World Population Awareness

News Digest

April 23, 2018

Why the Standard Model of Future Energy Supply Doesn't Work

April 4, 2018, Our Finite World

The world economy is much more dependent on a growing energy supply than most analysts have ever understood. We humans aren't really in charge; the laws of physics ultimately determine what happens. The number one need of the world economy is rising per capita energy consumption. In order to maintain economic growth, the price of energy services needs to fall as a percentage of GDP. The system will try to rebalance to the least expensive cost of energy production using globalization and other techniques. When this is no longer possible, the current world economic system is likely to fail. Peak Oilers seem to represent the most prevalent view on future oil and total energy supply. This view assumes future fossil fuel supply is determined by the resources in the ground and the technology available for extraction. As fossil fuels are depleted prices are assumed to rise, allowing more expensive technology for extraction. As costs rise, substitutes would come along. Peak Oil models assume that far more fossil fuels are extractable than is likely to really be the case. Optimists (oil companies, politicians, government agencies) assume even higher extraction of fossil fuels than is reasonable. The result is considerable concern about climate change. Those concerned about climate change seem to think that it is up to humans to decide how much energy resources we will use. They think we can easily cut back, if we want to. Using less is not a solution. Prices of commodities would plunge even farther below the cost of production. The economic system would experience a far worse recession than the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Some governments would fail. The spiral might permanently be downward. In the authors view, Peak Oilers were correct about energy supplies eventually becoming a problem. But they were wrong about how the problem can be expected to play out.

