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Old 22nd April 2019, 09:09 AM   #161
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm not sure we need to go all the way back to first principles. But be my guest, if that's where you think the conversation needs to start.
Well, you may have noticed that you and others seem to be disagreeing about the higher level of analysis of this issue. What matters, what has value? You are asking others why they think biodiversity matters, etc.

Given that disagreement, it might be useful to go back to something that we can all agree on.

I also don't really think that it's axiomatic to you or anyone else that more human lives are better. Rather I think you really do think that individual human lives have value and have reasoned from there to the conclusion that more human lives are more valuable than fewer.

Ignoring other factors I actually agree with that conclusion (I think my first post in this thread was exactly me agreeing with you about that). But that other factors might impact on that conclusion seems a reasonable thing to think about, and I don't think that it makes sense when presented with that possibility to retreat to the idea that the conclusion that more human lives is better is axiomatic, rather than that it's a conclusion reached from the prior belief that individual lives have value.

I personally think that the fact that individual lives have value is also a conclusion more basic axioms, but on that issue I agree with you that it's probably not necessary to go back to that given that we all seem to agree that individual lives have value, and the ways in which they do (for instance that that value can vary depending on things like the quality of that life, it's length, etc.).
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Old 22nd April 2019, 10:20 AM   #162
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
My question to you is: Why? What do you believe, that makes you say this? How does this belief inform your global policy?
I believe that the technological nature of our species has given us an unprecedented ability to manipulate the environment, often with unintended or poorly understood consequences that may not be easily reversible.

In terms of "my" global policy: In advanced countries fertility rates fall. So perhaps in terms of stabilizing population, economic development of poorer countries might be useful. Access to safe drinking water, primary education and birth control, for example, might facilitate this development.

How about you? What beliefs inform your global policy? Do you have anything to say on the topic?
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Old 22nd April 2019, 08:38 PM   #163
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I'd like to go back to this notion that "intrinsic" value is the only sort of value we should consider in this model.

Upon consideration, I see no logical basis for this assumption. We should consider total value, not just "intrinsic" value, excluding all other sorts of value considerations.

Surely no one would argue that we should burn our houses down because houses don't have "intrinsic" value?

Other considerations: we have potentially hundreds of millions of years ahead of us if we somehow manage to avoid extinction. We shouldn't overvalue the present at the expense of the future. What will happen if we have, for example, 6 degrees of global warming due to the greenhouse effect? I'd rather have a billion people and have that last for millions of years, while preserving the natural ecosystems, than 10 billion right now but lasting only a century or two with the end result being a mass extinction event.

Quality of life is also important. I'd rather have fewer people with each enjoying a higher quality of life, than more people with each having a lower quality of life.
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Old 22nd April 2019, 08:54 PM   #164
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I will try to keep your idiosyncratic definition of "harm" in mind in this discussion.


And that's totally fine. But now you're not actually trying to optimize for ideal sustainable population. You're trying to optimize for ideal population that preserves certain personal aesthetic and experiential values that you hold.

What you really want here isn't the ideal sustainable population. You want the minimum viable population, as being the one that leaves the least anthropogenic footprint on the "natural" environment. You could have a sustainable population of homesteaders, but each homesteader would cut down a patch of old-growth forest to build their home and clear some land for agriculture. You could figure out what's the minimum amount of forest needed to sustain a given population. You could cut back to that much forest, turning the rest of the land over to other population-sustaining uses. But while that would go towards your stated goal of the ideal sustainable population, it would go against your actual goal of minimum viable population.
No, that's not what I meant, either. I'm looking for a population that maximizes overall value, not a "minimum viable population". There will be an "anthropogenic footprint" but I just want it to be small enough that there is room for other natural ecosystems and species to survive alongside us. I'm looking for balance between goods, one that maximizes overall value to humans in the long term.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 04:26 AM   #165
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Other considerations: we have potentially hundreds of millions of years ahead of us if we somehow manage to avoid extinction. We shouldn't overvalue the present at the expense of the future. What will happen if we have, for example, 6 degrees of global warming due to the greenhouse effect? I'd rather have a billion people and have that last for millions of years, while preserving the natural ecosystems, than 10 billion right now but lasting only a century or two with the end result being a mass extinction event.
That's a good point.

It works in the opposite direction as well. Imagine how this discussion might go if today's news brought credible word that an asteroid whose diameter is on the order of 200 kilometers will hit earth ten years from now. Sustainability would cease to be much of an issue. Our perception of values would change.

We see something of this on an individual scale as people recognize the approach of their own death (via illness or age). When planning for themselves, they begin to focus on the short term, but many also adopt a longer and less self-centered perspective as they consider the impending reality of a world they will no longer inhabit.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 09:50 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by W.D.Clinger View Post
That's a good point.

It works in the opposite direction as well. Imagine how this discussion might go if today's news brought credible word that an asteroid whose diameter is on the order of 200 kilometers will hit earth ten years from now. Sustainability would cease to be much of an issue. Our perception of values would change.

We see something of this on an individual scale as people recognize the approach of their own death (via illness or age). When planning for themselves, they begin to focus on the short term, but many also adopt a longer and less self-centered perspective as they consider the impending reality of a world they will no longer inhabit.
No matter what future value we place on anything compounding interest all but insures that it becomes negligible when we calculate the present value. I guess what I’m saying is that the common Libertarian view of free markets where “it’ll all work out just as long as we have property rights” grantees a dead end because no matter how important something is long term future value past ~20 years gets discounted to something approaching zero.

Market systems can still work, but we need to agree to exclude things and say “No one can ever develop in in these very large and diverse areas”, “Here is the absolute maximum allowable CO2 emissions, you can pay to own a share of that but the amount will never increase”.

Free markets are very good at efficiently allocating and using the resources available to them, but we have consistently made everything available to them, even before we could describe them or how they worked. Growth and discounting of future value all but insures this to be a dead end.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 10:47 AM   #167
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I'd like to go back to this notion that "intrinsic" value is the only sort of value we should consider in this model.

Upon consideration, I see no logical basis for this assumption. We should consider total value, not just "intrinsic" value, excluding all other sorts of value considerations.

Surely no one would argue that we should burn our houses down because houses don't have "intrinsic" value?
The way I've been understanding the discussion, we've been talking about an innate/inherent/intrinsic value, versus a contextual usefulness/utility.

I don't burn down my house because it has usefulness for me, unburnt. Change the usefulness, and that equation also changes.

I don't kill people because people have moral value to me, regardless of how useful they are. Even people who are a net drain on my overall utility budget I don't kill. Because even those people have moral value to me.

To me, that's what we're talking about: Intrinsic moral value versus subjective use value.

We can talk about total value, but we still need to understand what parts of that sum are intrinsic moral value, and what parts are subjective use value.

For example, these seem to be arguments from intrinsic moral value.

Quote:
Other considerations: we have potentially hundreds of millions of years ahead of us if we somehow manage to avoid extinction. We shouldn't overvalue the present at the expense of the future. What will happen if we have, for example, 6 degrees of global warming due to the greenhouse effect? I'd rather have a billion people and have that last for millions of years, while preserving the natural ecosystems, than 10 billion right now but lasting only a century or two with the end result being a mass extinction event.

Quality of life is also important. I'd rather have fewer people with each enjoying a higher quality of life, than more people with each having a lower quality of life.
You're not claiming any particular use value for these things. They just happen to be certain things that you value: A certain quality of life for a certain amount of people for a certain amount of time.

