Friday, September 17, 2010

How much is left? (Long post is long)

We are all living on this tiny blue dot, all 6.8+ billion of us. Earth, with a circumference 40,041 km is just a speck of dust compared to most of our neighbors in the solar system. You could fit 1,000,000 earths in our sun, for instance, and that's just our sun. Compared to other stars in our universe, the sun is a puny little spark just waiting to burn out.



See what I mean? We are smallllllllll.

Meanwhile, the human population is growing exponentially. By 2050 we are expected to reach a population of 9 billion. That's about a 50% increase from the year 2000 in just fifty years. That's 3 billion new mouths to feed, 3 billion new consumers taking their share of the world's natural resources.

Most of the people reading this blog live in 1st world nations so the realization is not apparent. We can get water on whim just by walking to our kitchens. We can get electricity just by flipping a switch on the wall. We never go hungry because we have food in our refrigerators 24/7 and if we don't we can just drive 5 minutes down the road to the nearest grocery store.

We rarely think about the resources we are draining or the environmental impact we have when we are doing these things, because we are so used to them. It is hard for us to imagine the water running out or having no electricity or having no food, but in other parts of the world those occurrences are life as usual.

In the coming decades, we in the 1st world may have to awaken to the harsh reality of our bloated and inconsiderate lifestyle. 


This brings us to the motif: how much is left and how much longer?


Oil

I'm starting with oil, because it seems to be in the news so much lately and because it will most likely be the first resource to run out.

How much oil is left? We have approximately 1,333 million barrels ready to pump. That is estimated to run out in 40 years. In just 4 years oil production will reach its peak. After that, the amount of oil we produce will fall sharply. By 2050 we will have used all but 10% of the world's oil.



There is probably more oil on earth, but it is hard to reach and may not be worth salvaging. 


Water                                                                                                                              

Definitely the most important resource.  One can only go up to 10 days without water (at an average temperature of 70 degrees.  The higher the temperature the less days one can go without water.)

Only 3% of Earth's water is fresh water and of that, 68.7% is locked up in glaciers and ice caps.  That means only about 2% of Earth's water is drinkable and easy to access.


Population growth, pollution, and climate change are stressing the already scarce water supply.  Some parts of the world are effected more than others.  More than 1 out of 6 people lack access to safe drinking water.  More than 2 out of 6 lack water with adequate sanitation.  That is 1.1 billion people and 2.6 billion people respectively. 


By 2025 more than 2.8 billion people will face water scarcity.  Most of these countries will be in Africa and west Asia.  


Food

The unimpeded growth of greenhouse gas emissions is raising the earth’s temperature. The consequences include melting glaciers, more precipitation, more and more extreme weather events, and shifting seasons.  Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Higher temperatures eventually reduce yields of desirable crops while encouraging weed and pest proliferation. Changes in precipitation patterns increase the likelihood of short-run crop failures and long-run production declines. Although there will be gains in some crops in some regions of the world, the overall impacts of climate change on agriculture are expected to be negative, threatening global food security.

Seems like the non-Industrial nations keep getting the shit end of the stick.  Sorry rest of the world. 

As stated previously, most places will be effected negatively by climate change, but some places will actually benefit.  Here is a list of projected changes in production for the world's 8 largest growers (by the 2080s.)

Argentina +2.2%
Australia -15.6%
Brazil -4.4%
China +6.8%
India -28.8%
Mexico -25.7%
Russia +6.2%
U.S. +8%  Every part of the U.S. will be effected differently
       Pacific Northwest +26%
       Rockies and Plains +47%
       Southeast -18%
       Southwest Plains -25%

There you have it folks.  The Earth is, and has been, cooking on slow boil for quite some time and we're only now starting to feel the water simmer.  If we intend to survive as a species we better do everything in our power to hightail it out of here while we still can.  There have been 5 mass extinctions since life arose 3.7 billion years ago and the next one is right around the corner.  There are only two options:  tits or GTFO  Leave Earth or die. 

20 comments:

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  3. If I had a button that would wipe out the human race, I would press it. I probably wouldn't need to at this rate.

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  5. I LOVE Science blogs like this one, please keep it up. It always boggles me when I see a comparison of the Sun compared to Earth. We're only widdle :(

    ReplyDelete
  6. I dig the video! Really impressive! You always have to remember how small we actually are..

    ReplyDelete
  7. i have seen that video before, but its fuckin awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  8. to think about how small and insignificant we appear to be in the grand scheme of things is amazing. we will learn to adapt. we have to, we may not like it. but we will. otherwise, we will destroy ourselves.

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  9. Very interesting stuff. I will come back and show my support.

    I always support those who comment on my blog:

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  10. Man do i love science especially astronomy keep the info coming <3

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  11. That video, which shows the scales, is so awesome. And damn, that last shit is big! :P

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  12. big doesnt even describe it...imagine whats out there - waiting...

    ReplyDelete
  13. I read "actual cum" and "model cum"
    Still didn't make me feel any less tiny in the world.

    ReplyDelete