Sun May 2nd, 2010 at 04:18:29 PM EST
It troubles me that predictions for future financing of alternative energy, or future deployment of electric cars, or future demand for coal, or future sea levels tend to be based on assumptions of smooth changes. At least, those widely discussed.
Where are the projections that take into account likely disasters?
For example, South Asia gets a lot of its water from groundwater supplies, which are drying up. Also, the Himalayan supply is likely to change because of global warming, probably in the direction of less water. Living conditions are crowded and unsanitary. Meanwhile, the population is growing, and presumably wanting to have western-style amenities: cars, air conditioning, steak.
Is there a place to look that takes these into account and says, essentially, ok, look. India is not going to keep growing. It's a lot more likely to suffer a simultaneous famine and plague wiping out half the population, so don't worry about providing them electricity because they're not going to be there to enjoy it. Or something.
It just seems like futurist discussions tend to go along the line of "Well, everybody in China wants a car--a big American-style car--so therefore the oil supply is doomed. Or "Everybody in the U.S. wants to drive an SUV, so the supply of oil must be maintained at such-and-such a rate." But we know those things aren't true; people would park their SUVs if gas was $5 (or, more likely, $20) per gallon. They would want to drive little Hondas and scooters and, one shudders to think it, even bicycles.
Surely there is such a source, perhaps in "Proceedings of the Doom and Gloom Society" or something like that...