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April 15, 2008

Another Doomsday Prediction: The Post-Industrial Stone Age

A professor at the University of Arizona has a bold, new tired prediction: WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!!! This guy isn't as interesting as my other doomsayer posts, but only because he's about the ten-thousandth person to blame globalization, corporations, and oil for our imminent demise. He also manages to make a dig at Ronald Reagan, which I thought was a nice touch.

We exploit humans and resources, often with extreme violence, to provide Americans with indulgences beyond belief to most people.

Had we started the project of powering down at least 30 years ago, there might still be time. At this point, I cannot imagine any steps that could allow us to avoid a meltdown of the economy or a relatively rapid transition into the post-industrial Stone Age. We depend on abundant, inexpensive oil for delivery of food, water, shelter, and health care. The days of abundant, inexpensive oil are behind us. American Empire will soon run its course.

I am hopeful we can save a few tens of millions of Americans. But we will need to make massive changes in our entire way of life, starting immediately. We must abandon the project of globalization and its attendant indulgences, for example, and focus on saving lives.

The good news is that he says there's nothing we can do in our daily lives that will make a difference. Sure, he's quick to assure us that he uses CFLs, doesn't eat meat, and drives a hybrid, but the fate of the human race will be decided by "corporate CEOs and politicians." His halo securely fashioned to the back of his noggin, he goes on to explain that alternative energy sources won't save us because they weren't developed back when they would have made a difference.

No alternatives scale, and we're out of time. We made the important decision about energy policy at two critical junctures in American history: (1) shortly after WWII, when we created the interstate highway system and the suburbs to build a way of life that had no future because it relied completely on ready supplies of a finite resource, and (2) in 1980, when we dismissed conservation at irrelevant -- I guess we didn't think we needed lights any more, because it was "morning in America."

Can you imagine how long he's been carrying around that bit of resentment? Really, to call that up after 24 years makes it a hell of a grudge. But that's not the best part. He's one of those idiots who thinks the demise of America and decent into barbarism is a good thing.

This is wonderful news on many levels. Passing the world oil peak means the world economy will collapse, thereby giving other cultures and species an opportunity to persist a few more years. Economic growth is tightly linked to extinction rates, so the forthcoming Greatest Depression is great news from the other occupants of planet Earth.

Who would have thought that someone as ignorant as this could admit to powerlessness and still be so annoying? I think it's because he has no sense of irony. The nitwit rails against globalization and brags about using CFLs, but apparently doesn't realize that the vast majority of CFLs (70% last year) are imported from China.

H/t Warren Meyer.

Stone Age? Dark Ages, Baby! [ace]: The increasingly silly Nicholas Kristof of the increasingly worthless NYT piles on another prediction about the dire consequences of global warming -- witch burnings!

I'm quite serious. Or is he? Does the NYT think about blog traffic so much that its writers craft deliberately-stupid columns just to get linked? I don't know. It seems possible. You tell me what Kristof's motivation is here.

ere’s a forecast for a particularly bizarre consequence of climate change: more executions of witches.

As we pump out greenhouse gases, most of the discussion focuses on direct consequences like rising seas or aggravated hurricanes. But the indirect social and political impact in poor countries may be even more far-reaching, including upheavals and civil wars — and even more witches hacked to death with machetes.

In rural Tanzania, murders of elderly women accused of witchcraft are a very common form of homicide. And when Tanzania suffers unusual rainfall — either drought or flooding — witch-killings double, according to research by Edward Miguel, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.

“In bad years, the killings explode,” Professor Miguel said. He believes that if climate change causes more drought years in Tanzania, the result will be more elderly women executed there and in other poor countries that still commonly attack supposed witches.

There is evidence that European witch-burnings in past centuries may also have resulted from climate variations and the resulting crop failures, economic distress and search for scapegoats. Emily Oster, a University of Chicago economist, tracked witchcraft trials and weather in Western Europe between 1520 and 1770 and found a close correlation: colder weather led to more crackdowns on witches.

In particular, Europe’s “little ice age” led to a sharp cooling in the late 1500s, and that corresponds to a renewal in witchcraft trials after a long lull.

The Little Ice Age? Shhh, you're not supposed to mention naturally-caused shifts in climate, Nicholas. Ixnay on the Ittlay Ice Age and ixnay on the Edeivalmay Armway Eriodpay.

There's just enough actual fact here to be interesting enough to write about but... aren't these soft-headed idiots going a little hog-wild in claiming global warming causes everything?

As I've joked: "Sorry honey I can't get it up tonight... you know, global warming."


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:41 AM

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