World Population Is Predicted to Start Decreasing during This Century

Torstai 21.3.2024 klo 18.54 - Mikko Nikinmaa

When the news is flooded with bad news about climate change, biodiversity loss, overuse of natural resources, environmental pollution etc., good news often go unnoticed. And the true good news has in the past years been that the world population is predicted to start decreasing before the end of this century. It will then continue to decline so that in about 300-500 years the population is back to around 2 billion – a marked decrease from the present 8 billion. This change will mean that all the environmental problems mentioned above are easier to tackle. One must notice, though, that the population decrease does not mean that we need not to change our ways of life to be environmentally sustainable. Otherwise the population decrease will only mean that environmental collapse takes place later than it would happen if human population continued to increase.

However, when the population starts to decrease, one needs to develop completely new economic principles. Today, a decrease of population is seen as a problem. Politics and governance have population growth as a wanted phenomenon. In the present-day thinking, only population growth enables the existence of welfare society. The wellbeing of societies is dependent of economic growth. This idea must change. Instead of aiming at getting more and more, societies should be satisfied with things being adequate.

In terms of climate change and other environmental actions, immediate responses are required. Their effectiveness is helped first by diminishing population growth and then by population decline. On the other hand, the principles for economics and politics, developed for declining population, need to be established in about fifty years. I hope there are scientists who are presently developing ideas for economics beyond year 2100.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, economic growth, sustainability, socioeconomics, politics

Biofuels are not ecologically or climate-wise friendly

Keskiviikko 24.1.2024 klo 13.39 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Burning causes carbon dioxide emissions. In the case of biofuels, the amount of carbon dioxide produced is actually higher than for fossil fuels. The claim that biofuels are climate-friendly is based on thinking that the produced carbon dioxide is taken up relatively rapidly by the plants used for further production of biofuels, i.e. the net emission of carbon dioxide can be zero, if the plants grown for  biofuels consume use up the carbon dioxide for oxygen production at the same rate as it is produced. However, this misses the point that burning causes carbon dioxide emissions, and any such emissions contribute to climate change. One could, and in my opinion should, decouple the plant growth, which is a carbon sink, and burning of plant products such as biofuels, which is a carbon dioxide emitter. One can grow plants without burning them.

Biofuels are produced especially using oil plants such as oil palm. Also other plants, such as maize and sugar cane are important sources of biofuels. Typically biofuels are produced by rich countries, often from plants grown in poor areas instead of food crops needed for the local population. This is true, e.g., for oil palm, which has got a really bad reputation. However, the bad reputation should not be warranted, if the palm oil were not used for biofuels but only for food oil. This would markedly reduce the need of agricultural land for oil plants, since oil palms produce at least 5-10 the amount of oil per unit area as other oil plants. Thus, if food oil production worldwide changed towards palm oil, decreased area of agricultural land were needed and more (tropical) forests could be saved (as soybean is one of the most important oil plants in use). So, ecologically, the important thing would not be to stop growing oil palms but stop producing biofuels made using them.

In addition to plants, food waste is a major source of biofuels. In my opinion, food and other wastes are good materials for thermal power plants, as then all the produced small particles and even carbon dioxide can be taken up by collectors inserted in chimneys. However, the carbon dioxide in car, truck, ship and plane exhausts will inevitably contribute to world’s carbon dioxide load. Further, in the case of food waste-based biofuel the link between carbon sink and source is more difficult to establish than for plant-based biofuel. In this case only the carbon dioxide produced in the burning process can reliably be established.

In conclusion, I do not think that biofuels are either ecologically or climatewise a sustainable solution. Instead, we should use cars and planes less, use e-meetings when we find them useful. Doing this we could easily diminish our need for biofuels for the short transition period from petrol- or diesel oil-using engines to more sustainable ones.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, palm oil, carbon dioxide emission, sustainability, oil plants, food waste

Fossil fuel use must be stopped

Torstai 9.11.2023 klo 19.42 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Use of fossil fuels is still increasing, although there cannot be any doubt about climate change. This year (2023) is going to be the hottest one globally in the recorded history, and unnormal weather – heavy rain, drought, storms etc. – has occurred throughout the world. In spite of the increasing cost of repairing infrastructure after foul weather and wildfires, which have also increased drastically, the conservative parties throughout the world maintain that one cannot go away from oil-based economy: according to them the continued use of fossil fuels is the only way to avoid going deeper in debt and thus required for the sake of future generations.

