The Diseconomies of Environmental Catastrophes
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Four factors are almost certain to lead to one or more catastrophes unless major remedial measures are taken. (1) China has replaced the United States as the world s leading consumer of resources, except for oil (Brown, 2006a), but China is already a major factor in the world market in this area also. Together, China and the United States consume approximately half the world s resources and the global population is still increasing on a finite planet. (2) The over 20% global ecological overshoot is simply too large to persist without catastrophic effects. (3) Natural law does not function on human intent. Talk about sustainable development continues, but minor evidence of living sustainably will not alter evolutionary selective processes. (4) Increased evidence indicates that global warming, with rises in sea levels, may already be irreversible. (5) Peak oil will be followed by a decline in cheap energy, which has made Homo sapiens a dominant species.