Oh No, Northern Exposure
You don’t have to look at the billboards on the highway or the pop-up adds whilst visiting pirating websites to see that we here in New Jersey are a gambling people, ever increasingly so. We have been wagering much more than just our devalued money as time has been progressing; further, most North Easterners don’t realize they’ve been living inside a two hundred year old casino, purchased and built with the “plastic” provided by fossil fuels as our ancestors made the northward gamble. It’s hard to put an exact date on these sorts of phenomena, but let’s say that it “picked up steam” during the industrial revolution, where our arrogance was fuel-injected. Since then, generations have been conditioned to believe that there is no threat to near-and-below-freezing temperatures. We won’t be caught with our pants down—we burned our pants long ago and have lost the skill to sew, along with many, many others.
Let’s characterize the We who are fated to endure—not endure actually, because we’ll die like flies—when the shortages start. Many of us here are unmotivated deadbeats (I certainly display this characteristic much of the time) and that puts us in a fair amount of mire itself. Much worse still are the cadres of city slicking paper pushing professionals who “are so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to defend it”, to quote the oft quotable Matrix. It’s their actions as the “thinking” class that will slow and enervate any mass adaptation as they push us forward like Varro at Cannae, into a Hannibalian trap, allowing the problem to completely envelope us, leaving light no entrance to tunnel in. A self defeating panic will set in, religious explanations of apocalypse will further darken the outlooks of many, and the actual problems will be kept from view.
As time moves forward, we are climbing further up the rickety old ladder, every rung representing additional liabilities to our future selves. In no particular order:
1) We are over over-populated. If you look at any other species, the populations are generally more dense on the equator-side (as opposed to the polar-side) of their regional distribution; specifically in my mind are flowers blooming earlier on a south facing slope, days sooner than a north facing slope (in the northern hemisphere). Of course, this is all mitigated and made to vary due to microclimates and a proximity to the ocean which pulls temperatures up during the winter, but a climate zone map will show the limits of this. Anyways, humans here in the United States can be said to be top heavy, and despite recent migrations to the southwest that have fattened up the lower end, our heads still grow fatter in gross number increases.
2) Our forests are not resilient like they used to be, in large part because of their fragmentation (islandization) which is comorbid with soil degradation and loss of organic matter. In lieu of continuous stretches of forest in the temperate climate we have replaced them… well, we haven’t replaced them! We won’t be able to turn to the forests as a replaceable/sustainable source of fuel as our “conventional” fuel sources wane. Further, forests block chilling winds, something I think we’ve come to realize only after the fact.
3) We are monetarily wealthier, the caveat being that it is very unevenly distributed. This makes us more susceptible to setting off a cascade of price gouging and parasitism by the opportunists who will certainly be trying to make a buck off of our cataclysm. This will cause internal class divisions to become more defined, as the richer will be able to afford being gouged and their neighbors won’t be able to keep up. If widespread looting and rioting erupt, the parasites will not have the last laugh (at least).
4) We have foolishly sailed so far from the coast of agriculture into over-processed foodstuffs that we will be stuck in a current for a long time before being washed ashore, to our mercy. Foodstuffs that have petroleum inputs every step of the way: fertilizer and insecticides, packaging, and long distance shipping. Our tracts of land can’t handle our mode of agriculture, nor can our intestinal tracts as evidenced in the tens of millions of sufferers of autoimmune diseases.
5) It’s colder up here. I’ve probably made this point obvious but I wanted to make sure it was in this tally, and that we rely so heavily on a finite source of energy for our heating. I find the word “natural” in natural gas to be especially comedic. I like to think in my sort of anti-civilization utopian spirit that the extreme cold will usher in massive orgies where people will group together for body heat synergistics. The cold will make us take our clothes off! Seriously, we had better start investing our time in constructing some hobbit holes or wofati structures and let the ever-healing, ever-forgiving, homeostatic earth keep us alive.
6) This is more of a latent effect after some of the other problems have fully taken hold, but nuclear power plant meltdowns are certain if the requisite high energy maintenance inputs fail and the reactors are not kept in check. As broader levels of government decay and large corporations vested in the nuclear power enterprise do the same, or jump ship, the reactors become time bombs if I understand correctly, and anyone in a certain radius is doomed to have crazy invasive cancers and radiation sickness, and the land scarred for a very long time.
As of now these are the six main categories which came to my mind (if more cross my path, I will update) in ways that we in the North East will suffer because of our under-appreciation of forces and resources that are out of our control, despite the stories and illusions industries and the sciences tell us; the casino is our cave. The only way we have haphazardly learned to hedge our bets is with time, but unfortunately the more we gamble that and delay our doom, the higher the cliff we build for ourselves to fall from. This gets us to what really pisses me off: it is the future generations that will really have to bear the burden of our reckless ways.
Oh So, Southern Comfort
The longstanding American cultural divide between the south and north which has vividly born bitter fruit—the civil war, jim crowism and the civil rights movement, and most recently the “red state, blue state” elections—has in the end swayed to favor the northern agenda. Even through a warped evolution, the cultural divide remains and festers, and so there is no buried loser and memorialized victor. In this upcoming scene, the northern implosion, it is the south’s much more relaxed relationship with all the aforementioned factors set to pummel the north—overpopulation, a cold climate, wealthy and overly financial—that will give them the advantage for relative success. It is very ironic from a mainstream and global media perspective that the oft made fun of, oft forgotten southerners will fare much better. Some additional factors lending to their success that are worth mentioning:
1) The Southern pace, culturally and economically, will catch them “down to speed” much more quickly, they are only a down shift away from where they need to be.
2) Their agricultural roots aren’t fully rotted away, though the practices will need to be fully turned around, relying on no more petroleum inputs and much more human input. The farming lifestyle, if not the practical skillsets, are much more amiable to a typical southerner than her northern counterpart. The south will stop irrigating using aging aquifers, and to their benefit, as the practice of humans transporting water from far away—depth through rock factors as a much greater distance—has stifled creative ways to be a part of the ecosystem. Imagine if permaculture practices were noted and made popular in the 1870s as opposed to the 1970s, how different our path would be today?
3) Unemployment, de facto at least, will be at an all time low for the southeast. It will be a boom time once the slow poison drip from the over-industrialized portions of the world stops being trucked in. The people will awaken, livened, realizing they have the whole future ahead of them; they can now grow up and feed themselves instead of being dependent on some overly complicated, under-nourishing advanced capitalist dystopian experiment.