Collapse: a documentary by Chris SmithPosted: August 9, 2011 Filed under: Strategy and Execution | Tags: Chris Smith, Collapse, environmental, food production, Michael Ruppert, peak oil, system thinking 2 Comments
I have watched several times an engrossing documentary entitled “Collapse” which features radical thinker Michael Ruppert. Among other topics he presents his thesis on peak oil (the theory that oil production has reached practical limits of total output and that it will not keep up with the current rate of increase in demand) on the ramifications for our way of life and society as currently constructed.
In this clip he talks about the inherent oil-intensity of today’s food production processes. One arresting assertion (I cannot speak to its veracity) is that there are 10 calories of energy in each calorie of food consumed in the western world. I would say that this assertion seems plausible given the level of energy consumption I have seen first hand in the factories, warehouses, trucks, and packaging of many food plants and farms. Whether alarmist, prescient or both, it is worth considering and asking oneself whether one believes the thesis and if not, why not, and if so, the implications.
read a similar type of book called The Long Emergency by James Kunstler discussing the social, political, and economic impact of a world running out of oil. Was a bit extremist and painted a doom and gloom scenario. Personaly I subscribe to the belief that has proven out time after time that is best described by the old addage “necessity is the mother of invention”. Whenever there has been a strong need to solve an issue-people have found a way to do just that.
In undergrad my thesis was a critique on the book Limits to Growth. The Limits to Growth was a 1972 book modeling the consequences of a rapidly growing world population and finite resource supplies. Its authors were Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III. The book used a computer simulation to extrapolate the consequence of exponential growth out-pacing resource growth. This kind of thinking has a long pedigree: Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus’ “An Essay on the Principle of Population” (1798) made dire predictions of mass starvation as the world’s population grows. To your point, the use of fertilizers, pesticides, gas-powered tractors and genetics have increased yields substantially.
Interestingly, The Economist last week had an article on whether the basic premise in our economy for limitless growth will indeed meet limits (limits in oil, food production etc.) and that it is just a question of timing (please see new post).