Jay Hanson

Whatta Hero!
David Suzuki
What Limits?

Laws of Ecology

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These laws have been observed to hold rigorously.
We start by repeating three laws of human ecology that are given by Garrett Hardin (Hardin, 1993). These are fundamental, and need to be known and recognized by all who would speak of sustainability.

Garrett Hardin's Three Laws of Human Ecology

First Law of Human Ecology:
We can never do merely one thing.
This is a profound and eloquent observation of the interconnectedness of nature.

Second Law of Human Ecology:
There's no away to throw to.
This is a compact statement of one of the major problems of the effluent society.

Third Law of Human Ecology:
The impact (I) of any group or nation on the environment is represented qualitatively by the relation

Where P is the size of the population, A is the per capita affluence, measured by per capita rate of consumption, and T is a measure of the damage done by the technologies that are used in supplying the consumption. Hardin attributes this law to Ehrlich and Holdren (Ehrlich and Holdren, 1971).
The suggestion may be made that the Third Law is too conservative. The Third Law suggests that I varies as pn where n = 1. There are situations where the impact of humans increases more rapidly than linearly with the size of the population P so that n > 1.

Boulding's Three Theorems
These theorems are from the work of the eminent economist Kenneth Boulding (Boulding, 1971).

First Theorem: "The Dismal Theorem"
If the only ultimate check on the growth of population is misery, then the population will grow until it is miserable enough to stop its growth.

Second Theorem: The Utterly Dismal Theorem
Any technical improvement can only relieve misery for a while, for so long as misery is the only check on population, the technical improvement will enable population to grow, and will enable more people to live in misery than before. The final result of technical improvements, therefore, is to increase the equilibrium population which is to increase the total sum of human misery.

Third Theorem: The moderately cheerful form of the Dismal Theorem
If something else, other than misery and starvation, can be found which will keep a prosperous population in check, the population does not have to grow until it is miserable and starves, and it may be stably prosperous.

Fortunately, it is not too difficult to restate the Dismal Theorem in a moderately cheerful form. Boulding continues, "Until we know more, the Cheerful Theorem remains a question mark. Misery we know will do the trick. This is the only sure fire automatic method of bringing population to an equilibrium'. Other things may do it.


First Law
Population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources cannot be sustained.

A) A population growth rate less than or equal to zero and declining rates of consumption of resources are necessary conditions for a sustainable society.
B) Unsustainability will be the certain result of any program of "development," whether or not it is said to be "sustainable," that ignores the problem of population growth and that does not plan the achievement of zero or a period of negative growth of populations and of rates of consumption of resources.
C) The research and regulation programs of governmental agencies that are charged with protecting the environment and promoting "sustainability" are, in the long run, irrelevant unless these programs address vigorously and quantitatively the determination of optimal population sizes that can be carried indefinitely arid unless the programs study in depth the demographic causes and consequences of environmental problems.
D) Societies, or sectors of a society, that depend on population growth or growth in their rates of consumption of resources, are unsustainable.
E) Persons who advocate population growth and/or growth in the rates of consumption of resources are advocating unsustainability.
F) Persons whose actions directly or indirectly cause increases in population or in the rates of consumption of resources are moving society away from sustainability. (Advertising your city or state as an ideal site in which to locate new factories indicates a desire to increase the population of your city or state.)
G) The term sustainable growth is an oxymoron.

H) The term sustainable development is an oxymoron while human numbers are increasing.

Buddycom note:
The term sustainable development in the presence of either constant or increasing human numbers is an oxymoron. Sustainability is directly dependant upon human impact. Development is the product of affluence and technology, AT, in the expression for impact,
I = PAT.
The product of AT continues to increase for humans whether P is constant or increasing. Sustainability is conditional upon impact, I, being either zero or constant.

Second Law:
The larger the population of a society, and/or the larger its rates of consumption of resources, the more difficult it will be to transform the society to the condition of sustainability.

Third Law :
The response time of populations to changes in the total fertility rate is the length of time people live, or approximately fifty to seventy years. The consequence of this is called population momentum.

A) If we want the population sizes to be reduced or at least stabilized by the mid-twenty-first century, we must make the necessary changes in the total fertility rates before the end of the twentieth century.
B) We live in a time of short time horizons.
C) It will be difficult to convince people to act now to change course, when the full results of the change may not be apparent until later in those people's lifetimes.

