Overpopulation and the Collapse of Civilization

Overpopulation and the Collapse of Civilization

Home Forums MAHB Members Forum Overpopulation and the Collapse of Civilization

This topic contains 14 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Sina Hosseinifard Sina Hosseinifard 2 weeks, 1 day ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #6397
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

     Please use this space to discuss Paul Ehrlich’s MAHB Blog post Overpopulation and the Collapse of Civilization.  Click on the link below to read more.

     

    Overpopulation and the Collapse of Civilization

  • #6419
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Michael Dittmar:

    Hi,

    i think when talking about overshoot we need first of all
    to become real and realistic about our situation.

    The footprint concept is totally underestimating our problem
    as it ignores the important and dominating contribution
    from non renewable energy resources.
    Take oil out of the current system of food production and the
    result shows that we are not only using 1.5 earth today
    but 10 or even more.
    Thus.. unfortunately even your statement below is
    unrealistic and we need to go beyond this.

    “The degree of overpopulation is best indicated (conservatively) by ecological footprint analysis, which shows that to support today’s population sustainably at current patterns of consumption would require roughly another half a planet, and to do so at the U.S. level would take four to five more Earths.”

    -Michael Dittmar

  • #6421
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Lee:

    “Transparency is the Enemy of Empires”.

     

    -Lee

  • #6423

    The UK is currently experiencing its fastest rate of population growth for many years: this is almost universally seen as ‘a-good-thing’.Only recently a paper from University College London proclaimed the economic benefits brought by recent immigrants,averring that the costs to society were far less than commonly assumed,even though much of the electorate is extremely concerned about the continuing influx,but reluctant to express an opinion,for fear of being branded racist.
    There are moves to restrict access to safe and legal abortion and pregnancy is uber-fashionable:see the many sit-coms and ‘lifestyle’ mags which dwell on yummy mummies and heavily pregnant celebs, with no thought for the future,nor for the need to constrain human fertility.
    Inequality is rising,matching the rise in numbers and this bodes ill for a stable and viable future.
    Unemployment amongst the young is rife,and yet no coherent plans are in place to address their plight.
    More and more of our birds,insects,amphibians and reptiles are vanishing,along with many mammals: the are simply unable to withstand human pressure on available resources.
    The UK cannot feed itself from its own resources and must rely heavily on imported food and fuel.
    Much essential infrastructure is now in foreign hands and most of our public services have now been privatised : what would happen in an emergency? Would the shareholders’ interests take precedence over public safety and stability? Who is ultimately accountable?
    I foresee that the freedoms we currently take for granted will be severely constrained as governments attempt to police and control increasingly restive and discontented citizens:  overcrowding,increasing competition for resources and employment,social fragmentation and withdrawal of state support in times of need-the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich,will make for an increasingly unpredictable future.This might seem unthinkable to many who will continue to believe in a constant cornucopia for mankind.
    In the meantime,influential Greenies like Messrs Monbiot and Pearce continue to deny that population growth poses a threat and that technological wizardry matched by a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources will do the trick.
     

  • #6425
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Joseph Vincent Siry:

    I am struck by what eighty to ninety-five million more Americans would mean for the nation. Many novices will look at states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona to suggest we have plenty of room. They of course disregard the water needed for those people, their hygiene, electricity and nutrition. While it does not all come down to water, I am struck by how many people just think of do we have the space for fifty more Manhattans or thirty more San Diegos. New York already needs the Catskill Mountains for its watershed to provide sufficient water and California drains the Colorado River and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains. More people will mean the necessity for more forested mountains.

    If the nation switched to geothermal energy sources, more folks could migrate to the arid western states, but water would have to be re-used several times over since the west is in the worst drought in centuries. But water is only a piece of the problem. Certainly adding more people means changing our dietary habits. Currently many American children receive insufficient food calories on a daily basis. Do we propose to feed the additional population as we have our existing residents? That too takes water, but food also requires fossil fuels to grow, transport, refrigerate, package and get to our tables. Some studies show ten calories of energy are needed to put one calorie of food into your diet. Can we sustain that sort of deficit for another forty-five years? Still there are people who think we have enough space for ninety million more neglecting the area needed for transportation, energy, watershed, and disposal of our un-recycled wastes.

