This morning I learned a new expression. A fellow Web user who I met at StumbleUpon.com, with username DynoToAQrimp, explained his name to me (because I asked him - you know, I get curious about things). Here is the explanation that Dyno offered - and maybe you will get the point any moment now:
Dyno=dynamic which means 'energetic or forceful'. In rock climbing dynamic/dyno means a large energetic jump where all 4 limbs leave their starting positions and achieve a new height and position. So that's the first part. Dyno to a... and the final word 'qrimp' is actually 'crimp', which you may know to mean 'to pinch'. In climbing crimping is a certain position you get your hand in that allows a very strong grip on a hold that is generally very small with a lip on it to crimp on. That hold being called a crimp as well. So in all layman's terms: A big jump to a really small, hard handhold.
Isn't that where we find ourselves now? If you read all the analyses, it goes something like this:
We can cut back on fossil fuel use, but then we can't get enough food to markets, nor fertilize enough foods with the natural gas used to make fertilizer. We can burn coal, but we will release mercury and sulfur (as the quality of coal is getting rapidly worse and more contaminated), and of course burning coal releases greenhouse gases. And how can we make more plastics when parts of the ocean are full of them already (see Great Garbage Patch) and if making plastics requires more of the rapidly disappearing oil resource. Well, there are corn-based replacements for plastic, but then we give up farm food output that feeds hungry people, and the problem is the same as we have seen with consuming farm-grown foods for ethanol production.
We will run out of oil anyway in about 10 or 20 years, meaning it will be harder to find, more difficult to extract (expensive in both energy and dollars), and won't be available in quantities to meet the need we have today, let alone after 20 more years of growth.
We can make lots of solar panels and windmills, and maybe use nuclear energy for a while, but then the world population will continue to grow using whatever energy we generate. China and much other arable land will continue turning into a desert even faster due to erosion and over-farming, and there won't be enough food for over 1 billion Chinese, and for Indians and others in densely-populated nations.
Few people think we can replace all of today's fossil fuels with renewable sources in 10 or 20 years - but maybe we could if we start right away and make it a top priority.
And if we start cutting birth rates right away, eventually population will start to shrink, and if we concentrate on all-electric cars starting ASAP, and build hundreds of thousands of windmills and add many square miles of solar panels, we will have electricity for at least some people. We will convert to organic local farming methods as Cuba did over the last 20 years, we will disburse the people living in cities to community farming towns, and relocate those nations whose land is underwater (as a couple of island nations are already discussing, having lost several islands or surface area to the ocean – the mutliple-island nations of Tuvalu and Maldives).
In this carefully-arrived-at future that we can hope for, a giant new electric grid will feed power generated renewably by individuals and communities and by large solar-concentrator power plants and wind power plants, into a continent-wide grid that will meet more and more of the needs of that soon-to-be-shrinking world population. This metamorphosis would need to be repeated on each inhabited continent.
Soil throughout this process will be protected by planting trees in large areas, meaning that those areas can not be farmed; and more land will need to be fallow (unfarmed periodically) or rotated due to the scarcity of chemical fertilizers. We will need to purify some water from waste or salt water, since aquifer levels are already sinking, but we can use solar energy to do that. Eating meat will be a luxury since beef takes up so much space and so much energy input in order to grow it.
I think you see what the challenges are if we hope to have a "smooth landing" – some think it is already too late for a true smooth landing, but all would agree that we can and must try to cushion the fall. With a difficult preparation and jump into a new way of living, we may land relatively safely in the more demanding conditions of a more crowded, warmer, and less oil-rich world. May I now repeat the question: Is the world environment a dyno to a crimp?