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Old 09-17-2013, 02:04 AM
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Climate change and overpopulation.


If there are those that actually believe climate change is caused by people and is not a naturally occuring cycle, as it has been ever since the world came into being billions of years before people existed, why won't they admit that there are too many people consuming too many resources and producing too much pollution?

Seems to me that it's pointless merely building a few wind turbines, when millions more people will be born this year, all growing up to want a car etc etc.

Anyway, if people do not voluntarily reduce their numbers by a significant number ( a couple billion or more ), Gaia will sort the problem by either eliminating, or reducing human numbers on the planet to a sustainable level.
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:43 AM
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That is why environmentalists are concerned about heavy population growth in many countries and also the rise of prosperity in other countries which will lead to more consumption. I'm not sure where you got the idea that environmentalists aren't concerned about global overpopulation.
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:55 AM
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If there are those that actually believe climate change is caused by people and is not a naturally occuring cycle, as it has been ever since the world came into being billions of years before people existed, why won't they admit that there are too many people consuming too many resources and producing too much pollution?
They are. "Execute the majority of humanity" is however not exactly high up there on the list of desirable solutions to climate change, so there's not a great deal to be done about it.
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:11 AM
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That is why environmentalists are concerned about heavy population growth in many countries and also the rise of prosperity in other countries which will lead to more consumption. I'm not sure where you got the idea that environmentalists aren't concerned about global overpopulation.
I have yet to hear any environmentalist or politician espouse population control as a means of combatting climate change.
Mainly it's just an excuse to increase taxes.
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:14 AM
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They are. "Execute the majority of humanity" is however not exactly high up there on the list of desirable solutions to climate change, so there's not a great deal to be done about it.
Well, I'm not advocating mass murder, but the Chinese solution is worth a try if people are really serious about it. Of course they aren't, so Gaia will have to do it, and that won't be pleasant.
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:23 AM
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Actually, the two things that are certain to bring birth rates down to a sustainable level are education and economic prosperity. That's the European solution, and it seems to be working pretty well.
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:03 AM
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I have yet to hear any environmentalist or politician espouse population control as a means of combatting climate change.
Mainly it's just an excuse to increase taxes.


That is why many environmentalists and others promote family planning in Third World countries where the bulk of the future population growth lies. Even without the ruthless Chinese methods, it has been mostly successful in Latin America and Asia with Africa being the last holdout. World population is fast stablizing.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:07 AM
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1. The OP says that climate change is "caused by people" and implies that it is proportional to world population. But this is misleading. CO2 emissions per head vary a great deal across different countries.
In many cases the highest population growth is in poor countries that have low CO2 emissions per head (and in absolute terms).
The low-hanging fruit may be reducing emissions in the developed world.

2. The OP claims it is pointless building wind turbines when millions of people will want cars. Actually renewable electricity generation may be very relevant if more people were to switch to electric cars.

3. What's the solution, and is it worse than the problem? I think a gaia-cull would be much worse than the likely effects of climate change. No-one should be wishing for such things.
(yes, I would agree that there is some overlap between these two concepts, but one key difference is that deaths due to climate change are unlikely to offset human population growth any time soon).

Last edited by Mijin; 09-17-2013 at 05:08 AM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:09 AM
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That is why many environmentalists and others promote family planning in Third World countries where the bulk of the future population growth lies. Even without the ruthless Chinese methods, it has been mostly successful in Latin America and Asia with Africa being the last holdout. World population is fast stablizing.
Really? Not so long ago it seems there were 6 billion of us, but now I'm told it's 7 billion.
At this rate, there'll be no other animals in existence, arable land will be covered in houses/ roads etc and we'll be eating seaweed as all the fish will have been eaten.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:17 AM
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1. The OP says that climate change is "caused by people" and implies that it is proportional to world population. But this is misleading. CO2 emissions per head vary a great deal across different countries.
In many cases the highest population growth is in poor countries that have low CO2 emissions per head (and in absolute terms).
The low-hanging fruit may be reducing emissions in the developed world.

2. The OP claims it is pointless building wind turbines when millions of people will want cars. Actually renewable electricity generation may be very relevant if more people were to switch to electric cars.

3. What's the solution, and is it worse than the problem? I think a gaia-cull would be much worse than the likely effects of climate change. No-one should be wishing for such things.
(yes, I would agree that there is some overlap between these two concepts, but one key difference is that deaths due to climate change are unlikely to offset human population growth any time soon).
The threat of overpopulation isn't CO2, it's the destruction of the environment to feed everyone. Fish have been reduced to the tipping point ( Tuna are nearly extinct ).
The use of CO2 producing machines may be highest in the west NOW, but look at China, Indonesia etc. Car ownership is exploding there.
Electric cars are pants for all but the rich, and transport is huge.
Present indications are that renewables will only reach 10% of requirement.

BTW, Gaia IS climate change.
You do know that warming of just 6 degrees C will produce methane storms, don't you?
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:26 AM
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The threat of overpopulation isn't CO2, it's the destruction of the environment to feed everyone. Fish have been reduced to the tipping point ( Tuna are nearly extinct ).
Fish has never been a major component of humanity's nutrition.

As for the rest of the environment, thanks to modern agricultural technology, we currently produce more calories per person than at any other point in human history. We aren't even approaching starvation due to lack of arable land.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:37 AM
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Actually, the two things that are certain to bring birth rates down to a sustainable level are education and economic prosperity. That's the European solution, and it seems to be working pretty well.
Well, but that's a farcical argument, even though it's commonly advanced.

"Economic prosperity" for the masses in the developing world is precisely the driver for our burgeoning CO2 production. You can't get the developing world economically prosperous unless you get them stuff--bicycles; motorcycles; cars; jets; bigger houses...etc etc. You can't get them stuff unless it's produced somewhere, and all that production creates CO2.

China is busy making stuff for us right now, and gradually shifting over to making stuff for themselves as they become more economically prosperous. Ditto India and many other reasonably functional developing countries. And predictably, CO2 production in those countries is rising. No one is willing to wait for some sort of environmentally correct grid to be in place before we produce stuff. Al Gore, I, and most others, want our stuff Right Now.

