Meadows Beyond the Limits. Threats from population explosion and “limits” to finite resources?. Limits (Meadows et al.)
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Beyond the Limits
Limits (Meadows et al.)
When Meadows et al. wrote of “limits,” they were referring to limits to the rates at which modern human lifestyles and associated consumption through capitalism and industrialization can use materials and energy,
and limits to the rates at which wastes can be emitted without harm to people, the economy, or the earth’s processes of absorption, regeneration, and regulation.
E.G. gases emitted from your car into the air, tailings from an industrial
plant released into soil, chemicals from a paper mill released into a lake
-- the sustainable rate of emission can be no greater than the rate at which
that pollutant can be recycled, absorbed, or rendered harmless by the
environment. (For example, sewage can be put into stream or lake at the
rate at which the natural ecosystem in the water can absorb its nutrients --
the antithesis is represented by some factory farms like chickens in MD.)
To illustrate, lakes, forests, oceans are examples of “sinks.” For example,
forests can absorb carbon, but how well they do this depends on how
much carbon and how much forest there is…there are “limits”!
Sources are obvious e.g. fish. We model these using scientific methods.
Represents the maximum population of a particular species that a given
habitat can support over a particular period of time.
E.G. soil, water, forest, fish -- the sustainable rate of use can be no greater
thank the rate of regeneration.
(Thus, for example, fish are harvested sustainably when they are caught
at a rate that can be replaced by the remaining fish population.)
E.G. fossil fuel, high-grade mineral ore, fossil ground water -- the
sustainable rate of use of which can be no greater than the rate at which a
renewable resource, used sustainably, can be substituted for it.
(E.G., an oil deposit would arguably be used sustainably if part of the
profits from it were systematically invested in solar collectors or in tree
planting, so that when the oil is gone, an equivalent stream of renewable
energy is still available.)
high grade energy
1 inch =s 25.4 millimeters
and rising demand in
consumption and pollution
How much can the “sinks”
ANALOGY: An example from the world of conservation biology
Species that serve as early warnings that a community or ecosystem is
Arguably, we can use energy consumption as an indicator that a society is
consuming many resources, and therefore may be having a relatively large
impact upon earth and its “non-renewable” resources when compared to
other communities living a different lifestyle which is not so energy
consumptive. A result is what Meadows refers to as massive “throughput.”
and where is resource
use most intense?!
Where are you from?
Run Elemental Geosystems CD map section day/night animation
high grade energy
The blame game
Consumption per capita!
hint at the potential for conflict
Meadows says consumption and pollution are main environmental problems,
What about the added impacts of growing populations? (3rd World problem?!_
WE STOP HERE
“The number of mouths to be fed will have no limit; but the food that is to supply them cannot keep pace with the demand for it; we must come to a stop somewhere, even though each square yard, by extreme improvements in cultivation, could maintain its man.
we shall be hurled once more into a profounder abyss of misery, want, and barbarism that ever by the sole operation of the principle of population!”
(Births + Immigration) – (Deaths + Emigration)
Thomas Malthus in the early 1800s. Started arguments regarding whether
there are physical and biological limits to growth, beyond which both
ecological and economic collapse are likely to occur.
Population change equation
But consumption is not linear, as we consumer more and more
per capita (draw if nec.)
These are percentages, so the resulting total numbers in pop growth
We speak of the limits science now knows about, learning from history,
yet a few decades ago we knew nothing of many (climate chg).
How many did Malthus know of?
So…what is the role of “frontier science?”
In general, we would choose a population size that maximizes very broad environmental and social options for individuals.
G. Daily, A. Ehrlich & P. Ehrlich, 1994 (assumes limits and control)
I consider the dramatic growth in the world's population to be the greatest
challenge currently facing the environment... The effects of this rapid
increase are felt around the globe. Starvation, deforestation and lack of
clean water are just some of the problems.. Al Gore, U.S. Vice-President
1st. destroyed by infanticide, as among the Chinese and Lacedemonians;
or 2d. it is stifled or starved, as among other nations whose population is
commensurate to its food;
or 3d. it is consumed by wars and endemic diseases;
or 4th. it overflows, by emigration, to places where a surplus of
food is attainable.”
James Madison, 1791
Population size (thousands)
YearThe Role of Predation in Controlling Population Size
What eats us?! (...that we let stay around)
(hazard mitigation and medicine)
Growth in which some quantity, such as population size or economic
output increases by a fixed percentage of the whole in a given time period;
when the increase in quantity over time is plotted, this type of growth
yields a curve shaped like the letter J.
Growth that follows a geometric pattern of increase, such as 2, 4, 8, 16,
Growth in which a quantity increases by some fixed amount during each
unit of time.
ENV SC Animation on E growth (on CD)
Will industrialization and a consumption intensive approach
lead to overflowing our sinks and running out of resources on
national and global scales?
What will be the result of this?
Is reducing population and its flow always a good thing?
In the U.S. (CNN pop video)
Immigrants make great contributions to life in other countries
-- be they Irish, Italian, Chinese, Filipino, etc. etc.
