Global Warming 5: Just Too Many Of You
March 14, 2007
Too many of you demand too much. You emit unprecedented and unsustainable amounts of carbon gases. You deplete nonrenewable resources. How many people can earth sustain and for how long? How much mismanagement is allowed? The air, oceans and lands can only provide, and take, so much. All resources are constrained, including food, energy and earth’s capacity of handling pollution.
We, politically and personally, must start dealing with this climate thing. Check out my recent post “The Bleakest Outlook Yet” and you’ll see why. Too much time is spent arguing trivia or grandstanding trifles. Energy is wasted blaming this, that or someone, defending imaginary turfs, plotting petty deceptions and delivering meaningless rhetoric.
There may be a few occasional bright spots but they are far too dim and rare. Over the last few months, the frivolous and childish ploys exploded in mass media and on the web. It is the last thing we need. It is time to get mad.
Howard Beale of the movie classic “Network” famously rants at the top of his rage:
“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I want you to get mad! You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddamn it! My life has value.” I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,”
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”
Try it on; it may save your life or even your sanity. Perhaps some one will listen. OK. All right, I know. I’ll return from the land of fantasy and try to behave. Back to order. It sure is a great movie, though. It fits our subject like a glove, in my not so humble opinion.
Back to Order
Sustainable populations and survivability are some of the most studied and argued subjects on Earth. It’s covered by a slew of academic specialties from demographics to sociology and economics to geography. The issues of growth are well known and there are policies in place to manage some aspects of “it’s just too many of you”. One major unresolved issue is how Global Warming affects the growth – or decline – in populations. An equally vital issue is the impact of population growth on emissions of greenhouse gases. The stream flows both ways.
Today’s world population of 6.6 billion may swell to 9 billion by 2050-2075 time frames. Most of the growth will be in the less developed countries. Estimates of sustainable population levels vary from 6 to 10 billion. Population forecasting has had their share of doomsday practitioners. Such dire outlooks have been, so far, embarrassingly off target like most disaster outlooks. That does not mean that we can ignore the impact of 6.6 billion people, growing quite rapidly.
While populations and Global Warming are the main subjects of this post, the scope is a bit wider. The world changed dramatically in the last 50 years. The rate of that change went off the chart. Complexity and interactions multiplied. We went from a small town society to a global hegemony. Issues previously unknown to the common man suddenly hit him in the face and the wallet.
It is not enough to only know the role of populations and emissions in Global Warming. The whole picture must be viewed, tackled, put in context and understood. Skeptics are right for the wrong reason when they say there is no such thing as Global Warming. Global Warming is just one of many factors that interact to create our future or lack thereof. The problem of smokestacks pouring out carbon dioxide must be viewed in light of what is happening in the world.
I’ll do what I can to make some sense out of this mess. That’s the goal of this huge multi part essay.
Tables of Contents and Other Stuff
This essay is split up in several individual posts. The following introduction simplifies navigation through the mass of material. If you have been following the series, you may (or not) want to skip right to the main content to avoid repetition. If so, hit the “Bypass” below. If you are new to the series, you may want to 1) start at the beginning of the series using this link: “Culprits, Scoundrels and Villains” or 2) check out the table of content and other explanations of what this is all about – just read on. The TOC button brings you to the essay’s Table of Contents.
About the Essay and Its Eight Main Parts
The essay is split into eight main posts due to its size. Click here for more details on each post.
- The first main post examines the basic reasons why we ended up in this dreadful mess.
- The second main post covers the political and UN scene.
- The third main post deals with rising temperatures.
- The “Sauerkraut” post dives into Europe and its mysteries.
- The fourth main post bares secrets about the forecasting business.
- The “Ann Coulter” post made some fun out of America’s favorite fascist.
- The “Bleakest Outlook Yet” previews the April 2007 UN IPCC Report
- The “Quick News” issue of 3-14-2007 updated you on British, EU and other news.
- The present fifth main post explains the issues due to rising populations.
- The sixth main post discloses public and not so public opinions on Global Warming
- The seventh main post looks at the very real effects of Global Warming already present.
- The eight main post explores possible outcomes: cure or disaster?
Additional posts cover special subjects, comments and news. The “Sauerkraut” post looks at Europe and its peculiar history of early tribes, wars and more wars, deceit, Fuehrers, Generalissimos, Emperors, Kings and Queens, imperialism, strange food, democracy and greed, finally ending up as the world’s largest market. The post looks at how all of that, more or less, relates to Global Warming. The post also evaluates, in detail, the recent EU proposal to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020.
I couldn’t resist doing a piece on Ann Coulter. She makes a splendid living out of out-chock-jocking Howard Stern, Bill O’Reilly, Geraldo, Moammar al-Ghadafi, Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Pat Robinson, Hugo Chavez, Baghdad Bob, Joseph Goebbels and Dick Cheney all at once. You gotta admire ignorant persistence and ambition. Doing anything for a buck, she certainly managed to become America’s favorite fascist. Why not?
The “Bleakest Outlook Yet” is precisely that. There is nothing fun about this preview of the next UN IPCC report “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”. These reports are getting more and more alarming which is truly scary. All prior reports have underestimated the impact of climate change.
The “Quick News” feature may become a regular service to keep us all up to date on recent news and to call the BS floating around.
An elaborate link and TOC (Table of Content) system helps you get around the mass of material in this essay of eight main posts. Use it to find what is of your most immediate interest. Just above, there is a TOC button that lets you enter the navigation system. Enjoy.
|Blog Home||Home Site||Portfolios|
- GlobalWarming:1 – Culprits, Scoundrels and Villains
- GlobalWarming:2 – Politics, Scandals, Mass Committees
- GlobalWarming:3 – Few Like It Hot
- GlobalWarming:Europe – Sauerkraut, Bourgogne, Bangers
- GlobalWarming:4 – Disastrous Disaster Forecasts
- GlobalWarming:Coulter – To Ann Coulter
- GlobalWarming:UN – The Bleakest Outlook Yet
- GlobalWarming:News – Quick News 3-14-2007
- This Post:GlobalWarming:5 – Just Too Many Of You
- Scene From a Classic
- Ode To An Ancient Past
- Fantasy and Reality
- Supply and Demand Reality Style
- Supply and Demand Global Warming Style
- Global Warming, Populations and Vice Versa
- Chant for the Confused
- How Many Will You Be?
- Aria for the Polar Bears
- Terrifyingly Scary Outlooks
- Disaster Outlooks UN Style
- Next and Previous
- GlobalWarming:6 – Lies, Madness and Some Truth
- GlobalWarming:7 – Terrifying Evidence
- GlobalWarming:8 – Cataclysmic Apocalypse?
Odes, Ballads, Songs and Arias
This essay contains real life mini stories. They describe usually small, even insignificant, effects of Global Warming. The aim is to make you consider reality, survival, pain and your own future. I cite simple stories about how some of us (humans, animals, plants, oceans and everything else) are already in, or cause, deep trouble. Here are links to the various little puzzle pieces:
- Allegro to “There Ain’t No Global Warming”
- Adagio to the Krill
- Mountain Top Chorale
- Tiger in Your Tank Two Step
- I Ain’t Seein’ Nuttin’ Strut
- Farming Greenland Fiesta
- Ballad of the Lemmings
- Carol to Failures
- Ode to an Ancient Past
- Chant for the Confused
- Aria for the Polar Bear
- Cacophony of a President
- Tale of the River
- Northeast Song
- Hymn to the North
- Parchment Míddjarn
- Eulogy for the Oceans
Images in this essay
The photos in this post are devoted to people, considering that is what makes up the somewhat abstract concept of “populations”. Most of the photos are from my own portfolios. I produced the factual graphs from my own databases which combine data from many sources into a reasonably complete and consistent set.
This blog, its design, text content (except quotes from others) and my own images and graphs are copyright © Leading Design, Inc 2006-2007. All Rights Reserved. I make absolutely no claims on images or quotes originating in other sources.
Let’s start with a mini story – The Ode to an Ancient Past. Researchers found a huge abnormality in Earth’s climate 55 million years ago. Temperatures soared related to a massive outpour of carbon gases. Here is the Ode to an Ancient Past:
The event (PETM) happened 55 million years ago. It was caused by a massive release of carbon, possibly from volcanic eruptions, massive fires, huge burps of methane gas or plant material. The greenhouse effect increased temperatures five to eight degrees Celsius for around 10,000 years. This has been known and researched for years.
The higher temperatures remained for the next 170,000 years. The North Pole weather was similar to that of today’s Florida. “If the climate was as insensitive to GHGs as the skeptics claim, there would be no way to make the Earth so warm for so long”.
The world’s ocean current system did a U-turn. Before the event, deep water up welled in the southern hemisphere; over about 40,000 years, the source of this up welling shifted to the northern hemisphere; it took another 100,000 years before recovering completely.
Ocean acidification likely caused a mass extinction of phytoplankton by reducing the availability of carbonate ions necessary for marine organisms to build calcium carbonate shells and exoskeletons.
There was ecological devastation, but new species rose from the ashes. Our ancient primate ancestors were winners (picture). The first true members of this group appeared virtually simultaneously in Asia, Europe and North America some 55 million years ago. The whole dispersal event happened within about 25,000 years. New research indicates that sudden, rapid global warming drove the dispersal.
In Wyoming, USA, animals such as giant horned bunnies arrived, the size of small elephants that eventually went extinct, but may be a close cousin of today’s rabbits. Other new species include ancestors of hoofed animals such as deer, pigs and camels, and a group that includes rhinos, tapirs and the dawn horse. Wyoming climate was sub-tropical at the time.
