Episode 3: Food: There's lots of it

A challenge

If our current population level is not too much, please provide a concrete estimate of what level would be "too much".
Because it's certainly true that the exponential rise in population can soon achieve huge figures.

It seems to take about 40 years for the population to double - at that rate, we would completely cover the earth's surface at 1 person per square metre within 640 years. Clearly that would be too much, so it's inevitable that one day family planning will be essential - even if everything the article says is true and the best of outcomes happens.

Also, please note what we've had to do in terms of massive fossil fuel use and deforestation in order to produce these hige amounts of food. Please note that we haven't yet got the hang of producing it all without hugely - and shamefully - impacting upon our fellow species. There's a fair argument to say that our current population is "greedy" in terms of not allowing enough for the other life forms

Finally, I would say that a responsible species would first get its food supply and distribution networks in order for the current population - in a demonstrably sustainable manner - and then improve it with some spare capacity before increasing the population any further. Build the house before you breed the family.

no

lol hello

Should we?

There are always two very important questions to ask, especially in science. The first: Can we? Clearly, we can. We CAN feed the growing population. We CAN grow, we CAN increase. We CAN change and adapt. As a truly remarkable species, we CAN do pretty much anything, as evidenced by all we have so far achieved.
The second question we should be asking ourselves, possibly more importantly: Should we? Just because we CAN do stuff doesn't mean we SHOULD (see: weaponry, war, slavery, etc). We CAN grow, but SHOULD we? And at what expense could we grow so exponentially? Our earth? We do need it. Is it necessary or beneficial for anyone involved for us to grow?
There are more questions to be asked, and hopefully answered, than this site is even attempting to cover.

More solutions...

(I'm re-posting because it doesn't work under "reply".)

Is it not true that the smallest of seeds grow into the largest structures? Take for example the mustard seed (from the Bible which also grew to gigantic proportions). How about computers... It must have been said in the past "Ahh, nobody will ever be able to carry a supercomputer in their hands", but now we basically do.
What was the growth rates of these things? And what WILL be the growth rate of...
Solar? Yes, solar energy. It's growth rate has averaged about 33% and in 2012, was an astonishing 78%.
Granted, subsidies were needed to get it going, but now, the advanced machine automation needed is almost in place to keep it going, that is to make solar panels cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels.
So if we assume a much lower growth rate, such as just 22%, to make up for the eventual loss of subsidies, we still get a completely total global solar powered "everything" in about 40 years. In fact, since late 2012, cumulative global installed capacity was at just 90GW, the next year should see at least 1.22 x that, and so on, which adds up to 256,000GW in forty years, which when divide by 4 to make up for the less than ideal capacity factor, still provides 4 times current electrical ASSUMING only 33% efficiency in the energy storage scheme of using molten salts and an old steam generator.
TEN times current electrical, if something like the LiFePO4 battery is used (and also mass produced by machine for much cheaper). Oh, and there IS enough lithium such that just 1% extracted from the oceans would power some 150 billion Tesla kick ass electric cars (I imagine using 90% of that for solar storage)!

I believe that the phosphorous argument is also flawed because when we start to reach "peak", we will resort to more efficient ways such as hydroponics, etc.

The reason I say these things despite nuclear being FAR more energy dense is because the required infrastructure ensures jobs (and because soooo many people are afraid of proliferation, even though LFTR is less prone to such).
Approximately 400,000 square miles of solar installations (covering just less than 1% of the Earth's landspace) will guarantee extra time needed by humanity to adapt to a robotic and software powered world and the subsequent loss of most all jobs.
Perhaps, this kind of "easing transition" will better prepare humanity for the merge into a future where machines provide abundance via efficient extraction, processing and distribution of resources from an environmentally acceptable manner.

Posted by fireofenergy

Your final paragraph is right on

You see the bigger picture I think, that an unacknowledged ill of society is over-efficient system of production. We're already capable of making so much stuff we are swamped by it, and machines could be used to make even more of it.

So our coming challenge is how to keep people busy once we don't need them to work to produce our goods. This is the root of the mass migration to service jobs over the last few decades. Now the computer age threatens service jobs too. But modern tech companies will simply never employ a majority of us. It's not how they're built.

If you ever want to experience this firsthand, go to a Shanghai jewelry store. There are so many shop attendants that practically none has to move from their particular patch of the counter. It seems inefficient until we consider the alternative: put two thirds of them out of work and collapse society. So instead, they are given meaningless jobs.

I once heard an interview with Bruce Sterling (can't find it online, this was in like 1998) where he discussed this and proposed that people would have to all turn to cultural production to fill time: art, craft, performance, etc.. I thought it was interesting problem then and it's even more relevant now.

Perhaps in the future all schools will teach Unemployment, because robots will do the work, but people will still go to school as if nothing has changed.

Starvation is caused by poverty is caused by overpopulation.

Is it possible that the reason why a large amount of poverty exists in the first place is because there isn't enough work for an overpopulated, underdeveloped country? Maybe the country is too underdeveloped to create enough jobs for the entire population which in turn keeps the country underdeveloped. If there were less people, there would be enough jobs and less poverty and starvation, thus allowing the country to develop into something that could then sustain a higher population.

Just a thought. I could be way wrong.

Possible

Your solution would make labor worth more, only ending poverty by making everyone valuable to society.

Another thought.

What sorts of jobs are these people supposedly going to get? Do we really need more industries built on the backs of receptionists and mechanics? Are they going to open restaurants? A software engineer's wage isn't going to do a nation much good if their government is corrupted by greedy private interests, their soil is completely depleted by irresponsible contemporary agriculture and their natural resources are literally being ripped out from under them by more "developed" societies. Not to mention drone attacks and such disgusting genocides that incinerate mountains and millions of millions of people. We're not talking tribal wars here. We're talking about financially secure societies(ahem...usa) causing internal conflicts (gun sales) and then swooping in to the "rescue" the country decades later with bombs (which is just show. There's nothing to achieve in bombing civilians and ALL OF THEIR RESOURCES who have zero decision making power) and a fake "democratic" government. "Jobs" exist within a false economy based on arbitrary numbers invented by the people who are under the illusion that they are somehow separate from the resources we all require. Economy isn't real. If we don't start thinking outside the box of "Jobs" and we keep thinking the "Economy will save us," we are going to kill ourselves and it won't matter who's having how many babies. Scope. "Jobs" ain't helping 'Murica and they certainly aren't going to help Yemen or Uganda or Brazil. The world doesn't need "Jobs", we need to kick out bloodthirsty officials and elect compassionate policy makers that have interest in protecting natural resources and building an economy based on sustainability. At that point, "Jobs" might make more sense for a developing country. Until then, they are better off fighting and farming as best as they can.

"overpopultion because not enough jobs"

money and economic principles are not self-existent ,natural and unmovable things like gravity. they are things people created, just like language, and the rules are things we made up. needing jobs is caused by needing money, which throughout most of human existence, people's lives did not run on money since it had not been invented, and there are societies that still do just fine without it. there are also individuals within our developed societies who choose to do without it, and who manage to do so successfully.
I don't agree with everything this guy says (for one thing,he does not know that the world is not overpopulated!) but he is right about a lot of things. here, have a look at "The Moneyless Manifesto." it should help you find a few answers to your question
http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/book/foreword-by-charles-eisenstein/

"overpopultion because not enough jobs"

http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/book/foreword-by-charles-eisenstein/

money and economic principles are not self-existent ,natural and unmovable things like gravity. they are things people created, just like language, and the rules are things we made up. needing jobs is caused by needing money, which throughout most of human existence, people's lives did not run on money since it had not been invented, and there are societies that still do just fine without it. there are also individuals within our developed societies who choose to do without it, and who manage to do so successfully.
I don't agree with everything this guy says (for one thing,he does not know that the world is not overpopulated!) but he is right about a lot of things. here, have a look at "The Moneyless Manifesto." it should help you find a few answers to your question
http://www.moneylessmanifesto.org/book/foreword-by-charles-eisenstein/

I think the same too

It's clear that twice the people don't require twice the jobs to keep them alive, because of economies of scale. It's also clear that with increaed mechanisation fewer jobs are required anyway.

What does happen is that things that are in short supply - such as land to live on - become more scarce, and people are more keen to grab the limited jobs in order to grab the limited land. We're not working to produce - we're working to earn more than our neighbour because land is at a premium and there's competition to purchase it.

