OK in the short term ?

“… and that is what is behind the abrupt rise in climate change denial among hardcore Conservatives: they have come to understand that as soon as they admit climate change is real, they will loose the central ideological battle of our time – whether we need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values, or whether that task can be left to the magic of the market.”

Naomi Klein

When I was young I used to think of 2020 as being the future, that was when everything would be different, we would have lots of cool technologies, we would have colonies on the moon, I used to think of all sorts of possibilities.

Now 2020 is just a year away and most of the things I dreamt of have not come to pass, except that we have the Internet and powerful computers.  Things are different but not in ways I envisaged, and most things are the same.

My children don’t see 2020 as being the future in that sense they see the future as being more like 2100.

But I wonder what will 2100 be like, will our children see us as having looked after the planet and handed it on in a better state than we received it in ?

I doubt it.

How often can we truly say we are thinking about the well-being of future generations ?

How often do we consider the impact of our decisions as they ripple down the decades and centuries ahead ?

I think the problem is that ‘Now‘ demands attention much more forcefully than the future, we are living in comfort at the moment and most of the demands of the future would require us to give up some of that immediate comfort to do something about a problem which we see as still being a long way away.

The timeframe over which we think of things is getting smaller and smaller so the perceived urgency of future problems is diminished by comparison.

It is easy to concentrate on the ‘now’, because it commands so much more attention than the future.  It is getting more and more difficult to look beyond our immediate problems.  Today’s news, the latest fashions, the newest technologies.  Politicians are only concerned with what happens up to the next election, anything beyond that is irrelevant to them as it might not be their problem anyway.  Businesses concentrate on ‘maximising shareholder value’ to maximise their share price in the short term, for them the timeframe they worry about is the next quarter.  On the Internet the timeframe of interest is minutes, and on the financial markets it’s about sixty milliseconds.

No wonder that in the Twitter fuelled politics of 2019 most people in society are not concentrating on the big problems which threaten the continued existence of the human race, like Climate Change.  They are not seen as immediate threats, that’s something for the future.

Some politicians even choose to deny the evidence on climate change and continue with business as usual and there are many reasons why they would do this.

In my opinion this ‘short termism’ is probably the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.  But what if we could be altruistic enough to care about people we will probably never live to see ?

The ability to have complex abstract thoughts about non existent scenarios is what sets us apart from most animals.  To imagine scenarios which do not exist and may never exist and to be able to plan how to bring these scenarios about or to avoid bringing them about is a vital adaptation which has led to the phenomenal success of humans as a species.

We can imagine what we want to do tomorrow or next week or next year, where we would like go on holiday, what job we would like, and we can imagine alternative versions of these scenarios, and we can evaluate each of them in terms of their likelihood and desirability.

We have the innate ability to imagine the consequences of our actions in the long term, but sadly not always the will or the motivation to escape our immediate desires.

Despite our mental faculty to look and plan ahead, we have a weakness in our thinking called ‘present bias’, which favours short-term payoffs over long-term rewards.

For example, people are more likely to accept an offer of £100 today, rather than a guarantee of £120 in a week or to smoke cigarettes despite a shortened life or to spend on pleasures and not save for a rainy day.

If we are so likely to neglect the our own future wellbeing, it’s even harder to muster empathy for future generations.

There is nowhere this is more apparent than in the world of politics and economics.

Politics and economics are inextricably linked especially in the politics of free market capitalism.

There is a fallacy at the heart of economics and that is that there must always be growth.  Free market capitalism has tied us to having economies which must grow in order to survive.

I think it was David Attenborough who once said that “to believe in never ending growth you must either be insane or be an economist“.

So why are capitalist economies so obsessed with growth ?

GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product, it is a figure which represents the total cost of goods and services traded in an economy in a year.  It was invented in the 1930s, but it very soon became the overriding goal of policymaking, so much so that even today, in the richest of countries, governments think that the solution to all their economic problems lies in more growth.

In 1960 this thinking was codified in a book by W.W. Rostow called “The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto.”

In his book Rostow tells us that all economies need to pass through five stages of growth: first, traditional society, where a nation’s output is limited by its technology, its institutions and mindset; but then the preconditions for take-off, where we get the beginnings of a banking industry, the mechanisation of work and the belief that growth is necessary for something beyond itself; then we get take-off, where compound interest is built into the economy’s institutions and growth becomes the normal condition; fourth is the drive to maturity where you can have any industry you want, no matter your natural resource base; and the fifth and final stage, the age of high-mass consumption where people can buy all the consumer goods they want.

