Humanity isn’t going to survive very much longer the way we are currently living. With the continued population explosion on top of an already massive population and with increasingly high standard of living being acquired by this enormous population the Earth’s resources will soon fail. This resource failure is impossible to predict although Paul Ehrlich did make an attempt several years ago which fortunately proved premature. The usual projections into the future by other similar minded organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are usually looking at only a single dimension of the problem. In that well publicized global warming case the climate is the single issue but this panel tends to ignore other obvious positive feedback loops which clearly will gravely exacerbate the problems which they claim to be studying. Clearly if the population doubles in forty years and redoubles again in another forty years the amount of coal and oil burned will skyrocket far beyond their overly simple predictions. If the CO2 already in the atmosphere is melting the glaciers and it will take hundreds of years to clear it out, even if there is no more put in, then quite obviously the water supply of most of the world’s farms will be compromised. When the soil and water are ruined then it will be much more difficult to feed the vastly increased world population and there will be famines and a population collapse.
TA DA !!! Craig Venter to the rescue! I believe Venter’s opening the doors to the creation of new species and thus the ability of these new creations to provide even more human abundance will add tremendously to how many people the Earth can support. At least for a short while. It is virtually certain that there are many ways which will soon be found to manipulate living organisms to do marvelous things. If one is in the field of Genetic Engineering there are obviously new doors opening up at present which will probably prove to be even more amazing than the computer revolution of the last thirty years. What needs to be done and perforce must be done is called Geoengineering which will be forcing the Earth to be even more habitable for humans. That will be the initial goal and these new methods of manipulating life forms will soon lead to little creatures, such as the new single celled Mycoplasma venterium, to do their best to help us humans live better. Single cell plants and animals will probably be among the first to go to work in this new role of new species working to serve human bidding and permitting more humans to populate the Earth.
There are many Geoengineering projects being contemplated for intentionally manipulating the Earth but with even the discussion of these possibilities comes a mass of moral whining about the ethics of such projects. I use a pejorative term whining because there is a huge amount of geoengineering taking place right now and most people are the beneficiaries of it, at least in the short run. Burning fossil fuel is the biggest geoengineering project at present, which puts a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere and generates considerable ineffective whining. But there are some efforts going on to pump CO2 into sandstone repositories deep under ground and there is just as much whining about that because it might escape in 10000 years. Thus these positive things which help but don’t make money for anyone will progress very slowly, if at all, while those extremely polluting things which do make money will surge forward.
Geoengineering for a more sustainable Earth is an uphill battle because it costs money locally to try to make the whole planet more habitable while people who abuse the environment locally make more money but degrade the whole planet. We are doomed, until those positive feedback cycles can be reversed and it becomes more profitable locally to help the environment rather than exploit it.
In the present world everything will continue to be degraded until only the exploiters survive and everyone else is dead.