However, it is quite clear that oil, gas and coal burning are causing the climate-related problems. It has recently also become clear that climate change occurs more rapidly than has earlier been predicted. We are already approaching many tipping points, which cause problems for future generations’ lives. And whereas monetary loans can be left unpaid, changes in the physical environment cannot just be written off. Loan is just an agreement in which the lender gives money to the loaner taking interest, i.e., profit on the amount given. Since loan market functions, there must be funds somewhere enabling the loan-based economy. That is completely different from the physical condition of the world. There is no planet B which we could start to use once we have spoiled the Earth.

The conservative thinking that we can continue the use of fossil fuels to avoid getting deeper in debt is fallacy and not sustainable. We should get our priorities right: first, we must have healthy environment. If that cannot be done without increasing debt, we must loan more money.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, conservative, temperature increase, debt, sustainability

Greed is the reason for climate change, biodiversity loss and chemical pollution

Torstai 15.6.2023 klo 19.04 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Growth has been the ultimate aim of economies throughout the world. If economic growth of any area is smaller than in other countries, it reaches headline news. If there is no growth at all, media talk about recession and in worst case of doomsday looming. Growth was easy to reach as long as the number of people remained low so that it was impossible to use all the world’s resources and land, and cause significant pollution. However, those days are long past. Since there are now 8 billion of us and many consume the world’s resources excessively, the basic tenet of economic growth, i.e., no need to take environment into account in economic activity, is not possible any more. All today’s major problems, climate change, biodiversity loss and chemical pollution are symptoms of our overuse of the planet.

We have reached the stage in economic activity that any increase in material consumption causes a loss in other countries or environmental deterioration. And one needs to raise a question: what for? Currently used economic theories have two fatal flaws: first, they do not take into account that the planet we live in has limits and, second, they do not consider environment as a decisive component of economy. One still hears politicians and other decision makers saying that one needs to take economic realities into account before one can carry out environmental actions. They have not realized that environment is as much a part of economic realities as employment or industrial production.

So, what is the reason for the need of growth or increase in consumption? I remember times 50 years ago when the level of consumption was only a fraction of what it is today, almost sustainable. One was happy then with a lot fewer material goods than today. In fact, consuming a lot less than today would not decrease the overall quality of life. So why is degrowth such an evil thing? The main reason is probably that it doesn’t fit into the growth-based economic theories. Since economic growth is a necessity for healthy economy, degrowth is necessarily bad. However, economic growth does not take the environment into account. If it was done, old-fashioned economic growth could mean a reduction in the standard of living: if the state of the environment deteriorated as a result of the increased material growth, the quality of life would decrease. This is what is actually happening today.

Thus, because environment is not a part of economic thinking, its deterioration is not considered as an economic loss, although it should be. Since this is the case, greed becomes the major factor in causing all of the environmental problems that we experience today. As maximizing profits (=greed) is an economically acceptable thing, one does not take into account the environment as long as possible. And greed has led to climate change, biodiversity loss and chemical pollution. What is really worrisome is that even today most politicians, decision makers and voters/common people think that greed (=economic growth) should be the primary factor in policy making.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: economic growth, limits to growth, sustainability, overconsumption

Scientists have reported the effects of fossil fuels for hundred years

Lauantai 11.12.2021 klo 19.52 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Although the alarming effects of fossil fuel consumption have only become headline news only during the past 20 years, measurements done over 100 years ago have indicated that coal and oil burning cause increased carbon dioxide tension of the atmosphere. The measurements were done in 1902 when the Danish physiologist August Krogh took part in a scientific expedition to Greenland. He observed that the carbon dioxide tension of the atmosphere was slightly above that of the seawater. His conclusion was that burning of coal caused this mismatch. This information was published recently by Tobias Wang in FUNCTION, 2021, 2(6): zqab052.

So, scientists have reported the change of carbon dioxide tension and its reason for 100 years ago. However, nothing has been done to prevent the problem before it became critical. Even now people who would like to return to the past say that we should not try to be “so ambitious” in combatting climate change. Instead, we should think about the economy. I do not understand the division between economy and environment. In a world with limits, environment must be a part of every economic decision.  This is the major change that must be reached in economic thinking to enable sustainable economy.

