~ THE EARTH'S CARRYING CAPACITY ~
SOME RELATED REVIEWS AND ANALYSES
Obituary - archive-kta-hike.org/archive/post-1398.html
Go to descriptive links to all documents on this web site
(Directly below are the links to all of these documents by title only.)
The initial web site contained a collection of five literature reviews done to understand the global magnitude of the loss and degradation of some of the earth's key life-support systems. These reviews were later used in an analysis of the sustainability of the global outputs of food, wood and freshwater, and also to compile a lot of land area and aquatic area data. That motivated an analysis of what the earth's carrying capacity is, based purely on the productivity of the bottom of the food chain - the process of photosynthesis (neglecting other constraints such as fossil fuels, living space, etc.)
You might benefit from first looking over the file "Highlights of this Website." (Edition 2, October 2008) That file briefly describes what each of the 20 major documents on this website is about. It also points out some of the more important conclusions of the analyses done in that document. This information may help you decide if any given document is likely to be useful for whatever purposes you had in mind.
Land Area Data and Aquatic Area Data - A Compilation
Below are 12 fairly substantial analyses related to the broader issue of Mankind's efforts to deal with the limits that the lands and the seas impose on human numbers in an age of exploding mobilities of all components of economic activity -- and efforts to deal with these limits in a bipolar global economy.
Globalization -- A Review of the Literature
Also, you will find two analyses of issues unrelated to those above. They are aimed at solving the health care crisis in a more bi-partisan manner than those that we normally encounter, i.e. by seeking ways of eliminating the massive inefficiencies that have crept into the system over the years.
The initial five documents in this web site were limited to categorized compilations of key facts and figures and brief summaries of arguments and analyses on the degradation of the major components of the earth's surface features. This scope was expanded to also cover an attempt to quantify the ever-increasing demands that humankind was placing on these key life-support systems. Globalization-related documents were added starting in 2003 to point up the growing interconnectedness of the developed- and developing worlds -- and the numerous implications thereof. The scope of this website has, over time, expanded further so that this website now has a size equivalent to over 1000 pages of 8.5x11 single-spaced hard copy. This website contains no graphics since it is assumed that the site visitor is primarily interested in collecting referenced information as rapidly and conveniently as possible.
Titles and sizes of (and links to) the documents listed above are given below.
INDEX OF COMPONENT DOCUMENTS: as of January 2011
Topsoil Loss and Degradation -- Causes, Effects, and Implications: A Global Perspective
Edition 9, March 2010 (Updated in October 2010) (3051 KB as 17 WORD 2000 files; 1728 KB as 17 *.html files)
Forest Land Degradation -- A Global Perspective
Edition 6, July 2007 (1924 KB as 12 WORD 2000 files; 915 KB as 12 *.html files)
Grazing Lands Degradation -- A Global Perspective
Edition 6, July 2007 (1431 KB as 9 WORD 2000 files; 807 KB as 9 *.html files)
Irrigated Lands Degradation -- A Global Perspective
Edition 5, July 2007 (Updated October, 2010) ( 1191 KB as 10 WORD 2000 files; 655 KB as 10 *.html files)
Fishery Degradation -- A Global Perspective
Edition 9, October 2009 (Updated October 2010) (2053 KB as 13 WORD 2000 files; 1190 KB as 13 *.html files)
Total: 8990 KB as 61 WORD 2000 files; 4816 KB as 61 *.html files)
Sustainability of the World's Outputs of Food, Wood and Freshwater for Human Consumption
Edition 2, January 2011 (1480 KB as 6 WORD 2000 files; 908 KB as 6 *.html files)
The Food Crisis -- Some Solutions for a World with Fewer Options for Satisfying Increasing Demands
Edition 2, September 2008 (170 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file; 134 KB as 1 *.html file)
Terra Preta -- An Inexpensive, if not Profitable, Solution to the Problems of Global Warming and Developing World Hunger
Edition 5, February 2009 (152 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file; 122 KB as 1 *.html file)
Human Co-Option of Net Primary Production - The Photosynthetic Limits to Global Carrying Capacity
Edition 2, April 2008 (89 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file; 56 KB as 1 *.html file)
Land Area Data and Aquatic Area Data -- A Compilation
Edition 2, January 2010 (987 KB as 10 WORD 2000 files; 435 KB as 10 *.html files)
The Controversy over U.S. Support for International Family Planning -- An Analysis
Edition 9, June 2009 (430 KB as 3 WORD 2000 files; 300 KB as 3 *.html files)
Could Family Planning Cure Terrorism?
Edition 7, March 2008 (337 KB as one WORD 2000 file: 187 KB as 1 *.html file)
The Muslim World's Changing Views Toward Family Planning and Contraception and Contraception
Edition 2, March 2008 (71 KB as one WORD 2000 File: 29 KB as 1 *.html file)
Quinacrine Sterilization: The Controversy and the Potential
Edition 2, June 2009 (121 KB as one WORD 2000 file: 74 KB as 1 *.html file)
Strategies for Funding Family Planning, Maternal Health Care, and Battles Against HIV/ AIDS in Developing Nations as Options Expand, Political Environments Shift and Needs Grow: A Critique
Edition 5, November 2009 (258 KB as 2 WORD 2000 files: 173 KB as 2 *.html files)
Could a Make-Mexicans-Rich Policy Cost Less than a Good-Fences-Make-Good-Neighbors Policy?
Edition 1, July 2010 (35 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file; 13 KB as 1 *.html File)
Globalization: The Convergence Issue
Edition 16, April 2008 (1088 KB as 5 WORD 2000 files: 688 KB as 5 *.html files)
Globalization: A Review of the Literature
Edition 4, November 2009 (1538 KB as 11 WORD 2000 files: 906 KB as 11 *.html files)
Globalization: The Outsourcing - Insourcing Issue
Edition 2, June 2006 (77 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file: 35 KB as 1 *.html file)
The Informal Economy of the Developing World: The Context, the Prognosis, and a Broader Perspective
Edition 2, December 2008 (269 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file: 201 KB as 1 *.html file)
Privatization of the World's Water Supplies and Other Public Utilities and Infrastructure
Edition 1, April 2008 (67 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file: 36 KB as 1 *.html file)
Why the Great Recession Could Last Forever
Edition 2, January 2011 (116 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file: 84 KB as 1 *.html file)
The Link Between Globalization and the Recession - Implications for the Future
Edition 5, November 2010 (219 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file: 179 KB as 1 *.html file)
Globalization: A 30-year Look-Back
Edition 1, July 2010 (109 KB as 1 WORD 2000 file: 80 KB as 1 *.html file)
Inefficiencies in the U.S. Health Care System -- Identifying and Fixing Them
Edition 3, August 2004 (87 KB) (No particular relevance to other topics covered by this web site)
Large-Scale Computerization --the Cure for the Health Care Crisis
Edition 4, May 2006 (86 KB) (Chapter 3 of the above document)
I am often asked about the origin of this website and about the author. To learn more about either, click on About this website and its author.
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS TO COMPLEX PROBLEMS (as of 11/26/09)
This website has evolved into something different from its original intent since 2000. Back then, the intent was to document the degradation of the major components of the earth’s surface features and the ever-increasing demands that humankind was placing on these key life-support systems. One feature of this website that was never intended is its tendency to point out a lot of fairly simple and inexpensive solutions to some of mankind’s more difficult, complex and costly problems. Unfortunately these solutions tend to be buried in documents where one is not likely to seek out such solutions. So below are brief descriptions of some of these problems and solutions – and where to find the complete analyses in this website.
Simple Solutions -- Halting and Reversing Global Warming
A process for permanently and significantly increasing the organic matter contents (and hence fertilities) of typically low-fertility tropical soils was discovered and developed by ancient Amazonians millennia ago. Scientists from around the world have been working since 2001 to relearn how the ancients accomplished this. Success is virtually assured. It is easy to show that the process, reproduced on all the croplands of the tropics, could easily and inexpensively produce a carbon sink sufficiently large to halt and reverse global warming for many decades. It is also easy to show that this process provides the only financially and physically viable strategy for halting and reversing global warming. For a detailed analysis of this issue click on "Terra Preta – An Inexpensive, if not Profitable, Solution to the Problem of Global Warming and Developing World Hunger."
