Tag Archives: peak oil

The coming chaos

(Survival Manual/2. Social issues/The coming chaos)

THE COMING CHAOS: PART I

Planning and puzzle solving
Trends, expectations, and the  daily events of life can be thought of like scattered colored pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. From your experience and the short historical perspective of your life, you form an idea of the current and probable security provided by your environment. You look at the assembled parts of the picture and develop a general idea of the completed future image and your place in it.

 In good times, there are fewer puzzle pieces and each seems big, so putting a few parts together allows you to easily imagine the larger-view of the future.
In harder times, when nations and huge international (food, banking, energy) industries have financial, political and military reasons for hiding their ‘game hand’, the important pieces of information become numerous and small.
As global and national economic times deteriorate and you continue about your daily life, you have an ever decreasing  intuitive  understanding of conditions and less accurate view of the big picture, resulting in a diminished capacity to carry about your long term life business effectively.  The ebb and flow of your stored money, your potential energy is generally: Where to store these hard-earned savings? How much to save over any given period of time?  What is the best long-term manner in which to spend or store large blocks of value when a given need is seen  arising?

During increasingly difficult economic times, you still put those pieces of the puzzle together in your mind, the same as you always have, but the scale and quality of the information you receive, has changed.
Think of this as somewhat related to inflation. When inflations first begins, no one sees it for what it is, but as prices creep up, inflation slowly becomes visible and irritating to everyone, only then do people individually begin to change their behavior in self-interest.
Meanwhile, the entities causing the inflation want to cover their tracks, so information given to the public is doctored, altered and diminished, official news bites are false, designed to keep the populace calm, to keep them from acting in their own best interest.

Because the normal indicators are not functioning in the accustomed way, you have to rely on other lagging indicators to replace the ones previously used. This requires work, so most people, being busy, go with the flow and in doing so no longer have that ‘more accurate’ larger-view of the future which they once held.

It’s all about money, and if not money, power. What can you lose by not adjusting your view of the future to fit the current cycle of economic reality? You can lose: the value of your 401K, value in your Treasury notes and bonds, long-term stock valuations, your home equity, interest from saving in bank instruments, while paying higher local-state-Federal tax rates, food, energy, maybe even a Value Added Tax.

In todays context, if you knew how these broad investments were falling out of favor, you’d have begun putting your savings into other assets, ie., certain foreign currencies, gold, silver, precious metals stocks, energy production and infrastructure, a little more food in the back of your cupboard before prices rose, maybe cash in the cookie jar.
Believing there would always be plentiful oil and gasoline, maybe you bought a large auto– without  the  knowledge that within a few years gasoline would be  much more expensive in real terms and there might even be rationing. By then, with the economy, still in a recession, with everyone seeing higher gas prices and few having cash to spend, you would have to take a major loss on trading in the ‘gas hog’ vehicle for a smaller more gas efficient model.
Perhaps, with  better information you might have bought a townhouse close to your local shopping district, instead of a stand alone house in the suburbs, ‘gas-miles’ from the shopping district.
Rather than buying a recreational vehicle, you might have bought a small parcel of rural property for camping or a cabin, and used a car top carrier or utility trailer to carry gear to your private bit of nature. The rural property could also be used if for a while, things grew unsafe in the city.

Money is also supposed to be a store of wealth and accountability.
It’s not that ‘prices are going up, the value of your money is going down.
Note: 50 years ago, in 1961, the price of one gallon of regular gasoline cost 31¢, that would be a quarter, a nickel and a penny, 31¢ . The quarter you would have paid for the gas with, was what we now call a ‘silver quarter’ containing 0.18084 ounces of silver. Real money-silver coinage was discontinued by 1965, where upon, nearly valueless copper clan coins were issued and which we still use today.
The current value of that common old 25¢ coin is now $7.05 (silver spot price= $39.01). Today, 10 August 2011, a gallon of local regular gasoline costs $3.59, so that silver quarter would buy practically 2 gallons of gas,  2 gallons x $3.59/gallon=$7.18, while the value of the silver quarter is $7.05.
And this is why during the last 70 years we’ve gone from a condition where one worker could support his family, to a time when it took both Mom and Dad to support the family, and now takes Mom and Dad, credit cards, and  maybe a 2nd home mortgage to provide the same.

At some levels of societal organization, it’s all about money or power; on lower levels it’s about not being robbed and left to face the economic winter (depression, unemployment or old age) with out the safety net provided by your savings–the product of your labor.
In the deep past, when men depended directly on the land for their livelihood, when a robber Prince took part of that property the peasant family had less resilience to survive. Today we don’t have ‘land’, per sae, we have money and investments, when the modern version of the robber Prince takes your property, they take your money or your future claim to the things money can buy, leaving you less resilient to survive.

If you prepare for a man-made crisis, you will be on the same path as some one preparing for natural disasters: hurricanes, power outages, etc. Man-made vs. Natural disasters differ mostly by scale and duration. [Mr Larry]

The Coming Chaos, will turn over a few pieces of the puzzle, ones that you may not have seen, ones that give you a somewhat larger view.  Be aware, that sometimes its better not seeing to your life’s horizon.

The world is in a state of constant flux and continuous change and there is nothing so certain in life as uncertainty. None of us know what the coming years will bring. One must be wary both of the innocent and rose-tinted view that the US and hence the global economy are just fine and the good times are about to roll again and of fear mongers and prognosticators of doom whose only message seems to be ‘resistance is futile’.
Meanwhile, with the evolution of electronics into computer, satellite, Internet, and digital information technologies, the recent decades have created a web of global interdependence, of ‘just-in-time’ supply, transportation, international banking, a layering of complex financial interactions and the immediate spread of information. Globally, human society has accumulated such complex interdependencies that it has affectively become like a spider’s web – where a disturbance of one strand shakes the entire web. Further, this intertwined body of global humanity has reached critical points in its equilibrium. It is at a point of dynamic, critical vulnerability; and at such moments the slightest of impacts in one sphere of global concern can set into motion an unpredictable chain of events across the interconnections.
It is only common sense, with the fragility of our system, to prepare for any disturbance with supplies. How long could you survive with what is on hand? Think about storing extra food, water, fuel, and whatever you think you need to get through. If one very large, or several moderate to large (Volcanic Explosivity Index) volcanoes go off, we may experience very muted daylight for several seasons to a year and unable to grow enough food for even the prosperous nations. Are you even prepared for the possibility that your communities electric power could go out for a week or more, during the summer, during the winter?

Why We Need Insurance
Many of us have never had to make a claim on our insurance. Therefore when we continue to write an insurance payment check month after month, we feel as if we are pouring money down the drain. Even though you’ve never had to make a claim on your insurance, there is a good reason that it’s there. Naturally, insurance is there to protect your you, your family and your investments, but let’s face it; many of us wouldn’t bother with insurance if it wasn’t required by law, or the bank.

How we buy insurance
First, we decide which threats to protect ourselves from, then we find a way of doing so at the lowest possible cost.
Survivalism is basically the same. I’ve created a list of survival threats at the side of the page. Some events are so destructive that they are not worth worrying about and have not been included, i.e., multiple impacts from a fragmented comet, or a ‘nearby’ star emitting a planetary sterilizing gamma ray burst.. There is no way of protecting yourself against Hollywood style events so there is no point in spending money on them. The best value for your money is to identify threats that you think are moderately likely and that may be dealt with easily. Most threats require the same core defensive measures with varying specifics.
Everyone should take some simple steps to protect themselves and their families from potential real risks that are on the horizon, but don’t take my word for it. Answer the following questions:
1. Is your job & income 100% secure?
2. Would you be able to have the basic necessities (shelter, food, water) if you lost your income for a prolonged period of time?
3. Would you be ok if your local grocery stores didn’t have an inventory resupply for a few weeks?
4. How would your finances hold up in a currency crisis where the dollar rapidly lost much of its value?
5. Would you be able to protect your family in the event of increased crime and decreased police presence?

Ready America
From the FEMA ‘Ready America’ website:
“…Each person’s needs and abilities are unique, but every individual can take important steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies and put plans in place. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan, you can be better prepared for any situation. A commitment to planning today will help you prepare for any emergency situation. Preparing makes sense. Get ready now.
• Consider how a disaster might affect your individual needs.
• Plan to make it on your own, at least for a period of time. It’s possible that you will not have access to a medical facility or even a drugstore.
• Have a week or longer supply of medications and medical supplies
• Identify what kind of resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if they are limited or not available.
• Buy or make an emergency supply kit.
• Have copies of emergency documents
• Create a support network…”

Headline: “15 Million Americans Infected with Xyz- Flu”
“You just heard it on the evening news. It’s now a reality. Your city has been locked down. There are roadblocks on all arteries in and out of the city. No one can come in or go out of the area.
The grocery stores, the gas stations, and all other public facilities are closed. Everyone has been told to stay in their homes.
Your family has five days of food left. Seven days, if you and your wife eat much less, and give it to the kids. Water is only sporadically available when you turn on the faucet.
You realize you should have thought about the news, what it might mean, but you remained a spectator of the events unfolding around yourself and in the world. You wonder how you missed the signs. You feel guilty and powerless because you don’t know how you will feed your family.”

Things you should know
• Don’t rely on the government to help you. As big as they are, when disaster hits they’re both: 1) too big a bureaucracy, 2) with too few people on the ground, to help a large number of people in a reasonable amount of time.
• Don’t rely on utility companies to help you. They will have priorities and will be working almost around the clock, to get things restored, but, a) it won’t be fast enough no matter who you are, and b) you’re probably not a priority. Don’t complain about it – be prepared for it.
• Don’t rely on your Insurance company for anything more than a check. Insurance is about money, it’s not their job to repair your home or put your life back in order. While some might refer you to local contractors, many do not, and in times of overwhelming need, both adjusters and contractors are going to be hard to come by.
• Know what your area is at risk for (i.e. Seattle has a major earthquakes every 100 years or so, and moderately damaging windstorms every 10 years) and be prepared to take care of yourself for awhile.
• The government’s, ‘Three Days of Self Sufficiency’ campaign, is woefully inadequate.
• Mankind endures ‘an episode of great wealth destruction’ at least once every century. People should prepare to ride out a disaster, be it a tsunami, a market meltdown, an EMP grid down scenario, volcanic winter, deadly pandemic or Islamic terrorists with a dirty (radioactive materials) bomb.
• The rich (all of us in the Western world) get complacent, assuming we’ll have time “to extricate ourselves and our wealth” when trouble comes. The rich are mistaken, as ‘the Holocaust’ proved.
• People generally do not feel the unthinkable will happen to them. However, many times there are situations out of our control that affect us in a big way. Major events that affect the food supply are especially troubling.
• Events move much faster than anyone expects’ and the barbarians are on top of you before you can escape.

The times that we endure today will be the history that others will read tomorrow. History has shown us events that have destroyed some societies and created new ones to take their place. Those who rise to power often decide the fate of millions. And there have been times when a people rise up as a nation, united to achieve mutual goals of prosperity and hope for a better future.
Today as a nation, Americans must uphold their moral convictions and beliefs that a nation of people who stand united will not perish. There are events occurring in this country that could change the very existence of our nation as we know it. And no one person or political party can decide the best course of action to ensure our prosperity and hopes will not be taken away from us. The answer to our problems is right in front of us, and we must cling to it as if it is our only hope, because it is the only thing ‘We The People’ have left: The Constitution of the United States of America .

Our policy makers are in a Catch 22. It’s checkmate, and the only thing that we can do is delay… to a point.
We need austerity measures, much more severe than those of France, Greece and the rest of Europe, but mass cuts in entitlement programs that tens of millions of Americans have come to depend on will lead to serious problems, not just for our economy, but on a social level as well. What happens if 40 million people were to lose their food stamps, or 20 million people lose their unemployment benefits? Many are already at the breaking point, if the government were to stop the gravy train, as Chapman puts it, the system would get very chaotic, very quickly. Thus, we just don’t see something like that happening anytime soon. But make no mistake, the current entitlement system, driven mainly by US government borrowing, is unsustainable. So, whether we like it or not, the cut to entitlement programs is coming one way or the other.
Politicians are just not going to do it. For many, it would be political suicide.
The end result we foresee is, as Chapman points out, ‘a high inflationary environment that will make it impossible for the average food stamp, unemployment or welfare recipient to purchase essential goods like food, energy and shelter’.
We’re seeing it in Social Security already, albeit in limited form. The government has not re-adjusted social security payments higher because the CPI inflation index has not shown an increase over the last couple years. However, the CPI does not include calculations for food and energy because our government says those are highly volatile and should not be counted. Thus, Social Security recipients are now paying more for food than they were two years ago, but there has been no adjustment made in their benefits. They’ve essentially taken a mandated pay cut as the US dollar has lost value.
This is exactly what we will see in other entitlement programs. Now imagine for a minute what it will look like if/when inflation is running rampant at 10% – 15% per year, and entitlement adjustments only account for 1% to 3% increases.
A lot of people will go broke a whole lot faster.
We’re not talking about people not being able to buy iPads, new home decor, or Christmas presents for the kids. No, we’re talking about being able to put food on the table, paying the rent for shelter and putting gas in the car.
This can get very ugly. As Peter Schiff previously pointed out, ‘a great number of Americans will be impoverished’ and, according to Gerald Celente, ‘many may take to the streets in riots and protests circa 2011 and beyond’.

