Yes, (Over)Population IS a Problem!

Alan Ware, Dave Gardner | November 15, 2018 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Photo illustration courtesy of World Population Balance

In July, Resilience.org published an opinion piece by Chris Smaje titled Population: What’s the Problem?  As sustainable population advocates, we at World Population Balance thought we should help the author answer that question. We felt it essential to point out several reasons why population – and specifically overpopulation – is a huge problem if we hope to build a sustainable future. We have a lot of respect for the Post Carbon Institute’s work, including the content published at Resilience.org. Unfortunately, the editors at Resilience.org declined to publish our response. We offer it here and thank MAHB for its dedication to informed debate.

Smaje apologizes at the outset for the “clickbait-y title” and “doesn’t doubt” that population levels are a problem. And Smaje notes that “it would be a good thing if human population was lower than it is.” We and many other population-concerned people around the world would argue that it’s not just a “good” thing. It’s an essential thing if we hope to have a viable ecological habitat for us humans and other species for the long-term. Smaje asks what “kind of problem” these population levels are. We’d respond that current human numbers are an existential kind of problem, and the evidence keeps piling up.

Twenty thousand scientists from around the world have now signed the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, issued in 2017. This Second Warning comes 25 years after the 1992 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity in which they called for stabilizing global population. Since 1992, we’ve added another 2 billion passengers to the planet while further depleting resources and polluting the planet.

In the Second Notice the scientists caution that “We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats [italics ours].” The scientists note that one of the main actions we can take as individuals includes “limiting our own reproduction.”

Twenty thousand scientists aren’t the only experts issuing existential warnings to humanity. The Global Footprint Network, whose Earth Overshoot Day fell on the earliest-ever date of August 1st in 2018, has concluded we’re consuming the renewable resources of 1.7 Earths – a 70% overshoot.

The facts of our overshoot should cause alarm. The 20,000+ scientists who signed the Second Warning are alarmed. The Global Footprint Network is alarmed. The World Wildlife Fund – which estimates that mammal, bird, amphibian, and reptile numbers have been halved since 1970 – is alarmed. And behind the sounding of all these ecological alarm bells lies the fact that global population has more than doubled since 1970. And we’re still increasing human passengers on the planet by over 220,000 per day – about 80 million per year.

It is true, as Smaje notes, that many contemporary problems such as plastics in the ocean should be dealt with – regardless of whether sustainable population is achieved. But growing population and consumption are the ultimate causes that make many current problems worse and build ever-larger problems for the future. A declining population would provide enormous leverage in addressing the major problems of our age – topsoil and groundwater depletion, species loss, deforestation, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and climate change. In fact, most of these problems will not be solved as long as human population remains far above a sustainable level.

In one critical area of concern, climate change, it’s clear that population numbers – especially in richer, developed countries – are critical. A 2017 study from Lund University in Sweden found that an individual having one fewer child in a developed country would reduce their carbon emissions over 7 times the level of several other “green” actions combined: including living car-free, avoiding airplane travel, buying green energy, and eating a plant-based diet.

Species loss and animal population declines show that high levels of human population do not, as Smaje states, “lurk somewhere behind the numerous environmental crises of our age.”  Instead, hiding in plain sight, human numbers expanding by an additional 80 million per year are destroying animal habitat to expand cropland, pastureland, and cities. The UN estimates that by 2050 we’ll have to increase food production 60% over 2009 levels in order to meet the demands of our swelling population. Assuming such a huge increase in food production is even possible, the attempt will surely mean the destruction of more farmland, creation of more ocean dead zones, depletion of more aquifers, and further disruption of the climate.

Smaje claims as fact that it’s what populations do that matters most. We certainly agree that what populations do matters, but if what we’re doing is a problem, then the number of us doing it compounds the problem.

And the sad fact is that we’re very stubborn about changing what we do. We’ve so far NOT demonstrated a willingness to consume less and reject the worship of economic growth in the interest of stabilizing the climate or preventing further destruction of ecosystems. This doesn’t mean we should give up on this solution. But it also doesn’t mean we should ignore a solution we HAVE demonstrated a willingness to do – choosing smaller families.

There’s evidence that for all 7.6 billion of us to live a life we consider “decent” and “dignified,” the level of consumption required far exceeds most of the ecological “planetary boundaries” that many scientists believe should not be crossed if we hope to stick around for a while. The University of Leeds study, A Good Life for All Within Planetary Boundaries, concluded that not a single nation is currently delivering a high standard of living to their populace while staying within all nine planetary boundaries. Globally, we’re currently exceeding four of the nine identified boundaries: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, and altered biogeochemical cycles like phosphorus and nitrogen runoff.

The researchers conclude that elements of a “good life” that most of us in developed countries consider basic such as secondary education, decent health care, and democratic forms of governance are associated with consumption 2 to 6 times greater than a sustainable level at our current global population. The fact is, as billions of people strive to live the “good life” they deserve, they will consume much more.  For all of us to enjoy the basics of the “good life” without also trashing the planet, there needs to be far fewer of us humans on the planet.

This is surprisingly within our reach. An average family size of one-child per couple for 100 years could lead to what some experts posit as a sustainable population of around 2 billion people living at a European standard of living. Even an average of 1.5 children per family could, in 100 years, lead to a population smaller than today’s – instead of the 47% growth to over 11 billion projected by the UN.

Our goal should be smaller families in countries all over the planet – rich and poor alike. Rich families consume the most, and poorer families are rightly aspiring to consume more. And neither rich nor poor seem willing to voluntarily and dramatically lower consumption.

As Smaje notes, most of the world has had fantastic success at lowering birth rates over the past 50 years. The world’s average family size has fallen from about 5 in the 1960’s to around 2.45 children today. And, as Smaje rightly notes, the globe has achieved this fall in fertility voluntarily. He rightly asks, “what realistic policy measures… could have been implemented over the last fifty years that could have improved on this 50% fertility decline?”

And we answer that we could have had fertility reduction campaigns in place in every nation. Countries such as Thailand and Iran achieved dramatic fertility rate reductions in a short time using multi-faceted, coordinated, and socially just campaigns designed to encourage smaller families. Had we embarked on such a path fifty years ago, how much less plastic would we have in the oceans today? Might CO2 in our atmosphere still be below 350 ppm?

We can still do this. Better late than never. We can continue on this fertility rate reduction course, and even accelerate it, without disrespecting human rights. The only “population control” we need is awareness, public commitment, and self control. The good news is there are many ways of helping people voluntarily choose smaller families: more widespread contraceptive availability and education of girls are two tried and true pathways of lowering birth rates. But for more of this to happen, we need to acknowledge the problem: that our huge and growing human numbers are unsustainable.

