Skip to main content

View Diary: The Left Drops the Ball (244 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  "they may well take us all the way down" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynndara

    All it takes to destroy the web of relationships that connects the African native grubbing coltan out of the dirt to the iPod waiting for a retail buyer at BestBuy is to reduce consumer demand sufficiently.

    The construction of that network depended on cheap energy, if it is taken down, it probably can't be rebuilt.

    That network is technological civilization. Without it, not only no more new high-tech goods and services, but no replacements for what wears out (CPUs have built-in wear mechanisms) or breaks.

    How large a consumer base is required to keep all of this going? I've never seen any studies of this, but I'd be surprised if the number wasn't well over 1 billion... members of a middle class somewhere.

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 01:57:46 PM PDT

    •  And remarkably quickly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, GiveNoQuarter

      If my calculations are correct.  I recently re-read another take on the "fall" of the Roman Empire, which pointed out in passing that neither any particular invasion, nor the plagues, nor the transition in European climate to the colder phase of the early Dark Ages was individually responsible for the breakdown of civilization in the west.  Rather, it was the fact that the Empire was a highly specialized, compartmentalized and interdependent economy, which was shocked and traumatized as a whole by very small, very local breakdowns in control that disrupted trade.  Factories in Britain relied on parts and specialists shipped from the Middle East.  Government offices in Rome and armies in Hungary relied on grain grown in Britain and Egypt.  Ladies in Spain relied on imports from China for their gowns.  And women from the Scottish border to Syria relied on a plant grown only in Libya, for contraception in a world that laughed itself silly at the idea of sexual abstinence.  Invasions, rebellions, riots, and civil wars eroded these trade relationships and reduced the reliability of transport, while climate changes not only gave impetus to invasion waves but reduced disposable income, making luxury goods from distant areas less affordable, until trade gradually withered and virtually dried up, as did the currency supply required for long-distance exchange.

      Just sayin'.  Any individual link in an interconnected web may be redundant.  But every lost link burdens those remaining with excessive load, which can cause a cascade effect.  And our links, working as they do about a hundred times faster than anything the Romans ever invented, can probably collapse a hundred times faster as well.

      •  "I recently re-read"... (0+ / 0-)

        which book or article?

        Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 05:35:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Libyan plant went extinct in the 1st c AD (0+ / 0-)

        due to rapacious over-harvesting. (I presume that "sylphium" is the plant in question?) Substitutes of less effectiveness were found and used - there was still enough redundancy and flexibility in the trade web that this could happen. It took several more centuries for the web to stretch too thin and tear too much for repairs to be possible.

        If it's
        Not your body
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        AND it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 06:22:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  would that be (0+ / 0-)

        Bryan Ward Perkins - "The Fall of the Roman Empire"?

        Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

        by alizard on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 10:30:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (145)
  • Community (55)
  • Baltimore (38)
  • Civil Rights (36)
  • Bernie Sanders (32)
  • Economy (28)
  • Culture (28)
  • Elections (28)
  • Law (24)
  • Texas (23)
  • 2016 (20)
  • Environment (19)
  • Labor (19)
  • Rescued (19)
  • Hillary Clinton (18)
  • Education (18)
  • Media (16)
  • Racism (16)
  • Politics (16)
  • Barack Obama (16)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site