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Watsisname
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Population Growth and Sustainable Development

09 Dec 2018 00:05

Continuing a discussion that sprouted in the Science Q&A thread:


A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The single BEST way to reduce carbon emissions is to have one less child.


The scientific literature is abundant with methods for reducing carbon emissions without curbing population growth.  Curbing population growth is not an easy sell, nor does it actually solve the problem.  (It does not reduce emissions quickly enough, when we need dramatic reductions through these next 2 decades.)
 
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09 Dec 2018 00:30

Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The single BEST way to reduce carbon emissions is to have one less child.


The scientific literature is abundant with methods for reducing carbon emissions without curbing population growth.  Curbing population growth is not an an easy sell, nor does it actually solve the problem.

I agree with Wats here. Most of these main-stream 'fixes' are attention-grabbing pot-stirrers or just bad science. Some may be grounded in fact, but suffer from catch-22. The hard lesson here is that creating a sustainable society that advances technologically in any way will be a very complex process. Concessions will made for the sake of advancement, with no 'one-shot' solutions. It also won't require everybody's participation - just those of us that make the most impact. Heh, I realize that I sounded rather like a apologetic industrialist when I said that :roll:.
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09 Dec 2018 00:54

Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The single BEST way to reduce carbon emissions is to have one less child.


The scientific literature is abundant with methods for reducing carbon emissions without curbing population growth.  Curbing population growth is not an easy sell, nor does it actually solve the problem.  (It does not reduce emissions quickly enough, when we need dramatic reductions through these next 2 decades.)

Reducing population growth isn't just about climate change, Wat, it helps the environment on a wide variety of levels.  I'm rather surprised you'd take this view point, because the general consensus of scientists is that a lower population growth is definitely needed- there were major papers and articles published about this in both the Times and the Post as well as Nature.
It has to do with many issues that are problems just as big as climate change, including habitat loss, densely packed cities which are unhealthy (higher asthma rates, light pollution, etc.) and the sixth mass extinction in the planet's history, which humankind has singlehandedly caused.
Last edited by A-L-E-X on 09 Dec 2018 01:25, edited 1 time in total.
 
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09 Dec 2018 00:56

Here is an excellent piece

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... point.html

some others

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... f9f1d1fab7

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... d76cfd419e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2 ... 2851ff04dd

here is an awesome piece from Nature

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0594-0

 A sobering report published Wednesday in the journal Nature argues that a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms, including a radical change in dietary habits.

To be specific: Cheeseburgers are out, and fruits and veggies are in.

The 23 authors of the report, hailing from Europe, the United States, Australia and Lebanon, reviewed the many moving parts of the global food system and how they interact with the environment. The authors concluded that the current methods of producing, distributing and consuming food aren’t environmentally sustainable and that damage to the planet could make it less hospitable for human existence.

A core message from the researchers is that efforts to keep climate change at an acceptable level won’t be successful without a huge reduction in meat consumption.

“Feeding humanity is possible. It’s just a question of whether we can do it in an environmentally responsible way,” said Johan Rockström, an earth scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a co-author of the study.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... 9575592711

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... story.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/opin ... cking.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/us/t ... osion.html

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... -was-right

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... lity-rates

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... ul-economy

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... the-planet

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... rs-problem

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... o-humanity

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... the-planet

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/opin ... sting.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/opin ... rowth.html

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2 ... the-planet

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/24/opin ... rowth.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/15/opin ... cking.html
Last edited by A-L-E-X on 09 Dec 2018 01:23, edited 2 times in total.
 
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09 Dec 2018 00:59

Stellarator wrote:
Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The single BEST way to reduce carbon emissions is to have one less child.


The scientific literature is abundant with methods for reducing carbon emissions without curbing population growth.  Curbing population growth is not an an easy sell, nor does it actually solve the problem.

I agree with Wats here. Most of these main-stream 'fixes' are attention-grabbing pot-stirrers or just bad science. Some may be grounded in fact, but suffer from catch-22. The hard lesson here is that creating a sustainable society that advances technologically in any way will be a very complex process. Concessions will made for the sake of advancement, with no 'one-shot' solutions. It also won't require everybody's participation - just those of us that make the most impact. Heh, I realize that I sounded rather like a apologetic industrialist when I said that :roll:.

