2009 Predictions - Sharon Astyk

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switters's picture
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2009 Predictions - Sharon Astyk

Sharon Astyk is one of my favorite bloggers on the issues of resource depletion, economic instability and climate change.

She just posted an article with her predictions for 2009 and a review of how her predictions for 2008 came out.  

First, the 2009 predictions:


Ok, what about the coming year?  While I think 2008 was when most
people first realized something was wrong, I’m going to go out on a
limb here (ok, not a huge limb, but a limb) and say that 2009 will be
the year we say that things “collapsed.”  I don’t think we’re going to
make it through the year without radical structural changes in the
nature of life in most of the world.   I’m calling it, a la Yeats’s “Second Coming” the “The Year ‘Its Hour Come Round at Last’” 

 What do I mean by collapse?  We throw that word around, but it is
easy to misunderstand.  I mean that the US is likely to undergo a
financial collapse a la the Great Depression - widespread unemployment,
lots of people facing hunger, cold and the inability to get health
care, a disruption of what we tend to assume are birthright services,
and a sense that the system doesn’t work anymore.  I don’t claim that
we are headed by Thursday to cannibalism, however - what I think will
be true is that we will often do surprisingly well in the state of
collapse, as hard as it is.

 In previous years, I was fairly lighthearted about my predictions -
this year, I don’t find it possible to be.  I really hope I’m wrong
about this.  And I  hope you will make decisions based on your own
judgement, not mine.  These are predictions, the results of my analysis
and my intuitions, and sometimes I’m good at that.  But I do not claim
that every word that comes out of my mouth or off my keyboard is the
truth, and you should not take it as such.  You are getting this free
on the internet - consider what you paid for it, and value it

1. Some measure of normalcy will hold out until late spring or early
summer, mostly based on hopes for the Obama Presidency.  But by
late summer 2009, the aggregate loss of jobs, credit and wealth will
cause an economic crisis that makes our current situation look pretty
mild.  With predictions of up to a million jobs lost each month, there
will simply come a point at which the economy as we understand it now
cannot function - we will see the modern equivalents of breadlines and
stockbrokers selling apples on the streets.

2. Many plans for infrastructure investments currently being
proposed will never be completed, and many may never be started,
because the US may be unable to borrow the money to fund
them.  The price of globalization will be high in terms of reduced
availability of funds and resources - despite all the people who think
that we’ll keep building things during a collapse, we won’t.  We will
have some variation on a Green New Deal in the US and some nations will
continue to work on renewable infrastructure, but a lot of us are going
to be getting along with the fraying infrastructure, designed for a
people able to afford a lot of cheap energy, that we have now.  The
most successful projects will be small, localized programs that
distribute resources as widely as possible. 

I pray that we will have the brains to ignore most other things and
set up some kind of health care system, one that softens the blows
here.  If not, we’re really fucked - the one thing most of us can’t
afford is medical care as it works now in a non-functioning economy. 
Unfortunately, my bet is that we don’t do something about this, but I
hope to God I’m wrong.

3. 2009 will be the year that most of the most passionate climate
activists (and I don’t exclude myself) have to admit that there is
simply not a snowball’s chance in hell (and hell is getting toastier
quickly) that we are going to prevent a 2C+ warming of the planet.  We
are simply too little, too late.  That does not mean we will give up on
everything - the difference between unchecked emissions and checked
ones is still the difference between life and death for millions -  but
hideously, regretfully and painfully, the combination of our growing
understanding of where the climate is and the economic situation will
force us to begin working from the reality that the world we leave our
children is simply going to be more damaged, and our legacy smaller and
less worthy of us than we’d ever hoped. 

4. 2008 will probably be the world’s global oil peak, but we won’t
know this for a while.  When we do realize it, it will be
anticlimactic, because we’ll be mired in the consequences of our
economic, energy and climate crisis.  Lack of investment in the coming
years will mean that in the end, more oil stays in the ground, which is
good for the climate, but tough for our ambitions for a renewable
energy economy.  Over the long term, however, peak oil is very much
going to come back and bite us all in the collective ass.

