Is it the future yet?
Something tells me, maybe, yes?
It must be hard to tell for those who had expected to live the Jetsons' life. Where are my domestic robots? Where is my flying car? But I don't think we'll be getting flying cars. Not us.
After a lull of, say, 30 years or so, things are suddenly coming at us too fast to process. Though processing, at this stage, should be nearly superfluous. We should recognize what is coming if we recall, say, 30 years ago, having heard such words as, "If present trends continue, in 30 years...."
If you care for a glimpse of your Future, Imperfect, read three Schiavo-free stories from the past few days:
Worries swelling over oil shortage
In the space of a couple of hours last week, crude oil prices hit a record $56 a barrel, President Bush fretted publicly over world oil shortages and the Senate voted to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to drilling.
When oil production stops rising to meet growing demand, it "will result in dramatically higher oil prices, which will cause protracted economic hardship in the United States and the world," a team of Energy Department consultants warned in a report last month.
"The challenge of oil peaking deserves immediate, serious attention if risks are to be fully understood and mitigation begun on a timely basis."
OPEC says it's lost control of oil prices
OPEC ministers meeting in Iran Wednesday will be grappling with a problem they haven’t confronted in the cartel’s 45-year history. In the past, OPEC tried to cool overheated prices by pumping more when supplies got too tight. But most OPEC producers say they’re already pumping as fast as they can. And despite the high cost of a barrel of crude, world demand shows no signs of slowing.
"OPEC has done all it can do.” Qatar Oil Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said. “This is out of the control of OPEC."
Oil could gush to $100
That's the view from analysts who may have considered that prospect a long shot just a few months ago. And to be sure, some still think that's a stretch from the current $55 level, short of a major disruption like a terrorist attack.
But momentum is gaining for a view that sees rising crude prices as more than a temporary spike due to speculation or terrorism fears. If that's true, New Yorkers can expect to be socked for items from gasoline and heating oil to rent and groceries.
"It [$100 oil] is totally realistic within a year or two," said Stephen Leeb, who tracks oil for his own investment firm.... "I don't think $100 is even a big deal," Leeb said. His long-term projection? Try $250 a barrel in six to nine years.
But wait: the price of a barrel of oil dipped below $55 dolars this week, so it can't be that bad. No; actually, it's worse. Because the price dropped on the strength of US crude inventories, not on account of global production, which is destined to only fall. And anything that keeps energy consumers from confronting their inevitable powerdown is a very bad thing indeed.
Canada increased its proven oil reseves by some 3,600 percent in 2003 by, for the first time, including the synthetic crude from Alberta's tar sands. Suddenly, Canada had 180 billion barrels of oil, the second largest on paper, after Saudi Arabia's own over-stated reserve. A good thing? No, and again, worsening a bad situation. Because the meaning of "cheap oil" is not principally found in the cost at the pump, but in the energy efficiency of the oil's extraction: the Energy Return on Invested Energy (EROIE). Cheap oil, at its cheapest, which we're well past, meant up to 100 times the energy returned on investment. In The Party's Over, Richard Heinberg quotes geologist Walter Youngquist on the tar sands, saying "it takes the equivalent of two out of each three barrels of oil recovered to pay for all the energy and other costs." Tar sands extraction, by any measure, is extremely costly, not least because extracting the oil requires massive amounts of fresh water. Within a few decades, we may find such a use for fresh water to be madly extravagant.
Peak Oil is real, and it's here, and it's bad. Mike Ruppert may say that's the end of the story. And he may be right. But I wonder if, just maybe, that's where it starts to get interesting. And I don't mean in a good way.
So, is that it, then?
If it is, then we ought to get to get acquainted with Easter Island.
"Love the Moai, dude, but where's the trees?"
Read The Lorax lately? That's the short history of Easter Island. To transport and erect their Moai - the huge figures carved from volcanic rock - the Polynesian Oncelers deforested their tiny, remote home of its palm trees, which held together the fragile soil and provided shelter for 25 species of nesting seabirds. They'd arrived on the island around 900 AD, and just 600 years later agriculture was failing, poultry was off the menu, cannibalism was introduced, and there was no wood left to build boats with which to escape. By 1872, the population had fallen to just 111, from approximately 20,000.
