Podcast

Bill Ryerson: The Challenges Presented by Global Population Growth

And why they're so hard for us to address
Saturday, December 22, 2012, 3:55 PM

At the heart of the resource depletion story that we track here at PeakProsperity.com is the number of people on earth competing for those resources.

The global population is more than 7 billion now and headed to 9 billion by 2050. If world population continues its exponential growth, when we will hit planetary carrying capacity limits with our key resources (or are we already exceeding them?) What are the just, humane, and rights-respecting options that are on the table for balancing the world’s population with the ability of the earth to sustain it?

Population management is an inflammatory issue. It's nearly impossible to discuss without triggering heated emotions, and rare is the leader who's willing to raise it. And by going unaddressed globally, the risk of problems created by overpopluation grow unchecked. War, poverty, starvation, disease, inequality...the list goes on.

Which is why we feel we need to have the courage to address this very important topic directly. And to have an adult-sized conversation about these risks and what can done about them.

In this podcast, Chris talks with Bill Ryerson, founder and president of the Population Media Center as well as the president of the Population Institute. They explore the current forecasts for world population growth, the expected future demand on world resources, and the range of options available for bringing them into balance sustainably.

We are adding about 225,000 people to the dinner table every night who were not there last night. So that is net growth of the world’s population on an annual basis of a new Egypt every year. In other words, 83 million additional people net growth annually. And that from a climate change perspective alone is a huge increment. Most of this growth is occurring in poor countries, so on a per capita level, the people being added to the population have much lower impact than, say, if Europe were growing at that rate. But nevertheless, just from a climate perspective, with most of that 83 million additional people in low per capita greenhouse-gas output countries – this is between now and 2050 – at this rate of growth, it is the climate equivalent of adding two United States to the planet.

Clearly resources like oil, coal, and gas are non-renewable and will eventually run out or become more and more expensive and therefore not reliable as a source of energy. But what is the renewable long-term sustainability or the carrying capacity of the environment in each geographic territory, and globally? What is the current and projected future human demand for those resources and do we have sufficient natural resources to meet our needs?

Doing this kind of accounting is not difficult. There are very good robust scientific designs for measuring resource capacity and human demand, and projecting out what do we need to do in some time in the next few decades in order to get from what is clearly population overshoot to achieving something that is in balance. Because as long as we are in overshoot – and the global footprint network’s calculation is we are now at 50% overshoot –  that means we are digging into the savings account of our ecological systems, as you mentioned; the fisheries being one, forests being another. We are eating into the capital to sustain the growing population.

They also explore why population management is such a uniquely controversial topic. Not only are moral, civil, and religious beliefs in play, but the debate is also heavily-influenced by large corporate and governmental organizations protecting their interests. So it's no wonder that a calm, respectful, and reasonable conversation on population remains so elusive.

But we're going to try to have one here.

Needless to say, our moderators are on high alert and will step in if they are needed. Thanks in advance for your conscientious, levelheaded, and respectful comments. We have the chance to do substantial thinking on some really meaty questions here. Let's make good use of it. 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Bill Ryerson (46m:26s):

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to another Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, of course, Chris Martenson. And today we welcome Bill Ryerson to the program.

Now, I know Bill and have met Bill. And Bill is the founder and president of the Population Media Center as well as the president of The Population Institute. As you can guess from his titles, Bill is here to discuss a very important topic with us, a topic controversial to many: population growth.

At the heart of our resource depletion story is the number of people on earth competing for those resources. We are more than seven billion now and headed to nine billion give or take, by 2050 unless something really dramatic happens. If our population continues its exponential growth, when we will hit planetary carrying capacity limits with our key resources? Have we already hit them? What are the just, humane, and rights-respecting options that are on the table for balancing the world’s population with the ability of the earth to sustain it? Bill, I know this is going to be a fascinating conversation. Thank you so much for being here and your willingness to approach this very difficult topic.

Bill Ryerson: Chris, thanks so much for having me on. It is a great pleasure to be with you.

Chris Martenson: Excellent. So let us start with the numbers. Where are we in terms of world population, and where are we headed? I gave a couple of outline numbers, but why don’t you tell us what you see in the numbers right now?

Bill Ryerson: You mentioned the big one of seven billion, which we reached on Halloween a year ago. And we are adding about 225,000 people to the dinner table every night who were not there last night. So that is net growth of the world’s population on an annual basis of a new Egypt every year. In other words, 83 million additional people net growth annually. And that from a climate change perspective alone is a huge increment. Most of this growth is occurring in poor countries, so on a per capita level, the people being added to the population have much lower impact than, say, if Europe were growing at that rate. But nevertheless, just from a climate perspective, with most of that 83 million additional people in low per capita greenhouse-gas output countries – this is between now and 2050 – at this rate of growth, it is the climate equivalent of adding two United States to the planet.

Chris Martenson: Wow, two United States. So the other thing I track and on the resource side is food. And we have this extraordinary green revolution. But a lot of the charts for food productivity are really nosing over. And I saw a UN projection that suggested that by 2050 we might have to double our food production. I just do not see how we can do that.

And then on the other side, you look at stories like phosphate and other non-renewable key mineral resources – in this case a fertilizer input – plus the issues on water. To me this is the key driver of all of these somewhat difficult trends that we just talked about here, whether it is in climate or food production or water or even energy. All of these are being driven by population.

You are at the heart of this population conversation. How come I do not hear this conversation come up very often? In fact, I do not think I heard one mention of it in the last presidential election cycle.

Bill Ryerson: Nor did you hear much about the climate change. It is possible to make a subject taboo by having enough money thrown at PR around that issue being unacceptable to discuss. And indeed, that is what has happened. There is a big money machine cranking out people going on talk shows saying population is not the problem, people who are concerned about population are either racist or in favor of free sex with contraception or whatever. And trying to make it controversial so that it gets off the table of the global community’s agenda. And instead allows these self-serving interests to continue to profit from population growth. Most people in the world do not profit from population growth. But there are a few who do. And of course, when you stop and think about who profits from population growth, one is real estate developers. The builders of houses clearly think population growth is a great idea because it means more housing starts. And that is how they measure their welfare.

There are others, land owners, who think the more people there are, then the more demand there will be for my land, and that means the price of land is going to go up. Indeed, that is the case. And there are people in the energy business who say the more people there are, the more demand there will be for my product, so I will make more money. And that is the case. So there are monied interests and there are also religious interests who are fighting the whole idea that population might have any relevance to the future of humanity and putting out a huge amount of literature on the subject on a daily basis.

Chris Martenson: A huge amount of literature. So you have noticed that there is what you would call a campaign, as it were, for the market share of ideas. And you are on one side of the campaign and you have noticed that there are people on the other side.

Bill Ryerson: A few years ago, we started an initiative to put sustainability experts onto talk radio around the U.S. And we started to crank up interest, and particularly around the seven billion mark last year there was a lot of media attention to population, which had fallen off the global radar screen for some decades. And the response has been tangible. Entities like the Wall Street Journal and various other conservative media and conservative think tanks have responded with books like The Empty Cradle, claiming there are just not enough people. We need more people in order to sustain the economy. A whole series of economic articles about the aging of the population of Europe saying the aging of population and even places like China are much more important than slowing population growth and therefore we need to stimulate people to have babies.

We now have a situation where Germany is paying $13,000 per German baby born. Australia is paying $5,000 per Australian baby born. And these bonuses or bribes are actually affecting the birth rate, it appears. However, what they are really doing – and I do not think they were aware of this, although they should be – is, they are actually worsening the dependency situation that they claim to be trying to solve. The concern in Germany, for example, is we have so many aging pensioners and a shrinking or potentially shrinking workforce to support them, and therefore we need to increase the birthrate so we have more workers in the future. This, of course, assumes that those kids, when they grow up, will have jobs in a growing economy.

Second, it ignores the fact that those kids are 100% dependent on working adults for at least the first eighteen years of their life – and if they are going to have a college education, which is almost required now in Germany, they are going to be dependent for some years after that. And in fact, the aged in Germany, who may be retired, often have savings that supplement their income from pensions. And so they are not nearly as dependent as the young people that the government is trying to add to the population. And furthermore, since the retirement age was set at the time of Bismarck, if they only were to recognize what has happened to longevity and health they could change the retirement age by a couple of years and adjust the pension system very slightly and solve that problem rather than trying to solve it through a Ponzi scheme of endless population growth.

Chris Martenson: What a perversion of logic, I suppose, the idea that we have a system of pensions that we operate in a certain way. And because it is shaped in a pyramidal shape it is a Ponzi scheme, in essence; we need more entrants to support the people who came before. The solution to that, if we ever detect a defect in that system, is to try and incentivize getting more people into the system rather than saying there is potentially something wrong with how we designed the system. Because sooner or later, you have to say maybe not now, but even the most conservative among us at some point, whatever our motivation happens to be, would have to say there is a set limit to the number of people we can fit on this planet. Maybe we could argue about when that is; some might say we are already past that mark. Some might say the mark is very far in the future. But sooner or later you say there is a mark, which means, then, that it is not incumbent on our monetary system or our economic system or our pension system. It is not that we have to fit people into those systems. It is the reverse.

Bill Ryerson: Exactly. We need to have the global community come together and do planning for a sustainable future. And part of the process of doing that is actually doing an analysis of what our resources are, country by country, and renewable resources. And what is the productivity of those renewable resources, in a sense the way the global footprint network has done by saying how many acres’ footprint does each person have in terms of the use of biodiversity forest, fields for agriculture, et cetera, for all of the human activities that are being carried out by that person? And then look at how do our resources – sustainable resources, i.e., renewable resources – stack up against those demands? And what is very clear globally and in most countries of the world is that the total scale of human activity has outgrown the long-term sustainable yield of the environment to sustain that population. So in most countries we have already exceeded the carrying capacity.

Chris Martenson: I find the arguments that more people equates to more growth, which therefore I think translates into more prosperity, is how that thought train goes has a logical break in it for me. Because at some point, after a certain moment, growth itself actually steals from prosperity. They are both funded from the same source. And the real question is would you rather live in a nation of a hundred million people with just absolutely abundant resources for a very prosperous lifestyle, or in a nation of a billion people where everybody is sort of fighting over a relatively tiny share? To me that is a self-answering question. But you outlined that the process here would be to A) recognize that there is a limit that we have to live within, and then secondarily B) to create a strategy around that which involves a survey of some sort. What do we have? What kind of a lifestyle can we sustain given what we have here and within these boundaries we are talking about? And then the third thing is C) you would have to then manage to that.

And that analogy I have here is that we have recognized that there are limits to fisheries in the United States and we have been managing those fisheries for decades. And just a month ago they announced the closure, the complete closure, of the Grand Banks Fisheries because they had collapsed completely – just illustrating to me that even when you have the intention to manage carefully even a renewable resource, which fisheries potentially are, there is still obviously some learnings that are going to have to happen there. Which is kind of a long way of asking when is a good time to get started on this, do you think?

Bill Ryerson: Yesterday. [laughter] Clearly, at the Rio conference on the global environment that occurred last June, that was a great opportunity for the world to come together and talk about not how do we make the Titanic greener but how do we actually put the world on a course towards long term sustainability, where we start by saying what is the planetary and each country, the national capacity for sustaining a population with renewable resources? Because clearly non-renewable resources like oil, coal, and gas are non-renewable and will eventually run out or become more and more expensive and therefore not reliable as a source of energy. But what is the renewable long-term sustainability or the carrying capacity of the environment in each geographic territory and globally? And then looking at what is the current and projected future human demand for those resources and do we have sufficient natural resources to meet our needs?

And doing this kind of accounting is not difficult. There are very good robust scientific designs for measuring resource capacity and human demand, and projecting out what do we need to do in some time in the next few decades in order to get from what is clearly population overshoot to achieving something that is in balance. Because as long as we are in overshoot – and the global footprint network’s calculation is we are now at 50% overshoot – that means we are digging into the savings account of our ecological systems, as you mentioned; the fisheries being one, forests being another. We are eating into the capital to sustain the growing population.

Another example of this is India. India is pumping out underground aquifers for irrigation of farmlands at a rate greatly exceeding the rate of replenishment of those aquifers by rainwater and by river availability. And therefore the water table is sinking. In some parts of India it is sinking by ten feet a year. Farmers are having to drill deeper every year in order to access irrigation water. And some farms now are starting to find that it is just impossible to reach the water; the land is turning to desert and the farmers are giving up and moving to the city. Well, the long-term picture is that much of India is going to face this collapse of agriculture. India is one of the top three grain-producing countries on the planet, and this will drive the price of grain out of reach of many people who get an Indian salary. Indeed, there are about 150 million people in India alone being kept alive now through over-pumping of underground aquifers. And when those aquifers run out, far more than that will face immediate starvation and will go rampaging across India and across other countries to find food.

And the security agencies, including the CIA, are well aware of this and are very concerned about it. But for some reason, our political will to address these issues and the threat that they pose to habitability of the planet has been lacking. And yet there is nothing more important than addressing these issues. India is growing by 18 million a year. That is a new Bombay every year and yet nobody is talking about the fact that what is going on is totally unsustainable. And there is not nearly enough being done to change the demographic projection in India. Certainly there have been efforts, and there have been some successful efforts.

