What is the Sustainable Human Population for this Planet?

First and foremost, I must state that this write-up is hatched out of my own little brain and is not intended to be truly scientific. It probably does not even qualify as a SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess).

That said, perhaps it will ring true through plain ordinary logic with a few facts mixed in. Please let me know where I have gone wrong on this. I have attempted to deliberately over-estimate the population to come up with what would be considered a less unpleasant number by all but the most misanthropic among us.

The first number I would like to introduce is the number 30 million. All other calculations will be based on this, so I would suggest it as your first point of attack if you are trying to disagree with my findings. This number was quoted by Jared Diamond in Collapse as a high but still conservative estimate for the number of humans on the North American continent prior to European invasion and conquest. (It’s not discovery of a new place when there are already people living there.)

The next concept I would like to consider is what the total population of a hypothetical Earth would be if the humans the world over at some point in history actually all had about the same level of technology as the native North Americans prior to contact with Europe. This was clearly never the case on this planet, I realize. People in different regions had very different levels of technology and civilization. However, on my hypothetical Earth, all people share the same level of technology as the Native North Americans and have populated all major land masses except Antarctica for obvious reasons.

For this calculation, I will essentially be taking the population of North America and its land mass and performing a simple extrapolation to the world. I will be using the land masses as quoted on wikipedia, which will be another good point for dispute if you’d like to dispute this logic. This means that I am assuming a worldwide population of around 3.16 people per square mile (from 30,000,000 people / 9,500,000 square miles).

Using the number 55,419,294 square miles, I only got 175 million or so people. I did not include the tiny islands where wikipedia claimed the list might not be complete anyway. In addition, certain tropical areas would support far more people than the arctic. North America has rather a lot of arctic in Canada. So, even though Eurasia also has a lot of arctic, let’s just increase this by quite a bit to about 300 million people. It’s a rounder figure and accounts for greater density of population in some areas. It should also quiet some of the attempts to say that my number is horribly low. (It also comes closer to what I came up with in my head once going continent by continent without really knowing their sizes and has one more advantage that will come up later.)

So, now the question becomes, was that original population in North America sustainable? Well, that depends on your definitions. The Anasazi appear to have caused quite a large desert, or at least enlarged one that may have been there before. Within a thousand years of the Native American discovery of the Americas, going by the still generally accepted time frame for the discovery of about 14,000 years ago, 83% of the large North American mammal species went extinct. Also in the time frame and with similar technology, 87% of the large South American mammals went extinct.

Some might argue that that is not a proof of lack of sustainability. However, given my misanthropic principles, I think that causing mass extinctions is not a sustainable thing to do. Even the huge bison herds that greeted Europeans here may have already been in slight decline. Though shooting the bison from train windows appears to have been a far faster way to kill them off than the natives were doing.

So, I would argue that the 30 million people in North America were already not living sustainably. If true, this puts the limit that of human population that the planet can sustain long term, i.e. thousands and tens of thousands of years and longer, at something under 300 million people. It means that above 300 million people we will not be sustainable with the level of technology used by Native North Americans prior to contact with Europeans.

Currently, we have 22 times that number on the planet.

This was the other advantage of the 300 million estimate. It divides evenly into our current population of 6.6 billion. Our lifestyle today takes a far greater toll on the planet than ever before and is still only increasing our per person impact on the planet.

Is this just disasturbation? Or, might I actually have a point here? (It’s not easy living inside my brain.)

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156 Responses to What is the Sustainable Human Population for this Planet?

  1. Misanthropic Scott says:

    I have been asked whether the sustainable population number is an active goal or just for the sake of argument.

    To that I would respond that for me, it is primarily for the sake of argument. I have made a permanent decision not to procreate, making me a member of the voluntary human extinction movement.

    However, I am interested in the number of people the planet can truly support. My gut feel is that the number is probably closer to 6 or 60 million than it is to 6 billion.

    There are a number of ways we can get to that point:

    1. We could limit our population voluntarily by having zero or one child per family.
    2. We can continue to cut into the rainforest, unleashing horrific viruses that mutate very quickly, as is normal for rainforest viruses. AIDS, hanta, marburg, and ebola are all examples of this type of “solution” to our problem. This would not be pleasant, to say the least.
    3. We can eat out our resource base. We are already past both peak grain production and peak ocean fisheries output. Widespread starvation would then result. This will also be rather unpleasant for our species.
    4. We can increase warfaring, which is already being done. Unfortunately, this tends to use even more resources than the people that have been killed off. I should note that this is another unpleasant situation.
    5. We can continue to overuse fresh water. We can continue to flush our toilets, wash our cars, and hose down our sidewalks with fresh potable drinking water. We can continue to water lawns, which are a huge waste of water. We are already depleting our underground aquifers in many parts of the world more quickly than they are replenished. As has already been seen, when the water runs out, desertification and obviously reduced food production are the result. This is yet another unpleasant route to population reduction.

    There is also a strong possibility that we will go through our resources and fight so vehemently that we will actually cause human extinction.

    So, the question of a sustainable human population and how to get there voluntarily seems to be one of importance to our species.

    Further, as we have already proven ourselves willing to take many other species down with us, it may be an important question for many other species incapable of speaking for themselves.

    The sixth great extinction is already well along its way. It is already worse than the extinction that killed off the non-avian dinosaurs 65.3 million years ago. Large warm blooded species tend to fare poorly in mass extinctions. Humans are a large warm blooded species.

    I think the question needs to be asked and answered and a means to get to that population as painlessly as possible found.

  2. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Here is a good graph of human population over time, along with a brief discussion of the planet’s carrying capacity of humans. Unfortunately, I am still having trouble finding a scientific study estimating the number of people that the planet truly can support.

    http://tinyurl.com/4yxue

  3. Rick Lambert says:

    I think you are right on track. My reference point/analysis is not any more “scientitific” than yours, as it is based on observatoin of our world and society today and a few very memorable learning experiences or books over the years. These include a beginning college biology class where population curves was discussed in the context of resources vs. sustainabiliity, a very technical/analytical book I have from a MIT study in the 70’s and observation over the last 30 years or so on what is going on with our environment.

    The Green movement gaining momentum now focusing on global warming seems to finally be a step in the right direction, but I think in the end, only another incremental step that could exacerbate the final day of reckoning. Historically people have been able to capitalize on technology improvements to be mroe and mroe efficeint, but this has just fostered more and more per capita consumption.

    I believe that humanity WILL arrive at a sustainable population, and I think the numbers are probably fairly close to what the author states. However, I think the ways we will get there are basically just two… By choice and relatively painlessly or imposed on us and a Mad Max scenario. I don’t believe that the disease scenario will solve the problem, as at best it wipes out half or so of our population, we are still over sustainability and can reproduce back to original levels in a generatio nor two……..less than 50 years. Not to mention the horrible pain an suffering that in the end does nothing to solve the core problem.

    The By-Choice solution might seem draconian, but could be essentially painless, and is based on a simple fact… Our population could drop from the billions to ZERO in about one hundred years with one change…No Reproduction. In the same manner, if worldwide for one or two generations if we limited reproduction to only a very small percenttage of people, we would be where we needed to be for many hundreds of years.

    There are a million ways this could be done that would be3 very good for the earth, for humanity in the long term and for individual people. If 90-95 percent of people did not reproduce for one or two generations (40 years or so), we would set in motion a process where the population would undergo a smooth, steady decline. I think it would be a very pleasant experience for humanity. In this scenario, every child born would be treated as a treasure, not just by parents buty by the whole society. With gradual decline, no longer would there be a need for everyone to compete for their piece of the pie…resources would become more and more plentiful over time… Therefore, incentives for greed would decrease. We would no lnoger need to be continously creating more infrastructure such as highways, buildings, etc. as there would be less and less requirement. We could instead focus on sustaining what was good and already in place. The huge amount of resources and time parents currently expend on raising children could instead be utilized to have a much easier life over time, as existing intrastructure became more and more available, less and less utilized.

    The one part of this that would be a very hard sell indeed would be one fact…. It would probably be impossible to attain without some from of mass sterilization. Further, the single biggest outcry against the idea would probably be that such an idea would be very difficult to do without some form of elitism…. The rich repsoduce, the poor don’t….
    Underlying all the difficulty will be man’s biological urge to resproduce.

    I believe that the issues above could be addressed, if enough people recognized the criticality of doing so. I don’t believe that mass sterilization should be mandatory for individuaals, nor should it be allowed to be set up so that only the rich are exempt… Some might argue that the rich shold be allowed to reproduce as they have shown themselves to be the most successful, I would argue back that monetary success is only one way to succeed, and only by the existing socioeconomic order. In order for hmanity to be in the best positiono for long-term survival, we must encourage as much genetic diversity as possible.

    I believe that the way to do it is at an age where people can both rerproduce and make decisions for themselves, say 15 or 16, they be given the choice to be sterilized if they desire. Doing so should bring HUGE positive incentives…. Free college education, free food and housing, or something of that order. This should coincide with massive public awareness efforts, similar to non-smoking initiatives in the U.S. Initially, it would be difficult for the world to bear the costs of these incentives, but over a short period, decreasing demands on infrastructure and increased resources not devoted to child-rearing would offset this. Also, I don’t believe that people are inherently lazy…. Even if all basic needs were met, most people would conitinue to work or otherwise contribute to society, simply because they want to contribute.
    Perhaps the positive incentives could be combined with a lottery type system that granted the ame incentives to a very small percentage of people, to offset elitist tendencies.

    Another huge benefit of this :soft landing” approach would be that with a graduated yet rapid drop in population, there would be a large population over a significatn period of time available to help in reducing harm to the environment of such an event. A very sizeable part of the populatio could devote itself to rehabilitating our existing infrastructure such as factories, nuclear power plants, dams, etc. to minimize long-term damage to the environmet. If we lost the necessary amount of population overnight, the environmental damage would be monumental; if we “withdrew” slowly, we could mimize that damage and rehabilitate existing infrastructure to support us for a very long time.

    I believe my utopian thoughts on this are very attainable…. All it would take is an in-your-face complete dedication to one concept.. Thre rest would fall into place. And for our posterity, life would be an amazing thing, where people could capitalize on all the advances that have been made by our ancestors and have a life where they have all of their basic needs easily met, so that they can devote their lives to things they really want to do, AND that advance the human race at a rate multiples over what can be attained now.

    I envisio those children born in this environment to be blessed beyond belief. They would be treasured beyoned belief by the whole society, which in turn would lead to high self-esteem and maximum self-attainment.

    All of this with almost zero pain and suffering by anyone, anywhere.

    Sorry this got so long-windred. Also, PLEASE feel free to shoot any holes in my arguement you can find. I see a catastrophic situation, developing, and only see one good answer. I would love it if someone saw a major flaw in my arguement, as it would tell me I need to relook the whole topic and reeformulate my thoughts….

    Please feel free to respond directly to me at richarddeanlambert@hotmail.com

  4. Rick Lambert says:

    Per my previous long post, one more apology, for the spelling mistakes. I typed this in one sitting, with very small text on my computer, so could not see what I had typed very well and they slipped through….

  5. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Looks like I’m onto something here. Too bad for all of us.

    http://tinyurl.com/35xmpz

  6. bobbo says:

    Scott – you say: “I am still having trouble finding a scientific study estimating the number of people that the planet truly can support.”

    I say it is “impossible” to have a study of this issue. Same with climate warming. You can’t do a controlled group, you can’t do a before/after without a control.

    All you have is “modeling”. Thats not a bad thing, just wondering what you are actually looking for as my google search on “carrying capacity earth” turned up 775,000 entries.

    Many experts can be found along with their assumptions and equations. Turns out these various experts put the CC at from 1 billion to 44 billion, with the average estimates between 6-9 billion. What I find interesting is even the 44 billion seems “limited” as its model calculates the 2500 calories per day per human and divides that into the ariable land mass of the world and assumed best agricultural practices. I assume that number would go up if he had included hyponics??? In other words, 2 things==the CC is unknowable, estimates are based on what assumptions you make.

    Watching tv over the weekend, sure seems like the ocean fisheries will collapse before global warming takes over? Huge and growing dead areas of the ocean, native fish species decimated or gone and replaced with jellyfish. I guess thats why the models are based on agriculture and not fishing====AND THEN COMES BEE COLONY COLLAPSE!

    I don’t think we have to worry about global warming. We will do our culture in alot sooner than that!!!!!

  7. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Well, if the modeling is impossible, as you say, then my extrapolation from North America at a known time of unsustainable population should be at least as correct as anything else.

    As for global warming, it will accelerate any problems with the ocean. Warmer water dissolves less oxygen, thus supporting less life. The reason tropical waters are so beautifully clear is because they don’t have all of the organisms in them that temperate and colder waters do.

    So, what happens as the oceans warm? The clear tropical relatively lifeless waters of the tropics move poleward. Since the oceans are widest where the planet is widest, the narrower portions closer to the poles which support the most life will continue to shrink dramatically. This will only exacerbate the problems of overfishing, just as the hypoxic dead zones caused by all of the fertilizer runoff do.

  8. bobbo says:

    Are you sleepy?

    Modeling is perfectly possible==as stated. I’ll leave it to you to reread what I think is NOT subject to proof in a scientific sense?

    Re your North American extrapolation, that “model” only works to estimate a completely non-technical, non-scientific culture?==ie, totally irrelevant.

    Global warming will NOT accelerte any problem with the ocean. It will merely favor certain fewer species over many others. You’d like it if you were jellyfish or phytoplankton–which may be more an issue of available nutrients rather than oxygen?

    How do you define “wide” on a globe? Rotate that globe 90 dgrees and do your wide estimation again?

  9. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    Re your North American extrapolation, that “model” only works to estimate a completely non-technical, non-scientific culture?==ie, totally irrelevant.

    It’s only totally irrelevant if you don’t realize how much greater our per capita footprint on the planet is in a technical society such as ours. This is precisely my point, in fact. Even at a lower technology, even with a dramatically lower per capita footprint and resource usage, the planet cannot support 300 million people. Perhaps with current technology the sustainable limit will be much lower. Perhaps with current technology, 30 million would be way too many.

    How do you define “wide” on a globe? Rotate that globe 90 dgrees and do your wide estimation again?

    If you look at a globe, not a map, you will see that the polar regions have dramatically less surface area than the “wide” tropical latitudes. Cut at a nice even point using longitude lines, which are what is important here. Is there more surface area between 45 degrees N and 45 degrees S or is there more surface area above 45 degrees N and below 45 degrees S. Certainly, the surface area in the middle, the warmer latitudes, is much higher. As the waters warm to tropical temperatures farther and farther away from the equator, there will be a large loss of high oxygen ocean habitat.

    You’re correct about other species in the ocean though. Unfortunately, these other species are less useful to us as a species. Many are actually life forms that were common in pre-cambrian times, were outcompeted and eaten by today’s more well-known species, and are now making a comeback. People in some areas of the world are already getting sick from the breathing the ocean spray that contains such life forms.

  10. bobbo says:

    Scott – – do you really think a non technical/scientific culture can support more people than its opposite? One factor of sustainability is ability to grow food. Who can grow more food>>>

    1-Scavengers, or
    2-poke a hole in the dirt with a stick, or
    3-pull a plow behind a waterbuffalo, or
    4-pull a plow behind a steam engine, or
    5-pull a plow behine 10 gas engines driven by gps controlled computers, or
    6-create balanced paste in the laboratory?

    Preventing disease is a factor in sustainability. Who can support a larger capacity>>>
    1. When ill, go into a sweat lodge and wait it out, or
    2- Use public health concepts to use clean water and good waste disposal, or
    3-Germ theory applied and vaccines used, or
    4-genetic engineering used to prevent disease(s) entirely?

    And so forth. Your concept of sustainability is uniquely individualized and not cognizant of “the many factors” that affect carrying capacity?

    As to surface areas, a square foot at the north pole is the same size as a square foot at the equator. Now, I’m no mathmetician, but I drew a circle and put an “X” on top of it representing the below and above 45 degrees. Looks to me the areas above and below are exactly the same size?

  11. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    It really didn’t occur to me that anyone might think that a technical society can support more people. Remember, I’m talking about the long term. I don’t mean a generation or three. I mean thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of years. If we want to be a long lived species, we need to think in these terms. We’ve only been on the planet for at most 200,000 years. Do we want to compete with horseshoe crabs at 400,000,000? Turtles? Sharks? Or, do we want to go extinct within the next 200 years and barely make it into the fossil record?

    Who can grow more food is the wrong question. The right question is who has a bigger per capita impact on the planet?

    After your food is grown (and after the average 21st century american eats on the order of twice as much as necessary, you still need land for your roads. You still need land for your strip mining for metals. You still need land for mountaintop removal of coal. You still need land for far more house per person than would have been the case. You still need land for pipelines. You still need land for oil wells. You still need land for windmills (I hope). You still need land for solar panels (I hope). You still need land for petroleum refineries and patroleum byproduct production like plastics. You still need land for nuclear power plants. You still need land for waste disposal.

    Do you really think that we have lower impact on the planet than pre-Columbus North Americans?

    Take this quiz. Then tell me how many planet Earths we’d need if everyone lived like you. I’m down to 3.3. That is not sustainable. And, the quiz may assume that humans and the species we know we need are all that the planet needs to have. We need a healthy biosphere. I don’t know if we still have one.

    http://www.earthday.net/footprint/index.asp

    As for surface area, just tell me how many square feet are 45+ degrees from the pole versus how many are within 45 degrees of the pole. Note that we are splitting the globe by latitude, not by pie chunks. This link has a good visual. Note that the surface area of the top 45 – 0 degrees comes up 2.9 E 7 square miles. The surface area of a complete hemisphere from 0 – 90 degrees, comes up 9.8 E 7 square miles, more than three times the size. So, more than two thirds (more precisely, around 70%) of the earth’s surface is between the equator and 45 degrees. Less than one third (more precisely around 30%) is above 45 degrees.

  12. bobbo says:

    Scott, you say: “Who can grow more food is the wrong question. The right question is who has a bigger per capita impact on the planet?”==NO!

    The Heading of your post and my response is to this question: “What is the Sustainable Human Population for this Planet?”

    Two different questions, discussions, answers.

    We must be wrapped up in some semantic miscommunication–something to do with square area of a globe vs meridians? I’ll let it go.

  13. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Sorry bobbo,

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. The sustainable human population is very much dependent on having a healthy biosphere. We are part of nature and cannot live without it.

    Thus far, we have earned our name as the catastrophic cause of the sixth mass extinction on this planet. This is not sustainable. I do not believe humans can continue to kill six species an hour and survive.

    We are a large warm blooded species. Large warm blooded species fare very poorly during mass extinction events. The question of ecosystem sustainability and the question of maximum sustainable human population are intimately intertwined.

    For the area, it really isn’t semantic. And, it’s an important point for the oceans. You really should at least check out the link. That you speak of meridians means that you are thinking longitude, not latitude. That is likely the source of the discrepancy.

  14. bobbo says:

    Scott–words remain a core interest of mine. What they mean and how we think with them, etc.

    Just because 2 issues are intertwined, does not mean they are the same thing. Difficult to discuss/model any issue without good hard definitions as well.

    Now, this is all to your request for input on how to arrive at>>>>>>>what?

    A==How many humans can the earth support if the resources are roughly equally utilized by all? -or-

    B==How many humans can the earth support if wildlife species are also given enough land/resources to continue in the same numbers/number of species as today/yesterday? -or-

    C==How many humans can the earth support if humans have no negative (ie, discernable?) impact on the earth at all?

    You slip between/among atleast these 3 different intertwined issues. I’d just like to join the discussion you actually want to have?

    BTW, in the few hours I have spent googling the various “carrying capacity earth” results, none of them talk about maintaining bio-diversity. So that to me forms the core of a second interesting subject==by how much should we allow the reduction of the carrying capacity of the earth in order to maintain how much “wild” life?

    The gamut is probably bookended by yourself and Bubba? You wanting all the species maintained, and Bubba wanting them all removed so that he can live in a spaceship orbiting mars?

  15. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    From your choices of topics, C is completely impossible. A single human will have some impact on the planet, as does a single lion, a single squirrel, etc.

    It’s hard for me to pick between A and B because it is at the same time, neither and both.

    I do not doubt that discussions of carrying capacity have not taken all factors into account. That is one of the reasons I started this thread.

    The real core question is:

    How many people can this planet sustain with only minor fluctuations in the population over time, vast periods of time, time beyond any our species has dealt with before? And that is the crux.

    Once the very long view is taken, millions of years, hundreds of millions of years, 4.5 billion years until the sun goes nova and engulfs the planet, real geologically significant periods of time, the question of a healthy biosphere with robust biodiversity becomes a real and serious issue.

    We are linked to the other species on the planet through the food chain, the hydrological cycle, and the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchanges of plants and animals. (There are probably other more subtle links as well, but these should make the point.)

    So, our real disagreement is that while you are trying to limit the scope of the conversation, I am trying to broaden it. All of the factors that go into making a habitable biosphere are intimately connected to the life span not of humans as individuals, but of humans as a species.

    I also feel it is immoral to recklessly commit speciescide left and right. However, I would consider the morality of that as another topic, one about who is and who is not granted moral considerability, the buzzword used in this other type of discussion.

    For this topic, I would consider the mass extinctions we cause simply as an indicator of instability in our ecosystem caused by us. in order to be sustainable for the long term, we must reach an equilibrium that results in a healthy biosphere. We’re obviously not there at present.

  16. bobbo says:

    Scott–I agree with everything you have posted—-except—the notion I’m trying to disagree with you. I’m just trying to figure out what model of “carrying capacity” you are trying to build? Its still a bit vague—like a “garden of eden” earth?

    Hypo—earth is supporting 44 Billion people–energy from the solar wind and geothermal grows and makes everything we need from advanced scientific applications. Two scenarios==A-all humans are underground and visit the surface like a theme park, the surface being a nature preserve as best as it can currently be reconstituted? B-humans all on surface and all other life forms have been eliminated except as needed by humans.

