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back to article Die for Gaia, save the planet?

The enviroloonies seem to have found their way out of the asylum again: this time to tell us that 70 per cent of Britons should die for the sake of Gaia. That's not quite the way they put it, of course. Rather, the Optimum Population Trust (there's a pedantic part of me that wants to tell them it's Optimal) tells us that the …

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Anonymous Coward

Beware of Geeks bearing oversimplistic equations.

While it's true that technology can mitigate (rather than exacerbate) some aspects of the demand of Humanity upon the resources available, it is also true that in other fields the reverse is the case.

How you view the balance is the important factor. Obviously Ser Worstall is correct in asserting that, to date, Earth plus Tech can support more than the unassisted Earth, but is it a straight factor relationship, or is there a tipping-point where the demands of the demand for Tech start to outweigh its benefits?

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Scratch a Green, uncover a Nazi

Excellent piece.

There has always been a nasty strand of people-hating just under the surface of ecological politics. In the 1970s, Porritt and Goldsmith advocated population kontrol and nobody wanted to know them. The CO2 fright gives them another chance to crawl out of the woodwork.

What all the population-kontrollers seem to miss is that we regulate our population naturally and without coercion, thank you very much. That's not good enough for some people, who will always insist on their right to deny us ours.

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It's _not_ the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

I like a good laugh at the eco-mentalists as much as the next bloke, and the above article is a great dissection of another fact-light regressionist broadside, but let's not put our faith too much in future miracle technologies, eh?

By and large, tech development is controlled by global companies with an interest in protecting the status quo (and probably dire straits too, who knows). The inconvenient truth at the moment is green doesn't pay. No company, unless compelled by stricter laws than we currently have, is going to suddenly cease polluting and start cleaning up. There isn't going to be a Tesla Roadster or a Wrightspeed X1 in every driveway anytime soon.

I agree we can't all suddenly just trade in our laptops for loincloths and pick seven random people to dispose of with spears (as much as we might like to impale the world's more irritating celebs), but we can't just shrug this off and assume that technology will miraculously solve all our environmental problems. We have to keep pushing our elected reps and vote with our wallets to keep green issues on the agenda.

G

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Black Helicopters

Rainbow Six

Maybe its a matter of time until someone decides to try the same thing that formed the major plot line for Rainbox Six. Extremist Tree Huggers genetically engineering a virus to kill off all the population but their chosen ones.

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CO

"Each piece of land is only allowed to count once. The land needed to recycle CO2 emissions is somehow different land from that needed to grow the food: that plants eat CO2 to turn it into my food gets missed."

Of course, CO2 that is turned into your food is fairly quickly released back into the environment as CO2 or other carbon compounds, by the act of eating it, therefore it is is not an effective method for recapturing carbon which has been released from fossil fuels. Plants that are grown to capture carbon need to stay as living plants in order to keep it locked up. The plants will obviously eventually die and release their carbon so it is debatable as to whether or not they are a good carbon store either, however this simple fact does support the idea that the land you need to "support" the burning of fossil fuels is different to the land you need to grow food for you to eat.

It appears that an economist is as well qualified to comment on environmental biology as a physicist.

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Coat

So ...

... now they've identified the problem when can we expect to hear they've done something about it ? Depending on their membership numbers, they could at least have some effect on the overpopulation issue.

BTW the website is boring, suggest they redo it in Flash using F.O.D. by Green Day as an audio track and a nice Malthusian theme ...

MINE IS THE HOODED BLACK ROBE WITH THE SCYTHE POCKET

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Anonymous Coward

Reminds me of How to Irritate people

...the 70's special starring John Cleese, where he quoted British Telecom, which in response to a customer complaint regarding delay of installation of phone line responded:

"We're sorry, but there are too many people on this island."

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Anonymous Coward

(no title)

It's been obvious to many for ages that this country is overpopulated. Yet the authorities still encourage/support breeding and immigration. Never mind quibbling about technical details; there needs to be encouragement to reduce the population (by natural wastage :-)), give everyone more living space, and ensure our impact, at our required standard of living, is sustainable.

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Stop

The Big Question

The question, phrased as simply as I can put it, is this.

IF the Earth can only sustain *either* fifteen billion* people scratching out a meagre living in the dirt *or* three billion* people living the all-electric decadent Western lifestyle, AND everyone ultimately is going to end up with the same standard of living,

Which is it to be?

* these figures aren't meant to be accurate -- they are for illustration only.

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Coat

If the world population was optimal XX years ago;

then tell every country to return to its population in that year. Sounds fair? The UK would emerge almost unscathed by this plan...

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Serious Question...

Assumption: that viable electric guns are developed that can put stuff into space at escape velocity (ie no need for chemical/fossil-fuel) rockets.

Question: with current/predicted technology, does a fission power station produce enough power to heat up my shower, and have enough left over to get rid of its waste at the aforementioned escape velocity?

If not, we're stuffed.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

I'm not sure why the IPCC report is mentioned (nor so briefly), and why it's implied the conclusion was 'invent some new tech and we'll be fine'. My brief reading of the executive summary of that report seemed to indicate the only relevance of technology was in reducing emissions alongside social and political adaptation; never was the idea of a technological silver bullet mentioned.

I also noted that the justification for I = (P x A)/T wasn't much stronger than I = PxAxT; surely technological advancement has an impact on quality of life that affects the usage of land for luxury versus subsidence crops, and also on overconsumption? Nor is 'higher technology' qualified - it's implied higher technology is always lower emissions by the author, but I doubt that's true in most cases where it's simply being able to afford something more 'powerful'. nor is the incidence of technology mentioned; if technology makes things cheaper, what if there are more of them to give off (individually decreased) emissions?

Not that i'm agreeing with the 'kill everyone' lot (we need more plausible solutions to things like climate change and famine due to overpopulation/resource scarcity); just that this article read more set out as an attack upon a strawman than a considered argument.

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The affects of affluence on population

Something else people forget to take into account is that with increasing technology and personal affluence comes reduced birthrates.

Many developed countries are seeing plumetting birthrates, in some cases to significantly below the replacement rate. Of the top of my head I think that Japan, Italy and France all have very low birthrates, and the UK is going the same direction.

When the probability of your child making it to five (let alone adult-hood) is about 75%, and your only security for the future is your kids, your natural tendancy is to have lots of them. When you are a middle-class educated couple in the UK/US/Europe whose kids will have a very low chance of dying before you, you have one or two. Very few of my friends (I'm 29) are planning to have more than two kids.

With improved affluence, and especially life expectancy, around the world, the population expansion would become self limiting. The best thing we can do for the planet is to spread the cleanest and most efficient technologies to the largest population possible and lift them out of mass poverty. Of course, that would require governments in developed countries to stop being self interested and in-thrall to established industries (I'm looking at you Common Agricultural Policy and US farm subsidies).

Of course a shrinking population brings lots of other problems, but on the whole they are better problems to deal with than the alternative, which is vast numbers living in miserable poverty.

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Pedantics

>>>> I = (P x A)/T

...so according to this, we'll all be inventing technologies massively more efficient, and CO2 friendly than we do now, and it will continue forever? Yeah, good luck with that. Crop yields 1% increase a year? Talkto any biologist about how sustainable that is...I assume the accessible clean water table will be increasing by the same...? Your formula is as bad as the OPT's.

>>>> Each piece of land is only allowed to count once. The land needed to recycle CO2 emissions is somehow different land from that needed to grow the food: that plants eat CO2 to turn it into my food gets missed.

...this wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that any energy released from the food ends up as CO2 and the net effect is zero, or net CO2 production due to inefficiencies in the cycle? Bit like biofuels really...

The OPT report is still admittedly flawed, but they're on the right track - the world *is* too populated given the technology levels we currently have. But I see no sensible notes from either author on the effects of population on Water, Biodiversity, Biomass, Biosegmentation, Habitat destruction, Pollution, (land, sea, air), Power generation...I could go on.

I'd love to see how Tim makes these fit his frankly rubbish formula, but the OPT is no better. They could make a real case if they just got their sh1t together.

It's easy to pick individual arguements apart, but frankly both these guys have no idea what they're talking about. F- for both, and I've scribbled in the margin: "Must do more research...".

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Anonymous Coward

@Dr Stephen Jones

It makes me laugh that in this world of so-called free-thinking and open minded people that there are some valid concepts that are ridiculed. Here's three just off the top of my head:

1. Legalisation of drugs

2. Communism

3. Population reduction

Do what you like with the world, i won't be here to see it but if some of you want to see it then stop ridiculing concepts just because it's trendy. How about thinking for a change?

Why is the concept of population reduction to be ridiculed? We don't regulate our population naturally at all (are you sure you're a doctor - I'm assuming not a medical doctor). Medicine is to blame for us not regulating our population naturally. How natural is it for a human to live for 100 years? The rest of the calculations follow - if we procreate at the same rate but live longer then the population grows (which leads to an increase in procreation as there are more people - it's not rocket science).

Personally, I feel the world would be a better place without 6 thousand million people on it (only some of whom can count). I think a number of around 17,000 would be good for the planet, let alone the UK.

By the way: Someone's already used the N word so I invoke Godwin's Law.

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Happy

OK by me

But surely we don't have to kill the 70% do we? A few Big Brother housemates, politicians, & other general riff-raff obviously have to go but there must be loads of room in Poland for the rest.

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Paris Hilton

misanthropy, misanthropy they've all mi... no, that doesn't work

The enviroloonies seem to have found their way out of the asylum again: this time to tell us that 70 per cent of Britons should die for the sake of Gaia. That's not quite the way they put it, of course.

----

Actually that is almost EXACTLY how I'd put it, substitute "Britons" for "humans" though and you're about there... ooh, 70% may be a little low as well.

Hmmm.... OK, not so much an enviroloonie, more an out-and-out misanthropist.

[please note: the above comment is not meant to be taken entirely seriously - thank you]

Then again, it's all transitory anyway - our sun only has an expected lifetime of another 4 billion years or so, Earth will be uninhabitable in about 3 billion. Homo Sapiens will have either become extinct or evolved into something else long before then.

Where's the PH angle? Next evolutionary step? Judging by the 'tard chav kids everywhere, intelligence seems to be an evolutionary dead-end.

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Stop

Department of Making Up Equations

I'd love to know the dimensionality (i.e., units) of "technology".

The fact that you happily swap it from numerator to denominator suggests it's dimensionless... Ah. How do you know something is 1.2 times as technological? Welll... I'd have kept some respect halfway if you'd started about negative correlations, but just moving it around is surreal.

Hm hm... given that the dollar:pound exchange rates have crashed in recent years (say -30%), and pollution hasn't significantly gone up or down (most people just sputter on as usual), then either equation (yours or the ehrlich-rubbish) concludes that technology has differentially (between US and UK) gone up or down with that same factor (say 30%), something we'd have noticed I say. For a good explanation you get a cookie.

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Why do you leap to the conclusion that "population control" equates to "killing people"

Why do you insist in wilfully misinterpreting this issue?

Population control means stopping the current massive growth (and over time getting the human population down to levels that can be sustained indefinitely) - NOT in perpetrating genocide.

And no matter how good the technology, infinite growth can not be sustained on a finite planet.

In fact, if you understood a little more (or god forbid) did some research you'd understand what a great excuse to bash the current US president this is; they currently insist that ALL aid they give comes with no birth control advice whatsoever - and that all AIDS prevention work concentrates on abstinence and not prevention via condom. Yet another eason why he is guilty of genocide.

But to return to the point - I think you will find most Greenies advocate controlling population growth by better education of women and making condoms free in the third world... - as opposed to say taking out every journo that wilfully misunderstands issues and deliberately spreads lies and putting them up against the wall...

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Alert

All the governments fault

I love the way people keep blaming everything on the policies of Western Governments, as if the decisions of Government have nothing to do with them.

