Great moments in failed predictions

Cover of "The Limits to growth: A report ...

Cover via Amazon

UPDATE: New table added below.

While searching for something else, I came across this entertaining collection of grand predictive failures related to resources and climate change, along with some of the biggest predictive failures of Paul Ehrlich. I thought it worth sharing.

Exhaustion of Resources

“Indeed it is certain, it is clear to see, that the earth itself is currently more cultivated and developed than in earlier times. Now all places are accessible, all are documented, all are full of business.  The most charming farms obliterate empty places, ploughed fields vanquish forests, herds drive out wild beasts, sandy places are planted with crops, stones are fixed, swamps drained, and there are such great cities where formerly hardly a hut… everywhere there is a dwelling, everywhere a multitude, everywhere a government, everywhere there is life. The greatest evidence of the large number of people: we are burdensome to the world, the resources are scarcely adequate to us; and our needs straiten us and complaints are everywhere while already nature does not sustain us.”

  • In 1865, Stanley Jevons (one of the most recognized 19th century economists) predicted that England would run out of coal by 1900, and that England’s factories would grind to a standstill.
  • In 1885, the US Geological Survey announced that there was “little or no chance” of oil being discovered in California.
  • In 1891, it said the same thing about Kansas and Texas. (See Osterfeld, David. Prosperity Versus Planning : How Government Stifles Economic Growth. New York : Oxford University Press, 1992.)
  • In 1939 the US Department of the Interior said that American oil supplies would last only another 13 years.
  • 1944 federal government review predicted that by now the US would have exhausted its reserves of 21 of 41 commodities it examined. Among them were tin, nickel, zinc, lead and manganese.
  • In 1949 the Secretary of the Interior announced that the end of US oil was in sight.

Claim: In 1952 the US President’s Materials Policy Commission concluded that by the mid-1970s copper production in the US could not exceed 800,000 tons and that lead production would be at most 300,000 tons per year.


Data: But copper production in 1973 was 1.6 million tons, and by 1974 lead production had reached 614,000 tons – 100% higher than predicted.

Claims: In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb and declared that the battle to feed humanity had been lost and that there would be a major food shortage in the US. “In the 1970s … hundreds of millions are going to starve to death,” and by the 1980s most of the world’s important resources would be depleted. He forecast that 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980-1989 and that by 1999, the US population would decline to 22.6 million. The problems in the US would be relatively minor compared to those in the rest of the world. (Ehrlich, Paul R. The Population Bomb. New York, Ballantine Books, 1968.) New Scientist magazine underscored his speech in an editorial titled “In Praise of Prophets.”

Claim: “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” Paul Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.

Claim: Ehrlich wrote in 1968, “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971, if ever.”
Data: Yet in a only few years India was exporting food and significantly changed its food production capacity. Ehrlich must have noted this because in the 1971 version of his book this comment is deleted (Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource, Princeton: Princeton Univesity Press, 1981, p. 64).

The Limits to Growth (1972) – projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and natural gas by 1993. It also stated that the world had only 33-49 years of aluminum resources left, which means we should run out sometime between 2005-2021. (See Donella Meadows et al., The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: New American Library, 1972.

Claim: In 1974, the US Geological Survey announced “at 1974 technology and 1974 price” the US had only a 10-year supply of natural gas.

Data: The American Gas Association said that gas supplies were sufficient for the next 1,000-2,500 years. (Julian Simon, Population Matters. New Jersey: Transaction Publications, 1990): p. 90.

Population and Poverty

In the mid 1970s the US government sponsored a travelling exhibit for schoolchildren titled, “Population: The Problem is Us.” (Jacqueline Kasun, The War Against Population, San Francisco: CA, Ignatius, 1988, p. 21.)

In 1973, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s vote in Roe v. Wade was influenced by this idea, according to Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong: “As Stewart saw it, abortion was becoming one reasonable solution to population control” (quoted in Newsweek of September 14, 1987, p. 33.).

In 1989, when the US Supreme Court was hearing the Webster case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor brought the idea of overpopulation into a hypothetical question she asked of Charles Fried, former solicitor-general, “Do you think that the state has the right to, if in a future century we had a serious overpopulation problem, has a right to require women to have abortions after so many children?”

World Bank president Barber Conable calls for population control because “poverty and rapid population growth reinforce each other” (Washington Post, July 16, 1990, p. A13)
Prince Philip advises us that “It must be obvious by now that further population growth in any country is undesirable” (Washington Post, May 8, 1990, p. A26)
37 Senators wrote President Bush in support of funding for population control (Washington Post, April 1, 1990, p. H1)
The Trilateral Commission and the American Assembly call for reduction in population growth (U. S. News and World Report, May 7, 1990)
Newsweek‘s year-ending cover story concluded that “Foremost of the new realities is the world’s population problem” (December 25, 1990, p.44)
The president of NOW warns that continued population growth would be a “catastrophe” (Nat Hentoff in the Washington Post, July 29, 1989, p. A17)

Ted Turner (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wed. Dec. 2, 1998) in an address to the Society of Environmental Journalists in Chattanooga – blamed Christianity for overpopulation and environmental degradation, and argued that the people who disagree with him are “dummies.” He stated in part, “The Judeo-Christian religion says man was given dominion over everything, and his salvation was that he was to go out and increase and multiply. Well, we have done that … to the point where in Calcutta, it’s a hellhole. So it’s not an environmentally friendly religion.”

Ellen Goodman laments “People Pollution” (Washington Post, March 3, 1990, p. A25)
Herblock cartoon shows that the U. S. neglecting the “world population explosion” (Washington Post, July 19, 1990, p. A22)
Hobart Rowen likens population growth to “the pond weed [which] grows in huge leaps” (Washington Post, April 1, 1990, p. H8).
A Newsweek “My Turn” suggests giving every teen-age girl a check for up to $1200 each year that she does not have a baby “in order to stop the relentless increase of humanity” (Noel Perrin. “A Nonbearing Account”, April 2, 1990, p. 9).

Climate Change

Claim Jan. 1970: “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” Life Magazine, January 1970. Life Magazine also noted that some people disagree, “but scientists have solid experimental and historical evidence to support each of the predictions.”
Data: Air quality has actually improved since 1970. Studies find that sunlight reaching the Earth fell by somewhere between 3 and 5 percent over the period in question.

Claim April 1970: “If present trends continue, the world will be … eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” Kenneth E.F. Watt, in Earth Day, 1970.
Data: According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1970.

Claim 1970: “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” Paul Ehrlich, speech during Earth Day, 1970.

Claim 1972: “Artic specialist Bernt Balchen says a general warming trend over the North Pole is melting the polar ice cap and may produce an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the year 2000.” Christian Science Monitor, June 8, 1972.
Data: Ice coverage has fallen, though as of last month, the Arctic Ocean had 3.82 million square miles of ice cover — an area larger than the continental United States — according to The National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Claims 1974: “… when metereologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age. Telltale signs are everywhere–from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice int eh waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data fro the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadia Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.”
Later in the article, “Whatever the cause of the cooling trend, its effects could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic. Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface could tip teh climatic balance, and cool the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years.”
Source: “Another Ice Age,” Time Magazine, June 24, 1974.

Claim 1989: “Using computer models, researchers concluded that global warming would raise average annual temperatures nationwide two degrees by 2010.” Associated Press, May 15, 1989.
Data: According to NASA, global temperature has increased by about 0.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1989. And U.S. temperature has increased even less over the same period.

Claims: “Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.”
“Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and … are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters–which scientists are attributing to global climate change–produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.”
“London’s last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.” “Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community.”
According to Dr. David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years “children just aren’t going to know what snow is” and winter snowfall will be “a very rare and exciting event.” Interviewed by the UK Independent, March 20, 2000.
“David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow.”
See “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.” The Independent. March 20, 2000.
Data: “Coldest December Since records began as temperatures plummet to minus 10 C bringing travel chaos across Britain.” Mailonline. Dec. 18, 2010.

Claim: “[By] 1995, the greenhouse effect would be desolating the heartlands of North America and Eurasia with horrific drought, causing crop failures and food riots … [By 1996] The Platte River of Nebraska would be dry, while a continent-wide black blizzard of prairie topsoil will stop traffic on interstates, strip paint from houses and shut down computers.” Michel Oppenheimer and Robert H. Boyle, Dead Heat, St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Oppenheimer is the Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School and the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University. He is the Director of the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the Wilson School. He was formerly a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, the largest non-governmental organization in the U.S. that examines problems and solutions to greenhouse gases.

Data: When asked about these old predictions Oppenheimer stated, “On the whole I would stand by these predictions — not predictions, sorry, scenarios — as having at least in a general way actually come true,” he said. “There’s been extensive drought, devastating drought, in significant parts of the world. The fraction of the world that’s in drought has increased over that period.”

However, that claim is not obviously true. Data from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center show that precipitation — rain and snow — has increased slightly over the century.

How could scientists have made such off-base claims? Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of “The Population Bomb” and president of Stanford University’s Center for Conservation Biology, told FoxNews.com that ideas about climate science changed a great deal in the the ’70s and ’80s.

Ehrlich told FoxNews.com that the consequences of future warming could be dire.

=============================================================

Source: University of Georgia, Terry College of Business. Economics 2200, Economic Development of the US, David B. Mustard

http://www.terry.uga.edu/~mustard/courses/e2200/pop.htm

UPDATE: reader Dennis Wingo writes in with this table:

Great article.  I went into this myself in my book “Moonrush“,  I took all of the predictions for the depletion of resources from the book and marked in red the deadlines that had already passed.  All of the predictions failed.

limits_wingo

About these ads

269 thoughts on “Great moments in failed predictions

  1. I suggest a law in which every scientist who makes a public prediction of doom has to place £50,000 (or other suitable sum based upon ability to pay) into a deposit account. If the prediction turns out to be wrong, they lose the deposit.

  2. At least we can be comforted by the knowledge made a lot of money peddling fantasy predictions.

    Clearly a tradition proudly followed by climate scientists today.

  3. Ah… but at least: “The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.”
              Admiral William Leahy , US Atomic Bomb Project

  4. Some one should write to Ted Turner and inform him that Calcutta has very few Christians, which makes his example patently stupid.

  5. I’m normally a fan, but knocking Limits to Growth for saying that it “projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and natural gas by 1993″ is simply false. For a hard-nosed look at what LTG actually said, I recommend the late Matt Simmons review here (Simmons was a very successful investment banker specialising in the oil industry). Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.

  6. Sat at home in NE Englnad watching the snow coming down on the 4 inches that is already on the ground, with a temperature of zero celsius. I am making the most of it as according to the “experts” I am not likely to see this again!
    I remember being told by my chemistry teacher that the C grade I needed at A’ level to get into university was unattainable, and I would be lucky to get a pass. I did get the C grade and did go to university!
    Don’t scientists ever make predictions that are positive, or is modern science all about pessimism?

  7. Which environmental group produced the following quote?

    The outstanding generahzations of my world tour are what may be summed up as the “six overs”; these “six overs” are, in the genetic order of cause and effect

    Over-destruction of natural resources, now actually world-wide;

    Over-mechanization, in the substitution of the machine for animal and human labor, rapidly becoming world-wide;

    Over-construction of warehouses, ships, railroads, wharves and other means of trans- port, replacing primitive transportation;

    Over-production both of the food and of the mechanical wants of mankind, chiefly during the post-war speculative period;

    Over-confidence in future demand and supply, resulting in the too rapid extension of natural resources both in food and in mechanical equipment;

    Over-population beyond the land areas, or the capacity of the natural and scientific resources of the world, with consequent permanent unemployment of the least fitted.

    Answer:

    http://ia700402.us.archive.org/2/items/decadeofprogress00inte/decadeofprogress00inte.pdf

    “A Decade of Progress in Eugenics”, 1934 (proceeds of the 3rd International Eugenics Congress, 1932) p30 – 31.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Eugenics_Conference

  8. As that famous philosopher Yogi Berra is quoted as saying “Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.” Human beings have a habit of making predictions that subsequently come back to haunt them:

    “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

    “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

    “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

    “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

  9. Any real prediction needs to be based on measurements and thorough information. So take the prediction

    “In 1865, Stanley Jevons (one of the most recognized 19th century economists) predicted that England would run out of coal by 1900, and that England’s factories would grind to a standstill.”

    It would be better worded (given it’s an economist making a prediction) to say the following

    “In order to meet the English need for coal in 1900 the following reserves (X) and rate of production (Y) need to be identified and achieved.

    If Jevons was in a situation where a thorough survey for coal reserves had been carried out then it would be reasonable to predict as follows.

    “There are insufficient coal reserves available in surveyed areas to meet England’s need for coal in 1900″.

    If one then considers climate change predictions, it is much harder than Jevons’s conundrum to formulate a sensible prediction because of the large number of interacting variables in a chaotic system. One attempt to make predictions sound sensible is the use of statistical confidence statements but that is a false veneer of reasonableness. No amount of using Monte Carlo type methods on models that are physically wrong will create a good prediction anyway, Bayseian methods will be no better than guesses, and that is just for the climate part. Trying to predict regional change is going to be even more difficult and the consequent affect on say global agricultural production even harder.

    The saving grace is that any climate change happens slowly compared to societal change and hence adaptation can move at that pace if needed.

  10. You forgot the one about London disappearing under a mountain of Horse poo from Horse drawn carriages made in the 1800’s, the automotive car came to the rescue ;)

  11. Sam Norton
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am
    … Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.

    The price of oil has not tripled, the value of the America dollar has plummeted. Simply making something worth more in dollars has no stimulus effect if the value of the dollar has dropped. As Ron Paul once said, the value of oil in terms of gold or silver has not risen, it has dropped in price – it is only when comparing the price of oil to rapidly inflating currencies like the US dollar that it looks like a steep rise in price is occurring.

  12. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:

    Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.

    Excuse me?

    Oil production matches demand.

    What, you think we store it somewhere?

    And, gee, oil is continually being found, except in areas where searching for oil has been blocked. There are a lot of oil reserves that are off limits for production. And as an ALBERTA resident, I see a dramatic increase in production up north.

    Look… a lot of “resource limits” are simply the result of the easiest deposits being exhausted. These doomsaying alarmist warnings about running out of things at a certain time make perfect sense to the people making them, but they assume that nothing else will change. Resources, raw materials, etc will be located and used, or exploited, as the need arises. The planet is a HUGE place.

  13. And the most common error is projecting the past into the future. No one can forsee future changes in direction.

  14. Hi Anthony, you ask, “How could scientists have made such off-base claims?”.
    The answer as you well know is “Because they can”, at no cost to themselves and even, probably, some gain.
    But if we’re honest the fault lies ultimately with ourselves – we love to read of doom and prophecies and so the MSM gives us what we want.
    Add to that the public’s wish for self-flagellation and constant battle to increase their “caring” credentials we have a potent mix – currently. We are then surprised when our politicians react to that (they want to remain in power after all) and curry favour with the most vociferous.
    We have lived in “good times” too long, concentrating on things of very little value. As long as we have had the latest gadgets, holidays abroad and bigger houses we have paid scant attention to what has been going on in the engine room. In doing so we have allowed democracy to wither away (certainly in the UK).
    I believe one huge benefit the banking crisis has brought is a large dose of reality and therefore the need for pragmatism. With the help of blogs like this we can now see there are other ways of looking at issues and see others who are asking the same questions as oneself. A great help when deciding to question the orthodoxy. I genuinely believe the worm is turning and will gather pace when the real pain starts to be felt – we ain’t seen nothing yet.
    The actual issue is, do we have politicians who have the sense and foresight to see through the noise and crap and come up with sensible choices? If not then the public needs to do something about it.

    Thanks for all you do.

  15. I find it astonishing that there can be such amazing errors in these predictions and yet when someone voices a sceptical opinion of climate science today they are demonised.

    It would seem that some famous/notorious climate scientists are destined to relive history with their current crop of predictions.

    Here’s a radical thought – if someone has a competing theory that explains the climate conditions we are OBSERVING today, the rest of the scientific community listens and judges that theory on its scientific merits rather than condemning that person as an anti-scientific denier.

  16. Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?

  17. Claim: “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” Paul Ehrlich, Speech at British Institute For Biology, September 1971.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Well he was pretty close on that one. The UK is now just a region of the EU, unable to grasp control of it’s own affairs from the bureaucrats in Brussels. O’bama should mind his own bloody business when it comes to the UK choosing to get out of the mess that the EU has become.

  18. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is”

    I don’t know if they know what it is or not but they are making a snowman in the field opposite as I write.

    Yep, the UK is again buried in that thing from the past.

  19. I might point out that John Cook of Skeptical (Non)Science dedicates his book “Head in the sand” about global warming alarmism, to Paul Ehrlich, as one who ‘first alerted the world’ to various impending doom and gloom. It shows that, according to John Cook, it isn’t whether something turns out to be true or not as to whether it has value, but whether it conforms to an anti-industrial mantra.

  20. And the Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award for making consistently alarmist but spectacularly wrong predictions goes to …

    Paul Ehrlich.

  21. Another large part of the increase in oil prices has been the demand for oil related financial instruments . In 1995 there were 400,000 open interest contracts to the recent peak of 1,600,000.

  22. But I can a prediction that will come true, whatever:

    “There will always be people who make predictions that will not come true.”

    (Now even if I’m wrong, is my prediction really wrong? Ah, logic, who needs it?)

  23. I think the reason why these prophets of doom fail time and again is because they think there will be no more technological / agricultural advances.

    From Horse Power to Horsepower
    IN 1898 , DELEGATES FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE gathered in New York City for the world’s first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It was not housing, land use, economic development, or infrastructure. The delegates were driven to desperation by horse manure…………….

    The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed…………………….

    In New York in 1900, 200 persons were killed by horses and horse-drawn vehicles. This contrasts with 344 auto-related fatalities in New York in 2003; given the modern city’s greater population, this means the fatality rate per capita in the horse era was roughly 75 percent higher than today.

    http://www.uctc.net/access/30/Access%2030%20-%2002%20-%20Horse%20Power.pdf

    ———

    http://bytesdaily.blogspot.com/2011/07/great-horse-manure-crisis-of-1894.html

    Failed predictions / projections / scenarios of CAGW.

    http://www.c3headlines.com/predictionsforecasts/

    Fail!

    http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/tag/predictions-that-failed/

    On UK snow being a thing of the past there has within the last week been transport chaos and food panic buying.

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/uk-snow–supermarkets-left-with-empty-shelves-from-panic-buying-114529619.html

  24. Robbie says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:28 am (Edit)
    Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?

    ————————————————————————————

    Hi Robbie, you seem a bit fraught so you may wish to consider a couple of things . .

    1. We use less farmland today than we did 10 years ago because of huge upgrades in our productivity. This trend is expected to continue even as we head towards a peak population of 9 billion in mid century whereafter there will be a decline in global population.

    2. We have barely scratched a few insignificant holes into the Earth’s crust which is truly enormous varying in thickness of between 3-10km under the oceans and 30-50km thick on the continents. To all practical purposes the availability of resources is essentially unlimited given technology and need.

    There are no practical limits on mankind presented by resources. That seems to be lost on the Ehrlichs of our time. It is also important to understand that as much as we use it never goes away. That is true of copper or water or hydrocarbons. All are ultimately re-usable by applying inventiveness, technology and need. What is truly astonishing is that, thanks to our use of energy, it takes progressively less and less human effort to achieve any given standard of living. The availability of energy has truly liberated mankind and that can easily be established by simply comparing societies which are low users with those that have developed to the extent that life expectancy rates are much higher thanks to cheap and ubiquitous energy being reliably available.

    The awesome improvement in the human condition, starting in the late 1700’s, thanks to the rapidly expanding availability of energy that doesn’t rely on human and animal physical effort is what makes us more able to deal with whatever set backs are thrust upon us.

  25. We occupy such a small percentage of the planet’s surface. Wait until we start mining the ocean floor. Deep water drilling for oil and gas is probably just the start.

  26. Interesting. Funny how hard it is to keep oneself from making predictions (especially about the future). But I checked Jevons’s, and it looks like he was not entirely off the mark:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Coal_Question#Global_developments_after_Jevons

    I would expect that of him, because he used a form of self-restraint that we all seek for ourselves, or at least appreciate in others:

    http://archive.org/stream/theprinciplesof00jevoiala#page/n7/mode/2up

    (a worthwhile read, by the way)

  27. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    Crazy we will have with us always.
    From the snippets Anthony includes, we can see direct evidence of the culture war and the deadly claims of the radical environmentalists. This one is worth repeating: Claim from April 1970: “If present trends continue, the world will be … eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” Kenneth E.F. Watt, in Earth Day, 1970.

  28. “Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?”

    Whale bone, mast timbers, paraffin, animal skins, guano…they’re running out! Not even the powers of the abacus and slide rule can save us.

  29. I vividly recall the impact of LTG in 1972 when it became the bible for the then new Ecology course being taught by the brand-new Open University – and I still have my copy(I keep it handy to remind me of man’s folly). The memory I have of that book is how everyone felt it was so important, rather in the same way that Gore’s Inconvenient Truth is to this generation – and they are both crocks of ‘merde’.

  30. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am
    “I’m normally a fan, but knocking Limits to Growth for saying that it “projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and natural gas by 1993″ is simply false. For a hard-nosed look at what LTG actually said, I recommend the late Matt Simmons review here”

    I’m not inclined to read that entire book. So I scanned for “Gold”. No hits. “Lead”. No hits.
    The book you are linking to says nothing about the predicted running out of reserves by the Club Of Rome, it seems to me.

    So why do you call it a hardnosed look at LTG? It’s nothing of the kind.

