Thomas Lewis

The Days After Tomorrow 5: None So Blind

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Think the days of arrogant white ignorance are over? Consider that just a few weeks ago, American Geek-in-chief Bill Gates grandly offered to give Bolivia, which he referred to as a poverty stricken country, 100,000 chickens. (Sort of a “Let them eat eggs” statement — or, with a little extra trouble, cake.) Bolivia, it turns out, has a thriving economy, exports 36 million chickens a year, produces nearly 200 million. But thanks anyway, Great White Father.


Published on The Daily Impact on July 7, 2016

This is one of a series of meditations on what we might have learned, and might still learn, from the history of Native Americans about how to live without modern technology and industry, which we may have to do in the near future.]

One cannot answer a question that has not been asked (if you are a parent, you know exactly what I mean). And one cannot ask a question of which one cannot conceive. Thus does ignorance remain locked in place. Before we can learn anything useful from or about any other culture, we have to remove any blinders that prevent us from conceiving of questions: things like bigotry, racism, intolerance, delusions of superiority and exceptionalism, convictions of a special and exclusive relationship with God.

Fellow white Europeans, we have some work to do. The toxic brew that characterizes our relationships with others races did not begin with our contact with Native Americans, but it sure reached a kind of an apex before our mutual story was done. We can’t atone for that behavior, of course. But it would be good if we would stop it.

Columbus set the bar by mistakenly calling the first people he saw on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean “Indians,” because that’s what he was looking for, and in his culture, believing was seeing. That was just the beginning of the ignorance.  As European traders, explorers and then settlers began moving inland, they would get to know a tribe, eventually become aware of another tribe some distance away, and would ask their hosts, “Who are they?” “Oh, you’d better steer clear of them,” would come the reply, “they are rattlesnakes, (pronounced Iroquois).” Or, “You mean those people out west? They are cutthroats (Sioux). The ones down south? Cannibals (Mohawk).” Almost all the names assigned to the tribes of North America were in fact vile pejoratives, often words from a language other than their own. (And today, the PC Police get overwrought about the Washington “redskins.”)

Anyone who cared could find out that each tribe referred to itself as “The People,” perhaps with some modifier. The “Iroquois” were the People of the Longhouse (Haudenosaunee); the “Sioux” were just the People (Lakota); and the “Mohawks” were the True People (Ongwe Honwe). But who cared?

Is there any right more fundamental to human dignity than the right to be called by your own name, in your own language? Is there any worse insult than refusing to do that? But wait, there’s more.

Every Native American had an identity with two parts; asked for it, he or she would offer a name and a clan. One’s clan membership was as vital to knowing who a person was, as our last names are, to us. Clan membership determined who one could and could not marry. It was the clan that defined and preserved and passed on the behaviors and beliefs that comprised the character of its members. Hardly any white people knew then, or know to this day, that the clans even existed.

Moreover, most of the clans in North America were matrilineal, meaning:

  • when a couple married, they went to live with the wife’s clan;
  • when a child was born, it was born into its mother’s clan;
  • when a person died, any possession or title that could be inherited —  not many could — went to daughters, not sons.
  • a child was taught the ways of the clan, i.e. virtually everything about life, from how to hunt to how to cook to how to dress, by aunts or uncles who were fellow clan members. Fathers, who were not,  had little to do with their progeny, but had major responsibilities for their sisters’ offspring.

Think what this means for the Europeans’ attempts to establish religious and political authority by invoking — as they did constantly for centuries — to the presumed authority of a “great white father” residing somewhere overseas, or in Washington, or in heaven. If you ever come across a carefully done transcript of an exchange of views between whites and natives, you will note that when the natives wish to convey respect they use the appellation “uncles.” And their responses to the notion that they are in the care of a “great white father” fairly drip with sarcasm.  

“Hey, lighten up,” I can hear someone calling. “Why are you so down on your ancestors for not knowing enough about Indians? They didn’t have Google.”

Well, I am down on them, and the culture they bequeathed us,  not only because its baked-in bigotry enabled one of the most evil episodes of genocide in the history of the world — but because the habit of racist condescension is still here, still killing people, still poisoning relations among people of color and white people everywhere..

We fought and lost a terrible war in Vietnam convinced that the people of Vietnam were allied with the people of China against us; in fact, they had been mortal enemies for a thousand years. We fought our longest war, in Afghanistan, and our dumbest, in Iraq, with little knowledge of the religious sects and familial clans that are central to life in those countries.

If we can’t change our own culture’s nature, change its tendencies to racism, violence, exploitation and greed, we have no hope of a better future. Because bound as we are by chains of traditional ignorance, we can’t even see the multitude of paths that could lead us to a better place.

Fortunately, the ignorance I’ve been describing was then and is now dominant, but not universal. There is another thing that happened during our early history with Native Americans that is virtually unknown, and has immense significance for our present inquiry. We’ll get to that, next time.


Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Peak History

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Published on The Daily Impact on June 14, 2016

We live in a country whose citizens — make that residents — are increasingly averse to complicated thought, indifferent to veracity, and reductionist in their thinking (every thing and every thought and every person is and must be either one kind of thing, or another kind of thing, no additional choices allowed). In such a country history has few friends.

History is too hard. You have to find out what happened, and then you have to figure out the context of the events — what led up to them and what followed — so you can tease out their significance for your time and place, and even after doing all that it may not be clear. Far easier to decide first what history means, and look up a few facts to “prove” it. Works for Fox News. And what they have made of journalism, we are making of history.

The stories of contemporary history are short and punchy, crafted for an audience suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder; their lessons are simple and obvious, as befits an audience capable of obeying rules, not of evaluating them — you know, nine-year-olds. (Soon we will have a population of adults who will not cross the street without holding a grown-ups hand, because, you know, that’s the rule.)

A recent case in point: the American Civil War. It is now almost universally spoken of as a war that was about only one thing, slavery. Knowing that, as all right-thinking folks do, it follows that everyone who fought for the Confederacy was fighting to maintain slavery. Period. Because they were wrong to do so, a very popular line of “thinking” goes, we should scrub from our history and our world every vestige of their existence, eliminating their flag from our sight, rooting out and destroying their statues from our county seats and capitals (you know, like ISIS is doing in the cradle of civilization) and reducing their biographies to simplistic diatribes.

Now we could see in this an evil hand, an intent to make sure that our children never learn that good people fight in bad wars for good reason,  that bad people support good wars for bad reasons, that causes and outcomes are complicated, and can be both good and bad at the same time. Because if they do learn that, they are far less likely to allow some tinhorn president to fight any damn war he wants to for trumped-up reasons.

But the reality is probably dumber than that. While I was trying to figure out how to express my view of it, Ken Burns did it better, not the first time that has happened. He delivered the commencement speech to this year’s graduates of Stanford University (damn him, he still looks too young to be a graduate, let alone advise them). Most of the news coverage hyperventilated over his blistering condemnation of Donald Trump. But mostly he talked about history and our misuses of it:

… we live in an age of social media where we are constantly assured that we are all independent free agents. But that free agency is essentially unconnected to real community, divorced from civic engagement, duped into believing in our own lonely primacy by a sophisticated media culture that requires you—no—desperately needs you—to live in an all-consuming disposable present, wearing the right blue jeans, driving the right car, carrying the right handbag, eating at all the right places, blissfully unaware of the historical tides that have brought us to this moment, blissfully uninterested in where those tides might take us.

We are, in other words, in the grip of a terminal case of cultural Alzheimer’s Disease, increasingly unaware of the people around us, unable to remember where we came from and who we are, deprived, in other words, of the resources we need to set a rational course, we are reduced again to children who can only follow orders. So we grasp the nearest grown-up’s hand and await instruction.  

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

The SNAP of Doom

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Famine, as visualized by sculptor Rowan Gillespie on Custom House Quay in Dublin, Ireland. Famine is what the food stamp program prevents. And the food stamp program is showing signs of breaking down. (Photo by William Murphy/Flickr)

Published on The Daily Impact on June 10, 2015


There are stories that confirm our worries that the whole industrial system is about to come apart; and then there are stories that scare the crap out of us because they indicate that the collapse is ongoing and accelerating. This is one of those latter stories, one of those pre-apocalyptic cracks of doom that, like thunder, tell you it’s time to get ready. A Google search this morning finds no mention of this story in the industrial media, but it rages in the alternative sources (many of whom are weaving it into their previously established conspiracy theories as a deliberate act, not another triumph of  ineptitude).

The story? All over the country, especially since June 1, the SNAP card system, which is how we get food stamps to people now, is failing. Curiously, the failures seem to be selective, not blacking out areas-or states or regions, but cherry-picking individuals all over the country. Hundreds of people all over the country so far this month, and thousands this year, are experiencing late funding of their SNAP cards — some people are still waiting for funds that were supposed to be available on June 1. Many hundreds more are finding their SNAP cards won’t work at all.

