The time is ripe for Doomsday.
— War, Famine, Pestilence and Death —
The engraving is by Albrecht Durer
Yesterday’s blog, Lifehaven – The time is ripe for Doomsday, made an attempt to list the various factors that will magnify worldly stress, and the positive feedback cycles that will make the Doomsday event inevitable. The blog from 2008 May 9 Lifehaven – Request to dock the ship Queen Mary in Tasmania. gave some estimation of the effects upon humanity of the Doomsday population crash. These thoughts are outrageous to most people, and they would rather not think about them at all. I hesitate to disturb their tranquility, but as a general rule it is better to see problems clearly, and to prepare for their eventualities in ways which are most likely to promote ones long term life, and vigor. When one sees the problems clearly it usually gives us time, and opportunity for reasoned, and reasonable action.
The ultimate problem is food.
Population increase of itself is healthy, and a good thing, but when the population outruns its supply of food then whatever population exists beyond the supply must go hungry. Generally what happens is everyone cuts back for a while, but then sometimes there comes a time when that isn’t enough. From experienced observation of some famines in agricultural regions a general rule is that the men are the first to die. Apparently this is because the men are consuming more calories in an environment where more work isn’t enough to get more calories to cover the outlay of energy. Also women have work that consumes fewer calories, and requires less out-of-the-house energy consuming travel. When there is less food to go around it brings on a general state of poor health for the whole community, and that gives disease access to more victims. These sick people can’t be very productive, and bring a further strain on the general welfare. People in an extreme of privation will take anything available to sell for food, and soon the infrastructure will not support whatever economic activities there had previously been. When there are groups of people organizing to take other groups of people’s food in order to survive themselves then complete social ruin is soon upon that society.
At present there are worldwide supplies of food shipped at little cost to almost anywhere. That is very good for the health of all of the people of the world now living, but when there becomes a serious shortfall of total food supplies there will be robberies on the trade routes. This will require more policing to prevent the robberies, which will run up the price of food, and decrease the quantity, and decrease the rate of the delivery of food to everyone. That is a positive feedback cycle which will elevate total cost, and decrease supplies, and bring on famine to some regions. At present there are few or no robberies from food distribution channels, but when that begins to be commonplace it means the whole system is in crisis, and near the breaking point. Here in America there hasn’t been anything like that for over a hundred years, even 1816, the year without a summer, wasn’t bad enough to bring on a general famine. However, last month, here in a world of apparent abundance, there was a food crisis in Mexico where many poor people who are living on corn were in a crisis mode because the American farmers were converting their corn into ethanol for transportation fuels. This gives us well fed persons some reason to pause, and think: perhaps the total number of calories needed by the human population, and the total number of calories available for human food are closer together than we generally think.
Obviously there is enough food at present for 6.7 billion people, or else they would not exist. However, in 1960 there were only 3 billion people and that was in the middle of a continuing population explosion so there was plenty of food at that time. There is something obvious, and that is that the amount of land isn’t double what it was 45 years ago. What permitted the increase in population was improved farming methods. But, what is that? Better plowing, better irrigation, better fertilizer, better transportation and better genetic crops. All of those other than the better genes require an input of energy, and most of that energy came directly or indirectly from oil. Without an abundant supply of oil the quantity of food crops would shrink. How much I don’t know but, if the supply of oil dropped by half one would expect that the supply of food would drop by some large fraction of that half. Well, there is coal, and natural gas, and these will help take up the shortfall, but they will require conversions, and that takes energy too, and all of these energy uses are polluting. They all create CO2, and that is already creating the havoc of global warming, melting glaciers, rising sea levels etc.. Well, here is a simple question, “Can the world double its human population?” It did just that in the last 50 years and its current population doubling time rate is about 54-61 years
Each of the positive feedback aggravating factors — population increase, resource consumption, farm land consumption, biological threats, aggressive groups, appropriation, warring states, modern weapons — all are being more stressed, and there in no alleviation of any of this in sight. They are all synergistic, and on a collision course with Doomsday. When they get close to that day there will be a moan heard around the world. We should have done something about that. Or rather being human it will be someone else’s fault, and the plaint will be — They should have done something about that. — But, the time for you to do something is now. I think the Lifehaven Strategy should be supported.
— The time is ripe for Doomsday —