No Sustainability Without Intensification

Ted Nordhaus in The Breakthrough:

In the spring of 2015, with my colleagues at the Breakthrough Institute, I helped to organize and publish An Ecomodernist Manifesto. The manifesto was controversial in many environmental circles because it laid down a marker in its first paragraphs. To mitigate climate change and preserve the natural world while meeting the needs of a growing and increasingly prosperous human population, environmentalism would need to recommit to one foundational concept, the idea that environmental protection requires shrinking the footprint of human activity, while abandoning another, the notion that ecological salvation requires tethering human societies ever more closely to natural flows of energy and nutrients.

Reconciling environmental preservation with human development as the global population grew from 7 to 10 billion people, we argued, would require producing more, most especially food and energy, with less, particularly land and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Without draconian restrictions on population, which most environmentalists now disavow, or consumption, for a global population that is mostly much poorer than are most card-carrying environmentalists, the math simply didn’t add up otherwise.

Five years later, green NGOs, those on the more pragmatic and less ideological end of the spectrum at least, are recognizing this as well.

More here.