I came across this article from the Smithsonian today and it did make me do a slight double-take. I’m familiar with the concept of ‘peak’ commodities – the idea that on a finite planet, there’s got to be a limit to how much of any one item you can produce. Peak Oil, for example, is the (commonsense) idea that, given a finite resource that only regenerates over billions of years and yet gets pumped out at amazing volumes, sooner or later the world will have reached its limit on the amount of oil you can produce per day. Depending on how you define “oil”, that peak is generally accepted to have come and gone – 2005, in fact, was the point in time when the oil companies were producing their maimum output of oil-barrels-per-day. Since then the definitions have been stretched a bit to include oil-equivalents (condensates from natural gas, tar boiled into something that flows, etc) but natural crude oil is on the decline. Slowly, but still going down.
Peak Water is a concerning idea for anyone in water-short areas (not most of the UK, at the moment!) as sooner or later you have to face the fact that there’s only so much potable water to go down an ever-increasing number of throats.
But Peak Chicken? That’s a new one on me. Still, the idea is as valid as any of the other ‘peaks’ – sooner or later, you can’t grow any more chickens per day. Here’s a few other ‘peaks’ from the article:
peak corn 1985
peak rice 1988
peak poultry eggs 1993
peak milk and peak wheat both in 2004
peak cassava and peak chicken 2006
peak soy 2009.
Unfortunately, while there seem to be many things we can’t produce in greater quantities, Peak Humans isn’t expected before at least the middle of the century. Simple commonsense suggests that if there’s no more to go round but more people expecting a share, it’s not going to end nicely. All the more reason to try and secure your food supplies while you still can!