Home Pharos Fiction Site Map Updates Search


                                                                                                                        Back Next

Halexandria Foundation
Sacred Mathematics
Connective Physics
Chronicles of Earth
Justice, Order, and Law
Extraterrestrial Life
Creating Reality
Tree of Life

The Party's Over

New Webpage -- 1 November 2005

Several years ago, I began collecting a small filing cabinet worth of information on the state of the world -- primarily the fact that those physical aspects, all of which might be considered to be the essential material and energy sources for civilization, were being depleted at an alarming rate. In all respects, we were running out of fresh water, energy, space, patience, and philsophical tolerance. The working title of the envisioned book was The Party’s Over. Possibly not the most original title, but effective nonetheless.

The only problem was that the material I had so laboriously gathered, catalogued and outlined in great detail painted an extremely dismal picture. Reviewing these notes left me in a similar state. Accordingly, I shoved the project aside for greener and considerably less depressing pastures.

Nevertheless, all good tales must rise to the surface. The good news in this case, however, is that the following is not the whole filing cabinet full of stuff. Instead, it's just those essentials which tend to override everything else. Let's face it, the price of toilet paper will be largely irrevlevant when there's no water to flush the toilet.

But there is also good news. I finally found the silver lining in those dark, seemingly threatening clouds. Thus the motivation to write this... well... tome. (Which does not, by the way, rhyme with bomb.) Of course, someone's silver lining is another's frayed edges -- and thus not all with find the hope suggested herein. Which is okay, inasmuch as they have the absolute right to expect doom in whatever manner they choose.

Peak Oil

The first dark cloud on the horizon is not the burning oil fields or the ocean slicks of oil tankers run afoul, but rather the coming demise of black gold. This might be good news for the sea gulls who are really sick and tired of oil spills on their stomping grounds. But for humans dependent upon a civilization in which to live something akin to civilized lives, one of the basic ingredients -- in particular, cheap energy -- has turned the corner such that "cheap" will no longer be energy's first name.

Peak Oil: Life After the Oil Crash is an extraordinary essay on this key issue of the world rapidly approaching the point where it can no longer fuel the economy. In effect, according to these authors, "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon."

How soon? The Peak Oil concept only suggests that half of the oil in the world is gone. It's just that at our present and future rates of consumption we will use up the last half in thirty or forty years -- after taking 150 years to finish off the first half. But literally punching a small hole into the ground for oil (then) and drilling thousands of feet to find oil in some of the most hostile places on earth (now) makes for a very severe economic statement.

But don't expect to go another decade or so before noticing the results of having gone over the top in our oil usage. The Peak Oil essay makes the point -- among many others -- that the ramifications of Peak Oil on the world is similar to those of dehydration for the human body. While an average 200 pound male might carry 140 pounds of water (and/or beer), the loss of as little as 10-15 pounds may be enough to kill him -- or else drive him to drink. Correspondingly, a reduction of 10-15 percent in an oil based economy "is enough to wholly shatter an oil-dependent economy and reduce its citizenry to poverty."

Well, there's that, but Polyanna might mention that the key phrase was "civilization as we know it." In light of the current condition of civilization, its near-term destruction or obsolesence might not seen all that bad an idea. In fact, an economy based on something other than fossil fuels might have a great deal of appeal. A few iconoclasts who prefer the life of "cut wood, carry water" may in fact find the possible demise of civilization as we know it strangely comforting. But when one considers the amount of water needed to be carried for a nice hot bath, one might want to recall that Walden was only a temporary abode for Thoreau. (And there are precious few places left on earth for such a simple life, and only for a very, very small percentage of the population.)

Life After the Oil Crash does consider such alternatives to fossil fuels as solar, wind, and similar techniques. But it also correctly notes that these particular alternatives are unlikely to add more than a few years to our civilization's oily lifetime. What the essay does not consider are the fundamentally paradigm busting attributes of such new energy and propulsion sources as might be derived from technologies ranging from zero-point-energy to The Fifth Element.

These latter hopeful devices are, however, currently being ignored in the marketplace for political, economic (including a massive amount of greed), and even legitimately philosophical reasons. (More on this later.) In the interim, civilization is now turning the corner on Peak Oil and it's pretty much of a downhill slide from here.

But not to worry about such things inasmuch as there are far darker clouds looming on the horizon.

Global Warming

Global Warming is, as detailed elsewhere, even more threatening to "civilization as we know it". On the one hand, as the massive ice shelves in Antartica proceed to march into the ocean -- and subsequently melt in the increasingly warmer water -- the ocean level throughout the world is very likely to increase by as much as 200 feet. That might not seem like much, until one realizes that the vast bulk of the world's population would be displaced with a 200 foot high tide.