Our current carbon dioxide emissions are risking biological, chemical, and climate changes of a magnitude that has not been seen for more than 50 million years. We must develop the clean energy sources that can provide for economic growth and development without risking the natural world that is our endowment.
Isn’t it ironic that the last big Global Warming helped create mankind while the current version may make us extinct? The reason, of course, is that today’s humans, aka couch potatoes, are far less resilient than our forefathers. Who knows what might replace us, though. Will it be a new super species, if it comes to that bleak – for humans – stage? It appears spiders are quite resilient creatures. Are they the next rulers? Or will our luck keep up for a few more thousands of years?
Mankind evolved through three major phases. The first was the ancient inventions of hunting and associated tools. That sustained the early people for thousands of years. Then agriculture was discovered, leading to settlements and a lot more comforts. Finally, machines extended humans to produce seemingly endless goods, satisfying newly created demands and starting a race towards limitless standards of living. This development led to massive growth in populations. The growth in populations and technology led to Global Warming.
Realities were never considered in these “mammoth leaps forward”. The price of cultivating farm land was mainly sweat till fertilizers came along. The price of fishing was also mostly sweat and eventually fuel. The price of putting up and running a textile mill was building materials and then labor and raw materials at a cost that did not reflect eventual scarcities. If you thought supplies were indeed unlimited, why worry about depletion?
Artificially low prices created enormous imbalances relative to population growth. Raw materials were extracted and consumed without applying a price on its non renewable status. Waste products were produced and dumped without considering the cost of pollution. Farm lands and urbanization developed without accounting for the price of destroying long standing, sensitive ecosystems that make life possible. No charge was applied to filling the atmosphere with a deadly mix of warming and cooling gases, plain poisons, smog agents, ozone killers and no one knows what else.
Finally, two other major imbalances will affect our future. The first is the huge imbalance in incomes between less developed and industrial nations. The second is the differential in population growth; poor countries let their populations multiply while high income countries experience much lower growth or even declines. These two imbalances will create migration and social issues on an unprecedented scale.
The hidden laissez-faire problems piled up for thousands of years. Now, they caught up with us, seemingly without warning. The rate of change jumped way up. Trends oscillated from left to right, top to bottom. Suddenly, the whole world was visible to, and ruling, us all. Tensions multiplied. Raw materials showed signs of running out, pollution killed real folks, Global Cooling and Warming played hell with our fears.
In the 1960s, concerns about explosive growth in populations were on the agenda. Man entered space. Social upheavals were common. The Green movement was born. Civil rights became important. JFK establishes the Peace Corps. The Soviets crushed the Prague Spring. The French battled students and worker riots. Woodstock became a legend. Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Che Guevara and Malcolm X were all murdered. Mao’s Little Red Book quickly printed 600 million copies.
In the 1970s food supplies became an issue and pollution suddenly cost money. Greenpeace was founded. The Pill became commonly used. The 1970s also was the decennium of scarce oil and long waits at the gas stations. Suddenly the price of oil got close to its real value to the shock of a world. Nations went to war over fishery supplies. Intel’s first microprocessor hit the market. Pollution started to kill people in earnest. Aircraft hijacking mushroomed. Terrorism spread, in particular in industrial countries. The Munich Olympics Massacre became symbol of mindless killings. Elvis Presley allegedly died. Feminism took off. Gay rights became a movement.
In the 1980s, AIDS started killing millions. Most whaling was stopped. The Bhopal chemical leak killed 10,000. The world turned conservative led by Reaganomics and Thacherism. Perestroika, Glasnost and Tiananmen Square became household words. The Berlin Wall fell. The Ozone Holes were discovered. The Chernobyl reactor blew up. Exxon Valdez ran into a reef. The notion of Globalization was popularized. John Lennon was murdered, as were Indira Gandhi and Olof Palme. The Asian Tigers conquered their place in economic history books. The US stock market suffered its Black Monday. Political Correctness was required. El Nino started creating chaos.
In the 1990s, Global Warming popped up its ugly head in earnest. Politics moved left, yet capitalism flourished. The end of the Cold War reunified Germany. India and China started their meteoric ascent. Al Gore’s Internet connected the world as did PCs, CNN and cell phones. Much of Africa descended into civil wars. Genocides became an everyday word. Dolly the sheep was the first official clone. Genetically engineered crops went commercial. The EU was born out of EEC. Economies and dot coms boomed. Stock options and IPOs enriched a few. The Japanese bought most of Hollywood and others, eventually losing billions, ending their invincible air.
Today, in the mid to late first decade of the 2000s, we worry about extreme weather, pandemics, flooding, social security, hideous foreigners invading our lands, crazed but generally unknown or fictional terrorists killing our neighbors and whether gay marriage is OK or not. We remember Enron, WorldCom, dot coms, 9/11, a mystical War on Terror, the strangest US President ever diminishing the power of the US across the world and Toyotas and Hondas slaughtering Ford and GM.
If you think about it, perhaps you’ll see a pattern in the madness. These up and down events and problems were, and are, caused by the checks and balances present in any system being thrown out of sync. You have seen the graphs. Things were flat for a million years. Then by 1750, things started to head straight up, be it populations, industrial production, GNP, indoor plumbing, carbon fuels, emissions, concentrations, pollution, space travel, commuting, extinctions, milk prices and of course temperatures. By the 1960s, things caught up with us. Matters switched into overdrive. Ancient imbalances went critical and all hell broke loose. Who the heck are we to assume the old abuses would never have to be paid for?
Take North Atlantic cod fisheries as an example. Viewed as being of unlimited supply for over 1,000 years, cod was over fished as no price applied to depletion or management. Rising populations enjoyed great and cheap food. Then suddenly the demand/supply balance caught up with reality. The supply of cod went cold. The price of cod abruptly was infinite on many traditional, especially Canadian, fishing grounds. No matter what the price, the fish was no longer there. Fishermen lost their livelihood; in Canada alone 40,000.
Alaskan Pollack and other fishes became staples. But now the fisheries are more regulated. Some lessons were learnt. No longer is infinite supply assumed. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Grand Banks, Labrador and Newfoundland still lack cod after almost fifteen years. Russians are still over fishing the Barents Sea. North Sea cod fisheries are collapsing as you read this.
Other, more regulated cod fishing grounds are still thriving. Icelandic catches are strong. Of course, Iceland furiously defended their grounds in the Cod War of the 1970s. Little Iceland effectively defeated the Royal Navy of the British Isles. Many fishermen in Hull and other British ports suddenly lost their livelihoods.
I bet you didn’t think anyone could go to war over cod, did you? Especially since it produces the most hellishly bad testing item on earth – cod liver oil, given to children as punishment for their sins and occasional illnesses. Well, the war happened, but it really wasn’t much of a war. I don’t think anyone was actually hurt. Some damage was made to vessels in a series of close encounters between the brave lads of Iceland and the equally brave lads of England with everyone freezing their butts off in the icy waters off Iceland.
Yet, here is what happened:
- For ages, cod fisheries weren’t as good is in the past. Alarming to both Iceland with a whole economy depending on the ugly thing and England not ready to let go of Fish And Chips (Fish’n’Chips or Fish Supper), that long time staple of its cuisine.
- Then, the 1970s came along with an even more alarming outlook – the cod is disappearing! And the Icelanders saw the few remaining fish caught by vile foreigners. It was THEIR fish, damn it. So the Icelanders declared their fishing grounds extended out 200 miles from their coast line. No one was allowed fishing inside except the brave lads of Iceland.
- The British trawlers said, hell with you and proceeded to fish as if nothing had happened. Big mistake. The Icelanders called in their Navy, or Coast Guard as they call it, which is actually, at the time, four small patrol vessels each with one rather small gun. The Iceland Coast Guard is manned by no less than 150 brave lads and lasses.
- The Icelandic Coast Guard (motto: ,,Við erum til taks.‘‘ “We are ready.”) proceeded to the high seas and cut the trawler wires of the Enemy ships, causing severe economic setbacks and harm to the brave lads of Britain.
- The British, seeing their battered Cod dry up, had no choice but to send the mighty Royal Navy to the defense of its trawlers upon which everyone started ramming each other, resulting in damage to several ships. The 22 ship Royal Navy fleet almost but not quite sunk the patrol vessels of Iceland, who nevertheless continued cutting the British nets. Several shots were fired across the bow, mostly using blanks.
- By 1976, cooler minds prevailed, agreements were signed and peace was restored. And you should know, this is the THIRD cod war in the proud history of the Icelandic Islands. And that is not even counting the Cod War of 1893!
The point is that many species are over fished because management restrictions (“price”) have not been stringent, or real, enough. After 1,000s of years of no price at all on excessive fishing, reality caught up. The resource went essentially extinct. Without realistic prices, supply and demand will be out of sync. Some resources will head for depletion. Others will be under utilized.
Resources, such as food and energy, to support populations depend on four interrelated components: prices, raw material reserves, technology and productivity. Gains in the two last kept us alive for thousands of years. Understating the first component, prices, led to excessive and eventually unsustainable growth in the wrong areas since limits to the second factor, reserves, were never understood or considered. Combining low prices, innovation, seemingly abundant raw materials and plain hard work over the last thousand years led to populations growing by 2,000%.
