Population Bomb: new study discusses population impacts upon global warming emissions

The Population Bomb (Paul R. Ehrlich)

A new study in PNAS by O’Neill et al. (2010) describe “population shifts” as having a substantial influence upon greenhouse gas emissions.  From the abstract of Global demographic trends and future carbon emission:

Substantial changes in population size, age structure, and urbanization are expected in many parts of the world this century. Although such changes can affect energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, emissions scenario analyses have either left them out or treated them in a fragmentary or overly simplified manner.We carry out a comprehensive assessment of the implications of demographic change for global emissions of carbon dioxide. Using an energy–economic growth model that accounts for a range of demographic dynamics, we show that slowing population growth could provide 16–29% of the emissions reductions suggested to be necessary by 2050 to avoid dangerous climate change. We also find that aging
and urbanization can substantially influence emissions in particular world regions.

Thankfully, the authors did not make any assumptions about how reduced population growth would occur.  From the discussion:  (O’Neill et al. 2010)

Economic development is one factor that can facilitate declines in fertility and slower population growth. If it were assumed that increases in economic growth rates were driving fertility decline, our results would differ: faster economic growth would have an upward effect on emissions, offsetting the emissions reductions caused by slower population growth to some degree.

And from the final paragraph:

However, more rapid economic development is not the only factor, or a necessary one, in facilitating fertility decline.  Policies can also significantly affect fertility trends. Although the appropriateness of policies that encourage even lower fertility in countries where it is already low is debatable and would require consideration of the trade offs associated with increased aging (29), in other regions, there are several such policies already considered desirable in their own right. For example, household surveys indicate that there is a substantial unmet need for family planning and reproductive health services in many countries. Policies that meet this need would reduce current fertility by about 0.2 births per woman in the United States (30) and 0.6–0.7 births per woman in the developing world (SI Text has details of this calculation). This reduction is comparable with the 0.5 births per woman difference in fertility assumptions between the population scenarios used here. In our analysis, emissions reductions in these regions (i.e., the United States and developing country regions other than China) amount to about one-half of the total reductions that result from following a lower global population growth path, suggesting that family planning policies would have a substantial environmental cobenefit.

Note the paper is freely available online through the PNAS open access option.  Nature.com has a blog posting that’s helpful:

Aging reduces emissions as elderly people contribute less to economic growth. Urbanization has the opposite effect: The migration of people from the countryside to large cities boosts the supply of labour and so fuels economic growth and the demand for energy, the study finds.

Aging is likely to dominate future demographic development in most industrialised countries, the study concludes. But in China and India, which together account for more than one third of global population, urbanization is likely to be the key factor.

 

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101 thoughts on “Population Bomb: new study discusses population impacts upon global warming emissions

  1. I believe that policy has been largely overtaken by natural incentives. Note that many Asian countries that did not use China’s one child per family policy experienced equal or greater declines in total fertility. The two primary factors appear to be education of females and institution of a safety net for the elderly.

    Once women have a choice, they choose smaller families.

  2. Guilt makes the world go around. So many of us think we’re literally destroying the planet by merely being alive. The really troubling part is that there are too many opportunists waiting to exploit our guilty feelings.

  3. Outlaw fertility clinics and remove children as dependents on income taxes. Limit the size of a residence for welfare recipients to 2 bedrooms and less than 1000 sq ft. and limit funding to basic necessities.

  4. The U.S. is already on the verge of population decline. Our over-65 population is currently at 12% and will be nearly 25% within ten years. Encouraging a further reduction in the U.S. birthrate is insanity.

  5. Haven’t yet read the study but I wonder if they accounted for the possibility that lower economic growth and lower populations may retard technological change and, therefore, the rate of decarbonization. In turn, lower economic development might itself contribute to factors that slow the decline in fertility rates. See, e.g., “Have increases in population, affluence and technology worsened human and environmental well-being?” Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development, vol. 1, no.3 (2009), currently at http://www.ejsd.org.

  6. Actual living individuals and their dreams of families are being discussed in the third person plural by intellects who have concepts that are inimical. If that isn’t authoritarianism in the costume of science, what is?

    John

  7. Members of the Pensive Set have contemplated many ways of reducing population, as they comb the pages of the Guardian and NYT and shudder at impending everything.

    There’s the Duke of Edinburgh method of reduction, whereby a Prince Consort and patron of the WWF comes back to earth as a lethal virus. There’s the Sun of Heaven method, whereby an Asian overlord dictates the number of offspring permitted to a family. Then there’s the Latex-sans-frontieres brigade, educated types who want to persuade wired African truck drivers to use condoms when having a quickie in the ditch. There are the undevelopment theorists, who only drink Fair Trade and who send old bicycle bits to villages so they can be used to pump water and avert diesel addiction. Undevelopment theorists think Norman Borlaug and mass nutrition are the problem, not the solution. (Paul Ehrlich is their solution.)

    Then there’s the method that works, but, sadly, we can’t talk about it. Okay, I’ll whisper it. You have an expanding middle class – a bourgeoisie, no less – in a genuinely competitive and capitalistic environment. It’s terrible news for all our educated self loathers afflicted with mal-de-siecle, but the only thing that works is for all the quaint impoverished people to become like us. Shopping malls and all! What’s worse, as I’ve observed in the aboriginal communities in my own part of the world, by far the most effective catalyst for this process is…snip me, mods, if this is just too gross…

    …religious faith, preferably Christian and in close nuclear families and active congregations! (I warned you it was gross.)

  8. Tom Fuller says:
    October 12, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Once women have a choice, they choose smaller families.
    ========================================================

    Tom, surely you could take more from the study than just that? Personally, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of depth of the study, but it does reaffirm my earlier position in that rural settings use more energy (emit CO2) per capita than urban settings. Further, it seems to indicate that if the U.S. and Europe wishes to continue their economic freedom, we older people need to live it up quickly and die just as quickly. But we knew that already and I’m doing my best!

  9. I’m consistently amused, by the ONE SIZE FITS ALL solution to everything that’s wrong – less peoples.

    Despite prosperity being instrumental in reducing family sizes, rather than share the love, the green solution is to
    equalize the misery. The way its working out you’d be wise to think green is a cover colour for something much worse.

    Given the nightmare produced by the Million dollar bonus clubs in the finance world for all humanity, you’d think the solution would be smaller bonuses for the top shelf, and a smidge more aid via micro loans to the very poor.

    Lest I get labelled a communist, shill, fraternising, sympathiser, they still have to work for their income, just like everybody else – excluding Al Gore and the Million dollar bonus club boys.

    Rather than reduce the population, how about reducing the suffering?

    10:10:10

    10% more aid, 10% debt forgiven, 10% more education.

    or we could try…

    10% more infant smothering, 10% more warlords and roving rape gangs, 10% more aids/starvation/civil war.

    No pressure.

  10. Thankfully, the authors did not make any assumptions about how reduced population growth would occur.

    1010.org has already presented their instructional film on how reduced population growth might occur in a flash. A little black box with a red button and those reassuring but ominous words “Who wants to join us? Lets see a show of hands. Now, who doesn’t want to join us? Alright. No pressure.”

  11. The erroneous thrust of the study is because of the mandated, grant inciting, economy crushing bent towards CO2 reduction.

    If we were to take the CO2 reduction question out of the study, what would the conclusions be? Perhaps they would discuss food availability or resource allocation. Would the gist of the study see an aging population as a positive connotation? It used to be a key component in Standard of Living equations.

    CO2 emissions are a by-product of energy use. Energy use is a proxy for economic growth. Economic growth raises the standard of living. An increase of the standard of living increases life expectancy.

    The wheels are set in motion. There can be no turning back or stopping. To stop CO2 emissions would be a tragedy. To do it purposefully by any nation or nations would be murderous autogenocide on a scale this earth has never seen before.

