New NPG Paper Finds Current U.S. Economic and Ecological Practices Unsustainable

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Expert warns if fiscal imprudence and resource depletion continue, we face a grim future.

Unfortunately, a stay of execution is not the same as a pardon; and Nature doesn't grant pardons.

For more than two centuries, the United States and the rest of the industrialized world have taken for granted the abundance and affordability of the high quality non-renewable natural resources (NNRs) – minerals, metals, and fossil fuels – vital to maintaining and expanding their high-consumption industrial societies.

Those days are now vanishing according to ecologist and resource economist Chris Clugston, who since 2006 has meticulously researched the sources, costs, and availability of NNRs. In his new NPG Forum paper "Geonomics 101," which will be released on September 29th, Clugston names a new field to analyze U.S. economic and ecological practices. He explains: “At present, no branch of science focuses specifically on our industrial lifestyle paradigm and how it is enabled. …Regrettably… we develop flawed perceptions, which lead to flawed conclusions, prescriptions, and actions. Geonomics fills the void.”

An insightful follow-up to his book "Scarcity – Humanity’s Final Chapter?", Clugston’s new NPG Forum paper finds: “We are pulling out all the stops – engaging in both unsustainable economic behavior and unsustainable ecological behavior – to perpetuate our industrial lifestyle paradigm. …We have been able to buy a temporary reprieve from generally diminishing global prosperity.” However, he warns: “Unfortunately, a stay of execution is not the same as a pardon; and Nature doesn’t grant pardons.”

While world leaders seek economic or technological remedies for faltering growth, Clugston stresses: “As a species, we will live increasingly beyond our means economically in order to live increasingly beyond our means ecologically, until we can no longer do so. …The probability that we will exploit sufficient high-quality/low-cost NNRs to reverse our declining global prosperity trajectory is infinitesimal – given that we have been unable to do so during the past 50 years, despite our extraordinary ingenuity, and given that our global NNR requirements remain enormous and increasing in almost all cases.”    

NPG President Don Mann has strong praise for the new work, stating: “Clugston expertly highlights our present reality – NNRs are scattered throughout the earth’s crust, but concentrated deposits that are economically viable for extraction are rare. Most of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Those known NNR deposits remaining require increasingly difficult and costly extraction methods.” Mann added: “NPG has long held that as the U.S. population continues to grow, we are only increasing our demand of these precious resources.”

Clugston’s paper closes by stating: “…Regrettably, the more vigorously we strive to perpetuate our unsustainable industrialized way of life through ever-increasing NNR utilization, the more quickly and thoroughly we will deplete Earth’s remaining… reserves – thereby hastening and exacerbating our global societal collapse.” NPG President Don Mann added: “Clugston’s grim conclusion will become fact soon enough, if we remain on our present course. We must act now to reduce U.S. population to a much smaller, truly sustainable size – so that we may preserve both our environment and economy for future generations.”


Founded in 1972, NPG is a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to educating the American public and political leaders regarding the damaging effects of population growth. We believe that our nation is already vastly overpopulated in terms of the long-range carrying capacity of its resources and environment. NPG advocates the adoption of its Proposed National Population Policy, with the goal of eventually stabilizing U.S. population at a sustainable level – far lower than today’s. We do not simply identify the problems – we propose solutions. For more information, visit our website at

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Craig Lewis

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Negative Population Growth
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