Not Evil, Just Romm

UPDATE: Romm at CP makes some significant concessions to error with additions, but can’t bring himself to mention WUWT, credit Willis, or allow any commenters to do so either. He has been “disappearing” critical comments as evidenced by our own commenters reposting their disappeared comments here. It is comical to watch. – Anthony

UPDATE: That’s too funny, Anthony. He’s pulled out his entire section on population … ooops. The foolish part is not giving credit. I don’t care about the credit, I find I can get anything accomplished if I don’t care if someone else gets the credit. But it’s bad tactics, makes him look petty and unprofessional. I suppose now that he (and the Authors) have removed the population claims, I’ll have to look at the New! Improved! Now with ‘Super-exponential CO2′ part of the paper. Ooooogh … – w.     [Later] The new analysis is now done, see”Not Evil, Just Destructive“.

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Anthony asked me to take a look at Joe Romm’s comments on a new paper called “Evidence for super-exponentially accelerating atmospheric carbon dioxide growth”, by A.D. Husler and D. Sornette. The paper is available on Arkiv.  It’s not peer-reviewed as far as I can determine.

I started to review the paper. I got to the opening comments (and the footnote) on Page 1 referring to the “ecological footprint”. This is a very bad sign, the “ecological footprint” has nothing to do with science. It is an advocacy tool.

Figure 1. Population density expressed as height. Image Credit

Then I got to the footnote on Page 2, and I could go no further. It says:

Thus, a constant growth rate corresponds to a population growing exponentially, with a doubling time given by (log2)/r. As the present growth rate is r(2010) ≈ 1.8% per year, this gives a present doubling time of 38.5 years. If nothing changes, the present 6.8 billion people will be more than 13 billion in 2050! This is in contradiction with projections of OECD for instance and other international organizations, which optimistically expect human population to stabilize around 9 billion individuals.

Other than the gratuitous exclamation mark, why did this stop me from even considering the rest of the paper?

I’ve mentioned before that one of my strengths is that I’m a generalist. Back in 2004 I did an extensive analysis of the relationship between population growth rates and nutrition. No reason, it was never published, I was just curious.

My results showed something very interesting. By and large, if the population growth rate in a country, region, or the world is decreasing, average nutrition (daily calories, protein, and fat per capita) increases. On the other hand, if the population growth rate is increasing, the country cannot feed itself, nutrition declines. The absolute growth rate is not important. It is the direction of the change in growth rate that determines whether people can feed themselves.

In any case, as a result of that 2004 research of mine, I knew that his talk of a “constant growth rate” for global population was nonsense, global population growth rates have been dropping for years. I also thought I remembered the growth rate being lower than 1.8%. I went back to the wonderful FAOSTAT database and updated my figures (note that their figures post-2008 are estimates). Figure 2 shows the actual global population growth rates since 1961:

Figure 2. Annual increase in population as a percentage, 1961 to 2008.

Now that we have the real data on the population, let’s examine his claims.

1.  He assumes a constant population growth rate. In fact, the growth rate has been dropping for half a century.

2.  He says the 2010 growth rate is 1.8%. In fact, it hasn’t been that high in about a quarter century.

3.  He says that the population will be “13 billion in 2050″. This assumes a) the current growth rate is 1.8% and b) the growth rate is constant. Neither one of those assumptions is anywhere near true, so the conclusion is also invalid.

I calculate that if the trend continues, the growth rate will reach zero sometime shortly after mid-century. At that point I calculate the population will be about 9.5 billion. This is in good agreement with the UN FAO midrange estimate of the expected maximum population.

So that’s why I quit reading their paper right then and there. If they can get something bozo simple like the population growth rates that wrong, I fear I don’t really have time to hack my way through their more outré propositions regarding “super-exponential acceleration”, whatever that may be.

Joe Romm swallowed this one whole, opining (emphasis mine):

The paper itself is mostly for math and statistics junkies.  It is essentially agnostic on climate science.  But the conclusions are as stark as any in the climate literature:

• The human population is still growing at an exponential rate and there is no sign in the data that the growth rate is decreasing. Many argue that economic developments and education of women will lead to a decreased growth rate and an eventual stabilization of human population. This is not yet observed in the population dynamics, when integrated worldwide. Let us hope that the stabilization of the human population will occur endogenously by self-regulation, rather than by more stringent finite carrying capacity constraints that can be expected to lead to severe strains on a significant fraction of the population.

No sign in the data that the global population growth rate is decreasing?

You go, Joe.

w.

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125 Responses to Not Evil, Just Romm

  1. Jean Demesure says:

    Romm : “But the conclusions are as stark junk as any in the climate literature”

  2. Pteradactyl says:

    Can we take it that it has now had its first peer reveiw – and does it need any more?

    Well done Willis.

  3. Alexander K says:

    Willis’ common-sense approach to horse-s**t is refreshing, but I am puzzled as to why Romm bothered with this obvious nonsense – he can’t be that desperate for reading matter, surely.
    Is Joe attempting to gain support from the misguided neo-Malthusians?

  4. Steve in SC says:

    Willis,
    You should have been an editor.

  5. Gordon Cheyne says:

    Do you think that 40,000 deaths per day (mainly children) from starvation could be slowing the population growth rate?

  6. Jason F says:

    It’s pet population that’s more worrying!

    /sarc off

    The paper is a worrying sign of things to come, history has shown what happens when we start to think population and control thereoff are crackerjack good ideas!

  7. oMan says:

    Willis: thanks for saving us all a lot of time and trouble. Your epistemological screen –continue reading until the writer fails the Bozo Test– is very attractive as a general method. As for the substance of what you say (what matters is not the first derivative of the population function, i.e. growth rate, so much as the second derivative, i.e. the change in growth rate) it makes sense to me. We can see the impact of the changing demographic right now, even though the actual “roll off” in population will play out over decades.

  8. Gary Pearse says:

    Arkiv is a Princton U site where you can upload research that you expect to publish but will allow its use by other researchers in the meantime. I’ve been wondering if this is a good way to protect your scientific ideas from theft. Anyone know? In any case the offerings are not peer reviewed. I can see from this paper that another good idea is likely to be ruined by ideologues as has happened with wiki.

  9. Willis

    There’s another statement in Joe Romm’s opinion that you did not highlight, and that is just as damning as the one you did:

    “The paper … is essentially agnostic on climate science”.

    Eh? The title of the paper is “Evidence for super-exponentially accelerating atmospheric carbon dioxide growth” – and it is agnostic on climate science? What the hell is Joe Romm trying to get us to swallow here?

    He is an impassioned AGW supporter interpreting a study in a way the backs up his conviction. And of course claiming that the quoted study is completely impartial. Sorry, Romm – the very title of the study telegraphs its purpose.

  10. Talking of reviewing papers, I’ve got a German copy of the “What does CO2 really contribute to Global Warming” paper by Hermann Harde. At over 50 pages in length it’s quite a struggle to translate, but as far as I can gather it’s just how you would expect to approach the problem of determining the direct effect of CO2 doubling on the planet with a projected warming without feedbacks of around 0.45C

    Unfortunately, neither the author nor I can explain why his figure is lower than the other calculations (estimates), largely because the other estimates are so opaque providing little information on the methodology they use (which isn’t something you can criticise Hermann Harde for).

    So, this is really a general call asking for help securing details of the other climate models. (Contact me via my blog linked name above)

  11. Old Grump says:

    Why….why…..how dare you actually research any of the facts! (sarc)

    I have thought about asking the community one question for months now. After this, I just have to do it. I apologize in advance, but I must ask.
    When considering the group(s?) of those who are leading the “gloom and doom” charge, am I the only one who is reminded of Sid the Sloth (of the Ice Age animateds)? Every time I read or hear about articles like this I can hear Sid screaming, “We’re going to die!”

  12. Roger Carr says:

    Brilliant title! Not Evil, Just Romm

  13. Scarlet Pumpernickel says:

    Ecological footprint means civilization footprint, we live in 2010, not the Roman times!!!

  14. Alan the Brit says:

    Of course the operative word is omni-present in all these loony studies. That is that wonderfully vague & meaningless word, “if”! If this happened, if that happened, if it carries on like this then……………………..! What evidence is ever put forward to conclude that the if turned out to be “did”! I have certainly never heard of one disaster scenario that actually occurred. As pointed out by others, no account seems to have been taken of the thousands who die each year, many pointlessly. No account seems to have been taken of the deaths of random, (yet curiously impendingly more frequent disasters due to AGW) events like the Asian earthquake & tsunami, & the recent ones, & the deaths due to drought, heatwave, freak torrential Asian storms, etc. I wonder why?

    OT, BBC The One Show last night did its best to slaughter the nuclear debate. (The shape of things to come?) They ran the story of the 1956 Windscale/Sellafield reactor fire which has only recently been revealed. (the topic prompted by problems in Japan.) Curiously after trying everything they could to extinguish it, they simply turned off the fans driving air into the building which had the effect of extinguishing the fire almost immediately according to one interviewee who was there, thus saving the local inhabitants from impending doom! Matt Baker (presenter, decent bloke, all rounder, from northern farming stock), stated at the end of the piece with some degree of authority that there were some 260(?) cancer cases that “could” have been related to that incident. The tell tale give away was of course the “could”, which equally have been “could not”! More interestingly still, all the interviewees were either present at the time of the incident, or in the locallity at the time. All appeared to be in their 70s/80s & in fine fettle! Not one mention of anyone who subsequently died from radiation poisoning or cancer as a result of said incident! Go figure!

