Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » May 2005 » Ultimately, it's what we deserve, but I don't want to be around to witness it...

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05/01/2005: Ultimately, it's what we deserve, but I don't want to be around to witness it...

A friend forwarded an interesting article to me: Chewing Raw Grubs with the Nutcracker Man

I came away from the meeting deeply struck by one thing. Every person there seemed to understand and acknowledge the coming global human "die-off." The one that has already begun in places like Africa and will grow into a global event sometime within our lifetimes and/or those of our children. The one that will kill millions of white people.

That’s right, clean pink little Western World white people like you and me. Nobody in the U.S. seems to be able to deal with or even think about this near certainty, and the few who do are written off as nutcases by the media and the public. Mostly though, it goes unacknowledged. All of which drives me nuts because the now nearly visible end of civilization strikes me as worthy of at least modest discussion. You’d think so. But the mention of it causes my wife to go into, "Oh Joe, can’t we talk about something more pleasant?" And talk about causing weird stares and dropped jaws at the office water cooler.

Here’s the short course: Global die-off of mankind will occur when we run out of energy to support the complex technological grid sustaining modern industrial human civilization. In other words, when the electricity goes out, we are back in the Dark Age, with the Stone Age grunting at us from just around the corner. This will likely happen in 100 years or less, assuming the ecosystem does not collapse first. And you are thinking, "Well ho ho ho! Any other good news Bageant? And how the fock do you know this anyway?"

For those willing to contemplate the subject, there is a scientifically supported model of the timeline of our return to Stone Age tribal units. A roadmap to the day when we will be cutting up dog meat with a sharpened cd rom disc in some toxic future canyon. It is called the Olduvai Theory.

The *Olduvai theory was first introduced in a scientific paper by petroleum geologist/engineer/anthropologist Richard C. Duncan titled The Peak Of World Oil Production And The Road To The Olduvai Gorge. Duncan ("Dunk") chose the name Olduvai because, among other reasons, "...it is a good metaphor for the Stone Age way of life." It also sounded cool, he confesses. The Olduvai Gorge is a deep cleft in the Serengeti steppe of Tanzania, where Louis and Mary Leakey found the remains of prehistoric hominids, some up to two million years old, and along with the first stone tools, other things such as the skulls of sheep big as draft horses and pigs the size of hippos. Also the skull of "Nutcracker Man," (Australopithecus boisei) so named because of a set of powerful choppers, teeth so strong they could bust the lug nuts off a truck tire, were he around today to work at the Goodyear Tire Center. As to Nutcracker’s "lifestyle" (and we are using the term most generously for a style that had more than adequate pork resources but had not developed a decent pinot grigio to serve with it, or even barbecue sauce for that matter) Dunk says "the Olduvai way of life was and still is a sustainable one—- local, tribal, and solar—- and, for better or worse, our ancestors practiced it for millions of years."

Dunk’s Olduvai theory provides a modern database support structure for the Malthusian argument. The Olduvai theory uses only a single metric, as defined by "White’s Law," and deals with electricity as the most vital expression of other forms of energy such as crude oil or coal. The theory is an inductive one based on world energy and population data, so elegantly simple that any 12th grader can do it, assuming he or she can do multiplication (a risky assumption now that no child has been left behind by our great ownership society.) In the Olduvai schema permanent blackouts will occur worldwide around 2030. Industrial Civilization ends when energy availability falls to its 1930 level. Measured as energy use—<>energy expended or consumed—our industrial civilization can be described as a one-time phenomenon, a single pulse waveform of limited duration which flashed out from the caves to outer space, then back to the caves over approximately 100 years.

So when was the highpoint of the flash? On the average, world per capita energy-use crested around 1977. That was the same year John Travolta made "Saturday Night Fever," which few of us consider much of a highpoint. To make a long story short, there are three intervals of decline in the Olduvai schema: slope, slide and cliff—each steeper than the previous. Right now we are in the slide headed for the cliff. See http://dieoff.org/page125.htm. After more than a decade no scientist has been able to refute it and even given the flexibility and bias inherent in what passes for common sense in this country, it’s still pretty damned hard to argue with.

When we do go off the cliff, the Big Die-off will play no favorites, and will happen everywhere more or less simultaneously. But there are some particularly lousy places to be when permanent worldwide electrical blackouts happen. In or near a big city is the worst. You can imagine the, uh, "discomfort" of billions when the electrical grids die and power goes out across the densely packed high-rise buildings surrounded by a million acres of asphalt. People with no work, no heat, no air conditioning, no food, no water. Put on yer Adidas, it is migration time. Wherein bankers, skinheads, little old ladies and taxi drivers swarm like insects toward whatever passes for the countryside by then. Looks like all those survivalists up in North Idaho and Oregon may be right. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be in New York or Bombay, or even Toledo when the deal goes down, and in fact want to be as distant from a city as one can get without having to be too far into the woods (of which there will de damned few) to eat my daily requirement of tree bark.
I suppose it'll be a dubious honor to know I may have witnessed the "high point" of civilization.

Len on 05.01.05 @ 04:59 PM CST

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