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  1. #1 War deaths 
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    Statistics on Violent Conflict | P.a.p.-Blog // Human Rights Etc.

    Estimating the number of people who die each year in war is always a bit controversial. Different methods yield different results. However, the reference above gives reasonably expert estimates.

    Death in war has been dropping. During the cold war (1950 to 1989), global deaths were of the order of 150,000 per year, with substantial variation from year to year (a big peak around 1970 for the Vietnam War). In the 1990's it dropped to around 100,000 per year, and since 2000 it has been about 55,000 per year.

    It has also been estimated that such war deaths are only half the story. For each combattant death, there is one civilian death.

    But anyway, the results look positive, with a drop in war deaths. By comparison, this century, murders run at a little under 500,000 per year globally. Suicides at about a million per year.

    While admitting that these figures will always be subject to debate, does this seem to you guys to be a cause for optimism?


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    I guess that's good. Although I don't know what the world will do with itself once it reaches the point of universal peace. The economy will probably still suck in most places. There will probably still be a lot of oppression. People just won't be taking up arms to fight about it anymore.


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    Mother nature will solve this problem with climate change.
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    Mathman

    If you are talking of population growth, you should be aware that this is already dropping massively. Current fertility 2.4 children per woman globally, down from 5.5 about fifty years ago. There is no need for any killing off by Mother Nature, who I agree is a ruthless bitch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Mathman

    If you are talking of population growth, you should be aware that this is already dropping massively. Current fertility 2.4 children per woman globally, down from 5.5 about fifty years ago. There is no need for any killing off by Mother Nature, who I agree is a ruthless bitch.
    Although the growth rate is declining, it is still positive. Unless the world leaders are willing to do something drastic, the CO2 will continue to increase with all the consequences, starting with losing lots of land area due to rising sea level.
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    Mathman

    Fertiity is dropping. United Nations forecast it will be 2.0 in 2050, which is less than replacement rate.

    Global warming and its consequences are another issue.
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    Just because we haven't had a major war for a few decades doesn't mean it won't happen again. It's like waiting for the next Earthquake, we know it's going to happen, we just don't know when it will happen. I'm not trying to be pessimistic here, but human nature being what it is I'd like a little more than a few years with a relatively low death count because of war. We are sort of in a lull between major wars. I do like that I'm living at a time and in a country where war deaths are not very high, but all things change over time and sooner or later we will get very tired of such a large military expense and start cutting back. This in turn will allow more conflict in the world, that could turn into a major regional conflict.

    Climate change may be another topic but if billions of people start running short on food and other resources that are considered necessary for survival. There will be more wars and just maybe another major war.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    Just because we haven't had a major war for a few decades doesn't mean it won't happen again. It's like waiting for the next Earthquake, we know it's going to happen, we just don't know when it will happen. I'm not trying to be pessimistic here, but human nature being what it is I'd like a little more than a few years with a relatively low death count because of war. We are sort of in a lull between major wars. I do like that I'm living at a time and in a country where war deaths are not very high, but all things change over time and sooner or later we will get very tired of such a large military expense and start cutting back. This in turn will allow more conflict in the world, that could turn into a major regional conflict.

    Climate change may be another topic but if billions of people start running short on food and other resources that are considered necessary for survival. There will be more wars and just maybe another major war.
    Unfortunately, this is the more likely scenario. War casualties, like most natural systems is nonlinear. In fact, casualties from interstate war is described by a power law similar to earthquakes. This is called Richardson's law. This means that frequency and intensity have an inverse relationship for war casualties and earthquakes.

    So if we are now measuring fewer casualties from interstate war, then we should expect the next major war to be more severe, not less.

    Both earthquakes and forest fires are nonlinear systems that follow power laws.

    In both of these systems, a tension variable (tension in the earth crust / fuel in the forest) builds up over time and is released in a perturbation at unpredictable times.

    We don't know if there is a "tension variable" involved in interstate war since the cause of war is unknown.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post

    So if we are now measuring fewer casualties from interstate war, then we should expect the next major war to be more severe, not less.
    That is very poor statistics, Dedo.
    We cannot use statistical measures to predict individual events. Besides which, the point is that interstate wars have become very rare. Civil wars are still common, but are small by comparison. Since interstate wars are rare, wer cannot predict when the next will happen, much less how big it will be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post

    So if we are now measuring fewer casualties from interstate war, then we should expect the next major war to be more severe, not less.
    That is very poor statistics, Dedo.
    We cannot use statistical measures to predict individual events. Besides which, the point is that interstate wars have become very rare. Civil wars are still common, but are small by comparison. Since interstate wars are rare, wer cannot predict when the next will happen, much less how big it will be.
    Skeptic:

    You should read something about the natural systems that are described by power laws.

    The most common ones are earthquakes and forest fires.

    The sand pile model is also a common model for computer simulations involving war casualties.

    In each of these systems, some sort of tensor variable is added to the system at some constant rate.

    Then the output / perturbation occurs at some future time that is not predictable.

    However, over time in this model you will expect to see either frequent small perturbations or infrequent large perturbations.

    Thus, if we now see very few small perturbations, then we should see a more severe large perturbation in the future at a time that cannot be predicted exactly.

    However, we can historically examine what has happened in the past to get a reasonable guess of whether we are approaching a time when a perturbation is more likely.
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    Dedo

    I am very aware of power laws. But what I said stands. You cannot use statistics to predict single events.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Dedo

    I am very aware of power laws. But what I said stands. You cannot use statistics to predict single events.
    Then you are making a straw man argument.

    I never said that a single event can be "predicted".

    However, if you have reviewed power law systems then you may have reviewed computer simulations of how these systems work.

    In the simulations, the relevant variables of input to the systems (fuel accumulation in the forest) and ignitions (lighting strikes) are varied to determine the effect.

    If in the real world, events over time resemble what has been done in a simulation, then this gives insight into the "direction" that the world is moving towards.

    Thus, your original question of whether dropping interstate war casualties means war is going away: the answer is no. The answer is no because the system follows a power law. Nuclear weapons should suppress ignitions. Thus, what you are seeing is the expected result of suppressing ignitions.

    Power law systems are not random systems.

    There is cause and effect.

    You are talking as if a known power law system is either a random system or a linear system.

    That view is not correct.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post

    Thus, your original question of whether dropping interstate war casualties means war is going away: the answer is no. The answer is no because the system follows a power law. Nuclear weapons should suppress ignitions. Thus, what you are seeing is the expected result of suppressing ignitions.

    Power law systems are not random systems.

    There is cause and effect.

    You are talking as if a known power law system is either a random system or a linear system.

    That view is not correct.
    What makes you believe that cause for the diminished war casualties has been suppression of ignitions?

    From what I can see, wars are still happening. They're just leaving fewer corpses when they happen. The most recent military action on the part of Russia in Crimea was so very nearly bloodless that I think fewer than 5 people died.

    The situation seems more akin to a forest where no attempt is being made to stop lightning strikes. Instead the undergrowth is being cleared so when an ignition event does happen, the fire doesn't spread very far.
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    "So if we are now measuring fewer casualties from interstate war, then we should expect the next major war to be more severe, not less.

    Dedo,
    I have posted your exact words above.

    That is a clear cut prediction of a single event based on statistics. Not a straw man. And it is wrong. A misuse of statistics.

    The real mistake you make, though, is getting two trends mixed up. One statistical trend, as you pointed out, is a power law (though even that one seems to have fizzled after WWII). However, there is another and quite different trend in progress. Actually two trends.
    1. The number of inter-state wars is dropping, and dropping dramatically.
    2. The death toll is also dropping. Power law notwithstanding, this trend dominates. The power law works up to and including WWII. After that, even in interstate wars, the death toll drops.



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    It's not just less interstate wars are becoming less. It's the players involved. If for instance in a war with Russia or China would quickly become a major world war with millions of deaths. All the major powers like to fence with eachother, see how far they can push and test the willingness to actually go to war. The fact is the US needs to take a break from war, so it's going to take a lot more pushing to get us involved to the extent we were involved for the last 10 years. I would expect more testing, kind of like what is happening now.

    I'd sure hate to see us back in Iraq and or Iran to any extent. But who has a lot to gain if that happens? It's a long list and the pressures are building up. I suppose you could lay odds on possible events happening, but I think it's much like an earthquake, you know it's going to happen, you just can't pin down when it will happen. It might also be similar in that lots of small earthquakes will allow the stresses to release enough pressure to prevent the big one from happening.

    As long as they can keep us in a war we will have to sport a rather large military budget, which causes higher tax & debt rates. The public is getting stretched kind of thin and might be hard pressed to keep putting up with it.

    But war deaths will continue to happen and the numbers will fluctuate over time.
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    The power law has been found to hold at least for European wars for over 400 years.

    Thus, it is unlikely that it has somehow magically gone away after WW II.

    If there was some organized movement that could at least have some theoretical chance of reducing the input to a power law controlled system since WW II, then I would agree that there is at least a reasonable hope that the power law is being broken, and times have changed.

    That is not the case.

    What clearly happened at the end of WW II is the development of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons should suppress ignitions since countries will not want to fight a country armed with nuclear weapons.

    Thus, the system should behave like a simulated power law system where ignitions are suppressed.

    That is bad.
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    Dedo

    Nuclear weapons have little to do with it. There is no indication that nations hesitate to begin hostilities against those with nuclear weapons. Israel, for example, is estimated to have 120 nuclear warheads, any one of which can be fired to hit any middle eastern city. Yet those middle eastern nations have not hesitated to fight Israel. Britain has at least as many, and Argentina invaded a British territory. Kosovo attacks Russians, and any number of hostile nations carry out acts of terrorism against the USA, while France, with all its nuclear warheads was sucked into a war with separatists in Algeria (the separatists won). India and Pakistan both have nuclear weapons, and they go to war against each other frequently. In no case were nuclear weapons a factor. The evidence is clear. Nuclear weapons do not stop inter-state hostilities.

    The reasons why inter-state wars have become less are many, and the ones I can list will be only part of the story. But included in there is global trade, global communications, friendships between people in varying different nations, easy travel between nations, widespread immigration and emmigration and so on. Networks of alliances may also play a part in deterring would-be conquerors. Even the normally impotent United Nations may help, if only by providing a venue where potential enemies may talk. We are also living in an era where the opinion of others has achieved unprecedented importance. When Hitler attacked Poland, it mattered not at all to him that other nations disapproved. Today, such a slur to your reputation is of concern. If I were to summarise, it would be to 'blame' the global village. The world has shrunk, and people 12,000 kms away are no longer faceless strangers. They are friends, trading partners, and humans we talk to.

    But whatever the reason, it is clear that the trends towards war before WWII no longer apply. The world has changed for the better. This is not some statistical fluke. Inter-state wars have been shrinking ever since, over a period of about 70 years. After WWII, the next biggest war was Viet Nam, and there has been nothing anywhere near as bad as that for about 40 years. Today, there are around 70,000 war deaths each year (half of those are deaths in battle), and that is lower than any time over that 70 year period. The term "The Long Peace" is earned.
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    Skeptic:

    That is somewhere between wishful thinking and pure speculation.

    There is an intriguing paragraph in a book called the Psychology of War by LeShan. The author describes the international climate just before the onset of WW I. He notes that trade and travel between nations was at an all time high -- just before the start of the greatest war in human history up to that point.

    There is no basis to think that trade, travel, or a "village" will impede war.

    If there was some growing movement toward altruism, nonviolence, etc., that might be different.

    However, that is not the case.

    Thus, since the power law has held for hundreds of years for several different types of governments, it likely still holds.
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    Dedo

    The cause of the Long Peace is, of course, hard to ascertain. Trade and communications and so on are as likely as any other. As I said before, there may be other causes. However, the key point is that the Long Peace is a reality. Since WWII war deaths have been dropping substantially, and since 2000, they are the lowest level, as a percentage of the population, of any time in recorded history.
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    Well, we know how the last most "peaceful century" ended. Prior to the current "long peace", the 19th Century after the end of the Napoleonic wars has been considered to be relatively peaceful compared to prior centuries.

    Of course, this period ended with WW I.

    We don't know how the current "long peace" will end.

    We know it is theoretically possible to break a power law system by reducing input.

    Unfortunately, since the power law has held for so long, the chance that this has happened by happenstance is unlikely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post

    Thus, your original question of whether dropping interstate war casualties means war is going away: the answer is no. The answer is no because the system follows a power law. Nuclear weapons should suppress ignitions. Thus, what you are seeing is the expected result of suppressing ignitions.

    Power law systems are not random systems.

    There is cause and effect.

    You are talking as if a known power law system is either a random system or a linear system.

    That view is not correct.
    What makes you believe that cause for the diminished war casualties has been suppression of ignitions?

    From what I can see, wars are still happening. They're just leaving fewer corpses when they happen. The most recent military action on the part of Russia in Crimea was so very nearly bloodless that I think fewer than 5 people died.

    The situation seems more akin to a forest where no attempt is being made to stop lightning strikes. Instead the undergrowth is being cleared so when an ignition event does happen, the fire doesn't spread very far.
    That is really the "hundred dollar question".

    Is the current "Long Peace" from suppression of ignitions or from a reduction in "undergrowth".

    If it is from some sort of reduction in undergrowth, then the peace may continue.

    I lean more toward suppression of ignitions because:

    1. There is an obvious reason why ignitions should be suppressed (nuclear weapons).

    2. Unfortunately, we cannot isolate a single conflict in terms of casualties and extrapolate the outcome to the state of the entire international system. Ukraine did not fight back against Russia in the latest conflict because of a massive mismatch in forces.

    3. There is no obvious source for "reducing undergrowth". The proliferation of democracies has been proposed to be a stabilizing effect since WW I. However, there are other political explanations for the relatively peaceful 19th Century that did not prevent WW I / WW II.

    So I hope that you are right.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that this is true.
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    Dedo

    I understand your logic. But I trust you appreciate that such logic must be preceded by the words "If nothing significant changes...."

    Between WWII and the present, all sorts of significant somethings have changed.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Dedo

    Nuclear weapons have little to do with it. There is no indication that nations hesitate to begin hostilities against those with nuclear weapons. Israel, for example, is estimated to have 120 nuclear warheads, any one of which can be fired to hit any middle eastern city. Yet those middle eastern nations have not hesitated to fight Israel. Britain has at least as many, and Argentina invaded a British territory. Kosovo attacks Russians, and any number of hostile nations carry out acts of terrorism against the USA, while France, with all its nuclear warheads was sucked into a war with separatists in Algeria (the separatists won). India and Pakistan both have nuclear weapons, and they go to war against each other frequently. In no case were nuclear weapons a factor. The evidence is clear. Nuclear weapons do not stop inter-state hostilities.

    The reasons why inter-state wars have become less are many, and the ones I can list will be only part of the story. But included in there is global trade, global communications, friendships between people in varying different nations, easy travel between nations, widespread immigration and emmigration and so on. Networks of alliances may also play a part in deterring would-be conquerors. Even the normally impotent United Nations may help, if only by providing a venue where potential enemies may talk. We are also living in an era where the opinion of others has achieved unprecedented importance. When Hitler attacked Poland, it mattered not at all to him that other nations disapproved. Today, such a slur to your reputation is of concern. If I were to summarise, it would be to 'blame' the global village. The world has shrunk, and people 12,000 kms away are no longer faceless strangers. They are friends, trading partners, and humans we talk to.
    Interstate trade is being used as an ignition suppression mechanism. The USA's arrangement with China right now is far from favorable to the USA, and China has little direct financial means of threatening the USA if we were to make changes to fix it in our own favor. So why do we keep rolling over for them?

    The rationale has been that so long as we're trading with them, we don't need to worry about them going to war. They're a nuclear power with less to lose in a confrontation than we have.

    They spend billions trying to steal military secrets. Why? If they really don't plan to ever deploy their military, and they know nobody in the region would ever invade them, then why spend so much trying to improve their tech? Clearly it's so they can win a war of aggression.

    When they reach that point, Taiwan will be their first target. Anyone in Taiwan who resists will be rolled over like the protesters at Tiananmen square.


    But whatever the reason, it is clear that the trends towards war before WWII no longer apply. The world has changed for the better. This is not some statistical fluke. Inter-state wars have been shrinking ever since, over a period of about 70 years. After WWII, the next biggest war was Viet Nam, and there has been nothing anywhere near as bad as that for about 40 years. Today, there are around 70,000 war deaths each year (half of those are deaths in battle), and that is lower than any time over that 70 year period. The term "The Long Peace" is earned.
    You mean it's hopeful that those trends no longer apply. Far from clear.

    Dedo's model predicts there will be lulls in conflict, and that those can easily span decades. And still mean nothing. That's true of earthquakes, volcanos, forest fires - you name it. Why not war?

    We've got three ignition suppression systems in place.

    1) - Nuclear deterrent. This suppression system forces a nation to wait until the cost of not going to war exceeds the cost of a nuclear holocaust. (Or until they find them self in a position where nuclear retaliation is unlikely.) If a nation holds off long enough, under a sufficiently demoralizing economic recession, they could still reach that point and go to war.

    2) - Trade. This is not so much a suppression mechanism as it is a way of draining the powder out of the powder keg before it gets ignited. However it has limitations because a "beggar nation" could continue imposing more and more on the "giver nations" until the giver nations simply get fed up and stop paying their ransom. That would trigger almost immediate response.

    yes.. I know sometimes trade is mutually beneficial, but not in the case of China and only somewhat in the case of Russia (since Russia deals in fossil fuels.) Really the reason we let these countries press us so much is because we're naive enough to think they can be bought off.

    3) - America's technical superiority. The other two superpowers know they couldn't really win a war, regardless of whether they were faced with conditions that made the war a good idea or not.

    This third one is probably the strongest of the three suppression systems. If it ever erodes, we should expect to almost immediately find ourselves in a fight over some bit of land or another.
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    What a horrible pessimism.

    I do not think the raw data supports your pessimism. As I said, the Long Peace is real. There has never in the whole history of humanity (not just recently) been a period in which such a tiny fraction of the global population fell prey to death in battle. And this period is 70 years now and growing. No equivalent period of peace has existed at least as far back as records reach.

    The power law argument applies only if every other factor stays the same. And that patently and obviously is not the case. Developments since WWII have created a very different world. It is different both in terms of technology, and the impact of technology on human welfare, and also different in terms of bringing the world closer together as has never before been seen.

    Nor do I believe your reasons why the USA trades so freely with China. The USA/China trade benefits the USA for the simple reason that it gives the average American access to an abundance of cheap goods. It boosts his standard of living. In that sense we could say that the reason is American greed. But whatever the true cause, there is a wealth of reasons why both the USA and China should avoid any hostility.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Kojax

    What a horrible pessimism.