But much more should be done. Much more attention should be paid to family planning information as well as services, because right now it is really a drop in the bucket in the global community’s budget. And as we have seen in the last two years, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to de-fund all assistance to family planning worldwide. Thankfully, the Senate stopped that from happening, but in an era when we are already at an unsustainable level of people to stop any funding for family planning is absolute insanity.

Chris Martenson: I agree completely. It sounds like the math is clear. Adding up the resources is a fairly trivial exercise, as far as these things go. And yet we find that it is not just a controversial topic, it is so controversial that often we cannot even entertain the conversation at all. It seems like tempers flare really rapidly. What is it about this topic that makes it so difficult to talk about?

Bill Ryerson: I have spent 41 years working full time in the population field and I will say it has been endlessly fascinating – and I have had to get something of a tough skin to withstand the controversy. Where do we start? One, it is dealing with sex. That is controversial enough. Abortion, of course, has become a big issue in the U.S. and in some other countries. And the failure of contraception or its availability often creates a demand for abortion. There clearly are a lot of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies going on around the world. But the abortion issue adds to the controversy. Contraception is opposed by the Catholic church, and that is a major stumbling block for addressing that issue when you have a member state of the United Nations that is a religion that stands in opposition to all forms of artificial contraception.

And then at a country level, including the United States in particular, population growth is driven in many countries by migration. So in the U.S., trying to go from where we are now, 310 million people, to a sustainable level – one good ecological estimate is that at a western European lifestyle, the U.S. could sustain 200 million – would mean reducing net growth to zero and then ultimately to a negative number. And when more than half of our growth is driven by migration across our borders, it means addressing the immigration issue. And immediately you have people saying well, if you are trying to stop immigration, you must be racist. So all of these issues add up to something that when somebody brings up population at a dinner party people will jump down their throat and they will say wow, I will never bring that topic up again.

It is really interesting. We all have antennae that we have up in the air to find out what is acceptable and what is the norm with regard to all kinds of issues. And people, of course, want to be liked, want to be accepted by their friends, so they try to steer clear of controversial areas. And there is a very interesting psychological study that is really the only thing I remember from freshman psychology, a study in a paper by Solomon Ash, who was a Princeton psychologist who asked his students to identify two objects – just to give you an example, a glass and a yardstick – and to say which of these is longer. And in advance of the class, he asked every student except for one to lie. So when he then held the class, he said okay, I am holding up two objects, a glass and a yardstick, which of these is longer? Every student said the glass. And the poor student who did not know what was going on, when it got to be his turn, said the glass. So we know from these studies of conformism that for young people in particular but for all of us, fitting in, being normal, and being accepted by our friends is more important than telling the truth.

And therefore, when we are dealing with a difficult subject like population, people say, oh well, I am opposed to contraception. I am opposed to abortion. I am opposed to limiting migration. People will say well, I guess we will not talk about that. And so it has just disappeared. And yet the problem is it is not unimportant. And it is so vital to the future habitability of the planet that despite all of these controversies we cannot afford to ignore this issue. We must address it.

And there are ways, within a human rights context, to address this issue successfully. We have great success stories: Iran being one which is at replacement-level fertility. Thailand being another which is at replacement-level fertility. These countries have achieved it. We can get there if we pay attention to it, and we can do it in a human rights context. It is very clear what needs to happen.

Part of the problem in addressing the population issue is that many people have made really bad efforts to deal with it – some using coercion, others missing the mark on what is needed. There has been a lot of money put into things that are not effective. But it is very clear what is needed in order to increase contraceptive use, decrease the fertility rate, stop child marriage, allow people to be educated and get married to people of their own choice as adults, and space and limit childbearing for better health and better economic welfare. All of these are no brainers in the public-health community, but for some reason the politicians have run screaming.

Chris Martenson: That is interesting. I note that often I hear that when we want to avoid the population issue people will drag out a statistic and say oh, well, that is easy. All we have to do is X. Usually X is raise the economic living standards. And we find that there is a correlation with a decline in birthrates at that point. But I have here a headline, just came across my desk this morning; if you are not familiar with it we could push it off. But it says here that the U.S. birthrate has now plummeted to its lowest level since 1920.

Bill Ryerson: Yes.

Chris Martenson: And I know sometimes, like I said, economic advancement is held to be the key to lower birthrates. But here they are assigning causation to this declining birthrate to the recession. So it seems that maybe economic decline in some cases spurs lower birthrates like we saw in the former USSR. Russia has – you can tell us about those numbers I am sure.

Bill Ryerson: Yes.

Chris Martenson: So – maybe is it okay to be confused here? What are we seeking here? Economic advancement or recession?

Bill Ryerson: I am so glad you brought this up, because many people have assumed that the demographic transition theory is correct. That is, economic growth leads to more women in the workplace and lower birthrates, so all we need is economic growth. But as you pointed out, Russia has had very low birthrates in the face of economic decline. U.S. immigrants have had declining birthrates since 2008 and the US population because of, at least in part, economic decline in this country. And if you look back a little bit in our history to the Great Depression, the U.S. had below-replacement-level fertility, the lowest birthrate in its history, during the 1930s, because people were motivated to limit family size because they could not afford to feed a lot of children during the Depression.

So motivation to limit family size is in many ways the most important factor. And we have also seen examples of countries where economic welfare increased and the birthrate went up. There are demographic and health surveys carried out in about 95 countries in the world on a regular basis, about every three to five years. In Nigeria, the fertility rate is 5.7 children per women on average during each woman’s lifetime. They are averaging 5.7 children. The average woman in Nigeria wants 7 children. The average man wants 8.5. So why are they having only 5.7? Well, because of poverty.

Migrants to the U.S., largely from Mexico and Central and South America, but a lot of them from Mexico, for many years up until the Recession of 2008 would have more children once they moved to the U.S. than they or their peers were having in the villages from which they came in Mexico. Their incomes had gone up and they could now afford to have the number of children that they wanted for cultural reasons, because they had grown up with the idea of large family size as a good idea; they therefore wanted to increase family size and could finally do so because they could afford to with the incomes they had achieved in the U.S.

So it is very clear the demographic transition theory is flawed. What we have concluded looking back at every country that has gone from developing status to developed status since World War II, and there are eight of them, what actually happened was not that the economy went up and then the birthrate fell, but the reverse. The birth rate fell and then the economy started up. So the cause and effect has been mixed up in people’s minds because of the correlation. But what has happened in each of those eight countries is, first the country instituted an effective family planning program including promoting it, not just having clinics, but promoting smaller family norms and promoting delaying marriage and childbearing until adulthood and spacing of childbearing. And when the birthrate got down to the low twos, like 2.3 children per women, without any change in family income people had a little money left over. They were not feeding so many children; previously maybe they were having 5. Now they are having 2.3. So suddenly instead of spending all of their income on food, housing, and clothing, there is some money left over.

What can they do with that money? Well, number one, they can buy some elective goods stimulating the manufacturing sector. Number two, they can put some in savings. This builds capital. One of the great limitations in economic growth in poor countries is lack of capital. So the capital market starts to form. Businesses can borrow and expand building employment demand in the face of slightly declining numbers of people – or at least declining growth in the numbers of people – trying to enter the labor force. And that builds wage pressure, which in a poor country is a good idea. So people are earning more money. The government has the ability to tax those incomes. That allows the government to spend some of that money on environmental protection but also on infrastructure: power, water, sewer, roads, schools, all of these things that build economic productivity. And individuals have the ability to spend some of that money on education, which improves the economic productivity of their children.

So demographers have known this for a long time. And demographers refer to this as the “demographic dividend.” In fact, when fertility rates fall, economies get better and people get out of poverty. And when you look at the Asian tigers including China, with the highest economic growth rate on the planet in recent years, these are benefiting from the reduced fertility rates that have been achieved in those countries. So the idea that all we need to do is grow the economy and population will take care of itself is absolutely wrong. It may not be the case that all we need to do is reduce the fertility and the economy will take care of itself. But as we have talked about previously with regard to the resource limitations, including water and energy, it is very clear: If we are going to have some number of people living a decent quality of life with incomes that allow them to live comfortably, the only way we can achieve that is getting to replacement level – and ultimately, because we have overshot the long-term carrying capacity of the planet, below-replacement-level – fertility, so that we go into a slight decline in numbers until we are at a level that can be sustained indefinitely.

Chris Martenson: So part of China’s economic miracle, then – with all the fantastic growth that China has had, obviously there are multiple factors in this, but – you would describe one of those factors being that they had a one-child policy. They brought their overall fertility rates down. And through this demographic dividend, I believe you called it, this is part of the China story. Is that how you would frame that?

Bill Ryerson: With one minor amendment, it is certainly how I would frame it. But the amendment is, the one-child policy, in my opinion, was unnecessary. China achieved most of what they did through persuasion, not coercion. But being the type of government they are, they said well, if people do not go along with it, we are going to coerce them. And obviously that has earned a black eye for China and for the whole population field because a lot of people associate the word “population” with Chinese coercion. But I have traveled all over China and I have talked to ordinary people all over that country. They are all persuaded that the one-child concept is a good idea. China mobilized a million people to go all over the country talking to people about the benefits they would achieve by avoiding another thirty million deaths from starvation that they had during the Cultural Revolution And by limiting family size, because the country had become so huge in numbers.

So people in China are well educated about demography and are persuaded that limiting family size is a good idea. They did not, in my opinion, need to hold out economic penalties for people who did not go along with it. Certainly the persuasion got them below replacement level fertility. And if a few people had more children than one in urban areas or two in rural areas – many people do not know the one child policy is only for the urban areas. They allowed two or in some cases three in rural areas.

Chris Martenson: Oh, I did not know that.

Bill Ryerson: But this would average out. What is important in any country is not the number of children each couple has but what is the overall average. And if they are averaging below replacement level, then eventually the population is going to start to shrink. And that is really what they achieved through persuasion. And they could have avoided all the controversy by not doing the coercion along with it.

Chris Martenson: This is an important conversation to have because I think for a lot of people, when population comes up. the immediate reaction – and I am not sure if this is a reaction that has been marketed to us or how legitimate it is, but often it comes up – is that oh my gosh, this is going to be coercive. There is going to be forced sterilizations or the economic punitive measures of China or whatever. And somehow they are imagining that it has to be Draconian. And what I hear you saying is no, it does not have to be Draconian. In fact, the best successes are worked through the art of persuasion at the individual level. It makes sense – what makes sense for the nation and what makes sense for individuals is the same thing. And so getting that in alignment and talking about it openly is the path that we would like to take, because it works.

Bill Ryerson: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, look at Europe. There is no coercion in Europe, and all of Europe is at below replacement level fertility. Japan the same; Thailand the same; Sri Lanka is just approaching replacement level fertility. There are only two countries I am aware of – China, and, much less known, Vietnam – that have used coercion. There are countries that have used coercive pregnancy, like the Philippines. And during Chauchesku, Romania banned contraception and caused untold damage through people being forced to have babies they did not want and they are stuck in orphanages. And that type of coercion has been far more frequent, although less talked about than coercive family planning. But all of this coercion has been unnecessary. There are intellectuals – maybe that is too polite a word – there are people who ethereally in their minds think coercion might be a good idea because this is such an important topic. And if it is threatening the future habitability of the planet, if we are going to give people tickets for speeding and for going through red lights, we should certainly give them tickets for having too many children. But I have never seen a situation outside of China and Vietnam where coercion worked.

So despite or in addition to the fact that coercion causes a huge backlash of resentment, stop and think about who would we have coerce us. Would it be Rich Santorum? Would it be George Bush? Would it be Obama? Who is going to make the decision as to how many children we are allowed to have and how are we going to go along with that? I can imagine the debate that would be going on about that. But as we have seen all over the world, with effective family planning programs and information and discussion, as you brought up, maybe countries have achieved a replacement level or below fertility without any hint of coercion. So why would we go to Draconian measure when it is not necessary and would be a violation of human rights?

What is missing is this: We have done an analysis of the reasons given for non-use of family planning in all 95 countries where demographic and health surveys have been carried out. And the global community is convinced that the problem must be lack of access to contraceptives. You read this all the time. Well, there are millions of women who want family planning and cannot find it. There are clinics where they are out of stock for some time. And you go in there and there are no contraceptives, or at least some brand of pill is missing but maybe you can get a condom. And that is a problem that needs to be solved. And if Coca-Cola can be in every village in India, why not contraception?

But that is not the reason women are giving for non-use of contraception. Number one reason they give is they want more children. That is logical. If they have not finished what they perceive as childbearing desires, they are going to hold off, and if they want to be pregnant they are going to hold off until they have the number of babies they want. But after that, those who do not want to be pregnant now or in the immediate future, the number one reason they are giving is they have heard it is dangerous. And religious fundamentalists are handing out information that condoms contain the AIDS virus and the lubricant, the pill gives you cancer. And people are hearing this misinformation and they are going oh my God, why would I want to use a dangerous thing like that?

