The emotions are one of the most important ingredients in the evolution of consciousness and humanity. A wondrous technology, emotions make it possible for us to organize our goals according to importance. For instance, out there in the wild—you know among the lions and tigers and bears we fear as children—it’s not best for a parched and famished animal to stand betwixt by a berry bush and stream. Nor does it do the animal any good to nibble on a berry before mozying on over to the stream, and then onto the berry again, etc. ad infinitum til’ there’s nada of either. Rather, the best decision calls for the animal to prioritize, drinking water when it’s ideal to drink water and eating food when it’s ideal to eat food. Ecclesiastes says that to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to love, and a time to hate. Should he have also included, one wonders, a time to wake up? In the forest on a camping trip, we have different goals standing face to face with a lion than when nursing a wound or confronting strife among fellow campers. “It’s morning again in America,” said Ronald Regan, however ironically, in a 1984 campaign ad. Well, tis’ late in the ball game, and ones hard pressed to find those with the best cards—well, at least their money, stockpiled off shores and anonymously.
Many economists assure us the current recession will begin to subside by 2010, but the paradigm from which they conceptualize reality is incomplete, ignoring costs externalized by markets, such as the encroaching effects of habitat destruction. The fledgling and contagious social unrest at hand must be quickly organized, attitudinized and mobilized, for existing environmental, geopolitical and financial upheavals threaten the survival of many. Firstly, the outlook for food yields in 2009 is dismal: Many analysts have warned of a 20 to 40 percent drop in agricultural production, depending on the harshness and duration of the current global drought. (DeCarbonnel http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12252) Two years ago, however, Science published predictions of “permanent drought by 2050 throughout the Southwest” of the United States, and forecasted levels of aridity akin to the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s that would envelope swaths of land from Kansas to California. The Hadley Center in the UK reported in November 2006,
"Extreme drought is likely to increase from under 3% of the globe today to 30% by 2100—areas affected by severe drought could see a five-fold increase from 8% to 40%."
This, of course, is a recipe for widespread desertification. The NOAA foresees drought of considerable duress—“largely irreversible for 1,000 years”—and identifies the following key regions as facing, insofar as our contemporary purviews are considered, permanent Dust Bowls: (Romm http://www.alternet.org/water/124689/australia_faces_collapse_as_climate_change_kicks_in:_are_the_southwest_and_california_next/)
• U.S. Southwest
• Southeast Asia
• Eastern South America
• Southern Europe
• Southern Africa
• Northern Africa
• Western Australia
Countries yielding two thirds of the world’s agricultural output are on the precipice of serious climate discontinuities reminiscent of the Global Climate Optimum of the 900 to 1300 variety. Food prices will soar, and, in poor countries where food is scarce, millions will starve. One thing we have to fall back on is our natural humanity—not just our braininess and knowhow, but also the fact that the collective wet dream that constitutes our social reality skews how many of us can actually exist now and in the future. Simply put, by downsizing and ditching the wet dream--exemplified by the belief in the anglo-saxon world that our homes and cars are our castles--we have much to gain. Unfortunately, there are plenty of atavistics (those who are like, so last dark ages) among us, like Dianne Feinstein, who said that it is Californians “god given right to water their lawns and gardens.” Southern Californian Scott Thill offers up, in an article published by AlterNet, a new definition of the front lawn: “Gorgeously tended middle fingers to reality, which, like death and taxes always, has a way of winning in the end.”(Thill http://www.alternet.org/story/101193/when_will_los_angeles_run_out_of_water_sooner_than_you_think/)
The California drought is anticipated to be the worst in modern times. Already thousands of acres of crops are fallow, with no sign of slowing. Furthermore, the Northern Sierra snowpack for this past winter turned out to be 51% lighter than usual. According to the Los Angeles Times, the state is nearly out of water, leaving it with prayers of rain and a dwindling Northern California supply. Los Angeles has already begun rationing of water, which, as Scott Thill points out, means water to the rich (north) and away from the poor (south). He then portends evacuations and realignments, “by 2100, you will not recognize it.” East of southern California, 18 percent of Texas is burdened by severe drought.
In some countries historical relief efforts have been undertaken. The Chinese government has allocated 86.7 billion yuan (roughly $12.69 billion) to affected regions, and, moreover, lent a helping hand not only to its western colleagues during the financial crisis, but also to nature itself. Officials in Beijing blasted silver iodide into clouds over northern China to create precipitation as a means of alleviating the most severe drought experienced by the region in half a century. Keep your fingers crossed (or maybe not, there’s no telling with these things!), as China produces 18% of the world’s grain each year. (Macartney http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5766595.ece)
Australia has been in the midst of an unremitting dry spell since 2004, as 41% of the country’s agriculture suffers the worst drought in the 117 years of record-keeping. Rivers have stopped flowing, lakes are being eradicated by toxicity, and farmers have left their land.
