June 18, 2012

"When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population."

"Actually, when it comes down to it — it's not how many mouths there are to feed, it's how much flesh there is on the planet."
It's sort of creepy to think of the planet as giant, collected mass of flesh, but... [t]he more you weigh, the more calories you need to move around and the more resources you use up in general. So, in that respect, the fatter you are, the more you tax the planet....
I've been on this topic for years, actually. Read my classic post: "If you really believed in global warming, you would turn off your air conditioning," which has a list of things people would do if they were serious about the environmentalism they preach. #1 is "Your weight should be at the low end of normal, indicating that you are not overconsuming the products of agriculture."

77 comments:

X said...

We would need 8 Earths if everyone was Al Gore sized.

rhhardin said...

Spirit puts a heavy load on the planet too.

It's not just flesh.

Look at NASCAR.

Robert Cook said...

Not that I preach environmentalism--although we are on a march toward societal disaster--but I do not even have air conditioning in my apartment.

elkh1 said...

I always believe those who so worry about the population growth and their wear and tear on the environment should off themselves first as an example. Imagine how much better the environment would be without their using the resources, taxing the planet.

rhhardin said...

You don't need air conditioning.

A fan is enough.

You do have to tell the dog not to lean on you in bed. The dog finds you comfortably cool, since dogs run 100.5 degrees F.

PatCA said...

It's just a hop, skip and a jump from this article to Obamacare refusing to treat fat people. And then on to other even less savory means of controlling fat.

Rabel said...

Any questions on this issue should be directed here:

Easy Pickin's

jimbino said...

And it follows that airlines should charge by weight or volume instead of by person. Big tall men have been given a long free ride by small short women.

Franklin said...

"Air conditioning in warm regions uses far less energy than heating in cold regions."

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/06/09/save-the-planet-get-out-of-vermont/

Rube said...

You may not need AC in wisconsin but I live in South Carolina. I cool more than I heat but I'll bet my annual utility bill is much less than anyone north of the Mason - Dixon line. So if you want to save energy, move south.

Shanna said...

If there are too many humans to live on earth, we will end up being wiped out by either disease or famine. The problem will be solved then!

Other than that, you're just worrying about hurting the feelings of the big rock we live on. Which is stupid.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Bugs contribute more to the weight of the biomass than people do. Therefore, we should kill as many as possible.... maybe by burning the rainforests?

Here's the thing-- Who are we to decide what is good biomass and what is evil biomass? If you don't believe in a creator, than why are you more morally responsible for your biomass than a beetle is?

And if you DO, then it's "Be fruitful and multiply."

The 'overpopulation' types are just trying to make their own deathwishes 'moral' instead of 'emo.'

Shanna said...

"Air conditioning in warm regions uses far less energy than heating in cold regions."

Thank you! It's all well and good to sit in Wisconsin saying people shouldn't use air conditioning or wear shorts.

EDH said...

A guy I know had experimental surgery because he couldn't get a liver transplant. They took out his stomach, most of his liver and rerouted most of his other vital organs.

Now he can eat only cheese, chicken and eggs for the rest of his life. A piece of pizza or hamburger would kill him.

Anyway, he was back on the road in 90 days and lost 145 pounds since, probably a little more than half his previous weight.

He showed me a picture, taken after the skin reduction surgery a year later, of his surgeon holding a 2' x 3' triangle of skin/flesh that had been removed; it weighed over 21 pounds. It had a hole where his navel used to be.

His skin/flesh was donated for transplant.

Molly said...

If you really believed in global warming and also believed that your consumption decisions should reduce your personal contribution to green house gasses, you would stop all air travel, especially international air travel.

Personally, I'm willing to give up lots of things I don't like: attending the ballet, playing golf, visiting my in-laws.

BarrySanders20 said...

The earth is massive. Humans are puny, even aggregated in our coastal enclaves.

This bit about excess flesh reveals the enviro-left's fascination with control. They might not pray to the money-god, but they sure worship the power-god.

Call their bluff with a "you first" campaign.

Brent said...

Please tell me again how accurate Stanford Professor Paul Erlich was with his predictions in "The Population Bomb" from 1968.

And there are people who still believe in that who are running our governments and institutions today, scientific evidence be damned.

The world is doing just fine thank you and can sustain another 3 - 5 billion easily. you may believe differently, but that's all you've got - belief, not proof, and certainly not science on your side.

So please keep your religious environtmentalist beliefs away from public policy.




Sigh . . . some reminded me recently of Einstein's comment: The difference between genius and stupidity is there are limits to genius.

Moose said...

It's called biomass Ann.

It's those pants that makes your biomass look big...

n.n said...

Yes, consuming to excess is a problem. However, so are policies which encourage converged migration and immigration. It is imperative that each administrative district (e.g. nation) conduct comprehensive exploitation of the resources (i.e. material, human) endowed to them.

Sigivald said...

Someone should remind them that wealth reduces population, and without any coercion at all.

The most "sustainable" future is one of cheap energy from atomic power, and robot workers, and a small population caused by the wealth effect on reproduction; richer people breed less.

But that's not luddite enough for 'em, nor does it involve compulsion, so it's not an option.

Hagar said...

So, seismosaurus et al. destroyed the planet, and we are not really here?

Robert Cook said...

"Who are we to decide what is good biomass and what is evil biomass? If you don't believe in a creator, than why are you more morally responsible for your biomass than a beetle is?"

Uh, maybe because we're conscious of the effects of our actions and beetles are not. Moreover, when we discuss "moral responsibility to the biomass," we're really saying, "We'd better change our ways or the blowback will bite our asses!"

In short, it's a matter of self-preservation of human society.

ricpic said...

The big lie here is that "the planet" is being taxed. The planet's carrying capacity is beyond our puny imagining. But go tell that to an egomaniacal lefty. In any case the agenda is about control of other humans not caring for "the planet."

edutcher said...

Different people require more AC than others.

If you're Celtic or Germanic in ancestry, you'll need that cool air a lot more than somebody whose forebears came from the Dodecanese.

Ann Althouse said...

It's sort of creepy to think of the planet as giant, collected mass of flesh

There are also the plants, the rocks, and the water.

BarryD said...

"In short, it's a matter of self-preservation of human society."

If that were anything but a steaming pile of bullshit, I would agree with you.

However, I wasn't born yesterday, I've studied the science behind this stuff, and I've seen decades of jeremiads come and go. It's pure, unadulterated bullshit.

That doesn't mean we should dirty up the place without a reason. We've come a long way in that area since this crap became trendy in the late '60s or early '70s -- "we" being western societies.

JAL said...

Dry your clothes outside on a line. Oh! Perish the thought!

It would *ruin* just *ruin* the neighborhood! There goes the ambiance!!

Another up side to that is that would encourage weight loss, as who wants others to see their size 20 / 46" undies on the line?

Does AlGore have a clothes line? Arianna Huffington? Barbra Streisand?

Sniff. *We* have a clothes line and there is nothing like sun for being a disinfectant.

JAL said...

I get weary from the knowitalls telling everyone how they must live because the skyisfalling.

Go. Away.

Please, can we vote them out of power and kill the czars (<--- figurative!! figurative!!). Soon.

And Sec. Chu -- we are roofing our house in green. Sorry dude.

Dust Bunny Queen said...


Sniff. *We* have a clothes line and there is nothing like sun for being a disinfectant.


That's all well and good in the spring and summer. The rest of the year we would have frozen stiff clothing with ice cycles hanging off of them. We would have to chip our clothes off of the line.

LOL

BarrySanders20 said...

JAL, no fair Chu-sing non-approved colors.

Hagar said...

From dudt you came and to dust you shall return.

This is bullshit.

Rusty said...

rhhardin said...
You don't need air conditioning.

A fan is enough.

You do have to tell the dog not to lean on you in bed. The dog finds you comfortably cool, since dogs run 100.5 degrees F.




No. You don't need air conditioning. I like air conditioning.
If I knew where the guy who invented air conditioning lived, I drive over to his house, give him a thousand dollars, "Here. this is for you." And give him a big hug.
That's how much I like air conditioning.
Don't get me started on flush toulets.

sleepless nights said...

Bottom line: the number one way to keep your carbon footprint low is to be poor - or mimic those who are which includes limiting your circumference of travel.

But to get out of poverty countries have to have energy to grow, like China, who is still building a coal plant a week and has now surpassed the US as the number one polluter.

I do not see any way around the basic prosperity=growth=energy=pollution. You can distribute the energy towards things more worthy than an economy based on of rich people tchotkes, but so far I don't see any way around the basic equation (other than nukes and we know the issues there.)

traditionalguy said...

Human flesh is miniscule and weight wise relatively to a mountain is nothing, or to a hurricain or a volcano makes a miniscule amount of heat

This is more Fantasy Science for the dumb and easily made to feel guilty marks that educated con-men are fooling 99% of the time using numbers.

Boo! Are you scared?

Man is using a tiny amount of the area and resources that our earth was designed for providing to the humans. Millions of times more of us will fit in easily.

X said...

I don't always use heat but when I do I don't burn home heating oil. Off to spray some beetles.

Moose said...

A few years back, I saw a study that showed that using modern building techniques we could house the entirety of the human race in an area the size of Texas.

What we're facing is not a population issue or an energy issue or a food issue. Yearly we throw out megatons of food even *before* it gets to our tables. What we're facing is an efficiency issue.

Companies, for instance don't produce waste because they're greedy or want to harm the planet - its just that it makes good financial sense. Our government then, in its wisdom, doesn't try to come up with cost effective ways to recycle this waste into viable usable raw materials - they just fine the companies and institute feel good recycling programs that make people happy.

We don't have manufacturing methods that embody the entirety of the production process. We just don't think that way.

heyboom said...

How did we humans become so powerful that we can destroy in a matter of a few years that which has survived for billions?

Amartel said...

I got by with a swamp cooler back in the day. Better than nothing.

How the environmentalists do despise the rest of humanity. Example: the comments at the article. It's like it's not THE environment, it's THEIR environment, and the rest of us are cluttering up THEIR environment.

BarrySanders20 said...

"The rest of the year we would have frozen stiff clothing with ice cycles hanging off of them. We would have to chip our clothes off of the line."

DBQ, that's how the Eskimos without clthes dryers dry their clothes. Hang them wet, let them freeze, and knock off the ice crystals. Moisture gone.

I prefer the downy goodness of the Kenmore gas dryer.

Synova said...

I sort of figure that all astronauts should be chosen from the pool of 5 foot tall women.

(Yes, this is self-serving, why do you ask?)

"Someone should remind them that wealth reduces population, and without any coercion at all."

That would require promoting industrialization and technological advancement and end up not portraying western civilization as the greatest evil.

"But that's not luddite enough for 'em,..."

Exactly. When there are too many of us there isn't enough to go around and people are skinny. When population is reduced due to advances in technology and industry we have more, and are fat.

There has to be a way to force the preferred, anti-human, solution.

Why moral? "Uh, maybe because we're conscious of the effects of our actions and beetles are not."

Except that no one actually suggests that untold billions of tons of beetles aren't a good and wonderful thing for the planet.

Only people are bad biomass.

bgates said...

When you want to save the earth by decreasing biomass, you decide to lose weight.

When you decide to lose weight, you don't eat as many chickens.

When you don't eat as many chickens, farmers don't need to raise as many chickens.

When farmers don't need to raise as many chickens, other farmers don't need to grow as much grain.

When other farmers don't need to grow as much grain, the fields grow weeds instead.

When fields grow weeds, insects eat the weeds, which means you still get biomass in the form of insects and weeds.

And when you want to eliminate weeds and insects to decrease biomass and save the earth, you have to cover the fields in poison.

Don't cover the fields in poison. Realize that eating doesn't spontaneously create biomass, and behave like a normal person.

Synova said...

"I do not see any way around the basic prosperity=growth=energy=pollution."

It's not a matter of getting *around* that, it's a matter of going *through* that.

And the issues with nuclear are morons who love a fright-fest more than reason.

Hagar said...

Well, the Good Lord does seem to have an inordinate fondness for beetles.

Robert Cook said...

"How did we humans become so powerful that we can destroy in a matter of a few years that which has survived for billions?"

We're not; we can't destroy the earth. We may succeed in destroying--not the human race--human society as it has come to be configured, leading to a harsher existence for the humans who will continue after us.

bagoh20 said...

I've never lived in a house with air conditioning. I keep my windows open 24/7 for about 10 months of the year. I use the fireplace for heat in winter by burning last year's home remodeling project. There always seems to be one.

JAL said...

DBQ -- I did hang clothes out in the winter when we lived where it was relatively cold ... and I hate to confess this, but part of my pioneering overseas living involved washing diapers by hand and freeze drying them. (Do not bow, it is not necessary.)

But I have also dried clothes inside in the winter by the stove. My young married daughter pre-dryer hung them around the bathroom.

We do have a dryer BTW, which I do use when I need to, but I'm fine with outside and it cuts our power bill.

The point isn't that our choice makes us superior, it is the utter hypocrisy (and / or stupidity) of the enviromental wackos.

And pre dryer -- Well, I was raised in the cold northeast, and dang of those people up there didn't dry their clothes somehow in the winter!! My dad got my mom one of the very first dryers on our block in the 1950s and I still grew up with the neighbors on both sides hanging their cloths out the window on a line to the nearby tree. Winter and summer.

Astro said...

Actually Instapundit linked a story back on June 10 saying if you really wanted to save the planet you'd "get out of Vermont." The linked study showed that the air-conditioner-using South uses less energy per year, overall, than any other part of the country, whereas the Northeast uses the most.

Save-the-planet-get-out-of-Vermont

Larry J said...

Amartel said...
I got by with a swamp cooler back in the day. Better than nothing.


Swamp coolers work very well in dry environments. In humid places, not so much.

Only people are bad biomass.

Precisely, because the more extreme environmentalists have species self-hatred.

Blue@9 said...

That's all well and good in the spring and summer. The rest of the year we would have frozen stiff clothing with ice cycles hanging off of them. We would have to chip our clothes off of the line.

LOL


Interesting. So after some inappropriate flirting you wouldn't need a cold shower-- just reach for a pair of frozen underwear.

Michael K said...

"Bugs contribute more to the weight of the biomass than people do. Therefore, we should kill as many as possible.... maybe by burning the rainforests?"

Bacteria are probably 30% of the weight of all biomass. Maybe 50%. They are deep in the earth making oil as we speak. They get everything in the end and make something else of it. The rusticles that are eating the Titanic are another example. Once we figure out how to use them to make stuff for us, we will all be rich.

PETER V. BELLA said...

More nonsense from pointy head intellectual idiots.

Synova said...

"We may succeed in destroying--not the human race--human society as it has come to be configured, leading to a harsher existence for the humans who will continue after us."

But at what point is the answer for this preemptively living a harsher existence *on purpose* in order to save us from what might happen?

I notice that the linked article is on one of the conglomeration of web-sites that includes Io9 which has the "we come from the future" slogan. I call it the "We come from the future, and the lights are out." corner of the internet.

JAL said...

"I do not see any way around the basic prosperity=growth=energy=pollution."

I don't know who Synova is quoting but they just don't get it.

Humans are incredibly creative and yet are so disrespected by the enviro wackos.

We have an amazing ability to problem solve. And Luddites need not apply.

JAL said...

And one more thing ...

If it weren't for air conditioning, the South would never have risen again. (Right, Tradguy?)

So the anti-airconditioning crowd are racists.

And we wouldn't be outsourcing to India.

So yeah, there would be no Slum Dog Millionaire movie, either.

wyo sis said...

It's coming folks. The last safe prejudice we have will be against fat people. All other prejudices are against a protected group of one kind or another. But FAT! Well, there's a group of people with no redeeming qualities and no reason to live! (In the interest of full disclosure, and for the benefit of those who'll show up to accuse me of being fat.) I'm not at the low end of the weight chart.)

Palladian said...

2 to 6 pounds of your body weight is bacteria.

ndspinelli said...

Fareed Zakaria had a very common sense enviromentalist on his show yesterday. Briefly, he considers all this green initiative just yuppie horseshit. This guy pushes water and air pollution improvements that actually saves people's lives in third world countries. I would send money to this guy.

Old Dad said...

