Overpopulation, serious political and economical problems

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  • #1
Max Faust
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I have no exact figure, but I have seen the number 6.8 billion being used recently for how many human beings there is on this earth now. To what extent is overpopulation a driving force behind today's very serious political and economical problems that so many countries are grappling with? This is only personal conjecture, but I have a feeling that we are rapidly approaching, if we haven't already reached, a kind of breaking point in this respect. No matter how that plays out, it's going to be painful. We can already see that "life" is a commodity of very relative (but steadily declining) value - and the "rich" nations are putting up real and metaphorical fences to protect themselves against the inevitable influx of desperate people.

What can "we" do? Each and every one of us? The situation seems hopeless.
 
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  • #2
Evo
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I had posted this before, it seems that overpopulation isn't a popular topic, but something needs to be done.

The Royal Society and the National Academy of Sciences on Population Growth and Sustainability

World population is growing at the unprecedented rate of almost 100 million people every year, and human activities are producing major changes in the global environment. If current predictions of population growth prove accurate and patterns of human activity on the planet remain unchanged. science and technology may not be able to prevent either irreversible degradation of the environment or continued poverty
for much of the world.

The following joint statement, prepared by the Officers of the Royal Society of London and the United States National Academy of Sciences, reflects the judgement of a group of scientists knowledgeable about the historic contributions of science and technology to economic growth and environmental protection. It also reflects the shared view that sustainable development implies a future in which life is improved worldwide through economic development, where local environments and the biosphere are protected, and science is mobilized to create new opportunities for human progress.

Through this statement, the two academies wish to draw attention to these issues and to stimulate debate among scientists. decision makers. and the public. In addition. the two institutions, in cooperation with other academies, propose to organize a scientific conference in early 1993 to explore these issues in detail.

THE REALITY OF THE PROBLEM

Scientific and technological innovations, such as in agriculture, have been able to overcome many pessimistic predictions about resource constraints affecting human welfare. Never. the less, the present patterns of human activity accentuated by population growth should make
even those most optimistic about future scientific progress pause and reconsider the wisdom of ignoring these threats to our planet.

Unrestrained resource consumption for energy production and other uses, especially if the developing world strives to achieve living standards based on the same levels of consumption as the developed world, could lead to catastrophic outcomes for the global environment.

In places where resources are administered effectively, population growth does not inevitably imply deterioration in the quality of the environment. Nevertheless, each additional human being requires natural resources for sustenance, each produces by-products that become part of the ecosystem, and each pursues economic and other activities that affect the natural world. While the impact of population growth varies from place to place and from one environmental domain to another, the overall pace of environmental changes has unquestionably been accelerated by the recent expansion of the human population.

http://dieoff.org/page7.htm

Unfortunately there was a huge backlash against the UN by the Catholic church for stating that overpopulation was a problem and the UN was forced to drop it.
 
  • #3
Max Faust
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it seems that overpopulation isn't a popular topic

The probably unintended (?) pun here made me giggle.

It seems terribly irresponsible to not take this issue seriously - but then again why should that be surprising? Anyone who tries to point at this as a problem will be lambasted from east and west with more or less Godwin-law regulated arguments. As long as there are strong economical incentives for cranking up the population numbers in poor countries, this is what will happen. My personal suggestion for an in-part solution would be to exterminate the entire global financial sector, starting with government bonds.
 
  • #4
mheslep
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The rate of population growth for the world is slowing. Population (not rate) is actually shrinking in many developed countries, and if not for immigration would be shrinking in many more. So the solution seems to be to encourage development.

Some examples:
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...=-315619200000&tunit=Y&tlen=48&hl=en_US&dl=en
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...d+population#met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:JPN
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...d+population#met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:DEU
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...=-315619200000&tunit=Y&tlen=48&hl=en_US&dl=en
 
  • #5
brainstorm
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Population research is always painful because it carries with it the implication of population controls. It's no wonder that one post has already mentioned "extermination." No one likes being targeted for "population control" in the supposed interest of everyone else.

That said, there are resource problems and social problems that emerge from infrastructure and land use patterns. It's important to distinguish between population as a cause directly, though, and culture as a mitigating factor between individuals and resources.

Whenever anyone complains about overpopulation, the first thing I ask them is if they drive. Driving creates traffic and stresses infrastructure by allowing relatively few individuals to travel per unit-width road. Also, the large cargo-capacity of many vehicles encourages people to consume more, which stimulates waste and resource depletion and waste over a wider supply-chain range.

