Australia: Climate Policy Fail? Or Democracy Fail?

Stockpiles of coal at the Newcastle Coal Terminal in the Australian state of New South Wales. (note 1)

Of all the developed countries, Australia has the poorest standing on climate.

Bas Eickhout: Dutch Parliament Delegation leader (via CNN) .
  • The ‘Standing’: Government Climate Denial.
  • The Politics: Coal Delivers Power.
  • Public Sentiment Doesn’t Match Government Policy.
  • Behind the Politics: The electorate has limited influence.
  • Democracy Fail For Australia, or a Problem with Global Reach?
Continue reading “Australia: Climate Policy Fail? Or Democracy Fail?”

Search: What Search Results do others see, and can search hurt me?

Web searches give results tailored to you. Haver you ever wonder what other people see?

  • Search Services Exist To Earn Money, And Show What They Want You To See.
    • The Revenues Come From Providing ‘Tweaked’ and Biased Search Results and Information.
    • Incognito or otherwise: Personalised Search Results (with bias) = Maximum revenue.
    • Does the bias and being tracked matter?
      • Be aware of the bias.
      • They Don’t Sell Your Data: They use it themselves to manipulate you.
        • Selling Your Data Is Not The Problem.
        • Manipulation to keep you online: Too much time online?
        • Have they changed who you trust for news and information.
  • Search With Minimised Bias and Manipulation.
    • Everyday Search Privacy Using ‘Duck Duck Go’ or Equivalent, and ‘Safe’ Browser.
    • Everyday Browser Privacy using Brave or Equivalent.
    • Search With Real Privacy and Bias Prevention Using Brave and Tor.
    • Why The Privacy: Seeing what others see, protecting your profile.
    • The Limitations Of Genuine Privacy.
    • Country specific searches.
    • Who Can You Trust, And How Far Can You Trust Them?
  • How Does Do We End Up Paying, and How Do Search Engines and Browsers Providers Get So Rich?
    • Somebody is paying a lot of money!
    • How The Money Gets To Google etc: The Cost of Business in the 21st Century.
    • Advertising, Influence and Corruption: A Continuum.
    • Who Pays? Other people, or is it really us.
  • Conclusion and What’s Next?

Search Services Exist To Earn Money, And Show What They Want You To See.

The Revenues Come From Providing ‘Tweaked’ and Biased Search Results and Information.

It is easy to forget that search engines and web browsers exist so the companies that provide them can make money. Every search is designed to earn them money. How they earn the money is discussed later, and this section is about understanding how their profit motive affects the results you see.

It is not as simple as searches only reveal information when paid, as they have to balance being too blatant, in order to keep you using their service.

The companies providing the most popular search engines and web browsers, are trillion dollar companies, with more wealth than any companies in any industries ever before.

These companies do not provide these search engines and web browsers out of the goodness of their hearts, but to generate the revenues that them the richest companies ever.

As explained below, the revenues of these companies depends on two goals:

  1. Maximising your use of their products providing the results you find engaging.
  2. Ensuring as much as possible their products become your source of trusted information.
  3. Influencing your decisions through the information you receive.

Some information is just there to keep you using their products as much as possible, but without the profits from influencing your decisions, that would just increase their expenses.

Each of these three steps requires tailoring search results to suit the person doing the searches.

Most of us use the products confident that our views will remain balanced, and while these companies manage to influence others into believing the world is flat, the influence of opinions only happens with other people. Even if we wont be influences by the results, we should be aware that the data we see has been is not neutral, and is filtered and adjusted due to the need to at least try to influence our opinions.

Incognito or ‘private’ setting do not change the web services tracking you, the main ones always track.

Search results use profile data to return results specifically for you and that will engage you, and this means your search results could be very different from those seen by people in other countries, with other viewpoints, or even the information seen by your neighbour from their searches.

Have you ever wondered what search results people with different views from you see? Do you ever feel a desire to see what search results not specifically designed for you would look like?

Pick one issue you feel strongly about, search and you will usually find results that confirm your viewpoint. But what search results do people with the opposing viewpoint see?

One way to see results that are not specifically generated just for you, is to hide your identity from the search. If the search is unaware of who you are identity, then surely it can’t still be biased to confirming you existing views.

The trap is, although browsers have an ‘incognito’ or ‘private’ mode, is that, as stated by Google Chrome and Firefox etc your identity will still be visible to websites you visit, which includes search engines. Incognito mode means your computer won’t have a record of your browsing, but web sites, search engines, your ISP, and if you are at work your employer, will still have full information on your internet searches.

The benefit of ‘incognito’ is that someone else looking at your computer wont see your browsing history, but the web still sees you.

Even without cookies, every web request from your computer creates a trail of information “web request from computer X to web address Y”. Every point on the web the request passes through can keep track of what requests are sent from your computer, and where the requests are headed. Incognito makes no difference, and it has been know for some browsers to also report your data to the company who made the browser, even when that company is not even a party to your web request.

In summary, the ‘free’ products are all supplied by companies that earn revenue from your searches, and the richest ones earn the most money by being able to link searches and other requests to the person making those web requests. Despite the searches appearing free, it is a multi-trillion dollar business, the most valuable the world has ever seen, and they do not just ignore making money.

Your searches will be linked to you, and will return the results that make the most money for the companies running the searches and the browsers that their business model allows, incognito or not.

Does the Bias and Being Tracked Matter?

Being Aware Of the Bias.

The main problem with the bias is not realising the bias is there. It can seem amazing that not everyone shares your point of view given that every thing you find does seem to support your point of view. Until it dawns on you that others are seeing none of what you see, and a whole lot of evidence that supports a contrary point of view. Possibly the biggest danger from bias occurs when you don’t recognise the bias is there.

They Don’t Sell Your Data: They use it to manipulate you.

Selling Your Data Is Not The Problem.

Neither a big search engine company, or browser company is going to risk their billions or trillions doing any deal that is a serious breach of privacy in terms of giving your data to others. At least not routinely. The reality is the data they have on users of their products is their greatest asset, and the asset that has created their massive wealth. They do not want to let go of that data, they want to use it for themselves.

But do not think, “they already have my data anyway”, because the problem is not them having the data, it is them using that data to manipulate you whenever you are online.

These companies sell their ability to influence and manipulate. Like a government lobbyist, their reputation is build on results. The two measures of results are:

  • How much do people use their product?
  • How much evidences is there they can influence how people think.

There goal is maximise these metrics. To get people to use their products as much as possible, and for people to have their views directed by the information from using their products.

Manipulation to keep you online: Too much time online?

Are you spending too much time searching things or on web sites? This is the how your data is used against your best interest. Stealing your time, and stealing your attention.

Have they changed who you trust for news and information.

Where do you get your information? Have search results, links provided for you, or ‘recommended for you’ suggestions resulted in changes to where you get your news and opinions? The next way your data is used against you is it is used to shape your opinions.

Everyday Search Privacy Using ‘Duck Duck Go’ or Equivalent, and ‘Safe’ Browser.

DuckDuckGo is a search engine with a simple overall premise: we make less money which means we don’t have to compromise what we do to make money. Their own statement of the premise is simpler as it is their privacy policy:

What made DuckDuckGo so attractive to users is, unlike Google, they do not collect or store any personal information of yours. Their privacy policy is simple and straightforward – “we don’t collect or share any of your personal information.”

How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money (Business and Revenue Model)

As explained in the article in Entrepreneur above, the DuckDuckGo still exists to make money, just less of it. There are other, similar search engines. The simple principle is that the less money they make from searches, the less they need to compromise the search in order to earn that money.

There are still limitations to the bias, but for everyday purposes, just moving to DuckDuckGo will go a long way towards removing the bias from your searches. Of course the moment you click on a link as result of a search, you create a footprint on the web, and google and others will have ways to track you. The web has become just like a spider web.

Everyday Browser Privacy using Brave or Equivalent.

Of course no matter how you search, your web browser can still provide data to remote servers in order to track you. Firefox from Mozilla generates less revenue than the market leader Chrome, which means they have less to spend on influencing you to use their product, but it also means it is likely to be safer to use their product.

There are many web browsers available, and here is a list of browser alternatives to the big names: Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, or Opera. That list ranks Brave as number 1, as does this list from ‘pcmag’.

