The Perfect Storm Hypothesis

The state of so many indicators…The ‘Perfect Storm‘ hypothesis, which is the central theme of this blog, refers to a gathering storm of problems which will increasingly confront mankind and the planet’s other biological inhabitants within the next few decades. Indeed, the early signs are visible now. The thread common to all of these problems is humanity itself. Mankind’s evolution of higher intelligence freed it from the checks and balances which tended to preserve order in the natural world since biological evolution first began on Earth. However, as each of these problems illustrates, while humanity developed higher intelligence, it has not yet developed the commensurate wisdom with which to balance it.

These problems involve the overuse of natural resources without consideration of what we’re going to do when they run out.

They involve our destructive impact on the integrity of the physical and biological systems around us in the world – systems upon which we are deeply dependent.

They illustrate how our greed and shortsightedness, both individual and collective, repeatedly leads to severe imbalances in the distribution of essentials like food, water, shelter, education and information. And these imbalances, in turn, lead to problems like species extinctions, overpopulation, war and fundamentalism.

And, finally, it must be realized that these problems are not independent of each other. In fact, they are and will potentiate and empower each other into a devil’s brew of reinforcing consequences. Consequences which are going to fundamentally alter the physical and biological systems of the planet and degrade the environment we will leave to our children for hundreds, if not thousands, of generations.

You can wander into any bookshop and find books treating the individual threads of the Perfect Storm hypothesis as stand-alone issues. Books on Biodiversity Loss, Global Warming, Peak Oil, Desertification and Women’s Rights are all there proclaiming their mono-issues. But it is still the rare book or pundit which recognizes that none of these issues are really stand-alone and that all of them are approaching the event horizon of our near futures en masse.

There are exceptions and you can find book reports on several books here which cover a wide range of problems and which acknowledge the deep interrelatedness of these problems.

Will each of the problems, which we are about to describe, manifest? Probably – but not definitely. The future, as everyone knows, is notoriously hard to predict. Does this invalidate the Hypothesis? No, because each of these problems, all by itself, is serious enough in its consequences to wreak major havoc in our civilizations and in the biosphere itself. So, if a dozen are on approach for a landing in our future and two don’t make it, believe me, rejoicing in their absence will be a short-lived affair.

In addition to enumerating the various problems included within the scope of the Hypothesis, there are two other discussions which are relevant. These are:

(1) Why are we in this mess? I propose it is because we are still unconsciously acting out our Biological Imperatives. A discussion of why we need to Transcend our Biological Imperatives can be found here:

(2) What do we really stand to lose if we don’t, as a species, act to short-circuit these gathering problems? I refer to what we’ll lose as Eden Lost, and I discuss it here:

A list of Elements of the Perfect Storm

These are not in any particular order either with respect to causation, timing or severity. If they are on the list, however, they are big enough that they can be expected to cause a major dent in our collective futures. If you have good arguments as to why one or another should not be here or why something hasn’t been included that should be, send me E-mail about it.

Global Warming

Peak Oil

Falling Water Tables

Rising Ocean Levels

Biodiversity Loss

Failing Fisheries

Equal Rights for Woman, Reproductive

Self-Determination, Women’s Literacy

Overpopulation

Fundamentalism

Rich vs. Poor

Anti-Science Bias

Food Shortages

Water Shortages

Desertification

Terrorism

Pandemics

Corporate Power

The US National Debt

The US Trade Deficit

Bubble Economics

Melting Permafrost, Ice Caps and Glaciers

Green House Gases

Ocean Dead Zones

Dying Coral Reefs

Ocean Acidification

Severe Weather

Habitat Destruction

Soil Erosion

Soil Salinization

Invasive Species

Climate Driven Species Migrations 061021 061021-2

Species Extinctions 060604 060619 060908 061004 061021 061105 061128 061227 070117 070207 070210 070326 070405

Deforestation 061128 070124 070207 070223

Food Chain Breakdowns 061105 070326

Acid Rain

Nuclear Waste

Untested Chemicals in the Environment

Sewage

Intentional Misinformation 070313 070313-2 070313-3 070321

Biofuels and Food Competition for Fields 070309 070309-2 070309-3 070322

Electronic Voting machines – a disaster for Democracy 060801 060913 060915

Breakdown of Weak National Governments 060628 060818 060908 061228

Political Corruption, Political Stupidity 060511 060630 060703 060717 060720 060723 060728 060728-2 060913 060915 060920 060921 060928 060930 060930-2 061013 061014 061019 061020 061031 061031-2 061031-3 061031-4 061105 061105 061130 061215 061229 070106 070106-2 070108 070127 070131 070211 070225 070227 070304 070309 070309-2 070326 070401 070407

Destructive Ideologies, Increasing Militancy,War 060714 060818 060908 061228 070102 070107 070115 070119 070127 070206 070207 070217 070225 070304 070304-2 070307 070322

Press Complicity

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Some of these problems, obviously, are more serious than others but all of them are interconnected with one or more of the others and all of them have the potential to degrade life on this planet as we know it.

Some people have asked, “What is the purpose of dredging all of this negativism up? Most of the things being discussed are global problems. What can average folks like us do about this stuff?“ Well, those are valid questions. To see why this stuff is worth discussing, let’s take a look at some 20th century history. In the run-up to WWII, Hitler’s rise to power was a gathering storm also. But, people all over Europe and here in the US tried to ignore the problem. Even as WWII was about to break, the British sent Chamberlain to talk with Hitler and he came back proclaiming, “Peace in our time.” The problem was that no one wanted to face up to just how bad the situation was and everyone tried, until the last minute, to put a good spin on it. Chamberlain certainly did but history proved just how terribly wrong he was.

We have a similar gathering storm of problems in the subjects we are discussing. And just as it was in 1938, many of us wish they would just go away. But, they won’t and they will continue to creep up on us until they are undeniably in our faces. And, if we wait until then to react, it will be a lot harder, if not impossible, to dig ourselves out of that hole.

So, what can we do? Stay open to these possibilities. Educate yourself and those around you. Convince yourself that these issues are real and then translate your convictions into how you vote in elections. The democratic machinery that controls our responses to these problems won’t act until the voters let it know that they care about these issues. Hoping that all of this will work itself out without us having to think about it too much is not an option. So, that’s why we’re hammering on this stuff – unpleasant as it might be – to bring people to awareness of these issues.

28Mar08 – I stopped linking the articles I post back to this page some time ago. I think I made the point I wanted to (that there are plenty of things to support the Perfect Storm Hypothesis) and to continue was redundant. As I set the appropriate categories for each post, I will be removing the links to that post from the list of Perfect Storm elements, above. This will take some time.

One Response to “The Perfect Storm Hypothesis

  1. […] prices rose, the rest of the points I cited early on, as contributing factors of the coming ‘Perfects Storm‘ are still with us. […]

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