Peak NNR: Scarcity: Humanity’s Last Chapter : A Comprehensive Analysis of Nonrenewable Natural Resource (NNR) Scarcity’s Consequences
Chris Clugston | Wake Up Amerika
SCARCITY: HUMANITY’S LAST CHAPTER: PEAK NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCES:
Scarcity: Humanity’s Last Chapter : A Comprehensive Analysis of Nonrenewable Natural Resource (NNR) Scarcity’s Consequences, by Chris Clugston:
Natural Resources and Human Evolution:
During the past 2+ million years, humanity—Homo sapiens and our hominid predecessors—evolved through three major lifestyle paradigms: hunter-gatherer, agrarian, and industrial.
Each of the three paradigms is readily distinguishable from the other two in terms of its worldview, natural resource utilization behavior, and resulting level of societal wellbeing—i.e., attainable population levels and material living standards.
The Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle Paradigm
The hunter-gatherer (HG) lifestyle paradigm spanned over 2 million years, from the time that our hominid ancestors first stood erect on the continent of Africa to approximately 8,000 BC. HG societies consisted of small nomadic clans, typically numbering between 50 and 100 individuals, who subsisted primarily on naturally occurring vegetation and wildlife.
The HG lifestyle can best be described as subsistence living for a relatively constant population that probably never exceeded 5 million globally. Hunter-gatherers produced few manmade goods beyond the necessities required for their immediate survival, and they generated no appreciable wealth surplus.
The HG worldview revered Nature as the provider of life and subsistence, a perspective that fostered a passive lifestyle orientation through which hunter-gatherers sought to live—albeit somewhat exploitatively—within the environmental context defined by Nature. The HG resource mix consisted almost entirely of renewable natural resources such as water and naturally occurring edible plant life and wildlife.
The Agrarian Lifestyle Paradigm
The agrarian lifestyle paradigm commenced in approximately 8,000 BC and lasted until approximately 1700 AD, when England initiated what was to become the industrial revolution.
Agrarian societies existed primarily by raising cultivated crops and domesticated livestock.
The agrarian worldview perceived Nature as something to be augmented through human effort, by domesticating naturally occurring plant and animal species. The agrarian lifestyle orientation was proactive in the sense that it sought to improve upon what Nature provided.
While modest wealth surpluses were sometimes generated by agrarian populations, agrarian existence typically offered little more in the way of material living standards for the vast majority of agrarian populations than did the HG lifestyle—although the global agrarian population did increase significantly, reaching nearly 800 million by 1750 AD.
The agrarian resource mix consisted primarily of RNRs, which were increasingly overexploited by ever-expanding, permanently-settled agrarian populations. As agrarian cultivation and grazing practices became increasingly intensive, renewable natural resource reserves were increasingly depleted and natural habitats were increasingly degraded as well.
The Industrial Lifestyle Paradigm
The inception of the industrial lifestyle paradigm occurred with England’s industrial revolution in the early 18th century, less than 300 years ago.
Today, over 1.5 billion people—approximately 22% of the world’s 6.9 billion total population—is considered “industrialized”; and nearly three times that many people actively aspire to an industrialized way of life.
Our industrialized world is characterized by an incomprehensibly complex mosaic of interdependent yet independently operating human and non-human entities and infrastructure.
These entities must function continuously, efficiently, and collectively at the local, regional, national, and global levels in order to convert natural resource inputs into the myriad goods and services that enable our modern industrial way of life.
[Note that failures within the industrial mosaic can disrupt, temporarily or permanently, the flow of societal essentials—water, food, energy, shelter, and clothing—to broad segments of our global population.]
Tremendous wealth surpluses are typically generated by industrialized societies; such wealth surpluses are actually required to enable the historically unprecedented material living standards enjoyed by increasingly large segments of ever-expanding industrialized populations.
The industrialized worldview perceives Nature as something to be harnessed through industrial processes and infrastructure, in order to enhance the human condition. It is an exploitive worldview that seeks to use natural resources and habitats as the means to continuously improve human societal wellbeing—that is, to provide continuously improving material living standards for ever-increasing numbers of ever-expanding human populations.
The resource mix associated with today’s industrialized societies is heavily skewed toward nonrenewable natural resources, which, in addition to renewable natural resources and natural habitats, have been increasingly overexploited since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
It is precisely this persistent overexploitation of natural resources and natural habitats—especially NNRs—that has enabled the “success” associated with the industrial lifestyle paradigm—success being defined here as continuous increases in both human population levels and human material living standards.
Nonrenewable Natural Resources—the Enablers of Industrialization
Our industrial lifestyle paradigm is enabled by nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs)—energy resources, metals, and minerals. Both the support infrastructure within industrialized nations and the raw material inputs into industrialized economies consist almost entirely of NNRs; NNRs are the primary sources of the tremendous wealth surpluses required to perpetuate industrialized societies.
