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Sometime, somewhere, humanity should hit a techno-economic tipping point, after which all the basics of life like food, shelter, transport, and medical care would logically become dramatically easier and cheaper to obtain.
It's also possible for those in power to hide or obscure this tipping point, by diverting the surpluses (in which all humanity should share) into the pockets of just a few.
At least, they could do this until the rest of us rose up to stop them.
Have we already reached and passed the tipping point? Are we being duped by those currently in power into allowing the world's growing surpluses to go into their pockets, instead of immeasurably improving the lives of us all?
The universe contains far more raw resources of material, real estate, and energy than a million billions of civilizations like ours could ever consume or destroy, even in their wildest and most outrageous dreams.
So in absolute terms, there's no such thing as scarcity of raw materials, land, or energy. There's more out there than we could ever use-- period. Enough to make every human being who ever lived, or ever will live, staggeringly wealthy, no matter how profligate they might be.
Until we devise a cost-effective means to Earth-orbit, it appears we are all effectively trapped on Earth, dependent solely upon its own raw resources, and whatever energies we might also harvest from the Sun, directly and indirectly. And to make matters worse, our numbers are multiplying. So a finite amount of energy and raw materials must be shared among an ever growing number of people. YIKES! This message is pounded into us day after day from virtually all sides. Mostly it's used to justify us being charged ever more, for an ever wider array of products and services. Even as many of those products and services deliver ever less satisfaction or actual value to our lives.
Just one example is our food, which has been steadily losing nutritive value ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And thereby contributed to our ever greater frailty in terms of infections, damages from environmental toxins, and genetically derived ailments1.
To those of us educated in the sciences, this state of affairs doesn't make any sense-- unless the system humanity wants civilization to operate under is one where individual human life possesses negligible value, and all that counts is how very few gargantuan personal fortunes may be piled up in the world, by way of impoverishing and killing hundreds of millions.
Is our situation really that grim? That we must pay ever higher prices (a.k.a. working harder and longer hours) for ever less happiness and joy? And also grow ever sicker and more incapacitated over time?
Or is it all a scam? Are giant corporations and many politicians colluding at shaving ever more value from products and services and charging us more for what's left, simply because they can?
It appears they are.
For we are literally surrounded by vast surpluses in all the raw resources those people claim to be scarce. Far more than the human race could use up or consume in a hundred thousand years-- or even a million.
But at the moment only maybe a few dozen families on the face of the Earth can know and partake of that unimaginable fount of wealth, while the rest of us languish in comparative poverty, oblivious to the truth3.
And what is that truth?
That there is no true shortage of raw materials, living space, or energy on Earth; no matter how many of us there are.
And why do so many talking heads on TV see more people as a bad thing, or liability, or debit in regards to resources, anyway? People are a good thing! People are intelligent life! The most advanced known lifeforms in the universe!
People are able to innovate-- even invent all new resources, which never existed before, or cannot exist naturally!
And people can make virtually any raw resources go ever further, efficiency-wise! And often recycle those resources endlessly, so that once a sufficient supply is on-hand to start with, you need never, ever run out!
And note that recycling detail. For that all by itself may apply to a huge chunk of Earth's resources and how we use them. Thereby making that chunk itself effectively inexhaustible.
And right there you take off the 'shortages' table a huge number of items4 .
Now let's get back to people being a net plus rather than a net negative...
Or why the dream of conservative commentators of an Earth with a minimal-- maybe zero-- human population (after the second coming, perhaps?) is a bad thing5.
Sure, in order to definitely be a net plus to civilization, the average person needs to be healthy, educated, capable, and strongly motivated to materially contribute to the advancement of themselves and others. Once that is so, that person must definitely be rated as an asset rather than a liability.
But why then do so many media pundits today consider all those to be bad things? The need for society to help get children to that state of being, and then keep them that way as adults?
After all, average living standards and individual productivity in virtually all human endeavor rose steadily everywhere after public education and basic public health measures were instituted, beginning around the same time as the start of the industrial revolution6.
Plain old logic would suggest that further improvements or expansions of the existing resources supporting education and health would yield even more benefits for us all.