 40 ways to lose your future
June 2009, TheAutomaticEarth.com
People have been asking how we see the future unfold. Here is a brief summary (in no particular order and not meant to be exhaustive) of the ground we have consistently covered here at TAE over the last year and a half, and before that elsewhere.
1.  Deflation is inevitable due to US financial Ponzi dynamics
2.  The collapse of credit will crash the money supply as credit is the vast majority of the effective money supply
3.  Cash will be king for a long time
4.  Printing one’s way out of deflation is impossible as printing cannot keep pace with credit destruction (the net effect is contraction)
5.  Debt will become a millstone around people’s necks and bankruptcy will no longer be possible at some point
6.  In the future the consequences of unpayable debt could include indentured servitude, debtor’s prison or being drummed into the military
7.  Early withdrawals from pension plans will be prevented and almost all pension plans will eventually default
8.  We will see a systemic banking crisis that will result in bank runs and the loss of savings
9.  Prices will fall across the board as purchasing power collapses
10.  Real estate prices are likely to fall by at least 90% on average (with local variation)
11.  The essentials will see relative price support as a much larger percentage of a much smaller money supply chases them
12.  We are headed eventually for a bond market dislocation where nominal interest rates will shoot up into the double digits
13.  Real interest rates will be even higher (the nominal rate minus negative inflation)
14.  This will cause a tsunami of debt default which is highly deflationary
15.  Government spending (all levels) will be slashed, with loss of entitlements and inability to maintain infrastructure
16.  Finance rules will be changed at will and changes applied retroactively (eg short selling will be banned, loans will be called in at some point)
17.  Centralized services (water, electricity, gas, education, garbage pick-up, snow-removal etc) will become unreliable and of much lower quality, or may be eliminated entirely
18.  Suburbia is a trap due to its dependence on these services and cheap energy for transport
19.  People with essentially no purchasing power will be living in a pay-as-you-go world
20.  Modern healthcare will be largely unavailable and informal care will generally be very basic
21.  Universities will go out of business as no one will be able to afford to attend
22.  Cash hoarding will continue to reduce the velocity of money, amplifying the effect of deflation
23.  The US dollar will continue to rise for quite a while on a flight to safety and as dollar-denominated debt deflates
24.  Eventually the dollar will collapse, but that time is not now (and a falling dollar does not mean an expanding money supply, i.e. inflation)
25.  Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing in a positive feedback spiral, so both are likely to be protracted
26.  There should be no lasting market bottom until at least the middle of the next decade, and even then the depression won’t be over
27.  Much capital will be revealed as having been converted to waste during the cheap energy/cheap credit years
28.  Export markets will collapse with global trade and exporting countries will be hit very hard
29.  Herding behavior is the foundation of markets
30.  The flip side of the manic optimism we saw in the bubble years will be persistent pessimism, risk aversion, anger, scapegoating, recrimination, violence and the election of dangerous populist extremists
31.  A sense of common humanity will be lost as foreigners and those who are different are demonized
32.  There will be war in the labor markets as unemployment skyrockets and wages and benefits are slashed
33.  We are headed for resource wars, which will result in much resource and infrastructure destruction
34.  Energy prices are first affected by demand collapse, then supply collapse, so that prices first fall and then rise enormously
35.  Ordinary people are unlikely to be able to afford oil products AT ALL within 5 years
36.  Hard limits to capital and energy will greatly reduce socioeconomic complexity (see Tainter)
37.  Political structures exist to concentrate wealth at the centre at the expense of the periphery, and this happens at all scales simultaneously
38.  Taxation will rise substantially as the domestic population is squeezed in order for the elite to partially make up for the loss of the ability to pick the pockets of the whole world through globalization
39.  Depressive political structures will arise, with much greater use of police state methods and a drastic reduction of freedom
40. The rule of law will replaced by the politics of the personal and an economy of favors (i.e., endemic corruption)

We Have Some Hard Decisions Ahead
The economy has taken a dramatic turn for the worse for many Americans. While many individuals and households have had the financial resources and good fortune which will allow them to weather economic uncertainty, many will simply not be able to maintain their standard of living. Many two income households are now one income households and that income may have decreased due to companies cutting back on work hours. This situation has been occurring for many Americans for many, many months, forcing people to assess what is important and downgrade their lifestyle. The time to make hard decisions has arrived, and will dramatically alter the lives of many for years.
People who relied on spouses to pay the bills are now paying the bills. Those who have relied on savings and unemployment benefits to maintain their standard of living are now faced with the reality that those resources are exhausted. Bills are not being paid. Healthcare premiums are not being paid. Automobile and household maintenance is being neglected, which will create costlier repairs down the road. Simply put:
•  You might have to stop making your car payment and save those payments up to buy a used car. The car you currently have financed will be repossessed.
•  You might have to stop paying your mortgage and save those payments up to move into an apartment.
•  You might have to give up your healthcare, your magazine subscription, your club membership, your vacation plans, your charitable donations, your cell phone, your internet access or home phone service, your lawn care service, your financial support that you provide to friends and family who are having financial problems themselves, and many more expenditures not listed here.
•  You might have to contact an attorney to discuss bankruptcy.
•  You might have to sell off your possessions and assets.
•  You might have to move in with other families, friends, relatives, or shelters provided by the government or charitable organizations.
•  You may come to realize that what you thought was valuable and important to you has no value or significance at all.

Basic human needs will become the biggest priority in your life after you shed (lose the use of) the things that have merely brought comfort and convenience to you. You may be forced to downscale your lifestyle so dramatically that it will cause you to question your own intelligence and hindsight for not planning for such a life changing event.
The things that you have always taken for granted could become difficult to obtain now that there is no longer enough money to buy those things. Basic needs become vital issues that need to be addressed:
•  Food and ‘non-electric’–with the means both to prepare it and store it.
•  Portable water filtering devices and containers to store water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
•  Over the counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, first aid supplies, and some basic health and first aid literature in book form. Individuals using prescription medications, or require medical attention, will need to determine their best course of action during a period of financial distress.
•  The need for shelter may require the purchase of a tent, camper trailer, and other camping equipment if you can no longer provide an actual roof over your head and have no one to turn to.
•  The need for personal protection will become more obvious as desperate people begin to take desperate actions to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. The level of security you choose will be determined by your location, your finances, and your personal views and beliefs. If chaotic conditions occur, lawless activity will surely follow. Past incidents of disaster and mayhem give much testimony to this.

A look at the civil unrest that can arise when a government just ‘proposes’ austerity measures
“French gov’t undercuts Senate on retirement bill
Oct 21, 11:40 AM (ET), By ANGELA CHARLTON
PARIS (AP) – The French government is short-circuiting a protracted debate in the Senate on a bill raising the retirement age to 62, brushing aside some 250 amendments.
Faced with widespread protests against the bill, the government is ordering Senators to vote on a package of its own design, using Article 44-3 of the Constitution that allows it to step into the parliamentary debate.
PARIS (AP) – Protesters blockaded Marseille’s airport, Lady Gaga canceled concerts in Paris and rioting youths attacked police in Lyon on Thursday ahead of a tense Senate vote on raising the retirement age to 62.
A quarter of the nation’s gas stations were out of fuel, despite President Nicolas Sarkozy’s orders to force open depots barricaded by striking workers. Gasoline shortages and violence on the margins of student protests have heightened the standoff between the government and labor unions that see retirement at 60 as a hard-earned right.
Shopping streets stood nearly empty Thursday in central Lyon. The Bistrot de Lyon didn’t put tables outside as usual out of fear of clashes. “We’ve seen a reduction of 30-35 percent of business overall, for the last few days with the rioting in town. Lunchtime, nothing is going on, we’ve no one. It’s more than calm,” said restaurant manager Philippe Husser.
In Nanterre, the scene of running street battles between masked and hooded youth and riot police in recent days, the scene Thursday morning was calm, said Mehdi Najar, one of a few dozen red-jacketed mediators organized by the city hall to try to keep the peace.
In Marseille, hundreds of workers blocked all access to the main airport for about three hours early Thursday. Passengers tugged suitcases along blocked roads as they hiked to the terminal, before police came in and the protesters dispersed.
Wildcat protests blocked train lines around Paris on Thursday. Protesters in cars and trucks blocked several highways around the country, from near Calais in the north to the Pyrenees in the south, according to the national road traffic center.”

Coming Chaos: No Banks, No Public Facilities, No Food and Rampaging Gangs of Desperate People
Bob Chapman, of The International Forecaster, says it’s time to prepare for the worst, comparing our impending economic crisis to that which was experienced at the onset of 1348 and the following century and a half.

Flashback to 1348:
The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population, reducing the world’s population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as creating a series of religious, social and economic upheavals which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe’s population to recover. The plague returned at various times, resulting in a larger number of deaths, until it left Europe in the 19th century.
While Chapman does not suggest we will experience our own black plague pandemic, he predicts that the consequences of our economic collapse may lead to total destabilization and wars, much like post-plague Europe.
As you are now well aware Fannie and Freddie are going to punish people who have stopped paying their mortgages, who can pay them, and who are paying other bills instead. This leaves lenders with foreclosures and much more inventory than they ever imagined. This additional problem will bring on the double dip that Wall Street and Washington so fear.
As a result of this and other failures we are about to experience the worst economic collapse since 1348. The stock market is topping out readying itself for its most disastrous fall in history. The fall will be followed by years of depression, all of which has been deliberately created to bring the world economically and financially to its knees in an attempt to bring about world government by Illuminists.
Some market analysts understand where the market is headed, but most who do understand, write and talk about the mundane observable trappings and not what the situation is really all about. We have several analysts talking about a market collapse. They do not talk about the real forces behind our misfortune.
There are always these lone voices in the wilderness, which at best – some 15% of the populace – listens too. You had better listen this time because it could well cost you not only your assets, but your life, especially when another war is being prepared for you to engage in. Nothing is really as it seems to be and there are no coincidences. You are about to enter a world of chaos from which few will survive unscathed. A world of no banks, no public facilities, no food and rampaging gangs of desperate people. Unemployment of 50% and little law and order. Violence will be rife. This is not a pretty picture, but we have spared you the details. The world had better wake up fast so they’ll be prepared to deal with what is to come. If you were not aware of it the dark side really exists.
We are now entering the next to last phase of our journey. The wanton creation of wealth, inflation and perhaps hyperinflation, which will rob you of your assets. A stealth attack on what you have left by the people who control your government. Such monetary creation is the only way these people can keep the game going. They know it won’t last, but they proceed anyway. For awhile they’ll keep the multitudes at bay with extended unemployment and food stamps, but that will fade in time for lack of financial control, as the system begins to break down.
You already see all fiat currencies under fire, as is sovereign debt. Can it get any worse? Of course it can, and it will. Implosion is the word everyone is going to discover and understand.
The picture Bob Chapman paints is one that may lead to an initial reaction of, “What? No way that can happen.” Perhaps it can’t happen. Perhaps, it really is different this time and our benevolent leaders and the powers that be are capable of managing this crisis. Perhaps they will restore jobs to pre-crash levels. Perhaps home prices will go back up to record 2006 levels because tens of thousands of buyers will appear in the market. Perhaps the Federal reserve will be able to sell of their toxic assets, not have to print more money to bail anyone out, and the world will demand that the dollar remain the reserve currency of choice. Perhaps all of these people in delinquency on their mortgages will be able to catch up on those late payments. Perhaps governments will stop spending more than they take in and all of their debts will be paid off. Perhaps the globe’s top financiers will figure out a way to deleverage the trillions of bad debt currently working its way through the system.

Or, perhaps they will not be able to reverse course. Let’s assume that they can’t reverse course. How bad can it really get? This is something that our elected officials and those at the Fed, Treasury and large institutions will not overtly discuss. But clues have been dropped throughout the last several years. And, you need to look no further than those very same officials.

President Obama, during the green shoots recovery of 2009 and 2010, told the American people
that a depression was avoided. Thus, we can assume that a depression is a strong possibility if we are in fact about to see another economic collapse. In 2008 and 2009, former Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson said that we were “on the brink,” in fact, after he left his position with Treasury, he wrote a book with this very title. The brink, from what we can surmise, meant a complete collapse of our financial, economic and political systems. The result would have been martial law. Hard to believe? Yes. Impossible? No:

THE COMING CHAOS: PART II

Are some popular movie and television images from the end of the first decade of the 21st century, a harbinger of less severe, but rhyming themes to come? Movie entertainment themes are a fulfillment of consumer curiosity and expression of the sediment of the times.

Movie image, I Am Legend (left). Disease has almost eradicated mankind, only a few random survivors exits in decaying cities.
Movie, 2012. Earth crustal shifts with continents sinking into the ocean. Several thousand people escape drowning aboard huge ships.
Movie, The Road. A catastrophe has almost wiped out mankind. Survival is harsh in a barren land of armed scavengers.
Movie, The Book of Eli.  Most of Man destroyed by calamity, there are few survivors, much chaotic lawlessness is pervasive.
TV series, The Walking Dead. Brain disease reduces most of mankind to zombies, a few healthy survivors gather and try to eke out an existence without becoming infected.
TV series, Falling Skies. Aliens attack Earth; humans are slaughtered and small remnants driven from cities. Survivalist lifestyles develop as ragged groups try to feed themselves and resist the aliens.
Movie, Contagion. Earth population depleted by fast acting virulent disease. Chaotic conditions develop.

Real life images
Garbage lined streets (right) : During the (2011) snowstorms that hit the NYC, the Sanitation Department suspended garbage collection for days at a time in order to use trucks for snow removal, which meant about 11,000 tons of trash per day didn’t get collected. Granted, the mess has been caused by more than just missed collections. People have been tossing loose trash onto the bags, and it’s winding up on the sidewalks and streets. Plastic McDonald’s cups. Broken bottles of Budweiser and empty cans of Four Loko, cigarette butts, smashed umbrellas, sheet music, soggy gloves, old newspapers, and damp, dirty sofas — all left out in the open, as if they, too, will just melt away. And thanks to pet owners, who got a little lazy in the bad weather, many city streets are now shellacked with dog feces.  Crumbling Detroit, 2010.
In the late nineteenth century Detroit (left)emerged as a major transportation hub along the Great Lakes.  Gilded Age mansions and other grand buildings spawned the city’s nickname “Paris of the West.” The gasoline crises of the 1970s impacted heavily on the car industry, while racial tensions and increasing drug-fuelled crime spurred the beginning of the end for Detroit’s industrial supremacy.  As the city descended into high unemployment, many of its finest buildings, including theatres, hotels, offices and apartments, fell into ruin.

