Home » Posts tagged 'collapse'

Tag Archives: collapse

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Venezuela collapse: looting, hunger, blackouts

Venezuela collapse: looting, hunger, blackouts

Looted grocery store in San Cristobal, Venezuela

Preface. Venezuela is experiencing a double whammy of drought and low oil prices, which has lead to blackouts and inability to import food, ultimately due to their oil production peaking in 1997.  The same fate awaits the U.S. someday when oil declines.

Related posts:

And Mexico may be the next to collapse, as you can read here.

***

2019. Venezuela’s Water System is Collapsing. New York Times.

In Venezuela, a crumbling economy and the collapse of even basic state infrastructure means water comes irregularly — and drinking it is an increasingly risky gamble. Scientists found that about a million residents were exposed to contaminated supplies. This puts them at risk of contracting waterborne viruses that could sicken them and threatens the lives of children and the most vulnerable.

The risks posed by poor water quality are particularly threatening for a population weakened by food and medication shortages. 

Electrical breakdowns and lack of maintenance have gradually stripped the city’s complex water system to a minimum. Water pumps, treatment plants, chlorine injection stations and entire reservoirs have been abandoned as the state ran out of money and skilled workers

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Final Act

The Final Act

In processing the flow of information about the goings on in the US, it is impossible to get rid of a most unsettling sense of unreality—of a population trapped in a dark cave filled with little glowing screens, all displaying different images yet all broadcasting essentially the same message. That message is that everything is fine, same as ever, and can go on and on. But whatever it is that’s going on can’t go on forever, and therefore it won’t. More specifically, a certain coal mine canary has recently died, and I want to tell you about it.

It’s easy to see why that particular message is stuck on replay even as the situation changes irrevocably. As of 2019, 90% of the media in the United States is controlled by four media conglomerates: Comcast (via NBCUniversal), Disney, ViacomCBS (controlled by National Amusements), and AT&T (via WarnerMedia). Together they have formed a corporate media monoculture designed to most effectively maximize shareholder value.

As I wrote in Reinventing Collapse in 2008, “…In a consumer society, anything that puts people off their shopping is dangerously disruptive, and all consumers sense this. Any expression of the truth about our lack of prospects for continued existence as a highly developed, prosperous industrial society is disruptive to the consumerist collective unconscious. There is a herd instinct to reject it, and therefore it fails, not through any overt action, but by failing to turn a profit because it is unpopular.”

Two years earlier, in a slideshow optimistically titled “Closing the Collapse Gap” (between the USSR and the USA), I wrote: “…It seems that there is a fair chance that the US economy will collapse sometime within the foreseeable future. It also would seem that we won’t be particularly well-prepared for it. As things stand, the US economy is poised to perform something like a disappearing act.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Collapse is not always a bad thing: the New Book by Ugo Bardi

Why Collapse is not always a bad thing: the New Book by Ugo Bardi

If you wish to receive a review copy or want to interview the author, please contact: 
Elizabeth Hawkins | Springer Nature | Communications 
tel +49 6221 487 8130 | elizabeth.hawkins@springer.com

PRESS RELEASEWhy collapse is not always a bad thingNew book provides an analysis of the process of failure and collapse, and outlines principles that help us manage these challenges in our lives Heidelberg | New York, 12 December 2019Image: © Springer Nature 

Everyone experiences collapse in their lives: you may lose your job, get sick, or a close friend or family member may die. Collapse also happens to structures such as buildings, and on a larger scale affects whole systems like companies, communities or even civilisations. In his latest book, Before the Collapse: A Guide to the Other Side of Growth, Ugo Bardi sets out an approach for facing failure and collapse on all scales. He calls his method the “Seneca Strategy” based on the teachings of the ancient Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

Bardi draws on Seneca’s philosophy to explain why collapse is a necessary part of our lives and the world, and why trying to avoid it may lead to bigger problems later on. Seneca recognised that growth is slow but ruin is rapid, yet sudden collapse does not have to take us by surprise. In six concise chapters, Bardi outlines the science behind the collapse of complex systems, how the future can be modelled, and gives numerous examples of past and possible future collapses. Some of the cases Bardi lists include natural disasters, like Florence’s Great Flood, the collapse of a business such as the bankruptcy of the video rental service Blockbuster, as well as famines, epidemics and depopulation. As Seneca famously said: “Nothing that exists today is not the result of past collapse.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Suppressing Dissent Guarantees Disorder and Collapse

Suppressing Dissent Guarantees Disorder and Collapse

The frantic efforts of am exploitive elite to eliminate dissent only accelerates the regime’s path to collapse.

