Re: Doomed

1

This makes me feel so much better about the six feet of snow on the ground and the additional foot of snow falling this weekend.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 3:39 PM
horizontal rule
2

Like basically everything climate change related this makes me wish I were older. I always ending up trying to figure out what age I will be when things really, really go to shit and it's never old enough that I could reasonably expect to be dead by that point. Maybe I should take up smoking again or something.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
3

I forget, do you have kids? Dying young doesn't help me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:03 PM
horizontal rule
4

You may as well start jumping motorcycles over canyons. If you don't die, you'll at least have money. Plus, it won't be muddy at the bottom of the canyon because of the drought.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:04 PM
horizontal rule
5

Texas Reservoirs (the reservoirs are fuller to the east because of natural flow, I think.)

You can see in the map in ogged's summary that there is some kind of slight anomaly for central Texas down into Mexico, according to that map DFW will be wetter than Sante Fe or New Orleans. I don't claim to have a clue why.

C'mon down, y'all, and turn Texas Blue!


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:21 PM
horizontal rule
6

And I not a denialist,but retain a skepticism as to the accuracy of predictions as massive amounts of energy are added to a system. Catastrophic and chaotic are the words that come to mind. And I saw a movie with Quaid and Gyllenhal...

But "worse than we thought much sooner than we thought" is the most likely scenario, and "survivors of the imminent resource wars" will be the ones to struggle with climate change.

Glad I'm old, it's all been goin downhill since 1968, he said, surgically attached to the Internet.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:35 PM
horizontal rule
7

Dying young doesn't help me.

I don't see why not.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:43 PM
horizontal rule
8

I guess that'll finish off the Tule fog in California's Central Valley. It's an extreme way to handle the problem...


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:49 PM
horizontal rule
9

7: she still has to worry about her kids.

Global warming is one of those things that makes me think it's better not to have kids.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:56 PM
horizontal rule
10

7: she still has to worry about her kids.

Not if she's dead.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 4:57 PM
horizontal rule
11

10: She cares about them now and wants them to be safe when she's gone.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
12

That's making lots of assumptions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 5:03 PM
horizontal rule
13

9: Yup.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 5:09 PM
horizontal rule
14

On the other side of the coin, a recent study found that warmer Atlantic Ocean water produced more storms, and by storms they mean "monster hurricanes." It's in the Boston Globe so it might be paywalled for you. The nut grafs are:

They found that during a 1,000-year span beginning in 150 AD, 23 powerful hurricanes slammed into New England, on average, once every 40 years. From 1400 to 1675, there was another period of intense hurricane activity with 10 events. To put that in perspective, recent storms that most people think of as major, destructive events weren't even big enough to register in the pond's sediments: hurricanes Irene and Sandy didn't leave a trace. The only hurricane in the past hundred years to leave a layer of coarse-grained in the sediment was a category 2 storm, Hurricane Bob, which struck in 1991. Before that, the other recent storms recorded in the sediment were in 1675 and 1635.

And of course the Atlantic is getting warmer and warmer these days.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 5:33 PM
horizontal rule
15

I can't imagine anything I would want less than kids. I really don't understand people's interest in having them.

At this point the predictions we see re:climate change are so severe that it kind of freaks me out a bit how many people I know who are cheerful and excited about having kids. Then again almost everyone I know manages to read the various scientific articles and respond "Oh it won't be bad for me, though, because I live in a rich country [or give no reason whatsoever]" which, honestly, makes no sense to me whatsoever.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:02 PM
horizontal rule
16

I really don't understand people's interest in having them.

Someone's got to change my diapers when I'm old.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
17

At this point the predictions we see re:climate change are so severe that it kind of freaks me out a bit how many people I know who are cheerful and excited about having kids.

Same here. I can imagine adopting kids, but creating them would make the future climate change feel so much more tragic.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:26 PM
horizontal rule
18

None of you are truly doomed unless, like me, you are stuck in 1mph traffic with two seven year old girls who want to hear nothing but "The Chipmunks Sing Katy Perry."


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
19

My plan is to steer my kid into the dike building business.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
20

17 was a small factor in my parenting decisions. I occasionally wonder what it would be like to have a genetic connection to a child, but still believe my genes aren't worth passing on anyway.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:31 PM
horizontal rule
21

with two seven year old girls who want to hear nothing but "The Chipmunks Sing Katy Perry."

If its any consolation, one day those kids will be forced to wander the dusty, dry remnants of our civilization, fending off coyotes, mutants and killer bees, and you will be safely in the grave.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
22

15 -- Certainly the impacts to peoples' lives are not going to be equally shared. Other than having to pile up all our snow, and wait a while for it to melt, people in the Northeast who have enough money to pay higher prices for food, and maybe the ability to move a few miles inland a couple decades hence, are in a very different boat s the Southwest goes all Anazazi-style.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:33 PM
horizontal rule
23

Those of us in the West will be fine once they invent an air conditioner that runs on human misery.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:38 PM
horizontal rule
24

And why aren't the sentiments of this guy more popular? Is it that hard to find a cheerful, inspiring way to frame his message?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:41 PM
horizontal rule
25

One thing that has always amazed me about the Northeast is how few wildfires there are. There are a whole lot of trees up there. If there ever was a serious Western-style multi-year drought, I suspect a lot of them would go up in flames. And, given the high population density, that could be a problem....


