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Mount Everest is visible from Kathmandu for first time in living memory (snowbrains.com)
615 points by ProAm on May 21, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 267 comments

Hm, is this actually true? According to this travel site, it was already possible before Corona? https://www.nestadventure.com/blog/mount-everest-from-kathma...

"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 'living memory' claim seems a bit far fetched, too. Let's pretend living memory means the last 100 years, that'd mean air pollution levels in 1920 wee so poor you couldn't see Everest from Kathmandu. I'm no expert, but I don't think Nepal and the surrounding area of China were industrialised at that time, and there definitely weren't many vehicles on the road at the time, so where would the air pollution have come from?

Been to Kathmandu several times and I wouldn't say Nepal is industrialised in general, but not even remotely at the level of China. What makes the air really bad in Kathmandu is the amount of old trucks and buses on the very dusty streets of the city. It's a different kind of air pollution to what you might experience in an industrialised nation. When I'm there I always wear a mask, otherwise a cough will develop almost for sure in a few hours. If you go a little bit outside of the city the air is very clean and the views are amazing.

Kabul is the same with a huge amount of air pollution, like a visible white fog. Kabul is also not incredibly industrialized.

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.

Were there many of these old trucks and buses around in Kathmandu in the 1920s?

no, but it was still a sprawling metropolis, one assumes there was a lot of wood and coal burning going on.

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:


"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."

You don't think it's the quality of a 1920 photograph?

There's a few places in my travels where I've picked black boogers... big cities in Nepal, India, and Venezuela.


Also: burning trash every night

Very true, it's incredible the amount of burning that goes on in front of most houses at sunset. But I guess our cities in Europe were similar in the past, especially in the countryside.

In rural areas of the U.S. some people still burn their trash.

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.

I agree with you, but pollution could have come from burning wood or coal for heating and cooking it isn’t all from industry.

Particulate pollution from burning is mostly non-combusted junk. The bigger the scale the more it makes sense to invest in technology that lets you get more out of your fuel from more complete combustion. Someone just burning trash to get rid of it can burn it in a pit. Someone burning trash as a fuel for their industrial process that requires heat is going to invest in a gasifier burner so they're not spewing wasted joules out the smokestack.

> burning wood or coal

Brick kilns, yes. Heating and cooking, not really. People either use LPG stoves or induction cookers.

We're talking about 1920 though :)

That leads to the next question: why would Corona-stay-at-home stop people from cooking food or heating their homes?

Perhaps they are using natural gas instead of biomass?

Not really. Wood or coal stoves are still very much in use in villages. At least that's what I saw living in many developing countries for the past two decades.

Btw, burning biomass would not change the problem. Wood and charcoal is biomass too.

People in Kathmandu are using gas. That's a few million people. Sure in the villages, but the numbers pale in comparison

Wrong again. In developing countries, a majority of people live in the countryside. That's one thing that differentiates those countries from developed countries.

But that's not really important, because even if only 20% of households used wood/coal for cooking, it is very much noticiable.

Answering only your final question: the smoke of burning wood and coal for heat. Coal fire was the cause of the infamous London “pea souper” fogs, for instance. It’s hard to remember now but burning gasoline and natural gas were significant improvements in the levels of pollution (and other hygiene factors) in cities during the 20th century. Of course at that time the only air pollution people were thinking of was particulates.

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.

> so where would the air pollution have come from?

-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[0] trust the air.

[0] When asked about NYC air pollution, he allegedly quipped that he didn't trust air he couldn't see.

The surrounding area of China is Tibet, which is virtually empty, so I doubt there is much pollution over there.

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.

I am from Kathmandu. Yes, technically, you could see Mt. Everest on a clear dawn from Fulchowki or Chandragiri.

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.

As far as I can tell this isn't true. Mount Everest can be seen from Kathmandu but not from the city center as it is obscured by Kang Nachugo see this image: https://i.imgur.com/4N3gs5V.jpg

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.

Well whether or not true is another discussion. Important is , there definitely is a pattern in air quality increase in many places, and what seems to be contributing factor is the minimized human moment. I hope we find a sustainable solution to improve the air we breathe.

I've been to Chandragiri and I can attest to this. You can almost see the entire Himalayan range on a clear sunny day (including Mt. Everest). They even have powerful binoculars set up for better viewing.

