Sunday, August 16, 2015

Statistical Crap: Earth Overshoot Day

I have spoken many times about statistical claims that simply cannot be true because there is no way to actually know the data they crunch. Well, one of our loyal readers has sent me a link to a National Geographic article which promotes just such a steaming pile of fakeness. A group calling themselves Global Footprint Network has invented something called “Earth Overshoot Day” and it is utterly ridiculous.

According to GFN, Earth Overshoot Day is the day “the total combined consumption of all human activity on Earth in a year overtakes the planet’s ability to generate those resources for that year.” This supposedly happened on August 13... except it's crap.

It should be obvious right off the bat that this claim is utter horseship. Why? Because it logically cannot be true. They compare this to spending more than your yearly salary by that date and thus any further "spending" that you do during the year must be done on credit. But there is no bank holding natural resources which can be tapped. Indeed, if we eat all the world’s corn by August 13th, there is no one to loan us the corn that we eat in September and October and November? (Clearly, Santa provides for December.) So where does it come from?

Now, you could argue that maybe we’ve saved up corn somewhere so we are living on storage, except that this group claims that the first overshoot day occurred in 1970. So supposedly, for the past 45 years, we’ve been burning more resources than the Earth is capable of replacing. So how much storage can their be? And more to the point, doesn’t it seem odd that despite running a massive “debt” for 45 years that there are more forest lands now than ever... more food than ever... more clean water than ever... more oil reserves than ever? How can we spend more than the Earth can produce for 45 years and yet simultaneously our reserves keep going up? It’s not possible.

And that’s just one problem.

Another problem is that we have no idea what resources the Earth actually contains. Take the theory of “peak oil.” Since at least the 1970s, we’ve been told over and over that we’ve reached “peak oil,” meaning that we supposedly reached the point where all the oil has been found and we would now run out of reserves. Yet, every single year, more oil is found and “peak oil” gets pushed back. If you don’t know how many resources there are, how can you calculate when you will run out of those?

To get around this, these idiots use a theoretical measure of the Earth’s ability to produce resources. They take the amount of resources consumed and then multiply that need by the amount of space they think it takes to produce those resources. Hence, when their calculation leads to more land space than the Earth possesses, they conclude that we have exceeded the Earth’s capacity to produce resources... hence, Overshoot Day.

Yet, if this were at all accurate, how can it be that so much of the Earth remains unused even as we are living in times of massive surpluses? If these liars were right, we would be using every square inch of land and still struggling with scarcity. But we aren’t. I guess they forgot to carry a one somewhere.

Another problem with their method is that it does nothing to account for improvements in technology. This was the failure behind the scaremongering in the 1970s when leftists like this predicted the population bomb, the draining of the last drop of oil, and massive starvation. Those leftists pretended that science could not get more resources from less land, but that is exactly what happened.

They also clearly have no concept of substitutes. For example, we could drop oil and switch to natural gas where we have hundreds of years of reserves. We could switch power plants to nuclear and have thousands of years of reserves. Wanna bet they’ve ignored that?

This is the problem with theories like this: they are garbage. They only work if you take a static view of the world and you ignore lots of truths and you accept estimates that sound great on paper but make no sense if you do so much as peek out your window.

This is typical of environmentalists and it’s why they struggle to win over a public who should happily embrace their cause. You can’t win people over when your theories are such obvious BS that people instinctively know they are wrong before they even think about them. Sure, you can get some mindless leftist journalists to repeat them, but the public will never buy it. And ultimately, all you end up doing is discrediting your own side. Nice work Global Footprint Network.


Critch said...

Yep, I'm 62 and I still haven't seen the millions of deaths to starvation (except politically induced famine), the Ice Age Coming back, running out of oil, food, land, water, you name it. These people are just hack scientists, Hell, they're just hack science involved...what I have seen is Leftist governments slaughter millions of people, (Cambodia, Red China, Rwanda, did I miss any?) Yep, if it's a big fat lie you can bet a socialist is behind it.

tryanmax said...