What if we could sustain more people, at higher quality, for longer, if we replaced all the natural environment with a designed ecosystem that maximized resource extraction and re-use?
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Old 23rd April 2019, 10:58 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
No, that's not what I meant, either. I'm looking for a population that maximizes overall value, not a "minimum viable population". There will be an "anthropogenic footprint" but I just want it to be small enough that there is room for other natural ecosystems and species to survive alongside us. I'm looking for balance between goods, one that maximizes overall value to humans in the long term.
Thank you for taking the time to make a civil reply to what was admittedly a sort of bitchy comment. I apologize.

The only thing I'm not yet clear on is how making extra room for other ecosystems maximizes value to humans.

If the overall long-term goal is maximum value to humans, why do we care about preserving other ecosystems at all, except where they are manifestly the best way to extract human use value from the environment?

If that frog secretes a cure for cancer, then we should do whatever it takes to preserve that frog and its ecosystem... right up to the point where we figure out how to synthesize the secretion. Then, who cares about the frog? People who think the frog has intrinsic moral value, that's who. But other people might prefer to take the synthesized cure for cancer and the housing development where that frog used to live.

Same with the ecosystem as a whole. It has a relative use value for humans. And for some humans, it also has an intrinsic moral value that should be preserved regardless of whether it's useful for humans. So far, your policy proposals all seem to imply favoring intrinsic moral value of the environment, that must be balanced against the intrinsic moral value of humans, when deciding how the environment should be used.

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Old 23rd April 2019, 07:08 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
History has also shown us that technology can produce bubbles too, that when they collapse bring dramatic suffering and loss of life.

It really depends on the technology and if it is renewable and/or regenerative.

Unfortunately fossil fuels and agrochemicals have brought a bubble and not a sustainable increase in carrying capacity. So we must rapidly convert to sustainable energy and regenerative agricultural systems before the bubble bursts.

If we wait till after the bubble bursts, it will get really really bad.

I don't believe that is the question at all. Because knowing, we are still not doing. And this risks the lives of billions. No one is safe. I don't care how rich you are.

Unfortunately, at every point between here and "too late, the bubble's bursting," it's cheaper and easier to do nothing. Or to put it another way, the people with the power to make the decisions about e.g. how our agricultural systems are operated would be momentarily worse off if the necessary changes were made, so they won't make them.

The only recourse is to act at the levels you do have power over—yourself, your family, your community—to make as much as possible of your own necessary infrastructure as sustainable as possible.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 08:45 PM   #170
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
1) Sustainability
2) Minimizing harmful impacts on the natural environment
3) High standards of living for everybody
4) Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions
5) Minimizing the depletion of exhaustible resources
6) End the destruction of natural habitats like rain forests, grasslands, wetlands, and lakes, rivers and oceans
7) Fishing should be sustainable
8) Minimize the extinction of other species due to human activity (possible exceptions for harmful species).
9) Minimize pollution

Population control should be humane...

I don't know if there's an ideal number, but I suspect that it's much fewer than what we have now. Maybe 1 or 2 or 3 billion? And could such a population be maintained for thousands or tens of thousands of years or more, and still achieve the above goals?
No, because your goals are not achievable. Why not? Because while we might might think we are smarter, we are really no different to any other species which simply expands until limited by the environment.

If we ever achieve sustainability it will by maximizing harmful impacts on the natural environment, up to the point where it prevents the population from growing any higher. Or we may destroy the environment, crash the population, and do it all again when the environment recovers.

So far our efforts to avoid going down that path have been pathetic - not a single item on your list has been achieved or is likely to be any time soon. And we are running out time. Soon Global Warming will force us to limit our population, at which point we will have maximized the amount of damage that we could do.

I'm guessing we can maintain a global population of around 8-10 billion with a sustainable amount of damage. Just as now there will be a 'high' standard of living for some, poverty and starvation for others. Pollution will be higher than it is now, but greenhouse gasses will be lower after we run out of fossil fuels (though too late to prevent a planet-roasting temperature rise). Many other species will be extinct, but enough will survive to keep us going.

In short, the World will be a dump and we will suffer for it, but many of us will think it's fine (just like we do now). That's the best-case achievable scenario for sustainability.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 10:45 PM   #171
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
"Adverse events" and "disasters" are both subjective value judgements, based on some as-yet-unexamined value.
The flooding of New Orleans was a disaster because we value human life and human artifacts. There's nothing inherently disastrous about a littoral wetland. We just call it "disastrous" when it conflicts with our goals and values.
The proposed value was biodiversity. From a planetary perspective small-scale events are not disasters since they don't impact biodiversity.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Regardless of how you define a healthy society, I think it's probably a complex question without any one single thing being the "most" important.
That said, why is a healthy society the most important thing? Some folks in this thread are saying that humans aren't the most important thing, that privileging human concerns is not necessarily a matter of 'should'. But you can't seem to get away from the idea.
As I've said, I would like a sustainable society with an appropriately high standard of living where everyone is as content and happy as is practically possible. Healthy.
I'll rephrase my question. I know it's not that simple, but what do you as an individual want from society? Which basic rights should individuals have/not-have to be as 'content and happy as is practically possible'? Assume an appropriately high standard of living for everyone.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 11:27 PM   #172
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We can do the same and more, for more people for much less material and power. We aren't really trying to recycle, we've hardly started using renewables, we know how to make much better nuclear reactors, and some of the most desirable products today are digital.
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Old 23rd April 2019, 11:31 PM   #173
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
To me, that's what we're talking about: Intrinsic moral value versus subjective use value.
Not me, I've been arguing for a mix. I think they are intimately related.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The only thing I'm not yet clear on is how making extra room for other ecosystems maximizes value to humans.
If the overall long-term goal is maximum value to humans, why do we care about preserving other ecosystems at all, except where they are manifestly the best way to extract human use value from the environment?
IMHO a flawed moral position.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
...while we might might think we are smarter, we are really no different to any other species which simply expands until limited by the environment.
IMHO the overwhelmingly most likely scenario.

Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
Or we may destroy the environment, crash the population, and do it all again when the environment recovers.
Third time's the charm, we'll get it right.
Stupid irrational optimism...
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Old 24th April 2019, 12:40 AM   #174
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
What if we could sustain more people, at higher quality, for longer, if we replaced all the natural environment with a designed ecosystem that maximized resource extraction and re-use?
That's an interesting hypothetical question, but I don't see it as a realistic possibility. Would there be room in this designed ecosystem of yours for wild elephants and orangutans and tigers and so on? I'm guessing the answer is no. Maybe there would be a few nature preserves and/or national parks set aside, but you didn't mention that, so I'm assuming this would mean even getting rid of those which we have now. I assume that you mean preventing endangered species from going extinct is not a consideration. I don't think I like that. But a more practical objection is that I don't think that what you describe is actually possible.
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Old 24th April 2019, 08:51 AM   #175
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
But a more practical objection is that I don't think that what you describe is actually possible.
Any reason why?
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Old 24th April 2019, 09:42 AM   #176
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Not me, I've been arguing for a mix. I think they are intimately related.
Of course they're intimately related. Subjective use value is (or should be) reasoned directly from your beliefs about intrinsic moral value.

"Arguing for a mix" doesn't really make sense in this context. What you should be arguing for is a set of policies that reflect your beliefs about intrinsic moral value. This includes arguing for policies that produce the kind of use value that's demanded by your beliefs.

If you believe that humans have intrinsic moral value, you'd argue for policies that protect humans regardless of their use value. And you'd argue for policies that use other things in a way that upholds the moral value of humans. Clearing land so humans have a place to live, and food to eat, for example.

Keeping wilderness because humans thrive more with wilderness areas, for another example.

Funding welfare programs because humans have value even when they don't have use, for yet another example.