According to a website that tracks these things, people are reporting problems at a rate that for parts of the day exceed 200 per hour. Fifty million individuals, including one out of every five American children, receive food stamps. If you know any families who rely on them — personally I mean, not through the viewpoint of the snarling “get-a-job” trolls who populate every online discussion of this subject (including, amazingly, the website designed to collect reports of problems in the system) — you know that the last few days before the stipend comes through are often hungry days. (The trolls sneer at that, but would you really be unaffected by a one or two week delay in your paycheck?)

But you do not have to be a bleeding-heart liberal to find this problem appalling. The SNAP, or EBT, card is how we deliver food assistance to people who otherwise would be in line at some government agency, lines whose size and desperation would dwarf anything seen in the Great Depression. There is virtually no margin for error here before people start to starve. (What’s that you say? A huge government computer system with no margin for error? What could possibly go wrong?)

And if you have no pity for the starving (because obviously if they had good character they would be successful like you), consider this:before they starve they are going to burn your country down around your hard of hearing ears.

People who have not read history and who have no empathy and are childishly simplistic in their comprehension of the world — you know, people like Donald Trump — have no idea what has happened in the past (“Let them eat cake!”), what is happening right now (People are dying in massive riots around empty grocery stores in Venezuela.) or what could happen any minute if another lit match is thrown into that tinder box (“Drug test them!” “Reduce and restrict benefits!” “Make ‘em work for it!”)

So move the second hand on the doomsday clock a little closer to midnight, and pray that the government that designed and built a computer system for the FBI that had to be scrapped entirely on opening day — the government that designed and built the original Obamacare website — can fix this problem before….

Oh, never mind. I gotta find my bugout bag.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Lies, Damned Lies, and News Reports

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An earlier, more temperate report on cell phones and cancer has supposedly been eclipsed by a newer, better one. But wait.


Published on The Daily Impact on June 1, 2015


“U.S. Leads Globe in Oil Production for Third Year.”

“Major New Study Reveals Cellphone Radiation Causes Cancer.”

These are just two examples of headlines that circled the world in the past week, subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge. Of course there were others: the “violent, chair-throwing riot” at the Nevada Democratic convention that turned out to have involved no violence, no chair-throwing and no riot; the long, dumbfounded pause when a group of pro-gun people were asked a hard question by Katie Couric, a pause that in reality was neither long nor dumbfounded. And on and on.

How are we to fulfill our responsibilities as informed citizens  (I know, it’s a quaint concept) when the information we get is consistently wrong and/or incomplete? For starters, it helps to understand the nature of the problem — in this case the dumbness and dumberness of American journalism. First Rule: when something is happening either because of stupidity or a conspiracy, always assume stupidity. These people aren’t smart enough to maintain a conspiracy.

Consider, for example, “U.S. Leads Globe in Oil Production for Third Year.” Anyone who has paid any attention at all to the oil industry in recent years knows that can’t be true. So how can a slick website like Climate Central,  “researching and reporting the science and impacts of climate change,” join the knuckle-draggers who published and believed it?

Hard to say. The Energy Information Administration report to which these articles referred had a slightly different headline: “United States remains largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons,” which does not mean, it turns out, that the US is biggest in both petroleum and natural gas, but is biggest when you add petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons together. Moreover, “petroleum,” as used in the EIA reporting, is not the same thing as “crude oil,” although the reporting assumes it is: “Government estimates show that crude oil production has continued to grow across the country, from nearly 8 million barrels of oil per day in 2008 to about 15 million in 2015.”

In fact, government estimates show nothing of the kind. According to the EIA, the same agency being quoted in these pieces, crude oil production in the United States has been declining sharply and steadily for a year and a half — from a high of less than 10 million barrels per day. Saudi Arabia and Russia are both pumping slightly more than 10mgd, meaning that the US is in third place, right where it’s been for years. Moreover, says EIA, world crude oil production has been declining since last November.

The only way you get the happy numbers used in these puff pieces is to change the definition of oil, to include things like biofuels, and suspend your critical faculties. Not what we want our journalists to be doing.  

Now to the other journalistic atrocity, “Major New Study Reveals Cellphone Radiation Causes Cancer.” No, actually, it did not. It revealed that if you bombard rats with the radio frequencies cellphones use for nine hours a day, the male rats in the group irradiated at an intensity 75 times the maximum allowed human exposure from cellphones had a slightly elevated chance of developing two types of cancerous tumors.

The study did not receive the peer review that is normal before publication,perhaps because the first few peers to look at it had serious problems with it. It had no explanation, for example, for the fact that the irradiated rats lived far longer than the control group, who received no RF radiation at all. Or for why none of the female irradiated rats developed tumors.  

Frankly, I smell a rat, and so should every journalist writing and reader reading about this travesty of science, or about the oil business. .

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

The War on Hemp

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Published on The Daily Impact on June 7, 2015


It is one of the first crops cultivated by humans, and was a staple crop for the American colonies. It requires less water than  most crops, and no pesticides at all, to grow, and while growing it detoxifies soil and sequesters CO2. Its seeds are a superfood, yielding highly nutritious flour, bread, cereal, “milk”, oil and protein additives — as well as fuel, paint, ink and cosmetics. Its fast-growing stalk yields one of the strongest and most useful fibers known, used in superior paper, canvas, ropes, insulation, cardboard, clothing, shoes and plastic — plastic that is, by the way, biodegradable. This one plant can provide many of the products an industrial society needs, sustainably, while drastically reducing pollution, energy consumption, deforestation, fossil fuel use and providing income for millions of farmers (in places like West Virginia, where glum people sit around in fertile hollows mourning the death of coal).

So, of course, planting, harvesting, or even studying hemp is mostly illegal in the United States and has been for decades.

Ask anyone in American politics why this is so, and you get mumbles. “Mumble mumble mumble marijuana.” Yes, hemp is related to marijuana, but it is not marijuana, and you can smoke it until your black lungs fossilize and you will not get high from it. So why is it classified as a Schedule I drug by the federal government? “Mumble mumble mumble looks like marijuana.”  And so it does, sort of (but not exactly). So does okra(guy in Georgia got raided by police intent on destroying the okra in his garden). So does the chaste tree, Texas Star (hibiscus), Japanese maple and spider flower. Yet you can plant any of those puppies without fear of going to prison. (If you plant a Schedule I drug you have committed a felony.)

I used to attribute this breathtaking stupidity on the part of the American government to, well, stupidity. Hemp, I thought, was collateral damage in the nuclear explosion of stupidity known as the War on Drugs (now in its 45th successful year….), whose regulators got so lathered up they could not tell one plant from another. Plus, years ago I learned that if a thing happens either because of conspiracy or stupidity, and you’re not sure which, always go with stupidity, and your batting average will be stellar. But there is a little more than simple dumbness at work here.

Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants. Hemp is cannabis sativa and marijuana is cannabis indicaSo when regulators wanted to prevent people from getting high on cannabis indica, they criminalized cannabis, which included cannabis sativa, which made it illegal to use one of the most useful and sustainable crops the world has ever known.

Stupid mistake, but easy enough to fix: add one word to the prohibition, so as to ban indica and leave sativa alone. It’s kinda like filling all the blanks in an indictment so that instead of arresting everyone with the last name “Smith” for a murder, you make it more specific.  Funny how in nearly a hundred years no one has got around to making that one word change.

Funny, until you count the number of existing industries that would be negatively impacted by a flourishing hemp industry; start with paper, textile, oil, pharma, plastic, food, and just keep going until you get tired. Then consider who benefits: the land, the environment, the climate, the farmers and the consumers, none of whom has a lobby in Washington. Bingo.  

There is evidence now of some substantial changes in public attitude, accompanied by some glacial, begrudging changes in the law. The other day, a meme (put up on the Facebook page  “End the Drug War” pointed out that we could replace all the persistent, oil-based plastic that are befouling our world and killing wild creatures at an appalling rate, with hemp-based plastics that biodegrade in 60 days. The meme went viral. Thanks to activists including actor Woody Harrelson, hemp and hemp products enjoy high public approval ratings.

Thus, in a few states now, one can get permits to grow small plots of hemp for research purposes. All you have to do is submit to approximately the same amount of red tape, inspections and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo as it would take to start up a nuclear power plant. West Virginia, one of the states that considers hemp far too dangerous to unleash on its impoverished citizenry without careful supervision, just removed all restrictions on carrying a concealed firearm.

Maybe if we showed them how to make guns from hemp?  

