In this blog we have often proposed that the culture of war is not sustainable and that the American empire is destined to crash for the same reasons that the Soviet empire crashed. It can be an opportunity for a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace. However, the crash of the American empire may well be accompanied (caused) by a global financial crash with suffering for ordinary people, as it did for the Soviet people 30 years ago.
In a financial crash the cities are especially vulnerable. They depend on daily food deliveries to supermarkets that often come long distances by plane and truck.
It is precisely this delivery system that is at risk in a global financial crash. Not to mention industrial agriculture. Both depend on adequate supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel for trucks, planes and tractors, and the fuel, in turn, is largely dependent on a global system of oil tankers which, in turn, depends up/on consistent financial support.
To site an historical precedent, following the financial crash of 1929, the number of freighters at sea fell drastically due to lack of financial support. In 1929 the world was less urbanized and the cities were less dependent on food deliveries by plane and truck. Much of their food came from local suppliers who were, in turn, less dependent on industrial methods.
That is no longer the case. Small local farms have been replaced by industrial agriculture that is concentrated in regions far from most cities.
One solution to this problem lies in the recent proposal of José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), addressing a UN conference discussing common challenges to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as climate change and food security: “Sustainable development calls for the strengthening of rural-urban linkages based on a territorial approach,” he said, pushing for “a rural-urban continuum.”
In fact, this process is already underway on a small scale as cities develop networks of farmer’s markets linked to small farms in the region around them, and as young people increasingly turn to subsistence farming near these cities.
There is a second component needed for this solution: a shift from dependence on fossil fuel for trucks and tractors to use of electric trucks and tractors recharged by solar-powered charging stations.
A shift to electric tractors and solar charging stations on farms is especially important, but we have little indication that this process has even begun.
How much time do we have to make these changes? Impossible to say. Johan Galtung has predicted the end of the American empire by the year 2020. Will it be accompanied and/or caused by a global financial crash?
In any case, it is not too early to begin the transition to a “rural-urban continuum” based on solar energy and electric vehicles.