I’ve dropped in presentations like this one copied below a number of times at Off-G. Judging by the upvotes, my slant resonates with quite a few of the readers there. My latest plea for this viewpoint seems on reflection, to state our underlying real upcoming problems concisely; hence my copying it here:
Moneyc, the realworld grammar goes like this:
Around CE 1800 humankind really got going on the fossil-hydrocarbon energy source that they’d starting scratching at a few centuries earlier.
This provided very suddenly, to those who had access to coal, and later to oil and natural gas, the ‘two hundred energy-slaves’ per person whom all we of the world’s Pampered Twenty Percent have come to regard as our imperative natural birthright (hah!), without which, tolerable life - that’s to say, our over-easy, tranquil, utterly pampered lives - are impossible.
This broaching of the crustal fossil hydrocarbon sequestrations.made possible a whole lot of things; two examples being industrial agriculture, and industry-enabled colonialism: the hitech ability to commit successful armed robbery and imperial-rule takeovers on many unlucky peoples and parts of the world.
And in turn, this massive - but inherently unsustainable - energy-flood made possible a classic population-overshoot episode amongst hom sap; upon which we set out promptly. (Amuse yourself sometime by noting how siamesetwinningly the global per-capita energy-use figure shadows population size: the more energy per-head available, the greater the number of humans getting born - or locusts, or lemmings, or Isle Royale moose, or whatever.
As our numbers burgeoned, this caused an equally unsustainable ballooning of hom-sap’s ecological footprint, so that now - for a short while - we’re tearing down the life-support system of the ecosphere at a rate which needs several fully-endowed virgin Earths to keep it going.
But - er - now, just lately, that per-capita energy availability has begun a global turn-down…
Naturally, our current situation can’t go on. We are now at that point that comes in every observed, natural population-overshoot episode, when our numbers have grown to the point where everything that supports our lives - especially the grossly over-prosperous, over-demanding lives of we PTP - is running into short supply. With the result that - inevitably, as always happens - our fertility rate, collectively across the planet is slipping, in country after country, below that all-important steady replacement rate of about 2.1 children per child-bearing woman; China, Japan and the US, and soon India, being perhaps-surprising cases in this reversal, already clear from the birth/death statistics of those states - plus an increasing number of others.
Well what a surprise! I mean who (apart from the Meadows TLTG team and one or two other awake people) would have thunk it? We might not make it much above eight billion after all; and certainly we won’t be staying up there for long now, before the second half of our overshoot episode gets going into its usual endgame pattern. Once again, the widely-derided - yet shockingly realworld accurate - graph-curves of ‘The Limits To Growth’ prove to be reliable portents to our near future…
These underlying ecological and Peak Everything realities are what are behind our new era of increasing scarcities. Sure, idiotic/selfishly-criminal human policies can make these increasing shortages worse, and doubtless will in some places. But this is a matter out of human hands, beyond our inherent ability to manage it effectually. We couldn’t manage our numbers wisely on the way up, and we won’t be able to do any better on the way down again.
Still, if you can study and meditate your way into seeing that constant re-incarnation on The Wheel of Rebirth is a highly-probable reality, at least you can comfort yourself with the thought that in a century or two, your immortal soul will be able to get reborn into a human society where our population pressure has eased, deeply and naturally, and the Earth is repairing its ecosphere again, as it does after every global disaster And meanwhile we learn to sustain perfectly worthwhile lives on the fully-sufficient resources of forest- and grassland-permaculture.
Come back beloved - and critically-essential - wildernesses, especially the forests; we reduced and chastened humankind need you, crucially, and we beg your forgiveness…