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When will our population hit crisis point ?


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#16    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 02:47 PM

View PostBr Cornelius, on 15 June 2013 - 02:41 PM, said:

I disagree with the concept of purpose.

Br Cornelius
Then don't use it.  I would say that we are human beings so all things considered we are better if we make human beings our purpose.  Other beings -- especially other sentient beings -- will end up better off since our welfare and theirs are tied together.


#17    Zaphod222

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 02:48 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 15 June 2013 - 02:45 PM, said:

Vietnam feeds itself extremely well and exports tons of coffee and rice and rubber with five times the population density on its arable land,

Does it do so without importing oil and fertilizer? Do confirm. That would be fascinating.

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#18    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 02:50 PM

That's part of the international system.  We produce most of our own fertilizer but unfortunately so far have had to import petroleum.  With the coming of cracking this may end.


#19    Zaphod222

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 02:59 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 15 June 2013 - 02:50 PM, said:

That's part of the international system.  We produce most of our own fertilizer but unfortunately so far have had to import petroleum.  With the coming of cracking this may end.

"Cracking"? What in the world do you want to crack?

It seems to me, you just admitted that once Vietnam can not import cheap oil, fertilizer, and pesticides (also oil products) any more, your fabled food surplus will be gone.

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#20    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:02 PM

Cracking for oil and natural gas; some discoveries point to a more optimistic future.

The issue is not that one country produces everything it need; we import some foodstuffs too.  The issue is that we have the surplus to be able to do so in spite of our dense population.


#21    Br Cornelius

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:11 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 15 June 2013 - 03:02 PM, said:

Cracking for oil and natural gas; some discoveries point to a more optimistic future.

The issue is not that one country produces everything it need; we import some foodstuffs too.  The issue is that we have the surplus to be able to do so in spite of our dense population.
Vietnam is in the fertile tropics, most countries are not endowed with such advantages. Almost all current food production requires more oil (weight wise) than the food it produces. Take away the oil and productivity crashes massively.
There are highly productive organic alternatives which could help to transition into a more sustainable future - but the trajectory we are actually on is to intensify the use of energy in our food production. That is a disaster waiting to happen and the spikes in food prices over the last half decade attest to what happens in a peak oil world. Many farmers in Europe will go out of business in the coming years because even with subsidies it is uneconomic to farm with incomes well below a standard industrial wage. The world has already been rocked by significant food riots in developing countries - a taste of the future.

Br Cornelius

Edited by Br Cornelius, 15 June 2013 - 03:13 PM.

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#22    Zaphod222

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:19 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 15 June 2013 - 03:02 PM, said:

Cracking for oil and natural gas; some discoveries point to a more optimistic future.

The issue is not that one country produces everything it need; we import some foodstuffs too.  The issue is that we have the surplus to be able to do so in spite of our dense population.

I suspect when your write "cracking", what you mean is "fracking",
Now, "fracking" will offer an additional supply of carbon fuels for a while. Which means that peak oil will be pushed forward; but it will still occur. Fracking does NOT offer a solution to peak oil.

And the problem about peak oil is global. Vietnam can NOT extract itself from that, because EVERYBODY will run short of the cheap oil that your food production depends on, just like everybody else`s food production.

"Trade" is NOT a solution to that; if you believe that, you are dreaming.

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#23    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:24 PM

Yes we are in the tropics; that has its advantages and its disadvantages.  The Congo is also in the tropics.

Your scenario of the future is typical, and not one I share.  Population here is stable: we would like to avoid a population crash or an excessively old population, so birth rates are being kept up without being explosive.  There are places where the push against excessive population has gone too far and populations will soon age and decline.  There are others where more work in control is badly needed.  Balance is the watchword.

Agricultural dependence on petroleum products is not a serious worry.  Even if petroleum prices rise significantly the portion used for things other than transport and electricity is small and can absorb it.  A more likely scenario is that technology will continue to develop alternatives.


#24    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:27 PM

I stand corrected, "fracking" it is.  My English sometimes goes awry.

I see the technology giving a considerable boost to the Vietnamese economy and enough time to convert to solar and a few other sources.  We probably have something like 30 - 50 years worth of present Vietnamese use available.  Without this technology there is almost nothing.

Eventually we will use biomass if solar doesn't work out, but I don't see that except as an option.


#25    Br Cornelius

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:32 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 15 June 2013 - 03:24 PM, said:

Yes we are in the tropics; that has its advantages and its disadvantages.  The Congo is also in the tropics.

Your scenario of the future is typical, and not one I share.  Population here is stable: we would like to avoid a population crash or an excessively old population, so birth rates are being kept up without being explosive.  There are places where the push against excessive population has gone too far and populations will soon age and decline.  There are others where more work in control is badly needed.  Balance is the watchword.

Agricultural dependence on petroleum products is not a serious worry.  Even if petroleum prices rise significantly the portion used for things other than transport and electricity is small and can absorb it.  A more likely scenario is that technology will continue to develop alternatives.

This is fundamentally wrong analysis. Agriculture recieves oil inputs in three forms in order of importance;
- fertilizers
- pesticides and herbicides
- transport on and off farm
- processing (not significant in some countries)

Transport, the obvious input is insignificant for many foods (though not for salads flown from Africa to Northern Europe).

There are no alternatives to cheap energy in the current system of agriculture and at least 50% of all food costs go on energy inputs alone.

All of modern life is dependent on cheap energy, and agriculture especially so.

Br Cornelius

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Robert Anton Wilson

#26    Br Cornelius

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:35 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 15 June 2013 - 03:27 PM, said:

I stand corrected, "fracking" it is.  My English sometimes goes awry.

I see the technology giving a considerable boost to the Vietnamese economy and enough time to convert to solar and a few other sources.  We probably have something like 30 - 50 years worth of present Vietnamese use available.  Without this technology there is almost nothing.

Eventually we will use biomass if solar doesn't work out, but I don't see that except as an option.
You should not believe the hype. Fracking is extremely expensive to produce and means that current energy prices will have to rise in order to make Fracked energy affordable - this means more expensive food which hits countries like Vietnam doubly hard since many live on very low incomes and cannot afford to buy food at current rates let alone at increased rates.

Fracking is no panacea for any of the problems the world faces and will help to accelerate global warming massively - with significant knock on impacts on agricultural productivity.

Br Cornelius

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Robert Anton Wilson

#27    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:43 PM

Energy is not cheap, so saying we are dependent on cheap energy is misleading.  I don't see it getting more expensive, though, and, in fact, unless the Saudis willingly surrender market share it will get cheaper over then next decade or so.  Your analysis is concerned only with costs on agriculture and does not consider the costs on the overall society.  A country like Vietnam can limit other petroleum uses more readily and divert them to agriculture if a genuine crisis arose, far more easily than most societies could, but that is something I just simply think is fear-mongering and not in the least to be expected.

As a proportion of costs, in Vietnam labor is critical, as the population is rapidly urbanizing.  There is, though, still considerable mechanization that is difficult in tropical environment.  Fertilizer too is not anywhere near the levels of use in the West, because it is not needed.  A sharp rise in energy costs might put some water buffalo back to work, but otherwise would not sharply impinge on agricultural production.

Also, the society does not show the pressure to switch to meat seen in other developing countries, although there is some of that.


#28    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:49 PM

Your negativity about fracking is ideological, and I suspect you limit your sources to people you agree with and hence are mislead by political agendas.  The technology is there and will yield increased petroleum production worldwide for several decades if not longer.

Vietnam has a considerable "surplus" population in the countryside -- meaning that the same production with the same input of labor could be achieved with far fewer hands.  Everyone though now is well fed and educated and so the urbanization has slowed.


#29    Br Cornelius

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:49 PM

Look into Peak oil, its real and oil production has already peaked. Saudi production has peaked, and the Iraq invasion was a strategic response to that fact.
As I said, Vietnam is fairly atypical of world agriculture where energy price is the dominant factor. There are two main producers of the staple food crop of the world - America and Russia and they are both experiencing rising energy costs - that will effect world grain prices.

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#30    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 03:57 PM

The Saudis keep their data a state secret, but from their spending it does not look like they foresee any peak in their production.  Iraq is only beginning to go back on line and we have no idea what may happen there if they get their act in gear.





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