We are approaching the Ides of March 2020 .The Corona Virus is all the rage here in the US. The markets are crashing, the president is babbling and the virus is setting up house keeping here in the New World. The chaotic brain of the of the Tweeter in Chief is on full display lurching from pillar to post as he issues strange and contradictory pronouncements on the Corona Virus pandemic generally downplaying its significance while praising his (mis)mangement of it and blaming the media for exaggeration and fake news. It is clear there will be no leadership from the White House. Even formerly respected organizations like the WHO and the CDC have made some really stupid decisions like delaying calling this obvious Pandemic, a pandemic and in the case of the CDC shipping thousands of defective proprietary testing kits to labs around the country with restrictive testing guidelines and at the bargain price of $3700 since reduced to a discounted $3200. Trust in government seems to be fading fast and with good reason. A lot of bloggers, myself included have maintained for years that the current industrial civilization reliant as it is upon cheap fossil energy and fueled by rampant financialization and debt was getting long in the tooth. All empires have a lifespan and eventually fail and there is often a triggering event. These triggers have been wars, environment collapse or climate change, wealth inequality and yes Pandemics. The 14th century gave us the Black death which proliferated in Europe’s newly built and crowded cities and may have killed 50% of the population. The microorganism was likely Pasturella Pestis carried by rodents and marmots displaced from East Asia by drought and climate change. Does that sound familiar? It should, because in many ways we share some of the same living conditions of 600 years ago. We are living in dense urban and suburban enclaves, crowded together on mass transportation, dependent upon tenuous supply chains and isolated from food and water sources and nature. Most of the products we need and rely upon are made elsewhere. We make very little of of what we need and live in a consumption based throwaway economy. Most of us are unhealthy and fat and not a part of an emotionally supportive community. In 1790 only 5% were living in cities and by this century over 80%. This is a perfect setup for a pandemic especially a new virus for which there was no herd immunity. The globalized nature of crowded transportation facilitated a rapid dissemination of the novel Corona Virus and so here we are squabbling over what to do about it while we swarm big box stores stocking up on TP and bottled water. I think it is self evident we are looking at some degree of political collapse which is not confined to the US. We are well along into environmental collapse with all manner of species going extinct, with glaciers melting and temperatures rising. We have blown through most of the worlds accessible non renewable natural resources and the keystone resource, Oil, is increasingly being seen as finite with most of it in control of shaky and tyrannical governments. Global Central bank policies and money printing have destroyed our markets making it impossible to discern true market value of anything. The banks have usurped the political process by obtaining free money from the government using fractional reserve lending promoting rampant borrowing which has had the effect of shifting consumption forward and sending millions into penury. Consume. Consume. CONSUME! It is hard for this author not to believe that we are lurching toward some form of economic and financial collapse., Cheap and abundant fossil energy has created cheap and abundant machine produced food and fed billions of mouths who rely upon that food often produced and shipped by the same fossil energy from one continent to another. When that business model fails so will food distribution and production. We are in overshoot and the consequence of overshoot in an ecological system is a die off. Many authors such as Dimitri Orlov have made the contention that in many regions we are enduring forms of social collapse manifested by among other things, dangerous drug addiction and overdose and senseless mass killings even of school children. This was not happening 100 years ago.
It’s my guess that if this pandemic does not trigger a collapse of an unsustainable civilization, there will be another one coming along down the track that will. This is good news for the planet if we can go from an extractive consumption based economy to one where we use less carbon emitting energy we might be able to build a new civilization using available renewable materials.