Managing the collapse

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Damnthematrix
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Managing the collapse

I've started this thread because it's one of my favorite subjects, and as someone pointed out, it was off topic on the Depression and Marriage Problems thread.....  so here's what started it off on that thread:

ao wrote:
Davos wrote:

When you get down to it, as the smartest investor I know explained it to me: It ISN'T peak oil or peak any resource. It is peak population.

Davos,

I virtually always find myself in agreement with what you have to say and always appreciate your many contributions.  On this point I would respectfully disagree with you though.  Certainly the increase in global population raises the various pressures upon our quality of life but the carrying capacity of the earth for a decent lifestyle, from what I gather in my readings, is significantly higher than the present global population with proper management of our resources.  I just don't see peak population as the crux of the matter.  Personally, though, I wouldn't mind seeing the earth less crowded but that's just my personal aversion to crowds and crowding.  I like sparsely populated remote areas.   

Hello AO:

Hey, I HOPE I'M/HE'S WRONG!!!!

I respect your view. I agree 100% with what you write here especially:

with proper management of our resources

I thought I had imparted (maybe I did but did it with my usual clear as mud way) that my opinion is that we are past the point of getting a "Manhattan Project" of real geniuses (CM, Shiff, Puplava, Martin, Rogers, Faber, Clemente etc)  together to figure out how to transition to that proper management of resources you talk about.

The way I see it is when I take a journey, which is what this is, I use a map and plot a course. Without that map I don't see this happening. We have leaders in denial, leaders thinking this is just a bad recession. Basically a bunch of smart folks who are acting clueless.

My concern is that when they wake up to this they will wake up to it too late and manage it like they manage deer populations that have gotten out of hand.

I'm angered to see we have a guy in the White House who has the right guiding principle, "Let NO crisis go to waste." This is a crisis that could clean up our planet and give everyone a great family life. Apparently the guy knows how to turn bad into good but couldn't find a crisis if his life depended on it.

There is some serious irony there. No?

But, with all respect: I don't have high hopes of their managerial skills when it comes to resources. If they can and do identify the problem, annunciate the problem and then form a plan I will then only worry about if there is enough time left to enact the plan. Humans are really smart but we sometimes make some whopper mistakes.

 

"with proper management of our resources"

With all due respect, this is utter nonsense.....

The resources we consume now, whether they be oil, zinc, soil, or water, took hundreds of millions of years to either be manufactured by nature, or deposited into the current convenient receptacles....  and we are using them up at something like a million times replacement rate.

Let that sink in.... a million times replacement rate.

Exactly how do you propose to "manage" this so it's reduced to "replacement rate"?

Our civilisation is dying of consumption.  Get over it.

Mike

 

ao wrote:
Davos wrote:

When you get down to it, as the smartest investor I know explained it to me: It ISN'T peak oil or peak any resource. It is peak population.

Davos,

.  On this point I would respectfully disagree with you though.  

AO,

Please name one problem that would not be cured by having fewer people.

Ken

 

That's too easy.  Your assumption is we had less poverty, less violence, less injustice, etc. when we had a lower population?  Sorry, I don't buy it.

Most moral issues that I could think of would not be cured by having fewer people.

 

Please name one problem that would not be cured by having fewer people.

 

Damnthematrix wrote:

"with proper management of our resources"

With all due respect, this is utter nonsense.....

The resources we consume now, whether they be oil, zinc, soil, or water, took hundreds of millions of years to either be manufactured by nature, or deposited into the current convenient receptacles....  and we are using them up at something like a million times replacement rate.

Let that sink in.... a million times replacement rate.

Exactly how do you propose to "manage" this so it's reduced to "replacement rate"?

Our civilisation is dying of consumption.  Get over it.

Mike

Mike,

In case you haven't recognized it, civilizations always die, just like people.  And new ones are always born, just like people. 

By the way, did the water and zinc fly off the planet or are they still here?  Soil is a different issue but there are vast, vast depositories of muck on the ocean floor.  Human beings can be incredibly foolish but they can also be incredibly intelligent, innovative, and adaptable.  Give yourself a break and get a grip.  And oil?  Well somehow we managed to survive for most of history without it.  I think we can manage that again.

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Re: Managing the collapse

OK, let's start with ao's assertion (bottom of intro thread).......

In case you haven't recognized it, civilizations always die, just like people.  And new ones are always born, just like people.

