Friday, January 23, 2009

50 years of Catabolic Collapse

50 years of Catabolic Collapse:Detroit, Michigan... There we have it, the historical population on a graph I made, the figures I found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit towards the bottom of the page. Gee, it appears that I was wrong in assuming that Detroit's decline started around the time of the 1967 riots. Actually as the graph suggests this happened around 1950 as this is when the population peaked and started it's decline. Detroit has lost nearly half of it's population within 50 years. A very troubling aspect about this graph is it appears much like Hubbert's oil production curve or another similar graph shown here http://www.dieoff.org/page125.htm . It appears that Detroit has already completed close to 3/4 of these bell shape curves. Now imagine if you will, if we took a magnifying glass and closely inspected the downward part of the line showing 50 years decline, and see the catabolic cycles of descent in it, all over it, from the peak to where we are now. That the line is not straight down but has a series of "bumps" all the way through it.

Now believe me when I tell you this as I was in Detroit often (throughout my near 50 years) and experienced the ups and downs of this process, first hand. I lived through some good times and some bad times , there. As suggested in the graph above, times just didn't get bad, stay at that point for awhile and then get worse (suggesting a staircase effect). No, there were bad times of decline that were followed by the good times of incline that lead to times of even further decline (suggesting somekind of saw tooth or triangular effect), downwards.
Back to the population graph, it's suggesting that the population almost doubled every decade (very roughly) between 1900 (286,000) to 1910 (466,000) to 1920 (994,000) and then again from 1920 to 1950 (1,850,000). That the decline in population (again very roughly) has lost 200,000 per decade from 1950 to 1990, then tapered to be at 917,000 as of 2007, to closely resemble what the population had been back in 1920. At least, the population slowed it's descent by only loosing roughly 50,000 per decade between 1990 and now. Could this slowing down indicate a possible rebound in the near future? I don't know, perhaps, doubtful though as it would be suggesting a break from a 50 year downward trend, that's a lot of time.
Could this graph be seen as some kind of bubble? That the population inflated to 1950 and will deflate to the levels of say, late 1800's or early 1900's? My friend Nudge, suggests this is a lot like taking a breath and then exhaling it... Could this likely happen in the next 50 years?
At this point, I can't think of a better example than Detroit, of what decline might look like for those suggesting that we'll likely loose 50% of our population in this country, 50 years from now... Can you?

10 comments:

FARfetched said...

Fascinating. Does the "metro area" include the burbs? If you traced the total population of the counties containing Detroit *and* the burbs, what would the line look like? I suspect that it would be flatter, but could well follow the same bell shape. I'd bet on a downtick in the last few years, anyway.

From 1900 to 1980, the population of the county I live in now fell from 10,000-ish to just under 4,000. Since then, it has come back up to 10,000 or more. I suspect that the curve has flattened out in the last few years, and could well be poised to head back down again as it become less economical live live this far away from Atlanta.

As for Atlanta itself, I suspect it will muddle along. The city grew around rail, as did Chicago, and its fortunes will likely be tied to rail once again. The suburban sprawl will contract, as it proves unsuited for a fuel-constrained future.

Before the car, was Detroit not a freight center as well, a choke point between Huron & Erie where ship & rail could easily interact? Perhaps that will be its future as well…

yooper said...

Hey Far, just the city limits, not to include the suburbs, yup, it would be much flatter.

I think the Metro Detroit suburban sprawl will contract too, lets hope there's enough in between time for Detroit to rebuild for in order that to happen! As of now, there's no place left to go...

Oh you bet, the railway has and will continue to be a large part of commerce there and shipping to it will very likely play a much larger role in the future, it'll have to. Today, it's mostly trucking and airlines.... I helped make a lot of loading docks/parking lots near Metro Airport... If they're smart they'll start building alot more docks on the river!

Hope people aren't too disturbed by the links I've posted on this story....

Thanks, yooper

Nudge said...

Yooper, please keep up the good work here, disturbing links & all.

I'm sorry I have no numbers for it, but from what I know the population of the town where I live is at or near its highest ever, albeit in its new role as a bedroom community for people commuting to jobs elsewhere. Strangely enough, the town had a much lower population, and many more productive farms and businesses, back when it was an old mill town running on water power and growing food to ship into Boston.

Glad to hear that the places where you and FAR live both had prosperity in the old style, before automobiles & asphalt roads became the new economic religion-du-jour.

yooper said...

Good Morning, Nudge! Well, I'll be wrapping this series up soon and it's been a lot of fun for me. It's something that I've wanted to bring across for some time now.

It would be interesting to visualize the pattern of other industrial cities like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, etc..

The population in the town nearby, for that matter the entire U.P., has virtually went unchanged for over 100 years, flat lined... The instructors had the notion that the land can only support X amount of people...

The furance at the old school house was coal driven and then later converted to oil. No one even thought about eating the snow anywhere near it...

I'll just bet, that many places will "revert" back to somewhat like they once were, they'll have to, especially if we want to carry as much of the "precious cargo" of humanity, to it...

greenstatistician said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
greenstatistician said...

Peak population in 1950 - that's long time ago.

This morning I read about the decline of Detroit in the newspaper:
http://www.e24.se/branscher/verkstadsindustri
/artikel_1026505.e24

The headline is something like "city of cars fading away".

(Not so much time for internet with a newborn.)

yooper said...

Hey greenstatistician! ha! Hope the little guy is doing well! ha! This is for you, that I think you'll find most interesting

http://www.ascentofhumanity.com/text.php

heavily influenced by Spengler, I've just got today...

Yup, a lot of talk about the decline of Detroit here too. And it just gets worse, as I believe most major industrial cities here in the U.S., such as Cleveland, Pittsburg, etc., display much the same population dynamics.

Another trend I noticed was between 1970 and 1980, almost every major industrial city's rate of loss was the greatest. New York city (I'm going to suggest non- industrial) loosing 800,000 of it population. This recession, I can very well remember, ranks as the worst in my lifetime. I along with others helped Houston's (energy capitol of the country) population swell until cheap oil again flooded the market, causing that rate to drop, suddenly.

So we're talking about major population shifts in the country during that period. Where will the population shift to, this time? That really has me worried....

Thanks for coming by and we'll catch ya here or there!

Thanks, yooper

Nudge said...

Yooper, the population might not shift to someplace else so much as it might evaporate (or purge) in place. Err, let's say that as “in situ”, all academic-like, to take the rough edge of the meaning off it. With what resources are people going to flee to elsewhere? Most of those not-so-well-off Detroiters features on that Detroit blog don't have vehicles, don't have much money, and haven't got the means to flee to anywhere. Where are they going to go to anyow?

From here out, all options get worse, unless you're a mortician perhaps. Them who have money now will have less later. Can we think of an even worse time to be a homeless refugee than in the coming future?

I know people here who talk about bugging out to the northland, but, seriously, the last thing you want to do during crisis times is be yet another Masshole refugee showing up in a little town north & west of here where people are heavily armed and not in the mood to take in sorry-assed refugees from closer to Boston. If you're very very lucky, they won't shoot you on sight and confiscate your stuff .. they might hand you a pitchfork and tell you to muck out all the stalls in town, and tell you it's OK to sleep in that barn at the end of the street. It's preferable to starving.

Yooper, the question of where Detroit's population went to is a very interesting matter. If you find anything, could you please post it here?

greenstatistician said...

Thanks for the like Yooper, I'll check it later.

We've lived in this municipality for eight years so I don't know it that good but it seems like the municipality have had it's share of decline in the western (Fredriksberg) and southern (Grängesberg) parts. (It used to be lots of mines and mining industries.) Look at the pictures!

http://rostsverige.blogs.se/tags/
projekt-folkhem---grangesberg/

http://rostsverige.blogs.se/tags/
projekt-folkhem---fredriksberg/

yooper said...

Hey Nudge! I hope the economy does get better for everyone. I just hope, that in doing so, doesn't extend out so far (taking that what would have been a more gradual descent)and actually making decline, further, faster, harder (and more straight down)...... I'm quite certain of this effect...

You're quite right about those moving into areas that might not be welcomed. There are places like that here and in Ontario, that I know of. I have mixed feelings about this, as this has driven up property prices here, however this isn't expected to last much longer... Some of these people do bring resource with them and leave it here when they find out they can't make it here and leave.... This land isn't for everybody and a lot find that out the hard way...

Most of the exodus from Detroit has went to the surrounding suburbs, some in other parts of the state, some moving to other atates and some expire there.

The only problem here is when people suggest that suburban areas are next to be vacated, where are they to go? As it is now, there are not many places in the city of Detroit to move back to, gone. To simply suggest that they'll just move back to the cities, isn't being very realistic at all, at this present time...

We've gone from problem to predicament, years ago... to simply suggest, "Well, everybody has got to die anyway", while true, hides the fact that if we are to decline in such a matter, every third person that walks by your life will likely be counted as an "excess death". Look at "excess death" chart here
http://www.paulchefurka.ca/Population.html

if you have not already done so. As ugly as it is. From 2017 to 2042, a 25 year span excess deaths are expected to reach 150 million per year. To be put this into perspective, it would be like the entire population of this county expiring ever other year for 25 years or every year for 12 years straight... To think that this country could evade it's fair share of this, isn't being realistic, at all. As you read John's "Adam's Story" a scenario 50 years out you'll see how this could happen. I'll post that in a couple days.


greenstatistician, wow, eh? I'll just bet, Detroit's Bob Lo Island looked just like that park when it was abandoned!

here's one for ya early, I'll be posting it again tomorrow.

http://www.kiddofspeed.com/