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Too Many People?

It seems to be a given in many circles that the earth is overpopulated. I can see how some could come to this conclusion. There are people everywhere we look. Encroachment of suburbs into farmland, increased pollution, and the extinction of many species are just some of the reasons that there are clearly too many people on earth. When I was traveling in India last year, there were masses of people everywhere I looked. Clearly we must drastically reduce the population. That is what we are told. And you know, when someone says there are too many people, they don’t really mean themselves or their friends and family. They mean there are too many ‘other people.’ The concept of ‘too many people’ is an abstraction for most people.

A recent Christian Science Monitor addressed this issue:

Earth’s big problem: Too many people.

“You’ve got to get a president who’s got the guts to say, ‘Patriotic Americans stop at two [children],’ ” says Paul Ehrlich, a professor of population studies at Stanford University. “That if you care about your children and grandchildren, we should have a smaller population in the future, not larger.” Professor Ehrlich wrote the groundbreaking 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” which predicted disastrous effects from unchecked population growth.

Earth’s population is about 6.8 billion people today, or four times the population of a century ago. Even though birth rates are lower than during the 1960s and ’70s, the world is adding 75 million to 80 million people per year and is expected to peak at more than 9 billion by midcentury – far too many, say some population experts.

Whether this growth can be sustained and still provide a decent living standard for people is itself controversial. Some, including Ehrlich and Alan Weisman, the author of the best-selling book “The World Without Us,” argue that even today’s population is too large to maintain without ravaging the environment and creating an inhospitable planet.

The thing is, I don’t like dogma. I like data. When someone argues that we must reduce the population, but then turns around and says this I cringe:

How much would today’s population have to shrink to become sustainable? “I don’t think anybody knows,” Mr. Weisman says. “All I know is, ‘less is better.’ ”

Nobody knows? Are you serious? Shouldn’t we venture an educated guess before arguing for population reduction?

Here is the deal. If we consider the lifestyle of the average Westerner, then the earth is likely overpopulated. In my view, our present lifestyle is unsustainable. The entire world can’t consume resources at the rate of the average Westerner.

I have seen estimates that suggest that the world could sustainably hold around 2 billion people that consume as the average Westerner does (even that seems high to me) but 40 billion if the world consumes what the average African consumes. If the typical Western diet was primarily vegetarian, the carrying capacity would go up. I have seen estimates of arable land in the world between 3.5 billion and 7 billion acres. Therefore, there is around one arable acre on earth for every person on the planet. Is that enough to feed everyone? It is, with the caveat that the number of arable acres per person vary wildly from country to country. But taken as a whole, on a vegetarian diet there would appear to be enough land area to feed the population. To do it sustainably would take a lot of physical labor, though.

Of course that’s only one issue, so the answer to the question is obviously “It depends.” And I am not trying to argue in this essay that there aren’t too many people. But I don’t think we should take it as dogma that there are. Clearly we can’t continue to grow the population forever, but we may spread out to the stars and some day find that the argument has shifted to “Can the galaxy support 100 trillion humans?”

A Note on Global Warming

As some will surely point out, there are parallels between the population argument and the debate over global warming. Human-induced global warming is dogma to many, and those who question that premise are often labeled as ‘deniers’ and such. The difference for me personally is that while I believe humans are at a minimum contributing to global warming, that is not dogma for me. I do listen to the arguments, and I will move off of my position if the data warrant that.

I still have admittedly not dug deeply enough into the data on this one, but my impression remains that there is a broad consensus on this issue in the scientific community. Not being an expert myself, I defer to that unless I personally have sifted through the arguments and counter-arguments, understand them well, and have a different conclusion.

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February 1, 2009 - Posted by | global warming, population control, sustainability

61 Comments

  1. I find, more and more, financial and AGW and overpopulation posts crowding onto oil-energy websites.
    Fine with me, but they seem OT. I know there are connections, but jeez, the above three issues are connected to everything, even cow farts.
    We may have an oil glut that extends for years, but oil and conservation and substitution are all fascinating topics for me.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 1, 2009

  2. I find, more and more, financial and AGW and overpopulation posts crowding onto oil-energy websites.Fine with me, but they seem OT. I know there are connections, but jeez, the above three issues are connected to everything, even cow farts. We may have an oil glut that extends for years, but oil and conservation and substitution are all fascinating topics for me.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 1, 2009

  3. To add to your point: What is to keep a smaller population from consuming more resources?

    One who could have only have half a billion people on earth and yet still use up all the arable land with robots growing feed stock for bio fuels to power everyone’s private rocket ships.

    What makes the one child crowd even sillier is people’s refusal to seriously consider the problems that will stem from voluntarily reducing population.

