John Howe on one child per woman: still too high to stay under oil depletion curve

7 01 2021
A blast from the past, this nearly six year old post from Alice Friedemann was very prophetic as the UN is now predicting food shortages….

Posted on May 2, 2014 by energyskeptic

[In the graph below, you can see that “Howe’s slide says that even with 1 child per female we don’t stay under a depletion curve of 1% per year” — private communication from Charles A. S. Hall May 13, 2012]

My comment: It looks to me live even NO children per year doesn’t stay under the energy depletion curve, especially when you consider that the most likely depletion rate is 9% per year, not 1% per year!  On the other hand, the death rate is likely to go way up as people succumb to diseases as malnutrition and starvation increase, made worse by the numerous antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. It looks like we reached Peak Food in America in 2014, and back in 2012 Lester Brown believed Peak Food was reached worldwide.

Below is an excerpt from John Howe’s article with this graph at the bottom:

population 1 child per woman not good enough john howe

The only  possible way to achieve 1CPF in a modern free society is with vast publicity and peer pressure. The public must realize that extra children born today will not only compete with everyone else for resources, but their parents will be there to see them suffer in a world which will get a whole lot uglier.  The planet is a finite entity so we must respect the reality of numbers. Please join this mission and get involved.

Negative population Growth: Because we expect to live to see our children, and their children and, hopefully, our great-grandchildren, the bulge (momentum) of total population grows long into the future even at a reproductive (sometimes called fertility) rate of only one child per female (1CPF). As shown, the population for a closed group of any size at 1CPF will reach peak population about 30 years after the start of the program and far beyond peak oil and the sum of all energy starting right about now (2011). The numbers are based on a typical demographic pattern of: average age of reproduction at 25 years old, and average death at 80. The starting date for the methodology used assumes an age distribution as follows:

1 to 20 years old, 40%

21 to 50 years old, 43%

51 to 80 years old, 17%

If other age distributions are assumed, the results would be slightly different, but the conclusion would be exactly the same. Because, with modern medicine and dependable food systems, we are so adept at death control, our population grows much larger for even a small birth rate. Before industrial times, the average age at death was much lower because of infant mortality and continuing through brief adulthood with plagues, famines, child-birth death, wars, and just a hard, short life. We can’t have it both ways. Modern health care is not compatible with a fertility rate higher than 1CPF, especially now that energy in the essential forms of food, fuel, and transportation will soon decline precipitously.

John Howe Howe@megalink.net

References

The included bibliography includes many titles specific to the population problem starting of course with Thomas Malthus, who was “proven wrong” for the last 200 years because of new lands, high-tech agriculture and unlimited fossil fuels. The best contemporary authors start with Al Bartlett (“The Essential Exponential”). He has given thousands of lectures on population throughout the world. Now, in his 80’s, he still has an office at the University of Colorado where he was teaching in the 50’s when I was there as a young engineering student. Another author who combines both sides of the population-resource equation is Lindsey Grant (“The Collapsing Bubble” and, “Too many People”). He is instrumental in the U.S. NGO, Negative Population Growth, Inc. (www.npg.org), which focuses directly on the subject. Another U.S. NGO is World Population Balance (www.worldpopulationbalance.org). In the U.K., several of the best books are: “The Rapid Growth of Human Populations” by William Stanton and “The Growth Illusion” by Richard Douthwaite. Similar work is spearheaded by the Optimum Population Trust (www.populationmatters.org). Many are trying to get the facts out. To date, few are listening.

Related

The difference between depletion and decline rate in oil fieldsJune 9, 2015In “Flow Rate”

Lessons learned from how Cuba survived peak oilMarch 18, 2018In “Agriculture”

Die-off: several predictions of when and how bad will it beJanuary 11, 2012In “By People”


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8 responses

9 01 2021
DavidS

We are about to hit 8B, I feel sure we will pass 9B (in mid-30s) and maybe even approach 10B before widespread famine strikes mid century. Even as energy production declines, humans will use all their ingenuity to preserve as much food production for as long as possible and in so doing will also devastate whats left of the fisheries/soils etc.

And this assumes a nuclear war doesn’t break out first.

