October 21, 2009

Addicted to Money: Part 3 - Peak Everything

Posted in Media · 25 comments ·

Part 3 of the three part series, Addicted To Money.

Peak Everything

The party is over. Having barely survived a complete collapse of the financial system, the global economy is tottering on the brink. we’ve reached the limits of what our desires demand of the planet and what it can deliver. We’re reaching Peak Everything and the question is whether we can manage the change or will we let the changes manage us. Economist and author David McWilliams consults some of the most innovative and exciting developments around the globe as we embark on a quest for re-building a sustainable economy and a sustainable planet.

Further information available on the RTE Website.


Addicted To Money is produced by Australian production company Electric Pictures, in association with ABC Australia, RTÉ Ireland and S4C UK.

  1. The best of all the 3 episodes was last night’s. I have to say though a lot of the people interviewed at the end said they were positive regarding the future. I’m afraid I cannot say I am too positive. Great show David.

  2. David
    I enjoyed the series, despite the large carbon footprint you no doubt generated by criss-crossing the globe in making it!
    The gloomy nature of Part 3 reminded me of the conversation I had recently with a bearish investor friend, which I reported here:http://puckstownlane.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/equity-valuations-and-disaster-scenarios/
    Best wishes

  3. wills

    David. You were popping up everywhere, you must own a tardis. You were attempting to reach the mainstream with clear info and it seems to have worked judging by feedback i’m hearing from family friends.

    Episode III ‘s middle part i’m not too convinced by, the pac man gobbling up all resources and water running out and an asteroid goin too hit planet earth and ice berg’s melting and stuff, i don’t worry about that stuff, it’s too 1970′s.

    The ‘green bubble’ idea is a good one. I see ‘Golden sacks’ are in the running for creaming off the carbon credits derivatives scam, they’ve postioned themselves nicely for that one. So, ‘a green bubble’ is feasible and proably the next scam coming our way.

    I like the postman pat electric cars, and plug in posts.

  4. jkforde

    Hi David,

    I enjoyed the content of ATM (was the pun intended?) but the production I felt was too flashy in places (virtual reality section just didn’t work) and sometimes somewhat amateurish (walking into the camera).

    That said, I think it was a well needed stark introduction from a trusted social commentator for a lot of Joe and Janes into how the world works and the inherent unfairness of human nature (my girlfriend 32 years old starting crying at the injustice of it all!.. aah, I envy her naivety!).

    What you didn’t touch on is the accelerating ecological collapse (being amplified by climate change) who’s delicate feedback mechanisms we are messing with. Nature is resilient to a point (metastable) but when pushed over a threshold there no going back for a long time.

    Civilisation is on the threshold in so many senses.

    We and the next generations will certainly be living in increasingly interesting times.

    One preparation perhaps will be for our generation to learn to grow and pickle our own food. GIY-Ireland is starting nationwide, look it up.

  5. David’s third episode got me thinking…. Civilisation is exactly what? May be one way to look at it is to understand it as a thin layer that seperates us from “barbarism”. I understand it a s a social consens.

    This consens is endangered to the very core by the current events, hence I find David’s link to the downfall of civilisations valid.

    The migration problem is inevitable, and although media does not report often on it, it is happening as we speak.

    The climate change challenges are a fact as well.

    I went shopping yesterday and find green beens from Kenya in Super Value. Parsely from Israel, you name it. Talk about a carbon footprint, on a side note, when I purchased a macintosh Computer last year, it was assembled in Cork. However, due to much better prices in Germany I ordered it in Munich. This maschine, built in Cork, I live in Dongeal btw., was then shipped to Munich, where the distributor did nothing but to put his label onto the box, literally, and then shipped it back from Munich to Donegal.

    I talked to apple about that and asked for the shippment of the pre paid maschine to be made from Cork to Donegal instead of Cork-Munich-Donegal. Inpossible. As you might guess, COMPANY POLICIES did not allow for such procedure, of course not.

    I concur with David that the biggest brains on the planet are needed to help us steer through this crisis into a more responible future for all of us. But where can we gather and motivate all of them to brainstorm on solutions?

    To expect the high Priests and servants of our social structure to come up with real changes is a ridiculous.

    You all heard about the IPPC, the intergovernmental panel of climate change, which as well has to deal with loby pressures and political correct wording to not upset the interests of american or chinese. Then again, isn’t such a structure really needed to tackle the problems at hand in a global context?

    The G20 conference does not fill me with confidence that we are served well by their activities. Theoretically, they would be at the front of dealing with such issues, but practically, they are made of finance ministers, central bank and IMF to create frameworks and policies.

