Choice

Brent, Jason G. | March 11, 2014 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Choice

Since the earth is finite and the resources it can provide humanity are finite, economic growth will cease and no power on the earth or in the heavens will prevent that from occurring. Compound growth will cause that cessation to occur in the very near future. The United States tries for an annual economic growth rate of 2.5%. If that were to occur, in less than a century economy of the United States would be 16 times as large as the current economy and that is impossible, it will not and cannot happen. If that rate of growth were to continue for 280 years, the economy of the United States would be over 1000 times as large as the current economy and that is impossible, it will not and cannot happen. If the economy of the entire planet were to grow at the rate of one percent per year, in 700 years it would be over 1000 times as large as the current economy, in 1400 years over 1 million times as large as the current economy and in 2100 years, about the time from the birth of Jesus to the present, the economy of the planet would be over 1 billion times as large as the current economy. That cannot and will not happen.

Humanity has a choice— cease economic growth by intelligent action today or in the very near future or economic growth will stop when the planet can no longer supply the resources necessary to maintain the economy at a future higher level. If the economy were to stop when the resources of the earth could not support the economy at the higher future level, that would result in resource wars, most likely with weapons of mass destruction, which would wipe the human race off the face of the earth. If the economy were to stop when the resources of the earth could not support the economy at the higher future level and if resource wars with weapons of mass destruction did not occur, other catastrophes such as starvation and disease would occur which would cause billions to die.

Once economic activity reached a peak only two things can happen, disregarding oscillations, the economy of the planet could remain at the peak forever into the future or it could start to decline. In reality, it will not remain at the peak forever into the future and, therefore, a short time after the peak is reached economic activity will decline and probably the rate of decline will be very substantial. Both economic activity and population will reach a peak and then start to decline due to the fact that humanity has used and is using both non-renewable and renewable resources at a rate that cannot be sustained. Humanity must change every aspect of civilization to cope with that fact–peak and continual decline of both economic activity and population level

The only intelligent course of action for humanity is to immediately start to stop economic growth. The cessation of economic growth will be the most horrific and traumatic event that humanity has ever suffered. However, if growth were to cease due to the fact that the earth could not supply the necessary resources to maintain the higher level economic activity which would occur if economic growth were permitted to continue, the trauma and horror would be millions of times greater than if humanity were to intelligently cease economic growth in the near future.

Since economic and population growth are two sides of the same coin, humanity cannot take steps to stop economic growth without taking steps to stop population growth. Simply put, without taking steps to stop population growth, any steps to stop economic growth would fail and economic growth would continue leading to disaster. There are only two ways by which population growth will cease— by the voluntary action of all of humanity or by coercive action on a planet wide basis. The UN’s latest medium variant predictions were that the human population would attempt to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 and 10.9 billion by 2100.  These numbers represent increases of 400 million and 900 million respectively over the previous predictions made by the UN.  These increases support the proposition that at this point in time voluntary population control is failing.

More importantly, the medium variant predictions were based on the assumption, repeat assumption, that the total fertility rate (TFR) would decline, on a worldwide basis, from the current 2.55 per woman to 1.85  per woman  by the year 2050.  The UN did not provide any facts which would support that assumption. The UN also stated that if the TFR which existed during the period  2005-2010 were to continue, population in the least developed regions of the planet would attempt to reach 27.5 billion.  If that were to occur,  it would mean that the total human population would attempt to reach about 29 billion.

Since a very strong argument can be made that the earth cannot provide the necessary resources to support the 7.2 billion of our species that presently inhabit the planet, any attempt to reach a population of 29 billion is doomed to failure and would result in resource wars with weapons of mass destruction or other catastrophes which would cause the horrific deaths of billions and the collapse of the social order never to rise again. No rational person, only a lunatic and madman, would gamble the survival of humanity on the assumption that the TFR would decline without first evaluating the risks and problems of coercive population control. Logic demands that coercive population control be considered in relation to the UN’s medium variant prediction of attempting to reach 10.9 billion by the year 2100 due to the fact that is highly likely that a major die off will occur prior to that year, caused by the growing population and the ever increasing usage of non-renewable and renewable resources.  Simply put, only a lunatic and madman, would gamble the survival of the human species on voluntary population control without considering coercive population control .

