The Herd of Elephants In The Room – Sustainable World Population.

85


Discussion by: CdnMacAtheist


One of many websites on this issue
http://www.worldpopulationbalance.org/3_times_sustainable



I have not seen much discussion here on
RDFRS on the subject of sustainable population projections,
or on the ways to attain the necessary reduction in population that
is needed for a viable future for Humanity past the year 2100. Most
predictions on sustainable LONG-term population size is between 1.5
to 2 billion humans.


I think that the main reason is that
the path we are on is now so scary that we are unwilling to
contemplate the outcomes, and are therefore more concerned and
vociferous about the many symptoms that are the result of this core
problem.


One of the main reasons that I am an
anti-theist is that when I was a Scottish teenager in the 1960′s I read
about the Club of Rome and their predictions about ‘The Limits To
Growth’. As a secular humanist by upbringing, I read more and came
to understand that the main barrier to limiting, or reducing, global
population was societal ignorance and avoidance of the implications –
attitudes driven by all the main religion businesses, which strive to
increase their own group size so they can outnumber the others in their
quest for survival and domination - thus driving me to become a convinced
atheist, then a strong anti-theist.


These policies include the intransigent
opposition to equality of women, banning of contraception &
abortion, state subsidies for producing children, religious
indoctrination & education, religious interference or domination
in local, regional & federal governments, and religiously
infected state policies & laws.


We are becoming more aware of the
consequences and implications of doing essentially nothing for the
past 50 years since humanity became aware of our life-threatening
trajectory, but we are consumed with kicking around the symptoms and
mostly avoiding the overpopulation problem that drives all our
mounting issues – whether they be CO2 production, climate change,
resource depletion, water and oil depletion, desertification,
deforestation, fishery collapses, ocean acidification, contamination from waste products
& effluence, extinction of species, along with various conflicts and wars
exacerbated by very dense societies.


How can we as a secular community make
our voices heard more about this core problem, without being deemed
to be just a bunch of doomsayers?

85 COMMENTS

  1. The problem with population control is that most people derive profound happiness from parenting children. Any attempt to interfere with this is seen as a suppression of human rights and an intolerable cruelty. Yet the problem of human overpopulation remains as THE critical issue in managing the earth and the biosphere we all depend on. A modification in human instincts to parenting would need to happen, and as this is based on our core evolved behavioural response to the environment, is unlikely. I find it difficult to imagine how a government with a policy to control human breeding could hold office for the time needed to be affective.

    This is the Blue Whale in the room of human affairs and I fear that it’s solution will be both dire and brutal.

  2. Global population is expected to reach between 7.5 and 10.5 billion by 2050. What the hell is the plan exactly that we need that many people for? I just don’t see the point. Today’s parents tell their kids they love them more than anything in the world but what’s really happening is they’re just being groomed to deal with all the mess in the future and get nothing but leftovers for it. It’s the weirdest form of affection I’ve ever seen. 

  3. “Most predictions on sustainable LONG-term population size is between 1.5 to 2 billion humans.”

    what’s that estimate based on?? Sounds very arbitrary.

    To be clear, im not advocating population increases forever, im just saying that the carrying capacity of the earth is not a fixed number, it increases as our technology improves.

    With innovations, it becomes easier to Feed, clothe and house our population.

    India and China are now feeding populations that were once considered impossible.

    Its not fashionable these days to be optimistic about the future, but imagine in the coming century, cheap/clean Nuclear fusion, molecular manufacturing, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology.

    These will have huge impacts and dramatically reduce the environmental footprint need to sustain each individual human.

  4. The problem is that the Earth is perfectly capable of supporting many more billions of humans for many years, but at the expense of all other wildlife. Technological advances will make it easily possible for a future population of 20 billion plus humans to be reasonably well fed and enjoy a decent standard of living, but there will be no wild places left, many fewer species and no large species at all except possibly in some small reserves.

    If we follow our normal political habit, we will do nothing until real problems are in our (human) faces – and that will be long after all the animals have gone.

    I am extremely pessimistic about this – please tell me I am wrong someone.

  5. The ‘technology can solve anything’ claim was popular 40 years ago but those Pollyanna experts have crawled back under their stones. For one thing, uneven distribution of resources negates it. You are not wrong- there’s no answer, populations will explode until nature imposes corrections via food and water crises followed by mass starvation and resource wars. 
    Self-interest will prove fatal to our species, whether by individuals, business or government

  6. Nuclear fusion- as likely as interstellar travel, IMO. Cheap? You are kidding, right? 
    I fear the tipping point of climate change has been passed & we will struggle to maintain current populations. 
    Short term self-interest of powerful lobbies has guaranteed that little can be done

  7. Personally, I think all govts would need to do is offer more incentives and benefits to those who remain childless or only have 1 child, coupled with a real push on education and contraception and the legalisation of assisted suicide. No force needed and only those who want/can afford children will have them. Unfortunately society is geared towards having kids and benefits those who have them. Much of the pressure to have kids is societal rather than biological. Wanting to be ‘normal’, to not ‘miss out’, to work the fields, to look after you when you’re old etc. It is the drive to have sex which is more powerful. Pregnancy used to be the unavoidable outcome of having sex – but contraception results in women choosing to have fewer or no kids. Having kids is perceived as joyful and transcendent but the reality can be somewhat different – particularly for women. If it really was so great then children would not be abused and abandoned as frequently as they are. There are lots of taboos about admitting this. Religion plays a massive role in perpetuating the ‘sanctity’ of the child and the all-sacrificing mother and wants to breed lots of followers and holy armies. Geert Wilders asserts that Islamists want to take over by stealth by outbreeding the local population – so women must be controlled and kept as brood mares. Catholics are obsessed with contraception and abortion. Hitch was right – female emancipation is the key – and that is why the battle against religious control is a serious one.

  8. I don’t know if my circle of acquaintances is typical but the most intelligent, far thinking, companionate people I know don’t tend to have children whereas the rat-racing, right wing blinkered thinkers have families. Is this Darwinian selection in action?

  9. I don’t know where you live, but in the UK, the white, educated, middle class has almost completely stopped having children regardless of their voting habits. If it wasn’t for immigration and the children of immigrants, the UK population (and throughout Europe too, I think) would be falling dramatically. In fact up to 2000, our population was only increasing very slowly. Since then, under what must have been a deliberate policy of the Labour Government, we have seen over 3m new immigrants to the UK that we know of. And of course, no one really knows about the children and grand children of immigrants because that is not discussed, being politically incorrect. But what the stats do say, I think, is that England (not the UK in total) is now the most densely populated country in Europe. Immigrants generally vote Labour.

  10. To all the prophets of doom,
    these predictions, mass famine, resource wars etc, have been around for decades, its now 2013, where is Peak oil? where are the mass famines? where is the runaway population growth?

    In fact the opposite is happening, Population growth is slowing and actually reversing in developed areas like Japan and Europe, population growth in the US is driven mainly by immigration and that is slowing too.

    You dont need coercion, when women are economically empowered they generally choose to have less children, this trend is being seen all over the world.

    UN predicts peak population at about 10 Billion by 2050, thats only 2.5 Billion more than we have now, a lot of people yes, but not a catastrophe. 

    As for technological solutions, thanks to Fracking, US CO2 emissions are down to 1990 levels and falling fast as coal plants are displaced by gas.
    fracking is not perfect, its the lesser of 2 evils, its much better than burning coal.
    http://news.discovery.com/eart

    As for Peak oil, There is no sign of it, US is set to pass Saudi Arabia in oil production in the next few years.
    http://www.energyandcapital.co

    Oil will of course run out, but it seems we have a few more decades to switch to Electric vehicles, renewable energy and nuclear power.

    we even seem to have hit peak farmland since our agricultural productivity gains are increasing faster than our population, this means more free land for wild habitat

    http://www.rationaloptimist.co

    Also increasing urbanisation means that the average population density is increasing, for the first time in history more of us live in cities than country side, city dwellers have a smaller ecological footprint, again this means more land for wild habitat.but by all means, dont let a little thing like facts get in the way of the gloom.if you want to challenge anything i have said please provide some evidence.

  11. You talk as if the only solution was to have the government mandate how many children you can have. That’s not at all the case, there are many things that can be done that aren’t nearly as draconian that most people could eventually accept. E.g., in the US there are all sorts of tax benefits associated with having children. The laws could be changed so that (starting with all new births so existing families aren’t impacted) you get tax credits for the first 1-2 kids but after that you don’t and perhaps you even start getting taxed more (e.g. for schools). 

    There are many simple things that can be done to educate people to the problem. And they aren’t all negative either, doing more to promote adoption for example as opposed to having your own children. One consistent fact about education in general is that an increase in education of women is almost always associated with a decrease in the birth rate. 

    BTW. I don’t agree that population is the only or even the main problem. There are other related issues and most studies that I see for example on hunger show that the problem isn’t too many people and not enough food but simply that the people that need it often can’t afford it or get access to it. But regardless, I agree that changing our population curve is something we must do to deal with problems like climate change and that the scary truth from history is if we don’t do things to decrease our population through birth control nature will do it for us via wars, disease, and famine. 

  12. China’s 1 child policy must have had a significant effect but apart from that, 3rd world population is still growing explosively; true, wealth, education, industrialisation all reduce family sizes. 
    http://library.thinkquest.org/… 
    The United Nations Population Fund predicts that by the middle of the next century, the world’s population will stabilize at about 14 million people. Overpopulation has been disastrous for the planet.  Greater populations have polluted and consumed more, ruining the environment and creating or intensifying a variety of problems.  Also, with the food supply limited, increases in population make shortages in many parts of the world even worse.
    Mass famine has occurred with disturbing regularity in recent years-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L

    Peak Oil- contentious, too many variables? For the doubters- 
    U.S. the New Saudi Arabia? Peak Oilers Scoff
    By Peter Coy on November 12, 2012The U.S. is set to increase oil production so much that it will overtake Saudi Arabia and become the world’s biggest producer by around 2017, the International Energy Agency said today.The reaction from “peak oil” theorists? Not a chance. They continue to argue that the surge in U.S. production coming from shale oil and shale gas is a flash in the pan. Before long, they say, U.S. output will start falling again—as will global output.

    Who do we choose to believe? It would be prudent to take the worst case scenario, surely? 
    It is undeniable that the compounding effects of overpopulation are very threatening to our future; pushing rose-tinted optimism can only make things worse. Very much akin to climate change denial…

  13. Firstly please don’t compare me to the climate change
    deniers, they ignore science because it’s at odds with their political ideology,
    unlike them I’m completely open to correction if someone provides reasonable evidence.

     

    Secondly I’m not saying everything is rosy, just that from
    the trends I’m seeing they are not catastrophic.

     

    Your reference for 14 Billion seems very old, especially
    since its referring to “next century”

     

    From what I can see, most estimates I can find from credible
    sources state 9 to 11 Billion by 2050

     

    http://www.worldwatch.org/node

     

    As for the list of famines, I don’t deny that famines have occurred;
    I’m Irish so I’m acutely aware of the history of famine in my own country and
    the fact that it was not caused by a lack of food, the country continued to
    export food for 3 years as a million people starved to death.

     

    I’m just saying that the mega famines that were being
    popularly predicted have thankfully failed to materialise.

     

    Famines are often complex phenomena caused by many factors, rarely
    is a famine caused exclusively by drought and crop failure alone, corruption, mismanagement
    and especially war play a key role.

     

    This is clear in famines such as in China
    and the Soviet Union in the  20th century which were due to disastrous
    mismanagement and more recently Somalia
    and Sudan where
    famines were largely caused by civil war

     

    As for the peak oil thing, I find it hard to believe that
    shale oil/gas is a flash in the pan especially as the technology is developing
    so rapidly and having such a huge effect.

    I guess we will have to wait and see, personally I favour moving
    away from fossil fuels as fast as possible.

     

    The earth has got lots of serious environmental problems, I
    want to see the environment protected but credibility is lost if we exaggerate
    the problem.

  14. When I submitted this Discussion, I had a quick look at some opinions & data available by entering ‘Sustainable Human Population’ into my Google Browser.  The link I entered in my post was the first one that came up, and it’s from 2007, but there is 87 pages of links, none of which am I connected to or specifically supporting.

    My ’1.5 to 2 Billion’ amount is based on what many estimates are for a world population living at the level of average US citizens, whereas for average UK Citizens it would be about 3 Billion.  This is because these 2 countries exceed the average per capita world resource usage by factors of 4 & 3.  If the world used up limited or non-replaceable resources at the rate of a 3rd world citizen, then the figure would be up around 5 Billion – but IMHO that wouldn’t be a very healthy, happy, or peaceful, population.

    I’m 62, so I won’t be around when most of the shit hits the fan, but my 25 year old son is in for a difficult time.  As a somewhat rational & concerned dad, I feel that too many of us are avoiding the consequences of our lifestyles with all the blinkered, dogmatic wishful thinking that we dislike so much in our faith-infected neighbours.

    There are many issues for the RDFRS community to be actively concerned about, but I see most of them as symptoms of the big problem, which is the world overpopulation we are already deep into.  I’m as pessimistic about this issue as I am about religion disappearing any time soon, but I’m not giving up on that either, for equally good Reason, so what can we do about it?  Mac….

  15. The best way to combat population growth is actually better education. There is a clear (anti)correlation between the level of education of a woman and the numberof children she will bear (on average) in her lifetime. I don’t have the numbers at hand but I remember research has shown numbers like typical 5 to 8 kids for woman with no education at all, to 1 or 2 kids at university level. This also seems to be largely indepent of culture  (it holds in Italy as well as in India).
    Also a better education will make people also more resilient against the outrages of their relegion (if any), so I think this would be very much in line with an atheist view of a better future.

  16. The problems of a large populations are poverty, which includes famine, disease and lack of health care. These are no worse now than in the 60s when the population was 3.5 billion. Poverty was not caused by population growth but by inequality between states and within states. It its simplest terms, we have always had enough food in the world to feed everybody, but not distributed equally. 

  17. There is a debate about the effect of changing populations on the economy of nations.

    Some economists say that developed countries need rising populations so that there are enough young people paying tax to fund welfare and pensions for the old. This seems to me not too different from couples in developing countries having large families to look after them in their old age. Some politicians here in Scotland have said that we should try to attract more immigrants north of the border for just that reason.

    I’m not so sure it is a simple as that. History has shown that working people do better when the population is low. In Europe those labourers and craftsmen who survived the bubonic plague were in great demand and were able to negotiate decent wages and conditions. Rich people tend to do well when there is a high population, lots of desperate people willing to become servants and factory workers for starvation wages.

    When populations are rising Governments have to spend huge sums of money on schools and infrastructure projects to cope with the rising demand (would the third runway at Heathrow or the Crossrail project be necessary if the population of the south of England was steady or declining?). There is also the effect on rents and property prices. Declining population means declining housing costs – great for working people with no assets, not so great for the middle classes who expect to make money from inflating house prices.

  18.  It seems to me that there are a couple of ways to look at this issue. The first is the macro way, to say that natural selection is as relevant in our age as in any other, and that overpopulation will resolve itself when the available resources are insufficient. This occurs in the natural world. It is not an empathetic, humane viewpoint, nor does it allow for useful developments resulting from intelligence.

    Which brings me to another way of looking at it, which is that in order to avert diminishment of the species, other species and resources we should apply intelligent developments to the matter. If technology and reason were the only human developments that could be applied it would be a simpler problem. But there are others that make the issue far more complex: religions.

    I have read a couple of books about changing demographics in Europe, Canada and the US. In Europe in particular, Muslim families are reproducing at far greater rates than non-Muslim families. We all know the Catholic position on proactive birth control. The human cultures that place greatest value on broadly accessible education and planning will, over time, make up a smaller proportion of the population, and become of less influence. Religions that promote a multiply-and-conquer philosophy will never be persuaded to adopt policies to curb growth, no matter the incentive. Following China’s example of a national mandate opens up ethical dilemmas–how many female babies were murdered in China over the years?  (This is, of course, not as relevant with today’s wide availability of ultrasound.) Does a nation force women to have abortions, and what does this do to the ‘right to choose’ which is so highly prized by today’s society?

  19. Hi CdnMacAtheist,

     

    I can see you are sincere in your beliefs, as am I, but I feel
    that you are misguided.

     

    I notice in your main article that you say the club of Rome
    were an inspiration to you as a teenager.

     

    I suggest that you re-read their dire predictions from the 1972
    book “limits to Growth”

     

    They were consistently wrong about almost every prediction.

     

    “Limits to Growth” said total global oil reserves amounted
    to 550 billion barrels. “We could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in
    the entire world by the end of the next decade,”

     

     

    “The Club of Rome made similarly wrong predictions about
    natural gas, silver, tin, uranium, aluminium, copper, lead and zinc. In every
    case, it said finite reserves of these minerals were approaching exhaustion and
    prices would rise steeply. In every case except tin, known reserves have
    actually grown since the Club’s report; in some cases they have quadrupled.”

     

    http://www.economist.com/node/

     

    Of course resources are finite on earth, but with a few
    exceptions like Uranium and fossil fuels, every other resource can be recycled
    (unless we fire the material into space)

     

    The steel from the world trade centre wreckage was recycled
    and send to China
    to make new cars.

     

    The 1-2 billion sustainable population numbers are based on
    similarly faulty reasoning as the club of Rome
    predictions.

     

    Ecological footprint of a human depends on 2 factors

    1. Standard
    of living
    2. Technology
    used to deliver that standard of living

     

    They assume the standard of living rises dramatically but
    with no change at all to the technology used to produce that standard of
    living, this is simply not realistic.

     

    Think about just two technologies; Electric Vehicles and
    Solar power.

     

    The cost of both is falling as mass production ramps up.

     

    By 2050 when we hit population peak, the majority of cars
    will be electric, considering that there are several billion cars in the world,
    this alone will have a staggeringly positive effect on the environment.

     

    By the end of the century it is reasonably to assume we get
    the majority of our power from solar and other non fossil fuel sources, again
    having a massively positive effect on the environment, enormously reducing the average
    eco-footprint of each human

     

     

    Unless we have a nuclear war or other disaster, the population
    will not return to 2 billion for several centuries.

     

    And no, I don’t think that Famines will force the population
    down to 2 billion, mainly because our agricultural yields are rising faster
    than our population.

     

    http://www.rationaloptimist.co

     

     

    So what should we do??
    I believe we should work hard to develop the technologies
    that minimise the eco-footprint of each individual person.

     

    If we continue decade after decade to make dire and
    demonstrably wrong predictions then no one will listen when we highlight real
    environmental emergencies such as climate change and mass species extinction.

     

    I believe as environmentalists we should focus on protecting
    the things that really cannot be replaced, such as biodiversity and wild
    habitats.

    Anyway thats my rant over for today, feel free to disagree :)

  20. We should make a distinction between the effects of a rising human population on humans versus the effects on the rest of the world’s inhabitants.

    I’m with TimmyDodger on this as far as humans are concerned. Despite numbers approaching 7 billion, humans do feed themselves and enjoy a much higher living standard than the 3 billion did in the 50s. I can see that trend continuing.

    But the cost to wildlife has been incalculable. In Africa and South America especially, loss of wilderness due to population encroachment has devasted species and numbers. Did anyone see the David Attenborough mini series on Madagascar? It was a classic case of a growing human population destroying wild habitat. Many biologist believe we may be at the beginning of a 6th mass extinction of species – one brought about by human activity.

    So what’s to be done? My view is that we should start creating large human-free zones and allow them to return to the wild. I’d depopulate Madagascar entirely. And if you think that’s going to be tough, I’d also de-populate the whole of Great Britain and Ireland. In the case of the latter, before I left, I’d reintroduce wolves and bears. Then we would need a vast chunk of the S American rainforest protected, a vast area in North America, and so on round the world. Smaller areas could be designated as wildlife “islands” inbetween to allow some wildlife movement. I believe this is the best and most long term cost efficient way of saving most of the planet’s wildlife. Humans can do what they like in their bits although some controls would be needed to avoid atmospheric and water polution upsetting basic global systems.

    By the way, I have no children and I am leaving all my assets to a trust fund which will use the income generated by my assets to buy land and do nothing with it. It could be land in the UK or Australia or anywhere. I won’t be around, but I’m hoping to have enough spare cash to start the ball rolling in my lifetime. Mind you, I’ll need a lot to buy up the whole of the UK and Ireland – whose with me?

  21. Malthus is dead. Long live Ragnar Redbeard!

    Technology has already allowed us to exceed all previous food limitations, and there is no limitation to our current food production. The only reason there is starvation is distribution difficulties, whether those be capitalistic or statist. Food scarcity is artificial and we are nowhere near testing it. The optimum carrying capacity of this planet is trillions of humans, and given birth rates drop as societies industrialize (women become educated), that’s not going to happen.

    The Malthusian dilemma is obsolete and there is no consensus on overpopulation being a problem, aside from how our political-economic systems function. As always, the problem is a lack of intelligence in our mass functions.

    How we populate this planet is the question. Polluting as we have been is unsustainable, but there will be an app for that. The surge of human population reflected advances made in technology, but we are leveling off. We are finding our balance, and it isn’t always pretty. We make mistakes venturing into new territory, but one way or another we will find a balance, just as any other species does… with the ability to infuse the soil with atmospheric nitrogen and grow sausages in petri dishes using solar panels.

  22. In a conversation, a European friend pointed out how Americans see oil differently than them. Europeans see it as a mineral, like iron or copper. As cultural observation I have a hard time verifying this, but they were right. I don’t see oil as a mineral, but as a biogenic goo, which is a flawed and essentialist way of looking at things. In a casual survey I’ve asked people if they consider oil a mineral, and they say no because it is made of plants (which is often true but hydocarbons also form under pressure without life).

    This romantic and scientifically incorrect notion of oil fuels the sense of crisis. I’m not even saying there isn’t a crisis, but I don’t hear resounding alarm over peak helium or lithium. For that matter, who’s minding the xenon?

  23. Fair enough. My Denier remark was intended to address the thought process, not you particularly; in support of the ‘prudent’ option. 
    As for the 14 Bn, that is from The United Nations Population Fund estimate. So far into the future, how reliable? Probably not, but devil’s advocate needs an airing! 
    Shale O+G and tar sands have enormous environmental problems and WILL accelerate climate change so are very undesirable. 
    Famine- the causes are irrelevant, it is a live ongoing part of the human experience and will get worse, specially with loss of arable land and water supplies from global warming. What would you consider as a “Mega Famine”? Many millions have starved in single events, is that ‘mega’ enough??

    If there is a single technology which could transform our energy demands I think it is most likely to be nuclear via thorium, in LFTR reactors. It has so many advantages one wonders why it was not pursued after research in the 1960′s; as a cynic I have to say that uranium fission reactors prevailed due to military pressures for nuclear weapons using plutonium as the waste product.

  24. ‘timmydodger’ quotes  http://www.rationaloptimist.co

    Well, Matt Ridley has been thoroughly discredited-http://thinkprogre… 

    And this is my point; having a pollyanna-hopeless-optimist-view is not only ridiculous but dangerous. Example- these statements-  “there is no limitation to our current food production” and  “carrying capacity of this planet is trillions”. Frankly I can’t believe a rational person would make such patently false claims; where is the research to substantiate them? Sorry but there it is.

    We need to be realists. Fantasies don’t help.

  25. Hi timmydodger:  

    I don’t consider my understanding of what the best scientific minds were predicting 40 years ago to be “beliefs” or “inspiration”, but that much smarter & more educated minds were looking at data & making calculations about the future of life on Earth.  I think they were realistically making judgements based on the best methods & knowledge at that time.

    The fact that their oil reserves time-frames were off by 50 years due to our use of modern technologies – with very serious side-effects that are playing out & adding up – does not negate their predictions in the LONG-term (by which I mean centuries, not decades.)  

    Your  first link is from 1997, and we have learned a lot in the last 15 years, so look at more recent data to see what the consensus is now on the issues mentioned in my ‘Discussion’.  World population has doubled since ‘The Limits To Growth’, and has added 1.3 billion since 1997, so things are changing fast, with very complex interactions that are hard to predict – just like Climate Change.

    I see the biggest problem not as food or energy production, but the toxic byproducts & effluence that is produced by them, and the irreversible damage to intricate food chains from overuse & contamination.  That is what scientists try to account for when they calculate ‘carrying capacity’, which shows that the most advanced societies are by far the most harmful to the natural systems we depend on.

    You mention ‘electric vehicles’ to replace oil powered vehicles when we run out of oil around 2050 – but vehicles use a huge amount of oils to produce them, not just power them, and where do you think all that electricity will come from – I’m a very involved ‘car guy’ into small, light & efficient vehicles, so I follow that industry closely.

    Nuclear power generation is on a downturn after the Japanese disaster, and both Thorium & Fusion power generation is a long way off – if it ever becomes viable.  I spent years supplying to & being employed by the CANDU nuclear power generation industry, so I know a little about that.

    Tidal, Solar & Wind power generation looks very promising, and need to be ramped up asap before we run short of the oils needed in their manufacturing processes.

    Here in Ontario, we’re in the top 10 consumers, trashmakers & polluters, so I’m a guilty party, despite having 1 child & reducing my ‘footprint’ a great deal in the past 15 years. Being Scottish, I’m used to ‘living small’ & traveling less than typical North Americans.

    You said “So what should we do?? I believe we should work hard to develop the technologies that minimize the eco-footprint of each individual person.”  I would change that statement a bit, and substitute ‘social attitudes’ for ‘technologies’.

    I’ll echo your last words and say – that’s my rant over for today, feel free to disagree….

  26. Perhaps the percentage of those going without has not changed, but the actual number of mouths -to-feed has. The raw numbers of those living in appalling conditions is ever growing.
    These states to which you refer, generally justify their lack of equality by some form of religious rhetoric. You know the stuff; women are “shamed” if they stay at school longer than 5th grade etc. there’s always a reason to keep the downtrodden in their place.
    It’s obvious to us that large families equal lack of resources and a lifetime of poverty, however when a population is largely ignorant of conditions away from their narrow sphere, nothing is going to change.

  27.  Hi Timmy, word has it that we passed peak oil for both global consumption and for the United States consumption some time ago.

    Here is a link to the Peak Oil Committee commissioned to produce a report for the Department of Energy
    http://www.naep.org/peak-oil-c

    Two International Monetary Fund economists have produced a working paper on the global peak problem that examines 6 scenarios, assuming we are riding the “plateau” before the downward slide.
    http://www.imf.org/external/pu

  28. My reply to this would be to continue and monitor each person’s footprint. This includes the footprint you have on resources, access to medicine, how you impact society, your immediate community, how you impact fish and wildlife and other creatures, your carbon footprint, how you impact air quality in general, your impact on water quality, how energy efficient you are, your trash footprint, your property footprint, your contribution footprint and your selfishness footprint. In general, it does not matter how much oil we have (it is not renewable anyway) or how much water we have, we will reach a limit. That limit may have nothing to do with land. It may be culture or religious based. We could engage in large nuclear based wars in the name of ethnic cleansing or to stop terrorism. We could kill ourselves with disease by not having enough medicine or by creating new diseases through our increased use of antibiotics or GM crops. Who knows? We sure don’t. And guess what, we don’t seem to care.

    All I can do is monitor my footprint, try and keep it small so it does not bother the guy next to me, and live my life quietly. Given that serious climate change is predicted to occur in my region in the next 20 years, I can only hope for the best.

  29. Scientifically incorrect? What qualifies you to make that claim? 

    Lithium is in very short supply and China has 95% of known reserves; it may be the limiting factor for EV’s until new battery technology is discovered. Having worked on the design of the Malaysian Rare Earths Processing Plant I know a little about these minerals- and lithium is not the only rapidly diminishing resource.

  30. There are numerous examples mapped in ecology of population explosions follwed by population crashes from the usual causes -  over-exploitation of resources, famine, disease, conflict over competition for remaining resources.  Humans are versatile, so can , for a while move on to destroy new areas of habitat when they have destroyed their previous live support systems.  The planet is however of a finite size, with a climate which is not immune to human stupidity.
    Nature adjusts populations which will not moderate their expansion, with much suffering of the individuals which have to be removed in the reductions.

    There are some earlier discussions of climate change here:- 

    http://old.richarddawkins.net/… –
    Why the laws of physics make anthropogenic climate change undeniable

    http://richarddawkins.net/disc… — Harness-the-sea-national-geographic-june-2011-tidal-wave-power-generation
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    In looking at the old site I find this predictive post I made in August 2011 :- http://old.richarddawkins.net/… –
    This uncertainty of detail does NOT cast doubt on the scientific methods, or the overall picture, only on the details  of the outcome. Scientific methods are not invalidated by the personal ignorance of some critics.