    I think in both scenarios, most people would take it as “normal” and be happy. The need for “environmentalism” is indeed that it is a red flag as to how HUMANS are doing. When it comes to “CC” I do think you are combining a bit more Greenpeace preserve nature religiosity (sic!) to it. And thats ok–just another intertwined model to consider.

    Let me ask you this to illustrate the above and clarify your objective: in your model, is it permissable or not to cause smallpox virus to become extinct? CC is raised, but species diversity is reduced.

    From there, we can build our list? ((I’m having fun, hope you are too?))

  17. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    In both of your scenarios, you seem to assume that we actually know what we need in order to survive and that the result will be both long lived and robust. I disagree with that assertion. I think the more likely scenarios are:

    C: Humans go extinct due to our own intelligence or lack thereof, depending on your definition.

    D: Human population is dramatically reduced and stabilized, either voluntarily or forcibly.

    I believe D is the more optimistic scenario and results in far fewer humans than you imagine. I think C is the more likely scenario. I think we have about 200 years or less to pick one of these scenarios or have it picked for us.

    Re: smallpox. Yes, that is an interesting one. Let’s table that discussion for a discussion of moral considerability. I do not know how I feel about speciescide in such a case. It is both a loss of biodiversity and a loss of something that kills us.

    The answer would be much simpler for any species that is remotely intelligent. I’d be very against killing that. However, I have a normal human dislike for microscopic killers of humans. I try to get over it for intellectual conversations. However, we should remember that there are still far more unicellular species than multicellular ones.

    In fact, more than 50% of the biomass of the planet is unicellular life. So perhaps the loss of a unicellular species is less valuable than the loss of a multicellular one for exactly the same reason that the loss of an individual of a species is less tragic than the loss of the entire species. I don’t know.

  18. bobbo says:

    I can’t imagine any argument at all for keeping smallpox on the planet? Are you running for Attorney-General?

    Why wouldn’t humans act like any other species?==Boom and crash to boom and crash again all depending on food and space availability? Hard to kill off a species without a conscious intent to do so? So, I would “guess” that if earth becomes human-less it would probably be some combination of disease and cold weather event?==or hot in the case of meteor strike.

    So, ok, I concede your point. It is impossible for human kind to support the current numbers regardless of advances in technology and science that we currently aren’t even aware of. And given the unavoidable impact any large continuing mass of homo-sapiens would have on the ecosystem, it would additionally be immoral for us to event try!

    Funny how barren couples are given so much sympathy in todays world–and how eugenics is still a no-no? Racing towards the cliff?

  19. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    I’ve not gotten any sympathy for being a “barren couple”. Of course, when it’s voluntary there is little reason for sympathy. In fact, I get a lot of comments about people envying my lifestyle. My first answer for how to live as I do is ‘Don’t have kids!’

    Short of buying one’s own 747 and hiring 3 pilots full time to fly it, there is little that most people do that is as expensive as the decision to have children.

    Further, people look at me a little funny for committing to a permanent decision not to have children. No one gives a second thought to the equally permanent decision to have them. It’s not like one can return them if they change their mind. Nor can one typically hawk them on eBay. (Slightly used 3 year old for sale? Still shrink-wrapped and with the original owner’s manual? I think not.)

    (rant)
    What really bugs me though is that I have a feeling that there are a large number of people that grow up, get married, and pop out a litter of kids without even giving it any thought. It’s just what we’re programmed to think of as normal. So, they go through it never asking if it’s really right for them.

    I know many people who do NOT fit this description and have kids. They thought about it and really wanted them. Fine. I have a problem with people that don’t even make a decision. I also have a problem with that old mistake that people think god said, ‘be fruitful and multiply’ this was actually a misinterpretation. It was supposed to be, ‘be useful and multiplex.’
    (/rant)

  20. bobbo says:

    We’re a bit off topic==maybe a new thread of “The Choice of Reproducing?”

    I’ve been waiting awhile for the right time to say you have referred to being “barren” or “childless.”

    Being in the same boat, I prefer “child free.” I have lost a few excellent girl friends over the issues of being an atheist, but even more for not wanting kids.

    My own decision is all too characteristic. I looked at my own childhood/parents and said “Who would CHOOSE that?” Maybe just my own experience. Then there is my sisters. One is average intelligence, the other a bit smarter but not educated or interested in it. So, at an early age I said==gee, having kids is kinda marginal at best and what if the kiddie turned out to be of only average intelligence or worse yet retarded or physically damaged? A lifetime of that? NO thanks.

    Yes, in an overpopulated world, we are supposed to value the genetic defective from viability onwards. Sometimes I miss not having kiddies, and then I see people who’s lives have been ruined (usually acknowledged at some level, but too often not) by their kids==and second marriages torpdeoed all the time (usually for concommitant reasons?).

    One lady I knew had one kid. He was smart, healthy and I could see being a good father to him. The lady finally left me as I was not enthusiastic enough about having more kids. She wanted a small family of 4-5. So, we parted and she wound up having 6 kids in total. I’m sure she is happy, don’t know what my ultimate outlook would have been?====as I constantly post, we humans tend to accept whatever circumstances we find ourselves in-“Homo Adaptus” as I call it.

    Finally connecting up and off my rant/confessional, I’m surprised the drive to have kiddies is not stronger among humans than it is? After all, it is a constant selection process? “Intertwined” with all this, always revealing to look at this difference between men and women. Men wanting women, women wanting children. Not 100%–just a bias.

  21. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    Just to add a bit more to our tangent.

    I prefer the term child free as well, but am also fine with almost any other way to word it including, but not limited to, proud Darwinian failure, the end of the line, happy, and being a programmer, the ever popular ‘I guess I worked in unix so long I became one.’

    As for the choice, in my case it was somewhat easier and did not cost me any relationships. My wife and I married young, assumed we’d have kids one day, but couldn’t afford them for quite some time.

    One day, I turned to my wife and said, ‘You know, we probably could afford to have kids now if we want to.’ She said, ‘Do you want them?’ I said, ‘Not really. Do you?’ She said, ‘No.’ That was easy. Years later we made the decision permanent.

    Interestingly though, the idea of passing on diabetes was only a moderate concern. Bigger issues included, neither of us wanting to be parents, neither of us wanting to bring a child into the world in its present and deteriorating state, both of us recognizing that the problems of the world are all human caused, etc.

    As for whether or not the child would be smart, you should take this simple, single yes/no question test. Q: I’m extra smart. Shouldn’t I pass on my genes? (I love the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement!!)

    I don’t know whether I agree on the relative biases of men and women. I tend to think that intelligent species (where intelligence is not necessarily a positive quality from a Darwinian standpoint) are far more complex than that. One small hope for our most likely doomed species is our ability to overcome our biological drives.

  22. lichanos says:

    I don’t think anyone can estimate with any confidence what the sustainable human population of the earth is. Malthus got it all wrong. The Club of Rome was way off.

    You can say that it appears to be X right now, but then a new way of growing food appears, perhaps a new energy source, etc. For most people, sustainable is an aesthetic category. That is, they want to know what the limit is that will allow their standard of living to be maintained. If we move to a worldwide government of regimented slavery, probably the sustainable number would jump for any level of technology.

    Ecologists look at sustainability at a more macro-level, supposedly. But humans are not bacteria. Bugs in a test tube keep reproducing until they choke themselves to death and their population crashes. Humans are more clever. I think we have a lot further to go to our limit. We have so much surplus food on this planet, it’s incredible – it’s just distributed grossly unfairly and unevenly.

    It’s possible that we will reach a sustainable limit-level by pushing up against the outer envelope of possibility and being slapped down by Nature, but I doubt it. More likely, we will muddle through and arrive at a limit through a complex economic, social, and biological process.

    I’m not saying that the prospect of that future society is necessarily one that would thrill me, but I don’t think we’re going to drive ourselves to extinction anytime in the near geological future. Barring an accidental full-scale thermonuclear exchange, that is. Even then – humans are more adaptable than cockroaches.

  23. Misanthropic Scott says:

    lichanos,

    I appreciate the response. I know I requested it specifically. I am a bit surprised by it, given your take on the environment and habitat preservation and the amount of habitat actually preserved by humans. I was expecting a response less extreme than my own, but more in line with it than at odds with it.

    I see no reason to assume that humans are any wiser. I think Malthus made two mistakes. First, he OVERESTIMATED the human population that this planet can sustain. Perhaps, like most people, he was thinking in terms of tens or hundreds of years, rather than millions. Second, I think he GROSSLY UNDERESTIMATED our willingness to steal from our children to feed ourselves.

    You seem to think that the type of population growth and crash that you describe happens only to microorganisms. Unfortunately, as the reindeer on St. Matthew Island show, this happens to large mammals as well. I think we are currently at or near the peak of human population today.

    I hope not to live to see the Great Human Die Off. If I do, I know, because I will make sure of it, that I will die in the first wave.

    I think the die off will start with global civilizational collapse. Imagine the effects on the world economy, for example, when there are a billion climate refugees by 2050, the conservative estimate from the IPCC. Will our global economy be able to absorb that? Will we have huge wars over it? Will the wealthy nations continue to exploit the poorer nations as their people are dying and being pushed closer together by rising tides in places like Bangladesh? Some of the refugees will be in the wealthy nations. What will happen to the people in Florida and Louisiana as the storm tides surge from the likes of Katrina while the oceans continue to rise?

    As for food production, we are already past peak grain production. For the last several years, we have had decreasing surpluses. These surpluses represent the robustness of society in its ability to feed itself. As the surpluses decline, we run the risk that a single drought or famine could leave us short of grain.

    Further, world fisheries output has been declining since the 1980s, despite improved fishing technology. Most of the fish stocks on which we depend are already 90% dead. A billion people today depend on seafood for the primary source of protein.

    Our current situation cannot possibly last. When I ask the sustainable human population, I am looking for the number that will be left after the Great Human Die Off. I think we will probably start with a dramatic crash that reduces the population by 90%. I think the population will continue to decline for some time thereafter. I do not know how soon this will be. I do not know at what level we will stop declining. I do not know if we will survive as a species at all.

    One thing I’m confident of, however, is that your take on things is horribly overly optimistic and probably does not consider the real long term at all.

    Lastly, when you look for species that are adaptable and likely to survive, look at the ones that have already done so for quite some time. Humans are a young species and are already showing signs of many potential reasons to go extinct. If you compare this to cockroaches, you will see that while humans have survived barely 200,000 years, cockroaches have survived for around 300,000,000 years. Just playing the odds, they are far more likely to survive another 100,000,000 years than we are.

  24. lichanos says:

    Only humans have transmitted culture. That makes us the most adaptable animal of all, no comparison.

    I don’t see myself as optimistic, but then, that’s a realitive term. Compared to you, I guess I am. I’m not claiming that the future is pretty. It’s true – our current situation cannot last. It never does. It won’t. Things are and will change.

    Consider how quickly the world population recovered from WWII, or even the Bubonic Plague. (That, in a time when we were so much less sophisticated, tecnically.) I just don’t have much confidence in your prediction of a great Die Off, at least not the type you describe. True, some new plague might arise that takes a few generations to tame or to run its course, and that will be hell…Not sure what that has to do with sustainability.

  25. bobbo says:

    You know, with a “free” energy source like the solar wind transmitted thru a space elevator or what not, the sustainable number of people would go way up.

    Whats touched upon here is that people will be around for a long, long time. Whether advanced technological societies will be around is a seperate question?

    It just flashed on me–another unintended consequence of the personal computer. Give it a few hundred years and all information is digital–no books for preservation and long term storage. Then a world wide magnetic pulse as in the magnetic poles switch. Instantaneously, all archived human knowledge erased.

    THAT would be a challenge?

  26. Misanthropic Scott says:

    lichanos,

    Only humans have transmitted culture. That makes us the most adaptable animal of all, no comparison.

    This is a very short term view. As yet, this has not had enough time to be proven to be a long term survival advantage. It is true that it allows us to survive in a variety of habitats. However, our very short-sighted nature may cause us to destroy all habitats in which we can survive, leaving us a very short-lived species. For real tried and proven species, look to the ones that have survived both ice ages and very warm periods. 55 MYA was warmer than any time through which we have lived. We may find out whether we are capable of surviving such an event again. Certainly, it will not be with today’s numbers. Our current population is not living sustainably. Our top-soil is being exhausted. Our aquifers are being exhausted. Ocean fisheries are being exhausted. As these resources decline, so too must our population.

    bobbo,

    Free energy will not give us free food. Widespread desertification will continue, even with nearly free energy. And, when looking to technology, always remember that every new technical advance has also come with unexpected consequences, often greater than the original problem to be solved. Here in NYC, cars were the solution to the problem of noise and horse manure from all of the horses. Now cars have produced problems that are worse.

    I think the risk to our data is not as horrific as you make it sound. Most of the important data is backed up on media that will not be affected, I think.

  27. lichanos says:

    I think that transmitted culture is a qualitative difference. We are not subject to the ruthless adaptation-selection pressures of other organisms.

    We are exhausting some resources, not all. Remember, I’m dubious that humans will drive themselves to extinction. Much will change, however.

  28. Misanthropic Scott says:

    lichanos,

    I believe our transmitted culture is a difference in magnitude rather than in kind, as evidenced by chimpanzee cultures. However, it is a very large magnitude in this case, so we’re mostly in agreement here. However, there is no evidence yet that this provides a long term survival advantage. I don’t know whether humans will drive ourselves to extinction by our cultural evolution outpacing biological evolution’s ability to adapt to us, at least for multi-cellular organisms. However, I do feel quite confident in saying that our current numbers are absolutely unsustainable. Whether or not we go extinct, there is no way this planet can support billions of humans for many generations.

    So, reductions of our numbers will come from either A) voluntary population reduction B) global civilizational collapse C) thermonuclear war or other human invoked catastrophe or D) some new or increasingly virulent disease. There may be other causes. For example, global warming may well cause global civilizational collapse. However, I think most other causes are likely to end up being the impetus for one of the four choices I listed above. Correct me if I’ve missed some important ones.

  29. bobbo says:

    I don’t need to correct you—but I will point out everything you’ve posted is mere conjecture. and Conjecture without even a model or expert/cite to support it?

    In other words, nobody knows what the carrying capacity of the earth is and you get flip/floppy with the definition. Is it many generations, or millions of years? Is it with extinction of many other species down to humans and a few other species, or is it garden of eden earth==and so forth.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to discount free energy either. With free energy, water is purified, hydrogen is electolysized, food can be grown from nanotubes and so forth. I think your doom and gloom conclusion is too rooted in todays technology. And YES, even NYC is much better off today than during horse and buggy days. You just went on vacation–wasn’t that nice?

    The future is up for grabs. Scientific culture and human nature may get by but eventually get blown away by one of those “its not if but when” scenarios. Cant “prove” the future. After that, its attitude.

    You’ve got the canoe, you’ve got the paddle—start paddling!!!!!

  30. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    Please read the first paragraph of this post in bold right below the header. I think I freely admit that this post is all about mental masturbation and even disasturbation.

    As for free energy, perhaps we’d have made a good start on that if we had spent the $500,000,000,000 – $2,000,000,000,000 on new energy sources rather than on creating the United States National Petroleum Park in the Middle East. Then maybe we’d know if it’s be the long term solution to all of our problems.

  31. bobbo says:

    Good one Scott. I am chastised. Deeper truths appear in casual comments. Just exactly what is it that we do is not mental masturbation? But, I expose myself.

  32. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    what is it that we do is not mental masturbation?

    I don’t know, but it isn’t blogging.

  33. Ronny says:

    Well, what I want to know how is to advertise the advantage of not having children to the mass public. If they don’t know the advantage, i think they probably won’t give a damn about the idea.

  34. Ronny,

    You will never ever succeed in getting that point across to someone who already has children. They must continue to spend their energy on self-justification and on denying that the biggest problems in the world are real. This way, they can live with their choice and not think that they’ve just dumped their children onto a planet that is not going to support this many people for much longer and will have a huge and painful population reduction.

    As for those who do not yet have children, with them, perhaps there is some small hope. Continue to do your best. Many people read blogs on the internet. Pick some that are more popular than this one and post your views there.

    Try Cagematch, for example. It is actually a forum. Anyone can log in there and begin new topics for discussion. And, cagematch gets the traffic everyday that this blog gets in a year. Your views will be welcome there. I’m not the only misanthrope in the bunch.

  35. Kathy says:

    My opinion is overly simplistic, but I believe that if local resources are not sufficient for long-term sustainability of the local population, then that particular locality is overpopulated. If that was used as a standard, I doubt we could justify a global population above 300-500 million max.

  36. Hi Kathy,

    Your number of remaining humans is a bit higher than my personal highest estimate, but well inline with James Lovelock, in an interview he gave to New Scientist.

    One last chance to save mankind

  37. Myrmecia says:

    You have performed a valuable service with this post. My own estimate has – for the past decade – been 600 million, but we’d be nuts to push up to that level. My methodology is similar to yours and it can be read here:

    http://www.evfit.com/population_max.htm

    I have referenced this Misanthropic page on my own

  38. Myrmecia,

    That is a good argument you make. I think by stating that we did not get to 6.8 million via fossil fuels, you take some of the wind out of your own sails.

    It is not true that we didn’t get here through fossil fuels.

    All of our industrial farming enterprises rely on synthetic fertilizer. Interestingly, such fertilizer gets its nitrogen and other necessary chemicals from petroleum. It is literally a petroleum product.

    As we eat our corn, wheat, etc., we are literally eating petroleum.

    So, it is literally true that we indeed did get to 6.8 billion through the use of and literally by eating fossil fuels.

    Thank you for a thoughtful post on your site and for the link to me from your site. I would recommend that readers of this post also read the post at Myrmecia. It’s interesting that two different methodologies came up with numbers within the same order of magnitude.

  39. Myrmecia says:

    Thanks, Scott. I must apologize for the final words of my post not appearing above. I agree with your observations/comments and have made some quick amendments to my page. I agree fossil fuels have fed our 6.8m, but we have drawn down far more than just the fossil fuels as the Homo sapiens mass has expanded exponentially. If it was only fossil fuels we might just get away with it, but our destructive rampage through the biosphere has been truly opportunistic and comprehensive.

  40. You’re absolutely right Myrmecia. We have a lot of problems in addition to fossil fuels including the additional problems from fossil fuels of fuel spills, fertilizer runoff, ocean acidification (which may leave us fishless surprisingly soon even if we stop overfishing), and global warming.

    We also have reduced arable land by about 10% planet wide through desertification. We are depleting top soil at an alarming rate. We are depleting our fossil water (underground aquifers) at a tremendous rate. We are losing fresh water stores in the form of mountain glaciers that feed such rivers as the Ganges and provide fresh water to millions of humans near the Rockies, Himalayas, Andes, alps and other mountain ranges.

    We are already getting less ocean fish year over year since the mid 1980s despite improved fishing technology. We are also drastically reducing our surplus grain year over year and are now down to about one season’s worth.

    Yes. Truly we are in great trouble. If we do not reduce our population voluntarily and quickly through attrition, it will be reduced for us in extremely painful ways.

  41. ssolid71 says:

    You’re doing it wrong. First, you need many minds to develop the technology we’re going to need. The correct way to go about this is to leave earth.

  42. ssolid,

    Interesting point. And what do we do when we leave? Destroy biosphere after biosphere everywhere we go?

    As for leaving earth, we’re nowhere near being able to do it. No human has been beyond LEO (low earth orbit) since 1972.

    And, we do not have a lot of time left before catastrophe on this planet if we keep breeding like rats.

  43. Maya says:

    Hello Scott,

    I found this blog through google search, and I just wanted to say I appreciate the frank discussion. I’m having a debate with a friend who doesn’t believe we’re really overpopulated (I’m taking the other side, that says we are), and I had to check my assumptions on the subject. You’ve given me food for thought and some good references.

    One thought on the subject of having kids, though. Two per couple is actually slightly less than the replacement rate, and the population would slowly fall if everyone limited themselves to two. There will always be those who cannot or choose not to reproduce, and unfortunately some who die before they get the chance. I don’t know if we have time to wait for the population to *slowly* fall, but two per couple has the additional advantage of keeping desirable genes in the population. All too often, it’s intelligent, thoughtful people who choose not to procreate, or at least that’s what I see amongst my friends. Perhaps a few more of them would have had at least one child, if having children wasn’t something they see as just contributing to the world’s problems. That’s an entirely anecdotal assertion on my part, so take it for what it’s worth.

    I very deliberately chose to have two children, and they are beautiful, intelligent, delightful, and very much loved. I just hope that I can give them the background and the skills they need to survive what we’re making of the planet.

  44. Ark Angel says:

    I have had a closer look at your figures and I suspect that you need to adjust them as follows:

    The 30,000,000 population estimate for pre Columbus America according to Wikipedia: Population history of indigenous people of the Americas, is for both North and South America. When you divide this population value by the land area for all of the Americas (42,549,000 sq. Km), and then multiply by the worlds total land area (148,940,000 sq. Km), a value of 105,000,000 people is obtained. This population value is essentially what I call a sustainable hunter-gatherer world wide population.

    While the above population is naturally sustainable, I think we can do better than this using more advanced sustainable agricultural practices, e.g. where windbreaks, river silts, terracing, no till farming and recycled animal fertilizers; like that used in the Nile delta and in China.

    I choose this scenario because I want to introduce another term that not many people around the world may be aware of. The term in this case is “peak phosphorus”. Since around 1840 AD the world’s rich phosphorus resources have been mined for industrial agricultural purposes. It is suspected that this mining activity peaked as early as 1989 and we now have up to 100 years left of easily accessible phosphorus at current usage rates, refer Wikipedia: Peak phosphorus.

    Now the world’s population as it stands today can probable survive an oil energy crisis by adopting more sustainable alternative power sources, however it cannot be sustained without a regular supply of phosphorus based fertilizer for food crops.

