Is there really a Limit to Population Growth?

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Is there really a Limit to Population Growth?

As a subscriber, I am very happy with Chris' analyses on the economy and how to prepare for the coming financial disaster.

I do not agree, however, with Chris premise that we are anywhere near a limit to population growth.

Chris recently even quoted Jeremy Grantham (in this report - link), who believes the world can only support 1.5 billion humans. I think such views do not only have no scientific foundation, they are even outright dangerous, as they could give implicit support to ludicrous top-down population control policies such as the one-child-policy in China (or worse policies in the future).

Our 'fine leaders' clearly suffer from delusions of grandeur. They try to regulate and steer markets, invade into every possible area of our lives (from what we learn in schools, what we eat, what health care we receive etc.). Trust me, we don't want them to also start actively manage population growth.

I have expressed my serious concerns with this premise already below a recent report (link to report - subscription required). Quoting some of my main points:

"...as we expand our technological repertoire through scientific discovery and technological and intellectual development, we can define an increasing area of the natural world as natural resources and we can use these resources more and more effectively. Consequently we will end up being able to support and host much more human beings on this planet than, what we think is possible at today's technological and intellectual capacities...

When you look down on the earth from an airplane, you will see that the vast majority of this planet is not inhibited by the human race (even in countries that we think to be crammed, such as India). In fact the human race inhibits only a tiny, tiny fraction of the earth (above sea-level, of course)...

I would make the point that technological advancement isn't even necessary to solve the food problem. The German doctor Johann Schnitzer (in 'Gesundheit Getreide Welternährung', 2010) and quite a few others folks make very compelling cases that much of the food problem can be solved, if people were to move away from meat-centred diet to grain-centred diet. As a nice little side-effect this would also take care of much of our health problems...

Yes the economy will crash and many people will likely be wiped out, but it will not be a nuclear waste land afterwards. Yes, we will have quite a few tough years, but live will go on. Those people that still steer things top-down today politically will be rendered irrelevant in a few years, because humanity will have learned its lessons from the collapse. Yes, the lessons will be harsh, extremely harsh even to many - but that is what happens when people stop paying attention to the important things for many decades. The learning-effect, however, will be even greater due to the severity, meaning the bounce-back will be enormous (but that might be a decade or more away)...

The essential human pattern in the past ... has been to realise progress and realise progress we have done. The rate of progress has even been accelerating, which leads me to the conclusion that humanity has barely even started yet and that there is plenty of potential to host many, many tens of billions of more people on this planet."

Adam than pointed out that I might want to read the chapter "Why Technology Can't Fix This" in Chris Martenson's "The Crash Course". After having done so, my doubts with regards to Chris' neo-malthusian stance has even increased - here is an overview of some of my main criticisms:

- Chris points out that technology does not create energy (p 177). There is no doubt about that, but with the help of technology we are able to extract energy from types of natural resources that we haven't envisioned before (and hence not regarded as being part of our natural resources and hence were not included into neo-malthusian-calculations of how many people can live on this planet). We figured out to extract energy from wood, coal, oil, gas, nuclear, solar etc. There is little doubt that going forward (however, most likely not in time to avoid the coming collapse of the fiat monetary system) we will figure out, how to better extract energy from existing and from totally new sources.

- Chris also writes on pages 180 and 183 that energy we are given is a "one-time free gift", like a "gigantic pile of food that can only be eaten once". I couldn't disagree more. The energy might not even be limited by what we understand as our sources of energy today. It is still not clear, for example, how oil comes into existence - it sure doesn't come from dead dinosaurs, as we were being told in school. But even if the amount of oil was limited, then there is still no doubt that in the future humanity will be able to tap into more and more sources of self-renewing energy.

- Chris also writes on page 180 that "not once has anything that has been dropped on Earth ever floated upward instead of accelerating downward. Despite our technological prowess, not once have we ever found a way to defeat gravity here on the surface of the earth with our technology." There is not just gravitational forces on this planet, there are also many diverse levitational forces. Otherwise water would not be going up into the sky (and come back as rain again), or an apple, for example, would never find its way up a tree.

Just like Malthus was proven wrong with his theories about population limits from 200 years ago (I believe he once said or wrote that there is no way the earth can support more than 2 billion people - I can't find correct citation for this right now, however), Chris will be proven wrong when he implies that we are nearing the absolute population-limit that the earth can support.

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Population limit
smoothbrother wrote:

I do not agree, however, with Chris premise that we are anywhere near a limit to population growth.

The key parameter is total global population rather than the growth rate. I agree that we may be nowhere near the total human population that could reside on Earth.

smoothbrother wrote:

"...as we expand our technological repertoire through scientific discovery and technological and intellectual development, we can define an increasing area of the natural world as natural resources and we can use these resources more and more effectively. Consequently we will end up being able to support and host much more human beings on this planet than, what we think is possible at today's technological and intellectual capacities...

Since 99%+ of all available energy ultimately comes from the Sun I did a back of the envelope calculation using the Sun as the sole energy source. If you accept that technological advances in genetic engineering will allow humans to become green and photosynthesize then I found that in 800 years with population doubling every 50 years we will have a total global population of around 400 trillion and will be such a dense biomass on the planet that people will starve on cloudy days. Note I did not account for whether he planet has sufficient phosphorus for this population size

The bottom line however, is that there is a limit to population size.

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Population Limit

I wonder why you think it necessary to maximize the number of people on the earth.  What ridiculous belief system do you have that drives you to want billions more of us on this planet without regard to the damage to the eco system that would do.

Regardless of the possiblilty of genetic engineering in the future (I for one do not want to be green and leafy) or of technological breakthroughs that might provide us access to more and more energy (energy by the way creates waste heat, where does that go) why maximize our numbers at the obvious harm of all other species (just try to maximize two or more variables in an equation).

Why not limit our numbers to the point that we do not overload the earths systems, take the long view in terms of a species rather than race to the horrible crash that you are hoping for, and keep the biodiversity that is necessary for a healthy ecosystem.  Don't overuse resources like water and power, don't over pollute beyond the earths capacity to manage, don't over consume the oceans and the fertility of the land just to sustain a balloning number of people.

Chris is correct in his statement of facts and I am pretty sure that you should seek some professional help.

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The only resource that

The only resource that ultimately matters is the Net Primary Productivity of this planet. That is what defines maximum population. I don't recall the precise figures but something of the order of 20%-30% of total NPP is appropriated by humans, and about 50% of terrestrial NPP is appropriated by humans. The rest of the organisms on this planet are fighting over the remainder. But the methods employed by humans to appropriate this basic energy source actually reduces the NPP, as does increasing population. The species extinction rate is 10-100 times the backround extinction rate, meaning that humans have already initiated an extinction event.

In some areas, appropriation of NPP is well above the NPP of that area and so importation of food is needed.

The other so-called resources don't define the sustainable population of this planet, of any species, and so are irrelevant in determine that level. I read an article a few years ago showing the impact of humans on this planet and there are very few areas now that haven't been impacted by humans in some way.

No-one knows the carrying capacity of this planet and there are so many variables. However, what is clear is that the current human population is well exceeding the current carrying capacity, with current lifestyles, requiring roughly 1.2-1.3 earths. This is only possible with cheap abundant energy and only possible for a temporary period, as limits hit in so many ways. Three of nine critical boundaries have already been exceeded by humans, according to some scientific research (the nitrogen cycle, atmospheric carbon and species extinction rate are the three exceeded), with two other boundaries getting close (the phosphorous cycle is one of them) and three as yet unquantified. Exceeding just one critical boundary is enough to send the earth on a downward spiral and we have already crossed three, with two more looming.

Anecdotally, humans are well past the sustainably carrying capacity of this planet and it really is rather pointless talking about the theoretical maximum being higher. Only drastic significant actions can avoid catastrophe and there is no sign of that, so we'll have to wait for catastrophe before humans alter their ways (and they may not, even then). This isn't to say that total collapse is imminent, though collapse has certainly started; it may take decades more (or it may not) but the path is firmly set now.

Tony

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Reductio ad absurdum
Gord.Barker wrote:

I wonder why you think it necessary to maximize the number of people on the earth.  What ridiculous belief system do you have that drives you to want billions more of us on this planet without regard to the damage to the eco system that would do.

I don't think it is necessary to maximize the number of people on the earth, and the figure was 400 trillion not mere billions. I was merely responding to an argument using the reductio ad absurdum technique and I regret that you were unable to appreciate the absurdity of my conclusion.

Gord.Barker wrote:

Why not limit our numbers to the point that we do not overload the earths systems, take the long view in terms of a species rather than race to the horrible crash that you are hoping for, and keep the biodiversity that is necessary for a healthy ecosystem.

That would be a great idea but historically the human animal is no better at limiting its numbers than yeast growing in a sugar (grape sugar) solution. I never said I was hoping for a horrible crash. Please don't put words in my mouth or accuse me of things I have never said.

Gord.Barker wrote:

Chris is correct in his statement of facts and I am pretty sure that you should seek some professional help.

Chris has a good grasp of exponential growth as does any biologist or mathematician and has an excellent ability to explain the consequences. Unfortunately most people do not understand exponential growth and its consequences. I frequently seek professional help. Is there any issue I should focus on?

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SteveW wrote: Gord.Barker
SteveW wrote:
Gord.Barker wrote:

I wonder why you think it necessary to maximize the number of people on the earth.  What ridiculous belief system do you have that drives you to want billions more of us on this planet without regard to the damage to the eco system that would do.

I don't think it is necessary to maximize the number of people on the earth, and the figure was 400 trillion not mere billions. I was merely responding to an argument using the reductio ad absurdum technique and I regret that you were unable to appreciate the absurdity of my conclusion.

Gord.Barker wrote:

Why not limit our numbers to the point that we do not overload the earths systems, take the long view in terms of a species rather than race to the horrible crash that you are hoping for, and keep the biodiversity that is necessary for a healthy ecosystem.

That would be a great idea but historically the human animal is no better at limiting its numbers than yeast growing in a sugar (grape sugar) solution. I never said I was hoping for a horrible crash. Please don't put words in my mouth or accuse me of things I have never said.

