Surprises

These are some of the things I have found while building these pages that I found surprising. Perhaps you will too.

  1. Global Birth Rates have dropped from over 5 children per women global average in the 1970s to around 2.2 by 2020. These rates will allow a sustainable population once the population pipeline lag expires.
  2. The end is nearer than most realise. In approximately 25 million years, the ever increasing heat from the Sun will put an end to life on Earth
  3. It is only during the most recent 10% of the time, that the Earth has been able to support life as we know it.
  4. While sustainability is a clear issue today, until recently, to humans, this planet was effectively an infinite environment

Summaries of each of these surprises can be found here.

Global Birth Rates No Longer Drive Out of Control Population Growth.

I started with the premise that spiralling population growth playing a significant role in many problems the world is facing, and it took time to learn that while our population level is already high, a huge shift has taken place and we are now heading towards population stability. That shift is a key part of the concept of ‘finite world’.

One of my first topics was to examine how population growth is spiralling out of control and .

Until recently, to humans, this planet was effectively an infinite environment

Throughout almost the entire history of humanity (from the stone age through until the 20th century) humans lived on a world that appeared effectively infinite.   New land to explore, new minerals to discover, and, at the world level, a natural environment that absorbed all.

But humanity has now expanded in territory and population, to the point where we see the world as finite.  We even have ‘google maps’ (and others) of the entire earth surface.

In terms of a human lifetime, reaching the point of finite world has been gradual and thus it becomes easy to miss the impact.

Finite Planet.

As listed on the contents page, the following are explored in depth in these pages:

  • When did the world become finite?
  • Environment Consequences of a Finite World
  • Has population growth really slowed and what is the impact?
  • How does technology impact the finite world?
  • How long before space exploration gives us a new frontier

It is only during the most recent 10% of the time, that the Earth has been able to support life as we know it.

I knew that there was originally no oxygen to breath. Also, it seems prior to the formation of the Ozone layer, complex life on the surface would suffer damage. The surprise was that for the first 90% of the time the earth has existed, no complex life was able to live on any land surface.

In approximately 25 million years, the ever increasing heat from the Sun will put an end to life on Earth

It turns out, since the Earth was formed, the sun has been continuously turning up the heat that reaches the earth, and only the continuously decreasing greenhouse effect of the atmosphere has kept temperatures relatively constants. But the ability to keep reducing the greenhouse effect is coming to an end!

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