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Author Topic: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest  (Read 3103 times)

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Offline The OverlordTopic starter

WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« on: February 08, 2009, 08:03:12 AM »

Well, here's a fine how do you do...we got at least one poster here that thinks the wheels are falling off the good old US of A, but one wonders if that's only part of a larger picture. What creeps me out here is the potential war(s) something like this might spark, being as we all know where the world was when the 1930's ended.



http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090207/bs_afp/financeeconomygermanytradewto_20090207141558



Quote
BERLIN (AFP) Ė The global economic crisis could trigger political unrest equal to that seen during the 1930s, the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) said in a German newspaper interview Saturday.

"The crisis today is spreading even faster (than the Great Depression) and affects more countries at the same time," Pascal Lamy told the Die Welt newspaper.

Questioned about the risks of political instability, Lamy -- who wraps up his four-year term as WTO director-general in September -- responded that that was "the main danger".

"This crisis weighs heavily on politics and puts peace in danger," he said.

"Some democracies are old and sufficiently stable to overcome such problems, (but) others are going to be confronted by unrest and inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflicts."

He went on to warn against protectionism, saying it would be "wrongly easy" for nations to throw up trade barriers in response to the economic and financial downturn.

Launched in January 1995, and now with 153 member states, the WTO's mandate is to liberalise international trade.

« Last Edit: February 08, 2009, 08:05:35 AM by The Overlord »

Online Lithos

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2009, 08:50:25 AM »
Well, all the signs and portents are there, world population is growing too fast, economy is falling and technological developement is showing signs of needing some new innovation. World seems to be in need of WW3, it will be interesting to see if it will survive it anyhow. I think that is something that we will see on our lifetime still though, if so, we will at least be alive and probably die during something remarkable.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2009, 09:12:16 AM »
We already have wars occurring.  Two of them, though the one in Georgia by Russia during the Olympics has been downplayed in America in favor of the one in Iraq and Iran. 

They may not be major wars in most cases, but they ARE conflicts that can turn into much more serious problems with very little effort.  They aren't stimulating the economy; they're a waste of valuable resources and an expenditure of money no one can afford. 

The new technologies have already been expanded upon and weaponized....they were tested in the Gulf War.

Besides, we have 4 years before the end of the world according to the Aztecs.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2009, 04:48:16 PM »
At least in the U.S., our standard of living peaked around 1970, when you consider how many hours the average worker had to labor to buy food, housing, health care, and transportation.

To quote a saying I read over at lifeaftertheoilcrash.net, the future is already here, it's just not widely distributed yet.

We're already seeing riots in several countries most would consider First World: Britain, Greece, and France.

What we're seeing is the flip side of globalization: it spreads disaster as well as prosperity.  Iceland was a perfect example of that: an economy thrown into the crapper for entirely external reasons.  Ireland is close behind.

But what most people don't realize is we are unlikely to see a true "recovery" soon, if ever.  As the oil price spike last year showed, the growth of civilization has now firmly butted up against the constraints of natural resource finity.  And oil production is, in fact, declining.  So it stands to reason that even if somehow the economy "recovers," as soon as industrial production and energy consumption reach the level they were at in 2007, oil prices will surge off the charts and we'll be right back in another recession.


Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2009, 05:27:41 PM »
Well, all the signs and portents are there, world population is growing too fast, economy is falling and technological developement is showing signs of needing some new innovation. World seems to be in need of WW3, it will be interesting to see if it will survive it anyhow. I think that is something that we will see on our lifetime still though, if so, we will at least be alive and probably die during something remarkable.

Sadly all the pieces seem to be on the board. By military standards I'm an old man, the age group they don't start drafting until they run out of guys in their teens and twenties. Dying for your country to defend it is one thing, dying because of basic human stupidity and greed isn't on my list. I won't be a pawn in the global shitstorm that might be going down. If it happens, I'll be digging in on my own property making sure nobody gets what I have.

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Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2009, 08:14:09 PM »
But what most people don't realize is we are unlikely to see a true "recovery" soon, if ever.  As the oil price spike last year showed, the growth of civilization has now firmly butted up against the constraints of natural resource finity.  And oil production is, in fact, declining.  So it stands to reason that even if somehow the economy "recovers," as soon as industrial production and energy consumption reach the level they were at in 2007, oil prices will surge off the charts and we'll be right back in another recession.

