Friedemann: it’s said that if fish were scientists the last thing they’d discover was water — it’s so ubiquitous and taken-for-granted that it’s not visible. In the same way, oil permeates every tiny detail of our life support, from transportation, roads (bitumen), food (plant, harvest, process, deliver, preparation, cook), water (delivery, purification), shelter (materials, building), medicine, clothing, heat, computer chip manufacturing, manufacturing products, mining material to make products, air-conditioning…
I agree with Shedlock (below), but with a few differences. The start is after the oil production plateau ends (2012 to 2015), and accelerates as the depletion rate grows exponentially from geology, social chaos, and exporting countries keeping more oil for their own population, leading to war in the Middle East (again), leading eventually to destruction of Middle East oil infrastructure and “game over” for much of the developed world. The die-off will be compounded by climate change, i.e. more wildfires, droughts, floods, and rising sea levels starting 2075 (or earlier if ice sheets melt), anti-biotic resistant TB and other diseases, pandemics having more effect due to malnutrition and starvation, etc. Other huge discontinuities besides oil or in addition to declining fossil fuels, such as a nuclear war (ozone depletion and EMPs) will make the die-off curve more jagged. Plus as earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters take their toll, we won’t have the energy and material resources to recover with.
The end population is likely to be less than 500 million because we’ve degraded and polluted so many other essential resources such as topsoil, aquifers, fisheries, etc. Eventually as the earth recovers, rather quickly it appears from “The Earth Without Us”, the population may creep up to 1 billion or so.
But with climate change, biodiversity loss, and the other 9 boundaries we must not cross, there’s also a chance we’ll go extinct. Running out of fossil fuels ASAP is our best chance of this not happening, if that’s any consolation for the end of civilization and your own untimely death!
Shedlock: Average excess death rate of 100 million per year every year for the next 75 years to reach a population of one billion by 2082. The peak excess death rate would happen in about 20 years, about 200 million. To put this in perspective, WWII caused an excess death rate of only 10 million per year for only 6 years.
Paul Chefurka: Population The Elephant in the Room. See article for details and graphs. Summary: population decline to 1 billion, starting by 2018, ending 2082, over about 75 years. The rate of excess deaths starts off quite low, rises over the decades to some maximum and then declines. The rise is driven by the worsening global situation as the overshoot takes effect, and the subsequent fall is due to human numbers and activities gradually coming back into balance with the resources available. Based on this model we would experience an average excess death rate of 100 million per year every year for the next 75 years to achieve our target population of one billion by 2082. The peak excess death rate would happen in about 20 years, and would be about 200 million that year. To put this in perspective, WWII caused an excess death rate of only 10 million per year for only six years. Given this, it’s not hard to see why population control is the untouchable elephant in the room – the problem we’re in is simply too big for humane or even rational solutions. It’s also not hard to see why some people are beginning to grasp the inevitability of a human die-off.
Pimentel: For the United States to be self-sustaining given our land, water, and biological resources, our population should be less than 100 million.
Pimentel, David (1) and Pimentel, Marcia (2). 1990. Land, Energy and Water: the constraints governing Ideal US Population Size, NPG Forum. (1) Department of Entomology and (2) Division of Nutritional Sciences, , Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Shedlock, Mike. 10 Jan 2012. Population: The Elephant in the Room; Peak Oil Implications on Population Growth; What Level of Human Population is Sustainable? globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
Other die-off discussions
Pfeiffer, Dale Allen. 2004. Eating Fossil Fuels. fromthewilderness.com