  31. Prince Philip advises us that “It must be obvious by now that further population growth in any country is undesirable”

    I want to remind her ladyship that he has 4 children. :)
    Ted Turner
    ““The Judeo-Christian religion says man was given dominion over everything, and his salvation was that he was to go out and increase and multiply. Well, we have done that … to the point where in Calcutta, it’s a hellhole.”
    May I remind this green hypocrite that he has at least 5 children. I understand that he is so concerned for the environment, overpopulation and the world’s resources. What’s he ever done about it?

    “The “Mouth of the South” is no longer as he devotes his time (and $1 billion) to the U.N., jets between 28 homes and four girlfriends, misses Jane Fonda”

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ted-turner-jane-fonda-cnn-time-warner-295773

  32. Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?

    Unlimited… infinite… indefinitely… Oh, you’re right of course. In 30,000 years there might be problems but hat’s really none of our concern today. Next week’s problems are for next week. Our problems are dealing with today and tomorrow.

    Within a couple of hundred it’s entirely possible that we’ve perfected fusion or pulling energy out of the quantum froth and have basically an infinite supply of energy. May also be able to engineer matter on a bulk scale, or at least be able to go and get it from elsewhere (moon, mars, asteroids, etc)

    The problem with the Ted Turner’s of the world is that they have an inability to conceive of a world that evolves in a positive way. They draw a graph, extrapolate a line and tell the world that they’re doomed unless they choose to doom themselves first. That conditions can change and make their graph a laughing stock doesn’t even seem to be a possibility in their tiny minds.

  33. Robbie says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:28 am
    “Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?”

    The predictions have failed, Robbie. Now, will you be a nice believer and believe everything Hansen, Ehrlich or Lester Brown say?

    Thought so. Attaboy.

  34. It seems odd the prediction that so many would die from starvation yet with such a greatly reduced number of mouths to feed, starvation would continue. I doubt that farmers would be the first to starve to death.
    A real world scenario of such a situation did take place in recent history:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7916312.stm

    – –
    If you every “fly” around the globe using Google Earth, you will find vast areas of the earth with no sign of human habitat.
    It took 70 years to come across a crashed airplane:

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/11/world/british-wwii-plane/index.html

  35. Anthony, Is not the head quotation, Tertullian 300 CE +/- ? Wasn’t that fellow in the organized religion business and might not that be a guide to the real livelihoods of some of your other predictors?

  36. http://hauntingthelibrary.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/limits-to-growth-heres-what-you-never-hear-about-it-and-the-truth

    About Alexander King, the Club Of Rome member that comissioned the LTG “study”, and his own words from his memoirs:
    ” King stresses that the study was not by the Club of Rome, but for the Club of Rome who commissioned it.
    And what did they think of their own study?

    [King]:
    “When the Club had the opportunity to discuss Limits it was clear that many of the members were
    unconvinced by its conclusions on matters that they had never before discussed.
    Indeed, I felt that a majority did not accept it. Limits had a distinctly neo-Malthusian flavour
    clearly unpalatable to those amongst us who were technological optimists and we all
    regretted that the work had paid insufficient attention to the great human and social issues (p. 338).”

    That’s right – even the Club that commissioned the study did not accept its findings,
    in particular its gloomy, Malthusian tone. King happily agrees that “criticism concerning lack
    of appreciation of technological change, the power of the market and the degree of aggregation
    were, of course, valid” (p.339).”

  37. I think all these gloom and doom ‘scientists’ reports, books, and articles are dangerous. I think we should ban all that hold more than 6 claims of doom. Why would they ever need more than 6 clams? Oh, and if you want to write one, you need to have a psychiatric test and pass an extensive background check. That should make us all safer.

  38. Ahh, a collection of retrocasts, thank you Anthony Watts.

    And thank you Eric Worrall on the value of the USDollar. I apologize for misspelling your name the other day on Ixodes holocyclus.

    It would be illuminating to return the dollar basis to a stable commodity like gold. If we observe little to no change in the value of the US, then inverting stock prices is as informative.

  39. Oh noe! We are doomed! Or is this going to be another failed prediction?

    The Economist – 29 October, 2009
    Falling fertility
    Astonishing falls in the fertility rate are bringing with them big benefits
    Now, something similar is happening in developing countries. Fertility is falling and families are shrinking in places— such as Brazil, Indonesia, and even parts of India—that people think of as teeming with children. As our briefing shows, the fertility rate of half the world is now 2.1 or less—the magic number that is consistent with a stable population and is usually called “the replacement rate of fertility”. Sometime between 2020 and 2050 the world’s fertility rate will fall below the global replacement rate.

    http://www.economist.com/node/14744915

    The end is nigh!

    “Apocalypse Not: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Worry About End Times”
    Matt Ridley

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/ff_apocalypsenot

    “Apocalypse maybe”
    Matt Ridley

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/21/apocalypse-maybe/

  40. Claim from April 1970: “If present trends continue, the world will be … eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.” Kenneth E.F. Watt, in Earth Day, 1970.

    Let the record show that Kenneth E. F. Watt is no relation of mine.

  41. omnologos says:

    January 19, 2013 at 3:59 am

    ‘Does anybody know of a collection of predictions that turned out right?’

    Yes, the prediction that all doomsday predictions would be wrong.

  42. London may not be knee deep in horse manure but the area around Westminster and the Department for Climate Change is full of male bovine excreta

  43. I noticed my copy of Ehrlich’s Pop Bomb on a bookshelf in my cabin the other day still sitting where I put it some 35 or 40 years ago. Some day I will make the effort to read it again, but probably not today or tomorrow. I recall not enjoying it much back in the 1970s when I first bought it and read it. Or I could use it to start a fire. This has been a very cold winter so far.

  44. Robbie says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?

    Are you assuming that the world’s population will continue rising for “an unlimited amount of time on a planet”? It MAY start contracting this century, then again maybe not. (I don’t want to be caught out making a prediction) :-)

    http://www.economist.com/node/14744915

    http://www.med.uottawa.ca/sim/data/Birth_Rate_Decline_e.htm

  45. I am FIRMLY against abortion but think allowing retroactive abortions for those like Paul Ehrlich might be acceptable

  46. Beating my Black Swan drum – boom, Boom, BOOM, BOOM – Taleb has much to say on prediction, cautions against the Ludic Fallacy, and to Doxastic commitment.

    The Ludic Fallacy is the fallacious belief that reality has game-like rules. Doxastic commitment is committing a pound of ones own flesh to expressions of opinion. (Ancient Greek δοξασία doxasia, “belief, opinion, conviction”).

  47. “Global production of corn, wheat and rice have all more than doubled since 1970 as global warming occurred. Corn production, the current flavor of the week for Internet fear-mongering, has more than tripled since 1970. So, too, has global vegetable production as a whole.

    “Importantly, higher crop production is resulting from higher yields per acre rather than merely an increase in land dedicated to crop production.”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/01/16/fortified-by-global-warming-crop-production-keeps-breaking-records/

    The article links to GeoHive which gives statistics for the huge increase in production of all crops since 1970:

    http://www.geohive.com/charts/ag_crops.aspx

  48. Robbie says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:28 am
    Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?
    _____________

    Robbie, could you point to anything that he wrote that even hinted at such a suggestion? Reductio ad absurdum is a clever, but empty, debate tactic.

    It is quite clear that catastrophic predictions of resource depletion have been hyperbolic, at best, and have in many cases been intentionally fraudulent. The obvious point that Mr. Watts was making in this post is that trusting Paul Erlich and those he relies on for science that supports his predictions is folly.

  49. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am
    ….. Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Politics, Regulations and Cartels, Reduction of oil refinery capacity, prohibition on drilling.

    In other words Who makes What and for Whom?

    “And who decides that?

    This is the foundational question of Economics.”

    The basic plan for a would be monopoly is to have enough back-up capital to sell cheap and drive the other guys out of business then raising your prices. A chain feed store just pulled that trick in my town a few years ago. The newer method is more sure fired. Buy politicians who pass the laws you wrote raising the entry bar on the industry beyond the level most newcomers can meet and then ‘pack’ the resulting bureaucracy with ‘your people’ so the regulations are selectively enforced. An Example

    If you have a monopoly/cartel the last thing you want to do is flood the market. You want to make the product scare and expensive. Think of the difference in profit between Chanel # 5 and ‘Evening at Walmart’

    Why work harder for less money per unit of goods? Who in their right mind would want a glut on the market?

    There is plenty of historic evidence of “Monopoly Practices” causing economic destruction of the non-monopolists and for the prices after monopoly (or cooperating oligopoly) to be damagingly high to the economy as a whole. Now that ‘big money’ has targeted food as the next bubble, if you pay attention you can watch how ‘big money’ engineers a bubble and profits from it. link

  50. Claim from April 1970: “If present trends continue, the world will be … eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age.”
    This makes perfect sense to me. In spring time it may happen that each day the temperature increases with one degree. If that trend continues, we will be cooked within a year.

  51. UK Sceptic says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:09 am

    WOLF!!!!!
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Best comment on the thread.

    Now I have to clean my computer again.

  52. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:

    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    “Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.”

    Wow! I guess old Sam must be living in Cassablanca playing piano, and NOT paying attention.

    Worldwide oil PRODUCTION is about 40% more than a “decade” ago. AND, the production from the Bakken now EXCEEDS the “North Slope” in Alaska. By the way, the practical cost of oil (inflation considered) IS NOT 3 times, about 1.7 compared to 10 years ago. HOWEVER the cost of natural gas (inflation included) is about 1/2 (at the delivery point). AN ARGUEMENT CAN BE MADE that the peak price of Natural Gas helped the foundation for the current abundant supply.

    Sorry Sam, you can’t “play it again” with the Malthusian arguement.

  53. Jim south London says:
    January 19, 2013 at 6:09 am
    And who predicted that invading Iraq would turn into a blood bath and cost thousands of lives.
    ===========================================================================

    Me, for starters. Had a stand up with a beloved cousin and the husband of another such. They both thought it was long overdue. I said we had opened Pandora’s Box, and that what would ensue would be horrific. No, I’m not that smart. I simply extrapolated what has always happened when we mess arouns with the Middle East.

    Same goes for the “Arab Spring” which has rapidly become the Arab Winter. It seems that every terrorist group in Africa now has been armed by the fallout from Gaddhafi’s demise.

  54. Go Home says:
    January 19, 2013 at 4:50 am

    I think all these gloom and doom ‘scientists’ reports, books, and articles are dangerous. I think we should ban all that hold more than 6 claims of doom. Why would they ever need more than 6 clams? Oh, and if you want to write one, you need to have a psychiatric test and pass an extensive background check. That should make us all safer.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    A psychiatric test by this guy?

  55. Thanks, Anthony, for a very thoughtful and telling retrospective of ‘scientific’ scaremongering over the decades. Sometimes it’s so very useful to look back at what history might have to tell us about both our present and our possible future. An excellent piece which I sincerely wish could be shown to schoolchildren instead of (or perhaps as well as) Gore’s deplorable science fiction movie, which, as readers here might know, is shown as matter of course in UK classrooms as part of the United Kingdom government’s wretched pro-CAGW ‘educational’ man-made climate change indoctrination program.

  56. The new book by Nate Silver – “The signal and the noise. Why so many predictions fail – but some don’t”, is a very interesting read on this topic. Nate is the guy who predicted the results of the presidential election so accurately and so his insights and methods have a decent track record.
    He also discusses climate change predictions in his book. It would be interesting to see Anthony’s or Willis’s views on this chapter in Nate’s book, particularly in view of the Met’s and Hansen’s walking back of their warming forecasts

  57. Jim south London says:
    January 19, 2013 at 6:09 am
    “And who predicted that invading Iraq would turn into a blood bath and cost thousands of lives.”

    Don’t know what that has to do with anything, but I did – in my opinion countries like Iraq should only be controlled from the air – too many rifles around. In fact, my prediction made me vote for Schroeder, a social-democrat, because he promised not to send German troops, a promise that he even kept, quite remarkable that. Gulf war 1 was an easy containment effort; Gulf war 2 turned into the expected costly desaster – due to the deployment of ground troops.

    As we see now, pretty much for nought.

  58. “The Limits to Growth (1972) – projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, ”

    That report consedered several different scenarios. The 1981 figure is what they got if they assumed exponential growth in demand and no new reserves found. It thus is the most pessimistic scenario, not the one considered most likely. They also added a scenario with 5 times the known reserves leading to reserves running out 2001. Obviously they did get something wrong here too, and in that case it was the growth in production. LTG assumed an annual growth 0f 4.1% while in reality it has been only 1.6%.

    It’s the same for petroleum where the figure for no more reserves found is quoted.You can find some more data over at the wikipedia page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth

    I don’t know how reliable the rest of that list is, but the statements on LTG are definitely misleading.

  59. Examining an investor’s claim about resources running out –

    “What Jeremy Grantham Gets Horribly, Horribly, Wrong About Resource Availability”

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/11/16/what-jeremy-grantham-gets-horribly-horribly-wrong-about-resource-availability/

    “To a useful level of accuracy the mining world divides the world up into dirt and ore. Your allotment patch contains gold, rare earths, uranium and all sorts of other lovely metals. However, your allotment patch is dirt. For while we do know how to extract all of those metals the cost of doing so would be higher than any value that could be recovered.”

  60. Yes there was also Y2K, and just before that we were all going to die of AIDS in the West. I did my research and didn’t buy into either (and was scorned for that, needless to say, by all my leftie friends)

    It really is high time we stopped called the AGW scaremongers ‘climate scientists’.

    Scepticism is as we all know the one prerequisite for science, and these people have no understanding of scientific principle, nor of its methodology

    The academics working in the climate field should really be classified as ‘Climate Modelers’. It confuses those who don’t follow the science and the arguments (which is most people, and includes environmental commentators) to associate these academics with ‘science’, since none of them has much if any background in any of the pure sciences.

  61. Jimbo says:
    January 19, 2013 at 4:59 am

    Oh noe! We are doomed! Or is this going to be another failed prediction?

    The Economist – 29 October, 2009
    Falling fertility….

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Actually that brings up a whole different set of problems especially when you have whole ‘Socialist’ Governments built on the Ponzi scheme model.

    E.M. Smith discusses the nasty problems caused by changing demographics for various countries here.

    If a government knows about the problem then they can do something. One wonders if the current fad for ‘de-industrialization’ and ‘going Green’ isn’t being pushed by politicians and world leaders who are well aware that the Ponzi Schemes such as FDR’s New Deal are about to go belly up as the baby boomers retire and as a result we will see a major decline in our life styles and bankruptcy of our treasuries.

    Seems the Fabian Socialists in the UK have come up with a solution:
    Death by Fuel Poverty and Death by Hospital: Four patients die thirsty or starving EVERY DAY on our hospital wards show damning new statistics and Visiting a patient in a British hospital? Then take them food and water, just to be safe and NHS gets millions for controversial care pathway “The majority of NHS hospitals in England are being given financial rewards for placing terminally-ill patients on a controversial “pathway” to death…”

    The Liverpool-Care-Pathway is withdrawing all food and water and letting the person die of hunger and thrist with drugs to keep then from complaining. Do that to an animal and they toss you in jail. But if Dr. Nasty does it to old Granny the hospital gets a reward.

    ….The controversy over the LCP was given fresh impetus in the summer when a group of doctors, led by neurologist Professor Patrick Pullicino from the University of Kent, claimed that death on the LCP was a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ and a form of backdoor euthanasia, being used to get rid of difficult patients and to free hospital beds….

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2225009/The-medical-professions-lethal-arrogance-Liverpool-Care-Pathway.html

    From a founding member of the Fabian Society, George Bernard Shaw

    “The moment we face it frankly we are driven to the conclusion that the community has a right to put a price on the right to live in it … If people are fit to live, let them live under decent human conditions. If they are not fit to live, kill them in a decent human way
    Source: George Bernard Shaw, Prefaces (London: Constable
    and Co., 1934), p. 296.

    Makes one feel like cattle or slaves doesn’t it.

  62. Thomas P:

    re your post at January 19, 2013 at 7:18 am.

    ‘Limits to Growth’ is an interesting item of history because it made predictions based on a false premise so those predictions have all been found to be wrong with passage of time.

    In other words, ‘Limits to Growth’ was bollocks. Live with it.

    Richard

  63. Thomas P says:
    January 19, 2013 at 7:18 am
    “I don’t know how reliable the rest of that list is, but the statements on LTG are definitely misleading.”

    No they are not. Read my link to hauntingthelibrary above. He points out that ALL LTG-type models ALWAYS lead to a collapse somewhere down the road because LTG does not consider improvements or new discoveries. So when you start out with assumptions of which you know they are wrong and come out with collapse scenarios which must therefore also be wrong, what would one call this? Shoddy work? Embezzling the customers money? Or the Gold standard of computer modeling?

    In my opinion, the CoR squandered his money, got a pile of dung for it, and wasn’t very happy – maybe they became happy about it later when they saw how many units the book sold, I don’t know CoR members personally. If I could write up a pile of dung like that and sell a million units I’d be happy, I’m like that.

  64. Alan D McIntire says:
    January 19, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Jevons was a liberal in the “classic” sense. You can read his
    “The Theory of Political Economy” here:

    http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Jevons/jvnPE1.html#firstpage-bar

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The key statement to me is
    “Repeated reflection and inquiry have led me to the somewhat novel opinion, that value depends entirely upon utility. Prevailing opinions make labour rather than utility the origin of value; and there are even those who distinctly assert that labour is the cause of value. I show, on the contrary, that we have only to trace out carefully the natural laws of the variation of utility, as depending upon the quantity of commodity in our possession, in order to arrive at a satisfactory theory of exchange, of which the ordinary laws of supply and demand are a necessary consequence.”

    Buggy whips come to mind and the fact horses and riding lessons cost about the same as they did in the 1960’s despite the fact that the actual value of the dollar has dropped like a rock.

  65. “It’s the same for petroleum where the figure for no more reserves found is quoted.You can find some more data over at the wikipedia page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth

    I don’t know how reliable the rest of that list is, but the statements on LTG are definitely misleading.

    The point is not that they had only a single prediction. The point is that their MODELS were incomplete, resulting in bogus predictions. Why would you predict no more reserves? As if technology won’t discover, and allow access to, more reserves over time than the moment the model is put forth? Alternative energy sources (much expanded natural gas is a replacement for oil in many applications) reduce rate of consumption… not really taken into account either, right? Minituration reduces need for copper and requires less power to do much more than what used to take a great deal of power to do inferior work (witness consumer cell phone vs Univac.) Simply extrapolating things from today is almost guaranteed to be a failed prediction.

    Ultimately, any prediction is only as good as their assumptions. Climate Sci assumed that they knew exactly how the world works and have exact values for all of the coefficients. They’re wrong, which is why their predictions have been wrong.

    No one can forecast with any degree of certainty because life is uncertain, and conditions change both independently and in response to the changing conditions. These are all “social science” issues. It’s soft and mushy, not like a nice hard science where a physicist may predict the properties of an unknown element accurately because science is science… it doesn’t really change within a given frame of reference.

  66. Robbie says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:28 am

    “Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?”

    Time to dust off an old calculation of mine – I do this sort of thing as a first quantification of a possible problem: the entire population of the world could tread water in Lake Superior with 15 square metres of water each. If you want to crowd them into a square metre each, then the lake would hold 90 billion.

    Okay that’s how much room we take up. Admittedly, we could use the earth’s resources much better and we have been making considerable improvements. As and example a 50s car averaged 1,680kg whereas today its at 1,100kg. With the electric car, (lithium ion batteries) we will be reducing it even further and with nothing coming out of an exhaust pipe – wow.

    http://www.cefic-efra.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30&Itemid=115

    This sort of thing has been happening with locomotives, etc. etc. Aircraft have gotten much bigger but per passenger it is lighter. You see Robbie, the predictions failed because it isn’t valid to estimate population growth (the one factor they haven’t been too bad on predicting) and multiply it by the per capita kilos of horseshit that will be produced in the future. Regarding copper, lead, zinc and the like, not only have we been reducing our per capita consumption of these but we are recycling these valuable resources (~90% for lead and lead producers are worrying about the decline of the electric battery which is going the way of the dodo). Almost every ounce of gold that has been produced on the planet is largely still in inventory or circulation – we did lose a few Spanish galleons full but will probably find all these). What would we do about a shortage of zinc. Note that most of it is used for coating steel against corrosion: barn rooves, powerline pylons, culverts, automobile bodies ….

    http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/zinc/index.html#mcs

    The shortage isn’t in materials; it is in imagination. Regarding city growth, double the distance from the outskirts to the centre and you have a population of 4 times the smaller city. Moreover, with expansion of dwelling places in the vertical direction, we could perhaps get 6 times the population of the smaller city in the future. Indeed, with a population leveling off at less than 50% more than the present pop, we can state that cities have virtually already reached their largest dimensions. I hope this helps a bit.

  67. Ive half a mind to write to the Royal Society in London, for admitting that moron ( Ehrlich)) to its ranks, including this sorry list of preposterous pontificating.
    The RS clearly has a number of members with only half a mind too.
    Where are the defenders of this illustrious body? Has no one got any balls anymore? Halfwits.

  68. Joe Blogg-er says:
    Why are some climate scientists inclined to frighten the rest of us with catastrophic predictions?

    Sigmund Freud says:
    It is the mother’s fault. “if you don’t eat your vegetables now, the nasty global warming is going to get you! “

  69. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am
    …Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.
    —————————————————————————————————-
    Try “Devaluation of the Dollar”.

    fact is that the Dollar was devaluated (inflated) three-fold over the exact timeframe to which you are referring to (see the Dollar vs. Gold-ratio). Therefore, the price of Crude has in fact not changed one bit. It’s only the currency in which it is priced, which has lot two-thirds of it’s value, compared to oil / Gold, during the past 19 years.