*shakes head* I don't buy it. The spiking oil prices were because of what people thought would happen... and the gas prices have since fallen as a symptom of a sick economy; they may have contributed to it, but they didn't drive it.

What goes up must come down in economic as well as physics, but it doesn't tend to stay down forever.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2009, 08:50:05 PM »
*shakes head* I don't buy it. The spiking oil prices were because of what people thought would happen... and the gas prices have since fallen as a symptom of a sick economy; they may have contributed to it, but they didn't drive it.

What goes up must come down in economic as well as physics, but it doesn't tend to stay down forever.

Some of the 2008 surge could be attributed to speculation and market psychology...but only some.

The wolf really is at the door.

Case in point: Mexico.  Oil production in Mexico (the third-largest supplier of the United States, by the way) is plunging. 
http://www.hubbertpeak.com/MX/Cantarell.htm

So, we just turn around and buy oil from someone else, right?  Problem is, the supply of "someone elses" is dwindling.  Indonesia, for instance, went from being a net exporter of oil to a net importer: http://www.energybulletin.net/node/5320

How about the North Sea?  Depletion has set in there, too:
http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11707772

And the Big Picture shows a resource that is being used far more rapidly than new supplies are being discovered, as this chart showing the net gap between discoveries and use shows:


Now, before someone accuses me of being a total Doomer, let me emphasize that I'm not saying we're going to run out of oil tomorrow, next week, next year, or even next decade.  Even in 2050, commercially significant quantities of crude oil will still be available.  The problem is that we are running out of cheap oil, and our civilization requires cheap oil in large amounts to function.  What's going to happen between now and 2015 is that we're going to go from abundant, cheap oil, to at least moderately scarce, expensive oil.  Civilization as it exists today, cannot survive on scarce, expensive oil.

And no, I'm not saying we're all going to die, or humanity is going to become extinct.  What I am saying is that the way we live is about to undergo some very radical, indeed, downright painful changes.  If I could sum up in one sentence what the 2010s are going to entail, it would be "the death (or at least drastic downsizing) of Big Everything."  Those human institutions and endeavors that rely on the cheap transport of large numbers of people and goods across long distances, and the use of prodigious amounts of energy, are going to find themselves literally starved.  Civil aviation is going to be among the first institutions to fold (it was about six months from death last year when oil hit $147 a barrel, and it still hasn't fully recovered).  (If you have any dreams of flying around the world, I would suggest doing so sooner rather than later, as later may well not be an option.)


Offline Zeitgeist

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2009, 11:43:12 PM »
I tell ya, that feeling of Hopeģ sure did last long huh?

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2009, 01:20:39 AM »
We have the tech to support oil-less systems; even plastics are being designed that do not require a petroleum base. 

The problem is such technology is kept carefully controlled so that maximum financial gain applies to the holders of the technologies. 

How the world would marvel at a company with enlightened self interest at it's core....and how short would be that company's lifespan.

Online Lithos

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2009, 02:24:34 AM »
Mostly what is happening with oil and alternatives is only speculation, those secrets are well kept for the most part. But it is not really that hard equation to figure what is _probably_ happening. If we see the setup a bit:

1. There are number of extremely wealthy companies making their profit solely out of oil and products directly derived from it
2. From the start these companies have known that they are dealing with limited resource
3. For this reason, they most likely monitor situation about possible competing energy sources / technologies very closely

Now, this might not be the case of course, but logically speaking, anyone running such large scale company would most likely be VERY interested in buying any and all possible innovation and technology about alternative energy sources and resource saving technology. In that way, they could maximise the profit from oil as long as there is some left (I mean, left as in left in places where it can be recovered from at sane price). Then when it runs out, you are controlling the alternative sources allready, can lift the lid you held over them, and can start turning in profits for sales of that technology and products.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 02:26:53 AM by Lithos »

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2009, 09:46:03 PM »
As far as alternative energy, the hobgoblin of all these sources is scalability.  Ethanol is a classic example.  Fine for niche uses, but not nearly scalable enough to replace petroleum.

For more, Google and Wiki "energy density,"  There you'll see just how many joules of energy there are in a barrel of oil, and how the only viable sources of energy robust enough to run our civilization at anything near its current level after the end of oil are uranium and fusion of hydrogen or helium.  Cow farts, ethanol, algae and whatnot simply won't suffice.

