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Forced Responses: Jul 2018

Filed under: — group @ 1 July 2018

Open thread for climate policy and responses.

406 Responses to “Forced Responses: Jul 2018”

  1. 351

    Hank, #333–

    Thanks for the link, Hank. Coastal real estate is definitely at risk, and it seems that’s becoming a measurable ‘thing.’

    BTW, if anyone else has/had issues with the WaPo paywall, you can access the same article from NOLA:

    https://www.nola.com/expo/news/erry-2018/08/a5662e38738181/sea-level-rise-is-already-erod.html

    I shared that link to it.

  2. 352
    Hank Roberts says:

    for alan2102:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=carrying+capacity+overshoot

    https://www.google.com/search?q=catton+overshoot

    Your question has frequently been asked and as frequently answered. You can look it up.

  3. 353
    alan2102 says:

    338 nigelj 21 Aug 2018: “alan102 @328, I gather by MMT you mean modern monetary theory, so fiat money produced by governments.”

    Yes.

    nigel: “Our current system produces money by various mechanisms. Reserve banks, private banks, credit card companies. Remember this process is ultimately self limiting based on the fractional reserve, but is not without its problems either.”

    True. Nothing is without its problems. I am not an MMT fan-boy. I try to be a realist.

    nigel: “But can you trust governments not to produce too much money and cause inflation?”

    That’s the question that everyone asks because they’ve been conditioned by decades of neoliberal and Austrian (economic) thinking. But it might well be, probably is, the wrong question, or the question that pertains to the “last war” so to say. Fighting inflation may be fighting the last war. The new war is with massive technology-induced deflation, and we are at the very beginning of that hockey-stick. The case for massive (and possibly disastrous, unless adjustments are made) onrushing tech-induced deflation has been made by Kartik Gada, here: http://atom.singularity2050.com (spend some time with it).

    Snippet:
    “In response to technological deflation, the central banks of the world will have to create new money in perpetuity, increasing the stream at an exponentially rising rate much higher than is currently assumed…. Monetary expansion has to rise at a compounded rate of 16-24% a year, possibly higher, to offset technological deflation and keep the Wu-Xia Shadow Rate in step with the size of the deflationary force. Current patterns of monetary expansion and the absence of inflation already supply the data to support this conclusion.
    Since most government spending in the US and similarly advanced nations constitutes direct payments to individuals, these payments should be formalized into a Direct Universal Exponential Stipend (DUES) that is paid equally to all citizens, and is funded by this central bank monetary expansion”.

    That said, it is also true that MMT exponents are not blind to the risks of inflation. Inflation is well-recognized by MMT people as a constraint on money creation. It is no big deal, if inflation exceeds some target level, to simply back off. In other words, the “OMG! Hyperinflation!” objection is without merit.

    A different objection, one that I believe to have a great deal of merit, is that more-liberal money creation could easily exacerbate our environmental problems. We’re in a very tricky situation, where as I point out before (a few posts up thread) we have conflicting priorities. We should print more money and give it to poor people. We should not print more money and give it to already-rich people, stimulating luxus consumption with all that that implies. We don’t want to stimulate the general growth of the economy, as undirected monetary expansion might well do; but we DO want to stimulate the growth of certain environmentally mission-critical portions of the economy (e.g. renewables build-out), as well as social justice-related initiatives (e.g. massive public housing program, and expanded public assistance of all kinds for people in need), while at the same time undertaking the all-important progressive dismantling of the impossibly-expensive and environmentally-ruinous military-“security”-prison-industrial complex. We really need strong central planning and control, or “big government” if you will (cue Mr KIA to blanch), like China. Leaving it to the private sector and the “invisible hand” will result in much slower progress toward critical goals on multiple levels, and worse. We need to print a whole bunch more money, as Gada and the MMT’ers suggest, AND we need to use it a whole lot more wisely than we have in the past. This is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible for the U.S.

    I say we need big strong government, like China, and that we need to print more money, and that is true, BUT it assumes that our “leaders” have the character and morality — commitment to uplift of all of humanity — that the Chinese leaders have, which they don’t. This is a monstrous conundrum which causes me agony, and I do not have the answers. The U.S. is probably simply too morally retarded to do what is required of an advanced civilization of the 21st century, and to assume a role of authentic global leadership. Never before has such great opportunity been pissed-away.

    In a very real way, we as a collectivity do not deserve MMT, i.e. more money; we would only abuse it, just as we have abused our great wealth for generations. I have strongly mixed feelings about MMT in the U.S. But in China: different story altogether.

    Above, I lamented that people have been “conditioned [brainwashed] by decades of neoliberal and Austrian (economic) thinking” to be afraid of “inflationary” money-printing. In the same way, and by the same forces, people have been conditioned (brainwashed) to hate and fear “big goobermint”. Superficially, this is bad. But maybe, at the end of the day, it is good, since much if not most of what our big goobermint does is clearly bad, and most of the uses to which we would put extra money would also be bad. The opposite situation prevails in China — the nation which, however imperfect, increasingly appears to be the hope of the world.

  4. 354
    Al Bundy says:

    Alan: When you speak of “what the planet can support”, what do you mean?

    AB: I base it on what folks in advanced economies generally want for their grandchildren, which is freedom to grow as they see fit while having no economic troubles, and most likely an affluence equal or greater than the upper middle class of today. Lots of air travel. Big yards or big parks. The Good Life. Extend that to the entire world. I took a stab without doing calculations. That’s why my spread was so large.

    ————
    On high capital costs of renewables:

    Kevin: that sophistication is increasingly easy to amortize.)

    AB: Yes, I should have said, “manufacture, land or right of way purchase, and installation”. And yes, when the economics are there, borrowing becomes easier.

    —–

    Hank,

    Thanks for the tip. Less effort and better for the planet. It’s now on my get-around-to-it list.

  5. 355
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M on Unforced Variations: the world spends probably ~$1,800 billion yearly on defense (of which 35% is American expenditure). Personally, I think that diverting less than 20% of that for the humanitarian purposes proposed would probably do more for international security than all the tanks, bombs and strategists we’re buying now.

    AB: Take out that “probably” and you’ve got my vote!

    —–

    Victor on Unforced Variations spoke of Africa.

    AB: Africa has two separate energy “areas”: those on the grid and those who aren’t. Those on a grid face all the same issues as everywhere else when it comes to reducing GHGs. Of course, a lack of financial clout makes everything harder.

    As for those off the grid, three technologies are critically needed: first is a functional and cheap stove. Solar stoves work well. The first attempts at efficient solid-fuel stoves pretty much failed. Second is lighting. Here, the competition is kerosene lamps and the economics is irrefutable: a solar panel and LED lights are far and away cheaper than lamps. Plus, they’re carbon neutral after installation and they don’t kill the user. The third problem is electronics charging. Traditionally, one would have to travel to an electrical source. The same solar panel that solved problem #2 solves this one too.

    Expanding the grid should generally be done when the grid is modernized. Until then, build islands of renewable power that can be tied into the grid when the grid arrives.

