So, we're all talking about the end of the world, especially those of us who make our living by keeping track. What are we looking at exactly?
Various theories, myths, fears, apparitions, visions and prophecies, together with certain economic and demographic realities, are pointing to a big showdown.
I've never been much for the whole MarianApparitions/apocalyptic prophecies thing. I remember someone I knew once getting quite het up about a TV programme about space aliens and the end of the Mayan calendar. She asked me what to do. (Why do non-religious people always think the Catholics know stuff that no one else knows?) I told her that you're supposed to keep doing the next right thing; same as always.
But as we have discussed before, there certainly is something in the air and since it is no longer a Big Zero year, I'm thinking it is more than residual millennium fever. The more Gordon Brown's minions tell the public how wonderfully everything is going, the more his audience laughs and the more his polling points go down. It is becoming obvious to everyone, even those who don't quite know how to express it.
I'm finding more non-religious groups and individuals are saying it too. Of course, I don't know him personally, but it seems from his writing that Mark Steyn (may he live forever) isn't particularly religious, or at least, isn't writing from a religious viewpoint. He has just looked at the math. I'm afraid it gives me a laugh (a hollow, dark sort of laugh) when the press calls him "alarmist". Yeah, it's pretty alarming, that math. Alarming it is...too bad no one's waking up.
Here's something else for y'all to chew on.
You know that our entire global economy is based on oil production. No oil, no transport; no transport, no goods or people getting moved around the planet; no goods, no economy. It's back to tallow candles and horses.
The other thing our economies are based on, as far as my limited understanding of economics goes, is growth. If an economy isn't growing, it's going back. There's no steady state in our system.
Two things spring to mind about these two realities.
One is that economic growth can't be infinite. There isn't enough room in everyone's houses for all that stuff. Hell, there isn't enough room in our houses for the stuff we're churning out now. When I moved into this little house, I bought almost nothing new. Looking around the room now, I'm seeing the mattress on the bed, and a lamp. Everything else was donate from relations and bought second hand. And there's nothing here that could be considered shabby or run down. Everything is as functional as it was when it came off the assembly line. Our economic growth for some time has rested on the idea of selling goods to people who already have enough stuff. More and more of it has to be devoted to convincing people to spend their money on things that have no tangible object. People are being encouraged, now that they have enough stuff, to go on trips, to keep up with the fashions, to buy electronic equipment that has an extremely short sell-by date and is very expensive to replace.
We're pretty much done, in other words, with buying things.
The other thing is oil.
The truth is, there's only so much of it.
I remember when I was a kid, being raised by hippies on the west coast, a big issue was the ecology (that's old person talk for "the environment") and oil reserves were a big part of the discussion. I went to visit the relatives in Maryland when I was ten and it was in the middle of Jimmy Carter's OPEC oil crisis. We had to line up on alternate days to get gas for the car. The hippies were big into alternate fuel, "powering down", living off the land, turning off lights. It was the new morality.
But now, the oil reserves are back in among the environmental fashionistas.
They've even got clocks: