What could possibly go right? We can notice the community solutions growing among the marginalized – be they youth, poor, people of color – and lift them up as a more prosperous way to live.
Given a vote, would not humanity choose a living planet over a colonized one? We stand at the juncture.
So while as individuals, as consumers, as parents or as non-parents, we agonize and sermonize over our own and others’ lifestyle choices, the oil companies will keep lobbying, and the GDP and emissions lines will keep tracking upwards until we reach a point of reckoning when the size of the human population or how many children anyone has will be the last of our concerns.
Discussion about climate disruption and mass extinction rarely mention human population as a significant factor in exacerbating those problems. In the last ~100 years, the human population has increased dramatically as shown in Figures 1 and 2. The global human population, as of 2019, was 7.7 billion and climbing. At this point, experts are estimating a global human population of ~10 billion by 2050.
I’d like to have devoted more time to this issue, and perhaps to have reflected further on population issues more generally but with this fairly brief response only to a few of Dr O’Sullivan’s specific points I propose to wrap things up on the population front from the Small Farm Future end.
Poor old Malthus. He has had a bad reputation ever since he predicted, towards the end of the 18th century, that over-population would lead to famine and then to social collapse.
As resources become scarce, A New Reality uses a pattern seen in nature – decelerating growth in the second part of the Sigmoid Curve – to display a shift that must happen in order for human kind to survive, referred to as Epoch B. In Epoch B, people recognize the limited nature of resources and human values adjust toward equilibrium, balance and consensus – interdependence.
This World Population Day, humans number in the vicinity of 7.5 to 7.6 billion individuals. Can the Earth support this many people indefinitely? What will happen if we do nothing to manage future population growth and total resource use?
My question isn’t a rhetorical one intended to suggest that human population levels aren’t a problem. I don’t doubt they are. But it seems to me much less clear than a lot of people seem to think exactly what kind of problem they are, and what – if anything – could or should be done about it
I propose the establishment of a United Nations Framework Convention on Population Growth –one akin to the Paris Agreement for climate change with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in pursuit of a sustainable population in every country.
Anyway, I have now read Dorling’s book and I want to share a few thoughts about it. They’re not in the form of a comprehensive warts-and-all review – rather, I want to highlight five themes of interest to me that anticipate some future posts, on which I think Dorling has thought-provoking things to say.
So overpopulation is a real problem. But if we don’t overthrow capitalism, Mother Nature is going to solve the overpopulation problem in a hurry, but in a most unpleasant manner. That’s why I don’t concern myself much with the population problem. I don’t mean to ignore it. But I think its very much a secondary driver compared to capitalism.