Our Jig Saw Puzzle:
The parts that go bump in the night, the parts that can trigger the coming chaos, are:

1.  Peak Oil
(Think broadly: ANY energy crisis.)
The world is rapidly approaching Peak Oil production and will be at an inflection point soon, if not already, after which, real prices will (or already have) begin a long rise. Price inflection is possible before the next economic recovery, but will certainly come with a recovery, which will then be short-lived, because rising energy prices will channel money away from other discretionary expenditures.
During the years, 2009-2010, the USA and Europe were in recession with lower oil requirements, which have skewered the associated 2007 chart by extending the plateau top and pushing the ‘decline in production slope’ (with subsequent increase in prices) into the future another couple of years past the original 2007 projection. Whether we are out of the recession or not by 2015, production declines and the resultant rise in petroleum prices will probably have become an unpleasant factor in our national and personal, financial lives.

Official Peak Oil reports
Saturday, 4 Sep 2010, FinancialSense.com weekly, ‘News Hour’ podcast, gave leads to the Peak Oil reports listed below. These articles (only the lead paragraphs have been re printed here) seem to be telling a story, a story which has not yet been shared to any degree with the American people by either the Government or the news media. Furthermore, there is not just one news item, but increasingly frequent, almost monthly reports issued by responsible, main stream institutions in Europe, the USA and the Middle East.
Europe is currently advancing on a continent wide program toward fossil fuel independence; its estimated that in 10 years, by 2020, 20% all of Europe’s energy, not just its electricity, will be derived from renewables. What is happening in the United States? Nothing that I’ve heard of or seen. Maybe the government is waiting for a ‘Peak Oil-Pearl Harbor’ type crisis to create a popular mandate for action—as opposed to making plans and choosing an intelligent path while there is more time and opportunity to implement and mass test renewable systems.
The energy transition from one type energy to an alternative, historically, only happens about once per century and does so with momentous consequences.  We will begin to move away from fossil fuels quite rapidly from here on forward. Business, families and individuals who can adapt to the charge and manage risk will gain an advantage with the shrinking energy pie. (See also ‘Survival Manual/1. Disasters/Peak oil and energy crisis’)

The reports:
a)  London, 10 February 2010: UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) study on peak oil was released: “Business calls for urgent action on ‘oil crunch’ threat to UK economy”. A group of leading business people today call for urgent action to prepare the UK for Peak Oil. The second report of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) finds that oil shortages, insecurity of supply and price volatility will destabilize economic, political and social activity potentially by 2015.
b)  March 2010: Telegraph.Co.UK, “Oil reserves ‘exaggerated by one third’. The world’s oil reserves have been exaggerated by up to a third, according to Sir David King, the Government’s former chief scientist, who has warned of shortages and price spikes within years. Published: 9:51PM GMT 22 Mar 2010, by Rowena Mason, City Reporter (Energy)
c) March 2010:  heatingoil.com, Kuwait University and Kuwait Oil Company’ Peak Oil report: “Kuwaiti Researchers Predict Peak Oil Production in 2014, Posted by Josh Garrett on March 10, 2010
d)  “A new study published in the Journal Energy & Fuels predicts that world conventional oil production will hit its peak in the year 2014.
e) April 2010: guardian.co.uk, “US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015” by Terry Macalister. The Shortfall could reach 10 million barrels a day, report says, while the cost of crude oil is predicted to top $100 a barrel.
“The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact. The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.
f) June 2010: Guardian.co.uk, news article posted 11 July 2010, “Lloyd’s adds its voice to dire ‘peak oil’ warnings”, by Terry Macalister. “Business underestimating catastrophic consequences of declining oil, says Lloyd’s of London/Chatham House report. One of the City’s most respected institutions has warned of “catastrophic consequences” for businesses that fail to prepare for a world of increasing oil scarcity and a lower carbon economy. The Lloyd’s insurance market and the highly regarded Royal Institute of International Affairs, known as Chatham House, says Britain needs to be ready for “peak oil” and disrupted energy supplies at a time of soaring fuel demand in China and India, constraints on production caused by the BP oil spill and political moves to cut CO2 to halt global warming. “Companies which are able to take advantage of this new energy reality will increase both their resilience and competitiveness. Failure to do so could lead to expensive and potentially catastrophic consequences,” says the Lloyd’s and Chatham House report “Sustainable energy security: strategic risks and opportunities for business”.
g) August 2010: Spiegal Online International, posted 4 September 2010, “German Military Study Warns of a Potentially Drastic Oil Crisis“, by Stefan Schultz “A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how “peak oil” might change the global economy. The internal draft document — leaked on the Internet — shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis.
The study is a product of the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a think tank tasked with fixing a direction for the German military. The team of authors, led by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Will, uses sometimes-dramatic language to depict the consequences of an irreversible depletion of raw materials. It warns of shifts in the global balance of power, of the formation of new relationships based on interdependency, of a decline in importance of the western industrial nations, of the “total collapse of the markets” and of serious political and economic crises.

The news report from Spiegal Online was specific about their study’s socio-economic findings, pointing out that:
•  “Shortages in the supply of vital goods could arise as a result, for example in food supplies.
•  Oil is used directly or indirectly in the production of 95 percent of all industrial goods.
•  Price shocks could therefore be seen in almost any industry and throughout all stages of the industrial supply chain.
•  In the medium term the global economic system and every market-oriented national economy would collapse.…
•  (Relapse into planned economy) Since virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on oil, peak oil could lead to a partial or complete failure of markets. A conceivable alternative would be government rationing and the allocation of important goods or the setting of production schedules and other short-term coercive measures to replace market-based mechanisms in times of crisis….
•  (Global chain reaction)  A restructuring of oil supplies will not be equally possible in all regions before the onset of peak oil. It is likely that a large number of states will not be in a position to make the necessary investments in time, or with sufficient magnitude.
•  If there were economic crashes in some regions of the world, Germany could be affected. Germany would not escape the crises of other countries, because it’s so tightly integrated into the global economy….”
•  The Bundeswehr study also raises fears for the survival of democracy itself. Parts of the population could perceive the upheaval triggered by peak oil “as a general systemic crisis.” This would create “room for ideological and extremist alternatives to existing forms of government….”

2.  Real Food Price Increases
Another sign of the times and portent for the near future burden of costs falling on household budgets is shown in the New York Times news article dated, 5 August 2010:
•  “MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday banned all exports of grain after millions of acres of Russian wheat withered in a severe drought, driving up prices around the world and pushing them to their highest level in two years in the United States…Russia is suffering from the worst heat wave since record-keeping began here more than 130 years ago…Wheat prices have soared by about 90 percent since June because of the drought in Russia and parts of the European Union, as well as floods in Canada, and the ban pushed prices even higher. Exports from Ukraine, another major exporter, are down sharply this year…Before this year’s drought, yields had risen steadily, and Russian grain exports totaled 21.4 million metric tons last year, about 17 percent of the global grain trade.
But on Thursday, rail cars heaped with fresh grain came to a halt around Russia, stopped in mid-journey from the country’s fields to the main exporting ports on the Black Sea. The order covered a variety of grains, including barley and corn, but will have its greatest impact on wheat exports…”
Global food supplies will be tighter and more costly in the last half of 2010 and into 2011. Beyond fall 2011 prices may not return to lower levels, because energy input costs from gasoline, petroleum, fertilizer costs, harvest, packaging and shipping will be tightening with the approach of peak oil.
See at right, the 2007 U.S.A. ‘Grain Stock to Use Ratios’ chart, projected to 2016. Note, that during the decades when the country was at its wealthiest, we had twice the ‘Stock to Use Ratio’ as when the current recession began. Rather than build and maintain reserves during good times, we have depleted reserves.
•  Globally, 2008 saw record lows in global grain stocks. When commodity prices reached their peak, average global grain stocks reached 18.7% of annual global utilization, equivalent to 68 days worth of supply, well below the long-term average.

Where are food prices going?
When combining: 1) globally reduced food stock supply plus, 2) increasing demand from a growing world population; 3) increasingly demand from affluent Asian markets wanting higher quality foods; 4) higher priced agricultural fuel & fertilizer, 5) higher priced packaging, and 6) more expensive transportation costs,m 7) devaluation of the US dollar, it points toward an escalating Real Cost of food across the coming years.

3.  National energy grid at threat from EMP disruption
“Civilization is like a great web upon which all things are connected. Bop one strand of the web and the whole thing jiggles. Perhaps no other country on earth is more enslaved to conventional, fuel burning transportation than the United States. Transportation is the lifeblood of the economy, which would quickly collapse if the means for transporting needed supplies were disrupted in any way. With our just-in-time inventory management system, grocery stores commonly carry only a three-day supply of food. This statistical three-day supply would disappear within a few hours during an emergency situation; a panicked populace would make sure of that.”

EMPact America, Inc. Conference, 8-10 September 2009, Niagara, NY, conference speakers pointed out:
•  “An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is a super energetic radio wave that’s immediately harmless to people, but it’ll burn out all the critical electronic systems that sustain human economic activity and human life across vast areas, including the entire continental United States.” Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, President, EMPact America
•  “It’s not a secret. You can’t do anything about something that’s this broad in impact and still keep it a secret. So in order to get anything done you actually have to acknowledge we have a weakness. And, we worried about the fact that if we acknowledged that we had a weakness, how damaging will that be since we will inform our adversaries. We came to the conclusion that our adversaries are really quite well-informed already.”-Robert Hermann, Commissioner, Congressional EMP Commission
•  “I have believed for a long time that EMP or electromagnetic pulse may be the greatest strategic threat we face, because without adequate preparation its impact would be so horrifying that we would, in fact, basically lose our civilization in a matter of seconds.”-Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives

A)  Solar Flare produced EMP
The magnetic pulses from solar flares can fry microchips and disrupt any electronic devices. A solar flare disrupted primitive electronics such as telegraphs in 1859 and another one occurred in 1989 as well. One of the most serious solar flares took place in 1921 and disrupted communications in the U.S. An EMP from the sun in the 21st century could be devastating and wipe out any system using electricity or microchips.”
In 2008, the National Academy of Sciences produced a report for NASA that confirmed the EMP Commission’s warning that a “great” geomagnetic storm could have catastrophic consequences for modern civilization.  According to the NAS report, if the 1859 Carrington event happened today, it could destroy nationwide the electric grid, collapse the critical infrastructures and take 4-10 years to recover – if recovery is possible at all. In June 2010, the Department of Energy and North American Electric Reliability Corporation released a joint report that, again, confirmed the EMP Commission’s warning about the catastrophic threat from a “great” geomagnetic storm.
So it is incomprehensible why the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Aug. 5 – just days after NOAA warned about the possibility of a severe geomagnetic storm actually striking our planet – would gut H.R. 5026, The Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act, that is designed to protect the United States from the effects of a geomagnetic storm.  H.R. 5026 would protect the national electric grid from “all hazards” – including EMP from geomagnetic storms, nuclear EMP from terrorists or rogue states, cyber threats, sabotage and natural disasters.  H.R. 5026 embodied the recommendations of the EMP Commission, the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy.
The revised H.R. 5026 does nothing to protect the United States from EMP from geomagnetic storms, or nuclear EMP from rogue states and terrorists, from sabotage or from natural disasters.  The Senate gutted H.R. 5026 despite the EMP Commission’s recommendation that protecting the grid against “all hazards” is technologically the best and most cost-effective strategy.  For example, an “all hazards” strategy could mitigate the worst threats to the grid from natural and nuclear EMP and cyber threats for $100 million – and possibly save the lives of millions of Americans.
But the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chose to ignore the EMP Commission, the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Energy.  Every member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee received a personal appeal from the EMP Commission and other prominent experts to pass H.R. 5026 with its provisions for protecting against EMP and “all hazards” intact – but those appeals were ignored.
Fortunately, Earth dodged the bullet from the August 6, 2010 solar flare.  Fortunately, NOAA’s estimated 10 percent chance of a severe geomagnetic storm did not materialize – this time.  We may not be so lucky next time.

B)  Nuclear EMP attack against the US electrical grid
“Wednesday, 18 August 2010, TVC Special Report: Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons pose a serious and growing threat to our national security. Rogue nations and terrorists are working to develop EMP devices to attack the United States and other developed nations. These include North Korea, Iran and China. Once North Korea and Iran have missiles capable of reaching the U.S., they can use an EMP burst over our nation to destroy us.
1) A high altitude nuclear blast above middle America
A nuclear blast 200 miles above the U.S. could wipe out every electric grid in the country, plunging our nation into darkness. It would literally send our nation back to the 18th century. (A powerful X15+ class solar flare would have the same impact.) An EMP blast from a nuclear bomb would shut down devices, and our vehicles using microchips. Planes would stop flying; banks and hospitals would cease operation; trains would stop running; tractors, trucks and cars would cease working. Elevators would malfunction; subways would stop. All commerce would cease. A blast like this could not only wipe out the electric grid in the U.S., but in Canada and Mexico. The more technologically advanced a nation is, the more vulnerable it is to an EMP attack.
2)  What Can Be Done?
The United States must take seriously the threat posed by EMP attacks. The military has already taken measures to shield its systems from EMP attacks, but little has been done yet to shield our electric grid system from such an attack. This includes banks, water treatment plants, planes, hospitals, schools and any other facility that relies on computers. All of these must be shielded from the potential of an EMP attack or a solar flare.”
3)  If the power ever goes off for an extended period
• 
50% of the people will just sit down and wait for someone to come and help them, and if no one does, they’ll just die. 10% of the people know what to do and do what is needed in a logical way. 5% of the people become extremely dangerous almost immediately.  About 33% of the people  feel that they’re entitled to electric power and when they don’t get it they go nuts and will bring down the social system.
•   James Rawles interview by The Watchmen Radio Station, 3 Sep 2010:
“…If we were to have the onset of an EMP collapse in summertime we’d see a public health crisis very quickly. If it were to happen mid-winter we’d actually see more people dying of exposure, dying of the cold, than we would of dying of disease, especially in the Eastern United States and the North East. It doesn’t take too long a period before blankets are insufficient – people don’t have any alternate source of heat they’ll be freezing to death in large numbers. In a ‘grid down collapse’ that goes on for more than a year, we literally could see a 90% population loss in the big cities, and a 50% population loss in the suburbs and as much as a 40% loss in non-viable rural areas – I’m talking desert regions or other areas where there’s not a lot of agriculture that goes on.”