In this February interview, Linda Moulton Howe asks Dr Jared Diamond, author of Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, whether we face a global Easter Island event. He thinks the odds for catastrophe are auspicious:
DIAMOND: In the past, societies that had not many people and with rather simple technology still managed to destroy their environments. For example, Easter Island with maybe 20,000 people with just stone and wooden tools they did manage to deforest the island and so doing, they destroyed their society. It took them 850 years to do it. Today, though, (on the Earth), we don't have 20,000 people. We have 6.5 billion and we have bulldozers and nuclear power, so we're far more people and far more potent and destructive technology. We can destroy our environment much faster than the Easter Islanders. In fact, there are many parts of the world that have gotten de-forested within half a dozen years, or within a few decades. That's what makes our present situation serious.
HOWE: Why do you think that global warming and all of the potential consequences does not rise globally above politics and become a world priority to solve because it will affect everyone?
DIAMOND: It's a problem of what is called "creeping normalcy." It's not something that exploded like the Pinatubo Volcano in the Philippines, nor like September 11, 2001. Instead, the temperatures get a little warmer and then a little colder and then warmer and then colder. It's been gradually creeping along and there hasn't been a moment in which someone said, "My God, it's 10 degrees warmer this year. We've got to start doing something."
That's the reason why it has taken 30 years for essentially every knowledgeable climatologists to agree that global warming is a serious problem and that people are the cause of it. It's also why it's taken 30 years to get all, except the last two governments, to agree about its importance.
The "cheap oil" of the Easter Islanders was their wood. It made possible transportation and industry, and its disappearance had unexpected and dire consequences across the culture, and drove it to extinction. If that's all we have - if no powers have made provisions for what's to come next - then the lights are going out on global civilization.
Quite possible. And given what we have before our eyes much of the time, most probable. But I wonder about what's behind some eyes, and also about what we're permitted to see some of the time. And it's not wishful thinking.
"A science-fiction world"
In a July 2001 interview, Bob Dylan said "We are living in a science-fiction world where Disney and Disney's science-fiction have won. This is the real world. Science-fiction has become the real world, whether we realize it or not."
And, just maybe, that world is becoming Zardoz.
Remember? Zardoz is the name of the flying stone god of the 23rd Century "Exterminators," who believe themselves to be the rulers of the world. One of their number - Sean Connery, in a red leather thong - catches a ride in the big head, and discovers Zardoz is just a techno-magickal device of social control for the world's true masters, a somewhat Luciferian sect of elites called the "Eternals." ("Zardoz," of course, proves to be a corruption of The Wizard of Oz which, coincidentally, is frequently named by mind control survivors as a triggering device in Monarch programming.)
MSNBC made a case for the Zardoz scenario, with this report from last September:
"Flying Triangle" sightings on the rise
They have become legendary in UFO circles. Huge, silent-running "Flying Triangles" have been seen by ground observers creeping through the sky low and slow near cities, and quietly cruising over highways.
The National Institute for Discovery Science, or NIDS, has cataloged the Triangle sightings, sifting through and combining databases to take a hard look at the mystery craft. Based in Las Vegas, NIDS is a privately funded science institute with a strong research focusing on aerial phenomena. The results of their study have just been released, and lead to some unnerving, puzzling conclusions.
The study points out: "The United States is currently experiencing a wave of Flying Triangle sightings that may have intensified in the 1990s, especially towards the latter part of the 1990s. The wave continues. The Flying Triangles are being openly deployed over and near population centers, including in the vicinity of major interstate highways."
The NIDS study emphasizes that the flying of these vehicles may be more in harmony with an attempt to display or to be noticed. There appears to be little or no attempt to hide. That finding has led to a modification of an earlier NIDS hypothesis that the Triangles are covertly deployed Defense Department aircraft.
I know: "black triangles" could describe many conventional, or near conventional, aircraft developed by US defense contractors. But these triangles are different: huge; silent; capable of sudden changes in speed and direction; able to hover and accelerate at seemingly impossible velocities.
And as the NIDS study finds, rather than a shielded black ops project, the pattern of sightings is more suggestive of "an attempt to display or be noticed." Then there are the vivid, flashing lights which, after reading this witness, makes me wonder whether they are intended, at some point, to have a psychotropic effect:
….size of object based in part on the hugeness of the strobing “cop car gumball” banks of lights.... [It] looked like it was on a dreamy pleasure cruise…very quiet… just a low humming…and strobing bizarre red/clear/blue huge banks of lights. This thing was so psychedelic flashy, I couldn’t believe I was standing there alone watching it. I knew it was for real when I saw my dog looked up at it.
Another funny thing about these black triangles: even though they've been seen by tens of thousands, intercepted by air force fighters, tracked on radar, photographed and videotaped, it's intellectually suspect to mention them. So they are excised from the realm of things that might matter, and consigned to Fortean novelty. "Black triangles" have become the "black helicopters" shorthand for the au courant debunker of the "paranoid style." Never mind that both are real.
From a Las Vegas television news report on "Top Secret Black Triangles":
[T]he airspace over Belgium was repeatedly violated by huge unidentified black triangles. Ten thousand witnesses saw them. Several were photographed. The Belgian Air Force dispatched F-16s to intercept and destroy the unknown intruders, but the triangles performed maneuvers that seem virtually impossible.
Dr. Colm Kelleher said, "They launched on several occasions top of the line military aircraft against these things and they were left in the dust. One minute they're overhead, and the next they're over the horizon."
Black triangle over Belgium, 1989
Here is a good resource for the remarkable 1989-1990 triangle "flap" over Belgium, and here is an account of how it started:
[T]he Belgian flap began in November of 1989. The events of November 29 would be documented by no less than thirty different groups of witnesses, and three separate groups of police officers. All of the reports related a large object flying at low altitude. The craft was of a flat, triangular shape, with lights underneath. This giant craft made not a sound as it slowly, fearlessly, moved across the landscape of Belgium. There was free sharing of information as the Belgian populace tracked this craft as it moved from the town of Liege to the border of the Netherlands and Germany. Two F-16s were ordered to intercept and identify this phenomena, and one of the jet's radars locked the object in. It appeared as a small diamond on the pilot's screen. The pilot reported that only a few seconds after locking on the target, the object began to pick up speed, quickly moving out of radar range. An hour-long chase ensued, during which time the F-16s picked up the strange craft's signal two additional times, only to see it fade from view. The triangular craft seemed to be playing a cat and mouse game, and finally was lost in the night lights of Brussels. The pilots of the fighters reported that the UFO had made maneuvers at speeds beyond the capability of their technology, and once the radar showed the craft almost instantly drop from 10,000 to 500 feet in 5 seconds.
Analysis of Belgian radar data from a March 30, 1990 sighting can be found on this page, and below is a graph of the triangle's performance. Altitude in thousands of feet is measured on the left, Heading (degrees) and speed (knots) on the right, and elapsed seconds on the bottom. The red line is altitude, the green heading, and the blue speed.
Here's an account from 1996 of six British troopers encountering a black triangle while on night moves. ("It really did my head in") For what it's worth, under hypnosis, a soldier recalled American forces acting in concert with it. ("Tell me what you can see now, Mark." "A Yank...") And reportedly, according to a "top BBC executive," British media has been silenced with a "D-Notice" on the subject of Black Triangles:
The executive, who cannot be named, is the former producer of a very popular BBC science programme. He told one of our team that the black triangle "craft", first witnessed by hundreds in the Hudson Valley region of the United States [(mid-1980's), then by thousands in Belgium (1989-90) and more in Britain], has been "heavily D-Noticed" by the Government. For this reason the BBC will not be reporting on the enigmatic craft, no matter how many witness reports they receive.
According to the former science programme producer, the reason the Government has seen fit to slap a restrictive notice on reporting of the Triangle is because -so far as the Government has secretly informed the BBC- the craft is part of a new secret military project, and as such must be protected under the secrecy laws.
If this is the case, however, it surely begs the question: If the so called Black Triangle is a secrety military aircraft, then what is it doing hovering over residential areas and frightening people half to death? Something somewhere simply does not add up.
Another apparent "triangle" is the famous "Phoenix Lights" (which, despite the name, was viewed on a nearly 500 km course from Arizona to Nevada March 13, 1997). The lights were not discreet UFOs in formation, but arrays of lights about the edges of a single, black, wedge-shaped craft. Witnesses could discern the shape of a massive black craft as it occluded the stars overhead.
