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Nature: The science myths that will not die

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uncelestial

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Feb 25, 2015
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Hmm.

The answer to the question "Do people in the United States ever die from malnutrition" is "Every day."

The answer to the question "Do people in the United States ever die from malnutrition chiefly as a result of not being able to afford food as opposed to other, less purely economic reasons," the answer is "Not really" or at least "Extremely rarely."

In the US, actually dying from lack of food is quite rare and generally involves other problems. If a person is incapable of feeding themselves, either because they're too young or infirm, lack of care can easily lead to starvation. This happens far too often, but doesn't generally indicate that the caretaker was unable to afford food as much as they were negligent or worse. A person who is mentally ill--as far too many of the homeless are--may wind up starving to death, but again, access to food isn't necessarily the primary problem there. There are sufficient shelters, soup kitchens, and hospitals in most communities that a person who truly has no money can keep body and soul together for an indefinite period provided they actually eat every few days.

As a purely economic situation, starvation does not really exist in any significant way in the US today.

---

Anyways, there's zero evidence that poverty rises in correlation with population. The World Bank, for example, suggests that poverty is hitting an all-time low despite our population. By almost any human measure—food consumption, life expectancy, access to clean water, etc.—life is getting better, not worse. Insistence that we've reached our limit has been around for centuries (you may remember the declaration in the '70s that "hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death" in just a few years. Of course, no such thing happened), and there's no indication that they're suddenly right this time.

The ultimate irony here, however, is that population alarmists have been responsible for more human suffering that the catastrophe they claim to be preventing. You may remember India's massive and brutal sterilization campaign (with about 2000 women killed in botched procedures), or China hunting down women and forcing them to abort, or women in Africa being forcibly injected with contraceptives. The victims of this are invariably poor minorities - when they say there are too many people, they don't mean too many Swedes, they mean too many Africans or Asians or Arabs. These are unrecognized tragedies in the name of some bullshit pseudo-science, and those babbling about "overpopulation" should not be held in any higher regard than climate change deniers or anti-vaccers.
For the love of god, are you really arguing that overpopulation isn't a problem because there isn't a food capacity problem yet? Are the world's resources literally infinite to you? Are you saying that our massive population increasing the global temperature by 7-10 degrees Celsius through greenhouse-producing activity isn't going to impact our food capacity? Our water supply? Are the planet's biodiversity, forestation, and sea levels totally unrelated to population and demand for resources, in your mind? Do you not see a wee timing problem in pushing everyone into the first world and waiting for people to start having fewer babies? Are you even sure culturally speaking that everyone everywhere *would* suddenly have fewer babies? Have you even read research on the issues of biocapacity and our currently ecological footprint, at all, ever? At what point does the finiteness of the world's resources finally make this a resource issue for you instead of an economic one?

I need to go lie down.
 
Apr 10, 2007
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For the love of god, are you really arguing that overpopulation isn't a problem because there isn't a food capacity problem yet? Are the world's resources literally infinite to you? Are you saying that our massive population increasing the global temperature by 7-10 degrees Celsius through greenhouse-producing activity isn't going to impact our food capacity? Our water supply? Are the planet's biodiversity, forestation, and sea levels totally unrelated to population and demand for resources, in your mind? Do you not see a wee timing problem in pushing everyone into the first world and waiting for people to start having fewer babies? Are you even sure culturally speaking that everyone everywhere *would* suddenly have fewer babies? Have you even read research on the issues of biocapacity and our currently ecological footprint, at all, ever? At what point does the finiteness of the world's resources finally make this a resource issue for you instead of an economic one?

I need to go lie down.

And your solution is what exactly? Kill the other 6 billion people off? Or to keep everyone else poor?

The best birth control we have is better economic conditions, bar none. This is not even debatable.
 

bobbytkc

ADD New Gen Gamer
Feb 28, 2007
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I think it is unrealistic that some people in this thread think that in a world where currently underdeveloped nations become developed will imply that they will consume on a per capita level like the US. The US is only able to consume like it does because it is the richest and most advanced nation right now. They hold most of the world's wealth, so they buy more than the rest. Simple as that.

The fact is, when everyone is equally rich, there is no rich person. developing poorer nations makes nations more equitable, so yes, as they develop, they will consume more than their currently deplorable levels simply because they will command a larger portion of the world's wealth, but the richer nations will also consume less now, because they command a smaller portion of the world's wealth and so can afford less.
 