Almost all major cities and human population living areas are at elevations of less than 200 feet -- people having a decided preference against climbing up the steps, stairs, slope, hill, or mountain, (It's a strange version of the Conservation of Energy.) The cities were, of course, placed in such a locale for easy access to ocean-going shipping (so that we could import Pokeman dolls and the like). Meanwhile the people gravitated (pardon the pun) to the lower lying cities.

Because of this there is the potential for the bulk of the world's population to find themselves in deep water (deep enough in fact to make New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina sound like a day at the beach). Or else they may be heading for the hills. The fundamental problem that that scenario raises is that there is a distinct lack of ability on the the part of the hills to provide the spaces and resources for a massive migration of most of the world's population.

The curious part about global warming, however, is that it is also likely in the longer term to interfere with such ocean currents as the Gulf Stream. Fresh water from the melting of ice caps will modify the salt content of the ocean in such a way as to effectively eliminate the Gulf Stream current and bring to Europe the same weather conditions as enjoyed in Siberia. This is, however, not so much an Ice Age, as just very much colder weather -- weather conditions which do not necessarily include a lot of precipitation (including snow). Fairbanks, Alaska, for example, gets much less snow fall than Buffalo, New York.

Global warming, therefore, has the potential for doing far more damage to "civilization as we know it" than does the initial stages of the downhill slope in Peak Oil. The only good news is that with less and less oil, there would be less and less burning of same, and thus less and less pollutants being tossed into the atmosphere -- and therefore, less contribution to the problem of global warming in the first place. The bad news -- there is always that -- is that global warming has already reached the point where the Peak Oil scenario is unlikely to have the positive effect in time to make a difference.

[Pointless aside: Bad news is not all bad news. As Douglas Adams has pointed out, one enterprising group built a spaceship propulsion system built on the demonstrated truth that nothing travels faster than bad news. These inventors were technically successful, but then they discovered that even when they arrived more quickly than via other methods, they (like bad news) were never welcomed, and accordingly there was no advantage to traveling faster. Thus the technology fell into disuse and was eventually declared obsolete.]

One wag suggested that Weather Modification -- as practiced by various governments and non-governmental groups -- might be able to help us out, but reality being the reality that it is, the degree of weather control currenty practiced by various organizations is not even remotely in the same league as global warming -- by many degrees of magnitude. Weather modification might be capable of many things -- as discussed in some detail at Pure Energy Systems News (with a lot of interesting links) -- but it's not going to be enough to challenge the inexorable march of global warming.

[Conspiratorial Aside: Weather Modification of the covert kind is discussed in great detail (Richard has never been known as a man of a few words) by Hoagland.]


The planet Earth has plenty of water. There are, for example, the oceans. However... humans much prefer (read: need for survival) fresh water. The addition of salt is not something humans prefer in their drinking -- except of course when used with lime and Tequila. Unfortunately, the latter liquids are more likely to cause dehydration -- one of the surest means to ill health and in extreme cases, death.

In addition to the absolutely essential need for fresh water, there is the added caveat of the need for clean, fresh water -- that is water free of harmful bacteria, bugs, crud, and various inputs from politicians of all stripe. The alternative is all manner of sickness, disease, and general dehabilitation. You can also throw up.

On a global scale, there is currently not enough water to provide the human population with enough hydration for good health. Worse yet, with an expanding population and the continuing loss of fresh water resources, we are rapidly reaching the point where there is not enough fresh, clean water for life. If you thought that oil wars were a problem, water wars will make the oil and gas conflict appear almost trivial.

Some clever chaps have pointed out that through the process of desaltinization, the ocean water could be converted to fresh water with the appropirate application of energy. Of course, the Peak Oil problem suggests the limited viability of this scenario. Others have thought about dragging ice bergs from the ice caps to offshore locations and pumping the fresh water to shore. Cool idea, but it again requires tugs using a LOT of energy. Curiously, this might just be human ingenuity finding another way to again accentuate the problem of global warming.


The obvious problem with this serious lack of water and oil, and combined with global warming, is that all of the problems stem from too many humans on the planet. The root of the problems stem directly from the activities of humans to the point where the world has several billions humans above any viable long term carrying capacity of the planet. There is simply not enough energy, water, food, space, or most any other essential need of human beings on the planet which would allow the vast majority of the population to live in a truly civilized manner.

Furthermore, a fundamental problem with overpopulation is that whenever any other world problem is addressed, any perceived or activated solution is almost always negated by the continuing boom in population. It's as if all solutions to other problems simply put off the day of reckoning a few more years. Worse yet , by putting off the problem for a few years, the overall problem becomes ever more impossible to solve without truly drastic means -- particularly those means in which Mother Nature takes matters into her own hands.

