FRIHOST • FORUMS • SEARCH • FAQ • TOS • BLOGS • COMPETITIONS
You are invited to Log in or Register a free Frihost Account!


Antinatalism





loremar
What is your position?

Or does it depend on the situation? like for example, my family have a history of schizophrenia, autism, periodic paralysis, and personality disorders and it would be wrong that someone(or its family) have a difficult life because I took the risk. Or is it not wrong if you'd provide it an environment conducive to happy life in that a tragic life would be something out of the blue? Or is that something out of the blue enough to say that making babies is immoral?

Or is it even something to talk about considering that we're talking about non-existent people or that because it's not possible to estimate its happiness/unhappiness outcome or that that person is the only person who can decide if avoiding tragedy outweighs giving chance to happiness but it's impossible to ask that person's opinion because that person doesn't exist?

I'm kinda leaning/tending to lean to antinatalism. My reason is that birth would only be not bad if not living is bad and not living isn't really bad so why bother risk. That or maybe I'm just too lazy or dumb to google answers and I know you people are smarter than me so..... thus I ask.



(there goes my 2 hrs typing that yay)
Peterssidan
I think not born/dead is neutral from that person's point of view, because he/she doesn't exists. Living can be positive or negative depending on how well the person is feeling. This also applies to animals.

We have a huge problem with overpopulation today. A lot of problems could be by reducing the human population. Environment problems, and less people to share the planet's resources should mean everyone could be able to have something for free. A piece of land and so... Instead of stacking people on top of each other and force them to work if they don't want it to get worse.

I'm not a fan of calling things immoral and putting it on each person's conscience. It's unfair because only the persons that care about it have to pay the price and the careless doesn't have to pay anything. I think it's much better to make it a law, like China's one child policy, but it has to be fair. If the law doesn't apply to all people or you can pay your way around it it's not fair.
Afaceinthematrix
Humans have done some amazing things and there have been some amazing humans. Imagine a world where Sir Isaac Newton never existed. More humans means a better chance of solving current problems.

However, I certainly don't object to the idea that some people very simply should not have children. There are some moral and philosophical objections to forced vasectomies/tube tying for people who have proven that they are incapable of properly raising children. However, I do admire the idea of "I would be a crappy parent ergo I'm not having children." That is one reason why I support abortion. I would rather someone not have a child than have one that they cannot raise.

Therefore, I will not embrace or accept extreme antinatalism - such as the idea of voluntarily leading to the extinction of the human race. This would actually be quite detrimental to the humans that currently live. When I'm too old to work, I expect younger people to be around to do the work necessary for society. Also, responsible people raising children to study and go into academia increases the odds that I will not have to die in 55 years like life expectancy suggests (I'm 24 and current life expectancy in the U.S. is around 79). More people means a higher chance of discovering life saving cures that may allow me to comfortably live to be 100 (I don't want to live if it's not comfortable).

However, I do accept the less extreme form of antinatlism that suggests that some people are quite simply not capable of properly raising children and so therefore should voluntarily not have children (and I wish that I could convince myself morally that the government has the right to medically prevent these people from having children but I cannot).

Also, when it comes to not having children because of genetic reasons, science is even close to stopping that. I truly believe that genetic engineers/biologists are close to being able to stop these things before the child is even born. The technology may come to where you can even choose which phenotype genetic traits you pass on (if you and your spouse both carry recessive genes for blonde hair, you can choose to have your child be a blonde). Genetic engineering is doing some amazing things. I occasionally even wish that I had gone into that field instead of mathematics.
Indi
loremar wrote:
Or is it even something to talk about considering that we're talking about non-existent people or that because it's not possible to estimate its happiness/unhappiness outcome or that that person is the only person who can decide if avoiding tragedy outweighs giving chance to happiness but it's impossible to ask that person's opinion because that person doesn't exist?

I'm kinda leaning/tending to lean to antinatalism. My reason is that birth would only be not bad if not living is bad and not living isn't really bad so why bother risk.

