The History Channel aired a two-hour program entitled ‘Prophets of Doom’. My kind of programming! Assembled were five experts in Apocalyptic scenarios; Michael Ruppert, Nathan Hagens, John Cronin, James Howard Kunstler, Professor Hugo De Garis and Robert Gleason. Each shared their views with one another and compared notes on how they think civilization will collapse. And to think I could have been watching ‘The People’s Choice Awards’ instead!
‘Prophets of Doom’ starts off with Michael Ruppert, an ex-police officer and detective who is mighty worried about Peak Oil. That is the point where production begins to decline, forever. The United States hit it’s domestic Peak Oil in 1970. Many analysts say that we are near, or are already now in, the Global Peak Oil moment. Ruppert tells us that about 5 Billion people alive today owe their existence to our dependency on oil and natural gas. He’s looking for a mass culling, with the world depopulating, suddenly or steadily, from here on out.
Nathan Hagens, a former hedge fund manager takes a similar view but sees the financial system as the shakiest plank on the deck. He believes our monetary system is one big global Ponzi scheme. The United States is insolvent. We are in the middle of two races; Technology versus Depletion and the National Debt vs. Natural Resources. Our problem is both Peak Oil and Peak Credit. One is bad enough, but we are facing two at once.
Or is it three? John Cronin has been studying our freshwater situation and he concludes that it is getting scarcer. Not only is our supply of freshwater running short, but the quality of the water we have is getting worse. Shortages will become more frequent and the potential for disease and contamination increases. The other prophets agree that water is an essential need for survival.
James Howard Kunstler was a journalist who often covered energy issues. Like others, he is also concerned about Peak Oil. He sees an Energy Crunch coming soon. Kunstler cites the Hirsch Report, authorized by the Department of Energy in 2005. Hirsch spells out that we are indeed approaching the Global Peak Oil point in history. But the DoE buried the report because the findings were just too dismal. Kunstler believes that it is a common human frailty that the desperate become delusional.
Professor Hugo De Garis is less concerned with human frailty as he is with the coming age of self-aware robots. An expert in Artificial Intelligence, De Garis sees us rapidly approaching ‘The Singularity’ point, where robots will be able to think and act independently. The IQ gap between Man and Machine is steadily decreasing. The future is automated, says De Garis. He gives the example of South Korea, which is making it a national effort to develop a domestic home robot that will be in every home by 2020. Will robots develop into a rebellious force that will take over and dominate, if not outright eliminate, Humanity?
Finally, Robert Gleason brings us back down to Earth with an ever growing worry, nuclear terrorism. As editor for ‘End of Days’, he talks regularly with military and intelligence experts. While the threat of a nuclear war between nations seems less, the threat of nuclear terrorism has increased. Security at many facilities, even some in the United States, is very poor. Russia arrests nearly 500 people a year trying to steal fissionable material. Al Qaeda and other groups are eager to get their hands on enough to build a bomb.
The consensus of the panel from the History Channel’s ‘Prophets of Doom’ was that we are facing many serious issue all at once. Individually, any of them could cause a collapse of civilization. The ensemble of Michael Ruppert, Nathan Hagen, John Cronin, James Howard Kunstler, Professor Hugo De Garis and Robert Gleason, all paint a dire picture. But they do offer some ideas for softening the perils. At the heart of it is decentralization. Localizing food production and water purification would go a long way to saving lives. Large institutions are the most vulnerable in their Apocalyptic scenarios. But they advocate cooperation, not the isolation of running for the hills or crawling inside a bunker.