Populations age if they reach negative population growth --
social security funds!!
Bigotry or misunderstanding?
The case of insurance
per 1,000 live births
?One reason to have large families?
Is it population… or is it consumption per capita! Link dem trans anim
Should we be graphing population, or consumption per population?!
Kilocalories per Person per Day
Green is represents the “sink” (Meadows)
Test - If Hardin was right about the “commons,” then who will regulate
the U.S.? …Kyoto, Bush, etc. Draw lake if necc
If countries with fewer people fill the global sinks more than countries
with more people, then who is the real concern?
And, we encourage other countries to “develop” into our lifestyles!
(does Meadow’s work support this view?!)
Too much to discuss. Take a population class!!
The UNLV Rebel Recycling Program would like to thank everyone for recycling!!!! Through our combined efforts, we have recycled 632 TONS of materials in 2005*!!!!! Our 2005 New Year's Resolution was successful because in 2004, we recycled 542 tons of materials. Our 2006 New Year's Resolution is to top our record AGAIN!!!! We hope you will join us!
The Rebel Recycling Program diverted 632 tons of material from the Clark County landfill in 2005. A total of approximately 2.6 tons of materials per work day was collected and processed by the program. In 2004, we recycled 407.7 tons of paper, cardboard and books. In 2005, we recycled 466.3 tons of paper products. Please keep recycling! REMEMBER we provide office clean-out bin service, shredding service and special pick-up service!!!!
Here is the breakdown by material:
Cardboard = 156.7 tons
White Paper = 46.2 tons Office Pack/Mix Paper = 107.4 tons Pre-shredded Paper = 27 tons
Newspaper = 52.4 tons
Coated Book Stock = 2.5 tons
Chipboard/Waste Paper = 13 tons
Hardcover Books = 6.2 tons Soft Cover Books = 32.2 tons Telephone Books = 23 tons
Aluminum = 1.2 tons Scrap Metal = 1156.5 tons
Plastic (Plastic #1 & #2) = 7.1 tons
Computer Castings = .37 tons
* Figure does not include the approximately 16,000 to 18,000 cubic feet of reusable items (such as clothing, etc) or the toner/ink jet cartridges.
Tara Pike-Nordstrom, UNLV Solid Waste and Recycling Manager, email@example.com
"Through the animal and vegetable kingdoms, nature has scattered the seeds of life abroad with the most profuse and liberal hand. She has been comparatively sparing in the room, and the nourishment necessary to rear them... The race of plants, and race of animals shrink under this great restrictive law. And the race of man cannot, by any efforts of reason, escape from it. Among plants and animals its effects are waste of seed, sickness, and premature death. Among mankind, misery and vice. ...
For let the principles of Mr. Godwin's Enquiry14 and of other similar works be carried literally and completely into effect; let every corruption and abuse of power be entirely got rid of; let virtue, knowledge and civilization be advanced to the greatest height that these visionary reformers would suppose; let the passions and appetites be subjected to the utmost control of reason and influence of public opinion: grant them, in a word, all that they ask, and the more completely their views are realized, the sooner will they be overthrown again, and the more inevitable and fatal will be the catastrophe. For the principle of population will still prevail, and from the comfort, ease and plenty that will abound, will receive an increasing force and impetus. The number of mouths to be fed will have no limit; but the food that is to supply them cannot keep pace with the demand for it; we must come to a stop somewhere, even though each square yard, by extreme improvements in cultivation, could maintain its man. In this state of things there will be no remedy; the wholesome checks of vice and misery (which have hitherto kept this principle within bounds) will have been done away; the voice of reason will be unheard; the passions only will bear sway; famine, distress, havoc and dismay will spread around; hatred, violence, war and bloodshed will be the infallible consequence; and from the pinnacle of happiness, peace, refinement and social advantage we shall be hurled once more into a profounder abyss of misery, want, and barbarism that ever by the sole operation of the principle of population!"
Malthus writes of Godwin's scheme: "A melioration of society [which Mr. Godwin proposes] to be produced merely by reason and conviction gives more promise of permanence than any change effected and maintained by force. ... The substitution of benevolence, as the master-spring and moving principle of society, instead of self-love appears at first sight to be a consummation devoutly to be wished. In short, it is impossible to contemplate the whole of this fair picture without emotions of delight and admiration, accompanied with an ardent longing for the period of its accomplishment. But alas! that moment can never arrive ..."
15 Malthus writes further: "Wars, plagues or that greater depopulator than either, a tyrannical government." Indeed, Malthus was of the general view that "human institutions appear to be, and often are, the obvious and obtrusive causes of much mischief to society.”
"An Essay on the Principle of Population as it affects the Future Improvement on Society, with Remarks on the Speculation of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet and other Writers.” second edition 1803,
he made 5 editions
Malthus asserted that there was only two things that kept population down: vice and misery, two necessary evils (their agents being war, famine, and disease).15 When Malthus brought out the 1803 edition of his work (by then turned into a substantial book) he added "moral restraint" as a further check. "The various checks to population seem all to be resolvable into moral restraint, vice, and misery." "By moral restraint I mean a restraint from marriage, from prudential motives, with a conduct strictly moral." "Delaying the gratification of passion from a sense of duty." It needs to be emphasized that the check of "moral restraint" was by Malthus only admitted in his further editions, indeed, in his later writings Malthus laid considerable stress on moral deterrent.
