Category Archives: Limits

Examine the limits to growth

Our Energy Future

There is growing, world wide debate and research about energy supply and cost, its impact on climate change, food supply and water security and the world’s economy. Underlying all these outcomes is the world’s burgeoning population, currently over 7 billion, which published research such as the annual “Living Planet Report” now suggests it is at least 1.5 times the population that our planet earth can sustain. Currently, we are managing to support this population, but primarily because of high technology which depends critically on energy supply and cost.

There is growing evidence that we are rapidly approaching the “Limits to Growth” projected in 1972 according to that books business as usual scenario. Our human ingenuity is enabling us to maintain our current prosperity levels and may continue to succeed in this for a number of years, but our conviction is that the limit will soon be reached which will precipitate a world wide crisis. It may be very soon or a number of years away, but we do believe that it is inevitable.

If we took action now, the pundits suggest we could still prepare for and learn to manage the lifestyle changes which are inevitable. However, the world authorities cannot help taking decisions along the lines of what will sustain or cause growth in their own nations now, because immediate demands and potential financial gains override the potential long term future pains. I’m still impressed by the title of James Hansen’s book on climate change, “Storms of my grandchildren” where he makes a powerful plea for strong action now against global warming to avoid creating a world of great difficulty for our future generations.

As we see it, our sinful human nature is fundamentally selfish and greedy and ignores God’s clear guidance to us and so we are inevitably destroying our future. For inevitably we will use wealth and resources we discover to improve our own house first before we will use it to help others.That same selfishness and greed is evident in our nations today as it has been throughout history as we prioritise their own nations welfare above that of other nations. In contrast, the Biblical standard is to love our neighbour as ourself which is a fundamentally different principle. History is repeating itself today for if we examine the past (research has looked into this closely), all previous civilisations have eventually collapsed, even the most powerful. So we believe that unless we change our fundamental character and self-preservation priorities, the current civilisation must eventually collapse. We see that the evidence of impending collapse is all around us.

The problem, is that although some of our experts continue to suggest rightly and wisely what we need to do, the fundamental nature of our modern, world wide national leaderships, does not have the inner power and philosophy to motivate and instigate those changes. As a well known writer penned many years ago, fundamentally “the love of money is the root of all evil” accurately reflects are human mindset from the beginning of history. To change our deep inner motivations requires a dramatic, fundamental religious change that only some are prepared to make.

We need to listen to the modern voices of such people as Richard Heinberg, Gail Tverberg, Lester Brown, Janes Hansen and many others who see the writing on the wall for the world of today. We should also visit web sites such as the Post-Carbon Institute and Peak Prosperity and others who are sounding powerful warnings and constructive suggestions about our future. Yes, there are many other voices that differ from these, but a study of their backgrounds suggest that many of them have a vested interest in the present which exceeds their longer term interest in the future.

I came to investigate all these things, because I first saw them in the Bible and wished to verify what I felt it was saying. I was stunned to find that the picture the Bible presents of the approach to the end times matches very well what we see unfolding today. Most end time theologies anticipate some of the things we see happening in the Middle East, but are far from seeing a picture of our modern civilisation and its collapse due to economic decline, food and water supply and global warming.

Energy supply and cost is a key factor. Our modern civilisation is founded on energy supply from fossil fuels, primarily coal, oil and natural gas. We have been extracting the fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate and as we do so, they have become harder to extract and increasingly expensive. In a general, big picture sense, this had made industrial production and farming and pretty much everything we do increasingly expensive and less profitable. There is still large resources available, but they are approaching the point where the cost of extraction is closing in on the financial return from the investment. So developed nations which rely more on industry are coming into increasing debt which they are finding increasingly difficult to reduce.

Enormous effort is now bring made to keep the good things going. Huge gains in efficiency have been made, but at the cost of making our world systems increasingly interdependent and tightly coupled. What we are doing is holding off collapse, but at the price that when it does happen it will be increasingly catastrophic in its impact the longer we continue this route. We are doing this in order to try to preserve the current glory, but at the price of long term pain rather than implementing some pain now to preserve a less glorious, but less painful future.

My perspective on all of this that what we are seeing unfold is heading towards the end time picture that the Bible presents which leads to a climax when Jesus returns. I see that it is not reasonably possible for there to be another global civilisation as long as we continue to live with a “me first” philosophy. We have lived contrary to God’s direction and are now reaping the consequences of our free will choices. God is not to blame for the current crisis and enormous suffering. We are. God has given us all we need and then some. We just haven’t listened.

References

The Living Planet Report, WWF, http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/2012_lpr/

Limits to Growth, The 30-Year Update, Meadows, Randers and Meadows, Earthscan, 2005.

Storms of my Grandchildren, James Hansen, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009

Richard Heinberg is a well known author of books such as “The Party’s Over” and “The End of Growth”.

Gail Tverberg has a web site “Our Finite Planet” and is well respected for the continuous stream of quality articles she writes.

World on the Edge, Lester Brown, Earthscan, 2011

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The Coming Crisis

It is strikingly apparent that people in our world today, perhaps with the exception of those with monotheistic beliefs, expect life on earth to continue far into the foreseeable future. Although some see huge dangers, in general, most believe that we will get through the current challenges somehow and life will continue. In general, we seem to be eternal optimists. In the developed and developing countries many live from day to day without giving a great deal of thought to longer term issues; many others will plan to secure their financial and long term health issues as best as their nation will provide. In poorer countries, most can only live from day to day as courageous survival and intelligent adaptability is the best they can hope for.

Most exciting in our time is to see the growth of our modern, world wide civilisation and to be part of it. This is quite unique in history. Never before has a world wide civilisation occurred. However, there is an increasing number of people who realise that this amazing civilisation is coming under a growing threat and is on the edge of collapse. Perhaps, this threat was first made public with the release of the book “The Limits to Growth” in 1972, which caused a storm of controversy and was rejected by many who had political mind sets, but not on scientific grounds. The essential thesis of this work was that our modern civilisation cannot continue to grow forever because there are limits to what our planet can sustain. The authors suggested that we needed to put in place measures to control population growth, limits to the use of energy resources especially fossil fuels and to limit pollution, because without these controls our modern civilisation would become unsustainable and must eventually collapse sometime in the 21st century. Two subsequent updates to this work, the last one in 2004, indicated that our civilisation had grown beyond sustainability and that more drastic measures were needed to avoid a more catastrophic decline. Recent research seems to confirm the correctness of these conclusions and also show that the results were remarkably accurate. Today more and more people are recognising how fragile our modern civilisation is and this web site will attempt to reflect on these emerging circumstances and to provide recommendations for discussion and action.

The unique features that this web site brings is to link this perspective and the unfolding events especially pertaining to Israel and the Middle East with a matching perspective to God’s plan revealed in the Bible and described by an end time theology. Not surprisingly no existing secular source goes near this connection. In addition, from a Christian perspective, no existing, published end time theology is able to do this as their framework is unable to link together the teaching of the Bible unambiguously, clearly and with confident interpretations of every relevant passage of the Bible. The conclusions are startlingly relevant in a new and exciting way. That’s why we say the the return of Jesus is near. Our prophetic sense is that God’s patience is running out and that He will not allow the huge suffering in the world to continue very much longer.

Thus it is my conviction that our current modern civilisation will inevitably collapse and that this collapse reflects the end time scenario in the Bible that will lead to the return of Jesus. Thus I believe that the world we know today will end, but will be replaced by a new world which will be far better and which God planned for before the beginning of time. I do not look on this negatively as a doom and gloom perspective because the reality is that most people living today are already suffering to a tremendous degree. God has planned for heaven on earth. Today we are able to experience a foretaste of this within communities that are vibrantly connected to God, but God’s plan is that this experience will extend to the whole earth after Jesus returns. In the meantime, there are churches that are experiencing a measure of this joy and it is exciting to see this unfold.

What in the World is going on?

This is the first post to this web site. Progress has been slow, but it is planned that it will be ready for productive use by 31 May 2013. Some time in the next two months important downloads will be possible and a number of posts will be published which will define the scope of this web site.

The world today is changing very rapidly. It is very interesting, exciting and terrible at the same time. Only a minority live in a reasonably secure environment. Much evidence suggests that there are limits to growth and that we are now coming up against those limits. It suggests that the modern civilisation we know cannot continue much longer in the form that we are experiencing today.

It is our conviction that these circumstances were anticipated long ago.

This site is being constructed to examine these issues. It is hoped that it will engender fruitful debate and lead us to understand the urgency of this hour and how we might prepare for what is coming on the world.