Destruction of Civilization by 2100
- Jason Brent
- On June 7, 2015
JASON G. BRENT
P.O. Box 370970
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89137-0970, USA
The earth and the resources it can provide humanity are finite; compound growth is the most powerful force in the universe; population and economic growth will cease for all of humanity before the year 2100, the only question is how.
The Nobel Laureate Dr. Henry W. Kendall said, ” If we don’t halt population growth, with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity—-and will leave a ravaged world.”
This paper is not written by an academic to be read by other academics and then stored in a file cabinet at some university. This paper is written to cause action and not a debate about the most important problem presently facing humanity and the most important problem humanity has ever faced since our species has evolved from the ape. If our leaders do not take the necessary action to modify every aspect of civilization in the immediate future, billions will die, the social order will collapse and civilization will be destroyed never to rise again above the early Stone Age. And the necessary action must be taken today– it cannot wait until tomorrow.
The earth is finite and the resources that the earth can provide humanity are finite. While recycling, substitution of one resources for another resource, and other actions taken by humanity can reduce the need to extract new resources from the earth, those actions cannot and will not turn finite resources into infinite resources. The earth provides humanity with only two types of resources—a) Non-renewable natural resources, and b) Theoretically renewable natural resources. Examples of non-renewable natural resources are oil, coal, iron ore, copper ore , and all mineral ores. Examples of theoretically renewable resources are soils used to grow food, water to drink and to grow food, fish in the oceans to eat, forests to grow lumber, and air to breathe.
In the previous paragraph, I use the word “theoretically” to describe renewable natural resources and I did that purposely as almost every renewable resource has a limitation that causes the resource to become finite and non-renewable. For example, if too many fish of a certain species are taken and used for food, the species will not survive into the future to provide food for humanity. Probably, the most important theoretically renewable natural resource which humanity is overusing in a manner which is making the resource finite and non-renewable is underground aquifers in many food growing areas around the world. The aquifer under Saudi Arabia has gone dry and the aquifers under the North China Plane, and the food growing areas of the Central and Western United States are going rapidly down .
Desalinization is not the solution to the water/food problem for two reasons—a) Massive amounts of energy are needed to desalinate water, and b) Massive amounts of energy would be needed to pump the water from the oceans to the land areas where the food is grown. When, not if, the aquifers under the North China Plain, and the food growing areas of the Central and Western United States go dry there will be massive worldwide starvation.
Many resources that the earth provides humanity today are becoming more expensive, both in terms of money and in terms of the expenditure of resources to obtain them, due to the fact that they are harder to find, are found in more difficult places to develop and transport to the place of usage, and are found in poorer quality ores. The best example of that is oil, which is now being obtained in the ocean depths and from what is known as “tight” oil.
There is something known as the rule of 70 or 72. To determine how long it takes a quantity to double, divide the growth rate into 70 or 72. For example, if something were to grow at an annual rate of 2% , it would double about every 35 years. Another example, if something were to grow at the annual rate of 4% , it would double about every 18 years. Therefore, if anything were to grow at the annual rate of 2% , in just 350 years there would be 10 doublings and in just 350 years it would be 1,024 times as large as it was when the growth started—2,4,8,16,32,62,128,256,512,1024. If the annual growth rate of 2% were to continue for just 700 years, at the end of that period it would be over 1,048,000 times as large as when it started.
If the economy of the planet were to grow at the annual rate of 2% starting today, in the year 2085 (70 years from now), the economy of the planet would be four times as large as the current economy. If that growth rate were to continue to 2100, the economy would be about five times as large as the current economy. There is a relationship between economic growth and the usage of resources the earth provides to humanity. While I have never read any scientific study about that relationship, for the purposes of this paper I will use a very conservative relationship. I will use a 50% relationship– if the economy were to be five times as large as the current economy, then using the 50% relationship the earth would have to provide 2.5 times as many resources per year as the earth currently provides. I challenge anyone reading this paper to present a scientifically supported position that the earth can provide to humanity 2.5 times the resources it currently provides our species on an annual basis. In my personal opinion, the 50% relationship I’ve used in this paragraph is extremely low. I believe, though I cannot prove, that the relationship should be 150%– if the economy were five times as large as the present economy, the earth would have to provide 7.5 times the resources it provides humanity on an annual basis. Why do I believe 150% is the more accurate relationship? The answer to that question is set forth above—-every year it takes more resources to find, extract, transport, and otherwise deal with the resources the planet provides to humanity.
