Population Control

Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
OK, I Have just finished watching the new Utopia on Amazon. I should say I loved the original, and I think the remake is also superb.

Now - sorry, but this whole question is a spoiler really - the plot revolves around a plan to forcibly steralise the entire population, with a few exceptions, to serve the purpose of reducing the population of humanity, in the aim of saving the earth.

Now I should point out that I do not support the approach taken in the series. The idea of deliberately and secretly steralising the population is not one I would support.

But also, they make a very good argument. That we will not reduce our population or resource usage by ourselves. That population control is one very important part of environmental concern. That - it has to be said - reducing the western population - the US, and Europe in particular - would be a positive move towards reducing the impact of humanity on the planet.

So how could we do this? Should we do this? Is there a way of achieving the aim in Utopia - save the planet by redction of the population - that is not so coercive and underhand.

I don't have answers - I do think there is a viable discussion here. Because some part of me leans towards this forced steralisation. And most of me doesn't.
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Comments

  • That we will not reduce our population or resource usage by ourselves.

    The below-replacement birth rates in most wealthy countries suggests otherwise.

    If you did feel the need to further reduce birth rates you could improve access to contraception, in particular you could make contraceptive implants part of growing up, like vaccinations, cutting a lot of accidental pregnancies. They wouldn't need to be compulsory, just opt-out rather than opt-in. You could be encouraging discussions about how much better you can provide for one child, or how being a good aunt or uncle is just as valuable as being a good parent. There is a heck of a lot that could be done by "nudges" and propaganda long before you get near compulsion.
  • It seems like sterilizing nearly the entire population would result in a catastrophe for today's young people, as there would be no one to support them when they get old.
  • @Schroedingers Cat

    A duckduckgo on "Simon-Ehrlich wager" may be of interest.

    I don't know if things have gotten worse since Simon won that bet in 1990. Personally, I tend to think that neo-malthusians today are just lazily rehashing trendy themes from the 1970s( when it was predicted that all of India was gonna starve to death within a few years), but I can't really prove that.
  • That we will not reduce our population or resource usage by ourselves.

    The below-replacement birth rates in most wealthy countries suggests otherwise.

    South Korea went on a population-reduction kick in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, under a succession of right-wing dictators. For a while, US military vans were used to provide mobile abortion facilities to remote areas, and Koreans have told me about getting instructions from their teachers to go home and tell their parents things like "If you love me, why do you need another child?"

    Around the early 2000s, it was decided that the population was too low, so the government reversed course. Not sure of all the details, except that the laws against abortion were supposed to start being enforced again.

  • Worldwide Population Growth is already slowing. 50 years ago, the growth rate was 2.2% per year. Now it is 1.05% (source: ourworldindata.org). Just like any virus, once we get below 1.00%, we hit a plateau.

    Studies of ancient Native American civilizations have shown that once they reached the level of population that the environment could sustain they would stabilize. The same is happening on a global level now.

  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Worldwide Population Growth is already slowing. 50 years ago, the growth rate was 2.2% per year. Now it is 1.05% (source: ourworldindata.org). Just like any virus, once we get below 1.00%, we hit a plateau.

    Studies of ancient Native American civilizations have shown that once they reached the level of population that the environment could sustain they would stabilize. The same is happening on a global level now.

    Not quite. 1% growth means that the population each year is 1.01 times the previous year’s total, so still increasing.

    You have your % and coronavirus R-number in a muddle, I think. Not altogether surprising in these days, when we are all ruled by numbers.

  • Besides the immoral nature of sterilizing people against their will, AND the absolute certainty that someone is going to use that to further their political/hate-filled/whatever ends, there's the plain fact that if you do that to a large enough percentage of the population, you lose biological diversity. Which is never a good idea.

    But as others have pointed out upthread, there is a huge, huge ways to go before we even need to start thinking about this crap. Learning to be less greedy and wasteful is a big part of it. Providing free and accessible birth control is another huge part of it. And it would help tremendously if we could find a way to rethink our societies so that children are no longer a primary safety-net for aging people. Even I, in my North American privilege, feel a bit worried at the fact that I have only one son, who may conceivably be called to work thousands of miles away from me, and then who's going to help me bring in the new mattress/get to the doctor's/mow the grass/paint the cat/etc when I'm disabled enough that I cannot do it myself, and cannot afford to pay someone to do it for me?
  • Cameron wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Worldwide Population Growth is already slowing. 50 years ago, the growth rate was 2.2% per year. Now it is 1.05% (source: ourworldindata.org). Just like any virus, once we get below 1.00%, we hit a plateau.

    Studies of ancient Native American civilizations have shown that once they reached the level of population that the environment could sustain they would stabilize. The same is happening on a global level now.

    Not quite. 1% growth means that the population each year is 1.01 times the previous year’s total, so still increasing.

    You have your % and coronavirus R-number in a muddle, I think. Not altogether surprising in these days, when we are all ruled by numbers.

    Yes, but when we get to 0.99% we will in negative growth rate.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    No - anything above 0% is a positive growth rate. If you start with 1,000,000 people and have an annual growth rate of 0.99%, that means that in one year you'll have 1,000,000x1.0099 = 1,009,900 people, which is positive growth.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Yes, but when we get to 0.99% we will in negative growth rate.
    R=0.99 (no %) means that for every one person infected a hundred people will get it eventually. So if 1% of the population are currently infected, then at R=0.99 everyone will get it sooner or later. We want R well below 1.

  • I thought I had deleted the above comment.
  • LC, your cat needs painting? 🤔
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Yes, but when we get to 0.99% we will in negative growth rate.
    R=0.99 (no %) means that for every one person infected a hundred people will get it eventually. So if 1% of the population are currently infected, then at R=0.99 everyone will get it sooner or later. We want R well below 1.

    I think it is actually a fair bit less than 100 that would get it, because you multiply by 0.99 at each cycle rather than progressing up to the effective R number. I used to know how to do the maths for that, but it was too long ago!

    It also becomes dampened by acquired immunity. The more people that have had it (at least recently) then the more likely that a transmission event runs into a non-susceptible person. That offsetting factor would increase with each infection cycle of 5-6 days, leading to the fact that with other things being equal (no change in controls / compliance) an R below one would continue to decline. For example, if 20% of people become infected, then a ‘starting R’ of 0.99 would change to 0.99*0.8 = 0.79... and so on.

    But you are right that we want R well below 1 - the lower it is, the faster the infection declines in the population and the less chance of rapid resurgence when people relax controls.

    This page from the Guardian has more on R, and has a rather grim tool at the bottom of the page which lets you play around with factors to see how infection progresses with various numbers.

  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Studies of ancient Native American civilizations have shown that once they reached the level of population that the environment could sustain they would stabilize. The same is happening on a global level now.

    Mathematical misunderstandings aside...

    ISTM that the question here is whether we think that
    A) population levels always stabilize at sustainable values for malthusian reasons (i.e. the excess die off) or
    B) population levels always stabilize at sustainable values because of something in human nature that makes people choose to have fewer children in response to indicators of environmental stress, or
    C) population levels don't always stabilize at sustainable values - that there is a real possibility of catastrophic environmental damage which needs political action to avert.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Cameron wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Yes, but when we get to 0.99% we will in negative growth rate.
    R=0.99 (no %) means that for every one person infected a hundred people will get it eventually.
    I think it is actually a fair bit less than 100 that would get it, because you multiply by 0.99 at each cycle rather than progressing up to the effective R number. I used to know how to do the maths for that, but it was too long ago!
    The maths is easy: the number of people who get it are 1 + (0.99) + (0.99)squared + (0.99)cubed + .... which is the sum of a power series, as this is, which adds up to 1/(1-R). Setting R = 0.99, this comes to 100. Better news is that if you set R to 0.98 it only comes to 50 (still half the population from a 1% start but that's a lot fewer people), and if you set it to 0.9 it comes to 10. You need to get it down to 0.5 to mean that the infection no more than doubles.
    You are however right to point out that once the virus has infected a significant proportion of the community herd immunity would start to dampen the spread so it wouldn't in practice reach 100% of the population.

  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    Just in case people missed it - I am not suggesting compulsary sterilisation as a viable or acceptable option. Just that the idea was presented in this way, and the series presents this as an unacceptable idea (that the heroes are fighting against).

    But also, the principles they present do make one think. The gentle slowing of population growth in some places might be enough to reduce our resource consumption in the next few hundred years or so.

    Which is, of course, far too late. And as the example in Korea above shows, most individual countries want to retain their population. Using population control to significantly reduce resource consumption in the developed world would require pretty much no children. And yes, this does present major problems as people age.

