The problem with calling the end of the world


There's a major problem with those who keep telling us that the world is going to end because we're about to run out of something. Doesn't matter all that much what it is, as we know, there's always someone telling us that we're doomed, doomed I tell you, because oil, gas, forests, air, fresh water, is about to run out and then we'll all be sorry. There was even a fashion in the 1890s for the idea that pasture land for the world's horses would run out: the doomsayers entirely ignorant of the horseless carriage and kerosene.

The current one is some combination of gas running out and we'll all be reliant upon foreigners and oil will run out anyway. Well, maybe and maybe not:

The International Energy Agency said in November the world may have an “acute glut" of gas in the next few years because production of so-called unconventional fuel, which includes shale gas, is set to rise 71 percent between 2007 and 2030.......Western Europe may have held 510 trillion cubic feet of shale gas as of 2007, JPMorgan said. That’s adequate to feed Germany for 175 years, based on BP Plc’s data.

That number is, remember, after only a few years of looking for the stuff. You can put this two different ways (you may even think of other ones). The first is that we human beings don't in fact consume resources so much as create them: we create them by developing technology that can take advantage of them.

The second is the gross error that the doomsayers always make: that technology is static. Which, of course, it isn't and hasn't been ever since the first hominid noted the lovely sharp edges you can get from bashing two pieces of flint together.

Advancing technology isn't going to solve everything of course: while it's solved the physical problem of how a middle aged man such as myself might offer and gain enjoyment from having attracted a young popsie it's most unlikely to aid in doing such attraction. But advancing technology is going to solve, as it has done, the problems that we're going to run out of things.