I support population and technology, if they support human flourishing, which is why I use less than ever

October 13, 2023 by Joshua
in Nature

I love people and I love technology. Nobody wants ten billion people enjoying all the technology they want as comfortably and conveniently as they want more than I do. If we do it, we must do it sustainably if we want to avoid collapse, and unfortunately, we are not on that path to do it.

If such a future is possible, it’s tempting to keep living as we do and hope someone will make each unsustainable part sustainable. Many of us hope we’ll replace fossil fuels with solar and wind, plastic with something biodegradable, deforestation with vertical farms, and so on. Yet each of these substitutions instead leads to greater consumption—solar panels require more batteries; wind turbines require additional development; and on and on.

What can work is first to change to sustainability, then allow innovation, entrepreneurship, and human ingenuity to keep improving our lives, just always staying sustainable. That order means that if you think we’ll one day be able to fly sustainably, then we can fly, but since we can’t now, stopping now, until we can do it sustainably. Flying unsustainably is just about the worst way to make sustainable flying possible. Stopping unsustainable flying will create incentives, it’s the fastest, most effective way to make flying sustainable. Same with any other unsustainable technology that might one day become sustainable.

Exceptions may arise. Humanity may choose to undertake unsustainable projects like going to Mars. If so, we can choose to do so democratically, allowing people adversely affected by pollution, being displaced from their land to access resources, and so on a vote.

Again, in the meantime, the worst way to develop new, sustainable technology is to keep funding the old, polluting technology. That is, if we believe we can fly across oceans sustainably, the worst way to develop technology for it is to keep flying jet fuel-powered planes. Continuing unsustainable practices stifles innovation, keeps lowering Earth’s ability to sustain life, accelerates the collision, increases our internal conflict, and accelerates our vicious cycle. We benefit from changing to live sustainability, however much we’ve convinced ourselves otherwise. We benefit from practicing the basics.

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