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Author Topic: Stewards of the Earth  (Read 11311 times)

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #100 on: 19 Feb 2015, 02:44 »

I'm just astounded that such a thing even existed, it's so simple, why haven't I heard of this?
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #101 on: 19 Feb 2015, 03:20 »

I have seen a few of the variable flush ones around, as well as "power-flush" models which use less water at higher pressure to accomplish the same task. 
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #102 on: 19 Feb 2015, 04:05 »

I'm sure I once saw a cistern that had a little sink over the top of it.
When you flush, the water comes out of the tap on the sink.
you wash your hands and the waste water then fills the cister.

I can only recall seeing this once. I'm sure I didn't imagine it.
It seems like such a brilliant idea. I can't understand why it's not more common.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #103 on: 19 Feb 2015, 04:08 »

Sounds like a simple grey-water type of device. Something we should use more of seeing as I don't think my poop water has to be all that clean.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #104 on: 19 Feb 2015, 04:33 »

The National Trust building in Swindon has a rainwater system for all of their toilets which is a good innovation.

The problem with grey water flush systems is basically twofold.

1) Grey water generally tends to occur lower down. That means that you have to have a pumping mechanism to get it back up to where it needs to be. Putting grey water under pressure in a pumping system introduces it's own issues and requires a more robust set of components and a maintenance schedule. You then get into a negative water cost in an effort to save water. Don't for get that pressure requires power generation and power has a water cost. The production of additional components and the provision of additional maintenance also requires water in itself. Although wasteful at the point of usage, use of clean water can be more economical than a grey water system.

2) Grey water also necessarily contains impurities. That's OK on something that is going into a sewerage system but less so for something that by design is going to be standing water for a significant proportion of it's cycle. That in itself poses a health hazard that will require additional measures to keep safe. You'd be more likely to use additional cleaning products to keep your toilet clean and healthy which adds a chemical cost which has to be countered when whatever you flush reaches your local waste water/sewage treatment works. Shit, toilet paper and other organic matter is easily handled by the digestion systems but even relatively low bleach spikes can be a big issue for your local utilities. I refer you to the earlier comments about water costs.

So how does the National Trust do this in an environmentally friendly manner? Rain water is relatively clean stuff. In fact it's already destined for the sewers anyway. All rain water then runs across a neutralising catalyst and runs through a static filtration system (ceramic I think) that makes it clean enough for usage. You can install one of these as a home system but you would need a sufficient scale of head in order to counter the absence of pressurisation. You'll also need a functional run off system and a valved back up from the mains for periods of low rain.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #105 on: 19 Feb 2015, 05:56 »

All of which is part of the building I work in.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #106 on: 19 Feb 2015, 06:22 »

I am familiar with the "don't flush if you're only peeing" rule from my grandfather, who lived in the Cayman Islands.  Because there are no rivers and so much of the fresh water supply comes from reverse-osmosis desalinization, it's especially important not to waste water.  I have to admit, even though I followed that rule when I was visiting him, I've never done that back at home.  I just can't abide the lingering urine smell from an unflushed toilet.  Smells just gross me out way too easily. :(

I've never heard of variable flush toilets, or toilets with a stop button (or toilets that use hand-washing water to refill the cistern) before today.  All of these ideas sound so brilliant; they just seem like common-sense once you hear them.  I don't know why they haven't been more widely adopted everywhere. If I ever get my own house, I would totally get something like that to prevent waste.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #107 on: 19 Feb 2015, 14:34 »

I'm sure I once saw a cistern that had a little sink over the top of it. When you flush, the water comes out of the tap on the sink. you wash your hands and the waste water then fills the cister.
Something like this?:


They certainly work, and have a small footprint in tight spaces. I find them a little awkward to use, and they are generally only plumbed to cold water. There are other systems where the toilet and washbasin are linked, but side-by-side. These are more like a conventional wash-basin to use, and can be plumbed to hot and cold supplies. Either way, I think there are problems with installing such systems in your primary, or only, bathroom, because I don't know how well they'd cope with toothpaste spittings, men's shaving-cream and whiskers etc. Rainwater or some other cleaner grey water would probably be best.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #108 on: 19 Feb 2015, 15:35 »

Yeah that's the one.
It's only intended for use in wc's for washing your hands.
It's not meant for general bathroom duties.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #109 on: 19 Feb 2015, 16:37 »

Explicit (and anyone else), the house I live in had one bathroom when we moved in, and it was last updated in 1926 (according to the date of manufacture stamped in the toilet tank lid, they all have it).  The toilet flushed a full five gallons, the whole tankful. 