  15. jeez says:

    Super-exponentialexpialidocious

  16. tmtisfree says:

    By and large, if the population growth rate in a country, region, or the world is decreasing, average nutrition (daily calories, protein, and fat per capita) increases. On the other hand, if the population growth rate is increasing, the country cannot feed itself, nutrition declines. The absolute growth rate is not important. It is the direction of the change in growth rate that determines whether people can feed themselves.

    No disrespect, but I think you have it backwards: it is because the people are feeding themselves better that the population growth rate decreases, ie the welfare of a population determines its (inversely correlated) growth.

  17. Jit says:

    Obviously Husler & Sornette is nonsense.

    But so are the FAO’s projections. They are hopelessly optimistic. Try insteading of plotting the percentage growth rate in global population plot the absolute global population growth rate.

    In the past 10 years of real numbers, we have added a steady 79 mill to the world every year – obviously this shows up as a declining percentage increase because the base is getting higher.

    The projected FAO figures for absolute population growth fall off a cliff in a couple of years such that the global increase falls by a mill a year. It’s a plateau followed by a cliff. I’ve plotted it

    These extrapolations are done for political reasons. This is the UN, after all.

  18. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Roger Carr says:
    March 17, 2011 at 2:25 am

    Brilliant title! Not Evil, Just Romm

    Glad someone got the allusion.

    w.

  19. Don Keiller says:

    What will people like Joe Romm and the equally vacuous Bob Ward (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change) do when the increasingly unstable Climate Change bandwagon falls off the tracks?

    Jail time? Nice thought, but unlikely. Almost certainly morph seamlessly to the next big scare and carry on regardless.

    Now that really riles me.

  20. Espen says:

    Willis, the CIA Fact Book estimate of the world population growth rate for 2011 is 1.092%, that’s even slightly below your trend line if I’m eyeballing correctly.

    What’s really confusing about this Swiss paper (they’re from a well-known Swiss university, but hey, they’re economists, so as a mathematician I don’t trust their sanity at all ;)), is that the footnote you’re quoting is in stark contrast to their figure 7, which shows the correct rate of decrease in population growth rate, down to just above 1% in 2008. Can’t they even read their own figures??

    This paper is the worst piece of mathematical bullcrap I’ve read (or glanced through, I have no intention to work through all the details) in a while. They’re playing with simple mathematical methods trying to convince us that growth, through positive feedbacks, is strictly faster than exponential, while they’re completely ignoring well known observation from the real world: That economic growth means better education (and more working women), which creates a strong negative feedback on population growth! Just look at South Korea, which has changed from an “exploding” population to a situation where the fertility rate (1.23) is so low that they will have an “imploding” population in just a few years.

  21. A great read on population growth and other development/prosperity issues: “The Rational Optimist” by Matt Ridley.

  22. Ross H says:

    Do we think this paper might be referenced in AR5?

  23. ROM says:

    One aspect of the declining global population growth rate that I have often pondered is the economic question.
    Our entire current global economic system is based on growth, growth and more growth and when the global population increase finally slows down to a stop and becomes a static global population of around the 9 to 9.5 billion then global economic growth will also slow right down.
    There will still be an enormous numbers of that huge global population that will be need to be raised up to much better living standards, a development not that dissimilar to what we are now seeing in China, Asia and India.
    But ultimately the decline in global population will begin as the population ages.
    As populations age they also earn less, are less productive and spend less, need more of limited resources spent on them and so limiting resources available for other sections of the economy and so the economy then also starts to go into a long decline.
    The canary in the global economic mine right now is Japan with it’s aging population, it’s declining work force with the Japanese now relaxing some of their xenophobic restrictions on immigrants to try and bolster their work force, and it’s stagnant economy and it’s increasing economic malaise and stagnation and it’s slow decline in it’s ability to innovate as the numbers of bright young graduates from where most innovation originates also starts to decline.

    Japan’s economy [ even without the catastrophe of the last few days ] and changing social structures and problems are the blue print for the global economy when global population growth and it’s accompanying global economic growth also stop increasing and then start to decline.
    So mankind’s choices in the long ahead future may well be a long slow decline in the population and it’s accompanying global declining economy with steadily declining living standards and economic stagnation becoming the norm.
    Or the development of a new economic [ and political ? ] structures that can cater for the changing global social and economic circumstances.

  24. Grumpy Old Man says:

    The political Left exists by establishing a “Cause” to “fight” for. When the wheels fall off CAGW, some other quixotic idealism will be found to trap the bright but clueless.

  25. Bernie says:

    IMHO, Romm and many other climate catastrophists, including the late Steve Schneider, are Malthusians and that is what drives a lot of their apoplexy.

  26. Snotrocket says:

    Perhaps, we should not skim too quickly over the following in JR’s conclusions (my highlights):

    “Let us hope that the stabilization of the human population will occur endogenously by self-regulation, rather than by more stringent finite carrying capacity constraints that can be expected to lead to severe strains on a significant fraction of the population.”

    Here, the term ‘endogenously’ is taken to mean, ‘internally’/’from within’ – which, in industrial terms is rather like reducing a work force through ‘natural wastage’. But it is the ‘…more stringent finite carrying capacity constraints’ that worries me about people like Romm: I just wonder what his ‘constraints’ are: by definition, and within the context of his statement, they are NOT based on ‘natural wastage.

  27. Jim Turner says:

    Re: Gordon Cheyne says:
    March 17, 2011 at 1:40 am
    Do you think that 40,000 deaths per day (mainly children) from starvation could be slowing the population growth rate?

    Probably not, in fact probably the opposite. There seems to be a broad inverse correlation between infant mortality and birth rate. Where the survival of children is not certain people tend to have as many as possible to as ‘insurance’, not just replacing those that die. In advanced societies where children are highly likely to survive, people limit their fertility because of the cost and effort invested per child. I believe that across most of Europe, the birth rate has fallen below 2 children per couple amongst indigenous populations. Where such populations are growing, such as Britain, it is driven by immigration. Where there is little or no immigration, eg Russia, the population is falling.

  28. Sam the Skeptic says:

    Scarlet Pumpernickel says:
    Ecological footprint means civilization footprint, we live in 2010, not the Roman times!!!
    But if the eco-nuts have their way “there’ll be Roman times just around the corner”. (with apologies to Noel Coward!)

  29. polistra says:

    As soon as I see “exponential” in this context I know it’s wrong. Nothing in the biosphere grows exponentially, let alone “super-exponentially”, for any sustained period. Numbers and computer models can do it, but living things that have to eat and breathe can’t.

    If any life form had ever multiplied exponentially, it would be the only life form on earth thereafter. Since we’ve had a huge number of different life forms for 3 billion years, we know a priori that no actual critter has ever gone expo.

  30. Hector Pascal says:

    [quote]the Japanese now relaxing some of their xenophobic restrictions on immigrants to try and bolster their work force,[/quote]

    I’m calling you on thi. Come up with a source other than some Chinese or Korean CAGW equivalent. I live in Japan. Japan manages immigration to match assimilation, that includes me. Note that after Katrina, US Police were diverted from S&R to mob control. Here where I live in northern Tohoku everone is focused on recovery. There are no security problems. Why is this xenophobic?

  31. Smokey says:

    ROM [not Romm] has a point. At the end of WWII nearly 10 million U.S. servicemen were discharged from the military, creating the impact of an immediate, large population increase. Hand-wringing editorials were written about the negative economic impact of all those unemployed ex-military folks coming home.

    What actually happened was increased prosperity. More consumers meant more demand, which meant more employment to provide goods and services. Levittowns were built, cars were manufactured again, pent-up demand was being satisfied. Within an amazing six months, employers had hired the returning veterans and there was full employment.

    Environmentalists want to drastically lower the population. That would make the world a poorer place. It’s counter-intuitive, but a rising population means more prosperity for all.

  32. Truthseeker says:

    @Don Keiller 3:14 AM
    My money on the “Next Big Scare” is Biodiversity. This is a topic that I’ve heard discussed in Gloom and Doom terms several times in the last few weeks. Most recently on the flagship morning news program “Today” on BBC Radio 4 where “an expert” from the National Society for Protection of Birds was wheeled out to point out that draining the Fens in Eastern England has caused the land to sink by 4 meters since the mid 1850′s and this apparently is a sign of mans negative impact on biodiversity. How exactly was not explained. I imagine the argument to be along the lines of monodiverse crop cultivation versus a rich natural wildlife habitat. To me if you drain fens (marshland) then obviously the land will sink because it dries out. Likewise if you stopped draining it it would gradually return to how it was before. Another non issue IMHO to frighten the general public with.

  33. Les Johnson says:

    Willis: I just plotted the Mauna Loa numbers, and, technically, one of the claims of this paper do hold up, that CO2 is increasing exponentially. Barely.

    Going back to 1958, and plotting a linear trend, I get a r2 of 0.9859, at 0.1206 slope.

    Using an exponential trend, I do get a better r2 of 0.9912. But the exponent is only e^0.0003x. An exponent this small is not too dissimilar to a linear trend, especially over small time scales.

    But there is no sign of a SUPER exponential CO2 curve. And, as you say, population rate of increase in falling, and has been for decades.

    Myth, BUSTED.

  34. Bill Marsh says:

    I didn’t have to read beyond “super-exponentially accelerating” to understand that this was not a worthwhile read. That phrase sparked a recollection of the farcical movie ‘SpaceBalls’ in which one of the spaceships starts travelling at ‘Ridiculous Speed’.

  35. Pull My Finger says:

    There is a definite disparity in population growth. Poor countries have always had a higher birth rate due to uh, attrition, to but it bluntly. But the 2nd half of the 20th Century saw huge advances in medicine, the Green Revolution (as in agriculture), and massive revolutions in communications and transportation, resulting in a much lower death rate in 3rd world countries than in previous centuries. Not nearly as much attrition these days so we see spiraling populations in 3rd world countries. China of course instituted its one child policy which, desptie the very questionable morality of it, has really helped choke population growth. India on the other hand still averages 5-6 kids per woman.

    For a while there technolgy pushed the 3rd world birht rate much higher, but those in the industrialized world were still averaging a far above replacement birth rate. Now that two income families and universally accepeted women’s rights (including “reporductive rights”), education have been accepted in the developed world, we’ve seen that population stall and world wide rates start to lower. Eventually India will slow down with modernization, European whites are nearly in a death spiral, so it’ll all even out eventually. And if it doesn’t naturally we humans like to have these herd thinning deals called wars every once in a while when resources become scant, althought that is so 19th Century (wars over resources rather than “-isms” that is)

    And yea, what is superexponential? Like going from 300 to 3000 would be dramatic enough? Is he prediciting 300,000 ppm? 3 million?

  36. Bruce Cobb says:

    They seem to like using exclamation points, exclaiming “the larger the population, the larger the growth rate!” Then there’s the one Willis points out above, “If nothing changes, the present 6.8 billion people will be more than 13 billion in 2050!”
    So, I guess they get excited by population growth!
    The papers’ title “Evidence for super-exponentially accelerating atmospheric carbon dioxide growth” is an unbelievable hyperbole upon hyperbole. I imagine a rocket ship traveling at a speed that was “super-exponentially accelerating” would reach light speed in no time flat.

  37. Pull My Finger says:

    A rising, PRODUCTIVE AND SANE, population is a good thing. Growing populations without growing affluence, productivity or governmental infrastructure, such as we see in Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East (along with religious fanaticism) is not a good thing. How much money and time is wasted on trying to save unfortunate souls living in god-fosaken places with exploitative governments or, even worse, no government? Trillions of dollars a year? You think the Middle East is bad now, wait until the oil money runs out, you’ll have a population exponentially out of proportion to the natural resources of the area, with very little intelectual power, and who already live with a 9th century sense of what society should look like.
    —–
    a rising population means more prosperity for all.

  38. PhilJourdan says:

    Willis, one must not be too hard on Joe. After all, he has to defend junk science, so how is he to recognize other junk science when he reads it?

  39. Slabadang says:

    Chimpancees smarter than Romm according to Rosling!

  40. Fred from Canuckistan says:

    Rather than a gratuitous exclamation mark, I would call it a Malthusian exclamation mark.

  41. Ric Werme says:

    So, you couldn’t make it through the rest of the paper, eh? Good, that means I don’t have to apologize for not reading it myself.

    If they were trying to combine several exponential growth rates into “super-exponential” growth (whatever that is), mathematically it’s just multiplying various exponential factors together, and the result is just an exponential term with an exponent that’s the sum of the exponents of the individual terms.

    E.g. e^a * e^b = e ^ (a + b)

    Tangent: The thing you really want to avoid (or embrace, depending on the outcome or your temperament) is hyperbolic growth with a vertical asymptote. After reading Vernor Vinge’s stories about the “singularity,” (and picked up by Ray Kurzweil, etc), I tried comparing the two growth rates and concluded that the two are very similar until you get very close to the singularity. Then the exponent begins to rise, and rise quickly.

    I did during a period when disk drive storage capacity was increasing super-exponentially, and figured that either the singularity was coming or that manufacturers were taking quick advantage of the giant magneto resistive technology that was recently developed. And also that the existence of atoms meant there would be physical limits that would be tough to get beyond.

    Indeed, things have leveled off, so much so I never hear people talking about doubling times in disk capacity or CPU speed any more.

    Superexponential growth rates are hard to achieve and harder to maintain.
    So yeah, it looks like Joe is Romm again.

  42. wws says:

    re: “he can’t be that desperate for reading matter, surely.”

    It seems clear that he is, and that’s not really surprising. As the warming movement collapses the number of new papers attempting to “prove” global warming get harder and harder to find, and so Joe ends up sliding down the scientific foodchain and landing in a pile of scaremongering, hyperventilating ideological nonsense.

    which is probably a pretty good summary of his total output these days.

  43. Pull My Finger says:

    Let me rephrase that… they needed to have a higher birth rate due to attrition, pre-adult death of children.

    There is a definite disparity in population growth. Poor countries have always had a higher birth rate due to uh, attrition,

  44. sunsettommy says:

    I long ago have ignored Mr. Romm.

    He is a member of my forum,but that was to chase after Richard Courtney.Whom he had banned at his own blog.He never has done anything in my forum.

    Eventually some of his fans will tire of his absurd exaggerations,and leave.

  45. stan says:

    They can’t be wrong. They’re scientists.

  46. rw says:

    and this posting tells me all I need to know about Joe Romm …

  47. Pamela Gray says:

    Romm oddly dismisses the well-established observation that with education, women will have fewer babies. He says little about that other than to give me the impression that he believes it doesn’t work as it should and that starvation control may be the only path. His dismissal (and possible disregard?) of encouraging greater educational opportunities for women places him in an unbecoming light and leads me to wonder just how capable he is of deep thought.

    That this phenomenon has not shown up across the globe is a testament, not to the silly insinuation that the well established phenomenon does not work to lower birthrates, but to the still deplorable observation that as a percentage of the population that has access to economically important education, women are largely denied this access in many developing and 3rd world countries, exactly where birth-rates are high.

    My suggestion to Romm: You may want to switch your advocacy from reducing CO2, to increasing economically important educational access for women in developing and 3rd world countries. That is if you believe this to be critically important. Do you?

  48. Mr Lynn says:

    ROM says:
    March 17, 2011 at 3:47 am
    One aspect of the declining global population growth rate that I have often pondered is the economic question.
    Our entire current global economic system is based on growth, growth and more growth and when the global population increase finally slows down to a stop and becomes a static global population of around the 9 to 9.5 billion then global economic growth will also slow right down.

    . . . mankind’s choices in the long ahead future may well be a long slow decline in the population and it’s accompanying global declining economy with steadily declining living standards and economic stagnation becoming the norm.
    Or the development of a new economic [ and political ? ] structures that can cater for the changing global social and economic circumstances.

    A corollary to the aging population/slow growth conundrum that ROM describes well is the end of frontiers, of new lands to conquer, leading to placidity, stagnation, and tyrannical, bureaucratic government. Indeed, it is arguable that the American ethos of individualism and self-reliance was born of, and depends on, the existence of the frontier, now pretty much closed.

    There is an answer, prescribed by the indefatigable Robert Zubrin in The Case for Mars. (1996): Colonize Mars, and eventually the rest of the outer Solar System:

    . . .We still possess the greatest gift of the inheritance of a 400-year long Renaissance: To wit, the capacity to initiate another by opening the Martian frontier. If we fail to do so, our culture will not have that capacity long. Mars is harsh. Its settlers will need not only technology, but the scientific outlook, creativity and freethinking individualistic inventiveness that stand behind it. Mars will not allow itself to be settled by people from a static society — those people won’t have what it takes. We still do. Mars today waits for the children of the old frontier, but Mars will not wait forever.

    The new frontier in space will encourage enterprise and growth. It will offer unlimited opportunity for our adventuresome children and grandchildren. With Mars will come the exploitation of the resources of the Asteroid Belt, and beyond that the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. And the expanding sphere of human prosperity will inevitably lift those still in poverty-stricken areas of Earth out of their mud huts and ox-drawn plows.

    /Mr Lynn

    PS Reminder to all (including ROM): The possessive of IT is ITS, not IT’S, which is short for IT IS. I know everyone hates grammatical nit-pickers, but the editor in me cringes every time I see one o’ them li’l buggers.

  49. Craig Loehle says:

    Willis: you have an unfair advantage here. You compare their numbers to reality. They have no contact with reality, since their ideology is more real than anything else. Of course, that means they won’t accept your criticism…but heh!

  50. Jimbo says:

    The second graph says it all! More Malthusian scaremongery.

    One thing to also think about is the fact that in many countries their populations are ageing. I hope Romm has a good pension plan.
    The coming acceleration of global population ageing [peer reviewed]
    Population Aging and the Rising Cost of Public Pensions

    The end of world population growth
    Doubling of world population unlikely [full pdf]

    Further reading – overpopulation myth.
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2265.2007.00369.x/full
    http://www.overpopulationisamyth.com/category/categories/pop101

    “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines–hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
    http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/editorial/the-return-of-the-population-bomb
    Paul Ehrlich – Population Bomb

    Enter Paul Ehrlich mark II – Romm.

  51. PJB says:

    R.O.M.M. = Ranting Over Mendacious Meanderings

    To Romm = Expounding upon anything “exponential”

    Exponential = A growth curve characterized by a “hockey-stick” shape.