Peak Oilers: •Problem is oil •Running out is issue •High prices will occur •Wind, solar are good substitutes •Easy to reduce usage
Real Situation •Real problem is total energy •Energy per capita needs to rise •Prices fall too low •Wind and solar have little value •Collapse occurs if we use less
Our economic model of supply and demand is too simplistic. It does not work when we are approaching the limits of whatever resource that we are modeling. The base model in the 1972 book The Limits to Growth seems to present a fairly accurate timeline regarding when energy limits might hit. The indications are that the limits will happen about now. Peak Oilers, who base their EROEI model on the Limits to Growth model, do not understand why things are not happening as predicted in the model. The Limits to Growth model does not consider problems such as how debt might be repaid with interest if the economy is shrinking, or how pension payments would fare in a shrinking economy. The model is based on the assumption that our problem is only inadequate supply, not economic problems that indirectly result from short supply. If energy is the item that is in scarce supply as we approach limits, it can affect both quantity and price. Lack of energy supply at an inexpensive enough price can reduce both the quantity of the goods produced and the wages of workers. For example, distributors of goods in the United States may choose to buy imported goods from China or India to work around the problem of too high a cost of production (including energy costs). The resulting competition with low-wage countries reduces the wages of many workers, especially those with low skill levels and those just finishing their educations. With such low wages, workers cannot afford to buy as many cars, motorcycles, and other goods that use energy products. The lack of demand from these workers indirectly brings down the prices of commodities of all kinds, including oil. In fact, prices can fall below the cost of production for extended periods. This has happened since 2014 for many energy products, including oil. Complexity explains why the economy is still going strong. Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov examined eight agricultural economies that collapsed. The author has prepared a chart showing the average approximate timing of the eight collapses, and the population growth pattern that seemed to occur. The Turchin and Nefedov study said that, when a new resource became available (for example, land available after cutting down trees, or a new discovery of improved food yields because of irrigation), the population grew rapidly until the population reached the carrying capacity of the land with the new resource. The carrying capacity would reflect the energy resources that were easily available: land for farming and biomass that could be harvested and burned. As limits were reached, population growth tended to plateau. The plateau would tend to come when the area could only support its existing population, without adding some sort of complexity to try to produce more goods and services using the existing energy resources. Joseph Tainter, in The Collapse of Complex Societies, tells us that by adding things like improved technology, larger businesses and expanded government functions, it is possible to increase the output of the economy over what initially seemed to be available. However, a) it eventually costs more to add technology than its benefit is worth, and b) growing technology replaces jobs or a disproportionate share of the jobs may be very low-paying. Things that contribute to the collapse of economies: Governments cannot collect sufficient taxes, because as wage disparity grows, many workers are increasingly impoverished and can barely support themselves. The slow economic growth rate makes it difficult to repay debt with interest. Investments in new businesses don't pay enough to make them worthwhile. The health of the lower-paid workers deteriorates, at least partly because of poorer nutrition. They tend to catch diseases more easily, and epidemics spread farther. Prices of essential goods may fall below the cost of production because the lower-paid workers cannot afford to buy very many goods and services and that means the price of commodities used in creating these goods and services falls. If the economy is operating near its capacity, it has less reserves and therefore less resilience against things like temporary variability in climate, or a neighboring country that suddenly has a stronger army. Using energy used for food as an example: if the only energy need of humans were food, we would expect human per capita energy consumption to be flat. However humans made it easier to get nourishment from plants and animals when they learned to burn biomass and use it for many purposes (cooking food to get more energy value, scaring away predators and catching prey, expanding the range of humans to colder climates). With today's huge population, maintaining humans' prior advantage requires a surprising amount of energy supplies, in addition to food energy. Wages play an important part of the economy. Human labor represents only part of the economy. Between 1940 and 1970, when oil prices were low, and oil was in abundant supply, wages as a percentage of GDP were fairly flat. The big drop in the ratio of wages to GDP started after 1970, when oil prices were higher. To work around the problem of higher oil prices, the economy has become more complex: businesses and governments have grown; international trade has become more important; debt and the financial system have taken on a greater role. If, over the long term, wages have been falling as a percentage of GDP, then the remainder of the economy is growing even faster. Government is growing. The size of businesses and the amount of technology used by those businesses, is increasing. All of these things need to be supported, indirectly, by energy products. For these reasons, energy consumption needs to grow faster than population, even if technology is making individual processes more efficient. Since 1820 there are two flat spots in per capita energy consumption. The 1920-1940 Flat Period was definitely a period of "not enough energy to go around." The Great Depression of the 1930s was a time of little GDP growth and great wage disparity. World War I and World War II (coming immediately before and immediately after the 1920-1940 period) are likely related to energy. The 1980-2000 Flat Period represents a time when the US and Europe both intentionally reduced their oil consumption because it was feared that oil would be in short supply in the future. This was a period that required huge debt growth to add a huge amount of complexity. Consequently wages fell as a percentage of GDP. It is doubtful this pattern could be repeated again, without serious economic problems occurring. During that same time the Soviet Union collapsed (1991) following several years of low oil prices and reduction of revenue. Oil exporters are again encountering the issue of inadequate tax revenue, as a result of low oil prices since 2014. Although we don't think of debt as a promise of future energy consumption, debt can only be redeemed (through a financial transaction) for future goods and services. Making these future goods and services will require energy consumption. The same principle applies to asset prices of all kinds: prices of shares of stock, home prices, land prices, and pension values. The cost of doing business must keep falling so that businesses can add improvements to their production, such as more or better tools, which will make the workers ever more productive, which gives them rising wages, so that workers can buy more and more goods and services. In this way, demand continues to rise, allowing the economy to keep growing. Thus one essential part of the economic growth system seems to be an ever-falling price of energy services, where energy services are defined as the cost of energy, plus whatever efficiency savings are available that make the cost of energy services less expensive. However, even though the prices of energy services do seem to keep falling, the cost of providing these services is not falling. Energy prices seem to have fallen below the cost of production for practically every type of energy in recent years. This situation is not sustainable; it can be expected to lead to the collapse of the system. A bicycle needs to be traveling fast enough, or it will fall over. If the growth rate of the economy is not fast enough, the danger is that the economy will collapse. Reported world GDP growth rates in recent years are likely somewhat overstated for several reasons. 1. World GDP is derived from a weighting of each country's reported GDP. One approach to weighting gives disproportionate influence to China, India, and other developing countries. 2. The use of Quantitative Easing and of higher government debt temporarily inflates the quantity of goods and services an economy can make. 3. Artificially low energy prices give a boost to oil importing counties. They also keep the prices of goods and services artificially low, compared to wages. These artificially low energy prices cannot continue without the failure of governments of oil exporters, and without businesses producing energy products collapsing. 4. Whether or not the economy can continue operating is determined by the economy itself, because the economy is a self-organized system. Its continued operation doesn't depend on published statistics of varying quality. Instead of "Peak Oil", researchers studying oil limits found a special case of a phenomenon that tends to lead to collapse, namely, conditions that lead to energy consumption per capita that is not rising rapidly enough. Such conditions can occur in many different ways, such as these: Population rises to a point where it is hard to keep energy consumption per capita rising. This seems to be a major problem in many historical collapses. Collapse indirectly comes from diminishing returns in energy extraction. The standard workaround for diminishing returns is growing use of complexity (including technology). This tends to encourage the non-wage portions of the economy to grow. Adding complexity becomes increasingly expensive for the benefit obtained. Ultimately, wage disparity and falling commodity prices become a problem, and the system collapses. Random fluctuations in climate occur. An economy collapses because it doesn't have the reserves to respond to such random fluctuations. Peak Oil researchers expected that prices would rise near limits, when it is increasingly clear that this cannot be true. The world has been struggling with low prices for many commodities since 2014. Prices now are temporarily less low, but they still are not high enough to allow adequate tax revenue for oil exporting countries. The Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) Model of Prof. Charles Hall depended on the thinking of the day: it was the energy consumption that was easy to count that mattered. The catch is that it is total energy consumption that matters, not easily counted energy consumption. In a networked economy, there is a huge amount of energy consumption that cannot easily be counted: the energy consumption to build and operate schools, roads, health care systems, and governments; the energy consumption required to maintain a system that repays debt with interest; the energy consumption that allows governments to collect significant taxes on exported oil and other goods. The standard EROEI method assumes the energy cost of each of these is zero. Typically, wages of workers are not considered either. There is also a problem with counting different types of energy inputs and outputs. Although our economic system assigns different dollar values to different qualities of energy, in the EROEI method, certain categories that are hard to count are zeroed out completely. The ones that can be counted are counted as equal, regardless of quality. For example, intermittent electricity is treated as equivalent to high quality, dispatchable electricity. The EROEI model would be helpful in comparing one oil well to a nearby oil well. So, the model seemed to distinguish energy types that were higher cost, because of resource usage, especially for very similar energy types. Also if the problem were running out of fossil fuels, the model would allow the system to optimize the use of the limited fossil fuels that seemed to be available, based on the energy types with highest EROEIs. This would seem to make best use of the fossil fuel supply available. There are corrections to the EROEI method that might allow it to work in the manner that it should. The catch is that these corrections seem to show wind and solar not to be solutions to our problems. In fact, the system is so integrated, and our need for rising energy consumption per capita so great, that it is doubtful that any substitute for fossil fuels can really be a solution. Professor Hall observed that if a fish had to swim too far to get food, it could not use very much of the food's energy to catch the food, because most of its energy was needed for everyday metabolism and reproduction. A fish would typically need an EROEI of at least 10:1 for catching its prey, if it expected to have enough energy left to cover its full metabolic and reproductive needs, plus the energy required to catch its prey. It would not make sense to call any energy in excess of an EROEI of 1:1 "net energy," because it makes no contribution to covering a fish's metabolic or reproduction activities. [The same applies to humans, who have made things much more complex]. In addition, the required average EROEI (to match what the economy can afford to pay for) needs to rise over time. Thus, if the required average EROEI is 10:1 now, it might be 11:1 later, simply because the increasingly complex world economy needs energy services that are becoming ever less expensive. The story, "Higher energy prices will work in the future" is simply a myth, created by economists who do not understand how the economy really operates, considering all of the feedbacks involved. In inflation-adjusted terms, the price of energy services needs to keep falling as a percentage of GDP, to keep the system operating. Some suitable minimum EROEI ratio for the economy needs to be determined --probably about 10:1 -- to incorporate the large share of energy consumption that is missing from the economy. In the case of intermittent renewables, if the purpose the role of wind or solar in a particular situation is to replace electricity (as is generally the case), then sufficient buffering must be provided in the model. Adding buffering will generally substantially reduce the EROEIs of intermittent electricity types. This adjustment makes it clear that there is much less benefit of wind and solar. If the purpose of the intermittent electricity is only to replace fuel (such as a proposed new Saudi solar installation), then there is no need for buffering in the calculation. Too often, wind or solar is added to the system in a way that overlooks the real cost of buffering. Coal and nuclear electricity production find themselves with the unpaid job of providing buffering services for wind and solar. The net impact of adding intermittent renewables is that they push necessary backup power out of business. Biomass cannot be used heavily because the world's ecosystems depend on biomass; we are already using more than our share. Intermittent renewables such as wind and solar have their own high energy cost, but it is hard to count. They depend on international trade to make and repair the devices. They depend on debt for financing. They are really only part of the fossil fuel system, contrary to what the name "renewables” would suggest. doclink

Chris Darwin Would Really Love it If You'd Eat Less Meat: An Exclusive Interview with Charles Darwin's Great-Great-Grandson

April 12, 2018, AlterNet   By: Matthew Ponsford

Chris Darwin is a Conservationist who claims that "we're living in a car crash moment of natural catastrophes - with climate disasters meeting mass extinctions and human hunger on an unimaginable scale." But, at the same time, he believes that it is not too late to turn things around. Darwin is the great-great grandson of naturalist Charles Darwin.

Recently Darwin was interviewed by Matthew Ponsford, a London-based journalist and producer.

Darwin has devoted himself to the cause by building nature reserves, fighting the extinction of species, and running the Darwin Challenge app (allows people to count their meat free days). He is hopeful that the leaders in the next generation will be inspired by his and others' efforts to "ride to the rescue" and save us from disaster.

According to Darwin, life on Earth has undergone five mass extinction periods in the last four billion years. The dinosaurs dying out 65 million years ago is the most well known. Darwin believes we are now in the middle of the sixth great mass extinction on our planet. According to him the cause is the destruction of natural resources. About 74% of this destruction on land is caused by the livestock industry. Overfishing is the biggest concern offshore.

He says there's a whole lot of train wrecks simultaneously happening: climate change, destruction of the world's ecosystems, the number of people with chronic malnutrition, topsoil loss, or the "two billion people about to arrive on our little, tiny, moist lump of rock spinning through the desert of space."

Darwin doesn't believe that vegetarianism is the only answer. He thinks the remedy for habitat destruction lies in the population restricting themselves to a maximum of three meat days of reasonable portions a week.

Darwin also opined on the ironic concern of many for animal welfare. Why aren't the same rules applied to all animals? For instance it is considered okay by many to string up chickens, slit their throats, and let them bleed out, but it is not okay to do the same to a dog or cat. He also points out that the chicken industry consumes a huge amount of the world's grain, which could and should be utilized by starving children. [3.1 million children according to the World Food Programme https://www.wfp.org/stories/10-facts-about-hunger.] He surmises that this is because human psychology is often blind to things it doesn't want to see.

On the subject of overpopulation, he believes that every concern about the environment is tied to it. The key to solving the problem, he says, is women's education. "If you educate women to have a life beyond raising children, they will have fewer children.”

Darwin's greatest fear is the mess that we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. Looking for another planet is not the answer because we are nowhere near viable transportation. If nothing changes, he predicts that, as a results of society's present lifestyle, our kids are going to have a hard time, and our grandchildren will inherit an even worse set of circumstances to deal with. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Education has been largely underplayed. Without it there will be fewer users of contraception.

