What is wealth? Wealth is surplus. The wealth of the world is diminishing. The wealth of the world, so far, is its natural resources. At one time there was a surplus of natural resources for the people who lived on the planet. Now there are too many people for the resources that are left. Even the renewable resources (the sun and its result, wind) are in short supply because they need the finite resources to access them. Agriculture is limited by the need of finite resources to make it abundant.

What we have is the diminishing of the food for economic growth. With heightened technology we may be able to ration the resources and spread them out thinner and make them last longer. But they are finite and as they become more rare they become more expensive to produce. The days of cheap resources are over.The world as we have known it will never return. The world economy will contract.

The problem of population will not go away. A sustainable economy and a sustainable condition on the planet is probably only possible for about two billion or less. That will be achieved in a variety of ways and over periods of time yet to be determined.

These are conditions that beg for global attention but human beings have not been able to devise ways of addressing conditions on a global scale. Long range planning and thinking seems to be beyond the capability of the majority of human beings. The health of the environment itself has been disregarded by short term decisions. Now the consequences have become catastrophic. The best minds and research have determined that there is irreversible damage.

What can be done?

In the long run population (the driver) may decline with the drop in human fertility, world wide. One way or another the population must be reduced if humanity is going to survive. The stresses of the reduction, no matter how benign, will be severe. The people of the wealthy nations will have to simplify their way of life and live at a less consumptive level. That will be difficult but inevitable. New economic and governmental systems will have to be created to cope with the new conditions.

Are human beings capable of bringing this off and then continue to survive? Future generations will decide.

This is a finite planet with finite resources and too many people.

The world is Easter Island, writ large. People are still living there now but there just aren’t very many of them.

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