We decided to keep all the fixtures - it's like walking back in time - but after about 6 months I had to replace much of the hardware inside the toilet.  I did so, and adjusted the float down considerably, until the tank filled with the least amount that provided a decent flush.  I got it down to about 3 gallons, which is still a lot more than a modern low-flush model (standard is 1.6 gallons), which is what I used in the powder room I added. 

But we're saving about 2 gal per flush, and that's an improvement. 

Get inside your tank and make some adjustments, it's pretty basic hardware and simple to adjust.  Until you actually replace the beast, you can at least put it on a diet! 
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #110 on: 19 Feb 2015, 16:49 »

The standard trick in Australia to reduce the water usage of an old style cistern was to put a couple of bricks in it!
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #111 on: 19 Feb 2015, 16:52 »

My apartments I lived in for school were all really old. My last one there were actually bricks in the toilet.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #112 on: 19 Feb 2015, 16:54 »

When I arrived in my present house I had to remove the bricks from the toilet because it became clear that one effective flush was more economical than two ineffective flushes!
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #113 on: 19 Feb 2015, 18:15 »

When I first moved in here I had an old style wooden boxed cistern.  Landlord changed it over to a more efficient one about a week after i moved in.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #114 on: 20 Feb 2015, 00:06 »

Don't use bricks. They have a tendency to degrade and then clog up valves and generally break your toilet. A lot of water companies will provide a "hippo" for your cistern free of charge.

not an actual hippo though. Its a bag of beads that expand in water. Can be tricky to site but work well once settled.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #115 on: 20 Feb 2015, 00:34 »

My apartments I lived in for school were all really old. My last one there were actually bricks in the toilet.

Eat more fibre.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #116 on: 20 Feb 2015, 05:48 »

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #117 on: 20 Feb 2015, 10:03 »

Behold, the science of pooping.

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #118 on: 20 Feb 2015, 12:54 »

Behold, the science of pooping.

I go to a doctor for that
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #119 on: 21 Feb 2015, 21:13 »

Saw this on twitter

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #120 on: 22 Feb 2015, 14:18 »

So, this fall I started working a seasonal position at Macy's, and continued on after the "season" was over. 

I started on the loading dock, unloading trucks.  We open the boxes which get compacted and recycled (good).  Every article of clothing or handbag or whatever is individually wrapped in plastic inside the boxes (not great).  We strip off the plastic before sending the stuff out to the stockrooms and sales floor, and all the plastic goes into a huge (like, 4x4x7 foot) poly bag which is theoretically recycled also.  Good?  I dunno, most plastic gets recycled as those annoying shopping bags that blow around town whenever the wind picks up...

Everything clothing item comes on or with plastic hangers, unless it's meant to be put out on a table.  When sold, the hangers are taken off and reused.  Not bad. 

However, we sometimes get sent shit where there's one or two tiny things in a big box on the truck.  Wasteful, at best. 

I also learned how to do what's called fulfillment.  Online orders or things people want sent as a gift or something go into a computer system, and get sent from the store.  We go out, pick the items from the stockrooms or the floor, pack them up and ship them out.  We ship all over the country - the system figures out the closest store that has the stuff ordered.  For instance, yesterday I sent a set of three down coats to Sarasota FL thanks to the recent freeze, I guess.  We were the closest Macy's with enough down coats leftover...

When we ship something, we wrap it up in plastic again (why did we unwrap it in the first place?), and ship it out in UPS shipping envelopes of various sizes or cardboard boxes, all with the Macy's logo, of course.  But we only have so many sizes of boxes, and we pack the excess space with newsprint - rolls and rolls of newsprint.  Very wasteful.  And when we pull something off a hangar, we trash the hangar, unless it's a wooden suit hangar.  No one can explain that one to me.  They reuse the ones from the floor, why are we throwing them out in shipping? 

Retail is a wasteful business.  We have trucks coming and going every day, it's ridiculous. 

And don't even get me started on the pricing... there's absolutely no rhyme or reason to it.  If you can discount something 80 - 90% and still make a profit, what the hell was your initial markup? 


Oh, and if you ever order something from Macy's, and it gets sent from the Logan Valley Macy's in PA, and the shipping card is signed "Carl", that was me.   :-D
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #121 on: 22 Feb 2015, 23:01 »

Just on the pricing, you can't discount 80-90% and make a profit. However, you'll get to the point where is clearly isn't going to sell and is just going to get in the way of new stock and displays. If you make very dramatic reductions like that, someone will come and take it of your hands. This means that and employee isn't spending their paid for time on getting it off the shop floor, documented as a non-sale/wastage and preparing it for shipping. You're then not spending money on haulage to take it away from the store and not paying for landfill costs where it would likely otherwise end up. Economically and environmentally it's generally a win for the company. If you take a look a the net profit for the whole of the stock of one product, it will likely be profitable overall. That's what big companies look for, not single unit profitability.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #122 on: 22 Feb 2015, 23:16 »

