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Have We Reached Maximum Sustainable Population Size?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the a-little-elbow-room dept.

Earth 1070

Hugh Pickens writes "Pulitzer prize winning writer Thomas Friedman writes that in few years we may be looking back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? 'We're currently caught in two loops,' writes Friedman. 'One is that more population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices; rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more instability.' According to the Global Footprint Network we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth's resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. 'Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,' says Paul Gilding. 'We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we're not stupid.'"

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Answer: (5, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 2 years ago | (#36380912)

No.

Re:Answer: (5, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36380954)

Yes! It's right there in the summary.. We need a new economic model... Resources are more than abundant.. Mismanagement and desire for control is the problem..

Re:Answer: (0)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381040)

As soon as carbon nano fibers, other nano technologies really become commercially viable, there will be another huge turn around in scarcity and economic growth.

Re:Answer: (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381078)

Mismanagement and desire for control is the problem..

And what economic model will miraculously change deeply-ingrained human attitudes?

Re:Answer: (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381144)

I don't care.. I'm just telling you that the issue is entirely political. Sort it out your own selves. Just stop with the crying about shortages.. We can drop a pallet of goods anywhere on the planet within 24 hours... The only bottleneck is human bureaucracy.. It's like running your server with punch cards and 8k of memory

Re:Answer: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381162)

And what economic model will miraculously change deeply-ingrained human attitudes?

One that kills dissenters, obviously.

Re:Answer: (3, Interesting)

chispito (1870390) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381098)

The title of this summary is "Have We Reached Maximum Sustainable Population Size." That is the question to which he is answering "No," and his is the correct answer.

Consumption per person is more relevant (2)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381284)

A better question is "have we reached the maximum sustainable resource consumption/conversion rate per person times population".

A US citizen is responsible for 10 to 20 times more resource and energy consumption than a Chinese or Indian citizen, for example.

Re:Answer: (4, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381232)

We need more contraception.

We need to recognise that people like Mother Theresa and the Pope are the cause of more suffering in the world, through encouraging people to breed offspring who can't be fed properly, than either Uncle Joe or Uncle Mao.

Re:Answer: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36380962)

No.

Courtesy of the Soylent Corporation, producers of that high-energy "plankton" product you know and love!

And don't you worry- we have enough to go 'round. Oh yes, quite enough.

You've got to tell them! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381092)

SOYLENT GREEN IS PRETTY BAD AT ROOM TEMPERATURE! ...Make sure you fry it up nice and hot before eating. Also, try it with a nice marsala sauce. Delicious!

No (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381174)

In 1971, Paul Ehrlich predicted a maximum sustainable world population of 1.2 billion people. By 1994 Ehrlich raised his estimate to 2 billion saying, "the present population of 5.5 billion [..] has clearly exceeded the capacity of Earth to sustain it." Two decades later we're closing in on 7 billion souls the overwhelming majority of which are not expected to starve to death or otherwise suffer a Malthusian catastrophe.

Overpopulation alarmism has become trite and hackneyed.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381300)

Of course, the problem with that attitude is that just because a bunch of people cried wolf before you doesn't make you wrong.

India, China, and Africa show you're wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381214)

Have you ever been to India? Have you ever been to Bangladesh? Have you ever been to China? Have you ever been to basically any African nation, especially those near the center of the continent?

All of those places, which comprise probably 75% of the world's population, show just how wrong you are.

We keep saying this... (4, Informative)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 2 years ago | (#36380922)

The Earth wasn't supposed to be able to support half the current global population.

Then Norman Borlaug came along, and turns out we could support more. Who knows this time around?

Re:We keep saying this... (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381222)

The problem with your idea is that "Green Revolution" agriculture is harmful to the soil. Because it involves machinery and pesticides it creates dead soil on top of hardpan. The land will no longer produce vegetables after years of monocropping. And of this type of agriculture within a capitalist society inevitably abandons even the most basic of science intended to permit harmony with nature's own processes: most crops are grown what we euphemistically refer to as continuously, which is to say without crop rotation. This is true of all monocrops, but is especially true of crops grown for feed and crops grown for biofuel.

All old Norman did was sell out the future for short-term gain.

Re:We keep saying this... (4, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381286)

That's an empty argument. The earth wasn't supposed to do anything.
Spin, perhaps, but even that's debatable.

Yawn. Read this one forty years ago. (1)

rbmorse (833877) | more than 2 years ago | (#36380926)

Where's Paul Ehrlich when we need him?

Umm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36380940)

Didn't corn prices go way up because more of the food corn is being used for fuel... that is less efficient to make and use than fossil fuels?

Re:Umm.... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381008)

That and the price of petroleum and natural gas for farming, farm chemicals and fertilizer has been going up up up, then down, then up.

Re:Umm.... (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381244)

While technically what's planted isn't food corn(as other types of corn are cheaper to purchase and grow), it is taking up space where food corn was previously planted.

It's a little early... (5, Insightful)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#36380942)

It's a little early to include the tornadoes as part of a discussion on global climate change. Just like one hot summer doesn't prove it and one cold winter doesn't disprove it (even ignoring the false notion that global climate change != getting warmer everywhere all the time) we'd need to see evidence of increased storm activity for multiple years in close succession before we could draw any conclusions. In general i'm a "believer" in global climate change, but i'm not in favor of using incorrect data to try and prop up the idea.

Re:It's a little early... (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381004)

Exactly. "Weather is not the same thing as climate, dumbass!"... except when the two are equated by environmentalists, politicians, and journalists a way to boost awareness of global warming^W^Wclimate change.
ate

Inferring that climate change "caused" something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381150)

Weather is not the same thing as climate, dumbass!

However, one can say that a particular event is more likely to occur under one scenario (no climate change) than under another (climate change), and this is a conceptual approach being taken to say whether climate change "caused" a particular event or not.

In the case of the extreme tornadoes this year, very preliminary analyses [noaa.gov] say they're not easily attributable to climate change.

Re:It's a little early... (2, Insightful)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381018)

Climate change wasn't mentioned at all. Maybe the author meant that there's more people living in tornado prone areas.

Re:It's a little early... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381188)

"Weather isn't climate."

Unless it's really hot. Or the weather kills someone. Or property is destroyed.

Under one or more of those conditions, weather is climate and we* caused it, and all this was predicted 30 years ago.

* non-vegetarian western people with a lifespan >45, whites in particular, and Christians especially.

Old news, Same response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36380946)

This approximate point seems to be repeated constantly.

  Is anyone really willing to sacrifice anything ($) to solve it?

Re:Old news, Same response (3, Informative)

knotprawn (1935752) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381044)

Perhaps we'll become extinct. Perhaps we won't. In the grand scale of things, either outcome, in light of the Earth's roughly 5 billion year lifespan bears less significance than we'd like to believe

By The Author Of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36380968)

The World is Flat [thomaslfriedman.com] :

is another Malcolm Gladwell clone; therefore, ignore. He's just a regurgitator of past news.

"Zzzzzzzz".

Yours In Moscow,
Kilgore Trout

Cobblers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36380974)

This overpopulation problem is just a "rich man"s issue.

The general solutions to these overpopulation claims is for the poorer/not western countries to grow at a slower rate, or their populations decreasing.

Its just a rich mans intellectual racism.

Rich europeans and their descendants have been warning over overpopulation now for over 2 centuries - they thought half a billion people was enough back then.

If we all live like Thomas Friedman, sure (5, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36380986)

He has a 9.6 million dollar, 11,400 square foot home.

Oh and his wife used to own a company developing mall properties, those high square foot, poorly insulated buildings surrounded by heat absorbing asphalt.

Thanks captain obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381010)

Welcome to the last 6000 years of human history...

To which I can only reply: (1)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381012)

'We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter. We may be slow, but we're not stupid.'

On the contrary, everything I have seen so far in my short life points in the same direction: we are stupid.
Examples? Chernobyl. Fukushima Daiichi. 'nuff said.
We may have a flash of inspiration, but that is once half of humanity has disappeared due to hunger and wars. THEN, and only then, will the survivors come to their senses. But mass extinction is a very distinct possibility.

Re:To which I can only reply: (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381126)

Chernobyl, Fukushima Daiichi

Can you give some examples that affected more than 0.001% of the population?

Because while those were sensational and revealing, they're not nearly on the scale we're talking about here. They indicate that someone was stupid, but not necessarily that we are all stupid.

Re:To which I can only reply: (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381302)

In fact, they are the illustration that although we are not amazingly bright all the time, as a species we are pretty clever. I mean, we found a way to extract energy from the transmutation of atoms, and we have not killed ourselves with it. In fact, the worse accidents had pretty minor consequences, compared to the benefits.

Re:To which I can only reply: (1, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381216)

Examples? Chernobyl. Fukushima Daiichi. 'nuff said.

Those are minor examples. Use banning of DDT if you want an example of human stupidity costing thousands of lives.

Not the question we should be asking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381014)

The earth clearly can't support infinite people, so at some point we must stop increasing our population. It makes sense to stop increasing our population not at the maximum level we can possibly get away with, but at the level that is most desireable.

Accordinly, we should ask has it reached the maximum desireable population size? Is each person we bring into this world helping (through diversity of labor, resistance to disaster, increased likelyhood of some genious being born to greatly improve the world) or harming (decreased per capita resources for the rest of the living creatures) more?

I suspect we've already reached that point. More discussion would of course be required.

How does he know that? (0)

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381016)

This scumbags is only one of the many who routinely put out such predictions based on "models". Ask yourself- When have people like him been right? If not why not? and why do they continue to make these predictions?

Re:How does he know that? (2)

jIyajbe (662197) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381156)

A guy fell off the Empire State Building. As he passed the 30th floor, he said to himself, "I'm okay so far!"

Re:How does he know that? (1)

jdbannon (1620995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381258)

He's very frequently been right, even when analyzing extraordinary things... That's why he's a good bit of the reason why he's an incredibly successful author.

Tragedy of the commons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381022)

"We may be slow, but we're not stupid"

No, but we are selfish and act independently. The tragedy of the commons will ensue

College bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381026)

I roomed with a couple "zero population growth" guys when I went to school. I guess this is what people were into before AGW became the religion for the non-religous. Trying to put forth the idea that it might just be a shift to a new equilibrium due to sudden input of beneficial tech was pointless. Confronting them with the fact that Western nations were only growing due to immigration was pointless. There was only one way the graph could go in their minds, and it was up. As I once joked, "if present trends continue, my Mom will fill the house to the ceiling with throw-pillows by y2k".

Simple solution: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381028)

don't eat meat. That alone alleviates the largest part of the problems mentioned, as 1) much less crop will be needed to feed the same population and 2) CO2 emissions from animal farming will disappear. These are actually the reasons this anonymous coward turned vegetarian.

Monetary inflation... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381034)

is the cause of the higher prices.

We are stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381048)

"but we're not stupid."

Sorry, we are stupid. Joe Sixpack doesn't give a shit about the future impact of his choices today, as long as it's beyond his lifetime.

Malthus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381056)

Clearly as population goes up at an exponential rate and the rate of increase of technology is linear according to moors law. And since we obviously are using our resources to the maximum potential people must start jumping off buildings right now in order to be sustainable and green. Clearly Thomas Friedman has volunteered to lead the way in this endeavor. So he's going to set an example by jumping first.

Headroom (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381060)

What the planet can sustain, and what we can live with, are two different things. We need some headroom, just like a CPU on a server.

