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Thread: Global overpopulation?

  1. #1 Global overpopulation? 
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Back in the 60's a lot of people were talking about global overpopulation. Recently this doesn't seem to be much of an issue any more, but shouldn't we worry about this? Isn't there a limit to the number of people our planet can sustain?

    Some figures on world population:
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/img/worldpop.gif
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/img/worldgr.gif

    In some way we, humans, are in a very strange position. Never before has an animal so completely outcompeted it's natural enemies. As a result of this position there's is no natural limit to our population growth. So without any intervention, our population would keep growing beyond the capacity of the earth.


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  3. #2 Re: Global overpopulation? 
    Forum Isotope (In)Sanity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Back in the 60's a lot of people were talking about global overpopulation. Recently this doesn't seem to be much of an issue any more, but shouldn't we worry about this? Isn't there a limit to the number of people our planet can sustain?

    Some figures on world population:
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/img/worldpop.gif
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/img/worldgr.gif

    In some way we, humans, are in a very strange position. Never before has an animal so completely outcompeted it's natural enemies. As a result of this position there's is no natural limit to our population growth. So without any intervention, our population would keep growing beyond the capacity of the earth.
    Mother nature has a way of taking care of this. Disease being one of them, natural disasters being another. Man also does a pretty good job at killing each other. I think if we removed all these elements we would already be overpopulated.


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  4. #3 Re: Global overpopulation? 
    Forum Freshman kristian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Back in the 60's a lot of people were talking about global overpopulation. Recently this doesn't seem to be much of an issue any more, but shouldn't we worry about this? Isn't there a limit to the number of people our planet can sustain?

    Some figures on world population:
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/img/worldpop.gif
    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/img/worldgr.gif

    In some way we, humans, are in a very strange position. Never before has an animal so completely outcompeted it's natural enemies. As a result of this position there's is no natural limit to our population growth. So without any intervention, our population would keep growing beyond the capacity of the earth.
    The current scientific view, the way I have understood it, is that the population growth will follow a S-curve, instead of pure exponential growth. In other words, the growth will level out, somewhere around 10-12 billion people.

    Mechanisms to hold the growth in check:

    - Disease (as (In)Sanity pointed out)
    - Decrease in fertility due to pollution
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    It may be true that population growth will level off, but then the next question is: what is overpopulation? Depending on this definition 10-12 bilion may allready be too much.

    I think you could define overpopulation as a situation where the size of the population is beyond ideal, where problems arise because of the population size. In some way this is allready the case in a lot of countries, where population growth exceeds economic growth, creating poverty.

    This may become a real problem. When greenhouse-gas emission is altering the climate, we can impose legal limits to this emission. But when overpopulation is creating problems, do we allow governments to limit the amount of children we may have? I don't expect a lot of people do support such a measure, besides perhaps in some communist states.
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  6. #5  
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    Population growth is a wonderful thing. First of all, we can sustain enormous amounts of life. Look at China, and we can fit the world population in Liechtenstein.

    The problem is the level at which the western world is living. We can not apply this standard to anyone. It would just be too taxing on Nature, and we would deplete our natural resources in years.

    Basically, I believe many environmentalists are acting upon data that is generally accepted but flawed (such as the world not being able to support a lot more people), but also that either we need to implement a communistic system or accept extreme rich and extreme poor as a said.

    Mr U
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  7. #6  
    Forum Freshman Swaroop's Avatar
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    so its time we start colonising other planets
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  8. #7  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swaroop
    so its time we start colonising other planets
    Or time to start handing out condoms :wink:

    I agree, mister U, that it's very difficult to conclude from statistical data that the world is overpopulated. But again, especially in developping countries you can reasonably argue that the rate of population growth is a mayor factor in creating (or sustaining) poverty. It's simple math: if pop growth exceeds employment growth or food production, you got trouble. Because in poor countries getting lots of children is actually a survival strategy (more grown up children means more people to help you when you're old), you get trapped.
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  9. #8  
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    Yes, yes. Naturally. That's what I mean with making the tough choice. We have to accept that we can't solve poverty anymore. The only way we can solve it is if we gradually expand our 'cilivilisation', our structure of social welfare. If we are able to establish autonomous governments, able to produce food in abundance, and able to make sure that they can support their population, and make unique products to keep the economy going and to make sure the population keeps developing in new, exciting ways, we can never hope to expect an end to poverty.

    Now despite economic growth in China, it will never become autonomous when it comes to producing food. They can not produce enough food, because there are too many people. Unless we see a technological revolution that allows us to massively create food, we won't be able to slowly treat poverty, through solving the food problem.

    It's really quite odd. We see that less and less people are required for 'work'. We need more and more professionals, more highly educated people. I don't believe it to be odd that professionals, doctors, professors will move from nation to nation where they have to pay the lowest taxes. After all, as 'lowly labor' becomes unnecesary, governments will have to tax the people who are making money, and who are in fact working.

    The future looks grim for the people who are not highly educated. But, I do not expect my children (and I'm 17, lol) to encounter this. I think we can expect this to happen gradually, over a long time.

    I do not at all appreciate the panic that is often caused by governments to keep the people in line. I just wish one politician would come on tv, and say, "People you are going to be okay. The chance of a terrorist attack, or a gigantic flood, or anything else limiting you in your way of life is nihil". Sadly, that's not about to happen. Governments that rule without fear gradually lose power.

    Mr U
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  10. #9  
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    Of course overpopulation is a problem. There's too many of us already, and it's getting worse. But I have relative faith that nature will find a way to take care of the problem before it's completely too late.

    In the mean time... well, now you all know why I don't plan to have children. I'm screwing up the planet enough just by being alive myself.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beryl
    In the mean time... well, now you all know why I don't plan to have children. I'm screwing up the planet enough just by being alive myself.
    That's a nice form of idealism :wink: Thought one child should be ok I guess.
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  12. #11  
    Forum Sophomore vslayer's Avatar
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    the problem causing overpopulation is immigration, everyone is moving from their hoem country and being replaced by immigrants.
    then when immigrants make up 30% of the population, the government starts incentives for people to have more chlidren so that their country doesn't "die out".
    what really should be done, is governments promoting immigration and the cultural and ethnic diversity whcih it creates.

    if people wolud stop seeing themselves as a country, and start seeing everyone on the planet as a species, then they would breed sensibly instead of having 5 children
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  13. #12  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vslayer
    then when immigrants make up 30% of the population, the government starts incentives for people to have more chlidren so that their country doesn't "die out".
    That may be one of the reasons, although I haven't heard it before :wink: However, the problem of overpopulation is biggest in relatively poor countries, while immigration is mostly an issue in rich countries (Europe has high immigration numbers, but our pop growth is close to zero). So it can't be the only reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by vslayer
    if people would stop seeing themselves as a country, and start seeing everyone on the planet as a species, then they would breed sensibly instead of having 5 children
    Indeed. Nationalism has brought enough bloodshed and hatred allready, time to reject it. I like to look at a country as a group of people. Immigrants become part of this group, and therefore change the group (the country). They are no 'foreign elements', they are part of the country in it's new form.
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  14. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    Quote Originally Posted by Beryl
    In the mean time... well, now you all know why I don't plan to have children. I'm screwing up the planet enough just by being alive myself.
    That's a nice form of idealism :wink: Thought one child should be ok I guess.
    I'm not saying that I think it's wrong of people to have kids or anything; it's just that I myself feel that it isn't worth what it'll do to the planet, especially when adoption is an option I'm equally content with.
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  15. #14  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Nearly all the posts agree that over-population is at least a problem if not the biggest one. One "solution" proposed was to allow nature to take its course . . . the biological curve, Robert Malthus, etc. . . Yes, that is one way to go! In a world loaded with nuclear weapons and plague pathogens, we could end up with a population crash capable of returning us to where we were 10,000 years ago!

    Colonizing our solar system was proposed. Looking out with the intent to spread mankind out endlessly into the rest of the universe could keep the human race on track forever. However, before we can begin to do that, we need to restructure world society. Colonizing space is not a way to relieve our over-population. It is not a way of getting rid of excess people. We cannot expand out into the universe the same way we expanded into Australia and the US! We have to solve the over-population problem first.

    What keeps us from solving it is the old religions. The evolution of religion traces back through the Mother Goddess faith built on agricultural fertility doctrines. It is built into them because it worked then. Now, it does not, but religions are not known for their flexability!

    At http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com the focus is in building an old-religion free world view and way of thinking that could replace all the old faiths and eventually bring the whole world together enough to finally take control over our own numbers---and then look to the colonizing of the universe.

    Is it possible for us to take charge of our future, or destinty, this way? Well, don't we have "free will?" If we have, then why not do it?

    charles
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  16. #15  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    "If we humans need common goals so we can work together in common to achieve them, why not have a "save-this-planet-and-colonize-space" world-view-and-goal (in other words, a secular-science ideology or "secular-science religion")? Without it, it is not possible to replace the ones who are preparing to destroy the world for a mythological "God's Kingdom."
    source: http://humanpurpose.simplenet.com

    Sounds like the philosophes of the enlightenment era, which are my great heroes by the way :wink:
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  17. #16  
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    If we sit back and leave things to nature we'll be inviting disaster. Like, nature has a way of dealing with you if you don't eat - you starve. We have no choice, if we prefer to preserve/create a planet that we would be happy for our kids to inhabit- we have to work at it.
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