It’s 2019 and, still, nobody is paying attention to the population explosion. As 2018 was drawing to a close I happened to be at a dinner with a friend, University of Michigan professor emeritus in environmental studies, Jim Crowfoot, and when, as we often do, we spoke of overpopulation and climate change he leaned over to me and very quietly and seriously said “The house is on fire, but nobody’s paying attention.” He wasn’t kidding. Continue reading
Category Archives: food supply
Messing up our climate with excessive CO2 emissions is taking huge risks. With the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere rising faster every year, and massive releases of stronger greenhouse gases like methane (natural gas), it is likely that sea levels will continue to rise worldwide. What people don’t remember is that small changes in sea level have happened all along, and that it wasn’t that long ago when, because we were still emerging from the last ice age, sea levels were several feet (or tens of feet) lower. Now humanity has built so heavily in areas near sea level that almost any rise is reflected in an increased frequency of damaging floods. In some areas the flooding already happens from a high tide, and no storm or other weather event is needed.
There is a lot more ice (and potential sea level rise) than most people realize. Another thing people don’t realize is that there is enough ice on land in just Greenland and Antarctica to increase sea levels by 200 FEET! If some portion of this increase happens quickly, in less than a month, for instance, humanity will be completely surprised and “caught with our pants down” as famine and pandemic result. So much of our food reaches us via container ships that, when the container ports are shut down by a sea level increase of a foot or two, shiploads of food will spoil at sea, grocery store shelves will get sparse, and there is a danger of people panicking and making runs on the grocery stores and banks.
I certainly hope humanity comes to its senses soon. Thanks for reading — Tim
With the population over 7 billion people now, heading for 10 billion by 2050 or so, the earth’s resources will be insufficient, sooner or later, and there will be a period of problems that will result in population collapse. After that decade (or three) of ever larger natural disasters, epidemics and wars we will be left with vast wildernesses of empty, decaying buildings. The infrastructure will be, at best, worse than it is now, and nonexistent in some places. The sprawling subdivisions of North America will be sparsely populated and most houses and buildings will be crumbling with nobody to keep them up, and no money or materials for the task, either. Freeways will be useful for all kinds of traffic with very few or no cars left. Fossil fuels will be scarce and too expensive for most people, and walking, cycling, and a revival of horse transportation will become the norm. When the freeway overpasses crumble and fall people will just use the on and off ramps to go around them.
It is hard, from here, to imagine how the aftermath of the population explosion will play out, but times will certainly be hard. And still there is no meaningful or constructive public discussion of how we can reduce the birthrate, and news media continue to trumpet big business’s line that growth is essential and that population decline is a thing to be avoided. That is frightening.
Thanks for reading, and please help people understand how much more important overpopulation is than any of the problems we see daily, almost all of which result from it. – Tim
This article from the Weather Underground folks pulls together several study results to show how farmers around the world are finding new methods that reduce the negative effects of climate change and provide sustainable, productive agriculture. We need a LOT more of this kind of thinking, and hopefully it will help buy us time until we can see our way to controlling the population explosion. We will never be safe and our civilization will never be sustainable in the long run without that.
Thanks for reading — Tim
The news media report many problems and disasters, but they can miss much. Dr. Jeff Masters Wunderblog for October 13, 2015, brought to my attention a disaster worse than any others I’ve seen this year, in which smoke from forest clearing fires in Indonesia has covered an area thousands of miles across and is causing the premature deaths of thousands of people. This is made worse by a developing El Nino weather pattern that is increasingly keeping parts of the tropics much hotter and drier than usual. This is clearly a huge problem, but what interests me most is what it suggests about the next century as the population explosion “detonates”. The climate changes we’ve seen so far have been worrisome, but I’m more worried about what will happen as the planet warms, the population grows, and the weather changes still more. Continue reading
The adoption of digital communications technology keeps accelerating, but brings risk. The crash phase of the global population explosion may not start with food shortages, global pandemic, or world war, but with a widespread shutdown of the internet. The disruption to our shipping, energy, and food systems would be catastrophic. But isn’t the internet too resilient from its diversity, complexity, and vast extent to be at risk of a global shutdown? How might this come about? Continue reading
Every species of life has evolved and is here because they successfully adapted to change and had more offspring. The human population explosion presents risks we’d all like to avoid, such as global economic collapse, famine, and epidemics, but it is caused by having more offspring, exactly the success pattern that got us here in the first place. We can’t evolve or adapt our way out of this – we will run out of energy and food sooner or later – so we need to reduce our birth rate to a sustainable level by using our brains and being creative – instinct won’t do it for us. More advanced technologies, conservation, and everything else we are doing today will unfortunately only enable people to have more children, worsening our problems. Politicians and the media won’t talk about this problem, so we need to. It is the toughest problem we’ve ever face, and millions or possibly billions of lives hang in the balance. Here are some more in-depth thoughts on this most important topic. Continue reading