Overshoot and Collapse of global populations

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Donald Gordon Graham, Aug 29, 2017.

  1. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    What happened was that food production kept pace with population growth, thanks to genetic engineering and fertilizers. All that did was delay the problem.
     
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  3. superstring01 Moderator

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    There's no going back at this point. Our oceans are pretty much fucked. I cannot see a way how 3.5 billion people increase their GDP PC to even $5000 (in 2017 dollars) without that accumulated waste (theirs, and all the industries that supply them with shit) doesn't cause a cascading die-off in the oceans in the next 50 years. Maybe not all the oceans, but near the coasts. We'd have to LITERALLY draw lots and decide who steps into a gas chamber. I don't see anybody lining up for that.
     
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    But also, we find the growth of population is not exponential. It has a self-limiting factor, as people get wealthier.
     
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  7. superstring01 Moderator

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    But the population size isn't so much the problem. If we could magically find a way to feed people, keep them happy in huts and shanties, then that would be that. The problem is that those people are getting richer before the populations drop precipitously (if ever). Which not only means they're polluting, but they're using electricity, gas and coal. The industries that supply them with the stuff of life use petrol, electricity, gas and coal. So on and so fort. It's an exponential increase in waste. This is not to say that they're obligated to remain third world, only that if we looked at one of the most frugal modern nations in the world --Dennmark-- which uses about 3,000kg of oil (or equivalent) per year and one of the poorest but rapidly industrializing and densely populated --Nigeria-- which uses 800kg of oil (or equivalent) per year, this means that if Nigeria's population finally plateaus at 400 million (middle of the century) and it consume only double the energy, it'll be producing 4x as much waste only on the oil alone, we're not even talking about the arrival of disposable income which more than likely puts it on the order of 6x more waste at that time.
     
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Are there any published studies on all this? I mean, it seems to me that the amount of waste produced per head or per head per unit GDP, is not fixed, nor is the environmental impact of whatever is generated. So before I buy into any doomsday scenario on this I'd like to see some analysis.
     
  9. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Wealth isn't also self-limiting?
     
  10. superstring01 Moderator

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    There are published details on the amount of energy consumed. As to "the waste dumped into the oceans", there are reasonably good studies on what the first world produces right now. I see no reason to believe that Nigeria, India and Indonesia will put in place even a fraction of the environmental controls even the US has in place, let alone Germany or Australia. So there WILL be hell to pay. How much? No clue. I'm not trying to sell you on that.

    As to buying into doomsday scenarios -- I'm not selling one either. I loathe when people presage doom and gloom because, while I do think we're going to have to reap what we sow, I think we'll do what we always do: suffer along the way and stay just barely ahead of disaster. People will die. There may be a famine. But humanity is incredibly resilient. If I were to do a bit of speculation, I'd say that despite the fact that I think we're going to totally wipe out almost all large oceanic species, I think we'll survive. Even if we collapse the entire oxygen producing cycle of the ocean (we won't), we'd still have centuries of air left before we finally got enough of our kind off planet to survive.

    We tend to spend money on whatever is the pressing concern. That's both sad and extraordinary. I don't lament the passing of animals -- we're all dead anyway. I'd prefer we go on existing for a long time, but no matter what we do delays the inevitable, whether it delays it a millennia or a hundred quadrillion years. I'm not a nihilist. Things matter, but I'm not going to cling to animal diversity for the sake of animal diversity. I cling to it because we're inextricably linked to it. But if we wipe out 60% of it and we survive long enough to spread our diaspora to the stars, then I really don't fret too much about their passing.

    Once we get under pressure, we'll do what we always do: divert resources to it until we solve just enough of the problem and that'll be that. My entire degree and what I do now is AI and automation. I think people are in for a very rude awakening about how many jobs are directly at risk from automation. But in the end, that's a tool we can use to save ourselves as well.
     
  11. superstring01 Moderator

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    It hasn't been so far. If it were, the US would remain the only wealthy country (well, and Canada and Australia) after World War II. Wealth has never been zero-sum.
     
  12. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Can you explain the relevance of that question?
     
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I'm with you on that. Which is why it seems to me important that if there is a doomsday scenario around pollution, in the way there is around climate change, then we need the case to be made out thoroughly, as it has been for climate change. As you rightly say, once the human race cottons on that there is huge problem, eventually resources will be brought to bear on it. But as we know, there is a big lead time involved. (I have some hopes that this latest storm in the US will give a few thousand more people pause for thought.)

    If there is not really a clear pollution doomsday scenario then I think we are best off focusing on hitting climate change as hard as we can instead. A lot of what that will involve will reduce the pollution per kWh energy demand anyway. But we'll have to watch some of the new technology: batteries and so on have enormous pollution potential I feel sure, due to the minerals required.
     
  14. Donald Gordon Graham Registered Member

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  15. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    I'm referring to income inequality. Wealthy people use their money to perpetuate class disparities.
     
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  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    It overshoots anyway. The overshoot is partly a product of the resource depletion, recall.
    Wealth has only occasionally, temporarily, and under specific circumstances, been distributed equitably enough to slow population below continual increase.
     
  17. superstring01 Moderator

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    Those circumstances --while I agree with "rare" in comparison to the totality of history-- have been the 70 years since the end of World War II. When that war ended the abject poverty rate was somewhere around 90%. Today it's less than 20%. In the past thirty years, while many nations remain poor, entire segments of the global population have moved into what account for their country's "middle class".

