#79 wondering what will happen when the world’s resources become scarce

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The global scarcity of vital resources combined with the emerging effects of climate change has the potential to unleash a tidal wave of civil unrest and conflict between nations.

The inevitable wave of refugees and the resulting backlash from communities in resource rich countries is likely to eclipse current anti-immigration sentiment and will accentuate the current trend of electing right-wing governments who promise to defend our borders against the unwanted at all cost.

The production of oil, a finite resource, will inevitably decline with alternative sources of energy unable to fulfill an ever-increasing demand of an increasing, energy hungry global population.

Even if renewable energy was able to replace gossip fuels it wouldn’t be able to do so for long. This is because of the scarcity of rare metals used in the production of renewable technologies. In the dystopian future of WHEN THE WORLD RUNS DRY there is very little in the way of renewable technologies because of the inability to find the materials to build or repair these technologies.

Lack of freshwater could soon lead to conflicts between or within nations and there are already those who view the Syrian conflict as an example of a conflict fueled by water shortage.

Earth has lost a third of its arable land over the last 40 years and the need to feed increasing populations will excert increasing pressure on countries needing more arable land than they currently possess. For many years there have been fears of Chinese land grabs, most notably in Africa.  The most recent Chinese land grab scare has been in France.

The important thing to remember is that absolute scarcity does not need to be on the horizon, a simple disruption of supply is enough to cause conflict. In the recent truck drivers strike in Brazil, day one saw queues at petrol stations and within 24 hours people were cyphoning fuel out of each other’s tanks. Society is covered in only a very thin film of civility.

Mass extinction is likely to result in shortages of certain foods and as demand exceeds supply, societies will experience shortages of a range of products.

The International Energy Agency claims that the demand for oil in 2035 can only be met by supplies yet to be ‘found’ or ‘developed’. However, other analysts feel this target will never be reached as a result of environmental opposition,  corruption and conflicts, leaving the world with a shortage of supply.

In his book Constant Battles, Steven LeBlanc, director of collections for Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, notes that many ancient civilizations experienced higher levels of warfare when faced with resource shortages brought about by population growth, crop failures or persistent drought. Jared Diamond, author of the bestseller Collapse, has detected a similar pattern in Mayan civilization and the Anasazi culture of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon. More recently, concern over adequate food for the home population was a significant factor in Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and Germany’s invasions of Poland in 1939 and the Soviet Union in 1941, according to Lizzie Collingham, author of The Taste of War.

My own book, When The Well Runs Dry, looks at what life in a resource scarce society might look like and what challenges the occupants might face. I would be interested to hear your opinions and have set up a Facebook Group to discuss the possibilities explored in the book. I hope to see you there.

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About M J Dees

M J Dees lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil with his wife, daughter and two cats. He has written three novels, Living with Saci, The Astonishing Anniversaries of James and David, Part One, and When The Well Runs Dry. He is currently editing the fourth and writing the fifth. You can sign up for more information on his book launches at http://eepurl.com/cTnAD5 and receive a free copy of Living With Saci.
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