Population, Resources, and the Faith-Based Economy: the Situation in 2016

| October 9, 2016 | Leave a Comment

globe in grass

Item Link: Access the Resource

Media Type: Article - Recent

Date of Publication: April 18, 2016

Year of Publication: 2016

Publisher: Springer International Publishing Switzerland

Author(s): Paul R Ehrlich, Anne H Ehrlich

Journal: BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality

Volume: 1: 3

Categories: , , , , , ,

How has the population-resource-environment situation changed since the publishing of The Population Bomb in 1968? Paul and Anne Ehrlich take a critical look.

ABSTRACT: Today’s population–resource–environment situation is summarized in comparison with that pertaining in 1968 when The Population Bomb was published. The human predicament is now much more serious, since the human population has more than doubled in size since 1968, key resources are much more depleted, and environmental deterioration is substantially more advanced. It is concluded that a change of society as profound and far-reaching as the agricultural revolution may provide a slim hope of avoiding a collapse of civilization, a change so profound as to cause the disappearance of most of the features of the industrial age and the myths that sustain it.

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • Vaughan Wiles

    Hello, MAHB,

    On the website…”and Then There’s Physics” there is a very interesting post dated May 1, 2016 titled “Maybe we really are screwed.”

    According to this post, there is a chance that we’ve made a series of mistakes by being too complacent about how fast our climate is warming, and that there is nothing we can do about it with the technology we have, to date. We actually don’t know if our long reaching climate models are correct, and if the models are not recognizing the amount of warming that may be looming, do we have any response currently planned?

    This is one of the first posts I’ve read that talks about the irreversible outcome of warming that near-term fixes for our climate dilemma may be insignificant in order to avoid negative impacts. Many have written in to comment on this post, and many base their comments on the language of human psychology, based on current climate writing, in particular, referencing the way this post was written. The final point is that it seems that climate warming rhetoric is entering a new phase, and that phase, it would seem, is, for the most part, alarm.

  • Vaughan Wiles

    Dear Erika and MAHB,

    Arctic News on May 2, 2016 is reporting that the north polar jet stream that circumnavigates the globe is slowing down, alarming forecasters, and allowing warm air up into the Arctic. This warm air, currently from North America, helps decrease snow and ice cover in the Arctic, and if this situation continues, could lead to feedbacks. (methane release, forest fires, more heat waves, drought) This northern polar jet stream has been talked about extensively before, and we are worried about the future of this jet stream compared to its past reliable pattern.

    This means that we do what? Is there a chance that it could completely stop or slow down even more? And then what? How will this impact our climate and weather patterns? Arctic sea ice extent, perhaps, is heading for a record low. Is the Arctic region sending us signals that it is in trouble, or should we just collect the data and stand by?

    When you look at one of the charts on the Arctic News post and see a red line heading south, off the chart, how does one cognate this? How will human psychology manage these data points (Arctic sea ice loss) if they continue to show this level of climate stress?

    Thank you,


  • Vaughan Wiles

    Hello MAHB,

    New articles and books are arriving describing how climate change might help us to see a way to save the world. They suggest that we will develop greater thinking and foresight consciousness to manage a warming planet faster than if we had not pushed earth’s climate so hard. This new thinking may be a surprise for many people in the climate field who feel that earth’s climate requires immediate attention, or maybe, not so much attention, and that we need to calm down a bit. Articles, books and posts are suggesting that spaceship Earth has no operating manual that we have yet found for abrupt climate change, and no captain that we currently know of, to steer the ship to safety. I am very surprised to see these articles that are based on human thinking, ( the language of sociology,) and mirroring our ideas of who or what is responsible, how will we manage earth’s systems, (as if we could,) and what will our psychology be if warming really does become the issue that defines us as a species.

  • Vaughan Wiles

    Hello, MAHB, and Paul and Ann Ehrlich,

    The Washington Post and other newspapers are reporting that Venezuela is having a very difficult time with a drought, largely caused by El Nino and other effects. Due to a severe shortage of electricity because the country’s main dam, the Guri Dam, has very nearly run out of water. The Venezuelan government has declared a 2 day work week, and amidst power outages, according to reports, inflation is running at 720%.

    In the Ehrlich’s recent paper, “Population, Resources, and the Faith-Based Economy: the Situation in 2016” Paul and Ann, along with many other researchers, addressed how population stresses vs. climate stresses may severely impact small and medium size developing countries. If a climate emergency of some kind in a more developed country were to get out of hand, what is happening now to smaller countries, perhaps, in the future could spread to larger countries with high populations such as India and China. We hope the rains come soon for Venezuela. They obviously need our care and aid as soon as possible. If situations like this keep happening, will the world attempt to find methods and new thinking that could be a life boat for smaller countries that have limited resources?

    There are new techniques on the horizon that require concerted efforts to link them up into one institute, so that scientists and others from almost opposing viewpoints can work and plan together. If, because of climate stresses, we move into the psychology of the lifeboat, “who’s in and who’s out and why?” A quick read of the Washington Post article and it seems apparent that Venezuela is still waiting for an invitation to get into the boat.

  • Vaughan Wiles

    Robert Scribbler is reporting on his website under the title “Climate Change Drives Half a Billion People to Suffer Hunger, Water Shortages as Drought and Heatwaves Wreck Crops Across the Globe” of a really bad drought in parts of India. (see link)

    Accordingly, Paul and Ann Ehrlich are warning us that food production stresses due to catastrophic drought are in our future. For example, in parts of India right now, people are moving into the cities in search of water, food and jobs. Their farms have dried out and we would hope that the monsoons arrive at some point and save people’s farms and jobs. When drought impacts a country as large as India, and the management, according to some news reports, has been slow to activate emergency relief, one has to wonder that if Africa undergoes a similar large scale threat, what would the migration repercussions be for Europe with large parts of the African population on the move.

    There are solutions that may be effective but remain in many different disciplines. We may need to move these solutions under one tent, probably sooner rather than later.

  • Vaughan Wiles

    Hello MAHB and Paul and Ann Ehrlich,

    I am currently reading your paper, “Population, Resources, and the Faith-Based Economy: the Situation in 2016”

    Thank you for writing this intriguing paper. A lot of skill and care went into its preparation. So far, in my reading, if I were to have one comment, it would be that this paper is about the future of earth’s sustainability and how to communicate those ideas.

    The one comment I like on the heading: “Governance, Institutions, and Collapse, inattention to earth’s sixth mass extinction, which is already threatening humanity’s life support system.”

    The word that has transfixed me is inattention, which, it seems, is the lack of a human response. And if we are focusing on inattention, what is the psychological solution to heal and respond to inattention? When climate warming data supports information on sensitive climate change outcomes, what has been the response to date? Will world wide governments prepare a plan in time for climate warming mitigation before tipping points come into play?