Author Topic: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?  (Read 56261 times)

Aloysius_Poutine

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Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« on: November 29, 2013, 08:09:44 PM »
I'm not convinced. According to this website the entire population of earth could fit into Texas with 1100 sq ft per person, and we already grow 10x more potatoes than is necessary to feed everyone on earth.

I did a geography degree at a liberal arts college, so I'm pretty well aware of the arguments. But I still don't find them convincing. In fact, I don't think overpopulation is a problem at all. I'm more concerned about the trend of birth rates getting dangerously below that 2.1 rate at which populations remain stable.

arebelspy

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 08:16:24 PM »
If we planned and did it wisely, no, maybe not.

The way we're doing it, yes.
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MoneyCat

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 09:28:14 PM »
Overpopulation is not a problem.  The Earth could easily sustain a human population of 100 billion without negative effects on the environment.  The problem is not population.  It's wealth.  Wealth is controlled by a very tiny percentage of the population and many people starve to death because they do not have necessities like food, warm clothing, and shelter because they cannot afford them.  According to Social Darwinists (aka Objectivists), these people should just die because they are being outcompeted.  According to others, the "competition" has become barbaric and it's a relic of our primitive past as a species.

Mustachianism is a way out of the vicious cycle of overconsumption and famine.  We need to spread the word far and wide.

MMM

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2013, 10:43:10 PM »
The Earth is already between 25% and 50% beyond its carrying capacity even with 7 billion people (resources are depleted faster than the ecosystem can replenish them). And this is with most of us very poor and thus not yet consuming very much of it. And the climate's ability to stay stable with the surplus carbon input was exceeded decades ago.

Sure, we could support 100 billion people in a giant vegan-fed solar-powered skyscraper megalopolis with an oddly benevolent dictator in control to prevent individual overconsumption. But we couldn't do it sustainably with an oil-powered free market like we do now!

The solution in my mind is that we rich people voluntarily reduce our energy consumption, invest the surplus in bringing up the poorer half of the world in a sustainable way, and then on average choose to have smaller families over time. While maintaining badass and innovative lives with our vastly increased free time!


CDP45

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2013, 11:04:59 PM »
No there is not overpopulation. Capitalism and freedom have brough us to where we are today with all the amazing wealth we have to enjoy an MMM / FIRE lifestyle for the common man. We are approachingt he age of post-scarcity. The biggest threat to humanity's survival is the state. Maybe cylons one day.. Human population will peak in the next 30 years and then decline, many countries are already facing decline and due to increased world trade has rapidly decreased poverty and worldwide poverty could be eliminated in that time frame: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/09/these-three-charts-show-how-the-world-could-end-extreme-poverty-by-2030/

The overpopulation myth is just another scare tactic (though MMM continually reminds us to reject fear) to justify additional growth of the state at the expense of the people. One if the biggest reasons people have to keep working is the theft from their paychecks.

I read MMM because of the hope of his message and the strength of his example, I am undeterred by his ignorance in this subject.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 12:17:32 PM by CDP45 »

Ian

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2013, 01:21:58 AM »
I don't know what the arguments would be from a geography degree, but coming at this from an international development perspective, it's definitely a problem. Also, am I the only one getting a failed page from the OP instead of this link?

I don't see anywhere on the site that adequately addresses the fact that overpopulation is a factor behind some of the major problems in the third world: poverty, war, and environmental exploitation.

I'm going to use Tanzania as an example because that's what I know. Your site pointed out that most of Africa has a low population density compared to the world average, and Tanzania follows that pattern. But this is deceptive, because Tanzania's population density has skyrocketed compared to the past. This utterly devastates subsistence farmers, who form the bulk of the population. With millions of young people unable to survive on inherited land, the cities are swamped and unemployment is rampant.

Let me pull out a relevant statistic from that last article:
Quote
Each year, 900,000 young Tanzanians enter a job market that is generating only 50,000 to 60,000 new jobs.

That's the kind of impact overpopulation has, in Tanzania and many other countries. It divides parents' limited education money between children and taxes institutions like schools and hospitals.