4.   US Debt:
As of this morning, ~ 4:05AM, Thursday, 9 September 2010, the Outstanding US National Debt is $14,278,946,101,012 dollars—that’s $14.2 trillion dollars and constitutes 93% of the national Gross Domestic Product. With the current US population of 310,383,941 the National Debt comes to $46,004 per person.
The Outstanding US National Debt is the sum of all outstanding debt owed by the Federal Government and includes: Social Security and Federal retirement programs, other trust funds, US Treasury Securities, and Savings Bonds.
Organizations loaning money to the US Government through US Treasuries include: state and local governments; individual investors, including brokers, public and private; pension funds; mutual funds; holders of US savings bonds; insurance companies; banks and credit unions; and foreign investors.

Add the GSE (Freddie/Fannie) debt to that and we are over 18 trillion.
Pile on the unfunded liabilities hidden on the government’s ‘off balance sheet ledgers’ and you will find these figures:  Social Security (14.6 trillion), Prescription Drugs (19.2 trillion), Medicare (76 trillion). You owe, your kids owe, all of us owe about $400,000 each.
Considering the median home price on the east-coast is $205,000.00, you now owe for two homes, in addition to anything that you may owe on your existing home, and it’s at a variable rate loan. In fact, principle and interest are subject to change. This debt is just like some toxic negative amortization pay-what-you-can-add-more-to-principle mortgage.”
http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/d-sherman-okst/mutant-rat-epidemic-spreading-economic-black-plague

Considering our economy (and the World’s too)
The annual US Budget Deficit is about $1.4 trillion. The annual budget deficit is the difference between actual cash collections and budgeted spending (a partial measure of total spending) during a given fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30. In order to get an idea how much $1 trillion is, if you counted one dollar every second, you’d need to count for 31,000 years to go through the $1 trillion pile of dollars. About 31,000 years ago the Neanderthal died off across Europe. Our stone age ancestors were just beginning to make engravings on cave walls.
“The downside to increasing deficits and a rising national debt is that public sector spending “crowds out” more and more private sector investment spending. If you like the idea of Congress and the president playing a growing role in the nation’s allocation of resources, then I suppose that should be of little concern. On the other hand, if you think government leaders are far more likely to make bad investment decisions than are private decision-makers, then crowding out is of considerable concern.
The fallout will not be in the form of an unfair tax increase on our grandchildren when the associated debt is paid off because, it will never be paid off. The fallout will come in an increased drift toward an economy increasingly controlled by the federal government.”
“The debt merry-go-round cannot go on forever. When the average consumer runs out of credit, when the US Treasury itself is no longer considered creditworthy, and when the US dollar is recognized for what it really is, then things will get ugly. If you stop making payments on your car, the banks send a repo man to tow your car away. And when entire nations go in to default, it usually signals cataclysmic events. Be prepared.” James Wesley Rawles in How To Survive the End of the World As We Know It

China Syndrome
Today the United States has become so reliant on the largesse of foreigners that its needs are now larger than all the savings in the Western world. Someday soon, those foreigners will grow cautious about lending to a country with no self-discipline and demand instead higher interest rates to protect them from a depreciating dollar. Or they could, as hinted recently, insist on lending in Euros or Renminbi, currencies that the American government cannot print.
The unprecedented expansion of central bank liabilities, has made China nervous about holding more dollars and China has begun to dump dollars, driving up prices of dollar based hard assets. China is so concerned about America’s dollar inflation that it has reduced its treasury holdings to $776 billion from $801 billion in May. China has also bought more gold as a hedge against the debasement of the dollar.

5.  Then comes hyperinflation – spend it now!
“Hyperinflation is not just an increase in the money supply, after all the central bank increases the money supply all the time, a phenomenon we know as simple inflation and which we come to expect as a constant. Hyperinflation, however, happens when uncertainty in the future worth of the currency causes people to start trading it for things of actual utility and more reliable stores of value as soon as they can, as soon as they’re paid. The velocity of paper money moving through the system increases as people seek to get rid of it.
So hyperinflation isn’t just the expansion of the monetary base, though the expansion is at the root. The expansion is fuel, but the conflagration doesn’t start till the herd panics.
Hyperinflation takes off when the entire population gets wise. The money supply might have been growing in fits and spurts for decades, but the hyperinflationary storm happens when that money really starts to move around as people try to get rid of it. The prices of useful goods get bid up to mind boggling levels. The process accelerates when governments try to stabilize markets…often by adding more paper…because honestly, what else can a government do? Mismanagement and fraud are the only things governments really get right consistently. So, for the government, a problem that’s caused by the theft of inflation can only be solved by…more mismanagement and fraud. The entire process is self-reinforcing and results in the hyperinflationary death spiral to which all currency is heir.

Common threads during a Hyperinflation:
•   Early on, leaders see their popularity wilt when public anger over spending increased.
•   The banking system soon becomes an instrument of the government.
•   The printing of money becomes a priority, the hyperinflation may come in two waves   separated by a short, slower inflationary period.
•    The government may increase minimum wages by 75 percent.
•   Up to 80 percent of the population may become unemployed.
•   Living standards may fall 35-40 percent.
•   Some stores may sell goods in a reputable foreign currency.

When it’s all said and done, realize this:
Industrial society is built on, 1) a foundation of an organized social structure with feedback loops, 2) an  interdependent infrastructure of transportation, homes and utilities,  3) and a massive, energy driven commodity flow that processes materials from the mine, timber and field to operate; diminish any link and the size of the system must shrink, break any link and the system collapses.


Things to keep in mind:
•   Where ever you live– the greater the population density of your community and surrounding communities, the greater the resource requirements are, and the faster the breakdown will occur when the supply infrastructure (money, food, water, electricity, auto gas, etc.) is stopped.
•   Once the Welfare and Medicare checks stop ‘the poor will take care of their own family’ by taking from the people with an apparent wealth of material goods, people who are perceived to be their oppressors anyway.
•   Once you lose that sense of community, it’s basically every man for himself.

Comments Off on The coming chaos

Filed under __2. Social Issues

Human Carrying Capacity

(Survival manual/2. Social Issues/Human carrying capacity)

I     Our numbers
II    Overpopulation and peak oil: The perfect storm
III   The effects of overpopulation on the environment
IV    Population Concerns in the United States
VI    Our food  and water needs
VII  North  America’s Ogallala aquifer
VIII World  fish stocks over-exploited
IX    The State of the World’s Food and Soil

I.  Our numbers

Approximately 6.6 billion humans now inhabit the Earth. By comparison, there are about 20 million mallard ducks and, among a multitude of threatened and endangered species, perhaps 100,000 gorillas, 50,000 polar bears, and less than 10,000 tigers, 2,000 giant pandas and 200 California condors. Notably, the human population has grown nearly ten-fold over the past three centuries and has increased by a factor of four in the last century. This monumental historical development has profoundly changed the relationship of our species to its natural support systems and has greatly intensified our environmental impact.[Photo left: Feb. 2011, Smog on main street of Linfen, China. Dense populations and heavy industrial zones produce the most smog in an area. About 4% of deaths in the United States can be attributed to air pollution according to the Environmental Science Engineering Program at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Photo right: Fresh Kills Landfill, Staten Island, NY. At 4.6 square miles and 225 feet high, it’s the largest manmade structure in the world; a 53 year accumulation of local, household garbage.]

A. Current demographic trends
Until recently, the growth of our numbers  was slow and variable. A pronounced expansion began with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, about two centuries ago. Whereas tens of thousands of years passed before our species reached the one billion mark, around 1800 AD, it took only 130, 33, 15, 13 and 12 years to add each succeeding billion. This accelerating rate of increase is what is meant by the term population explosion. Around year 1970, population growth reached a maximal rate of about 2% per year—perhaps a thousand times faster than growth in prehistoric times. The annual increment has since dropped from 2.0 to 1.1% (or, as demographers prefer, to 11 per thousand), and it is still going down. The greatest annual increment in population, about 90 million individuals, occurred in 1995, while our numbers grew by only around 76 million in 2004. Nevertheless, this cohort is comparable to adding the population of Germany to the planet each year.

Excluding migration, the rate of change of the number of individuals in a population is the difference between birth rate and death rate. The explosion in human population thus reflects the excess of births over deaths fostered by the Industrial Revolution. Until about two centuries ago, birth rates and death rates were both high. Because these two rates were about equal in magnitude, the population grew slowly and unevenly.
For example, human numbers grew at roughly 0.25% per year in 1700 C.E. Soon thereafter, as discussed below, institutional and technical advances caused death rates to fall in one nation after another around the globe. But because birth rates remained high, population growth rates soared, an unintended consequence of the alleviation of human hardship in the modern era.

Why birth rates have declined
Children are naturally loved and valued for themselves. But, especially in traditional (i.e., pre-modern) settings, children are also economic assets: a ready source of capital and security when alternatives are out of reach. Sons are of particular value, since it is they who typically inherit both the family plot and the responsibility for caring for aging parents. For practical reasons, daughters are often less desired: they may be regarded as not as productive and as likely to marry and move on, often with a costly dowry payment. Thus, time-honored wisdom might suggest an investment strategy of having, say, eight offspring. A parent can then expect four sons, one or two of whom will hopefully survive childhood and be there to serve with devotion in the distant future. Such views become institutionalized in cultural norms and shared practices.

While it is possible for a woman to bear as many as 15 children in her lifetime, this is rare. Rather, parents universally chose to limit family size because too many children present costs in excess of benefits.
Pasted from
<http://www.eoearth.org/article/Human_population_explosion?topic=54245&gt;

B. Human Overpopulation
Overpopulation is a condition where an organism’s numbers exceed the carrying capacity of its habitat. The term often refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth. Steve Jones, head of the biology department at University College London, has said, “Humans are 10,000 times more common than we should be, according to the rules of the animal kingdom, and we have agriculture to thank for that. Without farming, the world population would probably have reached half a million by now.” The world’s population has significantly increased in the last 50 years, mainly due to medical advancements and substantial increases in agricultural productivity.

[A parabolic rise in an environmental factor as shown above, should be considered the same a wall. A barrier. Consider the time scales. It has only taken a few generations of steam and petroleum energy exploitation to bring about an explosion in population. Our bodies survive to grow and reproduce on a short time scale cycle of 20-25 years. Long term human organizing activities such as   infrastructure, government, culture and religion are following the population explosion, each in its own slower operative time frame. All are approaching ‘the wall’.
A sustained decrease in the energy supply, namely, peak oil and the back side down slope, will be occurring as each of mankind’s organizing structures impact the wall.  The result will be Infrastructure scaled back and in decay; Governmental changes come next, within a couple of years from now;  Cultural disruptions  will occur as we have to extend our personal time scales from todays ‘immediate gratification’ to thinking in terms of ‘next month’ and ‘next year’. Religious organizations should survive largely unchanged, albeit with a more fundamentalist bent. Religion is the longest human tradition and changes very slowly, the crises will be largely ‘resolved’ in the lower Cultural time frame level. Mr Larry]

The recent rapid increase in human population over the past two centuries has raised concerns that humans are beginning to overpopulate the Earth, and that the planet may not be able to sustain present or larger numbers of inhabitants. The population has been growing continuously since the end of the Black Death, around the year 1400; at the beginning of the 19th century, it had reached roughly 1,000,000,000 (1 billion). Increases in life expectancy and resource availability during the industrial and green revolutions led to rapid population growth on a worldwide level. By 1960, the world population had reached 3 billion; it doubled to 6 billion over the next four decades. As of 2009, the estimated annual growth rate was 1.10%, down from a peak of 2.2% in 1963, and the world population stood at roughly 6.7 billion. Current projections show a steady decline in the population growth rate, with the population expected to reach between 8 and 10.5 billion between the year 2040 and 2050.

The scientific consensus is that the current population expansion and accompanying increase in usage of resources is linked to threats to the ecosystem. The InterAcademy Panel Statement on Population Growth, which was ratified by 58 member national academies in 1994, called the growth in human numbers “unprecedented”, and stated that many environmental problems, such as rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, global warming, and pollution, were aggravated by the population expansion. At the time, the world population stood at 5.5 billion, and optimistic scenarios predicted a peak of 7.8 billion by 2050, a number that current estimates show will be reached around 2022.
Pasted from http://www.zaxtor.net/HOPI.htm

.

II. Overpopulation and peak oil: The perfect storm
18 January 2008, Napa Valley Register, By Jim Lydecker
Pasted from:  http://peakoil.blogspot.com/2008/01/overpopulation-and-peak-oil-perfect.html
Americans have recently become aware of converging crises that can end life as we know it, though experts have been warning us for many years. (TEOTWAWKI =The End Of The World As We know It)

For example, many economists have been warning for decades of the severe consequences resulting from runaway national debt and an imbalance of trade.
And the current mortgage/liquidity crisis was first discussed in the early ‘90s by a number of financial experts.

Global warming, a phenomenon universally accepted as fact within the past five years, was first discussed by the Swedes in the 19th century. Several papers published at Stockholm University warned of global warning with the advent of the industrial age.

For a variety of reasons, humans usually don’t react to problems until they become a crises. All these crises are semi-connected, where one will trigger one or more of the others. However, there are two crises marching toward us now, shoulder-to-shoulder, that will trigger every other, both large and small. At best, they will end our industrial civilization. At worst, they may depopulate most of our species. These two comrades-in-arms, overpopulation and peak oil, are of such complex magnitude, no amount of financial or scientific commitment may stop them. They are creating the perfect storm of which there may be no survival.