If I ask you why you want welfare programs, your answer is, "because I believe humans have intrinsic moral value." Unless that's not what you believe. In which case your answer will be something else.

So when you say:
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
The proposed value was biodiversity.
My next question is: Do you value biodiversity because it's useful for some other moral purpose? Or do you believe biodiversity has intrinsic moral value of its own?
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Old 24th April 2019, 07:46 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Every species is like a monument to the last few billion years of evolution. All of it written in it's DNA. Each totally unique in the Universe. That is where I feel the intrinsic value comes from.
Very well said, but IMO some people are never going to get it.

The idea that it's OK to exterminate every other species just because we could in theory build an artificial ecosystem is very odd to me. It's also sci-fi, at least for now. We need other life more than it needs us.

I also don't know why anybody would want to do this.
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Old 24th April 2019, 11:53 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Any reason why?
Humans will muck it up somehow. They always do.
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Old 25th April 2019, 01:07 AM   #179
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Haven't I covered this already? You sure ask a lot of questions without answering many. Why so elusive?

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
If you believe that humans have intrinsic moral value, you'd argue for policies that protect humans regardless of their use value.
I do and I do.
How many times have I said ALL life has intrinsic value? Humans are alive. You don't need human-centric moral values to conclude that.
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And you'd argue for policies that use other things in a way that upholds the moral value of humans. Clearing land so humans have a place to live, and food to eat, for example.
Yes we need to stay somewhere and eat and party and do human things. Humans have an ecological footprint. You don't need human-centric moral values to conclude that.
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
My next question is: Do you value biodiversity because it's useful for some other moral purpose? Or do you believe biodiversity has intrinsic moral value of its own?
Couldn't you tell from my posts?

The thing I value most is life. I believe life has intrinsic value. Just being alive gives you intrinsic value.
I admit it's a totally biased, life-centric point of view but since dead stuff couldn't care I feel it's OK to exploit the unfortunate buggers anyway life wants to.


Please give us a similar short summary of your moral views.
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Old 25th April 2019, 01:13 AM   #180
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Very well said, but IMO some people are never going to get it.
I actually think just being alive has value in itself.
Something that was alive but lacking the historic value would still have intrinsic value.
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Old 25th April 2019, 08:56 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
I actually think just being alive has value in itself.
Something that was alive but lacking the historic value would still have intrinsic value.
Long-dead life has value but I'm not sure if it's intrinsic or not. It allows humans to consume more carbon-based energy, which increases the population of humans, but I don't know if it follows that it has intrinsic value.

Some people can say human life matters to them because it matters absolutely - but if you say biodiversity matters to you, you'll be stuck with a tautology: It matters only because it matters to you. Which may explain a question being asked that was answered many posts ago.

Humans, meanwhile, often don't hold the view that human life has intrinsic value anyway. You can hold it as axiomatic, but a lot of people through history haven't.
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Old 25th April 2019, 10:02 AM   #182
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Long-dead life has value but I'm not sure if it's intrinsic or not. It allows humans to consume more carbon-based energy, which increases the population of humans, but I don't know if it follows that it has intrinsic value.
It also increases the population of food animals for humans. But sometimes this comes at the expense of other kinds of life, and other ecosystems. So there's a question of balance, and what goods we're actually trying to balance.

One balance we might try to achieve is an ecosystem that includes enough different kinds of life to fill all the necessary roles in sustaining a human population of a certain size. We could try to figure out how much biomass is needed for each human in the population. We could try to figure out how much energy input the ecosystem will need, and why and how to store that energy for optimum use*.

For example, we store energy from the sun in grass, and then in cows. And then cows produce meat which we use to sustain a number of humans (since humans can't really be sustained directly by grass, nor by sunlight).

It's not necessarily the most efficient system, but since the current population of humans isn't near the upper limit of resource consumption, we can afford to leave a lot of slack in the system. We could probably clear a lot more land for grazing, and keep a lot more cows, before we reached the maximum sustainable human population.

Of course, "maximum sustainable" isn't necessarily "ideal". And it's not as simple as just grass and cows and humans. The optimal ecosystem for sustaining a given human population would have a lot of complex interactions and requirements. We should definitely be careful about messing with the naturally-occurring version.

Ultimately, "ideal" depends heavily on what exactly we're trying to do. One way to rephrase the question is, "how many people can we have on the planet, before the ecosystem that sustains them is overloaded and starts to break down?"

If that's what we're trying to do, max out the ecosystem's carrying capacity, we'll probably find at some point that it can carry more if we put some effort into designing it, rather than exploiting the pockets of natural happenstance that have already occurred.

It's not a question of killing off all nonhuman life and replacing it with an artificial ecosystem. It's a question of curating the ecosystem we have in a way that maximizes its capacity to sustain a given number of humans.

For some, the ideal global population is going to be the maximum number of humans that can be sustained with an optimally-managed global ecosystem. Finding the right balance of natural processes and artificial tools. Finding the right mix of land use: shelter versus food versus buffers* versus aesthetics versus entertainment.

And seeking broad consensus about what to prioritize. Some might argue that more food-land would increase the sustainable population limit. Others might argue that they'd rather have a tiger habitat than more humans. And that's a valid argument. There's probably not much point in having more humans if it too many humans are unhappy about the lack of free-range tigers.

And that actually might be another factor in determining the "ideal" population size. We might discover that above a certain number, people just stop being as happy. So then we start thinking about things in terms not of raw sustainability, but about quality of life.

And then we can also start thinking about how population density affects quality of life. Urban hives have a certain ecological impact relative to the number of humans in their footprint. This is very different from the ecological impact of the same number of humans spread out on subsistence-farms. But which footprint produces happier humans?

Another way to rephrase the question of "ideal" population size is "how many people can we have, before they get in the way of the tigers?"

Which is a totally different proposition. But either way, we'll have to get into some detail about competing goods, and the "ideal" ratio of tigers:humans.

---
*I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I assume that a healthy ecosystem - whether natural or managed - needs some components that are not directly related to food or shelter, but contribute supporting processes to enable those things.

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Old 25th April 2019, 12:51 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The optimal ecosystem for sustaining a given human population would have a lot of complex interactions and requirements. We should definitely be careful about messing with the naturally-occurring version.
All I was saying.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
If that's what we're trying to do, max out the ecosystem's carrying capacity, we'll probably find at some point that it can carry more if we put some effort into designing it, rather than exploiting the pockets of natural happenstance that have already occurred.
Right. I question whether we're going to put effort into designing it.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's not a question of killing off all nonhuman life and replacing it with an artificial ecosystem. It's a question of curating the ecosystem we have in a way that maximizes its capacity to sustain a given number of humans.
Well that's good to know

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
For some, the ideal global population is going to be the maximum number of humans that can be sustained with an optimally-managed global ecosystem. Finding the right balance of natural processes and artificial tools. Finding the right mix of land use: shelter versus food versus buffers* versus aesthetics versus entertainment.

And seeking broad consensus about what to prioritize.
Good luck with that, especially as developing countries become more developed.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
There's probably not much point in having more humans if it too many humans are unhappy about the lack of free-range tigers.
But here's the thing: For the most part we don't decide on such relative values. We don't know what we've got till it's gone, or almost gone. I'm sure there are great small-scale things going on, but we're talking about a major shift in attitudes and practices worldwide.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Another way to rephrase the question of "ideal" population size is "how many people can we have, before they get in the way of the tigers?"
People are already getting in the way of the tigers. After a century of decline, the wild population of tigers is growing - it's now "at least" 4,000, which doesn't sound like very many to me. But they're still hunted to make fake "medicine." (On what might be considered a positive note, it's estimated that there are more pet tigers in the U.S. than there are in the wild).

