Sunday, January 23, 2011

Malthusian Collapse

Malthusian collapse is, in short, the point a society reaches when its luxurious spending and lust for entertainment overwhelm available resources, bring its economy to a halt, and basically topple the society, which falls all the faster due to its top-heavy economic state.

The western world is probably headed for this.  The United States is definitely headed for this.  Nobody in the US seems to want to really talk about it, though:

-We have the mainstream conservatives, who refuse to look more than 5 years in the future, and only at their own nice houses, cars, and televisions at that.  Deny global climate change, practically celebrate the American dependence on foreign oil, and strive to do nothing more than to protect their own standard of living.

-We have the mainstream liberals, who believe themselves to be forward-thinking, but honestly only think about 10 years ahead.  Okay, protect the environment a little, maybe.  Invest in alternative energy... slightly.  The most important thing, though, is that everyone in the US, nay, in the world be brought up to the standard of living currently enjoyed by white middle-class americans.  Never considering whether or not this would be sustainable.  In addition, a penchant for big government, which is undeniably inneficient.

-We have the far-right, which argues about sustainability but actually is more concerned with the nation following to the letter a 200-year-old document written by men who thought that the ideal economy was based on slave labor.  The idea is we let each state decide individually how to destroy itself.

-We have the far-left, which is such a mishmash of political idealogy that it can't decide between flower-child anarchy and totalitarian communism.  Some would gladly destroy all of humanity to save the whales or rainforest or polar bears.  Some would slaugher the rich in order to raise the standard of living of the poor.  The is talk about sustainability and the collapse on this side, but not consistently.  This group is not cohesive enough to ever agree to have prolonged dialogue about such things.

-And in the middle of it all, we have fundamentalist chistianity, the most damaging ideology of all.  Jesus is comin' around any day now, so why bother fixing the world's problems?  Besides, some big-time religious shmuck once talked about how god made the earth sufficient for all of his children and more (and, of course, at a high standard of living.)  In fact, large families are god's mandate to his people, so don't limit your families.  The fantastic increase in world population is all god's plan.  Also, why talk about this stuff, when gays want to sign a piece of paper that says they get certain tax breaks?  When women are holding jobs?  And when there is a WAR ON CHRISTMAS!  Brothers and sisters, we should expend our resources fighting these and other of Satan's evil social trends, rather than worrying about whether our grandchildren will kill eachother over cans of pork and beans as the cities burn.

I'm not saying that this is the only issue people should take on, because it isn't.  But we should probably talk about it more.  Unfortunately, this subject is routinely ignored.  Conservatives plug their ears the moment it comes up, liberals are satisfied with piddling gestures in the direction of sustainability, fundamentalist christians are frankly nuts, and anyone who wants to talk about the possibility of collapse is regarded as a nut-job.  Politicians wouldn't dream of it, because it'd be political suicide.

And I am no better, of course.  I drive around town in a hybrid car, sure, but it still uses plenty of oil.  I use electricity and gas in my home with abandon.  I watch tv and movies without thinking about the enourmous spending thrown at these frivolous industries that only consume.  I cut the gristly parts off my chicken breasts because I can always get more chicken, and I throw out stale cereal because it's gross.  And I am a student with what would be considered, in this country, a rather humble lifestyle.

I don't even know what I can do to avoid the images in my head of rioting in the streets, collapse of all order, and death of more than 2/3 of the population of the United States, complete with neighbors shooting eachother for food and maybe even some cannibalism here and there!  Our agriculture depends on oil and industrially-produces pesticides and fertilizers (not to mention refrigeration and distribution), so food is gonna be a problem.

Our lifestyle is not sustainable, and nobody is doing anything about it.  Drastic changes would be required to turn things around now, and nobody is going to make those until it is totally clear that things are going bad.  And that will be too late.  Your food storage isn't going to help you.  Better not tell anyone about it, actually.  Society isn't going to restart itself in 12 months, and in the meantime a lot of hungry people with guns, clubs, knives, and nothing to lose are going to be scouring your neighborhood for every last can of Spaghetti-Os.

We.  Are.  Screwed.

1 comment:

  1. I just loved this post and laughed out loud. (I choose to go down laughing.)