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NPG Report Cites 21st Century as “Greatest Turning Point for Mankind”
Forum focuses on sustainability of energy resources, population, and a “future of less.”
Alexandria, VA (September 14, 2016) – Negative Population Growth (NPG) has issued a new Forum paper today that highlights the growing challenges of energy and population in the coming decades and how they will interact to make this “a century like no other.”
In The Singular Century, Dr. Walter Youngquist looks at economic and demographic realities. He refers to three great revolutions in history: the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the forthcoming revolution of sustainability – which he declares “the most important revolution of all in that its outcome will be the framework in which all humanity will have to exist for the indefinite future.”
Central to his research is the fact that the world will have to contend with a projected 11 billion people by 2100. He states: “That population… is unlikely to be sustainable on renewable resources. Population will be in an ‘overshoot mode’ for a brief time as it exhausts the great inheritance of fossil fuels and borrows unsustainably from the future by degrading and losing topsoil and depleting both surface and groundwater supplies.”
Youngquist notes: “For the moment we live in an energy rich society,” yet our modern world may soon come to an end. He cites how ever-expanding access to fossil fuels such as coal and oil have shaped and defined the world’s economies. However, access to these resources – including a decreasing rate of discovery of new oil fields and sharply rising costs of oil in the decades ahead – are driving us to the point where “the oil industry is beginning to enter its twilight years.”
Dr. Youngquist states: “Long term the price of oil can only go higher – much higher.” He then spells out how such costly oil will have a major negative ripple effect across the board in industry, agriculture, food distribution, tourism, etc. In summing up the coming crises related to fossil fuels, Dr. Youngquist writes: “Fossil fuels will be used as long as it is economical to use them. Their decline in availability and higher costs this century will permanently change the course of humanity, an event with no parallels.”
This paper also cites Thomas Loving, mineral geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who has made these observations: “The world is finite. It is already apparent that for many resources, an end to rich, quick assets will arrive during the 21st century, not only for the United States but for the world as a whole.”
Moving beyond fossil fuels, The Singular Century also emphasizes that “water is more valuable than oil” and the future of clean, accessible water is severely threatened. The stress of ever-increasing population is the main culprit in overdrawing water supplies. Dr. Youngquist writes: “Some rivers at times do not even reach the sea. And others at times barely do. Egypt is particularly vulnerable as upstream nations divert more and more water for their own use to support their growing populations. Egypt is facing a large increase in population, now 89 million and projected to grow to 164 million by 2050. The Nile is their only source of water which sustains Egypt’s agriculture, and thus Egypt’s food supply.” Present falling water tables and collapsed aquifers in such key areas as California and Saudi Arabia are a prelude to what’s to come.
Another huge threat is presented by a rapid loss of soil, which is cited as being “lost worldwide 10 times as fast as it is made by nature.” There is also a major concern that soil fertility, presently boosted by the extensive use of fertilizers, will greatly suffer from a fast-declining source of phosphates, key to fertilizer production. Dr. Youngquist states: “Unfortunately, like many other nonrenewable resources, there is no visible solution to this problem.”
In summing up his findings, Dr. Youngquist sends out an alarm for all to heed. He proclaims: “A common public answer is that ‘scientists will think of something’ but thus far this has not happened.” And “You cannot ‘think’ resources into existence beyond what now exist.”