    Personally I think there are other approaches. Also politically challenging. And I see the problem without having a godo solution. I do find the SF solutions always interesting as presented - because they make me think.
  • SchroedingersCat:
    OK, I Have just finished watching the new Utopia on Amazon. I should say I loved the original, and I think the remake is also superb.
    To we have to choose our subject based on what we want to puff on Netflix. Personally I found the original series revolting in terms of sadistic violence and I'm not that soft.
    So how could we do this? Should we do this? Is there a way of achieving the aim in Utopia - save the planet by reduction of the population - that is not so coercive and underhand.
    Well again I'm not interested in the series but the aim is understandable.

    In my worse moments I used to imagine a pandemic that took out everybody over 75. I'm 74. And then came COVID! And I think this is a problem, because I recognise that many people, because I'm one, can be tempted towards inhuman solutions, which is why we have to be careful playing with these ideas. There is a receptive audience out there, once it's made respectable to advocate draconian views.

    You'll do it by levelling affluence across the world. To which the obvious reply is: Fat chance of that. Well yes, there is a definitely non-negligible chance that no acceptable solution will be found, so we'll end up with a non-acceptable one. I know of no other approach.
  • Dafyd wrote: »
    Cameron wrote: »
    Dafyd wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Yes, but when we get to 0.99% we will in negative growth rate.
    R=0.99 (no %) means that for every one person infected a hundred people will get it eventually.
    I think it is actually a fair bit less than 100 that would get it, because you multiply by 0.99 at each cycle rather than progressing up to the effective R number. I used to know how to do the maths for that, but it was too long ago!
    The maths is easy: the number of people who get it are 1 + (0.99) + (0.99)squared + (0.99)cubed + .... which is the sum of a power series, as this is, which adds up to 1/(1-R). Setting R = 0.99, this comes to 100. Better news is that if you set R to 0.98 it only comes to 50 (still half the population from a 1% start but that's a lot fewer people), and if you set it to 0.9 it comes to 10. You need to get it down to 0.5 to mean that the infection no more than doubles.
    You are however right to point out that once the virus has infected a significant proportion of the community herd immunity would start to dampen the spread so it wouldn't in practice reach 100% of the population.

    Thanks so much for correcting my rusty maths memory.

    Current R in Scotland is thought to be around 0.9. With new restrictions just rolled out I am hopeful that we might even get it lower...
  • Most arguments for population control seem to come from the minority of the earths population that uses a massively disproportionate amount of the earths resources, telling those who tread lightest to have fewer children.
    Something about it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    edited November 2020
    Russ wrote: »
    <snip>
    ISTM that the question here is whether we think that
    a) population levels always stabilize at sustainable values for malthusian reasons (i.e. the excess die off) or
    b) population levels always stabilize at sustainable values because of something in human nature that makes people choose to have fewer children in response to indicators of environmental stress, or
    c) population levels don't always stabilize at sustainable values - that there is a real possibility of catastrophic environmental damage which needs political action to avert.
    …or
    d) population levels stabilise at sustainable values when a large enough proportion of the population can be reasonably confident (i) that their children will survive into adulthood, and (ii) that they can provide for their old age in a way that isn’t dependent on having enough children.
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Circus Host, 8th Day Host
    And (iii) when women are given more choices about their own lives.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    True that!
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Amen!
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    /slight tangent alert/

    As a whimsical aside to comments regarding women, have you noticed how quite a number of the more civilised (IMHO) countries in the developed world have female Prime Ministers or similar?

    Scotland, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, and Iceland spring to mind, but I expect there are more.

    (ETA that I don't see Thatcher or May as suitable role models, though...)

  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Merry Vole wrote: »
    LC, your cat needs painting? 🤔

    The only cat I’m allowed to have, due to allergies...

    Actually, I had a vague curiosity about who might actually notice that. :mrgreen:
  • I noticed, but thought it was a neat hybrid precis of a bunch of minor domestic headaches.
  • Heheh.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    Anteater wrote: »
    SchroedingersCat:
    OK, I Have just finished watching the new Utopia on Amazon. I should say I loved the original, and I think the remake is also superb.
    To we have to choose our subject based on what we want to puff on Netflix. Personally I found the original series revolting in terms of sadistic violence and I'm not that soft.

