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Ecological Disaster
The Challenge

We are surely heading for ecological disaster if we do not make radical changes in energy and environmental policy. Here are some of the most salient aspects of our unsustainability dilemma which cries out for solutions such as new energy:

WHY WE CAN'T GO ON LIKE THIS--BETWEEN 1950 AND 2000

  • Population up 2x
  • Energy use up 4x
  • No. of automobiles up 10x
  • Paper use up 7x
  • Wood use up 3x
  • Water use up 3x
  • Fish catch up 5x
  • Rangeland production up 3x

During the decade 2000-2010 we are experiencing 'big rollovers' or peak production in oil, natural gas, water, wood, topsoil, fish and other foods.

THE IMPLICATIONS:

  • Demand outstrips the capacity to produce;
  • Sellers market: prices skyrocket;
  • Resource becomes more than half-depleted and quality decreases;
  • Exponential increase in consumption is insensitive to underestimates in supply;
  • We are "hitting the wall" in supply: at current rates of consumption, most of these resources will be gone from the Earth by 2050;
  • We must radically change our policies by developing new energy sources and recycling our basic raw materials.

HUMAN IMPACT ON EARTH

  • Biggest mass extinction in 65 million years;
  • Toxic pollution kills 100s of millions;
  • More carbon dioxide than in 160 million years;
  • Disaster relief budgets are up 10x in twenty years because of global climate change and warming mostly attributable to the routine burning of fossil fuels;
  • Global warming is exacerbated by ozone depletion, deforestation, melting of ice caps and glaciers;
  • Depletion or scarcity in major natural resources;
  • Dependence on fossil fuels, nuclear energy and weapons production comprise about 80% of the world economy directly or indirectly;
  • Dependence on Mideast oil is ecologically, economically and militarily unsustainable
  • Increased outgassing of greenhouse gas methane

Worldwatch Institute


References and Notes

1. Above statistics sourced from 'State of the World' annual volumes issued by the Worldwatch Institute, Washington, D.C