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Old 08-16-2018, 10:58 AM
a dudes thought's a dudes thought's is offline
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Is over population a dire problem or is it being blown out of proportion

So I have been arguing with some people at another site about over population. We have all seen many films like Soylent Green,and many tv shows depicting over population. After doing some reaserch I feel that over population is not as big a problem as originally thought. With advancing technology and a declining birth rate I think the problem can be managed effectively. What are your thoughts on over population and do you agree with me or think I am wrong and being over simplistic in my opinions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TuHDLhfq2s
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Old 08-16-2018, 11:20 AM
senoy senoy is online now
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So I have been arguing with some people at another site about over population. We have all seen many films like Soylent Green,and many tv shows depicting over population. After doing some reaserch I feel that over population is not as big a problem as originally thought. With advancing technology and a declining birth rate I think the problem can be managed effectively. What are your thoughts on over population and do you agree with me or think I am wrong and being over simplistic in my opinions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TuHDLhfq2s
It is not necessarily catastrophic if that's what you mean. We probably won't be eating other people any time soon. Malthusian Crises do happen though they tend to be regional. We haven't seen anything that would tell us that we're screwed worldwide yet. We're not even close to max food production which is usually what precipitates a crisis. If Europe just decided to let in GMOs, productivity would gain substantially, so that's something very, very simple to do that would stave off any impending doom. Our big limiter is really energy. If we can find a way to go completely renewable, there's really no reason to think that we will reach peak population before we see population decline due to rising incomes. Water is obviously the other big concern, but if you solve energy, then water will follow. I'm not saying that there is zero reason to worry. Obviously, we're putting a lot of stress on the environment now and that's not good in either the long or short term, but we're a very long way from a true global Malthusian collapse and there's every reason to think that we'll see population peaking somewhere between 8 and 12 billion somewhere in our children's lifetime which is well within our capacity. Most of the world has already seen the start of their levelling bend (and some countries have hit it and are on the down side) and Africa is really the only hold-out. It seems reasonable that at some point they'll start to see that bend as well and then it's just waiting for the peak. Africa is really the only question mark and it's possible that they never bend and push us off the Malthusian edge, but I'm more inclined to think that even IF they don't, the Malthusian crisis will be limited just to Africa and leave the rest of humanity roughly unscathed, which is honestly(and unfortunately) pretty much the situation that we're in now.
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Old 08-16-2018, 11:44 AM
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Overpopulation is a problem partly for psychological and partly for physical reasons. There is some evidence that living in an artificial and overpopulated society can increase stress and anomie when an individual cannot find a meaningful role. Surplus humans have always been a problem and humanity as a whole has never really figured out how to guarantee that each person can make a meaningful contribution. But this is admittedly poorly explored and largely hypothetical.

Resource consumption and environmental damage are a much bigger problem. Countries can peak and flatten, or even decline, but collectively our destruction of places like the rainforest is very problematic. Even if we produce enough food and energy, we will still face obstacles such as lack of oil, loss of forestry, and limited access to clean water. Inevitably, humanity will have to revert to a lifestyle that has less consumption and less use of non renewable resources.
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Old 08-16-2018, 11:50 AM
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I think that it's a very big problem. We are over 7 billion now, and projections are for 10 billion or more some time past the half-way mark of this century. Not only does it produce a tremendous strain on resources, it also creates a whole lot more socio-political strain in the world. In addition, if the warming climate trend continues, and there is no logical reason to believe that it won't, coastal and island flooding will create a huge number of refugees seeking a livable environment. Approximately 60% of the world's population lives in coastal regions.
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Old 08-16-2018, 11:59 AM
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We have all seen many films like Soylent Green,and many tv shows depicting over population.
Soylent Green is a pretty old film. It seems like "peak overpopulation panic" set in in the 70s-80s. Now we can see where the trend is going to top out -- people stop having so many kids when they are assured that most of them will survive childhood.

I consider modern sci-fi where people are suffering from "overpopulation" akin to modern horror films where a group of six American teenagers all don't have cell phones. A necessary contrivance for the plot, but not realism.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:11 PM
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If you take the USA population and average it's population to see what each person has for food, housing, clothes, cars, power, health care products, just everything, you will find that as of right now, today, this minute, that if the whole world, every person just tried to make that for every person on the planet, that there is not enough raw material to do it.

And as long as there is those who have less and those who want more than that average, we will eventually end up killing each other over it.

The population will stabilize when the 'haves' decide & are mentally OK with & physically able to force the 'have nots' to not increase their population.

Humanity is not intrinsically good enough to not do this, or to self limit.

I am glad I am too old to see this happen but I think it will have to happen eventually.