    Hyperinflation coming – anyone? .

  70. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.

    Because oil prices are now decided in the City of London on the futures market. They’re not tied to production cost. The City of London buys up the oil market, essentially taking possession.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/crude-oil-futures-fall-superstorm-sandy-dampens-demand-856046

  71. Ehrlich: “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people”

    Neil: “By the year 2013 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of islands, inhabited by some 70 million unjustly impoverished and angry people”

    Unjustly impoverished by you and your kind, Paul.

  72. Robbie says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Oh really Mr. Watts!
    Are you trying to suggest to your audience with this piece that we (humans) can go on with business as usual for an unlimited amount of time on a planet that has a limited amount of space and resources?
    ———————
    I don’t think Anthony Watts insinuates much, he seems to speak his piece in a pretty straightforward way.
    Speaking for myself though, yes. So long as people are free (government interference is minimized) to try to get rich (three cheers for the power of the profit motive) solving resource problems (capitalism, science, and technology are kept alive and well) we’re going to be OK. The real fear I’ve got is that politicians following the policy recommendations of the IPCC will knock us back to the Dark Ages and effectively remove humanity’s ability to cope with these problems.

  73. It is alright to laugh at the failed predictions of the past. Question is how to learn from this. It could be that there could be potential problems out there will suddenly magnify into much larger, calamitous ones – like AIDS. We need to be able to sort the good evidence from the speculative and the plain crazy.

    An example is WS Jevons. In “The Coal Question” 1865 Jevons did predict that coal would run out in England by 1900. He also made some insights on renewable energy that are still relevant 150 years on.

    On Wind Power
    “The first great requisite of motive power is, that it shall be wholly at our command, to be exerted when, and where, and in what degree we desire.”

    On Hydro
    “When an abundant natural fall of water is at hand, nothing can be cheaper or better than water power. But everything depends upon local circumstances.” Then went on to describe the expense of building reservoirs.

    Jevons also pointed out that more efficient means of energy use also leads to higher consumption not lower. More efficient light bulbs, for instance, increase the demand for light, so can lead to more energy consumption.

    http://www.masterresource.org/2011/11/economist-magazine-debate-renewable-energy-can-the-euuk-intelligentsia-wean-itself-off-renewables-i/

  74. Again I would like to recommend everyone to read one of the most thought provoking and brilliant books I have ever read: Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail And Why Do We Believe Them Anyway by Dan Gardner.

    You could say that Ehrlich plays the lead part.

  75. @Sam Norton January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Sam you’ve overlooked or ignored the oil and natural gas fracking boom going on around the globe. This boom is set to provide the world enough natural gas for a couple of hundred years or more, and oil for a hundred or so years. That’s if they only recover about 30% of the shale oil and natural gas. Don’t bet on them not figuring out how to get perhaps 75% in the next 20 years or so.

  76. Gail Combs says January 19, 2013 at 6:29 am

    There is plenty of historic evidence of “Monopoly Practices” causing economic destruction of the non-monopolists and for the prices after monopoly (or cooperating oligopoly) to be damagingly high to the economy as a whole. Now that ‘big money’ has targeted food as the next bubble, if you pay attention you can watch how ‘big money’ engineers a bubble and profits from it. link

    One might be tempted (or lead) to think that with all this accrued knowledge and wisdom you might be on the issuing-end of a monthly financial newsletter, or perhaps another reigning financial maven in the Warren Buffet class dispatching wise, sage advice to an admiring crowd.

    But, sadly, no …

    Instead, ‘product constitution’ consists of a populist re-hash of ‘agitprop’ straight from the muck-raking (newspaper) era … does the name Ida M. Tarball ring a bell?

    .
    .
    PS. You are as free as the next person to invest in the commodities futures market.

    .

  77. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 NKJ

  78. Thomas P says:
    January 19, 2013 at 7:18 am

    “The Limits to Growth (1972) – projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, ”

    “That report consedered several different scenarios. The 1981 figure is what they got if they assumed exponential growth in demand and no new reserves found.”

    Thomas, these LTG assumptions by themselves show that linear thinking amateurs are at work. Reserves are the measured amounts at a particular time and is a function of expensive cost of drilling off reserves and the amount required for forward mine planning. No mine operator needs more than 10 years of reserves (20-25 for a new mine for feasibility) for this purpose. The actual deposit usually has several to many multiples of this amount. For example, nickel production in the Sudbury area of Ontario started about 1905 (or thereabouts) with some 20 years measured reserves. The basin is still producing nickel at a much greater rate than in 1905 and for many decades was the world’s largest nickel producer – surpassed by bigger ones developed since in Russsia. The rapid rise in price with Chinese industrial development in recent years created a rush for nickel and literally hundreds of nickel projects suddenly came into being. Trust me (I have been doing mining feasibility studies for over 30 years), these guys will be off the mark by more than a 1000% and that doesn’t take into account the fact the nickel, etc are also being more and more efficiently recycled – lead for example about 90% recycled. We are safe on what we know now for more than a century from now and I’m confident that will be true a century later. It is hard to educate people on this. They research world “reserves” and then divide it by annual production to get how long it will last.

    The only horseshit we are being buried in is publications like this, Ehrlich’s, and the IPCC.

  79. Minor typos [INDICATED LIKE THIS]:

    Telltale signs are everywhere–from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice int eh [IN THE] waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data fro[M] the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadia [CANADIAN] Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.”

    Apologies if these have already been noted.

    IanM

  80. Gail Combs says January 19, 2013 at 7:34 am
    ..
    If a government knows about the problem then they can do something.

    The only response to that is a very hardy Bill Cosby-class “Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight ….”

    .

  81. hannuko says:
    January 19, 2013 at 8:10 am
    Again I would like to recommend everyone to read one of the most thought provoking and brilliant books I have ever read: Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail And Why Do We Believe Them Anyway by Dan Gardner.
    ==================================================================
    I’ve read it.
    An excellent read

  82. Martin Luther King ,Robert Kennedy both Assassinated .Tet Offensive,the US Embassy in Saigon over ran live on American Television,Wood stock, Rolling Stones at Altermont Speedway and then Charles Mansion finally killed the off the Hippy Dream.All happened in the same year.America under attack from inside and out.1968, Paul R. Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb.Just reflecting the social angst of the time.

    http://www.zonu.com/fullsize-en/2009-11-06-10885/The-Earth-from-the-Moon.html

    Then one year later 1969 America Neal Armstrong standing on the moon looked back towards our planet perhaps . Human kind wasn’t so bad after all.

    PS Al Gore releases Inconvenient Truth the same year as 9 11.

  83. You had me with you till that last part. It is typical of men to paint reproductive rights with jarring colors devoid of female reason. Interpretation of data and the writing of laws on child birth and abortion, and ubiquitous publications of opinions of such things, are usually placed into media by men (as the one above was). I tell you what, when you are the ones to bear the baby bump, deliver the bundle into the world, and suckle at the breast, you can have a say as to what abortion is used for. I truly wish men would stay out of an issue that rightfully belongs and solely belongs to the reasoned minds of women and their ObGyn. I truly wish that.

  84. “Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says: Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an … explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.”

    You’re using the wrong measuring stick – one that shrinks every year. There is no scarcity of oil but rather an overabundance of dollars. Measured in terms of gold, oil has been relatively stable in price for decades. Measured in terms of gold, the price of oil has actually dropped about 40% since 2003.

    If only Benny and the Inkjets, a.k.a. Ben Bernanke, could print gold instead of green confetti…

  85. One more failed prediction:

    http://www.benhills.com/articles/the-war/item/199-forgotten-city-faces-the-truth-the-bomb-fifty-years-of-fallout

    [...]
    “In a speech two days later [after Hiroshima], he [War Minister Anami] referred specifically to the “new type of bomb”. If Hiroshima’s significance is that it began the nuclear era, Nagasaki’s, many historians believe, is that it ended the greatest war ever to engulf the planet.

    It made a liar of Hirohito’s War Minister, Korechika Anami, who had been demanding every Japanese fight to the death and strutting around in the days after Hiroshima boasting: “I am convinced the Americans only had one bomb, after all.” That was surely history’s most preposterous miscalculation.
    [...]

  86. I’d like to add: measured in gold, oil is almost EXACTLY the same price now as it was 50 years ago (1963). About 12 barrels of oil for one ounce of gold.

  87. Oh Sam, the price of oil hasn’t tripled because it is scarcer. The price of oil has tripled because cartels control production, the Asian market is using more and more oil while we use less, [and we get less than 5% of our oil from the middle east,] the speculative market in oil futures isn’t rational and has driven the price up but that is artificial and could fall at any time. And last the value of the dollar has fallen.

    But oil hasn’t gotten scarcer.

    All this is why peak oil is so much wishful thinking not only that it doesn’t even consider changes in technology or the markets.

  88. I’m surprised none of the Malthusianists have trotted out Easter Island yet. Typically presented as the example of isolated and limited resource exploitation invariably leading to ecological and societal disaster and proclaim it is analogous to Earth and our future. These comparisons not only disregard the difference in diversity of resources and technological advancement but also ignore basic math. Even if Easter Islanders went from population “tipping point” to near ecological disaster in 100 years (ridiculously short estimate) then given the island’s 163.6 km2 area and Earth’s 150,000,000 km2 land area the analogy if valid would mean that we have approximately 92 million years to either “de-isolate” Earth or improve oceanic exploitation giving us another 360,000,000 km2 translating into another 220 million years.

    I don’t know but it seems easily doable to me that in a fraction of that time we could be developing extraterrestrial resources.

  89. Robbie, no it isn’t being claimed that resources are in endless supply. What is being claimed is that technology is always changing and in ways you usually don’t predict, and that humans are adaptable. We humans adapt to changes in our environment.

    All of the predictions of doom are based on unchanging technology, science, and behavior. That is what we are calling stupid. And it also points out why the predictions of doom on the part of the Catastrophic Anthropomorphic Climate Change crowd are so much bunk.

  90. Sam Norton
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    … Anyone who thinks we’re not running up against some resource limits needs to have an alternative, and preferably plausible, explanation for why the tripling of oil prices over the last decade has seen no significant increase in the production of oil.

    You better have a look at the price of oil vs the price of gold over time: http://pricedingold.com/crude-oil/

  91. Well in the case of tin, the prediction was quite accurate, for the USA. Tin concentrations are quite rare and none have been found in the USA in recent times. Quite a useful metal.

  92. Pamela: If men stay COMPLETELY out of the baby issue, we won’t have a problem. I can’t see where immaculate conception ever occurred except in one case. Perhaps there’s new science out there that makes sperm and does the artificial insemination. Man haters should be singing this from the rooftops and since no melody is heard at present, I doubt such science exists. Sure, you’re fine with using men for sex, sperm and a checkbook. I pity any male children you may have accidentally had the misfortune to carry to live birth. Of course, abortion can effectively limit the number of those annoying males. Maybe if we just kept enough to harvest sperm from the world would be utopia, you think?

  93. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says: January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Sam’s comment is fair in that the Club of Rome “predictions” had (the standard) caveats. I could not find the book available electronically. I find it interesting that the Club of Rome does not provide an electronic copy – but there may be copyright issues. The review Sam linked is here http://www.simmonsco-intl.com/content/documents/whitepapers/172.pdf. The Simmons paper strikes me as more of an advocacy piece than a reasoned review of Limits to Growth.

    While stating that Limits to Growth did not claim what folks say, the Simmons paper does not explain what it did say. For that you have to go to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Limits_to_Growth. About 1/3 of the way down is the table with accompanying discussion. Importantly, the caveats are also listed.

    The exponential index has been interpreted as a prediction of the number of years until the world would “run out” of various resources, both by environmentalist groups calling for greater conservation and restrictions on use, and by skeptics criticizing the index when supplies failed to run out.[15][16][17][18] What The Limits to Growth actually has is the above table, which has the current reserves (that is no new sources of oil are found) for oil running out in 1992 assuming constant exponential growth.

    So irrespective of what environmentalists used to say about the Limits to Growth, the current party line is that it was an examination of exponential growth rates in (primarily) population and the impact on resources and not really predictions at all.

    If you have not seen the Peak Farmland post, pop over to Judith’s and have a read. Fascinating. http://judithcurry.com/2013/01/05/peak-farmland/.

  94. Pamela Gray says:
    January 19, 2013 at 8:48 am

    You had me with you till that last part. It is typical of men to paint reproductive rights with jarring colors devoid of female reason. Interpretation of data and the writing of laws on child birth and abortion, and ubiquitous publications of opinions of such things, are usually placed into media by men (as the one above was). I tell you what, when you are the ones to bear the baby bump, deliver the bundle into the world, and suckle at the breast, you can have a say as to what abortion is used for. I truly wish men would stay out of an issue that rightfully belongs and solely belongs to the reasoned minds of women and their ObGyn. I truly wish that.
    =================================================
    Right Pam, totally agree. All we have to do, in order to be consistent, is to relieve all men of their obligations to any children they may sire or obligations to the women who relieve men of any choice in the matter, and then you’d have a point.

    But, I think that takes us beyond the scope of this blog forum. I think the larger point one can gain from dire predictions of our population is that it’s the same as oil or anything else. It isn’t anything to worry about. I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t see some Malthus quotes…..

    “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world”.
    —Malthus T.R. 1798. An essay on the principle of population. Chapter VII, p61

    And, unless we’re confused about what sort of people they are…..

    “It does not… by any means seem impossible that by an attention to breed, a certain degree of improvement, similar to that among animals, might take place among men. Whether intellect could be communicated may be a matter of doubt; but size, strength, beauty, complexion, and perhaps longevity are in a degree transmissible…—Malthus T.R. 1798. An essay on the principle of population. Chapter IX, p72

  95. The “pushed at me ad” appearing at the beginning of the post is for that great book – yes, the one with ‘limits’ in the title. What a hoot. What dumb algorithms. Someone alert Jeff Bezos.

    ~~~~~~
    A couple of comments followed Robbie’s (@3:28) shout out to “Mr. Watts!”

    What I thought most interesting is that over the past several years Anthony has spent considerable time documenting and posting his (&family’s) first adopter approach to enviro/resource issues. There is the small car (Smart ?), the solar installation, the LED lights inside the house, . . ., and my favorite – Kenji as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. These are nothing like business as usual. Maybe Robbie can list personal experiences on the bloody cutting edge of technology. Waiting . . .

  96. Alice Cheshire says:
    January 19, 2013 at 9:24 am
    “I can’t see where immaculate conception ever occurred except in one case.

    That would be the birth of Mary, Mother of Christ. This is related to sperm in what way?

  97. We all know Ehrlich to be a fool, but there were good technical people at Stanford sucked into the same erroneous thinking. The Dean of Mineral Sciences, Charles Park Jr. wrote “Affluence in Jeopardy, Minerals and the Political Economy”. (1968). In the book he reviews every strategic mineral, and concluded we are in deep doo-doo. He was wrong of course, but he was no idiot. He just lacked imagination. We used the book in a geology course of mine, and I was quite convinced.

    Later, in my carreer in the oil business I learned that one must realize that the next great thing is always out there, and just because I can’t tell you what it is, it doesn’t mean it won’t come. In 1988 I made a list of ten oil plays which I thought would emerge with horizontal drilling. I hit some, but I missed the Bakken. I did know enough, however, to dismiss the “peak oil” hysteria. I could imagine I missed a few.

    I think the parallels to climate science are strong.—The David Suzukis are just another Ehrlich, but there are also smart and sincere people out there who are convinced we have an AGW problem, they just lack the imagination to see the alternative scenarios.

  98. Dear Anthony,

    “Limits to Growth” is the result of a decade of studies at the MIT leaded by Jay Forrester. I read the 20 and didn’t find the sort of failed claims you imply, even though I contend with several methodological aspects of the book. The original model had a single and non discriminative resource pool that bundled together energy and commodities. In the standard scenario half of this resource would get depleted by 2010, about 40 years after the model was run. The actual rate of world resource consumption has so far followed the trend lines produced by the model, according to which the world should be now entering an industrial activity decline. There are seven more scenarios in the book, some of which produce steady states with high industrial activity, upon alternative courses of action (recycling, technological shift, etc). The version of the book I read had no references to exhaustion dates you produce. Besides that, as I explained above the model is not designed to produce such dates, since it bundles all resources together, and its outputs are industrial activity, population and pollution. Wherever those metal exhaustion dates come from they cannot come from the Limits to Growth model.

    William Stanley Jevons had many contributions to Science, the best known possibly the so called Jevons Paradox. He published “The Coal Question” in 1963, in which he explained why exponential growth of coal extraction in the UK couldn’t possibly last forever. This was the first serious critique of the production-to-reserves methodology that completely missed the exponential growth dynamics. Contrary to what Anthony claims, Jevons never studied the exhaustion of coal reserves (which will never happen), but rather the end of coal extraction growth. He alluded to a peak in the following century, which is today acknowledged as a spot on call, since the actual peak took place in 1913, with production describing an almost perfect logistic cycle, characteristic of exponential resource extraction (the kind of behaviour the Limits to Growth model tries to reproduce). Those interested to know the real story, and where Jevons exactly failed, are invited to check this link:

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8241

    It is sad to see Anthony risking his credibility and of his website with this sort of posts. It is hard to understand why on this matter Anthony should take the side of the IPCC, echoing their stories of perpetual growth. Readers interested on a scientific account of the relationship between resource depletion and climate change are advised to watch this lecture:

  99. curious ‘a priori’ omniscience by claimants of insurmountable barriers to achievement including claims of barriers to an achievement of a significant concurrent increase in population and its per capita wealth. That takes care the intellectual status of Neo- Malthusians out of Stanford.

    There is no known limits to human growth on earth or anywhere else since there are no known limits to the universe and, as an essential inherent part of that, there is no known limits to the achievements of human beings as reasoning beings.

    Look at and consider the immense imports available to private enterprise from uphill in the potential energy gradient.

    Earth is just the happenstance womb of human beings, it is not the required womb of human beings. Earth is just the happenstance origin of current resources, it is not the required origin. The existing science / technology / industrialization is the happenstance achievement of innovators and energizers, it is not the requirement of future science / technology / industrialization achieved by anyone who chooses to create them.

    There will always be those who try to set limits on the future of humanity, they can prevail only through organized intimidation and physical force (thugs) against free individual human achievers and energizers. Yawn, the thugs are self-defeating . . .

    I think it is serving justice to leave, strictly to themselves, those who claim omniscient limits and whose goal is aiding non-achievement. N’est ce pas? They deserve themselves in there self-limiting of themselves. : )

    John

  100. Luis says:

    “Jevons… published ‘The Coal Question’ in 1963, in which he explained why exponential growth of coal extraction in the UK couldn’t possibly last forever.”

    Ya know, even I could have predicted that.

  101. Pamela Gray says:
    January 19, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Amen Pamela.
    I find just so irksome to hear some righteous male bloviating on abortion, usually decrying the “murder of the unborn”. Since the male of the species will never be placed in the jeopardy of pregnancy, their opinion on the matter is worthless. With fifty percent of the populace, there is no shortage of female opinion available to inform the matter.

  102. Global Cooling was the rage in 1974 based on a 3 decade cooling trend. Global Warming was the rage by 1989 but according to global temperature charts the warming trend didn’t begin until after 1980. This means the warming trend had been going on for only 9 years when the great predictions of CAGW doom began.

    Seems to me this is a very brief time period of correlation to be basing such a theory on especially since CO2 began rising long before 1980. And now we’re told of course the current non-warming trend isn’t long enough to falsify the theory.

  103. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    I’m normally a fan, but knocking Limits to Growth for saying that it “projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and natural gas by 1993″ is simply false.

    Actually, they did project those dates, based on the known reserves and an exponentially increasing consumption rate. It is in the table in the book.

    They also projected longer times to running out, using once again an exponentially increasing consumption rate PLUS the assumption that new reserves would be discovered.

    My problem with their work is the hugely naive assumption of exponentially increasing consumption rates. They assume an increase of 2.6% per year. The “Rule of 70″, familiar to accountants like myself, says that means a doubling of consumption every 70 / 2.6 = 27 years, or a thirteen-fold increase per century … riiiight …

    Nature doesn’t do exponential for very long, certainly not centuries.

    The Club of Rome’s assumption that exponential growth will continue unchecked until some catastrophe stops it simply hasn’t held up. In fact, the assumption of exponential growth of resource consumption itself hasn’t held up. We can use primary energy consumption as an example. Here is the Club of Rome prediction from 1972 (2.6% increase per year), compared to ugly reality:

    As you can see, far from experiencing 2.6% exponential growth, or indeed any kind of exponential growth at all, the change in energy use over time has been roughly linear. Not exponential at all. Linear.

    And this is the huge misunderstanding at the basis of the errors of the Club of Rome. They assume exponential growth exists and will continue, unchecked and un challenged, until some catastrophe topples it in a grand orgy of looting and rioting in the streets, the primordial “Ehrlichean Collapse” that Paul to this day insists is just around the corner.

    Instead of Club of Rome exponential growth followed by Ehrlichean collapse, what seems to happen is that a million small everyday catastrophes effectively prevent the exponential growth that the Club of Rome folks both fear and feature. That makes the growth linear, and keeps things from collapsing.

    All the best,

    w.