In fact I have been using ‘Brave’ since the beginning of 2020. Brave is based on the same open source Chromium code as google chrome, but without the ‘special sauce’ code that google does not reveal which is responsible for tracking and earning the money for google, but Brave adds its own extras for privacy and add blocking.

If you compare the same site shown on your screen opened with Chrome and Brave, you will see that with Brave, you are seeing far less advertisements. All the adds will slow down your browsing, but overall it will do what it can to increase your time spent on the web. If you want to see targeted adds, easiest to stick with Chrome, although Brave can allow add if you option in, and shares the add revenue with you if you do.

The downside is there are some web sites that will insist on showing adds, or decline to show their content without you allowing adds.

Real Privacy Using Brave and Tor.

While simply using DuckDuckGo search with the Brave web browser is a sufficient improvement for most uses, some content will still be optimised for your viewing.

My method to ‘visit’ search engine or other websites with real anonymity, is to the use the ‘Brave’ web browser, together with the “New Private Window With Tor” option. If your personal safety depends on being anonymous, there are even stronger protections available such as using the Tor browser, but under normal circumstances, Brave with Tor protection is sufficient.

What about the trail of information that includes “every web request from computer X (your computer) to web address Y(the search engine or site)” that is seen by every link in the chain?

Using Tor, your web request goes to an intermediary ‘Tor’ computer, and so that is all the links in the chain can see that you are doing.

The intermediary, then sends a request to the search engine or other web site to get the information for you, ensuring that your computer never connects with search engine or target website. Your have a session only with the Tor computer, which is normally in another country, and search engines and web sites see only web requests from the Tor computer.

Why The Privacy: Seeing what others see, protecting your profile.

Greater privacy ensures the search pages or other web pages are similar to those seen by everyone else and not just what a company decides to show based on your profile.

Another reasons is that you may want searches that do not appear in your online profile. For example, after seeing some information on ‘Hitler’, you may want to check online without adding that word to you profile as one of your search terms.

For me, the main reasons are wondering “do other people get the same results when searching”, and when I want to research something I suspect will trigger advertising if I don’t avoid it.

Even searching with “DuckDuckGo”, I get different results searching with and without using Tor, so something about either my location or ID does affect the result.

The Limitations Of Genuine Privacy.

Some web sites are designed for obvious commercial or communication reasons, such as a major brand, and online shopping site, or a government web site. Others, such as a site that comments on produces reviews on an industry, exist in order to gain advertising revenue. Some of these sites simply will not give information without getting personal information on who is browsing, because it breaks their revenue model.

One way to learn about the motives of a website is to check if it will still talk to you anonymously. Google search does varies in its response, sometimes asking “are you a robot”, sometimes insisting on setting cookies first, and other times just deciding not play. In the end, google is not in the business of providing search results and getting nothing in return.

Country specific searches.

Want to know what people in a specific country would see? Google has search pages for different countries, but since it knows who you are, it will give you the same search results regardless if you used “google.com” or “google.co.uk”.

Using Tor will typically identify you as from a different country each time you establish a connection, but it is ‘pot luck’ which country so this will allow you to see responses in different countries, but not those of your choosing. Want to know what an Italian sees as ‘best type of pizza’ instead of what Americans see as a response? Unfortunately that requires using a VPN service and is more complex.

Who Can You Trust, And How Far Can You Trust Them?

There are various privacy services, but since you deal with one privacy service to connect with multiple web sites, there is less research required to check that one specific privacy service is trustworthy, and then use that service, than to check each time you feel cautious about an individual website collecting data on you.

How Do We Pay and How Do Search Engines and Browsers Providers Get So Rich.

Somebody is paying a lot of money!

Search engines such as Google, Microsoft Bing, and even DuckDuckGo, all have to earn revenue to exist. Yes, even DuckDuckGo has to make money, just less of it.

To search, you also need a web browser such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox etc, and they all also need to earn revenue. Yes, even Mozilla, the makers of Firefox have to make money.

Google maker of the most popular search engine and web browser, is valued at close to one trillion dollars.

How The Money Gets To Google etc: The Cost of Business in the 21st Century.

If you want to be in business in the 20th century, you find you need to pay google. It has become a cost of doing business. Without help from Google, far few customers will find you, as google have become from the the majority of consumers who search with Google, the gatekeepers to being found when people “google” your product category.

Corruption, Influence and Advertising: A Continuum.

Corruption and Influencing Customers.

At one time in many countries, paying bribes was considered a cost of business. Another experience was gangs with “protection money” that if you didn’t pay, you would not remain in business. Hopefully all these practices, in most countries at least, are a thing of the past.

Still there is corruption. While there are steps to prevent corruption, in practice this is not possible, and all that we are left with is rules to limit corruption. The most blatant corruption was when to get business people would pay cash to those making the decision.

More obscure is when is when gifts, travel, or expensive meals are used to sway decisions. Now there are often limits on the value of meals or gifts, which is in some ways an acknowledgement steps to influence people, can be limited, but not completely eliminated. The line between being ‘nice’ and ‘friendly’ as opposed to seeking to influence becomes blurred. Reality is there is a level of ‘sucking up’ that is currently considered accepable, but it taken to levels that occurred previously, it can now be a crime.

The same perhaps can said of advertising. It should not be banned completely, but is there a point at which the budget allocation to influence buyers is going too far, given the effectiveness of the means to influence that are now available? It is well accepted that without a sufficiently large advertising budget to influence voters, it can be considered impossible to win elections.

Money spent on swaying opinions works. You can even sway people to make decisions that are against there best interests, which is why cigarette advertising is now banned. Just as an election can be won with the right budget, a consumers decisions between two products can be swayed by the right budget even if at odds with what is the best product.

The Pay TV Example: Acceptable Influencing, mostly.

At one time I felt that pay TV was a step backwards, as previously advertising had enabled free to air television, so consumers did not have to pay. Now I am not so sure. The marketing budgets that funded the TV stations, were all paid by consumers through increases prices of what they buy. If advertising was just about informing, then advertisements for Coca-Cola would describe the product rather than simply showing attractive people having fun. Would consumers have been better off if they paid for TV, but the products they purchases were less expensive?

With TV funded by advertising, the cost consumers are actually paying for the networks to exist becomes hidden from the consumers of the TV content, and the advertised products. Does hiding the costs from us result in significant waste in the system?

Apart from cigarettes, and some alcohol advertising, and perhaps some other forms, it does generally seem that system of funding television through advertising budgets that raised product prices may have been inefficient, but it was acceptable.

Does The Internet Take Customer Influencing Beyond An Acceptable Cost Level?

We were always paying indirectly for “free to air” TV, but despite our inability to control what we pay, it does not feel like the system was particularly broken, so perhaps indirectly paying for search engines and web browswers will also be fine. But there are differences.

  • Advertising on TV was not considered a business essential, especially for small business.
  • TV advertising was true promotion, and the TV networks never controlled the way people found a business.
  • There were several rival networks, and no monopoly.
  • Everybody saw the same advertisements, and no content was tailored to the individual.
  • Networks did not have data on individuals that could be used to effectively run individualised campaigns to shift the thinking of consumers.
  • The TV networks never because ‘gatekeepers’, and although that did partially exist in the form of telephone directories, these gatekeepers were never powerful enough to amass huge wealth.

Now we have advertising and influencing at an entire new level. Perhaps in the same way gifts below a certain cost level can be seen as ok, but over a certain cost become corruption, the internet advertising/influencing industry has crossed a line from tolerable to unacceptable?

Is the industry of influencing so valuable to society, that it justifies the profit margins from the process of influencing consumers to be so large that companies managing the influencing can have be as economically significant as the economy of Great Britain? That is where things are currently headed.

The total spend by consumers on the percentage of what they purchase that has to be diverted to marketing has become staggering, and continues to increase. It may be acceptable that 10% of cost of things we buy must be paid by the company behind the product to internet companies for influencing our purchase decisions, but is it ok if this reaches 20%? 50%?

Who Pays? Other people, or us.

Microsoft etcYou don’t pay directly, but through the products you buy, as the companies supplying the products all pay the web search and web browsing companies for their role in influencing your decisions.

If a company doesn’t include within the pricing an amount to pay to influence the decisions of buyers, even though their products would cost less, no one will be influenced to buy them, or perhaps, to even know the products exist.

So although we pay indirectly, we all pay to fund the web search providers and for the web browser providers.

Conclusion and What Next?

Conclusion still being considered. The consumers lose control over the cost of “free” products where they pay indirectly needs more consideration.

To still be explored is that consumers were provided product by TV networks as they created the content. The internet search companies are just the gatekeepers on the delivering the content, but are able to charge so much just because consumers don’t see that they are paying. DuckDuckGo and others prove how inexpensively the same service can be provided.

This page will be updated within 24 hours.

Why Car Makers are Lying.

If you follow car industry publications, there both facts and well recognised predictions that combined, signal a storm for the car industry.

  • Reality: Why Makers Are Lying.
  • The Lie and The Sad Truth: Industry Combined Revenues Will Plummet.
  • The Predictions of Doom: Both Right and Wrong.
  • Bankruptcy, Pivot, Or Downsize.
  • The Industry Future: Robotics?

Reality: Why The Makers Are Lying.

  • Electric Vehicle Sales are Growing, and their Appeal and Competitiveness is on the increase.
  • Value for Money Is Increasing Faster with Electric Vehicles than with ICE Vehicle Value For Money.
  • Electric Vehicles will soon (Est by 2025) become less expensive than ICE vehicles.
  • New Players, mostly from China, will use the disruption to claim of 50% of the market.

In less than 5 years, electric vehicles will become less expensive than ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, and are already significantly less expensive to maintain. Lower cost cars means less revenue from sales, and lower cost maintenance hits the even more significant recurring revenues. The introduction of EVs means less total revenue for the automotive industry. Then, there is the introduction of new players, such as Tesla (already the highest valued car company globally), BYD, XPeng, and NIO, who are predicted to capture 50% of the global market.

This means overall, the mainstream traditional electric car makers overall are looking at less than 50% of todays revenues across the industry as electric vehicles take over.

The Lies and The Sad Truth: Industry Combined Revenues Will Plummet.

The grim reality leads to three ‘lies’, or misdirections from automakers:

  1. Internal Combustion Engine vehicles will continue to generate sales for many years.
  2. Hydrogen and Other Technologies Are another Future option.
  3. Around half of our sales will be Electric Vehicles by…….

1. Sales for Many Years.

The first ‘lie’ is to keep sales moving today while ICE vehicles still have a cost advantage, so consumers do not delay purchases waiting for lower cost Electric vehicles. Truth is there will be sales of ICE vehicles for many years, just in rapidly declining numbers and with as shift to used cars.

2. Hydrogen and Other Technologies will be here soon.

Blue Hydrogen: The greatest fossil fuel scam in history?

Any automaker who promotes hydrogen cars can enjoy marketing support from ‘big oil’, and help delay electrification with FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). The reality is that hydrogen cars can only be cost effective, if they use blue hydrogen and result in more green house gasses than current ICE cars generate.

While creating a new market for fossil fuels certainly can attract financial support, the reality of getting a new technology infrastructure in place that would increase greenhouse gas emissions is sufficiently unlikely that the main appeal is in propping up share prices on the promise of a future for industries that are dying.

Yes, hydrogen cars are an option. Just one that can never really add up. But more options can create choice paralysis on moving to a new technology.

3. Around half of our sales will be Electric Vehicles by…….

Oh yeah, we’ll just sit around and make a lot more profit with our ICE vehicles, because we all know that 2045 that maybe there might be some uptick in EVs.

Industry pundits continually point out that car makers predict 50% of sales to be electric, by some future date (usually 2030) when it seems certain almost all cars will be electric. They “will go bankrupt if only half their cars are electric by then” is the catch cry!

The automakers are supporting Biden’s new target, announcing their “shared aspiration” that 40-50% of their cars sold by 2030 to be electric vehicles, according to a joint statement from the three automakers.

CNN 2021, August 5.

Recently Ford, GM and Stellantis (Chrysler Jeep) all pledged to reach 50% of sales to be electric.

One one hand, huge marketing dollars push into “it won’t happen”, while industry insiders insist the car makers will all go bankrupt if they are still trying to sell ICE vehicles in numbers by then. Yes, in 2030, almost all new cars sold will be electric, but given the average car age in the US is around 12 years, most cars on the road will still use gasoline for much longer than that.

The truth is that the traditional car industry companies will only sell 50% electric, because they will only sell 50% of the number of vehicles they sell today. That 50% electric is all they will sell, because their market share will be halved, so having the same number of models as today would be economic disaster.

The Predictions of Doom: Both Right and Wrong.

The predictions of doom because car makers are taking too long to convert their sales line-up to electric are misguided. Most of todays car industry has to be prepared to sell half as many cars as today, so they need a leaner model line-up once the market is electric.

Those same companies are stopping development of new ICE vehicles in reality, even if their language can be ambiguous to try and prop up shares prices that effect executive bonuses today.

Halving sales is doom. But it is not because they won’t have enough cars ready. Some of it is because they are already too late the catch the market change, but most of it is because with Tesla, the Chinese and other new market entrants, they just have to lose market share.

Bankruptcy, Pivot, Or Downsize.

A common prediction is “(insert car company) will go bankrupt because they will sell less cars!”. They, existing car companies, will all sell less cars. But this is not the first industry to face disruption and new lower cost technologies. Look at the computer industry from the 1970s. Some companies will fail, but many others will learn how to exist on a smaller scale, or pivot into new markets. Are there new emerging markets for companies producing cars?

The Industry Future: Robotics?

Already the leader in electric, Tesla and the Chinese such as Xpeng, have announced the are moving into the market of domestic robots. As revenues decrease due to cost savings as the electric vehicle market matures, robots could be the big new growth market, and requires many of the same skills.

My Journey To The Population Maturity.

Population is a complex area. For me to arrive at my current point of understanding, took a number of light bulb moments over the years since 2013, with each realisation shattering some of my previous beliefs, and it often taking years to be ready to take the next step. This page is a recap of my journey, and if you can move quickly from step to step, then you can absorb information faster than I can, but perhaps this information will inspire others on their own journey.

This page is about a journey towards understanding population. The steps have been:

  1. We are doomed: David Suzuki and The Petri Dish.
  2. Growth is Slowing and ‘Births per Woman’ are falling: Some Hope?
  3. More Hope: Hans Rosling, Peak Child, and The Population Pipeline.
  4. The Last 250 Years Represents An Unprecedented Population Explosion.
  5. What Caused the Explosion? Could It Happen Again?
  6. What Ended The Explosion? Solving The mystery of Falling Birth rates.
  7. Population Maturity: Exploring where the stability comes from.

1. We are doomed: David Suzuki and The Petri Dish.

David Suzuki: 2010.

Watching David Suzuki, it becomes clear that while economists insist that perpetual exponential growth is essential for a thriving economy, perpetual exponential growth is impossible in the natural world.

This is step 1. The evidence of huge population growth continuing is overwhelming.

It is easy to believe that greed will lead to our downfall, and perhaps it will, but it turns outs, despite continuing growth, the dire predictions of the 60s and 70s have not come true, because humans have dramatically reduced the rate of growth.

While I posted my original concern about population growth in 2014, I had already been researching and a few months of that page, I came to realise the picture is more complex than that described by David Suzuki, although understanding the principles he describes are still an important part of the journey.

Step 1 is: “population growth is out of control, we are doomed”!

2. Growth is Slowing and ‘Births per Woman’ are falling: Some Hope?

By 2015, I had learnt that exponential growth was no longer happening.

Rather than continuing the accelerating exponential growth seen up to the 1960s and 1970s, and discussed by David Suzuki, population growth was now slowing. Even and such authorities as the UN projected population growth was now on trajectory towards a peak population, and that after that, population levels could even fall.

I posted “Population: Brace, the slow down has started!” in early 2015, and there were comments from people who strongly believed “we are all having too many children and will perish as a result”, that their beliefs were not about to be altered in a short time by new information.

Too many children? If so, then of course population would still be growing. What is “too many children”? The best measure available is ‘births per woman’, also referred to as fertility rate, and rather than 2.0 being zero growth, complexity of measurement and other factors mean that around 2.3 population stability.

Clearly, births per woman has been falling, but regardless of the predictions by the UN, the data so far still has the worlds population rising.

Growth ending is only a projection.

And population growth may appear to be slowing according to the UN data, but slowing, is not necessarily stopping.

