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Thread: Tier 1 Water Shortage for SW appears inevitable

  1. Top | #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    The only question in my mind is whether the next significant decrease in global human population will be man-made or "natural".
    That's actually the problem, don't you think? It's this mindset among many that humans and nature are something separate. I find it strange. It probably explains why we really can't get our act together when it comes to environmental health and sustainability.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Elixir View Post
    The only question in my mind is whether the next significant decrease in global human population will be man-made or "natural".
    That's actually the problem, don't you think? It's this mindset among many that humans and nature are something separate. I find it strange. It probably explains why we really can't get our act together when it comes to environmental health and sustainability.
    There's also this mindset that a significant decrease in global population due to some catastrophic event is both inevitable and has solid precedent. But it's not (at least not on historical, rather than evolutionary, timescales), and it doesn't.

    When was the last time that a catastrophe caused global human population to fall by a significant fraction? When was the last time it fell far enough that it didn't recover all of the decline and more within a couple of years, much less a couple of generations?

    55 million people died in the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61. That was more than eight percent of the approximately 660,000,000 Chinese population at the end of 1958; By the end of 1961, the Chinese population had already recovered to its 1958 level.

    The Blue Fever (now often called the 'Black Death') caused a world population decline that some place at as much as 20%; Population may have taken almost two hundred years, or seven to ten generations, to completely recover. That's the biggest catastrophic world population decline I am aware of, both as a proportion of total population, and in terms of time taken to recover. World population is estimated to have been about 450 million in 1340, and was 'only' around 375 million in 1400. That catastrophe could have been almost completely averted by antibiotics.

  3. Top | #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    There's also this mindset that a significant decrease in global population due to some catastrophic event is both inevitable and has solid precedent. But it's not (at least not on historical, rather than evolutionary, timescales), and it doesn't.

    When was the last time that a catastrophe caused global human population to fall by a significant fraction? When was the last time it fell far enough that it didn't recover all of the decline and more within a couple of years, much less a couple of generations?

    55 million people died in the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61. That was more than eight percent of the approximately 660,000,000 Chinese population at the end of 1958; By the end of 1961, the Chinese population had already recovered to its 1958 level.

    The Blue Fever (now often called the 'Black Death') caused a world population decline that some place at as much as 20%; Population may have taken almost two hundred years, or seven to ten generations, to completely recover. That's the biggest catastrophic world population decline I am aware of, both as a proportion of total population, and in terms of time taken to recover. World population is estimated to have been about 450 million in 1340, and was 'only' around 375 million in 1400. That catastrophe could have been almost completely averted by antibiotics.
    Exactly. So why the bejesus do you believe this:

    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Anyone who thinks population is going to grow beyond the next couple of decades hasn't paid attention since the 1970s

    It doesn't matter if it CAN. Because it WON'T.
    When fertility falls so far that the population starts to decline, say in 2050 or whenever it's currently projected to happen, what the heck makes you think that isn't going to be merely another temporary dip in the overall trend, another Great Leap Forward / Black Death?

    The current drop in fertility is great for human happiness, but it's just another natural catastrophe from the gene-level point of view, and from the subculture meme point of view. Oh my god, something unprecedented in a billion years of evolution happened: a disease organism evolved a bioweapon that lets its hosts have sex without making babies, a billion years of optimization targeted at making organisms want sex as a proxy for wanting babies thereby rendered futile. The end result is predictable: our genes will evolve a countermeasure, in the unlikely event that some subculture meme complex capable of Lamarckian evolution doesn't beat them to it.

    ETA: Can we be sure the world's population will stop rising?

  4. Top | #74
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bomb#20 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    There's also this mindset that a significant decrease in global population due to some catastrophic event is both inevitable and has solid precedent. But it's not (at least not on historical, rather than evolutionary, timescales), and it doesn't.

    When was the last time that a catastrophe caused global human population to fall by a significant fraction? When was the last time it fell far enough that it didn't recover all of the decline and more within a couple of years, much less a couple of generations?

    55 million people died in the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61. That was more than eight percent of the approximately 660,000,000 Chinese population at the end of 1958; By the end of 1961, the Chinese population had already recovered to its 1958 level.

    The Blue Fever (now often called the 'Black Death') caused a world population decline that some place at as much as 20%; Population may have taken almost two hundred years, or seven to ten generations, to completely recover. That's the biggest catastrophic world population decline I am aware of, both as a proportion of total population, and in terms of time taken to recover. World population is estimated to have been about 450 million in 1340, and was 'only' around 375 million in 1400. That catastrophe could have been almost completely averted by antibiotics.
    Exactly. So why the bejesus do you believe this:

    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Anyone who thinks population is going to grow beyond the next couple of decades hasn't paid attention since the 1970s

    It doesn't matter if it CAN. Because it WON'T.
    When fertility falls so far that the population starts to decline, say in 2050 or whenever it's currently projected to happen, what the heck makes you think that isn't going to be merely another temporary dip in the overall trend, another Great Leap Forward / Black Death?

