The Future of the World Food Supply is Logical, Well Known and Wrong

USMC-110804-M-IX060-108Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment, is looking to change the dominant narrative on the global food supply. He writes for ensia:

There’s a powerful narrative being told about the world’s food system — in classrooms, boardrooms, foundations and the halls of government around the world. It’s everywhere. And it makes complete sense when you listen to it. The problem is, it’s mostly based on flawed assumptions.

You’ve probably heard it many times. While the exact phrasing varies, it usually goes something like this: The world’s population will grow to 9 billion by mid-century, putting substantial demands on the planet’s food supply. To meet these growing demands, we will need to grow almost twice as much food by 2050 as we do today. And that means we’ll need to use genetically modified crops and other advanced technologies to produce this additional food. It’s a race to feed the world, and we had better get started.

To be fair, there are grains of truth in each of these statements, but they are far from complete. And they give a distorted vision of the global food system, potentially leading to poor policy and investment choices.

To make better decisions, we need to examine where the narrative goes off the rails. 

Changing Diets, Not Population Growth, is the Dominant Driver of Food Demand

While we often hear that population growth, and the need to feed 9 billion people by 2050, is the driving issue for agriculture in the coming decades, the math doesn’t add up.

There are more than 7 billion people on Earth today, and we’re expected (if current demographic trends continue unabated) to reach 9 billion by mid-century. Two billion more people in the next 40 years — that’s roughly a 28 percent increase. If those additional 2 billion people were to eat the average diet (which is actually unlikely, since most of these people will be added to the poorest regions of the world, where diets are very minimal) that would mean we need roughly 28 percent more food. It’s just simple math.

It’s crucial to note that we’re talking about the world’s choices, not a predetermined path. What we choose to do about population growth, and especially what we do about diets, will determine how much food the world ultimately needs.

So where does the “twice as much” idea come from? Mostly from assumptions about changing diets, not population growth alone.

In fact, ecologist David Tilman, a friend of mine, and his colleagues have shown that changes in diet will likely be the dominant driver of future food demand. The reason is simple: While population is projected to grow by 2 billion between now and 2050, there are about 3 to 4 billion people on Earth already who are getting richer — mainly in China, India and some other countries — and, if recent history is a guide, these richer people are expected to eat richer diets. That means 3 to 4 billion more people eating more meat, more dairy products, and other rich foods, putting tremendous pressure on the global food system…

[continues at ensia]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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72 Comments on "The Future of the World Food Supply is Logical, Well Known and Wrong"

  1. Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

    one thing: leading to poor policy and investment choices is kinda odd in that it wouldn’t be leaving said informal location

    the best way to ignore a normalized mantra of ad hoc corporate strategy heuristic is to destroy it. base a country on need and that’s what it’ll get. it’ll need need.

    alizardx probably has some developed ideas concerning this.

    and now for some vomitary requirements

    • With the usual caveat regarding the concept of high-tech civilization surviving the usually fatal types of mistakes of the elites running it…

      Global warming alone tells that we can’t afford to increase the number of cattle turning grass into methane on this planet. That meme pushed in a recent TED talk that a specialized form of grazing will revive topsoil and fix global warming has been successfully debunked. (if the content of a TED talk sounds too good to be true – it probably is)

      Real beef is going to become an extreme luxury food, ordinary families will buy it to celebrate “once-in-a-lifetime” events.

      Animal protein in a viable future is going to be vat-grown (maybe 3D printed) in factories, and food insects, food bacteria will be intentionally factory grown and processed as well, but pigs and poultry being far more efficient ways to convert plant protein into food than cattle might still be a significant portion of “average” persons’ food supply. And any of the above might be from GM organisms.

      Not much of the above is original, this is what SF writers like Heinlein were saying a generation ago – though the 3D printing of food is new.

      • Rhoid Rager | Nov 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm |

        Would you mind providing the source that debunks the sustainable grazing idea pushed through TED? Is it just concerning grazing cows? Or does this apply to other grazing animals as well? I’m genuinely interested.

