Wednesday, June 01, 2005

this is not your beautiful die-off

I would like my readers to take part in an informal poll on what the population of the earth will end up at in the near term. This is not specifically a peak oil question, I am just curious. Just vote in the comments section. And add any comments to describe your thinking, and whether you think this is a good or a bad thing.

You can vote as many times as you like. It won't affect a thing. Votes for a lower population than we presently have will not be construed by the management of this blog as being a vote for genocide.

Timescale, next 200 years.

a) The population of Earth will grow exponentially.
b) Population will top out between 9 and 20 billion.
c) Population will top out between 6 and 9 billion.
d) Population will fall to between 3 and 6 billion.
e) Population will fall to between 500 million and 3 billion
f) Population less than 500 million.

Thanks for all the votes; feel free to keep going. Some time next week I have some thoughts I'll wrap up. In general, most people I talk to are pessimistic even if they are completely seperated from the concept of peak oil or overshoot. Kind of a gut thing.


At 8:17 PM, June 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 3:47 AM, June 02, 2005, Blogger Big Gav said...

200 years is a long time, so estimates are really wild guesses, but I'll vote for (D), in the hope that population growth goes back under replacement rate and population gently declines.

At 5:42 AM, June 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

E or F.

F -> somehow humanity/the planet is wiped out.

E -> Without some form of energy production magic, the sun will become the main driver of energy and the population will drop back to what the sun can input. The E numbers seem to be what the echo chambers reflect.

At 6:04 AM, June 02, 2005, Blogger Luis Rocha said...

I vote for D. I hope we have smooth decline trougth this century. Collapse of our civilization is iminent. By the next century it could fall even further it's hard to say. I just hope we humans learn our lesson, and start a civilization built on respect to nature as to ourselves. I also hope we look back in the future and really feel guilty for what we've done, because we really risked the lifes of our sons with our horrific industrial, war monger, hipocritical society. I am sure we have never been so close to extinction, but we will survive.

At 11:07 AM, June 02, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:10 AM, June 02, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

My vote goes for E. Ultimately we must live off of the Sun's bounty (with a dash of Geothermal thrown in when appropriate). If we can keep collective cool heads over the matter, we could transition down slowly to the 500M-3B figure. Otherwise nature will implement it for us. I just hope we can keep some trappings of the good that civilization has brought us. Envision a steady-state economic paradigm that stresses sustainability, localism and a high quality of life lived simply.

If we figure out how to tap into the full extent of coal deposits or clathrates, we will fry or suffocate in a miserable, methane induced extinction. Cockroaches will inherit the earth and 200M years from now we will be the oil that powers their civiliztion.

At 12:58 PM, June 02, 2005, Blogger Matt said...

E. I think that a combo of disease, starvation, warfare, and collapse will take it's toll, but that we won't go down to hunter/gatherer levels. I think we'll be able to use some of our remaining technology to restart.

At 1:29 PM, June 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My vote goes for F.
It sounds kind of wild. Maybe.
Less than one out of ten. That's my guess.

Those who survive the famine, deseases, wars and all kind of tensions will be the less stressed. Those who are the more open to change.

I do not believe in smooth decline. The growth was so quick, so uncontrolled. The structures, the systems are so fragile and dependent from each other.

500.000 sounds a good number. Isn't it the world population before the exploitation of fossil energies ?

At 4:52 PM, June 02, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

Let's take the devil's advocate postion for a moment. Get on your Sci-Fi caps and visors and take a gander into our future and see what will happen if we humans stumble on to a free energy (any source, you take your pick). This form is extra good because it is non-polluting so we can use as much as we want without mucking things up.

So without energy to worry about, how big could we grow in population?

Well, if we keep the same lifespan assumptions and growth rates as today (1.4% per year)in 200 years we will grow to...


103 Billion people.
By that year (2205) our population will be increasing by 1.4B per *year*. Unless we have spread out to the stars (which is doable with limitless energy-look at Star Trek or Star Wars)and colonize any inhabitable rock, this planet will be gettin might crowded.

The optimists will be proud. "See. Malthus was wrong. Lynch was right"
Technology and the markets provided. First free energy, then desalinized water, then vertical farming ( see for more on this one ) then nanotech and so on.

We will eventually have to leave the planet at some point. Less than 200 years after that in 2367 we will hit the one trillion mark.

Won't it be glorious?

At 5:34 PM, June 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

9 billion plus (A). I absolutely believe in mankinds ability to eek out a pathetic and miserable existence with little to no shelter and with even less food and potable water. The diseased and pollution contaminated masses will still find ways to crank out a half dozen kids only to watch half of them die off when famine and weather extremes reach their worst.

At 6:55 PM, June 03, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

yep...half of half a dozen is still population growth. Three surviving kids is still above the replacement rate.

At 4:10 PM, June 05, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

E or F.

populotion may rise to 8 billion but it will fall

At 5:49 AM, June 07, 2005, Anonymous Agric said...

Between C and E but 200 years is too far off to predict. Current population is about 6.45 bn and projected to reach about 9 bn by 2050. I expect a major reduction in population to between 1 and 4 bn well before 2050, probably by 2030, and beginning before 2010.

Thereafter I hope we adopt more sustainable policies which allow us to grow up and become more responsible before our population re-grows too much. In 200 years we may well be back to between 5 and 10 bn.

Peak oil is highly likely to occur sometime between now and 2010, probably about 2007 / 2008, and since we have done almost nothing to prepare it will hit pretty hard. The more imminent start of the Great Global Depression (commences by quarter 1 2006 in USA) will delay some of peak oil's impact but add its own problems.

Once the USA realises its free lunch is over, that present economic reality has ended and that China will be the dominant economic power within 20 years, I fear how it will behave.


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