Resource Depletion and the Climate Crisis

Resource depletion?  Who talks about it?  No one . . . if you ask me.  It is like a double-edged sword.  Resources and CO2 into the atmosphere, you can’t have one without the other.  Well, you can if you leave the resources in the ground, water, or wherever they are.  Our consumer economy . . . our Western lifestyle of . . . stuff . . . and, convenient energy . . . demands that we take everything we can out of the ground and wherever it comes from.  Extreme extraction is the term out there now, and it is . . . extreme.  But, we want to do something about the climate crisis, too.  Right?

A friend sent out an article by Jason Hickel in Foreign Policy called, “The Limits of Clean Energy,” September 6, 2019.  Can’t say I haven’t thought about some of the facts in the article before.  It is a lesson in Carrying Capacity 101.  He goes through many of the metals, etc. that we will need to replace our fossil fuel laden energy . . . not to mention the energy needed to produce it all.  We are in such a bad place.  How did we get here anyway?

Here is a little example of where we need to go.  Take Jared Diamond’s book, “Collapse.”  The book details the societies that collapsed and the ones that made it, and the reasons for both.  Tipokia is one of the successful societies that made it, after listing many that didn’t like Easter Island, Chaco Canyon, the Anasazi, the Mayans, etc.

Tikopia is a prime example of how you adhere to the carrying capacity of your island or land area.  The island is in the Southwest Pacific Ocean and is roughly 1.8 square miles with about 1,200 people.  It has been that way for some 3,000 years.  And, it is remote so imports aren’t something they can rely on.  They have to be sustainable to survive.

First, population control is extremely enforced.  There is only so much room.  Next, pigs ate too much so they decided they had to go.  If they get any animal protein, it is mainly from fish, and even that has to be monitored.  Their food comes from fruits, nuts, and vegetables.  I don’t remember any discussion of wood for heat so securing lumber wasn’t a top priority, although there are trees there.  Pretty simple life.

And, that is the direction we need to go.  It is a long way to go from where we are.  Just mention population control or going without beef and dairy and people feel entitled to those things.  They don’t get that we are talking about our survival.

I highly recommend reading “Collapse.”  I haven’t finished the section on China . . . and I knew that it was polluted beyond anyone’s imagination . . . but it gets worse.  Anything depleted and polluted is that and more.  And, if it is important to be sustainable and provide your people with the necessary food, water, heat if necessary, etc., and you are importing wood for your timber needs, you aren’t sustainable.  That only depletes another country’s timber or the world’s timber, as in the wood from the Amazon Rainforest.  Importing puts a country or area in a vulnerable position if they can’t provide that resource.

What country is totally sustainable these days?  It is a global economy . . . who cares . . . get that resource from somewhere else.  I don’t have the data on how many areas or countries are sustainable, but my guess is it is very few.  And, they don’t live the lifestyle of a person in Tikopia.

So back to the resources needed to make this transition to clean energy.  Everything in the article is critical to know.  One item stood out for some reason . . . a silver mine in Mexico.  I mean . . . who knew?  All of the stuff we don’t know about . . . unreal.  Anyway, Hickel states that this silver mine is some 40 square miles.  That alone is mind boggling.  The “tailings dam full of toxic sludge held back by a wall that’s 7 miles around and as high as a 50-story skyscraper.”  The silver will be gone in 10 years, and this is the world’s biggest mine.

Yes, we think we can just go to the store and buy whatever we want.  And, create this clean energy and life goes on.

We need to get the facts . . . and now.


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