(NaturalNews) The era we are all witnessing in our world right now may one day be called the "era of collapse." As is now evident to anyone paying attention, humans are rapidly using up all the world's finite resources. Water aquifers are being pumped dry, rare earth minerals are being depleted through aggressive mining operations, and fossil fuels are being burned up far faster than they can be replenished.
The energy industry argues that they can always find more oil no matter how high the demand escalates, but this is a mathematical impossibility. As the Earth's population continues to explode, energy usage skyrockets with it, and the consumption of energy by human civilization has already vastly exceeded what fossil fuels can sustainably provide.
Why the food supply is built on cheap fossil fuels
What most people don't realize, however, is just how much the global food supply relies on cheap fossil fuels. The population explosion the world has experienced in the last century has been enabled almost entirely by cheap fossil fuels and the extraordinary amount of physical work they produce in an agricultural context.
Cheap fuel makes it affordable to run tractors, and tractors multiply the efforts of individuals, giving them the farming muscle of hundreds of laborers. Because of this leverage, fossil fuels caused an explosion in cheap food which immediately accelerated the population explosion that had already begun.
Around 7 calories of fossil fuels are currently required to produce just 1 calorie of food. This formula works well as long as fossil fuels are abundant and affordable, but that situation isn't going to last much longer. So-called "Peak Oil" has already been reached, and global oil production is steadily declining. Out of sheer desperation to keep production levels high, energy companies are turning to highly disruptive exploration techniques like fracking which use a cocktail of toxic chemicals and cause a huge increase in earthquakes.
All the really easy (and therefore cheap) oil has already been pumped out of the ground. Now the energy industry is spending more and more money and resources for every barrel of oil they can recover. Sooner or later, it will require more than 1 barrel's worth of energy to extract 1 barrel of oil from the Earth, at which point oil extraction becomes pointless.
As cheap oil comes to an end, cheap food will vanish
When cheap oil collapses, cheap food will no longer be available. The planting, harvesting, storage and transportation of food requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels under our current agricultural system. Cheap food doesn't just appear on grocery store shelves by magic, after all: there are countless engines and road miles involved along the way.
Because human beings are so utterly unwilling to plan for the future, they will use up the very last drops of oil while having no real plan for surviving in a post-oil economy. This will result in a crash rather than a "soft transition." The crash will see a sudden spike in oil costs which will be immediately reflected in skyrocketing food prices. This has already begun in its early stages, of course, as food inflation takes hold in North America and elsewhere.
As this energy crisis unfolds, it won't take long before food prices reach ten times their current level (1,000% price increases). This will of course result in a number of additional catastrophic problems:
1) Mass global starvation as families cannot afford to feed their children.
2) Huge drop in food demand as consumers limit their purchases to what they can afford. This will result in the bankruptcy of many food and farming operations as sales plummet. Food production costs due to unaffordable fuel will also put many farmers out of business.
3) The collapse of the restaurant industry and fast food companies as prepared food becomes too expensive for consumers to afford.
Mass starvation and hunger will lead to global revolution
As world history has shown, the masses will put up with almost any degree of dictatorial control as long as there's cheap food available. But the day that food becomes scarce, revolution will become imminent. Every nation is just 7 meals away from a revolution, the saying goes.
Starving masses, unable to understand the economics behind skyrocketing food prices, will simply blame their own governments. After all, they've been taught that governments solve all their problems and provide all things. So governments, just as has already happened in Venezuela, will slap price controls on basic food supplies. This will immediately and predictably result in massive, widespread shortages of those food items combined with an exploding underground black market for food.
Unfortunately, even revolts and revolutions can't solve the problem of disappearing fossil fuels, so the starvation will continue. From mass starvation comes mass disease, ultimately leading to the spread of infectious disease and a population collapse.
Survivors will find themselves living in a "low energy" economy
Survivors who make it through this difficult transition will find themselves living in a "low energy" economy. Most such survivors will be rural dwellers who already live with a degree of sustainability and self-reliance. Those who have the ability to produce some of their own food will be especially well off during the collapse.
Here's a picture of me with one of my dwarf goats. The lettuce is some early Romaine lettuce that I'm producing using some experimental techniques. Goats produce very rich animal dung that's also incredibly "clean" to handle compared to cow manure or chicken feces. Goats are the perfect animals for local food production because they turn grass and leaves into concentrated solar energy that can feed plants and produce food. That's why scenes like this one will become far more common in the post-oil economy.
When cheap oil collapses, centralized food production (modern industrialized farming) will also collapse. The lack of cheap fossil fuels means no one can carelessly expend fuel energy on mechanized farming or long-distance transportation. Nearly all food will become local food once again, just as it was before the 20th century.
On many farms, human labor and animal labor will replace fossil fuels. Expect to see an explosion of interest in farm labor animals such as draft horses or oxen. Solar power will also be used to augment physical labor, although solar provides a mere shadow of what fossil fuels offer in terms of fuel density and portability.
Why alternative energy sources cannot easily replace fossil fuels
Other alternative power sources such as wind and wave energy are simply not capable of replacing the fossil fuel economy... not by a long shot. Solar power is often talked about as a replacement for fossil fuels, but such delusions are mere pipe dreams. For starters, solar panels require rare earth minerals from China in order to be manufactured. Energy derived from solar panels cannot be easily stored or transported. And there are no electric farm tractors because the energy expenditure of tractors is very high and requires high-density fuels.
People who don't own tractors usually have no clue about this. They think tractors can be outfitted with wimpy Prius motors then let loose into the fields to conduct "electric farming." As an owner of a John Deere tractor, I can assure you that no electric vehicle motor and battery bank can replace the very large diesel-powered tractor engines that run our agricultural system today. Many of today's tractors have engines which produce over 200 horsepower. If you think an electric motor can drive the John Deere tractor shown below, you're living in Fantasyville.
This is where your food really comes from, and it doesn't run on Duracells:
Advantages of living in a low energy economy
One of the advantages of life in a low energy economy is that food production will once again become decentralized. Large-scale corporate farming will collapse, and it will be replaced by local food production, home gardening and food bartering.
The global population collapse will make acreage very affordable once again, allowing almost anyone who wants some land to be able to afford it. (They still need to put in the labor, however.)
All societies that survive will by definition see a return to an agrarian economy where a significant portion of the population is focused on food production. Today, only about 2% of the U.S. population is involved in food production. After the collapse of cheap fossil fuels, that number would be significantly higher; possibly as high as 20%.
Home food production will make very good economic sense under these circumstances. Growing your own food will be a smart money-saving strategy for many families, and we will see the rapid proliferation of home gardening, canning, food preservation, composting, seed saving, backyard chickens and other small-scale farming activities. The Amish will be honored for their simple -- yet sustainable -- way of life.
This will, of course, help return human civilization to health and sanity as people move away from the factory-produced toxic foods that dominate our world today. A world without industrialized farming is also a world without GMOs, glyphosate and predatory seed monopolists.
Gardening is good for public health. It puts people in touch with the soil, it allows people to spend time in nature with the benefits of sunlight, and it grows food that's more nutritious and far less toxic than factory-made processed foods. While modern-day food and agricultural practices are driving human beings insane, an agrarian economy will help restore sanity and health to the survivors of the collapse.
Watch this video to learn more
The following video animation explains all this in more detail:
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.