JCC A Child's Treasury of Doomsday Scenarios

Discussion in 'Community' started by Jabbadabbado, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Driving to Alaska? For shame!

    You guys should invest heavily in public transport. And put the schools where the kids actually live. Subsidize grocery stores around the corner instead of WalMarts in shopping malls. Then you can ditch that one car. Life is beautiful on a bicycle.
    Jabbadabbado likes this.
  2. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The problem of course is that the various doomsday scenarios which involve population take a world view whereas most people perceive the world through the lense of their surrounding environs. For example i live in a vast country which is rich in mineral resources but has a population which is approximately that of greater London. The world looks to be in great shape for the most part. Once you get out of the cities the overwhelming majority of the countryside in the US and Europe is lush and beautiful.

    The visible and apparent reality of the world just seems to contradict the studies and the conclusions. I have no doubt the science is right it's just that nobody will take the issues seriously until such time as the visible world matches the perception of the world portrayed by the science and by that time it will be too late.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Jan 21, 2013
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    That's definitely true in Chicago. We live next to Lake Michigan and suck our water through a giant straw that sticks more than a mile out into the lake. The Great Lakes–Saint Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement is a very big deal, yet it's hard to get people to take water resource management and conservation seriously. Because we live next to Lake Michigan.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Jan 21, 2013
  4. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    It's because we live in the rich, Western world. Not even a superstorm scares us, because we (mostly) have the facilities and the faculties to handle it. The real ecological disasters occur there where people are poor, live in densely populated areas along badly fortified coastlines, or in creaky houses near fault lines.

    v This didn't happen to us. But it's been happening...

    [IMG]
  5. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Not entirely sure what that chart is meant to signify. Increase in human population > increase in human impact from natural disasters? What kind of natural disasters are reported?

    I would say that this is happening/will increasingly happen in the U.S. Which brings me to:

    [IMG]

    Chapter 4: The End of Cheap Energy

    Human civilization and energy consumption are closely intertwined. Anthropologist Leslie White formulated the relationship most succinctly: "Culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased." Humans evolved for persistence hunting. With enough caloric intake to fuel the process and able to cool their bodies through sweating, prehistoric humans could run their prey to exhaustion. Tool use literally leveraged human energy output for improved hunting ability. Cooking with fire improved the caloric and nutritional content of acquired food. The development of agriculture allowed humans to make more efficient use of solar energy to improve their access to calories. The domestication of draft animals improved our cultural per capita energy, as did our ability to exploit kinetic energy from the flow of water and use wind energy. We learned to burn coal for heat and harnessed coal-fired steam power to drive the industrial revolution and the growth of rail and sea transport. We tapped natural gas for lighting and heating, then both coal and natural gas to heat water to drive steam turbines to generate electricity. We learned to refine oil and invented the internal combustion engine to revolutionize ground and sea transport again. We developed the jet engine for a second revolution in air transport. We developed civilian nuclear power to generate electricity. We began a new revolution in solar and wind power to generate electricity. We experimented with creating biofuels from crops to generate electricity.

    For now, oil, coal, to a lesser extent natural gas, and to an even lesser extent nuclear power keep technological civilization moving. Solar and wind are growing rapidly, but remain rounding errors in the modern energy picture, although wind power is growing significantly, and a few select countries have obtained double digit percentages of wind use for electricity generation.

    Bright spots in the global energy picture include a short-term natural gas glut in North America and the expansion of alternative energy use in western Europe. On the whole, however, the global energy picture remains extremely fragile. Global oil production has remained stagnant for going on eight years, despite a global drilling frenzy. The world is drilling furiously for oil, yet barely enough new oil production is coming online to offset the decline rates of older fields. Oil sand production of ersatz oil is environmentally disastrous, but desperately needed to keep the global supply intact in the face of declines and the small size and marginal productivity of new fields coming online. Consequently, despite the great recession, oil prices rapidly recovered from the crash and have returned to a steady and predictable high.

    Concurrent with the stagnation in the global oil supply, many of the world's oil exporters are places of rapid population growth. Saudi Arabia, another country that drills furiously to try to keep its oil output steady, is facing ever-increasing domestic demand for oil. As domestic demand increases, oil available for export increases. Multiple this phenomenon and we notice a net year over year decline in global available net oil exports. Every year, there is less oil available for world markets. At the same time, demand for oil continues to surge in China and the rest of the developing world. China now needs 6 million barrels of imported oil a day, a quintupling of demand since the 90s. Combine rapid economic growth in the developing world, stagnant economic growth in the developed world with declining net available oil exports, and it's easy to see that the United States and Europe are slowly being priced out of the global oil market. Energy independence really is America's future.

    Consequently, the U.S. has seen year over year decline in available per capita energy. We are driving less, and our oil demand has dropped in the face of sustained high oil prices. We are slowly moving toward a less energy intense economy. Some of that is due to increased efficiency, but more is due to economic stagnation and relative decline. Expressed in terms of White's Law: north American and western European cultures are clearly on the decline. Soon, the world as a whole may hit a similar per capita energy wall. China at its economic peak may come to dominate global oil markets and monopolize available net exports. And that will be the end game. China will be the last nation to dominate the global economy by dominating the oil import market. Oil protectionism will follow as the world's remaining oil producers secure their remaining resources to sustain their own energy futures.

    2008 was in part an oil shock. The next oil shock may be much worse.

    Granted, survival of the species may depend on steering ourselves toward decline. Burning all that remains of the world's oil and coal supplies over the next 50 years will likely guarantee our worst case scenarios for climate change. White's Law may in fact be a trap. The process of burning through a one-time endowment of fossil energy to bid up technological civilization may lead directly to the collapse of technological civilization. One way or the other, we are on a long-term path toward a sustainable future.
  6. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5

    All the details are here. You can get more background at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, or from the yearly World Disaster Reports. Of course, since poor communities have crappier infrastructure to guard against natural phenomena, those are the places where ecological irregularities turn into disasters sooner. The more people live in poor communities, the more disasters occur.
    Last edited by SuperWatto, Jan 22, 2013
  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7