Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth News

Humans Will Need Two Earths By 2030 738

Posted by samzenpus
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-petroleum dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A recent report warns that humans are overusing the resources of the planet and will need two Earths by the year 2030. The Living Planet Report tells that the demands on natural resources have doubled in the past 50 years and are now outstripping what the Earth can provide by more than half."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Humans Will Need Two Earths By 2030

Comments Filter:
  • Noo! (Score:3, Funny)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:33PM (#33926716) Homepage

    I told you not to take the axiom of choice!

  • Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:33PM (#33926718)

    .. and we've run out of ipv4 addresses "in about a year" for the last decade or so..

    and people will probably pay about as much heed to this warning as they do to ipv4 exhaustion.

    AND just like ipv4 exhaustion, nothing serious is going to be done about this until stuff actually starts falling apart. And by falling apart I don't mean charts and graphs, I mean "The Day After Tomorrow" falling apart. And even then...

    • Re:Bull (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ect5150 (700619) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:36PM (#33926734) Journal
      Amen... same thing about other resources. You can find clips of former President Carter claiming oil and natural gas would be gone "in the next decade" while giving speeches in the White House.
      • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:17PM (#33927064)

        What Carter was discussing was resources in the USA, at projected increased rates of consumption. Since we passed peak oil in the continental USA in the 70s, this was not inaccurate. I don't think it ever occurred to him that we were collectively such self-absorbed greedy obtuse little wussies that we would let ourselves become dependent on the Arabs, Russians and Mexicans for the life blood of our economic viability and strategic safety (i.e. Oil).

        Surprise!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You aren't dependent on "Arabs, Russians and Mexicans for the life blood of your economic viability and strategic safety"... you were right, it is a problem of attitude not supply. There wouldn't be a problem if "you" could simply stop driving all those Hummers and other fricken huge vehicles that are totally unnecessary for the average person, by which I mean people who don't have an actual practical need for an SUV or truck but drive one anyhow to help keep their egos pumped. And houses that are integer m
    • by gilleain (1310105) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:38PM (#33926746)

      And by falling apart I don't mean charts and graphs, I mean "The Day After Tomorrow" falling apart.

      So, superstorms that freeze the Earth, and CGI wolves?

    • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@[ ]oo.ca ['yah' in gap]> on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:40PM (#33926760)

      I rather doubt we will have a "day after tomorrow", things don't happen like that. Instead I see a mechanization of our nature. For example, imagine a sort of nature where things are completely recycled? Sound far fetched? Consider how Switzerland is essentially self-sufficient in copper. Does Switzerland have copper mines? Nope not even close. Copper can be easily recycled and hence Switzerland recycles their own copper. This goes towards rare earths, etc, etc.

      While many people believe that we waste, waste, waste, there are many pockets of the world that are now becoming adapt at living with little. Classic example is Israel. Israel can grow crops with water amounts that makes everybody else blush with embarrassment. That is the future...

      • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:47PM (#33926834) Journal

        Precisely. These kind of projections invariably fail to take into account even the most basic ideas about supply and demand. As we begin to run lower on a given resource it becomes increasingly more viable to recycle it or look for alternatives. In most cases this happens without even especially inconveniencing people - everyone might grumble about fuel prices, but then they just drive a little less, the market for more efficient cars grows, and not that much changes in our day to day lives.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by lennier (44736)

          As we begin to run lower on a given resource it becomes increasingly more viable to recycle it or look for alternatives.

          Quite so. Supply and demand will sort everything out perfectly, as a famous 1973 documentary film explained [imdb.com].

        • Re:Bull (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ironsides (739422) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:56PM (#33926892) Homepage Journal
          Expanding on the search for alternatives, they also fail to account for changes in technology. Whale Oil was replaced by natural gas. The same will happen when Coal, Oil and Gas start to become scarce. Fusion may or may not be viable by that point but we still have Hydro, Wind and Solar going in the mean time.
          • Re:Bull (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Alef (605149) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @08:06PM (#33927476)

            While technology might very well "save us" once again, it's a bit audacious to assume that it always will in the future. Civilizations have fallen before, and all of them could probably have argued in a similar way before the end: It has worked fine up until now, so why shouldn't it continue to?

