Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Different Way of Looking At Things

When predicting the future, most people work with present trends and extend them into the future. With the economy, for example, people attempt to predict, given present trends, what future realities will be. The problem is, nobody can agree on what's really happening now, much less what the trends are.

I have predicted several times (though I do it as seldom as possible), that somewhere in the unspecified future we can expect a massive die-off of humans and many, if not most, other species. The key piece of evidence in this prediction is the fact that global warming is liberating massive amounts of methane from the permafrost and bed of the Arctic Ocean. This methane will increase global warming, which will cause yet more methane to be released, and so forth, causing a runaway greenhouse effect. It's impossible to say at this time what the consequences will be. In the most extreme case, we could end up destroying all life on our planet, way to go, team! At the very least, in my opinion, civilization will be destroyed.

All this is just a hypothesis. Those of us reading this little rant will quickly ignore it and go about our daily lives, producing prodigious amounts of pollution as we go. The point is: we will keep on doing what we're already doing until circumstance prevents us from doing it anymore. It's the human way. We are incapable of consciously shifting direction; I'm sorry to disabuse any idealists out there. All we can do is sleepwalk our way to oblivion or whatever the logical consequence of our behavior may be.

So... projecting backward from our hypothetical die-off, we find a point where the economy totally breaks down, and I mean totally. Imagine... even the wealthy are penniless! (Because the concept of money will no longer mean anything.) Before this happens, there will be severe economic dislocations, famines, millions of desperate refugees, etc. and the inevitable rise of wealthy warlords. (There's nothing like having an army of Blackwater Guards in your employ to make your world feel snug and secure.)

There's little doubt in my mind "what" will happen; the only question is "when." I tend to have a leisurely attitude about such things. The Earth is in no hurry; the "human problem" will be taken care of in God's good time. In the past, when I've made a time-specific prediction, people are quick to tell me, with absolute certainty (where they get their knowledge I'll never know) that I am wrong, that there will be a mega-crash in 5 years or in 2012 or whenever. Could be; I'm merely proposing a hypothesis, after all. But I suspect the future will be a long, drawn-out whimper, with the occasional bang to keep things interesting.

Like they say, "May you live in interesting times." But we'll all be dead long before things get really interesting.


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