Paul Krugman has been writing a series of excellent blog posts recently that dare question the techno-optimism crowd that sees any questioning of the unsustainability of human overconsumption as a return to Malthusian thinking (population control, etc) that explicitly or implicitly disfavours the poor. Here is Krugman’s latest post:
You might say that this is my answer to those who cheerfully assert that human ingenuity and technological progress will solve all our problems. For the last 35 years, progress on energy technologies has consistently fallen below expectations.
Iâ€™d actually suggest that this is true not just for energy but for our ability to manipulate the physical world in general: 2001 didnâ€™t look much like 2001, and in general material life has been relatively static. (How do the changes in the way we live between 1958 and 2008 compare with the changes between 1908 and 1958? I think the answer is obvious.)
I think the fear that responses to human overconsumption (a consequence of human population growth, but not just that — after all the United States with 5% of the world population consumes 20% or more of its resources) target the poor, is a legitimate one. However, techno-utopianism is fast receding as a respectable alternative [attitude] to solving these real problems.
Also see Krugman’s: Running Out of Planet to Exploit (NYT).
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