Well, you can hear the implicit airplane metaphor in his story, but this plane is like no other, because it can never be allowed to land.  Rostow left us flying into the sunset of mass consumerism, and he knew it.  As he wrote, “And then the question beyond, where history offers us only fragments.  What to do when the increase in real income itself loses its charm?”  He asked that question, but he never answered it.

So here we are, flying into the sunset of mass consumerism over half a century on, with economies that have come to demand infinite unending growth, because we’re financially, socially and politically dependent upon it.

We’re financially dependent on growth, because today’s financial system is designed to pursue the highest rate of monetary return, putting publicly traded companies under constant pressure to deliver growing sales, growing market share and growing profits, and because banks create money as debt bearing interest, which must be repaid with more money.  Therefore those companies which incur extra cost because they take care of the environment will be out competed by those who don’t.

We are socially addicted to growth, because thanks to a century of consumer propaganda we have become convinced that we transform ourselves every time we buy something new.  The real purpose of advertising is to make you dissatisfied with the things you presently have in order to persuade you to go out and buy something new to replace it.

And we are politically dependent on growth because politicians want to raise tax revenue without raising taxes and a growing GDP seems a sure way to do that.  They don’t want to inflict any tax rises to pay for long term threats because they are always looking towards the next election.

This is why politics is so shackled to the short term view, they are always looking towards the next election.  It goes something like this; “If it is a threat which is beyond the next election then it might be someone else’s problem if we don’t get re-elected so why worry about it, paying for it now just lessens the chances of our re-election and if the other lot get elected then this problem becomes something we can use against them“.

Future political threats are evaluated with something called ‘Discounting’.

Discounting is standard practice in politics all over the world.

Imagine a politician who is facing a difficult decision, there is a future problem which is known and well documented and they are trying to decide whether or not to spend large sums of money to mitigate the problem.  In the future this will have looked like money well spent perhaps saving many lives and billions of pounds.  It will certainly be of benefit to the grandchildren of the politician.  On the other hand spending all that money now will cause immediate problems for the taxpayers who will see little or no immediate benefit to themselves.

So the politician turns to an economist for a cost benefit analysis and they feed the numbers into the economists spreadsheet.  The economist points out that something called a ‘discount rate’ can be applied to these far future benefits.

A social discount rate is a technique that economists and politicians use in their cost-benefit analyses to decide whether to make investments with a long-term impact.  It weighs the benefits for future people against costs borne in the present-day, and proposes that the calculated value of benefit to society in the future is worth less to society in the present depending on how far into the future these benefits occur.  For example, if you’re deciding whether to spend a lot of money to boost the economy in the future, it’ll tell you that a 10% boost in economic growth in 2 years is worth a lot more in the present than a 10% boost 20 years from now.

The underlying assumption (fallacy) of economics is that economies must continuously grow and therefore it is assumed that future generations will be richer and more able to bear the costs of future problems.  But there is another reason why discount rates are used, on average individuals are not very willing to give up comfort and/or income today for a putative benefit at some time in the future for people who don’t even exist yet.  The society as a whole reflects the views of it’s individual members so politicians, and the societies they govern, have a limit to how much cost they are collectively willing to bear for the benefit of future generations.

So the politician turns to the economist and the economist runs the numbers in their spreadsheet and they realise that dealing with the problems now might not show enough payback for decades or possibly even centuries, so the proposals fail their cost-benefit analysis. The politician will leave it to their successors to deal with the problem.

Most people would accept that there is a need to bear some costs to avoid future climate catastrophe, but how much?  If we continue to postpone action the cost of dealing with the problem continues to rise and this makes it even more likely to be postponed next time the decision comes up.  If we leave it until urgent action is required then it will be too late and we will not be able to deal with the problem.

Ask yourself what portion of your own income today would you be willing to give up for the benefit of future generations?  When economists and politicians are debating this question, they are essentially arguing over how big a discount rate to apply.

If you apply discount rates over long time periods then the importance of the benefits felt by future generations in these calculations eventually dwindles towards zero.

But there is another way of looking at the problem of discounting future harms.  If we turn to philosophy we can see that discounting the needs of our descendants is akin to burying a shard of broken glass in a forest.  If a child steps on the glass and cuts themselves today or tomorrow, then a discount rate suggests this injury is much worse than a child hurting themselves on the glass a century from now.  But ethically, there is no difference between the two.  The child stepping on the glass in one hundred years time feels just as much pain and suffers just as much harm.

