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Human ‘behavioural crisis’ at root of climate breakdown, say scientists

Valjean

Veteran Member
Premium Member
Whoa, that THAT'S what I've needed here --THANKS!

OK, so here's a standard description of "ecological overshoot":
View attachment 88717
--and you said...

Frankly, I'd have a hard time seeing any global measurement of potable water and topsoil availability, much less being able to scientifically show how any shortage was caused by man made CO2. What I would believe is that leaders of a given political partisan faction could drum up a big following that could perceive some kind of crisis, but observable hard measurements would be a whole different ball game.
Resource depletion, pollution, and climate change are interrelated but separate issues. Each is a human-caused problem, but the human activities contributing to each differ.
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
Resource depletion, pollution, and climate change are interrelated but separate issues. Each is a human-caused problem, but the human activities contributing to each differ.
--and they're all serious issues along w/ the threat of a nearby super nova, an explosion of a mega volcano, a new plague, a massive asteroid hitting the Earth, a rogue nation nuking a neighbor... The list goes on and meanwhile humanity prospers by living their lives and minding their own business.

What's missing w/ the doom'n'gloom threats is hard evidence of quantifiable risk.
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
I've come to believe that requests for citations is a really thorny issue. It doesn't matter to me whether it concerns the environment or politics or religion or whatever.

Sad to say, I've come to believe that a lot of posters on RF are here only to "win" debates. And they're happy to debate in bad faith in order to "win". A very common tactic in this regard is a constant demand for citations. I've seen this approach derail and obfuscate otherwise useful debates. As I'm sure you know, there's even a name for this tactic when taken to extremes, it's called sea-lioning.

Now as I recall, you and I haven't interacted very much. So I can hope that you're debating in good faith :)
Many here love to debate, my preference is to search for the truth. I don't really care if I'm able to refute someone else's arguments here, I just want to know what's happening in the world.
Another point on this topic is that I think Carl Sagan had good advice when he said "Extraordinary claims require extraordinarily good evidence.". From that perspective, I've frequently found that the poster who asks for citations is actually the one making an extraordinary claim (either implicitly or explicitly). So in this case, since I've been concerned about the environment for 40 years now, I find your (implicit?), claim that we have nothing to worry about when it comes to the environment is actually the extraordinary claim, and that my claims are the common knowledge, ordinary claims. :)

Next, there is a way in which demanding citations is quite arrogant. It implies that the demander is somehow the arbiter of what's common knowledge and what isn't. My personal approach is to rarely ask for citations. If I'm ignorant on a topic, I usually spend a few minutes with my favorite search engine. Typically, I ask for citations only when I feel pretty well grounded in a topic and I hear something that doesn't agree with what I think I know.

IMO, most people haven't thought much about "topsoil depletion" or "aquifer depletion". That doesn't matter, I think any honest person would admit that they are ignorant on most of the world's topics, and who cares.

But in this case, you decided to wander into this thread, no one pulled you here. So I'd say, if you're ignorant about topsoil depletion,
What you said was that...
...in the last 200 years, most of the US's topsoil is gone...
--and so far you have not shared any observations that the statement could be based on. So what I know is that you believe this and you don't show why you believe it. I can live w/ that. fwiw, something else I live w/ in my other work is the fact that total U.S. farm acreage quadrupled from 1850 to 1930 and has held steady since:
farmingus.PNG

--and the 2nd graph shows how over the past 75 years ag. output has tripled while the U.S. population has only doubled. The difference is that exports are greater. This increase has come w/ a lower cost:
foodhist.png

--but that's what I've been thinking and I share fwiw even though in all honesty I'll doubt that you wanted my input.
...Long story short, I think you're the one making an extraordinary claim, and I've already given you a search phrase that I took the time to test. That's all you're going to get from me.
What is important in this convo is what you have been saying and I was interested in how you came to your topsoil conclusions --and I do thank you for your input!
 

Valjean

Veteran Member
Premium Member
--and they're all serious issues along w/ the threat of a nearby super nova, an explosion of a mega volcano, a new plague, a massive asteroid hitting the Earth, a rogue nation nuking a neighbor... The list goes on and meanwhile humanity prospers by living their lives and minding their own business.

What's missing w/ the doom'n'gloom threats is hard evidence of quantifiable risk.
Novæ, volcanoes, asteroids, &c are out of our control.
The immediate threats facing us are those I mentioned above, which are of our own making. Any solutions will have to be ours, as well.

Humanity currently prospers by profligate -- and unsustainable -- utilization of 'resources'.

The aforementioned aquifers, topsoil, &c. are being depleted rapidly. Trash and chemical pollution is out of hand. Forests and marine phytoplankton that maintain atmospheric oxygen levels are being depleted/poisoned. Mining and manufacturing are poisoning rivers, groundwater and aquifers.
The biodiversity that maintains the planet's salubrious biosphere is decreasing at a historic rate.

These threats are real. They're "quantifiable risks," and they're not going to be ameliorated by "minding our own business". They are the result of minding our own business.
 
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Valjean

Veteran Member
Premium Member
Many here love to debate, my preference is to search for the truth. I don't really care if I'm able to refute someone else's arguments here, I just want to know what's happening in the world.
And those happenings are here reported by RF posters all over the world. They can both be and direct your search.
What you said was that...

--and so far you have not shared any observations that the statement could be based on. So what I know is that you believe this and you don't show why you believe it. I can live w/ that. fwiw, something else I live w/ in my other work is the fact that total U.S. farm acreage quadrupled from 1850 to 1930 and has held steady since:
I thought topsoil depletion was common knowledge. It's been reported in newspapers and magazines all over the world, for decades.
Where do you get your news of your world?
I just Googled "topsoil depletion." These popped up:
Not only is topsoil being depleted, but crops now require large amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, &c. These poison the ecosystem.

Yes, family farms are disappearing, being replaced by corporate mega farms. That's common knowledge as well.
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
And those happenings are here reported by RF posters all over the world. They can both be and direct your search.

I thought topsoil depletion was common knowledge. It's been reported in newspapers and magazines all over the world, for decades.
Where do you get your news of your world?
lol!!! "Common knowledge" is an oxymoron --a self contradiction-- a lot like "common sense", or common law marriage". Sure we get the word "common" but a lot of folks would argue that those things are far from common.

My experience is that newspapers and magazines show us what the reporters dig up, but I prefer to do my own digging. My thinking is that if a reporter says one thing, and the USDA and the FED says something else, I'll ditch the reporter.
I just Googled "topsoil depletion." These popped up:
Not only is topsoil being depleted, but crops now require large amounts of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, &c. These poison the ecosystem.

Yes, family farms are disappearing, being replaced by corporate mega farms. That's common knowledge as well.
So what we got is that the Smithsonian and the U.N. is saying we're losing out topsoil, and the USDA and the Fed say we got the same acreage producing more food at lower prices. If that's topsoil loss then I'll have another helping.
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
Novæ, volcanoes, asteroids, &c are out of our control.
The immediate threats facing us are those I mentioned above, which are of our own making. Any solutions will have to be ours, as well...
--and many say that we need to prepare. OK, so we can agree that most of that doom'n'gloom is simply not worth our concern.
...Humanity prospers by profligate utilization of 'resources'...
Are you aware that most of the new wealth is information? Let's agree that most wealth creation does not consume natural resources. Sure, there's still some new wealth that uses natural resources are are we in fact using them up? Those resources are becoming less scarce not more. Prices are falling.
 

Valjean

Veteran Member
Premium Member
lol!!! "Common knowledge" is an oxymoron --a self contradiction-- a lot like "common sense", or common law marriage". Sure we get the word "common" but a lot of folks would argue that those things are far from common.

My experience is that newspapers and magazines show us what the reporters dig up, but I prefer to do my own digging. My thinking is that if a reporter says one thing, and the USDA and the FED says something else, I'll ditch the reporter.

So what we got is that the Smithsonian and the U.N. is saying we're losing out topsoil, and the USDA and the Fed say we got the same acreage producing more food at lower prices. If that's topsoil loss then I'll have another helping.
The bounty is at the expense of the environment. It's the product of destructive chemical engineering. The actual soil is depleted. The surrounding areas are toxic.
 