We've seen this in the UK for years - housing becoming more expensive, less unspoiled countryside by the year, less chance of having a decent sized garden with the house, few places undisturbed by light pollution.

Without a doubt increasing population is making life worse in our country.

Agriculture

The higher yielding crops that enable farmers to use less land still use as much water. Where is that going to come from? Farmers in India and elsewhere are already depleting thousand year old aquifers underground to keep up with production. They won't last forever. Then what?

Re: Agriculture

Humans already have desalinisation technology advanced enough that,if attached to pipelines, could use ocean water to irrigate large tracts of land previously considered too arid to farm.

No company is attempting this because of the UN's policy on overpopulation.

Family planning

Those programs are in place to inform the uninformed about AIDS.

Inform people about aids?

AIDS is not the only STD (sexually transmitted disease) known to man. There are actually quite a number of these and many of them are just as dangerous.
While these programs do in fact inform people about AIDs, they do not help in stopping the spread of it or other STDs.
Oral contraceptives just prevent women from having babies and increases their risk for cancer and other terrible side effects. (one of the three german scientists who invented oral contraceptives admitted it and several studies can be found on this subject. Look it up) Anyway, these women, though unable to conceive, may still engage in sexual activity and may still transmit STDs.
Condoms on the other hand merely prevent genital contact. But the genitals are only one part of the lower body. There are still other parts of the lower body that can spread an STD (for those STDs that are transmitted through contact) like the hips, thighs, and areas near the groin/crotch/whatever you wanna call it.

AIDS and HIV are also myth to make money out of nothing

Do your research about it. Listening to nobel prize winner kerry mullis helps a lot understanding this fraud.

Hips don't lie (nor pass on STDs!!!)

Seriously? Might want to read up on some basic biology, 'cause that's pretty funny ;-)

Read up, and...

It's actually true. Might want to read up on some basic STD knowledge, because it's actually a little scary. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexually_transmitted_disease

Food: there's lots of it...

I wonder if the argument that the use of modern agriculture methods, whether in Africa or elsewhere, could be the solution to hunger takes into consideration the energy cost of modern agriculture methods and how unsustainable it may be should an energy crisis become a reality.

I also wonder what would the ramifications be of destroying Africa's natural ecosystem by converting all its land into agricultural farmland.

Think about it.

The solution to the problem you mentioned

http://permacultureprinciples.com
I used to wonder why it was so hard to get crops to grow when I could go hiking and have to fight my way through the plant life that God had put there all by himself. No one did anything to "help," those plants, or change their genetic structure, or keep the them apart from each other. A lot of it was edible to, and good for you. I found it all odd for so long; now, I've been studying alternative agriculture methods, called permaculture. Much less work and resources, but much more food.
The design is based on the workings of natural ecosystems, like i just mentioned. If you put the right plants right beside each other, they will not compete but will help each other. Take the "three sisters" for example. Corn, squash, and beans. The corn is tall and strong, and the beans climb the corn (much like vines climb trees in the woods) and put a great deal of nitrogen into the ground, while the corn is a nitrogen hog. Underneath all this, squash grows, and shades out weeds and performs other tasks. http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html
Some plants put things in the ground that other plants need. That is at least part of why there is so much life there and no one busting their butt and spending money to keep it going. Permaculturalists have recorded feeding 450 people off of a mere 2 acres with no commercial fertilizer, no genetic modification, and no pesticides. A good book to read is "Permaculture in a nutshell" y patrick whitefield or "Gaia's Garden" by Toby Hemenway
http://www.amazon.com/Gaias-Garden-Home-Scale-Permaculture-Edition/dp/16...

Food: there's lots of it...

I'd agree that the energy required to grow all the food, as well as power all of the world's devices, could be too much for the world to supply. Maybe that should be the subject of the next video: How to provide energy for the world. It may be another solvable problem, or it might be another big dilemma. However, the whole "ramifications of destroying Africa's natural ecosystem" is somewhat missing the point. What the video is trying to say is that the whole world could be fed by that amount of farming area. It's not saying that we should grow our food exclusively on the African savannah. If that area were to be spread out across the whole wide world, along with the living area mentioned in the first video (about the size of Texas), there would still be plenty of space for the world's natural ecosystems to thrive.

Energy isn't as big a problem as everyone thinks

The energy problem isn't that we are short on ways of producing it; it's that the obvious next step—towards a higher energy density—is unjustifiably associated in everyone's minds with the most terrible weapon we've ever produced.

By moving towards nuclear power, a lot of the issues of limited resources can be delayed for potentially "hundreds of thousands of years," according to Kirk Sorensen.
(http://bit.ly/aYwQMC)

HT3R reactor project in Texas, which is a joint project between the University of Texas system and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, offers potential solutions to a large number of problems, including an industrial-scale test of the creation of synthetic hydrocarbon fuels. According to their website: "Additionally, the excess high-temperature process heat from these reactors is sufficient to economically create hydrogen from water, synthetic hydrocarbon fuels from coal and long-chain hydrocarbons, plus desalinate brackish water."
(http://www.utpb.edu/research-grants/ht3r/)

According to Dr. Carlo Rubbia af CERN, one ton of Thorium (the fuel for the HT3R project above), "produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal."
(http://bit.ly/aYwQMC again)

Again from Kirk Sorensen, "About 100 grams, or 8 tablespoons, of thorium could provide the energy used by an American during his or her lifetime."

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power#Possible_benefits

Betting on the future

Shouldn't we actually prove that these wonderful new sources work before gambling massively on them with a huge population increase?

Another solution, too

(Going to try to post again)
Is it not true that the smallest of seeds grow into the largest structures? Take for example the mustard seed (from the Bible which also grew to gigantic proportions). How about computers... It must have been said in the past "Ahh, nobody will ever be able to carry a supercomputer in their hands", but now we basically do.
What was the growth rates of these things? And what WILL be the growth rate of...
Solar? Yes, solar energy. It's growth rate has averaged about 33% and in 2012, was an astonishing 78%.
Granted, subsidies were needed to get it going, but now, the advanced machine automation needed is almost in place to keep it going, that is to make solar panels cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels.
So if we assume a much lower growth rate, such as just 22%, to make up for the eventual loss of subsidies, we still get a completely total global solar powered "everything" in about 40 years. In fact, since late 2012, cumulative global installed capacity was at just 90GW, the next year should see at least 1.22 x that, and so on, which adds up to 256,000GW in forty years, which when divide by 4 to make up for the less than ideal capacity factor, still provides 4 times current electrical ASSUMING only 33% efficiency in the energy storage scheme of using molten salts and an old steam generator.
TEN times current electrical, if something like the LiFePO4 battery is used (and also mass produced by machine for much cheaper). Oh, and there IS enough lithium such that just 1% extracted from the oceans would power some 150 billion Tesla kick ass electric cars (I imagine using 90% of that for solar storage)!

I believe that the phosphorous argument is also flawed because when we start to reach "peak", we will resort to more efficient ways such as hydroponics, etc.

The reason I say these things despite nuclear being FAR more energy dense is because the required infrastructure ensures jobs (and because soooo many people are afraid of proliferation, even though LFTR is less prone to such).
Approximately 400,000 square miles of solar installations (covering just less than 1% of the Earth's landspace) will guarantee extra time needed by humanity to adapt to a robotic and software powered world and the subsequent loss of most all jobs.
Perhaps, this kind of "easing transition" will better prepare humanity for the merge into a future where machines provide abundance via efficient extraction, processing and distribution of resources from an environmentally acceptable manner.

Posted by fireofenergy

All true, but Sorensen is short-sighted

He forgets the one big detail: once resource aren't a constraint anymore (read, once people wake up, realize there is no energy or food crisis), human population will jump several notches (100+ billions) AND energy consumption per capita as well.

That implies that the problems will still arise far sooner than expected by Sorensen, although not earlier than another hundred years, time enough to solve the next riddle anyway.

Thorium reactors are an old idea and will probably make it to the commercial stage in the coming decades, a good local solution for a little while.

'the most terrible weapon ever produced.'

Nuclear power does currently seem like the best bet in terms of longevity, but if according to our glorious leaders 'rogue nations' like North Korea and Iran are able to use power plants to weaponize nuclear power, then in logical terms it'd be like giving every country nuclear capabilities.

Obviously that's a very pessimistic outlook on the potential consequences of promoting nuclear power globally, but even if each country agreed to use this source solely for civilian purposes, I get the feeling that certain countries would battle against its 'democratization', so as to maintain a geopolitical advantage...