The “Cowboy Myth” states that we are destined to continue crossing new frontiers and conquer new lands. However, pictures of earth seen from outer space bring home the fact that our planet is not a series of endless frontiers, but a fragile spaceship with limited resources. The “Growth is always Good” myth states that from birth we are told to “be fruitful and multiply. ” But why do some people believe this means to produce eight children?
A 1998 UN report states that if fertility remained at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years. Even if it dropped to 2. 5 children per woman and then stopped falling, the population would still reach 28 billion. The definition of economic prosperity is growth, but only some growth is good. Do we honestly believe that continued population growth is a good thing in a world where over a billion people go to bed hungry every night?
In the end, regardless of mankinds technological accomplishments, biophysical constraints will limit the number of people that can be supported without destroying earth’s future capacity to support people. If not, social forces will come into play before absolute biophysical constraints do. This happens because of human error and greed, which makes resource use both inefficient and unfavorable. If people first realize the problems we face today, we can create a better future for tomorrow.