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Can we live again in 1964’s energy world?

by Andrew Nikiforuk,

“Everything has to get worse. We are behaving so badly.”

Vaclav Smil, you should know, talks very fast in staccato bursts and doesn’t own a cell phone.

The University of Manitoba professor, perhaps one of Canada’s most precise energy analysts, also doesn’t want to be the servant of a communication machine.

“Everyone wants a piece of me,” he adds. Authorities from China, Japan, Russia and the United States pester him with speaking invitations and information requests all the time. Even Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates makes demands on him.

And that’s because Smil actually knows something about energy in a world that has grown largely energy illiterate, thanks to a now threatened diet of cheap hydrocarbons.

For nearly 40 years now, Smil, a Czech émigré and polymath, has studied the world’s energy systems. He grew up in the political darkness of the Soviet Empire and has matured in the moral emptiness of its American counterpart.

Although heralded around the world for his insights, he remains largely unknown in Canada. Yet the prolific academic has penned some 30 books and 400 articles on how the world recklessly spends both energy and valuable natural resources.

All of Smil’s work is dense, number-filled, literate and chock full of intriguing history. Altogether, his energy writing delivers a sober two-pronged message: North Americans have grown fat and lazy by burning too many fossil fuels. Yet energy transitions are by their very nature protracted, difficult and unpredictable.

Wood to coal

Although oil shocks and boomtowns can unsettle economies in just years, real energy transitions in large global economies often unfold over decades if not generations, Smil observes.

Take one of the world’s first major energy transitions from wood to coal as a source of heat, he says. At first aristocrats considered coal a foul and smoky substitute for wood. But a tree famine in northern Europe and England forced along the hydrocarbon’s adoption by the 17th century.

It really took the invention and deployment of the steam engine to transform coal into an empire builder. Even so, coal didn’t provide the world with nearly 90 per cent of its primary energy until 1930 before being partly replaced by oil.

So transitions take a long time. “The 19th century was a wood century and the 20th was a coal century.” Oil didn’t reach its peak as central energy source until the 1970s and still accounts for one-third of the world’s energy needs. In fact, the global economy remains a full-blown fossil fuel civilization that mines coal, oil and natural gas to satisfy the majority of its energy diet.

Even the transition from horse to car took a long time, adds Smil. In 1885, Gottfried Daimler built one of the world’s first combustion engines. “Thirty-three years later the number of horses in the world peaked and then the transition went very fast.” But it took 50 years to remove the horse from urban streets and farms.

Energized all the time

Our overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels creates another problem. In 1850, the average European or North American used energy intermittently.

You’d put the fire on in the morning, harness a horse or roll up some sails, says Smil. Energy use was organic and the night skies often fell dark.

Today people use energy 24/7 and at fantastic levels. Every home plugs into an ever-increasing number of glowing gadgets, each promising more comfort and entertainment than the last one. “There are no peaks and valleys. It’s not just the quality but the constancy of energy use that has changed,” explains Smil every so quickly.

Now don’t get Smil wrong. He thinks modern societies consume way too much energy (North Americans consume twice as much as Europeans and yet aren’t twice as smart or happy, he adds sarcastically). Moreover, we lavishly waste much of it on the overproduction of cheap and unnecessary junk.

He believes a transition to “non-fossil future is an imperative process of self-preservation” as well as a moral necessity. Harnessing renewable energy flows, is both desirable and inevitable, he adds.

But the old-fashioned engineer and historian doesn’t think the transition to cleaner forms of energy will be easy, quick, rational or smooth.

That’s a lot of exajoules

One of the first obstacles is just the amount of quantifiable fossil-fueled power that must be replaced. Consider, says Smil, that North Americans gobbled up about six exajoules (EJ) of energy in the form of wood, animal power, coal and some oil in 1884. (The Japanese earthquake and tsunami released about two EJ of energy.)

Today North Americans happily burn our way through 100 EJ of which only 7 EJ come from renewables, such as hydroelectric dams. In other words, the U.S. would have to find 85 EJ from wind, geothermal or wind or “nearly 30 times the total of fossil fuels the country needed in the mid-188s to complete its shift from biomass to coal to hydrocarbons.” That’s a tall order requiring new infrastructure and massive re-engineering.

