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Thread: Population Growth: The Unsolvable Problem

  1. #1 Population Growth: The Unsolvable Problem 
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    Everything more I learn about economics brings me back to this single problem. Instead of finding answers to how to solve this, the unsolvability of it is simply reinforced.

    At the core, economies run on food. No other product, or economic production can really be substituted for it. You can trade with underpopulated countries, so long as someone out there has a food surplus, but world wide population growth coupled with world trade, causes those countries to become fewer every day and/or for their surplus to get smaller every day. Food growth requires real estate, and the quantity of real estate never increases. (It's quality does, but there are maximum practical limits on quality as well.)

    Then there is energy. As more of the world industrializes, Oil gets more expensive. Uranium/nuclear power might start getting more popular, but it also has the potential to run out. Solar and Wind require real estate, and.... then we're facing the same problem as food.

    World trade enthusiasts often point out that countries can extend their access to resources by trading with each other, but I think sometimes they forget that Planet Earth itself is still a closed system. If all the countries become overpopulated, we're not going to start trading with aliens to solve our problem.


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    I've read that Europe produces three time as much food as it actually needs. Most of this is thrown away the rest is pushed onto neighbouring markets, and this is occurring in one of the most intensively farmed, overpopulated and wasteful part of the world. When you consider that much of the world could improve its food production by using modern equipment or by being less indulgent (meats, wines etc), there seems to me to be a lot of head room left. And all that ignores the potential of GM crops.

    Again with energy i would disagree. Wind, tidal, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal and bio fuels (which can be produced from animal feed waist as they've been doing in Brazil for years) are all renewable energy technologies which are currently available and only requirer the time to become more efficient and therefor cheaper, or for current energy sources to become overwhelmed by the demand and to become more expensive. Throw in others that are currently unfashionable such as carbon capture coal power stations (at least 400 years worth of coal under our feet), nuclear, which is virtually inexhaustible. Cold electricity, hydrogen and fusion power are all other possible alternatives.

    ------------------------

    The two real threats to our standard of living for me would be fresh water supply and population decline.

    Much of the water we've been drinking for a long time now is from underground water sources, many of which have taken thousands if not tens of thousands of years to be created, yet we have exhausted many in just a few hundred years. Throw in changes in weather systems and we really do have an upcoming problem. The only way round this is through desalination plants and to improve our infrastructure to capture as much of the rain as possible.

    Now, population decline . Whilst i believe that all of the above issues can be solved through technology and us using our minds at a political level, population decline for me is something much more fundamental.

    In 1990 women on average, globally, were giving birth over the course of their lifetime to 3.3 children. Last year this had dropped to 2.5. This in general seems to coincide with women rights, which I'm sure we both agree is desirable.

    The problem this creates of course is a top heavy society unable to support the elderly through welfare and charitable donations and there doesn't seem to be a technological solution (nano tech, robotics) on the horizon. The immediate easing of the problem has been immigration, yet that is unsustainable as population growth rate globally decline, and through cut backs in welfare, increasing the retirement age. All of which are proving to be deeply unpopular. The only real solution is for increased/stable population growth rates through tax/financial incentives. Or a fundamental change in our care for the elderly which is almost universal and therefore a change in our humanity.


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    As cat pointed out, population growth is declining. The United Nations predict population stability at 9 billion by 2040. After that, there is a good chance the world will see population falling.

    The world still has lots of resources. Most shortages have a solution that is either political, economic or technological. For example : Uranium is often said to be a declining resource. That is because, currently, humanity is able to economically mine ores down to 80 parts per million purity, and no less. But there is a lot more potential Uranium resource in ores that run at 40 to 60 ppm. It is only a matter of time before exploiting them becomes feasible, with new technology.

    Where resources are seriously being depleted, like oil, then humanity must turn to substitution. To substitute for oil we will use a range of measures, from biofuels, to batteries, to hydrogen fuel cells etc.

    Nothing lasts for ever, but the world is not in immediate danger of annihilation from resource depletion any time before 2100, if not much later.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cat1981(England)
    I've read that Europe produces three time as much food as it actually needs. Most of this is thrown away the rest is pushed onto neighbouring markets, and this is occurring in one of the most intensively farmed, overpopulated and wasteful part of the world. When you consider that much of the world could improve its food production by using modern equipment or by being less indulgent (meats, wines etc), there seems to me to be a lot of head room left. And all that ignores the potential of GM crops.
    But, if you start to look Eastward, Russia can only farm about 10% of its land, because the rest is just plain not arable. So, it's not just a matter of Europe selling its excess. Many Russians would starve if they didn't. If you look at the whole world as a single economy (which is increasingly accurate), I think you would find that net exporters are equaled by net importers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricul...e_Soviet_Union

    But, you are certainly right in pointing out that there exist some countries with disproportionately high ratios of arable land to their populations. That is going to be true of any resource. Certainly Saudi Arabia has more oil than it needs too.



