The optimists, or contrarians, think that a technological quick fix will solve the world's social and ecological problems, or that the market can regulate the distribution of finite resources. We hope to have shown that this argument is the political equivalent of putting your head in the sand.
The realists, such as Friends of the Earth (Netherlands), have come up with their own predictions about what resources will be available in a possible globally equitable future, based on recent scientific research. Although not presenting a nightmare scenario, they show that if we adopt a rate of consumption that does not deprive future generations of their rights, it will on!y be possible for a Dutch person, in 2010, to travel on average 15.5 miles per day by car,or 40 by train. Radios, televisions,washing machines and refrigerators could still exist but would be more durable and dismantleable, would use less energy, and would not contain harmful materials.
The pessimists, such as Charles Gray, prefer to look at the problem in terms of a World Equity Budget. He calculated his "fair share" of the world 's income, and his subsequent average monthly expenditure for the years 1978 to 1988 was 101 dollars. Living on the World Equity Budget still left him in the richest third of humanity, earning two dollars per hour for a thirteen hour working week. Would many of the consumer class be prepared to do as Charles Gray has done?