    The current drop in fertility is great for human happiness, but it's just another natural catastrophe from the gene-level point of view, and from the subculture meme point of view. Oh my god, something unprecedented in a billion years of evolution happened: a disease organism evolved a bioweapon that lets its hosts have sex without making babies, a billion years of optimization targeted at making organisms want sex as a proxy for wanting babies thereby rendered futile. The end result is predictable: our genes will evolve a countermeasure, in the unlikely event that some subculture meme complex capable of Lamarckian evolution doesn't beat them to it.

    ETA: Can we be sure the world's population will stop rising?
    Maybe. But evolution is slow. And not having children is a positive choice, albeit enabled by technology, not an unintended consequence secondary to the purpose of that technology. So that's why I believe that.

    And whether it's true or not, the action item "we must do something to reduce future population!!" against which I am arguing is foolish. Insofar as we can, we have.

    If it turns out we can't do it via increased wealth, reduced infant mortality, and access to effective contraception that is controlled by women, then we probably can't do it at all - no matter how many people run around screaming and waving their arms.

    The continued and accelerating decline in global fertility rate over the several decades since the development of the oral contraceptive suggests that there's little chance of a reversal. But obviously "little" isn't "none".

    If things turn out in what I consider to be the far less probable scenario, then what more can we do about it?

    ETA: The consensus amongst experts has shifted from the mid-20th century position of "exponential growth is almost certain to continue until it causes a catastrophe" to "population might grow significantly, or might decline significantly, or might stabilise". That's not a shift that is reflected in public opinion, which remains woefully out of date.

  5. Top | #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Maybe. But evolution is slow. And not having children is a positive choice, albeit enabled by technology, not an unintended consequence secondary to the purpose of that technology. So that's why I believe that.
    Darwinian evolution is slow; and not having children is enabled less by technology than by culture choosing to make the technology available and supporting its use.

    And whether it's true or not, the action item "we must do something to reduce future population!!" against which I am arguing is foolish. Insofar as we can, we have.

    If it turns out we can't do it via increased wealth, reduced infant mortality, and access to effective contraception that is controlled by women, then we probably can't do it at all - no matter how many people run around screaming and waving their arms.

    The continued and accelerating decline in global fertility rate over the several decades since the development of the oral contraceptive suggests that there's little chance of a reversal. But obviously "little" isn't "none".

    If things turn out in what I consider to be the far less probable scenario, then what more can we do about it?
    It seems to me the primary and surely more immediate risk is the memetic evolution of pronatalist subcultures that teach their members to regard women as brood mares. We won't be able to deliver women access to effective contraception that is controlled by women as long as access to the women themselves is controlled by their subcultures' male gatekeepers; and giving women access won't do any good if they've already been taught to regard themselves as brood mares. So the obvious thing remaining to be done about it is to be on guard for the warning signs that such a subculture is arising, and when one does, make every effort to help out any not-yet-fully-indoctrinated children who want to escape from them into a wider culture that's more respectful of women.

    Here's a Jerusalem Post article about a situation that should never have been allowed to develop in the first place: https://www.jpost.com/magazine/back-...ucation-469513

    Entirely apart from the economic and personal problems the article focuses on, if similar scenarios recur in other cultures it has the potential to torpedo population stabilization.

  6. Top | #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    The seas are big. People used to think about the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie similarly, just keep dumping the waste there, it won't matter.

    Back on topic, the problem isn't water, it's population.
    So what would you suggest doing? Lining up all the almond farmers and their investors, and shooting them?
    What can be done when demand exceeds carrying capacity? In this instance, the demand for water. New technology? Better management?
    Higher price for water.

  7. Top | #77
    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    What can be done when demand exceeds carrying capacity? In this instance, the demand for water. New technology? Better management?
    Higher price for water.
    Many households may be already struggling with high mortgage repayments, electricity bills, etc.

  8. Top | #78
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post

    What can be done when demand exceeds carrying capacity? In this instance, the demand for water. New technology? Better management?
    Higher price for water.
    Many households may be already struggling with high mortgage repayments, electricity bills, etc.
    Most of the water is being used by irrigators who pay a minuscule fraction of the amount charged to domestic consumers.

    I picked a district at random in California, and according to Calwater, domestic consumers there pay from $3.95 up to $7.40 per 1000USgal (the low price is for the first 748USgal, then usage above that volume is more expensive), while farmers pay an average of $70/acre ft., or $0.215 per 1000USgal.

    It's essentially a farming subsidy.

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    It takes 1900 gallons of water to grow ONE pound of almonds! It takes about 10 gallons to grow one pound of strawberries. California ag uses 80% of the water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bleubird View Post
    It takes 1900 gallons of water to grow ONE pound of almonds! It takes about 10 gallons to grow one pound of strawberries. California ag uses 80% of the water.
    10 gallons per one pound of strawberries sounds reasonable. But 1900 gallons for almonds? Wikipedia says almond tree is fine with droughts (it's native to Iran)

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