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If you can’t see it, it can kill you. Propaganda, for instance.

If you can’t see it, it can kill you. Propaganda, for instance.

If you never took this test before, spend two minutes on it before reading the text below. 
The “selective attention” test you see above was developed in 1999 by Christopher Chablis and Daniel Simons.  It shows how people have difficulties in perceiving the most obvious things when they are focused on something that engages their attention. Often, it has been seen as just a sort of psychological parlor game, but it has a deep significance.
This selective attention phenomenon may well describe the current world’s situation. Our aging leaders seem to be so fixated on their manhood – and unsure about it – that they try to reassure themselves by firing missiles around. And, in doing that, they neglect everything else. But it is not just a question of aging leaders, the whole Western world shows evident signs of senility at the societal level. Most of us in our daily life are fixated on details of no relevance and miss the important issues that threaten our very existence.
So, we are missing the gorilla which is climate change, as well as other gorillas which go under different names: ecosystem collapse, resource depletion, overpopulation, widespread pollution, and more. Some of these gorillas are recognized and described by the scientific community, but the public and the leaders alike fail to hear the advice they receive.
Even more worrisome is the possibility that there exist gorillas which not even scientists can detect. As an example, we are daily being exposed to a cocktail or toxic metals resulting from industrial activity. We know that each single metal, alone, doesn’t (normally) reach concentrations in our bodies so high to be deemed as dangerous. But we don’t really know what happens when people have several low concentration metals inside their body – which is the case for most of us.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Paul Ehrlich: ‘Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within decades’

Fifty years after the publication of his controversial book The Population Bomb, biologist Paul Ehrlich warns overpopulation and overconsumption are driving us over the edge

The toxification of the planet with synthetic chemicals may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change, says Ehrlich.
The toxification of the planet with synthetic chemicals may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change, says Ehrlich. Photograph: Linh Pham/Getty Images

Ashattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich.

In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, The Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever.

Prof Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University.
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Prof Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The world’s optimum population is less than two billion people – 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, he argues, and there is an increasing toxification of the entire planet by synthetic chemicals that may be more dangerous to people and wildlife than climate change.

Ehrlich also says an unprecedented redistribution of wealth is needed to end the over-consumption of resources, but “the rich who now run the global system – that hold the annual ‘world destroyer’ meetings in Davos – are unlikely to let it happen”.

The Population Bomb, written with his wife Anne Ehrlich in 1968, predicted “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” in the 1970s – a fate that was avoided by the green revolution in intensive agriculture.

Many details and timings of events were wrong, Paul Ehrlich acknowledges today, but he says the book was correct overall.

“Population growth, along with over-consumption per capita, is driving civilisation over the edge: billions of people are now hungry or micronutrient malnourished, and climate disruption is killing people.”

Ehrlich has been at Stanford University since 1959 and is also president of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, which works “to reduce the threat of a shattering collapse of civilisation”.

“It is a near certainty in the next few decades, and the risk is increasing continually as long as perpetual growth of the human enterprise remains the goal of economic and political systems,” he says. “As I’ve said many times, ‘perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell’.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Overpopulation is a Problem, but Capitalist Overdevelopment is a Bigger Problem

Saral misreads my statement. He says

“Richard writes, “Capitalism, not population is the main driver of planetary ecological collapse … .”. It sounds like an echo of statements from old-Marxist-socialism. It is not serious. Is Richard telling us that, while we are fighting a long-drawn-out battle against capitalism in order to overcome it, we can allow the population to continuously grow without risking any further destruction of the environment? Should we then think that a world population of ten billion by 2050 would not be any problem?”

By emphasizing population in bold italics he distorts my meaning. What I said was that “Capitalism, not population is the main driver of planetary collapse. . . ” — that is, the MAIN driver, not the ONLY driver. Though I’ve never written about this topic at length, I’ve never claimed that population growth is no problem at all. Saral’s right that some Marxists claim that the whole problem is capitalism, that there is no population problem, that the human population could grow more or less forever. They’re mostly responding to Malthusians who contend that overpopulation is the whole problem, not capitalism. I understand where they’re coming from. But both approaches seem simplistic to me. Of course overpopulation is a problem, a huge problem. Look around. I live in one of the most crowded pieces of real-estate in the world, in the middle of Manhattan. Sometimes the sidewalks are so full I have to walk along on the street to get by the crowds of people. By any rational measure there are just way too many people here.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

There’s No APP for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss

THERE’S NO APP FOR THAT: TECHNOLOGY AND MORALITY IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE, OVERPOPULATION, AND BIODIVERSITY LOSS


It has become something of a mantra within the sustainability movement that innovations in technology will save the world and all of us in it, but we tend to forget that technology played a big part in getting ourselves into this mess in the first place. In a manifesto released back in August, author Richard Heinberg, who is also the Senior Fellow-in-Residence of the US-Based Post Carbon Institute, explains why technology, which is widely heralded as our saviour, is not the secret sauce to solve all our environmental troubles. He joins us to discuss his arguments in the manifesto which is titled, “There’s No App for That: Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss.”

Why we must talk about population

Reading David Roberts’ recent explanation of why he never writes on overpopulation, I felt compelled to reply. While Roberts made a set of superficially convincing arguments, ultimately he’s wrong not to focus directly on the population pressures we’re facing. Not confronting population head-on is like looking out the window of a plane and realizing you’re about to crash but refusing to tell the other passengers about the impending crash. Instead you spend your remaining moments convincing people that it’s “empowering” to wear their seat belts. That it’s a good for their health to put their laptops away and hold their head between their legs. Sure, you’ll convince some—and those you do convince might be better off—but you’ll convince far fewer as the sense of urgency is gone.Reducing the global population is essential in addressing humanity’s impact on the planet—along with reducing overall consumption (affluence) and the use of unsustainable technologies (all variables in the I = PAT equation). And after the missteps of the Sierra Club and some governments, Roberts can be excused for why he feels it may be smarter to simply address the P in the equation indirectly by focusing on women empowerment and providing good access to family planning (and I would add providing comprehensive sexuality education to all children, as Mona Kaidbey and Robert Engelman and discuss in EarthEd: Rethinking Education on a Changing Planet). But that won’t be enough.

Stabilizing population is urgent. The goal should not simply be to nudge along a little less growth so population stabilizes at 9 billion rather than 9.5 or 10 billion. Instead, we need to make a long term plan to get population back to a manageable range.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Earth Overshoot: How Sustainable is Population Growth?

Earth Overshoot: How Sustainable is Population Growth?

For decades people have been predicting overpopulation would wipe out energy resources if not the entire planet. Every year the population bomb and peak oil crowd have been proven wrong. But how long can the status quo of generating growth by population explosion last?

Every year the population bomb and peak oil crowd have been proven wrong. But how long can the status quo of generating growth by population explosion last?

Reader Rick Mills at Ahead of the Herd addresses the subject in a guest blog that first appeared on his blog as Earth Overshoot Day.

Earth Overshoot Day

The second half of the 20th century saw the biggest increase in the world’s population in human history. Our population surged because of:

  • Medical advances lessened the mortality rate in many countries
  • Massive increases in agricultural productivity caused by the “Green Revolution”

The global death rate has dropped almost continuously since the start of the industrial revolution – personal hygiene, improved methods of sanitation and the development of antibiotics all played a major role.

Green Revolution

The term Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfers that happened between the 1940s and the late 1970s.

The initiatives involved:

  • Development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains
  • Expansion of irrigation infrastructure
  • Modernization of management techniques
  • Mechanization
  • Distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers

Tractors with gasoline powered internal combustion engines (versus steam) became the norm in the 1920s after Henry Ford developed his Fordson in 1917 – the first mass-produced tractor. This new technology was available only to relatively affluent farmers and it was not until the 1940s tractor use became widespread.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

If Europe had a Sahara Desert, It Would Be a Small Africa. Does the World Really Have an “Overpopulation Problem”?

If Europe had a Sahara Desert, It Would Be a Small Africa. Does the World Really Have an “Overpopulation Problem”?

It is already politically charged to deal with such issues as oil depletion and climate change but, at least, these are physical problems that we can examine using the scientific method. But overpopulation? That’s the recipe for an instant politicized or religious quarrel.

The movie “Population Boom” by Werner Boote is a good example of how politicized and emotional the population question can become. It starts almost immediately with a potshot at the Reverend Malthus, accused to “have predicted a catastrophe for 1860” (something that poor Malthus never said.). Then, it goes on for one hour and a half in the attempt to demonstrate that there is no such a thing as an “overpopulation problem.” Rather, the film’s thesis is that the world is seeing a conspiracy by the elites of the rich countries who are trying to stop the people in poor countries from having as many children as they want so that they could become rich, too, and challenge the world dominance of the present elites.

If we accept the idea that all opinions are legitimate, then also this one should be – even though probably a bit too extreme for most of us. The problem is that the way the film tries to demonstrate its thesis oscillates between the boring and the silly; without ever providing a serious argument. Mainly, we see the filmmaker, Mr. Werner Boote, walking around while carrying an umbrella in places where it never seems to rain. In his ramblings, Mr. Boote interviews people who, frankly, don’t seem to have a clue about overpopulation, except for seeing it as an invention of the evil Western Elites.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Simultaneous Elderly Overpopulation, Youth Depopulation & The Impact on Economic Growth

Simultaneous Elderly Overpopulation, Youth Depopulation & The Impact on Economic Growth

Strangely, the world is suffering from two seemingly opposite trends…overpopulation and depopulation in concert.  The overpopulation is due to the increased longevity of elderly lifespans vs. depopulation of young populations due to collapsing birthrates.  The depopulation is among most under 25yr old populations (except Africa) and among many under 45yr old populations.
So, the old are living decades longer than a generation ago but their adult children are having far fewer children.  The economics of this is a complete game changer and is unlike any time previously in the history of mankind.  None of the models ever accounted for a shrinking young population absent income, savings, or job opportunity vs. massive growth in the old with a vast majority reliant on government programs in their generally underfunded retirements (apart from a minority of retirees who are wildly “overfunded”).  There are literally hundreds of reasons for the longer lifespans and lower birthrates…but that’s for another day.  This is simply a look at what is and what is likely to be absent a goal-seeked happy ending.

In a short yet economically valid manner, every person is a unit of consumption.  The greater the number of people and the greater the purchasing power, the greater the growth in consumption.  So, if one wanted to gauge economic growth, (growth in consumption driving economic growth), multiply the annual change in population by purchasing power (wages, savings) per capita.  Regarding wage growth, I hold wages flat as from a consumption standpoint, wage growth is basically offset by inflation.  Of course, there is another lever beyond this which central banks are feverishly torqueing; substituting the lower interest rates of ZIRP and NIRP to boost consumption from a flagging base of population growth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why did the environmental movement drop the issue of overpopulation?

Why did the environmental movement drop the issue of overpopulation?

[This is most of the 27 page report. Beck and Kolankiewicz have written this excellent paper explaining why the environmental movement abandoned the goal of keeping population within the carrying capacity of U.S. resources. Systems ecologists such as Paul Erlich, David Pimentel and others estimate the U.S. can support about 100 million people without fossil fuels. That was the population during the Great Depression, when 1 in 4 Americans were farmers, yet still many people were hungry (hence “The Grapes of Wrath”. Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com ]

The years surrounding 1970 marked the coming of age of the modern environmental movement. As that movement enters its fourth decade, perhaps the most striking change is the virtual abandonment by national environmental groups of U.S. population stabilization as an actively pursued goal.

Population Issues and the 1970-Era Environmental Movement

How did the American environmental movement change so radically?

Around 1970, U.S. population and environmental issues were widely and publicly linked. In environmental “teach-ins” across America, college students of the time heard repetitious proclamations on the necessity of stopping U.S. population growth in order to reach environmental goals; and the most public of reasons for engaging population issues was to save the environment. The nation’s best-known population group, Zero Population Growth (ZPG)-founded by biologists concerned about the catastrophic impacts of ever more human beings on the biosphere-was outspokenly also an environmental group. And many of the nation’s largest environmental groups had or were considering “population control” as major planks of their environmental prescriptions for America.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Unnatural Balance: How Food Waste Impacts World’s Wildlife

Unnatural Balance: How Food Waste Impacts World’s Wildlife

New research indicates that the food discarded in landfills and at sea is having a profound effect on wildlife populations and fisheries. But removing that food waste creates its own ecological challenges. 


The world wastes more than $750 billion worth of food every year — 1.6 billion tons of food left in farm fields, sent to landfills, or otherwise scattered across the countryside, plus another seven million tons of fishery discards at sea. That waste has gotten a lot of attention lately, mostly in terms of human hunger.

Hardly anyone talks about what all that food waste is doing to wildlife. But a growing body of evidence suggests that our casual attitude about waste may be reshaping the way the natural world functions across much of the planet, inadvertently subsidizing some opportunistic predators and thus contributing to the decline of other species, including some that are threatened or endangered.

Wikimedia Commons
Discarded food can lead to overpopulation of seagulls and other animals, which can affect other wildlife populations.

new study in the journal Biological Conservation looks, for instance, at California’s Monterey Bay, where the threatened steelhead trout population has declined by 80 to 90 percent over the past century. Efforts to restore the species along the Pacific Coast have focused on major initiatives like the recent demolition of a dam that had blocked access to critical steelhead breeding grounds on the Carmel River, which empties into Monterey Bay.

But a team of co-authors led by Ann-Marie Osterback, a marine ecologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz, suspects that garbage and fishery discards might also play an underrated part in the problem. The hypothesis is that local food wastes inadvertently subsidize Western gulls in the Monterrey Bay area, and these gulls in turn prey on the juvenile steelhead trout.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Left should embrace degrowth

The Left should embrace degrowth

Stop sign and poppy [Related Image]
Only if we stop the cycle of endless growth will our planet prosper, argue Degrowthers. Jenny Downing under a Creative Commons Licence

Degrowth is a frontal attack on the ideology of economic growth. Some call it a critique: a slogan or a ‘missile word’. Others talk of the ‘theory of’ – or the ‘literature on’ – degrowth; or of degrowth policies’. Many see themselves as the ‘degrowth movement’ or claim they live ‘the degrowth way’. What is degrowth and where did it come from?

Origins

Intellectually, the origins of degrowth are found in the Continental écologie politique of the 1970s. Andre Gorz spoke of ‘décroissance’ in 1972, questioning the compatibility of capitalism with earth’s balance ‘for which … degrowth of material production is a necessary condition’. Unless we consider ‘equality without growth’, Gorz argued, we reduce socialism to nothing but ‘the continuation of capitalism by other means – an extension of middle-class values, lifestyles and social patterns’.

‘Demain la décroissance’ (‘tomorrow, degrowth’) was the title of a 1979 translated collection of essays of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, a Romanian émigré teaching in the US and a proto ecological economist who argued that economic growth accelerates entropy. These were the times of the oil crisis and the Club of Rome. For continental ‘red-green’ thinkers, however, the question of limits to growth was first and foremost a political one. Unlike Malthusian concerns with resource depletion, overpopulation and collapse of the system, theirs was a desire for pulling the emergency brake on the train of capitalism, or, to quote Ursula Le Guin, ‘put a pig in the tracks of a one-way future consisting only of growth’.

The slogan ‘décroissance’ was revived in the early 2000s by activists in the city of Lyon in direct actions against mega-infrastructures and advertising. Serge Latouche, a professor of economic anthropology and vocal critic of development programmes in Africa, popularized it with his books, calling for an ‘End to sustainable development’ and ‘a long life to convivial degrowth’.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Humans Cause Mass Extinctions

How Humans Cause Mass Extinctions

STANFORD – There is no doubt that Earth is undergoing the sixth mass extinction in its history – the first since the cataclysm that wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. According to one recent study, species are going extinct between ten and several thousand times faster than they did during stable periods in the planet’s history, and populations within species are vanishing hundreds or thousands of times faster than that. By one estimate, Earth has lost half of its wildlife during the past 40 years. There is also no doubt about the cause: We are it.

We are in the process of killing off our only known companions in the universe, many of them beautiful and all of them intricate and interesting. This is a tragedy, even for those who may not care about the loss of wildlife. The species that are so rapidly disappearing provide human beings with indispensable ecosystem services: regulating the climate, maintaining soil fertility, pollinating crops and defending them from pests, filtering fresh water, and supplying food.

The cause of this great acceleration in the loss of the planet’s biodiversity is clear: rapidly expanding human activity, driven by worsening overpopulation and increasing per capita consumption. We are destroying habitats to make way for farms, pastures, roads, and cities. Our pollution is disrupting the climate and poisoning the land, water, and air. We are transporting invasive organisms around the globe and overharvesting commercially or nutritionally valuable plants and animals.

Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/mass-extinction-human-cause-by-paul-r–ehrlich-and-anne-h–ehrlich-2015-08#piBFQzcd7dq64wae.99

Plenty of trouble: Feeding a climate changed world after peak oil

Plenty of trouble: Feeding a climate changed world after peak oil

Nothing is more precious than balance, stability, and sustainability. Today, we’re hanging by our fingernails to a skyrocket of intense insane change, and it’s the only way of life we’ve ever known.  Joel Bourne has spent his life riding the rocket.  He grew up on a farm, and studied agronomy at college. But sharp changes were causing many farmers to go bankrupt and taking over the family farm would have been extremely risky, so he became a writer for farm magazines.  Later, he was hired by National Geographic, where he has spent most of his career.

In 2008, he was assigned to cover the global food crisis, and this project hurled him into full awareness of the big picture.  The Green Revolution caused food production to skyrocket, and world population doubled in just 40 years.  Then, the revolution fizzled out, whilst population continued to soar.  Demographers have told us to expect another two or three billion for dinner in 2050.  Obviously, this had the makings of an excellent book, so Bourne sat down and wrote The End of Plenty.

The subtitle of his book is “The Race to Feed a Crowded World,” not “The Race to Tackle Overpopulation.”  A growing population thrills the greed community, and a diminishing herd does not. Overpopulation is a problem that can be solved, and will be, either by enlightened self-restraint, by compulsory restraint, or, most likely, by the vigorous housekeeping of Big Mama Nature.  Feeding the current population is thrashing the planet, and feeding even more will worsen everything, but this is our primary objective.  We are, after all, civilized people, and enlightened self-restraint is for primitive savages who live sustainably in roadless paradises.

– See more at: http://transitionvoice.com/2015/06/plenty-of-trouble-feeding-a-climate-changed-world-after-peak-oil/#sthash.8vamboU4.dpuf

 

With ten billion coming, sustainable is not enough

With ten billion coming, sustainable is not enough

Stephen Emmott is a chief techno-wizard at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England.  His brilliant young scientists are doing research in complex natural systems.  Their objective is to invent miracles.  They want to program ordinary cells to perform photosynthesis, so we can produce food from sunlight, without plows and seeds.  Agriculture can’t feed ten billion.  The goal is to delay the onrushing planetary emergency, and push aside annoying obstacles to perpetual growth.

Much of the public seems to be paying little attention to the emergency, if they are aware of it at all.  Biking around the university town where I live, I don’t sense a crisis of overpopulation.  I don’t sense that global carbon emissions have increased 400 percent in my lifetime.  The squirrels, opossums, ducks, and blue jays have not gone extinct.  Life seems normal. Everything is OK.  Right?

A wealth of information can be found online, but many internet factoids are generated by slippery gangsters who accumulate riches by accelerating the planetary emergency.  You see their work hundreds of times every day.  Among their favorite tools are magical rubber stamps that imprint [SUSTAINABLE] with subliminal green ink — [SUSTAINABLE] soil mining, [SUSTAINABLE] forest mining, [SUSTAINABLE] fish mining, [SUSTAINABLE] growth, [SUSTAINABLE] development, and on and on.

Emmott’s clan of brilliant scientists is an oddity.  They do not have the rubber stamp.  They are not wearing choke chains that will be jerked if they express ideas that offend the mighty.  They will not lose their jobs if they conclude that we are in the midst of a planetary emergency.  When thinkers are free to learn without blinders and hobbles, they come to perceive reality as an intense whirlwind of out-of-control juju.  This can be a head-snapping experience.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

OVERdevelopment, OVERpopulation, OVERshoot

OVERdevelopment, OVERpopulation, OVERshoot

William Ryerson’s introduction to the new book OVERdevelopment, OVERpopulation, OVERshoot.

MOST CONVERSATIONS ABOUT POPULATION begin with statistics—demographic data, fertility rates in this or that region, the latest reports on malnutrition, deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change, and so on. Such data, while useful, fails to generate mass concern about the fundamental issue affecting the future of the Earth.

In reality, every discussion about population involves people, the world that our children and grandchildren will live to see and the health of the planet that supports all life. In my roles as president of Population Media Center and CEO of the Population Institute, I spend most of my time in developing countries, where many of my friends and acquaintances are educated and prospering. But I also know individuals who are homeless, unemployed, or hungry. The vast majority of people in these societies, regardless of their current status, do not enjoy a safety net. They live from day to day in hopes that their economic circumstances will improve. Abstract statistics on poverty are irrelevant to families struggling to secure the food, water, and resources needed to sustain a decent life.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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