    Land fills the size of mountains exist in many American cities to collect and store our refuse. Some regions make parks, golf courses, and even school sites out of these mounds. Additional people will require that sort of creative re-use of structures, places and dumps. Some Americans may be able to live at the density of existence that Japanese families take for granted. But our consumption of acres for roads, public institutions, and homes will have to change radically if water, food, and electricity will be sufficient for even fifty million more people. Critics will say that the Dutch use greenhouses for growing food and decorative plants, they build walls to keep out the flooding sea, and they preserve their farmland, orchards and fields. But there are few American regions that match the density of the Netherlands or Japan, we do not even match those nation’s transportation systems, let alone copy their regulations for land-use and water conservation.

    When you hear people ignorantly suggest population growth is good remind them of what we need. Ask them are they prepared to live on the water use levels that Israel consumes where every new construction is required to have solar thermal installed? Ask if they are ready to set aside forests, fields, and sacred areas, as have the Japanese. And ask them if they will live as do the Dutch with very high levels of re-use of scarce materials and strict zoning for protecting agricultural and flood lands. I think you will find that–as we in America need a quarter of the world’s resources to sustain only four percent of the world’s population; and we borrow already more money than we produce to live as we do– we are not prepared to have forty, fifty, or sixty million more people in our already exhausted countryside.

    -Joseph Vincent Siry

  • #6427
    Profile photo of Sailesh Rao
    Sailesh Rao
    Member

    Facing a similar and seemingly intractable situation nearly 100 years ago, in 1918, Gandhi started the Khadi movement, in which the people of India voluntarily discarded their British milled clothes and wore locally hand-made cotton (Khaddar) clothes instead. This led to the bankruptcy of the Manchester mills within a dozen years and the Indian independence movement that this spawned is now legendary.
    For our situation, instead of changing what we wear, we need to change what we eat. Therefore, I contend that the Vegan movement is the Khadi movement of the 21st century. Consider the following two facts:
    1. Half the fruits and vegetables eaten in the US, along with 75% of the almonds eaten in the whole wide world are grown on just 3 million acres of land in the central valley of California.
    2. More than half the land in the continental United states, around 1 BILLION acres, is being used for livestock production.
    The contrast is stark. But we cannot expect the Vegan movement to be effective if even the top intellectuals in the environmental movement embrace Veganism half-heartedly. That would be like expecting the Khadi movement to be successful when Gandhi and his close circle continued to wear British ties, bowler hats and Saville row pants, while changing to Khaddar shirts reluctantly.

  • #6433
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Stella Joy:

    f the freshwater cycle is not protected and secured through legislative and conservation action major freshwater problems will be experienced within the rich developed countries as well as the poorer countries. Water and food scarcity will escalate, wars for water will increase and global poverty will rise alarmingly in relation to this. All human societies whether rich or poor along with nature, will undergo immense unnecessary suffering. Making water an Sustainable Development Goal and recognizing it as a global commons will make an enormous difference to the survival and evolution of life on Earth.

    The Human Right to Water supports the Right to Food, which protects the Right of all human beings to live in dignity, free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. The Human Right to Food is not about charity, but about ensuring that all people have the capacity to feed themselves in dignity. It is dependent upon there being adequate quantity, quality and supply of freshwater. To implement the right to clean drinking water and sanitation, government obligations include the protection and restoration of environments, which the hydrological cycle depends upon. This is essential for there being adequate freshwater to meet humanities need at an affordable price for all. This has been agreed upon as the central factor in achieving water security.

    “Ensuring that ecosystems are protected and conserved is central to achieving water security – both for people and for nature. Ecosystems are vital to sustaining the quantity and quality of water available within a watershed, on which both nature and people rely.