If we can't absorb a natural or man made disaster without a huge toll on the lives of us earthlings, then we're overbooked.

How long can we cheat Malthus? (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381062)

This gets me wondering how long we can cheat Malthus, until we have a big population die-off?

When it happens, it will be a chain reaction. Famine, disease, and wars tend to go hand in hand, and if a population of an otherwise stable country starts starving essentially in toto, they will be doing desperate means to find a food source, even if it means overrunning a neighbor.

Collapse? (5, Interesting)

osvenskan (1446645) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381066)

We either allow collapse to overtake us or develop a new sustainable economic model. We will choose the latter.

I wish I could be as sure. Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed does a nice job of documenting societies that, when faced with the same choice, picked collapse. Granted, they didn't have Jared Diamond's book to read beforehand, but neither did they have our capacity for self-immolation.

Re:Collapse? (3, Interesting)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381124)

I also think Collapse is more likely. Some major part of the world will destroy itself, either by having a War on Resources (hm, oil rings a bell), secondary major economic collapse, such as government destabilisation in a major western country or some stupendous natural disaster caused by the human desire to obtain more resources to survive (go drill in Yellowstone or something). War is probably most likely, paired with an economic collapse tied to the cause of the war.

guess what... we ARE stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381068)

That's some serious optimism he has there...

Who says we're not stupid? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381090)

Can you point out *any* low incidence, high impact risks that Humanity has dealt with effectively?

Humanity might be smart enough to learn from its mistakes, but it's not smart enough to avoid those mistakes in the first place. In this case, the mistake is likely to be fatal, we won't have a chance to try again.

Re:Who says we're not stupid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381256)

Can you point out *any* low incidence, high impact risks that Humanity has dealt with effectively?

Humanity might be smart enough to learn from its mistakes, but it's not smart enough to avoid those mistakes in the first place. In this case, the mistake is likely to be fatal, we won't have a chance to try again.

You know, you're right. I never read, in any historical record, about nothing happening.

lots of nonsense (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381100)

. 'One is that more population growth and more global warming together are pushing up food prices; rising food prices cause political instability in the Middle East, which leads to higher oil prices, which leads to higher food prices, which leads to more instability.'

- well that's plenty of nonsense.

Prices today are pushed up by artificial demand, created by the inflated currencies of the world. US Fed is printing like a maniac, buying up its own debt and is giving the US dollars to all the banks (and likely central banks) around the world, so that they would also buy US debt - this is an attempt to trick the bond market into believing there is an actual demand for US bonds, but all of this is designed to prolong the day of reckoning - when the US bonds are no longer bought and US dollar plunges ahead of all currencies and US is in hyper inflation, because Fed will likely buy out all the debt and default that way, rather than let the market restructure US debt and rebuild the economy.

The prices for food and energy around the world are going up as US is creating inflation around the world, but for now US is still shielding itself from the ultimate catastrophe - currency crisis, but who knows how much longer it can do this? Of-course the oil production will continue declining, as OPEC cannot actually bring more and more production on line, even though it pretends to say that it can, but it can't.

Cartels do not work, because the members have only incentives to cheat. They agree on quotas, and then they produce as much as they can, since they see high prices (even though in reality, the oil and gas are lowest price ever in history if counted in gold.)

As to the population size - the only problem with population size today, is that the governments of the world are distorting the free market and not letting the businesses provide everything the growing populations need in real competitive market. There are a small number of largest companies, that work with government to make sure they keep their monopolies, but of-course monopolies have about as much incentive to maximize their efficiency and compete on price/quality, as any government, which means zilch.

Do not lose the sight of what is really going on: globally the world's central banks are engaged in destruction of currencies in order to maintain the US currency high relative to their own, since there is likely political and personal profit in it for them. This is causing the massive inflation and then prices rise around the world, only so that they stay relatively stable in USA. Do not be fooled by the so called economists, that the government calls 'main stream' and who work for the governments - they are no different than the shamans and witch doctors of yesteryear, who also worked for their kings.