  104. Regrettable selection/confirmation bias in the choice of failed predictions.
    Here are counter examples. M. King Hubbert, Shell research geologist, predicted in a 1956 peer reviewed geophysics journal that peak US oil production would be about 1970. It was, despite the subsequent development of the north slope and the gulf of Mexico. In 1971, he predicted that global peak conventional oil would be about 2000. In 1998, laHerre and Cambell said conventional oil would peak about 2005. Prof. Defeeyes of Princeton has written three books confirming that indeed global peak conventional oil was about 2006. Unconventional oil is mainly Venezuelan tar sands in the Orinoco, and Canadian tar sands in the Athabasca region of Alberta. Despite the Orinoco, and despite $100/bbl crude, Venezuela hit peak oil production about 2000.

    There are uninformed people like Orzag who say the US will become an exporter, when it presently consumes about 19mbbl/day, produces about 9, and imports about 10. Fracking tight oil, and all that. There are 5 tight oil formations in the US. The largest is the Bakken in North Dakota. Technically recoverable reserves are about 4Bbbl. TRR for all 5 is about 18Bbbl. According the the ever optimistic industry itself, if governmental regulations do not interfer the most that could be produced is about 3mbbl/ day by about 2030. That assumes the Keystone pipeline and a lot of other facilities get built, instead of stopped.
    By comparison, the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia has 65Bbbl of remaining TRR, all economic. Yet Mighty Gwahar hit peak production about 2000. Read Simmons book Twilight in the Desert for technical details. Even after reworking the Haradh section of Gwahar, production is slowly declining with watercut above 50%. Annual production cannot be increased without damaging the field and reducing ultimately recoverable reserves. Such is the nature of peak oil.

    There are three separate ways to estimate how much oil remains to be discovered, ever. These include creaming curves (Cambell’s and Hubbert’s approach), Hubbert linearization (Defeeyes approach), and the probit transform (Rutledges approach at Caltech, especially useful for coal). All three say less than 20% more petroleum remains to be discovered, period. And that means global peak oil from all sources by around 2020, and certainly before 2030.

    Stupid predictions like Ehrlich’s deserve ridicule. But there are a lot of reasonable, sound science based predictions that do not. Peak fossil fuel production is among them, as is a probable peak in food calory production sometime around 2050. Those topics are explored using basic facts in my book Gaia’s Limits.
    This site is supposedly dedicated to a discussion of sound science, with deserved factual debunking of unsound propositions and bad science. Many posters here have gone off into ‘belief land’ concerning fundamental peak oil geophysics. You may not like the conclusions, but but if you think they are not sound, bring facts rather than ill formed opinions, or obviously stupid conclusions like Orzags (quasimofficial Obama administration view 2012) on future US oil independence. That is as stupid as most of what Jim Hansen and Michael Mann say about CAGW.
    Please raise your game to a level worthy of WUWT.

  105. One wonders if any of the latter day Nostra-dumbasses ever review the abject failure of their old predictions and resolve to shut up in the future.

  106. omnologos says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:59 am
    Does anybody know of a collection of predictions that turned out right?
    ================================================================
    Here’s one.
    “The sun’ll come out
    Tomorrow
    Bet your bottom dollar
    That tomorrow
    There’ll be sun!”
    Little Orphan Annie
    (Of course, she wasn’t a climate scientist so maybe this one doesn’t count.)

  107. Betting on one’s convictions: Ehrlich was the loser in his bet against Julian Simon.

    …in October 1980 Ehrlich and his colleagues picked five different metals (chrome, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten), spending $200 on each metal. The total investment was worth $1,000 in 1980 prices. If, in October 1990, the value of the five metals at their original 1980 quantities, adjusted for inflation, turned out to be greater than $1,000, then Ehrlich would win the bet. If the value were less, Simon would win the bet. Whoever lost would be required to send a check to the winner equal to the difference in value.1

    In October 1990, the price of the basket of metals had fallen substantially below its 1980 level. All the metals had experienced a drop in value. Moreover, the drop was so substantial that Simon would have won even if the values hadn’t been adjusted for inflation. Ehrlich and his associates sent Simon a check for $576.07 (Tierney 1990, 81). (Source: “Betting on the Wealth of Nature : The Simon-Ehrlich Wager” http://perc.org/articles/betting-wealth-nature

    Here is Julian Simon’s account of the wager: “BETTING ALL HUMAN WELFARE WILL IMPROVE” http://www.juliansimon.com/writings/Articles/EHRLICH6.txt

  108. Luís says:
    January 19, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Dear Anthony,

    “Limits to Growth” is the result of a decade of studies at the MIT leaded by Jay Forrester. I read the 20 and didn’t find the sort of failed claims you imply, even though I contend with several methodological aspects of the book. The original model had a single and non discriminative resource pool that bundled together energy and commodities. In the standard scenario half of this resource would get depleted by 2010, about 40 years after the model was run. The actual rate of world resource consumption has so far followed the trend lines produced by the model, according to which the world should be now entering an industrial activity decline.

    Am I reading you right? The Club of Rome projected that half of the worlds energy and commodities resources would be depleted by 2010? And you claim this was the actual outcome?

    Man, I’d have to see the citation for that claim, that half of the world’s energy and commodities are already used up. Me, I misdoubts that somewhat largely … even the idea that there is some fixed amount of resources is wrong. Resources are only limited by our imagination. If we can safely and economically use the methane clathrates, there is a huge energy resource there. Or consider the natural gas resource. It was one size until people started horizontal fracking, and now the resource is many times the size … which means that there is no such thing as a “natural gas resource” of a certain fixed size. Instead, the size of the resource is a function of our technological capability to utilize it.

    Until we developed nuclear power, there was no nuclear fuel resource. Now, I suppose the Club of Rome is busy calculating the uranium resource, and dividing it by the current rate of use plus a 2.6 annual increase, to give us the date we’ll run out.

    … meanwhile, back in the real world, I read that the Japanese have worked on genetically modifying sponges to filter uranium from seawater … if they succeed, what does that do to the uranium resource?

    This is why running a scenario where “half of this resource would get depleted by 2010″ makes no sense at all. The Club of Rome assumed that humans are like bacteria—bacteria grow exponentially until they run out of room to live, then they die catastrophically.

    Humans don’t work that way. For example, when the Dutch ran out of room, they pushed the sea back, made some more land, and reduced their population growth rate. When the world ran out of magnesium, DuPont chemists invented a way to extract it from sea water. Of course, there was talk before that about the world magnesium crisis, the coming end of the known supplies of magnesium, the dire predictions of magnesium shortages would have done the Club proud.

    The other thing that the Club of Rome folks never seemed to grasp is that the world doesn’t need resources. It needs the services those resources provide. In other words, the world doesn’t need copper for communications. It needs communications. Lately communications has migrated to optic fiber and to wireless. Think about how much copper it would have taken to provide telephone service around the planet. The Club of Rome error was in thinking we’d run out of copper to wire up the planet’s phones. We don’t need copper for phones, we just need phones.

    w.

    • “the world doesn’t need copper for communications the world needs communications” . . that needs saying over and over and over again.

      We are having a huge debate about platinum sources and resources right now considering what is going on in South Africa and Zimbabwe. My input was simply to point out that platinum group metals ( PGM ) will be replaced by something more readily available, cheaper and more effective in those countries where they are needed. It didn’t go down well but chemistry, physics and the resulting technology will do that.

      So to paraphrase Willis, we dont need catalytic convertors, we need clean exhaust emissions.

  109. Limits to Growth is Malthusian gibberish with a glossy coat of numerology.

    Here is an excellent summary of Malthusian theory-

    http://mises.org/daily/1675

    “It is . . . a curious irony that the general biological principle which he put forward comes steadily closer to being true, the further one departs from the human case, and is a grotesque falsity only in the one case which really interested Malthus: man.”

    “In conclusion, the Malthusian problem is one that economics solves. No wonder the Malthusians want to get rid of economics. Their rule only applies in noneconomic “societies.” And, even then, only in its abridged Misesian form.”

    “The environmental movement of today is aiming toward living in a non-economic “society” by showing why it would be unpleasant to live in. It is staggering how a movement like this could amass such a following.”

  110. Ted Turner
    ““The Judeo-Christian religion says man was given dominion over everything, and his salvation was that he was to go out and increase and multiply. Well, we have done that … to the point where in Calcutta, it’s a hellhole.”
    ========================================================
    He’s so wrong on so many points. But I don’t want to start a “thread jacking” so I’ll refrain from pointing out the stupidity of his statement.

  111. Pamela Gray says: January 19, 2013 at 8:48 am
    ******
    Pamela,

    Since you have brought this subject up…….

    You have voiced a very strong opinion as “pro-Choice”.

    There is an organization here in Texas that is a “first of its kind” in these United States. Since you are such a strong advocate for “choice” it seems to be perfect for you. It got its start when someone noted a couple physically dragging their teen-aged daughter into a Planned Parenthood abortion mill to have a forced abortion. The police were called and also a lawyer. The lawyer got a restraining order to prevent the parents from forcing their daughter to get an abortion.

    A topic for debate: Should women who choose life for their baby be supported and defended as fiercely as those who choose the opposite?? Or is the only valid choice abortion?

    The Texas Center for the Defense of Life gives legal support to women who WANT to have their child but are being coerced into having an abortion. It is a dirty little secret that nobody talks about, but a significant number of women are coerced, by their parents, their husband/boyfriend, Child Protective Services, etc.

    An acquaintance of ours talks about that (among other things) here:

    http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=carol+everett&view=detail&mid=7C333A07E708A738516C7C333A07E708A738516C&first=0

    Now, I am not suggestion any change in Roe vs. Wade. I am not suggesting any changes at all. All I suggest is that people, particularly women, should be fully aware of what “choice” is. You should be aware because this issue is one of your defining beliefs; it defines you as a person.

    The Texas Center for the Defense of Life is having a fundraiser in Austin, TX on March 5. You and your Sweetheart would be welcome to go as our guests should you be in the area. It’s about real choice.

    Regards,

    Steamboat Jack
    (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  112. Over at Dot Earth, commenter Asteroid Miner proposed a limit to human population on Earth when the human species weighs the same as the Earth. I disagree. Technology could be developed to continuously build out the diameter of the Earth with thousands of ‘floors’.

    Assuming people could be packed into 1 meter square slots, the surface (land and sea) would be completely coated with the human infestation at a population of about 5.1 x 10^14, or 510,000 Billion people. With a growth rate of 1 Billion per 10 years, that will take about 5 million years.

    Assuming people weigh about 60 kg, the human weight will equal Earth’s weight at a population of 6×10^24/60 = 10^23 people, or a little less than 0.2 mol of people. As Sagan would mutter, this will take ‘billions and billions’ of years.

    Reaching these limits is as plausible as using tree rings to measure ambient temperature to a tenth of a degree (C/F/K/R).

  113. Rud Istvan says:
    January 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Regrettable selection/confirmation bias in the choice of failed predictions.
    Here are counter examples.

    You may have missed the title:

    “Great moments in failed predictions”

    Imagine if your whole comment was put up as a new post on WUWT. I could also accuse you of:

    Regrettable selection/confirmation bias in the choice of failed predictions.

    You should have just dropped the attacks and simply said something like “here are some successful predictions by the way”.

  114. Rud Istvan says:
    January 19, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Regrettable selection/confirmation bias in the choice of failed predictions.
    Here are counter examples. M. King Hubbert, Shell research geologist, predicted in a 1956 peer reviewed geophysics journal …

    Aw, jeez, here come the peak oilers. What did we do to deserve this? Mention a few bad predictions about oil, and peak oilers pop out of the woodwork. There are as many peak oil theories as there are peak oil fanatics. All of them want to tell the world about M. King Hubbard. Believe me, Rud, we’ve heard of him, you and your friends always want to talk about the King. I read about him. Move on, that was 1970.

    Lets start with the reality. The world has not yet seen peak oil, nor is there any indication that we are nearing peak oil, based on production.

    Data Source (Excel Workbook)

    Next, we can compare that to years of proved reserves, which is years of oil in the ground at current usage rates and accessible with current technology:

    For “Years of Proved Reserves”, I have taken that years proved reserves and divided each one by that years oil consumption rate. That gives me how many years of reserves remained at that years usage rates.

    Note that in 1980 we had about thirty years of proved reserves at 1980 usage rates. In 2011, despite the world using much more oil than in 1980, we had over fifty years of proved reserves at 2011 usage rates.

    So I’m sorry, Rud, but I’m no more interested in peak oil alarmism than I am in climate alarmism. We have lots and lots and lots of all kinds of fossil fuels, conventional and unconventional. And we haven’t even touched the methane clathrates. We’re not about to run out of fossil fuels. I’d suggest that you get used to it and let your crusade go, or you will assuredly spend the entire remaining years of your life railing about the sky falling, with no one paying any more attention to you than they do now.

    w.

  115. Correction:
    Imagine if your whole comment was put up as a new post on WUWT. I could also accuse you of:

    Regrettable selection/confirmation bias in the choice of successful predictions.

  116. Robert Austin says:

    “Since the male of the species will never be placed in the jeopardy of pregnancy, their opinion on the matter is worthless.”

    Worthless? Really? It takes two to tango, Robert.

    Pamela says:

    “It is typical of men to paint reproductive rights with jarring colors devoid of female reason.”

    “Female reason”? That is to reason as Post Normal Science is to science.

    Here’s a question, just for the fun of it: if a man impregnates a woman [consensually], and he wants to raise the child, even if by himself, does the woman still get to make the sole decision if she wants to abort?

    Conversely, if a man accidentally impregnates a woman [again, consenual sex], and the man wants it aborted, does he have any say in the matter?

    “Waiter! Popcorn!” ☺

  117. WRT prediction: “In 1885, the US Geological Survey announced that there was “little or no chance” of oil being discovered in California.”

    Mark Mills: California Could Be the Next Shale Boom State; Thanks to the Golden State’s dire fiscal situation, don’t be surprised if the governor were to proclaim: ‘There will be oil.’

    Some interesting points:

    Californians this year will pay an additional 6 Billion in income tax thanks to Governor Brown, who has been on t.v. recently claiming he has put the state’s debt crisis behind them. Of note, then:

    Last year’s State Budget Crisis Task Force, co-led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, estimated the state’s long-term debt at no less than $370 billion.

    Beverly Hills sits atop a legacy field still in production, its surface hardware hidden artfully off Pico and Olympic Boulevards in large windowless buildings.

    …And the fact is that California is still (at half the production rates of the ’60’s) the fourth-hightest oil producer in the U.S.

    The overall economic benefits of opening up the Monterey shale field could reach $1 trillion.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323353204578128733463180210.html

  118. D Böehm Stealey says:
    January 19, 2013 at 11:41 am

    “Waiter! Popcorn!” ☺
    ——————————
    Sir, you are a braver man than I. When I saw Pamela’s original post, I felt like a kid who’d found a really big firework in a shed. Thoughts like, ‘Do I dare? It’d probably be truly spectacular, but do I really want to blow up my face and half the block…’
    …looks like Publix’s natural flavored microwave popcorn in my pantry for this afternoon. :)

  119. This should be made into a pamphlet that can be handed out (say, at schools) or readily delivered to any Greenie turning up at the door telling us we can’t burn wood anymore or rattling Save the Polar Bear tins. Excellent article. This one should be spread around.

  120. I’ll make a prediction that this won’t stop till we stop bying their CRAP and demand longer lasting and safer products. By making things last longer will take the presure of the enviroments natural resources http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D56nut_9e8s and help stop pollution at every level. The planet and it’s ever growing popullation can’t aford to go down the path of the American way of life ( consumerism.)

  121. Rud Istvan says:

    “There are 5 tight oil formations in the US. The largest is the Bakken in North Dakota. Technically recoverable reserves are about 4Bbbl.
    By comparison, the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia has 65Bbbl of remaining TRR, all economic. Yet Mighty Gwahar hit peak production about 2000. Read Simmons book Twilight in the Desert for technical details.”

    FIVE “tight oil formations” in the US???? Actually, the are hundreds, probably thousands. There are five more stacked just under the Bakken alone. Some of the lower units were just fracked last month with good results. Reserves will keep climbing with technology. Oh, then there is the rest of the world, such as the Bazhenov in Siberia.

    And please, don’t tell me to consult Simmons on Ghawar. He spent a few days in Saudi talking to people he did not understand. My wife spent a few years there, and a few more with Exxon research working on it. Simmons holds poorly developed ideas based on limited data, and limited expertise.

  122. jmorpuss:

    re your post at January 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm.

    It can be filed under “Predictions certain to fail” because it makes the same mistaken presumption (repeatedly explained in this thread) as Ehrlich’s predictions.

    Richard

  123. Mark Bofill,

    Pamela and I go back a long way, to the beginning of WUWT. [I'm sure she remembers the part I wanted to cast her in: "Rain is all like super secret seal commando, aka Agent “Syng”man, an’ this Journalist hottie..." ☺]. I respect her intelligence and her views.

    But men have a point of view, too. Don’t we get any say regarding our children? <–[hypothetical question; doesn't apply to me. Our boy has flown the coop, and now works at Siemens]. Remember that those are mens’ children, too.

    [Not enough popcorn to start with the child support issues.]

  124. I think essays like this should start of with Thomas Malthus who in 1798 started off all this doom business with a prediction that England would collapse by the mid 19th century as population was growing exponentially while food was growing linearly. Just as he was speaking the first fruits of the industrial revolution were becoming available in the form of farm machinery that trebled the efficiency of farming, and there was no mass starvation.

    [Reply: OK, I fixed it for you. This time... -ModE ;-) ]

  125. “as is a probable peak in food calory production sometime around 2050.”

    Predictions that far out are meaningless, because we have no idea what technology wil be available in 40 years from now. That’s about as sensible as trying to predict Google and Facebook in 1972.

    Food is easy to produce, so long as you have cheap energy. Right now we mostly use sunlight to provide that energy, but if we should need to we could move production entirely indoors with artificial energy sources. We’re also heading toward producing meat in vats rather than animals over the next couple of decades, which should vastly increase the amount of crops available to humans.

    Some years ago on a mailing list we tried to work out the ultimate carrying capacity of the Earth, and so long as we had a source of cheap energy no-one could get it down to less than trillions. I don’t think I’d want to live on an Earth with that many people, but there’s no fundamental reason we could find why it couldn’t be done.

    Which is precisely why the anti-human movement want to increase the cost of current energy sources and prevent development of new ones.

  126. D Böehm Stealey says:
    January 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Mark Bofill,

    Pamela and I go back a long way, to the beginning of WUWT. [I'm sure she remembers the part I wanted to cast her in: "Rain is all like super secret seal commando, aka Agent “Syng”man, an’ this Journalist hottie..." ☺]. I respect her intelligence and her views.

    But men have a point of view, too. Don’t we get any say regarding our children? <–[hypothetical question; doesn't apply to me. Our boy has flown the coop, and now works at Siemens]. Remember that those are mens’ children, too.

    [Not enough popcorn to start with the child support issues.]
    —————————–
    I meant no disrespect to Pamela whatsoever. I was intrigued by her post because while I really don't understand what she meant by 'female' reason, the overall tone of the message and the wish that men would stay out of the issue because of their gender and physical inability to gestate seemed frankly sexist to me and therefore controversial, but not completely out of the bounds of reasonable argument either.
    I'm an odd duck in that I don't start with an a priori conviction that a sexist viewpoint is necessarily wrong, but it's certainly politically incorrect and therefore interesting (at least to me).
    A woman carries the child to term and suffers hardship mere males conceiveth not. Does this disqualify men from having an intelligent opinion on the subject? Is that even what Pamela meant? :) I don't know, but it's certainly fun to speculate.

  127. D Böehm Stealey says:
    January 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm
    [Not enough popcorn to start with the child support issues.]
    ===============================================================
    Humor break.
    When my son was 12 or 13 he wanted to raise a little extra money so he wrote a flyer to put on the doors in the neighborhood. The problem was, if they didn’t know him and how old he was, it read like he was a “handyman” rather than a kid looking for odd jobs. We were discussing how to rephrase the flyer to communicate that when his little sister chimed in, “He could write it in crayon. Then they’d know.”

  128. JohnH says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:32 am
    You forgot the one about London disappearing under a mountain of Horse poo from Horse drawn carriages made in the 1800′s, the automotive car came to the rescue ;)
    ===========

    And the Tube – 150 years old this month!

    Auto

  129. Willis says:
    “The other thing that the Club of Rome folks never seemed to grasp is that the world doesn’t need resources. It needs the services those resources provide. In other words, the world doesn’t need copper for communications. It needs communications. Lately communications has migrated to optic fiber and to wireless. Think about how much copper it would have taken to provide telephone service around the planet. The Club of Rome error was in thinking we’d run out of copper to wire up the planet’s phones. We don’t need copper for phones, we just need phones.”

    Cities of the world upto their armpits in horse c**:. The internal combustion engine!
    Running out of copper: Fibre optics!
    Running out of coal gas: Natural Gas!
    Running out of Natural Gas: Shale Gas!
    Running out of coal:Nuclear energy!
    Running out of uranium: Thorium!
    Ultimately Nuclear fusion, by the time we have ran out of hydrogen the Sun will be a red giant.

    Mankind’s resourcefulness has kept us going for thousands of years and will continue to keep us going. Did our ancestors fret about no more flint? Along came bronze, when they thought that copper and tin might become scarce, along came iron, then aluminium, plastics, carbon fibre. Forests cut down for paper, then e-mail came along, the list is endless.
    Doom-mongers are just that, doom-mongers, I remember when our Chief Medical Officer solemnly declared a few years ago that swine flu deaths could be upto 60,000. The actual toll was 250!
    Ignore them all!!

  130. Arthur Dent says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:26 am

    As that famous philosopher Yogi Berra is quoted as saying “Predictions are difficult, especially about the future.” Human beings have a habit of making predictions that subsequently come back to haunt them:
    “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

    ==========
    In my world – I have a desk-top; a work laptop; an I-Pad (which I struggle with, still); and a Blackberry. My wife has a desk-top, and a laptop. plus a work desk-top. the kids have goodness knows waht. And I don’t think we are that unusual.
    Making predictions is indeed difficult – especially about the future – Berra was spot-on

    And climate?
    I don’t know. But CO2 is only one variable. Albedo, the Sun’s output, continental positioning, vulcanism, and many others, may have an influence. Possibly a significant one.

    Auto

  131. Robert Austin says:
    January 19, 2013 at 10:09 am
    I find just so irksome to hear some righteous male bloviating on abortion, usually decrying the “murder of the unborn”. Since the male of the species will never be placed in the jeopardy of pregnancy, their opinion on the matter is worthless.
    ————————-
    If males are somehow un-entitled to an opinion on abortion then why are you offering one? I also wasn’t aware that female opinion on abortion was unanimously pro-abort.

  132. OT @ D Böehm Stealey & Mark Bofill
    While I don’t think a man’s wishes should be totally ignored, ultimately childbirth is not risk free and since you don’t have the right to force someone to risk their life for your child the decision ultimately rests with the mother until the fetus has personhood status and the right to life (an open question to be sure, but IMHO would be @ viability (~28 weeks)). Admittedly, most everyone will voluntarily risk their life to save almost anyone else’s child, the key word there is voluntarily.

  133. CodeTech says:
    January 19, 2013 at 3:02 am
    (Concludes) The planet is a HUGE place.

    =====================
    Right!
    Too right!
    Try going across the South Atlantic at about fifteen knots – nine days without seeing anything other than water and sea birds – more of the former, as you would expect!
    Around Africa at ten knots – six weeks or so [and then anchor for two weeks off Rotterdam!].

    Or note that Tennessee is about 500 miles from end-to-end.

    Or patrolling the Somali basin – to try to prevent piracy – with twenty warships, is like patrolling the contiguous USA [the lower 48] with twenty squad cars – albeit each able to drive for 24/7/365 – if limited to 35 mph [maximum]. Forty-eight states; twenty squad cars: you do the maths. Not all that many will have squad car even half the time. Idaho sees one every Tuesday, unless there’s an ‘R’ in the month . . . . .
    And the recent nastiness in Algeria – that country measures 2,381,741 sq km [per CIA Factbook]; the largest country wholly within Europe is France – 643,801 sq km – less than a third the size. And the UK – right up there at #80, smaller than Gabon or Guinea – 243,610 sq km.

    The planet is a HUGE place for we humans.

  134. John West,

    To boil the discussion down to it’s essence: where, exactly, do we draw the line? What [legal] say do men have in this particular discussion? Any at all?

  135. James Cross says:
    January 19, 2013 at 4:40 am
    Predictions are very hard, especially about the future. – Niels Bohr

    =============

    Well, one of those chaps – if not Berra, nor Bohr, the Wilde or Lincoln or Churchill . . . . . .
    I don’t think predictions are easy, though, whoever is rightly attributed with this. [Shakespeare? groucho Marx?]

    Auto

  136. D Böehm Stealey says:
    “What [legal] say do men have in this particular discussion?”

    As with all societal decisions, voting eligible men and women legally “have a say” as to when a fetus is considered a person. As for “a say” on an individual pregnancy, again, it’s the woman whose life is at risk and therefore ultimately her decision (pre-fetus-personhood).

  137. Pamela Gray on January 19, 2013 at 8:48 am

    You had me with you till that last part. It is typical of men to paint reproductive rights with jarring colors devoid of female reason. Interpretation of data and the writing of laws on child birth and abortion, and ubiquitous publications of opinions of such things, are usually placed into media by men (as the one above was). I tell you what, when you are the ones to bear the baby bump, deliver the bundle into the world, and suckle at the breast, you can have a say as to what abortion is used for. I truly wish men would stay out of an issue that rightfully belongs and solely belongs to the reasoned minds of women and their ObGyn. I truly wish that.

    – – – – – – – –

    Pamela Gray,

    In the consideration of the issues surrounding abortion and population bomb doomsayers I am guided by a purely modern intellect whom I have come to admire.

    “Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends… …when millions are slaughtered, when torture is practiced, starvation enforced, oppression made a policy, as at present over a large part of the world, and as it has often been in the past, it must be at the behest of very many good people, and even by their direct action, for what they consider a worthy object.”

    -Isabel Paterson

    John

  138. Re: Limits to Growth: A couple of folks have pointed out that the issue with the failed “predictions” is that they were based on an invalid model. One major failure of limits to growth predictions is the failure to consider how dramatically wealth has increased. The Simmons paper discussed above discusses India and China as sort of poster children for world poverty. Consider this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_mobile_phones_in_use. While I agree there is enormous poverty – it is a different type of poverty than 50 years ago. So the resources we need to live consume a much smaller proportion of the the income that we have.

    Re: Peak oil: Willis pretty much covered it at 11:36 am. I have some observations:
    1. The discussion claiming validity for peak oil now distinguishes between conventional and unconventional oil. I’m not sure when this distinction crept into the terminology. I suspect that when what is unconventional oil today “peaks” we will have a another change in the terms of the discussion for whatever comes next to meet our needs for hydrocarbon fuel.
    2. It is likely that the peak oil folks will eventually be proven as correct as anybody who might have predicted peak horses in the 19th century. Not because we will run out of ways of finding or creating oil, but because we will move on and not have a need for ever increasing supplies of oil.
    3. Peak oil theory suffers from the same income problem as the Club of Rome. Irrespective of how much energy costs today, it is roughly the same or a smaller proportion of (in the US) personal consumption expenditures.(you can pull the chart here: http://www.bea.gov/iTable/index_nipa.cfm.

  139. mogamboguru says:
    January 19, 2013 at 7:54 am
    Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:

    —————————————————————————————————-
    Try “Devaluation of the Dollar”.

    fact is that the Dollar was devaluated (inflated) three-fold over the exact timeframe to which you are referring to (see the Dollar vs. Gold-ratio). Therefore, the price of Crude has in fact not changed one bit. It’s only the currency in which it is priced, which has lot two-thirds of it’s value, compared to oil / Gold, during the past 19 years.

    Hyperinflation coming – anyone? .

    ====================================

    Well, with Quantitative Easing – and the imperative need for (mostly Western) Governments to inflate their way out of debt – and their utter inability to control inflatiom when it does ignite – I vote ‘Yes’ .
    Indeed – I vote ‘Yes – in spades’.

    Look for index-linked thinggummies – especially if – as in the UK – they are backed by the Government – ILSCs etc. A decent mix of shares may give you some coverage, too.

    Hyperinflation coming – anyone? .

    Ummmmmmmmmmmmm – yes.

  140. Planet Earth is a huge place for humans, particularly when enjoyed at human scale rates. I use a rule of six while traveling to scale my observations. An A/C travels about 350 mph, an automobile travels about 1/6 of that ~60 mph, a bicyclist at about 1/6 of that at ~10 mph and a pedestrian might do 3 miles in an hour.

    I saw much of the US state of Georgia riding my bicycle nearly 100 miles per day. Georgia’s pine barrens now are divided into cropped woodlots that are ten minutes on a side. One rides past a maximally dense mono-culture of pine for ten minutes, followed by ten minutes of scarified stubblefield, and then ten minutes of saplings – all day long on a bicycle and in hours from an air-conditioned automobile.

    Same for potatoes in Illinois (ever been overwhelmed by potato blossom fragrance?), wheat in Nebraska and corn in Kansas. Bicycle the Badlands (Theodore Roosevelt N.P.) and imagine walking behind a wagon pulled by oxen – for months. From the ground, from the best of vantage points, one cannot see the vista of the Grand Canyon in one eyeful. Siberia is even bigger and Asia bigger yet. How many years did it take humankind to walk out of Africa?

  141. The predictions of scientists aren’t scientific predictions, except when they derived from well articulated and empirically supported theories.

    I wish the media understood this.

  142. Rud Istvan says:

    January 19, 2013 at 10:30 am
    Many others have commented and adequately addressed your claims on peak oil which I won’t address in detail.
    Unfortunately one of your questionable claims relates to heavy oil in Venezuela. Increase in production has stopped because of Chavez, not peak oil. He has lost all the engineers etc that know how to find and produce the heavy stuff. Also he has run off all the foreigners who invested and brought the technology to his country. His own countrymen have moved to neighboring countries with all their expertise and exploring for heavy oil elsewhere. Failure to mention this detracts from the credibility of your claims.
    New finds and local production often peak because of political positions, just like in the US where virtually all the efforts to explore and produce moved overseas until exploration and production resumed on lands not controlled by federal politicians. One exception to this occured when the Clinton administration encouraged production in the Gulf and Bush also opened up opportunities. Why do you think large oil companies like ExxonMobil take significant risk by investing overseas and ultimately over 50% of their earnings come from these investments. It’s bad government regulations and putting high potential federal lands off limits that forced companies to increase activities overseas.

    I lived in Mexico in the late 60’s working on a project to process heavy crudes and people in the know informed me that virtually no new oil finds were realized after the US companies were thrown out during Nationalization circa 1930. Only many decades later were foreign companies allowed back and new production accelerated.

  143. Whatever will eventually be shown the truth about CAGW there is no doubt the human race is a blot on the planet. I certainly don’t subscribe to the CAGW viewpoint but I despair when looking at the destruction of the environment routinely and continually occurring.

  144. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>

    I remember in my economic minerals course (1975) learning how huge resources had been devoted to finding a photographic process which did not use silver. Polymers, metallic salts, nothing could replace the need for silver…..ummm…..gosh, that digital film is cheap!

  145. “… I certainly don’t subscribe to the CAGW viewpoint but I despair when looking at the destruction of the environment routinely and continually occurring…”

    Ian, that’s a fair comment and I strongly suspect that you will find the vast majority of WUWT readers agreeing with you, myself included. I grieve for the misdirection CAGW has caused to genuine environmental concerns – all those $billions needlessly diverted away from real issues; real problems that could have been addressed over the past two decades. Instead all of that money has been frittered away chasing phantoms predicted by fictional digital models… It’s a modern tragedy – and history will not be kind to the perpetrators.

  146. @ andrewmharding at 12:53

    You, sir, win the prize, having grasped the situation precisely. Nobody cares about oil. We do care about the products made from it, and what those products can do.

    The chemical engineers have already paved the way for doing without oil. We have gas-to-liquids plants that produce diesel and jet fuel. We can easily make any other hydrocarbon, such as gasoline or lubricating oils. We are not anywhere close to running out of gas.

    We can do the same with coal, and some places do that already. There are hundreds of years of known coal reserves.

    The Earth’s crust has barely been scratched.

  147. Sam Norton (@Elizaphanian) says:
    January 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    “I’m normally a fan, but knocking Limits to Growth for saying that it “projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and natural gas by 1993″ is simply false.”

    Actually at least one edition ( the first published in 1972 , I think ), did state exactly that, but as a quote from a prior report the U.S. Bureau of mines. So your mr. Simmons is only half right, the statment had a prior origin, but it surely appered in the pages of the book, and his claim that it its nowhere to be seen in the book is false, unless perhance it disapperead from later editions and mr. Simmons never read the orginal one.

  148. Roger Sowell says:

    January 19, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    AMEN

    Meanwhile I wonder where the Administration is headed with this guy as Science Advisor

    http://zombietime.com/john_holdren/

    co-authored in 1977, the man now firmly in control of science policy in this country wrote that:

    • Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
    • The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation’s drinking water or in food;
    • Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
    • People who “contribute to social deterioration” (i.e. undesirables) “can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility” — in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.

  149. jmorpuss says:January 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm
    Robert Only 20% of a barrel of oil goes towardes fuel production and here’s a list of what the rest goes towardes List of 144 of about 6000 http://www.ranken-energy.com/Products%20from%20Petroleum.htm .
    ===============================
    Your source way off; my source:
    typical bbl US petroleum: 46% gasoline (19 gal.), 38% other fuel (diesel, jet fuel, heavy fuel oil, etc.), rest lubricants, asphalt, other; so ~84% of oil —> fuel

  150. Neil Jordan says (January 19, 2013 at 10:29 am): “• If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

    Um, if men could get pregnant, they’d be women. :-)

  151. Willis Eschenbach says (January 19, 2013 at 10:58 am): “Humans don’t work that way. For example, when the Dutch ran out of room, they pushed the sea back, made some more land, and reduced their population growth rate. When the world ran out of magnesium, DuPont chemists invented a way to extract it from sea water.”

    From Julian Simon’s The Ultimate Resource 2, 1996:

    “As Henry George said a century ago, an increase in the population of chicken hawks leads to fewer chickens, but an increase in the population of humans leads to more chickens.”

  152. Pamela,
    I enjoy all your thoughtful posts.
    Food for thought, look at the following post which I have just found on Huffington of all places. It describes the miracle of the development of the human Fetus via modern scientific imiging and helps one realize how little we know about the science behind the entire process of childbirth.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexander-tsiaras/pregnancy-anatomy_b_2499945.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmaing10%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D259377

    This is a stage of life that my wife and I never experienced directly as a parent since both of our children were adopted.

  153. Willis, and many others above.
    As much as I admire most of your posts, you are sadly fact deficient. Willis, especially about your remaining petroleum TRR. Read my books, read the references therein, then up your game.

    I hope you are right, but all the scientific research says you are not on fossil fuels. As you have not posted data on creaming curves, or probit transforms, or known TRR, or even the IEAs 2008 analysis for over 700 fields comprising over 60% of all oil production, you have not made your case. Not even close. But you have demonstrated the fault we all have (proven in Arts of Truth) about the comprehension of Bayes theorem. This is a Classic example.

    Even though our research completely agrees about CAWG, I maintain, as do my books, that you are wrong about fossil fuel energy in the future. As requested before, please raise the level of your very eloquent game. The more you dig into it, the grimmer it will become. Bring more geophysics facts than posted above, please. With more references than your own spreadsheets. As WUWT usually does. Game on?

  154. mpainter says:

    January 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    jmorpuss says:January 19, 2013 at 3:53 pm
    Robert Only 20% of a barrel of oil goes towardes fuel production and here’s a list of what the rest goes towardes List of 144 of about 6000 http://www.ranken-energy.com/Products%20from%20Petroleum.htm .
    ===============================
    “Your source way off; my source:
    typical bbl US petroleum: 46% gasoline (19 gal.), 38% other fuel (diesel, jet fuel, heavy fuel oil, etc.), rest lubricants, asphalt, other; so ~84% of oil —> fuel”

    I think there is a typo in jmorpuss post since the link indicates for US refineries that circa 20 gal per 42 gallon/bbl goes to gasoline. It says the rest goes to other which includes diesel, etc.
    While I am not by any measure a worldwide expert in the logistics of Refining, it is well known that the US transportation system is significantly dependent on gasoline, while for example Europe uses much more diesel in their cars. Very few diesel engines meet the US EPA restrictions for autos.
    The other point is that every refinery is designed for the particular market and crude slate and not every refinery tries to maximize gasoline production as the US does. There are a lot of options in the logistics/planning of what a Refinery does with a barrel of crude and probably the US produces a higher % of gasoline than most. Also the products achieveable varies considerably depending on where the crude comes from. There is a big difference between a light sweet crude and a heavy sour crude and the ability of a refinery to run a particular crude varies considerably. Other refineries may be configured to produce more chemical feedstock or diesel. Obviously it is a lot more complex than my simple understanding.

  155. Rud Istvan says:
    January 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Willis, and many others above.
    As much as I admire most of your posts, you are sadly fact deficient. Willis, especially about your remaining petroleum TRR. Read my books, read the references therein, then up your game.

    I hope you are right, but all the scientific research says you are not on fossil fuels. As you have not posted data on creaming curves, or probit transforms, or known TRR, or even the IEAs 2008 analysis for over 700 fields comprising over 60% of all oil production, you have not made your case. Not even close. But you have demonstrated the fault we all have (proven in Arts of Truth) about the comprehension of Bayes theorem. This is a Classic example.

    Even though our research completely agrees about CAWG, I maintain, as do my books, that you are wrong about fossil fuel energy in the future. As requested before, please raise the level of your very eloquent game. The more you dig into it, the grimmer it will become. Bring more geophysics facts than posted above, please. With more references than your own spreadsheets. As WUWT usually does. Game on?

    Thank you for the offer and the invitation, Rud, but absolutely not. I am not interested in the slightest in debating the peak oil question. I have done my research, a small bit of which I posted above. Let me repeat the key graph:

    Yes, there are issues with the reserves, many of them. And I am quite familiar with the issues, the Mexican revision of reserves, the whole ugly thing. Your assumption that I am a naif in these matters is as bad as the rest of your assumptions. I know the problems with the reserve estimates, after all they are estimates.

    But overall, the pattern is clear—there is no evidence of any peak, either now or in the foreseeable future. I used to work in the industry, I’ve looked hard at the projections and the production figures. To date, we have lots and lots of theories … but we have no evidence that we are anywhere near peak production.

    As far as I’m concerned, it is pretty much a closed issue. I’m not putting more time into it unless some huge change in the facts occurs. I have much more important fish to fry.

    In addition, I’m a cynical bugger these days. You see, Rud, I’ve been listening to folks just like you issue dire warnings about the end of fossil fuels for the last fifty years … and to date, despite all of the hoopla, we see no reduction in either production or reserves. Call me crazy, but after what I’ve seen, when somebody tells me that the rate of X is going to fall with dire consequences, these days my response is “get back to me when the rate of X actually starts to fall”.

    So no, Rud, at present I’m not interested in “upping my game”. I have far too many more fascinating pursuits. You seem to think that you are brining some kind of news, telling me to read King Hubbert. I’ve been watching folks like you pop up every few year for fifty years, Rud, issuing the exact same dire warnings you seem to think are so fresh and novel. Peak oil, future shortages, must act now, urgent, blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it all, from more convincing folks that you. You should have seen it in the early eighties, when it looked like the global production actually had peaked, and the peak oil folks were crowing about their victory, and proclaiming Hubbert as a genius. So you’ll pardon me if at this point I’m roundly bored with the whole peak oil schtick, and have absolutely no interest in pursuing it.

    But in the coming years, whenever it may come to pass that the production rate actually starts to fall, please come back and we can talk about it then. I suspect, however, that by the time that day arrives I’ll be long gone …

    w.

  156. Sam Says

    I’m normally a fan, but knocking Limits to Growth for saying that it “projected the world would run out of gold by 1981, mercury and silver by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead and natural gas by 1993″ is simply false.

    I challenge you to prove me wrong on this. My table comes from Limits to Growth Table 4: Nonrenewable Resources, page 64-67. One page 68 the provide the formula for the exponential index.

    You might want to actually check the original source before declaring something false.

  157. up your game Rud, Tell me, what are “the five tight oil formations” in the US. Bring some data to the discussion.

    Willis understands peak oil very well. It has been just a few more years away for the entire century

  158. Here is the money quote from Limits to Growth:

    We have felt it necessary to dwell so long on an analysis of technology here because we have found that technological optimism is the most common and the most dangerous reaction to our findings from the world model. Technology can relieve the symptoms of a problem without affecting the underlying causes. Faith in technology as the ultimate solution to all problems can thus divert our attention from the most fundamental problem – the problem of growth in a finite system – and prevent us from taking effective actions to solve it……..

    …….The hopes of the technological optimists center on the ability of technology to remove or extend the limits to growth of population and capital. We have shown that in the world model the application of technology to apparent problems of resource depletion or pollution or food shortage has no impact on the essential problem, which is exponential growth in a finite and complex system. Our attempts to use even the most optimistic estimates of the benefits of technology in the model did not prevent the ultimate decline of population and industry, and in fact did not in any case postpone the collapse beyond the year 2100.

    There is an inherent conflict between the mindset represented in the LTG book and those of us who are actually technologists. A good friend of mine (Dr. David Webb) was on the committee that funded the study that formed the basis of the book Limits to Growth. You have to understand that this study came out and this book was written right in the middle of the greatest technological triumphs of the Apollo program. When Dr. Webb asked the LTG group why they did not consider the economic development of space as a means to escape the limits to growth they simply refused to consider it. Dr. Webb after that dedicated his life to educating people about space, being the founder of the graduate studies on space at the University of North Dakota and at Embry Riddle University in Florida. Dr. Webb was also on the founding board of directors of the International Space University.

    The problem that we have manifested today is that the heirs of the LTG mindset have taken over the democratic party in the United States as well as in the rest of the Western World. The techological optimists of which many of us are a part, were defunded and thus we start to get a self fulfilling prophecy. I recently did an article on the Apollo program. The budget started to be cut in 1967 ostensibly to balance the budget and cut the deficit. However, at the same time some social program funding increased by more than twice the amount of the cut at NASA. The techological pessimists have taken over our government and our progress has been in spite of them for the most part in the last 30 years.

  159. For mine, economic output is something like natural resources x productivity, and productivity is not subject to any Malthusian constraints. Eventually, world population will stabilize, then population decline will become an issue.

    The oil market is hopelessly corrupted. The producers formed a cartel which will deliberately lower prices to bankrupt any reasonable competitor. To stop the flow of funds into the cartel, governments impose taxes on oil to dampen demand and ensure a large fraction of the money stays in the developed countries concerned. To use it as an example of Malthusian resource exhaustion is a joke.

