GRANTHAM: We're Headed For A Disaster Of Biblical Proportionshttp://www.businessinsider.com/were-headed-for-a-disaster-of...Summary of the SummaryThe world is using up its natural resources at an alarming rate, and this has caused a permanent shift in their value. We all need to adjust our behavior to this new environment. It would help if we did it quickly.Overpopulation?What to do about it?Very interesting.
Overpopulation?What to do about it?Very interesting.China had an interesting solution. But one most people find unacceptable. So our population will continue to grow, and there will continue to be more starving people than ever before (because we simply can't feed them all), and deforestation will continue (and top-soil erosion) in the vain effort to try to to feed them.This will work itself out. I guarantee it. It will be incredibly (phenomenally) ugly, but it will self-correct.You think wars over hydrocarbon sludge are bad? Wait till potable water becomes scarce...
Overpopulation?What to do about it?Educate women and the birth rate drops below replacement.
o our population will continue to grow, and there will continue to be more starving people than ever before (because we simply can't feed them all), and deforestation will continue (and top-soil erosion) in the vain effort to try to to feed them.Yet as an example the U.S. has zero or negative population growth without immigrants....of course certain religions fight tooth and nail to insure the population increase keeps growing. Not sure why.Developed nations with strong economies/social safety nets seem to have zero or even negative growth....and reductions in growth are seen in undeveloped/semi-developed ones where women are educated on contraception and are allowed to use it.Not that all is completely hopeful...after all we still are the eaters of oil, coal, and natural gas and eventually those will run out.md
Grantham: The world is using up its natural resources at an alarming rate, and this has caused a permanent shift in their value. We all need to adjust our behavior to this new environment. It would help if we did it quickly.Humph. I have read articles like this in every decade of my life. They almost never come true. Here are some comments, one for each graph:Graph #1: This graph is copied directly from a graph that I contributed to Wikipedia some years ago, with minor additions. Current demographic wisdom suggests that the world's population will follow a trajectory in between the blue and green lines, reaching a maximum around 2050-60 or so. After that it heads downwards. Scary articles about an impending "population implosion" are already appearing. Grantham didn't get the memo.Graphs #2 and #3: Grantham's "Great Paradigm Shift" looks like just another fluctuation to me. The variance of the fluctuations is obviously increasing as a function of the size of the world's economy. I see nothing alarming here.Graph #4: This graph would look a lot more reassuring if (a) it were extended out to, say, 2100, and (b) it included nuclear, solar, wind, and biomass. This is just cherry-picking.Graph #5: This graph has been debunked so many times it isn't even funny anymore. Observe: it describes *only* conventional oil. Add in other kinds of energy, and it looks just fine.Graph #6 and #7: <yawn>Graph #8: Okay, I see crop yields growing at rates that track very closely with population growth. Not only is that not dangerous, it is what one would expect from a stable system.Graph #9: <yawn>Graph #10: What skyrocketing? All I see are normal fluctuations.Given the tumultuous century that we just lived through, and the breakneck pace of modernization in the former "Third World", these graphs all look reassuringly stable to me. One could easily argue that they should show far more instability. I see a world economy that is reacting appropriately -- even admirably -- to advances in industrialization, mechanization, electronics, and public health.I suspect that Grantham's fundamental mistake is to confuse "reserves" with "recoverable resources". That's a sophomoric mistake, and it is precisely the same one that earned Paul Ehrlich so much well-deserved ridicule. This is all a tempest in a teapot.Loren
Given the tumultuous century that we just lived through, and the breakneck pace of modernization in the former "Third World", these graphs all look reassuringly stable to me. One could easily argue that they should show far more instability-LorenYet do not many of the graphs, or the underlying measureable (like food generation) depend highly on a stable climate?And if the climate becomes more variable, destructive, and un-predictable would not the charts become useless? Except as history of past stable climate that is.We have a certain amount of elasticity in our systems, food, energy, and water yet most of the predictions/ideas/hypothesis on the results of a major climate shift (towards hotter/drier) indicate we quickly chew up that margin.Especially without some amount of worldwide cooperation.Also crop yields are very dependent on climate (rainfall, temperatures, etc.) and depend heavily on artificial fertilizers which are made from Natural Gas and have seen large increases in cost. Poorer countries are dropping artificial fertilizers at a rapid rate because they no longer can subsidize the fertilizers for the small farmers...and large mono-culture agri-biz is not always suited to the climates, cultures, or economic levels of many countries.Or so it seems from my studies of the last few years.The Green revolution (and artificial fertilizers) bought us a respite not a certainty. More grist for the mill as far as ideas.md (Do we even track soil productivity worldwide anymore?)
MD: Yet do not many of the graphs, or the underlying measureable (like food generation) depend highly on a stable climate?The food system surely does depend on a stable climate. The rest not so much.Part of my unhappiness with Grantham comes from his drastic overemphasis on resources, and his equally drastic underemphasis on climate. I think his analysis is completely backwards: the real threat is climate, while resource shortages are actually less severe now than in previous centuries.LC
while resource shortages are actually less severe now than in previous centuries.Then why do I keep seeing pictures of hollow eyed little waifs who are starvig to death?
Then why do I keep seeing pictures of hollow eyed little waifs who are starving to death?I assume you are kidding... but perhaps not. Seriously:1. You haven't seen pictures of starving children from the centuries prior to 1850 because photography was not invented. Starvation was severe, even catastrophic, over most of the world through most of the last 1000 years. We are doing much better today.2. Grantham's article was about the effects of resources on the economy, not starving children. I was responding to his article. Starvation follows entirely different dynamics, with different causes and different effects. The two problems are almost entirely independent.I enjoy this kind of thread, but as usual I actually have to work this morning. I will revisit the thread tonight at the earliest.Loren
Certainly we are "doing better". But it seems to me that our population has a tendency to expand just beyond the available resources (sustainability being a separate, but related, question). With far fewer food resources and a much smaller population, starvation was a real problem. Famines were common. Today, we produce vast quantities of food...but it's not enough because population growth has out-paced such gains.Factor in sustainability, and I (in my totally non-expert opinion) think we are headed for a major crash. One that will likely result in significant population reduction. I know you're more optimistic, but I liken it to Easter Island. As resources run out, things get ugly and population declines. I know there are a few competing theories about Easter Island in that respect, but that does seem to be one of the more popular ones.1poorguy
You haven't seen pictures of starving children from the centuries prior to 1850 because photography was not invented. Starvation was severe, even catastrophic, over most of the world through most of the last 1000 years. We are doing much better today.That's true. But if you happen to be one of the starving the point is moot. Perspective is so important. I agree with you that the causation of starvation has different causes than overpopulation. But overpopulation is a factor. Since we could actually feed everyone now, and we don't, then why would one think technology will overcome human nature going forward?
Stop shipping, sales, and resturant waste...WHOA, solve world hunger. Sigh.(Not that simple I know, but some countries use way more than their share, and I am not talking about just because of obesity.)
LorenCobb: while resource shortages are actually less severe now than in previous centuries.goofnoff: Then why do I keep seeing pictures of hollow eyed little waifs who are starvig to death?Two subjects near and dear to Loren's heart, I expect. Politics and corruption.India now allocates enough food and coupons to its people to feed them. Somehow, a large portion of those coupons never see their intended recipients.Here in the U.S., it's politically popular to support policies to starve children and seniors and other "leeches" on the economy.rj
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