We have reached a moment where the Earth is full. This is not a philosophical statement; this is just science based in physics, chemistry and biology. There are many science based analyses and they all draw the same conclusion, we are living beyond our means. Scientists calculate that we need about 1.5 Earth‘s to sustain this economy.
In other words, to keep operating at our current level, we need 50% more Earth than we have got. In financial terms, this would be like always spending 50% more than you earn, going further into debt every year. But of course, you can’t borrow natural resources, so we are burning through our capital, or stealing from the future.
Economic growth has limits. Belief in infinite growth on a finite planet was always irrational, but it is the nature of denial to ignore hard evidence. Now denial is evaporating, even in the financial markets. Despite this emerging understanding, the growth concept is so deeply in our thinking that we will keep pushing economic growth as hard as we can, at whatever cost is required.
The crisis will be big, it will be soon, and it will be economic, not environmental. Oil and food prices are approaching record highs and even a recession can’t slow this down. What we are facing is not a few bad years of slow growth like this past recession, but a fundamental shift, the end of cheap resources and an environment in a state of collapse.
The crisis will be global and will manifest as the end of economic growth, thereby striking at the very heart of our model of Human progress. Humanity may be slow, but we are not stupid. Get ready for the great disruption.