Yes, the Earth is overpopulated we are overpopulated by normal definitions because the current population is clearly greater than carrying capacity. However, as is repeated over and over, we can increase the carrying capacity of the Earth. Sustainable living…. stop with fossil fuels etc… What most saying such things (David Attenborough aside), is that all these steps increase to carrying capacity by lowering impact per person, will achieve nothing if the population keeps growing.
- Things are not as bad as it may seem.
- A “Purge” is not needed, and would not help!
- The Battle: the evil forces.
- The solution.
Things are not as bad as it may seem.
Fortunately, birth rates are already at a level that would produce population stability, and just a slight nudge courtesy of the correct messages, will reach peak population.
Here is why population control is within humanities grasp:
- Current population growth is almost entirely due to population lag.
- Birth rates have already reached a point of stability and are on a downward trend.
A “Purge” is not needed, and would not help!
From time to time people float the idea that as there are too many people, some form of ‘cull’ is required. This very approach fails to recognise that overpopulation is about a ratio: the ratio of people to carrying capacity. Almost any form of cull creates a catastrophe that reduces the carrying capacity of the Earth even more than it reduces the population.
Overpopulation occurs when the environment cannot sustainably support the population. The environment supports the population, just not sustainably. If the environment did not support the population in the short term, then population drops immediately, rather than remaining too high until the environment eventually collapses.
It is important to remember that mankind already does many things to increase carrying capacity of the planet. If society collapses, all those steps to increase carrying capacity break down. An catastrophic event that reduces the population, would also see society break down. We could have a planet with 1/10 the population that is still overpopulated because, for example, farming fails and the remaining people have to hunt and destroy natural fauna to survive.
The Battle: Combating Population Growth Provocateurs.
There is however a battle to control population, with “provocateurs” advocating for maximum population growth. The path to wealth is accumulate some wealth from as many individuals as possible. The wealthiest individuals do not need to concern themselves with overpopulation, as they will always have all the land and resources they need, which means they have no reason for population control to matter to them. On the contrary, it is in the financial interest of the most for population to keep increasing, as their wealth accumulates from as many individuals as possible. Even if population growth is lowering the living standard of the average individual, having more individuals to ‘tax’ or earn profits from still appeals to the most wealthy and powerful. The most wealthy would continue create propaganda claiming ‘perpetual growth is the only path to prosperity’ even if there were 100 billion people on the planet.
Whilst scaling back population can benefit individuals on average, it does not necessarily benefit the largest global businesses and their managers or owners. Nor does it benefit from politicians who see their importance increasing with population and their donations increasing with donations from the most wealth who benefit from population growth.
Another force for ever increasing population is the ‘othering’. The claim that “we” must increase our population or we will be out numbered by “others’.
Overpopulation is about a ratio of two numbers, not a single number. The equation is the quotient of population/carrying-capacity, and if that ration is greater than 1 there is overpopulation.
The fact that the environment is under threat is extremely well recognised. Aside from David Attenborough, surprisingly few people join the dots between the deteriorating environment and overpopulation. However, it is very important those dots are joined, as efforts to lower the ‘footprint’ per person will mean nothing if population is not also controlled.
So the solution is in two parts:
- Increase the planets ‘carrying capacity’ of humans by lowering the per ‘footprint’ per person.
- Stop population growth.
Step 1 is urgent, and getting a lot of attention.
Step 2 is important, and getting very little attention. Despite that low level of attention, only the mildest push lower in birth-rates is required to produce an optimal solution. It just needs pushing the message that the ideal is not aim for 2, not more. If the people feeling it is their duty to have more kids realised this was not true, it could be enough.