Physicists predict Earth will become a chaotic world, with dire consequences

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IMO, we are on the proverbial "Horns of a Dilemma". I.E.: fossil fuels support the energy based lifestyles and populations of the world. Cut-backs/reductions in fossil fuel usage without "some similarly capable" alternative(s) would be detrimental to both lifestyles and populations. In approximately 30 years, given continued human lethargy, the Planet could be in the euphemistic "Heap of Trouble". P.S.: Hunter Gatherer life styles are for anthropologists and weekend campers. I'll pass.
 
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"Hunter Gatherer life styles" are not an option that can support 7+ billion people on our planet. Supporting our current population requires agriculture and technological methods for enhancing food production per acre farmed, plus transportation to distribute the food products to where the masses of people are.

Breakdown of the technological support system would mean a drastic crash in human population, much by famine, but also by the wars that would result.
 
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On the other hand, our weather has always been "chaotic". In fact, the weather forecasting models were what was used as the basis for defining "chaotic" in a mathematical sense. Basically, it means that very minor changes in the input parameters can produce large changes in the output parameters that are not necessarily predictable.

Mathematically "chaotic" systems are usually characterized by plots of their parameters tending to cluster or show time paths in one area of a graph for a while, then suddenly switch to doing that in a different area of the graph, maybe switching back and forth for reasons not readily apparent.

So, what this report is describing is more a matter of whether we will do one of those parameter cluster/path shifts. There have been many in Earth's history. Humans have benefited greatly from the last one, which produced a short warm period in a more steady era of cold (ice ages). In fact, we should probably have shifted back to an ice age already, or in the near future, if we had not already messed with out climate.

So, while we still don't understand how climate actually changed from ice age to short interglacial periods and back, many times in the last few million years, it appears that we have already messed with that cycle enough to preclude its continuation, and are probably embarking on some different shift in the climate cycles as we go into the future.

By the way, please don't be fooled by the folks who point to the Milankovitch (Orbital) Cycles as the full explanation of the ice age cycles. Those appear to be significant drivers, but the periods and temperature parameters do not match sufficiently to just predict ice ages like clockwork. What we seem to have had was a chaotic response of Earths climate to those orbital parameter cycles. Other things that we are still trying to understand, such as major heat transport pattern shifts in ocean currents, trade winds, etc. seem to be hugely important to changing climate rapidly when they shift in a manner that is "sudden" on the scale of geological history.
 
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I may as well put out another idea here, and hope somebody actually takes it seriously somewhere and looks into it.

That idea is that the orbital cycles as calculated by Milankovitch may actually have some perturbations due to glaciation that feed back to the frequency of some of the cycles.

We know that the maximum extent of glaciation puts ice sheets something like 2 miles thick over much of the North American, European and Asian continents. That water comes largely from around Earth's equator, which is more ocean than land. So, that is taking mass from a larger radius to a shorter radius from the Earth's axis of rotation. Wouldn't that tend to influence the rotation rate of the earth (length of day) in the same way that an ice skater increases spin rate by drawing in arms and legs?

But, the rock part of the earth is not rigid, and it slowly squashes down under the weight of the ice, lessening the effect. But, when the ice eventually melts, the water more quickly flows back into the oceans and toward the equator than the rock can rebound. In fact, the place where I live right now is still sinking, because it was not glaciated in the last ice age, and had squeezed up as the icebound land had sunk down.

Another effect has to do with the Earth's axis wobble and precession. We know we can increase that in a toy top by adding weight to the upper end of the toy. Wouldn't there be a similar enhancement of the wobble due to the ice accumulating toward one end of the Earth's axis? And then again when that ice is "suddenly" removed?

Some of these effects are probably actually captured already by taking the wobble measurements from geological evidence rather than just looking at the current rates of change. But, would thinking of them as responses to other changes, so that they do not just occur regularly and evenly like clockwork, help us understand better how the orbital parameter cycles drive the ice ages?
 

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
Sorry. I just believe that the human apes are just too stupid to realise that total resources divided by population = average standard of living. (average - don't tell me, I know). I know it is not politic, but it is true. Survival of the unfit. And the unfit species will shortly be extinct.

Much more interesting is the consequence devolving upon inter-alien communication (or lack thereof). If 'our' ability to communicate with some hypothetical aliens is limited to 'length of civilised technology' = a hundred years or two, then temporal coincidence is possibly even more critical than spatial limitation. In other words, the likelihood of aliens communicating depends not only on how far apart they are, but also, coincidentally, at the same (possibly very short) time.

Cat :)
 
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About 20 or so years ago, upstate New York, USA had a localized infestation of Gypsy Moth caterpillars. At night one could hear them noisily munching of the trees and shrubs. An insecticide, long -term toxic to humans, was recommended for control of the "critters". But, low and behold, the little pests that destroyed property plantings and had "such rude table manners" disappeared over the subsequent two years. They had over populated, consumed most of their food resources and the Spring climate changed as well as other environmental conditions, so the infestation situation was in reality self-correcting. IMO, Such will be the long-term outcome for H. Sapins on Earth, hopefully very long-term, our proclivity for nuclear weapons and political wars notwithstanding.
 
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I definitely agree with Cat about the probabilistic implications for interplanetary species communication.

