over population - the dilemma's

I can’t remember where, but I read somewhere once that without depleting the earth’s natural resources, it can only actually sustain 1.4 billion people.
Granted, there are enough resources to go around for 6 billion, but we’d be depleting the, and then someday, we won’t have enough.
Now, I’m not saying we should try and get the population down again, but I think we should at least try and keep it at it’s current level.
How should we go about that, do you think? Should we impose a worlwide 1 child policy? How would you implement that? Are there other ways of doing it? If yes, which ones? Which ones are the fairest? Which ones will work?
Let’s suppose that we won’t be able to colonize any stars or other plants any time soon, and we need to find a solution and implementation for that solution within 100 years.
Should everyone be allowed to have the amount of kids they want? Why is that? Why do you need to prove you’re a good parent if you want to adopt, and why do you not need to do that if you can have kids of your own? Isn’t that unfair?
Your opinions, please…
thanks

Wouldn’t even 100 people be depleting the earth’s resources if they were using non-renewables?

Total population will level off at 9 billion or so around 2050, according to UN population growth projections. This is due increased development is highly corrallated with people choosing to reduce their birthrates on their own. In much of Europe and Japan, the birthrate is already well below replacement rate, for example, in Italy the typical woman only has 1.2 kids, while the US is just below the replacement level of 2.1 kids per woman. No need for harsh population controls here. Now, do you have a cite that the earth can only sustain 1.4 billion people? At what level are these people being sustained at? I tend to be skeptical of those who say our resources are running out; I know back in the 1970’s there were plenty of doomsayers who claimed we would be fighting over food, raw materials would be more expensive, no more oil would be left, ect… by now. Which of course didn’t happen. Now, colonizing other planets is unlikely to make a dent in the world population, even if we could do it. However, we could mine asteroids, or get He3 from the moon for energy, which would largely allievate resourse shortages on earth. As for food, we can already grow more than enough to feed the world right now, it is just distribution problems and dictators controlling the local food supply, that keep people hungary. Improved crops, from genetic engineering, as well as bringing modern farming techinques to underutilized agricultural areas will make this even less than a problem.

You are right to discount extraterrestrial solutions - no method of getting people of the planet would be quick enough to compare with birth and death rates
Resources are not often lost, however, they just go from being useful to being not useful; even oil turns to carbon dioxide which can be turned back to fuel via photosynthesis. The resources can nearly all be reclaimed by the correct use of energy…

Energy in total oil reserves 179x10^20joules
energy in total coal reserves 1952x10^20joules
energy incident on earth’s surface per year 54,385x10^20joules

you could support a lot more people than 1.4 billion on those figures

These “Malthusian” scenarios are victims of what is called “static analisys”. They don’t take into account scientific discoveries that no one has any idea about now.

The problem of “overpopulation” has a simple solution. Gender equality in the third world. If your main goal is to reduce population growth, go to the third world and set up schools for girls. You don’t have to indoctrinate them not to have kids, it wouldn’t work anyway. No, just teach them to read and write, do math, history, science, literature, law. Impoverished and illiterate women can’t control their fertillity. Educated and wealthy women can.

mmm, Lemur, culture plays a big, big part.
Not just education.
In fact, during Victorian times, African women used to pity English women, because they used to pop out kids like candy, while a lot of African tribes had the habit, the culture, of housing women in the same houde, and men in another. When a woman was pregnant, she’d move into the “womens house”, until her infant was selfsufficient. Usually at the age of threee, or later. During this period, the owmn would stay wih the other women, and not even share a bed with her husband. She would often not even object to her husband taking another wife, as it would take his sexual focus away from her.
African women in those days had 3 to 4 kids in their lifetime, compared to an average of 10 with western women.
So your theory doesn’t really wash, here
:wink:
sorry!

mmm, Lemur, culture plays a big, big part.
Not just education.
In fact, during Victorian times, African women used to pity English women, because they used to pop out kids like candy, while a lot of African tribes had the habit, the culture, of housing women in the same houde, and men in another. When a woman was pregnant, she’d move into the “womens house”, until her infant was selfsufficient. Usually at the age of three, or later. During this period, the woman would stay wih the other women, and not even share a bed with her husband. She would often not even object to her husband taking another wife, as it would take his sexual focus away from her.
African women in those days had 3 to 4 kids in their lifetime, compared to an average of 10 with western women.
So your theory doesn’t really wash, here
:wink:
sorry!

Education/culture is indeed very key.

The average number of children per family has been decreasing steadily for developped nations. The point being that with increased education and living standards, people realize that having children is not a necessity and in fact, potentially counter-productive.