I think the obvious rebuttal to that is "bad according to whom?"

Seems to me the only person capable of declaring whether living a life is good or bad is the person living it. And we can't know their position until they've lived enough to make a decision and are able to articulate it.

Unless and until we have the technology to look into potential futures then change them, there is no way we can possibly know whether we're doing someone a favour by not birthing them... quite the contrary they may ultimately decide that we would have been very wrong to never give them a life to enjoy. And, frankly, if we have that kind of technology, surely we can find a way to avoid/prevent whatever it was that made that person's life so bad they preferred simply not having it.

So it seems to me that "antinatalism" really just boils down to another case of people unilaterally deciding what's good for other people, without bothering to ask for or even caring about their opinions on the matter.
Afaceinthematrix
The antinatalism arguments that I have heard have nothing to do with the individual; in fact, they're pretty anti-human (well duh, I guess). I have heard ones having to do with extreme environmentalism. That is why I gave counterexamples in that you need humans to solve these problems (as well as improving the lives of future humans through advancement in technologies).

So I don't think it's always the case of people "unilaterally deciding what's good for other people." At least as far as the arguments that I have heard.

I suppose there is a point in that people are ruining the natural environment. But in order to argue antinatlism as a valid solution to this problem, you'd first have to answer the following questions:

1) So what? Why is natural better? Why is the environment worth saving?

2) Is antinatlism the best solution?

I don't think either are too hard to argue. For (1), humans rely on natural resources ergo we need to preserve at least some of them. We should look for renewable resources because unrenewable energy dependence will eventually screw human beings over when they're gone. For (2), it may be a lot tricker. As I have done, I'd argue against that in that you can have human beings living on this planet without screwing up the environment but to accomplish that you need human intelligence - which requires intelligent and innovated people to be born.
LxGoodies
@Afaceinthematrix you seem to imply that (smart) humans are needed to save the environment. I tend to disagree.. when humanity would go extinct, the "environment" will restore itself from a (or some) disastrous starting point that we helped to create. Humans are not needed to save or restore anything.

afaceinthematrix wrote:
Why is the environment worth saving?

There is a funny paradox in this question and the topic.. suppose humans would assign value to the environment and reach the conclusion, that voluntary human extinction would be the only way to save the environment, who will judge the value of the environment after that has happened ? Thinking the other way around: the environment is worth saving, because we depend on it. But is that really so .. what if humanity would attempt to survive in a Star-Trek like context, which is completely artificial ? We would not need "an environment" at all.
Indi
I can't really say much about whether environmentally-based arguments for antinatalism are sound without hearing the arguments themselves in detail. But i wonder if they aren't a case of mistaking the trees for the forest.

The way i see it, there are two kinds of antinatalism: strong antinatalism and weak antinatalism. Strong antinatalism is the idea that all human birth always is bad. An example of that would be the kind of moral argument i responded to above, where you'd argue that bringing a person into a world where they might suffer without asking their opinion is immoral, thus giving birth, period, is immoral. I find that position completely absurd, because even if you accept the premisses (which is a stretch on its own), you're assuming the person's choice - assuming they could make it - wouldn't be to exist regardless of the suffering.

But weak antinatalism is different. Weak antinatalism would be the idea that it isn't inherently wrong to create new people... it's just wrong in specific cases (because of things like there are more people than the world can support). In other words, if we could - hypothetically - infinitely duplicate the Earth into different universes, all identical to this one except with no humans, then we could breed as much as we please, because there would always be plenty of room and resources, and there would always be plenty of "untainted" Earths.

I don't have a problem with weak antinatalism (though, personally, i wouldn't call it "antinatalism" at all, because it's not birth itself you have a problem with, it's overpopulation, or environmental strain, or whatever). I don't think there's a fundamental right to breed. If a society determines that the population is growing too large to support, i don't see any problem with restricting breeding. (The only problem, in such a situation, is how to determine who can breed and when. But that's an entirely different issue.)