I don't know how many more people could live sustainably if everyone or at least most people would give up their cars and bike or walk for transportation, but I imagine it would be manyfold. When the conflict is between a luxury like traffic-reduction and a human right like having children, it seems clear to me that one person's human rights shouldn't be constrained for another person to drive everywhere all the time.

There are plenty of ways to maintain luxuries like driving while reducing their everyday usage levels. Rental cars can be used and insurance companies could make it easier for people to share cars. Businesses and residences can move closer to each other. That's not an easy task, but I think it will be a slowly evolving social-geographical pattern that creates more freedom for population growth far into the future.

This is the peaceful alternative to doomsday scenarios of war and famine typical of traditional Malthusian population forecasting.
 
  • #6
phyzguy
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Overpopulation is clearly an issue. Perhaps you should leave and help the rest of us out (just kidding).
 
  • #7
Max Faust
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the peaceful alternative to doomsday scenarios

The last time I was having this discussion, I suggested (half in jest) that voluntary sterilization should be rewarded, for instance with 10,000 dollars if you're a man and 50,000 if you're a woman. Paid in cash, no questions asked. As you can imagine, this caused a bit of an outrage.
 
  • #8
Evo
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First, tv shows that praise people for having 19 kids and paying all of their expenses should be stopped. We're praising people for being socially irresponsible. Sex education should be a must in all schools. We need to educate people on how overpopulation is hurting the planet and that a responsible number of children per couple is 2. There was a "zero population growth" movement in the 70's and it stuck with me. It was just educational, no rewards, no penalties, just trying to break the old way of thinking that you need a houseful of kids to be happy.
 
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  • #9
ThomasEdison
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The last time I was having this discussion, I suggested (half in jest) that voluntary sterilization should be rewarded, for instance with 10,000 dollars if you're a man and 50,000 if you're a woman. Paid in cash, no questions asked. As you can imagine, this caused a bit of an outrage.



Where is my $10,000 ?
 
  • #10
brainstorm
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The last time I was having this discussion, I suggested (half in jest) that voluntary sterilization should be rewarded, for instance with 10,000 dollars if you're a man and 50,000 if you're a woman. Paid in cash, no questions asked. As you can imagine, this caused a bit of an outrage.

I have heard that people were picked up by local police for sterilization prior to WWII. If it was done on a reward basis, it would be really sad to see all the people lined up to sacrifice their reproductive rights/choice to avoid foreclosure.

I think population discourse is so popular (is that a pun in some way?) because people are able to transcend the micro-reality of everyday resource-use to fantasize about the macro-level where their everyday activities pale in the shadow of the large-scale events they imagine being responsible for the fate of "the world."

Global warming, population issues, globalism, and even nationalism and localism are all epistemological/ontological frames that dwarf individuals in their everyday activities.

How is "overpopulation" a problem in your everyday life? How much more land is used to feed a family with four kids than a family of two kids? Compare the resource depletion of a couple with four kids and one car, who conserve economic resources by cooking efficient, inexpensive food like dry beans, pastas, grains, etc. to a young professional couple with no kids, two cars, lots of business trips, plenty of disposable income to consume and throw away as much as they want, and the justification that they are saving the world from overpopulation by not having kids!

Now you can say, "what about when the kids grow up and each have four kids, etc.?" I don't know if that is as much of a problem as resource inefficiency as a result of various cultures of consumption and industry/distribution. Certainly it doesn't hurt anything for people to have only one or two kids, and I even think it's nice for kids to have to share their parents less instead of more, but I think as far as planetary resources go, culture is so much more influential than human quantity.

To avoid finger-pointing and calls for social controls (always at someone else's expense/cost), I think any discussion of population control should be accompanied by one about cultures of consumption and resource-utilization efficiency. It's not fair to talk about controlling reproductive rights without curtailing consumption and industrial resource waste.
 
  • #11
Evo
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Just to show a striking similarity between population growth and world temperature over the same time period. This is not about Climate Change, it's about overpopulation.
 

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  • #12
The_Absolute
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malthusian_catastrophe

I hope we don't see the above scenario within any of our lifetimes.

Other than in China, there are no other measures being taken to control the population. Are there similar policies in India?

Poor, uneducated, and often illiterate people reproduce many times more so than their social counterparts. These people will one day outnumber the educated, middle and upper-classes in every single country and continent.

A Malthusian catastrophe is utterly inevitable.

See the documentary "2100" which is available for viewing on youtube. To get a better understanding of what I'm saying.
 
  • #13
brainstorm
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Just to show a striking similarity between population growth and world temperature over the same time period. This is not about Climate Change, it's about overpopulation.

I wasn't saying that there is or isn't a correlation between global warming and global population growth. I was pointing out that when people think in macro-theories like these, their attention tends to shift away from their behavior and power as individuals in everyday life. Furthermore, they forget that in order for population control to be attempted, some individuals have to make an attempt to exercise power/control over other individuals, which brings rights into question, and is a form of repressive violence. I wonder if people realize they are arguing in the direction of repressive violence in this thread. It's easy to forget when you frame it as a macro-scale issue where the lives of individuals become little more than pixels making up a bigger picture.
 
  • #14
brainstorm
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A Malthusian catastrophe is utterly inevitable.

Do you have any idea how some people react to a statement like this when they don't have the critical intelligence to question the underlying assumptions? Never mind, I'll just tell you - it produces a strong sense of fear when people are faced with the threat of unacceptable catastrophe combined with no hope that it is preventable.

If you want to avoid your ideas having a potentially terrorizing effect on some people, you should include some achievable alternative scenarios. What is the point of alarmism?
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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A Malthusian catastrophe is utterly inevitable.
As with every other catastrophy you've posted your fear about on PF in the last year, this one is nonsense too. Population growth rate slows as countries develop, so developed countries will level off (most already have). Countries like India and China are already overpopulated, but with development will come a drop in population. Africa may have problems, but they won't spread to the western world.
 
  • #16
brainstorm
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As with every other catastrophy you've posted your fear about on PF in the last year, this one is nonsense too. Population growth rate slows as countries develop, so developed countries will level off (most already have). Countries like India and China are already overpopulated, but with development will come a drop in population. Africa may have problems, but they won't spread to the western world.

I wonder if people who hold onto this logic of developed and developing countries developing differently in terms of population patterns realize that the only reason these differences happen is because of draconian resistance against migration.

Migration control IS a catastrophe of development. Humans naturally migrate to expand to seek more resources when their cultures prove successful for achieving population growth. Eventually, humans should start migrating into outer space and other planets. There's no reason that repressive control over population and migration should become a permanent state of affairs for human life. If it does, it is only because a sufficient number of people have become completely unable to empathize with the plights of those whose will to reproduce, migrate, or both is repressed.

Everything spreads globally one way or the other. All attempts to contain humanity and culture within separated regions ever achieves is global repression, its discontents, and the eruptions of violence that occur as a result.
 
  • #17
Max Faust
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Africa may have problems, but they won't spread to the western world.

I'd wager that African problems in this respect will spread to the western world in (at least) two different ways: On is quite indirect, based in the need for some kind of economical sustenance for the growing population; and that is deforestation, depletion of natural resources and pollution. The other is a very direct tendency of migration towards the north (Europe), by any means available, including illegal ones, causing an increase of social problems and crime.
 
  • #18
brainstorm
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I'd wager that African problems in this respect will spread to the western world in (at least) two different ways: On is quite indirect, based in the need for some kind of economical sustenance for the growing population; and that is deforestation, depletion of natural resources and pollution. The other is a very direct tendency of migration towards the north (Europe), by any means available, including illegal ones, causing an increase of social problems and crime.

Important to note that much of the criminality of migration is the result of policies specifically designed to criminalize migrants and by doing so create a disincentive to migration in order to control it.

So when people go on about "illegal immigrants," it's kind of a catch-all demonization to justify forced emigration for anyone who can be denied naturalization or other resident status. Now that "human trafficking" and other crimes of migration are being developed, the legal means of criminalizing and policing people are being expanded. This is in addition to employment-permitting and similar controls. Of course, some of this is actually to promote migration where people keep a low profile and work for whatever pay or conditions.

Either way, the important point with regard to population growth is that geographical borders are utilized as a means to ensure that population growth can be contained within defined boundaries and that relatively wasteful cultures of consumption and land-use are protected for others.

It would be wonderful to say that everyone who is concerned about the negative consequences of population growth is also interested in reducing those consequences by transforming culture so that more people can be comfortably sustained with the same resource-footprint and migration can take place in a way that promotes development instead of conflict - but there's so little willingness to even consider taking responsibility for global problems, that migration control seems to be just one more level of ignoring problems instead of solving them.
 