Unfortunately there are massive side effects to industrialization, and the rise of large global multinational corporations is one of the cancers of modern society.  Yes, there are positive aspects to it, but it must be strictly regulated to counter the side effects of human greed. Factory farming MUST come to an end, consumption of meat must be sharply reduced.  Not just for the environment but for human health also, as the ACS and AHA both now call for a massive reduction in the consumption of processed food and meat to lower cancer and heart disease risks.

A prime example is how the corruption and monetary influence of the American Chemical Lobby has kept toxic substances legal here which are banned in Canada and Europe.  The pesticide Chlorpyrifos which has been linked to brain damage in children was due to be banned until the current administration took charge and got an earful from the chemical lobby and decided to not go through with the ban which the EPA's own scientists had stated was necessary. The administration's decision was reversed by the federal courts, however toxic levels of this chemical are still being sprayed on fields near schools in California's central valley and children and pregnant women who gave birth to children have been reported as suffering from various side effects.   Aside from that we have over 2000 superfund sites, places where companies like Dow buried their harmful PFOA for which they got sued, when it was found out they kept using them even though their own employees were giving birth to children with birth defects.  NJ the state with the most superfund sites is also not coincidentally, the state with the highest rate of autism.  It's out of control capitalism and unregulated industrialism that has produced these horrors, as well as fast food that has chemicals added that are specifically included to make children addicted to fast food for life.  The sugar industry's cover up with its paid "scientists" is a well known example of how money has been used to influence those in charge.
 
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09 Dec 2018 01:31

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post there were major papers and articles published about this in both the Times and the Post.

Which had to filter through the fingers of low-paid science journalists, editorial remarks and headline-exaggerations.... The links you provided were interesting (and yes, I did read through them), but please don't rely on the credibility of a news corporation's initials to back an argument. It is a useless appeal to authority.

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post Factory farming MUST come to an end, consumption of meat must be sharply reduced.


Oh yes, don't get me wrong, I completely agree with you that our current way of life is unsustainable. New eating habits and food sources must be examined and pursued. I also acknowledge that people are uncomfortable with talking about human population growth issues (or really, anything related to procreation) and that this makes it difficult to reach consensus on anything.

Since I assume that you are on top of the latest development in these fields, you are of course aware that the predicted population growth worldwide is determined to drop off at around 2100 AD at 12 billion people, as rather eloquently explained here by late and great Swedish physicist and statistician Hans Rosling (who's work I'd highly recommend when following these types of questions):


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09 Dec 2018 01:40

I like that they linked to actual science journals like Nature.  The Times and Post are better than many other sources down in the US like CNN or god forbid Fox News lol.

Yes I would hope so (about population stabilization) I remember seeing that in UN projections too, although there are some in the developing world like Kenya which still have a rather high population growth rate.  It's my hope that population stabilization will occur at the latest by 2200 and that we will have started space colonization by then.

There's an interesting connection between population growth rate and religion, it seems that the places with the highest growth rates are also the places with a high degree of religious fundamentalism (I would include the US in that, there are lots of Christian fundamentalist antiabortion antievolution people.)

When I look at Canada and Europe, they seem more progressive to me, they have a better handle on population and have better healthcare and nutrition and are more environmentally friendly, precisely because religion isn't as large of a factor in their societies.

Dont get me wrong, I dont like everything about Canada- like the dirty tar sands pipelines that pump oil down into the states (for which we had big protests on native american lands, and for which judges looked the other way unfortunately and now even allow these oil companies to cease private land to build their pipelines- it's eminent domain out of control.  Now the fossil fuel companies are even paying police to kick people off their own land.)  There's also the seal hunt in Newfoundland, whenever I see a video of that I get sick to my stomach.  But in general Canada is more forward thinking.

The new administration also reduced nutrition regulations for childrens' lunch food, so now they can get served more junk food for lunch lol. I mean any administration would be more forward thinking then whats going on in the US right now lol.
 
