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Author Topic: Would limiting population be the best solution for climate change and violence?  (Read 1283 times)

Offline thedoc

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asked the Naked Scientists:
   Mr. Smith and Staff,

Lovely decade long series of PodCast you all continually create, a big thank you all for your continue efforts. I just now heard you asking your listeners to submit scientific questions. Concerning Mother Earth's and it inhabits sudden global climate change problem: Scientifically, would't it be more of a logical, permanent and perhaps a faster solution to limit the stresses we are all placing on our one and only environment by limiting the amount of un born humans? This also seems it would be more logical a course of action now that computers are controlling the machines that manufacture the majority of man's needs and desires, thus less and less meaningful labor is requited by it humans. One last thought, it surely seems that many of the problems in the mid east would possibly automatically be solved if there were not so many testosterone filled young men with to much free time and nothing to occupy their thoughts other than making war against their neighbors. The above is perhaps an interesting subject to create entire podcast or two on?


What do you think?
« Last Edit: 13/10/2016 05:23:05 by _system »


 

Online alancalverd

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Most sentient beings either limit their reproduction to what the environment can sustain, or don't worry too much about dead babies. Humans, alas, do not have the intelligence to do the former and invest too much effort in reproduction to do the latter. The species is therefore doomed to extinction.

Which is a pity because not making babies is surely the easiest thing any animal can do, since it involves intentionally doing nothing.

But alas, politics and religion demand an ever-increasing and increasingly stressed population. Imagine if we all had plenty of food and space, and no worries. We wouldn't need more laws to restrict our activities, nor anyone to tell us that it will be all right in the next life as long as we suffer enough in this one.
 

Offline zx16

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We humans shouldn't be too gloomy about the future. We are the most amazing species ever evolved in Earth's history, far superior to anything that's gone before.

We have developed "mind", and "language" and "culture" and "civilisation" and above all, "science".  These achievements should not be lightly dismissed.  We may be the only beings in the Galaxy, or the whole Universe, to have them.

So, as for "limiting population", ie of human beings, I would say that in general, that's not a good thing.  What we need is more human beings, to spread out into the Universe. With this proviso - that the humans should be of excellent quality. That's to say, they must all be "scientists", either amateur or professional, like on this forum.

If the posters on this forum (even the mods) were running the Earth, wouldn't they make a better job of it, than our present politicians?

 
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Offline Semaphore

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Population growth is a disaster in the making, especially in India and Africa. The average family size in sub-Saharan Africa is 4.5 children which is unsustainable, and will lead to even more problems than exist already, which are substantial.
 
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Offline zx16

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Can't the population growth in Africa, be accommodated, by opening up land in Europe, for the Africans to come to?
 

Online alancalverd

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You can in principle fill every square inch of the globe with people, but they wouldn't have anything to eat or be particularly happy. What matters more, the number of humans on the planet, or the health and happiness of every human?

Making babies takes effort and causes misery. So why do it?

If you want to have less space and less food, by all means do so, but don't force others (including your own children) to share your misery.
« Last Edit: 20/10/2016 00:13:36 by alancalverd »
 

Offline zx16

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Making babies causes instant pleasure.  Possible long-term consequences don't get a look-in.  That's why the world's human population is now over 7 billion.

 

Online alancalverd

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Wrong. Sexual intercourse is pleasurable but it needn't always result in conception. Those who say it should, because god told them so, will rot in the hell of their own disgusting invention.
 

Offline syhprum

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Not all babies are the result a need for sexual pleasure if you are living by subsistence agriculture they can be a productive labour force from an early age and at a later age as a fighting force to defend your territory.
Better contraception is not the answer it is more efficient and less labour intensive agriculture and better resolution of territorial disputes.
Perhaps the next variety of sentient creatures after humans have become extinct will do things better!
 

Offline zx16

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You can in principle fill every square inch of the globe with people, but they wouldn't have anything to eat or be particularly happy. What matters more, the number of humans on the planet, or the health and happiness of every human?

The points you mention, are superbly addressed in one of my all-time favourite SF stories, Isaac Asimov's "2430".

In the story, humans have actually "filled the globe" - or at least the continental land-surface of it - with a "mighty population" of 15 trillion human beings. This figure has been scientifically calculated as the maximum that Earth can support.  All other animals and plants have been eliminated.  Except for "algae" in the oceans, which are efficiently farmed to make food for the humans to eat. The algae are in turn fed with human wastes and corpses, recycled by being put back into the oceans, in an never-ended cycle.