    Assuming that the world did not use industrial phosphorus for cropping purposes until 1840 AD, estimating the worlds sustainable population can be as simple as determining the worlds estimated population in 1840 AD. According to Wikipedia: World population, in 1840 AD the world’s total population was ~1,300,000,000 people. This is essentially what I call a sustainable agricultural world wide population. The sustainable population for each country can be estimated by determining its arable land area in sq. Km., then divide this value by 13,805,153 sq. Km. (e.g. the world’s total estimated arable land area, refer Wikipedia: Arable land), and multiplying this result by 1,300,000,000.

    Ark Angel

  45. Very interesting Ark Angel. Thank you for adding another set of well-thought out calculations.

    I was deliberately overly generous in my estimates figuring that even a number around 300 million would be horribly controversial. My calculation only came up with 175 million. So, if your number is even lower, that’s of course fine with me.

    There does appear to be one misunderstanding that you have of my statements. It seems that you think I had said this was sustainable. I did not. Let me be as clear as I can. This is the lowest number that we know is NOT sustainable.

    At hunter-gatherer population levels, we were causing mass extinctions everywhere we went from the time we left Africa, the one continent on which we evolved, so the only continent where species already had a healthy fear of us.

    So, I’ve defined a population that causes mass extinctions as unsustainable. Any number above my 300 million (or your 105 million if you prefer) is, in my mind not in balance and not a sustainable population.

    To claim that we can somehow do better than the hunter-gatherers is to imply that we consume fewer resources than hunter-gatherer populations or that we are somehow adept at replenishing the resources we use.

    Neither of these is true.

    We use far more resources than any hunter-gatherer society ever did. So, our sustainable population would be lower, not higher.

    Do you see it otherwise? If so, why?

  46. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Misanthropic Scott,

    Thanks for your response. Before I attempt to make a comment on the points that you raised I wish to make a correction to one of the statements that I made in my previous post. I mentioned that a population of 105,000,000 was an estimate of a sustainable hunter-gatherer world wide population. I have looked more closely at the population estimate of the 30,000,000 in the Wikipedia website that I mentioned and found that this population consisted of 21,000,000 people from the mighty Aztec and Incan empires. Both these empires used agriculture in a big way to sustain their large populations. Consequently my initial statement that 30,000,000 people in pre Columbus America represented a minimum hunter gatherer population is essentially incorrect.

    So what is a sustainable hunter gatherer population? To answer this question and perhaps form the basis for providing an answer to your posed dilemma, we need to look at the history of man kind’s population growth on this planet again.

    Current estimates put the start of agriculture at around 11,500 years ago at the beginning of the Neolithic period. However this was only practiced in a small way in only a few parts of the world. Agriculture did not really take off until the beginning of the Bronze Age; about 5,000 years ago when sharp and reliable harvesting tools could be made. Consequently it can be basically said that the end of the Neolithic Stone Age and the dawning of the Bronze Age period represented the last time when the world’s human population was essentially a hunter gatherer population. The estimated world’s human population at this time was only 25,000,000 people; refer Wikipedia: World population. This is the world’s minimum sustainable hunter gatherer population.

    The world’s human population has always swelled to its maximum technological and available resource potential. Currently we are entering a period of time in history when diminishing resource availability is just starting to have a negative impact on world human populations, e.g. the world’s population growth rate is declining.

    So what would a sustainable agricultural population of say 1,300,000,000 people be like? We know that the majority of our food would be grown on 13,805,153 sq. Km of arable land, though this may be limited in some cases by the availability of water. This is only 9% of the world’s total land area. About 50% of the worlds land area is uninhabitable, e.g. too mountainous, too cold or too desolate. Consequently there is still plenty of land area (~40%) left for other agricultural and non-agricultural pursuits such as forestry free range grazing and integrated natural wildlife management reserves.

    In an effort to conserve energy and recycle resources to their optimum potential, sustainable agrarian populations will most likely live in and around small decentralised townships. The average sized mature family unit will be just over 4 people. There probably would be no unemployment and the worldwide household disposable income will be relatively higher that it is today. In general, women will have equal rights and will be better educated than they are today.

    In 2,011 the world’s human population will pass 7,000,000,000 people. The obvious question to ask is, if we implemented a restrictive birth rate policy today, how long would it take for the world’s population to reach a sustainable population of only 1,300,000,000. I estimate that with a minimum acceptable one child per couple policy in place (as is the case in China), it would take approximately 225 years for the current world wide human population to reach the 1,300,000,000 mark.

    Consequently, if current predictions regarding easily available energy and phosphorus resources are correct, this means that there is a good chance that future sustainable population targets will be achieved by starvation or by way of the sword.

    My feelings on these disheartening statistics are that no matter what, we still need to set lower minimum worldwide sustainable human population levels lower than what we have today; like that suggested above. This is a better survival insurance policy than to not having one at all. We cannot forever rely on an evolving technological fix to bail our future generations out of the trouble in this regard. Plus it shows a total disrespect for the rest of natural World. Apart from this, I wouldn’t want to live in a world with “wall to wall” people, worry about where my next meal was coming from, or wether my neighbour was going to kill me for my possessions; and not have the privilege to see and hear a song bird or two.

    My suggested maximum sustainable target of 1,300,000,000 people is just that. We may find that when we get there we probably need to go lower because by the time we get there some of the arable land set aside for agricultural use has been degraded beyond repair or the water supply is no longer there. We may also need to consider lowering the population again to increase the security of the food supply system due to natural disasters.

    Whatever sustainable population we do adopt, we also need to draw a line in the sand as to how humans treat themselves and the rest of Nature. The Native American Indians (NB: a Neolithic Culture) probably had one of the healthiest views in this regard. They did not believe in an almighty god as such, instead they saw themselves as an integral part of Nature, e.g. this is called Pantheism. They respected nature more than we do today because it provided them with all the things that they needed in an intimate manner. They shared there food resources and if this was found to be wanting at times, they did purposely limit their population. There was no such thing as land ownership; however like any wild animal they did defend their territory. The society as a whole was more maternal than it is today. If we are to succeed in this endeavour, we will definitely need to adopt some of these desirable traits along the way.

    Ark Angel

  47. Ark Angel,

    Thank you for your even more detailed calculations.

    While I agree that the native American cultures were less destructive than our own, I still do not agree that they were sustainable.

    Within a thousand years (or possibly a few thousand since they’re finding some evidence of humans arriving in the Americas before 15,000 years ago, possibly as early as 17,000 years ago), we had killed off 83% of the large North American mammal species and 87% of the large South American mammal species.

    So, what I am saying is the reverse of what you are saying.

    Rather than coming up with a maximum sustainable population by figuring out how many native Americans there were prior to Columbus and extrapolating from there, we are coming up with the minimum number we know is NOT sustainable.

    If you say that number is just 25 million, then we are in bigger trouble than I had thought.

    You still seem not to recognize that as hunter gatherers, we were less destructive than today, but still very destructive. We’ve caused mass extinctions everywhere we’ve gone since we left Africa. The hunter gatherers that we both agree were more in tune with nature and less destructive than today’s society, were still very destructive.

    Now, we have also added the fact that we have caused desertification around the world. Globally, we have destroyed 10% of the arable land on the planet. So, whatever population the world could have sustained if we peacefully reached our sustainable point and never exceeded it, the number must now be lower due to the land we have utterly destroyed as well as the land on which we have dramatically reduced top soil and degraded or depleted water supplies.

    These things do not recover in human time frames.

    As we cut down rain forest, not only do we remove trees and erode soil, but we take away the rains. Evapotranspiration of trees is how the water moves inland, especially in tropical rainforests. As we cut the trees, we reduce the rains. The recovery times to repair such damage will be measured in millennia if we’re lucky or in millions of years if not.

    Every year we continue as we are today, we reduce the carrying capacity of the planet and drive more species to extinction. This year the carrying capacity is less than it was last year.

    And, we have been beyond the planet’s carrying capacity for even longer than we have been agrarian.

  48. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Scott,
    I hope all is well. My population estimate of 25,000,000 people for the end of the Neolithic period was for the whole world. Assuming the USA represents about 6.4% of the world’s land mass, this works out to a USA Native American Indian population of only 1,600,000 people. While it is true that these people wiped out the mega fauna of the America’s, they still reached equilibrium with the remaining flora and fauna population.

    The world’s history is littered with events where one species wipes out another. In fact over 99% of all life on this planet has been wiped out for one reason or another. This is a perfectly natural event, and it will continue to happen in a dynamic fashion; so I recommend that you get used to it. I also recommend that you focus more of your attention on maintaining all the remaining species on the Earth, including humans in a sustainable environment.

    Ark Angel

  49. Ark Angel,

    I do not agree that people came into balance in the Americas. The bison population was declining before Europeans got here, it was just doing so far more slowly than after the arrival of Europeans.

    There were also whole civilizations in the Americas that collapsed, at least one because they exhausted their natural resource base, prior to European arrival and the ensuing genocide.

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

    In fact, there are precious few examples of humans living in balance from which to extrapolate a sustainable global population. You could try doing so from the numbers in Tikopia. However, it may not be a representative sample.

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

    • Ark Angel says:

      Dear Scott,
      I hope all is well. The Pueblo Indian culture was not a strict hunter gatherer culture as it’s larger than normal population numbers where supported by agricultural practices. Consequently, when the local climate changed for the worst (e.g. less rainfall), this culture underwent a catastrophic collapse. However there is a lesson to be learnt here. Agricultural populations are highly dependent on key resources being in place. Consequently optimum populations may be less than I previously estimated after an allowance for natural disasters are taken into account. I think I mentioned this before.

      With regard to declining North American buffalo numbers, I haven’t seen any literature on this; however I can imagine that you are probably right in this regard. This is probably due to declining rainfall as discussed previously, and I suspect that the introduction of horses by the Spanish also had something to do with it, e.g. they made it easier for a successful hunt.

      With regard to the Tikopia people, this is also an interesting case. However I suspect that their larger than normal population (e.g. above that of natural hunter gatherer populations) was again heavily supported by intensive agricultural and supplementary sea fishing activities.

      What we have learnt from both these cases is that there are niches on the Earth where all the right elements for larger than normal populations are possible. However in the case of the Tikopia people, sustainable populations were achieved only after proper planning and management practices were put in place. In the case of the Tikopia, pigs were done away with and infanticide was practiced.

      In our culture these practices can be replaced by more palatable policies such as improved population and sex education, contraception, abortion on demand (though some may argue that this is the same thing as infanticide), accepting and encouraging gay marriages, tax incentives/disincentives for the required minimum family size, improved sanitation and living conditions that ensure family members live a healthy life so that they can bear children and support their parents in their old age, etc. Apart from these policies I also envisage there will also need to be appropriate management of the amount of meat that the population consumes and the amount of biofuel that is produced. A sustainable future may also involve planning for smaller decentralised communities. This practice will minimise the amount of energy required for transportation and the recycling of human manures. The management of sustainable communities simply cannot be left up to the inhumane and short term thinking of the marketplace.

      Ark Angel

  50. Seen says:

    Scott, is there a way that I can discuss this with you via e-mail?

  51. Seen says:

    Hello Scott,

    It’s mostly a matter of comfort because I am mostly a private person.

    • Seen,

      I’m less private than you are, apparently. However, you may have noticed that I am blogging anonymously.. I maintain my own privacy this way.

      I have had no prior contact with you and would prefer not to give out even my blog email address at this time. Feel free to pick any name you like and post here. Your email address is seen only by me.

      And, I have not enabled any email verification. It is perfectly ok to enter an email address like a@b.c, thus keeping your opinions public here, but your identity 100% private.

      I hope that will be enough to maintain your privacy.

  52. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Scott,
    I hope all is well. In this post I just want to update some of my previous estimates of Phosphate rock reserves and estimated required birth rate to achieve sustainable population levels.

    After searching the internet; at current projected increasing population and consumption growth rates, I have seen literature estimates for unmined Phosphate rock reserves range from a scandalous 100 years to 1,000 years, with about 300 years being the industries best estimate.

    With an estimated 300 years of easily available phosphate rock left to mine, peak phosphorus is likely to occur in about 100 years time with a business as usual approach. However the world has already experienced a pseudo peak phosphorus event in our life time.

    Within 18 months of Patrick Dery & Bart Anderson’s Peak Phosphorus article in August 2007; which stated that peak phosphorus had been achieved in 1998 and we only had 100 years left of phosphate rock reserves left; the price of phosphate rock rose ~13 fold. Needless to say the base assumptions in this article have since been shown to be incorrect. When the market woke up to this error, the price fell quicker than it rose. However this event caused food riots, and no doubt the high price of phosphate fertilizer also resulted in starvation deaths or farmers committing suicide due to a crippling debt burden.

    The next obvious question to ask then is how long would it take for the world’s population of say 7,000,000,000 people, which we will achieve this year, to reach a sustainable estimate of 1,250,000,000 people, assuming a current phosphate rock reserve estimate of 300 years?

    Just to put things into perspective, my back of the envelope calculation tells me that if an effective 1 child per female policy was put in place this year (e.g. the minimum socially acceptable requirement, and that currently adopted by China); it would take approximately 150 years for the world’s human population to reach 1,250,000,000 people. Using a current phosphate rock reserve estimate of 300 years; this will expand out to say 2 x 300 = 600 years with a declining population. The estimated effective birth rate per woman would then be an average of about 1.7 children; which is a far more palatable proposition than a 1 child per female birth rate. It is worth bearing in mind that the world’s current average birth rate is about 2.6 children per female.

    Ark Angel

  53. Maya says:

    Seen, please consider posting. I find this a very interesting and important topic, and would like to know what others have to say about it.

  54. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Scott,
    I hope all is well. With regards to technology being part of the solution towards a sustainable human population, the obvious areas where adjustments are needed:

    1. As mentioned previously, decentralizing cities so as to conserve transportation and nutrient recycling energy. Other technologies could include high speed optical fibre computer networks to improve communications and reduce commuting requirements.
    2. Improved phosphorus recycling technologies in agriculture and city sewage management.
    3. Improving the genetics of food and fibre plant species so that they can grow in less that perfect arable soil conditions.
    4. Develop non biofuel based technologies for everybody to use for energy consumption and transportation.
    5. Create more palatable vegetarian dishes so that we eat less meat.
    6. Develop appropriate tax incentives so that innovative solutions in the above mentioned technology areas can be achieved by industry and everyone in a decentralised manner.

    The sooner we start down the path of achieving sustainable human populations, the quicker these incentives can be put in place. People in third world countries can also look forward to greater political freedom, and a more health lifestyle and economy.

    Ark Angel

  55. Ark Angel says:

    Scott, I finally got around to reading your bipolar misanthropic views about humans on this earth. I do agree with you over the fact that humans have mistreated nature and this earth. Quite simply, we are behaving more like animals than intelligent beings. The only way I believe for us to get ourselves out of this mess is to firstly recognise and accept that we are in a mess of our own making. Once this is achieved we can then move forward in a collective and intelligent manner to start improving things, and hopefully bring things back on a sustainable tact. That tact, we both agree is to reduce our population levels by at least 6 or more fold. It doesn’t matter if we find that this goal is still unsustainable when we get there; what is more important from the outset is that we even start on this journey. In the process of trying to achieve this goal our research and development, and experience may result in a lower or higher population level than our initial target level. We will also need to adjust for the type of lifestyle everyone wants to live. Not everybody wants to live an agrarian life style, as was mostly the case (out of necessity) in 1840.

    Do you have any suggestions as to how we might be able to encourage the first step in this journey?

    Ark Angel

  56. Ark Angel,

    First, we are animals. Don’t underestimate the other sentiences and even moderately intelligent non-sentient species on the planet. Some of these have survived for orders of magnitude longer than our own species. Some even do surprisingly well on intelligence tests, for whatever that means given our lack of ability to accurately test our own intelligence.

    Second, I am sorry to have to ask this, but why the obsession with phosphorus in particular?

    Given the lengthy list of problems that humanity must solve every single one of in order to survive the next hundred years or so, I just had to ask that. For example, there is the list of twelve items at the end of Jared Diamond’s book Collapse that all must be solved. Miss one and we do not get to say that we got a 91.25 %, a solid A and can say woo hoo.

    Rather, a single one missed means that we all die and the species goes extinct.

    The description of each is lengthy. I would strongly recommend reading the book. So, here’s my own partial list which probably omits many significant problems that may also cause global civilizational collapse and potentially extinction of our species.

    Population. I think we both agree that the population cannot continue to grow indefinitely. I’m not even sure we have the resources to temporarily support the projected 8-10 billion humans at peak population.

    Global warming. Warm temps are strongly associated with mass extinctions; large warm-blooded species fare poorly in extinction events. We are large and warm-blooded.

    Ocean acidification. The oceans are already 90% dead from overfishing. But, things will get much worse when the ocean becomes too acidic for pteropods and other small creatures that form the basis of the ocean food chain. A billion people today rely on ocean fish for the bulk of their dietary protein.

    Desertification. Already we have lost 10% of the arable land on the planet and have seen a 5% reduction in food production.

    Top soil erosion. Agriculture has been using top soil faster than it can be replaced. For example, the midwest, America’s breadbasket, has already lost half of its original top soil.

    Fossil water. The Ogallala Aquifer and other underground sources of water are being depleted far faster than they are replaced. The Ogallala was the source of the water that ended the dustbowl of the 1930s.

    The cryosphere. Much of Asia, the northeastern U.S., and other locales rely on snow melt for their fresh water. But, the cryosphere is melting at an alarming rate.

    Fossil Fuels. Perhaps it would be OK to lose these if the only result was to force us to eat locally grown food due to a lack of transportation. The problem is that 40% of the world’s food is literally a case of eating petroleum and natural gas. These are the sources of industrial fertilizers. Without them, the world population would be reduced by that 40% since people are made of food.

    Warfare. We just can’t support the loss of resources incurred in warfaring, even with the resultant reduction in population. And, that is without considering the risk of nuclear war.

    I’ll end my list here, but please assume that this list is far from complete.

    Now, as for technology solving the problems of humanity, I certainly hope we can do so. I personally believe we already have all of the technology we need to solve global warming. We are showing no signs of even attempting to do so, however.

    More importantly, in every case in history where technology solved a problem, it has caused new and unintended problems that were utterly unforeseen. A small example is the solution to the problem of smelly and loud horses in Manhattan, the automobile. Another example is the so-called green revolution which increased global population and starvation rather than solving the problem of world hunger.

    And, near the end of your most recent post, you ask about getting people to adjust to an agrarian lifestyle. Perhaps you are unaware of a prior post of mine, Agriculture, Good or Bad. I am of the strong belief that agriculture has been a huge mistake for humanity. It has served to increase our numbers and decrease our health, well-being, and prognosis for becoming a long-lived species.

    So, you ask for my suggestions … Hmm … I actually don’t claim to have the solution to our problems. But, I’ll give it a try.

    First and foremost: Don’t breed.

    Did you notice my golden snip award listed among other things down the left side of my blog?

    I am not optimistic about the likelihood of long term survival of our species. More importantly for the lives of either your putative children or your actual ones if you already have any, I think that the Great Human Die-Off is coming soon. I know this will sound like religious fanatics who predict imminent Armageddon. However, there are a few slight differences.

    I am not predicting a date. Will it be 10 years from now or 100 or 200? I have no idea. But, if you agree that the planet cannot sustain our current population, you must either believe that we will reduce our population voluntarily or have it reduced for us through hitting resource limitations or other catastrophic events.

    I am not forecasting some supernatural event, merely noting that we are already using earth’s resources faster than they are replenished and are already seeing signs of resulting problems, such as food shortages, climate change’s severe and deadly weather events, measurable sea level rise, warfare due to malthusian conflict (Rwanda), warfare due to limited resources (Darfur), reduction in ocean fish catch year over year since the mid 1980s despite dramatic improvements in fishing technology, etc.

    What I do expect is a very similar to the pattern seen when reindeer that were introduced to St. Matthews Island ate out their resource base.

    http://dieoff.org/page80.htm

    I would guess, and yes it is just a guess, that whenever the collapse and die-off begin, we will see the death of about 90% of humanity in a fairly short time (a decade or so from the time of the collapse) and then a slow decline by 50% of those remaining for a total of 95% or so reduction. Whether we will be able to stabilize and survive is beyond me.

    Am I blowing it out my ass? Possibly. But, please tell me why we should expect something different?

    Will anyone point to any signs of humanity actually being intelligent enough to attempt to solve our own problem? I haven’t seen any. Last year’s CO2 emissions were a record high. Population continues to increase with even the staunchest environmentalists generally unwilling to talk about this prime cause of all of our other major problems. Overfishing continues with some endangered species being so valuable that we hunt ever harder to find and slaughter the few that remain. Warfare is increasing rather than declining.

    So, when I say don’t breed, I mean it not only for the health of the planet but as a favor to the unconceived. Those who are born today will see a billion climate refugees and a dead ocean by 2050. Do you really believe living through that time frame will be a pleasant experience? Would those born today really thank you for the opportunity to witness these events?

    For my own part, I am seriously concerned about the possibility that the Die-Off will begin during my life expectancy. My planning for this event includes making use of my diabetes and keeping enough insulin around to ensure that I do not need to wait for events to catch up to me. Another response might be to stock up on canned goods and weaponry to keep in your bunker.

    Can we prevent such events? I certainly hope so, but am not seeing much in the way of species-wide behavior to cause optimism. So, the best action I can think of is don’t create more humans. Sorry for such a depressing answer. I don’t have a better one. Check out Population Connection … or the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

  57. Seen says:

    It seems that I’m going to have to do this in sections. The text box starts bouncing around when the post gets long.

    “What is the Sustainable Human Population for this Planet?”

    Define sustainable? By the content of the thread, it seems that sustainable means what is the population size that the planet can easily and readily sustain in perpetual balance or be minimally impacted. Then, the thread discusses ways, methods, or options to attain it.
    1). I would argue that there is no attainable sustainable population size. Every size is impacted by a variety of factors that places it as unsustainable.
    2). Even if we could agree on a more acceptable population size and discuss ways to attain that more acceptable level, we are advocating some form of loss of genetic diversity and/or loss of genetic replenishment. Both are precursors to extinction, and the human genetic diversity is already greatly weakened and weakning.

