The environmentalists are excited that New Scientist has put a load of their propaganda in their magazine, and talks about the limits to growth. I picked it up the other day but decided not to buy it based on this 'graph'.
You can tell the graph was done by an environmentalist because the Y axis has no scale. No species went extinct before 1900 simply because we didn't know about many of them. The temperature line finishes in 2000 which is good because after that the world has cooled. Also the scale for the temperature is about half a degree for the whole graph. Population growth has stalled and it is expected that population will peak in the next few decades and then fall. CO2 concentration quite likely has nothing to do with us, and rising concentrations are probably a good thing (for food production) anyway. Rainforest depletion is made considerably worse by the biofuel debacle.
All in all the graph is a silly marketing exercise which is trying to connect human population and economic growth (i.e. our lives becoming slightly less miserable) with the end of the planet. No change there, then.
The idea that economic growth is passée appeals nicely to those who are so rich that they really don't need another Porsche. The starving in Africa or the unemployed in Shenzhen have somewhat different views. To the extent that environmentalists are able to limit growth, they will make us all poorer, but their policies are particularly harsh on the poor.
Living in a western democracy at the movement sometimes feels like you are in a totalitarian society, where your every move is attacked for destroying the planet. No doubt the current economic woes in the world will push environmentalists' pet scams into the background, and not before time.
I look forward one day to being able to visit the supermarket without being told over the PA how they are 'doing their bit to save the planet'.
If politicians dare not say that growth is bad, as the environmentalists assert, I can't say I have noticed. And if low growth is how the planet is to be saved, then New Zealand over the past 10 years has been the trendiest place around. Maybe we should get an environmental prize for our hopeless productivity results.[updated to correct grammar and improve sentence construction]