Economic growth has undoubtedly improved human livelihoods yet has equally had negative effects on the environment.
Scientists are considering introducing a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene, to capture humanity’s impact on Earth’s ecosystems. How will the world cope with the ever-increasing resource demands of developing countries? Do nations follow standard economic trajectories from agrarian to post-industrial societies, with each stage having predictable impacts on biodiversity?
The environmental Kuznets curve describes the relationship between indicators of environmental degradation and income per capita. In the early stages of economic growth degradation increases, but after some threshold of development is achieved, environmental improvement is possible. However, recognition of planetary boundaries, such as 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide, suggest that domestic levels of pollutants are no longer relevant as pollutants merge internationally to exceed earth’s buffering capacities. This debate will bridge developmental and ecological economics with political and environmental science to explore how humanity can manage economic growth and biodiversity conservation.
Mustafa Zaidi, Clarmond
Emma Duncan, The Economist
Jonathan Baillie, Zoological Society of London