Population: too high, or too low?

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Bludgeon
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Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Bludgeon » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:13 pm

I have been wanting to put up a post on this subject for a while.

I find I generally do not agree with this unsupported notion that the population has always got to be on the rise for a country to be thriving. I realize the prevailing notion suggests that the economic models in place depend on the population growing -- I really don't buy it; and even if I did, I would say that depending on the birth rate to exponentially increase ad infinitum is a pretty bad idea in the long run.
The arithmetic of population growth is simple — more citizens need to be added to the population pool than are being lost every year. Natural births and natural deaths account for only part of this equation; the other half is captured by immigration and emigration. In Japan’s case, population dynamics so far have been affected primarily by a decline in births. Given high life expectancies and a generational population boom in the decades following the Second World War, Japan’s population pyramid is top-heavy, with over 20 percent of the population 65 or older. Furthermore, Japan’s current fertility rate, according to the World Bank, sits at 1.39 births per woman — one of the lowest in the world.

I really feel that it's the other way around, and losing more people than we're giving birth to is a really good idea. I feel like the environmentalists really ought to feel me on this, as each person not replaced is a carbon footprint that is not replaced. One less car on the road. One less TV, one less air conditioner, one less refrigerator. From an environmentalist's stand point, not replacing every person who dies with two people who are born would do more towards their goal of reducing CO2 than all the Prius's in the world. The population is 7 billion, wouldn't 6 billion be a lot better, 100 years from now?

I see Japan's population decrease as a positive, instinctual response to a blind, destructive policy of human proliferation. I would describe their population as having been at critical mass for a long, long time. Choosing not to bring more, it's just the civilized thing to do.

I feel like the case for overpopulation is far from established. Yeah, old people are going to live a long time. The solution isn't to pay for it all by demanding the next generation is so large that the senior population is dwarfed by sheer numbers. What happens when the next generation is ready to retire? They need to be dwarfed too? How many generations can the world pull off that hat trick?

Yet here we are, trying to do just that.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Huckleby » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:22 pm

It's hard to argue with what you are saying. IT certainly would be preferable to have a viable economy that didn't depend on growth.

I saw a profile on TV of some guy who makes a fortune writing books and doing speaking engagements on this topic. He is generally an anti-government, far-right guy, but he also is very pro-environment. And his anti-growth agenda is hardly conservative. He's a wealthy guy who lives on a self-sustaining farm managed by his wife. I imagine you know who I'm talking about, sounds like you read his books.

Bludgeon
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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Bludgeon » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:35 pm

I don't know who it is, but I can appreciate that take. I would not agree with the conservative principle that GDP has to be constantly on the rise, or having as many kids as possible. I actually don't read a lot of media, I just interpret what I do see. I mean I think there are negative consequences to overpopulation beyond just environmental impact; essentially a society can reach a point where it has so many people that even simple problems become unmanageable.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby snoqueen » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:46 pm

Zero population growth was a big thing several decades ago, and for all I know it may still be around. And maybe you'd like googling "steady state economics" for more thoughts on the concept the economy does not have to be growing all the time to be sustainable.

I tend to sympathize with on an idealistic level, but the problem lies in getting from here to there.

Bludgeon
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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Bludgeon » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:24 pm

I agree that's the problem. I think the solution begins with debunking our crude notion that we need to rely on population overgrowth to sustain this current social model; and maybe debunking the notion that we need to sustain it at all. Our modern economies aren't modern anymore; to some extent, they're about 140 years old.

One thing, I look around and see environmentalists have had a good knack for getting their policy ideas enacted, I think overpopulation should be a bigger concern for them. I mean, if CO2 was really important to me, I think I would have to conclude that the surest way to reduce the most carbon emissions, would be to find economic alternatives, in addition to energy alternatives, that didn't rely on human proliferation. Finding ways to make wind and solar viable is hard -- I think by contrast, finding viable ways to host a thriving economy and manage senior care should be easy.

