Regarding Overshoot:

Rex Weyler, May 27, 2021

Ecological Impact = Population x per-capita Consumption (“Abundance”) x Technology factor (extraction & waste stream)

I propose we also add Systemic feedbacks, so I = PAT becomes I = PATS

And although the growth rate is still declining from its 1964 peak (2.2%/yr, now 1.7%/yr), the decline has slowed and is levelling off, and the net gain is increasing every year. Increasing, not declining.

Extremely poor countries, in which millions of people are living at near-starvation, continue to have high fertility rates, median nations also have high fertility rates, (P increases). Rich countries are actively encouraging immigration, which converts low-modest consumers into higher consumers, and virtually everyone wants more. (A increases). Meanwhile, as resources are depleted, the ecological impact of extraction and waste-stream increases (T increases). And on top of that, the feedbacks — food-chain effects, albedo, methane from melting permafrost, dying or burning forests, depleting soils, etc — are increasing.

So: Every factor in the equation (I = PATS) is increasing, so the ecological impact increases. Every day. Every moment. We are progressing deeper into overshoot every moment. This is going to turn around, of course, eventually, but it could be a very long, slow, chaotic, messy contraction of human numbers and impact.

The fundamental message/question of ecology for the last fifty years (or last 200 years) has been: Can humanity find a way to contract wisely, rather that just expand at full speed until the natural collapse? So far, the answer appears to be: No, it does not appear we have that capability.

We muck around with climate conferences, hydrogen schemes, and pie-in-the-sky carbon capture scams but resist the absolute necessary actions: (1) reverse population growth, (2) reduce per capita consumption, and (3) clean up our technologies and waste stream. There is nothing we can do about the system feedbacks, except reduce the previous 3 factors, which create the conditions for the feedbacks.

In a nutshell: Contract wisely, quickly, now .. or .. wait for nature’s default contraction factors, which will likely be chaotic and unpleasant.


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