I keep wanting to say something about ‘current events’, or perhaps to be more clear, the ever accelerating deterioration of current events. But it’s a very difficult subject for me now.
But in practical fact, it may simply be too late to change anyone’s mind about anything, and even if they do, it may be too late for them to understand what needs to be done. And even if they do, if may be too late to actually do any of it. And even if it isn’t, what little can be done, may not matter much.
One of the hard truths of being a healer, no matter what kind of a healer you happen to be, is that you don’t fix problems without the cooperation of the involved party. It just doesn’t happen, and trying only drains and damages you, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Too much of the world is simply not involved in fixing what is going on. They have opted out of that possibility and like I say, it may be too late for some people to opt back in. So trying to fix something beyond what little sphere of consent you happen to operate in, is probably a tragic mistake.
This is not fatalism, or pessimism or cynicism. It simply is what it is. There will be more than enough exceptions to prove the rule. Unless something dramatically changes the established pattern of human behavior in extremely short order, much of the world is simply going to die.
How much of our existing food supply is inextricably tied to our fossil energy outputs? Let’s be charitable and say 70%. It’s probably closer to 80 or 90 actually, at this point, but let’s just err on the side of optimism.
The most absolutely conservative estimates in terms of decline in oil fields that have passed peak say a 3% loss of output, year on year is what we can expect. We already have examples of super giant fields that are closer to 5-10% a year. But again, let’s just say 3%. And we’ll just forget about demand increase altogether, which would probably yield a year on year net-shortfall of more like 6%.
Again, the most wildly optimistic estimates have it that if we had a working alternative liquid fuel source today, and we committed to retrofitting our infrastructure completely to this new source, it would take about 20 years to ramp up to anything like today’s production levels.
And finally, let’s be really optimistic and say that we haven’t actually hit the back of the oil production curve yet, and we still have a couple years before we go over the decline cliff. This would be ignoring basically all the evidence since 2005 that indicates we have already peaked, but I’ll be generous.
So starting in a couple years time, we would have our 3% energy shortfall, and let us again say that optimistically, this shortfall is allocated evenly across all regions and all sectors of use. There’s not the slightest fucking chance of that, my friends, but let’s all try and sleep tonight, what do you say?
So that’s a 3% loss of energy inputs to all food production and distribution, everywhere, in the first year. And let’s pretend that this will be a totally linear impact and that supply chains will not simply collapse, that farmers will not simply go bankrupt and abandon their plots, that economic instability will not close borders, or any number of things. I think we’ve already seen how in a hyper connected global system that you cannot contain chaos, and indeed, it infects everything around it at the speed of light.
The relation of energy inputs to caloric production is a bit nebulous, but again, I think I’m being quite optimistic here: let’s just imagine in a perfect world that everyone simply reduces their net caloric intake by 3%. I know for myself, that I’ve probably done that in the last year already, just in terms of certain foods that are getting beyond the price range I’m comfortable with. It’s a trivial, and probably healthy, loss, which I could replace, if I felt like spending the extra money, but the bottom line is, I need to spend more ‘energy’ to stay in the same place. And if this effect is steady and cumulative, sooner or later I couldn’t. Imagine what those people rioting over tortillas or soybeans are thinking. same line, different points.
I’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. For awhile. But how many people in the world are living on the edge of starvation already? How many people die when you slice their caloric intake by just 3% ( and let’s just remember that it’s probably more like 6%, if you spread it evenly, and upwards of 20% if we admit that it will be concentrated in certain areas, at least at first ) ? We’ve got around 40 000 starvation deaths per day already.
Now let’s compound it. Because every year if we’re lucky, for the next ten-twenty years at least, those energy inputs will continue to fall. After ten years, you and everyone else has had your caloric intake reduced by upwards of 30%, and after 20 years, 60%. The average westerner/european can still live on this but much of the rest of the world is simply gone.
The world average caloric intake is currently about 2700 calories per day. 1500 is pushing it and 1200 is in starvation mode. This is not complex math. the best case is that hundreds of millions of marginally-fed people are wiped out, year on year, for about 15-20 years. the worst case is the population gets cut by about half in 6-7 years, and we bottom out some where around pre-green revolution levels.
I may be overestimating this, but I’m not completely wrong. Like I say, I’ve fudged all these numbers wildly in the positive direction. If I am just missing something, I’d sure like to hear how and why. please, be my guest…