Monday, October 24, 2005

Future

EU outpaces US in emissions growth (October 31, 2006)

The Kyoto Protocols aren't being lived up to by their signatories. I've seen several stories reporting that only two or three of the 166 nations that have ratified their commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions are actually on pace to do so. The US, although a signatory, hasn't ratified the agreement and consequently isn't binded by the Protocols. Portrayed as pigs, it should be pointed out that committing to reducing emissions and actually doing so are two very different things:
"The rising trend is the worrisome part of it," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Since 2000, as their economies revived, countries in Eastern Europe also increased their emissions, rising by 4.1% according to the agency.

From 2000 to 2004, according to the U.N. data, the U.S., which isn't a party to Kyoto, had a slower increase in emissions (1.3%) than members of the European Union (2.4%). EU members have committed to drop their emissions by 8%, compared with 1990 levels, by 2012.
That the EU is increasing the rate of emissions faster than the US inspite of its members pledge to reduce them illustrates how difficult it is to curtail emissions through restriction. Stateside, we're doing a better job of curtailing emissions growth without hampering economic growth. Oil prices probably have something to do with that, as US consumers switch from SUVs and other gas-guzzlers to more fuel efficient vehicles. Nonetheless, last year, the US economy grew 3.5%, while the European Union limped along at 1.7%. So the EU is growing its emissions faster but its economy slower than the US! No wonder the WSJ-types ridicule the Kyoto Protocols so relentlessly.

Even if anthopogenic warming is occuring, I'm not convinced it'll be bad, especially for those in cooler climates (largely the developed world). It'll boost agricultural yields, increase economic activity (mild winters are good for retail and entertainment), decrease natural gas prices, make more accessible fish and oil in the Arctic (estimated to contain about a quarter of the world's supply), and hopefully make mostly uninhabited freezers like northern Canada, Greenland, and Siberia more inhabitable, so that surrounding high IQ populations can 'settle' them and procreate.

But if it is catastrophic, the environmental movement needs to find a better way to get nations to respond to the threat. This seems to illustrate how mandating emission-reductions stifles economic growth. If you agree to take part, you're going to be shooting yourself in the foot now for some perceived benefit in the future that will be shared by all. Those refusing to reduce emissions putatively still benefit from your reductions without having to sacrifice economic growth. It's a win-win for those not actively trying to reduce emissions, and a rough situation for those who do. It seems to me the way forward has to be through innovation. Make greener technologies that are economically viable (photovoltaics, fuel cells, etc) and the problem fixes itself. Green crusaders need to invest in companies conducting this sort of research. SRI is preferrable to governmental regulation (especially on an international scale).


Global cooling (August 26, 2006)

Would be a lot more devastating than global warming. The indefatigable Al Fin, who has multiple blogs and apparently has overcome the soporific mortal's daily need for sleep, points to a report out of the Russian Academy of Sciences astronomical observatory that predicts global cooling by mid-century:
Global cooling could develop on Earth in 50 years and have serious consequences before it is replaced by a period of warming in the early 22nd century, a Russian Academy of Sciences’ astronomical observatory’s report says, the RIA Novosti news agency reported Friday. Environmentalists and scientists warn not about the dangers of global warming provoked by man’s detrimental effect on the planet’s climate, but global cooling. Though never widely supported, it is a theory postulating an overwhelming cooling of the Earth which could involve glaciation.
The most recent ice age came near the end of the Pleistocene around 11,000 years ago. The last Wurm glaciation was the grand finale in a turbulent period of harsh cold spells that covered most of Europe and Asia in glaciers, pushing homo sapiens along with several other large mammalian species into southern of Europe and back toward the Meditteranean area. It is possible, however, that our current interglacial period could come to an end, or that we might enter a relatively short period of cooling, as the Russian Academy predicts.

There's a lot of smoke being blown up around climatic change, and I'm certainly not erudite enough to cut through it. Interglacial periods historically have lasted longer than 10,000 years. Nonetheless, global cooling appears exponentially more threatening to humanity than global warming does.

I see plenty of potential upsides to warming. One-fourth of the world's oil reserves are believed to be in the Arctic, and the melting of the Arctic ice sheets will make them (and largescale commercial fishing) more accessible. Northern Canada and the enormous land expanse east of the Ural mountains in Russia that is home to somewhere around 8 million people (an area roughly twice the size of the continental US, if memory serves) is brimming with stuff like timber, oil, natural gas, ore, and other natural resources. Further, much of it isn't far above sea level, so it's potentially inhabitable. The moderation of extreme climates in areas like the upper midwest would plausibly lead to more family formation in these areas, and, coupled with the corresponding harshening of conditions in places nearer the equator, might have a globalized eugenic effect. Some places would become less suitable for agriculture while others would become more so (with temperate areas benefitting and tropical areas suffering), but the time between sowing and harvesting would decrease worldwide, and increased carbon dioxide would stimulate faster crop growth. Moreover, moderate winters lead to more economic activity.

