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Forced Responses: Feb 2019

Filed under: — group @ 1 February 2019

A bimonthly thread on societal responses to climate change. Note that there is another open thread for climate science topics. Please stick to specifics as opposed to arguments about ethics, politics or morality in general.

493 Responses to “Forced Responses: Feb 2019”

  1. 51
    zebra says:

    #45 Kevin McKinney,

    Slur? Strange choice of words; the world is full of fine people without such an education.

    But OK, one would then have to explain why someone with an education in math and science would have trouble with the concept of a dimensionless quantitative change.

  2. 52
    zebra says:

    #41 Al Bundy,

    The payment idea is a problem for a couple of reasons.

    First, it would have no effect on the people who are doing the most polluting– I doubt Ivanka would even notice the added income.

    Second, even if you got those other governments to allow it– see the articles I have referenced about China, Japan, Korea, Italy, and others, where they are trying to promote more births– you wouldn’t really be supplying the “social security” that is needed to discourage large families.

    And, of course, there is the whole issue of who might be targeted because of how they look, if you know what I mean, ignoring the value of genetic diversity that we must maintain for a reduced population.

  3. 53

    Russell, #50–

    And neither did population shrink durin the age of exploration: World population – see your own demographic history link- grew in the 16th century just as it did in the 20th.

    But not in the Americas, right? The population estimates for the pre-Columbian Americas are all over the map–no pun intended, and not surprisingly given the paucity of information they are trying to work from–but they reach as high as the tens of millions, IIRC. And there is at least some indication that the population collapse was dramatic and nearly ubiquitous. The results profoundly altered cultures, with the net effect being a dramatic decline in agriculture.

    I don’t think there’s a comparable event in the 20th century. Agriculture was disrupted, most drastically perhaps by the forced collectivization in the USSR and the resultant famines (mostly in Ukraine), but also (in the 30s) by the dust bowl in North America.

    But while agriculture may have declined, Soviet manufacturing was ballooning. (So was German manufacturing, and to some degree, manufacturing all across Europe, and for similar reasons–everybody saw the war coming.) Then there was the growth of American manufacturing, which may have started off a bit later, but certainly achieved remarkable levels of output. (America, arms-maker for the world!–or at least, the Allies.)

    So, why would CO2 emissions decline in the mid-20th century?

    (And by the way, if we’re talking about post-Contact declines in Amerindian agriculture and land-use-driven declines in CO2, wouldn’t we be more concerned with Bill Ruddiman than Jared Diamond?)

  4. 54
    Killian says:

    Re #40 flxible said Killian @ 30 “suspecting” what shaped human cultural/societal evolution isn’t paying attention to Forced Responses to climate

    Yeah, it is. Nowhere did I say there were no climate impacts, but climate impacts happen to people that never left H-Ging, people who adjusted to other methods of survival, like the Maasai, etc. Yet, they exist even unto today, and do not necessarily have “Big Men” equivalents of chiefs. (What?! Antifragility?! My word…!)

    Try to remember: The lack of a thing does equal the non-existence of a thing… and that you are talking to a person whose entire world is framed by systems thinking, thus not likely to just leave stuff out – but every post need not be a dissertation, either.

    Bear in mind the Americas were a real hodgepodge of massive hierarchies and small trial groups in post-Columbian era. We really do not know the degree of complexity lost due to the Great Dying. That supports your point. but neither do we know to what extent smaller groups existed.

    However, Gaspar’s account would indicate a large number of groups living side by side all along the Amazon in relatively Stone Age conditions at the time of contact even as the Maya, Inca, Aztecs had flourished… and the Caral-Supe 2000-2500 years before them.

    But which are still here? The Aztecs or the tribal folk? (WHAT?!!! Antifragile?! It can’t be!!!! Can it…?)

    Interesting, no?

    I’m not dumb so you am we be are not you is are we think is.

  5. 55

    zebra, #51–

    Slur? Strange choice of words; the world is full of fine people without such an education.

    No doubt, but on a science-focused site, the context is a bit different than on sites devoted to knitting, or cats, or heavy metal music, or–but you get the idea. I hope.

    If you search sidd’s comment history, I think you’ll find that he shows every sign of being quite numerate and scientifically literate.

    (Full disclosure: it would have been a more accurate comment had you made it about me; my mathematical grounding is weak, quite frankly. I still use what I did learn back in high school, so give me credit for that much, but there is a lot of math I didn’t ever learn because I was busy catching up on other things more directly relevant to the life I was then in the process of choosing.)

  6. 56
    Al Bundy says:

    Killian: “yiu” “scote” and other new words
    AB: It is unwise to insult people when drunk, especially those who just complimented you.

  7. 57
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra,
    Yep, there are issues. But the rich already have a low birth rate. They are included because equal treatment both sells and is more efficient. Programs that require qualification based on income are dorky, IMO. Plus, that irrelevant influx of cash is a monthly reminder that squirting out humans is harmful.

    Diversity? Dude, for that to be an issue we’d have to get way below your 300 million future. Africa has the vast majority of human variation. Richard Dawkins said that you could wipe out everyone else and diversity would hardly decline. And yes, my proposal is targeted at Africa. Remember, current wealth and emissions per capita are somewhat irrelevant when considering the emissions and wealth of the not-yet-conceived. Nigeria is going to spew an incredible amount of carbon. Or not.

    I wondered about politics, too. But you only have to convince 50.00001% to get-er-done. And I wonder what government could survive that tries to prevent free money from being deposited in individuals’ accounts.

    The reason some governments are trying to increase birth rates is that births are profitable for billionaires. The more people there are to feed off of the more zeros there are in those all-important bank statements. Once the Green New Deal and the elimination of billionaires become popular the paradigm changes. Neither BAU nor incremental lessening of moronic policies will do. You know it. I know it. And more importantly, kids know that the current system WILL land them in Hell in a half century or so unless it is overturned. Seriously, I’ve read several articles lately that lament about how the young are starting to see reproduction as a drag on their possibilities AND a destructive and perhaps immoral action. The lament, of course, is that billionaires might be prevented from becoming trillionaires. Seriously, a declining population means that real estate goes down in value over time. That that is an incredible boon carbonwise is precisely the point. When people buy houses for use instead of investment the game changes.

    But again, I agree. A dashed off comment isn’t sufficient. It’s a journey. You know what they say. To get somewhere eventually ya gotta start with a step. My guess is that some folks will soon look at preggers with distain…

  8. 58
    nigelj says:

    Sidd @49, I believe that e is supposed to be per capita use of energy resources. So maybe use watts.

  9. 59
    Mal Adapted says:

    Kevin McKinney:

    The population estimates for the pre-Columbian Americas are all over the map–no pun intended, and not surprisingly given the paucity of information they are trying to work from–but they reach as high as the tens of millions, IIRC.

    In 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles C. Mann wasn’t able to narrow the population in the Americas in the title year to less than an order of magnitude: it was probably more than 10 million, and might have been as high as 100 million. He devotes several pages to the unresolved debate between high-counters and low-counters, and observes that proponents of both have non-scientific axes to grind. The Wikipedia article on the question is reasonably thorough.

  10. 60
    nigelj says:

    Zebra says “The payment idea is a problem for a couple of reasons. First, it would have no effect on the people who are doing the most polluting– I doubt Ivanka would even notice the added income.”

    It would have no effect on the rich but they tend to have small families anyway. I suggest it would have a significant effect on the poor and middle classes and taken together they are a substantial source of emissions. I think its reasonable to say there would be a net drop in emissions and other obvious benefits as well.

    “Second, even if you got those other governments to allow it– see the articles I have referenced about China, Japan, Korea, Italy, and others, where they are trying to promote more births– you wouldn’t really be supplying the “social security” that is needed to discourage large families.”

    The politics is an issue but maybe not that huge. For example the very article Zebra posted on China showed that despite the government trying to now encourage a higher birth rate, the population are resisting this and many are having just one child by their own choice! Hoist by your own petard.

    Social security doesn’t discourage large families. People on unemployment and invalids benefits still keep having children. Income transfers to assist families that are based on numbers of children simply leads to larger families (a fact in my country). Such schemes should instead be capped at something like 2 children (picking a number that might be politically viable).

    If by social security you mean old age pensions and decent health care , and more support for womens rights and security, then yes these things help reduce fertility rates but improving them is a slow process.

    The biggest opportunity for lower fertility rates and huge benefits to the whole of humanity is in targeting Africa and the developing world where large families are still common. Some things have already been tried in a couple of African countries and they worked really well: 1) making contraception free or really easy to access and 2) ensuring there is good local community healthcare. It doesn’t have to be gold plated healthcare, just the basics. Fertility rates dropped substantially, even although the countries were poor, had little in the way of old age pension schemes and women’s rights were limited. So it busts some myths on what are the most important factors, (however I’m personally right behind better women’s rights).

    “And, of course, there is the whole issue of who might be targeted because of how they look, if you know what I mean, ignoring the value of genetic diversity that we must maintain for a reduced population.”

    Al Bundys scheme was based purely around age.

    Singapore used financial incentives to have smaller families and the birth rate fell. This we know for a fact. The $ is a powerful incentive.

    And does zebra have any ideas of his own? I have yet to see any.

  11. 61
    flxible says:

    AB56: “It is unwise to insult people when drunk ….”

    Also causes yer fingers to get ahead of your brain :)

    K54: “I’m not dumb so you am we be are not you is are we think is.”

  12. 62
    nigelj says:

    Russell says “Why no Diamondesque uproar over why the ideology driven demographic disasters of the 20th century failed to inflect CO2 levels as much as the Great Dying after Renaissance Europe’s arrival in the the Americas?”

    Probably because these 20th c population reductions during the war and Stalins purges would have had little effect on demand for timber so no significant forest regrowth. Timber would have been in high demand due to the war and economic expansion in the Soviet Union. Just a guess obviously but I dont think anyone has studied it all.

  13. 63
    mike says:

    Economist says oil demand is on the rise:

    https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/02/09/the-truth-about-big-oil-and-climate-change?utm_source=Fareed%27s+Global+Briefing&utm_campaign=2448ea7081-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_02_08_09_43&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6f2e93382a-2448ea7081-100221337

    “Demand for oil is rising and the energy industry, in America and globally, is planning multi-trillion-dollar investments to satisfy it. No firm embodies this strategy better than ExxonMobil, the giant that rivals admire and green activists love to hate. As our briefing explains, it plans to pump 25% more oil and gas in 2025 than in 2017. If the rest of the industry pursues even modest growth, the consequence for the climate could be disastrous.”

    I don’t know about disastrous. That might be a little over-the-top. Why don’t they say “undesirable?” It’s really important that we stay optimistic. When a rag like the Economist throws out a pessimistic term like disastrous, a lot of folks get discouraged and just give up. But aside from the discouraging tone…

    How does this happen? Why is oil demand on the rise again when emissions hit a flat spot for a couple of year beginning around 2014? That’s a question primarily for those of you who have expended a bit of effort trying to track the “pause” in emissions that happened for a few years. I would suggest that there is a lot of noise or adjustments to make to the reports of emissions to spot any a trend change in anything less than 5 to 10 years, but I am curious how those of you who think it makes sense to put much weight on emission reports think this all plays out.

    Also, Nigel said at 60 wrt to population issue: “Social security doesn’t discourage large families. People on unemployment and invalids benefits still keep having children. Income transfers to assist families that are based on numbers of children simply leads to larger families (a fact in my country). Such schemes should instead be capped at something like 2 children (picking a number that might be politically viable).”

    Mike says: Think this through, Nigel. Do you recognize any reason(s) why this kind of capping is not politically feasible as a policy solution?

    How are we doing on CO2 accumulation, some might ask.

    I would say, it’s looking encouraging or maybe things are looking up!

    Daily CO2

    February 6, 2019: 411.37 ppm
    February 6, 2018: 407.95 ppm

    Weekly CO2

    January 20 – 26, 2019 411.99 ppm
    January 20 – 26, 2018 408.31 ppm

    Monthly CO2

    Jan. 2019 410.92 ppm
    Jan. 2018 408.05 ppm
    Jan. 2017 406.07 ppm

    co2.earth usual source

    Cheers, stay optimistic and cheery. It could be worse.

    Mike

  14. 64
    Al Bundy says:

    Flexible,
    I have to admit that I’m pureTevil, as evidenced by my life’s goal: to have as many noses as possible spew fizzy drinks.

  15. 65
    Al Bundy says:

    Mike,
    The issue is about WHO gets benefits, the parents or the children. Give children free school uniforms, free meals, whatever
    But giving parents a dime for spitting out children is evil.

    This isn’t hard – as long as you reject all axioms.

  16. 66
    zebra says:

    Al Bundy,

    Al, I will get back to the issues about influencing TFR, but I am still trying to get some points plotted on the individual variables, and there the disparate contributions of C02 (Africa v USA, rich v poor) have to be considered.

    First, I’m trying to get a handle on the per-capita effect in the relationship between T and P– that’s the non-linear part, where the lower population affects energy consumption modalities, as well as influencing natural sequestration, yielding more reduction in CO2. Using the scale as before, in billions:

    .3, 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9, 10.5, 12

    I would be confident that around 4.5, that effect would still be substantial. So the curve is steep below it, and starts to diminish in slope, getting to the current level at 7.5. I’m not really sure when the P numbers start to be higher than the present, because there are contradictory effects.

    Are all the new poor Africans going to buy ICE pickup trucks? If they do, will that increase the price of oil? If they are prosperous enough to do that, will the TFR remain very high? I’m guessing that in the near term, say 50 years, the influence of those populations will be muted relative to what is happening in the developed world.

    So, is my plot reasonable? Once you get into the range below 4.5, we are well on the way to “solving” the problem of human influence on climate, even without E.

  17. 67

    K 46: I know Bart “missed” it intentionally.

    BPL: Never mind how he knows. He just… knows. Maybe the voices tell him.

  18. 68
    flxible says:

    Al Bundy @64 says: “Flexible”, demonstrating how we often see what we expect rather than what is there

  19. 69

    Mike, #63–

    How does this happen? Why is oil demand on the rise again when emissions hit a flat spot for a couple of year beginning around 2014?

    Well, a significant part of it is that global economic growth (per the flawed but standard metric of GDP) hit a 6-year high in 2017. Obviously, 2018 numbers aren’t available yet, but are likely to be at least as strong.

    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG

    2017’s 3.138% may not seem like a huge increase from the preceding 5 years in absolute terms, but it’s ~10% higher than the next highest year during that span (2014’s 2.859%).

  20. 70
    Al Bundy says:

    Flxible: Al Bundy @64 says: “Flexible”, demonstrating how we often see what we expect rather than what is there

    AB: Even more interesting is that I TRIED to type “Flxible” but apparently my fingers were in auto-incorrect mode

  21. 71
    nigelj says:

    Mike @63 yes I agree capping such payments for families would be politically difficult. I realised that. But it’s what should be done and we start with ideals, and then look at what is realistic I guess.

    The whole idea of income support based on families and numbers of children is a bad idea in the first place, and I suspect it was a compromise to keep both sides of politics happy, but a bad compromise. Its better to simply give income support based on level of income, or alternatively what Al Bundy says.

  22. 72
    nigelj says:

    Zebra says (paraphasing a long screed in good faith) if we reduce global population by 3 billion he is “confident” we would start get some substantial drop in rates of per capita energy consumption.

    I think we would definitely see a drop in per capita energy consumption. However I don’t think there would be much change on the energy supply side. We would be driving much the same cars (whether BVE or ICE, hopefully the former). I don’t see that lower population numbers would make uptake of BVE cars much more likely. Why would they?

    I don’t see lower population would make cars more energy efficient in some way.I firmly support smaller population, but expanding population is associated with higher gdp and industrial innovation, and production. So a shrinking population may not help energy efficiencies on the supply side.

    Now for the big positives. You would get some sort of change in urban structure with more compact cities, so shorter travelling times and so less per capita energy use. But there’s a limit because very small, compact cities lack economies of scale and you don’t want industry near residential areas, or to be reliant on massive and unsustainable highrise towers. This would be senseless anyway in a world of much smaller population.

    I don’t see big changes in per capita energy efficiency with shrinking population to about 4.5 billion because I dont think city structures would change that much. Maybe 10% improvement in energy efficiency. Get it down to a billion people and it would be significantly higher, maybe 20 – 30% because cities really would be a significantly different scale and better planned.

    “Once you get into the range below 4.5, we are well on the way to “solving” the problem of human influence on climate, even without E.”

    No we aren’t. Any realistic estimate suggests we would be lucky to get population down to about 6 billion by year 2100. If the only tool to mitigate climate change is population reduction, it solves very little because those numbers cannot stop emissions getting over 2 degrees, so locking in dangerous climate change and a lot of problems due to feedbacks.

    All the lower population numbers do is help reduce the probability of warming getting to about 4 degrees or above, although this is good of course.

    We are very reliant on renewable energy and strategies to promote this.

    Just my take on it. I don’t claim to have all the answers.

  23. 73
    nigelj says:

    Flxible says … “demonstrating how we often see what we expect rather than what is there.”

    So true. The classic invisible gorilla experiment:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhlc7peGlGg

    Climate denialists have a version of the affliction really badly.

  24. 74
    Adam Lea` says:

    The problem with declining population in a country is that, over time, the demograph shifts from the working population to old people, so you end up with fewer and fewer working people paying taxes to support the increasing cost of pensions and healthcare for older frail people, many who develop ongoing health issues requiring at least part time care, if not full time, and frequent stays in hospital. This means governments have to either increase taxes on working people, reducing their disposable income and ultimately, quality of life, or cut social services, which is very unpopular amongst the population, and raises the question of why that should be necessary when it might not be necerssary if the wealthy didn’t choose to avoid tax as much as possible. A third possibility is for the working population to evolve to take their elderly dependents into their homes and become full time carers, but firstly, if they do that, how do they also go out and earn money needed to live, and secondly, is it really ethical to insist people give up their lives and future for those who have had their chance to reach their full potential in life?

  25. 75
    Mr. Know It All says:

    mike – 63

    “How does this happen? Why is oil demand on the rise again when emissions hit a flat spot for a couple of year beginning around 2014?….”

    Is this what you are after?

    https://www.iea.org/geco/

  26. 76
    zebra says:

    #74 Adam Lea,

    I think you are trying to figure out how a new paradigm would work while being stuck in the old paradigm.

    It’s really a matter of how the demographic pyramid ends up, and the kinds of activities that make up “the economy”, and how “wealth” is characterized. You can’t take concepts from how things are now and apply them without modification.

    At the most basic level, we observe that very low TFR’s exist, so women are willing to make the choice of “reaching their full potential in life”, by not having children, without worrying too much about how things will go after that.

    So when you say…

    “is it really ethical to insist people give up their lives and future for those who have had their chance to reach their full potential in life?

    …one has to wonder who you count as “people”.

  27. 77
    mike says:

    Let’s say that a nationstate wants to reduce population for some reason. There are many ways this might be done. China tried the one-child policy for a long time and it worked, though it may have increased the incidence of infanticide within the country. Here is a link about China’s one child policy:
    https://www.pop.org/chinas-population-control-police-should-be-abolished-2/

    that involved 336 million forced abortions and produced a gender skew to 33 million more men than woman. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/gender-01222015125826.html

    I think most nationstates (and sensible human beings) would look at this real social science experiment and think, “hmm.. that policy did reduce population growth, but it also produced some pretty awful unintended consequences. Is there a better way?”

    Some folks here like the idea of capping various social safety net benefits to reduce population. This has also been tried in the US, Singapore and South Korea. In the US, NJ led the way with the first family cap in 1992. The 1996 national welfare reform allowed every state to employ family caps without a federal waiver. 23 states in the US now have family caps. Studies of the impacts are largely inconclusive wrt whether family caps are beneficial in terms of reducing population.

    Here’s a cut and paste from wikipedia:

    Abortion

    There are conflicting studies on the abortion issue. A 1998 study conducted in New Jersey found that for new welfare recipients there was an increase of 14% in the abortion rate, but for ongoing cases of recipients, there was no significant difference in abortion rates cause by the policy.[2] Between October 1992 and December 1996, the New Jersey family cap averted 14,000 births and caused 1,400 abortions that otherwise would not have occurred.[5] The policy is thus criticised by the New Jersey Catholic Conference, pro-life organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Organization for Women.[6] However, in 2001, another study found that family caps are inconclusive regarding reductions of out-of-wedlock births, abortions, or the size of welfare caseloads.[4]

    In contrast, a study in Arkansas and Arizona found that there was no significant difference in birth rates. If in fact these policies correlate with a reduction in birth rates, the question remains whether they are caused by abortions or increased use of contraceptives.[2]

    Child poverty and healthEdit

    Critics argue that the child exclusion policy keeps children in poverty by denying them the critical supports they need at a young age to become self-sufficient in adulthood. A decrease in family wealth usually leads to negative effects on children.[7]

    Specifically, family caps were found to increase the poverty rate of children by 13.1%.[8] Also, critics argue that the costs of child exclusion exceed the savings. Nationally, the costs associated with child poverty total about $500 billion a year, the equivalent of 4% of the GDP.[9]

    The effect child poverty on health also raises concerns. Children living in poverty are 3.6 times more likely to have poor health and 5 times more likely to die from an infectious disease than children that are not poor.[10] In the area of welfare sanctions, such as family caps, a termination or a reduction in benefits translates into a 50% higher risk of lacking nutritionally-adequate food, a 30% greater risk of hospitalizations for infants and toddlers than those whose assistance were not decreased, and a 90% higher risk of being admitted to the hospital during an emergency room visit.[11] Also, the increased need for medical treatment is felt by the children and by society’s health expenditures.

    Currently, there is an estimate of 108,000 families affected by the family cap in the United States.[4]

    Mike says: I think a decent social scientist would review the childhood poverty issue that arises with the family cap approach and tell you that the approach to cost of social services is not going to reduce costs to the nationstate because the lifelong costs of childhood poverty are known to be significant.

    The links to the studies lead you to archive and wayback machine. I did not search for them. Others may look if they want.

    How did South Korea do with family caps? I could not find any studies like the ones that exist for the US experiment with family caps, but I did find this:
    https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/08/south-korea-needs-more-babies/565169/

    It’s pretty clear from that article that population control through family cap and small family policy has led SK to a tough spot. SK and Japan appear to be in a similar demographic bind with an aging population and the problems that arise from that demographic change.

    Family caps are generally a right wing talking point and policy approach in the US. I don’t think that anyone is real happy about increasing benefit costs for larger welfare families, but I think it’s pretty clear that family caps do not reduce public costs for the safety net and in the countries where family caps have been imposed, they have created an aging population demographic problem. These policies also increase infanticide, abortion and childhood poverty globally. It is also sometimes mentioned that these big welfare families drive cadillacs, but I think that one is an urban myth.

    So what might be a better way to stop population growth in a humane and cost effective manner? I would suggest that we try increased access (including contraceptives and abortion) to education and health care for women of child-bearing age.

    But, hey, if you enjoy spouting right wing talking points, it’s hard to beat capping benefits to families dependent on the social service safety net. Stay away from the cadillac-driving, welfare queen meme because it is a little bit inflammatory.

    Live it up.

    Mike

  28. 78
    zebra says:

    #77 mike,

    In the previous Forced Responses, I referenced a list of TFR by country, and pointed out that there were many with a TFR around 1.5, and that they included very different cultures.

    China, Korea, and Japan, are all places where the government is trying to increase fertility, not decrease it.

    Here’s a very interesting article which I referenced previously, but I think either nobody read it or the concepts were so horrifying to some that they had palpitations and fainting spells.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-45201725

    So, as I’ve asked before, what is the big mystery about reducing population?

  29. 79
    Hank Roberts says:

    Elsevier
    Quaternary Science Reviews

    Volume 207, 1 March 2019, Pages 13-36
    Quaternary Science Reviews

    Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.12.004

  30. 80
    nigelj says:

    Mike @77

    Useful and interesting information. I would not support ideas that exacerbate child poverty.I think if someone is unemployed or an invalid and they are receiving government financial assistance, and have another child while getting that assistance, they should get a little bit more assistance. It’s only humane.

    I was talking about government income transfers as a means of “supporting families”, which is a different thing. I was thinking of our policy in New Zealand of “working for families” where families can claim a tax rebate if they want based on the number of children they have. Lower and middle income people can claim this payment. Its simply to assist families of lower and middle income people. The trouble is it creates an incentive to have more children.

    Instead I think its better for the government to simply have an income transfer that helps low income families, not something linked to family size as such.

    Its about teasing out good policies that help low income people while not creating unintended consequences. The right wing dont really want any policies at all and are just self centred, but the left wing sometimes get it a bit wrong in how things are structured.

  31. 81
    Al Bundy says:

    Mike says: I think a decent social scientist would review the childhood poverty issue that arises with the family cap approach and tell you that the approach to cost of social services is not going to reduce costs to the nationstate because the lifelong costs of childhood poverty are known to be significant.

    AB: Bait and switch. The issue is NOT eliminating the support of families but in changing who gets what: do the parent get money or does the child get support? As if poverty changes healthcare for children if all children get free healthcare and transportation to healthcare facilities. On the other hand, if you hand parents the cash then the odds that the kid gets proper healthcare goes down because healthcare remains expensive and so to be avoided. It’s like the carbon tax – at its core the average payment will be a tiny bit lower than the average paid, but the goal isn’t increasing efficiency directly but in providing motivation to make more efficient decisions. Nobody should ever call a child “my tax deduction”.

    I’ve heard ever so many guys lament about how their massive child support payments go primarily to providing their evil ex a tremendous lifestyle. I’ve heard of women who squirt out a child each from several guys so as to increase the largess. Oops, did I just almost become a republiCon? They adore anecdotes and axioms. I especially love their stance that preventing tens of thousands of eligible people from voting is a small price to pay for possibly preventing one ineligible person from gaining nothing and risking everything by voting illegally. Me? I’m more towards the “It is worse for a single innocent human to be punished (denied their right to vote) than for ten violators to get away with their crime” end of the spectrum. But winning elections Drumpfs everything, eh?

    Nigel,
    6 billion by 2100? Yeah, that sounds like a stretch to me, too. But cohort replacement is very busy and today’s teens have grown up immersed in the sixth extinction. Much of our (older folks) knowledge and experience doesn’t apply to their reality. And the young are the ones who will make this choice. So you’re not even in the game (unless some young hottie gets lucky).

  32. 82
    mike says:

    Nigel said at 60: “Social security doesn’t discourage large families. People on unemployment and invalids benefits still keep having children. Income transfers to assist families that are based on numbers of children simply leads to larger families (a fact in my country). Such schemes should instead be capped at something like 2 children (picking a number that might be politically viable).”

    then when he is called on the consequence that arise when a family cap has been tried,

    at 71, Nigel says “yes I agree capping such payments for families would be politically difficult. I realised that. But it’s what should be done and we start with ideals, and then look at what is realistic I guess.”

    now at

    Nigel says: “I would not support ideas that exacerbate child poverty.I think if someone is unemployed or an invalid and they are receiving government financial assistance, and have another child while getting that assistance, they should get a little bit more assistance. It’s only humane.

    I was talking about government income transfers as a means of “supporting families”, which is a different thing. I was thinking of our policy in New Zealand of “working for families” where families can claim a tax rebate if they want based on the number of children they have.”

    If you would not support ideas that increase or exacerbate childhood poverty, then you can’t really propose family size that effectively reduce the income of families based on a family size limit. You and I were talking about family caps and when confronted with some facts about how that works, you want to say, no I wasn’t talking about family caps, I was talking about something else. You like to be slippery, but your comments in this thread tell the story. The smart move in this instance is to say, yeah, capping benefits based on family size is not just politically difficult, it produces childhood poverty when it is implemented, so that approach is a dead end.

    AB: you brought up income to individuals, including children, as a solution that might avoid the childhood poverty consequences that accompany family caps. Can you think of a single municipality where such a thing as been tried or tested in any way? I am interested in how that would work given the fact that autonomy and civil rights for children are quite complicated.

    MKIA: nice link at 75

    Zebra: I hear you on the population issues as they exist in China, S. Korea and Japan. I read the article. I think it confirms that there are many regressive and oppressive means to encourage lower population. I think the question is: how would our species reduce it’s global population in an humane and equitable manner? I think that is quite tricky.

    AB: I am open to a little exploration and fact checking about your statement at 81: “As if poverty changes healthcare for children if all children get free healthcare and transportation to healthcare facilities. On the other hand, if you hand parents the cash then the odds that the kid gets proper healthcare goes down because healthcare remains expensive and so to be avoided.”

    In the US, we actually don’t use much in the way of cash to parents as a means to care for children. We tend to provide benefits like EBT that can only be used for certain foodstuffs and Medicaid benefits that cover medical care. The cash approach (known as AFDC – aid to families with dependent childen) ended with 1996 welfare reform and we changed to TANF (temporary assistance to needy families) that has a five year limit on assistance and commonly does not provide support to families where parents are pursuing education. AB – are you in the US? Are you familiar with how benefits are actually delivered? The earned income credit is based on employment income. It may be similar to the New Zealand tax rebate that Nigel thinks is a functional incentive for low income and working class folks to have more children.

    haven’t had time to read it yet, but this looks like an interesting overview of these programs and benefits and how they work:

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13876980600681958

    can’t read right now, I am busy painting a bathroom and need to clean brushes and pick up a bit.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  33. 83
    nigelj says:

    Mike @82, no I’m not being slippery. I’m probably just not seeing the wood for the trees. I think you are right, all families are best treated equally and with no cap. Children should be our no 1 priority.

    The right wing in NZ cut welfare benefits in the 1990s and all it did was far more children ended up in hospital (at the tax payers expense), so it was totally self defeating miserly thinking.

    However I will never particularly like paying for people who choose to have huge families, and potentially encouraging this, and who waste money on drugs and booze etc. Ideally we should target financial assistance at the children somehow so it cant be wasted on booze and drugs, but I admit that is difficult.

  34. 84
    Killian says:

    Re #78 zebra said …Korea [is a] all place where the government is trying to increase fertility, not decrease it.

    As an alien resident of (S.) Korea, good luck with that.

    Also, what gov’t wants and what The People need are not one and the same. Hint: Korea cannot feed itself now.

    FYI.

    /nuff said

  35. 85
    nigelj says:

    So essentially Zebra thinks smaller population will fix a large part of the climate problem because women in South Korea aren’t having children. This being the country with the very lowest fertility rate, so hardly typical, and because of pretty specific cultural patterns that are unique to Korea. Sigh. I’m not very convinced. I need to hear something better so I will do it myself as usual.

    I think the only way we would get population significantly below the 11 billion projected by 2100, maybe to about 6 billion is a big change in government policies with much better access to contraception globally, better community scale healthcare and make it accessible regardless of income. (Mike made similar points) Of course higher incomes and better womens rights helps, but governments are more limited in what they can do to improve this. I think 6 billion by 2100 is realistically possible, but is probably the outer limit of what we could expect.

    I don’t mean to downplay what population policy could do because anyone intelligent should be able to see it has significant climate benefits especially if we miss Paris goals, but lets have some realism people.

  36. 86
    zebra says:

    #82 mike,

    “I think it confirms that there are many regressive and oppressive means to encourage lower population.”

    Perhaps you have been breathing too many paint fumes?

    You said you read the article, and you agreed with me. But I said that those countries were trying to increase fertility. And the article showed that it wasn’t working.

    Really, this topic does seem to make “people” a little crazy.

  37. 87
    Peter T says:

    There are a couple of observations we can make on the gatherer-farmer transition.First, it was very slow except where there was direct imitation. In Australia, for instance, aborigines modified the land through “fire-stick farming”, and in some areas encouraged grasses to select for heavier seed heads or otherwise bred plants (maize and potatoes are other good examples – they took thousands of years of human selection pressure to achieve their present forms – most of the work done by gatherers). This allowed larger human populations. You start to get hierarchies when numbers get too large (small gatherer groups are mostly fiercely egalitarian). This can happen even without agriculture – see Pacific Northwest and Catal Huyuk in Anatolia.

    The original urban centres almost all seem to have been cult sites – sacred places. So they probably functioned most as dispute resolution centres.

    Last – we are not chimpanzees. As one ethnologist observed, if you put 100 chimps in a plane you would pour out a bloody mess at the end of the flight. We are far more cooperative, far less aggressive individually – which makes us far more lethal as a group.

  38. 88
    Killian says:

    I caught so much flack for this point of view over the years, here and everywhere else.

    #EcoNuremberg

    https://jacobinmag.com/2019/02/fossil-fuels-climate-change-crimes-against-humanity

    …The Nuremberg Precedent

    …One of the best parallels for trying corporate executives for crimes against humanity might be the so-called IG Farben Trials, in which executives of the IG Farben Company — which worked with the Nazis to produce Zyklon B gas, a pesticide used extensively to kill Jews in the Holocaust — were tried before US Military Courts in Nuremberg. The company also developed several processes that aided in the Nazi war effort, like synthesizing rubber and oil out of coal. They employed slave labor provided by the Nazis, even constructing a factory just outside of Auschwitz so they could put prisoners to work.

    Farben executives and plant managers were tried on these and other charges. Just thirteen of the twenty-four indicted were found guilty, and the longest sentence anyone of them served was eight years, including time served. After prison, several went on to lucrative consulting gigs and board positions for German chemicals companies, including former subsidiaries of the now-disbanded IG Farben, and companies like Dow Chemical. After serving his four-year prison term for the “plundering and spoliation of occupied territories,” IG Farben CEO Hermann Schmitz went on to take a senior post at Deutsche Bank.

    The head of the company that would become the war’s largest distributor of Zyklon-B — Bruno Tesch — fared less well. He was tried separately before a British military tribunal and executed, alongside his second-in-command.

    Sorry, folks, but… ahead of the curve… again. At least as far back as 2009. http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/5315#comment-495300

    ;-)

  39. 89
    zebra says:

    Al Bundy,

    I’m still waiting to hear your take on my plot of per capita v population, including the differences between developed and third-world. But I thought I would bring over your walipini question from UV where it is off-topic.

    I have some experience with passive geothermal application, and this kind of “greenhouse-thinking” ties in with the different approaches that would evolve as population declines.

    There is a range of latitude along the East coast where we could certainly grow more than enough to feed the population, and with relatively simple low-energy tech like that, produce a very varied diet.

    You could build your trench system with higher tech, that would last a very long time without replacement, and easy replacement where necessary. Instead of going deep, you can insulate the ground with horizontal styrofoam sheets. How long does it last? A long time, especially if you clad it to keep out bugs. You can get 6′-down temperatures at 2′. And you can use rigid plastic with integral air spaces as glazing.

    The thing is, this kind of stuff works for buildings as well– in that same range of latitude, if you know that there’s going to be a stable or declining population, you can build long-lasting structures that are trivially heated and cooled by air-source heat pumps, if you even need that.

    And yes, long-lasting structures are what make sense in my scenario, because the flimsy crap I see still being built everywhere is driven by growing demand.

  40. 90
    mike says:

    to Z at 87: As I read the article and read the stories about how pregnant women were badly treated in employment world etc, I thought yes, there are many regressive and oppressive ways to discourage women from bearing children. That is what I was referring to.

    Yes, the government is trying to encourage a higher birth rate, but from what I skimmed at Wikipedia, the government has tried the family cap in the past for whatever reason, possibly to balance budgets, maybe as a subtle form of eugenics, who know? But I think the history is there. I think what S Korea, China and Japan show is that the fertility rate is determined by a large number of factors, many of them are deeply ingrained in culture and ideology and once the FR pattern has changed, it may become embedded in culture and prove to be hard to change by simple means at governmental disposal.

    Not breathing paint fumes. Don’t like them.

    Cheers, buddy

    Mike

  41. 91
    Al Bundy says:

    [off-topic]

  42. 92
    mike says:

    Nigel says: “I will never particularly like paying for people who choose to have huge families, and potentially encouraging this, and who waste money on drugs and booze etc. Ideally we should target financial assistance at the children somehow so it cant be wasted on booze and drugs, but I admit that is difficult.”

    First, you are ignoring the fact that we do target financial assistance at the children through benefit availability being controlled through medical care vouchers, through food stamps/coupons that can only be used to purchase certain foodstuffs, not alcohol.

    I don’t think it is very difficult to design social plans that might work better than what we currently do, but the approval for such designs runs into bias and prejudice, the application of values systems and projection as to the nature of the recipients in ways that reduce the likelihood of passage of legislation for good designs. I think you and AB are both dreaming when you project that “cash” benefits to poor and needy families are actually capable of covering the costs of living for these families and need to be resolved through lower cash benefits and targeted coverage for health services, food, etc. Living at the poverty line and below must be a harrowing experience for most of these families. Drug and alcohol treatment for the poor in the US (mental health also) are primarily addressed by incarceration.

    What can be done?

    For One: decriminalize all drugs to reduce incarceration-related costs and make drug and alcohol treatment free on demand to any person with dependency issues who voluntarily seeks treatment.

    Two: offer a generous payment to men of 18 years and over who agree to a vasectomy. The payment should be in the range of the cost of a stupid large used, 4 wheel drive truck. In the US, I think that means $5 to $8K. It’s a one time payment, so no payments to anyone foolish enough to get vasectomy reversed for a second bite at the apple.

    Three: Offer free contraceptive services, including abortion in the first 16 weeks, to all women age 10 and over. Offer generous education support benefits to women who enroll in college or reasonable vocational education. That generous education support should be in the form of housing, utility and food support vouchers with a small cash stipend (something so low that the recipients can’t drive a cadillac, because, you know.. )

    Folks who think as you do are the bastion of resistance to progressive policies that might accomplish what you profess to want. You should think hard about your projections and prejudices and research whether they have any significant statistical reality or if they are anecdotes, memes of libertarians and right wingers.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  43. 93
    nigelj says:

    Peter T

    “This allowed larger human populations. You start to get hierarchies when numbers get too large (small gatherer groups are mostly fiercely egalitarian)”

    Yes exactly. Have said it myself. This is why its so difficult for modern humans to recapture egalitarian culture. But I guess we just have to go on trying as best we can.

    Smaller neighbourhoods would help, but we need large organisations to produce any useful modern form of modern technology efficiently. Its a challenging set of opposing needs.

    “Last – we are not chimpanzees. As one ethnologist observed, if you put 100 chimps in a plane you would pour out a bloody mess at the end of the flight. We are far more cooperative, far less aggressive individually – which makes us far more lethal as a group.”

    True. We are sophisticated versions of chimps. However there are some signs of improvement as we slowly learn to be less suspicious of “other groups of people” as discussed in books like The Moral Arc and Enlightenment Now. But its a slow process.

  44. 94
    nigelj says:

    Mike @92, I’m not ignoring those food voucher schemes. We dont have them in NZ, and they are strongly resisted in NZ. One of the criticisms is food can be traded for booze. I’m thinking we should try them at least as a trial.

    I think that this is an example of the problem when we discuss these things in that our countries treat them all differently, and it creates a few misunderstandings.

    I don’t understand what you are saying about Al Bundy and my views on cash payments.

    I agree with your three suggestions, other than to say your abortion rights age of ten might be too young or need parents consent or something.

    “Folks who think as you do are the bastion of resistance to progressive policies that might accomplish what you profess to want…”

    I have no idea why you say that. Its totally wrong. Can you please give me something specific? With respect, its like you think anyone that is not hard left is hard right. Or maybe you just jump to conclusions based on one statement about targetting people.

