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The Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse




The four horsemen of the modern apocalypse are CO2, Peak Oil, Financial Crash and Over Population. Any one of them, if not corrected, could result in the collapse of civilisation, the ruination of human rights, and insurrection affecting us all.
 It should be of concern to everybody that the leaders of our community, with very few honourable exceptions, are not warning their people, or the government, of the seriousness of the position, or the remedies, which are readily available. It is the purpose of this paper to convince all readers that they must bring pressure to bear on all their leaders to insist on urgent corrective action.
  By community leaders I refer to Industrial, Mining, and Manufacturing leaders. Also Banking and Finance leaders, and Ministers of Religion, Politicians, the media and Trade Union leaders.

1) CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which for the past 11000 years has been reasonably steady, (260 – 280parts per million [ppm]) enabling trees and plants to grow, and the temperature stayed fairly constant. For the previous 600,000 years the concentration varied up and down in sympathy with the temperature, causing great ice ages but allowing life to develop in tropical areas. Today the concentration has risen to 385 ppm and rising. Glaciers have been receding, Arctic ice has been melting, the amount of water flowing in all major rivers is reducing, affecting the major growing areas in Australia, Africa, the Americas, China and India. The great majority of scientists are convinced that these global warming events are due to the actions of man, burning fossil fuels. Doubters should read the latest lectures of Dr John Holdren (Director, Research Center, Harvard University) just appointed President Obama’s chief scientific adviser. "The Science of Climatic Disruption": .
And Jim Hansen's (NASA) "Bjerknes Lecture" "The Venus Syndrome" 17 12 2008

Solutions: The majority of scientists agree that we must reduce burning fossil fuels by 90 %  (Targets could be 33% by 2020, 70% by 2040) and we must start the reduction now because the 10-year window we had has been reduced to 8 years – and the measurements are now worse than the original Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates. This means that all electric power stations must be converted from coal burners to steam generated by solar towers or by geo-thermal energy etc. Also most vehicles must be replaced by units running on plug in electricity. Even if we spread this over 30 years it represents both an enormous amount of employment and a huge expenditure of energy. To solve the latter it is necessary to build solar smelters, as has been done in France with miners retrained as solar technicians. Coal Exports can then be capped.

What do our Industrialists say?
There are Industrialists developing geo-thermal energy, solar cells, battery research and much more but the CO2 levels are rising at the same or higher rates because the majority of the worlds industrialists are burning more coal, building more cars. They claim they will be able to sequester CO2 but admit that refining the method might take 30 years. Little action is taking place now; and coal causes respiratory disease and death for anyone living downwind and increases mercury pollution of the oceans, so health authorities issue warnings to pregnant mothers and young children not to eat more than 2 serves per week of certain kinds of fish.
  Other industrialists recommend nuclear power. This is probably essential in countries where there is a shortage of power sources but not in Australia. Building reactors takes a long time and consumes a lot of energy both in building and in mining the ore.
  Solar and wind power are criticised for being intermittent, which in practise turns out to be less important than is generally supposed. Current systems fail in hot weather and Geothermal energy could supply the base load.
    The majority of Industrialists welcomed the governments weak 5% proposals because it means the acceptance of "business as usual"

Actions for citizens: Most people realise the dangers our world is in and realise the need to convince industrialists that major reform is necessary. 

  • Write letters to your editors or MP’s. 

  • Write the same letter to any Industrialist. 

  • Obtain a copy of this paper and send it with your letter*

  • Ask the government to pass a law about trees. "Any person or company who cuts down a tree for any reason shall plant and grow two trees in the same locality" 

 2) PEAK OIL is the theory is that when a group of oil wells reaches maximum production, there is only 50% left in the ground, production will go down and the price will go up. King Hubbert, US geologist, predicted in 1956 that U.S. oil production would peak in about 1970 and decline thereafter, his analysis has since proved to be remarkably accurate. The current position is that the majority of oil wells throughout the world are in decline; few new wells are coming on line. Last year the price of oil peaked, Due to the financial crash, the world bought less oil and the price has collapsed, but this will only be a temporary result. 
The IEA and the CERA have issued statements saying the depletion rate is 4.5% per year and may be higher. Global crude oil production, 74 million barrels a day (mbd) in 2008 will be 60 mbd by 2015. Exporting countries will have a higher home demand reducing exports still further.
  Think about what this means. Walk to your shopping centre today, you will pass a few hundred cars, vans, trucks, buses. At some time between 2015 and 2020 twenty five percent of these vehicles will be off the road, due to the price and uncertain supply of oil, and the businesses they served will be in ruins. Our present civilisation is entirely dependent on oil. Remove 25% of this power and the economic system will collapse, and with it our civilisation, reducing us to the horrors of Rwanda and the Sudan,

Solutions and Targets: We have to stop using oil, convert all transport to electricity (33% by 2020), and this conversion must start now so we might save some oil for the production of fertilizers without which millions will be condemned to starvation. There are other possibilities but these need time to develop and may not be very green or economical. It is to be expected that electric vehicles will not have the range, speed or carrying capacity that we are used to but we can retain civilisation.
  Service Stations will become charging stations. You swap your battery for a fully charged one and continue your journey. Very heavy transports and digging equipment could use bio-diesel manufactured from farm wastes.
  Public transport, road and rail, must be converted to electricity. Adelaide City Council has an electric bus, imported from New Zealand. Failure to convert buses to electricity will mean public transport will become unaffordable.