The second issue for Smil is capacity. Renewables such as wind and solar just don’t have the same ability to make concentrated energy as fossil fuels. Capacity is the constancy of energy that an electrical power plant can actually deliver divided by what it could produce if it operated 24/7. No power plants, of course, work that way.

Nuclear plants, if they are not leaking or down for repairs, can operate 90 per cent of the time. Coal-fired plants can chug along 65 per cent of the time before they need to be cleaned and repaired. But a solar installation can only pump out juice 20 per cent of the time. A wind farm can muster power 25 to 30 per cent of the time or slightly more if perched offshore.

Next comes power density. It’s the rate of flow of energy per unit of land area. A coal mine or oil field can deliver great power density. So, too, can a hydroelectric dam. But not renewables. Fossil fuels, despite their declining quality, still offer power densities two to three times greater by orders of magnitude than wind, biofuels or solar.

Smil then offers an uncomfortable calculation. In the early years of the 21st century, the fossil fuel industry (mining, processing and piping) occupied 30,000 square kilometres, or an area about the size of Belgium. The low power densities of renewables, just to replace one-third of the demand for fossil fuels, would require a land base of 12,500,000 km for turbines, solar arrays and transmission lines. That’s a territory the size of the U.S. and India.

Renewable challenges

To Smil each renewable or alternative to fossil fuels offers a unique challenge. He thinks that solar, of all renewables, offers the greatest potential. It’s the only alternative that currently delivers flows of energy that readily surpass the demand for fossil fuels.

But capturing and transporting those flows at the right commercial scale still proves elusive. “We don’t yet have the storage capacity. Solar energy works only when the sun shines.”

Nuclear, he says, is “as dead as it can be.” It promised cheap energy but delivered the world’s least economic source of power as well as persistent waste issues. Only Alberta wants to build nuclear reactors to manufacture more bitumen, a proposal he calls “madness incarnate.”

Wind will require millions of turbines and massive land disturbance that may be “environmentally undesirable and technically problematic.” It’s also an intermittent source of power that requires extensive back-up, usually in the form of coal-fired stations. And in large parts of the world the wind simply does not blow regularly.

Biomass or growing modified trees, sugar-rich crops or algae to fuel inefficient vehicles poses another problem altogether. Civilization has already appropriated 40 per cent of all plant growing activity on Earth for food, fibre and feed. This appropriation has already modified, reduced and compromised ecosystems to “a worrisome degree.” Devoting more the world’s precious soils to produce something like ethanol, says Smil, is “stupid.”

Refashioning a ‘supersystem’

The engineer’s bottom line is sobering, if not completely politically incorrect. Over the last 100 years the world has spent trillions of dollars building the most extensive energy network ever conceived. Millions of machines now essentially run on 14 trillion watts of coal, oil and natural gas. The quality of these fuels is declining, and keeping the whole show going is getting more and more expensive every day.

Refashioning what Smil calls the world’s costliest “supersystem” into something cleaner and sustainable will be a gargantuan task that requires “generations of engineers.”

“Yet everyone is broke. So how are we going to build hundreds of billions worth of solar and wind farms?”

To Smil the only moral response remains a “significant reduction in fossil fuel use.” The scientist proposes going back to the future — or the 1960s, to be precise.

“In the 1960s people didn’t have three car garages, fly to Las Vegas to gamble or drive SUVs, but they lived comfortably,” says Smil. More importantly, they consumed 40 per cent less energy than people today.

“We can return to 1964 with no problem. Living in 1964 is not a sacrifice.”

Nor would getting there impose draconian challenges. Switching to 97 per cent energy efficient furnaces (that means they burn 97 per cent of the gas instead older varieties which send 55 per cent up venting stacks), mandating diesel-fueled vehicles and deploying high speed trains would all be part of the solution.

“Bombardier makes rapid trains in this country,” declares Smil. “Yet there is not high speed train between Montreal and Toronto. Canada doesn’t have a significant high speed link. It’s incredible!”

