Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Too many people and at some point, not enough food

Two fundamentally different stories have been enacted
…during the lifetime of man.

One began... some two or three million years ago by the Leavers,
and is still being enacted by them today, as successfully as ever.

The other began to be enacted here some ten or twelve thousand years ago
by the Takers,
and is apparently about to end in catastrophe.

Ishmael, a wise fictional gorilla

" abundance of food depends on weather extremes remaining rare. If extremes of weather become commonplace, global food surpluses will turn into shortages.
In the larger context, the global food supply chain is a real-world system that cannot be "fixed" with financial gimmicks. No amount of money-printing will replace crops lost to weather extremes, replenish depleted fresh-water aquifers, magically rebuild top soil lost to erosion or repair the environmental ravages of industrial pollution.

We are in the first age since the dawn of civilization
in which people have dared to think it practicable
to make the benefits of civilization available to the whole human race.

Arnold Toynbee

...we have created a global ‘landfill economy’ that is stripping the natural resource base to the bone and creating pollution on a scale that our increasingly resource constrained future economies will find difficult or impossible to ameliorate.

If arable land, fresh water, irrigation, genetically modified seed
modern equipment, pesticides and fertilizers
convert fossil fuel into enough food to keep pace with population growth,
is the populace dependent on ever increasing supplies of finite resources?

...we had both the coldest winter day (first frost I’ve seen in my 12 years living in my current home) and warmest winter day (practically a summer day) in the same week in mid-winter.  This weirdness, if it continues (let alone gets worse), has an immense capacity to crimp food production.

The major advances in civilization
are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur.

Alfred North Whitehead

Most people don’t appreciate that it takes six months to grow a wheat crop and only a single extreme weather day to wipe out a large part of its yield potential...

...A single hard frost can decimate yields in a day or two just as effectively as drought can devastate crop that are not irrigated.

Exponential growth is a phenomenon that occurs
when the growth rate of the value of a mathematical function 
is proportional to the function's current value, 
resulting in its growth with time being an exponential function.

...If weather extremes become more common, it will follow like night follows day that agricultural yields will plummet accordingly.

Why have so many people shown up in the last 262 years?

In 10,000 BC there were about 1,000,000 people
In 8000 BC there were about 5,000,000 people, or about x5 more in 2,000 years
In 6000 BC, there were about 10,000,000, doubling again in 2,000 years
In 4000 BC, 20,000,000, or +10,000,000 more in another 2000 years
2000 BC...35,000,000...  x1.5 2,000 years before
Year One, 200,000,000...  x5.7 in 2,000 years
1750...    791,000,000...  x3.95 in 1750 years
1900...    1,650,000,000...
2000...    6,070,581,000... x30.35 in 2000 years
2005...    6,453,628,000... +383,047,000 in 5 years
2008...   6,700,000,000...  x33.5 in 2008 years
November 2011...  7,000,000,000... +929,419,000+ in 11 years
April 2016...  7,416,900,000... +426,900,000+ in less than 5 years

...Let's suppose extremes of weather decimate yields globally for a few years in a row. What happens to prices of basic foods? They skyrocket, of course, pricing out the poor. The poor then demand subsidized food, and fearful governments either supply the subsidized food or they risk outright rebellion from hungry desperate people.

The greatest shortcoming of the human race
is our inability to understand the exponential function.

Dr Albert Bartlett

In a real global food crisis, there won't be enough to go around. Those nation-states with surpluses to sell will be able to dictate whatever terms they choose...

The potential for a global food crisis is heightened by the confidence that such a crisis could not happen in the era of modern high-yield agriculture...

If fossil fuel, pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified seed, 
irrigation, exponentially productive technology, arable land and fresh water
created enough food to keep pace with population growth so far,
is Earth’s industrialized civilization dependent 
on ever increasing supplies of what appears to be finite resources?

Normal Oil Production Peaked around 2005...

There are too many people

"Helicopter money" = Default

Humans have overpopulated Earth.

"The Earth is warming so fast that it's surprising even the climate scientists who predicted this was coming."
Why have so many people shown up in the last 262 years?

10,000 BC...1,000,000...
8000 BC...5,000,000...  x5 in 2,000 years
6000 BC...10,000,000...  x2
4000 BC...20,000,000...  x2 +10,000,000 in 2000 years
2000 BC...35,000,000...  x1.5
1...             200,000,000...  x5.7
1750...    791,000,000...  x3.95 in 1750 years
1900...    1,650,000,000...
2000...    6,070,581,000... x30.35 in 2000 years
2005...    6,453,628,000... +383,047,000 in 5 years
2008...   6,700,000,000...  x33.5 in 2008 years
November 2011...  7,000,000,000... +929,419,000+ in 11 years
April 2016...  7,416,900,000... +426,900,000+ in less than 5 years

All progress
is based upon the universal innate desire on the part of every organism
to live beyond its income.

Samuel Butler

If resource consumption, food production, population, and fiat money creation,
all rose faster in the last 50 years than the preceding 5,000,
are we consuming more than replenishing?

Think of the Earth as a living organism…being attacked by billions of bacteria,
whose numbers double every forty years.

Gore Vidal

If mold continues to multiply after eating half a piece of cheese,
what happens when demand exceeds supply?

If we’re the mold and Earth is the cheese, how many need and/or want how much,
where is half way, who’s got what’s left, who gets cut off when,
who will compete with who for what’s left, and how is who most likely to win?

Can mold collectively prevent the procreation of a larger generation
that can’t be fed by the remaining cheese?

Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio.

Subsistence only increases in an arithmetical ratio.

Thomas Robert Malthus
Suggested populations could increase faster than food supplies

Did increasing supplies of money, fossil fuel and food
contribute to Earth’s human population rising
from 1.6 billion at the beginning of the 20th century,

to more than 6.8 billion in a little more than 100 years?

You're captives of a civilizational system
that more or less compels you to go on destroying the world in order to live.

Daniel Quinn
Postulated correlations between population growth
and natural resource consumption

If technological civilization 
advanced more in the last 10,000 years than the previous 1,000,000,
the last 1,000 than the preceding 10,000,
and the last 100 than the prior 1,000 and the last 10 compared to the last 100,
what could happen if many come to believe Earth’s population is unsustainable?

Only seven meals separate civilization from potential anarchy.

Josette Sheeran
UN World Food Program

If need is sustenance and a temperate climate,
should you not do what you don’t want done to you unless you need to?

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

Ralph Waldo Emerson