Before starting this article, I wish to specify that it is not because I choose to question the concept of overpopulation that I also question the need to end poverty, overconsumption and environmental destruction. Overpopulation may be a concept, but poverty and unsustainable practices are a reality and my life is geared towards raising consciousness about alternative ways to operate as a society.
However, I believe it is important to question everything; even claims closely tied to the activist and environmentalist movement. Why? Because by questioning theories such as overpopulation, I discovered an even more promising future than the never-ending struggle of trying to merely control the damage we cause to the planet and each other without addressing the cause.
Questioning scare-tactics, even if they seem to be geared towards noble causes, does not necessarily deny our support of the causes themselves. Yet they might save us from getting caught up on issues that distract us from the REAL problems and relevant steps we can take to create meaningful and long-lasting change.
The Overpopulation Scare: How It All Started
The concept of overpopulation originated in England in 1798, when the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus saw that food production increased incrementally, while people reproduced exponentially. Based on his calculations, he predicted that the world would be out of food by the year 1980. Malthus blamed reduced mortality rates and encouraged population reduction.
In his Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus calls for increased mortality among the poor:
All the children born, beyond what would be required to keep up the population to this level, must necessarily perish, unless room be made for them by the deaths of grown persons… To act consistently therefore, we should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavoring to impede, the operations of nature in producing this mortality; and if we dread the too frequent visitation of the horrid form of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make the streets narrower, crowd more people into the houses, and court the return of the plague. In the country, we should build our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. (Book IV, Chap. V) — Read it online.
Not only that, he believed certain diseases should not sought to be cured for the sake of population control.
“But above all, we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases; and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service to mankind by projecting schemes for the total extirpation of particular disorders. (Book IV, Chap. V) — Read it online.”
As harsh as this sounds, the push for depopulation was defined by those supporting it as a necessary evil to save humanity and the planet.
In 1968, Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University adopted and propagated Malthus’ theory of overpopulation. He claimed that excessive human reproduction has overwhelmed the planet and predicted that the world would undergo massive famines, which would kill off hundreds of millions of people by the end of the 70’s.
In his 1968 work The Population Bomb, Ehrlich stated:
“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines–hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
Because of the fear that such an alarming claim triggered, large sums of money were donated to the UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund), which was founded the year after Ehrlich published The Population Bomb. This fund thrives on a crisis that – despite being “imminent” – keeps on being rescheduled over and over again for the past 200 years.
How “imminent” is this crisis exactly? Is there really too little space, too little resources and too many people? What are the facts and what are the myths?
Not Enough Space?
1. The Entire World Population Can Sink Into The State Of Texas
Many believe that overpopulation is a question of lack of space. It isn’t.
Today, there is approximately 7,268,730,000 people on earth. The landmass of Texas is 268,820 square miles (7,494,271,488,000 square feet). If we divide 7,494,271,488,000 square feet by 7,268,730,000 people, we get 1031 square feet per person. This is enough space for everyone on earth to live in a townhouse while altogether fitting on a landmass the size of Texas. And we’re not even accounting for the average four-person family who would most likely share a home!
It is not to say that creating such a massive subdivision would be a smart, sustainable or practical thing to do. Cramming together a population that continues to over-consume, waste and poison the environment the way we currently do would be a recipe for disaster. This is just to give an idea of how it isn’t space itself that is lacking. Notice how small Texas is compared to the rest of the world!
Did You Know?
– Every man, woman, and child on earth could each have 5 acres of land. (Calculated from numbers found on: “Central Intelligence Agency” The World Factbook)
– If we wanted to squeeze close, everyone in the world could stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the island of Zanzibar.
– Plankton make up 3 times more biomass than all 7 billion humans combined.
2. Cities Are Overcrowded, The World Is Not
How can this be proved? Easy: Conditions of apparent overpopulation only exist in cities, not in rural areas.
The urban population is on the rise. (see graph here)
Since 2008, more than half of humanity has become urbanized. The reason is because there are more opportunities to make money in the city than in the countryside. A city is crowded because people come from miles and miles away to move there, not because of wreck-less reproduction and overpopulation.