Smaje parrots conventional economists when he refers to the social problems coming to many countries this century that will be facing “demographic collapse.” Is he arguing for us to stabilize our population at today’s totally unsustainable level of 7.6 billion? While it’s true that some countries will be facing some social and economic problems due to declining population, those challenges can be managed. They are minor compared to the challenge of meeting the needs of over 11 billion people without extinguishing other species, irreparably damaging the Earth’s life-supporting ecosystems, and rendering the climate inhospitable if not downright uninhabitable.

Smaje states that “the problem isn’t really ‘population’…‘capitalism’ gets a bit closer to the mark, perhaps.” We certainly agree that it’s essential to begin transitioning to an economic system that’s ecologically sound. Alternative economic systems could help us better differentiate needs and basic requirements of human flourishing from wants and superfluous status-seeking consumption. We must go there. But let’s not forget that living a decent life – whether done under a capitalist system or an ecologically-enlightened system – requires some consumption of resources and production of wastes. Our numbers do matter. We must find a reasonable balance – between our lifestyles and the number of lives – that will leave future generations a planet worth inheriting.

Choosing to have a smaller family is a decision many people can make right now that has huge benefits to the planet. We don’t have to wait for policymakers to do something. Changing an entire economic system is going to take some time. History shows that we’ve had much more success in voluntarily reducing family size than we have in voluntarily reducing consumption. Throughout the long sweep of history – so far – dramatic reductions in peoples’ consumption has happened only involuntarily – in times of economic depression or war.

We believe you can promote smaller families and deal with environmental impacts “directly” as Smaje suggests. In fact, the biggest problem we have with his commentary is his notion that we have to choose – that we have to prioritize either reducing each individual’s consumption or reducing the number of individuals doing the consuming. We don’t have to choose just one. We can do both. The 20,000+ scientists who signed the second Warning to Humanity certainly think we can. And, for the sake of a habitable planet and sustainable human civilization, we must.


Alan Ware is Research Associate and Dave Gardner is Executive Director at World Population Balance. Hear their roundtable discussion of this topic on episode 18 of The Overpopulation Podcast.

The MAHB Blog is a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to joan@mahbonline.org

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The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • Steve Gwynne

    I think Smaje tries very hard to evade common sense. What is more degrading to the environment, 1000 SUVs or 10000 SUVs. What is more degrading to the environment, 1000 plastic bottles thrown into the river or 10000 plastic bottles thrown into the river. I=PAT is not a mathematical formula (straw-manning) but a communication tool that simply states that the number of people multiplied by their affluence multiplied by the technologies being used will have a demonstrable impact on the environment. I=PAT can be used at different scales from the level of the community to the level of the planet.

    In essence, it tells us that if we want a high consumption lifestyle then there will need to be less people in order to remain within planetary boundaries. If we are happy with a much reduced consumption lifestyle then we can accommodate more people. In general however, the Left focuses on consumption habits (without doing really anything about it) and the Right focuses on population (without really doing anything about it).

    In either case, both are as valid as the other, depending on whether a community, a society or globally want to live a low impact lifestyle, a medium impact lifestyle or a high impact lifestyle. So of course, the problem of plastic pollution is a product of both population and levels of consumption, as well as levels of production. Population levels require adequate grey infrastructure and adequate green infrastructure, at least in the modern world, so human population levels will always encroach upon natural infrastructure. Reduce population levels and the demand for consumption will go down. So the number of plastic bottles thrown into the river will always be a product of the number of people throwing plastic bottles into the river. Waste management will avoid the bottles being thrown into the river, but those plastic bottles will still be there and will have been produced by consuming fossil fuels on a per capita basis which directly creates other forms of pollution.

    Therefore the real question is what is easier to manage and change in different circumstances, the number of people consuming or consumption habits. When an economy is designed to produce jobs, goods and services using fossil fuels, how practical is it to say to people that from next year there will be no fossil fuels, no jobs, no goods and no services deriving from fossil fuels. How do you then redeploy these people. The alternative is to reduce the population and thereby reduce the impact of that community or that society. Overall population is a much easier way to reduce impacts. So much so that having one less child has the combined effect of going carless, going vegan and not taking flights.

    This then leads to the challenge of actually reducing the population rather than just refering to a chart that indicates that the rate of growth is reducing. Although the rate of growth is reducing, the population size is still increasing and will continue to do so until the rate of growth is zero or less. And since the growth is exponential, a reducing rate can still result in greater actual numbers.

    Overall, I think this article consciously tries to obscure population for the benefit of the author alone but not for the benefit of the living world. This purposeful obscurantism is probably because the author does not wish to confront the realities of managing population sizes whether in the form of immigration policies, family planning policies and relevant sanctions to deter large family sizes.

    Thankfully, some African countries are now taking population sizes seriously because they know that other nations aren’t going to willingly take responsibility for their promiscuous sex lives and to be frank, why should we, we’ve got enough of our own problems without needing to feed, house and clothe an even larger population than we have now.

    • JohnTaves

      “the Left focuses on consumption habits (without doing really anything about it) and the Right focuses on population (without really doing anything about it). In either case, both are as valid as the other…” This is correct, if you ignore how many babies we average. But that is silly analysis.

      If we pay attention to how many babies we average consumption is totally irrelevant. If we average too many babies, then children must die and it makes no difference if we have an average consumption like kings or like Hitler’s concentration camp inmates. The planet is finite and always will be and therefore children must die at the rate of (x-2)/x where x is how many babies. If we average 3 babies, then 1/3rd of the children must die.

      If we know this and ensure we do not overbreed, then we can trivially ensure we average less than 2 until we no longer consume resources faster than they renew.

      Or to put this another way, the whole focus on population is completely misguided. Our population scientists are causing this by failing to comprehend and teach the fundamental principles regarding how many babies we average.

      My son was taught in high school the utterly useless I=PAT formula, but not (x-2)/x. This is shockingly bad.