‘It will have to collapse’

(mais…)

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“O verdadeiro subterrâneo [underground] é o lugar onde corre o poder. Esse é o segredo mais bem guardado do nosso tempo. Tu não pertences ao underground. Não são vocês o movimento underground. Quem faz negócios subterrâneos e fala a verdadeira linguagem underground são os presidentes e primeiros-ministros. As multinacionais. Os militares. Os bancos. Essa é que é a rede subterrânea. É lá que as coisas se passam. O poder corre subterraneamente, muito longe do nível onde eu e tu nos movemos. É aí que se infringe a lei, muito lá por baixo, muito abaixo dos freaks das anfetaminas e dos traficantes de heroína. Tu não és inimputável nem inatingível, como uma multinacional.”

Don Delillo, Great Jones Street, Relógio d’Água

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Entretanto, no Reino Unido, a luta continua:

On February 25, in the small town of Horsham in the United Kingdom, there will be a rare and potentially groundbreaking opportunity for the 9/11 truth movement. Three hours of detailed 9/11 evidence is to be presented and considered in a court of law where the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) will be challenged over the inaccurate and biased manner in which it has portrayed the events and evidence of 9/11.

Countercurrents

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Antonio Turiel

El 29 de Octubre del año pasado, relativamente tarde para la estación, el huracán Sandy – convertido ya en una tormenta tropical-  tomó tierra en el estado de Nueva Jersey. Todavía durante los dos días que le tomó disiparse a medida que entraba en el territorio continental de los EE.UU. causó daños apreciables, aunque no comparables a su trágico balance de los días anteriores. Se trataba de un huracán menor, de categoría 2 mientras se movió por aguas tropicales y de categoría 1 cuando se acercaba a la costa de Nueva Jersey, mientras empezaba a degenerar. Quiso el azar que llegase al mismo tiempo que una gran sistema frontal de origen polar, lo cual intensificó sus efectos sobre la zona costera principalmente, generando una marejada ciclónica de grandes dimensiones.

[…] Varias infraestructuras críticas fallaron en aquellos días, incluyendo el metro. El caso del metro de Nueva York fue paradigmático. Esta instalación, de gran extensión y complejidad, está en la mayoría de su recorrido por debajo del nivel del mar. La subida del nivel del mar anegó instalaciones y la sal del mar añadió la corrosión a la complejidad del desagüado. Según las autoridades, el metro de Nueva York no había hecho nunca frente a un reto tan grandioso en sus 108 años de historia. Durante varios días los neoyorkinos tuvieron que soportar la interrupción de servicio de muchas líneas, y aún hoy en día algunas líneas no funcionan a plena capacidad. La situación ahora es de vuelta a una cierta normalidad… una normalidad en la que los problemas del metro tienen un cierto nivel de recurrencia, con disrupciones habituales del servicio que en ocasiones duran varios meses.

El caso del metro de Nueva York ejemplifica bastante bien cómo nuestra sociedad occidental e industrializada se ha arriesgado a construir infraestructuras de las que ahora dependemos vitalmente pero cuyo mantenimiento requiere de grandes cantidades de energía y de materiales. Tal construcción deviene cada vez más frágil a medida que pasa el tiempo, en parte por el envejecimiento (la “curva de la bañera” que suele mencionar Rafa Íñiguez) y en parte porque sobre la infraestructura inicial se van añadiendo nuevas instalaciones para dar mayores y mejores servicios; en muchos casos, estos añadidos sobrecargan la estructura anterior, que no estaba dimensionada para esas capacidades, y eso hace del conjunto un ente tan frágil como un castillo de naipes y con un coste de operaciones y de mantenimiento que crece exponencialmente con el número de funcionalidades que se le van añadiendo. El problema es que en un momento dado se llega a un punto en el cual, por el decrecimiento de los insumos energéticos que llegan a la sociedad y por los costes crecientes de mantenimiento, la infraestructura no puede ser mantenida por más tiempo, y sin un plan apropiado para su descenso ésta seguirá un proceso semejante al de la necrosis en seres vivos, que puede acabar destruyéndola por completo. Desgraciadamente, idear un plan de descenso es algo políticamente muy impopular y contrario al programa del progreso que sustenta la psique colectiva en Occidente, y así los representantes políticos preferirán siempre poner en marcha complejos y costosos programas de rehabilitación y extensión antes que diseñar programas de disminución y aprovechamiento de las partes más salvables y esenciales de la infraestructura comprometida.