Meanwhile, human attempts at controlling their own population -- as a means of being able to address other problems and otherwise -- tend to meet with intense, massive over-reactions from people who think of prolific child bearing as an inalienable right. This typically involves a religious view or paradigm -- such as ye olde multiply and subdue the earth jazz. There is also the likelihood of a massive amount of paranoia in that those with little or no conscience concerning the burden of overpopulation almost always claim bias, racism, and several other isms when any conscientious individual suggests anything which might limit the breeder's rights to procreate.

And thus the idea of mandatory limits on procreation are only viable where freedom is not a household word -- such as in Red China where the government is loath to discuss the potential for the enthusiastic acceptance of its edicts.

Curiously, proposed solutions which advocate voluntary compliance with limitations on the size of families tend to have an unexpected, somewhat negative effect. Those individuals who are willing to limit themselves for the good of society quickly find themselves a decreasing minority in a society where the increasingly dominant majority consists of those people who refuse to consider others when procreating like rabbits. Inevitably, concerned, conscientous people tend to find themselves at the mercy of those who don't give a damn. Pope Benny might like the idea of an increasing majority of Catholics, but considering the rate at which Catholics are abandoning the medieval-based thinking of the current church might tend to prevent the reality of such thinking.

For more thinking on this vital subject, Overpopulation.org -- as the name might imply -- provides a wide variety of articles, including "Why Population Matters", the latter a very nice introduction to the topic. Of course there is also "Y6B: 1999 -- Year of 6 Billion People," which puts an historical aspect to the equation.

Religious Fundamentalism

There has been in recent years a rising religious fundamentalism. The basic gist of this trend is that religious fanatics view themselves as righteous even when killing, maiming, or committing any crime in order to control those who do not have the same narrow, torturous beliefs. (And even to control those who do!)

There is the classic tale of a man finding a woman about to jump off a bridge. He runs to her and tries immediately to disuade her from suicide. He tells her that this is not the way to go and that she must instead resort ot her faith. When she seems to be temporarily hesitant at this remark, the man adds that his Baptist religion has always been his bulwark in times of distress. The woman, seeming to begin to rethink her situation, replies that she too is a Baptist. Smiling the man asks if she's a Southern Baptist. She smiles and says yes. Then stepping back just slightly from the precipice, she asks him if he's orthodox or reformed. The man says reformed, and she smiles in agreement. Then the man asks if she's a member of the 1842 Reformation or the 1898 Reformation. When she says 1898, the man immediately pushes her off the bridge and yells, "Die, you sin-ridden, non-believing, blasphemous whore!"

Many religious fundamentalists (such as Dominionists) believe that it is perfectly okay to kill others whose beliefs are only marginally different. These same fundamentalists are willing to wage war (with other people in harm's way of course) because of minor, trivial, and pointless differences in religious tenets. What is truly astounding that while murder and killing are inevitably forbidden by their religion, these fundamentalists rationalize their killing as "protecting the faith" and in fact are promised rewards by the leaders of their religion. Clearly these people are insane.

Much of the views presented in religion, faith, Dominionism, and obsolesence are appropriate here. But there is also the possibility that certain aspects of religion and faith may provide sorely needed comfort in the days ahead. And it is to this end, that we might yet find a reason to go on -- other than the decided amount of trouble involved with not going on.

In terms of the overpopulation and vanishing resources problem, one might be able to see a silver lining in all of this. One might think, for example, that if enough religious fundamentalists kill enough of other religious fundamentalists in their quest of religious purity, then the rest of us will be rid of them and the overpopulation problem somewhat alleviated.

Unfortunately, this scenario never really works. For example, when Chiang K'aishek sent his non-essential Chinese Nationalists troops to combat Mao Tse-Tung's Red Army in the 1930's -- hoping that the two sides would decimate each other and Chiang would be rid of both troublemaking groups -- he was soon confronted with massive desertions by his non-Central troops and wholesale surrenders to the Red Army. Mao then converted Chiang's own troops to his side, and happily accepted their weapons, supplies, and equipment! [1]

It is equally clear that religious moderates cannot hope for the fanatics of differing persuasion killing each other off. Life in the big bad dramatic world is just not that simple or delightful. In fact, most religious fanatics have a leadership which would never deign to put themselves in harm's way and always find a way to send others to do their dirty work. Such leaders will always be Chicken Hawks -- that wonderful designation donned by so many so-called Neo-Conservatives in America today who fervently believe in "We the few, the rich, the elite, born to kill, not serve." One might suspect that this is also Osama bin Laden's credo. Birds of a feather tend to use the same methods.

