World population is the most critical issue. facing humanity and is probably unsolvable in the present Malthusian/Darwinian world, but perhaps it will be solved in a new world with the prime directive being survival rights of humanity rather than reproductive rights of the individual.

The second most important issue facing humanity at present is energy. Energy comes in many forms but all of them are ultimately related to nuclear atomic energy release and almost all of that which will be available in the long run will come directly from the sun itself. Uranium and even uranium mined from granite is a limited one time use resource, with a maximum of two hundred years supply at the most. Nuclear fusion would be a permanent source but even a demonstration power generator is twenty years away, no mater how many billions of dollars are poured into the research. The nuclear scientists sometimes quip, “Sustained nuclear fusion has been twenty years away for some sixty years now”. But, that keeps changing all the time—next year it will be sixty one.

Humanities present source of solar power comes in stored form—coal, natural gas and petroleum. This energy went deep into the ground hundreds of millions of years ago over the course of millions of years, but its energy from the heat of oxidation of the carbon has been put back into the surface environment for the last 200 years. That is the CO2 of which we hear so much from the media, but my point is that even if we don’t overheat or choke ourselves on that pollution it is a limited one time use source of energy.

The carbon energy folks tell us not to worry there is plenty of stored energy available. But, they talk in terms of present demand and presently available materials, projected out ten years, rarely more. I take a longer view, and when I stand and ask one of these oil executives how old the White House is they, wonder what I am driving at, until I ask, will the current supply last as long as our young nations national executive building. Or what about as long as the 500 year old Saint Peters at the Vatican. Will our reserves last that long? How about the eighty year old Empire State building? What’s the life expectancy of a new born American child? Eighty years. Will the hydrocarbons last eighty years?

US Energy consumption

U.S. Department of Energy/NREL via Technology Review

The black and grey areas of the charts above are a good proxy for today’s world consumption and it is clear that Hydro 2.8 % and Non-hydro 5.4% will not come remotely close to even serving minimal emergency power needs.

With the world population currently at 7 Billion and projected to double to 14 Billion in 40 years at current rates, a question might be raised, Where is all the energy going to come from to house, cloth and feed those people. That time reference is only half the life expectancy of a newborn baby. To think of these essential supplies running out, or at least becoming very expensive in that short time, should make everyone very apprehensive about our future energy supplies and population and social stability.

Being rather older now, I think about the distant future of humanity, but most young people rightly think about their personal future, but even that shorter personal time reference, the situation looks desperate to me. The not too future of energy for humanity must be derived in some way from daily solar input of energy and not from stored mineral energy. The quantity currently available renewable energy, as seen in the charts above, is less than 10%, which might mean that humanities numbers must be reduced from 7 Billion to 700 Million, if we are to live the way we do. Needless to say, something will happen. I am only stating the obvious.

The energy to care for everyone, 40 years hence, exists only in hallucination.