First, congratulations on having put together a terrific resource – I disagree from time to time with the content, but on balance it is a magnificent contribution to the social discourse. Another small way in which the internet (technical change) enriches our lives.
One thing which your material doesn’t canvas in enough detail (in my opinion) is the extent to which innovation augments the ability of the production process to make more with less.
While there can be no dispute with the statement that we have already mined the richest deposits of many minerals, it must also be said that the required inputs of many minerals per unit of output has fallen as we have become more efficient in production.
This is why I do not subscribe to a future as full of Malthusian malportentsas those outlined in your work: I’m satisfied that two things will characterise the next fifty years.
One is the eventual overcoming of political and mega-corporate resistance to nanomanufacture (whereby Drexlerian ‘assemblers’ are enable production ‘from the ground up’ as Feynman discussed in his 1959 talk).
The likely productivity benefit from this impending advance is almost impossible to comprehend – but it will come at a cost of the inability of politicians to control ‘their’ peoples, and will be opposed to the bitter end by the Cheney types (who derive utility positively from the gap between themselves and the masses – who would prefer a pie of $1 with them getting $0.75, to a pie of $500 with them getting $50).
Second – and somewhat related – is the tendency of people to reproduce less when they become richer (unless they are religious nutters). In fact I expect that with a removal of the requirement to produce children as a form of low-cost in-family labour for the globe’s poor, plus some fairly large improvements in child survivability, the globe’s population will start to drop once Drexlerian nanotech enables the world’s poor to participate in a relatively low cost increase in their material well being.
To summarise: I think that technology will save us. Add that within two decades we will have ‘full’ AI (in the Kurzweilian sense) and probably massive extension of human lifespan.The first wll increase our rate of technical progress even more, and the second will be another source of reduction in reproduction rates.
Oddly enough, I am also a medum-term financial bear, and have been so for most of the past decade (not related to the idea that under a Drexlerian nanotech future, all prices will fall to near zero as labour input asymptotes to zero and capital is self-replicating).
I am also an oil bull , but a Peak Oil agnostic and a defeinite non-bliever in climate change (as an aside, why is it that so many people who decry economic modelling – my metier – as bunk for trying to model a complex system, are the very people who are so devout when it comes to climate modelling?).
Again, congrats on the Crash Course. As an economist I do’t agree with everything in it, but nonetheless it is a terrific undertaking that deserves to become globally renowned.
France (but I’m an Australian, to the extent that tribe is important)
I would challenge you to do more research about climate change. “How It All Ends” (despite the title) is a very well-thought out view on the topic. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mF_anaVcCXg) This series of videos covers, in depth, every objection to the existence of global climate change I have ever run across. Feel free to challenge me: I certainly hope that this view of climate change is wrong. I just don’t see any credible evidence that it is…
Well, actually I am not, but I am fed up having particular climates promised, by so called experts, and then never being delivered.
In the 70’s I was promised a new ice age, which I was suitably dressed for, at no little expense.
In the 80’s I was warned of the Mediterranean climate that I would shortly be enjoying, so out came the speedos.
In the 90’s I was told that I could expect tornados, so I started eating to gain weight in an attempt not to be blown away.
I have in each decade been promised these changes by the most enlightened minds of our time, and roundly expounded on by the media, I have always been left disappointed. So today, I have decided I am a climate expert(on the UK at least), lets face it, I can’t get worse than a 100% failure rate .
If you live in England, it will slowly rain for more and more of the year. That’s it.
You may come back to this posting in 100 years (if Geoffrey is correct and we all live longer) and see the only person to correctly predict climate change in the UK was me. And while I am a technological layman, a brief glimpse at history, does seem to suggest that we have an impressive track record in this area, a technological JIT solution for many of our previous calamities such as the agricultural revolution etc.