The Environment

The site doesn’t have much yet, does it? I’ll promote it once there is more to show. For now I’ll add a little colour (not literally yet) by introducing the second main motivation for this site – protecting the environment.

To be clear, I believe in maximising human happiness. To do this I want the maximum sustainable population on Earth for the maximum length of time, i.e. until the sun fries us all if we haven’t mastered interstellar travel. According to the book ‘The Spirit Level’ by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, inequality redues happiness. So for any given maximum sustainable population, the maximum happiness is associated with low (not necessarily non-existent) inequality.

According to many sources including Population Matters, the Earth is in overshoot, i.e. we are consuming more resources than can be sustainably produced. The reason this situation can continue at all is that we have stocks of resources such as fossil fuels, forests and groundwater. Clearly if we are reducing the stocks then the population is not sustainable. So the maximum population is that which uses on average all renewable resources but no resource stocks. In practice each renewable resource will be a limiting factor and the lowest one will determine the maximum sustainable human population.

I don’t think I need to prove that we are currently using stocks of resources (but I will later anyway!) so clearly we are using more of our environment than is compatible with the maximum happiness goal. Therefore I am attempting to help us to be more sustainable wherever possible.

The amount of resources used by humanity is PCT or Population x Consumption (often put as Affluence) x Technology, so the more efficient Technology is the better. However that is only 1 of 3 factors. I am optimistic that population will gradually sort itself out as birth rates have declined below replacement level in most of the developed world (we can worry about getting them back up later) and are declining in much but not all of the developing world. Most of the world needs to get richer to be consistent with my low inequality point so I think consumption per head can and should increase (on average) until it reaches the level at which people can be happy.

In the Western world however we are way beyond that point, and need to use our resources more efficiently to get consumption down without sacrificing happiness. Fortunately there is plenty of room to do this and as other Finance blogs such as Mr Money Mustache or The Escape Artist point out you don’t need lots of stuff to be happy.

So even if I don’t actively promote environmentalism (I intend to once I gain financial independence), merely reducing my own consumption and encouraging others to do the same is good for the environment!


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