        • was looking for the debunk of the TEDtalk I’d read. By now, debunking that talk has turned into a mini-genre. Google search results:

          • Rhoid Rager | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

            Interesting results. There seems to be a variety of arguments. It seems obvious to me, however, that local ecosystem characteristics ought to dictate dietary characteristics. I think it is absurd to expect to eat beef anywhere one is in the world. But, having raised chickens I know that poultry are a viable animal protein source in small quarters, and their manure is a wonderful fertilizer that can be directly applied to gardens without composting. And chicken, unlike cows, can be raised in most places in the world.

      • Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm |

        i hadn’t encountered much in the way of producing synthetic proteins for ‘food’ … makes sense … in a let’s survive a space tech future “the world died, now what” way. well i hope to work towards some math/CS that could assist in viable synthetic protein then i guess. some part of me is interested to try it (syn.p.) while another shrivels at the thought of “no steak”.

        • There will still be steak… but wouldn’t be surprised to see it priced at $100+/lb in 2013 dollars 10-20 yrs from now. As for purely synthetic nutritionally complete protein derived from non-bio sources, good luck with that. Suspect biological sources (GM bacteria?) are likely to be cheaper than synthesis into the indefinite future.

          • Rhoid Rager | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm |

            I’d be surprised to see dollars 10-20 years from now. I think that you should bring net energy consumption into your thinking about synthetic proteins. Consider Odum’s concept of ’emergy’–which is to say, consider all of the energy embedded in industrial/scientific processes not currently accounted for in prices because of the hidden subsidy of inexpensive fossil fuel energy. That’s the real elephant in the room. Global trade is likely to be abruptly curtailed before synthetic proteins catch on as a viable alternative flesh-and-blood animals.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:26 pm |

            a good note. money will see changes. the experimental stages are emerging more rapidly. according to history, well, i’ll not repeat what was written by writing it here.

            this embedding and elephants in the room – i should like to catch on to some of that ideation. for one, genus problems had been said to supposedly be embeddable in 3D space .. however this assumes infinite divisibility. if we assume e.g. Planck’s constant we get odd things like tetrahedral space … which is a bit like some versions of phosphorous at particular temperatures … *sharp painful inhale face* … not a good sort of normalization by most common standards precluding chaos theory… anyhow, slightly off track, save for that genus leads to NP and solutions to P = NP = NP-complete = PSPACE allow for machines (buildable by humans or machines) that can generate mathematical theorems far more efficiently than humans can. kinda like saying that marijuana is a gateway drug? that’s such a small option pool in comparison though… i’m just trying to get my mind wrapped around future stuff.

          • Agreed, but I was looking to explain future costs in terms of concepts people already know.

            Agreed WRT hidden subsidies. Would like to see long-term energy transition to SPS (Space Power Satellite)… but I’m hearing unsubsidized wind/solar prices getting comparable to coal.

            Recent Harvard study says projected price of “clean coal” min 2x for CO2 uncontrolled coal. Consider the study optimistic (2x depends on local empty oil-gas wells not present in most of US), I’d guess real-world price 4x or worse, and safety hazards to general population weren’t really discussed.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:38 pm |

            there’s where some “wealth redistribution” would come in handy. why not put clean coal on Oba… on an insurance policy that dictates CO2 uncontrolled, which does not meet clean coal specs [insert specs], must cost more than clean coal? an odd move, perhaps. how to accomplish it .. that’s what i’ve only got partial solutions for. if there’s enough entropy in the system … surely its bits can be flipped too? 0.o

          • I’ve heard major reinsurers discussing unloading their insured liability for costs of CO2 back onto their CO2 generating customers, but don’t know what has happened with that.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm |

            hmm *down drawn not bad face* that’s one way. it’s weird, working somewhere barely disguising itself as Ford … which itself is no more real than “all American fifth graders can solve septic functions in less than 72 hours” … to see as much truth and reality of the *cough* ‘system’ as one may … jeez. and to think people are walking around spouting correct theorems yet lacking what proof i could easily offer them – instead they feel pressed against or get converted into the next cattle ranch. that just takes the cake.