Thankfully Tanzania has stayed peaceful, but massive unemployed young populations are also strongly correlated with violence. In Collapse, Jared Diamond goes into the connection for several Sub-Saharan African countries with high levels of violence, if you don't want to take my word for it. The lack of jobs also leads to increased poaching and other environmental exploitation (consider slash and burn agriculture in Haiti).

That's not to say that everywhere is the same, since obviously some countries are below the replacement rate. I can't find it now, but I recall reading an article saying that the USA and several other countries are actually even lower than they look, because the average is drawn up by certain populations. However, I don't think that overpopulation as a problem should be dismissed as a myth.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2013, 04:34:41 AM »
Just as the plural of anecdote is not data, evidence of overpopulation in one country doesn't mean the world has an overpopulation problem.

Russia has a population of 143 million people and is one of the largest countries in the world.  Ditto Canada at 34 million. 

So worldwide overpopulation isn't the issue.  The issue is raising the standard of living above the subsistence level in poor countries suffering from overpopulation.
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Rural

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2013, 04:58:23 AM »
Overpopulation is not a problem, it's the problem. Fix that and fix the rest, environmentally and sociologically.

Albert

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2013, 05:50:05 AM »
Overpopulation is a somewhat relative term. Belgium and Burundi has about the same population density (ca 360/km^2). The latter is dangerously overpopulated while the former is not.

ender

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2013, 07:33:01 AM »
I did a geography degree at a liberal arts college, so I'm pretty well aware of the arguments. But I still don't find them convincing. In fact, I don't think overpopulation is a problem at all. I'm more concerned about the trend of birth rates getting dangerously below that 2.1 rate at which populations remain stable.

I guess it depends on what country you live in which of these is the bigger problem.

rocketman48097

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2013, 02:37:51 PM »
No, we have a lot more capacity for a lot more people.  It's called technology. 

Le0

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2013, 02:43:27 PM »
...and then on average choose to have smaller families over time. While maintaining badass and innovative lives with our vastly increased free time!

Thanks for using the word choose. Its a small thing but it makes this statement agreeable for me. I had a teacher in university who said that overpopulation was the number 1 problem in the world today, and that it was a direct result of "Not enough birth control" . I completely disagreed with him. However your statement works perfectly.
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Lans Holman

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2013, 03:18:50 PM »
Boy, this brings out some different perspectives. I would agree that it's not the total number of people in the world that's the problem (yet), it's their uneven distribution and demographics throughout the world.  So overpopulation with too many young people in some places, underpopulation with too many old people in others.  For the first one the solution isn't Chinese style regulation, it's making birth control accessible and letting women have some say in how many kids they have, combined with rising standards of health and productivity which make investing heavily in a few kids a better economic choice than having a whole bunch and hoping enough of them survive to adulthood to support you when you're older.  For the low birth rate/aging problem, part of the solution is going to have to be greater freedom for working-age people to move around the world in search of employment.

the fixer

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2013, 07:10:20 PM »
Just as the plural of anecdote is not data, evidence of overpopulation in one country doesn't mean the world has an overpopulation problem.

Russia has a population of 143 million people and is one of the largest countries in the world.  Ditto Canada at 34 million. 

So worldwide overpopulation isn't the issue.  The issue is raising the standard of living above the subsistence level in poor countries suffering from overpopulation.
Much of Canada and Russia has a climate that cannot support large populations of humans. I don't see how this is at all relevant.

There are several people throwing out one statistic like how many potatoes we grow and immediately concluding that if worldwide production of a starchy tuber is sufficient, then there is no problem at all. I hope you all realize that our requirements from the environment encompass much more than that.

Has anyone heard about any studies which look at this problem in terms of thermodynamics, negating any effects of technology? For instance, you need access to a minimum amount of water every day (say, 5 gallons as a floor). If you live in a place where the temperature stays below freezing in the winter, that water needs to be melted which is going to take a certain guaranteed amount of caloric energy. Drinking water usually needs to be filtered, this can be treated as a decrease of the water's entropy and therefore modeled by a minimum amount of energy required for the best possible filter to separate contaminants. You could do the same thing by analyzing the entropy of the organic chemicals in our food, the breakdown of human wastes, and so on. Anyone need a master's thesis topic in physics?
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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2013, 09:20:08 AM »
Before we obsess too much on the quantity of people, I'd first look at the overall quality of life.  Billions of people are dirt poor and that is changing, but slowly.  It's true that producing enough food is becoming less and less of a problem over time, but that is just one part of a good life. 

