EARTH WIND & FIRE*
note: RSC/WI, got your snail mail. Appreciated, yo! You da bomb.
I’m writing this a couple of days prior to Hurricane Irma hitting, in theory, Miami. By the time you read this whatever I say will be so outdated as to be irrelevant. Which I think is actually a good thing. If I was focused on writing strictly topical events I would be just like everyone else screaming at the top of my lungs that the CME will fry all our electronics and effect our brain functions even through all the tinfoil ( hey, you have to breath, right? Right there, the failing of all such protective devices ) and every hurricane is likely to blow all of us off the map and every company bankruptcy will crash the economy and Amazon is taking over the economy and since a central bank junior partner uttered some bullspit that must mean finally after eight years the banking sector will really crash this time for sure, and the doom porn just keeps on piling higher and higher which is the whole point since then nobody will really, honest Injun truly panic but just grow numb and catatonically unresponsive.
By having to appear to actually have something to say two weeks after an event, I’m trying to see things big picture rather than assume I can prophesize the demise. Okay, I actually do that. All the time. I just hope I keep things vague enough I don’t look like one of the doomer sites that have a new civilization crashing event every other day, usually tied to the bible and the positions of the celestial bodies. I’m trying for seasonal weather here rather than attempting to figure out if it will rain today or not. I am going to say, prior to the hurricane landfall, that nothing fundamentally is going to change. The storm will hit, lots of folks will lose money and then things just pretty much return to normal. Just like with Hurricane Harvey. Everybody was busy forecasting the entire economy of the continent was going to crash as all the oil refineries were flooded and destroyed and then…nothing really changed. That should have been obvious as the regions swamps have had refineries there for longer than we could see hurricanes coming and so you could probably factor in the areas propensity for flooding long ago before Gore Warming. I didn’t see the hurricane effects one way or another-no effect or severe catastrophe. Which is another benefit of looking at the collapse civilization wide rather than event specific.
I wonder if the Gore Warming meme isn’t responsible for all this overreaction to every potential act of Mother Nature. Everyone is bound and determined that we are warming and it is all the fault of carbon emissions ( say the doomers who are busy driving to and fro ) and we are all going to die, and it might even be true. It could also be true that all this weather craziness is nothing other than the simple explanation that the earths population exploded during a half century of very uncharacteristically benign weather and now we are returning to the more regular normal chaotic weather. By dancing naked around the Gore Warming bonfire, beseeching the gods of government to stop the insanity of carbon fuel use ( did I mention everyone arrived to the dance in their motor vehicle? ), these people delude themselves with the happy thought that we can actually stop the disaster we created. But isn’t the thought that we have no control just a tiny bit scarier?
And here’s another aspect of these disasters ( earth-a earthquake of eight point something in lower Mexico that everyone ignored because it is just little brown people and rich brown people in Miami were going to get hit with a hurricane-wind-and that is more newsworthy, and fire-the entire West burning up yet again from drought ) that is ignored as we instead focus on daily Gore Warming Proof. The reason nothing is being catastrophic or earth shattering or decisive in taking down the economy is because all this destruction is actually good for us. Not that old chestnut about The Broken Window economic boom. One side says a broken window is good for the economy since it forces labor and goods to be created and the other side says we need the surplus energy and finances to fix the window in the first place. No, that is a seventy year old economic model that is no longer applicable. Back then, yes, sending all our ore to the bottom of the sea and all our oil up in the air from combustion was good for the economy. We wasted resources to put folks to work, after nobody was working because of overcapacity. It worked then. When we had an obscene surplus. The only surplus we have now is digital ones and zeros kept alive by fracking gas electrical power.
No, all these natural disasters are great for reducing the amount of infrastructure we have, which we no longer have the surplus energy ( in EROI terms-try to keep up here. Some acronyms are too important NOT to know. No, I don’t mean BOGO, Buy One Get One half off, I mean Energy Return On Energy Invested, or far less fancy and easier to understand, net energy ) to maintain. That right there is the perfect answer as to why all this destruction hasn’t kicked our ass this last decade. The military is downsizing its inventory by destroying it over in Afghanistan and the country is downsizing its power hungry infrastructure by attrition and natural disasters. This is how we are coping with less net energy being available. While large swaths of housing is abandoned in New Orleans and Detroit, we replace them with more energy efficient apartments or cheaper to build mobile homes for their unemployed Section Eight recipients ( foreign readers: Section 8 is free government housing in the form of rent vouchers. Public housing doesn’t earn any money for the private sector and is a drain on police manpower as all the crime is concentrated, so the rent welfare folks are spread out over the whole area. The government goes from building, maintaining and patrolling buildings to merely printing money and outsourcing that activity ).
