Sunday, January 27, 2008

Limits to Growth.

I`m reading Limits to Growth at the moment. More on that later, for now just a note.

Limits to Growth introduces the idea of global ecological overshoot. This is a simple idea to explain, the suggestion is that there is a danger of economic growth occurring that leads to such a burden on the resources of our planet that they cannot be replenished. If this where to happen we would use up our resources until a point came when they where no longer there. Simple right? Now there are many people who say that we are currently in such a position, that we are overshooting, Jeff Sachs--head of the millennium development goals--is one. But perhaps you don't believe him that we are at 130% of the capacity of the planet and therefore meeting 30% of our needs from finite resources, i have a simpler argument.

The things needed for overshoot are...

  1. Rapid change.

  2. Limits to that change.

  3. Errors or delays in perceiving the limits and controlling that change.

Given these pre-conditions for overshoot i`m worried. I`m not completely confident that a significant portion of our current resource demand is above and beyond what can be replenished. But as GDP is a good measure of physical throughput and as global GDP is currently increasing it is likely that by 2050 due to compound interest the economy will be 4-6 times the size that it is now. So it seems incredibly unlikely that all those doing ecological foot printing are wrong enough for the global economy not to be on a path to overshoot. Furthermore do you believe that we have an institution that could look at the rate of global economic growth and limit that? I don't think that we have a system for limiting change--damaging or otherwise.

Ok, so a long note.

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