Better a world with 4 billion people not in abject poverty than a world of 10 billion where half live in abject poverty (to move the scale 3 billion in either direction).  The areas of the world that are still experiencing surging population growth are mostly underdeveloped countries that are struggling with their existing populations.  The areas of the world where population is decreasing over time is overwhelmingly developed countries.

So yes, I would argue that overpopulation is in fact a major problem in many underdeveloped countries.   
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Elaine

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2013, 10:47:47 AM »
I think we have a resource usage problem, if not an actual population problem. I mean, using square feet is only considering physical space and density- but when the population is increasing AND consumption is increasing it seems problematic to me. If you look at the state of our food industry I think it gives you a pretty good idea of the inefficiency involved in how we use resources (and our inability to distribute them). But people in developed and developing nations want lots and lots of meat, not efficient plant matter. They want SUVs, not bicycles. If we were more efficient in how we used resources and in how we distributed them it probably wouldn't be an issue.
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Le0

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2013, 11:16:19 AM »
I have heard it said that we have a distribution problem. Places with high populations have less food where as places with low populations have way too much.

I would tend to think that there is a very complex problem going on that cannot be solved with any one label. Even "Over Population" is a label far to general to be a adequate description.
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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2013, 11:53:58 AM »
('over'-population) x (rising standard of living) = 'problem'  Not sure how to define 'problem' (standard of living drops for a generation prompting people to 'not want to bring children into a less hospitable future', humans move to a 'matrix' virtual and limitless existence (the singularity), the rich begin to eat the poor...)  Chances are, there will be mitigating measures to avoid famine, plague, apocalyptic-style wipe-out, but we're certainly closer to needing to address this than we were in the 1900's.   Just spit-balling, it's a good question and I look forward to good answers (and not people looking out their window and saying, 'uh, not in my town').

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2013, 11:55:26 AM »
No there is not overpopulation. Capitalism and freedom have brough us to where we are today with all the amazing wealth we have to enjoy an MMM / FIRE lifestyle for the common man. We are approachingt he age of post-scarcity. The biggest threat to humanity's survival is the state. Maybe cylons one day.. Human population will peak in the next 30 years and then decline, many countries are already facing decline and due to increased world trade has rapidly decreased poverty and worldwide poverty could be eliminated in that time frame:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/09/these-three-charts-show-how-the-world-could-end-extreme-poverty-by-2030/

The overpopulation myth is just another scare tactic (though MMM continually reminds us to reject fear) to justify additional growth of the state at the expense of the people. One if the biggest reasons people have to keep working is the theft from their paychecks.

I read MMM because of the hope of his message and the strength of his example, I am undeterred by his ignorance in this subject.

This. A lot of junk science is dependent on public funding so they have an incentive to manufacture this hysteria. It's sad so many blindly buy into it... even admission through hacked emails expose alot of these myths as deception for greed or to support a radical agenda. This is why 'global warming' and Al Gore's carbon tax died on the vine. In due time all these countries with a negative birth rate with show us that the overpopulation hysteria was just another myth for consolidation of power and resources for the insiders.

CDP45

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2013, 12:40:27 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth


The population growth rate has been falling since the mid-1960s, soon be to 0 growth (2030-2040) and then reduction. The symptoms erroneously attributed to overpopulation such as poverty, war, famine can be easily seen by the novel example of the Koreas: same exact population, resources, and history until the 1950s. The clear difference is government causes untold misery, generational misery, human rights crises, genocide. These are the symptoms of government, not overpopulation.

CDP45

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2013, 12:43:53 PM »

So yes, I would argue that overpopulation is in fact a major problem in many underdeveloped countries.   

