Archive for the category “Population”

News update

Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF
The Guardian UK
Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments. The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas.

The IMF Tells a Half-Truth
Richard Heinberg
It’s certainly helpful to have an accounting of the externalities of our collective fossil fuel consumption. But the choice of the word “subsidies” over the more precise “externalities” makes a difference: governments can cancel subsidies in the forms of tax breaks and gifts, but they can’t so easily cancel fossil fuel externalities without curtailing fossil fuel consumption—and that’s a big job, if they’re to do it in a way that doesn’t entail the rapid, uncontrolled collapse of society.

Can the world economy survive without fossil fuels?
Larry Elliott, The Guardian UK
In terms of reducing global poverty capitalism has been a success, but this growth has put pressure on the planet. The question, therefore, is whether it is possible to marry two seemingly contradictory objectives. Can we imagine a future that is cleaner, greener and sustainable – one that avoids climate armageddon – without abandoning the idea of growth and, thus, forcing living standards into decline? The answer is that it will be hellishly difficult, but it is just about feasible if we make the right choices – and start making them now.

Seven Surprising Realities Behind The Great Transition to Renewable Energy
Earth Policy Institute
The global transition to clean, renewable energy and away from nuclear and fossils is well under way, with remarkable developments happening every day. The Great Transition by Lester Brown, Janet Larsen, Matt Roney, and Emily Adams lays out a tremendous range of these developments – here are seven that may surprise you.

How Sustainable is PV Solar Power?
Low Tech Magazine
Its generally assumed that it only takes a few years before solar panels have generated as much energy as it took to make them, resulting in very low greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional grid electricity. A more critical analysis shows that the cumulative energy and CO2 balance of the industry is negative, meaning that solar PV has actually increased energy use and greenhouse gas emissions instead of lowering them.

The Counterfeit Shale Revolution (pdf)
Arthur Berman
The shale revolution is counterfeit. Tight oil and shale gas are imitations of something valuable and shale promoters intentionally deceive the public about their true value. It is counterfeit because the cost of produc4on is more than the global economy can bear. Producers and analysts deceive the public with misleading and incorrect break-even prices that exclude important costs or are based on exaggerated reserves. There is no shale revolution: it is a final, desperate effort to squeeze the last remaining petroleum from the worst possible rock.

Are we approaching peak population growth?
Max Roser
Since the 18th century, the world population has seen a rapid increase; between 1900 and 2000 the increase in world population was three times as great as the increase during the entire previous history of humankind – in just 100 years the world population increased from 1.5 to 6.1 billion. But this development is now coming to an end, and we will not experience a similarly rapid increase in population growth over the course of this century.

Book Review of Overshoot by William R. Catton Jr.
Craig Straub, The Social Contract
Catton concludes that the human community is condemned to bet on an uncertain future. Misperception of the human situation will motivate efforts to pursue solutions which make matters worse. An ecological understanding of the human predicament will help avoid constructing the road to hell paved with good intentions.

Video: Lord Man Parable

This video uses images and text from the book Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot which speaks to how man once lived peacefully with all of the Earths beauty but has quickly taken-for-granted all the resources and animals causing great environmental and sustainability issues.

Hieronymus Bosch’s ghastly depictions of hell meet their match in many of the real-life images collected in this sobering new book edited by conservationist Tom Butler and published by San Francisco’s Goff Books in collaboration with the Population Media Center and the Population Institute, the book showcases more than 200 photographs that are as bleak as they are beautiful, highlighting the alarming consequences of growth and consumption around the world.

The book’s photographs, writes William Ryerson in the introduction, are “emotionally jarring. The thoughts expressed herein are not reassuring; they are deeply provocative. But that is the nature of wake-up calls. The way that human numbers and behavior are transforming the Earth, undermining its ability to support the human family and the rest of life, is apparent for all to see. The reality of this urgent moment calls us to think, to care, and to act.”

Read William Ryersons introduction to Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

News update

Ebola: Uncharted territory for a system in overshoot
Mary Odum, Prosperouswaydown.com
We are in uncharted territory with the Ebola virus disease (EVD). This pandemic signifies a turning point for society in response to peak oil, highlighting the problem of globalization for a planet of 7 billion people. We have lost control of a deadly outbreak, and our responses to its exponential growth are linear at best, ensuring that this plague will most likely spread further.

Peak Oil: Are We In The Eye Of The Storm?
Oilprice.com
A temporary surge in what was heretofore a little-known source of oil in the U.S. is masking the larger story of what is taking place in the global oil situation. The simple answer is that except for the U.S. shale oil surge, almost no increase in oil production is taking place around the world.