So we must ask ourselves is it ethically defensible to do nothing about climate change ?

So, ask yourself what portion of your own income today would you be willing to give up for the benefit of future generations ?  Make yourself heard, write to the politician who represents you and make them aware that something needs to be done now.

Our world is dying of consumption.  Consume less and recycle more.  Fix things that are broken rather than replacing them.

Have less children.

Join a green movement.

Ignore adverts!

If one person does this it won’t make much difference.  If everyone does this it will make a difference.

The time to act is now!

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The Lure of Growth

There is a mantra which pervades society that everything must grow, people must update their systems, get the newest device, adopt the latest fashion, etc … Business spends vast amounts of money on advertising. The role of advertising is to create dissatisfaction, to make you dissatisfied with your current ‘stuff’ so that you will go out and buy new ‘stuff’.

Our capitalist society is predicated on growth. The concepts of profit and interest are seen as necessary for capitalism but they are merely growth by another name. This myth pervades our whole culture, the myth that things must always continue to grow. Populations must increase, the amount of money in the economy must increase, manufacturing output must increase.

If the amount of growth falls below that which is expected then economists and politicians start to panic and call it a recession, if the amount of growth decreases to zero or below then they call it a depression and things really get serious.

The dependence on growth is so deeply ingrained in the capitalist system I don’t think we will ever break free of it. Just keeping the status quo is not an option.

But there is a problem which is conveniently ignored by politicians and economists. The problem with growth is that it is not possible to have infinite growth within a finite system. Sooner or later something will be overloaded or some resource will run out.

There are always limits to growth.

A lot of people in our modern capitalist society are so busy accumulating wealth, property and power that they have forgotten what it is to be human, they behave as if the accumulation of wealth was the sole purpose of their existence. At some point these individuals within the system start to believe that they are not just proletarian slaves but that they are actually masters and that they are actually in charge of their lives. This is a very important misconception for capitalism to promote because it allows the system to go on driving these people faster and faster, it is a kind of submission by these people, the belief that you are in charge of your life when you actually aren’t is very important for sustaining capitalism.

Karl Marx, the 19th century German philosopher and economist believed that capitalism was radically unstable. He wrote that it had an inherent tendency to produce ever larger booms and busts, somewhat like oscillation in a very under-damped feedback system (although he did not express it in those terms), and over the longer term he thought it was bound to destroy itself.

In order to understand why the capitalist system is locked in to this drive for unlimited growth one must understand a little about how the capitalist system works. Never ending continuous growth is a surprisingly simple but specious idea.

Private ownership of the means of production is, generally accepted as being the definition of capitalism.

The capitalist system which characterises the consumer economies of the west is big-firm capitalism with a large dose of entrepreneurial capitalism mixed in, growth is the very raison d’être of this type of capitalism. However this type of capitalism is devoid of any consideration of ecological or environmental realism, profit is the only measure of success.

Businesses make use of people (the labour force) and capital (investments used to buy buildings and machinery) to produce the goods and services that households want and need. People offer up their labour (work) and capital (savings used as investments) to businesses in exchange for incomes. The businesses sell their goods and services at a profit and this allows them to pay people’s wages and to pay off the interest on their capital borrowing. People spend some of their income on consumer goods and save some of it. These savings are invested (directly or indirectly) back into businesses.

This is the ‘circular flow’ of the economy’. The system is actually a lot more complicated than this but that is the general idea.

The financial sector controls the flows of money in the circular economy and controls the dual role of saving and investment. This is also a simple idea to understand. People save some of their income. These savings are invested, usually through a bank, building society or investment house, in businesses to generate profits.

The banks charge interest on the loans they give out and a proportion of this profit is paid out to the owners of the savings in the form of interest. This ‘return’ on their capital is why people save their money in a bank.

Profit provides businesses with working capital (cash) to pay for maintenance and improvements in production. It is also needed to pay off the company’s creditors, people who’ve lent the business money in expectation of a return.

Another use for the profits is to pay dividends to shareholders, people who’ve bought a share in the company. Some businesses seem to concentrate all their efforts on ‘increasing shareholder value’ as if it were the primary purpose of the company.

A business that shows good returns attracts more investment. The value of the business rises because people are prepared to pay more for shares in it. When share values are rising, more people will buy them. Creditors know they will get their money back with interest. Shareholders know that the value of their shares will rise. The business knows that it has sufficient resources to maintain its capital and invest in new processes and technologies.