            I actually think energy is one of the easier problems to solve -- solar cells will drop in price as demand increases and technology advances, and the sun provides orders of magnitude more power than we have use for at the moment. But if you look at almost any other natural resource, demands are increasing at an exponential rate. Since resources are limited, it is impossible for this to continue for very long. I have no doubt that society will adapt, the question is how disruptive the changes will be. At the moment, it appears that some prominent economies think that even reducing oil consumption is out of the question due to the economical effects it would have.

        • Re:Bull (Score:4, Interesting)

          by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:15PM (#33927030) Journal

          What I don't understand is not the future projection, but the PRESENT claim: "Demand is... now outstripping what the Earth can provide by more than half."

          If that statement were true, we'd be starving (needing 1.5 earths to survive).
          Clearly the fellow has no idea what he's talking about.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Alef (605149)
            ...or it means that we are living off our "savings" at the moment: cutting down forests faster than we plant new ones, using up ground water reserves, depleting farmland soil of nutrients and so on. The fact that we are surviving at this moment does not mean that the current situation is sustainable.
          • Re:Bull (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:34PM (#33927180)

            If that statement were true, we'd be starving (needing 1.5 earths to survive). Clearly the fellow has no idea what he's talking about.

            What he means is that we need 1.5 Earths to survive in the long-term.

            Think of the Earth like a retirement fund. You can take out more than the interest earned each year, but that means at some point in the future the account will be at zero. In this case, we are doing things like cutting down old-growth forests to make more farmland, overfishing, and doing other things that the Earth cannot replenish or repair on a human time scale. Unfortunately, when the Earth account balance hits zero, losing our home has a much broader meaning than having to move into a nursing home.

          • Re:Bull (Score:4, Insightful)

            by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:37PM (#33927200)

            If that statement were true, we'd be starving (needing 1.5 earths to survive). Clearly the fellow has no idea what he's talking about.

            OMG ur right - teh author is an idiot who failed first year logic!

            Actually, no - he means that demand is outstripping what the Earth can sustainably provide. Ie, humanity grows a fair amount of food, but only at the cost of chopping down huge swathes of forest every year. And in fact, 1 billion+ people are starving or malnourished.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by x2A (858210)

            It's simple. Take copper for example. Picking a nice easy round number just for demonstration, say we use 1Kg of copper per person per year, and we have 6.75Bln people on the planet. Unfortunately, if we average out all the copper trees to growing 1Kg of copper per tree per year, we see that we only have 4.5Bln copper trees. This is why we're having to roll out fiber optics for broadband instead of copper, because the copper trees are really tired. Why don't we just planet more copper trees? Well we are, bu

        • wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bussdriver (620565)

          Technology has not progressed a whole lot this generation and its currently not moving at the exponential rate the population is.

          Projections are limited (can't predict the future) and hindsight is easy to be smug about. If everybody was to live the American way, we ran out of earths long ago. If everybody lived the EU way, we'd be 3x over the limit.

          You blow this off; thinking somehow new tech will save us-- we'll buy it and then TRASH it and newer tech will save the day... The cycle doesn't go on forever.

          It

      • Re:Bull (Score:4, Informative)

        by VShael (62735) on Monday October 18, 2010 @04:31AM (#33930070) Journal

        Israel can grow crops with water amounts that makes everybody else blush with embarrassment.

        Have they started using Palestinian blood then?

        Israeli propaganda aside, you have to remember that Israel makes a practice of annexing orchards, houses, farms, etc.. and that's hardly a model for self-sufficiency. Not every nation in the world can demand lebensraum.

        Israel diverts all of Palestinian Jordan River water and 87% of Palestinian ground water to the state of Israel proper and the illegal Jewish settlers. The remaining 13% of Palestinian ground water is distributed back to 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

        Israel cuts off Palestinian access to water by destroying wells (Between 2000 and mid-2006, Israel destroyed 244 of Gaza's wells and destroyed 6.2 miles of culinary water lines); destroying all Palestinian pumps and ditches accessing the Jordan River; destroying cisterns and irrigation systems; preventing the construction of new water infrastructure; preventing the repair of out-dated infrastructure; preventing Palestinians from drilling new wells; and hindering access through 'security measures' such as roadblocks, closures, checkpoints, and the wall.

