Monday, March 22, 2010

Meteors and population

I'm always wondering about how we call this planet "over-populated"... Except for freak nations like Japan or Denmark, most of the planet has vast, empty spaces. Wasteland. (Actually even Japan and Denmark have pretty big empty spaces, just not on an American scale.)

Meteors and old satellites are continually falling to earth, and nobody worries about it, because the odds of one falling in a populated places are vanishingly small. That ought to tell us something.

Food enough, they say. Well, lack of food is just due to people insisting on living in deserts. It's mismanagement. The land alone if managed right could probably sustain ten times the present global population. And if on top of the we put a few more handy inventions like the Super-Grain invented in the seventies, say, growing food from algea in the seas, then who knows.


Bruce said...

I think you should look into topsoil, how much there is in the world, how it's used, and how it is being used up.

There is a very dry but interesting book called Topsoil and Civilization, by Carter and Dale. It's out of print but can be found used.

They talk a lot about the carrying capacity of the land and how that affects human societies in the past and present.

Scott said...

I have respect for your views but your way off base on this one.Your starting to sound like george bush.I always like the camera and the photography posts and your blog is usually interesting.Just edit this post and pay to get it taken off the way back machine.

Miserere said...

I won't go into the ecological merits of your post, Eo, as that would necessitate a website all of its own, so I'll just focus on the astronomical aspect.

Chunks of rock in space in orbit around the Sun are called asteroids. When they are pulled out of their orbits and enter the Earth's atmosphere they are called meteors. If they are large (or resilient) enough to survive the fall and make it to the ground they are called meteorites.

There are different estimations, but roughly 30,000 meteorites heavier than 100g hit the Earth each year. Most meteorites hitting the Earth are far smaller, yet the combined weight of all meteoric material reaching the surface of the Earth is about 30,000-80,000 tonnes per year.

Believe it or not, my day job involves tracking asteroids :-)

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

What's so unbelievable about that? :-)

Just for the sake of contradicting Scott (only *I* get to bash on good ol' Dubya!), I'll second what you said there: mismanagement is the main problem.
The USA : 300 million people. One-twentieth of the world's population. Consumption: one friggin' QUARTER of the planet's resources. Probably wasting enough food each day to eradicate starvation everywhere. Not to mention all those obeses (some 150 million!) eating WAY too many calories.
Just imagine : pulling one of them floating sumos like they do with icebergs, all the way to Africa, would feed a whole village of cannibals for weeks! :-p
Pity there are so few cannibal villages remainung, huh?

Dramatic dust storms over Beijing one or two days ago. The deserts are gaining in China, in a worrying manner. Main causes: climate change, and extreme abuse of the water resources, with the industry leaving far too little for Nature.

"Except for freak nations like Japan or Denmark"
Or the Gaza Strip! The average woman there has 7 children. In average! All thanks to the politics of "WE must become more numerous than THEM".
All these stones aren't going to throw themselves, you know.

But the thing is, RELATIVELY, the planet IS over-populated. If we account for people's current, spoiled-rotten "needs" of accustomed abundance and consumerism.

Two years ago, my uncle wisited with his American wife and his kids. When his younger daughter god a spot on her dress while eating, her mother changed her, and threw the dirty dress straight in the trash basket.
My Lebanese aunt's Philippino maid then asked for permission to salvage the dress. She washed it, and then had a practically brand new dress, for free, for her own little daughter.
Maid's salary: $120/month, the standard wage for "imported" housemaids.

A striking metaphor of Globalization...

Add to this the growing wealth of the Chinese population. More and more of that billion people now want to enjoy the luxury of eating meat regularly. That's a lot of cereals to produce steack...

Let me tell you about my late Lebanese grandmother. She grew up poor, like most Chinese. And, like many of them, one day, her grown children began living at ease. So, "to make up for lost time", she started eating as much as she liked, all she liked, while no more having to work all day. Too much bread ans sweets made her obese and gave her diabetes. Too much meat gave her urea. She lived to a significant age, but died after 25 years of suffering from the metabolic overabundance of "good things" in her body. 25 years of sickness and suffering. Thank you, wealth.

Lebanon yesterday. Like the USA today. Like China tomorrow. While the planet is slowly suffocating under countless polluting chemicals and the oceans are turning into a soup of plastic.

A good giant meteor, like that last one 65 million years ago, would likely wipe us out... and likely save the rest of Life on this planet, what can still be salvaged of it. We're behaving like a cancer. Killing the very body that sustains us by being completely mad, grotesque biological freaks.

But don't let this un-merry thought ruin your day out with the kids! :-)

stephen davies said...

I don't know, P-04, most of that food consumed every day in the U.S. of A is probably of little nutritional value. Remember too that we along with Canada export most of the world's wheat. And at least we can feed ourselves, unlike many European countries - like England - which import most of their food. I'd like to see them try to survive on what they can actually grow there.

Ray said...

Pascal makes a valid point....

the planet is slowly suffocating under countless polluting chemicals and the oceans are turning into a soup of plastic.

The overpopulation aspect is that there's too many of us creating pollution for the natural environment to absorb or recycle it, and some of it isn't biodegradable.

Anonymous said...

Read the book "Collapse" by Jared Diamond. We are approaching many limits withing the next decade or two: fresh water, oil, arable land. Continued global warming will require agricultural adjustments over several decades, meanwhile food production will drop dramatically.1