|The straw man used to “debunk” people who count
The business-as-usual people like to portray anyone who raises concerns about the exponential growth of the world population, given our finite habitat, as a misanthropic pessimist who doesn’t believe in progress. These people – whatever their motives are, I find it hard to believe they aren’t bought by corporations – won’t get tired of pointing out that the “overpopulation movement” allegedly started with a certain Mr. Malthus, who in late 18th century England claimed that workers bred quicker than they would be able to increase productivity, thus creating an unsustainable population growth. Malthus was elitist; his modern-day “counterparts” who aren’t shouting Hallelujah at the 7. billionth human but raise concerns instead, are called racists or “anti-progress”.
I don’t think the discussion is trivial. Smart people have argued on both sides. We should ring the alarm bells, says one side, because we are dangerously approaching and overshooting carrying-capacity of the planet. Nay, say the others, the more the merrier, and worldwide production has actually increased more than population growth over the past few decades.
I am of course extremely biased. Production almost always means irreparable destruction of nature (don’t say “resources”; if anything WE are resources for nature regulating herself). I don’t think we (let alone the planet) would be better of when there are more of us around. And I think it’s extremely dangerous to keep betting on all these fantastic inventions (3D-printing, artificial meat, nanotechnology, strong AI, nuclear fusion) to come to the rescue.
On a side note, I’m not anti-technology. I think many of these techniques are very fascinating and should be developed. But we should not rely on inventions in the future that we merely predict. That is not good survival strategy for individuals, nor is it for a species.
First fossil fuels will become very expensive (and a few perverts very rich), then they will simply be no longer available. And we rely on this stuff for our very food. Industrial agriculture is a one-way street, and we all know where it leads to. But I don’t need to repeat that here.
This is not about the numbers. You and I have seen the numbers. And otherwise, they are just a few mouse clicks away. What is important is how we interpret the numbers.
What do we want?
A boom-and-bust with real people of flesh and blood, like the way we frantically keep inflating and popping economic bubbles? That is so disgusting and inhumane, let alone that would also decimate the natural habitat of almost every species we know, and every species we never got a chance to know because we destroyed them before we discovered them. All because we can have a few more decades of “prosperity”, a few more decades of smiling artificial families in sterile apartment blocks stringed together to megacities that suck the lifeblood out of the environment.
Is that what YOU want?
I am impatient with people claiming that we shouldn’t actively check population growth. I challenge them to look anyone straight in the eye and say they are not religious fanatics, that they have thoroughly studied the situation, and conclude that human population growth is possible and desirable. Their opportunism, taking as advice by an Indian or Chinese (rural or urban) family, is potentially murderous.
Because their children’s children might live in a barren world with soil erosion, draught and starvation caused by the current levels of extraction and consumption. And anyone honestly willing to prevent that (for the sake of humans and other wondrous species) is demonized as an enemy of progress.
Fuck. We have MODELS for this. We can model the rise and decline of rabbits in Australia, so we can also model the rise and decline of human population. Humans: the only species who has it in his might to avoid becoming a plague (leading to their own inevitable self-destruction). But they are screwing it up.
What the heck! Earth has space for a lot more humans. Let’s take the number of square feet of land on earth as an upper limit: 5,490,383,247,360,000 people could stand on this planet. This means (if we have all the technology, except the technology to shrink ourselves, that human population could increase millionfold. If we could shrink ourselves using advanced generational picotechnology, we could perhaps grow population even more! Humans would of course need to be kept in cages like in the Matrix trilogy and essentially converted into energy sources.
Drill, baby, drill.
Screw, baby, screw.
Let’s bequeath the next generation what we so humbly deny for ourselves: Insurmountable problems that lead to certain death when unsolved. Let’s continue screwing each other, the planet, and the next generation.