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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Confronting Collapse

Book Review: Confronting Collapse by Michael C. Ruppert

“When the energy information bubble bursts and the truth is finally known, it may be too late for our entire species to do anything about it. That will be the ‘bubble’ that kills all of us. This book hopes to prevent that outcome.”

I take the author seriously. If you think I’m crazy, this book will help you make the transition from denial to acceptance.

I have reviewed some important books on this blog, but you can put them on hold. This book is more urgent than The Web of Debt, Christ in Egypt, or Crashing the Party. It is along the lines of The Party’s Over, which I reviewed in 2003, but is more specific to the present moment.

Oil is running out fast, and as the author shows, alternatives are either not realistic or ready. I wrote in 2003 that we can expect the price of just about everything to increase steadily and indefinitely. In 2010 this may be relative to income as unemployment persists.

As someone who is already convinced, I was curious how much of the book would focus on solutions instead of problems. And as someone who has already attempted to raise awareness through electoral politics, I was ready more for advice on how to survive the crisis as an individual, rather than how to persuade voters and politicians to do something. While most of the book is devoted to getting people up-to-speed on the problem, at the end Ruppert includes “An Emergency 25-Point Plan for Action.” And while all the points deal with public policy, the book did include a few instances of survival advice. As Ruppert writes at the end of the first chapter, “There are, in this book, many recommendations that can be taken by individuals, families, and communities without relying on government. A thorough reading of what follows will make that clear and hopefully disclose other steps I have not considered to the discerning reader.”

In the chapter on localization he writes, “There is no hope for any of us outside of a community. We must learn to work with our neighbors in developing sustainable lifestyles based upon reduced consumption and sharing of resources. This is difficult for Americans brought up on rugged individualism and competition and who have been taught to measure success in terms of consumer goods possessed and energy expended.” He goes on to praise Willits Economic Localization at http://well95490.org/.

The chapter on food contains links on permaculture, which is “an organic process intended to preserve soil fertility in perpetuity”:

Some of the resources look promising and I hope to explore these sites further. Already I have posted to Ruppert’s blog, http://www.mikeruppert.blogspot.com/, and received recommendations from other readers on what seeds to buy for a garden plot I am renting this summer. The blog has a link to the book and here’s a link to the corresponding film documentary: http://www.collapsemovie.com/. When Ruppert was in town for Q & A after the movie, I asked him where I should build an earth home, and he said the energy savings sounded good, but what I need, even more than a plan, are options, because the future is so uncertain.

Back to the book, after sparring at length with my friend Steve over nuclear power, I found this passage interesting: “There is not enough uranium to build enough reactors to meet energy demand globally.” (Source: “WMC Ideally Placed to Deal with Increased Uranium Demand”, http://www.azom.com/news.asp?newsID=2410)

And I found this passage particularly interesting, given my recent interest in police issues at the local level: “I was a rookie police officer living in Los Angeles when the 73 ‘Arab Embargo’ hit. The rationing that followed, along with economic impacts that lasted for a decade, were devastating. In the Los Angeles Police Department we were ordered to park our cars and sit in them for hours at a time to stretch fuel stocks. Crime soared. The bad guys knew we couldn’t/wouldn’t respond to maybe 50% of the calls. Gasoline thefts were occurring everywhere, ironically because the thieves knew we didn’t have enough gas to arrest them.”

I’m afraid that the recent threats, slurs, vandalism and violence over the new health care law by the “Tea Klux Klan” might be just a small foretaste of the social unrest we may face as a result of Peak Oil. Let’s hope we can find ways to mitigate or avert such an awful future.


At Fri Mar 26, 08:09:00 AM CDT, Blogger Jenna Orkin said...

great, tom.

At Fri Mar 26, 05:47:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Thanks Jenna!

At Mon Mar 29, 01:26:00 PM CDT, Blogger peakoildude said...

Excellent review Tom.

At Mon Mar 29, 01:31:00 PM CDT, Blogger Robert Paulsen said...

Fantastic review. I loved both the documentary and the book, but what I really appreciated about the book which you highlighted is the 25 points. There may be no all encompassing solution to the problems we face, but there will be options, and Ruppert did a fantastic job of revealing what they could be. If you get the chance to read it, Tom, here's the review I wrote of the film:


At Mon Mar 29, 06:11:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Thanks peakoildude! It was good to meet you on Saturday.

Good review, Robert! I didn't know the movie was out in November.

One thing that's clear is that the Dems are not moving on the 25-point plan. We don't have time for piecemeal incrementalism. Obama's approach to health care is piecemeal incrementalism, and Gore's approach to global climate change and peak oil would have been piecemeal incrementalism. I believe we would have had the economic crisis of 2008 under Bush, Gore, or Kerry, but not under Nader, Cobb, or McKinney. The need for REAL change was urgent in 2000, and it is urgent today.

At Wed Mar 31, 07:58:00 PM CDT, Blogger Tom Cleland said...

Yes, Obama is showing us what we would have gotten under Gore or Kerry: Piecemeal incrementalism in the face of crisis. This ought to vindicate Nader 2000 voters once and for all. Florida 2000 is when most people first started paying attention to Greens, which was a very good thing. Now people need to take a closer look, hopefully before things get a lot worse.


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