Prosperity is strongly correlated with (and some argue caused by) trade and specialisation. Compare this with anti globalisation and "local" movements. It is certain that the latter leads to subsistence if taken to its logical conclusion. So perhaps the best thing to do for the environment is to encourage even more globalisation, only let "local" win when it does by the same measures, and have more trade and hence specialisation. As a bonus, more prosperous humans tend to have fewer children.
Matt Ridley's Rational Optimist has a lot more detail about prosperity, trade and specialisation. Here is a Ted talk to get you going http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.htm...
It boils down to more philosophical questions quickly. What is the meaning of life? Does saving species have some intrinsic worth or is it only a means to an end?
(...) the planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE! (..)
Putting our environment first is shortsighted. We should be investing as many resources as possible, as fast as possible, to invent things such as Mr. Fusion, or missions to Mars (yay Elon Musk!) to prevent something like an Olduvai future, as mentioned in the article.
Surviving is not the goal is only a requirement.
Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.
Real life example - the crusades where a valid strategy for the catholic church and the european powers until the new world was found. At that point, it made no sense to keep wasting resources. (did you even wondered if Constantinople and the Byzantine empire would have been given up so easily while Jerusalem was fought for centuries?)
However, as we are currently dependent on our planet for survival and its fate is somewhat at stake, it is our first priority to insure against it. After that we have a couple billion years before our solar system poses a threat.
What you are proposing is sort of the opposite of that. A few, at the expense of the many, should be given free reign to find solutions. Effectively, you are justifying theft. This doesn't make for a very good free market.
Perhaps a free market, based on property rights, would be a better way to solve problems like pollution. You have the interests of millions aligned instead of a few.
I thought it meant million years ago,but he writes "400MYa ago" and "200Mya [...] from now"