It is a beautiful spring day here in Berkeley. We are basking in balmy weather while the rest of the US is blanketed in snow and wind and Egypt is roiling in an ongoing protest to oust their self-proclaimed President for Life. The people being interviewed on the news webcasts in these two locations all look well fed, strong and healthy as do those interviewed in Australian typhoon refuge shelters. Those are the desperate places today, but a month ago all those people were living pleasant lives and in a month almost all of them will probably be nearly back to their normal situations.
The compounding of the world’s real problems hasn’t quite been encountered, just yet. The worst problem is that things have been so good for people for the last 200 years that the population has gone from 1 billion to 7 billion people, while the farm-able land has changed very little except to grow thinner in most arable locations. Modern green revolution gets more out of the crops, and modern high powered equipment plows the soil deeper which gets at the older mineral-soil better, so there is more food coming out of the land. This unquestioned abundance is mostly powered by one-time-use minerals, coal, oil, gas and soil but those essentials are limited in supply, and when burned or washed away into the sea they will be gone forever. Also, the burned fuels pollute the air with CO2. That gas is warming the atmosphere which is over-melting the glaciers into non-existence, which unfortunately billions of people in China and India need to grow their crops. They still supply the needed water, but when they are totally gone, which is within the life expectancy you people now living, there will be no replacement. It is inevitable that they will melt away, because the CO2 which is the cause of the warming and the melting is already in the air. Even if we were successful in reducing CO2 production to the pre-industrial levels of 1825, it wouldn’t make any difference. That year was the last time the Earth still digested the man-made CO2 back into its normal librating about the previous existing normal stable point. So even if we instantly totally stopped pumping CO2 into the air the it’s going to get hotter, because as the glaciers and light-reflecting bright snow covering the polar regions melts it exposes more light-absorbing dark soil. It is impossible to prevent even if all humanity instantly stopped using fossil fuels and that wouldn’t happen unless all humanity was instantly eliminated. Which we all absolutely hope won’t happen either.
A Doomsday war might eliminate 99% of humanity and bring back the possibility of an ecological balance, but that would be associated with a massive use of atomic weapons. There the problems lie not so much with the huge but brief energy those weapons yield, but with the sterilizing radio active fallout and the vast fires which would be ignited, burning cities and forests, fires which will yield much more energy than the bombs themselves and unfortunately smoke and CO2. That really screws things up.
When the world famine hits because of the lack of water, land and oil-based power and fertilizer, there will be a major war. That war is inevitable because, when a group of people is faced with extinction from doing nothing but might be able to save itself with aggressive action they will choose war. Thus the ongoing population explosion and the absolute hostility all people have toward population control laws being created and enforced, means the already existing population overshoot makes the Doomsday war inevitable. Population controls would have to be done on a worldwide basis to be effective, as even a small group of free-breeding people could expand exponentially if given a chance. People hate the idea of a single world government as much as an enforced population control policy.
It is only a question of timing as to when Doomsday War begins. It is impossible to predict precisely but the first major food shortfall by China or India, or possibly Russia or Africa or anywhere where the people can not get food from the world market, will be a certain indicator of the nearing end. The first severe crisis from a food shortfall will be probably be alleviated by the world community, but it will be a clear indicator that the end is nigh. Theft of cargo ships on the high seas, not just for ransom money, but for the food being transported on the ships will indicate acute stress and nearness of the end times. Perhaps food-wars and their proxy water-wars will begin even before those types of hijackings. Food-wars will be an even more accurate predictor of imminent catastrophe. But, most people there is no need to worry about these things because we live in a world of obvious abundance, we are presently living in the wonderful part of the precursor times.
The Doomsday precursors are what makes modern life so wonderful. It is a life of apparent unlimited abundance for the future. That permits unlimited fecundity and resultant population explosion. The ease of building ever bigger machines and better methods of extracting ever poorer quality one-time-use minerals from the Earth temporarily sustain our glorious abundance and our huge population. Unfortunately we have already seriously overshot what the Earth can permanently sustain and the days of the Earth not readjusting itself to its previous balanced state are already manifesting. Modern technology will continue to make things even better in many ways, for a while, maybe for fifty years, but probably much less.
Enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink.