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The current reaction is to deny there's a problem and aggressively reassert our "right" to continue living as we did in the 20th century, and to even ramp up the destruction of our environment and habitat. Denying the realities of global warming and the consequences of our ignorance of natural factors is likely to ensure that many more lives are lost in the coming troubles than is necessary.
The Limits to Growth was published 38 years ago and roundly attacked and then ignored by the serious people. The scenarios in the 1993 updated second edition which avoided collapse required a change in policy direction within 10 years, which patently didn't happen. So, we're screwed. However, extinction is a different proposition altogether.

Three years ago I diaried a report on Spain's ecological footprint: Spain is unsustainable

The report ends with three scenarios for the period to 2020:

  • Scenario A: assumes that the main variables influencing the ecological footprint continue on the current trends.
  • Scenario B: assumes that sustainability targets are substantially met and variables without set targets improve.
  • Scenario C: assumes that targets are exceeded and variables without set targets experience a remarkable improvement.
The results are not encouraging.
  • Scenario A: predicts an economic slowdown in 2010-2015 and a final footprint of 8 ha/person with a deficit of nearly 6 ha/person (capacity would have eroded by 20%, then)
  • Scenario B: manages to keep the 2020 footprint at the 2005 values,
  • Scenario C: the footprint is reduced to 5 ha/person with a deficit of 2.6 ha/person (and a reduction of the biocapacity by about 10%)
Assuming no economic growth, scenario C achieved a reduction to 4.5 ha/person.
So, we know, we've known for a long time, and recent denial of global warming is just one manifestation of a broader cultural/political problem.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 04:00:39 AM EST
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