And yet many American conservatives say it's a waste to replace ignorance with knowledge; illness and injury with health. At least with public funds. Instead, conservatives believe, only those already flush with cash should receive such benefits. By way of private schools and private hospitalizations7.
Likewise, legalizing collective bargaining by employees paved the way for safer workplaces, and both higher wages and higher business profits 8. Such measures also gave individuals greater hope for a better life through work, and therefore greater motivation to contribute to society in order to better their own lot.
But today many pundits in the employ of that few dozen wealthy families or their agents do everything they can to disparage things like public education, just and protected pension systems, universal healthcare, government regulation of workplace safety and industrial pollutants, and collective bargaining: the very things which brought about perhaps the greatest advancements worldwide over the past century or two, for everyone-- including the wealthy themselves!
So increasingly our media pundits appear to be spouting crazed nonsense-- and going to ever greater lengths to push short-term, illogical, non-thinking behavior on the part of the masses9.
Apparently they're hoping to keep everyone sufficiently distracted and confused so that we don't notice how the world's mounting surpluses are being increasingly commandeered by that small number of families at the top, rather than being utilized for the betterment of all mankind.
Too bad for them I'm here to clear that all up!
Now on to those surpluses themselves: the very things those folks do NOT want you to be aware of. For after all, you'd definitely want your share, if you were!
But so long as you remain ignorant, you won't insist upon getting what's rightfully yours.
Our situation's far richer than the corporations and the media outlets and politicians in their pockets want you to think. Because it could take us tens of thousands of years to figure out ways to make even a dent consumption-wise in the resources available from our planet and its share of solar output.
And that's if we waste those resources with all our might and intellect.
On the other hand, if we actually make reasonable efforts to use those supplies efficiently, the usefulness of the totals available to us will grow exponentially! Egads!
Why? Because there's fantastic, mind-numbingly vast treasures hidden away in the technical details of the raw materials and energies available from our world and its share of sunlight. Details mainly only small numbers of people are aware of today.
Let's take real estate first.
Is there a shortage of real estate on Earth? Especially in the face of a fast growing population?
The simple answer is no, to both questions.
There's raw land in abundance available on Earth-- far more than we can occupy. Even at three times our present numbers, and if we insisted upon only using the land in a two dimensional fashion (outlawing all multi-story buildings or subterranean dwellings).
Of course, there's unlikely to be three times (or even twice) today's number of human beings in our lifetime-- or maybe ever-- for several reasons10.
But note the mention of dimensionality constraints above. Most nations have no such bans on multi-level construction, because it's an easy way to multiply real estate: build new levels above or below a particular plot of land. Even the ancients thousands of years ago knew and used this technique.
Adding one level to an existing plot of land effectively doubles the living space it can provide. Adding nine levels multiplies the living space to ten times the initial volume. And so on.
Such multiplication of living space is only limited by our technological expertise. The more we know, the easier, cheaper, and faster we can multiply our existing living spaces. Even if you assumed our technologies were to 'freeze' where they are this very moment, it would still take us thousands of years to max out their potential in multiplying the living space all over the planet. Heck: just with what we know today about construction, we could likely create more than enough comfortable space to house a hundred times today's human population-- and still have lots of open land left over.
And that's just for dry ground dwellings. 70% of the Earth's surface is water. And the further our technology advances, the easier and cheaper and faster it gets for us to build living quarters there, too. And multi-story as well. Much like on land-- only in some ways better. From many stories above sea level like today's cruise ships, all the way to and including the very sea bottom itself-- and then deeper still. To below the sea floor. You see? There's tons of living space available! And more and more of it is coming into our technological reach each and every day.
Then there's the air above.
For sooner or later people will be living there, too. In airborne homes which never need to touch down anywhere. And that trend will eventually take people all the way to the edge of space and beyond (where, of course, the potential living space is for all practical purposes infinite)11.
OK, you might say. So there's really no shortage of living space in our past, present, or future. So what about the shortage of fresh, clean water?
There too we find more propaganda and misleading marketing than truth.
The ultimate source of fresh water is the oceans, of course. There's more water there than we could ever use. The main problem with it is its salt.
