Resources are a function of technology, which in turn is the result of human ingenuity. There's really no inherent limit, considering the way markets develop substitutes (higher prices encourage both conservation and innovation).
After all, man can turn sand into silicon computer chips...it is the technology and the end use, not the natural resource, that matters.
Not to mention that we could develop more efficient ways of recycling.
I think we waist too much though, and it really depends on the resource-type we are talking about.
Offtopic: One thing that worries me is the systematic deforestation. In our country we've had ugly landslides that wiped out entire villages because of uncontrolled deforestation. It also reduces the quality of the land and has dramatic effects on wildlife. I don't think such effects happening on a massive scale are reversible.
It was impossible to hunt enough game to feed everyone, so we invented husbandry and agriculture. Then there wasn't enough arable land to grow food for everyone, so our ancestors invented terraced farming and irrigation.
There's not enough space for everyone to live while being able to get to work, etc., so we invented high-rise buildings. There's not enough forests for everyone to burn wood to heat their houses, so we've gone through many generations of improved heating systems.
Humanity is always on the brink of disaster, but as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. When the stakes get high enough, the market promises riches to whoever can offer a solution. This motivates people to think and look hard for it. That is the beauty of the market.
Search for discussions of Malthus and Ehrlich.
Now, with a centrally-managed economy, the only way to find a solution is through politics. Thus, we now have most of our cards riding on biofuels and ethanol for energy, since so much of the US Congress is in the pocket of Archer Daniels Midland, etc. That's a bold bet, staking so much on one narrow option. Of course we could be investing more in sources like windpower, but that would disturb Ted Kennedy's scenic view.
My point is that the market drives people to come up with the best possible solution. The only other option that's been found is to let corrupt politicians make the choices based on poor information and questionable motivations.
Over the past few months, I’ve gone from some optimism that we’ll be able to solve the environmental and climatic problems the world faces to complete pessimism.
Even if everyone on the planet were on board with the fact that climate change is real, and it will be disastrous, that soil depletion is happening and is effectively irreversible, it’d still be a hard slog to change it before mass death and possible human extinction occur.
But given that half or more of the planet doesn’t believe it, or doesn’t care, then there is just no chance at all.
So, what to do? Me, I’m going to selfishly enjoy the good times that are left, and support activities like establishing seed banks and archives of humanity’s achievements (because we have done some amazing things) in case there is any resurgence of human life or other intelligent life in the future.
But the hope of humanity even beginning to turn the tide against what’s coming? Evidence suggests it’ll be impossible. There’s too many us -- far, far too many of us -- and not enough who care about what’s happening, or even believe it.
"Lucky for me I'd been off-planet on vacation at the time of the war. There wasn't much to do. All the bowling alleys had been wrecked, so I spent most of my time looking for beer. One day I was out looking for a nice place to build a city for my children when I spotted a mutant in the forbidden zone. I landed my vehicle to pursue and destroy this genetic freak before he could warn other mutants in the underground caves."
This sort of article seems to be what I'd call "reddit bait" in that it brings out these sorts of fruitless discussions.
I found this article from 2008. http://www.physorg.com/news118491348.html It seems reasonable that Helium from the one place in Texas where most of it currently comes from may run out but the article eludes that there are surely deposits in other countries like Russia that haven't been tapped simply because there isn't demand.
And Paul Ehrlich, a sort-of disciple of Malthus, made a famous wager that prices of several metals would rise due to increasing scarcity over the 1980-1990 period. Guess what: the prices fell, because consumers of such stuff constantly find substitute goods and processes.
The problem is, I do believe it's training. There are large vested interest with absolute gobs of money who don't want folks to believe that resources are not infinite. Because if we did believe resources were finite, we'd change our behavior quite a lot -- thus resulting in loss of profit.
These people have, using the media and effective control of government (the US's is basically an arm of Goldman Sachs), trained people to believe things that will harm them -- and everyone.
It's not a conspiracy, just a lot of disproportionately greedy people behaving to maximize the same thing, and to achieve the same goal.
I respectfully disagree. I'm a person who is "widely interested in the world" but I don't come to HN to be a source of all interesting things in the world.
There are already a thousand other general news sites, or even tech news sites. I come to HN specifically because it satisfies one niche very well. It is incorrect to suggest that attempts to keep a site on-topic and focused implies that the people doing said guidance don't have outside interests.
I think the problem is: what do you do when you really like a site and the community of people that revolves around it, but your interests are broader than just what that site covers? What if you want a hacker news, but for other topics in your life you are interested in?
You are tempted to try to broaden the definition of that niche site but pushing it's boundaries. It is up to the site to push back on you and resist that.
I think there is a lot of confusion around what qualifies as "Hacker News" both in tone and scope anyway. The niche is ill-defined. I could probably even defend a position that focusing on startups isn't really hacker news either even though it's clearly an interest of pg's.
> Unix abandoned (or never had) any conception of WYSIWYG, and probably never will. I hate it, too.
In this case, the complaint is that what you've got can't be represented by what you see. There are a couple of ways to approximately display what you see, but they're approximations. (One is wrap and the other is "off the edge of the screen".)
In a WYSIWYG, you can't represent a line longer than the screen width. This is a problem when lines matter.
That's why WYSIWYG is more accurately called "What You See Is All You Have".
That's a major difference in the "culture" (which was discussed on here yesterday), that probably shouldn't be changed (and you're right - it probably never will). Windows and Macs cater to WYSIWYG more because they focus on the end user. Unix is very much made for other developers, and when you add WYSIWYG into apps it complicates the situation. The UNIX philosophy explicitly states a preference for plain text.
"Don't you think they have spent a lot of time thinking this through, consulting with experts, and debating internally whether its been a good decsion?"
Having worked at a few large companies, it's more likely that some executive got scared, hired a few toadies to tell him what he wanted to hear, then put in place a "plan" that he'd already decided and that is doomed to failure.
But because some corporations have vastly more money and resources than the people they wish to bully (individuals, in this case), the outcomes are distorted, not to mention the lobbying power of a corporation vs. that of an individual.
It's especially the latter that is the cause of a lot of problems.
Lobbying has its uses but for the most part it is simply a channel that ought not to even exist. I don't recall any modern democracy that includes a 'right to lobby' in its charter. Corporations already have an edge over us 'regular humans', they're immortal. Lobbying skews it to the point where there effectively is class justice, corporations can pay to get their laws passed and the general people get to vote who passes the laws.
It's like being able to inject something after the filtering function has already been applied.