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Author Topic: Is economic growth compatible with keeping a viable environment for humankind?  (Read 7144 times)

Offline CPT ArkAngel

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Is economic and population growths and keeping a viable environment for humankind incompatible?

I have been thinking about this for a long time. In my knowledge, all governments of the world but Bhutan's compete for economic growth. Technology, knowledge and education are not growing fastly enough to attain a viable resources gathering rate in this context. Shouldn't we be yelling at our governments to stop population growth before it is too late? Is there other solutions? Green energies take much space like solar panels and wind turbines. Most people think that those kinds of energy are just not sufficiently efficient, but if we have more space...? Many people told me that i don't like children and that is why i want to reduce population (i am egocentric) but the truth is, our children (and their children) will have much bigger problems than we have. Moreover, creating economic growth by having more children is totally egocentric because we are counting on future generations to work for us, so we have a better life when we will be old.

About Bhutan's government environmental policies: http://www.undp.org.bt/environment.htm

Mod edit: Please phrase your topic as a question to keep with forum policy.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: 11/10/2010 10:21:48 by JP »


 

Offline echochartruse

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I see your point. In Australia we are encouraged as other countries are I would imagine to increase population for economic reasons, yet our fresh water supply is inadequate for our existing population without consideration for the thousands of immigrants we welcome each year.

It's like putting the horse before the cart.
 

Offline mathewrobert

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The relationship between economic growth and the environment is, and will likely
remain, controversial.We must step forward to do Environment friendly activities.We must limit global environmental threats, such as climate change; to protect human health and safety from hazards such as poor air quality and toxic chemicals.





« Last Edit: 25/10/2010 14:09:34 by mathewrobert »
 

Offline mathewrobert

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Need Eco Tourism Ideas... eco friendly ideas for travelers
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Economic growth consists of two main factors.  Doing what you need to do with less effort (or even less energy) and a factor related to population growth (which is often the easiest).  The first is true growth the second is dangerous in today's crowded world.

It is absolutely obvious that a planet with limited resources must have an upper safe limit for a sustainable human population size.

What do readers think this limit is? and why?

The first decision is is this safe limit greater equal to or less than the earth's population today?

My bet is that the population is already around ten times the safe limit to ensure that biodiversity can be maintained long term.

It is not limited by the resources needed to grow food for its population.
The other serious problem is that the greater population we have the more the more precise and draconian our resource management will have to be in the long term.
 

SteveFish

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I think the big crunch will come as the supply of fossil fuels levels out and begin to decline while demand from developing nations and increasing population increases. Without inexpensive fossil fuels, big agriculture will not be able to keep up with population growth, and food production will be further stressed by ocean acidification, uncontrolled over use of fisheries, fresh water shortages, and spreading desertification enhanced by global warming. Mother Nature always keeps things in balance, and this is usually done by a major die off of the offending species— in this case us. I think there is a way to avert the death of billions of us (live, via satellite), but political and big business leadership both seem to be stuck in a short term thinking mode.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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You have stated a lot of the likely things quite well but how do you think the problem could be solved?

I believe that the problem goes a lot deeper than just the resource limitations.  I agree with the questioner. Our whole economic theory is built on growth of the wrong kind and unless we see population growth as a potential negative aspect and create an economic structure that will work with a stable and even declining population for a while nature will solve the problem with wars and starvation only to leave us with a vastly damaged ecosystem.  Look at the example of Easter Island.

Only recently there were items in the press suggesting that the population of Europe is growing too slowly and that we need to encourage more children.  This is total madness!

 

Offline peppercorn

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Only recently there were items in the press suggesting that the population of Europe is growing too slowly and that we need to encourage more children.  This is total madness!

And yet we throw millions away on trying to control immigration.  Of course there are very good reasons behind knowing who enters the country and whether they are doing so legally, but it does seem ironic to have such a backlash against immigrants in certain areas of the press, whilst politicians are sending these messages practically on the next page.
 

SteveFish

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Soul Surfer, I agree. The old economics puts resource depletion, pollution, and anything that doesn’t have an enforceable monetary cost into a category called “externalities” that is ignored. I think that there are some new economic ideas emerging that include externalities and are thinking of how society could be organized to maintain quality without population growth.

As for how to avoid the coming “adjustment to biodiversity,” if you wish a euphemism for mass starvation and war, I only think this is possible but not very probable. This is because all we have to do is to act intelligently.

It is clear that the simple answer to ocean acidification, global warming, and peak oil is reduction of fossil CO2 production. Fossil fuels are an incredibly rich resource and we are burning it all up! One of the lowest hanging fruits on the fossil fuel issue is simple conservation, but further reductions would require that wind-electric, solar water heating, solar thermal-electric and photo voltaic solar be scaled up very quickly while removing both direct and indirect subsidies to fossil fuel companies and making them pay for the damage they do. These renewables are well understood and reducing rapidly in cost, and they become more palatable when fossil fuels reflect their real cost to society. There would also have to be a major research effort to improve and develop renewable base load power. Geothermal-electric, solar thermal-electric, and generation 4 nuclear look good with an interim solution of substituting natural gas-electric for coal.

Ocean depletion, agricultural land depletion, agriculture without fossil fuels, and water issues will have to be approached by teaching and enforcing better fishing and farming techniques. These are well understood. Water issues will also require an additional investigation of ways to develop fresh water sources. Perhaps geothermal, solar, and nuclear might be looked into.

Population is the big elephant in the room and the answer is well known— Make reproductive rights and options available to all women, make personal and food security available to all families, and make sure that there is a way for all families to make a living wage. Simple huh?

All that is required to get past these hurdles is political will and inspired leadership that can convincingly tell the lobbyists of the fossil fuel related industries, and the politicians who believe them, that the era of robber barons is now really over, and they are going to have to suck it up and switch over to supplying renewables to all of us at a little lower profit margin. Steve
 

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