WSJ Gets It Wrong: Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True
Gail Tverberg
On September 29, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a story called “Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True.” The story is written as if there are only two possible outcomes: 1) The Peak Oil version of what to expect from oil limits is correct, or 2) Diminishing Returns can and are being put off by technological progress–the view of the WSJ. It seems to me, though, that a third outcome is not only possible, but is what is actually happening. (Heres another refutation of the WSJ article by Kevin Drum, writing in Mother Jones: Peak Oil Is All About Cheap Oil)

Why the People’s Climate March Fails As a Strategy
Zaid Hassan, Caravan Magazine
The People’s Climate March was organized in cooperation with the New York Police—who formally issued a permit for it. It had pre-arranged start and end times. It had a pre-agreed route that ended a mile away from the UN building (not that global leaders were there on a Sunday). There were no closing speeches. No laws were broken. No arrests were made.

Scientists speed up analysis of human link to wild weather
Yahoo News
Climate scientists hope to be able to tell the world almost in real-time whether global warming has a hand in extreme weather thanks to an initiative they plan to launch by the end of 2015.

Wildlife populations down drastically
Daily Mail, UK
Populations of about 3,000 species of wildlife around the world have plummeted far worse than previously thought, according to a new study by one of the worlds biggest environmental groups. The study from the Swiss-based WWF largely blamed human threats to nature for a 52-percent decline in wildlife populations between 1970 and 2010.

Worlds Population Unlikely To Stabilize This Century
io9.com
Contrary to previous projections, it now appears that the worlds population is unlikely to stop growing this century. Theres at least an 80% chance that between 9.6 and 12.3 billion humans will inhabit the Earth by 2100 — and much of this increase will happen in Africa. Its the first U.N. population report to use Bayesian methods — a modern form of statistics that combines all available information to generate more accurate predictions.

Can Narendra Modi bring the solar power revolution to India?
The Guardian, UK
As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi spurred companies to build more than 900MW of solar plant across the state in just a couple of years. Now, as prime minister, the question is whether he can repeat the feat across India, which receives more sunlight than any other country in the G20.

Irony alert: Yergin gets award named after peak oil realist Schlesinger
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
It is a supreme irony that cornucopian oil industry mouthpiece and consultant Daniel Yergin should receive Americas first medal for energy security named after James Schlesinger, the first U.S. energy secretary, who was a peak oil realist.

News update

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Sees Fastest Rise
From The Scientific American
Despite some recent regional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and other industrial nations, the total concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues its upward march at an unprecedented rate, the World Meteorological Organization has announced.

Stand by for the ‘megadroughts’, scientists warn
From The Independent, UK
Climate change is set to unleash a series of decades-long “megadroughts” this century, according to new research. Experts warn the droughts could be even more severe than the prolonged water shortage currently afflicting California, where residents have resorted to stealing from fire hydrants amid mass crop failures and regular wildfires.

Low Oil Prices: Sign of a Debt Bubble Collapse, Leading to the End of Oil Supply?
By Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World
Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad? I would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long–since World War II, at least–is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.

Saudi Arabia Aims For Nuclear Power Within 20 Years
From Oilprice.com
To help address its energy needs, last week Saudi Arabia announced plans to incentivize both private and public investments in energy sources other than oil. Within 20 years, the Saudi Royal Family aims to invest $80 billion and $240 billion so that nuclear and solar, respectively, will each provide 15 percent of the Kingdom’s power needs. The transition is intended to happen quickly, with the first nuclear reactor expected to come online in only eight years.

Fossil Fuel Development in the Arctic is a Bad Investment
By Emily E. Adams, Earth Policy Institute
The world has become blinded by oil and gas as the familiar ways to run the economy and so is proceeding to look for them in hard-to-reach places like the Arctic, even as the costs mount and the returns diminish. An example of the world being set in its ways was the announcement on August 28th that Royal Dutch Shell, despite many setbacks in recent years, submitted plans to the U.S. government to again drill for oil offshore of Alaska as early as summer 2015.

The Peak Oil Crisis: It‘s All Around Us
By Tom Whipple, Falls Church News-Press
If we step back and acknowledge that the shale oil phenomenon will be over in a couple of years and that oil production is dropping in the rest of the world, then we have to expect that the remainder of the peak oil story will play out shortly. The impact of shrinking global oil production, which is been on hold for nearly a decade, will appear.

Is Narendra Modi a climate sceptic?
From The Guardian
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, reportedly will be a no-show at the United Nations climate summit this month. Could it be because he does not accept the science behind climate change? Modi used to be a supporter for climate action. But in public remarks on two occasions in the last week, the leader of one of the fastest growing – and biggest emitting – economies appeared to express doubt about whether climate change was even occurring.

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise
From The Guardian
The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis released on Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

Earth Overshoot Day
By Lyla Bavadam, The Frontline
August 19 was Earth Overshoot Day: an estimate of the moment in a 12-month period when humans have consumed more natural resources than the biosphere can replace and created more waste than it can absorb. To put it simply, in less than eight months of 2014, the annual supply of land, water and trees and the planet’s ability to deal with waste products, including carbon dioxide, have been used up. This means that humanity is already living off next year’s supplies, which in turn means that next year’s supplies will end even sooner than this year’s. No wonder Earth Overshoot Day is also called Ecological Debt Day.

Theres a lot more to Transition than community gardens
By Rob Hopkins, Resilience.org
Community gardens can give people a sense of “can do” that no amount of reading articles advocating “radical politics, confronting capitalism, fundamental structural change and “revolution”” can.   We need a new language to communicate this stuff.  That’s what Transition does.  We need to speak to peoples’ values, of community, of family, of the things they love, of place, of possibility, of things their children love and value.

Peak Complexity, Peak Ignorance and Peak Selfishness

By Johnson Dantis, POI member

I have been reading many posts on the Peak Oil India website about various events related to environment, sustainability, climate change, energy etc. I often find that such conferences and seminars do not have the seriousness these issues deserve. I sometimes visualize the importance of these as a sort of kitty party-like events, where most attendees do another kind of window shopping and socialising.

Forums and similar events are a necessary part of the process for change, but when they become a mere platform for awards, demonstration of personal skills, casual get-togethers and publicity-mongeirng with little focus on the severity of the issue, then they lose all meaning. As Einstein said, doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results is nothing but insanity. In many of these events, we see the same drama playing out in full force.

All sources of energy generate heat. When 10 people generate heat there is only a minimum effect, usually unnoticed by the individuals or the community, but when 7 billion does the same and in rising quantities, it obviously will have a proportional effect somewhere. So, scale matters in whatever we do and innovation does not come in time for rescue. To take an example, if you invite 100 people for a wedding and 1000 turn up, you can understand the chaos and drama that would unfold.

Whether we call this “climate change” or something else does not make any difference to the outcome. What we are realizing now is that this planet was never designed for such intense energy consumption and for so many people to live at the same time and aspire for a high standard of living. The problem simply cannot be solved unless you reduce energy use per capita or population or both in equal proportion and stay within earth’s carrying capacity. As for breaking peoples habits and demanding sacrifices of them, it is near impossible to do in the democratic world we inhabit. So there are no choices before us, and the whole debate will eventually be settled by nature (floods, droughts, desertification, diseases, famine etc) and also by human conflict (war) arising from resource depletion and environmental damage. Read more…

Old Age and Peak Oil

By T. Vijayendra, POI Founder-Member

“Old age is a tiredness that does not disappear the next morning, as we ingenuously expected upon going to bed”.
 Baldomero Fernández Moreno, Argentinean poet

OLD AGE

People above sixty years are considered old or senior citizens. It is the percentage of old people in the total population that is important and not the total number, and especially in relation to those in the 0-15 age group in the population. As the population of the old approaches that of the 0-15 group, the working population shrinks in proportion and the burden of taking care of the old and the young becomes very heavy. In such cases, societies experience a shortfall in its working population.

Read more…

Population: A Heretical View

T. Vijayendra argues that todays population explosion is essentially a product of cheap oil, and that the end of oil means we will be forced to consider a new approach to population which many would find unpalatable now but would ultimately help humans strike a balance between population and resource consumption

The twentieth century was unique in history in many ways. Its hall mark was  the availability of cheap oil. It has given us air travel, auto mobiles, electronics and other marvels of science and technology. It also gave us the two world wars, the nuclear bombs, global warming and an increase in world population to three times.

The population problem is a complex one, and has been debated since the times of Malthus and Marx. In the past leftists maintained that it is not a real problem, but a creation of capitalism. Some say that if you have one mouth, then you also have two hands. Others point out that every adult can produce food for three people, and so on. However, in the last few decades resource constraints of planet earth have been recognised and meeting the needs of the present population of seven billions appears as a severe challenge. Read more…

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