Every human right, except the right to produce children, which when exercised harms another human being is in some manner controlled and limited by society. Since the right to produce children not only could, but would, cause the deaths of billions there isn’t any logical or moral reason why that right should not be controlled. Therefore, that right must be treated as every other right and controlled and limited by society.

Jason G. Brent is a member of the MAHB community with degrees in Engineering, Law and Business.


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 joan@mahbonline.org

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  • jane
  • stevenearlsalmony

    What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?

    That human beings continuously increase the food supply for human consumption in order to meet the needs of a growing population is a colossal misperception, bereft of a foundation in science. Food is the independent variable and population numbers is the dependent variable, not the other way around. The actual dynamics of the relationship between food and population applies to all species. And of all species only the human species continuously increases its food supply. The distinctly human ability to increase its food supply is a vital difference between humans and other species. In such a situation a positive feedback loop is inadvertently produced between the increasing supply of food and rising population numbers in which increasing the food supply fuels the growth of human population numbers and that growth gives rise to a tragic misconception: food supply needs to increased even more in order to meet unnecessary human needs for more food production. With the benefit of heretofore unacknowledged scientific research we can see how more food for consumption by all species equals greater numbers of that species; less available food for consumption equals fewer numbers of any species, including the human species. No food, no species. No exceptions.

    According to the uncontested scientific research from Hopfenberg and Pimentel, human population dynamics is essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species. How are we to do anything with regard to the global predicament spawned by skyrocketing human population numbers if we cannot widely share and consensually validate an adequate understanding, based upon the best available science, of why human numbers have been growing so rapidly? The science of human population dynamics has been a taboo topic for too long. I have come to believe that top rank scientists and other self-proclaimed population experts are acting as deliberate defenders of current, conventional, preternatural thought and willful deniers of scientific research regarding the human population. That you are willing to speak out loudly, clearly and often about what you see regarding human population dynamics/overpopulation takes intellectual honesty and uncommon courage.

    We appear to live in a time in which humankind’s perception has fractured schizophrenogenically and clarity of vision has been lost; when incoherent minds of the ‘brightest and best’ determine what was real; in a period of self-serving greed mongering, abject intellectual dishonesty and the absence of moral courage. Political convenience, economic expediency, specious demographics, ideological idiocy, social status quo, religious dogma, cultural prescription and incomprehensible avarice rule the world, reign supreme, darken the surface of Earth, pollute its environs and threaten future human well being and environmental health.

    Individually and collectively, human beings cannot make a difference that makes a difference if we continue not to question the ubiquitously broadcast delusions by the world’s leading elders who are directing our youth down a ‘primrose path’, probably to precipitate the utter extirpation of global biodiversity, the irreversible degradation of Earth’s ecology, the reckless dissipation of its limited resources… and the destruction of life as we know it. The very thing our leaders claim to be protecting and preserving for children everywhere and coming generations.

    • jason g. brent

      All species reproduce. In every case, except for humanity, there is a struggle for resources, including food, with the strong/fittest surviving to reproduce with the weakest/less fit dying before reproducing. In the case of humankind our species produces more food or makes more resources available, in accordance with our concepts of morality and justice, so that the weakest/less fit survive to reproduce. This will continue for humankind until our species cannot produce more food or make more resources available and then disaster and death. Of course, we are unable to determine which of our species is the weakest or less fit and that confounds everything. It really doesn’t matter which is the dependent or independent variable. Our species has a major problem and we are rapidly approaching the point the problem will explode in our face due to the ever increasing population and ever increasing use of resources, including food–soon there will not be enough food or resources to be available to the weakest/less fit. Our planet is finite, (and the likes, desires, concepts of morality and justice of humanity are totally unimportant), and therefore the resources and food are finite and not infinite.

  • Stuart Hurlbert

    Ah, academics! The longer I’ve been one, the less faith I have in their ability to do much other than write.

    Jason states “There are only two ways by which population growth will cease— by the voluntary action of all of humanity or by coercive action on a planet wide basis. ”

    This is basically true but is misleading and provides an excuse for those afraid or otherwise disinclined to take action at a national level.

    As Judy Fulton points out there is, fortunately, absolutely no prospect for such “coercive action” anywhere, let alone “on a planet wide basis.” For starters, we’d have to at least get the Democratic and Republican parties to both think it a wise direction….

    On other hand “voluntary action….on a planet wide basis” is potentially feasible if we understand that this might be accomplished by individual nations, slowly and one-by-one at first, adopting wise population policies. At the moment, of the 196 nations in the world not one has a rational overall population policy. There are no good models out there to get the ball rolling.

    Waiting for a UN police force to sweep into action with pregnancy detectors seems unlikely to be a profitable course, though of course it would free up more time for couch potato academics to chatter on over their wine and cheese.

    For the U.S., my suggestions were published ( “Critical Need for Modification of U.S. Population Policy”) in Conservation Biology last year (vol. 27, pp. 887-889). These are similar to the principles of our new organization — check them out at Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization ( http://www.populationstabilization.org ).

    Pretty basic, unoriginal ideas, really. Large reductions in immigration levels, strong tax incentives for small families, zero coercion.

    SEPS doesn’t give advice to the UN, Canada, Mexico, China, Nigeria, France or any other country. We do accept, however, requests for advice from any government or international body which we will be happy to provide at our usual fee of $250/hour plus expenses.

  • Judy Fulton

    It isn’t the number of people but the resources they use, so it is more important to limit resource intensive populations. Many of us would not support coercive population control for the same reason we wouldn’t support coercive control for any other issue and it would be resisted. Unbelievable suffering is already a reality for many and we are ruled by a system that seems to make our leaders act like lunatics and madmen. The mere fact that growth isn’t sustainable obviously isn’t compelling unless a path to an alternative is given.

    That given, the more important point in your essay deals with unsustainable economic growth. If you stayed on point your closing paragraph might read; “The right to accumulate wealth in a manner that harms other human beings and destabilizes the social fabric must be controlled and limited by society. Since the right to do so causes the death of billions there isn’t a any logical or moral reason why that right should not be controlled. Therefore, that right must be treated as every other right and controlled and limited by society.”

    • jane

      Wrong;the numbers of humans are every bit as important as the resources used:impoverished communities devastate their immediate habitats as rising numbers impel them to utilise ever more land,water and other resources:deforestation , desertification and species loss are spreading in some of the world’s poorest countries.,where some of the highest rates of population expansion are found.
      Unbelievable suffering will worsen if we do not act rationally and have the maturity and foresight to control our numbers and rein our addiction to ‘sustainable growth’: the great oxymoron of our times.
      Reproduction is seen as an absolute right-off limits for any kind of coercion.
      We need to think about our responsibilities to future generations and to the other creatures which also have an interest in not being forced into extinction.
      Jason Brent is correct:population growth and economic growth are 2 sides of the same coin:both must be tackled,if we are to have any hope of a viable future.

    • jason g. brent

      In very simple terms, a reduction of per capita resources used by the industrialized nations of the world will not in any way solve the problems facing the ever growing human population. If the Americans reduced their per capita usage of resources by 30%, a very difficult event which will never happen, and if the individuals of the rest of the industrialized nations of the world reduced their per capita usage of resources by 20% the result would be absolutely meaningless and worthless if the human population increased from our current 7.2 billion to the medium variant predicted by the UN of 10.9 billion in 2100. Also how would such a reduction work—would there be a schedule that a person worth $100 million could build a house of 5,000 square feet and ride a car that got 20 mpg, a person worth only $50 million could build a house of 4,000 square feet and ride a car that got 30 mpg, and a very poor person worth only $30 million must build a house no greater than 3,000 square feet and ride a car that got 35 mpg or would all of them be limited to the same size house and same size car. How would the furnishing in the house be determined? How would their vacations and the amount of the meat they eat be determined?
      The UN also stated that if the current fertility rate were to continue the population of the less developed regions of the world would attempt to reach 27.5 billion by 2100. Any attempt to reduce per capita usage of resources by any group or person in view of that possible increase in population would be the worst joke ever played on humankind