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← U.N. Forecasts 10.1 Billion People by Century’s End

U.N. Forecasts 10.1 Billion People by Century’s End - Comments

ajs261's Avatar Comment 1 by ajs261

It may have been Richard Dawkins who said, "those who advocate natural forms of population control will get one in the form of starvation," or someone else. Nonetheless, I would argue this is bad news for Africa as a whole but good news for religious organisations like the Catholic Church, whose hold over the world's most impoverished will remain just as strong, if not stronger as the situation deteriorates.

Wed, 04 May 2011 20:55:26 UTC | #623090

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 2 by Stafford Gordon

Commenrt 1: ajs261

Whole in one.

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:05:56 UTC | #623092

William33's Avatar Comment 3 by William33

This pisses me off because it will be people like me in the wealthy countries of the West that will pay for this rubbish.

You know what... I say let them starve. That's the most humane thing we can do. There are actually places out there that depend on food aid, years later the population relient on aid increases because a new generation grows up and multiplies like rabbits.

We have to realise a bad investment and simply stop what we're doing before we loose more resources.

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:14:46 UTC | #623095

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 4 by God fearing Atheist

Hans Rosling's TED talks on the issue are always fun to watch:-

Hans Rosling and the magic washing machine (Dec 2010)

Hans Rosling: The good news of the decade? (Sep 2010)

Hans Rosling on global population growth (Jun 2010)

Hans Rosling: Let my dataset change your mindset (Jun 2009)

Hans Rosling's new insights on poverty (Mar 2007)

Hans Rosling shows the best stats you've ever seen (Feb 2006)

Or, if you want something more controversial, here is Marvin Minsky being a naughty boy (@2:10-2:30).

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:19:08 UTC | #623099

kantastisk's Avatar Comment 5 by kantastisk

Comment 3 by William33 :

This pisses me off because it will be people like me in the wealthy countries of the West that will pay for this rubbish.

You know what... I say let them starve. That's the most humane thing we can do. There are actually places out there that depend on food aid, years later the population relient on aid increases because a new generation grows up and multiplies like rabbits.

We have to realise a bad investment and simply stop what we're doing before we loose more resources.

I don't even know where to begin... What a horrible, horrible thing you've written.

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:38:10 UTC | #623107

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 6 by bachfiend

A human population of 10 billion certainly won't happen. Food production would have to increase by at least 40%. Since we're using almost all the available arable land, it means the productivity per hectare would have to increase by 40%, meaning the use of more fertilizers (made from petroleum products) and peak oil, if it hasn't already happened, will happen long before 2100.

One billion people depend on fish for animal protein, and the world's fishing industry is being successfully managed into extinction.

Global warming might make Siberia and northern Canada warm enough for agriculture, but I wonder how fertile the soil there will be, having been scoured by the 50 or so glaciations of the present ice age. I think to grow decent crops there would require generous applications of non-existent fertilizers.

We really need to be planning for an age when energy is no longer cheap and international transport limited. All our present shipping runs on diesel oil, so unless we can reverse engineer them to run on coal (and the profession of coal stoker becomes an honoragain one again) or we invest a lot in coal liquefaction, transporting whatever food reserves there are to famine stricken regions will be a thing of the past.

And that's even before the effects of global warming are considered. I think Malthus will be shown to have been right after all.

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:43:46 UTC | #623110

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 7 by Andrew B.

And some feminists called for less focus on population control and more on empowering women.

Family planning rests greatly on education and on women retaining control of their own bodies. Both of these are actually part of the empowerment of women. They aren't different objectives, one is a goal and the other is a means of achieving that goal. Family planning is a feminist issue.

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:44:59 UTC | #623112

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 8 by glenister_m

Re: Comment 3 by William33

I didn't think letting someone starve to death is more humane than doing something...

However from a (world) resource perspective, the average Westerner consumes several times more resources and has a much larger carbon footprint than the average African. So in that sense, reducing the population of Western countries (eg. 10-25%) would allow us to feed more people (eg. 20-60%) in the world than a similar reduction in the population of African countries.

Much like investing in renewable resources, spending more money now to educate and raise the standard of living in Third World countries would pay off (help everyone) much more in the future, rather than ignoring the problem and having (everyone) pay the consequences later.

Unfortunately we've been doing a bad investment by exporting religion/ignorance rather than health and education. That is what needs to stop.

We live in a global village. Resource shortages and diseases now affect everyone.

(am I feeding a troll?)

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:46:55 UTC | #623114

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 9 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 9 by glenister_m :

(am I feeding a troll?)

Probably.

