James Howard Kuntsler

On TV: Prophets Of Doom

Last month, a show aired on the History Channel called Prophets of Doom. From the History Channel website:

Today’s world has troubles unique to its time in history, from the global financial crisis to technological meltdowns to full scale, computerized global war.

Observing the convergence of such events, contemporary prophets have begun to emerge from obscurity to suggest that these conditions might be signs of the demise of the modern world. These men are historians as well, using all manner of information and patterns from the past to provide context for where we are going. Their predictions interpret the current state of affairs in our world as evidence that the America we know may come to an end. The men proposing these ideas are not crackpots living on the streets of New York; they are intelligent, learned men who come armed with the evidence to back up their claims.

In the 94 minute show, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, economist Dr. Nathan Hagens, author John Cronin, investigative journalist/author James Howard Kuntsler, computer scientist Dr. Hugo De Garis, and executive editor Robert Gleason came together to discuss some of the greatest threats to the future of the United States, including economic collapse, water shortages/contamination, peak oil, species dominance by self-aware robots, and nuclear terrorism. The following are some of the points argued during the program:

Michael Ruppert

• Unsustainable population growth coincided with the discovery of oil
• Despite finite resources, the U.S. population continues to increase
• The population will crash with the arrival of peak oil

Dr. Nathan Hagens

• The United States is insolvent and its debts will come home to roost
• The global economy is one giant Ponzi scheme and can no longer continue to grow
• The economy will crash as natural resources run out and alternatives fail to come online in time
• Americans suffer from cognitive dissonance, “when our brains don’t want to acknowledge the gravity or seriousness of a situation”
• The greatest threat to the United States today is the coming financial reckoning

John Cronin

• The United States is a “water economy”
• The quantity and quality of fresh water is in danger here and around the globe
• Waste dumped by sewage treatment plants into bodies of water not only contaminate drinking water with bacteria and viruses but also with exotic chemicals that the plants weren’t designed to remove, like pharmaceuticals
• Technology is needed to measure what’s in our water at any moment
• A shortage of fresh water is the most pressing threat to the United States

James Howard Kuntsler

• Peak oil has arrived
• America will experience a devastating energy crisis in the 21st century
• A 2005 energy study, known as the Hirsch Report, concluded that the United States is facing an imminent energy crunch, and was subsequently buried
• Major complex systems essential to daily life will unravel in such a scenario

Dr. Hugo De Garis

• Develops artificial intelligence- a “professional brain builder”
• His field predicts robots, which could soon be widely-available to consumers, will develop self-awareness by the 2040s
• When this happens, robots will achieve “the singularity,” where they can begin to think and act separate from human control
• However, this could lead to species dominance, where the robots might see humans as nothing more than pests- and seek to exterminate them

Robert Gleason

• Nuclear terrorism directed against the United States is a credible threat
• Terrorists might unleash an “American Hiroshima,” where nuclear devices are detonated in several U.S. cities to incapacitate the nation

After each “prophet” made their points, they discussed which threats to the United States seemed to be most pressing. Cronin, De Garis, and Gleason decided that water shortages/contamination was the greatest danger. Hagens chose a financial reckoning day. Ruppert also indicated an economic collapse- due to resource shortages. Kunstler argued that the major threats couldn’t be ranked as they comprised “several competing fiascos.” The narrator announced that the group had highlighted a debt-based society and water issues as the biggest problems America faces down the road.

While noting that America is not psychologically-prepared for the problems it faces, each “prophet” went on to offer their prescriptions for dealing with the threats. A common theme was the focus on re-localization. They also realized that time would be a precious commodity. While no one claimed the end of the world was at hand, they did recognize that we had reached the end of a particular phase in American history. Americans, they decided, would have to become more self-sufficient in order to successfully weather the challenges ahead.

Interesting show, smart bunch of guys- highly-recommended. Don’t worry if you don’t have the History Channel, as the entire program has been uploaded on YouTube here.

(Editor’s note: Link placed on “Resources” page and SPTV)

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