    The two real threats to our standard of living for me would be fresh water supply and population decline.

    Much of the water we've been drinking for a long time now is from underground water sources, many of which have taken thousands if not tens of thousands of years to be created, yet we have exhausted many in just a few hundred years. Throw in changes in weather systems and we really do have an upcoming problem. The only way round this is through desalination plants and to improve our infrastructure to capture as much of the rain as possible.
    And you think we could de-salinate enough water to provide a substantial amount of the population with drinking water? Consider the alternative: if the population were smaller, we wouldn't have to desalinate. Mother nature would be able do all of our desalinating for us, allowing us to use those resources to do other things like building space ships.

    Now, population decline . Whilst i believe that all of the above issues can be solved through technology and us using our minds at a political level, population decline for me is something much more fundamental.

    In 1990 women on average, globally, were giving birth over the course of their lifetime to 3.3 children. Last year this had dropped to 2.5. This in general seems to coincide with women rights, which I'm sure we both agree is desirable.

    The problem this creates of course is a top heavy society unable to support the elderly through welfare and charitable donations and there doesn't seem to be a technological solution (nano tech, robotics) on the horizon. The immediate easing of the problem has been immigration, yet that is unsustainable as population growth rate globally decline, and through cut backs in welfare, increasing the retirement age. All of which are proving to be deeply unpopular. The only real solution is for increased/stable population growth rates through tax/financial incentives. Or a fundamental change in our care for the elderly which is almost universal and therefore a change in our humanity.

    Decline does create a bad ratio of young to old. That is the only strong argument I've ever heard against population control. On the other hand, if you look at China, children are starting to get raised by their grandparents, while their immediate parents go to work.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic

    The world still has lots of resources. Most shortages have a solution that is either political, economic or technological. For example : Uranium is often said to be a declining resource. That is because, currently, humanity is able to economically mine ores down to 80 parts per million purity, and no less. But there is a lot more potential Uranium resource in ores that run at 40 to 60 ppm. It is only a matter of time before exploiting them becomes feasible, with new technology.
    That's a good example, but it seems to point out the problem more than wave it away. Sure a new tech may make smaller PPM's accessible to us, but it also might not. It's like taking out a loan on the basis of a promotion at work that you think you might get, but you're not sure you're going to get.

    What do you do if the promotion doesn't come? Do you really feel entitled to do so much harm to someone else that you would risk bringing children into the world without being fully assured of their economic welfare?
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    I already pointed out that the population is stabilising. If you want to get population decline, then there is a way.

    The problem is not in wealthy nations, where, on average, population growth (excluding immigration) is less than replacement level (2.1 children per couple in countries with good medical care). The problem is in third world countries where fertility is still higher than it should be. Replacement levels are about 2.5 due to higher infant mortality, but fertility is above that.

    However, a series of surveys have shown that couples, in third world countries just as in the west, on average only want 2 children. The reason they have more is lack of access to birth control.

    If you want to drop their fertility levels to below replacement, and get population decline, all that is required is to make birth control universally available. This would require targeted foreign aid in the many billions of dollars per year, but is entirely do-able.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    kojax

    I already pointed out that the population is stabilising. If you want to get population decline, then there is a way.

    The problem is not in wealthy nations, where, on average, population growth (excluding immigration) is less than replacement level (2.1 children per couple in countries with good medical care). The problem is in third world countries where fertility is still higher than it should be. Replacement levels are about 2.5 due to higher infant mortality, but fertility is above that.
    It troubles me that only the least educated populations of people from the worst economies are growing. It ruins the world's demographic composition over time.

    If that's the form that a stable population ends up taking, then we're almost as bad off as if it kept growing.


    However, a series of surveys have shown that couples, in third world countries just as in the west, on average only want 2 children. The reason they have more is lack of access to birth control.