As a case in point, the percentage of NNR inputs into the US economy increased from less than 10% in the year 1800, which corresponds roughly with the inception of the American industrial revolution, to approximately 95% today. Between 1800 and today, America’s total annual NNR utilization level increased from approximately 4 million tons to nearly 7 billion tons—an increase of over 1700 times!
In the absence of enormous and ever-increasing NNR supplies, the 1.2 billion people who currently enjoy an industrialized way of life will cease to do so; and the billions of people aspiring to an industrialized way of life will fail to realize their goal.
As their name implies, NNRs are finite—they are not replenished by Nature; and they are scarce—economically viable NNR deposits are rare. Persistent extraction (production) will therefore deplete recoverable NNR reserves to exhaustion. [Note: the terms NNR “production” and NNR “extraction” are used interchangeably throughout the paper. Although “extraction” is the proper term—humans do not produce NNRs—the term “production” has gained wide acceptance within the NNR extraction industries.]
The typical NNR depletion cycle is characterized by: a period of “continuously more and more”, as the easily accessible, high quality, low cost resources are extracted; followed by a “supply peak”,8 or maximum attainable extraction level; followed by a period of “continuously less and less”, as the less accessible, lower quality, higher cost resources are extracted.
Since the inception of our industrial revolution, humanity has been the beneficiary of “continuously more and more” with respect to available NNR supplies.
Unfortunately, in the process of reaping the benefits associated with “continuously more and more”, we have been eliminating—persistently and systematically—the very natural resources upon which our industrialized way of life depends.
Increasingly, global NNR supplies are transitioning from “continuously more and more” to “continuously less and less”, as they peak and go into terminal decline. As a result, NNRs are becoming increasingly scarce—ever-tightening global NNR supplies are struggling to keep pace with ever-increasing global demand.
The following Global Nonrenewable Natural Resource Scarcity Assessment quantifies the magnitude associated with increasing global NNR scarcity and the probabilities associated with imminent and permanent global NNR supply shortfalls. The assessment consists of two analyses, both of which are based on US Geological Survey (USGS) and US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.
- The Global NNR Scarcity Analysis assesses the incidence of global scarcity associated with each of 57 NNRs during the period of global economic growth (2000-2008) prior to the Great Recession.
- The Global NNR Supply Shortfall Analysis assesses the probability of a permanent global supply shortfall associated with each of 26 NNRs between now and the year 2030.
Global NNR Shortfall Analysis
The Global NNR Supply Shortfall Analysis is based on US Geological Survey (USGS) and US Energy Information Administration (EIA) global NNR extraction data and (Verhulst) logistics curve fitting analyses associated with 26 NNRs.
Global NNR Supply Shortfalls
An NNR supply shortfall occurs when the available NNR supply level is less than the supply level required to enable a society’s prevailing economic activity level and growth rate. An NNR supply shortfall can be temporary, permanent, or fatal.
A temporary NNR supply shortfall occurs when the available NNR supply level falls below the “required” supply level for a finite period of time. Since the available NNR supply level ultimately recovers to the required level, the society’s pre-shortfall economic activity level and growth rate are restored.
A permanent NNR supply shortfall occurs when the available NNR supply level falls below the “required” supply level forever. Since the available NNR supply level never recovers to the required level, the society’s pre-shortfall economic activity level and growth rate are not restored.
A fatal NNR supply shortfall occurs when the available NNR supply level falls below the “critical” supply level forever. At this point, available NNR supply can no longer enable the production and provisioning of one or more societal essentials—clean water, food, energy, shelter, clothing, and infrastructure—at levels sufficient to support the society’s existing population.
Global NNR Supply Shortfall Analysis Overview
The Global NNR Supply Shortfall Analysis assesses the probability of permanent global supply shortfalls associated with 26 NNRs between now and the year 2030. Specifically, the analysis compares historic and projected annual global NNR extraction levels associated with each NNR through the year 2030, with the actual or projected peak extraction level associated with the NNR. An imminent and permanent global NNR shortfall is considered probable if the annual global NNR extraction level has already reached its global peak extraction level, or if the projected annual global NNR extraction level is expected to reach its projected global peak extraction level by the year 2030. The probabilities that an NNR will experience a permanent global supply shortfall by the year 2030 are defined as follows:
Nearly Certain Probability: it is very likely that the actual annual global NNR extraction level reached its geological global peak extraction level prior to the year 2010.
Very High Probability: the actual annual global NNR extraction level exceeded its projected (Verhulst) global peak extraction level prior to the year 2010.
High Probability: it is very likely that the projected annual global NNR extraction level will exceed its projected (Verhulst) global peak extraction level between the years 2010 and 2030.
Low Probability: it is very unlikely that the projected annual global NNR extraction level will exceed its projected (Verhulst) global peak extraction level prior to the year 2030.
