Maddox was editor of Nature, a leading science
Maddox argued that there was no forthcoming crisis. He argued
that environmental and associated problems could be and were being
fixed through legislation and scientific and technological innovation.
"Tiny though the earth may appear from the moon, it
is in reality an enormous object. The atmosphere of the earth
alone weighs more than 5,000 million million tons, more than a
million tons of air for each human being now alive. The water
on the surface of the earth weights more than 300 times as much
- in other words, each living person's share of the water would
just about fill a cube half a mile in each direction... It is
not entirely out of the question that human intervention could
at some stage bring changes, but for the time being the vast scale
on which the earth is built should be a great comfort. In other
words, the analogy of space-ship earth is probably not yet applicable
to the real world. Human activity, spectacular though it may be,
is still dwarfed by the human environment."
Source:John Maddox, The Doomsday Syndrome, Macmillan,
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Kahn and the Hudson Institute
Another well-known refutation came from Herman Kahn and the US
Hudson Insitute who put forward a more optimistic scenario. They
argued that in 200 years time people would be numerous, rich and
in control of the forces of nature.
"In our view, the application of a modicum of intelligence
and good management in dealing iwth current problems can enable
economic growth to continue for a considerable period of time,
to the benefit, rather than to the detriment, of mankind. We argue
that without such growth the disparities among nations so regretted
today would probably never be overcome, that 'no growth' would
consign the poor to indefinite poverty and increase the present
tensions between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. Nevertheless,
we do not expect economic growth to continue indefinitely instead,
its recent exponential rate will probably slow gradually to a
low or zero rate."
Source: Herman Kahn et al, The Next 200 Years: A Scenario for
America and the World, Associated Business Programmes,
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© 2001 Sharon