Online Lithos

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2009, 02:26:27 AM »
As far as alternative energy, the hobgoblin of all these sources is scalability.  Ethanol is a classic example.  Fine for niche uses, but not nearly scalable enough to replace petroleum.

For more, Google and Wiki "energy density,"  There you'll see just how many joules of energy there are in a barrel of oil, and how the only viable sources of energy robust enough to run our civilization at anything near its current level after the end of oil are uranium and fusion of hydrogen or helium.  Cow farts, ethanol, algae and whatnot simply won't suffice.

That is twofold thing though, see, we have not had really _need_ to limit our energy  usage yet. Pathetically small amount of research has been put to how to get things done with minimal amount of energy needed so far. There are still ton of cars that take huge amount of energy, buildings that are built so that they take more energy than necessary to be kept warm and lit, all manner of electrical appliances that use a lot more energy than they should (ranging from consumer electronics to industrial robots).

Think about personal computers for instance, we have the technology to build processors that are so energy efficient and produce so little heat that they do not even need cooling other than surface of the chip, yet here we are with monsters that waste so much energy that we need huge and impractical cooling systems, with many times the processing power anyone needs in home computer. There are also many industrial robots that are not energy optimised, and energy economy of military hardware is even worse.

Alternative energy sources alone do not solve our problems, we need to also stop wasting energy like idiots. After getting used to just wasting away for past 100 years though, that might be tricky. There are some alternatives that are petro chemistry products as well, such as bio diesel that is made from plants. The problem is that to produce amounts for such huge usage we have today, we would starve cause we would need to push our food to creating fuel instead. (this is also happening to some extent in some places, where people rather sell their crops to energy production cause it pays better money than using it for making food, even if the country has starvation as a problem.)

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2009, 04:44:49 AM »

The one thing here that's the root of all evil is the human factor, but the flipside of the human factor is also the one thing here that you doomsayers don't want to ever, ever rule out.

Grim necessity ever being the mother of invention, I have only to point to the last great technological renaissance; that being the technology explosion forced in by WWII, which we still owe our modern everyday existence.

Yes, the wolf may indeed be at our door, but by some estimates, we're also at the knee of the technological curve. This is the point where technology starts kicking in almost exponentially and a lot of the stuff we saw as kids about what the world of tomorrow will look like is going to start happening sooner than most of you think.

Here's a very interesting angle on where we're going to be getting our energy needs down the road, that I havenít heard anyone here discuss.



[youtube=425,344][/youtube]


http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/library/nsso.htm




Offline Dizzied

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2009, 06:39:09 AM »
I feel a need to point out that half of this problem is caused by the government itself.  If the American gov't didn't subsidize gasoline and oil products the way the currently do, oil consumption in the US would be significantly less.  More importantly, there would be more demand for alternate energy forms, which means that the private sector would probably be developing something efficient and useful. (If it hadn't already.)


Offline Zakharra

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2009, 09:20:37 AM »
Quote
Here's a very interesting angle on where we're going to be getting our energy needs down the road, that I havenít heard anyone here discuss.

 I've mentioned solar fields in space in other threads, using microwave beams to send the power down to Earth. Unless we ramp up use of rockets and/or get better more reliable shuttles into use, it's at least 15-20 years off before the first (small) one is built.
 

Offline consortium11

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2009, 10:18:51 AM »
To be fair on the issue it's still relatively unclear if or when we have/will hit peak oil. Oil is probably the most politicised of commodoties and as such the fluctuating price isn't as tied down by simple supply as it is with less controversial items (I.e. gold etc). Over the last few years events such as unrest in the middle east, notably the threat of war with Iran (whose obvious two counter moves are to close the Strait of Hormuz, which has a third of the world's oil flow through it and is narrow enough that fairly rudimentary rockets on one side could hit shipping on the far bank, and a more generalised assault on oil fields across the region) and attacks on pipelines in general, as well as Venezuela's nationalisation of the Orinoco Belt (one of, if not the biggest oil field in the world even by conservative estimates, and barely touched), although it's a more complex oil to process.

Technology has also moved fairly quickly already, even without an instant threat. While still relatively impratical, electric cars like the Tesla have shown that you can get top notch performance out of an electric car (although you'd need about 5 to actually guarentee any of them were charged when you wanted to drive it... which is a hefty price tag to attach) and while controversial, cars like the FCX Clarity are a production model using a hydrogen fuel cell that get equal performance as a similar petrol driven car, may well be cheaper to run (especially in the long term) and look relatively practical.

