Home » Biggest Threat to Human Survival is Out-of-Control Economic Demands … Wasting Resources, Triggering Climate Disasters!
Future News Q1: Climate

Biggest Threat to Human Survival is Out-of-Control Economic Demands … Wasting Resources, Triggering Climate Disasters!

Humans Are The Planet’s #1 Climate Problem!

What’s the biggest time-bomb for America? for Washington? for Wall Street? for Planet Earth? Is it Global Warming? No. Peak Oil? Inequality? What is the absolute biggest threat to human survival? The one that’s like the trigger mechanism on a nuclear bomb? The one that’ll throw a monkey wrench into global economic growth, ending capitalism, even destroying modern civilization? Yes, that one!

The threat that, if not solved soon, renders all other efforts to solve all the other problems in the world, futile, irrelevant and virtually unsolvable?  Over-Population! And unfortunately, we’re adding couple billion more in the next few short decades! Now that’s an unsustainable killer.

News flash: Bill Gates and his “Billionaires Club” have known this killer ending all too well … yet, are still in denial today. Back in 2009 Gates called billionaire philanthropists to a super-secret meeting in Manhattan. Included: Buffett, Rockefeller, Soros, Bloomberg, Turner, Oprah and others meeting at the “home of Sir Paul Nurse, British Nobel Biochemist and President of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan,” reported John Harlow in the London Times Online. During an afternoon session each was “given 15 minutes to present their favorite cause. Over dinner they discussed how they might settle on an ‘umbrella cause’ that could harness their interests.”

So, What Is The World’s Biggest “Ticking Time-Bomb?”

Gate’s billionaires unanimously agreed: “Population!” If we don’t solve Planet-Earth’s over-population problem, nothing else matters. Since their 2009 meeting, the world has added another half billion people, steadily marching to a predictably unsustainable ten billion in 2050, yes, in one generation. “We likely need something quite dramatic, as Gates said later when he “concocted” a simple mathematical formula to describe what must be done to save the planet and our human civilization from extinction. Forbes magazine disagreed, saw the formula (“P x S x E x C = CO2,” where CO2 must be dropped to zero to succeed), as Gates justification for his earlier searching for a elusive “energy miracle.” Forbes concludes:

Math 101: the only way to get to zero carbon dioxide output is to drop one of those inputs to zero. Since eliminating any carbon byproduct of energy is preferable to a complete human die-off or a stone age suite of services, that’s the only path. Shaving at the margins simply won’t get the job done; only a moonshot solution that provides unlimited clean energy will stave off environmental (and thus, economic) catastrophe … but, “unless emissions get to zero, you’re just not going to get there,” admits Gates.

So we can deny reality, run around searching for energy miracles, solving clever math formulas, racing to Mars, praying our politicians to wake out of denial … the fact is, we’re  just not going to get to Gates’ miracle solution … ever!

Why Do Civilizations “Collapse?” Unsustainable Growth!

“One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Jared Diamond, an environmental biologist, Pulitzer prize winner and author of the classic Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Many “civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power” Easter Island, the Mayan Civilization, for example …

Diamond’s 12-part algorithm is quite simple, fits perfectly with the Pentagon’s global warfare scenario: “More people require more food, space, water, energy, and other resources … There is a long built-in momentum to human population growth called the ‘demographic bulge’ with a disproportionate number of children and young reproductive-age people.” And if the ‘bulge’ stops for any reason, game over. Economic growth ends, killing capitalism.

So look very closely: Diamond’s algorithm has 12 coded time-bombs. But note, the first two are the primary triggers. The other 10 are derivative variables that are energized by these two primary triggers:

1. Popupation Growth Rate—Accelerating

According to Times Online: A few months before the billionaires meeting Gates noted: “Official UN projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion, but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive health care, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion.”

Can it be stopped? In a recent special issue of Scientific American, population was called “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” Why? Population’s the new third-rail for politicians. So they ignore it.

Yet, if all nations consumed resources at the same rate as America, we’d need six Earths to survive. Unfortunately that scenario is unstoppable. Because by 2050, while America’s population grows from 300 million to a mere 400 million, the rest of the world will explode from 6.3 billion to 8.9 billion, with over 1.4 billion each in China and India. Today, the world population’s expected to top 10 billion by 2050.

2. Human Impact—Consumption Demands Increasing!

Diamond warns: “There are optimists who argue that the world could support double its human population.” But he adds, they “consider only the increase in human numbers and not average increase in per-capita impact. But I have not heard anyone who seriously argues that the world could support 12 times it’s current impact.” And yet, that’s exactly what happens with “all third-world inhabitants adopting first-world standards.”

“What really counts,” says Diamond, “is not the number of people alone, but their impact on the environment,” the “per-capita impact.” First-world citizens “consume 32 times more resources such as fossil fuels, and put out 32 times more waste, than do the inhabitants of the Third World.” So the race is on: “Low impact people are becoming high-impact people” aspiring “to first-world living standards.” Yes, the American dream is now the global dream.

Get it? Our capitalist economy oversold “The American Dream” while creating new global markets and customers for our exports. Now everyone’s got “The Dream!” Not just 310 million Americans, but 7.3 billion people worldwide are demanding more, more, more … the new China Dream … the India Dream … the Africa Dream … yes, “dreaming” has been America’s biggest export for decades.

Warning: This “population impact multiplier” will also energize Diamond’s global growth algorithm even with no population increases! Why? In Diamond’s Collapse, the two key variables are what are called the Over-Population Multiplier and Population Impact Multiplier. Now let’s closely examine how those two key variables impact all the other ten variables that are driving this algorithm:

3. World Food Production … vs Rising Demands

Two billion people, mostly poor, depend on fish and other wild foods for protein. They “have collapsed or are in steep decline” forcing use of more costly animal proteins. The U.N. calls the global food crisis a “silent tsunami.” Food prices rise making it worse for the 2.7 billion living below poverty levels on two dollars a day.

