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posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 28 2017, @03:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the children-of-soy dept.

The BBC reports that sperm quality continues to drop. Specifically, researchers "found a 52.4% decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% decline in total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand." While alarmist publications tout this as a 60% drop, the decline is accelerating and the researchers are concerned that inaction may lead to species extinction despite the effect not being observed in regions with high machismo, such as South America, Asia and Africa.

The study "aggregates 185 studies between 1973 and 2011, one of the largest ever undertaken." It supposedly overcomes selection bias occurring from patients attending fertility (virility?) clinics and selection bias of null results not being published in journals (churnals?). My intuition is that insights can be gained from studying transsexualism. Practitioners claim patients increase at the rate of 15% per year (doubling every five years), over many decades and with no end in sight. This is akin to Moore's law, Kryder's law, Butters' law, Hendy's law, Rider's law, Carlson's law or any other exponential halving or doubling. So, it doesn't take a genius to understand that it will become an increasingly widespread issue.

Regardless, masculine medical problems are vastly under-represented. By some estimates, spending on male medical problems is about 1/4 of spending on female medical problems. For example, when a man seeks help for a legitimate medical issue, such as declining testosterone, a patient at the lower end of the "normal" range may be denied treatment even if he is constantly exhausted.

Well, take care of yourself. Eat properly. Drink properly. Rest properly. Stay active. And if healthy food and exercise won't fix accumulated problems, consider hormone replacement. You may also want to watch two films which seem to be mentioned with increasing frequency and seem to predict our era with some accuracy: Children Of Men and Colossus: The Forbin Project. Children Of Men is the second bleakest film I've ever seen and the film I've seen most during its initial cinema release. It explores the scenario of global infertility leading to economic collapse. In addition to a nexus of cast and crew, the seamless plot and astounding compositing, the film is a fantastic example of mise-en-scène which is best explained by example.

Anyhow, enjoy the films and get your medical problems addressed.

Disclosure: People in my family are affected by virility and hormone problems. I have a professional interest in film, media encoding and art education.


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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday July 31 2017, @01:43AM (26 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 31 2017, @01:43AM (#546926) Journal

    Thinking of a plumber I know, has a wife and two kids, lives in a 60 year old 1100 square foot home located about 1/4 mile from a major airport runway, jet fuel fumes inundate the local neighborhood a couple of times a month. Wife also works administrative assistant jobs as she can, they have the plumbing truck and one family car that they've had for the last 16 years.

    They can afford cable TV, food, air conditioning, and furniture, so, I guess that's not poor? They don't have enough education to get better jobs, but I suppose since they're not "poor" they're also not under-educated?

    Yes [nytimes.com].

    Who is the prototypical American millionaire? What would he tell you about himself?(*)

    * I am a fifty-seven-year-old male, married with three children. About 70 percent of us earn 80 percent or more of our household's income.

    * About one in five of us is retired. About two-thirds of us who are working are self-employed. Interestingly, self-employed people make up less than 20 percent of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires. Also, three out of four of us who are self-employed consider ourselves to be entrepreneurs. Most of the others are self-employed professionals, such as doctors and accountants.

    * Many of the types of businesses we are in could be classified as dullnormal. We are welding contractors, auctioneers, rice farmers, owners of mobile-home parks, pest controllers, coin and stamp dealers, and paving contractors.

    * About half of our wives do not work outside the home. The number-one occupation for those wives who do work is teacher.

    * Our household's total annual realized (taxable) income is $131,000 (median, or 50th percentile), while our average income is $247,000. Note that those of us who have incomes in the $500,000 to $999,999 category (8 percent) and the $1 million or more category (5 percent) skew the average upward.

    * We have an average household net worth of $3.7 million. Of course, some of our cohorts have accumulated much more. Nearly 6 percent have a net worth of over $10 million. Again, these people skew our average upward. The typical (median, or 50th percentile) millionaire household has a net worth of $1.6 million.

    * On average, our total annual realized income is less than 7 percent of our wealth. In other words, we live on less than 7 percent of our wealth.

    * Most of us (97 percent) are homeowners. We live in homes currently valued at an average of $320,000. About half of us have occupied the same home for more than twenty years. Thus, we have enjoyed significant increases in the value of our homes.

    * Most of us have never felt at a disadvantage because we did not receive any inheritance. About 80 percent of us are first-generation affluent.

    * We live well below our means. We wear inexpensive suits and drive American-made cars. Only a minority of us drive the current-model-year automobile. Only a minority ever lease our motor vehicles.

    * Most of our wives are planners and meticulous budgeters. In fact, only 18 percent of us disagreed with the statement "Charity begins at home." Most of us will tell you that our wives are a lot more conservative with money than we are.

    * We have a "go-to-hell fund." In other words, we have accumulated enough wealth to live without working for ten or more years. Thus, those of us with a net worth of $1.6 million could live comfortably for more than twelve years. Actually, we could live longer than that, since we save at least 15 percent of our earned income.

    * We have more than six and one-half times the level of wealth of our nonmillionaire neighbors, but, in our neighborhood, these nonmillionaires outnumber us better than three to one. Could it be that they have chosen to trade wealth for acquiring high-status material possessions?

    * As a group, we are fairly well educated. Only about one in five are not college graduates. Many of us hold advanced degrees. Eighteen percent have master's degrees, 8 percent law degrees, 6 percent medical degrees, and 6 percent Ph.D.s.

    * Only 17 percent of us or our spouses ever attended a private elementary or private high school. But 55 percent of our children are currently attending or have attended private schools.

    * As a group, we believe that education is extremely important for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. We spend heavily for the educations of our offspring.

    * About two-thirds of us work between forty-five and fifty-five hours per week.

