Ugo Bardi: The Banquet of Consequences

Two points.
Firstly, Limits to Growth clearly concluded that economic AND population growth were the problem. Controlling only one of these was not enough to stop collapse in their models. 

Secondly, we need to incorporate the interests of future generations into our democratic system. Maybe have a group of people, randomly chosen and undismissable, who are not allowed to own anything, given the median income by the state, whose sole mandate is to look after the interests of future generations. They would have, say, 30% of the vote.

Even though I have become a rabid Kindle devotee over the past few years I have also started a collection of hard cover traditional books on topics such as intensive gardening, identifying edible wild plants, cooking and first aid.  My hope is, I would always have enough battery or solar power to start up my laptop but you never know.  In the interim they make nice conversation pieces and look quite attractive on the living room book shelves.


In your introduction to the Ugo Bardi podcast The Banquet of Consequences

Why we've earned the coming future of resource scarcity

by Adam Taggart

you quoted him as saying:

… All commodities: mineral commodities, fossil fuels, whatever you have – it is the same problem everywhere, because we have been mining for tens of thousands of years. But in the past one or two centuries, we stepped it up, the speed of extraction. Right now we have extracted the easy resources. Now we will start having troubles because we have to access the difficult resources. … 

… My impression, and not just mine, is that many of the problems which we see today in the world, economic problems, political problems, strategic problems, geo-political problems, are due to the fact that resources everywhere are becoming scarce in the sense that they are becoming expensive. And at this point, you have to fight for what is left.

Could this be part of the push by Putin / Russia to re-establish the Soviet Union?



A Disturbing Walk in a Geological Garden

In May 2012, my wife Judy and I visited an Irish town – Bunmahon – on the southern coast of the Republic of Ireland. The town lies within what is called the Copper Coast of Ireland, a location rich in mineral and geological formations and features.

There is a tourist feature at Bunmahon - a “Geological Garden” that reflects a variety of environments under which the area has evolved over the last 4.54 billion years. Obviously it is not a traditional garden, rather a grassed area encircled by a 200 metre-long path, which depicts the 4.5 billion years of our earth’s existence. At significant stages there are plaques laid within the walkway and rocks on the lawned areas detailing the different phases of development of the earth’s structure and its evolvement down to the present day.

So far so good. However, at the end of the walk there is a plaque that not only identifies when human beings were established on earth, but also the period of time that is depicted, is in scale with the age of the earth. Humans have really been on the planet for a fraction of the lifetime of the Earth. Archeologists estimate that modern humans have been on the Earth for about 200,000 years.

If the length of the walk is 200 metres (representing 4.54 billion years), the period of time for human beings is 9mm (approx 200,000 years – give or take a few thousand and even less for “modern” human beings.)

If we accept that the industrial revolution commenced in 1750, the primary date when we began to systematically extract the majority of the earth’s minerals, and approximately 150 - 200 years for fossil fuels, this 250-year period represents .036 millimetre in the 200-metre walkway!

Or to put it another way, if 4.5 billion years is represented by 1 day – 24 hours – then humans have been on earth for 10 seconds, and in a period of .05 of a second, less than the blink of an eye, we have been depleting the earth’s mineral, ore and fossil fuel reserves.

The implication is this; in a period of 250 years, we have used up the vast majority of the available mineral and fossil fuel reserves on earth which took millions and millions of years to lay down. One (alarming) estimate that I read recently stated that in the next decade we will use as much mineral and fossil fuel resources as we have used since the time when we first began “harvesting” them (or perhaps I should say “exploiting” them would be more appropriate statement.)

In other words, in the lifetime of my grandchildren (the eldest being 13 and the youngest 1) available mineral and fossil fuel reserves will be too expensive to extract or purchase!

Richard Heinberg writes:

"If the world consumes these resources (Antimony, Chronium, Gold, Indium, Lead, Nickel, Silver, Tantalum, Tin, Uranium, Zinc) at only half the current US rate, they will run out within 60 years."

From The End of Growth page 142 – Richard Heinberg (Published by Clairview 2011; reprinted 2012)

Since I first became aware of the global crisis facing humanity, and our responsibility for caring for the environment and resources of the earth, I have tried very hard not to be pessimistic, but the walk around the Geological Garden and SEEING the proportions represented and THINKING through the implications, I can hardly hold onto any form of optimism.

 Ross Flint

If anyone considers the figures I have presented to be inaccurate, I would appreciate your corrections.