Governments, like everything else, are selve-serving organisations. There may be individuals who are looking to do a good deed (and others looking to make a fast buck) but, as a whole, the government is attempting to stay in power as long as possible. The only way they can do this is to persuade people to vote for it.

That means that the decisions it is making are entirely designed to persuade you and me to continue voting for them and keep them in power!

I.E. blaming the government is blaming yourself!

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Pirate

Geeks, equations, and casual observation.

Articles and "equations" like those in this story are what give both the greenies and the techies bad reputations. Too broad, too simplistic, and fatally removed from the fact that people are still fairly primitive animals. When (if) the shit hits the fan the only one's left will be those who know how to fend for themselves. Tech will not help you any more than a particle accelerator will help a hedgehog.

Right now a huge problem is the growth of the "information society" which is founded on displaced labor (i.e you do nothing that sustains life and expect someone else to handle all the life-critical stuff while you spend your time in an office building). Going forward Humans stand the risk of mass destruction from engineered lifeforms and genetic manipulation put forth by the same people that believe displaced labor is good for mankind. People who have too much education who have almost no knowledge of the "real world" because they have spent their lives in school and office buildings.

We're all screwed. But you can maximize your chances of survival by not forgetting fundamental skills like hunting, foraging, shelter building, and while you're at it learn a bit about animal husbandry. When the end comes you can watch as your friends and colleagues die from starvation while you spend your time providing for yourself and the harem you have built to repopulate the Earth.

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Anonymous Coward

We're all going to DRY!

We're not going to DIE we're going to DRY!

Combustion is

CH4 + 2xO2 = CO2 + 2xH2O + Energy

So Energy is

Energy = CH4 +2xO2- CO2 - 2xH2O

Fission is

U235 + n = Xe140 + Sr94 + 2n + Energy

Substituting for Energy

U235 + n -> Xe140 + Sr94 + 2n +CH4 + 2xO2 -2xH2O - CO2

So on the face of it, Fission consumes CO2 and produces atmospheric oxygen. But before you start celebrating, notice that little -2xH2O, it also reduces the amount of water in the planet!

If we do Fission we're ALL GOING TO DRY! First it will be the fish that will notice. Do you like fried halibut? Me neither, but that doesn't matter, they won't be around long if we do fission!

I tell you the WWF says it's true and anyone who can do basic maths can understand it!!

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Re: CO - @AC

Worstall does not state that arable land should count twice - merely that it is wrong to only count it once. You never eat all of the crop, so it is not all going straight back out as CO2. A large percentage of a field of wheat is straw and if I use that as a building material, then it can be tied up in the fabric of a house for the next 100 years.

There is a complex equation here involving the type of crop, uses of waste, impact of farming methods, etc. The problem is that everyone wants a simple equation (a x b x c) to predict the future, when what is needed is a far more complex model. By oversimplifying the model (never mind just getting it wrong), you get ridiculous or dangerous conclusions.

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Sad, nasty people

There is an unfortunate sub-group of humans who seem to lacking the creative-inventive impulse possessed by much of the rest of humanity. The only solutions these people will ever come up with can be characterised by the expression "Stop doing that".

Combine that with the truth pointed out above by Dr. Stephen Jones that:

"There has always been a nasty strand of people-hating just under the surface of ecological politics. "

...and you have a sad, nasty group of people whose statements should always be viewed with caution and skepticism if not automatically dismissed.

Optimism is a much maligned attitude. It is generally viewed as a sign of a lack of seriousness -and most people want to be taken seriously so the pose of pessimist is seen as more socially acceptable.

Nonsense! It's the optimists who make things, invent, expand our possibilities. Who try. The others just want to put a stop to something, anything.

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No need to kill anyone

Get me my skyhook and some nice interstellar real estate.