  58. Seen says:

    “There is also a strong possibility that we will go through our resources and fight so vehemently that we will actually cause human extinction.”

    This is debatably already in the works. This really is a problem when any ideal or interest becomes expansionistic, particularly imperially expansionistic (Empires don’t aspire to be part of the system rather be the system. In other words, they aspire to dictate ‘do as I say not as I do’.

  59. Seen says:

    “The sixth great extinction is already well along its way. It is already worse than the extinction that killed off the non-avian dinosaurs 65.3 million years ago.”

    I find this to be ironically interesting.
    1). The Club of Rome is a UN think-tank if you acknowledge the Bilderberg Group; you’ll see many members of the Club of Rome and its sister clubs all share the same membership to Bilderberg. Club of Rome created the Earth Charter and Agenda 21. It was dually stated that their unity of humanity was to target humanity due to their worship of Gaia or in simple terms paganistic worship. If you research it, it is interesting certain days like the death of Osama bin Laden coincided with a paganistic sacrificial celebration. It is debatable that the day Osama bin Laden was eliminated; many people celebrated a paganistic ritual. Based on their humanity is a cancer viewpoint, I’m positive that they know depopulation to perpetual balance with nature as described by the Georgia Guide Stones causes a catastrophic loss of genetic diversity and effectively sets the stage for human extinction.
    2). Our climate and the rise of mammals as the dominant species on the planet directly correlates to the events that had wiped out the dinosaurs, the Chicxulub Impact and the Deccan Traps eruptions. Showing my naturalistic 2012er point of view, it is disconcerting to take into account the precession of the equinox that had also occurred 65m years ago by the estimated occurance.
    3). Man-made climate change due to fossil fuel emissions dually isn’t supported in the geological record when CO2 especially were more than tripple its present rate in historical times. Now, the disruption in the ozone layer enabling more radiation particles from solar winds to enter the atmosphere is another matter, and it effectively points towards nuclear reactors as the closest man-made cause. Earth is estimated to be how old because of the dissipation rate of radiation. It’s a bait and switch scam.
    4). Our climate has been consistent due to various disasters:
    A). Multiple Yellowstone mantle hotspot eruptions. Yellowstone is contributed to wiping out those large mammals in North America mentioned earlier.
    B). Long Valley and Valley Grande.
    C). Clovis Comet (roughly 14,000-16,000 years ago). The Clovis Comet is believed to have exploded in the lower Atmosphere much like the Tunguska event.
    D). Lake Toba estimated to have occurred 74,000 years ago and very nearly wiped out the human species. Everyone who lives today can genetically be traced to the 5,000-10,000 many great grandmothers. It is also contributed to accellerating a climate heading into an ice age. (Yellowstone is a rhyolitic melt, so it’s release of energy is bound to be severe. The worst of the direct effects has a past precent range of a 500 mile circumference of epicenter).

    I could go on, but these are the ones that I remember off hand.
    An issue that seems to need to be brought up is that there is a major difference between a scientific law and scientific theory. While some theories expand scientific laws, scientific theories explain and desribe complex systems, and scientific laws do not. Scientific laws are only true in very precise and specific situation; this precise and specific situation are analogous to a simple system. Earth is part of a complex system and possesses a complex system in and of itself. Additionally, social sciences flip hypothesis and theory. In other words in social sciences, hypothesis is superior to theory while theory is superior to hypothesis in science.

    Aside from we definitely seem to disagree on the mechanism/s, we do seem to agree that Earth is entering a chaotic cycle. Would you agree?

  60. Seen,

    You do a fantastic impression of a very public person. Way to go!! And, thanks for posting.

    Now, I’ve got to re-read your impressive (and voluminous) content before I reply (trying to outme me?). This may take me some time, unless I get inspired … and insomnia.

    Seriously though, nice input, thanks!

  61. Hmm… Rereading your comments in greater detail. Here are some initial comments. I’ll have more later.

    Re: No sustainable population, zero would certainly be sustainable. Tikopia proves the existence of sustainable human population levels.

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

    I don’t know if we could coordinate well enough to come to sustainability on a planetary scale. Tikopia works, at least partly, because of the fact that the place is too small to experience a tragedy of the commons. How could we highlight the commons of earth well enough for no one to want to destroy them? I have no idea.

    Re: Genetic diversity of homo sapiens: We don’t have much diversity now. Humans went through a bottle neck 70-80,000 years ago where there were only about 1,000 breeding pairs of homo sapiens on the planet. We have very little diversity now. We are all close cousins. Reducing our population dramatically would not necessarily reduce out gene pool that much. Consider that with very few exceptions, the entire gene pool of the human species exists in Africa, the continent of our evolution and the only continent on which we are not an introduced invasive species.

    Re: Bilderberg, I agree that the wealthy have tremendously disproportionate power. However, I am not generally big on conspiracy theories. Such wealthy people, just like people everywhere, would have difficulty coming to a true consensus on just about anything other than that they all want more wealth and power. So, would Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, Archer Daniels Midland, Hugo Chavez, Medveyev, Hu Jintao, and others all have the same goals? I think not.

    Re: 2012 and precessions, have we not seen enough forecasts for dates of destruction of earth to know that such specific predictions are always wrong? Perhaps not. Just let me know what you will say on 1/1/2013. We already know what the judgment day wacko said when his prediction failed … a second time.

    Actually, please point to a time when CO2 was triple current values? I believe you will see that indeed such values are consistent with warming. I believe if you look back millions of years, you will also have to account for the very long term variation in the strength of the sun. It has been getting stronger over millions and hundreds of millions of years.

    Re: Yellowstone. It last erupted 600,000 years ago. The 83% of large north american mammals and 87% of large south american mammals were not at that time.

    Re: Clovis comet. Interestingly, this is one hypothesis for the loss of some of the large north American mammals. But, it does not explain the loss of south American mammals. It just wasn’t a large enough impact. Nor would the loss of life have been greater in south America than in north America.

    Re: Chaotic cycle. Certainly we are. The climate is changing faster that at any known time in the history of the planet. Cultural evolution is outpacing the ability of biological evolution to keep pace on all but the smallest species. In the oceans, certain pre-cambrian life forms that have been kept in check for hundreds of millions of years by larger multicellular life are now making a comeback. Some of these are toxic when people breath the salt spray off the ocean. We cut into the rainforests and unleash the organisms of the world that are the fastest evolvers on the planet and the most likely to jump species. So, we get AIDS, ebola, marburg, and hanta among others.

    We must, as a species, take responsibility for our own actions. We must stop stealing from future generations to feed ourselves. We must stop using the planet as a giant cesspool. We must stop treating our renewable resources as if they were non-renewable and using them up as quickly as we can.

    And, first and foremost, we must stop breeding like rabbits.

  62. Seen says:

    Hello Scott,

    Normally, I’d copy the text that I aimed to quote, but it seems not to allow me. Please bare with me.

    First, thank you, I’m simply a private person if I tend to go all in regarding topics, and your welcome on the input. Thank you for the reply.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikopia, I’m not familar with this; it certainly appears interesting. I’ll look into it.

    Onto the meat in the next post.

  63. Seen says:

    1). I largely disagree. Genetic replenishment and diversity is the strength of the species; deliberately weakening this vital pillar would bring us closer to extinction.
    As far as evolution goes, Africa may be where humans originated, but it’s hardly the only cradle of human life.

    2). In regards to Bilderberg, I think that you should re-look over your choices of financial, influential, and powerful on your list. What do they all share in commen, they want money (they got), influence (they can always accumulate more), and power (more influence creates more power). Do they share a common goal? Absolutely, they want more influence and power. You do know privatization/financialization is what the Rothschilds did roughly in the 1800’s forcing the government and its populace to pay their war debt directly to the Rothschilds. Thus far, history is in the process of repeating itself in regards to Greece. Money, influence, and power. What they seem to disagree with is the manner of attaining more influence and power.
    I suspect that you’re a formidable researcher; I think you’ll find many correlations making you question your initial analysis. I know that I did.

    3). First, the end of the world as we know it is not total destruction of Earth. That’ll occur when the sun goes supernova, the sun won’t do this for an estimated very distant future. Provided, the world hadn’t ended as we know it; I’d subscribed to an invalidated idea. What about you, you obviously support man-made global warming, and the two estimates or deadlines I’ve read is it’s too late and 2015 and it’s too late. (Makes one wonder if wind/solar/hydro is not effected by solar particles/solar wind/super wave).

    4). Heres more than a couple of links, these links range from antagonistic towards man-made global warming to protagonistic:
    http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html
    http://deforestation.geologist-1011.net/
    http://deforestation.geologist-1011.net/PhanerozoicCO2-Temperatures.png (Just image)http://www.biocab.org/carbon_dioxide_geological_timescale.html
    http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/historical-trends-in-carbon-dioxide-concentrations-and-temperature-on-a-geological-and-recent-time-scale
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.globalwarmingart.com/images/thumb/c/c1/2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png/450px-2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png&imgrefurl=http://www.nolanchart.com/article4029_Global_Warming_Man_Made_or_Natural_Cycle.html&usg=__cxVn3qLyPVqFjKcjkOzN2TqWh9Y=&h=332&w=450&sz=88&hl=en&start=2&zoom=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=jA7DWRLmQ70fDM:&tbnh=94&tbnw=127&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dman-made%2Bglobal%2Bwarming%2Bto%2Bpopulation%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG%26rlz%3D1W1ACEW_en%26biw%3D1553%26bih%3D684%26tbm%3Disch&ei=OMkCTsH7KIfEgAfX-J3eCg
    I personally prefer to see opposing viewpoints and correlate them to literature and online sources before making up my own mind.

    “Sun warming up through millions of years”. Care to explain why you support man-made global warming?

    5). Yellowstone’s last magnitude eruption was 640,000 years ago. It’s last intensity eruption was 70,000 years ago (basaltic, if I recall correctly).

    6). The Clovis Comet is believed to have wiped out most of North America forces wildlife elsewhere. Off hand, I don’t know if the landbridge of the Bering Strait was passable; it would leave refugees into South America forcing North and South American species to battle for territory, resources, and etc. Last I read the Clovis Comet was estimated to be something to the effect of 4.5-5 miles diameter.

    7). With the number of extinct species, the climate is certainly not changing faster than in history. Perhaps, recorded history but not throughout history, this is what sparks adaptation and evolution in simple terms.

    8). If you mean, we as a cultural species should diversify its energy needs, and we shouldn’t simply focus on large cities? I agree. I personally prefer the country.

    9). In your hypothetical, civilizations of earth would possess the same technology level of that to pre-European contact Mesoamerica. If I recall correctly, the life expectency was roughly 35 years old, and there would be no real healthcare and medicine to speak of leaving birth/death rates incredibly high including the huge possibility the mother dies in childbirth high.
    Would you be willing to flip it?
    Instead of targeting the future generations to curtail population growth, we could:
    Remove all Democracy and Republic forms of government and insert/provide Authoritarian form/s of government
    Remove all human and civil rights install euthanasia/balance diversity by eliminating anyone 36 or above
    Remove all healthcare and medicine (I’d be dead)
    Remove all non-essential technology: Ipads, Computers, Cars, and other electric systems beyond shelter energy
    Only allow Hydro, Wind, Current, and Solar varying on geography and geology.

    With these measures, the population would be as close to perpetually balanced with nature as possible. There’s certainly a few tweaks like we could force people 36 and above into labor camps and feed them starvation rations, so we could improve the environmental friendly collective villages. We could abort every 5th daughter born in the village, and we could abort every deformed child born.

    The biggest flaw in preparing for the future in the original frame of context is that the next generation will have fewer genetics to replenish the genetic diversity with. Even within the original line of debate, the population control would also have to require a minimum of 1 child born per coupled household. Now, if the government/entity in authority possess that kind of authority, you have no grounds short of penalties for disobedience; this is Authoritarian.
    In essence, what we’re really discussing is byproducts or unintended consequences of our respective and national intellectual ideologies opposed to natural instinct. Do you see this underlining issue?

  64. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Scott,

    Thanks for your comments. I remember reading Collapse 5-6 years ago when it was first published. After your prompting I have reread parts of the last few Chapters again. Yes Jarred has eloquently described the mechanisims of collapse which we all agree, however the next stage on how we go about preventing it is missing. I suppose it’s like parenthood where there is no manual. So in today’s lapsidazical high-tech world, politicians and the uninformed general public typically want to see scientific proof before they take action. The climate change debate is a case in point.

    Being the key limiting nutrient in our food chain, (refer Justus von Liebig’s “law of minimum”) this is the next equivalent CO2 parameter upon which this issue can progress in the public and political arena as a means to encourage urgent attention on population control.

    The technology for managing it is quite simple. We simply have to design our future communities and allied industries around recycling this key nutrient in a sustainable manner. In the process we also have to reduce population numbers, and reduce and conserve energy usage, hence this is quite a sensible “out of the box approach” approach.

    However for us to do this we must appropriately account for and value phosphorus, e.g. offer carrot and stick tax breaks, set population targets, etc. This process thus allows everyone, including the ruling elite to be aware of its impact on their actions. Other key resources can also be valued in this manner, e.g. water, timber building materials, CO2, biodiversity, household population numbers, etc. In all instances, population control is the key parameter that will result in the “maximum bang for your buck” outcome. Does this make sense to you? Do you have any other suggestions?

    Ark Angel

  65. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Seen,
    I hope all is well. We can simply overcome genetic biodiversity problems in human populations by ensuring our populations move around. Consequently easily accessible transport is an important component in a sustainable future world.

    I also expect future sustainable populations to rise and fall in relation to world climate and natural disaster preparedness, e.g. we may deliberately run at below sustainable population levels to allow for these.

    Ark Angel

  66. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Scott,
    I just want to summarize what I said on my last post about why use phosphorus in the population debate; and make a correction: Phosphorus is a key limiting element to plant and human population growth. Like CO2, it is an element that can be physically measured. Consequently its limited measured availability can be used in the population control debate to set a Target for sustainable populations, a Timeframe for the development of sustainable populations, and a Trellis design on which sustainable populated cities can grow. Its use in this debate is a lateral “out of the square” solution to this problem.

    I am slowly formulating my ideas on this topic. Here is some more that you may be interested in:

    One of the main reasons for my discussion on world population control is to prevent the conditions that would result in innocent starving people who have no other recourse but to turn to bullets, bombs, terrorism, refugeeism or cannibalism to manage their population problem. Today the interdependence of the world market is such that not even America is economically immune from these things occurring, e.g. American taxpayers and its allies have literally spent untold billions (not to mention the spilt blood and suffering that has been experienced) on foreign military adventures in Asia, Africa, Middle East and at home (e.g. American/Mexican boarder control) over issues where I believe overpopulation is the root cause. Whereas, if all the citizens of the world had good government and were able to live a sustainable comfortable lifestyle within their own countries, then the need for more desperate population control measures would be negligible. Clearly this type of existence should be everyone’s goal.

    Consequently the money spent on these misadventures would have better been spent on education and family planning schemes, both at home by leading example and abroad by support; and on planning and preparing for a sustainable future. Technology cannot solve these issues over night. After a lengthy R&D period, it typically takes 20-30 years or more before a new technology is readily accepted.

    It is often said that “necessity is the Mother of all inventions”, consequently I believe the best way to initiate the right R & D into managing phosphorus and population is to immediately start valuing and accounting for all key elements in the environment that are crucial to our survival now, e.g. phosphorus, clean water, shelter materials, people, etc.. That way everybody, including the ruling elite is aware of their impact on future world wide growth and the populaces’ sustainable piece of mind …

    Ark Angel

  67. Whew!! I’m getting way behind on my own thread. Sorry about that. I’m going to put all of my replies down at the bottom rather than threading because I think it can be hard to find the replies once they are no longer near the bottom.

    Seen,

    First, I’d like to tackle the point of global warming. Asking me if I believe in it is a strange question. People these days often phrase belief in scientific evidence the way that they phrase belief in religion. This is a huge mistake. Global warming is not quite as proven as gravity (the observed fact) or general relativity (the theory that explains it to the best of our current ability in the absence of observed gravitons) or quantum mechanics or evolution (the observed fact) or natural selection (the theory that explains it).

    However, it has an overwhelming body of evidence. All debate at this point centers on exactly what the effects will be, how warm will it get, what will happen to various locales, how fast will the cryosphere melt, etc. There is virtually no real debate about the existence of anthropogenic climate change, except perhaps from Richard Lindzen who is using the same tactics he used decades ago when he fought for the tobacco companies. To my knowledge, he still does not admit the link between smoking and cancer is proven. And, this wacko maniac corporate whore is the best accredited and most often cited climate denier.

    But, on to the facts and the strong evidence in support of the basics of climate change theory, that adding CO2 to the atmosphere warms the planet.

    The concept of greenhouse gases that keep the planet warm dates to well over a century ago. It is far from controversial at this point.

    Check out this timeline.

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/timeline.htm

    Did you note the following entries?

    1824
    Fourier calculates that the Earth would be far colder if it lacked an atmosphere.

    1859
    Tyndall discovers that some gases block infrared radiation. He suggests that changes in the concentration of the gases could bring climate change.

    1896
    Arrhenius publishes first calculation of global warming from human emissions of CO2.

    So, the observation that CO2 warms the planet is far from new or controversial. Or, at least it wasn’t until ExxonMobil started deliberately spewing false information.

    Here’s some more interesting information:

    Due to the higher albedo (reflectivity) of Venus, despite its shorter distance to the sun, less sunlight actually gets through to the surface of Venus than gets through to the surface of Earth. Venus absorbs just 25% of the sunlight that hits it; Earth absorbs 70% of its sunlight.

    Without the effects of greenhouse gases the average temperature of the surfaces of the two planets would be Earth: -18 Celsius Venus: -41 Celsius. With greenhouse gases, especially CO2 in the case of Venus, the average temperatures on the surface of these planets are Earth: +15 Celsius and Venus: +430 Celsius.

    So, if CO2 is enough to cause Venus to go from -41 Celsius to +430 Celsius and Earth to go from -18 Celsius to +15 Celsius, I think it is incredibly obvious that increasing our CO2 by any significant amount will cause global warming. Do you see it otherwise? If so, how?

    These numbers were taken from the climate science text book ‘Is the Temperature Rising? The Uncertain Science of Global Warming’ by S. George Philander.

    http://tinyurl.com/ykw4tyd

    Perhaps I should keep each of my posts to one long or just a few short topics to make reply to specific issues easier. More to come later.

    P.S. Almost missed a key point. The sun’s output is getting stronger over hundreds of millions of years. There is no significant difference during the brief 200,000 year period of humans on the planet and certainly not since the start of the anthropocene.

    P.P.S. Looking at your links, it is obvious that you also believe in evidence. So, perhaps this will just give you some more information for other debates you may be involved in.

  68. Seen,

    Re: Genetic diversity. We already have none. We’re a bunch of inbred mutant piglets with cloven hooves. OK, not exactly, I just like quoting Lou Reed lyrics even when inappropriate.

    But, the truth is that 70-80,000 years ago there were only 1,000 breeding pairs of homo sapiens on the planet. We really are all inbred with very little genetic diversity despite the wide range of appearances to which it gives rise to.

    So, whether we have 7 million or 7 billion people on the planet, we have the genetic diversity of about 2,000 individuals plus a very small amount for new mutations since then.

    As for genetic diversity being key to survival, perhaps, to a point. But, having way more people than the planet can possibly support for the long term means that no matter what we do, our numbers will be dramatically reduced.

    We can do it voluntarily and with little suffering. Or, we can do it by starvation, warfare, thirst and other painful means that cause a lot of suffering. Maintaining a population of 7 billion is simply not an option.

    That which is unsustainable is not going to keep happening.

  69. Re: Bilderberg.

    Certainly they all want wealth and power. However, this is in limited supply. They are in competition with each other as well as the rest of us.

    So, while the oil and coal guys may want to avoid any and all carbon taxing including carbon trading, the natural gas people will want some encouragement to use gas as a transition fuel. And, Wall Street doesn’t give a damn about anything other than having new instruments to trade. With the global carbon market already at $200 billion per year, they would love to increase this by a third by adding the U.S. to the market. Then they can start trading carbon futures, calls, puts, and all sorts of derivatives, some of which are not even dreamed up yet.

    So, you won’t get any agreement on how to get wealth and power from these guys.

    Then there are those who want free markets globally. But, that is not conducive to the arms sales by the military industrial complex. So you won’t get agreement from the powers that be there.

    Re: Total destruction of the planet. You are correct, or mostly so, that the earth will be fine until the sun goes nova (not supernova, ours is too small) in about 4.5 billion years.

    However, the biosphere is highly susceptible to being destroyed and then rebuilt over tens of millions of years. So, if the earth itself is not destroyed but 95% of multicellular life on the planet goes extinct including especially humans, will that minor technicality be a big deal?

    As for the time limits on climate change, they are very much in question. There is a lot of (dare I say it) heated debate on the subject. We may already be past one or more tipping points. We’ve already got methane clathrates melting on the north slopes of Alaska and Siberia. That was long forecast to be a tipping point and may well be so.

    However, we must behave as if we have some time in case we actually do. Else, we are deliberately and with malice of forethought going to cause a much bigger mass extinction than we already have, possibly one that will rival the Permian/Triassic extinction, the prior record holder.

  70. Re: Clovis comet.

    This was an interesting hypothesis that became moderately popular for a time. I believe it is now disproven that there ever was such an impact.

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

    Re: Speed of climate change today.

    Yes. It actually is the fastest it has ever been, at least as far as I know. I know this graph makes it look as if climate change has been very rapid in the past. However, it must be remembered when reading such a graph that the time scale on the bottom is logarithmic. As you go farther into the past, you are looking at thousands and possibly millions of years for each pixel of the image.

    So, if you believe prior warming events were as fast as today, with say a 1 degree C rise in a century, please cite a source. I’ve not heard this before. I’m not sure whether I’d find it encouraging or discouraging. Perhaps I would have to know about the response of other life forms on the planet during such changes.

  71. Seen,

    The final of my replies to your previous post is below. After this, I will move on to more recent posts.