      • Steve Gwynne

        I=PAT is more a communication tool. Even better is IMPACT.
        IM = impact
        P = population
        A = acreage
        C = consumption
        T = technology

  • Greeley Miklashek

    Interesting discussion understandably passionate. However, it fails to deal with the medical realities of today: population density stress is killing us NOW through all of our “diseases of civilization”, none of which are found in traditional living sparsely populated hunter-gatherers. We it not for our increasing consumption in America of $3.5T dollars worth of medical services (nearly 20% of our GDP), we would have already ceased to exist and those marginalized self-sustaining hunter-gatherers would have renewed their territories of 12,000 years ago when the earth sustained a steady population of 2.6M humans, rather than today’s number which is over 2,885 times greater. 1/3 of entering college freshmen are already on antidepressants due to chronic high stress living exhausting their ability to maintain the natural production of the necessary mood sustaining neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and endogenous opiates. These life sustaining biochemicals can be temporarily increased by proper administration of antidepressants, but they too eventually fail and depression/anxiety returns. Then what? Americans currently take 4.3B Rx per year! Healthcare Industry nearly always leads the growth of publicly traded corporations on the NYSE. So, all this lovely moralizing about the academic issue of “overpopulation” is fine, but I’m here as a retired lifelong medical doctor to tell anyone who’ll listen (which does not include the WPB or Dave Gardner) that population density stress is killing us NOW. Time to wake-up to the current level of damage we and the earth are suffering due to overpopulation. The details can be found in my 623 page PDF in the MAHB library. Let me know what you think, but don’t deny the medical aspects of our predicament any longer. “Stress R Us” is the title. Thanks for the opportunity!

    • JohnTaves

      I’m sorry, but this is like saying that the people on the Titanic waiting for the life boats are a little chilly.

      Why? Let’s look at the definition of “overpopulation”. It is the situation where the numbers exceed the maximum that can be sustained indefinitely. “indefinitely” means no particular time span, and this tells us how it is possible to exceed the maximum. The maximum is how many can be kept alive at one time without consuming resources faster than they renew. The maximum is exceeded by consuming resources, e.g. fossil fuels, faster than they renew. Fossil fuels, for example, are being used throughout the world to plant, fertilize, harvest, store, and ship subsistence. The last time we managed to keep our numbers alive using only renewable means, our numbers were below 1 billion. This means we have an absolutely huge potential for premature death. When those resources become scarce, the population will be killed down to the level that the remaining resources can sustain. It makes no sense to predict what that might be like, when that might happen, or what technologies can be deployed to replace fossil fuels. Right now we have this potential disaster hanging over our heads. Being concerned about a lot of stress is missing the elephant in the room.

      The failure to understand the definition of “overpopulation” is a huge problem in the population sciences. Population experts each have their own interpretation of the meaning of the term. Scientists are utterly useless if they cannot comprehend and agree on the meaning of the term.

      That failure probably stems from the failure to define the situation where the numbers are at the maximum that can be kept alive at one time using both renewable and non-renewable means. That maximum cannot be exceeded. We are either at that limit and attempting to exceed it, or we are below that limit. At that limit, children must die. If you hold that population limit steady, it is easy to determine the rate that children must die. If we average X babies, then children must die at the rate of (X-2)/X. If we average 3 babies, then 1/3rd of the children must die.

      We’d expect that, because we are talking about too many people for too few resources, we’d have starvation unless humans have not existed for long enough or if there is some sort of mechanism that ensures we only create babies when someone dies. Because we group ourselves into tribes, countries, villages, we’d expect that the death would be suffered by the weakest groups. Notice that we have always had groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality. In other words, humans and all species are generally always at the population limit.

      “population density stress is killing us NOW” — This is correct, but we should rephrase this to state that averaging too many babies is killing children NOW.

      “through all of our “diseases of civilization”, none of which are found
      in traditional living sparsely populated hunter-gatherers.” — This is not correct. “diseases of civilization” has not caused us to average too many babies. We have always done that. Hunter-gatherers overbred just like civilized societies overbreed today.

      The problem is that population scientists, like the president of MAHB, do not understand these concepts. They don’t know the symptoms to look for to see that we are overbreeding (dead children) and assume that the cause of death is politics or just generally poor human behavior.

      This topic will continue to go nowhere until we figure out how to teach scientists, like Ehrlich, these fundamental concepts.

  • Arnold Byron

    I want to restate my position on population control. From the beginning, of the human race, birth rates have been voluntary. The population has grown continually. The only restrictions have been disease and other occurrences of nature. There has always been an abundance of resources, until now.

    It is too bad that the population has chosen the time in which we are living to reach overpopulation. This means that we are the generations who have to stand up and recognize that overpopulation brings a whole new paradigm for living. We cannot live in the past. We have to throw out everything we have learned in the past and start anew.

    If voluntary population birth rates are in the past, then the opposite, controlled population birth rates must be the future. Humanity must survive. Collapse in not an option. But controlling the population must be done in a nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane manner. And it can be, if all of the right decisions are made.

    Overpopulation is a global problem. A global office must be set up to devise and administer a process that will result in reducing the population. I believe that population reduction can happen by using contraceptives to prevent pregnancies. Two people will be able to have one child in a time of reduction, two children in a time of maintenance and three children in a time of increase. The global office will designate when the world population is in reduction, maintenance or increase. After the children have been born the male parent will be required to have a vasectomy and the female parent will be required to have an IUD. There will be a one hundred percent protection against future pregnancies.

    Life is not perfect so a new paradigm will require the setting up of new laws and judiciary to adjudicate the peculiarities of a new paradigm.

    Humanity has no choice but to accept an entirely new way of dealing with population. Otherwise humanity will collapse and maybe even extinguish itself. It all boils down to your decision. If you don’t want collapse then you have to get with the program: the new program, that is.

    I expect that men will have trouble accepting that they must all have a vasectomy. If men insist on resisting, then let them explain why collapse is better than having positive sexual relations.

    • JohnTaves

      “The population has grown continually. The only restrictions have been
      disease and other occurrences of nature. There has always been an
      abundance of resources, until now.” — Sorry, but this is not correct.

      Human have existed for hundreds of thousands of years with our current DNA. Our ancestors go back millions of years. There is no way that the population has grown exponentially during that whole time. Reproduction attempts, yes attempts, exponential growth. If we don’t achieve that, then children must be dying at a rate determined by how many babies we average. For example, history is littered with huge periods where the population did not grow. During those periods, children died at the rate of (x-2)/x where x is how many babies they averaged. If they averaged 3, then 1/3rd of the children died. If they averaged 4, then 1/2 of the children died.

      There has never been a mechanism that ensures we create babies in response to childhood deaths. There is no possible way those periods of no growth occurred because those people magically averaged 2 adults by creating 2 babies and having another baby when a child died.

      Humans, and all species, relentlessly average too many babies. That ensures that we always are attempting to drive the population to infinity and the finite nature of the environment ensures that (x-2)/x children die (where x is how many babies we average). Those deaths are obvious. We have always had groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality. Scientists make countless excuses for these loser groups, but they are guaranteed to exist if we continue to ignore these facts of nature and continue to fail to limit our births.

  • JohnTaves

    “We can continue on this fertility rate reduction course, and even accelerate it, without disrespecting human rights. The only “population control” we need is awareness, public commitment, and self control.”

    Consider some basic math before you continue with the belief system stated above. If your descendants average more than 2, your descendants will run the population to the limit, and attempt to grow the numbers past the limit even if EVERYONE else on the planet has ZERO babies from now on. The only way the finite planet can prevent the population from growing past the limit is to kill children. For example, if the limit is a constant value, and we average 3 babies, then 1/3rd of the children must die.

    1) What does this simple fact of nature tell you about “disrespecting human rights?”

    2) What does this fact of nature tell you about the “awareness” that is required? Who needs to know what?

    3) Knowing this, does it make any scientific/logic/math sense to average the fertility rate across groups? Maybe an example will make this more obvious. If there is a group, of say 1000 people in Japan, that for whatever reason passes along their behaviors to the next generation to an average of more than 2, the rest of the world can have zero babies and still the population is attempting to grow to infinity.

    4) What does this tell you about the logic of extrapolating the fertility rate trend that has occurred during the past 50 years into the future? This article has that extrapolation: “The world’s average family size has fallen from about 5 in the 1960’s to around 2.45 children today…. We can continue on this fertility rate reduction course.”

    If you can’t answer these questions, you are not qualified to discuss population issues. Can anyone comprehend the fundamental problems we have with our understanding of population issues that I am pointing out?

    • JohnTaves

      Once again, the experts at MAHB and the readers have no bloody clue what I write.

      There has been no response, no questions, nothing. I can only assume no thought.

      It makes no difference if I make a statement that is totally factual, then ask the read what the ramifications of the fact are. It makes no difference if I state the ramifications. If the concept is not already known, the reader will ignore it.

      • Hi John,

        The MAHB replied to two of your earlier comments but understands they could have been overlooked.

        Again, we very much appreciate your participation and active discussion. The goal of the MAHB is to create a platform to help global civil society address the interconnections among the greatest threats to human well-being. That being said, not all of our members, leaders and population enthusiast participate by commenting in these forums. Perhaps some have seen your comments but a wide range may still not have due to the fact that this conversation has been limited to one or two blog pieces.

        In an effort to share your perspective and thoughts on how to address this issue, would you be interested in writing a piece for the MAHB? Please let me know if you are and we can discuss more details.

        I understand you feel strongly that the root of the problem is the number of children produced by each woman. I’m wondering, how do you think we go about addressing this at a large societal scale? For those unaware of this issue, how do we engage them in meaningful conversation? How can we learn to listen to other’s opinions and perspectives if they are different than our own on this topic? Even if everyone understood the consequences of more than 2 children, it does not necessarily mean they will change their behavior. What do we make of that? We welcome your thoughts on this.

        It’s easy to share with others what the problems are. I think many MAHB members do understand the critical issue of overpopulation. The real question is not, are they ignoring it or grasping the concept but, what do we do to approach the issue of overpopulation at a societal level? How do we begin address the complexity of this issue?

        • JohnTaves

          Thanks for replying. I did not miss your previous replies. Those replies did not mention the actual topic, they were “we hear you replies” that add no value to the information exchange.

          I do not “feel strongly”. It is a fact of math that averaging too
          many babies only kills children and kills only children. It is not my
          opinion or feeling. There is a formula (x-2)/x that tells us the rate that children must die when we average x babies. It does not get simpler or more factual than this.

          This fact is not known. Ehrlich has never stated this fact. No population expert has ever stated this fact. This fact is not taught in our schools. This fact has profound implications for morality.

          You asked “how do you think we go about addressing this at a large societal scale”. Working backwards, this fact, and a few others like this one, must be taught in every school throughout the world. To achieve that, there must be 100% agreement among anyone that has thought about them. Every single scientist must know these facts.

          To get to that state, I must have a collection of population experts that have all agreed on the definitions and terms and understand the concepts so completely that they have no trouble shooting down the relentless stream of bad arguments that other scientists will provide to avoid changing their beliefs.

          I figure a fast way to get to that state is to find someone that Ehrlich respects, but does not have a vested interest in the current conventional wisdom. That person must be willing and eager to learn, so that they will engage in conversation with me, either in writing or verbally. I will explain a new set of definitions and terms. I will shoot down countless bad arguments that they cough up to avoid the logical conclusions that wreck their existing beliefs. Once that person understands the concepts, our next goal will be to explain them to Ehrlich. Once Ehrlich comprehends, we will have a much more capable communicator than me.

          Let me emphasize that I am not kidding or exaggerating about these “facts”. The perspective that population experts are using, the population perspective, produces nothing but useless subjective measures. For example, Joel Cohen wrote a book “How Many People Can Earth Support”. This huge book arrives at the utterly useless conclusion “it depends”. The perspective of looking at the population growth produces the question of “what happens if the population grows too large?” and a pile of useless subjective answers.

          Everyone I am trying to show the better perspective to seems to be unable to shift. So when I state that I have some facts that are not known, the reader dismisses it because from the population perspective, there are no facts, just a pile of subjective crap.

          • Hi John,

            The MAHB Community is filled with people who are concerned with many different issues in addition to over population. The MAHB’s goal is to provide a platform where members can discuss and think about these issues from a systematic perspective, respecting that no issue, even overpopulation, can be solved with one solution. One of the MAHB’s and its members greatest assets is that we try to understand issues for the complex issues that they are and encourage active, respectful dialogue regarding the multiple different ways we might address them. Perhaps you may have more luck finding someone willing to engage in learning about your definitions and terms by starting a conversation in the Forum section of the MAHB website. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

          • JohnTaves

            This response proves that the following is NOT true.

            “One of the MAHB’s and its members greatest assets is that we try to
            understand issues for the complex issues that they are and encourage
            active, respectful dialogue regarding the multiple different ways we
            might address them”

            Once again a response from the MAHB totally fails to address any of the scientific or factual statements that I have made.

  • Richard Blaber

    I agree completely with the authors. I only wish the Pope did – he could make a lot of difference by persuading his followers that artificial means of contraception were not the sin current Catholic teaching maintains it is, & relaxing his Church’s absolute ban on abortion in all circumstances. I suspect he won’t, & I also suspect the likelihood of any meaningful action on this issue at the appropriate global level is very small. In view of that, Gaia will, I think, do the work for us – and we really won’t like that. The choice is ours – a voluntary curbing of the size of the human population, which is already too large – or a cull, imposed by the self-defence mechanism of the biosphere, which might amount to our extinction. Not nice – as not nice as you can get. But it’s up to us: it’s our choice.

    • JohnTaves

      I am sorry, but you’ve missed a third option. I will clarify the options.

