I don't know the answer, but I DO KNOW THE QUESTION: Is there a limit to economic growth?

It's considered unfair, racist, unimaginative, luddite or worse to question how many millions of people this planet can support at the average GDP of Europe, or more resource-costly, the U.S.

It's considered unfair, racist, unimaginative, luddite or worse to question how many millions of people this planet can support at the average GDP of Europe, or more resource-costly, the U.S. Here's a column from Australia that delves into this morally frought territory, pointing out the rapid economic rise of China and India with 40% of the world's population. The writer asks, "what's the limit?"

The old ZPG organization has been reborn for this century as Population Connection. They didn't change their URL, nor their main message: they have studies on human encroachment on wildlife all over the planet, resource shortage from water to food to energy. They also advocate vociferously against the American government's refusal to fund population control.

So here we have a lusty stew of moral and political and religious disagreement: who has the right to birth control and what role do conservative govenrments and religions play? Who has the right to live well at the expense of millions of other people? How much human life can the planet support? What are the economic and political implications of any limits on population, voluntary or otherwise?

I would add one more: do we have any obligation to leave anything more than a burned out pile of ashes for future generations? When you look at the resource use during the 19th and 20th Century across America, you would think it's carpe diem, screw tomorrow. How many species did we drive into extinction? How many tribes of Native Americans vanished forever? The Katrina disaster in New Orleans illustrated what can happen when you mismanage a complex natural system for profit and resource mining. The earth's systems are not infnitely pliable. Thus you get Mr. Lovelock's gloomy prediction of the earth cleansing itself of most human life in coming decades.

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