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The Infinite Resource - Growing Prosperity While Reducing Impact on the Earth

What are the limits of growth on the Earth? Can we increase our prosperity while saving out planet? Ramez Naam argues that knowledge is our ultimate resource, innovation our ultimate creator of prosperity. With examples across agriculture, energy, water, and more, Naam argues that we have tremendous headroom to grow prosperity, IF we make the right choices in aligning that growth with the best interests of our world as a whole.

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The Infinite Resource - Growing Prosperity While Reducing Impact on the Earth

  1. The Infinite ResourceGrowing Prosperity on a Finite Planet<br />Ramez Naam@ramez<br />
  2. It was the best of times, <br />It was the worst of times<br />
  3. It was the age of wisdom, <br />It was the age of foolishness, <br />It was the spring of hope, <br />It was the winter of despair, <br />We had everythingbefore us, <br />We had nothingbefore us.<br />
  4. Unprecedented Prosperity<br />Unprecedented Opportunity<br />Unprecedented Risk<br />
  5. Possible to Prosper Like Never Before<br />With LESS Negative Impact<br />Possible != Assured<br />Important Changes Needed<br />
  6. Best of times<br />
  7. Population<br />
  8. LONGER LIVES<br />
  9. LESS POVERTY<br />
  10. MORE FOOD PER PERSON<br />
  11. FEWER MALNOURISHED<br />
  12. More Access to Electricity<br />
  13. RISING EDUCATION<br />
  14. DROPPING ILLITERACY<br />
  15. HIGHER LITERACY<br />
  16. HIGHER HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX<br />
  17. MORE DEMOCRACY<br />
  18. GREATER EQUALITY<br />
  19. GREATER EQUALITY<br />
  20. Worst of times<br />
  21. Welcome to the Anthropocene<br />
  22. ACIDIFICATION HITS THE BOTTOM OF THE FOOD CHAIN<br />
  23. HIGH ACIDIFICATION WOULD WIPE OUT CORALS<br />
  24. Fish Stocks Crashed or Overexploited<br />
  25. Depleted Fisheries<br />
  26. Fish Tons Per Unit Effort<br />
  27. Species Loss<br />
  28. Peak Oil: Projections<br />
  29. PROSPERITY BUILT ON OVERCONSUMPTION<br />
  30. SOME SAY: GROWTH MUST STOP<br />
  31. Halting growth has a cost<br />
  32. RAISING GLOBAL HEALTH REQUIRES GROWING ENERGY AND ECONOMIES<br />
  33. TODAY<br />GLOBAL TRADE $ ARE 10x GLOBAL MILITARY $<br />US TRADE $ ARE 5x US MILITARY $<br />CHINA, US, EU, INDIA, CAN ALL GROW SIMULTANEOUSLY<br />
  34. IN A ZERO SUM WORLD<br />ONE NATION’S GAIN IS ANOTHER’S LOSS<br />WAR BECOMES MORE PROFITABLE THAN TRADE<br />NATIONS WILL FIGHT OVER SCRAPS<br /> NOT WHAT WE WANT<br />
  35. FORTUNATELY…<br />
  36. Not new predictions<br />
  37. THE POPULATION BOMB<br />“The war to feed humanity is over… Billions will die”<br />MASSIVE FAMINES PREDICTED FOR 1970s<br />
  38. THE LIMITS TO GROWTH (1972)<br />MASSIVE ECONOMIC AND POPULATION COLLAPSE PREDICTED FOR 1992<br />
  39. THOMAS MALTHUS<br />PREDICTED MASSIVE FAMINE AND DIE-OFF FOR THE 1800s<br />
  40. ALL THESE PREDICTIONS WERE WRONG<br />
  41. MISSING INGREDIENT<br />
  42. INNOVATION<br />
  43. GROWTH IN USEFUL KNOWLEDGE<br />
  44. KNOWLEDGE: ULTIMATE RESOURCE<br />INFINITELY RE-USABLE<br />GROWS RATHER THAN BEING DEPLETED<br />NON-RIVAL<br />REDUCES NEED FOR OR MULTIPLIES VALUE OF:<br />Energy, Materials, Land, Labor, Time<br />All Physical Resource<br />
  45. OUTPUT = INPUTS x KNOWLEDGE MULTIPLIER<br />
  46. EXAMPLE : FOOD PRODUCTION<br />FIRST & MOST IMPORTANT ENERGY TECHNOLOGY<br />HISTORY HAS SHOWN:<br />More Food Per Unit Land (via Innovation)<br />Reduced Ecological Footprint Per Person<br />
  47. Worldwide Grain Yields Per Hectare<br />
  48. EATING OIL?<br />
  49. NO: TREND IS 12,000 YEARS OLD<br />
  50. SINCE LONG BEFORE FERTILIZER<br />
  51. Earliest Scratch Farming<br />1 ,000,000 m^2 / person<br />Hunter Gatherer Societies~10,000,000 m^2 / person<br />Irrigated Farming: 26,000 m^2<br />Roman Empire: 13,000 m^2<br />Late Middle Ages: 8,500 m^2<br />US Farming in 1900: 6,000 m^2 <br />US Farming in 1960: 2,800 m^2<br />US Farming in 2000: 1,200 m^2<br />
  52. LAND REQUIRED TO FEED A HUMAN HAS SHRUNK BY 10,000x<br />
  53. LABOR PRICE OF LIGHTWORK HOURS PER 1,000 LUMEN HOURS<br />
  54. LIGHT / UNIT ENERGY: UP 500x IN 150 YEARS<br />
  55. WE USE LESS OIL PER PERSON THAN 1970<br />
  56. LESS WATER PER CAPITA THAN 1970<br />
  57. WE EMIT LESS CO2 / CAPITA THAN 1980<br />
  58. POPULATION WILL PLATEU & DECLINE<br />
  59. CO2 PER $ OF GDP IS SHRINKINGCHINA IS CATCHING UP USING WESTERN TECHNOLOGY<br />
  60. KNOWLEDGE CAN AND DOES REPLACE PHYSICAL RESOURCES<br />
  61. What are the limits?<br />
  62. 14 SECONDS OF INSOLATION<br />
  63. = 1 DAY OF HUMANITY’S ENERGY USE<br />
  64. 88 MINUTES OF INSOLATION<br />
  65. = 1 YEAR OF HUMANITY’S ENERGY USE<br />
  66. 0.3% of Earth’s Land Area Could Power Humanity in 2030 at 14% efficiency.<br />1/100th the Area Used for Agriculture Today<br />
  67. SOLAR MOORE’S LAW: -7% $$/WATT EACH YEAR<br />
  68. Algae Based Biofuels<br />
  69. DARPA: $5 / GALLON BIO-KEROSINE IN 2013<br />
  70. Fresh Water<br />
  71. FARM PRODUCTIVITY : LARGE VARIANCE<br />
  72. US YIELDS REPRESENT 2X UPSIDEUS-STYLE FARMING COULD DOUBLE TOTAL WORLD FOOD<br />
  73. MOVE RICE & OTHER C3 CROPS  C4 PHOTOSYNTHESIS ~30% YIELD INCREASES<br />
  74. 13%<br />
  75. PHOTOSYNTHETIC LIMIT OF FOOD IS VAST<br />1200 m^2 / person on earth with best farming today<br />31 m^2 / person at 13% efficiency(with an American diet)<br />6 m^2 / person at 13% efficiency(with a vegetarian diet)<br />
  76. RETURNING LAND TO NATURE<br />Increased Yields = Less Land Per Person<br />Population Will Peak at < 10 Billion<br />Opportunity: Return Millions of km^2 to Forest<br />
  77. Fish Farming vs. Fish Hunting<br />
  78. INCREDIBLE GROWTH IS POSSIBLE<br />Natural Resources are Huge:<br />Energy<br />Water<br />Food Limits<br />Materials<br />Innovation Can Tap Into Them with Less and Less Impact on the World<br />
  79. POSSIBLE != CERTAIN<br />
  80. CHALLENGE: A BUG IN OUR SOFTWARE<br />
  81. MARKET ECONOMICS<br />The “Software” That Runs Our Society<br />Incredibly Successful<br />Has Outcompeted All Other Systems<br />Aligns Individual Incentives with Overall Desires<br />Rewards Innovation<br />A Darwinian Ecosystem For New Ideas<br />But One Key Bug…<br />
  82. EXTERNALITIES<br />
  83. EXTERNALITY<br />THINGS WE CARE ABOUT<br />THINGS THE MARKET CAN MANAGE(THINGS WITH PRICES, OWNERS, BUYERS, SELLERS)<br />
  84. EXTERNALITY<br />THINGS WE CARE ABOUT<br />THINGS THE MARKET CAN MANAGE(A WIDER VARIETY THAN TODAY)<br />THINGS THE MARKET CAN MANAGE(THINGS WITH PRICES, OWNERS, BUYERS, SELLERS)<br />
  85. $$$<br />
  86. A CARBON TAX<br />Creates Incentives for:<br />Conservation & Efficiency<br />Alternative Energy Use and R&D<br />Sequestration of Carbon from Atmosphere<br />
  87. WHAT WOULD IT COST?<br />ENOUGH TO HIT A TIPPING POINT<br />Cheaper to Pull Carbon From the Air than the Ground<br />Cheaper to Build Solar than Coal Immediately<br />Cheap Enough We Could Remedy Externalities<br />
  88. WHAT WOULD IT COST?<br />$50 - $100 / Ton of CO2e<br />=<br />$.50 - $1.00 / gallon of gasoline<br />$.05 - $.10 / kilowatt hour of coal electricity<br />Phased in Over 10 Years<br />
  89. WE’VE FIXED GLOBAL COMMONS BEFORE<br />
  90. WE’VE FIXED GLOBAL COMMONS BEFORE<br />
  91. REQUIRES COOPERATION & DISCIPLINE<br />
  92. WE CAN DO IT AGAIN<br />
  93. WE MUST FIX OUR SYSTEM<br />
  94. WE MUST END EXTERNALITIES<br />
  95. IF WE FAIL TO ACT<br />
  96. MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES<br />
  97. GROWTH CAN CONTINUE<br />
  98. BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS<br />
  99. OUR GREATEST RESOURCE<br />
  100. Ramez Naam@ramez<br />
  101. For More Like This, Click Below:Follow @Ramez on TwitterVisit unbridledspeculation.comContact mez@morethanhuman.org<br />

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What are the limits of growth on the Earth? Can we increase our prosperity while saving out planet? Ramez Naam argues that knowledge is our ultimate resource, innovation our ultimate creator of prosperity. With examples across agriculture, energy, water, and more, Naam argues that we have tremendous headroom to grow prosperity, IF we make the right choices in aligning that growth with the best interests of our world as a whole.

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