Regimes that are losing public support always make the same mistake: rather than fix the source of the loss of public trust–the few enriching themselves at the expense of the many– the regime reckons the problem is dissent: if we suppress all dissent, then everyone will accept their diminishing lot in life and the elites can continue on their merry way.

What the regimes don’t understand is dissent is the immune system of society: suppressing dissent doesn’t just get rid of pesky political protesters and conspiracy theorists; it also gets rid of the innovations and solutions society needs to adapt to changing conditions. Suppressing dissent dooms the society to sclerosis, decline and collapse.

Dissent is the relief valve: shut it down and the pressure builds to the point that the system explodes. Regimes that no longer tolerate anything but the party line fall in one of two ways: 1) the pressure builds and the masses revolt, tearing the elite from power or 2) the masses opt-out and stop working to support the regime, so the regime slowly starves and then implodes.

Here in the U.S., the suppression of dissent is the work of the corporate media and the Big Tech monopolies: Facebook, Twitter and Google.  As Mark St.Cyr and I discuss in a new no-holds-barred podcast (1:08 hours, 4 segments), Big Tech is effectively suppressing dissent via shadow banning, de-platforming and de-monetization:– shadow banning: the audience who gets to see your content is throttled back to a fraction of your pre-shadow-banning audience.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong

Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong 

Bill McKibben, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Greta Thunberg, and Zion Lights of Extinction Rebellion
Climate scientists are speaking out against grossly exaggerated claims about global warming.GETTY

Environmental journalists and advocates have in recent weeks made a number of apocalyptic predictions about the impact of climate change. Bill McKibben suggested climate-driven fires in Australia had made koalas “functionally extinct.” Extinction Rebellion said “Billions will die” and “Life on Earth is dying.” Vice claimed the “collapse of civilization may have already begun.” 

Few have underscored the threat more than student climate activist Greta Thunberg and Green New Deal sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The latter said, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” Says Thunberg in her new book, “Around 2030 we will be in a position to set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.” 

Sometimes, scientists themselves make apocalyptic claims. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” if Earth warms four degrees, said one earlier this year. “The potential for multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” saidanother. If sea levels rise as much as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts, another scientist said, “It will be an unmanageable problem.” Today In: Business

Apocalyptic statements like these have real-world impacts. In September, a group of British psychologists said children are increasingly suffering from anxiety from the frightening discourse around climate change. In October, an activist with Extinction Rebellion (”XR”) — an environmental group founded in 2018 to commit civil disobedience to draw awareness to the threat its founders and supporters say climate change poses to human existence — and a videographer, were kicked and beaten in a London Tube station by angry commuters. And last week, an XR co-founder said a genocide like the Holocaust was “happening again, on a far greater scale, and in plain sight” from climate change.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Like Stalingrad: Italy’s Concrete Infrastructure is Melting in the Rain

Like Stalingrad: Italy’s Concrete Infrastructure is Melting in the Rain

The region of Liguria, within the red circle, is a narrow strip of land stuck between the Appennini Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also a critical element of the transportation system that connects France and the Po valley to the rest of Italy. As you may imagine, this heavily urbanized region is subjected to disastrous floods. The situation became so bad, recently, that the president of the Liguria region declared it was like the siege of Stalingrad, during WWII. The image above is from a presentation by Massimo Lanfranco, highly recommended!

When you have a fame of being a catastrophist or a Cassandra, reading that some of your prophecies turned out to be true may be a little unsettling. But it seems that I understood something correctly with the chapter of my recent book “Before the Collapse,” where I described how the world’s concrete infrastructure was getting old and decaying and how the situation was going to get worse with time.

In my take of the situation, I was inspired by the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genova, Italy, in 2018, but I was sure that worse things were going to happen. And it seems that I was right: the recent disasters in Southern Europe (France, Greece, and Italy) show how roads, railways, and buildings, are fragile, often on the edge of collapse. Rains heavier than usual are sufficient to create disasters, in part because of landslides and floods, in part because of the aged and weakened concrete structures. And, with climate change pressing forward, heavy rains are going to be more and more common.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

November 4th, 2019… Back in the Real World…

November 4th, 2019… Back in the Real World… 

Trawling through the market headlines this morning, I’m struck by the number of comments about how much better the investment environment looks. There is less likelihood of a global recession, corporate earnings aren’t as bad as expected, and jobs are growing. I am unconvinced. I see worrying connections across the wires.  From my perspective – which admittedly has been from a train in the middle of nowhere – its feels we’ve reached the end of the something.  Time has been called on this particular era of irrational market exhuberance. 

My spidey senses are tingling due to manner in which events across markets, individual stocks, politics, geopolitics and gut-instinct are connected. I’m not predicting sudden or massive financial collapse – just a wake up and smell the coffee correction in Bonds (which feels underway), and selective deflation in over-optimistic sectors of the stock markets. As always, any reversal will set off wailing and despair, yet most of the critical lessons will be missed.  Fear not – we will get another chance to relearn them in a few years time! (Blain’s Market Mantra No 2: The Market has no memory.)

It’s just as well we aren’t heading for the deep prolonged global recession so many naysayers have been predicting thru 2019. Slowdown yes. Trade is going to remain a problem. But growth drivers were changing anyway. Tech will change the world’s trade roads. China’s furious growth spurt of the last 20 years is over. India might be growing, but it lacks the state momentum to drive global growth the way China did. And climate change will prove deeply significant in the future as consumers are persuaded to believe food miles and imports matter. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pondering the Collapse of the Entire Shadow Banking System

Pondering the Collapse of the Entire Shadow Banking System

Image courtesy of my friend Chris Temple.

What’s behind the ever-increasing need for emergency repos? A couple of correspondents have an eye on shadow banking.

Shadow Banking

  • The shadow banking system consists of lenders, brokers, and other credit intermediaries who fall outside the realm of traditional regulated banking.
  • It is generally unregulated and not subject to the same kinds of risk, liquidity, and capital restrictions as traditional banks are.
  • The shadow banking system played a major role in the expansion of housing credit in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis, but has grown in size and largely escaped government oversight since then.

The above from Investopedia.

Hey It’s Not QE, Not Even Monetary

Yesterday, I commented Fed to Increase Emergency Repos to $120 Billion, But Hey, It’s Not Monetary.

Let’s recap before reviewing excellent comments from a couple of valued sources.

The Fed keeps increasing the size and duration of “overnight” funding. It’s now up $120 billion a day, every day, extended for weeks. That is on top of new additions.

Three Fed Statements

  1. Emergency repos were needed for “end-of-quarter funding“.
  2. Balance sheet expansion is “not QE“. Rather, it’s “organic growth“.
  3. This is “not monetary policy“.

Three Mish Comments

  1. Hmm. A quick check of my calendar says the quarter ended on September 30 and today is October 23.
  2. Hmm. Historically “organic” growth was about $2 to $3 billion.
  3. Hmm. Somehow it takes an emergency (but let’s no longer call it that), $120 billion “at least” in repetitive “overnight” repos to control interest rates, but that does not constitute “monetary policy”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Eurozone

QUESTION: Hi Marty,

I’m based here in South of England, within the commuter belt into London. The ECM forecasts an economic downturn 18.01.2020, and Europe looks to be at the epicentre. My own research tells me the job cuts in the auto sector in Germany are quite severe.

How does all this play out after January? We have already witnessed companies collapsing, Thomas Cook, and many teetering on the very of edge of collapse. How bad is this going to be, and how does this compare to 2008?

Of course, the next 3 months of 2019 are going to be very volatile, what I’m trying to understand is how does all this look like to the average city worker within finance, law or professional services.

Within my own peer group most are clueless on what is going on and perhaps they should be thinking of income protection rather than going out and buying £60k Range Rovers. The apathy never ceases to amaze me.

I welcome your insight. Thanks for your great work which keeps us mere mortals informed.