    There is the “head-in-the-sand” approach which says “do nothing, there are some uncertainties”, – followed by “do nothing, it’s too late now” (but don’t blame us)!

    I suspect that in the US East coast, the fanciful message, “lets not spend money on clean technologies and pretend this makes economic sense”, has been forcefully translated as reality intrudes, into - “let’s not spend money on clean technologies and spend much more money instead on increasingly repetitive incidences of storm damage!” as warming powers up the atmosphere!
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    The climate change deniers in New York and New Jersey would do well to consider this – post “Sandy”!

    Solar power in sunny climates is a great resource: -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L… –
    List of solar thermal power stations – with pictures and details of various different types

    The newer high temperature liquid-salt power-tower systems, can store heat, and provide electricity 24/7 .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F… 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F

  31.   Nodhimmi -
    Hopefully thorium as nuclear fuel is closer than we think- India & China actively researching and history going back to 1962- 

    There was an earlier discussion of this and related topics here:- 
    http://old.richarddawkins.net/… –
    Water-cooled nuclear power plants aren’t the only option 

    Nodhimmi –

    Well, Matt Ridley has been thoroughly discredited-http://thinkprogre…

    As he was in this earlier discussion on this site! –
    http://old.richarddawkins.net/… – Just another paid carbonaceous luddite and promoter of risky polluting gas-fracking!

  32. I remember David Attenborough spoke about this with strong concern. 

    I saw this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…  ( Hans Rosling on pop. growth) and my fears were a little alleviated.

     Not having the time to read the conversation here yet I thought I’d add this and see what people think of it when it’s not 2am in the morning :)

    Looking forward to reading your discussion.

    PS. This guy seems to have thought about it alot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… – overpopulationisamyth.com

  33. PS. This guy seems to have thought about it alot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… – overpopulationisamyth.com

    I note that on youtube, comments are disabled for the video from overpopulationisamyth dot com (i.e. from the so-called Population Research Institute). There too many tricks throughout the video for me to to deal with. By example, I shall take one that occurs within the first few seconds…

    The video shows a person being beaten to death with a stick as an illustration of the claim that Malthus proposed killing the ‘have-nots’. This is not what Malthus proposed. (If I understand Malthus correctly, he wrote that to avoid reaching the limit at which everyone had only just enough to eat, it would be necessary to let nature take its course and to desist from life-saving health measures.) But even if he had proposed clubbing have-nots to death, it would have no bearing on whether his demographic predictions had any merit. I have often seen similar false arguments (You think X; Malthus thought X; Malthus also thought Y; therefore you think Y, so I can dismiss X).

    Likewise, I should not dismiss the video on the grounds that it came from Population Concern Institute. I shall only say that the quality of the video is not surprising considering that the Institute consider themselves to be “pro-life” and are funded by the Bradley foundation (who also support Heartland Institute amongst others).

  34. Yes, the example of Easter Island is very interesting, and prophetic. I believe that the story of Easter Island should make us reflect about our stupidity. I’m not a pessimist, but as many other people already said, we should not be optimistic, we should be realistic.

    Something like Easter Island can happen in my opinion, with the only difference that earth is much bigger and it will take longer time for us to finish our resources. I do not believe in infinite progress of technology which will save us. I do not think that yields can go up indefinitely. I believe that technology can help us to a great extent. I think that earth can support many billion human beings (I believe even 50 billions or so), but at a very high cost of living standard, health conditions, wild life extinction, and so on. It is sheer stupidity to go on in this way. If we want to live well and to protect the incredible variety of life that exists on earth, we should think seriously about the population problem. Think about how some “simple” laws of physics, and evolution (which, according to me, is a process which arises logically whenever a phenomenon can reproduce itself) can create life as it exists on earth, it simply unbelievable! We are destroying that. But it is especially for ourselves that we should face the problem, because I think that life is strong enough to survive us, but we aren’t intelligent enough to survive ourselves. Climate change has happened in the past, and life re-fluorished after mass extinctions.

    As many other people here have pointed out, the solution to the problem of overpopulation is very simple, yet challenging. It is about equality: giving proper education to all people, especially women (which are in some places way more ignorant that man due to culture), ensure that every person has equal opportunities to live a decent life, is the key to solve many problems, and also the population problem. We should try to improve our societies in this way. I also think that with the actual system, in which money is the only important think in society, we will never achieve this, but this is another topic.

    You do not need to force people to have few children. You should encourage couples to have just one or 2 children, taxing extra children and to encouraging them as in present day societies. But I think that to keep population stable, we should also encourage people to have 1 or 2 children with subsidies. Population must be kept stable, it is necessary because you can’t just go back to two billions people in short time, that would give rise to lots of problems about old/young people ratio and economic problems (we will have to work until 80 :-) ). We can already see that this strategy will work, because, the ratio children per mother is in many advanced countries close to 2.1, which is the ratio needed for a stable population.

    Equality is also important because, in the present world, more food is produced than it is necessary, but there are still people who starve. This is not due to technical problems, but to inequality in the distribution of resources. This is caused by our economic system which encourages economic disequality and exploitation.

    I conclude this very long comment (sorry for that : -) ), saying that on Easter Island resources did not end only because of overpopulation. They finished because people were stupid and wasted them to build the enormous and famous statues (for religion ehe!) and in wars between the various tribes (they also fought for resource control, if I’m not wrong). We shall not do the same. Resources are enough for everyone if carefully used. We should not waste them in wars and useless things.

    Here i think that everyone is atheist, so we should not make the mistake to give religion all the responsibility. There are many stupid and illogical things that everyone of us is doing all the day, causing waste of resources and suffering all over the world. We should think about that.

    Correct me if I’m wrong. Excuse me for my bad English.

  35.  I don’t think you read my posts before rebutting. Once again, we already agree. My point was, I prefer rationalism over emotionalism, even when emotionalism is used to support a scientifically validated cause. I don’t think we should promote environmentalism because it’s what Jesus would do. Truth is important, and the end does not justify the means.

    These days I can’t make the helium Mickey Mouse voice without feeling a CERN researcher cry. Unless we start tapping asteroids, we might face actual (not economic) shortages of materials used for tech.

  36. UN projections show world population peaking at around 150% of current levels around 2050, then gently declining. A study in the news last week found that 50% of the food produced worldwide is wasted. Overpopulation is not the problem.

  37.  logicophilosophicus, you write

    A study in the news last week found that 50% of the food produced worldwide is wasted. Overpopulation is not the problem.

    I do not know what your new large-scale food waste reduction proposals are, but my guess is that they will not be 100% effective, and will take some time to implement. Until their impact on the current estimate of globally sustainable population can be realistically estimated, I suggest that we work with the current estimate of sustainable population and therefore accept that, for now at least, overpopulation is a problem. Even the current level of biological consumption is 50% higher than the replenishment rate.

  38. Hi logicophilosophicus. So, our population will be about 50% higher around 2050, about the same time most of our oil runs out, which by then will be much more pricey – and more polluting (shale, fracking, tar sands, deep water wells, arctic wells) to produce.

    How do we produce enough food with dwindling oil (& oil-based plastics & lubricants), so necessary for farm & food machinery, food production, processing & distribution?

  39.   logicophilosophicus
    UN projections show world population peaking at around 150% of current
    levels around 2050, then gently declining. A study in the news last week
    found that 50% of the food produced worldwide is wasted. Overpopulation
    is not the problem.

    You have presented no evidence that the food is being wasted in the same localities as the famines, or that there is any credible system to transport the wasted food to where the famines exist.

    This is just cherry-picked scraps of inconclusive nonsense denying a real problem!

  40. Once again the enemy is culture and religion.  Make contraception OK and introduce a new, relevant modern non-divisive (non heritage based) common global culture, especially in poor inherited culture driven regions, where breeding is not linked to an individuals success as a human being.

  41. @ A4D

    The population projections of the UN are the gold standard data in this area, free from political bias and respurced by a trillion dollar organisation: not, therefore, cherry picked scraps of nonsense. Where do you get yours?

    You could have accessed the food wastage report in seconds online, but you choose to rubbish it unread. Here it is:
    http://www.imeche.org/Libraries/Repor...

    Also without reading it, you are able to conclude that the waste is not in the famine-prone regions. Having read the report, I found that there was indeed massive waste – e.g. up to 80% of rice yield – in some underdeveloped countries.

    The population of Africa has risen by roughly 600% since the middle of the last century. There are still famines, but they are conflict-related, and yet the death toll is vastly reduced this century.

    Poverty kills. Instead of whining about population – as if the white population decline was some kind of virtue – the world needs to educate and industrialise the underdeveloped countries. I believe that passionately. Look more deeply into those UN projections and you will find that the 10 billion or so people of the future will be richer than the typical white westener of today. We should aim to make that happen sooner rather than later.

    BTW, thanks, but no thanks, for your usual ill-informed knee-jerk discourtesy.

  42. In the medium term fossil fuels will do. I think proven oil reserves are 64y, and other sources/methods of extraction will at least triple that; and then there’s oil from coal (coal reserves are equivalent to several times the oil reserves) or coal power directly. You rightly point out that these are more expensive tchniques, but then people will be richer. UK GDP per capita is below $30,000 I think (10 times that of India) so we can afford expensive fuels. By 2050 India’s GDP per capita is projected to be approaching $40,000.

    Personally, I think we squander fuel, especially on recreational travel. I have flown about 10,000 miles in my life – why should people fly off to the tropics twice a year in a world where most people have never even owned a bicycle?

    Long term, we need to use nuclear fusion. It isn’t here yet: we should be using fission. Affordable energy is a global entitlement and the only passport out of poverty.

