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Andrew D
2012-Jan-19, 04:28 PM
A new model computationally evaluates several explanations for the Fermi Paradox.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/01/extraterrestrial-intelligence

Rhaedas
2012-Jan-19, 08:04 PM
Even if every planet had intelligent life on it, each would have its own path of development. A real Drake's equation that took everything into consideration would be hugely complex, and we'd miss some other factors. And it would be as meaningless a number as what it gives now. It would also be heavily biased to what we expect to find. Until we actually start finding other life elsewhere, we only have one example of what's possible.

Nothing wrong with speculation, but that's all it is. We just don't have enough data to make actual calculations.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jan-19, 08:14 PM
Nothing wrong with speculation, but that's all it is. We just don't have enough data to make actual calculations.
I agree.
My question is what this model has that other models haven't in the past. What refinements or new information does it bring?

I think that 10% speed of light travel is a bold assumption.

JustAFriend
2012-Jan-19, 10:46 PM
And to talk of civiliztions lasting 50million years - even 250,000- is incredibly bold
when we have only had radio for a century and can't even get humans beyond low orbit.

I remember Sagan in one of his books putting us a .6 or .7 on the civilization scale,
so we're not even up to 1.0 yet. We certainly can't even deliberately send a probe
to another system, let alone build starships on a 500-year schedule, so it's highly
presumptuous to say what a galactic empire could or could not do.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-20, 12:28 AM
I agree.
My question is what this model has that other models haven't in the past. What refinements or new information does it bring?

I think that 10% speed of light travel is a bold assumption.

The 10% in the article was an error. The figure used in the model was 1%. Drakes equation gives a (shaky) estimate for the number of other civilizations. The model characterizes how a civilization grows in three dimensional space based on parameters like resource consumption and a population cap among other factors. Also, using the model the authors define a density function that gives the probability of contact within a given time of civilizations as a function of their initial distance and the parameters described above. I can email interested parties (PM me) a preprint of the paper in pdf form, it is currently under review for publication.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-20, 12:39 AM
And to talk of civiliztions lasting 50million years - even 250,000- is incredibly bold
when we have only had radio for a century and can't even get humans beyond low orbit.

I don't think it's bold at all. The civilizations in the model don't have to 'survive' in unity, that is, we're not interested in the probability that some species leaves its home and arrives here speaking the same language. We don't impose any restrictions on the colonies other than 'extant'.



...it's highly presumptuous to say what a galactic empire could or could not do.

Isn't that exactly what you're doing though, in saying they wont last?

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-20, 01:36 AM
Nothing wrong with speculation, but that's all it is. We just don't have enough data to make actual calculations.

Exactly. At this point it's a matter of throwing in whatever assumptions you like and going from there.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-20, 01:39 AM
Exactly. At this point it's a matter of throwing in whatever assumptions you like and going from there.

Isn't that what we call science? Speculation guided by natural principles? Then evaluation and "respeculation".

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-20, 01:44 AM
I don't think it's bold at all. The civilizations in the model don't have to 'survive' in unity, that is, we're not interested in the probability that some species leaves its home and arrives here speaking the same language. We don't impose any restrictions on the colonies other than 'extant'.


But the only civilizations we know about have life-spans of centuries, maybe millenia, if you assume optimistic definitions, and they're all strictly Earth based. Why are these civilizations expanding to other stars in the first place? What's their motivation? How much does it cost? Unless star travel is pretty cheap I would wonder why, if they can build a starship, don't they just build another habitat in their home system?

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-20, 01:45 AM
Isn't that what we call science? Speculation guided by natural principles? Then evaluation and "respeculation".

How do you evaluate it?

ETA: I mean how do unambiguously evaluate speculation in this area? I don't see how you can do much more than speculate.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-20, 02:22 AM
But the only civilizations we know about have life-spans of centuries, maybe millenia, if you assume optimistic definitions, and they're all strictly Earth based.

What do you mean by "assume optimistic definitions?"


Why are these civilizations expanding to other stars in the first place? What's their motivation? How much does it cost? Unless star travel is pretty cheap I would wonder why, if they can build a starship, don't they just build another habitat in their home system?

Why did we go to the moon? Why do we send probes into space? Why did Galileo drop things? Why do people buy expensive condos close to the beach when there are perfectly affordable homes inland? Why are you debating a paper you haven't read? These questions are of the same vain.


How do you evaluate it?

Are we speaking specifically about the model in question or the scientific process?

Rhaedas
2012-Jan-20, 02:28 AM
Why did we go to the moon? Why do we send probes into space? Why did Galileo drop things? Why do people buy expensive condos close to the beach when there are perfectly affordable homes inland?

They are human things to do. We can't necessarily assume that other civilizations, if they can even get to the points of scientific curiosity or exploration, will follow though.


Are we speaking specifically about the model in question or the scientific process?

His point was that how can you test a speculation of a particular variable in a Drake type equation when you have yet to collect any data to test. We will (hopefully)...we're a lot farther than we were even a few years ago on the planetary side, but that's only the beginning of a lot of parameters.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-20, 03:02 AM
They are human things to do. We can't necessarily assume that other civilizations, if they can even get to the points of scientific curiosity or exploration, will follow though.

Sure we can. We can then make predictions about how such a civilization might behave, we just have to acknowledge that the predictions we make are within the context of our assumptions (If you ready the last sentence of the article, it says: "Either that or the neighbours are a particularly timid bunch.") The paper doesn't actually contain any conclusions or feign any hypothesis about the existence of such civilizations, it evaluates some hypothetical solutions to the Fermi paradox which have been presented (in scholarly literature) with similar assumptions, and points out shortcomings in previous models of spatial emigration (mainly superfluous assumptions).


His point was that how can you test a speculation of a particular variable in a Drake type equation when you have yet to collect any data to test. We will (hopefully)...we're a lot farther than we were even a few years ago on the planetary side, but that's only the beginning of a lot of parameters.

The paper doesn't even mention the drake equation and offers no suggestion of how many extant civilizations there are. In no way does it evaluate, modify, or supersede the drake equation.

If you'd like to read what it does say, I'm happy to send you a copy, since you haven't read it. (And I'm the overspeculative one...)

astromark
2012-Jan-20, 03:09 AM
You can be a man of science and a optimist..

I see no immediate danger to humanity including from ourselves..

I can express optimistic advancement in all things... and do. My name is Mark Lee.

Don J
2012-Jan-20, 04:35 AM
And to talk of civiliztions lasting 50million years - even 250,000- is incredibly bold
when we have only had radio for a century and can't even get humans beyond low orbit.



That is true for a civilization based on money .Imagine the exponential advancement of science in a civilization not based on that limitative factor.

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-20, 06:03 AM
Sure we can. We can then make predictions about how such a civilization might behave, we just have to acknowledge that the predictions we make are within the context of our assumptions (If you ready the last sentence of the article, it says: "Either that or the neighbours are a particularly timid bunch.")


Okay, then the article makes it clear that the idea an interstellar civilization must expand throughout the galaxy is purely an assumption? As is the idea that civilizations would continue for 50 million years?

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-20, 06:17 AM
What do you mean by "assume optimistic definitions?"


Well, I've seen some definitions that count pretty much everything back to the earliest recorded history as part of the same civilization, while others might point to dramatic societal changes as indicating new civilizations: On one hand you might count a civilization as thousands of years old with one definition, or less then a century old with another definition. But however you do it, it's far short of the 50 million year number mentioned in the article.

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-20, 06:25 AM
Are we speaking specifically about the model in question or the scientific process?

I'm speaking about the set of assumptions they're using.

The article says, "Using what they believe to be conservative assumptions (as low as one chance in four of embarking on a colonising mission in 1,000 years), they calculated that any galactic empire would have spread outwards from its home planet at about 0.25% of the speed of light. The result is that after 50m years it would extend over 130,000 light years, with zealous colonisers moving in a relatively uniform cloud and more reticent ones protruding from a central blob. "

I see no reason to make these particular assumptions, or how you could usefully evaluate, with present data, an argument based on these assumptions versus an argument based on very different assumptions.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jan-20, 01:41 PM
Drakes equation gives a (shaky) estimate for the number of other civilizations.
I disagree. All the equation does is highlight the major factors that need to be taken into consideration when determing the result.

A lot of the items you mention are sub-equations of the civilization parameters, while density is part of the planetary parameters.
It's not the equation thats shaky, it's the assumptions leading up to it's parameters.

Don J
2012-Jan-20, 07:41 PM
But the only civilizations we know about have life-spans of centuries, maybe millenia, if you assume optimistic definitions, and they're all strictly Earth based. Why are these civilizations expanding to other stars in the first place? What's their motivation? How much does it cost?

How much does it cost?

It cost nothing for a civilisation not based on money .

NEOWatcher
2012-Jan-20, 07:52 PM
It cost nothing for a civilisation not based on money .
Cost is not exclusive to monetary issues. Cost in lives, resources, time, effort, etc.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-20, 08:50 PM
Okay, then the article makes it clear that the idea an interstellar civilization must expand throughout the galaxy is purely an assumption? As is the idea that civilizations would continue for 50 million years?

No, it doesn't necessarily expand. There some conditions under which the modeled civ. stops expanding, it's explained in detail in the paper.


Well, I've seen some definitions that count pretty much everything back to the earliest recorded history as part of the same civilization, while others might point to dramatic societal changes as indicating new civilizations: On one hand you might count a civilization as thousands of years old with one definition, or less then a century old with another definition. But however you do it, it's far short of the 50 million year number mentioned in the article.

This is ridiculous. This paper is not in the field of astrosociology, so I really don't care about the extraterrestrial social strata, and I certainly don't make any assumptions regarding the social characteristics of a civilization. We are looking at the growth of a probabilistic random graph on a three dimensional lattice which conveniently models the spatial dispersion of a growing network, in this case a moving civilization or self replicating probes, among many other physical processes. It also does this much better than any previous model of probabilistic growth. I could easily build a longevity parameter into the model, if it would make you happy. But it's not like you'd read that paper anyway, since it appears blog articles are all you require to be satisfied with your understanding of a topic under discussion.


I'm speaking about the set of assumptions they're using.

The article says, "Using what they believe to be conservative assumptions (as low as one chance in four of embarking on a colonizing mission in 1,000 years), they calculated that any galactic empire would have spread outwards from its home planet at about 0.25% of the speed of light. The result is that after 50m years it would extend over 130,000 light years, with zealous colonizers moving in a relatively uniform cloud and more reticent ones protruding from a central blob. "

I see no reason to make these particular assumptions, or how you could usefully evaluate, with present data, an argument based on these assumptions.

We actually don't make these particular assumptions, I don't know where the author got that. I didn't write the article, sorry. The value he is describing is a parameter in the model, and can be changed to any of infinitely many values. The reason the results are important is that they show the spread of colonization is linear and independent of this particular parameter.


...A lot of the items you mention are sub-equations of the civilization parameters

What items are you referring to specifically? What do you mean by "sub-equations of the civilization parameters"?


Cost is not exclusive to monetary issues. Cost in lives, resources, time, effort, etc.

We include limiting factors such as resource consumption and time cost in the model.

Again, if you want to read the paper, PM me and ill send you a copy. (Inbox is yet empty...)

IsaacKuo
2012-Jan-20, 10:17 PM
For what it's worth, I don't see any problem with this sort of scientific paper and modelling. So what if some of the hypotheticals are untrue? This is about making predictions based on hypotheticals, which in turn may help falsify or confirm those hypotheticals.

As for this particular paper and model, I'm not sure what is novel compared to previous growth models. Some factors that I wish were accounted for are stellar motion, vastly uneven star system value, vastly uneven stellar density, variations in desired star system resources, territorial factions, and warring factions.

Stellar motion is a big deal for models which purport to show dead ends or some ultimate limit to growth on gigayear scales.

Vastly uneven star system value relates to the fact that some star systems have many orders of magnitude more power or resources than others. Star systems with black holes or neutron stars offer cheap relativistic propulsion. Red dwarf systems are numerous and long lived. White dwarfs offer some interesting possibilities. Systems with warm jupiters or brown dwarfs offer inexpensive exploitation of oort cloud objects.

Vastly uneven stellar density relates to how star clusters offer large numbers of star systems within easy access, so they would be more promising places to expand to than elsewhere.

Variations in desired system resources relate to how self replicating probes may only be programmed to exploit particular resources, available only in some fraction of star systems or in interstellar space (interstellar space resources may be particular desirable for military probes, since they are stealthy). It may also relate to biological aliens only desiring planetary resources of a certain type.

Territorial factions relate to how a faction may not accept incursions of other factions into their general territory, even if the incursions are into unoccupied star systems. The above factors represent various reasons why a faction may leave gaps of unoccupied star systems. Add in territoriality, and these gaps may be purposefully enforced against incursions.

Warring factions are essentially similar to territorial factions, especially if there are three or more factions. With three or more factions, there's a strong incentive to maintain border neutral zones rather than actively fight rivals. Engaging in an active conflict tends to weaken both of the parties involved by draining them of fighting units and resources. This punishes the aggressor by making him vulnerable to the other parties. This gets into some complexities of game theory.

Those are the sorts of things I'd like to see in interstellar expansion models.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-20, 11:34 PM
These are all great suggestions, the only problem is computability. The computation time already grows as the number of colonies, which is polynomial, but still huge.


This gets into some complexities of game theory.

This is really where I would like to go next. The problem is that computing a payoff matrix for a few civilizations with more than a few dozen colonies each is not computationally feasible. Were running the computations using matlab on PC's, so were very limited by processing and memory. A 250,000 year model takes about 15 hours to compute, and that's if we limit the density a good deal.

kamaz
2012-Jan-21, 12:16 AM
I'm going to point out two problems with interstelalr expansion:

1. Supply chain. I don't know how the interstellar spaceship will work, but I do know that it will be made in some spaceshipyard, and that spaceshipyard will have suppliers, and these suppliers will have their suppliers, and so on -- because a spacecraft has a lot of different parts, and different parts require different expertise and machinery to fabricate. Problem is, you can't take all of this to another solar system. You will take some equipment, some people, and some basic knowledge -- enough to survive, but not enough to be able to build new spaceship once you get there. So once the colonists land, they will experience a technological regress. They will need between several hundrend to several thousand years to be able to build their own interstellar spacecraft. (Provided of course that they would be willing at all -- a completely new solar system will provide them with a lot of resources. It will take millenia before they start running out of space.) However, by the time they are capable of building an interstellar craft, the home world will have colonized all nearby targets by churning out mission after a mission, each one cheaper with the previous, and each one with more range than the previous (scale effect).

2. Communication. Samuel P. Huntington had a valid point by pointing out that humans currently have seven civilizations on the planet. These civilizations are generally separated by natural barriers (oceans, mountains, deserts). The reason is obvious: a civilization needs communication; if a group of people is split by some barrier into two groups, these groups will begin to diverge. Culture will diverge within decades, language within centuries, genetics within millenia. Without FTL, interstellar distances are an obstacle to communication -- sufficient to cause a colony civilization to diverge from the mother world. By the time the colony (re-)learns how to build interstellar crafts, it will be a wholly different culture, speaking a different language, and, to use an old SF cliche, their spacecrafts will look nothing like our spacecrafts. The colony population may even become genetically distinct, because living on other world will cause different selection pressures. Once they go to the neighboring world to meet their kin, they both will see each other as aliens.

kamaz
2012-Jan-21, 12:35 AM
Were running the computations using matlab on PC's, so were very limited by processing and memory. A 250,000 year model takes about 15 hours to compute, and that's if we limit the density a good deal.

Ouch. Some hints:

1. If running out of memory, make sure you're not swapping. Swapping slows you down by a factor of 1000.
2. MATLAB interpreter is glacially slow when doing loops. Instead of looping, vectorize inner loops. If you can't, rewrite inner loops in C and compile as MEX files.
3. See if you can paralellize the problem to run on several cores at once.
4. If the problem is paralellizable, and you have money, consider using Amazon EC2. E.g. if your model takes 100 hours to run on a PC, use EC2 to simultanously run 100 virtual machine instances and get the results in one hour.

Don J
2012-Jan-21, 04:24 AM
I'm going to point out two problems with interstelalr expansion:

1. Supply chain. I don't know how the interstellar spaceship will work, but I do know that it will be made in some spaceshipyard, and that spaceshipyard will have suppliers, and these suppliers will have their suppliers, and so on -- because a spacecraft has a lot of different parts, and different parts require different expertise and machinery to fabricate. Problem is, you can't take all of this to another solar system. You will take some equipment, some people, and some basic knowledge -- enough to survive, but not enough to be able to build new spaceship once you get there. So once the colonists land, they will experience a technological regress. They will need between several hundrend to several thousand years to be able to build their own interstellar spacecraft.
That problem can be easely solved.
If they send 100 spaceships to the targeted solar system that they want to colonize,then they dont need to build new spaceships and they are ready to expand to another solar system once the new colony is well established.

Robert Tulip
2012-Jan-21, 05:14 AM
A new model computationally evaluates several explanations for the Fermi Paradox.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/01/extraterrestrial-intelligence

Hi Roobydo - I read your paper and the Economist review. 0.25% of the speed of light, your estimate figure for civilizational expansion, is 2.7 million kilometers per hour. This is an extremely fast speed. Why don't you do the calculation with a more realistic speed, say 10,000 km/h?

Just say we stabilized our planet and managed to have a thousand years of peace so we could then start to look at expansion. If we then gradually colonised the solar system over the next million years, we might then be able to build an asteroid that could leave the solar system at such a speed. To travel one light year at 10,000 km/h would take over 100,000 years, so we could reach Sirius in less than a million years. To fill the galaxy at this speed would take longer than the life of the universe (15 billion years).

Assuming an ability to travel between stars at millions of kilometers per hour seems speculative. If only slower speeds are possible, the frontier of alien civilizations would leave far bigger holes.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-21, 05:58 AM
Hi Roobydo - I read your paper and the Economist review. 0.25% of the speed of light, your estimate figure for civilizational expansion, is 2.7 million kilometers per hour. This is an extremely fast speed. Why don't you do the calculation with a more realistic speed, say 10,000 km/h?

Just say we stabilized our planet and managed to have a thousand years of peace so we could then start to look at expansion. If we then gradually colonised the solar system over the next million years, we might then be able to build an asteroid that could leave the solar system at such a speed. To travel one light year at 10,000 km/h would take over 100,000 years, so we could reach Sirius in less than a million years. To fill the galaxy at this speed would take longer than the life of the universe (15 billion years).

Assuming an ability to travel between stars at millions of kilometers per hour seems speculative. If only slower speeds are possible, the frontier of alien civilizations would leave far bigger holes.

Literature says that civilizations could be millions of years older than us. Think of our technological progress in just the last hundred years. Voyager is leaving us at 61000 km/h. The speeds may be optimistic but I don't think they're unrealistic.

ETA: The model shows that the size of the holes depends mostly on the limiting value and not on travel time. The voids are emergent from resource consumption or other limiting factors, not including travel time.

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-21, 08:17 AM
Literature says that civilizations could be millions of years older than us.


What literature? Based on what evidence?


Think of our technological progress in just the last hundred years. Voyager is leaving us at 61000 km/h. The speeds may be optimistic but I don't think they're unrealistic.


But again, without knowing where technology will go, it's all speculation at this point.

Van Rijn
2012-Jan-21, 09:01 AM
I could easily build a longevity parameter into the model, if it would make you happy.


The issue is that it is an *assumption*. How do you, for instance, differentiate between long lived but not terribly expansive civilizations versus civilizations that just die out?



But it's not like you'd read that paper anyway, since it appears blog articles are all you require to be satisfied with your understanding of a topic under discussion.


You linked to the article. If it didn't properly represent your argument, some clarification would have been helpful. My concern is that, from the article, it sounded like the argument was very similar to ones I've already read (and no, not just blog entries) that make too many untestable assumptions.

But I'm not against reading your article. Is there a download location?

Robert Tulip
2012-Jan-21, 09:32 AM
Literature says that civilizations could be millions of years older than us. Think of our technological progress in just the last hundred years. Voyager is leaving us at 61000 km/h. The speeds may be optimistic but I don't think they're unrealistic.

ETA: The model shows that the size of the holes depends mostly on the limiting value and not on travel time. The voids are emergent from resource consumption or other limiting factors, not including travel time.

I don't get this. You use a speed 45 times faster than Voyager, and then talk about 50 million years as a realistic age for an alien civilization. If you were conservative in your estimates, you would use the Voyager speed, but that would mean the time required to fill the galaxy would be two billion years, which is a very long time. Assuming a speed of C/400 makes it look like science fiction. Why does the size of the hole not depend mainly on travel time?

Andrew D
2012-Jan-23, 06:42 PM
What literature? Based on what evidence?



But again, without knowing where technology will go, it's all speculation at this point.

The literature is cited in the paper. Of course its speculation, all science is to some extent, but its guided speculation.

whimsyfree
2012-Jan-23, 11:06 PM
But the only civilizations we know about have life-spans of centuries, maybe millenia, if you assume optimistic definitions, and they're all strictly Earth based.


The last bit might be a clue that your sample is unrepresentative. I'm not sure what you mean by civilization but when people talk about alien civilizations I think they really mean alien species. The human species has been intelligentish for at least 1e5 years. If you mean civilizations in the historical sense, well the Chinese and Western civilizations both claim to have origins well over 2,000 years ago and they're both still going, more or less.


Why are these civilizations expanding to other stars in the first place? What's their motivation? How much does it cost? Unless star travel is pretty cheap I would wonder why, if they can build a starship, don't they just build another habitat in their home system?

That's a good question. The reasons could be metaphysical (e.g. desire to propagate life through the cosmos), but they are extremely hard to quantify. Attributing such motivations to intelligent aliens might seem condescending, but arguably much of the motivation for our space programs so far has been metaphysical. A more animal motivation is resource deprivation. Most animals will broaden their range when they find resources scarce. Eventually the materials needed to build new habitats will become scarce or the energy source used to power them fully exploited. The problem with this explanation is that interstellar travel is likely to be a very resource intense activity. If you're already short of resources investing in an interstellar spacecraft may be hard to justify, and be of no appreciable benefit to the population paying for it.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-24, 05:26 AM
The issue is that it is an *assumption*. How do you, for instance, differentiate between long lived but not terribly expansive civilizations versus civilizations that just die out?

These are not blind assumptions; we can adjust parameters and evaluate the model at any value in their range. Proclivity to emigrate is a parameter, so we can adjust how not terribly expansive a model civ is. We do not model civilizations which just die out, every colony emigrates or does not each iteration based on a probabilistic parameter, so it is possible for a colony to fail to emigrate, which you can interpret as dying out if you wish.



You linked to the article. If it didn't properly represent your argument, some clarification would have been helpful. My concern is that, from the article, it sounded like the argument was very similar to ones I've already read (and no, not just blog entries) that make too many untestable assumptions.

But I'm not against reading your article. Is there a download location?

The article author oversimplified, as they always do, and made a few errors. If I would have known the majority of replies were going to be uninformed critiques by members who had no interest in reading the actual paper I would not have posted at all. I have to say that lesson is learned. PM me and I'll email it to you, it's not yet available for download. You have to understand, the paper is an evaluation of several hypothesis based on a realistic emigration algorithm, there are no three dimensional computational models in the literature. If you're referring to Landis, then we go into great detail about the shortcomings of that model, not including that he did not publish his algorithm or code or any three-dimensional images obtained from his "three dimensional" model. We intentionally avoid making some global assumptions in previous models. The only assumptions we make are that 1) a civilization will travel to the closest of a number of equally desirable systems 2) A civ with limited resources will limit their population density. The second assumption is soft, the maximum density is a parameter, so we can change it to a whole neighborhood and avoid it all together.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-24, 05:53 AM
I don't get this. You use a speed 45 times faster than Voyager, and then talk about 50 million years as a realistic age for an alien civilization. If you were conservative in your estimates, you would use the Voyager speed, but that would mean the time required to fill the galaxy would be two billion years, which is a very long time.

Oh please, it took 75 years to get from kittyhawk to Voyager. As for the maximum age of a civilization, and I've already said this, we don't offer any sort of definition for what a civilization is, our interest is in the probability of a path between two distant systems.

With that said, it's quite sad how many objections I've gotten on this site to long-lived civilizations. I think you'll find that the scientific community is much more optimistic than BAUTforum. You might even say that your pessimism is ATM...


Why does the size of the hole not depend mainly on travel time?

Travel time was a parameter in the earlier versions, but it was a waste of processing; we've just built it into the interpretation of an iteration of the algorithm. Think about it, travel time didn't change how the civ grows (ie voids), only how fast it grows. If we held the other parameters constant and changed travel time, the same shapes would be apparent, they would just grow faster or slower. To get holes you need some sort of density limiting parameter, and even then the big holes mostly close up over time.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-24, 06:14 AM
...but that would mean the time required to fill the galaxy would be two billion years, which is a very long time. Yes, it is. However, the astrobiological literature says it has been possible for intelligent life to emerge within the galaxy anytime in the last five billion years, so that still gives a three billion year leeway even at Voyager speeds, which you know are far too slow.

Robert Tulip
2012-Jan-24, 12:23 PM
Hello Roobydo, I confess I might be a bit of a dummy, but I just did not get in your paper why an expanding alien civilization needed such a complex lattice algorithm to model its growth. Why not just a simple expanding sphere? Surely, if they were, say, on Sirius, they could tell which nearby stars would be prospective, and would check them out without leaving big random Swiss Cheese holes in their empire? Especially if they had millions or billions of years to decide where to go, and could zoom around at millions of miles per hour.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-24, 01:05 PM
Hello Roobydo, I confess I might be a bit of a dummy, but I just did not get in your paper why an expanding alien civilization needed such a complex lattice algorithm to model its growth. Why not just a simple expanding sphere? Surely, if they were, say, on Sirius, they could tell which nearby stars would be prospective, and would check them out without leaving big random Swiss Cheese holes in their empire? Especially if they had millions or billions of years to decide where to go, and could zoom around at millions of miles per hour.

We wanted to specifically evaluate Landis' hypothesis, which was that was that the clusters are grossly un-spherical and full of huge voids. Based on his models, we knew that it was possible for random graphs to take shapes indeed not spherical, so we intentionally introduced a parameter to cause the same phenomenon. We found that over time and the whole range of the parameter, the voids were much smaller than those reported by Landis (because of global assumptions he makes), so the shape is mostly spherical within a realistic range of parameters. The model shows that despite the shape, the radial growth is the same.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jan-24, 01:27 PM
Oh please, it took 75 years to get from kittyhawk to Voyager.
But that is due to technological limits, not physical limits. Eventually the technology is going to be bumping into physical limits and stop growing.
It took 44 years to go from Kittyhawk (actually Kill Devil Hills - the gliders were in Kittyhawk) to the first supersonic flight.
And only about 15 years later we reached mach 6.
Now, about 40 years after that, we are stuck around mach 3 for production craft and only mach 9+ with experimental aircraft.

Eventually; the energy needed for such speeds in space is going to be prohibitive.

Andrew D
2012-Jan-24, 07:02 PM
Eventually; the energy needed for such speeds in space is going to be prohibitive.

I agree, but I don't think c/100 is out of reach for a civilization capable of undertaking interstellar emigration on a large scale, which is what were talking about. The physical barriers of atmospheric flight are much different than for spaceflight, as you know, and I agree, the amount of energy needed to accelerate a large vessel to c/100 is staggering. However, we're really talking about civilizations who are capable of staggering energy use, civilizations which could be hundreds of thousands or millions of years old when they begin emigration.

The model can alternately be thought of as a search algorithm for self-replicating probes, so powered spaceflight concerns become less profound, but the results maintain validity.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jan-25, 10:30 AM
Maybe it's in your paper, but it's not clear how many ships are sent and how often. I get that you're claiming 500 years from landing to launching a new ship, but does the new planet only launch one ship? It would seem to be to be a simple economic extrapolation, even for aliens, that economies of scale are more efficient. So, to quote a line from S.R. Haddon in "Contact", "Why build one when you can have two for twice the price?". I'd expect that the alien homeworld instead of launching 1 ship every 500 years might be just as likely to launch 500 ship in 1 year, every year, for hundreds to millions of years. If they can survive 500 years enroute, then how it would seem to suggest that recycling technology is robust enough to last even longer. This is why my standard reply to the start-stop-hop model of expanding galactic civilizations is to essentially plot a single route from the homeworld to the farthest edge of the galaxy and call this the nominal expansion timeframe, give or take a few years (there may be dropouts, but there's an unending stream coming up behind in short order).

Andrew D
2012-Aug-06, 03:48 PM
"I am pleased to tell you that your revised manuscript entitled "Spatial dispersion of interstellar civilizations: a probabilistic site percolation model in three dimensions" has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Astrobiology in its current form."

I know that BAUTers think they have a grip on things. I know that they spend a great deal of time reading popular science publications and science news, and have learned many things from that reading. But until you are able to abandon everything you already know, you will never really learn a thing.

Swift
2012-Aug-06, 07:58 PM
I know that BAUTers think they have a grip on things. I know that they spend a great deal of time reading popular science publications and science news, and have learned many things from that reading. But until you are able to abandon everything you already know, you will never really learn a thing.
Congratulations on your paper, but that comment is borderline insulting. Do not make assumptions about what other members may or may not know or believe. Some members here probably do spend time reading popular science publications, other members spend time writing science textbooks and publications; don't dismiss their knowledge as just gleaned from the popular press.

TooMany
2012-Aug-06, 11:02 PM
Let's suppose life is common, that evolution commonly leads to intelligent forms and that such intelligent forms develop a sophisticated technology such that interstellar travel is feasible. Then the galaxy could already be entirely "colonized" by self-reproducing "robotic" ships. (It is highly unlikely that our civilization would be the first to be capable of interstellar travel.)

Would alien life (or it's non-biological extension) actually try to "colonize" the galaxy?

It can be argued that mindless life forms always fill a system so long as resources are available. In fact, humanity currently acts as mindless life form. We are unable to control our population and our consumption and destruction of available resources. (I think it's very likely that the world is already overpopulated and that there is a real possibility of another collapse of world civilization.)

In our way of thinking, the only meaningful goal for humanity is to continually grow and to populate and dominate the galaxy. And yet, given the assumptions above, some other alien civilization should have already done this.

I suspect that the assumptions about life and interstellar travel are true. So it seems to me that a sufficiently advanced civilization either does not have the desire to colonize the galaxy or is prevented from doing so by a dominating civilization.

I can't rule out the possibility that an interest in other planetary systems exists, but if it does, then this interest is expressed without disturbing civilizations like our own (as in the Star Trek prime directive).

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-07, 01:49 AM
It can be argued that mindless life forms always fill a system so long as resources are available. In fact, humanity currently acts as mindless life form. We are unable to control our population and our consumption and destruction of available resources. (I think it's very likely that the world is already overpopulated and that there is a real possibility of another collapse of world civilization.)I think you confuse lack of unitary control for lack of endeavor. Humanity has been controlling it's population through birth and death rates for millenia.

Andrew D
2012-Aug-07, 04:49 AM
Congratulations on your paper, but that comment is borderline insulting. Do not make assumptions about what other members may or may not know or believe. Some members here probably do spend time reading popular science publications, other members spend time writing science textbooks and publications; don't dismiss their knowledge as just gleaned from the popular press.

I didn't mean to sound arrogant, just the opposite: I don't suppose I know more than them, but rather far less. My point is that their conviction to what they already know (what assumptions can and can't be made, how things are etc.) should be minimized for the sake of progress. My point is that in this thread people were quick to say "this can't be" and slow to say "can this be?" This is the opposite of science. I know that in reality, the model is certainly mostly wrong. And so was Bohr's.

caveman1917
2012-Aug-07, 11:50 AM
I didn't mean to sound arrogant, just the opposite: I don't suppose I know more than them, but rather far less. My point is that their conviction to what they already know (what assumptions can and can't be made, how things are etc.) should be minimized for the sake of progress. My point is that in this thread people were quick to say "this can't be" and slow to say "can this be?" This is the opposite of science. I know that in reality, the model is certainly mostly wrong. And so was Bohr's.

Is this the paper based on that strategy game you worked on? If so, it's really cool you made it into a scientific paper that got accepted for publication.

Swift
2012-Aug-07, 12:48 PM
I didn't mean to sound arrogant, just the opposite: I don't suppose I know more than them, but rather far less. My point is that their conviction to what they already know (what assumptions can and can't be made, how things are etc.) should be minimized for the sake of progress. My point is that in this thread people were quick to say "this can't be" and slow to say "can this be?" This is the opposite of science. I know that in reality, the model is certainly mostly wrong. And so was Bohr's.
I have the opposite opinion. Science is all about questioning assumptions that go into one's model.

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-07, 02:00 PM
(I think it's very likely that the world is already overpopulated and that there is a real possibility of another collapse of world civilization.)
In your view, when was there a previous collapse of world civilization? I apologize if this question sounds too obvious to you, but it honestly is not obvious to me. I don't think there ever was any collapse of world civilization. There have been some regional empires which have collapsed, of course, but even those didn't involve a civilization collapse--not even within their borders.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-07, 08:02 PM
In your view, when was there a previous collapse of world civilization? I apologize if this question sounds too obvious to you, but it honestly is not obvious to me. I don't think there ever was any collapse of world civilization. There have been some regional empires which have collapsed, of course, but even those didn't involve a civilization collapse--not even within their borders.

I haven't read the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, but it sounds like a collapse from what I recall from Western Civ. Sure, life went on and it even had rules and government, but I wouldn't call it the same civilization. And while it may seem like the collapse of world civilization to locals, I agree it wasn't planetary in scope. I'd also like to know what TooMany's response to you is.

Van Rijn
2012-Aug-07, 09:12 PM
I have the opposite opinion. Science is all about questioning assumptions that go into one's model.

Which is what I was doing. From the article linked in the OP, there appeared to be a lot of assumptions being made for this argument. That makes it a highly speculative argument. I have no problem with speculation as long as it is clearly stated to be speculation.

neilzero
2012-Aug-07, 10:08 PM
Attempting to model off Earth civilizations is very speculative. It seems to me that a spire instead of a sphere, will be procedure for the first 10,000 years. We pick Centari A as the destination, and aim our spire where we think it will be in 10,000 years. We build several large manned craft that cruise the inner solar system for several years, doing sling shot maneuvers which boost their speed from average 5 million miles per year to 100 million miles per year. That is almost too fast, I think, to do a Jupiter sling shot maneuver, but we do it successfully and pass Neptune's orbital distance a few years later at 101 million miles per year. This is quite hyperbolic so we will average 100 million miles per year with respect to Centari A for the next 1000 years, as our Sun's gravity is quite weak beyond Neptune's orbit. The speed with respect to Earth or things in our solar system is unimportant as we are leaving. More craft do much the same about once per year, some achieving a bit more than 100 million miles per year up the spire towards Centari A. The faster craft will pass the slower craft in a few years to many centuries. At this time the slower craft transfers energy to the faster craft (perhaps with laser beams) allowing the faster craft to increase its speed to perhaps 102 million miles per hour. That isn't much, but done thousands of times we will have one (or a few) craft traveling perhaps 0.01% of C which will reach Centari A in 43,000 years. Most of the craft will be in serious distress many times in this long a period, so they will sometimes be taken in tow by a craft that is just barely passing them. This likely is not difficult and almost doubles the resources improving the probability of some live travelers in another century or two. These are of course generation ships with small crews.
More craft start up the spire approximately anually for 10,000 years or more. The improved technology craft typically pass the lower tech craft of previous centuries, but can still get an energy transfer from the slower craft if it has working systems to produce energy after many centuries. If this strategy works and a few survive near Centari A to build a civilization there, continuing with a working spire makes far more sense than starting a new spire. We may not know back home that the Centari A civilization is a success for many centuries as the long distance comunication system will have died of old age, and the survivers will be too occupied with surviving to learn how to retrofit the long range communications system. Logically, when, and if, the Centari A civilizations are able to launch there own generation ships they will launch in close to the opposite direction that they came from (thus continuing the spire for craft that arrive later and may not have sufficient energy etc to decellerate for a landing = swish right though the Centari A system. Another reason for continuing the spire, long term, is most of the crews enroute will die out, horribly, without occasional assistance from the newer passing craft. QED: spires not sphere. Neil

Noclevername
2012-Aug-07, 11:39 PM
Most of the craft will be in serious distress many times in this long a period, so they will sometimes be taken in tow by a craft that is just barely passing them. This likely is not difficult...[snip]

Unless you have unobtanium-strength towing ropes, yes, it would be very difficult. Even at velocity differences of a few MPS, we're talking about truly masssive objects if they can contain enough life support for 43,000 years. Maybe they could shoot capsules of resources to each other with mass drivers, but towing? No.

neilzero
2012-Aug-08, 01:26 AM
I'm glad you mentioned 43,000 years as I can imagine how angry the children will be if they are told there is maybe one year of disgusting supplies left, and estimated 43 years untill landing at Centauri terminal. They definately need to think more supplies than they will likely need. I did infer that technology advances might cut the trip time to 10,000 years for a few of the craft.
If the craft can exchange energy, then correcting for a few meters per second speed difference should be fairly easy (Minor direction differences may be extremely difficult, especially at 0.01% of c) even if both one million ton craft have few operational systems, which is likely after a few centuries. For a few kilometers per second, I agree, no way, even if they have invented the tractor beam. I did say SOMETIMES they would take them in tow. Obviously the spire is total insanity until we have at least a few more technological advances. Neil

JustAFriend
2012-Aug-08, 01:36 AM
Voyager is leaving us at 61000 km/h. The speeds may be optimistic but I don't think they're unrealistic.

And the Voyagers, the best and fastest we could build, only weigh 1500lbs with only 200lbs of scientific equipment.
No payload.
No working drive.
No way to slow down.
No guidance.
By the time they even get to the middle of the Oort Cloud they will be cold and very very dead.

(I'm not saying we won't ever leave the Solar System, but too many people throw around the 'it can't be that hard to build a starship' from watching too much sci-fi.)

Andrew D
2012-Aug-08, 05:23 AM
Is this the paper based on that strategy game you worked on? If so, it's really cool you made it into a scientific paper that got accepted for publication.

If only. Just the opposite. I noticed that the algorithm made incredibly interesting 3d structures that work great as "star maps," especially after randomly assigning a few resources to each node. I have thought that automating play or analyzing play between human players might shed light on competition strategies in randomly connected networks, but I've been working on some complex analysis and recurrence relations and just haven't gone back to it.

Andrew D
2012-Aug-08, 05:55 AM
I have the opposite opinion. Science is all about questioning assumptions that go into one's model.

You misunderstand. I agree with your sentiment, which is the source of my frustration. Yes, question; but only with due diligence to the established literature. I insisted that assumptions were based on established literature that most of the discussion-contributors had not read (only one or two asked for the paper with references). This did not deter many early contributors from assuming that the assumptions were silly. In turn, they did not deter me from assuming that the early contributors were silly. The assumptions that the early contributors found silly were judged adequate by sitting professors who dedicate countless hours to the study of Astrobiology. So, as I had insisted, the early contributors were making silly assumptions of what we were assuming from a blog article, as I assume they had not read the literature necessary to adequately judge our assumptions.

Andrew D
2012-Aug-08, 06:01 AM
For what it's worth, I don't see any problem with this sort of scientific paper and modelling. So what if some of the hypotheticals are untrue? This is about making predictions based on hypotheticals, which in turn may help falsify or confirm those hypotheticals.

As for this particular paper and model, I'm not sure what is novel compared to previous growth models. Some factors that I wish were accounted for are stellar motion, vastly uneven star system value, vastly uneven stellar density, variations in desired star system resources, territorial factions, and warring factions.

Stellar motion is a big deal for models which purport to show dead ends or some ultimate limit to growth on gigayear scales.

Vastly uneven star system value relates to the fact that some star systems have many orders of magnitude more power or resources than others. Star systems with black holes or neutron stars offer cheap relativistic propulsion. Red dwarf systems are numerous and long lived. White dwarfs offer some interesting possibilities. Systems with warm jupiters or brown dwarfs offer inexpensive exploitation of oort cloud objects.

Vastly uneven stellar density relates to how star clusters offer large numbers of star systems within easy access, so they would be more promising places to expand to than elsewhere.

Variations in desired system resources relate to how self replicating probes may only be programmed to exploit particular resources, available only in some fraction of star systems or in interstellar space (interstellar space resources may be particular desirable for military probes, since they are stealthy). It may also relate to biological aliens only desiring planetary resources of a certain type.

Territorial factions relate to how a faction may not accept incursions of other factions into their general territory, even if the incursions are into unoccupied star systems. The above factors represent various reasons why a faction may leave gaps of unoccupied star systems. Add in territoriality, and these gaps may be purposefully enforced against incursions.

Warring factions are essentially similar to territorial factions, especially if there are three or more factions. With three or more factions, there's a strong incentive to maintain border neutral zones rather than actively fight rivals. Engaging in an active conflict tends to weaken both of the parties involved by draining them of fighting units and resources. This punishes the aggressor by making him vulnerable to the other parties. This gets into some complexities of game theory.

Those are the sorts of things I'd like to see in interstellar expansion models.

Do you do any programming? I have half of a strategy game that you might be interested in. It's written in Matlab :/

Andrew D
2012-Aug-08, 06:16 AM
And the Voyagers, the best and fastest we could build, only weigh 1500lbs with only 200lbs of scientific equipment.
No payload.
No working drive.
No way to slow down.
No guidance.
By the time they even get to the middle of the Oort Cloud they will be cold and very very dead.

(I'm not saying we won't ever leave the Solar System, but too many people throw around the 'it can't be that hard to build a starship' from watching too much sci-fi.)

Give it 50 million years. I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Noclevername
2012-Aug-08, 08:16 AM
I would bet less than 50 thousand. That's still 5 times longer than agriculture has existed.

Van Rijn
2012-Aug-08, 08:26 AM
Give it 50 million years. I'm sure we'll figure it out.

That's a perfect example of an assumption.

Noclevername
2012-Aug-08, 08:30 AM
That's a perfect example of an assumption.

That's a perfect example of an opinion, he said "I'm sure" not "this is what will definitely happen".

Van Rijn
2012-Aug-08, 09:06 AM
That's a perfect example of an opinion, he said "I'm sure" not "this is what will definitely happen".

The 50 million year figure came up before, he was making assumptions about 50 million year old civilizations.

Noclevername
2012-Aug-08, 09:25 AM
The 50 million year figure came up before, he was making assumptions about 50 million year old civilizations.

Oops, I hadn't read far back enough.

The article in the OP has this to say:

Some of them would surely have called on man by now.

That strike me as being even more "Earth exceptionalism" than the rare-Earth hypothesis.

potoole
2012-Aug-08, 09:37 AM
Given the age of this galaxy, there is a very slight chance. A very tiny chance of another civilisation, within this galaxy, at the same level as present Earth, at the same time as our present existance.

Maybe there were such civilisations thousands, millions, of years in the past, but apparently none at this particular time. If there are civilisations, thousands, or millions, of years in advance of us at this time we would have experienced their existance by now.

There is probably primitive 'life' on other systems within our galaxy, but we won't know if that is so, perhaps not for hundreds, or thousands, of years, if humans shuld survive that long.

Noclevername
2012-Aug-08, 09:43 AM
If there are civilisations, thousands, or millions, of years in advance of us at this time we would have experienced their existance by now.


Why?

They've got a whole Galaxy to play in. That's a truly massive amount of space and a few hundred billion stars to visit. And for most of our existence, we examined the sky with nothing but the Eyeball Mark I, and didn't write what we saw because writing wasn't invented yet.

swampyankee
2012-Aug-08, 11:30 AM
Why?

They've got a whole Galaxy to play in. That's a truly massive amount of space and a few hundred billion stars to visit. And for most of our existence, we examined the sky with nothing but the Eyeball Mark I, and didn't write what we saw because writing wasn't invented yet.

If they're expansionist -- a big if -- and remained so for long enough, they or their cultural descendants will fill the galaxy in a few million years. This is the basis of the Fermi Paradox.

primummobile
2012-Aug-08, 02:10 PM
If they're expansionist -- a big if -- and remained so for long enough, they or their cultural descendants will fill the galaxy in a few million years. This is the basis of the Fermi Paradox.

But if they're not, I don't think it would be that difficult for a civilization to exist almost indefinitely if it could expand to a few star systems. There are population growth models here on Earth that predict that, even absent wars, resource depletion, or disasters, the population will stabilize and even begin to decline in this century. For a civilization that has mastered things like renewable energy resource use, genetic engineering, and population control it really isn't unreasonable to expect them to survive for very long periods of time. All they would need is to be spread out enough that a disaster in one star system wouldn't kill them all. If they don't have any expansionist goals and they are on the other side of the galaxy then there would be no reason to expect them to have contacted us yet. The problem at the heart of the Fermi Paradox is that it assumes other beings would have the same motivations and desires we do. We can't assume that. Maybe they just want to live and be left alone. If you want to be left alone, advertising your presence wouldn't make much sense.

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-08, 02:33 PM
Do you do any programming? I have half of a strategy game that you might be interested in. It's written in Matlab :/
Yes, I am a computer programmer, and I have written programs in Matlab. (I currently use Octave rather than Matlab.) I don't have the time or inclination to take on that project.

The sorts of model assumptions I'd be interested in studying are very different from yours. I actually don't find your specific assumptions realistic, but I had read similar papers in the scientific literature and knew they were typical and perfectly within the scientific mainstream. Scientifically, we really can't generalize/extrapolate from our one primitive example to know for sure how technology and economic development would generally progress up to the levels required for practical interstellar expansion. Due to our lack of certain knowledge, it is scientifically responsible to accept the possibility of a wide range of possibilities.

But that doesn't mean that any particular individual researcher must spend his time and effort using assumptions which he personally does not find realistic or interesting.

Andrew D
2012-Aug-08, 07:01 PM
That's a perfect example of an assumption.

50 million is just a number. I might have said 500 million or a billion. It's been shown (in literature, find it yourself) that it's possible that there are areas of the milky way in which intelligent life could have evolved billions of years before it did on earth. I admit that we can't even imagine what a billion year old civilization looks like or how it behaves. So what we did is create a computer model that allows us the evaluate a wide range of parameters, and so the characteristics of the civilization are only assumed in any specific case and can therefore be thought of as variables, not assumptions. This method of not making hard assumptions but a variety of soft ones is a widely used method in something we call "science." You might think to try it.

The funny thing, and the reason why you're really beginning to annoy me, is that you're criticizing my established assumptions of what such a civilization can do by making completely unfounded assumptions on your own of what they can't do. You're doing the very thing that you're accusing me of, and you haven't presented any argument for your assumptions other than "you can't possibly know." In reality, your not criticizing my assumptions at all but the conclusions of the scientists after which my work comes.

Why don't you stop criticizing my work and do some of your own. I hope you understand that the people who create a BAUTforum membership just to say "Einstein was wrong" without offering any sort of alternative, who we all do hate so much, are only guilty of doing exactly what you are doing here.

Andrew D
2012-Aug-08, 07:06 PM
The sorts of model assumptions I'd be interested in studying are very different from yours.

Yes, and I find your questions interesting as well. We will make the application available at publication, so you can feel free to use my code to build something to probe your own questions. The application as it is is very simple.

TooMany
2012-Aug-08, 10:59 PM
I think you confuse lack of unitary control for lack of endeavor. Humanity has been controlling it's population through birth and death rates for millenia.

Sorry but I don't understand your point, can you explain?

My point is that (with the exception of China's policy) there are no planned limits on population. Population will therefore be limited only by the resources to support them rather than deliberately. There will likely be a very large die off when resources become scarce, especially in the underdeveloped nations that depend on external food sources.

TooMany
2012-Aug-08, 11:45 PM
In your view, when was there a previous collapse of world civilization? I apologize if this question sounds too obvious to you, but it honestly is not obvious to me. I don't think there ever was any collapse of world civilization. There have been some regional empires which have collapsed, of course, but even those didn't involve a civilization collapse--not even within their borders.

This is a bit off subject, but since you asked...

For 1,000 years Rome dominated the entire western world and reached a certain technological peak which we are still learning about. There are huge stone bridges for example that sill stand after 2,000 years and are a testament to their abilities. When Rome fell, so did western civilization. A governing power on the scale of Rome was not repeated (excepting perhaps the British empire?). The technology that built roads, aqueducts, large vessels and coliseums was largely lost. The western world fragmented into city states. The language of the empire (Latin) also fragmented and is now dead except in the liturgy of the Catholic church. It took about 1000 years to recover a societal organization in the west that was open to secular progress. I doubt that this had any big affect on the Asians but I really don't know. Certainly it had no effect on the Americas. Nevertheless it amounted to a collapse of western civilization which was arguably the most advanced on the planet at the time.

Interestingly, civilizations in the Americas also experienced collapses. The Inca, the Maya and the Southwestern and Midwestern Indian civilizations in North America are examples. (The Aztecs thought that the Mayan temples were build by giants that lived long ago.) There is a lot of debate about the causes, but archaeologist often consider climate change and over population as possibilities.

Because the world is more interdependent now than it was then, another collapse of civilization could be world-wide. I don't think a collapse is inevitable, but it appears likely.

Noclevername
2012-Aug-08, 11:57 PM
If they're expansionist -- a big if -- and remained so for long enough, they or their cultural descendants will fill the galaxy in a few million years. This is the basis of the Fermi Paradox.

But even if they have filled the Galaxy, that doesn't necessarily mean they'd have encountered us. They could be on Titan right now, splashing around in liquid methane pools, or on Pluto in liquid helium. They could have floating cities in a gas giant. They might have bypassed our system as the Sun was too stable, depriving them of the high-energy flare activity that they need. They might have arrived 4 billion years ago and used Earth as a breeding ground, contaminating it with proto-bacteria and giving rise to terrestrial life. They could be post-biological and see us as animals. They could see other lifeforms as something to be avoided. They could be nomadic by nature, and just be circling around the Galaxy with no fixed address. They could be a slow-thinking mineral lifeform, and just haven't noticed us yet.

TooMany
2012-Aug-09, 01:02 AM
The problem at the heart of the Fermi Paradox is that it assumes other beings would have the same motivations and desires we do. We can't assume that. Maybe they just want to live and be left alone. If you want to be left alone, advertising your presence wouldn't make much sense.

Exactly, similar motivations including a desire to make contact.

Grimmer is the possibility that there are advanced space-faring aliens as greedy as us who like to take over other civilized worlds. Imagine just the level of greed of the European immigrants who dominated and nearly wiped out the American Indians. An alien race with such a "manifest destiny" could be a serious threat to all emerging civilizations in the galaxy. At our own current moral level, if we arrived at some planet which offered us important resources or that we wished to colonize, we would marginalize any existing civilization unable to defend itself against us and take the resources and living space as we please (as in Avatar). Maybe only the civilized worlds that are smart enough to keep quite in order to evade predatory alien civilizations survive.

Significant evidence of the existence of our civilization has only traveled about 100 light years. A race may have already detected us and possibly sent a message acknowledging our existence that has not yet arrived. Or they may be on the way to visit unannounced.

For us to detect another civilization like our own (by broadcast radio or TV signals as we have attempted) would require a huge coincidence since the time frame in which such communications are used by a civilization may be quite brief (perhaps a couple of centuries). How many galactic civilizations would there have to be to get that lucky? Why would an intelligent civilization deliberately broadcast it's existence? Isn't that just inviting trouble? For these reasons the failure of SETI is not at all surprising and should actually be expected.

Perhaps the aliens might be kind enough to let us live on our planet but would prevent us from attempting to extend our race too far. Perhaps we are known to aliens but not yet perceived as a threat, so there has been no need to interfere, yet.

I feel that we can almost dismiss the solution that assumes that no advanced civilization has preceded us, given the number and ages of stars in the Galaxy. Not so long ago, some scientist argued that planetary systems would be quite rare. We now know that this is false. There are still those who find reasons that earth-like planets should be rare or that the conditions should not lead to life. Sometime in the last few years some scientists with that view were arguing that a moon like our own is required. How silly, but people continue to make such arguments.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 06:12 AM
Sorry but I don't understand your point, can you explain?

My point is that (with the exception of China's policy) there are no planned limits on population. Population will therefore be limited only by the resources to support them rather than deliberately. There will likely be a very large die off when resources become scarce, especially in the underdeveloped nations that depend on external food sources.

A few points, there has been a history of attempts at reproductive control via abortifacients and barrier prophylactics, non-reproductive types of activities, timing methods (e.g. ritual purity rules) for thousands of years. Also, the practice of infanticide was not unknown in some places, like ancient Greece. In India a living wife was sometimes burned on the funeral pyre of her husband. Those are in-group attempts to control population. Out-group methods include various wars, genocides and demands for tribute from subjugated peoples. In International Relations, the reigning "theory" (more at paradigm) is Realism, which describes states as unitary actors that do not look at other states as equals under an overarching framework but as potential adversaries. This results in states often working against their best interests in absolute terms in order to maintain a relative advantage. This means that even in conditions where there is enough food to go around, politics causes one group to consume more than is needed for survival while forcing another group into starvation, or actively killing them outright. Sometimes this is necessary for survival (the best outcome for the most people, Utilitarianism) but sometimes it's not necessary for life but survival of a ruling elite's power.

Your simple statement earlier sounds very simplistic and seems to assume an equal distribution of a system that lacks foresight. It's not that simple. Real humans group together and when they foresee disaster, they do prepare for it, but at the expense of others.

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 01:09 PM
A few points, there has been a history of attempts at reproductive control via abortifacients and barrier prophylactics, non-reproductive types of activities, timing methods (e.g. ritual purity rules) for thousands of years. Also, the practice of infanticide was not unknown in some places, like ancient Greece. In India a living wife was sometimes burned on the funeral pyre of her husband. Those are in-group attempts to control population. Out-group methods include various wars, genocides and demands for tribute from subjugated peoples. In International Relations, the reigning "theory" (more at paradigm) is Realism, which describes states as unitary actors that do not look at other states as equals under an overarching framework but as potential adversaries. This results in states often working against their best interests in absolute terms in order to maintain a relative advantage. This means that even in conditions where there is enough food to go around, politics causes one group to consume more than is needed for survival while forcing another group into starvation, or actively killing them outright. Sometimes this is necessary for survival (the best outcome for the most people, Utilitarianism) but sometimes it's not necessary for life but survival of a ruling elite's power.

Your simple statement earlier sounds very simplistic and seems to assume an equal distribution of a system that lacks foresight. It's not that simple. Real humans group together and when they foresee disaster, they do prepare for it, but at the expense of others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projections_of_population_growth

The growth of population isn't entirely dependent upon resources. Fertility rates among women are continuing to decline, and the population of the world is expected to stabilize around 2100.

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-09, 02:48 PM
For 1,000 years Rome dominated the entire western world and reached a certain technological peak which we are still learning about. There are huge stone bridges for example that sill stand after 2,000 years and are a testament to their abilities. When Rome fell, so did western civilization. A governing power on the scale of Rome was not repeated (excepting perhaps the British empire?).
Thanks for answering.

I find your example puzzling, though, since the Eastern Roman Empire governed from Constantinople would be larger than the Western Roman Empire governed from Rome was, and it continued onward for another thousand years. The Eastern Roman Empire actually thrived in the centuries after the fall of Rome. It would eventually decline and ultimately fall, of course, but it that's just the nature of the ebb and flow of regional rivals grabbing territory from each other. Actual civilization didn't collapse.

NEOWatcher
2012-Aug-09, 02:54 PM
The technology that built roads, aqueducts, large vessels and coliseums was largely lost.
What makes you say the technology was lost?
They just lost the organization and workforce to continue with large projects.

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 02:56 PM
Even after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, Asian civilization was still flourishing, as were Mesoamerican civilizations.

TooMany
2012-Aug-09, 03:03 PM
Your simple statement earlier sounds very simplistic and seems to assume an equal distribution of a system that lacks foresight. It's not that simple. Real humans group together and when they foresee disaster, they do prepare for it, but at the expense of others.

It may be simplistic but it still reflects reality overall. For example the deaths due to war while large are insignificant in comparison with population growth. Birth rates are in substantial decline only in the most developed economies. However those economies consume several times more resources per capita than the bulk of the world population. How can the world bring most of the population up to the economic level where births rates decline? As important resources (e.g. oil) dwindle, the developed world will be less generous toward the undeveloped world. Also we are facing the real possibility of agricultural failures due to global warming. When push comes to shove, the developed world will let the rest starve.

There are disasters already approaching mankind and so far the degree of foresight and preparation is not encouraging. For example, the US had a very loud wake up call about it's dependency on foreign oil in the 70's. In spite of this, there is still no serious plan to deal with the issue after 40 years! Instead of finding alternatives, we are waging wars to seize control of the remaining oil.

Climate change is also a wake up call. It is fairly clear that it is going to be ignored and will not be significantly ameliorated. So what I see coming is a major die off in the underdeveloped world and serious problems in the developed world economies adapting to a world with dwindling resources. The overall problem is that people are out for themselves and unwilling to make sacrifices for the common good. Also, since the disaster is a few generations in the future, the current generation feels comfortable and can ignore the difficulties of their descendants through unfounded optimism.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 06:26 PM
It may be simplistic but it still reflects reality overall. For example the deaths due to war while large are insignificant in comparison with population growth. Birth rates are in substantial decline only in the most developed economies. However those economies consume several times more resources per capita than the bulk of the world population. How can the world bring most of the population up to the economic level where births rates decline? As important resources (e.g. oil) dwindle, the developed world will be less generous toward the undeveloped world. Also we are facing the real possibility of agricultural failures due to global warming. When push comes to shove, the developed world will let the rest starve.

There are disasters already approaching mankind and so far the degree of foresight and preparation is not encouraging. For example, the US had a very loud wake up call about it's dependency on foreign oil in the 70's. In spite of this, there is still no serious plan to deal with the issue after 40 years! Instead of finding alternatives, we are waging wars to seize control of the remaining oil.

Climate change is also a wake up call. It is fairly clear that it is going to be ignored and will not be significantly ameliorated. So what I see coming is a major die off in the underdeveloped world and serious problems in the developed world economies adapting to a world with dwindling resources. The overall problem is that people are out for themselves and unwilling to make sacrifices for the common good. Also, since the disaster is a few generations in the future, the current generation feels comfortable and can ignore the difficulties of their descendants through unfounded optimism.

So, you want to argue with me by agreeing with me?

BTW, policy did change after the Oil Shocks of the 70s, with higher fuel efficiency standards and the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the US. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Petroleum_Reserve_(United_States)). And the plan of many planners is to allow the free market to solve the problem on its own, which might be adequate if it weren't for global warming.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 06:34 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projections_of_population_growth

The growth of population isn't entirely dependent upon resources. Fertility rates among women are continuing to decline, and the population of the world is expected to stabilize around 2100.

If you dig into those numbers, you'll see a lot of it is still based on resource limitations. It costs more to raise a child in the modern world due to additional costs the society and government require (e.g. education) and both work-time and "me-time" for the parents and independence for those unable to support themselves (grandma has her own house and lives alone with a visiting nurse instead of in a multi-generational home with extended family). Resource limitation might also include putting off children until too late in life for many women who didn't plan to be childless.

Infertility caused by other issues, environmental contaminants and obesity might not be directly attributable to resource limitations.

TooMany
2012-Aug-09, 06:35 PM
Thanks for answering.

I find your example puzzling, though, since the Eastern Roman Empire governed from Constantinople would be larger than the Western Roman Empire governed from Rome was, and it continued onward for another thousand years. The Eastern Roman Empire actually thrived in the centuries after the fall of Rome. It would eventually decline and ultimately fall, of course, but it that's just the nature of the ebb and flow of regional rivals grabbing territory from each other. Actual civilization didn't collapse.

I find your minimization of the fall of Rome puzzling. What would you characterize as a collapse of a civilization then? Loss of fire? My point is that a serious setback occurred. The Renascence, one thousand years after the fall of the Roman empire, has that name for a reason. I don't see where the Eastern Roman Empire did much to maintain, let alone improve upon, the Roman civilization.

In the case of Rome, I'm not sure that there is agreement upon the causes of the collapse. However today, we face some real limits that are not just political. The world population has tripled since I was born. I've read that about 1/3 of the world's ecosystem in now directly involved with human consumption. The oceans are being over fished to a point where fish populations are in decline while fishing continues to increase (3/4 of world's fish production is consumed by humans). Most of the arable land is already producing crops. The tropical forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. At the same time under developed countries like China and India are beginning to ramp up their consumption of world resources. In the US, all of the easy to get oil is gone. In parts of the Midwest, ancient aquifers are being pumped out to grow crops. Add to these issues global warming which will require mass movements of populations and agriculture and I really don't see how a setback is to be avoided.

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 06:43 PM
If you dig into those numbers, you'll see a lot of it is still based on resource limitations. It costs more to raise a child in the modern world due to additional costs the society and government require (e.g. education) and both work-time and "me-time" for the parents and independence for those unable to support themselves (grandma has her own house and lives alone with a visiting nurse instead of in a multi-generational home with extended family). Resource limitation might also include putting off children until too late in life for many women who didn't plan to be childless.

Infertility caused by other issues, environmental contaminants and obesity might not be directly attributable to resource limitations.

In that article, I took 'fertility rate' to mean only the number of children produced per adult female lifetime. I don't think it had any other definition. The fertility rate is falling in developed countries, I'm sure for many reasons. Education, better access to birth control, and many other non-resource factors are also at play. I don't usually put a lot of stock into UN studies like this one, but if it's correct and the world population is going to level off at 8.7 billion and stay there it would probably be a good thing. (not that being a good thing makes it more likely to happen, of course) We can feed that many people as long as other things don't kill us first.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 06:50 PM
I find your minimization of the fall of Rome puzzling. What would you characterize as a collapse of a civilization then? Loss of fire? My point is that a serious setback occurred. The Renascence, one thousand years after the fall of the Roman empire, has that name for a reason. I don't see where the Eastern Roman Empire did much to maintain, let alone improve upon, the Roman civilization.

In the case of Rome, I'm not sure that there is agreement upon the causes of the collapse. However today, we face some real limits that are not just political. The world population has tripled since I was born. I've read that about 1/3 of the world's ecosystem in now directly involved with human consumption. The oceans are being over fished to a point where fish populations are in decline while fishing continues to increase (3/4 of world's fish production is consumed by humans). Most of the arable land is already producing crops. The tropical forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. At the same time under developed countries like China and India are beginning to ramp up their consumption of world resources. In the US, all of the easy to get oil is gone. In parts of the Midwest, ancient aquifers are being pumped out to grow crops. Add to these issues global warming which will require mass movements of populations and agriculture and I really don't see how a setback is to be avoided.

Do you mean the Oglalla Aquifer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oglalla_aquifer)? That's in the Plains, not the Midwest. And it's "Renaissance".

You need to define what you mean by "collapse of a civilization" before you apply it. Do you include the term "collapse of an empire" to be equivalent? Some actually do collapse, but others simply change. How do you distinguish between them?

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 06:57 PM
In that article, I took 'fertility rate' to mean only the number of children produced per adult female lifetime. I don't think it had any other definition. The fertility rate is falling in developed countries, I'm sure for many reasons. Education, better access to birth control, and many other non-resource factors are also at play. I don't usually put a lot of stock into UN studies like this one, but if it's correct and the world population is going to level off at 8.7 billion and stay there it would probably be a good thing. (not that being a good thing makes it more likely to happen, of course) We can feed that many people as long as other things don't kill us first.

I didn't actually read the article, as I'm familiar with the claim, though I think I read it before (and I figured you'd quote anything important to make your point). How does education alter fertility? I think that historically, most men and women understood the birds and the bees and would learn of birth control via advertisements or word-of-mouth.

If you simply mean the number of births and not ability to have births (fecundity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fecundity), which is what I meant), then you need to look at infant mortality too. One reason humans in the developed world are having fewer children these days is because more of them are surviving.

TooMany
2012-Aug-09, 07:11 PM
BTW, policy did change after the Oil Shocks of the 70s, with higher fuel efficiency standards and the creation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the US. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Petroleum_Reserve_(United_States)). And the plan of many planners is to allow the free market to solve the problem on its own, which might be adequate if it weren't for global warming.

Yes, but the fuel efficiency standards failed. First, they were reduced by Reagan. Then they were evaded by selling SUV's that are classified as trucks to which the same standards do not apply. Here is a short summary of that situation (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1874826,00.html). Just watch what happens if Obama tries to push the 35 mpg average.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is only enough to last 5 weeks (at current consumption rates). It used mostly politically to head off gas price increases when the American people insist that they should not have to pay so much for gas and will still not give up their SUVs.

The belief that the "free-market" solves such problems is an ideology, not reality. Yes, eventually the price of oil will be so high that alternatives will be more economical. The problem is that 1) we will fight more costly wars before that happens, 2) if we wait for that to happen it will be too late to avoid repercussions and 3) even if the oil is replaced by some alternative, it may not be replaced in the quantities currently consumed and the price will be higher. You can be sure that big changes are coming in the next few decades. Maybe you'll be driving a car powered by coal dust and turning up the air conditioning. The coal industry has recently begun running ads claiming that they will power America for a couple of centuries (I don't know if they factored in the air conditioning).

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 07:12 PM
I didn't actually read the article, as I'm familiar with the claim, though I think I read it before (and I figured you'd quote anything important to make your point). How does education alter fertility? I think that historically, most men and women understood the birds and the bees and would learn of birth control via advertisements or word-of-mouth.

If you simply mean the number of births and not ability to have births (fecundity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fecundity), which is what I meant), then you need to look at infant mortality too. One reason humans in the developed world are having fewer children these days is because more of them are surviving.

You would think that people would learn about birth control from word of mouth. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case as evidenced by all the arguing we do over what sex education should and should not cover, as well as the fact that the more educated tend to have fewer children.

I'm not really making my own point, I'm just trying to point out that the U.N. claims that world population growth will level off this century and that the number is, in theory at least, manageable. I don't know enough about what causes population growth and decline to say whether that is true or they are just trying to not be alarmist about the fact that in a couple centuries we'll all be standing on top of one another. (wasn't there a Star Trek episode like that?)

I am talking about just the number of births and not ability, yes. The U.N. calls that 'fertility rate'. I'm not sure why.

TooMany
2012-Aug-09, 07:33 PM
Do you mean the Oglalla Aquifer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oglalla_aquifer)? That's in the Plains, not the Midwest. And it's "Renaissance".


Yes I mean the "Plains". Thanks for the corrections (apparently renascence is an equivalent word, but certainly not the proper one. My spelling sucks.)


You need to define what you mean by "collapse of a civilization" before you apply it. Do you include the term "collapse of an empire" to be equivalent? Some actually do collapse, but others simply change. How do you distinguish between them?

True, a "complete collapse of civilization" would be back to the stone age, I suppose. Collapse of a government is not an equivalent in my mind. To me, in a collapse the standard of living is lowered, rule by law is reduced, the arts and sciences suffer or are static, technical skills are forgotten, in general the accomplishments of society are far less than they were. For example, the Roman, Egyptian, Inca, Mayan and Aztec civilizations collapsed. The Russian civilization did not collapse, only the Soviet Empire collapsed.

TooMany
2012-Aug-09, 07:49 PM
You would think that people would learn about birth control from word of mouth. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case as evidenced by all the arguing we do over what sex education should and should not cover, as well as the fact that the more educated tend to have fewer children.

In Africa AIDS is truly an epidemic, but the spread could be at least slowed or even prevented with proper precautions. It is apparently not just an educational problem, but a cultural problem as well.



I'm just trying to point out that the U.N. claims that world population growth will level off this century and that the number is, in theory at least, manageable.


The alarm bells for population growth have been ringing for a long time. No doubt their prediction is true, that by 2100 the population will at least "level out". The 8.7 billion estimate of maximum does not far exceed the 7 billion we already have. How will such a dramatic change in growth rate occur? Maybe it's just not politically correct to tell people they will starve.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 07:50 PM
Yes, but the fuel efficiency standards failed. First, they were reduced by Reagan. Then they were evaded by selling SUV's that are classified as trucks to which the same standards do not apply. Here is a short summary of that situation (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1874826,00.html). Just watch what happens if Obama tries to push the 35 mpg average.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is only enough to last 5 weeks (at current consumption rates). It used mostly politically to head off gas price increases when the American people insist that they should not have to pay so much for gas and will still not give up their SUVs.

The belief that the "free-market" solves such problems is an ideology, not reality. Yes, eventually the price of oil will be so high that alternatives will be more economical. The problem is that 1) we will fight more costly wars before that happens, 2) if we wait for that to happen it will be too late to avoid repercussions and 3) even if the oil is replaced by some alternative, it may not be replaced in the quantities currently consumed and the price will be higher. You can be sure that big changes are coming in the next few decades. Maybe you'll be driving a car powered by coal dust and turning up the air conditioning. The coal industry has recently begun running ads claiming that they will power America for a couple of centuries (I don't know if they factored in the air conditioning).

Planning is planning. Whether or not the plans work for everyone involved is a different issue. That was my point and why I asked you why you were arguing with me by agreeing with me.

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 07:52 PM
In Africa AIDS is truly an epidemic, but the spread could be at least slowed or even prevented with proper precautions. It is apparently not just an educational problem, but a cultural problem as well.

I agree with that.


The alarm bells for population growth have been ringing for a long time. No doubt their prediction is true, that by 2100 the population will at least "level out". The 8.7 billion estimate of maximum does not far exceed the 7 billion we already have. How will such a dramatic change in growth rate occur? Maybe it's just not politically correct to tell people they will starve.

I don't know if that's what they really believe will happen or not. I only know what was in the report.

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 07:55 PM
At any rate, one would hope that if there is a collapse of civilization we would retain enough knowledge to not make the same mistakes the next time around. Maybe it needs to happen to save us in the long run.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 07:55 PM
You would think that people would learn about birth control from word of mouth. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be the case as evidenced by all the arguing we do over what sex education should and should not cover, as well as the fact that the more educated tend to have fewer children.
You're confusing correlation for causation. Those with higher education make more money and can afford birth control and can afford and enjoy the luxuries that cause people to want to forego or delay having children. It's not like poor people don't know what's available at the drug store. And your statement about education actually proves my point, abstinence only education won't help, word-of-mouth will need to be relied upon, which shows it works, which was my point.


I'm not really making my own point, I'm just trying to point out that the U.N. claims that world population growth will level off this century and that the number is, in theory at least, manageable. I don't know enough about what causes population growth and decline to say whether that is true or they are just trying to not be alarmist about the fact that in a couple centuries we'll all be standing on top of one another. (wasn't there a Star Trek episode like that?) The Trouble with Tribbles?

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 07:58 PM
The Trouble with Tribbles?

God, I hate that episode. No, I was thinking about one where the people didn't have any disease and they kidnapped Kirk so he could expose them to the pathogens he was carrying. I think they made a mock-up of the Enterprise and at the end a window opened and you saw all these people watching and there wasn't anywhere for any of them to move.

I agree that abstinence-only education isn't a solution.

Noclevername
2012-Aug-09, 07:59 PM
The Trouble with Tribbles?

It was the one where Kirk had to give a lady space-VD to kill off most of an overcrowded planet.

"The Mark Of Gideon". (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Mark_of_Gideon_(episode))

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 08:01 PM
It was the one where Kirk had to give a lady space-VD to kill off most of an overcrowded planet.

"The Mark Of Gideon". (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Mark_of_Gideon_(episode))

That's it!

IsaacKuo
2012-Aug-09, 08:04 PM
I find your minimization of the fall of Rome puzzling. What would you characterize as a collapse of a civilization then? Loss of fire? My point is that a serious setback occurred. The Renascence, one thousand years after the fall of the Roman empire, has that name for a reason. I don't see where the Eastern Roman Empire did much to maintain, let alone improve upon, the Roman civilization.

The Eastern Roman Empire was bigger, longer lasting, and would enjoy vastly superior technology. It survived a plague which wiped out a third of its population. It continued carrying onward in the arts and sciences. Who do you think maintained and built upon the classical arts and sciences during that time? Where do you think western Europe got them from?

There had been a long standing tradition to denigrate the Eastern Roman Empire, but modern historians have a positive view of it, its accomplishments, and its significance to Europe--including its contributions to western Europe.


Add to these issues global warming which will require mass movements of populations and agriculture and I really don't see how a setback is to be avoided.

A "setback" is not necessarily a collapse of civilization, especially if it's the third world which bears the burden of the "setback" while the developed world takes care of its own. That's the way it has been going so far, at least since the industrial revolution.

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 08:15 PM
You're confusing correlation for causation. Those with higher education make more money and can afford birth control and can afford and enjoy the luxuries that cause people to want to forego or delay having children. It's not like poor people don't know what's available at the drug store. And your statement about education actually proves my point, abstinence only education won't help, word-of-mouth will need to be relied upon, which shows it works, which was my point.

The Trouble with Tribbles?

Ok, I saw this earlier before you corrected the formatting so I missed your entire comment. When you say 'word-of-mouth' I don't consider that to mean formal education. I take it to mean what you hear from your peers. It isn't just about making more money and being able to afford birth control. There are a lot of really weird ideas floating around out there that better education would help to solve. In parts of Africa, it is believed that intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS. There are all kinds of folk remedies floating around that people actually believe regarding reproduction and VD. There are many people who really believe that only homosexuals can contract AIDS. There are many people who believe that HIV doesn't cause AIDS and some who believe that AIDS isn't even a real disease.

Simple birth control and even just knowledge about how reproduction works isn't that expensive. I think a bigger problem is all the superstitions people have regarding those sorts of things. Education eliminates most of those superstitions, which contributes greatly to lower birth rates. In this case, correlation and causation goes both ways. It's a very complex situation.

TooMany
2012-Aug-09, 08:15 PM
Planning is planning. Whether or not the plans work for everyone involved is a different issue. That was my point and why I asked you why you were arguing with me by agreeing with me.

Your points are strictly correct. I just feel that you are identifying factors that have been ineffective. All I'm saying is that while true, they don't actually affect the reality of population growth and resource depletion significantly. In the case of the planning for oil conservation, it didn't just fail to work, the plan was simply not carried out. The plan was to increase efficiency overall. The plan was followed for a while and then the essence of the plan was evaded altogether. The government failed to step in and fix the problem that destroyed this plan.

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. Are you trying to say that we are in fact planning for resource depletion by pointing to the legislation of the late 70's? My point is simply that a plan is meaningless if you don't carry it out. So we really are not planning as yet to deal with the problem. You need a better example to suggest that mankind really does plan for obvious future problems.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 08:27 PM
Ok, I saw this earlier before you corrected the formatting so I missed your entire comment.Really? I fixed it in like 10 seconds.


hen you say 'word-of-mouth' I don't consider that to mean formal education. I take it to mean what you hear from your peers. It isn't just about making more money and being able to afford birth control. There are a lot of really weird ideas floating around out there that better education would help to solve. In parts of Africa, it is believed that intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS. There are all kinds of folk remedies floating around that people actually believe regarding reproduction and VD. There are many people who really believe that only homosexuals can contract AIDS. There are many people who believe that HIV doesn't cause AIDS and some who believe that AIDS isn't even a real disease.

Simple birth control and even just knowledge about how reproduction works isn't that expensive. I think a bigger problem is all the superstitions people have regarding those sorts of things. Education eliminates most of those superstitions, which contributes greatly to lower birth rates. In this case, correlation and causation goes both ways. It's a very complex situation.

I wasn't referring to formal education, just accurate information dissemination. Education doesn't necessarily change superstition or traditionalism. Quiverfull-types know how reproduction and prophylaxis works, but decide not to use them. However, for people who do want to use something that is effective, word-of-mouth and advertising is sufficient. It's not like every woman who uses the pill needs to understand biochemistry, they just need to trust "authority". Unfortunately, lots of people have problems with authority even if they know it's right.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-09, 08:39 PM
Your points are strictly correct. I just feel that you are identifying factors that have been ineffective.Your statement upthread had seemed simplistic, and I was showing that it's not that simple, as you now realize.


All I'm saying is that while true, they don't actually affect the reality of population growth and resource depletion significantly. In the case of the planning for oil conservation, it didn't just fail to work, the plan was simply not carried out. The plan was to increase efficiency overall. The plan was followed for a while and then the essence of the plan was evaded altogether. The government failed to step in and fix the problem that destroyed this plan.But they did step in, militarily and diplomatically, to ensure low prices for and access to petroleum. Plans change. Taking from others is a plan. Again, I'm not sure why you're arguing with my by agreeing with me.


I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. Are you trying to say that we are in fact planning for resource depletion by pointing to the legislation of the late 70's? My point is simply that a plan is meaningless if you don't carry it out. So we really are not planning as yet to deal with the problem. You need a better example to suggest that mankind really does plan for obvious future problems.You mean like the arctic seed vault? How about Grain silos? Root cellars? Refrigerators? Canned goods. How far in advance?

And now you introduced "obvious" to the argument, which means that it only applies to those who can foresee it, and not deniers, which can introduce biases to the debate. You should watch "Doomsday Preppers" on NatGeo. A lot of people on there plan for high amplitude low frequency or low probability events that they think are obviously going to happen, one of which is a pole shift on December 21, 2012.

primummobile
2012-Aug-09, 08:44 PM
Really? I fixed it in like 10 seconds.

Yeah, I don't know why, but it stayed in my browser through a couple posts. I skipped over the whole first section when reading it because I thought it was a quotation of my post.


I wasn't referring to formal education, just accurate information dissemination. Education doesn't necessarily change superstition or traditionalism. Quiverfull-types know how reproduction and prophylaxis works, but decide not to use them. However, for people who do want to use something that is effective, word-of-mouth and advertising is sufficient. It's not like every woman who uses the pill needs to understand biochemistry, they just need to trust "authority". Unfortunately, lots of people have problems with authority even if they know it's right.

I know education doesn't always change superstitions. But it does change them at least some of the time, and possibly more often that that. I think it more often has to do with the quality of the educator rather than what is being taught. You have to trust the person who is passing along the knowledge.

At the same time, however; I do think that for some people knowing the biochemistry would be the deciding factor. I have problems with authority. I don't like doing things merely because someone told me to. But if I know why it should be done and why it is to my benefit for something to be done, I'll do it because it is a decision I have arrived at independently. Of course, that is just my personal experience but I hardly think that my experience is unique.

noncryptic
2012-Aug-11, 01:53 PM
Why are these civilizations expanding to other stars in the first place? What's their motivation?

Same as ours?


How much does it cost?


Cost is not exclusive to monetary issues. Cost in lives, resources, time, effort, etc.

A civilization has all of that, so cost won't stop them.

Noclevername
2012-Aug-11, 06:54 PM
Same as ours?

But since we haven't done it yet, we can't predict when it will be done, by what group or nation, or for what reason or motive.




A civilization has all of that, so cost won't stop them.

Our civilization has all that now, yet there are plenty of things we could do, or could have done decades ago, that we have not. Permanent Moon base, manned Mars landing, all planned as part of Apollo yet nixed by politicians because of "cost". The question is not just one of cost, but whether or not the cost is thought worth it by the decision-makers. Ultimately it's about priorities; a society will go to massive lengths and spend massive efforts and even lives to reach a goal that's considered worthy, the pyramids prove that, but if those in power don't want it they won't spend a dime or lift a finger to do it.

swampyankee
2012-Aug-11, 07:48 PM
Ok, I saw this earlier before you corrected the formatting so I missed your entire comment. When you say 'word-of-mouth' I don't consider that to mean formal education. I take it to mean what you hear from your peers. It isn't just about making more money and being able to afford birth control. There are a lot of really weird ideas floating around out there that better education would help to solve. In parts of Africa, it is believed that intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS. There are all kinds of folk remedies floating around that people actually believe regarding reproduction and VD. There are many people who really believe that only homosexuals can contract AIDS. There are many people who believe that HIV doesn't cause AIDS and some who believe that AIDS isn't even a real disease.

Simple birth control and even just knowledge about how reproduction works isn't that expensive. I think a bigger problem is all the superstitions people have regarding those sorts of things. Education eliminates most of those superstitions, which contributes greatly to lower birth rates. In this case, correlation and causation goes both ways. It's a very complex situation.

Just giving girls access to education, so they don't start reproducing until their twenties will reduce population growth. In a lot of the countries with very high birth rates, girls are married and expected to reproduce almost immediately after menarche. Delay that six years -- from 15 to 21 -- and there will be two or three fewer babies born to girls in that age cohort, which is probably something like a 15% to 20% reduction in fertility.

Of course, many cultures insist upon keeping women subservient, and would quite literally kill thousands of people to continue the practice. Other groups have that as a goal, but are not violent. Yet.

TooMany
2012-Aug-11, 09:55 PM
At any rate, one would hope that if there is a collapse of civilization we would retain enough knowledge to not make the same mistakes the next time around. Maybe it needs to happen to save us in the long run.

Have you read "The Mote in God's Eye"? The civilization of an alien race would collapse repeatedly. In order to speed up the recoveries, they kept a wide range of technical products and data in a "lock box".

primummobile
2012-Aug-11, 10:22 PM
Have you read "The Mote in God's Eye"? The civilization of an alien race would collapse repeatedly. In order to speed up the recoveries, they kept a wide range of technical products and data in a "lock box".

I have. I love that book through about the first ninety percent of it.

TooMany
2012-Aug-11, 11:08 PM
Again, I'm not sure why you're arguing with my by agreeing with me.

Because you appear to be arguing that effective plans are made using the auto efficiently legislation as an example. In some literal sense this constitutes "planning". However, if the plan is not implemented (which it has not been), there may as well be no plan at all.


You mean like the arctic seed vault? How about Grain silos? Root cellars? Refrigerators? Canned goods. How far in advance?

I don't know why you don't understand what I'm saying, but here it is in a nutshell:

Mankind is facing serious problems that stem from overpopulation:


Rapid growth in the consumption of vital but dwindling natural resources.
Global warming caused by fossil fuel use.

Let's restrict ourselves to the US approach to this impending disaster. Even though we were directly warned about our dependence on foreign oil 40 years ago, we still have no realistic plan in place to protect ourselves from the consequences of this dependency. If our oil imports were cut off, it would only be a matter of two or three months until much of the US population would be starving to death. Our only choice would be to go to war to seize the resources that we depend upon and attempt to hoard them for ourselves. Such a scenario might lead to a nuclear showdown.

Educated people throughout the world are aware of the serious consequences of global warming. Nevertheless there is no plan in place to limit the damage.

What I'm saying is that mankind is not facing up to the challenges that his exploding population has caused. Therefore there will be a serious setback that may be world wide.

Some people may have root cellar, a grain silo or a seed bank but that will do little to avoid mass starvation.

This is not some dooms day scenario dreamed up by nut cases; it is real. If you are young enough to be alive a few decades from now, you'll get a ring side seat. It's hard to predict exactly how it will play out. How many more decades can we fail to act before the setback is unstoppable?

potoole
2012-Aug-12, 01:42 AM
This is a bit off subject, but since you asked...

For 1,000 years Rome dominated the entire western world and reached a certain technological peak which we are still learning about. There are huge stone bridges for example that sill stand after 2,000 years and are a testament to their abilities. When Rome fell, so did western civilization. A governing power on the scale of Rome was not repeated (excepting perhaps the British empire?). The technology that built roads, aqueducts, large vessels and coliseums was largely lost. The western world fragmented into city states. The language of the empire (Latin) also fragmented and is now dead except in the liturgy of the Catholic church. It took about 1000 years to recover a societal organization in the west that was open to secular progress. I doubt that this had any big affect on the Asians but I really don't know. Certainly it had no effect on the Americas. Nevertheless it amounted to a collapse of western civilization which was arguably the most advanced on the planet at the time.

Interestingly, civilizations in the Americas also experienced collapses. The Inca, the Maya and the Southwestern and Midwestern Indian civilizations in North America are examples. (The Aztecs thought that the Mayan temples were build by giants that lived long ago.) There is a lot of debate about the causes, but archaeologist often consider climate change and over population as possibilities.

Because the world is more interdependent now than it was then, another collapse of civilization could be world-wide. I don't think a collapse is inevitable, but it appears likely.

I think this is a very good synopsis of human future, and future culture. You hit it on the nose with this statement, "I don't think a collapse is inevitable, but it appears likely."

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-12, 04:57 AM
Because you appear to be arguing that effective plans are made using the auto efficiently legislation as an example. In some literal sense this constitutes "planning". However, if the plan is not implemented (which it has not been), there may as well be no plan at all.No, that's your argument. My argument is that plans change, but that doesn't make them non-plans. You may have a plan to evacuate your location in the event of a disaster, but if you realize later that the disaster might close that route, you change the plan. Why live responsibly today when it's possible to to splurge today and then steal tomorrow?


I don't know why you don't understand what I'm saying, but here it is in a nutshell:

Mankind is facing serious problems that stem from overpopulation:


Rapid growth in the consumption of vital but dwindling natural resources.
Global warming caused by fossil fuel use.

Let's restrict ourselves to the US approach to this impending disaster. Even though we were directly warned about our dependence on foreign oil 40 years ago, we still have no realistic plan in place to protect ourselves from the consequences of this dependency. If our oil imports were cut off, it would only be a matter of two or three months until much of the US population would be starving to death. Our only choice would be to go to war to seize the resources that we depend upon and attempt to hoard them for ourselves. Such a scenario might lead to a nuclear showdown.

Educated people throughout the world are aware of the serious consequences of global warming. Nevertheless there is no plan in place to limit the damage.

What I'm saying is that mankind is not facing up to the challenges that his exploding population has caused. Therefore there will be a serious setback that may be world wide.

Some people may have root cellar, a grain silo or a seed bank but that will do little to avoid mass starvation.

This is not some dooms day scenario dreamed up by nut cases; it is real. If you are young enough to be alive a few decades from now, you'll get a ring side seat. It's hard to predict exactly how it will play out. How many more decades can we fail to act before the setback is unstoppable?

I know what you're saying. That problem is that you don't understand what I'm saying. I'm saying that there is no "We the people of Earth." There is Americans, and Mexicans and Canadians and Nigerians etc... Sometimes these groups work together; sometimes they do not. Some groups will do what it takes to survive and won't help the other group. One group might actively take what they want from the other group.

Can you explain your claim that the US population would be starving in 2-3 months?

Also, can you explain why the dwindling natural resources and fossil fuel use problem is caused by overpopulation instead of overconsumption?

TooMany
2012-Aug-12, 11:54 PM
Can you explain your claim that the US population would be starving in 2-3 months?

I guess you weren't alive in 1973 or too young to remember the impact of just a brief squeeze on the oil supply. People formed lines at gas stations and waited for hours to fill up. My company at the time hired a "gas getter". This was a kid who would take your car to a gas station and wait in line so that you could keep working and get to the office the next day.

Now imagine that all of the imported oil is cut off. The economic collapses because our entire transportation system depends on oil. People cannot get to work, food shipments are cut. It would not be long before riots break out everywhere and people start looting grocery stores and warehouses to hoard food. There simply would not be enough law enforcement to keep order because the entire county is affected. There will not be sufficient time to implement a rationing program. Those who have guns, will use them to take what they want (small advantage of gun ownership). After a few weeks of this, raiders will start invading peoples homes and hijacking food shipments. At some point, not too long into the crisis, there will no longer be enough fuel to support vital services. Food will become scarce and people will starve. If it is winter, people in cold climates will not have enough fuel oil and will attempt to heat with wood. The competition for available wood will be fierce. Many will not be able to obtain tools to cut the wood. The quantities of oil required to grow and ship enough food will simply not be available.

Use your own imagination.



Also, can you explain why the dwindling natural resources and fossil fuel use problem is caused by overpopulation instead of overconsumption?

Because the incredible size of the world population is the reason for the over-consumption. Resources are now being consumed faster than mitigating actions can be agreed upon and applied. It's like rolling down a hill that gets steeper, the over-consumption cannot be stopped without lot's of people dying and/or reverting to a low consumption life style.

If the population were much smaller (say 1/10), world civilization would have more time to mature and address the resource problem. Instead of warring over resources, the world might find ways to equitably deal with the problem, to determine a sustainable population and prevent it from being exceeded.

There is no hard limit to population growth aside from resources. However, there is a lower limit on consumption per capita required to support any population.

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-13, 07:28 AM
I guess you weren't alive in 1973 or too young to remember the impact of just a brief squeeze on the oil supply. People formed lines at gas stations and waited for hours to fill up. My company at the time hired a "gas getter". This was a kid who would take your car to a gas station and wait in line so that you could keep working and get to the office the next day.

Now imagine that all of the imported oil is cut off. The economic collapses because our entire transportation system depends on oil. People cannot get to work, food shipments are cut. It would not be long before riots break out everywhere and people start looting grocery stores and warehouses to hoard food. There simply would not be enough law enforcement to keep order because the entire county is affected. There will not be sufficient time to implement a rationing program. Those who have guns, will use them to take what they want (small advantage of gun ownership). After a few weeks of this, raiders will start invading peoples homes and hijacking food shipments. At some point, not too long into the crisis, there will no longer be enough fuel to support vital services. Food will become scarce and people will starve. If it is winter, people in cold climates will not have enough fuel oil and will attempt to heat with wood. The competition for available wood will be fierce. Many will not be able to obtain tools to cut the wood. The quantities of oil required to grow and ship enough food will simply not be available.

Use your own imagination.I'm not looking for imagination, but facts. I was wondering what your analysis would be. What do you think government would or could do about it? You didn't say much about the role of government.


Because the incredible size of the world population is the reason for the over-consumption. Resources are now being consumed faster than mitigating actions can be agreed upon and applied. It's like rolling down a hill that gets steeper, the over-consumption cannot be stopped without lot's of people dying and/or reverting to a low consumption life style.Ah, so you agree that it's about the over-consumption. I agree, lowering the consumption is one solution, one which appears to be occurring in the US.


If the population were much smaller (say 1/10), world civilization would have more time to mature and address the resource problem. Instead of warring over resources, the world might find ways to equitably deal with the problem, to determine a sustainable population and prevent it from being exceeded.

There is no hard limit to population growth aside from resources. However, there is a lower limit on consumption per capita required to support any population.

I don't think the issue is maturity. That's a smarmy way of looking at it. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made. If people have to starve, who do we choose and why, and how?... in a "mature" way?

noncryptic
2012-Aug-13, 08:29 AM
But since we haven't done it yet

I'd say that we have started to begin expanding to the stars.
That is to say, we will if it is at all feasible and if we continue exploration of space.
It may turn out not to be feasible, but we don't know that yet.



Our civilization has all that now, yet there are plenty of things we could do, or could have done decades ago, that we have not. Permanent Moon base, manned Mars landing, all planned as part of Apollo yet nixed by politicians because of "cost". The question is not just one of cost, but whether or not the cost is thought worth it by the decision-makers. Ultimately it's about priorities; a society will go to massive lengths and spend massive efforts and even lives to reach a goal that's considered worthy, the pyramids prove that, but if those in power don't want it they won't spend a dime or lift a finger to do it.

In the grand scheme of things that might well turn out to be a temporary condition.
We've been in a position to do these things for only 50 years or so, that's a mere blink of an eye relative to the history of mankind, way to short to be a basis for definitive conclusions regarding our expanding to the stars

noncryptic
2012-Aug-13, 08:44 AM
overpopulation vs overconsumption (and inequality)

Based on the fact that you apparently have not recieved a warning for bringing up and arguing at length about that highly political topic, i'll assume i can respond to it without violating forum rules.

Overpopulation is often presented as though it is a given, as though it is an inevitably obvious fact. But there are good reasons to conclude that it is not.

In short, it's a myth based on Malthus' theory that has been proven wrong by history several times over.

Overpopulation: The Making of a Myth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZVOU5bfHrM

http://overpopulationisamyth.com/

Van Rijn
2012-Aug-13, 09:45 AM
(Haven't been on the board much lately, so this is referring to an older post.)



The funny thing, and the reason why you're really beginning to annoy me, is that you're criticizing my established assumptions of what such a civilization can do by making completely unfounded assumptions on your own of what they can't do.


I certainly don't recall doing that, and in reviewing the thread, I don't see where I did that. Please quote what you're referring to. Here's how I approached the thread: In the OP, you posted a link to a blog article without qualification, just a short description and a link. The article as presented was highly speculative, with what appeared to be starting assumptions that can't be tested with existing data. That is not saying the assumptions must be impossible, just that there are many other arguments that could be made, given the current limits of evidence.

In short, speculation is fine, as long as it is clearly stated to be speculation.




You're doing the very thing that you're accusing me of, and you haven't presented any argument for your assumptions other than "you can't possibly know."


What assumptions do you think I've been making? I'm curious. As for your assumptions, how do you test them? We don't have an interstellar civilization to study, let alone multi-million year old civilizations. We don't know what science and technology will be like for our own species a thousand years from now.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Aug-13, 10:51 AM
Overpopulation is often presented as though it is a given, as though it is an inevitably obvious fact. But there are good reasons to conclude that it is not.

In short, it's a myth based on Malthus' theory that has been proven wrong by history several times over.
The bit that's often overlooked when discussing Malthus is that food supply is not the only resource limiting growth, it was the most immediate one at his time which was why he only saw that, but there are other limits too, such as (in countries where pregnancy is a choice) time and money.
Children dying from starvation is not the only limiter to growth rate and it appears that there are several negative feedback mechanisms that'll limit it to less than the Malthusian limit many places..

That said, there are large parts of the human race who live at the Malthusian limit and for them a reduction in available food will be devastating.

TooMany
2012-Aug-14, 01:14 AM
You didn't say much about the role of government.
The government's role would obviously be to mitigate the problem by imposing gas rationing where vital services have priority. Marshal law would no doubt be imposed. It's possible that this could stave off starvation for some time if the public can be made to cooperate. Mass transit and car pooling might get at least the more important workers to their jobs for a while.

There is serious danger of panic however and non-cooperation. Assuming that everything went swimmingly, much of the population might survive. It really depends whether a sufficient supply of fuel could be directed to vital services. I guess we would find out how many jobs are non-essential (as well as which people are unimportant to feed).

Food would have to be distributed by rationing because people living near their income level (the majority) would suddenly have no income to sustain them.

The wealthy would be redefined as those who have hoarded goods or resources and can defend them from theft or those who have friends in high places. The monetary system would become a joke. Manufacturing would be devastated unless a sufficient supply of oil can be dedicated to that purpose. Look around you and ask yourself what requires oil. E.g. all plastics, drugs, bottles, bags, agricultural chemicals, paint, batteries. etc. Power interruptions may become more common if oil is not available for backup generators.

Coal would be mined and turned into various fuels as was done by the Germans during WWII. It would take considerable time to build the chemical plants to do this.

Manufactured goods from China (which is most consumer products including car parts) would cease to be delivered unless the Chinese are much more humanitarian than Americans. The crappy quality products we currently have would soon break, but not be replaceable. People would have to improvise.

So, the best case is that the US becomes like Cuba, an economy that has been deliberately starved.

However, fear not that this particular scenario will play out. If oil producing states fail to ship sufficient oil to us, we would go to war and take control of the oil. (In fact we've already started that program). How that will play out is very scary.



Ah, so you agree that it's about the over-consumption. I agree, lowering the consumption is one solution, one which appears to be occurring in the US.
Yes, but the main reason consumption has become a threat is that the population is huge. Think of it this way; how do you define "over-consumption" except as a level of per captia consumption that cannot sustained for the given population?

What reduced consumption are you referring to? I'm not aware of any substantial reductions in US consumption. Consumption will be reduced only when the resources are too expensive to afford. Our government should place substantial taxes on fuel now so that we can adapt in time to avoid collapse when the supply begins to dry up. Of course spoiled (and uninformed) Americans won't elect people with the guts to do that.



I don't think the issue is maturity. That's a smarmy way of looking at it. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made. If people have to starve, who do we choose and why, and how?... in a "mature" way?
You missed my point which was that if the population was only 1/10 or even much less of what it is today, there would be time to find long term solutions without warring over the resources and forcing a large part of the population to starve. In reality, the population is already too large for generosity in the distribution of resources. If everyone consumed like Americans, world consumption would grow by a factor five. That just can't happen.

Unfortunately, we still have economic theorists who think that growth is something without an end. Many people seem to believe that the US has massive untapped oil reserves for example; we just need to drill. Thus far, government, business and most of the people have behaved as if there are no limits. Everyone is out for themselves and quite unwilling to cooperate voluntarily.

Swift
2012-Aug-14, 01:39 AM
This discussion seems to be edging into some forbidden topics.

Discussions of hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations are fine. Historic examples of Earth civilizations, particularly as they relate to the rise and fall of civilizations are fine. Even non-specific examples from the present Earth may be fine.

But some of the comments seem to be on what current Earth governments should be doing about specific, current Earth issues, and that is not fine, that is getting into politics. Please try to avoid any such comments.

I also notice some heat in some of the comments and I would ask that people remember to keep it polite.

Thanks

Ara Pacis
2012-Aug-15, 07:31 PM
The government's role ...I don't think I can respond to this per Swift, but I hope it's okay to point out that different countries have different access to resources. The US uses a lot of resources and imports a lot of resources, but it also has a lot of resources, especially the most three most important, food, energy, and industrial.


Yes, but the main reason consumption has become a threat is that the population is huge. Think of it this way; how do you define "over-consumption" except as a level of per captia consumption that cannot sustained for the given population?I define it as using more than is strictly necessary. The debate is over what is necessary, not only in regards to survival/subsistence, but to "quality of life". So, this is also about what is the appropriate quality of life. Some might say individual-transportation but others will say mass-transit, and for the former some will say bicycles while others may say cars.


You missed my point...No, I just disagree. There are different methods of conflict resolution. I'm not making a value judgement. I'm just saying that both collaboration and confrontation can be effective and rational responses (see prisoner's dilemma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner's_dilemma)).