In this continuing series, Tim Murray brings cogent points to Canada and America’s ultimate destination if they continue unending population growth.
In a September 28, 2009 piece, in www.countercurrents.org , fellow Canadian Peter Goodchild brings the points home as to what North Americans face with continued population growth.
“Systemic collapse, societal collapse, the coming dark age, the great transformation, the coming crash, the post-industrial age, the long emergency, socioeconomic collapse, the die-off, the tribulation, the coming anarchy, perhaps even resource wars ― there are many names, and they do not all correspond to exactly the same thing, but there is a widespread belief that something immense and ominous is happening,” said Goodchild. “Unlike those of the Aquarian Age, the heralds of this new era often have impressive academic credentials: they include scientists, engineers, and historians. The serious beginnings of the concept can be found in Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Population, Resources, Environment (1970); Donella H. Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth (1972); and William R. Catton, Jr., Overshoot (1980). What all the overlapping theories have in common can be seen in the titles of those three books.
“Oil depletion is the most critical aspect in the systemic collapse of modern civilization, but altogether this collapse has about 10 principal parts, each with a vaguely causal relationship to the next. Oil, metals, and electricity are a tightly-knit group, as we shall see, and no industrial civilization can have one without the others. As those three disappear, food and fresh water become scarce (fish and grain supplies per capita have been declining for years, water tables are falling everywhere, rivers are not reaching the sea). These five can largely be considered as resource depletion, and the converse of resource depletion is environmental destruction. Disruption of ecosystems in turn leads to epidemics.
“Matters of infrastructure then follow: transportation and communication. Social structure is next to fail: without roads and telephones, there can be no government, no education, no large-scale division of labor. After the above 10 aspects of systemic collapse, there is another layer, in some respects more psychological or sociological, that we might call “the 4 Cs.” The first three are crime (war and crime will be indistinguishable, as Robert D. Kaplan explains), cults, and craziness — the breakdown of traditional law, the tendency toward anti-intellectualism, the inability to distinguish mental health from mental illness. After that there is a more general one that is simple chaos, which results in the pervasive sense that “nothing works anymore.”
“Systemic collapse, in turn, has one overwhelming cause: world overpopulation. All of the flash-in-the-pan ideas that are presented as solutions to the modern dilemma — solar power, ethanol, hybrid cars, desalination, permaculture — have value only as desperate attempts to solve an underlying problem that has never been addressed in a more direct manner. American foreign aid, however, has always included only trivial amounts for family planning; the most powerful country in the world has done very little to solve the biggest problem in the world.”
“Oil is everything,” said Goodchild. “That is to say, everything in the modern world is dependent on oil. From oil and other hydrocarbons we get fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, lubricants, plastic, paint, synthetic fabrics, asphalt, pharmaceuticals, and many other things. On a more abstract level, we are dependent on oil and other hydrocarbons for manufacturing, for transportation, for agriculture, for mining, and for electricity. As the oil disappears, our entire industrial society will go with it. There will be no means of supporting the billions of people who now live on this planet. Above all, there will be insufficient food, and the result will be terrible famine.
“A vast amount of debate has gone on about “peak oil,” the date at which the world’s annual oil production will reach (or did reach) its maximum and will begin (or did begin) to decline. The exact numbers are unobtainable, but the situation can perhaps be summarized by saying that about 20 or 30 major studies have been done, and the consensus is that the most likely date for “peak oil” is 2008, when about 30 billion barrels were produced. (Perhaps of greater importance is the fact that oil production per capita peaked much earlier, in 1979.) On the other side of the peak, however, we are facing a steep drop: 20 billion barrels in 2020, 15 in 2030, 9 in 2040, 5 in 2050.
“In the entire world, there are perhaps a trillion barrels of oil left to extract — which may sound like a lot, but isn’t. When newspapers announce the discovery of a deposit of a billion barrels, readers are no doubt amazed, but they are not told that such a find is only two weeks’ supply.
“As the years go by, new oil wells have to be drilled deeper than the old, because newly discovered deposits are deeper. Those new deposits are therefore less accessible. But oil is used as a fuel for the oil drills themselves, and for the exploration. When it takes an entire barrel of oil to get one barrel of oil out of the ground, as is increasingly the case, it is a waste of time to continue drilling such a well.”
For more works by Peter Goodchild, visit www.countercurrents.org
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715