  43. Hi again logicophilosophicus.

    You said “In the medium term fossil fuels will do.”  If the underdeveloped regions are industrialized to first world levels, then those reserves will be gone much faster than the present projections, and when you say that proven oil reserves are 64 years, I don’t think you understand the word sustainability.  My Discussion clearly emphasizes LONG term sustainability, which to me means hundreds of years.

    Using the very dirty methods I mentioned earlier to get at the untapped oil & gas fields, or using very dirty coal, only makes the LONG term issues much worse – look at the coal pollution in China now, and they are just ramping up their industrialization.  You claim that people will be wealthier, and can afford the increased costs of fuels, as if that means anything in the face of global resource depletion & degradation.

    Regarding squandering fuels, I agree completely, but then humans have way more selfish greed than they do rational concern for the future of our species – or any other life forms – so they aren’t going to stay at home voluntarily.

    “Long term, we need to use nuclear fusion.”  There isn’t any viable fusion technology anywhere, so that’s just wishful thinking in the required time frame.

    “We should be using fission.” I’ve worked with & in the CANDU nuclear industry, and it’s inherently the best system around, but there are still huge problems with fission systems & spent fuels when looked at LONG term, quite apart from the nuclear industry pull-back after the Japanese tsunami disaster.

    Global entitlement to affordable energy may be a nice dream, but that doesn’t make it viable, or even desirable with the knowledge we now have of the consequences for our children, and their children.

  44. All known reserves of oil, say 200 years at present rates of consumption, plus 500-1000 years from known coal reserves, assuming we develop the technology to extract/process on centennial timescales, and ignoring new fields, tar sands, Antacrtica… Even assuming accelerating rates, there should be a cushion medium term.

    You are very pessimistic about technological advance. I used to keep a few quotations on my office wall, for example the IBM chairman’s prediction that there was a world market for perhaps 5 computers. A lot changes in half a century. I expect to see a prototype commercial fusion reactor in my lifetime. There were no fission power stations when I was a baby, back in the days when radios were big expensive boxes full of glowing valves (tubes) and engineers used sliderules.

    CANDU – yes, I remember Fred Hoyle in the 60′s saying the UK should adopt the Canadian system, but I think Britain wanted weapons grade plutonium, so… Waste storage is a problem but one we can live with. Nuclear fission is, as you must know, much safer than any previous energy source. Look at France – energy exporter.

    My take: both realisable and affordable (progressively more so on economic projections).

    “The knowledge we now have of the consequences…” For China? India? Ultimately for Sub-Saharan Africa? Let them choose. The $40,000 papc economy or the $2,800. Or less.

  45. The population projections of the UN are the gold standard data in this
    area, free from political bias

    Ha! ha! ha!   You know as little about politics as you do about population dynamics.

     

    Where do you get yours?

     Satellite  global resource land-use surveys.

    Also without reading it, you are able to conclude that the waste is not in the famine-prone regions. Having read the report, I found that there was indeed massive waste –

    Perhaps you should have checked developed countries which import food and throw much of it away.

    e.g. up to 80% of rice yield – in some underdeveloped countries.

    Neat bit of cherry-picking.  It is not news that some third world harvesting and food storage can be wasteful because of strife and corruption.

    The population of Africa has risen by roughly 600% since the middle of the last century. There are still famines, but they are conflict-related, and yet the death toll is vastly reduced this century.

    Competition for shortages of resources and famines cause conflicts – particularly in areas of over-population.  Conflicts then diver efforts and resources reducing productivity.  Foreign interference has a lot of negative effects in Africa.
    Actually many African famines are also drought, climate, and land-use related.

    Poverty kills. Instead of whining about population – as if the white population decline was some kind of virtue – the world needs to educate and industrialise the underdeveloped countries.

    BTW, thanks, but no thanks, for your usual ill-informed knee-jerk discourtesy.

    Ah!!  Poor didums, playing the offended card, with a bit of psychological projection thrown in!

    If you don’t want to be told bluntly the scientific realities of global ecology,  don’t assert whimsical nonsense like this,  passionately or otherwise! 
    The biosphere will not stand present levels of industrial pollution, and habitat destruction, let alone increases.  The world needs sustainable systems. 

    Look more deeply into those UN projections and you will find that the 10 billion or so people of the future will be richer than the typical white westener of today. We should aim to make that happen sooner rather than later.

    The  life-support systems of the planet don’t care about economists’ predictions or projections.
    Destroyed ecosystems collapse, and CO2 rich atmospheres heat up causing extinctions. 
    The passengers on the Titanic lived in luxury right up to the end while being led by people with no idea!

    We are rapidly running out of new lands and ecosystems to destroy.

  46. logicophilosophicus
    Long term, we need to use nuclear fusion. It isn’t here yet: we
    should be using fission. Affordable energy is a global entitlement and
    the only passport out of poverty.

    We had an earlier discussion on the need for nuclear power to reduce CO2 emissisions here:- http://old.richarddawkins.net/… – Water-cooled nuclear power plants aren’t the only option
    By ALAN4DISCUSSION – Updated: Monday, 03 October 2011 at 12:37 PM

    -With Thorium and advanced gas-cooled reactors looking like good options.

    In the medium term fossil fuels will do. I think proven oil reserves are
    64y, and other sources/methods of extraction will at least triple that; and then there’s oil from coal (coal reserves are equivalent to several times the oil reserves) or coal power directly. You rightly point out
    that these are more expensive tchniques, but then people will be richer.

    All known reserves of oil, say 200 years at present rates of consumption, plus 500-1000 years from known coal reserves, assuming we develop the technology to extract/process on centennial timescales, and ignoring new fields, tar sands, Antacrtica… Even assuming accelerating rates, there should be a cushion medium term.

    The concept of fossil carbon as “fuel reserves” is seriously flawed.
    Regardless of if projections of present consumption can be written on paper, or if money can be made by those recklessly exploiting this material, we simply cannot release this quantity of carbon  into the atmosphere without creating vastly more costly damage than any money made from short term company profits.  Large areas of the planet will become seas, deserts, and uninhabitable as the climate changes.

    UK GDP per capita is below $30,000 I think (10 times that of India) so we can afford expensive fuels. By 2050 India’s GDP per capita is projected to be approaching $40,000.

    The problem is, there are many in politics and business, who are living in a fool’s monetary fantasy world of bankers and executive bonuses. 
    Global warming is rapidly removing the mountain glaciers & ice-caps which provide India’s dry-season crop irrigation and water supply!  Money can be printed, but it cannot be eaten!

    Personally, I think we squander fuel, especially on recreational travel. I have flown about 10,000 miles in my life – why should people fly off to the tropics twice a year in a world where most people have never even owned a bicycle?

    We certainly do! 
    It is the result of the military and commercial grabbing control of resources by short-term irresponsible profiteers – backed by their political and media stooges.

  47. @ A4D

    LP: “The population projections of the UN are the gold standard data in this
    area, free from political bias… Where do you get yours?”
    A4D: “Ha! ha! ha!   You know as little about politics as you do about population dynamics… Satellite  global resource land-use surveys.”

    Population projections from satellite surveys? Those’ll be those time travelling satellites. Seriously, if you have a less partisan and better resourced projection than the UN, what is it? Specifically.

    LP: “Also without reading it, you are able to conclude that the waste is not in the famine-prone regions. Having read the report, I found that there was indeed massive waste…”
    A4D: “Perhaps you should have checked developed countries which import food and throw much of it away.”
    Indeed – exactly as the report you still can’t be bothered to read states. There’s waste all round, including the famine regions, which was the point…

    LP: “…e.g. up to 80% of rice yield – in some underdeveloped countries.”
    A4D: “Neat bit of cherry-picking.  It is not news that some third world harvesting and food storage can be wasteful because of strife and corruption.”
    Actually neither strife nor corruption is involved in the inefficient harvesting and storage of rice in Vietnam (80%) as the report makes clear… but, having denied the evidence (“You have presented no evidence that the food is being wasted in the same localities as the famines”) you adamantly refuse to read it, much like the inquisitors who wouldn’t look through Galileo’s telescope.

    LP: “The population of Africa has risen by roughly 600% since the middle of the last century. There are still famines, but they are conflict-related, and yet the death toll is vastly reduced this century.”
    A4D: “Competition for shortages of resources and famines cause conflicts – particularly in areas of over-population.”
    Not one example? Of course not. Africa is not densely populated. Let’s be specific again: name a modern conflict caused by famine in Africa.

    A4D: “If you don’t want to be told bluntly the scientific realities of global ecology,  don’t assert whimsical nonsense like this,  passionately or otherwise! The biosphere will not stand present levels of industrial pollution, and habitat destruction, let alone increases.  The world needs sustainable systems.”
    WHAT scientific realities? Specifically? You rubbish major/standard sources of data and put NOTHING in their place. Not one specific figure, not one identifiable source. Just a load of ill-informed bluster, really. (And, BTW, that Institute of Mechanical Engineers paper was all about putting sustainable systems in place. That was its focus. You know, the one you haven’t read,)

    A4D: “Poor didums, playing the offended card…” Don’t worry – no offence taken. I was just pointing out another aspect of your ignorant hectoring. I have to admit it was impressive – so much “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” We all have to stick to what we do best, I suppose.

  48. logicophilosophicus

    A4D: “Ha! ha! ha!   You know as little about politics as you do about population dynamics…
    Satellite  global resource land-use surveys.”

    Population projections from satellite surveys? Those’ll be those time
    travelling satellites. Seriously, if you have a less partisan and better
    resourced projection than the UN, what is it? Specifically.

    WHAT scientific realities? Specifically? You rubbish major/standard sources of data and put NOTHING in their place.

    Yes you know! (or it would appear you don’t know),  the satellites that monitor (as they have done through time for decades) the areas of different land use, & water use  globally, to predict crop yields down to the level of specific farms in specific seasons, based on weather, levels of pest attacks, and treatments needed. etc.  The ones which show the levels of food production in specified geographical areas season by season and year on year.