Money is a poor substitute for healthy environment.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, sustainability, economy

Scientists' warning is not heard - or at least not acted upon

Maanantai 2.8.2021 klo 18.22 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Scientists have been trying to alert the public about how the present way of life is not sustainable ever since 1970’s. A very strong message with more than 10000 scientists endorsing the publication of data was written in 2019 indicating that unless strong measures are taken, many tipping points leading to drastic environmental deterioration are reached in the near future. After 2019 the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world, and the lead authors of the 2019 paper thought that it is good time to see, if any measures have been taken to heed the warning. In BioScience this July 28 (, Ripple et al. estimated what has happened during the pandemic time. For the most part the findings are bleak: the temperature, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide levels continue to increase, Antarctic, Greenland and overall glacier ice mass continue to decrease at a similar rate as before. What is almost worse is that although many climate-friendly changes took place as a result of the pandemic, almost all have started to revert to pre-pandemic levels. For example, the number of livestock has continued to increase, and all the media are just saying how we need to get the economic growth back to pre-pandemic track.

In the overall gloomy picture there are, however, a couple of bright spots. The first is that the number of births per woman continues to decrease. For ending up with sustainable human population, this is probably the most important trend and should be supported by improving the education of women. The second is the marked decrease in subsidies to fossil fuels. It has been quite funny that the same groups, who have been very vocally against any subsidies to green energy production, have wanted and accepted billions of dollars/euros in subsidies to oil and coal industries.

Stabilizing and reducing the human population by voluntary actions is the key behind making the life sustainable for all citizens of the world. Only with decreasing population can enough environment be kept in natural state to maintain biodiversity and to reduce the risks of new pandemics. Life in the globe with limits requires social justice, not that some superrich burn a lot of money to a few hours space travel.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, biodiversity loss, economic growth, sustainability, tipping points

Something to read/watch from world scientists' warning

Torstai 7.1.2021 klo 11.26 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Suggested social media post copy: Despite promising developments, the need for climate action has grown even more urgent this year - read “The Climate Emergency: 2020 in Review”:

Suggested social media post copy: Climate action is needed in 2021 – watch this video on “six steps” for climate mitigation

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, sustainability

Our future cannot depend on consumption

Keskiviikko 7.10.2020 klo 11.26 - Mikko Nikinmaa

At least one thing is certain, Earth has finite size. People may disagree on economic policies, but in the end Earth's limits dictate, what the economic thinking must converge to in the end: sustainability. This is because we do not have planet B, C, D etc. to continue economic policies, which do not take Earth's limits into account. For a long time it has been possible to base all the future scenarios on limitless growth. This has been possible, because human population had new areas to live in, because new material resources were always found and because the atmosphere, aquatic environment and unused land absorbed all our wastes and toxic materials without observable damage. Thus, economic theories are based on growth and we depend on population growth to maintain welfare state in European countries.

However, we have now reached tipping point. Economic growth requires increased consumption. Increased consumption requires the use of increased amount of resources, somewhere to dispose of wastes, increased land use to relieve anthropogenic pressures and so on. There are several indications that finite Earth cannot tolerate increased consumption any more. We have climate change, pandemic, biodiversity loss (6th extinction wave) and global pollution - for example about 1/3 of world's children are subjected to chronic lead poisoning. Despite all the indications that we cannot continue in the path of earlier generations, it has become very common to start defending nationalistic values and possessions at the expense of those bloody foreigners, especially in poor areas, who do not do their share, and whose work we in the rich areas can utilize to increase our consumption. This attitude is very short-sighted, as the limits to Earth do not follow national boundaries and no country can be hermetically sealed off from the earth.

People are saying that changing our feeding habits from meat-based to vegetarian diet would change the situation: combat climate change and limit pandemics. Yes, it would improve the situation momentarily, but if the economic theories were still based on limitless growth, after a lag time we would be back to the same problems we presently face. Its length would depend on the time that will be taken for the growth to eat up the environmental benefits that the new habits have given. Because of this, the only way to sustainability is to decrease consumption, where it is possible. It is also necessary to scrap the concept of dependency ratio, because it is completely unsustainable. Maybe this would buy us enough time to achieve, what is an ultimate necessity for sustainability, a reduction of human population.

One would need to develop a sustainability index, which takes into account both the consumption per person and population growth. By doing this, one could relate the actions in rich European and poor African and Asian countries. At present it is quite clear that one child born in USA causes a bigger load to the environment that ten born in Nigeria. Regardless, it is imperative that the consumption in the rich countries is decreased.

I hope that we can get away from the unfortunate truth in the "joke", where an economist says to an environmentalist: "Climate change and environmental distruction are just unfortunate consequences of having a healthy economy."

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, sustainability, population growth, economic theories

Lead Poisoning - a Problem Especially for Children in Poor Areas

Perjantai 31.7.2020 klo 16.55 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The first large-scale lead poisoning dates back to Roman times. Many historians are of the opinion that the downfall of Roman empire was partly due to large-scale lead poisoning. The drinking water was lead to Rome and some other big cities in lead aquaducts, with the consequence that some lead dissolved in water and was drunk. The amount of lead this obtained was enough to cause neurotoxicity.

