What to do? Is business blowing up the earth? ◦ and if so, what can/should we do about it? ◦ Can the average person benefit from business growth? Man-made greenhouse gases such as CO2 can (and to at least some extent do) cause atmospheric warming Most Ph.D. climate scientists believe the current trend would produce disaster A few equally qualified scientists disagree sharply Today’s climate management programs are far too weak to control warming in mainstream models Government-mandated change that the mainstream models encourage might have serious negative effects on the economy ◦ But Silicon Valley would be a winner Today progress is disgustingly slow by measures based on mainstream science ◦ But wastefully aggressive according to skeptics Maybe we can clarify our minds by looking at a bigger picture Unfortunately, much of it isn’t pretty They don’t point to other disasters as big, immediate, and dramatic as global warming scientists predict But the variety of major human impacts suggests we have serious problems There does seem to be enough time and technology to address most of these problems if today’s activism is the start of long-term efforts But what does the path to a stable and still-wondrous world environment look like? ◦ No one – certainly no business spokesperson – has a credible answer “We have created a regime of perpetual ecological disturbance, as if we had organized a grand global plot to do in species less cagey than ourselves “But we are not so clever as that. The regime of perpetual disturbance is an accidental byproduct of billions of human ambitions and efforts” - McNeil, p. xxiv The news isn’t all bad, but it shows how much human impact is worsening things. ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Earth’s skin of soil Earth’s outer shell of rock Waters on and near the earth’s surface Atmosphere Biosphere – the ‘community’ of all living things The most advanced change ◦ We use at least 150 million tons of inorganic fertilizer ◦ Most isn’t consumed by plants, so ends up as pollutants ◦ Intensity of cultivation causes erosion, makes land unusable ◦ Manufacturing, mining, military work also render land unusable The area ‘degraded’ by human action is 2 billion hectares - about equal to the area of the U.S. and Canada ◦ 430 million hectares (1.66 million sq. miles) has been ‘irreversibly destroyed’ by erosion – about 7 times as large as Texas Vast quantities of pollutants Many (sulfer, nitrogen oxides, soot) have been controlled during periods of economic growth ◦ From the 1960s, politicians campaigned for pollution control ◦ Businesses invented ways to do it at reasonable cost ◦ Air pollution declined dramatically in developed countries But in the majority of places it still is likely to be getting worse Globalization of air pollution is much greater after 1950 ◦ Particulates (soot) killed 300,000 to 700,000 a year in cities annually in the 1990s 10s of millions killed by contamination Mercury from factories such as at Minamata, Japan Diseases from urbanization affecting water sources Dams, etc., enable us to consume about 17% of the earth’s freshwater run-off This produces much food, electric power But about 10% of irrigated land is now affected by salinity that accumulates in irrigated systems Today the amount of land abandoned due to salinity, etc., is about equal to the amount opened by new irrigation projects Asteroid impacts caused disappearance of species at rates comparable to today We’re pumping aquifers faster than rain percolates into them Countries seem to be taking land out of international trade without real plans for how to use it effectively Except possibly for soil on a large area of earth, most of the earth’s endowment of natural features is not yet ruined Extinctions since 1600 are very fast by evolutionary standards, but only 484 animals, 654 plants of 14 million species are known to be gone ◦ Most extinctions are on islands or in freshwater lakes ◦ Larger creatures are going faster – 1% of mammals & birds went extinct 1900 to 1995 He glorifies activists (mostly anti-business), but doesn’t mention Soichiro Honda’s crucial work on low pollution engines, for instance Predicts we can’t feed 9.2 billion people expected by 2050, insists we need to limit population to 8 billion (just 17% more than today!) Cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020 ◦ 12 years from when he wrote! Stabilize population at 8 billion or lower ‘Eradicate poverty’ ‘Restore the earth’s natural systems’ Advocates many changes in market mechanisms ◦ ‘total cost’ of gasoline is $15 a gallon including environmental impact, so require that drivers by charged that much Much top down planning ◦ ‘Adopt wind power like we adopted PCs’ Brown’s approach would create lots of jobs for Silicon Valley MBAs and engineering managers!!