As to the global warming, etc. - how about getting government hands off the energy policy of the world, allowing the businesses to compete on best ways to provide energy, be it nuclear or whatever it is? And how about getting rid of the subsidies to the auto-industries via government sponsored infrastructure, which create the energy policy that we are observing around the world today, complete with wars and pollution?

I am sure this opinion will be highly popular on this site.

Good night.

Re:lots of nonsense (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381202)

No business would touch nuclear energy if it wasn't for the enormous subsudies from governments. The clean up is too astronomically expensive for any sensible business model.

Re:lots of nonsense (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381246)

Correction: no business would touch nuclear energy the way governments do it.

What you don't see is more research of private businesses into the nuclear energy, and this stopped just after they came up with the atomic bomb, as before the nuclear weapons became reality, private businesses dealt with nuclear materials plainly and without government standing over their shoulders with a machine gun.

I know some people who actually own their own RTGs near St. Petersburg, they just own them, maybe it's illegal (likely), but they use them privately. Why can't everybody have one, exactly (if businesses competed and came up with good private offerings, rather than just people stealing the stuff?)

Re:lots of nonsense (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381240)

The whole idea of inflation is that the value of currencies changes, making comparisons of prices at different points in time difficult.

Blaming high prices on inflation is quite a strange thing to do (because the one is the bread to the others butter).

I guess you could frame your argument in terms of declining purchasing power (but if you do that, don't mention that oil is historically cheap!).

Re:lots of nonsense (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381248)

If only we had a gold backed currency... then banks could not play these shenanigans with printing money because the inflation of the currency would be immediate and transparent.

Re:lots of nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381270)

I wish I had mod points to give as you have keenly stated what people who don't let their own ideology cloud their vision plainly see.

Scary Headlines Unsustainable, Says NYT Reader (2)

davide marney (231845) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381106)

When you get past the big, scary headlines to the inside of the Times article, you see statements like this:

"We are now using so many resources and putting out so much waste into the Earth that we have reached some kind of limit, given current technologies. The economy is going to have to get smaller in terms of physical impact.” (Emphasis added)

Wait, we're gonna have to come up some new technologies to lessen our environmental footprint?! Help!

Re:Scary Headlines Unsustainable, Says NYT Reader (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381172)

"Stop throwing all your shit away," is a new technology. So is, "stop packaging things that don't need to be packaged." So is, "we'll snip your vas deferens at birth, and reconnect it when you're 35. If you pass a few tests."

So yeah, we'll have to come up with something, something other than, "xbox and doritos are a substitute for adult behavior."

Rubbish (1)

Hexanol (1917592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381120)

This is a facile analysis of the global situation, just like all the previous pronouncements from various luminaries that have predicted the end of the world. Extrapolating anything as complicated as the global economy forward will inevitably predict some sort of catastrophe, and the history books are littered with all the previous times people have made this mistake.

Re:Rubbish (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381228)

Of all the naff extrapolations we get from pop-sci journalism, the one that shows unchecked population and consumption growth colliding with the limits of a finite resource base is one of the least naff.

Aging of population vs Overpopulation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381136)

For french people around here, there is a formidable analysis of this question in this month's newspaper "Le Monde Diplomatique". The take-away is, among other things, that rather than overpopulation, the dominant and important trend is the aging of the population, which creates huge problems, such as in China, where the one baby policy created a young generation having to support much more elderly people than before.

As Robert A. Heinlein said (4, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381148)

"Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for mankind to keep all its eggs in."

Re:As Robert A. Heinlein said (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381288)

"Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for mankind to keep all its eggs in."

There's a reason science fiction is called fiction, Mister Stillwell.

Earth is the only option you have, and the only option your children will have, and the only option
their children will have.

Re:As Robert A. Heinlein said (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381298)

"Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for mankind to keep all its eggs in."

And yet it's the only viable basket we have. (off-world colonies would not survive long without regular assistance from Earth)

Economic growth is the myth (3, Interesting)

biodata (1981610) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381152)

we need to let go of. Most of the so called economic growth of the last few hundred years has been entirely based on digging things out of the ground and consuming them. Nothing grew, we just reduced the value of our asset base in favour of revenue to spend. Yes we could find other assets to strip that would keep us 'growing' a while longer but really, can we keep pretending?

Re:Economic growth is the myth (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381282)

Most of the so called economic growth of the last few hundred years has been entirely based on digging things out of the ground and consuming them

No. Most of the economic growth of the last few hundred years has been due to advances in science and technology. That trend is likely to continue.

Friedman is an idiot (3, Insightful)

MetricT (128876) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381160)

I was forced to read "The Earth is Round" as part of my MBA. When it comes to amazing him, the bar is set pretty low. He could probably write a column on how the sun rises in the east

"Empire of Debt" has a delicious and well-deserved excoriation of Friedman. If it wasn't such a great book in and of itself, it would be worth reading just for that.

overpopulation is a myth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381164)

Long-run commodities prices have trended downward since the stone age. Agricultural productivity continues to climb. Human beings are the ultimate resource. http://overpopulationisamyth.com/

I'm sorry, I didn't get very deep into that (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381170)

... tornados plowed through cities, ...

Ah yes, I remember the good ol' days 'fore we had them thar tornadoes. And the road was paved in gold. And taxes were rock bottom.
There have always been tornadoes, and always will be, and long as the world turns with an atmosphere. So this just kinda leaped out at me as being split-second sensationalism trying to capitalize on the raw emotions of recent tragedy. This guy can DIAF. Or a raging tornado.

Also, "tornadoes" has an 'e'. A Pulitzer eh?

Wishful thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381196)

...but we're not stupid.

What? When did that happen?

Planet Planning OR Major Die-off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381200)

If we don't as a race accept the simple fact of humans being the major force in the livability of this place, and consciously take control of our actions which affect it, we're in for a large die-off.

Most people reading this will not survive.

It won't be pretty.

Essential reading on Friedman (2)

Homburg (213427) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381206)

I think any post referencing Thomas Friedman requires a link to Matt Taibbi's classic article [nypress.com] :

Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses....

According to the mathematics of the book, if you add an IPac to your offshoring, you go from running to sprinting with gazelles and from eating with lions to devouring with them.

He's wrong about one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381208)

Carbon dioxide does not cause catastrophic runaway global warming. It may cause approx. a degree or so of warming. Any more would require positive feedback and there is no evidence that is happening. We've measured the radiation in at all wavelengths and we've measured the radiation out at all wavelengths. The evidence for positive feedback is just not there.

Carbon Dioxide is plant food. Carbon Dioxide is good for farming. In other words, Carbon Dioxide will help us sustain our population.

A bit late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381212)

A study found that we've been exhausting resources faster than they can be restored since the early 80s. Why is this so unbelieveable to most on this site? The Grand Banks was an ocean of fish a couple of hundred years ago but it's been fished out for most of the last 100 years. Most of the fisheries are already depleted. The US was covered in forest and virtually all the old growth is gone. The Amazon rain forest will be gone in 50 to 100 years. The top soil is virtually gone in the central US so they need petroleum fertilizers to grow crops, see a problem there? Water resources are maxed out in many areas, ask Atlanta about that one. Copper prices are through the roof due to most of it having been mined already. Do you see a trend here? We haven't even gotten to things like peak oil which helps provide a huge percentage of the food grown. They aren't making anymore planets and technology can't replace resources.

Which Begs The Question of Mr. Friedman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381230)

The first logical question to ask anyone lamenting the detrimental impact of humanity on the environment is why they haven't killed themselves to help alleviate the problem.

