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Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 05:56 AM
... but we are running out of all the resources that make the stuff all these people want to buy....

...on credit.:rolleyes:

Oil, water, stable climate, soil, time, money...

We are the global, 21st Century Easter Islanders.

The Bigfella
11-19-2009, 06:01 AM
Bloody pessimists.

Get a grip Dunc. There's money to be made.

Get out there and control the resources

I have this vision of you building a uranium resources empire and saving the world from carbon emissions.

The Bigfella
11-19-2009, 06:02 AM
Sort of like the Byron Bay Clive Palmer

Paul Pless
11-19-2009, 06:10 AM
Oil, water, stable climate, soil, time, money...

Helium;)

My theory is that its not gonna be something big like running out of oil or some super virus or climat echange or nuclear holocost that ends civilazation as we know it... its gonna be something like running out of helium.:p

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 06:11 AM
Losta trees mate! I'm planting thousands of 'em! Should try and grow some wheat on the block too!

The Bigfella
11-19-2009, 06:16 AM
What, that green headed wheat?

http://prospect.rsc.org/blogs/cw/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/marijuana-leaf.jpg

shamus
11-19-2009, 06:38 AM
I guess you just watched "Addicted to Money"?

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 06:43 AM
I thought that was your speciality down there in Dooral skinning up Dooral doobies.

Seriously, peak oil is here, soils are being depleted by industrial agriculture, most of the major rivers in the World are laden with toxic waste, much of the World's arable land is either being turned into urban development or experiencing longer and longer droughts. Even putting aside the possibility of catastrophic climate change we still have to radically modify our consumer economy/behaviour into a sustainable economy/behaviour. The notion of endless economic growth is a cancer that will cut us off at our economic knees. We will run out of resources, or they will become completely unaffordable.

To believe that we don't know these things and NOT to do something about them in very short order is beyond hubris.

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 06:47 AM
I guess you just watched "Addicted to Money"?

Yes. (http://abc.net.au/tv/geo/documentaries/interactive/addictedtomoney)

I particularly liked to analogy of cheap and easy credit (now gone) to cheap and easy energy (oil; about to go).

The Bigfella
11-19-2009, 06:49 AM
It was on in the other room. I refused to watch it. I was an Erlich fan in the 70's, back when I was studying environmental economics, but he's a bit of a richard cranium.

Dunc... it ain't that bad mate.

PeterSibley
11-19-2009, 06:53 AM
I guess you just watched "Addicted to Money"?

I turned it off , pretty over the top but he did make one very good point about us eating oil. I was driving around the other day looking at the verdant green crops ...lots of fertiliser ,lots and lots .Nothing would be growing ,on the scale we require ,without it .We have forgotten how to do it ,if most of us ever knew .

Then there is the transport component, it gets complicated .

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 06:57 AM
It was on in the other room. I refused to watch it. I was an Erlich fan in the 70's, back when I was studying environmental economics, but he's a bit of a richard cranium.

Ya think? All the science and economic shifts seems to be bearing his theories out.


Dunc... it ain't that bad mate.

It ain't that good either. ;)

The Bigfella
11-19-2009, 07:01 AM
Ya think? All the science and economic shifts seems to be bearing his theories out.



By all means, elaborate.

I say bunkum.

paladin
11-19-2009, 07:03 AM
Very simple, grow corn, then every three years let it grow wild, allow deer and cattle to wander the fields eating or nibbling at the "wild" corn, droppings all over, then in the fall flow it all under and cultivate it in the spring...plant again in the fall. The earth renews itself with the natural fertilizer....

PeterSibley
11-19-2009, 07:03 AM
It was on in the other room. I refused to watch it. I was an Erlich fan in the 70's, back when I was studying environmental economics, but he's a bit of a richard cranium.

Dunc... it ain't that bad mate.

It certainly isn't here Ian , but a wander around India is a bit daunting .... the place has an (Ehrlich style ) population doubling time of around 30 years ,same as Oz , the difference there is you can really SEE the effect .Wall to wall humanity ,farmers working little plots up in the hills , maybe 6m x6m , then another plot like than 100m away , little pockets of tillage to use the last bits of land .Inconceivable for us .

This not a projection for us even though we have the same rate of increase but it does bring out your inner Malthusian .

India's population is sooooomewhere around 1000 to 1200 million and moving right along .

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 07:32 AM
By all means, elaborate.

I say bunkum.

His specific predictions certainly were bunkum, but the general thrust of his argument is on track.

This Wiki article on malnutrition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malnutrition) is very interesting and points out some of the complexity of the scenarios we're faced with globally.

Solutions aren't all about restricting singular causes and their impacts (like over-population by itself) but a mix of the technocratic and behavioural. Over-population (a behavioural problem), as Peter points out, isn't a general problem but is place specific and will have knock on effects in a globalised and highly connected economy.

WX
11-19-2009, 07:38 AM
I see they are breaking November temp records down South.

Tylerdurden
11-19-2009, 07:58 AM
Ian is promoting this guy as the answer to the world food shortages.

http://sunson2005.narod.ru/index-living-on-sunlight-sungazing.html

LeeG
11-19-2009, 07:59 AM
It was on in the other room. I refused to watch it. I was an Erlich fan in the 70's, back when I was studying environmental economics, but he's a bit of a richard cranium.

Dunc... it ain't that bad mate.

