A world full of tilted dominoes

So in the very first post on this blog we talked about how we find ourselves in the middle of a slow-motion shambling apocalypse. There are really three types of apocalyptic decline, the shambling, the disaster kick-off, think asteroid colliding with Earth, or the tumbling domino apocalypse. The crazy thing of course is being in the shambling doesn’t preclude either of the others from happening.

And while there is no evidence that at the moment we are facing an imminent disaster style apocalyptic kick off, it is really starting to feel like COVID might have kicked off the dominoes, or that at the very least, they are leaning hard right now.

The global COVID pandemic has now killed over 700,000 people in America, and over 4.5 million people worldwide. And the pandemic isn’t over, although the US spike is declining, there are still well over 1000 deaths a day. Given the lack of vaccination availability in many developing countries, we have not seen the end of global spikes, nor likely, the emergence of new, dangerous variants.

One of things the pandemic spikes and governmental reactions have caused are major disruptions in the global economic supply chain. Countries have gone from lock downed nervous populations, to populations feeling safer and a quick ramping up of demand for products. Companies trying to fill the gaps, dealing with lack of employees, meeting capacity by switching product lines and market uncertainties have created disruptions in the global economic supply chain.

One of the things I’ve always noticed when I’ve traveled internationally, particularly in developing countries, is the image of empty shelves. When living overseas, one difference I noted is that in the US, I can always get what I want, almost always even the brand and size I want. That is no longer the case, just last night I couldn’t find egg noodles, until I went over the Kosher aisle and got the last bag from that section. More evidence dominoes are falling.

These issues are causing unexpected product shortages for consumers. Worse, it’s creating an environment ripe for rumors causing hoarding and panic behavior. Recently there have been massive lines at stations and gasoline shortages in the UK sparked by rumors there was a shortage of gasoline. There was a shortage of truck drivers, but had people not started hoarding and panic buying, that shortage wouldn’t have caused the type of shortages we saw.

The Evergrande crash has sent ripples through the international money markets. This Chinese company has over $300 Billion in debt, if it defaults, contagion across international real estate and financial systems is inevitable.

Political polarization in the US hit a crescendo on January 6th as Trump supporters spurred on by his comments and conspiracy theories led to people storming the capital, threatening the lives of lawmakers, and causing the death of a law enforcement officer as well as one civilian.

Vaccine inequity globally is a looming problem, while developed countries like the US and Canada as well as the countries of Western Europe are increasing vaccination rates, much of the developing world has had little to no access to vaccines. Vaccine rates in the developing world are often at the level of single digits with a global average of 1.1% in these countries. This means more dying but also more bodies for the virus to infect and possibly mutate in. One mutation that can defeat the current immunity created by the vaccines and we’re right back to March 2020 albeit in a much more fragile global system.

Idiocracy is a documentary! This has become a common meme lately but the base premise of a world that continually takes the easy way out at every possible choice until the whole world is too stupid to function, doesn’t seem farfetched anymore. We are continually more and more dependent on automated computerized systems, AI continues to get smarter. This alone isn’t a problem, but it seems more and more people are dismissing the very science behind everything that automates their lives. Superstition and conspiracy theory, paired with media outlets and social media all to willing to support crazy ideas continues to magnify the problem. While we’re not quite to the point of irrigating our fields with Gatorade yet, it absolutely feels like we’re on that path.

Global Climate Change, ok this one is such an easy one it’s almost not worth mentioning. Climate change issues, like pandemic issues are intensifiers. They exacerbate the problems that already exist. Increasing storm intensities and financial impacts, service disruptions, increasing wildfires, droughts and floods are all increasing. Disease spread and climate migration is also going to be a problem on the increase as global temperatures rise. Rising sea levels also bring an entire suite of additional problems.

It’s time to face facts, we’re living in the apocalypse, the slow motion shambling apocalypse. Under normal circumstances the world has a resiliency reserve, but global climate change continues to chip away at that reserve. And the pandemic has also taken a chunk out of that reserve as well. So as this reserve gets thinner, the likelihood that any of the dominoes could start a speedier collapse grows higher. Let’s be clear, the apocalypse (the degradation of society and civilization as we know it) is happening, the question now is only the rate at which it happens and how prepared you and your family are for the changes.