The ever-quickening rise in oil prices partly attributed to the ever-weakening dollar. However, oil prices would still be increasing as demand outstrips supply. The slide down peak oil is unstoppable.

Most want to believe oil is limitless. The fact of the matter is it’s a finite resource, a geological gift of nature, half of which we’ve run through in less than 150 years. You only have to look as far as the mature, collapsing fields as the North Sea, Mexico’s Cantarell, Alaska’s North Slope, Russia’s Caspian and various Middle Eastern countries to know we are in deep trouble. In December’s OPEC meetings, it was made public that they were supplying 15 percent less than two years ago despite pumping as fast as they can. The massive Saudi field, Ghawar — by far the world’s largest — has only been able to maintain its five-million-barrel-a-day output by injecting nine million barrels of sea water daily. It’s said as goes Ghawar, so goes Saudi Arabia.

No substance is more interwoven into life as oil. Most of us see it as gasoline and believe more fuel-efficient autos will save the day. This is a fallacy as cars take much oil to manufacture, so if we replace all gas guzzlers with fuel-efficient vehicles, it will make matters worse. And using grain-produced
ethanol is proving to be a mistake. Agriculture is one of the most oil-intensive industries and the more we grow, the quicker we use oil up.

Oil is necessary for drugs and pharmaceuticals, energy, fertilizers and pesticides, chemical production and everything plastic. With the advent of oil came a revolution in medicine, agriculture (where 2 percent of the population now feeds the rest of us, while it was the opposite in 1850), transportation,
information, machinery and industrial production. Never before has life changed so much and oil was directly responsible for this modernization.

If peak oil is the sharpshooter with modern industrial civilization in its crosshairs, overpopulation is the hangman with the noose around our necks.

In 1850, the world population lingered at 1 billion; in America it was 23 million.
The world population is now closing in on 7 billion while here it nears 310 million. It was oil, and its cousin natural gas, that allowed the population to grow to unprecedented proportions as quickly as it did. As oil is depleted, it’s correct to assume the population will decrease proportionately.

In 1974, the government released a study (NSSM 200) that concluded the world population needed to be decreased drastically for humans to survive after peak oil without dire consequences. This was followed by the Carter administration’s  ‘Global 2000’ document that said an immediate goal of less than 2 billion worldwide is necessary. Others suggest a world of no more than 500 million is more realistic.

Knowing so much about a near future of mass migration, epidemics, famines, society collapse and die-offs of biblical proportions, one should ask: Why are we not making population and oil conservation the primary issues? I always wonder why towns are proud welcoming in the first-born of the year when, in the overall scope of things, having a baby is the most selfish thing a person can do. Why encourage our species to breed ourselves toward extinction?

Energy and population are the two subjects you never hear politicians discuss. Columnists, on the left and right, have recently written how it is only OK to talk about conserving oil and decreasing population until it’s too late.
.

III.  The effects of overpopulation on the environment
31 January 2008, www.helium.com, by Aidan Luce
Around the world, as populations grow, deficiencies in available freshwater supplies are starting to take their toll on already fragile economies, particularly those in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), where Tony Allan of SOAS in London insists “water demand began to exceed supply in the early 1970s for the region. Some countries have faced deficits since the 1950s”.

Each person needs to have 1.8 cubic yards (365 gallons) of good quality water to drink each year in order to be considered water sufficient. The amount they require for domestic use depends on the technological level at which they live, for example someone living in rural Africa can get by with about 4 cubic yards per year, whilst someone in Europe uses about 100 cubic yards per year. These numbers are small, however in comparison to the amount of water needed to produce the food an individual consumes – and where that food is produced has a lot to do with how much water is needed to produce it. An example for you: Wheat grown in temperate latitudes requires about 1 cubic yard of water per 2-1/4 lbs of crop produced, most of it sourced from rainfall; wheat grown in drier climates like the MENA region requires 3 to 5 yards of water per 2-1/4 pounds of crop produced and 99.9% of it is sourced through irrigation and is extracted from rivers and aquifers.

The water required to produce these crops is known as virtual water. Meat products require even more virtual water to produce, because in addition to the water the animals consume, they are more often than not fed on cereals, which themselves have a virtual water content. (Allan 1998)

It is with this in mind that many water scarce countries have since the 1970’s been sourcing much of their staple foods from outside their countries. This end to their food sovereignty is not something which they like to publicize, but it is happening nonetheless. Jordan import 88% of their foodstuffs, Israel 80% and Palestine 65%. (Shuval 2005)These countries and many others throughout the
middle east are becoming increasingly dependent on water rich countries to supply the food they require to keep their population fed.

The US and the EU export 40 million tons of grain to the MENA region every year, using 40 billion tons of virtual water this is the amount of water flowing down the Nile into Egypt for agriculture every year. The word rival comes from the Latin root rivus, which literally means to share a river. The concept of rivalry is intrinsically tied to the competition for water security.
Pasted from <http://www.helium.com/items/831909-the-effects-of-overpopulation-on-the-environment&gt;

__A. Planet could be ‘unrecognizable’ by 2050, experts say
A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an “unrecognizable” world by 2050, researchers warned at a major US science conference Sunday.

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, “with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia,” said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council .

To feed all those mouths, “we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000,” said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

“By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognizable” if current trends continue, Clay said.

The swelling population will exacerbate problems, such as resource depletion , said John Casterline, director of the Initiative in Population Research at Ohio State University. But incomes are also expected to rise over the next 40 years — tripling globally and quintupling in developing nations — and add more strain to global food supplies.

People tend to move up the food chain as their incomes rise, consuming more meat than they might have when they made less money, the experts said. It takes around seven pounds of grain to produce a pound of meat, and around three to four pounds of grain to produce a pound of cheese or eggs, experts told AFP.

“More people, more money, more consumption, but the same planet,” Clay told AFP, urging scientists and governments to start making changes now to how food is produced.
Pasted from <http://www.zaxtor.net/HOPI.htm>

__B. Population and environment, a complex relationship
Between 1960 and 1999, Earth’s population doubled from three billion to six billion people. In many ways, this reflected good news for humanity: child mortality rates plummeted, life expectancy increased, and people were on average healthier and better nourished than at any time in history. However, during the same period, changes in the global environment began to accelerate: pollution heightened, resource depletion continued, and the threat of rising sea levels increased. Does the simultaneous occurrence of population growth and environmental decline over the past century indicate that more people translate into greater environmental degradation?

In The Environmental Implications of Population Dynamics, Lori Hunter synthesizes current knowledge about the influence of population dynamics on the environment. Specifically, her report examines the following:
•  The relationship between demographic factors– population size, distribution, and composition–and environmental change.
•  The mediating factors that influence this relationship: technological, institutional, policy, and cultural forces.
•  Two specific aspects of environmental change affected by population dynamics: climate change and land-use change.
•  Implications for policy and further research.

Hunter concludes that population dynamics have important environmental implications but that the sheer size of population represents only one important variable in this complex relationship. Other demographic dynamics, including changes in population flows and densities, can also pose challenging environmental problems.
1)  Environmental Implications of Specific  Population Factors
According to recent United Nations estimates, global population is increasing by  approximately 80 million–the size of Germany–each year.
Although fertility rates have declined in most areas of the world, population growth continues to be fueled by high levels of fertility, particularly in Asia and Africa.
In numerous Middle Eastern and African nations, the average number of children a woman would be expected to have given current fertility levels remains above 6.0–for example, 6.4 in Saudi Arabia, 6.7 in Yemen, 6.9 in Uganda, and as high as 7.5 in Niger. Even in areas where fertility rates have declined to near replacement levels (2.1 children per couple), population continues to grow because of “population momentum,” which occurs when a high proportion of the population is young.
2)  Population Size
No simple relationship exists between population size and environmental change. However, as global population continues to grow, limits on such global resources as arable land, potable water, forests, and fisheries have come into sharper focus. In the second half of the twentieth century, decreasing farmland contributed to growing concern of the limits to global food production. Assuming constant rates of production, per capita land requirements for food production will near the limits of arable land over the course of the twenty-first century. Likewise, continued population growth occurs in the context of an accelerating demand for water: Global water consumption rose six fold between 1900 and 1995, more than double the rate of population growth.
3)   Land Use
Fulfilling the resource requirements of a growing population ultimately requires some form of land-use change–to provide for the expansion of food production through forest clearing, to intensify production on already cultivated land, or to develop the infrastructure necessary to support increasing human numbers. During the past three centuries, the amount of Earth’s cultivated land has grown by more than 450 percent, increasing from 2.65 million square kilometers to 15 million square kilometers.

A related process, deforestation, is also critically apparent: A net decline in forest cover of 180 million acres took place during the 15-year interval 1980 to ­1995, although changes in forest cover vary greatly across regions. Whereas developing countries experienced a net loss of 200 million acres, developed countries actually experienced a net increase, of 20 million acres (see chart).

[Chart left: Forest Area in 1995 Compared with 1980. SOURCE: Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), The State of the World’s Forests, 1999, Rome, Italy: FAO, 1998.  NOTE: Data exclude the countries of the former Soviet Union.]

These types of land-use changes have several ecological impacts. Converting land to agricultural use can lead to soil erosion, and the chemicals often used in fertilizers can also degrade soil. Deforestation is also associated with soil erosion and can lessen the ability of soil to hold water, thereby increasing the frequency and severity of floods. Human-induced changes in land use often result in habitat fragmentation and loss, the primary cause of species decline.
In fact, if current rates of forest clearing continue, one-quarter of all species on Earth could be lost within the next 50 years.

4)      Global Climate Change
Recent years have been among the warmest on record. Research suggests that temperatures have been influenced by growing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which absorb solar radiation and warm the
atmosphere. Research also suggests that many changes in atmospheric gas are human-induced. The demographic influence appears primarily in three areas.

    • First, contributions related to industrial production and energy consumption lead to carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use;
    • Second, land-use changes, such as deforestation, affect the exchange of carbon dioxide between the Earth and the atmosphere; and
    • Third, some agricultural processes, such as paddy-rice cultivation and livestock production, are responsible for greenhouse gas releases into the atmosphere, especially methane.

According to one estimate, population growth will account for 35 percent of the global increase in CO2 emissions between 1985 and 2100 and 48 percent of the increase in developing nations during that period. As such, both attention to demographic issues and the development of sustainable production and consumption processes are central responses to the processes involved in global warming.
Pasted from <http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB5045/index1.html&gt;

 .

IV.  Population Concerns in the United States

A.  Population
At the present growth rate of 1.1% per year, the United States’ population will double to about 560 million in about the next 60 years, if current immigration and related trends continue.  Each year over 3 million people are added to the U.S. population.
•  Over 70% of the United States’ annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida and New York) results from immigration.
•  Every person leaves an “ecological footprint” on the Earth — that amount of land which, assuming it is endowed with an average amount of resources, is necessary to sustain one human being indefinitely.  The average American’s ecological footprint is about 25 acres, an area far greater than that taken up by one’s residence and place of school or work and other places where he or she is.  Those 25 additional acres supply the average American with food, fiber, and other resources, as well as capacity for waste assimilation and disposal. (The average footprint of everyone in the world is about 7 acres.)

B.  Land & Food production
One acre of natural habitat or farmland is converted to built-up space or highway for each person added to the U.S. population.
•  More than 99.3% of the U.S. food comes from land, while less than 0.5% comes from aquatic systems.
•  Of the nearly 470 million acres of arable land that are now in cultivation in the U.S., more than 1 million acres are lost from cultivation each year due to urbanization, multiplying transportation networks, and industrial expansion.  In addition, about 2 million acres of prime cropland are lost annually by erosion, salinization, and water logging.
  Iowa has lost 1/2 of its fertile topsoil after farming there for about 100 years.  Their topsoil is being lost about 30 times faster than sustainability.
•  If present population growth and other trends continue, over the next 60 years, both degradation and urbanization will diminish our arable land base of 470 million acres by 120 million acres.
•  Only 0.6 acres of arable land per person will be available in 2050, whereas more than 1.2 acres per person are needed to provide a divers diet (currently 1.6 acres of arable land are available).
•  A doubling of the American population will accelerate the need for food.  For every 1% increase in food demand, the price at the farm gate increases 4.5%.

C.     Food Exports & Oil Imports
•  Currently the U.S. earns $40 billion per year as the largest food exporter in the world.  About 60% of the oil used in the U.S. is imported at a cost of $75 billion per year.  About 400 gallons of oil equivalents are expended to feed each American, about 17% of all energy used, each year.
•  If present trends in population growth, domestic food consumption, and topsoil loss continue, the U.S. food exports (and the income from them) will cease by 2030.
•  Fossil energy use in the U.S. has increased from 20 to as much as 1,000-fold in just four decades.
•  Currently, 92% of U.S. energy needs are provided by finite fossil fuels, with 6% of the total energy used for agricultural production.
•  Renewable energy sources, like hydropower and biomass, provide 8% of the U.S. energy and are increasing very slowly.
•  Approaching 2050, most of the oil and natural gas in the United States will be exhausted, and world supplies will be ever closer to depletion.
•  A renewable energy source, solar energy, would require the use of about 20% of the U.S. land area (about 450 million acres) to support a system that would supply only 1/2 of all current energy consumption, and the U.S. oil and gas reserves will have nearly run out by 2050, leaving us with environmentally problematic coal, or nuclear energy.  The advantage of the land space required for solar is that the solar can be above the ground, allowing for multiple use of the land space, such as grazing, agriculture, and warehousing.

