What happened to the population bomb?

I see Singapore is now trying to encourage having children due to lack of population growth.

And I haven’t heard of any hairpulling lately from China and India about this.

In Africa, the problem seems to be AIDS, and not talk of overpopulation.

Did the topic go away?

The TOPIC may have gone away in terms of public conciousness. Unfortunately the PROBLEM decidedly has not. Also unfortunately, stable or shrinking population growth may work to a group’s detriment in terms of immediate political concerns, and the idea that we may be in deep shit in the future if population growth isn’t checked tends to migrate to the back burner.


Well, overpopulation is no longer a big concern, because population growth ** has ** been checked. As countries develop, the people within them tend to chose to have fewer children. Most of the developed world already has there birthrates below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman - in the US is is about 2.07 children per woman, while some countries like Italy, it has dropped to as low as 1.26 children per woman. China has also gotten its birthrate below replacement level, (down to 1.7 children per woman) though they have taken more drastic measure than any other country to do so. All of these statements are from http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ .

The total world population is expected to peak at around 9 billion in 2050 or so, with a gradual decline occuring afterwards.

The Population Bomb was ridiculous hysteria promoted by Paul Ehrlich and swallowed by sensation hungry entertainment/news media. It was known to be hype even at the time it was first published, as evidenced in the contemporary works of economists such as Simon. It was based on ridiculously simplified assumptions and impossible extrapolation. Essentialy Ehrlich took the current productivity and population levels of the 60s and extrapolated them directly into the 80s. He never once considered the massive improvements in productivity underway even then, much less contemplating new technologies. The Population Bomb was based on a human animal with constant growth but no capacity for adpatation or improvement.

No, it didn’t go away, it simply never existed in any meaningful sense except in the minds of Ehrlich and others. File it together with predictions of the world ending with Hale-Bop as just another failed doomsday prediction.

Blake, I am amazed that you can say that overpopulation “never existed in any meaningful sense.” Habitat destruction, extinction of species, huge losses of ocean life due to over-fishing all continue at an alarming rate and the havoc wreaked is evident all over the world. Certainly it is a more complicated issue than just population (urban migration, developed countries using more resources than poor countries do as a general rule, and govts/large corporations being guilty of some of the hunger/pollution problems, war and unrest don’t help, etc).

Providing antibiotics, clean water and hygienic practices - which save many of the children who used to die - while some societies still promote large families (or access to contraception is limited) can only lead to humans destroying the environment around them for food and survival.

Ipersonally think it would be preferable and more humane for humans to voluntarily control their childbearing rather than to allow diseases, desertification, hunger and war/genocide to control our population for us.

I’d be astounded if you could quote for us where I said that.

Any vidence for this? The evidence tells us exactly the opposite is true. Proving those things results in smaller family sizes, lower resource utilisation and greater environmental awareness.

Then you must be very happy that that is exactly what is happening. For the first time in history for humans are able to voluntarily control their childbearing rather than to allow diseases, desertification, hunger and war/genocide and infanticide to control their population for them.

You’re going to need to provide a cite for this. Smaller families may be the norm in most Western cultures now, but who says that’s got anything whatsoever to do with those things? As for using fewer resources as a result–bull. The healthcare system and pharmaceutical industry use huge quantities of resources to keep going. Clearly the population IS rising globally, and each extra mouth means consumption of more resources. Arguing that overpopulation isn’t a real problem is just plain silly. It may not become a problem as soon as the doomsayers predict, but it will eventually.

Ugh, that is the worst semilog plot I’ve ever seen. What’s up with that bend at the Middle Paleolithic? They’re claiming that the global population remained between 1 million and 1.1 million for almost 2 million years.

Overpopulation is still a very big problem, especially in less developed countries.

World population is currently growing at a rate of 1.2 per cent annually, which is an extra 77 million people per year.

From this United Nations Population Division report (PDF!!).

Despite decreases in fertility, world population is still rising very quickly.

Perhaps the media have been distracted by other events of late.

This is not the case in the areas that need to control fertility.

Contraception use in African countries is still very low compared to the developed world.

Yes, but their high AIDS rates level things off. :frowning:

Still, from the link provided by antechinus world population will probably peak at ~9 billion in 2050. Thats a lot of people, but managable - certainly not as bad as the distopian novels of years past suggested about overpopulation.

To which the solution is to encourage the development of those countries. This is where the medicine and hygeine comes in.

And it’s misleading to cite “2.1 children per woman” as “replacement level”, since the replacement level number of children per woman will depend on a variety of other societal and medical factors. A more meaningful figure would be children per female: The replacement level in that case is exactly 2.

Have you been keeping up with this thread? Smaller families are not just the norm in most Western cultures now, they are the norm in almost all cultures now. Relatively few cultures or nations have increasing or even stable family sizes. That is why global population is stabilising. Not just Western population, but global population. Do you really want me to provide yet another cite that world population growth is slowing, since you apparently haven’t read any of the others presented so far showing a decrease in global population growth? Or perhaps you believe that population growth can be decreasing globally despite static or increasing family sizes, in which case you will need to present your argument in order for me o dispute it.

In short QED I don’t understand what you are actually saying here. You seem to be either disputing that global population growth is slowing and will cease within 80 years, or else you believe that population growth can slow despite static or increasing family sizes. Neither position seems particularly sensible.

You seem to be a little confused between rising population and rising growth rates. Second derivative and all that.

Then isn’t it a good thing no one has done that in this thread?

Yes it is. It is true of the world at large. I am sure there are areas where fertility control is not being practiced, but how can you argue that either it is not being practiced in India and China, or that those areas do not need to control fertility. In fact how do you decide what areas need to practice fertility control? Do you believe that Australia, Western Europe and North America are underpopulated and thus do not need ti practice fertility control any more? What do you suppose would be the impact of total lack of fertility control on the USA? Given those impacts how can you argue that fertility control is no longer needed in the US?

Precisely. It is well established that a rise in standard of fliving correlates with a fall in birth rate. It is also well established that one of the two main indictors of SOL in this respect is infant life expectancy. Increased hygeine, medicine etc = lower infant mrotality = lower birth rate.

Since this is GQ I am going to have to ask for a cite for this. When will it become a problem as the population bomb predicted? What sort of a problem? If population begins falling within 80 years then when will it become a problem that it isn’t now? Why? Based on what?

Overpopulation presents problems right now, but not anywhere near the population bomb levels of having to abandon Los Angeles as Ehrlich predicted. More importantly population is stabilising, not due to increased death rates as the population bomb predicted but due to voluntarily declining fertility. When will it become the serious problem the population bomb scenario predicted and why? When will we need to abandon LA? Ehrlich predicted it should have happened 20 years ago.

The population bomb also predicted millions would die of famine in North America during the 70s. Well it’s at least 25 years overdue, when will that problem arise?

Globally the population bomb scenario predicted that “By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth’s population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people” Well it’s going to be at least 20 years out. When is this going to occur QED and why?

The population bomb scenario also gave even money that the UK would cease to exist at all by 2000. When will that happen?

Can we have a reference?

Did I say it was going to be a doomsday scenario like The Population Bomb? No. I don’t know when it will happen, but I do know that at current population growth rates, there will eventually come a point where the resources on Earth cannot support us. Please don’t put words in my mouth.

See Figure 1, page 16 of this document for a good illustration of dropping global population rate. However, I would say you should wait a few more years before you say that the less-developed-nations population rate is dropping; it’s about level for right now.

Of course, it should be noted that a function can easily have a negative second derivative and still increase without bound. That’s not the case with the world population function, though.

Then what is the relevance of it in this thread? I just assumed that you were staying on topic. My apolgies if I failed to understand ypou were just hijacking the thread.

Cite. How do you know that? When will it hapen? Population growth will cease altogether within 80 years, and will thence fall. that is the current population growth rate. Why will there eventually come a point where the resources on Earth cannot support us? What resource will be limiting? Why will it be limiting?

Or do you “just know” this will happen the way that some people “just know” that one day the rapture will lift them up to heaven?

And since you called bullshit earlier can you answer my other questions so we can settle the issue, or else withdraw the comment?

Has anyone actually said that? What has been said is that the rate of population growth is dropping in less develop nations, not population itself. Given that not so long ago the population growth rate was such that population doubled every generation clearly a stable population is a decrease in growth rates.

And obviously this can not be achieved if family sizes are not decreasing as QED seems to believe.

No… sorry if I gave the impression that someone has. I guess I can see where you would have gotten that from my post, but I didn’t mean it like that. I wasn’t disagreeing with anyone, least of all you.