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

The Days After Tomorrow 2: Mourning the Montagnais


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The way it used to be for the Montagnais, circa 1550; hide clothing, wood and hide canoes, stone-tipped weapons and tools. Thanks to the French fashion trade, things were about to get a lot better for them. And then, way, way worse. (Photo by Ben Christi/

Published on The Daily Impact on May 19, 2016

[This is one of a series of meditations on what we might have learned, and might still learn, from the history of Native Americans about how to live without technology and industry, which we may have to do in the near future.]

In North America in the 16th Century, the people known as the Montagnais (the French called them that, “Mountaineers,” the tribe called themselves “Innu,” the People) were among the first to fall before the European juggernaut. Their story became a template for almost all the other tribes on the continent, and in some important respects is eerily like our own unfolding story.

The Montagnais lived in Quebec, north of the lower St. Lawrence River. They were hunter-gatherers whose life of seasonal hunting, trapping, fishing and gardening had been unchanged for many thousands of years when they saw the first French ocean-going ship, hove to in the Gulf. Beyond the initial, mutual astonishment, relations were for many years casual and infrequent. The French were fishermen who stayed in the area only as long as they had to, to fill their hulls and assure their profits. They needed nothing from “the savages” they saw on shore, and had no reason to be in conflict with them.

For a hundred years the fleets of Europe hauled in their catches on the Grand Banks, occasionally camping on the shores of the mighty St. Lawrence. They amused themselves by trading trinkets for items of Montagnais life, and the People were amused by the things the French would trade for, such as the skins of dead beaver. Then, in the mid-1500s, someone discovered that beaver pelts yielded a superior felt for hat making; some dandies at the French court began to wear them, the fad spread across Europe and the fate of the Montagnais was sealed.

Now the French visitors wanted something from the Montagnais — beaver pelts — and they wanted it badly. The profit margin for a cargo of skins delivered to Paris was on the order of a thousand per cent. Problem was, the French traders didn’t have anything the Montagnais wanted — at first. But on being shown the advantages of an iron cooking pot over a deerskin water bag laboriously heated with hot rocks; of steel knives and hatchets over implements with stone edges; of woven cloth over deer hides; the People were soon happily delivering tons of beaver pelts, which had virtually no value to them.

In this way, also, the People were introduced to alcohol. And the French, to tobacco. A kind of mutually assured destruction.

The passion for beaver hats in Europe was to drive this frenzied new North American industry for nearly two hundred years. For part of that time the Montagnais prospered beyond any dreams they would have been able to articulate. Life became easier for everyone, especially after guns, bullets and powder joined the roster of trade goods available. Until the middle 1600s, when the beaver ran out.

Just in the lower St. Lawrence River country. Farther inland, farther north, even farther south, there were plenty of beaver. So that, of course, is where the French traders went. And the Montagnais made a dismaying discovery.

During the decades they had enjoyed their new technology thanks to the beaver trade, they had forgotten how to live without it. Nobody remembered,or had any interest in, how to hunt with a bow and arrow, how to cook with hot stones, how to scrape a hide with a stone scraper. They had been shown a better way to live, had instantly adopted it, had become utterly reliant on it, and then it had been snatched away from them.

They had been proud, self-reliant people for thousands of years. In a few decades they had been turned into destitute, incompetent alcoholics dependent for their survival on the charity of people who held them in contempt.

How is this similar to our own story? We too were a proud, self-reliant people who grew, raised and hunted our own food, built our own houses, made our own clothes, lived in tight-knit communities. Then strangers came to offer engines to do our work for us, trains and cars and then planes to whisk us around the country and the world at our whim, electric generators to heat us, cool us, entertain us, cheaply and without much effort.

We enjoyed it. And we totally forgot how to live without it. So that when it is suddenly whisked away, we are likely to be left at the side of history’s road, destitute, incompetent alcoholics to the end.

There is another, amazing aspect of the Montagnais story that we need to understand; they way they were when the French found them. Nobody cared who they were then, and few care now, but we accidentally have a rare eye witness who left a careful record. And what he had to says casts a very unusual light on the subject of human nature.

Next time.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

The Days After Tomorrow 2: The Thunderbird Lesson

Thunderbird-Sitegc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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A 1985 on-site reconstruction of the oldest known human habitation on the North American continent, used by Paleo-Indians in what is now the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. What they were doing there, for 12,000 years, could be a lesson for us all. (Photo by Douglas Campbell/Flickr)


Published on The Daily Impact on May 3, 2016

When we talk about re-ordering human life to suppress the sicknesses that have brought the planet to the brink of destruction — greed, heedless exploitation of limited resources, and so on — the discussion often founders on claims that these traits are fixed in human nature or to put it in more modern techno-jargon, they are “hard wired” in our brains and/or in our genes. So it doesn’t matter, it is argued, \ how we try to organize society, human nature will assert itself and a few years after the total crash of industrial society someone will invent a futures market and away we go again. One of the reasons that I will never buy that argument is that I have been to the Thunderbird Site.


If you were to drive 70 miles straight west of Washington D.C. on Interstate 66, over the Blue Ridge to the town of Front Royal, Virginia, and then south for about five miles on Route 340, not far past the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’d be there. Not that you’d know it, there’s nothing to be seen in the area except a junkyard. Find the two-track dirt road that leads down toward the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

There’s a shallow part of the river there, it was used as a ford back in the day, and you should pick your way across the river (on foot, dammit, park that BMW) and on the opposite bank walk downriver, north, maybe half a mile, and there you will be. Standing on the site of the oldest known human habitations on the North American continent. On a site that appears to have been used continually for 12,000 years.

Interesting enough, as is the story of its discovery in the 1960s by amateur archaeologists, its ratification and excavation in the 1970s by teams led by Dr. William Gardner of Catholic University, of the opening of the Thunderbird Museum as a window into the life of North American Paleo-Indians not long after they crossed the land bridge from Mongolia. The glaciers of the Ice Age were still in Pennsylvania when they started to use this site.

But for our purposes, the truly fascinating thing is why they were using this site, and how. The technology that made their lives possible was based on stone — stone that could be not only shaped, but sharpened, into arrow and spear points, knives, scrapers, choppers and drills. Only certain rock, with a high content of quartz, can be worked to form a lasting, cutting edge. Jasper, like flint, was one of those rocks and just across the river from the site of the shelters is a large, easily accessible outcrop of jasper. There were only about half a dozen of them in what is now Virginia. Knowing where they were, and getting to them at least once a year, was essential to the survival of the People.

Probably once a year, and probably in the winter, the bands would come to the Thunderbird Site so their stoneworkers could pore over the jasper outcrop, seeking cobbles suitable for working into the tools of their life. When they had replenished their materials, they left.

Let’s review. The jasper outcrop was the source of all the tools needed for the survival of all the people living in a big chunk of what is now Virginia. It was used by the people from 9,500 BC to 1760 AD. And the outcrop is still there!

Don’t get ahead of me. The fact that they did not exhaust the jasper is not due to any high-mindedness on the part of the people. They took what they needed and left the rest, true, but most likely because they could not carry any more rock away than they did.

No, what electrified me about the jasper outcrop is that for 12,000 years people sustained their lives with that rock and in all that time there is no evidence that any one group of people tried to claim it and to deny it or sell it to others. You know what would have happened if any group of French, Spanish or English explorers had stumbled on the jasper and had understood its value to the people. (It’s hard to estimate which event is less likely, since they recognized only silver and gold as valuable and didn’t think of the natives as people.) Overnight you would have had a palisade, an armed guard, and we would be commemorating the site of the very first payday loan store in North America.

Please don’t try to convince me that humans are incapable of valuing something without exploiting it, without converting it to “money” in order to profit from it, without claiming it for their group and denying it to others. I know better. I’ve been to the Thunderbird Site.


Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Fires Rage, Words Fail One Nation, Under Water, with Penury and Indigence for All (*)

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Published on The Daily Impact on February 19, 2016

(* that is, the 99 per cent.)

I was there when a furniture-store owner I’ll call Chuck introduced, to a certain British-ruled, sub-tropical, behind-the-times island, the concept of hire-purchase — or, in American, rent-to-own. He started selling furniture on credit, for a small down payment and a contract to repay the balance at an astronomical interest rate. His policy scandalized everyone on the island who was rich enough not to need credit for such purposes; and was insanely popular with everyone else.

The establishment railed against what he was doing as somehow immoral, even illegal. Some legislators tried to declare it, and ban it, as “usury” (a quaint, antique sin, now regarded as about as serious as not eating fish on Friday). They decried hire purchase as a practice that would corrupt the moral fiber of poor people, which they seemed to think was somehow improved by not having furniture. They did not feel, however, that the large mortgages they held on their villas had in any way corrupted them.

Despite their disdain, the lower classes got their tables and chairs and Chuck got very rich indeed and was soon a welcome guest in the homes of the island’s rich and famous.

It was hard to follow or to credit the arguments against selling products on credit. Indeed, the upper classes — on the island as elsewhere in the world — soon abandoned all compunctions about selling on credit when they realized that selling things to people who could not afford them made them and their bankers, obscenely rich.

Since the innocent days of yesteryear, when having a mortgage was embarrassing, borrowing money was evidence of a character flaw and declaring bankruptcy was the secular equivalent of eternal damnation, debt in America has become a vast cancerous growth that now threatens the very life of its host. Let’s set aside for now the scary dimensions of public debt  (now $19 trillion and rising) and corporate debt (over $14 trillion and rising) , and focus just on the debt of individual Americans (now over $12 trillion).

Total individual debt is almost back to where it was in late 2008 when the Great Recession began. For five years after the last crash it declined, not because people were paying their debts but because foreclosures and bankruptcies were obliterating them. Since 2013 overall debt has been increasing again, but changing in nature.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s latest consumer credit report, about 70% of individual debt is for housing (mortgages and revolving debt), and about 10% each for auto loans, student loans and credit-card debt (when you include the “other” category with with credit-card debt). Until the onset of the last recession, each of these categories increased in tandem. Since the recession, two of the categories of debt — housing and credit-card — have been steadily decreasing. The other two have been skyrocketing — student loans without pause and auto loans since 2011.

The characteristics and trends of debt are markedly different among people under 40, and over 40, years of age. In the past 12 years, the aggregate debt of those under 40 has fallen by 12%, while that of their elders has risen by 169%.

The components of debt are markedly different as well. The average 30-year-old has seen his mortgage debt decline by $8,000 (because he can’t afford a house, which is bad news for the economy); his credit-card debt reduced by $1,000 (because he’s wising up about that) and his auto-loan balance down by $300 (because young people are losing their lust for cars). He’d be in really good shape if it wasn’t for the $7,000 increase in his student-loan debt.

Meanwhile, the average senior is in worse shape than ever before. Her mortgage debt has increased by $11,000, her car-loan balance by $1,000 and — incredibly — the average student loan balance for people over 65 is up $850 per capita. That’s a nearly 900% increase in 12 years.

With the debt of young people declining because they can’t afford to buy anything, and the debt of elderly people increasing as they approach the end of their earning years and thus the ability to pay their debts, debt has become both an enormous threat to the welfare of families and a huge drag on the economy.

Remember the old fogeys on the island who accused my friend Chuck of doing something immoral when he enticed people to buy things they could not afford with a promise instead of cash? They sounded silly then. They don’t sound so silly now.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Fires Rage, Words Fail

fire rage gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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fire rage

Published on The Daily Impact on February 5, 2016

The Daily Impact has been a quiet place lately, and I will tell you why: words fail me. The scale of the global crash now enveloping us, and the fecklessness of the leaders pretending to protect and defend us, exceed the vocabulary of this wretched scribe. If one manages, however briefly, to comprehend the enormity of the multiple disasters bearing down on us, then one accidentally sees part of a presidential-candidate debate and has to pick up  pieces of one’s skull all over the room again.

How bad it is in the United States:

  • One verse that has been sung for years now by the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” Chorus is that we are converting to a service economy, in which half of us will serve meals, keep house and otherwise cater to the other half, and that will work fine. But now — just now — the malaise that has been eating at all the other economic enterprises of the country has attacked the restaurant industry. “If services stumble too,” observes a writer on David Stockman’s website, “there truly is nothing left.”
  • Another verse from the aforementioned Chorus: We may not make much anymore, but we sure move stuff around, and that employs a lot of people and keeps the economy chugging along. Not so much anymore. “The Transportation Recession Spreads,” says Wolf Richter of WolfStreet, with the subhead “Hope came unglued all over again.” Orders for new 18-wheeler trucks have been falling since September of 2015, because of declining freight volumes, and after a slight recovery in December (hence the hope), plummeted nearly 50% (year-to-year) in January. Rail freight is experiencing a similar, vertigo-inducing slump.
  • American jobs of all kinds are being vaporized at a rate not seen since the Great Recession got traction in 2009. Just in January, layoffs quadrupled.  See this partial list of job cuts so far this yearand an assessment of the mass layoffs just ahead. Every month the government issues, and the “Happy” Chorus extols, monthly reports lauding robust job-creation and the continued low (seasonally adjusted, statistically weighted, seasoned-to-taste) unemployment rate, while ignoring the gut-wrenching disappearance of hundreds of thousands of people from the job market. These people, six million or so of them now, are not unemployed. They are vanished.
  • The U.S. oil industry, which was promoting itself just a few months ago as the progenitor of a new American Revolution, of a return to American energy independence, and on, and on — is a smoking ruin. Shale drillers are in the process of reporting losses of about $15 billion for 2015; reductions of 25 per cent and more in their balance sheets because of devalued oil; and levels of debt that  forced 42 oil companies into bankruptcy last year and will drive under many more than that this year. Nor is the carnage limited to the shale patch; from Exxon down, Big Oil is experiencing shrinking profits, tumbling stock prices and credit ratings.   

As glum as the situation and the prospects are nationally, they are even worse abroad — for China, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada and much of Europe and Asia. (Please, valued commenters, find me a country that is doing well, with rising employment and wages, a stable currency, manageable debt, decent health care and security for its citizens. Let’s write about it and then move there. Assuming it’s on this planet.)

Failing that, as I survey the tides of misery rising everywhere, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding everywhere, the hopes and dreams and people dying everywhere — words fail me.

All of this confirms me once again as an Age Optimist — a person who, despite everything, maintains a sunny unshaken faith that before these events play themselves out, he will be dead.


Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

What’s Next for Oil: Whiplash

roller-coaster gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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roller-coaster This is the closest we could come to a chart showing what is next for ojl and gas prices, and how it’s going to feel. (Photo by Patrick McGarvey)

Published on The Daily Impact on January 18, 2015

A savvy investor once told me that if you read something in the news, it is no longer true, if it ever was. I keep this in mind as I read over and over that the world is awash in 3 billion barrels of surplus oil. This glut — always and everywhere specified as 3 billion barrels — is present, the conventional wisdom (oxymoron alert) goes, because the crafty Saudis refused to cut production when the price of oil tanked (metaphor alert). They did this, it is said, to run the pesky American oil frackers out of business before they took over the world. This reminds me of the engraved plaque found in many Irish bars: “The Lord invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world.” An endearing sentiment, but probably not true.

[“The Saudis have won,” somebody said to me the other night. Really? They’re burning cash so fast that, despite having one of the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, they’re on course toward bankruptcy in four years. They have been forced to cut back on the subsidies that up to now have bought their subjects’ loyalty by providing them with cheap gas, electricity and water; gas prices alone have shot up 50% this year. When Iran tried that a few years ago, revolution appeared in the streets like a sudden flame, and the government reversed course immediately.

To suggest that the Middle East is a tinderbox is to understate the obvious; to say that it has become immeasurably more flammable since the Arab Spring, similarly goes without saying; and to conclude from the foregoing that this is hardly the time to thrust people more deeply into worse poverty with less hope, would not challenge the reasoning powers of a candidate for US president. The Saudi royal family is terrified and rightly so by existential threats from ISIS, Iran and increasingly its own people.]

But back to the 3 billion barrel glut. Question 1 is where did that number come from that everyone is using without qualification? Why, from the International Energy Agency (IEA), one of whose jobs is to keep track of world oil stocks. That’s oil that has been pulled from the ground but has not yet made it to a refinery: it’s in tankers, in pipelines, on rail cars and in tank farms. And it is true that IEA has just estimated those stocks at 3 billion barrels.  

BUT those stocks did not just appear because prices fell — or in order to make prices fall. If you go back ten years or more in IEA records, you find that there have always been around 2.7 billion barrels in the pipeline, so to speak. So the present number, far from representing a sudden tsunami of unwanted oil, represents an uptick of just 300 million barrels, a 10 per cent increase. It represents about a three day supply of oil at current global consumption rates.

Far from being a tsunami of excess oil swamping the world, this glut is hardly enough to get our shoes wet. There are two implications to putting this excess in its proper perspective:

  1. Any return to anything like normal demand will vaporize the glut in a matter of days. Which means that’s how long it will take for prices to head back toward $100 a barrel from the current under-$40.
  2. Although encouraged to ramp production back up by the return of high prices, the oil industry will not be able to. True, they can uncap sealed wells and re-erect mothballed rigs — although even doing that, which will require finding new sources of financing and hiring workers, will take a dismaying length of time. But virtually all the oil companies in the world have for years been cutting back on the money they spend looking for new oil fields. Before the price crash they were cutting back because it wasn’t working, they weren’t finding new oil no matter how much they spent. Since the price crash they’ve been cutting  back viciously because they can’t afford it. But the result is the same: there are precious few new oil wells to drill, even at a profit.

