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10 global challenges the world will face in the next 25 years – according to

A bit too broad for any existing topic that I can find.

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As I see it 7 out of 10 come down to altering attitudes about sustainability. That is accepting the view that if the human race wants to be here in the long term it is high time we acted like it and decided to achieve balance with the rest of the world. We need to make plans that deal with consequences of there being billions of us instead of pretending the earth is an infinite resource to be populated and reaped that will somehow survive unchanged whatever we do to it.

This is a social and political problem. Solving it may be aided by compatible engineering but if viewed purely as an engineering problem the solutions are far too likely to continue the conquer and exploit mentality which is certain to fail. Why is this? Because too many such solutions rely on extracting greater resource supply and say nothing about curbing demand. On a finite earth all this does is to keep people eating, procreating and polluting a bit longer while they watch the inevitable march to collapse.

Let me try a small thought experiment that is about exponential growth. Assume that material resource needs keep pace with economic growth and that GDP is a good measure of the latter. Also assume that prosperity reigns and world GDP continues to grow without pause. Let us say growth is always right in the middle of the Australian reserve bank prefered range of between 2 and 3 % PA, ie 2.5%. Under those conditions how long will it take for the resource needs of the world to double?

I know this is a huge oversimplification of the world economy. We can argue about whether the assumptions are reasonable and whether the whole thing is at all realistic. But that is not the point. The point is to quickly estimate what it means if we go on like we are now and if the ideal of never ending economic growth is actually achieved.

Please write down your answer in years before scrolling down.
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28 years. Every 28 years resource demand would double, so in 56 years it is 4 times, 84 years it is 8 times, 112 years 16 times … etc. So tell me how it will be business as usual for our descendants if in a bit over a century they will need 16 times the resources we use today?

This process is called reductio ad absurdum - reduce to absurdity. The predicted outcome simply cannot be right, so one (or more) of the assumptions must be wrong. Which ones?

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