Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Overpopulation is a myth

Interesting video discussing some key points around population, published by the website called "Overpopulation is a myth"

On the same subject, the Norwegian economist Erik S. Reinert discussed that a large population is only a problem when a nation is producing only agriculture or raw materials. Once a nation has an industrialized economy, a growing population is a good thing and is needed to maintain the standard of living.

An interesting footnote, according to me personally, is that overpopulation would be a problem, that is why it is called overpopulation. But the question is whether the world is overpopulated at the moment or if we are evolving towards a population that the world would not be able to sustain.

These are the questions that are in need to be answered and personally I do share the opinion of the website "Overpopulation is a myth": at this moment the world is not overpopulated and the demographic trend is not evolving into a number that would become too large.

In the developed world, we are currently facing the greying of Europe, creating difficulties in maintaining our welfare state system, worldwide there is still enough food produced to feed the whole population, ...

Today, the Belgian newssite 'VRT' reported that according to the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) two-yearly "Living Planet Report", the Belgians have one of the world's largest ecological footprint. This is a real problem that we are facing, but it is not created by a so-called 'overpopulation', it is due to the way that we use our resources.

Instead of looking at the number of people that we have share our planet with, it is better to have a critical review of the way that we are living.



  1. Problems that I see with this video:

    Claim: Every family on earth can have a house and a yard and all squeeze together into the area of Texas.

    My response: This is a useless piece of information because it in no way takes into account the amount of land needed to grow the food for these people, or the resources required to support every aspect of their life: wood, fossile fuels, water, rare metals for their cell-phones etc. etc. (Imagine an endless expanse of houses and yards covering the entirety of texas. No roads. No farm land. No telephone poles. No post offices. No schools. Just houses and yards. I personally find this mental image hilarious.)

    Claim: Many societies are facing a very real danger: Extinction. (Because their birth rate is below replacement levels.)

    My response: That word you keep using. I do not think it means what you think it means. (If the Japanese die out that would be terrible, but that. is. not. extinction.)

    Claim: Modern farming methods have made it possible to feed the whole world.

    My response: Modern farming methods (as well as animal-raising methods) are an ecological disaster. Modern farming methods are only possible because of fossil fuels: a non-renewable resource that we will eventually out of.

    Claim: Early humans had a terrible time finding food and shelter etc. etc. They were poor. Only when our population expanded and we could form societies did our standard of living increase.

    My response: Anthropology says you're wrong. Pre-modern humans were in many cases better nourished and had more lesure time than many modern humans. This is still true for many non-modern indigenous people. The creators of these videos are comparing a modern "standard of living" to what people had thousands of years ago and saying "Look! They don't have money. That means they fit the definition of poor. That means there was always poverty!" Does a tribe that lives in the amazon rainforest with no economy and no televisions still qualify as "poor" even when they are well-fed, have much lower levels of stress, much lower levels of chronic disease, and more free time? Just because a society doesn't have a high "standard of living" as people from another country define it doesn't mean they are miserable and "poor". The whole "pre-historic people were miserable and hungry and cold all the time" line of thinking actually makes me kind of angry because it just isn't true.

  2. It's good that the birth-rate is slowing down. As for evidence that we are over-populated, well I guess that depends on how you look at it. A huge factor in our population surge (which started around the time of the industrial revolution) is the use of fossil fuels. They are incredibly energy dense and are used for everything from transportation to growing food (synthetic fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides are all derived from fossil fuels) to the manufacture of infrastructure itself. Almost every aspect of our entire society depends on fossil fuels in some form. Billions of people wouldn't exist without them. But they are non-renewable, which means we will eventually run out. So in my opinion, because all these people are here only because of this resource, we are over-populated. We can support all these people for now, but soon we may not be able to do so. So I guess it just depends on how you define "overpopulated" and also if you believe other technologies can make up for the gap that fossil fuels will leave behind.

    Anyway, I'll just leave my argument at that and let you decide the rest yourself. "Overshoot" is a really good book even though it's a little old now (published 1980). "The Vegetarian Myth" was a really life-changing book for me. Not because I was a vegetarian or anything, but because it answered a lot of questions for me about human nature and how we should live on this planet. Beware though: as much as I loved it, it still has some stuff in it that's wrong. Keith makes some claims about certain things that turn out to not be true. (There are also some wishy-washy energy-guru stories in there.) But on the whole it's still really good. So just double-check stuff as you read. I found it helpful to mark all of the most interesting concepts and points with sticky-notes so I could flip back to them later.

    And as for "Endgame", it's super long. The two volumes ("The Problem of Civilization" and "Resistance") are over 900 pages together, and I started to get tired of Jensen's writing after a while. It's also a very, VERY radical book. So before you go out and read the whole thing, first finish Lierre Keith's book, then go to endgamethebook.org and read some of the excerpts to see if you like it.

  3. Very silly post. The way we are living is related to number of people that we have share our planet with. Not so hard to see.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...