So, Simon-Ehrlich. Are you sure that you didn't read about that one a bit selectively?
Ehrlich would likely have won if the bet had been for a different ten-year period. Asset manager Jeremy Grantham wrote that if the Simon–Ehrlich wager had been for a longer period (from 1980 to 2011), then Simon would have lost on four of the five metals. He also noted that if the wager had been expanded to "all of the most important commodities," instead of just five metals, over that longer period of 1980 to 2011, then Simon would have lost "by a lot." 
Simon was saved by a recession happening at just the right time.
The price of raw and other natural commodities such as oil, gold, and uranium have risen substantially in recent years, due to increased demand from China, India, and other industrializing countries. However, Simon has argued that this price increase is not necessarily contrary to his cornucopian theory. Ehrlich has dismissed the bet as a side issue and stated that the main worry is environmental problems like the ozone hole, acid rain, and global warming.
It's not about "just have to make sure we don't destroy the environment". That's the central problem here, apart from questions of fair distribution, not some kind of secondary concern.
Have a look at the second proposed bet:
The three years 2002–2004 will on average be warmer than 1992–1994.
There will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than in 1994.
There will be more nitrous oxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than 1994.
The concentration of ozone in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) will be greater than in 1994.
Emissions of the air pollutant sulfur dioxide in Asia will be significantly greater in 2004 than in 1994.
The remaining area of virgin tropical moist forests will be significantly smaller in 2004 than in 1994.
The oceanic fishery harvest per person will continue its downward trend and thus in 2004 will be smaller than in 1994.
There will be fewer plant and animal species still extant in 2004 than in 1994.
The gap in wealth between the richest 10% of humanity and the poorest 10% will be greater in 2004 than in 1994.
Which Simon refused, saying:
Let me characterize their offer as follows. I predict, and this is for real, that the average performances in the next Olympics will be better than those in the last Olympics. On average, the performances have gotten better, Olympics to Olympics, for a variety of reasons. What Ehrlich and others says is that they don't want to bet on athletic performances, they want to bet on the conditions of the track, or the weather, or the officials, or any other such indirect measure.
Like most capitalist economists, he treats the environment as an externality. He's concerned about the athletes economic actors, not the track environment and silly stuff like that.
I understand and respect that you aren't arguing the case for "pure capitalism". I agree that a universal basic income is highly desirable.
I just don't get why exactly you believe that we have to have capitalism at all. Are you maybe referring to markets, really?
Because I'm convinced that you can have markets consisting of competing worker-owned factories, co-ops and so on without any need for capitalist owners accumulating further wealth by denying the actual producers the full fruits of their labor. If you work at / live close to the factory you (among others) own, you're going to make damn sure that the thing keeps the local environment as clean as technologically possible.
I don't think any country operates on unfettered capitalism, at least not voluntarily.
I believe our modern societies are socialistic for the rich/banks/corporations (privatized profits, socialized losses, policy systematically favouring the 1-10%), offer some (shrinking) degree of social-democratic safety for the middle class and impose the full uncompromising rules of capitalism on their poor and economic colonies (Countries hit by IMF-style privatization of common goods after the economic hitmen do their job.)
A first step towards a solution would include extensive redistribution of wealth which would be invested into infrastructure, education, healthcare and new energy. Also, legislation which limits or eliminates the influence of capital on the political decision making process. Ultimately, I'd envision political as well as economic activity being carried out on a more local level again. I believe that direct accountability can do wonders for politicians staying honest and businessmen keeping the good of the community in mind.