Gord.Barker wrote:

Chris is correct in his statement of facts and I am pretty sure that you should seek some professional help.

Chris has a good grasp of exponential growth as does any biologist or mathematician and has an excellent ability to explain the consequences. Unfortunately most people do not understand exponential growth and its consequences. I frequently seek professional help. Is there any issue I should focus on?

It's a shame some people just don't appreciate a funny.  I did.  Thanks for the chuckle.

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My favourite graph.

  My Favourite graph.

The Standard or Business as usual model. From this article

Things to note.

  1. There is a nice gentle downslope for population. (Attempts to “fix things” result in a much steeper down slope. Not good.)
  2. In subsequent (not good) runs resources are presumed to be double. ie we manage to “fix things” by finding more resources like oil.
  3. I like the business as usual run. It is the least worst scenario.
  4. With more resources we end up with more pollution. Which is intuitively correct. Pollution mitigation measures  were implimented in other runs with mixed success.
  5. Capital will have to be withdrawn from industry into agriculture, as the per-capita calorie intake plunges. I guess that would make a lot of sense to the Egyptians.

I urge you to get a copy of Limits to Growth and read it. It is similar to Darwins Origin of the Species. No-one has read it but everyone has an opinion. The greater the ignorance the stronger the opinion.

 

This is where the "Limits to Growth" team show what happens when we "fix" things by doubling the resource base.

 

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quick response

@SteveW: Yes, you are right, there is a limit to population size on this planet. I don't share the premise, though, that we are anywhere near it.

@Gord.Barker: I am also against trying to maximize the number of people on earth. You might be right that there are too many people on this planet, but you might as well be terribly wrong - we'll find out.

As a result I'd rather not have a small group of neo-malthusians, who think they know better (although empirically they have been proven wrong over and over again), start taking active top-down population control measures (which unfortunately seems to be the case more and more).

Chris is not stating any facts when he implies that there are too many people on the planet. He comes to this conclusion assuming that there won't be any progress in humanity, which is an opinion that grossly runs counter the history of human evolution.

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smoothbrother wrote:Chris is
smoothbrother wrote:

Chris is not stating any facts when he implies that there are too many people on the planet. He comes to this conclusion assuming that there won't be any progress in humanity, which is an opinion that grossly runs counter the history of human evolution.

What is the history of human evolution? The current human species has remained unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years, apart from some slight adaptations due to migrations. Our brains are the same as our ancestors' were hundreds of thousands of years ago. Intelligence and abilities are no different. "Progress" is arbitrarily defined. What is your definition?

 

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Population control too "Soylant Green" for me

I finally figured out how to post from my iPad. Now there is some human ingenuity for you.

There will be a lot of pain and suffering long before we reach the limit of humans that the planet can sustain. Maybe we are already there - maybe not. That is NOT for me to decide.

What really really scares me is that someone would even think that we should "reduce" the population - by what means? Who gets to decide? To them I would say, "you die first". Who gets to decide who gets to have how many babies? Ask China what types of problems a single child family brings.

The simple fact is, whenever "man" tries to fiddle with the natural order of things, all he does is make a mess. GMO plants and cloned animals come to mind. Not to mention the disease industrialized meat production has caused. E. coli anyone?

Mother Nature is one pouty b-auch. She does not like to be fiddled with. I laugh every time someone tells me that "we have control over our environment." the only control that we have shown to have is in how to break it. And, to use the line from the old corny margarine commercial, "It's not nice to fool [with] Mother Nature!"

 

For heavens sake, Chris is a Duke-ie, if anyone should believe in technology "saving us" it should be him.

But then again, Soylent Green does bring home a point...

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Messing with nature is how we're here

Hogwash.  Humans have "fiddled with nature" ever since the species arose. Plant breeding and agriculture techniques, vaccines and medicine, pasturization and all other technological developments, heck our entire human society, are in defiance of the "natural order of things". If you disagree, go live off the land somewhere and see how long you last.  I've lived for a couple of years in a rural village in Africa, where the people really do live off the land.  And I tell you what, they want every chance to go against the natural order of things like the rest of us do.

How have GMO plants made a mess of anything? There hasn't been one case of natural environments or human health being damaged by them, although we've used them for decades.You hear false claims so often from uninformed liberals, while real problems like global warming and pollution go underaddressed.  Let's focus on real problems, not fake ones.

Population doesn't need to be controlled unless some of the more dire predictions of peak oil proponents come to pass.  As countries develop economically, their birth rates decrease.  The non-immigrant population growth in the developed world is well below the replacement rate of 2.1 kids per couple ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4768644.stm )  As long as people have a social safety net, the historical need for your children to take care of you in your old age is gone (again, in the developed world).   However, if Social Security, Medicare, and the other safety net programs really go away, and farming starts to be done by hand again due to lack of cheap energy, this would revert back to the way it used to be!

