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Peak population and Generation X

Alex Steffen, WorldChanging
… Put another way, you might say that the birth of Generation X (which more or less book-ends those years) was the beginning of our planet’s era of peak human population.

It’s easy to get blase about demographics; big, abstract numbers thought about over numbing time-periods, and recounted by people who love statistics. It would be a mistake,

however, to fail to see peak population as a hugely important insight, because when we know that we are riding a wave of increasing numbers (and increasing longevity) that will crest sometime after the middle of this century, we can also see that

1) The longer population growth rates remain high, the more total people there will be on the planet when we reach peak population, so one of our biggest goals ought to be seeing to it by every ethical means possible that the wave of population growth crests sooner rather than later.

2) If we are successful in reaching peak population sooner, at a lower number of people, rather than later with more people, we will be much more able to confront the myriad interlocking crises we face — a comparatively less crowded planet is an easier planet on which to build a bright green future.

3) Since we know the single best way of bringing down high birth rates is to empower women by giving them access to reproductive health choices (including contraception and abortion), education, economic opportunities, and legal protection of their rights, empowering women ought to be one of our highest priorities. (As Kim Stanley Robinson puts it, empowering women is the best climate change technology.)

4) Our other main task is to preserve natural systems and transform human economies in order to best withstand this wave of human beings, avoid catastrophe and leave behind as intact a world as we can — to save the parts (including not just biodiversity but also the diversity of human cultures and histories) so that future generations have as many options as possible.

5) Our best hopes for both avoiding catastrophe and preserving our heritage all hinge on our actions over roughly the next two decades.
(29 November 2008)

Not Just Peak Oil, But “Peak Hierarchy,” Too?

David Bollier, OnTheCommons
Can the economic crisis be traced to large, hierarchical institutions that are dysfunctional in an open, networked environment?

Most of us have heard about the impending arrival of “peak oil,” after which oil supplies will inexorably dwindle, causing all sorts of havoc as societies try to cope and remake themselves. But my friend Michel Bauwens of the Peer to Peer Foundation, recently suggested that we may be approaching another inflection point of equal or greater significance, if we have not already – the arrival of “peak hierarchy.” By this, he meant the time at which distributed organizations become stronger and more versatile than centralized hierarchies.

Traditionalists scoff at the idea that big, familiar institutions are vulnerable. But the events of the past two months might well be taken as a warning of disruptions to come. The fall of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the bailout of AIG and Citicorp, and the impending bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler – and not to mention troubles at dozens of lesser-known but important corporations – might be seen as different aspects of the same financial crisis. But it may make equal or better sense to see the current turmoil as evidence of structural deficiencies of large institutions.
(4 December 2008)
Suggested by Big Gav.

Chris Martenson on the current financial crisis
(text and audio)
Jason Bradford, Reality Report Global Public Media
Today’s guest is scientist and financial expert Chris Martenson, here toexplain how the financial crisis is a predictable outcome of a money systemrequiring exponential growth on a finite planet. Learn more
(6 October 2008)