5. Decreased access to goods, services and food will be a reality
this year.  Some of this will be due to stores going out of business -
we may all have to travel further to meet needs.  Some will be due to
suppliers going under, following the wave of merchant bankruptcies. 
Some may be due to disruptions in shipping and transport of supplies. 
Some will be due to increased demand for some items that have, up until
now, been niche items, produced in small numbers for the small number
of sustainability freaks, but that now seem to have widespread
application.  And some may be due to deflation - farmers may not be
able to harvest crops because they can’t get enough for them to pay for
the harvest, and the connections between those who have goods and those
who need goods may be thoroughly disrupted.  Meanwhile, millions more
Americans will be choosing between new shoes and seeing the doctor.

6. Most Americans will see radical cut backs in local services and
safety nets.  Funding will simply dry up for many state and local
programs. Unemployment will be overwhelmed, and the federal government
will have to withdraw some of its commitments simply to keep people
from starving in the streets.  Meanwhile, expect to see the plows stop
plowing, the garbage cease to be collected, and classrooms to have 40+
kindergarteners to a class - and potentially a three or four day school

7. Nations will overwhelmingly fail to pony up promised commitments
to the world’s poor, and worldwide, the people who did the least harm
to the environment will die increasingly rapidly of starvation.  This
will not be inevitable, but people in the rich world will claim it is.

8. We will finally attempt to deal with foreclosures, but the
falling value of housing will make it a losing proposition.  Every time
we bring the housing values down to meet the reality, the reality will
shift under our feet. Many of those who are helped will end up
foreclosed upon anyway (as is already the case) and others will simply
see no point in paying their mortgage when, by defaulting, they could
qualify for lowered payments (as is already the case).  Ultimately, the
issue will probably self resolve in either some kind of redistribution
plan that puts people in foreclosed houses with minimal mortgaging,
with foreclosures dragging down enough banks that people find it
feasible to simply stop paying mortgages that are now unenforceable, or
with civil unrest that leads people simply to take back housing for the
populace.  I don’t have a bet on which one, and I don’t think it will
be resolved in 2009. 

9. By the end of the year, whether or not we will collapse or have
collapsed will continue to be hotly debated by everyone who can still
afford their internet service.  No one will agree on what the
definition of collapse actually is, plenty of people will simply be
living their old lives, only with a bit less, while others will be
having truly apocalyptic and deeply tragic losses.  Some will see the
victims as lazy, stupid, alien and worthless, no matter how many there
are.  Others will look around them and ask “how did I not see that this
was inevitable?”  Many people will be forced to see that the poor are
not a monolith of laziness and selfishness when they become poor.  We
will know that we are in our situation only in retrospect, only in
hindsight - our children will have a better name for the experience
than we will, caught up in our varied personal senses of what is
happening  Meanwhile, each time things get harder most of us will
believe they are at the bottom, that things are now “normal” and adapt,
until it becomes hard to remember what our old expectations were.

10. Despite how awful this is, the reality is that not everything
will fall apart.  In the US, we will find life hard and stressful, but
we will also go forward.  People will suck a lot up and retrench.  It
will turn out that ordinary people were always better than commentators
at figuring out what to do - that’s why they stopped shopping even
while people were begging them to keep buying.  So they’ll move in with
their siblings and grow gardens and walk away from their overpriced
houses, or fight to keep them.  Some of them will suffer badly for it,
but a surprising number of people will simply be ok in situations that
until now, they would have imagined were impossible to survive.  We
will endure, sometimes even find ways of loving our new lives.  There
will be acts of remarkable courage and heroism, and acts of the most
profound evil and selfishness.  There will be enormous losses - but we
will also discover that most of us are more than we think we are - can
tolerate more and have more courage and compassion than we believe of

She was pretty accurate with her 2008 predictions:


1. This year, the words “peak oil” will go mainstream, but this
mainstreaming will not be matched by a subtle or nuanced understanding
of what the words mean. That is, peak oil will be used for political
purposes, and not necessarily ones anyone will approve of.