I would agree with Afaceinthematrix in (1): yes, the environment is definitely worth saving (though, with qualifications: no, natural is not better, and if it necessary to sacrifice or destroy natural resources for responsible human purposes, then fine - no part of the environment that cannot be trivially restored should be destroyed unless there's a damn good reason to). However i disagree with the reasoning of (2): there is no reason we can't live more sustainably and still live pretty damn well, and we don't need any more (human) resources to figure that out... at least half the world is doing it right now; what we need is either political will or some kind of revolution to change the status quo. It's not a matter of us needing some new magical idea or technology to fix things, it's simply a matter of us doing what the vast majority of us already damn well know we have to do.

I don't see breeding as fundamentally different from any other human pursuit. It shouldn't be restricted without a damn good reason, but once you've got a damn good reason, then hell yes restrict it (because you've got a damn good reason to). Right now we don't have a good reason to do it, on a global scale at least - the problems that people say should be fixed by restricting breeding are much better solved by other means.
Afaceinthematrix
Indi wrote:
I can't really say much about whether environmentally-based arguments for antinatalism are sound without hearing the arguments themselves in detail. But i wonder if they aren't a case of mistaking the trees for the forest.


I don't know how much more in detail the arguments go than "people are screwing the environment up ergo we should get rid of people." They then show a few graphs correlating population vs pollution (or climate, deforestation, whatever). I've never read this book but I have a friend who read it once and we discussed the book. The wikipedia article gives a pretty good description. This book suggests numerous way to associate birth with negative consequences (taxes on children being one of them).

Although now I see that you do not consider this to be antinatalism at all. That is debateable and I understand your point.

Quote:
However i disagree with the reasoning of (2): there is no reason we can't live more sustainably and still live pretty damn well, and we don't need any more (human) resources to figure that out... at least half the world is doing it right now; what we need is either political will or some kind of revolution to change the status quo. It's not a matter of us needing some new magical idea or technology to fix things, it's simply a matter of us doing what the vast majority of us already damn well know we have to do.


I don't think that we can live fully sustainably with our current technology while continuing to have an economy and some of the luxeries that we are used to. Solar power is still not as efficient as it could be (and solar panels do take resources to make) and we are not fully energy independent. And let's say that every city did have a subway that was powered by wind or solar, there's still the fact that you cannot use the subway for every energy purpose (fire trucks, ambulances, etc.). There are some pretty cool things being invented. I've watched some recent documentaries on cool new inventions. But the future isn't there.

There's also the other related point that I brought up is that people have to be born not only for inventing and engineering these things but to do the work to make them (or do ALL work). Unless we get the technology within the next couple of decades to make us immortal and comfortable for the forseable future, people are going to retire or die. This includes sustainability. Yeah, the nature world would be better off without people but that seem like a crappy decision to me.

Quote:

@Afaceinthematrix you seem to imply that (smart) humans are needed to save the environment. I tend to disagree.. when humanity would go extinct, the "environment" will restore itself from a (or some) disastrous starting point that we helped to create. Humans are not needed to save or restore anything.


Sure... If humanity went extinct the environment would be better off. But what species desires extinction for their kind? I don't. Most people don't desire humans to go extinct. If we want to fix the environment while keeping the human race going, then we need smart people.
LxGoodies
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
But the future isn't there.


It is clear we did not reach the point. Nor the disaster event, nor the solution for it has popped up sofar. We are still able to reflect and comment on this issue, in a rational way. War has not reached us, we can plug in our computers and comment on an international forum about these things.

Quote:
There's also the other related point that I brought up is that people have to be born not only for inventing and engineering these things but to do the work to make them (or do ALL work)
Quote:
Most people don't desire humans to go extinct. If we want to fix the environment while keeping the human race going, then we need smart people.

I doubt if your wondrous technological, worked out solution, invented by smart people, will be there in time.. Fusion ITER was postponed to 2025.. solar cells waste rare earths, wind energy is too large an investment for a lot of countries..

