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back to article 'Scientists' seek to set world social, economic, tech policy at Rio+20

An international body claiming to represent the world's scientists has issued a set of demands ahead of the "Rio+20" summit this month. In essence the would-be spokesmen say that people should largely stop having babies, old folk should be put to work and most modern technology should be suppressed. The rich nations of the world …

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I've said this before and I'll say it again. You put all women on the patch or something else that they can't forget to take at age 13. You raise the pension age to 70 and increase pension contributions significantly. You offer free healthcare for things which aren't people's fault (type 1 diabetes etc), and charge large amounts for healthcare where it is people's fault (type 2 diabetes, obesity etc). You cut benefits to people who have been out of work due to a medical condition that they have caused.

You make technology to have an expected life span of ten years (including phones, laptops and computers, if everyone has devices with the same capabilities developers won't write software needing more power so it will work, kind of, but the tradeoff is worth is).

You put massive funding into nuclear fusion, hydrogen fuel cells and space travel. You stop all overseas aid. It will work. Granted everyone will moan, strike and generally complain (you need to stop climate change and fix the economy but I don't want it affecting me). It will work. Resource usage will drop exponentially.

Let the down votes begin. "The truth hurts"!

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Anonymous Coward

yeah but that's just taking all the fun out of life isn't it?

and it's not like any of these things are going to be a major problem in my lifetime.

and if i don't have any kids, it's not like i've got any descendants standard of living to be concerned about either. so feck it, screw the future, we're all gonna die with the sun goes cold anyway!

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Oh yeah and while we're working on fusion ban solar / wind and build a load of fission reactors and gas plants (and get on with shale gas extraction).

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Big Brother

The truth hurts

Nice global authoritarian government you are trying to set up there. Here come the patch police raiding little girls bedrooms.

Your 10 year technology idea is ridiculous. If I started dishing out computers with 2002 specs to my customers I would be lynched as they wouldn't be able to half the things they do now.

Step away from the bureaucratic government office and let individuals and markets sort their own shit out! Hey in 10 years time we may have developed Technological singularity AI that will come up with a lot better solutions than yours.

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Meh

Rather than 'putting women on the patch' why not advocate giving all boys the snip instead? Or perhaps instead of Orwellian control of the populace, maybe we could try giving kids the education and aspirations, so that they don't fill the world with babies... I am not an expert in demographics, but I would wager that there is a very strong correlation between more children and less education.

As for raising the pension age, what would you have all these old folks doing? There is already a shortage of jobs for young people with energy and motivation (you cant tell me that the 10% of the population in the EU, for example,who are unemployed are all workshy welfare scroungers).

Your proposals for healthcare are sensible, but fraught with difficulty in enforcing (what role does genetic predisposition play, for example, and who decides which medical conditions are self inflicted?)

Slashing welfare I agree with you on, but again, there must be alternatives, ie jobs for people to do.

Ironically your point about making tech have a longer lifespan, while I agree with it entirely, will in fact serve to reduce still further the number of jobs available - if people's hardware doesn't break or become useless, what incentive is there to consume and thus drive a market. Horribly flawed though this economic model is, that is how it is put together at the moment.

I entirely agree with your final paragraph - massive funding into hard science and tech will drive further development and hopefully a way out of the current mess. Other than that, in the short term, we are stuck with it, short of someone taking drastic and very unpleasant action (if an animal population outgrows its habitat and resources, it crashes, and humans have in the past intervened before the crisis point with a cull...).

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Re: The truth hurts

"Patch police raiding little girls bedrooms" Stop scare mongering. Even in China they don't break into girls bedrooms just to ensure that they are on birth control.

2002 technology. Hmm Lets say 1 ghz, 256mb of ram and a 40gb hdd? For a lot of people that'd be alright. And don't forget that is the oldest stuff, so you'd filter it down. People who need it get modern tech and the old stuff is given to people who don't need it (people who only use the computer to check emails and browse the web a bit), say distributed once every six months. It suddenly becomes managable, especially if we got rid of some of the animations and stuff that soaks up cpu cycles for no reason.

And as for authoritarian government is it really better than what we have now with big corporations ruling the roost? You seriously think this is a true democracy? As in people powered government?

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@Kuugutsu

"Why not give all boys the snip" I suggested the patch since in 15 or 20 years time when we want to start having babies again it is easily reversible, and easy to apply, unlike the snip.

Jobs will be created predominately within the hard science industries and support roles for them. This will capture the younger generations enthusiasm, allowing the older generations to continue in their current roles. This may not be perfect, but it will be a good start to finding jobs.

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Silver badge

Re: The truth hurts

@Benjamin 4: Your proposals are as ludicrous as those of these pseudo-scientists from the original article.

Population growth is not a problem in developed countries, rather the opposite. Forced contraception or any forced medication will always create more problems then they are supposed to solve.

The artificial limits on technological development will only mean that the rest of the world will overtake you in a few months time and you will rapidly slide to being a third world country, where you won't be even able to afford your forced contraception or high technology and your "clever" population control and consumption reduction measures will result in increased pollution and resource wastage.

And authoritarian regimes are never economically competitive in the long term because they block innovation and distort markets.

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Boffin

Re: @Kuugutsu

my suggestion was sarcastic. I do not advocate either intrusive surgery or intrusive compulsory medication as a means to controlling population. Rather, my suggestion was for increased education.

As for more jobs being created in the tech industry, the problem is that the higher the tech, the fewer bodies you need doing stuff. Take SpaceX for example, a high tech company that has just successfully built and launched their own rocket AND orbital vehicle capable of reentry. To do all this, they employ less than 2000 people... To suggest that this nascent tech industry will provide employment for the vast segment of the population as you suggest is very naive. Quite apart from the fact that most people have no aptitude or interest in working in this sector. So we return to the point where the old, no-longer-able-to-retire are directly competing for jobs with the younger generations. What I can forsee happening instead is that 'training' and 'education' will be spun out longer and longer, delaying the age at which people enter work, to compensate for the later age at which they leave work. Unfortunately, however you look at it, youth brings energy and new ideas, and this will be squandered in favour of entrenched, inflexible older workers which will overall stifle innovation and make the situation worse.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have any kind of solutions. My take on the situation, as a resident of europe, is that we are pretty screwed as it stands, and that more development, rather than less, is the only way out...

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Megaphone

Re: The truth hurts

"Even in China they don't break into girls bedrooms just to ensure that they are on birth control." - no, they don't. Instead the state commits infanticide (hard to call forced abortions at 7th month of pregnancy something else) on a large scale.

As for the rest of the proposal - we normally try to live our lives as ethically as possible within means available and assume that our governing bodies will make an attempt to, or at very least won't blatantly break with the ethical norms we are accustomed to. To do otherwise would put an end to democracy (see China).

Science is here to help to provide sufficient energy, food etc. and it mostly works - at least it worked since middle ages. Demonstrably, in these parts of the world where science supported consumption, population growth is now very contained and the resources which are over-used could be often replaced with alternatives if not the Luddites (oil with nuclear energy, GM food etc.). These are the facts, but for Luddites, fear and ideology stand in the way of accepting them.

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@Kuugutsu Re: solutions

Oh there is at least one solution. Just not one socialist Europe is willing to accept: your masses are wrong, and Maggie and Ronnie were right. But hey, it's not like we have a Roman history example or anything.

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Anonymous Coward

Sigh...

"Put all the women on the patch"

And you wonder why we get articles about problems with sexism in IT. I've said it before and I'll say it again: There are a lot of men in IT who think they are too smart to be sexist - usually these are the most sexist and often not that smart.

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"increase pension contributions significantly"

Sorry, doesn't work. I've put an average of 25% of my income into my pension scheme when I was working, with the result that I have no savings and no unemployment benefit because I have an "asset". Consequently, I either starve now, or liquidate my pension and starve later.

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Thumb Down

Spoken like a good little Malthusian.

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...sounds like the ramblings of a lunatic

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@Benjamin4

"And as for authoritarian government is it really better than what we have now with big corporations ruling the roost? "

I've heard this argument before. Where was it? I remember now:

"Don't be stupid, be a smarty/Come and join the Nazi Party"

- Mel Brooks, The Producers

Don't fool yourself the big bad corporations go away. They just give themselves a coat of green paint and line up for the authoritarian's government's big contracts.

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Boffin

Type 2 Diabetes is "people's fault"?

Try telling that to Billie-Jean King, winner of more tennis titles than I can remember, stil active and definitely not obese, yet she has Type 2 diabetes.

Yep, the truth definitely hurts.

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Stop

Space travel?

Your nice (non socially aware) society is all well and good, but it's astoundingly short-sighted, for example one reason why the west is so developed is that it has taken wealth (coffee/narcotics/diamond/gold/oil etc.) from other countries, we now have currencies that have no inherrent value, while we are at least partly responsible for world povety, we also like to keep them that way, a little bit of aid maintains the situation, it's a method of subjugation, there will be a world of pain if you take that away - not that I'm advocating the status quo.

But for all your penny pinching, you call for space travel? seriously, now, I'm up for exploring what's out there, but the ISS can only just keep people alive with 18 hours of maintanance a day, and it doesn't even go anywhere (to speak of), even with theoretical engines that won't exist for decades we can't leave the solar system without planning for multi-generational travel, but imagine this magic world when we have put trillions into (say getting to Mars, and having habitats) what possible good is that compared to what the trillions could have gone into? OK, we might be able to start a small colony of 100 people on Mars, the Moon, Europa etc. using those trillions, but could they self sustain? mine? build anything more complex than a hammer? no! they will still be sucking up resources from the Earth.

Of all the nonsense you have spouted, space travel is the most conradictory.

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@Kugutsu

I am not an expert in demographics, but I would wager that there is a very strong correlation between more children and less education.

I think the correlation is actually between "fewer children" and "parents who prize education and raise their kids in an appropriate environment". Education itself is just another byproduct of that environment.

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FAIL

LOL

>>Oh yeah and while we're working on fusion ban solar / wind and build a load of fission reactors and gas plants (and get on with shale gas extraction).

I suspect that everybody that up-voted you thought you were joking.

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Re: Space travel?

Yes, you will not fix my computer.

"imagine this magic world when we have put trillions into (say getting to Mars, and having habitats) what possible good is that compared to what the trillions could have gone into?"

And the money would have gone where exactly? You are not going to burn all those banknotes in your ion engine on the way to Mars, are you?

And to say that you will have to bring the resources from Earth is just strange. Of course, no one will buy dirt from Earth to import it to Mars, you will just take the tools with you and use the local dirt.

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Anonymous Coward

That's Odd

I though our parents/grandparents got rid of you lot in 1945.

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Anonymous Coward

And people like me...

WILL fight people like you, the "Pseudoscience" Nazis, until you kill every single one of us, and you're going to have a real fun time trying there, asshole.

Like any of you pseudo-academic fuckers would ever be able to that is. Try and impose it on someone like me. Ive been in combat, Ive been shot at, Ive been hit (in my armor that is), and Im personally not taking this kind of shit from any government, not yours nor my own, nor anyone else's. And I'm certainly not taking it from the morons at the UN or any of their bootlicking sub-organs. Just try it. Please. You would never be able to impose your will on heavily armed self-reliant individuals who have little to no regard for the currently existing governments, the UN, and the way things are in the world right now, much less a totalitarian dictatorship run by people who think they know what's good for us, like you.

You're basically advocating active eugenics, if someone isnt "good enough" to have children they ought to be sterilized right? "Give them a patch" is code for fucking sterilization, and you'll meet resistance to that at the barrel of an automatic rifle from someone who wont tolerate it. Id personally blow away anyone trying to do that to my wife or daughter without hesitation and without any remorse whatsoever.

If someone creates a problem for themselves, fuck whatever circumstances in their lives may have caused it, its still their fault right? Make em pay so much they cant afford anything else but medical treatment! Real humane there asshole.

Why dont we just fire up the gas chambers right now huh? Its a real fucking slippery slope. And Im sure you'd have no problem with any of it WHEN (not if) it gets there if people like you have their way.

You and your buddies at the worthless UN, even more worthless IPCC, and this downright frightening IAP can all suck-start an M4A1 on full auto. Please do your part! "Reduce the surplus population!" as Dickens would say.

We'd be much better off with proper science and proper scientists who aren't trying to throw us back to the 16th Century when we're on the verge of so much progress.

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Trollface

Science exists to invent ways to create more prosperity

Anything that says "you must give up this and that to hand it to the anointed" is not science. It's religion, masquerading as science.

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Stop

Re: Space travel?

@Vladimir Plouzhnikov

>>And to say that you will have to bring the resources from Earth is just strange. Of course, no one will buy dirt from Earth to import it to Mars, you will just take the tools with you and use the local dirt.

lol.... dirt, yea I give you that, there'll be plenty of dirt, but when I say resources I mean the ones that aren't just laying around, metal processed enough to build something from, the ability to replace things that wear out just wouldn't be there, just think about the resources required just to make a hammer, the plastics (or wood?) for the handle, the raw ore just might be available laying around - although on earth we have to mine with great big machines, then the smelting process requires other resources, let alone huge amounts of energy not so easy to make (controllably) from nuclear energy, and then do all that without an atmosphere, or fully automated.

The only way that we'll be able to start up a colony on another celestial body is to send a huge amount of (fully automated, unmanned) resource off planet, build (or process and mine) before we get there, and that's science fiction, no, lets think about controlling bet use of the planets resources before we start planning to ship them off world, besides, heavy lift (non LEO) is very inefficient and very expensive, we need to have a solution to that before space travel becomes vaguely practical.

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Re: Space travel?

"heavy lift (non LEO) is very inefficient and very expensive, we need to have a solution to that before space travel becomes vaguely practical"

In this I agree with you but that problem is not insurmountable and the matter is not so much cost as political will (as the solution will by necessity be nuclear).

"The only way that we'll be able to start up a colony on another celestial body is to send a huge amount of (fully automated, unmanned) resource off planet, build (or process and mine) before we get there, and that's science fiction..."

The "tools" I meant included great big machines for mining... Sending tools could well be automated but no one needs the complication of the machines having to assemble and run themselves upon arrival. It will be simpler to just send a team of engineers for that once you know that the heavy stuff have arrived successfully.

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Re: Sigh...

It's not a matter of sexism, but of common sense. No matter how tight a policy you run, you'll never be 100% successful. A handful of women can only produce a handful of descendents every 9 months or so, but a handful of men without their vasectomy and the only limits to how many they can get pregnant is their own stamina.

Of course, you could apply the procedure to both genders to try and be 'fair', though it hardly seems fair to me to go to all the waste of performing another set of, more risky than the former, and completely unnecessary operations on the other half of the population just to try and pretend that everything is equal.

It hardly seems sexist to me unless you think that acknowledging obvious, natural differences between males and females is 'sexist'.

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g e
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You also need

Don't pay people if they're striking, tax unions higher.

That should sort most of that aspect out ;o)

Oh and importantly... remove all obvious safety labels like 'caution: sharp!' on new kitchen knives, 'May contain nuts' on bags of nuts. Let's eliminate people too stupid to work that shit out for themselves.

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Facepalm

Re: You also need

You also need to try to tell poor countries in Africa not to produce so many sprogs when they cannot afford condoms to stop HIV. The rest of humanity needs to stop medicating for a longer life, stop all research into treating fatal diseases and conditions, scrap human rights and world peace and install more leaders like Assad.

What are these scientists smoking? Humans are genetically programmed to breed and survive. Population growth is inevitable unless we have some disaster, war, disease or famine that reduces it drastically.

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Re: You also need

You don't actually have to tax unions higher. There are two less intrusive fixes:

1) Legally force unions to separate their bargaining expenses from their advocacy expenses.

2) Allow people to freely leave unions as well as joining them.

And if you have a shop where the employer uses the union contract regardless of whether or not you are in the union, the people who have left the union are only required to pay the union for those expenses directly attributed to bargaining.

Of course, you do have to be prepared for the riots the unions will cause when you do this. Just look at Wisconsin where those were the real issues the unions had with Walkers reforms.

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Re: You also need

If you took those for being serious viewpoints and not sarcasm you need to do better at the internet. "Doctor"

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FAIL

Been here before

I seem to remember the Club of Rome around 45 years ago said much the same thing. In fact I think we should all be dead by now judging by their forecasts back then. I doubt that much will change in the next 45 except that this idea will get regurgitated in around 2057.

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Re: Been here before

Nope, they predicted the collpase for the second middle of this century.

In fact, according to recent verifications, we're following their most pessimistic forecasts ina remarkably precise way.

Reducing our lifestyles is not a choice for us, it will be only a choice if we will do it the easy way or the hard way.

Oh, and hoping in tech advance to keep out nuts out of the fire indefinitely is an illusion for the math and physics uneducated: do some math and consider implications of exponential growth. It's not a matter of being "green" or "treehugging" or anything, it's a matter of facing reality.

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Stop

So basically....

....we should all convert and become Amish? No thanks - not keen on curtain beards....

Seriously, the whole "have fewer babies and you'll be better off" thing devalues anything else they say. Such a lack of awareness of the difference between correlation and causation utterly discredits their claim to be scientists.

http://xkcd.com/552/

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Re: So basically....

