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It’s pretty fair to say that the environment is not on the agenda, at least compared to a few years ago. Both opinion polls about what issues most concern people, and in the Government’s programme, no one is speaking up for the planet’s wellbeing anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the problem has gone away.
Though environmental wellness only gets a mention here and there in politicians’ speeches, the evidence in the scientific journal articles continues to build up. Carbon concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise – being soon to hit 400 ppm – and the weather has certainly become more and more peculiar. Not only does this have implications for the planet physically, and for human health and wellness, but all economies depend on metals, fuels, land, water.
This means that, if our resources run out and ecosystems collapse, our economies will follow, and quickly. If you’re not concerned about the environment now, you soon will be when economic stagnation or decline hits public services and living standards. This concept was clearly outlined in a 1972 study, known as The Limits to Growth, which uncannily closely predicted how things have turned out so far between 1972 and today. The book’s graphs show that GDP, GDP per head and population have continued to rise, bringing with them unsurprising impacts on the environment and resources.
So it seems that now is a good time to revisit the issues raised by The Limits to Growth, and produce another computer model of the interrelationships between economy, environment, and resources. Now researchers have an increased amount of data, improved understanding of much of the science, and greatly enhanced computing power, who knows what projections may follow from such an analysis today? Luckily, the Global Sustainability Institute, based in Cambridge at Anglia Ruskin University, has undertaken this research project.
The researchers have commented that they are not only looking at the global picture, however, but also at what may happen in specific countries, and at the international relations implications. Some countries are likely to get to their limits before others do, which is something the 1972 study didn’t investigate. The researchers added that they intend to be more sophisticated in their analysis of resource depletion, looking at the forces driving materials prices.