Ideas Are Our Greatest Natural Resource
Human brains are the sources of ideas and ideas multiply all other resources and make your life better.
A human population of nine billion, going on ten billion, is seen by many as one of the greatest threats facing our planet over the next century. Where will the resources come from to support such a massive population? Others wonder what we might do to limit seemingly runaway population growth.
After all, there are examples from history of what happens when civilizations grow to large. The Mayans, for instance, were forced to convert forest into farmland in order to feed themselves. These emergency measures led to soil erosion, worsened drought, and eventually the collapse of Mayan civilization.
To avoid the same fate, the argument goes, we must all get used to consuming less.
The computer scientist Ramez Naam has a different take. Naam argues that forecasters who create models of populations and available resources tend to underestimate the power of new ideas to expand resources. "Human brains are the sources of ideas and ideas multiply all other resources and make your life better," Naam tells Big Think.
And so, in Naam's view, the more, the merrier. "Ask yourself this," Naam says in the video below. "Would you be better off if fewer people had lived before you or if more people had lived before you? If fewer, maybe they would have used up fewer finite resources. But then fewer people would have come up with all these great ideas that enhance your life whether it’s antibiotics or the electric light or the Internet or television or radio or the automobile."
Watch the video here:
Image courtesy of Shutterstock
- The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
- Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
- Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
- Prejudice is typically perpetrated against 'the other', i.e. a group outside our own.
- But ageism is prejudice against ourselves — at least, the people we will (hopefully!) become.
- Different generations needs to cooperate now more than ever to solve global problems.
The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.
- U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
- A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
- Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.