I've been in the garden every day, the last week, 6-12 hours a day. I needed it. Not only did I spend more time than that every week the three weeks prior, remodeling my house, I've come to a dilemma, again. The last two days especially, I've come to an end of sorts; I see the world more clearly now, and what I see has left me bereft, and all my plans for the future seem as nothing in the face of the enormity of it.
We are seven billion Homo sapien sapien and counting. For a long time now, America and the Western nations have lived a very energy and resource intensive lifestyle, and there are about 2 billion more who are wanting and increasingly able to live like Westerners. At the same time, we have reached a peak of resources in both fossil fuels and water. They say we are going to be 9 billion in 2050, but I no longer believe it. That sounds like propaganda, to keep us thinking growth is inevitable as long as we are alive. I think we're very close to a peak in population as well.
Also, the global economy is showing increasingly profound signs of decay, with an immense amount of debt which anyone not overly invested in the illusion that those debts be paid, can plainly see they won't. As evidence of a collapsing economy, consider the case of Facebook, that rigged 16 billion dollar IPO that no one even pretended would generate a job, that evaporated twice-over in two days time, people perhaps realizing, there was never going to be any more growth for Facebook that could possible be good for a social network.
As for global debt, usury isn't anything at it's core but some people living on the labor of others, with ever increasingly intolerant demands of payment, and ever egregious accumulation at the top. Usury has helped propel us to a view of the material cosmos, but it has led also, in combination with the burning of fossil carbons, to the exponential function as applied to population and what we consume. On top of that, it has all been defined by a patriarchal, command and control doctrine in it's worst familial, empirical, institutional and religious aspects.
And now we have, globally 4** nuclear facilities, all of them on rivers or standing water close to population centers, untold nuclear weapons in scattered placement, and perhaps 10's of thousands of off-shore oil wells. Therein lies the crux of my dilemma. I don't see how we are going to properly shut down and contain most if not all of them. Together, they have the ability to end life as we know it, and leave humanity, if there is any left, in a wasteland of sterility. We have made ourselves profoundly vulnerable, and yet I check my Facebook account, that social network helping unite the consciousness of Homo sapien sapien, and I don't see a glimmer of awareness how.
Leaving aside the possibility of a meteorite or earthquake or volcano initiating tectonic instability globally, or the sun destroying the global electrical grid, or seas rising suddenly 20-30 ft, all known possibilities, we'll simply focus on the economy. As I said in my most recent drunken lament, those nuclear and off-shore oil facilities sustain the economy/the economy sustains them. Our fiat currency has reached it's logical conclusion; there is nothing left but plunder and collapse. Looking at a pdf I found googling off-shore oil facilities, from the oil platform design company KBR, I was astounded at the sheer amount of energy invested in the process of drilling for oil. Where is the energy to come from, to decommission that astounding infrastructure, so that all those holes we punched in high pressure, under water oil reservoirs, don't all eventually bust open and flood the sea with oil?
If the collapse is a free-fall, Seneca-style precipitous drop, as outlined by Ugo Bardi, rather than the posited catabolic, step-down process over centuries, as outlined by John Michael Greer, then just about every one of those facilities will go down with it. That is an extreme scenario, but entirely possible. Even in a step down process, I see a good deal more social pressure to keep aging facilities running, than shutting them down responsibly. To shut any one of them down is to constrict the economy. If the economy is contracting, where do the resources come from to properly shut down facilities that simply aren't needed anymore?
Don't even bother talking to me about free-energy. Aside from the improbability of it, free-energy let loose in this culture could only exacerbate the likelihood of our extinction. And renewables are a fantasy if you aren't also talking about a fundamentally simplified existence for the West, and fundamentally diminished aspirations of extravagance, for everybody.
Weeds increasingly resistant to chemicals, invading industrial agricultural fields; increasingly antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses, poised to exploit the collapse of industrial Health Care; American's current health care demands far out-pacing the willingness of the wealthy to pay for it; harsher, extreme weather causing ever more expensive damage; debt rising faster than economic growth; peaking critical resources.
The more I think about it, the Mayans got it right. I think a 5,126 year cycle comes to an end, this year. 5,126 years of usury, and patriarchal command and control domination, that has led us to the very brink of apocalyptic devastation. 2013 isn't going to be anything like anyone expects, and every year after will feel less and less like the future we imagined. And I don't know that isn't going to mean eventually, a relative handful of homo sapien sapien living a life of meager, ignorant poverty in a sterilized biosphere, for tens of thousands of generations. Homo existentialus.
I hope instead it means a people renewing a relationship with the earth, with plants particularly, letting go of the energy provided by oil and nuclear with dignity, restoring the culture in rhythm with the living earth. It's a choice we all have. What do you want the next 5,126 years to look like? That work starts with you, now, at the core of your being. If this is indeed the requiem for Homo industrial, there is nothing else to be done.
In the interest of the curiously dark trend I would appear to be on, and in respect to the plant kingdom, and how plants might help us through industrial collapse, I'll be profiling the family Nightshade, with the next post.