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Peak Everything Answered

According to TreeHugger, we're running out of 8 important resources. Oil is getting a lot of attention now, but get ready for other prices to go up as well.

No matter how you look at it, the Earth is finite. There is only so much space and so much stuff on it. With more and more people wanting more and more things, we're bound to hit our limits. The question now is whether we've already hit them and, if not, why wait?

Peak Everything



10 years ago

its only the /peak/ this time around It is my select pleasure to hope for challenges orders of magnitude more horrifying and ironic. I don't think that humanity will render biology incapable of re-evolving a frontal lobe. besides this is the perfect opportunity's to brace for impact as we cross the galactic plane.

And yet it all runs back to the exact same refrain!

We have pushed up the cost of oil, so the cost of the fertiliser has gone up, along with the cost of driving the tractor, or driving the tractor driver to work, or driving the grain to the factory... so the cost of food has risen.

The cost of heating the food has also gone up, along with the cost of shipping everything after cooking.

The dirt is going because of the high-intensity farming that is driven by the desperate need to grow hundreds of tonnes of food because the prices are, bizarrely, still so low. (Note that in countries with lower intensity farming, that have a rich government who can afford the subsidy, this isn't such an issue, but this means paying people to do nothing a lot. Poorer countries don't have this luxury, as they don't have anything beyond agriculture.)

Gas is costing (peaking?) at the exact same rate as petrol/diesel and so on, because it is just another fuel. If the price of whatever heats your powerstation goes up, you switch to burning more of the cheaper fuel in your other powerstations. Bringing the cost of the other fuel up. And all this drives up the cost of electricity. Which leads us to...

Peak water. Part of the issue here is that there are many desalination plants coming online. These also use lots of power. And power is getting expensive. As for *actually* running out of water, that's rubbish. It's just that people are economically able to live in stupid places, because water and other things are so cheap you can live in the desert. It is only now prices are being pushed up that it becomes obvious. (Note that the Niagra Falls are turned off at night for the hydroelectric power.)

As for rice, that mostly comes down to the issue of the Chinese economy now having huge amounts of money. This means they can pay more for the rice, so the prices go up as demand increases. Yes, this sounds slightly mad, but it is what happens - people get richer and they decide to breed because now they can afford more kids. They don't need to ship the food overseas for money, because they have 70% of the world's manufacturing capacity now, and more spare money than they know what to do with. Rats have nothing to do with it!

And suddenly, it all intersects with the metal prices. These same Chinese manufacturers are buying all our scrap to turn into items to sell back to us. Since they have more money than we do, they can pay more without issue. And we cannot make more from raw materials not because we don't have enough, or they are scarce, but because the energy costs of making virgin metal is far higher (for most metals) than recycling. And, as we all know, the energy costs have gone right up, so we know that the advantage to profits from recycling are far greater now.

So, blame capitalism. And Communism, and the effects of having 3 billion Chinese people suddenly getting rich.
Because capitalism in the West has taught all these Chinese people that they should be consumers too. And we can't all be rich.

But, that would mean Henry George was wrong!! "For that man cannot exhaust or lessen the powers of nature follows from the indestructibility of matter and the persistence of force. Production and consumption are only relative terms. Speaking absolutely, man neither produces nor consumes. The whole human race, were they to labor to infinity, could not make this rolling sphere one atom heavier or one atom lighter, could not add to or diminish by one iota the sum of the forces whose everlasting circling produces all motion and sustains all life. As the water that we take from the ocean must again return to the ocean, so the food we take from the reservoirs of nature is, from the moment we take it, on its way back to those reservoirs. What we draw from a limited extent of land may temporarily reduce the productiveness of that land, because the return may be to other land, or may be divided between that land and other land, or, perhaps, all land; but this possibility lessens with increasing area, and ceases when the whole globe is considered. That the earth could maintain a thousand billions of people as easily as a thousand millions is a necessary deduction from the manifest truths that, at least so far as our agency is concerned, matter is eternal and force must forever continue to act. Life does not use up the forces that maintain life. We come into the material universe bringing nothing; we take nothing away when we depart. The human being, physically considered, is but a transient form of matter, a changing mode of motion. The matter remains and the force persists. Nothing is lessened, nothing is weakened. And from this it follows that the limit to the population of the globe can be only the limit of space." Yeah, he was wrong. Epic Fail there, Henry.

Who is this Henry and why hasn't he heard about Newton or Einstein?

Well, he tried and he couldn't have known about Einstein, though I see he's having a go at Newton. Unfortunatly for Henry Victor Lebow came along in 55 and screwed everything up:
Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate.

'Tis the era to go dumpster diving!