I'd say it's a problem with property rights and government abuses of the people. The reason they are undeveloped is due to tyrannical government. Check out the progress of East Germany since liberation.

smalllife

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2013, 12:54:08 PM »
The question I always have in these discussions is: Why are more humans considered to be a good thing?  If population growth is slowing, why is that a bad thing?   I have never understood why the end goal should be as many humans as possible rather than a world where everyone is well cared for without destroying the earth in the process.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 12:57:54 PM by smalllife »
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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2013, 12:55:25 PM »
People who claim that overpopulation is a major issue are really just being arrogant and trying to claim their superiority over people who have less money to buy food.  That's all it really is.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2013, 01:08:49 PM »
People who claim that overpopulation is a major issue are really just being arrogant and trying to claim their superiority over people who have less money to buy food.  That's all it really is.

Funny, that's what I think about people who claim it isn't an issue.  They are likely to continue to have resources as the population expands, at the expense of those who don't.
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Albert

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2013, 01:30:38 PM »
Just putting our head in a sand will not make the issue go away. There might or might not be an overall overpopulation, but certain areas are certainly growing dangerously fast. I'd be very surprised if that doesn't lead to serious regional problems in the next 50 years.

Let's give an example so it's not just a theoretical talk.

Bangladesh: area 150,000 km^2 (a bit more than 1/2 Texas), estimated population 150,000,000, population density 1,034 per km^2 - third highest in the world excluding city and micro states (5x more than Switzerland, 30x more than US), current GDP per capita ca 2,000$. The most worrying part is the still high growth rate of 1.6% giving a doubling time of about 44 years.

How can you possibly say with any confidence that there won't be a problem there or in similar places around the world? Some countries would be starving already if not for an aid and remittances from richer areas.

Albert

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #25 on: December 04, 2013, 01:31:42 PM »
People who claim that overpopulation is a major issue are really just being arrogant and trying to claim their superiority over people who have less money to buy food.  That's all it really is.

Are you trying to shame us into ostrich like behaviour? Not going to work...

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2013, 01:37:25 PM »
China has it all figured out. At least they are doing something about it. 1 baby or else.

CDP45

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #27 on: December 04, 2013, 01:50:33 PM »
Just putting our head in a sand will not make the issue go away. There might or might not be an overall overpopulation, but certain areas are certainly growing dangerously fast. I'd be very surprised if that doesn't lead to serious regional problems in the next 50 years.

Let's give an example so it's not just a theoretical talk.

Bangladesh: area 150,000 km^2 (a bit more than 1/2 Texas), estimated population 150,000,000, population density 1,034 per km^2 - third highest in the world excluding city and micro states (5x more than Switzerland, 30x more than US), current GDP per capita ca 2,000$. The most worrying part is the still high growth rate of 1.6% giving a doubling time of about 44 years.

How can you possibly say with any confidence that there won't be a problem there or in similar places around the world? Some countries would be starving already if not for an aid and remittances from richer areas.

Enhance your calm bro- it's within cities and micro states we find the highest standards of living. The only reason for famine these days is due to their governments stealing food from them. Check out the this: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/11/28/23-charts-to-be-thankful-for-this-thanksgiving/. Things are getting better as freedom marches forward for all mankind.

1.6% is not a high growth rate, and it's dropping. Serious regional problems only comes from  oppressive government.

Albert

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #28 on: December 04, 2013, 03:00:19 PM »
Are you partially responding to some other post here???

In demographics 1.6% is a high growth rate, but yes fortunately for them it's not as high as 30 years ago.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #29 on: December 04, 2013, 05:19:48 PM »
China has it all figured out. At least they are doing something about it. 1 baby or else.

That's not working out for China long term.  They have a rapidly aging population and are "relaxing" the one child policy.

http://www.businessinsider.com/one-child-policy-chinese-demographic-problems-2013-11
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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #30 on: December 05, 2013, 04:11:54 AM »
Just as the plural of anecdote is not data, evidence of overpopulation in one country doesn't mean the world has an overpopulation problem.

Russia has a population of 143 million people and is one of the largest countries in the world.  Ditto Canada at 34 million. 

So worldwide overpopulation isn't the issue.  The issue is raising the standard of living above the subsistence level in poor countries suffering from overpopulation.
Much of Canada and Russia has a climate that cannot support large populations of humans. I don't see how this is at all relevant.

