The not-so-gradual collapse of empire
By Carolyn Baker
It should no longer be assumed that the "Long Emergency," as James Howard Kunstler has beautifully named it, will be long. Unfolding before our eyes in this past week has been the catastrophic manifestation of the consequences of Peak Oil and global warming in tandem.
Progressives rail at conservatives for dismissing the reality of global warming, and skeptics across the political spectrum accuse proponents of the Peak Oil theory of being duped by the oil industry. Tragically, nature herself has proven the absurdity of our wrangling and has demonstrated unequivocally that we no longer have the luxury of posturing ourselves against either issue like puerile members of a well-heeled, high-school debating society.
In this article, I will set out to "prove" neither the reality of Peak Oil nor global warming. Nature is doing that job quite nicely.
In fact, we have now reached a watershed moment in human history in which all issues other than the survival of humanity and the ecosystems are rapidly paling by comparison. While every conscious crusader against empire, from Cindy Sheehan to Hugo Chavez, must take a stand in the way he/she feels compelled, all must be willing to face the reality that empires do not suddenly cease conquering other nations, that presidents do not run nations, and that even if they did, clean elections no longer exist in the United States.
The inmates are in charge of the asylum, and they are hell-bent on conquest of the last remaining drops of oil on the planet—hell-bent on maintaining their power and that of the corporations who gave it to them, and they will do whatever is required to dominate the earth, including annihilating it. Name any issue except nuclear holocaust, and then measure it against the convergence of global warming and Peak Oil. All of humankind's ills, at this moment in history, ultimately intersect with the tragic juxtaposition of those two realities.
Psychopaths are now running the world. For four decades, they have ignored the truth about world oil supply, and thanks to their intransigent greed, we have passed the point of avoiding a global energy crisis. No combination of technology or materials can be constructed, tested, and implemented in time to avoid it. Even in the face of irrevocable energy meltdown, madmen like California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger veto solar energy power measures for the most populated state in America. But then psychopaths are often suicidal—or sometimes they have a plan for eliminating everyone in the asylum who isn't mad. Nothing is too bizarre or savage for them to consider.
In fact, the Katrina catastrophe may have been a creation of the Pentagon's High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP), a weapon of mass destruction that is capable of destabilizing the weather and ecology of entire regions of the earth. If the devastation in the Gulf Coast were such a creation, what a convenient way to spike gas prices overnight! A notion the anti-Peak Oil proponents may be entertaining at this moment while arguing that there is plenty of oil left on the planet, and that skyrocketing energy prices have nothing to do with Peak Oil but rather the abject greed of the oil industry.
I have been researching Peak Oil for some time, particularly the findings of petroleum geologists who have no connection with the industry. But three decades before we saw the term "Peak Oil" in print, the reality of catastrophic oil depletion, as a result of the consumption and population patterns of the United States and China, were impending and irrefutable certainties for which the bills are now coming due. Are the oil companies sucking every dime possible from oil depletion? Most certainly they are, and (not "but"), that does not invalidate the fact that no nation can maintain what the United States has been maintaining since the end of World War II on current oil supplies, which have become less abundant and more costly to acquire during the past five decades. Add to this the volatility of global warming and resultant climate change, and only an energy cataclysm can result.
But the larger picture, obviously, is what Peak Oil is putting on our plates—or taking off them, as the effects ripple through the economy. At the moment, it does not appear that the ripples will move slowly. Hurricane Katrina may have triggered a chain reaction that could result in an economic 9–11, and most certainly, the beginning of the end of the American empire.
Catherine Austin Fitts has conjectured that the demise of the empire might occur gradually as a "slow burn" or suddenly in the form of one domino after another toppling, producing virulent economic reverberations throughout the nation and the world.
One such strategic domino which is about to topple is the housing market, the bubble of which may burst at any moment. Subsequently, a long, cold winter with soaring natural gas home heating prices, may well produce an avalanche of falling dominoes. However it plays out, it behooves us to relinquish our teddy bear notions about American regime change and recognize the madness that is now driving national and world events.
For me, this means getting my personal and political priorities in order. Economic collapse and the devastation of Peak Oil require me to prepare my own household and my community in every way possible to navigate our formidable future. For some, it may mean co-housing, intentional communities, or other options for shared housing arrangements, but in every case, it means "Powering Down" (see Power Down, by Richard Heinberg) and learning to live with much less. For specifics on preparing for the ramifications of Peak Oil, see Matt Savinar's website, Life After the Oil Crash, and click on "Preparations." Also instructive is Dimitri Orlov?s three-part series on surviving the collapse of the Soviet Union.
By all means, feel free to protest the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Scream loudly that they are nothing more than petro-pillaging adventures based on scandalous lies. None of us could have been prepared for September 11, 2001, but just as the "map" of world events forever changed on that day, future historians will note that the United States entered the post-carbon era during the final week of August 2005.
As Mike Ruppert wrote earlier this week, "Katrina's landfall on August 29, 2005, may well be remembered as the beginning of the collapse of the American Empire. It could also be remembered by future generations as the day that Mother Earth declared full-scale war on the human race."