Over the next 5 years it appears that the world will reach a point in which demand for oil will surpass supply. There is oil in the ground but it’s too difficult and expensive to bring up (oil shale and sands, for example). As a result, depending on the growth rate of the global economy, there will be shortages and much higher prices, which could cause another economic slide. But this will be just the prelude to the big main event in 20 years.
This well-publicized date of reckoning, 2030, promises huge shortages in resources for America and the world, especially water, food and oil (energy). At that time the planet will be short of water by at least 30 percent and short of both oil and food by at least 50 percent. That will bring upheavals and civil disorder among nations, with failed governments, starvation globally and mass migration as the have-nots head for the closest port in this storm. America will be permanently inundated. Then it gets bad.
But now, because of “careless” accounting of oil stocks by OPEC and the International Energy Agency (IEA), a more accurate forecast was produced. As a result, our problems with oil supplies could begin by 2012.
A research report from Kuwait University in March of 2010 “forecast that world oil production would peak in 2014 around 79 mbpd (million barrels per day).” More importantly it showed “that non-OPEC production peaked in 2006 at 39.6 mbpd. It forecasts that OPEC production will peak in 2026 at 53 mbpd, up from 31 mbpd in 2005, with the majority of the increase from Iraq, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. OPEC production is expected to decline by 2050. (So the Kuwait researchers are expecting an even larger decline in oil output, meaning that less oil will continue to be produced. Obviously, this means that globalization will end rather quickly since the system was based on cheap oil.)
On March 22, 2010, former “UK chief scientist David King and researchers from Oxford University released a paper stating ‘that demand could outstrip supply by 2014-2015.'”
From The Courier-Mail, Australia, quoting the U.S. Joint Forces Command:
“By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear; and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels a day.” (In that case, $4.00 per gallon would be the good old days when gas was cheap. And rationing would occur as in 1974 except we can expect regions in the U.S. to be without fuel for months at a time. Big box stores would go out of business. That’s a long trip to China.)
And without oil, food production isn’t possible. No oil means no fertilizer, no fuel to operate tractors, trucks and ships. And if the soil washes away or blows away from climate changes, as we have seen over the last two years, crop yield goes down. And too many people means that there are large areas of the world where water has disappeared altogether because of overuse. And the crops no longer grow. (Petroleum is essential in the manufacture of 6,000 products and many items currently can’t be made without it.)
(January 13, 2011) “Corn surged to the highest price in almost 30 months after the U.S. government lowered forecasts for domestic inventories, tightening global food supplies after adverse weather slashed harvests. Wheat also climbed.
“March-delivery corn rose as much as 1.7 percent a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest price for a most-active contract since July 2008…Corn stocks in the U.S., the world’s largest grower, will fall to 745 million bushels (18.9 million tons) before this year’s harvest, the smallest since 1996, the USDA said.”
“Widening deficits in corn and wheat, and falling supplies of soybeans have helped fuel fears of a repetition of the food shortage scare in 2008.” That included riots, hoarding and closing borders to exports around the world. Bloomberg.
This will be the story from now on since the forces at play will not disappear. Adverse weather as a result of climate change will continue to bring disasters such as flooding, droughts and excessive heat. And it appears that any coordinated effort globally to change the road we’re on will not happen.
The one FACTOR that’s making all this possible, that’s affecting the climate and bringing on a terminal case of resource shortage, is people. We have too many people and we’re going to get many more over the next 40 years. Humans are going to add over 2 billion more resource users and abusers to a planet that has already passed the tipping point. The good times are over.
Again, we don’t have enough resources to go around. That, however, won’t stop the CEOs of multinational corporations from constantly developing toys and things that you need in order to be up-to-date and in style. To them, quality-of-life is irrelevant. The merchants of the world are locked into a process designed to separate you from your pay and add it to their offshore bank accounts. The idea that this must all come to an end never crosses their minds. Their motto: He who dies with the most is the winner.
Up to three billion people are lining up to join those in Europe and North America, who are enjoying a decent meal with meat on the table, a home, a vehicle and, of course, a large array of electronics. That will not happen on a finite planet with a growing population.
After that big food shakeup in 2008, those countries that can, have made deals with third world countries to lease or buy land to grow food on for their nation’s population, in case food inventories run out. China is leading the world in the search for a guaranteed source of food, oil, rare minerals, coal, grain. metals, etc. to keep the people fed and the economy growing. This rush for resources is setting up a scenario for constant resource wars, including water rights (rivers, lakes, glaciers). One report “notes that already Chinese ‘civilians’ are in the Sudan guarding oil pipelines to protect supply, and that this ‘could portend a future in which other states intervene in Africa to protect scarce resources.'”
