Friday, August 29, 2014

petroleum population


The Druid Dude is on fire these last few weeks ( he never writes poorly, but there are long stretches of time he writes on subjects of no interest to me ) with a new series on what physical changes are likely to happen in North America during the collapse as the Oil Age draws down.  Coastal areas will be further inland due to climate change, desertification will spread and intensify, large zones will be infertile due to industrial toxins and nuclear plant fallout, etc.  This week was a talk on depopulation and I was rather impressed with it.  Alas, I still strongly disagree with his “long, slow collapse” paradigm.  Yes, population took 150 years to decrease 95% in Rome and the Mayan empires ( as far as we know- very few written records were left after the European Dark Ages and none from Central America.  My guess is all the paper was used for wiping asses, but perhaps it was just the libraries burning down ).  And, yes, the Soviet Empire has had a drastic population decrease and failing life expectancy ( although nowhere near total ) so you might think that we would follow any of the three’s lead.  But yeast suckling at the vat of nutrients don’t work like that.  History should be heeded insofar as whether empires collapse, not as far as the timeline for doing so.  The global economy and infrastructure is just-in-time and overly complicated.  Grid down can lead to starvation if fuel doesn’t deliver groceries because there are no longer local farms ( to be clear, I’m not talking specific disasters other than Petroleum Dependence ).


The Romans and the Mayans had the luxury of time to collapse because their disaster was overpopulation WITH local production.  Our coming collapse is due to overpopulation WITHOUT local food production.  They are not the same thing ( the Soviets had an economic collapse, NOT an ecological collapse- so it was far from as severe as past empires disappearing ).  Granted, Rome saw a lot of intra-empire trade in foodstuffs.  Not every single village was surrounded by fields.  But that was the norm, the exceptions proving the rule.  Luxuries were traded, not necessarily basics.  Today, basics are traded globally ( rather than grain reserves or land banks, we see overseas trade as our emergency back-ups ).  Even land close to production needs huge amounts of oil to get the food there, processed, refrigerated and dispersed to consumers.  Roman and Mayan suspended trade due to collapse effected some but not all areas.  Today, all the teeming urban masses are fed from many thousands of miles away.  Not only is nobody producing locally, nobody is trading in small distances.  The shrinking oil supply will see production falling, and less food getting to cities.  Globally.  It won’t take anywhere near 150 years to have a 95% die-off.  That’s actually better news for the hunkered down and prepared.  Bad news for the Organic Asparagus Survival Strategists. 

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  1. The slow collapse math does show how fragile population can be. Small trends over a couple generations and the population plummets.

    1. I agree with Greer on the results already occurring reversing the trend- but I still see a drastic sudden cliff plunge.

  2. Preppers and Suvivalists will have to not believe that the worst is behind us after the first stage die off(s) for this reason:
    Most waterfalls are 'step' water falls. Some white water on a steep slope, then a sudden plunge then a bit of calm then another often bigger plunge , repeated a number of times. Sometimes concluding in one huge plunge and sometimes just returning to smooth placid waters. Our population decline will probably be like the step water falls IF we don't decide to do ourselves in en-mass (aka all out nuke/bio/chem war). The demise of the 'baby boomers' generation will be the first rapids and step down. Possibly linked to a plague like 20% fatality ebola (it will be that low a fatality rate in the first world after mutating so that it doesn't burn itself out too quick).
    The overall trend over the next few centuries HAS TO be a smaller human population on the face of the earth. No matter how we get there.
    And if we are like most populations, our population will have to fall below the average carrying capacity for at least a generation or two. Globally this means at least a decline to less than 2 billion people. We are currently headed toward 10 billion - hopefully we wont get there.