William Ryerson Jan 18, 2013
Endless growth is not possible because of constraints of renewable resources like fresh water, clean air and biodiversity. Also, much of our industrial system depends on nonrenewable resources … >>
The industrialization of food production has allowed global population to grow exponentially, from 1.3 billion in 1850 to nearly seven billion today. With this comes exponential growth in the consumption of non-renewable resources like minerals, metals and fossil fuels, as well as the destructive overconsumption of renewable resources like topsoil and freshwater. Our current levels of consumption and population are so high that we are already drawing down the resources that future populations will need; put another way, we would need 1.6 Earths to maintain current levels indefinitely.
Contrary to popular belief, the warnings about overconsumption and overpopulation given by Thomas Malthus in 1798 and the "Limits to Growth" in 1972 were largely correct — we simply cannot keep growing forever on a finite planet. Barring a massive disaster, it is estimated that the world will have nine billion people by 2040. How will we feed so many of us at the same time that fossil fuels, potash, and other materials essential to industrial agriculture are in decline? How can we manage an equitable transition to a more stable global population?
Post Carbon Fellow Paul Gilding and author of The Great Disruption is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability.
This talk is from September 2011. The talk is 30 mins and is followed by a Q&A.
Originally posted at PeakProsperity At the heart of the resource depletion story that we track here at PeakProsperity.com is the number of people on earth competing for those resources. The … >>
How do population, water, energy, food, and climate issues impact one another? What can we do to address one problem without making the others worse? The Post Carbon Reader features … >>