With populations up 2,000% plus huge leaps in standards of living, many raw material reserves decline simply because we consume them. Earth is no bigger than a thousand years ago. Plenty of oil, gas and coal fields are already silent, depleted and forever abandoned. The capacity of air, oceans and biomass to store greenhouse gases is declining. There are limits to food productivity and farm lands, especially as Global Warming reduces arable acreage. Fresh water supplies are dwindling as glaciers disappear and too much is tapped. There is only so much coal and oil left in the ground. It takes 80 years to replace the tree cut down to print an Ann Coulter article. Too many of us labor in industries that do little to sustain life, such as – come to think of it – almost all industries.
What we want must be matched to what we can get and it isn’t. We must apply the true prices of supporting our tribe. We do not pay anywhere close to the real cost of children, air conditioning, food, SUVs, health care, Led Zeppelin albums and retirement or, as a matter of fact, simply existing. Prices are ridiculously understated. The price of emitting carbon gases into the air is not zero as is commonly assumed. The price of running out of oil or cod is not zero. Food prices do not reflect reduced farm land as climate changes. No one plans for the cost of famines or pandemics in “civilized” countries. Taxes do not cover the quite possible need to relocate entire cities as oceans rise. By understating prices, we spin out of control even with the most clever controls and policies aimed at unlimited growth. No DHS or similar emergency organizations have a clue how to deal with any of these issues.
Tragically, organizations such as EPA, CDC and numerous think tanks, universities and industries are quite aware of these problems yet do little to resolve them, perhaps to please a famously ignorant President. This ain’t rocket science. The solutions are well known. I mentioned four factors that support mankind. Let’s make that five – add the political will to do what is needed as a required component. That component is lacking in most parts of the world.
The price of driving a car must reflect the fact that the air needs to be cleaned of all the pollution caused by the chain from finding the oil, extracting and refining it to pouring it into your car and then driving along. We will have a problem as long as emissions are essentially a free bee. Of course, add the elusive environmental and social cost of building the car in the first place.
There is an urgency to reduce demand of dwindling resources through real prices. As it is, we simply keep depleting resources. The longer that continues, the higher the real prices become. When a resource is depleted, its price is infinite. Finding alternative sources to overcome depletion relies on a proper price formation. Too low prices means the alternatives aren’t developed and won’t be there when needed. Then true prices keep going up and at some point, we can’t afford them. The system breaks down. The growing population can no longer be supported. People die.
Many of us may not think of Global Warming as something tied to supply and demand, resources and pricing. All we do is dump these gases into the atmosphere and forget about them. That of course is a bit naive. Such actions have consequences that are quite complex. Supply and demand theory is a way to reduce that complexity.
Greenhouse gases are both a user of resources and a supplier of other resources. Greenhouse gases uses resources such as carbon storages or sinks. Oceans, the atmosphere and biomass provide such storage. The storages today contain many teratonnes of carbon. There are also the potential of man made storages in depleted oil and gas fields.
Greenhouse gases are resources themselves. Many of these gases are used in industry, for instance. Quite importantly, mankind needs a certain level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere or we would rapidly freeze to death. But too high concentrations will cause all the problems and eventual catastrophe of Global Warming.
On the supply side we have all the processes, natural or man made, that result in the emissions into air. On the demand side we have storages and processes that attempt to balance the supply in a natural manner. This balancing act is really a chemical/biological/environmental issue where “prices” in the normal sense really don’t have much impact. So far, that is.
But there is another layer to the supply/demand equation related to why greenhouse gases end up in the air. Partly, we depend on natural phenomena which we can do little about. Then we deal with the part we can control and there the control mechanism is applying proper prices.
On the natural side, as an example, the most prominent and powerful GHG is humidity in the atmosphere. Increase the humidity and temperatures go up. Such an increase may be caused by increased evaporation from oceans which in turn may be caused by man made emissions of GHGs. But evaporation and humidity are not controlled by humans and attaching a price to such processes is not productive or even possible.
On the other hand, humans allow a very large share of emissions of GHGs by running industries, pursuing deforestation and so on. That is part of the supply of greenhouse gases and is definitely sensitive to pricing. Historically, the price of emissions was zero which put us in this spot in the first place. It never should have been zero and it cannot continue to be zero.
Kyoto style CERs and EU Allowances put a price of sorts on some emissions. The CERs in particular have too many loopholes to be a real pricing mechanism. Allowances gyrate wildly in actual prices on the market and are not exactly good measures of long term equilibrium prices. What exists as a pricing mechanism today is immature, volatile and cannot be used as justification for investment. Politicians – do something to support stable prices. That is how you beat the devil.
Natural GHG sources
Other natural processes
Manmade GHG sources
Other natural processes
Not carbon driven
Not carbon driven
Neither the natural supply of GHGs, nor the natural demand, is subject to pricing. No matter what humans might be willing to pay, natural sinks will not increase, nor will natural emissions decrease. Bioengineering might impact the demand side at some point and is clearly subject to price effects.
The supply of manmade GHG emissions is clearly very strongly subject to pricing. A high price, through taxes, CERs or allowances, would reduce emissions. The technology of manmade sinks is well established and it is just a matter of pricing to make such deposits real. Bioengineering could also be a price driven demand factor.
Substitute energy sources are well established technologies held back by artificially low carbon fuel prices as well as a multitude of national policies. Nuclear energy, for instance, is subject to restrictions in almost all countries. Solar and wind power are subject to weather patterns. Forestry and biomass based energy is subject to availability.
The impact on Global Warming from populations is not a common subject in the many discussions on Global Warming. It generally is not quoted as an important cause of Global Warming. Usually, the discussion is focused on the dire effects of Global Warming on populations such as migration, famines and water shortages. There are exceptions to this rule; Greenpeace, for instance, provides a more general view that does account for the age old issue of the explosion in populations across the globe.
Every one wants a good life, whether a farmer in India, an industrial worker in China, a soldier in North Korea, a game warden in Africa, a former Communist in Bulgaria, the guy next door or even myself, come to think of it. Not only is standard of living important to us, we insist on multiplying, thereby creating more individuals demanding a decent standard. In some areas – Europe and Russia in particular – is that fertility urge somewhat controlled but in most areas it is not. China makes a big deal out of their one child policy but data does not support their claims. High standards of living and a couple of children are really the two factors that motivate most of us. Very few are prepared to give that up – most understandably so.
This incessant desire for growth inevitably results in ever more carbon emissions as long as history is allowed to repeat itself. That truly is the death trap, which leaves us with four possibilities; 1) do not make children; 2) reduce living standards; 3) reduce emissions or 4) become extinct. Take your pick.
One way to look at it: there is no need to take a pick. It will be made for us. As Global Warming continues unabated, there will simply be a natural selection. Many will die, which eventually reduces emissions. Some will survive; making ends meet one way or another. Good old Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory still is relevant.
Population growth as a cause of Global Warming is one of its most frightening and difficult aspects. The danger is not population growth per se (in our context), but the closely associated demand for ever more carbon based energy and goods in general. Simply look at the very long term graph below showing populations and emissions going back over 2,000 years.
The graph above shows the explosion in world populations from around 1750 and on, coinciding roughly with industrialization. Prior to 1750, populations rose quite slowly, going all the way back to the year 0. Emissions of GHGs were flat and largely insignificant prior to the late 1700s, then they exploded as more and more mills and factories were built.
The big population question, of course, is how much can the world provide for these masses on a sustained basis? What can it do to neutralize the horrifying waste products generated? With the curve going practically straight up, how many people can be fed? Most of the population growth is in less developed areas while most industrial nations are stabilizing or, in some cases, already declining. How will this disparity be managed; the growth in labor supply is in one set of countries while the demand is in areas far away, both geographically and culturally.
Let’s go one more analytical step. The graph below shows the World and the US population data using a logarithmic vertical scale. If you are not familiar with such math, a log scale means a small number looks a lot bigger and large numbers look smaller than with the linear scale used in the previous graph. A straight line indicates that the growth rate is stable. An upward curving line means that the growth rate is going up. That is a very bad news in our case. If the line curves towards flat the rate of increase is moderating, a good sign. If the line is flat, neither going up nor down, then the growth rate is zero – a major step forward in our case. If the line actually turns downwards, then the rate growth rate is negative. That would be excellent news.
What is that dramatic drop in US populations (brown area)? In 1492 Christopher Columbus arrived to the New World or, in his mistaken opinion, India. Others followed. The indigenous population was partly slaughtered by the invaders’ superior weapons. Even more deadly, the invaders brought smallpox. Yellow fever, whopping cough, alcohol, typhus, influenza, measles, bubonic plague, mumps and what have you. These illnesses utterly decimated the Native Americans, a process that is still going on today.
Beyond this historical tragedy, there is a lesson to be learned. Changing circumstances can bring extreme consequences very rapidly. The Native American democide is one case. The influenza of 1919 and the Black Death of Europe are additional examples. Will Global Warming cause similar massive disasters? No one knows, of course, as we are far beyond any comparable situation. But, without being an alarmist, it is possible and should be considered in contingency planning. Unfortunately, no such planning exists to my knowledge.
Let’s examine the graph’s tail-end. The World population line curves upwards: the rate of growth increases. That is bad news, making it difficult to control GHG emissions since most of this growth is in unregulated less developed countries. The US growth rate is declining slightly. The US is unique among developed countries – most others have much lower growth rates, some even experience declining populations.
Anytime you look at populations and related events, one inescapable fact is important. A person born today will most likely be around in 60-70-80 years, depending on his/her heritage. This carries a built in inertia that is very hard to overcome since most of us resist change, in particular for the perceived worst. Changing human behavior is much harder than changing the look of a car, a toaster or the views of a politician (except Bush). All solutions to Global Warming involve changing human behavior, expectations and overcoming inertia. The inertia problem is even tougher considering the window of opportunity to avoid the horrendous consequences of Global Warming is no longer than a few years at best, not 70 years.
