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A Proposal for a United Nations Framework Convention on Population Growth

Introduction
Recently, an international assembly of scientists from 184 countries endorsed an article published in the journal Bioscience entitled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”. As the warning states, “We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats. By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”Further, this 2016 article published in the Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment presents an instructive discussion of why population growth remains largely unacknowledged as a primary driver behind such threats. And this 2010 article published in The Globalist introduces then dissects ‘Ponzi Demography’, asserting that “the sooner nations reject Ponzi demography and make the needed gradual transition from ever-increasing population growth to population stabilization, the better the prospects for all of humanity and other life on this planet.”

As Population Media Center’s President Bill Ryerson asserts, population is the multiplier of everything else. Such knowledge demands action to protect life on Earth in a compassionate and intentional manner. People are receptive to this inclusive message. It compels us to act together.

I propose the establishment of a United Nations Framework Convention on Population Growth –one akin to the Paris Agreement for climate change with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in pursuit of a sustainable population in every country.

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

China’s Growth Story…Don’t Look For a Happy Ending!

China’s Growth Story…Don’t Look For a Happy Ending!

Many economists suggest China is on the cusp of significant growth in domestic consumer demand as China shifts from exporter to consumer.  These economists postulate that rising domestic demand coupled with continued growth as the global exporter will push both China and the global economy into high gear.  China suggests that it will achieve 6.5% annual GDP growth.  However, I’ll briefly show why none of these outcomes is remotely likely.
Problem #1- China as Consumer:

According to the UN data, China’s 15-40yr/old childbearing population peaked in 2005 and has been rapidly shrinking since.  Since ’05, China’s population capable of producing more Chinese has fallen by 83 million persons or a 14.3% decline.  By 2030, China’s childbearing population will have declined by 157 million or a 27% reduction of those capable of childbirth (no estimate here…this is simply moving the existing population forward in adulthood).  Couple a massive decline in the childbearing population and the ongoing negative birthrate and serious depopulation (particularly among the rural regions) is not only possible but growing more likely.  Minor increases in wages will be no match for the massive declines in the consumer base.

The chart below shows China’s total 15 to 40 year old population (in blue) and the annual change (in red).

As for China’s 40 to 65 year old population, peak annual growth is well in the rear view mirror but one final bump in population growth remains before depopulation ensues.  However, the mild acceleration in growth will be more than offset by the declining 15 to 40yr/olds (chart below).
Simply put, China has seen peak domestic consumption and peak demand.  The impact of large, growing declines in the consumer base are only being masked by massive central monetization and wasteful misallocation of resources.  That misallocation has resulted in China’s massive surge in energy consumption.

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

Humanity Sealed Its Own Fate: 15,000 Scientists Sign A “Doomsday Warning”

Humanity Sealed Its Own Fate: 15,000 Scientists Sign A “Doomsday Warning”

earthquake drought natural disaster

A catastrophic warning about humanity’s impending doom was just signed by 15,000 scientists; they all agree that we’ve already sealed our fate.

The signed letter, which was apparently first written in 1992, claims all of the predictions made by scientists have come true except one. Apart from the hole in the ozone layer, which has now stabilized, every one of the major threats identified in 1992 has worsened.

The prophetic warning letter from 1992 argued human impacts on the natural world were likely to lead to “vast human misery” and a planet that was “irretrievably mutilated.” Climate change, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, animal species extinctions, and uncontrolled human population growth are all threatening mankind’s and the Earth’s future.

It’s been about 25 years since the first doomsday warning letter was signed and scientists are now saying that the Earth is in even more dire shape.  More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries said humans had “unleashed a mass extinction event,the sixth in roughly 540 million years.”

The message, which was posted online and is an update to the original Warning from the Union of Concerned Scientists and around 1,700 signatories delivered in 1992.  The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity was written and spearheaded by the late Henry Kendall, former chair of UCS’s board of directors. But scientists still agree that runaway consumption of natural resources by an exploding population remains the biggest danger facing humankind, say the scientists.

