Quick Bleed — Techno Collapse

April 3, 2011

An interesting post from Australian writer on peak oil, Cameron Leckie, on the most-interesting concept of catabolic collapse, and how this view of the inevitable failure of complex systems affects/effects our current world — a most intricate, interconnected, and near-fragile-to-the-touch world.
Leckie examines employment and how the world’s work force will shift from techno to near-no-techno.
From Australia’s Online Opinion (h/t The Oil Drum):

Those industries that depend upon cheap energy, high levels of disposable income and/or an expansionary credit cycle are likely to be the first to downsize.
Industries such as airlines, tourism, retail and financial services are particularly vulnerable.
Even governments and their bureaucracies, perhaps with the exception of the policing/enforcement arms, are likely to downsize in the longer term as tax revenues fall.
Undoubtedly, particularly in the early stages of decline, governments will continue to prop up some industries however these policies will be abandoned when they can no longer be afforded.

Agriculture is expected to become one of the major growth areas in formal employment.
Essentially, if we are to continue to feed ourselves as the traditional inputs to industrial agriculture decline, we will need, if not a nation of farmers, a significantly increased number of people employed in agriculture. The reason is simple.
One barrel of oil is equivalent (equivalent) to about 25,000 hours of human labour or about 12.5 years at 40 hours of labour per week.
Whilst the exact figures can be argued about, the implication is clear.
As oil production (and more importantly for Australia), oil imports decline, the work that is currently completed using oil based products will need to be replaced by other sources.
Human and animal labour will form a large part of that solution.
The changes that will result from this forthcoming transition will see an enormous increase in the requirement for people trained and employed in a broad range of areas such as permaculture, organic gardening techniques, organic fertiliser production, soil fertility, animal husbandry, landscape rehabilitation, seed saving and propagation.

And the Rubik’s Cube-like-entities bringing on this collapse: The factors driving catabolic collapse, peak oil, climate change, resource depletion and financial instability will largely shape the economy of the future.
The planet is at minimum at the leading edge on all of the above, and much, much further along on some.

An account of catabolic collapse came from John Michael Greer, and his technical analysis ‘How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse,’ which examined how history’s different eras came to naught — and time was compiled on a different set of time values not-so-long ago, like first crossing the Atlantic Ocean in three months 200 years ago, then down to three days a hundred years ago, and just three hours right now.
Time is indeed relative.
Greer explains catabolic collapse via a much more informal manner in a 2006 post at EnergyBulletin.

An example of why collapse is coming and can’t be avoided.
From CNN this evening:

Declaring 2010 “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history,” Transocean Ltd., owner of the Gulf of Mexico oil rig that exploded, killing 11 workers, has awarded its top executives hefty bonuses and raises, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate,” the SEC statement reads.
“As measured by these standards, we recorded the best year in safety performance in our Company’s history.”

Beyond those insignificant deaths…

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