Bill Totten's Weblog

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Collapse Gap Revisited

by Dmitry Orlov

Club Orlov (February 04 2010)

Richard Heinberg has done something that sorely needed doing: he has performed a Collapse Gap analysis for USA and China. In a lengthy and detailed article {1} he argues that, just as the USA is less prepared for collapse than the USSR was, the USA is less prepared for collapse than China. This is perhaps unsurprising (few countries are less prepared than the USA). Collapse-preparedness affects how many people will be able to survive the collapse, and how bad a time they are likely to have in doing so.

But there is much more to it than that. Richard makes several excellent new points that should be taken on board. Here, I will mention just three (perhaps adding a slight personal twist to each). For the full details, please go and read the full article {1}.

* The governments of both USA and China are not trying to avert collapse but simply to delay it. Averting collapse would involve overcoming problems caused by fossil fuel depletion, ecosystem limits such as soil and fresh water, climate disruption due to global warming, and an economic system predicated on exponential growth. Neither government is up to the task of solving any of these, and so the obvious choice for them is to stall for time, hoping that the other one collapses first.

* Although whichever country collapses first will immediately find itself at an obvious disadvantage vis a vis the other, that advantage is likely to be short-lived. Unlike the collapse of the USSR, the collapse of either USA or China will devastate the other, with major repercussions for the other major economies. There will be no country left standing that will be capable of effecting an economic rescue. The collapse of either USA or China will trigger the collapse of the other, marking a permanent, global transition to a new state.

* Since collapse is unavoidable, the obvious fall-back strategy would be to invest in local resiliency and self-sufficiency. Since neither government appears the least bit interested in such matters, it is time for us to recognize them for what they are to us: utterly irrelevant. Paying attention to national politics can only distract us from doing whatever we can as individuals and local communities.

In the past Richard has done his best to nudge governments in the right direction, especially with regard to adjusting to fossil fuel depletion, whereas I have always felt that they can go and nudge themselves. You see, from my point of view, only a fool would want to go a-nudging the Central Committee of the Politburo toward adopting better policies. Here, perhaps once there was hope; and now it's gone. Unfortunately, many people continue to believe in the miraculous properties of national politics and policy. However, Richard is no longer one of them, and this makes me a bit more hopeful for the rest of us.

Link {1}

Bill Totten


  • One core human need is communication. Politics and avenues of governmental policies are tested and established pipelines of communication to millions, billions.

    To say they are irrelevant because collapse is on the way anyway seems tortured thinking at the least.


    By Blogger Suzanne, at 7:42 PM, February 09, 2010  

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