    I do not think the raw data supports your pessimism. As I said, the Long Peace is real. There has never in the whole history of humanity (not just recently) been a period in which such a tiny fraction of the global population fell prey to death in battle. And this period is 70 years now and growing. No equivalent period of peace has existed at least as far back as records reach.

    The power law argument applies only if every other factor stays the same. And that patently and obviously is not the case. Developments since WWII have created a very different world. It is different both in terms of technology, and the impact of technology on human welfare, and also different in terms of bringing the world closer together as has never before been seen.

    Nor do I believe your reasons why the USA trades so freely with China. The USA/China trade benefits the USA for the simple reason that it gives the average American access to an abundance of cheap goods. It boosts his standard of living. In that sense we could say that the reason is American greed. But whatever the true cause, there is a wealth of reasons why both the USA and China should avoid any hostility.
    I didn't see Kojax's post as all that pessimistic. With humans the reasons for war always remains the same. At the moment the major nations are sharing the resources they prize the most. But cheap oil is being used up. Food could become more scarce, the way we are over fishing the oceans and the climate change will reduce total food out put. Also, fresh water is becoming more of a problem in almost all countries. Now throw in a few arms dealers and greedy corporations, religions and regional politics and stir for good measure and we could have a major war on short notice.
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    Bad robot

    Those are not new. Humanity has always had all those problems. Indeed, most of them are less now than ever. For example, food shortages now are almost always caused by political corruption in the country where the shortage occurs. Not by external causes. And when those shortages occur, there is international aid to mitigate, if not solve the shortage. Overall, the world can easily produce more food than is required.

    No, there is nothing there that is sufficiently different to disturb the long peace. My own view is that Islamic fanaticism is a much more likely cause for war, and even there it is likely to be small wars.
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    War has become a lot less about fielding men, though, and a lot more about technology. Infantry really matters most when it comes to occupation nowadays. Who has the most advanced jets is far more relevant than who has the most people enlisted. It follows that the next war between two major countries will have far lower combatant death tolls than past wars, though likely the same and possibly more civilian casualties depending.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post

    Overall, the world can easily produce more food than is required.
    If that were true, then biodiesel would be seen as a viable alternative to fossil fuel diesel.

    What I think really happens is the nations of the world can pull together when there is a famine that gets a lot of media attention, but individual peasants in countries like India, Thailand, or Zimbabwe die of malnutrition all the time continually without getting media attention, and nobody is seriously looking at making that stop.

    It's kind of like how sometimes a single high profile kidnapping will get media attention in the USA, and thousands of people offering to help, but the hundreds of other missing children are lucky to get their face on a milk carton.

    You must try not to confuse the dog and pony show of the world media with an actual statement of reality.


    No, there is nothing there that is sufficiently different to disturb the long peace. My own view is that Islamic fanaticism is a much more likely cause for war, and even there it is likely to be small wars.
    Islamic fundamentalism is just an expression of widespread discontent by a group of people who happen to have a religion in common. And since it's there, they figure they might as well use that religion as the vehicle by which to express their discontent.

    The discontent is the real powder keg.

    Maybe we should try to buy them off? Pay them tribute? "Protection money"?

    Shall we also pay China off, and pay Russia off, and pay off 10 others too while we're at it? How much money do we think we have?
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    The world is already producing enough food. It is distribution, not total production, that is the problem. The amount of food thrown away in the USA, if distributed to where it was needed, would be enough to raise every man, woman and child in the world to adequate nutrition levels (though not to the obesity generating levels of the west.). The thing that is needed is to develop the impoverished areas so that they have enough money to buy food. If the money is there, the food producers, and the food distributors will make damn sure the food is there to be sold!

    Buying warmongers off is no answer. I think the answer is education and evolution. Societies are already evolving into more peaceful attitudes. That is why major interstate wars seem to be a thing of the past. Even in Muslim nations, more and more of the population are accepting that peace is the preferred option, and terrorism and war is a disaster. Sadly, there is still that minority. Hopefully, time will erode the idiots out of the system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Kojax

    The world is already producing enough food. It is distribution, not total production, that is the problem. The amount of food thrown away in the USA, if distributed to where it was needed, would be enough to raise every man, woman and child in the world to adequate nutrition levels (though not to the obesity generating levels of the west.). The thing that is needed is to develop the impoverished areas so that they have enough money to buy food. If the money is there, the food producers, and the food distributors will make damn sure the food is there to be sold!
    Ok, so there is enough food assuming absolutely perfect waste prevention? And here I had thought you meant that there was *realistically* enough food to feed the world.

    Yes, in a pie in the sky dream world, it would probably be possible for a nation to waste none of its food. Never would a supermarket accidentally order something that doesn't sell by its spoil date. Not once. (Easily possible if they just hire a fortune teller.)