Yes, of course, this is true.  HOWEVER, this time, everything's different.  Never before has the planet been over populated, and over exploited.  NEVER.  When the Mayan and Inca civilisations collapsed and the people left their cities, they still had more resources than they knew what to do with, all they had to do was move somewhere else....  and of course find them.

Today, we've got a pretty good idea where all the resources are (were..?!) and there's nowhere else to go.  This is as good as it gets.

By the way, did the water and zinc fly off the planet or are they still here?

Well of course we know the answer to that misleading question.. :-)

The fact the resources are still here is neither here nor there, the problem is that they are no longer where they are required, or are locked up in a complex situation.

Water will still fall out of the sky (I just caught 50 tons of it in the last 14 days) but the acquifers are failing fast..... and  you can't grow 10,000 acres of wheat off rain water tanks.

And the zinc (like the copper, aluminium, iron etc) is still here, but it's invariably locked up in batteries, galvanised steel and a plethora of other things we have made over the last 150 years.  Most of it I would hazzard a guess is in landfill!  To retrieve it through recycling is both difficult and expensive, getting more so as we enter the peak everything era and associated energy crisis.....

Adaptable?  Of course we are...  Easter Islanders started eating each other when no other food was available...

Yes, humanity did just fine without oil for 99.99% of its existence, but the population was well under 1 billion for nearly all of that time, and we still had EVERYTHING we have exploited in the past 150 years.

No way can we feed everybody without oil when both soil and water are disappearing.

Mike

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Re: Managing the collapse
Damnthematrix wrote:

 

ao wrote:
Davos wrote:

When you get down to it, as the smartest investor I know explained it to me: It ISN'T peak oil or peak any resource. It is peak population.

Davos,

.  On this point I would respectfully disagree with you though.  

AO,

Please name one problem that would not be cured by having fewer people.

Ken

 

That's too easy.  Your assumption is we had less poverty, less violence, less injustice, etc. when we had a lower population?  Sorry, I don't buy it.

Most moral issues that I could think of would not be cured by having fewer people.

 

Please name one problem that would not be cured by having fewer people.

 

 

Without people there are no problems.

If a problem exists and it is not mitigated by having fewer people then we just need to continue having fewer people until it is mitigated.

The end game is that with no people there are no problems because "problem" is a construct of the human mind.

I hope that you see the point.

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Re: Managing the collapse

 

 Never before has the planet been over populated, and over exploited.  NEVER.

 I beg to differ, every species has always been in tension, trying to grow..  running up against limits.. the enforced competition we call natural selection..

 Chris often speaks of the conflict between an economic system that *must* grow versus a physical base that has limits.

 I'd add a third element, the "life" factor, a population that will always TRY to grow.... that will expand to fill the available space, and keep trying to expand until met with a sufficient restraint...

 Removing a few restraints won't solve it. The green revolution tried..

  With this particular intractable issue...  "solutions ARE the problem".. and by symmetry I guess...  "problems are the solution"....

 

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Re: Managing the collapse

" I beg to differ, every species has always been in tension, trying to grow..  running up against limits.. the enforced competition we call natural selection.."

But Plato, other species have never lived beyond their means by using ultra cheap and abundant energy that took millions of years to make... other species hav only ever used renewable resources, and even things like forests make their own soil by recycling nutrients etc....  but when we run out of sustainability, we force inputs into the system to make it keep going.

What's more, no species before us ever alyered the planet like we have, extinguishing species, poisoning the air and oceans, even changing the landscape on a massive scale like the deforestation currently running its course in Indonesia....

Mike

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Re: Managing the collapse

This isn't a binary either-or question.  Irresponsible extraction and use of resources will still be irresponsible no matter how many people there are.  More people exacerbate the problem, but they are not the whole problem.  I don't know what the carrying capacity of the planet is, but we need to think about it in the absence of oil.  My guess is that without oil, the planet can support far fewer people than we currently have, but I'm sure we can't continue our current binging on non-renewable resources, no matter how many people there are.  The notion that without people there is no problem is a meaningless distraction.  We have people, and I hope the earth can continue to support our species.

Doug

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Re: Managing the collapse
Doug wrote:

This isn't a binary either-or question.  Irresponsible extraction and use of resources will still be irresponsible no matter how many people there are.  More people exacerbate the problem, but they are not the whole problem.  I don't know what the carrying capacity of the planet is, but we need to think about it in the absence of oil.  My guess is that without oil, the planet can support far fewer people than we currently have, but I'm sure we can't continue our current binging on non-renewable resources, no matter how many people there are.  The notion that without people there is no problem is a meaningless distraction.  We have people, and I hope the earth can continue to support our species.