Most nations strive for a growth rate greater than 2% per year. If the economy of the planet would grow at the annual rate of 4%, it would double about every 18 years. Therefore, in approximately 180 years, the economy of the planet would be about 1,024 times as large as the current economy. If the economy of the planet were to grow at the annual rate of 4%, by the year 2087 (72 years from now) it would be 16 times as large as a current economy–2,4,8,16. That cannot and will not occur. Any attempt to maintain continuous economic growth is doomed to failure as no action by humanity can change the rules of mathematics and change the fact that the earth and the resources that it can provide humanity are finite.
Many authors and people who claim to be experts in the field have written papers that attempt to separate sustainable growth from sustainable development. However, none of the papers I have read have been able to show there is a difference between sustainable growth and sustainable development and that sustainable development does not use the resources the earth provides to humanity. If sustainable development uses resources, it is not sustainable as resources are finite. There isn’t such thing as sustainable development–it does not exist. Anyone who writes that sustainable development is the solution to finite resources does not know what he is talking about and is trying to deceive the reader.
“The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct. To say, as many do, that the difficulties of nations are not due to people. but to poor ideology and land-use management is sophistic” World famous Harvard Scholar/Professor and Biologist E. O. Wilson
Everyone on the planet, without a single exception, desires medical science to extend the life span of humanity in good health. However, even a cursory examination of that desire will show that any extension of the life span of humanity will lead to the destruction of the human species. Assume that the average current lifespan for all of humanity is 75 years and assume further that medical science could wave a magic wand and double that lifespan to 150 years. Then unless there was a radical reduction in the fertility rate the population would quickly double from the current 7.2 billion to 14.4 billion. The earth probably cannot support the current 7.2 billion at the current per capita usage of resources. It is almost certain that the earth will be unable to support 14.4 billion at the current per capita usage of resources. If the increase in population is combined with an increase in per capita usage of resources, there will be the “perfect storm” which will lead to the short-term destruction of humanity. You immediately think the author of this paper is trying to trick me. He has doubled the life expectancy of 75 years to 150 years. The point is very simple, any increase in life span must be paid for by a decrease in population. It doesn’t matter that the increase is from 75 years to 150 years or from 75 years to 85 years, the principle is the same.
At this point it is appropriate to discuss the claim of people who have no knowledge of physics and astronomy that humanity will be able to import resources from planets circling other stars. The nearest star to the earth is approximately 4.3 light years away. Light in a vacuum travels at approximately 186,000 miles per second (300,000 km per second). At present our spaceships travel at approximately 18,600 miles per hour. To attain a speed of only 10% of the speed of light (18,600 miles per second) the speed of our spaceships would have to increase by a factor of 3,600 and that will not occur in the near future and probably will never occur. Even if that were to occur, it would take approximately 43 years to travel to the nearest star and 43 years for the return trip. Importing resources from planets circling other stars is not a solution to the problems facing humanity today.
Since the earth and the resources it can provide humanity are finite, both economic growth and population growth must reach a peak and that peak will occur prior to 2100 due to the power of compound growth. Upon reaching a peak only two things can occur—a) Economic activity and the number of human beings on the planet can forever (the important word is “forever) remain at the peak, or b) Either or both will decline some time after reaching the peak. Neither can increase— each is at its peak, and by definition cannot increase. In reality, neither economic activity nor the number of human beings on the planet will forever remain at its peak. Both must decline after reaching its peak due to the fact that humanity will be using non-renewable natural resources and at some point of time after the peak is reached, one or more of those non-renewable resources (including substitutes) which are essential for civilization to function will no longer be available to humanity. In addition, in all probability, humanity today is using one or more theoretically renewable natural resources at a rate that cannot be sustained and will sometime in the future cause a decline in both economic activity and population. The only questions are—a) When will each reach its peak?, b) How long each will remain at its peak?, c) What will be the rate of decline of each?, d) How long will the decline last? and e) When, if ever, will the decline cease?
