"Contrary to everyone’s belief, Mount Everest can actually be seen from Kathmandu. The Chandragiri hills in Kathmandu offer a panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges and Mount Everest on a clear day. There are also viewpoints and hill stations just outside Kathmandu – Daman, Nagarjun and Nagarkot where the mountains are visible."
The hard part about Kabul is the geography. It is a raised elevation surrounded by a ring of mountains like a large crater on a giant mountain top. The bowl shape traps the air pollution within the city and it absolutely does obscure visibility.
Here's a picture from Kathmandu in 1920. It appears to have poor visibility, but it's unclear from the picture whether or not that is pollution or weather.
here's another near the same period that shows similar levels of visibility:
You don't think it's the quality of a 1920 photograph?
As a kid who watched a lot of 20/20 and 60 Minutes, I was always afraid of the smoke because people would often toss batteries, PVC pipe, etc, in their trash pit. But it was normal behavior, so when visiting someone's house I just tried to stay upwind of the cancer cloud.
Brick kilns, yes. Heating and cooking, not really. People either use LPG stoves or induction cookers.
Btw, burning biomass would not change the problem. Wood and charcoal is biomass too.
But that's not really important, because even if only 20% of households used wood/coal for cooking, it is very much noticiable.
Also it looks like Kathmandu is in a valley which can concentrate the issue so a smaller absolute amount of particulate pollution can have more impact than the same activity on a plain.
I also question the “living memory” assertion.
-An ignorant (as I have never been within 1,000 miles of Kathmandu) guess is loads of wood-burning stoves; they soot like mad and can make Woody Allen trust the air.
 When asked about NYC air pollution, he allegedly quipped that he didn't trust air he couldn't see.
I think the main issue in Kathmandu is that it is surrounded by mountains, which trap pollution in. This is a problem for all cities with similar geography.
But, seeing Mt. Everest sitting from my terrace at home in Kathmandu (theoretically as I am in Boston, but some of my folks in Nepal see Sagarmatha (Everest) now) would not have been possible without all this pollution throughout Nepal going away.
If you got to the south of Kathmandu e.g. Chobar where this photo was taken, Everest is no longer obscured as seen from this image https://i.imgur.com/JCMmhTs.png where the line between the Everest summit and Chobar is seen passing Kang Nachugo.
If this is at all similar to the experience in the US, while some people may have seen their symptoms improve, a lot of people are avoiding doctors and hospitals out of fear of getting COVID, and are skipping out on routine checkups and care.
No one really has a good story for why (and it may not hold) but it seems to be consistent with the idea that the most important variable is truly just age.
Which one it is, is not yet known.
Vitamin-D2 aka ergocalciferol works similar in that is is eventually converted by liver and kidneys into calcitriol.
Ergocalciferol, calcifediol and it's various precursors can indeed be stored in fat tissue.
It is unclear however how severe covid-19 can affect the kidney and liver functions relating to this and release of substances from fat tissue.
Right now a lot of research seems to point in the direction that vitamin-D deficiency can indeed lead to more severe covid-19. At the same time there is different research suggesting that covid-19 itself messes with vitamin-D levels as well.
I was more making my initial comment thinking in the opposite direction: that people who are not deficient shouldn't feel overly secure (and take more risks) just because there is a correlation - with unclear causation.
Exactly! I definitely agree with all points you made in this follow up.
Historically this wasn't a problem since people with more melanin live in sunnier, more UV intense regions. In fact, pale skin may have been an adaptation as people moved north from the equator to combat the decrease in sun exposure/intensity. But people spend much less time outdoors today with AC and the internet, so vitamin D deficiency is especially prominent in dark skinned populations.
> The generally adequate vitamin D status in the Nordic countries is due to the use of cod liver oil and supplements (46) and vitamin D fortification, leading to a great improvement in Finland during the last decade (47).
Doesn't surprise me; here in the South we don't get deficient enough to cause obvious issues, so we don't pay attention to it.
I've lived here since the earthquake, have only seen Everest from my rooftop in the capital one single time.
There are about 99% fewer vehicles on the road as we are in complete lockdown however the brick kilns that are located in the valley are probably the bigger polluters. Local neighbourhood garbage pickup guys regularly burn plastic.
The air have been cleaned by the rain and the sky was clear. And I noticed that the city was surrounded by these picturesqe mountain peaks (that I had never seen before, or since)
I imagine you seeing the same thing.
CO2 in the atmosphere has a long inertia. The (reduction of) emissions in the past few months will not have any effect on the global warming for a few decades.
Basically in the short/mid-term, CO2 emissions are accumulated to previous emissions, not replacing them
The example I tend to use is plastic pollution. Interventions like switching from single-use plastic bags and bottles to reusable woven bags and glass bottles may very well help with the amount of plastics (and microplastics) present in the environment, but they're also a climate disaster, because plastic bags and bottles are ridiculously efficient to make at scale. And so here, I also worry that despite the environment taking a break from us during COVID-19, this will turn out to be a huge step back climate-wise - as soon we'll have to start rebuilding, and there will be less money and will around to fund R&D and deployment of less carbon-intensive solutions.
I wish more people understood this. Too many times conversation are hijacked by the CO2 discussion when really in the short term we should be focusing 99% of our efforts on bio-diversity preservation.
- We know the ecosystem is thoroughly polluted by microplastics, but there is no evidence that it's in any way harmful. It may be, but we haven't seen it so far.
- We know that without mitigation, climate change is an existential threat to civilization, that will materialize within the lifetime of many of us here.
Given that, we really can deal with microplastics later. Let's first stop the house from being on fire, and then focus on tyding it up.
1. "no evidence of microplastics being harmful" sounds very much like WHO's "no evidence of human transmission". Personally, I'd say that in both scenarios, the outcome we should be most worried about is tail risks - what if we suddenly realize the situation is much worse than we imagined, but it's already too late...
2. Is "climate change" so bad? I mean, would it be really so bad if the Earth warmed up a bit, and all of Siberia, Greenland and the Antartic became livable (and arable) land? More food, more space for new humans, ... all good! Except, obviously, 2 things - biodiversity (which you want to ignore) and tail risks - what if the Earth warms up too much, and we "trigger" some unexpected process (e.g. thawing of permafrost releases vast quantities of extremely potent greenhouse gases).
I think most people are simply really confused about their reasoning process. Microplastics? Ignore tail risks. Global warming? Tail risks! GMOs? Ignore tail risks. 5G? Tail risks! Vaccines? Ignore tail risks. Endocrine disruptors? Tail risks! (Of course, the exact configuration of positions is highly correlated with one's political orientation.)
It is definitely a very concerning prospective.
1) Strong effects are obvious in the data; conversely, if you have to dig deep and play with statistical significance to prove there's a connection, the effect is very weak - it's a scientific curiosity, sure, but "to zeroth order of approximation" you may as well say it doesn't exit.
2) When ascertaining the possible impact of something in the future, your estimate will be more accurate if you have a clue about mechanisms of action involved.
Microplastics seem to fail both heuristics at the moment - there isn't any obvious impact that we've measured, and there isn't any obvious mechanism of action that could imply serious danger. There most likely are issues caused by them - however, we've been living with them for decades now, so if this was an emergency-level threat, we'd probably see something by now.
Compare that with worrying whether coffee/red meat/artificial sweetener/vaccine/5G will give you cancer - maybe it will, maybe it won't, but if the chance of it was remotely worth worrying about, it would be blindingly obvious in the data by now. Contrast that with "no evidence of human transmission" - not enough data to check heuristic 1, fails heuristic 2 due to similarity to other coronaviruses with known mechanisms of human-to-human transmission.
Climate change passes both #1 and #2. There is known, first-principles mechanism of action that you can dig into like into a fractal, if you want to explore consequences for various aspects of the ecology and society. There is a known mechanism of action that makes it into an actual threat - food shortages, mass migrations, political unrest, leading to wars, starvation, suffering and death. We know how fragile our civilization is (present COVID-19 situation makes a lot of weak points clearly visible). There's lot of historical data supporting the above and the threat evaluation - for instance, we're seeing how increasing average temperatures are impacting agriculture and habitability of some regions on Earth.
One more clarification: the reason climate change is dangerous is not because it threatens plants and animals. It's because it threatens human civilization. We care about nature not because it is, but primarily because we need it to live. Moreover, since almost no one would enjoy suddenly being thrown back to preindustrial age on a thoroughly broken planet, we can safely say that the concern is about survival of existing civilization, not survival of human species (not to mention, you can't fix the damage without technology, and you won't have technology when civilization collapses). Human civilization is very fragile.
