FYI [HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary]

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Tael
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FYI [HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary]

Post#1 » Jun 06 2009 02:04

Hi Everyone,

As many of the veterans know, I'm very much into ecological awareness and in general.. things that make you go hmmm? (thoughtful pose)

Recently as yesterday a film appeared, directed and produced by two of the more significant contemporary directors of recent years. The global premiere of the new film HOME, by world-renowned photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, was one of the major worldwide events taking place for World Environment Day, with more than 100 locations around the world. Screenings - including star-studded premieres at the Eiffel Tower and in New York City's Central Park - were free of charge, and the film was also be available for free download on YouTube.

Using the stunning aerial footage that is Arthus-Bertrand's trademark, the film - shot in more than 50 countries - makes an urgent appeal for our planet in peril and all its treasures, arguing that we have barely ten years left to reverse its destruction.

HOME the Film :
http://www.youtube.com/homeproject

Please do watch this with your siblings, even the family. This is being informed in the best way. Considering we all like tau and in general admire their nature of collective effort, I suspect each of us know when it is best to work together. I hope you enjoy this film, despite its sobering information, you gain a better perspective on the major issues of our time.

Further reading : 100 site for Greener living

~ Sebastian (Tael)

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Kies'el
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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#2 » Jun 06 2009 03:24

I cant shake the feeling that fear & apathy on the part of the general populous is going to be the deciding factor in the natural world NOT being saved...

Most people don't understand enough to realize what they should really be afraid of, are afraid of what they don't understand, and don't really care enough find out which is which.


For example, one of the primary markets for SUV's, were people who bought them to feel safe in the event of a accident with a large vehicle.
But the only reason there were so many large vehicles on the road was because of all the people buying SUV's.
The only reason that the SUV market fell through, is because people's fear of running out of money for gas, exceeded their fear of being run over by SUVs.

None of those people actually understood on an emotional level, that their choice of vehicle was directly contributing to the death of our planet.
They may have known on an intellectual level what global warming & greenhouse gasses mean, but they didn't truly understand what they were doing.

Just look at L.A., people didn't take urban smog seriously until people started choking do death on it (literally).

In order to get the USA on the road to ecological responsibility, we would require the overhaul of 2/3 of the nation's power grid, and trillions of dollars in new electrical infrastructure to replace our consumption of petrol.
I just can't see that happening without something putting the proverbial "fear of god" into the general populace.

And that isn't going to happen until the crisis has already struck, and it is far too late to take the preventative measures that would have saved the world from it ever happening in the first place.


And that is with Americans who actually do have some sympathy for the environment.

Imagine trying to tell a 3rd world country wracked with ignorance & poverty, that they can't have electricity to build a water purification plant, and that they cant chop down the jungle to make more farmland with which to feed their starving populace.

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#3 » Jun 06 2009 03:57

I'm at times overly optimistic myself Kis'el. You've voiced the issues I tend to keep to myself. Such mass infrastructure and investment just doesn't change in a decade.

The only real places we can affect this are through the generation methods for electricity and consumerism. Hit those bad boys and we make some big numbers on the board for changing.. possibly though, not soon enough.

Changing what people buy cripples the big boys.. point in case.. GM. They went bankrupt because no one was buying on top of insanely poor financial management in the USA. People can still bring down the greatest of corporations.

Do watch the film though, despite its sombre tones! :)

~ T.

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T'olku Ma'tyr
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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#4 » Jun 06 2009 04:21

I find myself often guilty of having these issues only ever in the back of my mind. I'll always be worrying about school, friends, family, and all the other cliche's when I should probably be getting up to turn off the light.
When Kis'el mentioned putting the "fear of god" into America's general populace I remembered thinking that that was what George Bush did. Presumably to keep himself in power. I think it'd be better if instead of feeding the superstitions and religious wrath that most of America fears, they were taught a thing or two. However, I respect the forum rules about political arguments and don't want a reply to these remarks.

Anyway, downloading now, despite complaints from my various overdue homework assignments.
Wolfie wrote:... is it just a natural talent?

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#5 » Jun 06 2009 05:23

I just finished watching the film, and I'm going to go out on a limb here & state that some of the messages given by the end of the film are tragically misguided.


The message about meat being wasteful of grain, ignores key issues concerning the feasibility of vegetarian diets. Unless you want miscarriages, underweight births, & malnourishment, you cannot put pregnant & nursing women on a soy/grain based vegetarian diet.
Additionally, there are areas where growing grain crops is unfeasible, but range livestock can be raised on land not suitable for commercial agriculture, without diverting human food supplies. This aspect is completely ignored by the film in order to make its point about food waste.


Particularly significant is that unless the countries currently on the verge of starvation stop overpopulating immediately, then they are all going to starve to death and there is nothing the rest of the world will be able to do about it, & no amount of cooperation will save them. No matter what the film says.

The world can only sustainably feed up to 8 billion people using the modern farming practices & all arable land available today, and we are already up to 7 billion. To get that number we would have to modernize the farms of every developing country, and additionally start converting parkland to food production. While we already produce nearly that amount of food with our current land use, we don't have the water resources to sustain it indefinitely.
Even worse, that 8 billion number is already falling due to erosion destroying potential farmland, and when the sea level rises 25ft, expect that number to drop to something more on the order of 4-6 billion. (at the very least until the new climate stabilizes & new coastal plains form.)

This means that many, many, people are eventually going to die and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of inevitable deaths.
The only hope for the several billion people that will get the short end of the stick, is for global warming to be halted in time to save whats left of the Ice caps.

And the ironic thing is that even if the modernized world manages to go completely green in time to stop it, all of those overpopulated developing countries are liable to finish the job themselves, and kill themselves off.


To make matters worse. When the famines start, any nations that attempt to supply more food than they can sustainably produce to alleviate the starvation overseas, will deplete their own resources & cause a famine in their own country.
Even with a massive loss of food production, places like America can still produce enough to feed their own populations, but not everyone else in the world at the same time. The US is already depleting its water resources to produce the food to feed 2 billion people, and the only way to fix that is to reduce production drastically to give the aquifers time to replenish. Of course this would mean that the starvation would start now instead of 20 years from now.
If things continue the way they are with American water consumption, we are going to run low right when everyone else runs completely dry, and we are going to have to make the choice between running dry ourselves & cutting off the supply to the rest of the world.

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#6 » Jun 12 2009 11:13

It's not really going out on a limb, Kies'el, criticism is easy, cheap, and generally without consequences.

Kies'el wrote:The message about meat being wasteful of grain, ignores key issues concerning the feasibility of vegetarian diets. Unless you want miscarriages, underweight births, & malnourishment, you cannot put pregnant & nursing women on a soy/grain based vegetarian diet.


Actually, there's plenty of evidence that vegetarian women can bring perfectly healthy children to term. As far as I know (and in my own experience) no vegetarian is really "healthy" on a "grain-based" diet, if by this you mean consuming primarily grains. However, a diet of varied plant-products can provide all the amino acids you need to create proteins. Fats and fatty-acids are harder to come by, but still available. My grandmother is in her 80s, a lifelong vegetarian and still spry, smart, and healthy. She has several children (now parents and grandparents themselves), all of whom seem none the worse for her vegetarian ways.

A quick google search yielded one worthwhile resource right off the bat: http://www.eatright.org/ada/files/veg.pdf

Kies'el wrote:Additionally, there are areas where growing grain crops is unfeasible, but range livestock can be raised on land not suitable for commercial agriculture, without diverting human food supplies. This aspect is completely ignored by the film in order to make its point about food waste.


This is true to an extent. However, although sustainable meat production is possible in some areas, this does not change the fact that the majority of meat production in the world is done "unsustainably", using excesses of water and arable land which could generate many times more food for the same resource consumption were they not directed towards the meat industry. In addition, the deforestation of areas in order to graze cattle continues to be a problem. To say that on the micro-scale there are some particular places and methods that are sustainable sustainable does not disprove the problems at the macro-scale.

On a similar note, I have read articles lately that some of our global fisheries are recovering strongly due to smart husbandry of those resources, so the claim in the film that all of the world's fish stocks are facing complete obliteration also seems to be an overstatement. However, for every healthy fishery, there are many more that are being depleted because of unsustainable fishing. So again, although there are seemingly sustainable models out there, the overall trend is towards depletion, and hence the call for action.

Kies'el wrote:Particularly significant is that unless the countries currently on the verge of starvation stop overpopulating immediately, then they are all going to starve to death and there is nothing the rest of the world will be able to do about it, & no amount of cooperation will save them. No matter what the film says.

The world can only sustainably feed up to 8 billion people using the modern farming practices & all arable land available today, and we are already up to 7 billion. To get that number we would have to modernize the farms of every developing country, and additionally start converting parkland to food production. While we already produce nearly that amount of food with our current land use, we don't have the water resources to sustain it indefinitely.
Even worse, that 8 billion number is already falling due to erosion destroying potential farmland, and when the sea level rises 25ft, expect that number to drop to something more on the order of 4-6 billion. (at the very least until the new climate stabilizes & new coastal plains form.)


I've seen pretty widely varied estimates on how many people the earth can feed sustainably, but there's no question that our population is reaching the top of the curve. In most animal species, this results in a downward fluctuation as the death-rate increases until the population reaches equilibrium (or a chaotic oscillation around an attractor in phase space, if you like). Obviously, the problem is that most species aren't as resourceful at survival as mankind. So we're artificially extending the growth of the curve.

Unfortunately, even when all other resources escape them, the destitute can still produce children, and if they rely on manual labor for their livelihood, need to produce those children! But how do you stop the growth cycle? I don't know the answer. It does seem that there are areas where sex education and availability of birth control do empower women to have more control over the dangers and hardships of bearing and raising children in hardship, but such education and availability of resources requires money and social acceptance, and only works where those women actually wish not to bear children.

Kies'el wrote:This means that many, many, people are eventually going to die and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of inevitable deaths.
The only hope for the several billion people that will get the short end of the stick, is for global warming to be halted in time to save whats left of the Ice caps.

And the ironic thing is that even if the modernized world manages to go completely green in time to stop it, all of those overpopulated developing countries are liable to finish the job themselves, and kill themselves off.


Probably true, but what's your point? Is this a reason not to take action? What's your alternative?

Kies'el wrote:To make matters worse. When the famines start, any nations that attempt to supply more food than they can sustainably produce to alleviate the starvation overseas, will deplete their own resources & cause a famine in their own country.
Even with a massive loss of food production, places like America can still produce enough to feed their own populations, but not everyone else in the world at the same time. The US is already depleting its water resources to produce the food to feed 2 billion people, and the only way to fix that is to reduce production drastically to give the aquifers time to replenish. Of course this would mean that the starvation would start now instead of 20 years from now.
If things continue the way they are with American water consumption, we are going to run low right when everyone else runs completely dry, and we are going to have to make the choice between running dry ourselves & cutting off the supply to the rest of the world.


This is why taking action now is imperative. We may well be beyond the "prevention" stage in this situation, which seems to be your point. In an imminent car accident, one continues to apply the brakes even after there is no hope of avoiding the collision, because one is reducing the level of severity of the outcome. If our choice is between full-on collision and all passengers lost, or slowing enough to save the folks in the back seat, I'm choosing the latter. But then, I happen to think humanity's continued existence and that of our ecosystem are worth some effort.

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#7 » Jun 12 2009 12:23

Kies'el wrote:The world can only sustainably feed up to 8 billion people using the modern farming practices & all arable land available today, and we are already up to 7 billion. To get that number we would have to modernize the farms of every developing country, and additionally start converting parkland to food production. While we already produce nearly that amount of food with our current land use, we don't have the water resources to sustain it indefinitely.
Even worse, that 8 billion number is already falling due to erosion destroying potential farmland, and when the sea level rises 25ft, expect that number to drop to something more on the order of 4-6 billion. (at the very least until the new climate stabilizes & new coastal plains form.)

If things continue the way they are with American water consumption, we are going to run low right when everyone else runs completely dry, and we are going to have to make the choice between running dry ourselves & cutting off the supply to the rest of the world.


OK, back to the PopSci archives. Basically some people are designing skyscrapers that are farms- so you get much more food out of the same amount of land. I'm not sure if they have any sort of water consumption rate reductions.

The future will be the bomb....if we live to see it.
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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#8 » Jun 12 2009 02:26

Nitpick: the World is and will be fine. We're the ones in trouble. We're not "saving the planet", we're saving ourselves. After we're all dust, the other species will take over again.

