Time-Line Relevance to a Clear View

I  spent a lot of time today writing a piece on my Facebook page which is where I do most of my work these days.  I thought I would share that here verbatim other than tidying up the links.  I hope it may help someone who may be struggling to come to terms with the issues covered.  Here is a link to my Facebook page.

Having a day off from bashing America I thought I would revert to one other of my favourite memes.  One that I have not recently visited.  Time for a refresher.

The problem, whether considered to generally be a problem or not, is the issue of over-population.  My mind was focused on this through a post by my FB friend Bev here (which is also very worth reading): Bev’s FB post    That story contained a statement that the world would pass 9billion population by 2050.  True, but not the whole truth.  I have previously shown that there will be more than 10billion souls alive in 2050 (barring nasty but real events that could well quickly reduce our numbers drastically).

I will get to that in a minute, but Lo and Behold, while I was thinking about this I opened this post: A Timeline of Earth’s Average Temperature Since the Last Ice Age Glaciation    This is an amazing timeline of human existence which shows that our current world climate conditions have never been as extreme as they are today.  It is not a complete history of mankind, in that it does not include our origins and I would argue some of the time points but that it not my focus today.

One thing it does show is the very small period of time in which man has had the capability to engineer his own destruction, and the consequences of following that path projected a little way ahead.

All of that is interesting in itself and you could spend all day looking and thinking about that yourself if you had a mind to, but my purpose here is to overlay (in words) the timeline of human population growth on this fascinating picture.  It won’t take long and I don’t mind if you ignore what I have to say and just take some time to consider what is already there.

First I need to rework the figures to bring them right up to date.  For this I use as a basis the data from the Worldometers website (very interesting).

The current annual population growth rate is taken as around 1.13% with a net annual increase of around 86million folk and a period of 11.6 years to add the next billion people. Let’s see how that is going.  Take the current net increase so far this year given as over 58.7million.  We have just passed the 2/3 point in the year so if we add half of the current growth that should give us a rough figure for the whole year.  It comes to 88million which gives us a period of just 11.36 years to add the next billion.  Does that look like a decreasing population.  Well, if you are looking through the wrong end of the telescope it might.

One step further – has the annual growth rate changed based on that figure?  OK, 88million into 7.45billion (current pop. count) as a percentage is 1.18%.  It does not sound much when you consider that in the 1960s the growth rate peaked around 2% but in terms of the absolute number it is a considerable increase on recent figures.  All of this demonstrates that if anyone tries to tell you that the population will stabilise around 2020 they are trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Here are the historical facts and my calculations for the future (again barring any unfortunate ‘accidents’ that may occur).

From our earliest historical beginnings, way back in the mists of time (did you follow that time-line through slowly to get some sort of feel for that?), our numbers never, as far as we know, exceeded 1 solitary billion right up until the year 1804CE (Current Era).  Just 212 years and probably less than 10 generations of your ancestors ago.  Make a mental note of where that position is on the time-line.

From that point, 1804, go forward 123 years to 1927.  That is the period when population growth began and it took those 123 years for it to reach the next billion mark.  When I was born in 1945, just 18 years later, the figure was ~2.5billion and it took just 37 years in total – that is to 1960 – to reach the next billion milestone.

Those post-war years were the period of our greatest percentage growth (but the actual numbers were minuscule compared to today’s figures – because total population was still quite small – but growing).

The move from 3billion to 4billion took just 14 years to 1974.
The move from 4billion to 5billion took just 13 years to 1987.
The move from 5billion to 6billion took just 12 years to 1999.
(Are you following this on the time-line?)
From that point it has taken just 12 years to again add the next billion.
The move from 6billion to 7billion took just 12 years to 2011.
We now stand at 7.45billion just 5 years later and it looks like we are moving to an eleven year period for new billions to be added.
Let’s project that into the future.
By 2022-3 the population could be 8billion.
By 2034-5 the population could be 9billion.
By 2046-7 the population could be 10billion.

And finally, by 2050 the population could be well on its way to 11billion.

Get the picture?

So, that’s it.  That’s what faces us.  And if you don’t see that as being a huge problem then I feel sorry for you.  I make no representations as to what this means, action it may call for, or likely consequences.  Those should all be fairly obvious.

I’m done now.  Need a cup of tea.

A Gift For Any Season

I have no intention of wishing anyone at this time of year a merry this or a happy new that or a jolly anything else.

If there is one message that I would wish to offer as 2015 draws to a close, it is this:

There is nothing in what we have done over the past year
to be merry, happy or jolly about.

