The following is an edited transcript of remarks made by mining entrepreneur Ross Beaty during a panel session at the Resources for Future Generations conference in Vancouver in mid-June.
When it comes to sustainability, there is both bad news and good news. I’m an optimistic person, so I always save good news for the end.
The bad news is that, for the past 50 to 70 years, we have lived on borrowed time. Global output has grown significantly, and mining output has grown even more. Copper production, for example, has grown from 2.8 million tonnes in 1950 to 20 million tonnes in 2015.
All global governments remain obsessed with GDP growth. This is a recipe for disaster – growth of anything in a finite system is impossible, and always ends in collapse. Always.
If we extrapolate from the average growth rate since 1950, the world economy in 2050 will be four times larger than it is today. If world population grows to 9 billion, as is the forecast, and everybody were to have the same per capita consumption of Canada, the world economy would have to be 15 times bigger than it is today.
These numbers are just ridiculous. This is the very definition of unsustainable. We have neither the soil, groundwater, mineral resources, land, ocean or any other resource to support these kind of numbers. It’s time to recognize that we cannot grow like we have to date. We need to build a new economy based on permanence.
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