      1) Ensure that everyone knows they must not have more than 2, must not have another if their parents will have more than 4 grandchildren, and not have another if their grandparents will have more than 4 great grandchildren. (I assume this is what you mean by a “voluntary curbing of the size of the human population”)

      2) “or a cull, imposed by the self-defence mechanism of the biosphere, which might amount to our extinction”

      3) The third option is dead children. For example, if the planet prevents the population from rising past some fixed number, and we average 3 babies, then 1/3rd of the children will fail to become adults. Note, that this option has been going on since forever with all species. Right now, even though the population has been increasing, our births are attempting to grow the population faster than can be accommodated. The groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality are caused by averaging too many babies world wide.

      For example, imagine if the food supply stops growing. Maybe we just cannot eek out any more production from the land. In addition we do not change our behavior with respect to evening out the income differential. The population cannot grow. The article above states that the fertility rate is 2.45, which is clearly attempting to grow the population. What must happen? Well, (x-2)/x children must die. Plugging in 2.45 tells us that 18% of the children will die. This won’t be the “cull” you describe in #2.

      In other words, the future does not have to be any different than what we see today; groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality and nobody connecting the dots and stating that this starvation is entirely caused by averaging too many babies world wide.

      • Richard Blaber

        Human sperm counts are dropping, largely because of pollution – so there will be less reproduction as a result. (The scenario of what happens when human reproduction ceases is depicted fictionally in P.D. James’ ‘The Children of Men’, turned into a film by Alfonso Cuaron.) Starvation is not, as you claim, caused by having too many babies worldwide, but by a number of factors, including a grossly unequal distribution of the world’s wealth – Oxfam (see: https://d1tn3vj7xz9fdh.cloudfront.net/s3fs-public/file_attachments/bp-reward-work-not-wealth-220118-summ-en.pdf) have determined that in 2017, there were 2,043 dollar billionaires worldwide (9 out of 10 being men – they don’t mention names, but two of them were Donald Trump & Vladimir Putin), & their wealth increased by $762 billion in 12 months – enough to end extreme poverty 7 times over. In that year, the 3.7 billion poorest people on the planet got nothing, while the wealth of the richest 1% increased by 82%. Can you defend that? I know I can’t – & I’m not going to try! It would also help if the world’s nations didn’t insist on their $1.7 trillion of military spending (see: https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2018/global-military-spending-remains-high-17-trillion) as opposed to feeding the hungry. I think your ideas require some serious revision, Mr Taves.

        • JohnTaves

          You have to comprehend the exponential nature of reproduction. It does not matter what the average sperm count is, nor the average fertility rate is. Averaging over the population is bad math. We must average the number of babies our descendants will have. If your descendants average more than 2, everyone else on the planet can have zero babies, and yet the population is attempting to grow to infinity on this finite planet.

          Let’s look at what this means for your argument that starvation is not caused by averaging too many babies. Let’s say that we redistribute the wealth in the next year so that nobody dies of starvation. This is very good, but now the population is exponentially larger. Keep repeating that year after year, Each year the distribution of wealth becomes more and more even. Each year the population becomes exponentially larger. Eventually you get to the point where everyone is equally miserable. There is no excess wealth to redistribute. We are all on the verge of starvation. What now?

          We can look at your argument another way. What stopped the people that died of starvation from simply picking the food that grows on this planet? They are too stupid to dig up some clams on the shore? Can’t find berries? Can’t kill the deer that wander into their area? Was it groups of tigers, bears, or other more powerful beasts that beat them to this food? No, it was other humans. The very thing that is created when we average too many babies.

          Here’s another way to look at it. Imagine there is a machine at every entrance to the building you are in that stuffs another person into the building every second. You just argued that the machine is not a killer because there is empty space in the room up stairs.

          Averaging more than 2, is a machine that relentlessly stuffs more and more and more people into the planet. That machine has been running since life existed on this planet.

          • Richard Blaber

            Mr Taves, you have ignored my points only to go on an elaborate & wholly unnecessary divagation. For the avoidance of all doubt: I do not dispute, and have never disputed, that humans need to curb, not merely the growth of their population, but the current size of it, so that the annual number of births is much smaller than the annual number of deaths. How that is to be achieved is a matter of debate – but that it _must_ be achieved is imperative if it is not to be imposed from without by the Gaia mechanism, in a random & unpleasant way. It would be a great deal fairer if we over-consuming & over-CO2 emitting people of the global North were to lose more of our population than that of the poor global South. I hope we can agree about that.

          • JohnTaves

            My comment was not a wholly unnecessary divagation. You have failed to comprehend the fundamental math.

            There is one and only one way to ensure our numbers drop without premature death. We must average less than 2. The exponential nature of reproduction ensures that EVERYONE must average less than 2. Your descendants must not average more than 2. Every woman and every man in the “poor global South” must ensure their descendants do not average more than 2. This is not my opinion, This is not an idea that can be debated. It is a fact that must be known.

            You proved that you did not know this by writing “For the avoidance of all doubt: I do not dispute, and have never disputed, that humans need to curb, not merely the growth of their population, but the current size of it, so that the annual number of births is much smaller than the annual number of deaths. How that is to be achieved is a matter of debate”

            Discussing population is pointless. It leads to bogus ideas like “It would be a great deal fairer if we over-consuming & over-CO2 emitting people of the global North were to lose more of our population than that of the poor global South”

            Instead of thinking about and discussing the population size and growth, we must discuss how many babies we have. We must know the exponential math behind it.

          • Richard Blaber

            There is nothing “bogus” about the idea, Mr Taves. However, I have no wish to indulge your obsession with babies by engaging in further discussion with you. Expect no further replies from me – ever!

          • JohnTaves

            I am looking for individuals that can look at this topic from the perspective of how many babies we average. If one does that, one will discover that “It would be a great deal fairer if we over-consuming & over-CO2
            emitting people of the global North were to lose more of our population
            than that of the poor global South” is indeed a bogus idea.

            I totally get that our egos demand that our ideas are not bogus and prevent us from understanding a new concept that wrecks our existing beliefs.

            I write this to encourage anyone else to contact me. Make me prove anything that I have written. Make me shoot down all the counter arguments you can throw at me.

          • JohnTaves

            Regarding: “Starvation is not, as you claim, caused by having too many babies worldwide, but by a number of factors”

            Did my explanation show why groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality proves we are averaging too many babies world wide?

            Did you comprehend why the “number of factors” cannot alter the fact that children must die when we average more than 2?

  • Arnold Byron

    Thank you, Mr. Alan Ware and Mr. Dave Gardner. You assert that an average family size of one child per couple for one hundred years is within reach. You also cite a study from Lund University that, in a developed country, simply having one fewer child can reduce carbon emissions seven times more than living car-free, avoiding airplane travel, buying green energy, and eating a plant-based diet combined.

    How important is reducing the population? Fewer people use fewer resources. The population must be reduced in a nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane manner. The only way that the above criteria can be honored is for humanity to choose population control. Some entity must be in charge so that a plan can be announced and carried out.

