Thursday 1 August 2013

The Overpopulation Myth

"What most frequently meets our view (and occasions complaint) is our teeming population. Our numbers are burdensome to the world, which can hardly support us... In very deed, pestilence, and famine, and wars, and earthquakes have to be regarded as a remedy for nations, as the means of pruning the luxuriance of the human race." 
Tertullian, 2nd Century CE, when the world population was approximately 190 million.

"A cancer is an uncontrolled multiplication of cells; the population explosion is an uncontrolled multiplication of people.  We must shift our efforts from the treatment of the symptoms to the cutting out of the cancer. The operation will demand many apparently brutal and heartless decisions.''

Prof Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb. 

I missed some of the question and answer section of Ian Crane's talk on the Island last week, I was out of the room organising a projector for the following day. One part I did catch was an exchange on the overpopulation crisis, or non-crisis as Ian would have it.

The idea that the world is overpopulated, that some sort of population crisis exists is I think casually accepted by most people. Furthermore, I think the idea that this will lead to a future crisis is generally accepted also. I know I had this concept in my mind for many years, without ever really looking into it. Various members of the audience seemed to feel this way, with Ian claiming the opposite, that overpopulation is a myth and nothing to be worried about at all.

I have to say I now agree with Ian on this one, fortunately too as the typically proposed solutions to overpopulation are so draconian and inhumane they don't bear thinking about. My unquestioned concerns regarding overpopulation didn't stand much scrutiny once it was applied. The rate of population growth is slowing, it's predicted to peak in twenty five years and go into decline after that. In much of the developed world the birth rate is already too low to sustain the existing population. It also seems to me that it's mathematically flawed to suggest that people who produce more than two or three children are acting irresponsibly, (I think even the Beckham's were accused of this after the birth of their last child). It is of course only the average birth rate in a society that counts and if it wasn't for some people having lots of children, the population would fall off a cliff due to many others not having enough. It just seems to be a really happy thing that in industrialised societies the population becomes very stable, so there's no need for an orchestrated mass kill off every so often!

Here's James Corbett to explain things some more, his video is called 'The Last Word on Overpopulation', but if anyone wants to dispute it I'd be happy to hear.

Here's a link to a site called 'Overpopulation is a Myth'. It has a series of short and entertaining videos examining various aspects of the population question.

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