What’s the biggest time-bomb for Washington, for America, for capitalism, for the entire planet? No, it really not global warming … not peak oil … not even inequality. So what’s the absolute biggest, the one that’s like the trigger mechanism on a nuclear bomb, the one that’ll throw a monkey wrench into global economic growth, ending capitalism, even destroying modern civilization?
The one that, if not solved soon, renders all other efforts to solve all the other problems in the world, futile, irrelevant and virtually unsolvable?
News flash: Bill Gates “Billionaires Club” knows which one. Gates called billionaire philanthropists to a super-secret meeting in Manhattan back in 2009. Included: Buffett, Rockefeller, Soros, Bloomberg, Turner, Oprah and others meeting at the “home of Sir Paul Nurse, British Nobel Biochemist and President of the private Rockefeller University, in Manhattan,” reported John Harlow in the London Times Online. During an afternoon session each was “given 15 minutes to present their favorite cause. Over dinner they discussed how they might settle on an ‘umbrella cause’ that could harness their interests.”
So what’s the world’s biggest time-bomb? Gate’s billionaires unanimously agreed: “Population!” Don’t solve Planet-Earth’s over-population problem, and nothing else matters. Since their 2009 meeting, the world has added another half billion people, steadily marching to a predicted, unsustainable ten billion in 2050, one generation.
DIAMOND’S 12-PART ALGORITHM FOR A SUSTAINABLE PLANET-EARTH
“One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Jared Diamond, an environmental biologist, Pulitzer prize winner and author of the classic Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Many “civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power.”
Diamond’s 12-part algorithm is quite simple, fits perfectly with the Pentagon’s global warfare scenario: “More people require more food, space, water, energy, and other resources … There is a long built-in momentum to human population growth called the ‘demographic bulge’ with a disproportionate number of children and young reproductive-age people.” And if the ‘bulge’ stops for any reason, game over. Economic growth ends, killing capitalism.
So look very closely: Diamond’s algorithm has 12 coded time-bombs. But note, the first two are the primary triggers. The other 10 are derivative variables that are energized by these two primary triggers:
POPULATION GROWTH MULTIPLIER—UNSUSTAINABLE INCREASES
According to Times Online: A few months before the billionaires meeting Gates noted: “Official UN projections say the world’s population will peak at 9.3 billion, but with charitable initiatives, such as better reproductive health care, we think we can cap that at 8.3 billion.”
Can it be stopped? In a recent special issue of Scientific American, population was called “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” Why? Population’s the new third-rail for politicians. So they ignore it.
Yet, if all nations consumed resources at the same rate as America, we’d need six Earths to survive. Unfortunately that scenario is unstoppable. Because by 2050, while America’s population grows from 300 million to a mere 400 million, the rest of the world will explode from 6.3 billion to 8.9 billion, with over 1.4 billion each in China and India.
POPULATION IMPACT MULTIPLIER— CONSUMPTION INCREASING
Diamond warns: “There are optimists who argue that the world could support double its human population.” But he adds, they “consider only the increase in human numbers and not average increase in per-capita impact. But I have not heard anyone who seriously argues that the world could support 12 times it’s current impact.” And yet, that’s exactly what happens with “all third-world inhabitants adopting first-world standards.”
“What really counts,” says Diamond, “is not the number of people alone, but their impact on the environment,” the “per-capita impact.” First-world citizens “consume 32 times more resources such as fossil fuels, and put out 32 times more waste, than do the inhabitants of the Third World.” So the race is on: “Low impact people are becoming high-impact people” aspiring “to first-world living standards.” Yes, the American dream is now the global dream.
Get it? Our capitalist economy oversold The American Dream while creating new global markets and customers for our exports. Now everyone’s got “The Dream!” Not just 310 million Americans, but 7.3 billion people worldwide are demanding more, more, more … the new China Dream … the India Dream … the Africa Dream … yes, “dreaming” has been America’s biggest export for decades.