Meanwhile, working against providing more food for the world is the United States. Our effort to change over to ethanol as a fuel to supplement gasoline in our vehicles is beyond foolish.The only ones benefiting are the corn farmers who receive government subsidies.
“David Pimental, a leading Cornell University agricultural expert, has calculated that powering the average U.S. automobile for one year on ethanol (blended with gasoline) derived from corn would require 11 acres of farmland, the same space needed to grow a year’s supply of food for seven people.”
“Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion into ethanol, 131,000 BTUs are needed to make one gallon of ethanol. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 BTUs. Thus, 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that is actually in it. Every time you make one gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 BTUs.”
The result, Pimental says: “Abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuel amounts to unsustainable, subsidized food burning.”
Another example: “If all the automobiles in the United States were fueled with 100 percent ethanol, a total of about 97 percent of U.S. land area would be needed to grow the corn foodstock. Corn would cover nearly the total land area of the United States.” Using ethanol for fuel in America’s SUVs is not exactly a Nobel Prize winning project.
Professor Lester Brown, writing in Foreign Policy:
“But whereas in years past, it’s been weather that has caused a spike in commodities prices, now it’s trends on both sides of the food supply/demand equation that are driving up prices. On the demand side, the culprits are population growth, rising affluence, and the use of grain to fuel cars. On the supply side: soil erosion, aquifer depletion, the loss of cropland to nonfarm uses, the diversion of water to cities, the plateauing of crop yields in agriculturally advanced countries, and-due to climate change-crop-withering heat waves and melting mountain glaciers and ice sheets. These climate-related trends seem destined to take a far greater toll in the future.”
“There are now some 3 billion people moving up the food chain, eating greater quantities of grain-intensive livestock and poultry products. The rise in meat, milk, and consumption in fast-growing developing countries has no precedent. Total meat consumption in China today is already nearly double that in the United States.”
Without rich soil, sufficient water, fertilizer and a favorable climate, growing food would be impossible. Topsoil is being destroyed worldwide, leaving behind dust bowls in Mongolia and Central Africa. North Korea and Haiti (Haiti cut down its forests and the soil washed away) are chronically dependent on international food aid, to name a few. And agricultural lands are being sold for housing developments, towns and highways.
Water shortage is a serious global problem, especially in China, India, the Middle East and Africa. There is no solution. In large parts of India citizens wait for water trucks to arrive, bringing enough to drink and little else. In some cases, neighbors kill each other for water. But it’s the Southwest U.S. that will become the most horrific disaster in the history of our planet, taking the rest of the country with it.
The United States will be hard hit by oil, food and water shortages. The number of refugees coming to America will depend on how severe the world resource shortage will be. These refugees would be added to the 138 million (U.S. Census Bureau) people joining the United States by 2050. If our leaders accomplish their goal of integrating North America, with open borders, that could add another 100 million plus from Mexico, legally able to move to the U.S. and Canada.
And when the situation requires it, refugees across the Caribbean will jump in their boats and head for the United States. Haitians will will wind up in Florida. Central Americans will also make that trek north.
The Southwestern states will be unlivable. It can’t support the number of people there now. If you live in the area and plan to be around many years, you may want to consider making a move. Go to this site and click on your state. Then check the water sustainability index for your county and the level of dryness 40 years from now. The deeper the color red , the drier your county.
In 2005 James Howard Kunstler said that the illegal activities (my words) going on with the mortgage program in America, including approving loans to anyone who appeared to be breathing, and making mortgages “out of thin air”, would cause the system to come crashing down on everyone. But Ben Bernanke said he didn’t know there was a problem.
In a 2005 interview, Kunstler, who wrote the book, The Long Emergency, said the beginning of America’s long emergency would begin in three years (in 2008). Here is an excerpt from his book:
“The circumstances of the Long Emergency will be the opposite of what we currently experience. There will be hunger instead of plenty, cold where there was once warmth, effort where there was once leisure, sickness where there was health, and violence where there was peace. We will have to adjust our atitudes, values, and ideas to accommodate these new circumstances and we may not recognize the people we will soon become or the people we once were. In a world where sheer survival dominates all other concerns, a tragic view of life is apt to reassert itself. This is another way of saying that we will become keenly aware of the limitations of human nature in general and its relation to ubiquitous mortality in particular. Life will get more real.