          • have you seen the research about wind/solar that reveals how much environmental degradation the industrial versions really cause? not to mention the fact that they take A LOT of energy to even create and don’t give much more than that in their short lifespans.

          • I’ve read about many breakthroughs in solar technology over the past year or two. Could you link to some of the research you mentioned?

          • I actually saw something in, I think, national geographic, about the real costs of much of green technology, and how much energy they actually need to create and whether or not they ever put out more than they take. Very few did.
            but no, I can’t link, but it was in a very recent National Geographic. i’m sure if you researched it, you can find it.

          • I suggest finding somebody competent to check your sources. There’s an anti-alternative energy PR industry funded by Big Oil / Coal / Nuclear. You are repeating their pseudo-environmental ist talking points

          • I’ve heard this 1st hand from people into alternative energy and who’s opinion I would trust. they had no ties w/ any industry but actually used alternative energy sources.
            can you honestly tell me industrial windmills(not small personal ones) don’t take massive amounts of energy to acquire the steel, truck across country, build the foundations, etc etc.? when I was hiking in Maine we couldn’t hike off the trail into alpine zones, yet industrial windmill corps. are building windmills atop the mountains destroying fragile territory. and Maine actually has a surplus of energy because of natural gas and hydro. i’m all for personal alternative energy sources, especially horse/animal power, personal windmills and small hydro. my issue w/ Big Alternative Energy is they think we can still keep our modern lifestyle and have a clean conscience. its not possible. and yer Big Alternative Energy is largely a scam and does not tread as lightly as many want to believe.
            perhaps you are or are influenced by the alternative energy industry which actually has strong ties to Big Oil/Coal.

          • Some small-scale stuff is actually energy-negative, google on the phrase “economies of scale” to understand why.

            Unlike you, I actually understand how the major alt energy technologies work and have done some design in this area, I don’t have to go to politically biased “experts” (yours are probably funded by Koch and Exxon/Mobil) to get talking points to support my point of view.

          • ishmael2009 | Nov 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

            James Hansen is working for “big oil/coal/nuclear” now is he?

          • you hit the nail on the head. I highly doubt we will find sources of energy that will provide for anything close to modern man’s desires before its too late.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

            there are more solutions than i can count, but we’d be doing something to rid civilization of the current “lazy reliance”. sure it’s a devil-we-know thing, but here:

            huge weights can be lifted by so much as a youth, given the correct pulley system and safety precautions. such huge weights can easily produce electricity. why not? because of lies, laziness, and mythological capital. niche? lol. because ‘justice’ made itself a job and thusly closed itself off to the world. congress? a tip of the iceberg, perhaps, eh?

          • I knew a guy that had a 4-horse sweep. there’s a place in Kentucky w/ an 8-horse sweep that makes stuff for NASA. simple technologies can be quite effective. but a drastic reduction in consumption for almost ALL is absolutely necessary first. Then we can talk about technologies. Lets go back to basic needs first and THEN see what the earth can afford to provide.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |

            i agree with mindful minimization indeed. and there are so many options there as well. it seems each time i consider it i encounter similar beasts that begin with “who”. who could manage civil housing? how ought it be managed? who would have the money? why is money always in the way? who is managing to prevent, willingly or not, emergence of what is necessary? and in likewise manner for food. clothing. then “alright, now we each have the options to decide what to do with life”.

            “who is preventing” seems to be more clearly answered by “no one in particular, but an ideal image of That Someone may render a structure capable of procedural organization”

          • Actually, we know who: – Mother Jones has done extensive coverage on who’s behind climate denial funding.

            Utah Phillips: “The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.”