D.   Energy
Fossil energy use in the U.S. has increased from 20 to as much as 1,000-fold in just four decades.
•  Currently, 92% of U.S. energy needs are provided by finite fossil fuels, with 6% of the total energy used for agricultural production.
•  Renewable energy sources, like hydropower and biomass, provide 8% of the U.S. energy and are increasing very slowly.
•  Approaching 2050, most of the oil and natural gas in the United States will be exhausted, and world supplies will be ever closer to depletion.
•  A renewable energy source, solar energy, would require the use of about 20% of the U.S. land area (about 450 million acres) to support a system that would supply only 1/2 of all current energy consumption, and the U.S. oil and gas reserves will have nearly run out by 2050, leaving us with environmentally problematic coal, or nuclear energy.  The advantage of the land space required for solar is that the solar can be above the ground, allowing for multiple use of the land space, such as grazing, agriculture, and warehousing.

E.   Water
Water is essential for all life, including productive agriculture. Agriculture consumes about 85% of all fresh water consumed by Americans. In the West, water shortages are increasing.
•  Rainfall is used directly by crops, is stored in diverse water bodies and in underground aquifers.  Groundwater provides 31% of the water used in U.S. agriculture.  Groundwater is being depleted 25% in excess of recharge rates.
•  Even if water management were to be substantially improved, by 2060 the 560 million Americans will have only 700 gallons/day/capita, considered a minimum for all human needs.
This assumes even distribution, which is not the case — much of our population and agricultural production is in arid and semi-arid regions.
•  Almost every house that can afford one now owns some type of water filter. Water quality is decreasing, as are our sources of potable water, due to development, salinity, and pollution.
Pasted from <http://www.enviroalternatives.com/popfacts.html&gt;

€ The ‘bathroom metaphor’”
http://malthusia.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=213
If two people live in an apartment, and  they had two bathrooms then they both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, stay as long as you want, for whatever you need, and everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the constitution.
But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, then no matter how much every person believes in the freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person; you have to bang on the door, “aren’t you through yet?”, and so on.
Kasanov concluded with one of the most profound observations I’ve seen in years, he says, in the same way, “…democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive over population. Convenience and decency cannot survive over population. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only decline it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies, the more people, there are the less one individual matters. And so, central to the things that we must do is to recognize that population growth is the immediate cause of all our resource and environmental crisis”.
.

V.  Consequences of peak oil
There are indications that peak oil is either imminent or even may have passed a few years ago. Although the consequences won’t be immediate after the peak, on the long-term they will be dire. We will discuss what the possible solutions to peak oil are in a moment but first, what are we talking about? Let’s start by a few facts:
•  There is only a limited amount of oil on the planet – because the planet is round.
•  The world’s first commercial oil well was drilled in Poland in 1853, and global production reached 4 million barrels a year in the 1860s (one barrel is about 42 gallons).
•  Today’s production hovers just above 70 million barrels a day.
•  2005 was an all-time high at 73.72 million barrels a day. Production is nearly flat since.
•  The Industrial Revolution brought a better understanding of how to use energy and allowed global population to increase ten times compared to what has been constant over millennia. It is  quite clear that our population would never have reached this level without access to all the cheap energy sources we currently have.
•  Our industry, food system and economy have become wholly dependent on cheap fuel.
•  India and China demand for oil is set to quadruple by 2030.
•  Some 64 million barrel per day of additional gross capacity – the equivalent of almost six times the daily output of Saudi Arabia today – needs to be brought on stream between now and 2030 (World Energy Outlook 2008)
•  So if the amount of oil we have is limited, if our demand is growing exponentially and  if production has been stationary for 5 years, how much oil have we left?
•  First we have to realize there aren’t any massive oil field discoveries those days. It is estimated that the peak of oil production lags behind the peak of oil field discoveries by 30 to 40 years depending on the urgency with which new fields are brought on-line. The graph below shows the rate of discoveries of
conventional oil field:

I’d like to stop a moment to let this sink in and consider what actually depends on oil.
•  Most of our transportation: cars, planes, boat, trucks.
•  Commercial shipment: bringing food to the supermarket, shipping building material, most of the industry.
•  Tires: It takes 3.6 billion gallons of crude oil to produce tires for all of the cars in the U.S. and 7 gallons of crude to produce one tire; therefore, should we all switch to electric cars we would still have a problem.
•  Mining equipment, farming and forestry equipment. The energy density of any commercially available battery makes it very heavy to move around and therefore a poor replacement of liquid fuels.
•  Most plastics. Plastics are everywhere. Look around you, starting by your computer and your phone, and the chips inside of them, and then try to imagine a world without plastics.
•  Many pesticides are derived from petroleum. Fertilizers are derived from natural gas, which ultimately will be confronted to the same issue.
•  Motor’s lubricating oil.
•  Asphalt.
•  Our entire food production and distribution network is heavily dependent on oil and fossil fuels. It is estimated that for every calories you eat, 10 calories of fossil fuels (mainly from oil and gas) is being used.
There is no need to panic: we have only consumed half of the amount of oil there is on the planet. However, there is clearly a case to seriously rethink our way of life.

Oil availability and social implications–Past & Future
The effect of energy decline on population will completely overwhelm the underlying reductions in carrying capacity. Those ecological effects will be gradually revealed as our aggregate supplies
decline, and will add to the population-reducing effects to energy loss.

.

VI.  Our food and  water needs
The basic need of humans is food. We need food to have energy to perform vital body functions, to reproduce, to work and to have fun. The unit of energy used by dietitians is the Calorie (or kilocalorie), that is, 4200 joules of energy, enough to raise the temperature of one kg of water by one degree Celsius.

The energy need of a typical adult is 2500 Calories per day. Children and elderly need less than that. That brings the average to 2000 Calories per day for all.

The caloric values must come 55% – 60% from carbohydrates, 12% – 15% from proteins and 33% – 25% fats. The variation based on climate, culture and personal preferences. For our calculation we take the most recommended 60% from carbohydrates, 12% from protein and 28% from fats. It must be kept in mind that this is an attempt to summarize highly complex and variable data into a meaningful format. There are hundreds if not thousands of food items available for human use, which particular item one uses depends a lot on one’s religion, culture, climate, personal preference etc.
Food productivity differs a lot on the basis of geographical location.
•  Most people live on a diet based on one or more of the following staples: rice, wheat, maize (corn), millet, sorghum, roots and tubers (potatoes, cassava, yams and taro), and animal products such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese and fish.
•  Roots and tubers are important staples for over 1 billion  people in the developing world. They account for roughly 40 percent of the food eaten by half the population of sub-Saharan  Africa. They are high in carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin C, but low in protein.
•  Ranked in order of their annual production, the world’s 15 most important food crops are: sugar cane, wheat, rice, corn (maize), white potatoes, sugar beets, barley, sweet potatoes, cassava, soybeans, wine grapes, tomatoes, bananas, legumes (beans and peas), and oranges.
•  Nine of the most important animal species include: cattle, horse, ass, pig, sheep, buffalo, goat, chicken and duck.

A.   A scheme of balanced daily  diet

Pounds of food needed/ person/ year for a balanced diet. Avg.  global food output lbs/acre/yr before
the petroleum intensive Green Revolution began (pre ca 1940)
Square yards Land Needed/person for a balanced  diet
Pounds/year Lbs/acre/yr
(2.2lbs/kg)
Yds2/person
Grains & Cereals 220 880 1200
Milk 220 (26 gal) 440 See pasture
Fruits 220 1760 469131
Vegetables 55
Meat (goat, horses, sheep) 55 220 See pasture
Oil 27.5 (~3 gal) 440 300
Sugar 27.5 440 300
Dry Fruits / Eggs 27.5 440 300
Spices 27.5 440 300
Pasture NA NA 1200
Other (coffee, cotton, tea, wool) NA NA 600
4800 sq. yds. overall=1
acre

Notes:

  • Land Needed/ capita =4800 square yards = about 1 acre per person. There are  4840 square yards /acre.
  • It is estimated that egg production in pounds would be at least twice that of chicken meat per acre. That is because of the savings in energy when eggs are used directly in the diet, which would otherwise be used by the chicken in its life time-hatching, growing up and gaining weight up to age of a few weeks before slaughter.
  • Land needed for vegetables is so little (55 vegetables needed/1760 lbs per acre*4200 = 131 sq. yds.=1180 sq ft=a plot 12 ft x 100 ft long) that a side crop along with grains/cereals can be grown for that. That’s the traditional Chinese method of having a crop of vegetables along with rice. A nitrogen-fixing crop is needed anyways as a side crop on land where grains/cereals are grown to maintain soil fertility.
  • A quarter acre dedicated to pasture grows 440 lbs of fodder per year. The total fodder requirement for milk and meat is 880 lbs., 4.4 lbs of fodder is converted to 2.2 lbs of milk and 17.6 lbs of fodder converts to 2.2 lbs of goat/camel/horse meat. The other 440 lbs of fodder comes from crop-residue, leaves etc from grain/cereals, fruits and vegetables. 220 lbs of grains/cereals leave 352 lbs fodder, 220 lbs fruits leave 440 lbs fodder, 110 lbs of miscellaneous (oil, sugar, spices and dry fruits) leaves 176 lbs of fodder. Assuming it would have half of the caloric values left when finally consumed by animals that is equivalent of 440 lbs of fodder.
  • Conversion factors: 1 kg=2.2 lbs, 1 m2=1.2 yd2, 1 ft3=7.48 gal water, 3.79 liters=1 gallon, 1yd3=202 gal water, 1 acre =4840 yd2=43,560 ft2, 1 hectare = 2.47 acres.

A simplified division of land is as follows:

Farm (for grains/cereals) 1/4 acre per person, (100 ft x 100 ft)
Pasture (for growing fodder) 1/4 acre per person, (100 ft x 100 ft)
Orchard (for growing fruits) 1/8 acre per person, (50 ft x 100 ft)
Farm (for tea, cotton, wool) 1/8 acre per person, (50 ft x 100 ft)
Oil (for vegetable oil) 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)
Sugar (honey or sugar cane) 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)
Dry fruits 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)
Spices 1/16 acre per person, (50 ft x 50 ft)

B.  Water
Water is another important factor in farm productivity. A land rich in organic material and minerals is of no use without a supply of water. The primary source of water is rain falling directly on land. Secondary sources like canals are also used to increase productivity. Finally tertiary sources like wells and tube wells are used which to some degree recycles the water already used at the farm.

A 10 inch rain fall on one acre provides 1000 tons of water. For a summer crop, at least in my part of world 80% of rain falls during the monsoon, right when the crop needs it. So 800 cubic meters of water
directly from rain is enough to grow the food per person per acre using these water requirements, assuming 20% loss of water at the farm due to evaporation and soil absorption before being used by plants. The calculation includes water needed for world average use of 7.7 lb  cotton, 2.4 lb coffee and 1.1 lb tea per capita per year.
Pasted from <http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/3090&gt;

C.   Water Footprint
A ‘water footprint’ is quite simply the volume of water used. At the individual level, this is expressed in gallons.
But at the national level, this becomes complex – The water footprint of a nation is equal to the use of domestic water resources, minus the virtual water export flows, plus the virtual water import flows.

The total ‘water footprint’ of a nation is a useful indicator of a nation’s call on the global water resources. The water footprint of a nation is related to dietary habits of people. High consumption of meat brings along a large water footprint. Also the more food originates from irrigated land, the larger is the water footprint. Finally, nations in warm climate zones have relatively high water consumption for their domestic food production resulting in a larger water footprint. At an individual level, it is useful to show the footprint as a function of food diet and consumption patterns.
•  1 cup of coffee needs 37 gal of water.
•  1 qt of milk needs 264 gal of water.
•  It takes 5 liters of water to make 1 liter of bottled water.
•  1 lbs of wheat needs 162 gal of water.
•  1 lbs of rice needs 359 gal of water.
•  1 lbs maize needs 62 gal of water.
•  The production of 1 lbs of beef requires 2,638 gal of water.
•  The water footprint of China is about 930 cubic yards per year per capita. Only about 3% of the Chinese water footprint falls outside China.
•  Japan with a footprint of 1,320 cubic yards per year per capita, has about 60% of its total water footprint outside the borders of the country.
•  The USA water footprint is 3,120 cubic yards per year per capita.
•  The average American Individual uses 100 to 175 gallons of water per day.
•  The average African Family uses 5 gallons per day.
•  A human adult requires 1.81 cubic yards drinking water per year=365 gallons or 1 gallon per day, another gallon per person per day is required for minimal sanitation and household use.
Source: UNESCO-IHE – Water Footprint

Virtual Water
Virtual water is the amount of water that is embedded in food or other products needed for its production. Trade in virtual water allows water scarce countries to import high water consuming products while exporting low water consuming products and in this way making water available for other purposes.

For example, the virtual water content (in yds3 water/ton product) for potatoes is 192 (cu yards water to produce 1 ton potatoes). Others examples: maize=1,080; milk=1,080; wheat=1,620; soybean=2,760; rice=3,600; poultry=3,360; eggs=5,640; cheese=6,360; pork=7,080; and beef=19,200.
Behind that morning cup of coffee is 37 gallons of water used to grow, produce, package and ship the beans.

Sustainable human carrying capacity?
Assuming that we can sustainably use 40% of world’s food production for our use leaving the rest for all other species, we can have food for 6 billion people on this planet if our population is distributed evenly, but. since it is not, long-term human population support ranges from 2 billion to 4 billion. Taking the average 3 billion as sustainable, this is roughly the population of the world at the end of the World War II.

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VII.   North America’s  Ogallala aquifer
America’s breadbasket is facing an environmental crisis of unimaginable proportions and most Americans have absolutely no idea what is happening.  The water that is used to irrigate much of America’s Great Plains comes from a massive underground lake known as the Ogallala Aquifer, which.   is being drained at an alarming rate, and that means that the Great Plains could soon turn into the Great American Desert.  If that happens, American could very well see a devastating repeat of the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.

The Ogallala geological formation of the American Midwest is home one of the most vital water sources for American agriculture—the High Plains aquifer.  Commonly referred to as the Ogallala aquifer, it covers an area of 174,000 square miles across eight states and holds over 978 trillion gallons of fresh water.  The aquifer currently supplies approximately 30% of the nation’s irrigation water, whereby it sustains 15% of the domestic corn and wheat crops as well as 25% of the cotton crop.  Since ground water mining of the aquifer accelerated in the last century, the water table has dropped 10-50 feet  in-depth in most regions, with several recorded drops of over 100 feet.