    Sustainable population levels are not about economic projections.  They are about the biological capability of the land agriculture, fishing, climate etc. to support particular levels of population.  The present system is laying waste to huge areas of land and oceans which will further reduce productivity, with ANY increase in carbon burning, increasing losses by desertification, and loss of prime agricultural land on coastal plains deltas, and river floodplains.  These down-grades and costs to populations are so large that whimsical economic projections would only affect them marginally anyway.

    (And, BTW, that Institute of Mechanical Engineers paper was all about putting sustainable systems in place. That was its focus. You know, the one you haven’t read,)

    I have already studied putting sustainable systems in place, and put links on this thread to earlier discussions where I covered several aspects of these.

    Continuing to burn carbon and continuing to expand the population, have nothing to do with sustainable systems.  They are utterly counter-productive.

    BTW  The UN  is a large POLITICAL debating organisation which is dominated by major industrial countries and big business.

    Not one example? Of course not. Africa is not densely populated.

    You seem to have the confused view that over-population is about absolute population density. It is about  population sizes in excess of their sustainable supporting food and resource chains.

    Let’s be specific again: name a modern conflict caused by famine in Africa.

    You could start with the droughts in east Africa, the incursions in neighbouring countries, of refugees leaving those areas, and the seizing of food resources (including aid convoys) by armed militias and corrupt governments.

    The incursion of big business displacing native populations from the ancestral lands to produce export crops also causes local conflicts and poverty. 

    Then there is the simple expansion of population leading to the carving up of inherited family lands into progressively smaller packages, which no longer support families.

    These are large complex issues in which cherry picking odds and ends does not give a global overview.
    Many economic models, simply do not input the negative factors of global pollution, resource depletion,  and over exploitation.

    The example of quoting carbon “reserves” as an exploitable resource, illustrates this lack of forward planning and an absence of knowledge of climate issues.
     
    Political clots are still talking about “growth” as virtue, when they should be bringing consumption and population into line with sustainability.

    Perhaps it would have been more constructive for you to reply to my other comment + link on nuclear fusion, (or the earlier one on solar power) rather than the one which challenged your wild assertions and cherry-picking.

  49. a) No specifics, then. None, zero, zip. What a surprise.
    b) Would those be the satellites that show less land under cultivation over the last few years despite a rise in food production? Or some other ones? (Check World Bank data for Land Under Cultivation, etc.)
    c) “Many economic models…” Who can discuss a vague claim like that? WHICH ones are BETTER than the “cherry picked” UN “odds-and-ends” projections? Specifically – i.e. name them, or name one, please.
    d) “Political clots [should be reducing] population” you reckon, but curbing economic growth, despite the fact that prosperity reliably and – uniquely – humanely leads to reduced birthrates. However, my point wasn’t that lower population is undesirable, just that the projected peak population is manageable if necessary.
    e) You think I should leave the points I made and reply instead to some posting you made about fusion power. My points were about population and food security. To be honest, based on experience, I have avoided replying to anything you post, however strongly I disagree. You chose to challenge – with no specific evidence – points I made, so I find myself here again. Super.

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  51. Hi logicophilosophicus.  I have twice read right through the IME Report you linked to:
    http://www.imeche.org/Librarie…  

    If this Report is read carefully and critically, there are many cautionary references as to how unsustainable these current results and proposed methods are, in light of rapidly growing population, carrying load, global warming, infrastructure costs, energy levels required, water usage, political and regional problems, etc.

    The biological and energy costs to produce meat, grain, fruit & vegetables are laid out, so as the populations use more meat products, the problems skyrocket.

    The wastage of different foods are explained at different levels – from fields to dinner tables – and only a portion of the amount is realistically avoidable, with huge costs for infrastructure, which in many localities aren’t viable or affordable – as they explain.

    Looking at LONG term sustainability, I think this report supports my points far more than yours, if their whole picture is assessed, not just a few percentages (and you took the extremes of their ranges to support your points.)

    If this report wasn’t focused on engineering and technologies, the population problem would be much more front and center, and our overuse and pollution of Earth’s limited natural resources while destroying biodiversity would be very obvious.

    Politics, technology and economics can do many things, but they can’t change the fact that there is only so much pie materials available, and too many people grabbing large slices of the pie won’t work for very long.

    I also appreciate all the comments about my Discussion topic, which illuminates the wide variety of issues, opinions – and passion – it generates, and the enormous difficulties we face in resolving the problems now, soon, and later.

    Here’s to living small and beautiful – and working to leave a viable planet for our descendants, and enough other life forms too.

  52. CdnMacAtheist
    If this report wasn’t focused on engineering and technologies, the population problem would be much more front and center, and our overuse and pollution of Earth’s limited natural resources while destroying
    biodiversity would be very obvious.

    I see you have picked up my point about wrong approach, in trying to find information on the ecology of food-chains: in land-use, agriculture, fisheries, climatology and the degradation of biological productivity, in a report from mechanical engineers. 

    It is not in the least surprising, that mechanical engineers are not expert in these fields, so have missed emphasising many of the key points and much of the data, which are necessary to build a global (or regional) overview.

    There are of course many lessons in population dynamics, which can be learned from a multitude of biological / ecological studies of animal populations, in relation to their environments & supporting food webs.

  53. Hi CMA.

    You think I was wrong to quote the high figures from the IME report, which is fair comment (I am the first to attack rhetorical exaggeration), but I would point out that I don’t depend on them. In fact I also used a high figure for the midcentury population peak. I should have used the more standard/up-to-date 9.5 bn. Much more importantly, food projections should take GM into account. (And, more generally, we should assume technological advance in the next half century will have a positive effect – compare the last half-century!) However, assuming 10 bn (a highish figure) and 30% wastage (the low bound from the IME paper). The calculation suggests that we are using 70% of the food we produce to feed 70% of our peak population. How well do we eat now? Unfairly – there is an epidemic of obesity in the first world; and unwisely – there is far too much meat consumption, which effectively means wasting a huge amount of cereal on feeding sheep, cattle and pigs.

    You have suggested that it is not possible to wean the rielatively rich off their high meat, high waste, unhealhy diet and their jetting-off-to-the-tropics, high-carbon lifestyle. In the light of that view, I don’t accept that third world population is “the” problem. Greed (with its corrollary, poverty) is the problem, and suggesting that reduction of someone else’s population is “the” solution is just another kind of greed.

    There is an in-depth article in today’s Sunday Times (UK) on the subject, triggered by a report in Slate Magazine (US) last week “which quotes several recent demographic studies”. It’s full of specific detail about population trends in various parts of the world. The key conclusion is that “if the optimists are right, human population will peak at about 9-10bn mid-century and then begin a long, slow decline. By the 2300s, global population, without the intervention of war or plague, could stabilise at 2-4bn.”

    What it doesn’t discuss, and what needs emphasising, is that the basis of this “optimism” is the connection between economic prosperity and population growth – the rich, healthy and long-lived do not on average have families as large as the replacement value. The converse is that curbs on growth will keep Africa poor and poor people lead insecure – and high fertility – lives. Be careful what you wish for.

    Anyway, the mainstream published data support exacly the view – evidence-based, not doctrinaire – I expressed in my first posting in this thread. I have asked for specific sources refuting this. I have an open mind. What more can I say?

  54. P.S.
    I was interested to discover where your pessimism sprang from. I followed your link and dug around a little. Your source is the Global Footprint Network, an advocacy group. They don’t do their own science, so they rely on the same datasets – particularly UN – as the IMechE paper I cited. That paper is properly referenced in great detail. It’s virtually impossible to trace the specific references for the GFN pages you link to. However, as you might infer from the preceding, their statements about land use contradict the sources they are based on (which partly accounts for their discordantly alarmist conclusions) and they then further inflate the “footprint” – allegedly measured in hectares of cultivatable land – by a formula adding a hefty notional area in hectares converted from CO2 impact. I see no basis for any confidence in their publications.

  55. The key question in human population dynamics is if the human race on a finite planet, can collectively act with more intelligence than a yeast culture in a barrel of fruit juice -  (Which exploits all there is to exploit until there is nothing left to support its population, and then has a mass dying  – pickled in its own waste products. )

    Yeast helps physicists forecast population collapse –
      http://physicsworld.com/cws/ar
    Scientists believe that many complex systems – from financial markets to fish stocks – should produce warning signs just before they collapse.
    Well established in theory, this idea has now been demonstrated experimentally by a group of physicists in the US and the Netherlands, who have observed longer and more marked reactions to small external shocks in populations of yeast cells just before collapse.
    They say that their work may help to conserve fragile ecosystems.

    The collapse of populations in nature has occurred numerous times in the past,
    such as the disappearance of cod stocks in Atlantic Canada in the 1990s. Populations can be vulnerable to sudden collapse when the rate at which individuals reproduce depends on the population density –
    with too high a density putting pressure on resources and too low a density making it hard to mate, hunt or fend off predators, for example.
    With a slight worsening of environmental conditions, such as an increase in fishing, the density drops below a critical value and numbers decline abruptly.

    These effects apply to the animals and plants on which humans depend (such as fish stocks) , – not just human populations.

    Over intensive mono-cultures and climate change – are recognised as “worsening environmental conditions”.

    http://images.iop.org/objects/

  56. Hi logicophilosophicus. (Replying to your last reply above.)

    The following is from my first comment on this Discussion, from 2 weeks ago:

    “When I submitted this Discussion, I had a quick look at some opinions & data available by entering ‘Sustainable Human Population’ into my Google Browser.  The link I entered in my post was the first one that came up, and it’s from 2007, but there is 87 pages of links, none of which am I connected to or specifically supporting.”

