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> The argument over population growth, Hedges and Hartman battle it out
Dingo
post Mar 14 2009, 11:29 PM
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Here I present two thoughtful writers arguing just how critical the matter of population growth is to our future. One finds it very critical, the other considers it a side show. What do you think?

Are We Breeding Ourselves to Extinction?
QUOTE
We are experiencing an accelerated obliteration of the planet's life-forms -- an estimated 8,760 species die off per year -- because, simply put, there are too many people. Most of these extinctions are the direct result of the expanding need for energy, housing, food and other resources. The Yangtze River dolphin, Atlantic gray whale, West African black rhino, Merriam's elk, California grizzly bear, silver trout, blue pike and dusky seaside sparrow are all victims of human overpopulation. Population growth, as E.O. Wilson says, is "the monster on the land." Species are vanishing at a rate of a hundred to a thousand times faster than they did before the arrival of humans. If the current rate of extinction continues, Homo sapiens will be one of the few life-forms left on the planet, its members scrambling violently among themselves for water, food, fossil fuels and perhaps air until they too disappear. Humanity, Wilson says, is leaving the Cenozoic, the age of mammals, and entering the Eremozoic -- the era of solitude. As long as the Earth is viewed as the personal property of the human race, a belief embraced by everyone from born-again Christians to Marxists to free-market economists, we are destined to soon inhabit a biological wasteland.
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Footprint data suggests that, based on current lifestyles, the sustainable population of the United Kingdom -- the number of people the country could feed, fuel and support from its own biological capacity -- is about 18 million. This means that in an age of extreme scarcity, some 43 million people in Great Britain would not be able to survive. Overpopulation will become a serious threat to the viability of many industrialized states the instant the cheap consumption of the world's resources can no longer be maintained. This moment may be closer than we think.

A world where 8 billion to 10 billion people are competing for diminishing resources will not be peaceful. The industrialized nations will, as we have done in Iraq, turn to their militaries to ensure a steady supply of fossil fuels, minerals and other nonrenewable resources in the vain effort to sustain a lifestyle that will, in the end, be unsustainable. The collapse of industrial farming, which is made possible only with cheap oil, will lead to an increase in famine, disease and starvation. And the reaction of those on the bottom will be the low-tech tactic of terrorism and war. Perhaps the chaos and bloodshed will be so massive that overpopulation will be solved through violence, but this is hardly a comfort.


Stop the Tired Overpopulation Hysteria

QUOTE
Today's population alarmists are stuck back in the 1960s when high rates of population growth made it look as if the world was experiencing a population explosion. But much has changed since then. While world population is projected to increase from 6.7 billion today to about 9 billion in 2050, the rate of growth has slowed considerably. The average number of children born to a woman in the Global South is now 2.75, and the UN predicts this figure will drop to 2.05 by 2050.

Moreover, the few countries that still have relatively high birth rates, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, have the least impact on environmental factors such as global warming. From 1950-2000, the entire continent of Africa was responsible for only 2.5% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Though it is impossible to predict exactly what world population will look like further in the future, most demographers agree we are on the path toward population stabilization with families all across the globe having two children or less. In fact, demographers tend to be more concerned these days about declining population growth and population aging than they are about too many people.

In addition to ignoring the numbers, the focus on overpopulation obscures the ways different economic and political systems perpetuate poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. It places the blame on the people with the least amount of resources and power rather than on corrupt governments and rich elites. The biggest security threat facing the world right now is the economic crisis, caused by a small coterie of greedy financiers and lax governments, ours in particular.


Questions for discussion.

Do you think addressing over population concerns is central to the issue of our future survivability or do think it is more secondary to other concerns? Explain.

If you think over population is a serious problem what changes would you make to address it?

Do you think because most of the population growth is in 3rd world countries that a lot of the expressed concern is an attempt to divert from the more predatory destruction of the planet by the major industrial states? Explain.

What level of population would you say is consistent with long term planetary sustainability? Explain.

This post has been edited by Dingo: Mar 14 2009, 11:30 PM
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Gray Seal
post Sep 30 2016, 12:35 PM
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I notice that the slope of the curve was going down before the government policy was instituted. What precipitated the drop? It looks like something other than government policy is the factor.
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LoneWisdom
post Sep 30 2016, 01:57 PM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Sep 30 2016, 08:35 AM) *
I notice that the slope of the curve was going down before the government policy was instituted. What precipitated the drop? It looks like something other than government policy is the factor.


The Iran-Iraq War which included the Human Wave Attacks where thousands died trying to clear minefields and run Iraq out of ammunition. Both sides didn't release prisoners of war for up to a decade after the war was over. Cities in ruins probably took an active role in the drop also.
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Dingo
post Sep 30 2016, 04:48 PM
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QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Sep 30 2016, 05:35 AM) *
I notice that the slope of the curve was going down before the government policy was instituted. What precipitated the drop? It looks like something other than government policy is the factor.

I'd say both. No doubt government caught the trend but still it was about 5 births per family when they instituted their family planning policy in 1989 and it went down to below 2 in a relatively short time. In my book that suggests major government influence, particularly in a tradition bound society like Iran.
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Trouble
post Sep 30 2016, 06:36 PM
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I have doubts setting any limit on population is possible in terms of social mobility and high immigration. I've observed at the state level talking about population is like filling a leaky balloon, the impetus to overcompensate could pop the situation. Then we get Trump-like figures who react to decades of poor policy making.

Do a search on health professionals and engineers and cross reference with brain drain and you will find America persuades many of Canada's best and brightest. As long as you are on the receiving end it is pleasant, we call it competition, but the moment a ceiling is reached and the educated flee like mourning doves we call it blight.

There has to be a cultural change in serving your community. Western countries have eroded cultural ties at the expense of Ayn Rand. Whether you call it nationalism or something else, the first step to population reduction is population retention. How you tackle the self interest problem is up to you.

Most governments are aware of the population bomb. If you had not noticed migration rates are up. The immigrant ratio as a percentage of the total population is also up. The statistic is not unique to America. How effective is arriving at any given number when all an immigration official needs to do is override it? What is worse any attempt at discussion opens you up to race baiting.

I will use an analogy here. Making the decision to quit smoking is not as effective after the patient has been diagnosed with cancer. Well, discussing optimal or planned carrying capacity of humans for any given piece of land is moot when various capitals are becoming largely foreign. London, Amsterdam, Gothanburg, and I would argue Detroit are cities whose original population has been replaced. Cities with high immigrant populations take on a momentum of their own and it is in direct opposition to planned population. You don't manage chaos. It is the other way around.

Therefore the problem of population becomes more complex to solve because it has more moving parts. To discuss population we must monitor and be aware of outbound flows of people. We must monitor whatever the state/province offers working professionals and where the bleed out occurs. We must also come to terms that any reduction in immigration will interpreted as racist. It doesn't matter where on the planet we are talking about. You will make people defensive.

After juggling this concept for the better part of six months, population growth will go the way of nuclear arms. It is all about a "you first" mentality" at which point the person who was first is then penalized out of existence by some other group who relies on size to push policy. Managing population growth is nice idea but it is something that works only inside ivory towers. Pray for a collapse.

This post has been edited by Trouble: Sep 30 2016, 06:39 PM
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AuthorMusician
post Sep 30 2016, 08:15 PM
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QUOTE(Dingo @ Sep 30 2016, 12:48 PM) *
QUOTE(Gray Seal @ Sep 30 2016, 05:35 AM) *
I notice that the slope of the curve was going down before the government policy was instituted. What precipitated the drop? It looks like something other than government policy is the factor.

I'd say both. No doubt government caught the trend but still it was about 5 births per family when they instituted their family planning policy in 1989 and it went down to below 2 in a relatively short time. In my book that suggests major government influence, particularly in a tradition bound society like Iran.

Family economics could have also played a role, which could be interpreted as also being tied directly to government policy. I'm thinking about the sanctions against Iran impacting the economic realities within families.

Anyway, greenhouse technologies are our future for agriculture. They can even be constructed underground, using the Earth's heat for an energy source. I suppose they could also float above the surface, held aloft with blimps. Eh, that does seem to fit the idea of blue-skying it perfectly, so probably not.


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Dingo
post Oct 3 2016, 06:40 PM
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QUOTE(Trouble @ Sep 30 2016, 11:36 AM) *
Managing population growth is nice idea but it is something that works only inside ivory towers.

You make a lot of good points. I remember back in the 60s overpopulation was a popular topic, with folks like Paul Ehrlich appearing on no less than the Johnny Carson show repeatedly. Unfortunately as you suggest special interests pursuing short term agendas have sided with growth. Since the 60s even though overpopulation has become even more a problem it's like the topic has almost been forced underground. Strangely, sane population management has been met with a fury of resistance with its advocates being called "people haters" to "baby killers" to "advocating a holocaust solution" to "putting the burden on the poor, ie class warfare" to "racial eugenics" to "attacking religion" etc. etc. It seems even so called "population experts" due to political pressures often opt for say the mechanics of population growth as being self-corrective, like say population topping out at 12 billion by 2100, to avoid the conflicts. No question that the growth of concentrated immigrant populations wanting to continue the process for understandable personal reasons is part of what undermines the notion of limits. Of course that goes with locals wanting the benefits of a large youthful labor force willing to work cheap.

Oddly population growth is about the simplest concept both to understand, I mean compound interest for goodness sake, and how it significantly affects practically all the other problems in society but we deal in a world of short term financial and emotional interests rather than longer term objective ones.

My hope is based on a study I read that said if you can get 20% of the population to take seriously a rationally developed important truth generally the other 80% will join in. The Malthusian exponential idea minus his bad predictions and reactionary politics doesn't seem that hard to internalize. Darwin made it central to his selection thesis.
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Dingo
post Oct 14 2016, 07:20 AM
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There is sometimes a tendency to refer to people who want to see a population growth turnaround as "people haters." I think that's unfair but a little bit of a misanthrope perspective is understandable as are comparisons of human growth to an ecological cancer cell. That is part of the perspective of this writer.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/10/30/ext...the-wilderness/

QUOTE
Our economic system, industrial consumer capitalism, requires constant growth, more people buying more things. “I will go so far as to say [that] capitalism itself may be dependent on a growing population,” writes billionaire capitalist blogger Bill Gross, Forbes magazine’s Bond King. “Our modern era of capitalism over the past several centuries has never known a period of time in which population declined or grew less than 1% a year.” Growth for growth’s sake, what Edward Abbey called the ideology of the cancer cell.

The biologists, who in my experience tend to loathe the Bill Grosses of the world, begin to sound like revolutionaries. The most radically inclined among them – their goal to save some part of the planet from human domination and keep it wild and free (free of bond managers for sure) – agree that human population will have to halt entirely, and probably decline, in order to protect non-human biota. Then the biologists begin to sound like misanthropes, and they shut their mouths.

“What’s wrong with misanthropy?” I ask Leon Kolankiewicz, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who has written extensively about the human population footprint and its disastrous effect on biodiversity. “The human race,” I tell him, “has proven to be a bunch of *** NOTICE: THIS WORD IS AGAINST THE RULES. FAILURE TO REMOVE IT WILL RESULT IN A STRIKE. ***.”

Kolankiewicz laughs. My attitude, he observes, is not a very good tool for marketing conservation, given that the market, after all, is made up of people. We’re supposed to make biodiversity appeal to the buyer, the public, as something useful. We talk about ecosystem services – ecosystems that service us. “It’s a completely wrongheaded approach to conservation, of course,” says Kolankiewicz. “It’s raw anthropocentrism. There’s a lot of nature that isn’t particularly useful to people.”

Industrial-strength Homo sapiens could function without much trouble on a vastly simplified, even depauperate, planet, one wiped nearly clean of its fantastic variety of life. I read in Science magazine not long ago, for example, that Earth could lose 90 percent of the species that produce oxygen – not 90 percent of total biomass, mind you, just the diversity of the oxygen producers – and this would hardly make a dent in our modern lives. One of the conservation statistics that Kolankiewicz had encountered in recent years, one that he said “just blows me away,” shows that the combined biomass of the living 7.2 billion human beings, along with the few species of animal we have domesticated – dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens – now constitutes at least 95% of the entire biomass of all extant terrestrial vertebrates on Earth. That is, all of the living specimens of wild mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, more than 20,000 species in total, constitute a mere 5% of the aggregate living cellular tissue of all vertebrates. “Almost total usurpation of the biosphere for the benefit of one species alone,” says Kolankiewicz. “It’s ecological imperialism. Given this tragic reality, how can any sentient, caring person not be a bit of a misanthrope?”


MORE TREES, LESS PEOPLE!

TOOLS FOR NEED, NOT GREED!
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