Thursday, April 10, 2014

Collapse isn't sexy

If you, dear reader, were a Peak Oil “doomer” in the late 1990’s, what might you make of these three BBC stories for April 9-10, 2014:

Putin warns Europe of gas shortages over Ukraine debt
Russian state gas giant Gazprom says Ukraine's debt for supplies of Russian gas has risen above $2bn (£1.2bn; 1.4bn euros). Gazprom said on Wednesday it could demand advance payments from Kiev for gas but President Putin said the company should hold off, pending talks with "our partners" - widely believed to mean the EU. In a letter to European leaders, President Putin warned that the "critical" situation could affect deliveries of gas to Europe, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
UN warns of Syria food shortage due to looming drought
The World Food Programme (WFP) said rainfall since September has been less than half the long-term average. At the same time, WFP food aid has been cut by a fifth due to a lack of funds from international donors. Over 100,000 people have been killed since fighting broke out in Syria more than three years ago.
UN set to warn countries over 'dash for gas'

German coal industry underpins renewable push
In the eastern German region of Lausitz, nine villages are under threat, where up to 3,000 people could lose their homes to make way for five new lignite mines that are fuelling the country's renewed thirst for coal. Two further mines are under consideration. The mines are needed to power a new generation of coal power plants.

As Prof Christian Hey, secretary general of the German Advisory Council for the Environment, says: "Germany has a coal problem."
Greece returns to debt markets with five-year bond

I think you might say that these are exactly the headlines you would have expected to see in 2014 – gas shortages contributing to geopolitical tensions between Europe and Russia, droughts due to climate change causing a civil war in the Middle East in which hundreds of thousands are killed, countries like Greece suffering from austerity and mired in debt, and Germany turning to low-grade lignite coal to keep their industrial economy humming. And here they are, right on schedule! None of this should come as much of a surprise to someone who was hip to the Peak Oil scene. And we haven’t mentioned the rise of right-wing parties in Europe, stagnant economies, fracking and drought in the U.S. Southwest, escalating debt, grain shortages, hurricanes, and much, much more. We’re in a period of change, no doubt.

This is just another reminder that “collapse” narratives were not wrong. If you know where to look and what to look for you can see the whole picture. But a lot of people were set on the idea of a sexy collapse, but collapse isn't sexy. It's just a long, grinding period of dashed hopes, lowered expectations, broken promises, spit-and-bailing wire solutions, political instability, and kicking the can continuing on for years and years.


  1. "droughts due to climate change causing a civil war in the Middle East in which hundreds of thousands are killed"

    Are you sure it's the drought that caused the civil war and not Syria being destabilised by the west backing terrorists to weaken Iran by taking out one of their allies?

  2. "This is just another reminder that “collapse” narratives were not wrong."

    Depends on which narrative, and what is meant by "collapse". The way most people mean it, then the narratives ARE wrong. Things are not collapsing. Things are changing, and change is difficult, but nothing on the order of what people conjure in their minds when they hear the word "collapse".

    The only way you can say that "the collapse narratives were not wrong" is by adopting a very unusual definition, not recognizable to the average person, of the word "collapse"... a definition which describes any period of difficulty, departing from BAU in an unpleasant way, as "collapse". But I would call that a strange and non-viable rhetorical contortion in order to (it would seem) justify some old failed predictions. Maybe the current difficult period will morph into something identifiable as collapse. But it has not happened yet. IMO.


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