Shown as the shaded region in the figure above.   The quality and depth of the Ogallala groundwater is rapidly declining as water is pumped from its reservoirs far faster than fresh water can replace it.

The Ogallala aquifer was virtually untouched until the 1910s, but the post-depression wartime government of the 1940s readily subsidized irrigation projects drawing from the aquifer as drilling technology improved.  The dry grassland states of the central United States were quickly developed into major crop producing regions.  As of 1980, “20% of the irrigated land in the United States overlay the Ogallala, 30% of the irrigation ground water in the United States was being pumped from it, and 40% of the grain-fed beef cattle slaughtered in the United States were being fattened in the six states of the High Plains.”   This extreme reliance on the Ogallala aquifer has taken a dramatic toll on the ground water supply, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

One of the most critical sites is in the Texas High Plains, where roughly ten times as much water is being pumped out of the aquifer as is being replaced by rainfall.

The Ogallala aquifer is being used today to supply residential and agricultural communities across eight Midwestern states.  For nearly 80 years the nation’s breadbasket has been irrigated from Ogallala groundwater—a practice so unsustainable it severely threatens an aquifer that had flourished for over a
million years.  Farmlands are already shrinking on some portions of the Ogallala that have been mined of water.  As the water table continues to plummet the High Plains will have to take drastic measures, whether communities import costly water or abandon the most profitable farming in the nation.
Either way the decision has to be made soon because the aquifer that once held enough water to cover the entire United States under 1.5 feet of water is rapidly running out.

A.  The Ogallala aquifer running dry: U.S. farmers fear return of the dust bowl
It’s the largest underground freshwater supply in the world, stretching from South Dakota all the way to Texas. It’s underneath most of Nebraska’s farmlands, and it provides crucial water resources for farming in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and even New Mexico. It’s called the Ogallala Aquifer, and it is being pumped dry.

Without the Ogallala Aquifer, America’s heartland food production collapses. No water means no irrigation for the corn, wheat, alfalfa and other crops grown across these states to feed people and animals. And each year, the Ogallala Aquifer drops another few inches as it is literally being sucked dry by the tens of thousands of agricultural wells that tap into it across the heartland of America.

The problem with its use is that the aquifer isn’t being recharged in any significant way from rainfall or rivers. This is so-called “fossil water” because once you use it, it’s gone. And it’s disappearing now faster than ever.

In some regions along the aquifer, the water level has dropped so far that it has effectively disappeared — places like Happy, Texas, where a once-booming agricultural town has collapsed to a population of 595. All the wells drilled there in the 1950’s tapped into the Ogallala Aquifer and seemed to provide abundant water at the time. But today the wells have all run dry.

There used to be 50,000 head of cattle, now there’s 1,000,” says Kay Horner in a Telegraph report (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/83…). “Grazed them on wheat, but the feed lots took all the water so we can’t grow wheat. Now the feed lots can’t get local steers so they bring in cheap unwanted milking calves from California and turn them into burger if they can’t make them veal. It
doesn’t make much sense. We’re heading back to the Dust Bowl.”

The reality is that the Great Plains have not always been a great agricultural area. Way back in 1823, a U.S. government surveyor named Stephen Long was mapping out the Great Plains, and he was quite unimpressed by what he saw.  In fact, his geographer wrote the following in a report about the
expedition….

“I do not hesitate in giving the opinion that it is almost wholly unfit for cultivation, and of course, uninhabitable by a people depending upon agriculture for their subsistence.”

Well, thanks to irrigation, the Great Plains are not only “habitable”, but that region is currently one of the great breadbaskets of the world.  What Long’s mapping expedition referred to as “The Great American Desert” has been turned into an agricultural wonder thanks to an expanse of green circles defined by the reach of central pivot irrigation systems. But all of that is changing as the Ogallala Aquifer rapidly becomes depleted

 B.  Water Now More Valuable Than Oil? Savvy Investors and Successful Companies are Turning Water Into Gold,
By Larry West, About.com Guide
The most valuable commodity in the world today, and likely to remain so for much of this century, is not oil, not natural gas, not even some type of renewable energy. It’s water—clean, safe, fresh water.

__Follow the Money
When you want to spot emerging trends, always follow the money. Today, many of the world’s leading investors and most successful companies are making big bets on water. Do a little research, and it’s easy to see why. There simply isn’t enough freshwater to go around, and the situation is expected to get worse before it gets better.

According to Bloomberg News, the worldwide scarcity of usable water worldwide already has made water more valuable than oil. The Bloomberg World Water Index, which tracks 11 utilities, has returned 35 percent to investors every year since 2003, compared with 29 percent for oil and gas stocks and 10 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

“There is only one direction for water prices at the moment, and that’s up,” said Hans Peter Portner, who manages a $2.9 billion US Water Fund at Pictet Asset Management in Geneva, according to a report by Bloomberg News. The value of the fund increased 26 percent in 2005, and Portner expects water to provide 8 percent annual returns through 2020.

__Freshwater Becoming More Scarce
The United Nations estimates that by 2050 more than two billion people in 48 countries will lack sufficient water.
Approximately 97 percent to 98 percent of the water on planet Earth is saltwater (the estimates vary slightly depending on the source). Much of the remaining freshwater is frozen in glaciers or the polar ice caps. Lakes, rivers and groundwater account for about 1 percent of the world’s potentially usable
freshwater.

If global warming continues to melt glaciers in the polar regions, as expected, the supply of freshwater may actually decrease. First, freshwater from the melting glaciers will mingle with saltwater in the oceans and become too salty to drink. Second, the increased ocean volume will cause sea levels to rise,
contaminating freshwater sources along coastal regions with seawater.

Complicating matters even further is that 95 percent of the world’s cities continue to dump raw sewage into rivers and other freshwater supplies, making them unsafe for human consumption.

__The Need for Freshwater is Increasing Rapidly
Yet, while freshwater supplies are at best static, and at worst decreasing, the world’s population is growing rapidly. The United Nations estimates that the world population—approximately 6.5 billion in 2006—will grow to 9.4 billion by 2050.

The cost of water is usually set by government agencies and local regulators. Water isn’t traded on commodity exchanges, but many utilities stocks are publicly traded. Meanwhile, investments in companies that provide desalinization, and other processes and technologies that may increase the world’s supply of freshwater, are growing rapidly.

C.  Tap Water in 42 States Contaminated by Chemicals: EWG Tap Water Probe Reveals 141 Unregulated Chemicals Flowing into U.S. Homes
About.com Guide, By Larry West,
Public water supplies in 42 U.S. states are contaminated with 141 unregulated chemicals for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never established safety standards, according to an investigation by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

__Tainted Tap Water Used by Millions of Americans
Another 119 regulated chemicals—a total of 260 contaminants altogether—were found by the
environmental group in a two-and-a-half-year analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests. The tests, which are required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, were conducted at nearly 40,000 utilities that supply water to 231 million people.

 __Pollution Threatens Tap Water Quality
 According to a report by the EWG, the top 10 states with the most contaminants in their drinking water were California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Illinois—in that order.  EWG said the biggest sources of contaminants were agriculture, industry and pollution from sprawl and urban  runoff.

__Utilities Need More Enforceable Standards for Tap Water
EWG’s analysis also found that almost all U.S. water utilities comply fully with enforceable health standards once they are developed. The problem, according to the environmental group, is the EPA’s failure to establish enforceable health standards and monitoring requirements for many tap water contaminants.  [Photo above: Royal Berkey water filter]

Our analysis clearly demonstrates the need for greater protection of the nation’s tap water supplies, and for increased health protections from a number of pollutants that are commonly found but currently unregulated.” said Jane Houlihan, vice president for science at EWG, in a prepared statement. “Utilities routinely go beyond what is required to protect consumers from these contaminants, but they need more money for testing, and for protection of vital source waters.”

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VIII. 
World fish stocks over-exploited
Feb. 1, 2011, UNITED NATIONS
Global consumption of fish is at a record high, a report says, leaving world fish stocks depleted from over-exploitation.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization says fish consumption reached an average  of 37 pounds per person and fisheries and aquaculture supplied the world with about 145 million tons in 2009. That amounts to about 16 percent of humanity’s animal protein intake, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Thirty-two percent of the fish stocks monitored by the FAO were depleted or in the process of recovering from over-exploitation, the U.N. report said. Most stocks of the Top 10 commercial species, comprising almost a third of global catches, were fully exploited, the U.N. report said.
“That there has been no improvement in the status of stocks is a matter of great concern,” Richard Grainger, a FAO senior fish expert, says. “The percentage of over-exploitation needs to go down, although at least we seem to reaching a plateau.” Fish continued to be the most-traded food commodity, worth $102 billion in 2008, the U.N. report found.

Overall, fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of an estimated 540 million people, or 8% of the world population. People have never eaten as much fish and more people than ever are employed in or depend on the sector.

All stocks of currently fished, wild seafood species are projected to collapse by 2048 according to a study published in the November 3 issue of The Journal Science. The four-year analysis by an international group of ecologists and economists shows the marine biodiversity loss is reducing its resilience due to overfishing, pollution, and other stresses like climate change.
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[Photo left: Florida Keys, same spot: Change in the typical catch between,ca. 1956 to 2007.]

In the paper, Impact of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services, an international team of ecologists and economists studied the role marine biodiversity plays in maintaining ecosystem services, which are those goods and functions that are essential for the growing human population.

“Worm and colleagues provided the first comprehensive assessment of the state of ecosystem services provided by the biodiversity of the world’s oceans to humanity,” said Science International Managing Editor Andrew Sugden. “At this point,” Worm said, “29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed — that is their catch has declined by 90 percent. It is a very clear trend, and it is accelerating.

Seafood has become a growing part of Americans’ diet in recent years. Consumption totaled 16.6 pounds per person in 2004, the most recent data available, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That compares with 15.2 pounds in 2000.

Joshua Reichert, head of the private Pew Charitable Trusts’ environment program, pointed out that worldwide fishing provides $80 billion in revenue and 200 million people depend on it for their livelihoods. For more than 1 billion people, many of whom are poor, fish is their main source of protein, he said.
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IX.      The State of the World’s Food and Soil
 •  “Ninety percent of the world’s food is derived from just 15 plant and 8 animal species.”
“Biodiversity – and especially the maintenance of wild relatives of domesticated species – is essential to sustainable agriculture.”1
 •  75% of the genetic diversity of crop plants has been lost in the past century.

[Chart above: While the amount of irrigated agricultural land increased 98% during the 41 years from 1961 to  2002, the human population doubled from 3.08 billion to 6.2 billion, the effect has been to essentially reduce the amount arable land per person by 45%.]

“In 1960, when the world population numbered reached 3 billion, approximately 1.25 acres of cropland per capita was available, the minimum area considered essential for the production of a diverse, healthy, nutritious diet of plant and animal products like that enjoyed widely in the United States and
Europe.”3

  • Increases in grain production brought about by irrigation and synthetic fertilizer-pesticide inputs have peaked and begun declining. As consumption surpasses production, the world’s stocks of stored grain have been falling relative to each year’s use. When supply can no longer meet demand, free market price competition may starve the poor.
  • “Nitrogen production requires a large and affordable supply of natural gas.” 5
  • “Natural gas is a key feedstock (up to 90 percent of the total costs) in the manufacturing of nitrogen fertilizer for which there is no practical substitute… Nitrogen fertilizer prices tend to increase when gas prices increase.” 4

“10 kcalories (kilogram-calories or ‘large calories’) of exosomatic energy are spent in the U.S. food system per calorie of food eaten by the consumer. Put another way, the US food system consumes ten times more energy than it provides to society in food energy.” 6

Definition:exosomatic energy, as contrasted with endosomatic energy (bodily metabolism), is the useful energy throughput outside the human body.
In the above example, the exosomatic energy is the energy used to drive the farm inputs (plant, fertilize, pest-herbacide and harvest), processing, packaging, and transportation.

[Chart upper left: Fertilizer consumption is increasing worldwide- to maintain and maximize soil productivity. Chart uper right: Grain production has peaked and is declining, meanwhile consumption/demand continues to climb, the shortfall is being made up grain stockpiles which have dropped 75% and are still declining.]

Grain production has peaked and is declining, meanwhile consumption/demand continues to climb, the shortfall is being made up grain stockpiles which have dropped 75% and are still declining.

Who’s eating what and where?
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About 2 billion hectares of soil, equivalent to 15% of the Earth’s land area (an area larger than the United States and Mexico combined), have been degraded through human activities.
•  “Over the past 40 years, approximately 30% of the world’s cropland has become unproductive.”2
•  “During the past 40 years nearly one-third of the world’s cropland (1.5 billion hectares) has been abandoned because of soil erosion and degradation.” 7
•  “About 2 million hectares of rain fed and irrigated agricultural lands are lost to production every year due to severe land degradation, among other factors.” 8
•  “It takes approximately 500 years to replace 25 millimeters (1 inch) of topsoil lost to erosion. The minimal soil depth for agricultural production is 150 millimeters. From this perspective, productive fertile soil is a nonrenewable, endangered ecosystem.” 3,9

Food and Soil text sources:
1.  World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, “A Framework for Action on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management”
2.  “Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy”, Pimentel and Giampietro, Nov. 1994
3.  “Soil as an Endangered Ecosystem”, David Pimental, Bioscience; Nov 2000
4.  US GAO report: “Natural Gas: Domestic Nitrogen Fertilizer Production Depends on Natural Gas Availability and Prices”, Oct. 2003, www.gao.gov/new.items/d031148.pdf
5. The Fertilizer Institute, www.tfi.org/Statistics/index.asp
6.  “The Tightening Conflict: Population, Energy Use, and the Ecology of Agriculture”, Pimentel and Giampietro, 1994, http://dieoff.org/page69.htm
7.  “Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy, Pimentel and Giampietro, Nov. 1994
8.  World Bank: “Land Resources Management”, lnweb18.worldbank.org/ESSD/ardext.nsf/
11ByDocName/
9.  “Population Growth and the Environment: Planetary Stewardship”, Pimental, Dec 98, http://egj.lib.uidaho.edu/egj09/piment1.html
10.  UN World Water Development, www.unesco.org/water/wwap/wwdr/index.shtml
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Population Growth Escalates Food Prices
Summer 2008, By The Social Contract press
Food shortages have plagued mankind over millennia. But twentieth century agronomists came up with ways to keep food production on a pace with population growth in most places. Cheap food became a given in post-World War II America. In 1960, Americans spent 17.5 percent of their income on food; in 2006, spending on food fell to 9.9 percent. Alas, the bonanza only encouraged dietary imprudence. As Michael Pollan points out in a new book, In Defense of Food: An  Eater’s Manifesto, the modern American diet of refined white flour, polished rice, soy and corn oil, corn sweeteners and corn-fed animal fats means that “an American born in 2000 has a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes in his lifetime.” Obesity in America is pandemic, too — a result of what one nutritionist calls “a national experiment in mainlining of glucose.”