Offline Mathim

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2009, 12:39:22 PM »
Sadly all the pieces seem to be on the board. By military standards I'm an old man, the age group they don't start drafting until they run out of guys in their teens and twenties. Dying for your country to defend it is one thing, dying because of basic human stupidity and greed isn't on my list. I won't be a pawn in the global shitstorm that might be going down. If it happens, I'll be digging in on my own property making sure nobody gets what I have.

That's my plan, when I hole up with my ex-military sniper friend. Hopefully only the more enlightened folks will end up surviving after a decade of chaos if we don't end up doing what that little animated youtube video titled "The End of the World" portrays.

Offline Zakharra

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2009, 03:49:42 PM »
That's my plan, when I hole up with my ex-military sniper friend. Hopefully only the more enlightened folks will end up surviving after a decade of chaos if we don't end up doing what that little animated youtube video titled "The End of the World" portrays.

 'Enlightened' will mean those who are the most ruthless and willing to kill to survive, in the senarios you have laid out before.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2009, 04:44:20 PM »
'Enlightened' will mean those who are the most ruthless and willing to kill to survive, in the senarios you have laid out before.

But what if it comes to that, Zakharra? Let's make no illusions about it, once the basics start running out, and I mean food, shelter, clean water; the stuff that we needed to move from tribes of hunter-gatherers to organizing villages, cities, and civilizations. Shut off the flow of those basics and all our pretenses at civilization and civilized will poof like cloud of smoke. The human organism is a pack of wolves all too able to turn on each other; take away law enforcement and civil authority, or at least the means for those groups to enforce order, and the fur will start flying in very short order. New Orleans should be a stark lesson for us all.

A calamity of such scale will bring out the best and worst of humanity on a scale we've never see it in, as we just have to look to regional disasters as hint of what to expect. We might have to be ruthless and willing to kill if we're sitting on a pile of food and potable water to see us through. It's not pretty, but there it is.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2009, 04:46:47 PM by The Overlord »

Offline Zakharra

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2009, 05:32:32 PM »
 I don't think it will get that bad here. There might be some reduction in some services, but the world is not going to shut down and collapse as completely as some are suggesting. A total world wide collapse? Hightly un likely. Human innovation will step up to make new sources of energy. It's already happening. And there is oil and natural gas avalible for decades, into the next century. Some would say it's hard to get to, but extraction methods will and are getting better, which will bring down the cost of getting those resources.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2009, 06:51:30 PM »
I don't think it will get that bad here. There might be some reduction in some services, but the world is not going to shut down and collapse as completely as some are suggesting. A total world wide collapse? Hightly un likely. Human innovation will step up to make new sources of energy. It's already happening. And there is oil and natural gas avalible for decades, into the next century. Some would say it's hard to get to, but extraction methods will and are getting better, which will bring down the cost of getting those resources.



That's generally what I was meaning in my second to last post here. If there was events that led to a large-scale nuclear exchange, or something with bio/chem weapons that triggered a pandemic that brought down even the big countries, then we're going to see something straight out of a Ridley Scott or Wes Craven flick. I don't believe that's where we're going either.


A combination of intuition and what Iíve read on the topic says the 21st Century is going to usher in a skein of trials, tribulations, and technological innovations the likes of which has never been seen, some of which will eclipse the achievements of the 20th Century. It's going to be bumpy, but provided we don't take ourselves out as a species, I suspect it's also going to be humanity's finest hour.

I donít worry so much for North America, Europe, Russia, and Japan, these are the nations and areas with the military muscle to hold what they have and the technological expertise to find alternatives. But the overpopulated third world regionsÖthose I worry about. Indonesia, India, Africa, parts of China and South AmericaÖonce the basics get very scarce theyíre going to start tearing each other apart. Once the oil truly starts getting scarce, the cash cow the Arabs and Persians have been milking is going to send them to the dump, with exception of those with the brains and foresight to go alternative, as I know is occurring at least in Kuwait.

The one thing I do fear with the risk of proliferation is that nuclear weapons are definitely going to fire in anger again this century. It doesnít have to be global; more likely it will be regional. One day weíll all come home from work and turn on CCN, and there will be footage from a reporter on a high-altitude plane, showing a massive black wall of smoke on the horizon where the Indian subcontinent used to be.

