Development and sustainability questions
Your questions and answers
- The earth
- How large is the planet?
- What is the surface available for human life?
- Is there any realistic chance for humans to find refuge on another planet?
- Agriculture and food
- Is industrial agriculture sustainable, i.e. can it be maintained over a long period of time?
- What happens to agricultural output when liquid fuels are becoming scarce after the onset of peak oil?
- Biodiversity and wildlife
- How many years will it take for all rainforests to be destroyed, at present cautting rates?
- Do we know which animal or plant is indispensible to maintain the web of life?
- How much of the sun's photosynthesis may humankind appropriate before rapid collapse of other life form starts? Presently we use approx. half of all biocapacity (Vitousek).
- Climate change
- Why do some people and companies still doubt that climate change is man-made?
- Given that the burning of fossil fuels is one main cause for climate change; it it wise to search for more and faster exploitation of reserves?
- Which percentage of the CO2 emissions can realistically be capped and stored?
- Can the effects of climate change be "mitigated"?
- Will the effects of climate change predominently hit the poor regions of the planet?
- What happens in the rich areas if torrential rainfalls hit the rich regions, where glaciers are disappearing and the permafrost melting?
- GMOs - Genetically Modified Organisms
- Are they necessary to feed the world?
- Will increased crop sizes per acre need increased soil fertilisation?
- Can we hope to continue increasing crop output by genetic engineering in line with expected population increases?
- Do genetically engineered food crops really produce higher harvests?
- When have we had sufficient economic growth?
- Can economic growth be immaterial - growth being universally measured in monetary units of GDP increase per annum?
- Fossil fuels
- For how many years do the reserves last at present consumption?
- Do the discoveries of new fossil fuel reserves meet the consumption level?
- Can oil and natural gas be replaced by alternative fuels?
- How can we know who is right: the IEA or the alternative scientists?
Total world oil "production" predicted to be available by 2030:
- International Energy Agency: 116m b/d
- Energy Watch Group: 39m b/d
Does this include shale oil and tar sands sources?
- Pollution and Wastes
- Is there a limit to wastes?
- Must we fear total toxification by man-made chemicals
- Would it be better to stop population growth before we are at the theoretical and/or practrical limit of sustainability?
- What is the population size that would not overburden the planet?
- Is this an acceptable definition?
Sustainability means that resources are used no faster than their replenishment by nature.
Non-renewable resources must be recycled.
- Do seemingly abundant water flows represent a "surplus" that can be diverted to areas with scarce water supplies without disturbing natural balances?
- How many people depend to what extent on non-renewable groundwater streams?