Presentation on theme: "By Robert Bériault PEAK OIL AND THE FATE OF HUMANITY Chapter 5 – How do We Compare?"— Presentation transcript:
By Robert Bériault PEAK OIL AND THE FATE OF HUMANITY Chapter 5 – How do We Compare?
There are many parallels we can draw between the fate of the Easter Islanders and the future of our technological civilization Map of Easter Island
The islanders built bigger and bigger statues We are building increasingly tall skyscrapers
They worshiped the gods of ever bigger statues We worship the gods of consumerism and economic growth
Their population grew uncontrollably It grew from 100 individuals to perhaps 10,000 over a period of 1,000 years It doubled every 152 years on average 150018005001000 YEAR
Our population is growing uncontrollably too In fact we are doing much worse! Due to medicine that prolonged life and modern agriculture that provided abundant food: we’ve quadrupled our population in the past century
They cut down all their trees… they deforested the whole island down to the last tree. …to supply the needs and luxuries for too many people
We are cutting down all our trees To supply the needs and luxuries for too many people, we are deforesting the whole planet. Deforestation in British Columbia Will it be down to the last tree?
This is a picture I took of deforestation, 300 km north of Lac St-Jean, Québec. Note the pitiful rows of trees left standing on either side of the Mistassibi river. They were felling trees as little as 5 inches in diameter, because all the big ones further south have been cut down.
Erosion on Easter Island resulted in loss of topsoil The island’s food production dropped Erosion on Easter Island
Are we doing any better? - 1 Soil erosion in most parts of the world results in loss of topsoil. Erosion in Canada “Erosion”,G.J. Wall, E.A. Pringle, G.A. Padbury, H.W. Rees, J. Tajek, L.J.P. van Vliet, C.T. Stushnoff, R.G. Eilers, and J.-M. Cossette
Are we doing any better? - 1 Per capita grain production has reached a peak in 1989 and has been falling since. Erosion in Canada “Erosion”,G.J. Wall, E.A. Pringle, G.A. Padbury, H.W. Rees, J. Tajek, L.J.P. van Vliet, C.T. Stushnoff, R.G. Eilers, and J.-M. Cossette
Are we doing any better? - 1 We’re heading toward world grain shortages! Source: USDA http://www.fas.usda.gov/grain/circular/2004/05-04/all.pdf
Are we doing any better? - 1 We’re heading toward world grain shortages! Source: USDA
Are we doing any better? - 2 Due to mismanagement and overpopulation: Desertification is advancing in China, Africa and the USA “Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource”, Marq De Villiers
Are we doing any better? - 3 Millions of acres are lost annually to salination caused by irrigation. Ground water contains salt and minerals that accumulate on the surface when the water evaporates. The result is that the soil is permanently destroyed.
Are we doing any better? - 4 We’re destroying our best farmland by covering it up with buildings Canada’s best quality farmland is “visible” from the top of Toronto’s CN Tower
Are we doing any better? - 5 We’re also covering up the world’s best farmland with highways and parking lots EVERY YEAR AROUND THE WORLD: We add 11 million cars to the world fleet We pave over 4 million acres of prime farmland “Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble”, Lester R. Brown
Are we doing any better? - 6 What will happen when they are empty? In every corner of the Earth we’re pumping aquifers faster than they can recharge
Are we doing any better? - 6 The Ogallala aquifer in the great plains of the USA is a good example of how modern day humans are depleting their water supplies. http://www.uwec.edu/grossmzc/WORMKA/
Are we doing any better? - 7 By the same token, we are destroying the web of life that is supporting us We’re poisoning our soils with chemicals
The islanders were short-sighted… Having cut all their trees, they no longer had the materials to build the strong offshore canoes they needed to hunt dolphin.
But are we any less short-sighted? But we use them to decimate one fish stock after another We think we’re clever because we know how to build factory fishing trawlers…
They didn’t destroy their fisheries – only the means to get to them. Have we ever given any thought as to what fish eat? We’ve gone one further: Since we’ve ruined the cod and salmon fisheries, somebody thought: “Wouldn’t it be a great idea to grow our own fish!”
Other fish, of course! Some of the many consequences: This good source of protein is diverted away from feeding the poor. Escaping fish transmit diseases to wild fish High concentrations of fish meal contaminate the water Every year the fish farming industry uses 30* million tons of lesser quality fish as fish meal to feed to the cultured fish. * Nils Kautsky, Institute for Systems Ecology, Stockholm Fish farming competes with these poor fishermen
The average fish farm uses about 3 pounds of wild-caught fish to grow 1 pound of salmon or shrimp. Shrimp farming results in the destruction of coastal mangroves, the breeding ground of many species of fish. * Rosamond L. Naylor and Harold A. Mooney, Nature,.
* “Paradoxically, aquaculture is a possible solution but is also a contributing factor to the collapse of fisheries stocks around the world.” * Rosamond L. Naylor and Harold A. Mooney, Nature,.
Are we doing any better? - 8 The Rapa Nui people lived miserably after reaching their peak population. They resorted to living in caves
Are we doing any better? - 8 We haven’t reached the top of our population curve yet and billions are living in miserable conditions.
Are we doing any better? - 9 The Rapa Nui dried up their fresh water ponds and streams.
Are we doing any better? - 9 We’re drying up our rivers. The Colorado River, is only one example of major rivers that dry up before reaching the ocean. “Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource”, Marq de Villiers
Are we doing any better? - 10 Through our technology we have created toxins that do not exist naturally anywhere in the world We’re undermining Nature’s web of life
After viewing the video, you will wonder how come growth seems to get out of hand. See Chapter 6 for some insight on why growth breeds growth. Click icon for Chapter Choice There’s a good video about the Easter Island/whole world comparison at: CLICKCLICK