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Forced responses: Jun 2020

Filed under: — group @ 11 June 2020

Open thread on climate solutions. Please try and stay within a mile or two of the overall topic.

378 Responses to “Forced responses: Jun 2020”

  1. 351
    nigelj says:

    Oscar Wehmanen @346

    “As I see it – The bottom line is sustainability. That leads to population. Maybe 4 billion max. So the question becomes – How do we get from 7+ billion to 4- billion without destroying civilization?Gaia’s answer seems to include war and disease and famine.Our problem is to find a solution that actually preserves human values.”

    Good points. Studies on the ideal global population suggest from 2-5 billion. My view is you have to balance economies of scale with sufficient specialisation. And look at the amazing progress in the industrial revolution when the population of Europe was only in the millions , so I think we could get by with 2 billion people globally. It would hugely reduce virtually all environmental problems.

    Population growth has been slowing since the 1960s, and the median trend is that population will level out at 11 billion by the end of this century based on a fertility rate falling from 2.5 to 1.9. (Refer “projections of population growth ” on wikipedia.) Just get the fertility rate down to about 1.5 over the next decade or two and you get to about 9 billion by 2100, and then it FALLS to two billion people by about the year 2200. Others have posted some good information on all this like Zebra.

    It would not be hard for governments to incentivise a fertility rate of 1.5 with tax concessions or similar devices. It might also go that way by itself and I do admit governments might be reluctant to intervene. But either way no need to force people, or destroy civilisation. The economy will not collapse.

    The one problem is the demographic bulge of dependent elderly. But I think we will just have to find a way of dealing with that with humane policies like economic policies, aged care, robots or whatever. The benefits of slower population growth and even falling population look like they outweigh the negatives.

  2. 352
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Nigelj,
    My response to Killian was mainly directed toward his advocacy of regenerative ag. I am not as convinced as he is that it will be a cure-all. I don’t think that a cure-all exists. However, I think it could be part of the solution…if a solution exists. I am sure that some of what he posts is pure bullshit–e.g. some of his diatribes against economics. Economics is real even if much of what is published in the field is ideological crap.

    WRT your other post and response to my questions:
    1)The issue of consumption and growth of technology is a difficult one. If we want to decrease consumption, then we have to design things to last. If we want to improve well being, than we want to diffuse technology into peoples’ lives as quickly as possible (we see this with cell phones, which now have lifetimes comparable to dairy products). The only mitigation I see is to design for recyclability, but even this is not a solution, since recycling is energy intensive. Also in much of the developing world, improving living standards is directly linked to increased consumption. In the last decade or so just two technologies–cheap, compact solar panels and especially cell phones–have done more to improve peoples’ lives than anything since the introduction of antibiotics.

    2) That’s just the thing–if you don’t have growth, savings for education and retirement can only grow linearly with time! Investing for retirement becomes a zero-sum game where if I benefit from a trade with you, then you lose. It is a very different way of looking at the subject, and it would necessitate both care for the elderly and education becoming more economical–something that has proven extremely difficult over time. If we don’t all get helper robots, I don’t see how we do it.

    3)And yet many people–especially on the right–view both UBI and income redistribution as extremely unfair. And if there’s one thing we’ve found out from things like welfare and affirmative action, they will do whatever they can to fuck up a system they consider unfair. And I suspect that as we transform our economy toward sustainability, we will be placing many demands on our population. How do we motivate them to work hard if they don’t view the system as fairly rewarding that work?

    4)This is an area I’ve given a lot of thought to, as I deal a lot with new microelectronics technologies in my day job. Moore’s law was largely driven by scaling of CMOS technology–a near-cookbook recipe one could follow to develop the next generation of technology. Follow the recipe or get close and it would work. That lasted until about 2005, when classical scaling failed. And yet Moore’s law goes on–driven now by innovation, rather than scaling. As near as I can tell, it is driven by nothing but economics–electronics companies know they have to stay on Moore’s Law to be viable, and somehow they do. This is nearly incredible to me. I’m a bit less clear why Rosenfeld’s Law works, and the growth rate in energy efficiency per $ of GDP is much less impressive (~1% per year), but it does seem to hold up. Could this be accelerated? Could we push the underlying drivers and get faster growth? Are there other such trends we could exploit? I don’t see similar growth in the health sector, but that could be because it is dominated at present by bloodsucking rent seekers.

    The reason why I emphasize this is because I think that improvement of wellbeing in the future is going to be reliant on such trends. Understanding them may well be the key to making a sustainable economy work.

    WRT a lower population–yes, I think that a lower population would significantly ameliorate many of the issues we face. However, there’s an intermediate phase which is problematic–the shrinking population. A shrinking population presents significant challenges. It will, of necessity become an increasingly older and less productive population, as people age out of the workforce with no one to replace them. You have fewer working people to support an ever larger group of retirees–or if you increase the age of retirement fewer young people swimming among an ocean of older, disgruntled, slower old farts. What are the consequences for politics? What are the consequences for innovation? Countries with declining population tend to be stagnant (viz. Japan, many countries in Eastern Europe… and China is starting to feel the effects of their ill-conceived one-child policy).
    What I have seen so far convinces me that the best way to lower population is by educating women. It increases the age where a woman has her first child; it decreases the number of children a woman has both because of she is older and because it decreases infant mortality; it decreases the number of women who choose to have children; it likely improves educational outcomes for the children born to such educated women. It also gives women more control over their own reproductive process. The long gestational period for humans coupled with our slow development to maturity and need for parenting is probably the most significant bottleneck to increasing human population. It makes most sense to capitalize on that inherent limitation in our attempts to regulate that population. Anything that improves the lot of women–especially poor women–improves the prospects of humanity.

  3. 353

    #348 & 9–

    Yes! Those are some of the issues with zero-growth which we really need to come to grips with.

    In the current moment, I think the inequality issue–Ray’s Question #3–is probably most pertinent, as it has been a major influence on the UNFCCC process since the days of the Kyoto Protocol, with ‘underdeveloped’ nations unwilling to accept an economic inequality cemented in place by potential restrictions on energy use. Indeed, a main reason why they agreed to the Paris Accord was the ‘out’ represented by (mostly) emissions-free modern RE.

    But it bites on all scales–something I think likely to be increasingly in focus in the US as our inequality becomes still more scandalous than it already is. (And it will, at least over the short term, because at best it is going to take a while to climb out of the economic Covid hole our fragile social mechanisms have dug for us–and that doesn’t even necessarily address the structural reforms needed.)

    I’m less troubled by Question #2–the support of dependent persons–because I don’t think that it’s actually driving the growth problem. (I could be wrong about that–I’m making the assessment, I acknowledge, on a pretty evidence-free basis at present. Still–humans supported dependent persons for many millennia during which there was no such thing as economic growth.)

    I think fundamentally, human needs (in a relatively strict sense) are finite. That was the significance of my earlier homage to David Newman, “the man who had enough.” It may perhaps be the significance of Marie Kondo, too. Her criterion–“Does this object bring you joy?” may be highly inviting as a target for parodists, but that’s because it cuts right to the point: “Does this object truly have value for you, or is the idea of “possession” in fact possessing you?”

    Note that Killian’s solution cuts in right at this point: he posits as a beginning point the minimal physical requirements for survival, and starts consideration from there. Personally, I find that much too minimalistic to be realistic: if modern Vietnam, say, isn’t satisfied to live as they do–and they certainly aren’t, as a nation–then they certainly are not going to be willing to step down to the bare physical minimum instead.

    However, that doesn’t mean that one couldn’t define a reasonable, workable, even potentially salable “enough.”

    Question #1 is a $64 one: fundamentally, I don’t think the conceptual framework to fully address this question yet exists. (At least, my inconstant searches haven’t revealed it to me.) Clearly, at some point zero population growth is a necessity, and ditto zero energy growth. But does that mean zero *economic* growth?

    I would say “No” in principle, because quality is not entirely correlated with cost: a great song, for example, can have a much lower carbon footprint than a terrible one. (If the idea of a song’s carbon footprint seems strange, please ask me about working stagehand gigs for touring shows.) If we placed value on ‘things’ requiring little material, energetic, or environmental cost, in theory we could have quite a lot of scope for economic growth.

    But could it be made to work in practice, given human nature and our very real material needs? And could we “get there from here”? Much more doubtful. Indeed, it’s not easy to fully imagine what a world of ‘insubstantial’ economic growth might look like. So it could be a ‘unicorn’–possible in theory, but unreal. I’d give a lot to know the answer.

    Which leaves Question #4, which I see as intimately linked to #3. Economic valuation is a function of price, which ultimately comes down to “what people are willing to pay for”–in other words, what we value. And that comes down to what we think we need, what we want, and what we think we can achieve. Moore’s Law–much to the surprise of many who failed to anticipate such things as the enduring appeal of the cute cat Facebook video–has been driven by strong demand for cheap computational power. So at this point I’m with nigel; there are ways in which this is happening now.

    The corollary question that bothers me is this: can we dissociate value from the ‘lowest common denominator?’

    Be the answer what it may, in principle one could imagine Question 4 being addressed via a cap-and-trade mechanism applied globally. The details would be fiendish to work out, but if there were an allowable Environmental Damage Index value with meaningful enforced limits, and economic choice was free as long as one were under that cap, I believe people would find ways to increase the personal utility of their available choice on a pretty consistent basis. That would by definition constitute economic growth (per discussion under #2 & #4 above.)

  4. 354

    While heedlessly feeding the troll, nigelj made an interesting claim and point @341:

    Where I differ from The Aleut is I want a world with modern technology, and not added on reluctantly as some temporary bridge, (which is how you come across) but for as long as possible. Sure tech. wont last forever, that’s obvious.

    It’s far from obvious to me.

    Consider the technologies we had in 1920:  primitive vacuum tubes (the first feature-length “talkie” wasn’t until 1927), not terribly impressive internal combustion engines, piston steam engines and early steam turbines, relatively small AC electric grids, incandescent and arc lights.  Uranium was a yellow glaze for ceramics, silicon was probably used mostly in metallurgy, most energy came from coal.  Wind power was a historical curiosity, solar power was far too complicated and expensive to get any traction.  Data storage was mostly on paper or punch cards.

    Today, we put a billion transistors on one silicon die and store dozens of gigabytes on a single EEPROM chip.  Our power electronics are increasingly moving to silicon carbide technology.  Uranium supplies almost 20% of US electric power, closer to 60% of Ontario’s and well over 70% of France’s; it could have supplied that much of the world’s power except we ignored the looming climate problem in the 1970’s.  The internal combustion engine remains problematic but is vastly cleaner and more powerful, and is increasingly being supplanted by electric motors.  Wind and solar power are more than curiosities but are being pressed into roles they aren’t suited for.

    The near-term future has some very promising things coming.  Graphene went from theoretic in 1947 to discovery in 2004.  Today it seems like a molecule that can do everything from atomic-thickness transistors to desalinating water.  Graphene is an electric conductor, graphene oxide is an insulator.  We can make carbon nanotubes straight from CO2 and electricity.  Can we run out of carbon or oxygen or silicon?  Does carbon-based tech have any lifespan limits?

    This is just a hint of what’s coming.  About the only way we won’t have miracles over the next 100 years is if we go all Idiocracy, and that’s not a technological problem.

    That’s the hand humanity has been dealt.

    Except we keep adding cards to it; we’ve printed several deck’s worth in the last century alone.

    We have to come up with solutions to mitigate the fact tech, wont last forever and the impact of industrialisation on the environment.

    Now THAT I can agree with 100%.  One of the reasons I’m so firmly pro-nuclear is that it has such a tiny footprint.  It doesn’t require the vast clear areas and transmission rights-of-way that wind farms cannot do without, and it can be made walk-away safe.  Letting us leave much more land undisturbed (not to mention fixing the climate) is the best way to set the stage for a livable world in which tech has to be abandoned.

  5. 355

    Ray Ladbury writes @348:

    how do we support an aging population–particularly if life expectancies continue to increase? How do we support children before they become productive?

    Are you kidding?  Our problem is the lack of suitable employment for everyone, because too many idle hands create hell on earth.  The first move was a ban on child labor and mandatory schooling now extended through K-12.  The second step required extending adolescence even more, by putting far more people through college than can really benefit from it.  It serves the purpose of keeping them occupied instead of competing with adults for scarce jobs.

    These things are roughly at their limits.  What sort of make-work comes next I don’t know, but we’re going to need it very soon.  The rapid rise of robots and electronic automation of what’s now termed “paperwork” is going to render many millions not just unemployed but likely unemployable in all first-world economies.  Maybe some can be put to work babysitting or in elder care, but a great many are too impatient, impulsive or violent for those jobs either.

  6. 356

    Kevin McKinney got to it @353:

    I would say “No” in principle, because quality is not entirely correlated with cost: a great song, for example, can have a much lower carbon footprint than a terrible one. (If the idea of a song’s carbon footprint seems strange, please ask me about working stagehand gigs for touring shows.)

    You hit it there, man.  Human existence is about far more than things, especially about masses of things.  Quality of life relies on quantities only so far as there is quantity of humanity, and we already have far more quantity of humanity than this planet can support.  (I write as I squash and kill a bug crawling on my screen, a bug of which this planet could support trillions easily.  Do they have less right to it than we do?)

    If we placed value on ‘things’ requiring little material, energetic, or environmental cost, in theory we could have quite a lot of scope for economic growth.

    True.  There is only so much matter a human can really encompass.  But data?  I can personally attest to the amount of text and music I can encompass… and that requires a trivial amount of this planet’s plenty.  Furthermore, I can share a great deal of it wthout diminishing a bit of it, and I am preparing to do so for people I consider my friends.

  7. 357
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury @352

    “My response to Killian was mainly directed toward his advocacy of regenerative ag. I am not as convinced as he is that it will be a cure-all. I don’t think that a cure-all exists. However, I think it could be part of the solution…if a solution exists. I am sure that some of what he posts is pure bullshit–e.g. some of his diatribes against economics. Economics is real even if much of what is published in the field is ideological crap.”

    Agreed. I said much the same @310. IMO regnerative agriculture has definite merit, but the advocates ascribe near magical properties to it which I just cannot swallow. The only hard evidence I could find suggests its lower productivity than industrial farming, for which I was called every possible name under the sun. But it seems more useful to get the downsides out in the open, and figure out how to mitigate them, while keeping the key attributes of regenerative agriculture. You can’t hide the downsides for very long.

    I’m sure there will be answers and subtle trade offs, eg: apparently reduced till farming (as opposed to no till farming) has virtually no negative effects on productivity, according to a quality research study I read somewhere. Regenerative farming needs a dose of scientific scrutiny. If its as good as it claims, it has nothing to fear.

    His diatribe against economics annoyed me because I had just finished reading a textbook on the subject out of interest, and its obviously not bullshit. Micro economics and market theory seems hard to refute. The problems appear to be a) Industrialisation and growth economy and its impacts ( and here I agree with Killian to a point) b) the quality and poor reliability of the economic modelling and its predictions and c) the obsession with privatising and deregulating everything.

    I’m definitely not a fan of government owning truly massive chunks of the economy, but if our government had not built a railway network to open the country up in the 1800’s we would probably be a banana republic. Your private sector health system seems very problematic. Economists need a dose of commonsense at times and bit of a metaphorical kick in the posterior. Its more complex than they think.

    “1)The only mitigation I see is to design for recyclability, but even this is not a solution, since recycling is energy intensive. ”

    Really? About half of all copper used is recycled, because thats the cheapest, lowest energy option, so maybe it depends on the material. We should at least dump things in a way that will be easy for future generations to find and recover. Fortunately things like aircraft are parked in the desert. And some materials shortages seem inevitable to me sooner or later , so as such we will have no option but to recycle.

    “Also in much of the developing world, improving living standards is directly linked to increased consumption. In the last decade or so just two technologies–cheap, compact solar panels and especially cell phones–have done more to improve peoples’ lives than anything since the introduction of antibiotics.”

    Yes and small micro loans and things like apple pay and money stored on phones. I think the third world must be allowed to continue to grow if they want. We have no right to preach low growth and reduced consumption to them given their situation, not that anyone appears to be doing this. Although they might want to consider whether rampant consumerism is the best option. I like KMs comments on this sort of issue, there definutely seems to be a sweet spot of the level of consumerism.

    “2) That’s just the thing–if you don’t have growth, savings for education and retirement can only grow linearly with time! Investing for retirement becomes a zero-sum game where if I benefit from a trade with you, then you lose….if we don’t all get helper robots, I don’t see how we do it.”

    But as EP points out AI is likely to create surplus labour. The problem is affording enough healthcare in a zero growth, zero sum game economy. But I cant see what we can do right now to improve the situation.

  8. 358
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury @352 (continued)

    “3)And yet many people–especially on the right–view both UBI and income redistribution as extremely unfair…… How do we motivate them to work hard if they don’t view the system as fairly rewarding that work?”

    Yes they resent these things. Yet the only societies that have pushed inequality down have done so with tax and redistribution plans like you Americans did back in the 1960’s and 1970s. And unemployment was very low as well, so it didnt discourage work. And the right wing went along with it until they threw a giant tantrum in the 1980s.

    But playing Devls advocate, perhaps the key problem is NOT inequality. At best it discourages economc growth and economic growth is doomed anyway. Perhaps the key problem is poverty, and its probably easier to sell redistribution policies to conservatives to combat poverty. Some conservatives support this in Europe and where I live enough for it to be politically viable at quite a high level.

    “4)This is an area I’ve given a lot of thought to, as I deal a lot with new microelectronics technologies in my day job. ….And yet Moore’s law goes on–driven now by innovation, rather than scaling. As near as I can tell, it is driven by nothing but economics–electronics companies know they have to stay on Moore’s Law to be viable, and somehow they do. This is nearly incredible to me. I’m a bit less clear why Rosenfeld’s Law works, and the growth rate in energy efficiency per $ of GDP is much less impressive (~1% per year), but it does seem to hold up. Could this be accelerated? Could we push the underlying drivers and get faster growth? Are there other such trends we could exploit? I don’t see similar growth in the health sector, but that could be because it is dominated at present by bloodsucking rent seekers.”

    Firstly I’ve literally just been reading The Economist dated July 18th, and it mentions the latest advance to push Moores law is a fix for the electron leakage problem with thin film amorphous boron nitride, something like graphene. Whatever this is exactly its not my field, but it certainly proves your point.

    Now Im playing devils advocate here because I want you to be right. The problem is things related to the human body like automobiles because you cant shrink these much smaller than they are, and thus you can only reduce the materials content so much. And cars havent really got much smaller and only moderatly lighter, and the industry is competitive, no rent seeking. And how much thinner can we make body shells? I guess theres potential for improvement, but it makes me wonder if Moores laws astonishing achievements are a one off related to the nature of the product.

    There is scope to make clothing thinner and thinner, with artificial fabrics, but people like natural fabrics and a feeling of bulk, and they are inherently more sustainable than high tech fabrics. That is the other side of what you propose. Im not saying youre wrong because I tend to be a fan of technology, but I guess Im looking at the other side of it.

    “WRT a lower population–yes…..You have fewer working people to support an ever larger group of retirees–or if you increase the age of retirement fewer young people swimming among an ocean of older, disgruntled, slower old farts. What are the consequences for politics? What are the consequences for innovation? ”

    Yes I mentioned a similar thing back @352.

    “What I have seen so far convinces me that the best way to lower population is by educating women. ”

    Yes womens rights are the key, but also easy access to contraceptives. Some African country made contraceptives free, and it had a dramatic effect on reducing population growth even although womens rights were not that great, but I cant find the study. And womens rights need improving for many other reasons.

  9. 359
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @354

    “While heedlessly feeding the troll”

    I’m moderatly thick skinned if people want to rubbish what I say, but that crap from Killian was over the top and undeserved, especially false acusations that I lied. I wont ignore that.

    I’m sure you would be right about future technology. Im inherently an optimist as well. That said, we do face very significant supply limits with things like Iridium, Cobalt and the rare earths etc, as I previously mentioned. We probably wont run out completely as such, but its a bit hard for me to see 10 billion people all owning 60 inch televisions forever and ever. Thats what I was getting at. Ive already said what I think the best solutions are.

  10. 360
    Killian says:

    Re 348 Ray Ladbury: ask why growth plays such a critical role in every economic system humans have developed.

    GIGO. Fact: It hasn’t.

    This is why you cannot make valid analyses of the future: GIGO.

    Unless you understand economics in *all* its forms, not just those you find palatable – or maybe you’re ignorant of? – you cannot understand the parameters that *can* be set for future economics and will continue to flail about trying to square economics into round ecosystems.

  11. 361
    Killian says:

    GIGO: 4) Presumably, technological advancement can improve quality of life and standards of living. Is there a way of reflecting that in economic statistics? Is there a way of fostering and accelerating technological growth in at least some sectors of the economy–e.g. Moore’s law in electronics or Rosenfeld’s law for energy efficiency.

    Tainter. ‘Nuff said.

    Get reality-based, people, or get extinct.

  12. 362
    Killian says:

    350 nigelj: Ray Ladbury @344, Im surprised you agree with what Killian posts in terms of content. While I accept some of his points, there are some obvious problems with others, and Im not alone thinking that. Not sure why you can’t see them.

    He and I always have, he simply chose to pretend otherwise as part of the groupthink Peanut Gallery. I have addressed his rabid treatment of a natural ally repeatedly over the years.

    The issue here is, you are clueless, he is not. You argue from what you wish and assume, not even bothering to understand the hard limits and *at least* acknowledge them then go your way with your dystopian, suicidal view people will choose extinction because to not do so is inconvenient.

    I.e., Ray’s problem is personal. He’s emotionally attached to the drama, as with all groupthink.

  13. 363
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Zebra@320,
    As to our current system of economics–well pick one. Whether capitalist, communist, socialist, top-down, bottom-up…, they all rely on growth for stability and viability. The reason is that growth solves a lot of problems that are otherwise very difficult to solve. You can still make an argument that a system with unequal distribution of wealth is “fair” because in a growing system, there is opportunity to grab a bigger slice of a growing pie.

    Rather than look globally at an economic system, let’s look at a single person’s finances. Now, imagine this person saving to put a child through college or saving for retirement or both–with no interest on savings and no capital gains. Now presumably, they could expect a dividend from an investment, but the dividend couldn’t grow over time. At best, savings could grow linearly with time, and everything you invested for your present would detract from your current well being. When asked what the greatest invention of mankind was, Einstein responded, “Compound interest.” He wasn’t wrong, but compound interest is not possible in an economy without growth unless one steals from a whole bunch of other people. What is more, the potential for profit provides a motivation for investment. If profits cannot grow with time, where is the incentive to invest? Investment is essential if technology is to advance.

    So, right there, rational interest motivates growth. And that’s even before you bring in very human, if irrational motivations like greed, rent-seeking, laziness of the idle rich, envy.

    Moreover, positing a global population of 300 million scattered about the globe in some equitable fashion misses the real challenge: Somehow, we’d have to get from 7.6 billion now, or likely 10 billion by 2050 down to 300 million by some time in the future before we reduce the carrying capacity of the planet to 100 million. That means that we’d be living in a global economy that not only wasn’t growing, but was shrinking! Getting older. Less productive. And probably more conservative. Look at the countries where population is shrinking. They aren’t thriving. Look at the epochs when human population declined–they weren’t fun.

    There’s a reason why no one has developed an economic system that doesn’t require growth for stability: It’s a bitch of a problem. It is difficult enough to imagine what such a system would look like–let alone how we transition to it while still preserving democratic and humanitarian ideals.

    EP@255: “Our problem is the lack of suitable employment for everyone, because too many idle hands create hell on earth.”

    I quite agree. The sooner we can find suitable work for all the CEOs, vulture capitalists, lobbyists, politicians and lawyers, the better. OTOH, most people I know who are near the bottom of the dogpile we call an economy are just barely scraping by working 3 jobs and 80 hours a week. Maybe we could pay them a living wage and cut them back to 40 hours a week and Peter Thiel could take a shift washing dishes?

  14. 364
    Killian says:

    310 nigelj brayed.

    Same stupid shit, different day. Not worthy of more response.

    312 Kevin McKinney: nigel–

    “Killian creates confusion.”

    Indeed he does.

    False. You cannot state even one case of me contradicting myself. It is the Peanut Gallery that cannot be bothered to educate themselves, thus constantly arguing against their own survival. You don’t *want* to accept the true risk, so you do all you can to avoid it.

    My decision to put him permanently on the ‘scroll past’ list was prompted by what seemed to me to be a simple request for clarification

    Your clarification: Is indefinite really indefinite, or is it shorter than that? Gaslighting, lying. These are bad things to do.

    I’d been putting up with it for many years now, going back to those ccpo days of yore.

    Gaslighting and lying: You can I had never had any conflicts until I called you on your involvement in that stupid-assed lobbying group. THEN and only then was there any problem between us. I don’t even remember you until around the time nigel arrived, so, no, we didn’t have any significant (any?) conflict till then.

    You asked a stupid question and were called out for not responding to the question by nothing more than “Nonresponsive.” YOU turned it into an issue at that point.

    Time for your big boy pants. Up to you.

    314 nigelj:
    Kevin McKinney @312

    “It’s a shame, though, because we desperately need a serious, thoughtful consideration of what a sustainable society would really look like. ”

    Yet, when set on that path, threw a fucking hissy fit because he was told jhis non-response was a non-response. Kevin is full of crap.

    I agree. Look up “sustainable development goals” on wikipedia. This is the United Nations work on the issue if you haven’t come across them alread. It’s as good as any

    LOL… you understand absolutely nothing if you buy this load of crap. Read #8, carefully. It’s equal to saying we’re going to build an all-electric vehicle with a gas engine included.

    wasting less vs conserving the biosphere

    Wasting less means still wasting, but we’re going to simultaneously keep using the biosphere and save it.

    Give this man a NoBell.

    recycling

    Which, to maintain even a significant fraction of consumption, must be built out globally, massively, and at a rate of speed humanity has never, ever achieved before.

    But my thinking is unrealistic in saying JUST STOP USING STUFF WE DO NOT ACTUALLY NEED TO MEET NEEDS.

    No need to invoke things like permaculture design or regenerative design as primary tools. They flow from ideas about waste and recycling.

    Yet nothing he says gets to the point of fitting within those bounds. Ergo, one must conclude…? He’s talking out of both sides of his mouth or hasn’t a freaking clue.

    “And the idea of deliberately chosen simplicity seems highly germane to me, precisely because the central tenet of conventional economics is the counterfactual assumption of infinite substitutability….So “simplification” is striking at the root of the problem (that is to say, it is in the strict sense “radical”.)”

    I merely point out 1. Kevin finally agreeing with everything I’ve ever said, yet, 2. he balked at having that discussion because he chose to not respond then whined about being told he hadn’t responded.

    What, then, is Kevin’s true agenda?

    352 Ray Ladbury: My response to Killian was mainly directed toward his advocacy of regenerative ag. I am not as convinced as he is that it will be a cure-all.

    There must be a yearly How to Use a Straw Man Argument convention I have never heard of. This is a wildly inaccurate statement of what I have advocated for a full freaking decade. A decade. You people learn really slowly, or just don want to learn at all.

    2) That’s just the thing–if you don’t have growth, savings for education and retirement can only grow linearly with time! Investing for retirement becomes a zero-sum game where if I benefit from a trade with you, then you lose.

    He walks right over the corpse of Capitalism – and all the other ~isms – yet doesn’t even notice.

    How do we motivate them to work hard

    Indeed… https://libcom.org/library/why-hunter-gatherers-work-play-peter-gray

    So, you might consider that whole “new paradigm” thing and that Regenerative Giovernance covers every single aspect any question any of you ever raise. You know, like no other system yet devised…

    I mean, I just have to laugh at people touting doughnut economics and constantly lambasting me…. shows deep, deep ignorance of both my work and that of Raworth’s.