Warning: This “population impact multiplier” will also energize Diamond’s global growth algorithm even with no population increases! Why? In Diamond’s Collapse, the two key variables are what are called the Over-Population Multiplier and Population Impact Multiplier. Now let’s closely examine how those two key variables impact all the other ten variables that are driving this algorithm:
Two billion people, mostly poor, depend on fish and other wild foods for protein. They “have collapsed or are in steep decline” forcing use of more costly animal proteins. The U.N. calls the global food crisis a “silent tsunami.” Food prices rise making it worse for the 2.7 billion living below poverty levels on two dollars a day.
In “The End of Plenty,” National Geographic warns that even a new “green revolution” of “synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation, supercharged by genetically engineered seeds” may fail. Why? A joint World Bank/U.N. study “concluded that the immense production increases brought about by science and technology the past 30 years have failed to improve food access for many of the world’s poor.” And a Time cover story warns America’s “addiction to meat” has led to farming technology that’s “destructive of the soil, the environment and us.”
Diamond warns: “Most of the world’s fresh water in rivers and lakes is already being used for irrigation, domestic and industrial water,” transportation, fisheries and recreation. Water problems destroyed many earlier civilizations: ‘Today over a million people lack access to reliable safe drinking water.” British International Development Minister recently warned that two-thirds of the world will live in water-stressed countries by 2015.
Water will trade like oil futures as wars are fought over water and other basic essentials noted earlier in Fortune’s analysis of the Pentagon report predicting that warfare will define human life in this scenario of the near future.
Crop soils are “being carried away by water and wind erosion at rates between 10 to 40 times the rates of soil formation,” much higher in forests where the soil-erosion rate is “between 500 and 10,000 times” replacement rate. This is increasing in today’s new age of the 100,000-acre mega-fires and once-in-1,000-year disasters, dustbowls and droughts occurring every 100 days.
We are destroying natural habitats and rain forests at an accelerating rate. Half the world’s original forests have been converted to urban developments. A quarter of what remains will be converted in the next 50 years.
All too often our solutions create more problems than they solve. For example, industries “manufacture or release into the air, soil, oceans, lakes, and rivers any toxic chemicals” that break down slowly or not at all. Consider the deadly impact of insecticides, pesticides, herbicides, detergents, plastics … the list is endless.
ENERGY: FOSSIL FUELS & ALTERNATIVE SOURCES
Pimco manages $747 billion for investors: equity, bonds and commodity funds. Manager Bill Gross once described a “significant break” in the world’s “growth pattern.” He’s already betting we’re past the “peak oil” tipping point. Consumer shopping will continue declining as economies grow very slowly in the future and “corporate profits will be static.” A recent issue of Foreign Policy journal warns of the “7 Myths About Alternative Energy.” Are biofuels, solar and nuclear the “major ticket?” Unfortunately, never greater that twenty percent say experts like David Yergin, a leading international energy consultant.
Sunlight is not unlimited. Diamond: We’re already using “half of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity” and we will reach the max by mid-century. In “Plundering the Amazon,” Bloomberg Markets magazine warned that Alcoa, Cargill and other companies “have bypassed laws designed to prevent destruction of the world’s largest rain forest … robbing the earth of its best shield against global warming.” Yes, free market capitalism may ultimately be the enemy of our survival.
“Human activities produce gases that escape into the atmosphere” where they can destroy the protective ozone or absorb and reduce solar energy.
“A significant fraction of wild species, populations and genetic diversity has been lost, and at present rates, a large percent of the rest will disappear in half century.”
Transferring species to lands where they’re not native can have unintended and catastrophic effects, “preying on, parasitizing, infecting or outcompeting” native animals and plants that lack evolutionary resistance.
In spite of the clear message in Diamond’s 12 time-bombs, he remains a “cautious optimist.” What fuels his hope? Our leaders need “the courage to practice long-term thinking, and to make bold, courageous, anticipatory decisions at a time when problems have become perceptible but before they reach crisis proportions.”
Unfortunately, Diamond says, history tells us that leaders are cautious and short-sighted, driven more by self-interest and nationalism than courage and long-term thinking. As a result, they get caught off guard and their worlds collapse, fast. They only respond to crises, usually too late.
That seems to be the case with America’s political leaders and billionaires who continue focusing on everything else, especially short-term profit opportunities, while ignoring the over-population problem that they earlier agreed was (and still is) the world’s #1 problem.