The chart above shows a food shortfall as a precursor to the Doomsday event. What has already happened is a decrease of oil production from its peak in 1980. It was upon oil which modern high tech civilization was founded, and upon which it currently flourishes. The absolute oil production remains quite high, and the shortfall in power production it previously provided is now being taken up by other sources, mainly coal and natural gas. With the advent of the Green Revolution there is considerable support for more atomic, solar and wind power, and because of the rising cost of oil there will soon come a time when the price of those alternate sources of power will be lower than oil. However, none of these newer green sources of energy do anything substantial to improve fertilizer production or soil creation, and with the massive human population and continuing population increase, with its corresponding demand for more food, these will soon become the most critical. Very little is ever mentioned about agricultural fertilizer, but without it our agricultural production would not sustain our current population let alone the much bigger one that will soon demand to be fed. What is most likely to happen when the food shortfall becomes visible to the public will be a slowing down of human reproduction. This already happened with some of the people who read The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich and David Brower, but until reproduction is controlled world wide there will continue to be an expansion of human biomass until the last bite of food is consumed.
There are no successful predators upon humans except other humans, and so if we are to maintain a stable population we must control our own reproductive capacities. All control of population is by current moral standards repugnant, but what are the alternatives? It can be done by homicide via wars or with enforced population control. Population control is anathema, and unenforceable so the alternative is war which is hateful, but can be justified and supported by opposing populations being inflamed with centuries old political rhetoric. Unfortunately, with H-bombs as the ultimate weapon, and no way to limit their ultimate destructive power rationally there will be a Doomsday war as pictured above.
Endless economic growth rests on a belief in the limitless abundance of the natural world. But when did people begin to believe that societies should—even that they must—expand in wealth indefinitely? In The Great Delusion, the historian and storyteller Steven Stoll weaves past and present together through the life of a strange and brooding nineteenth-century German engineer and technological utopian named John Adolphus Etzler, who pursued universal wealth from the inexhaustible forces of nature: wind, water, and sunlight. The Great Delusion neatly demonstrates that Etzler’s fantasy has become our reality and that we continue to live by some of the same economic assumptions that he embraced. Like Etzler, we assume that the transfer of matter from environments into the economy is not bounded by any condition of those environments and that energy for powering our cars and iPods will always exist. Like Etzler, we think of growth as progress, a turn in the meaning of that word that dates to the moment when a soaring productive capacity fused with older ideas about human destiny. The result is economic growth as we know it, not as measured by the gross domestic product but as the expectation that our society depends on continued physical expansion in order to survive.
Book description: Thomas L. Friedman’s phenomenal number-one bestseller The World Is Flat has helped millions of readers to see the world in a new way. In his brilliant, essential new book, Friedman takes a fresh and provocative look at two of the biggest challenges we face today: America’s surprising loss of focus and national purpose since 9/11; and the global environmental crisis, which is affecting everything from food to fuel to forests. In this groundbreaking account of where we stand now, he shows us how the solutions to these two big problems are linked–how we can restore the world and revive America at the same time.
Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” Already the earth is being affected in ways that threaten to make it dangerously unstable. In just a few years, it will be too late to fix things–unless the United States steps up now and takes the lead in a worldwide effort to replace our wasteful, inefficient energy practices with a strategy for clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation that Friedman calls Code Green.
This is a great challenge, Friedman explains, but also a great opportunity, and one that America cannot afford to miss. Not only is American leadership the key to the healing of the earth; it is also our best strategy for the renewal of America.
In vivid, entertaining chapters, Friedman makes it clear that the green revolution we need is like no revolution the world has seen. It will be the biggest innovation project in American history; it will be hard, not easy; and it will change everything from what you put into your car to what you see on your electric bill. But the payoff for America will be more than just cleaner air. It will inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time–nation-building in America–by summoning the intelligence, creativity, boldness, and concern for the common good that are our nation’s greatest natural resources.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded is classic Thomas L. Friedman: fearless, incisive, forward-looking, and rich in surprising common sense about the challenge–and the promise–of the future.
Book Description: Many people will remember that Rachel Carson predicted a silent spring, but she also warned of a fruitless fall, a time when “there was no pollination and there would be no fruit.” The fruitless fall nearly became a reality last year when beekeepers watched one third of the honeybee population—thirty billion bees—mysteriously die. The deaths have continued in 2008.
Rowan Jacobsen uses the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder to tell the bigger story of bees and their’ essential connection to our daily lives. With their disappearance, we won’t just be losing honey. Industrial agriculture depends on the honeybee to pollinate most fruits, nuts, and vegetables—one third of American crops. Yet this system is falling apart. The number of these professional pollinators has become so inadequate that they are now trucked across the country and flown around the world, pushing them ever closer to collapse.
By exploring the causes of CCD and the even more chilling decline of wild pollinators, Fruitless Fall does more than just highlight this growing agricultural crisis. It emphasizes the miracle of flowering plants and their pollination partners, and urges readers not to take for granted the Edenic garden Homo sapiens has played in since birth. Our world could have been utterly different—and may be still.
Each of these books points to the basic problem of modern society of all society, of all living things—we are dependent upon the Earth to sustain us. The real challenge for humans, if they want to have a long term stable society, is to have a stable population living within the means that can be supplied by the Earth.