Wed, 04 May 2011 21:52:16 UTC | #623118

ergaster's Avatar Comment 10 by ergaster

David Attenborough gave a speech on this very topic at the Royal Society not long ago.

It's a fantastic speech. Do take the time to listen: People and planet

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:00:14 UTC | #623120

AnAtheistBastard's Avatar Comment 11 by AnAtheistBastard

Almost a billion new humans in only 12 years, wow.

Aside from population control, how else can we help alleviate this problem? Expansion to Mars? Mass vegetarianism? Large scale war (which, unfortunately, seems the most likely outcome)?

There are some pretty smart people on this site. I'm sure some of you have ideas on how we can avoid a Tragedy of the Commons?

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:16:09 UTC | #623124

JuJu's Avatar Comment 12 by JuJu

Well, luckily for us someone discovered a way to eat the sun by gazing at it.

link text

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:17:26 UTC | #623125

Daisy Skipper's Avatar Comment 13 by Daisy Skipper

This wouldn't be one of the biggest concerns for our planet if the world would stop oppressing women in places like Africa! Let them become educated, give them access to HIV drugs and let them make decisions about the size of their families.

For too long the West has only worried about corporate profit and pleasing religious organizations (the very organizations that restrict access to birth control in these places).

I would love to see the population of many places in this world (like Africa) be much lower. This doesn't involve starving anyone - or at least is doesn't have to. People get so worked up when talking about overpopulation.... as if the only solution involves murder! The population attrition that would naturally occur from having a healthy, educated society should be enough.

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:18:09 UTC | #623126

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 14 by bachfiend

Comment 11 by ergaster :

David Attenborough gave a speech on this very topic at the Royal Society not long ago.

It's a fantastic speech. Do take the time to listen: People and planet

I started to watch it, but I don't need to finish it. New Statesman printed the speech in full in the April 25 issue, and I read it not knowing that it was written by David Attenborough (on the Kindle, authorship isn't acknowledged to the end). I agreed with everything he said. Reading his speech is much better because you can reread sections immediately. I liked his quote 'Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad - or an economist'. The idea that the only measure of a country's success is never-ending increases in GDP is just folly.

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:19:04 UTC | #623127

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 15 by BowDownToGizmo

Comment 10 by AtheistEgbert :

Comment 9 by glenister_m :

(am I feeding a troll?)

Probably.

It's an extreme viewpoint but it isn't as absurd as your natural instincts tell you . It's more useful to consider in this modified form:

"If I pay for more food for starving and growing populations now, the populations will continue to grow, and eventually I will not be able to provide more food. Then a larger population of people will starve to death and I will have been an active participant in bringing around this catastrophe"

Your natural instincts flare up because it involves turning a blind eye instead and letting some people starve, which is a horrible thought. However, you have to keep in mind the alternative.

I would however advocate a viewpoint more along the lines of:

"I provide food to a starving population but this population is growing out of control and ultimately beyond my means to provide food as a result of high population growth. I need to adjust the ratio between the food aid I provide and the family planning aid I provide as I have a clear need to focus more on reducing population growth than providing more food"

We don't have to do all or nothing, we just have the ratio way out of step at the moment (because providing food is less controversial than providing family planning, thanks religion).

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:22:03 UTC | #623129

yesnomaybe's Avatar Comment 16 by yesnomaybe

Only increased wealth will halt the rate of population growth. People get wealthier they have less children. People get wealthier they consume more resources. People get wealthier they live longer. Proportion of old to young changes in favour of old, less productive members. People won't easily accept a reduction in living standards, thus more instability, political chaos.

I can't see any way out of this morass. What am I missing?

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:22:40 UTC | #623131

richard jr miles's Avatar Comment 17 by richard jr miles

The meek shall inherit the earth,by sheer weight of numbers!

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:25:37 UTC | #623132

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 18 by BowDownToGizmo

Oh and I should probably promote the UK organisation "Population Matters" of which Attenborough is a chairman. If like me you think the population growth problem outweighs any other (for both its role in every other global problem and the political difficulties in dealing with it) please do consider joining/supporting them, a much better spent penny than most other charities today I dare propose.

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:26:24 UTC | #623134

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 19 by BowDownToGizmo

Comment 17 by yesnomaybe :

Only increased wealth will halt the rate of population growth. People get wealthier they have less children. People get wealthier they consume more resources. People get wealthier they live longer. Proportion of old to young changes in favour of old, less productive members. People won't easily accept a reduction in living standards, thus more instability, political chaos.

I can't see any way out of this morass. What am I missing?

