A Simple Point (that makes a big difference over time)

| June 1, 2019 | Leave a Comment

Retrieved from: http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/store/add.php?iid=71886.

Item Link: Access the Resource

Media Type: Article - Recent

Year of Publication: 2019

Publisher: Overpopulation Project

Author(s): Philip Cafaro


Here at The Overpopulation Project we explore various aspects of the population-environment connection, some of which get quite complicated. In this blog we make a simple point, well worth remembering and sharing with colleagues and friends. We highlight the difference between a decreasing rate of global population growth, the amount of growth, and an end to growth. These distinctions about growth are regularly confounded in the media and in conversations about population.

Read the full article here.

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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.
  • Steven Earl Salmony

    If the colossal current scale and expected growth of the human population threatens the future of life as we know it, including the survival of Homo sapiens sapiens, then as long as we keep aggressively increasing the total production of food in order to feed a growing human population of 7.7+/- billion, we are simply digging ever deeper the hole out of which we must climb in order to return to sustainability in the world we inhabit and to balance within the web of life of which we are an integrated part. We do not have a food production problem. Superabundant harvests are presently more than sufficient to feed the entire human population of Earth. Food needs to be redistributed in a much more fair and equitable manner. “Increases Only” in the total production of the food for human consumption must be a part of any plan that leads children everywhere to a viable future. More food production “to meet the needs of a growing population” is not the answer to the problem because food is the ‘fuel’ that is causing the population explosion.




    • Steven Earl Salmony

      Dear MAHB Admin, Philip Carfaro, Jane N. O’Sullivan, Geoffrey Holland, Richard Jackson, Jeremy Lent, Jem Bendell, Nate Hagans, Sandra Kahn, Zoe Schlanger, Elijah Wolfson,

      If you would be so kind, please point to the scientific research that responds to the query, “Why are absolute global human population numbers continuing to explode, despite the declining total fertility rates virtually everywhere on the surface of Earth?

      • Steve, there are a lot of articles published in the MAHB Library related to this topic. Simply put, even with a declining growth rate, the global fertility rate is still above replacement level at 2.5 meaning our global population will continue to grow annually. With such a large population base, the annual increase in population will be significant. This may just be the mathematical ‘why’. Human behavior, resources available and many other complex issues help us to understand the bio-psycho-social reasons of why global human population is still growing.

        • Steven Earl Salmony

          Dear MAHB Admin, thank you for replying just as you have. From my perspective, simply saying how the global fertility rate is both higher than declining total fertility rates virtually everywhere and “above replacement level of 2.5” does not answer the question, why we have ongoing population growth? This mathematical recognition of what is happening does not reveal to us why absolute global human population numbers are continuing to skyrocket in our time and why has this question been treated as if it was a taboo?

          Why was this growth not occurring 500 or 5000 years ago? Why now on our watch? Why have absolute global human population numbers grown by more than 5 billion people in my lifetime (74 years)? Why are there twice as many people alive on Earth today than existed in the year of my birth (1945)?

          Let us consider that the current colossal scale and anticipated growth of the human population is the primary precipitant for global heating, climate destabilization and an existential planetary emergency. If we can share an understanding of why human numbers are increasing, then we would stand a chance of doing something at least to ameliorate if not remedy the problem. If we choose to keep doing the things we are doing by increasing distinctly human overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of our species, climate scientists uniformly are predicting dire consequences. If H. sapiens causes some sort of global ecological wreckage, yet some of the species manage somehow to survive something like a sixth mass extinction event, what would keep those survivors from going down the very same path, from making essentially similar mistakes that have led us to such an unfortunate place? Without adequate scientific knowledge of why the human population suddenly exploded, how are our children and grandchildren to be spared the recurrence of the consequences of unbridled human population growth? Hence my question to all, with thanks for further consideration.

