One Finite Planet: Disruptions bringing dawn of a new age.
“Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.”Attributed to Kenneth Boulding in: United States. Congress. House (1973)
When something is finite, eventually every path or cycle reaches an endpoint, and then a change of direction is required.
Until the 20th century which led to arrival of the Anthropocene, the Earth seemed infinite to most humans. Now many the endpoints to many paths that previously seemed practically endless, have become real and any imminent. As these endpoints come into focus the result will trigger unpreceded disruption, with the potential to deliver humanity to a new age.
Consider the changes of the past 30 years: The introduction of the internet, mobile phones, smart devices and social media have changed our lives in ways that may have seemed hard to imagine at the outset, but those 30 years were relative stability in comparison with the level of change over the next 30 years.
Firstly, the technology that brought the internet is now bringing artificial intelligence or AI, that will have the same level of impact as the entire industrial revolution so far but compressed within a much shorter time period.
Secondly, during there 30 years there is a planned transition to “net zero” to respond to climate change, and that transitions will be happening at the same time the world is dealing with having passed +1.5c above preindustrial levels, and as a result dealing with even more extreme weather events, plus having reached the Anthropocene, there are a number of other environmental issues to be tackled.
Thirdly, the world has passed “peak child” and despite much resistance from the rich and powerful, will soon reach peak population which will force an economic revolution and “population wars” as in the current economic system where most of those with the greatest wealth and power depend for their prosperity on population growth.
Fourthly, the change in the dissemination of information has now reached a point where not only printed word, but visual images and even video, can no longer be trusted to represent reality, which has a profound impact on how people are influenced, which is the source of all wealth and power.
Every one of these sources of change present both enormous risks and enormous opportunities.
The website provides in depth analysis of the factors driving change.
Sustainability++: Here for a good time and a longer time.
On a finite planet, sustainability alone is like treading water to delay drowning: It only provides a solution for a limited time and is not much fun.
The “Sustainability++” wording is paying homage to the use of “++” in technology, as technology is key to achieving the two extra steps beyond sustainability, with the risk of imminent catastrophe but the reward of buying far more time and being able to enjoy that time.
The first + is to go beyond the world of the righteous environmentalists where survival requires a life ever increasing austerity and sacrifices to a world that continually improves living conditions for all. Not smaller homes, less energy generation, less freedom to drive or travel, but the right energy generation, driving or transport. While the sustainability axiomatically means ending the quest for perpetual growth, it does not require austerity, just getting things right. We can be here for a good time!
The second + is the mission to extend the time of this one finite planet that was already dying before humans evolved can exist. Yes, humanities greatest achievement resulted in a population explosion that has left us borrowing against the future to support our current population, and potentially destroying the environment even ahead of natures schedule, but this second + requires continual leveraging the “society evolution” that sets humans apart from previous species. We can be here for a longer time.
Sustainability++ is addressing not only sustainability, but also the two problems that can arise if only focusing on sustainability alone: the lack focus on maintaining or even improving quality of life, and ignorance of the longer-term problem of a dying planet.
The number one problem of sustainability alone, is the omission of discussion on optimising living conditions for humans.
Just because chickens can live sustainably at high population density by living in cages, that does not mean chickens should live in such high population densities because that helps the economy.
It is widely acknowledged that the largest chicken population is not desirable when that population means a lower quality of life for the chickens, even that would mean a better quality of life for those running the chicken farm.
Yes, with humans, those “running the farm” and who will profit from increased population, are not criticised for pushing perpetual growth of the human population.
There is a path to sustainability that simply limits the resources available to each human but with a loss of focus on a ‘a good time’ and the best possible quality of life.
Just sustainability alone allows mandatory austerity as a solution. Should all humans be required live either crowded complexes or in Tiny Houses, and utilise only public transport plus perhaps micromobility?
Sometimes sustainability is advocated as a measure to deal with ever increasing population. Humanity is already at peak child, and we do not need to plan for an ever growing future population as long those seeking perpetual growth do not manage to get their way, as the Pursuit of sustainably and perpetual population growth is a zero-sum game, as the reductions in footprint also must try to continue in perpetuity.
Or could, with the right approach to sustainability, and balancing the total economy against what is best for typical individuals, it be possible to retain having personal space and our homes and private cars? Zero emission housing and transport is possible.
Returning to population growth is not only against the current natural trend, it also means limiting access to nature and simple natural wonders like uncrowded beaches, justified in order to facilitate a continually growing population of humans on a planet where the sum total of all life is decreasing? Why? For sustainability, or for the economy?
