Earth Overshoot day, what is the worst case scenario?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Secret, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    That's a tough request: Given that the question is flawed, answer the question? Um....

    Frankly, I can't even figure a way that this could relate to reality. I guess the idea is that we're not in a steady-state with the environment, but different resources are being depleted so differently from each other that it is tough to establish a single rate. IE, how do you make a combined rate between something completely renewable, like hydro power or wind power, with something that will deplete in 200 years (like coal) or 100 years (like oil)?

    The "Earth Overshoot" concept implies an annual budget, but neither extreme lends itself to such a measure. Solar power never depletes, so it is impossible to overshoot. Coal will deplete in several hundred years, so how do we budget that? It's not like there is an annual amount of coal mining that will maintain a steady state (or if there is, it would be pretty small since coal takes millions of years to form).

    Personally, I find the "earth overshoot" concept to be totally useless.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
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  3. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    the whole concept of "earth overshoot day" is flawed
    as a species,
    we have changed our utilization of energy sources several times as one or another was depleted
    we have modified the landscape several times in several places to increase the carrying capacity of the earth around us
    We are continuing to do all of that and will most likely continue on that path in the future.
    Russ_Watters likes this.
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  5. milkweed Valued Senior Member

    Based on the Earth overshoot day premise, when is this event supposed to occur? I kinda/half-heartedly looked for something along the lines of "if we continue at the present pace Earth Overshoot day will be...." and couldnt find it. Can you link to that? I mean, sorry to be critical but it seems you didnt spend much time evaluating your own question being as your OP link was to a different site (footprint).

    How about you post what you think/expect.
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You are calculating an aspect of the problem, not the solution. The topic was solutions.

    If that five times repeated (and never actually accomplished) presumptive factoid is in contradiction of any of my posting, it would be this claim of mine - which is indeed looking increasingly dubious:
    I mean, look at this:
    What evidence do I have that it's unfair to assume mass confusion in the site visitors? None, I guess.

    It's just a carrying capacity dramatization - all carrying capacity calculations depend on the "technology" employed by the organism at the time of calculation. Lots of animals increase the carrying capacity of newly colonized territory (bison grazing modifications, beaver dams, fire abetting bark and turpenes in jack pines, coral reef building).

    Humans can (almost certainly) further increase the carrying capacity of the planet for humans, but focusing attention on the necessity of that is valuable: it would involve changing the environment and the technology of exploitation, merely to catch up with the current population. If you like your planet the way it is - with lots of fresh water to drink and swim in, fish to eat, trees shading your houses and streets, maybe even a private house to live in with a garden and stuff if you're rich - then some things are going to have to change. Right now, we're overshooting.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

    The complaint is simple; the site doesn't work, and does not return an accurate representation of one's footprint.
    It is unfortunate that you can't answer my question. (And no, you haven't answered it; you are just dancing now.) If you can figure out an answer, feel free to reply to continue the discussion.
  9. Secret Registered Senior Member

    (0) I have replaced the link to something more directly related, although it might not help much since the concept is proposed by the Global Footprint Network, thus the issues raised by you guys will stay

    (1) From the above, it seems the limit of Earth Overshoot Day is the beginning of the year (considering if Humanity's Ecological Footprint increases without bound and is faster than the Planet's Biocapacity, you will have the Earth overshoot day starts -> 0 days after the start of the year, which means 1/1/year)

    Since Earth overshoot day implies the date when our consumption started to deplete the Earth's principal, it means the more and longer the overshoot period occurred, the less able Earth can generate resource for us and other organisms to use in the form of interest. (using the simplest compound interest model as a guideline)

    If the trend continues, then since Earth Principal as a whole is a finite number, then eventually after some time after many overshoot days, the principle will be depleted to zero and I suspect we will dry up all resources in earth and the planet will become nothing but a barren rock (this is the part of my speculation that I am not sure about, because I don't have enough knowledge on how the ecological footprint works in detail, like, when that day occurred, will all trees have died, biodiversity reduced to zero or other visible changes in the biosphere and the planet as a whole etc.?)

    The reason I raised this question is wondering what will the worst day be like and imagine if I live in that period, what I need to expect and what I need to do to ensure my own survival, so it is kinda a What-if speculation

    However, as pointed out by your guys, that there is no easy way to quantify an overall rate of generation and consumption, than it seems the overshoot concept is flawed and thus would be meaningless to speculate what happens and how will one live on it

    What do you guys think about my rough analysis?
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Which is why I responded by pointing out

    1) the part that supposedly doesn't "work" is a minor part of the site, and the site itself carries a disclaimer for it which states that it does not work very well.

    and 2) Even that minor and subsidiary part does "work" in some significant ways - important takeaway lessons from even the worst functioning aspects of that minor part are valuable. I specified one of them (that backyard individual behaviors were not going to do much good without large scale political action).

    Not much of the resource base of this planet is depletable by humans - salt water and hydrothermal vent fertilization and sunshine on the ocean, say. And only a few resources are key at any given time - we will only be able to deplete a couple to zero, even in the very worst apocalyptic events.

    It's a dramatization of a perfectly sound and useful concept called a "carrying capacity". It is complex, complicated, and tricky to employ - especially on a large scale - but not unreasonable and often informative even in conditions of uncertainty. Jared Diamond in his famous recent book devotes a chapter to Polynesian island cultures - some calculated the key resource base and carrying capacity of islands they lived on and enforced it, thereby ensuring the continuation of their people and culture, and some did not (Easter Island, say) and suffered accordingly. (The Easter Island culture and most of its population were unable to survive).
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2015
  11. milkweed Valued Senior Member

    I was looking for a year. When do they think this year will happen? 2150?
    I dont think there is any way the earth will become a barren rock simply from people using resources. We may go extinct (not what I think will happen). Some species will be lost. Maybe many species.
    Look to history to see what you will need. Plenty of references, such as the Potato famine or Pol Pot (artificial/political hardship), Mao in china, Sudan/Somalia... But those are still isolated circumstances. Resource depletion will result in the most vulnerable being impacted first. Your potential warning signal.

