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Depopulate . . . or perish

By Harquebus

The overpopulation problem is one that never seems to be discussed by our misleaders politicians and misinformers journalists. It is time for these shirkers them to face up to their responsibilities and address this very real threat that is ‘population overshoot’.

It is only recently in the history of humankind that our numbers have been able to increase so dramatically. From an estimated 1 billion at the turn of the 19th century to the several billion that we have now, the increase has been truly spectacular. The main factors that have enabled this increase are sanitation, modern medicine, and modern agriculture.

With increased survival rates and the ability to feed the growing hordes, we have flourished in a world of natural abundance and surplus. Unfortunately, that world of abundance and surplus is no more. We have consumed most of it and are now entering a new era dubbed ‘the anthropocene’ along with our planet’s sixth mass extinction event.

When once trees regrew faster than we could chop them down, now we have destroyed all but two of the world’s large natural forests. When once our fish catch was limited by the number of fisherman, now it is limited by the pace at which fish can reproduce and most global fisheries have either been destroyed or are in terminal decline. Minerals and fossil fuels were abundant and obtaining them was relatively easy, now we dig and drill kilometers into the Earth’s crust to obtain them.

If our numbers continue to increase, the raping and pillaging of the natural world will continue until all that is needed to sustain us is either destroyed, poisoned or so difficult to obtain that doing so becomes pointless. And it will accelerate.

There are two main factors that contribute to this destruction: the number of people, and per capita consumption. One way or another, per capita consumption is going to decrease. The natural world on which we depend just can not support the current rate of consumption and survive. As crude oil depletes – and it will – the agricultural revolution that has fed us will collapse and there goes most of the population. No more will we be able to drive to the shops to purchase our daily needs and even if we could, there will be nothing there.

Do you want future generations to live with extreme hunger and poverty? A world where every man, woman and child scrambles and fights for every scrap that hasn’t already been consumed. In some places this has already begun. Would it not be better to reduce our numbers voluntarily, conserve what precious resources remain and give the natural world time to recover? Future generations must be owed at least this much.

Without voluntary population reduction and control, make no mistake, the natural world will do it for us . . . and it will not be pretty.

We have reached the limits. It is now time to face this reality and abandon the growth ideology or face an unimaginable horror in a world that has become increasingly hostile for us and the natural world that sustains us.

How we reduced populations voluntarily is another debate. Bringing this subject to the front of public discourse is the first priority and hopefully, this submission will help towards that aim. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

“Ecological reductionism begins with the true insight that humans and markets are not exempt from the laws of nature.” — Herman Daly.


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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well done Harquebus. While what you say makes much sense, how do we go about voluntarily reducing our populations?

    I suppose I can see in third world countries, birth numbers are often tied in with lack of education, so if education levels are increased the birthrates would decrease.

    However, I’m not sure if that applies in first world countries like ours.

  2. Peter F

    ‘One for Australia’ as our wonderful coalition treasurer Peter Costello said as he handed out cash . . . .

    I repeat : TREASURER.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Well done, H’.

    I’d like to know what the solutions are.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Well written Harquebus. Now go that extra step and make some suggestions on what can be done.

  5. townsvilleblog

    Harquebus.who would have thought you and I would ever agree on anything but on this basic principle of a population policy control legislation, I do agree. Australia has a sustainable population of 22 million people, as we are the driest inhabited continent on Earth.

    Already we are 2 million people overstocked, we have some responsible Australians who are limiting their families to either 1,2 or 3 children, though we have others who are having 10-12 children and hoping the taxpayer (the ole’ working slave on $43,000 p.a.) to pay for their children, which can no longer be done.

    In the 21st century “all” countries should be legislating for a family to have no more than 3 children, and if they do, then at the birth of the fourth child, any government benefits that flow to that family should cease immediately.

  6. townsvilleblog

    Birth control technology has advanced to such a stage that there is very little chance of becoming pregnant if you don’t want to be. Religions, and other factors will need to be waylaid in the interests of the survival of the human race, so we in Australia must legislate for a limit of three children, no argument, no exemptions.

  7. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    As the proud mother of four good, intelligent citizens, I would support a tax-incentive based approach to birth control rather than draconian legislation. I can visualise circumstances where people would be prepared to forego their desire for a fourth child, if they could receive a benefit, instead of the threat of a penalty.

  8. Kaye Lee

    I very much hesitate to use legislation in this area and history has shown it may not be necessary. Fertility rates drop significantly when people are lifted out of poverty. Large families were insurance in the old days where infant mortality was much higher and they needed more hands to help with the work and more children to look after them in old age. In a society that provides a safety net for the elderly, this is no longer necessary. We no longer have to work the fields to subsist. We employ people to assist us.

    Educating girls makes an enormous difference in that they delay having children. We must stop child brides. We must keep girls in school. All of these things naturally slow population growth.

    And religions have to change their attitude to reproduction.

  9. Mark Needham

    Religion is the first thing that must be sorted. God, according to the Pope, doesn’t like us putting our eggs in a plastic baggie. ( Bit hard to sort out, whether this is fact, or just a , “We prefer you didn’t” )

    But you all know what I mean. Breeding under religious law, seems to be a , “Breed at all costs”.

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith “education”. Yep, that seems to be the key, which envelops the whole spectrum, of factors ( and the factors are MANY) that are involved.

    Education, so that people will voluntarily do, that which is beneficial, and not be forced, compelled or punished for non-compliance.. It must come from within.

    Vas cut and stitched,
    Mark Needham

  10. Harquebus

    Thank you those who have responded so far.

    The solution is population reduction. How we go about it is the question and a contentious one that, I was hoping to avoid at this time. My intention at this stage is to try and put this issue ahead of growth that is currently at top of most politicians wish list.

    Kaye Lee has suggested some in her article.

    Obviously, education and contraception would have to be high on the list but, in my opinion, it is the abandonment of the growth ideology that can make the single biggest difference. I know this is just a generality but, at the moment it is the best that I can offer.

    While we pursue economic growth, no population reduction strategy will succeed. Perhaps economic contraction in itself will produce the desired outcome.

    All suggestions are welcome and appreciated.


  11. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    if you want to argue economic contraction, I would like you to explore fair economic distribution to go hand in hand with it.

  12. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    As long is it does not involve fiat currencies.

    I have to shoot off for a while and will address additional comments later today.

    Thanks again to all for your participation.


  13. cornlegend

    “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”

    ― Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

  14. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Fair income distribution is imperative whatever economic thinking is involved.

  15. Deanna Jones

    Thank you Harquebus. Where do you see issues such as sexual assault and reproductive rights, easy access to safe and affordable abortion etc. sitting within the broader discussion of population reduction? Around half of all pregnancies are unplanned even with the contraception that some women are able to access so it’s probably not realistic to look to birth control as the answer. I’m also sceptical about whether education plays as large a role as we’re led to believe.

  16. David

    The Georgia Guidestones in US have a very clear message about world population reduction. However, any discussion of these options rings alarm bells of conspiracy theory. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Bilderberg group and the UN 2030 program have all been discussing the population issue, and options for humanity. One option I would love to see Australia get more involved in is the exploration of our solar system and beyond. We are experimenting with technologies which some say are already in production, and that colonies have already been established. Unless we take action to address this issue, can we expect Mother Nature to solve the problem for us?

  17. bobrafto

    Good read and what you say is the end of the world is nigh and the folks who are driving us there are the Neo Cons.

    The immediate problem is climate change and one can only assume the neo cons are hell bent in destroying this planet with their refusal to transition away from fossil fuels.

    The other problem is the capitalist system, a system that requires growth to function and that means an increased population, take away the growth and the system collapses.

    If one thinks that Australia is so welcoming of immigrants, it is because they are needed to create growth and if this wasn’t the case, Australia would be all white.

  18. Kaye Lee

    The Catholics have a lot to answer for….

    “(W)hat sex means, from the Catholic perspective, is I give myself totally, completely to you in the kind of relationship that would be fulfilled by having and bearing children together,” Dr. Melissa Moschella, a philosophy professor at The Catholic University of America, explained. “And if you do that while at the same time intentionally holding back your fertility, in a sense you’ve contradicted what it is that you’re doing with your body. It’s kind of like nodding yes while thinking no, kind of lying with your body language.”

    As a result, birth control is immoral because it violates the very nature of sex – trying to engage in sex without the natural possibility of pregnancy.

  19. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    Economics in its current form nor the proposed MMT which, is just a variation of the current system, can be a part of the solution. In my opinion, a debt jubilee and a reset to a monetary system using precious metals as currency is the only viable option in a contracting economy. Providing we follow necessary course.

    Deanna Jones
    Because you asked, this will be the first time that I have stated my views on abortion.
    I do not like it. There is something about terminating a “potential” life that irks me. Therefore, I would not condone forced abortion nor forced sterilization either.
    That said and since I am a man, I do not feel that I have the right to dictate to anyone what to do in regards to this. I would much prefer to devote more resources to prevention and for those that do fall through the gap, to give more child support and encourage continuing the pregnancy.

    It takes a lot of energy to get into space. I don’t think that it is a viable option.

    Bob Rafto
    Growth has passed the point of creating wealth. It is now consuming it.


  20. Miriam English

    Good job Harquebus. I am in agreement, of course.

    As Kaye and others have said, improving the conditions of the world’s poorest is key. Education, especially of girls, lets them decide. Once people have a good social safety net and are well-off, and women are able to control their own lives the birthrate naturally drops dramatically. In parts of the world where people live well, birthrate is generally below replacement level.

    The big question is how we can bring those with the least up to a comfortable standard of living without blowing out consumption?

    As I’ve said here before, there is a lot to be optimistic about:

    – We now have extremely powerful computers that use a bare trickle of energy.

    – We have increasingly efficient renewable energy sources, and they’re being built and used at a mind-bogglingly accelerating rate worldwide.

    – We now understand the health benefits of eating minimal food — excessive food is currently the second biggest cause of cancer after smoking. Excess calories are also directly linked to diabetes.

    – People now like to plant trees and bushes and encourage native fauna to return. When I was young almost nobody planted trees. Now almost everybody does. I marvel that what often looks like bushland is actually suburbia now. There has been a major shift in people’s approach to vegetation.

    – We know how to mix (free) public transport and individual transport to greatly increase energy efficiency and convenience.

    – Insulation of buildings is now standard practice, and if enhanced it would further increase energy savings. Building underground brings even greater benefits.

    – Instead of each home needing a library of books and a massive encyclopedia we all have near instantaneous access to the greatest library of information the world has ever seen, without cutting down a single tree.

    – telephones and computers have reduced the need for transport dramatically, while boosting our ability to stay in touch, not only with friends and family, but with people on the other side of the planet — people from cultures we could never have previously dreamed we would become part of.

    Other revolutions are waiting in the wings, such as:
    – electric vehicles (effectively running on wind and sunlight),
    – self-driving cars (let us share vehicles efficiently instead of wasting them parked most of the day)
    – 3D printing (infinitely customised personal manufacture),
    – telepresence (reducing the need for travel),
    – virtual reality (also reducing the need for travel),
    – artificial intelligence (improving the lifestyle of humans and managing resources better),
    and many more as yet unknown. With billions more ingenious human minds applied to our problems we can hope for further improvements.

    The biggest change I hope for, however, is a wholehearted move to an information economy. Capitalism’s thirst for continued growth can be satisfied only there without sacrificing ever more resources. Capitalism is deeply flawed, but has brought us many undeniable advantages, allowing us to live better than royalty in bygone days. It needs to be fixed and fed on an economy that doesn’t destroy the world that supports it. Ideas, creativity, and intellectual pursuits can be the wellspring that can nourish it, letting it grow harmlessly forever.

  21. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Thank you for that. Your opinions matter to me.
    Before we can embark on any goals, current mindsets must be changed and the solution to that problem, I have not found. Also, the implementations that you propose does not mean that we must maintain current or increase our populations. Any reduction in population will have benefits and in my opinion, it is the best option.

  22. Miriam English

    The biggest danger to watch for in any discussion on population is the temptation to view “excess” people as a dead weight and a drag on the rest of us. That is a terrible mistake, especially if we can lift their standard of living and their access to knowledge. We make available billions more of the most powerful problem-solving machines in the known universe: human minds.

    Those people should be seen as an extremely valuable resource. We waste them at our peril.

  23. diannaart

    Just about everything we need to do to reach a sustainable population, from education, erasing gulf of poverty, 99% reduction of use of non-renewbles for heat & power, investment into small business technology, installation of micro-power grids (safer in event of catastrophes & control is local) and more I haven’t mentioned but all of which requires a concerted effort of cooperation between people, town, nations.

    All of which is anathema to unregulated capitalism.

    We can’t beat the system, but enough of us can go ahead and implement future plans and leave neo-cons choking on their own waste.

    I did not envy the USA it had to select between same old/same old and a complete raving loony. Raving loony won simply because he was different; not that he offered a single solution that is realistic, but then Clinton wasn’t offering change and solutions either.

    I refuse to give up hope; it is possible to rebel in favour of change without electing turds.

  24. Miriam English

    Harquebus, naturally I agree that reduction in population would be best, but wishing for it to happen in the very near future is as impractical as wishing for wings to sprout from my shoulderblades. It’s just not going to happen.

    We have left things dangerously late, but the rate of population growth is already declining, so that’s good. We just need to work towards getting that rate to decline past replacement as soon as possible.

    Religion is declining too, so that’s good also. It is one of the strongest obstacles to cutting birthrate.

    Education and access to knowledge are exploding. A combination of cheap, low-energy computers, billionaire philanthropists, and large-scale donations to efficient charities are helping tremendously.

    Can we turn it around in time? Nobody really knows. It is very difficult for us to see. Most of the trends (both good and bad) are along exponential curves, which we humans are notoriously bad at grappling with.

  25. Miriam English

    diannaart, there is a lot to be hopeful for there too. The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has been helping businesses and large organisations achieve highly efficient solutions. The enthusiasm for adopting efficient solutions has never been higher. Solar power is being adopted faster than mobile phones were. Worldwide, new investments are going to renewable energy, not to fossil fuels and increasing numbers of people are growing worried about losing their money so are pulling their investments out of fossil fuels.

    The businesses that don’t adopt efficient solutions will soon die anyway. And the rest of us are not waiting for government to catch up. It would be great for government to lead the way and make it easier for the rest of us, but they have been poisoned by the neoliberal kool-aid so we can’t really expect much from them. The mainstream media seem to be the primary pushers of that poison and they’re dying too.

    The world is reversing direction and the politicians will eventually catch up.

  26. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Thanks for the link. I did read it.
    Whether it is through attempting to influence and change religious doctrine or to denounce and maybe humiliate all religions which, is my preference, the corporate media in my opinion must play a role. No other industry the influence that can match them.

    Miriam English
    I do actively involve myself in spreading information and opinion. You are aware of my other activity so, I wouldn’t say that I just wish only. I hope to convince a few of the urgency as a result of my submission and subsequent activity. If it doesn’t then, at least I try and I am not ashamed of that. Just the opposite.


  27. townsvilleblog

    The huge pharmaceutical corporations could well afford to supply nations such as India, contraceptive pills at just above cost price so that Indian women could participate in birth control, also countries in Africa should be encouraged to use condoms and they should be donated by Ansell to African and sub-continent countries in an effort to contain birth rates, these huge corporations could and should play a large role in supporting the human race, after all they have been the largest recipients of the population’s wealth in developed countries, and have a lot to answer to.

    Religion sees unlimited reproduction as more financial contributions to their false imaginings so they will always promote unlimited reproduction, the ‘invisible man’ should be exposed once and for all as a hoax then we can move on without the parasites and set about the task at hand.

  28. townsvilleblog

    Harquebus, you are definitely on the right track, Earth’s resources are limited and the urgency is nigh we must act on Climate Change, develop a secular population policy, and encourage all families to go no further than the parents replace themselves, our family is only one child, as we have had this scenario in mind for some decades now. I am not a hypocrite, I can’t preach one thing, and practice another. I’d never make a politician.

  29. Harquebus

    I agree with you also.
    All these things are good. The immediate problem as I currently see it is, how do we convince those in parliament to address the issue. There is no progress in solving this aspect of the problem so, I am pessimistic in regards to eventual outcomes.

  30. tet02

    I recently saw Andrew Denton address the National Press Club on voluntary euthanasia and our politicians lack of resolve concerning it.Having recently lost both parents to cancer and seen the debilitating stage they were forced to endure before finally slipping away made me sick. I spoke to one of the doctors about the issue and was told quite candidly that the main opponent to voluntary euthanasia was the Pharmaceutical companies, the money they rake in from the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme means its in their best interest to keep people alive for as long as possible, (my father for example was taking medications that valued over $350 per day, and he just wanted it to end).
    Stopping this practice would be a good start, as well as being infinitely more humane. If you did it to your dog you’d be vilified.

  31. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    You have my respect, tet02,

    for speaking for your parents who could not speak for themselves.

    I might be allowed to put my dog out of his misery but not my parents. My dog I had sadly to do that just two weeks ago.

    I dread if my parents suffered the same way.

  32. Harquebus

    That’s terrible. I have been in similar circumstances more than once. I can empathize.

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    I love dogs and feel for you.

  33. tet02

    Thanks folks, but the point I was trying to make,(not very well), is that the time, energy, cost, manpower, resources, etc.,etc, used to keep my Dad alive for 6 weeks more than he ever wanted to,(and of sound mind to the bitter end), is difficult to quantify. But I can assure you it was more than the $350/day taxpayer subsidized payment to big pharmacy, one of which Turnbulls wife is a major shareholder in I believe. So with that in mind, how many more people are in hospitals across Australia, and for that matter the world, wanting nothing more than to move on to “whatever”,but are forced to linger using resources etc that they have no wish to.
    At school in the 70’s we had a fairly progressive social science teacher that spoke of overpopulation being the fundamental problem of dwindling resources leading to global famine, war and poverty. He got quite vocal about the church needing to change policy concerning contraception , spoke of family tax breaks for assisted euthanasia,and most importantly educating young men and especially women, as we would be the ones dealing with the looming elephant in the room. All of which went down a treat at an Anglican boarding school, and assured his employment termination at the end of the year.
    And while he stopped short of eugenics, he did say another Spanish Flu virus or similar was the planets only realistic hope, and I’m sorry to say I think he may well be right.

  34. dragonnanny

    Townsvilleblog stated “In the 21st century “all” countries should be legislating for a family to have no more than 3 children, and if they do, then at the birth of the fourth child, any government benefits that flow to that family should cease immediately.” I have had 3 pregnancies but birthed four children……..and I am wondering if a family has 2 children and tries for a third and eventually produces twins making it four children would they be penalised for that fourth child that they didn’t actually choose to have? I am hoping it doesn’t come to legislation regarding 3 children.

    I actually liked all the comments for this article and the article was informative and something I probably have not given much thought to over the years. I am starting to think that limiting population by laws etc might not be so good but controlling waste would help somewhat I am sure…………items get thrown out and not fixed any more, food is thrown away at an alarming rate, I think if every individual who is capable could learn to stop so much waste something would have to change. And that includes large corporations as well…………. thank you Harquebus for your article

  35. Miriam English

    dragonnanny, you have put your finger on one of the most important aspects of the problem: waste.

    Yes, overpopulation is an awful problem, but if we didn’t waste so damn much we would have the population problem licked already.

    Here in the First World we waste a terrifying amount of food, energy, and physical resources. I forget the numbers, but most food, most energy, and most plastic, paper, metal, glass, and electronics is wasted. If we were less gluttonous and shared instead of wasting then I think it’s likely that everybody on the planet would easily have a good standard of living and population would not be such a problem. Also the environment would not be so screwed.

    But we do waste — stupendous amounts. Some people are even proud of their waste, displaying it as a badge of honor.

    What are we to do with humanity?

    tet02, wishing a disease upon us is no solution. Make people insecure and threaten their lives and we breed like rabbits. The only reliable way to bring down numbers is to improve everybody’s lives.

  36. Harquebus

    Antibiotic resistant bacteria, viruses and fungi are becoming a problem while at the same time, they could be one of nature’s solutions to our population problem.

    You are welcome and thank you for your comment.

  37. Harquebus

    I don’t see how reducing waste helps in the population problem if the waste, surplus if you like, is used to feed someone else. It would help if the saving came from reducing production. This would reduce the amount of resources needed.

  38. bobrafto

    Have a ponder at this:

    David Attenborough described earth as the Living Planet, and I assume most of us regard that as life above the crust.

    What if the internal parts of earth are essential for the life forms on the exterior?

    What function do the gases, oil, coal and minerals have to the well being of the planet?

    Could it be possible, that by extracting the gases, oil, and coal that we are killing the planet?

    Below the surface is a living body and in a way similar to ours where oil could be the equivalent of human blood an so on being A Living Planet. We all know what happens if one loses all their blood.

    The sad part is that no one knows of what the impact will be when everything is extracted but what is known is the reserves.
    In June, BP provided an intriguing update to its global oil reserves estimates in the company’s yearly review of energy statistics. It raised its reserve estimate by 1.1% to 1,687.9 billion barrels – just enough oil to last the world 53.3 years at the current production rates.Oct 22, 2014

    It might be a very feeble and extremely anaemic earth in 53 years time and that’s without the threat of over population and climate change.

    It’s possible.

  39. Miriam English

    Harquebus, if it’s used by someone else then it’s not waste.

    Waste, where a tiny minority of people hog the vast majority of resources, is a major part of the overpopulation problem because if we didn’t waste so incredibly spectacularly then there would be far less impact on the environment and there would be far more to go around for all of us, making population growth less dangerous, or even no problem at all, because the improved standard of living would mean population growth would not be so explosive.

    We waste most of the food. Personally each of us wastes something like half the food we buy. Restaurants are much, much worse.

    We waste almost all the energy. More than 99% of the energy powering the average car is lost in waste heat and in just moving the ton of metal and glass along. An insignificant amount actually moves the human from A to B. When we heat and cool homes most of that energy is wasted on poor house design because it leaks heat like a sieve. Crappy building design is responsible for most of our energy use. Architects design extremely expensive, resource-hungry mostrosities. Witness even the monumental stupidity of putting wiring and plumbing inside walls so that when something goes wrong the godamn wall needs to be ripped apart. What kind of idiocy is that? In computing centers wiring is behind lift-out panels of a false floor or ceiling. We waste at every turn.

    We continue to make throwaway items instead of making things that can be repaired. Advertising and fashion are two of the most evil forces here. They push people to scrap perfectly good things, driving rapacious over-use of resources. It would be easy to over-engineer most things to make them last many lifetimes, and if they broke down, be easy to repair. I repair a lot of things for friends and family and am constantly appalled at the number of things that are shoddily designed so they will break soon and carefully designed to be difficult, or even impossible to repair. Apple is a prime evil here. They have come up with all manner of ways to impede those who would prefer to fix their machines — even to the point of sealing their ipods so people can’t change the battery! And I won’t even talk about the appalling waste of the packaging industry — use once and throw away!

    If we change our culture to make waste shameful then we would put far less pressure on the environment and we’d find it much easier to lift the poor and starving up to a good standard of living, thus reducing the birth rate.

    It is remarkable how few resources we need when we don’t waste. We Australians are the worst in all the world. We waste more per capita than people in any other country — we waste more energy and more food and more goods. We barely even recycle. We throw poisonous items like batteries into landfills instead of having laws that force their recycling. We drive huge cars just around the corner to the shop. We’ve largely gotten rid of cheap or free public transport and replaced it with mass transport that is so expensive it makes it “economical” to drive wasteful personal vehicles — one person per gigantic SUV.

    Reduce waste and you reduce the population problem and possibly even eliminate it, while slowing climate change and damage to the environment.

  40. Miriam English

    bobrafto, interesting point. Many years ago I wrote in my blog about my worries that the standard practise of pumping water down into oil wells to replace the oil and force it out is dangerous (not to mention wasteful). I feared that the extra weight of the heavier water would change the balance of Earth’s plates and perhaps cause earthquakes. Time passed and I pretty much forgot about this until recently it has been found that fracking is associated with a dramatic rise in earthquakes in formerly stable areas.

    We have come to find that the life underground is more numerous than that above ground. Bacteria, in particular, form extensive networks that transfer electrons so that those feeding at great depth can manage without oxygen. Fungi transport nutrients between dozens of trees, perhaps hundreds, in great networks. While we blunder around on the surface, bulldozing, and scattering and spraying poisons, with almost no knowledge of what damage we’re doing.

    I marvel, when watching movies, at how people have come to believe the cityscape is “normal”, when it is in reality a kind of desert. It astonishes me when people coo over how picturesque Scottish, Irish, and English landscapes are, when I see vast forests totally denuded of trees by early iron age man, and remaining green only by virtue of the frequent drizzling rain. If not for that rain, it would resemble the middle east — the birthplace of Western culture, which in ancient stories was rich and fertile, covered in damp, bountiful forests. Did you know there are cave paintings in the Sahara of giraffes, rhinos and the like? That enormous desert is very recent and continues to spread. It was likely a fragile ecosystem that people tore open with agriculture the way humans made the dustbowl in USA, and probably the first humans to settle Australia 50,000 years ago did to inland Australia by first exterminating all the megafauna and then “cultivating” the land with fire, never realising how easy it was to break that ecosystem, causing the forests and grasslands to die and the enormous inland sea to dry up.

  41. Harquebus

    We are very dependent on what happens below the Earth in regards to minerals and CO2 in the atmosphere. Without some CO2 provided by volcanoes, ours would be a frozen planet.

    Miriam English
    “if it’s used by someone else then it’s not waste.”
    Absolutely and is why I suggested calling it a surplus. One’s surplus being another one’s need.
    Everything that you state and suggest is fine and will benefit us but, this would only be for now. Resources are becoming more difficult to obtain and it will be difficult to maintain our numbers going forward even with improvements in efficiency.
    There is not one thing in your last comment that I do not agree with. We should have done those things decades ago. I now think that, that opportunity has been lost. Trade will be a victim and is already suffering, making implementation on the scale needed impossible.
    This is one reason why I think that population reduction is the one first best thing that we can do.
    I appreciate the time that you spent preparing that comment.

  42. Kyran

    It seems to me there are two parts to the equation. ‘Population’ and ‘sustainability’.
    With regard to the ‘population’ component, it is not just that we are overpopulated, but that our population is ageing. This changes completely the manner in which the problem is addressed. Whilst discussion of birth control is necessary, it is rapidly becoming a moot point. As ‘societies’ have become more affluent and educated, family sizes have become smaller. As other have noted, the need to have six children in the hope that three will survive to support their parents in their dotage is a factor in only a handful of countries in 2016. As far as prescriptive birth control is concerned, there can be no greater demonstration of its inadequacy than the ‘one child policy’ in China. After 35 years, it is being wound back, leaving China with three huge problems.
    Gender imbalance, as males were preferred over females at birth for 35 years.
    A declining work force, for obvious reasons.
    And an ageing population with limited ‘resources’ to accommodate the inherent changes in the needs of the aged.…children…/6897528
    There is an excellent report prepared by the UN which goes into detail as to the impact of the global trend of an ageing population. Whilst it would be easy to cherry pick the contents, it is better read in its entirety. The context is important as it discusses economic growth and sustainability through the prism of the ageing nature of the global population.…/pdf/ageing/WPA2015_Report.pdf
    It is not surprising that our shallow, vacuous ‘government’ addresses the issue in Australian terms by raising the retirement age and trying to cut the protections afforded Australians through a working pension system. Two points addressed (and ridiculed) in the report.
    Net immigration is not only a viable requisite in Australian terms, but a necessary one, IMO.
    As an aside, the asylum seekers we have warehoused are young and many are very well educated. We need them a damn site more than they need us. The point raised by tet02 (for what this is worth, sorry for your loss) is one that should be considered as a matter of urgency on a humane and rational basis, not an ideological one.
    With regard to the issue of sustainability, Ms English’s comments could not be more appropriate. We look at the issue of sustainability as if we were producing no more than was necessary to feed the planet. Nothing could be further from the truth. If that were the case, malnutrition would not be a problem;
    “Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. One out of six children — roughly 100 million — in developing countries is underweight.”
    “Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries, where 13.5 percent of the population is undernourished.”
    Whilst it is clearly acceptable in this day and age to reduce the population by way of starvation or, even worse, by killing hundreds of thousands of civilians through needless wars, it is not necessary. We are currently producing to satisfy rampant consumerism, not need. Should we choose to work smarter there are numerous answers to the question of sustainability.
    Thank you, Harquebus, for the article. Whilst the problems are, undoubtedly, real, that are not unsolvable. The ‘political will’ is a deficiency we will pay dearly for. Take care
    PS Ms English. Thank you for the tips on ‘links’. I haven’t got to duckduckgo yet as my computer has taken an intense disliking to me for the past fortnight. I hope I’m at least doing the links right though. Take care

  43. Harquebus

    ” As ‘societies’ have become more affluent and educated, family sizes have become smaller.”
    As time progresses and resources deplete, affluence and education are probably going to take a backward step. To maintain a decent standard in these areas, once again, I see population reduction as the only solution. The only unresolved issue is how which, is moot at point in time because, the problem is still not being recognized or it is being deliberately ignored by the corporate media.
    I also think that in order to break the cycle of growth, at least one generation is going to have to bite the bullet and lower their expectations of retirement and that generation will be the boomers of which, I am one. Physical realities will hit them hard and will probably include them losing their super and savings.
    In regards to producing food, I see future problems. Shortages of fertilizers and pesticides and the slowing of industrial agricultural production, processing and most importantly, transport systems due to energy constraints.
    Growing enough food will become difficult getting it to hungry people will become harder.
    I think that it was a mistake for China to end their one child policy. Already the pollution caused by their modernization is seriously affecting their ecosystems and public health.
    Thanks for the links and your well thought out post.

  44. Miriam English

    Kyran, thanks for your insights and information, especially for the UN Report on an Ageing population. I didn’t even know it existed. Perhaps our idiotic politicians don’t either.

    I’m sorry to say your links are still a problem as it appears you’ve copied and pasted the text of the links from a google search. While this will work for short addresses, longer ones get contracted with “…” in the middle which breaks the address if copied this way.

    The easiest way to get usable links is simply to do the search from the page. The links it lists are the actual links. My computer is pretty ancient and doesn’t like a lot of newer smarty-pants webdesign, but it behaves perfectly on

    Here are the links you intended.

    World Population Ageing 2015 Highlights – United Nations

    China ends one-child policy, allows two children for each couple


    And here is the Duck Duck Go search page:

  45. Harquebus

    “In 1972 we were using about 85% of this planet’s carrying capacity, so it wasn’t too great a leap to conclude that, if growth could be brought to a halt, a sustainable situation could be achieved.
    Since then we have used up a good deal of the reserves of non-renewable resources and over-exploited many renewable resources damaging them in the process. All this has enabled us to grow to the point where we are at 120% of carrying capacity. The task that faces us is not just stopping growth, but a good bit of “degrowth” and a lot of work to restore the damage we’ve done to the planet.”
    “Most of us have a mental model of how the world works that doesn’t include exponential growth or the feedback loops that cause it. Crudely put, the shape of the exponential curve is such that it putters along in an almost straight line, increasing only very slowly for a long time. Then it starts to increase more rapidly and pretty soon goes right through the roof.”
    “as long as we pursue growth, no amount of resources will solve our problems.” — Irv Mills

    “Finally investment cannot keep up with depreciation, and the industrial base collapses, taking with it the service and agricultural systems, which have become dependent on industrial inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hospital laboratories, computers, and especially energy for mechanization).”

    ” the basic behaviour mode of the world’s system is exponential growth of population and capital followed by overshoot and collapse.”
    “are we already in overshoot or are we just starting to do really well as the techno-optimists and cornucopians would have us believe.”
    “the application of technology to apparent problems of resource depletion, pollution or food shortage has no impact on the essential problem, which is exponential growth in a finite and complex system.”

    “Our politicians still see “economic recovery”—the resumption of “robust” growth—as their main goal. Even though growth is the very thing that is causing most of our problems.”

    “As early as the 1990s real economic growth slowed due to resource depletion and surplus energy issues. The markets started blowing bubbles in an attempt keep growth going.”
    “I’d say you’d have to be pretty deep in denial not to see that we are already well into overshoot.”

  46. Miriam English

    We can pursue growth if it is in the information economy. It is the one area that doesn’t necessarily rely on increasing use of physical resources, and in fact can actively reduce physical resource use (by working through the net instead of physically travelling).

    We would have much more success in redirecting the idiotic “growth at all costs” mindset into the information economy than just saying to people “It’s over. You must stop consuming.” Stopping this juggernaut is pretty-much impossible. Redirecting it towards untold riches holds much greater promise. It uses capitalism’s own insane greed to fix its worst problem.

    Much of the alarmist stuff you’re posting, Harquebus, is backward-looking. It assumes that nothing changes. But that’s wrong. We are becoming more efficient (though not as quickly as I’d like). In spite of government dragging its feet we are moving to more sustainable energy sources. More people are aware of the problems of climate change and overpopulation than ever before. It is changing. The articles you post from take none of this into account.

    You tell people it’s the end. There’s nothing they can do. It’s all over. We are gonna have a nasty population crash whether we like it or not and the survivors will be reduced to an impoverished agrarian lifestyle. Can you see that this will have zero effect on people’s actions?

    I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve met who believed this self-defeating shit and had basically given up on everything. Their feeling was “Well, if the previous generations cheated me out of my life and it’s all going to hell anyway, I’m going to live it up now while I have the chance. Screw everybody else.”

    It is only after long hours of explaining the potential of new developments and how there is actually great hope, so long as we get our luxury through efficiency, that I’ve been able to alter this self-destructive trajectory.

    Harquebus, I know it isn’t your intention, but you are making things worse by only presenting pessimism and no solutions.

  47. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Thank you for that. I think that we all should be alarmed. I have made a few people think about this subject so, pessimistic gloom and doom it might be but, I from where I sit, it is a small step in the right direction on a long march.
    I have always offered the same, unrecognized by most, single solution. It is only the methodology, in my opinion, that has yet to be resolved and that will not happen until the media is convinced that population is a problem.
    I think that the world that you wish for which, I also wouldn’t mind, can only be achieved in conjunction with population reduction.
    In regards to computers, I also am a nerd as you already know. I recall the floods in Thailand that temporarily limited the number of available hard drives. The point here is that, it only takes one vital component or resource to become scarce for an industry to falter.
    I know that you are currently very busy and I really appreciate you coming back to comment.
    Thanks for correcting Kyran’s links. The ABC’s worked fine and yet, the other did not. Strange.

  48. Miriam English

    That’s interesting. I hadn’t tried the ABC link. I saw the abbreviated link and assumed it wouldn’t work. Just now clicking on it I notice the broken link first gets loaded into the browser, then the ABC corrects it, sending the browser to the correct page. Somebody at ABC has done some interesting programming. Nice.

  49. Kyran

    The notion that our future has to be defined by ‘Sophie’s Choice’, a choice between ‘selective extermination’ and ‘armageddon’, escapes me. We have other choices.
    Granted, we do not have daily recognition of ‘real’ issues by our media, or our ‘leaders’.
    Granted, the advances in all forms of science, are, largely, ignored by our media, and our ‘leaders’.
    Their ignorance of real issues, of real science, don’t make those issues go away. Most of the people I meet on a daily basis know that ‘their’ ignorance of an issue exacerbates the very problems they claim to address.
    My apologies for the aforementioned links. More importantly, Ms English, I will keep trying (notwithstanding my computers revulsion).
    Take care

  50. Athena

    For starters, we live in a consumerist society. We buy masses of cheaply made crap from China that does not last. So much of what we buy comes in excessive amounts of packaging. Because clothing is very cheap, we throw out perfectly good clothing on a regular basis. It’s going to landfill and the dyes used to manufacture it are entering waterways. We’re building large, high energy consuming houses that we don’t need and we fool ourselves by calling them energy efficient. We buy fast food and highly processed pre-packaged food, all with packaging that goes to landfill. We could cut back on the unnecessary consumption and spend more locally on experiences rather than things. That would help create jobs locally as well as help the environment.

