The Ultimate Debacle?
Ted Folkert – May 17, 2019
Consider this series of events and functions of society:
Prosperity for all of Earth’s inhabitants requires a thriving economy everywhere continuously. Without such, the provision of food, shelter and clothing for 7.7 billion people would not be possible. It would not be feasible or possible for every man, woman and child on the planet to grow their own food and provide the other necessities of life.
A functioning economy requires continuous production of goods and services and continuous consumption of Earth’s finite resources of raw materials and the continuous generation of energy to sustain the production required.
Our primary method of providing the required energy is the burning of fossil fuels which envelops the planet in a layer of carbon dioxide which alters the atmosphere and interferes with natural weather patterns, causing continuous warming of the planet. This warming further exacerbates weather patterns which will continue to limit the ability to provide adequate production of food and shelter for our 7.7 billion people. Furthermore, this carbon dioxide envelope, if not controlled, as many of our leading scientists tell us, will eventually render the planet unable to support human life.
Some of our leading economists tell us that capitalism, the system by which such resources are currently distributed, requires continuous growth to function properly. This requires continuous and increasing consumption of our finite resources, which causes a continuous and increasing impact on Earth’s ability to support human life.
Consequently, to provide food, shelter and clothing for 7.7 billion people it seems that we must eventually destroy the ability of the planet to support human life.
So, the question is, can we invent, discover, create, or engineer our way through this debacle? Or does every potential solution seem impossible to achieve?
What are the obvious considerations?
- We now have 1.2 billion automobiles on the planet
- Most of them burn fossil fuels, emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
- It took 200,000 years for the population of the planet to reach 1 billion
- It then took only 200 hundred years to reach 7 billion
- The population is now 7.7 billion
- The population is projected to be between 8 billion and 17 billion by 2100
- There is said to be 333 cubic miles of water on Earth, of which only 2.5% is fresh water and only .3% is on the surface and available for consumption. Desalination is a possible solution but the cost is enormous and it would require an additional impact on the consumption of natural resources and the pollution of the atmosphere.
- If everyone on Earth were to adopt the average diet of the United States, we would need to convert all our habitable land to agriculture, and we’d still be 38 percent short. For a New Zealand diet, we’d need almost twice as much habitable land as we now have.
These statements of fact are perhaps disputable, however, if they prove to be true, what does the ultimate ability of the planet to support life look like for future generations?
Could this be the ultimate debacle?