Birth rates have fallen and are still falling, the rate of growth is slowing, and this slowing growth is already is a huge change. If even the rate of population growth is slowing, then our entire economic system which has evolved to be centred on significant population growth, is in for a severe shock.

But population growth slowing is not an end to population growth, and that is where step 2 leads.

Step 2 is: Population growth is slowing, but despite declining birth rates, population growth continues and it is hard to have faith population growth will ever be sufficiently constrained.

3. More Hope: Hans Rosling, Peak Child, and The Population Pipeline.

In fact, I reached step 3, even before I discovered the talks by Hans Rosling. But to do so, I explored the topic again several time while digesting that despite the population still rising, growth was indeed set to halt. Now years later there are many more sources of this news, and by 2020 even the BBC was predicting a total population crash.

However, watching Videos by Hans made it far easier to feel comfortable with this step, and his videos, including Ted Talks, and Gapminder videos, are recommended watching.

Professor Hans Rosling.

Hans explains birth rates have already fallen to the level that results in “peak child“, and that this will given time, result in the end of population growth.

This at first seems hard to believe, as you would think peak child should immediately result in “peak population“, but it turns out there is a delay due to the “population pipeline” which means that peak population is typically around half of life expectancy later than peak child.

Hans was somewhat of an optimist, with belief that although population levels are already a challenge, it is inevitable that having reached peak child population will stabilise and it will be manageable. But what about all the economists and politicians declaring we must have perpetual growth?

Step 3 is: An understanding that peak child arrives prior to peak population, and that population pipeline will mean changes to birth rates will take 30 to 50 years to fully be reflected in population growth. But there is still a nagging doubt something could result in population growth continuing.

4. The Last 200 Years Represents An Unprecedented Population Explosion.

It is natural to assume that the pattern of population growth seen by our parents, grand parents and great-grand parents has been as things have always been. But no, while ‘peak child’ and generations a similar size to that of their parents, is how things were for tens of thousands of year and all of history until the last few hundred years.

The growth from less than 1 billion people in 1801, to almost 8 billion people, a sixteen fold population increase, has happened in just close to 200 years. Homo-sapiens date back 300,000 years, and population growth from 2 homo-sapiens 300,000 years ago to 1 billion in 1801 would be an annual growth of below 0.007% and see the population double only once every 10,000 years. Not 100x faster growth of almost 7x more people in just 200 years which is 1.0% population growth every year!

Looking back at the UN data with the predictions above, it is quite clear that until around 250 years ago, population levels had been relatively stable for a long time. This rapid population growth, is specific to the last 250 years.

Why was population growth so much slower throughout history, even when people have had families with an average of well over 2 children per family. We have all heard of families of 10 or even 20 children, but of course there were also families with no children, but still the historical average has been 6 children per family.

Hans Rosling gives his answer to why there was population stablility prior to the ‘population explosion’:

Why did the worlds population grow so slowly before 1800? Throughout history, all historical records show that on average, 2 parents got more or less 6 children. But that looks, as a very fast population growth. So why didn’t it grow? Because 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. of the the children died before growing up to be children themselves. People in the past never lived in ecological balance with nature, they died in ecological balance with nature. It was utterly tragic!

Hans Rosling:,historical families sizes allow for children dying.

Step 4 is: Understanding that population growth as seen in the 19th and 20th centuries is not only unsustainable, but also unprecedented.

5. What Caused the Explosion? Could It Happen Again?

Realising we have had one explosion raises the question, how can we be sure there won’t be another population explosion, unless we know what caused this last population explosion? If we had an explosion once, perhaps the same will happen again?

The Cause.

It turns out, that, as explained by Hans, the explosion was caused not by larger families, but by children surviving.

But with the industrial revolution, this changed. Better wages, more food, tapped water, better sanitation, soap, medical advances…. So from all these advances, why did population grow? Was it because they got more children? No! In 1963, when I was at school [the peak of population growth], actually the number of children per woman had decreased a little in the world, to 5. And the reason for the fast population growth was the improved children survival, 4 survived at that time. But still 1 out of 5 died, that was still terrible.

Hans Rosling: Children stopped dying due to improved health.

It is clear early in any analysis, that the population explosion between 1650 and 2000 represented exceptional, and from all records, unprecedented population growth. It was indeed a population explosion.

Again, what caused this period of exceptional population growth?

  • Increased family sizes.
  • Increased food production.
  • Reduced infant mortality.

Comparing family sizes before and during the explosion, children born per family was lower during the explosion than before the explosion. Food production may have enabled avoiding famines as a result of the population increase, but it was not more births, but slightly less births with greatly reduced infant mortality that triggered the increase. Prior to the explosion, while food was always great quality, population was not constrained by available food, and family sizes did not increase their number of children in response to more food, as clearly, families did increase the number of children being born.

Clearly the explosion was driven by the reduction in infant mortality, as explained in more detail here.

There is no question that reduced infant mortality triggered the explosion, and progressing to this step only requires reviewing the evidence and waiting for the answer to sink in.

Could It Happen Again?

We have very much solved infant mortality. There are still child deaths, but these are now in sufficiently low numbers that even eradicating all remaining deaths will have insignificant further impact on population. Therefore the exact same problem will not reoccur, however there medical advances that result in longer lives would increase the number of people alive at any one time. As the elderly do no currently reproduce, the impact is a one time increase, rather that ongoing population growth, however if these secret of living indefinitely is ever revealed, then we reach a whole new overpopulation problem.

Step 5 is: Understanding there was an explosion, and it was clearly driven by the reduction of infant mortalities.

6. What Ended The Explosion? Solving The mystery of Falling Birth rates.

Understanding that the population explosion was ended by falling birth rates raises a huge, and unanswered question:

What caused the fall in birth rates that brought an end the population explosion?

It is huge because without an answer, the future is dangerously unpredictable. It is unanswered, not because there is no answer, but because people are not agreed on a correct reason to be the answer.

Unlike a boom caused by a temporary increase in birth rates, a boom caused by increased child survival cannot happily end by having things return to how they were before. We do no wish to return to high infant mortality to end a population explosion. Falling birth rates is a better solution, but a puzzling one. Now we have two changes. Reduced infant mortality and reduced birth rates, but the reduced infant mortality was intentional, while for the most part, reduced birth-rates occurred without specific intent or even necessarily obvious reasons.

There are several suggested reasons including:

  • Family Planning programs and measures by governments to reduce population.
  • The availability of birth control.
  • The education and changing role of women in society.

I discuss each of these in Why are birth rates falling?

Generally, the answers have problems. Yes, some countries, notably China, took steps to reduce birth rates, but most countries took no steps, and still have falling birth-rates, so steps to reduce birth rates are at best a partial explanation relevant only in some cases.

The most commonly accepted explanation is that factors not planned to lower birth rates, and not directly linked to the population growth explosion, are central to returning population growth back to historically normal levels.

The other possibility would seem to be that the reproductive instincts of humans, like other animals, is a drive designed by evolution to produce a sustainable population. We seem to think there is some logic that makes humans decide to have a specific number of children, or to fall in love in the first place, and even to love our children. In reality, surely these are not logic, but things we have evolved to be driven to do. And if so, it would seem logical that we are driven to produce an appropriate number of children.

That such factors play a role is the only explanation for throughout history people having an appropriate number of children.

7. Finite Population: We Evolved to Reach A Stable Population Plateaux.

The next step for me what a light bulb moment arising from thinking again about those historical levels of growth, that for so much of human history had to be close to stability. Then comparing this with what happens in nature.

Gorillas in the mist tells the story of a population of gorillas that appears to have been stable for thousands of generations. Yes species, including gorillas are capable of population growth that would over time result in incredible numbers, but instead seem to quickly reach a ‘population plateaux’ or stable level.

Just three children per family surviving to have their own family would result in population growth sufficient for a population doubling every 50 years. Clearly while this has happened during the last 200 years, historically humans rarely average 3 children living to have their own families, because if just this rate continued for just 3,000 years of the 300,000 years humans have existed, we would have 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 humans, which is over 18,000 humans for every square metre of the surface of the Earth.

On a finite planet that is even 500,000 years old, every species on the planet has had sufficient time to completely overrun the planet. This means every species has way more time than need to reach it resource constraints, and for those that can exceed sustainable constraints, to exceed constraints and reach a catastrophic level of overpopulation.