So number one, they are saying they have heard it is dangerous, they are afraid of health effects. Number two, religious opposition, husband’s opposition, or personal opposition to the whole concept of planning one’s family. And this relates closely to another major reason that is measured in some demographic and health surveys: fatalism. There is a very interesting study by Etienne Vanderwall that looks at the transcripts of interviews with women who did not want to be pregnant and are not using a method of contraception. And the interviews often go like this:

  • Are you married and sexually active or in union and sexually active? Yes.
  • Do you want to be pregnant now or in the next two years? No, I desperately do not. I cannot feed the children I have.
  • Are you using a modern method of contraception? No.
  • Do you understand because you are sexually active and not using a contraceptive that you could become pregnant? Well, that would be okay.
  • But I thought you said you desperately do not want to be pregnant, you cannot feed the children you have. That is true.
  • So how can you say it is okay if you become pregnant? If God wants me pregnant it is up to God. I am here to serve God.

In Pakistan, 38% of the non-users give as their reason the number of children I have is up to God. So this type of fatalism, not even [accepting] that it is in one’s ability and one’s right to determine the number and spacing of their children, is a critical stumbling block. So these concerns, and in some countries not knowing a method that one can use, are the major barriers. In Nigeria, these are the top reasons given for non-use of contraception: lack of access to contraceptive services is cited by 0.2%, cost is cited by 0.2%. And yet much of the effort going into promote family planning is going into increasing access to services when that is not the reason people are giving for non-use.

So one of the great failures in some countries, in my opinion, has been not putting the emphasis where it needs to be: helping overcome the misinformation, helping people understand they have the right and the ability to determine how many children they are going to have. In the world of Islam, for example, their official findings say that the Koran inherently endorses family planning even though it never mentions the term because of the commandment that a woman should breastfeed her infant for at least two years and therefore she must use contraception because if she becomes pregnant the breastfeeding scenario comes to an end.

So in Islam and in Indian Catholicism, with some methods the church does approve, it is possible for people to plan their family. Italy and Spain have among the lowest birth rates on the planet. And what methods people are using is of less concern to me than that they are achieving their goals. So we can overcome these informational and cultural barriers if we use communication strategies that are effective at changing norms with regard to family size desires and with regard to informational or misinformation and cultural factors that stop people from using contraception. And that is not to say we should not increase the supply of contraceptives. We need to, because while we have grown from 10% of world’s couples using family planning in 1960 to 56% today, the 44% non-users outnumber the 90% non-users from 1960 because of population growth. So we definitely need to increase the supply. But we desperately need to increase communications around these issues in a way that will change behavior.

Chris Martenson: All right, Bill, it sounds like communication is the key on this because the math is clear, the trends are clear. We have now plenty of data in evidence to suggest what works. There are a lot of things that can work and do work as you have already outlined. I am listening to this right now. I am a listener; I am hearing you; I am concerned; I would like to help. What could I do?

Bill Ryerson: Well, you brought up Population Media Center. One of the things that we do – and that is the primary thing we do – is to use a strategy of communications that has turned out, from everything we have been able to measure, to be the most cost-effective strategy for changing behavior with regard to family size and contraceptive use on a per-behavior change basis of any strategy we have found on the planet. And this is the use of long-running serialized dramas, melodramas like soap operas, in which characters gradually evolve from the middle of the road in that society into positive role models for daughter education, delaying marriage and childbearing until adulthood, spacing of children, limiting of family size, and various other health and social goals of each country. And we have now done such programs in forty-five countries. And I can give you a couple of statistics.

For example, in northern Nigeria, a program we ran from 2007 to 2009 was listened to by 70% of the population at least weekly. It was a twice a week program. It was clearly a smash hit. And it was a smash hit because it was highly suspenseful and highly entertaining. But it had a storyline dealing with a couple deciding to use family planning, which is almost taboo in northern Nigeria because less than 10% of the people in that region use any modern method of contraception. We had eleven clinics have healthcare workers ask clients what had motivated them to come in for family planning, and 67% percent of them named the program as the motivation.

Chris Martenson: Congratulations.

Bill Ryerson: Our cost per family-planning adopter of that entire program, 208 episodes, writing, acting, production, and primetime air purchase, plus the research pre- and post-broadcast and the monitoring research, came out to 89 cents per family-planning adopter. That is the kind of thing that can dramatically change demographic trends globally. We need to greatly expand this type of work. And there are very few organizations doing this. So one thing people can do is become involved in supporting the work of Population Media Center. They can go to www.populationmedia.org and read all about our work. They can also encourage their policymakers, i.e., members of Congress and others, to pay attention to the communication needs on this issue and not just the medical service provision side of it. Because we can set up all the clinics we want, but if people are afraid to go into them, we will not change demographic trends.

Chris Martenson: Bill, I really want to thank you for your 41 years, I believe you said, of service in this regard.

Bill Ryerson: Yes. [laughter]

Chris Martenson: And to bring to us a very challenging conversation that you have made thoughtful and positive and non-draconian, showing the way that these are things that are well within our control. Often I find in topics of discussion around population there is often the sense of tossing up the hands, lack of agency, what can possibly done? And you have articulated for us that there is lots that can be done. In fact, there is already evidence of what works and what does not work. And so it is not a shortage of information that we are facing right now. It is really the will to get out there and make this a top priority for ourselves. So thank you.

Bill Ryerson: In some ways, I am working in this field because I do see this as a solvable problem. I think the issue of reducing our per capita consumption is a more difficult challenge. It also needs communications to change norms with regard to lifestyles that could be considered over the top. So the excessive consumption is reduced, but it is, I think, a bigger challenge, because people seem to have an endless appetite for increasing their lifestyle.

Chris Martenson: Well, maybe there are some things that work there as well. We are seeing changes in behaviors there, too. And if the story is right, if the narrative is correct, people will live into that narrative. And in the absence of a good narrative will default into – maybe I will call them more “primal” sort of behavior sets. But I, too, have great faith that people, with the right narrative, with a good story, with right information, will make very rational decisions. But in the absence of good information it is impossible to make a good decision.

So I want to thank you for bringing clarity to the population topic and remind people that I have been talking with Bill Ryerson and you can find out more at his www.populationmedia.org. Did I get that right?

Bill Ryerson: That is correct.

Chris Martenson: All right, well, there you go, and I hope we can have another conversation in the future. It has been great.

Bill Ryerson: Chris, thanks so much for having me on; I really enjoyed it.

About the guest

Bill Ryerson

William Ryerson is the Population Institute's Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer.  Ryerson, who also serves as President of the Population Media Center, has a 37-year history of working in the field of reproductive health, including 20 years of experience adapting the Sabido methodology for behavior change communications to various cultural settings worldwide. He has also been involved in the design of research to measure the effects of such projects in a number of countries, one of which has led to a series of publications regarding a serialized radio drama in Tanzania and its effects on HIV/AIDS avoidance and family planning use. He also serves as President of the Population Media Center, which works in partnership with the Population Institute. He received a B.A. in Biology (Magna Cum Laude) from Amherst College and an M.Phil. in Biology from Yale University (with specialization in Ecology and Evolution). Before founding Population Media Center, he served as Director of the Population Institute's Youth and Student Division, Development Director of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, Associate Director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Executive Vice President of Population Communications International. As a graduate student, he was Founder and first Chairperson of the Yale Chapter of Zero Population Growth (ZPG). He also served on the Executive Committee of ZPG, as Eastern Vice President and Secretary of the national organization. Mr. Ryerson is listed in several editions of Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the East. In 2006, he was awarded the Nafis Sadik Prize for Courage from the Rotarian Action Group on Population and Development.

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90 Comments

MarkBahner's picture
MarkBahner
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The world population is not growing exponentially

"If world population continues its exponential growth,..."

The world population has not been growing exponentially for about 40 years. So this commentary is a little behind the times.

ckessel's picture
ckessel
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Bill Ryerson

Excellent podcast Chris and Bill. I'm very glad to see this topic being tackled as it is one of the big elephants in our Peak Prosperity room.

Coop

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Mike K
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Population is THE key problem

Something to think about...

Peak oil was first raised as an issue by Marion King Hubbert in 1956. He was a Shell petroleum geologist and he got up in front of his peers and told them that due to the lack of discoveries of new oil fields in the US that US oil production would peak in 1970 and decline thereafter no matter what technology was brought in. He was laughed at. They stopped laughing in 1971 when the oil production rate was less than the year before and in 72, 73 etc etc as each year there was less oil produced than the previous. Here is my question, do you think that the powers that be of this world would not have noticed this very important issue? Is it too much to expect that the truly powerful and wealthy would not have then started planning for global peaking of oil production and all that it would entail? 

The capitalist system with fractional reserve banking has been operating for many generations now. The truly wealthy and powerful families have prospered throughout this time. They would not want the status quo to change. They would prefer if it could all continue forever as they have everything they could ever desire at their fingertips. Peak oil is a physical fundamental problem that cannot be solved with any amount of wealth or power. This is why I believe the powers that be would be planning for this change that they cannot prevent. It would explain why there was a war in Iraq for the oil in which the oil production of Iraq actually fell (goes against the idea it was merely for immediate use of the oil, more likely they want it as a long term reserve of easy oil). It would also explain the US debt, in which there is no thought of ever repaying this. 

I know if I were in a position where money were not a concern and the power than comes with that I would certainly "liaise" with others in similar situations to see what ways the world could be influenced to ensure that when the dust settles, "we" are still on top?

If you think about it, population is the key factor in all human problems right now. If the population were reduced to 1 billion world wide there would be an abundance of resources rather than a scarcity. Nature and all ecosystems would be given a chance to recover.  There would also be an opportunity for those in powerful places to instigate a new system, a global one that did not require growth for prosperity and in fact enforced a stagnant population. The 1 billion could be all "well off" with plenty of resources for all. In fact there would be an opportunity to restart human civilisation with a set of new principles focused on preserving nature and understanding the benefits that this has on air and water quality etc. 

It may be that after the collapse of the financial system and subsequent collapse in global law and order as food/supply chains are disrupted and good people do what ever it takes to feed their children. That a catastrophic epidemic breaks out with virility never before seen in nature. This epidemic could spread world wide and the survivors might be 20% of the total original population? Only those with the strongest immune systems would be able to survive (or those with specifically designed vaccines or antidotes??). Now this would be a catastrophic event for human beings however for the greater planet there probably could not be a better situation. It would be as if Mother Earth got a dose of penicillin to take on the pathogens (us) ruining her health. Whomever happened to survive this event would likely live a much happier and prosperous life than if it had never occurred. To be honest, from what I can see coming at human civilisation with the collapse of the global financial system and subsequently the collapse of human civilisation, it looks like at least decades of famine, disease, war, anarchy, and plain hard living for everyone as we all fight for ever diminishing scraps for survival. It is going to be ugly and it is going to get worse and worse year on year until eventually the balance is restored in terms of population vs natures carrying capacity which could take decades. Kind of makes the lottery of surviving a killer disease outbreak look like the lesser of 2 bad situations?

Some call me cynical but I see myself as realistic, but I just cant see humanity coming together to solve this problem by making the tough choices. Our whole system is geared to grow at all costs and without growth it can only collapse as it was fundamentally flawed from its very inception. The laws of physics and nature will force our hand. The only thing that could be done is by those with the resources and foresight to set certain things in place to ensure that when the dust settles post collapse that they (and any survivors) have a life worth living. I have a number of friends who have been in my ear about the NWO for years and for years I could not understand the motives of why the elite would want more control over the masses? It didnt make sense at all so I dismissed it.

It was only once I came to understand the following concepts and put them together that I realised it was not as much of a stretch to believe in plans for a NWO:

  • peaking of oil production (incl how soon 2005 and what impact it would have),
  • and what that would mean for the financial system that because of fractional reserve banking is dependent on growth or it will collapse,
  • an understanding of the laws of thermodynamics (energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only pass from what form to another with energy lost in this transaction, Entropy),
  • an appreciation for just how special oil is as a concentrated and easy to handle energy source,
  • that technology is not energy but merely human ingenuity for figuring out ever new ways of utilising fossil fuels,
  • just how dependent the world population has become on commercial agriculture driven by fossil fuels (and in the case of ammonia and nitrates grown with fossil fuels), 
  • the fact that we are in a massive overshoot in terms of population sustainable without fossil fuels,
  • how corrupt our government systems are, to the point that they are merely an illusion for the masses to believe that they can choose a leader, it doesnt matter who wins, growth at all costs is the goal!
  • how concentrated wealth has become for the top 1%
  • Old money vs new money in terms of the wealthy... old money being the truly wealthy families that have passed down not just their wealth to their offspring but their knowledge of the "system" and the import of keeping that from the masses,
  • the seemingly purposeful and relentless insults to the immune system of the masses with things like fluoride, vaccines (with mercury, aluminium, formaldehyde etc), pharmaceuticals treating symptoms rather than finding causes and preventing illness, GMOs, transfats, synthetic and artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives, excess availability of highly refined sugar and salt etc.
  • the seeming purposeful and relentless distraction of the masses with "bread and circuses" a la during the collapse of Rome where bread and circuses was used to distract the masses during the collapse of Rome. Think reality TV, sports, MTV music videos, gaming consoles etc etc. 

Only after considering and understanding the above issues have I now concluded that it is possible that powerful people are planning for a New World Order. It seems only logical that they would. I know I would if I was in their shoes and knew what I know about peaking of oil production and the fact that "the proverbial is about to hit the fan". I would want to take steps to make the world a place worth living. I could see the humanness of ensuring the painful and inevitable transition is shortened to a couple of years rather than a few decades. I can see that there would be an opportunity to create a new world order where growth wasn't at its core. Where nature was respected and appreciated for the services it provides. Where everyone could live long and fruitful lives free from anxiety, pain and suffering that would be present in every corner of the world for decades in a collapse scenario that went uninfluenced. 