In “The End of Plenty,” National Geographic warns that even a new “green revolution” of “synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation, supercharged by genetically engineered seeds” may fail. Why? A joint World Bank/U.N. study “concluded that the immense production increases brought about by science and technology the past 30 years have failed to improve food access for many of the world’s poor.” And a Time cover story warns America’s “addiction to meat” has led to farming technology that’s “destructive of the soil, the environment and us.”

4. Water Resources … Increasing Scarcity

Diamond warns: “Most of the world’s fresh water in rivers and lakes is already being used for irrigation, domestic and industrial water,” transportation, fisheries and recreation. Water problems destroyed many earlier civilizations: ‘Today over a million people lack access to reliable safe drinking water.” British International Development Minister recently warned that two-thirds of the world will live in water-stressed countries by 2015.

Water will trade like oil futures as wars are fought over water and other basic essentials noted earlier in Fortune’s analysis of the Pentagon report predicting that warfare will define human life in this scenario of the near future.

5. Farmlands … Eroding Faster

Crop soils are “being carried away by water and wind erosion at rates between 10 to 40 times the rates of soil formation,” much higher in forests where the soil-erosion rate is “between 500 and 10,000 times” replacement rate. This is increasing in today’s new age of the 100,000-acre mega-fires and once-in-1,000-year disasters, dustbowls and droughts occurring every 100 days.

6. Forests … Rapidly Disappearing

We are destroying natural habitats and rain forests at an accelerating rate. Half the world’s original forests have been converted to urban developments. A quarter of what remains will be converted in the next 50 years. Remember Easter Island.

Islanders Cut Down All Their Trees

7. Toxic Chemicals … Increasing Danger

All too often our solutions create more problems than they solve. For example, industries “manufacture or release into the air, soil, oceans, lakes, and rivers any toxic chemicals” that break down slowly or not at all. Consider the deadly impact of insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, detergents, plastics … the list is endless.

8. Energy … Forget Fossil Fuels! … Renewables!

Pimco manages $747 billion for investors: equity, bonds and commodity funds. Manager Bill Gross once described a “significant break” in the world’s “growth pattern.” He’s already betting we’re past the “peak oil” tipping point. Consumer shopping will continue declining as economies grow very slowly in the future and “corporate profits will be static.” Yet, Foreign Policy magazine warns of the “7 Myths About Alternative Energy.” Are biofuels, solar and nuclear the “major ticket?” Unfortunately, never greater that twenty percent say experts like David Yergin, a leading international energy consultant.

9. Solar Power … Maxing  Out

Sunlight is not unlimited. Diamond: We’re already using “half of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity” and we will reach the max by mid-century. In “Plundering the Amazon,” Bloomberg Markets magazine warned that Alcoa, Cargill and other companies “have bypassed laws designed to prevent destruction of the world’s largest rain forest … robbing the earth of its best shield against global warming.” Yes, free market capitalism may ultimately be the enemy of our survival.

10. Ozone Layer … Holes in Earth’s Atmosphere

“Human activities produce gases that escape into the atmosphere” where they can destroy the protective ozone or absorb and reduce solar energy.

11. Species Diversity … Fast Disappearing

“A significant fraction of wild species, populations and genetic diversity has been lost, and at present rates, a large percent of the rest will disappear in half century.”

12. Alien Species … Unintended Conscquences

Transferring species to lands where they’re not native can have unintended and catastrophic effects, “preying on, parasitizing, infecting or outcompeting” native animals and plants that lack evolutionary resistance.

In spite of the clear message in Diamond’s 12 time-bombs, he remains a “cautious optimist.” What fuels his hope? Our leaders need “the courage to practice long-term thinking, and to make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems have become perceptible but before they reach crisis proportions.”

Unfortunately, Diamond says, history tells us that leaders are cautious and short-sighted, driven more by self-interest and nationalism than courage and long-term thinking. As a result, they get caught off guard and their worlds collapse, fast. They only respond to crises, usually too late. That seems to be the case with America’s political leaders and billionaires who continue focusing on everything else, especially short-term profit opportunities, while ignoring the world’s over-population problems that they earlier agreed was (and still is) the world’s #1 long-term problem.

About the author

Paul B. Farrell

Dr Paul is a Behavioral Economist reporting on the science, psychology and politics of climate change and its impact on our culture, morals and vision of the future. For over seventeen years his columns were published on DowJones MarketWatch.com, which he joined as an editor when originally launched as a joint venture of CBS-News and The Financial Times. He published 1,643 columns between 1997 and 2015, and was their #1 traffic-generating columnist.

Over the years Dr Paul also published ten best-sellers, including The Millionaire Code: 16 Paths to Wealth Building ... The Winning Portfolio: Choosing Your 10 Best Mutual Funds ... Meditation Secrets of the Flawed Buddhas ... Expert Investing on The Net: Profit From the Top-25 Online Money Makers ... The Lazy Person's Guide to Investing ... Zen Millionaire: The Investor's Guide to the Other Side ... and most recently, HotEarthHell: The (New) Master Algorithm, a 2018 selection of his 33 best DowJones-MarketWatch columns on the economic impact of climate change and global warming.

Earlier he was an investment banker with Morgan Stanley ... Executive Vice President of the Financial News Network ... and Associate Editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. Back in the 1990s, he edited and published FNX: The Future News Index, an online investment newsletters for stock traders and forerunner for today's HotEarthHELLO! The Investors Climate Survival Guide.

He has the Doctorate in Psychology, Juris Doctor, Masters in Regional Planning and Bachelor of Architecture. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Staff Sergeant in aviation radar-computer technology.