Astonishingly, the U.S. is a net food importer. About 40 percent of our fruit comes from overseas.
Ten percent of our red meat is imported, often from as far away as New Zealand and Australia.
While we import luxury foods, much of the rest of the world must scramble to find basic food supplies. The cereal import bill for the neediest countries is expected to increase by one-third for the second year in a row. The World Food Program (WFP) hopes to feed 73 million people this year, but high prices may lead to reduced rations or fewer people helped. According to the WFP, “hunger’s global hotspots” in February included Afghanistan, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Iraq, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Flood, drought, civil war, and harsh winters were blamed.

How many Americans can U.S. agriculture support in the future? Right now, we have an ample diet and are still able to export nearly one-fifth of our grain production. But Lindsay Grant, in a pamphlet published by Negative Population Growth, Inc., warns that if production and per capita consumption stay where they are, and U.S. population continues to grow at the present rate, “we will be consuming all the grain we produce in less than two decades, and running a deficit in agricultural trade; from then on, we will face mounting shortages.” Satellite maps are said to show that Earth is rapidly running out of fertile land.

The end of cheap food was delayed for half a century by the “Green Revolution.” [started ca 1940] It involves planting mono-cultures of hybrid plant varieties and by applying large amounts of inorganic fertilizer, irrigation water, and pesticides. Using these technologies, global grain harvest has tripled since 1961, while world population doubled. In the U.S., average corn yields climbed to 153 bushels per acre, from just 26.5 million in 1932. (A cost of expanded yields has been a decline in nutritional quality.)

The researchers also used past land-use data to create maps showing how agriculture has spread over the centuries. In 1700, for example, just 7 percent of the world’s land was used for farming.

Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggest that total farmland increased by 12.4 million acres (5 million hectares) annually between 1992 and 2002.

World Population Growth
Year   Population
1             200 million
1000       275 million
1500       450 million
1650       500 million
1750         700 million
1804      1 billion
1850      1.2 billion              [Globally supportable human population
1900      1.6 billion              estimated at 1.2 to 1.6 billion.]
1927      2 billion
1950       2.55 billion
1955      2.8 billion
1960      3 billion
1965      3.3 billion
1970      3.7 billion
1975      4 billion
1980     4.5 billion
1985      4.85 billion
1990      5.3 billion
1995      5.7 billion
1999      6 billion
2006      6.5 billion
2009      6.8 billion
2012      7 billion      [A return to sustainability seems to indicate a 77%
2027      8 billion         reduction in the human population numbers –
2044      9 billion         with 23% remaining, after – the oil decline?! ] 
2050      9.2 billion                                       8-|    (gulp!!)

“The satellite data tells us where cultivation is occurring with good spatial accuracy, while the census data is able to tell us what is being grown there. The maps suggest that an area roughly the size of South America is used for crop production, while even more land—7.9 to 8.9 billion acres (3.2 to 3.6 billion hectares)—is being used to raise livestock.

Connecting the dots, contemplating the future- Mr. Larry
‘The world’s  population was 3.3 billion in 1965, it is now nearly 7 billion, it has doubled  in 34 years. During this time, we have doubled the amount of land under irrigation, while seriously draining the Ogallala aquifer, are losing snow fields and mountain glaciers that have traditionally fed rivers for irrigation on old world continents, we have only a couple of decades before the world’s fisheries have all collapsed to 10% of their former size and have become unproductive, we have by 2011 reached peak oil and will hence forth be experiencing a decline in all things petroleum with an increase in real prices, less fertilizer will be used and grain production will decline faster, the soil will be ‘mined’ faster’and its quality diminish at a faster rate, grain stocks will be reduced to near zero, with harder economic times everywhere, the quality of our drinking water will continue to erode. Currently, with 7 billion people in need of food, we have an area roughly the size of South America used for crop production and the area size equivalent to most of North America used to raise livestock. Where do the continents come from to feed the next doubling of the population, for 14 billion people? Clearly, we have reached a plateau in overall food production. Within this decade, as previously hospitable environmental systems are diminished, our dependant human population will have a ‘numbers’ adjustment.

Prognosis: A less satisfactory life style will be experienced globally, everyone will be taking a step backward toward ‘less’, there will be increasingly ‘harder times’, there will be war over resources, and pestilence will follow. The human population has been, growing explosively for a century due to technologies- all based on fossil oil, now with peak oil it’s becoming apparent that we are numerically out of balance with our resource base. The possibility of an ‘overshoot’ during the coming oil/population decline makes all social matters worse. Gosh…what kind of world will we be navigating into if, during the next 50, 100 or 150 years we collapsed back to an 1850 to 1900 population level of 1.2 to 1.6 billion people?
Yet, how can it be otherwise?’

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Dr. Robert Hirsch: “We Are Staring Directly Into An Energy Storm in The Next 2-3 Years”

(4dtraveler/Podcast)

“Nobody is paying attention and we have no Plan B”

James J Puplava CFP with Robert L. Hirsch PhD

Dr. Robert Hirsch, Senior Energy Advisor at MISI, joins Jim to discuss an energy storm heading our way in the next two to three years. Dr. Hirsch believes Peak Oil is on our doorstep, nobody is taking notice, and we have no “Plan B.”

Podcast located at (paste in Address bar): <http://www.netcastdaily.com/broadcast/fsn2011-1215-1.mp3>

See also 4dtraveler post in Category:

•  Survival manual/1. Disaster/Hubbert’s Peak Oil and the Hirsch Report
•  News & editorial/1921-1923 German hyperinflation & the 2014-2016 US inflation wave
•  News & Editorial/How and why, empires like ours decline

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Filed under Survival Manual

How and why, empires like ours decline

Our modern civilization can thank plant life from the Jurassic period for the free lunch we’ve experienced during the last 150 years.

[Diagram: Peak oil (red line) overlayed with historical events and probable future scenarios. The downside slide from the peak unravels our social institutions, while destroying the wealth and largess gained during the ride up.]

Note: 98 tons of prehistoric, buried plant material – that’s 196,000 pounds – is required to produce each gallon of gasoline we burn in our cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles. We are literally cutting down the forests of the past to fuel the automobiles of the present.
[Since a mature oak may weigh 20,000 lbs and 10 mature oaks can grow on one acre in the wild (total weight =200,000 lbs), their combined oil  residue  is equivalent to 1 gallon gasoline. Imagine burning an acre of ancient forest for one gallon gasoline.  However, it doesn’t stop there, we usually top off the auto’s gas tank with say 10 gallons gasoline.
So consider this: If a mature oak tree lives 200 years, then ten end to end generations of mature oak trees (across a period of 2000 years) from that same one acre of land, are required to fill your gas tank just one time.
Of course there were many profligate acres of land covered with trees, grasses, or shallow coastal seas filled with algae for millions of years. But, with each filling of our vehicle’s gas tank, we mine not only the vegetation from a given area, but take ownership of that areas energy supply for several thousand years.
Ultimately, 50 years worth of your driving time x 52 weekly refills of 10 gallons x 2000 years equivalent/ 10 gallons gas from one acre vegetation = 5,2000,000 years equivalent energy use from the trees produced on that one acre. Each person who drives and uses 10 gallons of gasoline per week, during a 50 year driving period, has claimed the vegetal life from one acre for over 5 million years.
In 2011 there were 1 billion vehicles in the world. Mr. Larry]

There seems something wrong with creating a world filled with sovereign debt, debt so great that it eliminates future growth and expansion, while at the same time pumping and burning the forests of the past, all to fuel our needs for the immediacy called – now.

Every civilization eventually faces its limiting factor. Their previous successes allow for a large increase in population. The citizenry continue to follow the same pattern of socio-economic-military behavior as those who  founded the empire. When a limiting factor is encountered, ie, water or food shortage, reduced flow of other important resources, geographical over-extension, disease or debt (whether from building huge labor intensive structures or ‘feeding the masses’), the system teeter’s and begins to breakdown. The governing bodies bring out all efforts into play to maintain the system, despite the fact that its resource base – to population demand has become seriously altered. The situation becomes a proposition of, “When there’s a gap between perception and reality, more reality won’t close the gap”, so governments do whatever possible to maintain the perception that all is well.
When you have finally reached a point of being a nation whose debt load so huge that it cannot be paid,  where there are large and growing numbers of the unemployed; where the welfare rolls are expanding; where the civilizations primary energy resource peaking and about to decline and where there are no prospects to address that decline; there is a general future that everyone can look forward to, a future of, less.

It’s human nature not to look forward and readjust during times of plenty, but to overshoot our means, then maintain the status quo, while sliding down the backside of our civilization’s energy-resource curve, into a condition of, want.

Where are we heading in the 21st Century? Although the future is perceptually dim, and even tomorrow is distant, we can paint broad pictures and fill in the details as time passes. The images that follow are representative of our current path into the future. Global national leadership and the captain’s of international industry would have us believe optimistically, in a future of technological, social and economic nirvana – a future of Plenty.

However, looming immediately ahead and extending for a period deep into the future is an alternate and more likely path, which is characterized by continued growth in the global human population. Population demands are leading to broad Economic Impoverishment. This is the rapidly approaching Post Peak Oil world, a place where there are simply too many people competing for too few goods and services, and for a reduced quantity and quality in our food supply; it’s a place where long time, full and meaningful employment can no longer be seen as common place; where ‘everything substandard’ has become the rule. The world of Economic Impoverishment has a much different paradigm than we have grown up knowing; it’s a world of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots,’ of a diminishing middle class. It’s not a happy world, it’s over populated, it’s less healthy, it allows much less personal freedom than we have known; it’s more expensive and less safe. It’s a world that is ripe for disaster, for plague, it’s a civilization in decline, a world on the edge.

As we move through a decade or two along the Economically Impoverished world line, the situation will be seen morphing to a Limited Energy-Resource future. By the time we reach this period there are already a lot fewer people. The global population has stabilized, and most of the old technology has been retrofitted to meet local, current circumstance. Energy use per capita has greatly diminished. People are again fully employed, as has always been the case in a low energy flow environment. The paradigm has changed daily life and personal expectations away from what we have today. This is a relatively happy world, where the individual is gaining value. It’s a world beginning to grow in its own unique direction, and depart from the collapse of the great civilization of the early 21st Century. Within a few hundred years, the budding, new civilization will have its own renaissance; meanwhile, many of our economic and technological temples will be gone, collapsed from their lack of value; figuratively and literally, trees will grow amongst their ruins; life will both enthusiastically and optimistically continue. Its nature’s way.

As Ron Hera points out at the end of his two-part article, How the U.S. Will Become a 3rd World Country: Pasted from <http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1322589600.php> “The United States increasingly resembles a 3rd world country in terms of unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, falling wages, growing poverty and concentration of wealth, government debt, corporate influence over government and weakening rule of law. Federal Reserve monetary policies and federal government economic, regulatory and tax policies seem to favor the largest banks and corporations over the interests of small businesses or of the general population. The potential elimination of the middle class could reshape the socio-economic strata of American society in the image of a 3rd world country. It seems only a matter of time before the devolution of the United States becomes more visible. As the U.S. economy continues to decline, public health, nutrition and education, as well as the country’s infrastructure, will visibly deteriorate. There is little evidence of political will or leadership for fundamental reforms. All other things being equal, the U.S. will become a post industrial neo-3rd-world country by 2032.”

[The problem is not with our leaders per sae, but with human nature, you see, we need to understand our own nature, and at times act to restrain ourselves of our appetites. Time is the variable, for there is really little other difference between a child gorging on candy one day only to become hyper active or ill; an adult’s compulsion to eat unhealthy foods for years and slowly becoming obese and developing cardio-vascular problems or diabetes-2; or a government continually over spending its budget, becoming debt laden, and-or over utilizing it natural resources, and finally collapsing the socio-economic system that initially created it. Mr. Larry]

Ugo Bardi explains how we, as human beings set ourselves up for social collapse, in his article Fall of the Empire <http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/ugo-bardi/peak-civilization>

Mr. Bardi writes, “…Our leaders are no better apt at understanding complex systems than the military commanders who ruled the Roman Empire. Even if our leaders were better, they would face the same problems: there are no structures that can gently lead society to where it is going. We have only structures that are there to keep society where it is – no matter how difficult and uncomfortable it is to be there. It is exactly what Tainter says: we react to problems by building structure that are more and more complex and that, in the end, produce a negative return. That’s why societies collapse. Civilizations and empires, in the end, are just ripples in the ocean of time. They come and go, leaving little except carved stones proclaiming their eternal greatness. But, from the human viewpoint, Empires are vast and long-standing and, for some of us, worth fighting for or against.”
Read Ugo Bardi’s complete article in my post: (Survival manual/2.Social issues/The fall of empire)–It’s an eye opener to human nature; comparing the past with the present.

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