Thus the prospect of peak oil, far from having been disproved by current events, as some are gloating, hasn’t even been much delayed by current events. And if there is to be a recovery from the current doldrums of the oil industry it will be wrenching, recession-inducing recovery because we all know what economies do when oil prices spike.

On the other hand, if the economic news continues to be as bad as it is now, and the expected global depression locks most of the world’s people into long-term poverty, and their ability to buy anything continues to wither as it is withering now, why then we will be all right. With respect to peak oil.

As long as we can’t afford to buy gas, it will remain cheap. The minute we start buying it again, it will become expensive and scarce. And it will happen so fast that the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat will be simultaneous.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Billions of Barrels of US Oil Set to Disappear. Poof.

oil-fire-1024x681gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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An oil refinery in Puerto Rico burns in 2009. That’s one way to make a bunch of oil disappear, but accountants can do it faster. And they’re going to. 

Published on The Daily Impact on December 10, 2015

In a few weeks, several billion barrels of American oil will vanish in an instant. (I am not making this stuff up: the headline is right there on Bloomberg Business, hardly a chicken-little medium.) This is — shortly to be was — the oil that just a few months ago (Remember? When we were young, and happy?) was to return us to energy independence, to make us the number one oil producer in the world, to bring the happy days here again for good.

Okay, there were weasel words salted into those assurances all along, words that we didn’t realize were there until too late. The new American oil revolution was going to put us on the road back in the general direction of North American energy independence (as long as you counted Mexican and Canadian oil, too); and we would be the number one oil producer if you included in your definition of “oil” such things as biofuels, refinery gains from heat expansion, spillage and, if necessary, drippings from leaky transmissions in shopping mall parking lots.

Well, we bought it. Even the president said we had a hundred years of petroleum lying under our feet. Thus it would be our great-grandchildren, not our grandchildren, whose lives we would ruin by burning it all up. Whew, that was a relief.

But much of that oil is about to disappear, not with the boom of an oil-train explosion or deep-well blowout or terrorist bomb, but with the quiet click of a computer mouse. And this time it’s not (as it often has been before) the Energy Information Administration revising downward a previous guess about oil reserves.   

As the American shale-oil boom, a.k.a. American Oil Revolution, was accelerating back in 2009, the Masters of the Oil Universe demanded and got an accommodation from the Securities and Exchange Commission: it was made easier for the oil companies to claim as hard assets, for purposes of valuing their companies and borrowing money, the value of all the oil they estimated to be “in reserve,” which is to say lying somewhere under the ground they had under their control.

The oil companies’ estimates of their own “proven reserves” were astronomical, of course. In the careful words of one expert observer, David Hughes, “There was too much optimism built into their forecasts.” Translation: They lied.

It is as if you and I, on applying to the bank for a loan, were able to claim as assets all the money we intended to make in our lifetime. “$20 million over 20 years, you say? Why then a $10 million loan should be no problem.” And so it was for the fracking industry, which never could have got started without oceans of cheap borrowed money.

Remarkably, at the time the SEC snuck two tiny limitations into the newly permissive rule, so niggling that no one thought them worthy of mention. To be, um, legitimate, these claimed assets had to be 1) profitable to extract under current market prices, and 2) actually extracted within five years. Profitability went away a year ago when oil prices collapsed from over a hundred dollars a barrel to under 50. Despite the fact that quarterly assessments of assets, including oil reserves, are required, bankers and hedge funds and operators used smoke and mirrors to avoid the Draconian restructuring that the new prices required. But now the five years have run out.

Hence the vanishing oil (which of course is not really vanishing, because it never existed). Chesapeake Energy Corporation, one of the noisiest participants in the erstwhile “Revolution” (Successful? That’s a whole ‘nother story.) is among the hardest to be hit: at year’s end it will lose over a billion barrels of reserves, or 45% of its assets.

Chesapeake is hardly alone. Moody’s Investment Service has just issued a report on the “deteriorating credit quality” in the oil and gas sector, a set of “exceptionally adverse conditions” that are “staggering in their breadth and severity.”

So this is how the oil revolution ends, not with a bang but a poof.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Charades in Paris

sea-level-risegc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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“A rising sea today submerged the hall in which COP21 negotiators were debating what to do about sea level rise.”

You think that’s fantasy? Take a look at what COP21 is actually, really doing.


Published on The Daily Impact on November 30, 2015

Charades: an absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance. Paris: site of the 2015 conference of COP21 (or, if you insist: Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 21st Session). Yes, it’s the 21st time the participants have gathered to congratulate themselves for finally getting serious about climate change, with the promise that this time they will not only be serious about it, they will actually do something about it.

Of course they haven’t been; and of course they won’t. The only principle to which they have been committed, leaders of the industrialized and developing nations alike, is the first principle of industrialized politics: always appear to be doing something, but never do anything.  To do something about climate change would negatively affect one or more of the Leaders’ industrial patrons on whom most of them depend to stay in office; but a Leader must always appearto be doing something about something lest the starving, choking, drowning peasants rise up and ruin the business plan.

By the 1990s, rising seas, spreading deserts, disappearing glaciers and intensifying storms had demonstrated to all but the severely mentally challenged that global temperatures were rising, with devastating effects, and the cause was the massive burning of fossil fuels that enabled the continuation of the Industrial Revolution. The Leaders responded by ostentatiously pretending to do something. They assembled and solemnly resolved in 1997 that they were serious, and one day would do something or other about the crisis.

It took them eight years to sign what they had written down; the Kyoto Protocol, which required its signatories to reduce their carbon emissions by 5% below 1990 levels, in ten years or so. Except that it did not apply to “developing” countries, including the second largest economy in the world, China’s, and some of the other most polluting and polluted nations, such as India. And then, of course, the United States refused to ratify, so we didn’t have to do anything.

The United Nations claims that Kyoto has been a success because the countries left — after you take out the biggest and the dirtiest — have actually seen their carbon emissions decline by 22 per cent, four times the target reduction. But that was almost entirely due to worldwide recession, not principled action. And meanwhile total carbon emissions worldwide have been soaring. This year, primarily because of China and India, emissions are on track to increase 2.5%, to a level 65% above 1990 levels.  

Another successful year in the War on Climate, 2015 will go into the books as the hottest year ever recorded on earth. Deserts are spreading faster, sea levels are rising higher, storms are more destructive than ever, and climate refugees are destabilizing the politics of the world. Yet public support for taking significant action to deal with climate change continues to decline in all the countries involved with COP21.

Now comes COP21, to do what, exactly? Well, above all, to take things seriously, as they are being urged to do by guitar-playing demonstrators. To do everything humanly possible (which means, in realspeak, nothing at all) to limit global warming to 2 degrees centigrade. (Their elegant, weeklong, extravagantly catered confab is sponsored in large part by oil, automobile and airline companies)  The reality is, that if the delegates resolved, and then returned to their countries and proceeded, to stop burning all fossil fuels entirely on December 31, no more gas, no more oil, no more coal, no more natural gas, at all — climate change would continue virtually unabated for at least another 40 years, warming would far surpass 2 degrees Celsius and the industrial age, along with the lives of most people on Earth, would be over.

If instead, the Leaders highly resolve to adopt the proposals before them — to create, for example, a “Womens’ Earth and Climate Network, ” to encourage scads of public, private and public-hyphen-private partnerships to get serious about studying something to be done somewhen to proactively address the problem — if, in other words, COP21 is an historic, unparalleled, unmitigated success, then the industrial age will be over a few years sooner.

What is going on in Paris this week is not serious, nor is it hopeful, nor even meaningful. Just call it bread and circuses, without the bread.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Beware the Tides of March


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US Highway 80, only access to Tybee Island, Georgia, underwater on October 27. It was the worst flood since a Category 2 hurricane in 1935. No rain, no wind, just an implacably rising sea.

Published on The Daily Impact on November 9, 2015

When I first published Brace for Impact, six years ago, I did not give climate change its own chapter. I thought it was a slow-moving threat multiplier, that would exacerbate the effects of more immediate damage done by by polluters, industrial agriculture, peak oil and the like. Boy, has that changed. The onslaughts of drought, heat, savage storms and sea level rise have accelerated beyond the expectations of scientists just a few years ago, and as we come around the turn to the home stretch, climate change is neck and neck with the various other existential threats to the industrial age. The finish line, of course, being the place where we are all finished.

Nowhere are these events conspiring to accelerate more than along the East Coast of the United States. Here, multiple feedback mechanisms — accelerators that were not even identified until recently — along with a geological trend not previously thought to be connected are vexing the Atlantic Ocean from all sides until all it wants to do is attack us.