It is really what wars are about. One group wants what the other has and will kill them to get it.

YMMV hopefully

Last edited by GusNSpot; 08-16-2018 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:20 PM
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Let's be sure we know exactly which question we're asking.

Question 1: Will it be possible for the Earth to support 11 billion humans (a current projection for 2100) for many tens of thousands of years into the future?

Answer: Perhaps, though even this is unclear. Biodiversity is being devastated; scarce resources are being drained; even oceans are being devastated. As poorer countries insist on an American diet, huge amounts of land and other resources will be needed to support the human population. Simple needs like clean drinking water are already problematic. Until fusion power is developed, all sources of energy will have severe drawbacks. New strains of bacteria and virus will target the over-populated cities.

The strains of over-crowding and destruction of natural habitat will degrade the human experience and perhaps lead to widespread neuroses. Expect political problems and civil wars.

But "optimists" think that man's cleverness will lead to ever-better technologies, and man will be able to muddle through. The oceans will become giant food factories.
Perhaps human population will go to 20 billion or even 30.

Question 2: Would the world be a better place, human life happier, and economic needs easier to fulfill if, somehow, human population were limited to just 1 or 2 billion?

Answer: Yes.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:35 PM
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It's a question of poverty. Poor areas will have a major problem with overpopulation; rich areas won't. For example previous posters mentioned land for agriculture. Well greenhouses and multi-story factory farming work fine for to grow food--and use a lot less land--it's just a lot more expensive. Or clean fresh water: you just need desalination plants and pipelines. Again money.
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:40 PM
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IMHO the overpopulation problem is overblown and misstated.

First, most of the first world (and second world) has reached zero population growth. Some of the more extreme, like Japan, are poised for population shrink.

There are a few areas, like Africa, Middle East and Indian subcontinent, where this may be an ongoing problem. But the rest of the world, there does not appear to be the potential to grow by billions of people - certainly not North America or Europe. This means that Africa would have to grow from 1.2 billion to 3 billion. That is where the effects of overpopulation would play out. It's already pushing the limit of what the land will support. China is close to levelling off in population. Even India seems to have stopped growing.

So population issues will be regional. Perhaps we are already seeing the effects, in the large number of people from sub-sahara Africa trying to make it to Europe. That flood will only get worse.

Explore here:
https://www.populationpyramid.net/ru...deration/2017/
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:59 PM
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Take Bangladesh. Used to have growth rates in the 5-7% range. Down to 1.05% now. That is remarkable. A lot of it has to do with improving the lives of women.

OTOH, it is still the most densely populated good sized country in the world with a ton of very poor people.

So there have been good signs here and there. The point where everything goes to crap has been pushed farther and farther off. OTOH, it's still there.

There's also no such thing as a regional population problem. It's all global now. No country is isolated from the effects of what happens on the other side of the globe.

While food is an obvious limit, the core issue has been and will always be reasonably priced energy. With said energy you can grow more food, mine metals that are harder to get at, etc. Many industrialized countries are doing quite well at exploiting better energy sources. But poor countries can't do that and their problems are spilling over to the rest of the world. Plus the US dragging its heels on moving into the 21st century isn't helping.

The real scary thing is global warming and how hard it's going to impair growing food in many parts of the world that are hurting already. Even with instant ZPG things are not going to go well.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:17 PM
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Better technology mitigates the effects of increased population, to a significant degree. This is mostly why there are so many more humans on the planet than there ever were of any of the other great apes. Eventually, it wouldn't be enough, but the question is what that maximum population is, and whether we'll actually reach that number. Current projections have the world reaching a maximum population that's not too much greater than it is now, so we'll probably make it.

Quote:
Quoth septimus:

Question 1: Will it be possible for the Earth to support 11 billion humans (a current projection for 2100) for many tens of thousands of years into the future?
Population is leveling off, but technology continues to improve. If we manage to make it as far as leveling off around 11 billion without catastrophe, then I'd be extremely surprised if we didn't manage to sustain that for millennia. Even if it was rough going at first, it'd just keep getting easier.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:26 PM
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Global Climate Change will cause overpopulation problems to get worse. Expect massive famine and disease. But it will still be relatively isolated and ignored by the world in general.
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Old 08-16-2018, 02:30 PM
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Take Bangladesh. Used to have growth rates in the 5-7% range. Down to 1.05% now. That is remarkable. A lot of it has to do with improving the lives of women.

OTOH, it is still the most densely populated good sized country in the world with a ton of very poor people.
It's also a country that's going to be devastated by climate change.

Just because we humans have managed to make it this far with this many people doesn't mean we can sustain things in the future. For instance, I've read descriptions of the vast schools of cod that were present in the North Atlantic. Those are all gone now. Similarly, we've reduced other ocean populations.
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Old 08-16-2018, 03:17 PM
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A key issue is how sustainable our food-producing technology is. Most of our technological solutions have been based on the consumption of finite resources. These technologies can produce a short-term increase in food production. This extra food leads to increased population. But when you run out of the resource that was necessary for the technology, the food production will revert to its original level. And you now have a much larger population that can't be fed by that original level of food production.

Some people just dismiss this problem. They figure that we invented new technologies in the past and that we'll just invent some newer technologies in the future as needed. But that's not really the case. Most technological developments have been based on seeing a large untapped resource and figuring out a way to use that resource. Which means that the resources we're using up were the ones which were available in the largest supply. Any theoretical new technology will be based around a resource which we have a smaller supply of. If we had a two hundred year supply of the old resource, we might only have a fifty year supply of the new resource.

This obviously doesn't solve the long term problem. It just postpones it for a few decades while making it worse.

And this is a best-case scenario. It assumes we still have new technologies to discover that won't work as well as the ones we have now but will provide some results. What if that isn't true? What if we're at the end of the new technology parade instead of the middle of it? It's possible that when we run out of the resources we used to feed the technologies we developed in the twentieth century, we'll just revert back to the technological level we had in the nineteenth century. Nobody promised us that we were going to get a bunch of new technologies in the twenty-first century.

Nineteenth century technology worked well enough in its time. But it was only called upon to support of population of around a billion people. We're now approaching eight billion people. If we revert back to nineteenth century technology, what's going to happen to those other seven billion people? I don't believe they're going to quietly disappear. Sure, if we have eight billion people in a world that can only feed one billion then eventually at least seven billion people are going to disappear - but I don't think the process will be quiet.
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Old 08-16-2018, 03:34 PM
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Don't rule out natural disasters.

It is god's way of culling the herd.
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Old 08-16-2018, 03:45 PM
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Don't rule out natural disasters.

It is god's way of culling the herd.
No natural disaster has had any real impact on global population levels since the 16th Century.
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Old 08-16-2018, 04:30 PM
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Let's move this to Great Debates.

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Old 08-16-2018, 08:40 PM
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When all coastal areas are underwater, you will see a devastating population problem. Current US policy is to strive to make it happen faster. I won't be around to see the result.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:12 AM
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When all coastal areas are underwater, you will see a devastating population problem. Current US policy is to strive to make it happen faster. I won't be around to see the result.
You won't be around, Hari, but you do have a recovery plan to leave behind, no?
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:29 AM
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A lot of population charts seem to assume that people will continue to live to a greater age than their parents and grandparents. My generation grew up in the 40s and 50s; in the UK at least we had food rationing which enforced a healthy diet and we are benefiting from that today. Elsewhere, our generation did not have computer games or TV so tended to occupy themselves with more healthy activities.

Today, we see a huge increase in obesity and heart problems, much of which is related to diet and stress. Medical science has kept the inevitable at bay, but there must be a point of diminishing returns where the average life expectancy begins to reduce.

Add this to the tendency for smaller families and lower fertility and you have a recipe for a different disaster - that of too many old and sick people with not enough young people to support them.
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Old 08-17-2018, 06:25 AM
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So population issues will be regional. Perhaps we are already seeing the effects, in the large number of people from sub-sahara Africa trying to make it to Europe. That flood will only get worse.
I don't see how a problem from one continent that has a marked effect on another could possibly still be characterised as "regional" just one sentence before.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:20 AM
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I don't have much time to type up a full response, but I heavily recommend this mini-documentary on it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMbvtmb79N0

The short version is overpopulation has always been linked to classist, and eugenicist ideals, ultimately stemming from Thomas Malthus' Essay on Population which had an incredibly flawed exponential model of population growth. However, people have been convinced the world was thiiiiiiis close to overpopulating dating back to Plato.

Last edited by Jragon; 08-17-2018 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 08-17-2018, 08:23 AM
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I don't see how a problem from one continent that has a marked effect on another could possibly still be characterised as "regional" just one sentence before.
I think you need to define what you mean by a dire problem. If you're a white supremacist, then overpopulation is definitely a 'dire problem.' If you're anti-religious, then yep, also a 'dire problem.' If you think that an African moving in next door is bad, then you're out of luck and it's indeed a 'dire problem.' If you're more concerned about your ability to feed your family and mass starvation and death, then overpopulation is heavily regional and only a 'dire problem' in a very small subset of the world - basically the places where it's a 'dire problem' right now.

All population shifts whether positive or negative have winners and losers. The losers over the next 100 years are white people, some of the Caribbean, developed East Asia and a few Latin American countries. The winners are predominantly Africa and the Middle East. Of course, how you define winner and loser is a subjective thing. The bottom line though is that the world in 100 years is going to be less white and less East Asian, more African, more Middle Eastern, more religious, possibly richer(but that's harder to predict.) Europe's population by 2100 is likely to be close to what it was in the 70s barring unforeseen massive immigration and its white population is likely going to be closer to what it was in the 20s. The US by 2100 is likely to be somewhere in the mid-400 millions (assuming very high rates of migration, if migration slows to a moderate level, we'll cap at around 400 million.) Half of that growth will be people over the age of 65. Most of the growth will be Hispanic and Asian immigrants. The US will not be even close to its agricultural carrying capacity.

We know the crises of the next 100 years. Water is our big one, especially in the West. It's not unsolvable, but it won't be cheap. We'll likely see migration away from the coasts, but the US is a big place with a lot of land and as we saw from Katrina, it's really not that hard to absorb climate migrants here. Especially if it's non-catastrophic migration. It's not like you wake up tomorrow and everyone's house is under water. The first houses to get hit will be owned by rich people anyway. The path of sea level rise is slow. We're already seeing it in the barrier islands. Most of the time it's fine and then you get a flood. Then a flood every few years and then it's flooding yearly and you get sick of it and move inland. There will likely be more and more civil unrest as we see the demographic turnover. The US is a bit better prepared than Europe for this since Hispanics share religious and in many ways cultural traditions with the US.

We know that Europe will likely hit its population max in the next decade, two at the most even including migrants. The US would hit its max by about 2030 if it weren't for migration and probably hit it somewhere in the early 2100s even with migration. China is going to hit their max probably somewhere around 2025-although their government is better able to muck with things, so who knows? India is projected to peak around 2070 or so. Once you've knocked India and China out of the running, really it's only Africa and the hyper-religious middle East that are keeping things going. If the Saudi's actually start giving women rights, who knows? That could spread and you could see a Middle Eastern collapse as well. Even Africa is seeing slowing growth rates. Bottom line is that it's not much ado about nothing, but it's not 'Soylent Green' either.
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:26 AM
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I don't see how a problem from one continent that has a marked effect on another could possibly still be characterised as "regional" just one sentence before.
You're seeing the "solution" already. Italy is getting fed up with the flood. So is Malta. How long before Spain and all of Europe starts turning away economic migrants? (Australia too already stops them from reaching the mainland if it can). How long before deporting economic migrants becomes standard? (As the USA is trying to do)

So sub-Sahara Africa sinks into a morass of starving overpopulation and cut-throat wars and the rest of the world sits back and keeps their walls up.

So it is regional - can Africa get its population growth down and economic growth up soon enough to avert disaster? Can the continent support twice as many people? The areas that can support agriculture already do so. Perhaps Zimbabwe can get its farming system working again in a way that is more socially equitable. (One story says white farm confiscation was more about giving party insiders nice payoffs, less about actually giving farms to he poor general population.) Will South Africa avoid the same farming mess Zimbabwe created?

Another issue is the rain - much of Africa has a monsoon season - up until now, water storage has not been a major part of African agriculture, but it may need to be so for a decent level of food production.

And then, as many allude to, there's climate change - existing food production may be devastated, let alone expansion. That's a whole more unpredictable problem.
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Old 08-17-2018, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by a dudes thought's View Post
So I have been arguing with some people at another site about over population. We have all seen many films like Soylent Green,and many tv shows depicting over population. After doing some reaserch I feel that over population is not as big a problem as originally thought. With advancing technology and a declining birth rate I think the problem can be managed effectively. What are your thoughts on over population and do you agree with me or think I am wrong and being over simplistic in my opinions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TuHDLhfq2s
Yeah, I think it's overblown. Basically, a lot of the current population increase is just inertia. In almost every case, especially those countries experiencing economic growth and increased prosperity it's only a matter of time before their populations essentially go on the same trend as Western Europe or Japan, with populations either right at replacement or below. The US is only positive because we have over a million immigrants a year. All that dire Soylant Green stuff is just Malthusian theory bullshit. The planet can fairly easily support the projected 10 billion, without even major agricultural changes...just efficiencies and perhaps getting the anti-science anti-GMO folks to shut up. A bigger issue is climate change and the effects of prosperity on the global system, but population alone? It's an issue, but not a huge one IMHO, and one that is kind of solving itself. As nations become prosperous and their people gain wealth and stability their populations will taper off and go flat or even start to retract.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:32 PM
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You're seeing the "solution" already. Italy is getting fed up with the flood. So is Malta. How long before Spain and all of Europe starts turning away economic migrants? (Australia too already stops them from reaching the mainland if it can). How long before deporting economic migrants becomes standard? (As the USA is trying to do)

So sub-Sahara Africa sinks into a morass of starving overpopulation and cut-throat wars and the rest of the world sits back and keeps their walls up.

So it is regional - can Africa get its population growth down and economic growth up soon enough to avert disaster? Can the continent support twice as many people? The areas that can support agriculture already do so. Perhaps Zimbabwe can get its farming system working again in a way that is more socially equitable. (One story says white farm confiscation was more about giving party insiders nice payoffs, less about actually giving farms to he poor general population.) Will South Africa avoid the same farming mess Zimbabwe created?

Another issue is the rain - much of Africa has a monsoon season - up until now, water storage has not been a major part of African agriculture, but it may need to be so for a decent level of food production.

And then, as many allude to, there's climate change - existing food production may be devastated, let alone expansion. That's a whole more unpredictable problem.
On Africa,

What I'm reading is China is going in, taking over African lands, farming them, then all the food goes to China. Other than the cronies they pay off very little goes to the African people.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:54 PM
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On Africa,

What I'm reading is China is going in, taking over African lands, farming them, then all the food goes to China. Other than the cronies they pay off very little goes to the African people.
I'd need to see a cite on that. What I've heard (well, read and seen discussed) is that China makes large loans to African countries to build infrastructure, then uses mainly Chinese labor to do the actual work, then snaffles up the properties when/if the country in question defaults. They are pushing in Africa, to be sure, because of the vast resources available there, and they certainly are using almost colonial tactics to get it.

Not sure what this stuff has to do with population growth. Africa, as a whole (obviously it's going to vary by country) is still on an upward population growth. In theory with a lot of Chinese investment this will position many African nations for better economic growth in the future...if the Chinese don't rip off the African nations too badly. It would obviously be better for those nations to have had their own people do the work instead of China bringing in it's own workers en masse to do it, but just the building of infrastructure SHOULD be a benefit that eventually will pay off. In theory.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:16 PM
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I think you need to define what you mean by a dire problem.
I would need to do that - if I'd used the word "dire" anywhere.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:19 PM
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I dont see it being too big of a problem since more people die of obesity and diseases related to diet than who die of malnutrition.

Plus why am I only getting $3 a bushel for my corn?
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:57 PM
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I dont see it being too big of a problem since more people die of obesity and diseases related to diet than who die of malnutrition.

Plus why am I only getting $3 a bushel for my corn?
I cannot compute $3 a bushel. Give me market prices, please.

Corn prices are controlled by the global market. More and more corn is being used to make high fructose corn syrup. Driving the price up. Making it difficult for the poor folks to buy corn for their diet.
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:12 PM
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Population is leveling off, but technology continues to improve. If we manage to make it as far as leveling off around 11 billion without catastrophe, then I'd be extremely surprised if we didn't manage to sustain that for millennia. Even if it was rough going at first, it'd just keep getting easier.
I think this ignores at least three classes of problems.

1. Scarce resources. The world's supply of easily accessed petroleum is diminishing. Uranium is diminishing; yes, breeder reactions can convert U238 to Plutonium, and maybe Plutonium reactors can produce some other kind of fuel, but there has to be an end to it -- otherwise you'd have a sort of perpetual motion machine. Helium is a useful gas which has already been squandered ... by party balloons! Rare-earth metals will need expensive recycling projects to recover.

Even some nominally "renewable" resources pose a severe threat. California's Central Valley undergoes an average net loss of well over 1 million acre-feet of groundwater per year. India's Ganges Basin is in much worse shape. Russia has big water problems. Agriculture is increasingly dominated by artificial fertilizers which are not renewable in any normal sense. A society which barely survives a century while resources deplete will have more trouble the next century. And these examples are all just off the top of my head this is hardly a field of knowledge for me.

Biological species may also become scarce. Bee colony collapse has never been fully explained, but even if bees recover this time, can we be sure no more serious problem will arise over the coming millennium? Or the millennium after that?

2. Waste accumulation. Disposal of nuclear waste will continue to grow as a problem. Aren't waste disposal sites finite? What about plastics? Man has already badly degraded the oceans, and wastes continue to accumulate. Can man solve these problems? Maybe. But for millions of years the world's ecology kept a careful, almost clever balance with one species' waste being another species' food. And that is not the mode in which a planet dominated by 11 billion humans will operate.

3. Bad luck. Technological man may survive for a century or three, developing new antibiotics as bacteria become resistant to the old ones; thinking of new non-renewable materials to make fertilizer from; housing cows in elevator silos to reduce land use; using jellyfish as food when oceanic support for vertebrate life fails; moving to Antarctica when required by climate change; and so on. But a reckless driver lucky not to have an accident in the past ten years might crash into a tree next week.

And all for what? In what sense is the world a better place with 11 billion people instead of 2 billion? To the contrary, it is the very people who are fans of an 11-billion population that proudly tout birth patterns that may avoid a 12-billion count. If 11-billion is better than 12, why not 10 billion? or 9?
  #32  
Old 08-17-2018, 04:47 PM
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Ironically, your first one is exactly what Malthusian theory is based on. It's what the gloom and doom stuff from the horrible whale oil crisis is based on as well. I'm not buying it. Will some resources become scarce? Sure. Oil is one of them, no doubt. But I don't see it as a show stopper unless the peak oil folks are right and the oil is just going to sudden stop flowing world wide. Uranium? I don't see that as a major issue either, especially since it's not like we are building a ton of new plants (or actually looking hard for more difficult to find reserves for that matter). Almost everything on your list is something we have alternatives too or, well, is so abundant in the broader solar system as to make our worries about it fairly laughable.

The second one is kind of funny too. True, there are real issues with plastics in the ocean and other environments, but if you are thinking of something like Wall-E it's not going to happen. Even nuclear waste is a pretty small thing, even if we ramped up our use of it which seems unlikely. Really, the main issue with waste disposal wrt nuclear waste in the US has more to do with politics and NIMBY thinking than space or engineering.

I honestly don't know what the point is of the last one. Why is 12 billion people 'better' than 2? Well, I don't know that they are, but off the top of my head you could say that with 12 billion people you have a lot more genus level intellects than with 2 if you go as a percentage of population. Interconnecting them as we've been doing means that you have more opportunity for them to come up with the next Apple...or the next cure for polio or whatever. I don't think it will be a major issue, regardless. Eventually, the population will stabilize, and I imagine it will be at fewer (on Earth anyway) than 11 or 12 billion or wherever it's currently predicted to finally start a downward trend. As the world becomes more affluent, something that is definitely happening, the population will peak and start a downward trend.

Well, until we start making space habitats all over the solar system, at which time we could have trillions.
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  #33  
Old 08-17-2018, 07:26 PM
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Yes. It was red alarm with Malthus. Then came Haber, then came logistics, computers, education, medicine, education again etc. It is down from orange to yellow now. Energy on the OTOH is not yet at red. There is your rabbit in that bush right now. And resources are ALL renewable, if time is not important.

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  #34  
Old 08-17-2018, 09:42 PM
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Yeah, I think it's overblown. Basically, a lot of the current population increase is just inertia. In almost every case, especially those countries experiencing economic growth and increased prosperity it's only a matter of time before their populations essentially go on the same trend as Western Europe or Japan, with populations either right at replacement or below. The US is only positive because we have over a million immigrants a year. All that dire Soylant Green stuff is just Malthusian theory bullshit. The planet can fairly easily support the projected 10 billion, without even major agricultural changes...just efficiencies and perhaps getting the anti-science anti-GMO folks to shut up. A bigger issue is climate change and the effects of prosperity on the global system, but population alone? It's an issue, but not a huge one IMHO, and one that is kind of solving itself. As nations become prosperous and their people gain wealth and stability their populations will taper off and go flat or even start to retract.
I feel this is missing a major issue which I mentioned above: sustainability. It's not just a question of "We can support a world population of eight billion, so will we be able to support a world population of nine billion?" The bigger question is "We can support a world population of eight billion in 2018, so will we be able to support a world population of eight billion in 2068?"

Because I think you'd agree that if the world is capable of supporting a population of eight billion in 2018 and only two billion in 2068, the intervening fifty years will be very bad.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:52 PM
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Will some resources become scarce? Sure. Oil is one of them, no doubt. But I don't see it as a show stopper unless the peak oil folks are right and the oil is just going to sudden stop flowing world wide.
That's an almost Trumpian mistating of what peak oil people are saying. What peak oil people are actually stating is that there is a finite amount of oil in the world and it will become increasingly difficult to maintain a constant level of oil production.

Peak oil deniers concede that the first fact is true; how can they deny it? But they then insist that it somehow doesn't matter. They act as if we will somehow always be able to produce the amount of oil we want. I don't understand that kind of cognitive dissonance; how can you produce an endless supply of oil from a finite amount of oil?
  #36  
Old 08-18-2018, 05:25 AM
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Oil shortage might be issue now and in near future, but problem somewhat deescalates if you can see the big picture here. Oil can be synthesized from practically anything. You just need a lot of energy. Heck, oil itself is in demand because it is (very handy) energy.

Basically, if you solved energy crisis, you solved oil crisis. And possibly avert eco crisis.

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  #37  
Old 08-18-2018, 09:04 AM
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Of course, if you "solve the energy crisis" (by which I assume you mean develop dramatically increased energy generation, storage, and transmission methods), the "oil crisis" becomes irrelevant.
  #38  
Old 08-18-2018, 10:37 AM
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My point exactly. And that mission is not impossible. Problem with oil is it is too damn handy for energent. It is like using alcohol to cope with anxiety. It is efficient, cheap, available practically everywhere and for anyone, but has some down sides and on a long run it will cripple you (it can act as a hard drug) if you don't find another solution.

And food shortage globally is not problem at least for some time now. There is still famine, I know, but this is political and logistical issue. Have enough energy and know how to make (grow or synthesize) food for 3x of current population (my educated guess). If we increase global population too much and too fast that could become more serious tho. Luckily, current predictions regarding global population do not go this way. Looks like it will stabilize somewhere at around 2x.
  #39  
Old 08-18-2018, 11:45 AM
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And food shortage globally is not problem at least for some time now. There is still famine, I know, but this is political and logistical issue. Have enough energy and know how to make (grow or synthesize) food for 3x of current population (my educated guess). If we increase global population too much and too fast that could become more serious tho. Luckily, current predictions regarding global population do not go this way. Looks like it will stabilize somewhere at around 2x.
Do you understand how we increased food production? The bottleneck was nitrogen. Plants need nitrogen in the soil to grow. But when plants grow, they consume the nitrogen. As the nitrogen gets consumed, the soil becomes infertile.

This used to be a major issue in agriculture. Restoring nitrogen to soil was a major problem and greatly reduced the amount of crops that could be raised.

Then about a hundred years ago, scientists figured out a way to artificially introduce nitrogen into soil. They developed ways of making fertilizer so farmers could keep raising crops over and over again on the same piece of land and just restoring its nitrogen every season. Artificial fertilization is why we produced four times as much food in 2000 as we did in 1900.

But where does that fertilizer come from? Fossil fuels. And other sources of energy won't replace them. You can't make fertilizer out of nuclear or solar power.
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Old 08-18-2018, 01:33 PM
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So I have been arguing with some people at another site about over population. We have all seen many films like Soylent Green,and many tv shows depicting over population. After doing some reaserch I feel that over population is not as big a problem as originally thought. With advancing technology and a declining birth rate I think the problem can be managed effectively. What are your thoughts on over population and do you agree with me or think I am wrong and being over simplistic in my opinions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TuHDLhfq2s
A huge problem down the road. We might not live to see it, but one day there will be too many people and too few resources.

There is only so much water to go around, and if a nation is food starved, you'll get war. The trouble these days is nations with food and water issues include say India, who has nuclear weapons.
  #41  
Old 08-18-2018, 03:06 PM
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The trouble these days is nations with food and water issues include say India, who has nuclear weapons.
What are you implying here? Sorry, I'm dense.
  #42  
Old 08-18-2018, 05:24 PM
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I assume the idea is that scarce resources lead to war; India, as an example, already has difficulty with food and water production and distribution, and if that gets worse, India might decide to go to war. And a nuclear power going to war might decide to use its nuclear weapons to desalinate water and grow wheat.

I lost the thread a bit, sorry.
  #43  
Old 08-18-2018, 05:29 PM
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Even at the present of 7.5 billion people, the only reason I think it isn't even worse right now, is because about half of the world's population gets by on a couple of bucks a day so are living a minimal existence. As nice as it would be for everyone to live a much better life, don't think the planet earth can stay healthy, it's already struggling and future generations are going to pay the price.

With limited natural resources, global warming, over 400 dead zones in our oceans, topsoil erosion rates, ground water levels running much lower, fresh uncontaminated water being harder to come by, linear economies, these are all serious issues and why I think even our present population on earth isn't sustainable for future generations if they want to maintain a fairly decent standard of living along with a healthy earth. So, other than that, not to worry.
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Old 08-18-2018, 06:31 PM
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Well, we can talk about zombie apocalypse, but I think at least some if not most of these problems might not be such a problem. 7,5B people are working to solve that. Have some optimism.

@Little Nemo. Fertilizer can be transmuted from water and thin air. That is why I cited Haber. You just need a lot of energy. Of course fossil fuels are much cheaper and handier for that. About 3-5% of world production of fossil fuels are used for that if I understand correctly (no proper cite, wiki says so - google for ammonia production). I might be missing some detail, but i do not think that scenario involving (sudden) lack of fossil fuels automatically means the end of the world. Should still be still be somewhat high on the radar. Yes. Higher than zombie apocalypse, for sure.
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Old 08-18-2018, 06:43 PM
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A huge problem down the road. We might not live to see it, but one day there will be too many people and too few resources.

There is only so much water to go around, and if a nation is food starved, you'll get war. The trouble these days is nations with food and water issues include say India, who has nuclear weapons.
Now be honest. When is the last time nations went to war over food and water? Do you honestly see some country like India pointing its nukes at a country with food, say Australia, and demanding food?

To be honest, I think many countries just encourage their hungry people to move or immigrate to a country where the food is.
  #46  
Old 08-18-2018, 06:44 PM
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The historical question is whether reproductive capacity will ever overwhelm productive capacity. I think time is proving that this won't be an issue. The real issue is whether humanity's environmental footprint will damage productive capacity so abruptly that it can no longer sustain the population. Given the effects of runaway carbon pollution, I would say yes, and suggest that humanity's best hope for long-term survival is a Pakistan/India nuclear exchange in the next decade.
  #47  
Old 08-18-2018, 07:23 PM
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Now be honest. When is the last time nations went to war over food and water? Do you honestly see some country like India pointing its nukes at a country with food, say Australia, and demanding food?

To be honest, I think many countries just encourage their hungry people to move or immigrate to a country where the food is.
A lot of the problem with Palestine and Israel is water rights. I'm not saying it's a guarantee, but it's possible that if Israel had the rain that Seattle gets that we'd have two states.
  #48  
Old 08-21-2018, 03:02 AM
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Let's be sure we know exactly which question we're asking.

Question 1: Will it be possible for the Earth to support 11 billion humans (a current projection for 2100) for many tens of thousands of years into the future?
Not just NO, but HELL NO
The earth can sustain 11 billion humans for about one century, followed by utter collapse. Even if we smart up and improve our ways a bit.
Trim that number to 5 billion, and with careful management it can last 5 centuries or so, tops.
Trim that number to 2 billion, and with very sensible management you can sustain for a long long time. You will still run into problems with the nonrenewables, such as mining depletion making some metals *very* uneconomical to extract. But between recycling and use of very low-grade ores we can hang on for a very long time, but it won't be an easy ride.


Yes, we are getting smarter all the time, developing new technologies to better manage the world to sustain us.
But there are two problems facing us:

First, virtually every solution we devise depends on ever-higher tech to work. If we lose that tech for whatever reason, we are in such a bad situation that we will not be able to recover from it. So we have one, and only one, try to do this right.

Second, we have already done an immense amount of damage, and this damage needs to not only be stopped, but reversed to get the earth into a state where it can sustain us longterm. That will be ludicrously expensive.
These are things like:
*the whole CO2 / global warming / climate change thing.
We have already exceeded the point where the situation is unsustainable. On land, the CO2 leads to some warming, more energetic weather, etc. Bothersome but survivable.
But at current levels of CO2, even if just maintained not increasing, we face ocean death by acidification in a few hundred years. As in 100% all complex life, in the ocean.
*groundwater depletion.
We have drained groundwater levels to the extent that in many,many regions farming is impossible without irrigation. Not merely reduced, but impossible. Replenishing this groundwater is... well, almost impossible in the short and medium term.
*Plastic in the oceans.
This is the scariest of all, because the impact will hit us not in hundreds of years, but is already starting now. Virtually all surface-feeding species are being affected and headed to some serious problems.
You want to turn the oceans into the world's breadbasket? Fine. But first you will have to find, extract and dispose of the mass of plastic that is well on the way to out-massing the fish in the ocean.
  #49  
Old 08-21-2018, 03:08 AM
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I dont see it being too big of a problem since more people die of obesity and diseases related to diet than who die of malnutrition.
In the US, true.

Worldwide?
VERY VERY FALSE
  #50  
Old 08-21-2018, 03:22 AM
Brayne Ded Brayne Ded is offline
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It's a question of poverty. Poor areas will have a major problem with overpopulation; rich areas won't. For example previous posters mentioned land for agriculture. Well greenhouses and multi-story factory farming work fine for to grow food--and use a lot less land--it's just a lot more expensive. Or clean fresh water: you just need desalination plants and pipelines. Again money.
Not just poverty, but also resources, and primarily energy. The Dutch and the Chinese are working on multi-story factory farming because they are short of space. In an urban setting, it can be cheaper than trucking in produce. Desalination is ridiculously expensive and requires a huge amount of energy, whatever method is used.
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