The intertubes are a great resource for some things. Not so great for others. The instant nature of information dissemination is great for a death notice going 'round the world in seconds, as the recent deaths of Kim Jong Ill and that Libyan guy with the alphabet-soup-of-possible-spellings name demonstrate.
The not so much category, though, has to go to examining information on a more long-term, less spur of the moment manner. One must sift through a whole bunch of Rick rolls and cats with hats to find bits that fit with an overarching narrative that might, just might, prove useful to people trying to sniff out future trends. A good place to start would be this whole indefinite detention clause in a new bill
that might soon be signed into law.
I'll let Glen Greenwald discuss the finer points of both this new future law and the trends that have been leading leaders to it. Essentially, not only can terrorists be indefinitely detained,
but also also anyone who “substantially supports” those groups and/or “associated forces” (whatever those terms mean).
That, I'm sure you will agree, is a pretty wide net to cast. Anyone who, for example, questions the legitimacy of the US government's actions might be described as someone who "substantially supports" terrorist groups who do the same, even though the first group bases their objections not on so-called "criminal acts" of the US, but rather on actual laws on the books within the United States itself, laws the current executive in charge might be violating. Protest too hard, and you might find yourself locked up without access to a lawyer . . . ever.
So, what future would be so extreme that the disaster planners in Washington deem unilateral detentions a necessary option? How about the breakdown of civil society?
I've already noted that just about everything in our presently organized society depends upon cheap and easy transport. If fuel costs rise too high, our economy hits the gas ceiling
. From there, I've extrapolated that laws may have been crafted
to protect our financial sector from the long contraction the loss of economic growth will necessarily create. (Mind you, I noted the protections were enacted for the financial sector
, for the established banks and their oh-so-important bottom line of profit, not for the plebians like you and I merely relying upon our monetary system for financial survival. After all, those protections created money for reserves not
lent into the economy.)
This is nothing new. The above graph was presented by M. King Hubbert himself in an article called "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History", published in 1976. Dmitri Orlov
outlines the progression of Hubbert's three predictions:
In 1956 Hubbert predicted the US oil peak would be sometime between 1969 and 1971. For this he was ridiculed and laughed off the face of the earth (almost). Turned out the US oil peak was in 1970. This is something the drill-baby-drill, it's all the environmentalists' fault, ditto heads don't know anything about.
Next in 1974 Hubbert predicted the world oil peak to happen about 1998. However he DID say that if OPEC were to restrict the supply, then the peak would be delayed by 10-15 years which would put it at 2008-2013 . . . a reasonably close estimate of the actual global oil peak which started in 2005 and has continued as a plateau up to now. . . .
The chart above is his third prediction, about which Hubbert says:
"The third curve (on the left) is simply the mathematical curve for exponential growth. No physical quantity can follow this curve for more than a brief period of time. However, a sum of money, being of a nonphysical nature and growing according to the rules of compound interest at a fixed interest rate, can follow that curve indefinitely...Our principle constraints are cultural...we have evolved a culture so heavily dependent upon the continuance of exponential growth for its stability that it is incapable of reckoning with problems of non-growth...it behooves us...to begin a serious examination of the...cultural adjustments necessary...before unmanageable crises arise..."
It seems to me our disaster planners are taking measures to prevent the gas ceiling from hitting us too hard on our collective noggins, falling in the process right into the mindset the emboldened quote above illustrates. To prevent thinking outside the so-called box of exponential growth alternatives, one might start by developing a new source of liquid fuel; no matter how expensive that fuel might prove to extract or distribute, it will be something our economy can use while we figure out how to use less. Call this our emergency supply. How about extracting liquid fuel from tar sands and shale, then move this liquid to where it is needed
? A really nice map of this plan can be found here
, with an interactive feature describing the links planned and completed.
Ah, but let's say we aren't able to extract enough tarry goo from low-energy geological formations to prevent further spikes in fuel price. Let's say we get alternative political groups like, say, the Tea Party or the Occupy movement (opposite sides of the same coin, if you ask me) continuously bitching about the growing price of transport, food, and other stuff of life, but the shrinking prospects for ordinary people to get employment or other decent livings. Let's say the continued snuffing of protest by riot gear clad officers really rankles a few, and they decide to shake things up by blocking or disrupting pipelines. If they do this where the goo first flows from the steam melted tar sand, there's nothing we in the States can do . . . is there?
Well, yes there is. We can send troops north at the invite of the Prime Minister. You see, the United States and Canada agreed to just such a troop-sharing back in 2008
Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other’s borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal. . . .
The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is raising concerns about the deal.
“It’s kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-U.S. relations and contentious issues like military integration. We see that this government is reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on American and Mexican websites,” said Stuart Trew, a researcher with the Council of Canadians. said there is potential for the agreement to militarize civilian responses to emergency incidents. He noted that work is also underway for the two nations to put in place a joint plan to protect common infrastructure such as roadways and oil pipelines. . . .
“Are we going to see (U.S.) troops on our soil for minor potential threats to a pipeline or a road?” he asked.
(I emphasized yet again.)
If those minor threats come at a time when other supplies of petroleum prove in drastically short supply, Mr. Trew, then the answer might very well be yes. After all, south of our border we are enacting not just legislation but, as Glen Greenwald notes, a trend toward laws that pull the legal protections granted citizens by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, possibly all so we can avoid the societal perturbations financial crashes and famine can create.
It will take time to adapt to a world without cheap motive power. We may not have the fuel necessary to make that transition without major disruptions to our economy's current configuration and subsequently to the stuff of life that structure enables. This detention mentality is a band aid. This militarization, whether crossing borders — Iraq? Afghanistan? Canada? — or deployed right here at home might be another albeit larger wound dressing, an attempt to staunch the flow of fuel from our hungry gas tanks. People who cannot conceive of viable alternatives might be pursuing the only path they see available.
I worry that they might be exactly right.