Did You Know?
– Studies show that birthrates are lower in urban areas than in rural areas. [Source]
– Population growth is slowing down and is predicted to decrease by the middle of this century. [Sources 1, 2]
Not Enough Food?
1. Scarcity Is A Myth
The world is abundant of resources and could provide for everyone’s need, yet every year rich countries waste more that 220 million tons of food. Meanwhile, the poor still starve to death – not because resources are scarce, but because they don’t have the money or have rights to enough land.
Did You Know?
– All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe. (Click HERE for more outrageous food waste facts)
– Abundance, not scarcity, best describes the world’s current food supply. Enough grains are produced to provide every human being with 3,500 calories per day – 1,500 more calories per day than recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.
– Both of the world’s leading authorities on food distribution (the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] and the World Food Programme [WFP]) stated that there is more than enough food for everyone on the planet.
Think about it: The earth does not concentrate its abundance wherever there is gold or stop seeds from sprouting if they were not owned or paid for. Select individuals proclaiming themselves as “authority” made those rules up. A whole empire designed for the “richest” to exclusively hoard most of the earth’s resources is nothing more than a game of monopoly covering the fact that our planet provides more than enough resources for all of its inhabitants to share equally.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” – Gandhi
2. Overpopulation Does Not Cause Hunger, Unfair Management Does
Sociologists Frederick Buttel and Laura Raynolds published a study of population growth, food consumption, and other variables in ninety-three third world countries. The statistics showed no evidence that fast population growth causes hunger. However, they did find that the populations of poorer countries, and those countries where the poorest 20 % of the population earned a smaller percentage of a nation’s total income, had less to eat.
In other words, poverty and inequality cause hunger, not overpopulation.
The theory of overpopulation describes a situation where the number of people exhausts the resources in a closed environment such that it can no longer support that population. A good analogy would be to compare our planet to a barricaded house, with no way to neither enter nor exit. Since the house’s inhabitants would be limited to the space and resources within the house, it is obvious that the refrigerator would soon be emptied out and the oxygen would eventually be used up. There would be too many people and too little resources to ensure everyone’s survival within the house. But are houses usually barricaded? Are crowded cities or poor countries naturally enclosed?
Or more specifically; did our planet come equipped with authorities and policies preventing food from being transported where it is needed or land to be freely inhabited or farmed according to need? No, no and no.
“Don’t think people starve because the world is overpopulated. The world isn’t overpopulated at all. It’s just very badly managed.” – Max Igan
We blame poverty on scarcity and overpopulation. But seldom do we look at human behavior itself. Seldom do we look at the laws created by none other than humans preventing starving people from having access to food and arable land, or the obvious misdistribution of resources caused by the greed of the minority.
And let’s not forget the “debt” that poor countries “owe” to the rich.
“The history of third world debt is the history of a massive siphoning-off by international finance of the resources of the most deprived people. This process is designed to perpetuate itself, thanks to a diabolical mechanism whereby debt replicates itself on an even grander scale, a cycle that can only be broken by cancelling the debt. ” – Third World Debt, a Continuing Legacy of Colonialism
Not Enough Arable Land?
It is easy to blame some so-called “natural” phenomena that requires artificial measures such as GMOs to “solve world hunger” or population reduction plans, but how about criticizing the actual values behind our system and ways in which it promotes inequality for the benefit of the few? How about questioning the belief that opportunities and abundance can only exist where money flows, when we live on a spacious planet that could provide for everyone if we were to use it intelligently?
Did You Know?
– Many nations can’t realize their full food production potential because of the gross inefficiencies caused by inequitable ownership of land and resources.
– Many of the countries in which hunger is rampant export much more in agricultural goods than they import. Northern countries are the main food importers, their purchases representing 71.2 % of the total value of food items imported in the world in 1992. Imports by the 30 lowest-‐income countries, on the other hand, accounted for only 5.2 % of all international commerce in food and farm commodities.
– Africa has enormous still unexploited potential to grow food, with theoretical grain yields 25 to 35% higher than maximum potential yields in Europe or North America.