- I called this one.  As oil prices rose, CNN and the rest of the
MSM couldn’t get enough of PO poster boys Simmons and Kunstler.  But,
of course it wasn’t really possible to create, in that media, a complex
enough understanding for people to realize that peak oil hasn’t gone
away just because prices have collapsed, that, in fact, for the long
term, the collapse of prices probably ensures that we’re past peak oil. 

2. By the end of the year, there will begin to be runs on preparedness equipment and food storage, a la Y2K.

- It wasn’t quite as dramatic in the equipment department as Y2K,
although woodstoves and electric bikes were backordered like crazy. 
But the big story was people fighting over bags of rice at Costco and
other stores back in the spring. And unfortunately, for other reasons,
I think we may see this one again.  Called it.

3. The NeoCons will not go gently into that good night - there
will be at least one serious surprise for us. G-d willing, it won’t
involve the word “nukuler” or any of its cognates.

- I’d give myself 50% on this one - I think the build up with Russia
was indeed a final Neo-con attempt to make themselves seem like the
best answer to a scary world (and Alaska as our DMZ), but it wasn’t as
dire as I feared.

4. Hillary will not win the 2008 election. Neither, despite all
the people who keep sending me emails saying he will, will Ron Paul.

- Got it.
5. The economy will tank. Yup, I’m really going out on a limb here.

- Got it.

6. Many of us will find we are being taken more seriously than
we ever expected. We will still be taken less seriously than any
celebrity divorce, however.

- This was certainly true for me - I don’t really know how John
Michael Greer, Kunstler and Orlov, for example, felt about it, but I
was surprised at how seriously my predictions were taken, and how few
people thought I was over-reacting, even when doing, say ABC affiliate
radio interviews.  But, of course, there are limits to seriousness
- fairly few people really critiqued the worldview, but comparatively
few people paid attention, either.  

7. We’ll see food riots in more nations and hunger will increase. The idea of Victory Gardens won’t seem so crazy anymore.

 - Yup.  31 nations and counting had some form of food riot this
year.  And Michael Pollan wrote “Farmer in Chief” and the “White House
Farm” idea hit the blogosphere.

8. The biofuels craze will begin to be thought the better of - not in time to prevent the above.

- Called it.  The collapse of oil prices of course is doing its own
work, but even before that, we were finally seeing serious questioning
of the premise of biofuels hit national discourse, at least in Europe.

9. We will see at least one more image of desperate people,
walking out of their city becuase there’s no other alternative. And a
lot of images of foreclosures.

Part one of this is the only one I got wrong, and that only partly. 
People were walking out of Houston, and a whole lot of people were
walking around looking for Gas in Memphis and Atlanta, but it didn’t
quite have the resonance of Katrina or 9/11 - the media wasn’t paying
attention, so it wasn’t the kind of iconic image that I was expecting. 
The second part I called.

10. TEOTWAKI, if it ever happens, will be delayed long enough
for my book to be released this fall and to make back at least the
advance, so my publisher won’t have any reason to try and sue me ;-). 

- I’m not sure, but I think I might have actually made back my
advance by now (all 4K of it), and my publisher is still in
business.  Who knows, I might actually make a pittance!


jerry_lee's picture
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 24 2008
Posts: 126
Re: 2009 Predictions - Sharon Astyk

I'm not sure 'Thanks for the post' is an accurate description of my sentiment after reading Sharon Astyk's words. Gratitude seems far away at this moment. Maybe, in the "To be forewarned is to be forearmed' department, I can say thanks. Her predictions in words so stark, pointed, blunt are necessary, I'm sure, to penetrate the shield of consensual denial.... even with all the stories,facts and dire interpretations slapping us in the face rapeatedly.

The last thing my wife said to me Saturday a.m. as she left for a weekend visit with her aunt was "I don't think hearing about all this all the time really does me any good." I was trying to report some 'new revelation' I'd just read here.

I hope the Crash Course DVDs arrive today.  Hopefully, I can use them to help form a community of awareness and action.

