SlyReaper wrote:I find it interesting how population growth gets the most votes. To my mind, so long as the average human contributes more than they consume, isn't population growth a good thing? Or in other words, the more people there are, the more minds that are available to tackle the problem of dwindling resources.
There is also the very real issue that people don't try to find solutions until the problem is urgent.
Let's take the example of phosphate. This mineral is a very important fertilizer, and part of the green revolution. Today, phosphate is mined, and there are only limited reserves of it, but people aren't sure exactly how much. Pessimists say we will run out in 50 to 100 years, the mine owners in hundreds of years.
So there is a problem that will arise in the future because we're mining a finite resource. There are also solutions, like different culture techniques to reduce soil erosion, or use of animal and human waste as a source of phosphorus. So, do farmers use these techniques? no. Do waste water treatment plants recycle phosphorus? no.
If peak phosphorus happens in 2030 (worst case by most pessimist people), and dwindles to nothing in 30 more years, what will we do? Start building recycling plant and change agricultural equipment. But that will take at least 20 years to develop and build enough the recycling plants, and at least a decade for farmers to change their equipments. In the meantime, food production will be greatly decrease, and a lot of people will starve to death.
It's a bit like people smoking. They know it's a bad idea, and that they should stop, but until they get really sick, or see somebody die, they have a lot of trouble stopping. As a species, we're really bad at preventing future damage caused by diffuse actions.