  51. totaram

    I must say this is an important wake-up call to everyone, but the signs have been there (always pushed into the background) since the time of Malthus. My parents very consciously decided to have only one child and I know it was conscious, because they told me so, and that was more than 70 years ago. So the ultimate resource depletion of the planet with a growing consumption is a simple mathematical certainty. For those items that are “renewable”, once again there is a limit to how much they can be renewed. There is a limit to how much sunlight falls on the planet in a given time-frame. In the 70’s we had the Club of Rome and the “limits to growth”, but they were quickly buried by the growing confidence of the neo-liberal revolution after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While we may argue about whether we are in “overshoot” or not (this is a numbers game), the fact is, it really doesn’t matter. Exponential growth is a terrible thing. Just read about it. There are some very graphic illustrations about how it works.

    The difficult part is how we go about de-populating. China has just allowed two children per family, which is not too bad. It will lead to de-population in the long run. The question is how long? Similarly, we know that economic development leads to falls in population growth, so a certain level of economic well-being will lead to stabilisation and even falls in population – again in the long run. Will we dodge the bullets once again through some clever tricks (based on fossil energy of course) like we dodged mass-starvation in the last half of the last century? (Not that people in parts of the world are not still starving).

    The biggest culprits against this trend, are the religions in the developed countries, where it appears that there is plenty and where every religion tries to get greater “market share” by asking its adherents to breed. The politicians here are also complicit. Someone already pointed to the “baby bonus” of Peter Costello. Clearly, people like him need a wake-up call, but I suspect he is too far gone to care.

    So problem identified, solution not clear.

    The only question I have to Harquebus is: what on earth is the connection with currencies? How does it matter what currency is in use? The problem remains the same.

    On the other hand, with fiat currencies (which is what they all are now mostly), the solutions might be easier. All the countries abandoned the gold-standard and Bretton-Woods for a host of reasons, and none of those have gone away.

  52. Harquebus

    Shipping as much of our precious non renewable resources overseas as we can as fast we can only for it to be branded “Made in China” and then ultimately end up in a landfill has always bothered me.
    Also, rather than create jobs and if you hadn’t noticed, it is my preferred option to reduce the number of applicants.

    We do share common ground. I enjoyed reading your comment, probably because I agree with it.
    I think that, somewhere in our uncertain future, what is valued will become currency and it won’t be bits or bits of paper. A currency backed by units of energy perhaps? Personally, I still favor precious metals. Governments can not create them from nothing and they store their value for incredibly long periods of time.

    Do you think that the MMT system can facilitate a declining population along with a contracting economy? I did read somewhere that it still requires some thieving of our wealth inflation.


  53. Steve Laing

    Crikey Harq! I almost missed this!!!

    A well presented argument, although I suspect that it won’t be the running out of resources that will be the death knell of civilisation as we know it, but very much like the yeast in a bottle of beer, our demise will be due to the increase of our societies waste products that lays waste to a sustainable environment. However whatever the cause, the outcome will be the same, as exponential population growth rarely ends well. Indeed I wonder whether too much focus on more resource availabilty (whether fracking, deep ocean exploration et al) has diverted attention from the pollution issue now most manifest in climate change.

    Can we collectively resolve the issue? I’m not convinced that the individual programmed desire to pass on ones genes can be sufficiently curtailed through societal pressure. Even the Chinese appear to have given up on that approach.

    I suspect that to resolve this global issue we would have required a pan-global organisation with sufficient power to make things happen. Given the antipathy towards the UN from some of the potentially critical players, I can’t see that ever happening. The worlds leader will bicker while the planet burns.

    I only hope that some of those human societies who have managed to live in a sustainable manner may continue to do so…

  54. Harquebus

    Steve Laing

    Thanks mate. I try to read all comments and I find yours are always interesting and informative.
    The number of theAIMN readers who have an understanding of the exponential function, although still low, is more than I had realized.
    I am attempting to do my own sustainable thingy and believe me, it ain’t easy and is another reason why I worry.

    “Even as a waste disposal site, the world is finite.” — William R. Catton Jr.


  55. JeffJL

    Well done H. Having now ‘put up’ and ‘not shut up’ you will be forced to continue to write to appease your fans. I see from the earlier comments that that is what they want you to do.

    Congrats again on a clearly written piece.

  56. Athena

    “Also, rather than create jobs and if you hadn’t noticed, it is my preferred option to reduce the number of applicants.”

    If we can’t reproduce, who will the smug parents have to look down upon? Even if we limit everyone to one child, we still have a problem with the current population being underemployed. Work gives many people a sense of worth and purpose and to be gainfully employed is recognised as a basic human right.

  57. Harquebus

    Thanks. We will see.

    I do think that a lot of people will be idled permanently or for most of the time. Increasing scarcity will be the main cause but, robotics might also be another challenge for the working class.
    Performing work requires energy and causes pollution. The more workers, the more energy required and the more pollution caused.
    High unemployment is something that we are going to have to live with for a quite some time to come.

  58. Miriam English

    Athena, one of the most insidious and dangerous aspects of the current system, I believe, is this push to make people be worth only what they work as. This idea of work being a “right” never sat well for me. It seems to me that comes from an enslaving system where work is the only way to stay alive; even then it should never be a right to work, but that staying alive and healthy should be a right.

    A dwindling population (when it finally arrives) and increasingly automated production will inevitably render almost all work obsolete. We will work only as an interest — a hobby. We won’t need to work. Our value will be in ourselves, as human beings with capacity learn, to create, to help each other, and to contribute to the communities around us That’s a future I look forward to with great eagerness. I hope I live to see it.

  59. Harquebus

    Miriam English

    If that be the case then, wages will also be obsolete. Can the economy support a next to zero workforce? Not in its current form I think which, is already in its death throws. How would we allocate life’s essentials? Rationing which, I advocate for the present as well as the future I think would be one system that could operate under this scenario.

    An other danger that could present itself is, if artificial intelligence decides that there are too many of us or that we are no longer required. A remote possibility but, one that Steven Hawking regularly warns us about.


  60. John Kelly

    As the food runs low, so too the population.

  61. Zathras

    Aside from all the hypothetical problems, there’s a real one that will need to be addressed soon.

    Who is going to pay the pensions for the rapidly aging population?
    In a decade or so each pensioner will have to be entirely supported by two taxpayers, who will also be funding everything else the nation needs.

    This ongoing Ponzi Scheme will have to go and the existing Superannuation scheme won’t do it.
    Apart from compulsory euthanasia for the elderly, any ideas?

    When I was at school the looming problem for the future was what we would be doing with all our spare time with automation taking on much of the burden, but most are working more hours than ever just to stay afloat.

    Things never seem to work out the way people expect.

  62. Harquebus

    John Kelly
    Food will be worth more than its weight in fiat currency.

    “It’s sad,” Gonzalez says. “At this point, I think the cheese is worth more.”

    In my previous comments I have stated that one generation at least will have to bite the bullet and receive a lot less than they are expecting. That generation will most likely be the boomers.
    I also was told at school that our main problem would be deciding what to do with our leisure time. That was back in the day when the only technology we had was a speaker mounted above the blackboard. Occasionally we were allowed to listen to the ABC’s for schools broadcast.

    When I started school, we used inkwell and nib. At around 30 I studied business computing at TAFE and marveled at how far technology had progressed in just over 20 years. Now, even the keyboard is becoming obsolete.


  63. Matters Not

    Things never seem to work out the way people expect.

    Indeed! And the ‘doomsday’ theorists here and elsewhere have a very, very poor track record re their predictions

    That the Planet we currently occupy is finite, goes without saying. But please. That we are limited by the current ways we think about same and can’t and won’t reconceptualise in the future is just hilarious. Logic once suggested that the world was flat. Made perfect sense. (And still does for many). The idea that we now ‘know’ everything about everything and there’s no advances to be made re exploring new ‘possibilities’ is arrogance writ large..

    Shock! Horror! We’ll all be doomed says H …

    Here’s a link (historic).

    Some people need to get a life.

  64. Miriam English

    Harquebus, I think fear of AI is misguided and absurd… unless the military get it first. But even then I think it’s only a problem until it becomes sufficiently intelligent. Increased intelligence seems to bring an increased desire for peace. Military intelligence (a bit of an oxymoron) poses a risk at first, but a sufficiently advanced intelligence would see the utter stupidity of war and oppression, and simply disobey. Our fear of such an intelligence is our greatest danger.

    John Kelly, history suggests that as food decreases breeding explodes. It seems to be a safety mechanism to ensure some will survive. Granted it is counterproductive now, but it is what it is. If we want to defuse the population bomb we need to learn to share and play nice with each other. Thankfully we’re doing better at that than ever before in all of humanity’s time on Earth. Will we improve fast enough? I don’t know. I sure hope so.

    Zathras, yes, I always found it hilarious when I was a kid, that I would read serious scientific articles worrying about what we would all do in the coming time of leisure when automation took over most work. Who the hell wants to work at something they don’t like? All through history artists, writers, musicians, and other creators have had this problem. Who we are has never been valued unless we made money. But most of us never made money from our creations; we tend to die in poverty. Now the rest of society is going to be in the same boat and it terrifies them… except it is different now. We have a roadmap for how to manage a society in which nobody needs to work a job they don’t like. A universal basic income lets everybody live a good life and automation would supply what’s needed. Massive automation is coming anyway. We can bring it in with great social upheaval and misery, discarding much of society, or we can introduce something resembling utopia. We finally get to make the choice this decade.

    I think the current overwork is a temporary thing with bosses wanting ever more and forever holding out the carrot of money to squeeze more from their workers. More of the wealth goes to the most wealthy, leaving less of the pie for everybody else while advertising and fashion drive people to keep up an impossible race. As I say, it’s temporary. Automation has already begun displacing workers with machines that don’t need to be paid, don’t sleep or take holidays, and always work at maximum pace, never getting distracted. Why would they need to hire humans? Watch this to see what I mean:
    CGP Grey – Humans need not apply

  65. Kaye Lee


    Don;’t retreat back to your mantras. You wrote a great article that has made a lot of people comment – you didn’t call game over, you provoked thought.

    You have been very welcoming and accepting of input – don’t now dismiss it and revert to the repetition people have come to expect from you. Listen to the plaudits and understand why they are coming. You opened the discussion – be open to learning from the contributions.

    I admire your effort in many ways. Let go of the mantras and just talk as you have done here.

  66. Annika

    The best contraceptive is high living standards and high survival rate of babies. It’s beside the point trying to try to solve this by put more restrictions on an already oppressed humanity…. i would even go as far to say that it distracts from the real issues.

  67. Harquebus

    Matters Not
    It is not who has been right, it is who will be right.
    What is going to happen is not difficult to understand when one understands the consequences of exponential growth.
    Thank you for the comment and the link. You surprised me. I was sure that you wouldn’t bother.

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” — Prof. Albert Bartlett

    Miriam English
    Note that I said “A remote possibility”. Turning of the power off is the solution should it ever become a problem. I only mentioned it to add to the discussion. I can’t understand Steven Hawking’s concern but, I do respect the man.
    Thanks for the video. I will watch it shortly.

    Kaye Lee
    I appreciate your advice. Thanks.
    I included your recent article in my latest bulk mail out and referred to you as “the always astute Kaye Lee”.

    High living standards is something that we can not afford in regards to pollution and depletion of essential resources if, we maintain our add to our currently very large global population. If we ignore population as a problem, nature will sort it out in her usual brutal and unforgiving ways. This is what I am keen to avoid.

    For those interested, here is a 3 minute video that gives a quick look at our industrial food system.
    “For Civilization: This Is Necessary (Life Feeds On Life)”

    Thank you everyone for your contributions. They are all very much appreciated.


  68. n3angus

    I think the instincts of species to survive is the topic that is not being talked about but will rise up to bite the unsuspected in the butt

  69. Miriam English

    Matters Not has made a valid point. Human beings are nothing if not ingenious. We humans have loved the idea of doom so much that we have been predicting it constantly for thousands of years. And we have avoided genuine predictions of doom many times before.

    A Brief History of the Apocalypse

    Harquebus, yes, exponential growth, and human inability to see it, is a problem, but there are two aspects to current trends that you conveniently ignore when raised.

    1. We have passed peak growth rate. The rate of growth of the human population has been declining since the early 1960s. Population is still growing, but that rate is decelerating.

    2. We are becoming more frugal. Electricity supply companies were caught unawares by the fact that electricity consumption declined when they expected it to continue to increase. I meet a lot of people these days who are sick of the rat race and want to get off the treadmill. They consume less of everything than they used to. We now have excellent research to show that excessive consumption of food is one of the leading causes of early death and illness (hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes) and people have begun to change their habits accordingly.

    Modelling and statistics have reached a high point like never before and ordinary people — you and me — have easy access to it to make personal decisions. It doesn’t matter that our leaders are corrupt idiots; we’re going around them. For example, most governments are opposed to renewable energy and foster instead fossil fuels, however solar cells are being adopted by people around the world faster than mobile phones, and new investment in renewable energy now exceeds new investment in fossil fuels. The three simple, cheap technologies, solar cells, LED lights, and smartphones have, to a very large degree, improved the standard of living of millions of people all over the world. They have free electricity (after the initial cost), light at night that doesn’t make them sick, and communication and access to the internet. Poverty-stricken people in the poorest nations on Earth have all three of these technologies at a tiny fraction of the price we pay in the “developed nations”. (I put quotes around that because I have a feeling we will start to lag soon, as previously poor nations leapfrog us with cheaper, more efficient technology.)

    I often wonder if the vampires who run cigarette companies inadvertently did us a favor by killing off the fashion conscious who were easily led and prone to brainwashing by advertisements. Perhaps the monsters who run the National Rifle Association (NRA) in USA are doing a similar favor, by propagating death among those with a fascination for violence and killing machines. Maybe the repellent creeps who run Nestle, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Allens, and similar are doing likewise, by killing off those who love to over-consume fake food.

  70. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    your comment makes much sense to me and is a beacon of hope.

  71. Athena

    “High living standards is something that we can not afford in regards to pollution and depletion of essential resources if, we maintain our add to our currently very large global population. If we ignore population as a problem, nature will sort it out in her usual brutal and unforgiving ways. This is what I am keen to avoid.”


    I disagree. I’ve been moving towards minimalism for a while now and I consider that I have a high standard of living. I’ve read books and watched videos by minimalists. They have a high standard of living. High standard of living doesn’t mean that one has to surround oneself with unnecessary excesses.

  72. Miriam English

    n3angus, I just watched the youtube video you posted the link for. I don’t recommend anybody else watch it, except as a lesson for how to make propaganda to incite fear and hate. Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister would be very proud of his legacy. Listening to the changes of the music during that tripe was especially telling. After watching that video it is extremely difficult to think clearly. All I can say is that there are some hateful, angry people everywhere. Thankfully they are increasingly outnumbered by those who want a peaceful existence.

    Ugh! I feel like I need to have a shower after watching that. So filthily blatant it was in its attempts to mess with the viewer’s mind.

  73. Miriam English

    Athena, so true. That is my experience exactly. Buying more crap doesn’t make us better off. Minimalism today can deliver a very high standard of living and an extremely low level of consumption.

  74. Athena

    “Athena, one of the most insidious and dangerous aspects of the current system, I believe, is this push to make people be worth only what they work as. This idea of work being a “right” never sat well for me. It seems to me that comes from an enslaving system where work is the only way to stay alive; even then it should never be a right to work, but that staying alive and healthy should be a right.

    A dwindling population (when it finally arrives) and increasingly automated production will inevitably render almost all work obsolete. We will work only as an interest — a hobby. We won’t need to work. Our value will be in ourselves, as human beings with capacity learn, to create, to help each other, and to contribute to the communities around us That’s a future I look forward to with great eagerness. I hope I live to see it.”

    @ Miriam English
    I’ve noticed some people who have never had to work and have spent years at home, who have an extremely narrow view of the world and cannot comprehend points of view that are different from their own. They’re not stimulated to do anything. Some of them have no idea where to even start to learn something new. They’re not creative. I would find their lives incredibly boring.

    Most of us have an inherent desire to reproduce and to nurture our offspring. Tribal people spend all day hunting and gathering food. that’s their equivalent of work. We don’t need to do that but we still have a need and a desire to provide for our families, but we have a different method for doing so. If we don’t have to work, that isn’t going to reduce our capacity to consume finite resources, unless we stay in bed all day.

  75. Harquebus

    Thank you n3angus and Miriam English for the links. I will follow them sometime today.

    Miriam English
    “And we have avoided genuine predictions of doom many times before.”
    That was before the Earth was full.

    Even though some birth rates are slowing, it is not reversing and growth still is being advocated by economists and actively pursued by governments. China’s recent halt to their one child policy is one example. Our own government’s pursuit of immigration to combat declining birthrates is another.

    This is, in my opinion, the main problem; governments. They can not see further than their next new infrastructure announcement.

    Also, we have had the renewable argument before so I will only say that, they are a waste of precious resources, will never deliver what they promise and do nothing directly to reduce our populations.

    Energy is not the only resource that we need to be concerned about. There are things like fertilizers, declining fish stocks, deforestation, soil degradation and urban sprawl etc. that can not be solved with technology.

    This is my favorite video and in it Dr. Bartlett mentions the dilemma of smoking, car accidents and such that help reduce population numbers. For those who haven’t seen it, the first 30 minutes is worth watching.
    Dr Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

    I will not argue the fact that reducing poverty reduces birth rates but, governments are actively pursuing population increase. Excessive populations combined with resource depletion will, in my opinion, increase poverty and famine will then take care of the nasty business of reducing our numbers for us.

    Please don’t accuse me of wanting an Armageddon. I truly wish to avoid the terrible consequences that I see are inevitable under the “business as usual” scenario.

    Search criteria: peak phosphorus
    Search criteria: peak fertilizers

    Should we maintain large numbers at a basic level of existence or should we reduce numbers freeing up resources to invest in improving lifestyles for fewer. The problem is not just alleviating the environmental damage that large populations cause, but in repairing it.

    I repeat, I can see no other solution that can solve the many problems that we face, climate being the most serious, without the simple solution of reducing populations.

    In any event, it is convincing governments that over population is a problem and that reducing populations is a solution that is the first priority; the economy be damned.

    Thank you all for your time spent constructing your arguments. I will spend some time later and ponder them more deeply.


  76. Miriam English

    Athena, be careful of the temptation to be patronising toward people who are different from you. I have a friend who lives alone in a small house without mains electricity, phone line, water mains, or even an access road. He has a modest, but effective solar electrical system, collects rain from his roof into a tank, and walks and hitchhikes everywhere. He is certainly not an intellectual, as he hardly reads at all. As essentially a gift, I put together a computer system for him that uses almost no energy at all and lets him watch movies and listen to talks when he feels like it. I couldn’t live like him, but I’m not him. I need to be constantly learning and creating, but I’m not tempted to think I’m better or more fitted.

    If we don’t have to work then that alone will reduce much of our need to consume finite resources — we won’t have to travel to and from workplaces, won’t have to dress for work standards, won’t have to eat out (the most expensive and wasteful way to eat). When we can just be, it forces us to consider why we do things. While it won’t stop people throwing absurd parties and overconsuming things for the heck of it, many of us will be released from the hand-to-mouth cycle and have the chance to find better ways for ourselves and our families. It isn’t a guarantee of better things, but it does give that chance.

  77. Kaye Lee

    “There are things like fertilizers, declining fish stocks, deforestation, soil degradation and urban sprawl etc. that can not be solved with technology.”

    That just isn’t so. There is an enormous amount of research going on and constant technological improvements in those areas.

  78. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    The economy will continue to decay for reasons discussed here. The research and improvements in these areas have not produced any positive results and going forward, are unlikely to.
    Sorry for always sounding pessimistic but, it is just an attempt to extend business as usual and pretend that it is a viable option.

  79. Miriam English

    Harquebus, you are wrong. What you’re saying is not true. It is false. It is just not so. How many ways can I say it before you catch on? Research is producing solutions. This is truly beyond question. The only thing we don’t know is whether they will be adopted quickly enough. That isn’t helped by your total negation of everything.

    You are not at all sorry for always sounding pessimistic. You are absolutely tied to, and heavily invested in a doom outcome. This is proven by the way you won’t even glance at solutions, let alone give them a reasonable airing. You’ve somehow convinced yourself that you want to fix the world, yet your every action says the very opposite. Every fix, every solution, every way forward you seek to deny. Can you not see this in yourself? Have you so little self-awareness?

    Research into alternatives that help us move to a safe future through the dangerous times ahead is exactly the opposite of “an attempt to extend business as usual”.

    You have half of the message correct: we are facing a dangerous situation.
    Now you need to understand the second part: we have certain choices, thankfully still mostly painless, that can let us fix this.

    If you succeed in convincing many people give up and say, “Well, it’s all screwed now whatever I do, so I might as well go out and have fun before it all crashes” then you have aided the crash. You are part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. How can I make you understand this?

  80. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Take a look at what was said.
    “fertilizers, declining fish stocks, deforestation, soil degradation and urban sprawl”
    If you know of any successes in these areas produced by research and technological improvements, I am all ears. I was not referring to R&D in its totality. I should add that fertilizers refers to future shortages.
    I can only repeat that, it is my opinion that there is only one viable option and that is to reduce populations. While this option remains unaddressed, I expect to remain pessimistic and will use current events and difficulties as my evidence.

  81. Irv Mills

    Harquebus, did you leave a comment on my blog, “The Ieasiest Person to Fool”, on a post entitled “Politics and Science”?
    Blogger emailed me the comment, but strangely it doesn’t show up on the blog. If you deleted the comment and don’t want to pursue it, just ignore this comment.
    But if it was just a technical problem with Blogger, I thought I should let you know that I did get the comment and I read your article and I did like it–good stuff.

  82. jimhaz

    [The other problem is the capitalist system, a system that requires growth to function and that means an increased population, take away the growth and the system collapses]

    Capitalism DOES NOT require growth, although all the signs are that it does. It is the “owners” of resources that expect and will do everything they can to bring about growth for profit reasons.

    I’m afraid that populations will continue to grow due to the intrinsic human nature of a desire for competition and status, and unfortunately for non-existent gods. A New World Order would first be required in order to regulate business into obtaining profits by quality and reuse improvement, rather than by producing as cheaply as possible.

    It is not going to happen. Instead what will happen is that our quality of life will progressively diminish – no meat, tiny housing, no personal motor transport, a massive decline in the variety of animal life and access to leisure environments etc.

    Unlike Harquebus I have no concerns about renewables being able to supply all our energy needs. Well I do have one, and that is that it might not be just CO2 that is heating the planet but also heat that the actual use of energy by humans generates (light bulbs, computers, phones, heaters, coolers, fridges, cars, trucks etc all produce heat that would not otherwise exist).

    Nor am I concerned about runaway GW. At some point the world will be forced to use solar energy to power machines that extract CO2 and others that reduce the acidity of the oceans. ie we will need to start the risky business of terraforming (which might end up making things worse, like the cane toad).

    With GW our biggest concern is fighting over resources, when what is needed is complete cooperation. Might have to kill all the first born males 🙂 (traits of first borns Controlling & Achievers)

  83. Miriam English



    The most important fertilisers are the nitrogenous fertilisers. They are created using the Haber-Bosch process, getting their hydrogen from methane and nitrogen from the air (our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen). The reaction is usually powered by fossil fuels. This is what you’d be referring to, no doubt. But there is no reason the energy must come from fossil fuels. It could come from solar furnaces or from solar photovoltaics. (see Du, Z.; Denkenberger, D.; Pearce, J.M. (2015). “Solar photovoltaic powered on-site ammonia production for nitrogen fertilization”. Solar Energy. 122: 562–568. Bibcode:2015SoEn..122..562D. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2015.09.035.)


    Technology can be used to protect fish stocks the way it is currently being used to decimate fish stocks. Satellites and radar are used to keep an eye on fishing vessels and on marine reserves. These are necessary to help areas replenish after fishermen crash fish populations, which they do regularly and with wild abandon. Education is helping to reverse this. Satellites and tagging can also help to track rogue operators. More needs to be done, but technology is bridging the gap between what we want to protect and what we actually can.


    Social media campaigns have helped to bring big companies to account for giving money to those who destroy forests and to reverse some of this. More needs to be done, but it is starting to gain momentum. Drones with cameras have been used to gather evidence against illegal logging. Old smartphones attached to random trees through forests have been used to automatically report on illegal logging. Again, education is changing the direction. It is slow, and we need it to be faster, but it is much better than denying it and just giving up.

    Urban sprawl

    This is a strange one. The end of fossil fuels is stopping that without the need for any technological solutions. It is a problem, but one that almost doesn’t need a solution. My personal feeling is that underground housing, which is the only sensible, energy efficient way to build homes will turn what remains of suburban sprawl after the end of fossil fuels back into bushland. Much of suburbia in Australia is heading that way already. There are many places that look like bushland until you get close enough to see each of the houses.

    You throw up things that you think are impossible problems because you haven’t looked at them properly, but only read the rantings of doomsayers, and you never investigate solutions. You regularly deny these solutions even exist, yet you never look into them to find out whether that’s in fact the case. You are far too attached to the idea of doom.

    You talk about reducing populations as the only viable solution, yet in the near term it is neither viable, nor a solution. The weird thing is, in the long term, even if we somehow manage to keep this broken system limping along the same old way, then the population problem will solve itself anyway. You never acknowledge this. Population is no longer an exponential phenomenon. As the population growth rate continues to fall, eventually we would reach and surpass replacement rate and population numbers would fall on their own. Of course we need to reduce population sooner. The only viable way is to increase the standard of living of more people. This can be done efficiently with few resources. It is already beginning to happen. But this isn’t enough. There are other problems. We need to ensure enough food is available to feed everybody even when faced with massive climate change. We need to expedite the move to renewable energy sources. We need to focus on the virtue of efficiency instead of extravagance of conspicuous over-consumption. We need to alter a society of people expecting work to be their purpose in life so that they can instead find value in being human.

    We are surrounded by solutions to these problems. Some are technological solutions, some are educational, some are simply procedural. But we do have solutions. By willfully blinding yourself to them you show yourself for who you are: an apocalypticist — someone who loves doom more than freedom and life.

    But I expect you’ll never change. You have a true religious devotion to it which will forever resist reason and evidence.

    Funny, eh? The one who fervently hates religion is himself deeply religious.

  84. Harquebus

    Irv Mills
    Yes and I did not delete the comment.
    Thank you for your response.
    I have a lot of admiration and respect for you.

    For those interested, here is Irv’s blog. I highly recommend.

    Businesses do not need growth, they need profit.
    Whatever the future holds, it won’t be business as usual.

    Miriam English
    You didn’t see my search criteria mentioning phosphorus?
    What you mentioned might be helping but, it is very little and in my opinion, aren’t and won’t repair the damage.
    Please give me some time to examine your comments more closely. I still haven’t got around to properly pursuing those from this morning.
    Once again, I do appreciate your participation. You are a good source of information and that also is appreciated.


  85. diannaart


    Your reasonable responses to Harquebus’ ‘skies are falling’ rhetoric are to be applauded.

    Harquebus, your courteous replies to those with whom you disagree is laudable. You may be right and the sky will fall – but not yet, humans aren’t finished yet.

  86. Matters Not

    Miriam English November 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    We are surrounded by solutions to these problems. Some are technological solutions, some are educational, some are simply procedural. But we do have solutions.

    Yep! Take ‘food’ for prawns as an example. No need to feed prawns on wild fish anymore.

    The research started in the late 1990s when CSIRO researchers observed the important role marine microbial organisms play in the natural diet of prawns. The team spent several years learning how to manipulate marine microbial organisms to maximise their productivity in controlled environments, and stimulating them to produce a novel bioactive product to enhance prawn growth.

    The research integrated skills in prawn biology, microbiology, biochemistry and nutrition. The result was Novacq, an entirely natural food source produced by marine microbes

    Food from ‘marine microbes’. They are now working on foods for other marine species.


    Then there’s the Queen Garnet plum. The Anti Oxidant Plum

  87. Harquebus

    If I am wrong in my assessments then, I will crawl under a rock and try to deal with my embarrassment as best I can but, I have no intention of waiting to see before doing something.
    For what it is worth, I hope I am wrong but, I don’t think so and consequently I feel that I have to do something and voicing my concerns as often and to as many as I can is it.
    Debt is currently masking a lot of problems and the next financial crisis, the biggy, will expose a lot of the deception concerning “jobs and growth”.
    If you haven’t already seen it, please humor me and watch the first 30 minutes of Prof. Bartlett’s presentation that I have linked to in my 10:21 am comment. I think you will then see where I am coming from in regards to growth and depletion. It creeps up on you slowly at first but, then quickly accelerates.

    Matters Not
    I have been posting food related articles here. You might be interested.
    Thanks for the links. I will follow them soon.


  88. diannaart


    I will try to find time to check out video


  89. Miriam English

    Harquebus, again you use a response beloved by religious people. Instead of acknowledging and considering points answered you simply deflect and raise more questions. It seems it’s pointless to pursue this with you. It’s your religion. You believe (based on incomplete information) and contradicting data is not allowed past your filters. You’re stuck in an echo chamber of doom. (Sounds like the name of a corny 1950s SF movie.)

    You are one person I’d especially recommend ceases to use Google for searches and to use DuckDuckGo instead. Google feeds back to you more of what you search for by learning your preferences from what you choose. Watch this short, brilliant TED talk by Eli Pariser to see why.

  90. Harquebus

    Miriam English

    I don’t use google and have asked for more time to examine your comments more fully. Trust me, I do not dismiss you out of hand but, like you, I also have other things to do.

    Most of my information comes from news and science aggregators. I have saved hundreds of links to fall back on and usually do not need an internet search engine to locate supporting evidence or opinion.
    Links that I post I have read and when I do use a search engine, I include the search criteria.

    You have failed to convince me as I have failed to convince you. That is all. Sooner or later, one of us will be proved right and you appear to be confident it will be you. I hope it is but, honestly don’t think so.
    You are just as stubborn with your opinions as I am with mine.

    I do like you and have a lot of respect for you. I appreciate your comments and do not want our disagreements to cause us any conflict nor upset.


  91. Harquebus

    I have reread recent comments, viewed the videos and read all of the links except for Kyran’s U.N. report which, I have browsed and will study later. Thank you all for the information.

    While some have mentioned declining fertility rates, there is also a corresponding declining mortality rate that also needs to be factored. I have not investigated this aspect enough to make a definitive comment however, during my initial brief investigation to this aspect, I came across this:

    “a population that has recently dropped below replacement fertility rate continues to grow because the recent high fertility produced large number of young couples who would now be in their child bearing years. The phenomenon carries forward for several generations and is called population momentum or population lag effect. The time lag effect is of great importance to human population growth rates.”

    Search criteria: declining mortality rates

    An increased effort to reduce birthrates, in my current opinion, is required to overcome this population lag effect.

    Miriam English

    I think that we are perceiving problems and solutions from different perspectives.

    While technology and invention have and are making great strides, they are supported by an industrial infrastructure built on technology and inventions of the past.

    There is a complex industrial supply chain that supports this infrastructure and it is susceptible to constraints and disruptions especially in regards to transport. I have a lot of experience in engineering supply chains and logistics and know how important and susceptible they are. The lack of a single component or resource can bring systems to a halt causing a cascading effect.

    There is also the economic aspect. The massive amounts of global debt has brought forward spending for the sole purpose of maintaining growth. When the results of this folly are realized, business and industries will close further limiting essential supplies.

    Having the knowledge to solve problems is one thing, having the resources and industrial backing to implement the solutions is another. I think that you need to consider these aspects more.

    I know that you are pursuing technological solutions to maintain a sufficient and ecologically neutral lifestyle while I on the other hand, am pursuing a back to basics approach. Perhaps it would be better if we each continued our individual endeavors and compare notes as we go. As you know, I have seen your website and know what it is that you are trying to achieve and I am genuinely interested.

    The abhota link that you provided is full of absurdities often based on religion. It is good for a laugh only. Thanks for that. The concerns that I express are based on mathematics and physical realities.

    Thank you for your considered and thoughtful input.


  92. Zathras


    It still doesn’t answer the question of what happens to a society where there is one retiree for every two working taxpayers, which is where we are inevitably heading.

    It’s easy to say cut the benefits to retirees but they are pretty much on the poverty line already.
    Having an army of homeless elderly beggars on the streets may not fit in with current social expectations, especially if that’s what the existing workforce thinks is ahead for them also.

    The idea that it’s feasible to have a static population that doesn’t age cannot work within the existing system and our culture is not one of providing ongoing family support, like some Asian and European societies.

    One solution is to increase taxes now to provide a solution for the future, like most Scandinavian countries but the current political climate prevents this.

    Soylent Green anyone?

    According to my school days here in the 21st century we should be flying to work on atomic powered rocket packs by now.
    That was conjecture by we’re dealing in real facts now and the problems are only a couple of decades away.

  93. Miriam English

    Zathras, that’s why the beginning of large scale automation and the dawn of artificial intelligence (AI) is so encouraging. Having cars drive themselves is more energy efficient (and safer) than having humans drive them and energy savings should similarly occur in many areas where humans will be replaced by automation. Such mass unemployment will force the issue. It should become obvious, even to right-wing politicians, that having a utopia where machines support humanity is much better than most of the population thrown into desperate poverty to rise up in violent overthrow of the political and moneyed masters.

    Thus the aged should, if we work this properly, live well even with fewer and fewer young people because we should have AIs to help us. They’ll almost certainly not look like the androids in the TV series “Humans”, but will be embedded in our homes and wearable devices, perhaps also some exoskeletons for some who would otherwise be relatively immobile.

    If we fail to get this right then we may have a very bad time indeed.

  94. Harquebus


    Here is the response that I made to the same question earlier.
    “I also think that in order to break the cycle of growth, at least one generation is going to have to bite the bullet and lower their expectations of retirement and that generation will be the boomers of which, I am one. Physical realities will hit them hard and will probably include them losing their super and savings.”

    To continue to increase our populations just to serve the elderly can not be sustained. The damage that this concept has caused is already severe.

    Miriam English

    Somehow I don’t see the masses of unemployed traveling extensively due to efficiency gains in their own driverless vehicles but, hey, you never know.

    Here is a subject that has come up on my list a few times that you might be interested in. It could be that robots will even replace us as taxpayers.

    “If robots are going to steal human jobs and otherwise disrupt society, they should at the very least pay taxes.”


  95. Zathras


    I’m a boomer too and have been a self-funded retiree for 9 months and so far, surviving OK.
    That’s mainly because I had been paying into super for over 40 years and made sacrifices along the way.

    I certainly agree that the current system is unsustainable but I’m trying to imagine a practical solution to what we already have to deal with.

    Your suggestion could only be implemented by the Government seizing the savings and assets of the elderly to help fund their retirement or perhaps keeping medical care out of reach to kill them off early as the popular Malthusian solution.
    Enforced euthanasia at a certain age is another way – but there may be some resistance from aging retired politicians, considering the eternal security of their own Future Fund.

    They’ve already moved the pension eligibility age upward to buy time but the whole existing system has an in-built inevitability about it.
    Some people simply cannot physically keep working until they drop and the evolving system of “McJobs” doesn’t always cater for the infirm.
    If not this generation, perhaps the next one will have be sacrificed? Or the next two?

    How inspired would younger generations feel about working hard when they see what’s waiting for them then their own time comes?
    If I suspected that my savings would eventually be taken away I certainly would have had a different working life and attitude.

    I didn’t invent the current system but we’re all stuck with it and the only way it can change is to tear it all down and start again.
    “You can’t get there from here”.

    Apart from all the philosophical chatter I just can’t see a practical way to change things without some sort of (probably global) catastrophic event as a catalyst.

    From the current look of things we may not have to wait very long.

  96. Miriam English

    Harquebus, agreed. Unemployed people will make far fewer journeys. I pointed that out in my comment before. As I also said, they’ll eat less takeaway (the most expensive and wasteful way to eat), and need to buy less of the clothes needed for work. It should reduce consumption considerably. I know you were being sarcastic, but it will be a great advantage and I’m very much in favor of it.

    I’ve often wondered if robots should be taxed. But regardless of whether they should or not, we already know they won’t. Automatic teller machines are robots, DVD players are robots, washing machines are robots, almost every industry makes extensive use of robots. The robots are already here; they have been for years.

    When I was a young nerd in high school half a century(!!!) ago I came up with a way to painlessly replace the human workforce with a robotic one: let each worker buy the robot that replaces them and they would be responsible for repairing it and upgrading it. That might have worked really well, but it never happened. It’s obvious why. It’s much cheaper for the bosses to fire the workers and replace them with machines that don’t need a pay packet.

  97. Miriam English

    Zathras, we can get there from here.

    It actually isn’t difficult. I’m constantly amazed that so few people see it.

    Perhaps that’s because the mainstream media refuse to talk about it.

    Perhaps it’s because people like Harquebus harp on and on about doom, mesmerising people so they can’t hear solutions anymore.

    The coordinated introduction of a universal basic income with large scale automation would do it. There’s no magic. No catastrophe needed.

    Massive automation is coming whether we plan for it or not, or even whether we like it or not.

    A universal basic income is affordable right now and will be even more so after massive automation increases productivity (machines rarely make mistakes, don’t get bored or need to sleep and don’t take weekends or holidays).

    The catch? The very wealthy need to pay taxes.

  98. Zathras

    Miriam English,

    Back in my school days we were told that one of the biggest social problems we will be facing by the end of the millennium will be what do do with all our spare time.

    The idea was that automation would be our servant and we would only need to work 2 or 3 days a week and the rest would be spend on leisure time and we should already be planning for such a future.

    What happened was that automation just replaced many manufacturing jobs and made a lot of consumer items cheaper but we are working longer hours than ever just to stay afloat.

    We actually work longer hours with automation than they did during medieval times without it.

    Driverless cars may be a reality but not yet a practical one for us all and robotic servants to cook and clean are still a very long way off.
    Even so, we would have to work just to pay for them, like many need to do for Child-Minding Centres.

    People may be besotted with their mobile phones and flatscreen TVs but they are not the same thing.
    I for one would not like to be speeding down the expressway when my driverless car decides to reboot itself or swerves to miss a Pokemon on the highway.

    The idea of a Universal Basic Income is also at odds with our social and economic reality.
    If you have a reasonable standard of living with technology doing everything for you, who needs to be wealthy?

    Google “The Venus Project” for what you are probably hoping for (and much more) but it just can’t happen in this current environment.
    As idealistic and desirable as it seems, it will always remain out of reach under the status quo.

  99. Harquebus

    What I am doing is honing my gardening skills and making sure that I get along with my neighbors. You can also try what Miriam English is doing in developing an energy efficient and sustainable lifestyle through new technology, efficiency gains, innovation and resourcefulness which, I don’t think a future energy constrained world will be able to provide.
    I was told something the same in grade 7 in relation to increased leisure time.

    Miriam English
    You use the plural in relation to “solution” whereas I use the singular.
    I think it was one of your youtubes that stated that it doesn’t matter if robots are 10 times slower than humans if they are 100th the cost to operate.
    Anyway, robotics and drones are now with us and we will see the results of their inception. I hope they do provide more benefit than is the worth of their external costs however, for time being, I will remain skeptical. Governments have never been averse to using technology in keeping tabs on nor control over their citizens.


  100. Miriam English

    Zathras, “If you have a reasonable standard of living with technology doing everything for you, who needs to be wealthy?”

    It isn’t a matter of when the robots will come; they are already here. As I said above to H, automatic teller machines are robots, DVD players are robots, washing machines are robots, almost every industry makes extensive use of robots. Our computers and smartphones are increasingly soft robots that do a lot of things you would have paid someone to do before.

    I agree the Venus Project has little hope of being a major success. It may enjoy some small success, but I seriously doubt it will spread. It uses the same old centralised thinking it seeks to replace. You can see it even in their building design.

    Since Trump got elected the status quo has exploded. It is clear even to the most comfortable observer that the system is seriously sick.

  101. Kaye Lee

    People living longer doesn’t really affect population growth Harquebus because we don’t keep having kids as we age. We want to delay the age at which people choose to start breeding – that’s what makes a difference. (achieved through all the means we have already discussed). Legislation restricting reproduction is not a desirable way to go and not necessary – we can address the problem in far better ways.

    As we have all agreed, religion must change their stance on contraception and abortion.

    Voluntary euthenasia really should also be an option.

    As for how we support a growing elderly population, MMT helps to a degree. We should also mobilise the skills of retirees and recognise and reward the volunteer and caring roles they fill. Tony Windsor spoke of a study that showed how much we can save if we can facilitate people delaying going into aged care facilities for even a year.

  102. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    I don’t know enough about the effects mortality rates on population growth to make a definitive comment. I just came across it and put it up for discussion.
    Most of the rest I agree.
    Did you get around to watching Bartlett’s presentation above. As a former maths teacher, you should enjoy it.

    “Watch humans go from a tiny group in Africa to 7 billion around the world, in 5 minutes”

  103. Rapideffect

    Hi Harquebus, good article mate.

    Unfortunately there is only one solution to population overshoot and that is collapse of global civilization. Population is increasing at approx 80 million a year, the percentage of increase being lower now than it has been previously makes people think somehow humanity is reducing it’s size but they don’t realize that the number of people has grown massively as the growth percentage has decreased, thus the number of humans is increasing not the other way around.

    To maintain global civilization fossil fuels need to be consumed and since fossil fuels are finite this energy will not be consumed indefinitely. (Nuclear energy is also finite).

    Energy is the most important resource, as everything anyone has ever done or will ever do requires energy. Every thought you have ever had, every meal you have ever eaten, every plant and animal ever born all require energy.

    The global economy is on the verge of collapse, as there is not enough cheap and easy to extract energy (specifically oil). Without growing the amount of energy consumed every year the global economy cannot grow. When this energy is too expensive the consumers in the economy can’t afford the products made and so demand falls. This has been happening for some time, but governments decided to print money to try and paper over this problem. Zirp, Nirp, quantitative easing and many other money tricks are keeping the illusion of growth alive, but only for a short time this will work.

    The problem of global civilization is global civilization. All civilizations before this global civilization have collapsed, but unlike other civilizations where the remaining people (after collapse) could move to another area with more resources, we can’t colonize another planet.

  104. Harquebus

    You are one of the few who actually gets it. Your comment is an accurate summary of how I perceive our current situation to be as well. I totally agree with you.
    Thank you for your contribution.

  105. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Actually H,

    I was being polite to Rapideffect earlier by staying silent. He isn’t right and neither are you if you share the same doomsday attitude that we have nowhere to go.

    “Global civilization”: what does that mean to you?

  106. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Recognizing our situation for what it is, is necessary. We must change course. Describing our situation as Rapideffect has does not mean we have nowhere to go if, we act now and there will not be any action until the urgency of our current situation is realized.

    “Global civilization” to me is; currently a massive energy guzzling system of services and supply wholly dependent on crude oil to deliver them.

    I have said before and will repeat, I always appreciate your efforts even when we don’t agree.


  107. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    It seems to me, H,

    on the one hand, you support fossil fuels in the form of coal …

    but you are circumspect when it comes to oil.

    I find it confusing that sometimes you provide common ground for ALL of us to go forward in finding Climate Action solutions while feeding our planet’s people and providing dignified, sustainable living …

    and then other times, you allow doomsday surrender-talk to eclipse your more enlightened offerings.

  108. Miriam English

    Jennifer, it’s because he doesn’t really believe there’s any solution.

    Rapideffect, you, like so many others, overlook the effectively endless energy raining down on us from the sun as solar energy. We also have wind energy, wave power, tidal energy, and geothermal energy. All it takes is for us to be reasonably efficient in the way we use it. Granted, the days of splurging energy — wasting 99% to use 1% — are nearly over, but that doesn’t mean the collapse of civilisation. It just means adapting; being rather more aware and smart. It doesn’t even have to be difficult. Jeez. Over-react much.

  109. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith and Miriam

    There is a solution. Please refer to the top of this page.

    I do not and have not supported fossil fuels for quite some time and nor I do not support renewable energy.
    In the face of these two sources being unable to provide energy in any large and affordable quantities, there can only be one solution that is the heading of this article. How is a matter for a later debate because, the first priority is convincing politicians and others that population growth is a problem and that to lower it is the only viable option.
    My pessimism is a direct result of inaction by politicians on so many issues. There is, when one looks, not a lot to be confident about.

    An example:
    I listened to Malcolm Turnbull the other day proudly announce $3bn for upgrades to Victoria’s roads. Great I thought, that really helps. Now the soon to be privileged working class will spend a few minutes less per day sitting in their imported cars.
    Then there was someone recently on the Press Club spruiking the growth that must be sustained. A room full of journalists hanging on every word and not one questioned the impossibility of sustaining such an absurd concept.

    So, reality doesn’t look so good. Please forgive me for being one of the few who are willing to face it.


  110. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    your observations are spot on about the wankers who call themselves politicians and MSM journos.

    However, your discussion contains a negative quality that could deny energetic activists the oxygen needed to push against those wankers.

    Speak UP the activism!

  111. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Fear of death is the greatest of all motivators.

    What will my detractors say when the reaper is staring them in the face?
    “Harq, why didn’t you shout louder?”
    What will I say to my detractors if I am wrong.
    “Oops, sorry ’bout that.”

    I can wear the embarrassment if I am wrong. Can my detractors wear the consequences if I am not? It won’t be as easy as would saying sorry is.

    “True courage is the path of the spirit-driven activist…the warrior of truth…the status quo crusher.” — Deb Ozarko

    I think that you will like Deb Ozarko.


  112. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    you’ve finally updated your political position on how to effect socio-economic reforms for environmental security and human survival.

    Now that I know you hold those opposite outcomes in your thinking, I might be able to continue my observations for a while, if I see effort in finding solutions for bringing people together to make it happen.

  113. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Please refer to my November 18, 2016 at 9:52 am comment here:

    Together is the only way that it is ever going to happen, whatever it is that’s going to happen.


  114. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Might I be boring enough to suggest that you simply re-state your position …

    … or at least quote it!

  115. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    Suggestion accepted.

    “How do we change the political mindset toward favoring humanity and the environment over corporate profit?
    I am one of a few who contacts politicians regularly and have been told by some, even by theAIMN contributors that, I am wasting my time. Perhaps if a lot more would make the effort we could make a difference and even more so if, we collaborated and coordinated. Just a thought.”


  116. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    good on you for putting your words into action. However, don’t assume others don’t do the same.

    Nevertheless, we all need to be vigilant and advocate to the MP’s and their support staff once, twice, three times and then some more, so that they know we will not give up and go back into a long sleep.

  117. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I am thinking rather than one petition with many signatures, to coordinate many to construct individual letters or emails concerning a topic of common interest and forward them to the relevant politicians and/or journalists. A blitz. I would go for weekly but, monthly I think would not be too much to ask of someone. Each month could be a different topic with a different set of recipients.
    By cooperating, we can devise our arguments and by coordinating, make sure that our concerns are at least considered if not addressed.

    I have offered this suggestion before with no takers. That did a lot of good for my less than optimistic attitude and so, it was not mentioned again until now.

    What do you think? If it could happen, shit, I would even open a facebook account just to participate. Would facebook be the best social media platform to use.


  118. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Sorry H,

    I’ve just read your last comment and it sounds good to me.

  119. Alan Baird

    We’re either polyannas or realists. I can’ t see the combined forces of religion, politics, media and commerce relenting on their pursuit of growth forever. I also can’t see Joe Average seeing beyond the above forces. As a species, we are wilfully blind on overpopulation. WE SHALL continue down this well-trodden road. If the Chinese curse was “may you live in interesting times”, the future sounds fascinating.
    PS. Whenever the words “ageing population” are used, I get ready for the predictable: “therefore we have to increase the population in order to pay for the elderly in their retirement” to which I always reply: then when our NEWLY CREATED BULGE IN THE POPULATION reaches retirement age we’ll have to INCREASE POPULATION EVEN FURTHER TO PAY FOR THE BULGE’S RETIREMENT”. This is a thick argument used by demographers to fool the thick. Big fleas have little fleas, upon their backs to bite ’em… They NEVER point out the logical knock-on effect but apparently that’s alright. This is the way the media currently functions. Have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lay (sic) down. Do not think things through. We’re all going to be winners…

  120. Harquebus

    Thank you Alan Baird.
    Another one who gets it.

  121. Rapideffect

    Miriam English said:

    Granted, the days of splurging energy — wasting 99% to use 1% — are nearly over, but that doesn’t mean the collapse of civilisation. It just means adapting; being rather more aware and smart. It doesn’t even have to be difficult. Jeez. Over-react much.

    Miriam English, if it’s not difficult for 7.4billion humans to become sustainable on planet earth, I would like to see evidence that this is possible. I don’t overreact, but it appears that you have, i’m more than willing to change my position, if you can refute the facts Harquebus has been sharing.

    Jennifer Meyer-SmithNovember 18, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Actually H,

    I was being polite to Rapideffect earlier by staying silent. He isn’t right and neither are you if you share the same doomsday attitude that we have nowhere to go.

    “Global civilization”: what does that mean to you?

    No need to stay quiet, discussion is what i’m here for. I have no doomsday attitude, I like facts to come to my conclusions, something you did not ask for. Instead of asking for evidence to back up my words you immediately tried to attack the messenger, for the message is based in fact and absent of belief.

    I’m sure Harquebus can back up my claims with his extensive resources, I have quite a few resources/sources to back my words, but nothing as thorough. Being right is good, but being wrong (sometimes) is also good as it means you have learned something and therefore your view/perspective/position should shift, making oneself that tiny bit wiser… Decisions made with facts are far more successful than basing them on blind faith/belief. I do not claim to be right, far from it. You see one thing that i’m almost certain of is we are both wrong. Predicting the future is somewhat beyond human abilities.

    Jennifer Meyer-SmithNovember 18, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    It seems to me, H,

    on the one hand, you support fossil fuels in the form of coal …

    but you are circumspect when it comes to oil.

    I find it confusing that sometimes you provide common ground for ALL of us to go forward in finding Climate Action solutions while feeding our planet’s people and providing dignified, sustainable living …

    and then other times, you allow doomsday surrender-talk to eclipse your more enlightened offerings.

    Jennifer Meyer-SmithNovember, Harquebus is wanting to start discussion, serious discussion for a very real and imminent problem. Harquebus provides evidence that no one has tried to refute/debate here at Aimn with their own research.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts.

  122. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, if you check above you’ll find I’ve refuted Harquebus’ arguments time and time again. It never has any effect on him of course. He just continues with the same doom mantra.

    In particular, you might like to check my comments above at November 12, 2016 at 2:29 pm and at November 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm where I gave detailed replies about solutions. In many other replies I outlined other ways the future need not be grim.

    Will we get through this without major calamity? No, after all, 16 million people dying of starvation each year right now can already be considered a calamity. But we are fixing things. We are alleviating poverty, reducing population growth, increasing people’s access to knowledge.

    We are smart enough to avoid global collapse. Will greed block that? I don’t know. We do have more people helping each other than ever before in history. We have more access to knowledge than ever before in history. There are a lot of things to be optimistic about.

    Or you could listen to Harquebus and give up.

  123. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    if you want to do good, you need to bring together people from both sides of the response spectrum. There are those who repeat words of doom and there are those who don’t say die.

    For all our sakes, you should be encouraging those who don’t say die with informed positive ideas for actions while encouraging those who seem willing to give up, to keep trying and believing a little longer, so the others can prove they will be successful.

  124. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    We agree on the major problems that we face and a lot of the causes. We have different opinions on the solution in my case, solutions in yours. You have made your arguments and have failed to convince me as I have you. I do appreciate your efforts and do not expect you to constantly repeat yourself. If you come across something new to support your arguments, I will read it.
    If I had given up, I wouldn’t be here.

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    And there are also those who “reached the decision that nothing can or should be done”. They are called Deadbeat Doomers. I put myself in the category of Do-more Doomer but, prefer the term used in the article below, “Serious Survivalist”.

    “Many thoughtful scientists whisper to each other what they can’t address publicly for fear of spreading panic, but what they see is terrifying: hundreds of species dying each day, a vanishing polar icecap, areas of the world, now unrecognizable, are deserts or flood plains. Vast plastic “islands” in our oceans have become “dead zones” or worse. Part of the frustration is the incredible senselessness of it all.
    Yet Doomers are the ones that are considered “crazy,” while magical thinking (“We’ll come up with something. I know…let’s trade ‘carbon credits!’ That way, the market will resolve it all!”) passes for a sane and constructive discourse.”

  125. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I’m sick of semantics, H.

    Get real and positive or I won’t and can’t respond.

  126. cornlegend

    I reckon you are spot on in this article.
    I have been amazed at the number of band aid solutions to cover the open heart surgery needed.
    Without monumental change we are up shit creek .
    The planet will have had enough
    Call me a “doomer” ok no worries, I can wear that

  127. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I did not think that semantics was the problem.

    There are, in my opinion, only a few that actually “get it”. Rapideffect, Alan Baird and now cornlegend the most recent to come to light. Irv Mills is another and there are a few more. Most of the rest, including yourself and whose opinion I value, I am trying my hardest to convince which, I am obviously failing to do.

    I can see my submission disappearing into the bowels of internet history having, just like all the thousands of others like it and issuing the same warnings, not produced any positive outcome. Is that my fault or those who don’t listen because they don’t like the message.

    If you want to understand more, I have posted some of Irv Mills work above on November 13, 2016 at 1:23 pm.
    If you don’t then, I can only suggest that you ignore those parts of my “rhetoric” that you upset you.

    “We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” — Ayn Rand


    “Serious survivalist” mate. “Doomer” sounds too negative.


  128. Miriam English


    Yes, I know you say you haven’t given up, but you really have, as you and I both know population can’t be magically stopped the way you say. The only sensible way to lower population is by lifting the standard of living of those who breed fastest and that requires all the other solutions that help us live more lightly on the Earth in the meantime and after. It is being done and it works; all those other solutions are being followed up, with many being adopted already.

    It is telling that you deny all the other solutions that can bring about the solution to overpopulation. And you’ll work hard to infuse others with the same sense of doom and hopelessness.

    You’re like the Jehova’s Witnesses that come around to convert me every couple of months. They are usually very nice people who think the world is going to hell. They preach doom too. They think they want to save people, but they actually love the idea of doom. Their whole worldview depends upon it.

  129. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    True Miriam.

    Doomers are also lazy people. It sounds like hard work to act proactively and to endorse the positive developments, as Miriam has suggested numerous times above are happening.

  130. Harquebus

    Miriam English

    Regardless of any arguments on the implementations of population policy, the first step has to be convincing the media and politicians that we do have a population problem. I have sent this article plus another by Kaye Lee to them including to the Prime Minister. So far, only one South Australian senator has acknowledged my concern. That and some of the comments made here has given me some encouragement to continue my quest.
    I feel that I am doing something, however “hopeless” my efforts may seem and wish that a few more would do as much.

    Doom and hopelessness it may appear to be but, the intention is to issue serious warning and for an urgent call to action. With all of the damage and conflict that is accelerating around our world, I am flummoxed as to why more can not see the connections.

    I think that you might enjoy the types of doomers link that I posted above last night.

    Thanks again for taking the time to express your opinions.


  131. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    I do not wish to make you ill so, I will just say that your comment (ouch!) has been noted.

  132. cornlegend

    “now cornlegend the most recent to come to light.”
    I’m not a newcomer to the cause, just smart enough to stay to buggery away from the topic until some had run out of comments

  133. Harquebus


    I understand that. Your views on this subject were not known to me until your most welcome comment.
    Advocating population reduction is not the easiest of ways to make friends.


  134. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Nobody is disputing the wisdom of population reduction. Like everything, it is the means by which programs are implemented that matter. Like everything also, wise acknowledgement of natural and innovative processes taking place is important.

  135. corvus boreus

    IMHO, you are correct and we (ie; collective humanity) are completely buggered (ie; rooted up the shitter).
    Overpopulation, resource over-exploitation and ecological collapse continue to increase, the obvious basic practical solutions (use less, breed less) are instinctively impalatable, and the inherent difficulty in any such measures gaining broad acceptance is being compounded by a (media fed) global rise in political and religious fundamentalism.
    The time for effective change has very likely passed, yet the reality of our plight continues to be widely denied.
    I see no solution beyond the malthusian, and thus am devoting more and more of my time to prepping my nest (a remote patch on clean headwaters) and visiting sites of ecological significance and natural beauty (to cherish them whilst they still exist).
    Little time left for blogging, which seems like a complete WOFTAE.
    Dark times coming; glad I’ve always bagged my seed.

  136. Kaye Lee


    That’s a gutless comment. Could you tell me what sort of “monumental change” you would like to see and how you would achieve it?

    We have options.

    Another thing we could do that might be a compromise for people’s concerns is to limit immigration to humanitarian visas for a few years and take more to help during this crisis. The only skilled migration should be for people with exceptional skills and this should be much more rigorously policed which it could be if there were less of them. That would amount to about 100,000 less incomers which is the only thing keeping us above replacement rate.

  137. Miriam English

    Harquebus, do you seriously think there is anybody on the planet who doesn’t know overpopulation is a massive problem??? Really? That’s your rationale?

    You’re wasting your time. Everybody already knows. But worse than that, you’re spreading despair and hopelessness that are yet more obstacles to solving the problems we face.

    We need ways to turn people towards solutions, not making them think it’s all hopeless and that they need to lock themselves away with a gun and a reliable water supply.

    Do you really not get what you’re doing? You’re convincing people to give up. That’s not the answer. That’s the opposite.

  138. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    As you stated previously, “both sides of the response spectrum” except, I can not help but put myself firmly on one and see folly on the other. There is common ground though and I hope that we can meet there.
    Either way, a political acceptance of the problem and realizing the need for a solution has to occur first.

    corvus boreus
    Long time no hear.
    My current and forward thinking, at this point in time, is very similar to yours.


  139. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee
    Pleased to hear your opinion on my comment
    “Could you tell me what sort of “monumental change” you would like to see and how you would achieve it?”
    I don’t know exactly how we could achieve it other that eliminating half the current world population for a start
    and bugger me if I know how we heal a dying planet
    Stephen Hawking: Humans only have about 1,000 years left

    So, I think we need a bit better effort than a bit of recycling and a few more condoms
    You may say it was a “gutless comment” and good on you but I am a bit over the fluff and some discussion sometime on “voluntary euthanasia” as a saving grace.
    Now even you can”t see that as a solution, surely?
    Don’t you really think we are past that ?

  140. Kaye Lee

    I am in absolute agreement that no one single measure can possibly provide the answer. I am also aware that the planet has finite resources and that they are running out.

    But I have to point out that this has always been a dying planet. Sooner or later our sun will die even if, by some weird intervention, some form of life lasted that long. A meteor will strike sometime. There will be catastrophic natural disasters. So should we give up and enjoy the ride? Should we say we were always f*cked, it’s a just a matter of when,

    Or should we do what we can, when we can by the means available to us, to maybe just extend that another 1000 years while they find and terraform another planet…or maybe even learn to care for this one?

    PS the gutless referred to “just smart enough to stay to buggery away from the topic until some had run out of comments”. You are not obliged to ever respond to anyone and surely you invite comment when posting an online opinion

  141. Harquebus

    Miriam English

    Not so and please do not take offense at this but, I do not think that the solutions that you have offered will succeed. Sorry.
    “Everybody already knows” about the population problem but, most are not doing anything about it.

    Firearms and reliable water won’t be enough. One must develop good relations with one’s neighbors, be able to improvise and provide or at the very minimum, supplement their food. It will be local trades and barter that will rule. When supply chains break and they are already weakening, you will not be able to purchase many of the devices that you say will alleviate the problems that over population has already produced.

    There is something special about you that makes me wish that we could agree more. Truly. I try to be honest in expressing my opinions and in that effort, annoying you, Jennifer and a few others is not my intention.

    As I said before, I know that you are a busy person and appreciate your effort in the contributions that you make, whenever and wherever at theAIMN they appear.


  142. cornlegend

    “just smart enough to stay to buggery away from the topic until some had run out of comments”. You are not obliged to ever respond to anyone and surely you invite comment when posting an online opinion”
    You regard it as gutless, to me it’s common sense.
    I know full well I am not obliged to respond, but some, I just can’t help myself .
    I also figure, that if you and others don’t like my comment you have the ability to just ignore.
    That is exactly what I did, until leaving a comment for Harquebus on a great topic and article he wrote.
    I know he was lambasted over a great period of time for not putting up, but I just assumed he was one who didn’t deem it necessary to have an opinion on everything and the final word on most
    Given I have lots to do , I guess I will taper off my comments on AIMN

  143. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    you don’t annoy me all the time. 🙂

    Besides, I welcome the idea of bartering with my neighbours. I am all for promoting micro-business prospects for grassroots people.

    See my comment on Kaye’s article, ‘We should be nurturing the workforce rather than global corporations’ @10.54am

  144. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    My day just became a lot better.
    I do recall your comment and will reread it.

  145. Kaye Lee

    Of course. I agree it’s a great article and an important topic and have said the same. Where we disagree is that I think it is well past time to be warning about it and time to start doing something about it. The many measures that have been suggested have been shown to affect fertility rates. Whether they can do it by enough is conjecture but many of them are immediately doable for great reward and little cost.

    We have to start somewhere and am open to suggestions on where to start. Turn off the klaxon and put your shoulder to the wheel – so to speak.

    More microfarming might be a good idea

  146. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Thank you. You have provided me with many excellent examples to follow.

    Which journalist would you say has the best chance of bringing this subject into the political discourse.
    Tony Jones and his Q&A perhaps. We could organize a blitz and maybe have this topic discussed on national TV.

    Just a thought.


  147. Kaye Lee

    I think Q&A did a population program a while back. I have been to listen to Peter Singer speak a few times and I remember he was on and was roundly abused as he often is. This has been a valuable thread Harquebus so I am wrong to say sounding the warning is a waste – the ensuing discussion has been interesting….but try to leave us with hope even if you don’t believe it..

    Lenore Taylor is good on environmental matters. Four Corners or Catalyst perhaps?

  148. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee

    Lenore Taylor is on my list and has received links to yours and my articles regarding population.
    Do you know her personally? I will contact her again later and ask her if she has read them and of any population related topics that she is or will be covering.
    I have nearly 70 ABC journalists, staff and programs on my mailing list that have received the same links as Lenore Taylor. Four Corners and Catalyst are not included but, that might soon change.

    Thanks for the tips.

  149. Kaye Lee

    No I don’t know her H.

  150. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Do you have Bridie Jabour, H? She’s approachable.

  151. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    No. If you have it, please send it to me. It will save me from having to figure it out.
    These two: David Marr and Rowan Dean keep alluding me but, I will get them, sooner or later.

  152. Harquebus

    “Jay Forrester, one of the great minds of the 20th century, died at 98, a few days ago.”
    “Forrester’s system dynamics provided results that proved that Malthus had been an optimist. Far from reaching the limits to growth and staying there, as Malthus had imagined, the human civilization was to overshoot the limits and keep growing, only to crash down, badly, afterward. The problem was not just that of a fair distribution of the available resources, but to avoid the collapse of the whole human civilization. The calculations showed that it was possible, but that it required stopping economic growth. That was something that nobody, then as now, couldn’t even imagine to do.”

  153. Harquebus

    “”Sustainable economic growth”, a principal objective of orthodox economics, is an oxymoron according to a real science conjecture that growth within any closed system – including population and economic growth within Earth’s closed biosphere – is ultimately unsustainable.
    “The Limits to Growth report published in 1972 by the Club of Rome tested this conjecture through computer simulations of a future Earth under various assumptions. Its “business-as-usual” simulation predicts catastrophic “overshoot and collapse” of the global economy, natural environment, and human population from about 2020 onwards. Disconcertingly this projection has accurately tracked 40 years of subsequent statistical data. Accordingly it must be heeded as real science.”

  154. OrchidJar

    Good morning Harquebus,
    it’s clear that this subject is a paramount concern to you – do you have any further thoughts
    on what should/could be done now to arrest the horrors you’re depicting?
    What do you see as the political/social strategies necessary for such a change, and
    of great interest to me, their likelihood in today’s modern world?

  155. Harquebus

    Good morning to you too. Thank you for reading my submission.

    Further thoughts:
    Not really. Stop having babies is, in my opinion, the the only solution. Methodology if implemented will almost certainly be varied with education and contraception at the top of the list.

    Kaye Lee has also written a submission on this subject and has addressed some possibilities.

    Political/social strategies;
    Discuss this family and friends, write to your representatives, comment on blogs, discredit religious procreation ideology, oppose the insane growth ideology and contact media organizations and journalists with your concerns and encourage others to the same. This is what I do. If you have other ideas, I would love to hear them.

    Considering the lack of interest the corporate media has in this subject, the likelihood of our concerns being addressed anytime soon is unlikely. It seems that just about every politician and corporate journalist on the planet is obsessed with growth. How long it takes for politicians and corporate journalists to realize the problem and address solutions is how long it will take to reverse population growth if, it does not happen first by nature’s usual brutal and unforgiving ways.

    I have posted a video link above and will post it again for you. I highly recommend it. Note that it is over 20 years old.

    Dr Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

    You and a few others becoming concerned about this issue has encouraged me. Every bit helps. Raising awareness is, in my opinion, probably the best strategy at this point in time.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I appreciate your well thought out comments on other pages and the time that you take to present them. I do read them.


  156. Henry Rodrigues

    Most of the overpopulation is occurring in countries that can least afford it, like those in Africa and the Middle east, with tradition, culture and religion being the driving factors. Countries that cannot support their present populations, keep doubling, tripling and no one is prepared to call it out. The result is, massive climate change, depleted resources and mass migrations. Add to that raging conflicts, and the future for the world and its environment, is bleak indeed. All the UN does is apply bandages but does nothing to cure the problem.

  157. Miriam English

    enry, yes, it has long been known that population growth is fastest where living conditions are poor and where there is no social safety net. On the other hand, where the living standard is good and there is a social safety net birthrate quickly falls to below replacement.

    There are a few reasons for this.

    In places where life is difficult because of disease, war, and starvation people have many children in the hope that at least a couple of them survive. There is also the risk of the parents dying, in which case multiple children are needed to look after each other. Where there is no social safety net they rely upon their children to look after them into their old age.

    In places where the people have a comfortable living standard with low rates of disease, education, easy low-cost access to contraception, and a reliable social safety net, things are quite different. People know their children will almost certainly survive into adulthood so they can focus their efforts on fewer kids, improving the future for them. They can spend more time on their own careers and education because they don’t need their children to look after them, thus many opt to be childless. Cheap easy access to contraceptives, education, and social security are all essential to this.

    The UN and many philanthropic groups and charities are making great changes in this respect. They are raising the standard of living in the most poverty-stricken parts of the world through various means. One of the most important is to make education and contraceptives and financial independence available to women and girls. Men need to be helped too, but as they generally already have more power than women anyway it’s been found that the biggest impact for the dollar can be had by targeting girls and women with help. Another way the UN in particular, is helping is through peacekeeping efforts. Armed conflict is the greatest creator of starvation and poverty, and it is a vicious cycle — war creates scarcity, and then further conflict breaks out over the few remaining resources. Other strategies are reducing disease by making toilets available, which also gives a source of fertiliser for gardens, wells for clean, easily accessible water, solar panels and LED lights so people don’t need expensive, dirty, illness-causing kerosene lamps.

    There are many other things being done. But don’t expect the mainstream media to tell you about them. They want you scared witless and feeling powerless; they’re not interested in solutions.

    If you want to see how much the situation is improving, check out these pages:

    It is pretty-much all good news. The rate of increase has been falling since the early 1960s, but can we reduce population growth fast enough to get to below replacement level before our environment fully comes undone? I don’t know. Nobody does yet. I advocate using all the solutions we have at our disposal in order to reach a safe state as soon as possible.

  158. jimhaz

    Population growth in poor countries has low initial impact on global warming and deeply harmful pollution – except in terms of forest land clearing in places like Brazil.

    It is not where the global problem currently resides (some may suffer starvation, but that is not a global problem). I’d day a pop increase of 10 persons from low developed countries would equal just 1 westerner in terms of harm we do to the environment. Do not expect us to change, we wont accept further regression of our countries in order to help others and quite frankly nor should we. It is not how the universe works, be it personal or group behaviour or in evolutionary terms.

    It will progressively increase as a problem even for current developing countries as technology adoption decreases early death prevention, and increases the capability of the land to have a higher population. The larger the population base in a low development state the larger the impact they will eventually have as a developed country. At a certain level of development we can expect populations to rapidly increase in numbers – however this may no longer occur with declining resource reserves lifting prices out of their reach. So they will starve until the population falls to sustainable levels whatever that may be in the new hotter world.

    Starvation when populations rise to rapidly is part of animal life.

  159. jimhaz

    We have to take as many actions as we can to make our governments secular – and that includes a proper separation of the religion of big business and the religion of the Game of Thrones for the wealthy.

    There has to be more venom directed at our pollies. People cooperate with them far too much – they can only sideline the Gleesons and Triggs because not enough involved people are resisting. For instance, at a new school opening – have a massive go at them, refuse to shake their hand, walk out. Make the current lot pariahs.

    Currently we hate them as they pay our wishes no regard – their entire focus and communication to us relates only to the competition between parties. Gosh, even our desire for honest government leads non-political people to seek honesty from idiots like Hanson.

  160. Miriam English

    jimhaz, you’re making the same mistake so many people make. You can’t starve humans into population decline. Starvation increases the birthrate.

    A whale that can expect its baby to live long has few babies in its lifetime. A grasshopper that can expect massive mortality among its offspring lays millions of eggs. Those animals can’t adjust to changed circumstances. Humans do. Rapidly.

    Also you’re wrong about the developed world helping the poorest nations. When people become comfortable they tend to help others. This is offset somewhat by forces that try to panic people, like the mainstream media and right-wing politicians who like to keep people scared and feeling constantly under threat. Most of the help for the poorest is coming from the wealthy. I include myself in this, even though I live below the poverty line in Australia — that still makes me part of the 1% wealthiest people in the world. I contribute a large part of my dole to several charities each fortnight.

    As the developing world increases its technological capabilities it is not necessarily following us into highly inefficient, wasteful ways. Many developing countries are adopting renewable technologies and high efficiency much faster than we are.

    You are right that we in the Developed world are the biggest wasters. Australians are the worst of all. We waste more per person than any other people on the planet. We waste alarming amounts of energy, food and other resources and we make minimal use of recycling. We are a great example to the rest of the world of what not to do. We are throwing our wealth away.

