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Thread: Overpopulation & Climate Change

  1. #1 Overpopulation & Climate Change 
    Time Lord zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Topic came up when a friend said they were driving to New York City to catch a plane to Florida where they would board a cruise ship heading to Bermuda, all in a 24 hr period. At first we were critical of travel industry’s contribution to CO2 emissions and how often a scenario like this is repeated. Eventually we worked our way to overpopulation’s role in climate change. Seems obvious to me that more drivers means more emissions. Looked up an article…..

    https://populationconnection.org/res...rce%20regions.


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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  3. #2  
    Forum Ph.D. Double Helix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Topic came up when a friend said they were driving to New York City to catch a plane to Florida where they would board a cruise ship heading to Bermuda, all in a 24 hr period. At first we were critical of travel industry’s contribution to CO2 emissions and how often a scenario like this is repeated. Eventually we worked our way to overpopulation’s role in climate change. Seems obvious to me that more drivers means more emissions. Looked up an article…..

    https://populationconnection.org/res...rce%20regions.
    One of the worst parts about increasing population is that most of the increases are coming in developing nations, and these typically have the worst living conditions and infrastructure. And they are all going to want to live like the rest of us, with lots of electricity to run all the frigs and AC units and TVs, etc. Can't blame them for wanting a decent life.

    The big problem is that most of these countries cannot afford green energy sources, and are likely to build more and more coal fired power plants, with all of their wonderful emissions.

    There seems little to be done about it.


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    Forum Ph.D. Double Helix's Avatar
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    An article in ScienceDirect offers an extensive review on the funding of coal-fired power plants, and their emissions (1). The data is from the last few years, but still represents an accurate picture of the problems in weening countries from their use of this ghastly energy source. An article in The Guardian details some of these issues as well (2).

    One of the emissions from these plants which is often not noted as a serious problem is mercury, and some other nasty substances. But mercury is one of the worst of these emissions, and some would say worse even than all the CO2.

    Mercury is converted in the environment to methylmercury, a highly toxic cumulative neurotoxin which is appearing in ever greater levels in wild foods, particularly seafood. People should limit intake of certain fish and larger animals to minimize its buildup, but it is only getting worse as more coal is being burned in places where the mercury isn't scrubbed, or from coal mine fires raging in some areas of the world.

    While more developed countries scrub mercury, many others do not, leading coal-fired plants to release as much as 45% of the global mercury output (3).



    "Why do some countries receive more international financing for coal-fired power plants than renewables? Influencing factors in 23 countries"

    1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...73082621001484



    "Too many new coal-fired plants planned for 1.5C climate goal, report concludes"

    2. https://www.theguardian.com/environm...port-concludes



    "Appropriate scenarios for mercury emission control from coal-fired power plant in Thailand: emissions and ambient concentrations analysis"

    3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...05844020310410
    Last edited by Double Helix; August 31st, 2022 at 10:37 AM.
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    Population control cannot fix global warming except by depopulation. Fossil fuels are more than 3/4 of the connection between population and global warming (land use making up the rest), but that connection is broken by making our principle energy zero emissions. Sure, twice as many people using fossil fuels will double energy emissions and half as many will halve them but to get to zero that way means depopulating the Earth, whereas twice as many people using zero emissions energy will reduce the problem down to that of land use. A lot of the land use emissions can be reduced too.

    I fully support maximizing availability of contraception but reduced population, whilst making it a bit easier still doesn't fix the climate problem. Not a case of that or reducing emissions by shifting to green energy but of doing both. We still have to aim for solutions that work for the population we have and expect to have. And population we expect to have - projections/predictions - already includes ever greater availability of contraception.

    At it's worst - as arguments used to oppose strong climate policy - framing climate as a population problem leads to some unhelpful and dangerous conclusions like that all efforts to fix it apart from population control are pointless or that tyrannical control over people's lives is necessary to be effective or that just supporting strong climate policies must inevitably lead to - is a "slippery slope" - to global tyranny. I think it will be failure to address the problem head on that is more likely to lead to tyranny - not globally imposed, but regionally and nation by nation as mismanagement and blameshifting and climate induced crises lead to conflict.
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