Are We on Track to Create a Sustainable World by 2050?

April 4, 2018, Eco-Business   By: Robin Hicks

Five years ago, Jonathan Porritt, co-founder and director of Forum for the Future, published "The World We Made", a book in which he speculated that it was possible to achieve a sustainable world by 2050 "if humanity made the right choices." Porritt predicted that by that time damaging the environment would be a crime, malaria would be wiped out, and the world would drop its consumption of oil from 96 barrels a day to 4 million.

Porritt was recently interviewed to review progress made so far.

While there have been some favorable changes in the past five years, Porritt is calling the progress a "mixed picture." The shift to a circular economy, more wide-spread use of electric vehicles, and the Pope becoming a supporter of sustainability have pushed things in the right direction, according to Porritt. There are, however, many unaddressed areas of concern.

Porritt is first to blame the United States. President Trump's advocacy for coal, the uptick in oil production, a stall in the push for regenerative agriculture, and American diets that are heavy in processed foods are things that are currently running counter to Porritts prediction.

Among Porritt's biggest worries is excessive meat consumption by all. Staggering amounts of land are being used to grow the food needed to feed the livestock that are slaughtered for human consumption. The livestock and dairy industries are contributing to climate change more than energy production.

Another area of concern is the widespread use of plastics. Research in the past five years has found a negative impact of microbeads and microplastic. Companies involved in plastic packaging are looking for alternatives or ways to use less plastic.

Porritt also touches upon the coal consumption in Indonesia and Vietnam. He believes that is unfair to expect these countries to remain poor and they should not be judged or blamed for using fossil fuels on their way to industrialization. However he believes that these countries are short sighted, as solar energy is more affordable than ever.

Much of the interview centered around Porritt's position as an advisor to the palm oil company Sime Darby, and their efforts to get to 100% sustainable palm oil. Porritt would like to see more value placed on sustainable products in the Western markets. While many (especially in Europe) want to demonise palm oil and even ban it, Porritt believes that they should instead focus on the sustainability of a product.

When asked about the role of religions in the sustainability cause, Porritt opined that a valuable opportunity exists in a faith-based approach. Many religions preach sustainability through personal responsibility and a commitment to protect the environment, a creation of God.

According the Porritt, the main difficulty that still exists between sustainability and religious tenets are views on family planning and abortion. For example the Catholic church's views on family planning. Porrit had visited a refuge for women who have had illegal abortions in the Philippines. It was shocking to see the impact that the Catholic church's opposition to contraception and abortion has had on tens of thousands of women, who visit backstreet clinics for operations.

Even though many challenges still exist, Porritt is hopeful that sustainability can still be accomplished. doclink

Analysis of China's One-Child Policy Sparks Uproar

October 18, 2017, Science magazine   By: Mara Hvistendahl

A 2017 paper by Daniel Goodkind, an analyst at the U.S. Census Bureau, has sparked renewed debate over the effectiveness of China's one-child policy. Chinese officials have long claimed that the one-child policy, in effect from 1980-2016, averted some 400 million births. Many scholars have contested that number, however Goodkind contended that the figure may have merit.

When China adopted the one-child policy, some scholars were impressed by the potential for rapid fertility decline. By the mid-1980s however, demographers begun to condemn forced abortions and other concerns they had regarding the policy.

China's National Population and Family Planning Commission in the 1990s estimated what fertility might have been without the policy, by simply extending the trajectory of fertility decline between 1950 and 1970 to the following decades, arriving at a crude birth rate of 28.4 per 1000 people by 1998. They compared this with China's actual birth rate that year, 15.6 per 1000 people, and projected how many more babies would have been born.

