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 What should be done about overpopulation (if anything)? (26)

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Muaguana(154) pic

What should be done about overpopulation (if anything)?

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5 points

Here's some information on overpopulation for anyone who's interested:

The current human population is roughly 6.67 billion people worldwide (according to the U.S. Census Bureau). Resource depletion increases along with the population. The energy crisis is easily explainable using Harvard professor John Holdren's formula for finding energy consumption: E = P x e (where E = total energy use, P = population, e = energy use per capita). As societies become more developed, population growth increases as technology advances - and energy consumption increases as well. For example, in terms of oil use, adding one person to the US is akin to adding 15 in China.

Energy is only the tip of the iceberg, however. Productive land is also shrinking, as deserts are spreading due to overstocking grasslands and over plowing land. In China, 1,400 square miles of (at least partially) fertile land were lost to desert annually by 2000. Rising sea levels due to burning fossil fuels also shrinks available land - this century seas may rise 4 to 35 inches, however with the explosion in fossil fuel burning the number could be far greater. The Greenland ice sheet is thawing, and if it were to melt it would raise sea levels by 23 feet (7 meters). To put this in perspective, a one meter rise would destroy cropland in many of the deltas and flood-plains of Thailand, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and China. 7 meters would displace cities worldwide.

The population is growing at an alarming rate - in the US, another person is born every 11 seconds. This is significant because the average American consumes 20 times as much in natural resources as the average African, and consumes as much oil as 15 Chinese. The US has only 5% of the world's population yet accounts for almost a quarter of global emissions. Now imagine if China catches up in terms of technology and natural resource use. If every nation consumed as much resources as the US, the world could only support 1.8 billion people (roughly the population in 1915).

Dr. Eric Pianka has done several seminars regarding overpopulation and the dangers of it; quite often conspiracy theorists claimed he advocated mass killings to reduce the population to further a "new world over". Even though he never made such a proposition - he was attacked by those who don't want to face the facts.

Here's a link to his site with a video on overpopulation (if you don't have 25 minutes to spare to see the whole thing, there's a shorter one that gets the basic idea across):

What can be done to somehow moderate this population explosion? Or, more specifically, what peaceful actions can we take? What nonviolent policies will be effective in controlling population growth? Or is this too taboo of a subject to discuss, and you would rather ignore the issue? Some animals regulate their fertility if food becomes scarce - why can't we do the same?

I have some ideas of my own but I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on the subject.

Loudacris(912) Disputed
1 point

Wow, that is a powerful set of facts. However, I think it will be impossible to curtail the population growth of the world until it gets to the point where overpopulation begins to have a negative economic impact.

Let's break that down:

Today when a new child is born he has a positive marginal value because that child will eventually contribute labor that will create value (that will go into somebody's pocket).

The world will be ready to tackle overpopulation when the marginal value of a new child becomes negative (that labor/value that the child will create does not offset the depletion of natural resources that he/she will consume).

The real question then becomes: how do we measure the depletion of resources? This question is very tough to answer. My guess is that more sophisticated attempts to calculate this question will be undertaken when it becomes clear that the end is near.

I only hope that it won't be too late!

1 point

There are two groups of people : One group readily acknowledges and understands over population. The other group is in denial.

One merely has to contemplate the concept of carrying capacity. Your automobile can carry only so many occupants. A given house can only sleep (carry) so many persons. One sandwich can only feed (carry) so many people. Now, we can argue about expanding or increasing or otherwise manipulating any of these systems (automobile, house, sandwich) by jamming a few more passengers into the automobile or a few more people into the house or cutting the sandwich into smaller and smaller pieces. But, here's the acid test: if anyone argues for workarounds, future solutions or any other excuse to increase these or any system, then they are of the second group and in denial.

An idea for helping to reduce the population peacefully would be to offer tax incentives or even monetary rewards for not having children. The more children they produce, the more they pay in taxes. Pay men to have vasectomies. Free birth control to men and women. Incentivise preventative birth control.


2 points

Population growth is a major concern for the human race in the long term; however, it may not be as bad as some think. While 1 person being born every 11 seconds in the US sounds alarming, it is very close to the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. Many 1st world countries like Japan and the UK have birth rates below the replacement level - meaning that their populations are actually shrinking. There seems to be an inverse correlation between high economic and social development and birth rates. Therefore, it seems to me that leveling off world population growth requires bringing the 3rd and 2nd world countries to the same socio-economic status as 1st world countries are now.

Muaguana(154) Disputed
3 points

It may level off the world population growth, but did you read the part in my comment about how if everyone in the world consumed as much as the average American, the earth could only sustain a

population of 1.8 billion people (and even if everyone didn't, they still would consume a far greater amount of natural resources than they would have in a 3rd or 2nd world country)? If we had infinite resources and land, this would be no problem and I would agree with you. However, a huge detrimental factor of population growth is resource depletion, and bringing all countries to 1st world status would cause an unprecedented depletion of natural resources; we'd probably spend all the oil, natural gas and goal to provide energy to the world, which would greatly increase CO2 emissions, cause the water levels to rise even more rapidly, and possibly cause another mass extinction as indicated by the article I posted in the Peak Oil debate (

About your inverse correlation - true, but not quite as you stated. As nations are modernized, death rates decrease as more advanced health services are made available. Take Sri Lanka for instance; in 1945 the death rate was 22/1000. In 1946, a large-scale mosquito-control program using DDT was implemented, greatly reducing the number of malaria cases. The death rate dropped to 10/1000 in nine years, and by 2006, it was 6/1000. A decline in birth rates occurred, however at a much slower rate (19/1000 in 2006). While there is a loose negative correlation, it is not always the case, and more often than not the decline in birth rates happens at a much slower pace than the decline in death rates, still resulting in an increase in population growth (take a look at this graph of China's population/birth rate/death rate from 1949-1996: )

And, just for reference sake: I'm not saying "SCREW ALL SUFFERING PEOPLE!" or anything to that effect; I wish there was a way to have everyone have an equal shot at living a good life without worrying about starving or being killed in a war or whatnot, but we can't possibly achieve that at our current rate. That's the crappy part about this population problem.

Just a comment about the population. Technically, if everyone in the world only had two children, they would only be replacing themselves. At most 3 to 4 generations of that particular family would be alive at a time. Taking into acount modes(?) of death other than old age (which would just maintain the current population), population could only steadily increase or remain constant with each couple having 2 to 3 kids.

So really, we just gotta stop having so many kids!

Of course it's not so simple as 3rd world countries have the largest population increases and lower usable food/water sources, but hey it would work.

mark79(2) Disputed
1 point

Resource consumption is a concern; however, it is secondary to exponential population growth. The 1.8 billion you propose is assuming the distribution of the natural resources that we use currently, neglecting possible offsets of resource replacements through technological innovation. It would be the same as arguing that world can only support 100 million people living as 1st class Europeans during 1500's due to the natural resource limitation of whale blubber.

Assuming that the current population growth of 2% continues, the doubling period is every 35 years. Even supposing that everyone in the world lowered their total consumption to 1/100 of an average american, we would only be delaying the problem by about 200 years.

We can agree that the majority of resource consumption for the average American goes towards excess; and that for the average 3rd world African who consumes only 1/100 of a typical American, the majority of their resource consumption is that of necessity. Now we make a comparison of what is easier. Is it easier through technological advancements to lower our raw resource requirements by a factor a 100 (the majority of which goes to excess), or is it easier to require the world population of consume half the number of resources (the majority of which are necessary) every 35 years.

- in regards to your comments about death rates, it is true that does temporarily cause an increase in population growth (assuming that there is somewhat of a maximum age we can live to); however, my general line of thinking is for the very long term, in the magnitude of the next few thousands years. We will still face the same dilemma even if the predictions of peak oil come true (assuming the human race survives).

harleyhwy(12) Disputed
1 point

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. - Yogi Berra.

We're at 6.67 billion people on earth today. 24,000 die of starvation daily. How long will it take to bring the 2nd and 3rd world countries into a favorable socio-economic position?

2 points

I find it quite incredible that mass genocide was mentioned (at least in denial) while it wasn't mentioned that rich countries could start consuming less per capita. The current level of consumption in the US per capita, is not at an inevitable level given the amount of technology they is the maximum possible at that level...isn't it possible for this consumption level to be below the maximum possible? If people in the US were on avg to consume say merely 7 times as much gas as the avg chinese, then couldn't the chinese as a whole consume double the gas without any increase in over-all depletion? In fact since a lot of gas is consumed by industry, and one of the things happening is industries shifting from the west to china etc, won't this happen to an extent neway as long as the west can moderate their personal consumption?

Also the power of technology must not be forgotten...the native americans had technology to support only 1 person per 100 acres or so, while now in India, 16% of the world's population are fed on 2.2% of the world's land and 1-2% of the world's water...

The worl'd population is expected to level off by 2060...most of the world is at the fertility level of near replacement anyway....china's population will start declining by the end of the decade, and India (where I come from), the biggest population crisis, will start declining by 2050...

I think a lot of people misuderstand the resource crisis...a lot of it are technological problems rather than the world running out...consider this...6 billion people...multiplied by 4 sq metre, that is one decent sized room, that would be 1/10th the size of france...

Muaguana(154) Disputed
3 points

I wanted to make it clear I wasn't advocating mass genocide because, as seen with Dr. Pianka, there are some people who jump to conclusions and assume anyone speaking of the dangers of overpopulation are Nazis or mass murderers or other likewise absurd labels.

I do agree with your point on less resource consumption; I don't think it's too much to ask for first world nations (particularly the US) to limit power consumption or develop methods of saving energy, as well as evolving our technology to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient (or at least using renewable sources of energy).

The resource crisis has two sides to it: technological limits and environmental limits. For example, as oil goes into terminal decline worldwide, there will be lest petroleum to fuel the machinery needed to extract more oil, or not enough funds for the companies to continue excavation prospects (cost to benefit ratio). There is predicted to be enough oil to last for 27 years (at our current rate of consumption, which is growing yearly). Due to the increased consumption and the aforementioned technology problem, oil likely won't last two decades, possibly in 10-15 years.

The shrinking farmland is a major issue that's primarily environmental - sure, cities can be built on the expanding deserts, however the loss of fertile cropland would be a huge blow to global food supply. Already wheat prices are rising sharply, and when more cropland is either destroyed due to over plowing or rising sea levels (for delta farmlands), the prices will continue to rise. And with wheat fields being destroyed, the thousands of kinds of foods made with wheat will also increase in price. Will it be apocalyptic? No, but it sure as hell won't be pretty.

I'm not sure what you're getting at with the 4 sq metre house argument. Cramming as many people in as small a space as possible really doesn't sound like a tantalizing solution to the issue, and you also must account for the space needed for a bed, a toilet, a food storage space, a water source, as well as any personal belongings one owns. And people also need jobs, so more structures there. Roads to provide travel, stores to buy food, public services... it's not as simple as housing everyone on the planet in sheds.

And waiting for the population to level off isn't that great of a solution either. By then oil will be gone completely, the human population will increase to 12 billion people (in the worst case scenario), and society will be unsustainable. Even if people decided to forgo modern appliances and technology and attempt to live off the land (since that might be the only alternative if infrastructure fails), the temperature increase from global warming, coupled with the damage of the natural environment (in particular the infertility of cropland), would kill off hundreds of millions of people, if not billions. And if first world nations find alternative sources of energy to run their society, the food crisis would still be a problem, and the people in third world nations might starve. As the population gets bigger, fewer people will be able to live with the modern technology and luxuries available to first world nations, and more people will be stuck at the bottom with poor health services, inadequate dwellings, much less food, etc.

Not trying to paint some doomsday picture, but things will not be good if we continue breeding and consuming at our current rate, just waiting for the population to level off. The core of this issue is sustainability, and 12 or even 9 billion people is not a sustainable population. The discrepancy between the wealthy and the impoverished will become greater and greater.

Another issue about overpopulation is the threat of disease. With land loss from rising sea levels and heightened immigration at people leave infertile croplands to head into larger cities, population density increases. This means a higher chance for a pandemic of a deadly and highly contagious virus to occur. Ebola, while not dangerous on a large scale currently, could reach pandemic status if an outbreak occurred in a densely populated city. Not good.

5 points

In the days of small tribes the human race would not have survived if it weren't the fact that we helped each other to overcome challenges. Also having more kids in a dangerous environment ensured better chances of survival for them and the tribe.

Today, it seems, that the same trait is leading to our downfall. The world is just not a dangerous enough a place anymore. We can't rely on natural selection when we have so successfully controlled our environment.

So we need to finally take control of ourselves I guess and bite the bullet with enforced population control. The sooner we do it the less painful in the long run I believe.

In an ideal world we might want to see the following scenario.

1: An immediate establishment of a single world population enforcement body, which all governments will join and abide by with respect to population development issues.

2: Enforce a short term (2-3 generations ?) fixed birthrate of 1 child per couple, with immediate sterilization of every couple that has already exceeded the 'quota' and anyone thereafter.

3: Stop all fertility treatment programs as well and instead institute organized worldwide adoption assistance programs instead.

4: All 'richer' countries to provide assistance programs for the living masses to uplift them through eradication of starvation (food supply distribution), poverty (funded work programs to develop the infrastructures and economies of the effected countries) and education (free education & vocational training).

5: Heavy investment in scientific/technological research to learn to use the resources we have more efficiently (cheaper energy, recycling, ommisions, food supplies etc.) and develop the ability to access new resources (land reclamaition, undersea, moon and asteroid mining)

6: Once the effects of step 2 have reduced the world popuplation to more sustainable levels, the restriction on birth rate can be extended up to replacement levels.

7: If and when extraterestrial colonization (moon, archologies, asteroids or other planets) has become a viable option population, then restrictions should be based on the prevailing emmigration trends.

Its going to be tough century but we should be able to come out ok on the other side. Its either that or we have war and get kicked back to the dark ages and start from scratch.

2 points

Phase one ought to be education. We don't talk about these facts often enough. The media rarely mentions them.

For my part, I plan to contribute by using birth control throughout my life and adopting children when I wish to be a mother. As an added bonus, my vajayjay will not be stretched by a baby.

Side: Education and Adoption

We can either start taking stupid people out or wait for mother nature to do it for us. Not everyone has a right to live.

Side: Education and Adoption

We're probably one of the only species that ignores weakness. We try to make the world easier for us to live rather than adjust our lives to live in this world as it is.

As far as having the right to live, rights are not god-given and they are not guaranteed from birth, they are only guaranteed by government.

Estimates for the population are between 8 and 12 billion by 2050 and if technology cannot continue to supplement our lifestyles/population, we will realize that we cannot 'fight' nature.

Side: Education and Adoption
1 point

I don't think i've ever seen a super breeding woman trying to get the best males about to fight for the right to breed with her, humans sure are so dumb!

If each relaxed body puts out 40watts of energy an hour, then a billion people add 4milliom kilowatts of heating to the world. In the 80s with activity they averaged 85 watts an hour but these days due to laziness its barely above 60 watts an hour so still helping global warming but at a lessening rate even though each billion is added faster than the previous.

What about the killers? In America cancer has overtaken heart disease to kill more than 1 in 2 men & 1 in 3 women. They don't like to make it public knowledge that in 2001 107,000 people died of "Correctly Administered Pharmacuticals" (3 747 plane loads of people a week) offically. In 2007 this had increased to 284,000 people offically with some unoffical estimates around 800,000 people. I don't know of todays stats on this but would expect near half a million people offically and well over 1 million unoffically to die from legal Drugs correctly prescribed. maybe the doctors are actually attempting to limit the population after all!

Then there's how a lake in USA supplies 5 states yet in 2001 they found the ecology of the lake erroding and the cause of that was that so much estrogen from womens products had entered the overall area of the lake and thus all the fish in the lake were found to be females. What do you think this is doing to us humans then?

Vitamins, Glyconutrients and many other essential nutrients our incredibly technical works of nature referred to as bodies, can only get from fruits and vegetables in the 48 hours of peak ripeness. Now how few people actually know the names of the fruits and vegetables, let alone what a ripe form of it tastes like.

Mother Nature is and always has been in control and we shouldn't forget that. I just last night saw a great documentary on how the Aztec and other highly advanced societies disappeared totally simply by changes in the worlds wind cycles and that has to happen again soon.

Consider how 3 years ago in Malaysia my partners sister died of cancer at 46 (after getting an extra 3 years of life from high quality natural products). In that hospital they had graphed the pattern of deaths through that hospital and it showed how Chinese there were 10 times as likely to die of cancer compared to the equivalent Indian or Malay or Other races. This shows how stress and eating habits contribute significantly to cancer.

I can only see the deaths from such disease increasing significantly to outstrip the bithrate and by the time people realise what has happened, it will be too late to halt the death rate. At that stage people will be asking how to stop the Deathrate instead of Overpopulation.

In the mean time hospitals will be the business of equity, properties will become worthless as people need to pay hospital bills and the young will ignore this and simply keep increasing the crime rate as there will be far too many to create enough false jobs for them all. Also just how far can each dollar be spread?

Side: Education and Adoption
2 points

I am not condoning to take the stupid people out.

But unfortunately, stupidity is not a trait that influences reproduction. On the contrary.

NB: The video does not give extra credibility, but extra entertainment value.

Idiocracy (intro)
Side: Education and Adoption

Sad, funny....true?

Poverty, Poor eduacation, overPopulation.

The 3 P's that keep 3rd world countries from developing.

Ok so I just made that up and it's a bit of a stretch...but I tried lol

Side: Education and Adoption
1 point

Statistics about how a American consumes in comparison with others are amazing. Those statistic show that

overpopulation + modern technology = depletion of resources.

That's just what i think.

In term of what should be done about population booming and sources consuming, i think we can do nothing. Just compare Vietnam and the US. Vietnam has quite high birth rate and high resource depletion rate is understandable. How about the US, of course, it can't has high birth rate as Vietnam right ? but it has very high rate of natural resource depletion as well. Therefore, as long as human can't control what they do with natural resources, everything can potentially lead to worldwide crisis not only overpopulation. Considering all factors we will recognize that overpopulation isn't harmful and destructive as it seems to be.

Side: Education and Adoption
1 point

You got to teach the people, if the people have the teaching the people will be able to teach the ways of this commen society. In sweden we take in the poor little childen and instead of laughing and kicking them very hard in the side of the face when they sleep in corner of shop.

I don't like to do this horrid killing that so many people wish for, it is so nasty.

The lolfish boy needs to get his acts togeather and stop this mean speak. He say he know what he talk about but cant speak English. These are the youth that need kick in head very hard.

Side: Education and Adoption
1 point

I believe the world is greatly overpopulated - china is helping with the solution to this problem by restricting the number of children that people can have. i think the whole world should adopt that policy. but that is not enough. the entire world needs to understand just how overpopulated we are, in order to get it under control - before it is too late.

Now, im not saying that the SS had it right on killing so many jews. what they did to them is sickening and horrible. however, they did bring down the population by a few million; not in the right way, but they got it done. instead of torturing people and gasing them, a quick injection of something to painlessly 'put down' people deemed unfit to live in the world would go over better probably. Everyone would undergo a series of tests to see who would be able to contribute to the new world - the ones who failed would be mercifully let go: people who needed medical care, who had mental problems, anykind of retardation or disease - people who could not care for themselves. call it survival of the fitest. medical advances in the last 50 years also has contributed to our overpopulation. but no race would be singled out, its not about race. its about keeping the people who can work and who are healthy. doing this would take down the population considerably. and its easy to say, and many people probably dont agree with my solution, but its practical. and its not like i wouldnt lose people. my sister is schizophrenic - if this idea was made into reality, she would not make it. but for the greater good of the world, eventually sacrifices are going to have to be made. extensive testing to anyone who became pregnant to determine if the child would have some kind of illness or handicap would be necessary and any fetus found to be unfit would be aborted. and this idea is harsh, but when we start running out of fresh water and food (without cloning animals) it might become a harsh reality. the preservation of our species is a must.

Side: Education and Adoption
ChuckHades(3198) Disputed
1 point

i think the whole world should adopt that policy.

Sexual policing is not a solution to anything.

Now, im not saying that the SS had it right...

Oh God...

they did bring down the population by a few million; not in the right way, but they got it done.

The Nazi's goal was not to combat overpopulation, it was to exterminate "inferior" traits that didn't match Nazi ideology.

instead of torturing people and gasing them, a quick injection of something to painlessly 'put down' people deemed unfit to live in the world would go over better probably

Who could possibly judge such a thing? And who would enforce this?

Everyone would undergo a series of tests to see who would be able to contribute to the new world - the ones who failed would be mercifully let go

Bah, merciful my arse. You can't show mercy to those who haven't committed a crime.

call it survival of the fitest.

I'm calling it Eugenics.

many people probably dont agree with my solution, but its practical.

So is slavery. Is that a reason to bring it back?

but for the greater good of the world, eventually sacrifices are going to have to be made.

The greater good is a disgraceful lie made up by people who want an excuse for murder.

but when we start running out of fresh water and food (without cloning animals)

And why don't we clone? GM crops are also something I'm surprised at not seeing very high up.

the preservation of our species is a must.

Man is not a means to an end. Preserve the species, yes; but not by harming the species. A few questions then...

1.) Who will enforce all these regulations?

2.) How will this all be paid for?

3.) How long have you been a Nazi for?

Side: Education and Adoption
0 points

i says we's gunna 'av to strt cullin some humans blud. i finks we shud let the peeps wit downs an all tht shiz die . . . and stop letting retards who carnts even speak rite bang each other and making more stoopid kidz init.

Side: Education and Adoption