Chandragiri hills is at a higher altitude than Kathmandu valley.

> Many of our COPD patients who need regular follow-up haven’t shown up because their symptoms have eased. Some have called to say they don’t require oxygen therapy anymore.”

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.

COPD + COVID sounds like a death sentence, so if I suffered from it, I too would avoid hospitals (and anyone else) like the literal plague.

I can't speak for COPD but I'm very familiar with a different chronic pulmonary disease (Cystic Fibrosis), and it seems to _strangely_ not be a huge risk factor for poor COVID outcomes.


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.

Last study I read put a 99% correlation on vitamin d deficiency and getting a severe case of covid19. Which was significantly more than age correlated on the same dataset.

Vitamin-D deficiency may cause severe covid-19, or severe covid-19 may cause vitamin-D deficiency (covid-19 affects the kidneys second worst after lungs it seems, and you need kidneys for vitamin-D processing), or a little bit of both.

Which one it is, is not yet known.

Vitamin D is fat soluble and “buffered” in the body; all of which is to say that no one goes from good vitamin D levels to being vitamin D deficient in the time it takes to get infected and develop serious Covid-19 symptoms.

What is usually measured is the calcifediol - aka 25(OH)D - in the blood. It is the liver that produces calcifediol from cholecalciferol - aka vitamin-D3. The kidneys (mostly) then turn that in calcitriol, the actual hormon.

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.

Unless the body starts burning vitamin D during the infection for some reason.

As someone who is severely Vitamin D deficient (I take 50,000IU a week via prescription and still have very low blood test results), both my GI doctor and PCP have indicated it as a risk factor if I was to get infected.

That seems very right. It doesn't matter if covid-19 causes/worsens deficiency or deficiency causes severe covid-19, or both. If you're already deficient the outcome will be that it gets even worse for a deficient person.

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.

> If you're already deficient the outcome will be that it gets even worse for a deficient person.

Exactly! I definitely agree with all points you made in this follow up.

Interesting, however I wonder how they accounted for the fact that most everyone is deficient in vitamin d.

You have to be careful in general whenever you are correlating two common features. If 80% of your deaths to a disease are among people who are overweight or obese, and 70% of your population is overweight or obese ... yes, there is a correlation. But it's a much weaker and less interesting correlation than if 20% of your population were overweight or obese, or if 97% of the people who died were obese or overweight.

So you made me curious and I googled. Not quite most everyone, it rather seems to be regional: under 20% in Northern Europe, 30-60% in rest of Europe, up to 80% in Middle East.

Source: https://eje.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/eje/180/4/EJE-1...

Huh, weird. I would have assumed deficiency would be inversely proportional to amount of sunshine. Do people in northern europe really experience so much more “sun on skin” time or is it wholly diet driven?

Melanin reduces the amount of vitamin D synthesized in the skin for the same reason it has protective effects against sunburns.

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.

From that link:

> 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.

Are you African-American? (Assuming you mean Southern US)

Southern Europe :)

At least in Sweden all children are given supplements, up to at least the age of 5, and just anecdotal, many of friends and grownups in my extended family do so too.

Here is a good article that summarizes what we know about Vitamin D and Covid-19: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23255647

Lads, this happened for a single day, it was lovely but is not a regular event. The city still has pollution issues however many now agree that it's caused from burnings that occur in northern India.

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.

I've been to mexico city a lot of times. One day I had to take a taxi at 6 am sunday morning after a hard rain the night before.

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.

It's amazing and wonderful how much environmental damage seems to be recovering. Air pollution is down, carbon emissions are down as much as 17%, fish and sharks are repopulating shorelines and beaches - and to think, all it took was the most severe public health crisis in 100 years, a catastrophic global recession, and an overpowering wave of human misery and death

Another point to balance the "how much environmental damage seems to be recovering":

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

This only shows that, while CO₂ concentrations are the dominant control variable in the question of our long-term survival, the overall health of the environment is influenced by many, many more things, especially short-term. Now it is especially clear that protecting the environment and mitigating the climate crisis are two different, and only partially aligned efforts. Frequently, they're in opposition - which is why it's extra important not to confuse 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.

> protecting the environment and mitigating the climate crisis are two different, and only partially aligned efforts

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.

I sort of meant the reverse. You make a good point about importance of biodiversity downthread, but wrt. things like plastic pollution vs. CO₂, I'd argue we should just ignore the former. The reasoning is:

- 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.

I was under the impression that micorplastics are acidifying the ocean and in turn kicking off a process that removes oxygen and creates dead zones?

I've never heard about that. As far as I know, acidification is caused by the oceans picking up CO₂ from the atmosphere.


A quick search seems to back you up. If that is the case how did sealife survive during times of high co2 concentrations historically?

It's not that high CO2 is intrinsically bad. It's just that the change is happening quicker than a lot of species can adapt.

Really interesting reasoning. I'm almost tempted to say "extremely unscientific".

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.)

2. Of course it's incredibly bad. It will displace entire populations and alter permanently entire ecosystems. The effects will be cascading all over the world and we have no idea what the consequences will be in the long term.

It is definitely a very concerning prospective.

You've articulated perfectly something I've been struggling with on conversations here on hackernews in your last paragraph. People can be incredibly short termist when it suits their agenda but some things are dangerously irreversible if we get them wrong. I liken it to a child dismantling a toy to see how it works and then not being able to put it together again but on a civilisation impacting level.

I'd argue the two basic heuristics I apply in this and similar cases are pretty scientific:

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.

Good answer, thanks!

What are the benefits of focusing on biodiversity preservation? I can think of some things like food security but would global warming not also impact on those?

>What are the benefits of focusing on biodiversity preservation?

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 [1].

Diverse ecosystems are also more resistant to climate change [2], so there's that too.

1. https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/... 2. https://news.mongabay.com/2015/11/greater-biodiversity-makes...

>but would global warming not also impact on those

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.

Everything is connected in nature, for example if we lose bees the effects will be devastating. Most seemingly "useless" animals actually have a very important role in their ecosystem. Without healthy ecosystems we are doomed.

> 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.

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?

I feel that most of cleantech work is still essentially a luxury, which will be hard to justify in a recession market. I also didn't mention the other aspect - how many of existing environmental protections and standards will have to be suspended because everyone will argue they can't afford to survive and recover if they have to stay clean?

Unfortunately, it looks like this will be short-lived. China's emissions for some pollutants are already above what they were pre-shutdown.


Imagine - what will happen when next big virus/bacteria pandemic hits the earth...Other species will stand a chance when human population makes some room ...it probably sounds bad but unfortunately the humans are the problem - not the CO2 or something else (they are just consequence) - proof is how nature thrives around Chernobyl

Yep. It is a shame that "intelligent" species need a virus or some other disastra and are unable to keep their population within the limits.

And the bad news is that, to reach our climate goals, we need to do much more. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/30797/...: “the required cuts in emissions are now 2.7 per cent per year from 2020 to year- 2030 for the 2°C goal and 7.6 per cent per year on average for the 1.5°C goal.”

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.

A month or so back I thought I was going crazy because I began to notice just how clear the NYC skyline appeared from where I live. It's always been visible, but the clarity is what struck me.

>a catastrophic global recession

Is it catastrophic though? Market doesn’t seem to think so.

Well, the day that humans manage to wipe themselves off the face of the planet will be a day of rejoicing for all species other than rats, raccoons, and cockroaches.

It’s unlikely humans will wipe themselves off the face of the planet without taking most species with them. Cockroaches are a likely exception.

Care to explain why not for rats, raccoons and cockroaches?

Waste/garbage created by humans is probably an easy source of food for them.

Plus rodents survive in hiding. If they come back up to the surface to seek food, then they will become targets of owls, foxes, etc. But Thule they live in the sewers, that gives them protection.

They’re hardy scavengers that benefit from human settlement and food waste.

Benefit in the most horrific of ways. I once watched a cockroach eat a dead cockroach. It was very... enlightening.

Welcome to nature. We've civilized misery, but it's misery nonetheless.

Cockroaches eat almost anything, like rotting wood, glue, toothpaste, dead things, food waste, etc.

And they can also go about a month without eating anything.

As predicted.

Longer term Covid19 is very bad for public transport. People are gravitating back to owning their own germ free vehicles

Time to buy a car? Industry hopes for coronavirus silver lining | Free to read https://www.ft.com/content/488d5886-c6af-4e80-a479-36aca26ed...

Though hopefully using them less, at least?

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?

Because, for most employees, this decision is not theirs, and they need their salary to survive?

