The Sustainability of Human Progress

John McCarthy (the creator of programming languge Lisp) has a detailed set of pages regarding the sustainability of human progress. He backs these up with solid numbers and references. I won’t reproduce all his arithmetic and arguments here, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Even with current technology, there is enough energy to last us until unimaginably far into the future (a billion years)
  • Even present agricultural technology can sustain a population of upto 15 billion people.
  • The world is not running out of wood, and forest cover is actually quite stable.
  • The extinction of species of interesting or important species of negligible —- biodiversity is not endangered.
  • It is far from scientifically proven that global warming exists, let alone that it is harmful. It may even be good. Should it turn out to be a problem it can be easily managed.
  • There is more than enough land to safely dispose trash.
  • Most environmental regulations have had little or no effect, while imposing huge costs on individuals, businesses, and society.
  • Almost all environmentalist concerns today, and opposition to the above conclusions, stems from ideology and religion than from hard science. (Michael Crichton echoes this).
Posted by Vivek at February 14, 2004 6:20 PM