Cooling, on the other hand, would be certifiably disastrous, especially for the developed world (as more advanced societies tend to be further from the equator, in cooler regions). Imagine the chaos if the upper half of the US was covered in a perennial snow sheet. What of Scandanavia, Britain, Japan? Natural gas prices would skyrocket. Good for Russia (frozen though its inhabitants might be), not so good for Ukraine, or Europe for that matter. Food production would suffer. Natural resources would become harder to come by in temperate regions. Where's the upside? Lower sea levels perhaps would open up more land for settlement in coastal regions.
The head of the observatory's space research sector feels that the Kyoto protocols, will be especially damaging to northern countries:
Khabibullo Abdusamatov said he and his colleagues had concluded that a period of global cooling similar to one seen in the late 17th century — when canals froze in the Netherlands and people had to leave their dwellings in Greenland — could start in 2012-2015 and reach its peak in 2055-2060. He said he believed the future climate change would have very serious consequences and that authorities should start preparing for them today because “climate cooling is connected with changing temperatures, especially for northern countries.”

“The Kyoto initiatives to save the planet from the greenhouse effect should be put off until better times,” he said, referring to an international treaty on climate change targeting greenhouse gas emissions.
I don't profess to know enough to speculate one way or another on what will happen with regard to global climatic shifts in the future, but the putatively 'consensus' view that anthropogenic global warming is occuring and that humanity must do whatever it takes to stop it from occuring is anything but.


Gene variation testing getting cheaper, easier (April 14, 2006)

We are approaching a new paradigm in the way human nature is understood (subscription required):

In Switzerland, a group of college students and local laborers sat down for a brief memory test a couple of years ago. They were given 30 words and then asked, five minutes later, to repeat them. On average, they recalled eight.

Last summer, American scientists equipped with a powerful new gene-testing technology gave this simple test an extra twist. DNA samples of the best and worst word-recallers were flown to Phoenix, where their DNA was checked with machines that can scour it for 500,000 genetic variations at lightning speed...

TGen got the DNA samples and used the new chips to scan all of the samples in less than a month. Dr. Stephan says the work turned up more than 100 gene variants that seemed to show up more frequently in people with good episodic memories. The researchers then repeated the experiments in two other groups, including 256 elderly people from the retirement community of Sun City, Ariz.

TGen researchers say they've narrowed their findings to what they believe to be five memory-related genes.

The opportunity to correlate different genetic variations with countless social, physiological, and psychological outcomes is going reveal the etiology of so much of the human diversity generally assumed to be caused by differences in environment.

The price of chips that detect over 300,000 genetic markers is falling rapidly:

While the technology is still expensive, in the past nine months the price of some chips has fallen rapidly to around $750 each, from $1,200, according to Dr. Stephan.
That's roughly in line with Moore's Law. As the chips become less cost prohibitive, sociologists and other researchers will be able to start exploring the relationship between genes and virtually every human trait or behavior imanginable. Amateur enthusiasts will also be able to get into the game.

The memory test on Swiss kids is a short step away from being an IQ test. Predictably there is unease:
If the studies of gene variants do prove as powerful as adherents believe, they are likely to raise thorny societal issues. That's because the same tools that can find variants that raise disease risk might identify genes that influence any measurable human trait, including height, weight or even intelligence.

Why be afraid of the truth? Celebrate diversity. Isn't that the mantra? Many putative diversity boosters want to break the perceived monopoly of the WASP burgher's value system, but they dogmatically maintain that the human mind is a tabula rasa. They do not want to discover the real causes of diversity, nor do they want to entertain diversity of thought.

Putting the controversy aside, the benefits of cheap and quick gene testing will be enormous. If your child has a gene variation that puts him at high risk for obesity, you will be able to form good eating habits early, like starting him on skim milk instead of whole milk. The military will be able to determine branch assignments based on risk tolerance. Those with the genes to thrive in high pressure situations can be put into infantry or artillery while the fainter of heart are assigned to support branches. Research will help the medical community better understand a host of diseases and how to combat them. Parents will be able to guide their kids into athletics or music or chess club based on inherent strengths. The list goes on forever.

Society as a whole will lose a lot of deadweight loss as people align their lives in ways that utilize personal strengths, compensate for weaknesses, and fulfill desires.