Also: just saying "tail risks" isn't meaningful. You have to actually estimate the sum of the tail to determine whether it's even worth paying attention to. Which circles us back to heuristics #1 and #2, which - in my opinion - say that microplastics are a secondary issue to climate change.
They're not always aligned. There's many more issues that come out of low biodiveristy than just those affected by climate change. One important one that's unrelated would be high biodiversity environments have more rich soils that are better for farming. Similarly more biodiverse environments are more resistant to disease; Ash dieback disease that affects the Ash in Europe appears not be fatal to the tree in mixed diverse forest .
Diverse ecosystems are also more resistant to climate change , so there's that too.
Other way around. By focusing on biodiversity preservation we increase the robustness of the ecosystem and stop the dominoes from falling. Removing biodiversity cascades through the whole ecosystem and accelerates climate change. Also once bio-diversity is gone it's impossible to get back but we can always invent technology to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. Remember most of the species we're losing we don't even know they exist.
That isn't necessarily true. There is going to be a push for jobs programs to fight unemployment. Why can't some of the jobs be those types of things?
With the help of this year’s crisis, that 2°C goal seems in sight, but 1.027¹⁰ is about 1.3, so even if that “as much as” is globally, we would need about 10% more, so we still would have to find new ways to decrease emissions. I don’t even see us keep our current gains.
That 1.5°C goal certainly is way out of sight, IMO.
Is it catastrophic though? Market doesn’t seem to think so.
And they can also go about a month without eating anything.
Time to buy a car? Industry hopes for coronavirus silver lining | Free to read
If you’re sufficiently worried about COVID to switch from public transport to a car, why would you use it to travel into an office every day?
If people are getting by without a car now, I wouldn't think this situation would make them rush back into owning one. For one thing, if you don't have a job to go to, then you don't need one and probably have better things to spend your money on. And for another, and as a member of a 4-person, 2-car family, a car is expensive to buy, expensive to run day-to-day, and expensive to maintain, which is a reason some people have re-arranged their lives around not needing one. Thirdly, the purchase of a new (to the person, not necessarily brand new off the production line / ship) car, where I'm from anyway, is announcement-worthy; it's a date-on-the-calendar circling in red pen event. There's an excitement about the new 'you' that you're going to be seen as on the road. This gives the act of the purchase of a new car some intrinsic value and a bump in personal 'brand'; a dopamine hit. That whole schtick doesn't exist when you have to buy a fucking car to avoid a virus. It's a begrudging purchase, and all the expense that goes along with it will only increase the resentment of the requirement; the reminders of dealing with traffic, the hassle of getting petrol (not even necessarily the paying for it). All these will be reminders of why they avoided car ownership and will see them re-pursuing that option ASAFP.
If there is a bump in car ownership, as that article states is the case in China, then I'd be tipping there'll be a bump in second-hand car sales within 12 - 18 months.
I've been saying for the last five years that my next car will be electric. The last couple of years I'm questioning how I can arrange things so my next car is a bike, or my feet, or a scooter, or anything smaller, cheaper, and less hassle.
Something else to file under obvious, but not until you think about it: I donate plasma once a month or so, and in chatting to the people that work at the blood donation centre, they were saying that they now have too much blood, too many donors. With less traffic, there are far fewer major trauma incidents as a result of car crashes. Normally blood donation centres always need more. It's a good situation to be in, but also unfortunate because it's going to eventually settle back to where it was before. Traffic where I am is almost back to normal.
We are just starting up nonessential procedures again, but are limited by the low blood reserves (~3days of use only).
> It is known for a sunrise view of the Himalayas including Mount Everest as well as other peaks of the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal. Nagarkot also offers a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley.
From Chobhar in March 2019, facing Everest: https://email@example.com,85.2796492,3a,75y,78...
Elsewhere in Kathmandu in April 2020, facing Everest: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,85.3249687,3a,75y,59...
There's no hope of seeing that far through the haze.
I'm suspecting it could be an astroturfing effort by the fossil fuels lobby, to try to discredit the real pictures. I guess I'm paranoid, but at least it shows I have little faith in the internet.
No doubt there are people who either have a marginal vested interest in denying this ("I love my truck/status quo/flights") and also normal people who are typically contrarian. -- these people can be easily swayed by people who have a financial investment in keeping things fossil friendly.
I saw a video from Vox recently where they have some people from 'knowyourmeme' making memes for the US democratic representative debates, it was eye opening.
