What Happens When the World’s Resources Run Out?

What Happens When the World’s Resources Run Out?

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Signs loom that we are nearing a crossroads: Demand for the stuff that fuels modern life is outpacing supply. Things could get ugly, fast.

The complex modern way of life that has increasingly besieged the planet in recent generations is devouring resources far faster than ever in human history. Not just obvious things like oil, coal and natural gas, but also a host of metals, minerals and elements that we use every day.

If industrialized nations started running out of some of these things, massive disruptions would result.

Uh … don’t look now, but we are already starting to run out of them. That’s right—practically all of them.

In his book A Race for What’s Left, author Michael Klare says the world is plunging into “a crisis of resource depletion.” Basic analysis of trends in population growth and resource usage proves that humanity is on an unsustainable course.

History is full of examples, both human and otherwise, of the chilling consequences to a society or population that overruns its resources.

Last year the world population passed 7 billion, and more than 200,000 are added to that number every day. Meanwhile, a burgeoning global middle class is suddenly demanding luxuries that have long been restricted to the Western world: meat in their diet and oil-burning cars, for example. The world’s most populous nation, historically underdeveloped China, has emerged as the world’s leading automobile manufacturer, last year producing more cars than the U.S. and Japan put together. Unsurprisingly, last year, world oil use reached a record high of 87.4 million barrels a day. Appetite for several other commodities is also rising.

Right now, the United States houses less than 5 percent of the world’s people and consumes 20 percent of its resources. What happens when 10 or 20 percent of the world’s people want to live like Americans?

William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel have produced a model for estimating the ecological demands that various standards of living put on the planet, called the Global Footprint Network (gfn). They estimate that the average person on Earth needs 4.4 acres of land and sea to support him. Considering living standards, the average person in China needs 5.4 acres, while the typical American needs nearly 20 acres.

This model has produced the same conclusion that several other sources have, including the United Nations: that for all people to have a standard of living like the average American would take four or five more Earths’ worth of resources.

The reality is, current demand is already rapidly depleting supplies of finite resources such as oil, coal, natural gas, metals, minerals and even water. New discoveries of easily accessed sources are getting more rare, and older sources are declining in output.

Peaking supply and rising demand point to the inevitability of a crunch that, at the very least, would drive prices up to levels that could ruin already fragile economies.

One obvious sign of the approach of this crisis point is the means by which more and more resources are being collected today. Because easily accessible reservoirs of many crucial resources are disappearing, governments and corporations have begun to exploit more difficult-to-reach, expensive, environmentally risky and even dangerous sources. Oil, for example, is being coaxed out of the inhospitable Arctic, or the deep oceans, creating disasters like that in the Gulf of Mexico in the summer of 2010. It is coming from tar sands, a costly process that takes an enormous amount of energy to harvest and convert into usable form. Natural gas is being mined through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which produces 80 million gallons of toxic wastewater per well and may have other environmental drawbacks. Rare earths, a group of minerals used in a variety of modern technologies, are in extremely short supply. Because of the environmental dangers of mining them, America shut down its production of them years ago. Meanwhile, China bought up a virtual monopoly on them, and now is able to practically hold to ransom the rest of the world that seeks to use them.

One of the most basic human needs is food, and the looming limits on food production are many. Rising oil and gas prices increase food production costs at every level of the process, including for the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that are used in growing the crops. Phosphorus, crucial for fertilizer, is in limited supply that won’t keep up with rising demand indefinitely. Arable land is becoming scarcer, in part because of soil degradation and erosion from ruinous farming practices. Most of the world’s big fisheries are experiencing dramatic declines in their fish supplies. Adverse weather events like droughts and floods are increasing, which reduce crop yields or even wipe out harvests.

Based on the gfn model, Rees and Wackernagel calculate that if present rates of growth in demand persist, by the 2030s mankind would need two Earths’ worth of resources to supply them. They also estimate that for what humanity consumes in 12 months, it takes the planet 18 months to regenerate. “Humanity is living off its ecological credit card,” Wackernagel said in 2006.

There is no “central planning” to address most of these questions. What is beginning to emerge, then, is an increasingly combative environment in which each country angles to secure its own future by staking its claims at whatever cost it deems necessary.

Africa and Latin America are becoming battlegrounds, particularly for China and European nations, over who will control the commodities locked away there. Several countries, particularly in Asia, anticipating trouble on the horizon, have been snapping up huge tracts of African farmland—not to feed Africans, but to ensure that their own people have enough food in the future. Competition over energy resources is increasingly shaping the way major powers deal with one another, with energy exporters using political leverage against importers that are dependent on them.

Again, history vividly illustrates the kind of consequences such rivalry tends to create: famines, broken economies, societal upheaval, war.

But it is not just history that should raise our concerns. These are exactly the sorts of perilous conditions that biblical prophecy reveals will besiege our world in its final days, the beginning of which we are in right now. Epic clashes within and among populations, many of them over resources, are coming!

You need to read our March 2006 Trumpet article “The Battleground” to understand in detail how these startling events are prophesied to occur.

Presidential Race Reveals Egypt’s Lunge Toward Islamism

Egypt’s next president may be an Islamist extremist backed by the Muslim Brotherhood. When Hosni Mubarak was ousted last February, the formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood quickly emerged as Egypt’s best-organized power bloc. To soothe those who were worried about extremism, the Brotherhood promised repeatedly that it would not field a candidate for the presidency. In recent weeks, the Brotherhood has not only broken that promise but has also taken aggressive steps to crush the competition.

The most recent example appeared on Monday, when an Egyptian parliamentary committee approved a new law that prevents former members of the Mubarak regime from running in presidential elections. The Muslim Brotherhood, which controls parliament, designed the law to terminate the presidential bid of former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Suleiman is viewed as an enemy of extreme Islamists, a supporter of military action against Iran’s nuclear program, and a friend of the U.S. and Israel. He stepped forward for Egypt’s presidential race in response to the Brotherhood’s decision to field a candidate, and he was counting on winning the vote of those who fear Islamist rule.

The new law means Suleiman will not even be permitted to run.

This law comes just days after another presidential contender was disqualified because of accusations that his mother is an American citizen. The candidate called the ruling an “elaborate plot” by the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that in reality his mother only has a U.S. Green Card.

Some analysts are alarmed that Egypt is lunging toward Islamism and are afraid of the Brotherhood’s growing power.

Mona Makram Ebeid, Egyptian politician and professor of political science, said, “I think that Egypt today is at a crossroads and I believe that this is the most serious and dangerous period that we going through in all of Egypt’s history, in all of Egypt’s modern history since Muhammad Ali (founder of modern Egypt). Today it is the personality of Egypt that is at stake. We must fight for it to keep a secular, civil, modern democratic state.”

Western champions of the “Arab Spring” did not expect Hosni Mubarak to be replaced by such an extremely Islamist, anti-democratic regime. They assumed that the revolution meant Egypt was bound for democracy—a victory for freedom.

But not everyone was convinced. Shortly after Mubarak was toppled, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said that “many of the Western world’s leaders [saw] what [was] happening in Egypt as good news.” But he warned that such world leaders “fail[ed] to see the strength of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Now, with presidential elections only weeks away, it is clear that Egypt’s revolution was not the democratic triumph many mistook it for—and that post-Mubarak Egypt is racing toward the Islamist camp.

Occupy Protesters Gear Up for Spring Training

Occupy Protesters Gear Up for Spring Training

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With the arrival of spring, activists across the nation are getting ready to emerge from their winter of hibernation.

As a wave of warmer weather sweeps across America, Occupy protests are again popping up in cities across the nation. Just this past week, several hundred protesters participated in a Saturday march through downtown Chicago, the National Park Service issued a cleanup notice to the Occupy DC groups in McPherson Square, and 12 activists were arrested for blocking traffic in Minneapolis.

A large subset of this up-till-now leaderless movement is even seizing the opportunity to form a more unified political front. This front, dubbed 99 Percent Spring, aims to recruit 100,000 activists and will be holding spring training sessions in all 50 states from April 9 to 15 on how to do such things as resist arrest and organize protests.

The initiative includes support from such left-wing social organizations as MoveOn.org, afl-cio, Greenpeace, the Working Families Party, 350.org, Campaign for America’s Future, United Students Against Sweatshops, CodePink, Global Exchange and Color of Change.

The primary leader of the 99 Percent Spring movement is currently Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones—the former special adviser on green jobs to the Obama administration. Jones resigned his post as special adviser in 2009 when Republican lawmakers called for his ouster over revelations about his past association with the radical Marxist group Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (storm).

Since his resignation, Jones has worked with organizations like MoveOn.org to launch the Rebuild the Dream campaign, which is intended to counter the Tea Party movement and rebuild America based upon the campaign promises of Barack Obama.

In comments made to the media last month, Jones claimed that the only way to change America for the better was to first reelect Obama to the presidency and then to establish a grassroots social movement capable of pushing the government into making the demanded changes. “I think you need two sources of power to make change, and not just one. I think you need a head of state that’s willing to be moved, and a movement to do the moving,” Jones said.

As economic tensions build and the presidential campaign season gets under way, we can expect massive protests and civil disobedience rallies to become a common occurrence in major cities across the United States. If the precedent set by the Occupy Oakland protests holds true, these civil disobedience rallies may quickly descend from being peaceful protests to violent riots.

Last January, billionaire investor George Soros warned of all-out class warfare as the economy deteriorates and protesting becomes more common. “Yes, yes, yes,” Soros told the Daily Beast on the subject of whether “riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable.” Soros went on to claim that the solution to such violent rioting was for President Obama to increase taxes on the rich in an attempt to solve social inequality.

While Soros is right about the inevitability of rioting in the streets, his solution would only likely further escalate class tensions. Taking money from those who own businesses and giving it those who are threatening to shut them down is not a viable solution to American joblessness.

As Occupy Protests and 99 Percent Spring Rallies proliferate across the nation, expect violent rioting to eventually engulf cities across America. The political establishment is gearing up for a presidential election campaign based on partisan division, class warfare and outright racism. The Occupy protesters are likely to become a major component of this campaign. For further information, read Philip Nice’s article “Blood in the Streets” and Stephen Flurry’s editorial “Will ‘Trayvon Martin’ Ignite Race Wars?

Edmund Stoiber Holds Another Private Audience With Pope

Edmund Stoiber Holds Another Private Audience With Pope

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Former prime minister of Bavaria Edmund Stoiber met with Pope Benedict xvi April 9 at the pope’s summer home in Castel Gandolfo.

While heads of state may have to settle with only a brief meeting with the pope, this apparent political has-been and EU bureaucrat meets regularly with the pope. The two know each other from their time working at the University of Regensburg.

This time, Stoiber was there to present Benedict with a book in which several famous people, mainly from Bavaria, share their thoughts on the pope.

But the meeting was more than a book presentation. Stoiber’s spokesman said the main discussion revolved around the pope’s visit to Latin America and the state of the European Union.

Stoiber and Benedict are two men the Trumpet has closely watched for several years. Benedict has made it no secret that he wants to revive Catholicism’s influence in Europe, while Stoiber has made it quite clear he is a staunch supporter of the Vatican. Stoiber currently has no portfolio in the German government, although he serves as the anti-bureaucracy chairman within the European Commission. Yet he is one of only a few men to be granted an extended private audience with the most powerful man in the world’s largest single religion.

Stoiber could still prove to be a useful ally for the Vatican, as the pope strives to turn Europe back to its Catholic roots.

The Last Bubble

The Last Bubble

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A massive bubble is inflating, and when it pops, the world will need a whole new economic system.

There is a new and dangerous bubble hanging over the economy. It is far bigger than the dot-com bubble. It absolutely dwarfs the housing bubble. And it is far more dangerous than the debt bubble that ignited the Great Depression.

This bubble will blow the 2008-2009 crisis out of the water, economist Peter Schiff recently said. Schiff is famous for correctly predicting the housing bubble.

But unlike houses, or Internet stocks, this bubble is less obvious at first—even if the dangers are much more dramatic. Millions of Americans are unknowingly living it each day.

Record low mortgage rates: Thank the bubble. Current low tax environment: Thank the bubble. Somewhat functioning government: Thank the bubble. Only 8.2 percent unemployment—thank the bubble. In fact, this bubble is probably the only thing making possible your current standard of living (as high or low as it may be).

But know this: Standards of living are soon going to change all across America—and for the worse.

Analyst Marc Faber agrees that life in America is about to massively change. Known as Dr. Doom for his pessimistic outlook for the country, his latest forecast warned that it is inevitable that “somewhere down the line we will have massive wealth destruction that usually happens either through very high inflation or through social unrest or through war or credit market collapse.”

“Maybe all of it will happen.” Faber got the housing bubble right too.

What is this looming bubble that so worries sane market observers? Here is a hint. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Federal Reserve “purchased a stunning 61 percent of the total net treasury issuance” in 2011.

What this means is that 61 percent of the money the federal government “borrowed” to cover its spending did not come from citizens, big banks, or even our Chinese and Japanese creditors. It was money that did not even exist prior to the government spending it.

This is a huge, startling, and ominous development. The government needed money, so the Federal Reserve simply created it out of thin air and debited government bank accounts. Without this conjured money, the government can’t pay its bills. If you or I did what the Federal Reserve is doing, it would be called counterfeiting and we would be thrown in jail. The Fed does it and it is simply called “quantitative easing.” Either way, it is a form of stealing.

But it is actually worse than that.

According to the Journal, the Federal Reserve isn’t just subsidizing U.S. government borrowing and spending, but it is more dangerously masking the “rapidly widening gap between [the] Treasury’s need to borrow and a more limited willingness among market participants to supply [the] Treasury with credit.”

People are beginning to shun American debt!

In 2008, foreign nations lent America the equivalent of 6 percent of America’s gross domestic product. That number plunged to 1.9 percent in 2011. Similarly, private sector lending to America has fallen from 6 percent to 0.9 percent.

It is no wonder that at the end of March, leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa announced plans to create a brics bank to compete with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. These nations account for approximately 30 percent of the global economy. The purpose of the bank is to facilitate trade between the five nations in their own currencies, as opposed to the U.S. dollar. It is a step toward breaking their dependence on the dollar.

Perhaps this is why Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has refused to rule out more money printing even though he says the economy is out of recession. If the Fed were to stop printing money to “lend” to the government, the government might not be able to find enough willing lenders, at anywhere near acceptable borrowing costs, to finance its deficits.

The Fed is worried that if it stops printing money, the treasury market will melt down. If America can’t find enough lenders, interest rates will skyrocket. And the economy will seize up. If rates just return to the 5 percent range (as they were in 2007), almost half of all the money the government collects in taxes would go to paying just interest on the debt. Nobody even contemplates what will happen if rates return to the levels seen during the 1980s—because total financial meltdown would occur before they even got there. But interest rates have been there before—so what is stopping them from returning again?

This is what Schiff and Faber are worried about: The explosion of the biggest bubble in the history of the world—the U.S. government debt bubble.

And the resulting end of the financial system as we know it.

Consider America’s situation. It has never been more dependent on financial markets to pay its bills. Yet lenders are coming up short.

Since the 2008 crisis, America’s national debt has increased by $5.6 trillion. To put that into context, according to analyst Jim Quinn, it took all the years from 1789 until 2000 to accumulate the first $5.6 trillion of government debt.

Prior to the crisis, America’s yearly deficits never exceeded 4 percent of gdp. Now they exceed 9 percent. In the eight years preceding 2008, the deficits averaged $190 billion, according to Quinn. Since 2008, they have averaged $1.3 trillion.

And the debt is piling up. At current spending rates, America’s official debt will hit $20 trillion by 2015. That’s if things go well. The official debt doesn’t include the $60 trillion or so the government has already promised but not funded to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

America’s debt reckoning may be looming.

Analyst Grant Williams notes that in 2012, approximately $3 trillion, or 30 percent of U.S. debt, comes due. And America doesn’t have the money. He says it will be “the biggest refinancing in U.S. history.” But it may also be the beginnings of the end of the government debt bubble.

Either way, with government debt levels inflating rapidly, the risk to America’s economy is expanding. Each year America has to not only find more money to borrow, it also has to convince its lenders to relend the money they have already lent.

The government debt bubble is the single most important economic issue facing America today. It is about to affect virtually every aspect of your life, because America’s economic system is a debt-based system. When the debt bubble explodes, it will feel like a hydrogen bomb just went off in the economy. It will be the last bubble because it will wipe out everything. The world will need a whole new economic system.

Get prepared to greatly reduce your standard of living. You can do it on your own now while it is relatively easy, or it can be forced upon you when the government debt bubble explodes.

Israel, Italy Strengthen Ties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted his Italian counterpart in central Israel on Sunday. Netanyahu discussed Iran’s nuclear program and the Middle East peace process with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti at a meeting in Caesarea.

“We have just completed very fruitful discussions and I’m very glad to see you Prime Minister Monti in Israel, and I look forward to our bilateral governmental meeting,” said Netanyahu said at a joint press conference.

Many in the international community, including Israel, fear Iran will use its ability to make nuclear fuel to eventually develop atomic weapons. Iran claims it only wants to build reactors for civilian energy and medical research.

Regarding the Middle East peace process, Monti said that Italy supports giving the Palestinians their own sovereign state.

The Trumpet has long forecast that Iran’s bid for hegemony in the Middle East will ultimately be crushed by a European power. The European Union took a step in this direction in January when it imposed tough new economic sanctions against Iran. Rome has come out in support of these sanctions, which will come into effect in the coming months.

Just as significant is a growing relationship between Israel and Europe. With the U.S. losing influence in world affairs, Israel is being forced to look for a new protector. The Trumpet believes this protector will be the same European power that will eventually put a violent halt to Iran’s nuclear program. Continue to watch for Europe to take a stronger stand against Iran, and for Europe to make Israel its dependent.