However, in 2013 three demographers (Wang Feng, Cai Young, and Gu Baochang) compared China's birth rate to the fertility decline in 16 developing countries that started with similar birth rates as China in 1970. In those countries the birth rate naturally fell to an average of 22 per 100 by 1998, far below the China commission's estimate of 28.4.

Goodkind contends that that birth planning policies implemented after 1970 avoided adding between 360 million and 520 million to China's population. Goodkind also extrapolated from countries that experienced more decline However, he also theorized that the birth rate in China would have jumped from 2.8 in 1979 to 4.0 in 1980 to account for china lowering the marriage age and parents making up for lost childbearing from previous years, among other factors. He also concluded that, in the absence of birth regulations, the average Chinese woman would have had two children since 1990.

Some scholars have said Goodkind's numbers don't add up and his conclusion do not adequately parse the effects of China's dramatic socioeconomic changes in the past 40 years. doclink

A Male Contraceptive Pill Could Become Reality Using the Poison Ouabain

How a rare poison could help bring the first male birth control pill to market
February 5, 2018, Quartz   By: Gunda Georg, Jon Hawkinson, Shameem Syeda

Ouabain - a plant extract that African warriors and hunters traditionally used as a heart-stopping poison on their arrows, shows promise as a non-hormonal contracetive for men that hinders the sperms' ability to move or swim effectively.

While the birth control pill has been available to women in the United States for nearly six decades-and approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for contraceptive use since 1960 -- an oral contraceptive for men has not yet come to market. The pill has provided women with safe, effective and reversible options for birth control, while options for men have been stuck in a rut.

Men curently have only two forms birth control: condoms or a vasectomy, which account for only 30% of contraception used, while women have 70%.

Vasectomy is an invasive procedure to do that's also difficult and invasive to reverse. A male hormonal birth control pill option is in clinical human trials and likely closer to market, but it has potential side effects, such as weight gain, changes in libido, and lower levels of good cholesterol, which could negatively affect the heart health of users.

For nonhormonal contraception methods work, researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Kansas have homed in on ouabain: a toxic substance produced by two types of African plants, which affects a type of transporter subunit called α4, which is found only in sperm cells. This protein is known to be critical in fertility -- at least in male mice.

Ouabain by itself isn't an option as a contraceptive because of the risk of heart damage. So researches have designed ouabain derivatives - versions of the molecule that are more likely to bind to the α4 protein in sperm than other subunits in heart tissue. Once bound to those cells, it interferes with the sperms' ability to swim-essential to its role in fertilizing an egg.

Because the α4 transporter is found only on mature sperm cells, the contraceptive effect should be reversible -- sperm cells produced after stopping the treatment presumably won't be affected. Ouabain may also offer men a birth control pill option with fewer systemic side effects than hormonal options.

This new compound showed no toxicity in rats. The next steps are to test the effectiveness as an actual contraceptive in animals, then human clinical trials within five years.

Reversible, effective male birth control is within sight. World Health Organization numbers suggest that reducing sperm motility by 50% or less is sufficient to temporarily make a man infertile. Our ongoing research brings us one step closer to expanding the options for male birth control, providing the world's 7.6 billion people with a much-needed option for safe and reversible contraception. doclink

After a Year of Trump Policies, Population Institute's Report Card on Reproductive Health/Rights for 2017 Lowers Overall U.S. Grade to a "D-"

18 States Get Failing Grade Amid Attacks on Family Planning and Birth Control
February 15, 2018, PR Newswire

For 2017, the overall grade on U.S. reproductive health and rights assigned by the Population Institute fell from a "D" to a "D-." 18 states got a failing grade. Twenty-two states received a B- or higher in 2017. Eleven states (California, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) received an "A" in 2017. But 27 states received a "D" or lower. 18 of those states received a failing grade ("F"), including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute said: "The United States is in danger of becoming, in effect, the Divided States of Reproductive Health and Rights."