    I think you, and others, are misunderstanding my premise.

    A) I am not trying to return to an earlier level of technology. I am just trying to estimate how many people can live sustainably on our planet. By my calculation, that number is fewer than 300 million.

    B) Logan’s Run would not be my solution to our problems.

    C) I do not claim to have solutions to our problems.

  72. Ark Angel,

    You are explaining what you believe regarding phosphorus. I’m not there yet. Please provide some links to explain what we use phosphorus for, why it can’t be recycled, and why you believe it is in such short supply that we will run out of it before there are a billion climate refugees on the planet in 2050 or some other milestone of your choice that you believe will be a major hurdle.

    For myself, a billion climate refugees by 2050 and a fish free ocean soon to come from ocean acidification are some pretty large and close hurdles. I think that our current 5% reduction in global food production this year is a major problem since our population has not declined by that same number. And this is only a partial list of crises we face in the near future.

    Sorry, as I am getting way behind in this conversation, I clearly do not have the time to do your phosphorus homework for you. But, I’d love to read about it if you post some links.

  73. OK Ark Angel, I lied. I took some time to do your homework. Here’s what I came up with.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=phosphorus-a-looming-crisis

    Now, this claims that phosphorus may start becoming a problem as early as the end of the century. That’s just the beginning, when we might start seeing price hikes and such.

    If we’re still using commercial fertilizers for the rest of the century, we have much bigger problems. We’re going to run out of top soil and water long before then. We need to look into better agrarian technologies, even if they’re old technologies from before the false “green revolution” that made us dependent on eating fossil fuels, literally.

    Check out Polyface Farms for a vision of the future of farming … if we live that long.

    http://www.polyfacefarms.com/

    Note that they have essentially attempted to mimic natural systems.

  74. Seen says:

    Hello Ark,

    I’m well and yourself?

    The problem is at this point short of either forming a genocidal/mass murdering Authoritarian Government, or we come to terms that world-peace while noble is unnatural and therefore unsustainable. Consider, if we install a Authoritarian government to control the size and rate of the population, did we not essentially authorize the government to declare war on its own population; whether, the populace resists are is led to the slaughterhouse and slaughtered.

    In either case to make people that mobile and at a relative sustainable population, we do need to localize our Agriculture and diversify. Personally, I’d rather contend with CO2 emissions than emit radiation through radiactive waste. I see no reason why we should allow radiation to enter from solar winds and from ourselves. Presently, we’re doing the opposite.

    • I don’t believe that the only way to reduce population is through a genocidal world government. Fortunately, children are inferior goods. OK, correction, children are not goods. However, people do behave similarly toward children and toward inferior goods.

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

      Specifically, in the case of children, as people become more educated (especially women) and women enter the workforce and as their income increases, assuming family planning mechanisms are available, people voluntarily have fewer children.

      Educate women and get them into the workforce. It can’t happen fast enough.

      However, there are also social pressures that can be applied.

      I’m out of time this morning. But, if you have the time google birth rates in Iran and Karnataka. Both are examples of social pressures to reduce birth rates. If no one does my homework for me, I’ll post links later, though possibly not today.

      • Iran: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1374/is_1_63/ai_96417139/

        I believe their birthrate may be going up again. But, they were able to drop dramatically without changing any laws or implementing draconian policies.

        Karnataka, India: http://www.maha-arogya.gov.in/achievements/default.htm

      • Seen says:

        Hello Scott,

        Your evaluation here mirrors Robert Engleman’s “Population & Sustainability”, which appeared in “Scientific American” the summer of 2009. The copy I have is in Annual Editions Global Issues 10/11 from page 37-42. This is derived on page 41 that at the UN agreement in Cairo in 1994.
        1st, the female population presently makes up the majority of the present workforce post 2008 Financial Crash while male workers make up the majority of the unemployed/not employed statistics. “The Atlantic” has an article contending with this, and I’ll see if I can dig out an BLS link to it.
        I will also point out that this concept is derived through encouraging women to focus on themselves to attain not only their career focus, but it also encourages women to dually set high standard of living goals of lifestyle and consumption habits. In short, it encourages women to attain spacious living arranges like persay a McMansion and increase consumption revenue, which the US is a consumerist economy at the moment. The US principle exports are electronics, grains/food, and essentially military arms (Arms Dealing).
        Here’s a thought experiment: Take your gross income, then net income, necessary income expenditures such as food, clothing, utilities, and property tax. What do you have left for expensible household income for consumption? How much consumption do you consume via credit?

        Social Pressure is essentially pressure derived by Collectivist ideals. This is social conditioning through the Tyranny of the majority or mob rule, which has a tendency to be lead by emotion rather than logic. It’s a pre-conditioned step in forming an Authoritarian government.
        The principle objective is to surpress dissent among the population to complacency. Not to mention, this concept is directed at sustaining 70% or more consumption to GDP.

  75. Seen says:

    Hello Scott,

    To your first response:

    1). Most people do that by what it seems like the confusion between a physical science theory and a social science theory. If I recall correctly, more people betweeen the 70-90’s had focused on law, psychological, and sociology degrees. The two are not parallel. In social science, the hypothesis is a highly supported observation through experimentation and peer-review (repeated experimentation). The two are essentially flipped, and there is a rivalry between physical sciences and human sciences with the exception of Bio-Psych.
    The other issue is that many people believe science proves a fact, and this isn’t true. Science substantiates theories through repeated experimentation over long periods of time. Prime example is the Theory of Plate Tectonics essentially combined Seafloor Spreading and Continental Drift, and there’s been numerous circumstantial and concrete evidence to back it up. The Theory of Evolution is quite similar even though it’s much harder to locate the adaptations and the chain to a new species through evolutions. Eugenics/Balancing diversity is not quite as supported. At this point, it’s technically pseudo-science.
    Presently, man-made climate change/global warming is largely circumstantial.
    Is there an excess of CO2? Since post Cretacious-Teritary Boundary, Yes, it’s the largest peak; post, it’s drop off during the Jurassic-Cretacious Boundary. Our warmest temperature appears to have occurred during the Holocene Maximum prior to the Little Ice Age.
    Has the glaciers been melting? Yes. However, our control and experiment group or snapshot is incredibly narrowed from roughly the early 1800’s-present. This is essentially a baked experiment. Essentially, what it does is frame the debate, it also creates a dual comparison; population increased through the use of oil in harvest effiency and pesticides and some fertilizers increasing crop yeilds. It’s interesting to look at some of the people’s background here. Prime example being President Obama’s cheif science advisor Holdren, a co-author of Ecoscience, which I would love to get/borrow a hard copy and cross reference it to the pdf.
    Hm… I’ll have to see if I can borrow the book or find a pdf. It’d be interesting to see which possesses more CO2/water vapor/methane and etc historically between Earth and Venus.

    However, there has been a change. The ozone layer/magnetic field is weakening even 2012hoax.org admits this, so more solar radiation is capable to penetrate the atmosphere, and we have nuclear power plants that produce radioactive/radiation waste. It is interesting to note that man-made global warming would have renewed the nuclear power energy. Since radiation dissipation played a major role in the estimated age of the Earth, I am highly planning to conduct more research here. Thus far, it would make sense that the radiation plays a larger role here considering radiation had to dissipate prior to complex organisms existed. This is my point. If we are powerful enough to effect the climate this swiftly, it does not make sense CO2 would be the smoking gun sort to speak; it is more likely the release of radiation and the weakening of the ozone layer/magnetic field, which keeps most solar radiation out.

    • There are sciences like cosmology, evolution, and climate science that are indeed hard science, that have made predictions that come true and that are the simplest explanation for observed phenomena. Would it be nice to have a second earth, identical in every way, except without humans to measure our effects on the planet? Sure. But, we don’t. Nor do we have a second universe in which to study various cosmological effects. Nor do we have a second instance of life (or enough time) to watch evolution unfold from the simplest life form to today’s array of life. There are ways to perform science in the absence of controls. These are far from psuedoscience. Evolution is a fact at this point, as is gravity. And, the theory that explains it Natural Selection is among our most tried and proven theories. It is up there with General Relativity, the theory that explains the fact of gravity, and Quantum Theory.

      The qualitative relationship between CO2 and temperature has been known for over a hundred years and is not at all controversial. For some reason, ExxonMobil et. al. seem to have convinced a number of people that we require proof that increasing a known warming agent will warm the planet.

      The evidence that having already increased the CO2 from 280 ppm (or 220 if you accept that we began increasing CO2 through slash and burn agriculture 8,000 years ago) to the current 383+ ppm has indeed increased our temperature by 1 Celcius degree is actually quite overwhelming. You are just not paying attention.

      And, we’re already warmer than the Holocene maximum.

      BTW, temperatures at and for 10 million years after the KT impact were dramatically warmer than today. It was not until they cooled sufficiently that life on this planet could begin to recuperate from the warm period.

      Warm periods on this planet are closely associate with, and in some cases such as the P/T boundary, well documented to cause mass extinction. Interestingly, ice ages do not do so, though the snowball earth periods very well might have done so, had they happened after the Cambrian explosion. But, they didn’t. Since the Cambrian, we have not had a mass extinction associated with a cold period.

      • Seen says:

        Hello Scott,

        Re-read what I wrote, you will see that I was showing the principle difference between the scientific method between physical science and psychology with the exception of Bio-Psychology, which flips Theory and Hypothesis, and I discuss the difference between a scientific theory and scientific law.

      • Seen says:

        “The next concept I would like to consider is what the total population of a hypothetical Earth would be if the humans the world over at some point in history actually all had about the same level of technology as the native North Americans prior to contact with Europe.”

        This is your hypothetical at the beginning of the thread. This means that there would be no pesticides to protect crops, no medical technology, and etc. I took it a step farther by expressing a way this could be accomplished in the present environment.

        I note that you’ve ignored the impact of radiation emitted through Nuclear Energy Plants in addition to solar winds with the magnetic field/ozone layer eroded.
        Check your sources, check your sources methodology, and then double check the scientific method.
        Radiation is largely ignored in the framed debate. Radiation is emitted through Nuclear Energy, so there is a political incentive to the biggest energy lobby on Capitol Hill that includes Asteroid/Comet counter-measures.
        This is a bait and switch.
        The bait is that people are causing climate change; the switch is the catalyst/triggering mechanism.
        Nuclear Energy Plants should be decommissioned to prevent radiation emissions from Solar winds and human action.
        Then, we diversify our energy needs via Hydro, Wind, and Solar where applicable. Although I’d recommend using Coal in the west coast, this is derived by the future impact of the mantle hotspot presently underneat Yellowstone National Park is presently on a collision path with the Coal deposits, which lay less than 70 miles away. Humanity will not survive a mantle hotspot induced Fissure Eruption akin to either the Siberian or Deccan Traps. As it stands, the present climate alterations could be thrusted towards an Ice Age in the event of a magnitude eruption.
        Regionalize Agriculture to decrease Interstate Commerce and cost of that commerce.

        By diversifying energy sources, regionalizing aAgriculture and its transport, and decommissioning Nuclear Energy Power Plants energy needs are met while decreasing both CO2 and radiation emissions. Decommission Biofuels as a energy subsitute nullifies food shortage created by biofuels and necessity to expand farming, which particularly is essential in the Dust Bowl.

  76. Seen says:

    Hello Scott,

    Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment. I prefer looking at the evidence supplied by as many sides as possible (especially when it disproves my position, we people tend to get cocky and make stupid mistakes because of it, and I’m no exception there).

    2). Genetic Diversity:
    I see your point even though I’m pretty sure it was 5,000-10,000 women and an unknown number of men from a genetic standpoint, but your point with a misranthropic spin out it holds some water.

    The problem is that the Earth can hold the population it has and a bit more if the management or policymaking were making good policy decisions. This could be considered a flaw to the main discussion’s hypothetical. Similarly, the discussion can be flipped from the future generation to eldest generation; some issues remain the same but allows replenishment and diversity. The principle issue then becomes the value of human life, wisdom (varies sometimes, but the elderly tend to be profound), and morals. (Personally, I think re-strengthening the family is key, so there are fewer social dependencies but hey that’s me).

    3). Bilderberg:
    Not quite true, how they attain wealth, influence, and power is what they seem to agree on. It’s how to use it that seems to get conflicted.
    I think that you should research it; you’ll either see the correlations or won’t. It’s simply up to you.

    4). 2012:
    95% loss of the Biosphere, it certainly would be a major end of the world as we know it. This is part of the problem within the 2012er camps; the biggest debate is essentially the size and degree of the change. Rivaling ‘the Great Dying’ would be a large and severe change.

    I have no qualm with localizing food output and diversifying energy sources.
    If you follow my previous point regarding radiation output, CO2 would be the least of our worries, and increasing Nuclear Energy Power Points would worsen the problem.

    • “Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment. I prefer looking at the evidence supplied by as many sides as possible …”

      That sounds all well and good. The problem is that you have an inability, from the sound of things, to determine the difference between science and politics. So, you listen when politics and moneyed influences oppose science. Rather than leaving you unbiased, this makes you very biased. In the realm where science reigns, explaining how the universe and our planetary system work, politics has nothing to say. Politics should sit back, listen, and make appropriate political choices based on the science.

      2) Re: earth can hold it’s current population, please supply some evidence. We have lost 10% of our arable land to human caused desertification. The bread basket of the U.S. has lost half of its top soil and is watering the other half with fossil water (the Ogallala Aquifer) that does not replenish on human time scales, and is fertilizing this other half with fossil fuels that are not in unlimited supply (and phosphorus that you point out is also not unlimited).

      We’re using the planet’s resources at 150% of their ability to replenish. We overshoot the earth’s resources every year. By what measure do you think that the planet can support the present population, let along a few more? How much time do you consider in your calculations? 10 years? 50 years? 1,000 years? 100,000 years? 10,000,000 years?

      Remember, this is the point of this thread. If you think that the planet can sustain our current population in perpetuity, please post some links for the reasons that you think so.

      3) Bilderberg, let’s establish some debating rules here. I don’t do your homework for you. If you want to make a point, post some links, make some arguments, be specific.

      4) 2012? Who the hell mentioned 2012? Are you one of those freakazoids? Do you claim to know the date or even the year of our demise? I do not. Remember, there have been numerous doomsday predictions in the past. In fact, one other just passed, the May 21st psychos were proven wrong.

      P.S. Rethinking 4. Do you think I’m one of those freakazoids? Why did you mention 2012? Certainly you wouldn’t care about phosphorus if you thought the world would end next year.

      • Seen says:

        While I have some free time:

        1). To be scientific, you are supposed to take into as many factors into consideration to formulate a testable and repeatable Hypothesis. When factors are ignored such as the impact of radiation emissions via Nuclear Energy is not taken into account, this becomes a falsification of findings.
        Now that falsification of findings has been located, the next issue is to look at the incentive behind the falseification, which is most often contributed to political/self interests. In this case, Nuclear Energy’s principle energy competition Coal Power Plants become effectively politically handicapped, and Nuclear Energy is enabled to overtake the competition prior to Japan’s disaster. Interestingly, Nuclear Energy remains a viable alternative within the US, which happens to possess the largest energy lobby. Is it simple coincidence that the Oil Industry is poised to make huge profits through enabling Biofuels and Battery Powered transit energy to become competitive? Is it merely coincidence that Nuclear Energy is poised to overtake Coal Energy in the overall Energy Production? Is it also just coincidence that JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of American, and other High Frequency Traders are poised to make huge bonuses via Cap and Trade Legislation?
        I seriously doubt that this is a mere coincidence, and it is surprising that Wind, Solar, and Hydro possess environmental negative impacts as well. Such as in South America, Hydro power is largely causing desertification as well as in China that also forces the rivers and streams to back up during heavy rainfall, which causes dramatic flooded without creating levies.
        When it comes to governmental policy, politics can not be ignored.

        2). Obviously, we already admit that the population is approximately 6 billion people presently, which largely is derived by the technological advancement. Does that not qualify not only as a source?
        Pardon my spelling here, where Malthusian Theory and Crosfucian Theory fails is; the underlining that population sustainable size is largely relative through a variety of factors.
        What do you think is going to happen with High-Speed Railway, people are able to technically export and import more food and water as well as other raw and finished goods, which without could be argued as overpopulated by Malthusian Theory. We can also expand it to include nullifying the natural rivalry exhibited by Lions, Hyenas, and other wild life competeing for food, which essentially dictates world-peace is not sustainable. Peace and population sustainability are both human concepts and highly relative.

        Lets see here:
        Nuclear Energy, Hydro, Wind, and Solar all possess fraccing in their process.
        Nuclear Energy emits radiation.
        Coal emits CO2.
        Wind is varies upon regional Geology and Geography as well as design.
        Solar possesses a similar issue that also requires frequent and dependendable sunlight.
        Electric Cars dually is designed to be zapped during peak electric demand (Increased energy consumption anyone?) and batteries possess battery acid and other waste issues.
        Bow and Arrow, Spear, Firearm, and other increase meat supply and demand in addition to requirement for Corn feed to increase the supply to meet demand.
        Corn is a human food source in addition to Ethanol within the US rather than sugar-cane in Brazil (can we say food shortage as ethanol demand goes up in addition to the return of the Dust Bowl, which partially why farmers are paid not to grow to maximum capacity).
        Sustainable Population is relative depending on the technological level, and the size of the population. This is relative; there is no silver bullet number.
        Technology enables people’s civilization to become less dependent on natural occurances such as rainfall via aquadects, infrastructure for transport, and the ability to remain remotely statationary. It also allows for building codes to withstand certain magnitude earthquakes. For everything, there is a demand for supply of some form of natural resource; whether, it is grown, metallic, or non-metallic.
        Life is borrowed; there’s no reason to believe that the human species will survive another weekend let alone a decade, century, or millenium.

        3). In terms of Bilderberg, I made a point, and I suggested researching it. By definition, this is essentially assigning homework, I cannot help but note that you’re determining to look at that casual assessment a bit deeper; than, I had intended.
        http://globalistagenda.org/
        http://green-agenda.com/index.html
        http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21/english/Agenda21.pdf
        http://realagenda.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/the-first-global-revolution.pdf
        http://www.postcarbon.org/Reader/PCReader-Heinberg-Limits.pdfhttp://sandiego.indymedia.org/media/2006/10/119975.pdf
        http://sandiego.indymedia.org/media/2006/10/119975.pdf

        Are you a member of the Boomer Generation?

        4). I brought it up likely in a similar manner that the sites name is Misanthropic or distrust/hatred towards humanity in addition to your Misanthropic Princple page.
        The principle difference between Environmentalists and Naturalist 2012ers is that our time on Earth will come to an end, and people have absolutely no say in the matter. Nature is historically homicidal and often genocidal.
        I mentioned this in my original section post, so I’m rather surprised freakzoid didn’t come up sooner. Nice one though, but I take mischevious pride in being called a nutter, which brings me to the second reason. I’m not one to cede to social pressure, and both are supported by purely circumstantial evidence. Is it not circumstantial that man-made climate change frames the debate in context of coal and oil technological invention, and radiation emissions are not factored in?

        Ark is the one who was specifically discussing phosphorus; I merely only mentioned that a Zero Hedge contributor.
        There is the Seed Vault, Mass Bunker Building, and many other circumstantial correlations. So, my points have been made. If you want to substantiate or research suggested topics that seem to correlate, this is your decision. I’ve given you more than enough to get you started if you choose to.

        In my response to my initial mention of it, I repled that I would have supported an invalidated idea. I thought that should indicate; I don’t know the exact end of the world as we knew it.

        “First and foremost, I must state that this write-up is hatched out of my own little brain and is not intended to be truly scientific. It probably does not even qualify as a SWAG (scientific wild-assed guess).”

        I would like to point out that your initial post and disclaimer admits; this is an inmeasurable and truly untestable discussion.
        If we’re revising the rules of engagement, this should include nullifying Wikipedia; due to, it being essentially plagarized material and hugely not considered a reliable source in academia.
        I will also point out that such revisionist rule of engagement is solely derived from position of authority, which essentially invalidates the discussion.
        This indicates that you’re activiating Godwin’s Law, which is essentially using authority to change the context of the discussion/debate.
        “The Good Earth” by McConnell refer to page 16. ‘Characteristics of Bad Science’.

        The long-term survival of our species must first be understood that long-term survival is not guranteed. Technology is largely why we still exist as the article “Get Smart” indicates by Jamais Cascio.
        Our ego-maniac attitude about ourselves as a species may lead us into extinction anyhow, so our long-term survival is largely questionable because we’ve mismanaged essentially what has enabled us to survive.

        This is a Collectivist viewpoint, Scott. I don’t trust the government to manage any type of crisis effectively. The most recent example is that of the government’s reaction to the 2008 Financial Crisis. Instead of correcting the structural impairments that caused the crash, the governments have thrown trillions of currency bills at it, which have historically shown to be futile.
        The technology exists that enables the population as is to be sustained if it wasn’t for immigration legal/illegal and migration; the population size per country would show catastrophic demographic impairments. Such as Social Security does not need to wait until the 2030’s; it is already operating in the red based on the present circumstances. Wait until the bubbles the monetary and fiscal stimulis/quantative easing methods created bursts, 2008 will be as much as a walk in the park as the Summer of 1929 was preceding the crash into the Great Depression. The global economy is stuck between a rock and a hard place.

        I agree that we’re heading for a crash; our principle disagreement is in the catalysts.

        1). People will end up fighting another world war. World-peace is not sustainable (External population control).
        2). Internal Population control is eugenics, which is referred to as balancing diversity these days/designation of undesirable people.
        The US is conducting warfare on Libya due to Qadhafi’s public declaration that the rebels were undesirable.

        I disagree. Befriending principle food sources is never a wise idea, and it creates unnecessary personal misery.

    • Seen says:

      I’m out of time for now, I’ll respond to the rest when I get a chance.

  77. Seen says:

    Hello Scott,

    5). Clovis Comet:
    According to Wikipedia, you appear right, and I apparently stayed more current. I’ll certainly conduct more research surrounding the Clovis Comet.

    6). Double-checking the graph top and bottom, it goes up to 2 million years, so you do have a point. However, the Chicxulub Impact is believed to have created an Ice Age, which I am given to understand hasn’t corrected, which was my original point that created a rapid change originally created by the Deccan Traps leading to the K-T Boundary.
    That is a steady and rapid decline in temperature here is it not?

    Good question, I honestly don’t recall reading a precise number increase-decrease simply rapid climate change… Hm… Apparently, we both essentially recommended homework to the other.

    • 6) To what graph are you referring? The one I posted goes back 542 million years.

      I’m not personally aware of any ice age following the Chicxulub impact. Please post a source for this. There’s no mention of it here.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous%E2%80%93Tertiary_extinction_event

      The graph I posted clearly shows a warm period following the impact. In fact, though the impact was 65.3 MYA it was only 55 MYA that the life on the planet began to recover, when the temps began to cool again. So, while most evidence does point to the impact as the cause of the extinction, it also points to cooling as the conditions required for the proliferation of life.

      In fact, the permian/triassic boundary was another warm period, both being 6C warmer than pre-industrial times. And, for that time, warming was the direct cause of the extinctions.

      Please remember that 6C is at the high range, but still in range of the business as usual estimates for anthropogenic climate change. This means that we may well cause an extinction of the scale of the P/T event, the current record holder for mass extinctions on this planet.

      Re: Homework. There is a difference. I provided a link. You can simply read the graph and tell me where it shows a 1C/century rise in temperature.

  78. Seen says:

    Hello Scott,

    I think that our misunderstanding is persepective viewpoints.
    I honestly don’t buy into a perpetual long-term sustainable population size. The population can be bigger or smaller for a variety of reasons, but they remain at best relatively sustainable.
    A). I didn’t aim to make this impression; I was following through on the hypothetical.
    B). If I saw Logan’s Run, it has been years. (I had to double check into it to be sure; I recognize the plot, which essentially is the same formula to “The Island).
    C). I certainly don’t. I do have a tendency when I’m compelled to post and voice my viewpoint; I really do tend to go all in.

    (Ark, I think that a contributor on a website Zero Hedge dicusses phosphrous, but I’d have to double check. But, it dealt with new ways to grow Agriculture, so I’ll see if I can dig it out/search the site’s articles) (I tend to bookmark articles on various topics until fairly recently; it wasn’t very organized though…).

    • What would you expect for a range of values in the long term survival of our species? Do you think we can have even relative stability with populations in the billions? I believe that our current population is destined to crash. We can deliberately lower it as painlessly as possible or have it lowered for us by cold and uncaring natural processes. I would prefer the former. I think that there would be far less suffering, both human and non.

  79. Seen,

    Worpress is not letting me reply to anything that is already indented too far, at least not in a threaded way. So, I’ll put all my replies at the bottom. I’m also kind of busy, so may not reply to all of your recent comments at once.

    Regarding women in the workforce, I was talking about worldwide, not in the U.S.

    U.S. birthrate is very important because of our high footprint per individual. We’re the highest consuming (read most destructive) people in the world. We also have the highest birthrate among the developed nations of the world.

    However, we’re just about at replacement.

    When I was speaking about educating women and getting them into the workforce, I meant globally. In the developing nations of the world, birthrates are sometimes 3 times what they are in the U.S. It is because of birthrates in the developing and failed nations of the world that human population is forecast to hit the wildly unsustainable number of 10 billion.

  80. Seen,

    Yes. My original hypothesis was to come up with the population in pre-Columbus Americas and extrapolate what world population might have been had that been the level of technology around the world.

    Note that in this hypothetical world, there is some agriculture and some hunting and gathering.

    However, I picked this level of population and technology because this was a level that caused mass extinctions even without our more technically advanced and denser populations.

    My premise is that this is a level of population we know to be unsustainable.

    A second premise of mine is that at our current level of technology, the sustainable population would be lower, not higher. This is because we use more of the planet’s resources per person, not less. We’re gobbling up this once beautiful planet at a rate I find shocking, alarming, and scary as all hell.

    If you asked my gut feel, not based on any calculation at all, about what a sustainable population might be, I’d knock 3 zeros off the end of our current population and still require zero population growth. Perhaps knocking only 2 zeros off would be enough. Who knows? That is the point of this discussion. To try to arrive at a number that would be sustainable.

    It’s just a mental exercise. I don’t know how to get the population that low. Nor do I know the time limit by which we must do so.

    I strongly believe that the longer we wait, the lower the population the planet will support, at least for a few tens of millions of years or so until the planet recovers from the current disaster we call humanity.

  81. Ark Angel says:

    Dear Scott and Sean,

    I have been busy of late so I have not been able to make any postings. Scott here is some information on the prediction of world phosphorus reserves:
    http://www.ifdc.org/Media_Info/Press_Releases/September_2010/IFDC_Report_Indicates_Adequate_Phosphorus_Resource.

    Ark Angel

    • Interesting. However, we’re already seeing a 5% reduction in world food production due to global warming. I think we are going to hit other limits long before phosphorus becomes a problem. One of my points above is that we have to get off of industrial fertilizers anyway and begin to respect top soil and treat is as a renewable and sustainable resource. We don’t do that now and will not as long as we stick with industrial fertilizers.

  82. Seen,

    “I note that you’ve ignored the impact of radiation emitted through Nuclear Energy Plants in addition to solar winds with the magnetic field/ozone layer eroded.”

    Yes. I have ignored these. I have not read anything that says that they contribute to global warming. There are many issues with nuclear power. I am generally against nuclear power for a host of other reasons. Though, recently, I have learned of fast breeder reactors.

    I do not have a strong feel for whether they are safe enough. But, by using spent nuclear fuel from other sorts of reactors, they do help clean up the mess we have already made. They also would not kill miners of uranium as they obviate the need for mining uranium.

    So, I’m reserving my judgment of these until I hear more about their safety.

    As for contributions of nuclear power and solar variability to global warming, I have never heard a word about the former. The latter, according to the peer reviewed papers I have read accounts for 5-15% of global warming. And, while the sun’s output now lower, we are seeing increasing evidence of further warming. So, the sun is indeed the source of the energy trapped by greenhouse gases, but is most definitely not the cause of global warming.

    If you want to post something suggesting that nuclear power is causing warming, despite the very small amount of radiation leaked, please make sure that whatever you post is peer reviewed.

  83. Seen,

    Wow. I usually try to be more respectful than this. But, in this case, I just can’t.

    I almost fell off my chair laughing at those ludicrous links you posted regarding Bilderberg.

    Do you honestly believe that the world’s rich and powerful are the ones behind your so-called green agenda??!!?

    The rich and powerful are destroying the planet at an alarming rate. They are the ones who want to make use of the dirtiest fuel on the planet, the tar sands of Canada. They are the ones who want hydrofracking. They are the ones who want to “drill baby drill”. They are the ones who decided to pretend that corn ethanol was actually a good idea when everyone in the environmental community, even those who support biofuels (which does not include me), knows that making corn ethanol requires as much fuel in as you get out. They are also the ones who are making the world an ever poorer place with greater income disparity, a horrible thing for the environment because it encourages slash and burn agriculture. They are the ones destroying millions of acres of rainforest to grow palm oil. They are the ones who pollute the planet with toxic waste products like PCBs, mercury, and bullets made of depleted uranium. They are the ones getting rich selling arms to poor nations so that people can kill each other and destroy the environment in the process.

    Yet, you think it is the rich and powerful starting the green movement.

    You have got to be fucking kidding me!!

    If that were true, why is the environmental movement getting nowhere? Why are we producing more CO2 than ever before? Why are the rich and powerful supporting the ineffective carbon trading instead of a simple tax at the wellhead?

    No. I’m sorry. If the Bilderbergers are in control, they most assuredly have not one damn thing to do with environmentalism or the green movement. Your hypothesis is ludicrous in the extreme. That is why you can only find fringe and extremist conspiracy theorist groups to mention it.

    <Pause>

    Sorry, still laughing. All those trillions of dollars behind the green movement and they continue to get nowhere. What a hoot!!

    Thanks for the best belly laugh I’ve had in a long time.

  84. Seen,

    Above your Bilderbergers and fries, you made a point that started with this:

    “Obviously, we already admit that the population is approximately 6 billion people presently, which largely is derived by the technological advancement. Does that not qualify not only as a source?”

    I don’t understand this paragraph at all, meaning I literally can’t parse it out and determine its meaning. Nor can I follow the rest of the paragraphs in that section.

    Would you please restate this? I suspect that this point is more on-topic than most of the rest of your post. But, I just don’t get the point you are trying to make?

    Are you trying to state that because there are 6 billion (actually 6.9 and we are on track to hit 7 later this year) people on the planet that this number is sustainable? If not, what is your point?

  85. Seen,

    “4). I brought it up likely in a similar manner that the sites name is Misanthropic or distrust/hatred towards humanity in addition to your Misanthropic Princple page.
    The principle difference between Environmentalists and Naturalist 2012ers is that our time on Earth will come to an end, and people have absolutely no say in the matter. Nature is historically homicidal and often genocidal.”

    Sorry. Nature is not conscious except as its creatures are conscious. Beyond that, nature is just a set of conditions. It is neither homicidal nor genocidal. Nor is it friendly and coddling. It simply is. Any anthropomorphizing we tend to do such as recognizing that 99% of all species that ever lived are extinct or stating that “nature is red in tooth and claw”, are mere humanizing attempts on our part. We like to believe that there is something more than a set of physical processes that brought us to this place. But, there isn’t. There are no gods. There is no consciousness to nature itself.

  86. Seen,

    Regarding wikipedia, I tend to cite it a lot. For non-controversial subjects, I find it offers good explanations that lay people can understand. And, what you call plagiarizing (ignoring the plain fact that wikipedia makes no attempt to pass the content off as its own), is actually well substantiated information that can be checked by simply going to the footnotes.

    Sometimes I post peer-reviewed publications; sometimes I post reputable articles written for lay people. Since neither of us is a scientist, you must admit that in many of these subjects one or both of us might have some real trouble understanding raw peer-reviewed scientific works. Sometimes I can read them; sometimes not. It depends on the subject and the paper itself.

    I asked for peer review specifically on the claim that nuclear power contributes to global warming because this is actually a pretty outlandish claim. I did not ask for this on phosphorous which, as I suspected, was merely something I’d not heard about.

    But nuclear power contributing to global warming would imply massive radiation leaks, I think. So, on that, I’m prepared to call bullshit. For that, if you want to persist in this claim, I want real peer reviewed reputable data. On this one, I suspect you will have none.

  87. Seen,

    I agree that the long-term survival of our species is not guaranteed. Personally, I’m wondering whether we’ll survive the next century or two. Surviving for eons seems highly unlikely at best given our current penchant for self-destruction.

    However, that does not mean that we should give up and kill ourselves.

    Further, your statement equating controlling our own numbers through such actions as educating women with eugenics shows that you do not understand either eugenics or education.

    The idea that people can have a better life by breeding less is far from new. And, as all evidence shows, those who have the education and means to make a choice generally choose fewer children. This may not be true in every single case, but is statistically true across every single population of humans.

    How on earth could giving people the means to dig themselves out of desperate poverty ever be equated with eugenics?

  88. It maybe more accurate to predict that the biological human species will not survive, but that the intelligent robots that they will soon create in the near future will. Can you visualize a “race” of computerized “thinking robots” that can perform all the functions that Homo Sap. does now, but better, and in a far more inhospitable environment, too?
    While the future defies predictions, it also has twists and turns that are impossible to visualize, given our current experiences and imaginations! [ It will not be a world of sexual gratification and reproduction as we know it now!]
    So enjoy another swig from the jug, and conjure up a different scenerio, if you dislike mine!

    • Hmm… The intelligent robots … perhaps.

      Just to play devil’s advocate to your idea though, not because I truly feel strongly about such science fiction views of the future, what happens if they’re all running PicoFlaccid WinDoze and all hang at the same time so that none of them are available to reboot the others. I realize this would be a very infrequent occurrence. But, when speaking of geologic time, the infrequent becomes a near certainty.

      Worse still. Think for a bit about the creatures we dream up. Sure we sometimes dream up a peaceful fire-breathing dragon to keep the xenophobic murderous white knights in check. But, more often than not, our creations, whether of our imaginations or in reality, are a reflection of ourselves. Think about all the violent genocidal gods we’ve dreamed up. Why would our robots be less like us than our gods?

      Would they not kill each other off with computerized germ warfare as each struggles to invent the most deadly virus to which only s/he and his/her family are immune?

      As you know, I’m mostly just kidding with this, as I suspect you are as well.

      And don’t forget, when you dream of a truly peaceful world, look up. One is visible in the night sky on most clear nights.

      Let’s hope we don’t cause that, even for just a few tens of millions of years.

  89. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Scott–thanks for the invite at CageMatch to give this thread another view. I don’t see/read the “show” you referred to.

    You still haven’t defined what you mean by sustainability. Sustain “what?”

    The Peak Phosphorous issue is another good issue along with how many other similar variables that “if nothing changes the trend line will kill us?” I’ll guess 536. Anyone want to take the high/low bet?

    Phosphorous like almost all other issues will be solved. Or like the Hun coming over the wall–not solved and our remnants will carry on. Life is like that.

    Does smallpox live in your sustainable world or not?

    I’ll put it to you just the opposite: without billions of people, humans will not survive. We need that mass to create the technology that will save us all. Otherwise, with minimum populations being preyed on by smallpox and sabre tooths, we reach bottlenecks wherein a slight tilt to the negative wipes us all out.

    Beyond SILLY for you to negate the unlimited potential of technology to raise/maintain our numbers given Homo Aduptus’s nature to accept the given as the natural and good.

    Did I miss anything else?

    • bobbo,

      Thanks for the respect you have shown in referencing that other post on this thread when I specifically requested that you not do so. Is this because I criticized your language skills?

      No comment on the Bilderberg Conspiracy Theory bobbo? Really?

      I’m disappointed. I was actually curious what you’d think of the world’s richest and most powerful people demonstrating their inability to do anything for the environment despite using it as their strategic direction for world domination.

      What’s your take on the radiation leaks causing global warming?

      Did the particles from 1950 and beyond travel back in time to the 1800s to start the warming trend we see?

    • Oh … and sustain what? How about the species? How about a habitable biosphere? Why do you have a problem with the definition of sustainability?

      I know Seen is going to hound me for citing wikipedia again.

      But, their definition meets mine well enough for this discussion.

      Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. For humans, sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions.

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

      Instead of questioning well-defined and non-controversial words, why not try actually discussing the subject? If you don’t like this definition, feel free to cite your own, but please, not another made up load of horseshit. Cite a source.

      And, when you’re done picking a reasonable definition, make a point … please.

      As for billions of people being required in order to survive, that is obviously false. If it were true, we never could have gotten to the point of having said billions in the first place. Clovis point weapons were enough for a far smaller number of humans to kill off 83% of the large North American mammal species and 87% of the large South American mammal species. I think we can handle ourselves with fire and spears if need be. Certainly, our current level of technology is enough to combat large predators, which is why we have none.

      As for the smaller creatures that threaten us, they do so precisely because we live in such large numbers. Epidemics of small pox, plague, cholera, and numerous others, could not possibly exist without too many people crowded into too small a space.

  90. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    I apologize for referencing anything we weren’t supposed to. I often read too quickly.

    I think my questions were fair. You choose not to answer. Thats fair too.

    As to the Bilderberg conspiracy or time traveling radiation, I was keeping it real.

    • As far as your questions, the only thing I chose to ignore was whether smallpox lives in my sustainable world. I didn’t answer because I have very mixed feelings on this subject. Why do you place such great importance on it?

      All of your other questions are answered in either my response to you or, in the case of phosphorus, to Sean and Ark Angel.

      Specifically, I answered what sustainable means. So, now would you like to get back on topic? And, remember, 10 years or 50 years or 1,000 years is all short-term. Our species is currently a short-lived one with just 200,000 years of history. If we want to make it to be a long-lived species, a choice I believe we have the potential to make despite our current mind-set and predicament which would state otherwise., we must think in millions of years. Horseshoe crabs are a long-lived species, having been around on this planet for 400,000,000 years.

      Do you think we have the potential to be as good as a horseshoe crab? I doubt it. But, I think we should try.

  91. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Well……ok…….but clearly you are NOT answering my questions directly, or IOW–referring to your definition does not answer my more specific questions. Defining what sustainability means does not define “what” is being sustained. And that to me is the key to this issue: WHAT is being sustained? I can only repeat what was asked and not answered at the beginning of this thread and perhaps the easiest and clearest example is:

    Does smallpox exist in your sustainable model?

    Your definition of sustainability DOES NOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION. Insulting of you to insist it does.

    Its important because it defines your issue. WHAT is being sustained? With greater complexity: a botanical park earth with every species given equal importance -or- one that identifies humans as the ONLY important species with all others brought into service for that goal? How many of what other species on earth are required to sustain the human population as it constantly expands? That also is a definition of sustainability hinging on WHAT is being sustained?

    Silly to argue forcefully for your position and then when asked about terms of basic definition you say you have mixed feelings. The whole point of a discussion is to clarify these issue, not deepen the mud.

    I champion the dialectic, not the circular.

    I doubt the Bilderberg issue will be worth reading, even for entertainment. There is too much BS that passes for thinking. I eschew that. But, we shall see.

    • bobbo,

      Why is saying that I have mixed feelings about smallpox not answering your question? Is “I don’t know” not a valid answer in your world? Would it help for me to elaborate the issues regarding smallpox so that you can know exactly why I find the issue difficult?

      OK, let’s do that. If nothing else, I suspect there are others reading this blog who think you are just an asshole for harping on this. You are. As am I. But, not for that reason. So, let’s begin.

      <long irrelevant discussion of smallpox>
      Most people will only get as far as caring about this from a human standpoint. From this viewpoint, there are only two issues.
      1. If we destroy smallpox and are incorrect about it being the last vile, we run the risk that we will have a harder time making a vaccine and people will die in the interim.
      2. If we do not destroy smallpox, there is a risk that someone could steal the vile and unleash it on humanity for any of a number of bizarre reasons.

      Looking beyond ourselves, we must decide what it means to kill the last vile of smallpox.

      Since unicellular life does not die, but merely divides, are all cells of smallpox a single individual, making the destruction of the vile simple murder? Or, is it destruction of an entire species? (Genocide? Speciescide? Do we have a word that describes such an horrific act?)

      Is it moral to consider killing an entire species? Does it matter if killing the entire species is really killing one individual? Do we have the right as a conscious species to make a decision like this?

      What about the effect on biodiversity of the loss of a species? Can we ever be sure whether this will be the one species that is a crucial link that might cause a downward spiral of diversity that takes us with it? Since smallpox is already extinct in the wild, this last seems unlikely.

      What rights does the smallpox itself have?
      </long irrelevant discussion of smallpox>

      Yes bobbo. This is indeed a difficult topic. No. I will not answer yea or nay. I will say that I understand the issue. I know why you are asking. And I do not know the answer.

      Now onto what is being sustained, that is actually a good question. Several things.

      1. Biodiversity.
      2. The habitable environment.
      3. The species we know and love.
      4. The natural rate of evolutionary change. We’re currently at 1,000 times the natural rate of extinction, by most estimates. This is not sustaining anything or anyone.

      I may add to that list later. I need to go now. That should be enough for a start. More on your other posts later.

      • bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

        Why is saying that I have mixed feelings about smallpox not answering your question? Is “I don’t know” not a valid answer in your world? Would it help for me to elaborate the issues regarding smallpox so that you can know exactly why I find the issue difficult? //// Heh, heh. The question/your answer all go to what you are trying to sustain. You waffle all over the place and flip flop back and forth. Mixed feelings and I don’t know when setting forth the boundaries/structure of a hypothetical question just won’t do.

        How about this: do you want to discuss the maximum sustainable population of human beings or something else?

        Do you want to discuss sustaining bio diversity however it might be defined? How many species? Much more complex question. If humans kill any species, including smallpox, then the maximum biodiversity has already been exceeded. Didn’t primative man do that 1000’s of years ago killing all the birds of a certain plumage for the humans’ decoration? Since when have humans been killing how many species per year? Seems like its 10-20 every years ((This box is covering up my typing!))
        So–maintaining bio diversity to the max or to status quo==the answer is evidently a very small number, quite lower than how many humans can be cared for if bio diversity is serverly impacted.

        You need to clearly state what it is you want to sustain. You should do it at least for discussion purposes and keep your desire to keep smallpox alive at bay? We can’t agree on how to define whats needed to just keep human alive, now add blue whales and all other species you think are cute?

        I suspect you will change the subject from Max CC OF HUMANS, to some undefined level of bio diversity. We should discuss the impact of the Bilderbergs instead.

  92. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Oh–and you asked not to cross link. I didn’t do that. Its another pesky definitional issue. When you CLEARLY define what you are talking about, communication and learning is possible to occur. Without clear definitions, only a muddled stew will be concocted.

    Cross link–incorporating info from one web post to a different blog or to provide a clickable web address? Thats what cross link means to me. Merely mentioning a different blog is perhaps a cross reference but its not a link.

    Everything is definitional. Worth the time to think about that.

    • Ack. I did not think of the possibility that you might provide enough information to get there without providing an actual link. Strange thing to do really. But you’re right. You followed the letter if not the obvious intent of my request.

      • bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

        Why is it not “obvious” to you that your private intent is not obvious to other people? Other people can only read what you write. Cross link has a meaning. “Don’t refer to this” has a different meaning. The words and tone of my compliment to you were “obviously” nothing but being polite and friendly. I can see your aggravation at first blush, but not when YOUR ERROR is pointed out to you.

        Carrying capacity of Human Beings has a meaning. Maintaining bio diversity has a different meaning. What is your private intent?

        You take what should be a learning experience FOR YOU and use it to insult other people for not knowing your private mind.

        Good luck with that.

      • bobbo,

        Sometimes, you really should read a dictionary. Not everything is that subjective.