Anyway.

The problem: we'll soon have too many people for our food production capabilities to sustain. The surface area of the planet and the amount of energy available in the system (our resources) are finite. The potential for populational growth is effectively infinite. The point isn't that the planet can only sustain 8 billion humans as it is, the real point is that we'll soon go over that limit. Overpopulation is the issue here, not wasteful management of resources. All the technology in the world won't avoid the upcoming food crisis, simply because it's unavoidable if our population keeps expanding.

As P'Shar said, we're too crafty for natural selection. Just look at how many people here wouldn't have survived to adulthood if it weren't for technological advances. While in a natural system things would even out at some point, in our situation we'll just keep coming up with stopgap solutions for having too many people and not enough food. The solution is population control and an effective logistic chain for food distribution. We can't push the technology forward only after we found out we need it, otherwise we're going to have famines one after the other as we keep going over our own production capacity.

Controlling the amount of people in any given place (all the way up to the entire planet) is one side of it. Many people starve because they live in areas that once could, but now can't sustain their own growth. I've seen that happening plenty of times in the northeastern region of my country: a small village in the middle of nowhere could survive even the harshest droughts, but once it grew into a city, people were forced to move out or die because it was impossible to produce enough food for everybody on the spot, and buying food from somewhere else was too expensive. Same thing happens in many places in Africa. It's very important for a country to try to control its birth rates so, over the course of generations, the country doesn't have more people than it can effectively feed. Relying on imported food for much of its needs is just making the problem worse, as once the country that's exporting the food hits its own threshold, the country goes into an even worse crisis. The recent food crisis in Asia is a very good example of that: countries exported so much rice that their people started starving because the rice prices in the rice-producing countries skyrocketed. The problem here is that producing extra food (as the US does) and not selling it (which is what should be done) goes against the capitalist system. If we start doing that overnight, the whole thing will come crashing down.

As I mentioned, controlling growth rates is vital part of the issue: there should never be more people in a certain administrative area than there is food to feed them. We will probably never have a global government that could oversee this, so every country would have to do it its own way. Again, this is a slow process, but stabilizing the global population at, say, 8 billion people, and allowing tiny growth rates would give technology time to catch up and develop more efficient food production methods. We'd reach a limit, eventually, and the population would have to be kept at that level to avoid a crisis, but at least the journey there would be a lot smoother.

And here's a really important thing: even if it sounds heartless or inhuman, countries suffering food shortages due to overpopulation should not be given food aid. Technological leases for developing better farming techniques, sure. It allows the country to become self-sustaining after the population stabilizes again. But having the rest of the world bracing the country when its situation is naturally unsustainable is not acceptable. And that's the whole point: it's not that people might die, it's that if a country oversteps its bounds some people will have to die to balance it out. There's no way around this. If a company's profits are not enough to sustain its workforce, some will have to be laid off so the company can survive, it's same thing here, only on a species level. We can't save everybody, either some people are thrown off, or the whole lifeboat will sink.

No, it can't be all done at once. All those things must happen gradually, but they must be executed uniformly. Countries, states and cities should take responsibility for their people, and pay for it if they fail to prevent a crisis. What plagues, droughts and wars once did, we'll have to do ourselves: we have to keep our numbers in check, deal with any eventual excesses, and only grow when the conditions allow for it.

*steps down from the soapbox*
I am the poster formerly known as Omega2.

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#9 » Jun 12 2009 04:34

tl;dr

But here is a picture I drew of a space dinosaur shedding a single tear for the folly of mankind.

Image
EDIT: you can't see the tear because it is in space and light refracts weird there.

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#10 » Jun 12 2009 07:53

While it is hardly the last word in population studies and statistics, the 2008 revision of the UN's study into WOrld Population Prospects does help to provide some useful and measured info for projections about population statistics. The 26 point executive summary starting on pg vii, is a good breakdown of the main points of the document.

http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_highlights.pdf

One of the most salient points of the document is that if there can be a substantial increase in access to family planning resources and modern contraception methods in the 'less developed countries,' (the meaning of which is defined on pg v) world population might realistically stabilize below 10 billion by around 2050, at which point it could even start declining (see pg viii).

