TED Conversations

Jake Maddox

Field Service Engineer,

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

How can we sustain infinite growth on a finite planet?

Human population growth is a serious problem that is growing by ridiculous geometric progression. Everyday approximately 200,000 people die, and in contrast 450,000 are born. That is a staggering 250,000 new mouths to feed everyday! We cannot support infinite growth on a finite planet! We're running out of land. Thousands of square miles of rain forest are gutted every year for palm plantations to produce palm oil so that masses can be sustained. Fresh water supplies are in limited quantities. Polution and contamination abound. Why do people ignore the realities of where we're headed? It frightens the crap outta me. It appears as though the discovery of oil is when things really took off. Oil ultimately led to the internal combustion engine so that huge amounts of land could be cultivated. Pesticides and fertilizers were also made possible via oil to enhance production yields. As well as affecting the pharmeceutical industry to produce vaccines. It's not natures way.

Check out this human population growth chart: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/images/Popn_Graph2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://worldhistoryforusall.sdsu.edu/themes/keytheme1.htm&h=324&w=524&sz=49&tbnid=YSJSr0mYU4gonM:&tbnh=77&tbnw=124&zoom=1&usg=__kIp3FdU9ydMckYq62HCWmiEmqXc=&hl=en&sa=X&ei=2nk9UOvmL8vsigKdhIGwDg&ved=0CCUQ9QEwAQ&dur=655

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Sep 23 2012: We are talking about very difficult , sometimes even unimagined techical problems more than political ones. However, if you review the history of the last hundred or so years, we started out with zero airplanes, most people saying it was impossible to fly, and within 60 years, we managed to send people to the moon and bring them back alive. (!) During the same time period, there was this ongoing problem about Palestine, and the Middle East in general. I submit that the absence of ANY significant political progess in that time is a proof that technical problems are much easier to solve than political ones. And by the way, it is not necessary to go 600 light years away to find some alternative habitations. Within our own Solar system we have various possiblities within reach. Therefore I am suggesting that , quicker than getting Arabs and Jews to agree on anything, would be the project of terraforming some planet to sustain humans.
    • Sep 24 2012: I like your comment about flying. Our concerns and fears will be so different 50 years from now. What we can only dream today will be reality tomorrow.

      Do you really think it would be worth the effort of terraforming a planet when we can't even manage the one we have in a sustainable way?
      • Sep 25 2012: Andrew: rmember the "mismanagement" you are talking about is mostly political nonsense. if it were left to the kind of people who managed the moon project, we would be doing a lot better. Examples : going Green is fine, but Ethanol is a political and financial scam. It wouldn't be nearly as hard to convince techno-geeks of that, if indeed any need convincing.. Thorium LFTR power is the answer to a great many of the management problems you are talking about, but the details about it are distastefful to ordinary people, so they just say "Well , if it were that good we would have done it already." About as stupid an answer as could be imagined, but subscribed to by many, some of them with "Colllege degrees". At the very least, Terraforming would be a venture popular with the group that was doing it; sort of like the morale of any group doing somethng new and dangerous. Windmills and solar panels are fine too, but there is simply no way they will solve the energy problem, except theoretically. Try telling that to a Green Luddite liberal arts grad. Then there is the matter of conflict and warfare. I vernture to say that in a terraforming situation, such a waste of time and evergy simply wouldn't happen, not until it had been a success for a hundred years at least.
    • thumb
      Sep 24 2012: I think:

      (1) Terraforming a planet is almost impossible for the extremely fragile humans of ultra-high accuracy.
      (2) There will be more than plenty of resources and energy on the earth if we quit SILLY invalid happiness.

      Be happy validly!

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.