For dysfunctinal countries, like most of sub-saharan africa, the birth rate is not going to be diminishing anytime soon. Economic prosperity doesn't come to populations unable to organize themselves into stable institutions that can produce on modern scales.

The emphasis on CO2 production as the nut of the AGW crisis, instead of overpopulation as the core crisis, remains the largest farce of AGW alarmists, in my opinion. Sure, alarmists "recognize" population excess as a driver, but then it's right back to carbon credits, clean energy, and crap like that. I think part of the non-emphasis on the fact that there are just too damn many of us is because it's an unsolvable problem, and part of the non-emphasis is that burgeoning populations are almost all in the third world. It is not politically correct to criticize the third world for anything; the current attitude is that whatever wretchedness exists there is the fault of the developed world. It is not acceptable to blame a victim...

But when you think about how uber-successful our species has been, you realize how silly it is to fight AGW in the name of either humanity or environmentalism. Nothing is worse for the "natural" environment than humans, even if energy were perfectly "clean."

Imagine a world where there is an inexhaustible supply of perfectly clean energy. What happens? Humans use that energy to manipulate every single square inch of the planet for themselves, and billions more of us inhabit every square inch. What is left of the world might not be warmer, but it is certainly substantially altered. We're paving the prairie; eating the oceans; modifying everything we touch. It will be interesting to see how it ends, but the idea that we should focus on CO2 production and not population control is silly.

It's like worrying about a leaky pipe in your bathroom when outside the ocean is about to wash away the cliff upon which your house is built.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 09-17-2013 at 05:39 AM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:38 AM
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I have yet to hear any environmentalist or politician espouse population control as a means of combatting climate change.
Then you are not paying attention to the various spokespersons on the environmental movement where population control is mentioned. (Politicians, not so much.)

The issue of population growth--a huge bugaboo in the 1960s--has already been examined. As noted, above, and a born out in a number of studies, the fastest way to reduce population growth is to eliminate the need to produce large families to support parents in their old age. In societies with high levels of technological development and wealth, birth rates drop, often below the point of population sustainability. Beyond that, artificial efforts to control population are no more successful, or are less successful, than simply increasing the standard of living in a country. India has achieved the same sort of population control in regions where technology has reached twenty-first century levels that China "achieved" by mandating single-child families.
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Old 09-17-2013, 06:23 AM
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The threat of overpopulation isn't CO2, it's the destruction of the environment to feed everyone. Fish have been reduced to the tipping point ( Tuna are nearly extinct ).
The use of CO2 producing machines may be highest in the west NOW, but look at China, Indonesia etc. Car ownership is exploding there....
I agree that over-population is the key problem, the huge "elephant in the room" that is largely ignored. I see others in the thread arguing that environmentalists are concerned about the problem, but I do not see adequate emphasis. To the contrary, many "mainstream" opinion-makers speak of the need for births or immigrations to combat the looming demographic problem (too few youngsters earning to provide for too many oldsters).

I think the problem of global warming, while very important, receives too much emphasis. The related problem of ocean acidification is also important, and there are many other problems caused by over-population unrelated to CO2. A huge portion of the Earth's surface is now dedicated to human food (beef is especially high land usage) and this is exacerbated by the (misguided?) use of "biofuels." Humanity makes huge changes in ecological balance in devil-may-care fashion, thinking itself smarter than Mother Nature. "Gaia" may recover by finding a new ecological balance, reducing some populations while increasing others. I'd guess H. sapiens will be a loser as Gaia acts.

Some in the thread seem to regard the degradation of ocean habitat as unimportant. This boggles my mind too much to even respond. Coral is certainly being destroyed; jellyfish populations may be increasing due to human activities; does anyone argue this is good?

Dopers suggest human population may stabilize at 10 billion or so. But even 5 billion is unsustainable (as Stranger on a Train pointed out in a post a few months ago).

Last edited by septimus; 09-17-2013 at 06:24 AM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:07 AM
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The problem is not a family of ten in Nepal or Indonesia. The problem is the family of four in North America. Because of consumption of resources, and production of garbage, the family of four is far outstripping the family of ten, by orders of magnitude. They don't run two cars, no power plants are being built to run their air cons and fridges 24/7, they produce no garbage, by comparison.
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Doggo View Post
If there are those that actually believe climate change is caused by people and is not a naturally occuring cycle, as it has been ever since the world came into being billions of years before people existed, why won't they admit that there are too many people consuming too many resources and producing too much pollution?
As tomndebb noted many environmentalists and organizations do point at population control as a very important issue to deal with; as the Chief Pedant and others ignore, even the boogeyman Gore has mentioned it, only to have by "coincidence" I guess have the deniers and skeptics of climate change bring caused by people be the same people that accuse Gore and others falsely of demanding a "one child only" China policy.

http://grist.org/population/2011-06-...birth-control/
Quote:
Here’s what Gore said on Monday at the Games for Change Festival in New York City:
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One of the things we could do about it is to change the technologies, to put out less of this pollution, to stabilize the population, and one of the principal ways of doing that is to empower and educate girls and women. You have to have ubiquitous availability of fertility management so women can choose how many children to have, the spacing of the children. You have to lift child-survival rates so that parents feel comfortable having small families. And most important, you have to educate girls and empower women. And that’s the most powerful leveraging factor, and when that happens, then the population begins to stabilize and societies begin to make better choices and more balanced choices.
That’s about the most mild and noncontroversial statement anyone could make about population. He didn’t blame human numbers for our environmental problems. He didn’t fret about the world population heading toward 7 billion this year, or 9 billion by 2050. He didn’t say we need to get our fertility rates down. He didn’t say governments should make people have fewer children. He didn’t say people ought to decide on their own to have fewer children. He didn’t mention a single number.

But the ‘wingers are up in arms:

Quote:
“Al Gore branches out into population control theory,” writes climate denier Anthony Watts on his Watts Up With That? blog. Where’s the “control” in Gore’s statement? Well, he does want women to be able to control their own fertility, but that’s hardly an oppressive Chinese-style population-control policy.
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Seems to me that it's pointless merely building a few wind turbines, when millions more people will be born this year, all growing up to want a car etc etc.
It would then be pointless to control phosphate buildup in our oceans and rivers, to control acid rain, to control ozone depletion gases, etc. Because more people were born since then, for one example, all our rivers and lakes are full of algae and with no fish now right?

