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ALL ISLANDS HAVE LIMITS

Question the sanity of perpetual growth.


The picture below should make it clear that our planet is subject to physical limits. Although this is obvious at first glance, fringe economists like the late Julian Simon have convinced some people that a finite world can support infinite growth. We are told that the human mind is the "ultimate resource" and that Man is free from the physical constraints of the Earth's crust. Such infinite-abundance theories defy common sense and promote wasteful behavior. These superficially-appealing fantasies must be challenged until everyone is dealing with reality.

* Historical proof of what happens when limits are ignored

If the island concept doesn't register, envision the Earth as a collection of puzzle pieces, each represented by a geographical boundary. For example, California is finite, Texas is finite, Great Britain is finite, Nigeria is finite, India is finite, Japan is finite, and so on. Since each piece of the Earth's surface (including oceans) can only support limited growth, the whole planet follows the same rule when the pieces are joined.

Some people treat foreign resources or "emerging markets" as mysterious reservoirs for endless wealth, but this is easily debunked by visiting those places and measuring their actual content. Their natives might see your homeland (e.g. traffic-clogged, drought-stricken California) as their savior, but on arrival they realize that millions of others are grabbing the same resources. All nations combined have a finite number of Peters to borrow from and too many Pauls to pay back.

It's fine to have psychological hope, but the notion of endless greener pastures in a physical sense needs to be abandoned. The distant prospect of mining or colonizing other planets is an escapist fantasy. Live within the limits of where you are, otherwise you're just perpetuating the current mess. Of course, this assumes that people want to deal with reality, which is debatable, considering the popularity of drugs, booze, religion and pyramid schemes.

If you're still not convinced, here is yet another way to look at it.


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