  12. Fitzy says:
    October 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    “…….and a smidge more aid via micro loans to the very poor.”

    No, Fitzy, I won’t call you any of what you mentioned. I share your concern. The problem is, we’ve tried that and it didn’t work. See Freddie, Fanny Mae, and ACORN.

    I hate to say this, but I believe Ben Franklin was correct. “The best way to help the poor is to make them uncomfortable in their poverty.”

    Actually, I believe an inverse application of the thought. Make sure they are not comfortable in their poverty. The distinction is slight, but I hope the connotation is seen.

  13. Hal Lewis has a name for this type of article – climate fraud.
    ‘Human emissions’ have not caused climate change.
    Why are these people wasting their time on meaningless ’emission scenarios’?
    Why are we paying for this nonsense?
    Why did this pass peer review for publication in PNAS? So these liars can steal more money for more useless ‘research’.
    Let the Climate Reformation begin.
    Stop paying for these worthless indulgences.

    [Population is usually reduced by war, famine and disease – look at what happened to the Roman empire]

  14. The protecting the environment and impending cataclysm as some have said has replaced christianity or any other religion for that matter. Its something the human soul maybe needs, a higher calling so to speak, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with atheism or activism by itself, but if one fills their soul with garbage like the “holier then thou” green movement, well you are just as bad as the “holier then thou” christian. I hate to bring religion into it again, but I truly believe these people have adopted a new religion to fill a void in their lives.

    To me, there is nothing wrong with sensible religious discussion, if people do not want to be christians, this is a free country (the US) and they have many more to choose from, but choosing the “pop culture” religion will not fill that void, it will just make them depressed, bad scientists, etc and they will preach to us from the pulprit of “I am green, and thus am ordained to judge you”.

    To me, this is the issue that global warming itself is just a small part of, and as people still think Paul Ehlrich is visionary are the same people that need to read more religious books (or books in general and get out more) and/or find a calling. I do not care if its Budhist, Hindu, Muslim or Christianity, but if you find the need to fill your soul with something, the pop culture religion of today is not the solution.

  15. James Sexton @ 6:13pm
    Yep, you’re right, I forgot about Freddie, Fanny Mae, and ACORN.

    I was kinda aiming for developing nations, however, since the back room boys exported all US know how to comrade China – I could be convinced that America is now a third world country.

    Ben was a charmer, and he was right, nothing motivates a Man like an absence of the necessities of life.

    Unfortunately when you have nothing, can get nothing, are offered almost nothing and have the land taken out from underneath you, its hard to get ahead….thinking Somalia, big parts of the Sudan, New Orleans and parts of the Gulf of Mexico, you get my drift.

    Cheers.

  16. population is popular:

    among the authors is shonali pachauri, daughter of rajendra, whose wife is also into “population” studies:

    Jan 2010: EU Referendum: Richard North: Keeping it in the family
    Shonali is, in fact, Rajendra’s youngest (of two) daughter…
    As for the elder daughter, she is Rashmi Pachauri – and often calls herself Rashmi Pachauri-Rajan. She, like her mother, Dr Saroj Pachauri, works on population issues, the latter being regional director, South and East Asia Regional Office, Population Council, working out of New Delhi…
    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/01/keeping-it-in-family.html

    also worth noting Schneider and Ehlich in the Acknowledgements:

    PNAS: Global demographic trends and future carbon emissions
    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    …P. Ehrlich, S. Schneider, and D. Kennedy for guidance and support during
    development of the original version of the PET model. Funding was provided
    by the National Science Foundation, a European Young Investigator’s award
    (to B.C.O.) and the Hewlett Foundation. Funding was provided for early
    stages of the analysis by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/09/30/1004581107.full.pdf+html

  17. mosomoso says:
    October 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Beautifully written (sincerely) but do leave Phil alone won’t you? He is “ex officio” patron of tons of stuff and hasn’t been president of any part of WWF for over ten years.

  18. I have decided to reduce my energy consumption one beeswax candle in the evenings and a small renewable wood fire in the evenings during the winter months or whenever the cave becomes excessively cold and damp…

  19. James Sexton says:
    October 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm
    To stop CO2 emissions would be a tragedy. To do it purposefully by any nation or nations would be murderous autogenocide on a scale this earth has never seen before.

    Agreed

  20. The study is still affixed to the C02 hypothesis, which bypasses rationale and plunges headlong into trace gas emissions as the defining issue of our times. Twisted into a pretzel of circular reasoning, the air is sucked out of the balloon long before it is fully inflated.

  21. Having worked in Nuclear Power for 20 years, I can assure you that THE ABILITY TO “POWER THE WORLD” exists! If you are worried about the U235 problem, use a THORIUM CYCLE and things are peachy.

    Of course, you have to have an “educated” enough populace to run such establishments.

    I found, sadly, towards the end of my tenure in nuclear, that in the USA the “career office politicians” who run the electric utilities have an AVERSION to nuclear power BECAUSE it takes too much “intelligence” to run it.

    Surprisingly I have been dragged KICKING AND SCREAMING to the conclusion that the “nuclear option” has to come from the “top down”, as in France. With a program run from the FEDERAL LEVEL. And, (shock, horror!) the “Feds” do need to be able to essentially CRUSH the opposition. Although I think in France that hasn’t been hard to do…as the opposition in nominal, and the average French 6th form (or grader) can be put to a chalkboard (or Power Point!) and asked to outline the nuclear power process and nuclear fuel cycle, and they can do it.

    In the good old USA 6th graders can stretch a thin rubber latex device on a cucumber. Amazing!

  22. Amazing that no one noted that China will have a declining working-age population in about 10-20 years, and an overall declining population by 2040-2050. No one ever mentions this (probably because they will still have a lot of people).

  23. Fitzy says:
    October 12, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    Ben was a charmer, and he was right, nothing motivates a Man like an absence of the necessities of life.

    Unfortunately when you have nothing, can get nothing, are offered almost nothing and have the land taken out from underneath you, its hard to get ahead….thinking Somalia, big parts of the Sudan, New Orleans and parts of the Gulf of Mexico, you get my drift.

    Cheers.
    ========================================================

    Agreed, for those nations, apart from the U.S., I think the best thing to do for them is to stay out of the way, and make sure others stay out of the way. Somalia and the Sudan both have things to work out before they can be expected to have any meaningful economic activity. Sadly, I think much of the cause of their difficulties and others like them is because of the misguided influence other nations are exerting towards them.

  24. Max Hugoson says:
    October 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Having worked in Nuclear Power for 20 years, I can assure you that THE ABILITY TO “POWER THE WORLD” exists!
    ========================================================

    Yep, further, given the recent additions and future additions to the world’s nuclear club, I think it’ll be ok if we go ahead and reuse the spent rods. Sadly, with the time frame necessary to build one today, I fear we may to late to get any online before the U.S. has to do something dramatic to solve the impending electrical energy crisis. We’ve painted ourselves into a corner. We’ll come out of it fine, but it will include actions that shouldn’t have been necessary.

  25. Robert E. Phelan says:
    October 12, 2010 at 5:12 pm
    The U.S. is already on the verge of population decline. Our over-65 population is currently at 12% and will be nearly 25% within ten years. Encouraging a further reduction in the U.S. birthrate is insanity.

    The US is adding 3 million a year when it’s already in drastic ecological overshoot. How exactly is reducing its population an insanity?

    If something is an insanity, encourage further growth looks a lot more to be it.

