This is part one of a two-part series on the limits of human growth and prosperity on planet Earth. Both parts are based on Ramez Naam’s new book, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet
Is the world doomed? Are we headed for a dystopian future, where billions of people live in poverty on a wrecked, overcrowded planet? Or an even worse world where climate change has wrecked the planet, crashing human populations?
Or is the future going to be a better place than today, one where all of our problems have been solved, and people live in peace and prosperity?
The world is facing incredibly serious natural resource and environmental challenges, to be sure: Climate change, fresh water depletion, ocean over-fishing, deforestation, air and water pollution, the struggle to feed a planet of billions.
All of these challenges are exacerbated by ever rising demand – over the next 40 years estimates are that demand for fresh water will rise 50%, demand for food will rise 70%, and demand for energy will nearly double – all in the same period that we need to tackle climate change, depletion of rivers and aquifers, and deforestation.