Sometimes there are huge mark-ups ahead of time as well. Depending on the item they put on a huge pricetag on at first knowing that people think a $300 sweater 50% off is somehow better than that same sweater at $150. JC Penny actually lost a lot of money when they said they'd stop doing these practices, people just like to think they saved money I guess. These are usually for clothes, at least more than anything else, for whatever reason.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #123 on: 23 Feb 2015, 06:40 »

Yeah, it's generally clothes, and the biggest discounts are online, so I actually am picking, packing and shipping a $50 cashmere sweater for $6 plus $4 shipping (according to the receipt I packed with it). 

I guess they sell enough of them at $50 that they can afford to do that with one or two of them?  Still seems nuts. 
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #124 on: 23 Feb 2015, 06:52 »

Clothing retail traditionally has a very high initial mark up and a planned reduction cycle for a % of the merchandise; e.g. 10% of the merch sold at full price, 30% at 25% of, 50% at 50%, and the last 10% at 70%.  They could just offer it for the equivalent of 40% off all the time, but there is more value in doing it like this:

Clothing is a time sensitive product, you want shorts just before it is warm, and sweaters before it is cold. People are willing to pay more for good that are just released. Clothing customers are also segmented into "trend setting, I want it now, my time is valuable" and "bargain clearance shoppers, hunting for a bargain"  A cycle that starts with a high mark up and then drops to 70% off gives you a chance to serve both.

Also, we like to buy goods that are on sale.  The initial price is usually only offered for a very short time.  I also worked at Macys for a while, and Most goods are 25% off within a week of being on the floor. The brands that get higher discounts faster are ones that are targeting bargain shoppers.  A whole group of Karen Scott things might be 50% off the day it hits the floor, but that Ralph Lauren shirt is going to go through a longer cycle, og full price, 15% off, 25% off, 50% off, 65% off... 

The cost of producing clothing is very low (artificially low one might argue because it is produced, and sold by underpaid employees) When my mother worked at JCPenny in the 70s their employee discount was "you get it at cost" and she told me that this was usually 80% off of retail. (The current employee discount scheme feels more like a scam to steal employees pay back from them: at Macy's they offer you a credit card when you start (or a pre-paid), and you have to use the card to get your 20% employee discount. Many of my coworkers had a rolling balance on a Macy's card at nearly 25% interest.)
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #125 on: 23 Feb 2015, 08:33 »

Then there's the tradition of marking things up before the holidays so you can put them on "sale" (MSRP) during the busy season. The same thing is done when stores close, so people who don't pay attention to what things normally sell for (much less what they're worth) the rest of the time tend to get screwed pretty hard there.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #126 on: 23 Feb 2015, 08:35 »

I think we may be significantly diversifying from the original subject of the topic. Perhaps a seperate thread could be set up if people want to discuss retail practices and economics any further.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #127 on: 23 Feb 2015, 13:38 »

If I had my way, I'd live somewhere where I didn't have to get the lawn mowed every couple of weeks.
'
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #128 on: 23 Feb 2015, 13:44 »

If I had my way, I'd live somewhere where I didn't have to get the lawn mowed every couple of weeks.
'

I plan on using rocks. Or maybe just put a lot trees and bushes. Rocks sound heavy.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #129 on: 23 Feb 2015, 13:47 »

Trees.  Lotsa Pine Trees

And a Treehouse

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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #130 on: 23 Feb 2015, 13:48 »

Fuck that, I plan on living in a treehouse. Those things look sah'weeeeeettttttt
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #131 on: 23 Feb 2015, 14:19 »

And free Firewood.

But remember, plant two for every one you chop down.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #132 on: 23 Feb 2015, 22:48 »

If I had my way, I'd live somewhere where I didn't have to get the lawn mowed every couple of weeks.
Lawns are a bad idea in Australia, because they require too much watering, even with drought-resistant grasses. I have a paved yard, which just needs sweeping, and grow my plants in pots and planters of various sizes.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #133 on: 24 Feb 2015, 00:28 »

Given CA's continuing drought problems, I see more and more people switch to rock gardens, often with more climate-appropriate plants.  Now if only we could we cut off the water supply to So-Cal, where we're sending far too much water to rich people who don't have the sense to know that you shouldn't build golf courses and swimming pools in the fucking desert.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #134 on: 24 Feb 2015, 00:36 »

