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  #1  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:24 AM
Leaper Leaper is offline
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"Global economic collapse" by 2030?

Ran across this article which discusses an MIT study done in the 1970's that modeled population growth and resource consumption. It predicted "global economic collapse" and "precipitous population decline" by 2030 if "drastic measures for environmental protection" were not taken. The article notes that as far as the report is concerned, its models are still on track now, in 2012.

Apparently, this study caused controversy even back then, so it seems to be at least mildly well-known (though I'd never heard of it). Anyone know more about it? Are its conclusions reliable?
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:42 AM
Alessan Alessan is offline
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There were dozens of such studies published in the 1970s - most of them predicted total collapse by 1990. If anything, the study in question was hedging its bets.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:45 PM
Qin Shi Huangdi Qin Shi Huangdi is offline
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Its your typical "Everybody will be starving by the year x" studies inspired the Population Bomb.
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:13 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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The study made a big splash during the 1970s: it was called The Limits to Growth. It put forth a computerized model of the economy as designed by physicists. Since the team lacked economists, the model did not reflect substitution effects or AFAIK a price mechanism: raw materials would simply become scarce.

I am dubious about the claim that the model is "Right on track". The original paper predicted food production would peak in 1994 and then fall by 40% over the next 3 decades. Industrial production would peak in 2010, then fall about 4% annually.[1] Sorry, but this Lesser Depression hasn't been kicked off by raw material scarcity: it's an aggregate demand problem.

Don't get me wrong. The world might be going to hell. But if it is, I say it will be because of unpriced factors of production, specifically emissions of CO2. Although I would also support extraction taxes for technical and contentious reasons. Regardless, economic models that are devoid of economics aren't likely to provide well grounded insight.

[1] From:
Google: "Nordhaus lethal model limits growth revisitied" for a 1992 Brookings paper.
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  #5  
Old 05-07-2012, 08:21 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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So is 2030 when the killer bees finally get us?
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Old 05-07-2012, 08:40 AM
Grey Grey is online now
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Here's an interesting article from American Scientist on the 3rd iteration on the World3 model behind Limits. Basically Limits' argument boils down to things that increase exponentially eventually stop.

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First, the book’s message is worth listening to. There are limits, and exponential growth is unsustainable. A society that measures well-being by the first derivative of GDP is asking for trouble...

As for the mathematical model behind the book, I believe it is more a polemical tool than a scientific instrument. Forrester and the Limits group have frequently said that the graphs drawn by their computer programs should not be taken as predictions of the future, but only as indicating “dynamic tendencies” or “behavior modes.” But despite these disclaimers, Limits is full of blunt statements about the future: “If the present growth trends continue unchanged,... the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime in the next one hundred years.” And whether the models are supposed to be predictive or not, they are offered as an explicit guide to public policy.

It’s possible that Forrester was offering wise advice, and someday we’ll regret not taking it. But when a mathematical or scientific argument is brought forward to justify taking such a painful and troubling action, standards of rigor will surely be set very high.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:29 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is online now
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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
So is 2030 when the killer bees finally get us?
And Comet Kohoutek crashes into us, utterly destroying what remains of civilization except, miraculously, all the Burger King outlets and all the RC Cola bottling plants.

All kidding aside, though, I'm guardedly pessimistic about our future prospects. It is true that market forces eventually will, or should, force changeovers to lifestyles that are more sustainable. These most likely need to include not only alternative options for powering our transport systems and power grids, but also lifestyle choices to reduce collective consumption and procreation. A fact that often gets overlooked is that we don't actually need to run out of fuel or food before our numbers will adversely affect our lives. We've already seen this at a regional level in many places.

Taking my own city, L.A. as an example: the post WWII generation was able to buy cheap houses on the west side or just over the hill in the east SFV. To a much greater extent than later generations, they could even buy near or on the beach; by doing so, they often had to sacrifice some floor space or other amenities, but having a house near the beach was still a choice one could make. But as the population increased, succeeding generations wanting to own houses had to go farther and farther out. These people still have all the appurtenances of the American Dream--in fact, they have generally larger houses than preceding generations. They also have more automobiles per family and those cars are mostly much safer, more technologically advanced, and more efficient than the cars of sixty years ago. But...many of them have to spend a lot more time in those cars just to travel back and forth between work and home. Admittedly this is a subjective evaluation on my part, but I consider that to represent a degradation in quality of life. I don't hate driving or cars generally, but being stuck on the 405 isn't my idea of a good time, and shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as a lonely state highway with almost no traffic and breathtaking views.

To be fair, there are benefits to population growth. The diversity of cultures locally has certainly made life here more interesting, and along with the doubling of population the availability of cultural amenities has much more than doubled. We finally voted to fund mass transit besides buses, and while such a system can only do so much, it will offer some additional choices.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 05-09-2012 at 06:31 PM..
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  #8  
Old 05-09-2012, 07:03 PM
Section Maker:Jupe Section Maker:Jupe is offline
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..I took a class on the Limits to Growth(Club of Rome) in the '70s, in one of the first Enviornmental Studies classes in the U.C. system.

There was no economic model involved. Just supply versus consumption rates. . Supply was assumed to be fixed. (big assumption that!!) and consumption was either static or increased.

I was pretty clueless then, as it seemed to make some sense.

Jupe

Last edited by Section Maker:Jupe; 05-09-2012 at 07:05 PM.. Reason: clarity
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  #9  
Old 05-31-2015, 08:18 AM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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An update on the matter:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...aring-collapse

i.e., historical data tracking forecasts.
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  #10  
Old 05-31-2015, 09:00 AM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
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Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
An update on the matter:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...aring-collapse

i.e., historical data tracking forecasts.
That isn't an update, it is the same story with the same source (Graham Turner) just in a different news outlet.
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  #11  
Old 05-31-2015, 09:12 AM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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That isn't an update, it is the same story with the same source (Graham Turner) just in a different news outlet.
The report is from 2014.
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  #12  
Old 05-31-2015, 09:14 AM
Darth Panda Darth Panda is offline
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I predict that we'll solve global warming in 2032, end world hunger in in 2035, eliminate poverty in 2036, and be wiped out by a comet in 2037, foiling the killer bee's plans for 2039.

Last edited by Darth Panda; 05-31-2015 at 09:14 AM..
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  #13  
Old 05-31-2015, 12:42 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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Always remember that any prediction of the future has to take into account it's own existence, and how that will effect future decisions.
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  #14  
Old 05-31-2015, 01:14 PM
psikeyhackr psikeyhackr is offline
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Economists are so great!

Growth is increasing cash flow but their version of Net Domestic Product does not subtract the depreciation of all of the durable consumer goods.

How much have Americans lost on the depreciation of the 200,000,000 cars in the US in 1995? Would physicists forget that? But economists have failed to discuss it for 60 years.

http://www.spectacle.org/1199/wargame.html

psik

Last edited by psikeyhackr; 05-31-2015 at 01:15 PM..
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  #15  
Old 05-31-2015, 03:19 PM
andros andros is offline
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Wow. Citing a banned poster. Badass.
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  #16  
Old 05-31-2015, 03:47 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Maybe "Dal Tigmar" is actually a common name, like the Armenian equivalent of "John Smith" or something.
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  #17  
Old 05-31-2015, 04:27 PM
marshmallow marshmallow is online now
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If you keep predicting economic catastrophe you'll eventually be right.

A system where people set their hair on fire if there isn't perpetual 3-4% annual growth probably isn't the best idea for the long term.
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  #18  
Old 05-31-2015, 08:34 PM
Habeed Habeed is online now
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You can't argue there aren't ultimate, ultimate limits. But, those limits would be reached when humanity :

For raw materials :
1. Has mined out the entire earth's crust, the ocean floor, the entire Moon except for the core, Mercury, Mars and it's moons, all the moons of Jupiter, all the asteroids, Pluto, and a half dozen other astronomical bodies I haven't named.

For energy
2. Has converted about half the raw materials available from #1 into solar arrays, in orbits that are always exposed to the sun so that no batteries are needed. The resulting power would get beamed around with microwaves or maybe just superconducting bus lines that are thousands of kilometers long. (you can make superconductors work great in the cold vacuum of space...)

Oh, we're many orders of magnitude below that? We're just arguing whether or not we're about to run out of a really easy to use energy source that comes from hydrocarbons in a particular form? Oh. Well, carry on panicking then.

You know, if the shit really hit the fan, we could stop using cars and trucks completely, and use electrified roadways instead. Everything would run off of some kind of hard connection to the grid. (well, since that many electric contacts would cause a lot of wear, we could have induction charging strips in the roadway, and supercapacitors on the cars. Basically, on the highway, there'd be like a kilometer or something of highway and then 100 meters of induction charging coils. The cars would get juiced up whenever they pass over the coils. These coils would also be at every intersection in inner streets. Zero battery longevity problems, only need enough capacitors for 10 miles of range or so.
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Old 05-31-2015, 09:46 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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Originally Posted by Habeed View Post
You can't argue there aren't ultimate, ultimate limits. But, those limits would be reached when humanity :

For raw materials :
1. Has mined out the entire earth's crust, the ocean floor, the entire Moon except for the core, Mercury, Mars and it's moons, all the moons of Jupiter, all the asteroids, Pluto, and a half dozen other astronomical bodies I haven't named. . . .
That's pretty silly. Long before we've "mined out" the earth, we'd have hit shortages of affordable metals and minerals. What are you going to build your core-drilling machinery out of, when you've stripped the earth's crust of all metals? What will you build your mining rockets out of, in order to get to Pluto?

The concept of "marginal utility" or "diminishing returns" puts your ideas here to nonsense.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:03 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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Originally Posted by Habeed View Post
You can't argue there aren't ultimate, ultimate limits. But, those limits would be reached when humanity :

For raw materials :
1. Has mined out the entire earth's crust, the ocean floor, the entire Moon except for the core, Mercury, Mars and it's moons, all the moons of Jupiter, all the asteroids, Pluto, and a half dozen other astronomical bodies I haven't named.

For energy
2. Has converted about half the raw materials available from #1 into solar arrays, in orbits that are always exposed to the sun so that no batteries are needed. The resulting power would get beamed around with microwaves or maybe just superconducting bus lines that are thousands of kilometers long. (you can make superconductors work great in the cold vacuum of space...)

Oh, we're many orders of magnitude below that? We're just arguing whether or not we're about to run out of a really easy to use energy source that comes from hydrocarbons in a particular form? Oh. Well, carry on panicking then.

You know, if the shit really hit the fan, we could stop using cars and trucks completely, and use electrified roadways instead. Everything would run off of some kind of hard connection to the grid. (well, since that many electric contacts would cause a lot of wear, we could have induction charging strips in the roadway, and supercapacitors on the cars. Basically, on the highway, there'd be like a kilometer or something of highway and then 100 meters of induction charging coils. The cars would get juiced up whenever they pass over the coils. These coils would also be at every intersection in inner streets. Zero battery longevity problems, only need enough capacitors for 10 miles of range or so.
Resources that are too deep cannot be extracted or mined if the energy costs are too high. That's why even with lots of oil from conventional production we still ended up resorting to shale oil, and only when prices increased.

When prices went up, the global economy also weakened, and propped up with quantitative easing, which means more of the same credit that caused the economy to crash in 2008. When QE started unwinding, commodity prices dropped, which in turn caused rig count drops for shale oil.

Thus, the catch is that we need cheap (i.e., easily accessible) resources and energy. Even alternative energy will require that, as fossil fuels will be needed for mining, manufacturing, and shipping of components for renewable energy. The same goes for space exploration.

Otherwise, the global population adjusts in terms of numbers and consumption to limitations of the biosphere.
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  #21  
Old 05-31-2015, 10:04 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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Originally Posted by marshmallow View Post
If you keep predicting economic catastrophe you'll eventually be right.

A system where people set their hair on fire if there isn't perpetual 3-4% annual growth probably isn't the best idea for the long term.
More like various economies crashing, unemployment rising, and food prices hit by combinations of high oil prices and droughts.
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  #22  
Old 05-31-2015, 10:04 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by Leaper View Post
Ran across this article which discusses an MIT study done in the 1970's that modeled population growth and resource consumption. It predicted "global economic collapse" and "precipitous population decline" by 2030 if "drastic measures for environmental protection" were not taken. The article notes that as far as the report is concerned, its models are still on track now, in 2012.

