In less than a century the welfare society has depleted many of the earth’s natural resources. If a greater percentage of the global population is going to enjoy the benefits of a welfare society, earth’s resources will either become exhausted or production cannot cope with the demand.
A specific threat is that of the looming oil shortage. Less oil fields are being taken into exploitation than oil being consumed in the world. It is expected that after a decade the first signs of shortage will be felt. The rapid industrialization of China has made it a major consumer of oil as well. Oil prices will rise. In the course of a few decades all fields of economy will be effected by the high cost of energy. A deep recession may result. Fresh political conflicts will surface.
There are hardly any other acceptable compensating sources of energy. Atomic fission carries the problem of deposing of its nuclear waste. Despite of decades of experimentation nuclear fusion is still in its infancy. Funds for building a demonstration model have only recently been awarded. It is expected to take more than thirty years before nuclear fusion plants will meet to some extent the existing shortage.
Even if some fresh source of energy were invented it would take years and years of experimentation before being in a stage of operation.