– Beyond yield potential, ample arable land awaits future use. In Chad, for example, only 10% of the farm land rated as having no serious production constraints is actually farmed. In countries notorious for famines like Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Mali, the area of unused good quality farm land is many times greater than the area actually farmed.
Ownership & Control of Land
It is believed that poverty is the result of overpopulation, poor education, racial inferiority or even laziness. But because most people never think to question our current system and the authorities pulling the strings, few realize how the system itself is geared towards enriching the few and enslaving the masses.
The following passage from “The World’s Wasted Wealth: the political economy of waste” by J.W. Smith describes this reality very well:
Land Rights And Ownership
“The often heard comment (one I once accepted as fact) that “there are too many people in the world, and overpopulation is the cause of hunger”, can be compared to the same myth that expounded sixteenth-century England and revived continuously since.
Through repeated acts of enclosure the peasants were pushed off the land so that the gentry could make money raising wool for the new and highly productive power looms. They could not do this if the peasants were to retain their historic *entitlement* [emphasis is original] to a share of production from the land. Massive starvation was the inevitable result of this expropriation.
There were serious discussions in learned circles about overpopulation as the cause of this poverty. This was the accepted reason because a social and intellectual elite were doing the rationalizing. It was they who controlled the educational institutions which studied the problem. Naturally the final conclusions (at least those published) absolved the wealthy of any responsibility for the plight of the poor. The absurdity of suggesting that England was then overpopulated is clear when we realize that “the total population of England in the sixteenth century was less than in any one of several present-day English cities.”
The hunger in underdeveloped countries today is equally tragic and absurd. Their European colonizers understood well that ownership of land gave the owner control over what society produced. The most powerful simply redistributed the valuable land titles to themselves, eradicating millennia-old traditions of common use. Since custom is a form of ownership, the shared use of land could not be permitted. If ever reestablished, this ancient practice would reduce the rights of these new owners. For this reason, much of the land went unused or underused until the owners could do so profitably. This is the pattern of land use that characterizes most Third World countries today, and it is this that generates hunger in the world.
These conquered people are kept in a state of relative impoverishment. Permitting them any substantial share of the wealth would negate the historic reason for conquest — namely plunder. The ongoing role of Third World countries is to be the supplier of cheap and plentiful raw materials and agricultural products to the developed world. Nature’s wealth was, and is, being controlled to fulfill the needs of the world’s affluent people. The U.S. is one of the prime beneficiaries of this well-established system. Our great universities search diligently for “the answer” to the problem of poverty and hunger. They invariably find it in “lack of motivation, inadequate or no education,” or some other self-serving excuse. They look at everything except the cause — the powerful own the world’s social wealth. As a major beneficiary, we have much to gain by perpetuating the myths of overpopulations, cultural and racial inferiority, and so forth. The real causes must be kept from ourselves, as how else can this systematic damaging of others be squared with what we are taught about democracy, rights, freedom, and justice?”
Sustainable Agriculture, Housing & City Planning: Creating Abundance for All While Nurturing The Planet
Alternatives to unsustainable agricultural practices do exist. The success of organic farmers in the U.S. gives an idea of the possibilities. Cuba’s success in overcoming a food crisis through self-reliance and sustainable, virtually pesticide-free agriculture is another great example. Environmentally sound agricultural alternatives can be more productive than environmentally destructive ones. Permaculture is a great example.
Sustainable housing and city planning is also an alternative that should be globally implemented instead of simply pointing fingers at a growing population. The possibilities are endless; from simple Earthship eco-villages to high-tech eco-cities.
Sustainable housing and city planning is not only a great idea for the planet, it would solve all hunger problems we face today. For example, every Earthship home is outfitted with one or two greenhouses that grow crops year-round, no matter the climate. This means that people can feed themselves with only the plants growing inside their own house. A fish pond and/or chicken coop can also be built into Earthships for a constant source of meat and eggs. Hunger is NOT just an “inevitable” part of life.
“Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
- Hemp For Global Sustainability: www.hempforfuture.com
- Factory Farming Destroying The Earth: cowspiracy.com
Earth’s Destruction: Overpopulation Or Unsustainable Practices?
