Monday, March 24, 2008

I watched the End of Suburbia last night; I hadn't seen it in awhile and since I recently recommended it to someone I thought I'd watch it again myself. With the recent happeneings on the economic front and oil being over $100 a barrel, and (at least in my opinion) not likely to ever go below $100 again, I was kind of watching to see how much of the movie is begining to come true. I can't even begin to list everything. I also was reimpressed with a couple of things, the first being how much of the food we eat is dependent on oil. Our fertilizers and insecticides are oil based, the machines we use to plant and tend and harvest that food run on oil. The plants that process that food are in a good many cases run on electricity that is derived from some sort of fossil fuel, and we get that food to our grocery stores on trucks which run on oil derived diesel. Without a source of oil we are trully a starving planet. Actually there is an excellent photo essay called "What the World Eats" in two parts here:,29307,1626519,00.html
and here:,29307,1645016,00.html

What's really striking in these pictures is how much of the food is processed. It's remarkable how our food is awash in petroleum products. We cannot sustain life in the numbers that currently populate this planet without fossil fuel. And yet we go right along squandering the most precious resource we have, driving to fucking Wal-Mart to buy stuff made in China in our SUV's. Sometimes I agree with Siobhan that we are the stupidest race on this planet and we deserve to become extinct. However there are some signs that the party is about to end. With it looking like we have already reached worldwide peak oil production and that it will never again be less than $100 a barrel , combined with rising food prices and the burst housing bubble, the outlook for the average American is not rosy. It's pretty apparent we are on the verge of a collapse that may escalate into Biblical proportions rather quickly. Even if we stave off the ramifications of oil depletion for awhile (although I don't know how we can do that) economically we're fucked. The middle class has shrunk to a shadow of what it once was, unemployment is higher (probably much higher) then the reported numbers, every thing is higher priced, and we are in a recession that I think is the beginning of the the Great Depression of the 21st century. In the meantime, the economists and bankers and government officials use fake numbers that don't account for the neccessities of life, like food and fuel, and the real number of the unemployed, to paint a nice picture; but they are increasingly unable to keep up the appearance. In the last month or so 2 financial institutions have failed, and although Bear Stearns was given a bail out, (I don't know all the details on the failed European bank), there's really no way to bail every one out once the domino effect kicks in. And with all the bad loans sliced and diced and repackaged and resold, who the hell even knows who has what. And the fed drops interest rates and prints 2 billion worthless dollars to flood the market place in some kind of crazy sleight of hand manuoever so that maybe we won't notice whats really happening. No it's not a pretty picture at all. And we play it all out against the backdrop of Peak Oil and Climate Change.
And like the hypocrite I am, I still go to my worthless job to sell cheap crap to the stupid soccer moms of suburbia.


Melissa said...

You're doing everything you can to tell people about this and to put your ideals into practice by recycling old clothes and selling them on a community-based website like etsy. Don't be so down on yourself!

Paula said...

I know there are some good things and it isn't all gloom and doom. Actually there are some people who are doing great jobs of redesigning communities to show how we can work, live and run our economies on a sustainable, local level. There are ways to farm, work and furnish power to individual villages and neighborhoods so that life goes forward rather than backwards. It just seem like so few people really know or care.
Actually, I added 3 new things to what we are doing on a personal level. As the crappy plastic cheap tupperware that grandma has gets melted, or used for dyes making them no good for food, I am replacing them with lidded glass containers, then I am making dad and I reusable fabric lunch bags, and I am going to use my treadle rather than my regular machine as much as I can. The last will be a lot of fun, as well as saving energy!

Melissa said...

Hey, that's cool! I also started using corningware with plastic lids instead of baggies and other tupperware. I worry that I'm using so much more water now that I wash all of this stuff every day when I get home. How do you compare the use of extra water to throwing away a plastic bag? Someone should come up with a chart of equivalences.
I just came across this great UN report about the environmental hazards of the livestock industry. It's huge, but worth a look:

The EYE said...

though i agree with much of what you're saying, it really must be noted that oil prices are not going up much at all throughout the rest of the world, only in the u.s.

the reason isnt peak oil, not yet (though it may be around the corner, it isn't here yet). the reason is the tanking american dollar. this has been the inevitable point on the downward spiral ever since we cut off the gold standard backing the dollar - now bank numbers exist with no true value backing it up.

much of the world economy will crash when the u.s. economy crashes because of the inevitible crash of the dollar (heck, much of the western hemisphere has an economy based on the u.s. dollar). that will happen well before oil causes a worldwide crash.