        The route of Israel's security wall delineates the eastern boundary of high groundwater production from the Western Aquifer. The wall fences those areas of high water production into Israel, closing off Palestinian access to more than 95% of their groundwater resources, over 630 million cubic meters of water per year.

        Since 1967, not one permit has been granted for the drilling of new Palestinian controlled wells in the largest and most productive of all the aquifer basins, the Western Aquifer.

        Palestinians pay from four to twenty times more for water than Jewish settlers pay, but are restricted to 10 to 60 liters of water per day, less than the 100 liters-per-day minimum standard set by the World Health Organization. Jewish settlers enjoy from 274 to 450 liters of water per day.

        Five thousand Jewish settlers living in the Jordan Valley consume the equivalent of 75% of the water used by the entire West Bank population of over 2.5 million Palestinians.

        Crops grown in the fertile Jordan Valley of the West Bank, are grown in Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory.
        http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/519 [bdsmovement.net]

        The Israeli military shoots unarmed farmers
        http://palsolidarity.org/2010/06/12759/ [palsolidarity.org]

        30% of Gaza's arable farmland, and some of it's most fertile, lies within the 'buffer zone'.
        Farmers attempting to cultivate land in the 'buffer zone' are routinely met with barrages of live ammunition and occasional artillery shells.

        Since 2007 Israel has also banned Gazan farmers from selling their crops abroad, where they might compete with Israeli produce
        http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11414.shtml [electronicintifada.net]
        They are also facing further restrictions on the types and amounts of products they can grow.

        Palestinians must obtain permits from Israel to grow crops. Permits are granted based on whether Palestinian crops compete with Israeli agricultural production.
        http://icahdusa.org/download/10 [icahdusa.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by arth1 (260657)

      With Ipv4, NAT gave us a reprieve, which is why we have managed up until now.

      With the Earth, don't expect any such workaround.

      That said, what TFA refers to isn't doomsday by 2030, but that in 2030, we will be using renewable resources twice as fast as they can be renewed. Which means that we are going to run out of lotsastuff one day, but exactly when is hard to estimate.

      (And perhaps even foolish to estimate -- any estimate is going to be scrutinized by the reactionary right, who will search for any error,

      • Re:Bull (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:11PM (#33927004) Journal

        With the Earth, don't expect any such workaround.

        Yes we can, and are actively working towards them even as I type this.

        The workarounds include higher efficiency devices (e.g. iPad/Mac Mini/laptop instead of a massive gaming desktop), lowered consumption (when gasoline hits $5/gal in the US, odds are excellent that we'll all be driving less), and a different way of providing the goods (locally-sourced and produced foods instead of container-ship shipped, etc).

        Long-term, this also includes starting colonies off-Earth, or at least having commercial space mining and production (which in turn expands the resource pool for a lot of things, from energy to minerals, to living space when we start looking centuries ahead). We're doing space tourism now (well, not-quite-LEO), and with commercial space industry warming up, it is not impossible (or even improbable) to consider viable commercial space entities making regular trips up and back by 2030. Consider that the first airplane flight happened in 1903, and we had commercial passenger flight by 1930.

        This has nothing to do with "left" or "right", and using such designations will only muddy the water (and degenerate the debate). Please refrain from doing so.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356)

          The workarounds include higher efficiency devices (e.g. iPad/Mac Mini/laptop instead of a massive gaming desktop)

          The iPad is a mobile device - the user is on the move.

          The mobile gadget or mini HTPC doesn't replace the more capable full size laptop or desktop. It is your second or third, fourth, fifth or sixth purchase of an Internet enabled appliance - which include all your e-book readers, smartphones, video game consoles, HDTVs and so on.

          The infrastructure needed to suppport all this is not trivial.