“African women” covers a pretty huge spectrum. Africa is hardly a monolithic culture. It is so culturally diverse, in fact, that the phrase “African women” has no meaning beyond naming the continent they were born on.

ok, I’ll specify:
since I was comparing African women with Victorian ones, it makes sense that i got this informnation from an Englsih source.
So: narrow African women to “African women who were living in parts of Africa that used to be English colonies”.

hope this makes it a bit less general

But England colonized large sections of Africa… which section did this occur? Do you have a cite for this?

Elfje,

Based on my undergraduate ecology course, population will be naturally controlled as it grows in three ways: resource depletion, increased easy of predation, and disease.

Disease (viruses, bacteria, amoebas, etc) will take care of all the overpopulation concerns you could ever have. This will happen in two key ways: as the density increases, there is more direct contact between people, diseases can spread faster and therefore kill more (anyone ride the subway this morning). Secondly, increased density and its burden on resources tends to cause malnutrition, will helps produce and spread disease. (Thirdly, humans lack predation other than ourselves, perhaps war is the answer?)

I read a sick article a few years ago (possibly in Scientific America) that said the fastest way to curb population growth would be to build better transportation in India (one of the few countries that still have the plague http://www.wri.org/wri/wr-96-97/uh_b3.html). Imagine someone at JFK International (New York) with the plague. How many people would he/she come into direct contact with? Of those that he/she infected, where will they go, and how many people will they come into contact with?

emacknight: The problem with that analysis is, human beings aren’t yeast. Human population can stop growing for a very simple reason: Because human beings want to have fewer babies.

And in fact, this is what’s happen. The drop in birthrates in Bangladesh from 7 children per woman to around 3 didn’t happen because they got richer - it didn’t happen because the culture changed. It happened because the people in Bangladesh learned about birth control, and it was made available to them.

Because human beings have the ability to reason and sort out cause and effect, they will voluntarily limit their populations when it suits them.

Cultural factors are important when they are directly related to birth control. Catholics still tend to have larger families. As do Muslims. The birthrate in the Muslim world is, I believe, the highest of any other cultural group, and by a wide margin.

How about conservation and recycling?

One of the reasons why Western Europeans went on to conquer the world (i said ONE of the reasons) is because that particular population had been culled and shaped and strengthened by the many many diseases that riddled them. TBC, plague, syphillis, Cholera, you name we had and the strong survived. It would mean a bit of respite in the short term, but in the long run, it would only help to make humans more resistant to disease.

And predation, our only natural enemy is ourselves. Like Einstein once replied when he was asked which weapons he thought would be used to fight WWIII: “I don’t know about WWIII, but WWIV will be fought with clubs and stones”.
Scary?
also true. But that wasn’t my question, I said I didn’t necessarily want to bring the population down, and I don’t think it’ll go natural. War woul kill men, mostly. which means that women get a bit of a breather, a episode of peace would ensue, until there were enough men again to wage a war. That’s no solution, however, that’s history repeating itself.
Humanity is supposed to get more intelligent, if we keep on repeating the same mistakes, where’s our progress?

sorry, these parts were my replies:

mmm, and science and medicine keep on treating these diseases, and
legthening our lifespan. Which lead to over population
gentically modified plants and crops will take care of that. The US is already using them, it means more crops can be grown without having to use more arable land. There have never been more people on the face of this earth, and still it keeps growing. Human beings are the only species that changes the environment to suit us, I doubt very much nature will be the end of us.

they got mxed up with the original quote.
sorry

www.popinfo.org/issues

site with info re this.
I said Iin my initial post i could not remember where i got those figures, so don’t ask me for sites where you can find those figures.
Above link is very interesting though.
The weakness in all this, is that it banks on humans taking responsability for their actions.
Now people on this site may be like that, but honestly, how many people do you know that do?

The problem with conservation and recycling and other efficiencies in consumption, is that these efficiencies lead to greater consumption in other areas. The rebound effect.

eg cheaper air travel leading to more flights and thus more fuel consumption.
There will be a natural halt to human population growth - unfortunately we will take many other species with us in the process.

Sam,

Human wants?

It has been my experience with procreators that “world population growth” factors little into their child rearing decisions. However, I lack a valid re reference for this, so I’ll switch focus.

According to the World Bank [http://www.worldbank.org/ourdream/india_2.htm] it took nearly 30 years to get birthrates in Bangladesh to drop from 6 to 3. During that time you were a victim of your own success since education improved nutrition and caused(?) life expectancy at birth to rise from 50 to 63 years. The population growth rate is still over 1.5%.