    The same people who argue for reducing population growth are also the ones who argue for generous health and retirement benefits for the elderly.

    If they were honest with themselves, they would admit that euthanasia is a necessary part of any population reduction. You can’t only cut down on the numbers of healthy young people and a have a sustainable society.

    Comment by Ape Man | February 2, 2009

  4. To add to your point: What is to keep a smaller population from consuming more resources?One who could have only have half a billion people on earth and yet still use up all the arable land with robots growing feed stock for bio fuels to power everyone’s private rocket ships.What makes the one child crowd even sillier is people’s refusal to seriously consider the problems that will stem from voluntarily reducing population.The same people who argue for reducing population growth are also the ones who argue for generous health and retirement benefits for the elderly.If they were honest with themselves, they would admit that euthanasia is a necessary part of any population reduction. You can’t only cut down on the numbers of healthy young people and a have a sustainable society.

    Comment by Ape Man | February 2, 2009

  5. Sorry for leaving you this message here, but I was unable to find an email address for your editor.
    I wanted to tell you we’ve been featuring your content on EarthBlips.com. It’s actually become one of our highest viewed sections. You can see for yourself here: http://earthblips.dailyradar.com/blog/r_squared_energy_blog/
    Please email me if you have any questions.

    Marny@futures.com

    Comment by Anonymous | February 2, 2009

  6. Sorry for leaving you this message here, but I was unable to find an email address for your editor. I wanted to tell you we’ve been featuring your content on EarthBlips.com. It’s actually become one of our highest viewed sections. You can see for yourself here: http://earthblips.dailyradar.com/blog/r_squared_energy_blog/Please email me if you have any questions.Marny@futures.com

    Comment by Anonymous | February 2, 2009

  7. I highly recommend the book Limits to Growth: the 30-Year Update for a rational discussion of this issue. They present their case with several scenarios and let the reader decide which is more likely.

    “We… believe that if a profound correction is not made soon, a crash of some sort is certain. And it will occur within the lifetimes of many who are alive today.”

    Comment by mike wiese | February 2, 2009

  8. I highly recommend the book Limits to Growth: the 30-Year Update for a rational discussion of this issue. They present their case with several scenarios and let the reader decide which is more likely.”We… believe that if a profound correction is not made soon, a crash of some sort is certain. And it will occur within the lifetimes of many who are alive today.”

    Comment by mike wiese | February 2, 2009

  9. Unfortunately,the population growth is occurring in countries already having trouble sustaining themselves. Today’s poster child for desperately needed food aid is tomorrow’s proud papa of 12. The never married mother of octuplets who’s had a total of 14 children by invitro fertilization is a perfect example. Lives with her parents…LOL.

    Comment by Maury | February 2, 2009

  10. Unfortunately,the population growth is occurring in countries already having trouble sustaining themselves. Today’s poster child for desperately needed food aid is tomorrow’s proud papa of 12. The never married mother of octuplets who’s had a total of 14 children by invitro fertilization is a perfect example. Lives with her parents…LOL.

    Comment by Maury | February 2, 2009

  11. I hear this argument a lot down at the coffee bar in the local Whole Foods. Usually it is applied to the US as some kind of shame, followed by the “we’re 5% of the world’s population and use 25% of the world’s energy resources” canard.

    The implication is that we are somehow “stealing” the world’s resources. A more fair way to look at it would be the balance of imports and exports. We use a massive aount of energy because we produce a massive amount of energy domestically.

    We produce nearly all our own domestic energy for power production. In fact the US is a net exporter of coal. Our primary import of energy is for transportation fuels – roughly 13 million barrels per day of crude oil. And a big chunk of that comes from Canada and Mexico.

    Comment by KingofKaty | February 2, 2009

  12. I hear this argument a lot down at the coffee bar in the local Whole Foods. Usually it is applied to the US as some kind of shame, followed by the “we’re 5% of the world’s population and use 25% of the world’s energy resources” canard. The implication is that we are somehow “stealing” the world’s resources. A more fair way to look at it would be the balance of imports and exports. We use a massive aount of energy because we produce a massive amount of energy domestically. We produce nearly all our own domestic energy for power production. In fact the US is a net exporter of coal. Our primary import of energy is for transportation fuels – roughly 13 million barrels per day of crude oil. And a big chunk of that comes from Canada and Mexico.

    Comment by KingofKaty | February 2, 2009

  13. My point above being that it is not that the US consumes too much, it is that the rest of the world produces so little.

    A good example is Venezuela. The Venezuelans are blessed with fertile farmland and abundant natural resources. Yet they can’t feed themselves. The slums of Caracas are filled to the brim, but there is a shortage of farm labor in the interior.

    Comment by KingofKaty | February 2, 2009

  14. My point above being that it is not that the US consumes too much, it is that the rest of the world produces so little. A good example is Venezuela. The Venezuelans are blessed with fertile farmland and abundant natural resources. Yet they can’t feed themselves. The slums of Caracas are filled to the brim, but there is a shortage of farm labor in the interior.

    Comment by KingofKaty | February 2, 2009

  15. When you talk of arable land are you using potentially arable land, in use arable land, or arable land under cultivation and fallow?

    All the numbers I seen on this are at least 10 years old, and thus somewhat problematic given very dynamic situations.

    If you are using potentially arable, there is the question of available drinking water and carbon capture losses due to clear cutting.

    @ KingofKaty: Hardly a canard. Transportation fuels account for around 65% of US energy use. Industrial production levels are high in the US, but energy intensity in every sector is extremely high relative to other major industrial nations–with the exception of Canada and Russia.

    Comment by freude bud | February 2, 2009

  16. When you talk of arable land are you using potentially arable land, in use arable land, or arable land under cultivation and fallow?All the numbers I seen on this are at least 10 years old, and thus somewhat problematic given very dynamic situations.If you are using potentially arable, there is the question of available drinking water and carbon capture losses due to clear cutting.@ KingofKaty: Hardly a canard. Transportation fuels account for around 65% of US energy use. Industrial production levels are high in the US, but energy intensity in every sector is extremely high relative to other major industrial nations–with the exception of Canada and Russia.

    Comment by freude bud | February 2, 2009

  17. “And you know, when someone says there are too many people, they don’t really mean themselves or their friends and family.”

    That’s not always true. My wife and I had only one child. We also know several couples who also deliberately limited the sizes of their families to two or fewer kids.

    Comment by Ben Dewberry | February 2, 2009

  18. “And you know, when someone says there are too many people, they don’t really mean themselves or their friends and family.”That’s not always true. My wife and I had only one child. We also know several couples who also deliberately limited the sizes of their families to two or fewer kids.

    Comment by Ben Dewberry | February 2, 2009

  19. Ben Dewberry:
    At the risk of raising the ugly spectre of eugenics, why is it the only people limiting their offspring are also the smartest people we have? Meanwhile Ms. Octo-Gonzo has 14 kids.
    Our smartest women are entering life-draining careers.

    Comment by bennt "MOAG" cole | February 2, 2009

  20. Ben Dewberry:At the risk of raising the ugly spectre of eugenics, why is it the only people limiting their offspring are also the smartest people we have? Meanwhile Ms. Octo-Gonzo has 14 kids. Our smartest women are entering life-draining careers.

    Comment by bennt "MOAG" cole | February 2, 2009

  21. “At the risk of raising the ugly spectre of eugenics, why is it the only people limiting their offspring are also the smartest people we have?”

    It’s always been that way ~ because they can think ahead and reason through the consequences of their actions. And you’re right, let’s not raise the ugly specter of eugenics.

    Comment by Ben Dewberry | February 2, 2009

  22. “At the risk of raising the ugly spectre of eugenics, why is it the only people limiting their offspring are also the smartest people we have?”It’s always been that way ~ because they can think ahead and reason through the consequences of their actions. And you’re right, let’s not raise the ugly specter of eugenics.

    Comment by Ben Dewberry | February 2, 2009

  23. Brave post, RR!

    As I have said before, Robert Malthus has been wrong for 200 years (and counting). But that never matters to the Paul Ehrlichs of the world: Malthus will be proven right in the next fifty years. Just you wait, mister!

    My take on Malthus’ essay (well, the part that I read so far): like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four it is a great piece of work to make you think twice about things. But (like Nineteen Eighty-Four), An Essay On The Principle Of Population is too loaded with internal contradiction to be taken seriously as a prediction of where we might end up.

    Take this line, which seems to summarize Malthus’ theory: Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio.

    The issue, to me, breaks down on both conditions: First off, when does population ever grow unchecked? Malthus himself provides a counter-argument, all of two paragraphs later: This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. If there is a constant check on population, where is the problem? The check solves the problem, no?

    Speaking of data: the idea that subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio is based on the apparently reasonable idea that achieving a doubling of subsistence in 25 years would be a great accomplishment, and that one could not possibly expect to get another 100% improvement in the second 25 years (as the population doubles again). Sounds great, but where is the data supporting this theory? Malthus argues that at the time of writing (1798), there was almost no data on the poor part of the population; hence he is forced to speculate. Today the data would be available to prove him right or wrong.