  • #19
Evo
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I don't feel that the answer to world overpopulation is to spread people until every liveable spot on the earth is packed beyond the ability to sustain them.

I know some people say that sooner or later the issue will resolve itself, massive wars, famine, plagues. Is that how we want to resolve things?

We need to start educating everyone to limit the number of chidren they have.
 
  • #20
Max Faust
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much of the criminality of migration is the result of policies specifically designed to criminalize migrants

I understand this position, but I'm not an idealist in this matter.

It is a fact of the field that uncontrolled immigration into already quite crammed spaces will lead to social problems and crime. This is not me pointing my finger at anyone and saying that they are to be blamed, it is me trying to relate to unsentimental facts. It may be better for someone from, say, Lagos, Nigeria, to claw his way to Italy to become a street-runner for the Neapolitan Comorra, thus becoming a cog in the wheel of international crime, bit it's hardly a good thing for anybody but the most cynical operators - and a few bleeding heart liberals.
 
  • #21
brainstorm
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I don't feel that the answer to world overpopulation is to spread people until every liveable spot on the earth is packed beyond the ability to sustain them.

I know some people say that sooner or later the issue will resolve itself, massive wars, famine, plagues. Is that how we want to resolve things?

We need to start educating everyone to limit the number of chidren they have.

Would you then agree to live with your parents for your entire life? What about letting your kids live with you for yours? If you wouldn't, then aren't you "spreading people until every livable spot is packed?"

Or do only look at this restriction from spreading on the macro-level?

Since you ask, the way I want to resolve things is by pursuing cultural reform until no further efficiency is possible.

I have no problem with people creating and preaching cultures of few or no children. I do think it becomes a problem when people go beyond practicing and preaching culture and begin creating cultures of control and manipulation to intervene in the reproductive choices of others without due process and respect of the rights of the accused.
 
  • #22
Evo
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Would you then agree to live with your parents for your entire life? What about letting your kids live with you for yours? If you wouldn't, then aren't you "spreading people until every livable spot is packed?"

Or do only look at this restriction from spreading on the macro-level?

Since you ask, the way I want to resolve things is by pursuing cultural reform until no further efficiency is possible.

I have no problem with people creating and preaching cultures of few or no children. I do think it becomes a problem when people go beyond practicing and preaching culture and begin creating cultures of control and manipulation to intervene in the reproductive choices of others without due process and respect of the rights of the accused.
I have no problem with the current imigration laws. Imigration must be controlled otherwise we will have total chaos. I think uncontrolled migration would end in bloody territorial warfare.

If we can't control ourselves by voluntairly agreeing to control the population, then we may be in for a disaster on a scale never seen before, considering the numbers in the future. I believe that recent figures put population increase at over 90 million a year, this is net *increase*. We simply cannot sustain this long term. We've already see what the world population is doing to the planet.

Voluntary control *now* could possibly avoid mandatory control in the future.

BTW, my two younger sisters have decided to have no children and one lives with my mother. I had two kids and one is moving in with me, the other has moved in with her father.
 
  • #23
brainstorm
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I have no problem with the current imigration laws. Imigration must be controlled otherwise we will have total chaos. I think uncontrolled migration would end in bloody territorial warfare.
I think ethnic territorialism and conflict leads to bloody territorial warfare. I think nationalism and other forms of ethnic territorialism set the stage for war by creating a separatist "peace."

If we can't control ourselves by voluntairly agreeing to control the population, then we may be in for a disaster on a scale never seen before, considering the numbers in the future. I believe that recent figures put population increase at over 90 million a year, this is net *increase*. We simply cannot sustain this long term. We've already see what the world population is doing to the planet.
Well, I wish people would talk about cultural effects on the planet instead of assuming it's a quantity problem. Please tell me you at least see the difference between assuming that culture is fixed and quantity is the problem and considering that culture is variable and how much impact quantity has depends on how they live.

I also think that culture is responsible for the social disasters that combat population growth, such as wars and economic repression. When fear of overpopulation spreads, people go on alert for everything from migration to whether to turn the computer off or put it to sleep.

People should be concerned with the social and resource impact of their activities, but they should start by understanding the relationship between activities and resources. Until they have a strong grasp on quantities of resources consumed by various activities, they should resist alarmist reactions to population statistics.

I have seen too much hate and violence result from population fears to support malthusian propaganda.

Voluntary control *now* could possibly avoid mandatory control in the future.
That's like threatening someone that if they have more than two kids you'll kill them.

BTW, my two younger sisters have decided to have no children and one lives with my mother. I had two kids and one is moving in with me, the other has moved in with her father.
Not to be rude, but have you ever thought that all of you living in the same house together could free up one more domicile for someone else? In fact, if you would move in with another family, you would increase the ratio of people to houses by a factor of four. That allows 4x the population to live in the same number of houses. You may not like the idea of densification, but isn't it preferable to forced population control?

I say this but really I don't think the issue is that dire. If you look at how much land is unused or inefficiently used for things like parking lots, there's plenty of room for population growth.

The main factor, imo, is driving - because large vehicles create traffic problems and the impetus for road-expansion, which is the most detrimental in terms of environmental impact I think. When people walk or bike instead of driving, the number of traffic in the same width of road goes up tenfold.

Another waste of resources is animal husbandry. Have you ever read the amount of land-area and water resources that go into each pound of meat compared with vegetables? I think it's something like 7 vegetarians that can eat from the same land area, agricultural resources, and water as one meat-eater.

If someone is a vegetarian and only walks or rides their bike everywhere, and they want to complain about population, I'd be a little more inclined to take them seriously. When someone says that there's not enough resources on Earth but they're living like a king, I wonder why they don't at least attempt to promote cultural reforms before immediately calling for population control.

It's like when people complain about their utility costs, but they refuse to change their thermostat, blow insulation into their attic, or any other usage change that will lower their bill. They expect others to drastically modify their activities to sustain their culture, but aren't willing to even consider modifying theirs - and in the name of freedom!
 
  • #24
Evo
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Basically, it comes down to having too many people on the planet, and people need to be educated to have fewer children, otherwise we are going to have even more serious problems ahead of us.

It sounds like you live in an area that has some extreme cultural issues that prevents people from seeing the bigger picture. They are too consumed in their own little circle of predjudices to care about what goes on in the world outside of them. That's a shame. I live in the US, so I see things in a different perspective.
 
  • #25
Max Faust
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I don't think the issue is that dire. If you look at how much land is unused or inefficiently used for things like parking lots, there's plenty of room for population growth.

I rub my eyes... but yes, it says what it says.

It also goes on to regurgitate the stupidest of the stupid *vegetarian* utopia oxcrap.

Dude, get a frackin' grip. Grow up, get *funked* up, whatever it takes. These are *humans* we are talking about. Predator monkeys. Mean and vicious creatures, not at all like the puppies you see in Disney movies. Nor very much like the guitar swinging, choir-singing "we shall overcome some day" hippies with flowers in their hair that you will find on campus. The reality of large masses of generally quite poor people is violence and misery; a constant and merciless war over ever diminishing natural resources.
 
  • #26
brainstorm
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Basically, it comes down to having too many people on the planet, and people need to be educated to have fewer children, otherwise we are going to have even more serious problems ahead of us.

It sounds like you live in an area that has some extreme cultural issues that prevents people from seeing the bigger picture. They are too consumed in their own little circle of predjudices to care about what goes on in the world outside of them. That's a shame. I live in the US, so I see things in a different perspective.

I don't believe the US is any less plagued by ethnic-nationalism than any other national region. Once upon a time, the idea of the US was for free migration to allow people to live freely, but eventually population and migration control gained ground.

If people would think outside of ethno-national identity boxing, i.e. literally viewed all individuals as humans period, what basis would you have for drawing borders and controlling migration? Would everyone be on house-arrest? Why allow people to move between regions of a nationally-defined territory but not between national regions themselves?

If migration was allowed to occur unrestricted, people in migration-restricted regions might begin to notice effects of overpopulation. As long as it is restricted, though, westerners live in a population-limited utopia and all the media coverage of more densely populated areas (or visiting such places) will be interpreted according to skewed perception.

If you want to solve the problems of population, the best thing you could do, imo, would be to live somewhere with a high population density. I have done this, and my conclusion was that ethnic territorialism was the major problem that makes dense urban living unpleasant and drives people to long for more privacy and separation from others.