  161. jimhaz

    [jimhaz, you’re making the same mistake so many people make. You can’t starve humans into population decline. Starvation increases the birthrate]

    I know that has been historically true, but I have doubts as to its meaningfulness in relation to the use of resources. If it remains true it is because westerners step in and help, thus making the problem worse down the track. Yes, I believe we need to stop doing that unless it goes hand in hand with nasty programs that reduce baby making.

    I no longer give to or support any Charity. It is false charity and it will lead to more widespread horrors down the track.

    [As the developing world increases its technological capabilities it is not necessarily following us into highly inefficient, wasteful ways.
    Many developing countries are adopting renewable technologies and high efficiency much faster than we are]

    Only because they have to and only in some ways. China for example does it so they can make more products to sell to westerners. When China’s consumption due to income per capita growth really hits the fan, then we’ll see the real problems arise – then the ordinary person will realise they are in a slowly heating saucepan, where to date only the continuous addition of new frogs (with a lower temp) has been keeping the temperature from boiling point – now the saucepan is full.

    You just want your cake and to eat it to. You do not wish to face the need for harsh solutions. Your belief in human ingenuity is too strong. Yes, science will be able to solve many problems, but due to our natures will still just see that as an opportunity for more growth. It is the intrinsic nature of all things, not just life, to expand the self (for non-life that is what gravity does) to the limits that it can.

    “The mass of a star defines its lifespan. The least massive stars will live the longest, while the most massive stars in the Universe will use their fuel up in a few million years and end in a spectacular supernova explosion”.

  162. Miriam English

    No, when the developed world doesn’t step in we get horrific calamities as birthrate quickly goes through the roof. The birthrate only is brought under control when the developed world helps.

    Many people see the increased survival of people because of reduction in disease as the problem, but that isn’t true. That’s a lag in the effect of a terrible standard of living and it usually quickly corrects itself (unless religion, especially Catholicism, infects the people with opposition to contraceptives).

    If Westerners didn’t step in to help, the problems would simply spread and affect more and more neighboring places with resource shortages, armed conflict over those shortages, and skyrocketting birthrates due to decline in living standard. Whole regions can implode that way. And of course that creates a refugee crisis.

    It has been shown over and over again that the only reliable way to bring birthrate under control is to improve standards of living. Simply feeding people helps, but isn’t, by itself, enough. The most effective measure is education and independence for women and girls, with access to contraceptives. But without alleviating starvation, disease, and armed conflict, change is limited.

    Your metaphor with the frogs is a rather muddled, sorry.

    Yes, of course I want things to go well. Historically it has been shown that it can, if we decide. Many times in history we have shown that given the decision, we can do utterly amazing things. All it takes is the understanding and the decision. If everybody thinks it can’t be done and that it’s every man for himself then I guarantee things will go very, very badly.

    You’re wrong about humans always expanding to their limits. Increasing numbers of people are voluntarily limiting themselves to a single child or no children. So many people and companies have adopted efficiency in recent years that electricity companies have been caught short with electricity demand falling dramatically.

    Your metaphor regarding stars is misguided. Large stars explode because the fusion of hydrogen into increasingly heavier elements creates iron. As the star loses the ability to sustain sufficient outward pressure due to cooling it begins to collapse in on itself. This triggers another, new reaction with the iron, which blows the star apart.
    A large coal fire doesn’t last a shorter time than a small one.
    A large tree doesn’t live a shorter time than a small weed.

  163. Harquebus

    Thanks for the recent comments. I have read them.

    “Bushmeat has long been a traditional source of food for many rural people, but as roads have been driven into remote areas, large-scale commercial hunting is leaving forests and other habitats devoid of wildlife. ”

    Improving living standards for the many will require a substantial drop for the few and as Miriam English has stated, the few includes all of us.

    “Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.”


  164. Harquebus

    “Harquebus, how do you imagine we could “reduce our population?””

    Do nothing. It will happen all by itself and it won’t be from a slowing growth rate. It will be because the resources that are need to sustain even our current population are just not going to be there. Famine and conflict will be unavoidable if the population problem is ignored. If we want to lower our populations humanely then, this is when the question of how begins and is a subject in itself.

    If I could have my way which, I know isn’t going to happen, I would implement zero births globally for a decade and then continue with a one child policy until we are at about 1billion.


  165. Kaye Lee

    Tell me….how do you “implement” zero births for a decade? Ban sex? Kill all babies?

  166. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    That is purely if I could I would. This is scale of what is needed to avoid serious future shortages.

    “From a consumption perspective, the developed countries have a bigger population problem than the developing countries!”


  167. Harquebus

    “It is an untruth that’s both durable and bipartisan; one that the business community, nearly all professional economists, and politicians around the globe reiterate ceaselessly. It is the lie that human society can continue growing its population and consumption levels indefinitely on our finite planet, and never suffer consequences.”
    “now those limits are becoming less and less theoretical, more and more real.”
    “So, BAU is based on growth, and a lie about the long term viability of growth.”
    “The standard run of the LTG world model, which assumes things just continue on as usual, ends with a drastic drop off of human population in the latter half of this century. Resource depletion and pollution result in a failure to produce adequate food supplies and essential services. Indeed every run of the model that tried to find a way around the limits ended in similar results.”
    “If, like me, you have little faith in governments doing the right thing to any significant extent, the good news is that there are also a great many things that can be done to mitigate collapse at the individual, family and local community level.”

    Prepare your lifeboat as well as you can and choose carefully those that you take with you.


  168. Harquebus

    “A new scientific paper by a University of Maryland-led international team of distinguished scientists, including five members of the National Academies, argues that there are critical two-way feedbacks missing from current climate models that are used to inform environmental, climate, and economic policies. The most important inadequately-modeled variables are inequality, consumption, and population.”
    “However, these human impacts can only truly be understood within the context of economic inequality”
    “One effect of this inequality is that the top 10 percent produce almost as much total carbon emissions as the bottom 90 percent combined.””
    “Social and economic equality empowers societies to engage in sustainable pathways, which includes, by the way, not only the sustainable use of natural resources but also slowing down population growth, to actively diminish the human footprint on the environment.”
    “We cannot separate the issues of population growth, resource consumption, the burning of fossil fuels, and climate risk. They are part of a coupled dynamical system, and, as the authors show, this has dire potential consequences for societal collapse. The implications couldn’t be more profound.”

  169. Alan Baird

    Overpopulation IS a serious problem but it won’t be addressed. With economists, priests, demographers, politicians and finance punters calling the shots it’s game over. Demographers are always warning that population MUST continue to rise FOREVER because we must ALWAYS have MORE people of a low age to support those of an old age, therefore we MUST continue to increase population for ever and ever amen. Actually, people in places like Japan have all being committing suicide because of NEGATIVE population growth. Heaven knows how many people they have left. They’ll NEVER GET OVER IT! Thank goodness we’ve finally got enough people to knock off the remaining animal extinctions that we’ve got lined up. People use words like “stagnation” when human population isn’t causing cities to burst at the seams. A steady population size must be simply awful. Christ, some of those local councils will have nothing to do with roads but REPAIR THEM rather than knock down houses to make room for bigger, wider roads that will carry more traffic to… well somewhere. Only this morning the chick that normally does the finance on ABC news was saying that OVERNIGHT an oversupply of housing meant prices could, or would crash. Only yesterday it was hopelessly behind in SUPPLY but now, suddenly too much building has been going on! We need to do a Merkel! Egypt’s got 80 million with a food growth area about the size of the wheat belt in Victoria cut in two. Offer 40 mill of them a free entry. And get home and BREED. I want my pension! But only for good, wholesome patriotic reasons.

  170. Alan Baird

    Overpopulation IS a serious problem but it won’t be addressed. With economists, priests, demographers, politicians and finance punters calling the shots it’s game over. Demographers are always warning that population MUST continue to rise FOREVER because we must ALWAYS have MORE people of a low age to support those of an old age, therefore we MUST continue to increase population for ever and ever amen. Actually, people in places like Japan have all being committing suicide because of low population growth. Heaven knows how many people they have left. They’ll NEVER GET OVER IT! Thank goodness we’ve finally got enough people to knock off the remaining animal extinctions that we’ve got lined up. People use words like “stagnation” when human population isn’t causing cities to burst at the seams. A steady population size must be simply awful. Christ, some of those local councils will have nothing to do with roads but REPAIR THEM rather than knock down houses to make room for bigger, wider roads that will carry more traffic to… well somewhere. Only this morning the chick that normally does the finance on ABC news was saying that OVERNIGHT an oversupply of housing meant prices could, or would crash. Only yesterday it was hopelessly behind in SUPPLY but now, suddenly too much building has been going on! We need to do a Merkel! Egypt’s got 80 million with a food growth area about the size of the wheat belt in Victoria cut in two. Offer 40 mill of them a free entry. And get home and BREED. I want my pension! But only for good, wholesome patriotic reasons.

  171. Harquebus

    “Anyone who perceives a linear rate of growth, but who is actually up against an exponential rate of growth, is likely to be very surprised at how the end comes very quickly and seemingly out of nowhere. They will be completely blindsided.”
    “Can humans be “smarter than yeast?” Can we be the only species that can successfully anticipate and avoid ecological overshoot and collapse?”

  172. Miriam English

    Jesus, Harquebus. You really do have a learning problem. Human population is not growing exponentially. Population growth is gradually winding down and will reverse in the near future. It has already reversed in many countries, with births below replacement level.

  173. Alan Baird

    With the plethora of urgent problems approaching, I’d be very surprised that this great reversal of population will occur in time. The juggling act will be chaotic. As it is right now, chaos is shaping up as more than adequate to the task. The so-called “sensible centre” of politics certainly isn’t, let alone the morons of the whole spectrum of the Right. Much of the migration pressure will continue and each of the relatively low greenhouse people will become high-greenhouse after a transplant. Most Australians may WANT a lower-greenhouse future but habits of consumption remain much the same. A small car or a big SUV? The latter every time if money permits. An added complication is the increasing divide between rich and poor in many countries, helping instability. The wealthy have shown NO inclination to pay the fiscal cost of a stable environment in which to flaunt their wealth, even in countries where life can be precarious. We need EVERY future-assisting factor possible aligned for what is to come. They remain higgle-de-piggledy my fat hen and the forces of rationality are in disarray or nobbled.

  174. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    It is the growth rate only that is decreasing. The growth rate has halved since its maximum during the sixties however, since then our population has more than doubled.
    You are right about it reversing in the near future. It will be rapid.
    Did you read the article. I think that you will find it interesting.

    Alan Baird
    You appear to have a good grasp of our predicament. I wish a lot more would.


  175. Roswell

    Alan Baird. You appear to have a good grasp of our predicament. I wish a lot more would.

    A lot here do. You’re too intent on arguing to listen.

  176. Miriam English

    Alan, true, there are a lot of problems facing us. Perhaps population reversal will happen sooner, perhaps later. Our biggest problem, in my opinion is waste. It exacerbates all our other problems. Many of the other problems would hardly raise an eyebrow if it wasn’t for waste.

    One thing Harquebus is right about (but then ignores its positive aspects) is that humans act in exponential ways. If it becomes fashionable to be waste-conscious then it will spread in exponential fashion. There are early signs of this starting already. It has happened before, during the oil price hikes of the late 1970s and early 80s small, efficient cars became fashionable and were adopted in high numbers very quickly. Recently electricity companies expected energy demand to continue to grow and they were caught with their pants down when electricity consumption actually fell. People now prefer efficient appliances and it is paying off. People are also taking up domestic solar panels faster than they adopted mobile phones. That’s especially so in the poorest parts of the world.

    Everywhere I go nowadays I see SUVs parked outside people’s places with For Sale signs on them.

    People prefer, more and more, to communicate via the internet instead of travelling to speak face-to-face. That saves enormous amounts of energy. And computers and data centers are becoming more energy efficient. Data centers are rapidly changing over to solid-state drives (SSD) instead of motorised, relatively energy-hungry hard drives. With the sweeping introduction of smartphones and tablet computers the days of the big desktop computer are numbered. Desktop computers can cost hundreds of watts to run. Smartphones and tablets require less than 10 watts.

    These and other changes are not linear. They accelerate as more people encourage greater numbers. Add to this the unpredictable nature of technological change bringing even better solutions.

    Some technologies off the top of my head:
    – quantum dots hold great promise for making devices without the need for special materials
    – composite materials and the strange properties of surfaces let us make new materials out of old common ones (my favorite example is chalk and protein in very fine layers can make a substance harder than our hardest ceramics and do it at room temperature)
    – organic materials can replace much of inorganic electronics, including carbon as graphene replacing copper
    – vat technology developed for the brewing industry can grow nutritious food cheaply, in bulk, without taking up vast expanses of land, and can now even grow meat
    – battery and supercapacitor technology is on the cusp of great change with new developments coming every day.

    Will the changes come in time? Nobody really knows. I have my hopes, even though I doubt we’ll get out of it unscathed. The politicians and multinational corporations will make it worse, but they can’t hold back the changes.

  177. Harquebus

    On your last comment, I have to disagree.
    A lot of stuff that I read I can not post here. It would, as it does when I discuss face to face, turn people away. Climate scientists are self censoring for the same reason.

    Search criteria: climate scientists depression
    Search criteria: global debt bubble
    Search criteria: resource depletion scarcity
    Search criteria: global water shortages
    Search criteria: limits to growth

    When you get through these, come back and I’ll give you some more.

    No, very few in here understand where we are and what is going to happen.


  178. Roswell

    When you get through these, come back and I’ll give you some more.

    Sorry, but don’t bother.

  179. diannaart


    You did not read a single word in Miriam’s last comment, or, if you did, you failed to comprehend any of it. Of course, you are intelligent, so maybe go back and read again.

    Yes, population is a problem – but not the only one we face – but we have had that conversation many times, have we not?

    Our most urgent problems are all ones that can be tackled simultaneously, you know, walking AND chewing gum?

    We can:

    Reduce waste
    Transition to renewable tech
    Educate women
    Promote women and non Anglo-Saxons/gays/any other groups who are NOT white middle aged men into equal positions of power
    Stop and think – maybe I should’ve listed this one first
    Free education for all, adults as well as children on a global basis
    Ignore the pessimists.

  180. Roswell

    Hello diannaart, nice to see you again. 😀

  181. Harquebus

    That is why we are in this predicament. Not very many can be bothered.

    I did read Miriam’s comment and I disagree with most of what both of you have said. I do not think that technology will save us and I am one of the biggest tech heads in here.
    Technology depends on trade depends on transport depends on oil.
    We absolutely must stop making babies and power down. This isn’t happening.

    “Optimism serves no useful purpose if it leads to Pollyannish style denialism.”


  182. Miriam English

    Yes, like Roswell said, great to see you. 🙂
    By the way, I always meant to say how much I love your avatar image. Where did it come from?
    And thank you for your comment.

  183. Roswell

    Harquebus, so we’re in this predicament because people can’t be bothered to read your effing links.

    Oh for eff’s sake. Give me an effing break.

  184. Miriam English

    Harquebus totally misses the point again in his doomsaying.

    Harquebus, I seriously doubt you read my comment otherwise you would have noticed that most of the points I made were about reducing fossil fuels and replacing things that require them with things that don’t. Reading the first couple of words isn’t reading the comment.

    You’re a tech-head? Sure, you are. [rolls eyes]
    Every second word out of your mouth is anti-technology.

  185. Roswell

    Did it ever occur to you that I may not have the time? Did it ever occur to you that I might have read heaps of similar stuff before? No, of course not. You just keep jumping to effing conclusions.

    I’m over it.

  186. Jack Straw

    How did we get back on to your One article you wrote Harquebus?In the end your just another crazy flawed fundamentalist with low self esteem. It’s your way or the highway

  187. jimhaz

    This is a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago to respond to a discussion re H’s views on another thread, and I’m fairly sure I never got around to posting it. I’m too lazy to edit out the unrelated bits now.

    “I agree he is wrong about renewables, but it hardly matters unless the human world changes dramatically and aims for a smaller world population. If we are ultimately right, the outcome of that will be a higher, more demanding on resources, world population. The energy “vacuum” from renewables will be immediately filled.

    I’m expecting the next GFC to be a doozy. A world wide event.

    Part of me thinks some low level prepping for that event wouldn’t be a bad idea, particularly with Trump’s madness now in play.

    Practically no-one can predict the timing of these events – the modern method of dealing with it, is to keep kicking the can down the road.

    Observationally though the convincing signs of anything dramatic happening in the next 12 months are not there for me, so my prepping will just be keeping my eyes open.

    A GFC, as a depression, is avoidable by clear thinking governance to reduce debt, and would require levels of world debt forgiveness, but as the rich are so dominant, self obsessed and competitive, I’m not expecting that.

    I hope we have more responsible leaders at the time. It gives an opportunity for the partial death of induced materialism, a sort of end of capitalism, and to realise the insanity of having such a large world population, so we can start to naturally downsize. Without that we’ve going to have to be awful lucky, as the capitalism we have now would seem destined to end up with resource wars, and with modern technology and politicians I find that too scary.

    Robotics has a massive downside, which is that you can’t really have both as large a human population as we have and a population of robots. Renewable energy won’t provide the energy for both. Production and future service robots use less energy and resources than humans, and capitalism and the excessive consumption desires they create in the masses, will mean robotics wins. They will become more useful than humans to the rich. The long term ramifications of that are quite dangerous. They will become more and more powerful, and emotionally distant from the masses.

    [And clean coal. Even the fossil fuel wonks don’t believe that one. It would cost so much to do, even if it was possible, that it would make coal into one of the most expensive fuels of all]

    Where there is a resource, a way will eventually be found to use it sufficiently safely and cost effectively.

    I hope we are able to eventually use all the coal – but we need to stop using it for a century or however long it takes for more normal CO2 levels to return. We have to wait for the technology to make it perfectly clean. Renewables still offer so much more promise in terms of investment cost, so I’d class it as malinvestment by a government.

    Maybe someone will come up with a way to effectively strip Co2 from the atmosphere – maybe the need will arise for us to have to take the terraforming risk to do this.