For anyone wanting some dense and academic but very informative reading on this topic, ie. world populations, resources, economics, history and theories about population analysis and projections, I highly recommend Massimo Livi-Bacci's book A Concise History of World Population, 4th ed.
http://www.amazon.com/Concise-History-World-Population/dp/0631204555
Unfortunately, this was published in 2007, so it is not up to date with the most recent statistics such as the report I've linked to above, but nonetheless it is pretty current and he does a really good and measured job of explaining some of the main problems associated with conventional thinking about population growth, its problems and potential solutions. You can read an abstract of the book on Amazon at the link above, however, I have yet to read any articles by him dealing with the 2008 revision so I don't know what his take is on some of the more optimistic predictions that it puts forward. If I find anything else I'll post it here.

Cheers!

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#11 » Jun 12 2009 08:55

The problem with the population stabilizing at 10 billion, is that as previously mentioned, the maximum possible food production with present technology is around 8 billion.

Additionally, that number assumes that each person is getting near the bare minimum amount of food required for survival.

The current average food usage per person would require 2.7 global hectares of agricultural land per person. However, there are only 13.4 billion hectares of productive land on the planet.
That means that with currently available land, the earth could only sustain 5 billion people using sustainable agriculture, at our current consumption rates.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_hectare

If you wanted to support our current population sustainably, and maintained the same average food consumption, you would need at least 20% more land than is actually available. (1.2 earths)
If you wanted to sustainably support our current population with food standards on par with western europe, you would require 3 times the amount of land that is currently available.


Even if we were to drastically curb our consumption of agricultural resources in the manner suggested by the film;
We would still have the problem that our population is not going to naturally stabilize before it exceeds the carrying capacity of Earth.

The only way that the sustainable agricultural solutions presented by the film would work, is if we stabilized our population before we hit the 8 billion mark, and also substantially reduced consumption per person at the same time.
Reducing consumption alone will not be enough, because sustainable agriculture is inherently less productive, and requires higher efficiency farming to even feed the population we have now.


I really don't see that happening unless there is a massive worldwide viral epidemic with a death toll on the scale of the 14th century bacterial bubonic plague. (which killed around 20% of the world population at the time)
Even the worst viral epidemic, the 1918 spanish flu which killed upwards 5% of the world population, is far short of what would be necessary. (& it would have to be viral, since even the most backwards countries have access to penicillin these days.)

Another possible outcome which might ironically allow for a sustainable population would be a localized nuclear war, between nations with high populations.
While a global nuclear war would likely cause massive climate change, a smaller nuclear exchange would an effect no more severe than a major volcanic eruption.

The possibility of food shortages causing war between India & Pakistan could start such an exchange, as could as a war between china & russia.
It is highly doubtful that any of the western nuclear powers would risk escalation by interfering with force if such a conflict were to go nuclear. (although it is doubtful that any of the countries mentioned would risk nuclear weapons anyways, since there is no real threat of invasion in either of the 2 examples given.)

Case in point showing the possibility of small scale nuclear war: The USA resupplied the ammunition & fuel stockpiles of the Israelis during the Yom Kippur war, even though they knew OPEC would embargo, because the Israelis told Kissinger that if they lost any more ground, they would begin launching nuclear weapons at arab targets. (20 intermediate range ballistic missiles were even fueled & armed in preparation.)

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#12 » Jul 04 2009 04:27

I think the phrase "Present Technology" needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

IIRC a article I read in '06 said that for every fact we knew in 1996 we knew 1000 in 2006. That number is increasing exponentially and the study said that in 2016 we would know 2k-5k facts for every single fact we knew in '06. It is entirely possible that a number of these facts could give us better ways of growing agriculture.

Conservation has never been a human strength. We have to try to conserve as much as possible but it is simply not enough, even if we could get every single person to become a conservationist.

Innovation is a human strength. I really believe Conservation is just a stop gap to allow Innovation to solve (or at least create a more reliable stop-gap...) the climate/population crisis.

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Re: [Watch This] HOME the Film. An Ecological Documentary.

Post#13 » Jul 04 2009 04:48

In the mean time I will wait for the food riots OH and ........WE DIDNT LISTEN! :P
SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!!!!!

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