Global NNR Supply Shortfall Assessment
The following table contains current (2007/2008) annual global NNR extraction level data, year 2030 global NNR extraction level estimates, and global peak NNR extraction level estimates for each of the 26 analyzed NNRs. The table also notes the probability that each of the 26 NNRs will experience a permanent global supply shortfall by the year 2030. Twenty three (23) of the 26 analyzed NNRs (88%) will likely experience permanent global NNR supply shortfalls by the year 2030—available global supplies associated with these NNRs will fail permanently to meet global NNR demand by that time.
Specifically: Actual annual global extraction levels associated with cadmium, gold, mercury, tellurium, and tungsten have likely reached their geological global peak extraction levels, and are in terminal decline worldwide. The probability that these NNRs will experience permanent global supply shortfalls by the year 2030 is nearly certain, assuming near term recoveries to pre-recession NNR extraction levels and growth rates, and the continued inability of recycled NNRs to more than offset ever-tightening newly extracted supplies.
Actual annual global extraction levels associated with cobalt, lead, molybdenum, PGM, phosphate rock, silver, titanium, and zinc exceeded their projected Verhulst global peak extraction levels prior to the year 2010. Current annual global extraction levels associated with these NNRs are likely near or at their geological global peak extraction levels.
The probability that these NNRs will experience permanent global supply shortfalls by the year 2030 is high, assuming near term recoveries to pre-recession NNR extraction levels and growth rates, and the continued inability of recycled NNRs to more than offset ever-tightening newly extracted supplies.
Global NNR Supply Shortfall Analysis Findings
Fifty (50) of the 57 NNRs (88%) analyzed in the Global NNR Scarcity Analysis experienced global scarcity—and therefore experienced temporary (at least) global supply shortfalls—during the 2000-2008 period. Twenty three (23) of the 26 NNRs (88%) analyzed in the Global NNR Supply Shortfall Analysis are likely to experience permanent global supply shortfalls by the year 2030. Each permanent NNR supply shortfall represents another crack in the foundation of our globalizing industrial lifestyle paradigm; at issue is which crack or combination of cracks will cause the structure to collapse?
Permanent global supply shortfalls associated with a single critical NNR or with a very few secondary NNRs can be sufficient to cause significant lifestyle disruptions—population level reductions and/or material living standard degradation.
A permanent shortfall in the global supply of oil, for example, would be sufficient to cause significant local, national, and/or global lifestyle disruptions, or outright global societal collapse; as would permanent global supply shortfalls associated with 2-3 critical NNRs such as potassium, phosphate rock, and (fixed) nitrogen; as would concurrent permanent global supply shortfalls associated with 4-5 secondary NNRs such as the alloys, catalysts, and reagents that enable the effective use of critical NNRs.
Given our vulnerability to an ever-increasing number of imminent and permanent global NNR supply shortfalls, the likelihood that the mix and volume of shortfalls will reach their “critical mass” is a question of “when”, not “if”.
Implications of Increasing Global NNR Scarcity
Increasing NNR Scarcity
Available supplies associated with an overwhelming majority of NNRs—including bauxite, copper, iron ore, magnesium, manganese, nickel, phosphate rock, potash, rare earth metals, tin, and zinc—have reached their domestic US peak extraction levels, and are in terminal decline.16 Based on the evidence presented above, available supplies associated with a vast majority of NNRs are becoming increasingly scarce globally as well.
Because global NNR supplies are transitioning from “continuously more and more” to “continuously less and less”, our global societal wellbeing levels— our economic activity levels, population levels, and material living standards—are transitioning from “continuously more and more” to “continuously less and less” as well.
Sustainability is Inevitable
“Business as usual” (industrialism), “stasis” (no growth), “downscaling” (reducing NNR utilization), and “moving toward sustainability” (feel good initiatives) are not options; we will be sustainable…
It is difficult to argue that our incessant quest for global industrialization and the natural resource utilization behavior that enables our quest are inherently evil. We have simply applied our everexpanding knowledge and technology over the past several centuries toward dramatically improving our level of societal wellbeing, through our ever-increasing utilization of NNRs.
However, despite our possibly justifiable naïveté during our meteoric rise to “exceptionalism”, and despite the fact that our predicament was undoubtedly an unintended consequence of our efforts to continuously improve the material living standards enjoyed by our ever-expanding global population; globally available, economically viable supplies associated with the NNRs required to perpetuate our industrial lifestyle paradigm will not be sufficient going forward.
Our Transition to Sustainability
Humanity’s transition to a sustainable lifestyle paradigm, within which a drastically reduced human population will rely exclusively on renewable natural resources (RNRs)—water, soil (farmland), forests, and other naturally occurring biota—is therefore inevitable. Our choice is not whether we “wish to be sustainable”; our choice involves the process by which we “will become sustainable”.