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
26

25, remember a couple days ago when the people in Utah and California were all bragging about the comfortable dry air?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
27

18: I'm reading the second book of the Warrior cat series. Count your blessings.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 6:53 PM
horizontal rule
28

We live on a hill, which should help with flooding. On the other hand, we might not be able to sustain roofed dwellings if the snow keeps this up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:03 PM
horizontal rule
29

28: you might be able to build barrel vaults of snow over your houses to protect the roofs from later snow.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
30

19: I have had that thought. At this age, they appear to be planning to be a civil engineer and a materials scientist, so, dikes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:24 PM
horizontal rule
31

Haha, yes I will be dead, dead, dead when the shit hits the fan. I guess I can leave all my survival gear and fighting knives to my niece.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:41 PM
horizontal rule
32

Send your kids to Duluth, people. It's their only hope.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
33

Current plan is to work in finance for the next thirty years, then spend a couple of years meditating in the back yard in a tiny house, then die. Really looking forward to that scenario.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:45 PM
horizontal rule
34

At this point the predictions we see re:climate change are so severe that it kind of freaks me out a bit how many people I know who are cheerful and excited about having kids.

The predictions/forecasts have gotten so much worse just since I started having kids (Iris was conceived in June of '03) that I've been gobsmacked. A combination of vague, unfounded optimism about our ability to respond to the threat plus forecasts that really weren't this dire* made me feel that it wasn't that fraught a decision. Among other things, while "Masters of War" holds up pretty well IMO, the bit about "fear to bring children/into this world" reads as pretty hyperbolic 50+ years later. So, in 2003, saying, "I won't have kids because climate change" would have seemed kind of nuts.

Now it would just have been prescient.

*350.org started in 2008, about the time Kai was born. The goal** was to stop before we hit 350 ppm. We've already blown through 400, obvs.

**I'm sure they knew we couldn't stop emissions growth that fast, but the point remains that 350 was still in the future at that point


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:48 PM
horizontal rule
35

We have been having spring-like temperatures here when we should be getting feet of snow. My daffodils and tulips are coming up. Best case scenario is we get a couple of late snowstorms that kill off all the buds; worst case is no more snow, and summer will be a tinderbox.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
36

The speed at which "worst case estimate" is switching over to "oh that happened here's a new worst case" really is unnerving. I'm more than willing to believe that at this point we genuinely have passed right by the tipping point/point of no return with climate change. Basically all the things that people bring up when they talk about feedback loops with the climate are happening, and usually they end up in the news with "faster than expected" or "more severe than most scientists predicted" stuck onto them.

The thing that bothers me about people having kids is that, seriously, someone born in 2015 totally has a chance (I mean, probably not unless something really massive changes, but...) of living to that point at the end of the standard chart (2100), and climate scientists are practically just writing "EVERYTHING DIES IN FIRE" at that point. And it's not like things aren't going to continue getting worse after that.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
37

Our daffodils have killed the tulip bulbs and burned them for warmth.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:38 PM
horizontal rule
38

The thing is, my kids will only outlive me by 30 or 40 years, probably. Even though climate change is awful and drastic, they're going to be at older adults, bemoaning their own kids and maybe grandkids, 60 years from now.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:38 PM
horizontal rule
39

38 crossed with 36, amusingly. I don't think MHPH and I are on the same page.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
40

When you childless fuckers die I'm totally going to steal all your stuff and use it to finance my postapocalyptic-warlord lifestyle and my endless wars against rival factions such as heebie's kids.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
41

15 -- Certainly the impacts to peoples' lives are not going to be equally shared.

Right? Good lord you people, you don't live in Bangladesh, calm the fuck down. Yes, the West and particularly CA and the Northwest is having a drought that's likely a natural fluctuation not even related to climate change. I wouldn't buy in the southwest but BFD. Think of it as a chance to revive Detroit.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
42

I'm more afraid of global upheaval and chaos than the climate change per se. We aren't going to wake up one day and find that millions of people in now-unlivable areas are suddenly dead, leaving more resources for the rest of us, as in the glorious days after the Black Death. There's just going to be more and more refugees year after year.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:55 PM
horizontal rule
43

I don't think MHPH and I are on the same page.

He's just trying to pass of his involuntary celibacy as "I can't bear to bring children into this fallen world."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:59 PM
horizontal rule
44

Anyway, the linked articles are interesting. I don't have enough of a background in the models the study uses to really evaluate it, but it is cool to see this sort of comparison between the paleoclimatic record and the predictions of the current climate models.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 8:59 PM
horizontal rule
45

There's just going to be more and more refugees year after year.

Probably going to be pretty shitty, yeah, but not for us what with the bordered by two oceans thing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:01 PM
horizontal rule
46

Sure, other people will have it worse before decently well off Americans do, that's fine, but the people I know are absolutely working from what looks exactly like a "Well ok but dying as a result of horrible events outside of your control is for third world countries, not here." type reaction. And that's a pretty strong, if rarely directly stated, type of thing to think in America (and probably any number of other wealthy countries). But what we're seeing right now as far as problems go is really just the smallish stuff - oceans haven't really even risen far enough to start causing serious trouble for anyone, droughts aren't quite severe enough to cripple things yet, and so on.

So, yeah, fifteen to twenty years from now most people in the US will probably not be too much worse off than they are today, barring, I don't know, Republicans taking control of the federal government. But the climate is changing fast, and the thing about human institutions is that they tend to deal with trouble in exactly the worst way possible for humans to deal with psychologically - they adjust and patch over gaps and make do for as long as they can. That's great if you're dealing with small trouble, but eventually you get to the point where one final bit of trouble breaks one too many things massive and totally essential things completely fall apart. Then all of a sudden you're stuck with serious, life threatening problems and the resources that would be needed to fix them aren't there anymore.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:02 PM
horizontal rule
47

You mean CHUDs?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:06 PM
horizontal rule
48

Well 43 is just mean. Anyway, celibacy and not having kids aren't generally the same thing, at least from what I've been told about the whole thing. I just don't particularly understand the appeal of having children in general, and that makes the enthusiasm and excitement all my friends seem to have for bringing people they're responsible for into a rapidly degenerating situation kind of disturbing.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:06 PM
horizontal rule
49

Well 43 is just mean.