Vehicle Manufacturers. Australian manufacturers have known about peak oil for more than 20 years and have done little about it. Every year they have increased the size and weight of vehicles and the power of their engines. They have declared they cannot compete with imported lighter and smaller vehicles. The suggestion that they build the complete package (electric car, 2 batteries, plug in charger and solar cells fixed on the garage roof) was probably not noticed. 
It is a disgrace that there is no electric car on sale in Australia. The car industries masters in the USA once built an electric car that was withdrawn and crushed.
In the last month they have declared their conversion and promised to reduce the size of passenger vehicles, build a small car and introduce an electric car.
There are a few brave individuals who have built their own electric car. The licensing authority  will have to introduce new regulations more suitable for electric cars.

What You Can do: Keep pressure on our manufacturers by:

  • Enquiring about the availability of electric cars. 
  • Pester the authorities to provide roads more suitable for cyclists. 
  • Demand the government apply higher registration to petrol guzzlers 
  • Build Geo-thermal power stations the same way that they built the Snowy system.
  • More research on batteries and fuel cells. 

3) FINANCIAL CRASH  We are in the middle of one now, people are being put off work,  companies have gone bankrupt. People are losing their homes. Your super and most other investments you have are worth much less than they were. Some may find their income does not pay the mortgage. The price of food has risen; you might be able to pay the price but those with income under a dollar a day will face starvation.
 Mistakes: Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman has admitted mistakes, but the problem is far greater than generally realised. Every 7 to 10 years there is a "minor" crash ruining many people’s lives. Then there are the big crashes which affect the whole world and if we take no notice of the oil threat mentioned above, there will be another crash within 12 years - we will have barely recovered from this one.
 Finance Industry: This is a fearsome assault on humanity dealt out by the finance industry to all peoples in the world. Most governments have responded by bailing out the banks, essential to keep the system going but few conditions have been applied. Banks continue to pay their CEO’s excessive amounts including bonuses with the bailout money. Common justice suggests they should be paid less because of the "results" they have achieved.
 Bankers: There are bankers who are honourable, and have high ethics, but most took no notice of the few who warned of the inevitable results. It is clear that many bankers and financiers knew the consequences of removing the controls applied after the Great Depression, and the stupidity of the many forms of "neoliberalism" that applied since but did not dare speak out – they are as guilty as their leaders.
 Economic Globalisation, promised the world, according to its advocates, glorious prosperity, providing economic growth and raising billions of people out of poverty. In practice it has generated personal and national insecurity, growing inequality and a race to the bottom in which every nation and work group has had to reduce its social, environmental and labor conditions to that of its most impoverished competitor. We hope that this world crash will show that extreme competition just wont work. Other methods must be found.

Solutions: The whole financial system needs re-regulation and reform.

  •   Banks must only be permitted to stick to traditional banking activity (taking deposits and advancing loans), leaving all other financial activities to the more specialized financial institutions.

  •   Banks must not be permitted to have off-balance-sheet assets (portfolio investments).  Since these assets are where the recent huge bank losses have primarily occurred.

  •   Banks must not make loans to companies or productions, that generate CO2..

  •   Curricula of Economic Education Courses must be corrected to play down "Economic Rationalism" and arguments that support "the need for growth", "the importance of competition" in favour of "the limits to growth", "the importance of Co-operation", "the need to leave the planet in a healthy condition for our great grand children."

  •   The present system does not provide sufficient or affordable money for infrastructure. Governments should take back the power to create money, which they can do, without charging interest. Creating green transport and power stations requires money; we also need schools, distillation plants, pipe lines, railway electrification and more. But thanks to the banks we might soon be broke.

Guernsey did it in 1817 ! The little island of Guernsey in 1817 had the same problem. They owed money to the banks, they needed sea defences, roads, a market and a school but nobody had money to pay taxes (most were unemployed). So they printed about 3000 pounds and made contracts with the builders of sea defences, roads etc. The Builders spent the money on materials, their men on groceries so the money moved into the population and real assets had been built. People were now able to pay their taxes and the amount originally printed was withdrawn from circulation so there was no inflation and they continued this process for 100 years and the whole island became very prosperous.
  This is really the same process as is used by the banks, the money is "printed" by means of a computer key, and when you pay back the loan the money is extinguished, but the banks charge interest, and over a period of years you pay several time the original cost of the loan – why?
Australia did it  from 1911 to 1923 Dennison Miller, manager of the new Commonwealth Bank supplied money at very low rates of interest for government projects. There was the transcontinental railway, paid for at about 1% interest and owned by Australia. Before he made the loan he simply asked do we have the raw materials? The Labour? The know how? The staff to run the project? If the answer was yes, he would provide the money.
A Modern Act is the American Monetary Act  It could easily be amended to suit any country: It includes provision for education and health. An extra advantage of these systems is that the Treasurer has a new weapon to control inflation. He can alter the rate at which money is extinguished. The present Reserve Bank control is most inadequate.
Bankers should lead public discussion.  There are many other possible reforms of the financial system. These can be found by asking Google. There appears to be little informed public discussion on reform of the banking system and even less attention from the banking and finance industry itself. They should be most concerned that a system be developed capable of performing better than that currently inflicted on us.