To some extent, liberals and conservatives alike are prone to make statements suggesting an ideal where mankind is more at a balance with the natural world. Most of what's bandied about in politics seems almost irrelevent to me. Confronting overpopulation and outdated economic models in a meaningful way is practically the only thing worth talking about, in my opinion.

In any case, it's high time for some new thinking on outmoded economic theories. While keeping Social Security programs that are now vested around the world, there has to be more ways to consolidate the goal of providing for ourselves and our parents and our children when we respectively retire.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Bludgeon » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:43 pm

This quote again from the same article, I found to be a somewhat enlightening depiction of the wisdom of instinct over the folly of our current policies.

Other problems for Japan include recent trends among its youth that have come to regard sex as superfluous and unnecessary. One report from last year found that 45 percent of Japanese women aged 16-24 are “not interested in … sexual contact,” as are 25 percent of Japanese men. The Japanese government, beginning in the 2000s, has attempted to address the fertility issue more seriously. Public funding is available for in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatment. Still, raising the fertility rate is one of the most challenging policy endeavors possible — for any country.

So I also kind of feel like no matter what our policy is, people just reach a point where they're not going to do it. To me, having a kid sounds like a nightmare. I talk to a lot of people in their 20's and 30's, they just don't want to do it. Somewhow this whole line of conversation brings two mind two different movies: "Children of Men", and "Idiocracy". Seen Children of Men? It's a real swell flick. Both these movies are from 2006, ironically.

Of course, who could forget the intro to Idiocracy:

Image

NARRATOR (V.O.)
As the twenty-first century began,
human evolution was at a turning
point. Natural selection, the process
by which the strongest, the smartest,
the fastest reproduced in greater
number than the rest, a process which
had once favored the noblest traits
of man...Now began to favor different traits...

While most science fiction of the
day predicted a future that was more
civilized and more intelligent...

...all signs indicated that the human
race was heading in the opposite
direction -- a dumbing down.

How did this happen? Evolution does
not make moral judgments. Evolution
does not necessarily reward that
which is good or beautiful. It simply
rewards those who reproduce the most.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby narcoleptish » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:43 am

I think the root cause of every major problem the world faces can be traced to either overpopulation, religion, greed, or cable TV.

rabble
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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby rabble » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:51 am

narcoleptish wrote:I think the root cause of every major problem the world faces can be traced to either overpopulation, religion, greed, or cable TV.

Damn. I would have sworn that Grand Theft Auto would be in there somewhere.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby gargantua » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:02 pm

narcoleptish wrote:I think the root cause of every major problem the world faces can be traced to either overpopulation, religion, greed, or cable TV.

I would like to nominate stupidity. Religion isn't quite broad enough to cover the full category.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Comrade » Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:44 pm

Selfishness?

People whom are extremely self absorbed?

You wouldn't add that to the list?

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Dairylander » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:09 am

"The powers that be" already have a plan to reduce the population by 90%.
A good introduction would be the first commandment of the Georgia Guidestones.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Guidestones

narcoleptish
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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby narcoleptish » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:54 am

The Guidestones are interesting. I've never seen any of the shows about them but find it hard to believe they went up on county land with no record of who was responsible. The ten guiding principles make absolute sense. I'd be happy if we followed them all.

We could be on the verge of a little population adjustment with this latest ebola outbreak in Guinea that has spread to their Capital city and two neighboring countries.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Dangerousman » Tue Apr 01, 2014 11:46 am

I've read once that you could house the entire population of the Earth in an area the size of Texas. Nevertheless I've always thought the worldwide population was way too high. If I could restructure it, I'd have probably no more than a billion people world-wide, with most of them concentrated in areas that can sustain the local population easily and the less hospitable areas lightly populated, or nearly unpopulated.

massimo
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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby massimo » Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:10 pm

Interesting. 7.1 billion people / 268,820 miles^2 =

26.4k people/mile^2

This is about the density of New York City.

A NYC the size of TX, that's nuts.

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Re: Population: too high, or too low?

Postby Marvell » Tue Apr 01, 2014 3:17 pm

massimo wrote:A NYC the size of TX, that's nuts.


Oh, I dunno - think of all the shawarma.


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