You are missing that if people have less children their land/wealth is divided amongst less people when they die. Reducing population size and poverty go hand in hand. This has been shown to be very effective in Bangladesh where the micro-finance institution Grameen bank has insisted it's borrower's sign a commitment to 16 social objectives, one of which is to keep their families small.

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:31:17 UTC | #623135

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 20 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 17 by yesnomaybe :

I can't see any way out of this morass. What am I missing?

You are missing the rise of the machine/computer/robot.

Three examples:-

1) About 30 years ago ATMs revolutionised banking. The number of people required behind the counter fell.

2) Half the road sweepers I see are driving a little sweeping machine. One man and machine probably replaces 3 men with brooms.

3) Over the last few years every supermarket I know has installed automated checkouts. They have one member of staff per 6 machines to help out customers who get stuck. The Tesco Metro across the road from my work only has automatic checkouts, and the only time I have been in there, only one member of staff was visible.

Many shops no longer take cheques. Tesco now want to get rid of cash. All payment will be by card (debit or credit). Again, it requires less people, but more computers

300 years ago every yard of cloth produced in the entire world was woven by hand, out of yarn spun by hand. The spinning wheel was the height of technology. No one bats an eyelid at the machinery that spawned the industrial revolution.

That process has been going on for over 200 years. How many person-hours does it take to build a car in the latest robotic car factories?

There are obviously jobs for the smart and well educated in designing and implimenting these systems, but I wonder what most of the less educated members of society will do for jobs in 25 years.

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:54:12 UTC | #623141

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 21 by ZenDruid

Any solution to the overpopulation issue which involves politics will inevitably involve war.

Epidemics do not discriminate.

Wed, 04 May 2011 22:59:23 UTC | #623142

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 22 by BowDownToGizmo

Comment 21 by God fearing Atheist :

Comment 17 by yesnomaybe :

I can't see any way out of this morass. What am I missing?

You are missing the rise of the machine/computer/robot.

Three examples:-

1) About 30 years ago ATMs revolutionised banking. The number of people required behind the counter fell.

2) Half the road sweepers I see are driving a little sweeping machine. One man and machine probably replaces 3 men with brooms.

3) Over the last few years every supermarket I know has installed automated checkouts. They have one member of staff per 6 machines to help out customers who get stuck. The Tesco Metro across the road from my work only has automatic checkouts, and the only time I have been in there, only one member of staff was visible.

Many shops no longer take cheques. Tesco now want to get rid of cash. All payment will be by card (debit or credit). Again, it requires less people, but more computers

300 years ago every yard of cloth produced in the entire world was woven by hand, out of yarn spun by hand. The spinning wheel was the height of technology. No one bats an eyelid at the machinery that spawned the industrial revolution.

That process has been going on for over 200 years. How many person-hours does it take to build a car in the latest robotic car factories?

There are obviously jobs for the smart and well educated in designing and implimenting these systems, but I wonder what most of the less educated members of society will do for jobs in 25 years.

Sorry, would you mind if I asked what you were getting at here? I'm afraid I didn't find it clear what you were proposing. Was it that a technological breakthrough will prevent population growth, or that it will end poverty?

Wed, 04 May 2011 23:06:51 UTC | #623146

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 23 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 23 by BowDownToGizmo :

Sorry, would you mind if I asked what you were getting at here? I'm afraid I didn't find it clear what you were proposing. Was it that a technological breakthrough will prevent population growth, or that it will end poverty?

I was addressing this:-

Comment 17 by yesnomaybe :

Only increased wealth will halt the rate of population growth. People get wealthier they have less children. People get wealthier they consume more resources. People get wealthier they live longer. Proportion of old to young changes in favour of old, less productive members. People won't easily accept a reduction in living standards, thus more instability, political chaos.

Emphasis mine.

The political "worry", in at least the UK, is that the ageing population needs to be supported by a population of working age, but that youthful population is shrinking, and therefore we must pump up the birth rate or increase immigration of young people. As David Attenborough stated in his video People and Planet, that is a Ponzi scheme. I was pointing out that young workers are becoming increasingly productive by increased mechanisation, to the extent I suggest there will not even be enough jobs for a depleted youth in a few decades.

Wed, 04 May 2011 23:18:57 UTC | #623147

ANTIcarrot's Avatar Comment 24 by ANTIcarrot

Comment 9 by glenister_m : However from a (world) resource perspective, the average Westerner consumes several times more resources and has a much larger carbon footprint than the average African.

With the minor difference that our behaviour is actually sustainable with a little technological substitution. SPS can provide base load electrical needs several times over. Strong hybids can half petrol use. In comparison there is absolutely no technological fix for exponential population growth. The developing world has to stop that behaviour before we can help them in any meaningful way.

