The Earth Is 50% Over Its Human Capacity – We have tapped our planet out

This is the start of part 3 of a 3 part essay on overpopulation and the finite resources that exist on this planet. The only one we have. Science fiction is nonsense. The Mars Mission is never going to happen because we have not solved the fundamental issues. Cosmic radiation is powerful and lethal. We have never found a way to block it. It causes cancer while you are on this planet where we are generally protected by 150,000 ft. of atmosphere, an ozone layer and a powerful magnetic field. Until we can duplicate that we ain’t going nowhere. Then there is the issue of speed. After Mars and Venus, even going full throttle (what ever that is) there is nothing near to us that wouldn’t require years of travel to get to.

So the ramifications of this multipart essay are important. It does come from a Peak Oil perspective so it has all the doom and gloom, survivalist type trademarks, but if you put that aside it is still important.


The Economy Is Not Coming Back

Part III: The Reasons it Shouldn’t

by Gilles d’Aymery

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Many thanks to Brandon Haleamau, Dimitri Oram, and Philip Fornaci for their generous contributions.

Read the first part of this essay, “A Short History of the Maelstrom.”
Read the second part of this essay, “The Reasons it Won’t [come back].”

“This meeting is part of the world’s efforts to address a very simple fact — we are destroying life on Earth.”

—Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program, Nagoya, Japan, October 18, 2010

“We are nearing a tipping point, or the point of no return for biodiversity loss. Unless proactive steps are taken for biodiversity, there is a risk that we will surpass that point in the next 10 years.”

—Ryu Matsumoto, Japanese Environment Minister, Nagoya, Japan, October 18, 2010 (1)

(Swans – November 15, 2010) The first part of this long essay presented an abridged history of the road to the current deep socioeconomic crisis that some observers had predicted, even though no one could pinpoint the exact timing of the implosion. The second part submitted that there are objective factors that explain why the economy is not going “to come back” any time soon. But, more importantly, profound and intensifying environmental and ecological crises militate in favor of not having the economy revert to the shape and form it had. Some of these crises are the object of this third part. In short, to return to business as usual will lead to collective suicide, which Mother Nature will trigger in the not so distant future.

According to the WWF (2) 2010 Living Planet Report, “human demand outstrips nature’s supply.” “In 2007,” the report states, “humanity’s Footprint exceeded the Earth’s biocapacity by 50%.” The Global Footprint Network (GFN) has calculated that on August 21, 2010, the world reached Earth Overshoot Day — that is, “the day of the year in which human demand on the biosphere exceeds what it can regenerate.” As GFN president Mathis Wackernagel stated: “If you spent your entire annual income in nine months, you would probably be extremely concerned. The situation is no less dire when it comes to our ecological budget. Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water and food shortages are all clear signs: We can no longer finance our consumption on credit. Nature is foreclosing.” Though these environmental organizations are promoting policies that are essentially based on demographic and increasingly economic Malthusianism — independent researcher Michael Barker has written in-depth analyses, particularly in regard to the WWF, in these pages (3) — they do acknowledge the gravity of the situation. As the WWF report states, “An overshoot of 50% means it would take 1.5 years for the Earth to regenerate the renewable resources that people used in 2007 and absorb CO2 waste. … CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are far more than ecosystems can absorb.” In other words, the world, or to be more precise, some parts of the world, over-produces and over-consumes natural resources that are being depleted at an exponential rate. That’s the main reason for not having US (and other rich nations’) households “spend again at pre-crisis levels.” (4) The socioeconomic paradigm built on capital accumulation, perpetual material growth, and financial profits for the infinitesimal few must be not just overhauled but buried, and replaced by an equitable new arrangement that takes into account all natural ecosystems.

Fossil fuels

Fossil fuels have been feeding the materialistic economic paradigm, whether under capitalism or socialism, since the early 1800s. Their use increased moderately between 1850 and 1950, thereafter shooting up like a rocket. (5)

According to the US Energy Information Administration, “in 2007 primary sources of energy consisted of petroleum 36.0%, coal 27.4%, natural gas 23.0%, amounting to an 86.4% share for fossil fuels in primary energy consumption in the world.” Today, worldwide transportation depends on oil for 90 percent of its needs. There is not one sector of the economy that is independent of fossil fuels. From 1990 to 2008 the global consumption of fossil fuels has increased as follows: oil: 25 percent, with a stabilization since the beginning of the economic crisis; coal: 48 percent; and natural gas: 54 percent. (6)

With these few facts in mind, where does the world stand in regard to fossil fuels?


Since the beginning of the current latent depression, as oil consumption has flattened or slightly decreased, the topic of peak oil has by and large disappeared in the mainstream media. Were it not for the Blogosphere (7) that keeps bringing facts of oil depletion to the fore, one would believe that everything is fine and dandy — and, anyway, the alarmists are deemed radicals (right or left) and as such are discounted. However, what to make of Charles Maxwell, a senior energy analyst at Weeden & Co. — certainly not a “radical” — who has written and talked extensively about The Gathering Storm? (8)

Or what about Robert Hirsch? Swans readers may recall Hirsch’s 2005 report “Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, and Risk Management” that was highlighted on January 29, 2007, in the dossier, “Energy Resources And Our Future,” by Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. In that report, Hirsch, an oilman par excellence, showed the dire challenges the world faces and how to possibly mitigate them. What happened to that report is best explained by Hirsch himself, which he did in a potent interview (in English) with the French Le Monde on September 16, 2010 (the report was shelved by both the Bush and Obama administrations).

Still, Hirsch remains adamant. In The Impending World Energy Mess, co-authored with Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling (Apogee Prime, October 2010), Hirsch makes the case that oil production is on the decline; that no quick fixes are available; and that societal priorities will have to change drastically.

The research done by the British Chatham House, the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil & Energy Security, the German military analysis, and other US military reports, like the “2010 Joint Operating Environment” (pdf) shows that oil-consuming countries are bracing themselves for the decline of oil and the risks of conflicts it will engender. But for a few scientists supported and financed by energy conglomerates and pro-growth lobbies, the scientific community has by and large reached the conclusion that the decline of oil was not reversible — a conclusion reached as early as 1998 by the Paris-based International Energy Agency though this crucial information was left out of its annual World Energy Outlook report under pressure from powerful players. (9) Keep in mind that peak oil does not mean the end of oil, as some doomsayers claim. It denotes the end of cheap oil on the one hand and on the other the physical (and economic) inability to find new reserves proportionately to the oil being consumed.


Reading the whole 3 parts at one sitting can cross your eyes. I put up the parts that got me going as an energy guy. You can read the rest on your own at the site. Also the organization is asking for donations…I am not a regular reader of their stuff so whether they are worthy or not is up to you to decide.

More tomorrow.


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