Meaner than my joke in the other thread about doing urple's wife? Anyways, think of it as an opportunity, like as a way to talk chicks into anal.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:12 PM
horizontal rule
50

41, 45: The drought doesn't stop at our southern border. And the (devastating) loss of South American glaciers can't be a short-term weather variation.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:14 PM
horizontal rule
51

I just don't particularly understand the appeal of having children

Me neither, man. On the other hand, when my kids are being extra-annoying, I can think, "You little shits have no idea what you're in for."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:32 PM
horizontal rule
52

I didn't say I wasn't celibate, did I? It turns out that kind of stuff hit way too many triggers for my particular brand of crazy so I ended up trading it in for, you know, living longer. I don't know where that counts on the voluntary/involuntary scale though.

The real problem with refugees from what I can see isn't that they might end up here as opposed to somewhere else (though, you know, there is a whole continent down there to the south that's connected to us). It's that they'll end up anywhere at all, and by the time serious refugee crises start happening everywhere else is already going to be stretched thin at best. So it really looks like the sort of problem that ends up cascading through massive parts of the world breaking things. And that in itself is really problematic as a feedback loop, though I suspect that by the time it starts to happen the other ones will be a more serious problem anyway.

Also, droughts don't sound that bad and we can always leave areas when forest fires start to happen, but they're still nothing to be too sanguine about. I mean, we got ourselves into this problem by burning too many things, so lots of big fires should be a little scary.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:37 PM
horizontal rule
53

50: Big swathes of South America and southern Mexico are getting wetter, not drier. I'm not some climate change denier, but this talk of not having kids like the first act of Interstellar is just over the horizon is ridiculous.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:42 PM
horizontal rule
54

So it really looks like the sort of problem that ends up cascading through massive parts of the world breaking things.

Really, no. Not that it's a good thing but the reality is that loads of people die in shitty parts of the world all the time and it doesn't affect a thing. In mid 90's Rwanda something like 500K to a million people were hacked to death in a three month period and people basically went, "whoa, fucking Africa, whaddya going to do?", and went about their day.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 9:52 PM
horizontal rule
55

That was before the internet. Now it really matters.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 10:05 PM
horizontal rule
56

http://m.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-30962813

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8046540.stm

but it's true that we'll be okay until we aren't.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 10:12 PM
horizontal rule
57

I have a well in my basement. They can have my basement water.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 10:19 PM
horizontal rule
58

I suspect the water may be a bit less than ideal as drinking water. I figure it probably comes out of the abandoned coal mine. On the other hand, maybe that means it is carbon filtered.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 10:33 PM
horizontal rule
59

You should bottle it and sell it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-12-15 10:36 PM
horizontal rule
60

I think we should be more worried about nuclear war than climate change.


Posted by: David the Unfogged Commenter | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 1:00 AM
horizontal rule
61

I was reminded the other day by a friend that the 2 big worries when we were kids seemed to be nuclear war and scoliosis. (Seriously, didn't it seem like there were spine inspections every 10 minutes? It's the only medical issue I can remember schools making a big deal about.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 3:03 AM
horizontal rule
62

I avoided half of those things.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 3:06 AM
horizontal rule
63

61: yes. There was a day that you had to bring in. Swimsuit so that you could get your spine inspected.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 5:28 AM
horizontal rule
64

I was friends with a girl who failed one of those inspections. She had to wear a super-uncomfortable looking back/neck brace all the time. But I guess it worked, and then she went to Harvard, and now she has a fancy career and more than $5 to her name.

I'm not so worried about nuclear war as much as nuclear exchanges. Who's to say we couldn't have one of those every 20 or 30 years when the resource wars heat up? That would not be good for the planet.

On the third hand, the trailer for the new Mad Max film looks completely fucking awesome/amazing. So, ill climate c. that blows no g. etc.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 6:03 AM
horizontal rule
65

We had a girl flunk the scoliosis test so bad that she had to have a surgery to straighten her back. I just got referred to a specialist who told me that I had a minor bit of scoliosis because one of my legs is slightly shorter than the other. Which was less of a problem than nuclear war or the lordosis he also found.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 6:10 AM
horizontal rule
66

The danger of nuclear war hasn't gone as far away as I'd like, in fact, although the risk of Russia and NATO flinging megaton shit around seems to have abated. A radioactive Kashmir seems quite probable actually, and various other such scenarios.

What I don't only too well understand is that Mrs y was taught in elementary school in the 60s that the water table in the corn belt was being used up faster than it was being replenished, so this is really aggravating an existing problem that nobody has seen fit to do anything about for 50 years.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 6:28 AM
horizontal rule
67

I certainly grew up hearing about the water table in the corn belt, assuming were talking about maize. However, I think farmers use quite a bit less water per bushel of corn than they did when I was a kid. No-till farming methods keep more moisture in the soil and newer irrigation systems are more efficient. The center pivot systems used to spray water up and now the spray it down so that less evaporates. And there is currently some kind of deal from the government that has my cousins replacing their gated pipe system with something more efficient.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 6:45 AM
horizontal rule
68

I have significant scoliosis (full S curve, neck and tailbone pointing in the wrong directions, blah blah blah) and was anorexic at the time of the screenings and know my bones were visible and yet still wasn't diagnosed until I was 17 or something, which I've always thought was weird. Secretly I blame myself and think maybe I was fine and the anorexia somehow caused my bones to shift, but that's probably basically crazy.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 6:59 AM
horizontal rule
69

The screening they use in schools isn't really all that accurate. And your bones do shift when you grow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
70

Further to Moby's last, most people a) have some non-standard spine curvature and b) it doesn't matter. Only has any impact for the lucky few!