    * We are fastidious investors. On average, we invest nearly 20 percent of our household realized income each year. Most of us invest at least 15 percent. Seventy-nine percent of us have at least one account with a brokerage company. But we make our own investment decisions.

    * We hold nearly 20 percent of our household's wealth in transaction securities such as publicly traded stocks and mutual funds. But we rarely sell our equity investments. We hold even more in our pension plans. On average, 21 percent of our household's wealth is in our private businesses.

    * As a group, we feel that our daughters are financially handicapped in comparison to our sons. Men seem to make much more money even within the same occupational categories. That is why most of us would not hesitate to share some of our wealth with our daughters. Our sons, and men in general, have the deck of economic cards stacked in their favor. They should not need subsidies from their parents.

    * What would be the ideal occupations for our sons and daughters? There are about 3.5 millionaire households like ours. Our numbers are growing much faster than the general population. Our kids should consider providing affluent people with some valuable service. Overall, our most trusted financial advisors are our accountants. Our attorneys are also very important. So we recommend accounting and law to our children. Tax advisors and estate-planning experts will be in big demand over the next fifteen years.

    * I am a tightwad. That's one of the main reasons I completed a long questionnaire for a crispy $1 bill. Why else would I spend two or three hours being personally interviewed by these authors? They paid me $100, $200, or $250. Oh, they made me another offer--to donate in my name the money I earned for my interview to my favorite charity. But I told them, "I am my favorite charity."

    Now, maybe this guy is as poor as you think he is. But he fits a lot of the characteristics of self-made millionaires.

  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday July 31 2017, @09:35PM (25 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday July 31 2017, @09:35PM (#547376)

    Like I said, we know the family (wife better than the plumber, but we know them all fairly well). The day that man has $1M net worth, will be the day that an 1100 square foot home in a crappy neighborhood sells for $2M. He has trouble finding profitable work, a lot of the time he's bidding on jobs that barely turn a profit because there's nothing better available.

    And, thank you for the most straight forward misleading statement I've read in a long time: "self-employed people make up less than 20 percent of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires."

    Read another way: less than 3% of Americans are millionaires. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/24/a-record-number-of-americans-are-now-millionaires-new-study-shows.html [cnbc.com] though, the number is increasing as inflation degrades the quality of life that a millionaire can afford.

    Since one in five millionaires are retired, that leaves only 8.6M "working" millionaires, of which 2.9M are not self employed, and 5.7M are self employed.

    To risk mixing statistics from disparate sources, there are 127.3M "working" Americans https://www.statista.com/statistics/192361/unadjusted-monthly-number-of-full-time-employees-in-the-us/ [statista.com] of whom, 6.76% are millionaires, and 13.24% are non-millionaire self-employed.

    So, it would seem simple, just be self-employed and you're in great company - work your way to the top 1/3 of that crowd and you're a millionaire.

    What's lacking is the history of those 5.7M "self-employed" millionaires, how many of them made their first million while self-employed? without family assistance? without an incredible stroke of luck?

    I'm not self-employed, haven't been for 90% of my working life, but for 80% of my working life, I worked in situations that could have propelled me to $1M+ net worth in a short time. Didn't happen, but if it did - I probably would then have made the switch to full-time self-employed.

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    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:42AM (24 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2017, @02:42AM (#547496) Journal

      What's lacking is the history of those 5.7M "self-employed" millionaires, how many of them made their first million while self-employed? without family assistance? without an incredible stroke of luck?

      My link provided some perspective on that. But even if we accept uncritically your point, somehow we've come up with a society where 6 million people can get that lucky. That's a huge improvement over the past.

      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 01 2017, @03:01AM (23 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @03:01AM (#547499)

        6 million is 1.7%, not really a huge improvement over Medieval Feudalism - would not be surprising for 2% of an estate to be enjoying the benefit of the King's residence. In some ways, we all have it "better" now, with technology, medicine, easy food, cheap shelter, fast travel, etc. In other ways, if you're not part of the top 5% or so, you have it so much worse today with increased population densities, lack of free space to migrate to, etc. Enjoy the air conditioning, electronic entertainment, and packaged foods, even if they are a weak/fragile substitute for having 100 productive acres on which to provide for your family.

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        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday August 01 2017, @03:51AM (22 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2017, @03:51AM (#547508) Journal

          6 million is 1.7%, not really a huge improvement over Medieval Feudalism - would not be surprising for 2% of an estate to be enjoying the benefit of the King's residence.

          It's better than 0% when you're tied to the land and have zero opportunity to become one of the landed nobles.

          In some ways, we all have it "better" now, with technology, medicine, easy food, cheap shelter, fast travel, etc. In other ways, if you're not part of the top 5% or so, you have it so much worse today with increased population densities, lack of free space to migrate to, etc.

          I have to wonder. Do you really believe the shit you're shoveling? Yes, we haven't strictly improved in every conceivable parameter possible, but that's not as bad as presented. For example, Medieval Feudalism wouldn't achieve the high population densities we routinely enjoy because there would be mass die-offs first due both to their inability to support those levels of population and the poor hygiene and sanitation they had. I'd rather have the difficult population problem than the even more difficult repetitive die-offs problem.

          As to "lack of free space", there's more "free space" now than then. If you were a serf, you were tied to a plot of land. So much for the free space.

          Enjoy the air conditioning, electronic entertainment, and packaged foods, even if they are a weak/fragile substitute for having 100 productive acres on which to provide for your family.