I am....thankful...for this site.

prhfs5's picture
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Re: 2009 Predictions - Sharon Astyk

Thanks for posting this Chris.  She is one of my favorite bloggers/writers as well.  I'm halfway through her book, Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front, and have found her writing to be very poignant yet comforting at the same time.  I recommend this book for any parent, or anyone for that matter, that is worried about what the future has in store for us.


switters's picture
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Posts: 744
Re: 2009 Predictions - Sharon Astyk
prhfs5 wrote:

Thanks for posting this Chris.  She is one of my favorite bloggers/writers as well.  I'm halfway through her book, Depletion and Abundance: Life On The New Home Front, and have found her writing to be very poignant yet comforting at the same time.  I recommend this book for any parent, or anyone for that matter, that is worried about what the future has in store for us.


Mrs. M,

You're welcome!  I've read Depletion & Abundance and I enjoyed it a lot.  I've also benefited from Sharon's highly practical tips on preparing for collapse.  She's one of the few writers who sees both the forest and the trees.  I really appreciate that about her.

She's got some online classes coming up on Food Storage, Adapting in Place and Garden Planning.  See here for more info.

Here are a few her recent posts to give everyone an idea of what she writes about:

How to save energy and money when cooking

Independence days update

Friday food storage quickie: breads and seeds

Reasons to stay together in tough times (on the lighter side)


switters's picture
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Posts: 744
Re: 2009 Predictions - Sharon Astyk
jerry_lee wrote:

The last thing my wife said to me Saturday a.m. as she left for a weekend visit with her aunt was "I don't think hearing about all this all the time really does me any good." I was trying to report some 'new revelation' I'd just read here.


I can empathize with your wife.  It's scary to hear about this stuff, especially when there's no clear vision of how to respond.  And of course we can only do so much as individuals, as there are so many factors outside of our immediate control.

I've found in my own experience that as I become more clear on what steps I will take to prepare for the turmoil, and begin to take those steps, the fear has lessened and I feel much more resilient.  I still have moments of fear, but they seem to pass through more quickly.  

I also make an effort to continue doing the things that bring me joy and fulfillment in the midst of all of this.  In a stressful situation (and learning about this stuff is stressful) it can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves, which in turn makes us more susceptible to stress and starts a viscious cycle that's tough to get out of.

We all have to determine our own thresholds for taking this in.  It doesn't serve anyone if we are so overwhelmed that we become paralyzed. On the other hand, we've come to a point in time where it may be necessary for us to leave our comfort zone in order to rise to the challenges we're facing.  This is the razor's edge.


ckessel's picture
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Posts: 486
Re: 2009 Predictions - Sharon Astyk


Thank for this post. I am not familiar with Sharon Astyk but will be soon enough.

Last night my wife and I were taking a walk and ironically discussing several of the issues Sharon delineates in her predictions for 2009.  I have goosebumps this morning in reading your post because of the commonality of perspective. Interestingly, my wife (and since we are into the age of identity I will refer to her as Sheri ! ) had some difficulty with the concepts as the reality of what it implied for our kids sank in. She will appreciate Sharons book i'm sure.

I tend to "promote" the ideas and concepts and often do not fully appreciate the effects it has on others, especially those close to me. I forget that I am seeking out the information but those I communicate to are receiving it because I have decided to present it. This is where community becomes vital as it involves others as sounding boards. 

But I diverge here. As regards community it seems that there are several in our general area that may want to consider getting together at some point. I'll just toss it out here and see where it goes. I have noticed that Kids Kargo I think lives East of Sacramento and I live in Sonora which is near Yosemite. I have been presenting the Crash Course to many and there has been interest in some sort of forum to discuss direction, etc. The catalyst for me along this line has been a 16 year old high school student that has decided to take on the CM course for his senior project. His mom mentioned it to me and how "freaked out" he was when he first did the course. Now he is into action on it and "wondering" how come people aren't doing anything about it. He was referring to people of his parents (our) generation.He obviously has identified a key problem!

Let me know if that is something you might be interested in.



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