    Super-Exponential = Having to do with “hokey-shtick”

  52. Rob Potter says:

    tmtisfree says:
    March 17, 2011 at 2:59 am
    “No disrespect, but I think you have it backwards: it is because the people are feeding themselves better that the population growth rate decreases, ie the welfare of a population determines its (inversely correlated) growth.”

    I thought that too, but I don’t think Willis is attributing any causality in his statement – just that lower growth rate and increased nutrition go together.

    This is a good example of the “correlation/causation” issues since you can make an argument that increased population growth leads to reduced average nutrition (ignoring human ingenuity, as Mathusians do), but the corollary – that decreased population growth leads to increased nutrition doesn’t seem as realistic. Trying it the other way round also gets weird, so this seems to suggest that there must be a third (at least) factor that links the two.

  53. Chris D. says:

    “You go, Joe.”

    Because knowing is half the battle.

    Excellent critique, by the way.

  54. I always observed that people who eat better have less children.
    The most prosperous countries have the lowest or even the negative population growth.
    I think it’s not the other way around (more people, less food); it’s more food, less people.

  55. Jeremy says:

    Caprica Six to Gaius Baltar: “{Your species has} such an amazing capacity for self deception, how do you do it?”

    It’s very difficult to back away from belief systems, guys. Romm should be pitied at this point. Also, and I am in no way suggesting that anyone change their behavior on my account, people who believe a lie do not respond in a positive way to attacks on their beliefs. To quote hollywood again:

    Bruce Lee (as played by Jason Scott Lee): “You can’t change people with your fists, I’ve learned that.”

    Those who have exposed themselves believing a lie have to be allowed back-off-space. Constant attacks just keep them in a defensive posture on the crumbling ramparts of their belief system. It’s only through cease-fire that those in the failed structure can see the plainly obvious outside their circled wagons.

    Again, I enjoy the humor Willis, I will never say no to a good laugh. I’m just saying we can never expect the Romm’s of the world to see sanity as long as we’re publicly humiliating them.

    /hows that for a backhand?

  56. DaveF says:

    Sam the Skeptic 4:39:

    Or maybe even “Romman times just around the corner”?

  57. rw says:

    superexponentiation, eh?

    I suppose the next headline we’ll see is: “Global warming shown to be PSPACE-complete!”

  58. Colonel Sun says:

    Didier Sornette also claimed the be able to predict the future of the stock market.

    As that didn’t turned out as predicted by his model,
    it appears that he has to look for funding elsewhere.

  59. Grumpy Old Man says: March 17, 2011 at 3:56 am

    “The political Left exists by establishing a “Cause” to “fight” for. When the wheels fall off CAGW, some other quixotic idealism will be found to trap the bright but clueless.”

    Therein lies a big question. Would it be better for the world for them to continue with their preoccupation with “global warming”, which although costly could be thought to be no less harmful than trainspotting or stamp collecting and keeps them all busy … but unquestionably at a price.

    Or do we really want all these eco-consultants, and eco-lobbyists and eco-profiteers and eco-blackmarketeers and eco-mumbojumboprophets to be set free to wreck havoc elsewhere where the price could be a lot higher? Or would it be higher?

    In some senses, the world has already been inoculated against this madness, so their epidemic is largely self-contained by those already infected. But, we aren’t protected against the next worldwide alarmist scare, so perhaps the last thing we want to do is burn down the barn and for the rats out and force them to new areas because that will just spread the sickness elsewhere!

  60. K2 says:

    The impact of population growth and decline is well documented here for the U.S. and runs counter to the Malthusian arguments. The impact can also be seen in the economic stagnation of Japan and the revolts in t he middle east.

    http://www.longwavepress.com/Baby_Boomers_Generation_X_SCv1a.pdf

  61. pwl says:

    It’s funny and sad, a simple search of the internet on “world population” turns up the wikipedia page (of course) that says in it’s opening paragraph:

    “The world population is the total population of humans on the planet Earth, currently estimated to be 6.91 billion by the United States Census Bureau.[1] The world population has experienced continuous growth since the end of the Bubonic Plague around the years 1348-1350.[2] The highest rates of growth—increases above 1.8% per year—were seen briefly during the 1950s, for a longer period during the 1960s and 1970s; the growth rate peaked at 2.2% in 1963, and declined to 1.1% by 2009. Annual births have reduced to 140 million since their peak at 173 million in the late 1990s, and are expected to remain constant, while deaths number 57 million per year and are expected to increase to 80 million per year by 2040. Current projections show a continued increase of population (but a steady decline in the population growth rate) with the population expected to reach between 7.5 and 10.5 billion in the year 2050.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

    It appears that the information about declining population grown rates declining is readily available for the authors of the paper, A.D. Husler and D. Sornette, and our not evil anti-hero, Romm.

    A few months back I looked into this because a number of friends (real ones) were going on that the biggest problem is out of control population growth rates. They didn’t like to hear that the rate is declining. They actually want a one child policy imposed upon the whole world. Yikes.

    As for modeling with “current trend” projections it seems like a flawed notion in many cases as the thing being modeled isn’t a linear phenomenon so wouldn’t it be better to use a range of possible projections in a paper and not commit to any one of them? It seems strange that the authors would commit to one soothsaid doomsday scenario. Well maybe not given some humans need for a bleak doomsday future as if it’s really going to happen.

    Also, I wonder, if we’re feeding more people we’d obviously have more food production which means more CO2 being absorbed by plants how would that impact CO2 in the atmosphere?

    [Love the title by the way Willis, it brought a smile even before opening the full article].

  62. Jean Parisot says:

    That population density grid – anyone try using it to grid “temperature” change as well?

  63. Olen says:

    Great job on the image.
    No proof but it looks like justification is being ginned up for central control of the worlds food supply. And there is a hint here of control of the human population growth as well.

    The bloat in their egos and ambitions is enormous and two of them would probably not fit into a football stadium or the Grand Canyon. Only the entire world is big enough to satisfy their comfort zone, for now.

  64. Greg Holmes says:

    Like most plagues, people will stop expanding once the feedstock runs out, or maybe, just maybe, there will be a clamour for more CO2 in the atmosphere to speed and enhance plant growth. (sarc)

  65. Don K says:

    “Les Johnson says: March 17, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Willis: I just plotted the Mauna Loa numbers, and, technically, one of the claims of this paper do hold up, that CO2 is increasing exponentially. Barely.”

    Yes. I did the same thing a few months ago and came to the same conclusion. Considering the ambiguity of everything else, it really doesn’t makes much difference in most projections if one assumes the increase is linear, but it really does seem to be exponential with a very small exponent.

  66. dp says:

    Smokey says @ March 17, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Hand-wringing editorials were written about the negative economic impact of all those unemployed ex-military folks coming home.

    What actually happened was increased prosperity

    The other thing that happened is women left the war time workforce in huge numbers. And since actions have consequences, the population exploded. We also had production over-capacity and a rather modern manufacturing capability. There was a huge burst in manufacturing exemplified by hobby interest production which created new but short-lived markets in electronics (amateur radio, for example), private aviation, boating, travel trailering/campers/motor homes, and any number of other now defunct activities. Manufacturing de-diversified, companies pooled like mercury drops, and changed focus. Working in a high-tech industry, my pay doubled in the period 1985-1995, for example, even though my responsibilities did not change much. I didn’t need the second job any longer, and my kids were out on their own. I’m a baby boomer – born on the first day of the baby boom, 1/1/1946, and the oldest living boomer from a certain large city in the Pacific Northwest. Life was suddenly good, for a while.

    A huge amount of leisure time was created and a leisure class, less willing to exert effort and far better educated than recent generations, turned to intellectual pursuits and less so to manual labor as a career path – an education gap emerged. Such physical labor jobs as could be were outsourced over seas, import labor grew (dare I say exponentially), and the result is the lowest tier of manual labor and service labor in the US today cannot claim English as a first language.

    This subset of the population also has a high reproduction rate. A ripple effect is the children of these same people followed the indigent population into higher education and are now displacing the indigent population in all levels of the work force, and, because they also don’t care to work at physical/menial labor, the need for continued imported labor grows even as the population grows.

    As a knock-on side effect, intellectuals, always being mischievous, decided the melting pot model was flawed and that we needed to celebrate our diversity. We never really melted that much anyway, but now we’re not even trying. We are becoming very polarized in many more of life’s pursuits than before, and fragmented, as a physical population.

    We no longer go to the grange hall to exchange our concerns and ideas – we are pooling like balls of mercury again but at places like Facebook and Twitter, and blogs such as WUWT. We are becoming isolated shut-ins grouped into chat rooms by populist/defacto aggregation, and guided in our discourse by “The Hot Topic of the Day”.

  67. Robert R. Clough - Thorncraft says:

    Romm’s conclusion/theory is common in history. Population growth has, in the past, outstripped agriculture leading to at least localized famines or to the Crusades and other aspects of colonization. Robert Malthus’s essays, six of them, published starting in the late 1790s, opposed the Enlightenment view that the world was getting better and would continue to do so, until perfection was achieved. Of course Malthus could not know of the immense agricultural lands just opening up in America, both North and South. In addition, the rapid acceptance of easy and inexpensive contraception methods by developed countries in the mid 20th Century plus the desire for fewer children has really slowed population growth.
    Population growth could continue apace but probably will stabilize as more peoples reach higher economic development. Although we are in danger of being barely able to feed our population, new methods such as Hydroponics and fish farming, both potentially very useful, will increase our food production.