We can choose to alter fundamentally our existing unsustainable natural resource utilization behavior and transition voluntarily to a sustainable lifestyle paradigm over the next several decades. In the process, we would cooperate globally in utilizing remaining accessible NNRs to orchestrate a relatively gradual—but horrifically painful nonetheless—transition, thereby optimizing our population level and material living standards both during our transition and at sustainability. Or, we can refrain from taking preemptive action and allow Nature to orchestrate our transition to sustainability through societal collapse, thereby experiencing catastrophic reductions in our population level and material living standards.
The Squeeze is On
It would be convenient if our unraveling were to occur in 1,000 years, or 500 years, or even 50 years. We could then dismiss it as a concern for future generations and go busily about improving our national and global societal wellbeing levels in the meantime. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The Great Recession was a tangible manifestation of our predicament—NNR scarcity was epidemic in 2008, both domestically (US) and globally. Our unraveling is in process. At present, however, only an extremely small minority of the global populace understands that NNR scarcity is the fundamental cause underlying our predicament and its derivative economic and political problems. When the general public becomes aware of this fact and of the fact that NNR scarcity is a permanent, ever-increasing, and unsolvable phenomenon, collapse will ensue in short order.
Historically, globally available, economically viable supplies associated with most NNRs were generally sufficient; NNR scarcity, when it occurred, was a temporary phenomenon. Incremental economically viable NNR supplies were available to be brought online, thereby restoring economic output (GDP) and growth to “expected” levels. Because episodes of NNR scarcity have occurred periodically since the dawn of our industrial revolution, they are considered temporary “inconveniences” associated with the boom phases of “normal” commodity boom/bust cycles.
Today, despite the fact that NNR scarcity is becoming increasingly prevalent—as clearly demonstrated by the NNR Scarcity Analysis—and despite the fact that the impact associated with NNR scarcity has certainly been felt—as an underlying cause of the Great Recession—the general public remains almost completely unaware. This is understandable, as it is obviously in nobody’s interest to see humanity fail.
Our opinion leaders—i.e., the political, economic, and other societal elites who have the greatest vested interest in preserving the status quo—continue to preach that historically robust levels of economic growth can be sustained forever. Some of our opinion leaders may still believe this to be true, although it is difficult to believe that many or most do.
[There currently exists considerable speculation regarding the extent to which our opinion leaders actually understand our predicament and its consequences, and are merely conducting a charade in order to perpetuate “business as usual”, from which most of them benefit disproportionately, for as long as possible. At the end of the day, the awareness levels and motives associated with our opinion leaders are irrelevant; the outcome—societal collapse—remains unchanged.]
The general public—given their cornucopian worldview and their almost complete lack of understanding regarding the enablers of their industrialized lifestyles—adheres steadfastly to the notion that “every generation will have it better than the last”. The vast majority of the general public undoubtedly still believes this to be true, despite stagnant or declining material living standards in much of the industrialized world. So long as myth supersedes reality and the general public remains ignorant regarding the nature of our predicament and of the fact that our predicament cannot be solved, complete societal collapse is unlikely. It is likely, however, that as our situation devolves, the general public will become increasingly frustrated, angry, and scared.
“We” will blame “them”—the government, corporations, foreigners, capitalists, communists, Christians, Muslims, the rich, the poor, anybody who is not “us”—for our continuously deteriorating circumstances. And we will become increasingly susceptible to the empty rhetoric of Hitleresque demagogues who promise—and fail—to restore “normalcy”, at the expense of our remaining freedoms. Through their ignorance, the general public will exacerbate our already deteriorating situation.
Within the next few years, however, NNR scarcity will become:
- “Noticeable”—NNR supplies will become increasingly constrained and prices will rise continuously; then
- “Inconvenient”—periodic and temporary shortages and rationing associated with NNRs and derived goods and services will occur with increasing frequency; then
- “Disruptive”—shortages and rationing associated with ever-increasing numbers of NNRs and derived goods and services will become permanent; and finally,
- “Debilitating”—supplies associated with ever-increasing numbers of NNRs and derived goods and services will become permanently unavailable.
As this scenario unfolds, increasingly large segments of humanity will become aware of the fact that NNRs enable our industrialized way of life, and that ever-increasing NNR scarcity is the fundamental cause underlying our continuously declining economic output (GDP) and societal wellbeing levels, both domestically (US) and, by that time, globally as well. Historically prevalent public attitudes of generosity and forbearance, which were made possible by abundant and cheap NNRs during our epoch of “continuously more and more”, will be displaced by public intolerance:
Ultimately, the general public will become aware of the fact that our predicament has no solution; and the following “trigger” conditions for societal collapse will be met: NNR scarcity will become “disruptive”—the available mix and levels associated with economically viable NNRs and derived goods and services will become insufficient to enable “tolerable” day-to-day existence; and sufficiently large segments of society will:
- Childbirth will be condemned rather than celebrated;
- All immigration will be outlawed;
- Traditionally unquestioned resource uses—from “social entitlements” and universally accessible healthcare, to professional sports and cosmetics—will be considered “unfair” or “wasteful”, and ultimately eliminated; and
- “Excessive wealth” will be appropriated for “the public good”.
