The world is doomed. And the film's no good.

Location Sofa in my house | Mood Very black | Date 28 September 2005
Author (full name): 
Franny Armstrong
Sofa in my house
Very black
Morrissey, I've Changed My Plea To Guilty
Convinced I've got malaria. Actually got Restless Leg Syndrome caused by not getting out of bed for three days. It's true.
28 September 2005
Current crisis: 
The world is doomed. And the film's no good.
Current silver lining: 
Hard to think of
Next job: 
Who cares?

Finished reading "The Party's Over" in France and, as the full implications sink in, down goes my sunny disposition with it. Which reminds me of something a climate change specialist I met in Tuvalu (Pacific island being abandoned cos of rising sea levels) a couple of years ago said: that anyone who works on climate change gets deeply depressed and gets out after a couple of years.

Now I know what he means. How can you carry on washing up and getting your hair cut once you've grasped these sweet nuggets: before we discovered oil, the human carrying capacity of the planet was about 2 billion. Now there are 6 billion people. In the next few years we'll have used half the oil. Every year after that, we'll need more but have less. As the oil runs out, the planet will be able to support ever decreasing numbers of people, till we again get back to 2 or 3 billion. (Of course you'd argue that crop yields are much higher now. Which they are. But the fertiliser - and tractors, trucks, trains, water pumps - are all made of or dependent on oil).

In the next half-century or so, 3 or 4 billion people will die of starvation and war.

And here's another one. The point of food is to transfer energy from the sun, via plants, into humans or other animals, thereby allowing us/them to live. Self-sufficient farmers use about 1 unit of energy for each 2 units they get back. Obviously if they used more than they got back in, they'd die. And how many units do we use for each one we get back? 80.

And how much time is needed to create each tankful of petrol? 400 years. And what do we do with this miraculous energy supply? This once-and-once-only supply of transportable, dense, bountiful energy, which could be used to create a new society which can run without it? We pootle around town in our SUVs buying more plastic toys for our overweight unhappy children to discard into landfill sites to produce carbon dioxide.


I bought 12 copies of the book for my family and friends, who mainly accepted them with the glazed eyes with which a generation of parents undoubtedly discarded the nuclear meltdown tomes thrust on them by their children in the '80s. Some came back with the standard denials: every generation thinks they are the last. Oil was supposed to run out in the '70s, but didn't, so it's not running out now. They'll find more oil. Or invent something to replace it. Global warming is good for British summers. The market will favour solar once oil becomes too expensive.

The only sane argument I think I heard was from my Uncle Stalky in New York: "Who cares? We're all going to die anyway".

"The Long Emergency" (next on Crude reading list), is good on denial: "Throughout history, even the most important and self-evident trends are often completely ignored because the changes they foreshadow are simply unthinkable. That process is sometimes referred to as an "outside context problem", something so far beyond the ordinary experience of those dwelling in a certain time and place that they cannot make sense of available information."