The Trump budget proposal unveiled this week signals worse attacks to come. It would eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, invest in ineffective abstinence-only education programs, and block patients from seeing their preferred health care provider, Planned Parenthood. doclink

Want to Stop Climate Change? Educate Girls and Give Them Birth Control

February 18, 2018, WIRED   By: Robin George Andrews

Last year a coalition of scientists, economists, policymakers, researchers, and business people published Project Drawdown, a compendium of ways to prevent carbon dioxide from escaping skywards. Drawing from a plethora of peer-reviewed research, the document ranks 80 practical, mitigating measures-along with 20 near-future concepts-that could push back the oncoming storm.

Ranked in order of carbon emissions locked down by 2050, a moderate expansion of solar farms was ranked #8, onshore wind turbines ranked # 2, and nuclear power (# 20), increasing the number of people on plant-rich diets (# 4) and using electric vehicles (# 26).

Suprisingly, the top spot went to managing refrigerants like HFCs, which are incredibly effective at trapping heat within our atmosphere.

Even more surprising, two lesser-known solutions also made this most practical of lists: the education of girls ranked #6 and family planning ranked #7).

Getting more girls into school, and giving them a quality education, has a series of profound, cascading effects: reduced incidence of disease, higher life expectancies, more economic prosperity, fewer forced marriages, and fewer children. Better educational access and attainment not only equips women with the skills to deal with the antagonizing effects of climate change, but it gives them influence over how their communities militate against it.

Poverty, along with community traditions, tends to hold back girls from education while boys education are prioritized.

Then there's family planning. The planet is overpopulated, and the demands of its citizens greatly exceed the natural resources provided by our environment.

Contraception for many of the women across the world is either not available, not affordable, or social and/or religious motives ensure that it's banned or heavily restricted. As a consequence, the world's population will rise rapidly, consume ever more resources, and power its ambitions using fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.

The education of girls and family planning can be considered as a single issue involving the empowerment of women in communities across the world. Drawdown calculated that, by taking steps toward universal education and investing in family planning in developing nations, the world could eliminate 120 billion tons of emissions by 2050. That's roughly 10 years' worth of China's annual emissions as of 2014, and it's all because the world's population won't rise quite so rapidly.

Project Drawdown isn't the only group that has recently tied population growth to climate change. A study published last summer also found that having just one fewer child is a far more effective way for individuals in the developed world to shrink their carbon footprint than, say, recycling or eating less meat. For women in wealthy countries, these decisions are often freely made, and fertility rates in those countries are already fairly low. In low-income countries, such individual agency - not to mention contraception - is frequently absent, and fertility rates remain high.

Just as policymakers, climate advocates, and science communicators should pay attention to Drawdown's findings, individuals should also do what they can to make sure such a solution comes to pass. Non-government organizations, like Hand In Hand International, Girls Not Brides, and the Malala Fund aren't just uplifting women, but they're helping to save the planet too, and they deserve support.

It's a grim assessment of civilization that, in 2018, humans are still grappling with gender equality. The world would clearly benefit if women were on par with men in every sector of society. doclink

Karen Gaia says: "According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, by closing an annual financing gap of $39 billion, universal education in low- and lower-middle-income countries can be achieved. It could result in 59.6 gigatons of emissions reduced by 2050. The return on that investment is incalculable." http://www.drawdown.org/solutions/women-and-girls/educating-girls

Does Saving More Lives Lead to Overpopulation?

February 13, 2018, You Tube


There Might Be No Way to Live Comfortably Without Also Ruining the Planet

It's time to face an uncomfortable truth.
February 10, 2018, Sciencealert   By: David Nield

A new study looked at 151 nations and found not a single one was running itself in a sustainable way - ensuring a decent life for its inhabitants without taking more than it gives back in terms of natural resources. Its conclusion was that there are not enough resources for so many people to make it possible for all of us to live comfortably. We need a radical rethink of how we could start living within our means.

The international team of researchers participating in the study has put together a website showing how each country is performing in terms of balancing the well-being of its citizens against figures such as land use, CO2 emissions, and ecological footprint.

Daniel O'Neill from the University of Leeds in the UK said, "We examined international relationships between the sustainability of resource use and the achievement of social goals, and found that basic needs, such as nutrition, sanitation, and the elimination of extreme poverty, could most likely be achieved in all countries without exceeding global environmental limits."

"Unfortunately, the same is not true for other social goals that go beyond basic subsistence such as secondary education and high life satisfaction. Meeting these goals could require a level of resource use that is two to six times the sustainable level."

The quality of life in each country was measured using 11 indicators: life satisfaction, healthy life expectancy, nutrition, sanitation, income, access to energy, education, social support, democratic quality, equality, and employment.

That was then measured against 7 biophysical indicators: land use, CO2 emissions, ecological footprint, phosphorus emissions, material footprint, nitrogen use, and blue water use. Each country's allotted share of these resources was based on its total population..

William Lamb from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Germany said, "Although wealthy nations like the US and UK satisfy the basic needs of their citizens, they do so at a level of resource use that is far beyond what is globally sustainable.

"In contrast, countries that are using resources at a sustainable level, such as Sri Lanka, fail to meet the basic needs of their people."

Among the countries doing the best job are Vietnam, with 6 social thresholds achieved and only 1 biophysical boundary transgressed, and Germany, which hits all 11 social thresholds but has exceeded 5 of the 7 biophysical boundaries.

Other reports suggest we need 1.7 Earths to actually keep up with the rate at which we're plundering what the planet has to offer.

However, the study's authors say we can work towards finding ways to support our population without taking too much out of what the planet can give us. Radical changes are needed to accomplish this, including moving beyond the pursuit of economic growth in wealthy nations, shifting rapidly from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and significantly reducing inequality. doclink

Scientists Just Presented a Sweeping New Estimate of How Much Humans Have Transformed the Planet

December 20, 2017, Washington Post   By: Chris Mooney

Just as buried fossil fuels are filled with carbon from ancient plant and animal life, so too are living trees and vegetation on Earth's surface today. Razing forests or plowing grasslands puts carbon in the atmosphere just like burning fossil fuels does.

Karl-Heinz Erb, the lead study author and a researcher with the Institute of Social Ecology in Austria, and his colleagues estimated that 450 billion tons of carbon - a massive amount - is contained in Earth's current vegetation. If it were to somehow arrive in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it would amount to over a trillion tons of the gas.

They also found that, if humans somehow entirely ceased all uses of land and allowed it to return to its natural state, the Earth's vegetation would contain 916 billion tons of carbon. This would infer that current human use of land is responsible for roughly halving the potential storage of carbon by that land.

The research was published in the journal Nature by Erb and 12 colleagues from institutions in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Deforestation accounted for about half of the loss of potential vegetation. The other half is attributed to the combination of large-scale grazing and other uses of grasslands and forest "management." With the latter, the forests as a whole don't disappear. They were just highly thinned out.

The findings are in line with the thesis of University of Virginia professor William Ruddiman, that humans have been changing the surface of the planet and putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through land use for millennia.

"Our finding is in line with the statement that the impact of humans on the climate was quite considerable also before the industrial times," Erb said.

The research showed that so-called degraded land - not fully deforested but not "natural” or whole, either - must be restored. Tom Lovejoy, an ecologist at George Mason University who was not involved in the work, said "That means the restoration agenda is even more important than previously thought and highlights the enormous amount of degraded land in the world.”

Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center said: "Scenarios that limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees require not only rapid cessation of greenhouse gas emissions but also removal of somewhere between about 100 and 300 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere.” ... "This paper suggests that restoring vegetation around the world could in principle achieve that,” Duffy continued, noting that if all the potential vegetation were restored it would offset some 50 years of global carbon emissions.

Erb was skeptical about the strategy called Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, or BECCS, which it was claimed to remove carbon from the atmosphere. doclink