Humankind is making four mistakes.
A view (with less errors) shows the biggest danger to human viability occurs when total footprint, crashes into to carrying capacity. This creates a scarcity which results in conflict.
The closer footprint gets to carrying capacity the easier it is for an act of conflict to produce additional scarcity which produces more conflict. This reinforcing loop accelerates our current trajectory until resources deplete and civilization collapses.
If the depletion of the resources (that allowed civilization to flourish) is large enough, their remnant will not facilitate the levels of wellbeing and science of the collapsed civilization. The human experiment will peak far short of its potential.
This image (of humankind's path forward) is tragic because the people, making the decisions driving us toward it can not see its outcome. If the outcome is described to them (by modelers) the avoidance-opportunity, is assigned too small a value to cause a change in behavior to avoid it. A higher value for this opportunity has been ripped from their consciousness by a cruel cultural prank. Each has drunk a cocktail spiked with optimism and hope -- supported only by faith and fantasy -- not any causal modeling.
Without viewing "social conflict" as the eminent destroyer of humankind's opportunity, current modelers have focused on peak oil and climate change to describe predictable outcomes we should avoid. Unfortunately the behaviors that address peak oil or climate change don't adequately limit scarcity.
Scarcity is created when more people try and share the same resources. Scarcity is produced by depleting to exhaustion fossil water, energy, and soils. Scarcity is produced when a renewing resource is over used and produces less.
Scarcity is produced when something as simple as the average age increases. (True even when the number of people remains constant. And the amount that each uses annually remains constant.)
Scarcity is produced by the processes that allocate scarce resources. For example, economic and physical competition determine who gets to consume more and who gets to consume less.
When footprint nears carrying capacity, technological efficiency and green behaviors have minor control over limiting and distributing scarcity
The powerful behaviors that can diminish scarcity and conflict are those that create rapid population decline.
Rapid population decline raises an ugly issue. Should those that see the future as this tragic "opportunity-lost," perform genocide? Most people would rather see the human experiment fail that be involved with genocide.
However, the only non-genocide alternative, is to reduce population through very low birthrate. That is, many couples having no children and the rest following the rule to have no more than one. Responding to this birthrate the global population could decline by half every 25 years.
While these rates will probably greatly reduce scarcity and conflict, they will not prevent all climate change or all transition problems of peak oil which currently are the prime motivators of behavior change.
The loss of "potential highs of human development" are too abstract a liability to influence most people to change their procreative behaviors. They won't give up an immediate child benefit to gain it.
To change peoples' behavior each one has to be enticed by either an immediate larger benefit or a riddance of an immediate larger liability. For example, would people give up having a child if the models above showed that not having a child removes one or more people from harms way? Would they give up having a child if they knew that behavior would prevent their responsibility for a murder?
For example, the models show that each of the globe's 6.6 billion people:
Since many are already dying of insufficient resources, and others live above subsistence, it means that any living person, by economic or physical force, kills another that can not compete successfully against his or her powers.
If people don't make the connection, between their success in the "scarcity-competition" and the "death" of some poor wretch in a distant slum, the legal term for their acts is involuntary manslaughter.They kill the person but the death was not their intent.
When a band of hunter and gatherers meets another band of hungry hunter and gatherers at a small lake with only enough fish to feed one of the two groups. And they fight to the death for the fish. It is a easy to see "the winners killed with intent." They committed murder -- to survive.
In SKIL Note 49 "Changing Involuntary Manslaughter to Murder" I propose as the first step in a non-genocide solution to the human predicament, we take away each person's fantasy that he or she does no evil. We should take away the ignorance that lets each person kill unintentionally.
PS. I am not trying to put guilt on parents who had no intent to injure with their past procreative behaviors. I am trying to show that going forward, when a person attains a vision of the actual relationship between births and deaths in our existing world, for them personally (not there parents) an act of birth becomes an act of murder. This transition, in common human thought, produces a belief that low-birthrate-driven rapid population decline both reduces murder and provides a viable future for their progeny.