Saturday, April 9, 2011

Limits to Growth

This is a post I wrote last year on one of the other blogs for which I write

Why are we here? And how did we get here… I think you will find that is the question that people should be asking now, and will be asking more and more over the coming years. Let us look at history just for a while, something which we almost never do, there have been Oh so many instances which we can point to where we as a species, did not learn from the past, and there are two culprits for this beside arrogance and all of the platitudes, like "it can't happen to me", "Think positive", "it will all work out" … this position we are in for one reason, the resources of the planet are finite, the call and demand for those resources by the ever increasing population is causing the very scarcity of the resources to finally be brought into focus… the old scarcity principle is well and truly alive, the trouble is this time it really is real.

Why are we surprised with this… since the Club of Rome was formed in 1968 and with their first major publication in 1972 was Limits to Growth – the Club of Rome, seems to have as its charter .. "to act as a global catalyst for change through the identification and analysis of the crucial problems facing humanity and the communication of such problems to the most important public and private decision makers as well as to the general public."

The original report, examines fives variables which are: world population, industrialization, pollution, food production and resource depletion. An update to the original report came out after 20 years, and another after 30 years (published in 2004). Another is expected in the short term, the 40 year report.

In 2008 Graham Turner at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia published a paper called "A Comparison of `The Limits to Growth` with Thirty Years of Reality". It examined the past thirty years of reality with the predictions made in 1972 and found that changes in industrial production, food production and pollution are all in line with the book's predictions of economic and societal collapse in the 21st century.

There is huge controversy about some of the claims made in the books, however in essence it sheds light on a simple fact, that resources are finite and are therefore limited. This is so important when we look at non-sustainable energy resources such as Petroleum based products (that currently underlies our entire way of living), rather than using sustainable resources for all our product needs.

This of course gets me to another issue, we need an alternative to petroleum products, not to convert basically many food based crops, such as corn etc, as a base for maintaining the status quo and further polluting the atmosphere, we need dramatic research into a sustainable ways to produce hydrogen, as well as any other form of sustainable ways to produce, portable and peak load electrical energy (the somewhat mythical cold fusion comes to mind), some positive early work is already evident - much more emphasis on this work needs to be shown. If we cannot find a sustainable energy source, what do u think will happen to the civilisation as we know it.. as one of the biggest problems with a global market, is how do you ship products from one point to another when there are no oil products to power the ships, road transport, farming machinery and of course airlines. It seems on the outside looking in , countries should be looking to provide incentives to their local industries to at least make them self sustaining in the essentials of life, food, clean water, and shelter – and being communal animals.. a community. Any thoughts…?

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