Robert Maxwell wrote:
Are you just not understanding that the explosive growth we've experienced over the past couple centuries is not sustainable?
It depends entirely on the exploitation of finite fossil fuels. Even the most optimistic scenarios tell us that we will have to see dramatic population reductions, drastic cutbacks in consumption (both in energy and physical resources), and a general slowdown of growth. These are not things we will choose, they will simply happen as a consequence of a) running out of fossil fuels and b) getting off of them to halt the damage of climate change. If we don't do b), then a) will happen. It's really a question of whether we want to make a gradual transition to a more sustainable way of living, or hit a brick wall and have to pick up the pieces after a catastrophic collapse.
It is naive to think we will <tech> our way around this. The period of time spanning the Industrial Revolution up to now is unprecedented in human history. We don't know what will happen going forward, but it is inarguable that we are exhausting our planet's limited resources: we are destroying biodiversity, we are (perhaps irreversibly) altering the global climate, running out of fresh water sources, running out of oil, running out of phosphates, etc. etc. We do not have
the resources to continue along this path, and the impression I get from Singularity advocates is that they think we will handwave these problems away by reaching the Singularity before our energy and resource problems come to a head.
There are ways around these issues mentioned here in this thread, at length...
Also mentioned in my new signature...added before I read your post!
The full quote:
None of the global warming discussions mention the word “nanotechnology.” Yet nanotechnology will eliminate the need for fossil fuels within 20 years. If we captured 1% of 1% of the sunlight (1 part in 10,000) we could meet 100% of our energy needs without ANY fossil fuels. We can’t do that today because the solar panels are too heavy, expensive, and inefficient. But there are new nanoengineered designs that are much more effective. Within five to six years, this technology will make a significant contribution. Within 20 years, it can provide all of our energy needs. The discussions talk about current trends continuing for the next century as if nothing is going to change. I think global warming is real but it has been modest thus far - 1 degree f. in 100 years. It would be concern if that continued or accelerated for a long period of time, but that’s not going to happen. And it’s not just environmental concern that will drive this, the $2 trillion we spend on energy is providing plenty of economic incentive. I don’t see any disasters occuring in the next 10 years from this. However, I AM concerned about other environment issues. There are other reasons to want to move quickly away from fossil fuels including environmental pollution at every step and the geopolitical instability it causes.
Again, like many of my examples, not pie-in-the-sky, but very real...there are two examples in this article:
Also, as in my example about solar power's competitiveness with traditional fossil fuels I mentioned in the top 5 technologies thread I just linked to, the price went down 80%!: