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Sunday, May 24, 2009

What This Is Not

Frogs are excellent at facing reality. If you jump from one lily pad to another, and you don't quite make it, you're in the water. You don't think to yourself: "Hey, this water is sort of like a lily pad, except it's wet, and blue, and I'm drowning." You swim (breast stroke, of course) and get on the lily pad. Then you eat a fly, because, hey, it's been a long morning.

Also good in fruit shakes.

You homo sapiens sapiens, however, seem to be having a problem seeing things as they are. For instance, there's been much talk about whether and how much the current financial crash is or could be like the Great Depression of 1929. Here's a hint:

This is not 1929.

Frogs on the fly line.

The Great Depression happened because of a combination of things. The victors of WW1 tried punishing Germany, and rediscovered the Golden Rule. The Bankers orchestrated a crash, taking their money out first. Playing around with the Gold Standard was in there somewhere. And of course, Herbert Hoover's frocks caused a style panic. In other words, people caused the Great Depression.

Hoover posing as the President's wife.

And what "solved" the Great Depression? People running out and buying washing machines? The New Deal? Improved health from eating 5 cent apples? World War 2? No, it was none of these things. It was this:

Black gold. Texas tea. Bush blood.

It was oil production. By 1930, it was starting to spurt out of the Texas dirt with an EROI of 100:1. Production rose exponentially from that point, allowing the US to kick Nazi butt in WW2, while Hitler scrabbled all over Africa trying to find himself some oil he didn't have to make out of Ruhr coal or gay people. FDR could've spent 12 years doing the hula and the US economy would've still recovered because resource throughput is what drives GDP.

Does this shape look familiar?

Frogs don't live long enough for me to repeat all the great work that Friend o' the Frog Charlie Hall has done establishing this fact, but the sum total is that GDP snakes around the oil production line. Example: Oil goes to $147/barrel, economy crashes. Oil demand crashes, oil price falls, economy shows signs of recovery. Sound familiar? But first, what else this is not:

This is not 1979.

Note, this is NOT the kind of bug you can eat.

The temporary dip in oil production in 1979 was a result of the Iran-Iraq War, also called the America-Wins-Either-Way War, but only by Don Rumsfeld. This was purely a result of politics and too many former oil workers now being busy blowing each other up. It bears no relation to the real, permanent, GLOBAL decline we are about to go into.

Plateau extended slightly by economic crash, but you get the idea.

Absurd? The International Energy Agency doesn't think so. France's national oil company Total doesn't think so. And what happens when oil peaks, besides GDP heading downhill?

This is the scary part.

That's right. The so-called "Green Revolution" that allowed exponential growth in the human population, was mainly based on fossil fuel inputs. So as the oil and gas supplies peak and decline (already in progress), our food supply will decline, and so will the supply of humans. (A double tragedy if you're a cannibal.) So, finally, what else is this not?

This is not 1999.

As in time to party like it's.

We're in the midst of a massive onset of sadness and anxiety. That's just the truth. Things aren't working out the way humans imagined, which is sad, even if you guys didn't imagine very well. We can even sense this out on the pond, especially because the water is full of Prozac, which does make missing the lily pad mildly calming. The tendency will be there to cover up all that upset with alcohol, drugs, sex, exercise, work, or, if you're poor, mud.

The Mud People of Bonnaroo. But they're crying on the inside.

Don't run away from this. Go visit the Peak Shrink and come to grips with it. It's not 1929, 1979, or 1999, but it IS 2009. And there's a lot you can do for yourself, your family, and your community if you start taking care of things right there on your own lily pad. Gotta go. My lunch is buzzing.