The problem with these conversations is that "it" is usually left undefined. I don't think our individual lives will experience a catastrophic collapse of the civilizations we live in but the limits to material consumption will pop up over a couple generations with inevitable consequences.

The jokes will get better.

Bruce Hooke
11-19-2009, 08:07 AM
This book:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CIJXY0s%2BL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg

is pretty interesting and disturbing. It lays out pretty good evidence that what has brought down just about every major civilization the earth has known is in one way or another destroying the topsoil in the area and thus the ability to produce adequate food. The one exception is the relatively rare and localized places like the Nile delta where annual floods replenish the soil, or did until they built the Aswan High Dam. What is scary is that what used to be a relatively local issue -- while one region was exhausting their soil (say the Roman empire) other regions were relatively lightly populated and were not exhausting their soil -- is now a global problem. From the American midwest to the hillsides of Southeast Asia we are using up our topsoil faster than it is being made.

LeeG
11-19-2009, 08:14 AM
Bruce, ten years ago or so Scientific American had an article on the the top soil in parts of Lebanon(IIRC) showing increasingly shallower layers of topsoil as multiple societies built atop the ruins of another. I think the theme was the cedars of Lebanon.

BarnacleGrim
11-19-2009, 08:15 AM
Very simple, grow corn, then every three years let it grow wild, allow deer and cattle to wander the fields eating or nibbling at the "wild" corn, droppings all over, then in the fall flow it all under and cultivate it in the spring...plant again in the fall. The earth renews itself with the natural fertilizer....
I don't think there are enough animals in the world. You'd need crap of human proportions for that :eek:

Manufactured fertilizers and genetic engineering is needed if we are going to keep everyone on the planet reasonably well nourished.

Population control is still a taboo among the environmentalists, but the best carbon offsets come in the form of education, secularization and a few packs of rubbers.

P.I. Stazzer-Newt
11-19-2009, 09:36 AM
.... soils are being depleted by industrial agriculture, most of the major rivers in the World are laden with toxic waste, much of the World's arable land is either being turned into urban development or experiencing longer and longer droughts......

To believe that we don't know these things and NOT to do something about them in very short order is beyond hubris.

None of that applies here - none of it.

On this small crowded island -

77% of the England and Wales is given over to either agriculture of forestry.

There's agricultural land going begging.

Water quality in the rivers is - slowly but steadily - improving, to the point where people now fish the Kelvin for Sea Trout and Salmon and there have been salmon reported in the Thames.

Droughts? (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2009/11/19/wales-braced-for-more-winds-floods-and-possibly-a-tornado-91466-25202740/)

Now what have ewe buggars done to your island?

Keith Wilson
11-19-2009, 09:53 AM
Buncha soggy pessimists. "We're running out of . . ." predictions of doom have been a staple of human society since Homo habilus started to grunt at each other around the campfires in the evenings - and somehow we've managed to not only survive, but prosper. Fertility rates have been falling very dramatically in most of the world, BTW, and the human population looks set to stabilize and start actually declining all on its own.

Time for the Doomslayer. (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html)

You can fish in Lake Erie.

SamSam
11-19-2009, 10:13 AM
The earth renews itself with the natural fertilizer....
This is great. I can claim BULL****! and not be too offensive. ;)

LeeG
11-19-2009, 10:21 AM
Buncha soggy pessimists. "We're running out of . . ." predictions of doom have been a staple of human society since Homo habilus started to grunt at each other around the campfires in the evenings - and somehow we've managed to not only survive, but prosper. Fertility rates have been falling very dramatically in most of the world, BTW, and the human population looks set to stabilize and start actually declining all on its own.

Time for the Doomslayer. (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html)

You can fish in Lake Erie.

yeah, and economists say oil is infinite, you just need an infinite supply of money to get it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Lincoln_Simon

SamSam
11-19-2009, 10:37 AM
Buncha soggy pessimists. "We're running out of . . ." predictions of doom have been a staple of human society since Homo habilus started to grunt at each other around the campfires in the evenings - and somehow we've managed to not only survive, but prosper. Fertility rates have been falling very dramatically in most of the world, BTW, and the human population looks set to stabilize and start actually declining all on its own.

Time for the Doomslayer. (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.02/ffsimon_pr.html)

You can fish in Lake Erie.
And in waters that supported villages in China with all their needs 20 years ago, you can't wash clothes in now. Global applies to economies and ecologies.

Predictions may have always existed but not the conditions. These conditions are new, and combined with shifting climates and the depletion of oil, which contributed mightily to create this population curve, the doomsday decline seems like it could very well be huge and very fast. You might be right about "all on it's own", if mass starvation and death due to war is included.

http://www.theoildrum.com/uploads/12/LongTermPopulation.gif

ishmael
11-19-2009, 11:10 AM
"Buncha soggy pessimists. "We're running out of . . ." predictions of doom have been a staple of human society since Homo habilus started to grunt at each other around the campfires in the evenings"

I assume this wasn't meant tongue in cheek.

Keith is right. To worry the future is our heritage. It's understandable in anthropological terms. Will the hunt go well, what if the missus has a bad crop? We've got millennia in the memory bank of worry.

Are there problems, sure. Always have been, I don't see why now should be different. We'll do our best to meet them, and one day go to the stars.

LeeG
11-19-2009, 11:17 AM
Predictions may have always existed but not the conditions.

http://www.theoildrum.com/uploads/12/LongTermPopulation.gif

This is such an obvious point you'd think people would get it.

peb
11-19-2009, 11:26 AM
I thought that was your speciality down there in Dooral skinning up Dooral doobies.