    Freshwater is an infinite renewable so long as the environmental factors it needs are available. Universal access to clean drinking water and sanitation is impossible to realize if the very freshwater cycle itself is compromised and unable to fulfill its natural renewable and recharge functions. Its stability has been compromised and could reach a tipping point if not dealt with as an urgent issue of national and international security.

    “Maintaining the integrity of ecosystems before they become compromised is an essential component of achieving water security and reducing the potential for conflicts. The continuous pace of human development is threatening the capacity of ecosystems to adapt, raising concerns that ecosystems will reach a tipping point after which they are no longer able to provide sustaining functions and services, and will become unable to recover their integrity and functions (Maas, 2012). Establishing sustainability boundaries will set the capacity of ecosystems before their limit is surpassed, acting as a preventative measure before crises and conflicts arise.” (U.N Analytical Brief 22/3/13)

    The quantity and quality and adequate supply of freshwater depend upon water sourcing ecosystems. These include mountains (the water towers of the world), mixed mountain forests, rain forests and wetlands. The protection, conservation and restoration of all ecosystems,which the global freshwater cycle is dependent upon, is central to achieving national and international water and food security security and hence all security.

    We suggest such action be taken seriously and immediately whilst there is still time to do so. The health of mountain regions will determine the survival of life and evolution on Earth. Mountain forests can only be restored while both soil and mountain communities to do the work remain there.

    Stella Joy

  • #6435
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Joseph Vincent Siry:

    I am struck by what eighty to ninety-five million more Americans would mean for the nation. Many novices will look at states like Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona to suggest we have plenty of room. They of course disregard the water needed for those people, their hygiene, electricity and nutrition. While it does not all come down to water, I am struck by how many people just think of do we have the space for fifty more Manhattans or thirty more San Diegos. New York already needs the Catskill Mountains for its watershed to provide sufficient water and California drains the Colorado River and parts of the Sierra Nevada mountains. More people will mean the necessity for more forested mountains.

    If the nation switched to geothermal energy sources, more folks could migrate to the arid western states, but water would have to be re-used several times over since the west is in the worst drought in centuries. But water is only a piece of the problem. Certainly adding more people means changing our dietary habits. Currently many American children receive insufficient food calories on a daily basis. Do we propose to feed the additional population as we have our existing residents? That too takes water, but food also requires fossil fuels to grow, transport, refrigerate, package and get to our tables. Some studies show ten calories of energy are needed to put one calorie of food into your diet. Can we sustain that sort of deficit for another forty-five years? Still there are people who think we have enough space for ninety million more neglecting the area needed for transportation, energy, watershed, and disposal of our un-recycled wastes.

    Land fills the size of mountains exist in many American cities to collect and store our refuse. Some regions make parks, golf courses, and even school sites out of these mounds. Additional people will require that sort of creative re-use of structures, places and dumps. Some Americans may be able to live at the density of existence that Japanese families take for granted. But our consumption of acres for roads, public institutions, and homes will have to change radically if water, food, and electricity will be sufficient for even fifty million more people. Critics will say that the Dutch use greenhouses for growing food and decorative plants, they build walls to keep out the flooding sea, and they preserve their farmland, orchards and fields. But there are few American regions that match the density of the Netherlands or Japan, we do not even match those nation’s transportation systems, let alone copy their regulations for land-use and water conservation.

    When you hear people ignorantly suggest population growth is good remind them of what we need. Ask them are they prepared to live on the water use levels that Israel consumes where every new construction is required to have solar thermal installed? Ask if they are ready to set aside forests, fields, and sacred areas, as have the Japanese. And ask them if they will live as do the Dutch with very high levels of re-use of scarce materials and strict zoning for protecting agricultural and flood lands. I think you will find that–as we in America need a quarter of the world’s resources to sustain only four percent of the world’s population; and we borrow already more money than we produce to live as we do– we are not prepared to have forty, fifty, or sixty million more people in our already exhausted countryside.