I do know it's mostly agriculture in CA (that is, what contributes towards water usage). The whole situation is pretty dumb. Personal use only takes up a small amount, most of it is farms and lawn care. The soil and weather is great in southern CA to grow stuff, but seeing as they don't technically have their own water source, large scale anything down there makes no sense. Last I checked they were considering tousand mile long pipes to bring in water from across the country. Everyone stop moving to Cali! Here in New England we have plenty of water, just happens no one wants to live here...
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #135 on: 24 Feb 2015, 00:39 »

I'm of the mind of sending them all still-suits, and letting them harvest the Spice.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #136 on: 24 Feb 2015, 00:47 »

Here in England we have a bit of the opposite problem. Too few lawns. A lot of basin regions have been overdeveloped with housing with small gardens and some of those being turned into driveways for 2nd and 3rd household cars. Without these small patches of natural drainage, more rainwater gets diverted to the sewerage. In any area that was already on the cusp of flooding it suddenly tips over a lot more frequently.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #137 on: 24 Feb 2015, 00:52 »

Plus we are building more in flood plains, while at the same time insurers are starting to refuse flood insurance!

(I once had a house at the top of a hill; the insurers classified its flood risk not as "none", nor even "slight", but "moderate"!)
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #138 on: 24 Feb 2015, 00:58 »

Hey, if they can't make money off it they're not going to insure you, which is one reason why so many people near the shore aren't insured anymore. There's no money in an insurance company covering those places unless they jack up the rates. Certain environments just aren't meant for housing anymore... (whether or not insurance coverage should be mandatory is another topic, I'm just saying that they'd insure everything if there was money in it).

As far as the hill thing goes it depends on what it's built on. If it's clay or something similiar I'm not surprised they classified that as a moderate risk to flooding.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #139 on: 24 Feb 2015, 01:07 »

Paul, I cycled through floods above Membury and Lambourn around this time last year. Some days, nowhere is safe.

I do generally look for houses with some elevation though.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #140 on: 24 Feb 2015, 01:27 »

Plus we are building more in flood plains, while at the same time insurers are starting to refuse flood insurance!

(I once had a house at the top of a hill; the insurers classified its flood risk not as "none", nor even "slight", but "moderate"!)

I can haz ur water?
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #141 on: 24 Feb 2015, 01:28 »


I can haz ur water?

Quote by: every Californian :D
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #142 on: 24 Feb 2015, 23:13 »

I can haz ur water?



*edit* just realized that it says Beyond Thunderdome above my avatar. :laugh:
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2015, 23:29 by SubaruStephen »
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #143 on: 25 Feb 2015, 00:16 »


I can haz ur water?

Quote by: every Californian :D

Every summer, I'm tempted to look for wormsign. 
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #144 on: 25 Feb 2015, 01:37 »

I do know it's mostly agriculture in CA (that is, what contributes towards water usage). The whole situation is pretty dumb. Personal use only takes up a small amount, most of it is farms and lawn care.
It is a bit hard to maintain motivation to save water in your home, when you know that leakage from under-maintained water-mains in Sydney accounts for well over one hundred million litres per day (according to Sydney Water's own reporting), and that mispricing of the two-thirds of Australia's annual water supply consumed by agriculture leads to us growing thirsty crops like cotton in arid areas.

Oh well... You can't control the world; you can control yourself.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #145 on: 05 Mar 2015, 08:49 »

I want to mention something about overpopulation, because apparently most people don't get it (I'm not saying you guys don't, but every environmental story comes down to this for some God awful reason).

It is NOT overpopulation that is the issue. It's overconsumption. A family of ten in India uses fewer resources than a married couple in the U.S. If the population was the same, but use the same resources an American and other developed countries use, then we would have already far exceeded our carrying capacity.

It's not the amount of people, it's the amount people use, I don't understand why people don't get this whenever they say things like, "we need the people in Africa to stop making so many babies". This is a simple concept, right?
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #146 on: 05 Mar 2015, 08:52 »

However, I'd say that developed economy babies are a bad idea, at the very least, until de-developed stable economies are a thing.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #147 on: 05 Mar 2015, 08:58 »

Which can make things interesting actually. Most developed countries are currently below replacement level reproduction. Not looking it up so I maybe wrong, I believe the U.S. has one of the higher rates of fertility (which was 1.9 babies per woman, I think? Again, I'm basing this off previous studies so things could have changed.) However, our population is still set to increase over the long term due to immigration. European countries and Japan have the problem of not enough babies being born. Economically it's a problem, I mean. Environmentally that's fine. My point is that developed countries' fertility rates have already leveled off.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #148 on: 05 Mar 2015, 09:24 »

But, for sustainability, they need to shrink, not level off.
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Re: Stewards of the Earth
« Reply #149 on: 05 Mar 2015, 09:33 »

Well, it's a time thing. They can't shrink until people start dying, even if fertility rates are below replacement level.
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