---
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
*I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I assume that a healthy ecosystem - whether natural or managed - needs some components that are not directly related to food or shelter, but contribute supporting processes to enable those things.
That is a wild understatement. Ask Red Baron Farms, he could probably name hundreds or thousands of them related to "healthy" soil. Do we need healthy soil? I'd say ... yeah, we do. I mean, maybe we could grow everything hydroponically in desalinized ocean water with plenty of fertilizer and micronutrients ... but the soil itself is "alive" in a sense, a vital part of the ecosystem we've already got.

It might be more complicated than you think.
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Old 25th April 2019, 01:18 PM   #184
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post

It's not necessarily the most efficient system, but since the current population of humans isn't near the upper limit of resource consumption, we can afford to leave a lot of slack in the system. We could probably clear a lot more land for grazing, and keep a lot more cows, before we reached the maximum sustainable human population.
we could raise more cows by restoring degraded ecosystems than by destroying more ecosystems. Not sure why people keep getting this part wrong. But inevitably they do. If you restore wildlife habitat with properly managed cows then you get both more food for humans and also more wildlife ... some of which is dangerously close to extinction.
just 1 example:
Grassland birds: Fostering habitats with rotational grazing

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Of course, "maximum sustainable" isn't necessarily "ideal". And it's not as simple as just grass and cows and humans. The optimal ecosystem for sustaining a given human population would have a lot of complex interactions and requirements. We should definitely be careful about messing with the naturally-occurring version.
Yep and properly managed grasslands do just that very thing.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Ultimately, "ideal" depends heavily on what exactly we're trying to do. One way to rephrase the question is, "how many people can we have on the planet, before the ecosystem that sustains them is overloaded and starts to break down?"
Nope you had it for a moment, but now off course again.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
If that's what we're trying to do, max out the ecosystem's carrying capacity, we'll probably find at some point that it can carry more if we put some effort into designing it, rather than exploiting the pockets of natural happenstance that have already occurred.
Happenstance? Design? It's pretty vague. If you mean permaculture, then they are actually the same. We design artificial agricultural systems to function as wild ecosystems and use as many wild parts mixed with domesticated parts to form sustainable "guilds".

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." Bill Mollison

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
It's not a question of killing off all nonhuman life and replacing it with an artificial ecosystem. It's a question of curating the ecosystem we have in a way that maximizes its capacity to sustain a given number of humans.
Theoretically true, but this can not work without placing value on ecosystems and ecosystem services. Otherwise we always end up with the tragedy of the commons.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
For some, the ideal global population is going to be the maximum number of humans that can be sustained with an optimally-managed global ecosystem. Finding the right balance of natural processes and artificial tools. Finding the right mix of land use: shelter versus food versus buffers* versus aesthetics versus entertainment.
That's one form of value, but it is extrinsic rather than intrinsic. This is why I have proposed using carbon markets as a proxie. The ecosystem will have a value even if no one developed the ecosystem for entertainment or agriculture.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And seeking broad consensus about what to prioritize. Some might argue that more food-land would increase the sustainable population limit. Others might argue that they'd rather have a tiger habitat than more humans. And that's a valid argument. There's probably not much point in having more humans if it too many humans are unhappy about the lack of free-range tigers.
Tigers will take care of themselves if they have habitat they can live in unmolested. So yet again, a carbon market that places value on carbon as a proxie for ecosystem function gives a value to that ecosystem, even if not exploited by man for other extrinsic purposes.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And that actually might be another factor in determining the "ideal" population size. We might discover that above a certain number, people just stop being as happy. So then we start thinking about things in terms not of raw sustainability, but about quality of life.
This is a result of the tragedy of the commons. So yeah, but it doesn't apply to the solution that avoids the tragedy of the commons.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
And then we can also start thinking about how population density affects quality of life. Urban hives have a certain ecological impact relative to the number of humans in their footprint. This is very different from the ecological impact of the same number of humans spread out on subsistence-farms. But which footprint produces happier humans?
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I AGREE


Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Another way to rephrase the question of "ideal" population size is "how many people can we have, before they get in the way of the tigers?"

Which is a totally different proposition. But either way, we'll have to get into some detail about competing goods, and the "ideal" ratio of tigers:humans.

---
*I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I assume that a healthy ecosystem - whether natural or managed - needs some components that are not directly related to food or shelter, but contribute supporting processes to enable those things.
aha! ding ding ding we have a winner!
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Old 25th April 2019, 01:39 PM   #185
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Right. I question whether we're going to put effort into designing it.
We already do put effort into designing it. We're probably going to get better at it, and put more effort into it, as time goes on. Certainly if we're looking to optimize human population, sooner or later we're going to take a good hard look at optimizing the ecosystem.

Quote:
Well that's good to know : )
I think this particular bit of the discussion was gratuitously dickish on your part. I don't think you ever seriously doubted it. Taking this tack tends to reduce the value I get from discussing these ideas. Do you want me to keep explaining what I think and why I think it? Or are you going to keep encouraging me to take a break from that and indulge in a bit of the petty snark that dominates so many of the threads here lately?

Quote:
Good luck with that, especially as developing countries become more developed.
I don't follow. We're talking about hypothetical programs to optimize the sustainable human population. How do developing nations make this impossible to do?

Quote:
But here's the thing: For the most part we don't decide on such relative values. We don't know what we've got till it's gone, or almost gone. I'm sure there are great small-scale things going on, but we're talking about a major shift in attitudes and practices worldwide.
Which you will need, to get close to any kind of optimal population.

But we're not even to the point of figuring out how to get consensus on those values. We're still just working on what values those should be.

Quote:
People are already getting in the way of the tigers. After a century of decline, the wild population of tigers is growing - it's now "at least" 4,000, which doesn't sound like very many to me. But they're still hunted to make fake "medicine." (On what might be considered a positive note, it's estimated that there are more pet tigers in the U.S. than there are in the wild).
This sounds like it might be the beginning of an answer to the question, "how many people can we have, before they get in the way of the tigers?"

Maybe the rest of the answer is "a lot less than we have now"; or "somewhat less than we have now, plus moving around some tigers and some humans so they're both happy and not in each other's way"; or even "probably more than we have now, assuming we can move tigers and people out of each other's way, and assuming we can design and manage a more efficient and productive ecosystem overall."

On the other hand, moving tigers around might count as getting in their way, and so we'd be left with "a lot less humans" as the only option. And then we'd have to start figuring out the optimal way to do get a lot less humans.

---
Quote:
That is a wild understatement. Ask Red Baron Farms, he could probably name hundreds or thousands of them related to "healthy" soil. Do we need healthy soil? I'd say ... yeah, we do. I mean, maybe we could grow everything hydroponically in desalinized ocean water with plenty of fertilizer and micronutrients ... but the soil itself is "alive" in a sense, a vital part of the ecosystem we've already got.

It might be more complicated than you think.
If you have a problem with deadpan understatement, then you will probably find my posts far more triggering than they are productive for you.
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Old 25th April 2019, 01:43 PM   #186
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Mostly it seems that we're either talking past each other, in wild agreement with each other, or simply interested in different aspects of the problem that don't have much to do with each other. Whatever the combination of factors, I find that I rarely have anything substantial to say to you. I apologize that I won't be giving your post the attention you gave mine.

Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
<respectful snip>
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Old 25th April 2019, 05:03 PM   #187
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I think this particular bit of the discussion was gratuitously dickish on your part. I don't think you ever seriously doubted it. Taking this tack tends to reduce the value I get from discussing these ideas.
I'm being gratuitously dickish? I formulated an answer to your chaparral vs. housing development question by saying it would depend on particulars. If this is the last bit of chaparral, perhaps the equation changes. You responded by congratulating me on picking out an irrelevant point to seize on, and then chose not to respond to my follow-up questions.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Do you want me to keep explaining what I think and why I think it? Or are you going to keep encouraging me to take a break from that and indulge in a bit of the petty snark that dominates so many of the threads here lately?
lol whut?

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
We're talking about hypothetical programs to optimize the sustainable human population. How do developing nations make this impossible to do?
Straw man much? I never said it was impossible. But look at who consumes energy now and consider how the world would look if every person on the planet was considered entitled to a U.S.-style standard of living. I'm not the only person who thinks that would be unsustainable.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
But we're not even to the point of figuring out how to get consensus on those values. We're still just working on what values those should be.
And I'm saying, time matters. If you have a way to move the conversation forward, spell it out.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
This sounds like it might be the beginning of an answer to the question, "how many people can we have, before they get in the way of the tigers?"

Maybe the rest of the answer is "a lot less than we have now"; or "somewhat less than we have now, plus moving around some tigers and some humans so they're both happy and not in each other's way"; or even "probably more than we have now, assuming we can move tigers and people out of each other's way, and assuming we can design and manage a more efficient and productive ecosystem overall."
If you think 4,000 is adequate, I invite you to speculate on what would happen if 4,000 humans were considered adequate to sustain a genetically diverse population optimized for human health. (And if human habitat were shrinking even as we discussed it).

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
On the other hand, moving tigers around might count as getting in their way, and so we'd be left with "a lot less humans" as the only option. And then we'd have to start figuring out the optimal way to do get a lot less humans.
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
We might discover that above a certain number, people just stop being as happy. So then we start thinking about things in terms not of raw sustainability, but about quality of life.
At which point you still have to work out how to make people happy. Meanwhile, wild tigers have gone extinct.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
If you have a problem with deadpan understatement, then you will probably find my posts far more triggering than they are productive for you.
I didn't know you were joking. I thought maybe you didn't know that ecosystems could be complicated.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Mostly it seems that we're either talking past each other, in wild agreement with each other, or simply interested in different aspects of the problem that don't have much to do with each other. Whatever the combination of factors, I find that I rarely have anything substantial to say to you. I apologize that I won't be giving your post the attention you gave mine.
But I'm the snarky one.
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Old 25th April 2019, 10:03 PM   #188
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Another way to rephrase the question of "ideal" population size is "how many people can we have, before they get in the way of the tigers?"

Which is a totally different proposition. But either way, we'll have to get into some detail about competing goods, and the "ideal" ratio of tigers:humans.
I don't know if you watch Netflix, but I recently watched a nature documentary series on Netflix called Our Planet, and it was fairly fresh in my mind when I started this thread.

In the series you can see satellite images of the earth's surface being taken over by human activity at an alarming rate, and habitats for other wildlife disappearing. A precise census of the tiger population is unclear, but most recent estimates seem to put the number below 5000. That's on the whole planet including all subspecies. So the current ratio is somewhere over 1 million humans per tiger. Obviously, I don't want tigers taking over huge areas of the planet, or eating people, but I'd like there to be a sustainable wild population. Would it bother you if they went extinct? Or elephants, gorillas, orangutans, coral reefs? Just wondering what your perspective is.
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Old 26th April 2019, 08:32 AM   #189
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I don't think we should focus too much on what's going on in the world now, or exactly how we are going to manage to live sustainably, or the problems we face in getting there or any particular species like lions (apart from humans that is ).

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Ultimately, "ideal" depends heavily on what exactly we're trying to do. One way to rephrase the question is, "how many people can we have on the planet, before the ecosystem that sustains them is overloaded and starts to break down?"
The earth has limited resources so can sustain a certain maximum amount of people. The more people the less biodiversity (it's not a linear relationship though).
Ecosystems can weather fluctuations in the environment because of diversity. An ecosystem with more species can cope with larger changes, just like a species with more genetic variation would.
As you mentioned there is a minimum viable population size for species in the wild, around 4000 individuals. There would also be a minimum viable biodiversity for a sustainable ecosystem.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
One balance we might try to achieve is an ecosystem that includes enough different kinds of life to fill all the necessary roles in sustaining a human population of a certain size. We could try to figure out how much biomass is needed for each human in the population. We could try to figure out how much energy input the ecosystem will need, and why and how to store that energy for optimum use.
Yes, for an acceptably high standard of living determine a plausible ecological footprint per person and then plot population size against the biodiversity carrying capacity of the rest of the planet.

Theoretically you could have a planet with only humans, where all food is synthetic and all energy sources are efficiently utilized, thereby sustaining the maximum number people.
Or you could have a single, genetically engineered, optimized crop species capable of sustaining humans and taking up only enough space and resources to feed the people taking up the rest.
Or two species or three etc. but the more species the less humans.

For a natural planetary ecosystem to be stable you probably need at least thousands of species, none of them animals.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
For some, the ideal global population is going to be the maximum number of humans that can be sustained with an optimally-managed global ecosystem.
Does anyone really think that?
You would have to consider quality of life. Having a society with permanently unhappy people will cause enormous problems very quickly. Unhappy people get up to all kinds of mischief.
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Old 26th April 2019, 08:42 AM   #190
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Does anyone really think that?
You would have to consider quality of life. Having a society with permanently unhappy people will cause enormous problems very quickly. Unhappy people get up to all kinds of mischief.
I suspect a lot of people think some form of that. For me, "quality of life" is priced into the overall "maximum". Similar to how Puppycow approaches it. And similar to how you approach it here. You're not against having the maximum sustainable population. You're just saying that sustaining a certain quality of life is going to be part of that equation. And I agree.
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Old 27th April 2019, 03:46 PM   #191
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I suspect a lot of people think some form of that. For me, "quality of life" is priced into the overall "maximum". Similar to how Puppycow approaches it. And similar to how you approach it here. You're not against having the maximum sustainable population. You're just saying that sustaining a certain quality of life is going to be part of that equation. And I agree.
So what you're maximizing isn't population, it's some function of population, but it's not just population.

I think the framing of "positive experiences" or something like that captures a lot of most of us consider to be intuitively valuable. And like your framing it suggests that without feedback effects higher population is better, but it also gives a clear way of understanding how those feedback effects can impact on whether or not any particular marginal increase adds net benefit. It makes explicit why quality of life is part of the equation, as well as why we might value* both other humans and other animals. Finally it can give a means of exploring questions about how to balance human and animal life (based on the specific experiences that each has).

I do think there are some problems with this framing and issues that need to be worked out, but it's actually close to what our actual moral intuitions exist in reference too, if only implicitly.

*"Attribute intrinsic value to"
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Old 27th April 2019, 04:53 PM   #192
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The OP is based on a flawed - but all too common - assumption, namely that population growth is the cause of environmental unsustainability. The correlation suggested by the OP between these two factors is more spurious than real.


Some further remarks:

- The countries at the bottom (the poorest) are the ones with the highest population growths, the ones at the top (the richest) are the ones with the lowest population growths.

- The same relation that holds worldwide (as per the graph above) which generally corresponds to comparing different countries also holds within countries. If you, say, compared rich Americans vs poor Americans you'd get a similar graph.

- While the graph is for CO2 emissions it also holds generally for other environmental pressures such as destruction of habitats for animal agriculture.

- While the world population has continued to grow over the past few decades, the increase in environmental pressure over that time period has been almost entirely due to increases in consumption by the richest who live in places where the population hasn't grown all that much, rather than by the poorest who live in places where the population did grow a lot.

