So are we not running out of real, practical, fuels and energy supplies? Won’t sucking
up and burning all the oil and coal leave future generations in energy poverty? Are
we not squandering our childrens fuels, and future?
There are several problems with the “running out” and “using it all up – horrors!”
view of things.
The first is that we measure how much resource we have with a “rubber ruler”, the
second: we “run out” for most fossil fuels a lot further in the future than most
folks think. And the third is that there are many replacements ready to go today.
Let’s look at a few of them. (Though there are actually more energy sources, fossil
and otherwise, than we will talk about here!)
The worry is often put forward that we are going to run out of resources. That as
population increases we just MUST run out of stuff. In this article I will be presenting
a selection of examples of why this is not so. Please remember that this is far from
a complete list. I have left out more resources and technologies than I’ve put in
the article. These are just a sample sufficient to prove the thesis, the others were
left out not due to lack of merit, but due to lack of space.
This is sometimes accompanied by the dire predictions of exponential growth of population
and the inevitability of an exponential rising of population to near infinity in
very short order. Ignoring the “Four Horsemen” (famine, plague, pestilence, war –
and hoping we can avoid that solution), the “running out” thesis has significant
problems. Not the least of which is that natural systems do not grow exponentially,
they have an S shaped growth curve. Populations slow their growth as they get larger.