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09 Dec 2018 01:53

Ironic story about large multinational corporations- the very first one was called the Dutch East India company.  When they got a whiff of the spices coming out of Asia they got all excited and greedy and decided to corner the cloves market. They influenced the Indonesian government to make it a capital crime (punishable by death) to grow cloves unless you were growing them for the company (sounds like something Monsanto would do, or now Bayer lol.)  The ironic part was that the company owned fields were struck by a disease and all their cloves died off (karma?)  There was a poor Indonesian farmer who surreptitiously had his own though, which he was growing well out of the way of any authorities.  And thats why we still have cloves today- otherwise they would have all been wiped out.  Moral of the story is dont be greedy lol and also one can add, dont rely on any one source, which is why monotypical farming is not sustainable.  That organic soil farming documentary I saw on PBS showed how nutrients are retained far better when a wide variety is grown, and there is less reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
 
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09 Dec 2018 02:03

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post When I look at Canada and Europe, they seem more progressive to me, they have a better handle on population and have better healthcare and nutrition and are more environmentally friendly, precisely because religion isn't as large of a factor in their societies.

In general, you are right. But religion is still a big part of European culture, and influences their governmental operations in some pretty subtle ways. It's just part of their history. It's easy to say that something looks better when you're looking at it from the outside! But yeah, probably better then the US. Very ironic too, because it was US independence and radical thinking during their schism from the European monarchies that laid the groundwork for 'modern' and 'progressive' thinking.

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post But in general Canada is more forward thinking.

We were, but now we're all just high. You got Trump and we got pot - go figure huh? I'm not against other people smoking marijuana in recreation, but the smell of it makes me ill and everybody where I live seems to be smoking more of it then ever.  
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09 Dec 2018 02:13

Stellarator wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post When I look at Canada and Europe, they seem more progressive to me, they have a better handle on population and have better healthcare and nutrition and are more environmentally friendly, precisely because religion isn't as large of a factor in their societies.

In general, you are right. But religion is still a big part of European culture, and influences their governmental operations in some pretty subtle ways. It's just part of their history. It's easy to say that something looks better when you're looking at it from the outside! But yeah, probably better then the US. Very ironic too, because it was US independence and radical thinking during their schism from the European monarchies that laid the groundwork for 'modern' and 'progressive' thinking.

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post But in general Canada is more forward thinking.

We were, but now we're all just high. You got Trump and we got pot - go figure huh? I'm not against other people smoking marijuana in recreation, but the smell of it makes me ill and everybody where I live seems to be smoking more of it then ever.  

Yes, others can do as they please but I'd rather not be around the smoke.  We have enough air pollution and kids growing up with asthma in our cities as it is lol.  One of the surest indications that big city air pollution has a strong link to asthma is when these people move out to other areas (places like Flagstaff) and not only do they see more stars, but their asthma goes away.
Europe can I think be divided into two parts, the less religious nations like England, the Scandanavian nations, the Netherlands, Switzerland- those are the ones that seem more progressive to me, and then you have the more religious nations like Spain, Italy and a few others.
 
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09 Dec 2018 02:25

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I'm rather surprised you'd take this view point, because the general consensus of scientists is that a lower population growth is definitely needed

Population growth produces a variety of challenges, and there is a wide body of research to that effect.  But if you are under the impression that the consensus of scientists is that reducing population growth is the necessary action to take to solve those challenges, then no, I do not believe that is true.  I know of no synthesis report by any intergovernmental scientific panel or agency that recommends proactive measures to reduce population growth.

If you do know of one, then by all means, share it.  (No, not a news article, not a particular paper, and not a quote from a particular scientist.)  I am referring to a synthesis report that reviews the literature of all scientists working in a relevant field and reaches this conclusion or recommendation, in a similar manner to the IPCC synthesis reports for climate change.

In the meantime, I will refer to what I believe is the most authoritative body that exists on this subject: The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.  This is their report on changing population age structures and sustainable development, from 2017:

http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/trends/ConciseReport2017/English.pdf

Their conclusions:

Image


Based on the content and language of this report, I do not think it's such a serious issue that it necessitates limiting growth, nor is it their recommendation.  It is rather something that is followed and its associated challenges mediated by more secondary means.  In many ways, population growth is already appearing to be self regulating on the relevant timescales, anyway.
 
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09 Dec 2018 02:36

Watsisname wrote:
A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I'm rather surprised you'd take this view point, because the general consensus of scientists is that a lower population growth is definitely needed

Population growth produces a variety of challenges, and there is a wide body of research to that effect.  But if you are under the impression that the consensus of scientists is that reducing population growth is the necessary solution to those challenges, then no, I do not believe that is true.  I know of no synthesis report by any intergovernmental scientific panel or agency that recommends proactive measures to reduce population growth.