But the real problem is that religious wars tend to aggravate the energy, water, space, and every other resource problem. Worse yet, war is a notoriously lousy way to reduce the population in that those dying tend to be the cream of the crop. It's the same problem as encountered with voluntary attempts to reduce the world's overpopulation.


Things are starting to look a bit bleak, I know, but there is also the pending threat of a pandemic in the near future. Currently, the talk is all about the Avian Flu and its potential to be the deadliest flu virus in the world.

Those individuals and organization with just the slightest tinge of cynicism tend to suspect that the threat -- whether overblown or not -- is being used as an excuse to easily enforce martial law on a compliant and grotesquely misinformed public. Michel Chossudovsky, for example, while assuming that the Avian Flu threat is real suggests that the United States government will use the pretext to use military units to quarantine (aka control) the country in a form of imposed martial law unprecedented in the history of the Republic). Simultaneously the Avian flue threat will provide a financial windfall to the pharmaceutical companies and the vaccine makers which have financial ties with the reigning Bush family.

Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists tend to think of the Bird Flu as the product of the power elite's intention to reduce the world's population by the time honored method of allowing everyone else not part of your personal society to die of disease. The scenario would be to allow the Avian Flu to go unchecked except for those chosen by themselves to survive. Unfortunately (or fortunately) such a scenario is probably not truly viable in that diseases tend very strongly not to play favorites. Vaccines, for example, cannot be expected to provide much protection, if any.

But then, even if a pandemic was solely the product of Mother Nature -- as a natural reaction to the blight of humans upon her stressed out planet -- the potential radical depopulation might actually have a positive effect on the water, energy, and space shortage problems. Global Warming might continued somewhat unabated, but with a massively reduced population in the world, migrations to warmer climates could potentially be tolerated a great deal more easily.

The loss of millions, perhaps billions, of humans to a pandemic is obviously not an ideal solution to overpopulation. But the potential horror or catastrophic nature of such an event is largely colored by one's view of death. If all the souls not staying on planet are heading for their promised rewards in heaven, Valhalla, or the happy hunting grounds, then what is the problem? There is also the potential for a great deal of fun as fundamentalists find themselves on the same bus as their worst enemies -- but without the means to do each other harm. Wouldn't that be a delight!

There is another view which needs to be mentioned. One of the most cherished characteristics currently playing in human lives is the inate desire for drama. People will, for example, sabotage and discard a perfectly good relationship just for the sake of drama. And when it comes to drama, war yields fantastic results.

The reality is that it is the best and most action packed movies which we often crave, and in the "real world" -- with the emotional involvement of your being one of the principal characters (one of those who must might get killed off and miss the sequel) -- the suspension of disbelief should be enormously easy to incorporate. Everything, of course, seems so much more meaningful. Even when it isn't.

The Good News

The good news is that all of the above possibilities: economic collapse, civilization going the way of the Dodo Bird, chilling news for the North Atlantic, cities by the dozen going underwater, the mother and father of all wars to end wars decimating troops and innocent civilians, disease and poverty taking their inexplicable tolls, and all the other run-of-the-mill challenges we routinely encounter when experiencing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse... All these things and more, all the sound and fury and signifying nothing drama, all this is in the end... just drama, just an action movie.

After the final curtain, the exits and ad libs at an end, there is always life after death and the perfect opportunity to practice the faith that the whole purpose of life was to gather material for a stand up comic routine later on. After all, from a distance everything is funny. And what a life we've lived this time around! Wow!

We haven't even begun to talk about collisions with other planets, the sun going nova, and so forth and so on. Lots and lots of drama yet to envision. Yea.

And for those who don't make the cut on heading for heaven sooner rather than later, there is always the promise of the wholesale destruction of "civilization as we know it." Perhaps, with everything else in the economic crapper, wiser heads with a degree of power and a sense of responsibility will bring out the hidden technologies which will allow a far smaller population of humans to live very well indeed. Even then, of course, there will be enormous challenges in life -- but just the sort of thing to keep the blood pumping. For there will be purpose and apparent significance in life once again.

Obviously, things are really looking up, provided of course you just know where and how to look!



[1] Samuel B. Griffith, Sun Tzu, The Illustrated Art of War, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005.


Chronicles of Earth         Near-Earth Objects         A Glancing Blow

Forward to:

A World in Radical Change         Indianapolis         Justice, Order, and Law


                                                                                      The Library of ialexandriah       

2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved                     [Feedback]    

                                                                                                            Back Next