Monday, July 9, 2007

Twilight or Dawn?

Time to get back in the saddle here at Futurejacked after some much-needed downtime.

First off, thanks again to those who purchased a copy of Catastrophic Abundance over the weekend, I appreciate it and hope that the scenario planning methods prove very useful to you in the future.

Next we come to a theme I've been wrestling with for some time - are "we" (the Westernized world) topping out and about to enter into a long, traumatic and, in the end, invigorating "correction" (a drop in economic activity, a turn towards smaller and smaller social units and away from the nationstate, an upswing in violence and anger - standard socioniomic hypothesis for negative social mood) or are we building a base from which we will see one final explosion of positive social mood and all that entails - prosperity, goodwill in social relations, innovation and expansion of technology, etc.?

As you may have gathered, I am in the camp that believes that we are seeing a twilight of an expansion that has been running for at least 200 years or so. It would appear most indicators are topping out - whether it be petroleum production, markets, military influence of the current superpower, etc. There is a time to reap and a time to sow. The reaping is nearing completion, in my analysis. The time to restructure, to abandon the inefficient, to sow the seeds for whatever is coming next is approaching.

This is not a "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" view, this is just an approach that regards life and history as cyclical.

For instance, if we truly are at Peak Oil, in my view, the very human need for speed and transportation will come up with alternative ways of powering vehicles, power plants and processing facilities. The problem is, it will almost certainly take a collapse of the petroleum infrastructure to force this move because the Western World is built to run on liquid fossil fuels. There is not enough infrastructure - both physical and mental to make the jump yet. Not enough people are convinced it is necessary. The transition will be long and hard because there won't be enough wealth available to invest at first. Financial markets themselves may shutter for periods of this long crisis, exacerbating the problem of building up usable new methods of producing biodiesel, fertilizers, etc.

If the socionomic hypothesis proves correct in its predictions, then I truly expect that the idea of economic growth, of technological innovation, of optimism, will come under attack. At some point, things could be bad enough that scientists and free-thinkers may have to go underground in the face of environmental activism and terrorism that views growth or technological progress as "unsustainable".

It's getting across the abyss of the "correction" that is worrying me at the moment. Here's hoping we have one more big push forward before the decline.

More to come as I get my thoughts straight from my time off.

Good luck to you all, keep your eyes open and your powder dry.

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