Sunday, 31 December 2006

A Wonderful World with 100 Billion People

Our Earth can support a population of 100 billion people with higher material living standards than the developed countries have now, and be a much better place to live in for all. Some of you may find this an outrageous statement. However, bear with me, I will presently in the GrowthUnlimited blog document the reasoning behind the statement.

Area is of course an important limiting factor for population density and wellbeing. But considering that the total area of the Earth is 510 million and that in a 100 G world 99,9% of all people would most likely be living in cities with a average population density of 2.000-10.000 persons /, we would need about 10-50 million, which is from 2-10 % of the total Earth area, for city areas, which would leave ample space for food production, pristine nature and recreation (golf courses, cultural landscapes). Yes, I am consciously including sea areas too, as we already now are seeing artificial islands being built, and we can foresee a possible future, where big floating islands are being constructed on the oceans as centers for mariculture, solar farms and mining industries.

Many people may dislike the thought of megacities as housing places for a high number of people. Sure, I am not talking about slum city sprawl in poor developing countries, even if this may be a good first step in leapfrogging from an agricultural economy to a post-industrial economy. What I expect to see, are modern clean and green cities with good conditions for all. Think about greater Copenhagen (my home city), with all its opportunities and pleasures, expanding on both sides of the Øresund to about 10-20 million people.

The great advantage of a bigger population is the increased knowledge being shared between more people. People is the Ultimate Resource (as put by the late Julian Simon). The likelihood of small innovations and groundbreaking innovations on the level of an Einstein or a Mozart increase proportionally to the number of people living good lives, and these innovations are shared by all and increase everybody’s productivity and enjoyment of life.

Economy wise, think about a 100 G world with a GNP/Cap like Denmark. That would make for 3.000 Trillion USD global GNP. It ‘s hard to see what the World cannot do with that kind of human and financial resources.

Happy New Year

Karl Iver Dahl-Madsen

Sunday, 24 December 2006

A Happy Christmas Message: The World is Getting Better

The world continues to be a better and better place for human beings. It may happen in fits and starts, and it may not occur at the same time all over the world. However, the long-term trends are obvious: The human population is increasing and at the same time we are living longer, getter richer and being better educated. The world economic growth is now at its highest (about 4%) since the heady 1950’is and the decade we are in now: The Amazing Zeroes, will probably break all human records on enriching people and getting people out of poverty.

Yes, I know, what about nature & environment? Sure there are a lot of stressful impacts to the environment, most of those are well known though and being solved in due time in the rich developed World. And the NIC’s and the developing world will do the same as soon as basic human needs (food, health, education) are covered. Even the CO2 problem has numerous technological solutions in the pipeline, which can be implemented at an appropriate time, without destroying valuable infrastructure and downgrading other and more important needs.

I fully understand the worries and concerns of the Neo-Malthusian crowd. However, I assert that this crowd is unmistakably wrong. And its misguided thoughts about “stopping the world I want to get off” are harmful to the endeavor of making the world a better place for everyone.

Let me finish with an endorsement quote:

By contrast (to the doomsday prophets) the prophets of abundance, who insist that no crisis is looming, get little media coverage. They are irrepressibly, sometimes irritatingly, optimistic. So far, they have also almost always been right.
The Economist, Dirt Poor, March 21st 1998.

Merry Christmas

Karl Iver Dahl-Madsen

Friday, 22 December 2006

Growth is Good

The gardener and the farmer know the joy of seeing flowers blooming and crops maturing. The parent feels happy observing the child gaining weight and height. The teacher loves growing the minds of his pupils. The business man enjoys increasing turnover and surplus.

So whats the big deal? why are there so many opponents to growth? and why are so many scared of the future?

The first answer may be that growth is disruptive. It changes the world radically, and for some people change is hard, particularly if they are not involved in the decisions of change. However, change is necessary. We can not make the world a better place without constant change. And the inquisitive human mind would be bored to death under stagnating conditions.

The second answer may be the false malthusian assumption about material limits to growth. There are sufficient energy and resources available for a much higher human population (10-100 billion people) on Earth living affluent lives, the only real physical constraint being area. If we look to space there are no real limits to growth on a universal timescale. The neo-malthusians are plainly wrong and their views harmful to building an affluent world for all people.

Let's wish for a 2007 with continued high material and spiritual growth.