The Sustainability Conundrum

Hampton, Richard | July 7, 2015 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Illustration by Frits  Ahlefeldt-Laurvig via Flickr | | CC BY-ND 2.0

Science is telling us that our world is in trouble. We have too many people consuming too much stuff. There is hope however, as humanity is slowly demonstrating a spontaneous propensity towards developing the behavioral adaptations necessary to reach a sustainable population and a respect for nature that could enable human civilization to persist.

Of course failure to change humanity’s dominant behavior and adapt would result in an irreversible depletion of non-renewable resources and fouling of the biosphere with our waste. Even worse, population would continue to expand and consumption would continue to grow exponentially. The outlook is bleak if the forces of human population and consumption continue unchecked. Extinctions will increase to massive proportions, eliminating many of the creatures with whom we share this planet and by extension humanity itself.

We know that with sufficient, non-coercive incentives (e.g., education of women, contraception) that birthrates and thus population can be reduced; however, an unfortunate side-effect of this is that affluence rises, which entails more consumption. This paper considers the “too many people, too much consumption” conundrum.

Impacts, such as those mentioned above, have been represented by the formula:


where P = Population, A = Affluence or per-capita consumption and T = Technology as applied to the production of goods consumed [1].

If humanity is to mitigate the threatening impacts of civilization on the Earth, we must deal with the PAT side of the equation.

Consider first that technology is a subset of affluence in that technologies are developed in response to demand or opportunity. Technology can be employed to either increase or reduce both population and/or per-capita consumption and is therefore of secondary importance in the equation. So technology will not be discussed further in this context.

However, if we are to succeed in reducing our impacts and avert some of the worst consequences of those impacts, it is imperative we address both population and affluence with its attendant over-consumption, by reducing both to a sustainable level within a time frame that avoids catastrophe.

Human population level is a consequence of both biological drives and cultural memes. Birth rate, survival to reproductive age and longevity are the determinant factors for population growth, shrinkage or stability. Throughout much of human history birth rate, as expressed by the number of successful pregnancies per female, was largely unconstrained by cultural forces. To state this in simpler terms, each woman may have had seven children on average but only two would survive childhood to reach reproductive age.  Thus the apparently high birthrate resulted in replacement only, without population growth. For much of human history population growth was minimal. With the development of better technologies, improved childhood survival and longevity transformed stability into exponential population growth, especially over the last two centuries of the industrial revolution. High birthrates coupled with high survival rates have become prime drivers of population growth, which have brought us to our current population of over seven billion people.

Fortunately there is hope for humanity to bring birthrates under control. As documented by Alan Weisman [2] and Hans Rosling [3], the basics for reducing birthrates are well understood and can be applied to any society that is willing: education for women, available and affordable (free or subsidized) birth control and safe abortions. Given those means, women appear to limit fertility on their own; they do not want to be baby-making machines. Generally, reproduction is reduced to replacement levels or less. This proposition is well supported by actual birthrates currently experienced in much of the world including Europe, North and South America, China and India. One remarkable example, reported by Weisman, is that of Iran which reduced its fertility rate from a world-leading nine births per woman to less than two in a period of just twenty years, all done without coercion.

What we are seeing appears to be the fulfillment of Demographic Transition Theory [4] developed in 1929 by demographer Warren Thompson (1887 – 1973). The theory proposes a natural balancing of birth and death rates as societies transition from pre-industrial to post-industrial conditions. First, technical and cultural changes contribute to a declining death rate with rapid population growth, which is followed by declining birth rates to a point of balance between the two.

There is a fundamental reason why women can and will control their fertility: it is in their own self-interest. The benefits are personal, immediate and easily understood. According to Rosling, this phenomena is happening quite spontaneously in most of the world today. Exceptions exist in those social contexts where the basics of education and the means to control fertility are withheld for political, religious or cultural reasons, usually within male dominated societies.

Rosling, a statistician, projects that world population will stabilize spontaneously at replacement level by the end of this century. While stabilization is a promising trend, the suspected leveling at eleven billion may not be enough, soon enough. However there is one strong example that may provide an additional impetus toward actual population reduction. With a fertility rate of just over one child per woman, Japan has entered a phase of population decline. If the whole world emulated Japan’s current trend, the world’s population would be reduced to about one half within a century.