          Productive is relative. I estimate conventional agriculture can feed several dozen to several hundred people on 100 acres of farmland (depending on crop and quality of the land) and probably a somewhat lesser amount on animals grazing on pasture. Apparently, hydroponics can crudely triple that yield from farmland. Meanwhile you're speaking of barely feeding a family on 100 "productive" acres. As to "weak/fragile", I think people greatly underestimate the sturdiness of a modern civilization (at least one which does more than obsess over wealth inequality, let's say).

          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 01 2017, @11:35AM (21 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @11:35AM (#547593)

            Medieval Feudalism wouldn't achieve the high population densities we routinely enjoy

            There, precisely there, you identify the core of the "shit I'm shoveling." Who, exactly, enjoys a high population density? What population density is ideal? If we could cram 7 trillion "living" homo-sapiens onto the earth, is that preferable to what we have today?

            The "shit I'm shoveling" is that a population density of 700 million would be more enjoyable for those present than the current 7 billion, especially if it can be achieved without losing the good sides of modern technology. The primary benefactor of fewer h. sapiens on the planet (besides the living h. sapiens themselves who would be enjoying 10x the natural resource) would be the ecosystem that could do something besides serve a crushing load of waste recycling / food production.

            Take your miracles of hydroponics and conquer space with them, they're great, wonderful, highly productive in the developed dimension, but not robust the way that a thriving natural ecosystem is. If we could use hydroponics to significantly reduce our ecological footprint, then great- but we don't seem to be anywhere close to doing that before 95%+ of the forests and other convertible wild spaces have been converted to croplands. Because they're "more expensive" hydroponics are more of a method of last resort, modern civilization prefers to exploit the wild spaces first - and I don't think that business people even come close to understanding the value they are destroying when they utilize these "cheaper natural resources."

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            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:37PM (20 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2017, @12:37PM (#547609) Journal

              There, precisely there, you identify the core of the "shit I'm shoveling." Who, exactly, enjoys a high population density? What population density is ideal? If we could cram 7 trillion "living" homo-sapiens onto the earth, is that preferable to what we have today?

              And I went on to describe the die-offs that happened to maintain the population at that low level. Further, the many inefficiencies of feudalism and its technologies (not to mention the higher population growth rate!) mean that 700 million people have a larger footprint than they would in an advanced society. Let us also keep in mind here that high population growth via birth is a feature exclusively of the poorest parts of the world not the most technologically advanced.

              Take your miracles of hydroponics and conquer space with them, they're great, wonderful, highly productive in the developed dimension, but not robust the way that a thriving natural ecosystem is.

              They don't need to be robust locally. Like most such agricultural technologies, they are very distributed which provides a degree of robustness. It's also something you can stick in a city (eg, the top floor or two of a building, for example).

              especially if it can be achieved without losing the good sides of modern technology

              What good sides are we speaking of? I recall you scare quoted the vast majority of modern civilization as "better".

              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:03PM (19 children)

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday August 01 2017, @01:03PM (#547617)

                So, if you want to get to the ideals I would strive for, they've all been outlined before by some popular philosophers: "love one another, turn the other cheek", "Government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another.", "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." etc.

                So, modern civilization _seems_ to have made some progress toward those aims, in some limited pockets, although if you consider the whole of human population I'm not so sure that there really has been progress per-capita... sure, more people are living in good conditions, but is a larger percentage of the total population really living in better conditions than before? Maybe, but if you switch focus back to total numbers, are there more or less people living in unacceptable, suffering conditions than before? Simply by population growth, there are so many more people today, and a fraction of them are indeed suffering by whatever definition of suffering, just by the growth of population that suffering population must be larger than the whole of human population at some point in the past.

                As to good sides of modern technology: communication, transport and travel, medicine, reduction of labor to produce food and shelter, improvements in shelter - all good things, may we never lose them. However, "with great power comes great responsibility" and I don't think that we, as a species, are doing so well on that front - we are using the power we have to over-strip natural resources, more and more often beyond the ability to recover within decades, or longer.

                I'm not advocating a return to Medieval technology and lifestyle as a means to control population, but a return to Medieval population levels wouldn't be a bad thing, and would yield rewards that most people today have lost sight of. So, how do we get there? Maybe if we would obsess over wealth inequality just long enough to elevate the bottom of the wealth pyramid out of fear of suffering, that might be enough to slow the birthrate - I doubt it is enough by itself, but it's a good start.

                Keep the pointy top wealth pyramid, but if you're going to give all people in the pyramid the rights and power of h. sapiens to dominate the earth, you'll need to give them more than the right to procreate as accessible means to strive toward that domination.

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                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday August 01 2017, @11:26PM (18 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 01 2017, @11:26PM (#547780) Journal

                  sure, more people are living in good conditions, but is a larger percentage of the total population really living in better conditions than before?

                  What's the point of asking questions you're not interested in answering? To answer your question, a larger percentage of the total population is living in better conditions than 1950 which is a nadir IMHO for recent humanity. Maybe they aren't living as well as they were in say 1800 or 1000 AD or 20,000 BC or whatever, but you have yet to make an argument for why some past time is better aside from a raw population count.

                  Second, what's the point of comparing current civilization to some civilization with far fewer people? We're not magically getting rid of 90% or more of our currently alive people. In other words, you are comparing a real world situation to an imaginary situation only attainable in the near future with a massive human die-off. And that brings up the obvious question, why should I bother to defend modern civilization against your accusations when the problem is instead something that wouldn't be immediately dealt with by any nondestructive change in civilization (and for which modern civilization would still stand out as superior)? Don't we have better things to worry about?

                  For example, a genuine apples to apples comparison for your feudalism example would be modern civilization with 700 million people versus a feudalistic society with 700 million people. Take a wild guess which one is going to shine. It's not going to be the "100 productive acres" one.

