Comment 60878

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted March 10, 2011 at 11:36:12

Brilliant article. Love the historic, modern and global contexts. I studied the deforestation of Mt. Lebanon in school for a while - fascinating subject. It looked a little like British Columbia before it became a centre of resource extraction for Babylon, Egypt then Rome. Anyone seen it lately?

There's some basic math here which really scares me. Say what you want about any individual project or issue, but on the whole, several main things are happening:

  • The number of people is growing.
  • The amount of resources consumed per person is growing.
  • The amount of resources consumed per unit of resources extracted is growing (falling ore concentrations, EROI etc)

Even if all of these factors were growing in slow, linear fashions (as straight lines on graphs), they need to be multiplied together to give a true picture of what's happening. And that gives a very different kind of line and graph - an exponential curve. This means that as the process gathers steam, it begins growing far faster than ever before. In a few short years at the "end" it can grow and consume more than in the entire preceding time. It's said that humanity has used more resources since 1950 than in all the time before.

This kind of growth is going to hit a wall, hard. Not only will we begin to run seriously into shortages, but we'll do so at the height of demand. That may be what we're seeing now - but it may also not come for another few decades. If so, it will come at a time where there are far more people than we have now who are all far more dependent on these resources. And it will happen with far less functioning natural systems to fall back on.

Call me a "doomsayer" if ya like, but that's not going to change the numbers. Unless we act, we're all in a LOT of trouble.

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