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Elon Talking About Birth Rates and Ramifications

Discussion in 'Video' started by mdevp, Sep 15, 2015.

  1. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I've always disagreed with Musk on this issue, and I think he's being uncharacteristically short sighted. A declining population means more resources for everyone. More importantly, Musk strangely ignores the potential of technology, specifically automation, to allow productivity to remain high with a smaller workforce. Finally, medical advances should allow individuals to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.
     
  2. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    @Jrp3, I agree with you. And like you, this is the one major issue that I have disagreed with Musk on. I'm totally on board with his goals for sustainable transport and also for colonizing Mars, but I do not believe that the human population can continue to expand at the rate it has during my lifetime (1954 to present) without severe adverse consequences that cannot be dealt with through technological "fixes".
     
  3. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    One thing I do remember Elon saying, which may speak to his underlying motivation, was, and I'm paraphrasing, that the population of religious fundamental extremists was growing faster than more moderate and secular populations, and that this could lead to a world wide technological dark age, among other things. I do agree that is concerning, but I don't think it can be realistically countered by urging non extremists to have more children.
     
  4. HVM

    HVM Savolainen

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  5. bonnie

    bonnie I play a nice person on twitter.

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    So I can't say if Elon is a good dad or not - but I can say the little evidence I've seen leads me to believe he is. I spent a limited amount of time with his kids when he spoke at the first user conference - they were well-spoken, curious like kids should be, antsy but controlling themselves, etc. And they obviously loved their dad. I've also heard stories of him looking at his watch in big meetings and exclaiming 'oh sh&^, promised the kids we'd go see [insert move ref here]' as he ran out the door, leaving everyone wondering what just happened.

    Perfect, none of us are. But if the kids know he cares about them, that's a really big component. I don't always agree with him, but he's parenting better than a lot of people do.
     
  6. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    It doesn't really distinguish between extreme subsets of religions.

    http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/18824/demographic_projections_predict_fundamentalist_populations_surpassing_secular_counterparts.html
     
  7. SR22pilot

    SR22pilot Member

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    As far as sustainability, what has to change is the youth culture that pushes older people aside. The aging population is a lot healthier than earlier generations and can be productive if we can get away from a culture that seeks to discard older workers.
     
  8. mspohr

    mspohr Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure what your point is here.
    Rosling's talk does a great job of showing that the world's population will peak at 10 billion and that all religious groups participate equally in the decline of birth rate. Of course, within the average for each religion, there will be subgroups which will have a faster or slower decline in birth rate. After all, that is inherent in the term "average".
    Rosling's point is that population will level off and grow older on average.
    So, what is your point?
     
  9. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    The point, that other people are making as well, is that the extreme fundamentalists of all religions do not follow the pattern that Rosling is describing, and he is not taking that into account. That means he could be wrong. Even if the population does stabilize, the concern is the increasing percentage of that population becoming radicalized and irrational. I believe that is also the heart of Elon's concerns as well.
     
  10. mspohr

    mspohr Well-Known Member

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    It does not matter that some small groups don't follow the pattern. Other small groups may have a greater decrease in birth rate. The average is what counts and that is the data (actual, real data) that Rosling has been following for 50 years and that shows a decline. There are always outliers and you can ignore them since the average is what matters when talking population.
     
  11. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    If the group of outliers keeps increasing then at some point they are no longer outliers. I'm not talking just about absolute population numbers, I'm also talking about the makeup of that population, which, as stated, is what seems to concern Elon.
     
  12. LargeHamCollider

    LargeHamCollider Battery cells != scalable

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    The current population of the planet is well below carrying capacity, look at South Korea and Japan for examples of very high population density, advanced societies. But, If we do exceed carrying capacity that would create a good reason for Mars colonization...

    Frankly I'm surprised by how many educated people buy into the Malthusian superstition. Malthus has been wrong for a hundred + years and continues to be.

    Increasing population creates economic stability, decreasing population economic instability (though I agree that technology can mitigate this to some degree).
     
  13. mspohr

    mspohr Well-Known Member

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    Elon was speaking of a population implosion with an inverted population pyramid (more old people than young). You seem to be concerned about the "wrong" kind of people (fundamentalists) taking over scarce resources.
    I hate to go all Godwin on you but this is the same flawed argument used throughout history as a excuse to persecute minorities. In recent history we have the Fascists and the Nazis up to the current day US Republican party (with Donald Trump as the most eloquent spokesman). The argument used to gin up fear and hatred has always been fatally flawed. It wasn't true for the Nazis. Their resource argument for getting rid of the Jews was just as flawed as Malthus was two centuries earlier. (For an interesting exploration of this subject, I recommend "Black Earth" by Timothy Snyder.)

    Today's cartoon:
    TrumpHairSaluteCOLORdailykos.jpg
    "First Donald Trump came for the Mexican immigrants, but I wasn't a Mexican immigrant, so i didn't speak up..." -said someone on the internet. Donald Trump and his supporters swear he is the hottest newest thing on the political scene since forever, but we all know that we've heard a campaign like this before. Maybe in the 1930s. In one of those countries that's better than our loser country, according to this candidate. I think we should relearn this lesson and look into those history books, before someone bans them.
     
  14. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I'm surprised how anyone thinks constantly increasing population is necessary for a healthy economy or that it's sustainable or desirable. Last time you were stuck in traffic did you wish there were twice as many cars on the road, or half as many? Many places are already struggling with issues from ground water extraction, because too many people are using a limited resource. Taking the planet to it's carrying capacity and beyond, then hoping we have a way out by going to Mars or somewhere else, makes no sense at all.

