Energy & Environment
A Malthusian catastrophe (aka Malthusian check, Malthusian crisis, Malthusian disaster, or Malthusian nightmare) was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. Later formulations consider economic growth limits as well. The term is also commonly used in discussions of oil depletion. Based on the work of political economist Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), theories of Malthusian catastrophe are very similar to the Iron Law of Wages. The main difference is that the Malthusian theories predict what will happen over several generations or centuries, whereas the Iron Law of Wages predicts what will happen in a matter of years and decades.
A series that is increasing in geometric progression is defined by the fact that the ratio of any two successive members of the sequence is a constant. For example, a population with an average annual growth rate of, say, 2% will grow by a ratio of 1.02 per year. In other words, the ratio of each year’s population to the previous year’s population will be 1.02. In modern terminology, a population that is increasing in geometric progression is said to be experiencing exponential growth.
Alternately, in an arithmetic progression, any two successive members of the sequence have a constant difference. In modern terminology, this is called linear growth.
If unchecked over a sufficient period of time, and if the ratio between successive sequence members is larger than 1.0, then exponential growth will always outrun linear growth. Malthus saw the difference between population growth and resource growth as being analogous to this difference between exponential and linear growth. Even when a population inhabits a new habitat – such as the American continent at Malthus’ time, or when recovering from wars and epidemic plagues – the growth of population will eventually reach the limit of the resource base.
To understand the impact of exponential growth, simple maths can demonstrate the time something will double based on its rate of growth. Basically whatever is being considered, such as a population growth or fossil fuel consumption, the doubling time in years is derived from 70/growth rate. The 70 is derived from 100 times the natural logarithm of 2 (ln2 = 0.7). So if a population has a sustained growth rate of 7%, the population will double every 10 years (70/7). If a town has a population of 100,00 and is increasing with an annual growth rate of 7%, after 70 years that town’s population will be 12,800,000. Very simple maths, and quite scary. Currently the world population has just reached 7 billion and the global growth rate is 1.3%, this means the world population will double roughly every 54 years (70/1.3), so by 2120 the world population will be something like 28 billion if the current rate of growth is sustained. This simple formula for exponential doubling applies whatever is being considered. Tripling time is derived similarly and is 100 times natural logarithm of 3 (ln3 = 1.1) which is 110, so actual tripling time in years is 110/growth rate.
Capitalism, and therefore globalisation, is a paradigm based on infinite growth, which is clearly unsustainable on a planet with finite resources such as fossil fuels, fresh water and food. In short unless we have a major paradigm shift we are heading for a Malthusian catastrophe. Many believe that point is nearer than we would like to think. Due mainly to the concept of PEAK OIL.
Lets make one thing very clear from the start, the environment matters, it matters a lot!
This is a list of environmental issues that are (allegedly) due to human activities. These relate to the anthropogenic effects on the natural environment.
Anoxic waters — Anoxic event • Hypoxia • Ocean deoxygenation • Dead zone
Climate change — Global warming • Global dimming • Fossil fuels • Sea level rise • Greenhouse gas • Ocean acidification • Shutdown of thermohaline circulation
Conservation — Species extinction • Pollinator decline • Coral bleaching • Holocene extinction • Invasive species • Poaching • Endangered species
Energy — Energy conservation • Renewable energy • Efficient energy use • Renewable energy commercialization
Environmental degradation — Eutrophication • Habitat destruction • Invasive species
Environmental health — Air quality • Asthma • Electromagnetic fields • Electromagnetic radiation and health • Indoor air quality • Lead poisoning • Sick Building Syndrome
Genetic engineering — Genetic pollution • Genetically modified food controversies
Intensive farming — Overgrazing • Irrigation • Monoculture • Environmental effects of meat production • Slash and burn • Pesticide drift • Plasticulture
Land degradation — Land pollution • Desertification
Soil — Soil conservation • Soil erosion • Soil contamination • Soil salination
Land use — Urban sprawl • Habitat fragmentation • Habitat destruction
Nanotechnology — Nanotoxicology • Nanopollution
Nuclear issues — Nuclear fallout • Nuclear meltdown • Nuclear power • Nuclear weapons • Nuclear and radiation accidents • Nuclear safety • High-level radioactive waste management.
Overpopulation — Burial • Water crisis • Overpopulation in companion animals • Tragedy of the commons
Ozone depletion — CFC
Pollution — Light pollution • Noise pollution • Visual pollution • Nonpoint source pollution • Point source pollution
Water pollution — Acid rain • Eutrophication • Marine pollution • Ocean dumping • Oil spills • Thermal pollution • Urban runoff • Water crisis • Marine debris • Microplastics • Ocean acidification • Ship pollution • Wastewater • Fish kill • Algal bloom • Mercury in fish
Air pollution — Smog • Tropospheric ozone • Indoor air quality • Volatile organic compound • Particulate matter • Sulphur oxide
Reservoirs — Environmental impacts of reservoirs
Resource depletion — Exploitation of natural resources • Overdrafting
Consumerism — Consumer capitalism • Planned obsolescence • Over-consumption
Fishing — Blast fishing • Bottom trawling • Cyanide fishing • Ghost nets • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing • Overfishing • Shark finning • Whaling
Logging — Clearcutting • Deforestation • Illegal logging
Mining — Acid mine drainage • Mountaintop removal mining • Slurry impoundments
Toxins — Chlorofluorocarbons • DDT • Endocrine disruptors • Dioxin • Toxic heavy metals • Herbicides • Pesticides • Toxic waste • PCB • Bioaccumulation • Biomagnification
Waste — E-waste • Litter • Waste disposal incidents • Marine debris • Medical waste • Landfill • Leachate • Recycling • Incineration • Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Individually we are not directly responsible for the vast majority of these, the biggest culprits are the multi-national Corporations putting profit before the environment. We are all to a lesser or greater extent indirectly responsible for creating and maintaining a need. We create tropical forest deforestation because of our demand for tropical hardwoods, we create waste, we need food, water and energy and raw materials to build houses, roads, bridges etc.