What has led Japan to such a low birth rate? Two factors seem to be at work:  the high cost of raising a child coupled with a desire for greater affluence. Indeed, one of the key benefits that women realize from low fertility is increased affluence. And there’s the conundrum. One of the key drivers of population control, the opportunity to increase affluence, exacerbates the greater problem of the impact of humanity on the biosphere.

So, if we understand and achieve the basics of population control, we are confronted with the confounding issue of controlling affluence. Population goes down but affluence goes up.

Affluence, that ubiquitous and uniquely modern human cultural trait of wanting more—more possessions, more property, more power, more wealth—more of everything that feeds the ego’s unquenchable desire to grow stronger. It is the driving force of modern economics, industrial action, social interaction, politics and the excesses of marketing to convince us that more is better. It powers the growth paradigm, which is pervasive throughout the “civilized” world. Affluence is the other prime factor in the impact of humanity on this planet, our one and only home.

The problem with affluence is that it leads to over-consumption. It is the consumption of nature’s bounty in the form of non-renewable resources and the over-consumption of renewable resources, which results in the destruction of biodiversity and the loss of ecosystem services on which our survival depends. Humans have become a species that is destroying its very life-support system in its voracious quest for self-indulgence which in truth serves no logical purpose. Our genius for exploiting the natural world to feed our short term need to gratify unnecessary purposes is truly maladaptive and if left unchecked will surely become a fatal flaw.

But it wasn’t always this way. In primitive hunter-gatherer societies, humans showed little inclination towards self-indulgence with material possessions and personal importance. This is borne out by several anthropological studies that looked at human behavior prior to about 4000 BCE as well as studies of the few remaining contemporary hunter gatherers. This view is well summarized by Steve Taylor [5].

Taylor proposes that as a general condition prehistoric humans, even after the first agricultural societies formed, were essentially egalitarian with assets held in common and shared equally within the community. It was only after around 4000 BCE that the concepts of private wealth and power emerged. The ego appeared as the dominant and controlling factor in personal lives, on up to the concepts and structures of governance, economies, cultures and even religions. It was the beginning of inequality.

According to Taylor, ideas such as collective rights and democratic principles began to emerge as far back as the ancient Greeks. These ideas have gained strength and taken hold in more recent times with the arrival of democratic institutions and governments to the point where today a majority of states have democratically elected governments. In parallel, there has been a growth in constituted rights and freedoms which have transformed much of the world’s communities in the direction of mutual caring and collective responsibility. One of the extensions of this transition includes the growing environmental movements in which some humans are extending the concepts of empathy towards the whole of our natural environment, such as The Rights of Nature adopted by Ecuador. All this may suggest that humanity is moving toward displacing our dominant ego with empathy for others and the world we share. Could this become the established order of human existence? There is much evidence that such a spontaneous evolutionary process is underway.

So, although humanity may be in the process of transitioning from a growing population with an insatiable lust for consumption, towards a declining population holding an empathetic worldview favoring sustainability, there is an urgent need to speed up the process. The required shift in human behavior—the root cause of our problems—must be understood and accepted on a large scale before acceleration will occur on both the population and consumption fronts. Reducing fertility would appear to be feasible, primarily because it is in the immediate personal self-interest of women. We are then faced with the task of framing and selling the idea of reduced consumption as also being in the immediate self-interest of individuals. The good news is that the transition may already be underway. The challenge is to determine how we make the behavioral changes sufficient in scope and soon enough in time to save civilization from collapse.

Are we up to the challenge? For humanity’s sake let’s hope we are.


1 Ehrlich, Paul R.; Holdren, John P.; Barry Commoner (May 1972). “A Bulletin Dialogue: on “The Closing Circle” – Response”. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: 17–56.

2 Alan Weisman;

3 Hans Rosling;

4 Demographic Transition Theory:

5 The Fall:

With a background in Chemical Engineering and interest in the sustainability of human civilization, Richard Hampton serves as a director for the Qualicum Institute. Learn more about the Qualicum Institute through their MAHB Node: The Qualicum Institute.

MAHB-UTS Blogs are a joint venture between the University of Technology Sydney and the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to

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  • OK let’s look at a world without sustainability as it’s core belief and carries out a “Business as Usual” strategy:

    So lets “plan” for a catastrophic population explosion, somebody told me in a debate the other day (I’ve not verified this statistic) that if the entire worlds population lived at the density of Paris then we would all (7 billion) fit in France!

