Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jul 1, 2015.
Yes, but populations grow in an exponential way, doubling and doubling and doubling........ Even if we did everything possible to feed the population, our descendants would inherit an earth where there was standing room only (and no room to grow crops). Maybe even that could be solved for a while by building high, even though people prefer to live in houses, and creating artificial foodstuffs in factories, but still the pressure would increase.
Of course, that isn't what will really happen. People who are squeezed for land resources probably ending up invading a neighbour, and war decimates populations.
There is, of course, a theory that once people get a bit richer, they don't want as many children, but that is a pretty tenuous hope to cling to. Exponential problems are awfully hard to solve.
The thing I notice whenever I've flown internationally and even more so in Australia were I'm from is the sheer vastness of space, even the farmed land using unsustainable practices, is large, even cities with all their roof space is vast. We do a lot of dumb stuff with that space, what would happen if we did something smart with all that?
If good practices can turn even desert into food growth land then where's the squeeze? We might be looking at an effect and saying its a cause and the cause may basically be a human problem, not a resource problem.
Back to this human problem, we know we end up doing many things to substitute for feelings of lack of love. So these substitutions are addictive, never satisfying (because they cant replace love), and so they tend to grow exponentially. I wonder if living under conditions of constant threat, in conditions that don't support us, where there's little to substitute for the fears of just making it through the day, that we see populations spike?
The squeeze comes when there is no more clean water...just because there's lots of vacant land in the desert doesn't mean this land could automatically become fertile with the addition of water...it's a desert for a reason. Water is becoming scarce in many parts of the world, drought is increasing and we are depleting our aquifers. (Personally, I had my tubes tied after two kids.)
If we did smart things with the space, it would get used up a little more slowly, but it would still get used up. When people worry (for example) about buried nuclear waste, they worry because some of that stuff needs to be kept safe for about 200,000 years - they feel some responsibility for the welfare of people that far in the future. Suppose we try to extrapolate world population that far ahead. It more or less doubled between 1947 and 1994 - i.e. 47 years. Left unchecked, the population would double 4,255 times in the lifetime of those radioactive isotopes, giving a total population of 6.66 x 10^1290 people! For comparison, the total number of protons in the universe has been estimated as a mere 10^82. So if it is right to worry about burying isotopes that can be dangerous for 200,000 years, why isn't it right to worry about overpopulation? I mean I would like to think that human beings can last longer than 200,000 years - but clearly we can't conceivably do so if we double our numbers every 47 years.
So tell me - how long do you want the human race to last?
In an ideal world (which we certainly don't have) we could no doubt sustain a larger population than now, but as we approach the limits, every drought or other natural disaster would produce a terrible tragedy because we would have less and less space available to move people, and food production would be reduced, at least for a while.
The world will be overpopulated. This is an inevitability unless humans quickly change the story and stop over consuming everything.
It terms of sustainability in our modern civilization ... I would recommend reading the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.
I haven't read it in over a decade but it was an eye opener for me.
David, the guy who started the concern over overpopulation was Paul Erlich. He was saying in The Population Bomb in 1968 that we'd be facing extinction by now, and he's still banging on about it despite being proved wrong:
Ehrlich became well known for his controversial 1968 book The Population Bomb, which asserted that the world's human population would soon increase to the point where mass starvation ensued. Among the measures he suggested in that book was population control, to be used in his opinion if voluntary methods were to fail. Ehrlich has been criticized for his views; for example, Ronald Bailey called Ehrlich an irrepressible doomster. On the other hand, Carl Haub observed that Ehrlich's warnings had encouraged countries to take action to avert disaster. Ehrlich has acknowledged that some of what he had written had not come about, but has restated his view that over-population remains a major problem.
Generally, I'm with you on most things, but the real agenda behind the global warming panic is concern about overpopulation. See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/07/...al-exposes-real-agenda-behind-global-warming/
If population increased exponentially, it would at some point stabilise because of increased deaths in the undeveloped world due to starvation--but that would only happen if the developed world stopped them developing. Development leads to decreases in birth rates because people no longer have to rely on large families for support, especially in old age. The often unacknowledged, unstated aim of the CO2 propaganda is to stop them developing so that they'll carry on reproducing and as many as possible of them will die of starvation.
Quite rightly, BRIC countries are telling the developed world to stuff that for a bag of chips. They want to develop themselves because they want greater prosperity. Jet-setting environmentalists are trying to tell them to remain in poverty and not go down the road we have. But environmental degradation is worst in the undeveloped world, not in the developed one, where in fact it's improving. It would also improve for them if they developed, and they know this.
Development currently involves burning carbon fuels. Environmentalist knee-jerk Luddism is proving counterproductive by trying to prevent the use of nuclear power. Ironically, that's actually increasing the use of coal in the West (not as if that's a real issue), as is the ludicrous obstruction of fracking. Western governments can't hope to stay in power if current energy policies lead to inadequate power supplies, so draconian CO2 legislation carries within it the seeds of its own demise. At some stage, faux idealism will have to be replaced by hard-nosed pragmatism. Many of us live in countries where it gets cold in winter and we need energy to survive; no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that, and at some point, we'll start telling the greenies to go stuff themselves too--it's only a matter of time. The best way to decrease population is to increase global development. But there are other ways: war, for example. Let's hope that we don't go down that route.
One way or another, equilibrium will be reached, and eventually, human beings will maintain a place in the world, whatever the price. Extreme environmentalism, focussing on the wrong targets, will help ensure that price is high. It's just a question of how soon we realise that and direct our efforts towards genuinely worthwhile environmental aims. That won't involve neglecting ourselves: we have a right to be here, as the Desiderata have it. Many environmentalists don't think we do, excepting, of course, themselves. Frankly, I despise their beliefs and behaviour.
For me, the issue is we believe we are subject to the conditions of the material world and we can’t conceive that the material world is instead subject to our condition. A big part of our condition is fear of lack and similarly a fear of not surviving and whether this fear is justifiable or not, we act on it, we live by it and of course we’re going to experience it. When we have experiments in practices like permaculture and holistic results for example that show us we can renew desert and change the local ecosystem including how much it rains there, it doesn’t matter because we instead appear to cling to a reality of scarcity and that is exactly what we get. Then we say: “see there’s just not enough, that’s just how things are, we need to fight for resources, store food and weapons to protect it all etc etc.” Then we come up with bad methods for mass food production like monoculture farming to fill in this imagine gap in resources and this starts all those unhelpful processes like desertification. We even start messing with the genetics of the plants to protect them from chemicals we spray on them that kill big chunks of the surrounding ecosystem, not conceiving of the fact they actually are there to make things thrive. It becomes this big self fulfilling prophecy, and we use the effects of what we create to justify making more of the same effects. After squeezing ourselves as a human race and after decimating the land that we might otherwise utilise to thrive, we say we have to stop population growth without realising that if we lived in harmony with each other and our surroundings the balance is naturally restored including population. So the question for me isn’t so much about how long should the human race last - as seems we might just last irrespective of the physical, the more pertinent questions for me are why is our condition as it is, how could we change it and if we determine it’s possible, why don't we want to?
It's remarkable that while people attempt to make a case for the myth of overpopulation, they're actually making an economic argument. It's a case against the means by which energy is derived and its consumption, which obviously has nothing to do with population. It's either one or the other. There's a total absence of logic. Economic systems adapt to many factors including population increases and decreases over time.
The world is not over populated and it never will be. Furthermore the idea is totally anti-human and a self-contradictory one for any person who happens to be among the living. This is just like the bullshit climate change issue. It's pure propaganda used for political purposes. Maybe instead of worrying about potential problems in some imagined future, people ought to concern themselves with real problems with real effects in the hear and now. If your concern is future humanity, see history, and discover that's always what serves the future best.
Here's a good talk by Allan Savory at a recent TED event:
Also here's a link that talks about how permaculture was used in a desert: http://permaculturenews.org/2014/02/01/desert-oasis-4-years-jordan/
Vid about it too:
Another interesting video:
Unfortunately, nobody has discussed the numbers I described, or told me if they expect the population to increase exponentially for say 200,000 years, or if not, how long they care about the human race surviving. I mean, tell me how long you want humanity to continue, and we can work out the numbers!
Michael, I do agree that the climate change idiocy is probably a sort of ersatz concern about overpopulation. Conceivably it wants to cripple the industrial base of the world so as to forcibly stop the exponential growth (to the extent that it has any ultimate rationale). That might explain the suppression of cold fusion, when you would think that this would be researched to the max to try to provide electricity without CO2. However, as I know you realise, that way will mean intense misery for the poorest in the world. Also if you make changes on the back of a lie, that will sooner or later backfire.
That really doesn't negate the danger of overpopulation. Yes, Paul Erlich was way too pesimistic, but tell me what we do when the population exceeds the number of protons in the universe! That is of course, some way off, but there are a lot of more immediate physical constraints that start to come up because this growth is exponential .Long before 200,000 years has gone by, an exponential human population would exceed the mass of the earth - which is clearly impossible.
Is it really such an ask that couples limit their children to 2 or 3 to keep the earth viable and beautiful far into the future?
Obviously, it could be that some huge new discovery - quite possibly of a psychic nature - would remove the constraints for ever, but do you want to depend on that?
I don't know if you are right or not concerning the overpopulation being a great threat, David. The reason why I hesitate is that, although the world population has had an over all exponential growth rate, this does not seem to be the only natural way forward. For instance, in developed countries the birth rate has substantially dropped. And this seems to happen without anyone making some kind of birth restrictions. So instead of viewing the overpopulation as the cause of poverty, it seems to me that one might easily come to the conclusion that poverty is the cause of overpopulation (as alkhemst mentioned above).