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
71

Yeahbut for instance at the weight I'm at now, so, um, 50 lbs. heavier I guess, no one who sees me in a bathing suit would think my spine was normal because you can see that my ribs and hips are visually misaligned. I haven't been able to really look at my back, but I'm told it's completely visible there too. Admittedly they probably couldn't tell by looking that my neck arcs the wrong way, which is so gross I can't even think about it ewwww necks, but it is still very weird to me that either the nurses weren't particularly looking or it changed drastically in the course of a few years.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:10 AM
horizontal rule
72

Anyway, sorry for taking that little thread even further afield.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:14 AM
horizontal rule
73

Really, no. Not that it's a good thing but the reality is that loads of people die in shitty parts of the world all the time and it doesn't affect a thing. In mid 90's Rwanda something like 500K to a million people were hacked to death in a three month period and people basically went, "whoa, fucking Africa, whaddya going to do?", and went about their day.

It did affect quite a lot in Africa, of course. I'm not sure the criterion for a humanitarian (or even political) crisis mattering is whether Americans give a shit.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:14 AM
horizontal rule
74

73: I don't think he was claiming the Rwandan genocide didn't matter -- in either an abstract or concrete sense -- so much as that it didn't have any discernible impact on the lives of upper-middle class Americans and therefore wouldn't have caused any non-crazy person in this country to decide not to have kids. Whether the above is predictive in any way at all of the likely impact of climate change is best left to individual to decide, I suppose.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
75

I'll say that climate change didn't factor into my decision to have a kid. Sad to say, but even with climate change it's probably a better time to have a kid than it has been in most of human history and in one of the better places on the planet, too.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:49 AM
horizontal rule
76

and in one of the better places on the planet, too

Yes, we've heard plenty from gswift about how your part of the country is heaven!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:51 AM
horizontal rule
77

73: I don't think he was claiming the Rwandan genocide didn't matter -- in either an abstract or concrete sense -- so much as that it didn't have any discernible impact on the lives of upper-middle class Americans and therefore wouldn't have caused any non-crazy person in this country to decide not to have kids.

They might decide not to have kids so as not to contribute any further to global warming and hence refugee crises.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:56 AM
horizontal rule
78

The speed at which "worst case estimate" is switching over to "oh that happened here's a new worst case" really is unnerving.

I haven't read the whole thread, but this is both easily explainable and fucking infuriating. The truth is that most climate scientists, like most scientists generally, are fundamentally very conservative in their scientific predictions. They are forecasting based on things that we really understand pretty damn well, and weren't doing a lot of wild-eyed speculation about potential compounding factors and chain reactions and true worst case scenarios. This is especially true as their work has been under constant attack and so they have been struggling to ensure that it be unassailable. Because they didn't want to ever be out on a limb where they could be dismissed as irrational alarmists. And yet half the country basically dismissed them all as irrational alarmists anyway. "No way it could possibly be that bad--this is all speculation", blah blah blah. When the reality was always that things could actually get a lot worse. (This was frequently acknowledged in the fine print, but was never built into the headline forecasts.)

Every now and then you'd see a report where a scientist did engage in more speculative "what if" type forecasting, where things look really bad, which was treated (both by the public and, in a lot of cases, also by the authors) as if it was goddamn science fiction, when really it wasn't--it was just taking the conservative "only forecast based on what we're reasonably confident about" bias out of the equation.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
79

Oh, we'll die in the great wildfire of 2015. But it's hard for me to look at human history with disease and war and conclude that this is a particularly uniquely bad time to have a child, as opposed to any other time.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:02 AM
horizontal rule
80

77: This. When I feel bad about having kids, it's not so much that I'm worried for them -- I do kind of think that as rich well-educated generally competent Americans they'll manage fine -- as that two more Americans in the world is an unwarranted burden on the planet. Buck's thinking is that our children specifically are awesome enough that they'll do more good than harm globally, but that's not a safe bet: awesome as I am, I certainly haven't.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:05 AM
horizontal rule
81

Seriously, didn't it seem like there were spine inspections every 10 minutes?

Coach Fondles!

Hey, when you're a kid, how often are you supposed to get scoliosis tests? Because I just remembered -- the head troopie guy was also my middle school P.E. coach, and he administered a damn scoliosis test every other week. Everybody dreaded it -- you had to march into his office and close the door, and he'd be sitting there wearing mirrored aviator sunglasses, smiling a tight little smile. Nobody would speak -- you knew the drill. Take off your shirt and bend over toward him and he'd kind of feel and press around on your spine and ribs, looking for abnormalities and no doubt enjoying his massive boner. As best as I can remember he never stuck anything up my butt or anything, but those tests were still pretty traumatic, and I wasn't exactly jumping at the chance to share my tent with the guy on camping trips, you know?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
82

I'd never heard of scoliosis tests, and obviously don't remember having any.

Any idea when that started?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:19 AM
horizontal rule
83

It's funny -- I heard of them as a normal thing, but I don't remember ever being checked. Maybe I just forgot, or maybe my school didn't care.

Wasn't there a discovery of a trove of naked pictures of Ivy League undergrads from the 40s through the 60s, purportedly for scoliosis-diagnosis purposes (I think), a couple years back?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
84

81: People at my girls' school always gossiped that all the PE teachers were lesbians. I think that some people equated this with pedophilia and didn't care for it because of this.

One year I forgot my swimsuit and had to take off my shirt. That was uncomfortable.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:25 AM
horizontal rule
85

Yep. Nude posture photos.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:26 AM
horizontal rule
86

I'm with Buck. Someone has to vote progressive.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
87

They might decide not to have kids so as not to contribute any further to global warming and hence refugee crises.

If they're thinking seriously about the issue -- rather than just wallowing in narcissism -- I doubt it. It seems more likely they'll decide that climate change is a massive structural problem that won't yield to ad hoc or idiosyncratic solutions.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
88

LB: wallowing narcissist.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:27 AM
horizontal rule
89

I never had a scoliosis test that I recall. I'm pretty sure I recall news stories that Hillary Clinton was among the Ivy posture photos.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:32 AM
horizontal rule
90

Here we go.