I am interested to hear what others think of my thoughts. I realise that it may come across as though I am promoting genocide however I am merely comparing 2 very bad scenarios and suggesting that one scenario is preferable over the other. From my research over the years it seems inevitable that the global population will be reduced to less than 1 billion due to the reduced carrying capacity of the planet due to the peaking and decline of oil and humanity's rape and pillage of natural resources over the years. It is just how the population gets to this low figure that I am concerned with. Will it be via a long drawn out war, famine, pain and suffering for decades or will it be via a purposefully released rapid and virulent disease that reduces the population massively relatively overnight, along with a plan in place to rebuild a new style of human civilisation that learns from past mistakes?

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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MarkBahner wrote:"If world

MarkBahner wrote:

"If world population continues its exponential growth,..."

The world population has not been growing exponentially for about 40 years. So this commentary is a little behind the times.

Mark,

Anything that is growing by some percentage over time is growing exponentially.  Human population is still expanding by a bit more than 1% per year globally and this has been true for the past 40 years, and it remains true today.

There are some projections that show that population growth might level off to 0% growth or even go negative  somewhere around 2050 bgy the UN 'low' projection, but for now the medium case calls for 9.5 billion people by 2050 with a potential leveling off near 10 billion by 2100.  The high case is just a complete exponential growth fantasy, but there it is too.

(Source = Wikipedia)

If you have different information bring it forward please.

The most likely case for human population is just the same as for any other organism, will be to create a sigmoid chart, one that looks like an "S," which has an exponential phase, a transition phase, and then a plateau phase.  Humans are still in that first exponential phase.

What causes populations to transition and then plateau?  Simple - a lack of resources. 

What is true for all of life is true for humans too, our remarkable ability to consume widely across all biomes notwithstanding.

Time for us to think about what it means to inhabit the world and that perhaps our mission aught to be something other than to see just how many humans we can cram on the planet.

Plainthinker's picture
Plainthinker
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The Economic Powers

Great information. The stories or narratives we tell ourselves rule our lives. The religious narrative that "God" decides the number of our children, and that we should not interfere is a difficult meme to overcome. Especially when there are strong economic powers with the mass media at their beck and call that benefit from such a narrative that pushes "growth". Keep up the good work Bill Ryerson.

ao's picture
ao
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population and other limits
Welcome to the site Mike.  You expressed your concepts well and these same concepts have been discussed on this site in the past, to a greater or lesser degree, by many others, myself included.  The archives are an excellent source of many of these discussions.
 
With regards to population being THE problem, I would respectfully disagree.  Population is a major symptom or outcome of the problem, arguably the largest and most overarching one, but it is still a symptom and not the problem.  We have had major problems on this planet before resources were being severely depleted.  We have had major problems on this planet before the environment, plant, and animal life was savaged.  We have had major problems on this planet before a debt based monetary system, fiat currency, fractional reserve banking, etc. were implemented.  We have had major problems on this planet before the quality of food was compromised and before we began putting synthetic substances into our body.  Etc., etc.  The major problem as I see it, is human behavior, whether one considers that from a secular viewpoint or from a spiritual perspective or from both. 
 
Unfortunately, the strictures of this site preclude discussion of this problem at the depth necessary to address this problem at its essential core.  Statements such as the following are illustrative of the previous statement:
 
"Needless to say, our moderators are on high alert and will step in if they are needed."
 
Even if discussion is conscientious, levelheaded, and respectful, one is censored from discussing certain topics which could shed further light on this issue.  I understand the reason for this position but I also find it to be one of the few shortcoming of this site.  Another is the tendency to want to eschew emotion from discussion because of its potential danger.  Yes, emotion is like any other powerful force ... it has a positive and a negative aspect.  I would venture to guess that the greatest good anyone on this site has ever done has probably been emotionally driven.  To preclude all discussion that might be emotional, denies one of the very elements that distinguishes and elevates us as humans.  A human being operating out of pure rationality could be very dangerous indeed, both in their influence and their actions.  In fact, the sociopathic element that is largely in control of our society operates very rationally and is devoid of the emotion necessary to appreciate the pain and suffering they inflict upon others. 
 
I realize that the paradox of allowable discussion topics is unresolvable on this site but understanding it helps one to understand the limits to discussions on threads such as this.  That being said, I'm still grateful to Chris for creating this site and sharing his knowledge and wisdom as well as the many fine folks here from whom I've learned a great deal.  And I wish everyone here peace on earth and good will to men.  
RJE's picture
RJE
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ao...

...so what are you trying to say? Are you intellectually being cheated the emotions of your message or are you making a point that without emotions there's not much to say?

"Without rules, Chaos". A managerial rule by Jim Essian (past manager Chicago Cubs) and I wholeheartedly agree.

Well, just took a break and are back to my guests.

Happy Holidays

BOB

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greered
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Population

When in history has the world population been in decline, with the possible exception of World War?

greered's picture
greered
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Population

When in history has the world population been in decline, with the possible exception of World War?

Mike K's picture
Mike K
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The real problem...

Hi ao, thanks for your welcome and response to my post. Merry Xmas as well!

Actually, I totally concur with your position that human behaviour is the problem. We have evolved to be the species we are today and thus most of our instincts and evolutionary traits are actually taylored more for tribal and simple lifestyles which all humans lived for 99% of our species existence (a guess not 100% accurate %) with civilisation being a relatively recent occurrence (esp in evolutionary terms). The thing about evolution is that those traits or habits developed by it are specifically for a specific environment and time. So with change in an environment which occurs over time, a population adjust slowly via evolution to changes. My thought is that short term thinking to medium term thinking is what we have evolved to be best at. Also local thinking rather than global. "Global" is a very recent possibility for us to deal with. As such, we are just not evolved for longer term and wholistic thinking (well some of us might be but not enough).

I suppose I will probably need to find out the hard way what can or cannot be discussed in these forums? I have been frequenting this website for years however have only recently joined as a member and decided to partake in discussions. I really think Chris' crash course is one of the best most concise messages out there to enable people to get from "what?" to "whoa!" and have some understanding of the predicament we face as a species (and a planet).

RJE's picture
RJE
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I think Man is such a wonderful creature and at his core...

...is a soulful and beautiful spirit. Today, I just want to rejoice in Brotherhood and Family and Love. Here's a smidgen of what I am talking about. One real quick question though: Do we really know the future of Man and our species or is everything truly just a guess, and could we possibly be over stating or imagining a conclusion that is less rather than more, with less?

I am of the mind that the future is history in the making so if this is the truth then why conclude it ends badly? Being responsible for ones irresponsibility's just seems moral to me, and how can you ever argue the truth with yourself? Personally, I don't have the same fight and will of conviction if I know I am wrong, I just don't. If I am wrong then I expect to pay for this, and until the future is written I can most certainly believe that the wrongs can be dealt with still, and a better day is still in front of us. I could be wrong thinking but I'm cool with that.

If you have headphones then shut everything out please and just let Otis take you where you want to go. It sure is nice having a few minutes break from the apocolyps. 

Happy Holidays Folks

BOB

RJE's picture
RJE
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Ryerson delivered for me the problem and had a solution...

...this represents to me a positive outlook as a possibility. Now, I fully understand that if the population issue is left unchecked then in all probabilities we have a mass extinction event as many will just die of starvation but the fact that this subject is understood by those who study this, and that there is a solution tells me that if we choose, that we can change. So again, why take the worst case scenario with jaded and negative conclusions when a solution exists?

It is a logic that can be applied to every single issue we face today except for the possibility that we have done irreparable harm to our environment, and that just might be the case but with regards to the environment I will remain keeping my fingers crossed.

All I can do is continue with Preparations and be more Resilient in the part of this world I understand and know best, and then apply my free time in helping others who see the validity of doing the things I do to prepare for an UNCERTAIN and possibly better future than is sometimes shared here by some with a more doomsday and fatalistic future.

This was a wonderful Podcast as there are recognized problems with many solutions. Cool

Regards

BOB

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SteveW
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Population decline

greered: In the mid-14th century it is estimated that 30-60% of the population of Europe was killed by the Black Death and world population declined. The effect would be much greater in today's globalized world.

Perhaps this is the prototype for what Mike K envisages as a purposely released, rapid and virulent disease. ao considers a human being operating out of pure rationality could be very dangerous indeed, both in their influence and their actions and perhaps sufficiently sociopathic to order such a release.

Although I have no knowledge of what has been tested my background is such that I know it is not difficult to design and genetically engineer novel pathogens. Indeed they could even be racially targeted rather than just human specific. I'm sure there are secret papers both in the West and the East relating to such agents. Biological warfare is clean in the sense that it leaves infrastructure intact.

The Club of Rome predictions have been around for over 40 years and we are still on the path for a population decline this century with a peak sometime within the next 30-40 years, rather than a sigmoidal curve reaching a plateau.

The efficiency of Ryerson's TV propaganda is encouraging, but I fear too little, too late.

RJE's picture
RJE
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I woke this Christmas morning and have submitted to...

...all the people who believe that all the things that can go bad will. My reasoning is it is way too late to change, and life has no meaning, and I/we will soon be dead at least the vast majority. Still, and dummy me, I will just go about my Preparations and Resiliency just in case.

Come on!!! Really?!

I'm sorry Folks but I choose to live with hope than live with the thought that some bio, nuclear or genocidal attack is my immediate future, and that of my son's and grandson's. The pick and choose committee that could be formed would be an interesting cast. Who do we choose? How do we choose? Crazy to even contemplate, and I will let history unfold before I go all in with this incredibly insane idea that we are all sheeple to the powers that be.

Letely we have debated mental illness and what we should do. I say we analyze the gifted and sane to see if we aren't wrongful thinking. Maybe it's the crazies that are correct, and we are the greater menace (I can hear some of you now thinking that I'm definately wacked! I agree but I feel the same towards some of you, sometimes).

I know all the arguments by now so save it, I don't care how or why people feel the way the do. I WILL just believe as I do. Adjust as I go, do what I must, and just become of gatherer of food and water for the next year as this year is covered.

I wonder if when explaining to someone our worlds trials and tribulations, and you mentioning some of the conclusions made here at PP is why their eyes go all walleyed, and the need to flee is paramount. I get this all to well. However, I get even more the need for Preparations and Resilientcy because it makes PERFECT sense. Besides, it is the easier sell, still tough but easier. Planting a garden and sharing my garden with others has done more to change things than talking about it. Now, many have gardens in our neighborhood and we share and coordinate so we can share. It really is that cool and a source of so many conversations while just sitting and listening to a ball game. 

I know I want away from this speak sometimes, and I know that what you say is a possibility but again, I am hopeful, and somewhat tolerant of the worst case scenario speak here sometimes but in Denial I am not. If we have solutions then I can be hopeful. History hasn't been written yet after all and until I rest the eternal rest then I want to fight the good fight.

I just don't want to get my ass out in the yard to dig a shelter to get away from all of the possibilities known here at PP. If I have to live like a Rat then I don't want to.

Have I ever mentioned why I hate Rats? Well I slid off my garage, a steep pitch to the roof, and landed in a garbage (insert your belly laugh) can with a Rat in it when I was 10 or so. Honestly, thinking back, I know that Rat wanted out of that can as quick as I did. Thankfully there was a hole in the bottom of that can because it had rusted through. It had a profound effect on my entire life and the sound of that Rat hissing is still with me 48 years later. I survived though!!! Nothing in this world could be worse than spending what seemed like an eternity with a hissing Rat. Trust me.

Folks, every imagined thing of horrific terror is out there for our contemplation, and yes they are all valid arguments but to say to those who choose hope doesn't mean they are in Denial. We choose a better and more sustained society with the complete understanding that by natural selection we go for the greater good. It's more romantic this way are my beliefs. Besides, every day is a gift, and I intend to live each and every one of them trying to sway just one opinion that may just set in motion a new set of ideas that leads to complete acceptance to a one for all and all for one narrative, and we STOP with the "suppose this and suppose that", and actually START!!! doing something.

Idol minds due to inactivity does crazy things to people. We need projects and hard work, a national goal so that we start on some of these issues. Otherwise every doomsayer will have their day, and they will absolutely be a buzz kill. Guaranteed.

First I want a reset so we get rid of the things hanging over our heads like Debt and subsidized businesses that would die on the vine if left to the public to decide whether they live or die as a business. Then, everything done will be from a clean slate. That's if the world hasn't ended because some plane gets clipped from debris that was sent airborne because some adult who just had to have a smoke blew up a gas tank outside of work because he just had to have a cigarette. The tank blew as dummy him he forgot he worked at a Natural Gas plant and then the injured plane, coughing its way back to the airport veers out of control and lands smack dab into a top secret chemical plant that in the back of the lab was working on some Top Secret bio weapon and the impact caused a vial to smash into the sink and release a pathogen down the drain and into our water system. It then multiplied, filled the hulls of other foreign ships and was spread completely around the world. This pathogen is a deadly airborne and drinking beast. All the crew members are long dead but the ship is guided by GPS so arrives in its home port with its deadly cargo anyways.

Well, we all know where this is going but someone will write that the way to beat back this beast is a strategic Nuclear strike, and well the arguments begin as to the cost and feasibility and yada yada yah!

