Egypt – what it means for us

There are a lot more people in Egypt, and they’ve been raiding the resources of the place for a lot longer. Until the Aswan High dam, they had annual floodings to fertilise the Nile delta, and most of them live/lived there. It was more subsistence, slower-paced.

Then they did what the planet is doing, what every exponentially-growing species does – it outran its resources. Egypt went from oil exporter to oil importer, food exporter to food importer, and what do you get eventually but debt?

So, they hit the wall. This isn’t about politics, the army, economics, religion, or anything else. Sure, there are rip-off merchants in the system, there are everywhere, but, at the end of the day (sorry about the phrase – not) it’s about resource depletion/scarcity, and over-demand. It’s all tipping fairly quickly now, as you’d expect. That’s what you get with graphs going different ways – a rapid divergence.

There is no way out now – too many people, too few resource options, one by one and rapidly, these States – for Egypt, read Haiti, Pakistan, India (yes, India) most small island states, Iraq, Iran, just about any increasingly-desertified State, just about everywhere.

Oddly enough, NZ is one of the best placed. One of the least population-to-resources ratios, one of the least trashed/raped, one of the best-watered…..    Watch thou for the intruder (with apologies to The Chrysalids) whether it be a buy-up or a take-over. We are going to look mighty inviting to a mighty lot of people mighty soon.

Here’s a few numbers from Chris Martenson’s take on it:

The relentless math:

Population 1960:  27.8 million
Population 2008:  81.7 million
Current population growth rate: 2% per annum (a 35-year doubling rate)
Population in 2046 after another doubling:  164 million

Rainfall average over whole country:  ~ 2 inches per year
Highest rainfall region:  Alexandria, 7.9 inches per year
Arable land (almost entirely in the Nile Valley):  3%
Arable land per capita:  0.04 Ha (400 m2)
Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha
Food imports: 40% of requirements
Grain imports: 60% of requirements

Net oil exports: Began falling in 1997, went negative in 2007
Oil production peaked in 1996
Cost of oil rising steeply
Cost of oil and food tightly linked

And his comment:

The future of Egypt will be shaped by these few biophysical facts — a relentless form of math that is hardly unique to Egypt, by the way — and it matters very little who is in power. Given the choice, I would not want to live there, nor in any other country that has fostered or permitted such reckless population growth beyond what the country itself can sustain.

See his full blurb (it’s a goodie) here:

So we see another tree fall in the forest. I wonder who heard? Hillary Clinton, seems like. Given the historical proximity to Al Gore, not surprising. I wonder whether it makes its way to the US military – I know Peak Oil has, but what about ‘survival on the planet as we reduce from 9 to 3 billion, then to one………… The interesting thing is that a lot of folk who think they have bought resilience, via investments, finance, rentals etc, are going to be a bit shocked. Waving a share certificate (or a title-deed) in the face of a hungry, desperate mob, ain’t likely to cut much mustard.Don’t think there’s much nutrient in them either, fibre perhaps, but not much calorific value.

Reminds one of an old op/ed of mine:

Don’t know if the Border Collie would appreciate having his shin-bone gnawed on , though….

The old Club of Rome, Donella Meadows et al, boy they had it right. It’s all looking like that old graph, just about to the year. It was rough enough to qualify as heiroglyphics too:

Note the second graph – with ‘you are here 1999’ at the top. Take 10 minutes. Think. Hard. There goes Egypt – there goes all of us. Is there a way out? Yep. Limit reproduction, probably one-to-a-couple (sorry, that’s it, choose carefully) indulge in a massive powerdown, stop fiat money, define sustainability, penalise those who impact it……

Not gonna happen. Not even here, where we have wriggle-room. Can’t see it in the struggling-mass corners of the world. All pyramid schemes end thus.

One Response

  1. Population control is the only way to get through this. Unfortunately the subject is nigh on taboo. Societies that have managed population control and successfully managed their finite resources in the past were not democracies.

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