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.