Saturday, March 10, 2012

Planet Earth: At Capacity, No Vacancy

▲ ▲ ▲

The Blue Marble: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Planet Earth: At Capacity, No Vacancy For decades the West comprised a small percentage of the Earth's population but consumed a high percentage of the resources. Now with the economic rise of China, India, Brazil, et. al. the demands for natural resources has skyrocketed and so has the number of humans. The Earth's population reached 7 billion in 2011 (World Population Reaches 7 Billion: Unprecedented, dangerous, unsolved problems of human impact on biosphere). The math of the planetary supply and demand to generate and sustain a Western consumer lifestyle worldwide doesn't add up. That is, demand ultimately is much greater than supply. Technological innovation can mitigate this unsolvable equation and supply problem to some extent, but is this a viable hope or solution?

Paul Gilding, in the video below, begins, "Let me begin with four words that will provide the context for this week, four words that will come to define this century. Here they are: The Earth is full. It's full of us, it's full of our stuff, full of our waste, full of our demands. Yes, we are a brilliant and creative species, but we've created a little too much stuff - so much that our economy is now bigger than its host, our planet."

Gilding further asserts, "This is not a philosophical statement, this is just science based in physics, chemistry and biology. There are many science-based analyses of this, but they all draw the same conclusion - that we're living beyond our means. The eminent scientists of the Global Footprint Network, for example, calculate that we need about 1.5 Earths to sustain this economy. In other words, to keep operating at our current level, we need 50 percent more Earth than we've got. In financial terms, this would be like always spending 50 percent more than you earn, going further into debt every year. But of course, you can't borrow natural resources, so we're burning through our capital, or stealing from the future."

Paul Gilding: The Earth Is Full Have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the livable space on Earth? Paul Gilding suggests we have, and the possibility of devastating consequences, in a talk that's equal parts terrifying and, oddly, hopeful.

About Paul Gilding Paul is an independent writer, advisor and advocate for action on climate change and sustainability. An activist and social entrepreneur for 35 years, his personal mission and purpose is to lead, inspire and motivate action globally on the transition of society and the economy to sustainability. He pursues this purpose across all sectors, working around the world with individuals, businesses, NGOs, entrepreneurs, academia and government.

▲ ▲ ▲

Seeking Alpha