Overpopulation is blamed for the destruction of the planet, yet have we ever thought of pointing fingers at the unsustainable practices WE continue to perform in the name of “profit” despite the many existing alternatives? It is not a question of the number of people inhabiting our planet, it is a question of personal and collective responsibility.
The truth is, if we all shifted towards an earth-friendly lifestyle and designed sustainable cities that would allow for self-sufficiency and collaboration for the good of all, we would no longer be considered a threat to the planet. We would work with nature and not against it. We are a part of nature after all and it is about time we stop feeling guilty for existing. What we should be critical of are our actions and destructive system we continue to uphold – not our species itself – which can all be changed if we stop pretending we are separate from nature and each other.
All of the unconscious actions we do are a result of just that: unconsciousness. Yet we can be conscious. Being conscious IS natural; it is who we are beyond the artificial blinders we put on as we choose to believe what the media tells us to believe.
Power To The People: Let’s Create Something New
If we built this world, what makes us believe we cannot build something different? As of now, we use most of our manpower, creativity and intelligence to build weapons of war, unsustainable technologies and meaningless products. We mostly unite forces for military action. We waste incredible human potential inside of small cubicles for tasks that could be automated, or that serve no higher purpose.
What if we used all of our manpower, creativity and intelligence for the betterment of all life instead of using it solely to empower the few at the top? What if we united forces not for war and destruction, but for peace and creation? What if we instead used this same potential to create sustainable technologies, beneficial products and harmonious systems that would allow humanity and the earth to thrive? Imagine if we united as a people, stopped complying and created a more beautiful world—not because of some piece of paper we would get in return but, because it only makes sense.
Whether or not overpopulation is real may be debatable, but there is no debating that something needs to change. However, I don’t believe that focusing on merely controlling population growth is very constructive if we don’t change the way the population operates on this planet.
We talk about how “terrible” it is to be 7 billion people on the planet, yet we still ignore inequality and corporate profiteering. We still ignore how sustainable technologies are suppressed in the name of power and profit.
So instead of fearing how many people we are… why not use the power of the many to get our act together and CHANGE our ways?
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21 thoughts on “Overpopulation: Fact Or Myth?”
Thorough and interesting article! If all of us did move to Texas, would we have enough space to live sustainably? In other words, how much space does a sustainable community use (including the wider ecosystem where it is desirable not to intervene at all) and how does that relate to available and suitable land? Cheers
Have you read anything by Daniel Quinn? I recommend anybody who read this article and agreed to go get yourself a copy of Ishmael and My Ishmael. One of the things it goes into is the paradox of how when food increases, the population increases. You kind of touched on it, but if everyone was in a space the size of Texas and were all given enough food to feed us all, you would have to think the population would start booming faster than ever before, right?
the problem in my opinion is not overpopulation, but the management of the masses. overcrowded nations are very difficult to govern, uneducated people create unnecessary political problems like vote bank strategies. it all really takes governments focus off of development and into luring these voters into their favor. i dont follow idealistic thinking. practically overpopulation is proven bad. its harming humanity’s growth. we don’t just want to survive. we want to grow.
Agree the issue is with our unsustainable practices but I have not seen anything in my life to suggest that we are going to change our ways. Its not population that worries me as much as access to limited resources such as Phosphorus (a non replaceable ingredient in our fertilizers) http://theconversation.com/peak-phosphorus-will-be-a-shortage-we-cant-stomach-25065
It’s a shame about this article as it detracts from the intention to do good. In the real world, the world in which we live right now and not an ideal one, overpopulation IS a serious problem that needs to addressed ALONG WITH poverty and unsustainable practices. It conveniently or ignorantly fails to mention how excess food in developed countries manages to get to the truly starving in the third world among other things. Yes there are many unsustainable practices that need to be stopped, the main one being economic growth, but so is human growth. The time has come for ALL growth to stop and consolidate for the sake of the health of all life on the planet. Don’t kid yourself and gullible readers that humans aren’t the problem.
Overpopulation is a fact, not a myth.
Keep going though. I applaud your vision statement and manifesto. Well done.
