Critical Acclaim Greets TRIBULATION, a novel of the coming crash

Front CoverCritics across the country are heaping praise on Tribulation: A Novel of the Near Future by Thomas A. Lewis, editor of The Daily Impact and author of the 2009 book Brace for Impact: Surviving the Crash of the Industrial Age. The novel picks up on one of the scenarios of collapse laid out in Brace for Impact, and imagines how it might play out. Kirkus Reviews calls it “A riveting, somewhat terrifying work of political speculative fiction…a thorough takedown of corporate statehood, blind wastefulness and human greed.”

Lewis says he was inspired to write the novel by a TED talk he heard broadcast a few years ago in which a storyteller made the point that humans are not wired to enjoy or retain facts, but they remember as good story forever. He thought it might be useful to array the arguments for impending collapse, as laid out in Brace for Impact, in a story telling how the crash might affect a family, and how they might react to it.

The story begins with Brian Trent calling his retired father, one day in the near future, to say, “We’re going to the Farm,” William reacts with alarm. Because Brian, a top reporter for The Washington Post, is really saying that he believes the country’s economy is about to crash, and he and his family are heading for a sanctuary they’ve prepared in the mountains of West Virginia. William does not believe that America could come apart…until he sees it start to happen, with unbelievable speed, the very next day. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Stories

Dropped your sandwich? As long as you pick it up in five seconds, go ahead and eat it. That’s what science says. (Photo by pixabay.com/p-298762)

Dropped your sandwich? As long as you pick it up in five seconds, go ahead and eat it. That’s what science says. (Photo by pixabay.com/p-298762)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of information, it was the age of ignorance. The emergence last week of two news stories, and the story of how they did or did not flourish, casts harsh light on the state of journalism and our democratic republic. One story was funded by NASA, conducted with rigorous standards of research, reviewed by peer scientists and published in a legitimate scientific journal. Its subject was the end of the world as we know it. The other was tossed off by a handful of students in a science class, observed few scientific standards, was reviewed by no one and published nowhere in the academic press. It was about dropping food on the floor. So you guess: Which one went viral around the world, generated tons of newsprint and oceans of comment in every medium of communication; and which one was virtually ignored except when it was attacked as misleading? Continue reading

Duke Energy’s Coup d’Etat in North Carolina

Duke Energy workers, apparently still under the impression that they are above the law, pump toxic coal ash residue into North Carolina's Cape Fear River. (Photo by the Waterkeeper Alliance)

Duke Energy workers, apparently still under the impression that they are above the law, pump toxic coal ash residue into North Carolina’s Cape Fear River. (Photo by the Waterkeeper Alliance)

You will encounter frequent references here to industry’s wholly-owned and -operated Congress, or state legislature, or government agency. Usually, some irony is intended. But in North Carolina, irony is extinct; the state government is wholly owned and operated by Duke Energy. It is still true that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but it is no longer true that the citizens of this Republic give a tinker’s dam about corruption as long as the lights are on, the gas is cheap and there’s football on Saturday. Yet evil is so stupid, the power-mad are so given to wretched excess, that having won everything, they are capable of losing everything, because they cannot rest from destruction. Continue reading

Billions of Shellfish Die as Ocean Turns to Acid

Ocean acidification is taking a heavy toll on the world's shellfish, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

Ocean acidification is taking a heavy toll on the world’s shellfish, especially in the Pacific Northwest.

Climate change is not the only threat posed by the exploitation and pollution of the natural world, it is not even necessarily the one that’s going to bring the industrial world down. Many afflictions are competing for that distinction, and one of them — ocean acidification — has a good shot. The waters of the Pacific Northwest off Washington State and the Canadian province of British Columbia have become so acidic that the once-thriving shellfish industry there is on life support. Since nothing whatsoever is being done about the root cause of the problem — emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels — it is not reasonable to expect a solution. Continue reading

NASA Study: Irreversible Collapse Likely

Mayan ruins

The sudden crash of a wealthy, technologically advanced civilization is not rare in history. Can you say Mayan? (Photo by amber.kennedy/Flickr)

A major, multi-disciplinary study combining the perspectives of theoretical mathematics, natural and social sciences and — gasp! — history, among others, has concluded that a total, irreversible collapse of the world’s industrial civilization is both likely and imminent. The peer-reviewed study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Ecological Economics, confirms in detail the conclusions of my 2009 book Brace for Impact, the premises of The Daily Impact, and the scenario of my forthcoming novel Tribulation. Continue reading