But I soon learned that it was a long-established custom at most Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools. George Bush, George Pataki, Brandon Tartikoff and Bob Woodward were required to do it at Yale. At Vassar, Meryl Streep; at Mount Holyoke, Wendy Wasserstein; at Wellesley, Hillary Rodham and Diane Sawyer. All of them -- whole generations of the cultural elite -- were asked to pose.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:34 AM
horizontal rule
91

Wow, the link in 85 is much less lascivious than I had hoped when I read its description.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:36 AM
horizontal rule
92

Oh, I don't actually spend a lot of time beating myself up for having kids. They're lovely kids. But we'd be in much better shape, environmentally, if there were many fewer children in exactly their demographic. Not that my not having kids would have made that happen, but if every American (and European) in the last couple of generations were infertile, the remaining people in the world would be much better off.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
93

but if every American (and European) in the last couple of generations were infertile, the remaining people in the world would be much better off.

This seems to make a lot of ceteris paribus assumptions that I'm not sure are warranted.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:41 AM
horizontal rule
94

Fair enough. I'm not actually trying to be rigorous about it, given that it's less a meaningful political opinion than a cry of despair.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
95

85/90. Just when you think shit can't get any wierder...


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
96

I heard about that years ago and have it already factored into my baseline expectations for weirdness.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
97

The link in 85 is fun to read. I had not heard of this crazy story before.

We were checked for scoliosis and also vision and hearing. I remember specifically hearing tests in first grade, soliosis in 6th grade, and hearing again in high school, but I'm pretty sure they all happened every couple of years. Routine hearing test in high school was when my hearing loss first showed up


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:08 AM
horizontal rule
98

78 - Yeah but what I'm pointing at is that we keep hitting the top bit of that range (and occasionally above it), not that we're beating what they conservatively took to be the best projection to tell people about. It would be one thing if it was just "we erred on the side of oh-god-I-hope-we-don't-all-die", but we keep seeing "actually it's interesting in a way because we must have missed a factor here".

I feel like at this point we're already pretty much screwed as a species - we've pretty much locked in "disastrous and almost certainly a few nasty surprises we don't know about now" by now. Even if we did take massive huge steps to basically eliminate our carbon output (and have some sort of global pandemic) we'd be in for some really nasty stuff. The chances of that now are hilariously low, and it's hard for me to believe that a bunch of massive disruptive catastrophes and resources shortages are going to improve our ability to make unprecedented infrastructure investments. So I'm not sure there's much value, especially on an individual level, in worrying about your own carbon footprint too much. (Uplifting?)


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
99

I remember getting a scoliosis test maybe once, but certainly not regularly. I may have missed out on the age group where they were obsessive about it though.

I'm not sure why they would be really really worried about it. I do have an aunt who ended up with a pretty severe case (as in, you can see her shoulder blades are way off from where they should be when she's wearing a sweater) but I'm not actually certain if that even had any really massive health effects for her.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
100

92 is the plot of Utopia, a super stylish (and, in the first season, quite good) British conspiracy thriller.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
101

I remember the scoliosis test. Why it had to be done at school, instead of by a doctor when you got your shots or whatever, I have no idea.

I remember the story of the nude Ivy League photos. So I guess all those photos that come up when you google "Hillary Clinton nude" (note: don't do this) are real.

If people hadn't always had kids, who would have been around to die in the Black Death? Riddle me that. I do raise an eyebrow a little tiny bit when people have kids at above replacement rate.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
102

It's hard to have exactly 2.18 kids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
103

But easy to stay below that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
104

I remember the scoliosis test in grade school. Do they still do that?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
105

24 to 100


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:29 AM
horizontal rule
106

92,94. You people really do hate america.

Energy use per capita, including Italy which does have negative population growth.

Statewise enumeration of US energy use strongly suggests that there's a lot to gain from political improvements-- IN is much worse than either of its neighbors IL or OH for instance. Basically, shutting or restricting the oldest, very inefficient coal-powered plants compensates for a whole lot of new human lives spent flying around, eating, and maybe having ideas.

The graphics for the linked study come from NASA. Ted Cruz is now the head of the Senate subcommittee that oversees NASA.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:30 AM
horizontal rule
107

He's a Canadian.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
108

I'm kind of watching the whole global warming thing like an uninvolved outsider. I'm convinced that every drop of oil in the ground is going to be extracted and burned, just because the forces in favor are so overwhelmingly powerful and they have inertia on their side. I'm hoping that alternative sources will start coming on line faster and provide some competition, just to slow down the rate of oil use. I'm pretty biased about the need for increased funding for energy research, but I think the need is urgent.

I'm ignoring coal because it depresses me. I saw a talk aimed at fusion scientists presented by an energy analyst. Global population is predicted to level off at 10-11 billion people. Known coal reserves are enough to support all those people at a US standard of energy consumption for 400 years. Presumably at the end of that period the last person (a coal miner, natch) will be left to wander a Venusian landscape of heat-blasted rock and sand, wondering WTF people 400 years ago were thinking. The guy also shit all over Tokamaks, which endeared him to me.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
109

107, let's see if he lavishes funds on the ISS's Canadian-built robotic arm.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
110

Much as I like to hate humanity, part of the problem is surely that this is actually a difficult situation. Specifically, it's hard to lift people out of poverty without environmental damage, right?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
111

Right, which is why we shouldn't be having kids. There's some population that could live respectably affluent lives without doing unsustainable environmental damage, and we should be dropping the population to whatever that is (by not having kids, rather than killing anyone.) Obviously, this isn't going to happen, obviously, the damage is in motion now and not having kids now is not going to stop global warming in its tracks. But if zero population growth had somehow become a global standard in 1900, whichever of us were here to have this conversation would be having a much easier conversation, and environmental sustainability and lifting people out of poverty wouldn't seem to be in conflict.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:22 AM
horizontal rule
112

But the parts that are already lifted out and been out for a fairly long time are of causing most of the problems.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:23 AM
horizontal rule
113

I'm not terribly convinced that the society of 1900 (or the society of today, for that matter) could actually deal (in the sense of "function in a way that doesn't cause a lot of human misery") with zero population growth. Countries with low population growth and limited immigration (which means, I guess, Japan and maybe Italy) are not having a terribly easy time of things. I suppose they're doing better than countries with a lot of population growth and tons of emigration, but still.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
114

Right. Rich people consume more resources than poor people; an environmentally sustainable population is smaller, the richer you want the average person to be. I'd like everyone in the world to be comfortable (which I'm sure is practical at a much smaller per capita resource level than I'm living at now, but still probably much higher than the current world average), which is why I think my grandparents (as well as yours and almost everyone else's in the world) should have used birth control.