With senescence comes budget growth (February 3 2006)

In the 2006 State of the Union speech, President Bush lauded budget cuts and reductions in funding for porcine programs:

My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not at all.
A cynic might snipe at the $500 billion that will have been spent on Iraq by the end of 2007. And certainly the budget cuts are diminutive in comparison to, well, much of anything. The $14 billion Bush has cut from the 2006 budget amounts to .005% (.00005 of the total budget mind you!).

Fundamental change has to occur for the lilliputian cuts to do anything more than score hollow ideological points. A staggering 47% ($1.32 trillion) of the 2006 federal budget will go to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Formulas for use of these programs are set by law--Bush cannot arbitrarily make cuts to them--the law must be changed. Demographic shifts make that increasingly unlikely, however, as some eighty million or so baby boomers will begin to become eligible for Social Security early retirement benefits. By early next decade, the diluge will be upon us. By 2040 it's estimated that every two workers will be funding the Social Security and Medicare costs of one retiree. With healthcare costs growing at three times the rate of inflation, that's going to be beyond untenable without huge cuts in benefits or devastating tax increases.

Medicare and Medicaid currently cost slightly more than Social Security, but they will extend their lead considerably in the coming years. By 2026 M&M will represent 22% of the US GDP (currently it's only 4.5%). Social Security's growth is flatter (4.2% of GDP today, projected to be 6.4% by 2050). The ominous portent referenced above is put into sharp contrast by these figures. Currently, the federal government's entire revenues amount to only 18% of GDP. In other words, if we were to be taxed at the same rates as we are today in 2050, we wouldn't even give up enough to pay for Medicare and Medicaid, let alone Social Security, interest on the public debt ($217 billion a year and growing), defense and education spending, and so forth.

Cutting benefits drastically, while infinitely appealing to my young mind, is becoming progressively less realistic as America ages. The political clout of groups like the AARP are going to increase, not decrease. The median age is already over 36, and it's becoming more grey by the day. Support for the Administration's Social Security partial privatization was strong among youths and eroded steadily as age increased (an aside: The puerile standing ovation the Democrats gave themselves when Bush mentioned his failed attempt at reform in the State of the Union address reminded me why, as disenfranchised as I feel by the Republican Party, my decision at the polls is always between Republican and third party).

Raising tax rates would obviously cause economic stagnation or even recession (estimates show that rates would have to rise above 50%). And increased tax rates are by no means directly equatable with higher government revenues. Slowed growth leads to less economic expansion, lower incomes, higher unemployment, and ultimately less money to tax.

Does a third option exist? SENS research theoretically could be an azoth, but beyond basic conceptuality it's too far over my head to comment on (if you're looking for a new destination for your charity dollars, this might be a cause to consider).

Another potentiality that is possible with current technology is the utilization of euthanasia for humans. The healthcare cost across the life an individual is a crescendo, increasing substantally as one enters the last years of life. The top 1% of people to whom health care expenditures are directed make up 12.8% of the total cost. The top 10% comprise over half. As people's bodies break down, they have to spend evermore on medicines and doctor's visits. The last few days can cost in the tens of thousands in some cases. Letting people go out on their own accord would lessen not only the financial burden of fighting a losing battle against undefeated death but also save the suffering of friends and family members who must witness the sad deterioration of one with Alzheimer's or terminal cancer. Further, it would alleviate pain by allowing one to drift comfortably to sleep instead of agonizing terribly and then dropping off.

Currently Oregon is the only state in the US with restricted voluntary euthanasia. There needs to be restrictions. For example, adolescents should be barred from it unless terminally ill and with the consent of parents. People deemed mentally unstable should similarly be restrained. But for those faced with a preciptous decline in health and quality of life should have the option to go out with dignity for the betterment of those they are leaving behind.


Japan today, Europe tomorrow, the US next week (January 5 2005)

The West (plus Japan) is moribund. It's dying faster than expected:

For the first time on record, Japan's population has started to decline -- a troubling demographic low point long expected but reached two years earlier than predicted. Figures released by the government, based on preliminary data up to October, show that the number of deaths exceeded births in 2005 for the first time since officials started keeping records in 1899.
This problems this trend is likely to create beggars the imagination:

"If the number of children keeps decreasing, economic problems will result, such as a reduction in the labor force and a slowdown in spending," the Yomiuri Shimbun daily commented on Friday. "The sustainability of the social security system will be at risk, too."
Shrinking numbers of younger workers will increasingly be employed in industries that provide services to the elderly instead of engaging in innovative and entrepreneurial activities that create wealth. Tax rates will be raised to cover the healthcare and social security costs for an expanding number of people who will require such services. This will further slow economic growth and human progression. Enormous amounts of human capital will leave the marketplace via retirement without being fully replaced. The economic pressure this will put on the shoulders of the younger may lead them to have even fewer children than their parents, further accentuating the problem. Hopefully SENS research will make a breakthrough that finally defeats aging and renders the problem of less fertility a thing of the past, but I'm not content to count on it.

