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It's the Growth for Gosh Sakes!

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Good Morning Middle America, your King of Simple News is on the air…again.

Every so often I feel compelled to go back to the roots of “The Biggest Lie Ever Believed.” Our economy is based on impossible math which suggests that exponential growth is possible in a finite world. It isn’t.

But those who continually promise to defeat the “exact science” continue to win over the truth tellers. And that is because we want to believe there is an easy path to prosperity. There is a path alright, but it leads to a little wooden house out back, the more glorified of which are called “two holers.”

I just read an Energy Department report predicting that our fossil fuels consumption will grow by more than 50% over the next 20 years. The report suggested that China would have something to do with that increase as they are expected to experience continual economic growth.

When I see the words “economic growth” and “continual” in the same sentence, I go into what can be best described as a “wall-eyed fit.” After I recover from my fit, I start writing bad things about our leaders and government agencies.

The Energy Department is one of the agencies that I write bad things about. Under the steady hand of the Energy Department, which was created to help the U.S. become independent of foreign energy, the U.S. has steadily gone down the tubes in the area of foreign energy dependence. Since 1977, we have gone from being 46.5% dependent to approximately 75% dependent on kindly foreign nations that hate our guts.

Ordinary people may ask why we would become so dependent on others. But not the King of Simple News reading people; we know why. We know that the U.S. doesn’t have enough oil to run this outfit and if we really want to drive to work today, we’ll have to do it with someone else’s oil or get a bike.

The report went on to predict that the world’s demand for liquid fuels — mostly oil — will continue to grow to 113 million barrels a day by 2030, nearly a third more than is consumed today.

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That should be quite a trick, since most sane geophysicists believe that maximum global production is in the range of 78,000,000 barrels per day. That leaves 35,000,000 barrels per day being produced under item 3 of plan “B” which reads, “and then there will be a miracle.”

Let’s look a little closer to home regarding the predictions of this report. The growth in fossil fuel consumption is expected to occur primarily in other areas of the world. That means that a large portion of the 75% of the energy that the U.S. currently purchases from the aforementioned kindly foreign nations could well be needed by someone else. This brings us back to item 3 of plan “B.”

Can the U.S. become energy independent? Of course we can. All we have to do is stop driving, stop paving, stop making plastic, stop flying, stop trains and trucking, and live in mud huts.

We could also start drilling every National Park in the U.S. We could also drill in the Artic National Wildlife Reserve and in every ocean surrounding this country. And in the end, we would still have the same problem; exponential growth is impossible.

Of course, doing all of the above will make very little difference except to put off the inevitable for four more years while the politicians make up new campaign promises. But, in keeping with tradition, putting off reality is in fact what we have been doing since the design for our economy began. Like those little wind up toys that take off across the room, run into the wall, beat their head on the wall for a little while and then turn around and head full steam for another wall.

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It’s not a question of whether we will run out of resources, and especially oil. It’s a matter of when we run short and how bad it will be. My belief is that it will be soon and extremely bad.


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Mike Folkerth is the author of "The Biggest Lie Ever Believed" and is not your run-of-the-mill author of finance and economics. The former real estate broker, developer, private real estate fund manager, auctioneer, Alaskan bush pilot, (more...)

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