            Actually, it’s high-tech civilization and it’s ability to support 6+B people that’s going under. The earth will be fine, though it may not be able to support lifeforms above the level of bacteria.

            The concept that things are turning to shit because of “inevitable forces” was probably believed by the majority during the fall of the Roman Empire. Wasn’t true then, isn’t true now.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm |

            no, yeah, and beyond my words, i know what you mean. i know some people i can point at. that said, i have, perhaps due to early years, a penchant for putting things into an abstract cloud/shell/idea. the image of That Someone isn’t fitting much in the way of Old Gods though. Loki, Set, Satan, God, … the Nidhoggr i find at least functional in terms of nature as compared to the others. political cartoons only seem to get so far without a backing similar to, well, yeah, ‘that stuff’. development of an abstract by/from which to judiciously manage [names here] in an arbitrary way. from thence, for who of [names here] cannot be repaired according to law, “how shall [remainder of names] be sentenced?” weird to ‘end’ with ‘Pilate’, i know, but *shrug* the people need to be in charge. electromagnetics and whatnot. wait, surgeons end with washing hands and so do technicians. the other way is weird. i really shouldn’t walk near liars’ voices’ …

            thanks for the link this news for sore eyes.

            i learned quite a bit about [lol] ‘stuff’ from Amway Global. never actually ‘joined up’ but spent some of the intro duction high. now there’s a better use for the word weird.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm |

            any idea who the judge/jury/we was/is who/that “found the recent incarnation of Amway Global” to be “legal”?

      • why do you and the other technophiles find it necessary to complicate everything? the earth can easily provide for all its inhabitants and much more if we would simply live Natural by cooperating with her and considering her needs, not just ours.

        • Simon Valentine | Nov 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

          it is certainly not a mutually excluded or precluded possibility.

          yet i wonder what one may find when examining such, given what has occurred. it seems there are far too many things that would need culled for the naturalist plan to work. it would either become as difficult as the other problems or just occur by itself anyway post-die off.
          consider work. consider niche, even taking so far as to realize that we’ve completely ignored the simple whiny “well i don’t want to do that” and it’s follow ups (violence, negligence, escalation, Cain/Abel stuff). shall it be beaten out of them? shall they be “flowered up” .. convinced to do it? and what of this: when after a time certain excelling individuals arise in terms of community favor due to their abilities – is hiring, trading, and helping another to be forbidden in order that imbalance is precluded? would it not become that someone would cease to perform particular labors or even be obliged to do so according to the law of such a civilization (banks started off innocent enough, yeah?)? again, not impossible, but it does include problems at least as difficult as the referred to “complicate”, unless of course there’s a solution you have that i don’t, and it isn’t a lie, a myth … but see there’s that inevitable position if it is that no one is to be subject to another. it probably has a few names, some older than others.

          simply: who knows her needs?
          next: how shall that be shared as a civilization’s basis?
          remark: what about the Amish?

          rain shed by the umbrella of the imaginary other, to paraphrase another.


          • I know a lot of people have been propagandized to believe a “natural” life is dirty, short and brutish, but I think whne more and more people get to experience living in a natural sustainable community, more would be willing to live that kinda lifestyle. I’ve been working on sustainable farms and living in the woods for a while now, and so many people are trying it out, some initially averse but gradually they develop an appreciation. not that all problems will simply vanish, but at least they will be smaller and not so catastrophic.
            imi don’t believe a natural life implies a short life, but even if it did- which would be better individuals live 50 years but have a small impact on the earth or 100 years and the earth is laid to waste, the majority have crappy lives, and eventually everyone or most die because of lack of resources

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

            well said and on solid development. i myself was born to a country living family to whom such things resound of “home”. but i myself have been launched out by various factors or wisdoms, bounced along the way, and found myself waking up seeming just as alien to my new surrounds as i had seemed to my old.

            truth only gives pause to the world for mere moments, and what creeps back in afterwards is hardly changed from what it had been – the suspense before the fall, like poly-count dolls. great expectations twin with greater pitfalls, still we ask of Er and like Lot, stall. was it for love of memory, or hope, or ill? what could we have done? could we, Still?

            there is another. like a noun with no mother. no father. only children.

