Saturday, February 25, 2006

Do We Have Adequate Food Supplies?

The Malthusian idea that a population crash is inevitable rests on the assumption that the human ability to increase its stock of food is confined to an arithmetic rate of increase while the human population increases at an exponential rate.

It is easy to argue that Malthus was wrong. The ability to increase food production has grown at a larger rate than the rate of growth in population and statistics suggest that the global food production is sufficient to provide a healthy and a nutrisious meal to each of the expected 9-9.5 billion people by 2040. Yet many nutritionists, economists and environmentalists are convinced that our biggest challenge is the provision of an adequate diet to the over a billion people who suffer of malnutrition and food inadequacy.

So where do you stand regarding this seminal issue? Do we have adequate food supplies or is food inadequacy a major problem?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Laura on Environmentalism and Immigration

The purpose behind this experiment, the blog, is to get you to think about some ecological issues and to encourage you to start a dialogue with your colleagues. I would much rather stand on the sidelines and observe the free exchange od ideas without tipping my hand by commenting on what the posters say.

Well, having said that I am going to break my unwritten rule and ask (not recommendlol) that you should read the post by Laura about "Environmentalism and Immigration". For those of you who are new to bloges, go to the post in question and click on comments at the end of the item. Laura , that was a very well thought out and very nicely written response. Tnx. As far as I am concerned the experiment is a success!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Global Warming: Have we lost the race to stop it?

Another evidence yet that global warming might have reached the "tipping point".


Top News
Could Global Warming Become a Runaway Train?
Updated 11:49 AM ET February 19, 2006
Recently, it was another beautiful, sunny day out on the Arctic tundra.
It may sound nicer that way -- but it's a big problem for the earth.
Scientists say the warm weather adds to global warming because of "feedback loops."
In a feeback loop, the rising temperature on the Earth changes the environment in ways that then create even more heat. Scientists consider feedback loops the single biggest threat to civilization from global warming.
Past a certain point -- the tipping point, they say -- there may be no stopping the changes.
Scientists working in the Arctic report that feedback loops are already underway. As the frozen sea surface of the Arctic Ocean melts back, there's less white to reflect the sun's heat back into space -- and more dark open water to absorb that heat, which then melts the floating sea ice even faster. More than a third of summer sea ice disappeared in the past 30 years.
In the ground next to the ocean, scientists say, warming has also awakened another enormous danger -- billions of tons of carbon locked up for eons by was once frozen ground.
"I feel very uncomfortable about it," says Walter Oechel, a scientist studying the problem. "I mean, it's not the way the Arctic should be."
Oechel discovered that as global warming thaws and dries out the vast tundra, old decayed vegetation releases carbon dioxide. That's the same greenhouse gas that comes from car and plane exhausts, and power-plant chimneys -- and the tundra releasing carbon dioxide warms the atmosphere even more.
Scientist: Reduce Fossil Fuels
It's a slow-motion time bomb that's speeding up and could become self-generating, Oechel says.
"Humans are putting about 6 or 7 billion metric tons of carbon in the atmosphere a year," he adds. "And we are standing on 200 billion tons here. If any significant portion came out, that dwarfs the current human injection into the atmosphere. And once that runaway release occurred, there'd be no way to stop it."
Oechel and other scientists now report that there are an additional 200 billion metric tons of carbon now beginning to leak from the northern boreal forests that encircle the Arctic tundra -- apparently for the same reason: The rising temperatures are drying out these forests, which means more decayed vegetation releasing yet more carbon dioxide.
Oechel says new carbon-free energy technologies, such as injecting greenhouse gas from power plants back into the ground, or zero-emissions cars, will be vital for maintaining a livable planet -- eventually, once they're developed.
But first, he adds, "The longer we wait, the worse the situation gets, and the harder it's going to be to crack."
Oechel says that, by his calculations, the only possibility for preventing a runaway greenhouse effect on earth is to start reducing the use of fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal immediately.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Environmentalism and Immigration

A comprehensive immigration policy for the United States is conspicuous by its absence. Actually, the current immigration policies or lack thereof, has come under attack from many sides over the recent years.
As you all know, more than 3/4 of the annual net growth in the US population is attributed to immigration. A rough back of the envelope kind of a calculation would suggest that immigration is responsible for about 2 million out of the 2.75 million annual growth. That is the equivalent of a major new city every year!!!. Once that figure of 2 million is combined with the typical level of consumption that is associated with life in the US it becomes clear that the ecological impact of such an increase in the US population has global ramifications.
Based on the above some have advocated the adoption of strict immigration limits on purely ecological grounds. What is your personal point of view regarding such efforts? Can the world afford an additional 2-2.5 million US style consumers every year?

Thursday, February 16, 2006


In response to a comment by an Anon regarding the extent of the HIV AIDS epidemics in the world and whether the resulting death rate is large enogh to negate the growth in world population I have looked up the following data for the year 2005:

Total number of people living with HIA AIDS 40.2 Million

Total estimated deaths from HIV AIDS 3.1 Million

Total number of people living with HIV AIDS
in sub-saharan Africa 26.0 Million people

Total deaths from HIV AIDS since 1961 12.0 Million

Note the very high concentration of HIV AIDS in sub- saharan Africa.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How Many?

It is very clear that "only mad men and Economists" believe that it is possible to have infinite growth on a finite base. If you believe that the size of the human population in the world has reached a level that is already of concern what would be the specific policies that you would be willing to follow in order to resolve the issue?