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"population overshoot" . . . exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet . . .

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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 12:56 PM
Original message
"population overshoot" . . . exceeding the carrying capacity of the planet . . .
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3188

This is a guest post by John Feeney, Ph.D. Trained as a psychologist, John is today an environmental writer and activist in Boulder, Colorado. He began investigating environmental issues while fighting destructive residential development in a small Iowa town where he and his family lived for two years. His research pointed inevitably to the interacting roles played by population growth, the drive for economic growth, and our reliance on fossil energy in fueling the ecological crisis we now face. His website is called Growth Is Madness (http://growthmadness.org /)"



Some of us who examine and discuss environmental matters are constantly puzzled and frustrated by the seeming inability of elected officials, environmental organizations, and environmental and political writers to get the nature of our ecological plight. Could it be theyre simply unaware of the ecological principles which enable one to understand it?

Since some undoubtedly are getting it, and in light of the warnings in the UNs latest report on the state of the global environment, below is a brief list of axioms and observations from population ecology with which everyone should be familiar. Most are taught in introductory level ecology and environmental science classes. They appear sequentially, so the reader can step logically through a progression which should make clear the nub of the global ecological challenge before us...

(NOTE: presented in summary form) . . .

1. A finite earth can support only a limited number of humans.

2. It is an axiom of ecological science that a population which has grown larger than the carrying capacity of its environment (e.g., the global ecosystem) degrades its environment.
3. A SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH: If any fraction of the observed global warming can be attributed to the activities of humans, then this constitutes positive proof that the human population, living as we do, has exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth.

4. Its axiomatic, as well, that a population can only temporarily overshoot carrying capacity.

5. Because it degrades its environment, a population in overshoot erodes existing carrying capacity so that fewer members of that species will be supported by that habitat in the future.

6. Our extraction of nonrenewable resources such as oil and coal has allowed us temporarily to exceed the earths carrying capacity for our species.


http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3188





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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'm sure that many politicians and people in power "get it"
But in this country, and in fact most of the world, it's political suicide to tell your constituents "Hey, no more kids" The only country that was successful at this was China, and now they're facing some major hurdles of having a small younger population having to supporter all those old folks.

But China aside, there is no country that you could go in and say the patently obvious, stop breeding.

Instead we're going to follow that classic J-curve that other populations follow, we'll overshoot and then, probably quite soon, have a massive die-off. Problem solved.

Ain't nature grand.
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Iggo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. A lot of people 'get' a lot of things....
....that they proceed to ignore in order to get paid.

Ain't HUMAN nature grand...lol.
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AllentownJake Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. Japan and western Europe
declining populations because their economies couldn't support more kids...of course...they didn't have the dominionist over there like we have here.
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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. They could have.
The adults decided that they didn't want more. You may not agree, but wait a few sentences.

Same in the US: Subtract out immigrants and the increased birthrate among first generation immigrants and US fertility would barely be at replacement levels. Subtract out immigrant fertility in Europe and you'd find that the indigenous populations are set to decline rather precipitously.

Subtract out the lowest economic stratum or two of the US and you'd have fertility below replacement. Those economically least off, those least able to afford them, have a disproportionate number. It's educated and well-off Americans, those who consider themselves the most "evolved," who have decided they don't want many kids, if any. In other words, they flunk the first and really only requirement for evolution.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. #3 is wrong.
I hope I don't have to explain why.
Why should I bother reading the rest of it?
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notesdev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:18 PM
Response to Original message
3. The coming war
will take care of it.
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Pavulon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. Even a 40 million world war is a drop in the bucket
short of global thermonuclear exchange between NATO and Russia there is no war going to make a dent.
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notesdev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Doubt it will be limited to that
And greater numbers of people have been killed before, just in a single country, using technology many decades behind us, and at a time the global population was a good deal lower. By the time all is said and done, numbers like half a billion or more dead from war and/or its secondary effects (e.g., rampant disease, starvation, anarchy) aren't out of the realm of possibility. It's not like this planet has a lack of people who want to kill each other.
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FarCenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. 1914-1949 toll was about 200 million dead
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 04:07 PM by FarCenter
WW I and II and the intevening period were all really one episode of global violence. If you add up all of WW I, Spanish Influenza, Spanish Civil War, Russian Revolution and subsequent purges, Ukraine famine, invasion of China, WW II, Holocaust, Chinese Revolution and subsequent purges you get around 200 million dead for the 35 year period.

With the higher dependency on technology today, a destruction of industrial plant would cause more deaths. Consider all the people who are dependent on some pharmaceutical substance, e.g. insulin. But disruption in pesticide, herbicide, fertilizers, and fossil fuel for agricultural production would cause widespread famine and disease.

Finally, the high explosive and nuclear weapons of WW I and II are inefficient compared with future biological weapons.
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Pavulon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Global thermonuclear war
would be quite effective. any number of pathogens would also be effective.

the death toll in human warfare has taken a steep drop since 1945.
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glowing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:31 PM
Response to Original message
5. If we over use and do not value the nature, then we will destroy ourselves.
Humans must re-learn to live symbiotically with the earth. AND that is a major discussion to be having... what kind of world do we want to live in and how do we share worldwide.. not just within our imaginary lines drawn on a map by rich men.
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bottomtheweaver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:50 PM
Response to Original message
6. Dubious.
I-got-mine types have been beating this drum since the days of Thomas Malthus and before. The fact that Nazis and RW Texas oil thugs use this stuff to justify their human annihilation campaigns does not enhance its credibility.
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tangent90 Donating Member (787 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
7. The thing is, none of that has much of an impact on individuals...only on a population.
Following a 'die-off', individual descendants will actually enjoy a higher living standard.
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dysfunctional press Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:28 PM
Response to Original message
14. at least it should all make for good viewing on cnn...
especially with a 60-inch plasma. :popcorn:
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Triana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 07:35 PM
Response to Original message
15. Oh they GET it - but none are brave or wise enough to confront it
so we sit here like a bunch of idiots - sawing off the very branch upon which we are perched - and with idiot glee, no less - oh and I haven't even mentioned the anti-choice, forced-birth fundies yet - those home-schooling, 18-kids per family types?

Try selling smaller families to them - pfft!
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Gregorian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:19 PM
Response to Original message
16. There is a lot of denial and unconsciousness.
I'm glad to see this subject popping up every once in a while. Maybe it'll open a few eyes. I doubt it. People don't want to see. It would ruin their day.

The sad part is, it's too late. Although it's a trivial subject, it's also complex. Which sounds odd. But things like the stimulus are actually in our worst interests under the circumstances of our large numbers, even if it's necessary for our survival now. It's a sad situation. Although almost comical when one looks at the irony of it. People will defend their right even if it's to the detriment of their own children, and children's children. That's the unconscious part. I've battled countless replies, and no doubt countless more. How dare we.

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