Simple Solutions -- Eliminating Tropical World Hunger
Ancient Amazonians discovered, and developed, a way to permanently and significantly increase the organic matter contents (and hence fertilities) of their cropland soils. This is something that has never been achieved by Man since then. Fertilities of cropland soils can be increased by a factor of 2 to 3. Recent research suggests even higher ratios. The possibility of eliminating tropical world hunger by recreating the process developed by ancient Man for increasing cropland soil fertilities has drawn scientists from around the world. Once modern scientists discover how to reproduce the ancient process they should be able to make huge reductions in tropical world hunger (where the bulk of the world’s hunger is). But within the same scientific discovery lies the only physically and financially way to halt and reverse global warming. The economics of this global warming strategy would be so good simply because tropical farmers would be compensated for their labor in converting their croplands to high fertility lands by their increased food production. With all that free labor, the cost of also halting and reversing global warming would be insignificant. For a detailed analysis of these issues, click on the link alluded to above.
Simple Solutions -- Eliminating Developing World Poverty
The basic reason for developing world poverty is that world’s dire scarcity of financial capital. All the other problems that characterize what is commonly meant by "developing world" can easily be shown to stem from their financial capital problems. A fundamental cause of these financial capital problems is the staggering cost of the infrastructure growth that population growth calls for. This cost has been estimated at about $1.2 trillion/ year for the entire developing world. This is a sum that people earning a median wage of $2/ day cannot afford. All this explains such things as why all the nations that evolved from developing nation status to developed nation status in the past 100 years accomplished this feat during periods of active family planning programs. It also explains why the world’s 50 poorest nations have the world’s highest fertility rates. It also explains why the three Latin American countries (Brazil, Chile, Mexico) with the most active family planning programs are also the countries with the beginnings of a middle class (a rarity in Latin America).
What few people realize is that the cost of averting a birth (and the bulk of the $16,400 in infrastructure growth costs required by a net growth in population of one) has been dropping rapidly in recent decades. By far the most popular contraceptive today is female sterilization. This popularity is in spite of the fact that female sterilization is a surgical process that is physically, or financially, out of reach of over half the developing world’s females. A non-surgical process (quinacrine sterilization) being promoted is so simple and inexpensive that the cost of averting a birth is about $2.50 and could easily become available and affordable for virtually all developing-world women. Once this happens, it can be shown that the "prevalence" of modern contraceptive in the developing world would become about 81%, well above the 70% required to reduce total fertility rates to replacement levels.
Another non-surgical process for female sterilization (Essure) could, in theory, reduce the cost of averting a birth to a few dollars, but this has not yet happened. Once either or both of these non-surgical sterilization processes become widely available, and after population "momentum" effects die off, the developing world’s financial capital problems should largely vanish, and with it, all the other problems that the term "developing nation" has come to represent. The primary barrier to all this is the religious extremism that opposes essentially all modern contraceptives. For more detailed analyses, click on "The Controversy over U.S. Support for International Family Planning. . ." and "Strategies for Funding Family Planning. . ."
Simple Solutions -- Halting Population Growth in Developing Nations
As noted above, two inexpensive, non-surgical female sterilization procedures are in the works that would bring the prevalence of modern contraceptives to well above the 70% - the level needed to reduce total fertilities to below replacement level. Once these procedures become widespread, and population momentum effects die away, there is a high degree of certainty that developing world population growth will finally be bought to a close. For more complete analyses, click on the two documents noted above.
Simple Solutions -- Reducing, or eliminating, Armed Conflict
If one examines the histories of armed conflicts over the past century or so, the most common feature of these histories is that nearly all armed conflicts are initiated in situations of extreme duress. It would appear, then, that reducing that duress could reduce the number of armed conflicts. The cost of such a "proactive brothers’ keeper" strategy would usually be far less than the costs that armed conflicts entail. This notion did not begin in this website. For example, during the early stages of the latest Iraq war, the presidents of Egypt and Pakistan, the US CIA, the National Security Council and many others argued that getting at the root causes of the Iraq war are likely to be more fruitful than a purely military approach to the situation in Iraq. The president of Egypt even suggested that a military strategy is likely to create 100 times more terrorists that it eliminated. The document on this website titled "Could Family Planning Cure Terrorism?" examines numerous armed conflicts and the conditions preceding them. A strong argument results that supports the wisdom of "proactive brothers’ keeper" strategies.
It is also noted that the costs of proactive brothers’ keeper approaches have been dropping significantly in recent decades. Elsewhere in this website it is shown that the underlying cause of the serious problems characterizing the developing world is the extreme scarcity of financial capital. This, in turn, is shown to reflect the cost of infrastructure growth required by population growth. These cause-effect linkages are supported by a study showing that the frequency of armed conflicts is directly related to the rate of population growth. Another study finds that the main reason why the world’s poorest nations have failed to progress, economically, is their abnormally frequency of armed conflicts. Developing world poverty is also found to be directly related to the rate of population growth. As noted elsewhere in this website (See "Strategies for Funding Family Planning . . .") the cost of averting a birth has dropped by about two orders of magnitude in recent decades, and the prospects for such costs to drop further in the future look good.
One problem with a proactive brothers’ keeper strategy is in defining what constitutes such a strategy. A politically powerful voice in the US argues that the problems of the developing world are primarily the result of bad leadership. So merely eliminating that leadership (e.g. recall the Iraq war) is the best cure for the problems of the developing world. Others in the US, and in the bulk of the rest of the developed world, argue that environmental determinism theory explains the bulk of the problems of the developing world. Therefore they argue that addressing such issues as population growth (and the numerous consequences thereof) are more likely to be fruitful. (See "The Controversy over US Support for International Family Planning . . .")
Simple Solutions -- Eliminating the HIV/AIDS Pandemic
If the elimination of the HIV/AIDS pandemic were to be attempted with a strategy of putting HIV/AIDS into remission via anti-retroviral therapy, failure would be a virtual certainty. This is because the available funding that the world contributes to the battle (roughly $12 billion per year) is insufficient to accomplish the task. This means that, over time, an ever-increasing fraction of the world’s population will be afflicted. Whether that fraction will include the entire population of the earth, or just the entire population of the developing world, is a matter of conjecture. This population could wind up being far larger than it is today because public funding for battling HIV/AIDS comes largely from public funds for international family planning.
Several recent studies have found that far more cost-effective strategies exist. The new strategies all approach the problem by preventing HIV/AIDS from happening in the first place. They all use mass media approached to sell the idea of avoiding behaviors of the kind that greatly increase the risks of being inflicted with HIV/AIDS. The cost effectiveness of preventing an AIDS-related death using mass media approaches is on the order of 180 times that of anti-retroviral therapy. One mass media approach has perhaps double that cost effectiveness. The implication of all this is that there is now a good possibility of eliminating the HIV/AIDS pandemic with just the public funding available today. For a more detailed analysis, click on "Strategies for Funding Family Planning, . . ."
Simple Solutions -- Curing The US Health Care Crisis
Despite health care’s huge and ever-increasing bite out of the U.S. GDP, stopgap- and increasingly inefficient measures have characterized the nation’s response. Cost transfers, rather than efficiency improvements, appear to be the focus of these measures. As a result, addressing the health care crisis has become a political football, when it could be a bipartisan issue were it focused on the root of the problem – the extreme inefficiencies that are an inevitable consequence of interposing insurance companies between buyers and sellers of health care services. Many major studies over some decades have pointed out numerous inefficiencies in the system – inefficiencies largely ignored. The first of two documents on health care in this website examines the economic fundamentals of health care, and examines the four major categories of inefficiencies plaguing the system.
The second document focuses on greatly reducing, or eliminating, the largest of the four categories of inefficiencies. It defends what appears to be the most promising mechanism for improving health care system efficiency – large-scale computerization of the system’s information flow-, analysis- and storage processes by a single software source producing open-source software. Reasons why this has never been attempted are analyzed here. A few tens of billion dollar’s worth of one-time software development, plus a few tens of millions of dollars in annual management, maintenance-, development- and update costs thereafter, could produce direct benefits of roughly $470 billion dollars annually. Numerous opportunities would be created for improving the quality of health care. Arguments here support the contention that large-scale computerization offers the only cure, and probably the only permanent cure, for the health care crisis. The shortfall of 200,000 doctors and 800,000 nurses projected for 2020 could be eliminated by this computerization. The other three categories of inefficiencies, in total, could probably produce comparable benefits. This would suggest the possibility of cutting health care costs by about 50% through a bipartisan strategy of inefficiency reductions.
