klapauzius
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:48 pm

AndyH wrote:The growth is clearly exponential, though as you point out the RATE is changing. It's not the growth RATE that's eating all the potatoes - it's the 2.4 new people on the planet EACH SECOND that want to eat. ;)
I think here lies your misconception of an exponential curve...You can express any real valued time series in terms of an instantaneous rate, that does not make it exponential. Note that the logistic function, y=1/(1+exp(-t)) can look like an e-function for some time.
AndyH wrote: It's all of them...or none.
Exactly, so how much value would you attribute to such a number? Would you start digging a bunker and hoarding ammunition based on such predictions???
AndyH wrote: Did you catch the part that we're already over 1.4 Earth's TODAY? We don't have time to sit back and wait for sub-Saharan Africa to reach Western European economic levels! (With or without a 'war' on women and/or contraception!)

Yes, but again, that is a >> rate <<. Such levels will have to come down OR we will increase the "capacity" of our planet,
as we have done time and time again in the past. I said it somewhere else already, but by the capabilities and standards of e.g. the Roman Empire, we would already have exceeded the earths "capacity" by a 100 times and more. Yet we are still here, all 7 billion of us.

Sub-Saharan Africa will reach western European economic levels ( I hope) eventually, or indeed population limits will take effect through famine, disease and war, not unknown in these regions. But I am hopeful. Give them a few more decades and they will come around too. Keep in mind Africa is less than 1 billion people, so their impact will not be severe anyway. So there is plenty of time for them to develop.

But look at Asia, which makes up the bulk of humanity, and the numbers there look rather encouraging.

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LTLFTcomposite
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:18 pm

Population, just like real estate and dot com stocks, can never go down.

Oh well, one good asteroid hit and none of it will matter. Who knows, maybe 50 million years from now we'll be the ones they're pumping out of the ground to put in their gas tanks.
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klapauzius
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:23 pm

LTLFTcomposite wrote:Population, just like real estate and dot com stocks, can never go down.

Oh well, one good asteroid hit and none of it will matter. Who knows, maybe 50 million years from now we'll be the ones they're pumping out of the ground to put in their gas tanks.
Who knows what we are pumping out the ground to put in OUR gas tanks :D

AndyH
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:46 pm

klapauzius wrote:
AndyH wrote:The growth is clearly exponential, though as you point out the RATE is changing. It's not the growth RATE that's eating all the potatoes - it's the 2.4 new people on the planet EACH SECOND that want to eat. ;)
I think here lies your misconception of an exponential curve...You can express any real valued time series in terms of an instantaneous rate, that does not make it exponential. Note that the logistic function, y=1/(1+exp(-t)) can look like an e-function for some time.
Thanks but really I do understand. You're expecting a logistic curve for humanity so are likely seeing the beginning of the curve from exponential to level-ish ;). I agree (and hope) that we're smart enough to reach a sustainable level, but we won't know until we look backward to know if it was logistic/sigmoid or boom-bust.

Where we are now:
Image

Possible future outcomes:
Image
Image
Image

Considering that we've got more than 7 billion of us pulling in different directions, it ain't lookin' good for the home team just yet... :lol:
klapauzius wrote:Yes, but again, that is a >> rate <<. Such levels will have to come down OR we will increase the "capacity" of our planet,
as we have done time and time again in the past. I said it somewhere else already, but by the capabilities and standards of e.g. the Roman Empire, we would already have exceeded the earths "capacity" by a 100 times and more. Yet we are still here, all 7 billion of us.
But in the past the capacity increases have come in a relatively 'large bottle' by making better food, messing with bread mold (medicine) and other tech achievements. The limiting factor in the past wasn't the planet. This time around appears to be very different - we've run out of bottle! We're living off principle and interest now - deficit spending, deficit mining, deficit water extraction...you get it, I'll stop. ;)

As I sit here we humans are still growing our numbers 145 souls each minute and we will continue to do so until later when we might reach the predicted 0.5% rate in 2040ish (when we'll still be adding people). But we crossed the 1-planet ecological footprint in about 1985 by one estimation[1] and this "population Titanic" of ours isn't slowing enough to make a noticeable change in wake. We're living on borrowed time and we don't know when the Mother is going to call the loan. And realizing that most people in the US don't even know that there is a problem and that they should be rowing backward as hard as they can doesn't leave me feeling very secure... ;)

Image

[1] http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/al ... et_report/
Last edited by AndyH on Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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klapauzius
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:05 pm

