In his commentary "Peak Everything and the End of the World" (Oct. 25 Forum), Andrew Potter attacked a cartoon view of concerns about running short on resources and the continuing destruction of the environment. Part of his reasoning is that "over the past 100 years, life in the developed world got steadily better by almost any conceivable measure." But he mainly argued that what happened in this period is sure to be sustained in the future. To some extent I agree, but he has taken this point to an extreme, and there is a danger in this.
Mr. Potter has advanced an argument to justify irresponsible behavior. The convinced reader sees "that over the long term, increased productivity leads to ever-higher levels of prosperity, social stability and well-being." The obvious conclusion is that individuals and even corporations don't have to worry and don't have to do anything. Market-driven innovation will take care of everything. It's strange to see this argument for irresponsibility so soon after a worldwide economic disaster that was partially caused by lack of acceptance of the idea of peak real-estate prices. Those who were told that no peak would be reached continued to speculate until the peak was reached and the bubble burst. This didn't include most of us in Western Pennsylvania who acted responsibly in not driving local prices to artificial and unsustainable peaks. But we still suffer from the irresponsible actions of others.
Peaks of all sorts do in fact occur. They cause more damage if we pretend that someone else will prevent them from doing damage. We can take responsibility and also save money in the case of natural resources by not overusing them.
ROBERT J. REILAND