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Tue Sep 10, 2019, 11:33 AM

Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse

Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse

It’s encouraging to see that the terms “climate crisis” and even “climate collapse”, which even five years ago were ridiculed as doomerism, are now considered perfectly reasonable descriptions of our current state. That doesn’t mean there is any consensus on how to address it, or any widespread willingness to change our lifestyle to match this new worldview. And it certainly doesn’t mean that climate collapse can be avoided or significantly mitigated. Still, it’s a start.

Lost in this new awareness, however, is that our global industrial economy is once again teetering on the edge of what will be a long drawn-out but ultimately permanent collapse. That’s a concern because if the more pervasive effects of economic collapse come first, there’s a good chance climate collapse will once again be ignored as our attention focuses on the more immediate existential crisis of economic suffering.

And it is very likely that the first dominoes of global economic collapse are, as a recent NYT article highlighted (sadly, behind a NYT paywall), about to fall. And the reasons for this are even more complex and even less understood than the reasons for climate collapse. Here are a few of them:


When economic crises are local, or when there are ways to re-jump-start the economy by correcting the underlying causes that led to the recession or depression, there are levers that can be used to intervene and restore the economy to health. But we used up the last of our available levers in 2008, and we are once again at the tipping point, and this time we are looking at a permanent and global economic collapse. We are finally going to have to face that our perpetual-growth, high-resource use, environmentally-ruinous, debt-faith-dependent economy was never sustainable, and was destined to collapse sooner or later. We will soon (probably in fits and starts over the next three decades or so) be forced to return to a radically relocalized, low-tech economy of sufficiency. It will not be a graceful transition.

In short, while climate collapse will render centralized, high-tech, high-energy use civilization unsustainable, and make much (and possibly all) of the planet uninhabitable, economic collapse will likely make our lives radically different, and will do so well before climate collapse weighs in with full force.

The collapse of our global industrial civilization will have two chapters. The economic collapse chapter will come first. The climate collapse chapter will just be the final blow. It’s unlikely that the survivors, by the end of this century, will be able to read this forecast, and it’s unlikely they will care about why or how it happened. They will be otherwise occupied.

More at the link.

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Reply Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse (Original post)
The_jackalope Sep 2019 OP
Newest Reality Sep 2019 #1
pbmus Sep 2019 #2
The_jackalope Sep 2019 #3
pbmus Sep 2019 #5
The_jackalope Sep 2019 #6
pbmus Sep 2019 #7
pbmus Sep 2019 #8
The_jackalope Sep 2019 #9
pbmus Sep 2019 #10
mr_lebowski Sep 2019 #4

Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 12:02 PM

1. And with that...

We now have to deal with climate grief which may initially be confused with some sort of premature, cynical, pessimistic reaction to recognizing and accepting the implications of the data and how drastic, even catastrophic change will inevitably come in regards to climate changes.

There are many ways to cope and one of them is to hope that there is a ways and a means to mitigate the changes in a way that will avert the more server results we can anticipate. Some will live with and cling to that, others will want to be more realistic about it and accept the ramifications.

The optimistic ones will most likely do little things, (or big) to feel better about their impact on the environment and with the notion that anything short of a complete change of lifestyle will have a significant effect. So, that's feel good and may, collectively have some small benefits.

The realistic ones will be more deeply into the data about the current situation, the ominous feedback loops that are emerging and the potential for an acceleration that has the potential to become exponential. They will either just live life as best they can, become severely disheartened and change their plans about "the future", or become involved in preparing, individually and in communities, to try to be more resilient and prepared for surviving the great difficulties and extreme hardships ahead.

So, the choices are varied. We only have so many resources. How much do we put to trying to deal with the still growing momentum of what continues to globally dominate the negative impact on the climate? How much do we look to alternatives that are only potentials, (with there own pros and cons) as possible solutions that may be too little, too late? How much do we devote to changing how we think of the future while beginning to prepare for a very different world ahead of us? Should we "invest" in the future, have children, imagine a livable world ahead?

That's for each to decide. Maybe just doing what you do, with even more gusto and presence, is another way to cope.

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 12:05 PM

2. What economic levers have we used up...??????

Last edited Tue Sep 10, 2019, 05:13 PM - Edit history (1)

The only reason the technologies appear not to be working/address the problems caused by fossil fuels is simple: these technologies are being blocked by governments, withheld by corporations, principally because they have too much invested in fossil fuel extraction and usage and are making shitloads of money from it. The all electric car is minimally utilised on this account; battery technology exists at much greater levels of efficiency than has been revealed, solar tech based on perovskite cells is maybe 25-40% more efficient than can be bought by the man in the street. I could go on and on. All these technologies and more are being prevented from usage/entrainment, because goverments and corporations have too much invested elsewhere and too much to lose. And don’t get me started on medicine and public health: the same considerations apply as those outlined above. The big contradiction is this: it’s not possible to have a practical, realisable, environmental policy framework, without enforceable population management policies and frameworks. Then we get to the root of all these issues:education. Education in the US, UK and elsewhere is designed to turn out compliant, easily managed consumers, who can be fed a diet of pap by the media, so that they can be ‘played’ at every turn, whatever the needs of the hour, whatever the needs of the ruling class at any point in time. Reality TV? That’s the last thing it is; rather it’s an important cog in the anaesthetisation of the population at large, so that they become receptive to and stay on message, whatever that happens to be. By and large the foregoing article accurately summarises where we are and where we’re headed, but it’s not because the means for alternatives don’t exist: it’s because, as a matter of policy, they’re not available.