    - - - Updated - - -

    As I said I'm also referencing other statements from Elon saying essentially what I'm saying, that the increase in population of religious fundamentalists is concerning.

    Who said anything about persecuting anyone?

    Yes we did, and did we ignore that threat until they took over the world? No. Your analogy is misplaced. People with distorted ideology, be it Nazis or extreme fundamentalists, are potentially a threat if they come to power.
     
  15. wdolson

    wdolson Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. We can have large population densities in some places, but a lot of resources need to be gathered in other places to support those people. The large population in East Asian countries has contributed to the massive decline in fish in the Pacific Ocean. Large Asian factory ships scoop up fish from the world's oceans at rates that were unimaginable a couple of decades ago.

    Japan and South Korea are net importers of food, as is China to a small degree. Their food needs to be grown somewhere else where the population density is low enough to grow food for export. This problem is going to get worse in the next decade. Both China and India grow a lot of their food with ground water. China has exhausted all their shallow aquifers and are currently using up the deepest water they can get. When those aquifers are exhausted, China will be buying food from the world market and putting a big strain on it. The world is just barely able to feed all it's mouths right now at the cost of fisheries in the oceans as well as straining the farm land around the world.

    I also disagree that an increasing population creates economic stability. The countries with the most economic stability are the ones with populations decreasing naturally and the most unstable are those with booming populations. Egypt has seen a massive boom in their population since the 1960s when childhood vaccines were introduced almost universally. Their economy has become very unstable since. They have a massive population of young men with no work and no prospects for work. The Arab Spring happened there (and in other Arab countries) because food prices went up due to drought in Australia, followed by floods in the American Midwest, with massive brush fires that killed the wheat crop in Russia thrown in. Just disrupting the food output from those exporters led to political instability in Africa and the Middle East. That's how close to the edge we are in food production.

    And this is just food. An industrialized society like you have in Japan and South Korea consumes more energy, and more of all resources than a non-industrialized society. This is good for factory workers in China, but Western Australia is being strip mined to provide the raw materials for these factories. A lot of other countries are also seeing their natural resources stripped away in bulk. Madagascar was once a heavily forested island with a lot of unique wildlife. Today almost all the forests are gone. The rain forests of South America have also been torn down to open up farm land, build new settlements, and extract mineral wealth from the Amazon basin.

    Historically, Europe was barely subsisting when the black death ripped through the population. The plague was so devastating in part because the population was very hungry. There were more mouths to feed than there was food. 1/3 of Europe's population died over a couple of generations, which was horribly traumatic for the survivors. But when the plague was gone, Europe took off technologically and economically. For the first time in centuries, Europe had upward mobility as smart peasants rose to take jobs left vacant by the plague. With a smaller population, the wealth trickled down to the lowest classes better enabling them to live better lives and feed into the economy. Science and technology also got a big boost as people started thinking about improving this world instead of living for the next one. It was probably also boosted by the social mobility allowing people of lower classes with the talent to go into those professions. A number of Renaissance scientists had humble beginnings.

    A shrinking population is economically difficult while it's happening. Japan is struggling because they have a large population of pensioners and not that many people to pay for them. However when the current generation of retired people passes on, Japan should bounce back economically and do quite well in the world. Other counties have the same economic bottleneck looming because of the Baby Boom in many countries and the one child policy in China. While the large cohort is retired with a smaller cohort funding them, those countries are going to struggle economically, but everyone will probably be better off in the long run with smaller populations. With automation, we don't need anywhere near as many worker bees as we used to. Machinery can do a lot of what used to be done by unskilled labor. A small population managing machines is economically better than a large population of manual labor.
     
  16. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    I am amazed anyone would say an increasing population is a good thing. Me thinks the current levels of population itself is unsustainable for a healthy planet.

    All the other species in this world will say a big thank you if we cut the population by 30-40% at least. Remember this earth is not just for us.
     
  17. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    Agree completely. Species extinction is accelerating to the point that we may inhabit this earth alone. Of course, we'll be gone too if we continue on our current path. The human race has been a very bad thing for the planet and the planet will get even.
     
  18. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    Enjoyed this thread, and it made me revisit thoughts on population. One of my favorite skeptics, Steven Novella, posted this a number of years ago, and I generally agree with the sentiment. We are poor at predicting our future, so it's pretty tough to take a side. Even if you do take the side of less population, making tracks in that direction is really tough. I don't know how you go from complaining to action.

    What I do think we can do is work on technology that helps us limit our per capita resource consumption. Which I guess is how we tie this back to TMC. :wink:
     
  19. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    #39 JRP3, Sep 20, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    Pushing for funding for education and birth control is an obvious start. Interesting talk on the subject by Melinda Gates

     
  20. mspohr

    mspohr Well-Known Member

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    Rosling's talk has one slide (at 9:43) which summarizes the factors which lead to low population growth:
    - Children survive childhood (somewhat counterintuitive but if you think about it, you'll have more children if you think some are not going to survive)
    - Children are not needed for work
    - Women get educated and join the workforce
    - Family planning is accessible

    He points out that most countries are already well into the transition to low birth rates and that we have reached "peak baby". The problem we face (which Musk points out in the short interview which started this thread) is that we will have fewer young people to support more old people... hence the "implosion".
     

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