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Mitch SMith

TEDCRED 100+

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What are our true global economics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Closing Statement from Mitch SMith

OK.

I have digested available metrics and known models.

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

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

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

So .. in this scenario - ignorance is bliss.

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

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

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    Nov 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 https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D&id=D24D89AE8B1E2E0D%21283&sc=documents)
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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. (http://www.ted.com/talks/stephen_wolfram_computing_a_theory_of_everything.html )

      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.

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