    Granted, this may well end up being a rare blip in world history, but we don't know that yet. The only place that trend looks to reverse markedly is right here in the US since 40 years of people have been lied to about how "taxes are too high" and that "evil liberals are destroying America". We can chart to beginning of the rapid increase in wealth disparity directly to the year we began dismantling the New Deal.
     
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  18. Donald Gordon Graham Registered Member

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    You are correct. "Overshoot and collapse" and "the poisoning of the planet," have not been well-recognized threats. The year that Claude Levi-Strauss died, 2009, was also the year PBS's Frontline broadcast "Poisoned Waters." I was a Sound Steward with People for Puget Sound then. Governments at all levels ignored that broadcast in much the same way as they ignored the 1989 BBC broadcast of "After the Warming" and Ban Ki-Moon's warning at the climate conference in Copenhagen.

    "Black Mariah" was a suicide pill taken by the dentist in the movie MASH because he couldn't get it up. Joann Pflug's character provided a "happy ending."

    "Overshoot and Collapse" was the term used in the 1972 publication of "Limits To Growth." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth


    Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing ...

    https://www.theguardian.com › Opinion › Economics
    Sep 1, 2014 - New research shows we're nearing collapse. The 1972 book limits to Growth, which predicted our civilization would probably collapse sometime this century, has been criticised as doomsday fantasy since it was published. ... Research from the University of Melbourne has found the book's forecasts are accurate, 40 years on.

    The phrase," the poisoning of the planet," was attributed to Claude Levi-Strauss in an NPR obituary. Here's another: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2009/nov/03/claude-levi-strauss-obituary

    As the man-made chemicals oozing out of Fukushima into the Pacific began to take their toll on various life forms and those further up the food chain, ocean acidification began to get some attention, especially amongst the oyster, and other shellfish, farmers; as has the Pacific Gyres of plastics discovered in the guts of other sea foods and birds, some of which are in our food chains. From phytoplankton to apex consumers, death by starvation, aka, the Sixth Mass Extinction's events, are gradually becoming recognized for the existential, dystopian future our descendants will face.

    Given your profession, how many man-made chemicals would you guesstimate there are? How many have unwittingly been loosed into our biosphere? How many of those has our planet evolved an effective response to? Simultaneously? You may be familiar with far more indicators of that trend. The only global warning measurements I am aware of are reported from Moana Loa. Just a few short years ago exceeding 350 ppm of CO2 was considered catastrophic. Last I checked it was 411 ppm, with absolutely no effective detoxification response
     
  19. Donald Gordon Graham Registered Member

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    Ignorance is Bliss.

    Global warming is caused by the accumulation of just one, or a few of our man-made chemicals, in our biosphere.

    Watching Harvey unfolding, but it is dwarfed when compared to a similar event directly effecting 21 Million people in India. As one reporter said: "This is what global warming looks like."

    How many poisonous chemicals have been released into the soils, food and water resources in the affected regions? For how long will they remain? Our MSM does not wish to create a global panic. Most understandable, but it does not prevent it.
     
  20. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Can you be more specific about the "chemicals"? Which one causes global warming?
     
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    And increasing, continually, the whole time, while depleting their environmental resources the whole time. That's how overshoot happens.

    One of the "resources" now depleted, btw, is backup or redundancy in necessary input. We have built entire civilizations on genetic bottlenecks that can be taken out in 24 months at any time, for example. We have no spare arable land we can use to backstop major disasters such as droughts or salinizations. We have drawn down on the oceans to the point that we are going to be farming for primary production and eating compressed algae - there are no backup fisheries. One species of insect is necessary for a tenth of our food and a fifth of our nutrition, and there is no substitute immediately at hand.

    Sooner or later we're going to roll snake eyes on one of these bets. That's what happens to overshoots.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2017
  22. superstring01 Moderator

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    Asking a question is smart. Presuming to know the answer without empirical evidence is not. Far be it from me to end up sounding like climate change isn't man made (it clearly is) or that pollution isn't a problem (it definitely is), but you just threw out a conspiracy theory (MSM does not wish to create a global panic). Do you have at least some evidence that this is true and not the special pleading kind where you say, "Well, it's obvious" but the kind that can be inspected? Because, if you know, then you had to learn it somewhere. If that's the case, then what's that somewhere?
     
  23. Donald Gordon Graham Registered Member

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    The one time I've become aware of that was a case brought against Dana Durnford up in British Columbia. He was charged with "Incitement to Riot."

    Perhaps the MSM elsewhere is disinclined to report on what Dana provided by way of undersea video over time in the decline of life forms in his part of the Salish Sea from 5,000 to 4. None of those life forms are currently considered edible. Even if they are, there are not enough to feed those dependant upon the missing food chains.

    Shortened life expectations is another indication of the poisoning. For example, those who subsist on the Niger River's delta have seen their average life expectancy decline from 65 years to 45 due to oil extraction in the region.

    If one were to examine the deltas of other major river systems, ie, the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, Danube, Volga, Natchez, Snohomish, Hudson, Potomac, or Mississippi, I suspect similar indicators would be present.

    Recent documentaries of the planet's oceans are dystopian. How can these changes be ignored? Who profits?
     

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