Friday, January 18, 2008

The King of Spades, Part I, Population Dynamics

Population Dynamics

Many people believe that our human population will be reduced by the scarcity of oil and other resources that our society has come to depend on. That this reduction will actually correspond much like it had exploded when the rate of resources consumed, soared. Put another way, as our resources deplete, so will the population in comparison to it. Or yet another way, our population will decline at the same rate of depletion. Many contend that following the population trend that has increased in the last 100 years will decrease in much the same matter and time, in the next 100 years. Much like those "bell graphs" or "Hubbert's curve", everyone is used to seeing on sites such as LATOC, Die-off, The Oil Drum, etc.. Most show how the human population has followed the rate at which oil has been consumed and now many contend we're at the peak or around there somewhere.

It would be an assumption on our part to project anything in the future. We're simply not there yet! Facts can be only found in the past. It would be a pretense on our part to project that the population dynamics would follow a similiar pattern on the back side of the curve as opposed to the front side. Perhaps, we're on some kind of plateau as of now, and our energy demand is barely being met to support the present population. Once demand surpasses energy production, would it be reasonable to start to see decline in population? No. The momentum of the population expansion will "carry over" or "overshoot", the actual resource base that can sustain it. Overshoot occurs when a population exceeds the long term carrying capacity of its environment. The consequence of overshoot is called a "crash" or die-off". There are some who contend that overshoot, likely started in the late 1970's and some estimates are suggesting that we're over 25% past carrying capacity now. To my knowledge, world population continues to grow, however at a slower rate than the recent past.

My point here, is that no one knows for sure how our population will descend, but a some point it will, once resources cannot support the existing population in this environment. Since no one can accurately predict how consumption of energy and other resources will play out in the future, it's impossible to predict how populations around the world will react, with any certainly.


FARfetched said...

The thing I've always wondered about is why more prosperous nations (US, Europe, Japan), with food surpluses, have population declines. I seriously doubt that it's out of a sense of moral obligation.

yooper said...

I'm going to take a stab at answering this question in a latter post, Far. I suspect, if not for immigration, many nation's would be stagnate. Kentar, Sharon and I did discuss our thoughts about this on BNB.

FARfetched said...

Yeah. I have my own theory, but wanted to hear yours too.

Some of the things "they" are doing to remedy the situation are interesting and sometimes amusing. Daughter Dearest was joking about marrying a guy she talks to in Norway, so she could make babies and basically draw her salary on maternity leave. :-) In Denmark, the cable companies are required to carry free porn channels, in hopes of stimulating the birth rate.

auntiegrav said...

Net Creativity.
A species survives or goes extinct based upon its contribution to the universe's future usefulness over and above what that species consumes in resources.
This is useful in predicting what will happen, especially when combined with fractal application of demographics to determine the dependence upon local conditions. Areas that have strong local networks, local food supplies, low consumption will survive at least longer than those with high rates of consumption and low resources. Qualitatively speaking, anyway, because I don't have time to do the math.

yooper said...

Ok auntiegrav, Net Creativity. I don't understand what you meant by,"a species surivives or goes extinct based upon it's contribution to the universe's future usefullness over and above what that species consumes in resources". I'm not fimilar with that concept. Could you give me an example?

I do understand the concept you put forth after that and agree 100%. As I wrote over on one of your posts, I'm going to learn from you.
I have a sneaky suspicion, I'm about to learn new concepts from you.

Thanks so much, yooper