Watched a lecture on-line [pray I'm not breaking a rule in referring to]by Prof Albert Barlette, about dwindling oil resource and expanding world population. He stimulated an interest in this not too distant future when oil production declines precipitously, and world population is at an all time high. Then what happens? Collective agriculture, ie huge farms supplying food to the world's cities, is presently dependent upon nitrogen derived from petrolem. The other two minerals that crops need, phospherous and potash, are not unlimited. Farming requires diesel fuel. As oil runs out and collective agricultural [as kids we were told collective agriculture is what Communism was!] production then consequently declines. If a lag in consciousness [which might be the Zeitgeist of present day] does not preclude population expansion, then all bets are off on democracy and individual rights as the world is thrown into convolution of a return to a world sans the combustion engine. On its heels will be exhaustion of coal for power plants as still are being built in China. Maybe natural gas will be the last fossil fuel to deplete, but as oil wells run dry and coal fields lay stripped, and the world population consumption requirements are at a peak, natural gas will deplete in a short period of historical time. Will solar and wind provide energy for the electrical needs of exponential numbers of our species, which will have become a plague unto itself, by its numbers destroying the very quality of life, individuality, society, democracy -- what people think of when they are young with hope and picket fence dreams.
It's not hard to envision that computer scientists and engineers will rule the world, the only way possible to deal with the needs of masses that would have shocked Marx and Ortega y Gasset [Revolt of the Masses]. 5000 years of civilization passed, [the last 500 years of Western Civ], before the industrial "revolution" began a population increase which grows exponentially and will reach its peak when resources can no longer sustain the mass of human biological needs.
If humans were really conscious [we primarily sleepwalk in sub/unconscious habit], they would prepare for the inevitable by collective reduction of overall world population, to some sustainable number where people have acres or hectares to raise food organically, because organic will be the only option without fertilizer. Having grown up on a farm, and I am old enough to have seen what production was like without fertilizer. Soil is depleted in 10 years, crop rotation is necessary to restore nutrients plants require. Manure provides nitrogen but present farming that produces corn and soy beans only on huge tracts would simply be over without synthetic nitrogen or phospherous and potash. Ethonol depends upon corn that will one day cease to be produced in the vast amounts needed by this civilization.
The peak of world population will be halted not by rational humans but by Mother Nature herself, when she can no longer sustain the production of food resources for masses upon masses then without fossil fuels. If only the 20th & 21st centuries had not wasted so much. What reduction of world population is required to ensure not only biological survival, but the survival of what Western Civilization gave us, namely individualism with its guaranteed liberties, knowledge, science, and a quality of life that resulted therefrom? A time will come upon your grandchildren perhaps, when the quality of life will be inversely proportionate to the quantity of human life. At present, population growth continues at rates that become exponential over decades. At present, we have not faced the history to come by which we shall be judged and found lacking. Only a collective change of consciousness -- even only among women would be sufficient -- will prepare our generational children for a life of human dignity and decency. As humans, we are not separate from the habitat of Nature of which we are only one manifestation. It is too late to preserve and reserve fossil fuel resources for civilization to come. Nuclear energy also depends upon a resource that is very limited, if the impression I got decades ago was accurate.
New technologies, solar and wind, hydrogen -- who knows, are some ray of hope for sustainable energy. Will it replace the billions of barrels of oil, the tens of thousands tons of coal, the natural gas by whatever measure, to say nothing about our two most precious resources, water and clean air? We are ill advised to use those hopes as an excuse against being motivated by pending realities, and acting to reduce the need for resources by choosing quality of life over quantity of life. If we accept responsibility for controlling births to reduce population, and it really has to be collectively to be effective, to live sustainably upon the earth, then we lay a foundation for human life for millenia to come.
As Professor Albert Barlette noted in his lecture, if viewed 5000 years from now, the short spanse of two centuries during which all the world's fossil fuels were used, will appear as no more than a blip on a graph depicting 5000 years preceding that period and 5000 years after it. We are already in a new epoch, the Carsonian epoch, in which the human species will acknowledge our relationship to the Earth and Nature, and if we are to survive, to adapt the actions that are taken to fulfill those needs, to the needs of the Earth and Nature in her habitat. Toward that epochal challenge, the reduction of world population in advance of the depletion of fossil fuels, is most imperative to prepare against a catastrophe certain to come.
[I did not proofread or refine, excuse the grammar and syntax, never my strong point. But my first foray in casual cafe talk. Anyhow it's the subject that's the main thing.]