    Buying warmongers off is no answer. I think the answer is education and evolution. Societies are already evolving into more peaceful attitudes. That is why major interstate wars seem to be a thing of the past. Even in Muslim nations, more and more of the population are accepting that peace is the preferred option, and terrorism and war is a disaster. Sadly, there is still that minority. Hopefully, time will erode the idiots out of the system.
    When has peace ever not been the preferred option? What population group on Earth do you think doesn't believe that? Or ever didn't believe that?

    But when your economy collapses, you don't always have much choice. People's children start getting hungry, and there is very little a parent won't do for their child.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    Skeptic:



    There is no basis to think that trade, travel, or a "village" will impede war.

    If there was some growing movement toward altruism, nonviolence, etc., that might be different.
    How about laziness as a world movement? Or just total unwillingness to put up with crazy shit? It's interesting that, especially in North America, when ever we talk about war, we mean sending young guys (not us) off to fight in another country (not ours). We never mean hosting a war, because that would fuck up all our stuff and make it really hard to get back and forth to work, play golf, get to the mall, take the kids to soccer practice, etc. Heck, people get mad when kids cut across their lawn on their bikes. I can't imagine how they'd react if a tank crushed their yard barn.

    The idea of an actual war here seems so unthinkable that we don't in fact think about it. So the maybe the question is, when will it be just as inconceivable in other places and to other people in the world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post

    Dedo's model predicts there will be lulls in conflict, and that those can easily span decades. And still mean nothing. That's true of earthquakes, volcanos, forest fires - you name it. Why not war?
    Reading through the posts, and don't see where the "tension" mechanism has really been explained or proven, which Dedo noted earlier: "We don't know if there is a "tension variable" involved in interstate war since the cause of war is unknown."

    War may have just been a strategy that paid off in the past, and not the result of unstoppable tension that inevitably builds and must be released. When war or violence stops paying off, humans switch to a different strategy. The only thing that created the lulls in the past was exhaustion and attrition, but this may not be true today. The cause of this long stretch of peace is more likely that for most countries, it's not a good strategy. It's expensive, unpleasant, and time consuming.
    Last edited by DianeG; June 19th, 2014 at 08:32 PM.
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    'Realistically' there is enough food to feed the world. As I said before, all that is needed is a way for the poor to earn money to buy food. If the money is there, the food will quickly follow. Even in the poorest sub-Saharan African nations, food supply can readily be increased. A number of experts have estimated that production per acre over much of Africa can be doubled or tripled with more capital input and better farming methods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Kojax

    'Realistically' there is enough food to feed the world. As I said before, all that is needed is a way for the poor to earn money to buy food. If the money is there, the food will quickly follow. Even in the poorest sub-Saharan African nations, food supply can readily be increased. A number of experts have estimated that production per acre over much of Africa can be doubled or tripled with more capital input and better farming methods.
    Interesting link below.

    Where Will The World's Water Conflicts Erupt? [Infographic] | Popular Science
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    To bad robot

    Yes, it is clear that there are problems with fresh water supply. However, what we should not forget is that there have always been those problems. As we progress into the future, we find better ways of managing water, but we also develop more and more need for water. Will we ever catch up? Who knows.

    But there are ways of using water more efficiently, and growing more food with less water. Traditional irrigation methods are wasteful. Better methods are available, and can make an enormous difference. I guess it boils down to what I said before. With enough money, anything is possible. If people cannot earn money, they suffer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    To bad robot

    Yes, it is clear that there are problems with fresh water supply. However, what we should not forget is that there have always been those problems. As we progress into the future, we find better ways of managing water, but we also develop more and more need for water. Will we ever catch up? Who knows.

    But there are ways of using water more efficiently, and growing more food with less water. Traditional irrigation methods are wasteful. Better methods are available, and can make an enormous difference. I guess it boils down to what I said before. With enough money, anything is possible. If people cannot earn money, they suffer.
    Yes there is always a big difference between what we can do and what we are willing to do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Kojax

    What a horrible pessimism.

    I do not think the raw data supports your pessimism. As I said, the Long Peace is real. There has never in the whole history of humanity (not just recently) been a period in which such a tiny fraction of the global population fell prey to death in battle. And this period is 70 years now and growing. No equivalent period of peace has existed at least as far back as records reach.
    I agree.

    I find any claim of significant peace before WWI rather ridiculous as well, unless your entire view of the world actually means just England and France--even much of Europe including Crimea, Turkey and other places were in nearly non stop war, and it gets even worse if you leave Europe.

    There's also little compatibility between the economic connection and interdependence of the early 20th century and the early 21th century, very few of the things we consume or use don't depend on a global network of commerce to provide all the widgets and consumables to build or grow those items. Nor were there any robust international communications forums, organizations or expertise to reduce or mitigate regional crisis before they inflamed into full conflict.

    While I draw a weary eye towards the rapid growth of other nations that don't share Western values of independence and liberty, I think full on large scale conflicts are less likely than at any recent time. Regional conflicts might well continue but less often.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Kojax

    'Realistically' there is enough food to feed the world. As I said before, all that is needed is a way for the poor to earn money to buy food. If the money is there, the food will quickly follow. Even in the poorest sub-Saharan African nations, food supply can readily be increased. A number of experts have estimated that production per acre over much of Africa can be doubled or tripled with more capital input and better farming methods.

    Oh you mean in Africa. Yeah. There is a lot of untapped agricultural potential in Africa. But the reason it is not tapped is mostly not money. It's political unrest.

    American factory farming corporations would gladly go in there, set up their factory farms, and hire the local population to work those farms for a pittance (but still enough to buy food) if they thought there was any chance the local governments would let them operate uninterrupted.

    There is one caveat on that, which is American farm subsidies. Sometimes it actually is cheaper to grow certain products, like corn, in the USA because the government pays enough in subsidies to cover the additional costs, and then some. I wouldn't mind seeing those subsidies cut back. Republicans are always belly aching about wellfare, Obama Care, and "big government" - right up until someone mentions the corn subsidy, lol. Then they change the subject.


    However the idea that the "poor need money" to buy food is absurd. It is born of the most naive ignorance about economics. What is needed is a greater supply of food in the first place. If all you do is give out more money, but you don't produce more goods and services (in this case food), then all that you get is inflation. It makes no difference that we are only talking about one product because the product has no possible substitutes.
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    I was not talking of 'giving out money'. Such policies are short sighted and largely ineffectual. In poor nations, what is needed is ways for the poor to earn money. This is, of course, already happening to a large extent. Western corporations move their production and some services to poorer nations where labour is cheap. This is seen as exploitation, but the exploited workers do not starve. Local enterprises, of course, are even more desirable.

    If the money is there, the food production will increase, food distribution will improve, and where needed, food imports will grow. This is basic economics.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post

    Dedo's model predicts there will be lulls in conflict, and that those can easily span decades. And still mean nothing. That's true of earthquakes, volcanos, forest fires - you name it. Why not war?
    Reading through the posts, and don't see where the "tension" mechanism has really been explained or proven, which Dedo noted earlier: "We don't know if there is a "tension variable" involved in interstate war since the cause of war is unknown."

    War may have just been a strategy that paid off in the past, and not the result of unstoppable tension that inevitably builds and must be released. When war or violence stops paying off, humans switch to a different strategy. The only thing that created the lulls in the past was exhaustion and attrition, but this may not be true today. The cause of this long stretch of peace is more likely that for most countries, it's not a good strategy. It's expensive, unpleasant, and time consuming.
    The power law is an inverse statistical relationship between frequency and intensity. Systems that follow a power law are not random systems. Thus, over time, if intensity and frequency both fall then you should expect a severe event of high intensity (or lots of low intensity) events in the future.

    Natural systems that follow a power law include earthquakes and forest fires. A common computer model for a power law is the sand pile model where sand is released onto the table, and avalanches occur at unpredictable times. The avalanches will generally be small and frequent, or big and rare.

    The power law has been shown to hold for European wars for hundreds of years through vast political and economic changes. Thus, to believe that the power law is now gone is not based on evidence other than speculation.

    A power law can be broken in models.
    Last edited by dedo; June 21st, 2014 at 08:01 PM.
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    Dedo

    As I told you before, models such as power laws depend on built in assumptions. The key assumption in this case is that no significant factor affecting the outcome has changed. When such factors change, so do the predictions you can make based on the power law.

    In this case, major factors have changed, and changed beyond recognition. Thus, the predictions become invalid. The last great war was WWII. Will there be another great war of that magnitude? Well, the causative factors leading to WWII are all altered. For example, there is no longer the aggressive rivalry between nations in Europe. We have the EEC instead, and countries working together. On a broader front, we have massively improved travel and communcation between nations world wide. This changes the equation drastically.

    You can not look at the history of war before, and leading up to WWII, and use that history to make predictions about future wars. The world today is a very different place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post

    If the money is there, the food production will increase, food distribution will improve, and where needed, food imports will grow. This is basic economics.
    It is true that, if African economies picked up, they would start to build infrastructure. And distribution networks would get set up.


    The part about food imports is a bit of an issue, though. If African countries were making money and buying food, then the world's food resources would be further strained, and food prices would go up globally.

    This effect has been seen in the oil industry, where the spread of industrialization throughout the world has contributed to a global rise in the price of oil. Also steel, for that matter.

    There is absolutely no reason at all to think that a spread in purchasing power of poorer nations would not have an identical effect on the food market. It's a resource-limited industry just like oil. You can't have more farms than you have arable land on which to place them.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Dedo

    As I told you before, models such as power laws depend on built in assumptions. The key assumption in this case is that no significant factor affecting the outcome has changed. When such factors change, so do the predictions you can make based on the power law.

    In this case, major factors have changed, and changed beyond recognition. Thus, the predictions become invalid. The last great war was WWII. Will there be another great war of that magnitude? Well, the causative factors leading to WWII are all altered. For example, there is no longer the aggressive rivalry between nations in Europe. We have the EEC instead, and countries working together. On a broader front, we have massively improved travel and communcation between nations world wide. This changes the equation drastically.

    You can not look at the history of war before, and leading up to WWII, and use that history to make predictions about future wars. The world today is a very different place.
    Rivalry between EUROPEAN nations is down. Sure.

    But rivalry between the USA and China and Russia is higher than it ever had been prior to WW2. If all you're looking at is one set of nations, then you're ignoring most of the potential flash points. Europe is gradually merging into one super nation, but China and Russia are getting more bold.

    During the late 90's Russia would never have dared to annex territory from Ukraine. It was often mentioned in discussions about the politics of the region that Russia desired to do so, but nobody back then would have thought they'd really go and do it.




    Now.... isn't all of this familiar? Wasn't there a territory near Germany that was considered to be ethnically German, but officially the land was held by Poland? And I'm sure nobody thought Germany would ever be so bold as to actually Annex it. Even after they did, nobody thought they'd take another. (Which is why Neville Chamberlain is so very unfondly remembered.)
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    Both China and Russia are not just linked, but bound to the west by essential trade. Both would suffer badly if there was hostility instead of friendly trade. Russia annexed the Crimea by a backwards approach - with the Crimean people themselves opting for it. The splintering of the Ukraine is only partly due to Russia. It seems to be mainly driven by internal friction. Russia is being very careful not to do anything that constitutes invasion.
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    I'd also add that by historical standards, the annexation of Crimea was nearly bloodless and a product people's choice--and that too is cutting back dramatically on death tolls.
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    The nazi Germany comparison is a bit of a stretch, but you are right in that we should definitely keep both eyes on Russia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    The power law is an inverse statistical relationship between frequency and intensity. Systems that follow a power law are not random systems. Thus, over time, if intensity and frequency both fall then you should expect a severe event of high intensity (or lots of low intensity) events in the future.

    Natural systems that follow a power law include earthquakes and forest fires. A common computer model for a power law is the sand pile model where sand is released onto the table, and avalanches occur at unpredictable times. The avalanches will generally be small and frequent, or big and rare.

    The power law has been shown to hold for European wars for hundreds of years through vast political and economic changes. Thus, to believe that the power law is now gone is not based on evidence other than speculation.
    You seem to be saying "If it looks like a duck..." But with earthquakes, forest fires and sand hills, you can point to the actual identifiable, measurable forces that cause these events. You can demonstrate the mechanism behind your power law. That is what seems to be missing in the application of it to war.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Kojax

    Both China and Russia are not just linked, but bound to the west by essential trade.
    You mean by tribute.

    The USA doesn't need to trade with China -.... and really doesn't even benefit from trade with China. Some corporations certainly benefit, and they own a few politicians, but the American economy as a whole mostly loses out in the deal.

    As for Russia, they really don't trade that much with the USA, but they do trade with Europe (and Europe trades a lot with the USA. ) In the natural gas industry the USA and Russia are competitors (which is basically Russia's whole economy, together with oil.)

    The problem with "trade" as a barrier to war is the balance of concessions can start shifting. You end up making more and more unfavorable arrangements just to appease the poorer beggar nation. And the beggar nation doesn't want to be a beggar nation. They'd like to be able to demand.


    Both would suffer badly if there was hostility instead of friendly trade. Russia annexed the Crimea by a backwards approach - with the Crimean people themselves opting for it.
    We're told they opted for it. Hard to say how much real public discussion there was with so many armed gunmen walking around, but it was probably mostly on a level.

    And it was certainly well played. A lot more subtle than Germany's annexation of Sudetenland in WW2.



    The splintering of the Ukraine is only partly due to Russia. It seems to be mainly driven by internal friction. Russia is being very careful not to do anything that constitutes invasion.
    Lol. They're pretending to be careful, and trying to position themselves in a manner so they can claim to be "forced into it" if and when an invasion actually occurs.

    The probable likelihood is they will invade, just as soon as the rest of the world gets over being irritated by the annexing of Crimea. The reason is straightforward economics. Crimea does not have the infrastructure to sustain itself without support from Ukraine's mainland. Annexing it would be economically Ruinous if they don't plan to take most of Eastern Ukraine with it.
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