There’s an interesting excerpt here from the environmental documentary “Mother” on the under-recognised problems with economic growth, including the fact that sprawl always ends up costing a municipality more than it brings in. Also some great imagery of the craziness of mass industrialisation.
This newly-updated paper by David Knight presents abundant evidence that economic growth, rather than population growth, is the main determinant of increased fossil fuel emissions. Planned carbon and economic descent and a more even distribution of income between the richest individuals and countries and the poorest would provide the quickest, fairest and most effective means of reducing emissions.
Many discussions on sustainability rarely mention the world's growing population and whether current or projected future levels are – or can be made – compatible with living within the limits set by the Earth's regenerative capacity. David Knight's paper shows that the growing population is not incompatible with lower levels of energy use, but that the rising levels of consumption in rich countries and “emerging” ones like Brazil, India and China certainly are.