Indi wrote:
there is no reason we can't live more sustainably and still live pretty damn well, and we don't need any more (human) resources to figure that out... at least half the world is doing it right now; what we need is either political will

Ok, I agree people do their best, but your "half the world" accepting the obvious - we agree about - seems very optimistic.. and who do you count ? While our John Doe did put his responsable solar cells on his home roof, he still travels to work by car and (over-)consumes precious energy.. there are no signs this message is received and understood worldwide. Today, any growth of the economy is still applauded ! e.g. when the China car industry grows 6.8 % in three months, it "could do better". Bizar. I would say 20% of the western world has concerns, 2% changed something about their lives. 0.2% joined Greenpeace as a donater, 0.0001 % is an active member. For the other people.. "saving the environment" implies a doomsday prophecy they don't wanna read about.

It's inconvenient.. to talk economic shrink.. like the concept of antinatalism, is inconvenient. Of course no one wants mankind to go completely extinct.. but I think it would be wise, to attempt a mild flavour of Marxism, combined with some of these new-Malthusian principles and implement measures.. world wide ! Before it is too late.. do both
Afaceinthematrix
LxGoodies wrote:

I doubt if your wondrous technological, worked out solution, invented by smart people, will be there in time.. Fusion ITER was postponed to 2025.. solar cells waste rare earths, wind energy is too large an investment for a lot of countries..


We could easily have complete solutions "in time" if we made better decisions today. A few years of tough change (behavior change is probably the toughest thing that human beings have to deal with) would drastically improve our planet. There are so many solutions to simple problems but people simply don't care and there is little incentive for politicians - who are important in guiding this change - to care. How many people will elect a politician who wants to actively make the next few years tougher?

On a side note, I saw a documentary on television the other day about these dudes from San Diego, CA who built a high-power motorcycle. It was a pretty sick bike and they were driving it pretty fast (which, in my opinion, is the only way to drive a motorcycle). This bike was powered by some sort of algae. These people were showing their setup for producing the fuel. A few small cells in a petri dish and before you know it, they have tons of biomass without the same issues that come from other sorts of biofuel. If the government cared an ounce about the future, this technology could be applied within the next decade. The issue is that most politicians don't look past getting elected next term.
http://www.algaeindustrymagazine.com/algae-fueled-motorcycle-sets-speed-record/


Quote:

It's inconvenient.. to talk economic shrink.. like the concept of antinatalism, is inconvenient. Of course no one wants mankind to go completely extinct.. but I think it would be wise, to attempt a mild flavour of Marxism, combined with some of these new-Malthusian principles and implement measures.. world wide ! Before it is too late.. do both


The issue is that there is less urgency than you think (and that I thought up until about a year ago when I started researching this and read a few books). Birth rates are dramatically decreasing. Here is a chart of historic birth rates, current birth rates, and projected birth rates:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_rate

If people contribute towards the future, we should be able to create a pretty awesome future.
Indi
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I don't know how much more in detail the arguments go than "people are screwing the environment up ergo we should get rid of people." They then show a few graphs correlating population vs pollution (or climate, deforestation, whatever).

I would seriously hope there's more to it than that. Because otherwise those arguments would be mind-numbingly idiotic. I mean, the obvious rebuttal is that people are part of the environment, so if you're pro-exterminating people that means you're pro-extinction... which seems a rather odd position to have if you're supposed to be pro-environmental preservation. I have to assume there's a better argument made in that book or others like it; i'm not keen on assuming people are morons until they've proven it so.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Although now I see that you do not consider this to be antinatalism at all. That is debateable and I understand your point.

Well... sorta.

More precisely, what i say is that it depends on what your goal is - what it is you're trying to accomplish. That means that two people who sound the same superficially may fall on different sides of the divide.

Someone who doesn't really want to exterminate humanity but wants to preserve the environment, yet has done some reasoning and concluded that the best way to preserve the environment is to exterminate humanity is not antinatalist. They're an environmental extremist. Their goal is environmental preservation, not antinatalism - getting rid of humans is just a means to the end they want. In theory, if you can prove that it's possible to preserve the environment without exterminating humanity, they will accept that and stop advocating for it.