Just what's written in your second paragraph was enough to trip my BS trigger. But most people aren't able to get beyond that instinctual reaction. They know what's right but they just can't explain it. That's where leftists step in to tell people with intelligent guts that those instincts are wrong. (They're also ready to tell the bleeding-hearts how right their instincts are, but that's another matter.)

Conservatives could do a better job of explaining how those truth-detecting instincts are correct. Too many right-wingers have gotten into the game of justifying knee-jerk nonsense -- much of which is opinion-based and doesn't even fall in the realm of fact v. fiction -- and ignore opportunities to expose outright falsehoods like this one.

They're also too concerned with beating idiots over the head with their wrongness: "The moon is made of cheese!" "Idiot! You're wrong, wrong, wrong! Admit it!"

When they should be working to sway the perplexed middle: "How can the moon be made of cheese?" "It's can't, and here's why..."

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, Funny, isn't it? All the bad stuff we were assured were happening if we didn't abandon capitalism TODAY somehow never arrived. Imagine that!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I concur. It's amazing how often the left's theories fly in the face of the instinctual BS detector. That's why they have such a hard time selling them to the public. That's also why it should be so easy for conservatives to shoot down the left's attempts: we just need to focus on who our audience is and how to reach them best. Getting into a pissing contest with leftist doesn't help, only teaching the public why they should ignore the left does.

Kit said...

"Getting into a pissing contest with leftist doesn't help, only teaching the public why they should ignore the left does."

But getting into pissing contests is so much easier!

Kit said...

"All the bad stuff we were assured were happening if we didn't abandon capitalism TODAY somehow never arrived."

That tends to be the general flow of things.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It is easier. It's hard to explain why something is wrong, it's easy to toss accusation at someone instead.

BevfromNYC said...

But I have notice even when it's NOT particularly hard to explain and even really, really easy, we still resort to accusations. Not "we' as in us, but other "we's". I think maybe because it's just so much more fun in an "anonymous- ring-someone's-doorbell-&-run" kind of way. But in the case of politicians, no one likes a policy wonk these days.

Critch said...

There are times when I think the RNC and the DNC get together and laugh at what they've pulled off. The GOP has proven to be spineless and their excuse is that they're afraid of looking bad...I mean don't they have someone who knows how to fight? Boehner strikes me as the kid the kid who always got picked last in gym class.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think that's just modern cynicism. Society has reached a point where everyone has essentially become a paranoid a-hole, and that is just a manifestation of that.

BevfromNYC said...

Andrew - I don't think that we are necessarily more cynical or "a-holey" than before. I think we just have giant global megaphones that amplify it. Not only can I complain to my family, neighbors and friends, but now I can complain to strangers in 100 countries and territories all over the world at the same time without leaving the comfort of my couch. We have entered an new era of "over-sharing".

Btw, the Bulletin of The Atomic Energy, as of 2015, we are 3 minutes from total nuclear really who cares how many people who are supposed to be theoretically starving to death by now....;-P

And then there's the " giant-comet-smashing-into-the-Earth" scenarios.

And aliens...don't forget the aliens.

Critch said...

I've encountered aliens, they made me drink,,,I think they used some kind of ray or something,,,generally they were dressed as cocktail waitresses....I can believe they saved the world...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think we are more cynical and a-holey than before. In fact, there was an article the other day that really just struck home for me once more. So jerk had written an article in which they compared the cover art for the Atari 2600 games against what the game actually looked like. They kept calling this "deceptive" and talked about how this tricked gamers into buying the game.

Uh, no.

Not one person who grew up in that era would have expected the cover art to represent what the game would look like, and no one would have considered this deceptive. This was the era of low resolution graphics and imagination and the cover art was meant to spark the imagination, not tell you what the game looked like.

It really takes someone deeply cynical to think that this was an attempt to deceived or that it would have worked.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I've met those aliens as well. ;-)

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