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Response to pbmus (Reply #2)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 12:17 PM

3. I think he's referring to lowering interest rates and QE.

Economic levers are not technological. Certainly not short-term levers that could halt a slide toward global depression. Those levers are made of money.

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Response to The_jackalope (Reply #3)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 12:59 PM

5. If anybody thinks we only have 2 levers made of money...just way tooo simplistic...

Money is whatever is accepted to be that is mutually accepted between parties to satisfy any commercial business transaction or to settle a debt obligation.

Paper USD is money based upon its “acceptance” as such not because it has a gold or silver equivalent equal to the denominational print. It used to be. But after 1971, that ceased.

Real money is rare metals like gold and silver in denomination form. “Near real money” is paper certificates that provide the holder the option to exchange the currency for gold or silver. Fiat money is just “printed paper currency” with no underlying exchange capacity for gold or silver. Acceptance creates it's value.

All fiat currencies eventually fail because of monetary mismanagement by govt and banks, excess debt, loss of acceptance by users, or by international boycott. The average life expectancy is 50 years for any fiat currency. The USD reaches that mark in 2021.

The question is will the USD be replaced by a “new fiat currency” [socialism] or will it be restored to a stronger gold reserve currency [capitalism].

Money is a monetary chameleon with few people understanding the underlying significances due to bank and govt disinformation. Money can be kitchen spoons, tools, seeds, diapers, cans of oil, and bags of dried rice if the market chooses.

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Response to pbmus (Reply #5)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 01:55 PM

6. So do you think the global economy will outlast +4C?

I didn't say there were "only" two levers. I made a couple of suggestions. Next I time I do that I'll make sure to add "inter alia".

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Response to The_jackalope (Reply #6)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 02:20 PM

7. I take Ian's advice amongst others....

Growth in emerging markets has been the linchpin holding up the global economy at a time when advanced countries are threatening to unravel it.

That’s the view of former World Bank vice president Ian Goldin, who told CNBC Monday that the trade war’s limited impact on the U.S. has more to do with external factors than the country’s own economic health.

Goldin said the domestic U.S. economy enjoyed a “sugar rush” as a result of fiscal stimulus, such as tax cuts, that were introduced by President Donald Trump. But he noted that the underlying strength largely came from markets overseas.

“Emerging markets are growing, on average, by over 4.5%, and that is pulling up the world economy,” said Goldin who is currently an Oxford professor.

“If it wasn’t for emerging market growth,” he told CNBC’s Tanvir Gill, “we’d see much, much slower growth in the U.S. and in Europe.”



The sky is not falling, but when it does everyone will know it fell....

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Response to The_jackalope (Reply #6)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 02:48 PM

8. More to your. Question...

Some economists and traders see other positive economic effects in QE in the United States: The Fed buys Treasurys, which increases their demand and keeps their yields low. Since Treasurys are the source of long-term interest rates, it also supposedly keeps auto, furniture and other consumer debt rates reasonable. This is true for corporate bonds, as well, so businesses can expand with less worry.

Then there are the risks of relying on QE. Some economists believe that QE only benefits wealthy borrowers. By using QE to inundate the economy with more money, governments maintain artificially low interest rates while providing consumers with extra money to spend. This also can lead to inflation. Economists quibble as to whether inflation now exists. But worldwide food prices have been going up, gas prices are again on the rise, and various other goods and services cost more.

QE can also have the reverse effect on economies: Central banks can simply decide to use the extra funds to increase their capital reserves in their loan portfolio, not passing on the reduced rates to consumers. In the United States, the Fed cannot force banks to lend to anyone. QE can, therefore, possibly lead to social unrest if the rich and large corporations can borrow at the lower rates, leaving average citizens in their wake. QE also increases the deficit, which impacts all taxpayers, but has less effect on the wealthy.

In sum, QE has accomplished some of its objectives but dropped the ball on others. Lethal subprime mortgages were removed from banks’ balance sheets, it has helped stabilize the U.S. economy — for the moment, and it has kept interest rates low enough to temporarily revive the housing market. But if, for example, QE has run its course, it leaves behind low interest rates that give central banks little ammo to battle the next economic downturn.

The question remains as to whether QE has gone too far worldwide. Can the United States afford a $30 trillion debt, even with low interest rates? Is the current worldwide social unrest — with food inflation and a wealth gap — an unintended byproduct of QE lending practices? In other words, are the massive corporate stock buybacks by cheap money from QE and low interest rates from the Fed — that have fueled the decade-long stock market rally — a success or a failure?

Time, of course, will tell.


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Response to pbmus (Reply #8)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 02:58 PM

9. Which is the dependent variable?

a) the environment
b) the economy

I don't think you get what a world of environmental hurt the world is in.
I expect the global economy to become essentially irrelevant by +2.1 degrees C.
Economists should concentrate on having fun till then.

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Response to The_jackalope (Reply #9)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 03:14 PM

10. You have switched subjects and my first answer stands...

Where there is a will, there is a way..

Your chicken little approach to man made problems are not helpful.

We got here incrementally, the problems will be solved incrementally...

Most scientists agree the sun will not start burning out for several billion years...until then humans will continue to try to muck thru this thing we call life...

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Response to The_jackalope (Original post)

Tue Sep 10, 2019, 12:36 PM

4. Makes sense to me ... nt

This is the DU member formerly known as mr_lebowski.

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