Where the hell is Arthur, I want to either sail today or get the f..k off this planet. ARTHUR!!! Take me away....Please! That or please write about String Theory, Parallel Universe, Super Nova's, anything....PLEASE!!!!

We have had one of the best Christmases that I can recall in memory, and every one of my past Christmases have been terrific. Sorry but true. 

Merry Christmas

BOB

RJE's picture
RJE
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Solutions!?...or Doomsday?

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/frontlinethoughts/looking-on-the-bright-side-proof

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/opinion/stabilization-wont-save-us.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/08/opinion/end-bonuses-for-bankers.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-ford-salary-increase-2012-8

My God, so many very bright people who have solutions to our problem.

Every week the Professor gives us well meaning and intelligent insights from Gregor, Smith, Keen, and so many very bright folks. Hussman is a delight for his analysis. http://www.hussmanfunds.com/weeklyMarketComment.html

Mish gives us brilliant insights and has his own Blog http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/ where he goes really in depth. I have one issue with Mish though ,and that is he seems to want Unions abolished, and I don't agree. I think that Unions need to be more vocal, and in your face towards management and Government, and alter their current message a bit to one that is workers rights and wages than their bureaucracies now tell. I think that more people would join Unions if they really felt all inclusive. The fee's could be borne by management if they played their cards right but if not, no be deal. Just make the worker relevant, and punish the company severely if he threatened and then took his business off-shore. That a business who is licensed in the U.S. and off shores his labor then sells back here to the United States, and doesn't pay taxes would just not happen in my world. I say Bye Bye and banned from selling here. What would they do? Sell to Europe, Japan, China,, are they going to buy this stuff? I don't think so because their all messed up and China, their consumers have really stepped up and delighted the world with Demand. Yeah right!

Lets look at China real quick. If we had a trade war with China what would that really matter. China consumes no end product. Their consumers buy jack shit so really, they would be shooting themselves in the foot. I say, recall all intellectual property back to the United States and have a re-think on foreign trade.

I would like an energy "PLAN" and would love if the truckers and Union workers everywhere would just strike commerce for a few hours one day during rush hour to get the attention of the Congress, you know, the fools that are suppose to be "PLANNING" our futures together, and on our behalf. Get allot of things done with threats after actually doing something to get the attention of the Elite, Rich, and all sorts of greedy bastards.

Hey, I'm reminded about the Elites of the South back in the day. They were all knowing, arrogant bastards too, and they wanted the Blacks to sit in the back of the bus. Blacks said, "no way ho say". We'll just not take the bus, or spend in the white community, clean their houses, pick up the garbage now rotting at the curb, and wallah, those SOB's caved. They will today if we ever get out sh.t together and peacefully protest. It's a cinch, these pansy's will fold, no question about that. Guarantee it Folks.

OK, you Folks worked yesterday as I partied, and I work today as I just love this stuff.

Remember, we do have problems, and we do have solutions to most all of our problems. except energy, and this could really be bridged if we would just "Plan" and "use it all" strategy, and not just rely on one, Oil. Me, give me a commercial sized battery storage system, and get the hell out of the way. One more thing, I really would abolish the FED, I would. Their track record sucks quite frankly.

Folks, I am anchoring for a FIGHT, I can't wait to get up off my ass (after choirs and tending my Lady's needs), and protest. Just go to City Hall and get it on with a bunch of chubby older Men and Women and scream "Enough is Enough". The smell of Ben Gay in the air, 4 ibuprofen taken a couple of hours ago, maybe cop a contact buzz as some remember back in the day, and went and stole their kids stash (all adults over the age of 55 know where their kids stash is hidden as some things never change, our kids are stupid, that or the neighborhood cash crop salesman still exist aplenty) as they readied to protest, and have a grand ole time.

Note: This last paragraph was for my amusement only, and I smiled with every word written. It just isn't true....sort of. Children of which you all are should NOT read such untruths! wink

Lastly, last year Chris wrote me wishing me a Merry Christmas and I figured then what a nice and classy touch from a Man that gets so much love from all us good Folks. We are the reason for the season after all. I hope he still maintains that STRONG value structure. It is always good to hear nice words. Just sayin' Professor.

Merry Christmas Chris...see easy, and so well meaninged. Then again, perhaps I was left off the list and you all were contacted. OMG, I was left off the list! Bummer.

Have a Great Day Folks

BOB 

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gillbilly
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Complex and Difficult.

This is a tough one. I find having a conversation about population difficult not because of wanting to be liked, but rather whatever opinions I have on the subject seem hypocritical...me being a white male living in the U.S., the land of overconsumption. My wife and I had only one child for many different reasons, not overpopulating the planet being one of them, but there were many more (being older, economic reasons, health reasons, spirtiual reasons, etc).  Economics/resource depletion and species preservation may seem like the obvious and logical choice in regard to this issue, but again, I would feel hypocritical trying to tell someone from an underveloped country who holds strong religious beliefs on the other side to take one for the team because of the scientific (Western) data. We didn't all participate and contribute to the global EEE predicament equally, and other posters have pointed out human behavior/actions are a big factor. Some of these countries still have many children because of high children mortality rates. When an underveloped society/nation is faced with the prospect of "developing," the immediate benefits almost always prevail, while the long-term costs are usually ignored. The U.S./Western world championed this narrative and behavior. This is much more than an economic/resource issue and gets into the realm of moral ethics, sociology, and spirituality to name a few, another reason why I keep coming back to the idea of having people that have dedicated themselves to these liberal arts areas sitting at the decision table. I give you credit for conducting the interview and Ryerson gives a lot of good information, but I personally would still have difficulty entering into a global conversation assuming that my Western perspective should take precedence ...just my two cents.

Happy Holidays!

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Mike K
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Speculation...

BOB,

Whilst I can agree that the future is uncertain. There are a few glaring issues that are pretty obvious if you look into them and yes whilst there may be potential solutions there is also a history of short term thinking and decision making over long term. These issues are what lead me to the conclusion that I have come to, that the choice to do anything toward a solution will not be made instead promises to the masses will be made that we can return to the good old days if (insert lie) and that even if changes were instigated at this late hour I really cant see it turning us around in time. Like I have said previously, I have been accused by many of being pessimistic however I believe I am being realistic with the information I have at hand.

I am quite an optimistic person actually. The life I lead in preparing for the problems ahead is pretty close to the life I would enjoy leading anyway. I like space, small communities, organic home grown foods, permaculture principles, being independent from the "system" with water, electricity. I am very lucky to be at my age and to be able to afford these type of preps. That said, I have used my knowledge of what is coming to plan ahead. I 1st learned of Peak Oil back in 2006 and have made some pretty big changes to my life and investment strategies since. One thing that I have realised is that knowledge is not power unless the knowledge is acted upon. So knowing doesnt provide too much preparation (psycologically it would) but the physical preparation takes action based on the knowledge.

If you want to feel better about things I recommend that you watch the DVD The Power Of Community - The Cuban Solution. This DVD explains what happened in Cuba when the USSR collapsed and Cuba went without oil and had to switch their agriculture from State owned chemical orientated super farms into small plots of permaculture (thanks to some Aussie permies who visited to teach them) and how much healthier the people became and how much their communities improved as they learned to trade surpluses etc. It is a true and uplifting story that should be seen by any "doomer" that wants to see how things might not have to get so ugly.

Merry Xmas to all those on the other side of the planet. Here in Aus we are now in recovery mode :).

Mike K

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RJE
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Mike K...thank you for the engagement here...

...and please understand I have no confusion with regards to this or many issues. I basically believe that to just give up, and to be negative with no hope is already a self fulfilling prophesy.

Mike if I were asked what I thought based on my research I would guess a mass extinction event will occur in our lifetime, and there really is no sense in you or I doing anything to survive as we are just plain delusional, we will be one of the unlucky ones. I would imagine you would recoil, maybe even think it over the top for even thinking this way. That's how I feel especially when there are solutions if we make the right decisions. By being positive, and tending to my Preparations and Resiliency I at least give myself half a chance. That's the hope I hang to.

Right on que Charles says what I would like to say:

http://www.oftwominds.com/blog.html

Yogism: "It ain't over until it's over, and " when you reach the fork in the road take it". I'm hopeful we take the right one is all.

Be Good Mike

Happy Holidays

BOB

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John Lemieux
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We Have A Brick Wall At Our Backs

I used to believe that overpopulation was a key problem for humanity. But with the reality of our environmental/climate situation, the issue of overpopulation has come to seem inconsequential to me.

Suppose that somehow we did manage to convince developing nations to curb their population growth. And that we were then able to stabilize, and then begin reducing population growth by 2030. Then 2040 comes along and a quarter of food crops fail around the world from floods and droughts, and glacier fed fresh water supplies dry up. Will it matter whether we have 7.5 billion or 8.5 billion people on the planet when that happens?

It seems to me that we have a brick wall at our backs, our hands are tied and the blindfold is going over our eyes. Is now really the time to worry whether our last cigarette might give us lung cancer? 

Seems to me that it's time to prepare for our last meal: a hearty crude-and coaldust gruel.   J.

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Population Is THE Key Problem

Mike K - I am substantially in agreement with your comments.

Maybe add one more bullet point

-  the seeming purposeful and relentless distraction of the masses with what appears to be an organized plan to create "us" & "them" within our society.

The well financed hate machines are working overtime to divide us between left & right, liberal & conservative, pro this & anti that with few rational conversations about what is really the best way for us to proceed. It makes no difference whether we are Republicans, Democrats or Independents as there are answers to be found in all segments of the political spectrum but we will not reach consensus needed for a real solution until some measure of open mindedness and rational thought enters our national/global discussion. And that is not likley to happen as long as the well financed propaganda machines are running unchecked.

Seems to me that as a whole we are being artfully steered to focus on the issues that don't really matter while at the same time completely ignoring the underlying problems. Focus on the "Fiscal Cliff' is nothing more than keeping everyone's attention on a symtom of the underlying virus that is making our economy sick. We are heading full tilt towards collapse of the fractional reserve banking system as well as Capitalism as we are currenlty practising it becuase of dependence on growth thar can't be maintained.

For a start I think we need to get out of the path of mainstream media - scap the TV etc

A well thought out hard headed overhaul is needed - much of which is beginning to S-L-O-W-L-Y beginning to take form

Jim

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LesPhelps
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Thanks for bringing up the taboo topic

Thanks PeakProsperity for bringing up the taboo topic.  I've been asking for decades, why no one talks about the population issue.

The podcast talks about baby subsidies in Germany and Austraila but doesn't mention the children subsidies in the US.  Having property tax supported schools systems is one of several forms of multiple children subsidies.  You pay the same for school whenter you have zero children or ten.  Health insurance is another.  You have for yourself plus wife plus children, but the children rate is not based on number of children.

ao, saying that population is not the problem is definitely an opinion, not a fact.  The ecological footprint is made up of population and lifestyle.  Some people, myself included, might prefer to live on a planet with perhaps 5 billion people or less where everyone could enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without undue strain on planetary resources.  Just because it might be possible to eke by with 10 billion people on the planet, doesn't mean that is what should be done, or that it reflects how most people would prefer to exist.

I would expect the argument you made from someone who had 4 or 5 kids.

I chose to have only 2 kids for a very specific reason.  I have believed that exponential population growth was a critical, unaddressed problem since the mid 70s.

For me, having more than 2 children today cannot be distinguished from consumption greed.

You buy a Hummer and people chastise you, but if you have 5 kids, no one says anything.

2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16

4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256

It's simple math.

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SteveW
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Population reduction

Well, I enjoyed yesterday with my family, cooking turkey and having a generally good time.

After I'd made my post I realised that it seemed unduly negative but I must say that I do suspect that what I said may lie in our future. However there are several possible futures and in keeping with the positive outlook of this site we are indeed able to choose our future, both personally and on a global scale through our leaders. I have pointed out previously (in earlier threads here, I believe) that a dramatic decrease in population can be achieved with only modest changes to families. As a grandparent I have 3 grandchildren which is, I believe, about equivalent to me having 1.75 children or a fertility rate of 0.875. A global fertility rate of 0.875 would reduce world population by around 42% a century (ignoring population statification), which may just about be sufficient to get us through the tough times ahead.

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RJE
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Jim, I totally agree with your posting...

...and with regards to the population, for some sick reason I would like the population reduced by natural selection instead of mass extinction by way of Man. It is why I like to avoid the subject. With regards to the economy, I want it crashed and reborn. I don't care how, I just want the consumer to pick and choose the winners by natural selection too.

Regards

BOB

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RJE
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SteveW, that's what I'm talking about...Solutions and not...

...the conspiratorial bullshit going down every other thread. Man, these threads keep popping up and I may have to renew my subscription as I like very much HOPE and not this crazy give up attitude and living in Rat holes script from some here.

Thank You Gramps (I have two myself so no hit on the population growth math. Cool)

BOB

ao's picture
ao
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Posts: 2220
it's your opinion it's opinion

LesPhelps wrote:

Thanks PeakProsperity for bringing up the taboo topic.  I've been asking for decades, why no one talks about the population issue.