    Advances in food production (Aquaponics) could easily increase our “Sustainable” production to a thousand times it’s current delivery rate – that would give us 10 doublings of our current population.

    Orbital space based energy satellites and nuclear power could provide all the energy we would need to function at European levels of consumption.
    Mining of the near earth asteroids could provide the resources (chemicals, metals, hydrocarbons etc.) for manufacturing all the goods for this growing society.
    Industrial scaled desalination to provide water for the humans living in mega cities and the green housed farming strategy.

    The current global growth rate is 3.3% that would give us 210 years before we reached the limit of this agricultural strategy (i.e. 1,000 times output) and give us a population of 7,300 billion!!! I admit it would be a challenge to doubling our housing provision and industrial capacity every 21 years, building hundreds of orbital solar panels and thousands of nuclear plants, as well as covering our oceans with wind turbines? As in order to achieve this we’d need to cover all the land surface of the planet with; housing, agriculture, manufacturing etc. In addition, this would result in the small matter of costing pretty much all life on the Earth (except for that being grown for our needs).
    Perhaps we could maintain some large Wildlife Parks to keep some of the more memorable ecosystems alive? We could visit them via some sort of virtual interface? This insanity of a future is based on data I’m for a book I’m writing; “Growth without End: What “Business as Usual” will look like in 200 years”.

    When the current “economic theory” is put on paper as to what it would mean for the near
    future I think it is clearer why a sustainable future is not a “choice” it’s essential for our future existence .

  • I think we all need to start by watching the brilliant YouTube video starring Dr Al Bartlett ( which discusses the Exponential function, arithmetic, population and energy. It is truly brilliant I start my students on this before we begin discussing sustainability.

  • JohnTaves

    This article agrees with the conventional wisdom of population scientists. Unfortunately the conventional wisdom depends upon an assumption that does not make sense. That assumption is that somehow we magically limited our fertility to ensure our numbers did not hit the limit of how many can be kept alive at one time. This article requires that bogus assumption.

    The following is copied from above. “To state this in simpler terms, each woman may have had seven children on average but only two would survive childhood to reach reproductive age. Thus the apparently high birthrate resulted in replacement only, without population growth. For much of human history population growth was minimal. With the development of better technologies, improved childhood survival and longevity transformed stability into exponential population growth, especially over the last two centuries of the industrial revolution. High birthrates coupled with high survival rates have become prime drivers of population growth, which have brought us to our current population of over seven billion people.” I will rephrase this correctly so that you can see the assumption built into it.

    Humans, and all species, average too many babies, and therefore are relentlessly attempting to grow their numbers to infinity at an exponential rate. This cannot happen for long in any finite environment, so nature has to kill to stop the attempted growth. For most of human history the population limit was stable because we rarely found ways to increase sustenance production. When the limit is stable, the child mortality rate must be (x-2)/x where x is the number of babies adults average. When we (I cannot excuse population scientists for always attributing births to women) average 7 babies, then 5 of the 7 children on average must die. If we had averaged fewer babies, the child mortality rate would have been lower. With the development of better technologies we increased the limit. For example farming over hunting/gathering can support more people. Refrigeration, trucking, modern packaging, better crop varieties, are just a few examples of the more recent discoveries that enable higher sustenance production with less waste allowing more people to live at one time. An increasing limit allows a lower child mortality rate than the (x-2)/x formula dictates. These discoveries came at such a fast pace for the past several hundred years that it enabled exponential growth in our numbers. Unfortunately the limit has never out paced our attempted population growth. The consequence of being at the limit are groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality. There have always been these groups of people, even during the remarkable past few hundred years, which shows that we have always averaged too many babies.

    Notice the difference. The author, Richard Hampton, suggests that there is some magical mechanism that caused women (clearly men have nothing to do with it) to average just the right amount of babies, 7, to offset the horrid child mortality rate of 5/7. The belief in this mechanism allows one to interpret the demographic transition as further evidence. The thinking is that with more babies surviving, it takes a while, but eventually the mechanism reduces our fertility accordingly, just like the demographic transition seems to show. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is fantastic that hundreds of millions of people are using contraception and thus we are averaging the fewest number of babies ever. 2.5 babies per person is much better than averaging 3 or 7. However, there is no excuse for population scientists to confuse “lower” with “sufficiently low” and find hope in this. If we average 2.5 babies, we guarantee that in the long run we will ensure that 1/4 of our children will die.