I don't see how to turn this into useful policy where we are now, but I know what I'd be doing with a time machine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
115

Speaking of time machine, did Joe Biden really give a speech where he referred to somebody as his "butt buddy"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
116

114 to 112. To 113 -- if the dystopian horror of low population growth is Japan and Italy, I'll take it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
117

115: I don't know, but if he did I love him so much. There is a man with a severely broken filter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
118

114. Indiana getting California's policies is the environmental equivalent of cutting population by 2/3.

110. Thorium reactors and cheap solar, possibly.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
119

Okay, Albania, then. For Japan, don't think Tokyo; think Fukushima. Vibrant metropolises, like I think you are a fan of, don't do well with declining population. Detroit! How could I not have started with Detroit?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
120

is the environmental equivalent of cutting Indiana's population by 2/3.

Not saying there isn't waste to be cut, there's lots. I just don't think there's enough for everyone now in the world to be living even at the frugal Californian standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:36 AM
horizontal rule
121

He so did.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
122

What I think I'm saying is, we have an economic system that is powered by growth, and dissociating that from population growth is hardly trivial, so when you say "if we had zero population growth it would be easier to keep people out of poverty" you're actually assuming into existence a radically, possibly completely, different economic system from the one that currently obtains. Which, sure, I'm on board, but that's a big handwave.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:39 AM
horizontal rule
123

119: Fuck vibrant metropolises if the tradeoff is poor people dying; if there's a comfortable life for everyone on the planet without any vibrant metropolises, I'm all for it.

I kind of think your argument is fundamentally ill-supported; why should problems in areas of local low population growth imply that global stable population would mean the same problems worldwide? But even rural Japan (I assume Fukushima means not-Tokyo, rather than destroyed-by-a-tsunami, which you can't blame on the population), doesn't seem all that much of a nightmare to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
124

122: 123 is testier than it would have been if I'd seen 122. I agree that the world economy would be very different if population had stabilized in 1900; I just don't think we've got good reason to think it would necessarily have been miserable. Anyway, the population is stabilizing sometime pretty soon anyway, so that misery, if it happens, is baked into the cake. The question is just what the baseline stable population is going to be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
125

113: It's hard to have a bolus or overhang of old people, but (1) those demographics will predictably ease back into balance at a lower population, and (2) if we're playing with a time-machine, maybe introduce birth control & antibiotics in the same generation. I have an Icelandic friend with an enormous array of cousins, all in one- or two-child families. Their parents' cohort was the first in which all the children survived, and they looked at the demographic projections and switched to small families.



Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
126

why should problems in areas of local low population growth imply that global stable population would mean the same problems worldwide?

In fact I think they would imply that the problems would be far, far worse unless we had a radically different economic system.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
127

(1) those demographics will predictably ease back into balance at a lower population

What would the mechanism for that be?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
128

Specifically, it's hard to lift people out of poverty without environmental damage, right?

That and the sheer numbers involved now. The U.S in 1965 still had less than 200 million people. Right now India + China is over 2.5 billion. The Americas as a whole are under a billion and part of the reason I suspect climate change here isn't going to be the kind of apocalypse that will be swathes of Asia.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:47 AM
horizontal rule
129

It's hard to have a bolus or overhang of old people

I know. Just go to the Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle in the afternoon and try to move your cart around without killing one.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
130

We obviously would have a radically different economic system; if our current system is powered by population growth, and there wasn't any population growth, the economy would work differently (and I don't think that implies anyone would have to figure out how to make it work differently, no one figured out how to make the current economy work).

I don't think that's a strong reason to think that people could not live and work comfortably in a world without population growth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
131

127: Stable, rather than shrinking, population? A stable population would also have a stable demographic structure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:50 AM
horizontal rule
132

I don't think that's a strong reason to think that people could not live and work comfortably in a world without population growth.

But you're making a stronger claim than that. You're claiming that it would be easier to have everybody in the world be comfortable -- in a modern sense -- with zero population growth than with positive population growth. I get the intuitive appeal of that, and I don't know that I disagree, but to believe it is a priori true you have to assume the successful operation of an economic system dramatically unlike any that exists or has existed. That seems like a big assumption!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:52 AM
horizontal rule
133

131: sure, right. A stable demographic structure which -- assuming current western levels of health and medical care -- would be dramatically older on average than the demographics of even this country today.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:53 AM
horizontal rule
134

Lots of drama to be had in this counterfactual, apparently.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
135

132: Yes. Especially since the people who would do worse for themselves in that type of economy can figure out exactly who they are ahead of any transition.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:56 AM
horizontal rule
136

132: I don't believe it's a priori true -- or at least I don't know what a priori means in that sentence. The obstacles to a comfortable life for everyone in the world now are obvious physical problems: not enough energy to go around, climate change, habitat destruction, so on. The obstacles to having a comfortable life for everyone in the world at a small, stable population are "The economic system that makes a very small percentage of the people in the world comfortable and immiserates the rest requires population growth. Without population growth, maybe it would be even harder to make people comfortable." And, you know, possibly, but if it were an option (which it isn't, this is a no stakes argument because there's no way to get to what I wish had happened) I'd trade obvious physical problems for "possibly the economic system that would emerge under different circumstances would be less preferable to the kind of awful one we have now" in a heartbeat.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:00 AM
horizontal rule
137

I don't see how to turn this into useful policy where we are now, but I know what I'd be doing with a time machine.

I'm actually unclear about what you would be doing with a time machine. Could you elaborate?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
138

I wrote that, and knew it was a soft spot someone was going to pick at. Um, spot me a time machine and the ability to rule the world when I got back there? Introduction of all modern birth control/antibiotics so people wouldn't be budgeting for dead kids, worldwide free schools particularly aimed at girls to encourage the demographic transition, ZPG propaganda (re: climate change, habitat destruction), if you can think of anything else likely to freeze population growth without turning me into history's greatest monster, throw that in.

If none of that sounds practical to you, say I want a time machine and a magic wand.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
139

You need a time machine, a magic wand, and a butt buddy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:15 AM
horizontal rule
140

I once proposed universally available free health/birth clinics for anyone who didn't actively want kids and got called Hitler, so I can't recommend that.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
141

Between this, HBS prof guy wasn't an asshole because consumer protection, and tiki parties are racist, I feel like we're engaged in some sort of Koch-brothers funded project to discredit American liberalism.


Posted by: Tim "Ripper" Owens | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
142

if you can think of anything else likely to freeze population growth without turning me into history's greatest monster,

Oh sure, now that you start adding additional criteria...


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:39 AM
horizontal rule
143

If anybody is paying very close attention or attributing what is said here to American liberalism, those things aren't even in the top ten of what might be discrediting.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
144

||

Commenters in the news: Von Wafer Ejected From Chinese Basketball Game After Flying Dick-Punch

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
145

If you have a time machine, can you live forever?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
146

If you have a time machine, can you live forever?

You can guarantee that you will be alive at any arbitrary date in the future . . . What do you mean that isn't the same thing?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:54 AM
horizontal rule
147

I told my time machine that I would like to take a sequence of jaunts, to the year 2016 - 1/n, as n -> infinity.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
148

I believe the children are our future unless we get a time machine.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:19 PM
horizontal rule
149

Or if we can reparametrize time by substituting -t in for t. Then the old people are the future.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
150

I would like to take a sequence of jaunts, to the year 2016 - 1/n, as n -> infinity.

Zeno's calendar?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:27 PM
horizontal rule
151

American families have fewer children than they used to, but hasn't increased consumption more than made up for that? I like the idea of a time machine so you could introduce antibiotics/vaccines and the Pill at the same time, but I fear to make a dent in consumption you'd also need to introduce an asteroid.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
152

I have an Icelandic friend with an enormous array of cousins, all in one- or two-child families. Their parents' cohort was the first in which all the children survived, and they looked at the demographic projections and switched to small families.

Yet they're still the climate's greatest threat by far, according to the link in 106


Posted by: some lurker | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:42 PM
horizontal rule
153

so you could introduce antibiotics/vaccines and the Pill at the same time

If you have a time machine, just stop whoever first got syphilis and you won't need the antibiotics.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:46 PM
horizontal rule
154

152: I'm not certain about this, but does that count geothermal? If so, does that contribute to global warming?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 12:53 PM
horizontal rule
155

My mother's parents were both only children. My grandfather's mother had him when she was 40 in 1910.

They made up for that by having four children. My grandmother was determined that her grandchildren should have cousins.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 1:20 PM
horizontal rule
156

Moby, 67: More efficient, but are the water supplies actually under less stress? The southern Ogallala is mostly still being drawn down; I don't know about the easterly regions (reservoirs full? enough water to release for fish and whatever the deltas need?).

http://ne.water.usgs.gov/ogw/hpwlms/

Longer article, interesting interviews with farmers:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-ogallala-aquifer/?page=3

Tweety, I meant about what LB said, that the old people from the demographic transition will eventually die and we get to a stable distribution, and because it's stable we can adapt to it.

Those of us stuck on the planet are going to have to adapt somehow; the growth model will either run out of resources or have wars (or, more likely, both) and the worst case for wars is getting pretty damn bad (nuclear, bioterror, and the lethality of collapse when we've already exploited most of the hinterlands so that there aren't refugia for remnant populations).


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 2:00 PM
horizontal rule
157

They certainly aren't under less stress. I'm saying that they they are probably under less stress than the projections from 50 years ago were saying.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 2:10 PM
horizontal rule
158

I thought we'd increased intensity more than we'd increased efficiency.

Re which: it's not Demon Wheat in the SciAm article but Demon Corn. One of the farmers has switched to dryland no-till (on 18" precip annually, IIRC, wow) and therefore is growing wheat and sorghum instead of corn.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 2:36 PM
horizontal rule
159

In what sense is our economic system so reliant on population growth that its absence would require a fundamental restructuring? There would be challenges, of course. Long term investment returns would be determined by technological advancement alone, without the expected larger future demand. The demographics would be skew a little older. But there would also be benefits, like, you know, not having to wring exponentially more production out of a finite planet just to maintain living standards.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
160

158: I don't know, but certainly the predictions I think I recall about water shortages cutting corn production have yet to hit in the places where I know about.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 2:58 PM
horizontal rule
161

Reservoir or aquifer?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
162

106: You people really do hate america.

America has nothing on my current place of residence.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
163

159: If we didn't have a reserve army of underemployed youth labor would have more power. Which generally works out well for both innovation and civil liberties.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 3:11 PM
horizontal rule
164

Aquifer, but Platte River adjacent.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 5:55 PM
horizontal rule
165

I stumbled upon that Ivy League nude photo story linked in 90 while googling Miss Manners's position on "ass or crotch" back in 2010. (We wore onions on our crotch as was the fashion at the time.) I still like the Miss Manners quote (she was photographed at Wellesley):

THERE'S A TREMENDOUS LESSON HERE," MISS Manners declares. "Which is that one should have sympathy and tolerance for respectable women from whose past naked pictures suddenly show up. One should think of the many times where some woman becomes prominent like Marilyn Monroe and suddenly there are nude pictures in her past. Shouldn't we be a little less condemning of someone in that position?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:10 PM
horizontal rule
166

LB's retcon population nirvana is so charmingly and appealingly naive* that I can't help wondering if it is calculated to lured back to admonish about making our policies in other people's pants.**

*I know it well because it is one that I gravitate towards in my "wouldn't it be nice" moments. "Wouldn't it be nice" me turns out to be mostly a moron.

**I will acknowledge that LB is at pains to make it her own pants (or at least her ancestors'--apparently she would have pushed George McFly right in front of that car).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:22 PM
horizontal rule
167

163: a reserve army of underemployed youth

Work with me on this one; I'm thinking the beginning of Conan the Barbarian was on to something. Use the underemployed youth army to generate clean power while leading a perfectly spartan and ascetic life. It's win, win, win!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:28 PM
horizontal rule
168

I don't actually think that per capita economic growth is needfully correlated with making increased demands on the environment - I think it's possible to have per capita economic growth, increases in population, and still have declining demands on the environment, all through the magic of technological improvement.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:42 PM
horizontal rule
169

166: What's naive about it?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 10:45 PM
horizontal rule
170

a reserve army of underemployed youth

Wild Boys of the Road


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:50 PM
horizontal rule
171

I liked specifying that several successive generations would be infertile.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:51 PM
horizontal rule
172

I posted the movie trailer in 170. Also, the whole comment.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-13-15 11:53 PM
horizontal rule
173

169: "Wishful" may be the better word.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 5:38 AM
horizontal rule
174

Yeah, invoking a time machine and a magic wand might have been your first clue there, Sherlock.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 5:52 AM
horizontal rule
175

The assumption that more raw stuff per person outweighs the accumulated benefits of scale for one thing. And I guess we'd differentially lose the bad ideas over the good ideas.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
176

Good morning!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:00 AM
horizontal rule
177

The assumption that more raw stuff per person outweighs the accumulated benefits of scale for one thing.

Spin out what benefits of scale we're getting at our current population that would be unavailable at a population of, say, a billion?

And I guess we'd differentially lose the bad ideas over the good ideas.

And this one I don't get at all. (That is, I can see someone saying "More people, more genius, technology would slow down." I kind of think that's bullshit, because innovation isn't a function of the number of people in the world, it's a function of the number of people in the world who are rich enough to be well educated and supported. But it's not certainly wrong. What you're saying about bad ideas though? What?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:06 AM
horizontal rule
178

I'm actually secretly with you on this one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:13 AM
horizontal rule
179

Yeah, With all that Lebensraum no need to clear out the Jews and slavs.

(He wrote obnoxiously.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:19 AM
horizontal rule
180

I'm also not actually suggesting we must keep the population increasing to ensure a steady supply of poor people who can be ground up in our Prosperity Mills. I'm just saying that "if we had a lower population and zero population growth we would be able to keep a much higher percentage of those people comfortable in a way something like the way in which we in the west are currently comfortable" is a complex statement with a lot of moving parts, particularly since it has never been the case that some set of people have been comfortable like we in the west currently are comfortable without some other set of people being immiserated in something like direct consequence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:22 AM
horizontal rule
181

179: reading the (very interesting!) economic history of Nazi Germany that Halford-my-mortal-enemy suggested a while back, I was struck by the guy's description of how Hitler saw the US's high person-to-land ratio as the engine of its success, and the competitive advantage he was going to counter (on behalf of Europe) via Lebensraum.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:24 AM
horizontal rule
182

I outsource substantive discussion to Tweety.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:24 AM
horizontal rule
183

181: i think you meam high land-to-people.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:26 AM
horizontal rule
184

Why I think I just might.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:27 AM
horizontal rule
185

I absolutely and unreservedly agree that I have no rigorous argument to prove that if the world population had frozen at, say, about a billion (number also not rigorously selected), that the lessened demand for environmental resources would actually make life better for the remaining population; I can just see obvious, easy reasons why it would, and the reasons why it wouldn't seem to all come down to "The world is a complex system and any huge change might make it much much worse." Which could very well be true.

And I promise that if anyone hands me a time machine and a magic wand, I'll do some more due diligence before taking action.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:30 AM
horizontal rule
186

Comity, time wizard.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:34 AM
horizontal rule
187

||
For those with access to VHS1 Classic this weekend they are doing an SNL marathon--appears to be going backwards through '77 & '76 seasons. The musical acts is what i'm trying to catch.
|>


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
188

Way too many commercials and unfunny skits, however.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
189

187: Your slip-up leads me wonder if I could get VC fundings for "NetFlix, but with VHS tapes." Too soon?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 8:11 AM
horizontal rule
190

Subject/verb agreement errors make you think of VC funding? (And to make typographical errors of your own?) Or I'm missing another slip-up.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
191

I thought you meant VH1 Classic, not VHS1 Classic. My bad.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 8:37 AM
horizontal rule
192

Hah! There was another slip-up. It is VH1 Classic ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
193

181: is that the Adam Tooze one? Great, isn't it? Try also The Deluge by the same author and David Edgerton, "Britain's War Machine".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 9:06 AM
horizontal rule
194

"NetFlix, but with VHS tapes."

The "comprises of" Wikipedia guy started a business like this, according to the profile linked here recently.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
195

189: if the VC funding was there to build the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I'm sire they can round up the dong for your crazy idea.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
196

I AM THE SIRE!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-14-15 9:17 PM
horizontal rule