Seriously, peak oil is here, soils are being depleted by industrial agriculture, most of the major rivers in the World are laden with toxic waste, much of the World's arable land is either being turned into urban development or experiencing longer and longer droughts. Even putting aside the possibility of catastrophic climate change we still have to radically modify our consumer economy/behaviour into a sustainable economy/behaviour. The notion of endless economic growth is a cancer that will cut us off at our economic knees. We will run out of resources, or they will become completely unaffordable.

To believe that we don't know these things and NOT to do something about them in very short order is beyond hubris.

Always have to laugh when I hear people complaining about industrial or corporate agriculture destroying soils and the like. Someone who writes this has not spent much time on a midwestern farm in the US in a long time. Obvious sign of not knowing what you are talking about.

Keith Wilson
11-19-2009, 11:54 AM
OK SamSam, here's another chart, with a cute baby, no less. :D

http://media.economist.com/images/20091031/CFB000.gif

Seriously, here's the Economist article on global fertility and population. (http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14743589) Yes, we have lots of problems, but not it's not as bad as you think.

Kaa
11-19-2009, 12:09 PM
Duncan is a rather excitable bloke :-)

I think he'd be better off worrying about bikinis or lack thereof :D

Kaa

The Bigfella
11-19-2009, 03:39 PM
This book:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CIJXY0s%2BL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_.jpg

is pretty interesting and disturbing. It lays out pretty good evidence that what has brought down just about every major civilization the earth has known is in one way or another destroying the topsoil in the area and thus the ability to produce adequate food. The one exception is the relatively rare and localized places like the Nile delta where annual floods replenish the soil, or did until they built the Aswan High Dam. What is scary is that what used to be a relatively local issue -- while one region was exhausting their soil (say the Roman empire) other regions were relatively lightly populated and were not exhausting their soil -- is now a global problem. From the American midwest to the hillsides of Southeast Asia we are using up our topsoil faster than it is being made.

Funny you should mention that Bruce..... I've just done some work on exactly that subject. As part of that work, I read a book called "The Soil Doctors"... which outlined the history of soil conservation science and its application over here. I also prepared a paper on the wrongs committed in the area... and the current status of dealing with those wrongs. Let's just say it ain't all bad. We had massive erosion problems here in the 1940's.... a direct result of poor soil management, but that's mostly fixed now.

Incidentally.... the cover of my report has these photos on it... both taken from my front verandah, within 24 hours of each other...

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff112/igatenby/iansecond/orange3.jpg

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff112/igatenby/iansecond/blue.jpg

PeterSibley
11-19-2009, 04:03 PM
None of that applies here - none of it.

On this small crowded island -

77% of the England and Wales is given over to either agriculture of forestry.

There's agricultural land going begging.

Water quality in the rivers is - slowly but steadily - improving, to the point where people now fish the Kelvin for Sea Trout and Salmon and there have been salmon reported in the Thames.

Droughts? (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2009/11/19/wales-braced-for-more-winds-floods-and-possibly-a-tornado-91466-25202740/)

Now what have ewe buggars done to your island?
The problem with we buggars is that we were Englishmen (largely ) and farmed like such .It didn't work ,despite vaste efforts to turn Oz into Britain it remains Oz ...a dry land with very old soils .I think we can confidently predict that Australia will join that proud list of counties were dry land farming has totally ruined the place ,the likes of Iraq and Algeria .

In little over 200 years of European settlement, more than 70 percent of Australian agricultural
land has become seriously degraded. Despite efforts to implement ' best practice' soil
in
conservation, the situation continues to deteriorate.
On average, 7 tonnes of topsoil is lost for every tonne of grain produced. This situation has
worsened in recent years due to an increased incidence of erosion on unprotected topsoils,
coupled with declining yields.
The most meaningful indicator for the health of the land, and the long-term wealth of a nation, is
whether soil is being formed or lost. If soil is being lost, so too is the economic and ecological
foundation on which production and conservation are based.
In addition to the loss of soil itself, there has been a reduction of between 50% and 80% in the
organic carbon content of surface soils in Australia since European settlement (2, 3, 4, 11, 12).
Losses of carbon of this magnitude have immeasurable economic and environmental
implications. Soil carbon is the prime determinant of agricultural productivity, landscape function
and water quality.
Further, the carbon and water cycles are inextricably linked. Humus holds approximately four
times its own weight in water (8). The most beneficial adaptation strategy for climate change
would therefore be one that focuses on increasing the levels of both carbon and water in soils.
http://www.amazingcarbon.com/

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 04:05 PM
Always have to laugh when I hear people complaining about industrial or corporate agriculture destroying soils and the like. Someone who writes this has not spent much time on a midwestern farm in the US in a long time. Obvious sign of not knowing what you are talking about.

No, but I do remember staring in utter disbelief at the Des Moines River in the Spring of '87 looking at hundreds and millions of fish kill due to toxic concentrations of agricultural fertiliser, so yes, 22 years is a long time: Maybe you have World's best practice now? Don't discount that industrial agriculture elsewhere is as anywhere near good as it may be in the US Midwest. Don't tell me that the three dust storms that we experienced here were not trillions of tonnes of topsoil being stripped from vast areas of grazing land inland. (Canberra has dust haze again today). Don't tell me that industrial agriculture cannot survive in the Amazon basin without chemicals and fertilisers on the thin soils of cleared rainforest. Don't tell me that we aren't reaching peak-superphosphate pretty much at the same time as we're reaching peak oil. Don't tell me that on many of the World's soils, application of fertiliser and other agricultural chemicals is actually depleting soil fertility rather than increasing it much like a junkie who needs another larger hit to get the same effect. Don't tell me ALL of the agronomists and soil scientists who I've sat in conferences and listened to are just wrong. Don't tell me I don't know what I'm taking about based on your own narrow - but positive - experience.