As fewer children have been born, the ideal family size has also shrunk:
When preferred family size was first measured by Gallup in the U.S. in 1936, two thirds of Americans thought that three or more children were ideal, and the mean
number of children preferred was 3.6. Those preferences held steady for the next
three decades, through 1967. A poll conducted in 1973 recorded a substantial change -- with preference for three or more children declining to 51% and the mean number preferred dropping to 2.8. By 1980 the figures had dropped to 40% favoring three or more children, with an average number of 2.5. U.S. opinion on this issue has remained stable at this level since then.
I am not aware of the trends in Japan, but here at home this is yet another badge of honor the sixties' cultural revolution can wear with pride. The revolution can put that ornament next to its accomplishments in plateauing the high school graduation rate, seeing that the poverty rate bottomed out, and pushing both the divorce and out-of-wedlock birth rates through the roof. The baby boomer generation came to an end in 1964, and the bra-burning, abortion-loving, pill-popping began.

Declining fecundity in the developed world is the most potent problem first world nations face. Yet it gets almost no attention. Bring it up and you're apt to get a baffled look followed by a response about how there are too many poor children in the world. Indeed there are. And there's not enough rich ones. Check out the CIA Factbook's fertility ranking by country. The top three baby bastions (average births per woman), and their PPP:

1) Niger, 7.55, $900
2) Mali, 7.47, $900
3) Somalia, 6.84, $600

And the most barren, followed by PPP:

1) Hong Kong, .93, $34200
2) Macau, 1.00, $19400
3) Singapore, 1.05, $27800

This obvious but often overlooked inverse relationship between wealth and procreation augments the gap between the haves and have-nots. It also has a dysgenic effect. If Bill and Melinda Gates have one child, at their passing the child stands to inherit $60 billion (for argument's sake--I realize the Gates have three children and do not plan on giving them much at this point). If Joe and Mary Janitor have five kids and a net worth of $50,000, each kid will get $10,000. This looks too much like Latin America. We have a prince with $60 billion and five paupers with a measly $10 grand.

If we swap fecundity, we start to look more like middle America. The Gates have five kids and the Janitors only have one. Thus, the five mini-Gates inherit $12 billion apiece, and the Janitor gets $50,000. From a prince and five paupers we go to five members of the aristocracy and one worker with enough to buy a modest house.

These are extremes, but they illustrate conceptually how the affluent having many kids and the impoverished having fewer children closes the wealth gap. In addition, IQ is largely heriditary (between 40% and 90% on the fringes, with 75% being a common assumption) and IQ and income have a moderate, (IQ explaining around 15%) statistically significant correlation. In the second scenario with five Gates and one Janitor, we close the wealth disparity and raise the population's average intelligence.

The child tax credit gives US taxpayers $1,000 (not a deduction from income, but an actual credit, which is essentially as good as cash) for each urchin, but it begins phasing out at an adjusted gross income of $110,000 for married couples and $75,000 for singles (it's completely gone at $129,001 and $94,001, respectively). The credit should instead increase as AGI increases to encourage those most able to have children to produce the little scamps, and conversely discourage those who cannot afford children from bringing them into life with the card's stacked against them. This proposal may sound callous, but if knee-jerk emotive reactions are discarded in favor of rationality, it really makes sense.

The West is dying. By 2050, the West (Western Europe, the US, Canada, Austalia, and New Zealand) will represent less than 10% of the world's population. Fifty years ago, it represented about 25%. The US is in better shape than Europe, with births per woman just a hair below replenishment at 2.08. But this is misleading, as it is immigrants from another culture who are pushing that number upwards (estimated at around 3.25 births for first generation Latinos). For non-Hispanic whites it is only 1.85.

We need policies that raise the number of immigrants of merit who come to the US and financial incentives that encourage natives, especially the middle and upper classes, to have more children. We can reverse this dwindling trend in births, but if we don't, dire consequences await.

(Future)


Kyoto and energy (December 15 2005)

The Kyoto Treaty is dead in the water:

Even those who support radical cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions are realizing that the Kyoto Protocol is a failed instrument for achieving their goals. "The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge," says British Prime minister Tony Blair.
And Britain has been an aberration among signatories--only five of the 156 countries who jumped on board the Kyoto have decreased emissions. Of these, only Great Britain and Germany have done so impressively:

Of the industrialised nations, only Britain seems to be having little trouble meeting its commitments, having even surpassed its target of 12.5 pct by cutting emissions 13 pct. Germany also reduced its emissions impressively, by 18.2 pct, but was short of its target of 21 pct, while France (1.9 pct), Luxembourg (16 pct) and Sweden (2.3 pct) also cut emissions.

