Exponential Growth

Doug Low over at the OilDrum has an interesting piece on the Energy Crisis in South Africa. After looking at the principle of growth in South Africa, as well as the causes of the rolling blackouts and energy shortages scheduled to last to at least 2013, he concludes:

Finally, putting growth and sustainability into a global context, let’s look at China and India both of which are growing at a rate of about 10% per year. So, their economies are doubling every 7 years (70/10). Some might argue that this is growth off a low base, but each of these countries has a population of over a billion people, so absolutely their consumption is enormous, even if per capita it is less than ours right now. Both of them will in the next 7 years consume more than they have during their entire histories. Is it any wonder that most of the world’s steel, coal, cement and other critical resources are on ships heading east? China is currently experiencing both electricity and fuel shortages as it begins to experience the limits of its growth. As long as it keeps on its current growth path its energy problems will continue and so will the rest of the world’s. Exponential growth is assured to bring with it exponential resource depletion, the effects of which will look a lot like we are experiencing now. Continued exponential growth will ensure that the experience is long lasting. It will last until we understand that long-term sustainability and growth are mutually exclusive.

The consequences of exponential growth are simple and clear.