Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are we are moving beyond peak oil and into "peak everything."?

Exactly one year ago, I posted about peak oil. But can that concept be applied to ALL the worlds resources? Someone thinks so:

The Earth is full
(CNN) -- For 50 years the environmental movement has unsuccessfully argued that we should save the planet for moral reasons, that there were more important things than money. Ironically, it now seems it will be money -- through the economic impact of climate change and resource constraint -- that will motivate the sweeping changes necessary to avert catastrophe.

The reason is we have now reached a moment where four words -- the earth is full -- will define our times. This is not a philosophical statement; this is just science based in physics, chemistry and biology. There are many science-based analyses of this, but they all draw the same conclusion -- that we're living beyond our means.

The eminent scientists of the Global Footprint Network, for example, calculate that we need about 1.5 Earths to sustain this economy. In other words, to keep operating at our current level, we need 50% more Earth than we've got.

[...]

Even the previous heresy, that economic growth has limits, is on the table. Belief in infinite growth on a finite planet was always irrational, but it is the nature of denial to ignore hard evidence. Now denial is evaporating, even in the financial markets. As influential fund manager Jeremy Grantham of GMO says: "The fact is that no compound growth is sustainable. If we maintain our desperate focus on growth, we will run out of everything and crash." Or as peak oil expert Richard Heinberg argues, we are moving beyond peak oil and into "peak everything."

Despite this emerging understanding, the growth concept is so deeply ingrained in our thinking that we will keep pushing economic growth as hard as we can, at whatever cost is required.

As a result, the crisis will be big, it will be soon, and it will be economic, not environmental. The fact is the planet will take further bludgeoning, further depleting its capital, but the economy cannot -- so we'll respond not because the environment is under great threat, but because the science and economics shows that something far more important to us is jeopardized -- economic growth.

[...]

So when this crisis hits, will we respond or will we simply slide into collapse? Crisis elicits a powerful human response, whether it be personal health, natural disaster, corporate crisis or national threat. Previously immovable barriers to change quickly disappear.

In this case, the crisis will be global and will manifest as the end of economic growth, thereby striking at the very heart of our model of human progress. While that will make the task of ending denial harder, it also means what's at risk is, quite simply, everything we hold to be important. The last time this happened was World War II, and our response to that is illustrative of both the denial and delay process and the likely form our response to this crisis will take. [...]

It's not all grim. The author seems to think we may get through it somehow, if we adapt.

It's food for thought. But consider, what if the "peak oil" theory is completely wrong:

Fossil Fuels: They've only just begun

Is the financial crisis really being caused by growth, or is growth just going to be the official scapegoat?
     

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