Or the ayatollahs running the Iranian regime will yank the Westís tail one too many times and make good on their threat to rid the world of Israel, which means old Persiaís long and illustrious history will come to a screeching halt, forever.

Or, Islamic terrorists will succeed in sneaking a nuke into a Western city, and within six hours much of the Middle East will be gone.

I hope it doesnít come to pass, but I suspect thatís the worst end of what the century will usher in.




On the bright side of things, weíre about to see some wicked shit.


[youtube=425,344][/youtube]

[youtube=425,344][/youtube]

[youtube=425,344][/youtube]

[youtube=425,344][/youtube]

[youtube=425,344][/youtube]








Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2009, 07:15:12 PM »
      .Just how bad things get depends on how we as a people react, and what changes we're willing to make. ¬ If we accept what is to come, and make adjustments, we can still survive as a nation and as a people.

Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any sign of that happening...at least at the top. ¬ At the grassroots, the picture is a little less bleak.

President Obama shows scant evidence of grasping what the true problem is. ¬ We don't need a "stimulus" package of money thrown around in an (ultimately vain) attempt to reflate the consumerist credit "bubble." ¬ That bubble, and the way of life that went with it are dead, and the sooner we stop trying to animate that corpse, the better.

What we need is crash R&D into thermonuclear fusion. ¬ For the here and now, we need conservation, a four-day workweek, and a grassroots push to simplify. ¬ We need a way of life less reliant on mass shipments of large volumes of people and goods across long distances. ¬ We need to revitalize our rail network. ¬ We need governments that are trim and efficient, rather than bloated, overbearing nannies.

Rather than everyone going survivalist, we need to work on building the local institutions and organizations and practices that would enable better than 80% of the population to shelter in place. ¬ The last thing we need is a nation of refugees and chaos. ¬ Even in cities, people can grow food. ¬ People can catch rainwater. ¬ Some level of services can be maintained. ¬ (One of the only areas of the country that can't survive post-carbon is Los Angeles and Las Vegas, mainly due to lack of water.) ¬ 

Offline Zakharra

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2009, 08:36:42 PM »
      .Just how bad things get depends on how we as a people react, and what changes we're willing to make. ¬ If we accept what is to come, and make adjustments, we can still survive as a nation and as a people.

Unfortunately, I'm not seeing any sign of that happening...at least at the top. ¬ At the grassroots, the picture is a little less bleak.

President Obama shows scant evidence of grasping what the true problem is. ¬ We don't need a "stimulus" package of money thrown around in an (ultimately vain) attempt to reflate the consumerist credit "bubble." ¬ That bubble, and the way of life that went with it are dead, and the sooner we stop trying to animate that corpse, the better.

What we need is crash R&D into thermonuclear fusion. ¬ For the here and now, we need conservation, a four-day workweek, and a grassroots push to simplify. ¬ We need a way of life less reliant on mass shipments of large volumes of people and goods across long distances. ¬ We need to revitalize our rail network. ¬ We need governments that are trim and efficient, rather than bloated, overbearing nannies.

Rather than everyone going survivalist, we need to work on building the local institutions and organizations and practices that would enable better than 80% of the population to shelter in place. ¬ The last thing we need is a nation of refugees and chaos. ¬ Even in cities, people can grow food. ¬ People can catch rainwater. ¬ Some level of services can be maintained. ¬ (One of the only areas of the country that can't survive post-carbon is Los Angeles and Las Vegas, mainly due to lack of water.) ¬ 


 .. Uumm.. off topic, but what's with all of the '¬ ' in your post, TyTheDnDGuy? 0_o

Offline Zakharra

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #23 on: February 10, 2009, 08:50:38 PM »
 A 4 day work week would damage the economy. People and companies in the US are not geared for working only 4 days a week. Some companies could do it, but that would leave a lot of other companies without adaquate workers to do the work. They could not hire more people either since thay do not necessarily have the money to hire more workers. Unless they moved to 10 hour work days. Which makes it more.. likely. I can see advocate groups demanding that the workers (provbably union types) get a paid day off, so they wouldn't loose any monetary benefit.

Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: WTO chief warns of looming political unrest
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2009, 09:37:51 PM »
.. Uumm.. off topic, but what's with all of the '√ā ' in your post, TyTheDnDGuy? 0_o

Near as I can tell, a glitch in Android (the OS for this G1 phone I'm using.  The weird part is they only show up if I cut and paste a post.  Sorry for the annoyance.