Keynote: Metamorphosing the pachyderm in the room into Panacea and her siblings: how water systems models can help preserve civil life

Bill James


In this talk the pachyderm in the room is the issue of projected longer-term population growths and declines in a finite world, while the panacea is the opportunity to attain populations that live utterly sustainably while simultaneously solving some if not most of the world’s most pressing problems. Population decline can be achieved non-disruptively and will reduce many problems while creating others. Particularly addressed in this presentation is the potential of water systems models and modelling to facilitate a transition to planning for long-term sustainable lives of sustained quality.  Anent “longer term”, for simplicity we consider a typical period of personal family memory, for instance from circa 1880 to 2100, or 220 years.

After setting down background definitions and introducing the author’s personal stance on the issues, we review key population and quality-of-life trends, attitudes and impacts, extensively citing acknowledged experts. In the end we suggest how water systems modelling practice may be accordingly and timeously sensitized and exploited. Significant policy reversals are suggested: planned systematic removal of urban development and drainage infrastructure and, for instance and where applicable, keystone restoration of beaver-dominated hydrology. Also mentioned is degrowth’s provision of more time for individuals to further their personal interests, with light-hearted examples.

Illustrations are included in the accompanying PowerPoint.

 Click here to download a static PDF version of the presentation.

 Click here to watch recorded presentation on YouTube.

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