Let us do a little example together. Assume that a renewable resource (resource X) can provide to humanity 100 units on an annual basis without exceeding the ability of the earth to replenish that resource on an annual basis. First, we must understand that while humanity may be able to increase the amount that can be provided annually to a number greater than 100, say 300 units, that amount cannot be infinitely increased. In simple terms, no matter what humanity can do at some point in time the amount of resource X that the planet can provide humanity on an annual basis must reach a limit— it cannot be infinitely large. Therefore, for the purposes of this example, we will assume that the absolute limit the earth can provide is 300 annual units of resource X.. That maximum is based upon two numbers–a) The number of people using that resource, and b) The per capita usage of that resource— example, 100 people using the resource and on average, each person uses three units, total units used 300. If the per capita usage increases from three units per person to four units per person, then the number of people that can use resource X must be reduced to 75. The point of this paragraph is to show that in many cases any increase in standard of living (increase in per capita usage) must be paid for by a decrease in population.
There are two, and only two, ways that population growth can be reduced to zero. More importantly, there are two, and only two ways, that the human population existing on the planet can be reduced. Since at some point in time, as described above, the human population will decline, we must examine the two ways by which the number of people living on the planet can be reduced. The first way, which no one desires, is by war, with or without weapons of mass destruction, disease, starvation and other horrors. Let there be no doubt, if humanity does not take the appropriate steps to reduce population intelligently, there will be war to obtain the resources necessary for survival. Almost every war, since humanity evolved from the ape, was in some manner related to the need for resources. Almost every religious war had within it a resource component. In the event that there is not enough food produced for all of humanity, or in the event that there is not enough of resource X for all of humanity, nation A or group A or religion A is not going to take the position that it will go out of existence by starvation or disease, so that nation B or group B or religion B can survive and prosper. There will be war over food or resource X and almost certainly that war will involve weapons of mass destruction. The second way that human population can be reduced is by the intelligence of humanity. Please refer to the quote from the Nobel Laureate set forth at the beginning of this paper.
Humanity must understand not only will there be resource wars across the planet, but resource wars most likely will occur when two groups or religions live in close proximity to each other and compete for the same limited resources. The best example this is the competition between the Arabs and the Israelis in the Middle East. Arab women in Gaza and the West Bank average substantially more than two children and the Orthodox Jews in Israel, have children beyond number. They live in close proximity to each other and are competing for the same resources. It is highly likely, if not inevitable, that war in the very near future will break out between them and weapons of mass destruction will be used
The second means by which the human population can be reduced, the intelligence of humanity, can be subdivided into two methods—a) Voluntary action/family planning, and b) Coercive population control in a manner similar to the actions taken by China. Before any analysis of these two methods can begin, we must consider the time frame involved. We must consider the fact that any action must immediately commence, due to the fact of the average life span. Any reduction in births will not be immediately felt on a worldwide basis due to the average life span of humanity. If humanity on a worldwide basis aims for continued economic growth at an annual rate of 2% or greater, the human population must be substantially reduced before the year 2100 as the earth cannot support an economy about five times as large as the current economy at the current population, let alone at an increased population.
In this section of this paper any statement I make does not have to be absolutely correct. Rather, an analysis of the probabilities of it being correct is all that is needed. The last sentence of the last paragraph made an absolute statement. Assume that the statement made had a 50% chance of being correct, and a 50% chance of being incorrect. Since if the wrong choice is made, billions will die, the social order will collapse and civilization will be destroyed.. Humanity cannot afford that gamble and must take the most conservative position as how to attack the problems of finite earth and compound growth.
Before discussing the merits/problems of both voluntary action/family planning and coercion, we must understand that every aspect of our civilization today is based upon the concepts of “more” and “growth”. Growth of every type has been the important/essential aspect of humanity since humanity evolved from the ape and since humanity discovered agriculture. Since in the future there cannot be “more” and ‘growth”, but only “less” and ‘decline”, every aspect of society must be evaluated and examined and almost certainly completely revised. This includes morality, justice, charity, government, and man’s relationship to man.