    Maybe it just has to be prioritised in terms of investment and research much more.

    I think Musk now sells solar roofs, roofs that themselves generate solar power. Perhaps there will come an efficiency point where one half of the roof could be mandated Co2 capture roofs.

    There are ways and means out of the energy woes.

    In terms of consumption, perhaps the scarcity of some resources, or their energy cost, will reduce non-renewable resource demand per person and make us change us into having less complex, more pleasant and fitter lives, less consumed about things and more about each other.

    Maybe we’ll find a way for the aggressive alphas, male and female, right or left, to concentrate more on necessities, rather than idealism and power dynamics.”

  188. Harquebus

    In regards to the links, that is not what I wrote. The worst news I do not post here and the term ‘bothered’ was in the general context. Emailing politicians and journalists, visiting fora like this to spread the word and to inform my family, friends and neighbors who, after years of politely dismissing my concerns are now taking me very seriously and whoever else will listen. That is being bothered and a fat lot of good its done.
    No, it didn’t occur to me because, you have never displayed any evidence of your awareness.

    Miriam English
    There is nothing that is going to replace petroleum fuels. The economic fall out will end your dream.

    Jack Straw
    Actually, it’s my second.


  189. Jack Straw

    Harq There is nothing that is going to replace petroleum fuels.? Why?? and your loving this as we are back onto you beautiful little Harquebus boy the apple of this old mothers eye was little harky. You never did tell whether your mother is still with us?

  190. diannaart


    If you had ever read and understood any posts from myself, Miriam and many, many others, you would know no-one is suggesting that technology is the only solution. Many solutions to many problems.

    However, you claim that fossil fuels cannot be replaced?


    Now I remember why I took a sabbatical – fed up with fools.

    You know what adaptable people do when they find what they have been doing no longer works? They look for alternative solutions. Einstein said it way better.

    Thanks to everyone who have welcomed me back. I will not be posting much – am finally getting organised to move house, which with a variety of chronic illnesses will require a variety of solutions and time – I practice what I preach 🙂

  191. diannaart


    About my avatar, googled a play on my namesake – selected the one that said “YES”.


  192. Kaye Lee

    Good to see you back diannaart. Moving house is stressful even without health issues. I wish you luck and hope you enjoy a new start after the hassle is behind you.

  193. Harquebus

    Yes. I understand fully. I just mostly disagree.

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

    And yet, that is exactly what we are doing. More people, more debt and more growth.

    I hope that you will stick around. I have, as with Miriam English, always enjoyed your contributions even when disagreeing.


  194. diannaart

    Thanks, Kaye Lee – I hope I have not left my move too late – but know I am ready, FINALLY!

  195. diannaart


    No, m’dear, you do not understand. Your disagreement has its foundation in idealistic dogma.

    As for quoting Einsten – I do know the quote just chose not to use it. A little less mansplaining as well as applied thought would serve you well.

    Be grateful I am basically polite and courteous – most of the time 😉

  196. Jack Straw

    diannart when in doubt throw it out. And decluttering will make life easier.

  197. Harquebus

    I understand what both you and Miriam put in front of me. Do you read and understand what I put up for you? If you are like most, probably not. My disagreement is founded in maths, physics and the sciences. As I have stated before, I am not the one making this stuff up. I only relay what others, mostly scientists of some sort and engineers etcetera are saying. I also take notice of what economist who, I consider as the enemy say and advocates of alternative energy such as yourself.
    We fail to convince each other. If I am wrong, no harm done. If you are wrong, severe consequences. We will just have to wait and see how it pans out.

  198. diannaart

    Sage advice, Jack

    I have lived in my home for 15 years – very difficult years, where I very nearly lost my home, but somehow persevered. 15 years is the longest I have lived anywhere in my entire life. This home saved me in more ways than I could recount and I am a very thoughtful person, with a background in Applied Science (H. seems to think he knows everything) – I am described as pragmatic by my friends and my psych informed me I do not suffer fools. 😛

    I do not have the necessary energy to do a garage sale, so there are going to be some fortunate Op shops in my area. I have broken down my move into a series of very small steps and the best thing is I have really made a good start and feel highly motivated to continue – the motivation part is what has been lacking.

    It is motivation or will or incentive that is lacking in our governments, business and among ourselves – we can’t even agree to make a single cohesive step. H. and his ‘my way is the only way’ as a prime example, when there are a variety of actions we can take. That H. claims he possesses the scientific expertise means he is in a very small group of people, because scientific consensus favours a multi-pronged, pragmatic and challenging change to the way we currently use our resources from the living through to the mechanical.

    Will we do enough in time? I suspect we will not return to a pre-industrial global climate, that we need a few more catastrophic events before the boneheaded and intractable finally see the bleeding obvious. We must also refrain from tearing our hair out when these same clods claim they always knew sustainable living and technologies were the saving of our living environment even though we will be living in and adapting to a hotter world climate and life will continue to be on a bumpy ride.

  199. Harquebus

    It’s not my way. It is the only way. There are many saying the same things and not very many of them I would consider fools.

    “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.” — David Attenborough

    “Using his burgeoning intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the environment to produce food for an ever increasing population. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it’s time we controlled the population to allow the survival of the environment.” — David Attenborough

    “David Suzuki argues that in any discussion of population, we must recognize the principle of exponential growth (when the growth rate of the value of a mathematical function is proportional to the function’s current value).”

    I and many others have been trying for decades to mobilize humanity toward avoiding the catastrophic events that will force us to address the problem. When it happens, it will almost certainly be too late.

    Good luck in your new home.


  200. diannaart

    David Suzuki discusses far more than just planning for population growth. He promotes a vast array of possible solutions.

    Perhaps you could try reading a little less selectively.

    There is no one single solution. But we do have opportunities to avert and mitigate some of the worst possible futures.

  201. Harquebus

    Thank you for that. I have to be selective otherwise I will be posting hundreds of links.
    If you live in Adelaide, perhaps I can help you with your move?

  202. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Good to have you back, diannaart.

    I agree with both you and Miriam that there must be multi-pronged answers to our environmental challenges. I especially appreciate your fighting spirit against the ignorant and/or pessimistic surrenderers.



    I understand your concerns and I 100% agree we should grow trees, trees, trees. The more the merrier. Timber constructions are fine with me.

    Perhaps if you used ‘moderate’ and persuasive language like Attenborough and Suzuki, you would be able to engage in more productive discussion of how we can beat petroleum and fossil fuel dependency tomorrow.

  203. Harquebus

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    David Attenborough’s and David Suzuki’s moderate tone hasn’t proved effective. Two men that I admire are being completely ignored.
    We have long passed the point for discussion and must act. I admit, my patience is wearing thin and is showing in some of my comments.
    Should I be polite in thanking those whose ignorance facilitated our predicament? As one who speaks his mind, I doubt that I can do that.

  204. Miriam English

    Harquebus won’t use moderate, sensible speech. He loves the idea of doom far too much. He doesn’t want to turn people away from the disaster. He glories in it and how we deserve it because we all ignore the hellfire and brimstone sermons. (I’m sure he secretly wants to star in his own zombie apocalypse movie.)

    What’s the point in helping people find ways to manage the problems we face? That’d just mean we wouldn’t get the doom we so richly deserve. Much better to scare the bejeezus out of as many people as possible, paralysing them with hopelessness so we can guarantee the prophesy is fulfilled.

    Solutions? Not on your life! If we decry and belittle them as much as possible, saying that petroleum is the only way, but that it’s simultaneously the cause of our downfall, people’s heads will explode with the paradox. Reduce energy use? Use the energy that’s all around us? No way! We can’t have that. Let’s misread science so that we can make up fake rules of physics that sound impressive, pretending that using this energy is impossible. (But quietly ignore the entire inconvenient plant kingdom that supports all animal life and calls out the lie.)

    Religion has learned the right trick. Learn only selectively. Read only that which supports your own view, promote it over and over again, and for goodness sake don’t ever admit you’re wrong.

  205. Matters Not

    So what’s wrong in aspiring to be a martyr for your own self defined cause?

  206. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Your putting words in my mouth is starting to really piss me off. I have been battling hard heads like yours for decades and now, disaster is staring us in the face and you say I look forward to it. Where have been and what have you been doing while I have sounding out warnings at every opportunity. Hey, she’ll be right mate. The technology we need is just around the corner. It is always just around the corner. Well so are the consequences thanks to the likes of you dismissing my arguments to the point that, what has concerned me is now inevitable.
    Thanks heaps.
    Petroleum is not the only way. It is the way we chose to go. An industrial society that can not survive without it and no plan to.
    The solution and the consequences of not applying it are in the title of this article. It can’t be said any simpler than that.

  207. Mick Byron

    If the situation gets so critical that the top 10% would feel major ramifications you can rest assured there would be some clandestine operations and new epidemics like Ebola HIV/Aids to wipe out the requisite number of civilians to protect the interests of the elite
    “If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels. -Prince Phillip
    I would say you could safely bet those sorts of contingencies are already in place

  208. Miriam English

    You say some ridiculous things sometimes Harquebus. Attenborough and Suzuki haven’t been ignored. More people than ever before take their words to heart.

    There is now a massive, worldwide environmental movement that is finally shifting the rusted-on corruption of fossil fuels and their politician servants. Beijing just closed the last of its coal-fired power stations. Renewable energy is taking off all over the world despite the politicians’ best efforts to suppress it. Energy efficiency is also gathering momentum, not only among ordinary people but also among the biggest corporations and it is starting to have big impacts. People power has pushed banks into not investing in the Adani coal mine despite the increasingly desperate attempts by corrupt politicians to bring it on. Many places around the world are experimenting with changing the payment system for power companies so that it’s in their interests to encourage people to be more efficient and use less power.

    Look at the work of the Rocky Mountain Institute. They are a very optimistic research group of scientists, mostly physicists, who have laid out a detailed roadmap for moving from where we are to weaning ourselves off fossil fuels in just decades, while raising people’s standard of living, invigorating the economy, and employing more people all at the same time.

  209. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    You just don’t get it. Renewable energy will not mine and transport the resources required nor grow, process and transport the food necessary to sustain over 7 billion people. It just isn’t going to happen and the sooner people like you face reality, the sooner we can get on with saving some semblance of a civilized society.
    As I said to Kaye Lee recently, you will learn the hard way but, all of us will pay in the harshest terms for your lesson.
    Rocky Mountain Institute? Okay, I will.

  210. Miriam English

    Harquebus, you ask where have I been? I’ve been building low-energy computers for people. I’ve built a solar powered water pump, I’ve been rebuilding an electric bike. I’ve been learning about technologies that are here now (not just around the corner) that are already saving the world. I’ve been trying to inspire people to actually fix things.

    What have you been doing? Telling everybody that it’s too late, that we’re all screwed, that our only chance is totalitarian mass sterilisation or massive environmental collapse taking out a large part of humanity so that a lucky few can survive. That’s your oh-so-wonderful message. You don’t offer any solution at all, even though they surround you. When solutions present themselves you emphatically deny them. This is why I say you want doom. You pretend, even to yourself, that you don’t want doom, but why else would you so emphatically reject all solutions?

  211. Miriam English

    Rocky Mountain Institute? Nope, you won’t. I’ve suggested their work to you countless times, but you refuse to take on board genuine research. You prefer the doom doled out by fossil fuel funded fakers.

    Renewables are more than capable of powering our society. The only catch is that we have to stop wasting 99% of the energy. That change is in progress. It is being retarded by fossil fuel companies, but is happening anyway.

    Of course we can mine and transport using renewable energy. Electric engines are actually better suited to heavy work than internal combustion engines. You just don’t learn. Electric engines don’t require heavy gearboxes, water cooling systems, carburettors, oil pumps, fuel pumps, air filters, ignition systems, cams, and pistons. An electric engine has full torque from standstill all the way to top speed. Internal combustion engines require many gears to match their narrow band of usable rpm to driving the wheels. Yes, petroleum is incredibly energy-dense, but internal combustion engines waste more than 90% of it, making them no match for modern electric engines.

    And we can generate fertiliser in the Haber process without fossil fuels. They’re only used to generate heat, but focussed sunlight can achieve far higher temperatures than burning fossil fuels anyway.

  212. Miriam English

    Minor correction, internal combustion engines waste about 85% of the energy. (The current lousy design of vehicles wastes almost all the rest.) That 85% is made up from the losses of the engine itself (62%), the losses in the transmission system, due to the way internal combustion engines need to use gears to keep to a narrow band of revolutions per minute, plus all the additional weight required to operate the engine (water jacket and radiator and pump, oil bath, ignition system, timing system, and so on).

  213. Harquebus

    Miriam Enlish
    “What have you been doing? Telling everybody that it’s too late”
    For over two decades? It was serious when I started and now we are going super critical. Our current industrial society is not sustainable. Your computers and other gadgets will slowly disappear as does the petroleum products that fuels their production.

    What am I doing? Learning how sustain myself without the use of pesticides and fertilizers and believe me on this one, when the time comes that people must do the same, they will be very disappointed with their first total crop failure and very dead not long after.

    I am not kidding when I say that my family, friends and neighbors are now doing or planning the same. This is not my preferred option. We could have had decent lifestyles with low pollution with time to plan and prepare if, we hadn’t embarked on this mad suicidal quest for growth which, opposing has been a regular endeavor of mine. Well, we did pursue growth and now we see the consequences.

    I hope to expand my little garden society now that I have a few more on board. I have one neighbor who is not very bright and four others who are elderly and very frail ladies who I am concerned about because, they can not participate and will not cope without government assistance. Ambulances are a regular sight in my little enclave.

    You can make whatever you like but, getting it to where it is needed is going to be another matter. What is going to transport the copper ore from the mine to the refinery and the copper to factories around the world to manufacture motors that then need to be transported themselves.
    I have extensive experience in supply chain logistic for industrial engineering. You have no idea just how dependent on fossil fuels industry is, not just for transport but, for a whole range of products.

    One decent oil shock will wake people up and also probably crash the economy and set the collapse scenario in motion.

    I have read every link that you have posted for me and all but two videos and have found faults in all of them. I read so much, perhaps I just don’t recall the name Rocky Mountain Institute but, I fully intend to check them out.


  214. Roswell

    Harquebus, what you do to make this world a better place (apart from annoying everybody) is admirable.

    Please know, however, that everybody here also does their bit. We do so because we know it’s a totally screwed up world. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be snapped into action like we are.

    Even I do what I can. I might be a sarcastic prick at times, which can be misleading.

    So what do I do? Two things, mainly. I like to lead a green life (without being a greenie) and I do lots of charity work. There’s always somebody worse off than me and if I can help them in any way then I’m always willing.

  215. Harquebus

    Goodonutoo. Maybe we do have some things in common and perhaps is why we sometimes clash.

  216. Miriam English

    Harquebus, learning how to make yourself and your friends as independent from the system as possible makes good sense. I’m doing the same, as I suspect many here are doing.

    There certainly will be problems — blind Freddy can see that — but scaring people into paralysis by telling them they’re screwed, no matter what, is just plain pointless and counterproductive and cruel.

    If you think talking about global civilisation collapse and complete loss of all the accoutrements of society will spur people into acting, then you have little understanding of human psychology. People pick the better path. If it looks like there is no better path most people just give up and go back to consuming, figuring, what’s the point?

    But the most important thing of all: learn. Don’t just stick to what you think you know. Don’t sit in an echo chamber of doom and only allow in messages that support fatalism and despair. That will just insulate your mind from reality. How do you think intelligent religious people believe the nonsense they do? It’s all about the echo chamber.

    Okay, I get that you likely hate humanity and see doom as “just desserts”. But do try to wake up to all the good things which innumerable people are doing:

    – A vast “tiny homes” movement is growing, especially in USA (and now Australia).

    – Neighborhood food gardens are popping up in suburbs, and vertical gardens and roof-top gardens in cities.

    – Op shops and second-hand clothes are normal now.

    – There is a gigantic movement to consume less.

    – Recycling is normal now (though it can still be greatly improved).

    – People-powered environmental activism is stronger than ever before. (The dickhead politicians are trying to outlaw it — that’s how strong it’s growing.)

    – YouTube is full of videos about turning your old plastic bags into useful items by melting them down with a bit of cooking oil, melting drink bottles down and making them into other things, constructing solar cookers and solar furnaces, ways to improve the yield of your garden, how to make almost anything, academic lessons on countless topics.

    – Big corporations have become interested in efficiency and are withdrawing investments from fossil fuels, while investment in efficiency and renewable energy is booming.

    If you think these things aren’t really happening then it is an indication you have your head stuck in an echo chamber of doom. All these things are now. And they are gathering pace.

    Are we safe yet? Of course not. It’s not enough yet. But the activity on fixing things is accelerating. Will there be problems? Undoubtedly — very likely big ones. But there is an enormous groundswell of change. If our idiot politicians finally wake up we might even take it in our stride.

    Denying it all makes it worse, not better.

  217. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Thank you for your considered responses.
    The internet might just be our last best hope. Let’s hope that we get to keep it.

  218. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    could you write an article here on AIM Network on all the proactive, everyday grassroots activities that people are doing right now just as you have enumerated on multiple occasions.

    That way, the rest of us can spread said article far and wide on social media for other people still floundering in a neoliberalist hangover to give them the way forward.

    No more doom, no more sense of disempowerment.

  219. Miriam English

    🙂 Jennifer, I’ve been meaning to, and told Michael I would, but seem to be perpetually busy. I’ve even been neglecting the two books I’m supposed to be writing. Any spare time I have seems to be spent here lately. 🙂 Yes. I will. The good stuff definitely needs to be promoted.

    Thanks for the push. I need prompting to get me doing it.

  220. Miriam English

    Harquebus, try to stop panicking for just one moment and consider the vast range of solutions arrayed before us.
    And stop trying to disempower everybody with paralysing fear! For f*cks sake!
    It would do your own shock-worn psyche a world of good too.

    As for where we’re going to put the people… there are these things called cities… perhaps you’ve heard of them.

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