Population Poser

There is a lot said and written about climate change and what should be done about it. We are urged to reduce our carbon emissions. The assumption is that climate change is a problem that can be solved by altering our mode of living. But climate change is not a problem, it is a symptom of a problem.

The real problem is the huge, enormous, out-of-control human population. This morning, there were 6,897,307,682 human beings infesting the planet. This number of people cannot be sustained without industrial, mechanized agriculture and distribution systems, which rely on fossil fuels to work. You may drive your electric car or hybrid, but those technologies are not suited to, say, a combine harvester or a container ship, and your car emissions are a drop in the ocean compared to the gigatonnes of greenhouse gases pumped out by industry and farted out by the millions of head of livestock we require to keep our population fed. The principal resource upon which we rely to sustain our population are fossil fuels in general, and particularly oil. These are not renewable and are becoming depleted as we use them up at an ever-increasing rate.

Overpopulation is common in nature. When resources are abundant, populations grow exponentially until the resources are depleted and the environment is degraded to the extent that the depleted resources cannot easily recover, and (if migration is not possible) then the population undergoes a collapse, and (if the species is lucky enough not to become extinct) remains at a low level until the depleted resources recover and the population can begin to grow again.

Our consumption of non-renewable resources can be likened to herds of elephants that push over trees to get at the topmost leaves, killing the trees until the forest has turned into grassland and there is nothing left to eat. Then, amidst much plaintive trumpeting, the animals die. In 1989 Richard C. Duncan published the ‘Olduvai Theory’ in which he claimed that industrial civilization has a life span of about 100 years, and that per-capita energy production would begin to decrease in the early 21st century. Electrical power shortages would begin to occur, and shortly thereafter the energy shortages would lead to a decrease in the production of food.

Why do human beings continue to breed in such numbers when it is clear that to do so is disastrous?
I don’t know, but I suspect it’s because most people don’t know—they cannot project current trends into the future and read their fate there. I was listening to a radio talk show the other day, and the hostess said that we cannot ask people to reduce the number of children they have because it’s ‘culturally sensitive’. What poppycock! this is too important to allow it to fall victim to political correctness–the fate of our species is at stake.

So is there a solution? We could do nothing; let nature take her course. What would happen then? I foresee that as the resources we require to merely survive become more and more scarce, people will begin to fight for them. Conflict and violence will become the default mode for those wishing to survive, but most will die amidst great suffering. Yes, nature will take care of our population problem, but there will be no such thing as human civilization at the end of the process.

In 1968 Garrett Hardin came up with a solution he called ‘mutual coercion mutually agreed upon’. People must be made to agree to do voluntarily what’s best for the group as whole. As he points out, this will not be easily achieved, especially in Western cultures where freedom, in reproduction as elsewhere, is regarded so highly. Perhaps the Chinese strategy of limiting women to a single birth is the way to go, enforced by compulsory sterilization following the birth of the child.

I can offer no solution of my own, but if you wish to do what’s best for your species, please turn off the lights and keep your zipper closed.

Creative Commons License
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License

4 Responses to Population Poser

  1. turbut says:

    I surely do concur with what you say, but neither of us will live long enough to see the results of what we predict. I’m a retired geologist and have worked in many countries . The poverty I encountered is nothing that was created in a single generation, but rather the cumulative result of uncontrolled breeding over generations that produced more people than could exist in harmony with nature. How do we change people’s attitude? How do we make them aware of the crisis that our environment and the world we live in face? It is all too easy to answer:”Education”, but it is too late for that. We are on a path that cannot be stopped, regardless of what we do.

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  4. mikeo28 says:

    It concerned me for a deal of time that the population of the Earth is increasing at a rapid rate. Being an old guy I am aware of a rise of many billions in my lifetime. Suddenly one day the penny dropped it increases because it can! We pretend humans have control for instance there are some mad people who think they can decrease the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Western civilisation is in fact decreasing that is the Caucasian part of it. There are great dangers in this I suggest you listen to Steyn on the issue. By giving up breeding we offer the opportunity for others to take over and he predicts with good reasoning that the Muslim world will fill the gap. This will take over Western civilisation and a theocracy established.

    Western civilisation was founded on the availability of fossil fuel. By ending the use of fossil fuel if we could, we would end civilisation. It is only the west that is trying this. Alternative energy is having no effect that is measurable on the planet’s atmospheric CO2 content. It is definitely though having a huge economic effect. Here in Australia we are having statewide blackouts and business is closing. If you read about deep ecology you will find that from their point of view renewable energy is effective. It is not about CO2 it is about the economy since they want and eco-centric world. End fossil fuels they say because they know that will achieve their aims. Take the population back to do about 1 billion and cause the collapse of just about everything we know of civilisation.

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