    I guess the answer is Dont be poor, toe the party line, and be ready to shift your political positions appropriately.
  12. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    These people simply have no idea what they are talking about.

    Which is Ok, not everybody is going to be up on even the tech basics of population dynamics and carrying capacities and so forth (see the earlier discussion with this one on MN deer population), but willfully refusing to learn is not so ok,

    and attacking the integrity or motivations of people who are in good faith and engaging in reasonable political efforts etc, from a hostile position of willful and basic and childish ignorance, is not ok at all.

    On Easter Island, one of the answers turned out to be "eat the rich". Literally.

    And according to visitors the remaining Easter Islanders turned out to be some of the nicest (and best looking, etc) people on the planet - cooperators seem to have won. Which may be why we sapiens primates are some of the nicest animals on the planet - often kind to strangers, take care of each others babies, etc. Meanness, in all its senses, is for us a luxury, a handicap.
  13. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    I think iceaura really does trust/respect our judgement: Thats why he weaseled-out of your question/my challenge rather than try to respond.
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I answered billvon's question three times. I even responded - in post 44 above, most recently - to those responses that pretended however tangentially to address my answers (which proves you read them). And no, I don't respect your judgment. Billvon's, a little or in other contexts; yours, not at all. The koolaid's done too much damage.

    Once again, the original:
    And the answer:
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
  15. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Great! Then take my challenge: how much of an average person's carbon footprint comes from electricity? We'll see who guessed closer.

    You may think you answered his, but you certainly ignored mine.
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member


    No idea. No way to tell what you are even talking about - average Chinese person? Prorated footprint from some appropriate subset of a country's electrical production? And no relevance to my posting or interests here - as is typical of your addresses to me.

    Meanwhile: one of the possible constraints on human carrying capacity was helium supply - and we seem to have found a previously unknown reserve So add a small fraction to the human carry.
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

    OK. If that is your answer then:

    You are incorrect. Such political changes would not change my carbon footprint one bit. I am at net-zero now and will remain there no matter what the government does; under no sane circumstances would I have any incentive to generate less power than I do now. Thus (to return to the original discussion) the website's prediction is incorrect.
  18. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Because if you really don't trust my judgement, you should relish the possibility of showing I don't know what I'm talking about. You shouldn't run from it.
    Oh, sorry, that's my mistake: I forgot you can't hold a thought in your head for more than a few posts before it disappears. Here's what I said:
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Yes, they would.
    That isn't true. You have only eliminated your actual, personal, end of line, retail consumption - your prorated share of transmission loss, advertising and commercial, backup idling generation, commercial usage, etc, remains. Also, your means of zeroing your own consumption is not available to everyone else, because you have not acted politically to prevent the entire cost from being borne by the individuals, many of whom cannot for various reasons afford it - so your personal multiplier is much lower than it would need to be for "0".

    Just for starters. Are you sure you have thought about this? These aspects are kind of obvious.

    Sure. Numerically. As the website itself says. But not uninformatively so, qualitatively. And not simply dismissible. Not "wrong".

    Oh yeah, that's what wasn't worth my time. My bad. Carry on.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2015
  20. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Really?? Because in that very post you repeated the counter-claim:
    So prove it, iceaura. What is that share that he eliminated? Or are you saying it is not worth your time to prove your own claims? I've seen enough of your posts to know that when you pull crap out of the air, it is usually badly wrong. You've seen enough of mine to know that when I pull something out of the air, it is usually pretty good. So prove your claim.
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I have no idea. And it wouldn't prove anything. So no time wasted - carry on.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No. I can drop off the grid completely, and have done so for experiments. However, I do something more useful instead - I power the grid during the day when demand is highest, and charge my EV's at night (midnight to 6am specifically) when demand is low and utilities need to dissipate excess power (to avoid idling un-throttleable plants, like large nuclear plants.) This will, overall, greatly reduce CO2 by allowing solar to be a larger part of total generation, and reduce the need to idle the lowest-CO2 power plants.

    Yet the website says that my impact (in terms of CO2 footprint) is identical to someone who does not have solar and who uses 30 kwhr/day. That is incorrect.

    Again incorrect. It is in fact available; it has in fact been done by dozens of people at my company alone, and tens of thousands of people in my city (San Diego.)
    Why thank you! I agree, the website is numerically incorrect. The fact that its distortions agree with your personal political agendas do not make it more correct.

    Now that we agree on that -

    Yes, I agree that political action is a good tool to use to make changes in things like CO2 impact. We cannot do that without good data on what each change will make in our overall CO2 (and pollution, and water usage, and oil usage etc) impact. Thus it is critical that the tools we use (of which that website is one tiny example) are accurate.
  23. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Yes, you mean. That was assumed, in my response. Please read before responding.
    Remember to thank your local regulators and political activists, for that opportunity.
    So? That's in the disclaimers. I pointed their existence out, earlier - did you read my posts?
    It is not available to everyone else, was the claim. Please read before responding.
    They don't, actually. The distortions conflict with my political agendas. Only the qualitatively correct overall lesson agrees with my agenda, and that only because both agree with basic reality - as has been clear all along. Please read before responding.
    I have agreed that the personal footprint entertainment box on that website yielded numerically inaccurate results from my first post here. Please read before responding.

    Nobody is using the personal footprint side entertainment box on that website to design large scale political responses to CO2 boosting. That's not an issue.

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