If it was human nature to populate ourselves out of existence, you would think we would have already done so by now. Since almost all animals can exceed sustainable constraints and exterminate their food sources, there has to be a way animals naturally limit reproduction.

Conclusion and Where Next.

In a reversal of the situation back in 2015 when people questioned that population growth would end, we now have stories like this one from the BBC:

The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers.

Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century.

And 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100.

Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born.

Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born, BBC 15 July 2020

There are many predictions of population numbers up to 2100, when China, Italy, and Japan will all halve in population and Nigeria will have more people than China. The risk with these projections is do they project based on current trends, or do they predict future trends? The data seems to be the former.

What will happen next? If the plateaux concept is correct, then while the population may fall for a time, it will only continue to fall if that is what appears the right solution for humanity. I guess the next step is to explore just would the right solution for humanity be.

Covid-19: Almost over, or still a serious threat?

This is a follow up to “mid 2021, can we live with Covid-19”, as significant further information has become available. Currently updated as at August 22nd.

  • Will Vaccines end the Covid-19 problem, or is it an ongoing threat?
  • Risks vs Optimism: A range of futures is possible.
    • Looking on the bright side.
    • The Worst That Could Happen?
  • The Warning Signs.
    • There is no herd immunity, spread continues.
    • Vaccinated people do continue to become infected.
    • Infected People When Vaccinated Still Have Negative Health Outcomes.
    • While there is spread, there are variants.
    • Yes, ‘the worst’ may be almost here.
  • Complacency?
    • Will Coivd-19 just go away?
    • It Only Effects the Elderly.
    • Vaccines are a Silver Bullet.
    • We Just Have To Get Through Now.
  • The Challenge of Battle.
    • Lockdowns and Delta.
    • Civil Unrest.
  • Conclusion.

Will Vaccines provide an end the Covid-19 problem, or is there an ongoing threat?

In summary, there is conflicting evidence.

The promise has always been that vaccines could return the world to the glory days of before Covid-19. First we had to wait while we get and approve the vaccines, then we had to wait for people to be vaccinated. Along the way, variants of Covid-19 changed the rules. There are two possible post-Covid-19 futures, enabled by vaccines:

  1. Society could leverage a reduced spread rate of Covid-19 as a result of vaccinations, and eradicate the virus.
  2. Improved health outcomes for vaccinated people could make Covid-19 a disease we can live with.

From experience with vaccinations so far we believe the following is established:

  • Vaccinations do not eliminate spread.
  • Spread is reduced to some degree as a result of vaccinations.
  • Cases of Serious illness and deaths are dramatically reduced as a result of vaccinations.

This is mixture of good and bad, as significantly spread is reduced is uncertain, and weather the reducing serious illness and death is sufficient for living with the virus to be acceptable is also still in doubt.

There is an economic cost of eradication, but there is also an economic cost of living with Covid-19. Is it better to spend the effort now to eradicate, or to continue to pay over the longer term?

From a cynical perspective, it may depend on how economic cost is measured. Living with the virus actually creates economic activity as health care and even funerals are economic activity.

Risks vs Optimism: A range of futures is possible.

Looking on the bright side.

Positive: The UK has an acceptable outcome at the current case level?

The situation in the UK has transformed from nightmare, to a vision of utopia where a sufficiently vaccinated population has been able to cast off the shackles of Covid-19, open up, and see cases fall in the aftermath. Deaths are still relatively low, and the good news includes case numbers being lower now than when the UK fist opened up on July 19th. and even cases are lower than the peaks prior to opening up. But is the utopia only temporary?

Current data is that 94% of people in England currently have immunity to Covid-19. While even 94% does prevent spread, cases have remained below the level present on July 19. Deaths are currently on a seven day average of 100 deaths per day, and with a life expectancy of 81.77 years, and a population in 68 million, the result would be 1 in 22 chance of dying from Covid-19. In reality, chances are higher, because daily deaths are mostly from older people who originate from a smaller population, but this is still around a 1 in 20 chance that person’s death will be from Covid-19 as opposed to other causes. The current death rate is approximately 3x the influenza death rate from 2019.

Downside of the UK Situation?

The death rate of 100 per week would be 36,500 per year which is 18 times higher than the 2,000 people who die on the roads annually, and a lot of effort is exerted minimise that much smaller number, so it is not insignificant.

A concern is that the trend is that although case numbers fell immediately after July 19, they are now on the rise again.

Deaths are also on the rise.

Given that cases in the US fell in January 2021 prior to vaccinations reaching a level sufficient to explain a significant fall in cases, there is evidence that virus comes in waves that at time subside independently of vaccinations. The fall in cases in the UK, directly at the time restrictions were lifted, is hard to attribute to any peak in vaccinations or trigger. Given cases are again rising, it is too early to be certain where the long term average case numbers and resultant casualties will stabilise.

What is missing from the available data is the hospitalisation rate, which is more critical in determining the risk that some measures will need to be reintroduced, and the rate of ‘long-Covid’ which may take longer to asses.

The overall risk is that current open status with an ‘acceptable’ rate of hospitalisations will either turn out to no be tolerable due to long covid, or only an unsustainable temporary situation.

The risks individual risks I can see are:

  • Cases and deaths could still continue to rise, and there is no reliable data on a stable level of case numbers.
  • If cases rise, the hospital system could come under stress.
  • ‘Long-Covid’ may pose a long term health problem.
  • New variants could emerge given case numbers are close to those at the peak of the pandemic.

Negative: The US situation is disconcerting.

The perception of vaccines is central to the situation in the USA.

The data is:

  • Vaccines have been highly effective in reducing death and serious illness, despite conflicting data on effectiveness against spread of the virus.
  • Cases in the USA fell in 2021, prior to a sufficient level of vaccination to cause the fall.

This data is interpreted with a high degree of confirmation bias by polarised groups with strongly held beliefs. Interpretations include:

Vaccines solve everything:

People were vaccinated, cases fell, but now delta has arrived we need more vaccinations.

It is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Vaccines are part of a conspiracy to erode freedoms:

Cases fell in January even in areas where vaccinations are low, so claims on vaccine effectiveness are false.

A problem is a polarised society, is that the with differing belief about vaccines and Vaccines have been very effective, but data on results from vaccinations in the US have seen data interpreted according to belief with a strong degree of confirmation bias.

The US dan the need for vaccines in the US

The worst that could happen?

Given the mixed outcomes we are seeing in different countries, and interpreting that data in the most cautious way, what appears to be the worst outcome we are facing right now? This is not the most likely outcome, but more the outcome we need to consider insuring against, just as we insure against a car accident even when we do not expect to be involved in a car accident.

Imagine a world where everyone, including babies in the womb, must be perpetually vaccinated levels against Covid-19.

Then, imagine that even when vaccinated, most people will spend months in hospital, even during their childhood years, and 1 in 10 or more will die before they are 30.

Although not technically the worst possible scenario, to me this sounds like a future we should insure against. Just as we insure our house against fire even though for most houses the risk is low, because it would be so terrible if the fire did eventuate.

If that outcome is sufficiently dire, the next question becomes, “is there a real threat this could eventuate?”.

How close to this reality are we?

The Warning Signs: The Reasons to Consider Insurance.

There is no long term herd immunity, spread continues despite vaccinations.

Already with the delta variant, or what I call Covid-19.4, it seems to be now agreed that, as I have suspected for some time, Covid-19 continues to spread within a vaccinated population. This is despite ‘waves’ , as in India in May 2021, or the USA in January 2021, seeing declines in cases even without substantial vaccination.

Vaccinated people do continue to become infected.

The term ‘infected’ is open to interpretation, but clearly vaccinated people can become infected.

This was backed by UNSW Kirby Institute virologist Greg Dore, who pointed to the example of Iceland to show herd immunity was “not attainable with the Delta variant”.

Iceland, which has 93 per cent of the population 16 years of age or older vaccinated, reported 2,783 cases over the past 30 days — its largest wave since the pandemic began.  

Yet Iceland has had no deaths for the past 30 days attributed to COVID. 

ABC 17th August.

Note that Iceland is a small country with a population of only 370,000 people, so this level of cases means almost 1 in 100 people in the country became infected within the last 30 days.

If vaccinated people who should be ‘immune’ can become infected, then clearly a person can be infected repeatedly. If there is substantial virus circulating in the community, as far as we know a person may become infected multiple times every year for the rest of their life, even if fully vaccinated.

