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Acknowledging the Confluences of Catastrophes

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Confluence #2 [PNR]: Peak Resources, Nuclear War, Religious Apocalypse

This Confluence, founded as it is on human behavior and belief systems, may be as likely as CSP, and our expectations, and analytic energy, are focussed accordingly.

Peak Resources:

"Peak Resources," in this Confluence, comprise more than merely peak oil (see CSP for more information on "peak oil") -- but also includes other nonrenewable resources such as freshwater supplies, metals and minerals, inexpensive energy, grain and rice, ocean fish harvest, tillable topsoil, protein, etc.

Many of these resources have finite limits of production, in spite of growing populations; others may have had their most easily-acquired (most easily mined, most easily farmed, most easily pumped, most easily fished) concentrations depleted. These can be Confluential elements themselves -- as energy-intensive mining must seek deeper and more costly veins of ore, their need for energy exacerbates the demand and cost for energy; as water resources are compromised or depleted, the cost of irrigation increases; as fish populations decline, the selling price of fish rises, making that protein source not only more expensive, but also make intrusive/invasive techniques more appealing.

These limitations -- and the economic turmoil certain to result from these depletions and rising costs -- will likely create Malthusian tensions. Significant poverty -- malnutrition, refugee populations, choices between bread and posessions -- is likely to result, causing significant pressures on the consumer economy.

Historically, these tensions have been addressed by sovereign nations through military action. The Nazi movement was almost inarguably driven not by rampant anti-Semitism, but by the Depression of late-30s Germany. Anti-Semitism was a convenient tool for directing anger away from the government to an historically ghettoized population, allowing blame to be placed on Jews. "Lebensraum," Hitler's version of "elbow room" for the chosen people, was a means of expanding Germany's available resources, to feed and clothe its population. [note: further historical examples, if required, are available in other publications in process at the Center.]


Nuclear War:

In a significantly constrained world, in which populaces are militating for something to be done, scapegoats will be found. Whether the Chinese (whose consumption habits and controlled currency may create "unfair conditions for trade"), the Russians (whose oil and mineral wealth may be "held for ransom"), the OPEC nations (whose control of oilfields are being used to "throttle the global economy"), Pakistan or Iran (whose "training of terrorists cannot go unchecked"), the United States (whose "historic gluttony has brought on a global crisis"), or Israel (whose "domination of water in the region is killing our brother Arabs"), reasons for military action -- whether assymetric or direct -- will not be hard to muster.

Barring a miraculous new technology (cold fusion, hyperefficient wind/solar, molecular construction, etc.), natural limits will drive tensions ever higher. "Tactical nukes," used to "scare the enemy" mobilizing at a border, or to "teach a lesson" in response to an escalating series of incursions, assassinations, or carpet bombings, may erase some small city, but will likely be the first crossing of the threshhold. Further nuclear "events" will likely eventuate, with increasing damage to the atmosphere, to agriculture, and to the economy.


Religious Apocalypse:

As economic depression, poverty, malnutrition, and desperation increase, many will look to "strong man" religions for solace. These institutions will heighten their rhetoric and assert their rightness, seeing that it is bringing more "converts" into the fold. Political pressures from these groups within their national boundaries may encourage jingoism and a sense of fatalism in the larger cultures.

Independent of the "truth" of religious Apocali -- the Center is agnostic in this respect -- the reality is that there are millions of believers who, if they conclude their Apocalypse is on the way, will strive to hasten it. We have seen this phenomenon at work over the last decade in the Pat Robertson et. al. "700 Club" (CBN), in which breathless reporting of "Signs of the Apocalypse" are used to raise funds, justify condemnation of Arab populations wholesale, and support invasive wars of choice -- or in Wah'habi promotion of "jihad" and asymmetric war on all "infidels."

In this Confluential Catastrophe, desperation and the natural human response of seeking salvation exacerbate nationalist and racist tribalism, which justifies increasing militarism, leading to a state of perpetual war on multiple borders and landmasses, punctuated initially by tactical use of nuclear weapons, leading to a spasm of nuclear volleys between superpowers.


Conclusion:

Clearly, these Confluential Scenarios are mutually supportive, mutually exacerbating, and iteratively compounding. The social, economic, political, environmental, and cultural consequences of this Confluence (as is made clear in On Confluentialism, in contrast to the Institute for PostApocology's more limited approach, or our former colleague Frank\'s KissMyA**pocalypse unfortunate enterprise*) must be acknowledged if we are to make accurate PostApocalypse predictions of the PNR Catastrophe.


* In accordance with Section 4(3)d of the Dissolution Agreement, we are required to link to the Institute for Postapocology, as well as to the garish KissMyA**pocalypse site.
Copyright © 2008 The Center for PostApocalypse Studies