- World population is expected to stabilize at around 11 billion which is perfectly sustainable given that the richest 10-20% take on a lifestyle similar to those below that line.

I'm surprised none of you caught the spurious nature of the correlation assumed by the OP. The name Anthropogenic Global Warming has got to be one of the worst and misleading names for a phenomenon ever chosen.

Furthermore environmentalism expressed through a focus on "overpopulation" and population growth has been a basis for far-right ideology since the time of Nazi Germany (see for example Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience) because it of course plays well into the hands of racists who are more than happy to - incorrectly - point the finger at third world countries with high population growth under the guise of "concern for the environment." I'm of course not claiming that the OP, or anyone else here for that matter, is inspired by far-right ideology but it's irresponsible to go with such sloppy analyses since this has real world consequences in fueling far-right ideology and recruitment (see for example the large section on "overpopulation" and birth rates as "environmental concerns" in the New Zealand mosque shooter's manifesto ETA: can't find a link and apparently it's been censored but I have a copy saved so if someone wants to read it just send me a PM).
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Old 27th April 2019, 06:30 PM   #193
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
"For me, no changes to the environment are harmful. But not all changes serve my purpose." - Saint Paul, probably
I agree with your general position and arguments in this thread, as exemplified by this quotation above, but I think you go off the rails on this one:

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Human value is not a system of formal logic. I don't agree that it can be reduced to a mathematical equation.
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Logic is entirely the wrong tool to answer the question of human value.
Obviously, as Clinger shows, utility functions can exist with the given property but that doesn't mean that this is the actual utility function people use, yet that doesn't mean that the actual utility function people use could not be expressed mathematically. You don't have to throw logic and math in general out of the window just because a contrived counter-example exists (hey, for all you know the probability measure of functions with said property in the space of all possible utility functions is zero and Clinger's point would be almost surely irrelevant )
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Old 27th April 2019, 08:37 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by W.D.Clinger View Post
I used math, in the form of a model whose specifics were (deliberately) implausible but whose general form (with tragedy at the extremes, but positive value between those extremes) is hard to argue against.

I note that no one has tried to argue against that general form of model. To argue against that general form of model, someone would have to argue for at least one of these two positions: (1) that a population of 1 person is better than a population of, say 1 billion; (2) that a population that implies 100 humans per square meter of the earth's surface is better than a population of 1 billion.

I also note that the general form of that model implies, as a matter of logic and mathematics, that everyone who is unable or unwilling to argue against the general form of that model must either (1) abandon the tools provided by logic and mathematics or (2) agree that some finite bound on the global population of humans is better than the extrema (1 or 510 trillion).
It's a bit unclear what you mean by the general form (tragedy at the extremes but positive value between those extremes). If you mean

limN -> inf f(N) = 0 and for all N: f(N) > 0

then any f such that

1 < f(N-1)/f(N) < N/(N-1)

would be a counterexample. ETA: for example f(N) = 1 / (1 + |N - Nideal|0.5)
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Old 27th April 2019, 10:43 PM   #195
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
The OP is based on a flawed - but all too common - assumption, namely that population growth is the cause of environmental unsustainability. The correlation suggested by the OP between these two factors is more spurious than real.
That's no assumption, the earth is finite in resources and can sustain a finite population.
Your graph is nice but it's part of the standard of living vs sustainable population size relationship we have been discussing. What is important is the average standard of living and how many people can be sustained.
Ideally I'd want everyone to have as similar a standard of living as possible and not the completely lopsided distribution in the graph.
Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
The name Anthropogenic Global Warming has got to be one of the worst and misleading names for a phenomenon ever chosen.


You go completely off the rails on this one:
Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Furthermore environmentalism expressed through a focus on "overpopulation" and population growth has been a basis for far-right ideology since the time of Nazi Germany (see for example Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience) because it of course plays well into the hands of racists who are more than happy to - incorrectly - point the finger at third world countries with high population growth under the guise of "concern for the environment."
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Old 27th April 2019, 11:40 PM   #196
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
The OP is based on a flawed - but all too common - assumption, namely that population growth is the cause of environmental unsustainability. The correlation suggested by the OP between these two factors is more spurious than real.
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...ictureid=12129

Some further remarks:

- The countries at the bottom (the poorest) are the ones with the highest population growths, the ones at the top (the richest) are the ones with the lowest population growths.

- The same relation that holds worldwide (as per the graph above) which generally corresponds to comparing different countries also holds within countries. If you, say, compared rich Americans vs poor Americans you'd get a similar graph.

- While the graph is for CO2 emissions it also holds generally for other environmental pressures such as destruction of habitats for animal agriculture.

- While the world population has continued to grow over the past few decades, the increase in environmental pressure over that time period has been almost entirely due to increases in consumption by the richest who live in places where the population hasn't grown all that much, rather than by the poorest who live in places where the population did grow a lot.

- World population is expected to stabilize at around 11 billion which is perfectly sustainable given that the richest 10-20% take on a lifestyle similar to those below that line.

I'm surprised none of you caught the spurious nature of the correlation assumed by the OP. The name Anthropogenic Global Warming has got to be one of the worst and misleading names for a phenomenon ever chosen.

Furthermore environmentalism expressed through a focus on "overpopulation" and population growth has been a basis for far-right ideology since the time of Nazi Germany (see for example Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience) because it of course plays well into the hands of racists who are more than happy to - incorrectly - point the finger at third world countries with high population growth under the guise of "concern for the environment." I'm of course not claiming that the OP, or anyone else here for that matter, is inspired by far-right ideology but it's irresponsible to go with such sloppy analyses since this has real world consequences in fueling far-right ideology and recruitment (see for example the large section on "overpopulation" and birth rates as "environmental concerns" in the New Zealand mosque shooter's manifesto ETA: can't find a link and apparently it's been censored but I have a copy saved so if someone wants to read it just send me a PM).
Wow all over the place with this one. It's a pity you can't structure your thoughts a bit better. There might be a few juicy bits in there for an interesting discussion.

For example: As population and technology grew, coal and oil use actually became significantly less damaging to the environment than the previous reliance on wood for most our energy needs. We were able to gain huge improvements in quality of life for humans and at the same time replant vast acreage of forests.

I never realized how huge this was until I sailed around Haiti and saw an extreme example of what reliance on a wood charcoal economy can do to the forests. And it really doesn't even get that cold there. The devastation is for cooking energy only! You literally can see the border on Hispaniola between Haiti and Dominican Republic! Beautiful tropical forests on one side of the border, and barren wasteland on the other.

An Island Divided: What We Must Learn From the Tragedy of Hispaniola

And Dominican Republic really isn't that rich actually. Most the country gets electricity only a few hours a day and fresh water once a week or so. But they make good use of batteries and water tanks to store these intermittent utilities, and it makes a huge difference compared to Haiti.

And yet, the overuse of this same technology that gave us the ability to replant our forests in developed countries is also in the end going to be our downfall if we don't take the next step past them. This does take a certain level of highly educated and motivated population. So yes I can agree with certain parts of your comment.

But then you seem to use this as an excuse to not take that next step. Some incoherent babble about AGW being a misleading name and other wooish nonsense. This would be a huge mistake. A mistake that will ultimately cause a vast tragedy of the commons Malthusian collapse and send us back thousands of years into a dark ages far far worse than the last one. Since all the easy oil and coal are mostly gone, it means we may never in any foreseeable future get back to the capability to take that step again???? Hard to say. Maybe, maybe not. My crystal ball doesn't focus in good enough detail to know. But it certainly seems like it would be much much much more difficult this next time around.