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Flawed Analysis

There is a number of things wrong with points this article attempts to use to dismiss this field of research:

"The land needed to recycle CO2 emissions is somehow different land from that needed to grow the food: that plants eat CO2 to turn it into my food gets missed"

Clearly you've not thought about that fact that farmland lies uncultivated for a portion of the year in line with the planting/harvesting cycle, thus not absorbing any CO2. You've also not considered that when the sown seeds finally become mature plants, they are still only capable of absorbing a fraction of CO2 compared to the foliage which in various parts of the world was mown down to make way for the farmland. In fact, when you slash and burn a section of rainforest to plant oil palm, you RELEASE a shedload of CO2 right there.

Also the statement that nuclear power has little or no CO2 output is also a fallacy. Sure, the actual generation stage is fairly emission-free, but you have to consider all the related industry behind the scenes. Uranium strip-mining for starters has a huge environmental impact.

I think as someone already hinted at, technology as we know it might well have supported the burgeoning poplace adequately until now, but I am starting to suspect more and more that this has merely been temporarily supporting the overbalanced biosphere of the planet. There will come a point where the balance will collapse - we're already seeing the ill effects intensive chemical-driven farming methods manifesting themselves, and the ability to cheaply buy produce from foreign countries that we take for granted might not last forever. What happens when foreign producers suffer droughts or crop disease? This kind of thing is waiting over the horizon, with seed manufactuers attempting to force non-fertile seed technology on the world, which will have the dangerous side effect of destroying biodiverstiy in our food supply - which is all that protects it from disease and changing climate. When crops start failing in large numbers, humanity is in some very very deep shit indeed.

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What?

"we can reduce the impact by having better technology and there's no need to go round slaughtering the chavs (well, OK, not this reason then)."

This shouldn't even be debated, the ONLY reason required for slaughtering chavs is that they exist!

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Self-regulating

If we end up with too many of us to sustain, then the planet won't be able to sustain us.

Simple really, population control in action.

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Faith in Technology

Mr Worstall obviously has a blind faith in the constant, unlimited progession of technology; a Christian idea as John Gray suggests in his book Straw Dogs, that technology will 'save us' from ourselves. What is he hoping, that GM foods will feed every hungry person without taking up every last bit of space, that sustainable energy will give us (and more of us) enough power to sustain our current electricity dependent lifestyles, that if we do destroy every last bit of wilderness, use every last fossil fuel, pollute every last bit of water and massively destroy the ozone that it will be perfectly ok because technology will have evolved far enough to blast us off to a different, untouched planet? What, other than this, is he hoping technology will do for us?

I for one believe that technology in the form of biological warfare or bombs etc etc, will probably dramatically reduce the world's population anyway in the future. That is the faith I place in technology, what I believe will be its logical outcome and I, for one, believing as I do in a non-humancentric world, will be quite relieved on behalf of the planet.

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Happy

Maths, Chemistry and English

Since we've been forced to look at equations,

bamboozled with chemistry and been presented with a new word (misanthropy - a good word!)

I know my education sucks occasionally (too busy building rail guns)..

Can I stick up my hand and invent a new english word ?

--- Chavite --- (Chav-ite)

Like luddite - but breaking chavs instead of technology..

Seems we have quite a collection of them here today..

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A short addition

"Also the statement that nuclear power has little or no CO2 output is also a fallacy. Sure, the actual generation stage is fairly emission-free, but you have to consider all the related industry behind the scenes. Uranium strip-mining for starters has a huge environmental impact."

The number I gave, about the same as hydro, less than half solar, is the total cycle emissions from nuclear. Yes, including mining, purification etc. The much higher estimates you see bandied about (30% of gas fired for example) come from predictions (which as someone whose day job is in mining, although not of uranium, I do not take seriously for one moment) about the purity of U ore etc in 40-50 years time.

Dr. Jones: I'm with you one 1) for sure, as is the ASI.

"But I see no sensible notes from either author on the effects of population on Water, Biodiversity, Biomass, Biosegmentation, Habitat destruction, Pollution, (land, sea, air), Power generation...I could go on."

Indeed, so could I, at the cost of going rather beyond the 1,000 words or so that the editor asked for.