The second time that concerns of common lead poisoning reached news was when car traffic using leaded fuel increased markedly in industrialized countries. This led to quite rapid phasing-out of lead in petrol in 1989’s. Lead was also an important component of paints in, e.g. kitchenware and toys, whereby everyone but especially children were exposed to toxic lead concentrations. Because of this, also lead-containing paints have been banned. As a result of the bans of lead in fuels and paints the lead levels in the blood of children in industrialized, rich countries has decreased to values which do not cause observable toxicity.

The toxicity of lead is especially harmful to children. Lead is primarily a neurotoxicant. It disturbs brain development. If brain development of a child is disturbed, the disturbance persists for the rest of the life. Lead-poisoning decreases the intelligence, increases aggressiveness and generally makes the affected people lethargic. It also decreases the attention time span; it has been estimated that a quarter of ADHD cases would, in fact, be caused by lead poisoning. There are also associations between lead poisoning an hearing acuity, which suggests that lead exposure may cause speech and language handicaps.

Above the level of 5 micrograms per decilitre (µg/dL), lead causes theIMG_20170813_01802.jpg intelligence, behaviour and learning problems as estimated by the American CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization), although WHO points out that there is no safe level of exposure. If the 5 µg/dL concentration is taken as the limit, a third of world’s children have exposure, which causes life-long effects. As children in industrialized countries do not normally have these high lead levels in their blood, this  is another problem between poor and rich countries.

We in industrialized countries have become aware that resources, such as metals, should be recycled. If this is done responsibly, it helps a lot for making the resource use in the world sustainable. However, many of the recycling companies are not in the business to help the earth but to make money. As a result, the “recycling” is done in poor countries, and no precautions, which would be required in Europe and North America, are followed. Because of this, recycling lead-acid car batteries has become the single most important source of lead exposure for children in poor countries. Thus, one should demand that recycling must be done in the commercial area, where the product is used. In addition to car batteries, lead-containing paints and toys containing lead are still common in poor areas.

A more detailed account of lead problem in children is the report by UNICEF and Pure Earth:  The Toxic Truth: Children’s Exposure to Lead Pollution Undermines a Generation of Future Potential, which is available at


Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: metal pollution, lead exposure, car batteries, sustainability

What is our heritage to future generations?

Maanantai 13.7.2020 klo 16.28 - Mikko Nikinmaa

As a child, one of my favourite books was a book of wild animals – I read all the stories of antelopes in Africa and looking at the photographs hoped that one day I would be able to go there. Almost every day I went birdwatching: curlews, whinchats, ruffs and ortolan buntings were common. As a scientist I was able to see sea otters, elephant seals, 


echidnas, and finally was able to fulfil my childhood dream, see antelopes in Africa. The incredible variety of animal life in different parts of the world is something that I hope our grandchildren and their descendants are able to see. The hopes of a nature lover for a heritage to future generations may be somewhat different from those of economic circles.

As the major reason for nations not taking loans, politicians usually state that we don’t want to leave future generations debt. This has also been stated as a reason why the European Union should not give grants to the hardest hit nations. If the big relief package of the European Union is not accepted, the Union can break up. For the environment this would be a catastrophe, because EU is the only major economic player, which has environmental questions reasonably high in its agenda. The European nations as relatively small individual nations would be forced to accept the conditions that USA and China, and to some extent Russia, Brazil and India, demand. For the environment, this would be terrible news.

We have now come to a situation, where environmental conditions and national debt are choices of our heritage to future generations. If loans are taken in order to invest on actions that improve the future state of environment, I am quite sure that future generations would say: “Please, take loan. It is only money, whereas sustainable environment is much more.” I am also quite sure that they would say: “Please, accept the European Recovery Plan, it is the only way to maintain a responsible environmental player as a major economic factor.”

It is not leaving debt to future generations any more, it is choosing if we give them a liveable environment or no debt. I think debt is better than spoiled Earth.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: Biodiversity, national debt, sustainability, environmental investments

World Bank: Anhropogenic Contamination of Aquatic Resources Reduces Economic Growth

Keskiviikko 4.9.2019 klo 18.16 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Just recently, the World Bank published a booklet: Quality Unknown. The Invisible Water Crisis. What it basically says is that the water resources throughout the world are so much affected by human actions that it causes a significant slowing down of economic growth. Reading through the booklet, there is naturally no big news to us water researchers, but it is a good summary of the things that are anthropogenic problems in our water resources, and how these problems affect agriculture, industry and our everyday affairs. However, I bring the World Bank document forward, because earlier on economy and environment have always been brought forward as opposites. And virtually in every case that economic and environmental considerations have clashed, the environmental one has lost. The World Bank report gives a sad tale of what the result is. Economic growth is slowing down largely as a result of decisions, which have been taken in order to boost economy. This indicates that economic thinking should be changed so that environment (natural capital) is primary and must be maintained in good condition. All economic actions must be done so that if they harm environmental balance in one dimension, they must improve it in another so that the overall status is not affected. It is the path to sustainability.

The Quality Unknown report can be found at, where also the ideals of the World Bank are brought forward. Quickly reading through them, I feel that should be the direction that economic thinking in united world goes to.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: natural capital, water pollution, sustainability

A Major Climate Action Concert planned

Lauantai 29.6.2019 klo 14.02 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The leaders of the scientists warning group are in the process of getting together a major event next summer. It should get worldwide attention. The prospectus of the planned event is below.

Live Aid II – SOS Save the World
Dr. William J. Ripple, Director, Alliance of World Scientists and Dr. Alison Green, Director, Scientists Warning UK
The 1985 ‘Live Aid’ concert was a watershed moment for humanity, showing how an event could successfully channel compassion and raise money. Minds, hearts, bodies and souls united to try to avert a humanitarian crisis. Today, we face a planetary crisis that is the defining issue of our times, yet awareness is not growing nearly fast enough. ‘Live Aid II’ responds to this urgent need.
Climate breakdown is happening much faster than many expected. It is more severe than scientists anticipated and is threatening natural ecosystems and even the fate of humanity. Sir David Attenborough has said, “The future of all life on this planet depends on our willingness to take action now.” We need to raise awareness of this climate crisis immediately if we are to stand a chance of halting untold human misery.
Live Aid II will be either a summer outdoor concert or a series of back-to-back concerts around the world and will be offered during the summer of 2020 on the 35th anniversary of the 1985 Live Aid concert. Sponsors and promoters will decide on the location and number of venues. Performers will be asked to donate their time. In addition to tens of thousands of attendees, hundreds of millions of people will be able to participate online and on television.
The main objective of Live Aid II is to raise awareness and educate about climate breakdown and the ecological crisis, and how we can respond. Every person attending or watching will have their worldview changed. Performances will start with a dispatches video, documenting climate breakdown in action around the globe. Performers may share their feelings about the existential crisis we face and make calls on how we need “all hands on deck”. We plan to build inter-generational awareness and connections, such that the voices of the young are empowered to use their perspectives as levers for change. Those with power, money, status and privilege then need to accept some responsibility and use their own levers to commit to advocating for transformative change. This event transcends the various activist movements, and Live Aid II will not be affiliated with any one movement in particular.
We will include teach-outs and drop-in eco-anxiety sessions, so people can learn about the climate and ecological crises and receive support for anxiety. We will run sessions where people can learn how to construct a simple solar charger to power their mobile phones. We will use satellite imagery to illustrate the scale and rate of deforestation, for example, and use this information to seek pledges to fund reforestation. We will encourage people to download apps that measure and help reduce their carbon footprint, and we will run some online experiments that show how much energy can be saved by simple measures, such as switching off lights and reducing speed. The venue will provide catering outlets where people can sample and learn to cook plant-based foods rather than meat because collectively what we eat has a huge effect on the climate and environment.
During some of the musical breaks, famous actors, artists and musicians, well-known scientists, spiritual leaders and striking students will make calls for unified action along selected themes. The voices of the children will be a focus. The School Climate Strike actions and the student’s voices (Greta Thunberg) are the ones that will endure and resonate. A major event involving many famous musicians, a few big-name actors & scientists, and some student activists would be inspiring and affirming. The event will foster international cooperation to fight the climate crisis. Brian May of Queen is supporting the idea of Live Aid II

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: cliamte change, sustainability