TheRedSnifit

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Nov 21, 2012
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For the love of god, are you really arguing that overpopulation isn't a problem because there isn't a food capacity problem yet? Are the world's resources literally infinite to you? Are you saying that our massive population increasing the global temperature by 7-10 degrees Celsius through greenhouse-producing activity isn't going to impact our food capacity? Our water supply? Are the planet's biodiversity, forestation, and sea levels totally unrelated to population and demand for resources, in your mind? Do you not see a wee timing problem in pushing everyone into the first world and waiting for people to start having fewer babies? Are you even sure culturally speaking that everyone everywhere *would* suddenly have fewer babies? Have you even read research on the issues of biocapacity and our currently ecological footprint, at all, ever? At what point does the finiteness of the world's resources finally make this a resource issue for you instead of an economic one?

I need to go lie down.

Thing is, it isn't my job to answer this. When your argument has been predicting immediate calamity for 200 years and consistently failed in its predictions, it's up to you to explain why this time will be different instead of just rattling off a bunch of websites that amount to little more than "But look at the numbers!"

Your link makes the exact same mistake the hundreds of past alarmists made in assuming that resources are fixed and immune to human creativity or effort. Sorry, but I'd prefer to see something more convincing before I start advocating that we persuade/coerce less fortunate people who don't yet have what we do to lower both their populations and their expectations.
 

Toxi

Banned
May 29, 2013
41,538
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"Overpopulation is a myth" is not the same thing as "resources are infinite".
For the love of god, are you really arguing that overpopulation isn't a problem because there isn't a food capacity problem yet? Are the world's resources literally infinite to you? Are you saying that our massive population increasing the global temperature by 7-10 degrees Celsius through greenhouse-producing activity isn't going to impact our food capacity? Our water supply? Are the planet's biodiversity, forestation, and sea levels totally unrelated to population and demand for resources, in your mind? Do you not see a wee timing problem in pushing everyone into the first world and waiting for people to start having fewer babies? Are you even sure culturally speaking that everyone everywhere *would* suddenly have fewer babies? Have you even read research on the issues of biocapacity and our currently ecological footprint, at all, ever? At what point does the finiteness of the world's resources finally make this a resource issue for you instead of an economic one?

I need to go lie down.
Why are you focusing on population when there are plenty of other factors to increased resource consumption and waste production?

We're not depleting the Earth's fisheries because of increased population, we're depleting them because a minority of that population is hunting fish for another minority of that population to eat at an unsustainable rate because it's more profitable in the short-term.
 

bobbytkc

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Feb 28, 2007
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Thing is, it isn't my job to answer this. When your argument has been predicting immediate calamity for 200 years and consistently failed in its predictions, it's up to you to explain why this time will be different instead of just rattling off a bunch of websites that amount to little more than "But look at the numbers!"

Your link makes the exact same mistake the hundreds of past alarmists made in assuming that resources are fixed and immune to human creativity or effort. Sorry, but I'd prefer to see something more convincing before I start advocating that we persuade/convince less fortunate people who don't yet have what we do to lower both their populations and their expectations.

It is also important to note that ecological impact is a different question from overpopulation. Overpopulation is the problem of sustaining the human pupulation, not a problem of sustaining the environment.

The fact is, most of the natural ecosystem can die off (not saying it will, it is just an example) and it still would not be an overpopulation problem because we still have the resources to keep the human population thriving through sufficient livestock and agriculture. Overpopulation is not the same as environmental sustainability.

That is why people are saying there is no overpopulation problem. We do indeed generate enough food through livestock and agriculture to keep the human race going even in today's large numbers. The ecological consequence is another issue.
 

Toxi

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May 29, 2013
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The more people there are on the planet, the worse it is for the environment. There's no getting around it.
Yes, but that's one of the more minor factors to making the environment worse.

Breathing is also technically bad for the environment because we breathe out greenhouse gas, but holding your breath until you suffocate to prevent climate change is not a very effective or good idea.
 

BreezyLimbo

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Jul 11, 2014
36,963
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Yes, but that's one of the more minor factors to making the environment worse.

Breathing is also technically bad for the environment because we breathe out greenhouse gas, but holding your breath until you suffocate to prevent climate change is not a very effective or good idea.

I wouldn't say it's a minor factor when all those things you mentioned, such as consumption, waste production, are all at high levels because of humans.

More humans=more consumption=more waste. Simple as that.
 

TheRedSnifit

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Nov 21, 2012
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It is also important to note that ecological impact is a different question from overpopulation. Overpopulation is the problem of sustaining the human pupulation, not a problem of sustaining the environment.

The fact is, most of the natural ecosystem can die off (not saying it will, it is just an example) and it still would not be an overpopulation problem because we still have the resources to keep the human population thriving through sufficient livestock and agriculture. Overpopulation is not the same as environmental sustainability.

That is why people are saying there is no overpopulation problem. We do indeed generate enough food through livestock and agriculture to keep the human race going even in today's large numbers. The ecological consequence is another issue.

As has been pointed out, overpopulation plays a rather small role, perhaps the smallest, in damaging the environment.
 
Apr 10, 2007
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I wouldn't say it's a minor factor when all those things you mentioned, such as consumption, waste production, are all at high levels because of humans.

More humans=more consumption=more waste. Simple as that.
Yes but alarmists also discount the possibility of more efficient use of these same resources as economic conditions get better for the rest to the world.

Technological progress isn't linear. For example, there is no rule that says you have to establish a substantial landline phone network before you can have access to broadband Internet. This is obviously not case because we have cellphones and smartphones now. Indeed, most developing countries leapfroged straight to a wireless broadband network just because it's so much better.
 

Toxi

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May 29, 2013
41,538
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I wouldn't say it's a minor factor when all those things you mentioned, such as consumption, waste production, are all at high levels because of humans.

More humans=more consumption=more waste. Simple as that.
Our consumption and waste production do not increase linearly with population because some people have a bigger ecological impact than others.

Let's say the world's population stopped growing today but nothing else changed: Would we be any closer to a sustainable environment? No, not really.

What if we had the same rate of population increase but controlled our fish harvesting, switched to cleaner energy sources, and stopped growing crops and rearing livestock that are extremely resource inefficient? We'd probably be a lot closer. And unlike forcibly stopping population growth, those things don't involve crimes against humanity.
 

curls

Wake up Sheeple, your boring insistence that Obama is not a lizardman from Atlantis is wearing on my patience 💤
Aug 17, 2007
1,781
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So it would seem. And it also seems people who don't know what the word "biocapacity" means will start threads based on shitty clickbait listicles that hand-wave away the consensus of the world's scientific community. Such is life.
For now.

It's too hard to come up with a better socioeconomic system.

It means deconstructing the current socioeconomic belief system most people have in place.
Belief systems are very hard to change. Look at the responses you are getting to stating the obvious.
 
Jun 25, 2015
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Compared to other primates, we do have quite the large brains. In fact, if we added that to the end of that "myth" then it would be true.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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Developed countries have birth rates less than replacement. Therefore the solution is to develop developing countries and poor nations. The end.

Yeah, this is a lot of fucking extrapolated bullshit right here. Don't trust someone from a conservative think tank that doesn't account for humans inordinate resource consumption and how that will likely negatively impact the livability of the planet for all life due to accelerated climate change. You want to see climate change intensify at an exponential rate? Throw twice as many people on the planet and sell them the western lifestyle. There is no way Malthus was wrong. It is all a matter of time. A human lifetime is too short to grasp the accelerated impact we are having on the livability of the earth in just a few hundred years, a place which has been inhabited with life for billions of years.
 

BreezyLimbo

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Jul 11, 2014
36,963
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Yes but alarmists also discount the possibility of more efficient use of these same resources as economic conditions get better for the rest to the world.

Technological progress isn't linear. For example, there is no rule that says you have to establish a substantial landline phone network before you can have access to broadband Internet. This is obviously not case because we have cellphones and smartphones now. Indeed, most developing countries leapfroged straight to a wireless broadband network just because it's so much better.

Technological progress isn't linear, but it's also not predictable either. It could be 5 years until we hit the next big milestone in massproducing consumable eateries. Maybe 10 years. Maybe 20.

Population growth however can be predicted a bit better, for example in about 10 years it's predicted the population will be at about 8 billion, compared to the 7 billion right now. There will still be poverty at that time, we will still probably be culling livestock and crops the same as we are now. Poverty and pollution will increase until a solution is found.

Our consumption and waste production do not increase linearly with population because some people have a bigger ecological impact than others.

Let's say the world's population stopped growing today but nothing else changed: Would we be any closer to a sustainable environment? No, not really.

What if we had the same rate of population increase but controlled our fish harvesting, switched to cleaner energy sources, and stopped growing crops and rearing livestock that are extremely resource inefficient? We'd probably be a lot closer.

If we stopped growing crops and stopped depending on livestock er....we would need actual replacements for those. That takes time, and money, and alot of companies are set in their ways in terms of harvesting livestock and crop. They probably aren't looking towards the most ecologically friendly solution, even though them having the money means they'd be the best to fund something like that. And seeing that, it's only going to get gradually worse until it's too late or the companies are forced to find better solutions. But it's all about the now for them. So if we can't have a sustainable environment because nobodies forcing anybody to sustain it, then overpopulation will be put in the forefront as the main issue. China for example had the one child policy, Which has now been abolished in favor of a two child policy, because their economy finally caught up with the population. (but unfortunately the pollution produced by that is quite severe)

Until means to provide are found in an ecological, friendly way, population can be an issue.
 

ArjanN

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Dec 7, 2008
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Technological progress isn't linear, but it's also not predictable either. It could be 5 years until we hit the next big milestone in massproducing consumable eateries. Maybe 10 years. Maybe 20.

Population growth however can be predicted a bit better, for example in about 10 years it's predicted the population will be at about 8 billion, compared to the 7 billion right now. There will still be poverty at that time, we will still probably be culling livestock and crops the same as we are now. Poverty and pollution will increase until a solution is found.

If we stopped growing crops and stopped depending on livestock er....we would need actual replacements for those.

Soylent Green becoming more realistic all the time.

Would be nice if the MSG myth was officially debunked.

Right, the Phantom Pain will never get a chapter 3.

:p
 
Nov 20, 2008
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www.twitch.tv
#5 is titled like it's about overpopulation but then goes to talk about poverty.

I was hoping it would go into detail about how many humans are on earth, how sustainable our population is, and what the forecast looks like for the next few generations. Finite resources, global warming, areas where population is most concentrated, etc. would all be good stuff.
 

Makai

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#5 is titled like it's about overpopulation but then goes to talk about poverty.

I was hoping it would go into detail about how many humans are on earth, how sustainable our population is, and what the forecast looks like for the next few generations. Finite resources, global warming, areas where population is most concentrated, etc. would all beer good stuff.
An estimate I saw:

Carrying capcity is 10 billion people. Population peaks at 9 billion in 2050 and then begins to decline.
 

Zaptruder

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Jun 7, 2004
27,818
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Technological progress isn't linear, but it's also not predictable either. It could be 5 years until we hit the next big milestone in massproducing consumable eateries. Maybe 10 years. Maybe 20.

The emergence of new forms of technology is highly contingent on previous forms of technologies, understandings and techniques.

The written language is something that robustly arises out of... agriculture, because agriculture allows us to develop wealth and ownership, which in turn creates a need for record keeping (so you know what belongs to who).

You don't get modern computing without electricity, and you don't get smartphones without modern computing. You're much more likely to get VR with the advent of smartphones.

Also, a great deal of technological progress, been that it's contingent, is highly predictable within a reasonable margin of error.

Obviously, the further out it gets, the greater the margin of error.

But it's really particularly foolish to not plan for a future accounting for relatively predictable technological progress, when we know with great certainty that given sufficient time, things are much more likely to change in significant and disruptive ways then not.
 

Razorback

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Dec 5, 2008
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What are you even talking about?


So it would seem. And it also seems people who don't know what the word "biocapacity" means will start threads based on shitty clickbait listicles that hand-wave away the consensus of the world's scientific community. Such is life.
For now.

You call the science journal Nature a clickbait listicle site yet you link to: 50 doomiest images of 2014
 

A Fish Aficionado

I am going to make it through this year if it kills me
Feb 6, 2014
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With easier genetic engineering, the development of crispr/cas9, the recent FDA approval of transgenic salmon, we actually do posses the tools to feed ourselves without much damage to wild stock. We just need to get over our privilege. There's already many stores that vow not to sell transgenic salmon, which is absurd. A common criticism of farmed fish is that we would have to manipulate feed or use dyes to mimic the same aesthetic qualities of wild fish, which is like "duh", we've been manipulating feed since the advent of domestication.

Malthusian theorists are parallel to the Luddites.

Anti-Environmental Opposition to GMO Salmon
 

Plinko

Wildcard berths that can't beat teams without a winning record should have homefield advantage
Jul 31, 2007
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My favorite part of these threads on GAF is when people come in with the, "This doesn't fit with my personal beliefs so what do these professional scientists and researchers know?"

It's hilarious because it is the exact same thing anti-vaxxers and homeopaths do, just in the other direction.
 
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