- Become aware of the fact that ever-increasing NNR scarcity is a permanent phenomenon; &
- Acknowledge the fact that our predicament cannot be “fixed”; “continuously less and less”—continuously declining societal wellbeing—is our new reality.
Previously sporadic social unrest and resource wars will degenerate—seemingly instantaneously—into full fledged conflicts among nations, classes, and ultimately individuals for remaining natural resources and real wealth. It will become universally understood that the only way to “stay even” within a continuously contracting operating environment—much less to improve one’s lot—is to take from somebody else. Life will become a “negative sum game” within the “shrinking pie” of “continuously less and less”.
Social institutions will dissolve; law and order will cease to exist; and chaos will fill the void— nations will collapse.
Given that half of the 89 analyzed NNRs are either likely or almost certain to remain scarce permanently at the global level; that no extraterrestrial source NNR imports exists for the world as a whole, and that the global industrialized / industrializing population has increased nearly 5 fold since 1975… …it is highly likely that the interval between global societal wellbeing “divergence” in 2008 and global societal collapse will be 35 years or less.
During the course of our unrelenting pursuit of global industrialization, and our consequent ever-increasing utilization of the earth’s increasingly scarce NNRs, we have been eliminating— persistently and systematically—the very natural resources upon which our industrialized way of life and our very existence depend.
Ironically, the natural resource utilization behavior that has enabled our historically unprecedented “success”—our industrial lifestyle paradigm—and that is essential to our continued success, is also pushing us toward our imminent demise. This is humanity’s predicament.
Humanity’s Limited Perspective
To date, our distorted cornucopian worldview and limited anthropocentric perspective have rendered us incapable of understanding our predicament and its fundamental cause, which is ecological—ever-increasing NNR scarcity—not economic or political. The economic and political problems with which we concern ourselves are merely manifestations of our predicament—they are symptoms, not the disease. Because none of the economic and political expedients that we employ to solve these problems can create additional NNRs, our attempted economic and political “solutions” are irrelevant.
Metaphorically, the well is running dry, yet we insist on tinkering with the pump.
SUSTAINABILITY CHOICE: VOLUNTARY POPULATION & CONSUMPTION REDUCTION:
As Dale Allan Pfeiffer concludes in: Eating Fossil Fuels, which does not consider the issue of the Peak of Non-Renewable Resources:We are confronted with three choices: (a) Immediate and drastic conscious responsible voluntary population reduction, probably our best although also least likely choice; (b) Alternatively immediate and drastic Government intervention by mandated population reduction, via sterilisation and quota’s; which will no doubt result in screams of eugenics from Peak Oil denialists; and (c) Failure to confront our overpopulation crisis, will simply result in spiralling food costs, and unprecedented starvation, i.e. the eventual die-off Darwinian Malthusian consequences.Humanity: An Endangered Species, by Judge Jason G. Brent:
There cannot be procreative ‘rights’ in an overpopulated world
The question should be, “What harm will all of humankind suffer and what harm will individuals suffer if all of humankind were divided into two groups—the reproducers and the non-reproducers-- and if that determination were done in a moral and just manner, or at least as close to a moral and just manner as humanly possible”? Though it must be conceded that such a determination could never be entirely perfect or morally unblemished, refusing to make it will not prevent its being made according to the arbitrary criteria of nature. In pursuit of this point, let us assume that the only action taken to reduce population is to limit who can reproduce. Assume further that no other action is taken—no one is killed, raped, murdered, deprived of a job, deprived of any benefit of society, ostracized, placed in a concentration camp, limited to whom they can or cannot marry, or limited where they can live, and no one is harmed in any way so long as that person does not reproduce or attempt to have more children than he or she is allowed.
Relative to the harm inflicted by continuing population growth, the harm inflicted by the reasoned and deliberate designation of reproducers and non-reproducers would surely be minimal.
Assume that 20% of the population that should be permitted to reproduce is prevented from reproducing, what is the harm to the individuals and what is the harm to society? Another assumption--assume 15% of the population that should not have reproduced is allowed to produce, what is the harm to the individuals and what is the harm to society? In both cases, in the next few generations the errors will correct themselves as the determination as to who can and who cannot reproduce is made anew each generation, under the method of determining who can procreate which I will propose.
A Shocking Proposal
The action I am initially proposing is value neutral and does not favor or harm any individual or group. The action I am proposing will be applied to every person or group without favoring anyone. The action is very simple---limit the right of any male to father only one live child and limit the right of every woman to one live birth. In simple terms a couple is limited to one and only one child—not one child for the male and one child for the female. These limitations would be applied to every single human being without regard to race, religion, national origin or anything else and it would be absolute, no exceptions.
