Saturday, September 14, 2013

Re: Overpopulation Is Not the Problem - Updated 09/18/2013

Updated Septermber 18, 2013

Erle C. Ellis expands on his article "Overpopulation is Not the Problem" in a guest contribution to Dot Earth and cites a good amount of interesting reading materials. 
(Link bellow)

Responses and comments generated from this and the original article frame the debate  as between a techno-centric, too-optimistic but compassionate view; and another more concerned, realistic and colder, but sometimes also techno-centric view of the world’s future.

Either way, I hope that we can overcome the trends we have shown throughout history where paradoxically, both, times of high social and technological advances as well as times of human decline have ultimately led to highly inequitable and destruction prone societies.

Perhaps a way to see it is… as a building with some foundation problems.

For the most part, in the population debate in general, the implied alternative has been, to continue carelessly building higher or let it collapse and re-build. Neither choice seems appealing.

I think here, one of the things Ellis is trying to say is… that before anything else, societal foundation should be repaired-reinforced using all advances (in this case) both social and technological.  Even if is not the cheapest and easiest way, or the safest; because we are already building higher regardless.

Some of his points:

“Human well being and improved stewardship of the biosphere are limited primarily by the strength of social systems and technologies, not by population or environment. There are no panaceas, technological, social, economic or political.  Nevertheless, I see no other way forward for humanity or nature but by improving our social systems and technologies.  Though it will not be easy and success is not guaranteed, I am optimistic that we can continue to improve these for the benefit of both humanity and nature.”

“I see a very high probability that humanity will sustain a population of at least 9 to 10 billion for one century or longer.  However, this does not mean that humanity is doomed to “destroy the planet” or to endure a catastrophic population collapse.  Given that our populations are going to be huge and sustained, it is imperative to focus not on environmental limits to populations, but on the real social and technological opportunities we have to enable both humanity and nature to thrive in the face of some very real challenges. A wide variety of natural scientists are eagerly engaging in the effort to advance the science of social-ecological systems in this effort.”

“Rapid global climate change is being caused by carbon pollution, and other forms of pollution are also serious problems.   Pollution is generally a tremendous costly mistake.  Solutions exist to prevent and remediate almost all forms of pollution.  That they are not applied is a societal failure.  Throughout history and into the future, the poor tend to suffer more for these mistakes than the wealthy.”

“However, robust societies can adapt to extreme environmental changes and I am not convinced that climate change and pollution are likely to cause societal collapse .”
“Humans have already transformed ecosystems across the planet, and the rates of this transformation are increasing.   Nevertheless, it is possible, though challenging,  for both humanity and biodiversity to thrive in the Anthropocene.   The prospects for conserving and restoring biodiversity will depend on the priorities and effectiveness of human social systems.”


“Humans have already transformed ecosystems across the planet, and the rates of this transformation are increasing.   Nevertheless, it is possible, though challenging,  for both humanity and biodiversity to thrive in the Anthropocene.   The prospects for conserving and restoring biodiversity will depend on the priorities and effectiveness of human social systems.”

Link:

An Ecologist Explains His Contested View of Planetary Limits
By ANDREW C. REVKIN September 16, 2013

Other interesting articles:

NY Times Says Earth Has Unlimited Carrying Capacity, So Forget Climate Change and Party On, Homo Sapiens!
BY JOE ROMM

How to Survive a Mass Extinction – Even One Caused by Us
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
My original post from September 14, 2013 starts here:

This article is very interesting and agreeable to me. The author presents many important facts about the development of human society, of how science and technology have played, and could still play an important role in the growth of society and how we could further exceed the "natural population limits" of the earth. While the article points out some of these "perceived" ecological limits of the earth, the main idea is that in reality these limits are not as important as human creativity and the way in which we 'choose' to build society.

I wish the author would have had the opportunity to expand more about the real limits, technological and social. And how even now, despite the success of the propagation of our species, on our way here we left stranded roughly half the population despite many technological and social advances... And maybe how technology, misused, can be a double-edged sword.

Something that caught my attention was this paragraph:

"At their peak, those agricultural systems might have sustained as many as three billion people in poverty on near-vegetarian diets."

I was struck especially because according to statistics shown by Global Issues, almost 50% of the world's population now, or more than 3.5 billion live near or below the poverty line. [1] I guess not only we left them on the road, we left them living in prehistoric times.
What would be the likely impacts of implementing new growth inducing technologies, without first rescuing our 'forgotten' people?
Is growth for the sake of growth good enough for them?

I'll be looking for more writings from this author. "Muy" Interesting!

Oscar E.


Overpopulation Is Not the Problem

By ERLE C. ELLIS

September 13, 2013


My reference:
[1] Poverty Facts and Stats
http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats


Update Dec 17, 2013

Using the Planet
Published: December 11, 2013

Even before the advent of agriculture, Homo sapiens kicked off an entirely new process of planetary change. Earth would never be the same. Instead of mere centuries, Erle C Ellis advances a broader view of the Anthropocene, over many millennia, and what that means for land stewardship.

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A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog - Geoingeniería by Oscar and Jocelyn Escobar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Licencia Creative Commons
A #Geoengineering #Climate Issues blog por Oscar y Jocelyn Escobar se distribuye bajo una Licencia Creative Commons Atribución-NoComercial 4.0 Internacional.