Mitch SMith


This conversation is closed.

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.

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.

Closing Statement from Mitch SMith


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 28 2012: A rousing exercise Mr. SMith! How about a synopsis by way of a Closing Statement?
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      Nov 28 2012: hi Edward - working on it - there are a lot of numbers here, some of them a bit "rubbery", but should be able to get a useful aproximation..
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    Nov 20 2012: First of all growing population ruining everything. India and China are most populous country in the world but India never build a law to prevent this. World are just running to reach GDP data this is worst thing in Economics. Look one example first you produce more and more carbon after that you just build some Solar Park and got some carbon credits . This is loop hole in our economics. People are more greedy this time so consumption are growing rapidly. This will hurt Mother Earth. Lastly I say global economy is growing but killing some basic things. Thanks Mitch to raise some great conversation.
    • Nov 26 2012: so China is better than India?
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    W. Ying

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    Nov 20 2012: Yes.
    The world population is an imminent serious problem.
    However, if we quit the INVALID happiness, we will have about ten times more of resources, including environment, on the planet.

    Then, the problem is easy to solve.

    (For INVALID HAPPINESS, see the 1st article, points 1.1-3, at
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      Nov 20 2012: Thanks for shring this W. Ying

      I agree. Except, 10,000 years? why do you say that?
      To me it seems like the time 10,000 to 11,000 years is when humans went wrong.
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    Nov 19 2012: Getting at the "facts" of your question, let's admit, is too complex and even if a set of scientists were to know the truth, there will always be others who doubt. This is the nature of human communities. Never will there be universal agreement on anything.

    But fortunately, reason presents another path which can cut through the complications to a healthy solution-- one which will also undoubtedly be popular.

    The best way to reduce human population, is to arrange for an equitable and dignified share of the resources of our world. Families have many children for two main reasons-- one, as a sort of insurance policy for the parents in their old age, when the family is poor. Second, as a sort of spiritual mandate to fill the earth. Honoring the value of each individual and providing for the material dignity of every individual will eliminate the first impulse.

    Then, we might, as a race, explore our spiritual intuition about the fruitful and multiply mandate. If indeed our Creator gave us this, it is because our Creator knew that our earth is limitless, in the same unimaginable way that our Creator created the earth in the first place.

    But for the supposed scientific elite new world order powers that be, if there are any such, who might seek to see their fellow human beings as consuming cattle to be thinned out--God forbid-- let them first take the vile of poison, and thin out the earth in the most healthy of ways. Then let the true world order proponents--we who believe in the individual and inalienable dignity of all humanity-- do the job of resurrecting our great race...
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      Nov 19 2012: Roger,

      So . you have given up?

      I think you would benefit by finding God. He will bring some light back into your life.
  • Nov 19 2012: The world still has a tremendous amount of resources.
    They can be measured and they are measured by those who purport to own, control and mine them.
    Therein lies a large part of the problem we perceive.
    Ownership of resources (which is ludicrous, ridiculous and flat-out wrong), needs to be done away with.
    The real ownership, so to speak, has to be (because it is) all life forms on the planet, including humans.
    As it is right now, ownership involves money and money needs profit and profit breeds waste.
    Economy is not money. It is economizing and not wasting. Still, far too many still hold on to a world view in which they will not have to (in their minds), lower their standard of living an inch. This means that there will have to be what I call collateral starvation, slavery, poverty, inequality, greed, crime and resource wars and death.
    This, to me, indicates the management of the earth's resources are of utmost importance and cannot be allowed to be in the hands of a few. It is these current owners in fact, who allow rapid, wanton use, which produces waste, pollution, and scarcity, and drives prices up. Profit is more important than the planet and its inhabitants.
    A free-for-all is not the only thing, we humans could dissolve into if we face the truth and begin taking management away from those who only want to keep the status quo - which is a catastrophe on the way. How we manage is of extreme importance.
    If the ice caps melt, Denmark could jump to great power on resources alone, as they own Greenland.
    Russia, about 1/6th of the earths land surface could finally access the enormous amount of resources they have had for years but couldn't get.
    Antarctica has 200 mountain ranges and lots of resources once the ice caps are gone. What does this leave if we continue to allow ownership and money to rule?
    Resource wars which are just those at the top engaging in their idea of a free-for-all, an idea they use to scare the public with, to keep believing we need them.
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      Nov 19 2012: Hi RC,

      I'm not all that sold on the tremendous amount of resources thing.
      This is why I couched the converstationin terms of capital and interest.
      The resources thing is exactly what the problem is - we regard it as tremendous - it is not.
      So .. say for instance I have $100 in the bank at 10% interest (where's that bank you might ask! ;)
      If I am spending 2 dollars per year, I Will be out of "resources" in 10 years - because I am eating the capital.
      However if I spend only a doallar a year, I can do it forever - because I'm only eating the interest.
      Now there is good data to show that we (humans) are not only eating the capital, but we are eating the capital at an exponential rate.
      I will observe that this "bank of the Earth" is brilliantly special - and unlike a money-bank,
      Lets, for a moment, imagine all teh species on the planet as customers of the Earth-bank.
      All these customers thrive on the interest of the resource-capital. We each withdraw our dollar per year - from the SAME $10 capital pool! And the resource capital does not diminish - because the species are the capital. So how can this be? Well, it can be - becasue each species has an increase - which is the interest from which the others withdraw. We are both capital and interest - and the really macical part is that no species withdraws the entire interest pool - and this allows the capital to grow.
      Then, one fine day, one of the coins in the bank (humans) decides that it is not in the bank any more. Bit it continues to make the withdrawals.
      This is not so bad at first it just reduces the growth of the capital.
      But then, having forgotten to contribute to the interest - and keeping it all to himsef, the human starts growing at a faster pace. And as he grows bigger, he withdraws more.
      At a certain point, he is withdrawing all the interest. At that point, all the other customers stop getting the interest required to sustain them and start joining the human in withdrawing the capital, (continued)
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      Nov 19 2012: (cont.)
      But the other customers ARE the capital. So what happens?
      They start dieing.
      This is what we call a "mass-extinction".
      Once the threshold of interest is breached, everything begins to die at an exponential rate.
      As we are seeing now.
      So .. "tremendous resources" is a myth.
      When you add to that the notion of "exponential doubling" you will see that the final doubling happens at the point where it "looks like" we still have half the whole world to consume - but that whole half goes in a flash.
      It has been suggested that we are currently consuming 1.5 Earths of "interest" in "carrying capacity" .. which means that we are well into the final doubling. 3.5% growth has a doubling time of 20 years. The suggestion is that we have 10 years left before all humans - and possibly all life on planet earth will cease. But it will be less - because exponents accellerate - which means that we have only about 3-4 years.
      It is true that we have mittigated the date of reconing through the use of fosilized capital, maybe got ourselves another 20 years.
      As you observe, people don't like to give up their affluence. My father in law says "it's hard to get fome a horse to a donkey". You are not going to get them to do it by force.
      It will take a cataclysm of biblical proportions - which is booked and on its way.
      We need to return to being coins in the bank.
      If the cataclysm does that for us, well, it's only a matter of time before the boom builds up and busts again.
      If we can avert the coming bust - great, but if we can't, then any survivors will need to know that they cannot leave the bank.
      So firstly, how long till the fall?
      Seondly, what does it mean to be a coin in the bank? - and how do we get that meaning to propogate through the ages?
  • Nov 14 2012: good job both of you:; this is not physics. Malthus is more than good enough forf Darwin and Wallace and hand-waving or back of an envelop work. Does anyone else do better? Look at what the American Chamber tries to tell us - Maybe, I don't have it completely right - More people = better. Herman Kahn never went so far. This is probably going to end up bad. If one is niave like most Americans. It will take awhile for the loss of the American Dream to sink in if Steglitz is right as I believe him to be.
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    Nov 27 2012: Maybe the problem also lies in gratuitous consuming. The media, corporations and mining businesses work very hard in making us consume things we don't really need. On top of which Australia alone throws away millions of tonnes worth of clothing and products each year, which to me suggests excessive over-manufacturing.
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      Nov 27 2012: Well, most of what we are seeing there is a process of income shifting. Just happens to be China's turn to cop the low pay. Australia will soon be a big hole in the ground at the current rate of selling coal and iron ore to China in return for letting them urbanize.
      There are only 2 parties: party now, and party later.
      Everyone seem to be cramming themselves into the doors and windows of the party-now house - the bouncers are too drunk to care and are now just popping people up the chimney for larfs. The party house is getting taller and taller for the revellers but the foundations are still the size of a peasant bungalow
      Some party huh? Feel that swaying and grumbling sound? is it the house tottering, or is it just the alcohol .. coke, grass, speed TV .. internet porn .. TED ..Utube facebook, Soma und majeeek mushrooms ..classic literature, beethoven and the graffitti of Pompei and 100 year old scotch at $10 a sip (nearly as expensive as water) or maybe maybe someone just f*arted - that would explain the crunching noises and bad smells.
      Where's the loo? Maybe there's a window I can get out before the host sees me leaving? THere's certainly no clear path to the door ;)
  • Nov 26 2012: are earth resources finite sa assumed?yes,of course.
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      Nov 26 2012: Hi Flexman.

      I wish it was that simple.
      However, if it can be shown that our resources can regenerate faster than we use them, then they are effectively infinite.
      We will need some numbers to estimate the truth about this.

      I am currently compiling data from sources offered here and will publish the estimate after the conversation closes.

      If you have some numbers to add - please do so.
      • Nov 27 2012: I hope i can help ,but i don't have the data.
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    Nov 20 2012: Anything has its own OPTIMAL POINT; global population can not be an exception.

    Obviously, the point is the best point that satisfies our life goal ---- keeping our DNA alive rather than anything else.

    (For OPTIMAL POINT, see the 1st article, point 9, at
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      Nov 20 2012: This is true.

      It is my belief that species have their own "shape" and this shape causes harmony with other species and the world. ( )

      However, humans have lost their shape. Lost in the babble of imagination and the fearful noise of their fellows. Pretending to know what is going to happen without taking the time to calculate carefully - fearing death and sadness, persuing happiness without knowing what happines is. we create ricketty ladders high into the sky for 7 billon people afraid of the ground, and all the Earth is ripped up to make the ladder ever higher. And it will fall.

      The heart goes out with genuine compassion. The fall is not necessary - if we find our shape we will come back off the silly ladder and live again in the world - back in the true place of genuine happiness, genuine sadness and genuine death - the place of genuine life.

      I will still do the calculations. A sense of urgency might bring a few more back to life.
      Once the numbers are done, then real debate can occur - on the numbers, not on the opinions.

