Friday, October 01, 2010

Life can be very simple...

David Seaton's News Links
Sometimes the most important things in life are so simple that people hardly ever think about them. Human beings get out of bed and before they are even half awake they take a pee and a drink of water and rarely think that if there were no water to drink, there shortly would be nothing to pee, and if this state of affairs continued for even a few days they would simply dry up dead and blow away.

Like I say, sometimes life is very simple.

With that simplicity in mind, read this snippet from BBC News:
About 80% of the world's population lives in areas where the fresh water supply is not secure, according to a new global analysis. Researchers compiled a composite index of "water threats" that includes issues such as scarcity and pollution. The most severe threat category encompasses 3.4 billion people. (...) The analysis is a global snapshot, and the research team suggests more people are likely to encounter more severe stress on their water supply in the coming decades, as the climate changes and the human population continues to grow. "It's not about the future, but we would argue people should be even more worried if you start to account for climate change and population growth. (...)"Climate change is going to affect the amount of water that comes in as precipitation; and if you overlay that on an already stressed population, we're rolling the dice."
I bring this up, because we are seeing more and more warnings like this, of climate change and the increasing scarcity of resources, like oil to run the economy or like this one of water to drink. All of these point in the direction of the "zero-sum" world that I wrote about in a previous post.

We can contrast the snippet from the BBC with the following one from Martin Hutchinson at Prudent Bear:
Commodities, derided for decades as unimportant, have become scarce resources, to be guarded and managed with the utmost care. Conversely human labor and skill, on the basis of which the glories of human civilization were built, is entering into a state of gigantic glut.(...) In summary, in today’s world, commodities have become scarce and labor has become commoditized, unless fenced in by artificial restraints. With the global supply of commodities finite, this problem can only worsen if population is allowed to continue growing. A world with 10 billion people, all able to compete on an equal basis in a globalized labor market and desiring commodity-intensive modern mechanical marvels, would be a world of ever-increasing scarcity and impoverishment, besides its adverse environmental effects. Hence population reduction programs, aiming to reduce global population to a level at which labor once more becomes more valuable than commodities, should be given the highest priority at a global level. Otherwise, with the labor supply unlimited and the skills supply nearly so, and commodities supply relatively restricted, the only wealthy people will be those who own mines or oil wells. Martin Hutchinson - Prudent Bear
Between the two snippets we have the political situation, in America and in the world, in a nutshell.

I often read and enjoy the blogs of "doomsters" Dimitri Orlov and James Kunstler, but I find their view of a future, where people will live simple, self sufficient lives, growing their own vegetables and weaving and sewing the clothes they wear  a tad naive. The future I imagine is more like today's slums of Calcutta or Lagos Nigeria or Mexico City, or the favelas of Rio de Janeiro... miserable, stunted, short lived people crammed together, hungry, without education or health, while rich people and their bodyguards fly overhead in helicopters, hopping from one gated community to another. I don't think these people are ever going to run out of oil or air or water.... ever. DS


Publius said...

Don't you think that there will be a heterogeneous mix of social and economic results?
Regions and nations with traditions of egalitarianism will likely preserve a more equitable distribution of resources.
Parts of the USA will be highly stratified, other not so much, just like now. The ability of elites to loot will not be the same everywhere, even in the USA, because due to peak oil, their reach will also decrease. I foresee many areas where simple but good living just happens, because that's what the people do.

Others will descend into chaos that surrounds the gated villas...
Others will go through violent revolution or worse.
Time will tell...

oldfatherwilliam said...

There'll always be enough oil and coal for repression. The issue we're resolving now and immediately ahead is who represses whom. I see Calcuttas southerly and feudally operated agriculture in the sub-arctics, random outlawry elsewhere. There's certainly evidence for this historically and presently.

oldfatherwilliam said...

17th cent Spain = modern US?
Over my head, but.