As the world’s population increases in the coming years, we will undoubtedly be faced with a number of growing issues that must be addressed, whether or not we want to deal with them. We already see this happening in the areas of forest resources, food production, and available fresh water. The concern, of course, is that as time passes and the quantity of people on the planet continues to increase, we will exceed the planet’s available carrying capacity, or the number of people who can be supported by the planet’s finite resources.
There are some who argue that the time has already passed when a significant change can be made that would allow everyone to live indefinitely at present levels of resource use. James Lovelock, an environmental scientist most noted for his development of the Gaia Hypothesis, has come to some staggering conclusions that many people might consider somewhat extreme. He believes we’ve passed the point of no return as far as our population and resource use are concerned and estimates that with the current standard of living in the developed world, the planet can probably support about a billion people sustainably, that is without the fear of immense environmental degradation. There are now over seven billion of us on the planet, so what does Lovelock think will have to be done about this problem?
The video below is from a BBC interview with Lovelock from a couple of years ago and highlights the main points the man makes about this issue. He argues that we’re fast approaching a point where we will have to make some very hard decisions about who to save and who to leave behind. Much of the world will be stricken by a Malthusian collapse of sorts and only those with the available resources will be able to survive; this will of course be the Old Core developed countries, who must decide who gets in and who must stay out, as far as migration is concerned, as global issues escalate. It’s much like saying the we’re all on a luxury cruise liner and we know she’s going down, but there are a limited number of life boats. In his case, the countries with the money, resources, and weapons are the ones most likely to survive.
So, again, here’s the video. Make of it what you will.