This ability to re-invest is very important. Machinery wears out and buildings decay with the passage of time. Investment is needed to repair or replace worn machinery. Without investment in new machinery product quality is lost. Sales decline. The business loses its competitive position and risks bankruptcy.

In order to maximise profits businesses will also try to cut costs of production. But capital investment is needed, in addition to its role in maintenance, to achieve cost reduction in the other two factors in the cost of production, labour and materials.

The key point in capitalist economies is towards increasing labour productivity. Since this means producing the same quantity of goods and services with fewer people, the cycle creates a downward pressure on employment that’s only relieved if production is increased.

There are two major factors contributing to economic growth, novelty and efficiency.

Efficiency drives growth. By reducing labour and resource requirements, efficiency reduces the cost of goods over time. This stimulates demand and promotes growth. Far from acting to reduce the throughput of goods, technological progress serves to increase production output by reducing costs.

But efficiency alone doesn’t guarantee success in business. Simply making the same thing more and more efficiently doesn’t work for a couple of reasons. The first is that there are physical limits to efficiency improvement in specific processes. At the basic level, these constraints are laid down by the laws of thermodynamics. The second is that failing to diversify and innovate risks losing out to competitors producing newer and more advanced products.

The second factor is novelty, the process of innovation, is vital in driving economic growth. Capitalism proceeds through a process which Marx called ‘creative destruction’. New technologies and products continually emerge and overthrow existing technologies and products. Ultimately, this means that even successful businesses cannot survive simply through cost-minimisation.

The ability to adapt and to innovate, to design, produce and market not just cheaper products but newer and more exciting ones is vital. Businesses who fail in this process risk becoming bankrupt. It makes little difference to the economy as a whole if individual companies fail. It does make a difference if the process of creative destruction stops because without it economic growth eventually stops as well.

The role of the entrepreneur, as a visionary, is crucial here. But so is the role of the investor. It is only through the continuing cycle of investment that creative destruction is possible. When credit dries up, so does innovation, and when innovation stalls, then growth will slow down and eventually stop.

But there is a fundamental question here which is not being asked. That question is; how does this capitalist system serve the needs and desires of ordinary human beings? The circular flow of production and consumption may once have been a useful way of organising human society to ensure that people’s material needs are catered for. But what does this continual cycle of creative destruction have to do with human happiness?

Does this self-perpetuating system really contribute to individual happiness in any meaningful sense? Isn’t there a point at which people have enough to meet their needs and we should simply stop producing and consuming so much?

The thing that prevents this happening is the dependence of capitalism itself on continuous growth. The imperative to sell more goods, to innovate continually, to stimulate higher and higher levels of consumer demand is driven forwards by the pursuit of growth. But this imperative is now so strong that it seems to undermine the interests of those people it was supposed to serve.

The cycles of creative destruction become ever more frequent. Product lifetimes fall as durability is designed out of consumer goods and obsolescence is designed in. Quality is sacrificed remorselessly for cost reduction and volume throughput. The throw-away society is not so much a consequence of consumer greed as a prerequisite for the survival of capitalism. Novelty has become a conscript of the drive for economic growth.

Our world is dying of consumption.

 

Climate Change and Climate Change Denial.

A few hours previous to writing this people were out on the streets of London and New York demanding action on climate change.  Ban Ki-Moon himself joined the march in New York.  But getting Governments and big corporations to act and make meaningful changes is difficult.

There are still a lot of people who for one reason or another don’t want to believe in climate change.  They deny that there is a problem or they say there is a problem but it is not a man made problem.

Why is this?

I think one of the problems is that the human race seems to have painted itself into a corner here.  We have come to rely on oil, coal and gas to such an extent that cheap energy is no longer an optional part of modern civilization.  This has a strong influence on the beliefs and opinions of the people running large corporations, governments and particularly on the energy companies.

If we stop using fossil fuels then we effectively take our society back to the technology we had before the industrial revolution.  Our 21st century western lifestyle is dependent upon the consumption of vast quantities of hydrocarbons in the form of petrol, diesel and plastics.  If we stopped using fossil fuels it would mean that we in the western countries who enjoy a very high standard of living compared to those in the third world would have to take a huge reduction in our standard of living and our consumption of energy, food and consumer goods.

