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"Happy" Earth Overshoot Day

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Winner, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    Pretty much like the media sometimes mark the "tax freedom" day, i.e. the hypothetical end of the part of year you "work for the state" (calculated from the percentage of your income the government collects on taxes), today we mark the "Earth Overshoot Day".

    What does it mean?

    Well, it means that if right now we stopped consuming all renewable and non-renewable resources for the rest of this year, we might just give the planet a chance to regenerate what we've taken up to now. But since we can't and won't, we're now overdrawing Earth's resources, meaning we are living unsustainably.

    The first time humanity globally 'overshot' Earth's ability to recover losses was 1986 - which to me is significant because I was only 1 year old at the time. The world population then was 4.9 billion. Now it's over 7 billion.

    Each passing year, we're overdrawing Earth's resources more and more and the date keeps being pushed back. I can't imagine how this could possibly end badly for us...
     
  2. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Warlord

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    Thought this was about asteroids. :sad:

    I am suspicious of the methodology behind this, to say the least.
     
  3. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    Turns out we don't need an asteroid to ruin this planet; we're doing a pretty decent job of it on our own.
     
  4. hobbsyoyo

    hobbsyoyo Warlord

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    So what data are they using to quantify this claim?
     
  5. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    Explore the site, it's pretty well documented (and far too complicated for the purpose of any in-depth discussion here on CFC).

    I wanted to mention it here so that people perhaps stop for a few seconds and thing about environmental stuff. It's not a fringe, hippie thing any longer, it's mainstream. I personally was pretty sceptical about all things green until a couple years ago, when I started doing some reading which pretty much opened my eyes to the enormous problem we face.
     
  6. peter grimes

    peter grimes ... Moderator

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    Thanks for posting this. I think it's important for all of us to keep these things I'm mind every day.

    The older I've gotten, the more conscious I've become of both large and small behaviors / lifestyle choices of mine. I'm at the point now where I get very frustrated visiting my parents and others of their generation - their homes glow with the fire of a thousand suns, televisions blazing away in rooms that haven't been occupied in hours :shake:

    Living in a city with passable public transit makes it much easier to lower my carbon and resource impact. Eating meat only a couple of times a week helps, too.

    That said, there's a LOT more we (my wife and little daughter) need to do.

    We have a car, and we put about 8k miles on it every year. Half of that is driving within the city, where we'll be lucky to get 15 mpg. That has to change. I try to be aware that every drop of gasoline that we use is irreplaceable. That mind set really does help us keep the needless trips lower than otherwise.

    We waste water. We are absolutely shamelessly profligate. Sometimes I run the shower for 10 minutes waiting for the water to heat up. If we didn't rent, I'd consider putting in a preheating tank and gray water recovery system for the whole building.

    I'd also love to do a green roof with solar supplement.

    We use the clothes dryer in the basement, but I finally rigged up a laundry line so hopefully we'll rely on the machine less.

    At work, I waste a lot of material and our building doesn't really recycle. This is a tough issue, and to be honest I've kind of given up on the work component of my personal impact.

    Feel free to try buy reinspire me :please:
     
  7. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    There is absolutely no chance in hell that people will do enough soon enough to stop exhaustion of resources and catastrophic climate change. It's far too late, and it's hard enough without having large and powerful interest groups and segments of the population rejecting the very existence of the threat, the science behind it, and science itself. Time to brace for impact.
     
  8. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    That's a major problem indeed.

    I wonder if the Easter islanders had something like "deforestation deniers" arguing that cutting down forests faster than they regrow isn't a major problem, and even if it was true that forests were disappearing, it had nothing to do with logging.
     
  9. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an increase in crime and terrorism from people like the Inuit and the Maldivans whose homes and ways of life are going underwater due to this "nonexistent" threat. Inuit pirates hijacking oil supertankers that travel the new Northwest Passage would make interesting fiction.
     
  10. DemonicAppleGuY

    DemonicAppleGuY Chieftain

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    Considering it would take a highly controlled economy and worldwide cooperation to "unnaturally" solve the ecological crisis, we will have to count on "natural" economic forces to save humanity.

    The end of fossil fuels will likely arrive sometime this century. If Global Warming doesn't "get us" before then, we'll be fine.

    I think the most interesting prospect is space-based solar power. This is an extremely long time away however. Unless someone can somehow convince the DoD to split the bill to pick up the pace on research. That could speed it up a little possibly.
     
  11. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    I heard some statistic we need a couple of Earths to sustain our way of life at the moment.

    Zeus I'm glad I don't have kids. Else I'd be worried.
     
  12. peter grimes

    peter grimes ... Moderator

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    Spaced based solar is only, what, 10,000 times more expensive than earth based? :lol:

    And, for what it's worth, I'll bet that the end of *cheap* fossil fuels is already here. Tar sands extraction is economically viable, as is re-tapping spent wells, deep water exploration, etc. These are all signs that the easy pickings have be plucked, the resource is harder to extract, in more remote locations, and less pure. Cheap oil is over. Every single liter you use brings all of humanity one liter closer to the last economically feasibly extracted liter.


    aww, crap!
     

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  13. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    Oh great! Thanks a bunch! :(
     
  14. DemonicAppleGuY

    DemonicAppleGuY Chieftain

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    We're talking decades away if we're lucky p:

    Call me a dreamer.

    Oh yes, by "end" I meant this. Earth-based solar (Nothing else can really compete currently or in the near-future I think) may very well be cheaper than fossil fuels in a few short years.
     