        • The real world is a complicated place. Your attempts to simplify it to a list of Big Oil/Coal-driven talking points and to spread your ignorance aren’t even entertaining.

          • ishmael2009 | Nov 20, 2013 at 10:03 pm |

            What does that even mean in the context of their question? “Big oil talking points”? Your condemnation of others comes across as the act of an angry undergraduate. “The real world is a complicated place”. No shit Sherlock.

          • Is Google your friend? Mother Jones, among other places discusses where the funding for anti-environmental messages comes from. These messages are generally packaged as easily assimilated talking points.

          • moremisinformation | Nov 21, 2013 at 1:22 am |

            The world is a complicated place, therefor, test-tube meat at once-in-a-lifetime-events. But you make it sound so simple.

      • ishmael2009 | Nov 20, 2013 at 10:00 pm |

        There’s no problem with providing more than enough pasture for the number of cattle needed to allow Asians and Africans to enjoy the same diet we do in the West. The idea of declining topsoil was a staple of fascist propaganda in the interwar period, and of resource ecologists in the post war period. Whilst it’s a concern it’s been vastly overstated, often leading to ruinous “ecological” practices to redress it that lead to more harm than good.

        Foley and other westerners are reprising the same arguments as racists like Vogt were making in the 1950s regarding the development of China and India. Their concern for “our planet” is touching.

        • I was talking methane production, though environmental stress from CAFO operations is significant.

  2. Increased food production invariably leads to increased population growth.

    • Rhoid Rager | Nov 18, 2013 at 10:45 pm |

      Invariably? Do you have an urge to have children every time you go to the supermarket?

    • Or increased export profits. Much of the food grown in Third World and exported to US is from places where enough food shipped out that locals suffer from increased prices. Suspect that this doesn’t encourage local population growth.

      • Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:44 pm |

        somehow jolted out memories of playing Stronghold: Crusader

        could build “happy” or “tortuous” stuff for the castle and it would effect things like work capacity, tax acceptance, population… somehow that games economy really stuck with me as so much more visceral or realistic than mostall other strategy games i’ve played. anyway…

  3. vetiarvind | Nov 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm |

    This article is missing inclusion of cultural factors in diets. Just because per capita incomes in developing countries is on the rise does not indicate that they will switch over to an American meat-heavy diet. Rich indian people do not automatically consume more meat, for various cultural and religious reasons. China may be similar, for they’ve traditionally relied a lot on rice in their dishes but I can’t know for sure.

  4. bobbiethejean | Nov 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

    The one conversation no one wants to have that we NEED to have is how do we deal with the population crisis? percentagewize, we are only a tiny fraction of this planet yet somehow we’re managing to bugger the whole thing to shit. I shudder to think what damage will be done when we number in the tens of billions. Or ya know, we could just change the way we live. That might work too.

    • Yet most of the resources used and destruction wrought are not by the teeming billions of poor, but the few hundred thousand rich.

      • bobbiethejean | Nov 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm |

        This is a fair point. I can’t argue. I remember reading that if everyone lived as minimally as possible, the Earth could easily sustain twice our numbers. Dunno if that’s true. Logistically, I think it very well could be. However, way too many people are not willing to make that much sacrifice. We love our Mc Mansions and our Hum-vees. Hell, even a little compromise would be preferable to just fucking the place up until we’re surrounded by mountains of shit in the wake of what used to be nature.

        Nevertheless, you can’t deny that our numbers is not a big part of the problem. Consider how much nature is decimated to make room for housing developments and such. One thing is clear, we definitely need to change the way we live if we’re not going to make an attempt to get our numbers under control.