    There is a lot of other information in those Links that support my points. Mac.

  57. Hi Logicophilosophicus. (Replying to your 2nd last reply above.)

    The following quote is also from my first comment on this discussion ~2 weeks ago.

    “My ’1.5 to 2 Billion’ amount is based on what many estimates are for a world population living at the level of average US citizens, whereas for average UK Citizens it would be about 3 Billion.  This is because these 2 countries exceed the average per capita world resource usage by factors of 4 & 3.  If the world used up limited or non-replaceable resources at the rate of a 3rd world citizen, then the figure would be up around 5 Billion – but IMHO that wouldn’t be a very healthy, happy, or peaceful, population.”

    The point here is that although rich First World populations have smaller families, their consumption rates are far higher, so in effect their impact is much worse than poor Third World populations – and none are sustainable, so bringing the Third World up to First World consumption levels isn’t a solution for that reason, among others.

    I think I have been clear that I consider the First World populations are the biggest problem, contrary to what you may have implied above.

    If the LONG term sustainable population is approximately 2-3 billion, then we are not looking at childbirths at the ‘Replacement Rate’, but at much lower levels – which will create massive problems with the political Growth-Based Economics and Financial Systems we have now.

    I didn’t say that “it is not possible to wean the relatively rich off their …… lifestyle”, but that they won’t do it voluntarily.  Doing it involuntarily can come about in different ways – from ethical, moral, policy, law and political changes – to shortages, economic collapse, wars, epidemics, thirst and starvation.

    The Earth – with it’s thin coatings comprising the biosphere – is a very complex system, with finite resources – no matter how clever we think we are or can be – and a much more holistic contemplation of the consequences of abusing it is sorely needed. Mac.

  58. Hi Mac.

    I didn’t read you that way – your headline point was the need to reduce populations, rather than address potentially unsustainable economic practices. I’ve read it again. Seems that way.

    Your conclusion was that secular views need more clout. Let’s have a look at the four most religious and the four least religious of the major EU countries. The first percentage is the number who ticked: “I believe there is a God.” I have ranked them on that basis. The second percentage is current annual population growth.

    Greece 81; 0.25
    Portugal 81; 0.08
    Poland 80; 0.05
    Italy 74; 0.29

    France 34; 0.53
    Netherlands 34; 0.29
    Denmark 31; 0.36
    Sweden 23; 0.57

    You could calculate a rank coefficient of correlation, but even a cursory glance shows that it will come out negative.

    My view expressed in this thread is that poverty drives fertility, and prosperity reduces fertility. The EU is a good experiment in shared economic direction, enabling a look at whether religion is particularly relevant to population growth. The answer is a resounding No, on the figures. I was surprised – I was expecting a marginal Yes.

    Phil.

  59. Whoops – I already posted this but it’s evidently self-destructed.

    Hi Mac.

    I got “6,340,000″ hits on Googling your trio of words. If you were employed fulltime to do nothing but read them – 5 minutes each – I think two working lifetimes would be insufficient (rough mental calculation). With the internet you have to be selective. I have quality criteria: major academic institution, UN, major academic journal, government sources from liberal democracies, etc. Then when I open the thing up it has to be clearly evidenced, well referenced (to similarly mainstream sources) and quantitative if appropriate. But if I spot a major misrepresentation or clear violation of logic, I close it again.

    There’s a tremendous amount of information and even more disinformation on the web.

    Phil.

  60. Hi Phil. Replying to your 2nd last comment.

    I agree that those countries aren’t increasing their populations very quickly – but I think that’s because the citizens are ignoring the anti-contraception policies of their religions, which all support producing babies to increase their flocks. I think these numbers are also complicated by the number, type and religions of their immigrants, with France being a notable case.  If the religions weren’t preaching ‘go forth and multiply’, the population situation would be much easier to handle socially and politically.

    If we look at other less advanced countries, poverty and equality of women are major issues, driven by religious dogma and controlled by totalitarian political and religious regimes.  It’s a very complex web. 

    These data also don’t address the social, political and economic problems surrounding the global population decreases that Sustainable Population Levels indicate are needed.

    Mac.

  61. Hi Phil. Now replying to your last comment.

    Yes, there are many places to go and see data and opinions about this subject, and since I think it is so important, I wanted to see how our Community feels about this difficult situation we’re in, since it’s seldom mentioned – as I said at the start of my Discussion.

    The unsustainable (IMHO) trajectory we are on is much more complex than Climate Change – and look how polarizing that topic is for non-scientists (like me) – and C.C. is driven by population size more than anything else.  I also think that C. C. awareness is further confused – and corrective actions retarded – by religious dogmas, prophesies and other wishful-thinking.

    Mac.

  62. Hi Mac.

    Really this is Climate Change advocacy under a sneaky new guise (GFN’s sneakiness, not yours). For nearly 20 years they’ve based their non-sustainability claims, and their footprint definition, on CO2 claims. For example (1996) Rees and Wackernagel gave only one example in their Footprint of Cities paper of national footprint, I believe. It was Canada. OVER HALF of the footprint was for CO2 – each Canadian would need to plant 2.3 Ha of carbpn-sink forest to sequester his or her CO2. Note that the Footprint analysis is explicitly based on current practise, crop choice, technology, inefficiency and an adherence to only one method of carbon sequestration. In particular it assumes as a fixed value the present use of arable land: just over a third for crops, just under two thirds for pasture: look at the EU or South Asia and you’ll see that this is not the pattern of the future. Definitely read this for a contrary view with good data:
    http://phe.rockefeller.edu/doc

    However, the point is not GFN’s phoney Footprint definition: the point is that, like the supposed extinctions and imaginary increase in hurricane activity, GFN and others are using sustainability as a proxy, or more a rhetorical device, to push the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming agenda. Now I don’t mind anyone putting that case, but I do object to the assumption that it is proven, then smuggling it into a different discussion as imaginary Hectares of land.

    And if it comes down to CAGW, that’s a good discussion, and I would go straight to the UN’s IPCC Working Group 1 data (the hard science); the Gold Standard. But that’s a DIFFERENT discussion in my view.

    “C.C. is driven by population size more than anything else” – I think IPCC AR5 will surprise you.

    Phil.

  63. Hi Phil,

    Since I was a Metrologist, Mech Eng, Tech Sales, Instrument Maker and Machinist in my career, I look at things from a non-scientist, technical college, self-educated viewpoint.  Whatever the claims, politics, biases, advocacy or denials are, I think there are some basics that I can understand fairly clearly.

    There are a multitude of growing, inter-connected planetary issues, everything that has an effect on the future quality of life – all life – on Earth, that are either caused by, or emphasized by, human population size.

    Population size is driven by political, social, economic and religious systems that have long depended on science and technology to allow for their plundering, destruction and excesses, to the point where we fervently hope that science and technology will somehow keep ahead of the curve, and save us from our ignorance of, and avoidance of, reality.

    People in general are very ignorant of science, technology and biology – among other important subjects – and don’t know, or care, about the big picture, as long as they get their super-sized piece of the pie and keep up with the Joneses, and ahead of the banks.

    If we were paying the real planetary costs of all the vast range of products we consume so flagrantly, we would perhaps come to realize what the consequences are for raping our one and only Pale Blue Dot….

    I don’t consider my outlook to be so much pessimistic as realistic, and there are many other highly qualified people around the world that see things in similar ways, but our self-centered, greedy, ego-driven blindness and procrastination in the face of reality is so very sad, for what could be the most advanced and intelligent species in our galactic neighborhood.

    Just saying, eh.  Mac.

  64. Hi Phil,

    I quite agree on getting the best hard data, but it’s difficult to get data on population that takes the big picture into consideration, and that’s what I’m trying to get into focus.

    The same problem runs through Climate Change, where there are many components where there is some hard data, but assembling it all is so inexact – and open to misunderstanding and manipulation.

    Many specialists get great data in narrow fields, but they tend to – or have to – have blinkers on when considering the impact and consequences of their results on connected parts of the multi-dimensional web of biomass – which is why I previously mentioned taking a more holistic view.

    I’m not consciously ignoring any measurements, just trying to stand back and connect the many different ones I become aware of – from a non-theist, non-political, non-economic, humane and long-term point of view.

    Mac.

  65. Hi Phil.

    You replied to my comment “C.C. is driven by population size more than anything else” by saying – “I think IPCC AR5 will surprise you.” That may be so, but when those Reports arrive over the next year or so, I think the big picture will be much clearer than AR4 was in 2007, which predicted some serious problems ahead.

    From what I’ve read, especially recently, there is a significant man-made component to Climate Change, accelerating over hundreds of years, although there may be other natural trends that contribute.

    Logically, whatever humans have done and are doing to cause some or most of the Climate Change, our now much larger population can only have driven more of it. If our population increases by another 50% over 37 years, then Climate Change effects will increase – for centuries to come.

    My statement is correct in that, whatever the human causes are, if our population had not grown above 2-3 billion in the 20th century, the effects driving Climate Change would be much less, and making corrections over the then much longer window of opportunity would be more feasible.

    Thus, going back to my Discussion, I submit that religious dogmas have been a major contributor to our present over-population, and how do non-theist communities contribute more to changing those policies, and meanwhile, helping many more of the Faithful to ignore them – as a lot of 1st world communities already do?

    Mac.

  66. In reply to #77 by CdnMacAtheist:

    From what I’ve read, especially recently, there is a significant man-made component to Climate Change, accelerating over hundreds of years, although there may be other natural trends that contribute.

    There are some simple measurements which are easy to recognise without obscuring them with local detailed breakdowns.

    One is the figure on the human global extraction and combustion of carbon (coal, oil, gas) – billions of tons a year. There are also recognisable CO2 generating feed-back effects, such as new drying and greatly increased burning of tundra peat deposits and forests.

    More powerful storms from increased atmospheric energy and rising sea-levels will start to be increasingly felt in flood vulnerable areas.
    The albedo effects of loss of sea ice, will also cause massive temperature feed-backs.

    Logically, whatever humans have done and are doing to cause some or most of the Climate Change, our now much larger population can only have driven more of it. If our population increases by another 50% over 37 years, then Climate Change effects will increase – for centuries to come.

    The levels of population, the levels of consumption, and carbon foot-prints are directly linked to this.

    Simple cheap technologies such as solar-cookers in Africa can help solve various problems such as deforestation and safe drinking water.

    http://www.aidforafrica.org/member-charities/solar-cookers-international/ -
    Solar Cookers International spreads solar cooking techniques and safe water awareness worldwide, focusing on developing countries that have plentiful sunshine, diminishing sources of cooking fuel, and limited safe drinking water.

    What they do not need, is western style industrialisation with its high levels of wasteful resource consumption.

    CdnMacAtheist: – My statement is correct in that, whatever the human causes are, if our population had not grown above 2-3 billion in the 20th century, the effects driving Climate Change would be much less, and making corrections over the then much longer window of opportunity would be more feasible.

    Another misunderstood issue is that agriculture generally REDUCES carbon absorption and conversion of sunlight by plants. (That is: logging a rainforest and planting oil palms or crops absorbs/stores less CO2 than the original rainforest – although unsustainable use of oil-derived chemical fertilisers can mitigate this to a limited extent.)
    What it increases is the MARKETABLE part of this food-energy used by humans, at the expense of other species destroying whole ecosystems. (There are one or two exceptions to these production levels locally, where irrigation is involved. )

    The rapid loss of tropical mountain ice-caps as a source of seasonal irrigation water, has also been accurately recorded. – potentially destroying farmland on which millions depend.

    Globally, the unsustainable destruction of rainforests and fish-stocks, is beyond dispute.

    Economists simply do not calculate the downsides of habitat and bio-resource destruction.

    Thus, going back to my Discussion, I submit that religious dogmas have been a major contributor to our present over-population, and how do non-theist communities contribute more to changing those policies, and meanwhile, helping many more of the Faithful to ignore them – as a lot of 1st world communities already do?

    Confidence in religious ignorance, is clearly a major factor in obstructing the needed changes in human energy, land-use, and population policies .

  67. In reply to #78 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #77 by CdnMacAtheist:

    Hi Alan,

    As always, thanks for your contributions, clarifications and relevant links. Your well-researched knowledge in this and other areas is welcomed by me – and, I’m sure, most other readers.

    This is my first Discussion, on a subject I give great importance to, since I think it drives many other problems that threaten our future from a medium to long-term perspective.

    My brain has been agitated, provoked, educated and enlightened in my 2.5 years here – and I wish more previous commentators were still contributing during these transitions though website evolutions. The Old Site is a great place to visit, and read so much interesting stuff.

    For many years I read a lot but kept quiet about my feelings and concerns until coming here – plus some other sites – and I’m pleased to have found a community that I can relate to on various inter-connected subjects, so thanks again RDFRS.

    And now – back to the plot…. Mac. 8-)

  68. *In reply to #77

    My statement is correct in that, whatever the human causes are, if our population had not grown above 2-3 billion in the 20th century, the effects driving Climate Change would be much less, and making corrections over the then much longer window of opportunity would be more feasible.

    Hi Mac.

    Population was 2.5 billion in 1950. Since then the rise in population in Asia plus Africa accounts for maybe four and a half biliion extra – not far off the total. Bearing that in mind, and since you reject the IMechE approach, what’s your solution?

    Thus, going back to my Discussion, I submit that religious dogmas have been a major contributor to our present over-population, and how do non-theist communities contribute more to changing those policies, and meanwhile, helping many more of the Faithful to ignore them – as a lot of 1st world communities already do?

    Mac.

  69. In reply to #80 by logicophilosophicus:

    Hi Mac.

    Population was 2.5 billion in 1950. Since then the rise in population in Asia plus Africa accounts for maybe four and a half biliion extra – not far off the total. Bearing that in mind, and since you reject the IMechE approach, what’s your solution?

    Hi Phil,

    Firstly, I don’t “reject the IMechE’ approach”, but it’s too narrow a focus – entirely reasonable within their parameters – for the ‘Big Picture’ outlook I’m addressing. Their proposals fit within my parameters, but don’t address the big problem, just some of it’s many symptoms.

    I don’t have a viable or pleasant solution, since we have procrastinated for so long about our trajectory. I think the major political and religious power structures are so short-term thinking and intransigent that making the right decisions voluntarily will be very difficult and strife-ridden.

    That is why I’m asking the question here, to get feedback from the RDFRS Community. I’m just trying to get a feel for how concerned and Big Picture people here are in their thinking about this.

    As I said earlier, there are many issues for this community to be agitated about, with good reason, but the ‘herd of elephants in the room’ tends to be ignored by us as we kick around its many symptoms.

    There are a lot of things we should and can do – if us wealthy, safe, comfortable First World folk are willing to make sacrifices and cut-backs in our consumptive life-styles – but there aren’t any viable social structures in place to resolve what is needed – or make the needed course directions.

    I think that if we had such social systems, they would waste time we don’t have by nitpicking and forming interminable committees to ‘study’ the problems – as we have seen for years in other important areas.

    I’m not very optimistic about whether Humanity has enough rationality and solidarity to make planet-wide decisions to benefit all forms of life, or even just ourselves – we have generally failed at this in the past, as history plainly shows.

    As an ordinary, insignificant, concerned, secular person, I’m just trying to spread awareness, create discussion, reduce wishful-thinking, slow our insanity – and shift our focus a wee bit more from ‘I’ to ‘We’.

    Mac.

  70. In reply to #81 by CdnMacAtheist:

    Hi Mac.

    When I wrote that you “reject the IMechE approach” I meant that you don’t accept that we can successfully adapt in a world of (peak) 10 billion. Your position is that population must be cut to 2-3 billion. I asked how you would address this given that the “extra” 4.5 billion people (and the further 3 bn in the demographic pipeline) are not in the First World. Even if the entire population of those FW countries obligingly committed suicide, there would still be more than twice the population you accept as sustainable. Pessimism is not practical. We need to promote and embrace adaptation.

    Phil.

  71. In reply to #82 by logicophilosophicus:

    In reply to #81 by CdnMacAtheist:

    Hi Mac.

    When I wrote that you “reject the IMechE approach” I meant that you don’t accept that we can successfully adapt in a world of (peak) 10 billion. Your position is that population must be cut to 2-3 billion. I asked how you would address this given that the “extra” 4.5 billion people (and the further 3 bn in the demographic pipeline) are not in the First World. Even if the entire population of those FW countries obligingly committed suicide, there would still be more than twice the population you accept as sustainable. Pessimism is not practical. We need to promote and embrace adaptation.

    Phil.

    Hi Phil.

    I think that whether we can adapt to a planet with 10 Billion humans isn’t the issue – it’s whether the biosphere can withstand our consumption and effluence without a major collapse.

    I think what you call pessimism is just a reasonable and inclusive long-term view of Big Picture reality that is understandably very uncomfortable to most people – as I said in the OP.

    Humans are not comfortable with many aspects of Life that don’t suit their wishful-thinking and self-centered behavior patterns – but the solar system, our planet, chemistry, biology and evolution don’t care about how we feel, but will only react to how we treat them.

    “We need to promote and embrace adaptation” – on a much more radical scale than our species is prepared for so far, and it will likely be too late when enough disasters and symptoms become too obvious to keep ignoring, as we are generally and ignorantly doing now. Mac.

  72. Hi Mac.

    What I can’t see is where this is leading – your alternative to (IMechE for example) adaptation. I think in your initial post you asked how to avoid being seen simply as a Doomsayer. Adaptation to reality, I say. If the real problem is 4 or 5 or 7 billion people in the developing world, what broad approach would you suggest?

    Phil.

  73. In reply to #84 by logicophilosophicus:

    Hi Mac.

    What I can’t see is where this is leading – your alternative to (IMechE for example) adaptation. I think in your initial post you asked how to avoid being seen simply as a Doomsayer. Adaptation to reality, I say. If the real problem is 4 or 5 or 7 billion people in the developing world, what broad approach would you suggest?

    Phil.

    Hi Phil.

    Thanks for all your thoughtful replies on this issue. I had hoped for more commentary from others who express their opinions on this topic on other threads.

    I think we need to continue to pursue the marginalization of religions – and their removal from political power – since they are the biggest roadblock to:

    Living in reality, elimination of afterlives, reduced family size, contraception, abortion, equality of women, mental freedom, global community, forward thinking & planning, positive politics, policies for species’ survival.

    It will be difficult to make global corrective actions when we are so divided by & controlled by religious viruses, which are enabled by abusive childhood indoctrination & manipulation of reality through fear & community pressures.

    The dumbing down of factual education & the opposition to scientific discoveries are a big problem, along with the belief that a god will save his created planet or rapture some worthy faith-heads to heaven.

    The failure of many folk to see that we ‘reap what we sow’ is a gathering storm, and we don’t have anyplace to run to, unlike in the past when we had new lands to subdue, overrun & plunder.

    I do hope that humanity smartens up, starts working together as a species, and gets itself in control – before it all goes to shit.

  74. Well, Mac, I still believe – and have cited good evidence – that population control is a byproduct of prosperity, while religion is in part a byproduct of poverty/insecurity. I back development, with whatever adaptation is necessary. The alternative implies denying the developing world the benefits we enjoy.

    No doubt we’ll revisit this under another umbrella here – probably environmentalism.

    Phil.

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