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I'm guessing that the countries worst hit will be those in which food production has been most industrialised, land ownership most concentrated into fewest hands, and agriculture most ruthlessly repurposed for cash crop (export) production rather than for local eating.  Countries which have decimated their ag/biotic diversity in favour of imported monocrops dependent on heavy fossil-based inputs.  Countries/regions whose elites have based their power and fortunes on the extraction of raw materials and cash crops to be shipped (via fossil fuel, natch) to the industrial hoppers of the bosses.

This doesn't necessarily mean "only poor third world countries".  Cuba for example might come through pretty well, because of its land reform and relocalisation programme (food security) and relative independence (due to embargo, ironically) on export and resource extraction.  Some 3w countries scorned as "poor and underdeveloped" might also look good compared to, say, the US and Canada where land ownership concentration and fossil-dependent food production have reached grotesque, terrifying extrema.

I live on an island where, best estimates suggest, there is at any one time about 7 days' food supply for the population.  This island used to be food self-sufficient, or nearly so, only a generation and a half ago.  Now, only fossil-intensive cargo vessels and trucks provide a steady food supply, and the cost of operating those is climbing daily.  Water's not so much a problem here most of the year (though there are droughty summers) but it will be in many other places.

Everyone is still (imho) stressing out about superficial stuff like the cost of driving luxury cars and whether they can have internet/TV 24x7 and how to keep factories running that produce pallet after pallet of utterly useless cr*p.  Or what will happen to the totally-fictional "value of money."  But as someone -- I forget who -- said, any culture is only about 9 meals away from violent chaos.  It's at about the ninth missing meal that people are willing to steal, kill, anything to feed their kids.  

So I suggest that the nations that will be worst hit by peak oil are those with the most delocalised, long-haul-dependent food supply, or those who have rejiggered their agriculture most grotesquely to serve that long-haul transnat food system, or -- the jackpot -- both.  That is, if we consider "worst hit" to mean greatest suffering and hardship for ordinary people, rather than greatest fictional fortunes lost in imaginary abstract dollars by rentier elites.

This is all ignoring, of course, the wild cards of climate change, novelty pest incursions, saline incursion, drawdown of water reserves, and other issues not directly attributable to fossil fuel scarcity and price increases.  Also I'm ignoring, because it's horribly depressing, the very real prospect that nations that still have functional farmland and local food resources will simply be invaded by their less fortunate neighbours (who, being "advanced" enough to have wrecked their biotic base, will be as wealthy in cars, arms, poisons, etc as they are poor in food and soil) and pillaged.

I still think it is not too late to avert many of these worst-case nightmares.  But a successful soft landing programme requires nothing short of deconstructing the central precepts of the industrial/"Western" culture, including compound interest, finance capitalism, "economy of scale," optimisation/efficiency/rationalisation, white/anglo supremacy, and so on and so on... big project to achieve in a rather limited time frame, transforming wetiko culture into something more reality-based.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue May 27th, 2008 at 02:31:44 PM EST

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