Cheers IB

ANSWER: The answer is very bad. The structure of the Eurozone is an absolute disaster. It is promoted as a single country, but it lacks everything that stands behind a currency. Just look at the tariffs starting between the USA and the EU. It is IMPOSSIBLE to negotiate a trade deal with Europe because each country can veto any deal, proving this is not a single country, and thus there is no substance behind the single currency. This is why I say Brexit is the only way for Britain to survive. It cannot negotiate any trade deals with the USA, China, Canada, or whoever because any other state can veto it. They surrendered their sovereignty and it is undermining the European economy.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Myth of Imminent Collapse

The Myth of Imminent Collapse

The ills that have haunted our species since time immemorial — starvation, illness, protection from the elements — are less prevalent than ever before. At the same time we’ve probably never been as disillusioned about the fruits of progress

Panicking about an imminent apocalyptic disaster, people march on the streets of the most prosperous cities in all of human civilization. They chant about impending extinction of humankind or the planet itself, about an unsustainable way of life, about an invisible gas produced as a by-product of our increasingly affluent lifestyles. Sixteen-year-olds are addressing the World Economic Forum and the UN imploring us to reconsider the irresponsibly disastrous path we’ve entered upon. Elected officials are proposing one fanciful idea after another on topics none of them seem to understand

More than one commentator has pointed to a crisis of spirituality and how radical environmentalism has filled the void left behind by religion. Moral outrages over plastic and the Amazon are blown entirely out of proportion. Virtue signaling and “taking a stance” are more important than effecting change. 

In that light, looking at actual societal collapses is relevant. When podcasts like Paul Cooper’s Fall of Civilization are trending on most platforms and the popular historian Dan Carlin’s forthcoming book The End Is Always Near is making huge waves, it is clearly time to dust off the work of esteemed geographer Jared Diamond — particularly his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, the follow-up to his Pulitzer Prize–winning Guns, Germs, and Steel (which just came out in a 20th-anniversary edition). This year he released Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis, which is a natural continuation of the broad-brushed portrait of the fundamental challenges for human societies that he has been painting for 20 years.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Falling From Grace

Falling From Grace

Years ago, Doug Casey mentioned in a correspondence to me, “Empires fall from grace with alarming speed.”

Every now and then, you receive a comment that, although it may have been stated casually, has a lasting effect, as it offers uncommon insight. For me, this was one of those and it’s one that I’ve kept handy at my desk since that time, as a reminder.

I’m from a British family, one that left the UK just as the British Empire was about to begin its decline. They expatriated to the “New World” to seek promise for the future.

As I’ve spent most of my life centred in a British colony – the Cayman Islands – I’ve had the opportunity to observe many British contract professionals who left the UK seeking advancement, which they almost invariably find in Cayman. Curiously, though, most returned to the UK after a contract or two, in the belief that the UK would bounce back from its decline, and they wanted to be on board when Britain “came back.”

This, of course, never happened. The US replaced the UK as the world’s foremost empire, and although the UK has had its ups and downs over the ensuing decades, it hasn’t returned to its former glory.

And it never will.

If we observe the empires of the world that have existed over the millennia, we see a consistent history of collapse without renewal. Whether we’re looking at the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish Empire, or any other that’s existed at one time, history is remarkably consistent: The decline and fall of any empire never reverses itself; nor does the empire return, once it’s fallen.

But of what importance is this to us today?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

There Is No Normal

There Is No Normal


The wheel of time rolls forward, never retracing its path, but because it is a wheel, and we are riding in it, a persistent illusion persuades us that the landscape is recognizably the same, and that our doings within the regular turning of the seasons seem comfortably normal. There is no normal.

There is for us, at this moment in history, an especially harsh turning (so Strauss and Howe would say) as our journey takes the exit ramp out of the high energy era into the next reality of a long emergency. The human hive-mind senses that something is different, but at the same moment we’re unable to imagine changing all our exquisitely tuned arrangements — especially the thinking class in charge of all that, self-enchanted with pixeled fantasies. The dissonance over this is driving America crazy.

The wheel hit a deep pothole in 2008 turning onto the off-ramp and has been wobbling badly ever since. 2008 was a warning that going through the motions isn’t enough to sustain a sense of purpose, either nationally or for individuals trying to keep their lives together ever more desperately. The cultural memory of the confident years, when we seemed to know what we were doing, and where we were going, dogs us and mocks us.

The young adults feel all that most acutely. The pain prompts them to want to deconstruct that memory. “No, it didn’t happen that way,” they are saying. All those stories about the founding of this society — of those Great Men with their powdered hair-doos writing the national charter, and the remarkable experience of the past 200-odd years — are wrong! There was nothing wonderful about it. The whole thing was a swindle!

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Economic Collapse Imminent: Zimbabwe At ‘Tipping Point’ With ‘Wheels Coming Off’

Economic Collapse Imminent: Zimbabwe At ‘Tipping Point’ With ‘Wheels Coming Off’ 

Zimbabwe’s economic situation will continue to sour in 2H19 due to unfavorable weather conditions, foreign currency shortages and widespread power cuts, its finance minister said, as he responded to a deteriorating economic outlook by blacking out inflation statistics through the second half, and finally acknowledged what the International Monetary Fund told him in April: economic turmoil ahead.