    No, we don't have to. But I find it is useful to explain (sometimes) why I am asking a question - where it comes from. And yes, the violence is extreme. That is part of the point of the series. And I see some of that acceptance of the end of humanity in some people in the environmental movement - like Roger Hallam. So I think the series reflects some interesting aspects of society, and some that I do find disturbing.

    Another long-term direction is education. The more educated women are, the smaller their families (that has been shown to be the case, but also, educating women is a good thing in itself). So to reduce the population longer term, invest in womens education.

    Of course, this will not happen, because it is a good thing.

  • My favorite author raises population control in her science fiction, in her characteristically tangential manner.

    I tend to the view that the problem of overpopulation is a chimera. If there is a problem, and climate change suggests that, it is uneven consumption/ over consumption by some populations. Its the fundamentally exploitative nature of trade. I strongly suspect that sooner or later we will get ours, and I hope I'm not around to see it.
  • Jane RJane R Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Conflating two issues here: first, population growth (which is being driven mainly by immigration in affluent Western countries; reproduction is at or below replacement level) and second, consumerism/overconsumption. Solving the first problem is not going to help with the second.

    As several people have already remarked, education for women and greater control over their own lives is a very effective method of lowering the birth rate. There are a few women who really love bearing and looking after children and want to have as many as possible, but there are far more who don't want any at all, or who find the experience of childbirth so traumatic that once is more than enough. And we don't *have* to eat meat every day or buy lots of shiny things... although the people who make vast sums of money out of the way the economy works now would have it otherwise.

    Oh, and what Alan29 said. Interesting how these science fiction writers (except for a few like Bujold and Tepper) focus on sterilising the women as a means of population control. You'd think at least a few of them would be able to imagine a dystopia where the men were all castrated (except for a select few kept for breeding).
  • Jane R wrote: »
    Conflating two issues here: first, population growth (which is being driven mainly by immigration in affluent Western countries; reproduction is at or below replacement level) and second, consumerism/overconsumption. Solving the first problem is not going to help with the second.

    As several people have already remarked, education for women and greater control over their own lives is a very effective method of lowering the birth rate. There are a few women who really love bearing and looking after children and want to have as many as possible, but there are far more who don't want any at all, or who find the experience of childbirth so traumatic that once is more than enough. And we don't *have* to eat meat every day or buy lots of shiny things... although the people who make vast sums of money out of the way the economy works now would have it otherwise.

    Oh, and what Alan29 said. Interesting how these science fiction writers (except for a few like Bujold and Tepper) focus on sterilising the women as a means of population control. You'd think at least a few of them would be able to imagine a dystopia where the men were all castrated (except for a select few kept for breeding).

    The snip would be less startling than castration!

    Freeze their sperm for breeding, then give the snip.

  • Jane R wrote: »
    Conflating two issues here: first, population growth (which is being driven mainly by immigration in affluent Western countries; reproduction is at or below replacement level) and second, consumerism/overconsumption. Solving the first problem is not going to help with the second.

    As several people have already remarked, education for women and greater control over their own lives is a very effective method of lowering the birth rate. There are a few women who really love bearing and looking after children and want to have as many as possible, but there are far more who don't want any at all, or who find the experience of childbirth so traumatic that once is more than enough. And we don't *have* to eat meat every day or buy lots of shiny things... although the people who make vast sums of money out of the way the economy works now would have it otherwise.

    Oh, and what Alan29 said. Interesting how these science fiction writers (except for a few like Bujold and Tepper) focus on sterilising the women as a means of population control. You'd think at least a few of them would be able to imagine a dystopia where the men were all castrated (except for a select few kept for breeding).

    I think the issue, with a nod to Dr Strangelove, is that a smaller number of men (or one Genghis Khan) can father an extremely large number of children. Pregnancy and childbirth put a much lower cap on the number of children. Even the most prolific mothers might have at most 30 children in their life, over the space of 25 years. A man could easily father that many children in a few months. Thus controlling female fertility has a much greater impact on birth rates.
  • And (iii) when women are given more choices about their own lives.

    This is probably the most important thing. And not just for population control. But for humanity.

    I'd also add to (iii), that societal choices for what to fund impacts greatly on this. Things like childcare funding, education and career, nature of family and legal regulation of family structures.
  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Jane R wrote: »
    Oh, and what Alan29 said. Interesting how these science fiction writers (except for a few like Bujold and Tepper) focus on sterilising the women as a means of population control. You'd think at least a few of them would be able to imagine a dystopia where the men were all castrated (except for a select few kept for breeding).

