Q:Population growth is not an issue of social or economic theory, as Friedman concludes--the issue is how we acknowledge the Earth and our existence upon it. Saying the Earth will be fine "when we are gone" assumes that the Earth was ever meant to be covered in concrete, railroads, and power plants. Humans happen to be a species that exists, but that doesn't make the Earth our experimental playground. This viewpoint is dangerously disrespectful to the Earth, whose value exceeds instrumental worth.
No, that is not my point, my point is that exponential growth of population is not true, that countries get a best birth auto-regulation when they are richer, and that they are richer precisely when technology is more advanced. Also my point of view (debatible, of course) is that humans will find solutions to the problems of the future, which, almost certainly, will not be the problems that we are thinking now, so there will be a balance between humans, other species and the planet itself. Is it an optimistic view? Yep, it is true, but I have some faith in humans… [or, after reading the insults on my inbox just now, rather in ***some*** humans].
davidhenrythoreau says: Just a little background—I live in Southern California, a natural Mediterranean wetland, one of the rarest ecosystems on the whole planet. …or it would be if it wasn’t dried up with cement, covered (almost entirely) in invasive species, roads, housing, and/or automobiles. I understand that science and capital are the answers to sustainable solutions (but that’s only because we adopted capitalism centuries ago); but the Earth won’t just fix itself and we can’t rely on that perspective.
I know that area, I loved it. And you give me a perfect example of what I was trying to explain: what you’re thinking are solutions of today (cement, covered in invasive species, roads, housing, and / or automobiles …) to tomorrow’s problems, and history has taught us that that does not work. The classical sample is “the problem” with the horse manure at the end of XIX century, and “experts” forecasting that streets might be drowned in horse manure around 1950. Today we can laugh of the whole thing, I’m pretty sure we all will laugh in fifty years too of this kind of eco-doom.
Reading: From Horse Power to Horsepower
Pretty ilustrative is paleofuture.com too.
davidhenrythoreau says: I’m sorry, but no. What I’m speaking of is a solution targeted at the fundamental way humans look outside their window and either say “this is mine to conquer” or “this is mine to coexist upon.” Today, and every year since the 1800s, the former is/has been the majority view. Unless we change how we acknowledge the earth, as our family, not our slave, science is absolutely useless in a very intrinsic way. Invasives are on ongoing issue, populations and pollution are ongoing issues; the trouble with environmental optimism is that it allows us to slow our progress, when in fact, we are centuries away from any solution. And yes, more issues will arise as time moves, but we’re still cleaning up what was; we are not ready to acknowledge what is, because we haven’t reached a “present” environmental solution. I admire your willingness to argue with me, but today is EARTH day, and people ought to hear about how we can’t stop trying, not that we’re close enough.
You can not change the way of being of humans, a newcomer kind to the planet, and pretty insignificant for Earth, and that can be swept from the face of the earth in a few seconds or minutes due to circumstances that we can not (and probably will never be able) to control: pandemic diseases, meteorites, giant solar flares… We know this because it has happened before, and can happen in the future.
I think there is a great deal of arrogance in the fact of consider ourselves so important and so influential in our environment, I just don’t think we actually are so important. Most of the planet is virgin (or water or desert actually), and all humans could live more or less comfortably in a medium state of USA.
Yes, it’s Earth Day, very nice, but I think there is room for discussion if extreme positions are eliminated and speaking from reason, not from faith, pseudoscience or pathological environmentalism, three concepts interchangeable in this case, IMHO.
Also, if I get to choose between optimism and pessimism, I’ll take the former, especially if it is rational, and I think my original post was so.
Q:Though it is true that science is responsible for our modern, renewable, and sustainable technologies, it cannot just be ignored that the Industrial Revolution (and all that has proceeded), including intense population expansion, major habitat destruction, and over exploitation of natural, nonrenewable resources, are the by-product of scientific innovation (i.e. Medicine, automobiles, weapons). The earth is a beautiful place, but humans have not improved it; the earth was fine before we arrived.
I’m partially agree with your comment. But:
"…including intense population expansion…" There is plenty room for all of us, maltusianism is dead. "…major habitat destruction…" and also new habitat formation, human being is the first specie who worried for this kind of things. "…exploitation of natural, nonrenewable resources…" Explotation is mostly controled and we have now the tools to minimize them without have to go back to the Paleolithic. "The earth is a beautiful place…" depend of the era, "…but humans have not improved it…" we can not indeed; “…the earth was fine before we arrived…” and so will be when we are gone.
Happy Earth Day, in honor of our blue planet, not green. Also a good day for everyone to remember, that science and technology achievements produce higher environmental protection, not vice versa, so more wealth imply more innovation and makes possible a greater investment in cleaner energies. Therefore, something that a lot of people tend to ignore, economic growth and ecological improvement go together, not confronted.
Also a great day to begin to read The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley who inspired my previous words.
awkwardsituationist said: technology to clean up the problems of technology? innovation leads to wealth, but that wealth is concentrated in fewer hands. there is no future for us without limits on econ growth. the free market didn’t get you that pic of the earth. gov’t did.
Well, these words has been written trough Tumblr (private company) using probably commercial software (Windows, Mac OS, Android…) and commercial hardware (PC, iPad, iPhone…). I’m sure that the government can help, and help indeed, on many things (space, basic science, fundamental research…). But at this point in history there is no denying that the market has helped and helps make life better for everyone on the planet, and once overcome feudalism and communism (both criminals regimes), the highest levels of prosperity are achieved with a clever mix of both components: a strong but small state, and a strong and diversified private sector.
I think there is a whole gray scale in the discussion, but I also think it is clear to where the solution is tilted… and a picture is worth a thousand words.