klapauzius wrote: AndyH wrote:
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
The cartoon is not about energy alone, I know, but if you think about it for a moment you will see that in the real world it is all about energy. Therefore it is unnecessary to worry about anything else.
If you explain the coke-can recycling a bit more? I dont understand why we have to take peoples cans away before they finished drinking?
While I agree that for a number of reasons, smaller cans (or portion sizes in general) would be good for peoples health, from a recycling point of view, larger cans would seem better. Or do you think there is not enough aluminum for everyone?
I think there is not a problem with aluminum shortages...However it is a resource that consumes hideous amounts of energy to refine into the final product, so recycling is definitely the way to treat those used soda cans.
I think the cartoon creates the false impression, that in addition to hydrocarbons, we are running out of all the other resources too, but that is just plain nonsense, negligence at best. The reason why all the rare earths come from China for example is NOT because it is the only place where they can be found, but it is currently the only places that REFINES them.
They are probably everywhere, like any other resource.
About the "carrying capacity" of the land: Who defined that number? Do you know how many people can live on a piece of land? Is this truly a constant? (History has shown it is not!). Is this as solid a number as the 14 billion population estimate??
First, an apology. I read 'cartoon' and jumped to the 1.4 earth image from WWF via the Environment text. It looks like you went to the original video. (Here's a piece of 2x4. Feel free to give me a whack in future if I fail to make the jump/connection. Seriously! Thanks.)
The can tangent (cangent?) is a comment on non-renewables. Many seem to think that the best way to decrease the birth rate is to quickly bring the developing world 'up' to developed world levels of industry, education, etc. so that we can benefit from the 'natural' drop in birth rate that'll bring. But it's clear that we simply do not have the raw materials - renewable and non-renewable - to support everyone on the planet living as we do. This problem is way too large and the pieces too interconnected to solve from a narrow perspective. Ultimately that's the real significance of the WWF chart - we hit 1.5 Earths in 2010 and are heading for 2 Earths by about 2030.
edit - stumbled on this today. One study using real CO2 numbers rather than estimates, suggests that GDP growth is more significant for CO2 emissions than short-term population increases.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/0 ... ?ref=green
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar ... 1112000469
Based on what I've found, the video gives a pretty accurate look at the state of renewables and non-renewables. We're at or near peak oil, peak (fresh) water, peak chemical fertilizer...and more.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2 ... phosphorus
Foreign Policy wrote:Our dwindling supply of phosphorus, a primary component underlying the growth of global agricultural production, threatens to disrupt food security across the planet during the coming century. This is the gravest natural resource shortage you've never heard of.
This fertilizer thing is just one piece. Take a wider look - Since 1950 we've lost 20% of agricultural land and 20% of the topsoil on that land, yet we have about twice as many people to feed. The soil that remains is severely damaged and depleted and is biologically dead. This requires using more and more chemical fertilizer to get the same yields - and yet we're running out of fertilizer components (and burning/wasting the organic matter that could be rebuilding the soil instead of putting it back in/on the ground). One more knot in the noose, please?
As for the US, we have about 4% of the population yet use ~25% of the oil, for example. And what do we produce? What's our number one export [to China in 2010
Garbage. Waste. We export waste paper and used steel to China to be recycled - we don't even recycle the majority of our own junk! We send barges full of garbage and hazardous waste to other countries with lower environmental and worker safety requirements.
In order to bring things into balance the developing world does need to develop more - they desperately need food, education, family planning, medicine...engineers and doctors... (Apparently, only 10% of the world's highly skilled professionals - Dr./engineers/etc. are in the developing world - and most of those are in 2 or three countries like Cuba.) But - the developing world - especially the number one producer of waste - US! - needs to do SIGNIFICANTLY better than we have been. I agree - there's plenty of fat to cut.
Carrying capacity of the planet...I haven't seen anything that gives a hard number. One thing we do know, though, via direct measurement, is that we're in deficit territory with regard to some of our waste products - we dump more than the planet can process. Seems we could continue to grow if we can get out waste problem under control...but how much more? Considering the immense population inertia already built into the system, when should we start making adjustments and how quickly? Just as there's a 40 year lag between CO2 emissions and temperature change, we'll not reach zero population growth overnight.
Energy...Sorry, I don't (yet?) agree. It's certainly part of the problem - and maybe one of the more pressing problems (provided you're not one of the ~29,000 kids from zero to 5 that dies of disease or malnutrition each day). But I'm not sure we really can focus solely on energy and ignore the rest. Even if we link energy to CO2 and work to lower our CO2 emissions - the problem is still multifaceted. 40% of emissions are due to energy used to heat/cool buildings. Building codes are changing (but really only apply to new construction), and programs like LEED and others will result in lower energy use over time - but it's really slow - too slow! And doesn't address the existing buildings. Electrifying transportation is great as well - yet it's not the primary polluter, and again it's going to take bloody forever at current rates to make a significant dent in the problem.
Seems to me that we need some significant solutions and need to start some very significant actions yesterday. But it all starts with an attitude adjustment - and with the current US policy (or lack thereof), and Canada pulling out of the Kyoto protocol, seems we're moving attitudes (and progress) in the wrong direction.
Sorry about all the words. I don't know enough yet to communicate this more economically.