Someone who likes the idea of exterminating humanity and realizes that, hey, "saving the environment" is a good excuse for it is antinatalist. Their goal is not really environmental preservation, though they may be all for it, but it provides just one more bit of justification for why humans should die off. They will probably also try other arguments, like the "is it moral to birth people that might suffer" angle. In theory, if you can prove that it's possible to preserve the environment without exterminating humanity, they will just shrug that off and look for another excuse.

I'm presuming that people who make the environmental argument are being honest - i generally assume people are honest unless there's a reason to doubt them - which means that they fall into the first category, and they're not antinatalist. But if they're not - if they really are just misanthropes who are using the environmental argument because it's handy - then they would be antinatalist.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I don't think that we can live fully sustainably with our current technology while continuing to have an economy and some of the luxeries that we are used to. Solar power is still not as efficient as it could be (and solar panels do take resources to make) and we are not fully energy independent. And let's say that every city did have a subway that was powered by wind or solar, there's still the fact that you cannot use the subway for every energy purpose (fire trucks, ambulances, etc.). There are some pretty cool things being invented. I've watched some recent documentaries on cool new inventions. But the future isn't there.

There's also the other related point that I brought up is that people have to be born not only for inventing and engineering these things but to do the work to make them (or do ALL work). Unless we get the technology within the next couple of decades to make us immortal and comfortable for the forseable future, people are going to retire or die. This includes sustainability. Yeah, the nature world would be better off without people but that seem like a crappy decision to me.

The key phrase there is "while continuing to have an economy and some of the luxeries that we are used to". I never said nor implied that would be possible - in fact, i explicitly said the opposite: around half the world is doing it wrong (and chances are pretty good we both live in that half).

But most countries in the world are not exceeding their environmental footprint. Granted, a few of those are complete, poverty-ridden hellholes... but not all. I grew up in a country that had a very small environmental footprint, and frankly, it wasn't really that bad a life. I mean, it was nothing like Canada, where everyone lives in fortress-like mansions, has two cars in the driveway (and uses them even to go to the corner store), puts out three or four large bags of trash a week, etc. etc.. It was nothing like that, and the average Canadian would probably call it "living in poverty", but we really weren't. We were really quite comfortable - we had everything we needed and we had plenty of luxuries. I never felt "poor" or "disadvantaged", and never had any notion that my life wasn't luxurious until i came to Canada and saw what life was like in a really rich country.

So it's very possible to live quite comfortably within your ecological limit. But you don't even need to take my word for it - just crunch the numbers.

I've seen current estimates that we are currently using somewhere from 1.5-1.7 times the Earth's capacity. That means that if every single human on Earth reduced their environmental footprint by half, we'd be fine. Of course, huge chunks of humankind can't do that - they're already struggling - but there are billions who can trivially do it by a factor of four and not even notice any difference, and some can do it by factors of six to ten without massive changes in their lifestyles. The truth is that only a small proportion of humans are the problem - recently there was an Oxfam report that less than 100 people own half the world's resources. So all we need to do is rein in the top 10% of humanity, and we'll make an enormous difference, probably enough to tip us well back into sustainability.

At the same time, of course, we will have to raise the standard of living of the poorest in the world, so it won't all be gains... but even that won't be all cost. Because people who live better breed less - if we eliminated poverty worldwide, we'd probably be a huge chunk of the way toward population sustainability. And it turns out that educated people use resources much more efficiently than uneducated, so there will be gains there, too.

Note that nowhere have i made any references to futuristic or theoretical technologies - we could do this today. Hell, we could have done it with Victorian levels of technology, if we'd only had the will. But even though our energy demands now are much higher, we also have much more efficient and cleaner ways of producing it. If we were really hungry for power, we could just build nuclear stations everywhere, but frankly we're not that much in an energy deficit. We'll need a few, sure, but green energy would take us quite a long way.

For example, suppose Canada decided to use some of its ABUNDANT space to make a huge green energy farm - solar panels and windmills, which could be built with minimal impact to the surrounding environment. Let's be crazy and say they built a solar farm the size of Texas. Even if you assume insolation is only 500 W/mē (which is low), that's over 250 TERAWATTS of power. Even if you assume the solar panels are only 15% efficient, you're still talking over 40 TW. The entire world right now uses only ~15 TW. And i just crunched the numbers for solar - didn't even consider wind, hydro, or anything else that could be done on the same area of land.

Obviously i'm not advocating doing anything like that (it would be much smarter to build much smaller power farms, much closer to where the power is used - ideally pretty much every building should be energy independent, which is not as ridiculous as you'd think), but that illustrates that we are not starving for resources. We do not need to be digging up dirty fuels from far off lands - where we have to kill to get what we want - and burning them. We're not being dirty and wasteful and unsustainable now because we have to... we're being dirty and wasteful and unsustainable because no-one is standing up and stopping us.

The problem is not technology, it's will. Political will, cultural will - because we've all bought into this consumer culture bullshit - just will. We can be a perfectly ecologically sustainable species if we got serious about it, today. If we got serious and really put effort into a program to clean up our act, we could be energy neutral within 5 years, easy, and within 20 we could have changed so much that we're improving the environment rather than destroying it (and those aren't ridiculous estimates, because it took that long for some countries to become industrialized and polluting). And the vast majority of humanity wouldn't even notice... but the richest 25%, which almost certainly includes everyone on these forums, we're going to have to make some breaking changes. Though, truth be told, we won't be giving up all that much.
LxGoodies
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
There are so many solutions to simple problems but people simply don't care and there is little incentive for politicians - who are important in guiding this change - to care. How many people will elect a politician who wants to actively make the next few years tougher?

I agree that is exactly the problem. But I doubt it will be easy.. that is, when you want to achieve something relevant. Despite this "established the first official algae-fueled motorcycle speed record" of 94 MpH you cited, I don't see how biomass fuel production (of any kind) can be scaled up sufficiently, to provide every Chinese with a motorcycle.

Quote:
Quote:
It's inconvenient.. to talk economic shrink.. like the concept of antinatalism, is inconvenient. Of course no one wants mankind to go completely extinct.. but I think it would be wise, to attempt a mild flavour of Marxism, combined with some of these new-Malthusian principles and implement measures.. world wide ! Before it is too late.. do both


The issue is that there is less urgency than you think (and that I thought up until about a year ago when I started researching this and read a few books). Birth rates are dramatically decreasing. Here is a chart of historic birth rates, current birth rates, and projected birth rates:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birth_rate

Birth rate is not the only factor. With rising prosperity, populations tend to grow despite the lower birth rate. Life expectancy goes up.

For the world, it looks like this.. until 2050, population will grow. Below vertical axis is set to logarithmic, the actual gradient is still quite.. large..



Solid line: medium variant. Shaded region: low to high variant. Dashed line: constant-fertility variant.

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

When nothing is changing, the 10e9 people count will be reached somewhere around 2040. Only in Europe, population is decreasing on the long term.
Afaceinthematrix
I do agree that there are very significant changes that we could make right now if there was a political will. However, I do not agree that we have enough technology to be completely sustainable at this time. There are still may things that need to be addressed.

We could make the majority of transportation public: based on subways or trains that are powered by a sustainable energy source. However, amulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, etc. cannot rely on these. A police officer can not chase a suspect by relying on the subway system. There's also the fact that some places are very challenging to build these things. I've talked to some geologists and land surveyers in charge of proposed California High Speed Rail (which is receiving nothing but criticism from the political right and the majority of California, by land mass, is Republican). They're having serious difficulty with the small fact that we have four major fault lines in Southern California alone and that we're constantly moving. I cannot remember the time frame but eventually LA will be where SF is at.

Plus, even if everything is solar or hydroelectric, there's still the fact that you have to hold the energy and batteries are messy. Also, maintanence and repair on panels and dams uses natural resources (miniscule, but my point is that we cannot yet achieve 100% sustainability).

There's also the fact that population will probably grow for the next 40 years and feeding our population right now is an issue (we need to improve food distribution). Some more research into GMOs can probably solve many of these issues.

We could almost do it now but I simply cannot see a solution to every single problem at this moment.
Indi
Afaceinthematrix wrote:
I do agree that there are very significant changes that we could make right now if there was a political will. However, I do not agree that we have enough technology to be completely sustainable at this time.

I'm totally baffled that you don't believe that. "Don't have enough technology to be sustainable"? I'm scratching my head here. We were able to live sustainably in the Middle Ages... hell, we were living quite sustainably as far back as the paleolithic. "Not having enough technology" obviously isn't the problem here. It's how we're using the technology we have.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
We could make the majority of transportation public: based on subways or trains that are powered by a sustainable energy source. However, amulances, fire trucks, police vehicles, etc. cannot rely on these. A police officer can not chase a suspect by relying on the subway system.

"Sustainable" does not mean "totally and completely non-polluting at all". It just means that the amount of damage we're doing is less than or equal to (preferably less than) the capability of the ecosystem to absorb and repair. Even if it were totally impossible for police/fire/ambulance to use actually clean technologies (which, of course, they could totally do - seriously, why can't police cars be battery-backup solar/electric?), it really wouldn't be that big a deal to just bite the bullet and let them use gas-powered cars... the total polluting output of all police cars, fire engines, and ambulances in the entire world really won't even make a dent in the ecosystem. Meanwhile, removing the other 99% of cars from the roads and replacing them with clean transport would make a phenomenal difference.

In general, we can pollute quite a bit, just so long as the rate we're damaging the ecosystem is less than its recovery rate. So for those technologies that pollute but that we desperately need, we can still have them. In the worst case scenario, we would just have to factor clean up and repair costs in. Thing is, the vast majority of the polluting we do is utterly unnecessary, and there is certainly no interest in taking clean up or repair costs seriously. That has to change.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
There's also the fact that some places are very challenging to build these things. I've talked to some geologists and land surveyers in charge of proposed California High Speed Rail (which is receiving nothing but criticism from the political right and the majority of California, by land mass, is Republican). They're having serious difficulty with the small fact that we have four major fault lines in Southern California alone and that we're constantly moving. I cannot remember the time frame but eventually LA will be where SF is at.

If rail is a bad solution for that area, use another solution. Dude, they've managed to build clean mass transit systems in the Himalayas. Where there's a will, there's a way. "It's hard" does not equal "it's impossible".

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
Plus, even if everything is solar or hydroelectric, there's still the fact that you have to hold the energy and batteries are messy. Also, maintanence and repair on panels and dams uses natural resources (miniscule, but my point is that we cannot yet achieve 100% sustainability).

Denmark is already putting this nay-saying to rest. Denmark currently gets something like 40% (and rising) of its power from wind, phasing out coal as it rises. It actually has an energy surplus - meaning it sells excess energy it creates to other countries. Now, of course, sometimes the wind drops and/or demand rises, to the point that Denmark's wind farms can't supply enough power. When that happens they import energy from other countries, such as Norway and Sweden... who use hydroelectric heavily. (They also import other forms of electricity, like nuclear and coal, but the coal numbers are dropping every year.) They have a neat symbiotic relationship - when Denmark is generating lots of wind power, Norway and Sweden spin down their hydro generators and pump water into high-potential storage areas (basically, "batteries", storing power as hydraulic potential)... when Denmark isn't generating lots of wind power, they spin up their hydro plants and take up the slack. So much for messy batteries. There are several cities and islands in the area that are either planning to be carbon neutral in the next decade, or are boasting that they already are.

To put it bluntly, your point is wrong. We can achieve 100% sustainability most places in the world. That we haven't is not a matter of technical failing, but a failing of will. The cooperative between Denmark, Sweden, and Norway have proven that it is possible to build a stable, clean power generation infrastructure. You just use wind and solar when the wind and sun are high, and use the surplus to store energy - either as pumped-water storage, thermal storage, or hydrogen production (note, no messy chemical batteries) - and use that stored energy to supplement when necessary. It does work... it is working right now, in Europe, and though it is still under half the total power generation, that's changing quickly, and there's certainly no technical reason it couldn't be 100%.

And for all that, i've left out a vitally important part of the equation. I've only talked about national (or multinational) scale power generation. While that alone could solve the problem in theory, the real key to phasing out fossil fuels is small-scale power generation and management. Right now, in most places, buildings and houses are built horribly - they are designed to suck energy and bleed it out at an alarming rate. But change is happening... slowly. Houses are being designed much more energy efficient, and some are now generating their own power (using solar or wind or both) - in fact, some are not only energy-neutral, they're energy producers, and the homeowners make some extra cash by selling the surplus back to the grid. If just ~10% of buildings were energy neutral or almost energy neutral (let alone energy producing) - which is not ridiculous - it would radically reduce the amount of power needed in general, and make the entire grid more efficient, and more stable.

Let me stress, nothing of what i've mentioned requires technologies that don't exist or that aren't well tested and widely used. They do require radical changes in how we design and build houses and power distribution infrastructure. But that just requires the will to change, not some grand new technology.

Afaceinthematrix wrote:
There's also the fact that population will probably grow for the next 40 years and feeding our population right now is an issue (we need to improve food distribution). Some more research into GMOs can probably solve many of these issues.

Feeding the existing population isn't really that big a deal. I don't know where you got your facts, but the reality is that we already produce enough food to feed everyone... and then some. I've seen estimates that the amount of food we produce is enough to feed 1.5 times the current global population - we could feed 10 billion people today.

So what gives? Why do people starve when we overproduce food by so much? Well, the problem is absurd amounts of waste. We do some incredibly stupid things with the food we produce. We produce food that is absurdly wasteful, like beef. We ship food all around the world for no good reason other than to have stores stocked with variety. And we pay farmers to just let food rot.

Once again, it's not an issue of technology. It's a behavioural problem. We already have all the technology we need to feed the world (and half again over)... and we're not even trying all that hard. There are foods we'll need to give up - like beef - and foods we'll need to learn to eat - like more sea food, or perhaps insects. If we changed our behaviours, no one would starve on Earth.

──────────────────────────────────────────────────

The bottom line is that you're looking at the problem all wrong. It's obviously wrong that we're technologically incapable of living sustainably, because we were doing just that for the vast majority of human history - it is only in the last 200 years or so that we've been unsustainable. The lack of technology clearly isn't the problem.

In theory, if we were truly serious about living sustainably and it was completely impossible to do so using modern technology, we could simply go back to living like we did 300 years ago (modulo certain sustainable changes, like better hygiene, etc.). It is possible, so saying it's not because we're missing some key, magic technology is just flat-out wrong. We could, for example, simply start with where we are and begin removing post-industrial-revolution technologies and practices one-by-one until we're sustainable again - it wouldn't be pleasant, but it is possible.

Of course, it isn't true that it's impossible to live sustainably while living in a more-or-less modern style. We do have to give some things up, yes, but surprisingly little... mostly what we need to do is be smarter and more efficient about the things we do. If it's true that we're using 1.7 times the Earth's capacity, all we need to do is increase our efficiency by 70%... which in many areas is not that hard to do at all (for example, dropping carbon production by 70% is trivial... we could drop it by 700% without much effort even).
Related topics
Reply to topic    Frihost Forum Index -> Lifestyle and News -> Philosophy and Religion

FRIHOST HOME | FAQ | TOS | ABOUT US | CONTACT US | SITE MAP
© 2005-2011 Frihost, forums powered by phpBB.