  6. 356
    Killian says:

    Re #336 nigelj spittled Killian @331, your comments largely ignore what I said, and go off on some tangent

    I answered you in detail, directly, accurately and clearly. You are duller than a rock.

    and are full of numerous contradictions

    You are NOT a permaculture practitioner. Stop pretending you know more than the people who actually know the process, you arrogant little chihuahaua.

    and personal abuse.

    Just getting started…

    Just one. Permaculture is just a process apparently and agnostic about technology, but permaculture weekly or whatever its called lists technology. You see no contradiction. Dear god…

    The problem is that you do. Again, “APPROPRIATE GODDAMNED TECHNOLOGY.” That does not mean pursue technology, seek out technology, or start with technology. No, you idiot, it is said within the context of **natural solutions BEFORE technical solutions.**

    I dont recall this technology ‘bridge idea’ from your past comments months ago.

    I don’t give a damn. You’re an ignorant waste of space.

    It was certainly not explained in any detail.

    1. Bullshit. 2. USE YOUR DAMNED COMPUTER FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN SELF-GRATIFICATION.

    I have posted some comments on it above for you to get agitated about. Sounds crazy to me. You were almost making sense until you got to this concept.

    This dumbass thinks I made up the concept of bridge technology… And considers it insane. What a fool.

    Re #337 nigelj said Killian @325, embedded energy is a measure of the energy content of a product, not some mysterious form of “free energy”.

    What the flying frick are you talking about, you empty-headed fool?

    People just arent going to live in thatched beehive shaped houses of ancient indigenous peoples unless forced at the point of a gun, or driven by some earthquake or something. For gods sake think a bit more practically.

    Liar. Disguting, addle-brained fool.

    Like I said. Smaller homes using a mix of modern materials and perhaps more use of mud bricks etc. That’s possible.

    You have no idea what is possible. You have no idea how absolutely stupidly maladaptive it is to proscribe to people how to solve their problems where they are.

    Don’t lie about what I say again.

  7. 357
    Killian says:

    Re #339 nigelj spittled Yes, and this is why I have felt the best scheme is carbon tax and dividend

    I supported this before you even knew what it was. Still do as a bridge. It is nto a solution. You have no idea what those three sentences mean, I realize.

    Killian thinks simplicity. Oh if only it was that simple….

    Your ignorance may well kill you and ours in the end. My door will not be open.

  8. 358
    Al Bundy says:

    Looks like the anti-federal-spending folks have (yet again) found that as long as the spending is going towards protecting the means of planetary destruction cost is no object. Of course, that means triage, which means that people will be left unprotected. One can only build so many sea walls, and refineries are more important than humans. Maybe they can be protected later…

    “Texas is seeking at least $12 billion for the full coastal spine, with nearly all of it coming from public funds. Last month, the government fast-tracked an initial $3.9 billion for three separate, smaller storm barrier projects that would specifically protect oil facilities.”

    https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/08/22/big-oil-asks-government-to-protect-it-from-climate-change

    Of course, the oil companies aren’t going to have to pay a dime to protect the facilities that they themselves are putting at risk! I’ve never met a Republican who believes that “Personal Responsibility” applies to capitalists.

  9. 359
    Killian says:

    Re #347 nigelj spittled Killian, you wonder why I say permaculture design principles seem good, “as far as they go” and you then accuse me of being wrong and ignorant about permaculture.

    It’s not an accusation. This is fact.

    Permaculture on wikipedia states 12 permaculture design principles.

    There are up to 14, depending on whether you consider some things principles or, and they can be stated as being either mollisonian or Holgrenian.

    You’re too goddamned ignroant to discuss this with.

    They are really a quality assurance check that what we are doing is really necessary.

    First Principles are quality assurance? Just. Stop. Speaking. Your. Ignorance.

    They just state obvious things that are largely commonsense and are old ideas

    In some way true, but not as you mean it. As you will prove below.

    and have been applied to many fields of endeavour already including even the traditional industrial economy.

    Stupid. The industrial economoy wouldn’t exist if they had been.

    I will comment just on a couple that seem undeveloped:

    Really, you need to be smacked in the head with smart stick to get some sense in your rock head, you arrogant, empty-headed putz.

    The fifth principle :”Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.”

    This is well meaning but very limited really. Renewable and non renewable resources are just not very interchangeable.

    It did not say interchangeable, it said make best use of. You do not even begin to get near what it means because you are non-holistically, pulling parts out of a whole and screwing it up to score petty little points on a forum apparently dedicated to your stupidity.

    Perhaps this will help those reading this, though it is certain it will not help you:

    Using biological resources

    Permaculture promotes the use of biological resources as a replacement for fossil-fuel based systems. Long term, biological resources can be a long term investment, enabling sustainability for the land.

    An example of biological resources – “Animal Tractor – chickens and pigs are well-known for scratching and digging up the ground in search of worms, insects and roots.” Mollison and Slay.

    Using fossil-fueled resources may be ok for the short term, as long as the long term agenda is to create a sustainable system dependent on biological resources.

    Just. Stop. Talking.

  10. 360
    nigelj says:

    alan 2102 @350.

    I agree the planet is indeed supporting 7 billion currently, but it is using up mineral resources at a rapid rate, and causing serious levels of pollution. According to the following report we are using one and a half earths worth of resources each year:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1320419/Humans-using-half-planets-worth-resources-need-Earths-2030.html

    Future generations will be left with a depleted stockpile of materials leading to rationing of technology. Recycling will help, but all recycling processes have some losses and waste, and they cannot do much about a fundamentally depleted stockpile of materials.

    The obvious solution is smaller population, because less pressure is put on the remaining resources. The sooner this happens the easier it will be for everyone. It will be less painful to reduce population size deliberately, than wait for serious shortages to develop which will force the issue on humanity in painful ways. Of course I’m suggesting promotion of smaller family size, so gentle policies. I totally rule out anything draconian or forced.

    The basis for my estimate that an appropriate population size of 2 billion is a guesstimate based on a number that makes a substantial reduction in resource use, but still large enough to maintain, economies of scale, sufficient competition, workable global trade, and resilience against unexpected problems. I once googled the issue, but I couldn’t find research on the issue. A smaller number than 2 billion may be feasible.

    The goal is to extend the life of a technology based culture of some reasonable level as long as possible. At the very least population growth simply has to slow right down and stop.

    I think economic growth has to slow as well, otherwise it cancels the effects of smaller population. But thats another subject.

  11. 361
    nigelj says:

    Mal Adapted @343, well spotted! Killian and “Carrie” certainly fit a certain “personality profile” also applicable to a certain President.

  12. 362
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @348 Killian, scrolling, etc. Good advice. I will try to follow it.

    I know I criticise and sometimes nit pick almost anything, and its probably because I did a couple of years as a quality assurance manager.

    And seriously, have you grasped that Killians really on about? He WANTS us to be primives because ANY use of metals (and other minerals) is unsustainable in his view. Metals must be left in the ground and never used.

    His technology backbone / bridge is just a temporary thing for a few years to ease the transition to being a primitive. It’s insane stuff and I make no apologies for calling it out for what it is.

    Of course obviously per capita use of resources has to fall.

  13. 363
    Carrie says:

    Niglej, given you’re close to Australia wondering what your thoughts are for the future of the new Paris/UNFCCC agreements out to 2030 are when the current Govt and PM of a top 10 GDP economy and a major FF exporter/user has recently been overtaken by a band of right wing climate change denying Parliamentary extremists. Given they have this week been able to scuttle the Govts long term planned National Energy Guarantee program to manage the electricity markets to reduce end user charges, ensure reliability and achieve major GHG emission reductions over time. Apparently the current Australian Govt has this week abandoned national emissions targets completely. Apparently the leader of the Greens has just accused the current govt turning Australia into the Climate change denying capital of the world. Will NZ follow this lead and vote back it’s former agw/cc denying govt at the next election? Could this push led by Trump’s agw/cc denying America, and Canada’s ongoing FF / Tar Sands Oil exports, and agw/cc denying Russia another major FF exporter, and the current Australian govt being taken over with RW Fascist neanderthals lead to the white anting and eventual collapse of the UNFCCC system? Will we even get to see another IPCC report in 2021/2022 given neoliberals success in these and many other nations, including eastern Europe and the Middle East region? How do see the future unfolding Nigel?

  14. 364
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy,

    Yes AI looks like it will replace huge numbers of white collar jobs, but I just don’t see millions of robots walking around cutting peoples hair, digging drains etc. The planet probably doesn’t have enough of the specialist metals required even with say zero population growth.

    So we could end up with a lot of people looking for a limited number of labour intensive services jobs. The result is the services sector could grow in economic output, but not in wages, and there will be unemployment.

  15. 365
    alan2102 says:

    352 Hank Roberts 22 Aug 2018:

    Hank, I am far past googling for “carrying capacity” and “overshoot”. I have been studying these topics for decades. Dictionary definitions of those terms tell me precisely nothing about what the planet is capable of supporting, because the definitions are contingent on assumptions — usually sweeping assumptions that are seldom stated, in my experience, and are rarely critically discussed and documented. That is the problem. (There are exceptions, e.g. Joel Cohen’s fantastic book; have you read it?)

    You say “you can look it up”, as though it were a matter of looking up a simple fact. It is not. “Carrying capacity”, if it means anything like it is purported to mean, is difficult and complex. It is also highly dynamic, changing by the decade and even by the year, as technology changes. And it may not mean anything like it is purported to mean. Remember that it is to begin with a rather dated (and possibly outmoded) concept from ecology that may not be translatable at all to the situation with respect to humans vis-a-vis resources, in part because of humans’ singularly great creativity and cleverness.

    As for Catton: funny, but I just recently (last week) re-read his book, and I was less impressed than ever. It is a very bad book. I actually had to quit before finishing, it is so bad. Part of the problem is that it is a profoundly ignorant book, and that is not entirely the author’s fault; he published it in 1980, based on literature published mostly in the 60s and 70s, (see his references), hence it was based on facts now over a half-century old. But that was when hard facts entered the picture at all, which was not often. Most of his citations are to the literature of sociology (he was a sociologist), cultural history, anthropology, etc. — largely irrelevant to a serious inquiry into carrying capacity. His discussions and examples appear foolish and even laughable, today, in light of developments over the last several decades in energy, materials science, agriculture, etc. It crossed my mind to write a detailed review and deconstruction, but then I thought: why bother? The time would be better spent on other things. His book has only a cult following in the echo-chambers of a dwindling band of none-too-informed and non-critical Malthusian hardliners and doom-peddlers, most of whom will soon be dead — like our departed Edward Greisch — and hence the book will soon be forgotten entirely. A good thing. (I mean, the book being forgotten will be a good thing, not people dying! May God bless Edward Greisch’s soul.)

  16. 366
    nigelj says:

    Alan 2102 @353

    Yes I agree the world is currently mostly in a sort of deflationary period ( I would say mildly so), climate change is a huge problem, and inequality and poverty are problems. Any sane person wants financial investment to go into genuinely useful things, not speculative bubbles.

    The question is how to fix this? So here are a few things:

    I admire Chinas economy and strong leadership, but dictatorships often go wrong, and their human rights record is terrible, and censorship is huge, and the only way they can keep calls for democracy at bay. So I have mixed feelings about China.

    I think the problem in America and other countries is grid lock politics, partisan politics has become a war zone, and politicians are captive to lobby groups, money and campaign donors. This is a tough set of issues to resolve, but a cap on campaign spending and donations would help. I would also consider the STV voting system.

    The small government fanatics and the Austrian school are barking mad, but old school socialists like Jeremy Corbyn are far to the other extreme. I favour medium size government. I think Scandinavia gets a lot of things right. I admit I tend towards the “middle way” philosophy, even with its difficulties.

    So I don’t question government printing of money on ideological grounds, it’s more a case of the risk they will use it to inflate the economy in election years to make things look good, and generally do stupid stuff.

    I don’t rule out or rubbish MMT. I’m just not 100% convinced. In fact in my country the Reserve Bank was empowered to print money in the 1930s to build infrastructure and it worked, but only because there was huge deflation already, so little risk of inflation and they were in a deep depression. Things are not quite the same now.

    Governments can do other things to ensure money goes in the right direction towards genuinely productive enterprise. For example capital gains taxes on property and other assets to discourage speculation, and subsidies. Most of these are currently too weak to really work.

    Ironically a carbon tax would help reinflate the economy, without needing to address money printing!

    Cheers.

  17. 367
    Carrie says:

    334 nigelj, so now you blame me for the volume settings on own computer speakers too? You’re too weird. So go ahead and sue me but you won’t get anything out of me excepted maybe my thatched beehive shaped house. :-P

  18. 368
    Carrie says:

    347 nigelj, 21 Aug, “Carrie, why are you being mocking and sarcastic? I was agreeing with you.”

    Sorry, I’ll bite my tongue from now on. I am being very unfair on you, I apologize and will not do it again (please try and ignore recent posts before this one too).

  19. 369
    zebra says:

    #354 Al Bundy,

    Al, a couple of points:

    1. As you reduce the population, resource consumption per capita goes down as well, so the benefit is non-linear. I use the number 300 million for a stable global population, just to have a number with which to examine possibilities.

    On that basis, for example, the US would be about 30 million. Think about what the rational economic choices would be in that case. Everyone could live in California, or everyone could live in the NE Corridor… and, given everything we know, some version is how it would end up– the population would concentrate in some optimal location(s).

    That eliminates lots of very inefficient transportation, and it eliminates marginal farmland, and it eliminates extracting FF for inappropriate uses, and it promotes more durable infrastructure, and so on. I’ve discussed some of these points in detail in the past, but I’m pretty sure you can see how this works for yourself.

    2. In such a different paradigm, we don’t really know what “everyone” would want. Some people like living in cities, some in suburbs, some in more rural environments. Some like big houses, some don’t want to be bothered with the upkeep. We can’t be sure exactly how society and economics would be organized, but we can be pretty sure that it would be different from what we have now.

    Those two points would be how I would further expand and explore your answer to alan. I have set two criteria for the “correct” minimum number, FWIW:

    -Enough to maintain existing genetic diversity.
    -Enough to maintain specialization, meaning scientific research, technological development, art and music, and so on.

    These numbers could change with advances in AI and Genetics, of course.

  20. 370
    alan2102 says:

    366 nigelj 23 Aug 2018:
    “Chinas … human rights record is terrible”

    Why do you say that? Yes, I know there have been human rights abuses, but not generally what I would call “terrible”, and not as bad as, say, the U.S.’s. I want to know why you chose that word.

    I ask this because there has been a huge volume of outright lies published in the Western media about China, not least about their human rights record; e.g. the Tiananmen incident, which as it turns out was rubbish. Sometimes it takes decades for the truth to come out, illustrating the old adage: “a lie can travel around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”.

    http://www.unz.com/article/tiananmen-square-1989-revisited/
    Tiananmen Square, 1989 — Revisited
    GODFREE ROBERTS MAY 30, 2018
    […snip…]
    “the Tiananmen incident ranks among the most successful propaganda campaigns in history. Long after the massacre story was disproved, foreign journalists – all of whom had left the Square – told readers that students had been demanding Western values in the face of ‘Red Chinese totalitarianism’. Their fabricated massacre gave the West an excuse to embargo China yet again, and to label it an international human rights pariah.”

    I might add that the “OMG! Human rights abuses!” reaction to China is like the “OMG! Hyperinflation!” reaction to MMT, and many other things of similar nature. These are calculated “objections” designed to introduce FUD into the minds of under-informed people, and steer them away from the things most vitally important for global progress.

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” — H L Mencken

    nigel: “The small government fanatics and the Austrian school are barking mad, but old school socialists like Jeremy Corbyn are far to the other extreme.”

    Corbyn is extreme?! He is moderate. Tepid. A centrist social democrat, like Bernie Sanders. Certainly not left. Here again, right-wing Western propaganda (“OMG! Extreme leftists!” — in reference to moderate centrists) cultivates fear and reaction to the very tendencies that might steer us toward sanity and salvation.

  21. 371
    alan2102 says:

    306 alan2102 18 Aug 2018:
    “292 zebra 16 Aug 2018: “And yet, when I present an opportunity to do just that, there is deafening silence. People constantly ask Killian to be more specific and concrete, but when I am specific and concrete….? Why is that, do you think?””
    …….
    alan: “What specific and concrete suggestion are you referring to? Please do not make us guess what you mean. Please provide a link to the post that describes what you have in mind. Thank you.”

    Still waiting for a reply from zebra, but so far only deafening silence.

    Z, you there, buddy?

  22. 372
    Mal Adapted says:

    On the question “What is to be done?”, this Nature Climate Change article from 2014, Managing the climate commons at the nexus of ecology, behaviour and economics, is highly apropos. Abstract:

    Sustainably managing coupled ecological–economic systems requires not only an understanding of the environmental factors that affect them, but also knowledge of the interactions and feedback cycles that operate between resource dynamics and activities attributable to human intervention. The socioeconomic dynamics, in turn, call for an investigation of the behavioural drivers behind human action. We argue that a multidisciplinary approach is needed in order to tackle the increasingly pressing and intertwined environmental challenges faced by modern societies. Academic contributions to climate change policy have been constrained by methodological and terminological differences, so we discuss how programmes aimed at cross-disciplinary education and involvement in governance may help to unlock scholars’ potential to propose new solutions.

    That link is paywalled, but there’s a free PDF here. BTW, do you all know about unpaywall?

    It isn’t novel to most of you that mitigating the threat posed by AGW to global society will demand a synthesis of knowledge beyond climate physics. One more time, just in case: economists and and other behavioral scientists may not know everything, but they know more than nothing.

  23. 373
    Killian says:

    Re #365 Hank, I am far past googling for “carrying capacity” and “overshoot”. I have been studying these topics for decades.

    Really? But then you say

    You say “you can look it up”, as though it were a matter of looking up a simple fact. It is not. “Carrying capacity”, if it means anything like it is purported to mean, is difficult and complex. It is also highly dynamic, changing by the decade and even by the year, as technology changes. And it may not mean anything like it is purported to mean.

    Huh. Wonder how aboriginal people live on the same land for millennia… They must have amazing laboratories, extreme hi-tech and loads of scholars sorting it all out.

    Or, maybe it’s not all that complicated.

    Also, interesting that you seem to imply technology increases carrying capacity given it has, in fact, brought us to the brink of destroying all carrying capacity. If you, indeed, mean tech enhances carrying capacity – you certainly could be taking an agnostic view that it affects it in both directions – could you rectify history with that optimism?

    If you didn’t, never mind!

  24. 374
    Killian says:

    Is one a climate change denialist if one promotes the causes of climate change?

    Yes.

    This forum is a space for denialists, apparently. Every post outside of a few by Strough, Carrie, myself, et al., is some paean or praise or intellectual cluster flock on utterly unsustainable issues that reflect the desire to maintain planet-killing systems.

    Sustainable is simple: You can use the set of resources available indefinitely. No matter how small you make the population, if you violate this, all you are doing is shifting the time line. Population size ultimately matters *only* if that population lives sustainably. If not, they will one day run out of critical resources.

    One must recognize this, and do so without outright lying or bullshit personal biases. It is what it is. It is OK to praise consumption if you are honest about it. At least then others know to turn the channel when you bloviate. It is OK to want to keep what is, which is what every comment on economics is, just a desperate scratching and clawing to keep the world you know, so long as you are honest about it. Don’t pretend you are interested in arresting climate change nad protecting or even regenerating the environment if you openly dismiss the unsustainable nature of all economic systems as currently practiced. MMT? Donut Economies? If you aren’t able to reconcile these with the principles of Natural design, and you aren’t, at least be honest about it. Admit you have no interest in sustainable living if you have to live fundamentally differently and that your stance is, in fact:

    I will consume, pretend I am interested in a stable ecology, until someone comes up with a magical way to suck up whatever I want without using up resources.

    Sorry, there are no never-ending gobstoppers.

  25. 375
    nigelj says:

    Carrie @363, Australian politics seems to have gone crazy in the last few days. So many changes in leader in just a few years.

    I think the developments you outline in western countries that should know better are all very unfortunate, particularly the comment about fascist neanderthals, and they make things like the Paris accord more difficult. On the other hand China is showing some sense.

    But what is your point? Give up in defeat? I get a big sense of doom sometimes, but I prefer a little bit of optimism for my sanity! Or whats left of it.

    If you give into the gloom and the fascists, then obviously they will prevail.

  26. 376
    nigelj says:

    “Everyone could live in California, or everyone could live in the NE Corridor… and, given everything we know, some version is how it would end up– the population would concentrate in some optimal location(s).”

    California has earthquakes. Not the best example. No matter how attractive one location would be, living in one location is never a good idea.

    You are also guessing about population concentrating like that. Look at history and people tend to spread out all over the place, even when overall population size is quite small.

    I’m not sure smaller population in the future would be that much different, other than to say cities will be dominant, but I just dont see one big city. People are perverse and may prefer to spread out into several large centres because people are tribal. This is not logical, but it reflects emotions and human nature. Of course obviously there would not be dozens of really small cities.

    But it’s still going to be more sustainable than the present, thats for sure. Not knocking the general idea.

  27. 377
    nigelj says:

    Killian @359, so out of your approximately 800 words, 90% is abuse and empty rhetorical denials.

    Your only salient point appears to be this. You talk about chickens scratching in the ground as if its equivalent to a tractor and plough, or combine harvestor (no offence to chickens). My response is it would take a million chickens to do the same thing as one tractor, and is only one example of one issue.

    The problem is there just aren’t many sustainable eqauivalents to the use of metals and things like petrochemicals that come close enough to be useful. Seriously for example herbal medicine is no replacement for modern drugs. And don’t get me wrong, herbal medicine does have some value, and I use Valerian for insomnia sometimes.

    And if you promote some bridge concept, kindly define what you mean, or provide a link.

  28. 378
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @355, the amount of money spent on the military is a disgrace and total waste. S Arabia is one of the worst offenders, proportionally.

    Do you or anyone else have any ideas why solar power is slow to catch on in africa? Im talking about decentralised use in rural communities to charge a phone or for a few lights. The costs appear competitive so it’s a mystery.

    Could it be the governments don’t want energy independence? Perhaps they like large centralised projects to make them look important. Or do the people lack the technical skills and education?

  29. 379
    alan2102 says:

    354 Al Bundy 22 Aug 2018: “I base it on what folks in advanced economies generally want for their grandchildren, which is … affluence equal or greater than the upper middle class of today.”

    OK, I get it. Nothing to do with carrying capacity and reasonable standards of living for all, and nothing to do with levels of affluence required for happy and fulfilled lives for normal human beings. Just a statement that the earth cannot support 7 billion extremely rich, spoiled and profligate people, at least at this time, and for a very long time, possibly forever. True enough. I agree. And probably a good thing, at that!

    What threw me off was the phrase (from your original post) “in the fashion that folks desire”. When I saw the word “folks”, I thought of ordinary human beings, not a tiny minority of extremely rich people — the 0.1%. Ordinary human beings not mind-raped by Western advertising and Western culture are plenty happy and fulfilled on a small fraction of the income of the 0.1%ers of the overdeveloped world. They surely have no need for “an affluence equal or greater than the upper middle class of today” with “lots of air travel” etc. etc. (quoting your words) — nor does anyone need all that crap to live a good life.

    In fact, when you view the information below in context with facts pertaining to vast prevalence of depression and other crippling mental disorders in overdeveloped countries (even among the middle and upper classes, the .01%), ordinary humans may be a good deal happier. Happiness and general satisfaction with life appear to be maxed-out in the neighborhood of the current global GDP per capita of ~$12,000 (forgive me if my links are bad; they are 10-15 years old):

    http://www.newscientist.com/channel/being-human/mg19926714.100
    Why the world is a happier place
    27 August 2008
    “people around the globe are happier today on average than they were 25 years ago. The secret seems to be a combination of rising economic prosperity, democracy and social liberalisation….. The WVS team’s analysis shows that economic growth only boosts happiness noticeably in countries with per-capita GDP less than $12,000.”

    further:

    http://www.commondreams.org/views/052800-105.htm
    Sunday, May 28, 2000
    The Loss of Happiness in Market Democracies
    “In one American study conducted in 1993, level of income was shown to have an inverse relation to happiness: The group whose income had declined was on the whole happier than the group whose income had increased. A soon-to-be-published review of the hundreds of studies on this subject corroborates the 1993 findings. In advanced countries, the correlation between income and happiness is close to zero and sometimes negative (the richer, the unhappier!). With a correlation between level of income and happiness somewhere between 0.12 and 0.18, the United States is near the bottom of the list …. once a person has achieved a minimal standard of living, level of income has almost nothing to do with happiness.”

    AND, funny thing, but the demographic transition also happens at very low income levels, actually a good deal lower than current global GDP per capita. We as a specie are already plenty rich enough to both control our numbers AND be happy; no need for more riches. Everyone needs a certain (low) level of income or wealth to live a decent, becoming, happy life, but it is neither necessary, nor possible, nor desirable, to make everyone rich like upper-middle Americans.

    PS: regarding the 0.1%, see: http://www.globalrichlist.com — income of $100,000 puts you in the global 0.08%.

  30. 380
    alan2102 says:

    369 zebra 23 Aug 2018: “As you reduce the population, resource consumption per capita goes down as well”

    Really? Why is that?

  31. 381
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @370
    Thank’s for the article on Tiananmen Square. It’s very long so I haven’t had time to read it yet, but I definitely will read it.

    I accept theres western propoganda trying to discredit China, but it’s still fairly clear to me theres imprisonment of political dissidents in pretty inumane looking jails, and pretty ruthless punishments, and there’s considerable government censorship. Of course these are all features typical of autocracies. China has good gdp growth, but this is not uncommon in developing countries and will slow down as their markets saturate.

    Then you have America, with its awful, inhumane jails. America doesn’t censor material anything like the scale of China, but where I rate America badly is things like Guantanomo Bay and Americas hypocritical and predatory foreign policy.

    So neither country is perfect.

    To me its more about systems of government. I’m not particulary comfortable with dictatorships and highly authoritarian rulers, even if the are benevolent dictators. And what if they arent so benevolent?

    I would categorise Bernie Sanders as mildly centre left by my countries standards and quite a good man and very bright. Jeremy Corbyn seems less competent and harder left. Granted neither are as hard left as someone like Castro or Chavez.

    Yeah a lot of despicable right wing propoganda tries to discredit these people. They claim that anyone not hard right is hard left!

    Finally I dont mind big government within reason, but there have to be ways to ensuring it operates well, and is held to account. In NZ we have moderately big government spending on health and education etc, and law that requires governments to keep debt low and run surpluses, and this has worked quite well. Government debt is only about 20% of gdp.

    We also have an emerging consensus between the political parties on climate change policy. Its not there yet but its better than the total mess in America.

    I hope you read my post above at 360 on smaller population.

  32. 382
    nigelj says:

    Killian @374

    Ok the later part of those comments makes sense, however the fact remains that we will eventually use up mineral resources completely whatever we do, unless we use none of them at all, so we only have the possibilities conservation and rationing.

    My view is moderate rationing of resources to maintain a reasonable level of technology for civilisation for as long as possible, while your view is clearly and indisputably much more severe rationing of resources and very low tech. I value quality of life enhanced by technology, above quantity of life and this is obviously where we differ most.

  33. 383
    Carrie says:

    372 Mal Adapted I really like seeing things like your ref as it is encouraging, there is a lot of wisdom and grounded reasoning in this world. Thanks for sharing. Then I think about all the different kinds of governments (and their priorities) in the world and especially the different values held by the majority of the population/s. I’m less than hopeful the gulf can be narrowed in the nick of time. Anyway those academics need to spend some time effort on wheeling power to drive necessary change and how it’s structured and channeled in the real world today vs how it needs to be to solve the looming (and present) climate crises.

    Is the current civilization (and therefore populations) even worth saving or possible? The outcome globally will be much closer to a Killian system eventually anyway ( I have doubt about that), the only questions are what will be the intermediate roads traveled getting there. And I don’t think they are that important. Evolution is an unstoppable ‘force’.

  34. 384
    Killian says:

    Re #377
    Killian @359, so out of your approximately 800 words

    Genius, I wrote closer to 160 words. The chicken tractor comment was a quote. The rest was your diarrhea.

    90% is abuse and empty rhetorical denials.

    Damn. I was shooting for 100%.

    Your only salient point

    All my points were salient. You are conflating your stupidity with others actually knowing things.

    You talk about chickens

    I didn’t talk about chickens. I posted a quote from a website. You know, like blockquote is used for by normal people with working brains.

    scratching in the ground as if its equivalent to a tractor and plough, or combine harvestor (no offence to chickens)

    Well, if I had written it, it wouldn’t mean anything like what you say above… because you’re too damned stupidly lazy and angling for a “gotcha” to do a little research. So, dumbass, no, chickens are not equivalent to any of those machines, they are far better. Try to find out why.

    Well, hold on, the harvester doesn’t even fit here. Chickens do not harvest. That’s a new low on the stupid scale for you.

    My response is it would take a million chickens to do the same thing as one tractor, and is only one example of one issue.

    Why would we want chickens to do what tractors do? Tractors are horrible for the soil. Only idiots are still tilling their soils. See how your “gotcha” just got turned around on you?

    No, you won’t. Trump is always looking for people like you.

    The problem is there just aren’t many sustainable eqauivalents to the use of metals and things like petrochemicals that come close enough to be useful.

    No, wait, THAT’S the dumbest thing you’ve ever said.

    And if you promote some bridge concept, kindly define what you mean, or provide a link.

    You think there was anything in that post or this about bridge concepts?

    Just. Stop. You’re too damned stupid to even test it.

  35. 385
    zebra says:

    #380 Alan2102,

    I gave a specific example. I said if the population of the US were, say, 30 million, it would likely concentrate in some optimal location. We know this because we observe that population tends to concentrate, both in the more affluent US and in less developed areas like Africa.

    I’m familiar with the East coast, and if I visualize how things would be arranged, it is obvious that less energy would be used per capita. I listed the areas like transportation, housing, food.

    It’s well established that cities are more efficient. It is well established that a straight line rail system is more efficient than a grid network connected by trucks. And so on; there is plenty of local land and sea for agriculture and solar and wind, so no need to import coal or oil or cattle or fish or even vegetables.

    If you disagree, please give a specific and concrete explanation of why.

  36. 386
    Killian says:

    Re 362 I know I criticise and sometimes nit pick almost anything, and its probably because I did a couple of years as a quality assurance manager.

    God help the users of that product or service.

    And seriously, have you grasped that Killians really on about? He WANTS us to be primives

    You are a perverse little man. Wants you to be a primive? I assume you mean primatives, which is pretty goddamned stupid given building amazing soil for abundant food production, living in natural buildings like Straw Bale, cob, etc., are extremely efficient and very comfortable.

    http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/strawbale.html

    You are so busy trying to deflect from the fact you have lied your ass off since you arrived on these forums, you will say anything at all that your think discredits me, thus, immorally and unethically, you attack concepts that millions of people support – because they are good for humanity – and make yourself look like the petty, lying, stupid, small man I know you to be.

    because ANY use of metals (and other minerals) is unsustainable in his view.

    No, not in my view. There is no view to be had. This is mathematics. But we’ve been over this lie of yours many times.

    Metals must be left in the ground and never used.

    I have never said this in any way, in any context, ever over my entire lifetime. Because it would be stupid. It would mean I know the needs of every home, every community, every region every bio-region on the entire planet, not just now, but into all human future.

    How is your comment supposed to belittle me? Even if I had said it, there’s a good chance we could never mine another ounce of metals ore given how much we’ve already mined that is embedded in infrastructure or lying around oxidizing.

    How can you possibly expect your comments to make *me* look anything other than intelligent? God, the depths of your depraved, self-inflicted stupidity just go deeper and deeper.

    His technology backbone / bridge is just a temporary thing for a few years to ease the transition to being a primitive.

    3? 5? 7? 14? How many years is that, chihuahua?

    It’s insane stuff and I make no apologies for calling it out for what it is.

    It’s insane to call for sustainability? I was right: You are a soft denialist.

  37. 387
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra,

    You’re right. Folks tend to respond out loud when disagreeing or whatever and silently nod when kudos or a bit of an improvement or increase in depth would be more appropriate. I’ll try. Thanks.

    When I see a small population I see History. Folks like to travel to..
    Venice, San Fran, you name it. I see humanity moving History brick by brick or via replica. I see reenactors, tourism, entertainment. Your points were all valid, but tourism might eat up the “profits”. And now we have polar tourism and disaster tourism. (Diving Miami will surely draw.)

    And to whoever went on about ” upper middle class” being superrich, I have no words. OK, here come some. In every country there are people who are upper middle class by “our” definition. It is unlikely that many societies who garner some wealth will not subsequently want what I described for their grandchildren (on average).

    I read some quote about some study that pegged 79k USD as the cut off for increased well-to-do translating to increased happiness

  38. 388
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigel,
    Would inverting tax incentives for multiple children meet your metric? Give a very generous tax deduction for one (or zero…) child and then subtract some of it with each additional child…

  39. 389
    alan2102 says:

    360 nigelj 22 Aug 2018: “I agree the planet is indeed supporting 7 billion currently, but it is using up mineral resources at a rapid rate, and causing serious levels of pollution. According to the following report we are using one and a half earths worth of resources each year”

    Yes. This is a serious problem. Population has indeed “overshot” our current technological PRACTICE. I doubt if it has — or if it has, it is not by much — overshot our technological potential with stuff now in the pipeline or on the shelf, awaiting pipeline-ization. In other words, there is a big gap between current prevailing practice and the much-enhanced efficiencies that are possible, and by “possible” I am not referring to dreamy speculative stuff, but proven stuff now either at pilot levels or in actual field use, but limited. An example is precision agriculture — the use of sensors and much better monitoring, and data analysis, to adjust irrigation, application of fertilizers and insecticides, etc., in a much more precise way, which dramatically reduces resource use while improving net effects such as yields, and improving resistance to environmental and other stresses. This is a big subject that anyone concerned with carrying capacity ought to be well-informed about. But my point is that precision agriculture is now being practiced on only a small percentage of acreage currently under cultivation; i.e. the potential benefits are vast and as yet almost entirely unrealized. Full implementation will be wonderfully beneficial and will greatly increase our carrying capacity, possibly as much as the original Green Revolution. And that is just one example, from one sector, agriculture. The same is true on other fronts. In passing I will just mention one other, an obvious one: renewable energy, still in its infancy, still accounting for only a low single-digit percentage of total energy production. But this can and will change — it IS changing, before our eyes — and the eventual result will be dramatic increase of carrying capacity, and the permanent end of the Bad Old Days of dirty dangerous expensive and anti-democratic fossil and nuclear power.

