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Mitch SMith

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What are our true global economics?

I recently saw an estimate that human population is currently consuming 1.5 times the carrying capacity of the Earth.

This suggests that the resources we use - the plants and animals and energy required to keep us alive are generated by the planet ecology.
It suggests that the system, if left to itself, has a capital represented by sunshine, air, water, plants and animals.

It suggests that the carrying capacity for humans is like the "interest" on the global "capital"
The inference is that we are harvesting more than the interest and are well into the capital - harvesting at an exponential growth rate.
In other words, having eaten everything on the farm, we are now eating the farm. And there will be no more "interest" becasue there will be no more capital.
Like our global bank account is in free-fall.
One dimension of the assertion is that, by mass, the nitrogen in human beings is 1.5 the available nitrogen in the at-rest ecology.

Questions:
Firstly, is this a valid assertion?
Are Earth resources truly finite as assumed?
Are the available resources measurable? If so - who has a good set of data we can use for modelling?

Secondly, if resources are finite and measured - and we are consuming capital exponentially - what are our options?
What lattitude do we have for increasing carrying capacity?
How far can carrying capacity be pushed?
Can we survive in a no-growth, or contracting economic model?
What are the options for population modification?
How long do we have?

These questions are not formulated to "troll" world views. I am asking questions that a lot of people should have rational answers for.
Please reply in the spirit of the questions. Data would be good, as well as well considered models that can be tested.
Also welcome are weblinks that have rational foundations - no ratbag theory please.

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Closing Statement from Mitch SMith

OK.

I have digested available metrics and known models.

Like everyone else, I am finding that the non-linear factors render the numbers functionally useless. The modeling methods themselves seem to yield more information - but all models admit to not representing any comprehensive claim.

However, one thing is clear - the window of opportunity for business-as-usual closed sometime mid 1900's, the balance of carrying capacity against draw-down of fossil energy is well under way - capital is definitely being exponentially consumed and has a terminal point at around 2050 - at which point all life on planet earth will cease.

But this assumes business as usual based on what we think we know - as it turns out, we know very little.

So .. in this scenario - ignorance is bliss.

I the analogy of our common understanding, we are screwing the planet and the value it represents. So .. to stay within the things we understand - are we rape/murdering the panet - Or are we mating with it?
This distincion is the critical facto determining if a single human will occupy the universe past 2050.

2050 is a conservative estimate - I would recommend you start answering it now.
It might be too late for you, but you might have children.
If you value hope ..
Remember - hope is not required in the universe outside of your own skull.
What you do is important - to you.
I couldn't care less. _ I've made my choice.

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  • Nov 19 2012: Are we to control human population much like we control animal populations through harvesting? In hunting and animal control the populations are controlled by harvesting many more females of the species then the males. This may be one of the greatest moral crises for future generations. The Chinese have a head-start on this with policies started in 1979 to control population growth. The result of such Draconian family planning has resulted in the disparate ratio of 114 males for every 100 females among babies from birth through children four years of age. Normally, 105 males are naturally born for every 100 females (Rosenberg, About.com, China one Child Policy).
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      Nov 19 2012: One hopes that the "female education" factor kicks in before then.
      This is one reason why I started this thread - if the balance is not reached before the other self-limiting factors set-in then we will be at the mercy of teh other self-limiting factors - the traditional agents of the cull: war disease, famine and pestilence.
      Mucking around with global environmental factors also brings a new rider into play: anthropogenic system collapse.
      And we always have our old friends: flood, storm and earthquake. And these sleeping dogs may well be awoken by anthropogenic meddling.
      Having participated in constructing part of the ricketty ladder that 7 billion paople hang on, I observe that our magic promethian wonders such as money-economy, electricity, comunications and computers makes the rungs of that ladder ever-more spindly-thin with more and more resource going into shoring them up. For instance, the just-in-time logisttics network we were so proud of, leaves everyone starving in every city within 2 days of the distribution network failing. One decent solar flare will do the trick. The solar maximum did not arrive as it should have this year (11-year cycle) .. we may have been granted a reprive .. maybe .. just maybe, we will have another 11 years to get all the power stations and comms-lines shielded - it's a huge undertaking .. and maybe, just maybe, HAARP is not doing earth weather/energy control at all .. maybe it is manipulating the Earth magnetic footprint on the Sun to mitigate sunspots. No one has asked. Even so, the Sun is not a thing to dick with - we have zero idea what it actually is, and it might get p*ssed-off.
      A lot of people keep looking to technology to save us, but when you look at it, most of the work is being done to mittigate work that went before. It's like an ever-shrinking spiral - not a growing fronteer as most suppose.

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