Science Daily today reports on the Earth’s temperature and it isn’t good for humanity’s long term future. This report is nothing new and merely confirms what the past carefully researched record has been saying right along. So what is being done about it? Nothing that will make the slightest difference. There is some talk about new international laws but even if the most draconian of these were put into effect there is so much inertia in the current trends that global warming will fly right on past what is projected to be the tipping point to global warming disaster. It is much the same with the other impending global disasters.
If one were to compute the synergism of the top five global disaster factors and how they will combine it would be a good indicator of the longest time that might have before the expected disaster date is reached. If we assume no great changes in the world population trends then we can make an estimate with some accuracy, say ten percent, for the not too distant future, say 30 years of total human population. Beyond that is wild speculation. If one has a long enough period of time with some experience of some data then it is possible to project some time into the future. If there is a general trend for a period of time then doubling that time is the maximum that is reasonable for a projection and half that base time is a more reasonable amount of time for a reasonable projection. For the population of the Earth we have a very long experience base and can estimate with some accuracy for perhaps 30 years using the base experience of the last sixty years with a doubling time of about 39 years. The problem with even this modest period of projection is that there will probably be some kinds of events to upset the projection.
Estimating CO2 buildup in the atmosphere can be done with the same kind of provisos for possibly 30 years. It is more difficult to project the growth of consumer purchasing ability for that many years but if we just make straight line projections of what is expected then at least we get a general gross estimate even for the 30 years. Purchasing power equals polluting power and will probably grow in lock step with productivity and because the knowledge of how to be productive can now be communicated quickly on the internet an improvement in productivity in one place can almost instantly be converted into a productivity gain every place. Energy supplies are critical for the projections if alternate energy sources prove feasible, but even if they do there is still a limit to how much oil there is that can be mined but even the most optimistic projections for these minerals gets worrisome in the 30 year time frame. Another big problem amongst the obvious known problems on the near horizon is water. This is a limited resource and although it is usually thought of as renewable much of what makes the modern world productive is mineral water pumped from the ground. That water is a one time usage and a 30 year time frame is going to take a big chunk of the available water so that will become a critical problem.
All of the things discussed are well known but what is being pointed out here is that when any one of them reaches a tipping point that will rapidly overstress all the others. When the population increases each of the other factors becomes more stressed. Even when something like ground water becomes over stressed and scarce it quickly affects all of the other factors. Thus when the world reaches any one of these scarcity points it will trigger a tipping point. The results of that will be unknown but it will certainly be a disaster as far as human society is concerned.
Estimating that tipping point is what is being considered here. The gloomy point of this line of thought is that the tipping point is at the end of a period of sustained positive human growth when humanity is at its finest hour. This seemingly morbid tipping point is going to be at a time when for most people things will be as good as it has ever been. We will be living in heaven. Most people would consider the options other than instant world wide collapse humanity even worse.
The most likely event between now and the over consumption of resources tipping point is a major war between nations trying to get the vital necessities they feel they need for their existence. That of course brings worldwide disaster even before the natural tipping point. There are other possibilities such as a major epidemic bringing about a population reduction but that would be as horrible as a major war to endure but would soon be self terminating. What is unimaginable is that there could be some form of voluntary population reduction cutting the population from 6.8 billion people down to 0.1 billion people but that is what would be required for the Earth to regain an ecological balance such as we had back in 1825.
So the best option is to support The EarthArk Project in hopes of a post event revival of a more informed humanity or go watch a movie such as Dr. Strangelove and just participate in life and enjoy watching the unfolding of the vast pathetic spectacle.