El problema de la insostenibilidad de las infraestructuras de la sociedad moderna es mucho más grave y tiene un alcance mucho más profundo de lo que la mayoría de la gente se imagina, y posiblemente incluso de lo que conocen muchos de los lectores habituales de este blog, hasta el punto que se puede decir sin exagerar que el posible colapso de estas infraestructuras constituye una de las mayores amenazas a las que tendremos que hacer frente en los próximos años. Como muestra pondré algunos ejemplos.

Uno de los problemas a los que tendrá que hacer frente una sociedad magra en recursos es el de la gestión de las instalaciones nucleares. Ya hemos hablado varias veces sobre los diversos riesgos asociados a la energía nuclear y específicamente sobre los problemas de mantenimiento de las instalaciones nucleares. Por ejemplo, en este momento se evalúa en 100.000 millones de dólares el coste de reparar la catástrofe de Fukushima en Japón. Un coste desorbitante que supera con creces los beneficios netos que podía dar el grupo de 6 centrales durante su vida útil: con una potencia instalada para todo el grupo de 4,7 Gw y asumiendo un factor de carga del 80% (lo habitual para una central nuclear) estas centrales producían casi 33.000 Gw·h de electricidad al año. Contando un precio medio aproximado de 20 centavos de dólar por Kw·h el valor comercial de toda esa electricidad anual sería 6.600 millones de dólares. Aún con un margen comercial del 50%, esas centrales darían un beneficio anual de 3.300 millones de dólares, con lo que el coste de paliar el desastre equivale a todo el beneficio económico esperado de ellas durante 30 años (y eso sin tener en cuenta otros costes variables, y dando por buena la cifra de 100.000 millones de dólares de más arriba, que algunos elevan a los 600.000 millones de dólares). Y eso que en estas estimaciones no se da un horizonte temporal de por cuánto tiempo valdrán las contenciones empleadas. Recordando el otro gran accidente nuclear, el de Chernobil, recientemente se ha sabido que una parte del fallido reactor 4 se ha desmoronado y eso mete más presión para que se avance en la construcción del segundo sarcófago, ya que se han detectado numerosas filtraciones en el primero (fruto de la acción de las inclemencias climatológicas y de la erosión radiactiva), el cual tiene un coste estimado en 1.500 millones de euros y se espera que sea útil durante 100 años. Es fácil de suponer que dentro de 100 años tendría que ser sustituido de nuevo, y que por tanto el coste de la instalación (ahora improductiva en términos energéticos) pueda ser fácilmente de varios miles de millones de euros de hoy en día cada varias décadas (cuesta creer que vaya a soportar todo un siglo cuando los procesos de deterioro que actúan sobre tal instalación son en parte desconocidos). Sin llegar a estos casos tan extremos, conviene recordar que aún no se ha desmantelado completamente ninguna central nuclear en el mundo al agotar su vida útil, proceso que es muy lento -alrededor de 50 años. La Administración de Desmantelamiento Nuclear británica estimaba un coste de 70.000 millones de libras esterlinas (unos 81.000 millones de euros) para desmantelar los 19 grupos existentes en el Reino Unido, aunque la evaluación precisa de un proceso tan lento es complicada y probablemente será mucho mayor – sobre todo cuando ninguna se ha verificado completamente a fecha de hoy.

