Green Capitalism - Waves of the Future

Climate Change, Non-Renewable Resources, Energy, Contaminants, Carbon Pricing...

The Depletion Wall

Population Growth, Social Collapse, Energy, Carbon Emissions, and the Management of Non-Renewable Resources

Renewable Energy & Resource Management

Overview  Reviews

See also Book I of the Waves of the Future Series



In his book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond (2005) pointed out the many mistakes that have led to the decline or demise of societies of the past. Of course, a long time ago, people did not have the knowledge that we have today, making it much more difficult for them to identify both problems and solutions.

This is not the case for us. Generally speaking, we have a good understanding of environmental issues and how to address them. But we fail to act, and failed to take action in the early 1970s when much of what is to come could still be avoided. We are now over 40 years later with a world population twice what it was then, worldwide food reserves are at their lowest point in recent history, the economy is teetering, and shortages of non-renewable resources are in sight.

Many scoff at the idea of a Malthusian crisis for humanity. Others can see the inevitable but are still in disbelief at the fact that something just too horrible to contemplate could come to pass. The bad news is, we already are in a Malthusian crisis, and we are long past the point where the world could still escape unscathed.

Our massive population numbers will continue to grow for decades, and our capital stocks of minerals are seriously depleted. It is just a matter of time before the world hits the Depletion Wall. Whether this means a severe crisis that can be managed or an actual collapse remains to be seen.

The one billion people going hungry today, the dozens of pollutants found in our own bodies, and the dwindling reserves of many minerals are all telltale signs of a Malthusian crisis. Yet, few seem to be connecting the dots.

The Green Economic Environment is a big part of the solution to today's problems, especially because of its revenue neutrality. The other part is depopulation. Numbers clearly show that the economics of population growth are highly problematic and that depopulation is the only option that could lead to improved standards of living in the future. We have the solutions; will we once again fail to act?

In the 1970s, people thought that national debts would never catch up with us. Governments borrowed and borrowed to support employment and social programs. People were in deep denial, unable to face the world without that manna from heaven—or from their own children, that is. They did not want to admit to themselves that increasing national debts could not go on forever, that it would have to come to a stop.

Being in denial did not prevent national debts from catching up with us as they are doing now. The US, the largest and most dynamic economy on the planet, has recently been rocked to its foundations. We are in the same position today with respect to resources and the environment. We know that they are irreplaceable capital and that we are depleting them rapidly.

The fact that a world collapse is just too horrible to contemplate will not in itself stop it from happening. Just as surely as the national debts caught up with us, the environment will do the same. It already has for all we know. We can either wait till things get much worse—and costly to fix—or we can act now.

The Fifth Wave is coming and will change the world as we know it. It will either take the form of countries actively depopulating and restructuring their economies in anticipation of a future of scarcity or of the world rushing headfirst into a Depletion Wall.


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