The "Phoenix Lights"
Six points regarding the Phoenix Lights from a press release of the National UFO Reporting Center, prepared by Peter B. Davenport:
1. Perhaps thousands, or tens of thousands, of witnesses on the ground witnessed at least one object pass and/or hover overhead which they described as being huge, gigantic, or unimaginably large. Many of the witnesses reported that they had the impression that a Boeing 747 could land on the back of the object they had just witnessed pass overhead their location.
2. Most witnesses described the object as being generally triangular in shape, with anywhere from five, to "many, innumerable," lights on the leading edge of the object. Some observers reported that the pattern of lights consisted of three lights clustered near the "nose" of the object, with one light on each of the trailing tips of the triangle. Other individuals reported an object that appeared to have seven large lights equally spaced along its leading edge.
3. The object apparently was capable of very rapid flight, probably even supersonic flight, although few witnesses reported any sound emanating from it. The object was reported heading generally to the southeast over Henderson, NV, at 1855 hrs. (Pacific), and was next reported heading to the south in the vicinity of Paulden, AZ, approximately 22 minutes later at 2017 hrs. (Mountain). Within approximately one minute of the sighting in Paulden, the object was reported from the vicinity of Prescott Valley, AZ, roughly 30 miles to the south. The object then appeared over Phoenix, where it is reported to have hovered for 4-5 minutes in the vicinity of the intersection of Indian School Road and 7th Avenue.
4. The object passed through the airspace of Sky Harbor Airport, where it was witnessed by air traffic controllers in the airport tower, and where it also was reported via radio by at least one commercial flight crew. They reported via radio that the object was passing directly overhead their aircraft, which was on the ground preparing to depart Sky Harbor. The object reportedly did not appear on radar, and it did not communicate via either radio or transponder.
5. From the Phoenix area, the object reportedly proceeded generally south toward South Mountain, continuing southeast toward Tucson, AZ, along Interstate 10. One family, driving northwest toward Phoenix on Interstate 10 near Casa Grande, AZ, reported that the object remained above them for an estimated 1- 2 minutes while they were driving at approximately 80 miles per hour. The object was so large above them that the family's two children in the back seat of their station wagon simultaneously could see the opposite "wing tips" of the object out both the left and right passenger windows.
6. The National UFO Reporting Center received a telephone call approximately seven hours after the incident from a person who identified himself as an airman stationed at Luke Air Force Base, located 20 miles to the west of Phoenix. The individual reported that the U. S. Air Force had launched two F-15c fighter aircraft from Luke AFB, and that one of the aircraft had "intercepted" a gigantic object over the intersection of Indian School Road and 7th Avenue. It was also reported by this individual that the onboard radar of the intercepting fighter had suddenly gone to a condition of "white noise," and that the lights on the anomalous object simultaneously had suddenly dimmed in unison and disappeared from the pilot's sight.
Eye in the sky?
So what'll it be: Easter Island, or Zardoz? Either way, a Dark Age, though the former comes without the sham sky-god of techno-magickal social controllers. So maybe we should hope for Easter Island. Maybe we should reconsign the black triangles to the realm of Fortean novelty, where they can exist, sort of, but not matter. Maybe that would be a less dark prospect, and we can try to squirrel away some wood while we can, to maybe carry us to another island someday.
To a practitioner of ritual magic, the triangle "is the area in which the spirit appears and is compelled to obedience," writes Lon Milo DuQuette in The Illustrated Goetia of Aleister Crowley. "The almost infinite metaphysical virtues of a triangle make it a perfect device to confine and control that which has never been confined and controlled by you."
Should we survive what we'll need to survive, we may be alive to see either the end of our Moai culture, or the beginning of something worse, if our Immortals have been preparing, covertly, for a post-carbon world after all. But unless we start shouting now, and do more than shout, I doubt we'll have much say in the matter.
Be seeing you?
By the way, a couple of updates:
Remember Giuliana Sgrena's car? US military command in Iraq is barring Italian police from examining it.
Remember that mysterious fibrous disease? Here's an unsettling new take.