[Humanitarian Politics?] So yesterday was World Population Day

It would seem that the focus is to promote awareness of the impacts to everything earthly and vital from the perpetual expansiveness of human settlement.

It also seems to largely be elephant in the room, and a pretty taboo one at that. However, a few places are willing to acknowledge that concern is warranted and furthermore, should be more-so than even climate change.

Awareness of the need for population control and true family planning doesn't mean having to sound like an evil, heartless cretin. It simply means understanding that everything has its limits.

Your thoughts?

People have been generating more useful resources than they consume since the invention of agriculture. To think that we may run out of natural resources before the sun burns out is a fundamental misunderstanding of the conservation of matter. This might become less convenient if we keep scraping the easy stuff off the surface and tossing our trash into big piles, but people will learn and overcome that just like every other challenge humanity has overcome. Overpopulation isn't an issue.

Are you telling me I've been annually sharpening my beloved culling scythe for no reason whatsoever?

The world is overpopulated, but it's simplistic to say that it's the be all and end all of the world's ecological crises. There's a formula that goes I=PAT, or "Impact = Population x Affluence X Technology." So, for instance, China has more GHG emissions than the US, but the US has more GHG emissions per capita. India comes in at #3, but the US has 8x more GHG emissions per capita than India.

So, overpopulation is a problem, but it's a problem that's as much an issue in the developed world as the developing world. To reduce impact, we need to reduce population, affluence, and/or technology. Or, ideally, all three. Best case scenario is a world with as few people as possible, living the best lives possible, with minimal impact.

I've seen lots of predictions for the future of human population, ranging from figures as high as 16 billion by the end of the century to the idea of a population crash beginning by mid-century. A number of countries are shrinking, while various African nations have exceptionally high fertility rates (e.g. Nigeria). What worries me in a sense is that the question of whether the world can sustain so many humans ignores that there's no such thing as a free lunch. If the world has that many humans, the rest of Earth's biosphere can't help but suffer as a result. So when people lament falling fertility rates in the developed world, I can only say "good." Because whatever short-term economic hardship a shrinking population has for a country, it's preferable to long-term ecological destruction.

In essence, consumption and population need to be reduced hand in hand. If everyone on the planet had the same standard of living as the US, we'd need three Earths to support it. If we want everyone to have that standard of living, then it's been calculated that the world population couldn't exceed 2 billion. Frankly, I have little hope considering that not only do we need to reach net zero emissions, but have to go carbon negative as well to avoid catostrophic climate impacts. And that's in addition to a rising population, plus rising standards of living, plus rising emissions. We're headed to the cliff, and all we've done so far is tap our foot against the brake.

Meanwhile the Eugenicists, Malthusians, and the Church of Euthanasia are talking about the coming collapse and urging people to slow its coming.

The only solution for overpopulation is economic prosperity. It happened in Europe, U.S., and now Asia. When people have demanding jobs, and living expenses are high, and there is constant pressure to perform and distractions are plenty; the birth rate will plummet. No contraceptive is as effective as individualism. The horn and central Africa and parts of the middle-east ofcourse don't have that luxury. Countries primarily locked in perpetual conflict with people having little to no economic opportunities and with conservative, religious dogmas the population grows out of control. In the next 50 years or so it's another disaster waiting to happen. So yeah, aging populations in the west(espescially Europe) will have their societies in decline but as long as they still exist their welfare states will remain a huge pull for the, mostly, young Arab and African men from destitute countries. This will ferment more unrest in societies that in all honesty can't even function anymore without immigration.

As far as the environment goes the damage inflicted has already passed the point of no return. Many scientists no longer look how to prevent it but how humans will be able survive in a drastically altered climate. There is already tremendous loss of biodiversity and nature and the disastrous effects of climate change melting all of the ice in the world has already made it's consequence known. That is not to say transfer to eco-friendly energy, reduced carbon footprint and lifestyle changes isn't still important ofcourse, but we are well beyond warnings at this point.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here