      It is OK to say "look - see there! It is heaven!"
      But all the pointing and shouting is nothing - make a bridge instead, go there and say "here! Come to this heaven - there is the bridge!"

      This is my belief. It means nothing until the bridge is built.
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        Nov 27 2012: Hey Mitch,

        Someone told me our genetics are actually decreasing in strength due to over-breeding because cells can only divide so many times before they start to break down (or at least become structurally weaker).

        It's funny because as someone who practises Taoism and Buddhism (certain aspects of that is), I often thought the energy of the Earth could only be divided amongst so many people before there's just not enough to go around. Judging by the amount of thoughtless clones roaming the Earth, I wonder how similar these theories are lol
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          Nov 27 2012: Hi Luke,

          I haven't heard that about DNA .. what I have heard is that our own cells begin to get a bit loose at teh ends of the DNA .. it kinda stops protecting itself after a lot of splitting and the wear and tear of being in a human for a few years - the end bits are important for self repair. Oddly, the gametes(?) are incredibly well protected - the eggs and sperm things - and teh gonads are the most imortal parts of us. The radiation doesn't help.
          But, essentially, the electrostatic bonds of the GATC are what they are - they don't change.
          When the gametes pair-up in sexual union, the new DNA is pristine (give or take some copy errors, insertions, omissions and some of that wierd stuff where whole sections of Genes sort of swap places (transgenic? anyhooz).

          Everything is local. It all depends on our field of perception - and perception is a dream blanket thrown on a reality that isn't there anymore. It's like the catching of a fish with a net made of illusions. THen we all get together and stitch together all our perception blankets using thread called communication - and because they are ghost blankets, no one knows which ones are real and which got made up on teh spot. The better ones arise from what the senses tell us. So it's all local .. and local to local for a certain distance - we cannot remember anything beyond what our grandfathers told us, so we dig up bones and make up stories about them. We dig up some dust on Mars and make up stories about it as well - have you noticed how they name the rocks our robots find? If I was a robot it would make me chuckle, but we name the rocks so that we can tell stories about them. If I was a rock it would make me laugh as well
          Hey! I'm a rock from Mars and I'm famous! Was a time I had to be a Rock-Band for that!
          THere is this thing in the IT biz called "fire-fighting" when the systems have gotten so out of whack it all has to be re-done. Risk deferal leads to tsunami's of risk coming home. It's only a matter of time
    • Nov 26 2012: DNA is important.
  • 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,, 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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    Nov 19 2012: For fans of Hans Rosling, who offers great graphic representations of how all sorts of indicators of human welfare and environment have changed over time, continent by continent, here is a terrific link.

    At this link you can select any of the several hundred indicators he tracks, and if you click the "visualize" button at the end of the row, you will get a graphic that shows how that indicator has changed over time and comparisons across continents.
  • Mats K

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    Nov 19 2012: Here are some studies I've compiled for you.

    A study done by World Hunger Education Service Associates reveals that our world produces enough food to feed everyone, but that the principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.

    A MIT report shows that we have 4000 years of untapped clean and renewable geothermal energy that can easily meet the energy needs of tomorrow.
    On top of that we have solar, wind, wave, tidal and piezoelectric energy sources as well.

    More is coming, stay tuned...
  • Mats K

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    Nov 19 2012: "Firstly, is this a valid assertion?"

    Both yes and no. The reason we think we are consuming more than we have is not because we don't have enough food or energy to meet our needs, but because we live in artificial scarcity created by the profit-based monetary system. For example: to keep the price on paper high, we need to cut down our rainforests to a minimum, so that people don't have free access to them. Why do you think there's no price tag on air? At the same time, studies show that we actually have enough food to feed the entire planet and enough energy to meet the energy needs of tomorrow. So a re-prioritization is needed.

    "Are Earth resources truly finite as assumed?"

    With the advent of nanotechnology we can utilize molecular engineering and turn all matter into whatever shape and form we desire thus creating technological abundance. But we are still limited to our natural resources on our planet, until we get technology that can mine resources from other planets.

    "Are the available resources measurable? If so - who has a good set of data we can use for modelling?"

    Yes, they are. NASA's 'Landsat satellite program' can be used to measure our present resources and keep track on them in real-time (so that we don't run out).

    "Secondly, if resources are finite and measured - and we are consuming capital exponentially - what are our options?"

    Replacing our profit-based economy with an access based economy where we preserve our resources and produce enough food, clean water and material to feed, clothe and shelter everyone.

    "What latitude do we have for increasing carrying capacity?"

    Nanotechnology or molecular engineering could be utilized to transform any matter to desired needs thus creating technological abundance.

    "What are the options for population modification?"

    Educating people about dynamic equilibrium. An educated population doesn't need control.

    How long do we have?

    That is dependent on what you do today to make a better tomorrow.
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      Nov 19 2012: Thanks Mats.
      This is all good stuff, except 2 things:
      Who are "we" - so virtuous that "we" presume to feed and clothe "everyone"?
      Should "we" not ask: "What is preventing 'us' from doing it for 'ourselves?'"

      It seems that some magic pixie has been going round teh planet and tapping everyone with the "nanotechnology" wand.
      At least the tooth fairy leaves a coin ;)
      • Mats K

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        Nov 19 2012: By "we", I obviously mean the evil social engineers and scientists that will rule this perfect Utopian society whilst brainwashing everyone to become our slaves, bwahahaha! No. I simply use "we" as a term to describe 'we human beings', everyone. Perhaps a bad habit, I don't know. I honestly don't get why people get so suspicious about it though! :p
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          Nov 19 2012: Hi Mats,
          Ther is a great, but subtle, shift in understanding what's going on in the world.
          I'm happy to promote that shift.
          It has to do with passive and active frameworks.
          Some things have to be "made" others must be "allowed".
          Somehow, we have forgotten how to distinguish .. many assume that control is the answer. In that framework, all things are "made".
          Personally, I believe that most things happen simply by virtue of the dynamics of an open system and need no control. ("open" meaning: can interact with surrounding systems - not "free-for-all").
          Perfection is not a thing to aspire to. Capacity-to-adapt is far superior to perfection - and is a thing which can be achieved. But only in an open system.
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    Nov 18 2012: Mitch, how are you planning to report on your modeling effort with the data you are compiling?

    Will you post it as a summary here or a link to a document?

    Do you have a rough target in terms of when?
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      Nov 19 2012: Hi Fritzie,
      I will publish it in the closing statement of the conversation after the time-limit expires.
      It is a lot of work, and I might have to contact others who have done "pre-digestive" work - to shorten the task. Perhaps Rosling can help a bit.
      So . when? As soon as the numbers look useful.
      Right now, my gut tells me that things are bleak in the sense of comfort, but hopeful in the sense that of the chance to undo the mistakes of millenia.
      Everything is convergent in what is described as "singularity" where all the exponents go vertical to infinity - the question is the order in which these things go over the event horizon. It is this sequence that we all should understand.
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        Nov 19 2012: I do understand how big a job this is, having experience in statistical modeling myself. That is one reason I wondered whether you would be linking us elsewhere to a location where you have more flexibility in length and format.

        I have that bias as well, always to look for hopeful angles and to work hard in areas where I believe I can make a difference.

        I applaud your rolling up your sleeves and getting down to an analysis of data. Theory can take us only so far.
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          Nov 19 2012: Agreed.
          Right now, I like everyone else, have the task to shut up talking and start doing.
          Talk is altogether too seductive..

          I better stop talking - my TED-cred is glaring at me like an accusation;)
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    Nov 16 2012: Fritzie

    "The typical Everyone, as I think you have mentioned often, Pat, knows essentially nothing about economics. While the antitrust act signed into law in the early 1890s, I think, was meant to protect consumers, over the years more careful scrutiny revealed that some parts, like prohibitions against price-fixing among those who should be competing is typically sensible, but lots of other prohibitions in the law, particularly in Sherman Act section 2, made no economic sense in terms of benefiting consumers."

    My point is none of it did anything to benefit customers. What people don't realize is that when penalties are imposed on a company they simply pass it along to their customers. The robber barons of the time brought lower prices to the customer. I was pointing out to Mitch that the market takes cares of monopolies without the benefit of government meddling. As we saw with Montgomery Wards replaced by Sears replaced by Walmart. Hell even the mighty GM would be gone now if it weren't for government meddling.
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      Nov 16 2012: Are you assuming that new entry immediately undermines the price fixing or that a cartel is immediately unstable because of the benefit to a firm in the short run of violating the agreement? Or another argument entirely?

      Maybe I should just post this article that represents the different arguments economists in the Chicago School tradition have taken on this issue:
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        Nov 16 2012: I will read the link when I have time. I'm arguing for the prior in that especially today new entries in the market make any price fixing irrelevant. E.G. Microsoft was sued by the government for antitrust. 10 or so years later Apple is the richest company in the world if Google decides to write an operating system to go along with the 100 plus companies it has acquired not to mention internet advertising who is the monopoly now? This is a moving target whose speed is accelerating, what happens when the company just goes offshore? Like I said Montgomery Wards became Sears became Walmart became... The benefactor really is the consumer.

        Unions are a similar mechanism as long as they are subject to market place they are just fine if they get of control the the companies that use union labor go out of business. But if they are a government union they do not have to answer to the market place as is painfully the case here in Calif. In which case the customer i.e. citizen simply goes to another state. When the union has federal influence then the citizen goes to another country which is what will happen.
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          Nov 16 2012: That was a shame about Microsoft. I was in IT at the time Gates got split .. we were all rooting for MS becuase all our integration costs would just go away - the cost of IT services would halve overnight along with speed-to-market .. Mind you, Gates would become emperor of the world in the bargain .. Being an Asperger's that might not be too bad becuase he had little interest apart from his passion for computers .. but his empire might end up problematic with his successor.
          I think people should realise why we elect governments in democracies: we do it to have something occupying the dominant power-niche that has a modicum of transparency. Difference between democracy and dictatorship? Window dressing ;)
          Now when the electorate gets all righteous about morals and ideals, things get outlawed that should be kept in-house (drugs, prostitution, porn, gambling etc) - those things outside law are incubators for warlords, and the government has to deal with them secretly - thus comprimising the government.
          All large organisations suffer from this - at a certain point, the individuals personal agendas out-weigh the interests of the organisation and the thing starts to fragment. I would bet my left nut that the limit of stability os 200 persons per organisation - becuase that is the limit of our autobiographical capacity for effective social tracking - limited by the size of our brains.
          Based on that, I am looking forward to the crash - I probably won't survive it, but hey-ho, I've had a brilliant life - our kids will do better.
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          Nov 16 2012: I think you will be interested in the link when you have time You probably know the Cato Institute is a conservative think tank.
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        Nov 16 2012: Ok I read it the author is saying that the new critics are not cogent in arguing that antitrust laws are bad for the free market.

