You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2007.

You’ve heard about peak oil?

What about peak phosphorus? According to Patrick Dery, world phosphorus production peaked in 1989, and by his predictions we are overdue for a severe drop off in production. Phosphorus along with oil has underpinned the “green revolution”, and a reduction in phosphorus at the same time as oil could have a dramatic impact on our ability to feed ourselves.

When you add this to other trends such as the increasing replacement of food crops with biofuels (see Poplar Mechanics & Biofuels Demand Grows Across Continents), it seems clear that food prices may be due for a spike in the not too distant future.

One of the thing’s I’m really worried about is a worldwide economic depression. It’s not uncommon to see an article about how household debt levels are at all-time highs, or how people are living well beyond their means in the contemporary credit-card economy. I don’t think it’d take too much price inflation (driven by a rise of oil prices, food prices, etc.) to start impacting on the ability of people to service their debts. We’ve recently had an indicator of what might happen in the (much smaller scale) collapse of the 2nd hand mortgage market in the US.  Some commentators on the more extreme end of the spectrum have been predicting this collapse could cause a recession.  What might happen with a much wider-spread collapse of financial markets?  Scary stuff.

You’ve probably heard of biofeedback – where real-time feedback on bodily processes that were previously considered to be automatic. Biofeedback is typically used to monitor stress and muscle tension.

Neurofeedback – real-time feedback on the state of the brain – has been experimented with since the 1960’s, and experimenters have developed the technology to the point where it may be used to control video games as a recent Wired article describes. This technology is already used by paraplegics to control their wheelchairs, open doors, etc. Medical researchers are worried that controlling a game with your mind may train the brain in ways that may not be optimal for it’s function, and could have a negative psychological impact. It certainly sounds a lot safer than the project which Kevin Warwick had planned several years ago of implanting an electrode in his brain, and one in another person’s brain to see if they could communicate. (He asked his wife initially, but she wasn’t keen 🙂 )

This seems to me to have some really interesting implications. Could we train ourselves through neurofeedback to be more satisfied with our life? Would this be beneficial anyway? According to wikipedia, this technology is being used therapeutically in the treatment of psychological conditions such as addiction.