    Richard Hampton uses Hans Rosling’s research to support his hope. Unfortunately Hans Rosling is doing nothing more than mindlessly projecting the past to the future. If you kept track of the rate that your kids were finding Easter eggs in the yard and extrapolated that you would reach ridiculous conclusions about the total number of eggs they will fine. We don’t make that mistake because we know how many eggs were hidden. We know the underlying reality. In the case of population scientists, like Hans Rosling, they use these extrapolations to determine the reality and predict the future. This is shockingly bad science. Population scientists have plausible sounding theories to explain how economic factors control fertility to make this magical mechanism that ensures our numbers do not hit the limit. Population scientists, however, have not found the groups of people that are averaging too many babies in spite of the economic factors. These groups will determine the future fertility rate, not the simplistic extrapolation of the past to the future.

    This is not the only glaring problem with the current thinking of population scientists. The industrial revolution did not increase the sustainable limit anywhere near as much as it increased the unsustainable limit. Our economies are totally dependent upon fossil fuels. We have no clue how to feed our current numbers using only sustainable techniques. This ugly reality belies Richard Hampton’s opening statement: “There is hope however, as humanity is slowly demonstrating a spontaneous propensity towards developing the behavioral adaptations necessary to reach a sustainable population and a respect for nature that could enable human civilization to persist.”

    There is absolutely no excuse to conclude that we have demonstrated anything good with respect to sustainability. We have an absolutely horrific premature death debt built up by our dependence on fossil fuels, uranium, and a host of other one-way acts that we must do to keep our current numbers alive. But also notice that Hampton is suggesting there is some sort of skill or achievement to sustainability. It is trivial to achieve sustainability. Just wait. When the resources run out, we will be living sustainably.

    The real problem that must be solved is to figure out how to get our population scientists to wake up and recognize that there is no magical mechanism that throttles our fertility. Our scientists can then lead the way towards ensuring that everyone knows that averaging too many babies kills, and that for the foreseeable future we have an enormous potential for premature death that can only be eliminated by averaging less than 2 babies until we no longer require the use of non-renewables to feed our numbers.

    Is there anyone out there that comprehends what I just wrote?

  • Some of us have been trying to raise awareness that there’s a problem regards human development and it’s compatibility with our short term survival (next 100 years). We’ve been adding a billion people every 13 years or so since the 60’s, the increase in consumption have been following an exponential rate and although our technology development offers increased efficiency with zero waste and even the possibility of improving the world as we move forward however we choose to use it to maintain the increases is our population and our affluence – WHY?
    Well vested interests are playing a role, but like smoking we LIKE IT the way it is now! Most people so look for a justification NOT to change rather than move towards a better future. I seems like most people don’t even accept we have a problem (no matter what the data says!). The terrifying truth is that most people REFUSE to see we have a problem never mind put together a plan to change. In fact it’s worse than that, it seems the more we are affected by this problem the more we refuse to address it! Research shows (see: George Marshall’s “Don’t Even Think About It!”) victims of extreme weather and new parents actually move away from thinking about the bigger picture issues of population, pollution and climate change.
    Time to give up? I’m going to say no, but I’m also going to say it’s time to STOP screaming at people they have to change and supporting this with better and scarier data. Before WW2 started Sydney Camm began the manufacture of War Planes BEFORE the government accepted they needed them. When they finally did come to him and asked him to start production he actually began DELIVERING the order. It is said that this foresight might have turned the early years of the war and perhaps even prevented the invasion of the UK by Germany. We need to stop raging about what needs to be done and put together what needs to be done and be ready to begin when we are asked. What we prepare depends on our skills base, (i.e. construction, food production, energy production/conservation, education or local politics). Yes this means we have to wait for the collapse to begin but then make the changes and move us (painfully i.e. massive losses of life) towards a sustainable future.

    • JohnTaves

      “we choose to use it to maintain the increases is our population and our affluence – WHY?”

      Our numbers are relentlessly attempting to grow because we average more than 2 babies. You ask “why”? What is your question? Are you asking why we average more than 2? We have always averaged more than 2. Why would you think that averaging less than 2 was some sort of choice we have been making? Are you asking why we continue to create more and more food that allows the population to grow? Isn’t it obvious? We try to keep the ones we create alive. Unfortunately we have never actually succeeded in growing the food supply as fast as our births have attempted to grow our numbers. The millions of starvation deaths each year shows that failure.

      A far better question is why our population scientists continue to provide
      the notion that somehow we can magically average less than 2 without
      knowing that we must.

  • We can see this whole issue as a public health problem. How to make human civilization sustainable, so that it survives instead of self-destructing. We get our biggest bang for the buck by focussing on fossil fuels. If we reduce their usage this will slow resource extraction, economic growth, population growth, and the adverse effect of affluence and technology as the impacts of these are also closely tied to fossil fuel consumption.

    This is, of course, easier said than done. A second priority is political reform. In order to change our consumption patterns we need to be able to put a price on carbon that reflects its cost to society as a whole, factoring in the future. In order to do this we need to separate the financial system from the political system, just as we have separation of church and state.

  • jane

    The positive interpretation of limits should be taken up and broadcast : the acceptance of limits as a marker of our maturity as a species-some hope!

    However, it could be done, with a sufficiently skilled message : limits to poverty- a living wageincome for all; limits to wealth- a cap on excessive pay at the top of the heap; a reduction in the growing wage differentials which skew the economies and societies of so many countries; limits to family size-again a positive, rather than negative message;limits to longevity: a better quality of life for all, not an endlessly increasing life span for the few-a shorter life but a better, more productive one.

    Limitations on our domination of the natural world ; education on the intrinsic value of nature and a change in our attitudes.

    This all sounds naive and rather earnest, and I’m a natural cynic, but the prevailing denial and complacency need to be challenged.

    A good media campaign is needed, with innovative strategies.

    • Hart

      Good contribution Jane. We have to look at the limits OF growth as well as at the limits to growth. The role of religions (many of them) in population growth is substantial and a tough nut to crack. In my opinion this boils down to empowering women.

  • John Weyland

    “change humanity’s dominant behaviour and adapt”
    so, set up community groups where people help each other, forever!
    as they become more and more empowered, they can address sustainability.

  • jane

    I think we need to shift the emphasis from human rights to human responsibilities : to recognise and then act on, the obligations which we now have as the dominant species.

    The liberal left and the free marketeers are equally resistant to the populationgrowth message, especially here in the UK.

    We also have to tackle our obsession with increasing longevity: human life spans are increasing rapidly in the west, alongside degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and impaired mobility.

    The standard response from most governments is to increase the birth rate and allow more people from overseas to settle : the classic short term Ponzi scheme.

    Japan should be seen as an exemplar of the desirability of natural shrinkage.

    Western Europe is now having to tackle mass migration-unwanted-from Africa and the Middle East.

    This is likely to continue unless concerted steps are taken to improve conditions in the countries of origin.

    The Pope recently spoke out against greed, poverty and the need to tackle climate change but would not acknowledge the church’s responsibility as one of the chief opponents of the population campaign.

    How do we convince world leaders of the urgent need for joined-up thinking?

    A grass roots crowd funded campaign perhaps.

    • Hart Haidn

      While it is not certain whether industrialization and higher incomes lead to lower population or if lower populations cause industrialization and higher incomes, the critical question is: What are the barriers to change? and: What can we DO to make it happen? Ignorance on all levels is part of the problem. The need for changes in values and resulting behavior is so obvious and yet we hear so little about the end of growth, which will manifest itself increasingly and erratically over the years to come. When the pain get gets unbearable, change will come.

      • JohnTaves

        “While it is not certain whether industrialization and higher incomes
        lead to lower population or if lower populations cause industrialization
        and higher incomes”

        There is nothing uncertain about this. You are using a faulty view of the world that unfortunately everyone else is using. Instead of imagining the world half full of people, you need to recognize that it has been always been at the limit of how many can be kept alive at one time.

        Humans and all species are relentlessly attempting to grow their numbers by averaging more than 2 babies. The finite nature of the environment stops that growth. Industrialization increased sustenance production and the human population was therefore released to fill the new capacity. The industrialization did not manage to increase sustenance production as fast as our births attempted to grow the population. You can see the consequence of attempting to grow our numbers faster than sustenance production can be increased. It is the groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality.

        What we need to DO is to comprehend this and then teach it so that we all know that averaging more than 2 babies kills.

    • JohnTaves

      “I think we need to shift the emphasis from human rights to human responsibilities : to “recognise and then act on, the obligations which we now have as the dominant species.”

      Yes, we need to know that averaging more than 2 babies is causing child mortality and the associated horrid poverty. We need to figure out why our population scientists are so blind to this. What is so stunning is that Malthus predicted this 200 years ago. His main conclusion of his famous papers was that “And it appears, therefore, to be decisive against the possible existence of a society, all the members of which should live in ease, happiness, and comparative leisure; and feel no anxiety about providing the means of subsistence for themselves and families.” It is true that he stopped short of stating that included with this “anxiety” to get enough food will be the failure to get enough food. He didn’t state that starvation must happen in response to the unrelenting attempt to grow our numbers that averaging more than 2 creates, but he was close enough. However, notice that leading population scientists are blind to this. Joel Cohen, a leading population scientist and author of “how many people can Earth support”, states that there are 1 billion people chronically hungry and that Malthus was wrong! We cannot shift emphasis to where it needs to be with our leading population scientists in a state of ignorance.

      “The liberal left and the free marketeers are equally resistant to the populationgrowth message, especially here in the UK.”

      Yes, of course. Why would anyone want to limit the number of babies we can have in the absence of any knowledge that it is detrimental?

      “The standard response from most governments is to increase the birth rate”

      Yes, there are feeble attempts to do this. Yes, they are entirely misguided, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking governments have any control over the birth rate. China is the only country that is actually attempting to control it with any significant results.

      • There’s an excellent book titled “Red Mars” which during a discussion on how to limit population growth a team comes up with a personal allocation of 75% of a child to each individual – meaning if you were a couple you’d be allowed one child and have the rights for 50% of an additional child. Meaning you’d have to enter into a “Child” market to try and purchase the other half! The result of this is to give a real value of a human child to the household and give additional value to children in care as rather than paying actual money for adoption a couple who can’t “afford” the additional 50% for a child of their own could adopt one for that value?

        The result of this (I’ll admit ridiculous) situation id a minimum of the 25% decline in overall population per full generational period in a measured fashion. Management would be a nightmare, requiring some kind of reversible sterilization at birth so your allocation cannot be exceeded??? It’s more of an
        “Einstein’ian” thought exercise???

        • JohnTaves

          Before it makes any sense to discus how we might ensure we do not average too many babies, we need to comprehend that we are averaging too many babies and that doing so causes child mortality.

          Paul Ehrlich, Joel Cohen, and every other population scientist are overlooking the fact that our numbers are at the limit right now and have generally always been at the limit. They use a useless subjective measure of misery as their definition of being at the limit and then further wreck any possibility of understanding by allowing that limit to be exceeded. They need to comprehend a proper definition of the limit that is not subjective, and also a separate concept that is currently the definition of the carrying capacity. The current definition of the carrying capacity is the sustainable limit, which is a limit that can be exceeded by consuming resources faster than they renew. The limit, cannot be exceeded. The penalty for attempting to exceed the limit is child mortality, and we are relentlessly attempting to exceed it.

          We are also way way above the carrying capacity, the sustainable limit, and that means we have a death debt hanging over our heads. This death debt is understood by imagining being on a boat that has some cans of food. The catch of fish, the renewable resource, feeds only fraction of the people on the boat. The cans of food are feeding the rest, but they will run out and then the population of the boat will be killed back to what the catch of fish can feed. The whole Earth is more complex, so we might figure out some replacement for those cans of food (fossil fuels), but we might not. Instead of making stupid predictions of what the future might bring, we can simply recognize the death debt we owe today. We know that it can be paid off peacefully by averaging fewer than 2 babies. There is no other solution to this death debt.

          Population experts do not comprehend what I just wrote. We need to figure out how to get them to comprehend this so that it can be taught to everyone.

  • jdorastew

    That’s why educating women is so important. Also wealth distribution, of course.

  • DavidK

    You’ve missed one of the primary drivers of population growth, namely poverty, which is a direct result of prevalent economic models. Everything, it seems to me, from population to biodiversity depletion, to antibiotic resitance to religious extremism comes back to our globalised, prevalent, basicaly neoliberal economic models. It’s the economic models that encourages consumption and inequity. Focus on changinf this and appropriate change will come. How? I don’t know. But there are global movements afoot that seem to be raising pressure in the right directions.

    • Sandra Finley

      Richard points out a change in VALUES, to embrace empathy. In my view, a change in the economic system will not necessarily change consumption. A major shift in values is required, and it is happening. The economic system will be forced to change – – you cannot stay the same if the world in which your existence is possible, changes.

      • Sandra Finley

        Our economic system is at odds with our values.