This topic contains 17 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  SAFFY 7 months ago.

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  • #3748

    Peter
    Participant

    The world’s population is set to skyrocket over the next few years. It’s now 7.6 billion (wow, it’s now closer to 8 billion than 7!). And it could go anywhere from 9 billion to 18 billion over the next 80 years. This topic is not about can we reach those numbers, or sustain them – but should we. We (society) have not seemed to have stopped and asked whether we really do want to cram 3x as many people onto the planet. Almost all of the issues facing the planet today are caused, or greatly exacerbated by this large population. Right now, if the whole world was living at Western standards, we’d be consuming something like 4 Earths (that means all arable land, including that covered by rainforest and national parks, etc would be being used) worth of resources. Many of those people in developing nations want to live the Western lifestyle too. Big house, cars, fancy electronics, holidays, fancy food shipped from across the globe that took tons of labour or space to grow – and they are increasing their standard of living. There are multiple looming resource shortage crises (soil, drinking water, silica, possibly phosphate) –

    To me – it seems totally rational to have half as many people, who are twice as happy (more space to live, less resource contention, more natural spaces) – than vice-versa. I would argue that we already have 4x too many people (see figure above)…

    What do other folks think?

  • #3749

    Niles
    Participant

    As countries develop their birth rate drops. There are a few reasons for that. One is more children make it to adulthood so couples don’t have to have extra children to compensate. Another is children start going to school, so they’re not productive members of the family working on farms or factories. Another is better availability of contraception.

    It’s more expensive to bring up children in a developed country.

    Im sure there are others.

    What is your source for these claims?

  • #3750

    sam
    Participant

    Malthus considered this some time ago, he got it quite wrong. Of course all that proves is that it is difficult to make predictions.

  • #3751

    berty
    Participant

    Half as many people would be great but how is it achieved?

    Education will only slow the population growth of educated people, the great unwashed will keep popping them out (ex brother in law has 12 kids, never worked and never will and is one of 9 kids who average 4 each)

    People won’t stand for mass birth control, who decides who breeds and who doesn’t?

    Culling, again people won’t stand for it.

    I suppose Trump and North Korea might help lower the population a bit but short of a world wide disaster we are screwed.

  • #3752

    mo
    Participant

    Education, no religion.

    If women have equal rights, values and education in all cultures, then their role in life won’t only be considered that of a breeding machine, where in many cultures 4-6 kids is considered preferable to 2.

    The human races greatest hope is a disease or natural disaster such as a large meteor to cull our numbers.

  • #3753

    just another Dave
    Participant

    Population is still on the up, but the birth rate is in decline worldwide.

    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN

    whether the environment can support more humans given our rapacious behavior we’ll see but there is some hope that in the long term we will reach a steady state.

  • #3754

    jack
    Participant

    Unfortunately I would have thought that it’s already far far too late. There are of course so many ways in which individuals can reduce their impact on the planet but people are so accustomed to what is considered normal that anyone who even dares to question it is laughed off.

    Wrapping paper at Christmas is clearly pointless and a massive waste of trees, yet when I tell people that’s why I don’t use it they laugh at me…

    The issue isn’t whether people understand their impact on the world, but whether they either care or will do anything about it. Fat people know that their diet/lifestyle makes them fat, but most do nothing to change this even of unhappy with their situation.

    Its blindingly obvious that there’s a problem with overpopulation already, but no one in a position of power and influence will ever do anything about it.

  • #3755

    Peter
    Participant

    As countries develop their birth rate drops. There are a few reasons for that. One is more children make it to adulthood so couples don’t have to have extra children to compensate. Another is children start going to school, so they’re not productive members of the family working on farms or factories. Another is better availability of contraception.

    That holds true for some countries – e.g. Japan. But does not for others (the US [although one could argue they’re still developing!]). I don’t think we can rely on reaching a stable number. Even if we could – do we really want everywhere to reach population density the same as Japan? I.e. twice as many people would be living in the UK.

    What is your source for these claims?

    @niles Mostly wikipedia – all easily verifiable claims.

  • #3756

    Peter
    Participant

    Half as many people would be great but how is it achieved?

    @berty Less births – convincing people that things would be better if we weren’t fighting for space.
    But there’s a bigger problem, which is that our global society is organized as a pyramid. Everyone at their current standard of living and way of life (where it’s high), actually has a team of much lower paid people (aggregated) working on almost low-paid labour to support them (all your food at the supermarket, all your goods, whose raw materials were refined, and raw materials extracted – it’s worth looking into the amount of materials to make one smartphone). And those at the bottom don’t want to be at the bottom – they want things too.

    Education will only slow the population growth of educated people, the great unwashed will keep popping them out (ex brother in law has 12 kids, never worked and never will and is one of 9 kids who average 4 each)

    I do worry about that. But then again every single issue we face has the same problem – if we have a large mass of people who are uneducated, but can be swung by the media – then no problems can be solved unless the media wants them to be.

