The End of Doom
Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century
Ronald Bailey, 363.7 B35E 2015, St. Martin's Press, PCC Library
The revolution will not be televised, because the nuances of ecological success cannot be reduced to soundbites.
Ronald Bailey is "libertarian spectrum", as am I, though that is a big spectrum of independent thinkers. I found a lot to like in the book, some of it was preaching to the choir, and some set off alarms. I hope to find time to check out both. We are both 1953 boomers, and both techno-optimists (whom techno-pessimists castigate and mischaracterize in email, websites, word-processed books, and tweets sent from their smart phones).
Bailey describes his initial enthusiasm for ideological environmentalism, and his subsequent observation-driven (we are still here, and doing better than ever) rejection of that. Perhaps an overreaction; "End of Doom" is techno-optimistic, but accepts climate change as real.
Like those who oppose him, Bailey attributes opposition to protection of income. Even if this is accurate, it is not verifiable, being an external speculation about internal mental state. My observation is that people who do not express strong views on controversial topics are more financially successful than ideologues - fewer offended customers, more attention to business operation.
Bailey cites the Yale Cultural Cognition Project - most people derive their attitudes about science from their cultural values. He describes Individualists vs. Communitarians, Hierarchicalists vs. Egalitarians. Bailey might be a I./H., I am closer to an I./E. A third axis might involve means and mobility - what Virginia Postrel calls "Dynamism" vs "Stasism" - seeking change rather than seeking stability. I'm getting old, and feel the attaction of hanging on to what I have, but believe that more is possible for me and others. So, ideologically, I am I./E./D., an explosive combination. I want to do better, and want others to do better as well. I hope the poor do better faster, because small steps towards the mean are easier than big steps above it, but recognize that those with concentrated resources are the most capable of creating more.
Wealth concentrates because physically redistributing concentrated resources is inpractical. 0.1% of a factory useless - unless (somehow) I help create the tools to facilitate high-performance distributed productivity. That can be done with information, but information flows through integrated circuits, and (in 2016) integrated circuits can only be made in enormous, expensive factories by vast teams of skilled people.
Paul Ehrlich, Garrett Hardin, Lester Brown, Alan Weisman, Rachel Carson, Jeremy Rifkin. Gilles-Eric Seralini, Vandana Shiva, Naomi Kline, Bill McKibben, Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, Worldwatch Institute
- P2/3: Anecdote illustrating stabilizing population statistics - lifespan up, birthrate down. 9 billion in 2060, reductions after.
- P14: Paul Waggoner: We can feed 10 billion people with half the land and advanced technology.
- P15: Munoz and Gonzalo 2013 - past population growth follows UN low-variant trend
P16: 2050: 8.7B, 2100 8.0B Sanjeev Sanyal(not Sanjay), Predictions of a Rogue Demographer
P17: women with more education have fewer children - 2014, Wolfgang Lutz, World Population and Human Capital in the 21st Century
P19: 2008: Bobbi S. Low et. al. Influences on Women's Reproductive Lives: UnexpectedEcological Underpinnings
P19: 2013: Bobbi S. Low et. al. Life Expectancy, Fertility, and Women's Lives: A Life-History perspective
P25: 2002: Seth Norton Population Growth, Economic Freedom, and the Rule of Law
- P31-73: Peak commodity shifts futureward, no incentive to search for more resources when ample reserves exist.
- reserves = known deposits , resources = geologically/technologically plausible deposits
- P63: shared autonomous vehicles ... can save resources
see IEEE Spectrum, 2016/02, G. Pascal Zachary, The Trouble With Targets. "Grand aspirations for engineering must be matched with an awareness of the potential for choosing the wrong target or messing up in pursuit of the right one. All we can know for certain is that our good intentions are never enough"
- why is the overall goal moving meat in cans, rather than moving minds at the speed of light, and muscles at the speed of health?
- P65: Tilapia and Catfish - hm; depends on source and Omega-3 content, which depends on feed sources, yes?
- P66: Sergey Brin backing New Harvest lab-grown meat - ditto.
- P67: Likes additive manufacture, but hard-tooled mass production is far cheaper.
- P75: non adaptive rigid societies vulnerable
- P75-94: Precautionary principle - Virginia Postrel's ideas more explanatory. Upwardly mobile (poor or rich) like chosen change, downwardly mobile oppose change. Nobody likes losing what they have.
- P91: Joel Mokyr: THe Gifts of Athena
- P123 Epidemiologists find far more low-confidence false positives, 5 to 10% of observational studies are replicated. Negative results rarely replicated.
- P154: Stacking several pest resistant traits, much higher evolutionary barrier to evolved resistance
- P159: Monsanto vs. Schmeiser - used roundup to isolate roundup ready canola, then saved seed from that
- P163: $136M to bring new bioenhanced variety to market "in part because of regulatory requirements"
- this drives out small seed companies, there are 6 big players left
- can they research collaboratively, or crosslicense?
- can they do high payoff, high risk research then sell successes to the big guys?
- if there were no regulations, how much would this cost drop?
- after the simple discoveries made, would the price rise again
- this drives out small seed companies, there are 6 big players left
- P164: Farmer suicide in India: Bt cotton actually boosts income and food security.
- Anoop Sadanandan: Most commit suicide because of banking changes and predatory loan sharks. Rates similar to Scotland and France.
- P175: Changed mind about climate change in 2005, based on balance of scientific evidence
- decision driven by temperature measurements, not heat budget or physics
P190: 10x CO2 causes reef calcification declines, but no tipping points: S. Comeau et. al., The responses of eight coral reef calcifiers to increasing partial pressure of CO2 do not exhibit a tipping point
- P197: Not damaging yet - climate damage because there is more stuff and people to harm.
- P208: Cap and trade corrupt, carbon/pollution taxes might work better
- either way, how to avoid gaming the measurement?
- P229: Alternative energy - these facilities are rated by peak power - which they almost never achieve, and rarely coincident with peak demand.
- P244: Species-area curve valid for islands and fresh-water streams, not oceans and larger land areas. Counts may be radically reduced without short-term extinction
- hm, lack of genetic diversity in small populations can be a threat in the long term, small populations are more vulnerable to statistical effects.
- P248: Cities Spare Nature (does not reference David Owen "Green Metropolis".
- Karl Marx: growth of cities ... "rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.
P253: Emma Marris. Rambunctious Garden: "...more nuanced motion of a global, half-wild rambunctious garden, tended by us."
- P255: Mark Sagoff. Ecologist cannot objectively distinguish between pristine and hodgepodge.
- P258: Species don't "coevolve", but adapt to what they find around them. Human transplanted species do also.
- this suggests that humans might be able to transplant species to more favorable environments.
- P262: Robert Lackey, OSU, "ecosystens have no preferences about their states."