Lonewolf sent me this article link, Peak Oil and Famine: Four Billion Deaths.
Read this first, because both Lonewolf and I have some commentary to make regarding the several assumptions made by the author.
Goodchild errs on several points. The Earth’s population is most definitely NOT “automatically adjusted” to the Earth’s carrying capacity. Not even close. We have been in population overshoot for several decades now. All of the generations alive today are part of the population overshoot, which is in excess of 4 – 5 billion people.
This has been permitted due to energy production and the ability to convert that energy into food. In the petroleum era, this has been almost entirely the result of the symbiotic relationship between oil and agriculture. However, peak oil has already occurred, and the planet’s population decline hasn’t even gotten started yet. This is because we are still existing on the dregs of our former production. This includes stored energy in the form of food and the ongoing production of food of oil-dependent mega-farms all over the world.
This food and remaining oil is now being rapidly consumed, and reports from around the world are screaming to be heard. We are in a global food decline, and this situation will become more serious with each passing month.
The coming “famine deaths” will be extreme as energy sources decline. Combined with climate change and we’ve got severe problems headed our way. Four billion deaths is a real number, but not in the next hundred years. This is much more likely to happen in the next 20 years.
I’ve pointed out before that all the things we take for granted, such as entertainment, democracy, “rights”, leisure, even national identity, are all permitted because of “abundance”. Abundance affords these things. Abundance depends upon energy. Energy can be stored energy, such as liquid sunshine (petroleum) or current energy such as solar energy. The problem with solar energy is it isn’t enough for that “rainy day” when things go catastrophically wrong. A single failed crop season for a subsistence living society could easily mean the devastation of that society.
Our society has pushed forward, year by year in population, infrastructure and importantly, it’s dependency upon stored energy. If that store of energy is threatened, depleted or even destroyed, the entire society it has built will crumble and fall — quickly. Four billion deaths or more could happen in less then a single decade.
Few believe this could happen, but I’m in Lovelock’s camp. I believe it can and will happen, soon. The global resource wars among the nations are already underway. The race to the Arctic is a desperate gambit to preserve the status quo is all over the news. The utter complete failure of the oil industry to switch to renewable energy is already legendary.
Declining energy supplies are already impacting food production all over the world. The danger is obvious — how soon will our constant consumption outstrip our ability to simply feed ourselves, thereby causing famine?
Here are Lonewolf’s comments (emphasis mine):
IMO The author has a few critical assumptions wrong. He apparently presumes that remaining oil will be more or less equally distributed (on a per capita basis) and also employed directly in food production to a similar extent as it has in the past (recent history). I ‘say’ neither of these will be the case. The scarcer oil becomes the more extreme the price – the price to supply relationship is NOT linear (FAR from it). The higher the price, the fewer than can afford it – meaning access the production derived thereof. The ultra-elite will be relatively unaffected in their enclaves for at least a generation.
The ‘middle class’ (what remains of it) will be rapidly driven into poverty and suffer effects of malnutrition and disease. The poor will not ‘be a problem’ as they will drop dead (like always). Who (here) gives a ‘flying bush’ if pigmented peoples across the globe drop like flies so long as “the American way-of-life’ is relatively unaffected (which is another delusion altogether).
As oil becomes increasingly valuable and fewer people can afford food, less will be used in agriculture pursuits (IMO) while the uber-rich will continue flying in their private jets, etc (use an increasing percentage to maintain their ‘privileged’ status. An ever greater percentage of the oil produced will also go into a) ‘medicines’ and plastics, b) into military activity (murderous adventures of the permanent petrol wars), c) hoarded by the ‘elite’ and/or corporate ‘interests’ and/or d) in vain attempts to keep the lights on (grid connected).
His calculation omits ‘natural’ deaths and effects of climate induced crop ‘losses’ as well as pestilence and warfare in all it’s guises and forms. He postulated 3.6 Billion famine deaths this century and another 1 to 2 billion in the 22nd century. Ha ha ha. I say he is totally naive. I ‘see’ that many deaths or more due to famine, climates shifts and warfare in my remaining ‘expected’ lifetime (20 years or less). Combined the devastations of famine, climate, and war and what do you get? Disease. Epidemic pestilence. So subtract another billion of two within decades – not centuries. I ‘say’ is equally possible to reduce the human population to below 1 Billion within a decade – especially if Herr Furher and his spawn have their way.
Either I am FAR far far more cynical and pessimistic than ‘your average doomer’ or even the ‘alarmists’ don’t see (won’t look at) the ‘big picture’.
Peak Oil is Peak Food but it’s also so much more. It’s Peak Delusions, Peak Fairy Tale, Peak (War and) Peace, Peak Pain, Peak Freak-Out, Peak Panic, Peak Life (death), Peak People, Peak Everything you and I have ever known. The future will NOT be a slightly more intense version of the present. The future will be unrecognizable to all but the top 1% or less of the ‘West’. With no experience/precedence whatsoever with what is to come. people will do what people do best – panic (flight and/or fight) The future is an entirely different planet than we have or can know and therefore humans will become a very different species over a evolutionary instant (derived from a handful of remote indigenous peoples who may survive).
I very much fear that he is right. The relationship modern civilization has to abundant, cheap energy is being consistently underestimated by even the “doomers”. Our ability to simply feed ourselves will not just switch over to “sustainable methods” like many seem to think, and even if it could, this totally fails to take into account all the other factors that will affect our survival.
I have a few more thoughts on this theme: Many seem to envision a transition to a “new world”, that will gently sweep out the old. I disagree, I don’t think it’s possible or will even be allowed. A self-sufficient society is a society that does not need the old vanguard — do you honestly believe that they will allow this without a fight? The United States has made a special point of destroying self-sufficient peoples all over the world — do we really believe that this will now change and they will actually help usher this in?
Collapse is exactly what they want to keep us fighting over the resources that they control. Self-sufficiency removes that control and is the reason why it’s not even allowed today. Collapse will destroy the weak, poor and poorly prepared, but it will not destroy the elite. Not right away and perhaps, not ever if they can manage to maintain their positions as plantation owners.
That is the plan. It’s already evidenced around the world as the corporate conglomerates take over the nations, destroying entire countries for plunder and profit, and gazillionaires buy up the world’s remaining resources. A poor, dependent population is a controllable, enslaved population.
Those who are waiting for a new world of abundance and free energy, self-sufficiency and green, healthy living are going to be waiting a long, long time. This will not happen until the old vanguard (and their suckling progeny) are totally destroyed.
The status quo isn’t simply going to go away because the world is running out of food and oil. The future promises to be dark, violent, brutal and ugly, far beyond what most people dare to fear.
We’ve been setup. All of us. Understand that, and plan accordingly. It’s the only chance you will ever have.