  6. Well David living aside the pop production running through the 3 shows, you pulled it back last night. Conspicarcy bloggers will have course enjoying this last show.
    Of course reality is something different , I’m presently down in Nigeria the seventh biggest Oil producer yet 70% here live on under a dollar a day !. Our project is setting up a school and out of this a co-op and the new political regieme here are more focused than any Irish bent politician I have encountered.
    China is big enough to eat the world!, Here in Ireland over the next few years we have to modernise our farming as well as building a Green Knowledge economy while in tandem change our out dated political system.
    If we don’t change our thinking , your right we will have riots and civil unrest will abound.
    But I am surprised with your researchers and the electric car, as we now also have a engine which runs on H2O, the Hydrogen providing the energy when mixed with the Oxygen and the by product is Water !. Truth is we can generate power without oil .
    Our Traders just have to get dried off their addiction to the Black Stuff.
    You along with Matt Cooper Shane Ross and Fintan O Toole now need to form a new political party here , as our Civil war parties are now out dated relics of another era.

  7. hjgoodisson

    a great show informative etc, how come rte havent taken it off the airwaves yet? im currently doing acourse on horticulture, one module is permaculture, this is the way out of the quagmire for all of us, times up for globalisation

  8. Smokey Bear

    I found the caption claiming 1 Kg of beef required 10 Kg of fertiliser, 30 l of oil , 15,000 – 70,000 l of water and produced 4 tonnes of green house gases a bit hard to believe.

    I know factory farming requires large energy inputs but these figures seem very high indeed.

    What is the source of these figures or were they just made up?

  9. adamabyss


  10. @Smokey Bear

    These figures are not made up or inflated at all. If anything, they don’t paint the full picture. In 2006, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated livestock’s contribution to be 18% of total greenhouse gases. This compared to all transport at 13%. Updated figures from the Worldwatch Institute show those original figures to be underestimated, with livestock’s contribution to total GHG emissions now being estimated to be greater than 51%. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6297

    I would also recommend you pay a visit to http://www.planetdiet.org The site hasn’t been officially launched yet, but there are some PDF’s available for download that may answer many of your questions.

  11. alpha

    Well done David!!! The whole series was very “illuminating”. It went beyond economics.
    Overpopulation and cannibalism is a taboo very few commentators do tackle, especially in Ireland.

    When I hear some people saying that we should go back to 8 million. I despair!!!
    Housing estates beside the Cliffs of Moher???
    We in the western world have to thank the Chinese for tackling the problem head on.
    Only for them and we would be in a bigger mess. We should be more careful and educate people about how many babies should have. I think from now on, one or two is the most responsible option, and helping the planet we are helping ourselves.

    Although James Lovelock said its very hard to make a prediction. He’s quite sceptical about the results we can achieve at this stage…. “the earth , like any other living organism, is in charge and she will dispose”. I suppose in the meantime we have to try our best.

    But today I feel like the woman in your program: quite pessimistic. I think like Lovelock that nature is in charge and will be very painfull.
    We would need an “EVOLUTION” of epic dimension.
    Behind the disguise of civilise people we are still “primitives” who are driven by greed, no by need and cooperation. History is the witness of what the Renaissance world did to the ancient cultures of America. Daily News of what Corporations are doing in the search for raw material, oil, minerals and food, that comes back to us leaving behind a trial of desolation and dead.

    If Aristotle perceived a round and small world when he wrote that: “The bulk of the earth must not only be spherical, but not large in comparison with the size of other stars”. Technology has made of it an even smaller place with a “surplus” of hungry sick and desperate people.
    Cannibalism seems to be the name of the game, and one has to avoid ending up in somebody else’s plate.

  12. John McGowan

    Hi David, fair play to you boy, you saw the elephant in the room 3 years ago and you can see it now in spades. You’ve led the horse to the water – can you make it drink?

    I think not.

    When the sheeple wake up and discover no cake I fear a messy lopping of heads that will make Bastille day look like a kindergarten party.

    In the meantime keep on trying you young sage!

  13. Hi David, working on the premise that your predictions in the last episode are right, don’t you find it frustrating that our political leaders can’t be as direct about the issues as well?

    I wonder if they also have more questions than answers, and don’t want to be tackled head on about how they intend to deal with things.

    I think some of the earlier posters have it right – life evolves through survival of the fittest, and nature has a habit of taking its course.

