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Will the Problem of Pollution Get Worse, or Better?

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Posts

  • President RexPresident Rex Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    There's an abundance of arable land and potable water for 10 billion people to survive on (never mind that reasonable estimates trend between 9 and 18bn). Unless you're living in the 1950s or in a dimension without Norman Borlaug.


    Perhaps you meant "The earth cannot support 10 billion people with consumer tendencies like Americans and Europeans"? It would help if we didn't build urban sprawl on the best farming land and didn't dump excrement and garbage into the drinking water, though.

    President Rex on
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    3drage wrote: »
    I'm going to have to ask you to present a graph that is not a blip on the population radar, nor is one that has dates in the future (unless of course you have a time machine and have actual numbers as opposed to predictions)

    So in talking about future population levels and growth rates...you don't want to use projections. That makes sense.

    moniker on
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Actually it's a very rapid descent.

    ...The population itself? I mean, if it's in 'rapid decline', how do we go from 6 billion people to 10 billion people? :P

    The rate of growth is slowing down, but it's still a high rate of positive growth (and will be until we get near the plateau - around 2030 or so).


    And no, there likely won't be some world-ending crisis due to overpopulation as envisioned by Malthus, but there undoubtedly will be an increasingly large rift between the wealthiest & the poorest in the world as industrialized nations take more & more resources to fuel themselves. Resources like drinking water.

    Food isn't likely to become a problem in the foreseeable future, largely thanks to humanitarian agricultural scientists like Norman Borlaug, so the Malthusian doomsayers were / are certainly wrong about that issue - but the underpinning idea, that the Earth is not a bottomless vault of bounty, is certainly correct. Again, I think we need some egalitarian, innovative ways to approach the problem of growing resource demands. Implementing draconian '1 child' policies is lazy and unhelpful, as is your approach of tying-on a blindfold and assuing everything will work itself out.

    The Ender on
    With Love and Courage
  • monikermoniker Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The Ender wrote: »
    Actually it's a very rapid descent.

    ...The population itself? I mean, if it's in 'rapid decline', how do we go from 6 billion people to 10 billion people? :P

    The rate of growth is slowing down, but it's still a high rate of positive growth (and will be until we get near the plateau - around 2030 or so).

    So when you said:
    The Ender wrote: »
    the growth rate is [. . .] still on a very rapid upward climb.

    What you meant was something completely different.
    And no, there likely won't be some world-ending crisis due to overpopulation as envisioned by Malthus, but there undoubtedly will be an increasingly large rift between the wealthiest & the poorest in the world as industrialized nations take more & more resources to fuel themselves. Resources like drinking water.

    Food isn't likely to become a problem in the foreseeable future, largely thanks to humanitarian agricultural scientists like Norman Borlaug, so the Malthusian doomsayers were / are certainly wrong about that issue - but the underpinning idea, that the Earth is not a bottomless vault of bounty, is certainly correct. Again, I think we need some egalitarian, innovative ways to approach the problem of growing resource demands. Implementing draconian '1 child' policies is lazy and unhelpful, as is your approach of tying-on a blindfold and assuming everything will work itself out.

    Ah yes, because I'm not rending my garments and gnashing my teeth I am therefore blinding myself to the problem as a Pollyanna. Oh, and while the Earth certainly doesn't contain infinite resources it actually is not a closed system. The fact that there isn't enough appropriate clay to create a brick bungalow style house for every human inhabitant doesn't mean that some homelessness is inevitable; it just means that we need to rethink how we use materials and approach problems.

    moniker on
  • 3drage3drage Registered User
    edited May 2010
    moniker wrote: »
    3drage wrote: »
    I'm going to have to ask you to present a graph that is not a blip on the population radar, nor is one that has dates in the future (unless of course you have a time machine and have actual numbers as opposed to predictions)

    So in talking about future population levels and growth rates...you don't want to use projections. That makes sense.

    I just want to see the graph in a scale that is not misleading to the nature of populations of species. Projections do nothing for me, it's not solid evidence it's a guess. Compare your small graph with a graph that illustrates Boubonic Plague and your downward spike will look like an increase....yet compare the plague with historical population and you'll see that it is even barely a blip in an ever-increasing population. I guess I just think better in large numbers, but a 50 year span with a third being projection just doesn't do it for me.

    3drage on
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Ah yes, because I'm not rending my garments and gnashing my teeth I am therefore blinding myself to the problem as a Pollyanna. Oh, and while the Earth certainly doesn't contain infinite resources it actually is not a closed system.

    ...How have I been 'gnashing my teeth'? I think I've been fairly even toned about the issue.

    And no, the Earth is not an open system for all of it's resources - drinking water, hydrocarbons, ore, etc, are all closed systems.