So I suspect it just might be much wiser to make sure this doesn't happen by making sure we actually do take that next step... And that boils down to two main things, both of which are AGW mitigation strategies.
  1. Regenerative agriculture.
  2. Safe nuclear power combined with renewables like solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal.

I wrote a little about that here:
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Old 28th April 2019, 05:47 AM   #197
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
That's no assumption, the earth is finite in resources and can sustain a finite population.
Yes it's an assumption and a provably false one at that. Suppose we have two populations, A which has 1 person who uses 1000 units of environmental resources and B which has 2 persons each of whom use 1 unit of environmental resources. Total usage is hence 1002 units, and let's assume that the carrying capacity of the Earth is 1500 units, so at this point we are sustainable (1002 is smaller than 1500). Now suppose at some time later population A has stayed the same size, 1 person but who now uses 2000 units, whereas population B has doubled in size to 4 all still using 1 unit each. Total usage is now 2004 units and we're not sustainable anymore (2004 is greater than 1500). Has the population growth caused the environmental sustainability? The answer is no and assuming that it did is a flawed assumption.

Quote:
Your graph is nice but it's part of the standard of living vs sustainable population size relationship we have been discussing. What is important is the average standard of living and how many people can be sustained.
Ideally I'd want everyone to have as similar a standard of living as possible and not the completely lopsided distribution in the graph.
Irrespective of what you'd ideally want the reality is that the distribution is highly skewed which makes the average meaningless as a measure of central tendency. But it gets even worse, let's consider the model that you and others appear to be using for the distribution:

Usetotal = Useavg * Ntotal

and taking the derivative

D(Usetotal) = D(Useavg * Ntotal)
= D(Useavg) * Ntotal + Useavg * D(Ntotal)

You're focusing on the second term, D(Ntotal) is the population growth, whereas D(Usetotal) is almost entirely determined by the first term. Even worse, the D's in both of those terms strongly depend on wealth. D(Useavg) is concentrated at high wealth (the rich get richer and the poor stay poor) whereas D(Ntotal) is concentrated at low wealth (the poor have much higher population growth than the rich, some of the richest places even have negative population growth).

Quote:
Capitalogenic Global Warming would be much better, given that the determining factor is (growth of) wealth rather than (growth of) human population.

Quote:
You go completely off the rails on this one:

Not at all, not only did environmentalism historically feature in the propaganda and policies of Nazi Germany where this sort of Malthusian analysis based on "overpopulation" was used as an argumentative basis for its racist policies, but in the past decade or so with the reinvention of the far-right this aspect has ballooned into a major issue with fascist infiltration and cross-recruitment in environmentalist circles. Seriously, go read the New Zealand shooter's manifesto, these days those things aren't the exception but the rule as the far-right has oriented itself to try to grow by piggybacking on increased environmental awareness in society.

Besides, population growth as the main analytical basis (ie focusing on the second term in that equation above) has always been a distinct element of right-wing ideology from liberals to fascists, with the fascists taking it a step further to stir racial hatred by pointing and ranting about how "their" population growth is destroying "our" environment. In left-wing environmentalism the main analytical basis is the first term in that equation above, with policy proposals based on changing the distribution whilst reducing its skewness, things like "System change not climate change" to put it in sloganesque form.
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Old 28th April 2019, 07:17 AM   #198
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Wow all over the place with this one. It's a pity you can't structure your thoughts a bit better. There might be a few juicy bits in there for an interesting discussion.
What's wrong with the structure?

Quote:
For example: As population and technology grew, coal and oil use actually became significantly less damaging to the environment than the previous reliance on wood for most our energy needs. We were able to gain huge improvements in quality of life for humans and at the same time replant vast acreage of forests.
And? Are you claiming population growth is the main causal factor behind technological growth?

Quote:
I never realized how huge this was until I sailed around Haiti and saw an extreme example of what reliance on a wood charcoal economy can do to the forests. And it really doesn't even get that cold there. The devastation is for cooking energy only! You literally can see the border on Hispaniola between Haiti and Dominican Republic! Beautiful tropical forests on one side of the border, and barren wasteland on the other.

An Island Divided: What We Must Learn From the Tragedy of Hispaniola

And Dominican Republic really isn't that rich actually. Most the country gets electricity only a few hours a day and fresh water once a week or so. But they make good use of batteries and water tanks to store these intermittent utilities, and it makes a huge difference compared to Haiti.
Again, and?

Quote:
And yet, the overuse of this same technology that gave us the ability to replant our forests in developed countries is also in the end going to be our downfall if we don't take the next step past them.
That doesn't follow, technological change is not a necessary condition.

Quote:
This does take a certain level of highly educated and motivated population. So yes I can agree with certain parts of your comment.
What it takes, just like any policy proposal, is a certain level of education and motivation by the subset of the population which decides policy. Too bad that subset has a vested interest against such policy, see next point.

Quote:
But then you seem to use this as an excuse to not take that next step. Some incoherent babble about AGW being a misleading name and other wooish nonsense. This would be a huge mistake. A mistake that will ultimately cause a vast tragedy of the commons Malthusian collapse and send us back thousands of years into a dark ages far far worse than the last one. Since all the easy oil and coal are mostly gone, it means we may never in any foreseeable future get back to the capability to take that step again???? Hard to say. Maybe, maybe not. My crystal ball doesn't focus in good enough detail to know. But it certainly seems like it would be much much much more difficult this next time around.
If anything is wooish nonsense it'll be that tragedy of the commons and Malthusianism. Not only is that tragedy of the commons a fictional story but it's both historically and analytically incorrect.

Historically, the English commons were used sustainably with communal mechanisms in place to ensure nobody took advantage of the productive resource to the detriment of the community (basically punishing those who did). It's with the privatization of the commons that they started being used unsustainably.

Analytically, you're confusing use-value and exchange-value. The use-value of something is the value based on its direct utility as that product (for example I value my laptop as a use-value because I use it for specific actions that I find useful to take) whereas the exchange-value of something is the value based on its ability to be bought and sold for a certain price in the market (for example the manufacturer of my laptop values it as an exchange-value because it's just a means of making a profit, if something else became more profitable they'd just switch to that other product).

This leads to different and opposing interests with regards to the use of resources, for example I'd want my laptop to keep working because I put value in using it whereas the manufacturer would want my laptop to break down because it's more profitable if I have to buy a new one (and you get things like planned obsolescence). Indeed, relating to resources as exchange-values (ie just as means to increase one's capital) almost ensures the unsustainable use of said resources by the problem of future discounting of values as was pointed out in post 166.

Which brings us to the earlier point, since that subset of the population that relates to productive resources as exchange-values (ie the bourgeoisie who, by definition, owns the means of production) and hence has a vested interest in unsustainable use of those resources is the same subset of the population that decides policy. The problem is rather the tragedy of the failure of the commons.

Quote:
So I suspect it just might be much wiser to make sure this doesn't happen by making sure we actually do take that next step... And that boils down to two main things, both of which are AGW mitigation strategies.
Even if we assume that the problem is implementation of those technologies then how would you go about achieving that given that, as per the above, the subset of the population that determines policy also has a vested interest against accounting for future values? Those two technologies are not "AGW mitigation strategies" since they're not even strategies at all, at best they're just one of many possible sets of goals that would mitigate global warming.
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Old 28th April 2019, 11:15 AM   #199
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Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
What's wrong with the structure?
Too many loose ends. You know where they are going, but nobody else does, unless they heard you speak about it before, or are mind readers.



Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
And? Are you claiming population growth is the main causal factor behind technological growth?
Increased population allows greater specialization which fuels technology. I am not sure if it is the main factor, but yes it certainly is an important factor.



Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
That doesn't follow, technological change is not a necessary condition.
As surely as the rivers flow down to the ocean.



Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
What it takes, just like any policy proposal, is a certain level of education and motivation by the subset of the population which decides policy. Too bad that subset has a vested interest against such policy, see next point.



If anything is wooish nonsense it'll be that tragedy of the commons and Malthusianism. Not only is that tragedy of the commons a fictional story but it's both historically and analytically incorrect.
No, it is a thought experiment that describes oft-repeated human behavior.

Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Historically, the English commons were used sustainably with communal mechanisms in place to ensure nobody took advantage of the productive resource to the detriment of the community (basically punishing those who did).
Anglocentric view of a universal thought experiment ... but ok....and where and why exactly did those "communal mechanisms" come into play if the thought experiment is invalid? You actually are providing evidence against your own argument.



Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
It's with the privatization of the commons that they started being used unsustainably.
.... very tempting to say something nasty here... but I won't..... Lets just say this is a factually incorrect statement that is not at all based on any evidence at all, and frankly pretty naive. Further there are vast evidences found all over the world prior to the English even being an ethnicity and longer still before the English privatization of the English commons.....where unsustainable use of resources can be found. It goes all the way back to prehistory and hunter gatherer times and never really leaves human society ever since.

Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Analytically, you're confusing use-value and exchange-value. The use-value of something is the value based on its direct utility as that product (for example I value my laptop as a use-value because I use it for specific actions that I find useful to take) whereas the exchange-value of something is the value based on its ability to be bought and sold for a certain price in the market (for example the manufacturer of my laptop values it as an exchange-value because it's just a means of making a profit, if something else became more profitable they'd just switch to that other product).

This leads to different and opposing interests with regards to the use of resources, for example I'd want my laptop to keep working because I put value in using it whereas the manufacturer would want my laptop to break down because it's more profitable if I have to buy a new one (and you get things like planned obsolescence). Indeed, relating to resources as exchange-values (ie just as means to increase one's capital) almost ensures the unsustainable use of said resources by the problem of future discounting of values as was pointed out in post 166.
No not at all. I am not confusing any of that. In fact I am proposing a way to help extract ourselves from that trap. It's not perfect. But it would be far better than what we have now. why? By motivating those vested interests to align better with each other towards more cooperative efforts, rather than being diametrically opposed.

Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Which brings us to the earlier point, since that subset of the population that relates to productive resources as exchange-values (ie the bourgeoisie who, by definition, owns the means of production) and hence has a vested interest in unsustainable use of those resources is the same subset of the population that decides policy. The problem is rather the tragedy of the failure of the commons.
really really hard to stop myself from saying something nasty here.....but again...I will do my best to remain calm and simply say that yes, the tragedy of the commons thought experiment does indeed describe the failure of the commons.... as to why? You might want to investigate better exactly what the thought experiment describes.



Originally Posted by caveman1917 View Post
Even if we assume that the problem is implementation of those technologies then how would you go about achieving that given that, as per the above, the subset of the population that determines policy also has a vested interest against accounting for future values? Those two technologies are not "AGW mitigation strategies" since they're not even strategies at all, at best they're just one of many possible sets of goals that would mitigate global warming.
In part you are right. A bit pedantic but yes, these technologies are but two front runners in a much larger suite of technologies. However the strategy is in the implementation of the technology, not the technology itself. And you asked how could that be achieved? As I said before, I propose a carbon market as a proxie to ecosystem function, since all life on the planet is carbon based. This would give real value to so called "hidden costs". They would no longer be hidden and instead become a part of our markets. Then instead of the constant fight between vested producers and the rest of society, their forces and motivations in the markets would more correctly align. This means we would need less governmental regulatory burden to accomplish the same ends.

But yes. You are correct in so much as without those forces working in cooperation, then communal measures must be taken to prevent the powerful from destroying the very civilization that gave them wealth and power to begin with. We do that now with regulatory burden, but it is a very inefficient process that makes almost everybody equally unhappy and antagonistic and will ultimately only be settled by war. Which is not good at all.
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Old 29th April 2019, 11:09 AM   #200
caveman1917
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Too many loose ends. You know where they are going, but nobody else does, unless they heard you speak about it before, or are mind readers.
Got any examples?

Quote:
Increased population allows greater specialization which fuels technology. I am not sure if it is the main factor, but yes it certainly is an important factor.
If that were true then why aren't the highest population countries the ones with the most advanced technology? And why aren't the ones with the highest population growth the ones with the fastest technological growth?

Quote:
As surely as the rivers flow down to the ocean.
Obviously not, even the suggestion by some earlier in the thread to reduce the population to about 10 million or so would constitute a valid goal state (ie a state which would mitigate global warming) yet does not require implementation of your proposed technologies. You're confusing the concept "I prefer X" with "X is necessary."

Quote:
No, it is a thought experiment that describes oft-repeated human behavior.

Anglocentric view of a universal thought experiment ... but ok....and where and why exactly did those "communal mechanisms" come into play if the thought experiment is invalid? You actually are providing evidence against your own argument.
The parable of the Tragedy of the Commons is mostly analyzed with respect to the English commons and the author has even explicitly used it for that example. At least until it was quickly debunked by historians and the author switched to "it was just a thought experiment." As for the mechanisms in place which allowed the English commons to be successfully and sustainably managed for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years - until they got privatized - those would include "stinting" (limiting the number of livestock that any farmer can bring).

Quote:
.... very tempting to say something nasty here... but I won't..... Lets just say this is a factually incorrect statement that is not at all based on any evidence at all, and frankly pretty naive. Further there are vast evidences found all over the world prior to the English even being an ethnicity and longer still before the English privatization of the English commons.....where unsustainable use of resources can be found. It goes all the way back to prehistory and hunter gatherer times and never really leaves human society ever since.
It's just fascinating how you're using a parable as a basis for your argument and then complain about a statement that is "not at all based on any evidence at all." You can find several references in this article, and tons of examples from commons around the world in Governing the Commons (pdf). What was that again about using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of real experiments? Oh right, it was 5 points.

Quote:
really really hard to stop myself from saying something nasty here.....but again...I will do my best to remain calm and simply say that yes, the tragedy of the commons thought experiment does indeed describe the failure of the commons.... as to why? You might want to investigate better exactly what the thought experiment describes.
I meant as in the tragedy of the failure of the commons to resist privatization.

Quote:
No not at all. I am not confusing any of that. In fact I am proposing a way to help extract ourselves from that trap. It's not perfect. But it would be far better than what we have now. why? By motivating those vested interests to align better with each other towards more cooperative efforts, rather than being diametrically opposed.
Quote:
In part you are right. A bit pedantic but yes, these technologies are but two front runners in a much larger suite of technologies. However the strategy is in the implementation of the technology, not the technology itself. And you asked how could that be achieved? As I said before, I propose a carbon market as a proxie to ecosystem function, since all life on the planet is carbon based. This would give real value to so called "hidden costs". They would no longer be hidden and instead become a part of our markets. Then instead of the constant fight between vested producers and the rest of society, their forces and motivations in the markets would more correctly align. This means we would need less governmental regulatory burden to accomplish the same ends.
And how would you go about motivating vested interests to work against their own interest? You're just going to "propose" it to them? Sounds like you don't really have any strategy, let alone a global warming mitigation strategy. What you have is a preferred valid goal state but not a strategy (ie a way of getting from the current state to whatever goal state you want to achieve).
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"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." - Lucy Parsons
"Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!" - Mikhail Bakunin

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