Yet such change is not impossible. Consider the revolution of the Internet in less than a decade. Remember how PCs conquered the World in just a decade or two. Check out (as we will) the success of the US Clean Air Act. Note how AIDS was quite successfully battled in the developed World (while leaving the rest of the World dying). Look at the almost extinct measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, polio, infant mortality, smallpox, plague, diphtheria and tuberculosis, ignoring for the moment the reoccurrence of strands resistant to prior cures.
Such changes required clear and inquisitive minds, dedication to truth/science and the willingness to try something new. Unfortunately, such an attitude is usually limited to the abstract technical and scientific world. Most of us do not live in that clean world. Witness the almost total, mindless inertia of Shias versus Sunnis, Soccer hooligans team by team, Pro-life versus Pro-choice, Evolution versus Creation, Us versus Foreigners, Oprah versus Letterman, Suns versus Spurs, Gay marriages or not, Global Warming or not, Right to Die or not, Democrats versus Republicans, Bush versus 6.5 billion others, Pot versus Booze, Crime versus Justice, SUVs versus Minis, NRA versus Sanity or, finally, Men versus Women.
The graph below shows the growth rates of populations and carbon emissions. Moreover, it shows the part of emissions associated with population growth (Emissions per Capita) and the balance, technology. Growth in populations accounted for 2/3 of the growth in emissions. The technology factor made up the remaining 1/3 of emissions.
Populations and made carbon emissions were low or almost flat prior to 1750-1800, then they mushroomed. People found cheap sources of energy for the new factories, keeping warm and other uses. That led to an incredible rise in standards of living and allowed populations to multiply quickly. The cheap energy was mostly carbon based: coal and oil. Major carbon emissions followed.
In the battle of Global Warming skeptics and believers, skeptics often claim Global Warming is just a natural cycle, thus nothing us humans need to worry about. The believers take the opposite tack, pointing out that emissions are completely outside any historical range. The many graphs in this essay totally debunk the skeptics’ argument. There have never been as many energy dependent people on this Earth before. Today’s population over 20 times that of a thousand years ago. Man made emissions today are without parallel, or some 17,000 times those a thousand years ago. Prior to the early 1800s, neither population size nor pollution was all that significant in the global survival equation. There is no way to make that claim today.
The human simple and natural desires to breed and improve the comforts of life led to an unsustainable situation, far outside any historical norm. Any logic would tell you such drastic change will backfire at some point. All evidence indicates that point has been reached and that the consequences will be painful, if not lethal.
How can such natural and understandable desires lead to possible extinction? Well, look closer. The explosion in population is due to many “non natural” factors. These factors allowed the population to expand far beyond historical rates. The increase in living standards is a man made phenomena which rests on a “borrow from the future” attitude. Consider:
- Health care advances dramatically reduce infant death and extend life. Miracle drugs combat disease. Some of us even live healthy life styles. As more of us live longer, we force more carbon into the air.
- Almost all of us are fed royally by agricultural and fisheries productivity such as fertilization and various ways to alter species. Manipulating the environment is a risky long term route.
- Many of us have marvelous man made shelters, heated or cooled, with indoor water, electricity and plumbing, allowing us to comfortably survive in harsh environments at the expense of huge amounts of carbon emissions.
- We enjoy man made innovations in most aspects of life: freedom, security, money, jobs, water/highway/air/rail transportation, postal and many other services, phones and iPods. Even iPods cause greenhouse effects.
- We endlessly consume resources, many non replaceable. Miraculously, our garbage and human waste disappears. Astonishingly, lights come on by flipping a switch. Somehow, stores are stocked with far more than anyone needs. That convenience comes at a very high price few of us consider or care about.
On the bleak side, today we experience a second wave of carbon emissions. The first wave was industrialization of the developed countries which is now maturing. The frantic race for ever higher living standards may be moderating a little. The heavy reliance of carbon energy is slowly, very slowly replaced by alternative albeit expensive sources – solar, wind, water, perhaps nuclear and non carbon biomass energy. Technology such as energy conservation, hybrid cars, improved appliances and industrial measures gain ground.
Now, the second wave sets in. Less developed areas want the same standard of living they see personally, on television and in movies from the “West”. Some countries are quite successful in achieving massive growth. The Asian Tigers, China, India, Russia, South Africa, Latin America and some others are all good examples. After hundreds of years of abuse, carbon based energy is still the cheap way to quickly increase standards of living. Carbon emissions in, say, China and India are now out of control and without limits as is, by the way, the case in the US under the policies of George W. Bush.
Pollution control is a much lower priority in too many minds: “Spend your future today”. We have all seen pictures, some right here, of the smog filled skies over smoke pouring stacks with people clad in mouth masks coughing and hurrying along, tears streaming from their inflamed eyes. Somewhere the path to higher standards of living went very wrong but that seems not to diminish the dreams at all. So the emissions and pollution continue at an ever increasing rate with a high price to humans, ecosystems and our collective future.
You really deal with two issues. First, these “less” developed areas are the source of almost all growth in populations, putting heavy upwards pressure on their carbon based energy use. Second, each and every of these individuals wants to improve his/her lot. The energy spiral continues.
How do you tell such countries to stop their quest for a more comfortable life a la the West? How do you tell them they can’t have what the guys on the other side of tracks have? The solution according to the Kyoto Protocol is to let a few Western countries pay billions in carbon emission credits – subsidies really – for marginal and largely non-measurable improvements as these countries continue to pollute. The CER approach is inequitable, corrupt and will never solve the problem. So the original problem persists.
On a bizarre side note, the less developed world in their understandable desire for air conditioning is actually doing us a “favor”. They produce and use millions of cheap, Freon leaking air conditioners. Freon is a cooling gas, reducing the ozone layer. Unfortunately, a reduced ozone layer causes all kinds of health hazards, but nice try.
As is my habit, I add a few practical items I call hymns, odes, songs, tales and so forth. The purpose is to demonstrate in concrete terms little and some not so little events going on in the present. None of the events, by them selves, destroy the whole world or are even noticed by most. But these little stories add up to show something very strange (to some) is indeed happening. Here is the “Chant for the Confused” animals, plants and insects (Source: here):
Bears have stopped hibernating in the mountains of northern Spain in what may be one of the strongest signals yet of how much climate change is affecting the natural world. Spanish meteorologists predict that this year is likely to be the warmest year on record in Spain, similar to the UK.
The osprey found in the lochs and glens of the Scottish Highlands in the summer months usually migrate to West Africa to avoid the freeze. This winter, ospreys have been spotted in Suffolk and Devon. Swallows, which also normally migrate to Africa for the winter, have been also seen across England this winter.
The red admiral butterfly which hibernates in winter has been spotted in gardens this month, as has the common darter dragonfly, usually seen between mid-June and October, which has been seen in Cheshire, Norfolk and Hampshire.
The smew, a diving duck, flies west to the UK for winter from Russia and Scandinavia. This year, though, they have been mainly absent from the lakes and reservoirs between The Wash and the Severn.
Evergreen ivy and ox-eye daisies are still blooming and some oak trees, which are usually bare by November, were still in leaf on Christmas Day last year.
The buff-tailed bumblebee is usually first seen in spring. Worker bees die out by the first frost, while fertilized queen bees survive underground between March and September. This December, bees have been seen in Nottingham and York.
Primroses and daffodils are already flowering at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, in Carmarthenshire. ‘Early Sensation’ daffodils usually flower from January until February. Horticulturists put it down to the warm weather.
In the Netherlands, more than 240 wild plants flowered in the first 15 days of December, along with more than 200 cultivated species. Examples included cow parsley and sweet violets. Just two per cent of these plants normally flower in winter, while 27 per cent end their main flowering period in autumn and 56 per cent before October.
Personally, I’ve never heard of Spanish bears, glens from the Scottish Highlands, Rear Admiral Butterflies, smews, ox-eye daisies, buff-tailed bumblebees or cow parsley. None seem to make much difference in my life. The elusive sleep of some bears or who is flying where and when seems non critical to me. Maybe you think the same. On the other hand, do look around you, wherever you are. In all probability, something similar is happening in your corner of the world. If not, it will be. That’s what the hymns, tales, odes and chants are all about. Look around you.
Population growth is where no one advocates the “Do Nothing” scenario. If you extrapolate the growth in world population in the 1960-1990 periods from today’s 6.6 billion level, then by 2050 there will be 13 billion of us on Earth. That will not happen, given widely accepted views. If it does, billions of us will be very hungry and probably dangerously angry. There are no resources available to sustain twice as many of you.
Growth declined in the 1990s and early 2000s. Reasonable estimates for 2050 are around 8.5-9 billion. So there is a shortfall between the “Do Nothing” outlook and the more realistic outlooks of over 4 billion people. That is the result of allowing patterns that break with historical trends – growth is reduced by almost 60% through assumed pro activity and plain economics. The UN even projects declining world populations in the last half of this century.
In spite of very sophisticated forecast models, actual population in 2050 is really anyone’s guess. But the probability of the 8.5-9 billion estimates is pretty high. Demographics benefit from a unique feature – around half of that population is already born today. That is not a forecast but a stabilizing fact assuming no catastrophe such as pandemics spreading uncontrollably, meteors hitting us or all out nuclear war happens. This inertia helps the accuracy of the forecasts.