That's not what's pushing up food prices (0)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381238)

what's pushing up food prices is that Bush deregulated the commodities market. Specifically, he removed the law/regulation that required people investing in farms to be wholesalers who can accept delivery of the goods. Now, you can 'buy' bushels of corn/apples/hog bellies/ etc without ever taking delivery. So we've got rich investors buying this stuff up, reselling at a profit, and never adding any value. They're just parasites, in the most literal sense of the word.

Restore the regulations and prices will drop.

Tommy "Six Months" Friedman (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381260)

I've been saying this for years. But now that Thomas Friedman says it I am having serious doubts.

Nice attitude. (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381264)

We may be slow, but we're not stupid.

The situation is kinda shitty so it's nice to hear that he's an optimist. I'm not. I think we're lemmings.

BAN Immigrants from Countries with 2.1 Fertility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36381266)

The solution is very easy! There is no population problem in 'western' nations... If not for the
practically unlimited amount of immigrants we accept from them.

Why blame this problem on 'western' nations? All 'western' nations have 'responsible' birth rates.
What all 'western' nations need to do is to completely ban all immigration from any nation that
has a birth rate greater than replacement level. If we take the extras they keep producing into our
nations, then our nations will be destroyed. Our infrastructure, our economies, our environments.
If we refuse to take in extras from countries producing too many, than those countries will finally
feel the pressure that they create. Only then will they have an incentive to reform. Only then will
it even make sense for them to reform. Life will expand to fill what it can adapt to. If we allow
life from these irresponsible countries to expand into our countries, we will be consumed. We
must stop artificially removing the limit to their growth by sending them food aid and allowing their
extra population to be dumped into our countries.

BAN ALL IMMIGRATION FROM COUNTRIES WITH IRRESPONSIBLE BIRTH RATES!

No we havent. we just have a shitty system. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381278)

a system which amasses 71% of everything on average (with good estimates) at the hands of 5% of the population, who are in power to decide what they want to do with this 71% ~ power/wealth of our civilization at their own whim.

http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html [ucsc.edu] (it is worse in world averages)

in such a system, no population size is sustainable.

False dichotomy (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381290)

Why are people so incessant about the apocalypse? I'm only 25 and have already grown weary of Malthusian predictions, and that's just one subtype! It's also rather odd that Mr. Gilding suggests that we have merely two options, and omits the one that has continuously disproven such predictions for the past 200+ years.

We didn't collapse or (really) become more sustainable over the past two centuries, what happened was resource gathering increased in proportion with population. If one believes that current technology is end-game, i.e. that any further advances will have diminishing returns, then one lacks imaginative foresight and any perspective of history. A mere pawn of the present, which can only see the square in front of him.

Stupidity is the key! (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 2 years ago | (#36381296)

"We may be slow but we're not stupid," is an interesting remark, considering that public stupidity is the major weapon in the battle of Greedy Bastards vs. Everybody Else. The small number of people who can't stand to live in the world unless they own it have been actively cultivating mass stupidity for years. Their arsenal includes kneejerk emotional responses, supersitious fear of science and academia, leadership cultism, and other ignorance-based aspects of human psychology. It's like a giant football team with a handful of quarterbacks standing safely behind millions of big dumb linemen who are willing to charge out and get their knees broken for the cause.
If we're going to save ourselves from disaster we had better start using the public's stupidity for the public good. Stop offering up facts and reason and switch to trite, mindless slogans and overblown imagery. People will respond much more to a scary picture of a boogeyman than to a reasonable explanation that there is no boogeyman. Instead of trying to explain climate change, draw a cartoon of a family and their dog huddled on the roof of a floating house. The American public has been conditioned to believe fear and stupidity, so I say give them fear and stupidity.
"But that makes you just as bad." No it doesn't. Using other people's stupidity to save them from disaster is much better than using it to screw them over.

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