On October 27, high tide at Charleston South Carolina ran 8.67 feet above mean low water, the highest tide since Hurricane Hugo came ashore there in 1989. And Savannah Georgia saw 10.43 feet. Two days later high-tide flooding reached into substantial areas around Boston Harbor. And all of these high tides occurred in perfect weather.

A number of factors have made the East Coast ground zero (or should we say water zero?) for sea level rise. Perhaps the biggest is the flood of cold, fresh water into the North Atlantic from the melting glaciers on Greenland, whose deterioration has been accelerated by a whole set of unanticipated feedback loops. By changing the salinity and temperature of a large chunk of the ocean, that meltwater has contributed to a slowing of the great rivers that circulate through the ocean, such as the Gulf Stream, and among other things moderate the climate of Europe. Another thing the Gulf Stream does, as  it flows northward along our coast, is to whisk away water that otherwise tends to pile up against the shore, contributing to sea level rise.

Meanwhile, another circulatory change, this one in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is having another effect. This one is seasonal. It is popularly known as El Nino, and is blamed for more bad things than Obama, but is in fact a normal, long-lived set of recurring circumstances that are as much effects as causes of atmospheric events. One of the ancillary events, that occur because of the changes in the Pacific collectively known as El Nino, are the setup of prevailing northeasterly winds over the Atlantic off America. As long as El Nino lasts, these winds help pile up sea water against the coast.

Add to this the fact that the land along much of the East Coast is sinking, a continuing geological reaction to the end of the last Ice Age. The massive weight of the glaciers inland has borne down the tectonic plate on which the continent rests, bulging upward the places along the margins of the glaciers. When the ice melted the inland areas started rebounding upward, the coastal areas began to sink back to there they had been. The process continues.

What has been called “nuisance” tidal flooding, or “blue sky” flooding, has increased between 300 and 900 percent in East Coast cities since the 1960s.   And according to a new set of calculations from NOAA, this winter and spring it’s going to get a lot worse. So if you live on the East Coast, beware the tides of March.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Trapped in a Millennial’s Daydream

 millennials  gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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The meaning of life in one easy chart! It’s easy when you’re a Millennial. (Photo by ITU Pictures)

Published on The Daily Impact on November 3, 2015

Culture — the shared sense of who we are, and how we act — is now transmitted, in the main, by television. Once, our culture was preserved, protected and passed along by wise elders — heads of families and clans, priests, scholars and the like, whose motivation was to remind us of our shared history and values, and to summon us to a life of service to those values. Today, our culture consists of titillation, entertainment, distraction and falsehoods choreographed by 20-somethings who think history is something that happened last week, character is a part in a movie and wisdom is the name of a tooth.

The cable news shows on TV, for example, upon which many depend for information about the world and for clues about what to make of it, are produced by Millennials. They bring their ideas to the story conferences, advocate their inclusion in the lineup, book the guests, and write the copy. What is the purpose of these tasks? To inform, inspire, educate or motivate? No, to grab eyeballs (translation: attract viewers). How? By making it sexy, provocative, bloody, heart-wrenching (she breaks down, she cries, great TV!), hilarious, and if you can’t get any of that, make it fast. Dress it with dazzling graphics, surround it with pounding sound effects, and for those whose attention might wander after two consecutive seconds of anything, run crawls! supers! inserts! overlays! banners! Grab those eyeballs and never let them go!

Guests and pundits are sought who fill one or both of two requirements: one, they have proved on other appearances that they can get eyeballs (did you think that you have seen little but Trump on TV for three months because of the quality of his ideas? Eyeballs stick to him! Get him!); and two, they validate the booker’s pre-conceived idea of what will make good TV. A typical opening line from a booker calling a prospective guest goes something like this: “Hi, we’re looking for someone who will compare Hillary’s email scandal to Watergate. You willing to do that? Fine, we’ll send a car. You think that’s a dumb idea? Have a nice day.”

Ordinary people cannot be relied upon to deliver good TV, although they do seem to study and learn from each other’s performances as “witnesses,” “victims,” and especially “family members.” Producers stack the decks by writing pre-answered questions for the anchor bimbos and bimbettes: “So, how did you feel when he pointed the gun at you? Did your life flash before your eyes, did you have trouble breathing, did time slow down and stop?” Answer: “Uh, yeah.”

This is the world of the millennials, whose creative writing is done with their thumbs, whose idea of a good read is 140 characters long, who eyes glaze over if they are even briefly deprived of the stimulation of flash-bang video grenades. And they are the people who do most of the work on our news programs, commercials and TV shows — the shared experiences that fill our conversations, inform our thought, and after a while define us and our time.

Millennials are not stupid, but they are young, lacking in experience and consequently judgment. That is why we used to entrust culture to old people. A Millenial cannot imagine what will amuse or engage large numbers of people who live suffocated lives far from the trendy urban centers of New York, New York, etcetera. So the Millenial news producer, creative director or TV writer falls back on rules made up by other Millennials and tested by time for six months or so.

Which is why we are presented with endless parades of celebrities (everybody likes them, right?); endless repetitions of nostrums that are simple, obvious and wrong (trickle-down economics, just one example); and cartoons pretending to explain some wondrously complex process of nature with a crayon (see, the medicine goes in here and all the bad stuff runs away!).

Which is why, when a celebrity gets up on a stage and gives us a simple, cartoonish explanation of how he would handle the presidency of the United States, it doesn’t seem ridiculous. In our culture, that’s how things work.  I know. I saw it on TV.  

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Death Watch in the Oil Patch

 Pumpjack-1024x768  gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Oil pumpjacks starting to suck oil instead of money. (You and I know, of course, that grasshopper pumps are not used in fracking, but have become a universal symbol for the oil bidness in the Mainstream Media, so there you go. And here you are.).

Published on The Daily Impact on October 28, 2015

In the same sense that brave individuals are said to “fight” stage four cancer, the American oil industry has spent a harrowing year fighting reality. Since oil prices tanked last summer, the industry has drawn down its strategic reserves of whitewash, pig lipstick, shinola and embalming fluid to keep things looking good even as they were decomposing. They did a pretty good job, but then they’ve had a lot of practice.Their theory, apparently; when you’re kicking the can down the road, a myth is as good as a mile. Consider a brief compendium of the lies, damned lies and statistics the oil guys have sold the country in the past few years.

Myth Sold: The Oil “Revolution.”  Hydraulic fracturing was a technological breakthrough that was going to make America number one in world oil production again, restore American energy independence and guarantee American hegemony for (pretty much) ever.    

Fact: Fracking is an extremely expensive and environmentally destructive way to wring the last few drops of  oil out of source rock. While it temporarily increased US oil production, it never equalled our peak production of 1970, and while it temporarily decreased our oil imports (which are now on their way back up), it never threatened our status as the world’s largest importer of oil.

Myth Sold: Technology Will Save Us. When oil prices cratered, the frackers reassured their investors, lenders and us that they could handle it. They had improved the fracking technology so much they could continue to make a profit producing $50-a-barrel oil.

Fact: The much-hyped changes were just so much tinkering, and profits remained illusory. Virtually every company involved in the fracking patch had negative cash flows from the beginning. Operating profits from the wells were wiped out by the costs of replacing the wells every three or four years, because of their hideous depletion rates. Conventional wells produce for 20 years, five time longer than fracked well.

Myth Sold: Efficiency Will Save Us. Like the old line about balancing the federal budget by eliminating waste and fraud, this sounds reasonable but never happens. The frackers concentrated on the “sweet spots,” the small areas of their holdings with the best returns, and they started placing four drilling rigs, instead of one, on each pad.

Fact: Thus their production actually increased for a few months after the price crash. But, well productivity is flatlining now and with the rig count down by about half, new wells are not being brought on line and production has started to fall sharply.

Myth Sold: Hedging Will Save Us. For the first year or so of depressed prices, frackers benefited from hedges — contracts to sell their product at last year’s prevailing prices. The theory was, prices would be back up before the hedges ran out.

Fact: The hedges have run out. The people who used to take the other side of the hedges are not answering frackers’ phone calls. Maybe because their phones have been disconnected.

Myth Sold: Junk Bonds Will Save Us. And so they did, for a while. Infusions of cash — from, among others, vultures hoping to acquire cheap oil company assets and ride the resurgence to a new, new oil revolution — in the form of junk bonds, leveraged loans, sub-prime loans, covenant-lite loans, etc., kept the bubble inflated.

Fact: What resurgence? Banks and other lenders, reluctant to recognize the mounting losses, continued to pretend that the oil companies whose assets’ worth had been cut in half were still solvent. Nothing wrong here! Why do you ask?

