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Mitch SMith


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What are our true global economics?

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

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

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

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 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 ;)

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