You are correct.  Much of Canada and Russia have climates that don't support large populations.  Other large parts could.  Those are the ones that are relevant.  Australia is another country with a tiny population with room to expand toward the interior (no not the outback).  Large portions of the US interior and Alaska are also sparsely populated. 

Overpopulation is a localized phenomenon.   I'm not saying it isn't a problem, but to say that the Earth as a whole is overpopulated is untrue.
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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #31 on: December 05, 2013, 07:57:00 AM »
1. Try reading: What to expect when no one's expecting by Jonathan Last; great job of addressing the population growth issues around the world.  Watch Japan they had 300k more deaths than births over the last few years. They are a great indicator of the impact to social/political/economic futures (given a tight barrier to immigration/emigration).

2. My concern is for food production is not over/underproduction, but distribution. When the US gives food aid to African nations the food plummet and their is little incentive for a local African nation farmer to grow his crops and develop his land when he can't bring his goods to market.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #32 on: December 05, 2013, 03:53:49 PM »
Environmental Engineer here (please note, that means I have a degree in it, not that I am an "environmentalist". I don't work specifically with this stuff, though).

The economy exists as a subset of the society which exists as a subset of the environment (also known as an ecosystem, the words aren't perfectly interchangeable).

Thus, if we do not take care of the environment and include it in our calculations as to what can support a given number of humans, as well as maintaining itself, society will collapse due to low resources per person, and the economy will probably attempt to correct it, but it is not a perfect tool. So we need to work out amount of environment needed to self-sustain (and "the environment" is heterogeneous, so this will vary over the earth's surface). Then some kind of human:environment ratio that tells us, given the remaining amount of earth, what population is a good idea, and allow us to work towards that. The economy and politics/society can give us the tools to reach that goal, as education decreases babies/woman, technology can help us be more efficient with food production and distribution, and we can include more "environment" in our living and working spaces and towns, like wetlands to treat our waste - this has benefits beyond just nicer water.

Is overpopulation a problem? Well, yes, overpopulation means consumption>resources; just ask any organism that consumes what happens when its environment doesn't react quickly enough to bring its population down to equilibrium. Is it a problem for homo sapien over the globe right now? Most certainly, it is a factor in the degradation of our life-support, the ecosystem we are part of. Does that mean the answer is as simple as 1 baby/woman for the next generation? No. That would be too rapid for society to adjust to, and humans seem to respond better to slightly more round-about but well constructed solutions.

Please catch me on anything I've said that's incorrect.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2013, 04:03:43 PM »
In my mind the danger of overpopulation, besides for depleting resources the earth does not replenish, is that already humans are building and living in environments that need sooo much technology in order for them to be to first world living standards.  I am talking about here in the US even.  There are people that have rebuilt their houses 10 times in the last 30 years because they live where hurricanes always strike, where floods always happen, on soil that is mostly sand.  Its all well and good to say that humans could expand to areas that are unpopulated but there is usually a reason they are unpopulated.  Just look at the revamp of the flooding maps for flood insurance.  So many states could be underwater in our lifetime if the sea level continues to rise and hurricanes continue to strike (thankfully this year was easy on the US).  I don't know if we are overpopulated but I do know that already here in the US people live where they really shouldn't. 

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2013, 07:23:35 PM »
In my mind the danger of overpopulation, besides for depleting resources the earth does not replenish, is that already humans are building and living in environments that need sooo much technology in order for them to be to first world living standards.  I am talking about here in the US even.  There are people that have rebuilt their houses 10 times in the last 30 years because they live where hurricanes always strike, where floods always happen, on soil that is mostly sand.  Its all well and good to say that humans could expand to areas that are unpopulated but there is usually a reason they are unpopulated.  Just look at the revamp of the flooding maps for flood insurance.  So many states could be underwater in our lifetime if the sea level continues to rise and hurricanes continue to strike (thankfully this year was easy on the US).  I don't know if we are overpopulated but I do know that already here in the US people live where they really shouldn't.

Yes I agree the government should stop subsidizing homes in the middle of flood zones, thats a very inefficient welfare program.