All those folks worried about that conspiracy of the UN to force everyone into the cities ( I can’t remember the name, but I liken it to the worry over contrails )? It seems the actual activity is to allow the cities to decay and letting everyone relocate to the suburbs. This isn’t as bizarre as it sounds ( why place folks further apart? Wouldn’t that use MORE energy? ). Far fewer folks are working, so even if everyone has a car and is driving it they aren’t driving it as much. Everyone stays in debt owning a car but welfare money manages that. The government putting people on welfare helps big business and the banks -that is the only money velocity we are seeing in many areas-and you can yell and scream in Rush Limbaugh approved moral outrage over it but if the corporations see a benefit from something it won’t stop. Apartments in the suburbs is where all the growth is, and that is less energy intensive than refurbishing old urban buildings that were made from real materials and need the addition of such to remain habitable. New building materials are the equivalent of plastic parts replacing metal, and it is more “efficient“ to heat or cool a literal plastic box as neither the pollutants nor the climate can as easily escape.
And if folks don’t really drive around all that much ( even at $2 a gallon, how much gas can you buy if you don’t have much money left over on welfare or after even with a middle class paycheck you are forced to buy health insurance? ), how much of an energy hit are you assuming, even if they are far flung in the suburbs? Less natural gas, less electricity and less oil are needed in net nation wide. The urban cluster to save energy is an unnecessary strategy, and a pointless conspiracy to worry on. Just like you overly worry about all the fast food places around ( oh, it ruins our health, oh it ruins the rainforest ). How else do you feed all those suburban masses? Eating at home is convenience foods, frozen pizza and Doritos, and eating out is convenience foods at fast food joints. Do you know where you can easily buy convenience foods, with Food Stamps? That’s correct, the neighborhood gas station or Pakistani owned liquor store. Folks in the suburbs don’t even NEED a car and they can go out and get their food. Their apartment gives them everything else they need to survive ( Netflix is po’boy cable, a public infrastructure subsidy to keep those on welfare cheaply entertained ). Perhaps, to a very small degree ( the larger degree is laziness and focus on decadence ), fast food and convenience food is the suburb car-less eating strategy.
High rental and housing prices are the bankers number one profit center, but they also are a stimulus forcing people to find unconventional shelter, which, again, feeds into the dwindling energy use paradigm. But let’s return to this articles main point of natural disasters helping the economy. Not through extra rebuilding activity but reducing infrastructure maintenance. When New Orleans lost half its population, and half its housing infrastructure, the people affected moved elsewhere. They found existing housing. In net, shelter was REMOVED from the energy input equation. Just as no jobs are being created for all the new immigrants and newly graduated job seekers, not enough housing is being constructed to cover the supposed new demand a growth in population would warrant. Existing shelter is housing the increase. And every time a natural disaster takes houses out of the equation, they find somewhere to live in already existing units. In energy demand terms, storm damage is a blessing. The existing supply of energy is stretched out just a bit further.
People move back home with their parents, or get roommates, or old large houses are subdivided into apartments or old beater abandoned mobile homes are refurbished and once again inhabited. We look at all this through a financial lens, as if high rental prices and unemployment account for it all, but what is driving the high prices? Not JUST banker greed, but also energy costs. Not the retail cost, which is low in asking price but high in terms of cost of living as wages shrink, but the net available energy. Neither materials, or energy, is available to rebuild what is damaged. Damaged by winds or floods or fire or even simply the economic destruction of globalization. The economy hollowed out Detroit and the entire Rustbelt forty years ago, the infrastructure back then seeing little investment just for maintenance, and even with all the banker printed money in the world we now seem to have, there isn’t enough actual physical material to rebuild. As Mother Nature destroys even more, there isn’t the energy or material to replace that, either. But it’s destruction helps lower our required energy, and that is a good thing. Since energy production declines every year. Let’s hope for MORE hurricanes!
END ( today's related link http://amzn.to/2eNOndj )
* By the by, all my writing is copyrighted. For the obtuse out there
Tomorrow 9/23 is predicted to be the end of the world because some celestial star cluster will be in the sky over Jerusalem. Happy End of the World Day!!! As a teen I got sucked into several of these ridiculous prophecies and fully expected that I wouldn't live long into my 20's. Here I am in my 40's and they're still making the same outlandish predictions with no end in sight. I've learned to just take it all with a smile.ReplyDelete
P.S. I live near Cleveland and the city recently raised the water bill because, get this, the population has shrunk to the point where the people aren't using enough water to bill out to cover the cost of the infrastructure! Go figure.
No let's not have more hurricanes ! I'm going to be cleaning up after Irma for the next month !ReplyDelete
In the twenty years that I've lived here, this was by far the worst ! Even tho the eye was clear over in Tampa as it passed our local. We had six tornadoes touch down in this country alone, and one only a half mile away. Tho my weather station here at the house only registered a Max of 94 mph wind...only lol.
I had several six inch limbs punch thru my car port roof. A roof that I had just fixed after last year's whirly girl.
At least it looks like Maria is going to miss us. The wind part anyway. With the size of these storms this year, one is not safe even two hundred miles out from the center.
Without a doubt the years hurricanes are the largest in circumference EVAR ! Let alone in strength. And here the season is only half over...
Because Baby Jesus love me above all others...I moved from FL just before the hurricanes changed fundamentally...worked at a casino & got great tips just before the economy started sucking...and moved here two or three months to the BIG crash, AND right before the rainfall totals started increasing. Knock on wood.Delete