There’s another, maybe better, explanation for the conspiracy of blindness to the concert of diminishing resource problems. The lack of a mental model for looking at things as a whole when they have so many seemingly disconnected parts. That’s a real physical barrier to conceptual understanding. That’s also something my method works very well for correcting if you get the feel for it.
I think the best unifying concept to the multiple resource peaks coming at once is that the economic system behaves as a whole, with spare capacity of any part being used to relieve strains on the others, so… all resources then necessarily hit diminishing returns at the same time.
Then the operating plan to accelerate the use of diminishing resources to ‘sustain’ our ‘real’ growth makes clear the problem. So far most people still have in their minds the image that science produced magic before, and the scientist are saying, “well sure why not do it again”, but there’s a catch.
All the scientists, like at the major presentation of the solution path I was at last night, say “we’ve solved nearly all of it except the price…”. That, of course, is the unique signal of terminally diminishing returns, when everywhere you look everything you want costs more and more instead of less and less as real growth requires.
It’s not that there are not technology would not continue to evolve, it’s that growth for the highest productivity sectors will drive the cost of resources ever higher and causing a real reduction of resources available to everyone else. It means moving into growth for some within a zero sum and then a negative sum game (now that we left the positive sum game behind by wasting our opportunity).
From: email@example.com; Nick
Sent: Saturday, May 31, 2008 6:22 PM
Subject: RE: Highlighting the challenges of a planet with 9 billion people
I tend to agree that we cannot reach 9 billion. The assumption that we can is based upon a perception that population is exempt from economic compulsions, i.e. that all the resources necessary to attain that population will be redistributed to support those at the bottom. This will not occur. The recent acceleration of the food crisis by diversion of increasing percentages of grain to biofuels and beef is an illustration.
Moreover, peak oil has been followed in rapid succession by peak grain, peak water, peak soil, and if the very rapid price increase of the last year indicating, peak steel. The peak of one commodity can be accommodated by replacements, readjustments of priorities, etc. “Peak everything” of necessity also includes peak population.
The extent of our blindness to the problem is illustrated in my mind by two items particularly: (1) the conspiracy of silence among the major environmental groups over the last decade on the population problem, and (2) a recent series of Chevron ads asking “Population is increasing by 70 million per year – is that the problem, or is that the solution?” and concluding that “People are the ultimate energy resource” so population increase is its own solution. I’m paraphrasing.
So nothing will be done until it is too late, and all indications are IMHO that the collapse will begin within a few years, at a peak probably about 8 billion.. Illustrative are the reports that the food crisis is already causing the middle class through much of the world to cut medical expenditures. Nick