The humans live happy placid lives, free from war.  They eat, sleep, "carefully make love" (so as not imbalance the population), engage in scientific research, and have a nice time, until they peacefully end their days, by being reabsorbed into the algae soup.

I must confess to finding a certain allure in this.  Does it appeal to you, I wonder?



 

Offline Tim the Plumber

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We humans shouldn't be too gloomy about the future. We are the most amazing species ever evolved in Earth's history, far superior to anything that's gone before.

We have developed "mind", and "language" and "culture" and "civilisation" and above all, "science".  These achievements should not be lightly dismissed.  We may be the only beings in the Galaxy, or the whole Universe, to have them.

So, as for "limiting population", ie of human beings, I would say that in general, that's not a good thing.  What we need is more human beings, to spread out into the Universe. With this proviso - that the humans should be of excellent quality. That's to say, they must all be "scientists", either amateur or professional, like on this forum.

If the posters on this forum (even the mods) were running the Earth, wouldn't they make a better job of it, than our present politicians?

No many here are arrogant fools who think they know everything with no doubt of their own interlectual capabilities. They also tend to be threatened by the idea of there being other people out there doing stuff. Anything at all that changes the world stuff.

That's why they are so infavor of reducing the world's population even in the face of overwhelming evidence that this is totally unnecessary.
 

Offline jeffreyH

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The resources on planet earth are like a cake, finite in extent. Like a cake, there are only so many slices to go around. If population carries on increasing there will come a point where the environment forces a decrease. There will be no choice in the matter and no fools, arrogant or otherwise, able to prevent it.
 
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Offline syhprum

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When I visit the USA I am always surprised what a low population density is has compared to India or China, I must write to Trump or Clinton and suggest they do something about it.
 
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Offline David Reichard

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Yes,I love eating algae,and my daily routine is mostly scientific research,the subject of which is how not to be disgusted and terminally bored.The movie "Soylent Green" was very much to the point.Also,as a senior citizen retiree,I have found the need to invent ways to be useful,and to avoid "mooching" off the younger generations.Leisure and idleness are not all they're reputed to be.
You can in principle fill every square inch of the globe with people, but they wouldn't have anything to eat or be particularly happy. What matters more, the number of humans on the planet, or the health and happiness of every human?

The points you mention, are superbly addressed in one of my all-time favourite SF stories, Isaac Asimov's "2430".

In the story, humans have actually "filled the globe" - or at least the continental land-surface of it - with a "mighty population" of 15 trillion human beings This figure has been scientifically calculated as the maximum that Earth can support.  All other animals and plants have been eliminated.  Except for "algae" in the oceans, which are efficiently farmed to make food for the humans to eat. The algae are in turn fed with human wastes and corpses, recycled by being put back into the oceans, in an never-ended cycle.

The humans live happy placid lives, free from war.  They eat, sleep, "carefully make love" (so as not imbalance the population), engage in scientific research, and have a nice time, until they peacefully end their days, by being reabsorbed into the algae soup.

I must confess to finding a certain allure in this.  Does it appeal to you, I wonder?
 

Offline chris

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Why do the humans lead "happy placid lives"? Part of our psyche is rooted in getting out to see trees, flowers, natural wonders and - critically - get away from each other. With 15 trillion people you wouldn't be able to move for human interactions. You certainly wouldn't be able to "get away from it all". I cannot think of anything worse. Some of the most beautiful places I have ever visited have held that allure for me for precisely the reason that there were no other people there.

(I also wonder what accent they'd all speak with...?)
 

Offline Semaphore

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When I visit the USA I am always surprised what a low population density is has compared to India or China, I must write to Trump or Clinton and suggest they do something about it.

Cancel the wall......
 

Online alancalverd

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So, as for "limiting population", ie of human beings, I would say that in general, that's not a good thing.  What we need is more human beings, to spread out into the Universe.

If I were in combat morde, I'd ask " who 'we'? and define 'need' ". But I don't expect an answer, so I won't ask.