    -Joseph Vincent Siry

  • #6437
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Leilani Jones:

    I enjoyed reading this very much but I believe something that I never see mentioned. I believe that there is no problem that man has created, and science and technology fixed, that didn’t lead to the next big problem. This to me, is one of the main reasons we have come to this place in time. Man has polio. Science and technology finds a cure, thus leading to more people living and producing. Can anyone tell of one problem, man created and science fixed that didn’t lead to more problems acerbated by science and technology fixing it to begin with?

    -Leilani Jones

  • #6481
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    Karen Gaia says:

    One of the reasons for population taboo is that people are not confident enough in voluntary family planning. They are afraid of ‘population control.’ The old school felt it necessary to pressure people into ‘stopping at two’.

    What is lacking is enough knowledge of how many pregnancies are unintended. If these unintended pregnancies could be better addressed, such as more education on the benefits of contraception, combining reproductive health with family planning, more accessibility, affordable long-acting methods, and empowering women to use family planning (such as secondary education and being employed).

    To add to the problems with food production:

    A current satellite study show that we may be already at maximum plant production for the planet.

    Several countries large in population have overpumped aquifers and soon the water bubble will pop.

    More and more fisheries are being depleted and ocean acidification will reduce the bottom of the food chain, which will, in turn, reduce all higher forms of aquatic life.

    The soil and our water ways are being poisoned by excess nitrogen from artificial fertilizers.

    Soil is eroding far beyond it’s replenishment rate.

    -Karen Gaia

  • #6485
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Tamra Englehorn Raven:

    A new global metric for the Anthropocene for reflective human scale local urgent ecological restoration. http://youtu.be/QI0XTbT7hM0
    Mapping local scale photosynthesis and vegetation connectivity globally using rectangular volumetric of air:land:water http://youtu.be/-Bbh_gAs5pU
    Map #10km3x2 @tamraraven
    Map plants under UNCBD http://youtu.be/6rDIjXNTSkc
    Geocoded Spatial Transparent Metric is scale needed for verification of UN conventions/treaties e.g. TRANSBOUNDARY Air Pollution, Persistent Organic Pollutants, UNFCCC, UNCCD, UNCLOS, RAMSAR etc http://youtu.be/83daosgeAn8
    Half the global population of humans is under twenty five, this is signally new thinking. See SHIFT 10km3x2 http://youtu.be/kFOPGilwiB4

    -Tamra Engelhorn Raven

  • #6497

    I’ve just joined this Forum, but may I be so bold as to make a constructive suggestion? This is a frustrated and heartfelt plea for MAHB to become a signatory to this document : http://europeanpopulationalliance.org/documents/position_statement.pdf I feel I must stress that everything in Section 1 contains only irrefutable facts. The conclusion is inescapable, and the recommendations are perfectly logical and reasonable in the light of the foregoing. The only thing causing all our environmental woes on this planet is too many of us humans, and of those far too many are consuming far too much. More of us can only make matters  worse. If only every organisation behind running environmental forums,  every environmentally concerned think tank,  every environmentally concerned NGO and every “green” political party in the world, and maybe even some “green” inclined businesses  were to sign up in support  of a  Joint Position Statement on Population and the Environment,  such as this  – Perhaps it would then be seen, by the powers that be that run this world and by many more members of the public,  that we are “all singing from the same hymn sheet” – and loudly, in unison, and  in a powerful, clear, concise and unequivocal fashion? Then – we might actually really start to get  things done about the state of our planet; instead of just chiefly talking amongst ourselves and banging on our own particular drums about what needs to be done! If MAHB cannot  sign up to this,  please tell me why not ? What is wrong with it? And, If MAHB  can come up with a better “Joint Position Statement on the Environment”,  an “Accord” that every purportedly environmentally concerned or “green” body can be persuaded sign up to – please can it do so ASAP? In my view, an International Accord such as this is sorely needed. I do hope I can persuade MAHB to agree.