  26. mosomoso says:
    October 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm
    Then there’s the method that works, but, sadly, we can’t talk about it. Okay, I’ll whisper it. You have an expanding middle class – a bourgeoisie, no less – in a genuinely competitive and capitalistic environment. It’s terrible news for all our educated self loathers afflicted with mal-de-siecle, but the only thing that works is for all the quaint impoverished people to become like us. Shopping malls and all! What’s worse, as I’ve observed in the aboriginal communities in my own part of the world, by far the most effective catalyst for this process is…snip me, mods, if this is just too gross…

    …religious faith, preferably Christian and in close nuclear families and active congregations! (I warned you it was gross.)

    Which is the reason why the Catholic church is opposed to all forms of birth control, and is also the reason why the fundamentalist evangelical Christians in the US tend to have a much higher fertility rate than the rest of the population. Not to mention the mormons, Amish, and the immigrants from Latin America…

    Some more information for you uneducated mind – if you are in overshoot, an expanding middle class can only bring you further into overshoot. That’s not a terribly complicate concept to understand. Since we are already deep in overshoot, while lifting the more than 5 billion poor people from misery to middle class lifestyle may prevent us from getting to 15 billion and leave us at only 9, it will also increase our ecological footprint by several fold, i.e. we’ll be much deeper into overshoot. And will collapse even sooner as a result.

    You have to be absolutely our of your mind due to being subjected by years and decades by religious or free market brainwashing (or both in your case), and/or you have to lack even the most basic scientific literacy to not see that

  27. James Sexton says:
    October 12, 2010 at 6:05 pm
    The erroneous thrust of the study is because of the mandated, grant inciting, economy crushing bent towards CO2 reduction.

    Another one who’s living on a planet different than the one I am living on. Where exactly did you see that “CO2 reduction”? Enlighten us please.

    Because last time I checked emissions were not only not being reduced but rising fast, with the only reason why they are not rising even faster being the economic crisis.

  28. Max Hugoson says:
    October 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm
    Having worked in Nuclear Power for 20 years, I can assure you that THE ABILITY TO “POWER THE WORLD” exists! If you are worried about the U235 problem, use a THORIUM CYCLE and things are peachy.

    And here we have the technofixers joining the party. Yes, thorium reactors can provide a lot of electricity. So far so good. However, there two “minor” problems with this when people jump from that fact to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

    1. You can’t prevent collapse due to ecological overshoot by providing plenty of one resource because you collapse when the resource in shortest supply becomes limiting (a well known principle known as Liebig’s Law of the Minimum that’s been around for some 150 years). While given unlimited energy, you can overcome a lot of the other limits to growth, thorium will not provide unlimited energy, so we still have face those limits.

    2. Since there isn’t a single thorium reactor that produces electricity in operation right now, there is no way thorium can make a difference on time to prevent collapse due to the collision of the BAU course of development with the realities of Peak Oil and other limits to growth which are already pressing hard on us.

  29. Lots of good comments here. Hope I can live up to them.

    By any objective measure this world is not overpopulated. Taken as a country, the world’s population density would be similar to Kazakhstan.

    There is no shortage of energy–for the developed world. We can afford to be as cute and coy about what we use as super finicky restaurant goers picking at California cuisine.

    The rest of the world cannot be so picky. They may jump on the CO2 bandwagon when it looks like money’s available, but ask them to choose between CO2 and reliable electricity–and start coughing.

    The world’s population will peak at about 9.1 billion around 2075, give or take a couple of years. Given current rates of consumption and development, those 9.1 billion may require about 6 times as much energy as we use today.

    The urbanization of the world’s population is a trend already in full swing, and we can measure important things by watching what has happened over the past half century.

    Cities as a whole use less energy than urban areas, especially in developed countries. New York has what–3% of the U.S. population, but uses only 1% of its energy. But developing countries have to work to reach that plateau, going through the stages of construction, adequate infrastructure development, too many people to a room, adoption of appliances and motor vehicles, etc. They won’t have New York’s energy profile any time soon.

    But they’re moving to the city because the farm they left behind does not have electricity at all, and they’re tired of burning kerosene for light and cow dung for heat. So, yes, they’re going to use more energy and more power to them.

    As for demographic trends overall, about 46 countries, including China, start to decline in population about mid-century. Most of them are in Europe. America continues to grow at least until 2050, maybe longer depending on decisions we make about immigration.

    Total fertility continues to fall, including in the developing world. That ship has sailed big time, and the population boom is over–we’re just dealing with the pig going through the python now.

    The pill. Female education. Security in old age. Trust in better healthcare systems. A lot of factors are involved in this, and I sure don’t know which is most important.

    But the population in 2100 is going to be smaller than the one in 2075, just from natural trends. And they are going to be laughing at us and our little worries… after they get over the shock of learning that we ate meat…

  30. The simple answer to population growth is wealth. Once countries get wealthy, their rate of population growth declines, often going negative. But the prospect that billions of people might get rich and enjoy themselves, or (heaven forbid) that poor people might become wealthier than themselves, is too much for puritanical lefties to bear.

    The answer to environmental problems (such as pollution) is also wealth. Once countries industrialise, they clean themselves up. The answer to natural disasters is also wealth (my city had a magnitude 7.1 earthquake last month, no deaths). You may begin to see a pattern here.

    The surest way to wealth in the modern world is capitalism, free markets and globalisation. But we couldn’t have that, could we.

    And the way to sustain wealth is not to reduce populations. Many rich countries or cities have shrinking populations that are not replacing themselves, and are dependent on immigrants and/or guest workers to maintain the labour force (and look after the aged). Singapore is an example well known to me. China itself is reliant on mass exodus of its population from the countryside to the cities. I suggest that these flows of migrants will not easily be sustained indefinitely, therefore successful future cities and states will be those that are able to at least replace their own populations.

    There’s more than enough room and resources for everybody. Don’t worry, be happy. And do what you can to help others get wealthy, as this is good for them and for the planet. Environmentalism is anti-life. Ignore it.

    All the best.

  31. Tom Fuller says:
    October 12, 2010 at 9:13 pm
    Lots of good comments here. Hope I can live up to them.

    By any objective measure this world is not overpopulated. Taken as a country, the world’s population density would be similar to Kazakhstan

    Well, you get an F in basic ecological literacy at the second sentence.

    Population density tell you absolutely nothing. If we could move the whole population of the Earth to Neptune, there would be about 1 person per km2 there. And, assuming the were properly clothed so they don’t freeze immediately, they would die of starvation and dehydration very soon after.

    What matters is the availability of resources necessary for sustaining a given population. And all of them, particularly the ones in shortest supply, not just some resource that’s particularly abundant that you cherry-picked. Moreover, it is not just the ability to sustain the population in the short term that has to be looked at, but the long-term carrying capacity – you can sustain a very large population for a short time by eating up your ecological capital, clearly not a desirable situation. By those criteria, the world has been deeply in overshoot for a while.

    As I said, you fail the basic ecological literacy test, and you fail it as miserably as a Young Earth creationist would fail a geology test in college, i.e. you basically deny the very existence and relevance to the real world of the discipline…

  32. Paul Deacon, Christchurch, New Zealand says:
    October 12, 2010 at 9:31 pm
    The simple answer to population growth is wealth. Once countries get wealthy, their rate of population growth declines, often going negative.

    Here we go again, another one who can’t work with single digit integers.

    Here’s a simple math question for you.

    If we:

    1) have overshot the carrying capacity of the planet by some 30 to 40% (and rising)
    2) are going to go from 7 billion to 9-10 billion in the next 40 years
    3) are going to increase the per capita footprint of some 8 billion of those 10 billion by an order of maginute

    Then by how much will we have overshot the carrying capacity of the planet in 40 years time?

    Additional bonus question for the students who managed to at least get a D on the test so that they may make that D a C:

    If the question above was asked without any consideration of the effects of Peak Oil, Peak Natural Gas, Peak Uranium, Peak Phosphorus, and Peak Fossil Water occurring in the same period, how does the answer change when those are accounted for?