        And, I didn’t insult you in the post to which you responded. I merely acknowledged the misunderstanding. Read my post again.

  93. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    I’m on a roll. Killing smallpox destroys your base assumptions, opening the door to my Billions scenario putting man at the apex. The question then is sustaining the maximum human population, not some other combination of other species that on close inspection are either smallpox or yeast. I vote for yeast and not for smallpox. On the same list: the blue whale. What is the tradeoff for the blue whale?

    I saw a show that said those large mammals in North and South America were dying off due to climate change and/or competition from their smaller cousins?

    Too easy to “blame man” for all these things. But as man, especially hunter/gatherers are part of nature, why not? Don’t species die out due to competition from other species? Why not man competing as well?

    This ain’t a Walt Disney Movie we are filming here.

    • Can we say enough to the discussion of smallpox now? I gave a fairly detailed description of many of the issues surrounding it above.

      I don’t agree that the question is only about maximizing human population. Though it is the main point of this thread to ask that question.

      Keep in mind though, we don’t know how much biodiversity is required to sustain the maximum human population. We know that a loss of bees got farmers really nervous. So we know we need to protect a wide variety of bee species. How many other relationships are there of which we are not even yet aware? How many are already in such decline that we may already be dramatically reducing the maximum sustainable human population?

      Blue whales probably deserve to be considered for their own right. Most people probably don’t really want to consider the moral rights of bacteria and viruses, though I am willing. But, blue whales are highly intelligent and beautiful animals that do pique the interests of many humans. They are likely sentient in their own right. They are certainly worthy of moral considerability to me. So, yes. I too vote for the blue whale.

      I also vote for yeast, not the least of which because I like to drink their pee. It makes me drunk!

      I’ll come back to the cause of the die off later. But, in case not, please consider the number of ice ages and warm periods that these species survived before choosing to all die at the time that humans came along. This was neither the first ice age nor the first warm period that these animals had survived through and thrived through before.

      More later. There are a lot of good links I can post on this if I haven’t already posted them above.

      • bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

        Can we say enough to the discussion of smallpox now? I gave a fairly detailed description of many of the issues surrounding it above. /// No. The issue is definitional. Pick yes or no and let the discussion be framed and continue. If you pick no smallpox cannot be killed then you are tending towards the bio diversity question. If you agree that smallpox and all other diseases should be killed off, then you are talking about maximum carrying capacity of humans on earth. Two entirely different discussions and you can’t make up your mind over which one to have.

        I don’t agree that the question is only about maximizing human population. Though it is the main point of this thread to ask that question. //// Ummmm, you can’t be more directly conflicted. Which is it? If you are going to discuss both, can we atleast label one CC (Carrying Capacity) and the other BD (Bio Diversity)? Maybe color code them as well?

        Keep in mind though, we don’t know how much biodiversity is required to sustain the maximum human population. /// Yes, the very issue that makes it interesting.

        We know that a loss of bees got farmers really nervous. /// Saw a show on the loss of bees in China. They were hand pollinating pears I think. could that be true?===or was it a dream or a hypothetical? I’m fuzzy on that, sorryl

        So we know we need to protect a wide variety of bee species. /// Yep, until food is engineered in vats. Could be the big break in CC to get our numbers over 20 Billion.

        How many other relationships are there of which we are not even yet aware? /// I’m sure its in the thousands.

        How many are already in such decline that we may already be dramatically reducing the maximum sustainable human population? /// I think we are in a race to that tipping point. Bees just a good example. The reduced food production because of the warming atmosphere is another. Collapse of the fishing industry seems around the corner for everything edible unless we develop a taste for jellyfish.

        Blue whales probably deserve to be considered for their own right. /// Clearly belongs ONLY in the BD thread.

        Most people probably don’t really want to consider the moral rights of bacteria and viruses, though I am willing. /// Me too==they have none under any theory.

        But, blue whales are highly intelligent and beautiful animals that do pique the interests of many humans. They are likely sentient in their own right. They are certainly worthy of moral considerability to me. So, yes. I too vote for the blue whale. /// As stated: purely for the BD thread and probably irrelevant to the CC thread. How many top predators do we need to maintain a healthy ocean? Sharks?–yes. Whales??–I doubt it but indeed who knows what the feedback/interlocked loops might be?

        I also vote for yeast, not the least of which because I like to drink their pee. It makes me drunk!

        I’ll come back to the cause of the die off later. But, in case not, please consider the number of ice ages and warm periods that these species survived before choosing to all die at the time that humans came along. /// You’ll need more than the coincident timing to make the link.

        This was neither the first ice age nor the first warm period that these animals had survived through and thrived through before. //// and yet species become extinct even when man is no where around.

        More later. There are a lot of good links I can post on this if I haven’t already posted them above. /// I’m more interested in your response to Jameson. Very thoughtful post. Regarding Bilderberg group. I didn’t see a specific link to them or their issues. I also eschew conspiracy theories. I’ll stick to ragging on you.

      • Fuck you. When you start with not accepting “I don’t know”, I stop reading.

        Bite me very much have a shitty day.

        I don’t know is always always always an acceptable answer. If you can’t accept it, perhaps it is you who do not understand the complexity of the issue you brought up.

        Maybe when I’m less pissed off by this, I’ll read the rest of your post. But, not now.

  94. S. Jameson says:

    An excellent discussion! Although I do not believe an accurate number can ever be calculated because of all the variables involved, it is enlightening and entertaining to consider the variables themselves, in much the same way as it is to consider probabilities to enter into the Drake equation.

    As a species, I do not think we are doomed to extinction simply because we grossly over populate the Earth, even if we are almost certainly condemning our children’s children to challenges we are only beginning to imagine. While the Horseshoe crab is certainly successful in terms of longevity as a species (there are four), they inhabit only one environment on Earth; an environment which also happens to be the most stable and slow to change over time. It is certainly an anomaly among organisms to have survived relatively unchanged for so long. Is the Horseshoe crab “successful” beyond its longevity as a species? I suppose it depends on one’s definition of success. Dinosaurs existed some 235 million to 65 million years ago- also a pretty good run, although there aren’t any individual species (as far as we know) that existed that entire time… Would hominids have still evolved had there been no KT event, enabling mammals to survive when the dinos could not?

    Homo sapiens, in contrast to the Horseshoe crab, are extremely resilient and adaptive, acclimating to all continents on Earth in a relatively short period of geological time. Even when pushed to what is arguably the brink of extinction (less than 10,000 breeding adults, and scattered in different areas), human beings survived and endured. And of course, in even less time, not even the blink of an eye from an evolutionary standpoint, we’ve done incalculable harm, to the point of threatening not only our own way of life, but the lives of all other organisms with which we share the planet. Reminds me of a quote from the movie The Blade Runner: “The light that burns twice as bright lives half as long. And you have burned so very bright…”

    Nonetheless, I truly believe that humanity will find a way to continue; whether it will be because of our intelligence, or in spite of it, I do not know. I often find myself wondering what will be the next step in human evolution- will it be a simple gene mutation which allows us to better survive in a harsh environment which we’ve created? Or will it be something more profound, something that gives us abilities we cannot yet imagine? It’s difficult to think of ourselves as being influenced by natural selection because we alter our individual environments to suit us and practice artificial selection on a daily basis; we have the ability and the desire to affect change.

    As to what the sustainable population of the Earth is, after all my rambling, I have a couple of clarifying questions:

    1) How long of a period of time to be considered
    “successful”? An age? Epoch? Era? Sustainable populations between ice ages would be vastly different than during one, I would think…

    2) To maintain what kind of lifestyle? The one we have now, or a vastly more conservative one in which conservation and resource management is a driving force?

    3) Is the population of the Earth willing, as a whole, to contribute and make sacrifices to the greater well being of all humanity? Or will our nation states continue to look out for their own, at the expense of all others?

    I’m sure that I had some more qualifying questions as I read through this discussion, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment (it’s late and I’m getting sleepy). I’m certain that humanity could, if united as a whole, sustain vastly higher numbers of people than if we continue down our current path.

    Thank you for giving me much to think about. I found this blog while Googling “carrying capacity” and “world population”. Enjoyed the rest of your blogging, too, as I have very similar world views.

    One last thing: A link to a fascinating website detailing the history of modern man, if you haven’t already seen it. I spent almost as much time there as I did here!
    http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/journey/

    • S. Jameson,

      Excellent comments.

      Indeed, getting a number on sustainable population is difficult at best. That’s why I came from the other side. I tried to estimate the number for a population we know to be unsustainable.

      Standard of living for the remaining population would change the number dramatically. Today’s lifestyle is far more resource intensive than the lifestyle of the far fewer people we know were already causing mass extinctions in prehistory.

      BTW, I do have a minor correction to your statements. I agree that mammals would not be where we are today had the K/T impact not killed off the non-avian dinosaurs.

      However, the dinosaurs are still alive and well today. Dinosaur species still outnumber mammal species 2 to 1. Birds are dinosaurs. It’s a minor point in all of this. I just like to make it clear that even in this “age of mammals”, dinosaurs are still winning.

      Also, despite all appearances to the contrary, it is really still the age of bacteria, as it has been since life evolved on this planet.

      https://misanthropicscott.wordpress.com/2007/12/24/humans-are-not-special/

      So, what makes you think we’re so resilient? I think this may be a very human-centric viewpoint. We are not showing evidence of being able to survive any better than anyone else. In fact, we’re showing evidence of going extinct very soon despite being alive for a mere 200,000 years.

      1) The time I consider significant is not a hard line. Rather, each passing millennium adds to our success story. Millennia are short. Eons are longer. Hundreds of millions of years become truly significant.

      2) What kind of lifestyle? Well, if we continue with the throw-away lifestyle of most Americans, that will dramatically reduce the sustainable number of people on the planet. With that lifestyle, we may be talking about 5 or 10 people. Just kidding. But, we certainly won’t maximize our numbers living as we do in the U.S. today. Nor apparently, will we maximize individual happiness as Americans are among the least happy individuals on the planet. So more != better.

      3. Who knows? Are we willing to do what it takes to survive? So far, all evidence says no.

      I agree we could support much higher numbers if we work together. Too bad we’re a bunch of xenophobic, genocidal, murdering bastards. Let’s see how adaptable we are. Can we change?

      Reading your link now. I am going into a fairly busy period though. If I do not respond to further posts for a bit, keep checking back. I’ll respond as time allows.

    • Finally got that journey link to load for me. I don’t know why I had trouble, possibly because I have the noscript plugin for firefox.

      Anyway, it’s a great visual. Seeing it on a map provides a very clear picture very concisely.

  95. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Scott–its not about “not knowing” its about making a choice. The choice between CC and BD. Related but different subjects. I’ll check back in when you decide what this thread is about.

  96. bobbo,

    You asked a completely and utterly irrelevant question to the topic at hand. Then you make it sound highly important. Then you refuse to acknowledge the complexity of the topic.

    Now you accuse me of not knowing what the topic is about.

    How about this?

    1. Tell me why you believe a vile smallpox, a disease already extinct in the wild, is important to a discussion of sustainability.

    2. Tell me why you are so confident that it is perfectly acceptable to kill off the last of a species (we hope).

    3. Tell me why this one species matters more to you in this discussion than all the other 10 million species on the planet.

    4. Tell me why you think carrying capacity and biodiversity is a choice. IMNSHO, long term (read eons) carrying capacity is maximized along with biodiversity.

    5. In fact, bobbo, tell me why you are trying to change the topic from sustainability (in the title) to carrying capacity.*

    Check back when you realize that topics can be interrelated. Check back when you know what sustainability is. Check back when you realize that there are numerous aspects to true sustainability because of the complex ecosystem on which we depend for our very lives.

    So far, you seem to think we could live as the only species on the planet, or possibly with a planet that has just us, wheat, corn, and rice.

    * Re: Sustainability versus carrying capacity: The two are different because sustainability is longer term than carrying capacity. This means that sustainability requires resilience. One can indeed increase the short term carrying capacity through agriculture. This generally involves planting a few of the “most efficient” crops in large areas of monoculture.

    However, this leaves humanity highly susceptible to drought and famine if one or more of this small number of crops fail.

    A diverse ecosystem is far less susceptible to such temporary collapse. Instead, species will fluctuate with some doing better in the dry times and others doing better in the moist times and still others doing better when it’s cold or hot. Our current system of having so much of the world population dependent on our three staple crops is highly unstable and risky, not to mention that we’ve done so much of it that we’re beyond the planet’s capacity for recovery each year. Even if we were to drop from using 150% of the planet’s ability to rebound and get below 100%, we would still be in a situation of being highly dependent on a very small number of other species.

    Collapse in one could spell global disaster. Over millions of years (still thinking in eons), this becomes a near certainty.

  97. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    In very related news: an interesting read about bacteria.

    http://www.newscientist.com/special/not_so_simple?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

    Gee Scott–you’re pulling me back in? I really do “truly” think if you would just simply read what I posted all your questions are directly answered AND were why I made an issue of them. From our other threads—it seems to me you are awfully “locked in” to one way of viewing things. Or, maybe I’m exactly that and you are the one trying to better define the issues?

    I have to parse:

    1. Tell me why you believe a vile smallpox, a disease already extinct in the wild, is important to a discussion of sustainability. /// It makes the distinction between CC and BD. I assume that higher CC can be reached by removing all pathogenic diseases the oppose a higher mass of people. Directly, or as threats on our food source. I’ve said that about 5 times now. If you want to keep smallpox, then you aren’t talking about CC or even any “meaningfull” BD–all highly determined by how you want to define it. Its a very faulty generic tell.

    2. Tell me why you are so confident that it is perfectly acceptable to kill off the last of a species (we hope). /// The question is irrelevant. You can think of it as moral or not===THATS NOT THE ISSUE. If you want to calculate the CC of the Earth, then you get rid of the pathogens. If that is not your interest, and you want a Garden of Eden park like Earth with all diseases present, then you are talking about a version of BD. Its just that simple. WHAT do you want to talk about?

    3. Tell me why this one species matters more to you in this discussion than all the other 10 million species on the planet. /// I have said 5 or more times just the opposite. If you want to talk about CC–then all other species are irrelevant except as they are needed/desired for human support. ITS ALL DEFINITIONAL.

    4. Tell me why you think carrying capacity and biodiversity is a choice. IMNSHO, long term (read eons) carrying capacity is maximized along with biodiversity. /// Nonsense. Just the opposite. That in fact is the very question you are asking. And there is a fork in the road: CC or BD?

    5. In fact, bobbo, tell me why you are trying to change the topic from sustainability (in the title) to carrying capacity.* /// AJ!! Excellent question. I didn’t realize that was a change. Now, lets think about that……………………..Ha, ha. We are back to “sustaining what?” Scott–one of us, not both of us, is correct in how we view how to form a hypothetical.

    Check back when you realize that topics can be interrelated. /// Everything is interrelated. Now, which seperable issue do you want to discuss?

    Check back when you know what sustainability is. /// Sustain what? Humans, or Humans plus what other species?

    Check back when you realize that there are numerous aspects to true sustainability because of the complex ecosystem on which we depend for our very lives. /// As the population of earth increases, do you think it is the complex ecosystem we will rely on, or technology? You avoid the very question you ask==or the important of it.

    So far, you seem to think we could live as the only species on the planet, or possibly with a planet that has just us, wheat, corn, and rice. /// Thats the question. I voted for yeast, and constantly say “other species” as determined to support us–like yeast, and yappy little lap dogs, and cockroaches to eat the kitchen waste and so forth. You really are not dealing with exactly what is clearly said.

    * Re: Sustainability versus carrying capacity: The two are different because sustainability is longer term than carrying capacity. /// I have been viewing them as the same concept. I look forward to your definitions of distinction.

    This means that sustainability requires resilience. /// They both do.

    One can indeed increase the short term carrying capacity through agriculture. This generally involves planting a few of the “most efficient” crops in large areas of monoculture.

    However, this leaves humanity highly susceptible to drought and famine if one or more of this small number of crops fail.

    A diverse ecosystem is far less susceptible to such temporary collapse. Instead, species will fluctuate with some doing better in the dry times and others doing better in the moist times and still others doing better when it’s cold or hot. Our current system of having so much of the world population dependent on our three staple crops is highly unstable and risky, not to mention that we’ve done so much of it that we’re beyond the planet’s capacity for recovery each year. Even if we were to drop from using 150% of the planet’s ability to rebound and get below 100%, we would still be in a situation of being highly dependent on a very small number of other species. /// I think that is a good point, but crop failure can arise regardless of the variety. It is a question of resilience I agree but remains a question of definition, givens, and assumptions.

    Collapse in one could spell global disaster. Over millions of years (still thinking in eons), this becomes a near certainty. /// The variables are many. If human existence, or CC, or sustainability, is so subject to the variabilities of a vast complex natural environment, maybe thats the very reason we will by deduction get rid of those variables and pave over paradise?

    Your link to that Tickalu (sp?) island was very interesting. Note they killed off the pigs to maintain their numbers? Goes directly against your example of sustainability of a diverse biosphere. Yes, the pigs were introduced and foreign–so is man. Good proof that in your world of sustainability, no one can live on small islands. For my own “values’ I would have figured out a way to pen the pigs that were needed and keep them for gastronomical variety.

    As stated: YOU may not want a world with only people and supporting species all eating food paste made in a laboratory, but I would take that over the primitive fish eating societies on an island. I want my MTV.

    • bobbo,

      I finally figured out our misunderstanding related to smallpox. I thought you were talking about whether or not to destroy the last vile of the virus that causes the disease.

      No.

      You were asking whether I would unleash smallpox on the world, release it into the wild, kill hundreds of millions of people.

      Wow!!

      That would not have occurred to me. And, while you state that you would not do so, the fact that you thought of the possibility indicates a rather unhealthy mind on your part. It also distracts from a real conversation with a discussion of something no one in their right mind would advocate and no one I’ve ever met does. You’re the first person I’ve heard suggest that.

      As for which species are relevant to carrying capacity once we get past fighting disease, the problem with your statement is it assumes god-like knowledge on the part of humanity. For true sustainability, and long term carrying capacity, we need a healthy and robust ecosystem.

      Trust me bobbo. You are not a god. You do not know which species are necessary to our survival over the next 100 million years. You can’t possibly really believe you do. When I started this thread, it was with the topic of sustainability, long term sustainability. Resilience will be key to surviving the eons.

      Since we have not yet survived a single eon, how can we pretend we know the list of species we will need to survive for hundreds of them?
      So, in answer to your question now that I understand it.

      No. I would not release smallpox. I would also continue to fight against poorly evolved microorganisms that destroy their host species. This would include Dutch Elm Disease, Feline Leukemia Virus, and a host of others.

  98. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    It is reaffirming to see you exhibit the same bias with Jameson that you have with me. Just for instance, you challenge him:

    So, what makes you think we’re so resilient?//// Notwithstanding he went to careful lengths to EXPRESSLY set forth why he used that idea. Really Scott–you should read more carefully, or formulate your questions to expressly acknowledging that effort before bringing a more specific challenge?

    Calling bird dinosaurs is just a word game. Birds evolved from dinosaurs, they are not dinosaurs. You want to play that game? Ok–we are all whatever that fish was that crawled out on land. You use your intellect and knowledge base to retard the discussion. You can do better.

    Can you tell I’m on my 4th beer? Ha, ha. Just looking for an argument—think I’ll go walk down a dark alley.

    • Re: Resilience in H. Sapiens. I did read carefully. I do not agree that the data supplied support the conclusion. Large warm blooded species are among the most likely to go extinct during mass extinction events. We are a large warm blooded species.

      Further, we have never survived a warm period on planet earth. There has not been one during our tenure here. It is already warmer than it has been for the entire duration of the humans species.

      And, it is warm periods, not ice ages, that cause mass extinctions.

  99. S. Jameson says:

    Scott, thank you for the responses, and I’m glad you liked the link. I don’t mean to derail the point of this blog, which is sustainability, but I am curious… Why do you think we are headed for a rapid extinction?

    Quote: “So, what makes you think we’re so resilient? I think this may be a very human-centric viewpoint. We are not showing evidence of being able to survive any better than anyone else. In fact, we’re showing evidence of going extinct very soon despite being alive for a mere 200,000 years.”

    I think we are resilient because of what we’ve accomplished in such a short period of geologic time, this combined with the fact that, as a species, we haven’t had it any easier than any other. We experience (and survive) famine, drought, disease, and climate change. We inhabit all continents and environments and have evolved to become the apex species on this planet- a perfect example of natural selection at work. I can think of no other SINGLE species of higher animal that can lay claim to all seven continents… Foxes, I understand, inhabit all seven, but not as one, individual species.

    Birds may have had dinosaurs as ancestors, but to call a bird a living dinosaur might be stretching the term “dinosaur” just a bit.
    Ancient reptiles changed and evolved; they did not remain static to become the animals with which we coexist (or not) today. No species has survived for periods of time lasting hundreds of millions of years without changing. Even the venerable horseshoe crab has changed over time- the fossil record shows this to be true. I’ve found little hard data, but estimates of the longevity of most species appear to be somewhere between 1 – 13 million years, with terrestrial mammals existing a scant 1 – 2 million years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Background_extinction_rate#Measurement

    So, even if we were to make it just a couple of million years we could still be considered “successful”. Rather than just going extinct, it seems just as likely that we’d either 1) evolve into something else over time, or 2) use our intelligence to overcome whatever extinction event we may be facing. Or both, or could be one and the same. Just imagine the uproar that would be created if someone announced that a new form of homo sapiens had been “discovered” living amongst the rest of us for several generations…

    I’ll come back to sustainability in a future post. It will take me some time to come up with an even half way intelligent response- There are just so many variables and so many assumptions that have to be made.

    If you have the time, I’m sure you will enjoy this link, which attempts to quantify sustainability using a wide array of known variables.

    http://www.ecofuture.org/pop/rpts/mccluney_maxpop.html

    • You do make an interesting case. However, it is a case I’ve heard repeatedly and by which I’ve never been convinced.