Doug

Doug,

 

The point that I am trying to make about people = problems is as follows:

If a "problem" exists here on earth with 6 billion people and if we can agree that the "problem" would not exist if we had zero people on the earth then I contend that there is some number between 6 billion and zero where the problem will cease to exist. I don't know what that number is but I  know that it exists even if the number is closer to zero than 6 billion.

So I think the argument certainly is valid that problems would cease to exist with fewer people.

 

Ken

 

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Re: Managing the collapse
Damnthematrix wrote:

other species have never lived beyond their means by using ultra cheap and abundant energy that took millions of years to make... other species have only ever used renewable resources

JMO, but no creature can possibly live beyond it's means, It doesn't make any difference how long a resource takes to become a resource, and least of all IMO does it matter what happens to human beings .. the planet will simply do what it needs to do to eliminate what is making it unhealthy ..

now see, some folks already know all this, yet they tiptoe all around it hoping to find some validation that somehow they are better than most humans, but guess what, they're not .. especially if they have produced another creature the planet must rid itself of .. but no worries mate, the rain will fall as usual, on the just & the unjust.

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Re: Managing the collapse

OK...so exactly what is the topic here?

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Re: Managing the collapse
kenc wrote:

.....because "problem" is a construct of the human mind.

I agree with this statement, but come to a different conclusion.

If "problems" are a construct of the human mind, then it means that problems don't really exist in this world, whether there 6 million people or none. Maybe, as both individuals and a species, we are better off ignoring the problems that we construct and apply to our world. 

Come to think of it.....thats a damn good reason not to be a participant in this forum anymore.

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Re: Managing the collapse

Watching the documentary movie How the Earth was Made the other day left me with the impression of how utterly miniscule the timespan of humans (maybe 100,000 years so far for home sapiens) on earth is relative to the whole timeline of the Earth (5+- billion years) and how relatively stable things have been geologically in human recorded history relative to the millions of years passed on Earth. 

Oil was supposedly formed 200 or 300 million years ago, before the age of dinsaurs ended 65 million years ago.  One might contemplate the ultimate outcome will be a few hundred million years pass during which nature redeposits or reforms resources like oil and metal, then a new civilization of some sort of creatures rises to use them up all over again.  Nevertheless, I guess we've still got to deal with the timeframe of us and our children as best we can.

 

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Re: Managing the collapse
Johnny Oxygen wrote:

OK...so exactly what is the topic here?

PRECISELY.....  you guys are going off topic again, which is how this thread was started, and now it's happening all over again....  I started this thread to challenge those who believe we can somehow "manage" the descent down the Hubbert Peak (among the many other looming peaks) because we are oh so clever....

If you really believe this, I want to see strategies, not philosophies!

Mike

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Re: Managing the collapse
Agent Smith wrote:

I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

Actually this isn't far from the truth, although anatomically we're mammals, our behavior is similar to a virus. Fortunately we are living in a self regulating system, and whether we like it or not we will be regulated. Personally I think we should self regulate to minimize the impacts from being regulated, but unfortunately this is not likely to happen, since regardless of politics human breeding is democratic, even in China under birth restrictions it was still democratic, and the majority of people aren't clued in enough to realize that over population is a huge problem and regulate themselves.

How will we manage this from a species perspective, badly, we never have. I think if I remember correctly Carl Sagan once said, there is a narrow window to achieve colonization of space where there are sufficient resource to continue our never ending quest for growth, he predicted that unless we establish a permanent sizeable colony by 2015 off planet, then we'll remain  here and go the way of the dinosaurs. So obviously if his prediction is right then we're toast, unless there's some alien input. So I expect that at sometime in the neat future we'll be mining trash heaps for their precious minerals and organics, It will be the real recycling generation. 

Anyway I have to go recycle dead tree's into fuel.

 

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Re: Managing the collapse

Gungnir writes:

Actually this isn't far from the truth, although anatomically we're mammals, our behavior is similar to a virus. Fortunately we are living in a self regulating system, and whether we like it or not we will be regulated. Personally I think we should self regulate to minimize the impacts from being regulated, but unfortunately this is not likely to happen, since regardless of politics human breeding is democratic, even in China under birth restrictions it was still democratic, and the majority of people aren't clued in enough to realize that over population is a huge problem and regulate themselves.