          The g

  • Ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scottbomb (1290580) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:36PM (#33926728) Journal
    Haven't "scientists" been saying stuff like this since about the mid-1800s? "Peak Oil", "Population Overcrowding", "Global Warming"... all modern-day myths that never seem to die no matter how much they're refuted.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by selven (1556643)

      The myths are true, we're just really good at pushing back problems until we absolutely can't no more, at which point things screw up epically.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sqrt(2) (786011)

      Is space on the earth infinite? No. And an individual human's need for space is much greater than zero. Given those two fact there is a limit, just on living space, for how many humans the earth can support. Now, what that limit is exactly isn't known for sure, it's a moving target because technology keeps pushing it higher and higher but there definitely is a limit. Same with water, and food production. You can squeeze more and more efficiency out of the system but eventually you're going to hit a limit, e

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arth1 (260657)

      They're not refuted - we're adapting, finding ways to both postpone the inevitable, and spread the impact out over time.
      You mentioned "peak oil". We are coping by various means, including (but not limited to):
      - Processing oil from wells that earlier weren't considered economically viable, but now are with the oil price increase. This directly flattens out the peak.
      - Replacing oil-based power plants with other sources.
      - Reducing the amount of oil used per engine. Back in the 70s, 12 MPG was pretty much st

  • Another low point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by groomed (202061) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:39PM (#33926754)

    What is the purpose of this post? What does it even mean? What is the purpose of posting a link to a nebulous summary of a highly suggestive report on an extremely politically charged subject on a site that bills itself "News for Nerds"?

  • If this is true, nobody's really listening. They're embroiled in their own personal battles, and they _know_ that finding a job is hard now. Any radical change 20 years away (good or bad) is almost always false. Global cooling, flying cars, personal robots, futuristic looking cars and buildings...
  • by bananaendian (928499) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:40PM (#33926764) Homepage Journal

    Quick, someone say "we're using the resources at a larger rate than the earth can provide" ! before the cornucopians come out of their caves to declare infinite growth through infinite resources.

    The bottle maybe big but the spout is killing us.

  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ian(at)union.io (1868404) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:41PM (#33926786)
    This has F-U-D written all over it. Yes, we might need 2.75 Earths worth of *some* minerals or resources, such as tungsten or cork trees, in 20 years, but we certainly do not need 2.75 Earths worth of other, vaster resources, such as breathable air or silicon. To say that we'd need two Earths in order to quench our ravenous thirst for light bulb filaments is overkill, and certainly does more to make me discount these studies than think poorly of how humanity manages the resources we have.
    • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

      by scorp1us (235526) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:22PM (#33927096) Journal

      This was soured from a WWF report. The same WWF that has been making dire predictions form day 1, and even managed to get their non-peer-reviewed policy papers (it isn't even science) into the IPCC reports. Wherein, recently, the IPCC has has to issue retractions for it not being up to scientific scrutiny.

      In short, nothing to see here, move along. It's just WWF campaigning for more money.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:42PM (#33926800)

    But I still remember in the 70s how oil was going to run out by 1990; we seem to have had only twenty years' supply of oil left for as long as I remember. Similarly, half the world was going to have starved by 2000, but instead we've seen population continue to increase.

    The hair-shirt left have cried disaster so many times that it's impossible to take them seriously anymore.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:35PM (#33927186) Journal

      To be fair, the radical (on either side of a debate) always have a knack for exaggeration. This shouldn't deter us from taking at least some measures towards better efficiency and at the same time expanding resources available.

    • by Khazunga (176423) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @08:14PM (#33927538)

      You are probably referring to Hubbert's Peak [wikipedia.org]. His prediction was for peak production in the US, and was mostly on target (which is admirable for a prediction 50 year ahead). The curve has been adapted to several regions, with correct predictions. The peak global production, using Hubbert's curve, is predicted for 2005, and it seems to have indeed ocurred [doe.gov].

      Mind you, peak production isn't the same as "running out". There's still a lot of oil out there. It's just that now it's clear we must find an alternative, and we have a couple of decades left.

  • by Bluude (822878) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:43PM (#33926802)
    So when are we going to start regulating birth rates? I know this is seen as racist by many, since the minorities are the main ones reproducing at an alarming rate, with obvious octomom exceptions, but it is about the future of our planet and the survival of our race at this point. Race isn't even a factor.
  • Why?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by nloop (665733) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @06:49PM (#33926858)

    Why, slashdot, do you insist on posting article after article wrote by Al Gore and the global conspirators of Climate Gate. Clearly if just drill in the Arctic it will solve ALL of our environmental woes.

