post-apocalyptic dystopian tale


This article claims that the hypothetical collapse of our modern society can/will be delinneated into 14 parts. I'll start you off with the author's first paragraph, then I'll paraphrase for you from there. It's a VERY long essay (over 8,000 words) but pretty thorough in its treatment of the subject.

http://www.countercurrents.org/goodchild090510.htm

[quote]

The Imminent Collapse Of Industrial Society

By Peter Goodchild — 09 May, 2010

The collapse of modern industrial society has 14 parts, each with a somewhat causal relationship to the next. (1) Fossil fuels, (2) metals, and (3) electricity are a tightly-knit group, and no industrial civilization can have one without the others. The decline in fossil-fuel production is the most critical aspect of the collapse, and most of the following text will be devoted to that topic. As those three disappear, (4) food and (5) fresh water become scarce; grain and wild fish supplies per capita have been declining for years, water tables are falling everywhere, rivers are not reaching the sea.

Here's my take on what he has to say about the way a collapse might unfold.

FIRST, ONGOING SHORTAGES OF INDUSTRIAL RESOURCES TAKE THEIR TOLL ON MANUFACTURING AND COMMERCE, AND ESPECIALLY THE GLOBAL ECONOMY.

1) Fossil fuels
2) Metals
3) Electricity

SECOND, THE RESULTING SCARCITY OF BASIC LIFE NEEDS CHIPS AWAY AT SOCIAL STABILITY.

4) Food
5) Fresh Water

THIRD, SOCIETAL INFRASTRUCTURES START TO CRUMBLE.

6) Transportation
7) Communication

FOURTH, SOCIETAL RELATIONSHIPS START TO CRUMBLE.

8) Government
9) Education
10) Divisions of Labor

FIFTH, TRUE ANARCHY SETS IN.

11) Crime
12) Cults
13) Craziness
14) Chaos

[/quote]

The author goes on to say:

[quote]

These are cascading dominoes; all parts of the collapse have more to do with causality than with chronology, although there is no great distinction to be made between the two. If we look at matters from a more purely chronological viewpoint, however, we can say that there is a clear division into two time periods, two phases. The first phase will be merely economic hardship, and the second will be entropy. In the first phase the major issues will be inflation, unemployment, and the stock market. The second phase will be characterized by the disappearance of money, law, and government. In more pragmatic terms, we can say that the second phase will begin when money is no longer accepted as a means of exchange.

[/quote]

After this beginning he delves deeply (for MANY paragraphs and in great detail) into the issues of fossil fuels, energy, food and water, and arable land.

He concludes with this:

[quote]

With a slightly optimistic view of the future, one can say that a few people will succeed, and that such people will generally be those who have the skills to do so, even if there will be other people who stay alive by sheer chance. The greatest “resource” of all will be the knowledge inside one's own head. People with the information and skills required for supplying themselves and their community with food and shelter, however, can certainly be called survivalists, even if there should be a better label.

… snip …

We must also keep in mind that as the centuries unfold the human world will always be much smaller than it is today. It may seem odd to speak of the social implications of hematite versus taconite, for example, but what we are really examining is a human population that will be shrinking considerably from its present numbers and living a less complicated life. The world will not be smaller in the sense of “the global village” with its rapid communication and transportation, but smaller in almost the opposite sense: that each person's life will be lived within a smaller geographic range than today, and that the total of human numbers will be small. That smallness will be repeated mile by mile, league by league: people will be counted in groups of hundreds rather than billions, and the kingdoms of the distant future will be the size of our present counties.

… snip …

[/quote]

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 10:05am

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    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

Interesting article.  Thanks for finding and sharing!  I’m going to take this apart a bit and go from there.

 

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 12:56pm

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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

ESTIMATES

{Sam Rose and Joss Winn]: In fact, by 2030, the structural problems of our society related to resource depletion, peak oil, the food and water crisis, and climate change, will lead to an acceleration of dysfunction and social crisis, and by then, it may already be too late to stop an accelerated unraveling of the current civilisational model. In their view therefore, we only have 15 years to make a sufficient impact to avoid major catastrophes….

Multiple corporations are relentlessly pursuing total control of communications infrastructure, (and already have total control of) financial systems, energy and food distribution, etc So, by 2030 (not later) it is plausible that we will already be in a state where millions, if not billions will be marginalized by all existing basic sustenance systems (food, water, energy, access). Stuart Kauffman, and other complex systems theorists have shown that in all systems, change tends to happen in an “s curve” fashion. Kauffman uses a sandpile as an example in his book “At Home In The Universe”. He describes the data signature of a massive pile of sand collapsing. First small bits fall off, then large chunks, then larger and larger, faster and faster. The total rate of collapse towards the end is exponentially faster than the beginning. I think we are seeing the same with global human systems now, and that we are *now* in the beginning time of collapse, with signals already present around the world. This means we have maybe 15 years, starting *now*, to start changing things in significant ways for at least 45% or more of people on the earth. 45% minimum probably will get us enough inertia in the opposite direction to slow down the momentum that is starting *now*.” Joss Winn: “The growing consensus is that the peak of conventional oil was in 2005 and that the peak of all liquid fuels will be between 2010 – 2014. I’ve summarised this and a few other things relating to climate, technology and efficiency: here

Since writing that, a paper from an Oxford University research group (including ex-Chief Scientific Advisor to UK gov, Sr. David King) has added to the growing Peak Oil consensus.”

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 02:31pm

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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

In the mid 70’s Bucky Fuller said we had 7 years to turn things around. Anyone here think we did?

V

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 05:09pm

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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

[quote=V]

In the mid 70’s Bucky Fuller said we had 7 years to turn things around. Anyone here think we did?

V

[/quote]

Sure, we turned things around.  Unfortunately, we turned ’em 360 degrees instead of 180…

 

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 09:14pm

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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

Confessions of a Doomer

     I must come clean and admit that I’m looking forward to collapse. (I’m using “collapse” in the anthropological sense, meaning only a re-simplification of society, without the catastrophic connotation the term has accumulated.) The process would be difficult, the resulting turmoil and loss of life could be horrific, but the alternative, in my opinion, would be worse. The status quo has devastated the biosphere and impoverished perhaps a billion or more people. Some would say those people were even poorer before, but whatever creature comforts the global capitalist system has given them have been more than negated by the social, emotional, spiritual and (usually) physical dislocation it has forced on them. I realize these are broad generalizations. I make them because I feel that dislocation and despoilment in myself, and I think our way of life is the cause of it.
     Re-simplifying our society could improve our lives tremendously. Instead of spiritual alienation, we could again feel connected to the land, the wildlife and the seasons (and there might not be so much Seasonal Affective Disorder). Instead of social isolation, we could again live in community with our neighbors. Instead of competition, we could provide for ourselves by working cooperatively. This is the Sunny Side of Collapse. It may be (ironically) Utopian, but I think the disintegration of capitalism would strip us of many of our paranoid, competitive tendencies. This may be what truly isolates we Doomers, the fact that inside every one of us is a Utopian. We reject society as it is, yet still believe we’ll embrace a society forged in the crucible of apocalypse. We’re funny that way.
     Now the time has come for my final confession: The sooner collapse happens, the better off we’ll be. That’s right. Not only am I pro-apocalypse, I’m rather impatient for the end of the world to begin. It’s simple, really. Since the System (a.k.a. the economy, or the method by which we keep ourselves alive) is destroying the natural environment (a.k.a. our habitat, or the only planet that can support our kind) and our spirit (a.k.a. the soul, or the thing that makes life worth living), it only makes sense that the sooner the System collapses, the better off we’ll all be. The longer the economy hums (or coughs) along, the longer we continue with business-as-usual. Whether we go along to get along or because we honestly believe in the benevolence of the System, we’re all just lemmings headed for the cliff unless we diverge from the mainstream.
     Also, it’s hard to convince people we’re in the early stages of collapse when things are still pretty good. Unemployment is around 10% (officially), and foreclosures are spreading like kudzu, but most Americans can still afford to feed, clothe and house themselves. Only when we have trouble meeting our basic needs will we begin to seriously question and fundamentally reform our society. And I believe, passionately, that we need to begin this process ASAP, while there are still enough fossil fuels, water and other natural resources to support 6.8 billion people. So my message is this: Don’t wait until the $#!+ hits the fan, because by then it could be too late.

—- Mickey Foley

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 09:34pm

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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

[quote=V]

In the mid 70’s Bucky Fuller said we had 7 years to turn things around. Anyone here think we did?

V

[/quote]

Old Bucky.  Always the optomist.

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 10:15pm

    #8
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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

[quote=docmims]

[quote=V]

In the mid 70’s Bucky Fuller said we had 7 years to turn things around. Anyone here think we did?

V

[/quote]

Old Bucky.  Always the optomist.

[/quote]

 

I would have to say Old Bucky was right. Look at the state of the planet and our present course of action and tell me what kind of lives our future descendents will have. Optimistic about our current economic and political structure?????????? This century won’t offer us a soft landing because we refuse to make a collective change in a cultural/political/economic system that believes the world revolves around and bows down to it. 

  • Mon, May 10, 2010 - 10:40pm

    #9
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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

On problem with humans they become very self destructive at ever faster rates when the don’t get what they want or feel they deserve.

  • Tue, May 11, 2010 - 12:35am

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    Re: Timeline/Stages for Collapse of our Way of Life

I for one think it will play out differently:

  1. 1.5 trillion in Alt-A’s and Option Arms
  2. 3.5-5.- trillion in CRE
  3. Both the above collapse at least 3,000 banks
  4. Fed – of course – continues to pump money into a broken baloon
  5. Currency collapses (could collapse in the EU first without the sure fails of CRE and RE) (China could tank)
  6. Oil demand falls into the septic tank
  7. By the time we straighten it out and have demand for oil we will be so pathetically behind in technology and the platforms to get to the hard to get oil that peak oil will be peak oil on massive steroids

So it will be a wash, rinse repeat with oil being the second bolder to land on top of us.

Got that to look forward to.

And I know, I’m an eternal optimist.

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