The real question is, how will China, India and Brazil - three growing, modernizing countries - handle their new found wealth?
This is the question being addressed, for example, in Simon Craig's "The Devouring Dragon:How China's Rise Threatens the Natural World".
Look at how much the western world is able to consume, at its comparatively modest population. Now imagine what China and India would be like. This is
certainly a major problem. Particularly for the environment. CO2 emissions are bad enough as it is; but with China and India's continued rise,
hundreds of millions of lower class people will be entering the middle class, buying cars, houses, and the other amenities westerners are accustomed
to living with. How would the environment respond to 200,000 million more cars on the roads? Hundreds of millions of tons of coal - Chinas energy
source of choice - being burned to power the millions of new houses? Or what about the fine woods that the Chinese have developed a taste for - such
as the endangered Kwili wood of New Guinea, which, despite it's being interdicted by New Guinea law from being cut down, black market workers continue
to cut it down, because the Chinese are willing to pay big bucks for it.
China is ravishing the forests of South East Asia, Central Africa and the Amazon. They retort: "were merely doing what the west has done" - ok, true!
but that doesn't mean the environment can handle it - it doesn't mean there aren't real ecological consequences to bringing down more and more timber
from our ancient forests. Besides the fact that it uproots essential plant life, and thus affecting the homeostatic conditions of the environment,
trees also absorb CO2, meaning, when you cut down trees, you let loose ever more amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.
While I don't subscribe to any Malthusian "population bomb" theories, we should nevertheless consider the effects of a growing and modernizing world
on the wider environment. This is a difficult question to address, because, as we know, conservatives and liberals don't agree on what should be done
about it. Logically, government intervention would help control population growth, but there is very good reason to feel iffy about government
meddling in our private lives. So it's not an easy question to ask ourselves, and the solution probably won't please many people. Ultimately, however,
what matters is to preserve the health of our environment - to not cut down so many trees, so that our children will have ancient forests; to not
overburden our animal brethren, so that species like Tigers, panda bears and untold other species will still be around in generations to come.
I used to be skeptical about climate change and the affect of humans on the environment. But I've come to the position that it's safer to err on the
side of caution, we don't have any incontrovertible evidence that rising CO2 levels adversely affects the environment, but would you be willing to
continue doing what were doing, as some extremists on the right advocate? Besides CO2, there's the issue of deforestation, which needs to be reduced;
as well as the contamination of our natural rivers, lakes and oceans; and for good measure, the illegal trade in rhino horn, tiger bones, and other
exotic animals that are in demand by chinese natural medicine.
edit on 15-6-2013 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)