    If you want to drop their fertility levels to below replacement, and get population decline, all that is required is to make birth control universally available. This would require targeted foreign aid in the many billions of dollars per year, but is entirely do-able.
    Yeah. Targeted aid is nearly impossible in a country run by a corrupt government. Even if you can get it to the people in the first place, corrupt officials will try and seize it so they can resell it on the open market for cash.

    Maybe the first world should start focusing more international pressure in this area. Demand that third world governments adopt policies that make this feasible, and then invade them if they refuse.
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  8. #7  
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    I don't think I would advise any military invasions!

    There are always smart ways of getting the job done. In most cases, aid is gratefully accepted. If the government is corrupt, then try to work with them, and see if they can be 'bribed' to permit aid to go through. The only place I could see real problems is in some of the more paranoid Muslim nations, where anything the west does is seen as a conspiracy.
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  9. #8  
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    Hmm, yeah invasion might be a bit much. Maybe what we should do is start categorizing any attempt to interfere at all as a human rights violation. It should be considered a very grievous one, equal to genocide almost. So, any time a humanitarian reason is put forth for us to interfere in another country's affairs, this would be one of the chief areas we look at: how good are they at giving their people access to contraceptives?
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    In 1990 women on average, globally, were giving birth over the course of their lifetime to 3.3 children. Last year this had dropped to 2.5
    Some countries of third world reduced their fertility rates only because there is no
    way to feed more people under current agricultural productivity.If developed countries will invent new breakthroughs in this area it may start all over again.
    Real birth control of nation depends on it's concious self-regulation,but not on resources availability.Therefore developed nations need to help others with birth
    control,contraceptives, and make it tight to humanitarian aid and economic relations.
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  11. #10  
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    Overpopulation is a myth from one perspective, and overpopulation is also not a problem but a symptom of the inadequate use of ressources and information.

    Access to contraception, education and improved conditions would reduce the growth in developing countries.

    And theres enough matter and energy to house and feed everyone on earth, but our current political and economic system favors massive waste of ressources, technical potential and knowledge.

    If there were an alternate planet identical to our own but organized differently, everyone could have access to food, housing, education and be actively engaged in creative and productive endeavors. In our system few control massive ressources, masses have access to neither adequate education or necessities such as food, and techology is suppressed ("Who killed the electric car", non profit making medical solutions gets inadequate funding while profit-making toxic placebos get marketing funds, etc, etc)
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    The above mentioned contraception access theory is falsified by evidence, especially: the North American Baby Boom. Women during the Boom had unprecidented access to contraceptives, and no moral qualms against using them. Returning wartime spouses were a small fraction of the population, so we must discount that romantic explanation. Contraception access can't explain the Baby Boom.

    The spike in births was caused by an unusual economic environment women made their life choices in, dubbed the postwar economic boom. Obscured by the claim that everybody, generally, was wealthier, the gender gap yawned like never before. Women were laid off work so men could take their places. Salaries were explicitly designed for husbands to support families. As for women still holding jobs, to afford a flat and some pretty clothes was reckoned sufficient for the single girl. Women acted accordingly: their best prospect was to become career housewives. Well, some fought this imposed role and started something... but not before a tremendous wave of resolved 2nd class citizens had acted to secure their futures. Crispy bacon is not enough. Neither is beauty, for that fades. The only lasting security to career wives then and now is in having the man's babies. It's simple: The more babies, the more indebted he is.

    Today the countries where women earn the least money relative to men, have the highest birthrates. "Relative" is significant here, because as in the Baby Boom, it's not absolute poverty driving women to take motherhood as best option - it's the income disparity they correct by sharing a man's salary. As usual the Scandinavian countries occupy one extreme, certain Islamic and African countries occupy the other.

    The solution to rampant motherhood is to grant women a better alternative.
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    Pong

    Your thesis that the baby boom cannot be explained by access to contraceptives, and hence the contraceptive idea is wrong ......well, that is simply incorrect.

    For a start, the only effective contraceptive to the baby boom parents was the condom. The pill had not yet been invented. Condoms had been around for a long time at that point - perhaps 100 years, and had made little impact on population growth. Their main use was to permit unmarried gals to have fun and not get pregnant doing so.

    What was needed was a contraceptive method that was under the control of women. It took the pill to achieve that.
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  14. #13  
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    Nah, it doesn't work. Contraceptive access theory explains an increased birthrate where there's a correlated decrease in contraceptive availability. There was no relative lack of access to contraceptives in this case. On the contrary, society steadily became more open regarding contraception, and the manufactured supply of contraceptives easily exceeded demand. Expanding companies got into the business of seriously marketing new & improved products. History contradicts the theory's prediction: that better access to better contraception will lower the birthrate.