I like how the car industry is hoping based on a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic response. Gives me no confidence for their long term future.

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.

Oh, that's good. In Germany the blood supply is very low because most is sourced event-style in small places all over the country, and this is shut down.

We are just starting up nonessential procedures again, but are limited by the low blood reserves (~3days of use only).

In my early childhood, I remember Mt. Everest was visible from our hotel suite when we visited Kathmandu. It was 1998.

Snowbrains.com was registered on 2012-06-19, it has a very short living memory.

Fairly certain the "visible from Kathmandu for first time in living memory" is false. Nagarkot village has been a well known tourist attraction for viewing the Everest clearly forever.

> 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.


Or perhaps the definition of Kathmandu being used was the one where it is 32 km west of Nagarkot?

Any chance to see a “before” picture? I searched without success. Or is that kind of the point?

I think that's the point! I found some possible candidates on Google Street View (which only has isolated spots):

From Chobhar in March 2019, facing Everest: https://www.google.com/maps/@27.6541403,85.2796492,3a,75y,78...

Elsewhere in Kathmandu in April 2020, facing Everest: https://www.google.com/maps/@27.6745306,85.3249687,3a,75y,59...

There's no hope of seeing that far through the haze.

It looks like if you get out of the valley itself, you can see Everest from a nearby hill on which there's a viewing platform of some sort.


Over here (Belgium) in the second and third week of the (light) lockdown the color of the sky was a kind of warm blue I only remembered from childhood. I think it was due to the absence of daytime flights.

Well take a good hard look, because as economies are slowly re-opening, everybody is going back to their old habits, even worse like people wanting to stay away from public transport as pointed out in this thread (1). I see it locally, but it also has been measured in post-lock down China (2).

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23255270

[2]: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-...

I saw that photo a few days ago. It's honestly one of the most beautiful images I've ever seen in many years. That contrast between the city at the front and natural elements at the back, with that lighting (the Everest is at the north of Kathmandu, so it looks like a sunset), creates an incredible scene.

Within a few days of the lockdown I noticed how clear the air was (south coast UK). There's a hill 5 miles or so away with houses on the top that I can now make out individually, which wasn't the case before. Where are our (environmentally friendly) atmosphere processors? Even if we all switched to EVs, we'd still have tyre and brake dust being generated.

There were a lot of humor pictures on reddit about this. Things like "you can see X for the first time since Y".

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.

Honestly, the amount that public discourse can be swayed by "meme makers" and other such things has left me very disillusioned.

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[0] 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.

[0]: https://www.vox.com/2019/11/1/20942599/glad-you-asked-episod...

Vox is hardly a reliable source. It's as trustworthy as the memes that you fear.

Citation please.

Vox media has a left bias but is mostly factual[0].

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.

[0]: https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/vox/

> Citation please.

"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.

> [0]: 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?

I think you're proving my point here a little bit.

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[0]

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".

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_News_controversies

> 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.

Just like vox.

> Fox News in particular has a wikipedia page dedicated to it[0]

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 listen to a lot of news sources.

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 listen to a lot of news sources.

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.

Either living memory is very short or there is something else going on. That region of the world did not industrialize until mid 20th century. The levels of pollution would be significantly lower than today even in the memories of older living people there.

Or was it because you had more time to slow down and look at the sky??

I'm from Kathmandu and I can verify that getting to see Mount Everest from the city is a very very rare occasion. However, one can always see Everest on most days with clear skies from nearby hill stations, around 20km drive from the city center.

I'm hoping this is a significantly sized piece of the puzzle in the proof against the 'us puny humans can't affect something as large as the earth's atmosphere' climate denial argument.

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 lack of rubbish on the streets, quiet nights, quiet streets, families out walking/biking and increased bird numbers nearby have been great. Being a lockdown enthusiast is probably a bit much, but I’ll miss aspects of it.

I wonder whether the reduction in air pollution will save more lives than the virus itself costs.

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.

Birds are singing, dolphins are swimming into river deltas, the spring is cold and rainy, the sky is blue, the Earth is clear from them miserable humanoids - all for the first time in living memory. Even in the whole history! Hail Morona!

Why bitching people pollute so more than before? They entirely forget the whole point, for what? appear more clever, smarter. We all know the good and the bad of these times. Please focus on the good and if you can ignore the bad.

I wonder how far back (if any) the lockdown pushed the doom clock around global climate change?

Here's an article that's a bit more in-depth on the effects https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0797-x

Impossibly best case scenario, two months and change? A drop in the bucket.


Haha! What I get for too many tabs open.

This is why we need less humans on this planet. No one says that, 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. Clean, abundant, and without the catastrophic extinction event already underway.

>No one says that

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.

Looking at the number of angry responses to the parent comment, it looks like it is still edgy to say that.

Folks love to think they’re more controversial and brave than they actually are. Feels good to think you’re a firebrand who’s not afraid to “tell it like it is”, even though no one agrees with you.

Some might even call it a “Thiel Truth”.

Up until less than a hundred years ago the only way to make sure any of your kids survived was to have seven or eight of them. This has change dramatically in the developed countries and is on the way every else as well as standards of living increase.

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.


And many underdeveloped too: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/...

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.

Then how is human population still skyrocketing?

Is it, or are you confusing population growth with immigration?

Do you not see line go up? [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

It's still growing, but not exactly skyrocketing anymore: "The highest global population growth rates, with increases of over 1.8% per year, occurred between 1955 and 1975—peaking to 2.1% between 1965 and 1970. The growth rate declined to 1.2% between 2010 and 2015 and is projected to decline further in the course of the 21st century."

You need to look at people dieing as well. Most of the population in those countries with high growth is really young and won't die for many decades. If they have an amount of kids below the stasis limit these kids will be alive at the same time and if the kids are more than the grandparents during the total population will go up to a while.

Fewer humans is a cop out. We need humans who won't pollute the earth to death. We need borderline Authoritarianism that protects the environment. 90 or so percent of humans just want to survive. If society tells them they need a carbon emitting vehicle to survive, they do that. Humans aren't the problem, our society is.

All vehicles are carbon emitting, some just less than others. The question is whether efficiency is enough to maintain a reasonable quality of life for 10 billion people with zero net carbon (and other pollution). If the price is authoritarianism, I'd rather avoid having children, thanks.

Having 2 children to replace the parents is already enough to drive population down longterm (because statistically, there could be a lot of reasons that those kids might not reach a time to have their own offsprings).

Yeah, equilibrium is 2.4 kids right?

Humans emit different levels of pollution.

Your rich cheap-airline flying, consumerist car owner will emit far more than many families in the developing world.

To be fair, mmaunder didn't say which 10% he thinks should be allowed to live. He may be in favour of eliminating the rich cheap-airline flying, consumerist car owners first.

"Because having as many kids as you like seems to be considered a basic human right" The birth rate is falling in the West. Seems thinly veiled to me!

And neither will even approach within several orders of magnitude of Chinese shipping and factories.

Who supplies the demand for the shipping and manufacture?

I can definitely say that the statement 'Have as many kids as you want' is not considered a basic human right in a resource constrained place in India where a lot of discussions among educated public was the ill effects of population and the competition for scarce resources it generates. It is a privileged first world view where education, development and high standard of living led to falling birth rates. On a second level it is to do with religious ideologies like Catholicism, Mormonism and Islam where even educated people have 3+ kids many times. Also it was a norm in societies with high infant mortality rate and lack of education (Africa, India of the 50s to 80s etc.) I feel a replacement level fertility of 2 kids should be the norm personally and Govt should never provide any future assistance like UBI to people with more kids.

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.

> But imagine Earth with a stable 10% of our current population.

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.

We’re going to have a brutal and arbitrary reduction of our population no matter what. It is surely already too late for birth reduction to be the instrument. Ecological collapse is upon us.

Not at all, just increase tax per child per household. 0-2 children at a normal rate, and increasing per extra child.

So if your first pregnancy is triplets you're fucked?

Ah, great, just be rich. Or be poor and don't register your kids anywhere. Let's not either forget single moms, missing dads, widows, disabled kids, not hitting replacement levels, etc.

A growing population leads to numerous economic, militaristic, and scientific advantages. Why would any country willingly shackle themselves to their detriment

If you view 7.5 billion humans as being too many people, what are your views on the 70 billion farm animals we have?

isn't the 70B of farm animals just a part of the "7.5B humans" problem?

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.

We're consuming much more than we used to:


"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?

I suspect the alternatives will never be compelling to the masses (in, say, the US). To move the dial here, the price needs to reflect the cost.