Instead of dealing with all of these contradictions and paradoxes, perhaps we should consider the following.  Believing that we have the capacity/power to self-regulate would suggest that we have control over our habitat, over Nature herself.  Humanity, being a relatively new species, has consistently shown itself to be remarkably unadaptable, suggesting that our reign of terror will be short.  

When Nature has had Her fill, She will flick us off as any dog would rid themselves of an irritating flea.  

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Re: Managing the collapse
Damnthematrix wrote:
Johnny Oxygen wrote:

OK...so exactly what is the topic here?

PRECISELY.....  you guys are going off topic again, which is how this thread was started, and now it's happening all over again....  I started this thread to challenge those who believe we can somehow "manage" the descent down the Hubbert Peak (among the many other looming peaks) because we are oh so clever....

If you really believe this, I want to see strategies, not philosophies!

Mike

Mike, don't you think most people on this site are in agreement that there is a problem? 

Secondly, discussing strategies is very academic, and interesting.  But that's all.  Our leaders won't implement any management of the downward slope of the hubbard peak because they have not acknowledged there is a problem.  They are worse than in denial.  I don't think they realise there is anything to deny.

I would also still be interested to hear from people who have proposed strategies for getting us out of the predicament we are in.

 

 

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Re: Managing the collapse
anarkst wrote:

Believing that we have the capacity/power to self-regulate would suggest that we have control over our habitat, over Nature herself.  Humanity, being a relatively new species, has consistently shown itself to be remarkably unadaptable, suggesting that our reign of terror will be short.

I actually don't think we do have the power to self-regulate as a species, so I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Other than to reiterate my logical conclusion. I think the confusion comes from the dichotomy of as an individual we can logically say "we need to stop breeding" however as a species we cannot execute on that logical conclusion.

In the words of Nietzsche : insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

Indeed, I'd go a step further to completely describe my position on this. Suppose for instance we had a Biodome, in this Biodome we sealed in 100 mating couples for 20 years, they are all briefed individually that the Biodome only has enough resources provided to support all 100 of them for 20 years if they're conservative, and, that should there be any births it will put the entire group of them at risk of starvation, dehydration or oxygen deprivation. I'd bet dollars to buttons that within the first year there would be a birth, I'd bet 20-1 odds on dollars to buttons that within 5 years there would be 5 births. I'd also bet 100-1 odds on dollars to buttons that by year 20 there's significant if not deadly ecologic damage, that has caused significant impacts to that group.

I'm also sure that if you asked one of the original entrants, if they survived, why they didn't listen. The answer would be "Well Judy had her first after 11 months of being here, and we didn't die, so we assumed that it was all a big con job" the reason for this is completely logical too, if you have a balanced system one additional party member won't significantly effect the overall balance, ok you get 1% less of everything, but you can probably survive, but if you have 10 additional members then you're down to 90% of everything and the strain will begin to show (if not earlier) but by now you likely have 30% of that population either having offspring, or currently pregnant, even though as individuals they were warned of the potential hazards and risks associated with doing precisely what they're doing. Hell in that situation if "Judy" hadn't been the first someone else would have been, chances are that there wasn't one just one birth at around 11 months but within a 3 month window of that there would be 2-3.

The situation I've described is relatively "neat" too, since there are no "old" folks, who might depend on their kids for support in their elderly years, nor any serious risks of disease.

I guess what I'm trying to say is the strategy TO the strategy is not to find solutions for the individual but to find solutions for the species, and they're significantly different. To the species Spanish flu was a mild case of a head cold, the Black Death was a scraped shin, and every death in every war isn't even a blip in the heartbeat of the human species I'd reckon that the worst problem the human species has is Malaria, pneumonia, and maybe TB and the trots. Just like we're shedding skin every second of every day, so the species is shedding people, and it cares the same for the people it sheds as we care for dust. Even should oil run out tomorrow, there be great famine and a plague, and the human species reduced to a fraction of it's former size, say 1 billion (roughly 1/7 th the current population), the species couldn't care less. In fact it would still be the most populous species on the face of the earth and therefore the most successful, perhaps not as successful, but still the most successful. Yes I'm anthropomorphing the Human species, but it illustrates a point.