        • Rhoid Rager | Nov 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm |

          Then you’ve just contradicted your initial point that the problem is population. It’s clearly consumption patterns–which relies on dependence on modern logistics systems which relies on cheap fossil fuels which relies on maintaining low EROEI in obtaining fossil fuels which our species is slowly losing. So we don’t need to rely on people to stop consuming, because of the change in energy trends in the dependency chain I’ve just outlined.

          Population as a ‘problem’ to examine in social issues is simply a carryover from the over-reliance of the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis on population genetics. Considering the _social_ problems of poverty and hunger to be a direct result of a population ‘explosion’ is misrepresenting correlation for causation, and, thus, bad science. Social problems ought to be addressed at the same level of complexity in which they occur; namely, in problematizing how we relate to each other.

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm |

            No I did not contradict my first point. Overpopulation is a huge problem but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Another piece of the problem is what Andrew mentioned- that being how relatively small entities scarf up disproportionately huge amounts of resources. And of course there are more pieces to the puzzle than that still.

            You can look at it in a few ways:

            1.) Numbers is the problem.

            2.) The way we live is the problem (wanton, unchecked resource consumption and pollution).

            3.) Both are the problem (my contention).

            No matter how you choose to look at it, we need to change one or the other, preferably both.

            And anyway, while Andrew is right in principle, his contention leaves out how much of nature decimated for housing development. We’re talking billions of acres. That is pure numbers. I suppose we could all live in 10 x 10 cubes but who the hell wants to do that really?

            The real question is how do we deal with these issues without violating people’s rights and how do we motivate people to change when most of the planet either doesn’t think this is a problem at all, doesn’t even know about the problem, or flat out doesn’t give a shit?

          • Nice to see you around again.

            The resource allocation problems you discuss in general are not technological or the aggregate result of mass preferences. They are political and economic.

            Our society is largely engineered product.

            Society-wide decisions are made by unelected elites who look only in terms of what will profit them most in the extreme short-term.

            Individual choices are generally what products and services are put on the market by corporations controlled by those elites.

            The Silicon Valley technocapitalist elite is donating heavily to GOP PACS who are driving the cutbacks in research grants. These are the “wise and benevolent” elites that will deliver a future in which sane people would want to live?

            World problems by and large are largely solvable in terms of technology and science we already know. But for instance, transition to green/renewable energy would reduce drastically the value of fossil-fuel assets owned by the superwealthy.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:28 pm |

            and this is why i remember the name alizardx

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 19, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

            I like the way you think. I like it a lot.

          • Rhoid Rager | Nov 19, 2013 at 12:18 am |

            Your answer reflects the confusion in logic that pervades mainstream approaches to understanding the large problems that persist in our species: poverty, hunger, ecosystem destruction, climate change etc. Labelling something as a problem implies that it _causes_ something undesirable as a result. Can we agree to that definition? If so, then population is not only not _the_ problem, in fact, it is not _a_ problem. This is so because a population increase, itself, does not directly cause any of the large problems I cited above. It is simply correlated with them. I don’t rely on hyperbole often, but confusing correlation with causation is probably the single greatest folly of human understanding of our world today.

            The large problems above are caused by the unsustainable consumption patterns of our species. These consumption patterns are a result of the characteristics of our cultures. Thus, the cause of these problems are social in nature, and not physical/biological (i.e. population numbers). Cultural types (accepted patterns of behaviour) that favour dependence on centralized systems of energy procurement (food, fuel etc.) disempower populations (of any size) from making choices of how to live their lives. Capitalism (if I could be so vague) favours this type of centralized social organization, and it has been assisted thus far by cheap fossil fuels to achieve this centralized character that is so antithetical to democracy.

            The burgeoning population has been a (temporary) result of the (temporary and fossil-fuel-dependent) innovations of the past 100 years, such as the Green Revolution and mechanized agri. The above major problems are the corollary of a cultural system that fosters blind dependence on these innovations, reduced autonomy of mutual aid communities and a violence-based social system of externalizing the ecological and psychological maintenance costs of such a system to a growing demographic of dis-empowered people.

