In the past I have written about Peak Oil, Climate Change (Peak Carbon), and Peak Water, but there have been a two more 'peak moments' that I have left out. There are more historical peaks not far away, but I will focus on two for this post.
Our civilisation will soon be suffering from Peak Finance, with the US leading the way. You may or may not have read in the media about how the financial crisis (caused by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco in the US) is unfolding, with the collapse of major investment banks around the world, and most stock markets around the globe are in free-fall, with no end in sight. Sounds like a train wreak to me!
So how is this related to the other peak moments that I have mentioned? Well quite simply, without large sums of capital to invest in solving the other three peaks of oil, water, and climate, we are up shit creek without a paddle. It takes money to fix these problems, and from what I can tell, there is not a whole lot of cash to spare at the moment. Credit Card debt is up, and savings (in general) are down. Like I said, not much spare cash. Another blow to the average citizen is that housing prices will soon follow the stock market, and superannuation funds (pensions/401k) are already being stripped of their value by the tumble in the stock market. So who in their right mind would now start to think about saving the planet, or better still, their own sorry arses from catastrophic climate change and peak oil, when their mortgage or rent payments are nearly 50% of their income. Not many I think! Only those who have prepared for the worst, but expect the best, will have a better chance during the pending global financial crisis.
That brings me to another peak, which is Overpopulation. The human race has a current population of just over 6,725,000,000 (Sep 08), with the two most populous countries being India and China. That is a lot of people. It is estimated that by the year 2050 the global pop will be at 9.5 billion. Now if the planet is struggling now to support the 6.7b people, where the hell are the extra 2.8b going to live. The last time I looked we were clearing wilderness at an alarming rate, polluting any place left to live, and growing as much food with petro-based chemicals as we could. Population growth has gone from 1b in 1800 to our current level of 6.725b in just over 200 years. Why, you ask? Because of an abundant source of cheap energy in the form of fossil fuels. Manufacturing and Food production is powered by oil or things made from oil, and this has enabled us to feed, clothe, and shelter the hungry, and in the Western world, the consumerist masses. Stop or reduce the flow of oil and the world population shrinks considerably because we just can't feed everyone without oil.
Isn't it strange how all of these 'peaks' influence each other. Fossil fuels beget Climate Change. Fossil fuels beget Overpopulation which beget Peak Water. Overpopulation beget greed and fear which caused Peak Finance. Peak Finance will now hinder our ability to combat all the other peaks. The stock market always recovers, doesn't it? I don't think the 'market' has never before faced peak everything, so only time will tell.
A sorry tale, but unfortunately a true one. And what are we blinkered by this week around Australia, in the footsteps of the fall of the Roman Empire? More bread and circuses in the form of AFL and NRL football finals. Keep the distractions coming, we wouldn't want to wake up from the Matrix, now would we?
For further information on Peak Everything have a look here and here. We have never seen anything like it before, maybe it is the "Perfect Storm"! However, don't get discouraged. I believe that if enough of us begin to think globally, but act locally, we will manage just that little bit longer. According to Richard Heinberg here are a few things that are not at their historical peak;
- Personal autonomy
- Satisfaction from honest work well done
- Intergenerational solidarity
- Free time
- Beauty of the built environment
All of these things can help with the transition to a simpler world, but first we must build a sense of community. The other great things will follow. Happiness is simplicity itself!