Is human population growth really a problem?
I’m a firm believer that we have enormous challenges facing us in the next 10 years and am very thankful for Chris Martenson’s insight and analysis, not to mention the creative, engaging presentation.
However, I want to introduce another line of thinking that population DECLINE is a problem, not its growth. Consider, if you will, the experts who cite these facts and views on http://www.demographicwinter.com.
Important to say that whether population growth or decline is a problem, the net effect is the same: massive upheaval which requires earnest preparation. I appreciate your thoughts and consideration to this matter. <!–break–>
The effects of population decline will cause uncomfortable problems, but they will not be as catastrophic as a population explosion. We ARE between a rock and a hard place…..
FIRST, you have to come to grips we all die. YOU will die. No ifs no buts. When you check out is far less important than HOW you check out…. and you don’t want to check out starving to death. If your pension funds disappear, it’s really no big deal, there are ways of getting around the inability to not being able to have holidays in the Bahamas every other year in retirement!
I didn’t look at the video (I rarely do, bandwidth issues, and my speakers died last month anyway, and I can’t be bothered replacing them……
While it is possible to maintain population growth at 0% – while we all become poorer as a result of peak oil, a worse scenario is becoming poorer as a result of peak oil and even poorer due to increased taxes necessary to support an aging population. Some may argue that depopulation is necessary in order to allign the amount of population to the carrying capacity of the earth, however every forecast of catastrophy has been wrong, and human ingenuity has not even begun to tackle this challenge. So, I remain optomistic about humanity’s abilty to surpass peak oil, and pessimistic about the western world’s ability to strengthen the family.
For population growth or 0% population growth to be back on the political agenda, a whole bunch of things would need to change. Let’s hear some some suggestions from y’all. I’ll start:
– dump pop culture, and promote an appreciation for real culture based on history, phylosophy and religion – especially with the young
– Establish penalties for couples who divorce without due cause (violence, cheating etc)
– Establish affordable housing programs to support young couples… so they don’t wait until they are 40 to have kids!
– Develop back to work programs to assist stay at home mothers to return to work after a few years at home raising kids
What do you think?
Dan, population decline is a problem only because we’ve built an economic/monetary/political system that depends upon population growth. That manmade exponential system is what the experts in the documentary no doubt understand, but realize the limitation of such analysis. It takes our manmade exponential system as a given–a fatal flaw–we don’t live on an infinite earth and we aren’t robots. So even though we could push the growth system further for probably a long time, Japan could stack its citizens even deeper on top of each other, Europe could eliminate all grass to build more houses (their wilderness is already completely gone), Americans could run around even faster, a limit will be reached eventually. And I don’t look forward to a world where our grandchildren pump out even more kids to work even faster and harder, pay even more taxes, suffer under even more debt, consume even more McDonalds, watch more Dancing with the Stars, all to keep our flawed system afloat. That’s not a life.
[quote=john]I remain optomistic about humanity’s abilty to surpass peak oil, and pessimistic about the western world’s ability to strengthen the family…….promote an appreciation for real culture[/quote]
John, in my opinion the destruction of the family was an inevitable result of endless debt-based exponential growth which attacks culture, religion, history, philosophy, family. What destroyed real culture was the growth of the exponential debt/banking/corporate culture which will only keep destroying more cultures and creating deeper levels of pathology in people as long as the exponential culture continues. The few government programs you propose will do nothing to fix this. I don’t mean this as a slap, rather just a different way to look at things, you’re demonstrating the dead nature of our culture…looking up to non-human harvard/yale grads in DC to design a couple incentive programs to fix our lives. That’s the culture of a dog on a leash, not an alive human. Real culture, family, philosophy, spirituality emanates from within your individual soul, not from DC. We gotta tear down the DC/Wall St system which keeps us on a leash instead of trying to tweak it.
Well it does not help that we had been taught in school that the Chinese could line up and walk into the ocean and never stop . The propaganda has been pushed for a long time .
If 6 billion people gathered together in a group how much of the world will they cover ? Not even as much as one USA City . And if you put them in cute little families of 4 and give them a house and lot . They would all fit in the state of Texas with room to grow . . If we gave the families an Acre they might cover Australia . What small family could not feed themselves on an Acre of land ?
First the agenda has been to postpone marriage and change the image of the family ., Young people want to start out better off than their parents. WE encourage the moms to work and make them feel worthless if they do not . Let people become more and more selfish and greedy so children are a liability . They interfere with our pursuit of happiness. Baahh. I tell you that we do not need a TV. dumbing us down when you have a two year old to entertain you .
We have been sold these lies .
world shortage of food . Are there too many people to feed . Well you have seen the pictures and T.V. adds . Poor people starving !!! FACT … We PAY farmers to NOT grow food … Billions of Dollars . Corn is below $3 a bushel with the money we could buy 20 billion bushel of corn . We can feed 1/4 o the world population nutritious meals on what we pay the US. farmers Not to grow. We could actually feed the whole world well balanced diet from 10 USA Midwestern states. . And if we mix beans and the wheat together we get a more complete protein. Yes there are people starving , even regions of them . 2 % of the people feed the other 98% this should scare us.
People are not a drain on the wealth and resources , they are the producers of it . People produce more than they consume .
It all comes down to knowing a need from a want . Families of four do not need 5000sq ft houses . People do not need 5000 calories a day unless they are working VERY hard . We just need to be faithful stewards . Haven’t we noticed just by growing our own gardens how much less trash we have ? Less fuel to move the food . If we eat the foods that grow in our area We feel better because our nutrition and exercise is better . We feel more alive .
Maybe we should think about what we have been sold .
… If we gave the families an Acre they might cover Australia . What small family could not feed themselves on an Acre of land ?…
Sorry , but I think is a somewhat simplified view … “we have land, we can populate nearly every square foot of it”
I’d like to know just what level of population is okay?
8 billion? 10 billion? 20 billion… 100 billion?
Here in Australia, the majority of land is not arable…
Australia is a developed country, with a prosperous multicultural society and has excellent results in many international comparisons of national performance such as health care, life expectancy, quality of life, human development, public education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.Australian cities routinely rank among the world’s highest in terms of cultural offerings and quality of life.
By far the largest part of Australia is desert or semi-arid lands commonly known as the outback. Australia is the flattest continent, with the oldest and least fertile soils, and is the driest inhabited continent. Only the south-east and south-west corners of the continent have a temperate climate. The population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, is among the lowest in the world, although a great proportion of the population lives along the temperate south-eastern coastline.
We are currently living through a ten year drought, and our reservoirs are at 30% percent capacity with summer on our doorstep.
“Build more dams!!” people scream.
Sure we can dig holes but without rain they won’t fill up!
Our main food bowl is struggling to feed the population we already have and we are having electricity brownouts through summer thanks to people taking their government handout stimulus money and buying air conditioners and plasma TV’s.
Our entire population of 22 million might not seem like much with a continent as large as ours but it will not support people being packed in like sardines just because ‘there is space’. Most of us are crammed along the east coast.
Basing population capacity purely on physical space doesn’t work. There must be a balance that includes quality of life.
We currently have a good quality of life compared to many countries, but no species can keep growing idefinately because sooner later the bubble will burst. Animal populations wane when they exceed the ability of their environment to support their numbers.
Our two largest cities are approaching 5 million people and that alone causes all kind of infrastrucure and transporation issues.
Have you lived in a city of 20 million plus people?… Mexico City for example.
Food, water, housing, employment, transport, waste disposal, crime, pollution, healthcare, poverty and infastructure issues are all amplified.
If permaculture was a mandatory part of the global education system then I’m sure a larger population could be supported along with a reasonable standard of living. But until the current unsustainable system collapses (which it will) we will contnue to career towards the abyss and when enough have fallen off then a change may, just occur.
… I want to introduce another line of thinking that population DECLINE is a problem, not its growth. Consider, if you will, the experts who cite these facts and views on http://www.demographicwinter.com.
Strabes is exactly right, except perhaps he gives “the experts in the documentary” a little too much credit. To me, they seem completely clueless. The theory behind the film seems to be that in order to avoid a lot of pain we need to keep the music playing – forever, evidently. Never mind that that’s not possible. But the unavoidable fact is, in every game of musical chairs, eventually the music stops, there’s a winner (in this case, the top 1%) there are losers (the rest of us), and we all have to pay the piper.
[quote=johnbryson] For population growth or 0% population growth to be back on the political agenda, a whole bunch of things would need to change. Let’s hear some some suggestions from y’all. [/quote]
My suggestion? ” The government should stay out of it. They are not wiser and more enlightened than the rest of us. Strabes nailed it:
[quote] …looking up to non-human harvard/yale grads in DC to design a couple incentive programs to fix our lives. That’s the culture of a dog on a leash, not an alive human. Real culture, family, philosophy, spirituality emanates from within your individual soul, not from DC. We gotta tear down the DC/Wall St system which keeps us on a leash instead of trying to tweak it. [/quote]
[quote=Full Moon]If 6 billion people gathered together in a group how much of the world will they cover ? Not even as much as one USA City . And if you put them in cute little families of 4 and give them a house and lot . They would all fit in the state of Texas with room to grow . [/quote]
We all better hope you’re right and we’ve still got a little more room left to grow – because we certainly don’t have any choice – but barring the completely fantastic and unforeseeable, like it or not, a spherical planet with finite resources will eventually dictate limits to growth. We may or may not be able to live without oil, but we can’t live without water. The Colorado river no longer reaches the Pacific Ocean. America’s largest and most critical aquifier, the midwest Ogallala is headed for depletion. http://shipbright.wordpress.com/2009/10/12/water-and-agriculture-the-ogallala-aquifer/ China is losing a million acres a year to desertification http://geology.com/news/2007/desertification-in-china.shtml
[quote]Well it does not help that we had been taught in school that the Chinese could line up and walk into the ocean and never stop . The propaganda has been pushed for a long time . [/quote]
I don’t dispute that there’s propaganda, or that there are powerful forces pushing an agenda, but the same people pushing this have no intention of abandoning the growth addicted Ponzi scheme economic paradigm that is working at cross purposes with it. And they are the same people who have been pushing to facilitate maximum immigration (legal and illegal) into the United States. This is about control and it’s about even more consolidation of power, in my opinion. But that doesn’t change the fact that overpopulation is in fact a very real problem.
[quote=rowmat] I’d like to know just what level of population is okay?
8 billion? 10 billion? 20 billion… 100 billion? [/quote]
That seems like a fair question to me. Albert Bartlett in his terrific presentation puts it in perspective (with mathematical precision)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFyOw9IgtjY&feature=video_response (I hugely recommend the whole series)
At a modest 1.3% growth rate we will reach a density of one person per square meter of dry land on earth in just 780 years. If it were somehow possible to continue, in 2400 years the mass of people would be equal to the mass of the earth.
I’m afraid I have to agree with the good professor when he says with absolute certitude, “we will reach zero population growth.”
Simple is what I am , Rowmat . It takes people to raise the food other people eat . It does not get done with 1.8 children . The farms here are average size 2000 acres . Each feeds Many people. … 130 I think . That is about 15 acres per person . But I will tell you there is MUCH land idle. Some farms have no one left to farm them the families got smaller and smaller . My nearest neighbor is an 80 year old lady sitting on her 2000 acres .. The next is a couple on theirs. Many farms do have 4 children to help run the place and still have to hire outside workers.
Yes I lived in Japan, Philippines ,and Germany . Loved the time there and the people, but 3-4 years in each was a plenty . Felt totally dependant on the farmers there for our food. Got back to the farm as soon as we could and hope to never feel that vulnerable again .
Everyone is at the mercy of the weather . But wow 10 years of drought !
And if you put them in cute little families of 4 and give them a house and lot . They would all fit in the state of Texas with room to grow . . If we gave the families an Acre they might cover Australia .
And they’d all DIE!!
What small family could not feed themselves on an Acre of land ?
One stuck in the Australian Outback where sometimes it won’t rain for TEN YEARS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!
It hasn’t rained here for over five months, and we are starting to struggle……. hope the storm they promised us this arvo eventuates….
Here the towns are shriveling , the schools are closing and we are busing farther and farther . More people are choosing to home educate so the children are not sitting on a bus for 2-3 hours a day . Some buses have very small amount of children on them . On our bus route just 30 years ago there were 40+ kids today there maybe 10 . Every year our enrollment is in decline . The sports and debate teams have to travel 1-4 hours for competitions . There are no kids ‘Dragging Main ‘, few kids playing in the parks, riding bicycles , and few swimming in the pools .
Some farms have to hire people to come and work the land and animals , they put adds in the papers and the Internet . Wives have to come home from work to work yet more hours in the fields. The Harvest is plenty but the workers where are they ? Some that do apply for the jobs have no qualifications , no CDL , some just do not like to work . We here are not shriveling because of lack of water but because of lack of people . Our wells are only 20-40 ft. deep to hit good water .
We are sitting at 3% unemployment and there are help wanted adds in the shops , hospitals, nursing homes . Eventually even those will die off . So those who are unemployed do not have to be . Each week I see Hitchhikers go through our area not even stop to look for work . You may not get rich but you could make a living .
Some of the young people leave because they too do not like to work …. tired of dad pushing them so hard . Some like a regular paycheck and not to be at the mercy of the weather . Some just lack character . Some have been sold a dream …. Ahh to be a famous athlete or actor !
But why do so many cling to the coasts ? Sea Food ? Walks in the sand ? The friendly neighbors ? Really wondering what draws them there . Will people get hungry enough to move or will they sit and draw off our tax money ? Will fewer and fewer people need to work to feed more and more ? Maybe it is our attitude that keeps people from moving here and starting businesses but it takes people to support businesses . We do lack in the entertainment area….
I believe it was a drought that started pulling our people from the area and they have just not returned home . I always have more questions than answers , you seem have all the answers. I will wait .