This perfect storm of calamities…

This guest post is by David Round, lecturer in environmental law at the University of Canterbury. It first appeared in the Christchurch Press on March 18.

It was once a truth universally acknowledged that good times never last. But we now seem to consider ourselves immune from the laws of nature and history. Times have been good and getting better for most of our lifetimes. All but the very poorest of us enjoy comforts beyond our grandparents’ wildest imaginings. We cannot imagine anything but the good life.

But actions have consequences, and if even half the articles we read in this newspaper every day are actually true – and surely The Press does not lie – then chickens are rapidly coming home to roost. We face the end of cheap and abundant oil, on which our entire civilisation and way of life depends. Oil we cannot afford is, for most purposes, little different from no oil at all. No adequate substitute exists. How will we manage if we cannot even get to work in the morning, and bring the groceries from the supermarket, let alone send our goods to the other side of the world and bring large numbers of tourists here?

There is no doubt significant global climate change is happening. The “challenge” to climate change science recently whipped up by vested interests is only a quibble over a couple of footnotes. We will inevitably see more extreme weather events, crop failures, famine, economic collapse, mass population movements and war. The earth’s human population increases each year by some 90 million, all of them wanting not just life but a life as good as ours. As all of this happens, we are running out of the most basic resources; not just oil, but water, soil and fresh air.

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