In the more recent doomsday warning, scientists warn that human beings should eat less meat, have fewer kids, consume less, and use green energy to save the planet. In the past 25 years, scientists have pointed out the following:

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

The End is Near…Depopulation is Out of Control…So Buy Stocks (Seriously)

The End is Near…Depopulation is Out of Control…So Buy Stocks (Seriously)

The world economy is premised on a ludicrous idea.  That Asia, then India, and then Africa will continue to drive economic growth.  So as not to turn this article into a book, lets consider this idea focusing on East Asia consisting of China, Japan, North and South Korea, Taiwan, and minor others.  This region consists of 1.6 billion persons or about 22% of earths inhabitants.  However, since 2008, it is this region that is responsible for nearly 100% of the global increase in demand for oil (best proxy available for true economic growth) and having primarily driven global economic growth.  My point in this article is that the growth in this region is entirely a credit driven supernova against collapsing populations which will never be able to fill the 100+ million newly added apartments or pay back the debt incurred to achieve the “growth”.  Contrarily, from an investor standpoint, this weakness is the green light to “invest” as aggressively as possible because as long as central banks exist, they have your back.
Consider, since 2000, China’s debt outstanding has risen something like 14x’s to 17x’s or from about $2 trillion to something between $30 to $35 trillion presently.  As for Japan, who knows Japan’s true debt as Japan’s central bank is buying much or most of the debt and essentially throwing it in a black hole, never to be seen again(…monetization with a capital “M”).
Why the massive debt creation and central bank monetization?  Depopulation with a capital “D”.  First off, consider the collapse in fertility rates for these nations (chart below).  To maintain a constant, zero growth population, the childbearing population needs to produce 2.1 children in order to replace themselves (dashed line, below).  However, as the chart below shows, E. Asian nations have seen negative fertility rates for decades (Japan turning negative in ’74, S. Korea in ’83, China in ’92, and N. Korea in ’96).

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

The Tale of Two America’s…Urban Rise, Rural Demise, Rationale to Hyper-Monetize

The Tale of Two America’s…Urban Rise, Rural Demise, Rationale to Hyper-Monetize

 (The following was written as an outline for a potential book.  To this point no publisher has shown interest and time and funds have run out.)

America is in the midst of an ongoing and accelerating shift in demographics and population growth.  These trends, long in place, are at a tipping point that are simultaneously driving urban economic growth (plus associated asset bubbles) and rural economic declines (plus associated asset collapses).  The spin up and spin down are mutually interconnected, the result of movement in a zero sum game.  But for select regions (and rural America in general), there is a surging quantity of sellers and a dwindling quantity and quality of buyers that will result in the primary asset of most Americans, their home, transitioning from an asset to an outright liability.

Many will point to record stock market valuations as an indicator of positive economic and/or business activity to refute my claims.  Instead, I argue it is the Federal Reserve and federal government policies, in place as a quasi “life support” for the negatively affected regions and rural America at large, that are driving the asset valuation explosions of equities (chart below, representing all stocks publicly traded in the US) and urban housing.  I will outline why the situation in the affected regions will only get worse and thus the Fed believes its hands are tied.  Why any amount of normalization will only induce localized collapses across much of the nation.  The total market capitalization ($ value) of the Wilshire has nearly doubled the acknowledged “bubbles” of 2000 and 2008 and is likely to continue rising further, precisely due to the worsening issues I detail below.

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

Contemplations for a Sunday (unless you can’t get around to it til Monday)

Contemplations for a Sunday (unless you can’t get around to it til Monday)

Some simple themes today…

Population growth, economic growth, and resultant energy consumption are inexorably slowing.  The Federal Reserve knows it can not stop this and is simply slowing the inevitable with interest rate cuts to incent greater consumption via skyrocketing credit/debt (particularly government debt….debt that is undertaken with no intent of ever repaying it and is really just pure monetization).
The chart below highlights that employment among 25-54yr/olds (the foundation of US consumption) ceased growing in ’00.  Once employment among this group ceased growing, total US energy consumption also ceased growing, and accelerating debt was substituted to maintain growth thanks to nearly 40yrs of interest rate cuts.
The impact of the declining rates and rising debt can be seen in the Wilshire 5000 (chart below).  The Wilshire represents all publicly traded US equities radically moving upward with surging US federal debt but inverse to US total energy consumption, jobs creation, and economic activity since ’00.
The driver of the Fed’s federal funds rate was and continues to be the rate of population growth and the growing demand this population growth represents.  The adult population growth rate peaked in ’79 and the federal funds rate peaked in ’80…rates plus population growth have been decelerating/declining together since.
The chart below showing the 0-64yr/old population growth vs. 65+yr/old growth.  The demographic and population situation only continues to get worse.  In fact, it’s unlikely the 0-64yr/old population growth will hit the already low estimates from 2017–>2030 due to the ongoing decline in birth rates and slowing immigration.
What about employment?  Chart below shows total full time jobs growth has slowed to a trickle (net basis from peak to peak) and total energy consumption growth likewise decelerating, peaking in ’05, and now declining.  Federal funds rate moving inversely, all the way to zero.  Finally, Public US Federal debt (w/out Intra-governmental holdings) skyrocketing.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Energy Consumption vs. Core Populations – Trending Down Together

Energy Consumption vs. Core Populations – Trending Down Together

In this article, I want to spend a little time reviewing two of the most relatively reliable data sets, population size/growth and energy consumption/growth.  I’ll compare the total energy consumption of nations / groupings of nations vs. their core (25-54yr/old) employed populations and total core (25-54yr/old) populations.

What’s the point?  We are in the midst of a structural, secular change and policy makers / central bankers insistence that it is just a transitory issue in need of more rate cuts and more credit to ”restart the economy” is absolutely ridiculous.  This is the story of cause (declining population, where it counts) and effect, declining energy consumption and economic activity.  And this is about to really pick up speed to the downside (more on that, China, below).  Plus, we can ponder if real economic “growth” coincident with declining consumption of energy is possible…or is that growth just debt and financialization?  Also keep in mind while viewing the charts and data below, if not for the twenty six years of Federal Reserve (& CB’s worldwide) interest rate cuts incenting all the debt creation, energy consumption would have begun declining long ago.

US-
Below, total US energy consumption (quadrillion BTU’s) vs. core employees.  Correlation?  Causation?  Anyway, just is what it is.  The US consumes 18% of global energy but US total energy consumption has been falling since 2007 and is now back to where it was 17 years ago, in 1999….likewise, the total number of 25-54yr/old employees peaked in ’07 and is now back to 1999 levels.

Below, same as above but added core population through 2025 (UN assumes, perhaps wrongly, continued levels of immigration to achieve that slight population growth from now through 2025).
JAPAN –
Below, core employees vs. total energy consumption.  Japan consumes 3.5% of global energy.  Japan’s total energy consumption peaked in ’06 and is now back to total levels last seen in 1992…and the total number of Japan’s core population now employed is on par with total employed in 1982.

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

The population problem: should the Pope tell people to stop breeding like rabbits?

The population problem: should the Pope tell people to stop breeding like rabbits?

In this post, I argue that overpopulation is a complex problem that has to do with human choices at the level of single families. It is not impossible that such choices will eventually lead to a stabilization of the population at a sustainable level as it has happened in some historical cases, such as in Japan during the Edo period.

The population question arises strong feelings everytime it is mentioned and some people seem to think that, unless something drastic is done to curb population growth, people will reproduce like rabbits, destroying everything else. This position goes often in parallel with criticism to religious leaders and to religions in general, accused of encouraging people to reproduce like rabbits. Or, at least, to hide the fact that people reproduce like rabbits if not prevented to do so in a way or another.

But is it true that people tend to reproduce like rabbits? And would they stop if someone, let’s say the pope, were to tell them to stop? Maybe, but things cannot be so simple. Let me show you an example: Japan during the Edo period.