The podcast talks about baby subsidies in Germany and Austraila but doesn't mention the children subsidies in the US.  Having property tax supported schools systems is one of several forms of multiple children subsidies.  You pay the same for school whenter you have zero children or ten.  Health insurance is another.  You have for yourself plus wife plus children, but the children rate is not based on number of children.

ao, saying that population is not the problem is definitely an opinion, not a fact.  The ecological footprint is made up of population and lifestyle.  Some people, myself included, might prefer to live on a planet with perhaps 5 billion people or less where everyone could enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without undue strain on planetary resources.  Just because it might be possible to eke by with 10 billion people on the planet, doesn't mean that is what should be done, or that it reflects how most people would prefer to exist.

I would expect the argument you made from someone who had 4 or 5 kids.

I chose to have only 2 kids for a very specific reason.  I have believed that exponential population growth was a critical, unaddressed problem since the mid 70s.

For me, having more than 2 children today cannot be distinguished from consumption greed.

You buy a Hummer and people chastise you, but if you have 5 kids, no one says anything.

2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16

4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256

It's simple math.

OK, let's do a little paradoxical thinking.  Let's assume that the entire population suddenly became savvy enough to realize they should reduce their scale of reproduction.  World population dropped down to half a billion, a number which is commonly bandied about as being in line with the carrying capacity of the planet (with no substantiation or hard evidence that I'm aware of).  Let's also assume that the world maintains itself at this population, voluntarily, over the long term, indefinitely.  Let's also assume that this (partially) enlightened population wisely utilizes and conserves energy.  Let's also assume that they also completely restore and replenish the environment.  Let's also assume that they implement an economic system that has none of the faults of our present infinite growth, debt based system.  So you've taken care of the 3Es. 
 
Have you changed human behavior?  No.  Will you still have wars.  Yes.  Crime.  Yes.  Poverty.  Yes.  Hunger.  Yes.  Avoidable disease and health issues.  Yes.  Etc. 
 
Just like you did in the eons prior to higher population levels ... because you haven't addressed fundamental aspects of human behavior.
 
Overpopulation is a symptom.  It's not the problem.  It's the result of the problem.  Individuals who are ethical, moral, informed, intelligent, unselfish, thoughtful, and wise will, out of consideration for themselves, others, their future generations, other living things, and their planet, generally control their reproduction and population.  Those who don't possess those virtues in aggregate generally will not.
 
 
That being said, making a statement like "having more than 2 children today cannot be distinguished from consumption greed" is akin to someone making a statement like "impaling poor, defenseless, innocent fish with sharp metal hooks in their mouth is an act of cruel barbarism for one's own selfish pleasure" (reference your fishing pic).  I think it's a grossly unfair accusation of certain individuals in circumstances you may not have considered.     
ao's picture
ao
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not for me

RJE wrote:

...and with regards to the population, for some sick reason I would like the population reduced by natural selection instead of mass extinction by way of Man. It is why I like to avoid the subject. With regards to the economy, I want it crashed and reborn. I don't care how, I just want the consumer to pick and choose the winners by natural selection too.

Regards

BOB

Bob,

I don't think you understand "natural selection".  Natural selection would imply that someone stronger, faster, better armed, and smarter than you could take everything you had, kill you, and reproduce with your females.  Survival of the fittest ... kill or be killed.  Do you really want that?

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ao
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bad example

RJE wrote:

...so what are you trying to say? Are you intellectually being cheated the emotions of your message or are you making a point that without emotions there's not much to say?

"Without rules, Chaos". A managerial rule by Jim Essian (past manager Chicago Cubs) and I wholeheartedly agree.

Well, just took a break and are back to my guests.

Happy Holidays

BOB

bob,

The answer is (c) none of the above.  Asking me a question like that is like me asking you when you stopped cheating on your wife.;-) 

Actually, chaos has organization.  In fact, some would say existence came out of chaos.  But more important than rules is self control, self discipline, and self responsibility and not being reactive and impulsive.  The answer largely lies in balance.  The societies with the most rules have tended to be the most repressive and stifled creativity and innovation.

P.S.  If I'm correct, Jim Essian only lasted for 1 year and had a losing record so I don't think he's the go-to guy for advice.   

Happy Kwanzaa

"The future belongs to those who prepare for it today"  Malcolm X

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RJE
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Posts: 1369
ao, I love you Brother, funny...

ao, regarding my (actual) Brother Jim, you miss the point, as usual (the negative spin instead of seeing the positive). 

Jim made it and managed the Cubs!!! That's so cool, it really is. How many have managed the storied Cubs?!

He also had a very distinguished career as a catcher, that is if you value how hard it is to even get to the BIG's, and then stay as long as he did. Man, I hung with all the greats of the day. many are friends, and I golf with them and we laugh, and have a grand ole time. I met and had a drink with Billy Martin for gosh sakes. That is really, really cool. It just is. Jim was his catcher in Oakland.

Jim was one of those gifted athletes, All State- All American in football, basketball and baseball. He was better in hockey, and he can swing the clubs as well as anyone. I know. Plus he could box (he was and is still a Bad Man), and I can attest to that too. I have been on the other end of some nice combinations. He was too, and Pops was better than all of us. I used to run to the store for he and his boys like the Great Ralph Sampson and Spencer Haywood, and Will Robinson wanted Jim to play for him at Pershing.

Man, what I'm sharing here is just not to be believed!!! I'm digging just remembering my back in the days.

All the Greats in coaching, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, Duffy Doherty, just everyone, sat in my living room as they recruited him. Man, that was some cool shit. He signed a letter of intent with Bo and was allowed to play baseball too. However, the Phillie's threw down some serious coin to get him to play for them. That was a no brainer. 

Anyways, if you knew he was my Brother, and said what you did then no problem. I used to umpire and was rated tops in the State of Michigan. Rabbit ears I do not have. Perhaps this might explain my attitude, you play 27 hard, and if the other guys get you then you tip your hat. Then come out tomorrow ready to go 27 more. If you don't know baseball that means 27 outs. 

Hell ao, our family has put quite a few ball players in the minors, and they almost made it, they played in the Greek Olympic games!!! AO, my nephews walk out into the stadium where Hercules competed!!! That is really a goose bump filled out of body experience when you watch you nephews walk out for the Olympic games in GREECE!!! My niece qualified for the Armenian Olympic team in track, college scholarships for so many in baseball. It's the family trade you might say, and a way to scholarship, and a good education.

Quit is just not an option, it's the DNA.

Like I said ao, you're a stitch, think you have the answers, and your predictive powers concerning our future has always amazed me when this future hasn't been written. Hey, I like you ao but honestly, lighten up already or at least consider the glass half full sometimes instead of half empty.

ao, Jim managed the Cubs! One year, one week, one day, he managed the Cubs. That's some seriously cool shit, it really is. Plus he got paid a two year contract for some serious coin as a bonus!!!! Get out of Dodge. He would have done it for free or we would have kicked his arrrssss.

Respectfully Given

Bob Essian

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RJE
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ao....or it could mean...

...I die naturally, and quietly, with my wife at my side and my possessions gifted to my son's and grandson's and my wife hasn't been raped, beat upon, killed, but allowed also to live out her days in relative peace hopefully still loving the Man I was to her. This is the "natural selection" I visualize. 

You like this too, right? I mean it is natural to think this is "natural selection" too, right? Seeeeee? Just your frame of mind.

But yes, if I was in danger then I would need to posses some skill in protecting myself, like a Rottweiler, 45cal and pump action shot gun. Fact is I am expert at fire arms, and my Rottweiler is expert at being a Big Dog. My wife, she has been trained to have my back, and she does.

Good Luck ao

BOB

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RNcarl
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Nonsense

Well,

I have been chewing on this topic for a few days. I was half way through a response when I got a call and had to go to work... Glad I got the call, after I looked at my pending response, it was rubbish.

To be clear, I understand that my following response is my opinion, not unlike most, if not all of the responses here and I am sorry to say, Chris' guest. The difference in the guest's opinion is that it is wrapped up nicely in "scientific" data. (that's all the further I will go with that)

Solution, cause, effect. Why, why not. Will, will-not. Each observation here is just that, an observation. Assigning causation to the correlation is plain hogwash.

The population has grown because it can. The speed at which it has grown has varied around the circumstances surrounding the use of energy.

According to well held physics theory, matter can neither be created or destroyed. It can only change form. So, within that concept, the planet can neither expand or contract. (except maybe for those few thousand pounds of matter we have shot into outer-space.) The planet does absorb energy from the sun - pick your favorite way. That energy has been stored and then released many times. Depending on how it was stored, we may only be able to release it once for our use.

Population does not "add" to the mass of the planet. Nor does it "contract" the mass if population goes down. Population only changes the form of the matter here on this spaceship. The only addition or subtraction is the energy stored or released.

On a truly "global" scale, humans and I dare say all life as we know it now, has only been around for a blink of the evolutionary eye. If we look at the planet, I mean really look at the planet at the planetary scale, she is a living organism that will survive with-or-without us.

Yes, biological systems do spin out of control when they are knocked out of balance; at the biological level, not the planetary level. As humans our frame of reference can only be so big. Humans do see the universe revolving around them. We think that if we control population of our species, we can somehow control the planet.

All that we can control is that which is within our grasp as humans. We assign deities to explain the things which we cannot. We construct religions to control - each other. (note the little "r" here not the big "R")

It took a long time for me to get to this - population will control itself. There will come a point where matter will not be able to be changed into a usable form (food) fast enough to increase or sustain the change of other matter into humans. Some have defined that as carrying capacity.

Are we there yet? I don't know, and here's a clue - neither do the "experts." We sit like little children in the back seat of the family sedan speeding down the highway to get to a vacation spot asking every few minutes, "Are we there yet?" like it is some kind of destination we are trying to reach.

How selfish to talk about population "control." Control is the operative word. The concept is some humans trying to control other humans. Who get to pick and choose?

~ Peace

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RJE
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Posts: 1369
Yep...

...so much of what we discuss has an immanence to it when nothing really can be done (population wise). It has to be done at the personal level or we pick and choose. Many a girls get thrown in the trash heap ( literally ) in China, with their one child policy, and I just recoil at the thought. However, I pass no judgement as each individual decision is left for the Woman are my thoughts. I will just quietly grieve is all.

I understand that not all Woman are respected in this manner but it's my thread and I will.

I also would have a different response if watching our babies getting blown away in some country like Iran over Oil. 

As far as the planetary spectrum then nothing has changed. We are still made of star dust, and we are a contained ecosystem, and you are right, the weight of the world hasn't changed one tiny bit.

I believe this though, if out of balance then Mother Nature through "natural selection" will correct this, and this could just be a very nice and peaceful re-balancing. It doesn't necessarily have to be by the hand of Man, and be violent.

I chose two children, my son chose two children, and you may choose 5 children. It's a choice, a blessing if you can have children, and risk is assigned to all of us to make sure these little beasts live. It is quite the task to raise solid citizens, and few do it so well.

Regards

BOB

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Grover
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Not far enough

ao wrote:
OK, let's do a little paradoxical thinking.  Let's assume that the entire population suddenly became savvy enough to realize they should reduce their scale of reproduction.  World population dropped down to half a billion, a number which is commonly bandied about as being in line with the carrying capacity of the planet (with no substantiation or hard evidence that I'm aware of).  Let's also assume that the world maintains itself at this population, voluntarily, over the long term, indefinitely.  Let's also assume that this (partially) enlightened population wisely utilizes and conserves energy.  Let's also assume that they also completely restore and replenish the environment.  Let's also assume that they implement an economic system that has none of the faults of our present infinite growth, debt based system.  So you've taken care of the 3Es. 
 
Have you changed human behavior?  No.  Will you still have wars.  Yes.  Crime.  Yes.  Poverty.  Yes.  Hunger.  Yes.  Avoidable disease and health issues.  Yes.  Etc. 
 
Just like you did in the eons prior to higher population levels ... because you haven't addressed fundamental aspects of human behavior.
 
Overpopulation is a symptom.  It's not the problem.  It's the result of the problem.  Individuals who are ethical, moral, informed, intelligent, unselfish, thoughtful, and wise will, out of consideration for themselves, others, their future generations, other living things, and their planet, generally control their reproduction and population.  Those who don't possess those virtues in aggregate generally will not.
 
That being said, making a statement like "having more than 2 children today cannot be distinguished from consumption greed" is akin to someone making a statement like "impaling poor, defenseless, innocent fish with sharp metal hooks in their mouth is an act of cruel barbarism for one's own selfish pleasure" (reference your fishing pic).  I think it's a grossly unfair accusation of certain individuals in circumstances you may not have considered.

ao,

I don't think you carried your example far enough. If you took the human population to zero, all the problems you listed would go to zero as well. The earth's ecosystem would then likely respond favorably, but what difference would it make to us? No human would be there to enjoy it.

When most people think about overpopulation and its control, they rarely point the finger at themselves. To paraphrase Rncarl, abundance of resources causes a natural response of adding offspring. As soon as the abundance disappears, populations will respond accordingly. BOB will get his wish for a Darwinian response. I'm not looking forward with great anticipation.

I liked the sentence in your statement that I bolded. Thankyou.

Grover

 
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Grover, I love it when others such as yourself...

...speak my mind. First I wish no bad on anyone, and that should come across loud and clear to everyone. Unless they have biases that restrict them from reading what is written.

You said:

"As soon as the abundance disappears, populations will respond accordingly. BOB will get his wish for a Darwinian response."