I am not so sure about the fate of homosapiens. As problem solvers, it is not clear whether a major population crash will end technological progress completely, although it will certainly set it back substantially. To my way of thinking, the real issue is whether it will change our species in a manner that avoids cyclic development of technological capabilities - population explosion - population crash - loss of technological capabilities.

But, I do agree that present conditions of world politics do not look favorable for our species to avoid a huge population crash.
 
About 20 or so years ago, upstate New York, USA had a localized infestation of Gypsy Moth caterpillars. At night one could hear them noisily munching of the trees and shrubs. An insecticide, long -term toxic to humans, was recommended for control of the "critters". But, low and behold, the little pests that destroyed property plantings and had "such rude table manners" disappeared over the subsequent two years. They had over populated, consumed most of their food resources and the Spring climate changed as well as other environmental conditions, so the infestation situation was in reality self-correcting. IMO, Such will be the long-term outcome for H. Sapins on Earth, hopefully very long-term, our proclivity for nuclear weapons and political wars notwithstanding.
Yep. :)
Malthus is famous for his population views (1798), followed by Paley’s great work of Natural Theology (1802).
More here

“The order of generation proceeds by something like a geometrical progression. The increase of provision, under circumstances even the most advantageous, can only assume the form of an arithmetic series. Whence it follows, that the population will always overtake the provision, will pass beyond the line of plenty, and will continue to increase till checked by the difficulty of procuring subsistence (Note: See a statement of this subject, in a late treatise upon population.)
"

This view seems to have been critical for both Wallace and Darwin in developing their evolutionary models. It’s certainly common sense that food supply will grow slower than the rate of species growth. Technology is necessary to make the difference to allow greater population and a better standard of living.
 
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The high economic costs of having, educating, nurturing children does appear to influence some peoples' decisions about the number of children to have. In addition, relentless wars, big and small, political turmoil and the skewed world distribution of water, food and commodities may impose rational constraints on birth rates. It could be that the economic average family model of one underpaid male, one overworked female and 2.3 underfed children is no longer valid in developed countries except for those financially secure from having to consider economic restraints on emotional control. However, with the current world population expected to grow by ~50% in the next 50 years, we may discover just how the Neanderthals felt.
 
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The "modeling" of human populations that predicts a population peak at about 9.8 billion around the middle of this century strikes me as some head-in-the-sand optimism based on the assumption that people will decide to have fewer children once they become urbanized and earn a specific (small) amount of money.

While whole "first world" nations are seeing declining birth rates, they are also seeing vastly increased immigration rates that still increase the total national populations (unless, like Japan, they are highly resistant to immigration and sufficiently isolated geographically to succeed in resisting). And, within many of the "first world" nations, birth rates of the lowest economic strata are not declining.

So, the real question is whether the parts of the world's population that are poor and do not practice birth control effectively will overwhelm the parts of the world's population that have refrained from having many children so that they can better improve their lots.

As a previous poster has pointed out, Africa is not following the model predictions. And, paleontology and archeology are telling us that humans have been streaming our of the African continent into the rest of the world for several hundred thousand years. Everybody anywhere today has ancestors that left Africa at points in the past. So, immigration has been a driver for as long as we can determine that humans existed. I don't see that changing.
 

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
I totally endorse what Unclear Engineer has posted. This is not the place to discuss the consequential differences between political assumptions and scientific exploration of facts, so I will leave it there.

Physicists predict Earth will become a chaotic world, with dire consequences

It is not only physicists pointing out the obvious.
The important thing is, that if the human race is to survive, then it is an urgent necessity not just to reduce the total population, (by reduce, I am, of course, referring to reducing birth rates, not population 👹 and by voluntary means! :) ) but there must be urgent information campaigns backed up by sensitive measures. It must be wrong, surely, to subsidise high birth rates.

Enough! I think that we are all aware that average standards depend on total resources divided by total population. Just take a tiny example of aluminium bottle tops and membranes in pharmaceutical products. Perfectly good aluminium is being thrown away in increasing quantities. The amount of aluminium on this planet is finite. The availability of aluminium to future generations is being prejudiced by current uses of aluminium for mundane packaging. Not only that, but shortages of aluminium may prejudice availability for future space exploration.

Cat :)
 
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Unclear Engineer's post #13 mentions Japan. IMO, Japan with its cohesive racial and social population serves as a unique laboratory model for the consequences of devastating, expensive, high military death wars accompanied by comprehensive destruction of Japanese civilian lives and infrastructure via firestorms and two nuclear strikes and the subsequent economic dependence upon other nations for basic living resources. The result is a nation with an inverted population age pyramid, i.e. more elderly in need of services than those younger available for such services. Likewise, the debt to GDP ratio exceeds 250% portending inflation and/or major reductions in services and entitlements. It seems to me that developed nations are more or less on a very similar trajectory as Japan as immigration encounters increasing resistance and wasteful resource use increases. Pardon my lack of faith in technology and humanity but to me, the outlook for the world appears chaotic.
 

Catastrophe

"There never was a good war, or a bad peace."
"Pardon my lack of faith in technology and humanity but to me, the outlook for the world appears chaotic."

I don't think it will take a lot of imagination to predict my agreement with sam85geo in this matter.

Cat :)
 
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