AndyH wrote: But in the past the capacity increases have come in a relatively 'large bottle' by making better food, messing with bread mold (medicine) and other tech achievements. The limiting factor in the past wasn't the planet. This time around appears to be very different - we've run out of bottle! We're living off principle and interest now - deficit spending, deficit mining, deficit water extraction...you get it, I'll stop. ;)
I beg to differ.
a) There is lots more to discover. Progress has nowhere slowed down.
b) All the stuff we mine or the water we use does not vanish. It can (and will) be recycled.
All you need is energy to do this. The sun provides way more energy than we can possibly
use right now, we just need to harvest it.
Here e.g. that cartoon you posted is grossly wrong: We are far from utilizing all the sunlight reaching the earth.

c) There is a lot of fat (literally too) to trim, that wont hurt anyone. I dont care much for golf courses in the desert, nor for 7-ton SUVS (and believe it or not, I have kids too to drive around town), nor do I need a TV running all day to make me happy. If you take all that (and more), there will be room for a lot more people to live comfortable, until world population reaches its peak.

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Nekota
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:41 pm

The US used 95 Quads of energy in 2010. Take the current US population of 310 million and a 78 year life expectancy to get a total energy per person per lifetime. Now if you get all your energy from nuclear for those 78 years you would need a big pile of uranium and would leave a big pile of waste behind.

That big uranium pile would weigh 310 grams and fit inside a 3 inch box. The recycled waste pile would also weigh 310 grams since fission doesn't consume much mass. Why we can't get people to use electric cars seems to be going the way of why we can't use nuclear power.

There are real working solutions available but we choose to do something else. Either you are part of the solution or you are part of the problem.
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AndyH
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 9:47 pm

klapauzius wrote:
AndyH wrote: But in the past the capacity increases have come in a relatively 'large bottle' by making better food, messing with bread mold (medicine) and other tech achievements. The limiting factor in the past wasn't the planet. This time around appears to be very different - we've run out of bottle! We're living off principle and interest now - deficit spending, deficit mining, deficit water extraction...you get it, I'll stop. ;)
I beg to differ.
You don't have to beg - agreeing to disagree is fine with me. :lol:
klapauzius wrote:a) There is lots more to discover. Progress has nowhere slowed down.
b) All the stuff we mine or the water we use does not vanish. It can (and will) be recycled.
All you need is energy to do this. The sun provides way more energy than we can possibly
use right now, we just need to harvest it.
Here e.g. that cartoon you posted is grossly wrong: We are far from utilizing all the sunlight reaching the earth.
:shock: What? The 'cartoon' is not about energy - it's about the sum of all we're taking from AND DOING TO the planet on which we depend. (The source is linked in the post, BTW.) Energy is only one small part of the process.

As for recycling finite resources, it's probably not socially acceptable to take the Coke can away from Joe before she's finished the drink in order to recycle it! Ok, maybe too obscure. Continually dividing the number of tons of available aluminum among a continually growing population suggests that we'd better forget 12 ounce drinks and learn to accept little 2-ounce cans - for a while, anyway.

Look back at the carrying capacity/logistic curve for a minute. This beautiful curve represents "The maximum number of individuals of a given species that a particular environment can support for an indefinite period, assuming the environment doesn't change."

That blue part is significant, because we're not growing our population in isolation in a lab. Neither are we continually adding more CO2 to the atmosphere in isolation, or releasing more chemicals (the effects of which we have zero clue) into the environment in isolation, or cutting down all the trees in isolation. We've got a boatload of variables running around in no semblance of order and they all dramatically affect the outcome of the experiment and the eventual shape of the population curve.

Just from a CO2 stand point - paleoclimate folks have charted that the planet has made regular and routine dramatic temperature shifts - in as little as 10 years from toasty to ice age - in the past in response to CO2. One of the fears is that we're in the vicinity of one of those tipping points now (or maybe next year? Wanna bet?). That's just one graph-shape-changer -- and it's connected to the elbow bone and up to total population. (Don't look at me - I don't know what's going to happen - but I'm certainly not looking to buy property within 200' of mean sea level!)

I guess the main reason I don't think a single logistics curve is the right match to the data is because it's clear that we've already overshot the carrying capacity - otherwise we wouldn't be in the deficit zone in so many areas critical to our survival. I hope I'm wrong.
klapauzius wrote:c) There is a lot of fat (literally too) to trim, that wont hurt anyone. I dont care much for golf courses in the desert, nor for 7-ton SUVS (and believe it or not, I have kids too to drive around town), nor do I need a TV running all day to make me happy. If you take all that (and more), there will be room for a lot more people to live comfortable, until world population reaches its peak.
Sorry - just like unplugging the cell-phone charger -- it's an atom in the ocean.

Have a good evening up there!
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AndyH
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:02 pm

Nekota wrote:The US used 95 Quads of energy in 2010. Take the current US population of 310 million and a 78 year life expectancy to get a total energy per person per lifetime. Now if you get all your energy from nuclear for those 78 years you would need a big pile of uranium and would leave a big pile of waste behind.

