Eastern Europe, Central America environment etc.

Discuss Francis Tapon's upcoming book, "The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us."
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Eastern Europe, Central America environment etc.

Postby explenture » Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:49 am

You first state that population control is the key to minimizing human impact. Then you say if we don't have kids we commit hypocricy by flying jets. Let me state that I am married and that we have decided we will not have kids. Can't say that it was because we are strongly for population control but no kids none the less.

I would believe over a normal life span that a new child will contribute much more impact than my wife and I flying via jet. Exactly why shouldn't we complain about those having children and adding to the burden?

Finally perhaps the adoption of children could be promoted as environmentally friendly and as a sustainable practice....

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Re: Eastern Europe, Central America environment etc.

Postby FrancisTapon » Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:33 am

I've moved this topic under "The Hidden Europe" section because in my book I talk about how Eastern European countries are dealing with their declining population and what it means to the rest of the world.

Thanks for your excellent post. I agree with you 95%. ;)

The point of my article about the disappearing rainforests is to make more people aware what role our own reproduction has on the planet.

I agree with you that people who don't have kids have far less impact than those who do. Even if you only have one child, that one child could create 100 descendants. Or a 1,000. Or 1 million. Or 1 billion. Although this impact is spread over a long period of time, it is cumulative and real. Each one of those descendants will consume a lifetime of energy and create tons of waste/pollution.

Therefore, I agree with you that those who don't have kids are far more justified to complain about our environmental woes than those who choose to have kids. You can live like Donald Trump (minus the kids) and you will still have far less impact than someone in Angola having two children, who then go on and reproduce ad infinitum.

The reason I'm talking about flying jets is to make people aware it's nearly impossible to be an environmental saint. As obvious as that is, there are many self-righteous environmentalists who believe they are environmental saints because they only focus on the issues that they are willing to do something about.

Most people draw the line at having kids. In other words, that's one thing they are unwilling to avoid doing. Ironically, it's the one thing that has the most impact, far exceeding all the other cumulative actions you do in your life. However, few talk about it, because it's unpopular and makes people feel bad.

Moreover, I totally agree with your point about adopting. It's a shame that it's so hard to adopt despite millions of unwanted babies. It's also a pity that the cost of adopting exceeds the cost of having your own. If the government taxed newborns and made adopted ones tax free, then that would change people's behavior.

Incredibly, it's hard to adopt a pet! A friend of mine who works at the SPCA tells me stories about all the people they turn down who want to adopt a dog or cat. So you can imagine the paperwork to adopt a human being! :?:

If you're interested in reading more about unorthodox views on the environment, I encourage you to read these articles:

* On Being Human
* Climate Change 1
* Climate Change 2

Thanks for your input! :)
- Francis Tapon

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Eastern Europe and population decline

Postby FrancisTapon » Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:32 pm

The following is an email exchange I had with a good friend of mine. It was sparked from my article where I predicted that we will have one trillion humans on this planet.

In the article, I mention that Eastern Europe is experiencing a declining birthrate and I talk about what they're doing to try to boost it. The UN's middle of the road predictions says that the Earth's population will never go above 12 billion. Here are my thoughts as well as my friend's thoughts (in quotes) on this issue:

Predictions that we will max out at 12 (or whatever) billion depends on some countries having a declining population rate (because it's impossible that every country will have a 2.1 birth rate - which is perfect replacement). We need to world to be 2.1 on average. So that means some countries will be above and below that avg. Those that are below will not find it acceptable (as we are witnessing throughout Europe). They're rushing to increase to birthrate, concerned about the impact of a declining population will have on the country's economy.
So whenever a country drops below the 2.1 avg, it will work hard to get above the 2.1 rate. As a result, the global rate will always be above 2.1. Therefore, we are not at the end, but just at the beginning. We have to get to a trillion+.

We won't stop until we run out resources. That's what ever living thing does.

We aren't getting to a trillion. Your premise stands but we can do that at 4 billion population. You need to look at basic demographic trends, very accurate forecasts and UN studies. http://www.un.org/popin/data.html

These numbers don't grow ad infinitum. There are many accurate indicators that the world will plateau around 12 billion people.

The reality is that we are already running out of resources.

http://www.chrismartenson.com and take a look at the crash course videos.....super fascinating stuff.

You're right, this is indeed fascinating, but he digs his own grave when he points out that anyone can make a hockey stick with a small growth rate (1%) as long as you adjust the Y axis.

This brilliant observation is then quickly forgotten in the rest of his presentation!

He goes on to assume that the Y axis for all our resources are approaching their maximum.

I disagree! I have far more confidence in the ingenuity of humans.

If I take any of these silly graphs and play with the Y axis, then the hockey stick will go away.

The main resource that matters is the energy from the Sun and the energy in the Earth. We're not even scratching the surface of that energy bank!

Sure we'll deplete lots of resources. We always have. So what? We've got enough resources to support hundreds of billions. You need to have more faith in humanity's cleverness.

Of course we won't grow forever, but we're mainly limited by the amount of the energy that the sun produces (and some of the energy from the Earth's core). How we harvest that energy will determine our maximum population.

12 billion is nothing. Add up all the energy and we can grow 10x to 100x that without a problem.

There's one reason that we might plateau at 12 billion, and it's an ironic one. It's that we will become nearly immortal. Once humans can live 500 or 1,000 years, then they will begin to care about how the world is in that time frame. Then they will begin to demand taxes on children, especially as the death rate plummets. Some countries with a high number of near-immortals might even make reproducing illegal!

However, until we get there, we'll keep going up.

In the future, world population has been expected to reach a peak of growth, from there it will decline due to economic reasons, health concerns, land exuastion and environmental hazards. There is around an 85% chance that the world's population will stop growing before the end of the century. There is a 60% probability that the world's population will not exceed 10 billion people before 2100, and around a 15% probability that the world's population at the end of the century will be lower than it is today. For different regions, the date and size of the peak population will vary considerably


I understand their predictions 100%. I've read them many times.

I'm just saying they're wrong because they underestimate the innovation and technology we produce that allows us to squeeze more people in.

Malthus believed that we would never see 2 billion. And he would have been right if humans stopped innovating. However, he horribly underestimated us.

We're making the same mistake again.

Specifically, the folks at the UN don't realize that we will transcend biology and in the 22nd century humans will be mostly machines just needing a power plug, not water or food.

Similarly, they're making a big deal that we will have no oil in 100 years. So what? The people in the Stone Age were probably worried that we would run out of stones.

In the 22nd century, oil will look as useful as hay or grass. You don't fill up your tank with grass, right? In the future, you won't use oil either.

Think creatively. Expand your mind. Don't automatically believe whatever the UN or someone tells you.

Spoken like a true first worlder from a privilaged background......is the machine concept that, even if it does come into existence will only be for 10% of humanity while the rest continue in the misery of survival economics. While economic prosperity is increasing on average around the world there are simply biological limits and will trump innovation if we don't have some moderation. The UN only is good at reports and analysis, they do that well but unfortunately that is all they can do. UN projections are not Malthus. What exactly are you basing your forecasts on in constrast to the UN Francis.

Let’s talk when we’re 100 years old. We’ll see if the UN is right or if UN Francis is right. ;)

I’m basing my forecasts on the amt of energy around us and how much of it we’re using.

What demographic knowledge do you (or the UN) have that I don’t?

Of course only the privileged will benefit at first. Has it ever been different?

There will always be people and rich people because wealth is relative and has a bell curve. Yawn.

Well this is the age old conundrum and you clearly take the optomistic approach. The problem with the "sunny" view (couldn't resist) is that the optomists end up willing to take more risks at the environment's expense. You seems to be advocating the Gaia Hypothesis, if only from the philosophical point of view that the world is at the essense a single organism and we are all just interlocking parts of it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis you may be in dissagreement from the scientific analysis of it but your one email about your overall world view is still, seems to me, all about it.

Ingenuity has it's place my Libertarian, but simply advocating and beliving in that pancea is putting quality of life, and diversity of species at too great a risk for what I believe is excessive, naive and in the long and medium run, very very dangerous.

This is the pride of man.

It's the pride of every living thing. All living things push the limits and care nothing about the long term consequences. The purpose is to reproduce until you can't reproduce anymore.

I'm not saying that we'll never hit a wall. Obviously we will. I just see evidence that the wall is much farther out than 99% of the people believe.

Yep, so that is why I am always referring to the scene in the Martrix where the enforcer is telling NEO that humans beings are a virus with no brain. That is why the solution but come from the Spirit that ultimately we are talking about a spiritual battle for the sake of the planet.

I am optomistic about my personal future but not for the planet, not when we are moving towards the tipping point of irriversible damage to the house itself.

Matrix is right. We’re just a virus (technically, we’re an organism, a virus has no cell). Spiritually won’t come, unless we start living hundreds of years. We’ll get more wise then.

Irreversible? Everything the humans have done is nothing compared to one big asteroid 65 million years ago. The Earth recovered just fine from the KT extinction as well as the Permian. What we’re doing is NOTHING is comparison. Just a scratch. Read my article about Climate Change.


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Re: Eastern Europe, Central America environment etc.

Postby FrancisTapon » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:46 pm

A friend of mine who has a 1 year daughter named Asa, wrote this:

I was just at a Stanford alum day with Suzanne where they brought down a bunch of professors to give minilectures. I went to one on sustainability and they were saying the same thing. That the population will level off in about 50 years. I'm not sure I believe it either.

I'm thrilled that some circles are talking about population growth. Of all the levers that we control, it's the one that has the greatest impact, yet we either clump it in with other levers (like recycling; energy use; driving) or, more often, we just ignore it completely. It's a shame, because it dwarfs the other levers, as far as impact.

I'm bullish on life extension though. It's possible that Asa, your daughter, will be immortal. If not her generation, surely the next. When that happens, the world population will explode! However, Asa will start to truly care what the world will be like in 500 or 1000 years, because she'll be there! So she and her near-immortal friends will demand restrictions on reproduction. They'll do the same math I did and say, "No way! I don't want a trillion humans in 500 years!"

Those restrictions will just apply to life on Earth. We'll have hundreds of trillions living in the stars.

Should be fun! :)


> Yeah it's seen as important. The prof who was talking was basically saying that he and his colleagues were all - at one point - saying that there's no point in trying to create a sustainable world unless the population is constant. So at one point they had no hope, but now they see the population leveling off in 50 years. The question is will it be 8 billion? 12 billion? How much?

It's seen as important by that one prof (and a few other people). You and I know that the mainstream environmental movement rarely talks about it. If they do talk about it, they talk about it in general terms, lamenting the rise, but no asking anyone to take personal action. They don't say, "YOU shouldn't have kids." They just say, "Those Indians or Africans should stop having kids, but YOU should recycle."

What's limiting us? Food and water.

In 50 years, don't you think we'll find a way to desalinate water cheaply? If so, water is nearly limitless for those that live near sea level (it's expensive to transport water to Denver).

Food? When we're cyborgs, we just need battery power, which means solar or geothermal or nuclear fusion, which allows us to expand into the hundreds of billions.

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Re: Eastern Europe, Central America environment etc.

Postby FrancisTapon » Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:53 pm

There is zero basis for this prediction! Just some out-of-your-ass, fly-by-night prediction, based on sprinkles n' cupcake intuition.
Who can take this seriously Francis??!???!
Why won't we stop there? There are biological limitations which you down play waaaayyy too much sir.....

I’m not playing down biological limitations. I’m simply saying that we will transcend them!

Obviously it will be tough (and probably impossible) to have 1 trillion homo sapiens on this planet using today’s tech.
Just like it would be impossible to have 1 billion humans on this planet using technology from 500 years ago.

The basis of my predictions is:

• Observing the exponential growth of our technology along with our population.
• Observing how humans are already moving cybernetic in 2009.
• Seeing how we can grow hearts today.
• Seeing how we can grow meat in labs today.
• Seeing robotic tech has improved.

If you make a reasonable assumption that technological progress will continue, then you’ll realize that we’ll reach near immortality his century. That desalination will be cheap. That we will need electricity to survive more than food. That we’re not harnessing even 1% of the solar energy that hits the Earth.

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Re: Eastern Europe, Central America environment etc.

Postby FrancisTapon » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:02 pm

I read Bill Gates annual letter on his charitable activities. It is at http://www.gatesfoundation.org/annual-l ... etter.aspx

Had a few points that I thought were germane to some of our discussions.

1.If you reduce the # of child deaths then you reduce overall population growt
2. Parents aim to have enough children so that some will survive to aid them as they age. The more children that survive the less that are actually born.
3. So...... increase in child health= decrease in population.

So perhaps the 'ultimate environmentalist' would be one who has no children and works for healthier children so the population will reduce further?

Bill makes a defensible and logical argument. However, I'll debate my former employer... :P

What really matters isn't how many children you have, but how many children you have that reach the age of reproduction. For example, some African countries might have an average of 5 births per couple, but if only 2 make it to 20 years old, then that's about the same effective reproduction rate as many developed nations.

Therefore, Bill's efforts will bring down the birth rate, but I'm not sure if it will have much of an environmental impact. Either way Africa will keep growing at roughly the same pace. The only difference is that there will be fewer dead children. Although that's nice, it won't bring down Africa's nominal population, which is what really matters when measuring our impact.

If African nations start experiencing a population decline, they will react just like Eastern European countries: start offering incentives to reproduce. And off we go again.

Traditionally, the "Ultimate Environmentalist" would want to minimize humanity's impact on the planet. Therefore, not only would he not have children, but he would also create a create a virus that sterilized humans. Our population would collapse and the happy environmentalist leave the whole planet to the rest of the species. And in 5 billion years, the sun would run out of gas and no matter what life there is on Earth will die at that point will die.

That's why I don't really get too worked up about all this stuff. :)

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