If we accept that humans will want products and that these products require energy created by burning fossil fuels to make, and even if we disagree that co2 causes global warming we can't disagree that we want to reduce pollution, therefore all roads lead to roam and therefore reducing population is a good thing.

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Re: So basically....

The energy does not have to be created by burning fossil fuels.

The higher the technology you are using the lower specific use of resources it needs to achieve the same thing.

To develop ever higher technologies you need people (young ones, as new ideas in science are mostly generated before the age of 40), who are the main asset of any country. If you reduce population in developed countries they will not be able to afford to stay developed.

In underdeveloped and developing countries the population growth is much higher than in developed ones. By turning the latter into the former you will achieve exactly the opposite of what you seem to want.

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Mushroom

Agreed - Benjamin 4

Its about time everybody in the west acknowledges the earth only has finite resources and we have a decision to make - either we all cut back so the whole world can have their "piece of the pie", or we admit we rather like our cosy position and stop creating competition for ourselves i.e. by subsidising places like africa and south east Asia with charity and let them sort their problems on their own!

When 2-3 billion demand a western style economy and lifestyle, What do people think will happen? The price of that nice VW Golf is going to double or even triple - We'll all be forced into "economy" micro cars, I'm not saying a bad thing, it just depends on what a nations population finds acceptable!

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Re: Agreed - Benjamin 4

So if we decide to 'cut back' we can still drive VW Golfs? But if we don't, then the fuzzy wuzzys will price us out of them and into Smart cars and such like?

Have you considered bombing the fuzzy wuzzys to stop them from getting rich? This will save the planet too.

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Flame

RE: Anonymous Coward 101

Anonymous Coward 101, you're an imbecile, who mentioned bombing? Its idiots like you who turn an intelligent debate into a play group spat! On top of that, you've have completely missed the point.

We have 2 choices

1) The west accepts it needs to cut back, by reducing consumption and continuing to subsidise those countries which pose competition for the resources.

2) The west realises that the competition endangers its way of life and makes moves to protect it i.e. stop subsidising those countries and encouraging them to achieve the "western" prosperity and life style.

These are decisions that need to be made by the everybody as a collective, not left to just politicians who will only protect their own short term interests!

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Re: RE: Anonymous Coward 101

Who do you mean by "we"? Because I'm sure the we as in "people" or "country" or "human civilisation" have many more and better choices than the 2 that you listed.

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Boffin

Wot! No reaching for the stars?

Luddites!

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FAIL

But of course Lewis, you know best.

sigh.

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Anonymous Coward

@Benjamin 4

"Let the down votes begin. "The truth hurts"!"

How does it feel to be a genocidal totalitarian apologist?

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Re: @Benjamin 4

Joy, another imbecile, drawn to intelligent debate like a month to a bright light - Rather than just slating a persons thoughts, Why not also express your own ideas? Or, are you incapable of intelligent thought?

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Re: are you incapable of intelligent thought?

I think he does display intelligence. He clearly understands the parable about casting pearls before swine.

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WTF?

Re: @Benjamin 4

"another imbecile, drawn to intelligent debate like a month to a bright light" "incapable of intelligent thought?" Way to go with your intelligent arguments.

It's always the dogmatic radicals that start throwing insults at people who put forward valid arguments challenging their extremism.

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Anonymous Coward

hold it right there

Pol Pot implemented all these IAP demands over thirty years ago

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Re: hold it right there

He sure did, and the homicidal Khmer Rouge killed 2.2 Million people. Just about a third of the population of Cambodia. For absolutely nothing.

And these fascists would like to kill billions. Read between the lines here, use a little bit of common sense, something sorely lacking in the Scientific Community it seems.

Kind of makes you stop and think now doesn't it?

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What's so damn bloody annoying

is that these loons pretend to be scientists.

Just for the sake or argument, let's accept their set up. Resource use, population growth, CO2 emissions: they're all a problem. A problem we must do something about.

OK. So, we've got to change people's behaviour. And think about resource allocation etc.

Hmm, so, do we have a science that looks at these things? Allocation of scare resources? The way humans respond to incentives? D'ye know, I think we do. Called economics.

So, do our scientists call upon the scientists who are the experts in the particular field they wish to be expert in? Do they hell, they just wurble without knowledge.

That's what's so damn depressing about this and similar stories. Even if they're right they're still not looking in the right places for solutions.

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