Otra infraestructura cuya complejidad ha ido creciendo sin que haya ningún plan de sostenibilidad asociado es la red eléctrica en su conjunto, contando tanto la distribución como la generación. Los costes implícitos de la alocada expansión y la incapacidad de mantener ya sea la fuerza generadora o la capacidad de transporte en red llevan a fallos repetidos y de graves consecuencias. En Argentina se vivió un gran apagón a finales del año pasado, aunque parece una broma comparado con el que se vivió en la India el verano pasado (el 8% de la Humanidad se quedó sin luz). En otras latitudes se toman medidas para evitar previsibles apagones: mientras en Japón el disciplinado pueblo nipón ha tolerado pacientemente restricciones al consumo de hasta un 30%, necesario tras el accidente de Fukushima, en Francia el presidente François Hollande prohíbe mantener encendidos los escaparates de los comercios y parte del alumbrado público durante la noche (pero, no, sobre todo que no se diga que Francia está en Malí para garantizar el acceso al uranio que críticamente le falta). Y no sólo es la generación la que está en entredicho, también la propia red presenta un problema de costes de mantenimiento crecientes. Frecuentemente se ha denunciado la complejidad y alto coste de mantener la red eléctrica de los EE.UU. operativa, hasta el punto de que la Sociedad de Ingenieros Eléctricos y Electrónicos (IEEE) denunciaba hace años la necesidad de substituir más del 40% de la red, con una antigüedad de hasta 100 años, con un coste elevadísimo, si se quería evitar que colapsara. En España los problemas con la red son recurrentes, aunque aquí el problema más viene de la desinversión de las compañías eléctricas que controlan el mercado que de la gran obsolescencia de las redes. En todo caso, el remozado y la substitución de la red eléctrica se prevé problemática si el pico del cobre sobreviene, como parece, hacia 2018, y si en realidad las reservas de cobre restantes dependen críticamente de disponer de abundante energía para su explotación. Ciertamente el cobre se puede reciclar, pero, ¿a qué coste energético? ¿Y cómo se pueden cubrir las necesidades de las potencias emergentes?

Si la red eléctrica está en peligro en un mundo que no puede permitirse pagar facturas energéticas crecientes, la situación no es mejor en el resto de infraestructuras. El hormigón armado adolece de un problema de obsolescencia gravísimo que limita la vida útil de las infraestructuras hechas con él a un siglo como mucho, 50 años en la mayoría de los casos, y muchas infraestructuras críticas ya están llegando a esa edad. El coste de reemplazar todos los puentes, autopistas, alcantarillas, presas y edificios se cifra en los 3 billones de dólares sólo en los EE.UU. El problema es conocido desde hace tiempo y su solución es técnicamente sencilla, pero la alternativa constructiva es más lenta y cara y en aras de mantener un BAU rampante y creciente se ha desdeñado siempre. De nuevo, el sistema que se ha impuesto se basa en la hipótesis de tener acceso creciente a cantidades ilimitadas de energía, y la falta de las mismas genera un problema que se agrava exponencialmente a medida que el tiempo de vida de la infraestructura ya hecha se agota. Los romanos construyeron calzadas y acueductos que les sobrevivieron 2000 años; nuestra civilización dejará pocas trazas que puedan sobrevivir a nuestros nietos.

(mais…)

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Robert Jensen, in Resilience

 

We are all apocalyptic now, or at least we should be, if we are rational.

Because “apocalyptic” is typically associated with religious fanaticism and death cults – things that rational people tend not to take literally or seriously – this claim requires some explanation.

First, a definition: The term is most commonly used in reference to the Book of Revelation, also known as The Apocalypse of John, the final book of the Christian New Testament. The two terms are synonymous in their original meaning – “revelation” from Latin and “apocalypse” from Greek, both mean a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something that had been hidden.

Second, the formulation “we are all (fill in the blank) now” has long been a way to assert that certain ideas have become the norm: “We are all Keynesians now,” said Milton Friedman in 1965, for instance, or to express solidarity: “We are all New Yorkers now,” said many non-New Yorkers after 9/11.

Rather than claiming divine inspiration, we can come to greater clarity about the desperate state of the ecosphere and its human inhabitants through evidence and reason. It is time for a calm, measured apocalypticism that recognizes that the ecosphere sets norms, which we have ignored for too long, and that we need to develop a new sense of solidarity among humans and with the larger living world.

So, speaking apocalyptically need not leave us stuck in a corner with the folks predicting lakes of fire, rivers of blood or bodies lifted up to the heavens. Instead, it can focus our attention on ecological realities and on the unjust and unsustainable human systems that have brought us to this point.

This “revelation” is simple: We’ve built a world based on the assumption that we will have endless energy to subsidize endless economic expansion, which was supposed to magically produce justice. That world is over, both in reality and in dreams. Either we begin to build a different world, or there will be no world capable of sustaining a large-scale human presence.

If that’s not clear: When we take seriously what physics, chemistry and biology tell us about the health of the living world on which we depend, we all should be thinking apocalyptically. Look at any crucial measure of the ecosphere – groundwater depletion; topsoil loss; chemical contamination; increased toxicity in our own bodies; the number and size of “dead zones” in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species and reduction of biodiversity; and the ultimate game-changer of climate disruption – and ask a simple question: Where we are heading? Scientists these days are talking about tipping points and planetary boundaries, about how human activity is pushing the planet beyond its limits.

If we look honestly at the state of the world, it is difficult not to conclude that we are in end times of sorts – not the end of the physical world, but the end of the First-World way of living and the end of the systems on which that life is based.

I know that invoking the terms “apocalypse” and “end times” triggers many people’s experiences with arrogant religious people who preach about deliverance fantasies. My message is not about a rapture that can be predicted, but about ruptures in the ecological and social fabrics that are underway and accelerating.

No matter how carefully I craft these statements – no matter how often I deny a claim to special gifts of prognostication, no matter now clearly I reject supernatural explanations or solutions – many people refuse to take this analysis seriously. Some people joke about “Mr. Doom and Gloom.” Others suggest that such talk is no different than conspiracy theorists’ ramblings about how international bankers, secret cells of communists, or crypto-fascists are using the United Nations to create a one-world government.

Even the most measured and careful talk of the coming dramatic change in the place of humans on Earth leads to accusations that one is unnecessarily alarmist, probably paranoid and certainly irrelevant in serious discussions about social and ecological issues. In the United States, people expect talk of the future to be upbeat, based on those assumptions of endless expansion and perpetual progress, or at least maintenance of our “way of life.” Even those who realize the danger of such fanciful thinking are hesitant to speak too bluntly, out of fear of seeming crazy.

A calm apocalypticism is not crazy, but rather can help us confront honestly the crises of our time and strategize constructively about possible responses. We can struggle to understand – to the best of our ability, without succumbing to magical thinking – the state of the ecosphere and the impediments to sensible action in our societies.

This struggle to understand led me to write a short polemic, We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out. The book’s message is simple: The big systems that structure our world, especially capitalism and the extractive economy, are incompatible with social justice and ecological sustainability. Those who have opportunities to write and speak out have a responsibility to articulate the radical analysis necessary to understand the problems and begin to identify solutions.

To think apocalyptically is not to give up on ourselves, but only to give up on the arrogant stories – religious and secular – that we modern humans have been telling about ourselves. Our hope for a decent future – indeed, any hope for even the idea of a future – depends on our ability to tell stories not of how humans have ruled the world, but how we can live in the world.

We are all apocalyptic now, whether we like it or not.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

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Nicole Foss chega-se à frente e descreve o que aí vem (sublinhados meus):

  

                     40 Ways to Lose Your Future

 

       People have been asking how we see the future unfold. In case you wonder what we stand for, much of our view of what’s to come can be found in the primers on the right-hand side bar. Here is an additional brief summary (in no particular order and not meant to be exhaustive) of the ground we have consistently covered here at TAE over the last year and a half, and before that elsewhere.

  1. Deflation is inevitable due to Ponzi dynamics (see From the Top of the Great Pyramid)
  2. The collapse of credit will crash the money supply as credit is the vast majority of the effective money supply
  3. Cash will be king for a long time
  4. Printing one’s way out of deflation is impossible as printing cannot keep pace with credit destruction (the net effect is contraction)
  5. Debt will become a millstone around people’s necks and bankruptcy will no longer be possible at some point
  6. In the future the consequences of unpayable debt could include indentured servitude, debtor’s prison or being drummed into the military
  7. Early withdrawls from pension plans will be prevented and almost all pension plans will eventually default
  8. We will see a systemic banking crisis that will result in bank runs and the loss of savings
  9. Prices will fall across the board as purchasing power collapses
  10. Real estate prices are likely to fall by at least 90% on average (with local variation)
  11. The essentials will see relative price support as a much larger percentage of a much smaller money supply chases them
  12. We are headed eventually for a bond market dislocation where nominal interest rates will shoot up into the double digits
  13. Real interest rates will be even higher (the nominal rate minus negative inflation)
  14. This will cause a tsunami of debt default which is highly deflationary
  15. Government spending (all levels) will be slashed, with loss of entitlements and inability to maintain infrastructure
  16. Finance rules will be changed at will and changes applied retroactively (eg short selling will be banned, loans will be called in at some point)
  17. Centralized services (water, electricity, gas, education, garbage pick-up, snow-removal etc) will become unreliable and of much lower quality, or may be eliminated entirely
  18. Suburbia is a trap due to its dependence on these services and cheap energy for transport
  19. People with essentially no purchasing power will be living in a pay-as-you-go world
  20. Modern healthcare will be largely unavailable and informal care will generally be very basic
  21. Universities will go out of business as no one will be able to afford to attend
  22. Cash hoarding will continue to reduce the velocity of money, amplifying the effect of deflation
  23. The US dollar will continue to rise for quite a while on a flight to safety and as dollar-denominated debt deflates
  24. Eventually the dollar will collapse, but that time is not now (and a falling dollar does not mean an expanding money supply, ie inflation)
  25. Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing in a positive feedback spiral, so both are likely to be protracted
  26. There should be no lasting market bottom until at least the middle of the next decade, and even then the depression won’t be over
  27. Much capital will be revealed as having been converted to waste during the cheap energy/cheap credit years
  28. Export markets will collapse with global trade and exporting countries will be hit very hard
  29. Herding behaviour is the foundation of markets
  30. The flip side of the manic optimism we saw in the bubble years will be persistent pessimism, risk aversion, anger, scapegoating, recrimination, violence and the election of dangerous populist extremists
  31. A sense of common humanity will be lost as foreigners and those who are different are demonized
  32. There will be war in the labour markets as unempoyment skyrockets and wages and benefits are slashed
  33. We are headed for resource wars, which will result in much resource and infrastructure destruction
  34. Energy prices are first affected by demand collapse, then supply collapse, so that prices first fall and then rise enormously
  35. Ordinary people are unlikely to be able to afford oil products AT ALL within 5 years
  36. Hard limits to capital and energy will greatly reduce socioeconomic complexity (see Tainter)
  37. Political structures exist to concentrate wealth at the centre at the expense of the periphery, and this happens at all scales simultaneously
  38. Taxation will rise substantially as the domestic population is squeezed in order for the elite to partially make up for the loss of the ability to pick the pockets of the whole world through globalization
  39. Repressive political structures will arise, with much greater use of police state methods and a drastic reduction of freedom
  40. The rule of law will replaced by the politics of the personal and an economy of favours (ie endemic corruption)

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André Gorz, 1977

“O capitalismo de crescimento morreu. O socialismo de crescimento, que se lhe assemelha como a um irmão gémeo, reflecte-nos a imagem deformada, não do nosso futuro, mas do nosso passado. O marxismo, embora continue insubstituível como instrumento de análise, perdeu o seu valor profético.”

[…]

“A igualdade material deixa de ser uma preocupação maior quando não é indício de uma estratificação hierárquica: a riqueza material não é insultante nem empobrecente para os outros se não vier acompanhada de um privilégio ou de um poder sobre outrem. A pobreza material não é humilhante se procede de uma escolha em contentar-se com menos e não de um ostracismo aos escalões inferiores da sociedade.

A resistência do “homem de esquerda” ocidental a estas verdades revela até que ponto o seu universo cultural e os seus valores de referência foram uniformizados pelas relações mercantis: a desigualdade, para ele, não significa “diferença”, mas uma divisão hierárquica de classe, conforme se tem “mais” ou “menos”. Apenas esta uniformização da valores, de modos de vida e de objectivos individuais permitiu estender as relações mercantis e o salariato a todos os domínios da actividade humana. ”

Ecologia e Liberdade, Tradução de A. Cautela, Editorial Vega, 1978, tiragem de 3 000 exemplares

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