    People won’t stand for mass birth control, who decides who breeds and who doesn’t?

    Yes – exactly the problem. However we already have mass birth control. If you’re poor, it’s very, very hard to have and keep children. It will only get more and more difficult. Removing the options for poor people (e.g. dismantling the social safety net) achieves this. My opinion is that this is not by accident (but neither is it a grand design either – it just happens and is seen to be a positive side-effect by some). So the question is really do we want to have mass birth control based on wealth, or some other way?

  • #3757

    Peter
    Participant

    Malthus considered this some time ago, he got it quite wrong. Of course all that proves is that it is difficult to make predictions.

    @sam How do you know? Maybe he’ll be proved correct in 50 years.

  • #3758

    troll
    Participant

    The US is actually shrinking world populationas they also are having 1.7 children per couple. Their growth, like the UK is purely down to net immigration.

    In planetary terms that means they’re not contributing to population growth at all.

    Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_United_States

  • #3759

    jam
    Participant

    As countries develop their birth rate drops.

    @niles The problem I have with the statement is it’s a bit of a cop out. The population is arguably already way too high to sustain ourselves in concert with all the other flora and fauna on the planet.

    And as we develop it has been shown we consume far far more per person.

    Hoping development will solve the problem is little more than simply hoping things will get better.

  • #3760

    berty
    Participant

    Yes – exactly the problem. However we already have mass birth control. If you’re poor, it’s very, very hard to have and keep children. It will only get more and more difficult. Removing the options for poor people (e.g. dismantling the social safety net)

    @peter Is it hard for the poor to have and keep kids? I live in a very poor area and used to live in an exceptionally (for the UK) poor area and the residents seem to me to be breeding out of control yet my peer group who in the most part are all working folks ranging from factory workers to research scientists typically only have between 1 and 3 kids. Also you mention have and keep, those that do have kids removed tend to have more so that doesn’t make any difference to the population numbers.

  • #3761

    dizzy
    Participant

    The only way around it is to reduce consumption at the wealthy end and reduce birth rate at the poor end, whether either of these are realistically achievable, and in a time frame that will make a difference, I sadly doubt it.

    As for religion being blamed for high birth rate, it certainly plays a part, however I think it is over simplistic to pin the blame there. The drive to reproduce is extremely strong. I have several well educated (uni, own businesses) female friends, all of whom have 3 (surviving) children (so above replacement rate). This is despite birth injuries and nearly dying themselves in certain cases. You only have to look at the Duchess of Cambridge, Hyperemesis Gravida is grim (I’ve been there), yet the drive to reproduce has driven her to have an additional child (some might say unnecessary, she already has a boy and a girl, heir and a spare) yet she had chosen to put herself through it all again. There is little or no logic in these situations, so how you control it without draconian Chinese style policies I have no idea. The only upside in the above families is they generally have much wider generation gaps.

  • #3762

    sam
    Participant

    How do you know? Maybe he’ll be proved correct in 50 years.

    @peter Malthus posed the problem of food production in 1798, but it was very much a zero sum game argument and failed to predict mechanisation, hybridisation and a range of other factors that revolutionised food production. So he was definately proved wrong.

    There maybe some neo-Malthusian arguments, which may be proved right in time, but predictions tend to make idiots of us.

  • #3764

    erick
    Participant

    There’s a simple answer.

    Maximum of 2 children per couple. Worldwide. That’s fair in that you are not preventing any one having children and it’s not proposing anything anywhere near as severe as “culling”. With the population declining at a significant rate, with some couples not having children or only 1, and some children not reaching reproductive age.

    A simple idea but probably impossible to get the world to agree unless/until things get considerably worse, and very hard to enforce.

  • #3765

    Niles
    Participant

    @peter In developed countries the birthrate is falling and hence the natural population will shrink over time.

    Luckily we are able to prevent the population from retracting by immigration.

    The Chinese found that limiting the number of children is economically disastrous. The main problem being old people had no one to care for them. To maintain their productivity they had to bring masses of people into the towns and take them off the farms.

    People eat far too much and create too much waste due to consumerist economic policies, not due to population size. There’s no need to introduce population control, population controls itself. What we need to do is control rampant consumerism. Don’t confuse consumerism with capitalism, they’re different. Capitalism works well as long a controls are put in place.

  • #3768

    SAFFY
    Participant

    The only way to reduce population is if we have a visitation from 1 or more of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse.

    However, with modern medicine, peace, etc., we have largely eliminated their visits.

    Whilst this is for the good of individuals, I suggest that it is to the detriment of us as a species, because there are too many of us for the food, land and other resources available. In the animal kingdom this leads to starvation, disease, fighting over resources – the 4 horsemen in fact.

    If measures are not put in place to first stop population increase, and then furthermore to actually reduce the population, then I see no alternative to war or famine as starters – in much the same way as any animal population when put under stress.

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