Infected People When Vaccinated Still Have Negative Health Outcomes.

The above statistics from Iceland note that there have been no Covid-19 deaths within the past 30 days. However, data from Australia does show that vaccinated people have been hospitalised, been on intensive care, and even died during the current outbreak. Yes, of those who have died despite vaccination, they have been either elderly or had other health complications. This would suggest perhaps people who never become elderly, or never experience other health issues, will have nothing to fear once vaccinated, but even this assumption is not yet fully tested as with Covid-19 once the level of the virus in the environment rises, the severity of disease also rises. It may be still too early to have data on the impact of an outbreak amongst vaccinated people.

So far, the impact on the unvaccinated is so much worse, that the focus is on getting people vaccinated, and only then will we learn for sure the extent of the remaining problems. But what is clear, is that problems do remain even once vaccinated.

While there is spread, there are variants.

But we have progressed from the original Covid-19 to the delta variant within 18 months and the amount of circulating virus is higher than ever. What will we having in another 18 months, or an another 3 or 6 years?

Yes, ‘the worst’ may be almost here.

So with the delta virus, we already have the potential for people to become infected multiple times year after year even if vaccinated, and there are already hospitalisations as a result even when vaccinated, even if deaths are rare unless the patient also has other health problems. Possible the risk of death is low if you never contract Covid-19 and have an other health issue at the same time?

Complacency?

Will Coivd-19 just go away?

Trump was famous for declaring the virus would magically just disappear, and although it did not disappear on a schedule he would have wanted, it is still possible the virus could one day seem to do just that. What happened to the virus that caused 1918 pandemic?

“The end of the pandemic occurred because the virus circulated around the globe, infecting enough people that the world population no longer had enough susceptible people in order for the strain to become a pandemic once again,” says medical historian J. Alexander Navarro, Markel’s colleague and the Assistant Director of the Center for the History of Medicine. “When you get enough people who get immunity, the infection will slowly die out because it’s harder for the virus to find new susceptible hosts.”

Eventually, with “fewer susceptible people out and about and mingling,” Navarro says, there was nowhere for the virus to go —the “herd immunity” [also see here] being talked about today. By the end of the pandemic, a whopping third of the world’s population had caught the virus. (At the moment, about half a percent of the global population is known to have been infected with the novel coronavirus.)

Time.

Ok, if that is correct, then Covid-19 will not just go away, as unlike that explanation of what happened in 1918, there is no herd immunity as Covid-19 delta strain still spreads.

However, that does not rule out other possibilities as something at least reverses the ever increasing spread of Covid-19. Consider:

Both times there was a fall in case numbers that is not easy to correctly explain. For example, many people give credit to vaccines for the drop in cases in the USA, but examining the data clearly show the cases began falling prior to vaccinations reaching significant levels. Even though long term herd immunity through vaccination appears to be shown to be impossible, some level of short term immunity that prevents spread does seem to be possible. Either that, or the end of the coldest weather can cause a drop in case numbers.

While there are ways case numbers, even with delta, do fall, Covid-19 is not just going away by itself through herd immunity.

It Only Effects the Elderly.

It becomes convenient to adopt a belief that Covid-19 is a disease of ‘others’, and in this case, the elderly, negating the need for the young and healthy to isolate and making insistence they do isolate unnecessary and cruel.

Vaccines are a Silver Bullet.

Vaccines provide immunity that it was originally thought would result in herd immunity once vaccination targets were reached. There are still many messages, such as ‘vaccine passports’ suggesting that Covid-19 is over for those who are vaccinated. Now in the US, there are again recommendations of masks even for those who are vaccinated, but pandemic is constantly presented as a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’. In relative terms this may be true, but we may still find that even vaccinated cannot assume all is over.

We Just Have To Get Through Now.

Covid-19 has always been presented as something we must get through in order to be able to return to normal. That we can exists in any way near the previous normal without eradicating Covid-19 is still unclear, and rather than eradicate Covid-19, what I am hearing so far is plans for places where Covid-19 is currently eradicated to open up and allow the virus in.

The Challenge of Battle.

Lockdowns and Delta.

Australia is proving lockdowns with the delta strain are already difficult. How hard will it be it the virus continues to evolve?

Civil Unrest.

Much of society is completely frustrated with Covid-19 to the point that they demand and end to lockdowns, regardless of the consequences. Partly because lockdowns have prevented them seeing the consequences of no lockdowns. Generally, once the medical system breaks down, people then accept lockdowns, but that does nothing for eradication. Eradication requires lockdowns to continue even when cases are low until they are eliminated, and getting societies to accept that is extremely problematic.

Conclusion.

The real conclusion is that we do not yet know if we can live with Covid-19, yet no one seems to have plans to eradicate the virus in the longer term.

Mobile Phones – Fold 3 vs Note, Fold S-Pen Fail?, Watch and History.

This page focuses on a topical question, can the Samsung Z Fold 3 be a viable option for someone who has previously owner Samsung Note phones? Having owned 4 notes dating back to the original, I add my review, and links and selected quotes of other opinions.

The page includes my review from the perspective of The page has now been updated (26 Aug 2021) following first useful reviews of the S-pen case.

I will also plan to update the page review my history with mobile phones, which included the first ever Samsung Note, as background to my perspectives. But the history will be added later, with first a focus on what is needed for the Fold 3 to be able to replace a Samsung Note.

Continue reading “Mobile Phones – Fold 3 vs Note, Fold S-Pen Fail?, Watch and History.”

Our Home Robot Future and the Deebot T9+: Toys or Valuable Tools?

From ‘the Jetsons‘ maid, to Unitree Go1 and T9

Continue reading “Our Home Robot Future and the Deebot T9+: Toys or Valuable Tools?”

Vaccinations and Spread: The Dangerous Myth That Vaccinated People Don’t Spread Covid-19

Confirmation of reality: Extensive spread even if vaccinated.

A new study shows the Delta Covid-19 variant produced similar amounts of virus in vaccinated and unvaccinated people if they get infected.

CNN Health: July 2021

Note that once infected, the amount of virus is similar. This does not mean that spread is necessarily the same within a vaccinated group as within an unvaccinated group, as depending on how the ambiguous ‘infected’ is interpreted, there may be less risk of being ‘infected’ when vaccinated, and it is also possible that similar amounts of virus many not result is similar infectivity.

It is still most likely that being vaccinated reduces spread, but what is becoming clear is that reduction of spread appears far from elimination of spread. Given the delta strain is twice as infectious as the original, then unless being vaccinated means less than half the risk of spread following vaccination, a fully vaccinated population would experience as much spread of Covid-19 delta variant, as occurred within unvaccinated populations and the original virus.

People should still get vaccinated as it will massively reduce their own risk, and it still will like reduce the risk of spread to others, but being vaccinated is not a panacea or reason to abandon other measures.

We Know Elimination of Spread is a myth, but many pretend or even lie anyway.

There Is Clear Data on Spread Amongst Vaccinated.

While it is only recently we have studies showing just how infectious vaccinated people can be, it has long been clear that being vaccinated will not necessarily block infection. Examples of people being aware of the reality include the case of the UK health secretary, who under the rules for the UK went into lockdown despite having tested positive to Covid-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Note that the UK prime minister Boris Johnson, initially was going to not isolate despite being a close contact of the health minister because Boris Johnson is not only fully vaccinated but has also famously been previously infected, but Boris Johnson was forced to ‘backflip’ and go into isolation as scientific advice was that he could still not only be infected but also spread the virus.

Yet there are commercial interests that promote the fairy tale that “vaccinated people won’t spread the virus” because it can allow commercial activities that clearly, when facing reality, are life threatening if allowed on a large scale. Vaccine passports promoted as suggesting holders need not quarantine is just one example.

No Where has Herd Immunity been Achieved, despite vaccinations and case numbers.

Government Policy Based On Myths Could Be Tragic.

The Dangers of Subscribing To The Myth.

Unlike the myth of Santa Claus, where it can be said that telling people things you know are not true can be benign and yet make them happy, this myth is definitely dangerous.