Here are the components considered in a population forecast: The current population, its age and gender status is Item #1. The base forecast follows the individuals, grouped by age, gender and possibly other demographics, for as long as possible into the future. We all get one year older each year. Eventually we meet our fate and become part of the mortality rate. Before we reach this stage, most of us have reproduced which is accounted for by the fertility rate. Thus we get little persons that enter the forecast cycle like every one else. The last major item is net immigration which usually considers both legal and illegal comings and goings. A good thing is that net immigration so far equals zero on a world wide level. Many forecasting systems consider far more factors and provide extremely detailed forecasts almost down to a neighborhood block.
The graph below contains examples of basic demographics in a few areas. Contrast life in Japan to that in Swaziland. Swaziland life expectancy is 33 years compared to 82 years in Japan. That’s the price of being poor.
The current population and its structure are mostly very well known facts. Not much uncertainty there. Both the fertility and the mortality rates are thoroughly studied and usually changes slowly, with some exceptions. Wars, famine, HIV, bird flu, leaders such as Kim Jong-Il and George W. Bush are examples of potentially fast moving exceptions. The slower moving influences on fertility include women in working life, economics of having a child (costly), government incentives and disincentives, lower marriage rates and higher divorce rates, contraceptives and abortions. A long term change in mortality is influenced by health factors, economics and environmental trends.
Let’s take a look at forecasted population growth, by Groups of demographic similarities:
Group 1 includes pre industrial societies and applies only to the poorest on Earth. These countries have a high birth rate but low life expectance. These countries will see a high population growth in the 1-50 age brackets but will be plagued by a multitude of health issues, including starvation, malaria and violence. Swaziland belongs in this category (see graph above).
Group 2 examples include Nigeria, Kenya and Bangladesh. All see very high birth rates coupled with better health care and an increasing life expectancy. Many less developed nations fall into this group. Overall, the largest part of Earth’s increase in population will be seen here.
Groups 3 and 4 include most industrial countries: they see or will see a zero growth population in the foreseeable future. Most of Western Europe fits in this group. Russia suffer declining population, partly due to health issues (oh, that vodka). China, Brazil and India are aiming for zero population growth, largely using birth control (China’s one child policy, so far a failure). Other countries see urbanization, women in the work force, contraception and the price of raising a child. South Korea, Malaysia and South Africa are members of this group.
Group 5 is the ultimate step. These countries are post industrial with an emphasis on services and information technology. Sweden, Germany and Italy are entering this group. They will experience declining populations due to low birth rates and an aging population.
About a few myths: Abortion plays a very minor role: about 0.7% of all pregnancies end in abortion, reducing world population growth by about 0.001% annually. Infant mortality, on the other hand, affects about 8% of births world wide, ranging from 19% in Angola to 0.2% in Sweden and Singapore. Infant mortality world wide is more than 10 times as mortal a factor as abortions. HIV deaths are declining in developed countries. In 2005 about 2.8 million died and, since 1981, some 25 million perished. Traffic accidents claim 1.2 million lives annually. All of the preceding causes of death are minor compared to heart disease and cancer, accounting for close to half of all deaths.
Forecasting increased life expectation is next to impossible. There is no way to determine when a cure for heart disease or cancer is available globally, much less in St. Louis, USA. All you can do is guess based on historical events and, here we go again, extrapolate into the future. What about biotech – once so promising? Will Michael J. Fox (and many others) win over some politicians to accelerate cell stem research? If so, will it actually be the expected break-through? Will Bill Gates’ and William Buffet’s massive philanthropy succeed where so many major organizations have failed? No one knows.
To the right is a graph of US life expectancy. It shows a nice, smooth, steady trend since the 1930s. Why wouldn’t that continue for the foreseeable future? Well, it might. As long as Mad Cow Disease, Nile River mosquitoes, Bird Flu, new HIV strands, Ebola, re surging smallpox and tuberculosis, the declining effectiveness of many antibiotics plus a host of unforeseen medical problems will have no effect. You’d assume nuclear proliferation would be harmless. You’d ignore much of what this essay is describing, including the upcoming issue of global warming.
There is no reason to expect history to be much help when you attempt to see into the future. You may be optimistic or pessimistic – it makes no difference. In neither case do you actually know. That does not mean we are totally clueless. Historically, the pattern is clear: we are getting older, bigger and smarter. Life expectancy is up. Why shouldn’t that continue? You haven’t been paying attention, have you? NEVER assume history will repeat itself. We are not only getting bigger, we are getting fatter, less ambulatory and more receptive to a host of diseases.
Let’s turn to birth rates and infant survivability probabilities. There are essentially three groups of nations – largely similar to the Groups above. The first group will experience high growth in spite of high infant mortality and dismal medical facilities. HIV will also add to mortality. Even so, the lack of family planning such as contraceptives will result in these nations causing practically all of Earth’s increase in population. These countries have population growth rates ranging from 1+% to 8% per year, averaging some 3-4%.
The next segment consists of countries that would have a high growth rate, because of high birth rates, unless they had not taken strong measures. China (one child or else) and India (contraceptives or else) are the prime examples. After all, together they account for almost 20% of the world’s population. Still, both countries have growing populations – India 1.4% and China 0.6% per year. Extrapolate that till 2055 will lead to aver 3 billion people compared to 2.4 today. That might mean they’d account for a mind-boggling 35% of the Earth’s population, up from 20%. I sure hope that will never happen – it’d be a major risk to all of us.
Then we have third group – that of the industrial countries:
- The US has a population of 300 million, growing at a rate of .9%. Only Australia, New Zealand and Canada have higher rates of .9-1.0% among industrial nations.
- Compare that with slow growers such as the Netherlands .5%, Norway .4%, Denmark .4%, Sweden .3%, France .3%, UK .2%, Japan .2%, Switzerland .2%, Finland .2%, Spain .1%, Austria .1%, Belgium .1%.
- Then there are the stagnant or declining nations: Poland, 0%, Germany 0%, Portugal -.1%, Hungary -.2%, Romania -.2%, Russia – .3%, Ukraine – .6% and Estonia – .9%.
Eye balling the growth rates into five groups group:
- Less developed countries – about 3.5% population growth and 3 billion people today
- The China and India mammoths – about 1% growth and 2.4 billion people today
- North America (ex-Mexico) and Australia, New Zealand – about .9% growth and about 360 million people today
- Western Europe – about .2% growth and some 370 million people today
- Eastern Europe and Russia – about -.4% and roughly 230 million people today
First, we have the less developed countries with huge increases in populations. This is a large supply of labor coming on stream. Unfortunately, these countries do not generally possess the resources to utilize or even support such a huge, mostly unskilled labor force.
Then we have the middle block – China, India, North America and Oceania – that have growing populations and thus at least a start on the supply of labor. They certainly have the opportunity to continue the high economic growth already in place. China is most likely self sufficient in labor, India may for some time have a surplus as its economic growth accelerates. North America may or may not have a demand for additional labor, depending on supply and productivity. Of course, the US is a very desirable immigration target and can easily import selected labor as needed.
But consider Europe and its no-growth and aging population. Labor will be scarce. Europe’s only internal source for growth is productivity which goes only so far. Europe has imported labor for ages (did you really think that BMW was built by Germans?). The traditional labor sources of the Balkans and Turkey will not be able or willing to continue exporting their people to a cold and discriminating Northern Europe.
When Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe truly get going – and that will happen – you will see a labor shortage develop on a magnificent scale. And the only significant, untapped source of labor will be located in those less developed countries, mostly Africa. A second round of slave trade, anyone?
Net immigration of labor has worked fine in many cases, both in Europe, the US and elsewhere. Still, net immigration is an emotion laden subject. Two factors are important. First, immigration is generally viewed by the receiving country as uncomfortable at best, concern in the middle ground and downright violence at its worst. Second, the next generation of mobile labor may not be as skilled as the prior generation but a lot more militant.
Here is a map showing immigration/emigration trends across the globe (Source Wikipedia):
Mexicans and Caribbean move to the US, Eastern Europeans move to Western Europe, Greenlanders sadly move who knows where (Denmark?). Most of Asia and the Middle East lose people. It is hard to understand why Russia, Siberia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Angola and Namibia are net immigration areas. American and European computer programmers face stiff competition from highly educated, imported Indians and Chinese. Many Americans are upset Mexicans and others cross the borders to do jobs few Americans would dream of taking. Similar tensions are present in all labor importing areas.
Generally, the less developed areas close to the equator migrate north or south to more economically attractive areas such as Europe, Australia, Argentina and North America. In broad terms: Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin and Central America and Africa supply people to North America, Western Europe, Oceania and perhaps Russia. Legal US immigration is tightly regulated as are those of Canada, Australia and Europe.
Naturally, labor importers want highly qualified workers. Outside of the industrial world, the main sources of such skills are in India and China. More and more high tech Indians choose stay in India as places like Bangalore become very attractive compared to an aging Silicon Valley or a stuffy Europe. China’s internal growth requires their talents to stay at home rather than emigrate on a mass scale to Stuttgart, Nantes, Copenhagen, Zurich, Manchester or Hamburg – or for that matter, Chicago, Wichita, Toronto or San Diego. Migration of highly skilled labor is not truly critical. The current trend of outsourcing, not migrating, high tech jobs will likely prevail.
The high tech workers in strong demand cannot be supplied from the poor countries. Instead, these mainly equatorial countries have a huge surplus of unskilled labor. This is where we may face a major social issue as their populations continue to explode resulting in an ever growing unskilled labor surplus.
