Throughout this fascinating hour and a half SFU-sponsored discssion, Dr. Bill Rees, the founder of the “eco-footprint” concept, poses the question: Can the world really support the future population? Drawing on well-researched ecological, historical and sociological evidence, Rees suggests that the combination of human nature, technology and access to cheap fossil fuels has led to “a four-fold compounding of human numbers in just a hundred years.”
“What we have become accustomed to – this inordinate period of growth – is the single most abnormal period in the history of humankind. There has never been anything like it,” Rees told the audience at SFU Harbour Centre last month.
With human demand for resources fast outstripping supply, can the world address issues like poverty in developing nations and accommodating a further predicted 2.5 billion people by 2050 – all while reducing total consumption of energy and materials to sustainable levels?
In this must-watch presentation, Rees calls for “a new cultural narrative that shifts the values of society from growth (getting bigger) to development (getting better) – from competitive individualism, greed and narrow self-interest toward community, cooperation and our collective interests in repairing the earth for survival. We need to begin to exercise those uniquely human qualities of high intelligence, forward planning and moral judgement.”
“Why should we do this? Because we’ve reached the point in the history of our species where our individual interests have essentially converged with our collective interests. No individual, no nation can be sustainable on its own in a world entrained in climate change, ocean acidification and a dozen other trends. We need to come together to exercise our almost infinite capacity for cooperative arrangement to solve these problems is ways is which all of us can survive into the future.”
Rees sees the “contraction of the human enterprise” by conscious choice, deliberate planning and working together as the only logical conclusion – resulting in a “well-planned, orderly and cooperative descent toward a sustainable, steady-state economy of sufficiency for all. It’s just a question of whether we have the intelligence and the capacity to plan together to live within nature’s capacity.”