New Fact: Right now, the banks are conducting a mandatory review of the worth of the assets pledged against their fracking loans, that is, the value of the oil the companies still have to extract. This spring, the banks assessed the oil at last year’s prices, and with fingers tightly crossed rolled over the loans.

It was a stretch then; can they do it again, eke out a few more months of myths? On the one hand, maybe so, denial is not just a river in Egypt. On the other hand, good as they have been, the sellers of the myths appear to be sold out.  

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Global Recession Accelerating toward Depression

storm-cloudsgc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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The weather forecast says sunny and mild. Let’s go shopping. (Wikipedia Photo)

Published on The Daily Impact on October 21, 2015

With the mainstream media devoting 80% of their time covering the contest to see what color uniform the captain of the USS Titanic will be wearing in 2017; with the Tea Party Taliban — 40 fundamentalist members of the House of Representatives — bringing the federal government to its knees; the storm clouds of a great global depression are building into our skies from all directions, largely unacknowledged even as they begin to blot out the sun.

Any economy is a pyramid whose broad base is comprised of the middle class — people who have enough money to provide a decent life for themselves. They do this by spending their money on the necessities of life, thus giving life to businesses organized to provide them with those necessities. This activity is called trade, and where there is no trade, there is no economic life.

Even as recession looms there is plenty of trade going on. But it’s not so much trade in the necessities of life, but gambles on the future value of necessities, on short positions and leveraged positions and junk debt and derivatives and indexes, indulged in by riverboat gamblers throwing around other peoples’ money. The one percent of the world’s population who own 50% of the world’s wealth are having a wonderful time at the casino, they’re getting richer by the minute and will tell you that everything is wonderful.

But the trade in the necessities of life, the trade that sustains economies instead of blowing them up, as the gamblers always do, is in desperate trouble, for one overwhelming reason. In most of the world today, the people who must buy the necessities of life don’t have the money to do so. Or to put it another way, the broad foundation of the pyramid is collapsing.

According to one of the world’s largest banks, Britain’s HSBC, global trade volume was down 8.4% in the first half of this year (the latest numbers are for June). That means, sayeth the bankers, that we — all of us, the whole world — are already in a dollar recession.

For decades, the driver of the world economy has been China, as it flooded the world with cheap exports and feverishly imported oil, coal, concrete, steel and dollars.  Now the driver is coasting, rapidly losing power: imports to China were down 20% in September (year-to-year) and exports were off 3.7%. The China Containerized Freight Index, which has been tracking shipping volumes for 17 years, has been dropping precipitously for over a year and has just hit an all time low.

The Masters of the Universe (irony alert: this is the term of art used here to denote the class of hedge fund, equity management shadow bankers who routinely blow up the world for profit) who saw the Chinese decline coming assumed that the world’s other emerging markets, such as Brazil, Turkey, India, Russia and the like, would pick up the slack. Indeed, the Masters turned firehoses of capital on the emerging markets for the past several years, inflating bubble after bubble after bubble in their frantic rush to realize the returns on investment of their dreams.

The dreams have turned to nightmares. The collapse in commodity prices (a consequence of the slowing of the developed economies), among other things, has wrecked the frail emerging markets, and the firehoses of capital are pointing the other way. The International Monetary Fundand the Bank of England, among many others, are warning that the billions of dollars of investment capital now being sucked out of the emerging economies, and trillions of dollars in loans that can never be repaid, pose an existential threat to the economies of the world.

If you think the U.S. is immune from these raging financial fires, think again. Debt, like dry tinder, is everywhere and the hot winds are spreading and fanning embers everywhere:

  • American retail giants that once dominated the world — McDonald’s, Walmart, Sears, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, even Facebook and Twitter — are sick and dying, their revenue, profit and stock vital signs weak and thready, as they say in the ICU. The surgeons are hacking off limbs — closing stores and firing people — as fast as they can, trying to save the organism.
  • The shipping of goods within the U.S. — the bedrock measure of buying and selling, has declined every month (year-to-year) since February, and that includes September, the peak month for shipping holiday merchandise to stores for selling in the season in which many stores make their profit for the year.
  • A report from CNBC showing both retail sales and wages flatlining was headlined: “Consumers shutting down as US economy deflates.”

It’s happening all over the world.

This has been a bulletin from The Daily Impact. We now return you to our regular programs: financial advice from Don “I’m really, really rich” Trump and self-defense classes from Dr. Ben “shoot that guy behind the counter” Carson.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

The Fall of the Colors

gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on October 13, 2015

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Every day, most of us look directly at one of the worst manifestations of global industrial pollution — only one of which is climate change — and yet we do not see it. Especially this time of year, we stare at it, take trips to see even more of it, and marvel to each other about how “gorgeous” it is. We look at the colors of the forest, but we do not see the sickness of the trees. Let me warn you: once you do see, you cannot unsee, although you will wish most fervently that you could.

If we do look just a little more closely at those “spectacular” fall colors, walk up to just about any tree and inspect it, we will see skeletal branches whose leaves have been prematurely lost; leaves that are curled and crisped and spotted and blanched with sickness; more than likely, in a mature tree, a partially rotted-out core; and overall a display of color that pales in comparison with prior years. I wrote about this last year [Falling Colors: The Long Agony of the Trees] and of course nothing has happened since to make it any better.

Forests are in massive decline on every forested continent. And every year we learn that more are dying, and more things are killing them. Of course climate change — specifically, warming temperatures and drought — is a major factor. And as I have learned largely through the efforts of blogger Gail Zawicki at Wits End, the implacable rise of background levels of ozone pollution, primarily from automobile exhaust, is poisoning trees everywhere now, even in remote, pristine locations.

But wait, there’s more! Call right now and we’ll double the number of existential threats to trees and thus humans. Operators are standing by.  

Radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants and nuclear accidents, borne by wind and water, absorbed by soil, affect trees much as does ozone, by administering a low-dose, cumulative, persistent poison that affects the tree and the tree’s ability to resist other threats such as insects and fungi. There is a relentless global increase in these emissions, from accidents such as those at Chernobyl and Fukushima, and from the daily operations of power plants.

And one more thing. When forests that have been absorbing and sequestering radioactivity for decades burn, as they have been doing across vast areas of the northern hemisphere since early spring this year, the radioactivity, still as potent as ever, is released in the smoke, carried by the wind, and redistributed as if all the radioactive emissions of decades were released all over again.

Acid rain is a term we almost never hear these days, as if it were a problem that had gone away. Hardly. While automobile exhaust has been cleansed of much of the nitrogen oxides that are the primary cause of excess acid in the atmosphere, little has been done to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide gas, which is not only a greenhouse gas but also a contributor to acid rain, which continues to damage trees, among other living things, worldwide.

Insects are being unleashed by warming temperatures that allow them to operate at higher altitudes and latitudes. In the American West, for example, beetles preying on conifers for longer periods of time each year, in places they have never been before, have killed an astonishing 70,000 square miles of forest since 2000. And it’s not just because there are more beetles in more places, but also because the trees, are also besieged by ozone, radiation, acid rain and drought.

So take another look at the bleaching colors of fall, and now, see them, how they represent not the ecstatic celebration of nature and the turning of the seasons that was once so reassuring to us; but resemble now the art of the undertaker’s cosmetics that prompt us to say, “Oh, it looks so natural.”  

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Fortune: “Frackers Face Mass Extinction”

  fracking-well-night-e1292530315346   gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Published on The Daily Impact on September 30, 2015

Awareness is gradually seeping into the financial press that the Great American Oil Revolution has been over for months — witness the current Fortune headline,“Frackers Could Soon Face Mass Extinction.” If the general media had any grasp of what was happening in America, or what it meant, CNN would be doing wall-to-wall coverage of the deserted man-camps in North Dakota, the unemployment lines in Texas, the equipment yards stacked with idle derricks, the spreading panic in the junk-bond, bond and stock markets. Instead we get Donald’s beautiful tax plan, Hillary’s elusive emails and Carly’s mythical video tapes.

Today is the last day of the rest of the frackers’ lives. That’s because it is the last day of the third quarter of the year, the day after which banks audit their loans, assessing anew the value of the assets held as collateral.

Frackers pledge their oil reserves, and those reserves are worth today about half of what they were worth a year ago. A year ago, they borrowed everything they could. In about two weeks when the audits are done they’re going to have to give half of it back. Many of the companies don’t have it.

Analysts quoted by Fortune expect a third of the fracking companies to go under.

I expected this to happen at the end of the first quarter, when the banks did the first of their two annual reassessments. But I forgot the old rule of thumb: borrow ten thousand dollars, and the bank owns you, borrow ten million and you own the bank.  Back in April, lenders bent over backwards to avoid reclassifying loans, and predatory investors poured money into junk-bond rollovers of expiring junk bonds, because they simply could not believe that the ride was over. Prices would go back up, was the mantra they chanted, and all would be well again.

