Unlimited economic progress in a world of finite resources is bound to collapse. - Jane Goodall @1:17
When you hear someone say something like this it should be a key indication that they have not the slightest idea what they are talking about. Frustratingly it is an oft repeated sentiment among environmentalists and amateur economists. It’s in the same category as ”Capitalism is invalid because it relies on unlimited economic growth.” Both of these are spectacularly wrong for several reasons. My friend Eric put it most succinctly:
…economic progress isn’t bound by natural resources. If someone figures out a way to do something more efficiently, that’s economic progress that may in fact reduce the natural resources required.
Eric hit the nail on the head, I tend to break this down in a longer form.
Obviously resources are finite, that’s a truism and kind of meaningless :-/ The question is how limited are they? What is our resource ceiling? Are we talking all the titanium in the milky way galaxy or all the different ways we can create polymers that replace metals? What about using LEDs to vastly improve the amount of food we can grow? Are trees a finite natural resource? Maybe not if you can replant them forever. It’s debatable and hence my point.
Even if the resource ceiling is low (unlikely), there might be a near infinite way to combine, use, and reuse those resources. In that case, unlimited economic progress is certainly possible. Does that mean that we actually do have infinite resources? Further complicating this is that economic progress (defined in a broad variety of ways) is based almost entirely on ideas, which are as near to infinite as anything. Zynga is a multibillion dollar company because people buy virtual carrots.
There is no evidence to suggest a social collapse, short of a catastrophic meteor strike. It’s a common goal that everyone wants to prevent and there are no indications that it will occur. In fact, the trend is in the opposite direction. The makers of Surviving Progress offer an exploding building as evidence/support for their assertion but fail to explain why. I even think that serious pre-industrial regression is so unlikely that’s it’s not worth considering. As a species we’re doing fairly well on the millenium development goals
(lots of room for improvement though!). scope the graphs at the bottom of this wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
When I look at the statement “unlimited economic progress in a world of finite natural resources is bound to collapse” I see a super messy, poorly defined equation with an unlikely outcome. I hang out with a lot of environmentalist hippy types and people say some variant of this to me all time. It’s a sign that someone hasn’t really thought about what they are saying. But it is a highly manipulative statement and I bet it’s followed by someone, especially these filmmakers, trying to get me to do something.
HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!
>>>> See Also >>>>
The Policy Economics of Getting Punched Right in The Goddamned Face
Also, if you haven’t seen it already James Cameron and Google are trying to bring an asteroid into orbit around earth by 2025. It’s blowing by mind.