Essay on Irresponsible Overuse of Finite Global Resources

Essay on Irresponsible Overuse of Finite Global Resources

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Our current global economy would make Dracula proud. Since 1800, the global population has increased sevenfold. This mind-boggling increase has come at the cost of sucking more and more non-renewable, or fossil, resources from the earth. This exponential expansion comes from improvements on the way we drain finite resources from the earth, and is unsustainable. Due to the economic sleight of hand of externalities, the cost of using these finite, unsustainable resources is not correctly felt in market prices. Market prices don't reflect investments that need to be made into sources of renewable energy. The global economy is recklessly and heedlessly overdrawing irreplaceable resources from the environment, while subsidizing the externalities envolved to the earth's population and environment. Ignoring this irreversible draining of the planet's finite resources through externalizing cost is intergenerational betrayal at its basest.

Over the past 150 years, food production per capita has increased steadily, allowing populations to increase and urban population to swell. This movement away from self-produced food empowers people to specialize. Once a family no longer needs to worry about providing its members with sustenance, it is able to employ its energies in a broader range of activities. There are many benefits to a more specialized populace, such an increased GDP per capita, industrial innovation, and lifespan. Civilization, in a word. However, this massive expansion comes at the cost of increased use of fossil (non-renewable) resources.

Throughout most of the Middle East, Northern China, and the American Midwest, the overwhelming increase in food productivity comes from overdrawing from water tables that are bei...


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...es with a price not addressed on the price tag. Air quality and CO2 emissions are externalities that have an enormous impact on the environment and health. In the northwestern industrial city of Benxi, smoke from burning coal shrouds the city, giving the residents the worst rate of lung disease in the country, and occasionally making the city disappear from satellite scans.

Externalities must be addressed if our global economy is to survive. It is all fine and dandy to maximize our current global production, but if it leads to a catastrophic meltdown when resources run out, I cannot bring myself to enjoy the brief prosperity. Irresponsible overuse of finite resources is a kind of generational injustice leagues beyond the tragedy of genocide, since it will force a return to brutal, nasty and short lives, if humanity survives this sanguinary practice at all.

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