> To move the dial here, the price needs to reflect the cost.

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?

> When the earth has finite resources, why not reduce the amount of resources used per person before talking about population control?

Because there's no dependency here, we can talk about both at the same time.

Every time I see discussions like this I never see thoughts on what to do with all those animals.

What do you do with the 70B animals we're no longer consuming?

Continue eating them as usual but stop breeding new ones. Most of them only live a few months, they'll all be gone within two years.

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.

That appears to be a practical approach.

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?

What do you do with all the coal miners? What happened to all the telegraph operators and town criers?

I'm sure we'd work something out in terms of retraining and government support for new businesses.

>Every time I see discussions like this I never see thoughts on what to do with all those animals.

[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 "

>Once we finally have artificial meat and thus stop killing sentient beings...

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.

The question doesn't make any sense, because it presupposes that everybody changes behavior in a timeframe that is very short compared to the typical lifespan of the animals. But I don't think that's conceivable. The total number of chickens in the world may be tens of billions but is a fraction of the number consumed in a year, I believe. Feel free to correct me if you have some knowledge about farming.

probably something with my English - i described target state, not the procedure to reach it.

First: Your English is perfectly fine. As someone that speaks English as a first language; I greatly respect and appreciate you even trying. That's an admirable trait, friend; don't ever feel bad, or especially let someone else make you feel bad for trying to communicate. It's the most human thing there is.

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.

I'm not advocating it, but when there's a sudden decrease in demand (due to Covid-19 in this case), culling in various ways: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/may/19/millions...

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.

It's unlikely the world would decide all at once to not need farm animals anymore so I think it would be a case of the population falling over years as less were bred.

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.

> No one says that

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.

I don't think that would fix the issue. The majority of the pollution used to come from developed countries, now it comes from developing countries and their products are used by only the minority of the total population. Reducing the population would only make the surviving ones more lavish. I don't believe in humanity enough to see that work.

We have just shown we can do it with our current population. It hasn’t been done in a sustainable manner, but it’s a decent start.

So you're taking steps and not having children then?

Correct. I’m 46 years old, healthy, fertile, heterosexual and I don’t have any kids. How about you?

You not having children to help slow population growth is like buying two powerball tickets to increase your chance of winning the jackpot.

I'm doing what my ancestors did, from 3.75 billion years ago until now - reproduce!

yup, reproduce because earth belongs to you and only you. We are just visiting here, will go back to our places.

And there it is. A sudden torrent of downvotes. Dropped from 4 to zero in seconds. Like is said, having kids is considered a basic human right. We’re so arrogant, yet so basic as a species.

I had a rather mundane but profound moment in my life about a year ago in which I felt like a non-verbal (cerebellum, amygdala, I dont know) part of my brain communicated with the part of me that I know as ‘me’ and talks to myself in my head. Ever since then I feel as though ‘I’ am just the captain of the ship, and that a good portion of my actions are influenced but not fully controlled by that part of me.

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

“having kids is considered a basic human right...so basic as a species”

uh, the very definition of a species is intimately tied to the ability and choice to successfully reproduce..

Yeah. Some folks need to grow another mouth to tell themselves what they wanna hear.

Not being status quo is probably a bit too much for them.

The exchange of opinions concept does work well for most though.

isn't this is a very simplistic view on having children? There are much more obvious reasons to have some. also, .. most of use have enough mouths to tell them what they wanna hear, including you and me and our supposed echo chambers all over the internet (yes, having children is egoistical and naive! you're right aSplash0fDerp man! .. yes, we will overcome those problems, children are our duty, you're right alehander42 ! )

Why some people want a trophy for ejaculating in a vagina, I will never know.

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.

having a child might be more meaningful than the whole world, I love you, mate!

I'm in the states, but using your "mate" reference as a cue... I'm currently looking at Austrailia to settle down and raise a family.

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.

See my comment one level up. If you're having 2 children, you're already helping. If no one's having kids at all then we'd go extinct lol

Is it bad though?

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.

A case can also be made that those who want the least children for sustainability reasons should try to have more children who grow up to make a compounding difference in the future.

So it’s ok to have 10 kids because they’ll be smarter than you are and make the right choice?

So 10 to the power of how many generations would that be exactly?

No evidence supports this.

