We're doomed. What is the answer?

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7Wannabe5
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:34 am

jacob wrote:Will everything be developed? Kind of depends on what you mean by everything. We're already far past the point where you can dig a new oil well with a shovel... or develop a new coal seam with literal horsepower. This speaks to the reboot problem. It's a progress trap. Are there enough fossil reserves left to send global temperatures up by 4C+ and can that be developed, perhaps in service of producing enough nitrogen/calories to feed the polar masses [of humans]? It most certainly can.
This is the part I don't get. Likely because there seems to be some level of disagreement between the flavor of pessimism of the experts I have read, and I am too lazy to attempt to do the math myself. Everybody left living up in some polar region would seem to correspond to a GDP drop of MUCH more than 4%.

IOW, I get the science/math of peak oil and I get the science/math of climate change, but I don't get the likely fallout of the intersection of these, especially given other reserve issues, such as water, and extreme variation in regional effects and starting conditions. I gave both of my children a copy of The Knowledge, and I have told them that whenever they or their (as of yet theoretical) children have a choice or opportunity they should move due North, and I intend to develop my permaculture project(s) towards resilience to erratic weather patterns combined with overall increasing warmth, but ...?

tonyedgecombe
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by tonyedgecombe » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:25 pm

I wonder if food is the tipping point in terms of disrupting the economy, if 3C leads to a 15% fall in productivity at the same time the population continues to increase then we will go from having a surplus to a deficit. People will spend more on food and less on everything else.

As an aside I wonder what the politics of a world where we have all moved to the poles would look like.

daylen
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by daylen » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:34 pm

I think reducing the problem to a single cause does not really add value because of the high degree of coupling between energy, water, food, and climate. This is just the stuff that gets talked about because they are intuitive and measurable.

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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by jacob » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:36 pm

@7wb5 - Maybe the missing ingredient is in realizing that GDP refers to global GDP and that the damage is not distributed evenly? For example, the US will suffer at about the global average whereas Canada/Russia/Scandinavia will actually be better off for a while (this century); India will be a bad but not as bad as Africa. These calculations are difficult and detailed. It's similar to when one tries to calculate the loss of crop productivity. What enters in those calculations is not just how a plant species responds to temperature but also where it is currently grown, where it will be grown, and what kind of rainfall/sunshine it will experience. IOW, the delta crop productivity/delta T figures are global.

When it comes to personal planning/consequences, one should not rely on global averages.

We already have a situation today where oil is produced in places where little food can be grown and food is grown in places where few energy resources exist. In the future, those places will be farther apart. It will certainly be possible for a rich country to support and defend a drill crew in an area where the life expectancy has been reduced to 59 years old for the local residents. This is already happening today. Consider the DRCongo, where there's ongoing war/killing driven by world-demand for coltan, which is a strategic mineral crucial to the developed world's chip industry. Life expectancy is thus low, and fertility is correspondingly one of the highest in the world. This keeps the cycle going as long as the mineral resource persists.

7Wannabe5
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:52 pm

@tonyedgecombe:

Given that grocery market sticker shock in the 70s led to enough public outcry to influence farm policy in a manner that has likely contributed to a large extent of the current obesity epidemic, I predict it will only take moderate increase in pricing to lead to some other not entirely predictable major emergence.

@jacob:

Gotcha. So, my region will be better off temporarily except to the extent that it is still politically conjoined with the rest of the U.S. That's pretty much what I have already figured or intuited. Hopefully, I will be dead before the Wolverines vs. the Buckeyes Toledo War re-enactment turns real and bloody again.
These calculations are difficult and detailed. It's similar to when one tries to calculate the loss of crop productivity. What enters in those calculations is not just how a plant species responds to temperature but also where it is currently grown, where it will be grown, and what kind of rainfall/sunshine it will experience. IOW, the delta crop productivity/delta T figures are global.
Right, but even given the lifespan of an apple tree, highly intelligent, very local intensive management of food production can adjust much more readily than the global system of distribution. I guesstimate 2 hours/day of agricultural or basic processing labor/per human would be more than adequate.

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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by jacob » Mon Apr 29, 2019 1:39 pm

@7wb5 - It should also be noted that such discussions are confusing due to the timing issue which often goes unstated. The world in 2050 is not the same as the one in 2100 is not the same as the one in 2150 and so on ... The world where mostly only the polar regions will be inhabitable refers to a world where the fossil fuel reserves have been spent, the global temperature (on average!) is 4-8C higher than today, the remaining agriculture is sustainable out of necessity, and the global population has worked its way to under 1B. Starting some time between the 23rd and 25th century. W/o fossil subsidies and maxing out population as usual, intensive food production with completely closed loops will probably be a full time job for most people similar to medieval times. That is probably what life will end up looking like save the preservation of a few key insights from the 20th/21st century that can still be replicated with limited resources. (Basic sanitation, food conservation, plowing, ... and the likes.) The level of technological sophistication will not be as evenly distributed as it is today. Important tech could be preserved insofar maintenance can be done regionally and it doesn't take away from more important priorities such as growing food. In particular, that civilization will not be carrying out detailed calculations of GDP at the percentage level.

It would be somewhat foolish to live one's life today for the situation that will not exist for another ~two centuries... although figuring some things out in advance will probably be appreciated by descendant generations (in between them cursing us all to hell or whatever they'll believe in). For now backyard gardening is a good idea. However, relying on a single local plot renders one extremely susceptible to crop failures, so it's best to both do local gardening AND have a global or at least national food supply system. Subsistence farmers with access to spare land generally spread their plots around tending as much as 20 different ones miles apart even if it is more work (walking) that way. See e.g. Diamond's "The World Until Yesterday". Where space was limited and trade unavailable/unaffordable, famines were a regular bug/feature.

7Wannabe5
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:18 pm

jacob wrote:It would be somewhat foolish to live one's life today for the situation that will not exist for another ~two centuries...
Oh, I know. For now, it's just my highly inefficient semi-retirement hobby. That's why I also have to keep an average of 3 Competent Calorie Kings within my social sphere. I am trying to make use of the last remnants of my feminine energy to transform current fuels and funds into knowledge in the brains of my theoretical grandchildren and variety of immigrant urchins. Then I will either compost myself beneath a cherry tree or do something altogether different.

Stahlmann
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by Stahlmann » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:24 pm

jacob wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:36 pm
Consider the DRCongo, where there's ongoing war/killing driven by world-demand for coltan, which is a strategic mineral crucial to the developed world's chip industry. Life expectancy is thus low, and fertility is correspondingly one of the highest in the world. This keeps the cycle going as long as the mineral resource persists.
:shock: :o

ZAFCorrection
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by ZAFCorrection » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:26 pm

One of the things that have been ticking over in my mind for at least a few weeks now is what institutional science could contribute assuming it was not run by a bunch of well-educated equivalents of Elon Musk fanboys (at least in the engineering side). Potentially the fun and profit could be found in applying 21st-century research techniques and understanding to finding 18th-century solutions to 18th-century problems which were unanswerable at the time but subsequently became irrelevant. Western researchers studying cheap ways of sanitation among the poors is a good example of this idea kinda sorta already at work.

https://www.ajtmh.org/content/journals/ ... 008.79.407

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by AnalyticalEngine » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:42 pm

I've noticed an interesting sentiment among the non-ERE doomosphere that investing in a 401(k) or pension is going to be useless due to the coming collapse. Do you all think this is hyperbole or are these taxed advantaged investment vehicles still prudent?

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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by Jean » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:49 pm

I wonder how a kickstarter aimed at invading an humanisticaly manage eastern congo in order to produce a fair phone would fare.

stand@desk
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by stand@desk » Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:57 pm

@Jacob

So will there be a mass migration of Americans to Alaska in the second half of the century? And what are your comments on AOC, 12 years (2030) until SHTF?

Ego
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by Ego » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:29 pm

jacob wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:36 pm
India will be a bad but not as bad as Africa.
Looking at population density charts I would have guessed that India and Bangladesh are the canaries in the coal mine and will provide worst-case templates.

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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by theanimal » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:56 pm

stand@desk wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 4:57 pm
@Jacob

So will there be a mass migration of Americans to Alaska in the second half of the century? And what are your comments on AOC, 12 years (2030) until SHTF?
I can't speak for Jacob but as an Alaskan, it's hard to believe there'd be a mass migration up here anytime soon. The huge extremes in light will still be around (a major contributing factor to many who leave the state) and the dramatic shift in climate will take quite a while to play out in terms of making it a more habitable place to live. Most of Alaska is swamp land and still sees much of the winter with temps below 0 F and double digit days below -20, even with temperatures at 5-10 degrees F above normal over the years. Then there's the precipitation, mosquitoes, lack of basic American amentiies...I could go on but you get the idea.

