An article in Foreign Policy on "Why Growth Can't Be Green" popped up in my feed. The author makes a strong case for his thesis, which he seems to think is quite the Gordian knot.
He's concerned "...that there are physical limits to how efficiently we can use resources," and pontificates, "Our planet provides more than enough for all of us; the problem is that its resources are not equally distributed."
Sure, you can do that, and in the end we'll all get exactly the same weight in cockroaches for dinner. On the other hand, early on he tells us, "Even under the best conditions, absolute decoupling of GDP from resource use is not possible on a global scale."
The emphasis is mine. There's a whole Solar System out there, with lots of iron and copper and other metals, plenty of ice to use for water, air and fuel -- and staggering amounts of solar energy to power the process.
I know it has become fashionable these days to decry space as a place where the rich will flee to escape us clods -- but in fact it is harsh and desolate, a set of environments where recycling isn't just a nice idea but a near-necessity -- and where conditions are such that you're already set up to work with harsh and dangerous processes while being isolated from them. We can extract exotic metals and process radioactives on the Moon all we like and not endanger a single newt or squirrel -- or person, if they do it right -- and the aftermath won't be a spreading contaminated lake in China or a massive disposal problem in the Pacific Northwest.
Or, I suppose, we can hunker down in shared, egalitarian* poverty and every year there will be less and less, until one day, it'll all be gone.
I know which future I prefer.
* Some of the important people, the ones who write articles for Foreign Policy and suchlike, will get a double helping of cockroaches. Maybe even with salt.
3 months ago