: : See, I reinterpret the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity thusly: CAPITALISM and the natural world are on a collision course. The "human activities" that are inflicting "harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment" are the activities that treat the natural world as a mere convenience of market production (or for that matter of undemocratic forms of planned economy; oil production for instance typically sacrifices the people living on the oil fields to its rituals of exploitation). The only thing that's really going to stop this is the replacement of capitalism with democratic economics, economics that does not use money and that does not therefore invoke the tendencies of capital accumulation so deftly discussed in CAPITAL.
: Piper: I find it hard to believe that multinationals aren't diversifying or taking other action to avoid just this sort of thing. If they're not then their mangers really are overpaid...
They aren't, by and large. Nothing productive, at any rate.
The major growth sectors are PR and 'efficient' operation; trying to squeeze a few extra miles out of the existing resources and trying to persuade people that there's nothing wrong.
In actual fact, corporates like BP and Shell have been buying up alternative energy patents for a while now; and filing the research under 'possible future use'; there was a famous case of a particularly promising solar cell which was bought up a few years back; all research was then stopped on the project.
While there are fossil fuel reserves left, oil companies profit by stamping out alternative energy sources and buying up any patents they can in order to retain the IP; thus, their hegemony in the market is maintained.
When the reserves start running out, they'll wheel out the alternatives; oil shale, frozen methane silicates and eventually 'alternative' sources like solar and wave power; because of the relative difficulty in obtaining methane silicates, they will have effective control over national governments (well, more so than currently, anyway...)
However, this still ignores the fact that burning any carbon-based fuel contributes to climate change; as such, any change in the pattern of consumption that isn't a drastic cut is going to do nothing to ameliorate climate change.
(Quick stat; 57% of UK arable land is less than 5 metres above sea level; at the current rate of sea level rise in the South of England, a lot of it will be flooded over the next 30 years; Cambridge is going to be either a) underwater or b) a seaside town; much of Lincolnshire and Norfolk will also be lost.)
(BTW, you haven't responded to my post on Alston's theory...)