Yes, the maximum economy would be realised when all life one Earth is considered part of ‘the economy’ and is either humans or their pets or has a role in producing their food. But is that really the goal, or should we focus on happiness?
In the end, such a goal is not even sustainable, and even that growth cannot continue on a planet where ‘peak life‘ was 500 million years in the past.
Population can’t grow forever, so why continue forever? Why grow population to the level where there must be erosion of living standards for all but only the very small elite, who could still live in large mansions and have super yachts even on an overcrowded planet? Because they are the ones in charge instead of us “chickens”?
Problem two with sustainability alone, is this falsely and dangerously puts humans in the role of the villain, when the real story is more complex. We live on a dying planet, and the only path to solve that problem is for humans to be the heroes.
Thinking in terms of sustainability alone ignores the reality that life on this planet ends naturally at some point. As the Sun continues to evolve, in the future far less distant than most of us realise, less and less life will remain viable, and while extremophiles will be able to hold out in tiny niches for hundreds of millions of years, complex and fragile species like koalas, pandas and humans have far less available time, and the quality of life in the time available will being to decline well before the end.
Why this site exists, what is the motive behind this research driven content?
Core motive: Research.
This is an analysis website. Not a news website, nor a blog or website created to push a certain point of view. The views are open, and topic are explored with analysis and understanding being the goals.
As opposed to news sites or blogs, the main pages are “webpapers” which are continually updated as new information arrives.
The motive is the research itself. To find answers. There is no advertising revenue or sponsorship. There is no goal of recruiting people to a cause, as everything is approached with open mind to new data. The goal is as much to gain feedback from others as convince them, and comments from dissenting opinions are welcomed as there is always more to learn.
Financial motive: None, a non-profit, zero-revenue site.
If readership keeps growing as it has been, suggesting that more resources are justified, a subscription scheme may be added, but there would still be no profits and if this does occur, any subscription would be both optional and minimal, ensuring no possible influence on content. There is currently one primary author and two main consultants.
Navigating The One finite planet website.
Topics, subtopics and explorations as puzzle pieces of a big picture.
Most explorations or ‘exploratory papers’ lead to other related explorations, that become grouped into one or more subtopics and broader overall topics. The topics and subtopic dropdown allows viewing content for the relevant topic.
The content on this site is divided into ‘webpapers‘ and ‘news’ or new/seed pages.
‘News pages’ simply have a “Date Published” and are the pages most similar to most other content on the web, as observations made around the time topics make the news. These pages are written because it is possible the subject may be worth a much deeper look at a future date: “seed” for a potential webpaper following further exploration. Sometimes these pages later do evolve into a webpaper as more information is gathered information and added over the course of time and if that new information becomes significant.
Webpapers have a date commenced, and typically a ‘latest update’ link reveals a list recent major updates with a brief summary of what was updated and when. If one of these pages is of interest, it can be worth periodic checks to follow future updates, as these pages can continue to evolve over many years.
Webpapers are on subjects that have had a deeper look. People have asked: ” why not videos?” and one reason is that continually updating videos tends to result in mess.
Each major topic now has content that allows conclusion I have not seen explained elsewhere.
Navigating and finding content on this site.
A search bar features on most pages, which helps finding content based on presence of one or more keywords, such as “hydrogen” or “BYD”.
The “Topic and Subtopics” drop-down will generate topic index page with some with a key page on that topic, and then key information about parent topics and subtopics, together with a list of pages or “webpapers” on that topic, listed in order of the most recent update.
Every individual “webpaper” has a list of updates, which can be viewed by clicking “update” link at the top of the page. Each page header provides a link to an update history, plus has a note on the most recent update will usually contain a link to the most recently updated content.
The site Title: One finite planet.
Because we all, keep forgetting we exist on one finite planet.
Our planet is finite. There is a finite surface, finite life, and even finite time.
Just 10,000 years is sufficient time for any species to completely ‘carpet’ the planet’s finite surface. Not only is the total amount of life supported by the planet finite, that finite amount of life is now less than half what it once was. The finite time the Earth can naturally remain able to sustain complex mammals like us humans, could be as little another 25 million years.
For the early years of my own life, I assumed that the human population could just grow indefinitely. In fact, I assumed we must be living on a young planet where all life was still expanding to fill this vast planet.
It is not just economists who seem to forget exponential growth cannot continue forever.
One, because given it took 4 billion years before life could exist on the surface of this planet, although it will clear take a long time, with only 25 million years remaining for life here, finding another is essential.