Yes, in the “real” world (although I’d prefer calling it illusory since it really doesn’t have to be this way) overpopulation may be a problem. Alright, maybe the third world receives some aid. But do we ever think to question why there is poverty in the first place? Or why we willingly destroy our environment to begin with? Please let’s not ignore third world debt, please let’s not ignore the unfair management of our hierarchical system which has next to no regards for life itself. All I ever hear is how we try to manage the terrible symptoms of the root cause of the problem: our system itself and the beliefs/myths it runs on that cause people to remain apathetic… but as soon as someone suggests a reality outside of this “real world”… they get shit on lol. It’s really time to think outside the box if we want real change. So far, all I see the overpopulation scare do is make people feel guilty for having children while continuing to live a life of isolated survival with no awareness of their power.
I’m trying to push for a change in consciousness, which we need much more than a depopulation plan lol. A huge mass of people destroying their home planet doesn’t mean we should just kill em off or tell them not to reproduce so that there is “less” destruction… I think we should tell them to maybe not destroy the planet? Show them different ways of doing things perhaps? So that they can raise their kids differently and not set them up to become other worker drones with no other ambition other than getting a good paycheck? My logic may be simple but to me it makes sense. If we change, our actions change, and the world changes.
By all means, if we want to take into account population growth, let’s do it. But if that becomes the emphasis, if we don’t think further than that, if we don’t actively aim to change our ways.. nothing will change.
And by the way… I never wrote that humans aren’t the problem. All i’m doing is getting people to point fingers towards themselves…. but not by saying their existence itself is the problem, but how they choose to use their existence. I think it’s a beautiful thing to tell someone they can also exist to heal, to create change, the make this world a beautiful place.
I agree that worldwide there is enough space for all, however, in some countries there is not. In the UK our countryside is being torn up piece by piece because of our exploding population. Either houses are being built, roads widened or there is a need for more places to dump our rubbish. What are we going to do, deport a % of the population to Texas to free up some space?
A lot of the arguments here are brilliant on a worldwide level, but at grass roots level population has to be examined. We cannot continue to churn out babies and not think about the consequences!
Perhaps a good starting point would be for the UK media to stop placing so much focus on how “cool” it is to be 15 and pregnant and how, if it easy for celebrities to be parents, it’s definitely easy for the normal couple as well. Also, there is this super toxic idea that women’s only valuable contribution to the world are children. It’s so heartbreaking to hear little girls answer with “I want to be a mommy and have many many children!” when they are asked what they want to be when they grow up.
I was born in communism and at a time when birth control was illegal. Our government was systematically starving us to death and even so, I was spared from the influence of limiting society pressures. When I was a child, I wanted to be an astronaut, a mechanic and president of the country, and no one told me “you can’t, you’re a little girl!”
Have you thought of the oil problem. Every bit of food is based on machinery doing the production, harvesting, transportation etc. Oil depletion is a fact. Yes we have enough food for everyone – no we do not have the resources to do the production in the long run. Primarily because of governments being unwilling to get fossil fuels out of the food supply chain.
The problem is that we use resourses of 1,5 earths, meaning that we use resourses faster then the earth is reproducing them.
So we need to get to the point where we use 1 earth or less. There is different ways of getting there, we could lower our population or we could use less resourses per person.
The population could double if we are willing to live on the material standards they have in Kenya for example. But a growing population means that there would be less and less resourses per person.
Whaterver we do we will have to come to 0% population growth eventually, and the sooner the better.
Many people just want to igore the problem becuse it makes people feel guilty for having many children. But that is very dangerous, the problem wont go away just because you ignore it.
I think we should urgently end poverty, starvation and high infant mortality, increase family planing, give better acess to contraceptives and acess to education far all. Those are all humane ways to slow down population growth.
But of course we must also use less resources and use them more efficiently and we also need a productionsystem where everything is produced to be recycled, a so called circular economy.
So Im all for charing all resouces globally and changing our ways but doing that doesnt mean we can then just keep on doubling our population all the time like we are doing now.
A house is not a closed environment but our planet is.
The resources required and waste produced by 7000000000 people living in Texas would require dealing with outside of that space.
There may be 5 acres for each human but what about mountain sides, deserts, the poles, swamps. Moost people couldnt survive in those places.
The abundance of food currently producex is not even close to sustainable and will not continue once we run out of oil.
If the last two hundred years or so of rapid fossil fuel powered population growth had happenned slower we might have adapted better as long the way but we havent so overpopulation IS our biggest issue.people with broader prospectives than this author have said a sustainable human population is estimated to be around three billion.
also remember humans aren’t the only species here and we have zero right to pepetuate at the expense of other species..
this article has the feel of climate debunking ex tabacco lobbyists.
The resources req u ired for 7
I thought the article was great and it opened my eyes in some aspects.
Overpopulation may be a myth, but the interest of the wealthy few in maintaining the current, large-scale crisis is very real.
When I think of overpopulation, I do not think of it in terms of “we’re too many and the Earth can’t fit or feed us all”. I think mostly of the mindless propagation of a life model that no longer serves us.
We can see this model at work and thriving in Western societies, where there is a cult around having children, plural, as many as possible. Parenthood is presented as the ultimate hack/shortcut to respectability and a person’s ONLY way to find meaning and legitimacy in life. We are obsessed with children, with celebrity babies, with stock photos which depict the term “happy family” having necessarily 2 children or more besides the mother and father, when in fact the concept of family itself is not just that. (I am not kidding here, I’ve had designer friends tell me that their clients rejected designs with pictures of a family with an only child with the objection that it is a “deviant and damaging” image because it offends “normal” people who have 2+ kids).
The culture that leads people to believe that their right to be in this world only comes from their successful reproduction is a toxic, limiting one. The goal is not to bring as many humans into this world, regardless of how. Republicans in the USA keep emphasizing traditional values and large families, pro-life groups advocate for abortions being made illegal… but as soon as a child is born, all these activists no longer give a damn about him or her, by not supporting and promoting policies that allow all children to grow in a clean and safe environment, with loving parents who don’t work 3 jobs etc.
Yes, wealthy people who have children might feel like they can very well support them and raise them well thanks to their millions of dollars; but they have to wonder, can the Earth keep supporting the outrageous needs of the very wealthy? Because they do not care about sustainability, they care about fashionable, rare and hard to procure goods, like fur from endangered species and meat, dairy and leather from extremely cruel and wasteful industries. They care about fashion brands which use their influence and money in order to keep manufacturing their products in the 3rd World with underpaid and abused workers. Remember the case of that electronics plant in Asia where people kept killing themselves because of the working conditions by jumping off the factory building, and instead of offering them more decent contracts, the Western managers just ordered nets to be installed on the edges of the roof?
And here’s another thought: the concept of overpopulation the way it is framed today has classist undertones. It implies that there are too many poor people in problem areas fighting over scare resources, not too many people in general. We never talk about overpopulation in Hollywood; we never say that there are too many CEOs in Silicon Valley or in Switzerland. Because, of cource (sarcasm) their contributions to generating endless capital and limitless growth are invaluable (/sarcasm). Western people live in unbelievably crowded cities, yet they continue to have more and more children and they do not feel like they contribute to the world feeling like an overpopulated place, because, isn’t it, WE are all precious and valuable snowflakes and the “excess humans” live in Africa and India and Asia and keep asking for help when they could just do what we do, get jobs and work like us “contributing members of society”.
I’d love to see this way of thinking change.
And I would love the obscene waste of the wealthy part of the world to stop.
What are you talking about families with more than 2 children? in the white race that does not happen. Only the very few rich people may have 3-4 children. The middle-class and the low class of all European countries have 2 or less children. The birth rates for all European countries are below 2. And the population is kept steady because of immigration. So the white race disappears. I do not know what happens in USA . I think that over population is a problem , not as serious as the others mentioned in the article , but the fact is that overpopulation happens in 3rd world countries (in Africa and Asia). So of course I agree that the evil capitalists (not only white race has those kind of persons) should leave these poor countries alone , but I also believe that people in those poor countries should stop giving birth to 3-4 children. And we all (from rich and poor countries) must become vegetarians , it is the first and easiest step to take.
The data and studies you are refering to are from at least a decade ago. And yes, in those studies, wealthy nations saw a decrease in the number of births and an overall aging population. But things have changed significantly since then. White people are not going extinct. On the contrary. They are multiplying and depleting the Earth at an accelerated pace to sustain the many needs of the modern lifestyle and the obscene waste that goes with it.
Family-oriented policies in Scandinavia (where countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway were seeing a decrease in birth rates) have led to people having more children again.
In the USA, 2+ children is the NORM for white people and childless people or people with just one child are regarded as “abnormal”.
And there is also the factor that yes, people in the 3rd world might have more children in total, but they also have the highest infant and at-birth mortality. Also, in the West, wealthy women are having children a lot later in life and have access to fertility treatments, both factors which increase the chances for multiples exponentially.
I am just saying that people should really think it through when they decide to have children. I have worked in the field of social studies and I have heard the dumbest reasons for having children. For instance, people say they have children because “everyone else does and that is nature’s course”, or because “you need to have someone to care for you in your old age” or “because God gets upset if you don’t have many children” or because “a woman’s role is to have as many children as possible”.
Also, I see this recurring toxic pattern in the media directed at women. There is a morbid interest in female celebrities and their pregnancies, how many do they have, how fast do they get their sexy body back, what perfect and happy mothers they are. But no one mentions that they also have a lot of money to count on and armies of nannies, teachers, doctors, nutritionists, trainers etc. that help. So what normal people take away from this glamourized and idealized scenario of parenthood is that it’s easy and you just “wing it”. But in the real world, when you are not earning millions, childcare is expensive and very hard to balance with a job and other concerns.
Mewsiex, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your views, especially
with the propaganda and the influence of society on people to have
(many) children. It’s one of those peer pressure thing that happens
every day, yet it’s much more overwhelming when it comes to having
Of course, society influence is not the only reason
why people decide to have children – there is also an aspect in
subconscious that drives both humans and animals to reproduce, which is
actually the strongest drive in every creature.
Having said that,
I appreciate the way you broke it down and analysed the society’s
influence on the matter. Despite of the huge drive for reproduction
that comes from nature, there are still people who decide not to have
children because they see beyond that drive and society’s influence, and
because they want to something more with their time. There are also
those who decide not to have them for other reasons, such as fear.
Whatever the case may be, we all have the right to choose what we want to do with our lives.
Thank you for your considerate reply, but I have to say your last sentence scares me a bit. No human on this planet should have the arrogance of thinking that his happiness is worth another being’s misery. So yes, I agree with you that we each have the freedom to make choices about our lives! But we also have the obligation to make sure that our choices do not result in terrible consequences for others.
To the point of having children: I can understand that people can choose whether to have children or not. But should we all have 11 or 19 children when there are so many other unwanted children out there that other people didn’t want? That approach suggests that humans are only capable of loving children who share their DNA, which is both narcissistic and untrue. People can be and love A LOT more than that.
So, if someone really wants a big family and wants to have children, should they use IVF and have several sets of multiples or could they have like 1 or 2 biological children and then adopt the rest? Because usually people who are in favour of everyone having as many children as possible are either idealistic or very privileged.
Raising one child is damn expensive if you want to really offer that child a good start in life. Multiplying like animals and then expecting the state to pick up the costs benefits no one.
Where do we feel that the world is overpopulated? In our Western big cities or in the African desert or savannah? In big cities. We are multiplying like bacteria in a Petri dish, but it’s at the cost of the rest of the world who has to live a miserable life full of poverty and exploitation because we want our wasteful lifestyle to go on forever.
Overpopulation is not an issue? What are you smoking?
Screw the numbers and the poor analogies in this story. Go into a third world country (I live in one) and see for yourself. Humans breed like idiots… mostly breeding more idiots. The first world concepts of self-improvement and planetary awareness are non-existent here, completely off the radar. The overall level of consciousness here is essentially primitive. The mountains in 2/3 of the country have been totally raped in order to provide grass for cows.. in order to feed humans the desired animal foods that humans do not need to eat to begin with. Rivers are saturated with garbage, pesticides, sewage and effluents – from humans. Wildlife is being ‘extincted’ left and right. Same goes for thousands of endemic plant species. The humans involved don’t really give a sh*t… all they want are a few more dollars to feed their growing families, and to buy more cows (it’s a macho thing, don’t cha know).
IMHO, 2/3 of the planet should be devoid of humanity. Give Nature huge areas to reclaim, and reclaim them she will – quite rapidly. We can restore the foundational biosphere of this planet by doing so, and thereby, at least, assure the continuation of that foundational biodiversity. Maybe in a few hundred more years, humans will collectively grow up enough to be capable of managing this planet with maturity.
I coulndn’t agree more with this article. Good job.
Its not a matter of population but our technology that is capable of coping with that population. When Robert Malthus’ original theory was published he failed to compensate for our technological boom that started in the late 1700’s and has be growing at an exponential rate. Furthermore when Ehrlich published Time bomb already the populations in North America and Europe had begun to stabilize as well as Japan and Korea. So world population growth that used to be near 3 percent is less than half that now and slowing each year yet our technology is still growing at an exponential rate. No doubt that with in the next 30 years our technological growth will surpass our population growth and then the sky is the limit. Of course this is only if the numbers continue. Obviously I am no prophet so the future is anybody’s guess. So I would say this “prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.
As for your “Mismanagement” theory. If the world is so poorly managed how would you propose that we manage it? We currently use money as the mechanism for consumption what system would you like to implement? Not everybody is going to agree with you how would you propose to handle the political opposition to your system?
I am not going to argue the fact that there is currently enough food to go around as that is fact. The problem is getting food and people into the same place. Now it is expensive to transport commodities but cheap by comparison to transport people. So perhaps you should argue not for a redistribution of resources but a redistribution of people.
Your movement is located in Canada that has a food production capability to feed something like 150 million people yet currently host a population of less the 40 million so perhaps Canada would be willing to host another 110 million people? Do you think you could get the other 40 million people in Canada to go for that?
You are arguing for fundamental change without providing detail for that change. Yet there are 7 billion people on this planet each with there own wants desires aspirations likes and dislikes. Each are part of a culture some large and some small. You complain about the current system yet have no viable alternative.
You seem to be alluding to communism/socialism and that is all fine and dandy. However what we have found is that its one thing when a small group of people get together and chose to live a collective life style it is another monster altogether when you force a large entity like a country to do this.
Further more you have not even begun to address the issue of scarcity which is a fundamental issue in every economic modal ever tried whether it be communism or the laze fair approach that is currently in practice. How do you approach an issue when a society can only produce 100 widgets yet has a population of 200 and all 200 want widgets and some want more than 1 widget? This problem of scarcity exists whether we have an abundance of food or not we do not have an abundance of other things.
To handle the problem of scarcity your answer seems to be simply consume less. Yet people have been doing the exact opposite. Do you plan on making them consume less? Because if that is your solution I guarantee you one outcome; Failure. As long as people want things like silk ties and Hummers the current management system will remain because they guarantee a supply of silk ties and Hummers. Your going to have to offer them a much better alternative to what we currently have. And taking a poo in a compost toilet is probably one step to far for many people (not me my theory on this is when you got to go you got to go).
As long as ‘money system’ is regarded as equal to the ‘economic system’ we now have. If we stop looking at money as valuables per se, and look at it as a means of transportation and distribution (economic infrastructure) you get totally different answers.
Check out all the projects and tests where groups of people simply are given a sum every month to sustain them. Poor people will probably not set out on a shopping binge as we know it in the rich world, but use the money very wisely.
If we shift our belief in money being the most valuable commodity on Earth, something else will take it’s place; clean air, clean water, living soil, happiness or whatever else we start to use as a measure of success.
So what would be your plan for overcoming the hurdles that so many have tried and failed in the past. You see human greed has ultimately defeated every utopian and unless you have some new idea that has yet to be tried you are doomed or destined for failer.
It good that you have an optimistic ideal for which you strive but keep in mind there are over 7 billion people on this world and they all have an ideal they strive for to.