                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday August 02 2017, @02:50AM (17 children)

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday August 02 2017, @02:50AM (#547828)

                    See, modern civilization with 700 million people can still have 100 productive acres per family unit, like Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre city writ 100x larger.

                    If you're only interested in talking about things that you might see in your lifetime, we may as well get wrapped up in Donald T drama - that's what's here and now.

                    If you're talking long-term, your points about wealth, poverty and population growth are very much on-point. The starving countries in Africa had huge numbers of children per family, and basic human behavior is indeed prompted to larger families in, and around times of stress and uncertainty, so that's my point about raising the bottom of the wealth pyramid out of the fear of starvation, suffering, etc. to bring about at least a reduction in the population growth rates naturally - we'll probably need to do more to start a population decline, including some economic model shifts that will be painful for some of the people currently dwelling at the tops of some of the pointy-er wealth pyramids - not that the point is to "hurt the people at the top," just that any significant changes are going to cause some reshuffling and will blunt some of the pointy-er pyramids, while sharpening others - and that leads to all kinds of political dramas as people struggle to stay "on point."

                    Speaking hypothetically ideally, how fast should we return to 700 million (not a magic number, just one of many good ones, better than 7B by far) population? For minimum pain of the existing populations, it should be slow, like a steady -0.23% annual decline for 1000 years, but that would be nearly impossible to engineer in the current sociopolitical landscape with competing superpowers and hundreds of sovereign states. If you're interested in "saving the planet" it might be better to "start with a bang" and drop faster at first, like 1 child per couple fast until we're back to 2B or so, note that China's population still grew under their 1 child "policy" - effective implementation is key, and that's a big part of where taking the economic fear out of people's lives is important.

                    Or, we could just de-regulate sperm poisoning industries and "allow nature to take its course" that way, but as long as people can still breed, their desire to breed has more effect on the population rates than their raw ability to breed based on sperm counts.

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                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday August 02 2017, @05:25AM (16 children)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday August 02 2017, @05:25AM (#547852) Journal

                      If you're only interested in talking about things that you might see in your lifetime, we may as well get wrapped up in Donald T drama - that's what's here and now.

                      Well, that and the massive improvement of the majority of humanity on Earth through a variety of things that aren't supposed to do that, like capitalism, globalism, and free trade, to name a few bugbears that people keep speaking of. My prediction is about half to two thirds of the world's population will be considered developed world in 2050. That includes the typical negative population growth common to native populations of developed world countries.

                      There's too much of the world that is improving too fast. China is the obvious example, but it's far from the only country out there getting better rapidly.

                      If you're talking long-term, your points about wealth, poverty and population growth are very much on-point.

                      I don't believe 2050 is very far away. Moving on, I believe by 2100, less than 10% of the world's population will live in countries that have a standard of living worse than the best today, Norway (better wealth, health, and education). And they'll get that way through the processes you've discounted so far.

                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday August 02 2017, @11:17AM (15 children)

                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday August 02 2017, @11:17AM (#547894)

                        Calling China and India 50% "developed" by 2050 is optimistic, maybe possible if all you need for "developed" is running water and electricity - but there have been plenty of false starts with fast-track development of large populations, the first thing coming to mind being the poisoning of massive tracts of farmland in India by the powered pumping of arsenic rich groundwater out of boreholes.

                        If you're including villages in Africa that have an internet hut with a solar powered satellite connection to the net as "developed," sure, we'll probably get to 50% before 2050. Tech like cell phones and internet access are spreading like fire, and are probably more beneficial than fire was when it was introduced; and with fewer downsides for what's left of the natural ecosystems.

                        Will this all lead to a "soft landing" where we don't need disease, wars and starvation to stabilize the population? Barring some Kurzweilian singularity that somehow uploads my consciousness to a computer, I think I'll be out of the physical awareness arena by approximately 2070, and I think we're in for some bigger shit-shows between now and then - the mass extinction event shows no signs of slowing, and capitalism, globalism, and free trade aren't helping much at all on that front. I don't personally believe there will be any population reductions before 2070, and as we squeeze harder on the natural resources, things like economically imposed vegetarianism for 50%+ of the population seem inevitable. I lived in Texas, and I can tell you that all 27 million of 'em would rather watch the world burn than give up their BBQ, and they're not alone.

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                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday August 02 2017, @12:30PM (14 children)

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday August 02 2017, @12:30PM (#547906) Journal

                          Calling China and India 50% "developed" by 2050 is optimistic

                          No, I think they'll be much higher than 50%. Let us keep in mind too that every current developed world country has both backwards and poor populations. That's not what makes them developed world. Massive infrastructure, legal systems, and high per capita net wealth is what makes the developed world what it is.

                          but there have been plenty of false starts with fast-track development of large populations

                          I'm not speaking of false starts, but rather economic development similar to how the US, Europe, and Japan did it. These countries are fundamentally changing due to global trade and their growth will in turn fuel economic growth in other countries that trade with them.

                          I don't personally believe there will be any population reductions before 2070, and as we squeeze harder on the natural resources, things like economically imposed vegetarianism for 50%+ of the population seem inevitable.

                          Unless, of course, all that new infrastructure that will be built over the next 33 years means they don't have to do that.

                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday August 02 2017, @02:48PM (13 children)

                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday August 02 2017, @02:48PM (#547941)

                            India, and to a lesser but still significant degree China, have "bright spots" of development intermingled with huge populations of underdeveloped infrastructure. Where you draw the line is important if you're going to hit any particular goal. Ability to travel to an international airport and get a flight to (insert arbitrary major city: London, New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Shanghai, Tokyo, etc.) within 24 hours might be one definition of "developed" that gets to be hard to meet if you require the people to do it with their own resources. Sure, with a month of prep time and unlimited funds, most of the world is accessible by that measure, but if you ask someone in rural China to get themselves to Sydney using nothing but the resources they command, and less than their annual disposable income, a whole lot less of the world is capable of that.

                            economic development similar to how the US, Europe, and Japan did it.

                            but without the massive depletion of natural resources and dependence on cheap foreign labor, because: when everybody is developed, there's no underdeveloped world to "offer wonderful opportunities" of exploitation to.

                            And, no amount of infrastructure development in the next 33 years will be able to provide beef brisket sandwiches for lunch, daily, to 10 billion people, not on this planet.

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                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday August 03 2017, @12:26AM (12 children)

                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 03 2017, @12:26AM (#548180) Journal

                              but without the massive depletion of natural resources and dependence on cheap foreign labor, because: when everybody is developed, there's no underdeveloped world to "offer wonderful opportunities" of exploitation to.

                              I believe this will become the golden age of human labor similar to the US's situation in 1950 and 1960.

                              And, no amount of infrastructure development in the next 33 years will be able to provide beef brisket sandwiches for lunch, daily, to 10 billion people, not on this planet.

                              Which is patently false. What is "beef", for example? It's a food, not flesh of a dead cow raised in a particular way. We can grow artificial beef and skip the moderate inefficiency of pasture-based cattle agriculture.

                              But even if we decided that we have to grow real cows and everyone has to have that beef brisket sandwich every day, there's ways to do that more efficiently than present. For example, cows could be grown under the cities with both the waste food stream from human food and hydroponic based agriculture. Cows aren't that inefficient. That would get past land use constraints, at least for 10 billion people. At some point, it would of course be more economic to switch mostly to protein sources with a smaller land footprint, but to outright claim that we couldn't restructure our societies to consume vastly more beef than we currently do, ignores that we can optimize a lot further along those lines than we currently do. It just costs to do so.

                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday August 03 2017, @02:43AM (11 children)

                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday August 03 2017, @02:43AM (#548200)

                                First, 26.99M out of 27M Texans will NOT accept vat grown protein as beef, regardless of how convincing it might become.

                                Second, industrial farming of poultry and pork is already so revolting that large portions of the population that can afford to get non-factory-grown eggs, chicken and pork are electing to do so with their wallets. Same for slime-pond-grown fish. Sure, you _could_ scale that idea up and grow cattle underground, but, are you actually calling that positive progress? My favorite quote from a factory chicken farmer: "that's the smell of money." If you've never smelled a chicken factory in person you should, just for a little perspective of how that kind of money gets made.

                                Finally, why beef brisket sandwiches? By the 1970s, the hamburger was the worldwide sign of prosperity - of American wealth and largess, and back then the 1/4 pounder was the "big" burger. By the late 1990s, the 1/4 pounder became the smallest burger on most menus, and what people have really wanted all along is sliced beef, not ground and homogenized like some vat grown stuff - maybe we can't all afford it every day yet, but if we're going to continue on this illusory wheel of progress that's what's coming next: open range, grass fed, prime cut beef as often as you can afford it, and if you're not eating it at least 3 times a week, well son, you're just not living in the first world, are you?

                                1/4lb per day is roughly 100lbs per year, per person. With modern application of hormones, etc. you can grow about 320lbs of beef per year per acre on good pasture land, so, per capita, just the beef of that "modest" by current standards daily 4oz hamburger for lunch requires about 1/3 of an acre of dedicated good pastureland, plus processing, packaging, transport and preparation - which is using copious quantities of fossil fuels in today's implementation of the global marketplace. Say population peaks around 12B, that means we'll need 4B acres of pastureland, just for lunchmeat, if we're all going to live like rich 1980s non-vegetarian Californians. Sound high? We're already grazing almost double that amount of land (mostly due to low quality forage growth), and there's not enough productive grazing land on the earth to double that again: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/12/1209_051209_crops_map.html [nationalgeographic.com]

                                The primary technology that "proved" Malthus "wrong" was phosphate fertilizer, like what's coming from this https://goo.gl/maps/SELTofqKwRG2 [goo.gl] area of strip mining that presently supplies about 1/4 of all phosphate for fertilizer worldwide. Phosphate has its limitations, and undesirable side effects https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_zone_(ecology) [wikipedia.org] , and it's not opening huge productivity increases the way it did in the 1700s through the 1900s when mining it became cheap. Even if you move the cows into (absolutely disgusting to even imagine) underground pens, they've got to be fed from something that grows on solar power, maybe vats of algae would be more productive than grass, but, again, who really wants to go there?

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                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:07AM

                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:07AM (#548223) Journal

                                  First, 26.99M out of 27M Texans will NOT accept vat grown protein as beef, regardless of how convincing it might become.

                                  And 27 million Second, industrial farming of poultry and pork is already so revolting that large portions of the population that can afford to get non-factory-grown eggs, chicken and pork are electing to do so with their wallets. Same for slime-pond-grown fish. Sure, you _could_ scale that idea up and grow cattle underground, but, are you actually calling that positive progress? My favorite quote from a factory chicken farmer: "that's the smell of money." If you've never smelled a chicken factory in person you should, just for a little perspective of how that kind of money gets made.

                                  A lot of jobs are revolting. We manage to get them done anyway.

                                  Finally, why beef brisket sandwiches? By the 1970s, the hamburger was the worldwide sign of prosperity - of American wealth and largess, and back then the 1/4 pounder was the "big" burger. By the late 1990s, the 1/4 pounder became the smallest burger on most menus, and what people have really wanted all along is sliced beef, not ground and homogenized like some vat grown stuff - maybe we can't all afford it every day yet, but if we're going to continue on this illusory wheel of progress that's what's coming next: open range, grass fed, prime cut beef as often as you can afford it, and if you're not eating it at least 3 times a week, well son, you're just not living in the first world, are you?

                                  I'll note a few things here. First, your last question is just a classic example of moving the goalposts. A similar thing goes on when people in the recent past claimed that one couldn't have a developed world lifestyle without the carbon footprint of a US resident (which I think we all can agree is on the high side for the developed world). It's one thing to note that high quality food is a sign of developed world status, and another to deliberately pick food with an unusually high ecological footprint as a sign of developed world status. You also did this with the "100 productive acres" thing a while back.

                                  The primary technology that "proved" Malthus "wrong" was phosphate fertilizer,

                                  No, the primary technology that proves Malthus wrong is women's emancipation. When women had choices other than merely raising children, it turns out enough of them wanted to do those other things to end positive growth rate in modern societies from reproduction.

                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:27AM (9 children)

                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:27AM (#548224) Journal
                                  Sorry, mangled the start of my reply. So I'm posting it again.

                                  First, 26.99M out of 27M Texans will NOT accept vat grown protein as beef, regardless of how convincing it might become.

                                  And 27 million is much less than 10 billion. So unless we're suddenly up to our eyeballs in Texans, I think we're safe.

                                  Second, industrial farming of poultry and pork is already so revolting that large portions of the population that can afford to get non-factory-grown eggs, chicken and pork are electing to do so with their wallets. Same for slime-pond-grown fish. Sure, you _could_ scale that idea up and grow cattle underground, but, are you actually calling that positive progress? My favorite quote from a factory chicken farmer: "that's the smell of money." If you've never smelled a chicken factory in person you should, just for a little perspective of how that kind of money gets made.

                                  A lot of jobs are revolting. We manage to get them done anyway.

                                  Finally, why beef brisket sandwiches? By the 1970s, the hamburger was the worldwide sign of prosperity - of American wealth and largess, and back then the 1/4 pounder was the "big" burger. By the late 1990s, the 1/4 pounder became the smallest burger on most menus, and what people have really wanted all along is sliced beef, not ground and homogenized like some vat grown stuff - maybe we can't all afford it every day yet, but if we're going to continue on this illusory wheel of progress that's what's coming next: open range, grass fed, prime cut beef as often as you can afford it, and if you're not eating it at least 3 times a week, well son, you're just not living in the first world, are you?

                                  I'll note a few things here. First, your last question is just a classic example of moving the goalposts. A similar thing goes on when people in the recent past claimed that one couldn't have a developed world lifestyle without the carbon footprint of a US resident (which I think we all can agree is on the high side for the developed world). It's one thing to note that high quality food is a sign of developed world status, and another to deliberately pick food with an unusually high ecological footprint as a sign of developed world status. You also did this with the "100 productive acres" thing a while back.

                                  The primary technology that "proved" Malthus "wrong" was phosphate fertilizer,

                                  No, the primary technology that proves Malthus wrong is women's emancipation. When women had choices other than merely raising children, it turns out enough of them wanted to do those other things to end positive growth rate in modern societies from reproduction.

                                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:27PM (8 children)

                                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:27PM (#548412)

                                    I took Malthus' main point to be that there's a cap on how much population the world can support (and discovery of the "New World" was a big blow to his initial calculations) - I suppose if you want to get to the inevitability of disaster side of things, the lack of effective birth control back then was another major factor.

                                    As for moving goal posts - when in history have the goal posts not moved? Moving goal posts is at the core of human happiness. I know a (Texan) family with net worth in the hundreds of millions, the stress in their lifestyles is entirely self-imposed. They're not satisfied when they're working, they're not content when they're not working - they have had multiple suicides in the past 20 years, in part due to classic manic-depression, and in part due to the human condition: no matter how good you have it, happiness comes from relative improvement, and unhappiness comes from feelings of helplessness to do what you want to do. Regardless of resources, political power, etc. there are always things that people are unable to achieve.

                                    I stick by the 100 productive acres thing. If you're choosing to live in the desert, you may need more, but if we reduced the human population to one family - say 3.5 generations of 2 children per couple, so ~7 people, per 100 acres of "good" forest or farmland, we'd have high enough population to maintain academic and technological progress. Some people would stay in cities, but for any that wanted to move out onto the land, there would be plenty of land to move out onto. With continuing progress, we're not far from automated small farms, which - with low population density - would mean freedom to choose whether you wanted to hormone pump your meat animals for the productivity/efficiency increases, or let them grow more naturally, because it's not a resource constrained choice where the natural option just isn't economically feasible. The whole 100 family acres wouldn't need to be put into optimized production just to feed h. sapiens, there would be enough left over for a healthy, relatively un-managed bio-diverse nature.

                                    Or, we can bio-engineer monoculture crops for maximum productivity, feed them to animals kept at 1000x natural densities, reeking of filth, but productive enough to feed a larger population, etc. etc. etc.

                                    Either way, the population growth will need to stop and eventually stabilize - and we're not talking cosmic time scales - 2000 years of continued growth at the rate of the last 50 will lead to a completely unsustainable human population by any method except perhaps fusion powered underground farms and continent sized multi-level cities.

                                    To me, since population stabilization has to happen somewhere, it's a question of what level should it be targeted at, and, clearly, I think we've already passed the ideal level and need to plan for a way to scale back. Quality over quantity. Just because we're going to peak over 10B doesn't mean that we should aim to stabilize there.

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                                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday August 03 2017, @10:17PM (7 children)

                                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 03 2017, @10:17PM (#548503) Journal

                                      I took Malthus' main point to be that there's a cap on how much population the world can support (and discovery of the "New World" was a big blow to his initial calculations) - I suppose if you want to get to the inevitability of disaster side of things, the lack of effective birth control back then was another major factor.

                                      Birth control is another aspect of the emancipation of women that I already described. The key assumption, Malthus had was that exponential population growth was inevitable in the absence of extreme human behavior regulation or constraints of resources. That assumption is broken not by your fertilizer example or by wheat that produces two crops a year (the beginning of the "green revolution"), but by negative population growth in native populations throughout the developed world. The former merely increases the food supply, the latter changes the game in a light weight way.

                                      As for moving goal posts - when in history have the goal posts not moved? Moving goal posts is at the core of human happiness. I know a (Texan) family with net worth in the hundreds of millions, the stress in their lifestyles is entirely self-imposed. They're not satisfied when they're working, they're not content when they're not working - they have had multiple suicides in the past 20 years, in part due to classic manic-depression, and in part due to the human condition: no matter how good you have it, happiness comes from relative improvement, and unhappiness comes from feelings of helplessness to do what you want to do. Regardless of resources, political power, etc. there are always things that people are unable to achieve.

                                      Which is why development is not described in terms of happiness.

                                      2000 years of continued growth at the rate of the last 50 will lead to a completely unsustainable human population by any method except perhaps fusion powered underground farms and continent sized multi-level cities

                                      Which is increasingly irrelevant because population growth has greatly declined universally over the past 50 years.

                                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday August 04 2017, @12:59AM (6 children)

                                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday August 04 2017, @12:59AM (#548536)

                                        I'm sorry, what statistics have you been reading that say that population growth has been slowing? Not slowing in some think-tank future, but actually slowing? The rate of growth increase may be tapering slightly today, but growth itself marches on.

                                        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Human_population_growth_from_1800_to_2000.png [wikimedia.org]

                                        I'm not talking about "in Russia," or "in the USA and Europe without considering immigration," I'm talking about world population, because that's what's going to drive cell-phone and T-shirt sales, need for food, wood for fires http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/ [who.int] , eventual desire for hamburgers, etc. And until ALL the world's people come up to food/shelter/economic security AND make some other gains, the population isn't going to stop, or even appreciably slow growing. The happy medium and low graphs shown here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population [wikipedia.org] have been predicted for decades, but as the decades roll by, total world population has continued to follow the high predictions. Scroll on down to the World population milestones in billions chart - we're still at 12 years between each additional billion in population, that number has never slowed down, the slowings on the chart are future predictions. Maybe you might argue that our % annual increase is slowing because the population has grown so large, as long as we're adding another billion people every 12 years or less, I don't call that slowing at all. 1200 years of that and we've got 107 billion people on the planet - I have a hard time believing that we'll manage that kind of number with (pleasant, desirable) technological breakthroughs - that course seems destined for some measure of control by disease, famine, lack of fresh water, and straight up lebensraum, all of which lead to wars when they strike populations that control an army of any size.

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                                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday August 04 2017, @03:46AM (5 children)

                                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 04 2017, @03:46AM (#548601) Journal

                                          I'm sorry, what statistics have you been reading that say that population growth has been slowing? Not slowing in some think-tank future, but actually slowing? The rate of growth increase may be tapering slightly today, but growth itself marches on.

                                          https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Human_population_growth_from_1800_to_2000.png [wikimedia.org] [wikimedia.org]

                                          I'll note that the graph you linked to shows the slowing of the growth rate.

                                          I'm not talking about "in Russia," or "in the USA and Europe without considering immigration," I'm talking about world population, because that's what's going to drive cell-phone and T-shirt sales, need for food, wood for fires http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/ [who.int] [who.int] , eventual desire for hamburgers, etc. And until ALL the world's people come up to food/shelter/economic security AND make some other gains, the population isn't going to stop, or even appreciably slow growing.

                                          That was my thinking as well.

                                          we're still at 12 years between each additional billion in population, that number has never slowed down, the slowings on the chart are future predictions. Maybe you might argue that our % annual increase is slowing because the population has grown so large, as long as we're adding another billion people every 12 years or less, I don't call that slowing at all.

                                          I do call that slowing because it is. Population growth is exponential. A linear rate like that actually indicates a substantial decline in population growth rate.

                                          1200 years of that and we've got 107 billion people on the planet

                                          Only if humanity continues to have positive population growth. The above substantial decline in global population growth rate combined with both the developed world populations (excluding immigrants) having negative population growth rate and the rest of the world progressing to developed world status, indicates we aren't going that way.

                                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday August 04 2017, @01:21PM (4 children)

                                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday August 04 2017, @01:21PM (#548710)

                                            I still call 7B too high, too stressful on the ecosystem, and until we actually start a decline, not just predict one 20 years from now (now being another moving goal post), it's still growth, even if we're "beating" the exponential trend, the natural systems that were in place for millions of years before us managed to reach an approximate equilibrium long enough to make a home for us, not by slowing growth from exponential to linear, but by finding actual equilibrium, with many many examples of not so great things happening when they didn't.

                                            Stress on the ecosystem is a complicated combination of technology, lifestyle and sheer population numbers. I won't pretend to predict how that plays out even 10 years from now for technology or lifestyle. Historically, advances in technology and lifestyle have made the eco-stress-per-capita worse, not better. It hasn't been until the last decade or so that technological advances have really started (on a global scale) to hint at a true reduction in eco-stress-per-capita. Then, your (valid) argument that advances in lifestyle will bring down population growth numbers would seem to be balanced, or even outstripped by historical trends of eco-stress-per-capita as standards of living increase. Technology may, or may not, help to alleviate that any time soon - it's still far more chaotic than the observed trend in birth rate reductions correlating with lower economic stress. All this adds up, for me, to a population that won't peak under, or even near 10B, and will likely be stressing the ecosystem more like 15-20B+ people living today would.

                                            The current mass extinction event isn't something that can be shrugged off, and it is still accelerating. Until humanity gets a handle on that, I'd say the population is still too high.

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                                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday August 04 2017, @04:23PM (3 children)

                                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 04 2017, @04:23PM (#548779) Journal

                                              I still call 7B too high, too stressful on the ecosystem, and until we actually start a decline, not just predict one 20 years from now (now being another moving goal post), it's still growth, even if we're "beating" the exponential trend, the natural systems that were in place for millions of years before us managed to reach an approximate equilibrium long enough to make a home for us, not by slowing growth from exponential to linear, but by finding actual equilibrium, with many many examples of not so great things happening when they didn't.

                                              Nobody is predicting a population decline 20 years from now. That would happen somewhere in the 2050-2100 time frame. And we don't have a means in the near future to change that without killing people.

                                              Stress on the ecosystem is a complicated combination of technology, lifestyle and sheer population numbers.

                                              So what? Most of us realize that ecosystems will continue to be stressed for some time to come.

                                              Then, your (valid) argument that advances in lifestyle will bring down population growth numbers would seem to be balanced, or even outstripped by historical trends of eco-stress-per-capita as standards of living increase.

                                              I strongly disagree. The developed world countries without exception has far lower pollution per capita than the developing world. That combined with the low fertility and the setting aside of wild spaces, means that advances in lifestyle have already reduced the stress on the ecosystem.

                                              All this adds up, for me, to a population that won't peak under, or even near 10B, and will likely be stressing the ecosystem more like 15-20B+ people living today would.

                                              We will see what happens. I think it will be educational for you, should you choose to pay attention.

                                              The current mass extinction event isn't something that can be shrugged off, and it is still accelerating. Until humanity gets a handle on that, I'd say the population is still too high.

                                              With most of the large animal extinctions happening 10k years ago, let us note. And I'm not going to collectively take blame for conditions beyond my control, such as the overpopulation issue in Africa and Asia.

                                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday August 04 2017, @11:18PM (2 children)

                                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday August 04 2017, @11:18PM (#548916)

                                                Most of us realize that ecosystems will continue to be stressed for some time to come.

                                                What most of us don't realize is what the long term impact of that stress will be. It's not just about the dodo bird and carrier pigeon, it's about a crash in bio-diversity and the instability and vulnerability to plagues that brings.

                                                the setting aside of wild spaces

                                                is indeed a noble pursuit, but is progressing far too slowly to head off major extinction problems. I think this guy: https://eowilsonfoundation.org/half-earth-our-planet-s-fight-for-life/ [eowilsonfoundation.org] is beating the right drum, but not enough people who matter are listening.

                                                The developed world countries without exception has far lower pollution per capita than the developing world.

                                                All depends on what pollution you are looking at. From the polar bears' perspective, you're all wet.

                                                We will see what happens. I think it will be educational for you, should you choose to pay attention.

                                                Your confidence in your crystal ball will be your undoing.

                                                And I'm not going to collectively take blame for conditions beyond my control, such as the overpopulation issue in Africa and Asia.

                                                Blame is not at issue, viable solutions for the whole planet are. Ignoring what is going on in Asia is even more dangerous than ignoring an approaching asteroid on a collision course, and we certainly wouldn't be "to blame" for that event, either.

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                                                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday August 05 2017, @12:30AM (1 child)

                                                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 05 2017, @12:30AM (#548942) Journal

                                                  What most of us don't realize is what the long term impact of that stress will be. It's not just about the dodo bird and carrier pigeon, it's about a crash in bio-diversity and the instability and vulnerability to plagues that brings.

                                                  Remember me talking about Pascal's wager? I already noted several actions that supposedly reduced the stress, but probably had the opposite effect.

                                                  All depends on what pollution you are looking at. From the polar bears' perspective, you're all wet.

                                                  Since the global warming myths are about polar bears drowning, I'd have to say they apparently are the ones who are all wet.

                                                  We will see what happens. I think it will be educational for you, should you choose to pay attention.

                                                  Your confidence in your crystal ball will be your undoing.

                                                  I don't make predictions willy nilly nor do I expect them to be perfectly accurate. It is remarkable how dismissive people are of modern civilization despite several centuries of remarkable progress which, due to modern globalization, has now been experienced by everyone except the completely isolated. Even the poorest have better access to knowledge, health care, wealth opportunities, and technology that their forebears. And the worst problems, overpopulation, habitat and arable land destruction, societal corruption, etc has been significantly addressed by our best societies.

                                                  Blame is not at issue, viable solutions for the whole planet are. Ignoring what is going on in Asia is even more dangerous than ignoring an approaching asteroid on a collision course, and we certainly wouldn't be "to blame" for that event, either.

                                                  Immediate population reduction is not viable. Making the world so free and wealthy that it naturally has a negative population growth rate is viable.

                                                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday August 05 2017, @04:23AM

                                                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday August 05 2017, @04:23AM (#549005)

                                                    It is remarkable how dismissive people are of modern civilization despite several centuries of remarkable progress

                                                    The really remarkable progress seems to have come in the last 100 years, fueled by non-renewable resources. It will be remarkable how unpleasant the end of cheap energy will be.

                                                    And the worst problems, overpopulation, habitat and arable land destruction, societal corruption, etc has been significantly addressed by our best societies.

                                                    Too slowly to save the Titanic from a fatal gash in the hull.

                                                    Making the world so free and wealthy that it naturally has a negative population growth rate is viable.

                                                    Keep wishing, I hope I'm wrong and you're right - I see no evidence in the historical record, even up through yesterday, only rosy predictions from people with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

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