Quote
If the posters on this forum (even the mods) were running the Earth, wouldn't they make a better job of it, than our present politicians?
No. There would be an immediate war between the expansionists like zx and Tim, and contractionists like me, and the expansionists would win by sheer weight of numbers and then all starve because they hadn't actually thought about the numbers. 'Twas ever thus, with each generation of numbskulls driving out the  intellectuals until Germany, Russia, China, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa....imploded. Except China where they intentionally limited the population. God help America.
 

Offline zx16

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Alan, when you say you're a "contractionist",  how far do you advocate that humans should "contract"?

Should we give up our present wonderful expansive planet-wide civilisation, with its art, literature, culture, science, and technology.

Abandon the big modern cities.  Forget the libraries and laboratories.  "Contract" ourselves into small tribes, re-enter the self-replenishing forests, and pass our time hunting animals, and foraging for fruit and berries?
« Last Edit: 24/10/2016 16:03:29 by zx16 »
 

Online alancalverd

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90% of the world's population have no access to any art, literature, culture, or science that you would recognise. 10% don't even have clean water.

By "big modern cities" do you mean the square mile of architecturally beautiful  London or Venice where practically nobody lives, or the favelas, bidonvilles, shantytowns and slums of all the rest of the world, where up to 50% of the population lives? Or are you in favor of Sixties concrete tower blocks?

Imagine having underground trains with more seats than passengers. An electricity grid run entirely on renewables. A garden for everyone who wants one. One tenth of the present atmospheric pollution in towns and cities.

I'm only talking about reducing the population, not the amenity. I don't see wandering tribes of Canadians or Australians  hunting and foraging (actually I do, but those that do, do it from choice rather than necessity) or living without a discernible scientific and artistic culture. The trick is to have a low population density.

As for the number of people needed to drive your culture forward, Trinity College Cambridge has a population of under 2000 including undergraduates, admin staff, cooks and gardeners.  The only institution credited with more Nobel Prizes, is the entire United States of America.

For the UK, I think a population of some 5 - 10 million  would be indefinitely sustainable. Given one tenth of the competition and ten times the resources per capita, our descendants would be able to lead very comfortable and fulfilling lives.

You can estimate the numbers for any other part of the world by asking how much food they could grow with no input from fossil fuels, and whether they could supply 5 - 10 kilowatts per person from renewable energy sources.
« Last Edit: 24/10/2016 18:50:55 by alancalverd »
 

Offline zx16

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Thanks Alan, I've considered your extremely well-written and perceptive post, and must agree, in general, with what you say. 

That the world would be better off with a smaller human population. But aren't there practical problems.  For example, you suggest that for the UK, a small sustainable population of 5 to 10 million would be ideal.

Unfortunately, the present population of the UK is over 60 million.  To achieve your ideal, how would you suggest getting rid of the excess tens of millions?

Voluntary euthanasia?  As a UK citizen, I don't feel like volunteering.  Unless I see an inspiring example. Perhaps you could you step forward, and be the first in line?
 

Offline Semaphore

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90% of the world's population have no access to any art, literature, culture, or science that you would recognise. 10% don't even have clean water.


Well, 40% of the world's population has access to the internet...... including this estimable site.... and your erudite ponderings.....
 

Online alancalverd

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, you suggest that for the UK, a small sustainable population of 5 to 10 million would be ideal.

Unfortunately, the present population of the UK is over 60 million.  To achieve your ideal, how would you suggest getting rid of the excess tens of millions?


Abolish all child allowances, and pay every woman aged 16 to 50 500 every 6 months if she is not pregnant. This will pay for a lot of contraception (though you can get it for free anyway) and should discourage early or frequent reproduction. The net saving to the exchequer will be significant: fewer schools, reduced NHS maternity and paediatric services....Maybe allow one "bye" without affecting your entitlement to 1000 per year, but remember that there is no state support or housing consideration attached to any child: if you can't afford to raise a child, don't have any.

My feeling is that this will reduce the birthrate to about half replacement level. Old people will continue to die at pretty much the same rate, so there will be deceasing numbers in each cohort from age 60 upwards, to almost none at 100. The "working fraction" of the population, those between 20 and 60, increases from 0.5 to almost 0.6, so there's more tax money to pay for pensions and elderly care, and the entire population decreases to about 5 million over the next 100 years, with nobody having to do anything at all! 
 