    I’m a bit less clear why Rosenfeld’s Law works, and the growth rate in energy efficiency per $ of GDP is much less impressive (~1% per year), but it does seem to hold up. Could this be accelerated? Could we push the underlying drivers and get faster growth? Are there other such trends we could exploit? I don’t see similar growth in the health sector, but that could be because it is dominated at present by bloodsucking rent seekers.

    The reason why I emphasize this is because I think that improvement of wellbeing in the future is going to be reliant on such trends.

    So….. the happiest, healthiest, most mentally and emotionally fit are those not living under technology, but let’s just ignore that.

    Kevin: the growth rate in energy efficiency per $ of GDP is much less impressive (~1% per year), but it does seem to hold up. Could this be accelerated? Could we push the underlying drivers and get faster growth?…

    The reason why I emphasize this is because I think that improvement of wellbeing in the future is going to be reliant on such trends.

    Never even considers that simplicity *is* the improvement to well-being.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/200906/play-makes-us-human-ii-achieving-equality

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/200906/play-makes-us-human-iv-when-work-is-play

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/freedom-learn/200907/play-makes-us-human-v-why-hunter-gatherers-work-is-play

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/200907/play-makes-us-human-vi-hunter-gatherers-playful-parenting

    ….economics, economics, economics….

    Dear god…

    Where I differ from The Aleut is I want a world with modern technology

    Because what you want is the primary design principle…

    and not added on reluctantly as some temporary bridge

    Added on…. as if Embedded Energy doesn’t exist already…

    for as long as possible.

    And, apparently, I want to just shitcan it all tomorrow… though I have never uttered anything even remotely in that vein. A Straw Man, ladies and gents, is a lie.

    Sure tech. wont last forever, that’s obvious.

    Suddenly me being right is obvious! Great! Yet still the negotiating with Nature and reality to twist facts into wished-for fantasy.

    NOTE: So, because of my questions you are finally having the conversation I have been saying you MUST have as a prerequisite to any sensible discussion of mitigation and adaptation.

    You’ll surely not see the irony because…

    you collectively responded to a request to go carefully and simply step by step in order to lay down the First Order and First Principles constraints to the conversation with FUCK YOU and think that asking you to ONLY answer the question asked is somehow offensive, and 10x more offensive to simply state you had not, in fact, responded.

    You people are a piece of work.

    However, I recognize the sincere attempt here to have a conversation. You are fucking it up completely by jumping over those First Order and First Principles constraints to the conversation, but at least you are trying.

    We will start again soon and get this back on track. Who knows, you may even decide to not blow it all up just for the hell of it this time.

  15. 365
    David B. Benson says:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenfeld%27s_law

    Never heard of it before now.

  16. 366
    zebra says:

    #363 Ray Ladbury,

    Ray, I don’t know if you saw my comment referencing this on the “somebody read the comments” thread. But you are validating my point there; if even a physicist is reluctant to engage in a thought experiment in order to examine underlying principles, my hope to move beyond rhetorical ambiguity seems a pretty vain one.

    You talk about growth as the most likely way to solve some problems, and about “exponential growth of consumption”. Well, I simply disagree that these things are fundamental and/or inevitable.

    I offered this scenario where population is stable and resources are abundant relative to the population, and I’m asking you to “show me” some of the problems you suggest in that context. Seriously, I just don’t see it, but I’m willing to be enlightened if we can start with a mutual “warrant” or “framing”, to use the fancy terminology.

    And as I said originally, I’m well aware of the difficulties involved in “getting there” on population… but that’s not the point of the exercise now.

  17. 367
  18. 368
    nigelj says:

    Killian @362

    “350 nigelj: Ray Ladbury @344, Im surprised you agree with what Killian posts in terms of content. While I accept some of his points, there are some obvious problems with others, and Im not alone thinking that. Not sure why you can’t see them”

    “He and I always have, he simply chose to pretend otherwise as part of the groupthink Peanut Gallery. I have addressed his rabid treatment of a natural ally repeatedly over the years.”

    Ray Ladburys comments @352 would strongly suggest he DOESN’T entirely agree with you” My response to Killian was mainly directed toward his advocacy of regenerative ag. I am not as convinced as he is that it will be a cure-all. I don’t think that a cure-all exists. However, I think it could be part of the solution…if a solution exists. I am sure that some of what he posts is pure bullshit–e.g. some of his diatribes against economics. Economics is real even if much of what is published in the field is ideological crap.”

    Indeed I have said much the same on these pages.

    “The issue here is, you are clueless, he is not. You argue from what you wish and assume, not even bothering to understand the hard limits and *at least* acknowledge them ”

    And yet I have clearly acknowledged the hard limits all over this very page numerous times for example at 349,339,332,318,and 315 and others and previously numerous times on the FR thread. So what can I conclude? You cant read? you dont read? You dont comprehend? you are a liar? You tell me.

    “then go your way with your dystopian, suicidal view people will choose extinction because to not do so is inconvenient.”

    Mineral resource limits drive the human race to extinction? Doesn’t look likely. Some people live today without using these resources. Of course the limits can bring us plenty of trouble which is why I advocate we waste less, get the size of population down, and before it becomes a big problem, but I dont think the situation justifies in abandoning an industrial civilisation as some have claimed. I do acknowledge you appear to want to keep a a little bit of modern industry for core functions.

    If we breach the limits of the BIOSPHERE we would be risking extinction because we have to eat and drink. This is partly a population problem and partly a lifestyle problem and partly an industrialisation problem, and the solutions are a bit more complicated than you think but also include the population issue and wasting less. Regenerative agriculture can play a big part, but we have to find ways of mitigating the downsides of regenerative agriculture.

    And I have NEVER said people WILL choose any particular way, simply that not many people are choosing to live as simply as you would appear to like in places like America, and it doesn’t look likely that the would go that way in mass.

    It looks likely to me that they might go half way, and I encourage people to do the best they can, for example my comments on passive solar housing to Adam Lea a few posts back, another post you conveniently ignore.

    I always start by facing reality, ALL of reality of the human condition and the world, not just resource ‘limits’.

  19. 369
    nigelj says:

    Oh and what a classic. Killian falsely accuses me of not acknowledging and understanding hard limits, and almost right above his silly comment I said “That said, we do face very significant supply limits with things like Iridium, Cobalt and the rare earths etc, as I previously mentioned (at least twice earlier in this thread).” I sometimes wonder if he can read.

  20. 370
    nigelj says:

    Ray Ladbury @363

    “Whether capitalist, communist, socialist, top-down, bottom-up…, they all rely on growth for stability and viability. The reason is that growth solves a lot of problems that are otherwise very difficult to solve. ….If profits cannot grow with time, where is the incentive to invest?…There’s a reason why no one has developed an economic system that doesn’t require growth for stability: ”

    And without economic growth, how will countries pay of the huge debt mountain? Well they could write it off and might have to. Ouch, that will hurt.

    Economic growth has been tied to mineral extraction and its inevitable this will slow because the resource base is finite. Is it possible to keep growth going at least for a long time in the services sector that is not tied to finite resources so much, more to how we do things? And the digital economy as others mention?

    “(population growth) That means that we’d be living in a global economy that not only wasn’t growing, but was shrinking! Getting older. Less productive. And probably more conservative. Look at the countries where population is shrinking. They aren’t thriving. Look at the epochs when human population declined–they weren’t fun.”

    Good argument. Sounds like Japan, but while they aren’t super dynamic, they are actually doing ok. If anything, its their culture of conformity that holds them back a bit.

    And we have this nasty choice of 1),a growing population and vibrant society and 2) a growing population and more and more environmental problems that become harder to mitigate in other ways. And it cant grow forever anyway. I vote for stopping population growth and letting it fall, and finding another way to make society vibrant. If we cant figure out, how we are a bit hopeless.

  21. 371
    nigelj says:

    Killian @364

    “I agree. Look up “sustainable development goals” on wikipedia. This is the United Nations work on the issue if you haven’t come across them alread. It’s as good as any………LOL, you understand absolutely nothing if you buy this load of crap. Read #8, carefully. It’s equal to saying we’re going to build an all-electric vehicle with a gas engine included.”

    1) I didn’t say I agreed with ALL of this UN work. Its a good starting point and is thorough in its scope going beyond just the environment. Its good on many points. Some of it equals what you have promoted, so its amusing hearing you call it a “load of crap”.

    If I had any sense I would put you on the scroll past list like KM and various others have done. You are arrogant, abrasive and largely unoriginal. I read about all this simplicity stuff way back around 1980 when “limits to growth” came out. The only thing that looks like an original idea is something you call “regenerative governance “, but the only material I could find on the net was a series of incoherent tweets and drawings, so not very compelling. It looks similar to a business partnership sort of structure, so I’m not sure its original.

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt: Prove me wrong: Provide some copy and paste on the issue. If you can’t do that don’t expect to have any credibility. And try to appreciate the scientists around here will pick it to pieces, because they are trained to be sceptical, it doesn’t necessarily mean they reject it. It would be useful to talk about management structures and the options and what might work.

    “recycling….Which, to maintain even a significant fraction of consumption, must be built out globally, massively, and at a rate of speed humanity has never, ever achieved before…”

    Yes good point, recycling would need to be at scale. And you specifically included building recycling plant in your “technology bridge”. So are you having second thoughts, or contradicting yourself or playing devils advocate or WHAT?

    This technology bridge appears to include modern health system, a communications backbone, a transport backbone and something else Ive forgotten. And that’s good. To be of any real use, there will need to have some sophistication. I assume you mean something beyond a couple of old trucks and one cell phone to serve a population of thousands and thousands, so to maintain your technology bridge will still need a fair bit of ‘recycling’ wont it?

    And remember the twenty times I have said we should learn to be less extravagant. So Im also saying we should try to fulfill needs, as opposed to buying things for the sake of making status displays or other superficial reasons. Yet you attacked me for suggesting we try to be less extravagant. You said “pigs might fly”. So why would you do that, while essentially promoting the same thing as I am?

    “And the idea of deliberately chosen simplicity seems highly germane to me….I merely point out 1. Kevin finally agreeing with everything I’ve ever said”

    Just because Kevin agreed with simplification in theory or principle, doesn’t mean he agrees with everything you Killian have said on the subject. I know he doesn’t by a long way, because of a) what hes said on this website, and b) I’ve corresponded with the man in private but the details are in confidence.

    “So….. the happiest, healthiest, most mentally and emotionally fit are those not living under technology, but let’s just ignore that.”

    Hyperbole, but who has ignored the virtues of indigenous societies? Not me. So are you mistaken, trolling or lying?

    “Where I differ from The Aleut is I want a world with modern technology…Sure tech. wont last forever, that’s obvious….Suddenly me being right is obvious!”

    I had reached that conclusion about tech. not lasting literally forever when I was a teenager around 1980 and “limits to growth” came out. But it will just mean humanity might eventually have to revert to a subsistence culture, you know the thing you admire so much. The problem would be an abrupt transition which would be painful, so it makes sense for us to help by being less extravagant with our use of non renewable resources, (and renewables) not taking all the cream as it were, and stopping population growth so it doesn’t collide with scarcity.

    IMHO it doesn’t make sense to me to deliberately abandon industrial society or throw out capitalism for some completely radically different system. That will cause a whole heap of its own problems. I’m not suggesting your promote that, or cave man lifestyles or anything. I’m just explaining how I see it. Prioritising important technology is of course a good thing. Covid 19 did kind of show this.

    “you collectively responded to a request to go carefully and simply step by step in order to lay down the First Order and First Principles constraints to the conversation with FUCK YOU, and think that asking you to ONLY answer the question asked is somehow offensive, and 10x more offensive to simply state you had not, in fact, responded.”

    Nobody did that. You have poor comprehension at times if you think that. Everyone here accepts the planet is finite and modern metals and oil based tech. wont last for all eternity (Supreme optimist EP possibly excepted) This is common knowledge you are not telling people things they don’t know. You can pick the issue up form there and maybe just say what you think, or ask another question.

  22. 372
    Al Bundy says:

    would argue the reason is that driving is easier, more comfortable, and feels safer than cycling. Outside of congested city centres it is also faster

    AB: In college I had an expensive bicycle. One day I went from the city center (Ga Tech) to pretty far north (Buckhead). When I got there a gal rolled down her windows and exclaimed in admiration that I had matched her car on my bicycle.

    Nigel: I don’t really like the term ‘simplification’,
    AB: ‘Simplificaton’ brings visions of making do. Perhaps “elegantification” fits better. Visions of the martial arts master expending the slightest effort in the most effective fashion…

    Humans weigh 100 to 200 pounds, take up a defined volume, and enjoy/can tolerate a limited amount of force and temperature. None of these physical constraints is going to significantly change. So the rationally reasonable total energy a given population of humans will consume will decline over time.

    That’s assuming sanity, which means crushing the GOP.

  23. 373
    Al Bundy says:

    Ray: we see this with cell phones, which now have lifetimes comparable to dairy products

    AB: No worries there. Single layer silicon is fast approaching its limit (perhaps 4 nanometers). Phone and home computer hardware will become permanent and software updates don’t spew carbon or consume rare metals.

    Of course, if (when) chips go 3D God help us all cuz meatbags will become useless. Utopian experiments with rats and mice don’t end well. One was allowed to go until no successful breeding occurred and the Utopianians were functionally extinct.

  24. 374

    nigelj gets me very, very wrong @371:

    Everyone here accepts the planet is finite and modern metals and oil based tech. wont last for all eternity (Supreme optimist EP possibly excepted)

    Honestly, do you think that a mere 10,000 quads for 5e8 years is NOT a finite quantity?

    The total output of the Sun for its remaining lifespan is a finite quantity.

    The total output of the stars in this galaxy for its lifespan is a finite quantity.

    But those quantities are vastly beyond anything we are contemplating for this planet.  One step at a time.

  25. 375
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Zebra,
    I believe I addressed your query. I think a an advanced technological global society will face many of the same issues–how to deal with education/training and how to care or the elderly/infirm. Raising children is expensive, as is caring for the elderly. Education/childcare tends to rely on either extended families or on government support. The former is unreliable, and the latter tends to be resented if it dents peoples’ pocketbooks. All I am saying is that reliance on growth is ubiquitous in globally connected technological societies. If we are going to develop a society that doesn’t rely on growth, we’d better understand the roles growth plays in our current society/economy.

    And as I pointed out, it is an entirely different problem living in a steady-state society and living in a shrinking one. The shrinkage has to come before we can talk about sustainability.

  26. 376
    nigelj says:

    Some people worry that the earth will run out of non renewable resources like oil and rich lodes of metallic minerals (and we could), so they advocate that we need to start rationing these materials to conserve them for the future. They advocate that we should start substituting renewables for non renewables when possible. I assume they mean things like making the bodies of cars, aircraft and ships out of timber, bridges out of timber or stone like the Romans did, and making commercial buildings out of timber. Making television cabinets out of timber. If not that, its difficult to to know what they mean.

    I think this substitution strategy might have some problems:

    1) Building body shells out of timber is very labour intensive and expensive, especially if you use craft skills and things like steam bending and hand laminating.

    2) Timber body shells mostly don’t perform as well as metals and composites.

    3) Building things at scale out of timber would put huge added stress on areas of forest land, that are already under pressure from a growing population wanting more farmland, and the objective of using forests as carbon sinks.

    4) Iron and aluminium are abundant materials and are easily enough mined. Does it actually make much sense to try to conserve them by just leaving them in the ground? Its likely we would always find enough of these materials for essential applications like electronics and machine tools, which don’t demand huge volumes of materials. Is the substitution exercise worth the effort? Does it make sense?

    I would be more worried about scare materials like the rare earths and here we should be prioritising essential electronics technologies and not wasting these materials on junk.

    5) How would you convince the public and the business sector to do all this expensive substitution exercise?

    I’m not substitution saying its wrong, and I quite like clothes made out of natural fabrics, and most could be made out of natural fabrics, but I’m just wondering whether it would cause unanticipated problems in some areas.

  27. 377

    [edit – no more warnings. Stick to climate or leave].

  28. 378
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Al Bundy: “Of course, if (when) chips go 3D God help us all cuz meatbags will become useless.”

    Hate to tell you this, dude, but we’re already there. 3D NAND FLASH is now ubiquitous and other technologies aren’t far behind. I keep track of this shit because my colleagues and I need to figure out how to get ion beams to all the different layers while the chip is operating at speed. That’s getting tougher and tougher.

    That’s the amazing thing about Moore’s Law. Up until 2005, it was driven by Dennard scaling of CMOS. Since 2005, there has been no single physical basis for scaling, but it has continued more or less apace! Moore’s Law remains a law solely because it’s an economic necessity for the viability of the semiconductor/electronics industry.

    Yes, it is true that adding cores to a processor is not the same as single-string processing, but parallel processing is feasible for many tasks and actually presents some advantages in some cases.

    This makes me wonder–could we try to understand the drivers of Rosenfeld’s Law and then perhaps kickstart it in a similar way?