        I stick with what I have already said. The main area that I disagree with is that government intervention creates unintended consequences usually consequences that are 180 degrees of the stated purpose.

        As I said before with the speed of change in the market place further makes the laws superfluous.

        This is a video arguing antitrust the way I see it.
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          Nov 16 2012: I haven't yet had a chance to listen to your Ron Paul youtube, but I did the chirping cricket. Am I missing a message in that cricket?
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        Nov 17 2012: I thought we were actually going to have a real conversation about economics with the serious link and all. I thought maybe you were up to going a couple of rounds with the champ? but alas it was just threatening noises, I seem to recall you stating that you take a certain amount of joy in taking the loud mouth student down a notch... Cricket sounds were to point out the conspicuousness of your reticence...

        I respect all teachers if they are like you and really can teach. My disposition on economics is one of frustration in the ignorance of the subject by most. Not that I'm an expert, but most people are completely illiterate on the subject. And at this point we are circling the drain at an every increasing speed, to within 10yr the question I have is going to be Mad Max or a dystopian 1984.
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          Nov 17 2012: I meant no threatening noises, do not see you as a loud mouth student, and don't try to take students down a notch. I only like to see people (including students) consider views other than the one they most naturally hold. And I appreciate those willing to consider other reasonable and reasoned views.

          I have not had time to listen to your video and will not until tomorrow. I think perhaps you might be retired, but I am not, so work obligations intervene sometimes.

          Without the chance yet to see your video, I think I see two issues that drive the difference, perhaps, between your view and mine or for that matter between the two chicago-type views articulated in the link.

          One is whether one believes that price fixing arrangements are challenged fast enough given market dynamics to prevent great consumer losses in the interval. Doug Ginsburg and the Reagan justice department said not necessarily to this (in the sense of needing to be considered industry by industry) and you say yes, always.

          The second issue is whether the costs of the whole legal apparatus, both the direct costs and the costs in terms of inhibiting potentially positive economic behaviors by firms exceed the losses during the interval before market forces undermine price fixing.

          By the way, I don't see any of this as "going rounds." People I respect hold both views. Neither view reflects ignorance of economics.
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          Nov 18 2012: Yeah Pat, we need a great big bunch of honesty in this world.

          What's wrong with anger? Why has respect fo it vanished in clouds of "freedom of speech"? When all that gets said is vacuous noise?

          Why has everyone forgotten - That the "collective" is arranged around real humans not the other way around?

          you have done a lot of work in the realm of finance, the closest I got was inventory accounting. But I did notice the psychopathy taking over everything .. not just corporations, but everything.

          It seems that to live in this world, a human cannot be a human. I resent that. And I resent all those who run round pretending to be virtuous machines. And you have seen me - i get my chin way out there and see who can punch my lights out.
          And I don't just do it here - I go up to any self-proclained expert, and test if they know more than me .. and guess what - none so far.
          I hate all this - because I know we can do better, but .. right now, I give up.
          All this stuff is just egos getting hits. I just spent a few hours with one of the leading "new age conspiracy theorists" and guess what I found? An empty gassbag (Tsarion) all aliens and schizophrenia that does not know life if it jumped up and bit their A**s - as good as Ayn Rand apologising for her paedophile father. Life-long inhabitants of foolish institutions with their hands out for politically-correct strokes - better than money for a failed human.
          I'm outa here - it was fun for a while, but there's more important stuff to be getting on with.
          I don't like money, I don't like law, i don't like all the pretentious rubbish that passes for "knowledge".
          My advice, if anyone gives a damn is to just walk away - find your life, live it and forget about all the gass - better still, 300 million fat yanks on treadmills with pipes up their bums - and we solve the energy crisis. Not for the energy, but to just get them out of our faces.
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    Nov 15 2012: Here is another site which, I believe, does what you are trying to do here in terms of gathering data from an array of sources:

    That site also includes links to the many peer-reviewed journals that publish this sort of natural resource modeling.

    The articles you find in such journals will include reference to the data sets the researchers used in their statistical work.
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      Nov 15 2012: Hi Fritzie!

      Many thanks! This is a goldmine - it might not contain everything, but in combination with the NASA resource, it may indicate gaps in the equations.

      I had an idea this would end up being time-consuming ... ah well.
      I'll try to get some formulas and results published in the thread summary when it closes.
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        Nov 15 2012: Well, have fun. It has been a much studied question over the decades.
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          Nov 15 2012: Yes - but it's nice to have TED here where we can bring these studies to a wider population. I feel it is necessary at this time.
          Fun will definitely be had! Not easy, but fun anyway.
          Thanx for your contribution!
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      Nov 15 2012: Hi Mike,

      Good observations.

      What the data does is to provide 1. starting points, and 2. Dynamic observations.
      One can then try our hypothetical models to fit the observations - from which predictions can be made for testing the hypothesis.
      So .. for instance: Total sunlight/day minus (total human consumption/day minus fossil energy consumption/day) only defines remaining at-rest capital.
      That would be useful for determining trend of capital consumption.
      The interest component of at-rest capital needs to be determined as a base-line upon which at-rest carrying capacity can be calculated.
      To get that we need to derive the surplus component of total bio-mass. This could be done as an estimate of carbon sequester-rate. But it would have to be done with humans excluded. So we need to calculate the carbon intake/output by measuring food in - excrement-out which should give a carbon balance equal to total biomass population growth(all species). this should yield a positive figure equal to at-rest carrying capacity - and would equal the diversion of surplus carbon from fossil sequestration to human consumption.
      Then we look at the human cycle - However, it is not clear if human excretion is re-entering the environment cyclically. We tend to dump our poo into toxic concentrations that are not easily metabolised by the biosphere. So there is one major factor that needs research. I.E. how much of human excrement returns to the available cycle, and how much goes into a kind of fossil sink? The difference would influence additional withdrawal of carbon from the global capital.
      from these figures, you could take actual human energy consumption and subtract at-rest carrying capacity = energy consumption "over-shoot". Then when you subtract fossil energy consumption, you will be left with capital consumption of the biosphere. The change in this number over time will yield the curve of teh consumption accelleration - which will yield a termination point at which everyone dies.
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      Nov 15 2012: BTW - the above does not factor-in peak-oil.
      The onset of peak-oil will modulate the downward trend of capital consumption.
      The techno-cornucopia-worshipers believe that the pealk-oil phenomenon will be headed off, but that church does not believe in capital consumption - so they are screwed sooner or later.
      Departure from reality has always been a big problem for religions.
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          Nov 15 2012: Thanks Mike,

          What this exercise will do at the very least is to prompt the incisive questions if and when "solutions" are pushed on us. I would like the principle of empathy to survive me and my species if possible.
      • Nov 18 2012: Hi Mitch,

        Peak oil is a moving target. M. King Hubbert in the 1950's predicted peak oil would occur decades ago. Just when we thought peak oil had come and gone, a new technology, horizontal fracking brought vast reserves of oil and natural gas available for exploitation. I am not in favor of this but feel constrained to point out that some resources are indeed, finite, like native fisheries, but even here, we don't know how much aquaculture will increase our bounty from the sea.

        In similar fashion we don't know how much natural gas is recoverable long-term because like most resources, there is a standard resource pyramid where the richest ore (or, for example, oil) are exploited first and then, as technology improves, a greater portion of the resource pyramid is exploited. The resource pyramid for oil is huge---and growing. We know about Canadian tar sands and the oil shales out west. What we didn't know was that a new technology, not a new energy source would later vastly increase peak oil reserves.

        In similar fashion we don't know how much natural gas is recoverable---in this country our predicted reserves of natural gas have risen dramatically with the ability to frack the Marcellus and Utica shales. When you add to that the vast amount of methane clathrates on the continental slope and rise and we have vast additional resources of natural gas i.e. extending supplies.

        A major source of metals isn't even being exploited yet. These are the vast tracts of seafloor that have manganese nodules littering the seafloor. Unlike terrestrial metals they may become a renewable natural resource. As they are harvested the waste metal, the iron, can be used as "seeds" to grow new nodules on the seafloor. The iron is also critical, as are the rich bottom waters, to building a complete new resource in what are called, "ocean deserts". These manganese nodule fields perhaps using windmill power for "mining" could increase by a massive amount existing aquaculture resources.
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          Nov 18 2012: Not to mention nano engineering.
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          Nov 19 2012: Hi Richard,

          Many thanks - these are cogent observations!

          The delay of reconning seems endless. And this is the basis of the recent promethean philosophy. But it's still just an ideology - and, if Larouche is it's poster child, then it has an idiot at teh helm ;)
          My anchor in all this comes from 2 places:
          1. The Y2K glitch. I was deeply involved in getting a few companies over that particular crisis. I did the analysis of all the computer programs and took the empirical cost of non-action to the relevent CEOs. These were things like "what happens when year 99 becomes 00 in this program". Usually, the results were that accounting glitches would occur, bills would go un-paid and accounting systems would go into a series of glitches which would take about a month of fire-fighting to sort out. No business can afford to have accounts go off-line for a few days, let alone a month. It doesn't sound real sexy as a headline, but it was mission-critical. What usually happened as the projects were formed, was that the lack of a sexy headline prompted internal empite-builders to fluff-up the fear and win massive unecessay budgets. E.g. for one company I had costed a project consisting of a handful of programmers to take 3 months to fix the lot in about 1/4 mill. The actuial project employed Andersons consulting a year and a half project on 20 mill. And most the work was done by my littel project team anyway.. we stayed on to fix all the crap coming out of the Andersons team.
          2. The other glaring example is the Gore/Monkton climate circus. The climate thing is real, but it's not nearly as sexy as these gentlemen need - to fluff-up a personal fortune based on fear-press.
          I am not happy with technology-worship. I grew up in a mining town and I know what prometheus does to the earth and the people on it. Just have a look at the "oops sorry!" going on with the affect of cloud-seeding on hurricane Sandy.
          People use new tricks blindly - and everyone pays.
          Don't touch the methane!
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    Nov 14 2012: I wouldn't say that overpopulation is the problem in the world. The problem is the industrial and manufacturing practices of developed nations; our priority has changed from meeting basic needs to indulgence, extravagance and more profits.
    Despite the increase in manufacturing capacity, developing nations still suffer hunger and all sorts of inadequacy (of basic needs). So, it can not be said that the increased production is for the purpose of meeting needs of the increasing population.
    Pollution and environmental degradation is as a result of the greed of a few.
    • Nov 14 2012: "Despite the increase in manufacturing capacity, developing nations still suffer hunger and all sorts of inadequacy (of basic needs). So, it can not be said that the increased production is for the purpose of meeting needs of the increasing population."