    An interesting example might be Chernobyl – a man made disaster yet in 20 years nature has recovered the area and it’s full of thriving wild animals, but not a man in sight!

    What it seems to boil down to is indeed global co-operation, the question is whether all nations could hold it together and stay unified when the pressure comes on.

    Interesting times we live in!

  14. DH

    One of the scariest unknowns is how our EU government (or America or China) will react when faced with a desperate need oil or food they cant afford to import? We can all criticise Americas interest in the middle East now, but maybe they are just ahead of the game in terms of securing what little resources are still available. For all the talk of globalisation, an “us against them” mentality is just around the corner.

  15. David I have had many a deep thought about the subject matter of Peak Everything over the past twenty years or so. I actually believe that Ireland is at a crossroads at this moment, there are many Irish people including ourselves at Spirit of Ireland energy initiative working hard on solutions, however we all face the fact every day that government do not think long term. There are solutions in Irelands case for many of the topics you raise, however we must act now not when it is too late.

  16. Pandora

    David well done, we desperately need somebody high profile like yourself to start shouting about the start realities of climate change and how very urgently we need to act to avoid reaching those tipping points. I just don’t think many people are aware of the fact that we are very likely to reach tipping points quite soon, after which we risk irreversible global domino effects that could threaten life on earth – or at the very least make the current economic turndown look like a picnic in the park. This beautiful little film is a cri de coeur – but even since it was made we now know that the reality is far worse than thought of when it was made – you can see it at:

    What depresses me is that conversations I have with people on this subject inevitably lead to comments such as: “it’s only a theory”, “it’s a lie”, “climate change is natural”, “we’ll survive”, “everyone’s doing their best – I recycle” (!!!), and the latest: “God won’t let that happen”.
    God f***ing help us is all I can say. So please please David tell people the stark truth – I can hardly look my son in the eye knowing what we may be doing to his future.

  17. cjmurray

    Had almost enjoyed watching the David’s series. Was great to hear an establishment right-winger very belatedly let rip with points environmentalists and the left have been making for decades.

    But am now utterly disgusted to find that David’s big solution is for a giant undemocratic government, a weird hybrid state-capitalist/communist dictatorship, China, to lead us in wasting trillions on a classically stupid technological fix, building unproven filthy nukes to churn out the power for billions more cars! How does that cure the money addiction? How does that cure the “Growth” delusion? It’s like “curing” an addiction to beer by switching to whiskey! Not surprising from someone who denounces Wall Street greed while advertising stock market gambling on his blog! It’s bad enough that the Green Party sold out so cravenly without David presenting this guff as being part of a new “Green” economy!

    Here’s another idea instead of David’s thinly disguised mania for more and more always and forever: LESS! LESS! LESS! LESS! Be happy with LESS! Learn to live with LESS! Live within your means! Live more simply! Live within the Earth’s means! If you want “growth”, do a bit of personal growth or spiritual growth! Or just GROW UP!

    Best wishes,
    Chris Murray.

    PS As far as I know, Paul Erlich, lauded in the programme for his prescience about global warming, interviewed and quoted by David about “peak everything” etc, is also against nuclear power. Pity that wasn’t mentioned.

  18. Freethinker123

    Hi David

    Great Series well done, however I would have to agree with Chris Murray above me here. That it is a case of exchanging one model for another, but the optimist and strategist that you are have used your imagination well as you always do and I commend you highly for it. Your needed now more than ever,someone at the hieght of his career and of public profile to say it like it is..infact I was nearly loosing faith in you there for a moment when in the third part you said “If we can’t beat them..suave them” nice touch.

    Now as I’ve said you’ve done a great job in bringing it to the lay person and of course it is your job to investigate,analyse and argue these matters. I’m not an economic or financial wiz at all but… I have seen the future.. and you and who ever reads this are gonna think I’m mad. The Future on this planet has as much relevance as your third part was making the point on. That this previous system has failed,though what if I be so bold to say for a moment it was most likely engineered by an elite corporatocracy..and I’ll come back to that in a moment.The future is simple GET RID OF THE MONETARY SYSTEM..and now i’ve jumped light years ahead haven’t I. I’m somebody who doesn’t understand how the game goes? but I can well see whats going on around me with the banks, good lord its staring us in the face! and so you can see why I say its engineered.
    Now I don’t usually do this sort of thing..get on some comments page and seemingly rant. This is too serious to ignore and I want everyone who reads this to REALISE. That we can see what is happening infront of us but should we take it as normal,just how it is and hope it will all pan out. We can’t leave it up to politicians and of course we know that..but its exactly the point we’re making here.. BAD Systems and yet we tolerate it,give it a moments notice in terms of time and move on with our lives. The Lisbon..basicaly I think that I sum up the mindset and soul of this nation..that what it boils doen to is we traded our sovriegnty for keeping our belly full and the rest. I don’t mean to lecture..far be it from me.. but I am not the last person to see this nor feel from it.