  • #6503
    Profile photo of
    Anonymous

    Much thanks to Dr. Ehrlich for this post. To expand upon one of his observations, suppose that we contemplate for a moment a universally-achievable set of the top  100 or so core population / environment principles, concepts, data sets, and understandings.
    As one example, envision a brief freely-downloadable set of five or six open-courseware PowerPoints and an equal number of brief “executive summary” PDFs that together might comprise a kind of “Biospheric Literacy and Sustainability 101.”
    What specific content might such universal “biospheric literacy” understandings include?  An initial set of answers can begin to be compiled by simply posing the following question: “What Should Every Citizen Know About Our Planet?”  (Notice how quickly core terms, data sets, and understandings immediately come to mind by simply asking the question.)
    In recent years we have given some considerable thought to the above ideas and have made our own results available as open-courseware resources that are entirely free for use by scientists, students, and educators anywhere in the world.  One of these is a new set of six PowerPoints appropriate for a brief one-or-two week unit for first-year undergraduates -of every major – and even for schools in general which set is accessible at  http://www.scribd.com/collections/3705681/Biospherics-Literacy-101-Five-PowerPoints-Five-Days .  (The very first of these PowerPoints actually addresses Population, Carrying Capacity and Limiting Factors in Natural Systems” and is accessible at http://www.scribd.com/doc/118659074/Population-Carrying-Capacity-and-Limiting-Factors-ppt-version .)
    As a second set, envision a “Priority Population Collection of Executive-summary PDFs for Academia and Policymakers” which also includes six or seven brief and easily-digestible summaries.  These latter resources are also freely-downloadable and are accessible at http://www.scribd.com/collections/3655003/Population-for-Academia-and-Policymakers .
    Notice that the above resources can also be used as an overview of core population / environment ideas, data sets, and understandings which can be covered and assimilated in easy one-day workshops for non-scientists, policymakers, and decision-makers.

  • #6541
    Profile photo of Erika Gavenus
    Erika Gavenus
    Keymaster

    On behalf of Randolph Femmer:

    Much thanks to Dr. Ehrlich for this post. To expand upon one of his observations, suppose that we contemplate for a moment a universally-achievable set of the top 100 or so core population / environment principles, concepts, data sets, and understandings.

    As one example, envision a brief freely-downloadable set or two of five or six open-courseware PowerPoints and an equal number of brief “executive summary” PDFs that together might comprise a kind of “Biospheric Literacy and Sustainability 101.”

    What specific content might such universal “biospheric literacy” understandings include? An initial set of answers can begin to be compiled by simply posing the following question: “What Should Every Citizen Know About Our Planet?” (Notice how quickly core terms, data sets, and understandings immediately come to mind by simply asking the question.)

    In recent years we have given some considerable thought to the above ideas and have made our own results available as open-courseware resources that are entirely free for use by scientists, students, and educators anywhere in the world. One of these is a new set of six PowerPoints appropriate for a brief one-or-two week unit for first-year undergraduates (of every major) and even for schools in general which set is accessible athttp://www.scribd.com/collections/3705681/Biospherics-Literacy-101-Five-PowerPoints-Five-Days . (The very first of these PowerPoints actually addresses Population, Carrying capacity and Limiting factors in Natural Systems” and is accessible at http://www.scribd.com/doc/118659074/Population-Carrying-Capacity-and-Limiting-Factors-ppt-version .)

    As a second set, envision a “Priority population collection of executive summary PDFs for Academia and Policymakers” which also includes six or seven brief and easily-digestible summaries. These latter resources are also freely-downloadable and are accessible at http://www.scribd.com/collections/3655003/Population-for-Academia-and-Policymakers .

    Notice that for non-scientists, policymakers, and decision-makers, an essential collection of core population / environment ideas, data sets, and understandings can be introduced and easily assimilated in, for example, a one-day workshop.

    -Randolph Femmer

  • #27641
    Profile photo of Sina Hosseinifard
    Sina Hosseinifard
    Participant

    I think by using new technologies we should solve the very new social and public problems.
    I am myself an environment engineer and there are lots of problems such as global warming as a result of air pollution and population, which are very important to me. Therefore I have thought of build several technology based companies to decrease the amount of excessive transportation and air pollution in my city Tehran. You can visit my website FastMeata and give my your ideas about solving civilization problems.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.