Shall we proceed? Argentina’s worst drought in half a century has turned that country’s verdant landscapes to dust. The country has declared emergency. Soy plants are scorched by the sun and Argentina’s food production is set to go down a minimum of 50 percent. 2008’s wheat yield was 16.3 million metric tons, whereas 2009’s is projected to be merely 8.7 metric tons.
Africa faces food shortages due to lack of rainfall. Half the agricultural soil has lost nutrients necessary to grow plant. The Middle East and Central Asia, to boot, are suffering from contemporary nadir droughts and food grain production is at the lowest levels in decades. A major shortage of planting seed for the 2010 crop is expected.
Stocks of foodstuff are dangerously low worldwide. Agricultural commodities must rise in price so as to obviate even larger food shortages and famine. Wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. must become expensive enough so that every available acre is harvested with the best possible fertilizers. With food prices steady, production will continue to fall and millions would starve.
A spike in food price is likely to spark competitive currency appreciation in 2009. Foreign exchange reserves exist for this. Central banks the globe over would lower domestic food prices by either directly selling off their reserves to appreciate their currency or buying grain from the market. Appreciating a currency is the fastest way to control food inflation. The more valuable a currency the more monopolistic a nation over global resources—so, for example, an overvalued dollar enables the US to consume 25% of the world’s oil, despite only having 4% of the world’s population. Were China to sell off its US reserves, its population of over one billion would then suck up the world’s food supply. Prices soar around the world.
This process, however, would most likely not end up in the impoverishment of nation states per se, though almost certainly the disintegration of the modern middle class, already long past its youthful heyday. The American Dream has been repeatedly resuscitated over the last thirty years through portfolio insurance, Long-Term Capital Management, the internet, the housing market, and now the looters have taken to the streets—oh, excuse me; I mean to their theoretical electronic world—and pillaged the landscape.
Social unrest and soaring food prices go hand in hand, from sea to shining sea. Countries, so as to avoid revolutionary reform from the bottom up, would have no choice but to appreciate their currencies in order to cheapen food imports. China holds the best deck, and so then would sell off more of its reserves. The world’s reserve currency, the dollar, floats into precarious waters. As a fiat currency, the US dollar is, by its very nature, worthless. Trillions of US holdings could be liquidated in favor of food.
“We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger" (President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address 24 Feb 2009)
In Washington, talk of bailouts and relief are framed in the realm of economics and economics only, with no considerable deliberation of our species ecological outlook. The budget proposal is sold as a demand oriented New Deal-esque expansionary program, with health, education, renewable energy, investment infrastructure and transportation at its forefront. The hope is to stimulate employment, boost social programs and to revive the real economy. Michel Chossudovsky reports in a recent article published by Global Research, that —surprise,surprise— the “stimulus package” is the most substantial diverging of public spending ever, and serves the interests of Wall Street, in particular, the finance, oil and defense cartel. This in and of itself should cause social unrest, and certainly seems to increase the likelihood of the evaporation of the middle class. (Chossudovsky http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12517)
The 2010 fiscal year, which begins on October 1st, will represent an increase in spending of 32%. The nucleus of the proposal inflates defense and the Middle East War funds, the Wall Street bank “bailouts that never end,” as the New York Times observed, and interest on a debt that exceeds tenfold the world’s GDP. The bailout—financed, in part, by the recipients themselves, the creditors, which, as understood by the Treasury and the banks in the first place, meant the FED enjoyed sweeping authority over how the money was to be spent from the onset of this collapse—continues under the new proposed budget. Unlike Keynesian style deficits, this piling on of debt through the proposed budget would not stimulate investment and consumer demand; there will be no expansion of production and employment, for the giveaway of tax dollars to the financial oligarchs is no more than a monumental concentration of wealth and centralization of world banking power.
Washington places defense spending at $739.5 billion, though some estimates assert aggregate defense and military related spending at more than $1 trillion. The total of both bailouts—Obama’s $750 billion, piled on top of Bush’s $700 billion dollar bailout—is 1.45 trillion dollars paid for by the Treasury. Virtually all federal government revenues would be expended to finance the bank handouts of 1.45 trillion, defense of $739 billion, and interest payments on public debt, $164 billion. And then the well is dry. There are no funds available for the social programs encapsulated in the stimulus package. Therefore, programs for healthcare and education will most likely be sold to private enterprise to fund the bankrupt state. Education is not the only state asset that is at risk of being privatized: Public infrastructure, urban services, highways, national parks, etc. are all at risk. The worsening fiscal collapse coalesces in the privatization of the state, tilling the land for a much more lucrative market in governance.