  68. Philip Finck says:

    Romm = cognative bias

    Also as a society advances technologically population growth drops to basically zero. Canada is a good example. In fact the `developed world’ is a prime example. Growth only through immigration.

  69. Jeff Alberts says:

    Mr Lynn: “PS Reminder to all (including ROM): The possessive of IT is ITS, not IT’S, which is short for IT IS. I know everyone hates grammatical nit-pickers, but the editor in me cringes every time I see one o’ them li’l buggers.”

    Amen! And let’s mention the oft-misused “there’s”…

  70. JimF says:

    Good stuff, Willis. Adam Smith talked about this – 1n 1776! “A poor woman in the highlands of Scotland will bear on average 18(?) children in her lifetime, while a woman in London can scarce bear two” (approximate quote from memory).

  71. APACHEWHOKNOWS says:

    They be lemmings, we are between them and the cliff.

    We should stand aside and help them when they reach bottom.

    It is the right thing to do when others are in need.

  72. oMan says:

    DP @ 7:49 AM: you got that right. Admirable summary of the demographic/economic/cultural ripples. Without arguing too strongly for causality here, I would also offer “demographic=>economic=>cultural ripples” as a general dynamic, or at least a handy heuristic when thinking about such phenomena. Demography describes a population’s fundamental character. And, as the Greeks said, “character is destiny.” (See also George Friedman’s “The Next 100 Years” where geographical considerations play as big a role as demographics).

  73. Graeme says:

    Hmmmm… Posted under “This entry was posted in Uncategorized.”

    What – no category for “Unadulterated Garbage”?

  74. Vince Causey says:

    Robert R. Clough – Thorncraft says:

    I think the research should look at the actual current trends, not historical values. It seems the value of 1.8% cannot be substantiated, and that is what Willis is on about.

  75. TomRude says:

    Sornette(s)!

  76. Graeme says:

    “Joe Romm swallowed this one whole, opining (emphasis mine):”

    Joe swallowed this one because the conclusion matched his religious beliefs -

    [1] That Humans are a virus, and a curse on the planet that will mindlessly consume every available resource before destroying themselves.

    [2] Humans are wrecking the planet.

    etc…. Typical, mindless, evidence avoiding green nut.

  77. Vince Causey says:

    Mr Lynne,

    I agree with your assessment that it is the lack of frontiers that is the problem. It’s a nice idea about going to colonize mars, but I can’t imagine who would want to do it. It is not only inhospitable to life, but there are no economic benefits to be obtained – and it was pursuit of economic benefits that led to the pioneers developing the frontier , not a desire to test their character.

    Perhaps humans are destined to decay with apathy anyhow, and AGW and Earth days etc, are just a symptom, along with a preoccupation with reality tv shows and celebrity status.

  78. Jit says:

    @ Pull My Finger, PWL

    Population growth is a good thing?

    Remember the old stat that if we all want to live like Americans, we’d need another four planet Earths? How is it going to be possible for us all to have more when there are more of us?

    If we put more land under the plough then it’s biodiversity that will suffer.

    Someone in the UK calculated we can provide for 30 million with our own resources. We presently have 60+ million and therefore rely on imports and our own wealth relative to the rest of the world.

    Various countries are now buying up good agricultural land around the world. They predict a crunch. Why don’t you guys?

  79. Ged Darkstorm says:

    Wow, stuff like this really makes my heart ache, but it hasn’t made it into the scientific literature, and I’m sure it never will.

    How can people be so obsessed with agenda that they can’t see reason; when their own data is staring them in the face, contrary to what they themselves are saying?

    Any biologist, like myself, will tell you that populations always stabilize at a stationary phase once the ratio of numbers to available resources (including space) reaches a certain point. Humanity is no exception, and we’ll hit our own stationary phase soon enough. Already several 1st world countries have, and are a model for the process at the global level.

  80. Theo Goodwin says:

    Scottish Sceptic says:
    March 17, 2011 at 7:08 am

    “Or do we really want all these eco-consultants, and eco-lobbyists and eco-profiteers and eco-blackmarketeers and eco-mumbojumboprophets to be set free to wreck havoc elsewhere where the price could be a lot higher? Or would it be higher?”

    The natural trap for them would be an academic degree beyond the Phd. Way beyond.

  81. Richard M says:

    This may be the beginning of a new word in the dictionary. We could see “romm” replace “wrong” in cases of extreme errors. A teacher grading a paper might write on the top … “your work is terribly romm”. Or, we may get a new expression of severe problems with a theory … “not even romm”.

    Yes, Joe might live on in infamy.

  82. Doug says:

    Wow. Two comments on CP regarding this article, and I’m already banned from making further comment.

    I only asked Romm to give credit where credit is due for him picking up the phone and calling one of the co-authors. He apparently can’t handle the truth.

  83. woodNfish says:

    …the “ecological footprint” has nothing to do with science. It is an advocacy tool.

    The same can be said for most of climate science as well.

  84. Michael D Smith says:

    I love it when the debunking takes less than 20 minutes, it saves us all a lot of time.

    I use a logarithmic scale too, called the ADI, or “alarmist debunk index”, which is log10(debunk seconds). This one, I’m guessing, was less than 15 minutes total time to demolish, so is rated as a log10(15*60), or 2.95, a “fairly robust” finding in climate alarmist circles since it took more than a few seconds to debunk. Some studies take only microseconds for the even the most casual observer to debunk and would thus be rated -6. Others can take weeks or months to debunk, with one year being equivalent to an ADI rating of 7.5 .

    Normally the vast majority of this time is used in the extraction of data through FOI requests and is thus not an indicator of alarmist strength, but deception strength. This becomes easier to understand once the user applies the ADI to non-real-world problems in practice. Further analysis reveals useful subdivisions of the ADI index into its component terms.

  85. OldOne says:

    I tried to post a short comment with a few facts and a few questions on Romm’s site about his article, but it didn’t get through moderation. Apparently a comment by a Jom Jermey referencing this WUWT article did get through moderation … until it was later cleansed. This comment remains:
    nen says:
    March 17, 2011 at 5:22 am
    Jon Jermey:
    Willis admits he didn’t read the paper. If he had bothered to read it he would have found:
    “Figure 7 shows that the growth rate of the World population was a strongly
    increasing function of time till the late 1950s. A sharp decrease of the growth
    rate occurred, then followed by a resumed acceleration till its peak in 1964,
    from which a slow decrease can be observed.”

    The comment by Jom Jermey is no longer there.
    My comment that didn’t make it through moderation was:
    21. puzzled says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 17, 2011 at 9:49 am

    nen says:
    March 17, 2011 at 5:22 am: “Jon Jermey:”
    What Jon Jermey? There’s no comment by anyone with that name. ???

    “Figure 7″
    Did you notice that Figure 7 shows the current population growth rate is ~1.2%?
    In footnote 2 this paper says that the present growth rate is ~1.8%. ???
    That’s a 50% discrepancy.
    How much confidence can be placed in a paper when there is a 50% internal discrepancy in one of its two primary subjects?(Abstract:”We analyze the growth rates of atmospheric carbon dioxide and human population”)

    When such a bland comment is censored & doesn’t make it through moderation & another comment that mentions a critique of his article is removed, it is blatantly obvious that Romm isn’t interested in facts or truth … just propaganda.

    Willis, you were spot on in not bothering to read further.

  86. Smokey says:

    Romm’s screed is straight out of the George Soros playbook. That makes sense, since Soros funds Romm.

    If Soros’ planned World Government ever commandeers the supply and production of food, there will be immediate and long lasting shortages – AKA: famines. No doubt that is George’s plan. He had no hesitation about being the Nazis’ Judas goat, herding his people into cattle cars in WWII.

    The U.S. really needs to evict the corrupt UN and have nothing more to do with it. We can make mutually beneficial alliances with friends and allies while getting rid of the parasites. Soros has $14 billion, he can be their sugar daddy.

  87. EFS_Junior says:

    This is what I posted at CP verbatim;
    ___________________________________________________________
    *4 Good paper.

    That’s it? ROTFLMFAO

    This is a prime example of an extremely bad paper.

    It hasn’t even been peer reviewed, suffers from poor english grammer throughout (four exclamation points even), uses Occam’s Razor once and variations of assume 17 times.

    Note that the authors present in Figure 1, an FTS power-law using past population growth with the singularity (tc) of 1988AD, that’s right, the human population reached infinity 23 years ago.

    Didn’t know that. :(

    Figure 2 shows, as far as I can tell, a nearly linear relationship between total population versus time (no need to try fitting FTS or exponential relationships to such a small period of near linearity, if you were to ask me), based on the period, 1970-2008 (or 39 years in total), yet gets an FTS of 3939AD, an extrapolation of ~50X.

    Figure 3 has an FTS of 2304AD, meaning that CO2 goes to infinity at that time. Don’t think so.

    Figure 4 has an FTS of 2132AD, …

    Figure 5 uses CO2 time intervals of as short as five years for FTS.

    Figure 6 says that different equations do different things. D’oh!

    Figure 7 shows population growth actually decreasing from the mid-60′s onward, no continued exponential growth in population, thank you very much.

    Figure 8 closes with the phrase “super-exponential growth” yet not a single empirical data point appears anywhere in that figure. What’s up with that?

    Figure 9 shows CO2 data from “ice drill cores” (their phrase, in the body of their text, not mine) and Mauna Loa. Well they got one thing right, they can copy data, good for them.

    Figure 10 shows an FTS of 2129AD, not much difference between the End Times shown in Figure 4 (2132AD), meaning that their curve fitting is dominated by the latter part of the curve (the instrumental record at Mauna Loa).

    What else is missing you ask?

    Very weak in the theory department, mixing population estimates, labor force estimates, technology level estimates, available capital level estimates, and CO2 estimates. Ansatz indeed.

    No CDIAC CO2 emissions or fossil fuel data anywhere to be seen. They jumped straight from population to atmospheric CO2 without batting an eye. We know this data exists, why is it not presented here in this paper? I’m just doing my own ansatz, but I figure that actual emissions data would paint a different figure, than the figure the authors have put forth.

    No sum of squares values, no RMS values, no R^2 values. Nowhere to be seen.

    Further, one can reverse engineer their values for their constants from Equations 3/6 (alpha/alpha’ c/c’) and from the values presented in Figure 4, within less than 30 minutes in Excel, do sum of squares, RMS values, and R^2 values, and guess what?

    A simple polynomial of order two (quadratic) is a better fit to the empirical data from Mauna Loa than either the FTS or exponential fits, by all metrics.

    Note, that I’m not suggesting that one fit a low order polynomial (even a degree one polynomial (linear fit) results in an R^2 of 0.98591 vs 0.99901 for a quadratic vs 0.99873 for an FTS vs 0.99881 for an exponential), or an FTS or an exponential curve to 40-50 years worth of data and then go about extrapolating said curve fit 2X, 3X, or 50X.

    That’s not science, that’s curve fitting, for the sake of curve fitting alone. In other words correlation does not equal causation.

    Probability that future super-exponential growth of CO2 was proved in this paper? Zero.

    I think I’ll name my next pet Paper, then I’ll get to say “Bad Paper, bad Paper, you made a mess.”

    If this post disappears, I’ll know why. :(
    ___________________________________________________________

    To those curve fitting the Mauna Loa data to power/exponential, the paper does not use the form y=a*e^(b*t) or y=c*t^d, see Equations 3/6.

    REPLY: Thank you sir, on this we agree – Anthony

  88. Henry chance says:

    Just a side note. Every other day we get a little political outburst from Joe about the koch Bros. They of course compete on one hand with Soros agenda for whom Joe works. On the other hand, Joe and the Koch bros all attended MIT. Ooops. I hope Joe’s roots aren’t showing.

  89. Tom Laws says:

    You managed to ignore so many factors that your entire thesis is bunk. Population growth rates have only dropped off among certain subgroups and even that drop off is do to artificial means such as available birth control, force such as in China and land carrying capacity being exceeded in parts of Africa, India, South America and China. The starvation’s in these regions over the last 50 years give a natural slowing to population growth but this is hardly the desirable way to reach zero growth is it
    ? These are one time only inputs that your attributing to natural repeatable tendencies.

    A few things we know for certain, the current population simply can’t exist without the high return on investment energy source of fossil fuels. That fossil fuel reserves are an inarguable finite quantity and every day the energy input to energy output climbs and will eventually balance making the remaining reserves unrecoverable. That as the worlds fuel tank gets closer to empty every day, we manage to actually be accelerating their depletion with not only more individuals using energy but an increase per person as well. That alternatives like solar is still a net energy producing pipe dream in spite of the crap energy accounting the greenies preach. Not only do they fantasize 30 year life times for solar panels, a length of time that other outdoor exposed materials like paint or even robust stone and tar shingles rarely meet, they ignore all energy costs of the labor force producing them not directly attributable to the production facility. These workers have an energy expense that even at slave levels include food, housing and clothing. But they’re not slaves and they each can be expected to have energy expensive private lives just like the rest of us. That even wind is most likely a net negative energy producer as evidenced by the fact that even though windmill technology has existed for 500 plus years as mechanical energy, it enjoyed little unsubsidized success in the historical world. That modern electricity production from wind is exponentially more energy input expensive than historical construction methods that saw limited viability uses such as grain grinding and water pumping. Today’s windmills have the added energy expenses of energy expensive transmission network build-outs, energy expensive storage methodologies and large losses due to conversion and transmission inefficiencies.

    We should be in panic mode not only of increasing populations but even a stable population at levels that can’t exist when we loose this valuable gift the earth has given us, fossil fuels. Until this glaring threat to the health, safety and happiness of future generations has been definitively eliminated, we should be using the earth and it’s very finite resources with Ebenezer Scrooge like stinginess.

    The threat of energy depletion to humanity is at this time a certainty and will be catastrophic as it unfolds. This is what i find frustrating with public policy. If you were on a small island with a finite non renewing resource of food (energy), you’d hardly be encouraging the population to increase it’s size and increase the food consumption per person as well. The only intelligent option would be to go on strict rations and population control buying time for a hoped for eventual rescue from the impending disaster of food depletion.

    If even after 100 plus years of work by profit driven fossil fuel replacing would be inventors, 50 years of well intentioned environmentalists, 70 years of government subsidized alternative energy research (The Germans and Japanese during WWII, the U.S. at least as far back as 1973) we’ve failed to find even one source of energy that is self supporting in the market place. At best technology has fabricated a fantasy of a mirage of a life boat on the horizon of our island encouraging the all to attractive denile of the seriousness of our situation

  90. harrywr2 says:

    This is not yet observed in the population dynamics, when integrated worldwide.

    Invariably the population bomb worriers look at birth rates and death rates.
    Birth rates and death rates only provide a picture of today.
    Fertility rates tell the story of what the world will be like 40 years hence.

    I.E. The fertility rate in OECD countries has been at or below replacement for 40 years. But the group now in the 40-60 age category is double the size of the 60-80 category. It is the woman who are now 60-80 that had 4 or 5 children.
    Hence, population will continue to grow in OECD countries for the next 20 years.

  91. Wellington says:

    It’s just a flesh wound!

  92. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jit says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

    @ Pull My Finger, PWL

    Population growth is a good thing?

    Remember the old stat that if we all want to live like Americans, we’d need another four planet Earths? How is it going to be possible for us all to have more when there are more of us?

    Yeah, I remember that nonsense. It was a scam promoted by Mathis Wackernagel of Ecological Footprint fame, who knows well that it’s bogus, we’ve discussed it at length.

    w.

  93. Smokey says:

    EFS_Junior says:

    “This is a prime example of an extremely bad paper. It hasn’t even been peer reviewed, suffers from poor english [sic] grammer [sic]…”

    You were saying…?

  94. Pull My Finger says:

    I’m not saying it’s good per se, just saying that the late 20th Century saw an explosion in technology that allowed populations across the globe to increase without the dire predicted consequnces of the 19th century philosophers. Agricultural production in the US and other modern states has sky rocketed both in aboslute terms and in terms of inputs to outputs and this has carried over to many developing nations. Speaking purely theoretically, feeding 7 or 8 or 9 billion people on this earth is not a problem.. at all. The problem is that the majority of people on earth live under governments that are autorcratic/authoritarian who have no real interest in “the people”, only in protecting their rule or are so sclerotic that they cannot maintain the logistics to support the number of people they are capable of feeding. Heck, the US pays farmers not to produce in order to keep prices high enough for farmers. The US could sustain a population many times what it is today. The quality of life of citizens has a lot less to do with available resources, there is plenty to go around, it is the lack of universal human rights, the lack of property rights, and the lack of a codified AND enforced civil law enforcement and judicial system.

    Depending on when you set the cut off for the “Post Industrial Revolution Modern World”, let’s say 1945, we’ve seen that the most productive and powerful nations ultimately are based on the seeds of English Common Law. They can be Parlimetary or Federalist, Socialist, Conservative, whatever, but they have to be popular and egalitarian. State Control systems only work so well, ultimately the masses have no skin in the game, they can’t advance economically beyond a certain point, we’ll see how China plays out over the next decades. Autocaracy only works for the autocrat. Religious states need to convice their citizens that their true reward lies in the next life, not this. They deprive almost by design. And of course deny a quality of life to any who are not of their belief system or are marginalized by their religion.

    Anyway, all this rambling just means that proving “fat and happy” world of 9 billion people is less a function of resource than of government.

    Jit says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:08 am
    @ Pull My Finger, PWL

    Population growth is a good thing?

    Remember the old stat that if we all want to live like Americans, we’d need another four planet Earths? How is it going to be possible for us all to have more when there are more of us?

  95. Jean Demesure says:

    @TomRude
    Yes, Sornette is widely used in everyday life French : http://translation.babylon.com/french/to-english/sornette/

  96. Pull My Finger says:

    Fossil fuels will eventually run out, everyone has a guess as to when, but there is an awful lot of oil, gas, and coal left in the ground, the US just has a self-inflicted ban of extracting them. Maybe were just waiting for the Middle East to run dry so we can be Bi-Winning in the 22nd Century. :) But seriously, I find it hard to believe that with the miraculous advances in biotech, nanotech, chemisty, etc in the last decade or two that we can’t synthesize fossil fuels or the eqiv when push comes to shove. Yea, it’ll be more expensive short term, but like everything else it will be improved and perfected… and cheap.

    And of course nukes. No sain and rational person should discount them despite the ongoing saga in Japan, which other than the poor guys fighting out in the plant, the 40 year old plant, has done little damage. Now if they just had superexponential batteries!

  97. Mr Lynn says:

    Vince Causey says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:02 am
    Mr Lynn,

    I agree with your assessment that it is the lack of frontiers that is the problem. It’s a nice idea about going to colonize mars, but I can’t imagine who would want to do it. It is not only inhospitable to life, but there are no economic benefits to be obtained – and it was pursuit of economic benefits that led to the pioneers developing the frontier , not a desire to test their character. . .

    Ah, but Mars will be much nicer after the terraforming begins. And there are plenty of mineral resources. Read Robert Zubrin’s book.

    I have often thought that all it would take to get us back into space in a big way would be the discovery of gold on the Moon. Some think that He3 in the lunar regolith is potentially valuable enough (for use in fusion reactors) to start a rush, once we master the technology. So we use the He3 on the Moon to provide the energy we need to terraform and colonize Mars, and the Mars colonies will become magnets for a new ‘westward migration’.

    We’ll never know if we don’t try.

    /Mr Lynn

  98. Pull My Finger says:

    If they make Donald Trump President of Mars instead of one of the witless nimrods that are in charge of most the world today, I may just sign up to save my sanity.
    —–
    Mr Lynn says:
    March 17, 2011 at 11:23 am
    Vince Causey says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:02 am
    Mr Lynn,

    I agree with your assessment that it is the lack of frontiers that is the problem. It’s a nice idea about going to colonize mars, but I can’t imagine who would want to do it. It is not only inhospitable to life, but there are no economic benefits to be obtained – and it was pursuit of economic benefits that led to the pioneers developing the frontier , not a desire to test their character. . .

    Ah, but Mars will be much nicer after the terraforming begins. And there are plenty of mineral resources. Read Robert Zubrin’s book.

  99. DaveS says:

    Excellent..

    I see this garbage daily over here in the UK. The BBC daily broadcasts stupid reports that even I can pull apart.

    Air pollution causes early deaths
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4283295.stm.

    Air pollution is responsible for 310,000 premature deaths in Europe each year, research suggests.

    Barbara Helfferich, an environment spokesperson for the Commission, told the BBC: “There are number of ways of doing this.

    “We can reduce burning of fossil fuel, we can use alternative energy sources, we can restrict traffic in inner cities.”

    All you have to do is compare the death rates with smoking rates you will find your answer.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cigarette_consumption_per_capita

    Like Willis shows, it not hard. After a while you get your own BS detector. I feel like I am living in the Matrix.. I know its all a lie but know one believes me.

  100. Lady Life Grows says:

    One of the most basic principles in biology is that a species or population will grow until it reaches its limits of food and/or predation. Humans have reached that point–with 20th century and earlier agricultural practices. One poster above said the global birth declined from 170 million to 140 million. I just checked Demographia and it said there were about 130 million in 2009.

    But the carrying capacity of the Earth itself can be increased. Deserts can be irrigated, and http://www.sonicbloom.com shows another method of explosively increasing the productivity of farmland. There are other breakthroughs out there, too.

    Nor do the breakthroughs benefit only Homo sapiens and our direct symbiotes–wildlife abundance and diversity is being increased as well. We have just started to learn how. But we are carbon based life forms. The carbon has to come from somewhere. Fossil fuels and only fossil fuels fill the bill.

  101. gringojay says:

    1st picto-gram reveals lots of room to put more people south of Tripoli once we ratchet up so much CO2 that the world becomes wet.

  102. Jit says:

    Maybe the four earths is an exaggeration. I dont’ know – you say you’ve addressed it. I’ve just looked for some numbers.

    Energy consumption per american = 10,381 W
    Energy production of world 1.504*10^13 W
    (wikipedia)
    divide one by t’other gives you 1.449 billion people

    6.750 billion (real population)/1.449 billion (americans fed by present energy production) = 4.66 earths for us all to live like Americans

    I’m sure you’ll tell me where I’ve gone wrong…

  103. MikeN says:

    Well of course it’s growing at an exponential rate. It’s just the rate of growth is not growing.

    Even this last claim is one to dispute, that the planet’s growth rate is declining.
    We have a number of countries whose growth rate is below replacement level, including Russia, Japan, Italy etc. Many other countries maintain population through immigration, such as UK, and even the US is close. So if we have formerly large countries with declining populations and low birthrates, it could be that the other countries with large birthrates end up being the dominant portion of the population. Even if the growth rate in those countries is just constant or declining, due to their larger share of the population, the overall growth rate could climb from 1.8%.

  104. DirkH says:

    Jit says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:08 am
    “Someone in the UK calculated we can provide for 30 million with our own resources. We presently have 60+ million and therefore rely on imports and our own wealth relative to the rest of the world.”

    UK area 243,610 km ^2. Arable Land 23%. So, about 56,030 km^2 of arable land.
    62,698,362 inhabitants. That makes 893.64 m^2 of arable land per person. An acre is about 4064 m^2, so that’s about 0.22 acre per person. Let’s say we plant potatoes everywhere. Hmmm… let’s see, what will we yield…

    “^ The yield of Calories per acre (about 9.2 million) is higher than that of maize (7.5 million), rice (7.4 million), wheat (3 million), or soybean (2.8 million). Audrey Ensminger; M. E. Ensminger, James E. Konlande (1994). Foods & Nutrition Encyclopedia. CTC Press. ISBN 084938981X. http://books.google.com/?id=XMA9gYIj-C4C&pg=PA1104&dq=potatoes+calories+per+acre.”

    I assume that means per year.

    9.2 million times 0.22 gives 2.024 million calories per person per year. Or 5545 calories per day per person.

    So it looks like the current population of the UK can easily be fed even without using the seas as a food source, or importing food.

    Now you will have to resort to some Green maths, telling me that it costs more energy to grow potatoes than what you get in harvest because of all the tractor fuel or something like that… I’m not that interested, though, i think your source is bunkum.

    Sources:
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uk.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potatoe#Role_in_world_food_supply
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acre

  105. Pull My Finger says:

    Jit, you don’t need four earths, just an earth that is four more times productive. The US has been blessed with immense natural resources and has developed technology and the will and the legal structure to maximize those resources. You can apply that to Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand too. There is no natural reason that Russia and China and India should not be economic powerhouses. Vast natural resources, plenty of ariable land, but not the government structure to maximise those resources. China has grown very fast but how much of that is due to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and a handful of potent, international cities? The backwater of China is poor, ignorant, isolated and brutal, and it benefits the CCP to keep them that way. Russia, other than poor access to the sea, which is not nearly as critical today as it was 100 years ago, has utterly vast natual resources that should have every citizen in the nation living at or above Western European standards. How many places on earth are more harsh and unforgiving than Australia? Yet Australia is thriving economic player.

  106. Vince Causey says:

    Jit,

    “Energy consumption per american = 10,381 W
    Energy production of world 1.504*10^13 W
    (wikipedia)
    divide one by t’other gives you 1.449 billion people.

    I’m sure you’ll tell me where I’ve gone wrong…”

    Does it need saying? The energy being processed today, is the energy that is demanded by the world today. And I am using ‘demanded’ in the economic sense – ie, using dollars to bid for it – not merely wanting it. So your equation translates to: if we consider the energy used by Americans today, we would need 4.7 times as much to provided everyone in the world with the same amount of energy. Therefore we need 4.7 Earths.

    In 1950, American’s consumed a fraction of that energy – call it f. Somebody could have made the same assertion in 1950, that we would need 4.7 Earths to provide everyone with the same per capita energy f.

    And yet, as demand increased, so did the energy provided. If you are saying that today, uniquely in history, there is no more energy to be had, then your argument may stand up. But as demand increases in the future, more power stations will be built, whether coal fired (and there is a lot of coal), shale gas fired, uranium fission, thorium fission, or fusion – which will happen in some form in the future, though not from toroids I expect.

  107. Jeremy says:

    Vince Causey says:
    March 17, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Mr Lynne,

    I agree with your assessment that it is the lack of frontiers that is the problem. It’s a nice idea about going to colonize mars, but I can’t imagine who would want to do it…

    I would. People on the frontier were not looking to get rich quick, for the most part. There was and remains value in self-determination away from civilization. When settlements get truly established to become self-sufficient, that’s when potential wealth from local resources may finally be tapped. Initially, yes, colonization is painful even if the environment is hospitable, the American continents were luxurious to colonize compared to what frontier life on Mars would likely be. It was when San Francisco was a viable city that the gold rush kicked in. The same will be true of Mars.

    Yes, the first wave of settlers are moving into dangerous territory. That’s what exploration is. There’s a reason the developed world has a segment of the population that is continually inventing extreme sports, this world is tamed. If a frontier existed, likely most of those guys/gals would be there.

  108. Marc77 says:

    Seems to me that Co2 increase is less than quadratic.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/derivative/mean:84

    The derivative grows less than linear.

  109. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jit says:
    March 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Maybe the four earths is an exaggeration. I dont’ know – you say you’ve addressed it. I’ve just looked for some numbers.