    If you want to sterilize anyone as a method of population control, then sterilizing women just works better. The number of children that each fertile woman can produce is limited to an average of about one a year, max, whereas Genghis Khan was said to have personally sired thousands of children.

    ETA: I see @Arethosemyfeet beat me to it :smile:
  • Jane R wrote: »
    Oh, and what Alan29 said. Interesting how these science fiction writers (except for a few like Bujold and Tepper) focus on sterilising the women as a means of population control. You'd think at least a few of them would be able to imagine a dystopia where the men were all castrated (except for a select few kept for breeding).

    If you want to sterilize anyone as a method of population control, then sterilizing women just works better. The number of children that each fertile woman can produce is limited to an average of about one a year, max, whereas Genghis Khan was said to have personally sired thousands of children.

    ETA: I see @Arethosemyfeet beat me to it :smile:

    I'm amused that we both seized on the same semi-relevant historical factoid.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    One in ten men in the former Mongol Empire (ie the Middle East, the Silk Road, and China) are direct male line heirs of Genghis Khan.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    Interestingly, the Utopia solution seemed to cover both male and female. Or, at least, the control was to be applied across the board.

    As to whether it would work - well there are better options, like fairer resource distribution and allocation. But the problem - real world problem as well as SF problem - is that these approaches are not happening. IN fact, quite the opposite. WHich is why the more dramatic solution seems ot have some logic behind it.

    Unless someone can explain how we change to become socialist as a world when all of the pressure is the other way? And do son i na time frame that makes sense?
  • But the problem - real world problem as well as SF problem - is that these approaches are not happening. IN fact, quite the opposite. WHich is why the more dramatic solution seems ot have some logic behind it.

    Except that development is happening, and birth rates are going down. Here is India, for example. As remarked earlier, population growth in all western countries is driven by immigration. Births per woman is closer to 1.75 in the US, UK, and EU. Doing things to Western Europe's birth rate isn't the solution for population growth, because the growing part of the population is born elsewhere.

    Continued development, better opportunities and education for women, and you'll see the birth rates continue to fall.


  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    As remarked earlier, population growth in all western countries is driven by immigration. Births per woman is closer to 1.75 in the US, UK, and EU.

    Let's be explicit about what this means. If we turn off immigration (and in a world where you can live a reasonable life in all countries, you'd expect net immigration to be close to zero), then the population of Western Europe and the US will fall, by about 12% per generation*. If we turn off immigration, then the UK's 66 million people falls to less than 60 million in 30 years.

    That's sustainable in the medium term. We can adjust society to function with fewer younger people. We couldn't adjust to a much more rapid decrease in the supply of younger people.

    *Yes, this assumes there's no increase in longevity. From the point of view of society, increases in longevity that don't include an increase in the working lifespan are a challenge. "Working lifespan" here generally means the ability to live and function independently, rather than necessarily having a full-time job. If the average person were to get frail and feeble at age 60, and then continue to live requiring care for another 40 years, society would look very different.
  • edited November 2020
    Jane R wrote: »
    Oh, and what Alan29 said. Interesting how these science fiction writers (except for a few like Bujold and Tepper) focus on sterilising the women as a means of population control. You'd think at least a few of them would be able to imagine a dystopia where the men were all castrated (except for a select few kept for breeding).

    If you want to sterilize anyone as a method of population control, then sterilizing women just works better. The number of children that each fertile woman can produce is limited to an average of about one a year, max, whereas Genghis Khan was said to have personally sired thousands of children.

    ETA: I see @Arethosemyfeet beat me to it :smile:
    The possibility of sterilization can be brought to an extreme and I think is offensive in general, and specifically when applied to only biological women, very sexist. So I'll provide a link is to a wikipedia article about a film to make the point, which does not guarantee it is isn't offensive and not NSFW: Gayn*gg*rs from Outer Space. I mean why sterilize if you can exterminate?

    Fixed URL coding error. BroJames, Purgatory Host
  • I was interested to see some people mentioning Covid. It has occurred to me that, had the virus presented differently, we could easily be facing a situation where young children were disproportionately affected and dying. And, until then, I thought 'The Children of Men' was complete and utter fiction....
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Jane R wrote: »
    Conflating two issues here: first, population growth (which is being driven mainly by immigration in affluent Western countries; reproduction is at or below replacement level) and second, consumerism/overconsumption. Solving the first problem is not going to help with the second.

