Major disaster or creeping decay? A huge, amorphous disaster like an Extinction Event can last anywhere from minutes (asteroid impact) to 500 million years (volcanic eruptions). The current extinction event, thought to be the sixth, began at least a century or two ago and may continue for another century or two, though that period could be drastically shortened by a number of potential events such as nuclear war or climate change. Human events are rarely severe enough to cause drastic, lasting change unless they are supported by many other, seemingly less significant situations and events. For instance, a small change in the climate can favor some microorganisms over others, and result in sudden, unexpected die-offs of particular species such as starfish, with unpredictable environmental consequences. Terrible typhoons killed hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar and China, and the Sichuan earthquake killed tens of thousands, but these countries’ populations barely showed the difference a decade later. So how can we expect the next century to play out? Continue reading
Tag Archives: future
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
This article from Wired magazine shows the weakness of American popular culture. It is good that the authors see potential problems from the population explosion, and try to come up with a way to feed the 9 billion humans expected to live by 2050, but this is a very shallow consideration. Certainly much thought and work should be applied to this issue, but do the authors think time and the population explosion will stop there? What do they expect to do when the population – enabled to have even more children by the plentiful food supply – continues to explode and reaches 10 billion, 11 billion, and then 12 billion? Continue reading
Automakers, legislators, and others are excited about putting autonomous vehicles (AV’s) on the road as quickly as possible, and they cite many benefits. They’re pushing hard and investing a lot of money, but there are simple reasons why self-driving cars will not rule the road any time soon, no matter how beneficial they might be. For starters, some people will prefer to drive themselves or ride with a human driver. Inevitably some people will feel insecure riding in an AV and will refuse to ride in one, let alone buy one. While the numbers of those rejecting AV’s for such reasons may be small, they will sustain a demand for self-controlled vehicles to remain on the roads longer, presenting serious problems for AV operators. But that’s just the beginning – there are other major problems with AV’s that are not often mentioned in the media. Continue reading
Simple math: If a nanobot had wheels 20 nm in diameter, it could move about 62 nm in one rotation of those wheels. If the wheels can be made to turn at one million RPM, possibly through agitation by high frequency radio energy, the nanobot would travel at 62 million nm per minute, 1 millimeters per second, 3.6 meters (12 feet) per hour, or 89 meters in a day. This seems quite fast for something so small, but I am not reflecting on the feasibility of such rapid rotation or any other physical problems with using wheels at this scale. Of course, if the nanobot’s wheels can be made to turn at only one rotation per second its speed would be reduced to about 0.2 millimeters per hour or about 5 millimeters per day, but that is still fast enough for some important tasks as long as the nanobots are delivered quite close to where they will be needed and sufficient time is available for them to make the journey. Clearly, mobility will be needed for many nanotechnology applications, but how else might it be achieved? Continue reading
Globalization has changed me personally. 20 years ago I knew about the population explosion. I had been aware of it and watched it since I was a teenager in the 60’s, but I now realize I was watching from the sidelines. I lived my life like those around me, and certainly wasn’t putting two and two together to come up with a very complete picture of where we appear to be going, nor was I integrating my expectations and actions with where we are, where we have been in time and history, and where we can expect to go. The times are changing rapidly, though, and have brought me some striking revelations. Continue reading