    Voluntary reduction will not work. There are about one hundred forty countries in the world. Will all of those countries ascribe to and administer a “non-population control” voluntary system to make sure that families do not have more than one child? How can all of the nations reduce their population in a fair and non-eugenic manner, simultaneously, if they do not have guidance? A global system of population control must be set up by the nations. Continuing to expect the global population to magically do individual population control on a voluntary basis is wishful thinking.

    The best way to set up population control is by setting up a global office and staff it with a committee that does not have any other agenda than to use the following criteria: the population must be reduced in a nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane manner. No reduction can be done by murder or by suicide. I contend that to do nothing until the reduction occurs because of collapse is to be guilty of murder and suicide.

    I have been writing about population control and global warming issues sat this MAHB blogsite. I invite you to look at https://mahb.stanford.edu/?s=A+Plan+for+the+Nations to see how I would set up a global office to be in charge of solving global warming and overpopulation’

    Here are some of my thoughts on how population control should be accomplished.

    There are three formulas for population control: to reduce the population two people will raise one child to adulthood, then end their child raising function; to maintain the population two people will raise two children to adulthood, then end their child raising function; to increase the population two people will raise three children to adulthood, then end their child raising function. These are simple rules that will require laws and a judiciary to administer. The global office will determine when the world is in a time of reduction, maintenance or increase.

    The control will be done by use of contraceptives. When a couple gets together but before they commit to having a child they will use simple contraceptives, such as pills or condoms, to prevent a pregnancy until they are ready. The pregnancy happens and the child is born. Then the father is required to have a vasectomy and the mother is required to have an IUD and pledge on an official document that she will not get pregnant again and if she should that she will carry the pregnancy to term and give the child to a couple who are unable to have children. That couple can be close family friends, but they too will raise only one child to adulthood. cannot have a family of their own. The combination of a vasectomy for the male and an IUD for the female should be one hundred percent effective. The contraceptives will prevent life from forming. There will be no need for abortions because every child will be born and raised to adulthood.

    It is interesting to consider that once the population is in sync with Earth’s resources the population cannot be increased. When humanity, in its march into the future, becomes in sync with available resources it must stay in sync with available resources. Humanity will need a global office to make that assessment, forever.

    • GrowthBuster

      Thanks for sharing your take, Arnold. It’s safe to say that the likelihood of success of our voluntary vision is not high. We have a lot of obstacles to overcome. However, I daresay the likelihood that humankind will embrace and implement your compulsory vision is equally low.

      • Arnold Byron

        My thoughts on non-eugenic population control are not catching on very quickly. However, I will continue to push on population control until it becomes apparent that voluntary measures have produced negative population growth. If there are two horses in a race and you have a bet on both of them, you win. Both of these concepts have to be promoted vigorously.

        • GrowthBuster

          I’m afraid even just using the term “population control” turns many off. So I fear any efforts to promote a program using that term, and any efforts to promote compulsory birth rate reduction, will taint the whole conversation and retard progress for us all.

          • Arnold Byron

            The topics of voluntary birth rate reduction and controlled birth rate reduction need to be debated thoroughly in a global debate. I hope there are others willing to join in and create discussion at the highest levels of science, governance and human relations.
            I believe that humanity can engineer a controlled reduction in a nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane manner. This will lead to peace, harmony and resources for all. I also believe that if there are no rules, migration from poor countries to rich countries will become hugely problematic. This will lead to strife, wars, eugenics and collapse of the social and economic systems of the world.

          • Greeley Miklashek

            Mother Nature is already replete with “population control” mechanisms, which none of you are apparently aware of. Why do think we are so sick and getting sicker by the day. Currently, 1/3 of entering college freshmen are already taking an anti-depressant, as are 1/4 of adult American women. I cite numerous other examples in “Stress R Us”, available in the MAHB library. In fact all of our ‘”diseases of civilization” (heart disease/stroke, cancer, lung disease, obesity/diabetes, alcoholism/addiction, mental illnesses, suicide,etc.) can be traced to our over-active stress responses and high cortisol levels. NONE of our diseases are to be found in traditional living sparsely populated hunter-gatherers. Why? Population density stress is killing us NOW, and our 100% increase in infertility over the past 34 years, as well as 59% reduction in sperm counts in the West are also part of Nature’s plan to reduce our overpopulation and save Her planet. An nationally known fellow physician and adrenal gland researcher just read “Stress R Us” and responded: “I loved it! Now I see the world much more clearly!” I wish the overpopulation experts would give it a look. Humans won’t reduce our reproduction until we are faced with the reality of how exactly population density stress is killing us now. If this doesn’t wake us up and drive the voluntary one-child family movement we so desperately need, nothing will, and certainly not the current moralistic hand-wringing in this article and comments. Stress R Us

          • Arnold Byron

            To Greeley Miklashek. Your last sentence, “If this doesn’t wake us up and drive the voluntary one-child family movement we so desperately need, nothing will,——-.” I’m not sure we ‘desperately’ need a voluntary process. I don’t think we need a voluntary process at all. Why dismiss a controlled one-family process; especially when the process is defined as nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane? Will a voluntary one-child family movement be nonviolent, non-eugenic, fair, safe and humane?
            A controlled one-child process is the better choice. It can be controlled, thereby disallowing violence or eugenics. A controlled process has goals and a plan on how and when those goals will be reached. To wait for voluntary compliance is to wait too long. It will take several generations to reduce the population to where it needs to be. We must start soon if not immediately. If there are no goals and no plan to reach those goals then we are promoting nothing more than wishful thinking.
            If population reduction is voluntary: Will the rich nations lose or gain population? Will poor nations migrate to rich nations? Will the rich nations kill all the migrants to save themselves? I see voluntary population reduction as engendering both murder and suicide. We don’t want either of these.
            I thank MAHB for allowing me to post some articles under the general title, A Plan for the Nations. Use this link. https://mahb.stanford.edu/?s=A+Plan+for+the+Nations

          • Greeley Miklashek

            To Arnold: Thanks for that! If all we had to discuss was whether one-child families would be voluntary of involuntary, I’d die happy. However, the humans I’ve spent a lifetime trying to understand ( and save) will rebel from forced one-child families, which was pretty much the Chinese experience. My position is that we need to get the word out that population density stress is killing us now and will only accelerate at greater population densities (which explains the 69,000,000 desperate homeless migrants worldwide and knocking at the borders of wealthy European and US nations). If we really love our children and grandchildren, we will embrace the necessity of one-child families in order to bring our populations back down to 1950 levels (2.5B) by 2,100. Otherwise we and the earth are in for ever greater suffering and despair. There simply aren’t enough anti-depressants for every man, woman, and child on the planet, which will be necessary to sustain life soon. 1/3 of entering American college freshmen is currently taking an antidepressant! This is increasing rapidly. Plans for nations are a wonderful idea, but an informed public has gotten us this far, except for the 2016 election debacle due to Russian interference. I like your passion! Keep on truckin’ Stress R Us

        • JohnTaves

          Your thoughts are not catching on very quickly because our population scientists don’t know the fundamental facts of nature. They fail to grasp the concepts I stated in the comment above. If our population experts, like Paul Ehrlich, cannot be shown these facts of nature, we have no hope to explain it to the masses.

