By Guy R. McPherson
15 February, 2010
Guy McPherson Blog
According to economists, the beauty of globalization is worldwide access to materials and cheap (or free) labor to bring the materials to powerful countries. We provide garbage, pollution, and low wages — or, in the “best” cases we enslave workers — and we obtain materials and finished goods. This is the rising economic tide that floats all boats.
We are witnessing the economic down side of globalization. When the tide goes out on one part of the empire, it drags the rest of the empire down, too. In fact, when a lifeguard swims out to save a drowning man, the drowning man’s first reaction is to grab the lifeguard by the head and push down. This allows the drowning man to rise up and gobble a few breaths of water-free air, but it threatens to drown him and his savior.
At this juncture in the industrial age, we have two tired, one-armed lifeguards and a handful of victims. All eyes are on Greece — fittingly, the birthplace of western civilization — but Greece, which naturally turned to Goldman Sachs to try to hide its debt, is one tiny canary in a coal mine the size of Earth. Even as hope builds for some combination of Germany and France to save Greece, the entire Euro zone is going up in flames. Here in the homeland, seven states are drowning in financial waters deeper and choppier than the Mediterranean Sea. And the squeaks from those seven states cannot be heard over the din from every other state in the country, much less every country in the industrialized world. Seems a Greek crisis is coming to America. In the words of Chris Hedges, we’ve reached the zero point of systemic collapse. Along with Mickey Z, Hedges offers a few ways to resist the omnicidal dominant culture and save what’s left of our humanity.
Meanwhile, it has become generally known that it is mathematically impossible to pay off the U.S. debt, as I reported several months ago (more figures are available here, and the U.S. Debt Clock is always worth a look). And, lest you think there is help on the way, the sovereign debt crisis is just getting started, along with the collapse in commercial real estate.
The U.S. reflects mortgage holders, hopelessly underwater. The mortgage holders should be walking away, according to at least one professor of law. Unlike the mortgage holders, the U.S. cannot walk away, even though an economic recovery is hopeless at this point. And the U.S. is merely one of many countries hopelessly underwater. The global debt time bomb goes off soon, as even Europe and the U.S. will default. Even MarketWatch has begun, finally, to call this event the economic apocalypse. It’s too late for economic salvation, even as Business Insider understates the economic news, writing we’re somewhere between dire and disastrous.
Even as the greatest economic implosion in world history accelerates, the underlying cause — peak oil — remains chronically under-reported. Nonetheless, Sir Richard Branson finally is warning that the peak-oil crunch will be worse than the credit crunch (thereby failing to recognize the importance of the former in creating the latter), the Wall Street Journal is warning us to prepare for peak oil, and British oil companies and CEOs are sounding the alarm. These numbskulls have failed to notice we’re passed peak, and that it’s too late for societal-level preparations. The U.K. Telegraph is making fun of people who make personal preparations for peak oil and its economic consequences, but their laughter seems a little nervous to me. Even with the vaunted war machine, the ability of the U.S. to import oil is dwindling: Saudi Arabia has slipped from our number two supplier to number four while the new number two provider, Mexico, is in oil-supply free-fall.
Apparently failing to notice where empires go to die, the U.S. military has powered up the surge in Afghanistan even as the Pentagon admits U.S. taxpayers are forking over $400 for each gallon of gasoline used there. And most Americans think five bucks a gallon is an outrage when they pay it directly.
Guy R. McPherson is Profesor Emeritus at the University of Arizona. Educated in the ecology and management of natural resources, his early scholarly efforts produced many publications of little lasting importance. In mid-career, he began to focus on development and creative application of ecological theory, primarily with an eye toward conservation of biological diversity. Currently, his scholarly efforts focus on social criticism, with results that appear most frequently on newspaper op-ed pages. In addition, he facilitates research by students and he prepares synthetic documents focused on articulation of the links between (1) environmental protection, social justice, and the human economy and (2) science and its application. These efforts have produced more than 100 scholarly papers and nine books.
He Blogs at http://guymcpherson.com