Terminal Time

November 7, 2010

Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
–  “Time Is On My Side,” The Rolling Stones

Wrong — time instead is on an extremely short leash.

There’s a scene in the movie, “The Matrix,” where Morpheus explains to Neo the sheep-like nature of humanity: You have to understand that most of these people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.
So goes reality for most folks nowadays.

Problem one and only: The perfect storm of so many diverse (yet strongly connected) situations coming together at a nasty intersection of history, with matters made even worse by humanity’s continuing apparent desire for its collective head to be shoved up its collective ass, especially among US  peoples, thus in one-way or another, influencing all of Western civilization, and this kick-the-can-way-down-the road oblivion is fiercely-fueled by a shitload of people pointing, gesturing, pushing and shoving mankind directly toward the anus.

(Illustration found here).

Two of those aforementioned situations are energy and finance — one real and physical, the other seemingly more-like vapor — and although nearly unrelated, carry much weight when balanced together.
These two situational engines have pushed the globe to a break-neck breaking point, and in their differences, both have catastrophes awaiting shortly from the wings.

One of the more interesting commentators in energy/finance is Nicole Foss, co-editor/writer of the blog, The Automatic Earth (She formerly ran the Agri-Energy Producers’ Association of Ontario, and while living in the UK, a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies) and considered at least a fairly-decent expert on energy and financial issues.
From Energy Bulletin: Foss believes that resource limits (peak oil) and the collapse of global Ponzi finance are a “perfect storm” of converging phenomena that threaten to trigger wealth destruction, social discontent, and global conflict. The consequences for unprepared individuals and families could be dire.
She’s scheduled to give the keynote address, titled “A Century of Challenges,” at The 2010 International Conference on the Future: Energy, Economy and Environment , starting next Friday at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Read a review of a Foss presentation here.

Foss is also one of the more pessimistic viewpoints out there, but she makes sense — if you’re not preparing, physically or mentally, or least not thinking about what’s happening on the planet, the near future will put you in deep doo-doo.
In an interview last week with Speaking Truth To Power, Foss was bad news at the outset in answer to the question, What is your greatest concern at the moment in terms of the global economic crisis?

That it could unfold very, very quickly.
Because deflation is a swing of poverty feedback, it can take awhile to build up.
If you try to explain to people what’s coming, because it doesn’t happen instantly, they tend to go back to sleep.
he thing they need to understand, however, is that when it does hit a tipping point, a kind of critical mass, then it can unfold exceptionally quickly.
Then it’s very much like having the rug pulled out from under your feet.
So I tell people all the time, prepare now because it’s better to be two years too early than five minutes too late.
You can’t play with this sort of thing.
In September, 2008, we came within a few hours of the banking system seizing up, and that could easily happen again.
People wouldn’t get a lot of notice.
For anyone who’s not in the meeting room — it will be too late by the time they find out.
My worry is that if there are an enormous number of people who just had the rug pulled out from under their feet, they’re going to run around like headless chickens, and the human over-reaction to events will be really responsible for a large percentage of the impact.

Foss is more concerned about deflation than inflation.
And nowadays financial wealth is not real, which in turn creates excessive claims to underlying real wealth, leading to a big-bang-like plunge with a nasty clutch at the end:

This is the point where people realize they are playing a giant game of musical chairs, and there’s only one chair for one hundred people.
So you can imagine when the music stops how this plays out.
This is no slow squeeze but a frantic grab for a chair-that is, pieces of the underlying real wealth pie.

Basically, people have to be prepared for our centralized life support systems beginning to fail.
They don’t fail all at once, but all these centralized systems that we provide from the top down are going to get less reliable.
Not that they go away instantly, but they get rationed, or they are only available at certain times.
Of course, we’re not used to living that way, and for some people that will be catastrophic.

Not a pretty picture, but is situational-reality if knotty problems are not addressed in a most-timely manner.
Foss in another interview at Transition Voice believes the financial sector will bring the whole shebang down around our collective ears:

The repercussions of the economic storm come faster.
We decided to put the primary focus on finance at The Automatic Earth because of the time-scale issue.
We want people to prepare soon enough so they don’t lose what they have in the systemic banking crisis.
f they are prepared, then they will have the financial resources to fight the peak oil and climate change challenges.
They have to get through deflation if they are going to retain the freedom of action to deal with those crises.

Time is a factor so unknown — yet it’s quicker than we think.

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