Overshoot and Collapse or Constraints and Sustainability

Perjantai 21.6.2019 klo 13.59 - Mikko Nikinmaa

Although many different signals such as climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental pollution and decrease in land fertility, as indicated in the scientists’ warning (, show that we utilize the planet more than its resources allow, a surprisingly large percentage of mankind thinks that nothing needs to be done. One reason for this could be lack of information and schooling, but the attitude is quite common even among people, who could easily assimilate the available information. One reason for thinking that no actions are needed is denying that anything happens, the second is relying on that market forces and technological advancements will solve any problems. Coupled with denying is often spreading false information, and quite often the nationalistic populistic agenda is associated with denying that there are limits to the earth. With nationalistic agenda one may think that the following actions help one’s own nation: building high chimneys so that any air pollution goes further away, shipping toxic wastes to faraway places, as from Europe to India, overfishing claiming that the overuse of the resource is needed for keeping jobs, compensating for failing land productivity by using more fertilizers, subsidizing production so that rising prices do not indicate increasing scarcity of resources, using or threating to use military force to keep one’s own resources secure including means to keep unwanted foreigners out etc. The production by one’s own industry is invariably considered to be environmentally friendlier than that by industry of other nations.

A form of denying that nothing needs to be done is blind faith to technological solutions. For example, with regard to climate change, the newscasts are almost daily reporting different ways of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, although the technological advancements will be important for sustainable future, they cannot do anything but postpone the collapse if our ways do not chaPohjois-Wales.jpgnge. The same is true for recycling, reducing the amount of pollution per produced unit and improving water purification etc. If the growth ideology is continued, the reduced burden to environment at present will be eaten up by the economic and population growth so that the collapse will occur later than without technological advances. Consequently, we need an ideological change to achieve sustainability.  

The growth ideology is based on thinking that no limits exist. Since the limits have clearly been reached, there is a grave need to change to thinking that we have enough. However, although stationary state is necessary for sustainability, it is very hard to achieve, because it places great demands to our morality. One can see this in the way that any attempts to built societies based on equality have failed. But to achieve sustainability both population growth and the concept of economic growth need to be stopped and changed. Doing one is not enough. Stopping population growth will not generate new resources; as technological advancements and recycling, it only postpones the collapse if we do not accept that the concept of economic growth has to be replaced with no-growth ideology. In the scenario requiring economic growth, even if population growth stops, the stable population will use more and more resources yearly with collapse as the end result.

Thus, we need to replace economic growth with economic stationarity. This makes it possible, together with stationary population and technological advances, to decrease the ecological footprint of the human population to sustainable level. I cannot understand why it is all the time said by the people denying the need to do anything that the environmental movement and climate change activists only generate fear without giving solutions, when virtually all the comments with environmental concern give them. The only thing is that the solutions given require a drastic change in economic thinking. But that is what is needed. And let’s face it, the GNPs of 1960’s were quite adequate for decent life. In fact, the nationalistic populists often think of that time as the golden age in all other aspects. If one did not require growth, the investments needed for it could be used, e.g., for taking care of elderly, children and sick. In many ways a stationary, sustainable society could be more humane than the present growth-based society. And since it would also be sustainable, why cannot political and economic leaders accept that this kind of structural change, revolution, would be needed to secure the well-being of mankind.    


Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, economic growth, sustainability

Our Planet

Lauantai 11.5.2019 klo 18.35 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The Our Planet documentary series by David Attenborough in Netflix ( is incredibly good, and will probably be the most popular pro-environment series that has recently been published. When watching it a couple of things must be remembered. Although climate change is of a huge concern, the short-term solutions alleviating it will not solve the basic problem, which is our overuse of the planet. Climate change is just one symptom stemming from the facts that there are too many people who are overusing Earth's resources. In November 2, 2018 I wrote a blog, where pictures of human population change and the increase of world's carbon dioxide were side by side. And they could be superimposed. Further, although it could be possible to severe the link between human population and carbon dioxide production in the short term, the vicious circle between population growth, resource overuse, pollution and climate change still exists in longer term because of the following.

Human population needs to be fed. The intensive agriculture with artificial fertilization and pesticide use has increased the agricultural production per hectare to 5-10 times the crops obtained before "industrial" agriculture. It has been estimated that without the use if artificial fertilization and pesticides the maximal size of human population would be 2-3 billion. However, Nature presently strikes back. Fertilization pollutes our waters, pesticides kill pollinators and the microalgae of the seas. The results arte that aquatic pollution is decreasing the ability of algae to photosynthetize. The aquatic algae have contributed to 50 of the carbon dioxide sinks of the world. Now it is estimated that carbon dioxide fixation by them has decreased by 20 %. Aquatic pollution thus drives climate change.

Pollinating insects die as a result of insecticide use. Since about 2/3 of all the food plants need pollination by insects, this as such reduces the possibilities of increasing agricuDSC00354.JPGltural production by increased insecticide use. As the productivity per hectare cannot be increased, more people means that forests must be cut to obtain agricultural land. At the same time old agricultural land is becoming infertile, and changes in precipitation aggravate the problem. Cutting the forests causes biodiversity loss and since forests are more effective carbon dioxide sinks than agricultural lands, aggravates climate change.