The national news program last night declared that Australia would require 80% of the entire population to be vaccinated in order for life to be able to return to normal with the delta variant of Covid-19. The problem is, the data presented clearly completely unreal, and seems to assume zero fully vaccinated people become infected. So what is the reality? The reality is there will be no herd immunity at 80% vaccination levels, just reduced hospitalisations as a result of the vaccinations. Policy tells the population one thing, when reality is another. One people are convinced they cannot spread Covid-19 following vaccination, their behaviour is likely to be reckless. Unlike the Santa myth that is used to encourage good behaviour, this myth can also encourage bad behaviour.

Grattan Institute Report: Simplistic Statistical Lies.

It can seem simple. If in an unvaccinated population the virus spread to 5 people, once 80% (4 in 5) are vaccinated, then the spread will be to 1 person or less. ‘Herd Immunity’. Except this only works if vaccinated people cannot spread the virus. You would think, just weeks after the fully vaccinated UK health minister tested positive and need to in isolation, and his close contact, previously infected and vaccinated Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into lockdown, that thinktanks advising the Australian government would not the vaccinated people can be infected and potentially spread the disease.

In fact, with the UK at around 80% immunity levels once the effects of vaccinations and prior infections are both taken into account, guesswork is not required to see that infection numbers do rise even with 80% immunity, as it is happening in Britain. Herd immunity is not achieved, and the hope is that with sufficient people vaccinated, deaths will be low. However, deaths in Britain with 80% immunity are currently at around 100 per day, so the question as to whether that is ‘low enough’ and other consequences can be tolerated is still to be determine. However, but the time Australia does reach 80% immunity, then there will be more data.

Theoretical model that conflicts with real world data from the UK.

The question is how a group who advise government can predict that 80% will actually provide herd immunity, and that if there are outbreaks, as shown in the news article on 29 July 2021 on abc news, these outbreak would produce only around 10 deaths per outbreak is frightening. The UK has proven that as fully vaccinated people can still spread the virus, herd immunity is not achieved, and case numbers continue with deaths at levels many times those the models being used project.

No more lockdowns, no more capacity limits on venues, and that is the point as well when we can start opening up international borders.

Danielle Wood, Grattan Institute, on ABC news July 29, 2021.

This is a cause for concern, but at least the advice is not to open up before 80% levels, and hopefully by that time wise heads will prevail.

Update 17th August: Finally, Now the ABC also reports Herd Immunity does not appear possible.

Implications for Living With Covid-19.

There are choices as to what future countries aim for:

The problem created by the myth, is that if living with Covid-19 there will be very low rates of infection as everyone is vaccinated. The reality is that all evidence suggests that spread among vaccinated people of the delta strain is at least as prevalent as spread with unvaccinated people of the original Covid-19 virus.

Given that everyone locked down before hospitals overloaded with the original strain, the lower hospitalisation rate means we can expect the delta virus to spread to unprecedented levels with a vaccinated community. The positive news is that the chance of being hospitalised may be reduced by 90% to 95% as a result of being vaccinated.

However, as with the vaccinated health secretary, this ‘immunisation’ is against serious disease, not all disease. So over time, it seems certain everyone will have the disease ten or even twenty times. Which means, back to be hospitalised, although perhaps only after a year or two instead of first time around.

Conclusion.

Sorry, but like the pandemic, it is not over. But I will be trying to add a conclusion to this page soon,

Population on a Finite World: No Vacancy.

Every niche on Earth where live is possible is fully populated to maximum capacity, and has been that way since within less than 100,000 years after life was first possible. Since then, ‘moving in’ has meant displacing the current inhabitants, in process Darwin declared “survival of the fittest”.

Is it easy to overlook that environments not fully occupied by “us” are always already fully occupied by “others”.

This is an exploration of how all environments becomes fully populated, how humanity has our current population and what we have needed to displace to get this far, and need to display to continue to displace to continue population growth.

  • Rules of Population Constraints on our finite planet.
    1. 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.
    2. If even 60 doublings were possible, even pandas or humans, could from 2 individuals within 3,000 years produce a population that would completely cover the surface of the Earth.
    3. Every living organism has had more than ample time for 100 doublings, and is normally population constrained by the limitations of a finite environment.
    4. Every niche for life, is full to capacity, except following catastrophes or major disruptions.
    5. Population growth of any species, requires environmental changes, or evolution enabling the ‘invasion’ of environment previously populated by of other species .
    6. Continued Population growth is only possible through continued reduction in populations of other species.
    7. Every species must find population stability at some point while limited to one finite planet.
  • What about humans? Are We exempt from the rules?
    • Human Population Growth, how does it continue?
    • Alternating Times of Stability and Times of Population Growth Through Technical Evolution.
    • Ignorant Displacement: Those displaced go unseen.
    • History of human population: growth steps through colonisation.

Rules of Population Constraints on our finite planet

Rule 1: 100 doublings of population is beyond the maximum possible on Earth.

Since 1 million is 1,000 times 1,000 such an organism could double its population 1,000 times in a million year timeframe, but doubling population even 100 times is more than enough for any fully populate the Earth with that organism. A doubling of population 1,000 times is , and double 63 times in 63,000 years.

The ‘wheat and chessboard problem‘ illustrates how large numbers grow by repeated doubling, also known as exponential growth.

The wheat and chessboard considers doubling 63 times, in 63 steps from step 1 to step 64, doubling each step. One grain of wheat on the first square (20=1)as the starting value, leads to 2 grains on the 2nd square (21=2), 4 on the 3rd (22=4), 8 on the 4th (23=8), all the way to 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 on the 64th and last square (263). So a single living organism would result in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 organisms after 63 doublings.

Given the total land and ocean surface area of the Earth 510,064,472 km2, and each square kilometre is 1 million square meters, the 63 steps results in 18,082 organisms per square metre of the entire surface of the Earth, which for those who do not speak metric, is over 180,000 organisms per square foot.

So starting from two humans, 62 doublings would result in 18,000 humans for every square metre of the Earth.

Not very comfortable for humans, but possible for something very small or perhaps microscopic. Allowing the 100 doubling steps would generate 2,485,275,234,437,872 organisms per square metre ( over 25 quadrillion per square foot) or 2,485,275,234 organisms per square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth.

So 100 doublings would overrun the earth even with microscopic animals:

  • 2.5 billion organisms for every square millimetre of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.
  • …or
  • So 25 quadrillion organisms for every square foot of the entire surface of the Earth, as a result of doubling 100 times.

For larger animals such as humans, even filling the ‘chessboard’ is not required, as just 60 doublings would mean over 1,000 individuals per square metre of the entire land and ocean surface.

Rule 2: 100 doublings need not take very long, even for humans.

Relative to length of time life has existed on Earth, 100 doublings of even slow population grown animals does not add up to very long time, relative to planet over 4 billion years old.

Every organism must have a mechanism to multiply, or they could never have reached their current population level, or recover population level in the event of catastrophe or disruption. Past population growth can be used to calculate a population doubling time. For example, pandas have been shown to be able to increase population 17% in a decade. A 17% increase means 117 pandas for every 100 after 10 years. Since 1.17 to the power 4.5 is greater than 2, then pandas at that rate would double in population in 4.5 decades, which is a similar to the population growth rate to humans between 1923 and 1972.

The population growth rate for humans makes sense. If every couple has 5 children, which is below the historic average prior to the 20th century, and if 4 of those 5 children live to have their own children, then humans would double in population every generation, or a doubling approximately every 30 years. Just one child above replacement rate would result in a doubling every 50 years.

But a but a doubling in population every 50 years would result in 60 doublings in just 3,000 years producing more than 1,000 individuals for every square metre of the earth, which with animals the size of either pandas or homo sapiens, would more than completely cover the surface.

For perspective, humans doubling at this rate, would have resulted in 100 doublings during the time of Ancient Egypt (over 5,000 years with almost 30 centuries as the leading civilization).

The takeaway is that every living organism, even us recently evolved homo sapiens, have had far more than enough time to double in population 100 times, and overrun the earth as a result.

Rule 3: Every living organism has had more than ample time for 100 doublings, and is normally population constrained by the limitations of a finite environment.

Every organism on Earth has had far more than sufficient time for 100 doublings of it population, but no organism has reached the incredible population number that would result if they kept doubling unconstrained.

Since, in a small time relative to how long species survive, exponential population growth can exceed the limits of the size of our finite environment on Earth, for almost the entire existence of any species, the population of the species will be at the limit possible given environmental constraints.

This means every organism has normally reached constraints that limit further population growth.

Rule 4: Excepting for shortly after catastrophes or major disruptions, every environmental niche is fully populated.

The times an organism would experience unconstrained or less constrained population growth are:

  • When a species first evolves, first reaches a new suitable environment, or evolves new traits overcoming prior constraints.
  • Following a major catastrophe or disruption that reduced the population below previous levels.
  • In the event of changes to the environment that alter constraints such as weather or climate events, or disruption of predators or competitors for resources.

As all similar environments are not necessarily connected, an organism can be new to an environment despite having existed for some time in similar environments.

When population changes are observed other a for a new species or species new to the environment, or following catastrophes or other major disruptions, the population change is as a result of changes to the constraints.

Changes to population constraints can be short term, such as weather events, long term such as ice ages and long term climate events, or the result of evolution as observed by Darwin, or evolution of technology such as stone tools, or farming.

Rule 5: Population growth of any species, requires environmental change or evolution enabling the ‘invasion’ of environment previously populated by of other species.

If every environment is fully populated, then the only way to increase population is to outcompete other species, or for the environment to expand.

Outcompeting other species requires some form of evolution, either of genetics or behaviours.

The first land plants and animals appeared about 400 million years ago, when land first became inhabitable due to the atmosphere finally having enough oxygen to block harmful radiation and provide for respiration.

Since that time, the land joined the oceans in seeing a succession of life has replaced previous forms of life, with each species that dominated a niche reaching, and then remaining at the capacity of that niche, before eventually being replaced by an improved species.

Rule 6: Continued Population growth is only possible through continued reduction in populations of other species.

The logical consequent of these rules is that growth beyond original constraints can only continue while a species can continue to partially or fully substitute for other species within their environmental niches.

Rule 7: Every species must find population stability at some point while limited to one finite planet.

Continuing to replace other species has a limit. Eventually there would be only one species.

Some species are automatically resource constrained from overpopulation. I suspect this applies to all plants, as a major resource, sunlight, cannot be ‘overconsumed’. However even a population of butterflies can reach a population level where their caterpillars consume all food in their environment, and as their food needs time to grow, this would leave no food for the next generation.

All organisms need to ensure they live sustainably, and for any organism that relies on existence of sufficient numbers of other organisms for food or coexistence, this means some mechanism to ensure they do not out compete the very organisms they rely upon.

What about humans? Are We exempt from these rules?

Human Population Growth, is it still in unconstrained growth?

It could appear that human population is still growing long after we should have reached our constraints.

With the pat t of humans can appear to have broken these rules. The theory says we humans should have reached a stable population close to 300,000 years ago, at which point population growth would stop unless humans continued to evolved to become ‘fitter’ for existing or new environments.

Yet human population growth still continues as was doubling every generation as recently as between in 1965-1972, and doubling every 50 years for half of the 20th century.

This would seem to suggest humans have never reached their limit, and our population is still growing unconstrained.

But further exploration reveals this recent growth follows pervious periods of population constraints. Homo Sapiens have existed for at least 300,000 years, which is sufficient for 6,000 doublings of population, yet if there were only 2 people 300,000 years ago, the population growth to 8 people billion now represents just 32 doublings in over 300,000 years. That would be a doubling at an average rate of less than once every 9,000 years.

To take 9,000 years to double the population requires an annual growth rate of around 0.008%. A rate so close to zero growth, that is far more likely the growth has mostly effectively zero, with occasional periods of real growth.

This means, most of the time, even the human population has had zero growth as been at a constrained level. But then, sometimes even populations that have reached a previous plateaux, experience additional growth.

In fact, looking at the history of human population growth, as far back as back as we have any data, we have never before seen population growth anywhere near the level that was seen in the 20th century.

But even excluding the recent population explosion, human population growth has extended far longer than the rules suggest, unless their has been an expansion of the environment, or evolution in some form.

Alternating Times of Stability and Times of Population Growth Through Technical Evolution.

Instead of a recent series of steps of biological evolution, humans have experienced technical evolution.

A list of some notable steps includes:

Note that even during periods of population stability, from 10,000BCE to 5,000BCE and from 200 BCE to 1600AD, there was still some population growth as humans managed to colonise more locations.

Ignorant Displacement: As Population Grows, The Displaced Go Unnoticed.

Our current society has evolved the technology to be ‘the fittest’ in almost any niches, that we can maintain a higher human population than ever before. We can also, per unit land, maintain a higher population of crops and livestock to feed us than ever before.

The downside is a history of not even seeing organisms displaced population increases are introduced.

In fact, historically even other humans displaced by humans have been repeatedly overlooked and/or underestimated. Despite that experts now believe between 10 and 16 million people lived above the Rio Grande in North America prior to Europeans arriving:

Few contemporaries agreed with Catlin’s lofty estimate [16 million] of the Indian population before contact with the white man. “Twaddle about imaginary millions,” scoffed one Smithsonian expert, reflecting the prevailing view that Indians were too incompetent to have ever reached large numbers. Alexis de Tocqueville’s cheery assertion that America before Columbus was an “empty continent… awaiting its inhabitants” was endorsed by no less than the U.S. Census Bureau, which in 1894 warned against accepting Indian “legends” as facts. “Investigation shows,” the bureau said, “that the aboriginal population within the present United States at the beginning of the Columbian period could not have exceeded much over 500,000.”

How Many People Were Here Before Columbus?

Even if there were only 500,000 people before Columbus, the nature of exponential population growth tell us, that as people had been in North America for around 30,000 years, the continent would have been populated up to the level of environmental constraints. Any land mass with even 3,000 years occupation will reach the maximum population possible for that society. Yet to people from Europe, America was ‘an empty continent’. Not only did the new arrivals not understand or see that the continent would be fully populated with the current population, they even failed to recognise the size of that population.

The new arrivals failed to recognise that this ‘new world’ continent was fully populated, and that their arrival must displace those living there already. In the 30,000 years since people first arrived in America, culture in free trading European/Middle Eastern/Asian society had managed to evolve 1,000 or perhaps even 2,000 years further in terms of dominating more of the environment, increasing population density and as a result displacing other organisms. The population of many species would need to decline in order to accommodate the influence of European/Middle Eastern/Asian evolution of society.

The spread to new territory and the impact on life before that spread highlights the changes humans had over time to the environment of Europe/Middle East/Asia, displacing other species as advances made humans the most ‘fit’ for ever more niches within the environment.

Delusions Shattered And Questions Raised.

Overview.

Calculating these numbers, has shattered some illusions I had previously been misled by, but has also raised some interesting questions still to be answered.

  • Shattered Delusions:
    • Both North America and Australia were fully populated prior to the arrival of Europeans.
    • I had thought population levels have been growing because the Earth had never been populated to capacity.
      • The reality is, Earth has been populated to capacity for the hundreds of thousands of years. Population increases result from changes to society that allow humans and their food to displace other species of life on Earth.
      • The question that arises is, has the recent unprecedented population explosion stayed within the bounds of the population now supported by our changed society, or has the change to infant mortality created an ‘overshoot’ resulting in overpopulation and the environmental damage that follows.
  • Questions:
    • As already covered, has the population explosion resulted in overshoot?
    • What does natural population constraint look like?

What is the process constraining natural population?

Consider our close relatives in the wild, chimpanzees, bonobos and even gorillas. To our knowledge, none of these animals was experiencing significant population growth prior to recent population decline due to habit loss. What stopped their population expanding, given that, like all species, their birth rates can achieve population growth where the population is lower than the constraint limit? There seems no evidence that starvation is the mechanism of population control, as we do not see a percentage of chimpanzees, bonobos or gorillas starving. If starvation was the mechanism of population control it would be everywhere throughout nature.

This topic to be further explored.

Conclusion: If it isn’t already, one day the ‘farm’ will be overcrowded.

Long before the first human walked the Earth, there was already ‘no vacancy’. For humanity to even exist, we had to outcompete and displace other living things. But is it our mission to replace every living thing possible until it is just us and the food we farm?

If our mission is to perpetually deliver economic growth as opposed to wealth per person, then yes, continual population growth is the simplest path to that mission.

However it may be that at some point, it feels like humanity is being ‘farmed’ to generate wealth for a small subset of people, at some point our farm will start to feel crowded to the point of existing like battery hens, rather than having our free range.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: