New Scifi Book which explores what the world is like (in the future) if we sort it out

Is this something which might be interesting for the Lab? If yes I can reach out to Sharon and see if she wants to join in on the fun :slight_smile:


Hi, Nadia-

This looks interesting; however, I have some reservations (as ever – this is one of the reasons why economists are called practitioners of the “dismal science”). This book seems, from the reference to the William Rees article “Is Humanity Fatally Successful?”, to fall squarely within the field of Neo-Malthusian writers, represented most famously by 1968’s “The Population Bomb” by Paul Ehrlich and 1972’s “The Limits to Growth” by The Club of Rome. Those books were seen as landmarks by sustainability advocates, and by economists mostly as bad jokes. There is a famous bet by business professor Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich about whether increasing resource use would lead to an increase in commodities prices by the year 2000 – of course Ehrlich lost badly. I am quite favorable toward an improvement in human interaction with the environment, but I cannot in good conscience ignore such practical considerations – many advocates find this attitude off-putting.

So st this point I tend to ask what the author/activist’s position is toward economists’ critiques of the approach of many ecologists – that they are romantics first, and that the predictions of the demise of civilization that they often make are, as Mark Twain quipped about reports of his death, “greatly exaggerated”. Malthus has been… I would not say “wrong”, but rather “not so far right” for 222 years – which is pretty dismal.

Certainly there is no question in my mind that society evolves, and that technology evolves to solve various problems, including those of the cost of resources (and so far more relevantly, the cost of pollution). Humanity reaches for improvements in human lives; mostly in physical conditions so far, but also increasingly, as the world becomes wealthier and more technologically adept, some, not many so far, search for a better relationship with the creatures that also inhabit our beleaguered planet.

As I have mentioned, I think, on the chicken-and-egg scale, that human society and attitudes would need to change first, and technology afterwards – otherwise, how could we be willing to make the steps needed to live differently? So far, the people that we have are not so eager, outside a few pockets in Europe and West-Coast America and a few other places, to live in a more accommodating way with this world. But perhaps those pockets will expand. One can hope. Perhaps this book will point to some ideas about solutions.My general feeling is that talk may or may not lead somewhere, but no talk will lead nowhere.

I love Simonova’s sand animations.

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didn’t read the spoilers and just got it for my Kindle!