What You Can Do: Duplicate this paper*, send it to your bank manager and bank employees union suggesting that they call for: 

  • public symposiums on banking reform. 

  • agree to the restrictions above.

  • To the Treasurer suggesting that he send a team of observers to the investigations being made by President Obama, who has the same problems, to cooperate fully with President Obama, his decisions will affect the world, ours are only of advisory importance.

4) OVERPOPULATION: The root cause of most of our problems. World population has risen to 6.7 billion people and may reach 9 billion by 2050. This has had serious consequences. Grain stocks in most countries are down, the water table (in agricultural wells) gets lower every year. World fish catch is down, rivers are running dry. While many are living well now, we are consuming the capital of the land. We will pay for that in the near future.
  Humanity emits CO2 but it is our use of fossil fuels, in transport and power, which causes global warming. We all want a good civilisation and live at a better level than the third world. But it is in the first world where the major pollution occurs. Therefore it is the first world’s duty to take the actions indicated above but in addition the nations must take action to allow population to reduce.
  Professor Albert Bartlett of Colorado University, gives a lecture in which he proves, using simple mathematics, that population growth is unsustainable. (You may hear or read this lecture by typing his name into Google search.)
  If we do not allow population to reduce, the limits to growth will do it for us, with tragic results. The remedy is quite simple, it depends on the observed fact that in developed countries where women as well as men have received a good education the fertility rate has gone down.
  So we need to work for a comprehensive education for all children to include family planning and the provision of contraceptives. The lack of the latter in Africa has led to the deaths of many. Their orphaned children survive without parental guidance and no education.
  Certain religions will object to such a policy, there may be biblical texts which they can't get round. But this is not insuperable. Over 200 years ago the church approved of slavery, it owned and bought slaves and encouraged others to do so. Then Wilberforce spent a lifetime convincing the world that slavery was an evil, Parliaments passed acts against slavery, only then a Pope was heard to say slave trading was wrong.
  Family planning and contraception are essential for the modern world because without it there would be too many children, beyond the capacity of the earth to supply their needs. 

What You Can Do: 

  •  Check up on the laws giving advantages to having babies, are they too generous? On the laws governing school curricula, are they adequate? Do they support family planning?

  •  Take your results to the government and suggest remedies.   Take an interest in your United Nations Association. Ask them if we still have the regulation about abortion originally introduced by ex Senator Brian Harradine on the books? {It is a threat to women’s rights especially in Papua New Guinea.)

  •  Duplicate this leaflet* and send it to the priest, pastor or leader of your local religion and to the head office of your religion. Then follow it up and inquire about their reactions.

CONCLUSIONS: This paper has been written on the basis that ordinary men and women who are not vitally concerned about the technicalities of their trade, profession, or calling, immediately understand the dangers that face us when, our leaders who are so caught up with their achievements, fail to see the processes that are leading us to destruction.
  Our political leaders, and journalists have had little attention here, because they are unduly led by our community leaders. The Labor leaders have adopted the Kyoto principles and their policies will increase the cost of fossil fuels making it easier to use alternative energy but it will do little to build generators or electric transport. Their right wing would not consider the financial suggestions. The opposition jumps about a bit and seems to advocate reduced taxation. This usually means reduced taxation for the rich. Since they are likely to burn more fossil fuels than the rest of us it does not seem to be a reasonable proposition. They too follow the advice of the existing leaders. Nevertheless it will be necessary to convince some of them, as the policy being advocated here needs full support from a large majority of people.

  Some scientists believe that we are already past the point of no return or that it is not possible to obtain world wide agreement. No doubt young people will want to continue racing in V8’s instead of the electric car race from Darwin to Adelaide. But we have to try and keep on trying. Ordinary people, including the writer, must try to convince our leaders that reform is essential, our planet must have the same CO2 average level as has existed for the last 11000 years, we therefore must stop burning coal and oil, develop sufficient electric power to satisfy our transport and living needs' and convince the whole world to follow our lead.

Dick Clifford
Vice President
Humanist Society of South Australia

February 2009

Please distribute this paper widely. The URL is:
*A limited number of free paper copies of this leaflet will be available. Send a stamped addressed envelope ( A4 or A3) to: 
120 Goodman Road, Elizabeth South, South Australia 5112.


Please Help!
The Author runs a small charity to help up to 250 Liberian Children go to school. They were in the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana and were returned to Monrovia, a few months ago. Conditions are as bad in Liberia as they were in Ghana.
  Your donation, however small will be welcome. Please make out your cheque to "Liberian Refugee Scholarship Fund" c/o 120 Goodman Rd Elizabeth South, SA, 5112

Full details available on to Liberia.htm
Thank You.