Wednesday, 9 November 2011

'Collapse'

There are writers out there who are saying that we are witnessing the collapse of the global financial system.

Just came across this guy, Michael Ruppert - watched a documentary about him and his theses. His last book was 'Collapse' (2010).

Haven't read his book, but listened to him, instead, in the documentary of the same name.

His argument (as I understood it) is that Peak Oil is the key to much (all?) global politics, and that the global financial system (not just America) is, in essence, a pyramid-selling scheme, where the principal product being traded around the world is derivatives (and derivatives of derivatives), where derivatives are complex packages of debts (e.g. mortgages).

So there are two principal problems.

The first is that the vast majority of the economy is fake (trade in debt), based on nothing tangible. What little real money exists, e.g. gold, dollar bills, is dwarfed by the 'money' (fabricated numbers) in circulation. (Apparently, there is $700 trillion in the world, but nowhere near that amount in stuff of real value + real money.)

And then, the second problem: what real economy there does exist is all based on fossil fuels, a very finite resource, especially now that we have reached (perhaps passed) Peak Oil (the point where we have consumed half of the Earth's reserves). One give-away of the truth of this is the fact that the Saudis, who themselves sit atop 25% of the world's reserves, have started drilling in the sea: this only makes sense if they have passed their own peak, because it's massively more expensive for them to extract under-sea than under their own land.

Apparently, the oil companies are well aware that the ice caps are melting, but they're actually celebrating this because it means that, finally, they can now access the oil under the Arctic Ocean.

And the disastrous feature of our economy is that fossil fuels are far more than simply what powers our transport. It powers *everything* (even when the power is electricity), e.g. all manufacturing processes, very many materials (e.g. everything that contains plastic), hospitals, food-preservation. And what is even more scary is that our entire food system is oil-based: modern industrialised farming has so depleted the soil of nutrients that now we can't grow any food without fertilisers and pesticides, both of which come from oil. Without oil, we can't even eat!

An 'oil-based' economy does not really capture the chilling reality. It is more like oil is the blood in the veins of our civilisation, and that, I think, is why these futurologists talk about the 'collapse' of our civilisation rather than, say, 'crisis'.

Ruppert argues (paraphrasing - can't remember his exact words) that it's only when you understand the centrality of oil to western civilisation that foreign policy begins to look rational rather than inconsistent, e.g. overthrowing one dictator whilst supporting another. 'Of course Iraq was all about oil; everyone knows that.'

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