"Hm hm... given that the dollar:pound exchange rates have crashed in recent years (say -30%), and pollution hasn't significantly gone up or down (most people just sputter on as usual), then either equation (yours or the ehrlich-rubbish) concludes that technology has differentially (between US and UK) gone up or down with that same factor (say 30%), something we'd have noticed I say. For a good explanation you get a cookie."

I claim my cookie because economists don't use market exchange rates to look at such things. Rather, they use PPP exchange rates for cross-country comparisons and these have hardly moved.

"But to return to the point - I think you will find most Greenies advocate controlling population growth by better education of women and making condoms free in the third world..."

Another extremely ineffective plan. 90% of changes in actual fertility come from changes in desired fertlilty, not access to birth control. (Try googleing for "desired fertility", you'll find the paper). Desired fertility seems to change in correlation with wealth (real wealth, not just financial). That's why all of the industrialised nations (with the exception of the US which has issues over first generation immigrants) have birth rates below replacement.

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Re: Beware of Geeks bearing oversimplistic equations

"How you view the balance is the important factor. Obviously Ser Worstall is correct in asserting that, to date, Earth plus Tech can support more than the unassisted Earth, but is it a straight factor relationship, or is there a tipping-point where the demands of the demand for Tech start to outweigh its benefits?"

Actually, how about: there is no tipping point, and his equation is closer to the truth?

The thing is, in PxAxT, technology is counted at least twice. The affluence (and to some extent population) are a direct result of technology. When you have PxA, you already counted technology at least once. Doing another xT is double dipping.

But the important part in determining the rest is that we already have PxA, not just P. If you want to compare impact to stone age times, it's crucial in that pseudo-science equation that you'd have to not just maintain 6 billion people, but also keep them at the same standard of living. That's what we have to figure out how to relate to T.

And I say that then it becomes bloody obvious that it should be _divided_ by T.

Think of keeping your current standard of living with early 18'th century tech, where the liquid fuel was whale fat. How many whale a day would you have to kill even to just keep everyone's homes as well lit as today? Now add street lamps? Etc. We're not even getting as far as cars, before having to exterminate all the whales within _days_.

So at the same PxA, the impact there is bloody obviously higher with lower tech. So it's /T so far.

Want to go 1000 years back instead? Well, that's cool, because back then crop yield was 2 to 7 grains reaped for 1 grain sown. You'd need to completely raze every single square inch of woodland of several Earths and turn it into farms, and every square mile of sea overfished, just to _feed_ those 6 billion people. You know, that's just the P part. Want to maintain PxA? Well, heh, it's not even possible to maintain the A with that tech, so I guess we'd have to cheat a bit and increase P about 100 times and settle for 100 times less A. That's almost a thousand Earths with the whole ecosystem razed and turned into farms, to maintain the same PxA. It's an eco-catastrophe beyond your wildest dreams.

And if you go even further back, as the article notes, you start having major problems even maintaining the P.

Want to look at present day and near future? Well, for a start nuclear power already gives you the same energy (which pretty much is proportional to PxA) at a lot less eco-impact. Repeat after me: that's just one tech increase where at the same PxA, the impact is _lowered_. Then if we ever get fusion working, it gets even better.

And btw, that isn't some freak exception either. If you look at most forms of energy we used before, we _are_ doing better. Converting even coal to electricity with turbines, is _way_ more efficient than the crude steam engines of the 19'th century. So whether it's transporting the same number of people the same number of kilometers, or using that energy to power a factory producing the same amount of goods, we are producing less CO2 nowadays for the same work done.

So there's no way that the impact increases even more with increased technology. Sorry. Dividing by T sounds a lot more palatable there, any way I want to look at it. In fact, since T is factored already in both P and A, I'd actually divide by T squared, myself. Seriously.

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Stop

Please also be aware...

...that poverty is not caused by over-population. Rather, poverty is the main cause of over-population. The scenario is that people with no healthcare or pensions have lots of children in the hope that at least some of them will survive to look after them in old age. When healthcare is provided, population levels tend to stabilise.