Ad hominem - tool of the mentally weak.

The irony of your comment is not lost on me. ;)

I'm just speaking in general terms of course :p

Aye. I think you wrote that question with salty intent, but you're getting real answers. Hope that frames the thinking behind it for ya.

Why 10%?

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

Ithink the ratio was chosen randomly, and is not important. What's important is to get the population number down in the longterm. Or, in other words, make sure that longterm the population doesn't grow beyond control. If you're having 2 kids in your lifetime, you're helping to drive the population down. Having at most2 kids is fair, don't! ou think?

Sadly, at this point it does seem like in order to significantly curb emissions it will take a catastrophy of biblical proportions which wipes out much of humanity.

That, or an endless succession of airborne diseases that keeps the population isolating itself .

Unless you're advocating some sort of genocidal cull of the population, which would be quite extreme, population reduction isn't going to work fast enough to solve the climate problem. Even if you could globally enforce that every couple could only have one child it would take 6 or 7 generations to reduce the population to ~10%. We don't have the 100+ years that would take. It needs fixing now.

I’m not sure how to interpret your directive (“we need less humans...” “10% of our current population”) without deep disgust. Your critique of others’ presumption of rights as humans clashes with your ideal where 90% of humans lack even the right to live. Most appalling is that this world view might be treated as anything less than macabre.

I see no macabre at all in these statements. I don't think anyone was talking about taking away the right to live from 90% of population. It is enough to limit number of children born and population will naturally decrease.

Birth rates, at least in the US, have been on the decline without needing to enact laws limiting reproduction. I'm curious what the people suggesting such thought about it when China did it.

There’s a very real chance that strategy would significantly increase the likelihood of human extinction in the medium to distant future. We need minds to solve problems.

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.

Sure - could it equally be argued that minds created the problems we need minds to solve? Seems circular.

No, not equally argued. We didn't put asteroids into motion that can destroy the earth's ability to sustain human life. I'm sure you could infinitely fill a list of things we have no control over that could make humans extinct.

Agreed. Those are non human events. I was literally referring to all the human activity that could end in extinction, though.

Forced stagnation might be able to effectively eliminate human-caused extinction, but you still have to worry about the external extinction events (like changes in solar output, or asteroids, or supernovae).

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.

Since this is HN, surely you have heard of 'The mythical manmonth'?

Yes, I have read it. The book is about how it is difficult to improve matters by adding more software engineers to an overdue software engineering project. The book does not claim that, for instance, 100 astronomers and 100 construction workers can not solve more problems than merely 100 construction workers.

well, yes, it is a basic human right, obviously

> No one says that, ...

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.

After you.

Thanos is that you?

Whatever genes make it possible for you to say that, even if they are as strongly selected for as the ability to write, are going to go away...

Can you point to the studies which suggest that the ability to write is a strongly selected genetic ability? Because that doesn't seem right to me.

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.

>Can you point to the studies which suggest that the ability to write is a strongly selected genetic ability?

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.

You wrote "strongly selected for as the ability to write".

I don't think there was any strong selection for the ability to write.

How do you know it wasn't a spandrel?

Which ones of your friends and family members should be culled? You get to keep 10%.

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"

This is pretty bad faith. It is very unlikely that you're responding to Hitler, of course no one is suggesting we murder 90% of the world's population, that is unspeakably evil.

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.

>Increasing quality of life, access to healthcare, and a strong social safety net...

I would wager that would increase the amount of people having children.

It actually trends down, likely because children have historically been used as a retirement plan of sorts, and of course you'd never be sure how many of your ten made it to adulthood.

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.

Nature will take care of itself in the long run. It is adopting to reality and designing vehicles (ex: virus) that is getting closer and closer to optimal level of lethality to humans and it’s own survivability. Cold/flu viruses were not lethal enough anymore, Ebola was too lethal, SARS/MERS were with little more lethality, SARS2 with little more own survivability (likely, still to be known).

This proves Earth is flat!

As soon as I saw the picture, I thought there will be a load of flat earthers saying this just provides them with more evidence... But TBH I didn't expect to see it as a comment here.

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.

I'm surprised there isn't more of this in the thread.

so why am I only able to see the tip and not the whole mountain?

A flat earther will probably argue that it must mean that the height of Mount Everest is a conspiracy since it's clearly the same height as a regular mountain.

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