  • by actionbastard (1206160) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:00PM (#33926920)
    is here [panda.org]. Contains lots of nice, big, hard to interpret charts and stuff.
  • by davev2.0 (1873518) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:00PM (#33926922)
    Somehow I doubt that the groups who created this report are impartial and it is well known that if one goes looking for a specific conclusion, one will find the conclusion whether the conclusion is correct or not.
  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:12PM (#33927012) Journal
    The overpopulation myth [simplyshrug.com]. Bottom line - we could provide for every single person living on this planet with just the resources inside the US. Never mind the rest of the world. We're a LONG way from overpopulation... We have a distribution - not resource - problem to solve.
    • by Bayoudegradeable (1003768) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:16PM (#33928366)
      Solving that distribution problem wouldn't take more resources now, would it? Moving all "that food we can produce" would happen with magic fairy dust, right, not fossil fuels. Distributing all that food would happen with magic neo-awesome materials, not vessels made of iron. And certainly, we'd grow all the food the world needs with mythical unicorn tears, and not the already stretched supply of clean, fresh water. Sure, it's a distribution problem that will NOT BE FIXED without massive amounts of... gasp!... resources. You don't have to believe we are running low on many key components to modern life. In 30 years from now you will live it. And if China and India come anywhere close to a fully developed economy that allows the majority of its residents to live "modern" lives you'll be lucky to get 15 years of your comfortable life before the serious difficulties begin. What's easier to accept, "This is a load of crap! Pass me the bucket o' wings, I gotta watch this in high-def" or... "Damn it, I'm a part of the problem, too!?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RazorSharp (1418697)

      The overpopulation myth [simplyshrug.com]. Bottom line - we could provide for every single person living on this planet with just the resources inside the US. Never mind the rest of the world. We're a LONG way from overpopulation... We have a distribution - not resource - problem to solve.

      If people were boxes that needed to be stored in a warehouse, then the math would be solid. But that's simply not the case. Furthermore, even if such a state is possible and sustainable, that in no way means that it's desirable. I don't want to live in Texas with the population density throughout the entire state as dense as NYC. That sounds horrific.

      Another thing that is completely neglected is future population growth. The reason people like you think that overpopulation is a myth is because you're only t

  • look up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by confused one (671304) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @07:49PM (#33927304)
    OK, I've read all the posts and apparently I'm the only one (today) who reads this article, goes outside and looks up at the starry sky... Ignoring the article's source and Doomsday message, there may come a day ( in the distant future ) when resources become (excessively) difficult to obtain. Then it will be a good day to notice that this is but one smallish planet in a much larger solar system.
  • Well, of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @08:01PM (#33927414) Homepage

    Of course. Human civilizations are about 3000 years old, but industrial civilization is only 200 years old. Only in the past 100 years has large-scale resource extraction, large enough to make a big dent in potential supply, been feasible. The really rich ores, like veins of copper with over 1% metal, are long gone. Over the next century, lots of stuff is going to run out. Oil production peaked in 2005. [doe.gov] There hasn't been a major new energy source in the last half century; just improvements on previous ones.

    The "free market will solve all problems" crowd was insisting that peak oil would never happen. But it did. The price of oil has tripled without an increase in supply.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160)

      Of course. Human civilizations are about 3000 years old, but industrial civilization is only 200 years old. Only in the past 100 years has large-scale resource extraction, large enough to make a big dent in potential supply, been feasible. The really rich ores, like veins of copper with over 1% metal, are long gone. Over the next century, lots of stuff is going to run out. Oil production peaked in 2005. There hasn't been a major new energy source in the last half century; just improvements on previous ones.

      So what? Recycling alone handles virtually all of that hypothetical supply problem. And no new energy source in the last half century? Let me break it to you, there hasn't been a new energy source in the past 4.6 or so billion years yet we have yet to need another source of energy.

      The "free market will solve all problems" crowd was insisting that peak oil would never happen. But it did. The price of oil has tripled without an increase in supply.

      The first sentence isn't true. Peak oil is quite consistent with free market theory. And the "tripling" in price of oil is the price signal that will encourage people to seek alternatives to oil.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

Working...