The most grating conclusion of the several which Malthus comes to in his Essay is not that eventually population left unchecked will outstrip man's ability to live on this planet (as true a proposition to-day as it was in 1798); or that war, pestilence, and alike were natural checks against population (they are); but rather that we are all left with a Hobson's choice, with nature being the stable keeper. Or, if one likes, two choices with no difference in the result; either leave the old checks in place (as if we could remove them) or suffer the consequences of overpopulation. It is clear from a reading of his writings that Malthus thought there is nothing we might do to help ourselves; indeed, any laws aimed at the betterment of society, to alleviate want and misery, was likely only to aggravate the evils it sought to cure. The only thing for us, is to have faith that the same forces which brought man to his modern state, might be allowed to continue to preserve him.
Malthus was a realist who was picked upon by the idealists. It is always easy for an idealist to pick on a realist, for the story of the idealist, to the unknowing, is usually sweet to the ear; though endlessly fascinating, reality has its tough spots which, it is human nature, we try to avoid. With the publication of his Essay on Population, a storm ran through the country. I quote Malthus' biographer, James Bonar:
"For thirty years it rained refutations. Malthus was the most abused man of the age, put down as a man who defended smallpox, slavery and child murder, who denounced soup kitchens, early marriage and parish allowances; who had the impudence to marry after preaching against the evils of a family; who thought the world so badly governed that the best actions do the most harm; who, in short, took all romance out of life."17 Professor C. H. Herford18:
"The storm aroused by the essay is still a familiar tradition. A score of forgotten 'replies' intervened between the first edition and the second. Tories, theologians, democrats and poets, for the most part denounced it; but the Whig lawyers and economists rallied with surprising alacrity to its defence. Mackintosh and Brougham gave in their adhesion, Dr. Parr, in his famous Spital Sermon, 1800, used it with damaging effect against Godwin, and Pitt himself dropped his proposed additions to the Poor-law in deference to Malthus's criticism; - a foretaste of the day, a generation later, when the entire Poor-law system was to be recast under Malthus's influence." The political muckraker of the day, William Cobbett scoffed, "How can Malthus and his nasty and silly disciples19 , how can those who want to abolish the Poor Rates, to prevent the poor from marrying; how can this at once stupid and conceited tribe look the labouring man in the face, while they call on him to take up arms, to risk his life in defense of the land."20
What Malthus had to say about the poor, was this:
"The poor-laws of England tend to depress the general condition of the poor in these two ways. This first obvious tendency is to increase population without increasing the food for its support. A poor man may marry with little or no prospect of being able to support a family in independence. They may be said therefore in some measure to create the poor which they maintain; and as the provisions of the country must, in consequence of the increased population, be distributed to every man in smaller proportions, it is evident that the labour of those who are not supported by parish assistance will purchase a smaller quantity of provisions than before, and consequently, more of them must be driven to ask for support. Secondly, the quantity of provisions consumed in workhouses upon a part of the society, that cannot in general be considered the most valuable part, diminishes the shares that would otherwise belong to more worthy members; and thus in the same manner forces more to become dependent. ...
Other circumstances being the same, it may be affirmed that countries are populous according to the quantity of human food which they produce or can acquire, and happy according to the liberality with which this food is divided, or the quantity which a day's labour will purchase. Corn countries are more populous than pasture countries, and rice countries more populous than corn countries. But their happiness does not depend upon their being thinly or fully inhabited, upon their poverty or their richness, their youth or their age, but on the proportion which the population and the good bear to each other." The historical setting, in which Malthus brought out his work, must be considered. The poor, especially those in the rural areas, were numerous and were generally in a bad state. It was generally thought that the plight of the poor was due to the landed aristocracy, that they had the government levers in their hands and used them to advance the upper classes at the expense of the poor. William Hazlitt who was in the full flower of his writing during these times, contrasted the two groups: "A labouring man is not allowed to knock down a hare or a partridge that spoils his garden: a country-squire keeps a pack of hounds: a lady of quality rides out with a footman behind her on two sleek, well-fed horses."
Suppose we discard our environmental values and decide to use UNLV’s GIS
resources and mine for platinum so we can retire early!
Where should we mine?! (colors are elevations in the 3-D image I made above)
Near or in streams within 500 meters of where the stream
levels out and slows down, thereby letting settling occur.
STREAMS = POWER
STREAMS WEAR DOWN ROCK
500 meters of gentle slope carried from igneous, but where is the igneous?
Blue =s mountain
Where is the igneous?
MAP WHERE STREAMS WEAR
DOWN IGNEOUS ROCK, AT A PARTICULAR ELEVATION, OR
DISTANCE FROM BASE, WHERE “SEDIMENTARY
SORTING” OCCURS TO DECIDE WHERE TO PROSPECT
A “DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM”