Friday, October 11, 2013

plundering the planet

cassandralegacy | Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here and my task today is to tell you about something that stands at the basis of everything we do: mineral resources. It it is the subject of a book that is the result of a research program sponsored by the Club of Rome and that has involved me and 16 co-authors.

For the time being we have only the German version, we are working at the English one, but that will take some time - a few months. In any case, the title should be clear to you even if you don't speak German and you can notice that we say "The Plundered Planet;" not "The Improved Planet", or "The Developed Planet". No, this is the concept: plundering. We have been acting with mineral resources as if we were pirates looting a captured galleon: grabbing everything we can, as fast as we can. 
Now, of course, there is a problem with the idea of plundering planet Earth. It is how long we can go on plundering. At the basic level, it is a question of common sense: we know that once we have burned oil, it is gone. We know that after we have dispersed copper in tiny bits all over we can't recover it any more. We know that diamonds are forever, perhaps, but also that once we have taken them out of a mine, then there are no more diamonds in there. Mineral resources are not infinite. 
So, there is this nagging question: how long can we go on mining? It is a question that started being asked in the 19th century and the answer is both easy and difficult. It is easy to say "not forever," but it is difficult to say for how long, exactly. So, what form will take depletion? How is it going to be felt on the economy. And, since we see ourselves as very smart, can we find some trick to avoid, or at least delay, the problem?
The first study that attempted to quantify these question was a report that was sponsored by the club of Rome back in 1972. You have surely heard about it: here is the cover of that book.
Now, you have probably also heard that this study was "wrong," that is, that it had made wrong predictions, that it was based on bad data and flawed models, and similar accusations. That was the result of a wave of criticism, a true tsunami I'd say, that engulfed the book and its authors after the study was published. The authors were accused of being not just wrong, but part of a global conspiracy aimed at enslaving humankind and exterminating the colored races (I am not kidding, that was said several times).

However, if there was such a harsh reaction to the book, it was also because it went to the core of some of the basic assumptions of our society, of our deeply held belief that, somehow, not only growth is always good, but that we can keep growing forever. But the book said that it wasn't possible. And it didn't say just that, it said that the limits to growth were to appear in a time span that was not of centuries, but just of decades. Below, you can see the main results of the 1972 study, the run that was called the "base case" (or "standard run"). The calculations were redone in 2004, finding similar results.


BigDonOne said...

Unlike BD, Subrealism and Ugo Dude just aren't thinking out of the box.

There is a long range solution to this problem if resources are properly managed. With appropriate research, controlled fusion power can be solved. With virtually unlimited power available, and rejecting waste process heat to space, any element or compound needed can be produced by nuclear reactions rearranging the basic fundamental building blocks (protons, neutrons, electrons). All you need of anything can be available after the naturally occurring resources are mined-out and used up.

Unfortunately, we can never get there if most available resources are committed to cradle-to-grave socialist liberal support of useless-breathing EBT-swiping OOW-bred unproductive IQ-75 parasitic LOOZerz. Those monies need to properly go to research grants and development that will get this sustainability thing done.

Population needs to be controlled. LOOZerz should be sterilized and reproduction thereafter licensed to parents with suitable DNA to produce humans who can actually contribute to a sustainable world..................

John Kurman said...

Something that struck me as funny: (snip)"it shows a gigantic wheel used to scrape coal out of the ground... It is difficult to think that we could be so smart to find ways to extract coal without using this kind of equipment. Think of substituting that giant wheel with an I-Pad!" (backslash-snip)

So, obvious humor aside (how many iPads would it take to dig up that coal?), what is the actual cost? Which is more sustainable to make? That wheel or an iPad? I can tell that that wheel cost literally pennies per pound, and the iPad maybe $100-150 per pound. The iPad tech is still not mature, required trillions in historical Defense outlays and subsidies, required tens of millions of humans for it to be made manifest, and that wheel represents an 1870s mature technology that takes no more than a few thousand humans to make. So, I understand the guy's good intentions, but come on, let's look at the whole web of technology and food-powered robots behind a product before we start making silly pronouncements.

Nakajima Kikka said...

Population needs to be controlled. LOOZerz should be sterilized and
reproduction thereafter licensed to parents with suitable DNA to produce
humans who can actually contribute to a sustainable

Gattaca. That's pretty much it, no?

John Kurman said...

Yeah, the middle-brow LOOZer never knows they lost the DNA/RNA/protein combination to deter cancer or prevent birth defects found only in that "genetic inferior" they got rid of. Whoopsie-daisy. Limited vision types do that a lot. It's why we can't have nice things.

CNu said...

lol, GATTACA's coming, but not likely in our lifetimes. Before these humans can get on with their selective breeding end-game, they must first, at least, have the objectives of the BRAIN and Human Microbiome projects securely under their belts.

smdh..., and I simply can't believe that nobody taxed that wrinkled ass's HOT (hope, optimism, technology) breath on fusion energy...., first and foremost, thorium comes online as a bridge loooooong before anything else. It's proven, comparatively cheap, abundant, and safe. The barriers to implementation are exclusively commercial and political. Second, unless there's really a compact fusion reactor sitting in the bowels of the skunkworks, that shit's NOT going to happen within our lifetimes - and - it would be a far greater disaster for these humans than a benefit under existing political, economic, ethical, and other contextualizing conditions.

BigDonOne said...

No, it isn't. Anyone of any IQ is welcome to survive, breed, and run for president, just as long as they require no public funds. And if you wanna raise a Down Syndrome as a pet, fine as long as you pay all the cost privately.
Public support for poverty types should not be an entitlement; there needs to be a serious penalty for that to encourage personal responsibility. As soon as anyone goes to the public trough for survival, it's *ST* (sterilization time)......

umbrarchist said...

Where is Demand Side Depreciation?