If you do know of one, then by all means, share it.  (No, not a news article, not a particular paper, and not a quote from a particular scientist.)  I am referring to a synthesis report that reviews the literature of all scientists working in a relevant field and reaches this conclusion or recommendation, in a similar manner to the IPCC synthesis reports for climate change.

In the meantime, I will refer to what I believe the most authoritative body that exists on this subject: The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.  This is their report on changing population age structures and sustainable development, from 2017:

http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/trends/ConciseReport2017/English.pdf

Their conclusions:

Image


Based on the content and language of this report, I do not think it's such a serious issue that it necessitates limiting growth, nor is it their recommendation.  It is rather something that is followed and its associated challenges mediated by more secondary means.  In many ways, population growth is already appearing to be self regulating on the relevant timescales, anyway.


Yes education and financial opportunities for women should definitely be a natural leveling factor in controlling population growth.  Number 55 was my main concern, as well as our densely packed cities where children dont get to see the stars, where air pollution rates (smog) is high and people need to take drugs to be able to sleep at night.  Nothing is a substitute for a visit to the country and the mountains to breathe in fresh clean air and to sleep well.
The other thing I would like to bring attention to is habitat loss and mass extinction caused by humans expanding as a result of a growing population (particularly in places like Africa and Asia.)  One of the projections I looked at said that half of our known animal species would be extinct by the end of the century.  That's pretty sad and not only a great loss for the environment, but I believe will also be a great detriment to humanity.  We've become dependent on only a few sources of food, and everything else going extinct outside of captivity is not my idea of a healthy planet or society.
As far as the meat industry is concerned, animal farming taken as a whole accounts for the third highest rate of greenhouse gas emission, after China and the US.  Besides the well-documented health concerns of a diet dependent on meat (which the UN report also mentioned- it was mentioned in the same WaPost article as the one with the link to Nature, there was a link to a UN panel study on reducing meat consumption for sustainability, unfortunately I can't access the WaPost article to retrieve the link because I reached my limit of number of articles a nonsubscriber can access and it wont let me go back there, but you should be able to access it, you'd agree with what was said I think, because it's pretty well known how detrimental to the environment animal farming is), there are also climate and water resource ramifications from animal farming.  There is a whole culture of industry-paid animal "scientists" who basically shill for the industry who pale at the thought (but they cant around the fact that both the AHA and ACS recommend a 90% reduction in processed meat), but a sharp reduction in meat consumption would benefit all of society, the environment and be far more sustainable.  I remember reading that had the rest of the world consumed as much meat as the US does, we would have been out of fresh water years ago.
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09 Dec 2018 02:41

Supplemental reading, with regard to some effects that are already helping to stabilize population growth:

The end of high fertility and population momentum.
 
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09 Dec 2018 02:47

Watsisname wrote:
Supplemental reading, with regard to some effects that are already helping to stabilize population growth:

The end of high fertility and population momentum.

I have some questions about this "Thereafter, the global population would stabilize at around 9 billion."  I would hope that's the case, but I've seen varying figures, some of the graphs indicated that our world population wouldn't stabilize until around 2200 and at a much higher figure.
Also, while a lower fertility is a good thing (I presume) I wonder what would be the main cause of a lower fertility?  Hopefully not something that would have other effects that wouldn't be so beneficial!

It's so great we can talk about everything in here lol, the other night it was the expansion of the universe, tonight it's the expansion of humanity.
 
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09 Dec 2018 03:00

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post I wonder what would be the main cause of a lower fertility?

Nothing biological - sexual education is usually deemed the primary cause of a lower worldwide birthrate. The practice of safe-sex and a general awareness of gender rights and sex facts lowers conception resulting in birth, as we can see in the population schemata for European and N. American countries.

More sanitation means less infant mortality, so mothers and fathers don't practice the medieval but sadly necessary method of having many, many children so that they can compensate for predicted child-deaths due to unsafe and unclean living conditions.  As more people grow to an old age, and less people are born to statistically replace them, so the population levels out and plateaus. We hope that this happens at a 12 billion mark.  

The countries that have a very high birth rate are those we consider 'third world', including many African and Asian/middle-east countries. Many are making a transition to placing more value on educating their people on these matters, so there is hope. As Watsisname said, overpopulation is a self-managing statistical system that has its scare-value largely mitigated to the seventies and eighties. :)
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