    I live in a country that has free public health care, a decent minimum wage that is higher than in America, we are thinking of legalising cannabis. I support all these things and have promoted them in the media, and ocassionally in passing on this website.

    We are a vastly more progressive country socio-economically than America. We do far more to help poor people and so we should. But again nobody in their right mind likes paying taxes to see it wasted. Perhaps we should consider a voucher scheme.

    We recently legalised gay marriage and I strongly supported that in the media.(although I’m a hetero guy)

    Of course there are limits to what governments can do as well, and a pragmatic approach is needed. I’m not a far leftist fantasy dreamer either. And I make no apologies for that.

  45. 95
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy

    “What is the proper way to dig and glaze an earth-sheltered greenhouse with 100% permanent sustainability? Note that I pretty much wore out a shovel digging ONE 35′ x 3′ x 4′ hole for a walipini (thanks for letting me know what I built) in Atlanta (clay and rock makes for hard digging). Or is that too strict a goal?”

    If you want to make a greenhouse last a long time, use concrete or stone for the floor. They both last for ages and perfectly suit a greenhouse by becoming heat sinks.

    An aluminium frame wont rust, and will last longer than timber. It will just form a thin oxidised coating. I quite like the look without painting or anodising it.

    But timber is such a sustainable resource that rebuilding is not such an issue. So there are different ways of looking at it.

    Perhaps you meant a 100% sustainable manufacturing process? The nearest you would get is as follows, and its the extreme example. I’m not recommending it all.

    Dig the hole by hand because this is very sustainable, using preferably stone tools but perhaps a simple iron tipped tool. Use cut stone pavers for the floor (like the ancient egyptians). This uses abundant natural materials, long lasting and capable of being reused, low carbon footprint, and can be cut by hand and transported with horse and cart.

    Use timber for the frame. Very sustainable. More so than aluminium because global reserves of aluminium do have limits.

    The earliest glazed windows were made by the Romans about 100 AD, but this was just cast glass jars beaten flat into tiny little panes, and the quality was terrible, but the manufacturing process looked to be relatively sustainable by using a simple furnace and minimal manufacturing equipment.

    Of course this shows the problem of 100% sustainablity, or maximising as close as we could get. It’s near stone age or iron age technology and hugely labour intensive.

    A more realistic approach would be to dig the hole with a digger, use industrially made sheet glass, all powered by renewable energy. Use timber or recycled aluminium for the framing.

    And do you really need a greenhouse? :)

  46. 96
    carrie can't grow corn says:

    … but she’s awake :-)

    Regenerative Agriculture Can Make Farmers Stewards of the Land Again
    https://phys.org/news/2019-02-regenerative-agriculture-farmers-stewards.html

  47. 97
    Carrie says:

    Nigel says: “I will never particularly like paying for people who choose to have huge families, and potentially encouraging this, and who waste money on drugs and booze etc. Ideally we should target financial assistance at the children somehow so it cant be wasted on booze and drugs, but I admit that is difficult.”

    It’s a pity you can’t also admit how pathological that kind of thinking is let alone imagining it’s an ‘A OK’ thing to be saying in public. Meanwhile folks can’t seem to grasp why agreeing with the best course of solutions for AGW/CC are so intractable. Weird. Sad and weird. Apparently chimpanzee thinking is alive and well in humanity.

    (I knew that already, but thanks for the apt reminder. ) (smile)

  48. 98
    Carrie Cries says:

    86 zebra says: “Really, this topic does seem to make “people” a little crazy.”

    Hey Z. Do me a little favour would you please? Track this topic back to who started it and who keeps bringing it up endlessly would ya! Then repeat the above quote a hundred times in the mirror.

    Then go start your own blog site. ;-)

  49. 99
    Killian says:

    Too large? What is too large? There were people throughout the Amazon, likely egalitarian, in the pre-C era.

    There are currently about 16,000 in Cheran, Mexico.

    Y’all talk as if you have this all nailed down, but not even close.

    “but we need large organisations to produce any useful modern form of modern technology efficiently.”

    Why do we need to? And how big? Seems to me there’s this place in Spain that’s pretty big, quite successful… Money dragon or something…

    Y’all talk as if you have this all nailed down, but not even close.

  50. 100
    zebra says:

    mike,

    When you suggest paying men to have vasectomies as a way to reduce population, that pretty much puts you in the same weird, science-and-reality defying place as many others here.

    Somehow what that article tells us eluded you:

    I don’t want the physical pain of childbirth. And it would be detrimental to my career.”

    Like many young adults in South Korea’s hyper-competitive job market, Yun-hwa, a web comic artist, has worked hard to get where she is and isn’t ready to let all that hard graft go to waste.

    “Rather than be part of a family, I’d like to be independent and live alone and achieve my dreams,” she says.

    Yun-hwa isn’t the only young Korean woman who sees career and family as mutually exclusive.

    It is remarkable to me that you guys who have been battling Denialists all these years can’t recognize the phenomenon in yourselves. I gave the list on TFR, and pointed out that disparate cultures– China, Iran, Canada, Germany, for example– all had low TFR.

    What science-oriented people do is look for an underlying characteristic to explain that. You’ve hit on… all those young guys in those countries are desperate to get a used pickup truck, so they had vasectomies. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Those other people, the ones who aren’t guys, they sit at home forlorn, because of the global sperm shortage not allowing them to reproduce.

    Brilliant analysis, mike.

    And then there’s:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/hungary-is-so-desperate-for-kids-mothers-of-four-wont-pay-income-tax/2019/02/11/04701764-2e01-11e9-ac6c-14eea99d5e24_story.html?utm_term=.f6cd1950f562

    Huh. Let’s see, they must be trying to get all those men to reverse their vasectomies, right?