    I think we could give women more credit (or blame) for choosing their number of offspring. Besides condoms, and The Pill going to mass production in 1960, women used IUDs or barrier methods like diaphragms, sponges, spermicides, etc. Lower birthrate did not and does not depend on The Pill - for evidence: see Japan has negative growth rate, yet only 1% of Japanese women use The Pill. So individual women can manage family size quite well (maybe too well) without that particular.

    I suggested before that number of offspring depends more on how an individual woman adapts to, or is coerced by, economic conditions. In some countries rearing families is simply the smartest "career" for many women. The state may disagree, but individuals will do what they think best for themselves. Conversely Japanese women may decide - each deciding personally - that they're better off raising fewer children than the state would like. It's a largely economic decision, but in the sense of personal/family finance complicated by gender inequality, not national economy.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    The spike in births was caused by an unusual economic environment women made their life choices in, dubbed the postwar economic boom. Obscured by the claim that everybody, generally, was wealthier, the gender gap yawned like never before. Women were laid off work so men could take their places. Salaries were explicitly designed for husbands to support families. As for women still holding jobs, to afford a flat and some pretty clothes was reckoned sufficient for the single girl. Women acted accordingly: their best prospect was to become career housewives. Well, some fought this imposed role and started something... but not before a tremendous wave of resolved 2nd class citizens had acted to secure their futures. Crispy bacon is not enough. Neither is beauty, for that fades. The only lasting security to career wives then and now is in having the man's babies. It's simple: The more babies, the more indebted he is.

    Today the countries where women earn the least money relative to men, have the highest birthrates. "Relative" is significant here, because as in the Baby Boom, it's not absolute poverty driving women to take motherhood as best option - it's the income disparity they correct by sharing a man's salary. As usual the Scandinavian countries occupy one extreme, certain Islamic and African countries occupy the other.

    The solution to rampant motherhood is to grant women a better alternative.
    I think this side of the problem certainly weighs in.. If women had more options in a third world country, then contraceptives would become more popular and people would start demanding them in quantities large enough to make a difference.

    Let's be honest with ourselves: contraception is not a super costly technology, at least not at the level of condoms, and first world organizations would gladly make up any financial difference to get women on the pill, if local governments were opening the way for it. This is the kind of trivial concession that even a monster like Robert Mugabe wouldn't deny his people if they were clamoring for it.
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    I think population growth and world trade are being overemphasised here. It seems to me that we are all treating other variables as static, when clearly they are not. For example, on the topic of energy, we need to take into account the fact that humans are fundamentally a race that focusses on progression. Energy and food will not be a huge problem to us, because the rate of technological improvement in these areas is greater than the rate of consumption. Since the last few hundred years, we as a race have discovered many alternatives to energy production - energy solutions such as nuclear power have only been utilised since the discovery of nuclear fission and fusion. There is still a long way to go.
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilwill32
    Energy and food will not be a huge problem to us, because the rate of technological improvement in these areas is greater than the rate of consumption. Since the last few hundred years, we as a race have discovered many alternatives to energy production - energy solutions such as nuclear power have only been utilised since the discovery of nuclear fission and fusion. There is still a long way to go.
    If only that were true.

    It might have seemed true 200 years ago when there was always more land to grow more crops, more room for displaced or adventurous people to move to, more coal to burn, unlimited fish in the sea and the sky and the oceans were our unlimited sewers.

    Technology moved people off the land and into the factories. Now it’s moving people out of the factories to…where? 14 million unemployed in the US are wondering. Half a billion people in the world go hungry today. What happened to the technology that was supposed to feed them, and how will that technology feed the next 3 billion? 3 billion more people on the planet does not mean 50% more resources needed than for the current population; it means many times more resources will be consumed and many times more waste will be produced because the new population will not be content to live in squalor. Where will the extra crops be grown when arable land is shrinking due to climate change, and where will populations displaced by climate change move to when we use our technology to close borders as India and the US have already done?

    Your faith in technology is based on viewing the world as it was. We are in a different world now and neither capitalism nor centrally planned economies have the answer to the horrendous problems that are just around the corner. One thing seems obvious – the capitalist icon of “growth at any cost” has got to be revised. Just ask Alan Greenspan.
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    The Green Revolution doubled food productivity per acre. Yet it missed Africa almost entirely. A similar development in better genetics for food plants grown in Africa will double their food productivity per acre.