Worse than Failure in Finding Simple, Inexpensive Strategies for Avoiding Future Great Recessions
The usual (and numerous) analyses of the Great Recession simply asked what caused the Great Recession that the U.S. is now in. They typically concluded that the causes were the housing bubble (including its inevitable bursting) and the dysfunctional US financial system. A document in this website attempts to examine the issue in greater detail. It did this by tracing the cause-effect linkages resulting in the Great Recession sufficiently far back in time as to enable one to state, with confidence, what the real basic cause of the Great Recession was. This author is confidant that this goal was achieved, and that the real cause of the Great Recession was/is mismanagement, by the U.S., of its globalization process. All the events following the bursting of the housing bubble that we have observed to date fit well with the cause-effect linkages between mismanagement of the globalization process and the current Great Recession.
This knowledge of the Great Recession can help us to better understand what government stimuli are likely to be the most productive, per dollar spent, and which are likely to be counterproductive. (Some were.) This knowledge also helps the citizen to better foresee the future, and to determine what actions on their part are likely to best solve their own financial problems, or at least minimize their adverse effects. The conclusion of this document failed to discover any simple, inexpensive strategies for avoiding future Great Recessions. Even worse, it concludes that there is a significant possibility that the Great Recession, at least for the consumer sector of the U.S. economy (2/3 of the US economy), could easily continue indefinitely, and could even worsen over time. All the events prior to late 2009 (when this was written) seem to fit well with this possibility.
Many in the consumer sector of the US economy are already enraged at the events they keep hearing about that have give them so much pain. The document on the Great Recession in this website can only intensify their rage. It would be more constructive, however, to attempt to pursue the various strategies described in this document that could reduce the pain of those in the consumer sector, even though none of them are likely to be simple or inexpensive. For a detailed analysis see "The Link Between Globalization and the Recession – Implications for the Future" on this website.
An Offer to Serious Users of this Website
You may find some of the above-mentioned documents more useful if they are located on your own hard drive as word processing documents. Then, besides using the detailed tables of contents, you can also do key-word searches to pick out the facts, figures, sentences and paragraphs you need, copy whatever text you want and paste it into your own document and edit it to suit your needs. (Nothing in this website is copyrighted.) You can also make additions to the contents of your copies of the reviews for your own use in the future.
New materials collected since the dates of publication mentioned above are in the form of updates waiting to be categorized and inserted into this web site. Even though these updates are not yet categorized, you may still find them useful, either by doing word searches or just scrolling down through them. If you would like any of these updates as word-processing files emailed to you as attached files, please indicate this in your request for documents.
Purpose and Intent of the Reviews of the Literature on Degradation of Soils and Croplands, Forest Lands, Grazing Lands, Irrigated Lands and Fisheries:
The intended use of these reviews is to provide information to people concerned about population growth, the stability and sustainability of human civilizations, and the key factors that determine the Earth's carrying capacity. If you wish to:
then you should find these literature reviews of interest. The intent is to raise the quality of debates over the earth's carrying capacity and the degradation of the key biomass inventories upon which carrying capacity depends. These compilations look at biomass degradation from a macro-perspective, i.e. that of interest to policy makers, writers, etc., and not necessarily to people actually engaged in agriculture, fisheries, etc. -- people with more of a micro-perspective. This compilation also reflects efforts to:
Emphasis here is on collection, rather than evaluation, of information. When several sources give conflicting information, this document presents all sets of information, normally in close proximity. If a source evaluates various data and arrives at a "best" value, this is also pointed out here. If no such evaluations are available, the reader's best recourse may be to take some sort of average of all values given.
Notes on Table Formatting in Documents Compiling Data on land- and fisheries degradation
These documents are entirely on word-processing files. No spread-sheet software, graphics files etc. were involved. The most important departure from ordinary word-processing files will be noted in the numerous tables. It was found that the usual tables seen in word-processing documents are major memory hogs, and they take up more space than necessary. So to economize on memory and space and to thereby reduce the time required to email attached files and to upload files onto this web site, most tables have been constructed using a fixed-pitch font (Courier 10-pt.) with every other blank space filled in with tildes (~) to prevent browsers from replacing sequences of multiple blank spaces by single blanks, thereby making table columns uneven. Table columns are divided by vertical bars "|". If you put attached files of the above documents onto your hard drive, you can simply do a Find/ Replace to change all tildes (~) to blank spaces if you wish to make the tables more readable or presentable. You can also use the existing "|" as column dividers if you choose to convert any of the tables to the usual, more formal, type of tables usually seen in word-processing files.