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article imageOp-Ed: World resources running out, says UN report

By Paul Wallis     Jan 30, 2012 in Environment
Sydney - A UN panel has warned that the world’s resources of food, water and fuel are running out. The panel wants an “evergreen revolution” for sustainable development and management of resources. So after 50 years of warnings, someone’s noticed.
ABC Australia quotes:
"The current global development model is unsustainable. To achieve sustainability, a transformation of the global economy is required," the report said.
"Tinkering on the margins will not do the job. The current global economic crisis ... offers an opportunity for significant reforms."
The machinery of global management is explained in those four sentences. The world has a problem, and can’t solve it simply because of the nature of its economics. For a century, “progress” has been defined by buildings, industry and consumer demand for luxury goods. Just about everything else has gone begging.
The current world economy is geared to a world that no longer exists. It was a world of about 4 billion people, with much less material wealth and much lower demand. Whole areas of technology which are now universal didn’t even exist. In this long-gone world, oil was cheap, food was cheap and plentiful, and nobody worried about water supplies.
The world will have 9 billion people by 2040. The demand has increased while resources have effectively reduced. Everything is expensive. The “advanced” modern economies have spent the last 50 years proving they can’t manage anything well, and can, if encouraged, make things much worse. Political and corporate interests have fought continuously against sustainability in any form whatsoever.
These resources are under threat:
1. Food
2. Land
3. Water
4. Forests
5. Fisheries
6. Atmosphere chemistry
7. Fossil fuels
Or, simply, the entire basis of the Industrial Revolution. A first year economics student could tell you that resources have been primary drivers for social and economic development. Populations have grown on the basis of resource availability. So our various geniuses in government and corporate cuckoo land have busily been “helping” the world to reduce its resources. The likely result is a series of major steps backwards for societies as a combination of prices and lack of resources effectively undo the progress of the last 150 years. This process is basically sabotaging humanity on a colossal scale.
Although people inhabit every continent  the highest population densities occur in Asia. Sparsely in...
Although people inhabit every continent, the highest population densities occur in Asia. Sparsely inhabited regions occur on virtually every continent
The other side of the equation always makes me wince. The Green movement has contributed to this situation by supplying more rhetoric than ideas and a consistent failure to even acknowledge the basics of implementing sustainable industrial operations. Idealism is typically strong on verbosity but very weak on practicalities and realism. The Green version of idealism has strayed off into moralities when it should have been focusing on showing the benefits of sustainability.
On both sides, the other key factor is lack of imagination. Fisheries are a good example of this situation. Instead of creating working methods for massive restocking, the result has been aqua farming, which simply can’t produce on the scale required for global consumption. No attempt whatsoever has been made to address ocean conditions like acidification, which is turning the Mediterranean into a huge sea of jellyfish and destroying the breeding grounds of commercial stocks. Even the reporting of fish numbers has turned into a raffle.
…And the talk drones on. The same applies to farmland destruction, lack of new methods of producing foods, water supply, you name it, nothing of any long term value is being done about it.
An alien, looking at Earth, would deduce that human beings are idiots who never think more than 5 minutes ahead at most and wouldn’t know how to organize any sort of joint effort to secure future resources if they did. There’s plenty of evidence to support that view.
It’s pretty damn obvious that the last thing on anyone’s mind is proper management of resources or any other basics of survival. There aren’t even any reliable mechanisms for it. There are rationales like “jobs” for processes which will ultimately destroy jobs, as they have in fisheries, farming and forestry. There are economic reasons for destroying economies of the future for the sake of making a few bucks now. There are demands for skills which are never met on the basis of keeping education costs high, therefore depriving the future of the skills it needs.
Rationales on the rampage
The only funny side to this situation comes from rationales. Rationales have limited uses. They’re usually justifications or excuses. So “think tanks”, PR spin and other subhuman institutions have been coming up with rationales for effectively beggaring the entire human race.
You can see where this will go:
Food causes diseases and supermarkets. So don’t eat.
Drinking water puts pressure on the ancient infrastructure we couldn’t be bothered replacing. So don’t drink.
Education causes elitism. So remain ignorant, or people will think you’re a snob.
People get rich practicing medicine. So stay healthy and make them poor.
Housing causes families. So stay away from this dangerous, self-indulgent possibility.
Electricity causes insanity, immorality and information which you can’t possibly understand. So stay in the cold and dark and make grunting noises to prove you’re sane, moral and uninformed.
Intelligence causes thought. That’s what got us into this mess. Do your duty to society and vegetate while we uninvent the wheel.
Resources cause wealth, which causes greed which causes people which causes stress. Avoid these things for a better, healthier life.
Geriatrics with no ideas running corporations are saints. Build shrines to them and worship their press releases so that their blessings may be bestowed upon you, O worthy, folksy peasants.
One more thing for the Green movement and all the other “How terrible” commentators- Why are we waiting for a system which is incapable of getting anything right to solve the problems? The UN report is a coroner’s preliminary report. It will be ignored in practice. Either humanity gets off its oversized backside and starts finding answers, or 2040 is likely to be a very unpleasant place to live for the next two generations.
Note: I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the world’s supply of privileged cretins for this enchanting and entirely avoidable situation. Never in the field of human stupidity have so many done so little about so much.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about UN report 2012 resources, world population 2040, Green movement, Fisheries, Forestry