Most post-industrialized countries cannot accept massive inflows of a low-skill, possibly hostile labor force out of mainly Africa. Such an inflow invokes high costs for health care, social benefits, housing, schooling and numerous subsidies. Will social tensions be as bad or worse as they are today and have been in the past? Can the imported labor achieve the expected productivity? Assimilating “guest workers” requires real patience, sensitivity and foresight from both the host country and its people and the immigrants.
Consider the magnitude of the imbalance:
- Countries with surplus labor: 3 billion people. This includes most of the poorest countries.
- Countries more or less neutral on imported or exported labor: 2.8 billion people. Main countries are the fast growing countries of Asia.
- Countries clearly needing labor resources: 750 million people. This includes Western Europe and Australia and North America.
Say the surplus countries desire to export 5% of their population due to lack of domestic employment. That amounts to a 150 million laborer supply. Suppose the labor importers need to increase the labor supply by 5% of their population to reduce their labor shortage – that amounts to a 38 million demand.
In short: perhaps a 160 million labor supply, possibly a 38 million demand. Add the imbalance of skills available and skills wanted. It seems clear there will be a low end buyer’s market and a high end seller’s market. Very significant labor surpluses will continue in the less developed countries.
To make things even worse, Global Warming will force a migration northwards throughout the Northern Hemisphere and the reverse south of the equator simply because of a similar migration of food supplies and life supporting ecosystems including fresh water. Look at a map of Africa. Suppose the citizens of Congo, Nigeria, Gabon, Cameroon and Kenya are forced to migrate, say, north. Where is the next stop? It’s not likely to be inhospitable countries of Chad, Niger, Sudan or the Sahara desert. Maybe they will not be welcome in Arab states such as Libya, Algeria or Egypt which will have problems of their own. The next stop is Europe that may already be chockfull of imported labor, refugees and illegal immigrants.
Combine all these forces and you have a very volatile situation with a potential for massive social unrest, including wars. There are no easy solutions. What started out as a seemingly innocent difference in basic demographics with a somewhat higher population growth in poor countries suddenly is a potentially catastrophic issue. Will such a catastrophe happen? I certainly hope not. But the possibility is there and should be thought about.
The importation of illegal Mexican labor is probably the most successful labor program ever. Unfortunately, it is viewed differently by a vocal segment of American citizens and its retarded government. The program is peaceful and subject to supply and demand. It carries real financial advantages. It is productive, flexible and non-union. What else can a Capitalist desire? So let’s flip/flop the logic and build a fence to keep them out. Let’s harass them, spending billions of dollars. Let’s force them to face deadly dangers. Let’s use them as shooting targets. But, by God, let’s not lower ourselves to do the kind of work they do for us.
In the US, gun toting vigilant red blooded Americans patrol the Southern border, “helping out”. Some US Congressmen hold quite radical views on how to deal with illegal or even legal immigrants. Building a fence a la the Berlin Wall (in reverse) or that in Israel is by no means the only suggestions. Organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Americans for Immigration Control people are not exactly in favor of immigration and stand ready for extreme measures.
This is by a country that is built from the ground by immigrants (not ignoring the contributions of the ingenious population that was almost exterminated). If the US cannot resolve no-brain immigration issues, how are countries less experienced expected to handle it?
You might also consider the importation by some countries of AMERICANS to do their dirty work. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other regional kingdoms are the prime examples. To many Saudis, ordinary work is not compatible with their way of life. After all, who’s got the oil? Practically all labor (العمال المهاجرون) is imported from a variety of countries. Of course, there are no social tensions involved. Such tensions are outlawed and subject to stiff penalties. Forget about human rights, dating or having a drink. Accept living in specially designed ghettos. Please do not be female or, gasp, gay. Realize you are a dirty dog and an infidel of no value. Extend every courtesy to your masters although you will receive none in return. Of course the money is good. You may be able to send some home to your ailing mother in that little, backwards village in Omaha.
Now read that last paragraph again. Substitute a few names and you might understand the feelings of imported labor to ANY country a bit better. Immigration and an internationally mobile work force require sensitivity beyond any normal call of duty. How well do you think the possible forced mass migration of the future will work?
Like the US, the people of Canada are mostly made up by immigrants. Here are comments on a very recent report the 2006 Census from Statistics Canada:
- Two-thirds of Canada’s population growth over the past five years was fueled by immigrants. The country will become 100 per cent dependent on immigration for growth by 2030, when the peak of the baby boomers born in the 1950s and early ‘60s reach the end of their life spans.
- Thank immigration for Canada’s relatively robust growth. An average 240,000 newcomers per year more than compensated for the country’s flat fertility rate of 1.5 compared to the 2.1 required to maintain a flat population. Canada can weather the demographic storm if it successfully integrates its huge migrant population.
- “We’re heading towards a point where immigration will be the only source of growth in Canada”, according to Laurent Martel, a Statistics Canada analyst. “You’re going to see an increase in the number of deaths in Canada and the number of deaths will exceed the number of births — so natural increase will become negative”, he continued.
- A demographic squeeze faces much of the developed world. Among G8 countries, only the U.S. at 5.0 per cent approaches Canada’s growth rate. France grew 3.1 per cent, Britain 1.9 per cent, Japan near zero and Russia shrank 2.4 per cent over the same five-year period.
- Canada’s net migration, per capita, is among the highest in the world or 6.5 migrants per 1,000 populations. Australia, another immigration juggernaut, allows 6.2 migrants per 1,000. USA lets in 4.4 immigrants per 1000 but its fertility rate is 25% higher than Canada’s.
Canada recognizes the issues of immigration but the path is not a simple one:
- Candidate Christian Raymond for the ADQ in the Quebec provincial election was dumped by his party on the weekend after telling a weekly newspaper that native Quebecers need to “boost their birth rate, otherwise the ethnics will swamp us. If they [the ethnics] don’t want to conform, they can just go back home. I say to them: You’re not at home here, you’re visiting.”
- Michael Bloom, a vice-president with the Conference Board of Canada, says Canada’s policy makers need to get their heads around a potentially explosive trend, both economically and socially. “We have not strategically thought through how we should manage our largest single source of population for net growth,” Bloom said in an interview.
- For a country like Canada, the political vacuum is curious. Bloom continued: “It is a charged atmosphere in which competing interest groups look with suspicion on the motivations of policy makers. They’re looking for a challenge almost the moment anybody says anything. I think that’s the environment we have right now. So creating a safe context for discussing the issues without people immediately assuming you have a hidden agenda is the challenge. And I’m not sure how to resolve that challenge.”
Best of luck to Canada, the probably sanest and most peaceful nation on earth, eh? So you may think but consider the following list of no less than ten riots in 159 years resulting in 5 deaths and a few hundred injuries. In the US, there were 139 riots in 219 years which boils down to about ten times as many as in Canada. My goodness, no less than 40% of the Canadian riots involved either the Quebecois or ice hockey (or both). Peace was generally restored quickly:
The Stony Monday Riot of 1849 (No known injuries. Peace was quickly restored), the Conscription Crisis of 1917 (them Quebecois making trouble as usual but no known injuries, peace was quickly restored), Bloody Saturday of 1919 (Labor union troubles resulting in 2 deaths and 30 injured. Peace was restored), the Christie Pits Race Riots of 1933 (Fascist/Racist issue. One person charged for carrying a lead pipe), the Regina Riot of 1935 (Depression condition issues. 2 killed and hundreds of injuries), The Richard Riot of 1955 (Suspension of hockey star, them Quebecois making trouble as usual, 37 injuries), the Sir George Williams Computer Riot of 1969 (Student revolt, several million computer punch cards dumped on street are the only known casualties. Peace was restored), the 1969 Murray-Hill Riot (them Quebecois making trouble as usual: Disgruntled taxi drivers. One dead), the 1994 Stanley Cup Riot (Canucks lost to the Rangers, some 200 injuries) and, finally, the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the America’s Riot (Trade negotiations, anti-globalization demonstrations, some injuries).
Settling in any province except Quebec and staying away from hockey games should ensure the safety of most immigrants, eh?
Here is the current German and French view on labor shortages. Source: NYT 3/10/2007.
Ms. Corinne Margot, the director of human resources for Soitech, a fast-growing French manufacturer of semiconductors, is reaching deep into her bag of tricks to find new employees. She is bringing in people from outside France — indeed, outside Europe — to plug the gaps.
The scarcity of qualified labor is already hitting the bottom lines in the major economies, and companies like Soitech seem sure to follow in the footsteps of companies that have been forced to forsake sales opportunities.
Moving jobs offshore is another alternative. The SMS Group has found itself weighing whether to move parts of the business to its operations in China, India, the United States and Brazil.
Klaus Kleinfeld, chief executive of Siemens, said that it had 2,500 positions open in Germany alone. Over the last year, the shortage has become acute enough that Siemens has begun bringing employees out of retirement to work on specific projects. “Our growth rate is now mostly limited by our human resources capacity,” Mr. Kleinfeld said.
Recruiting more people from outside Europe is another persistent theme. At Soitech, there has been an explosion in the number of nationalities represented over the last few years, from a handful to at least 19 today. “We are beginning to recruit on an international market rather than a French market,” Ms. Margot, the personnel chief, said.
For recruiting departments around Europe, 2007 could be the worst year in memory. This cyclical upswing in Europe is accentuating labor bottlenecks. Sometimes the solution is higher salary and better benefits. But more often than not, companies have to find ways to work around a limited supply of qualified employees.
