Book review--Scarcity: Humanity's Final Chapter? By Chris O. Clugston
Part 1: How did we get this far?
Without any consideration for future generations, we Americans accelerate our water, metal, mineral, resource, and energy usage at ever-increasing rates of speed. While we cram our cities with endless people, few Americans understand that fresh water must come from somewhere to provide drinking, washing, and sewage disposal. Few give it a second thought as to where gasoline, natural gas, and electricity originate. Finally, very few Americans give non-renewable resources that power this civilization--a moment's notice.
We imitate an airplane filled to capacity with people starting out on a long journey from New York City to London, England, which takes about eight hours, but the ground crew mistakenly filled the tanks with enough fuel to fly for four hours or half the trip. Everything feels fine for the passengers and captain until 4:01 into the flight. At that point, "Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats; grab your flotation gear and start praying, because we just ran out of fuel; we are headed for a crash landing in the Atlantic Ocean".
Right now, around the world, many civilizations with over 2.1 billion people suffer lack of drinkable water and enough food and energy to support their citizens. How did they get there? Why didn't they do something to change course? What made them victims? Can they save themselves once they pass 4:01 hours on their flight across the fail-safe point of a civilization's existence?
The answers to those questions arrive in a new book--Scarcity: Humanity's Final Chapter? by Christopher O. Clugston. With brilliant clarity, he discusses how America and all of Western civilizations run on non-renewable resources that cannot be duplicated, replaced, or created. Once those resources run out, all of us face the same fate as the people in the airplane over the Atlantic Ocean that runs out of fuel.
Clugston uses incisive facts, figures, and analysis of oil reserves, minerals, and metals that allow America to function. Without them, our civilization cannot operate.
"Our modern industrial existence is enabled by enormous and continuously increasing quantities of non-renewable resources--fossil fuels, metals, and nonmetallic minerals. NNRs serve as the raw-material inputs to our industrialized economies, as the building blocks that comprise our industrial infrastructure and support systems, and as the primary energy sources that power our industrialized societies," said Clugston. "Ironically, since the inception of our industrial revolution over 200 years ago, we have been eliminating--persistently and increasingly--the finite and non-replenishing NNRs upon which our industrialized way of life and our very existence depend."
To place our predicament in perspective, we humans add one billion of ourselves every 12 years on our way from 7.1 billion in 2013 to 10.1 billion by 2050--a scant 37 years. America, the world's third fastest-growing country behind India and China, expects to add 100 million within 25 years and 138 million to reach 438 million by 2050. At current growth rates, America will double in the lifetime of a child born in 2013, to over 625 million as a low projection and to a high of 669 million by 2095. (Source: US Population Projections by Fogel/Martin)
To gallop toward such a catastrophic population explosion in light of current environmental, water, and energy depletions can only be seen as what Erik Davis referred to as, "Consensus trance." With such definite realities facing us and very close at hand, how could an educated and free people with limitless news media and academic institutions choose to ignore our harsh realities?
James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, said, "Mostly it is a matter of cultural inertia, aggravated by collective delusion, and nursed in the growth medium of comfort and complacency."
In other words, we think everything we enjoy today, much like the assumption of the passengers on that doomed "half-full fuel tanks" airplane--will continue. After reading Clugston's book, he proves that those resources will NOT be there for future generations.
"As a result, most of the Earth's NNRs have become permanently scarce--there are not enough globally available, economically viable NNR supplies to completely address humanity's global NNR requirements for going forward," said Clugston. "Because the natural-resource utilization behavior that enables our current 'success'--i.e. our industrialized way of life--and that is essential to perpetuating our success, is simultaneously undermining our very existence. Neither our natural-resource utilization behavior nor our industrial paradigm is sustainable. This is our predicament."
This book rivets you to your seat. This book sobers you to the fate of your children. This book cannot be ignored. It cannot be disproven in light of the facts and sources provided. If Clugston piloted the plane about to fly over the Atlantic, he checked all the tanks to ensure "filled-up!" But since others like our president and Congress maintain full control of the United States of America--we won't make it to our destination. Unless.
Our president, U.S. Congress, governors, and all national leaders need to read this book for the survival of our civilization. If not, we all face the same fate as the passengers in the plane flying over the Atlantic. We're probably over three hours into our fateful flight in 2013.
Part: 2 NNR scarcity is the most daunting challenge every to confront humanity. If we Homo sapiens are truly an exceptional species, now is the time to prove it.
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