  15. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    Yeah, while any specific 'day' would be impossible to prove, it's pretty reasonable to believe that our current rate of consumption is unsustainable and depleting natural ecological capital. Some people believe that technology will save us. This might be true, it certainly seems possible, but we don't actually know if the technology is arriving fast enough.

    If there's a trend towards degradation and a trend of progress, then it's a question of which trend will dominate. To me, the obvious answer is to try to affect each trend. I don't think the energy companies are investing in R&D as much as people think: British Petroleum only spends about 5% of their revenue on R&D, for example. The trick is to turn each 'unit' of ecological capital into as much human progress as possible. The other trick is to deliberately reduce the impact of negative lifestyle choices, to slow the degradation.

    One trend will dominate: we can only nudge one way or the other.
     
  16. Eukaryote

    Eukaryote Chieftain

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    I really dislike that slogan: "we can't just trust that technology will save us."

    That slogan makes two mistakes. The first is that it sees technology as one thing, when the truth is technology is a very broad category of things. It is a strawman argument to decry technology as a false magic bullet because technology is not a magic bullet, it is a magic arsenal. Painting all technological change with the same brush is just as absurd as painting all social change with the same brush.

    The second mistake is that technology is not some mystical force that is coming to help us from outside. Technology is something created and harnessed by our society. Technological change is as legitimate a part of our society's phenotype as is social change.

    The slogan "we can't just trust that technology will save us," effectively creates a double standard. It implies that social change is a broad, diverse set of things that our society purposefully uses for the betterment of mankind, while implying that technology is a magical, uniform force invading us from Mars.
     
  17. DemonicAppleGuY

    DemonicAppleGuY Chieftain

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    Well said.
     
  18. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    So what do you do with the 10 minutes' worth of water that isn't hot enough for you? Do you catch and save it for something else (ie. watering plants or washing the floor), or do you just let it literally go down the drain?

    I'm not allowed to use a clothesline here - at least not outside on the balcony, where one would actually work. :rolleyes:

    Then do your own personal recycling program. Have a container handy for paper to go to recycling, and for other recyclable things you no longer need. All it takes is one person inspiring the co-workers, and next thing you know, you just might get a recycling program in your place of work.

    And if you have a Freecycle group in your city, use it. I've gotten rid of a couple of dozen boxes just this past month (I tend to accumulate them due to Amazon, Mary Maxim, and eBay purchases). Freecycle's ultimate mandate is to keep usable stuff out of the landfill - even stuff that you wouldn't think of normally, like egg cartons (somebody asked for them the other day, to help out the local Food Bank), or old raggedy clothes or blankets - after being washed, they do fine for dog blankets. I tend to move a lot of packing paper, not only for people who are moving, but for mothers and teachers wanting paper for kids to draw on, or to protect the tables from kids' painting projects.

    Excellent points. We also need to keep in mind that technology does not necessarily mean electronics or huge metal machines. Technology is as simple as a crow using a thin twig to poke at a tasty bug that it otherwise would have trouble reaching.

    Technology comes in many forms. It's the right technology we need, and to use it in the right way.
     
  19. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

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    I think you're reading too much into what El_Machinae said.

    You see, whenever environmentalists, economists, climatologists, or simply people with some insight into how the global society works say things like "we're exhausting resources faster than they regenerate" and "peak oil is occurring now and the fuel situation is going to get worse from now on", a whole bunch of people ALWAYS reply to that with wishful thinking arguments like "ah, but we'll figure out cold fusion and we'll be okay" or "space solar powah!" or "shale oil!" or "nanotechnology!" or any number of things which share one feature - invocation of technology as the magic bullet to solve our problems.

    So really, if there are people who treat technology as magic, it's the naive techno-optimists.

    The reality to the matter is that with most new technologies come new challenges. For example, pinning one's hopes on shale oil and tar sands requires one to ignore the huge environmental costs of these new mining technologies, and their low EROEI. The second is particularly important because it is the root of the problem.

    It's not that technology cannot and will not unlock new ways of harnessing energy. The issues are - can it do it fast enough? Will there be unforeseen problems? What about the environmental impact? What's the energy return on energy invested? Can this really replace oil/gas/coal on a global scale? How expensive will it be to integrate into our existing economic structure? Doesn't this new technology require use of some other kind of a limited resource (rare earth elements, too much water, plastics made of oil, and so on)? Etc. etc. etc.

    Therefore, a certain level of healthy scepticism and an appraisal of the possible challenges are a must have. If people dismiss the problem with a reference to a "magic" technology or technologies which "in the future" will solve all our environmental and energy problems, they are living in a fantasy world. Historically, that has never happened and it's not likely to ever happen.

    Wait wait wait, what? :eek:
     
  20. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    That's how it is with some rental companies: They think it spoils the "aesthetics" of the place to have peoples' clothes drying on the balcony. I can see the point of view that who wants to look at other peoples' underwear flapping in the breeze, but the fact is that practically nobody here has to look at anyone else's balcony anyway - due to how the building is constructed and how the balconies are situated, you can't see anyone else's balcony unless you're completely outside the building. So it's the view from across the parking lot they're actually protecting.

    In the meantime, I have a laundry card I have to keep topped up from either my bank account or credit card if I want to wash and dry my clothes onsite, and the dryers don't usually dry the clothes completely with just one cycle. It's a nice little racket they've got going here... :mad:
     

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