      First, regarding climate change, as a species, we have experienced only cold and moderate, never warm. We will see whether we can survive warm temperatures. Globally warm climate 250 million years ago caused the greatest mass extinction ever seen on the planet (at least among multicellular life). During that time, warm temps left the oceans with little or no oxygen and allowed sulfur producing bacteria to flourish. This caused the atmosphere to contain toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide gas.

      Just how resilient are we?

  100. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Nice links above. Seems like based on topsoil, declining fisheries, etc “the experts” think we are well above CC. That makes me think about the reduction that will come eventually. After we have dispatched the CC question, I’m curious as to what the most likely precipitating cause of a Human Population Crash will be. That assumes a crash. So, before that–the analysis of whether the Population decline will be gradual or a crash? And when?

    I’ll say within or at about 50 years from now and there will be a “shock” rather than a crash. A food crises brought on by a crop failure of some kind. Raises some interesting real world issues. Imagine a potatoe blight with a bad year for rice due to global warming? A billion to starve but food resources made available with millions eating strange corn. So, only a few 100 MM starve.

    What would governments/people do? At a minimum, I’d think fertility clinics would close?

    Ha, ha.

    • I’d bet on a storm of multiple effects. I would expect diminished food supply (as we’re already just beginning to see), economic collapse (and with it, not only that green pieces of paper will fail to move around the globe but that the goods will also fail to move around the world). I would expect an increase in disease as medical supplies necessary to maintain health with dense populations fail to be transported, as with other goods. I would expect increased warfare. As global civilizational collapse hits in full force, I would expect widespread cannibalism.

      In short, my guesses for the future probably sound a lot like any other nutjob’s post-apocalyptic nightmare.

      But, it’s all just guesses. Maybe … just maybe … we’ll be smart enough to do something before it’s too late and avoid the crash. Perhaps we will reduce our numbers voluntarily.

      Do you admit that this is a possibility? I blog as I do in hopes of spreading the right memes to help this cause. It’s too little too late, I’m sure. But, that is the reason I’m trying to spread better memes.

  101. Seen says:

    Hello Scott,

    Depending on if the text box allows me to keep this to one post, I’ll try to do so. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to have to jump around. Also, I’ve noticed some of my posts didn’t follow through like I was pretty sure that I had, so I’ll try correcting that.
    Such as in terms of the clovis comet, my statement was meant to read, “I hadn’t remained current”; I goofed it.

    • I just upped the limit of the number of links in a post before it gets flagged for moderation by me. This should help get your posts in place immediately. I like to encourage people to provide links, so didn’t mind upping it. But, I don’t want to publish the number or turn off the limit lest spammers take advantage.

  102. Seen says:

    Unfortunately Part 2.
    1). Bilderberg members ironically share membership with Club of Rome whom is a UN think-tank. Apparently, books authored by authors and quite a few linkable, researchably confirmable correlations can be made through Book, Article, and other was determined not worth looking into due to apparent normalcy bias, which is what that site your decided to directly go after. This is a repeated theme, Scott. The point was that quotes, books, articles, and etc are confirmable and correlatable. There’s a world of difference between controling (being behind) and manipulating the movement for personal gain. It should be patently obvious that I view these people as untrustworthy hypocrits, yet you seem to neglect the impact by consolidating an Oligarchy with the power of life and death through staple necessities. 1). Would you want these people to seize that kind of influence and power? 2). Is that not worth setting aside ideological/theological viewpoints to determine it?
    2). If you cannot distinquish between the multiple discussion trends, we ended up in; you really shouldn’t determine to misrepresent someone’s viewpoint regardless how you feel about them or their viewpoint.
    3). As an informal discussion, it’s my choice to; whether, I want to treat it anymore formally than a simple discussion. If you want a more formal discussion, I prefer to do so in a manner that doesn’t disable my ability to use proper grammar and mechanical structure. Since you overruled e-mail, you determined; it’s your call to research into anything said. This was your choice, and it’s your choice to research it. As you said to my casual and botched statement of the clovis comment topic, it’s not my job or duty to do your homework:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_Earth
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/radioactivity
    Considering, you find it acceptable to view Wikipedia as acceptable; than, the above should be acceptable as well. What is good for the goose is good for the gander after all. If you want more, it’s your perogative to conduct your own homework.
    I honestly can’t fathom how you could combine to such a degree to confuse Robert Engleman’s “Population & Sustainability” of granting women’s choice in childbirth ganted liberty for women’s choice to Eugenics of unnatural selection or conflict turned inward, which is referred to as balancing diversity. Two different discussion topics, and I did supply 3 links involving the BIS and The Atlantic Article, which contradicts the other. I also don’t recall talking about earth possessing a conscious. Interesting, I’m from the school that the meaning of life is simply to live and then die, nothing more and nothing less.
    4). Yes, I was pointing towards the present population to your assessment, which even you say is unsustainable, and this simply adds to my point that sustainability is relative and largely a human concept.
    5). With sustainability being relative, it is possible to lose the present by over-focus of the future; this very much is akin to: ‘having your cake and eating it to, ‘plans rarely survive the first engagement’, and quite a few others. Equilibrium is nothing really much more than a sense of normalcy.
    6). Plagarizing is not just simply passing off someone else’s ideas as your own; it is also improper citation, which involves more than simply citing the source, and it is the viewpoint of acredited Academia. Naturally, this is just an excuse to nickle and dime without accepting it returned upon you. This is an informal discussion, which you framed, and you’re now attempting to alter to have and eat your cake too. Classical, the discussion didn’t quite go as expected, so the rules must be altered. Diploma mill style at that.
    7). Very true, you and I and others can easily misunderstand the information.
    8). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability, Michael Grunwald’s “Seven Myths about Alternative Energy” effectively debunks that definition of sustainability; however, it’s a better definition than none at all while it also frames the discussion (even if it was mostly for some kicks/partially serious) into a manner that is more discussable. This really should have occurred sooner, and we could have avoided getting sidetracked compared to your defined.

    Considering, I’m the only one who specifically requested Scott’s definition of sustainability; I can’t imagine whom Scott is referring to here. This appears to be a redaction even though it would have framed out quite a bit of indirect relationships.
    Scott, I only nickle and dime sources if the courtesy of not being nickle and diming is redacted, which transitions an informal discussion into a formal/academic one.
    I stand behind that population sustainability is a relative viewpoint depending on the capacity and management of the factors that makes a population sustainable or not varying on location/region.

    bobbo, I’m honestly not sure where time-traveling radiation came from. As far as I’m aware of time-travel is impossible.

    Scott, disease/illnesses play a role in what the population size is as well as what illnessess an organism possesses antibodies to or not/an immunity or resistence/resilience to. It’s one of many factors to consider in the relative sustainable population. For life of me, I cannot fathom how sustainability over long periods of time can be evaluated without factoring in the methods used in determining population size, management of resources for that population, the impact of that management and size, and it’s impact on the rest of the biosphere.

    Frankly, I don’t see anything else that I can add, so I see no reason to reply to this.

    • 1. Re: Bilderberg. The power you discuss is like the ring of Sauron. Only one may wield it. My points were:

      A) You’ve not told me a common goal that they all share. Controlling people is all well and good. But Wall St., wants people to pay for carbon. Big coal does not. So, unless you can show me specific goals about what they actually want to make people do I will remain unconvinced that there can be consensus on such things among the wealthy and powerful who all got that way by different means.

      B) You claim that the environmental agenda is an agenda of the wealthy and powerful to control people. Seems to me that those in control of everything would actually be able to accomplish something. The evidence that absolutely nothing is being done to preserve the habitat on which we depend for our species’ survival should be evidence enough that this particular conspiracy theory is a heaping steaming mound of dung.

      “2). If you cannot distinquish between the multiple discussion trends, we ended up in; you really shouldn’t determine to misrepresent someone’s viewpoint regardless how you feel about them or their viewpoint.” — Sorry, too many twos in prior posts. I’m not sure of the quote of mine that you are addressing here.

      3) I do know what radiation is. Please provide something that connects radioactivity on planet earth with global average temperature. Wikipedia is fine. I can easily check on the correctness of its pages. None of the links you provided posit a link between climate change and radioactivity on earth.

      As for Robert Engleman, considering that I’ve never read anything by him, I can’t imagine how I could have confused anything of his with anything else.

      4) I don’t really see that sustainability is a human concept, except perhaps putting it into language. Ecosystems have been forming sustainable environments since long before we came on the scene.

      5) I’m having trouble parsing this bit into anything meaningful. If this is an important point to you, please restate it. The wording is just not clicking for me.

      6) Funny. The dictionary doesn’t agree with you here. Not an important point to me. If it is to you, I cited one dictionary. You can cite yours.

      7) I lost track of this one too and no longer get the reference.

      8 ) I guess that when I wrote this topic, the definition of sustainability seemed obvious to me. Sorry for any confusion.

      I fail to see how any myths of alternative energy could have an affect on the definition of sustainability. Sustainability is a concept that is completely independent of any means by which we might or might not ever get there.

  103. It is a normal situation for a successful species, that is increasing its population to “shoulder out” populations of less successful competing species. Why should we be worried about those species which are marginal to begin with? It makes sense to monitor and protect those species which we depend on for food, water, and air! It also makes sense to limit our own species to producing just enough to replace our kind without over burdening the bio-system.
    But I don’t see that happening.

  104. S. Jameson says:

    Ok, my thoughts on Earth’s sustainable population…

    I don’t think the concept of a sustainable population has a static value; rather, it is constantly changing value that depends on circumstances both within and beyond our control. Assuming your 300 million mark:

    1) Are we evenly distributed across the globe, or:

    2) Are we mostly grouped into large population densities located near arable land and abundant fresh water, with smaller groups spread out in more isolated areas?

    3) What is our level of technology in this scenario? If there is a drought causing famine in Somalia, as there is right now, do we have sufficient technology to be aware of it in the more prosperous areas of the world?

    4) Assuming we do have a sufficiently advanced level of technology to be aware of such a problem: Do we have a global government in place, with an infrastructure able to effectively administer aid, or is the United States still the United States, while Somalia is still Somalia? It will make a huge difference in how many of those people dying of thirst and famine survive.

    5) As bobbo mentioned… Where do the rest of the Earth’s creatures stand? Do we allow ourselves the luxury of claiming, and excercising dominion over all, or do we fall back at the slightest notion of causing harm? Natural selection involves the crowding out of less capable species by those that are more adaptable. While we may have the conscience to be aware of what we’re doing, it isn’t logical to assume that humans are excluded. We just happen to be at the top.

    6) What if there is another ice age, such that glaciers cover most of the northern hemisphere? Such an event would certainly reduce the Earth’s optimal sustainable population.

    7) What if global warming causes sea levels to rise? Same result as above, but with a different underlying cause. Less arable land. Fewer places to live. Note that either scenario will occur at some point in time, as they have in the past, with or without human cause or intervention.

    Earth is a big place. Populations in one area will soar, while populations in another decline. A prosperous population may have the surplus to feed an impoverished one- but does it have the technology and the resources to get the surplus to an area that is deficient? The fact that people are dying of famine, disease, or drought in one part of the world doesn’t mean that people in another part of the world are affected, or even aware of it.

    Assuming only minimum population values, and limited technology, the population of North America isn’t going to be affected by population changes on another continent. Conversely, assuming maximum population values (and a global government), populations on different continents will almost certainly be affected by changes in each others’ numbers.
    Attempting to live in a perfect state of equilibrium with the environment is a noble endeavor, but the mechanics of doing so demand that populations rise and fall according to the resources available at the time in any given area. According to UNICEF, in third world countries, a child dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds, even with international aid. Those children would still be dying even if the world population held fast at 300 million, because there are more people in a localized area than the local environment can support. World population is irrelevant, and doesn’t play a factor in why they are starving.

    Earth has so many different environments separated by such vast distances and political/religious/ideological arenas that it’s really quite impossible to extrapolate a minimum value of just how many of us our planet can optimally sustain. Even with a global, united government in place, we would still need millennia of observation, of trial and error, of studying the rise and fall of civilizations worldwide, to be able to determine a realistic minimum value.

    My point is not to say that you are wrong… Only that it is, for all intents and purposes, impossible to quantify how many of us there “should” be.

    • Regarding population density, I would definitely not expect human population to have an even distribution across Antarctica, the Sahara, Manhattan and Manaus. So, no. Population would, IMO be clustered and sometimes even locally cluster-fucked.

      Level of technology is a factor in the earth’s carrying capacity. The real question is whether technology increases or decreases the carrying capacity. My understanding based on current population is that the more technological a society is the more of earth’s resources each individual requires.

      Which way do you think technology impacts carrying capacity?

      Regarding the other creatures with whom we share the planet, are you sure the question really is us or them? I’ve been trying to make this point with bobbo again and again and keep failing. But, for maximum sustainable population when measured not in decades but in eons (millions of years), we need resiliency. Without resiliency, we always run the risk of wide spread catastrophic events. Resiliency reduces this risk dramatically.

      One crop failure will not mean very much if we get our food from thousands of crops instead of just the 3 primary stable crops we have today. Failure of one fish stock will not mean as much if we allow the oceans to recover and have more species we can sustainably harvest rather than going for new unsustainable populations (for example Patagonian toothfish and orange roughy) until we run out.

      So, I would answer your question two ways.

      First, I think there are a great many other species to whom we should extend our concept of moral considerability. So, yes, I would choose a planet with greater biodiversity over one with less, regardless of its effects on human population.

      Second, I believe the choice of us or them is a false choice. I think that maximum sustainable human population would be achieved on a planet with greater biodiversity. Resilience is key for the long term. bobbo has failed to grasp the concept of millions and hundreds of millions of years and is stuck on about a century or so for his idea of sustainability (my interpretation of his arguments, not his statements). What’s your opinion?

      Regarding climate, I remain unconvinced that an ice age would have a tremendous effect on human population. Certainly we would cluster closer to the equator in such a scenario. However, the oceans would hold more oxygen and hence more fish. This is why most of the world’s fish are caught in colder waters away from the equator.

      So, we’d have a great food source from the sea, one that we are losing today due to overfishing, global warming, and ocean acidification. This last will be the most severe and threatens nearly all fish in the ocean regardless of overfishing.

      Warming on the other hand is something with which we have no experience. The death of the oceans by both ocean acidification and by lack of oxygen as the ocean conveyor currents stop (already they are 30% slower) will be a cause of a serious extinction event if we do not prevent it. Whether we could survive such an event at all, let alone in high numbers, is a huge unknown.

      As for your point about population fluctuation, it is an excellent one.

      Perhaps we should be talking about a range rather than a hard number. Either way though, I think the range does not include 7 billion.

      Regarding how many of us there “should be”, I’d be fine with zero, especially if we could leave quietly and not take so many other species with us. Did I mention that I am a misanthrope?

      I was questioning how many of us the can have, not how many it should have. So, any opinion on what the range might be in a long term sustainable human population on planet earth? The planet’s not really that big. And, I’m not sure we need to know all of the variables to make an informed estimate of the range based on current resource usage.

  105. Lots to respond to. I’ve been away for a bit. I’ll have to get to most of it later.

    Let me start with this though.

    Birds are dinosaurs.

    This is not opinion. This is not about definitions. This is about simple taxonomy. Birds are dinosauria (dinosaurs) for the same reason humans are all of hominids, apes, primates, mammals.

    In taxonomy, you stay in all of the taxa from which you evolved.

    The reason reptile is NOT a scientific term is precisely that. It does not correspond to a family. It includes some members of the saurapsid family while explicitly excluding dinosauria who evolved from reptiles and are still in the saurapsid family.

    To explicitly exclude birds from the dinosaur family, you would have to define dinosaur in a non-scientific way to exclude one particular branch of dinosauria. Which branch would you exclude? maniraptors? therapods? Would archaeopterix be classed as a bird or a dinosaur in your definition? What about velociraptor? Even T-Rex might be at risk of being classed as a non-dinosaur if you draw the line at therapod.

    Birds are maniraptors, therapods, saurischian dinosaurs (interestingly not ornithiscian due to a mistake made by earlier taxonomists when naming the branches of dinosauria), and saurapsids.

    Taxonomy, learn it, then get back to me.

    I’ll be back later and will post a detailed dinosaur cladogram, assuming I can find one. Most of what I just googled was not very detailed.

  106. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Scott–good to have you back, and in good spirits. Maybe I should stop there? You totally wowed me with this response. I thought the recognition that birds evolved from dinosaurs was a recent development. So I googled (taxonomy birds) and found this:

    http://www.wildbirds.com/IdentifyBirds/BirdTaxonomy/tabid/109/Default.aspx

    which disagrees with everything you posted above. Now, I think what you posted is accurate but is it really the traditional taxonomy of a special case made in the zeal for having T Rex walking among us today?

    Hold on to your socks: its all definitional. If your taxonomy, takes birds back to dinosaurs, why does it stop there? Why not further to the trunk and roots and include pre-dinosaure ancestors? Why not all the way back to the amino acids from meteors.

    Yes, surely all definitional. Good info though. Thanks.

  107. What you posted bobbo does not contradict anything. It is only showing seven levels of the taxonomy. There are many more than that. We do go back to the beginning and we count every known branch in between. We are still eukaryotes. We are still animalia. We are still mammalia.

    As for birds, they are maniraptors. Check this cladogram of the dinosaur hall in the American Museum of Natural History. It’s a bit small and hard to read. But, note that the red asterisk means extinct. Note that there is no asterisk over maniraptors. Birds are on display in the Museum’s Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs. There may still be a few scientists who do not think that birds are dinosaurs.

    There are no scientists who think that animals are nor members of the families from which they evolved, all of the families right back to the beginning.

    http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent/fossilhalls/vertebrate/

  108. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Scott: did I say it was definitional?

    Dinosaur: Noun: A fossil reptile of the Mesozoic era, often reaching an enormous size.

    Bird: 1. A warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate (class Aves) distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, and a beak and (typically) by being able to fly.

    -0r- We are all meteor slime.

    Pro’s and con’s to either approach.

  109. Well bobbo, call it definitional if you like. I’m going with the science definition. You’re going with the type of English language definition that still denies humans are apes, which we are.

    All you really need to do is come to the American Museum of Natural History though and walk through the halls of dinosaurs and note when you are in the Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs that there are birds on display there. I believe they’ve got some swans and gulls and possibly others.

  110. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Scott–I’ll make one last pass as this is a side shoot from the main topic which still needs attention. Is a baseball bat a White Ash tree? or, if you prefer, an 8000 pound ingot of Aluminum?

    You miss the central controlling idea: we are NOT what we developed from. Just that simple. If we are what we developed from, how can you stop at dinosaurs in the case of birds? You are replacing taxonomy with claudistics. Only fuzzy thinking can come from that.

    So, are those other dinosaurs, the smallpox virus, part of sustainability or not?

  111. Incorrect again bobbo. Good thing you’re not an object oriented programmer. You do not understand the IS A relationship involved in an inheritance hierarchy such as taxonomy.

    We are everything we developed from. Not the species, but the taxa. At each branch in cladistics we took one side or the other. And we are in the family of the side we took every single time.

    Baseball bats are not ash trees because they didn’t evolve from ash trees. Ash trees were chopped down to make them. Also, even if they had evolved from them, they would not be them. They would, however, be in the family that included them.

    As it is, baseball bats are ash wood.

    As for cladistics and taxonomy, the two are intimately intertwined. Each taxa is a clade. There is no confusion between them. They are aspects of the same thing.

    Now, once again, from a direct path, tell me why you think the American Museum of Natural History includes birds in the dinosaur wing?

    No fuzzy asides. No bullshit. Just tell me why birds are explicitly on display in a dinosaur hall.

  112. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    No fuzzy asides. No bullshit. Just tell me why birds are explicitly on display in a dinosaur hall. /// Because birds evolved from dinosaurs.

    No fuzzy asides. No bullshit. Just tell me why stop the bird from dinosaurs claudistics at dinosaurs. Why not go back further to what dinosaurs evolved from? All the way back to meteor slime?

    My email notice was that you answered a different posting that is not displayed here. Weird. It is in response to Jameson where he answered your questions and gave the reasons why and you responded by asking him why he disagreed. In my email notice your respond that you read his answer carefully and disagree with his response. THAT is a different issue. The fact that you disagree does not mean he didn’t give reasons why he posted as he did.

    Scott–you are too loose with what words mean. Maybe the issue is even more clear with Jameson than it is with me but the issues really are the same.

    If birds developed from dinosaurs, can they really BE dinosaurs? Bats/Ash Trees = Birds/Dinosaurs. You speak against it and then agree with it.

    Amusing. Once you can agree that certain issues are definitional, to continue to argue for one definition over another is really foolish. It lacks the sophistication that is obviously present. You can “see” it but not “accept” it. Make one sense you need a baseball bat to focus your attention?

    I’m just having some fun Scott, but I could sound much more negative than I actually feel.

    Its definitional.

    • bobbo,

      Stop acting like an ass. First and foremost, you are no one to complain about anyone’s use of language. You make up your own definitions of words all the time and are then upset when others show you the error of your ways by pointing at a dictionary. So, don’t tell me I’m loose with definitions.

      Second, you complain that I do not read the details of the posts of other and then you post this? Are you fucking kidding me?

      I’ve said multiple times. It doesn’t stop with dinosaurs. Birds are maniraptors, dinosaurians (dinosaurs), saurapsids, vertebrates, and even eukayotes. We humans are apes (hominoidia), primates, mammals, synapsids, amneotes, vertebrates, and yes, even eukaryotes.

      We are all of the families we evolved from. So too are birds members of all of the families they evolved from.

      The science is not definitional.

      My point about dinosaurs was that living dinosaur species still outnumber living mammal species by a factor of two to one. That is a true statement, a scientifically true statement. If you want to refute it, you will need to show that birds are not in the family dinosauria.

      It is not definitional. It is science.

  113. All,

    I now believe I am caught up. Please let me know if you think I completely missed any points. And, of course, post your disagreement with the points I have covered or request backup information for any of my claims.

    Note that I have replied to particular messages, so some of my recent comments may be far above this one in threaded form as replies to particular comments.

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