    The second part of your post I agree with.

    The Ender on
    With Love and Courage
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I just want to see the graph in a scale that is not misleading to the nature of populations of species. Projections do nothing for me, it's not solid evidence it's a guess. Compare your small graph with a graph that illustrates Boubonic Plague and your downward spike will look like an increase....yet compare the plague with historical population and you'll see that it is even barely a blip in an ever-increasing population. I guess I just think better in large numbers, but a 50 year span with a third being projection just doesn't do it for me.

    The graph is accurate - the overall level of growth is on a downward trend. This in itself is misleading, though, because the growth itself is still enormously positive.

    The Ender on
    With Love and Courage
  • FilFil Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    In China it's bad.

    Like, really fucking bad.

    Some pictures here
    some of them are a bit graphic though.

    To be fair, this is smog in LA in 1948:
    los-angeles-smog_53499058-thumb-550x441-25547.jpg

    Mexico City in the 80s:
    cars_pollution_sm.jpg

    Give it time.

    Fil on
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Fil wrote: »
    In China it's bad.

    Like, really fucking bad.

    Some pictures here
    some of them are a bit graphic though.

    To be fair, this is smog in LA in 1948:
    los-angeles-smog_53499058-thumb-550x441-25547.jpg

    Mexico City in the 80s:
    cars_pollution_sm.jpg

    Give it time.

    Yeah; there were also these very intimidating things in the 30s:

    Dust-storm-Texas-1935.png

    ...That we don't have anymore.



    Things will get better.

    The Ender on
    With Love and Courage
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Growth rate is the gradient of a population vs time graph. It's not misleading, you're just bad at reading graphs 3drage. And it covers 100 years, with about 40 of projection. Even if you block off the 2010 onwards with your hand, it's a pretty clear trend from the mid-60s (think about what came on the market in the 60s) to now

    L|ama on
  • 3drage3drage Registered User
    edited May 2010
    L|ama wrote: »
    Growth rate is the gradient of a population vs time graph. It's not misleading, you're just bad at reading graphs 3drage. And it covers 100 years, with about 40 of projection. Even if you block off the 2010 onwards with your hand, it's a pretty clear trend from the mid-60s (think about what came on the market in the 60s) to now

    I'm not bad at all with reading graphs, I just understand how your graph scales historically with overall growth, and the supposed decrease is nothing at all. It will get worse before it gets better, and by better I mean mass extinction due to starvation when our planet is no longer able to sustain our needs.

    3drage on
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    3drage wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    Growth rate is the gradient of a population vs time graph. It's not misleading, you're just bad at reading graphs 3drage. And it covers 100 years, with about 40 of projection. Even if you block off the 2010 onwards with your hand, it's a pretty clear trend from the mid-60s (think about what came on the market in the 60s) to now

    I'm not bad at all with reading graphs, I just understand how your graph scales historically with overall growth, and the supposed decrease is nothing at all. It will get worse before it gets better, and by better I mean mass extinction due to starvation when our planet is no longer able to sustain our needs.

    Riiight.

    Meanwhile here in the real world, most of the first world countries would be shrinking if not from immigration. Even if everyone went how you're predicting, the US, Europe, etc would be fine barring WW3.

    Phoenix-D on
  • 3drage3drage Registered User
    edited May 2010
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    3drage wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    Growth rate is the gradient of a population vs time graph. It's not misleading, you're just bad at reading graphs 3drage. And it covers 100 years, with about 40 of projection. Even if you block off the 2010 onwards with your hand, it's a pretty clear trend from the mid-60s (think about what came on the market in the 60s) to now

    I'm not bad at all with reading graphs, I just understand how your graph scales historically with overall growth, and the supposed decrease is nothing at all. It will get worse before it gets better, and by better I mean mass extinction due to starvation when our planet is no longer able to sustain our needs.

    Riiight.

    Meanwhile here in the real world, most of the first world countries would be shrinking if not from immigration. Even if everyone went how you're predicting, the US, Europe, etc would be fine barring WW3.

    Just don't go fishing in the Gulf, right?

    3drage on
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    3drage wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    Growth rate is the gradient of a population vs time graph. It's not misleading, you're just bad at reading graphs 3drage. And it covers 100 years, with about 40 of projection. Even if you block off the 2010 onwards with your hand, it's a pretty clear trend from the mid-60s (think about what came on the market in the 60s) to now

    I'm not bad at all with reading graphs, I just understand how your graph scales historically with overall growth, and the supposed decrease is nothing at all. It will get worse before it gets better, and by better I mean mass extinction due to starvation when our planet is no longer able to sustain our needs.

    You're not very good at this, it's the birth control pill. Which is becoming more and more common in less developed countries.

    In general, education and empowerment of women seems to have a huge effect on decreasing birth rates. This is good. It's not just a random fluctuation, it's a clear trend with an obvious cause.

    L|ama on
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    3drage wrote: »
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    3drage wrote: »
    L|ama wrote: »
    Growth rate is the gradient of a population vs time graph. It's not misleading, you're just bad at reading graphs 3drage. And it covers 100 years, with about 40 of projection. Even if you block off the 2010 onwards with your hand, it's a pretty clear trend from the mid-60s (think about what came on the market in the 60s) to now

    I'm not bad at all with reading graphs, I just understand how your graph scales historically with overall growth, and the supposed decrease is nothing at all. It will get worse before it gets better, and by better I mean mass extinction due to starvation when our planet is no longer able to sustain our needs.

    Riiight.

    Meanwhile here in the real world, most of the first world countries would be shrinking if not from immigration. Even if everyone went how you're predicting, the US, Europe, etc would be fine barring WW3.

    Just don't go fishing in the Gulf, right?

    Has nothing to do with population growth, genius. The oceans ARE going to be a problem but again, the first world is most able to do without, baring total collapse.

    Phoenix-D on
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    Does anyone here know anything about the hydroxl collapse hypothesis? Basically, there's this compound in the atmosphere called hydroxl that helps clean air pollution. It's possible that human-created pollution could overwhelm the atmosphere's ability to produce hydroxl, creating a situation where low-lying toxic smog blankets the earth. To make matters even worse, hydroxl is apparently created due to a reaction with ultraviolet radiation, and the only way to reverse a hydroxl collapse would be to increase the amounts of ultraviolet radiation hitting the atmosphere.

    So, basically, if a hydroxl collapse occurs humanity will have to create closed-in communities with artificially purified air, and the only way to make the atmosphere safe to breathe again would be to greatly damage the ozone layer, increasing the amount of ultraviolet radiation available to produce hydroxl.

    I've heard very little about this hypothesis, but supposedly in 2001 some European environmental group projected that hydroxl concentrations could be reduced by up to 20% in this century.
    Hydroxyl Holiday: The Day the Planet’s Cleaner didn’t show up for Work. Hydroxyl (OH) is created when UV bombards gases like ozone and water vapor; as soon as it’s created, it reacts with other molecule, mostly polluting substances, and is gone within a second. It is very rare, having an atmospheric concentration of less than 1ppt. Hydroxyl is the “atmosphere’s detergent”, reducing gaseous pollutants so they’re soluble in water and wash away in rain (oxidation), like converting SO2, which would otherwise clog the air for months, into acid rain that quickly falls to Earth. CO and CH4 are oxidized to CO2, or to NO2. The one pollutant it doesn’t affect is CO2, hence its relatively long life*time in the atmosphere. [AK: so if it disappears and stops washing out aerosols like sulphate particles, this could lead to global cooling].

    Concentrations of hydroxyl much higher over the warm air in the tropics, where UV radiation is most intense, and close to non*existent in the Arctic, where despite the ozone holes there is usually little UV to make more hydroxyl. So “toxic chemicals that might survive for only a few days in the tropics will last a year or more in the Arctic air”. This is one reason why pollutants like acid hazes and pesticides accumulate in the Arctic.

    Since it’s destroyed when oxidizing pollution, it may be getting overworked. Joel Levine suggested in the 1980’s there was a 25% reduction in hydroxyl over the previous 30 years. Not surprising, since it spends a lot of its time oxidizing carbon monoxide (emitted by forest fires, fossil fuel burning and small domestic stoves), concentrations of which TRIPLED worldwide during the 20th C.

    Sasha Madronich – * “under high pollution, the chemistry of the atmosphere becomes chaotic and extremely unpredictable. Beyond certain threshold values, hydroxyl can decrease catastrophically”…many urban areas are “already sufficiently polluted that hydroxyl levels are locally suppressed”. Why? The sheer volume of pollutants and smog prevents UV light from penetrating into the air to create more hydroxyl. Ironically, not only more pollution, but also a thicker ozone layer, nature’s filter versus UV, will have the same effect.

    Notes on "The Last Generation"

    Hexmage-PA on
    Friend Code: 1590-5696-7916
    Friend Safari Type: Rock
  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    edited June 2010
    I'd be interesting to whether those projections take into account peak oil. Much of the Green Revolution is based on using hydrocarbon-based fertilizers. Take away industrial-scaled fertilizers, much less farm machinery, and the food supply for those increasing billions suddenly becomes a whole lot less secure.

    Phillishere on
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