So in conclusion, overpopulation is not a problem we are suffering from. Yay! Please do not advocate for eroding human rights in the name of this non-existent problem. Thank you all.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2013, 07:03:38 AM »
1. Try reading: What to expect when no one's expecting by Jonathan Last; great job of addressing the population growth issues around the world.  Watch Japan they had 300k more deaths than births over the last few years. They are a great indicator of the impact to social/political/economic futures (given a tight barrier to immigration/emigration).

I was also thinking about the problems in Japan while reading this thread.

avonlea

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2013, 12:05:09 PM »
This is a pretty good article from the Washington Post, How The World's Populations Are Changing, In One Map. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/10/31/how-the-worlds-populations-are-changing-in-one-map/

Kazimieras

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2013, 01:38:45 PM »
If anyone is trying to play catch up on this thread, this guy is honestly one of the world's most gifted staticitians. Good news, population growth will be stabilizing, likely around 11B. The question is can we support all of that.

He did a great video on it, backed up by actual real and modern data. It is worth an hour of your time:
http://www.gapminder.org/videos/dont-panic-the-facts-about-population/

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2013, 03:01:09 PM »
Dozens of answers and nobody has had the humility to give the answer that we don't know, finding out is complex, the uncertainty on what we do know is large, and we have to extrapolate with many assumptions we can't check to draw any conclusions at all.

The question is in principle a scientific question and "I don't know" is the best scientific answer I can think of.

Anyone who tries to tell you a definitive answer almost certainly has an agenda beyond mere accuracy.

There are many other questions we can probably answer now, for example

- Is it a problem for a given community? We may be over capacity in some areas and under in others. If we can't learn to distribute more efficiently and equitably this may be inevitable.

- Is it a problem for rich nations?

- Is it a problem for poor nations?

- Is it a problem for hunger and disease?

- Is it a problem for a given scarce resource or other bottleneck?

etc.

But to estimate a carrying capacity for the planet makes huge assumptions. For example

- Does that mean given optimal distribution of resources? If so, how would we transition from our suboptimal use today to that optimal plan?

- What is the optimal distribution of resources? We are nowhere close now, but this may be the best humans can do.

- If suboptimal distribution of resources, how far below optimal? If far enough below, we could well be over the capacity today.

- On what time scale? We could go over for some time if we went under some other time.

- How comfortable are people with living with pollution? Having limited access to green space?

- How efficiently to people want to live? Optimal efficiency increases the capacity at the expense of things like travel, eating meat, and skiing. Lower efficiency lowers the capacity but allows more freedom.

etc.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #39 on: December 06, 2013, 04:31:29 PM »
Dozens of answers and nobody has had the humility to give the answer that we don't know, finding out is complex, the uncertainty on what we do know is large, and we have to extrapolate with many assumptions we can't check to draw any conclusions at all.

The question is in principle a scientific question and "I don't know" is the best scientific answer I can think of.

Anyone who tries to tell you a definitive answer almost certainly has an agenda beyond mere accuracy.

There are many other questions we can probably answer now, for example

- Is it a problem for a given community? We may be over capacity in some areas and under in others. If we can't learn to distribute more efficiently and equitably this may be inevitable.

- Is it a problem for rich nations?

- Is it a problem for poor nations?

- Is it a problem for hunger and disease?

- Is it a problem for a given scarce resource or other bottleneck?

etc.

But to estimate a carrying capacity for the planet makes huge assumptions. For example

- Does that mean given optimal distribution of resources? If so, how would we transition from our suboptimal use today to that optimal plan?

- What is the optimal distribution of resources? We are nowhere close now, but this may be the best humans can do.

- If suboptimal distribution of resources, how far below optimal? If far enough below, we could well be over the capacity today.

- On what time scale? We could go over for some time if we went under some other time.

- How comfortable are people with living with pollution? Having limited access to green space?

- How efficiently to people want to live? Optimal efficiency increases the capacity at the expense of things like travel, eating meat, and skiing. Lower efficiency lowers the capacity but allows more freedom.

etc.