It would be applied without regard for wealth, or the lack of wealth, and it would be applied without regard for the country of birth or residence of either the male or female. It would be applied without regard to intelligence, or the lack thereof, and without regard of the ability of the male or female to function in society. (At a later date when a method was agreed upon relating to dividing human beings into two groups, the ability to function in society would be considered in relation to who could or could not reproduce.) The right to either father a child or for a female to give birth could not be sold or transferred; it would be personal to the individual. If a live child were born with a birth defect or with some other disability it would not permit either the father or mother to produce another child. Each couple would have the right to have all appropriate pre-natal tests to determine if the child in the womb would be born with a birth or genetic defect and if the chance existed that the child would be born with such a defect to have an abortion.
Since survival of our species depends on the one child rule, under my proposal any attempt to evade the rule would result in death of the evader and of any second child. The rule to be fair must be absolute, without a single exception. If the female cannot or refuses to provide the name of the father she and the child shall be immediately executed. All of the ideas set forth in this paragraph may be considered horrible and inhumane. However, since they will be applied equally, no individual or group is harmed except to the extent that an individual cannot either father or give birth to a second child. The harm caused to the individual and the harm caused to all of humanity by enforcing the one child rule set forth above is miniscule compared to the harm which all of humanity would suffer if population were not reduced.
Since the birth of a child is very hard to hide, there must be communal responsibility and accountability for any attempt to do so. Those who knowingly failed to report the birth of a second or any higher number of children would themselves be subject to the very same severe punishment that would be meted out to the parents of the second or higher numbered child—no religious, cultural or ethnic exemptions would obtain. Humanity cannot consider the evasion of the single child rule a game to be played with a minor penalty, if caught. No group or individual could be permitted any evasion of the one child rule a that would lead to a disparity among groups and among individuals causing irreparable harm to the entire system established to reduce population. Should this sanction seem barbaric or draconian, it is surely less draconian in its effects than the merciless verdict of nature upon a species that refuses to contain its expansion.
In order for this proposal to be fair, equitable and workable, society and governments would be required to take action today to provide the means for every human being to control his or her fertility, to give everyone on the face of the earth the ability to limit birth to a single child. Governments would be required to devote a whatever portion of their Gross Domestic Product is necessary to the provision of artificial birth control devices of any and all types including sterilization, at low or no cost as appropriate, to their citizens, no matter the age of the citizens once a citizen reaches the age he/she can physically reproduce. This would also include instruction as how to use the devices. This would also include education of both males and females that the birth of a second child would result in the execution of the father and mother as well as the child. Governments would be required to provide safe, as much as any medical procedure can be safe, and low cost or free access to abortion. If any person, either male or female, had more than two failures of birth control devices, it would be conclusively presumed that the person was unable to use birth control devices and the person would be physically and permanently sterilized.
If poor nations were unable to devote the necessary funds to accomplish the one child rule in five years, the rich nations of the world would be required to assist the poor nations, after an evaluation that the poor nations were doing the best they could under some reasonable standard. Since survival of our species depends on reducing population below the current 6.7 billion humans now alive, the necessary funds to establish the system to control population must be made available. It should be emphasized that a “One-Child-Per-Family” (OCPF) law that is almost completely effective will not suffice. It must be totally and universally effective. After a five year preparation period, the rule must be enforced. The reduction in population would continue under the one child rule until all of humanity agreed upon the method and criteria necessary to implement the two group solution described herein. Population would continue to be reduced pursuant to the method and criteria of the two group solution until it reached 300 million or some other lower number agreed upon by humanity. The number finally agreed upon would be based on the ability of the earth to provide resources for humanity to maintain an acceptable standard of living for a minimum of 25,000 years. And 25,000 years is infinitely small when compared to the 160 million years the dinosaurs ruled the earth.
No doubt any proposal that would recommend capital punishment for transgressors of the One-Child-Per-Family law presently evokes immediate revulsion and rejection. Outside the context of an imminent die-off, given our heritage of moral, religious and cultural programming, I would be surprised if it didn’t. An example which shows that morality changes when circumstances change follows.
Any Londoner who proposed in August 1938 that the Royal Air Force should one day bomb German cities with women and children in them would be summarily dismissed as a callous barbarian. But just two years later Londoners were clamouring for that action. Reality has a way of effecting abrupt ethical changes.
What is not presently comprehended by almost all of humanity is that we are now in an emergency. Our species is on the brink of an unparalleled catastrophe—our destruction and the destruction of our civilization. It is a matter of complete indifference to me that many, if not all, readers will find the execution of anyone having a second child to be horrible and against every moral precept they learned or understood was applicable to humanity. The problem is not that my prescriptions are immoral or horrible. Rather the problem is that the situation humanity finds itself in is horrible.
