2020: A Marker For Collapse
The issue of timing is a bit complicated. Asking when collapse will happen is way too broad.
When people ask when we will see serious impacts I start by telling them we have been seeing very serious impacts in a broad sense since the early 70's. Think about it. Since 1971 the only way the industrialized West has roughly maintained their standards of living is through massive accumulation of debt. I say "roughly maintained" because we have seen an epic gutting of the middle class and a huge trend towards being a service economy - rather than making more, better, stuff, we've added waitress and bartender jobs exponentially. Then there's the very serious impacts of the fact that conventional crude peaked in 2005. We've been moving to unconventional sources that have way lower EROEI and are fundamentally inadequate to provide for our growing demand, as well as economically not viable - and have only been able to be accomplished through huge amounts of debt. This is coming to an end. And then there's the fact that economies around the world are crashing and there are riots and austerity measures in nations across the globe.
The point is that “collapse" is such a broad umbrella. Collapse in the sense of steady and ever-increasing decline is happening and has been since the early 70's. It's been papered over with debt for a long time but now net energy realities are hitting and those financial measures are no longer nearly as effective. Breakdowns in the system will invariably hit different places at greater frequency and duration - no two places will be alike in how it plays out.
Someone recently asked me: "When will we see the inevitable decline of GDP, and living standards due to the rise in the price of oil?" But the problem with this question is that we've already seen a world-wide growth (GDP) slowdown/decline. And I’ll be damned if it’s not obvious that living standards have certainly dropped significantly. Even in the US living standards have extremely eroded - there is a ridiculously large and growing gap between the rich and the rest of us who have to work two jobs to get by. The vast majority of Americans can't afford a $200 emergency, the vast majority are living paycheck to paycheck.
The lowest income groups in terms of nations have already dropped off. Inequality is skyrocketing in every industrialized nation. In terms of the US, the lowest income groups have already decayed. This can be seen in the destruction of the middle class. The middle class has become poorer and poorer, effectively becoming the new poor and adding many millions to the ranks of the lower class. The massive increase in reliance on government aid such as unemployment and food stamps show that the only reason the majority of Americans have not already dropped off the trough as the pie gets smaller is because they are increasingly dependent on the government to get by and live at their standard of living.
Take a look at Greece last year. There have been reports of pensioners - people who are past retirement age - rioting in the streets and overturning vehicles because of the forced "austerity measures." When the people on the street are effected in mass numbers like this, they will riot. Doesn't matter who they are or what country. Soon enough, this sort of thing will be common even in the West.
But of course the question you're really wondering about is when this going to be felt by the "main street" the "normal people" of the rich industrialized Western countries? To that question I would wager that barring any black swan events that might make it come sooner, we are inevitably going to face massive systemic change between the years 2020 - 2025. The update to the Limits to Growth study showed the "business as usual" or "standard run" scenario playing out pretty rapidly by 2025.
Source: One of the graphics from the original Limits To Growth study, showing the "Standard Run" scenario model. By 2020-2025, things start getting serious.
Source: One of the graphics from a follow-up study done in 2000 of the Limits To Growth study. This shows about 3 decades worth of actual historical data (in purple dots) plotted along the lines of the "standard run" scenario modeling. This proves that the "Standard Run" model is the model that actual historic data tracked up until the year 2000, instead of other models that ended in a "stable world scenario." Pretty impressive, if you ask me.
The real question is when will the next big event occur that shocks the system significantly? And the answer to that, as far as I can discern, is a massive oil price shock and shortages situation that should occur around 2020, give or take a year, according to all the industry top dogs. Saudi Aramco, Haliburton, the CEO of Shell, and many others have been warning about this lately. The other concern there is that this could precipitate another global market meltdown. In the '08 global financial crisis, oil prices spiked to $147/barrel and then we had the market meltdown. After that, well, I expect things to start getting ugly quickly, though it's not like all public services will cease overnight.
As I have said before, "about 2020" is the approximate heart attack. The deathstroke will be more like 2025, or a few years later. And the final red line beeeeeeeeeeep to signify death will likely be a few years after that, say around 2030. But remember, the patient is in extraordinarily bad health, and symptoms during the final years of life won't be pretty.
Here is a list of additional resources to support the fact that price shocks and massive shortages are on their way by about 2020. This is being reported all over even the mainstream media, if you pay attention.
IEA: Oil Price Spike Coming In 2020
ZeroHedge, Sep 19, 2017
Citi Says Get Ready For An Oil Squeeze
Bloomberg, Sep 25, 2017
IEA Forecasts Oil Shortages and Sharp Price Rise by 2020
Forbes, March 7, 2017
Oil Shortage Feared By 2020 as Discoveries Fall to Record Low
Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2017
People Are Almost Completely Ignoring A Looming Crisis For Oil
Business Insider, Sep 7, 2016
Brace For The Oil, Food, and Financial Crash in 2018
Insurge Intelligence, Jan 16, 2017
James A. Pate
11/6/2017 08:35:28 pm
It's very interesting, and under normal circumstance, rather gratifying that you have sketched out EXACTLY the same time line and schedule for the coming collapse as I have. I personally don't think one can afford to hedge against it looming over the near horizon.
11/7/2017 02:01:25 pm
Nice work - keep it coming.
11/14/2017 04:59:55 pm
Excellent post. I have come to similar conclusions on a similar time line after researching this topic for hundreds of hours. I second the commenter above. Keep em coming!
11/23/2017 01:02:09 pm
The world has been ending for so long I've given up on caring about the why, the reasons keep changing, and what collapse is even supposed to be keeps changing. So stay flexible, imitate the Amish as best you can, and let others worry about the cost of fuels or model results proclaiming the end (be they from Malthus, Jevons, or black box building academics), and smokim while you gottim!
11/27/2017 02:23:00 am
If you want to see how services are going to decline then look at what happened in Yemen when something as necessary as water became scarce.
1/28/2018 07:41:40 am
I think the big question is when conventional production falls off the "bumpy plateau". Once the decline rates start accelerating, no amount of financial chicanery or shale oil is going to prop things up. I'm expecting (based on everything I've heard) decline rates of 4-7% per year. Call it 3 - 6 million barrels a day decline per year, conservatively. That means adding the entirety of US shale production every year from then until kingdom come.
4/3/2019 01:41:42 pm
Just as an update, Saudi Arabia released information yesterday stating the maximum production rate from Ghawar is now 3.8 mbd This is down 25% from what they claimed back in 2004/2005. Very possible the Saudis are coming off the bumpy plateau. Hold on to your hats!
5/23/2018 10:43:25 am
1970 firts oil crisis...1989-1991 Down BerlinWall-COMECON-URRS, 1991 Irak destruction, 2001 you now....
11/18/2018 08:18:31 am
10/17/2020 07:20:57 pm
Hello from the last quarter of the year 2020. Man this year sucks and as you wrote 3 years ago we are right in schedule as we witness global civilization firmly within the grasp of collapse.
3/9/2021 12:41:13 pm
How right you were!
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Prepping Priorities - Physical & Psychological
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Interview with Derrick Jensen
2020: A Marker For Collapse
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Thermodynamic Failure: Phase 2
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Explaining Peak Oil
The Significance of Renewables
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It's Not About Running Out of Oil