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Bedwetters vs rationality

Fear vs rationality

The definition of "fear" and "scare" is holding an irrational anxiety, one that is not supported by the evidence. I'm surprised by the number of commenters who fall into this category.

If you view technological and scientific innovation as some kind of "miracle", and therefore a "risky" strategy, then you're ignoring the evidence of history. Technological and scientific innovation are why we don't still live in caves, and why we're not dying of typhoid or TB in large numbers.

To assume otherwise - "We're Doomed!" - may appeal to bedwetters, but is quite an irrational view to take. We know we have the brainpower: all it takes is judiciously directed scientific investment over a wide range of areas, and a working economic system. Unfortunately scientific investment is being directed towards a very narrow area: proving we're doomed!

To paraphrase FDR, the only thing we have to fear are the bedwetters themselves.

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Pirate

Rich because we don't have kids

Can I suggest a reversal of the causal relationship between affluence and fertility? Surely we have less kids to spend more on ourselves!

Generally, new immigrants don't learn this until the second generation

In rural communities, large families are there to do the hard work so Dad can drink beer all day.

All the people I know talk about 'affording' children.

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Almost Right

It is true that more technology allows more people to live on a given patch of land at a certain level of affluence. It is even true that it allows more people to do so sustainably than could do so before. So you're right that their equation is wrong.

But saying that we don't have to constrain population and affluence, as long as we don't constrain technology, is not quite right. For example, steam engines didn't come along until a lot of people were miserable even with the productivity increases steam power provided. New technologies come along when they're ready, not when we would like to have them, and the natural tendency of population is to increase quickly enough so that the general condition of mankind is such desperate poverty as to leave no margin to worry about sustainability.

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Coat

@ Naomi

What a charming point of view! ...

"I for one believe that technology in the form of biological warfare or bombs etc etc ... and I, for one, believing as I do in a non-humancentric world, will be quite relieved on behalf of the planet."

Does this help you get dates?

Or are you happy in "non-humancentric world" with just your robots (and Goths) for company?

This seems to prove the author's point nicely - some people have a low self-esteem, and really hate themselves. Wishing death on everyone else follows naturally. And it's all in the name of "the planet".

(Forget the coat - I can't get out of here fast enough!!)

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Flame

Horrid Misquote.

"perhaps they've come over all Fran Liebowitz ("Children don't smoke enough and I find that they're sticky, perhaps as a result of not smoking enough")"

I'm not sure I've ever seen such a brutal misquote, I believe you wanted to say:

"Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky. "

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@AC Dry

You're 'maths' just proved that reversing nuclear fission using methane and oxygen produces Uranium, water and CO2.

U235 + n -> Xe140 + Sr94 + 2n +CH4 + 2xO2 -2xH2O - CO2

U235 + n +CO2 + 2*H2O = Xe140 + Sr94 + 2n +CH4 + 2xO2

Where CH4 + 2xO2 is the energy source.

Also known as a complete load of balls.

Getting nuclear fusion right will solve the majority of our CO2 production problems.

Okay, we're going to need some new battery tech or a hydrogen distribution system to go along with it, but fusion will cut industrial and energy generation CO2 to zero very quickly.

Once the distribution system is in place it cuts the pollution of personal transport, it would immediately cut the production of pollution from many forms of public.

Then we can go back to worrying about petrochemicals running out and the myriad other ways that we are polluting the planet.

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Flame

Both wrong.

It just ISN'T possible to estimate this kind of thing with a simple equation, it simply doesn't address the (literally) millions of different variables, most of which, we cannot anticipate.

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once again the holy fervor of the green left is showing in comments

This article is dead on target. The comments I see for the most part reflect the green left that CO2 is a pollutant, one comment in particular I have to question is " CO2 that is turned into your food is fairly quickly released back into the environment as CO2 or other carbon compounds, by the act of eating it, therefore it is is not an effective method for recapturing carbon which has been released from fossil fuels." first the carbon that is consumed by people is converted to body mass not released for the most part, second I wonder why the fixation on CO2 when levels of this trace gas in the air are relatively low compared to many times in the history of the planet?