Given that a post fossil fuel agrarian world probably can’t support a population >1B (especially given ongoing/accelerating environmental destruction of soils/fisheries etc) – then this would imply a 90% reduction in population over the course of perhaps a decade or two.

But under that scenario its inconceivable that agriculture can survive except in the most isolated of pockets – although I can’t think where that might be. You can’t farm whist everybody around you starves – it will be chaos. So 1B is an over estimate.

And if we are thrown back into a hunter gather stone age, then what exactly will we be left to hunt and gather post collapse. Its not a case of returning to neolithic lifestyles as most of the resources that supported hunter/gathering have either already been destroyed or will be destroyed. So 1M may be an over estimate.

To me, it looks likely that the collapse of fossil fuels will trigger a mass extinction event that homo-sapien will be lucky to survive Although we are an amazing species so I wouldn’t bet against us.

But certainly prepping for collapse is pointless, if it happens its essentially unsurvivable – unless perhaps you happen to be one of the few thousand practising hunter gatherers still in existence – in which case you won’t be reading this.

However you might be able to prep for the descent – the period before famine hits although given the unpredictability of events then you might need more luck than preparation.

9 01 2021
DavidS

Following links above I stumbled on the on this at the excellent energyskeptic blog – says it all really

http://energyskeptic.com/2019/bodhi-paul-chefurka-carrying-capacity-overshoot-and-sustainability/

And if I may anwer Alice’s question at top “I don’t understand his ultimate sustainable carrying capacity based on hunter gatherers”.

As I said I don’t see any farmer surviving a 90%+ population crash – no matter how “resilient” they may be now – they won’t be resilient in the face of vastly outnumbered starving hordes. You would have to be a farmer on a fully self-sufficient and fertile remote island able to completely operate without any modern inputs (e.g. seeds, tools, fertilizers etc). – does this still exist anywhere – will it still exist when collapse eventually arrives ?

9 01 2021
mikestasse

Population is on target to start falling 2025~2030…

9 01 2021
DavidS

It might well do, but I think humanity will try to delay this awful event for as long as possible. The reality of that peaking black line is a wide scale famine with no relief effort in sight. – a horrible prospect.

Ultimately the dates depend on fossil fuel decline rates, which so far nobody has been able to predict – but I err on the optimistic side i.e. side of human ingenuity.

But my main point is that widespread agriculture will be unlikely to survive a 90% population crash, – if it is to survive then it will only be in the most isolated of pockets. So it won’t be a 90% crash it will more likely be a 99.9% crash effectively unsurvivable.

Following links above I stumbled on this excellent analysis

http://energyskeptic.com/2019/bodhi-paul-chefurka-carrying-capacity-overshoot-and-sustainability/

(I suppose I have accidentally responded to Alice’s question at top “I don’t understand his ultimate sustainable carrying capacity based on hunter gatherers”….)

9 01 2021
DavidS

Following links above I stumbled on the on this at the excellent energyskeptic blog – says it all really

http://energyskeptic.com/2019/bodhi-paul-chefurka-carrying-capacity-overshoot-and-sustainability/

And if I may anwer Alice’s question at top “I don’t understand his ultimate sustainable carrying capacity based on hunter gatherers”.

As I said I don’t see any farmer surviving a 90%+ population crash – no matter how “resilient” they may be now – they won’t be resilient when vastly outnumbered by starving hordes. You would have to be a farmer on a fully self-sufficient and fertile remote island able to completely operate without any modern inputs (e.g. seeds, tools, fertilizers etc). – does this still exist anywhere – will it still exist when collapse eventually arrives ?

9 01 2021
10 01 2021
EnergyShifts.net

Preppers should be able to survive for some years because fossil fuels are not going to evaporate overnight – they are gradually declining and so related systems will implode one after the other over a period of time, not all at once. Emergency adaption will motivate and force people to adapt as the collapse proceed. It will all depend where you find yourself. Not all countries or regions / areas are over-populated. There are vastly under-populated areas where few people would even consider going. However big cities are very likely to become death traps once supply chains to them broke down suffiiently. Although we are already seeing a move out of cities happening in many places (especially in the States).

10 01 2021
dex3703

So surreal to watch these things that have been warned about so consistently for such a long time finally coming into view. Knowing what will happen is such a strange feeling. Not quite preparing for a punch–much emptier.

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