In the minds of a lot of people there is still some degree of scepticism, uncertainty, and doubt around man made climate change.  Large energy companies try to exaggerate those doubts by promulgating even the smallest piece of information that casts doubt on the reality of climate change.  I am not suggesting some kind of global conspiracy here, just plain old human nature.  Most people in the energy industries or big corporations who feel that the environmental movement might threaten their bottom line take the intellectually easy way out, simply ignore the evidence and deny there is a problem.

Governments also have an ambivalent view of the environmental movement, on the one hand they are voters, but on the other hand governments feel that they have to look after the vested interests of big business.

It is a dichotomy, how can you be both for oil and against carbon emissions.  It’s human nature to resolve mental conflicts like this by rejecting whichever side of the dichotomy we have less emotional investment in.  People try to find consistent narratives to shape their world views.

Let’s look at how the two narratives clash:

Environmentalists and climate scientists say we must stop using fossil fuels to prevent global warming.

Politicians and people who are employed in the energy industries or in large corporations can foresee the consequences of stopping the use of fossil fuels.  People are too dependent on them.  The result would be a global depression on a scale the world has never seen before.

Politicians and people in the energy industries are therefore strongly disinclined to listen to the environmentalists and climate scientists.

How else would you expect them to react?

You might as well tell farmers that they have to stop growing food because obesity is going to cause massive health problems.

So they are faced with a choice, they could do one of four things :-

  •     Deny man made global warming
  •     Blame the consumer society we live in for over consuming
  •     Ignore the problem and hope it will go away
  •     Accept the fact that we’re in a very deep mess without a solution

Unsurprisingly the first option is the most popular.  People tend to see things in black and white and if you see things in this way it’s the most intellectually consistent option to take.

I think the fourth option is the most realistic.  In developing economies, like China and India, the desirability of growth is obvious, to lift millions out of poverty, although if the planet continues to heat up, that success will be short lived.  The UN expects world population to rise to 10 billion before it stabilizes (if it stabilizes).  Development places huge demands on the world’s energy production.  China now has a greater CO2 emission per head of population than the EU, and it is accelerating.

Global summits from Kyoto onwards have been exercises too little too late and in being more interested in creating the appearance of tackling the problem than actually doing anything effective.  It is not, for the most part, that they think nothing should be done.  It is just that they are unsure what they can get away with.  Both in the sense of the minimum necessary expenditure required to save the planet and more importantly in the sense of what they think their citizens can stand in terms of increased taxes and decreased choices.

I don’t think we have any chance of reducing CO2 emissions by enough to meet the IPCC targets.  If the models are correct, it’s already too late.

China and India (and many others) are already building too many coal fired power stations for there to be any chance of significant global reductions in CO2 emissions within the next fifty years.  They are a quick and cheap short term solution to the need for electricity.  Even if electric cars exceed all expectations at reducing oil usage, coal and gas fired power stations will still dominate 21st century global CO2 emissions.  Renewable energy is probably more than fifty years behind where it needs to be in terms of research and development.

Rich nations can probably cope with rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.  It’s the poorer nations who will suffer the most from climate change.

Should we help the developing world develop?

It would be extremely evil to prevent the developing world from gaining access to the energy and wealth they need to survive the consequences of the developed world’s profligate energy use.  But if they gain this access then they will make the problem much worse, by building more power stations and driving more cars and consuming, they will be sucked in to global capitalism and consumerism.  Western companies have their eyes firmly fixed on these ‘Emerging Markets’ as soon as they have enough money to afford our goods we will sell to them.

So we are dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t.

Does the world have enough resources to support 10 billion people with a lifestyle equivalent to the one we in the west enjoy today?

I don’t think so!

 

It is a very frightening prospect.  I don’t know what is going to happen.

 

Reflections on Human Proliferation

Growth for the sake of growth is the

philosophy of the cancer cell.”

Edward Abbey

The unease which environmental issues cause governments is obvious.  The science is clear enough and the economic case for tackling climate change is compelling.  To take one figure, according to the Stern report, 1% of Gross Domestic Product spent reducing the world’s carbon output now would prevent damage from climate change of up to 20% of GDP over the next few decades.

Yet governments continue to equivocate.

Global summits from Kyoto onwards have been exercises in ‘too little too late’ and in being more interested in appearing to be tackling the problem than actually doing anything effective about it.  I don’t think this is because they think nothing should be done.  It is just that they are not sure how much they can get away with.  Both in terms of the minimum necessary expenditure required to save the planet and more importantly in the sense of what they think their citizens will tolerate in terms of increased taxes and decreased choices.