One step forward doesn't neutralize two steps backwards, unfortunately:

Eleven have reported increases since 1990, with huge rises seen in Spain (41.7 pct), Portugal (36.7 pct), Greece (25.8 pct), Ireland (25.6 pct), Finland (21.5 pct) and Austria (16.5 pct).
The countries that have cut emissions, not surprisingly, are stuck in the doldrums of economic malaise. Britain has recently slashed its GDP growth rate to a paltry 1.75% while Germany turns in a similarly unstellar performance of 1.7%. France suffers from double-digit unemployment, among other things.

This marginally effective push to reduce emissions by many moral posturing industrialized nations (US and Australia are notably absent) reminds me of a sequence in Joseph Heller's Cath-22. Yossarian is tending to another soldier's arm wound taken from enemy fire, feverishly wrapping it up to stop the bleeding. In his momentary relief from getting the relatively minor injury to the arm taken care of, Yossarian realizes the guy's abdomen has been obliterated and his guts are literally spilling out onto the floor. China and India are collectively that abdomen:

By 2012, the plants in three key countries - China [1.926 billion], India [486 million], and the United States [275 million] - are expected to emit as much as an extra 2.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to a Monitor analysis of power-plant construction data. In contrast, Kyoto countries by that year are supposed to have cut their CO2 emissions by some 483 million tons.
In the ideal world where the Kyoto nations met their obligations, we could expect to see six times that amount added from just three other countries. The entire Kyoto protocols, if they were carried out to term would not even offset the growth of India. Of course, almost all the countries that are a party to Kyoto are failing dismally at even halting emissions growth, let alone decreasing them. And the explosion in China is the real story. Because oil is expensive and unstable, the PRC is turning to other methods of feeding its insatiable need for energy, namely coal:

"Environmental optimists were assuming the world was going to switch to gas, but when you're short of gas you use your own coal," says Philip Andrews-Speed, a China energy expert at the University of Dundee, in Scotland. "What you're seeing with China and the others is the cheapness and security of coal just overwhelming the desire to be clean."

It's unfair to expect China to halt emissions growth, given that the country's PPP of $5,600 is among the world's lowest outside of Africa, northern South and Central America, and the crapistans. Being told to put the brakes on economic efficiency by countries with a standard of living ten times higher than their own is understandably scoffed at by the Chinese, who are building a new power plant every ten days or so.

Trying to regulate away greenhouse emissions is a pipe dream. Until alternative energy sources (check out Randall Parker's Futurepundit for insightful news about and analysis of them) become economically viable, they are going to be resisted because of their obvious deleterious effect on growth. Governments should be focusing on developing, directly and through tax incentives, these alternative sources so that industry will be encouraged rather than coerced into using them.

Tony Blair is right in pointing out that so long as lower emissions are cost-ineffective, mandating them will remain an exercise in futility. Companies will simply move to nations with more lax enforcement, further injuring the highly regulated nations and rewarding those with liberal allowances for emissions. By pouring money into research, perhaps something similar to the Manhattan Project but this time for energy production, governments and environmental groups can work to obsolesce fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Projects like FutureGen can help make fossil production much cleaner. This is the only way that emissions are going to be substantively cut. In addition, it would enhance US national security and be economically beneficial. Thumping morally superior chests and clamoring for draconian government anti-business mandates will solve nothing and only hurt those nations that buy into it.

Nuclear is currently the most feasible--it's cheap, removes dependency on foreign countries, and doesn't spit out any emissions. Although it is far off, nuclear fusion could plausibly provide an almost infinite amount of energy from a single source. Congress, with Bush's backing, has thankfully made some push to build more nuclear power plants in the US. Photovoltaics (solar), batteries, biodiesel, wind, and hydro are in play as well, although none of them are very competitive against fossil fuels at this juncture.


The numbers game is life or death (October 24 2005)

France recently instituted a eugenics program financed by the government. Well, sort of:

Middle-class mothers in France could be paid up to €1,000 (£675) a month - almost the minimum wage - to stop work for a year and have a third child under a government scheme to boost the birthrate, already among the highest in Europe.

France is in trouble.

In a Europe facing serious demographic decline, France's buoyant birthrate of 1.9 children a woman is well above the average of 1.4 and surpassed only by Ireland. France can also boast one of the EU's highest rates of female employment: 81% of women between 25 and 49 are in work, including 75% of those with two children (and 51% of those with more than two).
Indeed, all of the West is in trouble. The population replenishment rate is 2.1 children per woman. Who in the West (I am using the term broadly to encompass not only Western Europe, the US, and Canada, but also Australia, New Zealand, and Japan) is fecund enough to stop from shrinking? Using the list I just gave, the answer is no one. Here are the births-per-woman for some countries of interest:

US--2.08
Great Britain--1.66
France--1.85
Germany--1.39
Japan--1.39
Spain--1.28
Italy--1.28
Australia--1.76
New Zealand--1.79
Norway--1.78
The Netherlands--1.66
Iceland--1.92

The only country above replenishment that can legitimately be considered 'Western' is Israel, at 2.44 births per woman. But certainly that boon is coming from the less endowed Sephardic (Middle Eastern Jews) community and from miasmic Palestinians living in Israel rather than from the incredibly industrious Ashkenazi (European) Jews.

The notoriously proud French want more Frenchies. They could open up the floodgates to more Islamic immigration, but Europe is collectively shifting away from it's belief that all people are essentially the same. The brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh following a film critical of Islam, the London and Madrid terrorist bombings, the Turkish-German underclass, just to name a few, are hardening the Old Continent against its destructive post-modern liberalism. Turkey, which would open up a conduit for Middle Easterners to flood into Europe, is likely not going to be admitted to the EU.

The problem with falling birth rates in developed countries is accentuated by the fact that, like cancer, it will not be obvious until it's much too late. Population decrease trails birth rate drops by generations. Consequently, we'll have an absurdly high ratio of old-to-young before any actually numerical shrinkage occurs. And unless births per women get back up to replenishment in those listed countries, it will perpetually be that way.

Say there are 50 men and 50 women that dropped out of the sky as infants (total 100). Each live to 95 and give birth to one child (the women does) at age 30. Thus, after 30 years we have 150 people. Of those 50 newborns, 25 are men and 25 are women who will follow the same pattern. Thirty years later, we have 175 people total: 100 at age sixty, 50 at thirty, and 25 infants (population still growing).

Another 30 years, with the same birth cycles for our third generation (say 13 are women, 12 are men) and we now have 188 people total. But the age distribution is economically disastrous: 100 people are ninety, 50 are sixty, 25 are thirty, and 13 are infants. Supporting the people on top is smothering the younger generations, especially the 25 who are currnetly thirty years old.

The economic burden of supporting the senescent people makes it likely that they will have even fewer children than they did (relative to their parents). It's a vicious circle. This is where the West is today. Thirty years later the proportions are the same, but the population has finally started shrinking (because the largest first generation finally kicked the bucket): 50 people at ninety, 25 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and six infants (94 total people).

Now we are in free-fall. Thirty years later at the same births per woman, and we have only 47 people (25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 3 infants). If we do finally get our act (er, bodies) together, it takes generations for the momentum to actually shift. Let's say instead of plummeting, that last generation actually became thrice as fertile and had three kids per woman: 25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 9 infants (total 53). The next generation similarly has three children per woman: 13 at ninety, 6 at sixty, 9 at thirty, and 13 infants (total 41). Three generations into three-children women: 6 at ninety, 9 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and 20 infants (total 48). Four generations of birthing well above the replenishment rate, and we still have less people than we did at the height of the single-child generation.

This is where the West is headed. For the US, we are lucky that our brethren across the Atlantic are going off the precipice first. Bringing the third-world into the US may fix the problem but will breed one that is much worse--we will become a mosaic of low-IQed, culturally-backward special-interests groups fighting in a democratic spoils system for a short-lived bounty. Here's a better solution: Be a patriot. Marry a beautiful, intelligent woman (or man as it were), make lots of money, and churn out lots of kids.

Instead of spurriosly arguing that religiosity leads to pathology, intellectuals should be looking at how religiosity might actually be helping keep the US birthrate from plunging as far as others in Europe. Something has to be done now, before it's too late.

(Previous post)

The numbers game is life or death

France recently instituted a eugenics program financed by the government. Well, sort of.

Middle-class mothers in France could be paid up to €1,000 (£675) a month - almost the minimum wage - to stop work for a year and have a third child under a government scheme to boost the birthrate, already among the highest in Europe.

France is in trouble.

In a Europe facing serious demographic decline, France's buoyant birthrate of 1.9 children a woman is well above the average of 1.4 and surpassed only by Ireland. France can also boast one of the EU's highest rates of female employment: 81% of women between 25 and 49 are in work, including 75% of those with two children (and 51% of those with more than two).
Indeed, all of the West is in trouble. The population replenishment rate is 2.1 children per woman. Who in the West (I am using the term broadly to encompass not only Western Europe, the US, and Canada, but also Australia, New Zealand, and Japan) is fecund enough to stop from shrinking? Using the list I just gave, the answer is no one. Here are the births-per-woman for some countries of interest:

US--2.08
Great Britain--1.66
France--1.85
Germany--1.39
Japan--1.39
Spain--1.28
Italy--1.28
Australia--1.76
New Zealand--1.79
Norway--1.78
The Netherlands--1.66
Iceland--1.92

The only country above replenishment that can legitimately be considered 'Western' is Israel, at 2.44 births per woman. But certainly that boon is coming from the less endowed Sephardic (Middle Eastern Jews) community and from miasmic Palestinians living in Israel rather than from the incredibly industrious Ashkenazi (European) Jews.

The notoriously proud French want more Frenchies. They could open up the floodgates to more Islamic immigration, but Europe is collectively shifting away from it's belief that all people are essentially the same. The brutal murder of Theo Van Gogh following a film critical of Islam, the London and Madrid terrorist bombings, the Turkish-German underclass, just to name a few, are hardening the Old Continent against its destructive post-modern liberalism. Turkey, which would open up a conduit for Middle Easterners to flood into Europe, is likely not going to be admitted to the EU.

The problem with falling birth rates in developed countries is accentuated by the fact that, like cancer, it will not be obvious until it's much too late. Population decrease trails birth rate drops by generations. Consequently, we'll have an absurdly high ratio of old-to-young before any actually numerical shrinkage occurs. And unless births per women get back up to replenishment in those listed countries, it will perpetually be that way.

Say there are 50 men and 50 women that dropped out of the sky as infants (total 100). Each live to 95 and give birth to one child (the women does) at age 30. Thus, after 30 years we have 150 people. Of those 50 newborns, 25 are men and 25 are women who will follow the same pattern. Thirty years later, we have 175 people total: 100 at age sixty, 50 at thirty, and 25 infants (population still growing).

Another 30 years, with the same birth cycles for our third generation (say 13 are women, 12 are men) and we now have 188 people total. But the age distribution is economically disastrous: 100 people are ninety, 50 are sixty, 25 are thirty, and 13 are infants. Supporting the people on top is smothering the younger generations, especially the 25 who are currnetly thirty years old.

The economic burden of supporting the senescent people makes it likely that they will have even fewer children than they did (relative to their parents). It's a vicious circle. This is where the West is today. Thirty years later the proportions are the same, but the population has finally started shrinking (because the largest first generation finally kicked the bucket): 50 people at ninety, 25 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and six infants (94 total people).

Now we are in free-fall. Thirty years later at the same births per woman, and we have only 47 people (25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 3 infants). If we do finally get our act (er, bodies) together, it takes generations for the momentum to actually shift. Let's say instead of plummeting, that last generation actually became thrice as fertile and had three kids per woman: 25 at ninety, 13 at sixty, 6 at thirty, and 9 infants (total 53). The next generation similarly has three children per woman: 13 at ninety, 6 at sixty, 9 at thirty, and 13 infants (total 41). Three generations into three-children women: 6 at ninety, 9 at sixty, 13 at thirty, and 20 infants (total 48). Four generations of birthing well above the replenishment rate, and we still have less people than we did at the height of the single-child generation.

This is where the West is headed. For the US, we are lucky that our brethren across the Atlantic are going off the precipice first. Bringing the third-world into the US may fix the problem but will breed one that is much worse--we will become a mosaic of low-IQed, culturally-backward special-interests groups fighting in a democratic spoils system for a short-lived bounty. Here's a better solution: Be a patriot. Marry a beautiful, intelligent woman (or man as it were), make lots of money, and churn out lots of kids.

Instead of spurriosly arguing that religiosity leads to pathology, intellectuals should be looking at how religiosity might actually be helping keep the US birthrate from plunging as far as others in Europe. Something has to be done now, before it's too late.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Is global warming the ticket to a vacation in Greenland?

The question of whether humans are substantially contributing to global warming is still in the air, although most scientists believe humans bear at least some responsibility. Roughly a quarter of the world's oil is in the Arctic, yet oil likely requires animal and (especially) plant life to form. Obviously this oil did not materialize underneath an icy tundra. It was warm there at some point in time, long before any SUVs or Exxon-Mobil. It is only speculation as to whether or not humans are significantly affecting climate change, because the earth has been through warmer and more turbulent times than the less than one degree rise in average temperatures we've seen over the last few decades.