The article describes the difficulties of finding highly skilled engineers, mainly. It does not even mention to inflow of unskilled labor, legally or not. Here is a current example of what’s to come. 30,000 illegal immigrants from Senegal head to Spain and then the rest of Europe. This 2006 story is from Reuters via CNN:
Senegal said on Thursday [11/9 2006] it will introduce quotas allowing some 4,000 citizens to work in Spain over the next two years in an effort to stem a flow of illegal jobs seekers leaving the West African country.
Senegal has been at the center of a regional migration crisis this year in which thousands of young West Africans have attempted perilous ocean journeys in rickety boats to Spain’s Canary Islands looking for a better life in Europe.
More than 26,000 people, at least half of them Senegalese, have come ashore on the Spanish islands off the West African coast this year in an exodus that has triggered an increasingly emotional debate in Europe and Africa.
A special case of immigration is that of asylum seekers. It’s not a very significant issue in North America (since the end of the Vietnam War) but it is a critical question in Europe, especially with the EU attempting a common but controversial asylum policy of sorts. Here are a few quotes dealing with the issue of foreign “holding tanks” for asylum seekers:
“Buttiglione [Failed EC big shot-to-be] offered his support for a German proposal that resurrects the discredited idea of establishing centers to process asylum-seekers off-shore, this time in North African countries. What is the reason? “To prevent the mass exodus from swamping the EU,” he said.”
“Such asylum “processing centers,” a polite term for detention camps, would signal an about-face in Europe’s historic commitment to refugee protection. The centers would violate the individual’s right to seek asylum and shift responsibility for migrants and asylum-seekers to developing countries with scarce resources and poor human rights”
“The specifics of future [sic – never happened] commissioner Buttiglione’s proposal appear to be exceedingly bad. He argues that the “reception centers” in North Africa should be managed by the governments of the countries where such centers would be established. Putting poor and repressive governments in charge of EU asylum-seekers is a recipe for disaster. The prime example is Libya, a main transit point for African migrants and asylum-seekers on their way to southern Europe. Libya, which has neither ratified the Refugee Convention nor established national asylum procedures, already has an appalling migrant-protection record”
“Some of the agreed provisions raise serious issues under International Refugee and Human Rights Law and they may result in judicial action being taken against them “; “The removal of asylum policies…… and the scrutiny of international human rights monitoring bodies raise serious legal issues from a refugee protection point of view.”
If you think this sound a bit like a new wave of concentration camps, you share the concern with many Europeans. It certainly is not the right tone to strike for a continent that will need massive amounts of imported labor.
What will be the attitude of a sub-Sahara work force be towards the rich countries that turned a blind eye on or conducted the slave trade, exploited them as colonies, stole their raw materials, broke all promises of financial aid, let HIV go unchecked, ignored the genocides and the famines? Witness the fury of Muslims in the UK, Spain and African immigrants in France. The British are not pleased with Mideast immigrants blowing up the Tube. Neither are the Spaniards. The French experience with North African immigrants is rocky at best. Most European countries already have ghettos filled with immigrant workers and refugees. Each such area is explosive socially and definitely not pleasant.
The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and, in particular, France have seen some very ugly riots involving immigrants and the domestic population, usually the police. Many of these clashes involve Muslim immigrants frustrated by perceived or real injustices. Australia has seen its share of immigrant riots as well as Australians rioting against immigrants. These tensions are a two way street
Let’s take an example: Suppose European country X desires a GNP growth of 2.5% a year. Such a growth must be sourced by economic resources. Perhaps capital investment can make up 1% of that growth. That leaves 1.5% in required additional resources annually. Suppose the original, domestic labor force was 25 million workers. Further speculate this pool is declining at a rate of 1% per year due to aging and a low birth rate. That means we somehow have to find 2.5% additional skilled labor since no other resource is available. But we can only find unskilled labor that is a net of 2% less productive than the existing, highly trained labor force. Now we need 4.5% new laborers annually from a base of 25 million.
Assume this continues unabated for 20 years. That means the country imported 35 million laborers – a number I’m sure no one in country X would be happy with. The new labor force would exceed the original one by 10 million. The original work force of 25 million natives is now down to about 20 million if all works well and all the numbers above are plausible.
First, the foreign workers now make up 2/3 of the work force. Second, the work force is more than twice as large due the poor productivity. Suppose something goes wrong in this idyllic scheme of things. Consider, for instance the cost of housing and other infrastructure required by the 35 million “guest workers” (“Gastarbeiter” as the Germans call it or “travailleurs immigrés” in French). Suppose some marvelous capital investment temporarily forced the layoff of 1 million of the labor force. Or perhaps the business cycle turned down. Or Country Y with even cheaper, imported labor starts a price war. Possibly the whole bloody system falls apart. It’s not hard to see the riots explode. It’s even easier to see the racial tensions boil over into real ugliness.
Also consider that the country X had maybe 50 million citizens at the beginning of these games. After 20 years of the scenario above, the population would have swelled to about 80 million. 35 million of that, or 44%, would be the immigrant “guest workers”. That is quite a power block, putting a strain on everything from old to new.
This, of course is just playing with some rough numbers – all of which are disputable. Even worse, I extrapolated these numbers 20 years into the future and came up with an absurd outlook that will not happen – no country could afford a scenario like this. It’s far more likely that GNP growth will be lower, the original work force working longer and some, but not as high, import of labor would occur. That doesn’t resolve the excess of labor in the poor countries. The imbalance remains.
There is an alternative to the almost certain explosiveness of the massive importation of labor to a post industrial country. That is to move the production of goods and perhaps even services to the country with excess labor. After all, most industrial countries are happily doing that right now. The US and others have chased low wages from Cuba to Mexico to Japan to Korea to Taiwan to Hong Kong to Singapore to the Philippines to Malaysia to Indonesia to Vietnam to China to India. No doubt Africa is next.
Not only are wages low, but the costs of taken-for-granted Western standards are usually relaxed. Feel free to pollute away, use child labor and to ignore social responsibility. There is no need to worry about human rights.
You also need to consider risks. Take Cuba and its nationalization of American properties in the 1950s. No alert Capitalist wants to experience that again. Hence, invest as little as possible and be ready to bolt at a moment’s notice.
Don’t fret about the jobs exported from the old country. A jolt now and then is good for them domestic workers. Those ghost towns make good movie backdrops. Former loggers make great nurses. Ex-textile workers are good at picking cotton or growing tobacco. Of course they are.
The trouble is that those low wages never stay low. Move on as soon as cost is higher than the next place. Leave nothing behind. If lucky, one country after another prices itself out of the slave wage market and end up with a great infrastructure and skilled work force paid for by the exploiting foreigner. Or they end up with nothing. Some win, some lose.
Sarcasm aside, foreign investment in less developed countries has always been controversial, high risk and ethically questionable. Is there a reason to believe that will change? Can ruthless capitalism work with endless corruption to create sustained growth with steady and fair employment? Hmm, that’ll be the day.
Here is another, last little story about real global warming in line with my odes, ballads, songs, hymns and the like. This one is called “Aria for the Polar Bear” (compiled from many sources):
U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration moved away from its steadfast refusal to recognize the effects of global warming, proposing to protect polar bears, whose habitat is threatened by the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice. U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced that polar bears should be listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, initiating a review that is expected to take a year.
Three conservation groups earlier filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior, in an effort to protect the polar bear from the effects of global warming. In return for these groups dropping their effort to force the Bush administration to grant polar bears “threatened” status under the ESA, the administration agreed to commence a rulemaking to list the bears.
Now, the government may have to consider tougher measures to clean up the air because scientists believe carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming. Bush administration officials, however, indicated there would be no new curbs on oil drilling in Alaska or limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.
Polar bears have dwindled in numbers and are in a serious fight for survival due to Arctic ice melt. In Canada’s western Hudson Bay, the population of polar bears has already declined 22 percent. Global warming cause an earlier summer melt of the ice, giving polar bears less time to hunt for seals and build up fat reserves. There is evidence of weight loss, reduced cub survival and bears moving closer to human communities in their search for food.
Arctic ice coverage in recent years has been the lowest on record and studies have found polar bears to be smaller and suffering from lack of food. Some have drowned swimming vast distances of open water between ice floes and far fewer cubs are surviving the first months of life, studies show.
Polar bears have survived previous Arctic warming periods, including the last warm stretch between ice ages some 130,000 years ago. Some climate experts project that nothing in the species’ history is likely to match the pace and extent of warming and ice retreats. That is assuming emissions in this century, and beyond, of heat-trapping gases continue unabated. International climate scientists predict unless global warming is stemmed, polar bears will be extinct by the end of the century.
Still, Kempthorne said an endangered species listing could not be used to trigger new limits to greenhouse-gas emissions. “That whole argument of climate change is beyond the scope of the Endangered Species Act,” he said.
Yet, the true dilemma is how to protect polar bears. Fisheries of endangered species may be curtailed. Logging is prohibited in habitats of endangered species such as the spotted owl. Whaling is largely eliminated. But how does a government protect the habitat of polar bears when Global Warming is the obvious culprit – an issue George W. Bush refuses to recognize? Maybe George will finally grasp that Global Warming is just not going away.
In the ironic, aka tragic, department, Canada, the US, Greenland and Russia permit indigenous people to hunt polar bears as part of their cultural heritage. In 2005, the Canadian quota was 518 bears, of which 50 were allocated to recreational hunters.
The plight of the ice bears is just another little piece of the puzzle. They live far away from most of us. Few have seen one in its natural habitat. Not many care about the breakup of the Northern ice packs. As we hear about it, our feet remain dry. Why care about all that much about something so far away. But here is the unfortunate inconvenience: No matter what we do, temperatures will continue to rise for years. These small stories, odes, hymns, ballads, what have you, won’t be so small for long. You will notice, if not now, very soon.
