New technologies and new ways to exploit the Earth’s natural resources mean that we can just about sustain a population of 7 billion. In fact oil and gas prices are set to fall as fracking technology unlocks shale gas and shale oil deposits and reserves are re-assessed. Gas prices in the US are now between an quarter and a third of European prices – giving the US a significant economic advantage for energy intensive industries, and some economists predict that global oil prices could halve by 2020. All good for the global economy – not so good for planet Earth. More oil, more gas, more coal means more greenhouse gases and More CO2. More CO2 means global warming and climate change, and less water, less food, less land. What’s more, who knows what the real environmental impacts of fracking and tar oil extraction will be – unwanted seismic activity (earthquakes to me and you), water pollution and fugitive emissions are all a problem, as are the use of chemicals and large volumes of water – a dwindling resources.
And that’s it really. Oil wins. The Earth loses. Humanity runs the risk of extinction. And that’s economics for you.