A Human Population Incubus
Coming out of the recession of 2008 you continue to to hear from our leaders about the desirability of growing the economy. This involves a growth in human numbers no matter how much people pretend otherwise.
Capitalistic economic theory is predicated upon infinite growth on a finite planet. This is of course a logical impossibility given the science of ecological support systems as we understand them. Current human numbers are over seven billion and projected to rise to over nine billion people by the year 2050.
Recently I was watching a Netflix documentary about the future of energy. The show was talking about the need for us to expand our energy production to meet the needs of this projected population growth in spite of the problems we are having with expanding fossil fuel production and the damage they are causing the planet.
No where in the series was there any questioning of the wisdom of the assumption that we were going to continue to grow our numbers. Nor did there seem to be any awareness of the fact that the current population of seven billion people would not be possible without fossil fuels in the first place.
This is in fact the crux of the problem. If fossil fuels are peaking, and most experts think they have, or are about to peak in production, then expanding human numbers, and the human economic system of growth are impossible without these fuels. There is a great book on this subject by Heinburg titled "The End of Growth" that addresses this very issue.
The last time humans lived mostly on sunshine alone was in the year 1800 when there was only one billion people. By sunshine I mean mostly plants and animals, human and animal power, wind, and water. The only reason human numbers like seven billion are even possible is because of the concentrated power of fossil fuels and technology. Even our fertilizer is made using oil.
It is my belief that human numbers are going to crash when these concentrated energy fuels begin to decline in production, as they must if peak oil is correct. It is not a question of if, but when.
The best humanitarian efforts by secular society are totally misplaced given the relentless mathematics of this equation. By this I mean our food aid, our attempts to reduce the death rate in the third world by introducing modern medicine, without any corresponding effort to lower the birthrate, are doomed to fail given the ensuing increase in the population there when we do these things.
While it may seem cruel and hardhearted of me to say this, but I believe we should stop these humanitarian efforts period.
While millions may die we will save billions from from excruciatingly painful deaths from starvation and disease later on. It is a moral calculus of compassion not heartlessness to stop facilitating human population growth now. This include promoting birth control, abortion, and family planning as well.
One of the reasons I have come to this conclusion is that people often say to me, we will never be able to get people to control their numbers voluntarily. They may be right, but the one thing we know of that has always controlled the human population throughout history has been food production. When and where the food production was inadequate, famine stalked the land, and people died off until a new equilibrium was reached.
My daughter was horrified by my proposition that we should artificially limit food production to a predetermined amount and let people perish who did not have food. She asked me how I proposed who should get the food, and who would not? My answer did not satisfy her very much, but I suggested those who could not afford food, would not get it. I was serious.
Recently I wrote a satirical piece on how we could grow the human population to meet the needs of endless growth of resource capitalism, so I have attached it to the end of this article to show you what I mean.
Step One: Have everybody convert to vegetarianism, so we could stop growing food for meat animals, and have humans eat the food directly, which is more efficient. This step would allow human numbers to expand to at least 15 billion given no other serious problems?
Step Two: Have everyone convert to vegan-ism so we could get rid of the need for dairy animals, and thus be able to grow even more food for people. This would allow us to expand to 20 plus billion people potentially.
Step Three: Feed everybody only algae and algae derived food products which would even be more efficient, and allow humans numbers to expand to over 50 billion. Capitalist heaven, not quite, but almost.
Step Four: Genetically engineer everyone to only be about three tall. This would cut consumption, allowing human numbers to expand to over 100 billion. Capitalist heaven would have arrived. Yahoo!!!
You might object at this point that I have overdone it, I have overstated my case! But I object, it is not my case to make.
Option A: We can continue as we have, as we are now, and there will be consequences. We will not like the outcome. If we can not control our numbers voluntarily nature will do it for us in some very unpleasant ways.
Option B: Refusing to produce more food, we will do nature's work for her, and reduce the greater unpleasantness to come, than if we fight her, and put off the reality until a future day.
Option C: Produce more food and continue to allow human numbers to expand so the capitalist can grow the economy and continue to make a profit on their investment. Of the three the capitalist model is the the most ridiculous, I think, but it isn't up to me. These are the potential roads we can go down.
I would however suggest one thing. The source code for the problem is Jude o-Christianity. Regardless of you having a religious affiliation or not, even if you are an atheist, we all are infected with the meme of living in an humanocentric universe. We believe in the sanctity and priority of human life. The whole biosphere of the planet and all other life forms are at our disposal to use and do with what we will. This is built into our philosophy and our economics. Until this disastrous meme is gotten rid of and replaced with a more correct meme based upon science, and the scientific method, we are doomed as a species. Magical thinking will prevails, unless we awake from our religious trance, grow up as a species, and deal with the physical world as it is.
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