So governments concentrate on climate change and CO2 as the problem, but this is not the problem, it is merely a symptom of the problem.  The real problem is our expanding population.  If we could control our population then tackling climate change and CO2 emissions would be easy.

The expectation that things have to grow seems to be deeply embedded in the human psyche, populations have to increase, economic output has to increase, there must be profit and interest and GDP must only go in one direction.

And so governments ignore the main problem faced by our environment and our continued existence within that environment.  We have reduced the problem to one of carbon emissions and not the unsustainable way we live our lives, we are concentrating on the one of the side shows and ignoring the main event.

The main threat to the environment is the huge numbers of human beings on the planet.  Without a reduction in the human population all the other efforts to save the planet are pointless.

But a reduction in human population is not going to happen any time soon, it is against human nature.

Those governments who are unwilling to address the issue of population control are merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the deck of the Titanic as the ship slowly descends into the water.

But democratic governments would rather not discuss the contentious issue of population control because they know it would be political suicide and almost all environmental groups are reluctant to address this issue because if they do so then they will quickly loose support from the general public.

If there is anyone reading this who thinks that we can all just reduce our carbon footprint and all adopt sustainable lifestyles to save the environment just consider for a moment, at the current rate of increase the world’s population doubles every forty years.

Just suppose we were successful in all our efforts to try and save the environment, bear in mind that our best efforts so far have only seen a small reduction in the rate of increase of carbon emissions.  However suppose that we were successful far beyond any reasonable expectations, suppose we cut our carbon emissions by half and that we found more economic ways to use resources so that we only use half the resources we currently use.  Would this implausible level of success be enough to save the planet?

No!

It would only postpone things.  In forty years time we would be back to the same situation as we face today except that there would be twice as many people on the planet.

There was a quote from David Attenborough (although I have not yet located the source or verified it but I do remember hearing it) in one of his programs he said “You cannot have infinite growth within a finite system, and anyone who thinks otherwise is either insane or is an economist.”

So, what can we do to reduce the population?

Not a lot!

Having babies, is so much a part of human life that it is rarely thought even to require a justification.  The majority of people do not even think about whether they should have children or not.  They just have them.  In other words, procreation is usually the consequence of sex rather than the result of a decision to bring more children into a world that already has far too many.

Any measures we introduce to restrict the growth of population will either be voluntary or they will be involuntary, both are ineffective.

Most democratic governments would not seriously consider imposing mandatory restrictions on the number of children their citizens can have, they know it would be political suicide and that they would be out at the next election.  Non democratic governments might introduce restrictions to the number of children its citizens can have but they do so at their own peril because these restrictions are highly unpopular and as we have seen in China they are not particularly effective, especially in the rural areas.

So what about voluntary reductions in the number of children?  We might see public awareness campaigns and offers of free contraception, adverts explaining the problem and urging people to exercise restraint.  These measures would only influence a portion of the population.

Those people who are intelligent enough to recognise the plight of the world would have fewer children.

Those people who are not intelligent enough to realise the peril or who couldn’t care less about it and those who have been inculcated into a religion which proclaims that their followers have the god given right to overpopulate the planet (that covers almost every religion) would go on breeding without restraint.

The result would be that the next generation would have fewer intelligent people who cared about the future of humanity and more people who only focus on their own immediate short term problems.  Evolution only rewards success at procreation.  Those who choose not to have children effectively remove themselves from the gene pool.

In other words, people who care about the state of the planet will be out competed by those who don’t.  In evolutionary terms a trait is only successful if it confers an advantage in terms of numbers of surviving offspring to those individuals who have it, and in this case stupidity confers an advantage and so it would proliferate.

So what is going to happen in the future?

That is very simple.  If we will not or cannot control our population then nature will control it for us.  When we have too many people for our food supply then some or all of them will starve.  When there are too many people for the space we have then disputes will arise and there will be wars.  If we turn our food production into a huge monoculture then sooner or later some disease or parasite will come along and wipe it out for us.

Nature is a huge web of interconnected systems all dependent on each other for their mutual survival.  If we destroy enough of this web then we will end up destroying ourselves.  Nature can survive without humans, it has done so for most of the history of our planet, can humans survive without nature?

I think not!

It’s that simple, overpopulation will eventually lead to a population crash.

We can only hope that we do not succeed in destroying all life on earth, that would be a pity because it is a beautiful place.