At the outset I want to make it absolutely clear that I understand the vast number of very complex problems caused by any attempt to impose coercive population control on a group, religion, nation or on a worldwide basis. However, at this point in this essay I just want to discuss probabilities. No one can state with absolute certainty that family planning/voluntary population control will, with a hundred percent certainty, reduce population to the level necessary and within the time necessary to prevent the deaths of billions. Our leaders, those attending this conference, must evaluate every aspect of family planning/voluntary population control and determine, as best as it can be determined, the chance that family planning/voluntary population control will reduce the population to the level necessary and within the time necessary to prevent a massive die off and the destruction of civilization. In my opinion, if the chance of failure is 10% or greater, then our leaders must consider coercive population control. You may disagree with my choice of 10%, as the chance of failure which requires a discussion of coercive population control. However, logically, you must admit that the probability of failure at some level requires a discussion of coercive population control. Such a discussion must consider all of the benefits and problems of both family planning/voluntary population control and coercive population control. The overriding consideration of any discussion or evaluation must be that if humanity makes the wrong choice billions will die and civilization will collapse.
This problem is similar to the famous lifeboat problem. A ship sinks and 50 people are in a lifeboat with 10 people swimming in the water around the lifeboat attempting to get into the lifeboat. The captain knows that if one more person gets in the lifeboat it will be overloaded and sink causing the deaths of all 60 people-50 in the lifeboat and 10 in the water. Therefore, when any person attempts to get into the lifeboat he takes a hatchet and chops off their hands. Is the captain the hero or a murderer? Now let us consider this problem in relationship to all of humanity. By a democratic vote or by imposition by the leaders of humanity, each couple is limited to one child and one billion people refuse to limit themselves to one child, but willfully have two or more children. Will the leaders of humanity be considered heroes or murderers if they execute those billion people for crimes against humanity?. I will not attempt to answer that question. However, humanity probably will be required to answer that question or a similar question in the very near future. Three additional questions– a) Would the army obey and kill the billion?, b) Would those killed be considered martyrs or arrogant fools and mass murderers who gave no thought to the rest of humanity?, and c) What action should/would the leaders of humanity take if one or more religious leaders advise their followers not to obey the one child per couple rule and to continue to have two or more children?
Now I’m going to set forth some facts that, in my opinion, show that family planning/voluntary population control will not succeed in reducing population growth to zero or in reducing the absolute number of human beings on the planet prior to 2100, or at any time the future. In order to prevent population growth or reduce the number of human beings on the planet family planning/voluntary population control requires that every individual, family, group, religion and nation forever into the future have no more than two children per couple to maintain zero population growth and have on the average less than two children per couple to reduce population. If group Y wanted to seize power by having more than one or two children, (having a large number of followers in a group almost always gives power to that group as opposed to a group which has a small number of followers) that would cause groups A,B, and C to get into a breeding race with a group Y in order to prevent that group seizing power. It can be stated with absolute certainty, not 99.9% certainty, that at some time in the future one group or family or nation or religion will realize that if it cheated on family planning/voluntary population control it could exercise power over other groups, families, nations and religions. Justice Scalia of the United States Supreme Court had nine children. If each of those children had nine children and if this birth rate continued for just 11 generations, (at 35 years per generation, under 400 years) there would be over 31 billion Scalias running around. Thirty-one billion is more than four times the current population of the entire planet. This simple calculation shows the power of compound growth and shows why over the long term family planning/voluntary population control cannot prevent the destruction of civilization.
Family planning/voluntary population control will not control population in time to prevent disaster before the year 2100 due to the following facts– the Catholic Church opposes my means of birth control and abortion, Orthodox Jews have children beyond number, Mormons have children beyond number, many Protestant churches oppose abortion, religious fanatics believe that God will provide the necessary food and other resources for how many children they produce, the culture of Islam demands children— just look at how many wives and children the king and princes of Saudi Arabia have produced, male ego demands children, and a large number of women are subjugated to male control and are used for breeding machines. You are urged to examine the age distribution of most Third World countries and you will find that a very large proportion of the populations have not reached the age of reproduction or just reached the age of reproduction and that the future predicts large increases in population.
Mr. Justice Scalia, and those that think like him—the Pope, Orthodox Jews, Mormons, religious fanatics who think God will provide, men who believe that their manhood is determined by the number of children they produce–will not suddenly tell their children that they were wrong when they had a large number of children and that their children and all future generations should limit the number of children they will produce. Rather they will advise their children to do as they did and have a very large number of children. That fact alone makes it absolutely clear that voluntary population control/family planning will fail in controlling the human population.