          • You’re right Steve, having a common narrative and explanation for how we ended up in this current predicament could help advance this conversation and drive us to create and put in place better solutions. I imagine there could be MANY explanations for “why” we’ve ended up where we are, evolutionary predisposition to enjoy comfort today over avoiding problems in 20 years, energy being easily (and cheaply) available as well as people being able to afford more (thus possibly reproducing more?) What is your understanding of how or why we’ve in this mess?

            For readers who are not familiar with his work, we highly suggest you read or watch Professor Nate Hagens’ work and his framing of the Super Organism. It does a great job of framing our current predicament and offering an explanation for how we got here.

          • Steven Earl Salmony

            Dear MAHB Admin, Perhaps we can agree to a desperate need for an adequate-enough “explanation for ‘why’ we’ve ended where are,” as you have so neatly framed our global predicament. Please note in the links above just a sampling of the best available ecological science on human population dynamics. A growing body of unfalsified research has been ubiquitously denied and consequently not widely shared much less consensually validated by population experts of science as well as those professionals with appropriate expertise in the fields of demography and economics. Uncontested science makes it possible for us to answer the question posed now, here. Perhaps a new biological understanding is emerging from ongoing research. It is simply this: as is the case with other species, human population numbers appear or not as a function of food availability; food is the independent, not the dependent, variable in the relationship between food and population numbers; and human population dynamics is essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species.

            The research to which I seek to draw attention provides straightforward empirical data of a non-recursive biological problem that is independent of economic, political, ethical, social, legal, religious, and cultural considerations. This means human population dynamics is like the population dynamics of other species. It also means that global human population growth is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop, a relationship between food and population in which food availability drives population growth, and population growth fuels the false perception, mistaken impression, the fatally flawed misconception that food production needs to be increased to meet the needs a growing population. The data indicate that as we increase food production every year, the number of people goes up, too.

            With every passing year, as food production is increased leading to a population increase, millions go hungry. Why are those hungry millions not getting fed year after year after year… and future generations of poor people may not ever be fed? Every year the human population grows. All segments of it grow. More people with blue eyes and more with brown ones. More tall people and more short ones. All segments of the population grows. Every year there are also more people growing up well fed and more people growing up hungry. The hungry segment of the global population goes up just like all the other segments of the population. We are unexpectedly increasing the number of hungry people in the course of feeding more people. We are not bringing hunger to an end by increasing food production.

            Of course there is more than one root cause for the cause of Nate Hagan’s Amoeba of earth. One of the most significant unintended consequences of this bacterial-like growth of a mammalian species is the onset of the Anthropocene Era when Homo sapiens sapiens (self-named to signify ‘the wisest of wise’ species) became the momentary rulers of the world we inhabit. The skyrocketing increase of the human population in our time on a planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth has caused a growing number of apparently unforeseen and exceedingly deleterious ecological occurrences. Among these potentially catastrophic, human-driven results is climate destabilization. What is fortunately becoming clearer to naked eyes, as we observe what is happening, is the manifold ways overproduction, overconsumption and overproduction activities of the human species are occurring synergistically and simultaneously threatening life as we know it, environmental health, and future human well-being. The spectacular increase of these distinctly human, overgrowth activities is causing the mass extirpation of earth’s biodiversity, the relentless dissipation of its limited natural resources, the unbridled degradation of its environs and the reckless threat to a good enough future for children everywhere.

            For a moment let us imagine that the human community writ large pulls itself together on a war footing to fight climate change and wins that battle by reducing carbon emissions of all kinds to net zero in 2020, while the tap-root cause of anthropogenic climate change continues to be denied. We may win a major Pyrrhic victory. That is certainly a good thing. And yet, if we do not accurately enough locate the foremost cause of the biological problem that is ailing humankind, the problem that is precipitating climate change, we could lose the prospects of a good enough future for children everywhere.

            We have run out of time for population experts to remain reticent. They have to assume their responsibilities by examining data and reporting findings regarding the question, “Why are human population numbers exploding?” The time has come to disclose all of what we know with regard to human population growth, according to the best available science and ‘lights’ we possess.

            Thanks to All for comments on this matter.