Ethanol and biofuels have been hailed as a panacea that would substantially reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. According to recent reports, however, they are now found to risk doing far more harm than good by actually increasing, rather than reducing, greenhouse gas emissions.
It is now generally recognized that ethanol and biofuels are not the answer to the urgent need to drastically reduce greenhouse gases. Researchers have calculated that converting natural systems to grow corn or sugar cane to produce ethanol, or palms or soybeans for biodiesel, could release between 17 and 420 times more carbon than the annual savings from replacing fossil fuels.
The broad lesson to be drawn from this new awareness, is that science and technology, while essential, cannot alone enable us to create a sustainable economy. Technical and scientific advances must be accompanied by a halt to population growth, followed by a gradual reduction in population size so that demand for material and energy can be reduced to a sustainable level.
As Albert A. Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of Physics, University of Colorado at Boulder, has stated, we live in a world of limits. "Few are willing to recognize that we live in a world of limits...It's easy and pleasant to think that the future will be just an extension of the past, only bigger. It's also easy to believe the 'experts' who assure us that market forces will solve future problems. Since market forces got us into our present precarious position, it seems unreasonable to expect that market forces will somehow solve these problems...Many people believe that science and technology will remove the limits. We have been using the best available science and technology for decades and we are still falling behind in trying to solve the problems brought on by population growth."
The most critical problem confronting mankind is how to create an economy that will be sustainable indefinitely, in a sound and healthy environment, with an adequate standard of living for all. We at NPG, together with many scientists and environmentalists, believe that creating such a sustainable economy would be impossible with a world population that exceeds one to two billion.
World population, now over six billion, is expected to reach nine billion or more by midcentury. The result of such growth would be economic and environmental disaster, and we must do all in our power to prevent it from happening. We need to first halt and then reverse world population growth, and doing so would require a below replacement level fertility rate for the next several decades. To achieve that would be extremely difficult, (family size would have to be limited to not more than two children per couple) but not impossible.
1.Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis
2.The Cairo Conference on Population and Development
3.A No-Growth, Steady-State Economy Must Be Our Goal
4.The Steady-State Economy: What It Is, Why We Need It
5.An Essay on a Sustainable Economy