That big uranium pile would weigh 310 grams and fit inside a 3 inch box. The recycled waste pile would also weigh 310 grams since fission doesn't consume much mass. Why we can't get people to use electric cars seems to be going the way of why we can't use nuclear power.

There are real working solutions available but we choose to do something else. Either you are part of the solution or you are part of the problem.
With respect, Nekota, how much ground is removed to extract the ore that is processed to the required concentration? How much low-level radioactive and poisonous waste is created just in the mining phase?
In terms of both short and long term environmental impact, uranium mining is by far the most environmentally problematic of any mining activity because radioactivity of the ore presents an intangible that cannot be chemically mitigated. Even after the mining activities ceased on the Navajo Nation, the legacy of environmental harm continued from events such as what happened in 1979 at Church Rock. The Church Rock disaster is the largest accidental release of radioactive material in U.S. history. A tailing dam burst, sending eleven hundred tons of radioactive mill wastes and ninety million gallons of contaminated liquid pouring toward Arizona into the Rio Puerco River. The Navajo still cannot use this water
http://serc.carleton.edu/research_educa ... ental.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

We've gotta do better than this - and it's certainly about more than 310 grams. :(
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AndyH
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:06 pm

klapauzius wrote:Here e.g. that cartoon you posted is grossly wrong: We are far from utilizing all the sunlight reaching the earth.
The cartoon's been updated, and the 2012 report is due out in mid-may. Here's the thumbnail sketch from the 2010 report:
1.5 Earths
Ecological overshoot is growing
During the 1970s, humanity as a whole passed the point at which the annual Ecological Footprint matched the Earth’s annual biocapacity — that is, the Earth’s human population began consuming renewable resources faster than ecosystems can regenerate them and releasing
more CO2 than ecosystems can absorb. This situation is called “ecological overshoot”, and has continued since then. The latest Ecological Footprint shows this trend is unabated (Figure 16). In 2007, humanity’s Footprint was 18 billion gha, or 2.7gha per person. However, the Earth’s biocapacity was only 11.9 billion gha, or 1.8gha per person (Figure 17 and GFN, 2010a). This represents an ecological overshoot of 50 per cent. This means it would take 1.5 years for the Earth to regenerate the renewable resources that people used in 2007 and absorb CO2 waste. Put another way, people used the equivalent of 1.5 planets in 2007 to support their activities (see Box: What does overshoot really mean?).
Source: 2010 report, page 18 in the PDF
http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/lpr2010.pdf
What does overshoot really mean?

How can humanity be using the capacity of 1.5 Earths, when
there is only one? Just as it is easy to withdraw more money
from a bank account than the interest this money generates,
it is possible to harvest renewable resources faster than they
are being generated. More wood can be taken from a forest each
year than re-grows, and more fish can be harvested than are
replenished each year. But doing so is only possible for a limited
time, as the resource will eventually be depleted.

Similarly, CO2 emissions can exceed the rate at which
forests and other ecosystems are able to absorb them, meaning
additional Earths would be required to fully sequester these
emissions.

Exhaustion of natural resources has already happened
locally in some places, for example the collapse of cod stocks in
Newfoundland in the 1980s. At present, people are often able
to shift their sourcing when this happens — moving to a new
fishing ground or forest, clearing new land for farming, or
targeting a different population or a still-common species.
But at current consumption rates, these resources will
eventually run out too — and some ecosystems will collapse
even before the resource is completely gone.

The consequences of excess greenhouse gases that cannot
be absorbed by vegetation are also being seen: increasing
concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, leading to increasing
global temperatures and climate change, and ocean acidification.
These place additional stresses on biodiversity and ecosystems.
Last edited by AndyH on Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: World Energy Use - There's No Tomorrow

Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:07 pm

AndyH wrote:Sorry. Unfortunately, it's our number one problem - the single problem that is supporting all the other challenges we face.
I guess it all depends on who "our" is and what they plan to do. I have a theory that we really don't need to do anything about it since I don't see it as a problem.

Population control by means of legislation will likely be met with civil unrest in areas of the world that grasp the concept of liberty (which ironically, any resistance will probably help decrease population even more). I can't speak for anyone else here, but I will not accept government telling me I can't have kids. I don't particularly want kids anyway, but I just don't want big brother figuratively cutting off my balls (or treading on my liberty in any way). :)

Anyway, the data I've seen suggests birth rates are dropping and have been since the 60's. World population will probably peak in my lifetime. It's not something we need to control. It's happening automatically. We will have an interesting time ahead of us, but humans are very resourceful creatures. Never underestimate our ability to adapt. Then again, never underestimate our ability (and desire) for self annihilation. The turn of a few keys and the push of a couple buttons is all that's needed to take care of the population problem once and for all.

I'm not losing any sleep over it.
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