The Earth Cries Uncle

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on October 27, 2010

Juan Cole came up with a bit of “food for thought” the other day.
“A report by the World Wide Fund-UK examined the length of time it takes for nature to replenish renewable resources (trees, fish, soil, etc.) that all humans remove in a year. So long as those resources are restocked in a year or less, that situation should be sustainable indefinitely. The report concluded that it takes 1.3 years to replace what humans exploit in a year, and that deficit has been going on since the 1980s. In other words, rather than living on the biological interest, we are drawing down on our basic natural capital.”
David Suzuki, The Legacy

A commenter named “Travis Bickle” countered this assertion.
“This reminds me of “peak oil”, but that would be wrong: more oil can be discovered and there new technologies will emerge for economical extraction as its price rises. To some degree this is true of food, but at the depletion rates he cites we might also end up having to talk about Soyent Green at some point.
It will bear reading Suzuki’s book, but somehow I’m reminded of the Population Bomb, by Paul Ehrlich back in the late sixties, which had similar alarming conclusions. Looking out 20-40 years with straight line projections is at best tedious and simplistic. We now see a bunch of languishing Ethiopian fisherman adapting to bigger fish, and you never know what may happen if Obama gets cornered by domestic political gridlock into rolling the dice on something dramatic with Iran.To anyone who wants to get into specific long range forecasting, say past next week, Good Luck!”

Juan says: October 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm – “Ehrlich’s projections were averted by the green revolution, but the style of agriculture it promoted is itself highly polluting and not sustainable. You can only kick the can down the road so long.”

Michael says: October 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm – “Indeed! One thing lurking down the road is the depletion of cheap phosphorous in about 30 years. This isn’t to say more isn’t available, but thus far a cost effective replacement has not been found. Additionally, all the polluted runoff from here in corn country is killing the Gulf of Mexico. Another as reported in “Ominvore’s Dilemma” is the fact that our corn production requires 10 calories input for each calorie of output. With rising energy prices, this is unsustainable until operations become more efficient.”

The comment about peak oil is telling. The easy to extract oil is long gone. Jed can shoot his rifle all day long without hitting oil. The Deepwater Horizon was drilling in water that is one mile deep. If anything goes wrong, they have to go through 1600 meters of salt water to fix it. Add profit happy companies that don’t worry about safety, and you have a formula for disaster.

Yes, we are feeding a larger population today, and in the rich countries some are quite comfortable. But the earth is paying a price. When you factor in the changing ph balance of the oceans ( from carbon pollution), oil spills, and aggressive fishing, you might have a situation where the oceans are great big salty sludge pits. Maybe some free market motivated scientist will come up with a solution for all this, and kick the can down the road for another hundred years.

Pictures are from ” The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.

2 Responses

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  1. David said, on October 27, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I love Margaret Mitchell Square Beautiful Topless Dolls

    • chamblee54 said, on October 27, 2010 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. Atlanta used to be more fun than it is now.

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