    Genetic engineering is already showing its potential. The laboratory favourite Arabidopsis, has already been modified sufficiently to double its biomass production. Using appropriate genetic modification to double rice, wheat and corn production per acre is only a matter of time.

    Yes, technology improvement can and will solve the food shortage problem. Remember that population will stabilise at 9 billion according to the UN. Doubling productivity per acre is enough.
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    The Green Revolution doubled food productivity per acre.
    Actually it was even better, more like 2.5 or 3 times, and still there are 800 million undernourished people. The rate of improvement has slowed down while plant diseases (like stem rust) continue to wreak occasional and unpredictable havoc. Trust in a further doubling in time to prevent wide scale starvation is an act of faith, not a guaranteed result.
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    Using appropriate genetic modification to double rice, wheat and corn production per acre is only a matter of time.
    Not too much time we hope. Rice yields are dropping, and what seems significant in the linked article is that this decline is for "green revolution" rice species which were apparently not designed to thrive in higher temperatures.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10918591
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilwill32
    I think population growth and world trade are being overemphasised here. It seems to me that we are all treating other variables as static, when clearly they are not. For example, on the topic of energy, we need to take into account the fact that humans are fundamentally a race that focusses on progression. Energy and food will not be a huge problem to us, because the rate of technological improvement in these areas is greater than the rate of consumption. Since the last few hundred years, we as a race have discovered many alternatives to energy production - energy solutions such as nuclear power have only been utilised since the discovery of nuclear fission and fusion. There is still a long way to go.
    This a total misconception about technology. Tech allows you to do things more efficiently, but you must remember that all efficiency efforts end at 100%. There is no 110%.

    For example: most gasoline engines are about 25% efficient. That means if 10 trillion clones of Albert Einstein worked on improving engine efficiency for 10 trillion years the best they could ever do would be to extend our effective oil supply by 4 times. That's it.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Bunbury

    The Green Revolution doubled food productivity per acre. Yet it missed Africa almost entirely. A similar development in better genetics for food plants grown in Africa will double their food productivity per acre.

    Genetic engineering is already showing its potential. The laboratory favourite Arabidopsis, has already been modified sufficiently to double its biomass production. Using appropriate genetic modification to double rice, wheat and corn production per acre is only a matter of time.

    Yes, technology improvement can and will solve the food shortage problem. Remember that population will stabilise at 9 billion according to the UN. Doubling productivity per acre is enough.
    I agree that there probably is enough untapped farm land (as well as untapped productive potential) to double the current production, so long as we have enough time to accomplish it in before all those 3 billion people arrive. If we're too late accomplishing it, then there's going to be quite a crunch.

    On the other hand, I feel like we're betting an awful lot on that UN study. What if it doesn't happen that way? What if population just keeps growing because nobody takes any effort to stop it? (The problem is a lot harder to solve after the fact than to solve it before hand.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic

    Genetic engineering is already showing its potential. The laboratory favourite Arabidopsis, has already been modified sufficiently to double its biomass production. Using appropriate genetic modification to double rice, wheat and corn production per acre is only a matter of time.
    Modifications that work for Arabidopsis growing in certan conditions are not necessarily useful for all plants growing in all climates. Can you be more specific how it was enhanced?
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    a question literally just occured to me.

    why do we have economic expansion? the classic answer is so that we can all live better lives.

    but when the economy expands so does the population. people aren't content to produce at the death rate when they have excess wealth. whenever we try to improve how much we have we just increase our population to spread out our collective wealth more and more.

    eventually there will be an end to how much we can expand the economy. when this happens are we going to be able to stop reproducing, or will we keep going untill the wealth is spread extremely thin and we're all dirt poor? natural phenomena might be able to curb the human population growth to end at 9 billion, but if it doesn't i don't think that the economy, the government, or the people can stop such a strong force as the desire to overpopulate.

    evolutionarily it makes a lot of sense. we're trying to develop into a culture where people can be happy and not have to fight one another economically, but the natural state of nature is to be in competition so that the strongest survive and the weak die.
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    Quote Originally Posted by saul
    a question literally just occured to me.