            The solution to this? Certainly not empower this system further to force a reduction in population–as these efforts will certainly be directed at the least among us. The real solution is spreading a critical understanding of our dependence on the core for our life-sustaining needs and the core’s betrayal of our trust, the encouragement of an inherent distrust for authority meme to be embedded in our cultures, and the mass propagation of knowledge for how to (return to) live in a self-sufficient community which procures its own food and energy sources. In essence, far be it for population to be the problem, rather, to oppose this centralized system population numbers are slowly growing on our side.

          • that was a very succinct and accurate answer to our problems that I don’t think anyone can deny without their head up their ass

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

            Well…… when you put it like that….. I cannot argue. It’s still hard to not instinctively blame the number….. 7 BILLION. That’s a lot of motherfuckers. But I also cannot refute the logic in your argument. I’ve long contended that the way we live is a part of the problem but I think I see now that it is THE problem more than anything else. Sometimes it can be hard to miss the fact that correlation does not necessarily equate to causation, especially when the two issues in question are so intimately woven. So I hope I can be forgiven that mistake.

            Although your solution….. I’m not so sure about that. I like the idea of a collaborative society. I know we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one though. 😉

          • we wouldn’t need to live in 10×10 cubes if we all made sure we GAVE more than we TOOK from the soil which involves mindful stewardship of the earth and the resources she supplies for us.
            As for violating people’s rights? Rights to what? The Earth? She has rights, too. And they are just as important as ours, if not more.

          • bobbiethejean | Nov 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm |

            By “violating people’s rights” I mean things like forced abortions, sterilizations, fascism, shit like that. Are you suddenly in favor of those things? My point was that there has got to be ways to solve these issues without being holocaustic in our tack. Your solution seems to be going back to nature. I prefer the technological approach. We’ve been down this road before and we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          • Simon Valentine | Nov 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

            perhaps some must not be mindful in a way that is not so much ignorance nor willful ignorance as it is information abstinence. perhaps that is merely pattern only, and not human.

          • There are actually areas where jnana knows what she’s talking about. Environment and technology are not among them, Kunstler may know more than she does.

    • Simon Valentine | Nov 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm |

      as population grows exponentially, so do logistical problems. tiny fractures adding up to continental drift isn’t unique to corp crime.

      i often think lately that it’s not so much that we don’t (when we don’t want to, often it’s because we’ve already had to) converse about population – it’s that we can’t – the problems are among the problems not solved – or worse – not formulated – or even worse! formulated and familiarized and used as if guns or muscle for arm-twisting tactics – all to such a degree of severe ignorance as to become “the stock market” or “horse races” or “sports” or “insurance” or any of a number of rote wastes meant to cater illusory lives to those who steadily give their one life away more and more every day to something they will never comprehend. “government”, “education”, and “strategy” should be listed too, et al. just another cattle farm barn yard tarp run by ex-circus goers.

      cosine. Taylor method of calculation complexity: O(n) … yet this belies that n may be 2^x

      • bobbiethejean | Nov 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

        Ok, whoa….. I was liking what I was reading up until ” “government”, “education”, and “strategy.”

        Could you clarify what you mean when you include education? Because personally, I love education. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I would spend the rest of my life learning if I could. Our entire modern world is based on it.

        I’m assuming that what you’re objecting to is…… well…… I think this guy summed it up really well:

        That’s what you mean right? That kinda mass produced system which churns out a bunch of brainless cogs. Not education in general…….?

