As humans evolved into intelligent bipedal creatures, necessity was the mother of invention. For two hundred thousand years, and through the agrarian revolution as well as the Industrial Revolution, this fact remained a constant. As we evolved from the Industrial Revolution and entered the Computer Revolution, however, things began to shift. No longer was necessity the mother of invention… it was comfort/convenience. With indoor plumbing and penicillin in the books, man has turned his attention to Cappuccino machines and male enhancement drugs. Instead of hunter gatherers, we have become consumers. Now big business is driven primarily by wants rather than needs.
Through the 20th Century, this fact was largely ignored. We had plenty of resources, and many fewer homo sapiens inhabiting our planet. In fact, at the turn of the 20thCentury, the world’s population was 1.9 Billion. 100 years later, that number stood at over 6 Billion, which represents a 315% increase. If that number were to hold through the 21st Century, our world’s population would balloon to nearly 19 Billion. Most experts project a more conservative number of 10 Billion. But consider this. It took our species approximately 200,000 years to grow to a population of ½ Billion at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. In less than 300 years, that number has skyrocketed by 5,500,000,000,000. A better way to think of it, is in 200,000 years our population grew to the current size of the US, Mexico, and Russia. In the last 300 years, our population has grown an additional 17 America’s.
This massive population growth has depleted our natural resources in a big way. Currently, we sit at a precipice. Like the pendulum of a grandfather clock, we are going to see a swing from comfort, back to necessity as the mother of invention. Any reputable scholar agrees that the world’s oil, coal reserves, and natural gas supplies will be depleted at some point in the near future. Whether it’s 70 years, or 250 years, it’s coming. No longer will we be able to refine any oil to fill up our cars at a gas station, or burn coal in order to turn on our household lights. Once these natural resources are depleted, they are gone for thousands of years, until the earth processes the carbon back into a liquid (oil) or a solid (coal).
We know that our population is going to continue to grow, and that our resources are going to run out. Which brings us to the next Revolution– an Energy Revolution. Unlike any of the 3 previous revolutions, this one will be thrust upon us, whether we like it or not. The good news, however, is that we see it coming, and like our predecessors, we can adapt. So, what do we do? I have some ideas, and I will share them with you in coming blogs. To be continued.