    why do we have economic expansion? the classic answer is so that we can all live better lives.
    I'm sure it worked well classically. But I think people forget that Planet Earth is of finite size and has no trading partners. (At least.... as far as I know no alien culture has yet approached us and offered to trade.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    This a total misconception about technology. Tech allows you to do things more efficiently, but you must remember that all efficiency efforts end at 100%. There is no 110%.
    If you want to talk about 100% efficiency, a single 1 GW power plant generates enough energy to feed about 3.2 trillion people at 2000 kcal/day. For practical purposes you don't need to go above 100%.
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    scifor, when you come into possesion of a 1GW powerplant you can try to feed the world, it won't work. there are transportation, space, and labor requirements that you haven't factored in.

    for nine billion people, feeding, clothing, housing, educating, providing electricity for, and providing medical care for every single person won't exactly strain the earth's resources that badly.

    however the projection for population stabilization doesn't exactly make sense. everyone is still going to be making babies like it's the height of the sexual revolution. if every couple is still having more than an average of 2.0 children before dieing, the population will continue to grow.

    the only time that people don't have kids, or that the rate goes down is when the people know they can't afford to raise a kid. and if we keep growing the economy to try and keep up with population growth, the population will keep growing untill the economy can't.

    it takes an artificial means to stop population growth. china's one kid per family rule has seemed to work well but it infringes on human rights (the most basic right i can think of is the right to reproduce). if this isn't a viable option, what can we hope to do to stop the population from growing untill it forces itself not to.
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  27. #26  
    Forum Masters Degree Twit of wit's Avatar
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    Saul, the One Child Policy has never been a "rule" penalizing families of additional children. Understand that China is a welfare state; one child is entitled to considerable benefits, additional children yield much less. Families make a financial calculation and realize they're better off with one child supported by the state, than several they will have to raise on their own.

    ***

    In many economies "housewife" still appears a sure bet for girls who wonder what they'll do with their lives. I've argued before that women have children to secure themselves as career mothers. It's a financial calculation girls make. They're seeing where the wealth is, and taking a share of it by the surest means possible.

    We saw this before during the Baby Boom. Women were laid off work so men could take their places; the male salary was inflated to support a wife & children, as the sole breadwinner. Women reacted accordingly, getting "barefoot and pregnant" to secure a role for themselves within that system. The availability of contraceptives was irrelevant (it was excellent). Factors like GDP or literacy were irrelevant (they were excellent). What mattered was the gap in relative earning potential, by gender.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    by this logic, the more economically equal men and women are, the less we will be able to effectively reproduce. i believe i now understand the religious subjugation of women, it is a very effective meme.

    i must remark that this means the UN suspects that the gender-salary gap will be decreased sufficiently for us to maintain the population but not decreased to the point where the population actually declines.

    as i can see it, all of the variables affecting children/woman in Twit's are going to stabilize or march onward toward decreasing fertility rates.

    so in short, the UN is wrong. we aren't going to stabilize, we're going to have a period of serious population decline in the next one or two hundred years. this actually pleases me, the strain that we put on the world will go down significantly.
    physics: accurate, objective, boring
    chemistry: accurate if physics is accurate, slightly subjective, you can blow stuff up
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    religion: accurate if people are always right, highly subjective, bewildering
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  30. #29  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    The above mentioned contraception access theory is falsified by evidence, especially: the North American Baby Boom. Women during the Boom had unprecidented access to contraceptives, and no moral qualms against using them. Returning wartime spouses were a small fraction of the population, so we must discount that romantic explanation. Contraception access can't explain the Baby Boom.

    The spike in births was caused by an unusual economic environment women made their life choices in, dubbed the postwar economic boom. Obscured by the claim that everybody, generally, was wealthier, the gender gap yawned like never before. Women were laid off work so men could take their places. Salaries were explicitly designed for husbands to support families. As for women still holding jobs, to afford a flat and some pretty clothes was reckoned sufficient for the single girl. Women acted accordingly: their best prospect was to become career housewives. Well, some fought this imposed role and started something... but not before a tremendous wave of resolved 2nd class citizens had acted to secure their futures. Crispy bacon is not enough. Neither is beauty, for that fades. The only lasting security to career wives then and now is in having the man's babies. It's simple: The more babies, the more indebted he is.

    Today the countries where women earn the least money relative to men, have the highest birthrates. "Relative" is significant here, because as in the Baby Boom, it's not absolute poverty driving women to take motherhood as best option - it's the income disparity they correct by sharing a man's salary. As usual the Scandinavian countries occupy one extreme, certain Islamic and African countries occupy the other.

    The solution to rampant motherhood is to grant women a better alternative.
    Interesting comment


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