I Fear This Will Be the Most Important News of 2012

No, not Wisconsin recall, European austerity-meltdown, Iranian nukes, or the next 50 items on the list.

I fear it's this report, from a scientists' group at UC Berkeley, headlined as follows on the Berkeley site:

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Here's discussion on the NYT 'Green' site; you can easily find more. Original article, for pay, at the Nature site.

Forty-plus years ago, a group called the Club of Rome issued its widely-publicized "Limits to Growth" findings. These proved not to allow for or anticipate the range of ingenuity and adaptations with which individuals, businesses, and societies could work around many of the material constraints that the report emphasized.

I hope that will be the verdict forty-plus years from now about this new warning. But since its main topic is not the limit on resources for human activity but the absorptive capacity of the Earth's natural systems overall, it is harder to imagine exactly how that could take place. This is very much worth spending time with. Below, a video from Anthony Barnosky, one of the scientists involved.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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