Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Not with a bang, but a whimper

Several blogs have noticed a post called "The Slow Crash" on a blog by Ran Prieur. (Thanks to Flying Talking Donkey and How to Save the World.) In it Prieur posits a gradual degradation of the world's infrastructure and its political and social institutions under the pressure of energy shortages with crises followed by recoveries, followed by yet more crises. A "slow crash" could lead to two outcomes which are hinted at in his piece. The bad one is that we and our governments desperately try to maintain a centralized system of control. This implies a great deal of violence. The good one is that we come to realize that a decentralized system with lower energy requirements needs to be constructed and we set about creating just that. We may get some of both.

It's a bit of a disappointment for those looking for the apocalypse, environmental or religious; but, it's also more unnerving because it presumes that the signals given to society from its financial markets and its social and physical conditions will be ambiguous at first. There will be no handbook that tells us what they mean. If the energy crunch comes before we are ready, will we know how to intrepret the signals in front of us?

(Comments are open to all. See the list of environmental blogs on my sidebar.)

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