First, I have no wishes at all. Zero wishes as it relates to your comment.

Of course this will be the response, and has been since the dawn of this planet. I agree with this romantic symphony as it just is the cycle of life my Brother.

A little hint of something I know for a fact: When your time is up, it is up, and most likely you will live to old age. That would please me for sure. Darwinian wish? It don't seem so bad to me.

Respectfully Given

BOB

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RJE wrote: ao, regarding my

RJE wrote:

ao, regarding my (actual) Brother Jim, you miss the point, as usual (the negative spin instead of seeing the positive). 

Jim made it and managed the Cubs!!! That's so cool, it really is. How many have managed the storied Cubs?!

He also had a very distinguished career as a catcher, that is if you value how hard it is to even get to the BIG's, and then stay as long as he did. Man, I hung with all the greats of the day. many are friends, and I golf with them and we laugh, and have a grand ole time. I met and had a drink with Billy Martin for gosh sakes. That is really, really cool. It just is. Jim was his catcher in Oakland.

Jim was one of those gifted athletes, All State- All American in football, basketball and baseball. He was better in hockey, and he can swing the clubs as well as anyone. I know. Plus he could box (he was and is still a Bad Man), and I can attest to that too. I have been on the other end of some nice combinations. He was too, and Pops was better than all of us. I used to run to the store for he and his boys like the Great Ralph Sampson and Spencer Haywood, and Will Robinson wanted Jim to play for him at Pershing.

Man, what I'm sharing here is just not to be believed!!! I'm digging just remembering my back in the days.

All the Greats in coaching, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, Duffy Doherty, just everyone, sat in my living room as they recruited him. Man, that was some cool shit. He signed a letter of intent with Bo and was allowed to play baseball too. However, the Phillie's threw down some serious coin to get him to play for them. That was a no brainer. 

Anyways, if you knew he was my Brother, and said what you did then no problem. I used to umpire and was rated tops in the State of Michigan. Rabbit ears I do not have. Perhaps this might explain my attitude, you play 27 hard, and if the other guys get you then you tip your hat. Then come out tomorrow ready to go 27 more. If you don't know baseball that means 27 outs. 

Hell ao, our family has put quite a few ball players in the minors, and they almost made it, they played in the Greek Olympic games!!! AO, my nephews walk out into the stadium where Hercules competed!!! That is really a goose bump filled out of body experience when you watch you nephews walk out for the Olympic games in GREECE!!! My niece qualified for the Armenian Olympic team in track, college scholarships for so many in baseball. It's the family trade you might say, and a way to scholarship, and a good education.

Quit is just not an option, it's the DNA.

Like I said ao, you're a stitch, think you have the answers, and your predictive powers concerning our future has always amazed me when this future hasn't been written. Hey, I like you ao but honestly, lighten up already or at least consider the glass half full sometimes instead of half empty.

ao, Jim managed the Cubs! One year, one week, one day, he managed the Cubs. That's some seriously cool shit, it really is. Plus he got paid a two year contract for some serious coin as a bonus!!!! Get out of Dodge. He would have done it for free or we would have kicked his arrrssss.

Respectfully Given

Bob Essian

Bob,

I'm afraid you miss the point, my friend.  You misconstrue my realism for pessimism.   I've never been a pessimist.  I've always been a realist.  And if I perceive a situation as negative, I'll present it as such, in the interest of truth.  You seem to be implying that I'm a quitter.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  I come from a long line of tough, hardy, very intelligent, very adaptable stock. My father was a Marine Corps drill instructor so the word quit is not even in my vocabulary.  I watched him take down two thugs once, both bigger than him, in just a few seconds.  It was an awesome thing to witness.  My godfather (his brother), who was as tough as he was (maybe tougher) and one heck of a ball player, told a Yankee scout who was scouting him to go **** off when he didn't like something the scout said.  Blew his chances for the Yankees but kept his dignity ... he was never an *** kisser.  But so much for baseball, which is just a game after all.  I have one cousin who was a top engineer in the Apollo project and owned two aerospace companies, another who was a top engineer in the Harpoon missile project, a nephew who is a genius having contributed to a best selling book on economic issues as a freshman at MIT and a world champion strategic game player, etc.  In our family, we've always valued and emphasized brains as well as brawn.  And we've always eschewed blarney.  One of the things my father taught me was that people often compensate for lack of knowledge with words.  We were taught to do, not talk about doing.  Another thing he talked about was that in battle, those who had talked the most beforehand about their bravery and what they were going to do to the enemy, often wound up being psychologically devastated by what they encountered and rendered largely non-functional.  And he lived through the hell of the Solomons, Okinawa, and Saipan in WW2 so he knew what he was talking about.  

You've also made subtly slighting statements about "predictive powers concerning our future".  Once again, I think you're a bit confused.  Please understand that there's a big difference between "predictive powers" and analyzing likely future trends via (1) noting the course of present events and (2) noting past historical events and how they fit into the context of the present and future.  Information gathered in that manner is one of the reasons I loaded up my portfolio in PMs back in 2001.  The future isn't as completely unknown and random as you may think.  I can't discuss one source of future events since it's not allowed here.  But from a more scientific perspective, go look up Sentient World Simulation (here's a starter: http://www.krannert.purdue.edu/academics/mis/workshop/AC2_100606.pdf).  Or study up on neurosciences and the direction they are head (here's another starter: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/neuroscientists-can-predict-your-160549.aspx).  Or go look up things like Stargate Project (and what is has metamorphosed into) and see what rabbit hole that leads you down.  Certain given situations, there is a high predictability to future events, much more so than you would imagine.  I wish I could return to your level of naivete, Bob, I really do, but once you go down the rabbit hole, there's no going back. 

You're a good guy Bob but it's important to fully engage one's cerebral cortex before engaging one's stomathognathic apparatus.  Love you Brother.

Happy Kwanzaa

"Stumbling is not falling"  Malcom X

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ao,...like I said...

...you crack me up.

BOB

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pretend vs. real world

RJE wrote:

...I die naturally, and quietly, with my wife at my side and my possessions gifted to my son's and grandson's and my wife hasn't been raped, beat upon, killed, but allowed also to live out her days in relative peace hopefully still loving the Man I was to her. This is the "natural selection" I visualize. 

You like this too, right? I mean it is natural to think this is "natural selection" too, right? Seeeeee? Just your frame of mind.

But yes, if I was in danger then I would need to posses some skill in protecting myself, like a Rottweiler, 45cal and pump action shot gun. Fact is I am expert at fire arms, and my Rottweiler is expert at being a Big Dog. My wife, she has been trained to have my back, and she does.

Good Luck ao

BOB

Bob,

I sincerely hope the scenario you envision is the one that comes to pass (in its due time, of course) but again, it really has little to do with natural selection.  When you change the definition of a term from what it is to what you would have it be, it comes across as a bit disingenuous, kind of like Bill Clinton and his discussion of "is". 

As far as protection, I agree with you about dogs and firearms but personally, I'd rely on the dog more for alarm and deterrence than protection and I'd not have my wife engage (even though she is capable) and I'd also make sure I have well honed unarmed and edged weapons skills.  I'd virtually guarantee you that if I was 5 feet away from you, especially if you were holding a shotgun, I'd have it neutralized before you'd ever get a shot off at me.  A young, hyped up, perp on PCP will move even faster.  At that point, you better have unarmed skills because your wife would be as likely to shoot you as shoot the perp. What happens if you engage a perp at 15 feet and he raises his hands in surrender and turns his back on you?  Are you going to shoot him?  Then he starts apologizing for being a jerk and pleading for your understanding and mercy ... while slowly backing up towards you.  Are you going to shoot him in the back?  What then?  I think far too many people who've never engaged in real fighting have too much confidence in their firearms. 

As far as weapons training, I'm curious as to what qualifies you as an expert.  What branch of the service were you in or were you military trained? 

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westcoastjan
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not sure we should be in a controlling position

All that we can control is that which is within our grasp as humans. We assign deities to explain the things which we cannot. We construct religions to control - each other. (note the little "r" here not the big "R")

Like you RNcarl, I have been mulling over my response to this subject. It is at once both so very personal and so very inflammatory.

You make a solid point saying all we can control is that which is within our grasp as humans. And therein lies the problem that I have. We humans, in trying to exert control, have ventured into areas that we should not have gone, and we have screwed up virtually everything that we have touched. In trying to "manage" things, we have depleted resources, mangled forests and fisheries, devastated the environment, and furthermore, we try to undo the devastation by exerting yet more control, doing dumb things like seeding clouds to cause rainfall. We are incapable of letting the natural course of evolution, and therefore Mother Nature, just happen. We cannot bear to watch people suffer from droughts or starvation or economic malaise. Yet, in our quest to control things, all we do is bugger things up further, ignoring the golden rule of evolution, survival of the fittest.

There are those who say that even discussing population control is off limits, for then we are playing "God". But are we not "playing God" each and every day with our attempts at resource management and lifesaving interventions? To play the devil's advocate, what if things like cancer, HIV/aids, tuberculosis, heart disease, starvation, and all of the other myriad diseases/issues that we spend untold billions of dollars (that we don't have...) trying to cure, are merely Mother Natures way of culling the population to keep it at sustainable levels? Ditto for droughts and floods and other natural events. If a fishing society is starving because it has recklessly over-fished to the point of depletion, and if that society cannot evolve from its ways, should we keep sending them truckloads of fish to help them survive? Or do we let natural selection happen, and allow that society to perish?

We as a species are seemingly incapable of truly embracing a "laissez faire" mindset in any aspect of life, in spite of what we tell ourselves. We have our fingers in pretty much every pie. We have a hard time dealing with the realities of life and nature and how very cruel life and nature can be when it comes to survival of the fittest.

I guess the what I am trying to say is: by our constant interventions are we not artificially defying the natural selection process? Is that not just one more example of how humans have an inclination to kick the can down the road in order to delay dealing with the real issues that face them?

Jan

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In Praise of (Many) Children

The root of the issues here is lifestyle choices. Ryerson seems to admit this about himself in the first quote (I read it that he wants to be one of the people with the "decent quality of life" able to "live comfortably"), and he admits it about society in general in the second quote from the end of the interview:

If we are going to have some number of people living a decent quality of life with incomes that allow them to live comfortably, the only way we can achieve that is getting to replacement level – and ultimately, because we have overshot the long-term carrying capacity of the planet, below-replacement-level – fertility, so that we go into a slight decline in numbers until we are at a level that can be sustained indefinitely.

In some ways, I am working in this field because I do see this as a solvable problem. I think the issue of reducing our per capita consumption is a more difficult challenge. It also needs communications to change norms with regard to lifestyles that could be considered over the top. So the excessive consumption is reduced, but it is, I think, a bigger challenge, because people seem to have an endless appetite for increasing their lifestyle.

If I may borrow and modify a line from AO (#25), individuals who are ethical, moral, informed, intelligent, unselfish, thoughtful, and wise will, out of consideration for themselves, others, their future generations, other living things, and their planet, generally control their CONSUMPTION THROUGH LIFESTYLE.

My family size is way ABOVE average. My family's consumption (on probably most metrics) is way BELOW average. No offense, but I'll keep the kids and maintain my slightly less-comfortable (farmers actually have to do some physical labor, after all) but resource wary life.

If the rest of you want to procreate less so that you can consume more, that is certainly your option.

I'll let the rest of the forum decide who is more selfish.

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ao...

...again, you're killing me here (not literally as I am smiling). Now, you have everything figured out for me, you have all scenario's figured out in my own home. You even have the intruder in my home on PCP, my dog neutralized, and have disarmed me as you stand just 5 feet from me.

Give it a rest ao.

I'm so sorry if you felt it necessary to even contemplate how I do my business.

Hey, is the intruder tall, what cloths is he or she wearing, and the size of their shoes? How many intruders do I have? So much more color could have been added.

You even found it necessary to look up my Brothers career stats so you could make just one more negative point. Maybe too thorough considering the text of my thread. Are you OK?

ao, I understand we have to get in touch with our internals but to worry about a complete stranger (Me), his home, his dog, his wife is rather over reaching, YES? Bazaar? 

Not to mention having described the intruder as a total and complete freak of nature on PCP is Hollywoodish thinking in my opinion. The word intruder is enough for me. I figure bad intentions.

Bottom line, this is a subject about " population control "and all I said was, and it is only a guess, is that nature, that means Mother Earth or some spiritual force will have more to do with my demise than anything else. I expect to live a long and beautiful life no matter what comes. It is what it is, and I intend to fight the good fight. I DO NOT care at all when my time is up for it is up. It really is so simple for me, I do my part and I can live or die well pleased no matter the circumstance. 

ao, you may have the last word here if you like. I will stop now. Be good.

BOB

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you've got it

efarmer.ny wrote:

If I may borrow and modify a line from AO (#25), individuals who are ethical, moral, informed, intelligent, unselfish, thoughtful, and wise will, out of consideration for themselves, others, their future generations, other living things, and their planet, generally control their CONSUMPTION THROUGH LIFESTYLE.

I think you've more accurately stated what I was trying to convey than I did.  Thank you for that revision. 

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please do

RJE wrote:

Give it a rest ao.

Bob,

You crack me up.  I go from Brother to complete stranger, lol.  Tell you what.  If you dispense with the impromptu genealogies and various and sundry forms of braggadocio (including the oft repeated defense version), so will I.  