Apart from cutting rainforests, the most pronounced biodiversity losses are caused by overfishing. Most fisheries at the moment are unsustainable, and aquaculture does not help the situation, as most of the fish feed is made from fish. So, the only change that happens is that for human food less preferred species are caught. An additional problem with aquaculture is the use of antibiotics and pesticides, which affect marine life and be one component of generating antibiotic resistance in the environment.

Besides the decrease of marine biodiversity, especially the large amount of plastic waste in the oceans is an anthropogenic problem. Here an important step forward was taken a day or two ago, whem most countries in the world agreed that plastic waste may not be exported. This will generate national recycling of plastics. Notably, Trump's USA did not sign the agreement. The present government of the USA has been very consequent in the anti-environment actions, opposing any actions which could be seen as trying to improve the state of environment. The US government after Trump will have much to do to reverse the anti-environmental actions of the present government.

If it weren't for plastics, it is likely that there would be other tash all over the place. Different materials, which could be recycled are just thrown away. For example, much of the metals could be reused which would much reduce the need for mining and theeby overuse of world's resources. 

In conclusion, we would need to find ways both to decrease the human population and the amount of energy and resources used by a unit human. Changes in the first pertain especially to developing countries and in the second to inhabitants of traditional industrialized countries. One cannot think in terms "we will do nothing unless the others do their share", because that is a certain way to go to catastroph.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: biodiversity, climate change, environmental pollution, economic growth, sustainability

Recirculation of Plastics

Tiistai 20.11.2018 klo 15.32 - Mikko Nikinmaa

A huge problem has been generated for most Western countries. China has stopped importing any plastic waste. Exporting plastics for reuse in China has been the way most West European and North American countries have got rid of accumulated plastics. While much of the plastic waste has been reused in plastic toys and such like, some of it has ended up in the huge amount of plastics in the ocean near China. In principle the reuse in, e.g., plastic toys is a good way of getting rid of plastic waste, but one should be able to ascertain that all the waste is going for the intended purpose and not ending up in oceans. One thing is that plastic waste should be clean and uniform. Earlier on one did not care if plastics had toxic components, since they were thrown away anyway (one did not care that the toxicant ended up in the environment). However, recycling of plastics requires that the new products made are not toxic. Also, people sorting the plastics should not be exposed to the toxicants. The need for toxicants in plastics has actually disappeared making large-scale sorting feasible. It can be done more and more automatically - and should be done, if not in China then in the places of origin.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: garbage gyres, reuse, sustainability

Growth - threat to Earth

Lauantai 10.11.2018 klo 11.17

Reading the news, two problems are invariably brought forward: population growth in Japan and Europe have completely stopped and economic growth is again slowing down.  These are given as negative news, although at the same time the news bring forward that this year the day that the resources of the world that could be used per year if sustainability were the aim was reached earlier than ever. Consequently, both news items about the stop of population growth and and decrease of economic growth are positive news for the Earth, hopefully more of them follow.

As a need for economic growth, it is invariably said that if economic growth does not continue, one cannot continue with the present benefits - but wait a minute, those if us who lived in 1970s lived quite happily then, even though all the economic indicators were much worse than today .- the gross national product was only a fraction of today's and there are many things all of us consume now, which were not needed then: and honestly, do we really need them.

As a need for population growth it is usually said that without it there is not enough working force to pay pensions to retired people (and jobless atc.). Again, wait a minute, at the moment immigration is the most negatively thought-about aspect of life in Europe. Wouldn't it be actually right to welcome immigrants and say that they are needed to make it possible to continue the welfare states of Europe. If this were the attitude, I bet the majority of immigrants would soon assimilate to society. And if immugration were mostly young people and children, taken in with a positive attitude, they wood soon see their new living place as home and try to make the normal habits there their own. The hostile apartheid mentality of the right wing populists generates hate and conflicts, which is good for nobody.

To combat the major environmental problems in the world, we would need to forget nation satates, and think that we are citizens of the world. This does not mean that we would need to forget our identity or that we should not try to convince other people about the points done well in our societies. But - I can say that I am a Finnish World citizen, against inequality, male white domination, environmental distruction etc. However, although my aims are good, I make mistakes - human as I am.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: population growth, economic growth, sustainability, gross national product

World Population Day

Tiistai 10.7.2018 klo 10.52 - Mikko Nikinmaa

In 1960's-1970's when the environmental movement started, population growth was considered to be maybe the biggest problem for the future of the earth - it was considered that world's agriculture could not feed population exceeding 5 000 000 000. We are now 8 000 000 000. So, the development of agricultural practises has enabled food production far beyond the expectations of late 20th century.