Ok, I've got the ultimately sustainable model.

Whackos should eat themselves and eff themselves.

What could be more sustainable?

Maguro said...

Someone should remind them that wealth reduces population, and without any coercion at all.

You're missing the point, it's the coercion that's the real goal, not population reduction or weight loss or whatever it is that the environmentalists claim to be concerned about.

Saint Croix said...

I saw a study that showed that using modern building techniques we could house the entirety of the human race in an area the size of Texas.

Yes, that's right. It would be the equivalent of living in Tokyo.

We should think about this thread in connection with that baby who was murdered in China.

Stupid ideology = murder.

Eric said...

That's all well and good in the spring and summer. The rest of the year we would have frozen stiff clothing with ice cycles hanging off of them. We would have to chip our clothes off of the line.

I have read that even in the coldest climates you can still dry clothes on the line year round because of sublimation.

Cedarford said...

Deidre - "The 'overpopulation' types are just trying to make their own deathwishes 'moral' instead of 'emo.'"

No, when you have 13 million Haitians plus 3.8 million in "Diaspora" instead of the 1.48 million Haitians of 1900 - you have an overpopulation problem. Especially given the arable hand of Haiti can only feed 7 million. Egypt is another high-breeding country utterly tapped of water and arable land...40% of food is now imported for basic subsistence on largely Western and Saudi charity...and unemployment is 40%. Egypt is projected to double its population yet again in 38 years. Will the "Wealthy West and Saudis" feed that cohort?

========================
Brent - "The world is doing just fine thank you and can sustain another 3 - 5 billion easily. you may believe differently, but that's all you've got - belief, not proof, and certainly not science on your side."

Unfortunately, not true on either count. Ag experts, forestry people, and hydrologists well understand what are sustainable numbers for various regions of the world. Sustainable without further deterioration of watersheds, forests, salinification. Some regions are already well above sustainable popluation numbers. Of course the proponents of GROWTH!! will say another 10 billion are fine because that will stimulate economic growth and the countries with surplus ag capacity can just feed the 3rd World for free or --say---let 100 million surplus Pakistanis, 8 million more Haitians, and 40 million starving Africans into America because we can "carry" a population double our present one.
(But lots of Americans don't feel they have a moral duty to destroy their nation and culture in the name of 3rd World compassion)

Synova said...

I was quoting "sleepless nights" about halfway up the page.

And it's true enough that industrialization is dirty and modernizing pollutes, but the answer isn't to go all anti-progress on the world.

Without wealth people do not have the options to make more expensive but "greener" choices, they do not have the option to have fewer children (though tyrannical governments may drag you to the hospital and rip your seven month fetus from your body). The way to get to that place of privilege is *through* the dirty middle parts.

Going through the dirty middle parts means that we've got the luxury of expensive but utterly "clean" energy alternatives, such as nuclear or probably even anti-matter or other exotic things, so long as the anti-progress sorts don't get their way.

We'll figure out how not to be fat, too, simply because people don't enjoy being fat, if we're left well enough alone.

bagoh20 said...

Do we really have to take this to the extreme? Can't we just restrict the weight of the women. They don't want the jobs doing the heavy lifting, and fighting, so let's just keep them svelte. Then everyone is happy.

Eric said...

I once read a semi-serious proposal from a guy who said we should engineer people to be smaller. He figured we could still function with a height of between two and three feet.

Of course, we'd have to shrink the cats too.

Eric said...

And it's true enough that industrialization is dirty and modernizing pollutes, but the answer isn't to go all anti-progress on the world.

Indeed, environmentalism itself is a luxury of wealthy societies. In countries where people are worried about their next meal they don't spare a thought for next century's soil quality or whether it's moral to wipe out the Red Breasted Seed Eater.

Cedarford said...

Going by "being fat" as a indicator of resource consumption is not that valid.

1. Skinny Barack Obama is by far and away the single largest carbon consumer on the planet.

2. An American family of 4 consumes more food resources than an emaciated Haitian women and her 9 chilluns. She herself came from a family of 12 and two of her kids are already pregnant and she wants all 9 chilluns to have 9 chilluns of their own for Jesus to love.