    Scare stuff like “OMG! We’re using 1.5 earths worth of resources each year!” is:
    1. GOOD, insofar as it alerts us to the problem and stimulates us to take vital corrective action, and to not be complacent, and
    2. BAD, insofar as it implies that unsustainable resource drawdown is inevitable with the current population.

    Unsustainable resource drawdown is a technology, design and implementation problem, and an excessive waste problem (mostly built-in waste, correctable with tech/design, but also a behavioral problem). The problems just mentioned are exacerbated by capitalism — a system on its way out, though it may take a century — and by the prevailing externalization of true costs, one of the pillars of modern capitalism (that which allows it to be so profitable!).

    nigel: “Future generations will be left with a depleted stockpile of materials leading to rationing of technology.”

    Yes. IF we are lazy idiots, complacently sitting on our asses and not taking vital corrective action. Given our history, it is not at all out of the question that we might be such lazy idiots, thus bringing disaster on ourselves. That’s the point that cornucopian fools neglect to appreciate, while they make numerous and excellent points about our creativity and the POSSIBILITY of greatly increased carrying capacity. Yes, it is possible, AND it takes a lot of work, and it cannot be assumed that we are up to it, which is why I don’t so assume.

    nigel: “The obvious solution is smaller population”

    Yes. Obvious, and unworkable, because much too slow. Unless you have a suggestion for dramatically increasing mortality, as I asked about in an earlier post. Do you?

    nigel: “Of course I’m suggesting promotion of smaller family size, so gentle policies. I totally rule out anything draconian or forced.”

    OK. Well, reducing population by cutting fertility further than it has already been cut everywhere except Africa is going to be: 1) very difficult, and 2) slower than molasses in January, as a population-reduction measure. CENTURIES, man. Think about this.

    nigel: “The basis for my estimate that an appropriate population size of 2 billion is a guesstimate…. I once googled the issue, but I couldn’t find research on the issue.”

    Start here:

    http://sci-hub.tw/10.1002/j.2326-1951.1995.tb03209.x
    Cohen, J. E. (1995). How Many People Can the Earth Support?
    The Sciences, 35(6), 1823. doi:10.1002/j.2326-1951.1995.tb03209.x

    http://sci-hub.tw/10.2307/2137692
    On Human Carrying Capacity: A Review Essay on Joel Cohen’s How Many People Can the Earth Support?
    F. Landis MacKellar
    Population and Development Review, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 145-156 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137692

    ……… or better yet, pick up a copy of Cohen’s book on Amazon, and don’t
    read it, STUDY it. You can probably get it for $5. Worth every penny.

  40. 390
    Al Bundy says:

    369 zebra 23 Aug 2018: “As you reduce the population, resource consumption per capita goes down as well”

    alan2102: Really? Why is that?

    AB: Basically, resources are limited. Take a small 19th century farming community. They farmers choose the best bottomland and get to farming. The miller grabs the best run of the river. The sustainability quotient is high because people are just skimming the cream. Now, the population increases. Marginal land needs to be farmed. The woods get sparse and folks have to haul logs further (note the Deep Water Horizon was massively more resource intensive and dangerous than Saudi Oil [and since we already have access to Saudi oil it is nuts to search for less efficient oil]).

    You get the drift. Lower population means people don’t have to travel as far (to get firewood) or dig as deep (to reach a receding aquifer) or farm more acres (because yields are poor).

    And since in our times extra work, being done by machines, equals extra resource use.

  41. 391
    Al Bundy says:

    By the way, I’ve dissed the current crop of Republicans frequently. John McCain wasn’t even remotely like them. I disagreed with a lot of his priorities, but I agreed 100% with his style and his integrity. Though I didn’t know him, I’m going personal, “You had a good run and you did good, John.”

  42. 392
    alan2102 says:

    387 Al Bundy 27 Aug 2018: “And to whoever went on about ”upper middle class” being superrich, I have no words.”

    Why not?

    AB: “In every country there are people who are upper middle class by “our” definition. It is unlikely that many societies who garner some wealth will not subsequently want what I described for their grandchildren (on average).”

    The two sentences do not follow. First, you speak of upper middle class by overdeveloped world standards. Next, you speak of societies that garner “some wealth” — with the “some” being unspecified, but apparently you assume that “some” MUST mean bigtime wealth, like upper middle class people of the overdeveloped world. Why? Why is that the first thing you think of? Why would not “some wealth” first bring to mind a decent level of income that could actually by provided to everyone, given current productive capabilities of humanity?

    Our current global GDP per capita would provide a modest level of income/wealth for all, if properly distributed. Why take the extreme wealthy few as the global benchmark or standard? See, again, globalrichlist.com.

    “Some wealth”, by global standards, means roughly the global per capita GDP or thereabouts — range of, say, $6,000-20,000 per year, which is plenty for a happy and becoming life.

    Yes it is true that very wealthy people want their children to be very wealthy, too. So what? Very wealthy people want a lot of things that are wrecking society and our planet.

  43. 393
    alan2102 says:

    385 zebra 25 Aug 2018:

    Zebra, you’ve not made the case for lower population **necessarily** using fewer resources per capita. You’ve pointed out, correctly, that compact populations tend to use less energy in transport; no one can argue with that. But there could be dozens of compact populations, distributed hither and yon, without a great deal of transport between them, (perhaps by way of very high import taxes), and hence with all of them having a comparable level of resource use per capita. The key word here is “necessarily”.

    Another issue is the energy intensity of transport, and modes of transport. You mentioned rail being more efficient than trucks. Yes, much more efficient. And water is even more efficient. Remember canals? They were built because they WORK. And they still work. The current system of shipping everything by ICE truck is insane and cannot be taken to represent anything but insanity; it tells us less than nothing about population pressure v/v resources. We could have an America with a population of 1 billion, mostly in dense centers, connected mostly by a canal system, and secondarily by rail, using a small fraction of the energy currently used to run all those ICE trucks; further, it could all be run easily on renewables, no fossil/nuke required at all. I’m not suggesting that (pop of 1 billion) as a practical possibility, just pointing out that the population angle is, as usual, greatly overstated, and is easily overwhelmed by other factors — so much so that I must wonder why it keeps coming up. It is a sort of obsession, out of touch with facts.

    Another issue is selection of goods for transport, and sensitivity to energy requirements v/v energy or authentic needs supplied. I gave the example some pages back of shipping lettuce from California to New York — a classic example of extreme stupidity and insensitivity to the energetic implications, especially given our ICE truck system of transport. Obviously, no one in New York needs lettuce from California, or from anywhere else. Multiply that example by thousands of other items, also unneeded, and you end up with a crazy mess and insane waste of energy.

    But again, this has nothing to do with population; it has to do with stupidity and insanity, and a system that allows and encourages same. Why any intelligent person would want to pack all of that into a box and label the box “overpopulation” is beyond me. Is it really so painful to consider the true causes of our problems? Especially given, as I just pointed out to nigel (#389, 27 aug), that population reduction is nearly impossible in any reasonable time frame. Why would we want to focus on the one thing that can’t be changed, ignoring the things that CAN be? I don’t get it. Maybe you can explain.

    Lastly, even something as crazy in the current context as California lettuce in New York could become sane in a different context. Like, say, that America with all the canals, and consequently with the energetic cost of shipping collapsed to a small fraction of what it is today — and THAT supplied by renewables!

    PS: I just wrote that “the current system of shipping everything by ICE truck is insane and cannot be taken to represent anything but insanity”. True but incomplete. It can be taken to represent the end product of a long series of events that privileged ICE vehicles over other modes, especially rail. The rail system was deliberately destroyed by a corporate/government alliance that subsidized the ICE vehicle system over other modes, massively. Just one aspect of the orchestrated tidal-wave of reaction in the West, and especially in the U.S., in the 20th century: anti-socialist, anti-communist, pro-capitalist, pro-corporate, pro-neoliberal. The effects have been devastating.

  44. 394
    Carrie says:

    378 nigelj says: “Im talking about decentralised use in rural communities to charge a phone or for a few lights. The costs appear competitive so it’s a mystery.”

    It does not matter how low the costs are, if you have no money at all you cannot afford it!

    Stupid is ….

  45. 395
    Carrie says:

    378 nigelj (part 2) Do you or anyone else have any ideas why solar power is slow to catch on in africa? Im talking about decentralised use in rural communities to charge a phone or for a few lights. The costs appear competitive so it’s a mystery.

    As Hank says, Google is your friend (or could be). N. do you ever search for information related to comments before you posts them to see what might be out there already?

    Last Published: 8/3/2017
    Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi have adopted a three-tiered duty structure for imports from outside the East Africa Customs Union (EACU) under the terms of an East African Community (EAC) agreement, which became fully operational in January 2010. Most finished products are subject to a 25 percent duty, while intermediate products face a 10 percent levy. Raw materials (excluding food stuffs) and capital goods may still enter duty free. Imported goods are also charged a value-added tax (VAT) of 18 percent and a withholding tax of six percent, which are reclaimable. Imports are also charged a 1.5 percent infrastructure tax to finance railway infrastructure development. The EAC agreement increased import duties on some products currently imported into Uganda from the U.S. Uganda is negotiating with Kenya and Tanzania to define certain manufactured products of key importance to Ugandan industries as “raw materials.” The EACU members created a list of “sensitive” products—generally products that compete with certain domestic industries—that qualify for higher tariffs. https://www.export.gov/article?id=Uganda-Import-Tariffs

    I’ll add that up for you OK … feel free to do your own research but Solar equipment sounds to me like a “manufactured good”.

    So 25% + 18% + 1.5% = 44.5% Import taxes

    Then there’s the issue of the majority having no money anyway. See how this works? So there’s are some ideas why solar power is slow to catch on in africa. How else will a poor nation raise Taxes when there is next to nothing Govt income from PAYE Income taxes or Company taxes? Burundi isn’t Auckland. :)

    Have you tried searching for African newspaper reports about what they say about the matter?

  46. 396
    nigelj says:

    Zebra, regarding your decrease in population size and your claimed concurrent decrease in per capita consumption. You are over estimating any decrease in per capita consumption. Your problems are cities and regions will still need to trade, and remember “Jevons paradox”.

  47. 397
    nigelj says:

    Killian @386, the only lying going on is you telling us your theory does not mean humans living essentially like primitives, when it plainly does. While I concede use of many resources has to fall, I would rather human civilisation maintains a reasonable level of technology as long as possible. I value quality of life above quantity.

  48. 398
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @388

    “Would inverting tax incentives for multiple children meet your metric? Give a very generous tax deduction for one (or zero…) child and then subtract some of it with each additional child…”

    Yes absolutely, except two or fewer children would go a long way to helping. I have considered this (not meaning to sound like a smart arse, but the issue has been debated in NZ ). The challenge would be fending off silly accusations of “social engineering”.

  49. 399
    nigelj says:

    alan2102 @389

    Yes we could do a whole lot of things more efficiently and with less waste and more focused precision etc. There’s also many possible materials substitutions. I agree about capitalism, at the very least it has to change its form.

    Just remember we have a lot of poverty and people are entitled to at least get out of poverty. That will tend to create even more pressure.

    I agree getting population to actually fall is likely to take several centuries at least. This is why we need your efficiencies.

    Your links make for interesting reading, however I dont think they consider the question of energy and mineral resources well enough. Some metals will be in short supply or getting more expensive to extract within 50 – 100 years. As a result I cannot for the life of me seeing the planet sustain current population levels at “current” levels of technology” for huge lengths of time. It has to fall one way or the other.

    I think the goal should be for civilisation to maintain a reasonable technology based culture as long as possible, so smaller population and some reduction in per capita resource use is inevitable, but I dont buy into Killians more drastic philosophy, because it looks like it would reduce quality of life too much to me. I think human civilisation is ultimately facing a sort of trade off or balance between quality of life and quantity or length of life. Of course we might be able to mine asteroids for scarce metals.

  50. 400
    zebra says:

    #387 Al Bundy,

    Thanks for the response– and let me offer some kind-of disagreement, if that’s what turns you on ;-).

    My issue here is that there is often not real “depth” as you say; there’s a lot of very wordy and unfocused stream-of-consciousness stuff. We’re really talking about two specific things:

    1. A future for humans that promotes the longest survival of “humanness”.
    2. Minimizing the harm that happens in the next say 300 years as we start getting there.

    I can easily answer pretty much any objections to what I suggest for #1– like your tourism. With a stable population of say 300 million, people can fly around using biofuel– and, here’s the kicker– biofuel, in that future, would be the rational economic choice. Again, something you can probably see for yourself if you give it a little thought.

    But where we need to further the discussion is in understanding why a major effort on population is essential in pursuit of #2. You touch on one aspect of that in #390 with the Deepwater Horizon. It is “crazy”, isn’t it?!

    So, why are we so crazy? I say you can only understand it as the result of the population growth paradigm under which humans have always been operating. All the “evils” people here incoherently rant about follow from the cycle of increasing population in order to control resources, and then needing more resources… it goes all the way back to our chimp-nature, obviously.

    The reason for looking at the condition, which you also describe in #390, of large ratio of available resources relative to population, is to examine the underlying forces and see how changing the dynamic leads to “saner” decisions in the near and intermediate term.

    Think about how panicked the Oiligarchs are already– do we think they have been going to these extremes because they don’t see how things could change? They are not stupid, and they certainly don’t have stupid people doing the math and science for them.