Over 200,000 International Readers have engaged our periodic insights plus the regular curated digest of research, commentary and ideas from top global investors, economists, scientists, experts and media; focusing on Humanity's "BIG 7 Es" as they pertain to economics, investing and wealth concepts. Meshing to create an existential approach in these subjects that aims to fully embed and recognize physical and scientific constraints.
Earth's Current Population Equivalents Exceed 40 Billion
For sure the first thing we have to do is get the metrics right
so that we can properly diagnose, manage and remedy, if possible, our
population predicament. To do so, we must first understand that this is not about population
numbers at all. Rather it is all about "population equivalents," but so
long as the focus remains on person numbers, then we are doomed to head
down the wrong path with little hope of finding a cure. In the end, you
cannot remove a brain tumor by doing a heart transplant - it is just
not going to happen. There is no responsible economic organization or entity on this
planet that does not have an accounting system with metrics to
determine, monitor and control its status. So there is no good reason as
to why we should not work towards and apply similar concepts for the
whole planet as an initial way to get a handle on our planet's overall
situation. As a metric - "population equivalents" is a fairly
straightforward mathematical concept to apply as the prime unit of
measure within this overall planetary accounting system. Population equivalents should firstly allow us to start comparing
apples to apples and not to pears, turnips and potatoes. For example,
when the entropic/climate/resource footprint for each
developed nation person is estimated to be 34 times larger than a
underdeveloped nation's person - this comparison shows a huge gap in the
annual-planetary cost between these two person types to the planet.
The implications of this difference needs to be better understood and
managed based on objectives. As a medical professional you might start
with an old idea and goal like - LONGEVITY! Now consider the case when 100 million people migrate annually from
these underdeveloped nations to developed countries. That migration
alone has the equivalent impact of adding 3.4 billion people to the
underdeveloped nations population totals. Or you could also say it is
equal to the birth of 3.4 billion people in these underdeveloped
countries. Put in another way - the 1 billion people footprint of developed
nations calculates to an equivalent 34 billion people footprint in
underdeveloped countries. Thus, the planet's population size using
approximate actual numbers could be considered closer to 40 billion
people when population equivalent footprint measures are used.(1 billion developed plus, 6 billion underdeveloped people) BIG number? But now you be the doctor and tell the patient where you think the problem is - Heart or Brain?
So in order to get things right, we first and foremost need to start
measuring properly. Moreover, it is a "conceptual technology" that has
been well-developed by the medical profession, among others, over many
years. So why not apply it to the most important patient we know? In short, we need to go beyond checking the patient's brain condition
based on its pulse rate and advance ourselves to using proper clinical
metrics and devices to better diagnose and remedy our sickly patient. In so doing, we may then stand an improved chance of extending its life. It is your call now ... Doctor! First Financial Insights December 10, 2013
"Doctors my pulse is fine. But, my head still hurts."
Should we hop onto the climate change bandwagon with every trend and event that points to the idea that conditions on earth are different? Why not join all the other Chicken Little’s out there as evidence grows to support the view that the sky is truly falling?
Well, in both cases we do not think it is wise to start any related analysis and evaluation requiring objective answers with the favored belief that one is seeking to prove in mind. Therefore, the following comments are provided on the basis of examining these issues as though it is for the very first time, with no prior knowledge or bias one way or the other. Let's see what happens.
Firstly, the above captioned chart shows more and more floods of greater magnitude are occurring in Europe every year, since 1985. Yet these events "cannot be directly tied to climate change" caused by our economic activities and their rising release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Why? It is difficult to show a clear and direct x-axis to y-axis linear relationship between the floods and carbon emissions simply because there are too many other variables involved.
Meaning, that the empirical and actual situation is fluid and dynamic - and hence, much more non-linear. To examine it would require a form of three-dimensional four-quadrant graph that plots hundreds of unique factors on multiple axis’s inter-playing among them. In short, this form of graphical-multiple-linear analysis probably just becomes all too foggy, subjective and complicated to produce or to draw accurate causation findings from.
So consequently, we cautiously turn to identifying a list of trending growth factors with "possible correlations" between carbon emissions growth and its related factors, such as GDP and population levels, that could cause or contribute to climate change and its related negative outcomes, such as Europe's floods. Importantly, we must remember that just because two or more independent variables are highly correlated, it does not prove that there is a cause and effect relationship between the two. There may be no relationship at all; in other words, correlation does not necessarily prove causation.
Here then is a list of factors that could create possible correlations that link economic activity to climate change and and then back to other negative effects occurring on the planet (link to chart samples) The factors identified over varying time periods of up to seventy-five years, include...