Also, let's be pragmatic. Of the 162 venerable countries that signed on to Kyoto, how many have met their obligations thus far? Would you guess a whopping three?! And two of those (Germany and France) have had stagnant economies. Pretty easy to keep emissions down when no one is producing any extra (the third country is Great Britain). Obviously China and India are concerned with economic growth, not limiting pollutants (unless of course it hurts economic growth, which is a problem in some places in India especially). No country (outside of Western European nations, which have an incredible threshold for economic self-destruction) is going to needlessly carry the ballast of forced restriction. Technological innovation is the ticket. Any negligible gains (reductions) in emissions are going to be more than negatively offset by the prodigious growth in these Asian giants (from the CSM):

"So much for Kyoto.

The official treaty to curb greenhouse-gas emissions hasn't gone into effect yet and already three countries are planning to build nearly 850 new coal-fired plants, which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce...

By 2012, the plants in three key countries - China, India, and the United States - are expected to emit as much as an extra 2.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to a Monitor analysis of power-plant construction data. In contrast, Kyoto countries by that year are supposed to have cut their CO2 emissions by some 483 million tons...

China is the dominant player. The country is on track to add 562 coal-fired plants - nearly half the world total of plants expected to come online in the next eight years. India could add 213 such plants; the US, 72."

What is often overlooked in this debate is that the developed world is much cleaner than the developing world. Better to have them modernize now and then become more green via market-driven efficiency.

Finally, global warming could be a boon rather than a disaster. Russia east of the Urals has around 8 million people (if memory serves) scattered over an area larger than the US. Canada's metropolitan areas are concentrated along its southern border--few people live in the north. Greenland is three times the size of Texas yet it has a population (~50,000) half the size of Green Bay. All this land is too frigid to live in now. Warmer temperatures will potentially open all of it up.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Speaking through Pat Buchanan

I am not that familiar with Pat Buchanan, but The Death of the West was a trenchant look at the danger the western (read civilized) world is in. Birth rates are below the replenishment rate in literally all of Western Europe, Canada, and Japan. The US is procreating just enough to keep the population constant in the long-term, although the numbers are inflated by higher birth rates among a growing Hispanic population. Here's a few highlights from the CIA factbook (2.1 births per woman is required to keep the population constant--more than that means growth, less means retraction):

US--2.08
Ireland--1.87
France--1.85
Australia--1.76
UK--1.66
Netherlands--1.66
Canada--1.61
Japan--1.39
Germany--1.39
Italy--1.28
Spain--1.28
Russia--1.27

The only country in all of the developed world that is not facing an aging, shrinking population? Israel, at 2.44 births per woman. I suspect, however, that a disproportionate amount of those come from Sephardic (middle eastern) Jews and Arabs. It is Ashkenazi (European) Jews, however, that have turned Israel from a desert into a blossoming diamond in the rough. Nihilistic humanism simply cannot sustain itself. If Greg Paul were not so tendentious and facile, he might have looked at how religion and birth rates are correlated, rather than making invalid comparisons across countries by neglecting to look at the ethnic makeup of the countries in comparison.

An interesting aside--fecund whites in the US are much more likely to vote Republican than are whites with few or no children. And kids tend to be ideologically similar to their parents. Consequently, the Republican Party will become increasingly white while the Democratic Party will similarly become increasingly non-white, as less successful Hispanics and blacks continue to look for help from the government. Asians are the wild card, although numerically they are small fraction of the total population and relatively insignificant.

Speaking of asides, I got off track. On Meet the Press last Sunday, Pat Buchanan said this about Bush's pick for Sandra Day O'Conner's vacancy on the Supreme Court:

MR. RUSSERT: ...the CIA leak case, the president didn't want another political fight?
MR. BUCHANAN: That is certainly speculation and surmise, and it may be true. Tim, but that shows a lack of understanding of politics. What you do in a time like this is pick a battleground on philosophy and principle and rally your troops and create political capital. This was a golden teaching opportunity, a golden political opportunity, and a golden opportunity in terms of the Supreme Court, and the president blew it.
I couldn't agree with you more, Pat! Two days before Buchanan went on Russert's show, I said this in Randall Parker's comments section:

Bush apparently has no sense of political self-preservation. As mentioned, his approval rating is at an all-time low. It's at the drone level now--the ~38% left are going to support him irrespective of what occurs. A fiercely conservative, perspicacious Bork-like nominee would have been a real galvanizer. The Pat Buchanan contingent would have rallied alongside the neocons along with the broader majority of the country that leans traditional. With today's media, Bork would have been confirmed, especially with a Republican House/Senate... There was a huge opportunity for Bush and he blew it.

Will Miers be the next Souter? I suppose the President believes he knows. Personally, I thought the unusually shrewd Janice Rogers Brown would have been fabulous. For one, intelligent blacks are relatively uncommon, and she is both a minority and female. Seeing the dopey far-lefties like Schumer and Kennedy try to pound on her after supposedly fighting so hard for "equal rights" would have been a blast.

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