Thanks for writing more clearly what I was trying to say :)

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #40 on: December 07, 2013, 10:19:40 AM »
I'm not convinced. According to this website the entire population of earth could fit into Texas with 1100 sq ft per person, and we already grow 10x more potatoes than is necessary to feed everyone on earth.

I did a geography degree at a liberal arts college, so I'm pretty well aware of the arguments. But I still don't find them convincing. In fact, I don't think overpopulation is a problem at all. I'm more concerned about the trend of birth rates getting dangerously below that 2.1 rate at which populations remain stable.

A quick search shows the organization behind that site seems to be a religious group whose primary motives relate to abortion. Its credibility on science seems questionable and its biases significant, though everyone can judge for themselves.

I didn't know that when I wrote "Anyone who tries to tell you a definitive answer almost certainly has an agenda beyond mere accuracy" above, but I think it illustrates the point well.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2013, 10:24:18 AM by JoshuaSpodek »

CDP45

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #41 on: December 08, 2013, 12:11:08 PM »
Uhm what about the Wikipedia data I posted that shows the human population will be in decline in the next few decades? What about the Washington post article that reviews UN and other NGO research that shows extreme poverty should be eliminated within 20 years?

My take is those who disregard these facts have the ulterior motive to sow fear either to generate contributions to their wasteful "charities" or to support government human rights abuses.

To the vast majority of people on this planet, let alone the USA, overpopulation is a myth.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #42 on: December 08, 2013, 01:21:25 PM »
In the spirit of the Christmas season, they should all die and relieve the surplus population.  That's the appropriate response here, right?

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #43 on: December 08, 2013, 03:37:08 PM »
In the spirit of the Christmas season, they should all die and relieve the surplus population.  That's the appropriate response here, right?
Kinda my thought.  If you think the world is overcrowded... you first.
Check out my blog.  Early retirement from a military perspective.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #44 on: December 09, 2013, 06:46:50 AM »
Uhm what about the Wikipedia data I posted that shows the human population will be in decline in the next few decades? What about the Washington post article that reviews UN and other NGO research that shows extreme poverty should be eliminated within 20 years?

My take is those who disregard these facts have the ulterior motive to sow fear either to generate contributions to their wasteful "charities" or to support government human rights abuses.

To the vast majority of people on this planet, let alone the USA, overpopulation is a myth.

You mentioned two predictions, then talked about "these facts." Are you calling the predictions facts and using them to support a claim that overpopulation is a myth?

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #45 on: December 09, 2013, 09:14:44 AM »
Uhm what about the Wikipedia data I posted that shows the human population will be in decline in the next few decades? What about the Washington post article that reviews UN and other NGO research that shows extreme poverty should be eliminated within 20 years?

My take is those who disregard these facts have the ulterior motive to sow fear either to generate contributions to their wasteful "charities" or to support government human rights abuses.

To the vast majority of people on this planet, let alone the USA, overpopulation is a myth.

You mentioned two predictions, then talked about "these facts." Are you calling the predictions facts and using them to support a claim that overpopulation is a myth?

Also that wikipedia data supports a slowdown of population growth not a decline of human population. Growth is still an increase on population. An annual increase of 1% of 8 billion people is still 80 million more people being brought in.

I agree strongly with JoshuaSpodek in that it is an extremely complicated question which cannot be boiled down to such a simplistic yes it is a problem and no it isn't. The correct answer is both and it depends.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #46 on: December 09, 2013, 09:19:02 AM »
Uhm what about the Wikipedia data I posted that shows the human population will be in decline in the next few decades? What about the Washington post article that reviews UN and other NGO research that shows extreme poverty should be eliminated within 20 years?

My take is those who disregard these facts have the ulterior motive to sow fear either to generate contributions to their wasteful "charities" or to support government human rights abuses.

To the vast majority of people on this planet, let alone the USA, overpopulation is a myth.


You mentioned two predictions, then talked about "these facts." Are you calling the predictions facts and using them to support a claim that overpopulation is a myth?

Also that wikipedia data supports a slowdown of population growth not a decline of human population. Growth is still an increase on population. An annual increase of 1% of 8 billion people is still 80 million more people being brought in.

I agree strongly with JoshuaSpodek in that it is an extremely complicated question which cannot be boiled down to such a simplistic yes it is a problem and no it isn't. The correct answer is both and it depends.

is there something we should be doing about it now? Should we take active steps, Like China? Or is education of the issue the solution?

Or as MMM put it help developing countries become wealthy in a sustainable way and the family sizes will naturally decrease.
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matchewed

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #47 on: December 09, 2013, 10:05:25 AM »
Uhm what about the Wikipedia data I posted that shows the human population will be in decline in the next few decades? What about the Washington post article that reviews UN and other NGO research that shows extreme poverty should be eliminated within 20 years?

My take is those who disregard these facts have the ulterior motive to sow fear either to generate contributions to their wasteful "charities" or to support government human rights abuses.

To the vast majority of people on this planet, let alone the USA, overpopulation is a myth.


You mentioned two predictions, then talked about "these facts." Are you calling the predictions facts and using them to support a claim that overpopulation is a myth?

Also that wikipedia data supports a slowdown of population growth not a decline of human population. Growth is still an increase on population. An annual increase of 1% of 8 billion people is still 80 million more people being brought in.

I agree strongly with JoshuaSpodek in that it is an extremely complicated question which cannot be boiled down to such a simplistic yes it is a problem and no it isn't. The correct answer is both and it depends.

is there something we should be doing about it now? Should we take active steps, Like China? Or is education of the issue the solution?

Or as MMM put it help developing countries become wealthy in a sustainable way and the family sizes will naturally decrease.

It depends, there is no one something we should be doing given the complexity of the situation. I'm not a huge fan of government policies such as China's but I can see the reasoning behind it. I generally agree with MMM that increased education, nutrition, healthcare...etc. has proven effective in lowering population growth. But as I said above lowering population growth does not equal lowering population.

So mostly this is such a big complex issue that any oversimplified opinion, my own included, is missing a crap ton of information and has no chance of having any actual bearing on the issue.

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #48 on: December 09, 2013, 02:16:43 PM »

So yes, I would argue that overpopulation is in fact a major problem in many underdeveloped countries.   

I'd say it's a problem with property rights and government abuses of the people. The reason they are undeveloped is due to tyrannical government. Check out the progress of East Germany since liberation.

East Germany at its worst was far more developed than India at its best.  India has a myriad of problems, but tyrannical government isn't one of them.  Highly ineffective government at times, most assuredly....  Having said that, both China and India are dealing with severely degraded environments due in part to their enormous populations and lack of pollution control infrastructure.  The Ganges River basin is a modern day horror story.

Again, I'm referring to quality of life as a whole rather than just the ability to sustain the quantity of the population.  Mass starvation has been supplanted by different challenges in an increasingly prosperous China.

The trend for most nations is that as overall wealth increases, population growth falls off (because as the cost of raising kids skyrockets in developed nations people voluntarily choose to have less children).

For many developed countries the looming problem is not the size of the population, but the increasing age of it.
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CDP45

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Re: Is Overpopulation Really A Problem?
« Reply #49 on: December 09, 2013, 07:27:22 PM »
Uhm what about the Wikipedia data I posted that shows the human population will be in decline in the next few decades? What about the Washington post article that reviews UN and other NGO research that shows extreme poverty should be eliminated within 20 years?

My take is those who disregard these facts have the ulterior motive to sow fear either to generate contributions to their wasteful "charities" or to support government human rights abuses.

To the vast majority of people on this planet, let alone the USA, overpopulation is a myth.

You mentioned two predictions, then talked about "these facts." Are you calling the predictions facts and using them to support a claim that overpopulation is a myth?

There are many facts complied at those washington post links, but here are the main two of my claim that yes overpopulation is a myth:

Fact 1: Human population growth has been slowing for over 60 years.
Fact 2: Between 1990 and 2010, the share of the population of the developing world living in extreme poverty (under $1.25 a day) was cut in half.
See The Economist:
http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21578643-world-has-astonishing-chance-take-billion-people-out-extreme-poverty-2030-not?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/im/notalwayswithus

Yes it is difficult to let go of our stereotypes and ideologies, but that's why we're here at MMM, to challenge erroneous conventional thinking.