Finite, because no matter how obvious it is the planet is finite, our planet is large enough for us to mistakenly overlook that the planet being finite impacts everything, from the environment to the economy.
For me, the combination defines our existence, presents us with a challenge, and a mission to solve that challenge. The definition of sustainability
If humans were already living on an infinite number of planets, then it would not matter that every individual planet was finite, because overall we would have an infinite environment. Reality is, we are at the very least centuries from even one true second planet, with the clock ticking on how long we can survive on this planet.
It took until around the 1700s for many to know the finite surface, and until the 20th century for many to consider implications of finite resources and think sustainability. One finite planet is about the next step: recognising that time is also finite and, even provided humanity does nothing to end things prematurely, there is as little as 2% of the time Earth can support now remaining. Sustainability alone, is a death sentence.
The tagline: Sustainability++ Here for a good time and a longer time.
There is the line which even became song: “Here for a good time, not a long time“, which suggests you can’t have both. Some approaches to sustainability seem to also believe it is not possible to have both, and thus adopt an approach of austerity.
Population: Topic zero, that launched this site.
The first topic I researched for this site was population, and it is topic of both great concern as overpopulation may yet result in demise of civilisation, and great achievement, as arguably humanities greatest achievement has been the near elimination of infant mortality.
Our ancestors prior to the 1700s had to suffer the loss of 2 of every 3 children. Life expectancy almost doubled during the 20th century alone, even though at record levels, not because ‘old age’ became twice the age it was previously, but because almost twice as many people survived through childhood and then had the chance to reach old age.
Yet the population explosion resulting from nearly 3 of every 3 children living to have their own children, in place of 1 of every 3, resulted in population explosion that many predicted would result in famine and devastation. Yet it wasn’t, humanity managed to increased food production sufficiently to handle a period of population surge, and birth rates have fallen to the level that returns humanity to historically normal rates of population growth.
When I was a child mind peak population explosion, it seemed it seemed everyone accepted continual population growth as normal and something that could continue forever, at least until they did the math. Perpetual rapid population growth had been like a belief beyond question, almost following from the ‘go forth and multiply’ from religious text, and I had grown up assuming that all life on Earth was constantly increasing in population. Doing the maths, the first reaction was to panic about exponential population growth being near its limit.
Then, it dawned on me that, given we now know the earth is far, far, older than assumed when the biblical texts were created, and long in the past the Earth would have reached its limit if even very slow population growth was sustained over even tens of thousands of years. That finally a triggered a series of light bulb moments of realisations of what I had previously been missing.
In the end, the final picture I have arrived at, is that evolution has resulted in species that can survive for millions of years on a finite planet, and as most species would devastate their own environment within even 5,000 years of unregulated population growth, the fittest species regulate population growth.
Most of our current challenges, from environment, through to how we should live, and how to live together, face huge challenges as a result of the fact that our planet, which for early man seemed infinite, is now noticeably finite.
All of the topics on this site, have a connection with the understanding that we exist on one finite planet. For science topic, the relationship is sort of inverse, as this topic focuses on either basic research for other topics, or explorations of other basic research.
The topics and subtopics of the one finite planet site.
What should the global population be? Should we have more people? Or less? How many?
It turns out the answer depends on how much your wealth, or share of the planets resources, exceeds that of the average person.
Less people would increase the wealth of the average person, but more wealth would creates more for those with the greatest wealth and power. This is why wars are all about bringing more people and their lands into empires.
As already explained, as a child of the population explosion of the 20th century, my first fear was this explosion could not continue on a finite planet.
Economics and Consequences. (housing, solutions)
What steps are required to deal with impacts of the either rise or falls in population.
Much of our economic systems was designed in the population explosion, with a focus on leveraging the explosion to create wealth for a rich and powerful minority. The biggest challenge faced by economics today, is how to evolve the system for a ‘post population explosion’ world. Fortunes will be won on lost depending on who gets its right.
Principles: The pursuit of abundance.
What determines population, and what population is ideal?
Too few people and life lack the richness of culture, invention, progress and the opportunity of their being countless new people to meet.
Too many people and yes, we do all need to live in tiny houses in towering potential slums with less and less resources per person. With enough people even EVs don’t allows the freedom to still have or even eventually our own homes.
Sustainability. (Sustainable vs Finite.)
To early man, our planet appeared infinite.
We now understand that every species has an environmental footprint, as we evolved technology and numbers such that our footprint is noticeable, we eventually learnt a new concept: sustainability.
While the usage of the term sustainable for long term use of a natural resource dates back to Hans Carl von Carlowitz in 1713, it was not something most people were considering, even after 10 centuries of human civilization.
It was in the 1970s, at the height of the population explosion, when Green political parties first emerged that it became clear that sustainability became a key issue for a significant number of people.Sustainability in One Finite Environment: History.
The topic of environment covers:
- understanding the environment.
- humans existing without destroying the environment.
- the environment existing without destroying us humans.
Is climate change merely inconvenient, or is it an existential Threat?
It is hard to ignore Covid-19, from when I first suggested it was going to be a wild ride in January 2020.
Clearly the environment is linked to population, and Covid-19 is part of that environment
This section is currently empty, as no threats beyond Covid-19 and climate change are currently being closely analysed.
How does climate work?
Throughout history, there has been power plays to convince a large population of people to act in a certain manner. There have always been leaders who sought to expand the population they influence in order to increase their power and wealth.
The ability to influence people has now become arguably the largest industry the world has seen, and logic dictates one of the key goals of influencing people is to build empires by encouraging increased population.
Leaders, Followers and Propaganda. (Power)
There is a continuum between leaders who serve the people, and leaders who seek power so the people can server them.
- Fragile Democracy.
- WWIII – Russia? China?
- US 2020 Election
Othering, Tribalism, Terrorism and Religion.
As populations grow, divisions emerge. This topic focuses on the emergence as populations grow.
Wealth and Power: Farming humanity.
This focuses on the link between the influence of wealth, and the implications on a finite planet.
Tools, Toys and Superpowers: Humans are the species with accessories.
It turns out that through tools, humans can evolve even without updating our genes, by instead, updating our accessories. This evolution has enabled humans to dominate this finite planet and may eventually enable expansion beyond one finite planet.
Do our ‘tools’ give us superpowers as individuals?
EVs represent a crossroads between “righteous environmentalists” who say people don’t need cars, but if they must have cars, they should be the smallest possible cars, the viewpoint of this site, which is that people get pleasure from cars, and the goal is both the cars (or even pick-ups) people want and sustainability. Do people still all need the smallest possible boring microcar when cars don’t have emissions?
The impact of peak population is that humans need to reduce their environmental impact, which means ending the use of fossil fuels, even if it means significantly disrupting two globally significant industries: the oil, gas and coal, and the automotive industry.
- Living with EVs
- EV & Renewables: The realities behind the problems. ( answering the questions)
Robots (coming soon).
The industrial revolution was seen as a threat to employment. But instead, it was mostly a boost to productivity, as it meant each individual could do so much more. Increasingly the manual strength became the role of machines, and the skill became intelligence. This, combined with reduced infant mortality lowering the desired number of births, liberated women, who were always on par with males for intelligence, but not, on average for physical strength.
However, robotics and AI could now means those long-held fears and dreams of automation fully replacing employment may become far more real.
Bags & Miscellaneous: Other Tools, Gadgets, Enhancements, and Reviews.
Bags (coming soon).
Science is all about the ground rules of the universe.
Finite Planet and beyond.
What are our boundaries?
Society: Distribution of finite wealth and resources.
- Wealth Distribution & Inequality
- Future of Work and Basic Income.
- (and free trade)
Pure Science and Perception.
The basics, sometimes because someone asked, others times, because I asked.
Includes perception, and is the universe we perceive the real picture?
What can we build with our knowledge gained through science?
Finite World: When the world of humanity progressed to ‘finite’.
To the first people on Earth, it must have seemed that no resource was finite, virtually nothing had any known limit. It is not that people believing things infinite, it is that numbers seemed unknowable, and undetermined seemed equivalent to without limits.
There were always new lands to be discovered, hunting animals did not noticeably impact their population, nor did gathering fruit and vegetables make an impact. Fishing did not noticeably impact fish populations.
Most things remained finite until around 1650 CE. At that time no individual even knew of all the continents on Earth making even the amount of land seem unlimited. Sustainable was not a concept people needed to contemplate, as it seemed every thing humans did was inherently sustainable.
Fast forward to the 21st century and there has been a population explosion dramatically increasing the number of humans, and an industrial revolution increasing the impact individuals have on the planet. Now, most people see ‘sustainable’ as essential, but in surprisingly many ways, there are still people who do not, deep down accept the Earth is finite, and sustainability is essential.
- 2023 March 3 rd: Updated ‘philosophy‘ section.
- 2017 December 31: First Published.