When you think of Memes you think of grassroots folks, people who just sit in their living room and think of something funny, make a low effort pop culture reference and then continue living their lives. You _don't_ imagine people sitting in boardrooms thinking up the best comedic caption that simultaneously promotes brands or ideas.. the concept feels absurd, yet, it happens.
Now I'm completely jaded; I am immediately distrustful of comments or memes containing even subjects I agree with, I still have some form of trust in ordinary media because at least it's not as anonymous.
Vox media has a left bias but is mostly factual.
And, like I said, at least their identity is tied to their statements, so if something is false it has the possibility of being called out, and you notice when they spew a lot of content with the same idea.
You can't do a media bias fact check with memes.
"Vox media has a left bias...".
> And, like I said, at least their identity is tied to their statements
Right. So you know that they are not reliable and untrustworthy.
> You can't do a media bias fact check with memes.
Sure you can. Just like you can for any media.
> : https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/vox/
Mediabiasfactcheck, snope, etc are even more untrustworthy than vox. This is the circular joke that the media is. Since nobody trusts them, they create "fact checkers" to create an illusion of objectivity. They'd be better off creating another award named after a fake news king like Pulitzer.
Let me guess you think foxnews is the bastion of truth?
Fox News have an identity tied to their media output, therefore if they consistently put out bad faith or incorrect representations of information then they will be identified and mentally blacklisted.
Fox News in particular has a wikipedia page dedicated to it
The idea that "Snopes and media fact check are biased and inaccurate" is bordering on the insane.
If you can't trust the media _and_ you can't trust the people who keep an eye on the media, who can you trust?
Deplatforming all media sources and those that seek to keep them in check just leaves you vulnerable to people who do not identify themselves feeding you biased information.
I don't trust myself, I can apply some amount of critical thinking to new information as it is presented but I can't be everywhere at once nor can I be an expert on all things. If you depose all your information sources you will be left with information coming from unofficial sources, and that is not better because "unofficial" generally just means "unaccountable".
Just like vox.
> Fox News in particular has a wikipedia page dedicated to it
Right and you can write a wiki article for vox and every other media outlet as well.
> The idea that "Snopes and media fact check are biased and inaccurate" is bordering on the insane.
No. You are right. They are unbiased. There are also, right-leaning fact checkers as well. Are they unbiased?
> If you can't trust the media _and_ you can't trust the people who keep an eye on the media, who can you trust?
Yourself. That's it and your ability to reason. Your ability to see vox, foxnews, nytimes, wapo, cnn, etc as propaganda sites and decipher the propaganda as best as you can.
> Deplatforming all media sources and those that seek to keep them in check just leaves you vulnerable to people who do not identify themselves feeding you biased information.
Your vox mentality is showing. Who is talking about deplatforming anyone? I'm pro-free speech and pro-free press. I don't want anyone deplatformed or censored. Oddly, the biggest champions of deplatforming are vox, cnn and most likely your favorite "news" sources.
> I don't trust myself, I can apply some amount of critical thinking to new information as it is presented but I can't be everywhere at once nor can I be an expert on all things.
Nobody at vox is an expert at anything. That much you can be absolutely sure about.
> If you depose all your information sources you will be left with information coming from unofficial sources, and that is not better because "unofficial" generally just means "unaccountable".
Actually, the authoritative/official sources are unaccountable as they have all the power. The "official" sources have started wars with their lies and led to millions of innocent people's deaths. Do they get held accountable? No, they get shifted to other "authoritative/official" sources like pedophiles priests get shifted to other diocese.
It's amazing how oblivious you are. You do realize that fox news is an "authoritative/official" source.
I can’t even respond to this, I can’t get a beat on any critical argument of any kind. Other than “ You are lefty”, which, depending on who you ask I seem to flip between right and left. Someone once called me a dirty centrist fence sitter. So, I don’t understand this weird political divide everyone seems to identify themselves with.
I don’t know what to tell you, this comment makes me genuinely concerned for your mental wellbeing.
I'm sure you do. Vox, buzzfeed, cnn, msnbc, nytimes, etc? Tell me I'm wrong.
> Other than “ You are lefty”
You got that from my criticism of fox news?
> Someone once called me a dirty centrist fence sitter.
Yes, I found that's what extremist leftists call less extremist leftists. It's a terrible form of bullying bent on enforcing conformity.
> I don’t know what to tell you, this comment makes me genuinely concerned for your mental wellbeing.
People like you are so obvious. You try to hide and conceal yourself but you just can't help yourself. Surprised you didn't start your reply with "I'm not a ..., but ... ". Oh wait but you did, sneakily.
Since the lockdowns the horizon where I live has no brown haze smeared over, and it's not even a significantly sized city (population ~1.5 million), but the lack of haze is noticeable. The presence of the brown smear haze was actually one of the things that made real scale of the effect humanity has on the quality and content of the air that enters our lungs.
The answer will never be known, of course, both because the time horizon of pollution-related death is so different from that of the virus, and because the at-risk populations overlap so substantially. People with pollution-damaged lungs are much more likely to die from the virus, if they catch it.
Why do people who say we need fewer humans on the planet always say, "no one says this?"
Literally every discussion about population, pollution, global warming, fusion, farming, or social sciences has some thread where someone says, "there are too many people and no one is talking about it." It's getting tiring reading this martyrdom, and I generally tend to agree with the viewpoint.
But this is not some edgy take. The most populous country on earth enacted policies that seem to support this idea in the 70s.
Some might even call it a “Thiel Truth”.
Child births need to be at around 2.1 per woman if the population is to remain constant. Right now most developed countries are way below that.
2 countries have less than 1 kid per woman
114 countries have less than 2
62 countries have less than 3 (20 of which are at less than 2.2)
21 countries have less than 4
18 countries have less than 5
11 countries have less than 6
Of the largest 6 (half the world's population):
China has 1.6, India 2.3, US 1.8, Indonesia 2.0, Pakistan 3.6, Brazil 1.7.
Your rich cheap-airline flying, consumerist car owner will emit far more than many families in the developing world.
Any ways this assumes that the world resources (land, water, minerals, technology ) are divided fairly in the population. This is definitely not true and the people who managed to conquered distant lands have much more of this available per person. Simply compare per capita stats of Canada v Bangladesh and the answer becomes clear.
I can't imagine maintaining that in anything other than a brutal and arbitrary way. It's very difficult to separate humans from their humanity, and even in countries where birth limits have been tried, we know that it is an ineffective policy and is ultimately cruel.
> Clean, abundant, and without the catastrophic extinction event already underway.
Just take your ideas one step further. Earth is not a home for humans, it is a crucible that seeks to find the most suitable form of life. There's no reason we should expect to succeed, and if we can't, half-measures that only prolong suffering and the failure of our biology are illogical.
A growing population leads to numerous economic, militaristic, and scientific advantages. Why would any country willingly shackle themselves to their detriment
Anyway, i think that it is a crying shame that we're still farming animals instead of growing artificial meat. Once we finally have artificial meat and thus stop killing sentient beings, i think that would result in a great leap in our conscience, empathy, etc. - it will unleash a great deal of human mental development with natural results in social and economic development.
"The world now produces more than four times the quantity of meat as it did fifty years ago"
"The average person in the world consumed around 43 kilograms of meat in 2014. This ranges from over 100kg in the US and Australia to only 5kg in India."
"Meat consumption increases as the world is getting richer."
When the earth has finite resources, why not reduce the amount of resources used per person before talking about population control? Even with less people, you have to draw a limit somewhere on resource usage.
> Anyway, i think that it is a crying shame that we're still farming animals instead of growing artificial meat. Once we finally have artificial meat and thus stop killing sentient beings, i think that would result in a great leap in our conscience, empathy, etc. - it will unleash a great deal of human mental development with natural results in social and economic development.
Are there any realistic timelines on when lab grown meat will be available and affordable? How about lab grown steaks, whole ducks and whole salmon? At what stage do you think people who won't switch to alternatives now would switch?
If meat was priced at its true cost now and existing alternatives were fairly priced, would there be any need to wait for lab grown alternatives?
Wouldn't lab grown alternatives fail to make an impact when they arrive if meat was still heavily subsidised?
Because there's no dependency here, we can talk about both at the same time.
What do you do with the 70B animals we're no longer consuming?
The species won't go extinct either, we can still keep some around in their natural habitats and zoos, which are both much nicer conditions than most farms. Preferably we won't keep around the breeds that were created for farming, they just aren't healthy animals.
The next quandaries are what do farm owners, farm workers, slaughterhouses, tanners, textiles, feed companies, agriculture focused veterinarian services and products, etc, do now that they're no longer needed?
I'm sure we'd work something out in terms of retraining and government support for new businesses.
[until the aliens bring tomorrow the mass production lines of cheap lab meat] Because of naturally gradual process of lab meat quality increase and price decrease there will be no point in time when suddenly "we have 70B animals we're no longer consuming "
But that's literally in your scenario. If you don't have an answer, that's fine, because all of this is idealism. I just never see any conversation pertaining to what we do with all the animals.
It seems like it comes down to a substantial culling, as letting them loose would be disastrous for a few obvious reasons.
Second: That's kind of my perspective. Ideas are cheap and easy. Idealism paints the perfect outcome, without the really hard parts of making it happen, or the incredibly complicated network of systems that would be effected by trying to reach the target. These are huge problems; entrenchment is incentivized and reinforced on many levels. We often don't solve problems, we treat symptoms, because it's easier than doing what needs to be done to solve the problems.
One quote from the article regarding media sharing tips for farmers:
Most people do not understand the complexity of raising pigs and getting pork from the farm to their table. That means, “[a] good rule of thumb is to speak to a level a third grader [eight to 10 years old] would understand to ensure that things are not taken out of context.
Also, some species have been altered through selective breeding so much they would have trouble survinging normally e.g. rapidly growing animals that would have difficulty supporting their own weight after the age they would normally be slaughtered.
There would hopefully be more land for wild cows, chickens, pigs etc. to thrive after too.
Hmm, I feel like lots of people say that, because overpopulation has been a large topic of discussion and concern for like 40 years.
10% seems pretty extreme, though.
That same part of others might be the part that’s downvoting you. The reflexive, non-verbal, maybe not even particularly cognitive part of us that run the engine room of our human machine. The part that really likes to reproduce.
One exercise that might help draw the distinction I’m talking about is to pick a part of your body, esp a specific hand or foot or even more specific...select fingers or toes. Then do something totally normal like make some coffee or go brush your teeth. While doing this, pay very close attention to the nuances of motion and coordination of that part, and observe how specific those are vs the rather coarse-grained instruction in your head...if there is one at all. For example, the automatic rolling of the toothpaste cap into your ring finger for storage and the way your pinky is cradling the bottom of the tube while your other fingers close in cadence to squeeze the toothpaste in the right direction. I sometimes wonder if this part of us is responsible for some of that silent hand on the Internet.
Anyway, not sure what this has to do with visibility in Nepal, haha
uh, the very definition of a species is intimately tied to the ability and choice to successfully reproduce..
Not being status quo is probably a bit too much for them.
The exchange of opinions concept does work well for most though.
With the popularity of brainwashing and groupthink, talking out of someone elses butt should be considered an evolution of ventriloquism.
Its a neat trick if you don`t get out much.
I think the opportunity to find a young lady with natural resilience is much higher in AU. Using Mick Jagger as an example, we can populate the planet well into our 70's, so unless you age like a fried turd, there is no hurry.
If there are no us, there is no one who cares about our existence. There is no sense of losing something if something doesn't exist.
So 10 to the power of how many generations would that be exactly?
Why not 5%? or 25%?
Also, how would you chose who gets to stay?
In any case I find it quite hard to justify a reduction of population based on being able to have better sights
That, or an endless succession of airborne diseases that keeps the population isolating itself .
Of course, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to have too many people, or even that decreasing the likelihood of human extinction is necessarily one of the most important goals.
But without stagnation, yes, you have the human-caused problems to worry about, but you also have people working to solve those problems, as well as people working to solve the external problems.
Malthusians do, and have, for more than 200 years. Two hundred years.
Now, if we keep growing our population, then yes, eventually the Malthusians must and will be right. And perhaps that eventually is now. It's worth exploring that, even if Malthusians are like the boy who cried wolf.
But I'm skeptical that we're finally at our and the planet's limit for the simple reason that population is already predicted to go flat and then begin declining very soon.
Europe, North America, Japan, Australia, Russia, China, India, Iran -- all of these are below replacement rate fertility now or nearly there and getting there fast. Much of Latin America is well on its way there too. That leaves places like Nigeria, for example, as having high fertility rates, but even there it's a pretty safe prediction that fertility will eventually go down.
Decreasing fertility correlates very well with GDP per capita, and it's understood how wealth has caused low fertility rates. That dynamic need not be universal, but it's a pretty safe bet.
Meanwhile, Malthusians have been perennially wrong not only because they've failed to predict or accept the reality of low and declining fertility rates, but also because they've consistently failed to predict or accept the market's ability to adjust to demand growth. So far we've always found ways to produce more food and so on -- no, there's no guarantee that we will continue to be able to, but the fact that total population will peak soon then begin declining means we probably won't need too much more in the way of food production revolutions.
