John Howard meet Robert Theobald : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This is from the Australian. The amazing thing about Austrailia is the number of disruptions they have had to recently endure with their water problem, the gas explosion and more. What a great and sad beta test for y2k disruption. Each event was isolated but they had tremendous impacts on every part of every citizens life in the region. John, if you really want to understand how people will react to disruption of their normal, everyday, happy life, research more about this news in the Australian.

Sorry to include the WHOLE article, but I didn't want you to think I was ONLY posting BAD news.


Watershed for life as we know it By JOHN MACLEAY 29sep98

ROBERT Theobald is a futurist who sees the year 2000 computer glitch as a potential watershed for global civilisation.

Theobald, a British-born economist based in the US, says the year 2000  or Y2K  computer bug will have as big an impact on the global economy as the oil shocks of the 1970s.

On a more sobering note, Y2K is already shaping up as the biggest technological fix in history. It will cost the US alone at least $US600 billion ($1034 billion) and possibly $US1 trillion  double what it spent on the Vietnam War when adjusted for inflation.

Theobald, who for 37 years has advocated the need for change to a more sustainable economy, says Y2K just might be that catalyst, given the "inertia" of the current system.

But he says that how Y2K will change our lives will depend largely on the degree to which governments and individuals prepare themselves between now and December 31 next year.

"For me, Y2K is only the beginning of the shocks that are going to come as we begin to realise that technology does not resolve all of our problems," Theobald says.

Theobald, who is in Australia to promote his latest book, Reworking Success, says that if handled successfully, Y2K could lead to a more decentralised economy and political decision-making process.

However, he warns that our present economic and institutional structures have milked communities and individuals of their resilience to handle major and abrupt change such as Y2K may unleash.

Theobald says community resilience will determine whether Y2K is treated as a natural disaster or whether it will be seen as another technological blunder by those above.

Theobald's big fear is that large-scale anger caused by Y2K disruptions could lead to a breakdown in social order, especially in the larger US cities, which will be the hardest areas to organise for Y2K at a neighbourhood and sub-neighbourhood level.

"I believe the core issue on (handling) this Y2K thing is to start at the sub-neighbourhood level so that you can say you know who will need things.

"If we don't do anything, the chances of a major breakdown in public order, which has already been seen in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world in one way or another, is a very real threat.

"And without far more intelligence being put in to handle this, I'd say a global slump is a very real possibility, and a significant collapse is not off the cards either."

However, while Theobald canvasses the dark side of the millennium glitch, he also dissociates himself from the so-called cyber-survivalists. These are people, mostly in the US, who are prepared to ride out the Y2K bug by stocking food and hiding away in isolation.

Theobald has been putting his words into action by working closely with his local neighbourhood in Spokane, Washington State, on Y2K preparedness.

His efforts were recognised last year by the Institute for Social Innovation in Britain, which awarded him a prize.

The institute's other recipient was former computer programmer Paloma O'Reilly, founder of the Cassandra Project, a community-based Y2K preparedness group that has been examining and preparing for self-sufficiency in all areas that could be millennium-glitch affected, including power, water and food distribution.

"What we do  as individuals, as societies and communities  over the next few months will make an enormous difference to how serious Y2K becomes," says Theobald.

"This is a fairly established position. I'm one person among many. "When you consider the very well established companies and the enormous sums of money being spent on this, what I say is not out of the ordinary.

"But what disturbs most is that the dominant message in our culture at the moment is not about Y2K preparedness."


-- Michael Taylor (, October 12, 1998



Good find! We need to see more stuff like this from people in other countries, to get a broader perspective. I think the line... "Theobald's big fear is that large-scale anger caused by Y2K disruptions could lead to a breakdown in social order, especially in the larger US cities, which will be the hardest areas to organise for Y2K at a neighbourhood and sub-neighbourhood level."...may be the key to whether or not our civilization evolves into something more sustainable than what we have now, or degenerates into chaos. I live in New York City, so naturally I'm concerned on a personal level (not that I'll stay here if there's REAL trouble), but on a larger scale, it is the cities that are the engines of our current economic system. If those engines "run out of fuel" as it were, the entire system breaks down. I suppose there's no need to re-state the obvious...

-- pshannon (, October 12, 1998.

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