We have messed up.
We have begun to realise that we have messed up.
Yet we continue to mess up.

We have over-developed our world economy

We have over-populated our planet

We have overshot all relevant environmental limits

All of this is encapsulated in a book of stunning photographic evidence of our progress titled ‘OVERdevelopment,  OVERpopulation,  OVERshoot’.

The book is freely available for online viewing and I offer a link to view it in its entirety here as a seasonal gift to you:

View the BookOVER

Missing The Point, Again. Why?

I am featuring today a great article by Samuel Alexander, author and a research fellow of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at University of Melbourne and a founder of the Simplicity Institute.  You can read this very informative article here: If everyone lived in an ‘ecovillage’, the Earth would still be in trouble.  Believe me, pretty much everything it says is worth reading.

It outlines what are called “the defining questions of our time”.  Unfortunately, like so many other informed voices in the arena of humanity’s present and future predicament for avoiding a messy and unpleasant extermination of our species, it does not even mention the real problem or issue, the proverbial elephant in the room, that towers in an over-shadowing way above and beyond every other consideration.

Let me say the dirty word that ‘nice’ people, even concerned academics, never mention (I haven’t mentioned it either recently, but it is never very far from my mind)  –

OVER-POPULATION

There.  Now, it is out of the bag and you can either switch off like everyone else does, or you can think about what that means for a while.  Everything else, every other possible ‘solution’, every other ‘plan’, ‘scheme’ or ‘practice’, pales into insignificance in comparison to the impact of this single, one, unitary, thing.

Why can’t the world see that?  Why can’t even those who expend so much time and effort to try to get us to change our ways, see that?

“There Are Just Too Fucking Many Of Us Living On The One Planet”

I give up.  It’s hopeless.  Nothing else matters.  May as well drop everything else (I won’t, of course).

“Messieurs, c’est les microbes qui auront le dernier mot.”

The Last Word

From the start of my involvement with blogging and social media I have built up a list of favourite quotations.  Among them is the following from Louis Pasteur the microbiologist and discoverer of the role of microbes in the process of fermentation and who played a large role in the field of immunisation and vaccinology, among other things.  He said:  “It is the microbes that will have the last word.”.

Of course Pasteur didn’t actually say that.  He was French so if he said something on that at all it would more likely have been the same as the title of my article:    “Messieurs, c’est les microbes qui auront le dernier mot (Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word.)”.

Pasteur’s view was quite prescient and may well be proven so within the foreseeable future and perhaps sooner than most of us would like to contemplate.

End Of An Era

Until I remembered Pasteur’s quote I was considering an alternative title for this post.  It would have been: “The Era Of Antibiotics Is About To End”.  This is a paraphrase of the title of an article I just read here at Get Holistic Health website.  The article refers to a current report from the premier US health agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  This is not the only source of such news of course, the subject quandry has been fairly openly broadcast even on mainstream news outlets.

What does this mean?  Well, read the article, but basically it means that we have already lost the war against the microbes.  Governments know that.  Pharmaceutical corporations know that.  In fact the pharmaceutical industry has all but ceased research for new antibiotic drugs, knowing that they can’t win.  They can’t discover new and more effective remedies faster than the microbes can evolve to negate their effect.

Antibiotic remedies were first discovered a little more than eighty years ago by Alexander Fleming and only started to be introduced into medical practice not much more than seventy years ago.  Antibiotics were never going to be a long term solution for infection control.  Pasteur foresaw that.  Can a discovery that has an effective lifetime of only 70-80 years be truly called a success?  This is only a blip, an instant, a moment, in the timeline of human existence.  In fact, introduced only a handful of years before I was born, the practice of using antibiotics may not outlast my own lifetime.  They may have lasted a little longer but through overuse, misuse and abuse, their effectiveness has been ended earlier than may have been expected if utilised wisely and appropriately.

The Get Holistic Health article that I referenced previously, offers an alternative solution.  Well they would do that wouldn’t they?  That is their business, promoting holistic health.

It is common sense really.  What did humanity do to fight off infection and disease for the thousands of years prior to the seventy year blip that is the antibiotic era?  Well, they sought and found natural holistic remedies.  Otherwise they simply died.  Mostly they died.  That is the same range of choices that will face humanity in the, hopefully, thousands of years, perhaps hundreds of years or maybe only tens of years that we can look forward to as a viable species on this planet.  We will re-seek and re-find natural remedies for our ills, or we will die from them.  Many will die.

Without the support of modern medicine that has only been made possible by the abundant resources of the only slightly longer blip in our history represented by the fossil fuel era ie. oil, coal and gas (which is also coming to an end very soon), life expectancy, human mortality, will start to return to pre-industrial era levels such as it always has been.  We are living in a bubble and that bubble is about to burst.  The problem is that most of us, in fact practically all of us, have not experienced life (well, what we currently refer to as life, and we have little or no memory of any other) outside of that bubble.  Living in a bubble has its advantages but it is also virtually impossible to imagine with any real sense of perspective just what conditions are like outside of the bubble.  We are about to find out.

So, Where Am I Gong With This? (A Reconsidered Point Of View)

In the past I have written quite a bit about the state of the world, our human predicament, our history, why we are in the mess that we most definitely are in and about how I see the future playing out.  And I have enjoyed, if that is the right word, doing that.

I haven’t felt like doing more of that recently.  It is not that my writings will have much if any influence on eventual outcomes or even on persons who may stumble accidentally onto my site to read them.  So, does it matter?  Are my views out of line or perhaps somewhere near the truth?   What will be, will be, whether I or anyone else writes about it or attempts to alter the course of events.

So, I have taken the time to reconsider these things.  What conclusions have I made?

Have my views changed at all?  No, they have not.  We are still steering a course towards impending disaster no matter which way you look at it.

Do I need to keep repeating my message over and over again from slightly different angles?  Possibly not, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I shouldn’t, or won’t.

Should I focus more on positive action, preparation for future events, recording of helpful information?  Possibly, maybe even exclusively.  I will do my best to improve in that area, but no guarantees.

What I have discovered is that there is no point laying blame on individuals or organisations or in pursuing activist type operations with the hope of changing anything.  Kudos to those who do those sort of things but in the end none of it really matters.  We are on the downward slope of societal decline without really knowing just how steep or gradual that slope may be and future history will play out its dramatic scenes the way it will, without any help from me.

It is up to individuals (we are all one of those just as much as we are collectively one body within nature) to recognise and establish their own position on these things relative to the overall group (humanity) position but we all need a starting point and guiding influences along the way.  This is where talking about these things, reading and writing about them, comes into the picture and is actually an important part of the process towards enlightenment.  Avoiding the issues, ignoring them, does not lead to clarity.  It just means blind submission to the group mentality, behaving like sheep people or ‘sheeple’.  There is a degree of comfort and safety in being sheeple but also a great danger of collectively straying off track and all going over the cliff edge together.

For these and other reasons I have ceased membership of all activist groups and have backed off from reading and commenting on most, not all, protest websites.  I think it will pay to not get too much out of touch with the signs of the times but an observer role rather than participation seems to be the way ahead for me at least.  This does not necessarily mean that I will be silent on these matters.

I have also realised, or have gained a clearer view, of what the real problem is and this will bring us back full circle, I think, to how this article started.

What Is The Real Problem That We Face?

Let me start with what the real problem is not, and proceed from there.

The real problem is not something that is outside of our capability to control.  While there are many such things, like asteroid impact, super volcano, global pandemic, that could bring about a premature end to our little show, they are merely potential problems, not to be discounted by any means but they are not the real problem that we face.

While the following are very real issues that we do have the ability to exercise control over, the real problem is not any of them:

  1. Overconsumption, the gobbling up, accumulation and use of ‘stuff’ (technical term for anything that can be obtained by any available means) which seems to be the main preoccupation for most of us in the world today.  This of course results in Resource Depletion and lays the foundation of Corporate Greed and an out of control Financial Industry and ultimately Societal Collapse.
  2. Environmental Degradation, the careless misuse of planetary assets without thought for future consequences. Included here is human induced Climate Change, Collapsing Ecosystems and the negative effects of Modern Agriculture (which is the field to which the Pharmaceutical Industry has turned to make a buck since they realised that their hold on the medical field was always doomed to end in failure).
  3. Social Elitism, the national, ethnic, religious, class and ideological groupings that separate people one from another for no better reason than flimsy ‘team’ allegiance or superiority, resulting in Global and Regional Conflict, violence, abused minorities and many other disturbing social trends.

I repeat, these are not the real problem.  They are merely symptoms of the real problem. The conclusion I have reached is that the real problem facing humanity is one that if we viewed it as such and put in place controls that do lie within our capabilities, we could overcome.  I do not think that we will do so voluntarily, but we could.

The real problem is Over-Population.

There are just too many of us around now for our own good and for the good of the planet on which we exist.

A popular myth says that  there are more humans alive now than the total of those who have ever lived before this time in all of our previous history.  This is not true of course (if it were true, you could forget about reincarnation) and while accurate estimates are difficult to establish, it is reckoned that something over 100 billion people have been born throughout history, far exceeding our current population (reincarnationists, I am one, who claim some level of previous life memory, can thank that fact for backing up, or at least not rebutting, their beliefs).

It is perfectly true though that never in our history has there been so many people (human beings, homo sapiens) alive at the same time as right now.

I do not discount the possibility that there may have been other global civilisations occupying our planet before our time here, of which there is now little or no trace as to their passing, but if there were such they would I think most likely not have been human beings.  I also do not discount that any preceding civilisations may have expired due to exactly the same reasons that we ourselves are becoming an endangered species of which just as little will remain, if anything at all remains as evidence of our own short history, for future special populations to see as we have of those who preceded our stay here.  This is mostly, though not entirely, pure conjecture of course.

Getting back on track, I hope to show that over-population is bigger than, and in fact the root cause of, all of the other problems that I mentioned earlier.  Here is my reasoning.

There is no doubt that the human population is growing.  It appears to be growing faster as time goes by, but that is simply an illusion.  Exponential growth is often thought to operate at a faster and faster rate but that is not true.  To grow exponentially, something only needs to grow at a fixed rate and that rate can be very small.  Any growth at a fixed rate over time is exponential because it will result in a doubling of that ‘something’ over a particular time period and for every subsequent repetition of that time period.  If you like to contemplate this line of reasoning then I recommend you watch the video below from Professor Albert Bartlett.

So, the population is growing.  The more it grows the more each of my three points above of controllable problems is exacerbated, becomes a bigger problem than it used to be.

  1. The more people there are, the more ‘stuff’ has to be produced to keep them happy.  The more ‘stuff’ produced, the more quickly the finite (limited, the word finite means having a limit) resources at our disposal are consumed.  A phrenetic race for the top based on profit, greed and debt ensues. Bad things start to happen.
  2. The more people there are, the more food is required to feed them and the less a share of total global food production becomes each person’s fair share.  The more people the more living space is required and the more land devoted to food production.  The planet suffers and ultimately everyone suffers.  Bad things start to happen.
  3. The more people there are, the more friction is generated as boundaries are pushed, social mores (norms, behaviours, customs, taboos) are infringed or ignored, separations into ‘have’ and ‘have not’ groupings arise (the 1% v the 99%). Discontent flourishes.  Bad things start to happen.

The reader may require more convincing evidence than what has been said here but to me this is a pretty clear picture.  Humans breed.  Just as all other living organisms do.  Breeding uncontrolled on a ball of rock that also supplies all of our needs for sustained life will eventually result in a sad ending.  Also, sadly, we may not see that ending coming until we reach the point where we each have only one square metre of land to stand on because at the point of the previous doubling of population the Earth’s land area would have been only half full.  That holds true no matter what the rate of growth is.

In the period 1950 to 1990 the world population doubled from 2.5 billion to 5 billion.  A doubling time of 40 years.  The rate of growth has slowed slightly since that time and the next doubling to 10 billion is expected by 2050, only some 36 years from now.

Can we slow down the rate of growth sufficient to avoid dangerous overcrowding?  Or are we currently at a level that can be considered as dangerous?  Should we be considering ways to actually reduce the current population for the safety of future generations?

I will not pursue those inquiries further here but it is a conversation that we must undertake globally and soon if we are to retain, some might say regain, control of our destiny.

Perhaps this quandry will be taken completely out of our hands, since we seem to have no appetite to engage in finding a solution, which brings me back to how this article began.

I think I can safely say that we are not now, never have been, nor ever will be in charge or control of our natural destiny as temporary residents of this planet.  Nature has that job and there are signs that He/She/It (depending on your view) is beginning to exercise that responsibility.  Nature after all has been controlling things here for far longer than we have been around and I suspect has gathered plenty of expertise in seeing that proper balance is somehow maintained despite the efforts of upstart species to take over.

The article concludes with this thought:  Is the evident loss of our battle against the microbes Natures move to begin adjusting the balance by reducing human population level through natural attrition that our efforts to medically prolong human life in recent decades (only decades remember) has attempted to circumvent?  Will balance be restored with us, though materially less of us, included?  Will the process end there?  Or will Nature take a look at our latest Behavoural Report Card and say “Enough is enough. They all have to go”?