Ukraine, etc: Pundits Fiddle While World Burns

Why would anyone go against well armed and armored riot police with a piece of pipe (as here, in Kiev, on December 1)? That is the question. (Wikipedia photo)

Why would anyone go against well armed and armored riot police with a piece of pipe (as here, in Kiev, on December 1)? That is the question. (Wikipedia photo)

Since the Ukraine crisis bloomed into violence three months ago, reporters and analysts have floundered to tuck the bloody, explosive events into a nice narrative we can all be comfortable with. It’s a tug-of-war, we’ve been told, between East and West, between Russia and Europe, between Putin and Obama. (How in the world did this turn out to be Obama’s fault, as well?) Or it’s a resumption of the Cold War, no, it’s a Hot Cold War, no, it’s Soviet Union II.

While they have been thus laboring, the members of the chattering class have been overwhelmed by similar, new rebellions in Venezuela, Thailand, Turkey, Bosnia and Iceland (Yes! Iceland, for crying out loud!) added to the still-simmering uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria, and the barely-under-control semi-rebellions bubbling in Iran, China, Pakistan, India and Argentina. Not hard to understand why beads of sweat are popping through the makeup of the pundits and politicians who are trying to maintain the not-to-worry, we’ve-seen-all-this-before attitude that will keep us from getting interested. Fact is, we’ve never seen anything like this before. Continue reading

Chinese Academy: Beijing Almost “Uninhabitable”

Beijing Uninhabitable

Pollution in Beijing last year, before it got really bad. (Photo by Pekka Tamminen/Flickr)

Unbridled air pollution has reached such concentrations in Beijing and six of China’s northern provinces that breathing and photosynthesis have become almost impossible. In addition, landing airplanes, driving cars, and seeing anything, have become extremely difficult in an epic smog concentration that has persisted for more than a week. According to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences — the second largest academic institution in the country — the capital city is virtually “uninhabitable for human beings.” Continue reading

Snowpocalypse Now? No? Maybe Later?

DC_Snowstorm_Feb_-_Flickr_-_Al_Jazeera_English_(3)

When snow comes to DC, the capital of the Free World falls to its knees. When snow is forecast, by anybody, likewise. (Photo by Al Jazeera)

Two weeks ago Monday, the first person in the door in the morning couldn’t wait to share: “Did you hear? We’re going to have a monster snowstorm this weekend. They say we should be prepared for power outages and blizzard conditions!” All day long, from the UPS driver to the grocery clerk, “Did you hear? They say…” As is my habit, I asked who “they” was. The furthest I could get into the terrible vagueness of being “they” was a couple of remarks about somebody somebody knew reading it somewhere on Facebook. Continue reading

Time Running Out for Egypt, Iran

Egyptian riot police whale on opponents of Mubarak, as they would later on those of Morsi, and now on opponents of the army generals, temporarily back in charge. The prognosis is not good. (Photo by Oxfamnovib/Flickr)

Egyptian riot police whale on opponents of Mubarak, as they would later on those of Morsi, and now on opponents of the army generals, temporarily back in charge. The prognosis is not good. (Photo by Oxfamnovib/Flickr)

Never forget that where you see rebellion, it arises from terrible privation and loss of hope. Nor forget that where you see privation and despair, you will soon see rebellion. It does not matter whether Egypt is governed by the army or the Muslim Brotherhood, by a dictator or a democrat; what matters is that the Egyptian people cannot get enough food, water or fuel. It does not matter whether Iran is governed by a cleric, a moderate or a Southern Baptist; if the people do not have enough food, water or electricity, the government will fall. And that won’t solve the problems. Continue reading

Top-Tier Financiers Jumping from Buildings: Should We Be Worried?

The Buck Stops Here: diagram of the last journey of J.P. Morgan VP Gabriel Magee.

The Buck Stops Here: diagram of the last journey of J.P. Morgan VP Gabriel Magee.

Four top-level financial analysts and managers apparently committed suicide last week. The dead include an investment economist in Washington State, a former Deutsche Bank executive in London, a Tata Motors executive in Bangkok and a J.P. Morgan employee in London. These events have not yet been conclusively connected. However, like the elevated suicide rates among farmers in India and US military veterans, these folks might be canaries, and their deaths might signify far more than individual misfortunes. Continue reading