PeterSibley
11-19-2009, 04:14 PM
I don't share Ian's optimism on this , I've actually worked for farmers and there are still some amazingly stupid practises and denial of the likes of soil erosion .

PeterSibley
11-19-2009, 04:20 PM
Always have to laugh when I hear people complaining about industrial or corporate agriculture destroying soils and the like. Someone who writes this has not spent much time on a midwestern farm in the US in a long time. Obvious sign of not knowing what you are talking about.

Peb ,I'd say that anyone who writes what you write hasn't spent much time OUTSIDE the US midwest .

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 04:21 PM
Seriously, here's the Economist article on global fertility and population. (http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14743589) Yes, we have lots of problems, but not it's not as bad as you think.

That's an interesting article Keith, but even by it's own supporting data we are still projected to have an extra 2 billion people on the planet within 40 years: That's an increase of 22%. That's 2 billion more people who will want all the same stuff we want; who will want to consume a similar amount of energy and who will produce the same amounts of waste per capita. And where will these people live? Considering Worldwide demographic shifts to cities, more than likely they will want to be in urban centres, which in turn will gobble up more of the most arable land there is. Damage will still be wrought until, by this article's theory, total population will start to decline. But I note that the article has NO projections as to how quick or slow this decline will be. I doubt that it will decline as quickly as it grew in the first place, barring the most diabolical Mathusian scenarios.

TimH
11-19-2009, 04:38 PM
Population explosions are a part of the natural flow. And nature has ways to deal with it.

The Bigfella
11-19-2009, 04:40 PM
...snip...Don't tell me that the three dust storms that we experienced here were not trillions of tonnes of topsoil being stripped from vast areas of grazing land inland. (Canberra has dust haze again today). snip/....

Don't tell me I don't know what I'm taking about based on your own narrow - but positive - experience.

Sorry Dunc, and let me say, I know that wasn't aimed at me.... but, you don't know what you are talking about (said in the nicest possible way).

Trillions....:confused:

For the big one, I did some quick calcs.... and came out at, IIRC, either 12 or 16 million tons. That was based on the maximum recorded particulate density, by the volume of the dust cloud (length x breadth x height). I think I was on the no-access list here at the time, but did do a post on it somewhere.

Whilst some of it went to NZ or the Pacific... some of it was dropped here too, don't forget.

Trillions, nah.... Billions, nah..... Hundreds of millions, nah.... millions, yep.

Paul Pless
11-19-2009, 04:42 PM
That's an interesting article Keith, but even by it's own supporting data we are still projected to have an extra 2 billion people on the planet within 40 years: That's an increase of 22%. That's 2 billion more people who will want all the same stuff we want; who will want to consume a similar amount of energy and who will produce the same amounts of waste per capita. And where will these people live? Considering Worldwide demographic shifts to cities, more than likely they will want to be in urban centres, which in turn will gobble up more of the most arable land there is. Damage will still be wrought until, by this article's theory, total population will start to decline. But I note that the article has NO projections as to how quick or slow this decline will be. I doubt that it will decline as quickly as it grew in the first place, barring the most diabolical Mathusian scenarios.there is a solution...

http://www.technovelgy.com/graphics/content08/soylent-green.jpg

WX
11-19-2009, 05:18 PM
Manufactured fertilizers and genetic engineering is needed if we are going to keep everyone on the planet reasonably well nourished.

I disagree. We Humans produce millions of tons of fertilizer every day and what do we do with it? We use precious drinking water to flush it all into the sea! Two vast acts of stupidity with zero positive return.
I have created some exceptionally good top soil using Human waste composted in a compost toilet.
Human waste is also a very negative expression...Human by-products would be more accurate.

SamSam
11-19-2009, 05:28 PM
OK SamSam, here's another chart, with a cute baby, no less. :D
...

Seriously, here's the Economist article on global fertility and population. (http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14743589) Yes, we have lots of problems, but not it's not as bad as you think.I haven't read the whole article but here is a quote plus a chart from it.

Populations can rise while fertility declines because of inertia, which matters a lot in demography. If, because of high fertility in earlier generations, there is a bulge of women of childbearing years, more children will be born, though each mother is having fewer children. There will be more, smaller families. Assuming fertility falls at current rates, says the UN, the world’s population will rise from 6.8 billion to 9.2 billion in 2050, at which point it will stabilise (see chart 1).http://media.economist.com/images/20091031/CFB987.gif

It's probably best if I don't comment too much on the phenomenon of half the population's fertility falling to below replacement rates and that I figure that's the intelligent half and that it would seem the future cannot help but be an age of imbeciles. Starving imbeciles.

Fortunately, I'm wrong a pretty good portion of the time. ;)

TimH
11-19-2009, 05:35 PM
In the words of Leroy Stagger - if its out of sight out of mind it dont affect you and me

from http://www.poopvictoria.ca/

The current practice stinks. The Victoria Capital Regional District pumps 120 million litres of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca every single day. The effluent flows through 6mm screens which removes large solids, but little of the sediment and none of the toxic cleaners, solvents, medicines, and other contaminants that go down our sinks and toilets.

This is harmful to the marine environment, embarrassing to the majority of local residents and presents a significant potential liability for tourism and other businesses in this city.

Nicholas Scheuer
11-19-2009, 05:42 PM
Those who know how to live in a tent, cooking what they can either shoot or dig up, in a wilderness near enough to a boarded-up Wal-mart which they can raid for clothing, will rule.

Imagine how much a banker with a family would pay in gold bullion for a decent meal around a warm fire.

It could happen. Medical servixes will be a b---h in such an environment.

Moby Nick

TimH
11-19-2009, 05:48 PM
Id like to find some books on edible plants and animals (and fish).
I wonder if there is a series by region.

When they do Survivorman shows in certain areas he consults local experts.

JimD
11-19-2009, 05:49 PM
...Get a grip Dunc...

Better the whole planet gets a grip. Then it wouldn't be in this mess. But we prefer to run in ever faster, tighter circles.

Keith Wilson
11-19-2009, 05:49 PM
. . . more than likely they will want to be in urban centres, which in turn will gobble up more of the most arable land there is.Yes, an additional 2 billion people will pose problems, particularly if they want to live like I do (and I can't really blame them). But land for cities is not the problem; the percentage of arable land lost to urbanization in most places is miniscule.

SamSam
11-19-2009, 05:50 PM
Always have to laugh when I hear people complaining about industrial or corporate agriculture destroying soils and the like. Someone who writes this has not spent much time on a midwestern farm in the US in a long time. Obvious sign of not knowing what you are talking about.
I'm not sure you know what you're talking about. You don't need soil at all to grow things if you supply all the right chemicals. If you're basing the fertility of midwestern soils on what the crops look like, they only look that good because of chemicals. Are you saying industrial or corporate, or even individual farming improves the soil every year?

JimD
11-19-2009, 05:52 PM
In the words of Leroy Stagger - if its out of sight out of mind it dont affect you and me

from http://www.poopvictoria.ca/

The current practice stinks. The Victoria Capital Regional District pumps 120 million litres of raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca every single day. The effluent flows through 6mm screens which removes large solids, but little of the sediment and none of the toxic cleaners, solvents, medicines, and other contaminants that go down our sinks and toilets.

This is harmful to the marine environment, embarrassing to the majority of local residents and presents a significant potential liability for tourism and other businesses in this city.

We couldn't afford both a sewage system for Victoria and the Winter Olympics. Canada is good at snow sports. We could even bag a medal or three. Must have priorities. Its so sad.

TimH
11-19-2009, 06:00 PM
We couldn't afford both a sewage system for Victoria and the Winter Olympics. Canada is good at snow sports. We could even bag a medal or three. Must have priorities. Its so sad.


No biggie. Its only 600,962 55 gallon drums per day.

WX
11-19-2009, 06:02 PM
Those who know how to live in a tent, cooking what they can either shoot or dig up,
You are assuming of course that very few people will be doing the same. It would not take long to strip an area of all things edible.

JimD
11-19-2009, 06:14 PM
No biggie. Its only 600,962 55 gallon drums per day.

An interesting site: RSTV - Responsible Sewage Treatment Victoria http://www.rstv.ca/

TimH
11-19-2009, 06:20 PM
I like our Canadian neighbors, but C'mon guys - WTF?

In a two-year period in the 1990s in which Victoria's sewage outfalls discharged 9,920 metric tons of oil and grease, 9 metric tons of copper, and 2.5 metric tons of cyanide into the strait. Lead, mercury and silver were also found in Victoria's sewage releases.

-link (http://www.seattlepi.com/connelly/190255_joel10.html)

Nicholas Carey
11-19-2009, 06:49 PM
Yes, an additional 2 billion people will pose problems, particularly if they want to live like I do (and I can't really blame them). But land for cities is not the problem; the percentage of arable land lost to urbanization in most places is miniscule.
But the problem is that, while cities take up relatively little land, the amount of good arable land is small. Guess where cities got built?

In the US, we've bulldozed a lot of the best farmland in the world to build...disposable suburban infrastructure.

johnw
11-19-2009, 07:35 PM
Population is supposed to stabilize around 9 billion people. So all we have to do is figure out a sustainable lifestyle for that many people.

JimD
11-19-2009, 07:53 PM
I like our Canadian neighbors, but C'mon guys - WTF?

In a two-year period in the 1990s in which Victoria's sewage outfalls discharged 9,920 metric tons of oil and grease, 9 metric tons of copper, and 2.5 metric tons of cyanide into the strait. Lead, mercury and silver were also found in Victoria's sewage releases.

-link (http://www.seattlepi.com/connelly/190255_joel10.html)

From about five months ago:


Victoria’s Capital Regional District has chosen a firm to guide the development of the region’s planned $1.2-billion sewage treatment system, reports VicNews.com.Stantec Consulting Ltd. took on four other bidders to become the program management consultant.
The job is to take the project through the design, procurement, construction and then post-construction (phases), said Dwayne Kalynchuk, the CRD’s manager of environmental services.
The contract is estimated to last eight years, and Stantec will see about one per cent of the project’s total costs. The work will be parsed into several phased contracts.
Haven't heard much about it since, though.

Brian Palmer
11-19-2009, 07:58 PM
Helium;)

My theory is that its not gonna be something big like running out of oil or some super virus or climat echange or nuclear holocost that ends civilazation as we know it... its gonna be something like running out of helium.:p

I'll put my money on helium, too. People don't realize that the stuff they are filling balloons with at ChuckeeCheese's is a non-renewable resource.:rolleyes:

Brian

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 10:31 PM
Yes, an additional 2 billion people will pose problems, particularly if they want to live like I do (and I can't really blame them). But land for cities is not the problem; the percentage of arable land lost to urbanization in most places is miniscule.

I was going to answer you Keith but Mr Carey beat me to it:

But the problem is that, while cities take up relatively little land, the amount of good arable land is small. Guess where cities got built?

In the US, we've bulldozed a lot of the best farmland in the world to build...disposable suburban infrastructure.

All I'll add is that with the high certainty that with peak oil the price of transport will increase and that food will have to be transported further due to the increased distances the good arable land is from major population centres.

Duncan Gibbs
11-19-2009, 10:51 PM
Sorry Dunc, and let me say, I know that wasn't aimed at me.... but, you don't know what you are talking about (said in the nicest possible way).

Trillions....:confused:

For the big one, I did some quick calcs.... and came out at, IIRC, either 12 or 16 million tons. That was based on the maximum recorded particulate density, by the volume of the dust cloud (length x breadth x height). I think I was on the no-access list here at the time, but did do a post on it somewhere.

Whilst some of it went to NZ or the Pacific... some of it was dropped here too, don't forget.

Trillions, nah.... Billions, nah..... Hundreds of millions, nah.... millions, yep.

I should have referred less to those three events and talk more about dust storms in general as there are many storms now occurring that we coastal dwellers don't know about because we don't get them.

From ABC Radio (http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2009/s2694148.htm)


Dr John Lees works for the New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation and is the southern coordinator for Dust Watch.

He says a number of dust storms have been raging in South Australia for several weeks and have now pushed out towards the east coast.

JOHN LEES: Dust came from there in several storms, there was one last week that went south down to Hobart, there was one yesterday that was reported going through Canberra, and there was one today which is through Sydney and all the northern part of New South Wales, and they're all coming out of basically the same area.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: He says every hour enough dust is blowing out to sea to fill 4,000 semi-trailers. Much of it has been ripped from the topsoil of farms in the west of the state.

Judith Hams lives on a farm about 100 kilometres from Broken Hill. She says it's had a huge impact.

JUDITH HAMS: We were really dry, we've only had about 70 mils for the year, and we were starting to feed stock, and we also sold a lot of our stock because of the drought, and most of the little bits of grass that were trying to grow and herbage that was trying to survive will be destroyed with the wind from last night, it was just a cutting wind that took everything with it.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Stephen Cattle is a senior lecturer of soil science at Sydney University. He says that's a real concern for agriculture.

STEPHEN CATTLE: The topsoil is often some of the better soil because lower down the soil becomes a bit more salty, a bit more sodium rich and not so hospitable for plant growth so by losing the top soil in particular where most of our organic matter resides, most of our organic carbon resides, it represents quite a loss to the productivity or the potential productivity of that soil.

TIMOTHY MCDONALD: Is this something that's made worse by the way the land is managed out there or is this merely just a product of being on a very dry continent?

STEPHEN CATTLE: A bit of both, it can be the former, over-grazing in particular can cause disruption of the top soil which leaves particles less aggregated and therefore much more easy for the wind to pick up and so it certainly if you are careful with your stocking rates and don't over-cultivate then that will certainly leave the soil better able to resist wind erosion but if you say over-graze or over-cultivate it then that can exacerbate these dust storms.

But, yeah, more generally speaking, I think we pretty much all understand that Australia is generally an arid continent and so from time to time when the rain doesn't fall and the wind howls then these dust storms are going to occur.

Considering a walk-in-floor has the capacity of 90m3 and each m3 of soil is roughly equal to 1 tonne that makes 360,000t per hour. Over 8 hours that equals 2,880,000t for a single event. Multiply that over the number of events now occurring out in Western NSW, not counting WA, Victoria or South Australia... And you should have the picture by now. Now add into that picture increasing salinity problems as vegetation has been stripped and flood irrigation increased and the picture is even more dire.

We cannot say that we don't have the information or that the Murray Darling catchment is not in meltdown.

To re-paraphrase Clinton, it's not about the economy, it's about limits of production stupid.

WX
11-19-2009, 11:36 PM
Now I know Ian has said it will be a long time before this is likely to happen but given the surprises we have had thus far, I'm not so sure.
This what the coast near me looks like now and could look like.

http://bambooman.gallery.netspace.net.au/albums/odd-sods/rising_water_171110.jpg

Duncan Gibbs
11-20-2009, 01:10 AM
Bring on global warming FAST is what I say: I want at least a twelve metre rise as then I'd live at the head of a fabulous bay ringed (http://flood.firetree.net/?ll=-28.3086,153.4584&z=6&m=12&t=1) with lush mountains. The most amazing cruising grounds.

Larks
11-20-2009, 02:05 AM
Now I know Ian has said it will be a long time before this is likely to happen but given the surprises we have had thus far, I'm not so sure.
This what the coast near me looks like now and could look like.

http://bambooman.gallery.netspace.net.au/albums/odd-sods/rising_water_171110.jpg

Don't worry Gary, perhaps the land mass will build up exponentially with those dust storms settling on us over here???:D :confused: I reckon we had a good 0.5mm on our roof after the last one.

tattooed john
11-20-2009, 05:31 AM
We had massive erosion problems here in the 1940's.... a direct result of poor soil management, but that's mostly fixed now.

I recall a figure of 15 tonnes of topsoil lost per 1 tonne of food produced.

Sounds fixed to me.

The Bigfella
11-20-2009, 05:46 AM
I was talking about gully erosion, in case you couldn't figure that out.

Dunc... what am I going to do with you, grasshopper? That big dust storm didn't last 8 hours. Want the full details eh? I'll get around to finding it.

PeterSibley
11-20-2009, 05:55 AM
Did you see my link Ian ? http://www.amazingcarbon.com/

The Bigfella
11-20-2009, 05:58 AM
Did you see my link Ian ? http://www.amazingcarbon.com/

Yeah, but it had too much of a tie-dye feeling to it :D

ishmael
11-20-2009, 06:04 AM
"Our parents had their hard times, fifty years ago
When they stood out in these empty fields
In dust as deep as snow.

Now our children live in the city
And they rest upon our shoulders
They never want the rain to fall
Or the weather to get colder.

But if we sell that new John Deere
We'll work these crops with sweat and tears
They'll never take our native soil."

----------------------------------------------------

Apologies for any errors to an unknown author.

PeterSibley
11-20-2009, 06:05 AM
Well the numbers on soil carbon are pretty right .It's the elephant in the room when it comes to balancing the sources of atmospheric carbon over the last 200 years .

I like muesli .... sometimes .

The Bigfella
11-20-2009, 06:06 AM
When it comes to reducing soil losses, the key issue is the retention of water on site and increasing the soil's water holding capacity. The slowing of water flows stems erosion, promotes vegetation growth and improves soil retention.

If you look back for a couple of hundred years here, the key soil issues have been:

.... riverside and wide scale clearing, which worsened flood impacts
.... the introduction of rabbits.. which have significantly reduced vegetation cover and increased soil losses
.... overstocking of grazing lands (mainly 120 or so years ago... massive stock losses and soil losses resulted)
..... inappropriate land use
.... cleaned out drainage lines which lead to faster water flows and more soil lost
.... water use mismanagement.

PeterSibley
11-20-2009, 06:10 AM
yep , to which i would add soil compaction in cultivated areas ....water runs off .
Lack of organic matter , it's crucial in holding moisture on site .No til is helping there .

The Bigfella
11-20-2009, 06:19 AM
Agreed.

tattooed john
11-20-2009, 07:11 AM
I was talking about gully erosion, in case you couldn't figure that out.

No sorry. That was not clear at all.

Duncan Gibbs
11-20-2009, 07:11 AM
Don't worry Gary, perhaps the land mass will build up exponentially with those dust storms settling on us over here???:D :confused: I reckon we had a good 0.5mm on our roof after the last one.

Greg, 0.5 of a mm may sound small but to get to a cubic metre/metric tonne from that you only need to cover 2000m2 which is less than the size of the centre square of and AFL field. Aggregated over large areas the quantities are vast. Considering that dust storms are but one form of soil loss we are dealing with then the quantities are even bigger. Indicators such as the fact we used to get ocean going sailing vessels as far inland as Byangum (35km) and now due to silting of the Tweed River, (road bridges aside) such a feat would be impossible now, should tell us how our intensive, monocultural agriculture practices have radically altered the soils and marine landscapes and not for the better.

Duncan Gibbs
11-20-2009, 07:16 AM
Dunc... what am I going to do with you, grasshopper?

I don't know old monk! :D


That big dust storm didn't last 8 hours. Want the full details eh? I'll get around to finding it.

Well it lasted that long up here and one would think that if it hit Sydney at sparrows' and was still going strong by the time the sun set here the figure of 8 hours is conservative. I'm sure you'll get around to something one of these days! :D:D:p

Duncan Gibbs
11-20-2009, 07:19 AM
I was talking about gully erosion, in case you couldn't figure that out.

Good old fashion sheet erosion (wind or water) can scour the landscape far more effectively than a mere gully. Add to this destruction of soils by stripping out organic matter by loading the profile with super, artificial fertilisers...

Be alert, but not alarmed! :rolleyes:;)

johnw
11-20-2009, 05:04 PM
yep , to which i would add soil compaction in cultivated areas ....water runs off .
Lack of organic matter , it's crucial in holding moisture on site .No til is helping there .
So...no-till farming? Seems to work, but it takes a lot of pesticides.

There is some talk of burying charcoal in the soil. Seems to help the soil and lock up some carbon. Worked for the Maya, I think it was.

PeterSibley
11-20-2009, 05:30 PM
Biochar , there was quite a good thread on that here some time ago .A search would find it ,there's also some information in the link I posted above .

No til shouldn't use any more pesticide ,but buckets of herbicide .It's pretty dependant on Roundup or its derivatives ....not really along term solution as a lot of weeds are developing resistance to it as a result of continuous use .

The Bigfella
11-20-2009, 06:30 PM
Gale-force winds that ripped through Sydney last week may have dumped a million tons of iron-rich topsoil from Australia’s outback into the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean.


http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601130&sid=aQQGTmuIDMwM

Knowing how this software loves tables, I'll see if I can get this info on here OK

NSW 800,642 sq km
Severe gully erosion 1,411
Moderate gully erosion 47,472
Sheet erosion 51,777
Wind erosion 12,056
Total 112,716

Severe gully erosion 0.2%
Moderate gully erosion 5.9%
Sheet erosion 6.5%
Wind erosion 1.5%
Total 14.1%

Duncan Gibbs
11-20-2009, 08:37 PM
Needless to say, it is beyond all doubt that many soils in Australia and around the World are pretty badly buggered up, being lost in wind, sheet and gully erosion, being depleted by overuse of super phosphate and other industrial chemicals and fertilisers. And this is just one factor when we have a global population explosion which is more than just causally linked to cheap energy in the form of oil.

Note in the graph Sam posted that since industrialisation (1800) that population has effectively increased eight-fold from below one billion to nearing seven billion:
http://www.theoildrum.com/uploads/12/LongTermPopulation.gif

In line with your Bloomberg article Ian, many strategic analysts I've read predict that most future wars will be over water. Israel already occupies the Golan for this very reason.

The Bigfella
11-20-2009, 09:07 PM
I'd change your strategic analysts Dunc.... Water is easy... take a look at all the wonderful desal plants we have just built. Whack a nice little nuke power plant beside it and away you go.

PeterSibley
11-20-2009, 09:15 PM
Drinking water is easy Ian ,it's a small percentage of the gross .Irrigation is the biggy ,along with industrial input .

WX
11-20-2009, 09:30 PM
Desal plants are expensive and have a limited life span...apparently.
Nuclear won't happen in this country, nobody is going to want it next door. The best thing we can do is stop wasting water. Run all sewerage lines inland and recycle the excrement into fertilizer and reuse the water.

PeterSibley
11-20-2009, 09:40 PM
It's not just that no one wants a nuclear plant ,no one will pay to build one either .Most of the alternatives are cheaper and faster to build , not to mention decommission .

johnw
11-20-2009, 09:49 PM
The fact that the inability of the nuclear industry to build plants on time and on budget led to the biggest bond default in history (up to that point) seemed to kill the urge to build plants. There were plenty who didn't want them built before that, but they kept losing until the money boys decided it was a bad investment.

The Bigfella
11-20-2009, 10:20 PM
Aren't there about 50 under construction now?

Duncan Gibbs
11-20-2009, 10:22 PM
The other factors against nuclear include the toxic and carbon intensive activities of mining, processing and transporting of uranium. Most of the discussion seems to centre around its use in generation, but conveniently leaves out the rest of the nuclear cycle.

Duncan Gibbs
11-20-2009, 10:24 PM
Aren't there about 50 under construction now?

China and India? Probably. But both those countries are going down the same route the West went down, but without even half of the environmental controls we had or have.

PeterSibley
11-20-2009, 10:28 PM
China and India ...they get all that lovely plutonium ,something money can't buy .

Nicholas Carey
11-21-2009, 02:37 AM
It's not just that no one wants a nuclear plant ,no one will pay to build one either .Most of the alternatives are cheaper and faster to build , not to mention decommission .

The big problem with nukes -- ignoring the risk factor which should be tiny if the plant is properly built and properly operated (however unlikey either of those conditions may be :eek:) -- the big problem is that there are two itsy-bitsy items that aren't consider in the cost/benefit analyses:



How much does it cost to babysit the spent fuel for 250,000 years? No answer, there: civilisation isn't 250,000 years old. Yet. How could we cost that out?
The lifespan of a nuclear power plant is about 75 years. After that the containment shell and plumbing gets too hot (radioactively speaking) to deal with. How much does it cost to decommision it? And....how do we baby sit it for 250,000 years (which see point #1 above)? How much does that cost? What about the land consumed by the plant?

And that's ignoring the security risks implicit in a nuclear power plant.

N.B., There are nuclear power plant designs (which see pebble bed design (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor)) that are safe, but the issue of what to do with (and how to cost) the spent fuel and what to do with the plant itself remains a huge issue. Also note that the Canadian CANDU (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU_reactor) system is also relatively safe.

Rationally costed out, dealing with those two issues would ratchet up the cost of nuclear power beyond the point of feasability.

PeterSibley
11-21-2009, 04:20 AM
There was an article in Time , perhaps 20 or more years ago on just those 2 issues , waste and decommissioning .I was strongly anti nuclear but the bloke I was working for thought it was the future .

I took him the article and it changed his mind completely ! Perhaps it was seeing all my arguments presented in print in a magazine he identified with .

WX
11-21-2009, 06:56 AM
Nicholas, I've asked similar questions.......deathly silence.

Duncan Gibbs
11-22-2009, 04:48 PM
To paraphrase Phillip Allen.... Crickets!

Meanwhile (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_con-energy-oil-consumption&date=2007) global oil consumption was at 10,967,634 cubic metres* of oil per day in 2007: That's a cube of 220 metres length on all sides of oil being used per day. Although the global total has decreased since 2001 - by not much - The US, China, India, Japan and Germany have all increased their daily hit of the black stuff, as has Australia.

To think that we can burn the majority of this much carbon based energy per day and it not have any effect on the Earth's atmosphere is a nonsense. To think that we can use this much oil per day and not run out (or short) of the stuff is also a patent nonsense.

We must modify both our economies - local and global - and our behaviour if we stand any chance of getting through what is coming and have any kind of a decent future.

*158.97 litres of oil in a 42 gallon barrel and 6.290495 barrels in a cubic metre.