If people would respect each other and regard each other in terms of commonalities instead of differences, dense urban living would be fine. To me ethnic territorialism is very simple to understand. Increased focus on difference and conflict leads to greater tension and violence, which makes people desire separation from the conflict by separating themselves from those they identify with difference. Apartheid, the iron-curtain, national anti-migration politics, are all separatist politics that result from ethnic differentiation.

Dense living also improves resource-efficiency by allowing for more efficient distribution of consumption resources. Shipped goods can be delivered to a relatively small number of stores where many people can shop without having to drive. You can preach childlessness and limiting family size all you want, and lots of people listen - but doesn't it make sense to go ahead and promote cultural changes as well that prevent the reproductive choices that people make from having the resource impact that you fear?
 
  • #27
Evo
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You don't seem to understand the problem of overpopulation. You seem to think it's a problem of people getting along with each other, that's not it at all. It's the destruction of the planet's ecosystems, it's polluted water, destruction of forests and wetlands, destruction of the ocean. It's about making the planet uninhabitable for most of it's creatures, including humans.
 
  • #28
brainstorm
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You don't seem to understand the problem of overpopulation. You seem to think it's a problem of people getting along with each other, that's not it at all. It's the destruction of the planet's ecosystems, it's polluted water, destruction of forests and wetlands, destruction of the ocean. It's about making the planet uninhabitable for most of it's creatures, including humans.

And you don't seem to be able to apply the distributive function of global human culture to local resource consumption and utilization.

When ecosystems become polluted and their resources farmed out of balance, when deforestation occurs, wetlands altered by water-flow pattern alterations, ocean pollution and overharvesting occurs, etc. it is due to human cultural activities at the local level.

I proceed from the assumption that it is possible for humans to engage in cultural practices that are sustainable. The issue is figuring out what sustainable cultural practices would be and how to organize human life in a way that results in the minimum amount of harm and damage while maximizing human happiness, which includes maximizing reproductive freedom.

Reproductive control and the Mathusian pessimism that drives it are, imo, a by-product of cultural mismanagement at the local, i.e. individual, level. I also believe that such pessimism develops as a result of tangible cultural experiences by individuals at the local level. If you lived on a land parcel, or in a community, which was sustainable in terms of its cultural activities and resource-usage, why wouldn't you exhibit a more positive vision of how to achieve sustainability?

If you were witness to an urban architecture that allows people to work and enjoy leisure without imported goods/resources, including fuel, why wouldn't you promote this culture as a means for others to live sustainably and self-govern their reproductive choices to fit within their economic lifestyle?

You seem to proceed from the assumption that there is no alternative except for a global high-consumerism middle-class to continue to grow and therefore the only means to limit ecosystem and resource pillaging is to limit the number of humans, period.

I, on the other hand, believe that consumerism can evolve to greater levels of resource-conservation through more sustainable forms of consumption and transportation. I believe that when people are locally responsible for their own agriculture and other resource-utilization, they are able to gage for themselves how many children they can economically sustain.

When people are self-sufficient at the local level, there is no reason for them not to spread their culture through migration and cultural exchange. Ultimately, the only thing that can be done for the people already living is to convert their culture into the most sustainable forms possible. Once that is achieved, resource pillaging will have reached a minimum.

Once resource conservation is maximized, it may still be the case that it will be possible to estimate limits of sustainable population growth. When local self-sufficiency is the economic means of resource-utilization, however, people will be able to see for themselves when their resources are in danger of unsustainability.

The problem with that is that as long as territorialism/regionalism promotes bordering of people and culture, those who develop the most sustainable cultures will be the ones who are able to reproduce the most and who suffer population problems. Meanwhile, those who waste resources because their regional territories are more vast will face less pressure to curb population, even while their inefficient resource-utilization practices reduce the overall availability of resources for the planetary population.

This is why it makes sense to focus on cultural reforms while allowing those who reform successfully to expand and migrate. Remember that culture does not just expand through having and socializing children. It also occurs through cultural exchanges among individuals as they come in contact with each other, either locally or through media.

While population growth may eventually be a determinant factor in resource and ecosystem depletion, at present culture is more the culprit, I believe. Look at it this way: rewind a few years to the expansion of the automotive, fuel, and road industries. Population was less and less dense, which allowed and maybe even encouraged the growth of sprawl culture. As a result, population growth was economically stimulated in that the means of consumption, jobs, etc. grew with the technology/culture.

Now it's easy to take this technology/culture for granted and blame population quantity for the problems, but in fact it was the same technological/cultural developments that promoted population growth that also increased resource and ecological depletion.

As technology/culture continues to evolve into more resource-efficient forms, both conservation will grow as well as the prospect of expanding population shrinking insofar as division of labor and industrial intensiveness will decrease.

Now, it may be the case that human labor will become a substitute for much labor that is currently mechanized. That is logical if resource-conservation is a goal, since it makes more sense to replace a tractor with 10-20 people than it does to curtail the human rights of those 10-20 people in order to divert resources to run a tractor for other people.

So while human population is increasing, machine population may decrease to make its resources available for human life. This does not mean that technological progress is fading away or reversing. It just means that technology is becoming smaller and more efficient. Information technology replaces atoms with bits, in the words of Nicolas Negropante, which can be translated as information technology distributing techniques and other informational means of efficiency that reduce the ratio of resource-use to marginal-utility.

Culture actually evolves in the direction of the being able to sustain more people with the same amount or less resources, but for that to occur people have to be open to transforming their lifestyles to fully utilize newer and/or more efficient technologies. As long as they resist, you end up with culture wars of who has the right/freedom to maintain less resource-efficient culture at whose expense.
 
  • #29
Evo
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The greatest overpopulation is currently in parts of the world that cannot "locally sustain" the people.

The dream of everyone living a Utopian "locally sustainable" lifestyle would mean that the ratio of people to what they need to sustain their lifestyle would have to be restricted in order to not upset the balance.

Again, back to the need for population control.
 
  • #30
Max Faust
73
0


Quite frankly, I think it's about 20 years too late already.
It's nothing short of *baffling* that so many can't read the writings on the wall. I believe we are going to experience serious shortages of petrol within no more than 5 years from now. The wells are running dry - and this will domino towards raising the cost/effect ratio of industrial agriculture, boosting an unprecedented rise in food prices, while at the same time the insanely leveraged "financial asset" situation will create inflation. It's like a perfect storm!
 
  • #31
brainstorm
563
0


The greatest overpopulation is currently in parts of the world that cannot "locally sustain" the people.
How do you validate this statement? How can you define some parts of the world as being more overpopulated than others except with reference to resource-utilization? Are you equating density with "overpopulation?" What about less dense areas, which are nevertheless overbuilt and overrun with ecologically harmful activities, such as recreational beaches, amusement park cities, etc.?

The dream of everyone living a Utopian "locally sustainable" lifestyle would mean that the ratio of people to what they need to sustain their lifestyle would have to be restricted in order to not upset the balance.

Again, back to the need for population control.
You're assuming a conclusion prior to setting up the parameters for research. You're also assuming that "locally sustainable" living is utopian. I have read that the most growing urban form is slums. Slums or shanty towns utilize almost exclusively recycled debris to construct housing. If such areas could be improved in terms of sanitation and agricultural land-use, they could be self-sustaining with a relatively high density (i.e. low sprawl).

At the same time, there are many sprawling urban areas where the first step to densification is really to stop or at least severely limit automotive transit. Once people are getting around by foot or bicycle in such areas, space seems to expand relative to human geography, because cars not only use more space due to their size and speed, but they also scale down your perception of space as you traverse more over a shorter periods of travel.

People also can carry less by foot or by bike, which means they have to take better care of their stuff so that it lasts longer, or refurbish it instead of replacing it. This vastly increases resource conservation.

Urban gardening should be able to replace the market for most vegetables, and possibly some meat as well, although it would probably be just a few goats or cows and some chickens that are raised for fertilizer and people should at least reduce their consumption of meat to being occasional. I think grains and certain crops are more efficiently farmed by machines on a large scale, but these are more efficient to ship because they can be dried and packed into high-density containers.

If these kinds of cultural reforms were adopted, space-utilization and resource-conservation would vastly expand. At that point, it still might be a good idea to encourage cultures of small family size, but the best way to do that is to allow migration to increase urban density.

As urban density increases, people tend to value the space they have more and view small nuclear families as preferable to larger families that demand more space. This way, family planning geared toward reproductive control happens more naturally, as a choice of parents instead of public policy. It is very abstract, though, to construct population-limiting social control for people who aren't directly affected by population growth. That is the reason migration is central to cultural impetus to have smaller families.

It's not just that people in less dense areas don't feel population growth at planetary levels. It is also that people in denser areas look at less dense areas and see that there is plenty of land to expand onto. You can tell them repeatedly that their children won't be allowed to migrate onto such land but they will just see that as ethnic exclusion, which it probably is for the most part.

If you want to replace war and terrorism as the means of population control with responsible family planning, the best approach to take is to combine social-geographical cultural reforms with policies that allow densification through migration. If you want to get more heavy-handed, you could restrict new development in undeveloped areas. This way, people will learn to adapt culturally and economically to tighter land-use policies and scarcer resources.

As such, when they do continue to reproduce, which many ultimately will, the growth will have less of an impact than if they would have maintained a more deleterious culture of land-use and consumption. This reduces the pressure for war, genocide, abortion, divorce, euthanasia, health-care withholding, and other population control measures.
 
  • #32
brainstorm
563
0


Quite frankly, I think it's about 20 years too late already.
It's nothing short of *baffling* that so many can't read the writings on the wall. I believe we are going to experience serious shortages of petrol within no more than 5 years from now. The wells are running dry - and this will domino towards raising the cost/effect ratio of industrial agriculture, boosting an unprecedented rise in food prices, while at the same time the insanely leveraged "financial asset" situation will create inflation. It's like a perfect storm!
It's not a "perfect storm." It's the invisible hand of the free market setting up the game board to resolve the problem. Petrolium scarcity forecasts drive investment, which raises gas prices. As a result, businesses are rewarded for tightening their belts and designing more efficient logistics networks. All forms of replacing long-distance shipping with more local labor becomes more profitable. Local food and labor become relatively less expensive. Financial assets simply amplify all the other effects, putting the most pressure on investors to reform their business models to create more efficient industry.

The businesses that receive the most investment/resources in the future will be those that are best insulated against spikes in oil prices. Since water is rumored to be the next commodity after oil to scarcify, truly far-sighted investors will already be gaging which businesses will be insulated against future water scarcity.

Business/industry usually tends to be one step ahead of necessity, but in order for it to do so it needs to have a clear vision of the stakes. Dreams of painless population control only obfuscate such a vision. In reality, population cannot be controlled without atrocious violence and atrocious violence is an impetus for innovating industrial production and distribution practices. Why cope with wars and civil strife when you can reform economic culture and avoid the misery?
 
  • #33
Q_Goest
Science Advisor
Homework Helper
Gold Member
3,001
42


Hi mheslep,
The rate of population growth for the world is slowing. Population (not rate) is actually shrinking in many developed countries, and if not for immigration would be shrinking in many more. So the solution seems to be to encourage development.

Some examples:
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...=-315619200000&tunit=Y&tlen=48&hl=en_US&dl=en
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...d+population#met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:JPN
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...d+population#met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:DEU
http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds...=-315619200000&tunit=Y&tlen=48&hl=en_US&dl=en
I've heard this comment before - it's a very interesting observation. Superficially, it seems true, but I wonder if there are any studies that back it up. I think we have to be able to explain why this might be true and show data that not only correlates the drop in reproduction within developed countries, but also shows why that correlation holds and what might affect it.
 
  • #34
mheslep
Gold Member
317
728


First, tv shows that praise people for having 19 kids and paying all of their expenses should be stopped. We're praising people for being socially irresponsible. Sex education should be a must in all schools. We need to educate people on how overpopulation is hurting the planet and that a responsible number of children per couple is 2. There was a "zero population growth" movement in the 70's and it stuck with me. It was just educational, no rewards, no penalties, just trying to break the old way of thinking that you need a houseful of kids to be happy.
Tell it to the developing world - Africa, L. America - though I suspect they'll want to build the schools before instituting sex ed classes. There is little or no population growth from the birth rate in the US.
 
  • #35
mheslep
Gold Member
317
728


Hi mheslep,

I've heard this comment before - it's a very interesting observation. Superficially, it seems true,
What do you mean superficially? Its a fact the population growth is low or none existent for much of the developed world. If it were not for immigration the population would be shrinking even in the US. Why this is true can be debated, not that it is.

but I wonder if there are any studies that back it up. I think we have to be able to explain why this might be true and show data that not only correlates the drop in reproduction within developed countries, but also shows why that correlation holds and what might affect it.
I've always read that in the third world people have large families a) provide for the family and the tribe, and b) because women have little or no rights. Develop those countries, raise people out of poverty, and we observe these problems tend to go away.
 

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