May 10, 2022

“We are on the verge of something fundamentally different right now, yes. But a lot of it looks more like the world before 1945 than the world of the future.” There is good news coming out of the global population collapse.

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A little while back, a friend introduced me to the work of developmental economist Peter Zeihan. He identifies as a socially conservative libertarian but seems to be slightly further to the left than that. His science is spot on and he presents it in a way that’s agenda-free. He tells it like it is, is known for his accurate forecasts, and I think we need to listen to him. Here is a recent and very concise presentation of his scholarship.

When he spoke the words quoted above, Zeihan was referring to deglobalization, reconfigured industrialization and labor force, and the structure of the world’s economy. Deglobalization, he contends, is the natural outgrowth of the current planet-wide population contraction. 

In about half of the world, the growth rate is above 2.1%.   With some exceptions, these countries are largely not significantly industrialized and, unfortunately, many also are far from food sufficient. Of the countries with more than 100 million inhabitants, India (2.20%), Indonesia (2.29%), and The Philippines (2.53%) are barely above replacement rate.  Pakistan (3.45%), Ethiopia (4.15%), and Nigeria (5.32%) are currently facing severe food insecurity.  Egypt (3.28%) will most likely suffer acutely from the expected decrease in wheat exports from Russia and Ukraine.

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The boogeymen of my youth—Erlich’s The Population Bomb and Toffler’s Future Shock—begat the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. That document and its spawn (Kyoto, Paris, UN 2020 and MDGs, UN 2030 and SDGs, etc.) are the base upon which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Green New Deal, and all other attempts at a massive North-to-South wealth transfer were built. As a body of work addressing “the environment,” all of this is now irrelevant.

Worldwide, the population is declining and it will continue to do so more and more precipitously for at least the rest of this century. Consumption, along with the required supporting industrialization, will contract right along with it. The population pyramid has turned into a population diamond.

I’m with Dr. Patrick Moore, a founder and former director of Greenpeace when he says that whatever anthropogenically accelerated climate change we’ve had has been a very good thing. It brought the world back from the near brink of a mass extinction event due to cold. In fact, the world has greened perceptibly since we began pumping carbon into the atmosphere. His most recent presentation digs into the science of this starting around the 12-minute mark.

The carbon currently being produced is being gobbled up by the expanding vegetation. We do not need to build massive pipelines to haul it across the nation to bury it in wells. Funnily enough, though, there is no outcry over carbon pipelines as there was for gas and oil pipelines. They are each as safe and, when buried, as undisruptive as the others.

We do not have to throw more bad money after bad money. (Remember Solyndra?) We do not have to cover square mile after square mile with solar panels and killer windmills that take more carbon to produce and install than they will ever recover in power generation. Did Biden even know what he was saying in Boulder, Colorado, after the fires? No one moves to Boulder to look at man-made monstrosities. They live there to dwell in a cathedral of God’s creation.

Image: Ghost town (cropped) by pxfuel.

Coal, oil, and natural gases are simply the world’s buried compost pile. They’re dead stuff that grew, greened, and thrived in the sunlight when the earth was younger. When we use fossil fuels today to heat our homes, take our kids to soccer practice, and charge our EVs, we are reigniting the sun that shone down hundreds of millions of years ago when humanity was just a gleam in some dinosaur’s eye.