    • JohnTaves

      Arnold, you are correct.

      However, let me point out some concepts that will help explain your position better.

      “Voluntary reduction will not work. There are about one hundred forty countries in the world. Will all of those countries ascribe to and administer a “non-population control” voluntary system to make sure that families do not have more than one child?”

      This is correct, but there is a very real scientific explanation. Imagine we have a “non-population control” voluntary system that is unbelievably successful. Everyone conforms to this one child limit, except the conscientious objectors. The conscientious objectors believe that their god wants them to have a large family. The conscientious objectors successfully pass on their beliefs to an average of more than 2. Let’s be extreme here and say that everyone except the conscientious objectors have zero babies. Notice that the population is still attempting to grow to infinity. The voluntary reduction system is a complete failure even if everyone have zero babies except the conscientious objectors.

      In other words, we cannot have ANY conscientious objectors. How do we ensure there are none? We have to teach the facts of nature. We have to teach everyone that averaging too many babies (which is generally more than 2) kills children. Notice that this is not hyperbole. There is a formula that tells us the rate that children must die given how many babies we average. (x-2)/x. If we average 3 babies, then 1/3rd of the children will die.

      • Arnold Byron

        Thanks for saying I am correct. That is a real ego booster and you have made my day. If the truth were known, whenever I open a conversation with my ideas of population control I am seldom told I am correct. Again, thanks.

        You give an example about the possibility of a conscientious objector. There will be no objectors because the nations will have made laws that require every male to be subjected to a vasectomy after the birth of one, two, or three children depending on whether the global office has decreed a time of reduction, maintenance or increase. I expect that men will not want to get vasectomies, so I would make vasectomies mandatory after the allowed number of children are born. The wife will be required to have and IUD. Using both the vasectomy and the IUD together as contraceptives will provide one hundred percent protection.

        There will have to be new laws and judiciary. For instance, if a child dies in an accident the parents will be deprived of raising the child to adulthood. I would think that the new paradigm could be set up so that a judge could rule that the mother could have the IUD removed and she could become pregnant, invitro, by a close relative donor or by harvesting sperm from the father. They could then be full citizens of their society. This example makes my concept for humanity’s future seem like a science fiction story. But, of course, the reality is that the future will be whatever it takes to survive. I believe strongly that the way humanity will not only survive, but thrive, in the future is to accept that every man will have a vasectomy in his lifetime.

        Look at the last three paragraphs of my posting just above this one.

        • JohnTaves

          Sorry, I think you misunderstood me. We cannot get to your scenario where there are laws, like the Chinese one child policy, until we know the facts I stated.

          Our population experts, like Ehrlich, don’t know these facts. Experts, like the authors of this article, have the bogus belief that fertility rate trends will continue downward. They do not understand the contentious objector concept I described above. They don’t understand that if these contentious objectors can exist today, that the fertility rate projections that they provide are nonsense mathematically. They have not proven that these contentious objectors cannot exist.

  • Mike Hanauer

    Can someone please provide a link to that “second warning” signed by 20,000 scientists. Thanks.

  • melharte

    Okay, how many of you have read the MAHB piece I wrote a few months back, detailing exactly how the highest per capita consumer nation in the world, the US, could dramatically lower its fertility? https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/larcs-usa/
    We need to keep spreading the message that we can lower our numbers humanely, but need to accelerate the process dramatically. In the US, this means providing free, highly effective and taxpayer-saving contraceptives free to any woman or man who wants them — and provide the marketing and outreach needed to make it happen: statewide distribution networks. This is ALREADY starting to happen, albeit much more slowly and haphazardly than needed.

    We need a federal mandate, and it’s time for US voters to be educated on the need and start banging on the doors of Congress. With a record number of women members, our chances of being heard are greater than ever.
    Meantime, it is laughable/cryable to talk about 100 year population targets, as the scientists warning, noted above, implies — nature will start crashing our populations much sooner, and far more inhumanely, to “sustainable levels.”

    • GrowthBuster

      I just reread your piece, Mary Ellen, and I thank you for it. Many good points. Though I would also like to make sure we find ways to encourage the very wealthy to have far fewer children. It would have been nice (very important, actually) for Prince William to get a vasectomy after his first child, for example. We do need free (ideally) long-acting reversible contraception. But we also need overshoot and overpopulation awareness (overconsumption, too), so that those who think they can afford large families do the right thing, too.

      • JohnTaves

        GrowthBuster, how about making the following fact of nature known to everyone?

        Everyone will probably agree that they should have a child if they can’t afford it, right? Well let’s do that system perfectly. Let’s imagine that nobody has a child if they will fail to successfully feed that child until it is an adult. In other words, the dirt poor, and anyone that will fall into hard times in the next say 20 years, will NOT make a baby. However, let’s say that the rich have as many babies as they want, and they average 3 babies. What happens?

        The good news is that we have eliminated the groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality that have always existed in this world! Yea!

        However, 1/3rd of the rich children grow up to be so poor, they know they cannot afford to have a baby.

        • GrowthBuster

          I’m guessing you know this idea has all kinds of flaws. Perhaps it’s proposed in jest? But not at all helpful to forward progress on this issue.

          • JohnTaves

            There was no jest at all. This was not an idea. This was not some sort of solution.

            This example shows the basic math involved. It shows that the notion that all will be well if we have free birth control and use that to ensure we all have only the number of babies we can afford is utter horseshit.

            It should cause you to rethink your belief if we all have access to free birth control and all women have equal rights and all have quality educations, that somehow we will magically not over breed.

            It should cause you to question the conclusions generated by the whole pile of research produced by our population experts like Ehrlich.

    • JohnTaves

      I agree with your sentiment. I am on your side.

      “nature will start crashing our populations much sooner” — strictly speaking this has been going on forever. It is so normal we don’t notice it for what it really is. Groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality are the consequence of averaging too many babies world wide. These victims have always existed. This is exactly what happens when we breed to excess.

      I agree that we need to provide free birth control to everyone on the whole planet. Consider what happens if everyone in the USA accepts your program, and we go a step farther for good measure and have zero babies. The population continues to attempt to grow to infinity and the world continues to suffer starvation related child mortality. This is because as long as there are people that will average more than 2, the population attempts to explode to infinity even if everyone else has zero.

      My point is that we must all understand the fundamental math concepts underlying this topic. We must all know that averaging too many babies kills children. We must all know that I must not have more than 2 and must not have another if that will mean my parents have more than 4 grandchildren and must not have another if that means my grandparents will have more than 8 great grandchildren.

      This knowledge is not optional.

  • Dana Visalli

    Thanks to the authors for the well thought out commentary. It is disappointing that Resilience would not publish something so lucid. One statement that I had a small issue with: ‘Living a decent life – whether done under a capitalist system or an ecologically-enlightened system – requires some consumption of resources and production of wastes.’ That word ‘waste’ is ecologically problematic. None of the other 10-30 million species on the planet produce any ‘waste.’ It seems likely that Homo sapiens could rejoin the ‘great cycle of beans’ as I to call it (great cycle of beings)–without having to go back to living in caves. It would be a simpler but happier life.

    • GrowthBuster

      I suppose we meant “wastes” in a very temporary way. And when you produce way too much of something (like CO2) it ceases to be useful in the cycle of life. I don’t think we have any disagreement here. Appreciate your reading it and your thanks!

      • Arnold Byron

        Waste is never temporary. How much waste will we pile up in the next five hundred, one thousand, ten thousand or even hundred thousand years? We can change all of the carbonaceous waste into petroleum products, generate electricity and remove CO2 from the atmosphere all at the same time. See my comment to Dana Visalli just above.

    • Arnold Byron

      Humans can form a waste-less way of living. The inventing and engineering have already been done. Use your computer browser to look up words such as thermal depolymerization and hydrous or anhydrous pyrolysis. These are processes that will change carbonaceous household waste into petroleum products such as gasoline. Humanity will need to use petroleum products forever, just as it needs to use up its waste products forever. These processes will also remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This will require a global infrastructure of tens of thousands of processing units. It will likely cost from hundreds of billions to trillions of dollars to build, but the units will pay for themselves over time. If big business won’t come up with the money then governments will have to. This is all a part of what needs to be done to save humanity from overpopulation and global warming. We can form a waste-less way of living and at the same time end the use of fossil fuels for our energy needs. This link is to previous postings that I have made to this MAHB blog-site. https://mahb.stanford.edu/?s=A+Plan+for+the+Nations

  • Start with your local religious nut cases.

    • GrowthBuster

      Religion certainly plays a role, but I’m not going to open any awareness-raising or education campaign or discussion on this topic with those of faith by referring to them as nut cases. Are there some nut cases? No doubt. But I don’t think we’ll make much progress if we focus only on them.

  • Geoffrey Holland

    Too many people; too few resources. Where population is concerned, what we have is civilization scale denial.

    • GrowthBuster

      Thanks for the comment. Denial is right!

  • The loophole; ‘1%’ of people already trouser 50% of GDP, where 99% of people fight for the other 50% of GDP. In 30 years ‘1%’ of people will trouser 80% of GDP, where 99% of people will fight for the other 20% of GDP. When 1% of people have trousered 99% GDP, 99% of people will probably be dying from the ‘over-consumption’ (not the over-population) that took us over the event-horizon and into the unstoppable rates of climate change. The 1% still (it seems) fail to understand that their loophole is actually the black hole that it is dragging us ‘all’ into.

    Problem solved? (I don’t think so).

    • GrowthBuster

      You definitely identify a problem we can’t ignore. We’re definitely not advocating a myopic approach.

      • I hear you and I agree with that.

        The ‘frontier-guts’ of this (whatever we now call it) is growth-vs-degrowth (i.e ‘growth of anything’ per se).

        As the entire (now globally dominant) ‘business-model’ is founded on growth-at-any-cost (aka ‘$-double or die’), on the face of it this increasingly looks like a fight to the death.

        As it (after thirty years of engagement – for me at least) has just become too-horrible to look at, going a bit blurry-visioned about it is like the self-induced myopia of having several stiff drinks.

        Sadly however, the problem remains and (however unbearable) to solve it the forensic need for the cross-hairs of cold analysis does too: – http://www.gci.org.uk/CBAT_Domain_Four.html

        God help us.

      • Corey Mueske

        I agree with most everything in your essay with the exception of one thought. You said it will take time to change the system. We have to change the system to prevent a global collapse, and prevent casualties from future natural catastrophes, and food, water, and resource shortages, and what we need for a better future is more urgency.

        What we need collectively is a massive re-educational campaign using the world’s media moving public opinion away from overprocreation (and away from overpopulation) towards a halt in births with birthless years for 7-10 year cycles with only one year of births allowed (with a very tight birth permit system) following each cycle. I’m talking about educating the general public on the consequences of overpopulation featured on every news channel in every country on Earth, with a halt in births as a strict part of Earth law.

        https://www.change.org/p/weltweite-geburtenregelungen-verbindlich-einf%C3%BChren-introduce-obligatory-worldwide-birth-controls?recruiter=195433&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=1358fc4564724d3d8790337b204127e1

        • JohnTaves

          The re-education campaign must state very specific facts that are not the facts you’ve stated.

          “overprocreation” is not defined. Instead we need to state that we must not have another child if we already have 2. We must not have another child if our parents already have 4 grandchildren. We must not have another child if our grandparents already have 4 great grandchildren. Let’s call this TwoFourEight.

          In addition that campaign must state the indisputable fact that averaging too many babies only kills children and kills only children. It must state that averaging too many babies world wide is happening right now and that the groups of people suffering starvation related child mortality are consequence and proof.

          “a halt in births with birthless years for 7-10 year cycles with only one
          year of births allowed (with a very tight birth permit system)
          following each cycle” — Technically we can still average more than 2 with this algorithm. I don’t see the point. If we comprehend TwoFourEight and ensure we do not exceed it, then we can easily ensure we do not exceed some lower fertility rate without any “birthless years”.

          • Corey Mueske

            TwoFourEight will not lower the population to 529 million humans, which is the recommended arable land statistics of only 12 humans per square kilometer (of Earth space).

          • JohnTaves

            Of course it will. TwoFourEight will lower the population to zero. You have failed to specify a time span.

            I did not state that TwoFourEight will or will not lower the population to your favorite value by your preferred date.

            TwoFourEight is a concept that is required to be known. If we know TwoFourEight, we can trivially know OneThreeFive. If we don’t know TwoFourEight, we will continue to over breed.

            Please explain to me why you missed “If we comprehend TwoFourEight and ensure we do not exceed it, then we can easily ensure we do not exceed some lower fertility rate without any “birthless years””