    And conversely, the second doesn't solve the first. It doesn't matter how consumerist or otherwise society is - if the long-term average population growth rate isn't zero then (as long as we've only one planet - more SF ) the human race is in trouble.

    You put the questions in the right order.

    Bringing the long-term rate of growth down to zero (and equally increasing it to zero if it looks like staying negative) may be easy enough to do in an ethical way. Some seem to think it is).

    Then we can ask the secondary question of whether it's better to have a stable population that's higher or lower than present levels.

    But we need to be living sustainably in any case.
  • The fewer people there are in the population, the more resources each individual can consume while remaining sustainable. So let’s reduce the population to a point where everyone can have as much as they like without causing major climate change.
  • The fewer people there are in the population, the more resources each individual can consume while remaining sustainable. So let’s reduce the population to a point where everyone can have as much as they like without causing major climate change.

    Or just terraform and colonise Mars and Venus. Solutions that aren't actually realistically achievable (what are you going to do? Randomly kill half the population? Forced sterilisation? Plague?) aren't solutions.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    That is the point. And @Leorning Cniht I know that education is happening - those seolutions are starting (and starting to reduce the population growth). What isn't happening is a better distribution of resources across those who are still here. In fact, the UK and the US have pursued for the last few years distribution of the resources from the poor to the wealthy.

    Interestingly - to return to non-fiction - I have just finished The World Without Work (Daniel Susskind). In which he explores the need to find a means of distributing resources (wealth) without it being work based. His reasoning is different, but he also sees a need for a UBI, to provide for all people, paid for by taxing the very wealthy.

    OK, a different scenario, but a need to equalise resource usage is becoming a reality, in a world where the 1% are actually drawing all of the resources.
  • Chorister wrote: »
    I was interested to see some people mentioning Covid. It has occurred to me that, had the virus presented differently, we could easily be facing a situation where young children were disproportionately affected and dying. And, until then, I thought 'The Children of Men' was complete and utter fiction....

    The Spanish flu disproportionately affected the under-40s. This was probably because there was a mild, but highly contagious, flu in the 1870s, and those who had had it were immune to the more vicious Spanish flu.
  • OK, a different scenario, but a need to equalise resource usage is becoming a reality, in a world where the 1% are actually drawing all of the resources.
    The 1% are eating all the food? Driving all the cars?
  • Marvin the MartianMarvin the Martian Admin Emeritus
    edited November 2020
    Dave W wrote: »
    OK, a different scenario, but a need to equalise resource usage is becoming a reality, in a world where the 1% are actually drawing all of the resources.
    The 1% are eating all the food? Driving all the cars?

    Of course not. Nor are they responsible for buying (and therefore stimulating production of) the vast majority of goods that get shipped all round the world (which is a far more significant contributor to climate change than private car usage). The 1% generally isn’t chopping down the rainforests either, unless equatorial farmers earn a lot more than I’d been led to believe. SC is making an ideological point that is only tangentially related to the thread subject at best.

    Not least because sharing resources equally around the globe wouldn’t actually reduce the amount of resources being consumed. As far as climate change goes 1 ton of CO2 in the atmosphere is 1 ton of CO2 in the atmosphere, whether it’s put there by one person or a hundred.

    This hijacking of the issue by those who want to achieve unrelated political goals is why so many people dismiss climate change as a politically-motivated attack on our way of life rather than a genuine problem that we need to confront.
  • See, I'm wondering whether the number of people on the planet is a problem at all. It's not argued in this thread, just assumed. My earlier post talked about the real problem being climate change. I didn't conflate the issues. I posited that the so-called overpopulation problem is really about the way we use resources.

  • Simon Toad wrote: »
    See, I'm wondering whether the number of people on the planet is a problem at all. It's not argued in this thread, just assumed. My earlier post talked about the real problem being climate change. I didn't conflate the issues. I posited that the so-called overpopulation problem is really about the way we use resources.

    If you store people in warehouses and feed them protein pills, you can probably accommodate more people than if we're all driving ourselves hundreds of miles a day in big heavy cars with 6 litre V8 engines, and grilling steaks.

    I'm not sure it's fair to categorize someone's preference for the second rather than the first as a "resource use problem". If you've got fewer people, resources are less of a problem.
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