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Unhappy

And on the back of another envelope

I have some scribblings that suggest it will take 40 years of zero births to reduce the British population to this sustainable level.

Which means that sustaining that population will depend on the fertility of women in their forties; not something I'd care to bet on. Or a slower, managed, reduction, leaving a sufficient number of healthy young women

And do we have 40 years?

So it's either emigration or an increased death rate. And I bet they think that#s going to be somebody else. It always is.

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Alien

And yet the obvious solution is still not mentioned.

Space Migration !

If the green Nazis (I'm with everyone on that issue) are going to use this argument, e.g that no matter what we do w/r/t to technology or other issues, there are still to many people on earth, then perhaps they will STFU with their claims that money spent on space exploration and colonisation could be better spent on lifting the world put of poverty. Since by this logic, that money is also wasted.

And then we can finally get on with it without the tedious bastards whining about it.

You need three earths ? OK, lets go and find another couple. Sorted.

Alien icon, because, well, space y'know.

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Paris Hilton

Population control

I've always wondered why the human race (or at least the British population) has not degraded.

If you look at the demographics of which part of society is having the most kids, in Western society, you will find that the best educated, highest earning portion of the society is the one having the least number of children.

If you go down to the Chav end, they are having the most (this is by observation, not statitistics, but my gut feel is that it is true).

So in theory, assuming that abillity and education follow down the generations (educated people are more likely to make sure that their children are educated than non-educated people), why has the population of these societies not ended up at the chav end of the spectrum.

Oh. Maybe it has. Hence dumbing down everywhere. And here is another example. Paris! (OK, not so good as the Hiltons are slightly rich, but as good a reason for the icon as any!)

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Anonymous Coward

My god you're right

"You're 'maths' just proved that reversing nuclear fission using methane and oxygen produces Uranium, water and CO2."

My god you're right! That means that means we should avoid reverse fission at all costs, otherwise we'll irradiate the planet with excess Uranium and floods from H2O and global warming from green house gas CO2 will KILL US ALL!

What is fission? It's the breaking down of large molecules into smaller ones.

What is fusion? It's the joining together of small molecules into larger ones!

So Fusion IS reverse fission! We should avoid it at all costs to save the planet!

Remember folks, no Fishing if we do Fission, and fusion is NO solution!

Yours

Mathis Wackernagel, chief Scientision of WWF!

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Loads of balls, and sex in full body condoms

That light-hearted remark may be nearer the mark than suspected. The role of anthropologist Margaret Mead in creating the GW/mathusian bandwagon is documented here: http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles%202007/GWHoaxBorn.pdf. Only her ghost could now tell us if her aim was to render a hyperreal nostalgia really real (for a Chosen few).

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Population growth for next 7 billion years

"The late great Julian Simon once calculated that we had the resources for a permanently growing economy and population for the next 7 billion years."

.. if the population grows by one person every couple of years.

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Alert

Problems & Solutions

Taking the point that the ratio of non-productive (chavs) to productive people is going up, then there are a couple of possible outcomes:

1) Technology improves so that a smaller productive population can sustain a greater proportion of chavs.

2) Technology degrades so that chavs are forced to become productive (e.g. as livestock or beasts of burden).

3) Technology improves so that Chavs can be turned into bio-diesel or used as a carbon sink.

As far as the Green Nazis are concerned, then I'd definitely question their green-credentials if they're not willing to volunteer for the population reduction thing first (either by euthanasia or sterilisation) - hint for Naomi.

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Coat

Nothing like quoting loony extremists

It always helps push emotional reaction toward the opposite extreme.

In which case when can put our ear buds back in our ears and forget about it.

Probably the truth lies somewhere in between and is not as tragic as quoted, but is also not nearly as rosy as Simon would have us believe.

Unless one really thinks that technology can conquer all. Maybe we can clone an army of Julian Simons!...er...I hope he doesn't eat much.

Cheers,

Matthew

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