The population of Japan during the Edo Period (uncorrected data as reported by the bBafuku government). It shows how it is perfectly possible to attain a stable population in an agricultural society, even without “top-down” rules and laws. (data source, see also this link)

Note how the population has remained relatively constant for at least 150 years. It is a fascinating story, discussed in detail in the book “Mabiki: Infanticide and Population Growth in Eastern Japan, 1660–1950” by Fabian Drixler. Here is an illustration from the book:

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

Why did everyone stop talking about Population & Immigration?

Why did everyone stop talking about Population & Immigration?

There is no need to decide whether to stop the population increase or not. There is no need to decide whether the population will be lowered or not. It will, it will! The only thing mankind has to decide is whether to let population decline be done in the old inhumane method that nature has always used, or to invent a new humane method of our own.” Isaac Asimov, 1974.

Unlooked for but swift, we have come on like a swarm of locusts: a wide, thick, darkling cloud settling down like living snowflakes, smothering every stalk, every leaf, eating away every scrap of green down to raw, bare, wasting earth…There are too many men for Earth to harbor. At nearly seven billion we have overshot Earth’s carrying capacity”. Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First.

Population world in billions

1) The Consumption of Wealthy Nations is the problem. Not the Poor.

It’s both, obviously.  Not one or the other.  The famous equation to describe this is I = P x A x T, which translates to Human Impact (I) on the environment =  (P)opulation times (A)ffluence times (T)echnology.

It is certainly true that wealth nations consume too much. The United States uses 7 billion tons of minerals a year. Per capita that’s 47,769 pounds per American: 1400 pounds of copper, 9 tons of phosphate rock, 300 tons of coal, 16 tons of iron ore, 700 tons of stone, sand, and gravel, and so on.

But the poor also have a huge effect on the environment:

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

2016: Oil Limits and the End of the Debt Supercycle

2016: Oil Limits and the End of the Debt Supercycle

  1. Growth in debt
  2. Growth in the economy
  3. Growth in cheap-to-extract energy supplies
  4. Inflation in the cost of producing commodities
  5. Growth in asset prices, such as the price of shares of stock and of farmland
  6. Growth in wages of non-elite workers
  7. Population growth

It looks to me as though this linkage is about to cause a very substantial disruption to the economy, as oil limits, as well as other energy limits, cause a rapid shift from the benevolent version of the economic supercycle to the portion of the economic supercycle reflecting contraction. Many people have talked about Peak Oil, the Limits to Growth, and the Debt Supercycle without realizing that the underlying problem is really the same–the fact the we are reaching the limits of a finite world.

There are actually a number of different kinds of limits to a finite world, all leading toward the rising cost of commodity production. I will discuss these in more detail later. In the past, the contraction phase of the supercycle seems to have been caused primarily by too high population relative to resources. This time, depleting fossil fuels–particularly oil–plays a major role. Other limits contributing to the end of the current debt supercycle include rising pollution and depletion of resources other than fossil fuels.

The problem of reaching limits in a finite world manifests itself in an unexpected way: slowing wage growth for non-elite workers. Lower wages mean that these workers become less able to afford the output of the system. These problems first lead to commodity oversupply and very low commodity prices. Eventually these problems lead to falling asset prices and widespread debt defaults.

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

 

$10 Trillion Investment Needed To Avoid Massive Oil Price Spike Says OPEC

$10 Trillion Investment Needed To Avoid Massive Oil Price Spike Says OPEC

The OPEC published its World Oil Outlook 2015 (WOO) in late December, which struck a much more pessimistic note on the state of oil markets than in the past. On the one hand, OPEC does not see oil prices returning to triple-digit territory within the next 25 years, a strikingly bearish conclusion. The group expects oil prices to rise by an average of about $5 per year over the course of this decade, only reaching $80 per barrel in 2020. From there, it sees oil prices rising slowly, hitting $95 per barrel in 2040.

