Scientists are Egomaniacal DoucheBags":
"Alas, we have arrived at the sunset of human civilization"
The more I read about it, and the better I understand the way civilisation works, the more I am coming to this conclusion too. Our entire civilisation is based on energy - overwhelmingly on the amazing property of fossil fuels, that they give us back many times more energy than we expend in acquiring them. I can propel a car full of people and luggage hundreds of miles at 70mph just by burning a few gallons of flammable liquid. When you think about it in those terms, it is quite amazing. Think of what would be involved in moving that amount that distance by manpower alone, even at a vastly slower walking pace. Fossil fuels directly or indirectly power virtually all our mechanised transport. They form the basis of many raw materials (e.g. plastics and fertilisers). They give us nearly all of the world's electricity. And they're all finite resources - oil has probably peaked (demand is going up and production down). Same goes for any other raw materials - they are all finite. We can recycle, but that takes energy, which requires more fossil fuels. We can build nuclear power plants, which work on the basis of an even higher energy density fuel than fossil fuels, but we don't have the luxury of many decades to replace fossil fuels with nuclear... and constructing them would require large amounts of energy from fossil fuels, even if there was enough raw materials and nuclear fuel for us to do that. The sun, wind and waves could potentially give us unlimited energy but only at a very , so would require vast amounts of raw materials and fossil fuels to build infrastructure and make a significant difference. Do we have the time and resources (and will) to make such a huge change? I'm very much afraid that we don't.
Then there is food - we are probably near the limit of productivity for the land which is already being farmed, and there aren't vast amounts of free fertile land to convert to farmland, even ignoring the climate consequences of doing so. At the same time, human population continues to increase (nearly 7 billion now). The productivity we have now relies hugely on fossil fuels, for fertiliser and mechanisation. How will we feed 8, 9 or 10 billion people on limited farmland, declining water resources and scarcer and more expensive fossil fuels?
Civilisation is based on energy and predicated on infinite growth, but this is clearly impossible on a finite planet, so it is inevitable that *at the very minimum* the kind of civilisation that we're used to has to end and be replaced by something sustainable. The question is, what size of human population is 'sustainable' on an already over-exploited world? It's hard to see how, with greatly diminished fossil fuels, we could grow enough food for more than 1 or 2 billion people.
And all of this, of course, is before we even consider the chaos looming from disastrous climate change.
For most of my life I've almost unconsciously assumed that life just gets better all the time, that I'll always have a job, that I'll eventually retire in comfort, that my kids will have a decent life etc. Now I'm not nearly so sure. I can't take it all for granted any more. I'm more and more convinced that it will inevitably collapse, and that it will do so soon enough to make life a lot less secure and comfortable for me and my family in the future.
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- BASIC PREMISE + Research Links about Dying Trees
- Two Radio Interviews & the Climate Hawk Pin
- More Links to Research
- Dead Trees - Dying Forests Webpage
- Pillage, Plunder & Pollute, LLC - download my book about trees dying from pollution, published in Spring, 2012
- Whispers From the Ghosting Trees - Guest Post at Greg Laden's Science Blog
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- A Greek Tragedy
- Unintended Consequences
- Go Green or Go Home.
- Going Going Going Gone
- Get Settled with some Popcorn!
- I REST MY CASE.
- Spring! Early!
- Lake Road
- Wild Weather!
- A comment from Icarus
- "Scientists discover link between atmospheric ozon...
- Scientists are Egomaniacal DoucheBags
- Carnage, Unmitigated
- Laugh and be Merry!
- Breaking up is hard to do...
- On the way to Avatar
- Bye Bye Birdie
- Why Humans Doom Themselves
- Oh, this is what I want for the children.
- Yes, Virginia, it can get worse
- Um, somebody tell me why this wouldn't be relevant...
- Shamefully Self-Referential
- Bleak Laughs are Better Than No Laughs
- A Pandemic
- The Sixth Great Extinction
- Why it's Worth It
- ▼ January (33)