        • Simon Valentine | Nov 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm |

          without watching the vid, yeah, you could use the word dogma or as you say cog. the habitual machine meat grinder. then again, i listen to KMFDM or Dethklok sometimes and am familiar with enough ideas such that it is not beyond me to steep my mind in experimental phases of … well, simply, wrapping one’s head around dogma means at some point or another actually being dogmatic. there’s a certain semi-neutral, pseudo-chaotic, power-starved ingenium to be found & foundried within that vortex … so yeah. i like education a lot 🙂

          knowing how something complicated will end up. part of what has me seeking the math language.

    • its not a population crisis as much as a consumption crisis. if we were to cooperate with nature and her rhythms, this wouldn’t be a problem. I would bet the earth could sustain many billions of humans if we would stop using and abusing her. if we would live in small farming communities that were mindful of the health of the soil and water and GAVE BACK MORE THAN WE TOOK(which is possible, though involves in drastic lifestyle changes for the majority of Westerners and a growing number of Easterners and Southerners) the earth would provide for ALL her children and more.

      (oops, I just read yer later posts down below. heh, that always happens to me on here)

      • ishmael2009 | Nov 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm |

        I applaud your move to a small farming community and look forward to hearing from you about the transition.

  5. How much more earth we will need to plunder? We are unsustainable. We have stretched ecology to its limits already. China should be looked up to for its former one child policy. Capitalism is going to kill us. All of us if won’t don’t take measures. Just keep in mind Easter Island. That is what we are headed for.

    • Just to cheer you up, read Jared Diamond’s book “Collapse”. Problem isn’t economic system or even resources or population. It’s bad decision-making by the current elites, we’d be in trouble regardless of the nominal form of the political or economic system.

      • I agree with you. We could do it right, but we are not. We are doing everything A$$ backwards. We can’t delude ourselves. I appreciate your comment and if we could reach the milestone of living within our means, I would be elated. But we don’t. Thumbs up.

        • Should we find ourselves with elites who actually care about the long-term survival of their own families, (which means keeping a functional civilization) there are things even now which can be done to give us a “soft landing” – like transition to green energy done in the shortest possible time, and work on mitigation measures done to deal with the massive trouble that’s already baked in.

          What we’ve got is the kind of worldwide leadership that usually precedes “the fall of empire”.

          • Rhoid Rager | Nov 19, 2013 at 9:01 am |

            What ‘we’ve’ got is a persistent belief that there is such a thing as leadership. Perhaps it is the individual that needs to stop believing in leaders and believe in their own capacity to feed, clothe and shelter themselves. How many people do you know that know these three basic skills of survival? Of course this is a rhetorical question (you may answer it seriously, if you wish), but isn’t that the only means of leverage the individual has against this dope-pushing, prick-centralist model?

          • RealLayer | Nov 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |

            World-wide Ponzi, at its finest.
            We are all marks.

          • Preparing for short-term disaster isn’t too hard. Preparing for a civilization crash? If you’re young, in decent shape, have no major Big Pharma dependencies… have a group like you willing to work on this, budget, and property in a remote area… and a willingness to work very hard doing manual labor for the rest of your lives… might work.

            Heard about the wealthy making preps like this, and I laugh. Their ability to avoid manual labor will last as long as the tech doesn’t break in an environment where there is no vendor chain from coltan in African jungles to Best Buy finished consumer/business electronic devices… and no vendor chain linking iron ore to Harbor Freight or Ace Hardware. If their security staff doesn’t get them first.

        • But we are going to be forced to deal with the situation. We could see that as evolution at work. And how well or badly we deal with it could be seen as our choice (as conscious beings) to cooperate with evolution, or resist it unto calamity… which is also evolution at work.

          I would have to agree that the propaganda flowing from the top of the economic heap is the more immediate problem.

      • Rhoid Rager | Nov 19, 2013 at 9:01 am |

        Consider the question that Diamond never considers with ‘Collapse’….how we are collapsing and what we might do about it.

        • already have, not ready to write about it yet. Remember Diamond specializes in the past in the hopes of drawing lessons for the future. For those who’ve learned them, the question is indeed what to do next. Thanks for link, have heard of cluborlov…

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