The developed world is also (sadly) far more useful and important in terms of gross human survival because we represent both the brains and brawn of our planet's technological capability. And there is a limit to how much of their current situation can be laid at our door. While in the past we have offered them bad deals, which continues into the present, THEY are the idiots who have said, "Yes please. With seconds if possible. Because dispite the last twenty occasions when you've screwed us over we really trust you this time."

Thu, 05 May 2011 00:01:59 UTC | #623158

skiles1's Avatar Comment 25 by skiles1

"You hear people sayin' there's too many people and not enough food. Jeffery (Dahmer) might have been a visionary...if all of us ate one person each...the problem would be halved overnight...we eat the unemployed: another problem solved." -Billy Connolly

No. I'm not advocating cannibalism. In fact, I have no worthwhile input on the overpopulation problem, but this article reminded me of Connolly.

Thu, 05 May 2011 00:12:43 UTC | #623161

danconquer's Avatar Comment 26 by danconquer

There is more than a whiff - let's call it a stench, actually - of hypocrisy whenever this debate arises. To acknowledge that overpopulation is a problem is necessarily to concede that the planet contains only a limited, finite amount of most resources.

Well if that is true - as I accept it is - then the numbers of people consuming those resources is only one part of the equation. Another equally important factor has to be the distribution of those resources. Unfortunately, some of the publications and individuals who bleat the loudest about 'overpopulation' are amongst the greediest hogs at the global trough. If every human was enabled to consume as much of the Earths resources as the likes of Donald Trump or Rupert Murdoch currently do, then the planet would be well and truly fucked with only a tenth of its current population.

Anyway, I'm pessimistic about successfully tackling the problem. The only country which has successfully addressed the issue is China, whose policies I admire on this issue at least. But if we're honest, we all know the only reason they have been able to implement their one-child policy is precisely because of the lack of democracy. India, which needs a similar policy even more urgently, is not going to get one, because no political party (all of which are in thrall to supernaturalists) are going to commit electoral suicide.

Globally, we need to move humanity away from the notion that it is a 'human right' to fart out as many offspring as you please.

Thu, 05 May 2011 01:15:49 UTC | #623180

danconquer's Avatar Comment 27 by danconquer

It should be noted that some equally reputable voices believe that there is undue pessimism on this subject. One such voice belongs to the environment science writer and journalist Fred Pearce. He has written a book on the matter which I've not yet read, but which seems interesting:

http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Population-Crash-Planets-Surprising/dp/0807001228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304558771&sr=8-1

Thu, 05 May 2011 01:31:24 UTC | #623185

sciencehead78's Avatar Comment 28 by sciencehead78

Comment 11 by ergaster :

David Attenborough gave a speech on this very topic at the Royal Society not long ago. It's a fantastic speech. Do take the time to listen: People and planet

Thanks for that link, hadn't seen that. Its a sad situation, what the hell are we going to do?

Thu, 05 May 2011 02:20:56 UTC | #623197

bachfiend's Avatar Comment 29 by bachfiend

Comment 28 by danconquer :

It should be noted that some equally reputable voices believe that there is undue pessimism on this subject. One such voice belongs to the environment science writer and journalist Fred Pearce. He has written a book on the matter which I've not yet read, but which seems interesting:

http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Population-Crash-Planets-Surprising/dp/0807001228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304558771&sr=8-1

I'll have a look at it (I've already read one of his other books, "With Speed and Violence', and thought it good).

I've downloaded the sample Amazon provides for the Kindle, and I've noticed a few worrying things. He states that the claim that the present human population amounts to half of all the humans who have ever lived is incorrect, because 100 billion humans have existed over time (ie it's closer to 7%). I'm not certain how this 100 billion is calculated. Does it include Homo erectus, habiliis etc going all the way back to our concestor with the chimpanzees? Does it include all conceptions, live births, children who managed to survive to puberty? The map at the start of the book has the most distorted depiction of Australia imaginable. And who is this 'Bob Malthus, a morose eighteenth-century vicar' he mentions as starting his story? OK, his name was Thomas Robert Malthus, but did he ever go by the name Bob?

Thu, 05 May 2011 03:06:58 UTC | #623203

Mamba24's Avatar Comment 30 by Mamba24

What are people's opinions on mandating a one or two child per couple rule, like China has? I mean technology and science can only take us so far, eventually we are going to have to make tough decisions, or else face devastating consequences that involve mass starvation and suffering due to lack of resources and food. Any thoughts? I'm interested to hear what people think.

Thu, 05 May 2011 04:45:12 UTC | #623215