Prices of essential goods and services have, in some cases, quadrupled this summer, due to the government renaming the RTGS currency as the Zimbabwe dollar, which has been on a rapid decline amid shortages, including electrical power, petrol products, American dollars, and food, reported Bloomberg.

Many Zimbabweans who supported the toppling of decades-long ruler Robert Mugabe two years ago are discovering that their economic situation is the most serious in a decade.

Emmerson Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe in 2017, he promised millions of Zimbabweans of an economic revival and that we are “open for business.” The sugar high of optimism only lasted for a short time; the effects of money supply expansion through the sale of Treasury bills under Mugabe’s rule has outweighed any positive advancements in the last several years. Mnangagwa outlawed the American dollar in favor of local currency that can’t be traded internationally, effectively making it extremely difficult for international firms to do business in the African country.

“Zimbabwe is at a tipping point and if it falls over the edge it’s going to be quite a long way in coming back,” said Derek Matyszak, a Zimbabwe-based research consultant for South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies. “The wheels are falling off. There is no way out of a Ponzi scheme other than a massive infusion of cash to pay off your creditors.”
*chart

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BOOM! Fossil Fuel Combustion and the Mother of All Economic Busts

BOOM! Fossil Fuel Combustion and the Mother of All Economic Busts

Photograph Source: Eric Kounce TexasRaiser – Public Domain

William Catton focussed on what follows a boom in the human population. He spelled out the scenario in his 1980 book, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. As one reviewer put it, “Catton believed that industrial civilization had sown the seeds of its own demise and that humanity’s seeming dominance of the biosphere is only a prelude to decline.”

Catton hasn’t been alone. Many others have warned or at least implied an inevitable human population bust. But that inevitability is no longer likely to hit solely from overshoot alone, and not in some far-distant future. Instead, with the added pressure from our booming combustion of fossil fuels, a human population bust could plausibly be kicked into gear sometime “by” — a.k.a. before — 2050, or within the next 30 years.

This could be the mother of all economic busts.

The human population boom has been the bedrock of economic boom in sector after sector. It’s been the bedrock foundation of a profit boom for the fossil fuel combustion industries that now put it at risk. In the US alone, the booming human population has been the wellspring for surging numbers of visitors to the likes of Yellowstone National Park, city managers bent on promoting growth, the basis of soaring demand for logging to supply housing for a growing human herd.

Booms thus enjoy considerable public approval and political popularity. Over and over again, the long-ongoing human population boom has afforded the political elites and local boosters an opportunity to boast of a booming economy, sometimes raising local and even national concerns that they tout growth at any cost.

Bust, on the other hand, is a dirty four-letter word.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Destroy a Civilization

How to Destroy a Civilization

There are lots of ways to kill off a civilization. Wars, politics, economic collapse. But what are the actual mechanics? It might be a useful thing to know whether or not we are killing ourselves off.

Ancient Rome is a good place to start. They had an advanced civilization. They had running water, sewers, flush toilets, concrete, roads, bridges, dams, an international highway system, mechanical reapers, water-powered mills, public baths, soap, banking, commerce, free trade, a legal code, a court system, science, literature, and a republican system of government. And a strong army to enforce stability and peace (Pax Romana). It wasn’t perfect, but they were on their way to modernity.

One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Tullius Cicero, statesman, orator and writer (106-43 BCE):

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

If that isn’t a mark of a civilized society I don’t know what is.

But Rome collapsed. I often wonder what would have happened if it hadn’t. Could we have avoided a thousand years of the Dark Ages. Could we have been flying airplanes and driving cars in the year 1000?

What the hell happened to Rome?

Dictators. After 500 years, the famous Roman Republic ended with the dictator Julius Caesar taking power. Four hundred years later his progeny and usurpers ran the Empire into the ground and Rome fell to invading barbarians.

The standard explanation for Rome’s decline and fall is that they devolved into dictatorships (true, but not the cause of their fall). Or they became decadent and corrupt (true, but not the cause of their fall). They fell to barbarian invasions (true, but not the cause of their fall).

Rome fell because the dictators ruined the Roman economy and the institutions that had made it prosperous. Rome was falling apart before the barbarian invasions.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase