Given that thousands of commonly used materials are derived from coal and oil -
other than fuel for vehicles and greasing industry, I don't think we can argue
that it does not matter too much if coal, oil etc are depleted. A world
without plastics would soon seize up. There are plenty of good reasons to
conserve oil other than just the energy product, and these other uses alone
justify every effort to move to alternative forms of energy.
Conservation of all resources as well as the natural world and species in it
just makes good sense. It does not make good sense to take things to the point
where they are just hanging on - and just to try to stay relevant to this
discussion site, the world is better having an abundance of all birds rather
than many rare ones just hanging on.
And, on the point that predictions of doom in the past have proved wrong
doesn't mean that eventually we will not exhaust things to the point that
digging deeper, processing more efficiently, etc, will not stop them running
On 23/08/2012, at 1:43 PM, Dave Torr <> wrote:
> Whilst the growth rate may be declining, it is still positive so absolute
> population is growing - and in many economies (China and India) the
> consumption rate is rising rapidly.
> I agree that estimates of reserves are not very accurate, and that with
> improving technology more marginal reserves can be tapped, but again none
> of them are infinite. I guess it can be argued that it does not matter too
> much if coal, oil etc are depleted as we can access solar and other energy
> forms to replace them, but even they have their limits eventually
> On 23 August 2012 13:25, Jeremy O'Wheel <> wrote:
>> I think it's worth noting that global population growth peaked in 1969 and
>> has been declining since then.
>> I also think it's worth noting that our estimates of the remaining
>> resources of nearly every raw resource have been increasing over time
>> (rather than decreasing). So for example if you look at estimates of how
>> much gold is is left to be dug up, the estimates for 2012 are significantly
>> higher than the estimates in 2002, which are higher than 1992 etc. So
>> although, in some sense we must be depleting resources, the evidence
>> suggests that the problem is far less serious than popular thought
>> presents. People have been predicting economic collapse within a few
>> decades due to depleted resources since the 19th century, and so far have
>> been wrong.
>> Of course that doesn't mean that they're wrong now, but it's worth keeping
>> in mind the 150 years of these predictions being wrong, and wondering why
>> they would be right now.
>> It's 80 years since an Australian bird went extinct (not counting our
>> island territories), and although if it were up to me, I'd massively
>> increase national parks, ban the recreational use of beaches and wetlands,
>> as well as dogs and cats, and presumably never get elected, I think we have
>> to recognise that the state of both the Australian environment and the
>> global environment is actually not too bad, and doom and gloom is not based
>> on facts.
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