As set forth above, the statements I have made the previous two paragraphs do not have to be absolutely correct. Rather, if there is a 20, 30 or more percent chance that the statements I made are correct, that fact would require a complete discussion of the advantages and disadvantages, problems and benefits of coercive population control in relation to family planning/voluntary population control.
There are only three factors which will determine if the human species survives—a) The number of people inhabiting the planet; b) The per capita usage of the resources which are needed for civilization to exist; and c) The survival time. For the purposes of this paper I will use a survival time of 85 years. Eighty-five years is an exceedingly short period of time when compared with the dinosaurs, which ruled the planet for about 65 million years and is an infinitely short period of time when compared to the about 3.6 billion years life existed on the planet.
We must understand that the planet must supply ALL of the necessary resources which permit our civilization to function and to support the current population level of 7.2 billion, soon to be 10.9 billion. If one critical resource is no longer available, billions will die and civilization will be destroyed. No one on the planet can present a logical and factual case with at least 95% certainty that the planet will supply each and every resource humanity needs to survive for 85 years.
If humanity desires to survive for at least 85 years, humanity must reduce the usage of every resource necessary for human survival such that the planet can continue to provide all the necessary resources for humanity’s survival. This can be done in only one of three ways–a) Reduce the number of people on the planet; b) Reduce the per capita usage of resources; and c) Reduce a combination of people and per capita resource usage. As written above there are only three ways that the human population can be reduced–a) Wars, with or without weapons of mass destruction, disease, starvation and other horrors; b) Voluntary population control/family planning; and c) Coercive population control.
Since no one desires war, and since no one can produce a logically and factually supported case that voluntary population control/family planning will succeed in controlling population in time to prevent the destruction of world-wide civilization with at least 95% certainty, humanity must consider, evaluate, discuss and debate coercive population control. Anyone who opposes an evaluation, discussion, consideration or debate about the risks, benefits and problems of both coercive population control and family planning/voluntary population control has the obligation to all of humankind to show why refusing to discuss. evaluate, consider or debate is more beneficial to humankind than a rational discussion of both methods of population control. They also have the moral obligation to all of humanity to show that such a discussion would be harmful to humanity in both the short and long terms. Discussion means words and not weapons. I cannot think of a single reason why failing to discuss the problems would be beneficial. I cannot think of a single reason why discussion would be harmful and I can think of many reasons why failing to have an appropriate discussion would not only be harmful, but lead to the elimination of the human species. I challenge anyone in the audience or who reads this paper to set forth logical reasons why failing to discuss the problems and benefits of both methods of population control would be beneficial to humanity.
What do I want from you? First and foremost I want you to dissect what I have written in this essay in an attempt to show what I have written is not based upon facts, math and logic. I want you to show that what I have written is wrong and that billions will not die before the year 2100. If you cannot show what I have written is incorrect, then I want you to go home to whatever country you have come from and attempt to convince the leadership of that country that every aspect of civilization, and society must be modified and changed such that humanity survives and prospers.
As I indicated at the beginning of this paper, this paper is not written by an academic to be read by academics and then ignored. While I am not an academic, I have as many degrees from highly regarded universities as most academics–Engineering, Business-Accounting and Law. Footnotes and other citations are not included as they are not needed. This paper is based upon four specific facts that cannot be disputed–1) The earth and the resources it can provide humanity are limited and finite, 2) Compound growth is the most powerful force in the universe, 3) The best estimate of the population in 2100 is about 10.9 billion, an increase of about 3.7 billion–more people that were on the planet in 1950 and over a 50% increase (10.9 divided by 7.2= 1.51), and 4) Per capita usage of all or almost all resources, both non-renewable and renewable, are increasing. This essay is written as a call to action to save humanity.
I can be reached at email@example.com. My phone number in the USA is 702–838-6228 and my mail address is P.O. Box 370970, Las Vegas, NV 89137-0970 USA
Please go to my web site www.jgbrent.com for more essays which expand upon what is written here and which provides numerous article setting forth facts that support my position that humanity’s destruction will occur before the year 2100 and that the humanity must discuss and evaluate coercive population control.
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