    Energy consumption per american = 10,381 W
    Energy production of world 1.504*10^13 W
    (wikipedia)
    divide one by t’other gives you 1.449 billion people

    6.750 billion (real population)/1.449 billion (americans fed by present energy production) = 4.66 earths for us all to live like Americans

    I’m sure you’ll tell me where I’ve gone wrong…

    Sure. You have described what we can do with our present energy production. The obvious conclusion is that we need to increase our energy production by a factor of four, not increase the number of earths.

    w.

  110. 3x2 says:

    Can’t say I blame you for stopping at the summary. As with many others I stop at the title. I see current “science” as a distraction. AGW = bigger/smaller/same size biscuit weevils. Search “the literature” and whatever you want for your current campaign will be somewhere in the “peer reviewed” pile.

    This particular paper will probably turn up in “the literature” at some point. “Reviewers” having removed the the more obvious campaign slogans and what not.

    In the end it’s like a bunch of bank robbers heading down main street throwing money off the back of the truck. By the time people have finished fighting over the $1 bills the robbers are well away with the billion dollar loot. Science isn’t some magical investigation into the unknown it is a paid for POV . A peer reviewed paper costs X, the revenue from that peer reviewed paper and it’s implications earns you Y (see WWF).

    Scientists have become nothing better than prostitutes – their pimps tell them what to do – they do it. Trying to fight amongst the stream of $1 bills from the back of the getaway vehicle just keeps you quiet while the big money gets away. All you need to read is “ecology”, “footprint”, “sustainability” or “carbon” – you know damn well who is paying for the “peer reviewed” “science”. It used to be a joke in this country … “first against the wall”. No more.

  111. Dave Dodd says:

    Tom Laws says:
    March 17, 2011 at 10:07 am

    “A few things we know for certain, … That fossil fuel reserves are an inarguable finite quantity…”

    Wrong! (or from above Romm!) We don’t even know what “fossil” fuels are. Perhaps they are mushed up dinosaurs and we will eventually run out, or perhaps the Earth continues to produce more “hydrocarbon fuel compounds” on the fly. Last I heard, the jury was still out. Until we know for certain, however, your rant also sounds a bit Malthusian.

  112. Chris Smith says:

    What are the main causes of death and are they likely to be removed due to development? What is the rate of birth? As a function of time, one hopes that everyone gets “richer” and has fewer babies, but also live longer.

    We need to find more resources on other planets etc… this should be our main objective. Unfortunately our main objective appears to be to create misery.

  113. Vince Causey says:

    Willis,

    “Sure. You have described what we can do with our present energy production. The obvious conclusion is that we need to increase our energy production by a factor of four, not increase the number of earths.”

    Doh! You put it so much more simply than I did in my response.

  114. Jit says:

    Ok, fair cop…

    now someone tell me just how we’re going to increase energy production fourfold with dwindling fossil fuels, every molecule of which we burn is bitterly resented by the greens, with nuclear paddling backwards rapidly owing to Fukushima, and with wind providing a flea’s flea of a sufficiency…

    And that’s just energy… there is also food…

  115. Jit says:

    @ DirkH

    Not at all! I don’t know the answer to that. But I think it would be nice to retain a smidgeon of semi-natural habitat and not live in a world entirely made of potatoes, eh?

  116. Brian H says:

    Willis;
    It seems that the projection that has by far the best record is the UN FAO lowrange estimate, lower bound of.

    That now says “peak in 2040, ~8bn”.
    http://overpopulationisamyth.com/images/stories/faq7.jpg
    http://esa.un.org/unpp/

    From http://overpopulationisamyth.com/overpopulation-the-making-of-a-myth#FAQ1

  117. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Brian H says:
    March 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Willis;
    It seems that the projection that has by far the best record is the UN FAO lowrange estimate, lower bound of.

    This has been true for decades, the low end estimates have been the best. When I was a kid, population was supposed to stabilize at about 12 billion. Then it was 11. A decade later it was 10 billion. Now it’s at nine billion, with the low end estimate at 8 billion.

    The US population has doubled since I was a kid. The global population has more than doubled since 1960. Yet despite that, both rich and poor alike are better fed and better clothed and better educated and healthier and live longer than they did in 1960.

    We’re now at about 7 billion people. If we level out at 9.5 billion, that’s a 35% increase from today. If it’s 8 billion, it’s 14% increase. The planet has plenty of resources for that size of increase. Sure, I’d like it to be a quarter of that, but we’ve got what we’ve got, and we have the resources to feed them. As history shows, we’ve been doing better at it every decade for the last half century.

    That’s no reason to be complacent, anyone who has worked in the developing world knows that the challenges are endless. But there’s also no reason to be depressed or predict catastrophe, we’re doing better than ever in all of history. Which, given the huge and rapid rise in world population in the last century, is an accomplishment we can all be proud of … before going back to work on the same issues.

    w.

  118. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jit says:
    March 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Ok, fair cop…

    now someone tell me just how we’re going to increase energy production fourfold with dwindling fossil fuels, every molecule of which we burn is bitterly resented by the greens, with nuclear paddling backwards rapidly owing to Fukushima, and with wind providing a flea’s flea of a sufficiency…

    That’s a reasonable question, Jit. I can give you a general answer. France today gets the majority of its electrical power from a source which was totally untapped at the start of the last century. I would be surprised if the same were not true of this century.

    Which technology will it be? I suspect the winner will be either some type of algal/microbial produced oil, or some kind of synthetic photosynthesis splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, or use-once “candlestick” nukes powered with uranium extracted from sea water, or some kind of fusion power breakthrough … and that’s just the technologies we know about. Atomic energy was a fantasy in 1900, and by 2000 it is the largest or second largest source of energy in many countries. So I don’t know how we will do it.

    What I do know is that humans are eternally ingenious and inventive, and that necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

    And that’s just energy… there is also food…

    Resources for food is not a problem. We could feed 15% more people in Africa just by reducing the currently 25% post-harvest loss. The rain-fed grasslands of the Sudan alone could be a breadbasket feeding all of Africa. The problem is not food or resources for food. The problem is human ills – wars, distribution, corruption, poverty, greed, and all their cousins that have plagued us throughout history.

  119. Feet2theFire says:

    Hey! Wait a minute!!!

    Copying someone’s written or spoken material is plagiarism.

    Using someone else’s work without crediting the source is also a BIG No-No.

    One would think then that removing written material based on someone else’s pointing it out, that that does, in fact, need crediting as a source.

    Any edit to an existing paper or article should have a note informing the readership of the change. Especially errors that are caught and corrected.

    It is to Joe Romm’s shame – and he knows it – to have used something he hadn’t verified. How big a “Tsk tsk” does it take before a scientist gets his medals removed and gets drummed out of the service? Does one need to become a complete joke first? Or do his peers take him in the back office and explain a few things to him?

    But you know what? Willis is getting Romm to eat crow, no matter. Romm is beginning to get the idea that he is a loser masquerading as a scientist.

    Joe: Sloppiness is not science.

  120. Pamela Gray says:

    So the new lexicon is “Super… [insert AGW label of your choice]“. Thanks for cluing us in, author of the super-paper. However, the game was up for half the reading public when warming became “change” and then “Catastrophic…” was added, but some are hanging on till they see “Super Duper…”. However, that still leaves “Ginormous…”. But who am I to keep you from your appointed hour of self-destruction.

  121. Smokey says:

    After reading Willis’ updated comments, it appears that Joe Romm suffers from this syndrome.

  122. @ROM (March 17, 2011 at 3:47 am):

    One aspect of the declining global population growth rate that I have often pondered is the economic question.
    Our entire current global economic system is based on growth, growth and more growth and when the global population increase finally slows down to a stop and becomes a static global population of around the 9 to 9.5 billion then global economic growth will also slow right down.

    I suggest that our entire current global economic system is based on central “banking” making new money available at artificially controlled low interest rates and the subsequent Cantillon effect. It is that structure that requires eternal growth as does any Ponzi scheme. A market-chosen monetary medium of exchange (e.g. gold, silver) whose supply is not under deliberate control, while offering no panacea to all economic plagues, would cure the dual maladies of enriching those who have early access to new money at the expense of those farther down the line and boom/bust business cycles caused by mistaking the availability of cheap money for future consumer demand and thus the cause for increased investment in production factors.

    (I put scare quotes around “banking” because contemporary central “banks” are not the secure repositories of stored money, but rather the creators and distributors of fiat money.)

  123. DEEBEE says:

    Joe is cherry picker in chief. Prostituting his degree to make people believe his agenda, especially those who will be prone to arguments from authority. It is those that he is trying to recruit to his religion.

  124. Al Gored says:

    Another inconvenient assessment by Willis.

    You would think that, given the scrutiny, Romm would now be extremely careful about what he swallows and spews. But apparently not. He must have Tiger Blood or something. But this is so obvious and so careless that one might almost think he’s getting so desperate and stressed that he is losing it…

    But this research actually does fit the general AGW method of using bogus short terms trend stats to make simple straight line projections. 13 billion and, what was it, 5 C by 2050.

    On a more serious scientifically valid note, when my eyes glazed over as I started reading this that globe with the density spikes kind of looks like somebody with a Mohawk and a goatee I saw protesting at Cancun.

    Anyhow, why worry about 2050? Now that the link between CO2, The Warming, and Earthquakes has been clearly established in recent poor reviewed media reports, and the Mayan 2012 prediction looms, may as well stock up the root cellar with carbon credits and brace for the apocalypse.

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