I will now remind the readers that under the law I propose every individual would be well aware of the consequences of flouting the law. Which of the two evils is worse--- a) executing anyone who knowingly violates the one child rule; or b) not reducing population such that the vast majority or probably all of humanity is destroyed? Under this system fertility drugs would not be permitted or if they were permitted and used, only one child would be permitted to be born alive or the rest would be destroyed at birth, if more than one were born alive. If a women gave birth to more than one child and fertility drugs or any other actions to increase fertility or the number of children born were not the cause, those children would be permitted to live. Each individual will have a very clear choice—execution or birth control or sterilization or abortion or abstinence.
SUSTAINABILITY CHOICE: POLITICAL SECESSION & ECONOMIC RELOCALISATION:
“[T]o highlight the current historical contradiction: an alleged one-world government is diametrically opposed to hundreds of small, autonomous nations, although both global constructs require and envision the dissolution of the large industrial nation-state in order to succeed. This contradiction cannot be stated emphatically enough. The pending crisis entails a showdown of worldviews with the large industrial nation-state caught in the middle and cast in the role of historical albatross for both competing tendencies.” -- Ethno Nationalist Secession-by-Default: Post-Peak Oil Devolution of the Industrial Nation-State, Sebastian Ronin, the Chairman of Renaissance Party (Canada)In The Secession Solution, Kirkpatrick Sale examines the principle of Aristotle’s wisdom on the importance of limiting the size of political units:
“We all have to prepare for life without much money, where imported goods are scarce, and where people have to provide for their own needs, and those of their immediate neighbours. I will take as my point of departure the unfolding collapse of the global economy, and discuss what might come next. It started with the collapse of the financial markets last year, and is now resulting in unprecedented decreases in the volumes of international trade. These developments are also starting to affect the political stability of various countries around the world. A few governments have already collapsed, others may be on their way, and before too long we may find our maps redrawn in dramatic ways.” – Dmitry Orlov, Definancialisation, Deglobalisation, Relocalisation“Experience shows that a very populous city can rarely, if ever, be well governed; since all cities which have a reputation for good government have a limit of population. We may argue on grounds of reason, and the same result will follow: for law is order, and good law is good order; but a very great multitude cannot be orderly.”He proceeds to contemplate “what in today’s world would constitute the ideal, or optimum, size of a political state.”Let us start by looking at modern nations to give us some clue as to population sizes that actually work. Among the nations that are recognized models of statecraft, eight are below 500,000: Luxembourg, Malta, Iceland, Barbados, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, and San Marino.In When Zombies Attack, Thomas E. Woods Jr, responds to the knee-jerk hysterical reactions to his book Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century, endorsed in principle by Martha Dean, a candidate for governor general in Connecticut, who repeated the argument that the States have a duty to act on behalf of their citizens, and nullify any clearly unconstitutional federal law. Among others he asks under “what conditions liberty is more likely to flourish: with a multiplicity of competing jurisdictions, or one giant jurisdiction?”
Of the 14 states generally reckoned freest in the world, 9 have populations below Switzerland’s, at 7.7 million, and 11 below Sweden’s, at 9.3 million; the only sizable states are Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany (the largest, at 81 million).
There are other national rankings. Literacy: Of the 46 countries that claim a literacy rate of 99 or better, 25 are below 7.5 million. Health: Measured by the World Health Organization, 9 of the top 20 are under 7 million. In 2009 rankings of happiness and standard of living, the top countries were Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Netherlands, Australia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, Denmark, Austria, and Finland; all but Canada and Australia have small populations.
Enough of that. The point, I trust, is well and simply made. The figures seem to suggest that there is an optimum size of a successful state, somewhere in the range of 3 million to 5 million people.
[..] And if we measure economic strength by per capita GDP, small countries prove to be decidedly advantageous. Seventy-seven percent of the most prosperous countries are small. And most of them are quite small indeed: under 10,000 square miles.
Administrative, distribution, transportation, and similar transaction costs obviously rise, perhaps exponentially, as geographic size increases. Control and communication also become more difficult to manage over long distances, often to the point where central authority and governance become nearly impossible.
I propose that, out of these figures and even more so out of the history of the world, results a Law of Government Size, and it goes like this: Economic and social misery increase in direct proportion to the size and power of the central government of a nation.
The consolidation of nations into powerful empires leads not to shining periods of peace and prosperity and the advance of human betterment, but to increasing restriction, warfare, autocracy, crowding, immiseration, inequality, poverty, and starvation.
[..] The argument for secession need not focus exclusively on population or geographic size—one might factor in cultural cohesion, developed infrastructure, historical identity—but that seems to be the sensible place to start in considering viable states. And since the experience of the world has shown that populations ranging from 3 million to 5 million are optimal for governance and efficiency, that is as good a measure as any to use to begin assessing secessionist potential and chances of success as independent states.