Happy Kwanzaa

"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it"  Malcom X

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Your post does not seem to consider a third option

efarmer.ny wrote:

If I may borrow and modify a line from AO (#25), individuals who are ethical, moral, informed, intelligent, unselfish, thoughtful, and wise will, out of consideration for themselves, others, their future generations, other living things, and their planet, generally control their CONSUMPTION THROUGH LIFESTYLE.

My family size is way ABOVE average. My family's consumption (on probably most metrics) is way BELOW average. No offense, but I'll keep the kids and maintain my slightly less-comfortable (farmers actually have to do some physical labor, after all) but resource wary life.

If the rest of you want to procreate less so that you can consume more, that is certainly your option.

I'll let the rest of the forum decide who is more selfish.

Your post does not seem to consider a third option.......less consumption AND less procreation.

There's no getting around the idea that more procreation means more consumption.

I completely agree w AO's thought, but, more procreation is a lifesyle choice that results in more consumption.

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ao

Perhaps you are getting a bit carried away.

As I said, the ecological footprint idea has two components.  To address one and ignore the other, is simply half measures.

Sorry to hear you don't like fishing.  I no longer hunt and fish rarely for a variety of reasons, but chiefly because we have the animals and fish outnumbered.  

One of the problems with 7 billion people is that there is so little room left for the critters that inhabit our planet.  You may not care about them, but I'd miss having them around.

By the way, the numbers I've heard for a sustainable population are between 2.5 and 5 billion people.  My feeling is that it is perhaps in the middle of that range, but if we screw up the planet, it's carrying capacity will go down for quite a while.

I've learned that there are people on this planet with ideas that are so divergent from mine that there is no point in carrying on a discussion.  It would appear you fit that category.

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the tribute vice pays to virtue

LesPhelps wrote:

Perhaps you are getting a bit carried away.

As I said, the ecological footprint idea has two components.  To address one and ignore the other, is simply half measures.

Sorry to hear you don't like fishing.  I no longer hunt and fish rarely for a variety of reasons, but chiefly because we have the animals and fish outnumbered.  

One of the problems with 7 billion people is that there is so little room left for the critters that inhabit our planet.  You may not care about them, but I'd miss having them around.

By the way, the numbers I've heard for a sustainable population are between 2.5 and 5 billion people.  My feeling is that it is perhaps in the middle of that range, but if we screw up the planet, it's carrying capacity will go down for quite a while.

I've learned that there are people on this planet with ideas that are so divergent from mine that there is no point in carrying on a discussion.  It would appear you fit that category.

Les,

First of all, I never said I didn't like fishing.  Second, I never said I didn't care about "critters".  Please don't put words in my mouth.  We do a lot of activities to build wildlife habitat and support wildlife populations and have taken in rescue animals for years and also rehabbed wild animals.  In fact, I've been working in conservation areas since I was 7 years old (so that's over half a century ago).  Believe it or not, we used to be Greenpeace supporters before realizing the idiocy and hypocrisy of that organization.  We support the Nature Conservancy as well but have my doubts about that organization too.  Third, if you live in America (or any highly developed country), I think there is a high probability that your ecological footprint exceeds that of many people living in third world countries. 

Do you live in a house or apartment?  Do you own a car?  Do you own a bicycle (even the manufacture of that creates a huge ecological footprint)?  Are you tapped into a central water distribution system?  Are you tapped into a central sewage system?  Are you tapped into a central electrical distribution system?  Are you tapped into a natural gas line or do you use fuel oil or propane?  Do you have central heating?  Do you own and read books (ever see a paper mill in operation)?  Do you utilize the Internet?  Do you use a phone (whether cell phone or land line)?  Do you wear manufactured clothing and shoes?  Do you own tools made of metal, plastic, or other non-natural materials?  Do you buy food or other packaged items in cans, bottles, jars, plastic containers, plastic bags, or cardboard containers?  Do you consume animal foods?  Do you own a canoe made of fiberglas, kevlar, aluminum, or some other non-natural material, polypropylene stringer material, fishing reels, carbon fiber fishing rods, or sunglasses (reference picture)?   

If you do any of the above, you're already part of the problem, perhaps more so than some of those people with more than 2 children.  There's a lot of hypocrisy being spouted from people who have 2, 1, or even 0 children and who, just from their lifestyle, create a much larger environmental problem than many people with more children living a simpler, more primitive, more sustainable existence.  And when you make a blanket statement such as you made, it comes across as a narrow minded, authoritarian position.  As just one example, how about a third world person who has 4 children knowing that there is a high probability that two of them will be dead before adulthood and those 2 remaining children are, because of the poverty of their parents' circumstances, the parents' only "retirement plan"?.  So who's going to dictate who gets how many children?  You?  Sorry, but just from your statements, I wouldn't trust you to have the wisdom to make that decision.

Personally, I enjoy having discussion with individuals with opinions divergent from mine including you.  It's a source of learning and growth.  But if you don't engage me in discussion ever again, I think I'll get over it.

P.S. For what's it worth, we have 2 children and they are the greatest blessing we could imagine but if someone wants more and is responsible in their care and upbringing, who am I to begrudge them that privilege?  To quote BOB on post #31, "However, I pass no judgement as each individual decision is left for the Woman are my thoughts."   

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An Alternative View

 "Ian Angus, co-author of "Too Many People?".. "opines that the idea of overpopulation is simple, appealing but harmful as it deflects people's energy and attention away from the more serious issue of changing society. Noting that the original political agenda of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was deemed threatening by corporations who used their influence with the tax exempt charitable foundations to sideline the book in favor of their chosen replacement, Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb. " Over-consumption in the rich world and large family size in the struggling world are both products of unregulated global capitalism, as are obesity and artificial scarcity.

Angus' talk can be heard here: http://www.unwelcomeguests.net/635

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Population

There is or was a long, long thread on LI Systems Thinking World concerning population.  My favorite discussion within the discussion was empowering women. 

On a recent Renewable Energy discussion, one guy chimed in that educated women don't have that many children.

I chimed back that educated men don't either.

Of course, neither of us is right if we are speaking anecdotally, but statistically, in some cultures, there is probably some truth there. 

Educated women like to do very interesting stuff.  Just put Maria Zuber into a search, for an example.

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Or the Fourth Option

Denny Johnson helpfully noted (#42):

Your post does not seem to consider a third option.......less consumption AND less procreation.

It also did not consider the fourth option of increasing my consumption. That would not be too hard.

Is anyone opposed to me running an air conditioner during the hot days in the summer? (We don't currently own one.) How about if I start showering everyday instead of taking sponge baths at the sink? I could probably septuple my water usage. And speaking of water, what if I start buying that wonderful spring stuff they pour into plastic bottles and ship around the country at great expense? Certainly no one would object to that, right? Let's see, I can add a house pet (our current dog earns her pay guarding livestock and keeping deer out of the garden). And then I'll smash the solar panels we had put on our barn roof so that my energy can come from the local nuclear plant.

Drawing a line at what is "reasonable" consumption differs with people and circumstances. So does determining what is "reasonable" procreation. Someone has to have more than two kids to keep the population even because accidents happen and people die. There are plenty of infertile people who cannot have children. Others will choose to have none or one.

And the story is not done yet. My children could die in an unexpected cataclysm. Many others have.

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how far do we go?

efarmer.ny wrote:

Denny Johnson helpfully noted (#42):

Your post does not seem to consider a third option.......less consumption AND less procreation.

It also did not consider the fourth option of increasing my consumption. That would not be too hard.

Is anyone opposed to me running an air conditioner during the hot days in the summer? (We don't currently own one.) How about if I start showering everyday instead of taking sponge baths at the sink? I could probably septuple my water usage. And speaking of water, what if I start buying that wonderful spring stuff they pour into plastic bottles and ship around the country at great expense? Certainly no one would object to that, right? Let's see, I can add a house pet (our current dog earns her pay guarding livestock and keeping deer out of the garden). And then I'll smash the solar panels we had put on our barn roof so that my energy can come from the local nuclear plant.

Drawing a line at what is "reasonable" consumption differs with people and circumstances. So does determining what is "reasonable" procreation. Someone has to have more than two kids to keep the population even because accidents happen and people die. There are plenty of infertile people who cannot have children. Others will choose to have none or one.

And the story is not done yet. My children could die in an unexpected cataclysm. Many others have.

Plus, if there are those who are so convinced that no one should have more than 2 children, why don't they personally demonstrate the strength of their convictions by sacrificing and having not 2, but only 1 or 0 children to balance out those "overconsumers" who are so "selfish" as to have more than 2 children <sarcasm>.  As I said in another post, there's a lot of hypocrisy that's spouted.  Ditto, in the area of consuming planetary resources to achieve a modern Western lifestyle.  When people who own and maintain 2 homes crow about having only 2 children, that's hypocrisy.  When people use modern materials that have a tremendous environmental cost in terms of their manufacture yet act as if they are environmental purists, that's hypocrisy. 

There's ALWAYS a balancing act to be achieved.  I've struggled with this for years myself and certainly don't claim to have all the answers.  I don't know if anyone does.  When I read Bill Ryerson's information, I have mixed feelings.  He has some good ideas and some that are not so good and I'm not sure if he fully perceives the potential dangers of everything he is suggesting.    

There's little doubt in my mind that human overpopulation is a very serious issue but how we go about dealing with it is obviously very touchy and fraught with pitfalls and perils, especially in the area of infringement upon freedom and liberty.  I recently came across someone who asked me if I knew about Agenda 21.  I replied in the affirmative.  She said her son-in-law had just become aware of it and was actually weeping, because of his concern for his children and future generations.  If we are advocating population control, are we willing to go to such extremes as implementing an agenda such as this?  I, for one, am not.

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family planning

One of the issues that Bill Ryerson discusses is "family planning" ... seems reasonable enough ... on the surface.  The question is, what type of family planning and according to whose agenda?  A well known "family planning" organization in the US is Planned Parenthood.  It's even been funded with taxpayers' money.  But let's take a closer look at the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margarent Sanger.

This is her speaking at a KKK rally in Silver Lake, NJ.  Below is information related to that meeting:

"Margaret Sanger's speech to the the women's branch of the Silver Lake Ku Klux Klan. In her own 1938 autobiography, Margaret Sanger An Autobiography (1971 reprint by Dover Publications, Inc. of the 1938 original published by W.W. Norton & Company) Sanger indicates at pages 366-367 that the (sic) she got along quite well with members of a New Jersey branch of the Ku Klux Klan at her 1926 speech, eventually getting a "dozen invitations to speak to similar groups."

“Negroes and Southern Europeans are mentally inferior to native born Americans”

“More children from the fit, less from the unfit."

"Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated."

In case you were wondering, these are all from Sanger."

 
 
I don't know about you but there is NO WAY I would advocate family planning with this person as its founder and source.  Period.  End of subject.
 
It reminds me of the political correctness doctrine that has swept this country. That doctrine actually has its origins in the German Marxist movement of the 1930s.  It appears benign ... at first ... on the surface ... but upon deeper inspection, it has malevolent roots and its propagation is ominous.
 
People need to understand the sources of movements that are influencing their thinking and their society.  
Doug's picture
Doug
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 1 2008
Posts: 2763
Birth rates and women's education

I don't think any top-down effort, except one, is going to significantly affect birth rates around the world.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-women-can-save-the-planet

Quote:
The root cause of the looming energy problem—and the key to easing environmental, economic and religious tensions while improving public health—is to address the unending, and unequal, growth of the human population. And the one proven way to reduce fertility rates is to empower young women by educating them.

Quote:
The long-term goal of reducing poverty, religious fundamentalism and overpopulation will be impossible to reach until we free women around the world from the enslavement of ignorance. More fundamental is the fact that education is a basic human right that has been systematically denied too many women for too long.

The ugly truth is that we live in a very unequal world.  The poor, uneducated and culturally deprived areas of the world tend to have high birth rates.  The rich, technologically advanced and educated areas of the world use a disproportionate share of the world's resources.  I listened to the Ian Angus diatribe cited by CitizenJ above.  One of his assertions is that if all food currently produced in the world were equally distributed, we would have universal obesity.  Whether that's true or not I have no idea.  But, assuming it is for the moment, how would that food be distributed?  I'm pretty sure it would require massive amounts of energy, human and fossil, and would still not achieve optimal results.  It will not be done in a world that is experiencing resource shortages like ours will.

Since the industrial revolution we have held the four horsemen of the apocalypse at bay through a variety of technological innovations, most requiring fossil energy.  It has been a near miracle, but we are increasingly seeing the dark side of those methods, i.e. the waning of the green revolution, the high costs of advanced medicine and increasing resistance of pests and diseases to our chemicals.  My guess is that we will become familiarized again with the four horsemen in the not too distant future.

The bottom line is that overpopulation is a self correcting problem.  The solutions will, as everything else, not be evenly distributed.  Some regions will suffer more than others and it will be unfair.

So, arguing whether it is virtuous to have more or fewer children in our rich culture is beside the point.  Because we have greater access to remaining resources, we won't suffer the worst of the consequences.  The poor and uneducated will.  So, if you feel guilty about your share of the world's resources, work hard at educating women all over the world.  Hopefully, that will be enough to help.  Who knows.

Doug

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