      How so? As long as population meets, or exceeds the growth in manufacturing capability you will not see an increase in average standard of living.

      "Pollution and environmental degradation is as a result of the greed of a few."

      No, right now, with the existing infrastructure even taking care of the basic needs of 7 billion people will lead to much pollution and environmental degradation.
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      Nov 15 2012: Hi Feyisayo,

      I agree to some extent. From your perspective, you see dynamics at work that impact you.
      But I am always troubled by the word "greed". I have observed that what many see as "greed" is no more than practice of "customary expectations". Within the wealthy countries, most people simply assume that it's OK to be burning the equivalent of 50-man-years of energy every single day. They have not known any other way. In developing nations, the people are transitioning from human/animal energy into petro-energy and they DO see the difference. IF a community was struggling along, but surviving with just man/animal energy, it looks like absolute total insane greed to be consuming 25 thousand times that energy. You would think "they must be sooo greedy!" but they are not - they simply have no memory of anything else. They do not know that a human can live very well on a fraction of the energy being consumed in the west.

      The other thing you are not perceiving is that governments and companies are creatures - they are apart from the humans who make them and they behave like simple organisms - eating more and more. They eat power and money - these are things that only humans create, so they farm these humans to harvest the power and money. They get bigger and bigger and start fighting amongst themselves. And we can't perceive them directly becasue they do not exist in the real physical world - they exist in the community environment created by humans. We do not properly see them, they do not properly see the physical world.
      They are: governments, corporations and religions - meta creatures that eat everything a human can feed them, staying alive on our effort and when it runs out, they send us out to get slaves, and when the slaves run-out they are forced to rip it from the Earth - to feed the bottomless hunger of these meta-creatures This is the greed you see.
      It is borne of carnivorous diet and farming.
  • Nov 14 2012: "Firstly, is this a valid assertion?"


    "Are Earth resources truly finite as assumed?"

    Yes, though we haven't maxed out all of them yet and more advanced technology enables us to do more with less (this progress has been too slow in the past but that may change now that population growth is finally slowing down).

    "Are the available resources measurable?"

    Yes, the supply of fresh water, fertile farmland, fishing stocks, mineral/metal deposits and usable energy can all be measured.
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      Nov 14 2012: Hi John,

      Many thanks!

      Can you add some links to sources?
      So far we have:
      Which is a fairly comprehensive catalogue.
      But it would be nice to have independent sources for verification.
      One time I was the statistics systems manager for a large retailer - we would routinely alter numbers provided to the national census and statistics authorities - this was done to manipualte strategy of our market competitors. Knowing that they would also go to private market stats companies, we also manipulated the numbers going there.
      One has to be circumspect and evaluate the motives of information providors.
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    Nov 14 2012: I don't buy the premise.

    If you asked this when the population of the world was in the millions and you presented this concept what would they say if you asked them about 7 billion or today about 100 billion?

    Peak oil is used as a metric of your concept. But as technology changes so does peak oil. If they perfect fusion reaction energy is irrelevant. Aluminum in Napoleon's time was more valuable than gold but then technology figured out how to make aluminum and it became cheap.

    The resources are made scarce when they are manipulated by government to gain power

    To answer your question, It should be as it has always been the Free Market.
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      Nov 14 2012: Did you ever notice, that on nuclear fusion your all beloved and all problem solving 'Free Market' adds only a tiny fraction on the overall research budget in this field?

      In the US the main financier for this research is the taxpayer, also known as 'Manipulative Government' to some people and they support the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the MIT & Columbia University and the FRX-L (Los Alamos National Laboratory & Air Force Research Laboratory).

      NF Research in France, Russia and Germany is funded by their governments too.

      The only private Institution in the US I know of is the Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, which states, that they rised over $2M from private investors from around the world, after getting kickstarted by $300K from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

      So the problem of this crucial technology change is not solved by the 'Free Market' at all, as it has no short term profit, no quick buck to earn in this sustainable and farsighted strategy of energy production.

      This is why all this manipulative governments worldwide started their national budged conspiracies to corrupt their scientist to work on nuclear fusion and to hinder the 'Free Market' to do this work on its own.

      It is interesting to see what you take for granted by and what you blame governments for, and this almost within a single sentence.

      The average ROI time frame in private businesses I worked with is 2 to 3 years. Anything beyond that time and at certain levels of complexity, investment and uncertainty, is, literally, 'none of their business' anymore.

      Also, resources are made scarce when they are manipulated by private companies to gain their power, which is then called monololy - on which I assume you deny their existence... :o)

      By the way, are you a lobbyist of some sort? Because if not, you could certainly make some money here... ;o)
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        Nov 14 2012: Do you think that the government supplied us with flight? They subsidized Samueal Pierpoint Langley to the tune of $50,000 (about 1.3 million today) to build some part of an airplane the Wright brothers got zero. Langley returned nothing the Wright brothers brought us manned flight.

        Did Al Gore bring us the internet? Yes a tiny fraction that does not resemble what we have today

        Same with computers, automobiles, housing, or any other consume good

        Your points are a myth.

        Did government bring us any type of energy? I don't know but me thinks NO. Will they with fusion? I doubt it.
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          Nov 14 2012: For your safety, your government supplied you with a lot of flight!

          Who do you think paid for the development and construction of the latest A10, B2, C17, CV 22, F14, F15, F16, F18, F22, F35, MH 53, HH 60 military aircraft in your country? And how much did this funding increase the know how of those companies, who got it?

          Budget is neither guarantee nor substitute for passion, so don't mix them up!

          And who got you space flight, the first man on the moon, satellite communication and GPS?

          Only now private companies are jumping on a save and well known 'space delivery service', where the risks are known and they make quite a buzz out of it.

          The internet was highly based on government institutions like DARPA, DOD and has many predecessors and fathers coming from those sides.

          The points I made are, unfortunately, no myth, as private companies are limited in their risk-taking and therefore limited in many fields of technology development.

          I am not saying, that the private sector does no good, as it would be false to say so, but I do not worship and believe blindlessly in capitalism, as it outweighs its benefits, does not serve the majority of the people, and creates imbalance in the distribution of wealth.

          Capitalism without governmental regulation is nothing but anarchy in financial power, in which only a few people are free and the rest got to pay for them. The latest bail outs are good examples of how perverted the system has become to us, the people.

          Nuclear fusion is a change for an alternative energy supply. Nobody knows if we'll make it, but if we do, I assume, it will be taken off the hands of the tax-payers and returned to them by private companies to let them pay THEIR profits. Mark my words on this!
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        Nov 14 2012: Clearly you understand this in much more detail than I, Have a nice day.

        After last week I would rather stick needles in my eyes than continue this conversation.
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          Nov 14 2012: I understand, it must be hard to live with a majority of fellow citizens who voted that ignorant ...

          Good luck and be carefull with the needles... ;o)
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      Nov 14 2012: Hi Pat,
      I hoped you would join in - you provide good range for perspective.

      So. you add the important observation: Humans are not good at concieving exponential or non-linear estimates.

      You also point-out that the dynamics are not straight-forward.
      The peak-oil analogy is just a nice, easy to comprehend, example.
      But it does flush-out some of the main dynamics:
      1. Is there a limit to technological efficiency gain?
      2. Is there a limit to technological inovation? What are the time-limits to this inovation?
      3. If free energy is within our grasp with inovation - do we have a plan for energy balance in our environment?

      I can see potential in these things, but I don't want another nebulous god or a Jonestown temple of lemmings. The only way to tell the difference is to get the numbers and crunch them publicly - with participation from all.

      Can you help us understand the free market a bit better?
      If we know what it really looks like, we can get governments and others out of its way.
      I suspect that what we have now is not a free market.

      Here's one for you, something I have difficulty nailing-down:
      How does the invisible regulating hand of supply/demand=price translate into satisfaction of the Maslow pyramid?
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        Nov 14 2012: I don't know if there is a limit to technology efficiency gain actually I don't know what that means

        Is there a limit to innovation, Yes socialism

        As far as balance goes I don't know

        I have tried many times to make you and the others understand socialism better to no avail

        The simplest way I can think of is to point out that the standard of living that we have today compared with a 100 years ago or 1000 years ago is because of the free market. Notice that those countries are gone or going and the standard of living is still here

        There are no absolutes and the countries are always changing Countries like your Australia New Zealand Hong Kong and Singapore are at the top of the freedom scale North Korea is at the bottom.

        By virtue of the fact that for an producer to sell his wares he has to have a customer which requires voluntary cooperation this activity forces the benefit of both parties. This allows self betterment of seller and typically helps the buyer to survive better both will be happy about the exchange and yes all of Maslow's needs are met.
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          Nov 14 2012: Hi Pat,

          Many thanks!

          Please don't mistake me for a socialist. As far as I'm concerned, the models that sprang from Marx were just another form of power concentration. I'm more like an anarchist - but with qualifications - I observe that there are dynamics in human interaction - such as supply/demand - in fact, I was one of the people who helped develop the math for supply/demand analysis.

          What concerns me most is regulations applied that concentrate wealth and power - these are almost always demonstrated to be manipulations of supply demend - and it seems to work like this:
          A group of people forms up into a micro-community. This micro community starts trying to survive as an entity in it's own right - the resource/fuel of that entity is the potential agency of the individuals in it. The cell will max-out this resource and turn outward to accumulate energy elsewhere. In this way we get "governments" - governments have self-survival as priority over all things, with only window-dressing for the electorate that provides the additional energy - the larger the electorate, the more growth the "government" organism has. Then the "citizens" are maxed-out under the burden of feeding it. Then the "government" creature must start competing with others of its ilk through conquest.
          Governments aren't the only meta-organism on the block - corporations also do this. Between them, the healthy dynamics of the free-market are harnessed up to feed the competing meta-beasts.
          I would not mind so much if these meta-beasts seemed to have any positive attributes ,, it would be like assisting evolution, but I cannot see anything to redeem them.
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          Nov 15 2012: Pat, If some bright spark out there cracks the holy grail of energy and tries to sell it but finds that he's been hemmed in by the big guns that want what he has and them gets all high and mighty with their pitiful offers and chooses to do what Linus Torvald did, He gave it to the world, so now almost 20 odd years later to the chargrin of Microsoft, his software powers most of the net.

          Open innovation access to these great ideas starts slow interest but gains momentum as small business starts to develop said free tech rather than the big corps trying to lock it down from every angle and a feeding frenzy begins, Nz is a country built on small business and to me it's small business that keeps things ticking along, what's your view on this?
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        Nov 15 2012: A volume of history is worth a tomb of logic:

        How many companies have lasted for over 100 years? That is right almost none, you see the market place is between a rock and a hard place. Remember all the robber barons, they are gone. Spare me the Teddy Roosevelt trope.

        The same goes for the U.S. for the same reason it quit responding to the market place. As did it's predecessors for the same reason.
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          Nov 15 2012: Come on Pat, you can't have all the fun - sure it's nice to exercise words of derision such as "trope", but that's more a function of your spleen than your brain - c'mon, put a real log on the fire ;)

          I'd enjoy seeing your arguement. Who is this "Teddy Roosevelt" and what was his "trope"?

          Corporations eat each other, some starve by not adapting. The corporation of USA seems to be doing well, as do the Roman Catholic church and the old banks.

          I mean really, I'm trying to find a place for your free-market paradigm - it seems like part of anarchy - and I'm all for it. So how about you break some logic out of it's "tomb" and use it to breath some life into this "history" that you observe?
          Can you be specific about this "Rock" and this "hard-place". It seems like we should do something positive to remove them.
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        Nov 15 2012: The typical left believes that the anti trust law created by Teddy Roosevelt were what did the citizens good by eliminating the monopolies that you mention. A while back I was talking to you or another Aussie (you all look the same to me) about an example of this which was Montgomery Ward was beaten out of the market by Sears both were mail order but Sears starting opening stores Sears was then beaten out by Walmart by using the efficiencies of modern technology and the cheaper cost goods from China. Inside of 100 years the leader in a huge market changed hands 3 times.

        The rock and the hard place is a good thing. Run fast or get eaten by the competition the benefactor is the consumer.
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          Nov 15 2012: Hi Pat - you yanks, it's encouraging to see your myopia is voluntary not congenital ;)

          Was there any connection between Teddy bear and FDR? I seem to remember FDR doing some good stuff with the Glass Steagal initiative - that once dismantled lead to your current implosion. Which has also cheered me up no end :)
          All that talk of Sesession - go market!
          I know about Seers et al, The Yanks adopted teh Aussie cash-and-carry model - turned it into a thing called K-Mart which they launched back here in OZ. My company like the improvements and copied it brick-for-brick all over the place and drove them out of the market.
          That thing with Wal-mart is just a natural development. Interstingly, none of these companies view the customer as more than a substance driving throughput. Ther is no profit made from sales - it is all cash-flow investment on 90-120 day settlement terms - a device used to screw suppliers for interest free cash loans. I helped my company by redefining the dictionary definition of the word "rebate" .. turned it into settlement discount - very funny :)
          I'm not sure if you have seen the new thing in the USA yet. With the risk in currency trades getting so dangerous right now, there is some lateral hedging into drugs and gambling.
          Problem with that is whether it will canibalise sales as people have less money for food.
          As I recall - you are a corporate fellow? You don't seem to demonstrate much experience.

          So let's see what happens to your living standards .. It will be chuffing to compare notes in a year or so.
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          Nov 16 2012: The typical Everyone, as I think you have mentioned often, Pat, knows essentially nothing about economics. While the antitrust act signed into law in the early 1890s, I think, was meant to protect consumers, over the years more careful scrutiny revealed that some parts, like prohibitions against price-fixing among those who should be competing is typically sensible, but lots of other prohibitions in the law, particularly in Sherman Act section 2, made no economic sense in terms of benefiting consumers.

          The law underwent serious economic scrutiny, certainly, in the early eighties, and while I don't know what may have been changed formally in the legislative sense since that time, parts that made no sense for consumers were no longer enforced and many previous consent decrees were vacated- droves of agreements that made no sense for anyone.

          An example of an economic principle that the law as it had been enforced did not reflect is the competitive pressure created by the threat of entry in industries in which new entry is easy.
          Sorry, Mitch, for the tangent, but as you were exploring the tangents somewhat yourself, I thought you would not mind.
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        Nov 15 2012: Ken

        Small business is the engine it creates all of the new jobs. Existing business some shrink some expand but at the end of the day it is wash.
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        Nov 15 2012: Mitch

        Not that I know of.

        Glass Steagall is another trope. Canada doesn't have anything similar yet no meltdown. The reason is that Glass Steagall does not regulate derivatives, so with or without Glass Steagall the result would have been the same.

        I find it hard to believe that companies are hedging by going to illegal activities

        Yes clearly I don't know what I'm talking about...

        Yup the standard of living is going to go lower and then implode. The only question I have is it going to be Mad Max or a dystopian 1984
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          Nov 15 2012: Agree about small business - you have to have passion to do it, and passion is the engine of authentic life.
          The separation of speculation from genuine capital is important to stop big collectives from P*ssing all our hard-won capital up against the wall. Don't kid yourself that non-USA states did not follow USA into and out of Glass Steagall - Some banks retained the initiative despite the urgings of governments to "derugulate", The major bank in Oz resisted and kept the deposit and investment arms rigidly separate - there was a lot of wisdom in that company along with the usual megolomania. AS I recall, the plan was to destroy halal banking in indonesia, but the Asian melt-down prevented them from doing it. This is one of the true motives behind Muslim-ophobia .. it's about the sanctity of usury.

          As for the fall .. well, it's happened to us over and over in history. I have a newsletter from an oranisation advising the rich how to hang onto their power and money through it all. How to "arm-up", how to build secret bunkers and how to squirel value away for the re-emergence. I am of half a mind to publish a newsletter about how to detect hidden bunkers and why "a cave is a grave".
          All you can do is disconnect from dependency, reserve your freedom and keep all options as wide open as possible - adaptability is how we always overcame these things.
          Even though I find you to be overly bellicose, I do admire your capacity to stick to your guns.
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        Nov 15 2012: You do not understand Glass Stegall had nothing to do with the meltdown, zero.

        The thing about this stuff is that it takes more than sound byte to understand it, if you haven't already closed off any communication about it because of preconceived notions.

        I'm becoming less and less aggressive about it because the election is over and most likely the United States as anyone recognizes it.

        Contrary to popular belief I speak sooth.
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          Nov 15 2012: Hi Pat,

          Hmm - I'm willing to be educated:
          As I see it, the separation of speculative investment from deposits prevented the deposit capital from being diverted into high-risk ponzi-shemes such as derivatives.
          Exposing bank reserves to schematic collapse (such as the sub-prime event), meant that all the bets got called-in - the resulting doom of wallstreet was headed-off by taxpayer-funded bailouts - and set the stage for contunued acceptance of insane financial instruments leading to continuous bail-outs - which has been "gamed" ever since.

          How do you see It?
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        Nov 15 2012: Glass Steagall did separate the two type of banks. The catch is that all the trouble was with OTC derivatives, derivatives were never regulated by Glass Steagall so it would no have made any difference.

        The other aspect of this is that the media reports huge numbers but what they don't report is that the investors hedge their bets so the real exposure is a fraction of what the media reports.

        A person will be a lot smarter if they just don't watch tv or read the newspaper.
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          Nov 16 2012: Thanks Pat - it helps.
          The hedges are pretty well known, I was not aware of the OTC distinction.

          Man - I cannot agree more about TV and newspapers.

          I think we all need to review what the word "freedom" actually means. It's not "freedom from" or "Freedom of" - - it's "Freedom to" . And, as far as I can see, we have forgotten to evaluate all the trade-offs we make - how we follow the shiny baubles into cages where the only freedom we have is to rattle the bars on the door we slammed shut behind ourselves.
          in my "jibber jabber" I call it potential agency - the power to determine and foster our own advantage or disadvantage - to choose within those options according to our own judgement from anyone who insists they know better - whether we choose wisely or not.
          All these laws that make people criminal for existing outside of absurd ideals.
          And then they say "selfish" .. but I always have to ask .."well, how the hell can I be "other-person-ish?" And even if I could be other-person-ish - which other person? You? give me a break ;)
          (not speaking about you personally there).

          The other aspect of financial meltdown seems to be the printing of money on value that can never exists. In a way, it ensures collapse if for no other reason than to get trading tokens re-linked to gold or some other real value unit. As i see it, the holders of the funny-money contracts have got everyone by the coblers and sovereignty now is pressed to declaring - "no" - come and get your funny debt and we'll see who is left standing.
          If there is courage enoough for that, we might avoid both the Mad Max and the 1984.
          It's all playing out in the US .. and a lot of breath is being held.
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        Nov 16 2012: One thing that you say resonates with me. It is about freedom to.

        You say you want freedom? The answer is always freedom from the big evil... or Mats takes it step further I want freedom from having to make a living.

        But the statement never comes up I want freedom to... When ever you start a revolution you have to have the to part all figured out or else the people will fight for freedom from alright but once you are done if you don't have the to part figured out your revolution was for naught.

        The to part is the purpose the goals and the IS what is missing. Yes a chicken every pot, a house for everyone, a guaranteed pension, etc etc Yup the we have allowed the government to turned us all into a bunch of whores.

        The corollary to freedom from is where the real game is, this may seem esoteric but it is not. In 1984 they stated that only proles are free. Imo this double speak because they are medicated on Soma so they do not Look.

        Damn shame...
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          Nov 16 2012: Well, lately, I'v abandonned much of my idealism .. turned out to be mostly media programming (till I trashed the TV).
          With re-developing my entire world view (thanx a lot to genuine conversations here on TED) one thing that stands right out is the need for people to stop expecting authority to think for them.
          I say "forget jarbs - find your work" .. i know that a great number of people have no desire to find their life's calling, but, at the very lest, the idealist expectation for everyone to aspire to jarbs has an alternative in the minds of those who actually have a life's calling.
          And these are the guys who will get their hands dirty starting small businesses - creating the jobs for the rest!

          I wanted to take on an apprentice last year, but the beurocratic overheads put it way out of reach - one good guy lost a job and i lost the opportunity to keep up with my order-book (i had to close the order book - 2 years is too long to maintain a supply contract with customers who I regard as friends).

          What's your take on this?

          It seems on-topic.
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    Nov 14 2012: I have no expertise in this area, but there are likely a variety of sources of data to tap, each of which may have some of the data you seek.

    One place to start might be Resources for the Future, a think tank focused on resources.

    Here is another:

    I did an internet search for natural resources database and found pages you may find useful with links to data sets and other resources.
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      Nov 14 2012: Many thanks Fritzie!

      A lot of numbers here! I'll take some time to try to get the main ones into this topic.
      (might have to add a couple weeks to the discussion length!) .

      I think it's important to go through this process as peers.

      It's important because most of our information gets filtered through vested interests - who apply conclusions with the information. We can do better.
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        Nov 15 2012: I agree with you, Mitch, that it is useful to look at data.

        Further, I know there are people and organizations that devote themselves to getting an objective grasp of problems and to gather data in an unbiased way. Too many people do not recognize that and think, rather, that everything is a game of politics, corruption, or purchase.
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          Nov 15 2012: I am getting a thread of the issue already. Of course, it will take some numbers to get any reliable definition of the dynamic.

          This is just a rough outline, but it goes like this:
          Since the Older Dryas stadial of the current ice-age, some very significant things happened to humans.
          1. We started being carnivorous.
          2. We started farming.
          These seem curious from a distance. We can understand the uptake of meat-eating if it is in the context of available foarrage diminishing with the advancing glaciation .. but it seems to occur mostly in the interstadial between the older and younger Dryas .. when forage would be increasing. Why kill?
          Then there is the sudden apearance of farming AFTER the younder Dryas .. when, once again, the availability of forage was increasing, not decreasing.. Why farm?
          Of course, farming is the practice of environmental closure - the first time that humans had any notion of "dominion" and gave rise to artificial concentrations of resources .. and later to the practice of farming humans (slavery).
          I am getting a picture of a basic cellular entity taking up habitat in the environmental niche generated by human community.
          This is perfectly in accord with the dynamics of self-organising phenomena. But what is the seed element around which it organised?
          I'll have a guess - when we turned from brotherhood with the creatures and began eating our brothers .. it would have caused great cultural pain .. like having an arm ripped-off.
          Once the process of separation begen, it was only a small step to start pulling the creatures into our separation through farming.

          Perhaps the seed was the Older Dryas - perhaps when the ice advanced we were left with no alternative but to eat our brothers .. it must have been a sad day. A day that remains with us in our perpetual struggle and grief.
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        Nov 15 2012: Aren't we called omnivores rather than carnivores, and are not a lot of mammals omnivores, making that development somewhat less mysterious?

        Theories related to the beginning of farming and later of settlements in place of nomadic lives are a central aspect of anthropology. I remember my daughter taking a college course focused on that period. So as you work out your theory, there should be numerous others against which to compare it.
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          Nov 15 2012: Yes - we assume we are onmivores because we eat everything. But it might not be what we were evolved to do.
          And yes - it is possible that many studies have been done. Much of this now filters around the internet in forms that have been de-specialised - the inter-disciplinary dynamic of the internet is a new and valuable force - but re-grounding is necessary to stop us all re-quoting Malthus and all those other brilliant pre-acedemia thinkers.
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    Nov 14 2012: This BBC documentary gives quite a good overview on your topic:

    'BBC documentary on 'World Population'. It explains the problems humanity will face if the world population grows out of control.'
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      Nov 14 2012: Hi Lejan, Thanks for the link!

      Here's a point though: A lot of this stuff is coming through traditional media - BBC etc.
      I turned off my television a few years ago becasue I got sick of all the lies.
      I've identified broadcast media as being vulnerable to capture by propagandists.
      In fact, any "one-to many and nothing back" communication is, by nature, propaganda.
      This includes radio, television, youtube and classroom education.

      Mostly I view all the catastrophe theory as entertainment-only .. ghost stories.
      In fact, I have my own catastrophe theory.

      What I'm trying to do with this topic is to flush-out the truth under the stories - on a peer-to-peer basis.

      We have the link to Hans Rosling's wonderfully optimistic statistical analysis. I'm not buying it, but at least he has some numbers.

      What we need is a rough algabra that describes the dynamics that we observe - we need testable models for:
      1. Biosphere carrying capacity - including some idea of sustainable mineral contribution.
      2. Individual requirements - something like Maslow's pyramid - but with numbers.
      3. A formula to represent diminished returns on technological efficiency gains.
      4. A formula to represent diminished returns on technologically forced carrying capacity.
      5. An educated understanding of the "invisible hand" of economy - the models given us by Adam Smith and his ilk demonstrate that the economic "invisible hand" is attached to a moron. What would happen if that hand was attached to something smarter than a supply/demand simpleton?

      And we need start-off numbers
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        Nov 15 2012: Hi Mitch,

        I understand your view on traditional media and share your concerns on 'all the lies'. In fact, no source of information is trustworthy as we usually don't get to know the people, the agenda behind it.

        This BBC documentary on 'World Population' I liked, because it resonates with my view on this topic. It did not sketch an 'everything is going to be fine' picture and conclusions made seem reasonable to me. You can take it as another 'catastrophe theory', of course, yet I am afraid this is not done on 'entertaining purpose' as the tendency is intrinsic to the nature of the given topic.

        The problem with 'numbers' is another story all by itself, as the best anyone could do is guesswork here in any case. Due to the complexity of the given world and the involved mechanisms of exponential growth, any result of a testable model can only be as good as its choosen boundary conditions are. And because those are guessed, so would be the calculated result.

        There are predator-prey relationship models already available to simulate their interdependency, yet they are very basic and only use a view beginning parameters.

        Even a Maslow's pyramid with numbers is only as good as the numbers you choose, because motivation is highly individual.

        My personal favourite is the 'invisible hand', because in my view even an educated understanding of it will return to the very same 'moron' on which it is based on.

        All our models in 'gambling theory' are useless, as none of them is able to predict any booms and 'melt downs' in our reality.

        So as the complexity of your model rises, so do all assumtions within it, and the calculated result would be even less correct as a one year weather forecast on its daily match would be.

        And what would such a model tell us what common sense not already did?

        In my understandning, our lack in taking final actions in changing our 'course' is not due to a lack of precise data or a general understanding. It is due to our custom and denial.
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          Nov 15 2012: Hi Lejan,

          Many thanks - great observations.
          in fact, I have seen this BBC documentary .. a few months ago I think. I actually like it somewhat because it's David Attenborough being very appologetic and humble - as well as demonstrating that he's willing to have iron in the fire through personal effort beyond the doccumentary..
          There is a problem with mentioning population because of propaganda circulating that anything that dares to mention population control is "eugenics" .. the ignoramusses in churches and fear-locked desperation have no idea what eugenics really was and why it does nto equate with responsible fertility. It is an inevitability unless we get some clean understanding of the population factor. Personally, it frighhtens the crap out of me - here is the basic formula of the affect of fertility on a population: X[this] = r times (1 minus X[last]).
          This simplified version of fertility Vs. attrition produces chaos result very quickly. Fiddling with fertility via standard of living is guaranteed to produce total chaos within tiny fractions of values over r=3.56 - if you further modulate attrition by medical science, it gets even more sensitive resulting in probable extinction within just a few generations. It is totally unpredictable, but the onset of chaos values is very predicatable. The reduced attrition model suports stable high populations with fertility below 3. Getting to 3 as a maxium would be a good idea - no matter how we get there. Then there remains the task of determining a "standard of living" consumption number to determine if the at-rest carrying capcity can support it. If it over-shoots, the standard of living number must be reduced. If reductions in standard of living go beneeath tollerable poverty, then the fertility must be reduced or the attrition-rate increased. If none of these adjustments can be made then a cull will be needed.
          If a cull is indicated, then it's best done by suspending the notion of empathy.
          This has already started
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        Nov 15 2012: Hi Mitch,

        as much as I remember, chaos in population dynamics is controversial, as the underlying process is purely deterministic and it is difficult to separate chaotic dynamics from stochastic noise within a given model. Nevertheless even the turbulence of a non-chaotic system in non-equilibrium dynamic is messy and powerful enough to detroy civilisations as we know them.

        Whoever confuses 'population control' with 'eugenics' did not look closely into this matter and can be easily updated by education. If this does not help, then there is a different, a hidden agenda behind.

        We already know, that the 'standard of living' in 'first world countries' can not be shared by the whole world population. So every day 'we' are using more of 'our' share, there are others who have to use less to support 'us'. And even in 'first world countries', the concentration of resources and wealth moves bottom up, so in a not to far future we'll see rising riots worldwide claiming 'their' share and a better 'standard of living'.

        In my view, the given dependency in food production on 'fossile fuels' will have the first impact on world popolation which will also start mass migration and 'food/water wars' on global scale. So if we do not start to rethink the basic pillars of our consumption and population we won't be able to avoid any 'corrective dynamics' which won't be positive to all of us.

        And I agree with you, that '... suspending the notion of empathy ... has already started'

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          Nov 15 2012: Hi Lejan,

          Outside of the rare period or stability,there is no stochastic - there is only chaos.
          What we see as noise is our error to percieve the openness of the system - that chaos-es resonate - and can resonate on frequencies higher than any physical sensor can detect.
          I spent a good long time as a forecasting systems consultant - even in the chaos, there is enough certainty to make decisions. And in the network of phenomenology we are living proof of it (for now ;)
          I have an advantage - a few years ago, I just walked away .. just following a smell .. or a joke maybe .. a revenge on all the things that my effort was used for.
          And I walked right into the middle of life - reborn, no "god" required, no hierophant charging pennance for the rattle of his Keys.
          And here I sit, reading all the great works and listennign to the great "opinion-makers".
          Where once I was in awe of my own ignorance, now I am in frustration of how they just don't get it.
          I find great happiness and "homeness" in not earning the money I do not need - and not spending it.
          So here is this raggedy man shouting from rooftops about the nourishment of poverty. Few will listen, and I don't care if no one does - it just makes me feel good to not have bushels al over my lamp - no matter how dim it may seem to some.
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        Nov 16 2012: Hi Mitch,

        in population dynamics this is what I remember back in the years and shortly before I fell asleep in biology class, so I better trust your experience as a forecasting consultant... :o)

        Unfortunately the process of decision making does not require to have a minimum of logic build into it, that's why I am concerned and quite pessimistic about the future of our species.

        Just today I was watching a documentary about lifestyles in the city of Tokyo, which, on several levels, is widely seen to many as the icon of style, trends and hi-tech. While watching I was thinking how difficult it would be to many of this people to step back from their artificial habits and to be 'degraded' or 'decelerated' towards a modest and simple life on just a tiny fraction of the resources they access today. Tokyo is just an example and it applies to may of our 'first nations'.

        The change in your life you described is to some degree familiar to me. Just recently I pulled myself off the 'fast lane' for a simple question which popped up in my mind one day and to which I could not find a satisfying answer: 'Where am I going?'

        Even though I was not hunting for wealth before and did not plan for any 'career', I realized, that within the given system there was no 'meaning' anymore which was worth to work for.

        By all this high standards of living we created, we lost sight of ourselfs on the way getting there.

        So before I was hitting my 'brakes' I asked colleagues, customers and business partners if they had found what they were looking for in their lifes, and not as single soul did answer with 'yes'!

        Since I slowed down, I see much clearer which helps to define and to set course on what I consider anew and worth to look for myself.

        'Shouting from rooftops' is not part of my personal mission, as it was as effective as to 'cry wolf' to a pack of wolves.

        But whatever 'makes me feel good', as you said, is worth pursuing and sometimes it becomes the key for making a difference
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          Nov 16 2012: If you asked that question of those around you now, I intuit that you would hear more "yes".

          There's 2 ways-in - you detoxify yourself, or you amputate all contact with toxic people.
          Everyone is so afraid to do that - but why? There's 7 billion people on this planet .. there must be enough for a handful of decent companions .. how much would anyone pay to be released from the assholes around them?
          If you paid every penny you had - I guarantee it would feel like the best bargain you ever found. The only real investment in town - is you. And until you invest, you will never know who you are..

          One day, I got in my head to walk down the high street and ask random strangers "Are you someone?" .. guess what - out of 10 people, only one said no.
          It was a great risk to do such a confronting thing, but the result was some of the best conversations I've had for years. And no van full of dustcoated men tackled me, no one punched out my lights, no cops came screeming round the corner, sirens blaring, and I wasn't assasinated by mind-zombie-snipers.
          Freedom is right there on the street - with only 1 poor bastard in 10, I think we have a good chance.
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        Nov 16 2012: Before I forget, I like to thank you very much for sharing the link to Catherine Austin Fitts and her talk 'The Looting Of America' on youtube. Those views are not often heared and I enjoy them whenever I get to find them. Thanks!

        Actually, I did not have many assholes around me, on the contrary, but those who where, mostly got the lead.

        But almost all of the 'good people', the 'normal people', who did not seek to boost their careers ruthless, have resigned and this throughout all age groups. They could not imagine anymore to change anything which was imposed on them from 'top down'. They lost all their inspiration, courage and defense reflexes as if they were all cheep herded to the slaughtering block.

        They would have answered 'yes' to your question yet remained the puppet with strings attached.

        As long just a view people look outside 'the box' there will be no 'van full of dustcoated men' to tackle you, yet if the number of those who 'awakened' rises, they become more likely to turn 'around the corner'.

        With high interest I am watching the riots in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy to see what their democratic governments is willing to force on them and if the people will keep up standing for their believes. If they do, it may spead signals to others to join in, which could lead to the beginning of the fall of our corrupt system. We'll see if our changes are as good as you found them ... :o)
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          Nov 16 2012: Hi Lejan,

          It's probably off topic - but it at the root of why I started this conversation:
          You are in Germany - there's a while before the Riots come your way.
          2 Years ago I was advising my friends in Greece to start a new neighbourhood currency.
          Get some friends together, pool all the euros for exchange, issue new Deuschmarks to the group (equivalent 1 month income). For trade within the group, usle only new Deuschmarks, for trade outside the group make all purchases jointly using the pool. For services/goods sold to outsiders, Euros go into the pool, equivalent Deuschmarks are issued to the group equally after converting from Euros at 1UE=0.5DM. Recruit more to the group with strict rules of inter-group trade in DM only. The core group gradually becomes the new Germany. Do it all as secretly as possible, and have an escape route - the old Germany will attack you if they find out.
          The new DM is a transitionary device. When the Eural collapses, just deal goods/services free. You may be able to record goods/services as just a description - we have computers, and no longer need currency as a value token. But a functional society requires no currency at all. If you issue a currency, it is vital to eliminate it at ealiest opportunity. The reason is that the issuer of currency becomes the king - instantly. A functioning society needs no king.
          I have been working on the causes and cures of the suicide of humanity for a while. Here are the causes/cures: (continued next)

          (edit) Over the period of the coming violence and grief - the absolute strategy to survive is only one thing - do not get blood on your hands.
          Do not participate in the riots. Watch carefully to detect them coming - and be somewhere else. This will teach you the art of the nomad. Become ghostly and move in the spaces in-between. Resist the desire to fight.
          I tell you now - all those who get blood on their hands will not survive. Sadly, many innocents will also die. Be sad for that, not enraged.
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          Nov 16 2012: 1. Carnivours.
          Humans are not carnivours. Our bodies are toxified by any form of meat. The animals are our brothers and friends. Respect the predator, but do not fear him - and do not copy him.
          2. Farming.
          This is laziness. For every seed and fruit you find - honour the seed and plant it back near to the place you find it. If the beast wants to give you his wool for fibre - he will let you sheer him, do not force him. This requires you treat the wool-animals as brothers - otherwise they will give you nothing.
          3. Property.
          You own only your effort(agency) nothing else. Respect the ground under the feet of others, respect the things in the hands of others. Respect the tools of others. Respect the diginity of others. Take no food from another's mouth.
          4. Slaves.
          Ask for help. Never force it. This includes our human friends and animal friends. If they are truly friends, ask and the answer will sometimes be yes, not always. If they are not your friends, the answer will always be no. In this way, you will find many friends of all species.
          If you are answered no, then the time is not yet for what you want.
          5. Money.
          Money is a lie. It is a device by which people are made slaves. It is the first drug of adiction - from which all other drugs arise.
          6. Respect elders.
          The elders of the society contain the wisdom of history. All decisions concerning the society must be discussed first with the elders. They are frail and often cannot make goods or services apart from their wisdom - be kind to them.
          7. Transgression.
          There is no punishment - only decision. Punishment/revenge creates intractable mental harm that accumulates over the generations. Never confine a living creature - the result is perpetual harm to the society.
          Transgression is part of leaning - the task of forgiveness is for the elders - keeping learning in mind.
          There is only 1 remedy for habitual transgression - death. This is sad and must be conducted as if a funeral - with dignified ritual to heal the harm.
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        Nov 17 2012: Thank you Mitch for sharing your interesting ideas and guidelines!

        According to National Geographic, the most successful 'regional currency' in Germany is within the Chiemgau area in southeast Bavaria with a total of 5 million in annual turnover. It was installed 10 years ago to enforce the local economy by keeping the exchange value cycling within. A bill of this currency is only three month valid, to avoid 'concentration' of wealth and long term savings to keep the cash flow going.

        Many other yet smaller regional exchange systems are on the rise, some of them internet based, but in general most Germans still don't have any urge for a change, as the 'bubble of bliss and ignorance' has not burst yet here.

        Personally I was thinking worst case scenarios through as well for the collapse of the european and world economy and I mostly agree with your non-violent approach on this. What I don't know though is, if it can and should be done in any situations.

        If the majority of people in East-Germany in 1989/90 would not have protested as 'a whole' in a non-violent riot, history may have turned out differently.

        If we ever wan't to free ourselfs from a system which only protects 'wealth' and which does not care for all of its people, we need to set out on the barricades one day. As a whole nation, a whole Europe, a whole world. So if no other change than this would be possible, at least at that 'turning point' it would not be helpful if most of the people were striding through the woods as nomads.

        On this, Germany can learn a lot by its French neighbours, who, as a nation, is quite experienced to free themselves from despotic regimes. Not always 'bloodless' like Ghandi's idea, yet still disciplined enough not to drown in anarchy.

        Nevertheless, 'the system' did prepare itself already by setting up the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF), a militarised police intervention force, to avoid 'national' police to deal with 'national' riots on large scale scenarios ...
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          Nov 17 2012: The time of the psychopath is done.
          Do not walk in his way - or you will be him.

          For millenia, we have done our best to heal him to contain him and outwit him, but inso doing, he infected us and we became sociopath.

          Now is the time of fire.

          There is no fighting left now except in the psychopath excoriating himself in his own flame.

          Stay afar, or be burned with him.

          Now is the time of the nomad.
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        Nov 17 2012: I see your point, Mitch, but I don't wish myself to walk away from injustice and violence if it is done to people who can't defend themselves.

        Who will I become, straying alone in the forests, on the planes and just feel sorry for those I see falling, yet intentionally avoid to help for sheer survival reasons?

        I see your point, Mitch, but for myself I hope to find the courage to stick to my core believes in time of need or die trying.

        By the way, compared to Australia, Europe is to crowdy for this conflict avoiding strategy to work anyway, so even if I was a nomad, there would be thousands surrounding me in the woods at any given time of the day... :o)
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          Nov 18 2012: The default human is pretty cool. There is no need for law - in fact, law is only ever changed(if ever) after it has harmed someone.
          We've been sold a pup.
          Anarchy is the absolute pinacle of human expression - don't believe anyone who says different - they have vested interests.

          I will do the numbers anyway - at the very least, it reveals the issues, and knowing them, you cannot be lied-to.
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    Nov 14 2012: It is well known that scientific research into such global capital, population etc can be creatively cherry-picked to verify economic models, beliefs and political dogma, depending on who it is funding that research.

    If big funders are loath to pour money into climate change research for instance, then it won't even get to first base - let alone become the mainstream knowledge it should be.

    I would say that it is virtually impossible therefore, to verify anything impartially that goes against the current global economic model. The lobbies that exist are too powerful and monied to be fairly opposed by anything that is in any way crippled by serious underfunding - yet whose research data is calling for environmentally balanced and sustainable agendas.
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      Nov 14 2012: I too have a bunch of perceptions that seem to me inevitable. However, It has been proven to me on a number of occaissions that in the absence of numbers, my fears and hopes have been unfounded.

      So, I'd like to see if there are numbers that can be verified.

      Having that in hand, one can begin to look at strategy. Perhaps humanity is screwd already, we don't seem to know. But if there is some window of opportunity for the genome .. well, our genome is the only true human nation. Not being particularly nationalistic, it just seems good to me that a few humans get through.
      If that is not an option, then let's just party.
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          Nov 15 2012: LOL!

          It ocured to me that there are only 2 political parties these days: "party now" and "party later".

          I want to do some research before I cast my vote ;)

          It's a pretty cool world view - either way ends up in a wild bachinale, but the rivalries are delaying deliveries from the brewery - that's gotta get sorted!
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    Gail .

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    Nov 14 2012: Certainly earth's resources are finite. I don't know how much data exists to determine the actual amount of resources that we have left.

    At this point, because the earth is populated mostly by sheeple who beg to be fleeced and butchered, and who battle fiercely to preserve their right to be victimized, this problem will not be corrected without help. Either those who fleece the sheeple will create a fiscal catastrophe or mega war in order to lower our numbers, or the earth will respond to our abuse of her with a virulent plague.

    Perhaps, as our numbers increase, and global warming continues, and aquifers are depleted and polluted by mega corporate farmers and oil companies who use fracking to get natural gas, and arable soil is lost through unsustainable farming practices by giant corporations, we will simply choose to starve off those who were not lucky enough to be born with a silver spoon in their mouths.
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      Nov 14 2012: The effort to gather data is so much fiddle playing. Who thinks the data we finally, if ever, gather will indicate "No Problem- Status Quo Indicated"? Rome is burning. Let's find broken stuff (deforestation, pollution, mega-farms using genetic manipulation, excessive consumption by the first world, mega-cities, etc.) and fix it! We humans are supposed to be exercising dominion over this magnificent planet.
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      Nov 14 2012: Well .. there seems to be a lot of fear - and no one seems to have any real basis for it beyond "what I was told", "gut feeling", "intuition" or "plausible model".
      I just want to get some kind of clarity.

      And Edward . I think that notion of "dominion" is part of the problem (if there is one). Specially since the words in most histories are proven to be wild misineterpretation - at least, as far as many translators are concerned.

      I am growing weary of assumption - someone out there wants me to be crushingly afraid, and I want to know the truth before I accept it

      At the very least, the exercise will raise awareness..

      @TL .. one of the many assuptions doing the rounds is that the Sun will nail us long before any of that other stuff.
      And "sheeple" would stop letting themselves be farmed if they were allowed to open their eyes - we are all near as damnit clones, and brain plasticity takes care of teh rest.
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        Gail .

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        Nov 14 2012: You're right. The sheeple would stop letting themselves be farmed if they were allowed to open their eyes without threat of repercussion. I don't blame the sheeple for having become sheep. I was once one of them. If I could escape it, why can't everyone?
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          Nov 18 2012: Well .. the fences are just fo show. Any sheep can just walk off the farm. As far as the farmer is concerned, anything outside his fence is a wolf - and he has tame wolves(sheepdogs/police) to back up his assumptions.

          Walk off the farm - and open your mouth and let everyone see those great big white sharp teath - and don't worry, the sheepdogs are just as trapped as the sheep - if they go through the fence, then all the sheep will know they can - imagine a whole world full of slavering wolves?
          This is what the farmer fears.
          Wolf community is far superior to life on the farm - no matter what lies you heard about wolves.
  • Nov 14 2012: Are Earth resources truly finite as assumed?

    This is obvious, of course Earth resources are finite. Isaac Asimov once wrote that phosphorous would be the limiting resource for humans.

    Are the available resources measurable?

    Measurable, maybe. They certainly have not been accurately measured.

    IMO, there is good reason to think that we are consuming the Earth's capital, but there are no credible measurements to support this idea. "Resources" is a general term that cannot be measured. We could possibly measure each resource, but we still would not know which resource will be the limiting resource. Humans are clever and can find ways to substitute for a particular resource.

    The current debate between the pessimists that are convinced that we must reduce our consumption, and the optimists that believe innovation will allow us all to consume all we want, is unrealistic. Neither side is seeing the whole picture. Both sides believe they know more than they actually do. We do not have the data. We cannot know the future.
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      Nov 14 2012: Status Quo then?
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      Nov 14 2012: I simply don't believe that there are no numbers.even a number with a +/- error estimate would do.
      I just watched a documentary where one guy said that all the earth's crust has been assayed to fine detail, and another who sid that the Arabs keep artificially quoting inflated oil reserve estimates. That does not equate, and someone's fibbing.

      I also saw Lord Monkton assure me that there is no such thing as anthropogenic global warming .. but then I saw Potholer54's in-depth analysis of Monkton's deliberate lies.
      My own brother points me to websites denying climate change while I have to research the websites industry backing and lack of peer-reviewed research - put it in his face, and he still believes what his church tells him.
      Then there's this stuff:
      And a lot of seemingly loony-tunes stuff about aliens ..

      Personally, I think we took 2 major wrong turns: 1. Agriculture, and 2. Eating meat. I think we are not hunter gatherers at all - we are gatherers. There is some evidence for this, but still not what I'd call a slam-dunk.

      I'll welcome any source that proffers verifiable estimates.
      I am a bit worried that no one has been able to do so yet.
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    Nov 14 2012: I think Thomas Malthus got it right back in the 1840's. If we overburden the planet it will go into auto-correct mode and adjust the population downward in a very big way. I think your assertion is valid. I think we should make every effort to avoid the auto-correct mode.
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      Nov 14 2012: Hi Edward,

      I'm sure a lot of people will concur. However, Malthus was not in posession of impirical data with which to test his model. I'm trying to be as objective as possible - it may be necessary to gain a precise understanding of these questions before anything can be regarded as an effective response - if, indeed, response is indicated.
      For instance, if the model mandates population reduction, we will have to know the rate required --> in order to apply accelerated attrition --> without causing competitive backlash --> that will short-circuit the process --> with undesriable side-effects --> that could compramise future recovery.
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        Nov 14 2012: Sorry Mitch,
        I don't mean to belittle the ananytical powers of those who study such things, but there is a higher power, some call Mother Nature, I call God, who regulates matters beyond human influence. Are you still reading? I do not advocate doing nothing. We must fix what we know is broken. Auto-correct may begin while we are trying, futilely, to gain precise understanding. Let's go after first-world gluttony for starters. Mr. Stepien has stated it well (next reply). Thanks
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          Nov 18 2012: Have you examined the original text?
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        Nov 18 2012: We all have too much time invested in this important topic you have presented to make weak assumptions about what the other person is meaning. So, to guard against doing that very thing I must ask to what "original text" you are referring? Thank you.
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          Nov 19 2012: Hi Edward,
          The bibles for starters.
          The thing about history is that it is taken as truth. There is no static truth, we move towards it, in perpetuity - never arriving.
          Written histories record only the location of the author at the time the ink dried. Thus, histories are no more than sign-posts. They do not ask us to climb into them and stop there, and the older the history, the more the truth has moved on.
          The other mistake we make is to assume "agency" in everything.
          Agency assumes intention - the subtext being "advantage", with undertones of "purpose".
          Indeed, there are many in this world (me included) who are motivated to manipualte the world with "intention". But that is not the only game in town - some things are "emergent".
          Emergence is without intention, it is just a property of the "system".
          Since emergence is not causal thing, it has no agent.
          The reason I ask about "original text" is to see if you have circumvented the surruptitious agency that has been injected into translations. Indeed, if you have appreciated the emergence being described by the original authors?
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        Nov 19 2012: Well Mitch, there are no "original texts" available for the Holy Bible, King James Version (KJV) of 1611 that I use, also known as The Authorized Version (AV). So, no, I have not examined the original texts because they do not exist. The earliest extant manuscripts may be what you mean by "original text"? If so, yes, I have examined them and find my chosen version to be free of self-contradiction resulting from what you call "surreptitious agency". Thusly I have become convinced that some matters are beyond human influence and belong to God alone. It was of these matters that Malthus spoke. Thanks again!
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          Nov 19 2012: Hi Edward,
          There is no ostensible problem with mistaking emergence for god. It's just a word.
          However, such words leave an enormous gap into which people attach their fears and delusions - through the assumption of agency - agency requires causality, and there is no causality in an emergence such as "god" .. all the causality attached to this phenomenon arise from oiur own imaginations - not the universe - we become self-worshipers in the process, to the detriment of "god's universe".
          I am fairly certain that you have avoided this, but the vast majority have not.
          As I understand it, KJV did not magically appear one day - it was sourced from historical documents, most of which reside in the Vatican today. And the Vatican has not stood still, these documents are re-translated continuously - and the skill of translation has increassed - a thing the Vatican is at pains to supress.
          I am not knocking KGV entirely - there is a glimmering of original authorship in it, but one has to dig.
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      Nov 14 2012: You should not worry about things such as overpopulation or auto-correct modes. If it is ever going to happen it will be spontaneous and human engineering skills will bo of no use.

      With systems that escape single person's perception there is no point trying to desing a solution. Nothing good has ever come out of it. Focus rather on the things which you can change on your own, and the spontaneous order will take care of the rest.
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        Nov 14 2012: What me worry?
        "It" has already happened more than once in human history. The Mathusian Limit can be reached at much smaller levels than just global. We are seeing auto-correct today in some African nations where birth rates are exceeding agricultural capacity and technology. The babies keep coming but the food doesn't. Right on sir! We must focus on the things we can change rather than searching for an ever-elusive designed solution. Malthus nailed it! Thanks!
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        Nov 19 2012: Hi Jedrek,
        I'm glad you bring this up - and thanks!
        One of my driving motives in this, is the observation of the vectors of "harm".
        We can sit here glibly nodding about, yes, it will all fall in a heap - and we will emerge again, as we have done so many times before.
        However. This cycle of cull leads to something no one discusses: ubiquitous harm.
        Have you observed, in person, how harm propogates through the community as harmed people harm others?
        Have you observed how harm propogates down the generations by harmed parents harming their children?
        Have you observed that cyclic harm favours the promotion of psychopathy? And how psychopaths sabotage and cancel all the healing done?
        Can you undestand that social collapse is the primary generator of this harm?
        If you want a world locked down into the inevitability of cruelty and needless pain - just keep that attitude of inevitability. If you are a psychopath, then it's understandable .. but you may not be.
        I have no intention to design a linear solution. I do intend to remove the impediments of a solution that already exists. I do not believe people are as stupid as they seem, I think they took a wrong turn and promptly forgot the intersection.
        Here are the intersections: Carnivorous pretention; agriculture. Both these correlate with the Older and Younger Dryas events. These are the events that got the harm ball rolling in the first place.
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          Nov 19 2012: I agree with you completely Mitch, but to make myself clear - I was not promoting inertia or any kind of apathy by saying that we can not influence what is beyod us. My point is that it is exactly the thing which are within our reach (family, etc.) where we can and have to act.

          If we are able to keep the harm away from our nearest environment I am sure that the harm will be lesser in its totality.

          They say, however, that there must be balance in nature, so perhaps it is utlimately impossible to get below a certain treshold of harm in its totality, but like I said - acting localy not globally should be of our concern.
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        Nov 19 2012: Hi Jedrek,
        Yes - doing things at a personal level is incredibly powerful - it sets models for others.

        Nothing is beyond us until it proves to be so. Such proof requires at least one genuuine attempt.

        It is quite possible that one can change the world by simply writing a few words on a wall. However, one must choose the right words, and the right wall ;)

        As for myself, I refuse to allow the endless oscillation of harm. The flaw is identified - given that, we can begin the task of addressing it.