What is the bigger problem? American lifestyle or a century of Haitian overbreeding?

3. While someone might be fat, they may consume less calories each day than the thin devoted exercise freak who bikes 50 miles a day and eats 3 heaping meals. Is it more "moral" to eat far more than a sedentary person as long as you have leisure activities that only enrich your life and not others lives that "burns off the extra carbs"?
Or would it be more "moral" to quit exercising and eat less because high breeders in East LA, Pakistan...will need the "excess American food"???

Synova said...

When talking about sustainability and "carrying capacity" and population one should always keep in mind that everything human ingenuity has come up with to feed the world is evil.

All good people advocate the least efficient ways to produce food in the scarcest amounts.

Can we clean the water we use or desalinate enough ocean water? Of course we can, if we are allowed to produce the wealth to support that without being shamed into politically induced "equality". Can we develop ever more ways to produce ever more food? Of course we can. We will not come to the end of sunlight, and we will not come to the end of water. Is there physical space for billions of more people to live? Absolutely.

Can we do any of that without changing anything or while enforcing rearward progress in the name of eating nothing but grass fed beef and vegetables grown in an a state of nature? No.

Larry J said...

o sis said...
It's coming folks. The last safe prejudice we have will be against fat people. All other prejudices are against a protected group of one kind or another.


Don't worry, it'll always be legal and fashionable to discriminate against white heterosexual men, skinny or fat.

Jay said...

Robert Cook said...
I do not even have air conditioning in my apartment.


I sit here (with my A/C set to 74 and ceiling fan on) utterly shocked you are one of life's losers.

Bruce Hayden said...

""When people think about environmental sustainability, they immediately focus on population.""

Well, whenever I hear about "environmental sustainability", I think about the necessity of thinning the population of environmental wackos.

Interesting to me though is that this attitude or belief of theirs seems to be counter-productive in the long run. Those most worried about this supposed problem are least likely to breed, and those most likely to breed, are least likely to be overly worried about this. Some sort of Darwinism, or, maybe a variant of Tarranto's Roe effect.

Much of this world is well on the way to ZPG, or worse. Apparently, the only reason that we don't have the demographic problems of Europe, Japan, and soon, China, is immigration (illegal or not). And, who in the advanced parts of the world are still having a lot of children? Those least likely to worry about environmental sustainability. Think Muslims in Europe, the Middle East, and into Asia, and some of the more backwards Roman Catholics who follow their Church's teachings less critically than most do here and in Europe.

Maybe this is how nature counter balances the survival advantages of increasing intelligence - that the smarter you get, the more you may be likely to think that man is destroying the Earth, and therefore, the less you breed.

kimsch said...

We haven't used our a/c for a couple of years since the dog kept peeing on the outside unit and it doesn't work. Even without a/c our electric bill is sky high - nearly $200. Our latest natural gas bill, on the other hand, was under $15.

Eric said...

It's coming folks. The last safe prejudice we have will be against fat people.

Especially fat Mormons.

traditionalguy said...

The Crisis du Jour is weak tea today.

Just pray that Bloomberg dosn't hear about how much salt is in the oceans but the oceans' salinity level manages to stay the same for billions of years. He will feel challenged to create a control system better than God did.

If all the salt in the oceans was moved ashore, it would cover the land to a height of 5 feet.

NaCl is poison in excess. Sea water cannot be consumed by man and live. The Dead Sea is full of salt from rivers, but the oceans are not out of balance like that. Why?

Now that is scary. Only 3% of the waters on earth can sustain human life. AND Wisconsin has way more than its share...I SAY OCCUPY AND REDISTRIBUTE TODAY, you brat eating fresh water hogs!

JAL said...

Bet Bloomberg doesn't know humans can't live without NaCl or glucose?

Ironic, huh.

jimspice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jimspice said...

So obviously, no one here has studied Rational Choice Theory.

Rusty said...

heyboom said...
How did we humans become so powerful that we can destroy in a matter of a few years that which has survived for billions?


We fucked up the universe?




Damn. We're good!


We'll figure out how not to be fat, too, simply because people don't enjoy being fat, if we're left well enough alone.

Except for Samoans. I think fat is a status thing with them. Anyway they got some huge people.