Valjean

Veteran Member
Premium Member
--and many say that we need to prepare. OK, so we can agree that most of that doom'n'gloom is simply not worth our concern.
???? -- The doom'n'gloom is warranted. We're destroying our life-support system.
How are we to prepare?

Are you aware that most of the new wealth is information? Let's agree that most wealth creation does not consume natural resources. Sure, there's still some new wealth that uses natural resources are are we in fact using them up? Those resources are becoming less scarce not more. Prices are falling.
"Wealth" may be generated in stock trading and advertising algorithms, but the planet's -- your -- life support system is still natural.
How are soil, water, copper, lithium, and forests becoming less scarce? How is acquiring them becoming less damaging and polluting?
 

icehorse

......unaffiliated...... anti-dogmatist
Premium Member
I can live w/ that. fwiw, something else I live w/ in my other work is the fact that total U.S. farm acreage quadrupled from 1850 to 1930 and has held steady since:
I appreciate your good faith reply.

So how does the 1850-1930 growth data factor into topsoil depletion? I didn't know the details you provided about total farmland but I probably would have guessed something like that. In that period the West was still becoming populated with non-indigenous people and then around 1930 or so, we ran out of new land to farm. Makes sense.

--and the 2nd graph shows how over the past 75 years ag. output has tripled while the U.S. population has only doubled. The difference is that exports are greater. This increase has come w/ a lower cost
Again, that makes sense. Various technologies have made farming more productive. But the way we're farming now is simply not sustainable. There are a few bright spots we can look to, but we need to do far more. For example, stepping away from mono-culture farming helps topsoil. No till farming also helps the topsoil and is being used more and more.

-but that's what I've been thinking and I share fwiw even though in all honesty I'll doubt that you wanted my input.
Sorry to have left you with that impression! I appreciate what you're saying and the graphs you posted.

What is important in this convo is what you have been saying and I was interested in how you came to your topsoil conclusions --and I do thank you for your input!

My last post might have been confusing, my bad. I'm fine to continue the discussion, you're bringing useful ideas. It's just that I might deny requests for citations now and then :)

==

So my summary of your post is that it's useful data, but it doesn't really speak to topsoil depletion near as I can tell.
 

icehorse

......unaffiliated...... anti-dogmatist
Premium Member
So what we got is that the Smithsonian and the U.N. is saying we're losing out topsoil, and the USDA and the Fed say we got the same acreage producing more food at lower prices. If that's topsoil loss then I'll have another helping.
Hmmm.

First off, your dismissal of the links provided is yet another reason I often deny requests for citations.

That said, these farming productivity gains are real, but they are temporary. When the topsoil is gone, the party will be over.
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
The bounty is at the expense of the environment. It's the product of destructive chemical engineering. The actual soil is depleted. The surrounding areas are toxic.
--and that's so easy to say and repeat as the mood strikes. Verifying the allegation w/ clear observations is a different matter altogether.

Right now the situation is one where our farming community has been using the same acreage for a hundred years while increasing production at lower prices. Simply repeating over and again the same old mantra about our somehow loosing topsoil will convince none beyond a tiny minority of true believers.

It doesn't matter. Even if we magically outlawed all food production and we switched to eating air, our not caring about observations means that the true believers would still be able to say we're depleting the topsoil.
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
???? -- The doom'n'gloom is warranted. We're destroying our life-support system.
How are we to prepare?
Maybe we're somehow not together here. The above had to do w/ your lack of concern over space rocks, super volcanoes, plagues, and nearby supernovae. I was agreeing w/ you that concern was not useful.
"Wealth" may be generated in stock trading and advertising algorithms, but the planet's -- your -- life support system is still natural.
How are soil, water, copper, lithium, and forests becoming less scarce? How is acquiring them becoming less damaging and polluting?
We're clearly not communicating.

When I said that most new wealth was from information you need to understand that a computer program that enables a widget factory to produce twice the widgets w/ half the iron ore not only makes the coder/stockholders rich but is better for our wonderful environment. If you want to dismiss the reality that most new wealth is information w/o looking at the FED's Flow of Funds report then we can agree to disagree and I'll bid you a good day.
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
...Again, that makes sense. Various technologies have made farming more productive. But the way we're farming now is simply not sustainable. There are a few bright spots we can look to, but we need to do far more. For example, stepping away from mono-culture farming helps topsoil. No till farming also helps the topsoil and is being used more and more.


Sorry to have left you with that impression! I appreciate what you're saying and the graphs you posted...
Thank you for your comment & I'm seeing your post as both kind and thoughtful.

A question about sustainability. You can't be saying that the lack of sustainability is already manifest in a growing shortage of farmland or other farming inputs, the above graph shows that the need for these inputs is falling w/ increased production. So if we're talking about an expectation of a lack of sustainability sometime in the unknown future then I can't argue w/ you. OK, so I can't agree w/ you either but we can still be friends.
 

icehorse

......unaffiliated...... anti-dogmatist
Premium Member
Thank you for your comment & I'm seeing your post as both kind and thoughtful.

A question about sustainability. You can't be saying that the lack of sustainability is already manifest in a growing shortage of farmland or other farming inputs, the above graph shows that the need for these inputs is falling w/ increased production. So if we're talking about an expectation of a lack of sustainability sometime in the unknown future then I can't argue w/ you. OK, so I can't agree w/ you either but we can still be friends.

Back 150 or 200 years ago people bothered to measure how much topsoil there was. And they've been making measurements ever since. And they can plot the rates at which topsoil is disappearing.

And so they project - with some rough degree of accuracy - when we will have lost all of our topsoil because of unsustainable farming practices. So we haven't lost all of our topsoil yet, but we're on a very predictable (and frighteningly short!), path towards total topsoil depletion.

And all the fertilizers in the world can't replace topsoil. Nothing can really replace topsoil. :(
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
Hmmm.

First off, your dismissal of the links provided is yet another reason I often deny requests for citations.
That's probably best as I'll be the first to admit to my bias in data. The Smithsonian has a fabulous art collection and display of aviation prototypes, but for agricultural knowledge I'd much prefer the USDA.
That said, these farming productivity gains are real, but they are temporary. When the topsoil is gone, the party will be over.
For now we've got no observations that indicate that our topsoil will be gone soon. All we have is the fact that for hundreds of years agricultural production has been rising and input costs have shown no increase that could be passed on to consumers. I don't see any widespread belief that something that's been w/ us for centuries is about to evaporate.
 

icehorse

......unaffiliated...... anti-dogmatist
Premium Member
That's probably best as I'll be the first to admit to my bias in data. The Smithsonian has a fabulous art collection and display of aviation prototypes, but for agricultural knowledge I'd much prefer the USDA.

For now we've got no observations that indicate that our topsoil will be gone soon. All we have is the fact that for hundreds of years agricultural production has been rising and input costs have shown no increase that could be passed on to consumers. I don't see any widespread belief that something that's been w/ us for centuries is about to evaporate.

Would the Union of Concerned Scientists shift your opinion? If not, what data would shift your opinion?

How Soil Erosion Threatens Our Food and Farm Future
 

Pete in Panama

Active Member
Would the Union of Concerned Scientists shift your opinion? If not, what data would shift your opinion?

How Soil Erosion Threatens Our Food and Farm Future
Back when many scientists were saying that Einstein's theories were bunk a reporter asked Einstein what he thought of the fact that 50 scientists said he was wrong. He responded saying (I paraphrase) that it would only take one scientist to observe a physical natural phenomenon to prove him wrong, not 50.

If every single one of the hundreds of thousands of members all said that water was not wet, then instead of agreeing I would go to the sink, turn on the tap, put my hand under the tap, and if my hand was wet I wound not accept the Union's finding.

But that's me I guess...
 

muhammad_isa

Well-Known Member
Back when many scientists were saying that Einstein's theories were bunk a reporter asked Einstein what he thought of the fact that 50 scientists said he was wrong. He responded saying (I paraphrase) that it would only take one scientist to observe a physical natural phenomenon to prove him wrong, not 50.
That's maybe .. but there is no scientist that can prove that topsoil does not decline
due to industrial farming.

..and it's not just about our generation, but about our children's and grandchildren's etc.
 
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