Many of these studies agree on one aspect of their disasters, whether running out of raw materials, the disappearance of food sources, racial riots from immigration or all kinds of threats from Global Warming. There will be horrific consequences to civilization once such bad things happen. We are not dealing with trivial stuff. Let’s look at a few samples of the horrors apparently awaiting us:
- The economies crash. Supply of goods dwindles. Support programs, welfare stop. Safety programs die. The military, police and National Guard disband. Border control goes AWOL. Financial markets and banks disappear in the night. Industrial production stops. Hospitals close. Air, train and bus transportation grinds to a halt. Ports close. Resources such as oil disappear. Unemployment becomes sky high. Forest fires are out of control. Other fires devastate cities and towns.
- Food and drinking water runs out. Arable acreage is lost with no fertilizers or water. Crops decline rapidly. Live stocks starve to death. Drinking water becomes treated with sewage and salt water. Extinction of species accelerates. Food shortages quickly develop into famines. Coastal areas may be under water.
- Health becomes critical. Starvation becomes the order of the day. Malnutrition kills. Lack of sewage control spreads disease. Infant mortality skyrockets. HIV, fevers and infectious diseases explode as no medical help is available. Life expectancy declines.
- Social fabric breaks down. Crime and corruption prevails. Warfare – local, civil, nation to nation and eventually world wide becomes yet another threat to civilization. When will the first nuke go off? Mass migration occurs in search for food, water and shelter, leading to even more violence. The justice system is gone with local tribunals handing out death sentences left and right.
Is it sensationalism? Of course it is. Could it happen? It might just be a question of time, hopefully a long time. Note, though, that the sagas above are not created by unscrupulous news rags. They are forecasted by reputable scientists. Could any national guard, military, government, nation, economic union or international authority deal with even 10% of the above? Hell no.
This section is a partial reprint of my “The Bleakest of Outlooks” post of March 2007.
The UN will publish a series of four major reports on Global Warming in 2007. A summary of first report is already out, dealing with updates to current Global Warming trends. The second summary report is due in April of 2007 covering the impacts on Earth of Global Warming. The third and forth summary reports and the full reports are due later this year.
I covered the first summary report of February 2007 in my “Politics, Scandals, Mass Committees” post. This first IPCC report really did the easy part, simply updating data and recent research. Even so, it created major attention, perhaps mostly in the European EU powers. The EU is now in the process of creating much more stringent limits on their internal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I discussed the impact of this proposal, now approved by the EU, in my previous “Sauerkraut” post. The current post you are reading contains some updates to the EU plan.
Here are some conclusions known to be in the current pre-release of the April report, according to a Seth Borenstein AP article and numerous similar reports:
Geography, Areas and Life Styles
- The effects of Global Warming are happening far faster than believed earlier. Climate changes are now impacting physical and biological systems on every continent. Global Warming will affect everyone’s lives, in particular the lives of the poorest. Life styles across the world will change, mostly for the worse.
- Africa and Asia will be hit the hardest followed by small island communities. On a relative basis, North America, Europe and Australia face the least impacts. Yet, hurricanes and wildfires already cause major disruptions to North American social, cultural and biological ecosystems. Australia is experiencing a drought partly blamed on Global Warming.
Agriculture, Starvation and Forestry
- The agriculture sector will face major upheavals as their ecosystems move north (south in the Southern Hemisphere) and existing farm land cannot follow. The forest sector faces the same issue.
- The forestry sector will see temporary improvements due to a longer growing season. It will face major upheavals later as its ecosystems move north (south in the Southern Hemisphere) and existing forests cannot follow.
- There will be temporary relief in some agricultural areas, such as soybeans and rice production in Latin America, due to longer growing seasons. Later, 200-600 million people will suffer starvation as agricultural ecosystems are destroyed.
Health and Fresh Water
- Health issues will result in higher death rates. Malnutrition, diarrhea, malaria and dengue fever will grow dramatically. Human allergies are mushrooming due to increased pollens. Smog in the US will cause severe health hazards.
- Hundreds of millions of Africans, tens of millions of Latin Americans and more than a billion of Asians will lack sufficient fresh water.
Ecosystems and Extinctions
- We are truly standing at the edge of mass extinction. Species’ habits and habitants are changing rapidly. Half of Europe’s spaces are vulnerable to extinction.
- Polar bears will only be found in zoos, their northern habitat melted into oblivion. Other polar animals will follow into extinction. Half of Europe’s species are threatened. Pests such as fire ants will thrive.
Oceans, Flooding, Coasts, Arctic and Ice
- Oceans and coastal ecosystems face the most damages. Wetlands will be lost. 100 million people may be flooded out of their lands because of rising sea levels. Coastal flooding might eliminate millions of homes.
- Coral reefs are killed by bleaching. The Great Barrier Reef could become functionally extinct in less than 20 years.
- Transportation, e.g. the Northwest Passage, will “improve” in Arctic regions. This alone may lead to major ecological problems as newly accessible areas are exploited.
- Alpine glaciers in Europe and elsewhere will disappear. Greenland ice sheets decline. The North Pole is no longer under a solid ice pack in the summer.
The report offers some hope if nations slow and then reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but it notes that what’s happening now isn’t encouraging. The Report states: Many, but not all, of those effects can be prevented if within a generation the world slows down its emissions of carbon dioxide and if the level of greenhouse gases sticking around in the atmosphere stabilizes. If that’s the case, the report says “most major impacts on human welfare would be avoided; but some major impacts on ecosystems are likely to occur.
I truly object to the statement that “those effects can be prevented if within a generation the world slows down its emissions”. I believe reductions in emissions must start very soon, or within a few years, for mankind to stand a reasonable chance of survival. Waiting a generation will not do it.
GlobalWarming:1 discusses why Global Warming happened, who and what causes it, ending up with a list of villains. It did not go into the consequences of Global Warming. There was no discussion of impacts on the oceans, the Arctic, Greenland, El Nino, ecosystems, the weather, tundra and ice packs. The Kyoto Protocol or the Stern reports or other Global Warming topics were not covered. That is yet to come.
GlobalWarming:2 covers two main subjects. The UN provides a real mixed bag of positive and negative influences on the fight against Global Warming. The positive is that they try, have some credibility and many resources. The negative is that they fail. The current versions of the Kyoto Protocol and its associated reports do not reduce emissions. The CER system causes more harm than good. Solutions exist but are not acted on. Industrial strategies and national policies do little to reduce Global Warming – in fact, the opposite is often true in spite of rhetorical lip service.
Global Warming:3 examines the basic root cause of our problem: rising temperatures. Is the increase real and does it matter? Is it natural or caused by man? Are the temperatures unusual compared to history? Do GHGs actually cause the increase? What can past temperature variations tell us about what we face today? Can you even trust the basic data and analysis of temperatures? The post answers those and other questions in exuberant detail.
GlobalWarming:4notes that Global Warming is not the first disaster forecast ever done, published and hyped. There were many in the past and as a rule they failed. The disaster in question simply did not happen because extending some historical trend into the future does not work – trends change. So the question is – why is this particular doom and gloom outlook right? What is different this time? As you will see, plenty is different.
The current GlobalWarming:5 reviews the role and issues of population growth. This is a vital issue for future emissions as shown in GlobalWarming:1. Historically over the past 250 years, the explosive growth in populations explains two thirds of the increase in GHG emissions. The rise in personal carbon use must be reversed as must other issues related to unbalanced growth in populations.
GlobalWarming:6 summarizes some important and a few not so important opinions on Global Warming. Global Warming is a battle ground, galvanizing the left against the right, neo conservatists against liberals, the sane against those not quite sane, the religious right against evangelists, politicians against constituents, reactionaries against activists, bloggers against bloggers, late show hosts against ratings, journalists against circulations, spokespersons against skeptics and, not least, scientists against scientists. This post contains a small sample of the rare truth, accusations, biases, opinions and propaganda thrown left and right, up and down.
GlobalWarming:7 is perhaps the meat of this series. It gets into the details of what is happening right now in the some 25 different real life areas. The true impacts of Global Warming range from ocean bottoms to mountain tops, from oil fields to highways, from tundra to tropics and from farm fields to smoke stacks. These items are not forecasts, assumptions or opinions but verifiable hard facts. The picture is indicative of your, and my, future. The earthly signs get worse by the day.
GlobalWarming:8 paints three scenarios (not forecasts) of what might happen in the future. There are pessimistic, optimistic and middle of the road pictures. The three scenarios use simple, common sense assumptions, very different from the elaborate, multi million $ systems enjoyed by the UN, the Stern Report, EPA and others. The big systems rely on myriads of assumptions as input, many of which aren’t really known and/or subject to lots of complexity. I favor the KISS approach.
I’m by no means competing with the “big” studies or the smart people putting them together. I used to be a forecasting guru working for the UN, the World Bank, FAO, OECD, the EU and many Fortune 500 companies. I guess I have a right to an opinion. No one is required to consider my views.
I am completely nonaffiliated. No political party enjoys (or wants) my support. I have no axe to grind. I receive no monetary compensations, grants or sponsorships. There are no PayPal buttons on these pages. I have no obligations to fulfill. Office politics do not thrive around here. I promote no agendas except my own – the survival of us all. Occasionally, I put up some of the photos from my portfolios and my photo business.
GlobalWarming:5-8 will follow together with other commentaries and follow ups. Hang in there. The links below help you navigate this monster essay. It’s all quite important to your health.
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