The Future Does Not Look Rosy

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russ_watters
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Section 2.4 of the paper describes resource data such as coal, natural gas and oil.
I haven't done a deep dive, but I will at least give the author some credit for this:
Around 1990, it became clear that non-renewable
resources, particularly fossil fuels, had turned out to be more plentiful than assumed in the 1972 BAU scenario.
1990 is pretty far back. If they realized their projection was way wrong before the fracking boom, by about 2010 with the death of Peak Oil they must have realized it was way, way, way wrong. So it doesn't look like a non-renewable resource-based collapse is anywhere on any projectable time horizon.

They go on:
Randers therefore postulated that
not resource scarcity, but pollution, especially from greenhouse gases, would cause the halt in growth.
Wow, fortunately there is a back-up thesis that still works (that wasn't even known/available when the book was written)! Frankly, when the main thesis turns out to be really, really wrong it does not invoke confidence in the back-up thesis/projection being better. Especially when the thesis is postulated -- assumed. They are assuming that collapse is inevitable, not predicting it. The question they are asking is: Assuming collapse due to "pollution" is inevitable under these conditions when would it happen?

To me that's too hand-wavey. I reject the postulate that "pollution" based collapse is any more inevitable than an oil-based collapse. My beer is not hand-wavey. I know when I brew it, to a high degree of certainty, what the Malthusian end of that universe will look like (after some practice). I know when, why and what the end state will be.

Theirs is math without a direct connection to reality. I'm not even concerned about the lack of units/scaling and choices of proxies - there is a lot of data there, but it's not what is driving the model. It's the cause-effect hand-waving that's the main problem: How will it happen? We don't even have a high degree of certainty what the planet will look like in 2100, much less a solid idea of how that could impact human civilization. Note: unlike the "pollution" based collapse, the resource-based collapse model did include a mechanism. It's not one I agree with, but for now it is moot anyway since the input value was so wrong.
aheight said:
I think we can agree the proxies used for the "pollution" variable, atmospheric carbon dioxide and plastic pollution will continue to be significant environmental issues: carbon dioxide is the highest it's been in several hundred-thousand years and it's not easily (significiantly) sequestered, and plastic is slow to degrade.
Sure. But "significant environmental issues" ≠ "collapse is inevitable". I'm not willing to accept the assumed starting premise that collapse is inevitable. That's something that should be argued/modeled/predicted, not assumed.
 
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