Malthusian also complain about pollution but don't seem to understand that more wealth == cleaner environment -- not at first, maybe, but certainly at some point. Just look at Haiti vs. the Dominican Republic: Haitians are so poor that they cut down their tree for firewood, while Dominicans are wealthy enough that they do not -- same island, same climate, different stories. Or look at the U.S.! In the 1930s river fires were so commonplace as to not be news. In the late 40s river fires were rare enough that they made Time magazine's cover. Now they're even rarer. Those are just some examples. Of course, most Americans have no idea how clean the U.S. is because they've not been to, e.g., Beijing, but that's good anyways: we can always get cleaner.
> ... because having as many kids as you like seems to be considered a basic human right. But imagine Earth with a stable 10% of our current population.
If some family wants to have six children, in a country that has below-replacement fertility rates, that won't move the needle. These are macro trends.
What you write comes across as rather ominous: a threat to impose Chinese-style family planning rules. Not only is it a very bad idea (ask China!) but it's also quite tyrannical, and completely unnecessary given the macro fertility trends.
How do you imagine we'll get to 10% of the current population anyways? War? Draconian family planning? Something worse? How much time do you think we can afford to let pass before we reach that 10%? Centuries? Decades?? If you say "centuries", it might happen naturally. Saying "decades" would strongly imply that you must have some truly awful ideas for how to make it happen.
It's only been a few generations since we've had mass literacy.
Genghis Khan and Francisco Pizarro are the few two very famous people I could think of who were illiterate a few hundred years ago.
Even 100 years ago, I've read about successful businessmen who couldn't read.
Historically of course, the rich and powerful would hire scribes to do the reading and writing for them.
When I read "strongly selected" I expect something like lactase persistence, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactase_persistence#Genetics , where there the genetic correlations, down even to the allele level, have been identified.
EDIT: I just remember. The Cherokee language https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_language turned a completely illiterate culture into one with more per capita readers than the recently introduced English culture. That's seems like a clear indication that there's no need for evolutionary selection specifically for literacy.
You're confusing phenotype and genotype. The genes for the ability to write include the ones for the citric acid cycle, which I think we can all agree is selected for. Nobody knows what mutations would be necessary to stop antinatalism from catching on, but natural selection will probably be able to find them. If the answer was "humans are now too dumb to talk about antinatalism," then that would happen, although something else could happen as well. (Maybe "humans now love kids way more than previous generations thought possible.")
>I just remember. The Cherokee language turned a completely illiterate culture into one with more per capita readers than the recently introduced English culture.
Yeah, so obviously whatever genes give people the ability to write, from the citric acid cycle to the mysterious neurological stuff, are selected for strongly enough to be fixed in a population that was separated for a long time. You're not really disagreeing with me... I'm saying that "writing genes" are selected for, potentially because of benefits unrelated to writing, and you're saying that the behavior of writing isn't selected for. Those two statements do not contradict.
I don't think there was any strong selection for the ability to write.
How do you know it wasn't a spandrel?
Usually this argument boils down to "everyone I know and like should still be allowed to live, but we should totally get rid of billions of anonymous (poor) people"
But, with magic, imagine we had every technology we have now but with only 10% of the world's population. It _would_ be incredible, you could fly all over the world to your heart's content, your neighbor could buy a big diesel truck, and your friend could all the sushi they could ever want, and the world wouldn't notice. There would be immense open spaces, untouched, able to be enjoyed and the permanent residents, the plants and animals, wouldn't be perturbed.
That sounds pretty appealing to me, maybe it doesn't to you, but that is what someone is talking about, they aren't gleefully suggesting genocide. Now, how would we get there without magic? If I were king the first thing on my list would be educating children, specifically educated girls have many fewer and later children. Other things that drive birth rates down? Increasing quality of life, access to healthcare, and a strong social safety net, none of those things smells like bad things. I hope the next time someone suggests that you assume they mean doing those things over murder.
I would wager that would increase the amount of people having children.
Financially comfortable and well educated families tend to have less children, this is a pattern that has been repeated many times across country and cultural borders.
I find the whole FE thing fascinating but disturbing, so I'll anticipate new videos on YouTube trying desperately to show that this backs up their argument despite (as another commenter here says) only the top being visible.