Friday, January 18, 2013

The Really, Really Big Picture

The really big picture goes like this: Humans discovered about 400 million years worth of stored sunlight in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas, and have developed technologies that will essentially see all of that treasure burned up in just 300 to 400 years.

On the faulty assumption that fossil fuels will always be a resource we could draw upon, we fashioned economic, monetary, and other assorted belief systems based on permanent abundance, plus a species population on track to number around 9 billion souls by 2050.

There are two numbers to keep firmly in mind. The first is 22, and the other is 10. In the past 22 years, half of all of the oil ever burned has been burned. Such is the nature of exponentially increasing demand. And the oil burned in the last 22 years was the easy and cheap stuff discovered 30 to 40 years ago. Which brings us to the number 10.

In every calorie of food that comes to your table are hidden 10 calories of fossil fuels, making modern agriculture and food delivery the first type in history that consumes more energy than it delivers. Someday fossil fuels will be all gone. That day may be far off in the future, but preparing for that day could (and one could argue should) easily require every bit of time we have. - Chris Martenson

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