As I’ve reported here over and over, this disaster would have overtaken the fracking patch even if oil prices had not tanked, because its root problem was the hideous decline rate of fracking wells, most of which are exhausted within four years.

Imagine if they built houses of water-soluble materials. You buy a house for $200,000 or so, and at the end of four years it’s uninhabitable and worthless, and you have to buy another one. You might have been making good money those four years, but enough to set aside $50,000 a year? That’s been the fracking problem from the beginning, and virtually every company in the business has had to borrow heavily – actually, recklessly — to stay in the game.

Which is over. For most. There will always be some operators diligently wringing out the last few drops of combustibles, but the Brave New World of American oil supremacy in a cowed world, the age of American energy security, the renewed American oil economy  — all creations of marketing departments in search of the proverbial greater-fool investors and lenders — are toast.  

Still can’t believe it? Check out David Stockman, “Going Broke in the Shale Patch;” Oil, “Is This the End of the Shale Gas Revolution?;” CNBC, “US Drillers About to Start Hemorrhaging;” Bloomberg, “Wall Street Lenders Growing Impatient with U.S. Shale Revolution” and “Junk-Debt Investors Fight for Scraps as U.S. Shale Rout Deepens;” and even the Wall Street Journal“Fracking Firms that Drove Oil Boom Struggle to Survive.”

Yes, it’s morning in the American fracking patch, but instead of Ronald Reagan’s rhapsodic dawn it’s more like something out of Revelations. Even the staid Fortune Magazine says, “Doomsday may finally be coming to the fracking industry.”

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

Cops in America: Safer Than They Have Ever Been

gc2smOff the keyboard of Thomas Lewis

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Police stand watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.

Published on The Daily Impact on September 11, 2015

The notion that there is a “war on cops” being conducted in America — beloved of headline writers, politicians, and cops — is a complete myth. Policing, it turns out, is not an especially dangerous job, nor is it getting more so. If you want to honor someone who goes out there every day and puts his life on the line for you, hold a parade for the person who catches your fish. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial fishing is the most dangerous job in America. On the Bureau’s list of the ten most dangerous occupations, police officer does not appear. Nor is the trend going the wrong way; fewer cops were murdered in 2013 than in any year in the past generation, and it looks like 2015 will be about the same.

Logging and fishing, number one and two on the most-dangerous jobs list, have on-the-job fatality rates of about 127 per year per 100,000 workers.The rate for police officers is 11. (And that’s the rate for all deaths on the job, with automobile accidents accounting for almost as many as homicides.) By the numbers, it is twice as dangerous to be a truck driver as to be a crime-buster. By the numbers, your risk of being shot if you are a resident of Baltimore is about the same as if you are a sworn police officer.

So how has this mundane reality been transformed into the extreme paranoia now being shared by the uninformed and the uniformed? There seems to be a defensive, and an offensive, component.

The police offense has been to dive into the bonanza of so-called surplus military equipment rolling home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, available free to police departments by a special act of Congress. To defend against the “war on cops,” and to avoid being outgunned by drug dealers, departments large and tiny, across the country, have gorged themselves on 30-ton armored personnel carriers, M-16 automatic weapons, flash-bang grenades, night-vision scopes, camouflage and body armor.

When you have a nice new hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Military-style SWAT teams have been used recently to raid barber shops in Florida suspected of operating without licenses, and to enforce liquor regulations among Louisiana nightclubs. Police response to trouble everywhere has more and more come to resemble the kick-in-the-door, kill-’em-all-and-let-God-sort-it-out tactics of urban military combat than the protect-and-defend approach of what we used to call peace officers.

The defensive component has arisen with the recent flurry of police killings of unarmed civilians. The impression is widespread that these killings have sharply increased, but it turns out that no one has been rigorously counting them, and we simply don’t know what the trend actually is. Incomplete statistics analyzed by people grinding various axes indicates the number of such shootings is increasing, especially since all those police departments got all their new toys. The Washington Post counted nearly 500 such shootings in the first five months of this year — a number that stands in stark contrast to the 24 police officers killed in the first eight months of the year. The numbers  also indicate that more white people have been killed than black, suggesting the racial component of the problem has been overblown.

Now, none of this is meant to express any lack of respect for professional police officers. The key word being professional. As a lifelong journalist I have shared some sticky situations with police officers, from being abducted by rioters to accidentally arriving at a bank robbery in progress ahead of the first responders, and I learned long ago what professional looks like.

A professional officer knows that his job is to calm excited people, to de-escalate confrontation, to defuse tension and to avoid violence. And he is trained to do just that, prepared for the threats that might arise, practiced in handling them calmly. That is his job, and to expect him to do it when called on is not unreasonable. As they say [irony alert] it’s why they get the big bucks.

When you see a police officer emptying his weapon into the back of a fleeing, unarmed civilian, you are not seeing a professional in action. You are seeing a kind of war, but it is not a war on cops.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

The Crash of 2015: It’s Here

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A CNBC anchor after trying to explain hedging against the volatility of stocks indexed to the Volatility Index. The end is near now.

Published on the Daily Impact on August 31, 2015

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Screw it, I’m calling it. I’ve been watching the so-called “markets” of China, the United States and a couple dozen other countries fall off a cliff, get up, stagger upward, fall off another cliff, and repeat. I’ve been listening to the chattering class say over and over again, this is normal, seen this before, everybody buy the dip. I’ve been watching the zombie oil-fracking revolution in this country go into spasms, jerking a few feet forward, a few feet back, gasping for breath, while the cheerleaders agree: perfectly normal, blood pressure okay, reflexes good, lend them more money. This is not normal, it is not okay, it is the Crash of 2015.

We will not likely agree on this until we stop using wildly different languages with which to discuss it. First of all, to refer to these things as “stock markets,” as if they were places where equities were bought and sold based on the soundness and prospects of the companies listed, is akin to putting your faith in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

These places are casinos filled with gambling addicts using other people’s money to bet, not on the future of a stock but on the popularity of a stock among the greater fools on whom the gambler must unload the shares of Consolidated Aggregators he just bought on the dip. In this casino, trading in shares themselves is like playing the slot machines, there in the lobby of the casino for the amusement of the little people risking their quarters. The real games are played in private rooms with derivatives, futures, hedges, credit default swaps, junk bonds. The master of the universe are even gambling on the outcomes of corporate lawsuits (and for what reason, do we suppose, has that practice alone drawn the disapproving attention of the drones of Washington?). They are buying hedges against the volatility of securities indexed to the volatility of the market. If you can think about that one for more than 30 seconds without your head exploding, your mellowness index is in the stratosphere. Increasingly the gambling is being done by machines, programmed by the Masters to detect the circumstances under which they are to blow up the world.  

The commerce of the world, like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean, is slowing down, bestowing unimaginable collateral damage as its does so. The prices of all industrial commodities (not just oil) have tanked, taking down the economies and currencies of the countries who depend for their existence on the exploitation of their natural resources. The volume of stuff being shipped from pace to place has withered. Both commerce and the Gulf Stream are losing the sources of their energy: in the case of the Gulf Stream, it’s temperature differential; in the case of trade, it’s money in the hands of the middle class, being spent on consumer goods.

Money, not credit. The Masters like to pretend they are the same thing but they are not. To issue consumers more credit cards, or more mortgage refi’s, is not the same thing as providing them with a living wage. To inject more money into the equity of banks and corporations, as the central banks have been doing for decades, does not, it turns out, create a tide of well being that lifts all boats. It’s like feeding the cow at the wrong end. No matter how much nutritious food you ram in, it’s just not going to help.

They have got away with this madness — the Masters, the Pundits, the Shills and the Gamblers — largely because decent people cannot believe anyone could possibly be crazy enough to do what they seem to be doing. Decent people tend not to remember the Housing Bubble Crash, the Dot-Com Crash, the Savings and Loan Crash, the Enron Crash, etc. etc.

Even if they’re gambling, surely it’s still true that the house never loses? Yes, that’s still true. As long as there are customers in the house. Look around. The customers are cashing in their chips and leaving China, the emerging markets, the junk-bond markets and the US markets as fast as they can without actually yelling “fire” and trampling each other.

Believe it. They are crazy, and this is the Crash of 2015.

It is not the Crash of the Industrial Age, not yet, although that, too, is ongoing. We will probably emerge from the Crash of 2015 onto the littered, downward slope of depression toward the ultimate collapse, still it seems several uncomfortable years in the future.  But we will have cause to remember the Crash of 2015.

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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With the Paris Agreement, countries are obliged to report greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, [...]

The core crop region of the Humid Pampa is one of the most productive agricultural lands around the [...]

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The building energy performance pattern is predicted to be shifted in the future due to climate chan [...]