...growth in money supply, in global stock market values, in global GDP, in fossil fuel consumption, in population totals, in resource exhaustion, in warming temperatures, in fresh water shrinkage, in species extinctions, in pollinating insect declines, in shrinking ice caps and glaciers, in ocean acidification, floods and wildfires, and in carbon emissions from the use of fossil fuels.
With simple visual observation and inspection of each factors growth charts we can readily conclude that there is a fairly high correlation among all these factors. (We have referenced a number of the charts above, while others are readily attainable through on-line sources). As you can see these charts all look like flat J-curves or hockey sticks, that could also be mathematically described as a diagrams of a curvilinear equation, as compared to linear. This distinction is key because the former describes a rapidly accelerating growth pattern whereas the latter conveys a slow steadier incremental situation.
Moreover the charts show that these factors are actually in the dangerous exponential zone, transforming from their once linear patterns to curvilinear visual diagrams. Meaning that the underlying aggregate events, related to the factors, are accelerating very rapidly. That is not very good at all, but we still cannot absolutely conclude that the growing populations, economies and carbon emissions are causing shifts in the climatic conditions which can be linked to the other negative consequences
Given these strong visual chart correlations among the various factors could we not just try to connect the dots among them? Certainly some seemingly logical connections could be drawn up, perhaps starting at population growth leading to the various economic growth factors, then to the growing destructive consequences. To do so, would provide murky conclusions given the above-mentioned difficulty regarding the proving of clear and direct cause and effect relationships in a fluid non-linear dynamic state. The complexities’ are intense.
Winston Churchill once remarked that out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge. So we turn to his guidance to find and apply a simpler way of understanding this complex predicament. As a result, we created a short listing that separates the key identified growth factors into either "Good Economic Growth" or "Bad Scientific Growth" to see what observations and conclusions might emerge under intense simplicities.
Also note that the expected outcomes from the two growth types are very different in purpose and implications. Good economic growth is largely expected to create more and more so-called, happy human beings - a definition of which is beyond this discussion, while the expected outcome of bad scientific growth is expected to create or cause the destruction and degradation of the planet. If there is any relationship between good economic and bad scientific growth then an interesting paradox would result.It could insanely read as follows:
"In order to have more and more happy people; greater destruction and degradation must be more rapidly applied to the source ( Planet Earth) of that happiness, until such time as is it is no longer able to function as a source of the happiness. More importantly, we must do all that we can to ensure that it happens as soon as possible"
List of Key Growth Factors
Good Economic Growth = More Happy People
Stock Market Values
Fossil Fuels (limited consumption)
Other minerals (limited consumption)
Arable land (limited consumption)
Fish stocks (limited consumption)
Bad Scientific Growth = Destruction Happiness Source
Species (other) extinction
Fresh water shrinkage
Loss of pollinating insects
Shrinking Ice Caps and Glaciers
Floods and wildfires
Stripped of the benefits of mathematical, mechanical or other forms of scientific device, the burden of judgement and conclusion now rests with the last cognitive device at our disposal. Common Sense! The above list, along with visually correlating charts for the growth factors; all other pictorial and documented reports leads to one simple concluding statement that is easy to understand and hold in your head, And it can be said without the confidence of any provable evidenced physical or mathematical relationships - mostly just common sense. And it goes something like this:
"Whatever we are doing to create more and more happy people is, at the same time, destroying the source of such happiness - rapidly"
And it is that one last small word that causes the greatest of all fears - even in fear itself. That fear stems because rapid also means exponential. And the exponents are not known for each growth factor or whether they too are increasing. We are operating blindly to dangers, any one of which could spin out of control with little or no notice.
The statement itself leads to thousands of other questions. Why so many people? How much happiness is needed? What can we do better to minimise the destruction? How long will the source last? How many people can be made happy? What happens as the source reduces the happiness it provides? And on and on...
So in the end we have no direct proof that any one good economic growth factor can be traced to a particular degrading process or destructive events. For all intents and purposes this commentary is adding more weight to the arguments of all the deniers. All we have is an intensely simple analysis with supporting charts that tells our common sense that whatever we are doing to create happiness for people is "rapidly" destroying the source of that happiness.
Our common sense then turns to ask the all to obvious, " How long will it last?" Is the inertia behind all these growth factors now too great to stop or in some cases reverse it, to avoid an unspeakable conclusion? Many processes and destructive events continue just as these additional pictures of the flooding trends and events in Europe indicate. Many more could be added from around the globe.
So is the metaphorical sky falling? Should we hop on the bandwagon? A lot depends on how you personally want to weight the good economic and bad scientific factors. Such a weighting should also include a provision for the exponential rates of each factor. But put it this way, based on our intense simple analysis and statement - an unimaginable amount and degree of contradictory evidence would be required to support and substantiate an opposing point of view.
Perhaps then, the more important and best question to now ask is:
What can we do, if anything, about it?
Conditions on earth are different...
First Financial Insights T.A McNeil CEO and Founder November 21, 2013
Never in the history of literature has any short
story entered the world with such fanfare, mystery and expectation. For a few
moments thousands of eyes from all around the globe will be engaged for a brief
minute or two making, at the very least, literary history. For days, months and
years thereafter, thousands of minds are destined to confront the enigma of “Infinity Express Flight 2100: Entropy
Fueled”. For as John Milton so profoundly stated in Paradise Lost – “the mind is its own place, and in itself can
make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” Are you ready to board this Starship? Are you sure?
Infinity Express Flight 2100: Entropy Fueled
– Asillylittlestory …
Boarding passes were presented by the 10,000 or so passengers who
happily jumped onto Starship Earth, some 250,000 years ago. For Infinity
Express Airlines, Flight 2100, was then finally boarded; destined to take its
passengers to the last shores of Eternity. Engines were fueled by cosmic fuel -
entropy; the flight crew was a top class professional team, captained by
Economics, while Theology, Politics and Science rounded out the rest of the key
cabin crew members.
After take-off, the passengers’ only concerns were survival,
procreation and creating the distractions needed to keep their brains’ -
primary organ - neurological mass and energy mix, actively producing a range of
various cognitions. Through their cognitions they could also create many
stories that would allow them to organize and entertain themselves over an
expected long voyage. So they did all these things. It was a circular process,
like everything else around them.
All the essential necessities were provided in the cargo store
for this journey, along with enough entropy supply for the Starship’s engines,
as well as, the daily use of passengers for their survival needs and
distractions purposes. This cargo store was certified and approved prior to
departure, and then managed, in flight, by the crew.
About fifty-nine “cosmic minutes” after takeoff, the Scientist
was becoming concerned, that the now over seven billion travelers, had been
consuming too much, from both the necessities cargo store and entropy fuel
tanks. It was a grand party, as evidenced by the thick cabin smoke and clutter.
But this ever-growing passenger population created after take-off was testing
the logical stress limits of the ship and voyage. Particular attention was
given to the half-full entropy fuel tanks.
“No worries” said both the Politicians and
Theologians “The Captain says there is more than enough for another
250,000 years given past usage experience, more than enough to refuel at the
next rest-stop along the way. “With these assurances the
passengers relaxed and continued with their affairs for a moment, not even
realizing that they were still going around-in-circles. Moreover, the Scientist
for some strange reason was quickly re-assigned to coach, with the other passengers.
Back in the cockpit cabin, its atmosphere was now engulfed by
the team’s fear, high-tensions, blinking-lights and stuttering confusion. The
abstract Positive-Sum Infinite (PSI) gauges for GDP, Wealth, and Growth were
all stabilized and normal, but the concrete Negative-Sum Finite (NSF) gauges
for Climate, Resources, Water and Biosphere had just jumped sharply into
J-curve configurations. The Politician, and now acting flight engineer,
immediately pulled-out and started reading the”Infinity Express - Emergency and Flight Disaster Protocols Manual.
“Quickly, what are we supposed to do?” asked the sweat-drenched
“Captain,” replied the Politician, “it says we are now LinearCurve Code
“Then, what does it say next. Tell me! Quickly! Please?”cried a
clearly terrified Captain.
“Strange Captain? All it says is that,the greatest shortcoming of the human
race is our inability to understand the exponential function. Dr Albert A
Bartlett. That’s it?”
“Holy jumping Star bucks guys – the fuel tank just dropped to
empty. Get into batten-down mode; we gotta to tell the passengers,” bellowed the
now highly-strung Captain at the top of his lungs.
Suddenly, back in coach, in just a few brief moments the
Captain’s voice broke the newly found Starship’s passengers’ cabin short-lived
passengers, please push back your trays; buckle your seat belts as our
indicators are telling us that we are about to enter an unexpected area of
accelerated exponential turbulence”the Captain deeply lamented in an
official resonant tone.
Then just as suddenly, sparse moments after the sturdy voice
left their ears - the engines went quiet. Then a brief ghostly hiss, followed
by Dead Silence…
Hardly moments later, within the carnage of terrifying wreckage,
a few survivors clung to their last gasps of time. A young little girl softly
and quietly turns to her father’s darkened somber face. With all her remaining
strength she blurts, “Why? Why Daddy? Why?
A single lonely teardrop etches on his face, then falls into the
soulless murmur of waves flowing into an existential universe. Looking for the
welcoming hand of eternity’s shores? Or humanity’s last thought?
There were no hands, no shores and no thoughts in the remnants
and carnage of unanswered why’s. Only whys. And then, another cosmic
minute lapsed, bearing the soft humming sounds of another passing
“the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven”
Special thanks to those
who contributed alphabetically to the crafting of this parody; Paul Chefurka, Chris Clugston, Fred Magyar,
Terry McNeil, Frosty Wooldridge and Dr Peter G Kinesa. And a very special
acknowledgement and thanks to the late Dr Albert A
Bartlett, whose famous quote is cited above regarding humanity’s (particularly
mainstream economics) inability to understand and
apply the exponential function.- a conceptual failing
which will ultimately have such profound effects on its condition,
sustainability and longevity. In the end, it should prove to be one of its greatest
failings of understanding and intellectual honesty.
Why there is any debate about what is the primary root
constraint and determinant of our journey, makes no sense at all, in our opinion. Entropy is the most pervasive defining principle of ourunderstooduniverse's elements and relationships. It simply interconnects all
Below is a brief pre-flight video documentary, released this past March, that adds further support to this
universal connection string; starting from our primary survival and procreation
needs, to theeconomy, to
money, to oil, to energy, and then right back to entropyExcept for Ivy-League(sic) Economists and Nobel Prize
straightforward connections that most folks can readily understand -
The paradox is that
the need to survive and procreate drives the entropy that ultimately creates a
final heat death or a situation where no organized form of energy exists, to
particularly serve our survival need, in the universe. And our survival need appears
to have a deeply-embedded insatiable-thirst for energy, which in itself
contradicts its initial purpose. And that's not as straightforward.
Moreover, we seem to be
constantly trying to fight or usurp this second law of thermodynamics. But
instead, we unknowingly act as fully obedient servants to an invisible master,
by doing all that we can to accelerate the transformation of usable energy into
its chaotic form, despite fully knowing where it leads us. Worse still - we do
so, with reckless and perverse exponentialdelight! Hmm.
However, there is a resultant optimistic
point in all this. Insofar as, if we do not identify and understand what the
critical underlying issues and constraints are - then there is little or no
chance of moving towards either its better situational management or even a
possible solution. Quantum Physicists, such as Vlatko Vedral, in his
that there are logical possibilities beyond today's known rules of the
universe. So there still remains a flicker of hope, in the painting of our
Whether any practical discoveries or broad
applications evolve from this form of work and thought is impossible to know.
But at the very least:it could yield for us a better attitude, which is a
little thing - that can make all the difference!
Not since the dawn of time has one short story so deeply rocked and stirred the minds of readers worldwide. From beginning to end, it intoxicates your thoughts and senses, leaving you with just one inevitable question?
November 15th 2013
At First Financial Insights and other participating websites.
On this November 15th 2013, 7 pm (EST), you are invited to join the many thousands worldwide attending thisRed Carpet Eventat First Financial Insights that Premiers:
“Infinity Express Flight 2100: Entropy Fueled"
In less than five minutes, this short story takes you from the dawn of time, to a place where eternities meet eternities. So bookmark this site, mark this time, and be one of the first of your friends to tune in and know the journey of our times!
Don’t forget your Boarding Pass…
First Financial Insights
October 30, 2013
Are you ready to board this Starship? Are you sure?
SPREAD THE NEWS #Flight2100
Be sure to invite a friend
or two to this gala social media event, so that you may share thoughts,
questions and ideas. It should enhance the overall learning experience and help
you formulate questions, opinions and action ideas.
So help us all spread the
word and #Hashtag or Tweet or Post
While I agree with the conclusions
of the analysis regarding the unlikelihood of achieving sustainability, it is doing so from a similar but different conceptual
framework - call it the eyes of a dispassionate Alien Doctor. Eyes that also conclude that the planet can never
achieve any sort of sustainable population level because…
are constantly trying to measure yards with inchsticks.
And without effective calibration metrics and devices,
it is impossible to accurately diagnose analyze, remedy, manage or resolve any
situation. It is the same as having either a thermometer or speedometer device that
constantly show inaccurate and random readings – sooner or later, you get
yourself into a heap of trouble, including extreme illness or death.
When it comes to state of population measures,
there is no generally accepted accurate metric or unit of measure and thus no
possible way to calibrate “the state of
population.” (Adding up individual head
counts is a largely irrelevant number for management purposes as supported and
confirmed by comparative numerical illustrations below.) Again, so would you
ever drive a car without knowing its speed? Yet we continue to talk of
population control with little or no understanding of what and how to measure
its current state. There is no effective unit of relevant measure to be applied
by conceptual devices. Making it impossible to diagnose, analyze, project,
plan, remedy or create the desired sustainable population state. Without these
tools, we are destined to randomly drive not just a car, but an entire planet over
Here is a simple illustration that acts to explain
the calibration and metric issues regarding “the state of population.” First, it is well known that annual oil consumption
per capita, in North America, Europe and Japan (Western Complex), averages anywhere from 32 to 36 barrels per
capita. While India and China (Eastern
Complex), developing countries with over 3 billion in combined populations,
annually average a mere one or two barrels per person.
Thus, using this proxy
measure, the ecological and consumption footprint is said and calculated to be 17
times (17:1 ratio) greater for each
person living in the Western Complex. Given the known relationships between oil
consumption and its environmental effects, this footprint is thus assumed to
also share proportionately in the maladies now affecting the planet, in terms
of climate, oceans, economics, geopolitical issues and all forms of
Case Study Illustrations
Now here’s the good news, with Doctor Alien’s
powers, the Doctor was able to reduce our planet’s population to one billion
people in fifty years through birth restrictions, natural attrition and other
civil means, without war, conflict or any other sort of adverse human expense.
Everyone should be overwhelmed with joy as there are now 6 billion fewer people
on the planet and all existence concerns and threats should start improving. Humanity should now be able to survive
for hundreds of more years. One cannot imagine that anybody would be displeased
with this great success – the miracle of all times!
Except for our good Doctor Alien. Because the
bad news is that the remaining one billion are only Western Complex people and
they have also concurrently doubled their footprint over the past fifty years,
to a 34:1 ratio*, while they
continued pursuing the infinite growth
theories prescribed by their trusted neo-classical economic gurus. Life was
good. Converting this, however, to the Eastern Complex’s individual footprint
from fifty years back, the planet now has an equivalent population of 34 billion
Eastern Complex people. It is now severely overcapacity.
Complex people, for purposes of this illustration did not increase their
footprint over the fifty year period it is considered the base or steady state.
Including a population equivalency of 500
million Western Complex people embedded in today’s 7.1 billion figure – what
stands out in this hypothetical experiment, is that even with a dramatic
decrease of 6 billion to 1 billion in global population numbers; we
end up being worse off by more than doubling in footprint terms. Why? Because
the new population consists only of 1 billion Western Complex persons, who were
also busy doubling their ecological and consumption footprints, pursuing
endless growth, over the past fifty years of global depopulation.
Here’s another way to look at this experiment
in fifty years. For a moment, personify yourself as the planet earth and you
have to make a decision about what Complex offers you the best opportunity to survive
and build a long-term relationship. You have only two choices. You can choose
to cohabit with 1 billion people from the Western Complex or 7 billion people
from the Eastern Complex who do not pursue an endless growth strategy. Even
with its 6 billion more people, for strictly rationale reasons, you choose the
Eastern Complex simply because your longevity timeline is extended roughly five-fold
(34/7). That is the most logical decision based on the arithmetic outcomes
using the equivalent population metrics. On the other hand, if you decided
based strictly on the absolute numbers, that 1 billion is lower than 7 billion,
then you would have curtailed your life-expectancy by 75%. (As an aside, most smokers would probably
have no problem quitting this addiction when faced with these grim numbers)
Imagine that! For the planet, in this numeric
experiment, the 7 Billion low-consuming people are clearly a much better choice,
than the 1 billion hyper-consuming addicted people! Most of us at first blush, would have likely
thought otherwise. We did
to the conclusion that often-used unit of measure or metric “absolute
population by persons “does not in any way calibrate “the state of
the population” and it is not a meaningful metric or relevant unit of measure
in any way whatsoever in this regard – you just are driving the car
without a speedometer and surely heading for a heap of trouble -
probably over the cliff. For planetary management purposes the number has
limited utility on its own.
Moreover, the much better unit of measure or
metric, calibrates “the state of population” based on ‘population equivalents ‘A
metric that moves to embedding and calculating the aggregate of a specific population’s
individual ecological and consumptive footprints on the planet. Shifting to
measuring and managing planetary affairs based on generally accept “population
equivalent metrics,” rather than just simple headcounts. is both profound
and far-reaching. But, without qualification it is absolutely imperative if one
hopes to better manage the population and planet’s resources and conditions
towards a mix achieving their optimal longevities.
For as the good Doctor Alien’s final Inter-galactic
Committee Report reads:
can no longer afford to be constantly trying to measure yards with inchsticks…”
First Financial Insights
“Without accurate measurements we cannot even effectively
diagnose the patient to begin with…”