News to me. What happened was that government and industry saw the evidence and a combination of regulations and voluntary restrictions from the makers of the detergents that controlled the issue. Regardless of how many more little possible polluters we added. As I pointed many times before, the point of making population the main or sole reason to not do anything, is just part of the FUD from people and groups that do not want us to do a thing against controlling our global warming gas emissions.

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Anyway, if people do not voluntarily reduce their numbers by a significant number ( a couple billion or more ), Gaia will sort the problem by either eliminating, or reducing human numbers on the planet to a sustainable level.
As even the maker of the Gaia theory has given up on his alarmist positions regarding AGW one has to point out that we are bound to make it through if we plan ahead, the problems will be worse by listening to people that claim that nothing should be done, or worse, elect them to high office.

http://grist.org/news/dems-plan-to-t...talk-nonsense/

Last edited by GIGObuster; 09-17-2013 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:50 AM
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Fish has never been a major component of humanity's nutrition.
We could quibble about "major," but "between 13.8% and 16.5% of the animal protein intake of the human population" is not insignificant - also "Worldwide, about a billion people rely on fish as their main source of animal proteins.". Tell the Japanese, the Icelanders, the historical Pacific Northwest natives and the people around the Great Lakes region of Africa that fish was not a major component of their diet. Or the parts of Europe that were dependant on Cod.
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Old 09-17-2013, 09:53 AM
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I'm not saying fish isn't important - I'm sating that with a few changes to eating habits, humanity can survive easily without fish.

Of course, damage to the marine ecosystem is a horrible thing that must be taken very seriously. That goes without saying.
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Old 09-17-2013, 09:56 AM
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Really? Not so long ago it seems there were 6 billion of us, but now I'm told it's 7 billion.
At this rate, there'll be no other animals in existence, arable land will be covered in houses/ roads etc and we'll be eating seaweed as all the fish will have been eaten.
The seven billion figure is correct, rounded to the nearest billion. However, your conclusions of impending doom are incorrect.

The human race does not face any shortage of arable land. Within the USA alone, we have millions of acres of land that isn't used because it just isn't cost effective. We also devote who knows how much land to things we can't eat, such as tobacco and race horses. (Well, I suppose we could eat race horses if we had to.)

Overall, the human race uses less land for growing food than it did 40 years ago. Obviously the population has shot up during that time, yet technology has improved farming dramatically. That's why we're in good shape, land-wise. Moreover, many of the best agricultural technologies used in the USA haven't yet been put into use worldwide. When they are, yields in the third world will increase, and the need for land will further decrease.

As for running out of fish, that's a different issue. When farmers own their land, they have a financial motivation to treat it well and make sure that it remains good land. Nobody owns the ocean, so nobody has a motivation to make sure that the ocean is well-stocked. What should be done is to move towards fish farming as the primary means of fish production.

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You do know that warming of just 6 degrees C will produce methane storms, don't you?
May be it will, maybe it won't.
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Old 09-17-2013, 11:00 AM
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Just correcting that mess of my first paragraph:

Even the boogeyman Gore has recommended population control, only to have by "coincidence" (I guess) the same deniers and skeptics of climate change caused by people to be the same that accuse Gore and others falsely of demanding a "one child only" China policy.

http://grist.org/population/2011-06-...birth-control/

The main point here is that it is therefore mostly politics the reason why, regardless if the issue is climate change of population control, that there is condemnation from many from the right in the USA specially. The OP is not even aware of the conservative moves that discourages more open discussions of population control in the public forums.

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Old 09-17-2013, 01:24 PM
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Funny, I was under the impression the post-industrial societies were edging toward population stabilization on their own.
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:44 PM
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Just correcting that mess of my first paragraph:

Even the boogeyman Gore has recommended population control, only to have by "coincidence" (I guess) the same deniers and skeptics of climate change caused by people to be the same that accuse Gore and others falsely of demanding a "one child only" China policy.

http://grist.org/population/2011-06-...birth-control/

The main point here is that it is therefore mostly politics the reason why, regardless if the issue is climate change of population control, that there is condemnation from many from the right in the USA specially. The OP is not even aware of the conservative moves that discourages more open discussions of population control in the public forums.
If we don't solve for population reduction, all else is pointless.

What irks me is the emphasis on various machinations for clean energy, carbon taxes and the like when they aren't going to reduce the total amount of carbon we put in the air. At best any proposed measures I've seen only reduce the rate of growth in the amount of carbon we put in the air. And since we're already putting in too much, and the burgeoning population wanting stuff like we Westerners have keeps on procreating, the whole alarmist trumpet feels like a Great Cause to me--fun to Get Involved, but ultimately pointless. It's like proclaiming Hell without a Plan of Salvation.

The idea that we'll get growing populations to stop procreating by making them economically prosperous becomes even more risible when you consider that the way to get them economically prosperous is by getting them stuff. That means (with today's energy grid and current production mechanisms) vastly increasing carbon out so we get fewer people so we eventually stabilize the number of people producing carbon footprints in the first place. Whut?

There are too many people in this world, and too many more about to show up for us to do much of anything actually effective in terms of protecting the natural (i.e., unruined-by-humans) ecosystem. You cannot have as many people as we have on earth (plus 30% more even by the most conservative estimates) who are living at a current Western level and not have an earth which is pretty much ruined or substantially altered for all other species.

The species war is over. "Natural" ecology has lost, irreversibly. Humans have won, and will remain victors until the next Big Comet or something knocks back the human population. Overpopulation is overwhelmingly the largest driver of carbon output, and worrying about how to best tax carbon is like worrying about what rules to make around urinating in the ocean while raw sewage is getting dumped into it. Wrong focus. Not to mention that a few extra degrees is nowhere near as damaging as actually paving over prairie.

PS: GB, can you help clarify for me in what sense Mr Gore is a boogeyman? He seems like a decent enough guy to me, even if he, like the rest of us, loves his consumption.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 09-17-2013 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:07 PM
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Funny, I was under the impression the post-industrial societies were edging toward population stabilization on their own.
And "edging" is the safe way to do it. Avoiding catastrophic population changes -- either way -- is in the world's best interest.

However, it is worth noting that, after the Black Death, European citizenry had a brief boom of personal liberty and wealth. For one thing, there was a lot of unclaimed property to be picked up for a song. For another thing, with a labor shortage, workers were more valued, and thus had a little more say in their own affairs.

Now, I'm not actually advocating this kind of approach... (But you should see what I'm cooking up in the genetics lab in my basement...)
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:22 PM
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PS: GB, can you help clarify for me in what sense Mr Gore is a boogeyman? He seems like a decent enough guy to me, even if he, like the rest of us, loves his consumption.
He's a boogeyman because many people pre emptively bring him up as if he is some ultra respected scientist whom everyone takes their marching orders from. Then they can feel good about themselves when they knock him down a peg after they've set him up as the strawman standard bearer for climate control.

As to being a private individual who loves his consumption, that's yet another way in which he is boogeymanned. I'm not aware that he is in favor of illegalizing any consumption: if he is I stand to be corrected. It is possible to incentivize reduction of consumption by taxes, so that people can consume more if they can afford it, while reducing consumption overall. Gore, unlike many, does (artificially) pay more for his consumption so it is not as if he does not think this should apply to him.

So not only is he accused of holding a radical view which he doesn't hold (namely that a certain level of consumption should be banned,) but then held as a hypocrite for not following his own strawman view.
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:51 PM
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He's a boogeyman because many people pre emptively bring him up as if he is some ultra respected scientist whom everyone takes their marching orders from. Then they can feel good about themselves when they knock him down a peg after they've set him up as the strawman standard bearer for climate control.

As to being a private individual who loves his consumption, that's yet another way in which he is boogeymanned. I'm not aware that he is in favor of illegalizing any consumption: if he is I stand to be corrected. It is possible to incentivize reduction of consumption by taxes, so that people can consume more if they can afford it, while reducing consumption overall. Gore, unlike many, does (artificially) pay more for his consumption so it is not as if he does not think this should apply to him.

So not only is he accused of holding a radical view which he doesn't hold (namely that a certain level of consumption should be banned,) but then held as a hypocrite for not following his own strawman view.
QFT, and the Chief completely missed the point. Family planning does not depend on being economically prosperous, it is another straw man. And there was nothing to deal with the point made about what we already did before even with an increasing population: switched to other technologies and used regulations to reduce the phosphates in the water, the acid in the rain, to reduce the CFCs. Reducing the levels of a product of our technology does not depend on an increase of the numbers of humans. And the recommendation that we all have to plan our families stays in place as in the big picture the issue will be easier to deal with the less we are.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 09-17-2013 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:59 PM
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You do know that warming of just 6 degrees C will produce methane storms, don't you?
And global surface temperatures have risen 1.5*F since 1880, according to NASA. There's going to be other, more substantial climate change events long before we get that 6*C rise in global average surface temperatures to support your uncited comment.
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Old 09-17-2013, 06:07 PM
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Funny, I was under the impression the post-industrial societies were edging toward population stabilization on their own.
The key here is 'edging' and 'post-industrial societies'. The problem of overpopulation versus the environment doesn't care what type of society you live in or even how those societies are distributed around the globe. You can't just be responsible, seal your borders and make yourself immune to the effects of everyone else. It is a truly global problem so that people in California can be as green as they want only to see whatever (small) gains they make wiped out many times over by a single rising city in China or India.

I have written about this exact topic a few times here and I am not even especially liberal so I don't think it has gone unnoticed by everyone. It is more the case that no one knows what to do about it. My position is that the world has been overpopulated for well over 100 years already in terms of sustainability and it is only projected to get much worse before it levels off at about 10 billion people. It would take an unprecedented catastrophe to kill off approximately 8 billion of those people before the numbers would be right again.

China is the only country that has gotten part of the solution so far. If the whole world would do the same thing, we could get the population numbers down with much less drama and heartache in 150 years or so but that isn't going to happen. One reason (besides simple individual reproductive freedom) is that most modern economic systems are built on modified pyramid schemes that really hate population stagnation let alone declines. Sadly, it is an almost unsolvable problem but nature will find a way to correct it eventually. There is no long-term choice that let's us shrug off that threat.

The so-called positive news about falling birth rates in many developed parts of the world means exactly zero for this discussion because the overall world population continues to rise past its already vastly unsustainable levels. It is simply a red herring that gives people an excuse to ignore the overall issue.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 09-17-2013 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:46 PM
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China is the only country that has gotten part of the solution so far.
Not really.

India went from a growth rate of around 4.0 in 1970 to a current rate of about 1.3 without resorting to China's "one child per family" rule. And India's current rate is only as high as it is because the poorer parts of the country are still having kids at around the 3.9 level. Those parts of the country that have industrialized and entered the 21st century are very close to China's rate of approximately 0.5 without any government interference. Similar figures show up in other countries, particularly in Europe. With no direct governmental efforts, France has a lower growth rate than China and Germany has a growth rate of less than half that of China.
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:52 PM
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Not really.

India went from a growth rate of around 4.0 in 1970 to a current rate of about 1.3 without resorting to China's "one child per family" rule. And India's current rate is only as high as it is because the poorer parts of the country are still having kids at around the 3.9 level. Those parts of the country that have industrialized and entered the 21st century are very close to China's rate of approximately 0.5 without any government interference. Similar figures show up in other countries, particularly in Europe. With no direct governmental efforts, France has a lower growth rate than China and Germany has a growth rate of less than half that of China.
That is what I am talking about though. I didn't propose any specific solution for the whole world. China got their population down rapidly to avert a population time-bomb that they (rightfully) saw on the horizon. The fact remains that the world population is still growing rapidly and will continue even after today's unsustainable levels.

You can cite all the statistics about falling birthrates around the world and the reasons for them but that does not matter at all in the overall sense especially at the environmental level. The only measure that matters is that the population is still going up rapidly well past today's sustainable levels and a crash has to come eventually if only because of finite natural resources. The doom and gloom population prophets from the 70's were not correct about the timing of such a crash but that does not mean that their whole point was moot. It is still as applicable today as it ever was.

Chief Pendant is correct in characterizing that type of thinking as insane. Naturally declining birthrates happen when a given society has prosperity and education but you have to expend resources to make that happen. That is a death spiral and not an overall solution. Those resources do not exist for the current 7 billion people let alone the projected 10 billion by the end of the century. Those are mind-mindbogglingly large numbers of people and most of them cannot have nice houses, cars, electronics or even enough clean water and food at current Western standards because there isn't enough of it to go around and there isn't ever going to be.

You can try to sustain such large numbers of people reasonably well in very short time-frame (50 - 100 years at most) but you are raping the planet at the same time just so that present day societies don't have to endure as much hardship as needed to set up longer term sustainability.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 09-17-2013 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 09-17-2013, 09:47 PM
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2013 seems to be the first year the birth dearth has progressed to the point where a bare majority of the world's nations (113 out of 224) are at least a smidge below the 2.1 replacement fertility rate. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...fertility_rate

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Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Funny, I was under the impression the post-industrial societies were edging toward population stabilization on their own.
Overpopulation has been a theme in Western literature for almost 4,000 years:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atra-Hasis

Malthusianism is an ancient and persistent paradigm that is, I think, in the process of being thoroughly discredited. But this could take a generation of two.

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The problem is not a family of ten in Nepal or Indonesia. The problem is the family of four in North America.
It may depend on whether the family of ten has a few two-stroke-engine motor scooters. (And whether the family of four live in a city apartment, as more of us do lately, or underwater in a distant suburb.)

A more serious objection to your example is that Nepal has a fertility rate of 2.36 and Indonesia has a fertility rate of 2.20, compared to 2.06 in the United States (see first link in this post). So I don't know where you came up with your family size examples.

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He seems like a decent enough guy to me, even if he, like the rest of us, loves his consumption.
Lots of people no poorer than Gore live in luxury apartments or condos. Steve Jobs, who lived in a nice but ordinary-sized suburban home, probably had a lower carbon footprint than the Gores despite having far more wealth. Gore's way of life is just bizarre given his political views. It doesn't prove his views wrong, but it does seems like a strange own-goal to me.

Last edited by PhillyGuy; 09-17-2013 at 09:48 PM.
  #31  
Old 09-17-2013, 09:49 PM
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Chief Pendant is correct in characterizing that type of thinking as insane. Naturally declining birthrates happen when a given society has prosperity and education but you have to expend resources to make that happen. That is a death spiral and not an overall solution. Those resources do not exist for the current 7 billion people let alone the projected 10 billion by the end of the century. Those are mind-mindbogglingly large numbers of people and most of them cannot have nice houses, cars, electronics or even enough clean water and food at current Western standards because there isn't enough of it to go around and there isn't ever going to be.

You can try to sustain such large numbers of people reasonably well in very short time-frame (50 - 100 years at most) but you are raping the planet at the same time just so that present day societies don't have to endure as much hardship as needed to set up longer term sustainability.
This is just once again ignoring that we changed the resources of what we used in the past, although I do not agree fully with the optimistic view, there are researchers that point that many of your numbers are exaggerated and miss a lot of context.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/14/op...e-problem.html
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The planet’s carrying capacity for prehistoric human hunter-gatherers was probably no more than 100 million. But without their Paleolithic technologies and ways of life, the number would be far less — perhaps a few tens of millions. The rise of agriculture enabled even greater population growth requiring ever more intensive land-use practices to gain more sustenance from the same old land. At their peak, those agricultural systems might have sustained as many as three billion people in poverty on near-vegetarian diets.

The world population is now estimated at 7.2 billion. But with current industrial technologies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has estimated that the more than nine billion people expected by 2050 as the population nears its peak could be supported as long as necessary investments in infrastructure and conducive trade, anti-poverty and food security policies are in place. Who knows what will be possible with the technologies of the future? The important message from these rough numbers should be clear. There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity. We are nothing at all like bacteria in a petri dish.

Why is it that highly trained natural scientists don’t understand this? My experience is likely to be illustrative. Trained as a biologist, I learned the classic mathematics of population growth — that populations must have their limits and must ultimately reach a balance with their environments. Not to think so would be to misunderstand physics: there is only one earth, of course!

It was only after years of research into the ecology of agriculture in China that I reached the point where my observations forced me to see beyond my biologists’s blinders. Unable to explain how populations grew for millenniums while increasing the productivity of the same land, I discovered the agricultural economist Ester Boserup, the antidote to the demographer and economist Thomas Malthus and his theory that population growth tends to outrun the food supply. Her theories of population growth as a driver of land productivity explained the data I was gathering in ways that Malthus could never do. While remaining an ecologist, I became a fellow traveler with those who directly study long-term human-environment relationships — archaeologists, geographers, environmental historians and agricultural economists.

The science of human sustenance is inherently a social science. Neither physics nor chemistry nor even biology is adequate to understand how it has been possible for one species to reshape both its own future and the destiny of an entire planet. This is the science of the Anthropocene. The idea that humans must live within the natural environmental limits of our planet denies the realities of our entire history, and most likely the future. Humans are niche creators. We transform ecosystems to sustain ourselves. This is what we do and have always done. Our planet’s human-carrying capacity emerges from the capabilities of our social systems and our technologies more than from any environmental limits.
I would still insist on more family planning, what has been clear is that there is a lot that needs to be done in that front and in poor developing nations the idea of planing a family is not avoided as many assume, the problem has been one of lack of resources and one should not forget that there is a lot of conservative organizations that constantly fight to make that task harder.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17829665
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However it [population control] is now back on the table, largely because of research showing that women in the poorest nations generally want access to family planning and that people benefit from it.

The UN's "medium" projection indicates the population peaking at just over 10 billion before the end of the century, and then starting to fall, from a current level of seven billion.

"Of the three billion extra people we expect to have, most will come from the least developed countries, and the population of Africa alone will increase by two billion," said Eliya Zulu, executive director of the African Institute for Development Policy based in Nairobi.

"We have to invest in family planning in these countries - we empower women, increase child and maternal health and provide a greater opportunity for the poorest countries to invest in education."
Speaking of the issue that has been related to this one, the Climate Change one, as I pointed before, the experts do think that we can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Quote:
As well as supporting family planning and universal education, the Royal Society says a priority must be to lift the poorest 1.3bn people in the world out of extreme poverty.

If this means increased consumption of food, water and other resources, the experts conclude, that is simply the right thing to do.

Meanwhile they say that the richest must cut back on the material resources they consume - though that might not affect living standards.

Eliminating food waste, slashing fossil fuel burning and switching economies from goods to services are among the simple measures advocated to reduce the developed world's footprint without reducing the prosperity of its citizens.

"A child in the developed world consumes 30-50 times as much water as in the developing world; CO2 production, a proxy of energy use, can also be 50 times higher," noted Sir John.
Indeed that is a lot different than the assumption by the Chief and others that the only way to deal with the issue of climate change in regards to the population issue is to destroy our standard of living, that is not the expected nor the recommended way to do it, and the population issue is not ignored.
  #32  
Old 09-17-2013, 10:09 PM
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Lots of people no poorer than Gore live in luxury apartments or condos. Steve Jobs, who lived in a nice but ordinary-sized suburban home, probably had a lower carbon footprint than the Gores despite having far more wealth. Gore's way of life is just bizarre given his political views. It doesn't prove his views wrong, but it does seems like a strange own-goal to me.
Actually what the media got about Gore was wrong. Gore's point is to be carbon neutral, true, it would be easy and less expensive to live in more modest places. One can make the point that he should do more on reducing his emissions (and he is doing that BTW), but that is not what Gore was/is promoting.

http://desmogblog.com/hoover-institu...art-of-slander
Quote:
CLAIM: Schweizer attacks Gore for not using green energy alternatives at his home.

FACT: The Gores have signed up for every “green power” option their utilities make available and are in the process of adding photovoltaic panels to their home.
----
CLAIM: Schweizer says that Gore does not offset his carbon emissions because Paramount Classics pays for the offsets.

FACT: The Gore’s personal carbon offsets are achieved independently of and in addition to the carbon-neutral leadership shown by Paramount Classics, Participant Productions and Rodale.
----
Makes you wonder who's paying for Schweizer's carbon offset...

In scouring about for every possible compromising detail, Schweizer fails to point out the fact that the Hoover Institute has received over $6.5 million from oil magnate Richard Mellon Scaife, through his Scaife Family of foundations. Nor does Mr. Schweizer mention the $295,000 his Institute has received from ExxonMobil.

The other PR technique that is applicable on this occasion is called the "echo chamber," in which you try to build the credibility of a lie by repeating it. So far, Newsmax, Newbusters, Amy Ridenour and CNN's Glenn Beck have rebroadcast this blather. Alas, it still isn't true.
  #33  
Old 09-17-2013, 11:29 PM
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. . . There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity. We are nothing at all like bacteria in a petri dish. . . .
Well...it's obvious there has to be some finite upper limit! Can we agree that the earth absolutely could not support 10^25 people? The petri dish may be larger than anyone had thought, but it is finite.
  #34  
Old 09-17-2013, 11:46 PM
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Clearly we should be encouraging China and India to engage in a hugely destructive war that will embroil and slaughter most of emerging Asia before they can work their way up to a post-industrial level of consumption.

Maybe they can drag Africa into it, too.
  #35  
Old 09-18-2013, 01:03 AM
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I'm not saying fish isn't important - I'm sating that with a few changes to eating habits, humanity can survive easily without fish.
Humanity, yes. One billion humans, not so much.
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Old 09-18-2013, 05:49 AM
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Can we agree that the earth absolutely could not support 10^25 people?
Yes.

Now, can we also agree that in the earth of today and tomorrow, low economic growth and sub-replacement fertility are problems, while overpopulation is not?

Didn't think so.

It could be that in a thousand years, people who believe in low family size will have mostly died out, and all that are left will be high birth rate groups like the Mormons and Hasids. I don't believe culture evolves like that. However, if I'm wrong, this will eventually make overpopulation a problem. But preaching to people who live in sub-replacement societies won't prevent such a far future problem.

Right now, we are on a road where total world population goes into decline within the lifetimes of most posters on this board. I won't likely live so long, but others will learn how that goes.
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:56 AM
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Actually what the media got about Gore was wrong. Gore's point is to be carbon neutral, true, it would be easy and less expensive to live in more modest places. One can make the point that he should do more on reducing his emissions (and he is doing that BTW), but that is not what Gore was/is promoting.

http://desmogblog.com/hoover-institu...art-of-slander
Global warming is caused by total carbon in the atmosphere, not by the number of carbon positive people. If the problem is as serious as Gore says then he has the moral obligation to reduce carbon as much as possible, not just be carbon neutral. The fact that he has not reduced his carbon footprint as much as possible, means that either he does not really believe that global warming is that big a problem, that he is an evil person, or that global warming is such a big issue no one person can hope to have any effect on it however much they give up.
It seems to me that the most likely option is the last. This is the problem with global warming. Even if you cut your emmissions to nothing and move into a tent in the wilderness, eating nothing but berries, the global temperature will not be affected at all. People are being asked to make huge sacrifices without any hope of the the problem getting better.
So if even Al Gore still flies around the country seeking favors from masseuses what chance does the rest of humanity have of changing?
  #38  
Old 09-18-2013, 08:58 AM
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China is the only country that has gotten part of the solution so far. If the whole world would do the same thing, we could get the population numbers down with much less drama and heartache in 150 years or so but that isn't going to happen.
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Originally Posted by Shagnasty
That is what I am talking about though. I didn't propose any specific solution for the whole world. China got their population down rapidly to avert a population time-bomb that they (rightfully) saw on the horizon.
It seems likely that you barely know anything about China's One-Child Policy.

First of all, you say that China is "the only country" that has part of the solution. The fertility rate in China is around 1.4, while other countries such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Greece have reached a much lower fertility rate without any need to restrict births by law. Those countries have used heavy-handed means such as ad campaigns that shame large families, but they've stuck with voluntary means. If you actually wanted to glorify low fertility rates, there's no reason to praise China's use of force in the matter when other countries have reached lower fertility rates without force.

