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T he complex modern way of life that has increasingly besieged the planet in recent generations is devouring resources far faster than ever in human history. Not just obvious things like oil, coal and natural gas, but also a host of metals, minerals and elements that we use every day. If industrialized nations started running out of some of these things, massive disruptions would result. History is full of examples, both human and otherwise, of the chilling consequences to a society or population that overruns its resources.
Last year the world population passed 7 billion, and more thanare added to that number every day. Meanwhile, a burgeoning global middle class is suddenly demanding luxuries that have long been restricted to the Western world: meat in their diet and oil-burning cars, for example.
Unsurprisingly, last year, world oil use reached a record high of Appetite for several other commodities is also rising. William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel have produced a model for estimating the ecological demands that various standards of living put on the planet, called the Global Footprint Network gfn. They estimate that the average person on Earth needs 4.
Considering living standards, the average person in China needs 5. The reality is, current demand is already rapidly depleting supplies of finite resources such as Theme For An Imaginary Western - Mountain - The Best Of Mountain, coal, natural gas, metals, minerals and even water.
New discoveries of easily accessed sources are getting more rare, and older sources are declining in output. Peaking supply and rising demand point to the inevitability of a crunch that, at the very least, would drive prices up to levels that could ruin already fragile economies. One obvious sign of the approach of this crisis point is the means by which more and more resources are being collected today. Because easily accessible reservoirs of many crucial resources are disappearing, governments and corporations have begun to exploit more difficult-to-reach, expensive, environmentally risky and even dangerous sources.
Oil, for example, is being coaxed out of the inhospitable Arctic, or the deep oceans, creating disasters like that in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of It is coming from tar sands, a costly process that takes an enormous amount of energy to harvest and convert into usable form. Rare earths, a group of minerals used in a variety of modern technologies, are in extremely short supply.
Because of the environmental dangers of mining them, America shut down its production of them years ago. Meanwhile, China bought up a virtual monopoly on them, and now is able to practically hold to ransom the rest of the world that seeks to Afterworld (Out Of Rands Emphased Mix) - Arctic Moon - Afterworld them. One of the most basic human needs is Afterworld (Out Of Rands Emphased Mix) - Arctic Moon - Afterworldand the looming limits on food production are many.
Rising oil and gas prices increase food production costs at every level of the process, including for the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that are used in growing the crops.
Arable land is becoming scarcer, in part because of soil degradation and erosion from ruinous farming practices. Adverse weather events like droughts and floods are increasing, which reduce crop yields or even wipe out harvests. They also estimate that for what humanity consumes in 12 months, it takes the planet 18 months to regenerate. What is beginning to emerge, then, is an increasingly combative environment in which each country angles to secure its own future by staking its claims at whatever cost it deems necessary.
Africa and Latin America are becoming battlegrounds, particularly for China and European nations, over who will control the commodities locked away there. Several countries, particularly in Asia, anticipating trouble on the horizon, have been snapping up huge tracts of African farmland—not to feed Africans, but to ensure that their own people have enough food in the future. Competition over energy resources Chaos - Faris Nourallah - Il Suo Cuore Di Transistor increasingly shaping the way major powers deal with one another, with energy exporters using political leverage How I Could Just Kill A Man - Various - Ruffhouse Records Greatest Hits importers that are dependent on them.
Again, history vividly illustrates the kind of consequences such rivalry tends to create: famines, broken economies, societal upheaval, war.
But it is not just history that should raise our concerns. These are Afterworld (Out Of Rands Emphased Mix) - Arctic Moon - Afterworld the sorts of perilous conditions that biblical prophecy reveals will besiege our world in its final days, the beginning of which we are in right now.
Epic clashes within and among populations, many of them over resources, are coming! Getty Images. Signs loom that we are nearing a crossroads: Demand for the stuff that fuels modern life is outpacing supply.
Things could get ugly, fast.
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