However, that does not mean that there would not be many problems associated with the large population. The increase in agricultural production has been achieved with the help of pronounced pesticide use and artificial (mineral) fertilization. Fertilization in crop production is an important component in eutrophication of waters, which is also caused by the excretion of people and livestock. Water and land is polluted by pesticides and other toxicants. Recently, as a result of waste production of the large human population, the huge plastics problem has been generated. One can also say that the climate change, associated with the large use of fossil fuels, is caused by the large population. 

Further, the oceans are overfished, the mineral resources are overexploited etc. In fact, the earth's resources are drastically overused - if the population were much smaller, the overuse were much easier to avoid.

The World Population Day is on July 11. As one aim of the future for world population is to curb population growth. In Europe the population is not increasing any more, and the same could and should be the goal for every other part of the world. The second aim should be to increase recycling: instead of producing new products of virgin materials and at the end of the product's life time throwing it away, everything should be recycled. It would be important for us in Europe to have all the household machines to be made so that they would be repaired instead of being thrown away/replaced when broken down. As a final aim, the whole concept of economy should be changed: economic growth should not be sought for.

As individuals and families/groups we can celebrate World Population Day by decreasing the group's use of resources per time. The manifest of concerned scientists can be found at, which generally is a site to follow if one is interested in anthropogenic influences on Earth.


Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: population growth, sustainability, climate change, resource use

Healthy environment is needed for functioning economy

Perjantai 9.3.2018 klo 16.42 - Mikko Nikinmaa

To be sustainable, any economic theory needs to take into account the limits set to economies by the global environment. Otherwise any economic actions are just very hard-repayed loan from future generations. As the two worst alternatives are either that a small proportion of mankind can leave this planet, when it becomes uninhabitable, to continue the wasteful way of living in another planet until that is also spoiled or that most people dye and a small proportion continues to live in the spoiled environment.

To avoid these worst-case scenarios, one should actually give the Nobel price in Economics in continuation to economic theories that strive to reconcile economics and environment, as suggested by Ripple at el. in “The Role of Scientists’ Warning in Shifting Policy from Growth to Conservation Economy”, which can in full be viewed at

"Most helpful for this paradigm shift, both symbolically and pragmatically, would be for the scientist members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to insist that its Economic Sciences Prize Committee give greater weight to awarding prizes for economic theory that accounts for environment–economy interlinkages and feedback loops. If Nobel memorial prizes in economics were given to those drawing attention to economic drivers of environmental degradation and the well-being implications of degraded ecosystems, it would draw attention to problems with mainstream economic theory as well as encourage other economists and natural scientists to collaborate and to do more work in this area."

Economy and environment are not opposite, but there cannot be a functioning economy without healthy environment in the long run.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: GNP, Nobel Price in economy, sustainability

Climate Bandits

Maanantai 3.4.2017 klo 13.18 - Mikko Nikinmaa

In these blogs I have earlier been critical of president Trump's actions. However, recent news indicate that he has a brother in Putin. Putin is also of the opinion that man is not responsible of climate change, and said that increased temperature is an opportunity, not a threat to the arctic environment.

It is a pity that the leaders of two major countries live so much in the past. Fifty years ago the situation was not as bad as now, but Putin and Trump cannot see to the future problems, they only see that doing things as in the past would be the way to go forward.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, sustainability, arctic environment

Trump's budget proposal and the environment - time to cry

Perjantai 17.3.2017 klo 10.14 - Mikko Nikinmaa

The White House indicated that not a cent would be spent to actions against climate change. It would just be a waste of voters' money. The anti-environment attitude was seen in the budget proposal also otherwise with more than 30 % cuts in the budget of Environmental Protection Agency. The planned cuts would make USA a backward country with regard to environment - the attitudes of leaders in China and even India are far more modern. If Trump budget cuts in environmental actions are carried out, and if the environmental attitudes of the White House become more widespread among American leaders, I pity the young people and children who must live with increasing pollution - the backward situation will not affect only USA but also rest of the world. In 1960's, which appears to be President Trump's "golden age", there was a lot of environment to pollute. Unfortunately, this is not the case any more - sustainable future requires that environment is included in every economic decision. Our children can ask that of us.

Kommentoi kirjoitusta. Avainsanat: climate change, pollution, EPA, sustainability

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