Fourth Law The size of population that can be sustained (the carrying capacity) and the sustainable average standard of living of the population are inversely related to one another.

A) The higher the standard of living one wishes to sustain, the more urgent it is to reduce population size.
B) Reductions in the rates of consumption of resources and reductions in the rates of production of pollution can shift the carrying capacity in the direction of sustaining a larger population.

Fifth Law
Sustainability requires that the size of the population be less than or equal to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem for the desired standard of living.

A) Sustainability requires an equilibrium between human society and stable ecosystems.
B) Destruction of ecosystems tends to reduce the carrying capacity and/or the sustainable standard of living.
C) The rate of destruction of ecosystems increases as the rate of growth of the population increases.
D) Population growth rates less than or equal to zero are necessary, but are not sufficient, conditions for halting the destruction of the environment.

Sixth Law: (The lesson of "The Tragedy of the Commons," Hardin, 1968):
The benefits of population growth and of growth in the rates of consumption of resources accrue to a few individuals; the costs of population growth and growth in the rates of consumption of resources are borne by all of society.

A) Individuals who benefit from growth will continue to exert strong pressures supporting and encouraging both population growth and growth in rates of consumption of resources.
B) The individuals who promote growth are motivated by the recognition that growth is good for them. In order to gain public support for their goals, they must convince people that population growth and growth in the rates of consumption of resources are also good for society. This is the Charles Wilson argument: If it is good for General Motors, it is good for the United States* (Yates, 1983).

Seventh Law
Growth in the rate of consumption of a non-renewable resource, such as a fossil fuel, causes a dramatic decrease in the life-expectancy of the resource.

A) In a world of growing rates of consumption of resources, it is seriously misleading to state the life-expectancy of a nonrenewable resource "at present rates of consumption," i.e., with no growth.
B) It is intellectually dishonest to advocate growth in the rate of consumption of a nonrenewable resource while, at the same time, reassuring people about how long the resource will last "at present rates of consumption."

Eighth Law
The time of expiration of nonrenewable resources can be postponed, possibly for a very long time;

by (i) technological improvements in the efficiency with which the resources are recovered and used; (ii) using the resources in accord with a program of "sustained availability" (Bartlett, 1986); (iii) recycling; (iv) the use of substitute resources.

Ninth Law
When large efforts are made to improve the efficiency with which resources are used, the resulting savings are easily and completely wiped out by the added resource needs that arise as a consequence of modest increases in population.

A) When resources are used more efficiently, the consequence often is that the "saved" resources are not put aside for the use of future generations, but instead are used immediately to encourage and support larger populations.
B) Humans have an enormous compulsion to find an immediate use for all available resources.

Tenth Law
The benefits of large efforts to preserve the environment are easily canceled by the added demands on the environment that result from small increases in human population.

Eleventh Law: (Second Law of Thermodynamics)
When rates of pollution exceed the natural cleansing capacity of the ecosystems, it is easier to pollute than it is to clean up the environment.

Twelfth Law: (Eric Sevareid's Law)
The chief cause of problems is solutions (Sevareid, 1970).

A) This law should be a central part of higher education, especially in engineering.

Thirteenth Law
Humans will always be dependent on agriculture.

A) Supermarkets alone are not sufficient.
B) The central task in sustainable agriculture is to preserve agricultural land. The agricultural land must be protected from losses due to things such as (i) erosion; (ii) urbanization and development; (iii) poisoning by chemicals; (iv) salinization; (v) waterlogging; (vi) the re-creation of quasi-natural habitat or the desire for it.

Fourteenth Law
If, for whatever reason, humans fail to stop population growth and growth in the rates of consumption of resources, nature will stop these growths.

A) Nature's method of stopping growth is cruel and inhumane.
B) Glimpses of nature's method of dealing with population that have exceeded the carrying capacity of their lands can be seen each night on the television news reports from places where large populations are experiencing starvation and misery.

Fifteenth Law
Starving people do not care about sustainability. If sustainability is to be achieved, the necessary leadership and resources must be supplied by people who are not starving.

Sixteenth Law
The addition of the word "sustainable" to our vocabulary, to our reports, programs, and papers, and to the names of our academic institutes and research programs, is not sufficient to ensure that our society becomes sustainable.

Seventeenth Law:
Extinction is forever.

This is from Albert Bartlett, Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Box 390, Boulder, CO 80309-0390

Law of Biodiversity Decay:

Biodiversity Decay.

Biodiversity Decay rate.

It is observed experimentally that with the ecological process of island formation, the abundance of biodiversity decreases in a geometrical progression as time increases arithmetically. The decay of biodiversity of fragmented islands follows first order kinetics.

Differentiating the general equation gives,

Therefore lambda represents the fraction of the total number of species which become extinct per unit of time. The biodiversity disintegration factor, lambda has a characteristic value for each island, and is dependant upon such things as the localized terrain, localized climatic conditions, predominant vegetation types and most importantly, size of the island and distance from very large main ecosystems. It appears to be an expression of the law of probability, for the average number of species going extinct per unit of time is proportional to the number of species present. From this standpoint the number of species going extinct per unit of time should not be constant for each unit of time but, the number should vary from one unit of time to another within certain limits predictable according to the theory of probability.

The following equations all apply to first order biodiversity decay in islands:
Rate = k*N
ln(No) - ln(N) =k*t
k = 0.693/t1/2
Here, N is the amount of biodiversity as numbers of distinct species, k is the 1st order rate constant, the equivalent of lambda, and t1/2 the half life for the island. You can also define an activity which is a measure of how many extinctions occur per unit of time. All three, the first order rate constant lambda, the t1/2, and the extinctions per unit time, the activity, are affected by each bisection and trisection of each remaining eco-island which are occuring with extreme rapidity. Specifically, t1/2 decreases, and both lambda or k, and extinctions per unit time, the activity, increase. Alternatively each bisection of an eco-island could be considered a formation of two smaller eco-islands with a lambda constant of a higher value.

Law of Demographic Impact:

Lambda = k + I, where I = PAT.
Perturbation of ecosystems and remnants of ecosystems, fragmented islands, is due to human influence and interaction. The ecological process of islandification is initiated by humans. Thereafter humans always interact with and have an impact upon the island. Taking into account the effects of human intervention upon biodiversity, lambda is therefore the sum of a constant k, plus the addend I, the human impact.

Unproven yet useful and popularly believed postulates and principles.

The Postulate of Percieved Demographic Impact,
also known, by consensus gentium, as the Sanitization Principle and the Moving Goalpost Theorum. Some Japanese have variously dubbed it the Plus alpha Principle or the Tate Mae Principle.

Humans, infinite in wisdom and ever vigilant for threats to their anthropocentric environment, particularly conceptual threats deriving from their own species, are able to view reality through a filter system of social construction, a consensus gentium. The consensus gentium places an aplha factor into the general expression for Biodiversity Decay which is proportional albeit opposite in absolute value to lambda such that the sum of alpha and lambda in every case is exactly equal to zero.

Where the sum of lambda plus alpha is zero, the exponent for e remains zero in perpetuity.

The ratio of starting to present species is always percieved as being one.

The SANI, or Species Absolute Numbers Index, value thereby remains quite socially acceptable since it is never percieved to be below 100; essentially the same today as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow. Evolutionary time need not be considered in Kansas, the viewer will remember.

What in the world constitutes the ecological crisis?

What constitutes the ecological crisis? With the plus alpha factor inserted into the expression for biodiversity decay, there is no percieved biodiversity decay. Japanese, Americans, and other humans must then look elsewhere for an answer to the question of just what in the world might actually constitute the Kankyou Mondai. Once the extermination of other life forms has been removed from consideration, the environment is all that's left. It's the equivalent of removing spirituality from our consideration of the ecological crisis. What's left? Ultimately there is only Economics. How utterly splendid! How convenient.

How magnificently clever humans are.

Brain Food articles index

Jay Hanson

Whatta Hero!

Mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru.

If you are intimidated, bored or angered by Plato, Aristotle, Cousteau, Malthus, Mill or Ehrlich, don't bother pointing your browser to Brain Food. It is interesting to consider that, "ehrlich" is an indication of Paul Ehrlich's truthfulness, for his very name means "honest, sincere and fair," in the German language.

Dr Paul Ehrlich

See also:

Lunatic Politics
Brain Food Home

Why worry? Be happy !
Limits? What limits?

Neko ni Koban, ne?

UN pop proj

Seventeenth Law:
Extinction is forever.