There are do-it-yourself methods for converting salt water to fresh. But those are mostly suitable for small groups, who also live on or near the sea12.
Industrial scale desalination is at present an energy-intensive operation. That could change any time with a technological breakthrough. But even if we ignore that and assume it'll always be costly power-wise, that just brings us to our next resource on the list: energy. For with sufficient low cost energy, almost anything becomes possible-- even many of our very wildest dreams.
But everybody tells us energy is in short supply. And our monthly power bills seem to confirm that. They also go on to warn that our energy bills will only increase as time goes by. Oh no!13
But it's all a crock! Those claims of energy shortages. Our energy bills will only continue to go up if we let the thieves continue to con us about the situation!
Let's take crude oil for an example.
Perhaps the most widely known (but somewhat erroneous) energy detail among the masses is that the Earth's hydrocarbon stores are overwhelmingly solar power-derived energy, stored up over the past eons Earth has harbored life upon its surface and undersea. That most of today's energy supplies like coal and oil and natural gas consist of the remains of those past life forms.
This popular notion is only partially true, at best. For yes, we're actually able to tap solar energy from the past, as well as the present, in a variety of ways.
However, if you dig deeper, you find much of those hydrocarbon energy reserves may not be related to solar radiation emitted since our system's formation-- or from past life forms-- at all. For very similar hydrocarbon resources can be found on many worlds in our solar system, according to scientific studies and space probes. Worlds which seem to be utterly devoid of any type of life we'd recognize, in both the present and the past.
So it appears much-- perhaps the vast majority-- of the hydrocarbons in our solar system are leftovers from the original formation of the planets-- not liquefied or vaporized remnants of primordial plant and animal decay.14
Likewise seems to be the case with various radioactive elements, which we like to use for powering nuclear reactions. That is, materials like uranium and hydrocarbons just clumped together in space with more common rocks and other debris, to form our worlds. And so we end up today with a multitude of such raw materials and energy sources embedded in our planet.
But still that's not all.
For the existence of all those hydrocarbon deposits on Earth's lifeless or virtually lifeless sibling worlds implies that our own hydrocarbon reservoirs might gradually replenish themselves from stores still deeper in the crust, over time. Or that we simply need to drill deeper as existing pockets run dry.
But what if all those much, much larger worlds filled to overflowing with hydrocarbons in our solar system are misleading us? What if Earth for some reason is different from those other hydrocarbon-rich planets, and we really are close to running out of stuff like crude oil and natural gas in our lands?
This isn't likely-- but let's pretend, shall we?
Big whoop. We don't need it anyway. There's a whole other stash of similar stuff on the ocean bottoms and in permafrost worldwide. In the form of methane hydrates-- also called clathrates.15
Or, we could just forget about drilling for oil or dredging up clathrates entirely-- and simply grow more such fuels ourselves-- letting certain natural forces extract from sources like shale energy supplies we'd otherwise be locked out of.16
But there's more. Far more. It turns out that crude oil and its hydrocarbon relatives are outright wimps so far as the Earth's true energy reserves are concerned.
Geothermal is a fantastic energy source we've barely even touched upon so far. And may offer us a quarter million years worth of our present energy needs!17
And that's just the geothermal we can tap with today's technology! With a bit more progress and experience, we can go deeper, to get lots more energy from the inner Earth than today's geothermal methods are capable of.
So there's probably enough geothermal energy available in the Earth to give us all the power we'd ever want, without any help from solar or oil and other sources at all. For a million years. Or even ten million.
But we enjoy still more options than this. Such as nuclear plants. And we can even build nuclear plants which produce more fuel than they consume, to enable still more nuclear plants, forever (they're called breeder reactors).
But breeder reactors do have a downside. For the new fuel they produce also makes for great nuclear weapons material. And some of the most toxic stuff known to man too, if let loose into the environment.
There's also the plain old operating safety issue for nuclear fission plants. It appears from past experience that private enterprise is a poor choice for designing, building, maintaining, and running very complicated (and potentially disasterously dangerous) things like nuclear fission power plants. For all too often they'll put profits ahead of prudent safety measures (think Three Mile Island).
Unfortunately, governments seem to suffer similar problems with such plants. At least governments of nations like the defunct USSR, prone to secrecy and censorship and corrupt accounting practices (remember Chernobyl?)
And in recent decades the government of the USA has proven itself to be at least as bad as the old USSR in terms of secrecy and corrupt accounting practices. And so may be unfit to run (or license to anyone else) the operation of such facilities.
Liabilities like rogue nuclear weapons created from the plutonium produced by breeder reactors could be well limited by a comprehensive worldwide nuclear disarmament by all, and the far more stringent controls on nuclear material trafficking that would allow.
But that'd still leave us with the apparent incompetence of both private and public agencies to manage such industries. Unless perhaps top-rated nuclear powers like France circa 2007 might present us with a functional model for such oversight and investment we could emulate26.
But beyond all that is nuclear fusion. Much safer and cleaner than the older technologies. And in theory, its main fuel is water.
Yikes! Was that a typo? No.
Basically nuclear fusion recreates a little piece of our sun in a special container. After which we extract energy from it as we like.
Potentially limitless energy.
The main problem with fusion reactors is we haven't invented them yet. We're trying! We're sure they'll work, just as our sun works. We even know how to start such a fire. We just don't know how to keep it going yet.
It's basically the rediscovery of fire, all over again. Hopefully the process will go quicker this time around, than the couple million years it required for us to turn plain old every day fire into a reliable tool for civilization27.
But right now it appears we might solve our near term energy problems in one of several other ways, rather than fusion.
So! Our list of presently viable energy sources described up to now includes crude oil, coal, natural gas, geothermal, and nuclear.
But all that's still just a tiny sampling of what's available.
For there's also the daily solar radiation bath Earth receives from the Sun. Which provides the light and heat ultimately responsible for the energy options of hydroelectric (dams and coastal tidal generators), wind (turbines, and tethered kites and balloons), as well as direct solar lighting and heating, and electricity generation.
So sure, we might face a fresh water shortage at some point until we can desalinate sufficient ocean water.
But we're fast advancing technology-wise on virtually all these different energy fronts (but for fusion). So it seems unlikely we'll ever involuntarily suffer a true, long-lived global calamity, water-wise. Or energy-wise.
No, if such an unwanted or accidental calamity comes about, it'll spring from some other source, such as war, religious extremism, or irreparable environmental damage.
Please note my careful insertion of the words involuntarily, unwanted, and accidental above. I had to include those caveats because some few among us not only wish for such disasters, but actually work tirelessly to bring them about.
And some of the folks I refer to here are NOT mere rag-wearing terrorists, cowering in remote mountain caves, but wealthy and powerful titans of industry, with numerous high ranking politicians in their pockets. Yes: some of the richest and most powerful among us crave the excitement of millions-- even billions!-- being in imminent peril on the evening news on a daily basis.
How else do you explain obviously deranged chunks of history like the two official world wars, the Cold War, and America's refusal to stand down from a war-based economy since the dissolution of the USSR18?
But for the moment, let us return to less disturbing facts of life.
Besides all the energy issues already discussed, there's also the tantalyzing possibility we could soon dispense with petroleum altogether as a fuel source for our most important machines (like automobiles), via hydrogen.
How so? By splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen to create fuel, then burning the combination like gasoline to power our vehicles.
The exhaust of such combustion is pure water.
So basically if we get hydrogen-powered cars, homes, and industries going, we might also get all the fresh water we can drink as a by-product. Even without any of the other energy breakthroughs described here(!)
And (in theory) once everyone had their own hydrogen-powered auto and home-- plus their initial water supply-- the need to create more fresh water anywhere would virtually disappear. For we could simply recycle the same water indefinitely through both our guts and our homes and cars.
Just think of it: cars which required no gasoline-- ever. Homes which required no connection to an industry power grid-- except to possibly sell surplus power into it!
Your home might actually pay you to own it!19
All of which might make wholesale ocean desalination itself moot. While at the same time expanding our energy options. AND making for cleaner air.
For a hydrogen-based economy to replace the current oil-based one, the required fuel would be water-- and a means to separate it into hydrogen and oxygen in the first place.