    Given any natural resource, the amount available increases exponentially with price. Once thirty years worth of a mined commodity at current prices is available, exploration tends to be minimal.
    This point has been made by Erhlicht critiques, don’t have the book to hand.

  160. RE: Sam & the tripiling of oil prices.
    That’s easy, it’s called currency devaluation.
    If the Federal Reserve were not hell bent on devaluing our currency, prices would have fallen.
    But the FED hates the spectre of deflation more than people paying a day’s wages for a loaf of bread.
    In his paper on the 1930’s depression, Bernanke suggested that they didn’t pump enough money in to the economy. He referenced dropping money from helicopers, hence, the “Helicopter Ben” nickname he has been dubbed.

  161. Yes, most predictions of disaster will fail because us humans are a clever lot. Maybe we’ll even avoid AGW through some cleverness.

    But one thing needs to be said, and that is that shortages of any commodity won’t result in its absence in your supermarket. It will just be more expensive than it used to be. And while that is fine for those in affluent countries, it won’t be for the poorer nations.

  162. omnologos says: “Does anybody know of a collection of predictions that turned out right?”

    Well, there are those which relate to a certain “middle eastern” people and nation over the last 4000ish years, particularly since 1948 …

    If the past and present is anything to go by in that regard then some predicted or promised future, uh, “interesting times” seem somewhat certain, yes ?

  163. The funny thing about these predictions is their limitations and end game scenarios. I am not a scientists, but I do observe our world. I do small research in my job everyday to see cause and effect, so I can open our operation up to new possibilities of doing business. Wouldn’t a scientist doing research on any topic observe real world data and see the possibilities of their data and not the limitations? I understand that with any data’s results that we don’t understand or we aren’t prepared for could be scary, but I sure am glad that we figured out how to harness the power of electricity rather than outlaw it due to it’s dangers. Just think if Ben Franklin had been electrocuted as others had who performed the kite experiment were. Or if we hadn’t had Tesla’s AC power. These guys didn’t look at the limitations or fear their results could produce, they looked at the possibilities for future generations. Entire industries were born. Limitations in the climate,such as “tipping points,” which state that once the data goes to this point we’re screwed, really piss me off, because rather than see the possibilities of a warming world(no changing climate), it’s always doom and gloom destruction(or as I believe limitations of narrow minded individuals trying to pander and control to an ignorant public with their authority). Limitations might as well be called control. At least now, when my wife and I watch the news and they talk hottest this or wettest or driest, etc., she just looks at the TV, shakes her head and says “whatever”. After time, that’s the public sentiment to any warned crisis that doesn’t ever rear it ugly head. If the wolf doesn’t finally come, the townspeople just look at the boy and say “whatever.” By the way, Anthony, day in day out, best blog I’ve seen.

    PS, I guess many of the people pushing doom and gloom are actually seeing the possibilities. Al Gore seems to have found the possibilities endless with his recent transactions. Unfortunately, that’s how most of these people are making money, by their doom and gloom scenarios. Not many are working on technologically innovative, COST EFFECTIVE ways to deal the crisis they say is coming! Maybe that says it all right there?

  164. “The Earth’s crust has barely been scratched”

    Yup, and yet folk are still referring to oil as being a FOSSIL fuel. Not hard to see how the catastrophic man made climate change scam artists reckon they can get away with their particular scam. After all, those of similar ilk have already gotten away with similar before when they managed to link the word “fossil” to oil and trick people into thinking it was something rarer and more hard come by, etc, than it actually is.

  165. When I feel sick I go to a doctor. Based on quite a few hundreds of billions of dollars of research into various diseases, the doctor collects some data, makes a prognosis and prescribes some medicine.

    So, what do I do? Based on the failure of numerous predictions, I ingore him, of course.

    You know it makes sense.

  166. Hear are some prediction that you all appear to be addicted to, although you do not appear to want to confront these predictions:

    Infinite economic growth is necessary, desirable and possible and inevitable.
    The environment is infinite source and infinite sump.
    Human ingenuity will alwaystriumph over nature.
    BAU will make things better and better for everyone all the time.

    • Hello Climate Ace,

      I have read all of your contributions so far along with those of your tag-team mate Phillip Shehan, and whilst I greatly admire Richard S Courtney I think he has misdiagnosed you. You are not a bot and you are not here for payment. In fact you seem to honestly think you are revealing things to us that we simply were unaware of previously. You underestimate us, we are voracious in our pursuit of information on this and many other topics.

      Having realised that you have been mistaken and had opposing arguments of various levels of sophistication and content levelled back at you you can see that you were wrong. The denizens of WUWT are , in the main, true skeptics and base their skepticism on the information they get , and continue to find your approach risible.

      Yes we can see that you live in Australia and you have found the recent past hot and fiery which may well be the reason you cling to your idea that this is unusual and unprecedented but as we have had pointed out , it isn’t.

      Now you have finally capitulated with your last two posts descending into the farcical. You ascribe opinions to us that you assume to be the characteristics of the skeptical character here and then condemn us. I presume you will shortly flounce off in high dudgeon, back to the more welcoming AGW blog sites and if that is the case be sure to tell them that every single post you put up here was published, without alteration.

      You see , that is what WUWT is about. It is honest, tolerant and inclusive. That is why WUWT is so popular. Anyone with an opinion can post and enjoy the full flow of debate here as long as the very generous site rules are adhered to. You may not like some of the comments as they can be harsh, sometimes uninformed and dull, but many are informative and enlightening. So don’t sulk, as you now seem to be doing, give it some thought and then come back You can only add to what you know and , hell, you might even convince some of us of the righteousness of your arguments.

      Warm Regards

  167. A very sweet little article, somewhat naive. Would you have taken that much effort to debunk Harold Camping? Off the top of my head I can’t remember the name of this fallacy but it’s in the “straw man” genre. Find someone totally ridiculous you can disprove, and therefore, ergo, QED, all predictions are wrong, unless they agree with your world view.

    In my country, land shortage was already a factor in the 1830’s, leading to the famous “Difeqane” or Threshing with Shaka, Mzilikazi, Shepstone and Retief the chief participants. In the USA, land pressure gave rise to similar events, the genocide of Native Americans. Mark Twain is reported as saying, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” We could even go back as far as the 12th century and Genghis Khan. But I would be guilty of a fallacy myself if I advanced land as being one easily proven example of a resource with a limit. Instead of lateral thinking, for a change we can go vertical, and create high-rise slums. I for one would dearly love to live on the 2044th floor of a condominium tower and to get my recreation I wouldn’t go mountain-biking in the no-longer-existing forests, I’d ride my bike up and down the stairs. Huh.

    I’m anti-abortion on moral grounds, but happily admit that the 40-million-plus abortion deaths since Roe vs Wade have made a huge economic difference. Job-wise, America is overpopulated by about a tenth, with no improvement expected. Without abortion, Erlich’s predicted mass starvation may very well have come to pass. So perhaps there are some limits.

  168. Well, a topic that has been a focus of mine since the ’70s and I’m late to the party…

    Per “Peak Oil”: What Willis said.

    couple of specifics. Oil has been claimed to have 50 year to bone dry since about 1919 ( I have a nice Eng book from then with the claim.) Same in ’70s. ’80s. ’90s. Now…

    Per King H.: Notice that the discussion is now put in terms of conventional oil due to us being awash in ‘other’ oil, so best not to count that in judging him wrong due to all the total oil…

    IIRC it was Standard Oil found found oil at an ‘impossible depth’ in the Gulf of Mexico. (Theory said it was too hot, so oil was not possible.) That means there is now an entire shell of depth that has never been drilled yet to explore.

    “Empty” oil fields in the USA had 50% of the oil still in them. New methods now recover more. Folks are going back to ‘depleted’ oil fields and producing new oil… Lots of it.

    The one not mentioned much lately is the “Energy Return on energy invested” argument ( likely due to it being shown dumb). The FORM of the energy matters. So using nuclear electricity to produce oil is still valuable if you want fuel and chemical feed stock and have excess nuclear power.

    The global supply of nuclear power runs out when the mountains are no longer eroding into the sea. The Japanese system uses a polymer to extract Uranium from sea water. It works, and with very low costs. Just not as low as land source U for now.

    Per “Limits”:

    The Club Of Rome is also behind AGW.
    “Limits” changed their ‘projections’ claims in later editions / rewrites. Beware of “flexible history” when folks say they did not predict (Oh, pardon, they use the ‘projection’ lie…) project running out. They did. Each resource, exact dates. First edition. ALL wrong. Also originated the “computer modeled disaster” method…

    Most significant issues:

    Exponential growth of people and use. Actual growth is S shaped.
    Price insensitive consumption. Real consumption price sensitive.
    Price insensitive production. Real production is price sensitive.
    Use of “reserves” instead of ultimately recoverable resource.
    Ignores resource substitution (aluminum for copper for example).
    Ignores tech change (cell phone vs land line. LED display instead of 18 lbs lead CRT)
    Ignores that resource does not leave the planet. (Where is the ‘away’ that Cu goes when it goes ‘away’?)
    Ignores that nature still operates. (Geology is still sorting Cu and Gold out of magma. Diatoms still becoming limestone. Etc.)
    Ignores that what is a resource changes over time. (Zeolite was just a rock, now it is an important chemical catalyst. Platinum is no longer needed for car cat converters. We can make zeolites.)
    Ignores that people are creative. Rentech now makes oil from trash. I think we will not have a shortage of trash any time soon.

    Those are the ‘big lumps’…

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/grains-and-why-food-will-stay-plentiful/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/ulum-ultra-large-uranium-miner-ship/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/there-is-no-shortage-of-stuff/

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/

    Everyone on the planet can have a US suburban home (4 / house) and fit in Texas and Oklahoma. With enough land to have a nice garden. Total food production in gross calories takes about the same area. Food can also be grown (currently in production in several areas on a few continents) in solar salt water greenhouses.

    http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/

    A home can be built that will collect all its own energy and water, even in an environment as dry as New Mexico, made largely from trash (old tires, bottles, rammed dirt) plus minor additions. It processes its own wastes and grows food. Look up the “Earthship”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthship

    So, when do we run out of sand to make glass, dirt, and trash? One mans trash is another mans fully integrated self sustaining resource neutral home. Or “What is a resource is only limited by imagination”. Unfortunately, some folks have very limited imaginations.

  169. Climate Ace on January 20, 2013 at 2:23 am

    Hear are some prediction that you all appear to be addicted to, although you do not appear to want to confront these predictions:

    Infinite economic growth is necessary, desirable and possible and inevitable.

    The environment is infinite source and infinite sump.

    Human ingenuity will alwaystriumph over nature.

    BAU will make things better and better for everyone all the time.

    – – – – – – – –

    Climate Ace,

    Nothing special in the circumstances of modern man’s path from the pre-conceptual era to an era of an integrated fully conceptual knowledge base that is fully accessible to a many billions more human brains.

    The reasonable view of the future is based on the fully integrated conceptual understanding of what ‘is’ (reality) and understanding individual human nature driven by individually unique ‘oughts’ in a free society.

    Climate Ace, it looks like independent reasoning individuals can and are just being consistent with their rational human capacity. No predictions . . . Just the expectation of business as it usually should be.

    Stand back, the future is stampeding past the static mentalities of those claiming there are fixed present or inevitable future limits to human beings. Those static thinkers self-limited themselves and I do not feel pity for them.

    John

  170. When I feel sick I go to a doctor. Based on quite a few hundreds of billions of dollars of research into various diseases, the doctor collects some data, makes a prognosis and prescribes some medicine.

    So, what do I do? Based on the failure of numerous predictions, I ingore him, of course.

    You know it makes sense.

    I believe your doctor prescribed bleeding and you followed his advice despite the obvious decline in mental capacity that loss of significant amounts of blood causes.

    You prescription for the rest of us (bleeding) will lead to similar results for those that follow your advice.

  171. And then there is Polywell Fusion – if it works. But there are limits. Only about 100,000 years of B11 in known deposits. Not counting the oceans and the asteroid belt. If it works Polywell will open the mining of space. Earth to Mars (near conjunction) in two weeks.

  172. Luís says:
    January 19, 2013 at 9:40 am
    “Readers interested on a scientific account of the relationship between resource depletion and climate change are advised to watch this lecture:”

    Big words. The person holding the talk repeatedly points to unsolved misteries in the data he uses, e.g. the fact that CO2 follows temperatures with a 800 year delay, then glosses it over by saying, anyway, I’ll use the standard explanation (of CO2AGW science) (but there’s something to look at here…)

    He shows a correlation between SST and log(CO2) yet he doesn’t mention the natural carbon cycle (temperature dependant ocean outgassing – maybe he has not heard of it.)

    So, that’s a guy who does a lot of correlations and “hubbert linearizations” while not really caring for how the variables depend on each other. The result must be a superstitious interpretation of reality. (When you don’t know and don’t care for the causations, and just count the numbers of black cats crossing the street in front of you and correlate it with the number of deaths in your village, you might get all kinds of interpretations.)

  173. oldfossil says:
    January 20, 2013 at 2:56 am
    “I’m anti-abortion on moral grounds, but happily admit that the 40-million-plus abortion deaths since Roe vs Wade have made a huge economic difference. Job-wise, America is overpopulated by about a tenth, with no improvement expected. Without abortion, Erlich’s predicted mass starvation may very well have come to pass. So perhaps there are some limits.”

    If those 40 million had not been killed there would be 40 million more consumers, therefore there would be more need for products and services, therefore there would be more jobs.

    Please try to think beyond stage 1.

    As to the reason for why, say, 10% of a population is unemployed: Every time the minimum wage gets increased the jobs with the lowest productivity disappear – the employers can’t afford to employ somebody anymore. Same when you increase the unemployment benefits – the comparative advantage of spending 160 hours a month at a low paid job become so unattractive that persons decline to do such jobs.

    Want more employment? Cut the benefits, remove the minimum wage, remove the forced unionization. We did that in 2003 in germany (and never had forced unionization) and employment has been climbing ever since.

    Ironically it was a social-democrat who did that; Schroeder; he was obviously in the wrong party. His party hated him.

  174. Re: abortion,

    Jews take an entirely different approach to abortion. That approach may (or may not) have something to do with the fact that it is not mentioned in the New Testament.

    For Jews the health of the mother is paramount. And that includes the mental health. In fact abortion is REQUIRED if in the opinion of competent authorities carrying the baby to term will impair the mental health of the mother.

    To be sure abortion was discouraged. But it was never considered the taking of life. Life started when the head exited from the mother or half the body (breech birth). If the person to be was killed while still inside the mother the offense was on the order of breaking an arm.

    A study of the Talmud is instructive. Esp the section on torts. Lots of discussion of oxen and goring. “Al” in Hebrew means “the”. (for your amusement)

  175. “By making things last longer will take the presure of the enviroments natural resources”

    Actually we will be stuck with a lot of outmoded crap. i.e. 640K RAM computers with dual floppies and CRT screens.

  176. Sporting predictions:

    ‘Man Utd 6 Southampton 1′, Bobby Charlton on the BBC prior to the 1976 FA Cup Final. Well, he got half of it right…….

    Ladbrokes: England 500-1 to win Test Cricket Match vs Australia, Leeds 1981. Two Australian titans took the bet and collected. They weren’t very pleased about losing though……

    Political Predictions:

    1992 General Election campaign: Labour Party celebrate in Sheffield a week before polling day. Conservative John Major polled the highest number of votes ever in a UK General Election.

    Too many doomsday scenarios to list concerning the UK and the Exchange Rate Mechanism. The only true one was that 15% inside wouldn’t shore up the pound but before I had to make another mortgage payment, rates were back down to normal outside it.

    One I got right:

    My sister on the phone in London to me in snowless Switzerland in January 1990: ‘When should I come out?’ Me: ‘probably the middle of April’. Never was a better flippant, off the cuff prediction validated more superbly……powder snow every day up top, snow down to the valley each night.

    No science involved of course. An intuitive, gut feel based on a lot of weekends in winter mountains the previous 3 years……..

  177. “I can’t see where immaculate conception ever occurred except in one case.”

    And that so called case was due to a mistranslation. And thus an industry was born. Quite profitable too. “The man is a walking miracle. His mother was a virgin.” Well I do admit he may have been a walking miracle, but it had nothing to do with a virgin mother. I must say that a certain church has done quite well off that mistranslation and the credulity of humanity.

    And I’m no atheist. Why should I be? I have personally experienced The Force or what ever you may choose to call it. Or perhaps it is just my mild schizophrenia. But from time to time I do hear voices. And the advice has been universally good. I do pity those who haven’t had the experience. They must take the experience on faith.

    But I do due diligence. One must cross check.

  178. “Maybe Robbie can list personal experiences on the bloody cutting edge of technology. Waiting . . .”

    Well I have one. I designed the I/O board that went into the world’s first BBS. S100 Bus/Z80. Ask Randy and Ward about it. The whole BBS thing was one of the threads that led to the Internet for those of you too young to know. That was back when being a hacker was still a good thing and there were about 10,000 personal computer geeks in the whole world. Almost all of them in the US. “Support the Revolution, Buy a Computer” was my motto back then. I was deathly afraid the US Government would figure out what was going on and put a stop to it before it could cause them trouble. In fact they had no clue or were happy for the prospects. (I did a LOT of work in defense back then)

  179. “And who predicted that invading Iraq would turn into a blood bath and cost thousands of lives.”

    Or that 90% of the killing would be done by the coreligionists of the Iraqis? In fact in an offhand way Wm. Burroughs predicted it in Naked Lunch (around 1950). See the section entitled “Islam Inc.”

  180. Climate Ace says:
    January 20, 2013 at 2:23 am

    Hear are some prediction that you all appear to be addicted to, although you do not appear to want to confront these predictions:

    Infinite economic growth is necessary, desirable and possible and inevitable.
    The environment is infinite source and infinite sump.
    Human ingenuity will alwaystriumph over nature.
    BAU will make things better and better for everyone all the time.

    ——————–

    Economic growth is necessary? Well, to improve quality of life and standard of living, sure. Desirable? I guess for those who value a higher quality of life and standard of living. Possible? I hope so. Inevitable? No, wouldn’t that be nice.

    The environment is all we have to work with, by definition. Unless you’ve discovered the secret of creating stuff magically from the void or sending stuff magically into oblivion. So what? Are you really trying to say that since it’s not infinite, we should defer to your judgement on how to utilize resources and dispose of waste? One of the lessons that this blog post clearly illustrates is that large numbers of motivated people often find ways to get around the apparent limitations imposed by finite resources. If you were in charge, do you think YOU would have come up with these advances?

    ‘Human ingenuity will always triumph over nature.’ You’re smuggling a false premise in with this statement, that human ingenuity somehow inevitably opposes nature. Does a farmer who plants and harvests a crop ‘triumph over nature’? To the degree that you want to call those things (diseases, erosion, natural disasters, etc.) that degrade our quality of life and standard of living ‘nature’, I certainly hope we triumph. While there is no guarantee that human ingenuity will win out, our intelligence is the main asset our species possesses; do you propose that we rely on our thick wooly coats and sharp claws? Maybe we should forget our
    intelligence and build altars and pray to Gaea, do you think?

    ‘Business As Usual will make things better and better for everyone all the time.’ You’ve made your contempt for status quo activites plain since you’ve been posting here. It’s relatively easy to sit in an armchair and criticize Business As Usual. What specifically do you propose to change that ‘will make things better and better for everyone all the time’, and what on earth makes you believe that you’re qualified to determine what ‘better and better for everyone’ even means?

    All this aside, I’m sick of being demonized as some sort of anti-environmental monster by people who’ve apparently watched too many ‘Captain Planet’ cartoon episodes. Framing the discussion that way is the worst sort of strawman, it’s juvenile, and all it does is obscure the issues. Do you care about the environment? Great; stop focusing on the CO2 CAGW boogeyman as the end-all be-all of environmentalism and allocate your efforts and money on REAL environmental problems where JUST MAYBE they could be of real benefit.

  181. denniswingo,
    January 19, 2013 at 11:07 pm
    —————————————-
    Great post. The idea that anti-growth Luddites are a breed of harmless do-gooders who mean well is palpably false.

  182. The future is not the present extrapolated.

    Can anyone cite an example of a precious resource that has actually run out, causing some limitation or restriction on human activity or endeavour? In general the use of one resource is simply superceded by another, often associated with a change in technology.

  183. “By the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people …”

    this appears to be the only prediction that turned out to be even partially correct,

  184. As well as the rest of the article, I particularly like the highlighting of the table, for reminding of how they claimed the same BS about aluminum and iron as everything else in it. Aluminum and iron amount to about 13% by mass of the average rock in Earth’s 3E19 ton crust, which contains about 4000 quadrillion tons of aluminum and iron. That’s 4 billion billion tons. At present rates, mankind wouldn’t run out in a billion years (not that it really vanishes when used but that another topic), yet they claimed decades to a century or two — a classic illustration of their typical levels of (non)intelligence, (dis)honesty, and (in)accuracy, masked to the naive by a formal writing style and appeal to superficial sophistication by a GIGO model but BS at heart, being style without valid substance.

    If those metals were used at vastly higher than present rates, correspondingly vastly higher industrial capabilities and economic output would be implied, which includes capabilities for space colonization (and there is more than enough material in and around the solar system to make a million times Earth’s land area in artificial worlds, space habitats, not overnight but not needing to be overnight — such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarTram + http://neofuel.com/ + etc. = such as http://space.mike-combs.com/ and
    http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/75SummerStudy/Table_of_Contents1.html etc).