Secondly, you're confused about why China has a One-Child policy. In the 70's some environmentalists started believing in "the population bomb" and advocating for legal restrictions on childbearing. While all free countries ignored their suggestion, they saw China implement restrictions on childbearing and assumed that it had to be for environmental reasons. In point of fact, the Chinese government never said that it was implementing the One-Child Policy for environmental reasons or to curb overpopulation. It wasn't. The Chinese government in the 70's couldn't have cared less about the environment or world population goals. The One-Child policy was implemented to further communist goals; women with fewer children would supposedly be more dedicated to collectivist ways of thinking and living.

Lastly, you imply that China's policy will reduce "drama and heartache". To those of us who know the truth about the matter, that sounds like a sick joke. When people go to jail for having kids, when women are forced to have abortions at 8 months, when they have to become refugees to protect the life of their second child, when couples murder their baby girls because that's the only legal way they can have a baby boy, that sounds like increased drama and heartache, not decreased.
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:10 AM
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Global warming is caused by total carbon in the atmosphere, not by the number of carbon positive people. If the problem is as serious as Gore says then he has the moral obligation to reduce carbon as much as possible, not just be carbon neutral.
I agree that even with buying carbon offsets, living a modest lifestyle is preferable to an extravagant one (and I don't really know or care how extravagant Gore's really is, but let's assume it is for the sake of discussion.)

But considering his visibility, what he should not do is live out in the woods somewhere, off the grid living only off of solar and berries. Even if it would personally make more of a difference, people would look at him and say "what? He's expects us all to do THAT? No way!"
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Old 09-18-2013, 10:09 AM
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Global warming is caused by total carbon in the atmosphere, not by the number of carbon positive people. If the problem is as serious as Gore says then he has the moral obligation to reduce carbon as much as possible, not just be carbon neutral. The fact that he has not reduced his carbon footprint as much as possible, means that either he does not really believe that global warming is that big a problem, that he is an evil person, or that global warming is such a big issue no one person can hope to have any effect on it however much they give up.
And as pointed out he is reducing his emissions even though what he recommends is a concession to modernity, what is missed is that the carbon credits he uses are an investment towards renewables that will in the long run benefit not only Gore but others with more developed alternative fuels in the near future.

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It seems to me that the most likely option is the last. This is the problem with global warming. Even if you cut your emmissions to nothing and move into a tent in the wilderness, eating nothing but berries, the global temperature will not be affected at all.
Straw man, the policy makers already conceded a lot by concentrating on a 2 degree limit to work with, (sounds to me a lot like the democrats compromising before even negotiating on the health care issue by dropping single payer or a national plan before going to the table), however that sounds more like the old discredited point that it is just natural or that it is too late.

The problem with that is that then we run to the contradictory nature of the modern contrarians, the latest buzz is to claim that the warming will not as bad as the surface temperature is not increasing as much, as misleading as it is the contradiction comes when one notices that the best of what they can claim is that slightly higher concentrations of CO2 are needed to become a problem, but that means we still have time to prevent even the mild but still expensive changes.

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People are being asked to make huge sacrifices without any hope of the the problem getting better.
No. What the experts ask is like paying for the difference between the priceless quality of having clean water and a healthy population, vs having many dying of cholera. Back then there were people that also claimed that dealing with the issue of clean water and sewage was too expensive to deal with and so we should not even try, they were also wrong.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7bmg65SS20
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Some people say transitioning to clean energy will simply cost too much - "leave it to future generations." In Edinburgh, Scotland, Richard Alley explains that if we start soon the cost of the transformation could be similar to that which was paid for something none of us would want to do without - clean water and the modern sanitation system.
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So if even Al Gore still flies around the country seeking favors from masseuses what chance does the rest of humanity have of changing?
A better chance than relying on straw men and misinformation from supposedly "reliable" contrarian sources.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 09-18-2013 at 10:10 AM.
  #41  
Old 09-18-2013, 11:20 AM
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If the problem is as serious as Gore says then he has the moral obligation to reduce carbon as much as possible, not just be carbon neutral. The fact that he has not reduced his carbon footprint as much as possible, means that either he does not really believe that global warming is that big a problem, that he is an evil person, or that global warming is such a big issue no one person can hope to have any effect on it however much they give up.
It seems to me that the most likely option is the last. This is the problem with global warming. Even if you cut your emmissions to nothing and move into a tent in the wilderness, eating nothing but berries, the global temperature will not be affected at all. People are being asked to make huge sacrifices without any hope of the the problem getting better.
So if even Al Gore still flies around the country seeking favors from masseuses what chance does the rest of humanity have of changing?
Oh my goodness. When right-wing people spend their money on themselves instead of ... donating it to the U.S. Treasury (or whatever) it's
"Why do you hate successful people?"
"Taxxes is theft! That's MY money!"
"He should spend HIS money to meet HIS needs ... the Magic Free Market will then lead to the best possible universe."
"Blah blah blah."

When a progressive thinker deviates from a purely ascetic life, he's an immoral hypocrite, a liar, etc.

puddleglum, have you tackled the question Chronos(?) asks? If you don't like the "Free Parking gets all the Chance money" rule in Monopoly, but your friends play that rule, is it hypocritical of you to take the money when you land on Free Parking?

(I realize Monopoly rules have nothing to do with climate change. But your "logic" is so hopelessly mixed-up, I think we'd better start with basics.)
  #42  
Old 09-18-2013, 03:19 PM
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Oh my goodness. When right-wing people spend their money on themselves instead of ... donating it to the U.S. Treasury (or whatever) it's
"Why do you hate successful people?"
"Taxxes is theft! That's MY money!"
"He should spend HIS money to meet HIS needs ... the Magic Free Market will then lead to the best possible universe."
"Blah blah blah."

When a progressive thinker deviates from a purely ascetic life, he's an immoral hypocrite, a liar, etc.

puddleglum, have you tackled the question Chronos(?) asks? If you don't like the "Free Parking gets all the Chance money" rule in Monopoly, but your friends play that rule, is it hypocritical of you to take the money when you land on Free Parking?

(I realize Monopoly rules have nothing to do with climate change. But your "logic" is so hopelessly mixed-up, I think we'd better start with basics.)
It is his money and he can spend it how he likes, but we can make judgements about him and how he chooses to live his life.
Al Gore is one of the richest men in the world. He can use that money to reduce carbon as much as possible or he can use it for personal consumption. The fact that he uses it so much for personal consumption seems to indicate either that he is exceedingly weak, or that he does not believe his sacrifice will make a difference.
An analogy would be a town that is in danger of being flooded. If you are convinced a flood is coming that will wipe out the town, should you fill as many sandbags as you can or should you find out how many sandbags per capita are needed and just fill that.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:25 PM
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But some people don't believe there is a flood coming. You shouldn't run around and fill as many sandbags as possible and yell "if everyone doesn't drop what they are doing NOW and fill bags 24 hours a day until exhausted we will never stop the flood" when what's really needed is for everyone to fill bags for a couple hours. Then, the people who don't believe the flood is coming will say "see, he wants us to get exhausted for no reason! I'm not gonna make that much of a sacrifice for something that's not gonna come anyway!"
  #44  
Old 09-18-2013, 03:26 PM
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. . . Now, can we also agree that in the earth of today and tomorrow, low economic growth and sub-replacement fertility are problems, while overpopulation is not?
Nope: because habitat loss, decline in biodiversity, climate change, salinity of farmlands, and old-fashioned pollution, are problems. It's absolutely fallacious to say that overpopulation is "not a problem." You can, with logic, say it's a lesser problem, but not that it "isn't a problem at all." That's insane.

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. . . It could be that in a thousand years, people who believe in low family size will have mostly died out, and all that are left will be high birth rate groups . . .
That way lies Moties and madness.
  #45  
Old 09-18-2013, 03:32 PM
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I agree that even with buying carbon offsets, living a modest lifestyle is preferable to an extravagant one (and I don't really know or care how extravagant Gore's really is, but let's assume it is for the sake of discussion.)

But considering his visibility, what he should not do is live out in the woods somewhere, off the grid living only off of solar and berries. Even if it would personally make more of a difference, people would look at him and say "what? He's expects us all to do THAT? No way!"
He is expecting us to do that, he is just not being honest about it. He is pretending that fighting climate change means just not buying an SUV and voting democrat.
The problem with this is that it leads people to believe it is too easy. If climate change is to be avoided by limiting carbon, buying a prius and take your own bags to the grocery store is not going to cut it.
What people are going to need to do is to have one tiny car per house, no air travel, no heat or air conditioning except for the most extreme days, significantly altered diet, and pay much more for the things they buy. Everyone is going to have to significantly reduce their standard of living. Even then it is not going to make much difference unless developing countries are going to have to put a hold on their hopes of escaping poverty and accept low growth for the foreseeable future.
The problem with this is it goes against everything we know about human nature.
People just do not accept poverty and hope everyone decides to do the same. It is a collective action problem and is not really solveable.
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Old 09-18-2013, 03:35 PM
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But some people don't believe there is a flood coming. You shouldn't run around and fill as many sandbags as possible and yell "if everyone doesn't drop what they are doing NOW and fill bags 24 hours a day until exhausted we will never stop the flood" when what's really needed is for everyone to fill bags for a couple hours. Then, the people who don't believe the flood is coming will say "see, he wants us to get exhausted for no reason! I'm not gonna make that much of a sacrifice for something that's not gonna come anyway!"
If some people don't believe a flood is coming, that just means more sandbags to fill. It doesn't matter whether a few people fill a bunch of sandbags, or if a bunch of people fill a few. The best way to find out whether people believe a flood is coming is to see who is filling sandbags.
  #47  
Old 09-18-2013, 03:39 PM
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By that theory, the government can be run on voluntary taxes.
  #48  
Old 09-18-2013, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
He is expecting us to do that, he is just not being honest about it.
No, once again you are only ignoring that he proposes that we should be carbon neutral.

We could complain that he is not doing more pure things (that in reality are points reduced to absurd fallacious demand levels) but he is not demanding that civilization should stop, of course that does not fit the narrative of most of the denier media out there so they twist his claims.

Last edited by GIGObuster; 09-18-2013 at 04:38 PM.
  #49  
Old 09-18-2013, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by GIGObuster View Post
...but he is not demanding that civilization should stop
That is what some of us are saying however. I don't mean completely stop but, if someone is actually serious about environmental problems overall, all of the feel-good measures in the world aren't going to fix it especially with a rapidly increasing population in raw numbers (overall numbers and not percentages or cheats like offsets are all that is all that matters for this problem). Overpopulation is already THE core problem and it is only getting worse. It doesn't matter if you are carbon neutral or not, the worst thing you can do for the environment is to have a child and several are even worse.

I don't mean to sound like some radical environmentalist. I am fairly conservative in general but I would hope that, if the claims about global warming, loss of habitat and decreased biodiversity are even partly true, then it will take much more radical measures than even the popular extremists like to admit. Electric cars and curbside recycling won't fix it at all. You have to get the population level down drastically to even begin the environmental restoration effort in the long-term. Everything else is just pissing into the wind.

I have been looking at this problem just from an apolitical standpoint for a few years now and reading the work of the best scientific minds available. Most of them come down to the same basic conclusion even if they don't state it directly. You can have sustainable environmental measures at even the current population levels let alone the projected ones. This isn't a problem you can cheat on and wave away. It will crash hard and it has already started.

This is a man-made problem that only concerns the future of humanity, not the earth in general. You can't hurt the earth at all no matter what you do. It will just shrug us off when the human population becomes too unsustainable. Some species will thrive in the aftermath and the whole process will start again. The reason to fight against that as hard as possible now is so that your kids, grandkids or possibly even you don't have to go through a worldwide collapse of humanity along with most species.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 09-18-2013 at 07:04 PM.
  #50  
Old 09-18-2013, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
Al Gore is one of the richest men in the world.
He's worth US$200 million. Given that there are 1,426 people worth at least five times as much, I doubt he is even one of the top 10,000 richest men in the world. And I certainly doubt he is one the 10,000 richest people in the world.

If he lived in one of those apartment houses overlooking Central Park (as I might with that kind of money ), I doubt he'd even be the richest guy in his building.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GIGObuster View Post
he is not demanding that civilization should stop
I'd say the opposite. He's not declaring that sprawl should stop. Of course that's his right. But I think more people living in dense cities is better for the environment. More interesting too.
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