Marc Landry, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO
The world population is predicted to hit 10 billion people by 2050. That is less than 30 years, or one working generation away. How anyone can possibly think that this type of exponential growth, with the key word being “growth” can continue on into the future with no effect on future generations and quality of life for most humans is shear madness and magical thinking. The reality of the situation is that the flawed concept of continued exponential growth of humanity, as well as runaway industrial growth feed the ever expanding masses and to fund exorbitant lifestyles for too few is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme to finance today's lifestyles with future resources and human capital, at the expense of future generations. The inevitable transition toward policies and economic models for more sustainable goods and services, as well as continued innovative technological discoveries will enable us to wean the human race off of our current insatiable diet of limited and polluting natural resources, toward more resilient and sustainable populations and societies with new and innovative ways to use and reuse our existing resources. Where an antiquated technology becomes obsolete, new sustainable technologies arise to fill that void, opening up many opportunities for industry and innovation, providing a means of viable employment and wealth for humanity as well as a meaningful quality of life for all. As with any correction in an existing system, there may be a period of disruption, but the pain can be minimized by using our big human brains to capitalize on humankind’s innate ability to work together to survive and thrive into the future as a species where all can enjoy the fruits our beautiful blue planet can give us.