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Mike Bostock

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Peter Diamandis: Abundance is our future VS Paul Gilding: The Earth is full. There cannot be a future of abundance.

Unfortunately for the future presented by Diamandis, there is one absolute unchangeable fact that Gilding mentions and this fact is based on mathematics.

How can you have a future of abundance when the resources of this Earth are finite and decreasing in amount and to that you add a growing population and demand?

Less resources to be shared between more people. How can there be a future of abundance?

Supply and demand says it cannot. Math says it cannot.


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    Mar 21 2012: We are running on empty now. At least see Gilding’s talk.

    Earth’s resources now only allow 10% of the Earth’s population to be considered middle or high class, the remaining 90% are considered poor.

    The above percentages show that even now, with 7 billion humans, the Earth’s resources are insufficient to allow a good quality of life to 90% of the population.

    In 2050 the expected population is around 10.5 billion.

    This is not oversimplification or pessimism. These are predictions based on hard facts.

    Oversimplification is saying that we will dominate nuclear tech or fission or hyper drives or whatever magical new technology and just believe that humanity can live on energy and water alone. That is not only oversimplification but a delusion and a show of ignorance.

    Sterling Spencer; to call Space the “extremely easy solution” only shows that you watch too much science fiction on TV. We are still trying to make low orbit economically possible. As I mentioned, we are now running on empty.
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      Mar 22 2012: My bad for exaggerating. I apologize. I stated it as an "extremely easy solution". Of course it's not easy to actually achieve as of right now.

      I made the statement thinking that, by the time the lack of resources and overpopulation become a immediate crisis to the point when we see even the greatest of nations struggling to find resources to survive, we will have sufficiently advanced technology enough to make space an "easy solution".

      -Just to clarify your position a little more-
      At what point in time do you see this eventuality reaching its utmost extreme and causing the world to regress, or do you think the worst is already upon us?
      What possible solutions do you think there might be to this problem, if you think there are any?

      The first general purpose electric computer, ENAC, was announced 66 years ago. The first man on the Moon touched down 43 years ago. Look at where we are now. Now I'm not going to pretend I know the future, but i personally would not be surprised if we could start pulling in resources from planets in our Solar System in the next hundred years.

      The only way I could see this not happening is if the zenith of this "resources crisis" was reached before we could develop such technologies. Then we would be forced to save our resources and not go to Space.

      So is the peak of this situation really that close at hand?

      Oh and I don't own a TV. :)
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        Mar 22 2012: I do not know when the worst is going to happen. Neither does Gilding. Gilding mentions (based on other source) that we know need 1.5 years to renew the resources we consume in 1 year. That is what is meant by 1.5 Earths. It is mentioned that by 2030 we will need 2 years to renew what is consumed in 1. Also take into account that not all resources are renewable or easy to renew.

        Additionally as the law of supply and demand states, as a resource grows in demand it becomes more expensive. So it is not only that the resources will be scarcer, they will be more expensive.

        Gilding mentions that the collapse of this economic system will be gradual and has already begun. The Arab revolts, oil expected to rise to $200 a year from now, the never ending financial crisis and related events are on his view, part of this gradual collapse.
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          Mar 22 2012: So do you think that we will never at all have a future of abundance?
          Do you think we could we greatly fall economically and then, after a long period of time and a war or whatever crisis ensues, at some point rise back up?
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        Mar 23 2012: I do not know. Not in the near future.

        It would be great if someone would come with a Star Trek Replicator kind of device that could replicate anything. With such device all industry would stop existing (except for the replicator manufacturer). For a replicator the resource needed would be atoms and there are a bunch of them.

        But this is make believe.

        I personally think that a consumer based economy based on economic growth based on limited, finite resources is physically impossible. Sooner or later this will be obvious to all.

        This flaw on the global economy is not widely known because the way the global economy operates, benefits some people (the big capitals).
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          Mar 23 2012: I wholeheartedly agree that today's economy is suicidally flawed.
          Future economic standards may possibly lead to a world with access to more resources.
          So, we might have an abundant future, just not based on today's world economy.
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      Mar 22 2012: FYI, already more than 50% of the world population is considered middle class. Poverty is in steep decline, as well as food scarcity, both have never been lower, percentage wise.
      I think it is a conservative estimate that both will be practically non existant within 15 years.
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        Mar 22 2012: Show me your source for this info. Otherwise you are just making things up.
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        Mar 22 2012: This is taken from the only source you listed that speaks about the middle class (the Economist). You should read carefully.

        "In practice, emerging markets may be said to have two middle classes. One consists of those who are middle class by any standard—ie, with an income between the average Brazilian and Italian. This group has the makings of a global class whose members have as much in common with each other as with the poor in their own countries. It is growing fast, but still makes up only a tenth of the developing world. You could call it the global middle class.

        The other, more numerous, group consists of those who are middle-class by the standards of the developing world but not the rich one. Some time in the past year or two, for the first time in history, they became a majority of the developing world’s population: their share of the total rose from one-third in 1990 to 49% in 2005. Call it the developing middle class."

        The meaning of the above is that, they would not be considered middle classes by developed country standards. Also that 49% only refers to developing nations. And the "global middle class" is only 10% of the emerging markets population.

        This is in agreement with the United Nations University study.
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          Mar 25 2012: Mike, the sum of poor+middle+rich will always be 100% so, the percentage of middle does not matter, except for the fact that it measures distribution of resources, but not the consumption of resources. If we imagine that all the world will consume like Americans, then we do not have abundance today. But if we take the total world GDP, or world production of food, and divide by total population, we already have abundance in the sense that we can feed and educate all the world population. The real problem is distribution.
          I live in Brazil, middle class, and lived in US, middle class, it is different indeed. In US it is waste waste waste, while in Brazil I consume much less and live better. I also have worked with several of the "emerging" economies, whatever the term mean ("emerging" is an empty concept in my opinion), and "poor" in these economies differs from "poor" in the US, but this does not mean that the entire world population is willing to live like Americans. The future of abundance means that US must become "poorer" compared to other economies (which is happening since 2008), and on the other end, India and China must become richer (btw, is already happening). To understand the term "abundance" we should define what is "necessary" for living. It is clear that my understanding of abundance differs from yours.
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        Mar 22 2012: Thanks Victor for your interesting stat. I do not however accept the World Bank definition of extreme poverty - there is no context to it. so every theory that comes out of that definition is complete tosh in my book.

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