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Stop Crowding Nature Out!

June 9, 2011

Tom Friedman of the New York Times

Interesting to see New York Times writer, Tom Friedman – one of America’s best – praise Australian writer Paul Gilding and his new book The Great Disruption: How the Climate Crisis Will Transform the Global Economy.

Gilding offers a devastating fact: by measuring how much land and water we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb our waste, he calculates global growth is using the equivalent of 1.5 Earths. We are – right now – living at 150 percent of sustainable capacity.

Friedman writes about the convergence of “two loops” that are both causing and exacerbating our living beyond the Earth’s means.  The first is that more population growth and global warming pushes up food prices, which causes political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to – you guessed it – higher food prices. The other loop is that increasing productivity means fewer people need to be employed to make more stuff. More jobs means more factories, and more factories means more global warming.

This shouldn’t shock people. As Gilder writes in his book, “[t]his is not speculation; this is high school science.” But what is surprising is that Gilder is an optimist. As we begin to see the impact of unchecked population growth and more severe climate change, he believes that “our response will be proportionally dramatic, mobilizing as we do in war. We will change at a scale and speed we can barely image it today, completely transforming our economy … in just a few short decades.”

Read the book. And read Friedman’s article at

  1. christine swan permalink
    June 9, 2011 9:19 pm

    Unchecked population growth? I’m wondering which people/races are to be directed to put the brakes on.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      June 10, 2011 12:50 am

      You check pop growth by giving rights to women. Rights to education, jobs, careers, chose their husbands, delay childbirth, drive a car. Then they make decisions about their lives. Invariably theyndecide to have fewer kids. Let’s start with the Arab world where there is a deficit of womens’ rights and high pop growth.

  2. Joanne Egan permalink
    June 11, 2011 10:10 pm

    Interesting. Scary. Good to have a little hope but hard to get away from the fact that resources are not limitless.

  3. AlanDownunder permalink
    June 12, 2011 7:18 pm

    A good Friedman article, but “one of America’s best”? Purlease! Ample contradiction is available by googling “Friedman unit” and “the moustache of wisdom”.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      June 13, 2011 12:56 am

      He is opposed by the carbon lobby and for good reason.

      • AlanDownunder permalink
        June 13, 2011 11:14 am

        A not insignificant saving grace.

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