  33. GM, sigh. Look at the people who define carrying capacity. Tell me that some of them are sane. I’ve seen no evidence of that to date.

    Tell me just what resources we are running short of in the next 40 years? Maybe we could get a Julian Simon/Paul Ehrlich type of bet going.

    When you get to define carrying capacity using the time-tested work of people like Paul Ehrlich and stuff like that, you can justify, as I’m sure you would, a carrying capacity of about 11 people. As long as it includes you.

  34. “Some more information for you uneducated mind…”
    Me not uneducated mind. Me see Hockeystick and know straight away no good. Read Icelandic Sagas you educated mind.

    “That’s not a terribly complicate concept to understand…”
    Overshoot with bigger middle class make more overshoot…maybe less people but more overshoot because several fold footprint. Big footprint much worse than many poor people, so never win. That terribly complicate!

    “You have to be absolutely our of your mind due to being subjected by years and decades by religious or free market brainwashing (or both in your case), and/or you have to lack even the most basic scientific literacy to not see that”
    Yet I’m not so out of my mind as to see the world and the life within it reduced to a bunch of facile equations and simplistic extrapolations.

    You’ve probably got a good mind, GM. You probably are, as you imply, my mental superior by a long way. Yet it’s all going to waste. Stop loathing yourself, and you’ll develop the capacity to think.

  35. GM says:
    October 12, 2010 at 8:30 pm
    Oh yes, I love debating with demographic illiterates. Most of the increase you are citing is from immigration. As job opportunities shift to other places, like Mexico or China, so to will the population shift. The U.S. is on the cusp of a population change that will reduce us to third world status.
    drastic ecological overshoot get a grip man, we are about to join Japan , Russia, and Western Europe in a population crisis. The economies that can afford larger populations are shrinking. The expanding populations will dominate the world.

  36. Tom Fuller says:
    October 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm
    GM, sigh. Look at the people who define carrying capacity. Tell me that some of them are sane. I’ve seen no evidence of that to date

    Well, those people are geologists, physicists, engineers, biologists, agricultural scientists, ecologists, and other experts in various scientific fields. Actually Ehrlich is pretty much irrelevant to the discussion, if he never existed, those conclusions would have still been reached by others, in fact they were before him (check the Hubbert papers from the late 40s and early 50s). In the same time, people on the other side are almost exclusively economists. Given the “spectacular” track records of economists in their own bubble-world fields, what exactly makes them qualified to speak on scientific issues regarding the physical world?

    Tell me just what resources we are running short of in the next 40 years?

    Oil, gas, coal, uranium, phosphorus, water, soil, fish, a laundry list of minerals. Plus, we have already run out of waste sinks.

  37. mosomoso said
    “That’s not a terribly complicate concept to understand…”
    Overshoot with bigger middle class make more overshoot…maybe less people but more overshoot because several fold footprint. Big footprint much worse than many poor people, so never win. That terribly complicate!

    Given the incoherent babbling you manage to type above, it apparently is indeed terribly complicated for you, because it doesn’t even reproduce the meaning of what I said, let a lone reveal any actual understanding of it.

  38. “Mike Davis says:
    October 12, 2010 at 5:08 pm”

    There was couple, in Tasmanina, Australia if memory serves, who had 16 children (Possibly more now as it was a few years ago), ALL on welfare. The woman believed she was serving Australia proud.

  39. GM says:
    October 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Well, you get an F in basic ecological literacy at the second sentence.

    Population density tell you absolutely nothing. If we could move the whole population of the Earth to Neptune, there would be about 1 person per km2 there. And, assuming the were properly clothed so they don’t freeze immediately, they would die of starvation and dehydration very soon after.

    Actually, I would love to see anyone breathe in liquid helium/other nasty stuff and survive long enough to die of starvation and dehydration, but that is besides the point. I am just pointing out how you question someone’s science and then get something so fundamentally wrong there.

    Here we go with the sustainability argument. Here is what will happen. When we reach the “tipping” point, poor people will die until there is enough food for everyone else. Some people who have not been outside of a city will resort to cannibalism while those of us who live in reality will go to the rural areas and work for a farmer if thats what it takes to survive. Then we reach equilibrium…where some people die, some people don’t breed, and others have herds of cattle at eight head a pop. Who knows? Is your solution to letting people in third world countries continue to live in misery and die off better then the harsh realities of our planet’s solution? Its up to you to prove it. I tend to like reality better then fantasy…And I think the best solution is to invest in industrializing the entire world so they can enjoy the same quality of life as we do. If we reach the maximum point as you say we will, then we let reality dictate to us what it will. Until then, I would rather everyone on our planet had the best life possible without interfering with other people’s lives.

    Since you need this reminder, here I go; The Earth is a planet. It does not talk to us, it does not care whether we live or die, and it sure as hell does not have a magical number painted on its ass that tells every species what limit of them can exist on the planet.

  40. “Population density tell you absolutely nothing. If we could move the whole population of the Earth to Neptune, there would be about 1 person per km2 there. And, assuming the were properly clothed so they don’t freeze immediately, they would die of starvation and dehydration very soon after.”

    Sometimes it’s best not to comment. Sometimes you let a masterpiece stand by itself, without criticism or elaboration.

  41. GM wrote: “Oil, gas, coal, uranium, phosphorus, water, soil, fish, a laundry list of minerals.”

    “Gas” as in natural gas? You’re really ignorant if you think we’ll run out of that in 40 years.

  42. I was under the impression that the whole reason behind AGW was the population and resource scarcity issue. The Erhlichs, Kissingers and Rockerfellors brigade have simply hijacked a genuine conservation movement and created things called “Greenies”.

  43. mosomoso says:
    October 13, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Sometimes it’s best not to comment. Sometimes you let a masterpiece stand by itself, without criticism or elaboration.

    Curiously, that’s also what people do when they simply have nothing of meaning to say

  44. Espen says:
    October 13, 2010 at 12:48 am
    GM wrote: “Oil, gas, coal, uranium, phosphorus, water, soil, fish, a laundry list of minerals.”

    “Gas” as in natural gas? You’re really ignorant if you think we’ll run out of that in 40 years.

    1. What is the meaning of “we”? I have the suspicion that we don’t apply the same meaning to the word
    2. Yes, we aren’t going to “run out” as in not having any of it. That’s not the point, the point is there won’t be enough to meet demand. Unfortunately, demand for energy tends to be quite inelastic, and that coupled with the nice socio-political system we have set up that requires perpetual growth in order to sustain itself, means that at some point the shortage becomes big enough to trigger collapse.
    3. I happen to have seen depletion profiles for gas wells and gas fields, and I happen to have seen the proven reserves figures for all the major producers. Have you seen those?

  45. Ben D. says:
    October 12, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Actually, I would love to see anyone breathe in liquid helium/other nasty stuff and survive long enough to die of starvation and dehydration, but that is besides the point. I am just pointing out how you question someone’s science and then get something so fundamentally wrong there.

    Let’s say that I am familiar with the conditions on Neptune. That was part of the point I was making. And I am not questioning nobody’s science, the people here are questioning legitimate science, while I am trying to fix the damage ideologically-influenced pseudoscience has afflicted to their brains. Not very successfully so far, but I will keep trying

    Here we go with the sustainability argument. Here is what will happen. When we reach the “tipping” point, poor people will die until there is enough food for everyone else. Some people who have not been outside of a city will resort to cannibalism while those of us who live in reality will go to the rural areas and work for a farmer if thats what it takes to survive. Then we reach equilibrium…where some people die, some people don’t breed, and others have herds of cattle at eight head a pop. Who knows? Is your solution to letting people in third world countries continue to live in misery and die off better then the harsh realities of our planet’s solution? Its up to you to prove it. I tend to like reality better then fantasy…And I think the best solution is to invest in industrializing the entire world so they can enjoy the same quality of life as we do. If we reach the maximum point as you say we will, then we let reality dictate to us what it will. Until then, I would rather everyone on our planet had the best life possible without interfering with other people’s lives.

