This spells doom for our civilization, and I so truly wish that this was hyperbole. Right now, it’s hard to see our resource problem because it’s obscured by so many other issues. But, in a few short decades our civilization is going to come to a crashing halt because it will have run out of the vital resources it needs to maintain 7.1 billion people in a modern, comfortable lifestyle.
Of course, the lack of resources won’t destroy our civilization. No, it will be our struggle for what’s left of those resources that will destroy our civilization. To put it another way, we will kill each other over the right to control and consume those resources that have suddenly become very, very expensive. Here’s what I said on Monday:
Uranium, platinum and rare earths production are in decline, while prices continue to increase. We continue to extract oil and coal at 2006 levels, but the energy content per unit is declining – while prices continue to increase. Aluminum, copper, gold and silver appear to have hit a production plateau, while demand for these commodities continue to increase. And, all of this is happening while attempts to drill and mine these resources are increasing. Even agriculture, fresh water and fish stocks are in global decline. What will happen when resource decline turns into resource collapse?
Subscribe to The Shock Letter and receive my articles in your inbox:
When I was studying for my MBA, we were loaded down with model after model for how good societies and good businesses work. Every single one of those models required exponential growth to succeed. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
The problem is that exponential growth will always fail when confronted with limited resources – because exponential growth consumes resources exponentially. And, I was never taught this in business school. Never.
Maybe I should be thankful that I was alive during the exuberance of the ’80s and ’90s. We were masters of all that we saw, and it was awesome to be alive during that time. But the horror of what we will see over the next couple of decades will erase all of that.
Remember that your biggest danger in any long term disaster isn’t the disaster itself – it’s your neighbors. People will ALWAYS be a bigger threat than a lack of food, water or electricity, because people will ALWAYS fight to take what they need – unless their personal values say otherwise.
Well, what works at a personal level, also works at a national level. When a country needs a certain resource, they will take what they cannot buy. That’s why war will dominate our lives over the next decade, or so. And, I fear that the casualties will number in the billions.
Again, this is not hyperbole. History shows how easily nations resort to murder when someone has what they want. And, as the cost of resource extraction gets higher and higher, we will be ever more ready to kill each other to get what we want and preserve what we have. And, over seven billion people will do it with the most efficient and destructive weapons in the history of the world.
Welcome to the end of the world. Please enjoy your stay.
For a bit more analysis on this subject, check out my Resource Shock category:
Also, here is a fantastic video that does a wonderful job analyzing the situation that we find ourselves in:
There’s No Tomorrow (peak oil, energy, growth & the future)
Video by Incubate Pictures
If you find a flaw in my reasoning, or wish to offer a different explanation, leave a comment. Your input is truly welcome.
Click the following link and SHOCK your inbox with The Shock Letter: