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Forced Responses: Aug 2020

Filed under: — group @ 1 August 2020

This is the bimonthly thread on climate solutions. Climate Science discussions should go here.

324 Responses to “Forced Responses: Aug 2020”

  1. 101

    n 91: When population increases demand increases, which drives the economy forwards, and makes us prosperous.

    BPL: It doesn’t necessarily make us more prosperous per capita.

  2. 102
    Killian says:

    nigelj: Piotr @46, you could be right regarding possible third world population tends. However I came across a study, cant find the thing now, but a small African country gave away contraceptives for free in two regions, and the birth rate declined dramatically. This was despite the communities in question being poor, and women having limited rights and a generally poor education. It makes you wonder how many conditions are really needed for population growth to fall.

    Still I take your point that tribal religion is strong and probably conservative leaning, and I guess probably against free contraceptives or even easier access, as a general rule.

    Assumptions. FACT: Tribal peoples practice rather rigorous population management. Stop insulting people smarter than the idiots running/participating in this supposedly “advanced” shit show. That’s a really racist assumption to make, intentionally or not. I’ve suggested you follow Helga Ingeborg Vierich before. You apparently have not.

  3. 103
    Ray Ladbury says:

    A note on asteroid mining. You can influence the orbit of an asteroid in numerous ways, some much more simple and effective than strapping a nuke to it. One of the biggest perturbing factors for asteroid orbits is how they absorb sunlight (the Yarkovsky effect), and we could use this not only to protect the planet from asteroid impacts, but also to steer promising asteroids toward Earth. The idea is that you “paint” the asteroid to achieve the desired deflection. You could also take advantage of gravity assists from other bodies. It would take a long time (years to decades), but it would be a relatively cheap solution. As to the mining process itself, it might make the most sense to slam the asteroid into the moon (or pieces of it, it it is large). The resulting melt, would likely be easier to mine. How people would react to such bombardment of the moon (it would change the way it looks in the night sky) is another question.

    The tricky part is the economics–if you dropped a few hundred tons of platinum group minerals on the terrestrial market all at once, the price would collapse. At the same time, if you put enough onto the market that the price falls somewhat, you could increase demand and profits as new applications are found (who wouldn’t want platinum crucibles?). In some ways, it would be comparable to the windfall of silver and gold arriving in Europe from the New World after 1492, hopefully without the genocide.

    None of this changes what I said above–we need to learn to live in a finite environment–even infinite resources wouldn’t save us if we cannot learn to do that.

  4. 104
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Zebra: “Just tell me why my model would not allow a human population to be “sustained” at a level of technology that would allow continued changes in the human condition.”

    Well, first, because it is a model. Models do not sustain anything. They allow us to investigate behaviors that real systems may exhibit and how different variables may affect those behaviors. By pointing out potential over-simplifications in your model, I am suggesting that if its purpose is to suggest conditions of sustainability in real human societies, then it might fall short of that purpose.
    I am merely pointing out that growth is needed for some purposes in our society–e.g. investments in education and retirement income if one assumes a retirement that lasts longer than a few years.
    If your society seeks to provide the sort of extended education needed for a complex technical society, it is hard to see how you fund that without some faster than linear growth of savings for the purpose. If you are suggesting some sort of more primitive existence, that is less of a problem.

    Likewise, if you foresee everyone working until a couple of years before their deaths, you might be fine with a linear rate of growth in savings for retirement. Otherwise?

    What I am saying is that you will have to be a whole helluvalot more detailed before I can make any substantive comment on your model.

  5. 105
    Piotr says:

    – Kevin (55) “it’s also quite clear that [affluence] is not the only factor in [pop.growth rate]”
    – Piotr(60): “even though nobody claimed that [affluence] was the only factor in play? In fact – I repeatedly put the culture/religion as a factor that can be important.”
    – Kevin (88): “Indeed you did.”

    … and after this you … continue to argue as if I didn’t: K(88): “I am pointing out that the declines in TFR are much wider than you initially seemed to imply. (I.e., it’s not just affluent nations.)” ;-)

    As for the declines in TFR being “much wider”, I guess this “width” is in the eye of the beholder:

    – you say: “there are still quite a few places in sub-Saharan Africa that fit the bill, more or less”,
    – I say: there are hardly any, if at all, places sub-Saharan Africa that DO NOT fit the bill…
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependencies_by_total_fertility_rate#Country_ranking_by_TFR_forecast
    (where even your S. Africa with TFR 2.4 is above the world’s replacement TFR of 2.1)

    As for your characterization of my argument as:
    “the “poor/cultural or religiously conservative” nations would constitute a de facto bloc which could […] push population higher.”
    I can live with that – since this “de facto bloc” exists and flexes its muscle –

    – political – when the Catholic brass joined the ultraconservative Islamic clerics and succeeded, e.g. in excising population control from the UN Millenial Goals,

    – demographic – these are not “a few places” – but a significant portion of the Earth population: TFR according to the World Bank (those by NGOs tend to be somewhat higher)

    – Sub-Saharan Africa 4.7
    – Arab world 3.2
    – Middle East and North Africa 2.8
    – South Asia 2.4

    So here is your “de facto bloc” which already constitutes a large share of the global population, and with its high TFR its share will only INCREASE in the future. And with that this “bloc”‘s contribution to the shaping of (population-weighed) average global TFR will be even larger.

    So, good luck, with your “gentle pushing against this idea” ;-)

  6. 106
    nigelj says:

    Killian @102

    If you had read all the comments you would know I was referring specifically to tribal communities practicing Islam, which is a religion I have a low tolerance for because its oppressive, and in the circumstances described by Piotr it might be inclined to encourage population growth and succeed because of the authoritarian nature of the religion. But you obviously hadn’t read all the comments, so just barged in and assumed I was having a go at ALL tribal religions.

    I do not consider myself to be better than your typical ancient tribal group. All I’ve ever said on the subject is try not to idolise these cultures and lose all objectivity. If you have any left to lose, which is debatable,

    And since your main claim to fame is a psychology degree I don’t see any hard evidence you are particularly smart, and remember you started the insults about who is smarter than who. Do at least pretend to try to grow up.