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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by chenda » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:07 am

We are fortunate perhaps that we have so much sparsely populated land near the polar regions, at least in the northern hemisphere. And it's interesting the worlds biggest economies (Europe, China and the US) are sat right next to it, and will probably covert control of it. Russia has long feared Asian encroachment into Siberia, and there are already sizable numbers of Chinese moving across the border to farm. Indonesia will probably invade Australia at some point.

South Americans could gravitate south, maybe colonise the Antarctic Peninsula.

India and Africa do indeed seem doomed though.

Unless Australian and Canada voluntary increase their population close enough to parity with their neighbours they are probably going to be subsumed. Resisting immigration, as Australia is currently doing, is a short term policy which will be there undoing.

Just musing here....

Ego
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by Ego » Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:33 am

chenda wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:07 am

South Americans could gravitate south, maybe colonise the Antarctic Peninsula.
To some extent this trend has begun. The last time we were in Tierra del Fuego in 2001 we were traveling with another couple. The husband was a black Cuban guy who was perturbed that the locals would constantly ask to take a photo with him as they had never seen a black person in real life. Fast forward to today and Southern Chile is chock full of Haitian and Venezuelan refugees.

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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by chenda » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:55 am

@Ego - Interesting. I've heard the region is ethnically and culturally very different from the north of South America, and some Argentians traditionally liked to think of themselves as Europeans rather than Latin Americans.
Kinda like how many Australians don't like to consider themselves an Asian country.

7Wannabe5
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:55 am

Here's an article that is indicative of how upcoming changes are not obviously predictable. The deciduous trees are moving West more so than North.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/arc ... ap/526899/

ZAFCorrection wrote:Potentially the fun and profit could be found in applying 21st-century research techniques and understanding to finding 18th-century solutions to 18th-century problems which were unanswerable at the time but subsequently became irrelevant. Western researchers studying cheap ways of sanitation among the poors is a good example of this idea kinda sorta already at work.
I think this sort of thing is very interesting too. It can also go the other way. For instance, 19th century Asian peasant farmers were more "advanced" in their recycling of human manure than modern waste processing facilities.

One of the ideas I don't buy into is that upcoming collapse will be like Roman Empire into Dark Ages in Europe. IMO, the problem with this theory is that it is very "of the academy" and,therefore, assumes that creation of educational institutions is necessary for education to occur. Simple math being something like 49 out of 50 children will have to start working out in the fields at age 10 in order for there to even be enough food, so only 1 out of 50 children will be educated, and population will fall into illiteracy. I think the majority of the population living out on the greened tundra of Northern Canada will still be literate 200 years from now for the same reason that Abraham Lincoln was literate. All you really need is one literate adult, a small stack of books, and something like chalk and slate, and very much unlike the time of the elite of Rome, the majority of the human population is now literate. So, for instance, it is quite likely that a reasonably intelligent forced-into-sustainable-system subsistence farmer of 2219 will have advantage of being able to understand, and to some extent apply, simple genetics and microbiology to process.

Jason
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by Jason » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:29 am

Specific to the US, John Kenneth Galbraith addressed the issue back 1958 at the establishment of the post WW II media driven consumer production boom in "The Affluent Society" when he made the distinction between "private" goods and "public" goods - the former being the endless production of obsolescent, personal goods, the latter focusing on clean air, waters, streets, etc. Even at that time he described a "pathological" conception that progress is only measured in terms of the "private." It seems that in the last 60 years the distinctions have grown only more polarized and more politicized and have come to be perceived as antithetical agendas and a zero-sum game i.e. pro-environment = anti-capitalist/socialism. We've been past the point of no-return for quite some time now.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: We're doomed. What is the answer?

Post by ZAFCorrection » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:10 pm

@7w5

I agree. History is a lot stickier than people give it credit for. Up into the 20th century there were political leaders still calling themselves some variation on Caesar, going on two millennia since a particular family in the city of Rome used that name. The "everyone needs a bachelor's degree" meme will surely carry on in some form for at least 200 years.

Edit:

As the to the original question, one lazy, hoarding consumer option would be stockpiling solar panels if you are interested in a useful hedge on civilization decline. Inverters aside, they have a shelf life that (probably) greatly exceeds a human lifespan, they are directly useful to individuals, and manufacturing them is dependent on fairly sophisticated technology and a global supply chain. They will probably get a lot more useful just as they are becoming much harder to actually make.

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