    Several basic things that are terribly wrong with this.

    1. You are assuming that poor people will just roll up and die outside of your view. That’s not what has happened historically, and a lot of those poor people are in countries that are sufficiently well armed to cause a lot of trouble.

    2. You are assuming that if all the poor people just died, there would be enough for the rich. That’s not the case either, currently there are way more rich people on this planet than it can support, and their lifestyle is primarily supported by carrying capacity imported from poor countries anyway. That’s a very big problem.

    3. (Here is where your ignorance of basic ecology hurts you the most). When populations go in overshoot, what happens is that carrying capacity is destroyed, sometimes quite drastically if the overshoot is very deep. In a way, that’s the definition of overshoot. In our case it means that after we’re done with our overshoot orgy, the planet will support a much lower number of people. As I said, if there are already a lot more “rich people” than the planet can support, that mismatch will only grow bigger as we progress further into overshoot and destroy more and more carrying capacity. It’s not terribly complicated. And on top of that, there is a non-zero probability that people’s refusal to die will take a truly desperate and violent form and we will destroy all of the carrying capacity.

    Since you need this reminder, here I go; The Earth is a planet. It does not talk to us, it does not care whether we live or die, and it sure as hell does not have a magical number painted on its ass that tells every species what limit of them can exist on the planet.

    That’s correct. Which is why species have gone into overshoot and paid the cost repeatedly. We, however, are supposed to be smarter than that, aren’t we? And it is much different for us, because, as I have said many times before, first, we are for the first time in the history of the planet capable of destroying the whole thing, and second, if this civilization fails, there won’t be another because all the concentrated resources will have been dissipated.

  46. The ever discredited malthusian ideas repackaged in new eco fascist garments. They have never been right before, and they are equally wrong now.

  47. “GM says:
    October 13, 2010 at 2:56 am”

    Well, if you believe that “we” are a drag on the planet (Whatever the planet is “doing”), AND we are running out of stuff (Like that was supposed to happen in the 1970’s…ok too short a timespan to tell I agree) then please be the first to remove yourself from the nasty consumption stream. The Greens in Australia support it!

    Goodbye and thanks for the fish!

  48. I suppose this is the end of all hope for a Neptune settlement. After GM’s bad rap, people will even prefer Melbourne weather!

    But seriously, I can see how the worst could happen. Green burning and water policies, de-industrialisation, organic and localist agriculture, socialist government, controls and taxes everywhere, clunky and expensive energy supply, lots of economic planning by a few fat commissars in their comfy dachas. Yep, the worst could happen.

    The New Green Man at Year Zero, in a society run by lots of little finger-wagging GM’s. Can’t you just hear him haranguing the crowds, threatening all suspected bourgeois overshooters with re-education camp? “You uneducated mind terribly complicate! I trying to fix the damage ideologically-influenced pseudoscience has afflicted to you brains!”

  49. GM has the situation well analyzed. Those of you who disagree with him should ask yourselves where you will get your food from when the next “oil embargo” occurs and all the gas stations have been closed for 10 days? When oil depletes, those Third World types, struggling to scratch out a crop now, will be the ones already adapted and will continue to survive. We “rich people” who don’t produce our own food will starve.

    Nuclear power & other alternatives may be able to produce enough kWs, but there is no practical way currently (no pun intended) to harness electricity to supply our automotive needs. Your family car may easily be taken out of service for 6 hrs to “fill up,” but how do you change the huge bank of battteries needed to run a farm combine a mile or so from the nearest road out in a field, when that machine needs to be run for 96 straight hours to get the crop harvested in time?

  50. Shub Niggurath says:
    October 13, 2010 at 4:11 am
    GM,
    What is peak fossil water?

    While water is of course a renewable resource, and fresh water is renewable too, you can pump out aquifers at a much higher rate than the recharge rate and if you do that, they become an essentially non-renewable resource. Which is the situation in many of the most important agricultural regions in the world.


    http://www.wrsc.org/category/wordpress-category/global-issues/aquifer-depletion

  51. This is total insanity. The TFR for the world has plunged from over 5.0 in 1970 to 2.6 per female in 2005. All we have to do is look around. Even in Mexico and South America birth rates are regressing at record levels. In Asia, it is no better. Thailand had a TFR of almost 6.0 in 1980; it is below 2.0 now. Nations like Russia, China, Italy, Japan, Greece, and Spain have TFRs that barely register (China’s is about 1.3, Russia and Japan’s is about 1.1). Only some regions of Africa (Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Niger) have anything resembling healthy TFRs. In the many Muslim nations it is no better. Subtract Yeman and Afghanistan, and one sees plunging TFRs in Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria. With each passing year, these nations are producing less and less offspring. At the current rate, the world will pass the TFR rate of 2.1 in the next 7-10 years.

    We won’t see this in the raw population numbers for perhaps another decade. But the median age of the world’s population will begin to climb steadily. Europe and North America, two areas that traditionally depend upon immigration to backfill its populations will begin to see thier source of immigrants dry up (North Africa for Europe; Mexio and Central America for the US), as these nations will have a dearth of young people in coming years.

    What is amazing is that these numbers were available to the IPCC when they published AR4 in 2007. Thier climate projections based up population growth and its attendent GHG emissions do not take the rapidly aging world populations. By 2090, the population of the world will be in free-fall if current trends continue. But the economic ramifications will occur much sooner. The elderly do not produce or consume as much as the younger. Demand for world resources will begin to drop probably in the next decade. Perhaps sooner.

    The Alarmists in a way will get what they want. But, they should be careful for what they wish for. Those nations with the most generous entitlements are also the nations with the smallest birthrates. In less than 2 decades, the world’s wealthiest nations will also be the world’s oldest nations. And as they consume more and more of thier aggregate wealth through redistrubtion from young to old, the young will simply leave. And who will care for the eldery? It certainly won’t be thier children, for they have few.

  52. GM:

    At October 13, 2010 at 2:56 am you make the silly assertions;

    “if this civilization fails, there won’t be another because all the concentrated resources will have been dissipated.”

    Firstly, if by “fails” you mean “ends” then such failure is inevitable given sufficient time (e.g. the Earth will be scorched by the Sun eventually). But there is no indication of any kind that “this civilization” has discernible possibility of failure in the foreseeable future (excepting global thermonuclear war) .

    Your assertion that “all the concentrated resources will have been dissipated” displays a mistaken view of human existence. The clear mistake is that you are considering humans on the Earth to be like microbes in a Petri dish: the microbes die when they consume their resources.

    But humans have never exhausted any resource and we never will. We did not run out of flint, antler bone, bronze, iron, etc. And we will not run out of anything else.

    When a resource becomes scarce its value increases and, therefore, humans look for alternatives. And the alternatives often prove to have advantages.

    Pessimists see a glass and say it is half empty.
    Optimists say it is half full.
    Economists say it is wastefully large.
    Engineers say it has great potential.

    The Earth has great potential that human ingenuity utilises. There is no sign that human ingenuity has reduced.

    This ingenuity is why every bet that depletion of a resource will increase its value has always failed. And it is why any such future bets will fail.

    When a resource becomes “depleted” humans find another source of the resource or an alternative to the resource.

    So, in summation, for all practical purposes, the resources available to humans are infinite.

    Richard

  53. But humans have never exhausted any resource and we never will.

    Let’s see, what do we have in history. Easter island. Check. Roman Empire. Check. Anasazi. Check. Ancient Mesopotamia. Check. Mayans. Check. The list goes on and on.

    So a brief look at history shows that not only humans have ran out of resources, but their civilizations have often collapsed because of that.

    I have no idea where you get you wishful thinking from…

  54. JP says:
    October 13, 2010 at 4:49 am
    This is total insanity. The TFR for the world has plunged from over 5.0 in 1970 to 2.6 per female in 2005.

    A total insanity is to claim that there is no problem with population growth if we’re going to go from 7 billion to just 9-10 billion when we have to be at under 100 million

  55. GM, but those are not the resources being referred to, and I think you know it.

    I’ve known Malthusian, Luddite pessimists in my time, but you take the cake.

    And, 100 million?? You first. Show us you’re sincere.

  56. GM:

    Please provide some evideence for your assertions of civilisations that failed from resource depletion. I know that one of those you cite (i.e. Easter Island) has often wrongly been cited as such an example by misanthropes, and until you provide some evidence I shall assume your other assertions are equally wrong.

    More importantly, instead of providing your distraction, why did you not merely agree the fact that for all practical purposes resources can be considered to be infinite?

    Richard

  57. GM says:
    1. What is the meaning of “we”? I have the suspicion that we don’t apply the same meaning to the word
    We the humans. We the Norwegians might run out of gas in our offshore gas fields within the next 40 years, but that’s not the point.

    2. Yes, we aren’t going to “run out” as in not having any of it. That’s not the point, the point is there won’t be enough to meet demand.

    Yes, there will be enough for MUCH longer than 40 years, new enormous gas reserves are reported almost every day. I’ve seen even Peak Oil scaremongers report 70 years, so I think you might have set a world record in pessimism here.

    Why don’t you boring Malthusians simply disconnect from the Internet and move together into a cave somewhere in the wilderness where you can live out your fantasies, practicing celibacy and live as collectors and hunters? We’re SO bored of your pessimism!

  58. GM is one of the many technology illiterate folks around these days. They cannot foresee technological advancement … period. They then proceed to look at the world through a blindfold of technological stagnation. It must be terrible to be so short-sighted.

    The truth is if you go back 50 or 100 years and keep everything constant we would have a disaster on our hands today. We would not be able to feed the world’s current population and many other resources used then would be scarce. However, that did not happen … why? … because of technology. I believe the human species will continue to solve problems with technology just as it always has. GM will continue to ignore logic and history and tell us how stupid we all are.

    What a clown.

  59. Max Hugoson says:
    October 12, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    In the good old USA 6th graders can stretch a thin rubber latex device on a cucumber. Amazing!

    Here in Oz, my son tells me they use a broom-handle. I hope that does not reflect on the Aussie ‘stature’ as such, but merely the lack of available funds for said cucumbers!

    He got a nice box of coloured & flavoured ones for his 16th birthday. Oddly enough that caused his peers’ parents to label me as irresponsible. I’d say the opposite, but heigh, ho.

  60. “Using an energy–economic growth model that accounts for a range of demographic dynamics, we show…..”

    If they put me in charge of the population reduction programme, those who revere “models” will be going to the head of the list.

  61. GM,
    Do the math. Both the UN and CIA Factbook have been recording an alarming drop in fertility rates for over 3 decades. If trends continue the world will see the TFR go below replacement levels before 2020. Once it goes below 2.1, the world population growth will reach a point 0 growth. By 2030, the TFR will fall below 1.8 if trends continue. Your fixation with population numbers and not growth trends clouds your thinking. Since overall life expectancy has gone up, the actual population will grow, but the median age of our population will steadily increase. With fewer and fewer children in each successive generation, the world’s population will age significantly. And once the current generations die off, the world’s populations will begin to fall rather quickly. Plunge is a better word.

  62. GM says:
    October 13, 2010 at 2:38 am

    mosomoso says:
    October 13, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Sometimes it’s best not to comment. Sometimes you let a masterpiece stand by itself, without criticism or elaboration.

    Curiously, that’s also what people do when they simply have nothing of meaning to say

    Actually, I think they just keep on blabbing meaninglessly…..

  63. “…Let’s see, what do we have in history. Easter island. Check. Roman Empire. Check. Anasazi. Check. Ancient Mesopotamia. Check. Mayans. Check. The list goes on and on…”

    Rome didn’t fall due to a lack of resources; niether did Ancient Mesopotamia.

  64. Simple solution, forbid the US, Canada, and Western Europe from using fossil fuels to export food to the rest of the world. Third world population, the only segment rapidly expanding, would start decreasing rapidly. Read an article a week or two ago about the impending death spiral of the populations of Japan, West Europe, and yes, even China. By 2050 these countries will have serious shortages of productive citizens in relation to the aged. The US is breaking even basically due to Latin American families still having more than the requisite 2.1 kids. White and Black America are both teterring on the brink.

    The US also has a huge advantage in that LOTS of people want to relocate here and continue to build the population base.

  65. Richard M said:

    GM is one of the many technology illiterate folks around these days. They cannot foresee technological advancement … period. They then proceed to look at the world through a blindfold of technological stagnation. It must be terrible to be so short-sighted.

    The truth is if you go back 50 or 100 years and keep everything constant we would have a disaster on our hands today. We would not be able to feed the world’s current population and many other resources used then would be scarce. However, that did not happen … why? … because of technology. I believe the human species will continue to solve problems with technology just as it always has. GM will continue to ignore logic and history and tell us how stupid we all are.

    What a clown.

    Clowns are those who think that supraexponential growth is possible for an indefinite amount of time in a finite system. Those people have skipped math, physics and all other science in school.

    The funniest thing in the whole discussion is the accusation thrown by people who rarely have much to do with scientific and technical fields (most of them are economists) that the scientists and engineers who try to explain to them some really simple truths about the way the world works are illiterate and anti-technology…

  66. Easter Island? Not exactly a comp for the 21st Century globalized world. My history on the Roman Empire may be a bit rusty, but I recall a lot of that had to do with incompetent and treacherous leadership, military overexpansion (and relying on mercinaries, foreigners), an nasty Germanic folk with big a** axes to grind (into Roman skulls). Don’t recall famine playing any part in the fall.

  67. JP says:
    October 13, 2010 at 7:39 am
    GM,
    Do the math. Both the UN and CIA Factbook have been recording an alarming drop in fertility rates for over 3 decades. If trends continue the world will see the TFR go below replacement levels before 2020. Once it goes below 2.1, the world population growth will reach a point 0 growth. By 2030, the TFR will fall below 1.8 if trends continue. Your fixation with population numbers and not growth trends clouds your thinking. Since overall life expectancy has gone up, the actual population will grow, but the median age of our population will steadily increase. With fewer and fewer children in each successive generation, the world’s population will age significantly. And once the current generations die off, the world’s populations will begin to fall rather quickly. Plunge is a better word.

    Another very aggravating thing is the tendency of some people to repeat the same old BS after you have repeatedly shredded it to pieces. The ironic things here is that the projections for peak population of 9 billion will probably turn out correct. However, for completely different reasons. Setting aside the hypothesis that the demographic transition actually reverses after some level of material well being, the whole conjecture that the world population will stop growing is based on the assumption that the demographic transition will be completed everywhere in the developing world. Which is in turn contingent upon developing and third world countries developing to Western lifestyles. If that development doesn’t happen, fertility rates will remain high there (we will set aside the religion factor too, which will prevent the demographic transition from happening in a number of places even if they were to become rich) because those places will remain mired in poverty and illiteracy. The “small” detail that’s left out of the projections is the fact that it is an biophysical impossibility for the rest of the world to join the party the West has been having for the last 150 years because the resources for that do not exist. So there will be no demographic transition and no global reduction of global fertility rates to below replacement levels. What there will be a lot of though, is an increase in the death rates, and a serious die off as the century unfolds (precisely the thing that the people that are usually called “eco-fascists” round here are trying to prevent). So we will probably indeed end up getting to 9-10 billions, but then there will be a rapid shrinking to much much less, possibly zero if the nukes end up being used.

    That’s not even what had in mind when I mentioned people refusing to understand what you repeatedly explain to them in great detail. When I said that I meant the fact that the whole discussion about the demographic transition is completely irrelevant because even if we were to remove the whole of the Third World from the face of the planet, what’s left will still be in deep overshoot when Peak Oil hits. The average American has an ecological footprint more than 30 times larger than that of the average person in Sub-Saharan Africa, after all.

  68. GM says:
    October 13, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Clowns are those who think that supraexponential growth is possible for an indefinite amount of time in a finite system. Those people have skipped math, physics and all other science in school.

    The funniest thing in the whole discussion is the accusation thrown by people who rarely have much to do with scientific and technical fields (most of them are economists) that the scientists and engineers who try to explain to them some really simple truths about the way the world works are illiterate and anti-technology…

    GM fails to mention that the “supraexponential growth” is slowing and while it has been occurring, wonders of wonders, the human race survived it just fine. Another example of GM not understanding history. Simply put, this a very poor attempt to respond by GM. I would expect nothing else from a clown. Once again GM ignores innovation and history.

    Oh yeah, did I forget to mention my major was math and my minor was physics. They used to teach critical thinking when I went to school, but I’d guess GM is young and got through school by memorization. Clearly s/he lacks critical thinking skills.

  69. This is the crux of GM’s argument:

    “The “small” detail that’s left out of the projections is the fact that it is an biophysical impossibility for the rest of the world to join the party the West has been having for the last 150 years because the resources for that do not exist.”

    This clearly shows the lack of critical thinking. Exactly why would the “resources” not exist? What will be critical resources in the future?

    Of course, GM does not know and so blindly assumes they will not exist even though they have existed throughout history. Not only that, but s/he parades around here spouting off this lack of critical thinking like it was a badge. What a clown.

  70. The primary problem in sub-Sahara Africa is not population, food or natural resources, it is irresponsible and corrupt government and an almost total lack of law enforcement. Or even the presence of a legal code. Then add on petty tribal fueds that go back centuries. Most of these countries (generally speaking) have plenty of water, ariable land, and in some cases massive natural resources: oil, uranium, diamonds, gold, lumber. Not to mention a huge potential tourist economy. If sub Sahara Africa could get a solid infrastructure and something resembling a stable and responsible government those nations could thrive. It’s happened in Latin America, India, China (which only 100 years ago was a complete shambles), it can happen there.

  71. GM:

    You continue to ignore all corrections to your errors and to blather additional ones.

    For example, at October 13, 2010 at 8:10 am you assert;
    “what’s left will still be in deep overshoot when Peak Oil hits. ”

    Peak Oil will never “hit”. In the extremely improbable event that we run short of natural crude then we will make syncrude from coal, natural gas and tar sands.

    There is sufficient coal for it alone to supply need for the next 300 years. Nobody can know what will be needed as energy supply then. 300 years ago the main fuel requirement was hay for horses. According to your logic 300 years ago we should have stopped development so we did not run out of hay. Such a stop would have prevented the present need for oil but would have continued poverty, diseases and pollution which have been severely reduced and in some cases eliminated.

    Please read the several posts from people providing a variety of explanations why your assertions are plain daft.

    Richard

  72. (Sarc On) New evidence found in Rock Hyrax urine indicates that people were happier during the Stone Age when there were a whole lot less people on the planet. See related link at –
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/13/new-in-paleoclimatology-pseudo-rodent-piss-as-climate-proxy/
    Likewise, data from supercomputer analyses indicate that the MAX CAP of the Earth is 1Billion people and that immediate steps MUST be taken to reduce the present population to that number. See supercomputer link at –
    http://www.wired.com/wired/st_formula.html
    Law and Order in civilized countries has been found to cause population to expand to its enormous levels seen today. Henseforth, all Laws and all Orders are hereby declared defunct, null, and void, and for the next 10 years everyone over the age of 6 MUST carry a deadly weapon and take no lip off anyone their own age or older. (Sarc Off)

    The solution is simple and doesn’t cost much at all.

    PS: Another way would be to divide the current land mass of the earth in square miles (including Antarctica and Greenland of course) by 1Billion and based on the current area of each country calculate the MAX CAP of each country. Simple! Painless! Inexpensive! Fixes Responsibility! ETC.

  73. Richard M says:
    October 13, 2010 at 8:30 am

    GM fails to mention that the “supraexponential growth” is slowing and while it has been occurring, wonders of wonders, the human race survived it just fine.

    Because of course it is only the P part in PAT I am talking about…. Oh, wait, in order to understand this you need to have an actual education…

    Oh yeah, did I forget to mention my major was math and my minor was physics.

    What the paper whatever institution you went to says and what knowledge you actually acquired are two very different things.

  74. Richard S Courtney says:
    October 13, 2010 at 8:56 am
    GM:

    Peak Oil will never “hit”.

    It has already hit most of the world, the US being the most famous example. So apparently you have no clue what you’re talking about

    In the extremely improbable event that we run short of natural crude then we will make syncrude from coal, natural gas and tar sands.

    Another totally moronic comment. When someone makes tens of millions of barrels of oil a day from coal, natural gas and tar sands, call me back. And the EROEI of all of those things is in the single digits. But EROEI is another concept too complicated for the brains of the mentally retarded posters here to grasp

  75. GM, the Germans produced millions of barrells of fuel from coal in 1944-1945. I’m pretty sure where there is a will (and cash) there is a way in 2010. German logistics were terrible and methods exremely crude compared to today. When oil becomes scarce/overpriced I guarantee you coal based and other synthetic fuels WILL be produced in quantities to meet US needs barring government diktats forbidding it. The technology is here, it will just get more efficient and cheaper over time, just like every other technological innovation. Not to mention new reserves are being found, and are much easier to find, due to… technological advances. We just need to get the politics out of oil and drilling and come up with a sustainable and logical plan. Oil drilling isn’t exaclty the same as mountain top removal, although the Mean Greenies would love to have you think that.

  76. When someone makes it possible for me to carry view 100 hours of porn on a device that fits in my shirt pocket, or get 700hp out of 2.5L stock engine, or share GPS coded vacation pictures on a magic box with billions of other people, or build a telescope that can see back in time 14 billion years… you let me know.
    ——-
    When someone makes tens of millions of barrels of oil a day from coal, natural gas and tar sands, call me back.

  77. There are lots of things we can use to power vehicles, and the US has enough petroleum for other needs for hundreds of years. The reason we use oil like we do is because there is so much of it making it the cheapest alternative. Economic models do not fit in with “population bomb” theories because economics says the opposite. If we do run into peak oil, which we could argue all day that it has happened twice in the US, once in Russia, and various other countries at one point or another.

    1970’s US: US domestic production reached its “peak” status. Prices went up, vehicles started becoming more effiient, the US became an importer of oil.
    Mid 2000’s US: prices sky-rocketed and this has the indication that we did reach peak oil, but look at what happened….

    What was the effect of this? In the 1970’s we suffered and changed numerous things including effiency on automobiles which until that time oil was no longer an issue. Russia in the 1980’s is a mystery since it was a planned economy and its really hard to tell what they really did to change things. US in the mid 2000’s is a classic example of people changing society for themselves. When gas hit 4.50 a gallon, this motivated people to change their driving habbits, some moving into the city (maybe starting the housing bubble crisis), some using mass transit, etc.

    But in every instance of peak anything, society deals with it by changing its ways. There is no catastrophe, and the purveyers of peak anything miss the point that society always finds a solution that takes the missing quantity out of the picture and finds something else to use. Other civilizations did not die due to scarcity of resources, in fact that theory in itself demands proof since I think most people would disagree that especially the Roman empire died due to scarce anything. Rome got sacked, and usually if a city is dying by itself with no resources, you don’t sack it….

    Lets set your fear aside for a moment and assume that we can no longer import oil……

    It takes a minor adjustment in normal cars ($500 according the mechanic I asked this question of about a year ago.), and normally no changes for diesel engines. we would run our society on corn, and we would simply turn currently fallow fields into production. This would require mass shifts in society and we would tend to see for the first few years people moving from the cities to the rural areas to put more fields into operation, an increase in coal, nuclear and other power plants, and more then anything, giant aquifer projects using desalinated water to keep water out of the equation. As for econological effects? Yes the environment may be harmed by this, but if it comes to it we can also open up domestic fields that have also been fallow for awhile for oil. It will be more expensive and very energy intensive, but our country does have the education and engineering expertise to survive this without much of a hiccup.

    Some facts about the US from the latest census: Our current death rate is higher then our birth rate. Our population is heading downwards except for immigration. Our population is scheduled to plateau from 10-40 years depending on immigration policies.

    Other trivia:
    The US is one of the only countries in the world that has land that altogether takes more carbon out of the atmosphere then we send into it. Not that I think it matters for the discussion on global warming, but I see this repeated very few times.

    The US is using less land for farming then we did 100 years ago. Our yield has increased so much its not economical to use as much land for farming as we used to. Hence our fallow fields….

    Anything else I can add, feel free to ask.

  78. Thanks for dazzling us with your brilliance , GM . We benighted ones stand in awe and agape at the depth of your knowledge . Or at least I did until you called Richard Courtney a moron . You might have just gotten in over your esteemed head .

  79. GM beclowns himself:

    “Clowns are those who think that supraexponential growth is possible for an indefinite amount of time in a finite system. Those people have skipped math, physics and all other science in school.”

    What is “supraexponential” growth? Is it scarier than regular exponential growth? Either growth is linear or exponential. No doubt GM “skipped math, physics and all other science in school.”

    Being a Malthusian worry-wart ignores both history and trends. If oil was running out the price would be rising steeply. It’s not, meaning supply and demand should be in balance. They are.

    There is plenty of oil. The problem is the eco-fascists, who block every attempt to add to our usable supply. That keeps the price high. High gasoline prices are entirely due to the actions of the eco-Luddites.

    And the planet’s population is doing fine. Increasing wealth is moderating population growth. The population is easily ‘sustainable,’ to use that meaningless word; if it were not sustainable, it wouldn’t be sustained, it’s as simple as that.

    GM is simply a victim of extreme pessimism. He’s frightened because the glass always looks half empty to him. But the history of the human race is a series of examples showing that we overcome the kind of problems that GM worries about.

    In fifty years there will be new problems, and the things GM worries about now will be just a footnote in the history books — with CAGW being a classic example of cognitive dissonance formed around speculation and flimsy arguments that are based on “what if” conjectures rather than evidence and the scientific method.

  80. “The “small” detail that’s left out of the projections is the fact that it is an biophysical impossibility for the rest of the world to join the party the West has been having for the last 150 years because the resources for that do not exist.”

    GM,
    That impossibility is already occuring (perhaps you should stop your blathering and check some facts). In Mexico the TFR dropped from 5.5 in 1970 to just 2.7 today. In Thailand, the TFR went from 6.0 in 1980 to 1.8 today. Algeria, Morroco, Lybia, and Egpyt have seen thier TFR plunge from 4.5-5.0 in the 1970s to less than 3 today. In Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia, and Central America, the TFRs are now half of what they were just 20 years ago. Ditto for Turkey, Iran, and the former Soviet Republics of East Asia. So much for your “biophysical impossibility”.

    Only Western and Central Africa (along with Yemen and Afghanistan) continue to have birthrates above 4.0 per female. But in many of these nations, infant mortality, AIDS, and war far outpaces the birthrate. Numbers do not lie. The so-called Third World has joined the rest of the world, by and large. And by 2020, the number of people being born into this world will not be enough to replace those already here. Do the math.

  81. GM says:
    October 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

    What the paper whatever institution you went to says and what knowledge you actually acquired are two very different things.

    Well, what do you know. A narcissist practicing projection at its finest. The only way to describe this clown is in the inimitable words or Mr. T … Fool!

  82. GM says:
    October 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm
    “1. You can’t prevent collapse due to ecological overshoot by providing plenty of one resource because you collapse when the resource in shortest supply becomes limiting (a well known principle known as Liebig’s Law of the Minimum that’s been around for some 150 years).”

    Hi GM. Liebig’s Law applies to the growth of plants.

    Thought i’d better tell ya.

  83. GM must stand for Grumpy Malthusian.

    The man’s fervour, his posting rate and lack of scientific literacy and historical knowledge leave him very little time to think. This is quite typical of the Population Fanatic.

    Dreaming up new words and metaphorical uses for scientific principles is quite creative however.

  84. DirkH says:
    October 13, 2010 at 2:13 pm
    GM says:
    October 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm
    “1. You can’t prevent collapse due to ecological overshoot by providing plenty of one resource because you collapse when the resource in shortest supply becomes limiting (a well known principle known as Liebig’s Law of the Minimum that’s been around for some 150 years).”

    Hi GM. Liebig’s Law applies to the growth of plants.

    Thought i’d better tell ya.

    You forgot the part about how we all believe in pseudo science, and that his take on what Liebig’s law means is what it means. The limiting factor for plants does not really correspond to humanity (or even animals..but that digresses so to speak) as seen by economics, but lets not let little facts get in the way of a little scare now, should we?

    He also failed to say how his doomsday solution was better then reality’s….I mean we should pick who dies versus “natural selection” and the planet, but then again, we are talking what I would call the ultimate pseudo-science, the sustainability equation. Lets come up with arbritary equations that can be as optimistic or pessimistic as we want them to be. I came up with 5 trillion for how many humans the planet can hold in ecological balance…but then again when we use equations based on “feelings” similar to Drake’s equation for ET, we are not discussing science, but rather feelings anyway.

  85. Ben D:

    At October 13, 2010 at 5:23 pm you say of GM:

    “his take on what Liebig’s law means is what it means”.

    Yes, and I stated “his take” on that before s/he mentioned Liebig’s law when at October 13, 2010 at 5:21 am I wrote:

    “Your assertion that “all the concentrated resources will have been dissipated” displays a mistaken view of human existence. The clear mistake is that you are considering humans on the Earth to be like microbes in a Petri dish: the microbes die when they consume their resources.”

    It can be seen that GM has not disputed that this is his view of human existence.

    And, in that same post, I explained why considering humans that way is a mistake. GM has not answered the explanation in any way (except to insult anybody and everybody who rejected his silly assertions).

    This matter is not trivial because the view espoused by GM is widely promoted by ‘greens’, and it is the cause of their hatred of human beings which induces them to call for culling of the human population.

    As others have stated above, the ‘greens’ attempt to justify their calls for a cull by false arguments about “sustainability”. And, as others have also pointed out above, the test of whether something is sustainable is whether it is being sustained. The human population is more than sustainable because it is expanding.

    The ‘greens’ ignore the foreseeable problems of population decline in the latter half of this century because they are so keen to cull people (other than themselves) now. Of course, that future decline will be a problem for future generations to solve with the methods they choose: only hubris would induce us to try to resolve it.

    Also, we do have real problems (e.g. HIV and malaria in Africa, terrorist threats around the globe, etc.), and we are distracted from dealing with them if we waste time and effort on implausible, hypothetical threats such as population growth, ‘sustainability’, Peak Oil, etc..

    Richard

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