    Around 100+ trillion tons of thorium exist in Earth’s crust. Even common granite rock with 13 ppm thorium concentration (just twice the crustal average, along with 4 ppm uranium) contains potential nuclear energy equivalent to 50 times the entire rock’s mass in coal, although there is no incentive to resort to such very low-grade deposits when other sources are available (like loads of Conway granite with 56 ppm thorium, of which most is readily leachable, and other sources higher still).

    After spending about their whole lives in the approximately 1.3% or 1.5% of Earth’s land area which consists of urban areas, people often underestimate just how much land there is, quadrillions of tons of water (affordably desalinated for a few hundred dollars per acre-foot now if needed), and quadrillions of tons of material.

    On average, overall, only 0.16 tons/hectare annually of grains and rice (about 2.4 billion tons/year) are produced today relative to Earth’s land area, yet farm yields range from such as < 1 to 2 tons/hectare in African farms to 7 tons/hectare average in American farms.

    For instance, average yields on U.S. corn farms have gone from around 1.6 tons / hectare prior to the 1940s, to exceed 4.5 tons/hectare in the 1960s, then to reach 8 tons/hectare in the 1990s, and 9 tons/hectare now. Current biotech test plots have a yield of around 19 tons/hectare.

    Hydrocarbons, including plastics as well as fuels, can be synthesized by Fischer-Tropsch methods using any hydrogen source, any carbon source, and any energy source, for a cost at most only slightly above the conventional competition (though the amount of fossil fuels is vastly more than common false claims imply anyway).

  185. One possible typo in my prior post in a way: As someone else pointed out earlier, the practice of referring to hydrocarbon fuels as just fossil fuels may not necessarily be valid. It isn’t something I’ve personally focused on investigating, but it would be strange and curious, at least, if Earth has never had large amounts of hydrocarbons from abiotic sources, when extraterrestrially they range from the lakes of Titan to trillions of tons of oil shale kerogen in inactive comets ( http://neofuel.com/ ).

  186. Gynecological discussions and decisions belong in the medical exam room between you and your physician. Period. And there is no sexist bent here. I have no more input or vote on male genitological issues as they do of my gynecological and genitological issues. If a man wants a baby, great! It is his responsibility to find a female who will carry one to term for him. However, it is also his risk that she may choose to end that pregnancy for whatever reason.

    The issue I do have is this: climate change debate does not belong in the discussion of female reproduction decisions (and visa versa). Therefore when these separate issues get mixed together, it detracts from reasoned discourse. Not to mention the weird ways female medical decisions get twisted into political opinions, nonsensical “comebacks”, and sad to say, laws.

    I would hazard a guess that if prying eyes were as focused on men and their “pants down” exams and issues, gravied up with political opinions, nonsensical “comebacks”, and sad to say, laws, we would have an uproar of equal volume.

  187. Infinite economic growth is necessary, desirable and possible and inevitable.
    The environment is infinite source and infinite sump.
    Human ingenuity will alwaystriumph over nature.
    BAU will make things better and better for everyone all the time.

    Encompassed in your statement is the gulf between technological optimists and the Luddite, of which you are whether you understand it or not. The term “luddite” comes from the followers of Ned Lud, who when the starvation and privation of the coldest parts of the Little Ice age were ongoing, encouraged his fellows to smash the machines of the early industrial revolution. This same mindset is encompassed by your green movement, which is just a recasting of the luddite meme to judge only technologies that you claim are sustainable as those that are appropriate for mankind. From Meadows follow on to Limits to Growth called “Beyond the Limits”

    The human world is beyond its limits. The present way of doing things is unsustainable. The future, to be viable at all, must be one of drawing back, easing down, healing. Poverty cannot be ended by indefinite material growth; it will have to be addressed while the material human economy contracts. Like everyone else, we didn’t want to come to these conclusions…

    ……Even with the most effective technologies and the greatest economic resilience we can believe possible, if those are the only changes, the model generates scenarios of collapse.

    Whether or not you understand your own position, this is what you are saying.

    Here is what St. Al Gore had to say, which is barely beyond plagerization of Meadows from his book Earth in the Balance:

    We have also fallen victim to a kind of technological hubris, which tempts us to believe that our new powers may be unlimited. We dare to imagine that we will find technological solutions for every technologically induced problem. It is as if civilization stands in awe of its own technological prowess, entranced by the wondrous and unfamiliar power it never dreamed would be accessible to mortal man. In a modern version of the Greek myth, our hubris tempts us to appropriate for ourselves—not from the gods but from science and technology—awesome powers and to demand from nature godlike privileges to indulge our Olympian appetite for more.

    What has always fascinated me about these pronouncements, which are to be taken as axioms of nature and immutable facts of life, is how wrong they truly are. Al Gore is a failed seminary student and Meadows and his crew are also for the most part not physicists and engineers.

    While infinite technological progress is not inevitable (mostly because of luddites like you who are in power), it is possible. We have the choice today between a civilization and society as described in the television series Star Trek (all of its various incarnations), and a society as envisioned in more dystopian movies such as Mad Max and other of its ilk.

    In my book, that Anthony kindly linked to above, I go into this in some detail. I also recently wrote and article about the fateful decision to end the Apollo program and its terrible effects that resonate to this day. You can read it here if you like.

    http://denniswingo.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/reclaiming-our-future-in-space/

    The government in 1967 and 1968 did what your ilk wanted to do, which is to turn away from the future and give the money for social programs. How’s that working out for you?

    Here is my academic treatise on how the economic development of the solar system as a facet of national power development.

    http://www.ndu.edu/press/space-Ch8.html

    So you see Climate ace what all of this boils down to politically is that the AGW movement is a means to use science in order to legitimize the goals of the philosophy embedded in the Limits to Growth and and Al Gore’s Earth in the Balance. This philosophy is also embedded in another environmental pantheon called the Georgia Guidestones.

    What you don’t understand Climate Ace is that your entire philosophy is based upon a failed response to the industrial revolution 2 centuries ago and that if your ilk actually succeed it will result in the deaths of billions of your fellow global citizens as it is not possible to maintain a global civilization of 9 billion people based upon the way that you want to organize society.

  188. Pamela: You seem perfectly content to dehumanize males to nothing but sperm providers. I see no difference between that the ridiculous claim of feminists that women were only worthwhile when barefoot and pregnant. Women did not want equality–they wanted to be selfish people who ruled the world and stomped on men. I’m not sure how this got into climate change–or even incorrect predictions–but once a comment is out there, expect responses. Maybe women and warmists look much alike in their agenda?

    • Alice, I am as male as one ever gets, and I do not feel dehumanised by anything Pamela wrote in this thread. She has expressed a valid point of view, and it is, in fact, very close to biological reality. Which is that human and many other males do not really get to choose their mates. In most sexually reproducing animals, the female makes the choice and so rejection (at any level) is the norm.

      Biologically, in primates in particular, males are little more than sperm carriers.

  189. Addendum….

    Lest anyone make the claim that my copies of the statements from Meadow and Gore are not representative of mainline global political thinking, I give you this from the 2012 UN sponsored conference, Planet Under Pressure….

    From my book’s 2012 update…

    In a Rio + 20 policy brief, “A Green Economy For a Planet Under Pressure” from the Planet Under Pressure conference elements right out of the limits to growth and its like continue to be developed. The following is the guiding policy statement:

    Humanity is at a crossroads. Social, economic and environmental crises that have played out in recent years offer a unique opportunity for a step change in the way humanity does business. Although the concept of the ‘green economy’ was introduced to address today’s challenges, its continued dependence on traditional – and questionable – trickle-down economic growth theory has rendered it inadequate. A fast-growing population, rapidly diminishing resources and planetary boundaries are forcing humanity to find innovative ways to use resources more efficiently, to work within the limits of the Earth’s natural capital, and to make fundamental changes to our economic systems. This policy brief sets out the guidelines for the social and technological transformations needed for a new economic system, as well as the new ways in which we will need to measure and monitor this system.

  190. Auto says:
    January 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Fine distinction here. The underground is 150 years old.
    The tube which is the tunnelled network is younger.

    DaveE.

  191. Pamela Gray says:
    January 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I agree. Technology has made the female control most abortion foes desire obsolete. i.e. unworkable. Just as technology is making gun control an unworkable proposition.

    It is funny. Despite the many failures of prohibitions of all kinds, both major parties still have their favorites and their oppositions. It is a wonder.

    =====================

    How do you convince a woman who doesn’t want to take care of a child to do so? If you can do that you don’t need a law. If you can’t do that the law won’t work.

  192. “In most sexually reproducing animals, the female makes the choice and so rejection (at any level) is the norm.”

    It is worse than that. If a new male primate takes over the reproductive unit he will kill all the very young offspring of the previous male. Humans have toned that down some. But the new male has a propensity to sexually molest the children of the previous male. That tends to drive them out of the family – if they can escape.

    The guy who said 2,000 years ago divorce is a great evil may have been on to something.

  193. “trickle-down economic growth theory”

    In fact works. You might want to look up “the digital divide” which was all the rage when computers were new and going mainstream 30 years ago. The fear was that only the “rich” would have access to the new digital world. For practical purposes in America computers are free if you are willing to work with a 6 or 8 year old model. Or rather low cost if you can use a hand held. And then there is the “One Laptop Per Child” group.

    The trouble with the anti-trickle down folks is that they have no patience. And their prescriptions (theft, murder) generally lead to worse outcomes than the trickle-down societies get. The USSR was no mass technology powerhouse.

  194. denniswingo says:
    January 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    “The government in 1967 and 1968 did what your ilk wanted to do, which is to turn away from the future and give the money for social programs. How’s that working out for you?”

    To the governmentophile, failure is never a result of being wrong, but of not going far enough with the prescribed policy, no matter the self-evident flaws by which it is fundamentally doomed.

    Excellent column here, too. To Mrs. Dorothy Reynolds, I would have liked to have asked, “do you want to feed them money?” Because money isn’t food, and allocating resources to NASA did not reduce the amount of food available.

    The average lay person is hobbled by the illusion that money has intrinsic value, rather than being merely a medium for commerce. Like electrons. Money facilitates the flow of commerce, just as electrons facilitate the flow of energy. But, there is never an actual shortage of electrons, just as there is never any real shortage of money. There is only ever a shortage of production, and the bottleneck in production lies in human initiative in envisioning, organizing, and implementing it.

  195. Alice, you make assumptions about me not supported by my comments. But you offer a very revealing reason why this discussion should be a private one between the woman (with her partner if she chooses to) and her physician. Those outside this very private discussion can and often do make unsupported assumptions.

  196. Let’s not forget some of the events still on our horizon:
    Dual planetary rifts (the 30 -120 day variety)
    Our planets magnetic field reversal (100 year dead zone)
    Plate slipping/undersea avalanches (600′ tsunamis)
    Super volcanoes
    Carrington type events ( no replacement step-down transformers for 20 months or more)
    Massive earthquakes
    War (not going away, as mankind’s mind hasn’t changed at all in the past 30,000 years), but our senses (5 or 6) have eroded some.
    And many more auto-correcting events!!!
    All things come to an end (CAGW, ice-ages, inter-glacial periods, you name it).

  197. denniswingo

    I am so not a Luddite. There are two broad bets available. The first is that humanity can safely ignore nature going forward for the next umpteen millenla.

    The other is that, at some stage or another in say, the next ten thousand years, it can’t.

    You guys want to bet that she’ll be right for infinity or until the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies collide.

    I have this tendency to think, hey mate, let’s just slow it down a bit and look at this a bit more carefully. Maybe we are not Masters of the Universe.

    Luddite as a pejorative is IMHO and in any case, a bit irrelevant in my case.

    I love all our our new machines. I support GMO, nanotechnology and nuclear energy.

  198. Mark Bofill

    It is good to get the implied predictions, assumptions and beliefs of the BAU boosters out in the open isn’t it?

    Are infinite economic growth and infinite population growth good things? If not, how do we stop? Where does the merry-go-round run out of bearings, cheap energy and materials? Never, ever?

    Wow. It is just like God.

    I note that certain folk are preparing to have a froth at the mouth of Malthus. Not me. I think that the infinity merchants have more of a difficulty with Malthus than I do, even if most folk get him dead wrong.

  199. Predict the future state of any production can take place based on previous indicators. Predict climate change and determine their characteristics, is nothing more than a fortune-telling skills, such as Grandma fortune teller looking into a ball for divination. So today most used p c, as a ball for divination, making it a mathematical model, which later believed. It would not be a problem with those models that do not dumbing down many ignorant people and prosecute them if they believe in a miracle.
    Forecast climate change, without knowing the true cause of these phenomena is unscientific and not really natural and normal.
    Climate change is caused by the interaction of the planets and the Sun, which is reflected in the behavior of the Sun in the form of changes magnetism and sunspot cycle and the reconnection of magnetic poles sun.
    Such a picture of behavior, enable learning, at all times, and climatic and other changes.

  200. Climate Ace says:
    January 20, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    denniswingo


    I have this tendency to think, hey mate, let’s just slow it down a bit and look at this a bit more carefully. Maybe we are not Masters of the Universe.

    Climate Ace says:
    January 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Mark Bofill

    It is good to get the implied predictions, assumptions and beliefs of the BAU boosters out in the open isn’t it?

    Are infinite economic growth and infinite population growth good things? If not, how do we stop?

    —————————————————————————

    Buddy, this is pure arrogance. Who are you to say ‘let’s just slow it down a bit?’ Were you elected emperor, or do you propose to rule by right of your limitless genius? Who are you to determine what is good for humanity (without even troubling to define your standard of ‘good’, might I add)? AND WHY IS THIS YOUR PRIORITY?

    See, I ask this, because what you appear to advocate fits a pattern of justifying tyranny. Reach out to vague, nebulous concepts like ‘the good of humanity’ to justify taking control of what people do or don’t do. Pardon me for expressing my skepticism of your altruistic motives, but this looks like the plain vanilla sophistry of a guy who wants to rule for the sake of ruling.

    No thanks, I’ll go with the human ingenuity thing.

  201. The malevolent benevolence of the AGW position on mitigation is so easy to uncover, even Kenji can do it.

  202. I’ve read the quotes from Dr. Viner, “snowfall thing of the past” etc before but thought they were made pre 1990, so couldn’t understand when the articles referenced above all showed the date 2000.

    The reason for this is that my favourite band – Marillion – recorded an album in 1989 called “Seasons End” which contains lyrics with striking similarities to the words of Dr Viner in the article published ten years later – “Getting close to seasons end, I heard somebody say, that it might never snow again In England” – “Snow flakes in a newborn fist, Sledging on a hill, Are these things we’ll never see In England”.
    I thought the band / John Helmer had seen the article then written the song, but obviously not.
    Which begs the question – is Dr David a Marillion fan? , ‘cos if so I might see him at the Marillion Weekend in Port Zeeland, Holland on the 8th – 11th March.

    ps. Please don’t knock Marillion over the song – they are VERY, VERY GOOD and probably listened to some ‘expert opinion’.

    • Easter and King of Sunset Town also excellent. You cannot blame the guys for taking climate change on board. It was hip and cool and vague.

      I think that Hogarth and the boys would be quite interested to hear the truth first hand.

  203. Either mankind uses a substantial fraction of the 5000+ quadrillion tons of metals in Earth’s crust or doesn’t. In the latter case, there is much left untapped. In the former case, orders of magnitude greater industrial capabilities and economic output than now are implied, compared to which advancing to the next level of being a space civilization is relatively easy.

    Either way, available materials are not a showstopper.

    If advancing to that next level, then in turn either future mankind utilizes a substantial fraction of the power available to such a solar system civilization advancing towards a Dyson Swarm (trillions of trillions of watts) or doesn’t. Again, in the latter case, there is much left untapped. In the former case, even the energy requirements of mass interstellar flight are far less, while there are so many billions of stars in the galaxy (though actually surprisingly many in the void between galaxies too) that the soonest probable end for such a civilization reaching new ones would be approximately the end of the universe itself under many cosmological and/or religious assumptions.

    Again, either way, available energy and materials are not a showstopper limiting the general order of magnitude involved, not unless “potential inability to outlast the universe itself” is considered one, hardly an argument against such in context (and, if there is any way to go beyond the known universe, that would be the kind of civilization with the greatest chance of finding it).

    What can be devastating, though, not on the timescale of billions of years but far sooner, as in right this century if not stopped, is governance by hyper-dishonest mathematically-illiterate ideologues seeking power for poor reasons, in results all but indistinguishable from being misanthropic. As in prior generations, mankind’s own governments are among its greatest threats unless prevented from being such.

    If the likes of today’s dishonest ideologues had full power eons ago, all of mankind would still be a few villages, without any of the richness of civilization that came from greater growth (until dying out like the dinosaurs did from lack of a space program).

  204. Climate Ace Says….

    Are infinite economic growth and infinite population growth good things? If not, how do we stop? Where does the merry-go-round run out of bearings, cheap energy and materials? Never, ever?

    Wow. It is just like God.

    Mmmmmm….. Sounds just like Albert Gore Jr. From “Earth in the Balance”.

    We have also fallen victim to a kind of technological hubris, which tempts us to believe that our new powers may be unlimited. We dare to imagine that we will find technological solutions for every technologically induced problem. It is as if civilization stands in awe of its own technological prowess, entranced by the wondrous and unfamiliar power it never dreamed would be accessible to mortal man. In a modern version of the Greek myth, our hubris tempts us to appropriate for ourselves—not from the gods but from science and technology—awesome powers and to demand from nature godlike privileges to indulge our Olympian appetite for more.

    You have to be kidding me. Just in the last couple of weeks we have had an announcement from NASA that there are about 17 billion Earth like planets in our galaxy alone, and there are over 100 billion galaxies.

    We live on one tiny little mudball called Earth in a solar system teaming with resources. Read the book “Mining the Sky” for a bit of information on just how vast our own solar system’s resources are. We now have the technology (and I state this as a professional opinion as someone acknowledged as an expert in the field), to develop these resources and to develop an economy that spans our solar system. The limiting factor in all of this is energy. As a planetary society we are woefully energy poverty stricken. I am in favor of getting off of fossil fuels for a completely different reason, they are very low forms of energy. You state that that you are in favor of nuclear energy, so am I. However, most of our national investment has been in low energy multiple technologies like solar, wind, and biomass. These technologies lock us into an energy poverty situation where we are always fighting between food and fuel. This is stupid.

    The goal of the technological optimist is not to bring the west down to a third world energy level and then control mankind until all the energy finally gives out, but to take the opposite approach of creating wealth, through the economic development of the solar system. This will make our planetary civilization of 9 billion people more wealthy than all previous societies put together in history. It is a clear fact of reproduction in advanced societies that birthrates decline and population actually falls when wealth reaches a certain level. This is true in Europe, Japan, and the United States and coming soon to China.

    You have this weird claim (and so does Gore) that just because we understand the ability of technology and science that we want to be Gods? How absurd. What a limited viewpoint. That viewpoint is that of a Luddite, and yes it is a pejorative and is meant to be so. Luddites smashed the machines of the early industrial age for the same reason that you want to stop progress now, and thus by your own words are you convicted.

  205. Climate Ace says:
    January 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    … Are infinite economic growth and infinite population growth good things? If not, how do we stop?

    Ya gotta love ol’ Ace. He puts up the most inventive straw men. For example, he wants people to think that the critical issue is, is infinite population growth a good thing? He claims that that’s what the BAU people believe in, “infinite population growth”. One presumes that by “infinite population growth” he means population growth that continues until humans completely fill all of the space in the known universe … and then keeps expanding. Although Ace might have invented a new meaning for “infinite”, you never know.

    Ace wants to know if entirely filling the total space of the known universe with humans through infinite population growth sounds like a good thing. He doesn’t believe me, so it’s no use me saying it doesn’t sound like a good thing, maybe someone else could point out that infinite population growth is neither desirable nor possible …

    You see, Ace is trying to make fun of people who point out that business as usual (BAU) so far has lifted much of the world out of poverty, and is moving the rest upwards. Acey don’t like that, I don’t know why, poor people moving out of poverty seems to make him lose his cool, but he can hardly deny it … so he makes the ridiculous claim that BAU folks think “infinite population growth” is a good thing, and then sets about demolishing that carefully constructed straw man.

    See Ace demolish the straw man.

    Demolish, Ace, demolish.

    See the straw man fall.

    Fall, straw man, fall. Ace has conquered you.

    Thus endeth our child’s garden adverse us …

    w.

    PS—yeah, I know it’s obscure, it’s a play on the RLS book title “A Child’s Garden of Verses” …

  206. Re: Willis/Ace

    A couple of years ago we had a discussion here regarding the total volume of humanity on Earth. Turns out that you could put every person on Earth into a one kilometre sphere, with room to spare.

    We have a long way to go before we reach infinite population growth. We’ve hardly even started.

  207. Gene–You just equated yourself to animals, not humans.

    Pamela–When men have NO part whatsoever, including providing sperm, then women get all the say. Until then, women do NOT get all the say even if they presume to. You cannot reproduce on your own so there is no reason why you–the woman–should get all the say. I really don’t care if you carry the baby or not. You DID NOT make it by yourself. You do not own it. You demand men pay for it, even though it was your choice alone, according to you. Again, unless men have NO part–no sperm, no child support, etc–it is not your decision alone.

    • Alice says:

      > Gene–You just equated yourself to animals, not humans.

      I didn’t equate myself to animals; I fully realise I am one of them. And so are you. “One of” is not the same as “equal”. I can’t be equal to a set of things, but I can be one of them.