Apparently, this study caused controversy even back then, so it seems to be at least mildly well-known (though I'd never heard of it). Anyone know more about it? Are its conclusions reliable?
The linked article claims that the study correctly predicts steady population growth until 2030 - and by steady I assume they mean the exponential growth seen in 1970,
Here is the real story..
Populations are still growing, but not as fast as before and without calamities.
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  #23  
Old 05-31-2015, 10:09 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
That's pretty silly. Long before we've "mined out" the earth, we'd have hit shortages of affordable metals and minerals. What are you going to build your core-drilling machinery out of, when you've stripped the earth's crust of all metals? What will you build your mining rockets out of, in order to get to Pluto?

The concept of "marginal utility" or "diminishing returns" puts your ideas here to nonsense.
With a few exceptions, like the trees on Easter Island, we don't wait until something is all gone to realize that there is a problem. When metal prices get high enough, it becomes economically feasible to do asteroid mining. As ralfy notes, the same has happened for oil.
That's why carbon taxes are useful. If carbon emissions get expensive enough, you start spending money to reduce them.
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  #24  
Old 05-31-2015, 10:16 PM
Foggy Foggy is offline
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
The linked article claims that the study correctly predicts steady population growth until 2030 - and by steady I assume they mean the exponential growth seen in 1970,
Here is the real story..
Populations are still growing, but not as fast as before and without calamities.
Link doesn't go anywhere, has the collapse already started?
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:55 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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With a few exceptions, like the trees on Easter Island, we don't wait until something is all gone to realize that there is a problem. When metal prices get high enough, it becomes economically feasible to do asteroid mining. As ralfy notes, the same has happened for oil.
That's why carbon taxes are useful. If carbon emissions get expensive enough, you start spending money to reduce them.
This is true...but there are some limitations.

1) Humans are pretty damn foolish, and we tend to wait until the collapse of the industry in question is right on the goddamn doorstep before we take reasonable action. (California has been in a critical drought for years...and my neighbors are still watering their lawn.) So, like Easter Island, we might just keep pushing it off -- "It'll be okay tomorrow" -- until it's too late.

2) The core? The core of the planet? I mean, c'mon, seriously? This is really bad sci-fi, not a reasonable solution to metals shortages! (I'm not blaming you for this idea, but Habeed.)

3) Linked systems collapse: it might be that the resources needed to move to that next step of exploitation depend too much on some other resource that is in short supply. Fracking for oil takes up a lot of water, and water is also in short supply. (Except right now in Texas...) Our industries are remarkably complex, and tightly interwoven. And an economic collapse brings down all industries. A serious enough depression might make the oil fracking industry non-sustainable.
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  #26  
Old 05-31-2015, 11:51 PM
Habeed Habeed is online now
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That's pretty silly. Long before we've "mined out" the earth, we'd have hit shortages of affordable metals and minerals. What are you going to build your core-drilling machinery out of, when you've stripped the earth's crust of all metals? What will you build your mining rockets out of, in order to get to Pluto?

The concept of "marginal utility" or "diminishing returns" puts your ideas here to nonsense.
Earth is for all practical purposes, a closed system. Metal is not "used up" - it's all still here somewhere, except for the negligible portion we have sent into space. (and the helium gas we have released - it's literally the only truly nonrenewable resource, and we waste it on party balloons and inefficient superconducting magnets that don't recycle their boiloff)

So yeah, we'll just go get it from the scrap pile or garbage dumps if it ever came to that. You can separate the waste by heating it to plasma and using magnets if nothing else. (that's probably the least effective way there is, but it will work no matter what, while other more complex methods will miss collecting resources if they are chemically bonded an inconvenient way)

Oh, extraction of resources takes energy? Well, we can either use nuclear breeder reactors for de facto infinite reactor fuel (you can breed both U-238 and thorium to fissionable materials with straightforward, many decades old tech) or solar.

Last edited by Habeed; 05-31-2015 at 11:52 PM..
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  #27  
Old 06-01-2015, 09:14 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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In the 1970s, no country had entered the fifth stage of the population growth model (a drop in birth rates, increase in life expectancy, leading to equilibrium or even negative population growth and aging population.) It was purely theoretical, if it existed at all. By the beginning of the 90s, Japan, Italy and a few others were already there. Now most of the Western industrial democracies are.
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  #28  
Old 06-01-2015, 10:43 AM
davida03801 davida03801 is offline
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Someone somewhere is always predicting collapse of one thing or another. Has not happened yet, and even if it does life moves on. People adjust and live their lives.

Economic collapse is a consistent theme. The Global Warming charlatans I believe are a fad with some more time to run on that before they change the scope of the imminent problem.

That is what these folks do. They all either make money off it, or like the attention.
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  #29  
Old 06-01-2015, 11:34 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Link doesn't go anywhere, has the collapse already started?
Hmm.
Try this one.
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  #30  
Old 06-01-2015, 11:41 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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This is true...but there are some limitations.

1) Humans are pretty damn foolish, and we tend to wait until the collapse of the industry in question is right on the goddamn doorstep before we take reasonable action. (California has been in a critical drought for years...and my neighbors are still watering their lawn.) So, like Easter Island, we might just keep pushing it off -- "It'll be okay tomorrow" -- until it's too late.

2) The core? The core of the planet? I mean, c'mon, seriously? This is really bad sci-fi, not a reasonable solution to metals shortages! (I'm not blaming you for this idea, but Habeed.)

3) Linked systems collapse: it might be that the resources needed to move to that next step of exploitation depend too much on some other resource that is in short supply. Fracking for oil takes up a lot of water, and water is also in short supply. (Except right now in Texas...) Our industries are remarkably complex, and tightly interwoven. And an economic collapse brings down all industries. A serious enough depression might make the oil fracking industry non-sustainable.
I was talking about getting resources. I'm very nervous about people who think big engineering projects can solve climate change, on the other hand. They all seem to be politicians and economists, not engineers. They seem to get their engineering knowledge from the movies, where the brilliant scientist saves the day before the last reel. Real engineers know you seldom get it right the first time.

An industry will do things if there is money. Print some (good during an economic collapse) and see them do the job. I'm not too worried about fracking during a recession - recessions reduce oil demand, and thus the need for fracking.

Starting today Californians who water their lawn too much can get hit with $500 a day fines. So that problem is going to mostly go away.
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Old 06-01-2015, 04:31 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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How timely*; Paleofuture, one of the sites in the Kinja.com ring, has an article today about Paul Ehrlich and The Population Bomb: http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/what-...-ov-1708156528

*or does someone at Paleofuture read The Straight Dope?
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  #32  
Old 06-01-2015, 06:08 PM
Unpronounceable Unpronounceable is offline
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(and the helium gas we have released - it's literally the only truly nonrenewable resource, and we waste it on party balloons and inefficient superconducting magnets that don't recycle their boiloff)
Helium is constantly produced from radioactive decay and trapped in pockets underground, actually. We're certainly using it up much faster than it's produced, but it's not exactly non-renewable.
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:10 PM
ufel ufel is offline
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correct, because the boomers will collapse SS

to save their jobs, Congress will inflate the $ to complete worthlessness. Somewhere, somebody is going to stop taking worthless $ for their products. Probably oil, actually. We KNOW that more and more SS and Medicare recipients are being created, with fewer and fewer workers paying into the system. so it HAS to collapse. the only quetions are "when", "how fast", and "how bad".?

Last edited by ufel; 06-01-2015 at 07:13 PM..
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  #34  
Old 06-01-2015, 07:46 PM
watchwolf49 watchwolf49 is online now
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The helium in the core of the sun will ignite ... bye bye Earth
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  #35  
Old 06-01-2015, 10:27 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
In the 1970s, no country had entered the fifth stage of the population growth model (a drop in birth rates, increase in life expectancy, leading to equilibrium or even negative population growth and aging population.) It was purely theoretical, if it existed at all. By the beginning of the 90s, Japan, Italy and a few others were already there. Now most of the Western industrial democracies are.
The cost, though, is significant in terms of resource use. For example, the U.S. has less than 5 pct of the world's population but must consume something like a fifth or a quarter of oil and other resources worldwide to maintain middle class standards. Similar might be seen in other industrialized countries.

If much of the world follows the same (and a global capitalist system assumes that) then the world population will need at least one more earth.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:29 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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Originally Posted by davida03801 View Post
Someone somewhere is always predicting collapse of one thing or another. Has not happened yet, and even if it does life moves on. People adjust and live their lives.

Economic collapse is a consistent theme. The Global Warming charlatans I believe are a fad with some more time to run on that before they change the scope of the imminent problem.

That is what these folks do. They all either make money off it, or like the attention.
From what I know, concerns began only recently, and not surprisingly, after oil prices went haywire, the global financial crisis took place, and more reports of feedback loops due to global warming were being detected.

As for making money, from what I know, a lot more can be done through the opposite.
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  #37  
Old 06-01-2015, 10:30 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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There's also population momentum.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:31 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I was talking about getting resources. I'm very nervous about people who think big engineering projects can solve climate change, on the other hand. They all seem to be politicians and economists, not engineers. They seem to get their engineering knowledge from the movies, where the brilliant scientist saves the day before the last reel. Real engineers know you seldom get it right the first time.

An industry will do things if there is money. Print some (good during an economic collapse) and see them do the job. I'm not too worried about fracking during a recession - recessions reduce oil demand, and thus the need for fracking.

Starting today Californians who water their lawn too much can get hit with $500 a day fines. So that problem is going to mostly go away.
The catch is not so much money (as part of credit, the world can create that easily, as much of it consists of numbers in hard drives) as low energy returns, coupled with diminishing returns, environmental damage, etc.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:34 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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How timely*; Paleofuture, one of the sites in the Kinja.com ring, has an article today about Paul Ehrlich and The Population Bomb: http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/what-...-ov-1708156528

*or does someone at Paleofuture read The Straight Dope?
The world has actually been in overshoot for some time:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ical_footprint

That is, ave. ecological footprint exceeding biocapacity per capita.

The first has to keep rising to sustain growth as part of global capitalism, and the latter will drop due to population momentum coupled with environmental damage.

Other factors to consider and the effects are discussed in the two studies that are the topic of this thread.
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  #40  
Old 06-01-2015, 10:35 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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Originally Posted by ufel View Post
to save their jobs, Congress will inflate the $ to complete worthlessness. Somewhere, somebody is going to stop taking worthless $ for their products. Probably oil, actually. We KNOW that more and more SS and Medicare recipients are being created, with fewer and fewer workers paying into the system. so it HAS to collapse. the only quetions are "when", "how fast", and "how bad".?
There's also unfunded liabilities, a global unregulated derivatives market with a notional value of over a quadrillion dollars, issues concerning the petrodollar, etc.
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  #41  
Old 06-01-2015, 11:42 PM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
An update on the matter:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...aring-collapse

i.e., historical data tracking forecasts.
The link in the Guardian op-ed piece to the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute is broken. I am dubious about those charts, given the Brooking 1992 piece on Club of Rome linked in post 4. And I see no evidence of imminent food shortages leading to a population crash.

Note that the Population Bomb (1970) sketch a nightmare scenario involving food shortages in 1974: http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/the-p...1970-512629542
Ehrlich's predictive track record as well as his methodology has been wildly off in the past.
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  #42  
Old 06-02-2015, 01:54 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
The catch is not so much money (as part of credit, the world can create that easily, as much of it consists of numbers in hard drives) as low energy returns, coupled with diminishing returns, environmental damage, etc.
We've got a ways to go yet. Still, conservation is a better answer, along with more efficient energy usage. California's gasoline use has remained constant for a while - not per capita, total - thanks to more efficient vehicles. Owners of sliver Priuses around here have a hard time finding their car in the parking lot, there are so many of them around.
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  #43  
Old 06-02-2015, 08:44 AM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I was talking about getting resources. I'm very nervous about people who think big engineering projects can solve climate change, on the other hand.
Historically environmental and social problems have not been solved by big engineering projects, they've been solved by small ones.

The application of incremental improvements in internal combustion to self-propelled wheeled vehicles created the car, which in turn solved some pretty huge social and environmental problems, rather notably the fact that cities were swimming in horse shit and it was killing people by the thousands (a problem many people assumed was unsolvable.) Nobody swept in and got rid of all the horses in one giant project.

Quote:
An industry will do things if there is money.
And there will be. The more expensive oil gets, the more people will want things other than oil. The Tesla corporation may be a giant welfare recipient now, but 50 years ago it wouldn't have even gotten this far, and not far from now it and its inevitable competitors will be riding high.
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  #44  
Old 06-02-2015, 08:48 AM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ufel View Post
to save their jobs, Congress will inflate the $ to complete worthlessness. Somewhere, somebody is going to stop taking worthless $ for their products. Probably oil, actually. We KNOW that more and more SS and Medicare recipients are being created, with fewer and fewer workers paying into the system. so it HAS to collapse. the only quetions are "when", "how fast", and "how bad".?
How, exactly, does Congress inflate the currency?
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  #45  
Old 06-02-2015, 09:57 AM
Habeed Habeed is online now
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
How, exactly, does Congress inflate the currency?
By borrowing trillions of dollars they have no realistic intention of repaying.
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  #46  
Old 06-02-2015, 10:39 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
Historically environmental and social problems have not been solved by big engineering projects, they've been solved by small ones.

The application of incremental improvements in internal combustion to self-propelled wheeled vehicles created the car, which in turn solved some pretty huge social and environmental problems, rather notably the fact that cities were swimming in horse shit and it was killing people by the thousands (a problem many people assumed was unsolvable.) Nobody swept in and got rid of all the horses in one giant project.
I've never read anything that indicated that an attempt to solve the very real horse poop problem was behind the development of the automobile. However I think we can consider the quite large projects of developing sewer systems and water systems engineering solutions to environmental issues.
More often the social impact is an unexpected result of engineering projects - like that of the interstate highway system.
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And there will be. The more expensive oil gets, the more people will want things other than oil. The Tesla corporation may be a giant welfare recipient now, but 50 years ago it wouldn't have even gotten this far, and not far from now it and its inevitable competitors will be riding high.
Tesla is not the only electric car around. I see at leas half a dozen electric cars on my way to and from work, the vast majority not Teslas (though I drive by the Tesla plant.) I think five people in my department have electric cars, and the Volt is being heavily advertised on the radio. This is due to technology - gas prices today are not all that high, historically speaking. 40 years ago, after the oil embargo shock, we didn't have the technology for practical electric cars.
The perception of high gas prices helps, though.
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Old 06-02-2015, 12:22 PM
ralfy ralfy is offline
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
We've got a ways to go yet. Still, conservation is a better answer, along with more efficient energy usage. California's gasoline use has remained constant for a while - not per capita, total - thanks to more efficient vehicles. Owners of sliver Priuses around here have a hard time finding their car in the parking lot, there are so many of them around.
In a global capitalist system, efficiency leads to more consumption and not conservation. The only thing that will lead to conservation is economic crisis:

http://ourfiniteworld.com/2013/01/31...oline-mileage/

And even that won't be enough. The U.S. has less than 5 pct of the world's population but has to consume a fifth to a quarter of world oil production to maintain middle class standards. If the rest of the world followed such, we'd need at least one more earth. And a capitalist system leads to that:

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-22956470

And if the economic growth needed to sustain that requires 1-2 pct in oil demand increase per annum, or the equivalent of one Saudi Arabia in new oil every seven years, then we may be a lot closer to major crises than we think.

Finally, more factors are involved. More details in the article I shared above.
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  #48  
Old 06-02-2015, 01:51 PM
marshmallow marshmallow is online now
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Originally Posted by ralfy View Post
In a global capitalist system, efficiency leads to more consumption and not conservation.
Jevons paradox. It's not always true, though. And besides, if we're gonna use up everything, it may as well be efficient, eh?
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  #49  
Old 06-02-2015, 03:30 PM
andros andros is offline
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Originally Posted by Habeed View Post
By borrowing trillions of dollars they have no realistic intention of repaying.
You mean issuance of debt?
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  #50  
Old 06-02-2015, 04:55 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I've never read anything that indicated that an attempt to solve the very real horse poop problem was behind the development of the automobile.
It wasn't. It was, however, one of the little technological moves that eventually eliminated one problem (while, of course, creating others) - just as a thousand advances in engineering and materials development made large scale sewer systems more economically and technically feasible.
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