The fallacy of climate activism

This may appear to undermine a number of my earlier posts. However, in this case, I think the point is extremely important. We must begin to recognize and tell the truth of the true nature of our problems. That said, we must also use every weapon in our arsenal to fight for the preservation of the environment to the best of our ability. Most likely the only tool that will actually be worth a damn will be birth control. Yet, we must still do all we can to reduce our ecological (including carbon) footprints while at the same time taking action to reduce the number of feet. The regulars on this blog will remember that I have already argued that the planet cannot support even 300 million of us, let alone 6.7, 8, or 9 billion. So, in that sense, this article is still somewhat consistent with my prior posts. However, I cannot recall previously gotting to the point of wording the issue such that climate change is a mere symptom of a much larger problem, one that involves not only too many people, but people with a completely failed view of the finite planet on which we depend for our very lives every single day.

The fallacy of climate activism

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29 Responses to The fallacy of climate activism

  1. bobbo says:

    Well, First Off===thank you for being boringly repetitive. It really does give me permission to be the same—as if I had a choice.

    1. It really doesn’t matter. Its an existential universe without meaning.

    2. Ironic the “fallacy of climate activism” is touted by those who are otherwise conversant with food webs, environmental webs and so forth? Climate change has many causes all of which are worthy of addressing. Do you think you have done all you need/should do by having your Golden Snip? Or if you had 1.7 kiddies. Or 2.1. Or 15 Kiddies?

    Or–climate change has but ONE major cause, overpopulation, but MANY solutions==each person to contribute their chosen part as they may.

    3. You really shouldn’t keep posting 300 Million when you have no formula/calculation/paradigm to support it. It all depends on what trade-offs are seen as worth the increased carrying capacity.

    4. Seriously==what do you think the real effect of climate change will be? – – – – Thats right. Gaia and Man will continue unless we get wiped. My favorite candidate is some microbe and that can happen at 300M or 12B==just as easily. Don’t quibble.

  2. bobbo,

    You’re welcome. I’ve been accused of this before, so no surprises here.

    1. Agreed, of course.
    2. Without solving overpopulation, we won’t solve any other major problem we have.
    3. I state exactly how I arrived at 300 million and how inexact it is. Don’t forget though, I consider that the lower bound that I believe to be unsustainable. I think our actual population will level out below that. I don’t believe we can increase the carrying capacity of the planet. All we have done for temporary increases has been unsustainable.

    That which is unsustainable will not be sustained.

    4. I don’t know whether climate will get us or a combination of factors will. I just know that our numbers will not remain as high as they are today. My bet is not on microbes, but on eating out our resource base. Climate change shrinks our resource base, so will likely be a huge factor.

    Seriously, regardless of whether our final number will be a billion, a hundred million, or zero, do you see any reason to believe that this graph of human population on Island Earth will not end up looking just like this graph of reindeer population on St. Matthew Island.

    Do you see humans doing anything at all to prevent this? I don’t. So, I see no reason to assume that our own population graph might not look a lot like the reindeer graph.

    This is simply what happens when an animal breeds in an uncontrolled way (i.e. no predators, and in our case no self control).

    The animal breeds and eats until there is nothing left. Then the animal population drops precipitously, sometimes to a sustainable number, sometimes to 0. I expect that the first wave in the human die off will take less than a decade and reduce human population by at least 90%. I hope it does not begin until my own pathetically short life expectancy is over.

    As for my non-existent kids, I did that not only for the planet, not only for myself, but also for their own benefit. It won’t be my kids dealing with these problems.

  3. bobbo,

    Also, please note that the reindeer graph looks surprisingly similar to a human graph since agriculture if you simply add 6 zeros to the ends of all of the numbers. So, the reindeer graph starts with 29 (which would be similar to 29 million) and ends with 6,000 (which looks a lot like 6 billion). So, in contrast, our graph started with 5 million at the dawn of agriculture and will end somewhere between the current 6.7 billion and some estimates say as high as 11 billion.

    That the reindeer graph drops to 42 in the initial die-off supports my statement that 300 would be too high. Of course, the reindeer later went extinct. This may be our fate as well.

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

  4. bobbo says:

    Scott–that curve looks the same as how loud my radio is before my neighbors call the cops.

    ie===SO WHAT!!!!!!! Charts establish/analyze “nothing.”

    How much technology did the reindeer have available to them?????

    Actually–nice to see those charts again. Thanks. Yes, population crash to a level below the sustainable level. Were the reindeer subject to only ONE variable==food in the absence of predators? Is such a crash more or less likely if the curve is supported by dozens of variables, not just one?

    If it doesn’t cause severe migraines, could you link to exactly where the basis for your 300 Million sustainable calculation is made? Maybe copy/paste the first key sentence? I actually re-read most of that thread and I missed it. I doubt you actually have any such thing, and I’d like to be proven wrong and re-read it carefully again for my education.

    Again, not to repeat myself, for emphasis, for clarity, in conclusion: the carrying capacity varies according to what factors you include/assume. There should be a list of those factors, or any “modeling” is just BS.

  5. bobbo,

    I believe I state in my post that my opinion is not scientific. (Just checked, the caveat is in big bold letters at the top of the post.)

    My calculation is essentially my own extrapolation of the number of people on earth that would have been there had the technology been uniformly similar to the technology level of the pre-Columbus Americas, which of course it wasn’t.

    I then reason that this population, which I intentionally jack up to make things look better (and worse for my own argument), is the lowest number we know to be unsustainable. I call this number unsustainable because, in my mind, a human population that causes mass extinctions is not a sustainable population. Within 1,000 years of crossing the land bridge, pre-Columbus Americans caused the extinction of 83% of large North American mammal species and 87% of large South American mammal species.

    You will likely not agree with my conclusion.

    However, first let’s get to the point where you understand my logic. Then we can get to the points on which we disagree.

    So, does this make sense now, even if you disagree with both premise and conclusion?

  6. bobbo,

    Oops. I forgot to address the technology issue. First, I see no reason to assume that technology increases the carrying capacity of an area. Island Earth and St. Matthews Island are each only capable of replenishing so many resources, regardless of technology.

    Further, and perhaps more convincingly, we are not making any attempt to apply our technology to solve the problem at hand. The problem is people. We are doing nothing to reduce our numbers. So, I see no reason to think that our graph of population will take a different track.

    We would have to actually do something to change it.

    I’m not arguing that we are incapable of this. I’m arguing that we are not doing it. If you see evidence otherwise, please share. I would love to be wrong.

    Regarding technological increases in carrying capacity, consider that there is only so much oil on the planet. When we run out, we will have to stop eating it. And, yes, I do mean eating it. It is the basis for our industrial fertilizer. When it runs out ….

    Further, we are exhausting our top soil. We have no technology to increase it. We have alternate farming techniques that can result in increased rather than decreased top soil. But, the yield is lower, the cost in our broken accounting system appears higher, and the hours of work are far greater. So, to my knowledge, only Polyface Farms is making the attempt to show the way.

  7. bobbo says:

    Hah, hah. I do blank out that which I think is invalid. My bad.

    OK, we’re talking about your nonsense, er–post here: https://misanthropicscott.wordpress.com/2007/09/13/what-is-the-sustainable-human-population-for-this-planet/

    Now, I don’t mean to be severe when I say nonsense but what else should you and I call anything that starts with “is not intended to be truly scientific” by which you really mean NOT SCIENTIFIC AT ALL!!

    But over time this morphs into something that sounds like it has some bit of credibility, in the lead on this thread you say: “I have already argued that the planet cannot support even 300 million” /// Well, OK, “argue” doesn’t mean “a well based scientific argument.” You don’t argue based on “I picked 300 Million because it was the same as the last PowerBall Lotto Award.” You confuse it up with science/population/confusingly similar type issues===but if its not well founded science, what is it? Thats right===nothing. Just man up and admit it.

    I must admit you don’t deserve this abuse at this stage because you do admit it all up front—you just don’t actually follow thru on what it means to your own position ((ie==destroys it!)). The very same issue however is VERY IMPORTANT in the follow up failure to even deal with the application of technology to the Carrying Capacity of the Earth. (CCE)

    You can’t be more Luddite than to say: “First, I see no reason to assume that technology increases the carrying capacity of an area.” /// C’mon Scott. The Green Revolution? Energy efficiency moving from incandescent to led lights? Packing more transitors in the same wafer running at lower watts? The fact that sequestered oil is finite and is the basis of agriculture doesn’t capture the entirety of the CCE question. If we can make oil from algae, we can make fertilizer from it too. It will just probably be more expensive==not unavailable, just more expensive. More expensive until cheap solar power makes it less expensive than the free sequestered oil used to be. TECHNOLOGY!!!!!

    Top soil?–that is sooo 20th century. Testtube meat. Plants grown in air. Soylent Green. TECHNOLOGY!!!!!!!!

    Hard to incorporate the key issue of CCE if you don’t even understand what it does/how it works. Did you just pull a brain fart or do you just need a boot to the head?

    I’m sleepy. Pick and choose as you determine. I’ll proof this after I wake up?

  8. bobbo says:

    Now I’m awake. I apologize. Been posting too long at DU. Please interpret the substance of my above post and forgive my oppribrium.

  9. bobbo,

    I’ve got a thick skin, no worries. Also, no need to link back to my other post when I do so in the main text of this post. The statement “I have already argued that the planet cannot support even 300 million” is a link. I tend to do that more on this site where I don’t flag myself as spam the way that <a href=”blah”>text</a> gets me flagged over on Dvorak Censored.

    So, in my opinion, a logical well thought out argument may actually carry some weight. I show all calculations in my post. I understand that it is not scientific. However, no one has attempted such a calculation. Other computations of carrying capacity, and they are few and far between, tend to be no more scientific and ignore the plain observed fact that humans have caused mass extinctions everywhere we’ve gone since we left Africa.

    Mass extinction is not sustainable!

    We simply cannot determine the number of species we can lose and still have a healthy biosphere. Since we depend on a healthy biosphere for our very survival, mass extinction cannot be ignored when determining earth’s carrying capacity of humans.

    Even more importantly, by definition, if the extinctions are continuing and accelerating, as they most certainly and observably are, the only conclusion is that they will stop in one of two cases: 1) All species go extinct or 2) The cause of the extinctions (US) goes away. So, either way, unless we stop the mass extinction, we go extinct.

    Therefore, once again, mass extinctions are not sustainable.

    So, you claim that technology will, for once, get us out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into without causing an even bigger unforeseen mess, as it always always always has in the past.

    Growing plants in air still requires all of the same nutrients getting to the plants. Currently, we provide them via petroleum products. Do you think we have an endless supply of oil to eat (yes, we really do eat oil)? How about fresh water? What happens when the Ogallala and other aquifers dry up? If we use all the solar energy for desal plants, will we have enough left to grow plants?

    I think it is up to you to back up your claim.

    Based on what do you think that our technology will increase the carrying capacity of the earth in the realm of real long term survival? Don’t think about next week, next year, or this century. Think about thousands and millions of years. Do you really think anything we’re doing will solve problems on those time scales? Do you really see any way that we will permanently increase the amount of food available on the planet? Will we do so without increased need for fresh water and top soil? Are we really better at engineering a livable planet than the processes that led to our own existence?

    Back up this claim please.

    I know it is a fundamental assumption of our society. However, it has proven false again and again and again.

    Consider a minor example. Cars were the solution to the problems of smell and noise from horses in New York City. Now consider all of the problems that they have wrought, global warming, ocean acidification, 70-130,000 people per year in the U.S. alone dying of air pollution.

    Factory farms solved the problem of how to get even more from the land and from our farm animals. Deforestation and increased use of fossil fuels in both processing and in fertilizer have led to enormous problems. Of course, the machinery, like the cars, causes all of those problems. Plus, we get fertilizer runoff causing huge hypoxic dead zones in the ocean, monocultures on enormous tracts of land have further reduced both the numbers of individuals and the numbers of species on the planet. CAFO farms where cattle were actually fed beef products gave us mad cow disease.

    Soylent green? Sounds good. It can’t possibly increase carrying capacity precisely because it simply means making people from people. Something will be lost each time through the cycle gradually reducing the number of people, a good thing in my opinion. The bad thing would be creating some mad human disease, or equivalent, just the way we created mad cow disease.

    So, when you get past all of this, if you successfully make your claim, tell me why we have a greater right to life than the rest of the species on the planet. Tell me why you think that we don’t need no stinkin’ polar bears or penguins or quetzals or fish or coral or (from the already lost list) ivory billed woodpeckers or passenger pigeons or Irish elk or Sabre Toothed Tigers, etc. etc. etc.

    We have already caused a mass extinction greater than the one that killed off the non-avian dinosaurs. When will it end? Must we attempt to beat out the Permian/Triassic extinction before we, on our species death bed, realize our folly?

  10. bobbo says:

    Scott–you certainly are mixing up/ignoring the issues here WHILE not paying attention to direct answers I gave to previously posed questions/issues. Well, I do that too and I like to pretend I’m not a hypocrit. Taking your main questions/issues as they appear:

    1. We simply cannot determine the number of species we can lose and still have a healthy biosphere. /// Yes and No. Defining “Healthy” as that which will support the number of humans being contemplated (the CCE) I think the Earth could do without any other spinal corded animals in the world. On terra firma==a healthy biosphere existed for eons with only plants and insects. No reason to think a healthy bioshpere could not exist again with plants, insects, and just humans. You may not want such a world, but that is not CCE. Your babbling about “mass extinctions” is not analytical. I agree we can’t know for sure just what all insects we need for various levels of CCE, but with all the backboned animals out of the way, those choices should be greatly reduced clearing the way to the next selective elimination on the quest for MAX CCE.

    2. Extinction of all other land animals would “force” a vegan diet==increasing the CCE by a factor of 10 by most crops to protein evaluations.

    3. Therefore, once again, mass extinctions are not sustainable. /// Ok–stop at mass extinctions that aren’t sustainable then add ONE. Problem solved. I think you just completely “assume” your conclusions and aren’t engaged in CCE calculations/theory at all. Also very poor to limit your understanding of CCE to any a priori requirement of maintaining other levels of bio diversity? I do see the appeal, but it is just too ambiguous and undefined.

    Have you figured out yet if we can increase mass extinctions and get rid of smallpox or must smallpox be kept in your back to nature view of an acceptable world?

    4. So, you claim that technology will, for once, get us out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into without causing an even bigger unforeseen mess, as it always always always has in the past. /// I never even hinted at that. All I said, and say now, is that technology affects carrying capacity and when you refuse to even acknowledge or take this into account, your calculated CCE is totally bogus.

    5. This is getting tooo long, so I’ll end with this for this posting: “Do you really see any way that we will permanently increase the amount of food available on the planet?”—yes, thats being done all the time. Again==the green revolution. Just another application of technology that somehow you are playing dumb to. Most remarkable. What will happen in 1000 or 1 Million years? that is beyond retarded, and I’m not being sarcastic, just analytical. In another 5 billion years we get absorbed by the sun so “nothing” is sustainable? A million years is unknowable therefore sustanability is “unproven?” Silly. You look at curves and trends given what we know. Right now, we are churning thru oil, water, top soil and all the rest as you say===so either we need a change in technology, life styles, or numbers of people. Until you start juggling at least those three variables, you aren’t even addressing the issue.

  11. bobbo,

    I see your problem. You’ve been sold on a number of things from birth that are taken as axioms in our society. These are things you have never truly considered the veracity of. Take a good hard look at these and see if you still believe them:

    1) Science will find a way.
    2) Humans can survive based on a biosphere with a lot fewer species.
    3) Carrying capacity has been changed by technology to allow for the 6.7 billion people on the planet.

    Here is some contradictory evidence.

    1) All scientific solutions to real problems on this planet have caused other unintended consequences.
    2) Humans are a top level predator and omnivore dependent on a complex food web. A simpler food chain would be far less robust and more prone to catastrophic failure.
    3) Our current numbers are depleting resources for future generations.
    4) Food production is already declining.
    4a) Fisheries output has declined year over year since the mid 1908s despite improved fishing technology.
    4b) Surplus grain supplies for the world has been declining from about 270 days in reserve to fewer than 90 days. That’s just a single season.
    4c) A greater number of people and a greater percentage of people are starving today than at any point in history.

    Question the fundamental assumptions of society. Do not forget that these are the assumptions that have led us to the edge of the cliff. Do not assume that the same axioms can bring us back from the brink to which they have brought us.

    Now on to your individual points. (I’ll underline links, to make them more recognizable.)

    1) You have no proof that a biosphere of simple plants and insects can also support humans. You are making a very large assumption based on absolutely nothing. Have you tried to live that way? What happened in Biosphere 2? Do you really think you can create a biosphere tailored to human life and get it right the first time? You won’t get a second chance. I think you are merely demonstrating the human arrogance that has caused us to trash the planet.

    2. Actually, the most efficient source of protein is farmed herbivorous fish like carp, catfish, and tilapia. An acre plot farmed with rice, wheat, or corn which is fed to the fish on a pond within the acre will produce more protein than an acre of soy. This does not negate your point.

    However, you are making a very real claim here and have not backed it up a bit. Reducing out meat intake will lessen our impact on the planet, thus improving carrying capacity. That is true. However, a planet so degraded will likely have a dramatically reduced, not increased carrying capacity. It will also be a world that does not support human mental health. Can humans be healthy physically without being healthy mentally?

    Many studies are beginning to show the health value of being closer to nature. Without any natural habitats, what will happen to us? I don’t know. However, I certainly don’t think you have made your case that carrying capacity in a mostly dead world will be higher.

    3. Mass extinctions + 1? You mean get rid of humans? Certainly that would improve a lot on this planet. It sure as hell does nothing for your claim of ever increasing carrying capacity. And, as I said, I don’t know how many species we can lose. Nor do I know if smallpox is one of them. Nor do I find it relevant to talk about a single species when discussion the destruction of a significant percentage of those in existence. Further, I do not know of any mass extinction studies that include single-celled organisms as they do not fossilize well.

    I recognize that bacteria are the bulk of life on the planet, in terms of number of individuals, number of species, and even biomass. However, since few of them are threatened by us, I think they may not be highly relevant to this discussion.

    4. You have stated and restated and rerestated that carrying capacity is affected by technology, presumably in a positive way, will you ever back this up? I claim that if there is an effect of technology on carrying capacity, it is a strong negative. I can back this up by simply pointing out our accelerating mass extinction.

    How do you propose to end the extinction? At some point it must end or include us? Which do you foresee? If it will not include us, how do you propose to level out at some reduced number of species? Thus far, the downward curve is still accelerating.

    So, perhaps it is your assertions about carrying capacity of earth that are totally bogus, unfounded, and not backed up by a single link or even any logic to date.

    5. Please back up your claim that we are increasing the amount of food permanently. Thus far, as I have repeatedly stated and backed up in prior conversations, food production is declining. We have caused the desertification of 10% of the formerly arable land on the planet. We have depleted fisheries.

    By what possible argument do you claim that food is increasing? Do you have a single link?

    I think you have been taught a bunch of really bizarre shit by our society and had it drilled into your head for life. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, there are 6.7 billion people, the vast majority of whom agree. But, if you actually look at such claims and try to back them up, you will see that they are just as much a fairy tail as the desert war god in the sky.

  12. bobbo says:

    Hah, Hah. Yes, we disagree so completely we can’t even discuss it.

    You are projecting on to me conclusions I don’t reach.

    ALL I’m saying is the effect of technology has to be included in any calcultion of CCE.

    Permanent Change==Green Revolution. Take any crop and modify it so that it requires less water to grow and it produces twice as much protein. A permanent increase in productivity thereby adding to the CCE.

    Do you agree or not?

  13. No. I don’t agree that we’ve done that. I think we’ve modified crops to be more productive, period. That it may take a huge amount of fertilizer and water and even pesticides to get there is not figured into the equation because we think of these things (wrongly) as cheap.

    I do not believe that the Green Revolution exists. I think it is founded on wholly unsustainable practices and, if anything, has decreased rather than increased, our capacity to grow food.

    I think it has contributed to huge dead zones in the ocean, reducing our potential for protein.

    I think it has increased the acreage of desert, decreasing our potential for food production.

    I think it has sucked huge quantities of water out of fossil water reserves, e.g. the Ogallala Aquifer, that replenish very slowly, thus reducing our future ability to produce food.

    I think it has reduced top soil by more than a foot of depth in the midwest thus decreasing our long term ability to produce food.

    I think you have not looked into the long term affects of that which you claim has modified carrying capacity. I think all such changes are on a very short time scale and will actually reduce our long term carrying capacity. Think outside of the box into which you were born. That box is leading us down a very bad path that will only make it more likely that we will go extinct, rather than find a sustainable lifestyle and sustainable population.

    Question everything that got us to this extremely dangerous time.

  14. bobbo says:

    Sccccooooottttttt!!! You don’t “believe” in things that are well established? The Green Revolution?

    It is “objectively observable” you are not isolating all the different variables in a “model” of CCE. Green Revolution is a permanent increase in the productivity of plants. If you can’t accept that, then you have joined a religious bunch of zealots and have been brain evacuated.

    There are many, many variables to CCE. The Green Revolution is one objective truth that cannot be denied by any rational informed person. Now–the availability of water or of fertilizer is two OTHER variables. You should not conflate the separate variables. Right now I agree the trend lines for water and fertilizer are going down. If nothing changes, they both may limit the amount of food that can be grown. THAT has nothing to do with the positive effect of the Green Revolution.

    Do you agree or not?

  15. bobbo,

    There is nothing well established about the green revolution. It is far from objectively observable as a sustainable event. And, it is highly in dispute, not just by me. This is not religion. This is looking at the aquifers that are being depleted, the top soil being depleted, the oceanic dead zones, and a variety of other factors about which you have blinders on.

    Open your eyes to the world around you and you will see the obvious. Nothing about the so-called green revolution is green.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution#Criticisms

    And, again and again and again, think in geological time frames!

    Oh, and add some links when you think you have something objectively verified.

  16. bobbo,

    This is your green revolution:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desertification
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_zone_%28ecology%29
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogallala_Aquifer#Aquifer_water_balance
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_%28soil%29#Soil_depletion

    And don’t forget the farm equipment and water pump equipment and shipping and fertilizer production all contribute to global warming, ocean acidification, and increased deaths from air pollution itself.

  17. Holy crap bobbo!

    I just looked at our last several posts. Let me summarize:

    bobbo: What about the green revolution.
    Scott: The green revolution is not based on sustainable practices.
    bobbo: But, surely you agree that the green revolution permanently changed the carrying capacity of the planet.
    Scott: No. The green revolution is not sustainable.
    bobbo: But, the green revolution is well established and observable.
    Scott: But, it’s not based on anything sustainable.

    Wow!! We have to break this cycle. If you want to discuss the green revolution further, please state how/why you believe that it can be sustained for millions of years. Please state where you believe the inputs will come from.

    I’m not seeking to answer whether we can get to 11 billion before a total collapse of our population. I’m seeking to determine what a stable population might be, how we can get there, and whether there is any hope for doing so when there is no sign at present that we are even trying.

    If you believe that the population can double again to 13 billion and then again to 26 billion and then again to 52 billion and then again to 104 billion, and that technology will create food out of nothing to feed all of these people, then we probably don’t need to discuss anything any further.

  18. bobbo says:

    Good one. Twisted and wrong==but good. OK, change in terminology since I think you are fixating on Green Revolution Terminoloy. (You get whipped with a willow branch as a kiddie?)

    Back when the earth was supporting 300Million people, wheat could only be grown producing x bushels per acre yielding y pounds of protein.

    Today, as a result of genetic breeding that has permanently changed the wheat 10X bushels can be grown producing 100 Y pounds of protein. That is technology that has increased the CCE of the earth.

    There are at least 3,497 other identifiable factors affecting the CCE of the earth and they all interact with one another. Like water, the ozone layer, acid rain, fertilzers, developing blights==all sorts of things. The freaking fact is though that technology acting on wheat has increased the CCE of earth.

    Deal with THAT ONE VARIABLE. Don’t worry, we’ll get to binomials later. ONE VARIABLE. Go!!!=======

  19. No bobbo, (note, links are underlined in this post)

    You can’t examine CCE in a vacuum. It’s entirely ridiculous to evaluate it the way you say. The problem is that carrying capacity in it’s very definition* requires sustainability. All you are doing is measuring current food production and current population. In order for that to indicate anything about CCE, you must show that the earth can carry that capacity indefinitely. Otherwise, all you are doing is trying to convince yourself that everything is fine in the world.

    Look at CCE as a long term number and you will get very different results.

    Do you honestly believe that in the long term, the number of humans the planet can support has genuinely changed?

    If so, please tell me how you think so.

    As for your one out of 3,497 variables, the number of pounds of protein produced per acre, again, this only has meaning if it has permanently changed.

    You state that it has, but you have not shown that producing those extra pounds of protein can be done with the ground water not being depleted and the top soil not being depleted and the climate not changing such that the number of acres is dramatically reduced and the rainfall shifting to some region of the world where it either further erodes top soil or just falls on rock or sand with no benefit to any human crop.

    This is why you can’t make your claim in a vacuum. Those GM crops take a lot of care, a lot of planetary resources (more than the non-GM varieties), require pesticides and chemical fertilizers, neither of which are in endless supply or are without their share of globally harmful effects.

    No bobbo. I will not look at that one variable in a vacuum because it cannot happen in a vacuum.

    You simply cannot plant a GM crop where a natural habitat existed and expect it to produce more food without many times more resources thrown at it. The natural habitat may represent the maximum sustainable efficiency of the area.

    Only on the small island of Tikopia have I heard any case where I think the carrying capacity was increased for the long term. The island supports about 1,200 people. They have created a forest habitat that appears natural to the untrained eye but has only species in it that the humans found useful. They have had a stable population based on such a habitat for hundreds of years.

    Note both the healthy forest ecosystem they have influenced to produce high yields but remain in balance and the stable population. Both are required for sustainability. I would agree with you that in this one case, humans have increased the carrying capacity of a location.

    Elsewhere, the increases are only temporary, not permanent as you repeatedly assert without evidence.

    * From wikipedia: The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment. See bobbo? The word indefinitely is crucial to carrying capacity. All of your arguments take time frames of years or at most decades into account. Indefinitely assumes millennia and eons.

  20. bobbo says:

    1. You can’t examine CCE in a vacuum. /// Examining CCE one variable at a time before starting to combine the variables is not a vacuum.

    How about this ONE variable: stop gathering your food wild as nature provides it and start planting crops and keeping doemesticated animals. Will that increase the CCE or not? How about finding clean water and having your latrine down stream?

    The notion that you have to analyize “all” of the variables while demonstrating you don’t understand the action of any single variable is a TOTAL FAIL on your part==by DEFINITION!!!!

    2. about CCE, you must show that the earth can carry that capacity indefinitely. /// Well, I take it on faith that “nothing lasts for ever.” Based on your definition, the CCE is unknowable or zero? A variable curve until collapse and/or extinction? Again by definition a total FAIL on your part.

    3. Otherwise, all you are doing is trying to convince yourself that everything is fine in the world. /// I’ve never said anything close to that. Now you are making things up. another FAIL.

    4. Do you honestly believe that in the long term, the number of humans the planet can support has genuinely changed? /// Yes, that is my best guess. I’ll post again, looks like current trends of use of water, earth, air, etc are consuming reserves and “the current” population of earth is not sustainable ABSENT some technological intervention. How is that “fine.” All I’m doing is assuming that the tech changes we have already seen that do increase CCE had exactly that affect. “Things” make a difference. To say the green revolution has occurred and will continue to make improvements in food supply but that it doesn’t affect CCE is somewhat “magical” in its lack of appreciation. “IF” the CCE of the earth went from 300M to 3 Billion because of technology/science that doesn’t mean the CCE is 6 or 9 Billion AND it doesn’t mean that Tech in the future, if we get there, couldn’t continue to increase CCE===all depends on the tech and the changes in the earth desired to achieve that end.

    5. Tikopia ==nice link. Thanks.

    6. indefinite – Without limit; forever, or until further notice; not definite; Vague or unclear; Undecided or uncertain; An integral without specified limits
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/indefinite //// I think we both got that word wrong. Looks like ALL factors in the CCE are “indefinite” as in “not definite, vague or unclear” by definition?

    How many “Nature” shows have you seen where it is emphasized the world would not even notice if humans perished but there would be a castatrophe if insects did? I agree that maintain at least the number of species we have today would greatly limit increasing the CCE “for humans” on earth===even though that is just one variable, I can examine/appreciate that variable in the non-vacuum of one variable. You can’t. It colors your thinking so much you can’t even recognize it.

    The curve for species diversification is in steep decline as the human population is going up. I expect that to continue. A Collapse in ocean life could greatly affect the CCE but not a collapse in land animal life. The earth just doesn’t work that way.

    You should know that. Then you can deal with it.

  21. bobbo,

    You clicked through the link to Tikopia, but NOT the link to Carrying Capacity. Yes. I can tell that on my blog stats page.

    Until you educate yourself on the term, we’re not talking about the same thing. If you disagree with the Wikipedia definition, provide a link to one that is more to your liking. Else, this conversation is guaranteed to go nowhere.

    1. You can’t examine CCE in a vacuum. /// Examining CCE one variable at a time before starting to combine the variables is not a vacuum.

    I strongly disagree. When you look at one variable without examining whether it was changed in a sustainable way, you are not looking at carrying capacity at all. You are looking at immediate increase in food production without any concern for its impact.

    How about this ONE variable: stop gathering your food wild as nature provides it and start planting crops and keeping doemesticated animals. Will that increase the CCE or not? How about finding clean water and having your latrine down stream?

    Planting crops and raising domestic animals will increase carrying capacity if and only if it is sustainable. That you repeatedly ignore this point shows that you have not yet understood the concept of carrying capacity.

    The notion that you have to analyize “all” of the variables while demonstrating you don’t understand the action of any single variable is a TOTAL FAIL on your part==by DEFINITION!!!!

    No. Rather, it is a total fail on your part. You have repeatedly completely ignored the meaning of the term being discussed. Until you click through the link to carrying capacity in my prior post, nothing you say is likely to be on topic at all.

    2. about CCE, you must show that the earth can carry that capacity indefinitely. /// Well, I take it on faith that “nothing lasts for ever.” Based on your definition, the CCE is unknowable or zero? A variable curve until collapse and/or extinction? Again by definition a total FAIL on your part.

    If nothing lasts forever, then we’re not discussing carrying capacity, but are instead discussing some new concept hatched in the mind of bobbo and nowhere else on the planet. How about considering the time until the sun engulfs our little island earth?

    Further, stop taking things on faith. Define your terms accurately and look at the evidence.

    Oh, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that every time you say total fail on my part, what you mean is total failure on your part to understand the concept up for discussion. Click the damn link and read. Learn something new. It can be fun.

    4. Do you honestly believe that in the long term, the number of humans the planet can support has genuinely changed? /// Yes, that is my best guess.

    DON’T GUESS!!!

    Assignment: Give me one link to a page describing a single plant species that has been cultivated by humans in a sustainable way that has increased our food supply.

    “IF” the CCE of the earth went from 300M to 3 Billion

    Has it done so? Show me some evidence. Carrying capacity implies sustainability. Read the carrying capacity link that you refused to click on prior to responding.

    def: Indefinitely:

    1. not definite; without fixed or specified limit; unlimited: an indefinite number.
    2. not clearly defined or determined; not precise or exact: an indefinite boundary; an indefinite date in the future.

    Right, so something that can continue without a definite boundary can be considered sustainable. This has real meaning to me. Consider the alternative, if we continue to behave unsustainably, we cannot continue indefinitely, but will go extinct in the very near future.

    That which cannot be sustained will not be sustained.

    A Collapse in ocean life could greatly affect the CCE but not a collapse in land animal life.

    Gee, I’m very surprised that you have not heard that some land animals depend on fish as part of their diet. In the case of humans, it is approximately a billion people who depend on ocean fish for the bulk of their protein.

    You should know that. Then you can deal with it.

  22. bobbo says:

    From your own link:

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

    I = P * A * T

    where T=technology.

    Who are we to point out Paul R. Ehrlich is seen by many as a joke these days? I guess he and we are just waiting for that resource consumption wheel to pick up karma?

  23. bobbo,

    You can really be a piece of work sometimes. Consider that you called Ehrlich a joke but still cited his equation. Which is it? Do you believe his work is valid or is it a joke. If it’s a joke, you can’t make any point from it. If it’s valid, then why call him a joke?

    As you point out correctly, the T is technology. The point you miss though is that it is a multiplying factor in the equation to calculate I where I is impact. Therefore, it is clear in the equation that higher technology increases human impact on the planet thus decreasing carrying capacity rather than increasing it.

    Here is a much more detailed analysis of the IPAT equation. Note beginning at the bottom of page three that the idea is to reduce the impact of technology, rather than to consider it a bonus that increases carrying capacity.

    http://www.futures.hawaii.edu/j11/nordberg.pdf

    I’m actually quite surprised that this is not blatantly obvious to you just from a purely logical perspective. Who has the greatest impact per capita on the planet? The developed nations (of course with the U.S. at the top). What causes our tremendously negative per capita impact on the planet here in the U.S.? Technology that gives us the ability to take many generations worth of resources from the earth within individual lifetimes.

    Or, to put it a more common way, even though I tend to be extremely conscious of my environmental impact, I have not yet succeeded in getting below the number 3.16. 3.16 what? Earths. If everyone lived as I do, we would need 3.16 planet earths. That is the impact of technology. Of course, at least in my case, if everyone lived as I do, we would need 3.16 earths for just one generation as we all died childless. But, that is usually not part of the test.

    Try the eco footprint quiz to see where you fit.

    http://www.myfootprint.org/

  24. bobbo says:

    Well Scott—THAT is embarrassing. Looks like I don’t pay attention to that which I think I agree with either. Leaves a pretty small window of stuff I actually pay attention too? ((Hah, hah!!))

    The IPAT formula follows what I take would be part of the CCE formula as well with Technology being a multiplier. Oh, Well.

    Of course, my reference to Ehrlich was as a joke. Hard to miss in context, or am I blinded by my smugness again? I was thinking of the famous wager and the “disrespect” that Ehrlich experienced in some quarters, whereas I have always thought he was correct all along. Timing is always tricky==like global climate change?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon-Ehrlich_wager

    I started but stopped on the eco footprint. I know I use less than USA average, more than world average, and I’m not going to change anything==especially my extra long hot showers. I contribute in other ways.

    Looks like we filled up the right side panel on recents posts. I noticed a lot of other good posts, you are maintaining an interesting website. Also saw that tv show on coal power plant ash fly contamination. “Safe as Dirt” seemed to be used interchangeably with “Concentrated Heavy Metals at a Dangerous Level.” The experts seem confused—or was I convinced one way or the other already and not paying attention?

    Curious minds want to know!!!!

  25. Seems like Ehrlich won (a different wager) by outliving Simon by a bit. I think Ehrlich neglected to count on the tenacity with which humans would apply ever increasing technology in our race to destroy the planet as quickly as possible. Presumably the consistently cheap oil (which only briefly rose above the 1986 level in terms of real inflation adjusted dollars) has given us the power to continuously increase our rate of destruction. Ehrlich has a newer book out that you may find of interest called The Domninant Animal.

  26. bobbo says:

    Soooooooooo many good books I’ll never get around to reading.

    Nice video by Ehrlich here. I disagree with his short comments about water and oil conflicts, but he’s right about the importance of current political discourse: pure crap.

    http://www.dominantanimal.org/

    Ah, to be self aware, and watch your culture commit suicide. I can easily some type of perfect storm bringing environmental pollutants together. Whatever kills most of us off, it won’t be pretty.

  27. Great video there bobbo. I had forgotten that there was a website associated with the book.

    I think we’re getting closer to agreement. Certainly your statement that whatever kills us won’t be pretty makes a lot of sense given that we are doing less than nothing to attempt to control our own numbers in a more painless manner.

    Political discourse has thus far been able to deal with most of the environmental issues relatively peacefully, though not necessarily fairly. For example, the Colorado River often does not make it to the ocean anymore because we have taken all of the water out.

    Mexico, who would receive some water if not for our dams is not so happy about the current state of affairs. Still though, we are currently resolving such issues without active warfare, with the exception of the oil war in Iraq.

  28. bobbo says:

    You know, I was “hoping” we went into Iraq for the oil. Pretty stupid, but at least there would then be a reason. Bushtheretard is so incompetent, I still can’t tell if we went in for the oil or not. If we did, like weapons of mass destruction, we aren’t taking out the oil in amounts to make the invasion make sense==even in disagreement.

    Sad to see Obama failing under the weight of the Bush inheritance. I say that in full view of a near perfect record of failure to act on Obama’s part on things I think he could have done. None all that important given his inheritance==but still.

  29. Unfortunately, in some cases, the repugnicans are stonewalling Obama while the democraps can’t agree on anything. In other cases, it appears Obama is actually also bought by Wall St., so both sides have agreed to sling mud while letting Wall St. go completely unregulated, which is exactly how we got here.

    I do think Iraq was part of the Kissinger plan from 1973, when he stated that the U.S. should acquire an interest in the Middle East to secure the oil for use not only as our supply, but even more importantly, for world domination. If anyone doesn’t agree with U.S. policy, we’d be able too just tighten the spigot on the world oil supply until they do.

    It’s a policy that has been supported by every single presidential administration from 1973 through to W’s Gulf War II: The Vengeance. I have yet to see any real evidence of Obama changing that stance.

    Of course, there are other factors, such as the military industrial complex and its influence in DC.

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