The old-fashioned technological way is called electrolysis. Where basically you consume electricity to separate the elements.
Up to now the cost of electrolysis has been prohibitive, in so far as using it to create a hydrogen economy.
But it may be we only need to build up a suitable infrastructure to make it viable.
After all, we're already simply ignoring huge amounts of potential electricity which could be put to the task of both small and large scale electrolysis, the world over.
Virtually anywhere you look on the planet, there exist vast untapped resources of energy which could be splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen for us this very moment-- and never, ever stop (though at some point we might have so much supply and such an effective recycling system, we'd voluntarily turn off the generators).
The sunlight striking the average home roof could produce enough hydrogen annually to make a substantial contribution to the energy budget required for that home and/or its related automobile(s) to function20.
Likewise, the rain run off of the average home roof could power small hydroelectric devices to add still more hydrogen to the family supply21.
And that's completely ignoring the wind power potential in many places.
Most every windy place on Earth is today NOT being used at all for its hydrogen-generating potential.
How much raw power are we talking here, wind-wise? At least around 72 terawatts. Or nearly FIVE TIMES the total energy consumed by mankind in 2004. And that's just what's blowing in the wind, folks!22
So here we are sitting atop a massive resource dump of materials and energy, which basically gets bigger every day-- not smaller (due to daily sunlight, a constant shower of raw materials from space, and our own every growing ingenuity at using it all).
For, as anyone who's ever taken a basic physics class should know, energy can neither be absolutely created or destroyed. And matter is just 'frozen' energy.
If we do our utter damnedest to waste everything we can, then sure, we can convert huge gobs of our energy and materials into basically useless inert ash and waste heat, thereby converting our worldly treasure into a planet-sized garbage heap.
But even with the help of the universe's law of entropy, we'd be hard-pressed to get very far in our world trashing project any time soon. Because we're simply still too insignificant a force compared to the riches surrounding us. We're much like a single ant hill atop a golden Mount Everest, today.
No, the most we could do quick is drive ourselves and all other life planet-wide (but for germs and insects) to extinction. But the bountiful Mother Earth would barely notice the change. And even replace us and all we'd killed with new life forms in maybe another 30 million years or so (that appears to be the usual time Earth requires to bounce back from the worst mass extinctions, according to the fossil record).
So we are literally immersed in an embarrassment of riches, materials and energy-wise.
Mostly it's because we've allowed political leaders decade after decade to talk us into diverting ever more of our monies away from life support and improvement, to the very opposite: ever more advanced ways to destroy and worsen life on our planet, instead.23
And apparently we can't even wholly blame those leaders: for they were only doing the bidding of the money behind their thrones. The rich and powerful who pull their strings, and usually stay out of the spotlight themselves.
It seems those truly in charge act much like spoiled little boys: they think everything should belong to them, and everyone else should blindly obey their wishes.
But above all, everyone must play along with their games of war. Forever. Military war. Political war. Business war. Drug war. Terror war. And whatever new kind of war game they might come up with down the road.
Besides the pleasure they derive from seeing the rest of us suffer from all these wars of different sorts, all this helps them keep us under their thumb, too. For we are basically kept dazed and confused by the constant drum beat of war on all sides, regarding all things. So dazed and confused, that we often don't even notice as our deceivers steal us blind in regard to our present and future.
Am I talking a conspiracy here? Or class warfare? Please! The handful of filthy rich bastards knowingly doing all this from the top down are so few in number that I don't think they'd fit the definition of a grand conspiracy. And although you might want to brand various media pundits as conspirators, most courts would probably end up just saying they were doing their jobs: spouting the claptrap they were paid to spout.
Plus, the term 'class warfare' is a joke! There is no such war, and there never has been! At least not yet. The rich have been running things pretty much continuously all your life and mine. And all of history and pre-history before that24.Do we call it warfare when a child burns ants alive with a magnifying glass? Of course not! Because the ants can't retaliate in any meaningful way. The same has always been true of us and our rich overlords too-- at least up to now.
Not even access to existing technology, in some cases: but access to the knowledge (and raw resources) themselves.
For if we were to become aware of the truth, we would demand change-- and get it. And turn the bad guys' world upside down25.