But I think that, of course, it is good to look at what is viable far into the future.
David, there is currently around 1 acre per person of arable land. That, plus sea and lake productivity is what ultimately poses limits on the human population: quite where the limits are, I can't say, but plainly, we can't go on doubling every generation for very long.
The best strategy, incurring the least misery, is to increase the rate of global development, so that people don't feel they need to have many children. Environmentalists are effectively attempting to block that development, and hence exacerbating the situation: but it's asymmetric, because the developed world would have the best survival chances.
Despite talk of worrying about the poor, green policies couldn't be better designed to eliminate the poor, whose death rates will always be greater than amongst the rich. The solution is to increase prosperity as uniformly as possible without continuing with gross disparities in the distribution of wealth.
Will oil run out? Not if it's abiotic in origin--the jury's still out on that, but there's still lots of coal, and of course fracking. Even if none of that applied, there's nuclear power and possibly cold fusion, not to mention other developments in energy production that we can't yet predict (wind and solar simply don't work). We shouldn't be prematurely pessimistic.
Overpopulation or not, we have a potential escape for all the people who want more place to live than our little planet - the cosmos, the outer space. During the mid-20th century, we needed only a few years to progress from a first artificial orbital satellite to a first manned space flight to a Moon Expedition... And then the progress stopped. After the last flight to the Moon in 1971 - the one which had Edgar Mitchell among the crew and led to his mystical experience and subsequent foundation of the Institute of Noetic Sciences by him - we haven't got beyond the Earth orbit anymore. 44 years have passed, and we still cannot move further.
Nowadays, in the cuture of paranoia which supressed the earlier culture of exploration, authorities waste their time (and our money) spying on everyone via Internet and "fighting radicalisation" wherever possible. Have they forgotten that the previous "radical" epoch, 1960s- 70s, has brought us to the Moon and back, nearly succeeded in igniting the Consciousness Revolution (which was later largely supressed) and led to the unprecedented liberalisation of society and humanisation of culture?! Apparently, our Big Men do not want any more of these progressive stuff... And yet, despite their efforts, the wave of "radicalisation" getting stronger and stronger any year. The new era of upheaval is coming - and I can only hope that its actors would be able to recall the libertarian and humanistic drive which was characteristic of the older one.
As you surely know, I am not a supporter of environmentalists as they now operate, but you need to understand the danger of overpopulation. Even if we got most of the world to feel sufficiently well off that they didn't feel the need to over-reproduce, unless we persuaded almost everyone, those that were left could still overwhelm us.
You seem to acknowledge that the present rate of expansion is unsustainable - because with a doubling every 47 years, we would multiply our population by 1000 in just 500 years! That is my main point - we can't just go on expanding exponentially.
Someone mentioned space. Well OK, but how long would it take to tera-form Mars - a good deal longer than the 47 years it would take to double our population! Then there is the problem of actually lifting that many people off earth! You can't assume all those problems will get magicked away by technology!
David, where are you getting this information from? Have you read any of the stuff on the UN population division statistics? It's a rich site, with some great info, have you read the projections? We have birth control now you know? ...and fertility rates decline as countries develop, reasons are unclear - but what is known is that women stop having children earlier in their life, or start having them later. We've got population growth mainly because mortality rates drop in populations of undeveloped countries as they move towards becoming developed countries - people begin living longer.
Too low a birth rate and we're in trouble, just like the decline the UK had, and in 1999/2000 Labour had to let in a lot of economic migrants to stave off a looming problem. Birth rates are back up now, but only because of births to mothers who were not born in the UK (i.e. the economic migrants).
Have you looked at UN statistics on land usage for agriculture? The potential for bringing land into operation for agriculture is massive, and what's already in use is no where near efficiently utilised.
I would like humanity to continue indefinitely because we have an amazing opportunity to discover, grow and learn and do so in ways that are harmonious with each other and our surroundings. We have experimented quite a bit already with the how far we can led ourselves into suffering, at some point it might be a good idea to try another direction I feel.
It's not even a physical possibility to indefinately expand population exponentially. The rate of growth depends on adequate availability of food, shelter and water, which we'd have far more of if we did smarter things like I outlined above. So how exactly is it a problem? Is it "overpopulation" that causes suffering or do we by our choices cause suffering? I'm not convinced it's the former. But I'm led to believe there's more behind the concept as mentioned. Here's more on that: http://www.prisonplanet.com/the-population-reduction-agenda-for-dummies.html
This appears a more logical way of looking at why "overpopulation" is a myth:
See the whole playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZVOU5bfHrM&list=PLJ-jeW7OZAnFGlVhXK69omsDZYJeDOQqE
What the heck do you think beavers are for?
Separate names with a comma.