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Re: Managing the collapse

"Even should oil run out tomorrow, there be great famine and a plague, and the human species reduced to a fraction of it's former size, say 1 billion (roughly 1/7 th the current population), the species couldn't care less. In fact it would still be the most populous species on the face of the earth and therefore the most successful, perhaps not as successful, but still the most successful. Yes I'm anthropomorphing the Human species, but it illustrates a point."

Sorry Mr. Gung

With 1  billion humans we would not be the most populous species.

That is unless you consider populous as people as opposed to 

crowded.

Of course the derivation is from the Latin, populus.

So by definition even if there were one person (people)

it would be the most populous.

If you use the definition of crowded then I think you still are off the mark.

As for most successful, well there are species that were here before us 

and will likely be here after us. ex. cockroaches.

So again the devil is in the details. How do you define successful.

btw What if the one seventh are all Muslims? I think there are about a billion of them.

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Re: Managing the collapse

I'm not going to derail this thread. I'll respond in your Eisenhower thread. Since its probably more Appropo.

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Re: Managing the collapse

I happen to be reading John Greer's latest book "The Ecotechnic Future" much of which is relevant to this thread. (highly recommend reading) He speaks of upcoming stages including "Scarcity" and "Salvage" leading to what he calls the "Ecotechnic Age" that is coming, -- an age that is one that nobody now has much of an idea as to what it will be like. I think that may be why we have such a hard time imagining what the future will bring. At the moment we are all looking at the Scarcity period by learning new skills and storing things up for the future. When we can't get the things we need as usual, then the Salvaging/scavenging will become commonplace and those abandoned buildings and cities will be centers of the junk yards of tomorrow. Where this all leads many years for now does not have many signposts pointing to what this longer term may be other than it is likely to be much different than today and and likely even beyond what we might imagine.

As to a timetable, he leaves much to the reader's imagination, but does a good job of posting some guidelines to think about as the following illustrates on pages 54 & 55:

A teenage Parisienne who sat daydreaming of her upcoming wedding on the day that Louis XVI summoned the Etats-General in 1788 would have been a grandmother on the day the Allied armies marched into Paris after the battle of Waterloo in 1815. Historical events rarely appear to have the same importance at the time that they are assigned in the historian's hindsight, not least because the everyday tasks of making a living and the stages of human life play a larger role for most people than the tumults that make the history books. Seen in retrospect, the changes that will follow the end of the age of cheap abundant energy are likely to be swift and global. From the perspective of those who live through them, though, those changes will take place over lifetimes, and will be powerfully affected by local and temporary factors that will make the broader trends harder to see. As petroleum production declines, for example, the scramble for replacements with less net energy will tend to drive fuel prices up. Economic contraction driven by the end of cheap energy will tend to decrease demand, and drive them back down. Factor in speculation, and in place of the steadily rising prices sometimes predicted in the peak oil literature, we can expect wild swings in energy prices, driving cycles of boom and bust of an intensity not seen in the Western world since the 19th century.

All of this spells trouble, without a doubt. To volatile energy prices and wrenching economic change, add the breakdown of public health and the likelihood that the end of the American empire will result in wars as bloody as those that followed the decline of every other empire in history, and the result is a recipe for massive change. As depopulation, migration, cultural drift and ecological change have their effects, those changes will be multiplied manyfold. From the perspective of some future Edward Gibbon of the year 3650 or so, outlining The Decline and Fall of the American Empire as he strolls past sheep grazing on the mossy ruins of ancient Washington DC, all this will doubtless seem traumatic enough.

For those who experience the process of transformation first hand, though, it will likely have a noticeably different appearance. The young Parisienne just mentioned, after all, did not go to sleep one night in the agrarian, half-feudal France of the ancien regime and wake up the next morning as a grandmother in the nascent industrial nation that France became in Napoleon's wake. Even those changes that brought grief into her life -any sons she had, for example, would have faced high odds of dying a soldier's death would have been spread out over the years, part of a fabric of many other experiences.

Similarly, the unraveling of today's industrial society can be expected to take place against the tempo of ordinary life. Those of us who live through any significant fraction of the process can expect to witness economic, social and political turmoil as dramatic as anything our ancestors have experienced. We will all be attending more funerals than most of us do nowadays, and our appearance as the guest of honor at one of them will likely come sooner than we expect. Most of us will learn what it means to go hungry, to work at many jobs, to watch paper wealth become worthless and to see established institutions go to pieces around us. A quarter century or so from now, the world may be a very different place, but the journey there will have taken place a single day's changes at a time, in a world far more diverse than the one we inhabit today.

 

Jim

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