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Offline Alex Siqueira

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We cannot ignore the "natural" evolution constant...
  Despise our artificial methods to control and harvest the natural resources, we do still need to eat, and as long that happens, we do not need to worry, nature will find a way to apply its natural selection method...
  Of course we can still cooperate and move to save our species. The truth is the situation is already so advanced, our numbers, that humanity will naturally correct itself and the meanings for that are diseases, accidents, starvation, violence... For my point of view all this is sad, but no different than a earthquake or tsunamis, in fact, talking about "people" seems more fair to fight society by seeking renewable energy sources and exile in nature, than struggling to survive a natural disaster...
  Nature have killed more humans than we could possible achieve, and the only reason why we do still exist is trough reproduction, we compensate our limitations trough our numbers, reducing our numbers is also reduce our production, with less production we cant "built" the components of our technology, the very technology that suggests us, from inside its commodity, that the solution is to reduce control the numbers...

 All the species remaining on the planet, including us, are here exactly because the different genetic traces, homo sapiens wouldn't have being existed in first place if neanderthal was within a certain commodity. It was the struggling into survive that have always forced creatures to evolve...
  We may have set the bed, but it's not in our hands to save us from it, we merely have to evolve to learn how to keep ourselves alive until we are there...

 Problems will come and pass, all we need to do is to survive, and believe me, I'm involved with bush craft for years. The first days are the most encouraging, than it start to get boring, happens that after mounts on "nature" we start to learn that we as animals, that we are very good on that too...
 The problem exists only when we thing about it as a collective species, and the truth is, our truth, we have being pretending for a while, that we are "truly" connected one to the other, when in fact the only important thing for each of us is to keep our gathered knowledge preserved. The only collective that humans seems to have beyond their small groups, is within this purpose, the fear that everything we have learned from our father and grand fathers become lost, more than that our families are just aquanted one to the other...

 Explode the land, destroy the machines, burn the religious books, as long as we have "children" we will perish and they will grow already learning how to move on our knowledge...
  There is no such thing as "reduce or limit" the birth rate, not on a global scale, we shouldn't...

 Take my generation as a living example, all this people, hundres of minds to endup with brilant ideas on renewable technology, an aleatory chain of events that from the beggining wouldn't be the same without the same amounght of people, at least no one could possible know that, because without the problems we created, we wouldn't have the necessity to fix what never happened...
 I'm now at 30 years ould ready to change my habits, like seting my house purely on solar power, that I'm also reaching the practical knoledge to my parents house, the only reason this is happening is becouse the problems already existing when I was born, if want so, we would just evolve to be naturaly "imune" to climate change, isn't it?
  My kids will grow considering solar energy as casual technology, and burning anything for power an atrocity, is already being seen on streets. Oil companies like to pretend that they have the meaning to  do anything to hold back evolution, a false sense of true power I imagine, although I'll quote the resume:

"As long as men die. Freedom will never perish."

 or any of us here actually believe that we still burning our planet alive, because is the best we can do?
 The reason behind the actual situation is one, a bunch of fools without hope, people who do not question their own simplicity cause they do know that nothing is awaiting beyond life, they simple try to extract the max profit of life and planet, because like primitive people, their do not know how to deal with that fear, so they turn an eye to their limitations and find a certain logical within that. To be true I do not blame them for doing so, less evolved people, also needs to do the best for their survival, for oil companies, this is survival, let their way be dissimated without fight back would be suicide, it's simple not on our nature, people died on past, and will keep on future, except that in the future will be due cosmic radiation during interstellar traveling...
 If we star to mess with reproduction, the only thing that will change, is the high probability that with less interaction with diversity and people, without conflicts, our descendants may not even care if the person right next to them fall dead on the street...
 If one seek further on this tough, eventually will feel why not... Pretending, is part of being human, remove that necessity of different interaction with tons of different others, and thing will get one step more close from a pure superior race, that will slowly and inevitably not killing themselves, but simple dying, much like bacteria...

 Reproduction is and always have being intuitive, the only true defense against this ball of molten rock gladly waiting to kill us... We should keep worrying about nature, not about ourselves. Removing ourselves from the equation, is not an answer, unless we remove 90% of all of us, and doing so, we are dead..  We need to multiply trough time, until we left to be what we were yesterday, until we evolve, for that we need obstacles, that we need to walk trough and connive with, never picking the easy way, the lazy way...
« Last Edit: 30/10/2016 21:08:54 by Alex Siqueira »
 

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