      We are all cousins, with a common ancestor. If you bother to tabulate commonalities and differences between, let’s say, any mammal of your choice and a human, just focusing on behaviour, you will find that there are really not too many differences to speak of. If, however, you only live among humans and do not spend time looking around, you’ll be excused for thinking we are special. But then you’ll be likely to misinterpret our behaviour in bizarre ways and to keep finding mysteries where there are none.

      We are indeed a little bizarre, compared to most of our cousins, but in a very limited number of ways. I can name one: we don’t have a mating season. That has some implications on how we organise our life. Another thing to note — a conjecture, although one I wouldn’t dismiss without a good argument — is that humans somehow managed to halt their development at a juvenile stage. We can reproduce without reaching maturity, and somehow that brings about a few evolutionary advantages, and that’s it. Just look at a 10-year-old chimp: we never reach such an unbelievable level of maturity. When Richard Dawkins calls us “juvenile apes”, I think he’s on to something.

      We are a little weird, but we are apes all right. We are driven by the same programs, unless we consciously suppress them for one reason or another. We almost don’t have any new programs compared to others.

  208. I will say this one more time, the post included references to abortion as a part of the conversation on climate change. It has no place there. That some have included it into the conversation, as exposed by the post, begs many questions, especially the motives behind such a maneuver. I do not consider those motives pure in the least and highly distracting to the central tenants of climate change. The conversation is a private medical one (along with whomever the pregnant woman wants to include- the law of the land like it or not) and belongs only there. It smacks of using human shields between adversarial climate change opponents on either side. I hope you Alice, find that maneuver disgusting and fraught with unsupported assumptions. I do.

  209. D. B. Stealey says:
    January 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Re: Willis/Ace

    “A couple of years ago we had a discussion here regarding the total volume of humanity on Earth. Turns out that you could put every person on Earth into a one kilometre sphere, with room to spare.”

    A more practical measure is you could fit all of us into Lake superior with 15 sq metres to tread water in, or 90billion people in the lake with1 sq m to tread water in. Still, we don’t take up much room.

  210. Gary Pearse says:
    January 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    D. B. Stealey says:
    January 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Re: Willis/Ace

    “A couple of years ago we had a discussion here regarding the total volume of humanity on Earth. Turns out that you could put every person on Earth into a one kilometre sphere, with room to spare.”

    A more practical measure is you could fit all of us into Lake superior with 15 sq metres to tread water in, or 90billion people in the lake with1 sq m to tread water in. Still, we don’t take up much room.

    Yeah, but that’s without Climate Ace’s patented infinite population growth … now all we need is the Infinity Drive, and we’re home free …

    w.

  211. Pamela Gray on January 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I will say this one more time, the post included references to abortion as a part of the conversation on climate change. It has no place there. [ . . . ]

    – – – – – – –

    Pamela Gray,

    The main post was about failed predictions in the areas of: 1) Exhaustion of Resources, 2) Population and Poverty, and 3) Climate Change.

    Abortion was only discussed explicitly in the section on population. It was not addressed in the context of climate change.

    The main post’s view was highly critical of population bomb alarmism. It countered false claims / predictions about dire needs to for drastic population control. Forced or encouraged abortion is often one of the alarming population proponent’s favorite options for their mitigation against their claims of imminent population explosions. I find it immoral that they advocate such forced or encouraged abortions. If the discussion upsets you then I can understand why, it upsets me. But we must be willing to discuss such things in order to counter the advocates of such abortion policies whether it is upsetting or not.

    John

  212. It is none of anybody else’s business and does not belong in discussions of climate change. That men make it so, and I suppose even women, speaks to the incredible degree in which one group of people wish to control another group of people. It also speaks to the far fetched assumptions people are willing to make on both sides of the climate change discussion when it comes to motivations for abortion as a form of wide spread population control. None of which have any bearing on the realities of the private discussion had between patient and physician.

    However, this issue brings up an important sobering phenomenon. When adult self-determination is pried from our hands and becomes the business of others, including the right to choose whether or not to end ones own pregnancy, freedom is harmed for all.

  213. I see that the BAUsters have not quite got their heads around the fact that they are behaving as if some predictions are correct. They are happy to scoffter all sorts of OP’s predictions. But when it comes to accepting that BAU is built around some basic predictions they run for cover. That is, they discuss everything other than the likelihood that the predictions will stand the test of time.

    What are these predictions again?

    (1) That humankind will indefinitely be able to master nature
    (2) That infinite population growth is desirable. (BAUsters in Australia, BTW, belong to the Big Australia Boosters… they happily envisage an Australia which has 100 million people.
    (3) That there are NO limits to growth and never will be.
    (4) That there will ALWAYs be a technological solution to whatever.

    Which of these predictions were addressed in any substance, in any intrinsic fashion by the BAU boosters upstring?

    Not (1), because it is a cross-fingers job. Past performance, as the fund managers always remind us, is no guarantee of future performance. This prediction is based on hope.

    Not (2) because not one BAU booster has any idea of addressing population issues. The BAU prediction is that everything will be all right on the day. BAU boosters have no idea how to stop between 500 million and 1000 million from going to bed hungry each night. They have no idea of what to do about the 5-15 million children who die of starvation every year: except to burn even more fossil fuels.. Even if we are burning more fossil fuels than ever before and we have more hunger than ever before and more children dying of starvation per annum on a regular basis than ever before. The BAU population, she’ll be right mate, prediction is failing now, not at some time in the future.

    Not (3) Embedded in BAU is the utter necessity of growth. The implicit prediction is that the growth can, and must, and will continue. That is a BAU predicator. Therefore, the implicit prediction is that growth will continue to happen for millenia and that there will never be any practical limits to growth of the global economy.

    Not (4). Technology is not doing the job now, so BAU. The prediction that things can only get better is already limited, genetically. We are experiencing massive loss of the global gene pool and the potential that the loss represents. Technology can’t even stop this, let alone promise to contain future losses.

    It is easy enough to pick off various human failues in the prediction game. What is not so easy is for BAU boosters to acknowledge that their whole approach to life is based on predictions that are matters of hope and guesswork.

    • I see that the BAUsters have not quite got their heads around the fact that they are behaving as if some predictions are correct. They are happy to scoffter all sorts of OP’s predictions. But when it comes to accepting that BAU is built around some basic predictions they run for cover. That is, they discuss everything other than the likelihood that the predictions will stand the test of time.

      Let’s consider your position then . .

      Do you really believe that the current level of population, technology and energy use is already above the optimum for the Earth and mankind? If you do perhaps you could state what we should revert to.

      On the one hand we are faced with mankind continuing to do what it has always done. Striving onwards and upwards at the individual and collective levels arriving where we are today and itching to progress further tomorrow. On the other hand should we voluntarily deny any further growth to any and all living on Earth while we wind back to some ill defined benchmark only you can know? Some poorly remembered halcyon, pastoral past where only the good can live and be happy. A past nobody living in it today is enjoying very much hence they take off on mass to live in our horrible world of technological, social and economic progress.

      Furthermore I notice you have introduced a new acronym , BAU, business as usual meaning what exactly? Every day brings new things and ideas which, if they work, add to our existence and if they don’t are discarded. You seem to think that leaping gaily backwards to old types of energy and doing business will have results different from last time.

      You seem to think you are a kind of progressive fellow but in fact you are an old fashioned conservative with fascist overtones. You cannot decide which bits of society and mankind will flourish and grow, or decline and die. Only each individual acting in his own enlightened self interest can do that and all of those individual acts are what drive mankind inexorably into the future.

      Mankind is also a force of nature. We effect everything which is how we have arrived at this point of our evolution. You, and all of the arrayed alarmists , will not stop mankind’s march into the future. If you and your allies achieve your goals in one place progress will simply pop up somewhere else and people will go there just as they do today.

      I know that you all find the future scary and intimidating but it isn’t because we are driven to adapt to it or it to us. That is what sets us apart from the dumb beasts and our destiny lies in the stars. To get to those stars we will throw off the limitations little men like you and Hansen and Mann and all of the left/liberal world try and impose because it is man’s absolute nature to progress. Look at where we are today and embrace your humanity so you can start to dream about a far more exciting tomorrow.

  214. Climate Ace,

    Since you’ve apparently got fingers in your ears and have no intention of doing anything but spam the same canned argument over and over again, let me humor you and let’s see where it takes us, ok?

    I don’t know exactly what a BAUster or BAU booster is, but lets say I’m one, for the sake of argument, in that I support a status quo of relative political freedom, capitalism, industrialization, and technology. If this leads me to tilt with strawmen, understand that I can’t argue about your point if you won’t clearly explain what you mean in the first place, and help me out by clarifying. But in good faith, lets proceed.

    My read is that you’re saying I operate under some assumptions, you’re calling them predictions; whatever, fine.

    (1) That humankind will indefinitely be able to master nature.
    (2) That infinite population growth is desirable.
    (3) That there are No limits to growth and never will be.
    (4) That there will ALWAYs be a technological solution to whatever.

    For the sake of argument and to keep things moving along, let’s just grant you items (1), (3), and (4). In other words, OK, let’s say that I agree that these are my assumptions or predictions. I can’t agree to item (2), because frankly I neither know nor care in my BAU world whether or not infinite population growth is desirable. The closest I can come with you on this point is to agree that yup, to the extent that overcrowding becomes a problem, I’m going to rely on technology to fix it.

    OK. I’ve taken the bait. Now, where are we going with this? Well, you go on to point out why these things are wrong, let’s have a look.

    Not (1) Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. It sure isn’t, that’s right, but so what? Share what you propose as a better method, and if it makes sense maybe you’ll persuade somebody. I mean, surely you wouldn’t think it reasonable if I told you to quit using some method that’s given good results in the past and suggested no alternative method, right? But also, I need to point out that there needn’t BE any guarantees; we don’t live in a wiffle ball world. We do the best we can with what we’ve got to solve our human problems, because it’s all we can do.

    Not (2) … I don’t know if I can paraphrase your argument concisely, but let me try. None among us BAU boosters has any idea of addressing population issues, we assume it will work out under the BAU scenario of burning more fossil fuels, and this is not working because we’ve got more children starving than ever before is the best I can honestly do with it. There are alot of directions I could go with this. I could call factual bullshit on each of the three distinct points (nobody has an idea how to address, nothing to do but burn more fossil fuel, and BAU isn’t working). I could ask why you don’t consider nuclear power BAU. But instead, why don’t we cut to the chase. Suppose every word you are saying here is the simple, gospel truth. Once again, what alternative do you propose? Persuade me that there’s some alternative to BAU, because I certainly don’t intend to simply lay down in the dirt and die because you say BAU isn’t working.

    Not (3) … BAU requires growth. You don’t actually make an argument against anything here. I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at. I think global economic growth for millenia sounds pretty good actually, can you lay out the problem for me?

    Not (4) … I can’t make heads or tails of this. I honestly don’t have the first clue what you’re talking about. How are we experiencing massive loss of the global gene pool, why should we care, and why should technology have anything to do with it? If you want to clarify this, if you feel it’s important, please do, but I don’t know what to make of it one way or the other as is.

    You conclude that my whole approach to life as a BAU booster is a matter of hope and guesswork. If that’s what you want to call it, fine; I don’t have a problem with it. Now, I’ve done what I can to meet you partway so we can move along with your argument. Kindly do not come back and waste my time spamming the same complaints about BAU at me. PLEASE. Explain where you’re going with this. Propose your better system that doesn’t involve hope and guesswork and maybe we’ll get someplace.

  215. Climate Ace on January 22, 2013 at 2:43 am

    It is easy enough to pick off various human failues in the prediction game. What is not so easy is for BAU boosters to acknowledge that their whole approach to life is based on predictions that are matters of hope and guesswork.

    – – – – – – – – –

    Climate Ace,

    Human beings have a specific identity as human beings. It is our natural capacity to reason about nature. It is a voluntary capacity that flourishes in free exchange of ideas and of the products of those ideas. That is an ‘is’ not an optimism.

    Your argument says the above is the problem that dooms Earth. Others like me say it ‘is’ the necessity of human beings to live as human beings; to live rational lives as reasoning beings. Your ‘limit’ based dooms are, to them, artificial constructs from misapplied reason.

    The reality is human beings will use their reason on nature to live well as reasoning beings, no matter what the time, place or hardship. You are saying humans cannot do that; you say we are doomed on Earth by our nature.

    My advice to you is that human beings as human beings can only achieve well being by a actions that are not contrary to our nature. You mistake that ‘is’ as optimism.

    John

  216. Climate Ace says:
    January 22, 2013 at 2:43 am

    I see that the BAUsters have not quite got their heads around the fact that they are behaving as if some predictions are correct. They are happy to scoffter all sorts of OP’s predictions. But when it comes to accepting that BAU is built around some basic predictions they run for cover. That is, they discuss everything other than the likelihood that the predictions will stand the test of time.

    What are these predictions again?

    (1) That humankind will indefinitely be able to master nature
    (2) That infinite population growth is desirable. (BAUsters in Australia, BTW, belong to the Big Australia Boosters… they happily envisage an Australia which has 100 million people.
    (3) That there are NO limits to growth and never will be.
    (4) That there will ALWAYs be a technological solution to whatever.

    Straw man alert! Cleanup on aisle three!

    Ace, nobody that I’ve read(except you) has said anything about “indefinitely” mastering nature. I don’t even know what “mastering nature” means in your world.

    Nobody I’ve read (except you) has said anything about “infinite population growth” being possible or desirable.

    Nobody I’ve read (except you) says that there are NO limits to growth.

    Nobody (but you) says that there will ALWAYS be a technological solution.

    What we do say is that business as usual has gotten us this far. It does have problems, and it can always be improved, and in fact, constant improvement is a characteristic of BAU. It has lifted billions out of poverty and enriched the world. But it can always be made better, changed, that’s part of the BAU deal. BAU today is nothing like BAU a hundred years ago.

    But you, Ace, want to throw it out and replace it with … what, exactly? The Climate Ace paradise of horse drawn carriages? The non-technological solution? What is it that you propose to supplant the most productive system the world has ever seen? How do you plan to feed the nine billion, Ace, if you think BAU is the suxxor?

    Serious questions, my friend, although I freely admit they may be beyond your cranial horsepower … the main point is, however, that standing around and whining that the current system has problems ,as you have done over and over to terminal boredom, goes nowhere. Lead, follow, or get out of the way, my friend … all you’re doing now is carping and caviling, and that doesn’t help anyone.

    w.

  217. Climate Ace Says

    I see that the BAUsters have not quite got their heads around the fact that they are behaving as if some predictions are correct. They are happy to scoffter all sorts of OP’s predictions. But when it comes to accepting that BAU is built around some basic predictions they run for cover. That is, they discuss everything other than the likelihood that the predictions will stand the test of time.

    What are these predictions again?

    (1) That humankind will indefinitely be able to master nature
    (2) That infinite population growth is desirable. (BAUsters in Australia, BTW, belong to the Big Australia Boosters… they happily envisage an Australia which has 100 million people.
    (3) That there are NO limits to growth and never will be.
    (4) That there will ALWAYs be a technological solution to whatever.

    I echo Wills and take it a step further, you are blinded by even your own language.

    In (1) you make this claim that humankind will indefinitely be able to master nature. In that sentence you reveal a fundamental philosophical premise that is built into the human self hatred movement, which is that somehow humankind is not part of nature. Lets take your premise that we are modifying nature. Yep, but 3.5 billion years ago so did oxygen excreting microbes. Those microbes completely destroyed the existing biosphere and recreated it in an image that is in control to this day. Those same microbes have become so efficient that they have endangered their own existence by drawing down the CO2 concentrations so much as to help to bring about over a million years worth of global ice ages. So much so as to have been a contributing factor in the deaths of the planets megafauna in the last ice age…

    A History of Atmospheric CO2 and Its Effects on Plants, Animals, and Ecosystems

    …Miocene were low enough (180-320 ppm; Pagani, Freeman, and Arthur 1999) to potentially cause a significant decrease in plant productivity, particularly in C3 species. Herbivores, such as browsers that fed almost exclusively on C3 vegetation, would have been especially susceptible to such changes. Janis, Damuth, and Theodor (2000) proposed that the decrease in species diversity of ungulate browsers during the Miocene was due to reduced plant productivity mediated by declining CO2 levels. Fruthermore, the decline in the diversity of grazing mammals, particular horses, at the end of the Miocene, may have been the result of declining plant productivity (MacFadden 2000). Low CO2 concentrations have also been implicated in the extinctions of the Pleistocene megafauna. Gutherie (1984) proposed that environmental change during the last glacial period caused a decrease in plant availability. Morever, they suggested that the predominant plant defenses (alkaloids, cyanide) selected for under this climactic regime would have been more toxic to the megafauna (mammals with primarily simple stomach digestion, e.g., mammoths) than to ruminants (i.e. caribou)

    Humans are reversing that CO2 deficit in the biosphere and yet somehow we are not part of nature by doing so? Your premise is based upon nothing more than the self hatred that comes from so many of the liberal ilk of our age. Lord Attenborough is one of them. From his latest.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/9815862/Humans-are-plague-on-Earth-Attenborough.html

    The television presenter said that humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.
    He said the only way to save the planet
    from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.

    Total poppycock! The ONLY WAY? Is Lord Attenborough a planetary systems engineer? Does he understand the extent of the resources that are available to us in our solar system? Does he understand industrialization in space? Is he an expert on fusion energy? He is none of these and yet he feels that he can make a definitive, axiomatic statement like the above.

    He is wrong.

    Your premise (2) has already been shown to be wrong. Wealthy societies make fewer babies. Look at the population growth rates in Europe, Japan, and now even China and the USA. A recent article in Slate points to and acknowledges that we may actually see a global population decline before the end of the 21st century.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2013/01/world_population_may_actually_start_declining_not_exploding.html

    “For hundreds of thousands of years,” explains Warren Sanderson, a professor of economics at Stony Brook University, “in order for humanity to survive things like epidemics and wars and famine, birthrates had to be very high.” Eventually, thanks to technology, death rates started to fall in Europe and in North America, and the population size soared. In time, though, birthrates fell as well, and the population leveled out. The same pattern has repeated in countries around the world. Demographic transition, Sanderson says, “is a shift between two very different long-run states: from high death rates and high birthrates to low death rates and low birthrates.” Not only is the pattern well-documented, it’s well under way: Already, more than half the world’s population is reproducing at below the replacement rate.

    The demographic transition is real and is in progress around the world. Thus your second premise is found to be false.

    As for (3), you are right, there are no practical limits to material growth. Spiritual growth is our biggest problem as a species. In the United States in 1967 we began to turn away from growth toward your ideal of wealth redistribution. Again, how is that working out? Again, we were on a path toward developing the material wealth of our entire solar system and the mindset that you represent here turned our nation and the world away from it. If the amount of money spent on the Apollo program had continued for 30 years NONE of the issues that you are so exercised about would exist today and we would have a human civilization on Mars, the Moon, and probably in free space through O’Neil colonies.

    We don’t have a problem with limits to growth, what we have is a limited vision of the future, and that is what you represent here.

    As for technological solutions (4), no unfortunately there isn’t because the wickedness of the human heart cannot be healed with any level of technology. Yet, those of your ilk reject the concept of the higher power that provides exactly that healing. That is your deepest problem. You lack faith, you lack vision, you live in fear, and you want that fear to rule not only your life, but my life and the life off all humans on the planet. No sir, we reject your ideas as they are the ideas of death, not of life. We have an amazing opportunity to have a level of wealth for all of our 9 billion fellow citizens that is as far above the poverty level of today as today was to 10,000 years ago, when life was short, brutish, and hard.

    Mad Max or Star Trek, these are our choices and we have made ours.

    • @Dennis wingo – Ace can’t help himself he’s a victim of being part of the establishment in the Canberra government complex

  218. Climate Ace

    What are these predictions again?

    (1) That humankind will indefinitely be able to master nature
    (2) That infinite population growth is desirable. (BAUsters in Australia, BTW, belong to the Big Australia Boosters… they happily envisage an Australia which has 100 million people.
    (3) That there are NO limits to growth and never will be.
    (4) That there will ALWAYs be a technological solution to whatever.

    =======================================================================

    The terms I have put in bold font indicate simply the most obvious ways in which you are tilting against straw-windmills of your own imagination.

    One need not adopt such radically implausible terms as ‘always’ and ‘indefinitely’ and ‘infinitely’ and ‘no limits’ to think that humans are a lot more adaptable and resourceful than green extremists allow. Just for one example, I don’t know of anyone who thinks that ‘infinite’ human population growth is desirable or plausible or even possible.

    You are wailing against straw men. That is a classic argumentative failing of people who don’t exhibit a sincere quest for understanding.

  219. @Dennis wingo – Ace can’t help himself he’s a victim of being part of the establishment in the Canberra government complex

    Anthony, well then he will understand the Mad Max analogy more than most. As I am able to you can track the IP addresses of your wordpress audience, so that is interesting.

    This is on the same day that one of my dear friend’s Australian Uranium mine safety instructor Mark Sonter is making a presentation in Los Angeles about mining asteroids…….

    While I think that what Deep Space Industries wants to do is far beyond their ability to pull off, I like the vision…… If we put resources into what they want to do instead of the $700 billion dollar a year green fiasco, we would solve our planetary problems of wealth, poverty, and resource depletion.

  220. I have noticed a trend with various folks that they are claiming that “eventuallynthey will be proved correct” or they are busy trying to re-write history so as to re-cast their former statements.

    For the former–“eventually” is s vastly slippery term as “eventually” the sun will burn out and Erlich will get his massive “fish kills.” ;) For the latter…well we have the list above. :)

Comments are closed.