Long-term projections are notoriously inaccurate, and oil prices are impossible to predict only a few years out, let alone a few decades from now. Priced modeling involves an array of variables, and slight alterations in certain assumptions – such as global GDP or the pace of population growth – can lead to dramatically different conclusions. So the estimates should be taken only as a reference case rather than a serious attempt at predicting crude prices in 25 years. Nevertheless, the conclusion suggests that OPEC believes there will be adequate supply for quite a long time, enough to prevent a return the price spikes seen in recent years.

Related: Top 10 Oil And Gas Stories Of 2015

Part of that has to do with what OPEC sees as a gradual shift towards efficiency and alternatives to oil. The report issued estimates for demand growth five years at a time, with demand decelerating gradually. For example, the world will consume an extra 6.1 million barrels of oil per day between now and 2020. But demand growth slows thereafter: 3.5 mb/d between 2020 and 2025, 3.3 mb/d for 2025 to 2030; 3 mb/d for 2030 to 2035; and finally, 2.5 mb/d for 2035 to 2040.

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

Extinction, the New Environmentalism and the Cancer in the Wilderness

Extinction, the New Environmentalism and the Cancer in the Wilderness

The word is in from the wildlife biologists. Say goodbye in North America to the gray wolf, the cougar, the grizzly bear. They are destined for extinction sometime in the next 40 years. Say goodbye to the Red wolf and the Mexican wolf and the Florida panther. Gone the jaguar, the ocelot, the wood bison, the buffalo, the California condor, the North Atlantic right whale, the Stellar sea lion, the hammerhead shark, the leatherback sea turtle. That’s just North America. Worldwide, the largest and most charismatic animals, the last of the megafauna, our most ecologically important predators and big ungulates, the wildest wild things, will be the first to go in the anthropogenic extinction event of the Holocene Era. The tiger and leopard and the elephant and lion in Africa and Asia. The primates, the great apes, our wild cousins. The polar bears in the Arctic Sea. The shark and killer whale in every ocean. “Extinction is now proceeding thousands of times faster than the production of new species,” biologist E.O. Wilson writes. Between 30 and 50 percent of all known species are expected to go extinct by 2050, if current trends hold. There are five other mass extinction events in the geologic record, stretching back 500 million years. But none were the result of a single species’ overreach.

I’ve found conversation with my biologist sources to be terribly dispiriting. The conversation goes like this: Homo sapiens are out of control, a bacteria boiling in the petri dish; the more of us, demanding more resources, means less space for every other life form; the solution is less of us, consuming fewer resources, but that isn’t happening. It can’t happen.

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

To feed growing cities we need to stop urban sprawl eating up our food supply

New season asparagus from farmland on Melbourne’s city fringe. Matthew Carey

If you’ve eaten any of the new season’s asparagus recently, it probably came from Koo Wee Rup, a small town 60 kilometres to the south east of Melbourne. Koo Wee Rup produces over 90% of Australia’s asparagus. The region has perfect conditions for asparagus growing, and its ancient peaty soils have a reputation for producing some of the best asparagus in the world.

Koo Wee Rup is just one of many food growing areas on the urban fringe of Australia’s state capitals that make an important contribution to the nation’s fresh food supply. The foodbowls on the fringe of cities like Sydney and Melbourne are some of the most highly productive agricultural regions in Australia.

But as these cities expand to accommodate rapidly growing populations, fertile farmland on the city fringe is at risk due to urban sprawl.

Melbourne Foodbowl at 7 million infographicFoodprint Melbourne project

Melbourne’s foodprint

Early findings from a new study of food production on Melbourne’s city fringe highlight the impact that continued urban sprawl could have on the supply of fresh, local foods in Australia’s cities. The Foodprint Melbourne project is investigating the capacity of Melbourne’s city fringe foodbowl to feed the population of Greater Melbourne.

The research explores the capacity of Melbourne’s foodbowl to feed the current population of 4.4 million and the predicted future population of around 7 million in 2050. The project also investigates the city’s “foodprint” – the amount of land, water and energy required to feed the city, as well as associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Early project findings indicate that Melbourne’s foodbowl currently has the capacity to supply a significant proportion of Greater Melbourne’s food needs across a wide variety of foods, including poultry, eggs, red meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables. The city’s foodbowl can supply just over 40% of the food needed to feed Greater Melbourne, including over 80% of the fresh vegetables consumed and around 13% of fruit.

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

One True Measure of Stagnation: Not in the Labor Force

One True Measure of Stagnation: Not in the Labor Force

This is a stark depiction of underlying stagnation: paid work is not being created as population expands.

Heroic efforts are being made to cloak the stagnation of the U.S. economy. One of these is to shift the unemployed work force from the negative-sounding joblesscategory to the benign-sounding Not in the Labor Force (NILF) category.

But re-labeling stagnation does not magically transform a stagnant economy.To get a sense of long-term stagnation, let’s look at the data going back 45 years, to 1977.

NOT IN LABOR FORCE (NILF) 1976 to 2015

I’ve selected data from three representative eras:

— The 20-year period from 1977 to 1997, as this encompasses a variety of macro-economic conditions: five years of stagflation and two back-to-back recessions (1977 – 1982), strong growth from 1983 to 1990, a mild recession in 1991, and growth from 1993 to 1997.

— The period of broad-based expansion from 1982 to 2000

— The period 2000 to 2015, an era characterized by bubbles, post-bubble crises and low-growth “recovery”

In all cases, I list the Not in Labor Force (NILF) data and the population of the U.S.

1977-01-01: 61.491 million NILF  population 220 million

1997-01-01 67.968 million NILF  population 272 million

Population rose 52 million 23.6%

NILF rose 6.477 million 10.5%

1982-07-01 59.838 million NILF (start of boom)  population 232 million

2000-07-01 68.880 million NILF (end of boom) population 282 million

Population rose 50 million 22.4%

NILF rose 9.042 million 15.1%

2000-07-01 68.880 million NILF population 282 million

2015-09-01 94.718 million NILF (“recovery”) population 322 million

Population rose 40 million 14.2%

NILF rose 25.838 million 37.5%

Notice how population growth was 23.6% 1977-1997 while growth of NILF was a mere 10.5% As the population grew, job growth kept NILF to a low rate of expansion. While the population soared by 52 million, only 6.5 million people were added to NILF.

In the golden era of 1982 – 2000, population rose 22.4% while NILF expanded by 15%. Job growth was still strong enough to limit NILF expansion. The population grew by 50 million while NILF expanded by 9 million.

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

Pope’s climate push is ‘raving nonsense’ without population control, says top US scientist

Paul Ehrlich writes in Nature Climate Change that Francis is wrong to fight climate change without also addressing the strain from population growth on resources

One of America’s leading scientists has dismissed as “raving nonsense” the pope’s call for action on climate change – so long as the leader of the world’s 1 billion Catholics rejects the need for population control.

In a commentary in the journal Nature Climate Change, Paul Ehrlich, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, argues that Pope Francis is simply wrong in trying to fight climate change without also addressing the additional strain on global resources from population rise. “That’s raving nonsense,” Ehrlich told the Guardian. “He is right on some things but he is just dead wrong on that.”

The critique in “Society and the Pope’s encyclical”, part of a special package from scientists on the encyclical, marked a rare note of dissent from scientists and campaigners. Many hope that the pope will drive home his call to action on poverty and the environment in his speech to Congress on Thursday.

Ehrlich, in his Nature Climate Change commentary, accuses Francis of a dangerous flaw in his indictment of consumerism and its effects on the poor and the environment. The pope had fallen for the usual clerical “obsession” with contraception and abortion – when he could have instead broken new ground on the Catholic church’s approaches to women’s reproductive rights and family planning.

The broadside exposes some of the difficulties of embracing a figure such as the pope – for those on the left as well as the right.

Conservative allies of the pope, on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, have balked at his denunciation of capitalism and call to action on climate change.

 

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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