    This is Crisis but also opportunity but indeed what we individually make of it and en masse,to realise we make our realities and if I may get all spiritual on you for a moment..sorry to offend but its just how its gonna sound.. that we are all on a higher level ONENESS and if you don’t believe me then what the hell is everything from economy to an ecosystem then!?
    So then..I’ll come back to the corporatocracy. Just a question if I may.. have you ever heard of the Bilderberg group?.anyone..mm..yea I’d check that out. Like I say I’m not some conspiracy nut just getting on here..the very word gives skeptically healthy people a bad name for cryin out loud. And what if I’m wrong? innocnt people don’t run..period there’s still the norm we know..its a win win.

    Okay so I’d like to say in finishing thank you again David I wish you further success and know that your balance of observations are spot on though I would encourage you..all of you..to find this out for yourselfs the following keywords : Bilderberg group,NWO, the Federal Reserve as a private company that has pulled of the biggest banking scam to date and Economic hitmen. Realising like the engineering of this recession,wars and this farce of a swine flu now..and it ain’t no conspiracy its just MONEY

    Thank you again

    God bless





  19. Really like the show David. And I follow your pieces in the Sunday Business Post with interest. My own view of the economic outlook for 2010 in Ireland is pessimistic. I’m more upbeat about many other countries.

  20. David I came home this Sunday and switched on the sky box just to see this espoide been repeated for a moment I had a de ja vu so to speak as I am wondering have we not been here before this week I heard a Welsh woman sort of boasting about this going to be her fourth recession , We are going in Circles
    Your back down to Cork to do a gig for Alan Crosbie and Anthony Dinan in a few weeks time and I’m wondering before I get my tickets , will you have your Farmleigh Plan ready to go public with before this function or will you launch it that night ?
    Your for now still just part of the pop culture school of economics catering for a pre centage of the general joe public while you get your money also from the very corporate media who played the game and published the big pages of lovely houses along side the bankers gloating about how much they were making while they gave the money out so freely . Our own greed is what stopped us then from questioning and demanding a change to this back hander society we fiddled every thing from the road funding right down the line nothing is worth showing at any China World Expo , from Health ,Education, Transport and Social we have no running model after 90 odd year since our last civil war.
    The Real joke is the Government paying for the Unions posters regarding the cuts they speak about but sadly will do little more than this.
    As I said before , I never agin paying for a TV lincense when I see what fools this country has let its self be run by for the last few decades. ….We have to get off our chairs and Stay on the Streets to begin a Change .

  21. This is great show David.

    You should be very proud. The flashy-ness as some people have deemed a negative is completely necessary. The main demograph that need to be affected by these hard truths are the young (including me). This series can get across the volumes of need-to-know statistics to a generation that largely have had their concentration spans ravaged by new media.

    Well done.

    I want to show the series to my friend who is living in England…he cant access the RTE player from London. Is it available to view online by any other means?

  22. Hi D McW,

    Well done on the series. Just one thing in regard to the final programme which I watched last night:

    You devoted much of the the last quarter of the programme to the electric car, about how this may let us get on with a motorised society. This is was contrary to the quotes you had earlier from Paul Kehrlich, ie “Americans have bought their last car” and “We spent the last 75 designing the United States [and thence the developed world] around automobiles; we have to go back and redesign it around people”. So was wondering which you subscribed to?

    Kehrlich and others such as Kunstler maintain we will be required to drastically change our way of living and whether we want to or not, travelling only short distances, growing food we eat etc. No more schlepping around by car.

    Kunstler’s talk to TED on the ‘national automobile slum’ and suburbia:

  23. jkforde

    This is good, slightly over produced but content is excellent and same as David’s…. I think it would be worth this going viral so tweet, Digg, Stumble, just get it around…..

    Zeitgeist Orientation:

  24. jkforde

    Zeitgeist Movement video here as well; also downloadable as 325MB mp4 file


  25. [...] on his blog show a complete blindness to the certain advantages that Ireland has in this new era Addicted to Money: Part 3 – Peak Everything | David McWilliams Even James Lovelock agrees that Ireland is in clover over the coming decades, why are we so blind [...]

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