For decades, each increment of economic growth in developed economies has brought lower resource and energy use than the last. That’s because demand for material goods and services saturates. Few of us need or want to consume more than 3,000 calories or so a day or live in a 5,000-square-foot house. Many Americans prefer to drive SUVs but there is little interest in hauling the kids to soccer practice in a semi-truck. Our appetites for material goods might be prodigious but there is a limit to them.
Even so, that doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t exceed the planet’s carrying capacity. Some environmental scientists claim that we have already surpassed the Earth’s carrying capacity. But this view is deeply ahistorical, assuming carrying capacity to be static.
In fact, we have been engineering our environments to more productively serve human needs for tens of millennia. We cleared forests for grasslands and agriculture. We selected and bred plants and animals that were more nutritious, fertile and abundant. It took six times as much farmland to feed a single person 9,000 years ago, at the dawn of the Neolithic revolution, than it does today, even as almost all of us eat much richer diets. What the palaeoarcheological record strongly suggests is that carrying capacity is not fixed. It is many orders of magnitude greater than it was when we began our journey on this planet.
There is no particular reason to think that we won’t be able to continue to raise carrying capacity further. Nuclear and solar energy are both clearly capable of providing large quantities of energy for large numbers of people without producing much carbon emissions.
Dans Effondrement, il expose un discours intéressant, mais battu en brèche depuis, notamment ds cet article de Ted Nordhaus, an author, environmental policy expert, and the co-founder and executive director of the Breakthrough Institute in California. He is a co-author of An Eco-Modernist Manifesto (2015). Qq extraits :
The ecologist William Vogt was the first to do so in the 1940s, predicting that overuse of agricultural land would lead to soil depletion and then catastrophe. In the late 1960s and early ’70s, Paul Ehrlich focused on food production, and the Club of Rome on material resources; while latter-day environmental scientists and activists have focused more on the effects that pollution and habitat destruction will have on the ‘Earth systems’ that human wellbeing depends upon.
But all hold the same neo-Malthusian view of human fertility and consumption. From the 18th-century arguments of Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus onwards, prophets of environmental doom have imagined that in response to abundance, humans would respond with more – more children and more consumption. Like protozoa or fruit flies, we keep breeding and keep consuming until the resources that allow continuing growth are exhausted.
In reality, human fertility and consumption work nothing like this. Affluence and modernisation bring falling, not rising fertility rates. As our material circumstances improve, we have fewer children, not more. The explosion of human population over the past 200 years has not been a result of rising fertility rates but rather falling mortality rates. With better public health, nutrition, physical infrastructure and public safety we live much longer.
Sans parler de la fusion, pour redire qq mots sur le tout électrique :
C'est quand je vois des révolutions de ce genre, qui se passent sous nos yeux, que je reste confiant au fond de moi...
(* source pour "l es bateaux porte-conteneurs, c'est terrible!!! "15 biggest ships produce more sulfur oxide pollutants than all the cars in the world" incroyable " : https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/apr/09/shipping-pollution (en fait que 50M de voitures, soit le nbr approx. de voitures aux USA et EUrope )
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