He supports his argument with that made by Ralph Raico in The Theory of Economic Development and the 'European Miracle' that it was the decentralisation of power, which contributed to the European Miracle of the Renaissance’s development of liberty:Within this [decentralized power] system, it was highly imprudent for any prince to attempt to infringe property rights in the manner customary elsewhere in the world. In constant rivalry with one another, princes found that outright expropriations, confiscatory taxation, and the blocking of trade did not go unpunished. The punishment was to be compelled to witness the relative economic progress of one's rivals, often through the movement of capital, and capitalists, to neighboring realms. The possibility of "exit," facilitated by geographical compactness and, especially, by cultural affinity, acted to transform the state into a "constrained predator" (Anderson 1991, 58).In Economic Relocalization: A Strategic Response to Peak Oil and Climate Change, Jason Bradford provide a brief overview of the System’s Theory of Ecological Economics, when Ecological Overshoot occurs. In order to avoid or mitigate Mother Nature’s harsh consequences of Ecological Overshoot, he argues that Relocalisation is the strategic response to Ecological Overshoot:
Decentralization of power also came to mark the domestic arrangements of the various European polities. Here feudalism — which produced a nobility rooted in feudal right rather than in state-service — is thought by a number of scholars to have played an essential role (see, e.g., Baechler 1975, 78). Through the struggle for power within the realms, representative bodies came into being, and princes often found their hands tied by the charters of rights (Magna Carta, for instance) which they were forced to grant their subjects. In the end, even within the relatively small states of Europe, power was dispersed among estates, orders, chartered towns, religious communities, corps, universities, etc., each with its own guaranteed liberties. The rule of law came to be established throughout much of the Continent.
Relocalization starts from the premise that the world is a finite place and that humanity is in a state of overshoot. Perpetual growth of the economy and the population is neither possible nor desirable. It is wise to start planning now for a world with less available energy, not more.
[..] Economic and population growth was made possible by the synergies permitted by cheap energy. The limits of productivity in one locality (i.e., Liebigs Law) could be overcome by importing something in excess elsewhere. A global economy advocating that each place seek its comparative advantage and specialize in what it produced for the market place required that money, governance, and even customs be more homogenized worldwide. As free trade agreements became the norm and social barriers to trade were reduced, the power of resource synergies permitting more economic growth became apparent to more and more people in the world. Most only saw its benefits and few worried about the long-term liabilities it imposed.
There are a few flawed assumptions behind globalization, but one in particular is glaring: the assumption that transportation costs will always be low, both in terms of fuel availability and the environmental externalities associated with their use.
If that assumption is false—and certainly peak oil and climate change makes it appear false—then localities should not be specializing to trade globally. For example, I live on the edge of premium wine country. There are far more grapes here than the local population can eat, but we lack just about every other kind of food production in sufficient quantity. As long as we can sell our wine to a global market and buy the other stuff we need this situation seems reasonable. But a peak oil perspective makes us feel vulnerable, and a climate change perspective calls this irresponsible.
Because all localities that have bought into the global market place have specialized to some extent, all could face shortages of some set of basic goods. In the past, global trade was for luxury items, like silk or spices, or key resources that permitted basic items to be made at home more efficiently, like organic fertilizer and metals. The loss of a trade partner would be problematic, but probably not catastrophic.
Relocalization advocates rebuilding more balanced local economies that emphasize securing basic needs. Local food, energy and water systems are perhaps the most critical to build. In the absence of reliable trade partners, whether from peak oil, natural disaster or political instability, a local economy that at least produces its essential goods will have a true comparative advantage.
[..] Responding appropriately to the problems of climate change and peak oil and gas requires an understanding based on a systems perspective. From this angle, clear limits exist for the ability of our society to maintain growth in both resource consumption and pollution. However, most of our economic and social norms do not recognize these limits, and therefore find it difficult to respond to current threats.
Relocalization recognizes the liabilities of fossil fuel dependency and promotes greater security through redevelopment of local and regional economies more or less self-reliant in terms of energy, food and water systems. Many social benefits might accrue to a relocalized society, including greater job stability, employment diversity, community cohesion, and public health.
So, given the reality of economic collapse, as a result of Peak Oil; it imperative for communities to relocalize their economies. Whether relocalisation becomes a widespread adaptation strategy to Peak Oil out of choice, or whether it is forced upon communities out of necessity, the local community and region will become of increasing importance – “not only because the availability of basic resources needed for human survival differs from place to place, but also because retrograde notions of human rights, governance and education are likely to be reinstituted..”
It is consequently obvious that relocalizing economic activity shall result in the decentralisation of national governmental and political power, towards regional and local. Consequently Peak Oil secessionist movements, consider political decentralisation as a close cousin of economic relocalisation -- the increasingly urgent need many of us to feel to create our own local currencies, grow more of our own food, harvest our own energy, and the like.