I don't think that's entirely clear. There's a concept in economics called dematerialization. From wikipedia: Dematerialization refers to the absolute or relative reduction in the quantity of materials required to serve economic functions in society.
The idea is that as a country becomes more developed and prosperous, the less resources are required to serve the needs of the people. For instance: Between 1977 and 2001, the amount of material required to meet all needs of Americans fell from 1.18 trillion pounds to 1.08 trillion pounds. The incredible thing is that this seems to be a reduction in absolute resources not resources per populace. Much of that reduction is due to technology (e.g. a cell phone replaced plastic from camcorder, camera, computer etc). The other is due to production efficiencies and migration to cities . A similar trend can be seen with carbon reduction in developed parts of the world.
I'm not 100% convinced by this idea, but it's enough for me to question the premise that economic growth leads to more resource consumption.
[Edit] There's a great interview with Andrew McAfee on this concept at EconTalk. Its based on the McAffe's book More from Less that explores the topics. He mentions a few limitations of the idea including environmental concerns
You're absolutely right about de-materialization, but just on this point, migration to cities is probably about over (excluding suburbs, which will probably grow). Most people who aren't in dense areas are happy outside them, because the fact is a very large number of people don't like living in urban areas (those who do are grossly over-represented on this web site.) 
I think you're mistaken about the inclinations of the average person. People like having a decent amount of living space. I don't think most would want to give up a back yard.
I don't think we're guaranteed a future where we can rely on globally sourced cheap products materials and labor.
Not making any predictions about that, though. Just saying that if globalization wasn't a thing, cities would be more important.
There's absolutely no way of knowing this, and, quite frankly, the argument that most people are happy outside of them pales in the face of the post-pandemic economy and how that will materially affect suburbanites.
The wheels of history are in motion, so not one of us really knows anything.
On the other side, you've got everyone who ever studied this issue, showing that consumption measured by any statistic at all is on a constant upward trajectory. For example, a 2019 UN report:
"The Global Resources Outlook 2019 builds on this body of evidence to present the story of natural resources as they move through our economies and societies. It is a story of relentless demand and of unsustainable patterns of industrialization and development. Over the last 50 years, material extraction has tripled, with the rate of extraction accelerating since the year 2000. Newly industrializing economies are increasingly responsible for a growing share of material extraction, a situation largely due to the building of new infrastructure. Virtually none of the massive growth in materials consumption in the new millennium has taken place in the wealthiest countries; however, not much of it has taken place in the poorest countries either, which make up the group in the most urgent need of higher material living standards."
-- Global Resources Outlook 2019
So, which one do you think is true, the Reason.com article from 2001 or the UN report (and every other entity that has ever studied this)?
Even if we invent warp drive the problem is still exponential growth.
Once we invented artificial nitrogen fertilizer it took about two centuries to go from less than one billion to about ten billion. At the same rate it will take about two centuries to reach 100,000,000,000 and two more to reach a trillion.
Something has to give.
It's actually becoming a problem the other way, because the fertility rate is dropping too fast, and then you end up with a top-heavy population which has too many retirees and not enough working-age people to support them.
I don't think the point in the title of this post is even arguable anymore. Now we just have to decide what we want to do about it and what kind of future we want. I commend organizations that are trying to tackle the problem because they're really up against a lot.
National parks, massive non profit animal parks, and well funded conservation teams all need funding and time. Both of those are a luxury in most places in the world with underdeveloped economies.
Across the world in countries living in poverty the environment always takes a backseat. Without a stable economy and stable nation states the outcomes will be far worse.
It’s hardly just either/or.
If anything it’s the mere existence of humans and population levels aren’t going down anytime soon. The fact they engage in trade for survival and to prevent suffering is merely a product of that.
The only way this articles direct correlation makes sense is if economic success doesn’t increase capacity for conservation and humans ability/technology isn’t capable of being at a minimum neutral harm to the wider ecosystem.
But it will always be a balance, that’s just the cards we were dealt being born on this planet. I mean we were already killing thousands of animals and countless plants and manipulating the earth well before the word ‘economy’ was ever invented.
Oh wait. I'm pretty sure some of the countries with the biggest numbers don't really have that good of living standards.
This is what mankind should be shooting for: http://www.fiftytwostories.com/?p=270, not whatever goal the blind idiot god of capitalism spews forth.
It always seems that those who fetishize "environmental conservation" don't really appreciate the situation we are in. That doesn't mean that we should actively destroy it, but its fate has already been sealed.
The notion that there is some pristine perfect world is probably a holdover from religious thinking that has now morphed its way into a modern secular religion.
The article is mostly about changing behavior patterns in developing areas. Stop these impoverished areas from hunting local wildlife to fill the nutritional gaps in their diet (with an assumption that some sustainability framework can be put in place that moves excess resources from one area to the developing areas so they don't have to hunt local game).
"Economic poverty is incompatible with biodiversity conservation" is a much more believable title.
A new measure that could replace GDP needs to do a better job of measuring environmental as well as human benefit. Imagine if instead of measuring how the economy grows in pure dollar amounts of economic output we also measure restoration of ecosystems and happiness, health of citizens and communities.
Japan has not had much growth for 20 years now , and Japan is regarded generally as one of the most developed, safe and pleasant countries in the world.
In South Africa, economic growth is a problem in the sense that it needs to be much higher in the traditional sense for sure, but there are certain aspects of the country that have dramatically improved in the last 20 years (and many that have unfortunately declined). The economic indicators don't properly take into account the informal sector, and specifically cash transactions within the informal sector. So for example, many low wage workers now have good brick houses, where only 20 years ago they would have had huts or corrugated iron shacks. There is also now electricity in most places, with the side effect of tree coverage getting better in some rural areas as firewood is not necessary to make food.
I think the inability of the economic and financial sector in Johannesburg (considered the best in Africa) to properly quantify growth in rural areas certainly is a social problem as well, with the economy becoming an abstract concept further removed from many normal people's lives. I also think this is why populist movements gain traction as their vocalisations are easier to understand than the a more sober and reserved economist trying to explain carefully to a crowd why the informal sector isn't properly being quantified and that we need to develop new economic metrics.
You can add any new metrics you want, but 'replacing' GDP strikes me as a good idea only if you want to hide the economic impact of collectivist policies behind a veneer of vague, hand-wayvy 'measurements' like 'human benefit'.
"When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."
- Economist Charles Goodhart
You can either decide that the planet can support an infinite number of human beings or a finite number. I cannot have reasonable discussions with the former camp, so when it comes to the latter, it's all about that finite number as a function of lifestyle, healthcare, relative comfort, and so on. This many millions of people if we all live like Americans; that many billions of people if we are all miserable and flea-bitten.
Bringing the economy in it is at best a distraction, at worst it simply invites discussion from people who think their pet -ism economic theory will make the underlying problem go away.
There are a few schools of applied ecology (e.g. Permaculture) and the result is a new kind of basis for food production that allows us to meet our needs in harmony with Nature.
E. O. Wilson has proposed setting aside half of Earth for non-human nature: https://www.half-earthproject.org/
> Half-Earth is a call to protect half the land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to reverse the species extinction crisis and ensure the long-term health of our planet.
If we were to do this and also convert our food production system to be ecologically harmonious we could solve most of our problems.
If the world were a third smaller than it is, we'd certainly still have economic growth.
Nasa: CO2 is making Earth Greener
It makes no attempt to tell us why biodiversity in its present form is valuable, when species have gone naturally extinct for billions of years. I could do without bats as breeding colonies for dangerous virus strains, for example.
Saying species become naturally extinct so nothing to see here is very similar to saying the planet has cycles of warming up and down so we’re all good here. Of course it never happened as fast and on the magnitude that it has in the last 100 years but never mind it’s probably nothing to worry about, I don’t particularly love winter as much as I do summer.
We get permanently schooled by all this rich countries who ransacked both our and later their natural resources in order to build themselves into prosperity.
Yes, it would be awesome if every one of us adopted a hectare of land and personally hugged every little bird and fox every day to try ensure their precious existence (which is undoubtedly precious and a tragedy if lost), but we cannot and won't do that if they sit on a source of precious, scarce income.
It's because of stuff lke this that poachers exist; you don't risk death to kill rhinos for eating, you do it because you may feed your family for a week by selling a chunk of it.
People don't risk angering whatever arcane disease some random swamp animal has for the thrill of it, they do because that's their only means of making money.
If richer countries wanted to stop poorer countries from exploiting whatever sources of income they can find, then they should help build other means of obtaining said income.
As in, not just throwing money at people and expecting that to magically solve anything, but actually build means of making a living and doing so in a way that doesn't set up a predatory structure like businesses will do.
EDIT: Loving the insta-downvote with no comment. Please, come out of hiding and explain yourselves.
I'm done with y'all.