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further responses

 @RNcarl: I fully agree with you on the point that people should not try to control the environment. Humanity, however, needs to do a much better job understanding environment and our nature and needs to do a much better job taking individual responsibility. Many significant changes have to happen for this to occur. Once this learning does occurs, however, we as a human species can redifne what is possible on this planet. It is not even so much about hoping technology can save us. It is very often just realising very simple things (such as eating so many dead anmials is not good for many reasons; the government won't be able to take care of our health or our living standards; watching football and drinking beer is not the best way to spend one's weekend; what we are being told in schools is often very distorted; it is not acceptable for a country to attack another country; fiat currency is not money etc.) that can make a huge impact on what is possible on this planet.

Chris' opinions are much too dark for my taste, as he simply excludes the possibility for such learnings to occur. But that is okay, as long as it is stated as an opinion. Once this is stated as facts, however, it becomes very dangerous, as it opens up the path for politicians to also try to control population (as, unfortunately, has already been initiated). They could then say: "Wise scientists such as Dr. Chris Martneson say there are too many people on this planet. Clearly we have to do something about it." --> this needs to be avoided/stopped.

@sofistek: It is very important to realise that what you are referring to as our human history is an opinion that might be shared by the majority of people today and that might be tought in school today, but it still is just an opinion. There are other opinions that are shared by many people. I, for instance happen to find many opinions of Nassim Haramin that relate to ancient civilasations (disclaimer: I might not agree with other views of him) very plausible, which are explained in this video from minute 05:15 onwards: 

(goes on into parts 26, 27 etc.). 

It is clear to me that humanity could be much better off already today with today's 'set of technologies'. With much better off I mean: much more resilient, much more caring, much more responsible, much higher living standards, far less wars, much happier, much healthier etc. Apart from that Nassim Haramin (and many others) make compelling cases that technology-wise we have far to improve as well, meaning there is still huge potential left for humanity to sustainably grow in numbers and, at the same time, be far more in line with nature.

As a result I find Chris' opinions (and those of any other neo-malthusian for that matter) with regards to limits of population greatly myopic, as they assume humanity will not learn and/or evolve.

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Why we will not change.

As a result I find Chris' opinions (and those of any other neo-malthusian for that matter) with regards to limits of population greatly myopic, as they assume humanity will not learn and/or evolve.

Humanity has become too left brained. So Left brained that they no longer understand metaphore. I often make metaphorical statements on this site and they either irritate or go over heads. QED.

As a consequence people are threatened by assults to their models of reality, because to the Left brain the models are indistinguishable from Reality itself.

The upshot of this predicament is that when It is pointed out that we must go-off planet or that Cold Fusion is real people react badly. These things threaten the Left's precious models of reality.

We have changed from our ancestors. We cannot accept new ideas.

 

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isildur22 wrote: Hogwash.
isildur22 wrote:

Hogwash.  Humans have "fiddled with nature" ever since the species arose. Plant breeding and agriculture techniques, vaccines and medicine, pasturization and all other technological developments, heck our entire human society, are in defiance of the "natural order of things".

It seems to me that this act of defiance you seem to cherish is starting to unravel a bit.

Pasteurization? Any thoughts on Beauchamp?

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The Two Cultures meets Neuroanatomy "Head-on" ...

Arthur,

Huge fan of your litany of metaphor; allegory; irony; etal ...

Thought you'd appreciate a nibble at a corner edge of C.P.Snow, with a relevant snippet of his 1959 Rede lecture The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, since I have often considered that like Snow, you and I each have one foot planted in both of the 'Cultures' he describes.

As a rufle aside, I also include neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor who gained an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for. One morning she realised she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment ...

C.P. Snow : -

"A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists.  Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative.  Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of “have you read a work of Shakespeare?

I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question – such as, What do you mean by mass, or acceleration, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, Can you read? – not more than one in ten of the highly educated would have felt that I was speaking the same language. So the great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest people in the western world have about as much insight into it as their neolithic ancestors would have had."

{Continued ...}

As a further aside, I recently had the pleasure of a fairly short discussion with a fellow of 84 years old named Stanley. When I mentioned that in just his lifetime the population of the planet had expanded human number by three and a half times from 2 to 7 billion - and that the oil that created such numbers was in catastrophic global decline - he raised an eyebrow, and for one moment gave the impression that he was going to say something equally profound. Then, he looked down at his left shoe, began to sniff, walked to a small oblong of grass, and began to wipe the dog-sh*t he'd stepped in a few feet from where we stood ...

... Oh, the wonder of metaphor ... ...

Paul

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Arithmetic, Population, and Energy ~ Dr Albert A. Bartlett

To those who have written and read here for some time, I'm sure you've had the pleasure of watching the lecture below by Dr Albert A Bartlett.

However, for those new to the forum, such as Smoothbrother and Isildur22 (welcome to the forum by the way!), or those that haven't as yet taken the time to watch and digest the lecture, here's your chance to grasp what it was that Dr Chris Martenson actually meant about population growth in The Crash Course.

Rather than assumption, if we're all on the same page on this thread in regard to method, it is my great hope we won't end up talking with cross purposes ...

... So ...

With the emphasis on exponential growth, and mankinds inability to comprehend its pace, I give you : -

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy ~ by Dr Albert A. Bartlett

Paul

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Yeah but....
RNcarl wrote:

I finally figured out how to post from my iPad. Now there is some human ingenuity for you.

There will be a lot of pain and suffering long before we reach the limit of humans that the planet can sustain. Maybe we are already there - maybe not. That is NOT for me to decide.

What really really scares me is that someone would even think that we should "reduce" the population - by what means? Who gets to decide? To them I would say, "you die first". Who gets to decide who gets to have how many babies? Ask China what types of problems a single child family brings.

The simple fact is, whenever "man" tries to fiddle with the natural order of things, all he does is make a mess. GMO plants and cloned animals come to mind. Not to mention the disease industrialized meat production has caused. E. coli anyone?

Mother Nature is one pouty b-auch. She does not like to be fiddled with. I laugh every time someone tells me that "we have control over our environment." the only control that we have shown to have is in how to break it. And, to use the line from the old corny margarine commercial, "It's not nice to fool [with] Mother Nature!"

For heavens sake, Chris is a Duke-ie, if anyone should believe in technology "saving us" it should be him.

But then again, Soylent Green does bring home a point...

I am long on Mother Nature, with both stocks and leaps.

And I hear Soylent Green tastes like chicken....

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population reduction

I've commented on this topic before, but it bears repeating.  It is well documented that birth rates go down when women are educated and have birth control.  Populations in most developed countries, including the US, are stable if not falling when immigration is not counted.  The solution is within our grasp.

Dogs, perhaps Soylent Green can be spiced up with some of your world famous peppers.

Doug

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I don't think much of

I don't think much of Beauchamp, honestly.  Give me my pasteurized milk, cheese and yogurt, and I'm a happy man.

I understand the exponential function, but thanks for the good video.  Martenson does it quite a bit more succinctly, though. I wish either would mention, though, that with increasing education levels people are simply less likely to choose to have children.  Bartlet laments the development of these advances in human quality of life in the left side list, and you might expect him to say that "of course controlling population by allowing any these natural pressures to act would be immoral"  but he doesn't.  I guess we should forgive him his lack of empathy, he is a physics prof ;p

The UN demographers project 9.3 billion people by 2050 as a middle-of-the-road estimate.  I think we'll have a major pandemic between now and then, which might give an unfortunate solution to that problem.  Or maybe we'll provide ducation to the women in the developing world, which is the best way to reduce birth rates.  However, if we are 9.3 billion by then, and due to oil scarcity we are unable to use fertilizers like we do now to (just barely) feed the world, producing enough food for everybody is going to be a real nightmare.  To make matters worse, climate change will most likely render much of our current farmland unusable by that time. Bartlett ends strong on thse lines, pointing out that it's global warming and the American lifestyle that are worse for Earth and human survival than developing-world population growth.

I don't see any way to get through the next century except by using technologies that many greens despise: nuclear power and genetic modification of crops.  These technologies understandably make people uncomfortable, but seeing mass starvation makes them more so.

So yes, I am new here and thanks for the welcome!  What is the general consensus, if there is one, about what to do about world population growth?

 

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Neo-Malthusian opinions

Smoothbrother

I agree with your comments. I find that these opinions and statements foment a fertile ground upon which totalitarian ideas such as China's one child policy are enacted. It pushes people to willingly give up their rights, in light of a lofty goal whereby alternative solutions are not pursued. Oftentimes this lofty goal is established as such in order to benefit the few, rather than the common good.

Just a few things that I see could very well make a difference in addressing the "population problem".

1. Local permaculture instead of Industrial Agriculture: Check out the case of the Dervaes family in Pasadena California (http://urbanhomestead.org/ ), by improving the quality of the soil, they have been able to produce 6000lbs of food on 1/10th acre.

2. Replant dry zones and desert: Geoff Lawton, a permaculture teacher from Australia ran a project in Jordan whereby he transformed a dry, salty area of semi-desert few people thought could grow anything. (

)

3. Improve the efficiency of sustainable energies: Whereas the wood stove would burn wood and a 30-60% efficiency, rocket stove heaters (

) burn wood at 90% efficiency. Some people have been able to consume as little as an 1/8th of what they previoiusly consumed to heat their house.

The real problem is not that there is overpopulation - but that for a variety of reasons (stereotypes, short term investment horizons) - we are not looking at all the alternatives in planning to deal with improving the resilience and productivity of our food system to properly feed an increasing population.

In my view, our future world will not be simply a super advanced technological reality, but a much simpler but extremely fertile natural world, whereby our understanding of what creates and sustains life is the cornerstone of our. 

John

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The Bartlett video.

Thanks for the Bartlett video, Vanityfox. I needed to see it again.

It should be compulsary viewing at least once a year by the entire population of the World.

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Vanityfox451
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Richard Heinberg ~ The Party's Over ...

Hello Isildur22,

I'm really glad that you took the time to thoroughly watch through Dr Bartletts lecture. As I stated earlier, Central to The Crash Course, you'll find Dr Bartlett's insistance to your understanding of the global influences of exponential growth. In fact, Chris both contacted, and made a public blog of his email to him back in December 2008, that I've linked here from the archives of the forum.

Worthy of note is the Learn button at the top of this page with the blue strip. Here you'll find Chris's Essential Books. In amongst that list you'll find that, along with The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann, you'll find Richard Heinbergs The Party's over. Chris has stressed there that these two books out of the list are the 'most crucial' to read, with his review that The Party's over is 'the gold standard of Peak Oil writing'. I am in full agreement with this, having read Heinbergs book cover to cover more than a few times, using his detailed information with my own lectures.

I was recently lucky enough to find a PDF copy [Link] of this book, though I do suggest you get the physical book quite cheaply into your hands through Amazon.com as soon as you can. In the mean time, the PDF copy is a useful tool for me in aiding you with your question : -

Isildur22 wrote:

What is the general consensus [at this forum], if there is one, about what to do about world population growth?

To gain an answer that I believe aligns well with the majority of long term forum writers here, go to page 193 of the book and read the short chapter entitled Food and Agriculture. I believe this will answer your question best, though I must stress that this isn't so much a what to do as much as a what is going to happen. Here is a short opening to it : -

Richard Heinberg ~ The Party's Over (Page 193)

Food and Agriculture

Throughout the 20th century, food production expanded dramatically in country after country, and virtually all of this increase was directly or indirectly attributable to energy inputs. Since 1940, the productivity of US farmland has grown at an average of 2% per year - roughly the same pace that by which oil consumption has increased. Overall, global food production approximately tripled during the 20th century, just keeping pace with population growth.

Modern industrial agriculture has become energy-intensive in every respect. Tractors and other farm machinery burn diesel fuel or gasoline; nitrogen fertilizers are produced from natural gas; pesticides and herbicides are synthesized from oil; seeds, chemicals, and crops are transported long distances by truck; and foods are often cooked with natural gas and packaged in oil-derived plastics before reaching the consumer. If food-production efficiency is measured by the ratio between the amount of energy input required to produce a given amount of food and the energy contained in that food, then industrial agriculture is by far the least efficient form of food production ever practiced. Traditional forms of agriculture produced a small solar-energy surplus: each pound of food contained somewhat more stored energy from sunlight than humans, often with the help of animals, had to expend in growing it. That meager margin was what sustained life. Today, from farm to plate, depending on the degree to which it has been processed, a typical food item may embody input energy between four and several hundred times its food energy. This energy deficit can only be maintained because of the availability of cheap fossil fuels, a temporary gift from the Earth?s geologic past. While the application of fossil energy to farming has raised productivity, income to farmers has not kept pace. For consumers, food is cheap; but farmers often find themselves spending more to produce a crop than they can sell it for. As a result, many farmers have given up their way of life and sought urban employment. In industrialized countries, the proportion of the population that farms full-time fell precipitously during the 20th century. In 1880, 70.5 percent of the population of the United States were rural; by 1910, the rural population had already declined to 53.7 percent. In the US today, there are so few full-time farmers that census forms for the year 2000 included no such category in their list of occupations.

 {Continued ...}

Paul

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Vanityfox451
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The Bartlett video.
Arthur Robey wrote:

Thanks for the Bartlett video, Vanityfox. I needed to see it again.

It should be compulsary viewing at least once a year by the entire population of the World.

Arthur,

You're very welcome. And as I've highlighted in your post above, you are, as ever, spot on ...

Paul

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smoothbrother
smoothbrother wrote:

@sofistek: It is very important to realise that what you are referring to as our human history is an opinion that might be shared by the majority of people today and that might be tought in school today, but it still is just an opinion. There are other opinions that are shared by many people. I, for instance happen to find many opinions of Nassim Haramin that relate to ancient civilasations (disclaimer: I might not agree with other views of him) very plausible, which are explained in this video from minute 05:15 onwards: 

(goes on into parts 26, 27 etc.). 

It is clear to me that humanity could be much better off already today with today's 'set of technologies'. With much better off I mean: much more resilient, much more caring, much more responsible, much higher living standards, far less wars, much happier, much healthier etc. Apart from that Nassim Haramin (and many others) make compelling cases that technology-wise we have far to improve as well, meaning there is still huge potential left for humanity to sustainably grow in numbers and, at the same time, be far more in line with nature.

I don't think I referred to human history, smoothbrother, only to the basics of carrying capacity. If the above is clear to you then all I can say is that you have a lot of research to do. I'm not sure what Nassim Haramin's ideas have to do with allowing population to grow "sustainably" but I found the first bit of that part of the video highly unconvincing - I didn't watch the rest, as a result. What ancient civilisations did or did not do doesn't seem relevant to the question of the carrying capacity of the earth. All the technology in the universe cannot alter the basic point that the condition of the environment and the net primary productivity of this planet are ultimately what defines the carrying capacity. We are already passing limits.

Growth is never sustainable, it can only be maintained for as long as the environmental conditions allow. If you haven't yet looked at that Albert Bartlett lecture, linked to elsewhere in this topic, do so. It is an eye opener.

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RNcarl
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Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote: RNcarl
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:
RNcarl wrote:

I finally figured out how to post from my iPad. Now there is some human ingenuity for you.

There will be a lot of pain and suffering long before we reach the limit of humans that the planet can sustain. Maybe we are already there - maybe not. That is NOT for me to decide.

What really really scares me is that someone would even think that we should "reduce" the population - by what means? Who gets to decide? To them I would say, "you die first". Who gets to decide who gets to have how many babies? Ask China what types of problems a single child family brings.

The simple fact is, whenever "man" tries to fiddle with the natural order of things, all he does is make a mess. GMO plants and cloned animals come to mind. Not to mention the disease industrialized meat production has caused. E. coli anyone?

Mother Nature is one pouty b-auch. She does not like to be fiddled with. I laugh every time someone tells me that "we have control over our environment." the only control that we have shown to have is in how to break it. And, to use the line from the old corny margarine commercial, "It's not nice to fool [with] Mother Nature!"

For heavens sake, Chris is a Duke-ie, if anyone should believe in technology "saving us" it should be him.

But then again, Soylent Green does bring home a point...

I am long on Mother Nature, with both stocks and leaps.

And I hear Soylent Green tastes like chicken....

 

I am sooo glad you get my humor Dogs.

On the way home last night, my son asked a question about those who "chew tobacco" and stated that while it is a vile and disgusting habit, not to mention the health risks, he wondered why it was packaged in a pouch and said that wouldn't it be better compressed into a bar? Where one could just bite off a hunk and chew? I chuckled and replied, "Someone already beat you to the idea son. Pouches are the 'new' way its packaged. When I was your age it was sold in 'bars' that a 'cut' was taken from and chewed."

Soylent Green was dispensed in bars was it not?

@ those who don't get my humor: As for "fiddling" with Mother nature, selective breeding, pruning, cross polinating, etc. while it is "fiddling" - it isn't "fornicating" Mother Nature. There is a difference, ask Bubba. He "fiddled" with Monica.

 

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Climate change, the mountain that our airplane is crashing into
Vanityfox451 wrote:

I believe this will answer your question best, though I must stress that this isn't so much a what to do as much as a what is going to happen. Here is a short opening to it : -  Paul

That's the attitude I object to most  from a large portion of people on this site and sites like it.  Maybe I'm too young, maybe it's that I'm a scientist, or maybe having little kids  helps, but I just can't be so pessimistic. Peak fossil energy will be unpleasant and we'll change our lifestyles and our energy sources, although it concerns me and that's why I like coming to this site.  However, there are things we can do. The way I see it, we'll have nuclear energy for hundreds of years using thorium and other nuclear fuels, then we'll have deuterium/tritium helium (hot) fusion up and running (if interested, see this video: 

http://blog.ted.com/2009/12/22/fusion_is_energ/

Peak debt is a major problem for the world economy in the short term, but not a game ender. 

I try to keep in mind that for many of these authors (Heinberg, Kunstler, Martenson), peak information and "peak fear" is their business and we're their customers.  I'm sure they believe what they're selling, but you must admit there is a conflict of interest here.

Most unfortunately, the third E gets short shrift from Martenson: "unknowable but certainly significant economic burdens, due to shrinking resources and other systemic pressures, at the same time that the other two “E”s will be clamoring for your money and attention."  Truth is, we know what the significant burdens will be due to, and that's climate change.  During chapter 18, he goes out of his way to avoid weighing in on climate change.  That's because (to continue the cynicisim) he would alienate customers by discussing it, since about half the American public don't accept climate change.

Climate change is the mountain that our airplane is crashing into, and it appears that few people on this site even believe the 98% of climate scientists who warn us that it would be a game ender if we did nothing to curb greenhouse emissions.  Now, peak fossil energy and climate change prevention have the same solutions: increased efficiency and other environmental footprint reductions through lifestyle changes, use of renewable energy now and in the long term and nuclear energy in the short term.  It would be great if the two groups of concerned citizens could unite!  Of course, for that you'd have to listen to more research scientists and fewer dismal economists ;p

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Vanityfox451
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Isildur22,Can I first

Isildur22,

Can I first assure you that age has absolutely nothing to do with these subjects. Over the three years that I've read the information posted by members at this forum, and of my writing here since registering in late December 2008; of the years before I knew of this forums existence - and as I found then, and find now - only one in a hundred are really paying attention to these issues, and bearly two or three out of one hundred of those remaining lowly 1% are actually doing anything constructive with their time.

Will you trust me by assuming a new role. This role requires you to close out all of the organisations, and all of the camps that people such as I can be placed in? Neither left or right; up or down; rich or poor; old or young; educated or ignorant, and take from what I say next - not from a bias from any of these confounding groups, but from an objective stance built upon years of studying the inter-play of each of the issues combined as a whole?

You asked me a question earlier : -

Isildur22 wrote:

So yes, I am new here and thanks for the welcome!  What is the general consensus, if there is one, about what to do about world population growth?

Based on my own study - over many sites, books and films - I answered you as best I felt I could with Richard Heinbergs book The Party's Over. I do not expect you to read this book and take what is written by him as gospel. What I expect of you - with your scientific background - is to break down each and every issue within it and find a medium that mostly fits with what facts you can draw from it, by being neither of opinion or belief. It is a grounding book, filled with information that in many cases I've found that people had not as yet considered many of the facts within it. This I feel is useful to you.

I cannot countermand the types of bias that are written within this forum that I wouldn't put my name to. Firstly, I vehemently disagree with those that believe climate change is not caused by humanity, but, in my honest opinion, with the heavy use of the media in the United States, and with billions of dollars pumped into dis-imformation by think-tank organisations supplying propaganda inspired astroturf organisations from such deep pocketed individuals as the Koch brothers, the US as a whole appears to have been brainwashed into going back to sleep and allowing no great expenditure to be invested into seriously vital and necessary sustainable infrastructure, and is instead plowing revenue into recreating an abominably ridiculous assurance to the American public that the world can wind back to the early 1980's, where Reagan cast the shackles of double dime speed-limits, telling America "it's morning again". Here's a nice new word for you for your dictionary if you hadn't already realised I'm writing to you from England - Yes - Bollocks!

More Bollocks! - and counter to many of the writers at this forum is my opinion that -  A country continually building an infrastructure of nearly a thousand American bases around the world, chewing through over half of the income tax of Americans to the tune of one and half trillion dollars a year (how many zero's is that?), when history has proven time and again with the likes of the Romans, the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the Spanish, the Russian, and the Germans etal- that if a nation finds itself in a position where it is spreading itself thinner and thinner around the globe for the resources to maintain the illusion of certainty for its population, eventually - as has previously happened to the former USSR in its quest for nation building - the US is heading most definately for a similar fate.

Now, with this in mind, how would you approach a refraiming of your reply now : -

Isildur22 wrote:

That's the attitude I object to most  from a large portion of people on this site and sites like it.  Maybe I'm too young, maybe it's that I'm a scientist, or maybe having little kids  helps, but I just can't be so pessimistic.

In regard to this site, the subject of Global Climate Change has continued to be a hot button subject, and has ended up with a solitary stand-alone thread grand-fathered in. You can find that Here : -

Global Climate Change: Is It Worth Brushing Off

In my honest opinion, I believe Dr Chris Martenson did the right thing not to make this subject front and centre to his on-line Crash Course three hour seminar. If he had, it would have eaten out from underneath it any attempt to portray the other great many issues he'd framed within his subject matter, and we would therefore not be holding a written conversation five thousand or so miles apart now if he had. The forum wouldn't exist in the schale and scope it is today. It is a really good way to see just how invasive the political sway of a subject can be framed if enough private money can be thrown at a policy that creates a population that self-polices and therefore sits on its hands - splintered off into so many camps that each of those camps bearly makes the minimum squeak heard in the mainstream before it is pummelled back down by dis-information.

The same can also be said of the military, which is most definately destroying any remaining attempts to reduce the chances of "a war to end all wars", by creating such an opportunity in spades while the resources needed to support the American nation are re-directed away with yet more propaganda that splinters and seperates any voices from loudly proclaimng that cutting libraries, maintaining a health-care system that only the rich can afford, smashing the education system with a policy of insurmountable and unpayable debt through student loans for jobs not invested in, outsourcing American jobs and reducing the present growing crop of teenagers and twenty-somethings into a greatly shortened life-span filled with poverty.

If you've yet to find the definative thread that gets to the marrow (In My Opinion) of the mad inconsistencies of war-mongery, I urge you to take a long and weaving protractive journey here : -

Timeline/Stages For Collapse of our Way of Life

Now, lest I should be seen to miss a thing from your post, and against anything other that I've written  - what I've written above pales into insignificance when you consider that it is isn't electrical power that is the greater requirement for the US as a whole, but that of liquid fuels to maintain them. The infrastructure in the US is entirely dependent on 65% of its daily usage - amounting to roughly 20 million barrels of oil a day - of which roughly two thirds to three-qurters of which is imported from foreign nations that have bases either circling or inside their lands. Applying scientific logic to the framing of Time, Scale and Cost then, building hundreds of nuclear power stations around the country, moving vital remaining fossil fuel resources in creating an energy supply to a country that will also require using untold amounts of energy rebuilding the transport system for a country devised on the bases of suburban settings will bearly get but a few million of the 311 million citizens mobile.

Much more impotantly - food transportation. A quarter of this 20 million barrel daily US quota is for food production, that of course includes a massive export strategy that creates dependence of foreign nations as a food weapon, aligned against an array of those countries resource exports. Against this backdrop you can surmise for yourself exactly what type of knife-edge this fifty-year fossil-fuel inspired green revolution has had built into the cake with the global peak of fossil fuels.

The more you read, the more you can maintain the fact that it isn't about how optimistic or pesimistic the subject matter is that I prescribe. If what ever the subject, if it is grounded in reality and built upon facts - if it is what it is - and from it opportunity can be positively created - then that is what I give you as a gift of my time. Time so pressing that I'm not even going back to tidy this writing by line, or spell check for want of written credibility. I've written this as a stream of personal thoughts in the hope they'll be found useful for both you and those who also read this.

I have little time to argue with you over fine details, or what approximates a camp of one type or another, and urge you to dissect from what I've written what you may. Draw from it what you wish to keep, and what you wish to cast as pointless, but most importantly, and with each step of the way, ask yourself again and again like mantra - "Why would I assume this particular point holds no value?"

Take Care,

Paul

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