  7. 107
    nigelj says:

    Ray ladbury @103

    “None of this changes what I said above–we need to learn to live in a finite environment–even infinite resources wouldn’t save us if we cannot learn to do that.”

    Yes true but I think we already know what to do. I think it can be expressed as 1) everyone reducing waste as much as possible, in the widest possible definition of waste to include environmental pollution, landfill waste, wasted resources, depleted soils, over consumption, wasted food etcetera, and 2) getting population growth to at least stop.

    This reduces the problem to two main variables that interact and look like they would both be required to change. You cannot reduce it further.

    I’m also assuming here perfection is unattainable. Nothing lasts forever so its about doing the best we can.

    This set of goals in turn requires either a cultural change in terms of personal responsibility and corporate behaviour, or imposed laws, or both. Probably both judging by past history of human progress.

    The question of how capitalism and ownership fits in seems secondary to me. Capitalism is not inconsistent with reducing waste and size of population although it makes it hard work doing this. Shared ownership and not for profit enterprises will not guarantee we reduce waste or population growth and create their own set of problems. So the goals should primarily be 1)reducing waste and 2) reducing population growth and worrying about the economic structure later or letting it evolve in an appropriate way.

    Am I over simplifying it? If so explain how.

  8. 108
    nigelj says:

    Piotr @105

    “– political – when the Catholic brass joined the ultraconservative Islamic clerics and succeeded, e.g. in excising population control from the UN Millenial Goals,”

    Interesting piece of information Piotr. Unfortunate. I confess I wasn’t aware of that. However its notable that the catholic brass seem to wield less power over their own actual populations than they do over the United Nations . For example fertility rates have plummeted in catholic latin america in recent decades, and the adoption of contraception use has massively increased, despite the church being opposed to contraception and in favour of large families, and theres no obvious end in sight or sign of a big flattening off in the trend.

    Once education improves, prosperity increases, womens right improve a bit, and contraception becomes established (especially this) small families seem to tend to follow and the trend is relentless. Some references on latin america:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/699065/fertility-rate-in-latin-america-and-caribbean/

    https://www.cepal.org/en/pressreleases/latin-america-and-caribbean-reach-maximum-population-levels2058#:~:text=The%20global%20fertility%20rate%20for,2.1%20live%20births%20per%20woman.

    In some countries in Europe below replacement rate governments are trying to encourage larger families, but success in this is proving limited so far. Although personally I think governments might get very determined if the situation was to become a very serious decline.

    “– demographic – these are not “a few places” – but a significant portion of the Earth population: TFR according to the World Bank (those by NGOs tend to be somewhat higher)– Sub-Saharan Africa 4.7 – Arab world 3.2 – Middle East and North Africa 2.8 – South Asia 2.4”

    It is the same trend in the Arab World, the middle east, and southern asia. Falling fertility rates in about the last couple of decades with no obvious end in sight. Regardless of the religious leaders and what they might want. Some islamic societies have liberalised and even just a little seems to lead to lower fertility rates. Some quickly googled references:

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/arab-world-silent-reproductive-revolution-190416060958876.html#:~:text=%22Most%20Arab%20families%20want%20to,Arab%20world%2C%20told%20Al%20Jazeera.&text=and%20available%20contraception.-,Declines%20in%20fertility%20rates%20are%20consistent,Arab%20countries%20regardless%20of%20wealth.

    https://www.euromoney.com/article/b1k73083stsn2q/in-the-middle-east-fertility-is-the-next-big-investment-trend#:~:text=Birth%20rates%20among%20Emiratis%20have,data%20from%20the%20World%20Bank.&text=As%20a%20specialist%20in%20the,four%20years%2C%20Gulf%20Capital%20says.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190417-report-finds-quiet-revolution-in-middle-east-birth-rates/

    https://www.prb.org/menafertilitydecline/

    https://tradingeconomics.com/south-asia/fertility-rate-total-births-per-woman-wb-data.html#:~:text=Fertility%20rate%2C%20total%20(births%20per%20woman)%20in%20South%20Asia,compiled%20from%20officially%20recognized%20sources.

    “So here is your “de facto bloc” which already constitutes a large share of the global population, and with its high TFR its share will only INCREASE in the future. And with that this “bloc”‘s contribution to the shaping of (population-weighed) average global TFR will be even larger.”

    Given fertility trends, maybe not much larger!

  9. 109
    Postkey says:

    ‘This “equilibrium” graph (Figure 3) and the ideas behind it have been re-iterated so many times in the past half-century that many observes assume they represent one of the few firmly proven facts in economics. Not at all. There is no empirical evidence whatsoever that demand equals supply in any market and that, indeed, markets work in the way this story narrates.

    We know this by simply paying attention to the details of the narrative presented. The innocuous assumptions briefly mentioned at the outset are in fact necessary joint conditions in order for the result of equilibrium to be obtained. There are at least eight of these result-critical necessary assumptions: Firstly, all market participants have to have “perfect information”, aware of all existing information (thus not needing lecture rooms, books, television or the internet to gather information in a time-consuming manner; there are no lawyers, consultants or estate agents in the economy). Secondly, there are markets trading everything (and their grandmother). Thirdly, all markets are characterized by millions of small firms that compete fiercely so that there are no profits at all in the corporate sector (and certainly there are no oligopolies or monopolies; computer software is produced by so many firms, one hardly knows what operating system to choose…). Fourthly, prices change all the time, even during the course of each day, to reflect changed circumstances (no labels are to be found on the wares offered in supermarkets as a result, except in LCD-form). Fifthly, there are no transaction costs (it costs no petrol to drive to the supermarket, stock brokers charge no commission, estate agents work for free – actually, don’t exist, due to perfect information!). Sixthly, everyone has an infinite amount of time and lives infinitely long lives. Seventhly, market participants are solely interested in increasing their own material benefit and do not care for others (so there are no babies, human reproduction has stopped – since babies have all died of neglect; this is where the eternal life of the grown-ups helps). Eighthly, nobody can be influenced by others in any way (so trillion-dollar advertising industry does not exist, just like the legal services and estate agent industries).
    It is only in this theoretical dreamworld defined by this conflagration of wholly unrealistic assumptions that markets can be expected to clear, delivering equilibrium and rendering prices the important variable in the economy – including the price of money as the key variable in the macroeconomy. This is the origin of the idea that interest rates are the key variable driving the economy: it is the price of money that determines economic outcomes, since quantities fall into place.
    But how likely are these assumptions that are needed for equilibrium to pertain? We know that none of them hold. Yet, if we generously assumed, for sake of argument (in good economists’ style), that the probability of each assumption holding true is 55% – i.e. the assumptions are more likely to be true than not – even then we find the mainstream result is elusive: Because all assumptions need to hold at the same time, the probability of obtaining equilibrium in that case is 0.55 to the power of 8 – i.e. less than 1%! In other words, neoclassical economics has demonstrated to us that the circumstances required for equilibrium to occur in any market are so unlikely that we can be sure there is no equilibrium anywhere. Thus we know that markets are rationed, and rationed markets are determined by quantities, not prices.
    On our planet earth – as opposed to the very different planet that economists seem to be on – all markets are rationed. In rationed markets a simple rule applies: the short side principle. It says that whichever quantity of demand or supply is smaller (the ‘short side’) will be transacted (it is the only quantity that can be transacted). Meanwhile, the rest will remain unserved, and thus the short side wields power: the power to pick and choose with whom to do business. Examples abound. For instance, when applying for a job, there tend to be more applicants than jobs, resulting in a selection procedure that may involve a number of activities and demands that can only be described as being of a non-market nature (think about how Hollywood actresses are selected), but does not usually include the question: what is the lowest wage you are prepared to work for?
    Thus the theoretical dream world of “market equilibrium” allows economists to avoid talking about the reality of pervasive rationing, and with it, power being exerted by the short side in every market. Thus the entire power hiring starlets for Hollywood films, can exploit his power of being able to pick and choose with whom to do business, by extracting ‘non-market benefits’ of all kinds. The pretence of ‘equilibrium’ not only keeps this real power dimension hidden. It also helps to deflect the public discourse onto the politically more convenient alleged role of ‘prices’, such as the price of money, the interest rate. The emphasis on prices then also helps to justify the charging of usury (interest), which until about 300 years ago was illegal in most countries, including throughout Europe.
    However, this narrative has suffered an abductio ad absurdum by the long period of near zero interest rates, so that it became obvious that the true monetary policy action takes place in terms of quantities, not the interest rate.
    Thus it can be plainly seen today that the most important macroeconomic variable cannot be the price of money. Instead, it is its quantity. Is the quantity of money rationed by the demand or supply side? Asked differently, what is larger – the demand for money or its supply? Since money – and this includes bank money – is so useful, there is always some demand for it by someone. As a result, the short side is always the supply of money and credit. Banks ration credit even at the best of times in order to ensure that borrowers with sensible investment projects stay among the loan applicants – if rates are raised to equilibrate demand and supply, the resulting interest rate would be so high that only speculative projects would remain and banks’ loan portfolios would be too risky.
    The banks thus occupy a pivotal role in the economy as they undertake the task of creating and allocating the new purchasing power that is added to the money supply and they decide what projects will get this newly created funding, and what projects will have to be abandoned due to a ‘lack of money’.
    It is for this reason that we need the right type of banks that take the right decisions concerning the important question of how much money should be created, for what purpose and given into whose hands. These decisions will reshape the economic landscape within a short time period.
    Moreover, it is for this reason that central banks have always monitored bank credit creation and allocation closely and most have intervened directly – if often secretly or ‘informally’ – in order to manage or control bank credit creation. Guidance of bank credit is in fact the only monetary policy tool with a strong track record of preventing asset bubbles and thus avoiding the subsequent banking crises. But credit guidance has always been undertaken in secrecy by central banks, since awareness of its existence and effectiveness gives away the truth that the official central banking narrative is smokescreen.’
    https://professorwerner.org/shifting-from-central-planning-to-a-decentralised-economy-do-we-need-central-banks/

  10. 110

    K 102: FACT: Tribal peoples practice rather rigorous population management.

    BPL: Then explain the population growth rate in Africa.

  11. 111
    Killian says:

    Cities can supply much of their own food, and Detroit *all* of its own food. (This in no way advocates for massive cities.)

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CDxGeFegLwi/?igshid=dpd2u3gzk8ob

  12. 112
    zebra says:

    #104 Ray Ladbury,

    I can’t offer more detail because you still haven’t explained why you think that:

    growth is needed for some purposes in our society–e.g. investments in education and retirement income if one assumes a retirement that lasts longer than a few years.
    If your society seeks to provide the sort of extended education needed for a complex technical society, it is hard to see how you fund that without some faster than linear growth of savings

    Why?!?!?!? Sorry, but that is just as nonsensical to me as something Victor would say.

    I’ve asked you to explain your reasoning multiple times, but you just keep repeating the assertion with no justification.

  13. 113
    Ray Ladbury says:

    I find myself agreeing with Killian–Fertility rates have a lot more to do with economics than with culture/religion. Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is still mainly human-powered, and it takes many hands to prepare, cultivate and harvest a field, even a small one that can barely feed the family that cultivates it.
    Where culture/religion does play a role it is usually by stifling the aspirations of women. If you want to decrease population growth, the two policies that will best advance this goal are:
    1)Assist small farmers by introducing sustainable agricultural practices that decrease labor and increase yield
    2) Let our girls dream and facilitate their making their dreams reality.

  14. 114

    #105, piotr–

    So here is your “de facto bloc” which already constitutes a large share of the global population, and with its high TFR its share will only INCREASE in the future. And with that this “bloc”‘s contribution to the shaping of (population-weighed) average global TFR will be even larger.

    Indeed, that grouping–I would still reject ‘bloc’ as not only TFR but governance (including population policies) vary widely–will be a larger proportion of humanity in the future, barring massive changes in mortality patterns (which, most unfortunately, can’t IMO be ruled out, although there’s little historical precedent for anything sufficiently large I believe.) However, what you appear to be forgetting is that the regional TFRs you cited are still falling; see this link, p. 23, Figure 15:

    https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2019_Highlights.pdf

    (And one quibble: it doesn’t much matter if a country is above *global* replacement level; growth or degrowth is determined by *local* replacement level and by such things as local population structure, life expectancy and mean age of maternity.)

  15. 115

    Quoted-out-of-context Piotr @97:

    You know I’m predisposed to nuclear energy

    No, really ? ;-)

    Says the troll who can’t even understand the HTML <blockquote> tag.

    Why would I bring it up if not to illustrate your childlike lack of self-awareness

    How about your childlike belief in the myth of “renewables”, when they have literally NEVER produced a decarbonized electric grid in any industrial country?  The success stories use hydro, nuclear or both.  Wind and solar are demonstrably unfit for that purpose, having failed miserably in Germany.  The German grid now emits more CO2 per kWh than the US average, and they still haven’t fully phased out nuclear yet.

    after pooh-pooing renewables for the (exaggerated by you) shortage of energy-storage, you then keep bringing up … new energy storage technologies ;-). Left hand knows not what the right hand is doing?

    If hundreds of millions of years old is “new”.  What are fossil fuels but long-term stored solar energy?  It’s a lossy process but the ability to put energy away for weeks, months or even years fills one of the major gaps left by the ill-thought-out push to go “renewable”.

    Furthermore, producing ethanol is much more of an energy-conversion than energy-storage scheme.  It makes something fundamentally different from electric power:  motor fuel.  We’re still better off using electric propulsion, but batteries are just too heavy and voluminous to serve well in significant segments.  There’s talk of using ammonia as a carbon-free fuel for shipping, but ethanol from air-captured CO2 would be better as it’s a room-temperature liquid with almost twice the energy density.

    “Renewables” may be the popular thing today, but nuclear energy has a critical role to play in chemical energy storage/conversion.  Thyssenkrupp’s flexible chlor-alkalai process manages cell chemistry to avoid damaging changes of state between 10% and 110% of rated input… but that 10% is part of base load, and you can’t go below it without paying a penalty in O&M.  However, a range of 100% of rated input has almost infinite flexibility.  I’d be shocked if this ethanol production cell is any different.  So THERE is your role for the unreliables, supplying the sometime-but-whenever energy that we also need rather than being the mainstay of the grid.  Nuclear can make sure that the 10% is always there.

    if the reaction had “worthwhile” effect on atm. CO2 sequestration

    The authors don’t presume any particular source, but anything that mineralizes atmospheric CO2 is worthwhile.

  16. 116
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @112

    “I’ve asked you (RL) to explain your reasoning multiple times, but you just keep repeating the assertion with no justification.”

    Ray Ladbury has explained his reasoning. The very post you attack IS HIS REASONING and its quite convincing.

  17. 117
    nigelj says:

    Postkey @109, banks essentially create money, when they make loans. Somebody has to create money, and I would rather the banks do it than some politician trying to buy votes with free money. As you say the banks are governed by rules to stop it causing inflation or other problems.

    And yes banks effectively ration capital as a result. Its normally on what they think will get the best return and has lowest risk. But one of our local banks, partly state owned, has just decided to favour sustainable businesses and stop investing in fossil fuels businesses as below. I say good on them.

    It has caused quite a stir and negative reaction among the usual crowd of right wing commentators. How dare they add social goals to the profit motive! it will be interesting to see if this forces other banks to follow suit:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/122221277/woke-broke-or-master-stroke-kiwibanks-new-responsible-business-policy

  18. 118
    Piotr says:

    Poet (115: ): “Says the troll who can’t even understand the HTML blockquote tag.”

    Huh? That’s your best come-back after I pointed your contradictions:
    ===
    Poet (94): You know I’m predisposed to nuclear energy
    Piotr (97): “No, really ? ;-) Why would I bring it up if not to illustrate your childlike lack of self-awareness – after pooh-pooing renewables for the (exaggerated by you) shortage of energy-storage, you then keep bringing up … new energy storage technologies ;-). Left hand knows not what the right hand is doing?
    ===

    Poet (115): If hundreds of millions of years old is “new”.

    Huh? I am referring to the “new” as in Poet (71):

    “New electrocatalyst shows promise for reducing CO2 to ethanol”
    Poet (71)

    But please, do lecture this Poet how by “new” he really must have meant “hundreds of millions of years old”.

    Poet (115): “Furthermore, producing ethanol is much more of an energy-conversion than energy-storage scheme.”

    Again, tell it to … the Poet (95) since it was him who introduced this ethanol:

    “This is one of the few use-cases where “renewables” are reasonably well-suited to the task. Your electricity needs to be generated pretty much where and when needed, but you don’t really care how long your liquid fuel was in transit so long as you’ve got enough when you need it.”

    If this is not DOES NOT APPLY to energy storage then what else do you did you say above?cAnd how about your ANOTHER “new” technology your left hand brought to this group in June:

    “After seeing hints for years, I finally have some specifics on Form Energy’s sulfur-based flow battery: […] “the cost of active materials per stored energy is exceptionally low, ∼US$1/kWh]”
    Poet UV June(49)

    Also _not_ relevant to energy storage?

    To sum up the above – with each post you are digging yourself into a deeper hole. But it would take balls to admit it, eh?

  19. 119
    Piotr says:

    Kevin McKinney: “Indeed, that grouping–I would still reject ‘bloc’ as not only TFR but governance (including population policies) vary widely–

    The only reason I used the “de facto bloc” was that YOU introduced this phrase. _My_ argument does not require identical governance.

    K: “what you appear to be forgetting is that the regional TFRs you cited are still falling”

    No, I don’t forget – I am just question the certainty of nigel’s statement that this trend “looks impossible to reverse even if we wanted”,
    and that TFR won’t stabilize ABOVE the replacement TFR.

    As for your “quibble”, assuming UN’s definition of replacement TFR = “the average number of children a woman would need to have to reproduce herself by bearing a daughter who survives to childbearing age”
    – I am not sure how this rTFR is supposed to be affected by “local population structure, life expectancy and mean age of maternity”?

    Population growth rate – yes (via population inertia), but rTFR?

  20. 120
    Piotr says:

    Piotr (105): So here is your “de facto bloc” which already constitutes a large share of the global population and with its high TFR its share will only INCREASE in the future. And with that this “bloc”‘s contribution to the shaping of (population-weighed) average global TFR will be even larger.”

    Nigel (108): Given fertility trends, maybe not much larger!

    Piotr: Let’s see, we have two groups – ~ half of current population has TFR BELOW replacement level, while the other half ABOVE it.

    Now, these difference in TFR will continue for _at least_ several decades (the time needed to drop TFR in the 2nd group to the 1st level), during which time the % of the 2nd group will keep increasing at the expense of decreasing % of the 1st.

    Furthermore, even if the TFR dropped today – population growth reacts with a lag,
    which means additional decades of increasing % of the 2nd group.

    Finally, all this _assumes_ that the decreasing trends will continue and that TFR in the 2nd group will stabilize at the level of the first group, and not, say above
    it, neither of which is _guaranteed_ as implied by your original: “looks impossible to reverse this trend even if we wanted”.

  21. 121

    E-P 115: Wind and solar are demonstrably unfit for that purpose, having failed miserably in Germany. The German grid now emits more CO2 per kWh than the US average, and they still haven’t fully phased out nuclear yet.

    BPL: German CO2 emissions have been dropping for a year and a half now. I wonder how far into the future you’ll still be pushing this line about Germany not controlling its emissions?

  22. 122
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigelj: I don’t see any hard evidence you are particularly smart, and remember you started the insults about who is smarter than who. Do at least pretend to try to grow up

    AB: Nigel (Nigel!!) got his dander up. Sounds strange, but my mind said, “You go, girl!”. Probably cuz he’s slapping down an abuser.

  23. 123
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Zebra@112
    Education and medicine (particularly care of the elderly) are two of the most expensive activities in the current economy. One reason for this is that both stubbornly resist cost reduction as activity scales up. In fact, since knowledge and care therapeutic options both increase exponentially with time, cost of both education and medicine also increases nonlinearly. As a result, in order to pay for these activities, savings has had to increase nonlinearly as well, and that can’t be done without growth.

    I use these two human activities as illustrations that there are some aspects of a highly technical, global civilization where advances increase costs (while admittedly often improving outcomes), rather than reduce them. For this reason, I don’t think a sustainable economy can be a steady-state economy–not for human beings anyway.

  24. 124
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigelj: Am I over simplifying it? If so explain how

    AB: Conservative capitalism is based on a contradiction: personal responsibility and complex laws that are parsed for punishment for the poor and, by law, a complete lack of personal responsibility for the wealthy (all wealth is expressed through limited liability companies that shield the wealthy from their purported moral code – and will tell you that that’s necessary cuz if the wealthy had to take personal responsibility they’d just let their wealth rot instead of invest (because everyone knows that ‘bonding’ and ‘insurance’ are impossible).

    So get Capitalism to fit within a moral framework instead of coloring moral bits in the gaps not gouged by capitalism and maybe, just maybe.

    But until “personal responsibility” applies to all ….

    AND
    “Equal justice” becomes a thing (by nationalizing the legal profession- making it illegal to acquire a private attorney?)

  25. 125

    #119, piotr–

    As for your “quibble”, assuming UN’s definition of replacement TFR = “the average number of children a woman would need to have to reproduce herself by bearing a daughter who survives to childbearing age”
    – I am not sure how this rTFR is supposed to be affected by “local population structure, life expectancy and mean age of maternity”?

    Population growth rate – yes (via population inertia), but rTFR?

    Re-read what I actually wrote:

    growth or degrowth is determined by *local* replacement level and by such things as local population structure, life expectancy and mean age of maternity.)

    Seems like we’re in agreement, there.

  26. 126

    BPL, #121–

    I think you’re too kind, Barton; E-P’s slur on the energiewende is a small masterpiece of selective quotation and context excision.

    Here’s what the IEA had to say about Germany’s emissions in 2019:

    Germany spearheaded the decline in emissions in the European Union. Its emissions fell by 8% to 620 Mt of CO2, a level not seen since the 1950s, when the German economy was around 10 times smaller. The country’s coal-fired power fleet saw a drop in output of more than 25% year on year as electricity demand declined and generation from renewables, especially wind (+11%), increased. With a share of over 40%, renewables for the very first time generated more electricity in 2019 than Germany’s coal-fired power stations.

    https://www.iea.org/articles/global-co2-emissions-in-2019

    It’s true that by some measures at least the decline has been a bit bigger in the US than in Germany–a decline of 37.2 intensity index points to 23.1 over the 2000-2017 period, per this source:

    https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/?country=GERMANY&fuel=CO2%20emissions&indicator=CO2%20intensity%20of%20power

    https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/?country=USA&fuel=CO2%20emissions&indicator=CO2%20intensity%20of%20power

    But there are numerous confounding factors, including the fact that Germany is in many ways the pre-eminent nation for heavy manufacture, at least in the developed world. That makes its economy structurally pretty different than ours.

    But in any case, Denmark makes us both look like pikers, with a decline of 61.3 index points, managed largely on the back of their world-leading wind power industry. So much for “not fit for purpose!”

    https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/?country=DENMARK&fuel=CO2%20emissions&indicator=CO2%20intensity%20of%20power

    That’s not to say, of course, that all has been sweetness and light with German emissions mitigation. There’s a pretty thorough piece on it here:

    https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/germanys-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-climate-targets

    Those who are interested in accuracy (as opposed to anti-renewable propaganda) may find it interesting.

  27. 127

    piotr, #120–

    Furthermore, even if the TFR dropped today – population growth reacts with a lag…

    It almost certainly *did* drop today, as it has done pretty much every day for a couple of decades now.

    …which means additional decades of increasing % of the 2nd group.

    Not at issue; of course it does. (That’s why anyone paying attention will tell you that the late 21st century will be much more demographically African than today is.)

    But it’s not going to result in a net increase in global TFR, not in view of point #1. Yes, I know you are skeptical about the ‘inevitability’ of the extant TFR trend, and I have some sympathy for that skepticism; in the real world, trends continue until they don’t.

    But still–this TFR trend is ongoing now for a long time, and appears to be driven by other factors that themselves are still increasing. (Economic growth, spread of education, empowerment of women.) So IMO the smart money would be on the TFR drop–and yes, there is one, even in Nigeria–continuing.

    Why should it not, based on anything we know today?

  28. 128
  29. 129
    nigelj says:

    Piotr @120 again rubs my nose in my comment ” looks impossible to reverse this (declining fertility) trend even if we wanted” again! I admit this was probably a slightly sweeping statement. I try not to argue for the sake of it, or to win at all costs with insults, tantrums and absurdities, which usually means one ends up losing anyway in the court of public opinion. Which might end up being Trumps fate.

    However when you dig into fertility trends as I did previously, once people get a taste for small families and a source of contraception fertility rates decline relentlessly even when the leadership opposes this. I think it would certainly take some serious penalties or coercion to convince people otherwise and even some Islamic Fundamentalists might be reluctant to do that. So your contention that religious authorities might reverse the trend is probably right, but is unlikely to be universal or make much overall difference globally.

  30. 130

    BPL commits the fallacy of equivocation @121:

    German CO2 emissions have been dropping for a year and a half now.

    ORLY?  I was talking about the electric grid specifically, not the overall economy.  But how about a link for for your specific claim, and oh yeah… how about you compare where Germany is now, vs. where it was supposed to have been if the original 2020 goals weren’t dropped as unachievable given the current plan?

    I wonder how far into the future you’ll still be pushing this line about Germany not controlling its emissions?

    I wonder how far into the future you’ll still be pushing bogus assertions.

  31. 131

    Kevin McKinney misleads @126:

    Here’s what the IEA had to say about Germany’s emissions in 2019:

    Germany spearheaded the decline in emissions in the European Union. Its emissions fell by 8% to 620 Mt of CO2, a level not seen since the 1950s

    The IEA report cites no source for the 620 Mt number.  Clean Energy Wire has a radically different number, 805 Mt, which is well above Germany’s original 2020 target of 751 Mt… and CEW cites a source (UBA 2020) even if I can’t locate it.  Frankly, a YoY drop from 858 Mt to 620 Mt is not credible.

  32. 132
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @124

    “AB: Conservative capitalism is based on a contradiction: personal responsibility and complex laws that are parsed for punishment for the poor and, by law, a complete lack of personal responsibility for the wealthy….”

    Yes true enough, putting the hyperbole aside.

    ” …(all wealth is expressed through limited liability companies that shield the wealthy from their purported moral code – and will tell you that that’s necessary cuz if the wealthy had to take personal responsibility they’d just let their wealth rot instead of invest (because everyone knows that ‘bonding’ and ‘insurance’ are impossible).”

    I dont see this. Even low income people often own shares in limited liability companies. I mean I think the mechanism really was just a way to promote investment in new risky ventures, and we really do all benefit (sorry if that sounds like a right wing meme, but this one is true)

    Seems to me the wealthy shield their wealth in things like Trusts and offshore tax havens, which are expensive mechanisms for poor people to access. And of course the wealthy often demand low income people look after themselves, while demanding the governnment bail out their company if it gets wobbly during a recession. This is a tricky one, because sometimes government rescue packages like this do help everyone, but perhaps not when it rescues bankers bonus payments in the process.

    “So get Capitalism to fit within a moral framework instead of coloring moral bits in the gaps not gouged by capitalism and maybe, just maybe.”But until “personal responsibility” applies to all ….ANDBut until “personal responsibility” applies to all ….“Equal justice” becomes a thing (by nationalizing the legal profession- making it illegal to acquire a private attorney?)”

    Bit of self interest on your part. Can’t say I blame you. Nationalising the legal profession sounds good. We have legal aid to make sure everyone on any income can hire a lawyer. Mind you its only a government loan but theres not huge pressure to pay it back. But of course it tends to buy the second rate lawyers. Not an ideal system.

    And its not necessarily about wealthy people as such. They might want to do the right thing but they have an army of advisors like accountants and lawyers in their ears saying do this and that, even if not always ethical. The parasite class.

  33. 133
    Killian says:

    110 Barton Paul Levenson says:
    12 Aug 2020 at 3:28 AM

    K 102: FACT: Tribal peoples practice rather rigorous population management.

    BPL: Then explain the population growth rate in Africa.

    I wasn’t aware all Africans still live in tribes. I’m fairly certain most of them live in non-traditional forms or greatly distorted versions of their pre-invasion lives.

    But, then, you’ve never been intellectually honest, so I’m 100% certain you’re trolling. I’ll defer to my friend Helga, the anthropologiest, to set you straight.

  34. 134
    Killian says:

    Nuclear, population demographics, climate denial… everything except the willingness to set the First Principle parameters of the conversation.

    What do you think they’re going to be as disaster piles on disaster, city after city must relocate or simply drowm or build unsustainable walls that will collapse in time and all the other crap that’s going on?

    Same stupid errors in analysis and judgment that have plagued you all for more than 10 years.

  35. 135
    zebra says:

    #123 Ray Ladbury,

    Ray, I find almost all your comments to be reasonable and thoughtful, and I would very much like to discuss how education and medicine might work in my scenario. But I keep getting stuck on this “savings” thing of yours.

    I responded to your original comment because I think you said “exponential growth in consumption”, or something like that. Discussions about sustainability focus on consumption of energy and materials, including of course the effects of waste products.

    So, for education: Most people, as I understand it, don’t have massive saved up college funds. They take out loans, and they work summer jobs, and their parents devote some of their income to help out, and so on. So, I go to school and get an advanced degree in materials science or biotech, and I get a job, (which, we hope, contributes to the advancement of humanity), and I pay back my loan. Question: How does this increase the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere?

    Now, for elder care: Working at my job in materials science, I maintain a comfortable but not extravagant lifestyle. I pay my loan, put money in savings, and the bank lends the money to young college students, and I receive interest when it is repayed, so my savings increase. I then have enough to stop working at some point and cover my expenses. Question: How does this increase the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere?

    Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the more robust social support systems that exist in other countries than the US. But whatever the details, I just don’t see the connection you are trying to make about “growth” and “savings”.

    If you have a relatively steady-state population, the internal economics will reach some kind of equilibrium.

  36. 136
    Killian says:

    nigelj waaaahed:
    Killian @102

    If you had read all the comments

    Why in the name of gods would I do that? All of you blathering on about population like a bunch of damned fools? WTF are any of you going to be able to do about population? Nothing. WTF are you spending weeks on this pointless damned issue… like you spent YEARS on nuclear before the admins finally started following their own rules again.

    you would know I was referring specifically to tribal communities practicing Islam, which is a religion I have a low tolerance for

    Because you’re a bigoted rock-head, not just a rock head. Bigotry = stupidity.

    because its oppressive

    Sure as hell no oppressive Christians! Bigot.

    and in the circumstances described by Piotr it might be inclined to encourage population growth and succeed because of the authoritarian nature of the religion.

    You seem to have this delusion your stupidity is better than wisdom, intelligence, analysis, etc. You think they *might* be inclined to encourage population growth because of …your own bigotry.

    Wait, let me ask my friend… What we have here is a 25-year-old chemical engineer, female, Muslim, native to the Middle East, lifetime resident there.

    S: I never heard of this and I never heard of parents wanting to have so many kids because something related to religion!!

    They want to have a lot of kids because one : they love kids and want a big family, two : because they think having kids it’s kind of a privilege

    Specifically about this topic It’s really much different culture from Asian or Europen countries! They don’t stress about finances and responsibilities they just want to have them !!! Which for me I don’t get it

    I asked my mom once did you really want to have 6 kids , look at them aren’t they are big responsibility!!! She answered: actually I wanted more because I love big family

    For me I can’t do it

    K: Yes.

    It doesn’t imply a lot of kids?

    No way

    The only thing that said about this that : the money and the kids are the joy of this life; mentioned in Quran

    Never.

    K: There is some sexism, obviously, from my perspective, but as you have said before there is no racism, what about people following leaders blindly? Again, the typical person, not far right extremists like jihadis there and the Right in the US..

    If you mean isis Then idk definitely they are not Muslims

    I believe their brains were washed because islam never ordered killing innocent people
    …….

    I remember I read this and there was a war the prophet said to the army before going , never hurt a kid a women an old man or even a tree

    K: Just normal people. If the religious leaders told everyone to have more kids, do you think they would?

    S: They would never say that this is personal choice

    Listen killian I don’t how to explain this
    But people here do LOVE to have many kids , they don’t think about other people or religion they just want that

    but I noticed this is starting to fade away with the new married couples

    Most of them are having two – 4 maximum now

    K: Do you consider any Muslims “tribal?” I know there were anong some peoples, particular Arabic people, but Islam has zero to do with being tribal or not, correct?

    S: They were a tribe before islam had came

    And most of today traditionas are from before islam from an era called “ the ignorance era” It’s the era before islam

    But, hey, what does an educated, young, Muslim engineer know about how cultures in her region and people of the same religion think and act? There is nothing we see in Islam we don’t also see in Christianity, yet you single Muslims out. Bigotry.

    Population is not dependent on religion in general – and I’m half Irish and formerly Catholic – and people are not going to blow up world population because a religious fool tells them to. We already see people telling religious leaders to go to hell rather than live miserable lives overburdened by kids. And with the growing awareness of Climate, I promise you that will only accelerate.

    You are all wasting your time on what is essentially inevitable: Population will flatten then fall. Period. Whether due to famine, education, equality, inequaility of access does not matter because *all* of them will be factors. Does it really matter which has the greater effect? No. Why? The solution is simplicity, and addresses all of them.

    Do regenerative, save the cheerleader.

    But you obviously hadn’t read all the comments, so just barged in and assumed I was having a go at ALL tribal religions.

    You’re right. How silly of me; bigotry against Muslims is *obviously OK! Just so long as it’s not ALL tribes! Ahemm… but Islam is a religion… not a culture….. and has nothing to say about family size. And you are wrong to criticize ANY intact tribal society based on population and sustainability.

    I do not consider myself to be better than your typical ancient tribal group.

    Tell that to the Muslims.

    All I’ve ever said on the subject is try not to idolise these cultures

    And fuck your 3-year-long “Caveman! Straw Man. Jesus, what a fool…

  37. 137
    Killian says:

    110 Barton Paul Levenson:

    K 102: FACT: Tribal peoples practice rather rigorous population management.

    BPL: Then explain the population growth rate in Africa.

    K: I wasn’t aware all Africans still live in tribes. I’m fairly certain most of them live in non-traditional forms or greatly distorted versions of their pre-invasion lives.

    But, then, you’ve never been intellectually honest, so I’m 100% certain you’re trolling. I’ll defer to my friend Helga to set you straight.

    Hmmm… nope. About 10%. and not responsible for the surge in births:

    K: Then over-population or rapidly increasing population cannot be blamed on “tribal” lifestyles?

    HV: And, no, of course, “tribal lifestyles” are not to blame for any of this. Certainly not for overpopulation.

    Deeper dives to come later, because your ignorance is offensive to me.

  38. 138

    More from Dr. Hickel:

    https://climateandcapitalism.com/2018/05/16/the-magical-thinking-of-ecomodernism/

    Includes some context on what he does, and does not, intend by “degrowth”.

  39. 139
    Adam Lea says:

    111: That is impressive productivity. My allotment is about half that size but I can get nowhere near that half that much food from it, mainly because I am not yet experienced/knowledgable enough. I would be interested to know whether that level of productivity can be achieved with minimal artificial inputs, and would it require giving up the day job to spend most days cultivating? Surely the level of productivity is going to depend on the local soil conditions and climate.

  40. 140
    Piotr says:

    Kevin McKinney (127): “in the real world, trends continue until they don’t”

    – yes, “until they don’t” and I can see the scenarios when they don’t – say, if the greatly increased population meets reduced resources plus the economic price of climate change, and, as result, the society,and with it the economy, education and women empowerment) collapse and religious fundamentalisms and their hold on people, rise (“when in fear, God is near”…)

    – the cure may be more dangerous than the disease – if the main condition for stopping population growth is continued economic growth – then we are trading reduction in the population size for the increased emissions per capita (the affluent have several times larger env. footprint than the poor)

    – part of your historical trends is the “saturation” of the effect of “growth, education and empowerment” resulting in the flattening of the TFR curve. Who is to say that, Africa or islamic countries will flatten out at the replacement TFR, and NOT above it ?

  41. 141
    David B. Benson says:

    For all the chit-chat here and all the so-called renewables, here’s the Keeling curve:
    https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
    I don’t see objective progress…

  42. 142
    Al Bundy says:

    KevinM: Germany spearheaded the decline in emissions in the European Union. Its emissions fell by 8%

    AB: EP’s point is that 8% is a feel-good TOTAL FAILURE.

    So, given what YOU believe about the climate situation, is EP correct?

  43. 143
    nigelj says:

    Killian @136

    “Why in the name of gods would I do that? All of you blathering on about population like a bunch of damned fools? WTF are any of you going to be able to do about population? ”

    Then dont enter conversations that you havent read. And there are plenty of things that we can do about population trends, and especially getting population growth to slow faster than it is, that have been discussed on this website countless times and can be easily googled.

    “you would know I was referring specifically to tribal communities practicing Islam, which is a religion I have a low tolerance for”

    “Because you’re a bigoted rock-head,”

    I’m not bigoted. I have no problems with Moslems as such. Im an athiest and so not a fan of religions of any sort. I dont care much about regular Islam, and it seems harmless enough. The discussion with Piotr was mostly about Islamic fundamentalism that seems particularly horrible to me. Some of the extreme fundamentalist Christian churches are little better. Extremists are mostly fools.

    “You think they (Islamic fundamentalism) *might* be inclined to encourage population growth because of …your own bigotry.”

    No it was Piotr pushing that idea. I’m a bit sceptical of it. Refer my comments at 108 and 129 Im sceptical that any religions can do much about population growth .

    “Population is not dependent on religion in general….. ”

    I have already indicated Im sceptical that population depends much on religion. Read 108 & 129.

    “And fuck your 3-year-long “Caveman! Straw Man. Jesus, what a fool…”

    I only called you this ONCE because you created the clear impression that you were promoting that. I have since retracted it when you clarified your position. You are the fool because Ive explained this several times and you cant or wont grasp it. People like you with your bad faith and stubborness start wars. Start a tribe with Zebra and Victor, and call it the stubborn persons tribe.

  44. 144
    nigelj says:

    Killian @ 102: “FACT: Tribal peoples practice rather rigorous population management.”

    Can you please provide an internet linked source on that? Because a quick google shows various tribal peoples have high fertility rates, and the thing keeping the size of population down is high infant mortality. Unless you are describing high infant mortality as vigorous population management?

  45. 145
    nigelj says:

    David B. Benson @141

    “For all the chit-chat here and all the so-called renewables, here’s the Keeling curve…..I don’t see objective progress…”

    That might be because countries are only slowly replacing coal fired plant with renewables. Its hard to see why nuclear power would move faster. You would need to explain how it would.

  46. 146
    nigelj says:

    Barton Paul Levenson @101

    “n 91: When population increases demand increases, which drives the economy forwards, and makes us prosperous.”

    “BPL: It doesn’t necessarily make us more prosperous per capita.”

    Nigelj: True. I guess India is a good example. India look like they are held back by all sorts of things including religion, the caste structure, an inefficient farming economy, geography, lack of good institutions, no real drive to create a good manufacturing sector. Population growth creates demand which is helpful in driving demand and prosperity (immigration shows this) but is clearly not a sufficient condition.

    However we cant go on using population growth to drive prosperity. Imho there are just to many downsides. And I suggest the world is not short of enough people any more. I would argue we have pretty good economies of scale!

  47. 147

    Noted DBB @141:

    For all the chit-chat here and all the so-called renewables, here’s the Keeling curve:
    https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
    I don’t see objective progress…

    Objectively, this is not progress.  It is fakery.
    Added Al Bundy @142:

    KevinM: Germany spearheaded the decline in emissions in the European Union. Its emissions fell by 8%

    AB: EP’s point is that 8% is a feel-good TOTAL FAILURE.

    So, given what YOU believe about the climate situation, is EP correct?

    I have only three words for this.

    Truth. Will. Out.

  48. 148

    K 133: you’ve never been intellectually honest, so I’m 100% certain you’re trolling.

    BPL: Paranoid much?

  49. 149
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Talking generically about “tribal peoples” as if they were some sort of monolith is just NUTS. Even in Africa you have everything from vast, cosmopolitan cities where tribal identity plays little role to nomadic herders like the Fulani, Masai and Sambury who still live in tribal villages to somewhere in between where you have different villages in the same area where different tribes predominate. The tribal societies in Africa are predominantly agrarian, and it makes sense to have several children to share the hard work.

    On the other hand, tribal groups in the far North or Pacific Islands have practiced fairly stringent population control for hundreds if not thousands of years, precisely because their environments cannot sustain large populations. People do what makes sense for their environment–at least if they are not insulated from the consequences they have on their environment. .

  50. 150
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Zebra@135 That is the thing, exponential growth is often hidden from us, but one thing you can count on–if you have compound interest, you have exponential growth (or runaway inflation) somewhere in the system.

    If one’s parents are kind and have foresight, they will save for their children’s education. That savings is invested and returns interest or capital gains–both of which assume that the principal is invested in an activity that grows exponentially. If, instead, you rely on student loans, then you are paying interest on the principal. But that restricts the sorts of jobs you can take if you don’t want to drown in debt. It drives you into a field where your employer pays you well. I guarantee that your employer does not do so out of charity. They do so because your work makes their profits grow. If their profits do not grow exponentially, even if they are making sufficient money to stay afloat, their stock price tanks, they’re bought up by a vulture capitalist and a)you lose your job and have to find another well paying job subject to the same constraints; or b)the new owners come in, crack the whip and enforce a regime where returns increase exponentially.

    And if you are saving for retirement, either you have to put aside a very significant proportion of your income or you resign yourself to working up until just before you die or you invest your income in an activity that returns interest–e.g. grows exponentially.

    I’ve mainly been speaking of capitalism, but the same is true even if you live in a “planned” economy of a socialist or communist society. The accounting may be different, but if you don’t have a system that returns interest on investment, then the demands of educating the young, caring for the elderly and disabled, etc. will keep people poor or result in unpalatable outcomes (inferior education, poor healthcare for the elderly…).

    Frankly, I have never seen or heard of a society in “equilibrium”. I don’t think humans could live in such a society.

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