09 January, 2012

2011 year end review and summary of conclusions:

  1. Global population recently passed the 7 billion mark and is likely to double over the next seventy years, assuming a mere 1% growth rate.  Clearly, the world has reached a stage of over-population with unsustainable levels of population growth.  Consequently, a much greater awareness and deeper understanding of the exponential growth function and its broader implications for the human race are essential at all levels of society if civilisation is to survive and become sustainable within ecological and resource limits.   This must become part of a universal education curriculum that also promotes one child per family thus reducing or even eliminating over-population within a generation or so.
  2. Natural resources and in particular non-renewable resources are being depleted at an alarming rate as a result of overpopulation and surging global economic development, particularly in Brazil, Russia, India and China.   Supplies of affordable fossil fuels (the current master resource) that enable globalisation are now in steepening decline as the Energy Return on Energy Invested to explore, extract, refine and distribute conventional oil and gas rapidly diminishes raising energy and thus food prices to increasingly unaffordable levels.
  3. Current levels of fossil fuel consumption that fuel global economic growth and development are not sustainable because of rapidly depleting non-renewable oil and gas resources and unacceptably high CO2 emission levels threatening dangerous and possibly even catastrophic Climate Change.
  4. Global economic growth is severely constrained by triple digit oil and gas prices and volatility in the energy markets, threatening to precipitate an even deeper double dip recession.  Consequently, it is essential that we quickly transition to low-carbon steady state economies that vigorously promote energy efficiency, energy conservation and a broad mix of alternative renewable sources of energy.
  5. Current concepts of economics do not relate to a world with finite resources and are thus fundamentally flawed and unsustainable.
  6. Current financial instruments, systems and regulations do not recognise any limits to growth and are therefore unsustainable.
  7. Fiat currency transactions within fractional reserve banking systems that only thrive on the creation of ballooning amounts of debt (fuelling economic growth over the past decade or so), sooner or later collapse as and when debt loads are perceived to be no longer serviceable, forcing interest rates up and creditors to call in their loans or severely restrict credit (credit crunch), thereby destroying perceived asset values and confidence in business, the financial, property and commodity markets.  Ultimately, this results in spiralling economic decline or even economic collapse – a situation the Euro-zone and our own economy are fast approaching.
  8. Capitalism as we now know it is in question because it fosters unbridled consumerism which is increasingly perceived as a self-destructive element within society while limited resources are being depleted at an alarming rate or become generally unaffordable.  What resources will be left for future generations to inherit?  Moreover, capitalism in its present form is controlled by about 1% or 2% of the population, creating a growing gulf between the disproportionately powerful super rich and poor.  A new approach to capitalism is required that also regulates a more intelligent, efficient, equitable sharing and management of Earth's waning resources and the wealth they bestow (beyond the control of speculators) while taking into account the ecological limits of growth on a planet with finite resources.  We must learn to effectively conserve remaining resources for future generations or the human race may simply wither away and eventually, even perish through lack of resources.  Alternatively, we must urgently learn how to exploit off-world resources in space and on other planets.
  9. "The Optimum Population Trust (now Population Matters) believes that Earth may not be able to support more than half its present numbers before the end of this century, and that the UK's long-term sustainable population level may be lower than 30 million."
  10. We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate or, endure accelerating economic decline and collapse of our civilisation as Earth's resources are entirely consumed – before the end of this century.
  11. The inevitable conclusion is that ultimately, the future survival of the human race depends on the exploitation of space and the eventual colonisation of other planets.
  12. Mature advanced economies will have to take up the mantle of space resource exploitation (starting with Space Based Solar Power), while the rest of the world tries to catch-up by raising general standards of living to an extent limited by available affordable earth bound resources.  Advanced economies must also reduce consumption to facilitate this while focusing on improving the quality of life and well-being of their citizens rather than their standards of living.   With this in mind, the whole concept of GDP based economic growth and development becomes irrelevant because we have no choice but to reduce consumption and conserve resources for future generations.  If we don’t undertake this transition, then we face a grim century of devastating global resource wars, as well as civil strife and anarchy as populations become increasingly disaffected and civilisation self-destructs.  We have already witnessed the beginnings of this with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring and recent riots in UK streets.  When will common-sense begin to prevail over short term vested interests that are not in our long term interests?

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