Throughout human history, and even that of the relatively benevolent United States, we have become mired in conflicts and crises that have threatened our existence. From world wars to the Great Depression, from the flu epidemic to natural disasters, we have teetered on the bring of complete chaos.
But as much as we have wobbled, life has always sorted itself out. Crises have invariably lead to better states of life. As the Cold War lead us to develop computers and go to the moon. As epidemics lead to the development of vaccines. We have invariably picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and moved forward. Even the Black Death of Europe gave way to the Renaissance.
But our run of good luck may shortly come to an end, and we will not bounce back from it.
I can give you five reasons why this is the case. But first, for my friends who are over the age of 65, don’t sweat it. This will take about 15 years, by which time most of you will be dead. Enjoy your lives. Live long and prosper. As for the rest of you, here’s the really, really bad news.
- We are running out of fossil fuels. You know, the fuel we use to heat our homes, drive business, get from point to point and even wage wars. We’ve know this was coming for some time, and somehow thought that we could make up the difference in solar power, wind power or bovine flatulence. None of these work well enough to take up the slack when we run out of fossil fuels, and at that point the world erupts in chaos. The middle east has passed its peak era of production. So has the Soviet Union. The end of the fossil fuels is coming within the next couple of decades, and we have no replacement.
- The food supply is tenuous. The reality is that the world’s cities have about a two-day supply of food. After that, you have to kill your neighbors for theirs. Or eat them. The folks in the country have it a little better — about a two week supply. Then they go the same way. But surely you can rely on the transportation system that allowed these big cities to grow, can you not. Wait…don’t they require fossil fuels to operate?
- We’ve stopped being self-sufficient. I don’t mean just that we no longer produce our own food and fuel. We’ve handed our survival over to government that are at best unprepared to handle the needs of anyone other than themselves, and at worst incompetent. Sure, they have bunkers. So do the Doomsday Survivalists. But those bunkers simply can’t last long enough to see most of us through, even if we could all force our way into them.
- The epidemics are rising. We had a great run with sulfa powder, and penicillin, through most of the 20th Century. But the reality is that Mother Nature is striking back, and not with any nonsensical global warming or asteroid strikes. The reality is that we are long overdue for a global health threat that is immune to our antibiotics. And all of the alchemy of modern medicine won’t be able to help up. The problems of ebola, HIV and Avian Flu were just hiccups…the real threat is yet to come.
- The world economy sucks. Before anyone gets too upset about our $16 trillion debt to China, remember that they need us more than we need them. In fact, virtually every national on earth needs the United States and our markets to survive economically, including the pot growers and Mexico and the Columbians with their cocaine. But as Americans make less, and our government takes more, the world economy spins out of control. Governments will collapse, including ours if we are not lucky, when we can no longer afford the cost of doing business.
None of these are necessarily bound to happen, but we are making poor decisions. We ban every effort to develop nuclear power plants, or to find ways to search for and develop new sources of fossil fuel. We teach our children to be dependent on government rather than themselves. We continue to spend recklessly, rather than marshaling our financial resources. We don’t grow our own food. We cluster together, making it easier for disease to ravage the population.
Not everyone will die, of course. Governments and nations will topple, but some small segment of the world population — mostly rural — will survive. The will be the people who own guns and refuse to give them up. They will be the people who learn to plan, and make their own candles, and find clean water.
I’m likely not going to be one of those. I am too close to the edge, and no longer have either the strength or the resources to make the necessary preparations. But I am in hopes that my grandchildren will be among the survivors, and if I can do so without scaring the Beejeesus out of them, I will try to give them those skills.