An Actuary’s Look at Our Predicament

April 25, 2007

Gail Tverberg is both a professional actuary and a frequent poster over at The Oil Drum. Having previously written up an analysis of the peak oil problem for the insurance industry, she now follows that up with an excellent article looking at the challenges that face us as we reach the limits of Earth’s ability to sustain the human population.

The article is pretty short but covers a lot of different topics including resource issues with soil, fresh water and the like. It’s good stuff and worth your time to read it if you haven’t already.

With more grim news coming out of Australia about the worsening drought down there (links to many stories about it here), we may get to see the effects of resource shortages on a first-world economy much sooner than most people anticipated. Australia is usually a food exporter, so the fact that farmers there may not be able to get enough of a crop to satisfy internal needs let alone exports could have major ramifications across the Pacific Rim.

People scoffed at “Limits to Growth” when it was first released, but as Ms. Tverberg points out, we may be hitting those limits soon, and the effects will be chaotic if not necessarily catastrophic.