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Letters to opinion-leaders

Email sent to Mr. Charles Collyns IMF, 5 May 2008

Subject: World Economic Outlook, beyond 2010

cc: Brad McDonald

Dear Mr Collyns.

Thanks again for your detailed presentation at the WTO this morning.

As to my question, I did not refer to climate change.

I asked whether we will face inflation or deflation after the onset of Peak Oil, that is the maximum of yearly oil extraction.

Peak Oil is predicted to happen any time soon, maybe this year, maybe next, maybe 2013. It does not really matter, it will happen. Last year even the IEA, the International Energy Agency, recognised that Peak Oil is on the horizon.

Declining oil flows will trigger a decline in industrial production, agricultural output and transportation. This will mean the start of a continued contraction of GDP, unstoppable because there is no replacement for oil and the choice between food and fuel is clear-cut.

As an engineer I can confirm that technology will not be able to recreate other non-renewable resources that are being depleted, such as potable water and top soil. Neither can it revive extinct species or cut-down old-growth forests, like in the Amazone, Africa and Borneo.

I agree that technology can reduce resource consumption to a certain extent. But it can never compensate for the effect of economic growth, which is a continued increase in the rate of resource depletion.

One should also consider that humanity has already overshot the planet's carrying capacity by far. Even without growth, the present 6.7 billion humans have a far too high pressure on the environment. We are too many and we consume too much.

Under these factual circumstances it seems wise, Mr Collyns, to reconsider growth policies and start to plan for a low-speed, low material throughput world, based on proximity agriculture and industrial activity. People will have to live where they work. Factories will have to run when the sun shines or when the wind blows to generate the electricity needed for our machinery.

This requires a major societal restruction effort, demechanisation and phasing out of many harmful activities, such private motorized transportation and tourism, which are not really necessary to cover the basic human needs of food and shelter.

And it requires an urgent wolrdwide drive to stop population growth and to reduce population levels that could be sustained by the lands.

I admit that this is a very sobering message but it meets scientific rigour and facts.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, last week in Geneva, called for more frugal life-styles, which also means less cars, less gadgets, i.e.less GDP ( ).

Remains to say that we will not be able to drink hope or to eat optimism. Nor can we apply future inventions today. Only reality can guide us towards a chance to survive when resources scarcities meet with the effects of climate change.

I thank you again for your presentation and I would be interested in receiving your comments.

With kind rregards ... Helmut Lubbers

Helmut Lubbers, BE MSocSc DipEcol
ecoglobe - ecology discovery foundation
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