The Great Disruption

Thomas Friedman suggested in his editorial “The Inflection Is Near?” that we “step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: ‘No more’.”  He goes on to suggest that “Often in the middle of something momentous, we can’t see its significance. But for me there is no doubt: 2008 will be the marker — the year when ‘The Great Disruption’ began.”

The good news is that a whole lot of people read and pay attention to Friedman.  I believe he is right.  I am also pretty certain that as a society, we aren’t nearly prepared to come to terms with the real implications of the Great Disruption that Friedman barely begins to describe.

To get a better handle on the real implications of what Friedman is alluding to, I’ll again suggest dedicating the two hours necessary to watch Chris Martenson’s Crash Course. It’s a great summary of where things stand regarding economics, energy and the environment, the three interrelated primary factors driving the change that is upon us.

We face a time of truly incredible opportunity to fundamentally transform society for the better and to transform our economy to a far more sustainable form. We really have no other choice.

But the challenges and dangers ahead are enormous. As an amateur student of history, it is hard to be entirely hopeful in the face of the Great Disruption we are facing.

My father in law, Keith Ketner, is a much more serious student of history than I am. He lived through the Great Depression and was a bomber pilot in World War II. He wrote to me this morning: “It’s quite calming to realize that we survived the 20th century”.  A wise perspective for these interesting times.


1 Comment

Filed under Economic Policy, Fundamental Perspectives

One response to “The Great Disruption

  1. Michael Barrow

    Hi Fred:

    Your cousin Dan Goldstein (I work with him at Page 1 Solutions) let me know about your blog. I’m glad I found it – your writings are thoughtful and inspiring. Over the last 5 years, I’ve been doing a lot of reading in many of the same places you have listed in your resources.

    I haven’t read Thomas Friedman in quite a while. I’m glad to see that his thinking has evolved from “the world is flat”. That was, of course, all predicated on cheap and abundant energy. I like Paul Gilding’s moniker “the Great Disruption”. It is accurate, and probably quite understated. Perhaps he chose it for effect for just that reason. It reminds me of James Howard Kunstler’s “the Long Emergency”. If you haven’t been there, check out his humorously-named blog at:

    It’s tough to watch this all playing out, especially with our “leaders” doing the typical clinging-desperately-to-the-way-things-have-always-been routine.

    I look forward to more of your posts and insights.


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