    Rather than digging into data, let’s consider the anecdotal data. Few would argue that the England’s poor in 1798 had it better than the poor in 2008. The poor in 1798 would have had no health care to speak of, and starvation was a real threat. While 2008 has not seen the eradication of poverty (as TIME magazine predicted when it chose Baby Boomers as the Man of the Year 1966), the poor in 2008 is a lot better off.

    Of course, there are many poor people on earth doing a lot worse than the poor in England (or anywhere in the West). But the bulk of that suffering is due to the political genius of leaders like Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin and many others. Lack of subsistence, as experienced so far, is mostly the result of lack of good leadership.

    Malthus at times reads like Karl Marx: But the want of freedom in the market of labour, which occurs more or less in all communities, either from parish laws, or the more general cause of the facility of combination among the rich, and its difficulty among the poor, operates to prevent the price of labour from rising at the natural period, and keeps it down some time longer; perhaps till a year of scarcity, when the clamour is too loud, and the necessity too apparent to be resisted. Note the internal contradiction in this statement: the price of labor only goes up in a time of scarcity? How many of you only get a raise during a recession, such as the one we are currently experiencing? And if Malthus is right about the increasing scarcity, wouldn’t scarcity eventually overtake even the rich, so that they had no capacity to pay higher wages, regardless of the agitation by the workers?

    At the end of the day, even if you are convinced that the western lifestyle is about to collapse due to a shortage of resources, you can take solace from the knowledge that the free market has your back: if true, stuff will simply become so expensive that even rich westerners will learn to do with less. See gasoline consumption in 2008, for a short course on how that works.

    Not to say that the future will be easy. Or pretty. But we humans can be quite adaptive when we need to be…

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  24. Brave post, RR!As I have said before, Robert Malthus has been wrong for 200 years (and counting). But that never matters to the Paul Ehrlichs of the world: Malthus will be proven right in the next fifty years. Just you wait, mister!My take on Malthus’ essay (well, the part that I read so far): like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four it is a great piece of work to make you think twice about things. But (like Nineteen Eighty-Four), An Essay On The Principle Of Population is too loaded with internal contradiction to be taken seriously as a prediction of where we might end up.Take this line, which seems to summarize Malthus’ theory: Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio.The issue, to me, breaks down on both conditions: First off, when does population ever grow unchecked? Malthus himself provides a counter-argument, all of two paragraphs later: This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. If there is a constant check on population, where is the problem? The check solves the problem, no?Speaking of data: the idea that subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio is based on the apparently reasonable idea that achieving a doubling of subsistence in 25 years would be a great accomplishment, and that one could not possibly expect to get another 100% improvement in the second 25 years (as the population doubles again). Sounds great, but where is the data supporting this theory? Malthus argues that at the time of writing (1798), there was almost no data on the poor part of the population; hence he is forced to speculate. Today the data would be available to prove him right or wrong.Rather than digging into data, let’s consider the anecdotal data. Few would argue that the England’s poor in 1798 had it better than the poor in 2008. The poor in 1798 would have had no health care to speak of, and starvation was a real threat. While 2008 has not seen the eradication of poverty (as TIME magazine predicted when it chose Baby Boomers as the Man of the Year 1966), the poor in 2008 is a lot better off.Of course, there are many poor people on earth doing a lot worse than the poor in England (or anywhere in the West). But the bulk of that suffering is due to the political genius of leaders like Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin and many others. Lack of subsistence, as experienced so far, is mostly the result of lack of good leadership. Malthus at times reads like Karl Marx: But the want of freedom in the market of labour, which occurs more or less in all communities, either from parish laws, or the more general cause of the facility of combination among the rich, and its difficulty among the poor, operates to prevent the price of labour from rising at the natural period, and keeps it down some time longer; perhaps till a year of scarcity, when the clamour is too loud, and the necessity too apparent to be resisted. Note the internal contradiction in this statement: the price of labor only goes up in a time of scarcity? How many of you only get a raise during a recession, such as the one we are currently experiencing? And if Malthus is right about the increasing scarcity, wouldn’t scarcity eventually overtake even the rich, so that they had no capacity to pay higher wages, regardless of the agitation by the workers?At the end of the day, even if you are convinced that the western lifestyle is about to collapse due to a shortage of resources, you can take solace from the knowledge that the free market has your back: if true, stuff will simply become so expensive that even rich westerners will learn to do with less. See gasoline consumption in 2008, for a short course on how that works.Not to say that the future will be easy. Or pretty. But we humans can be quite adaptive when we need to be…

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  25. King,
    I think a better way to argue your point would be to point out that the US produces roughly 25% of the planet’s GDP. Taken from that perspective, using 25% of the planet’s resources seems reasonable, if you get my point.

    Not to say that Americans can’t do things more efficiently, just that bailouts and stimulus packages prevent them from doing so.

    As I said above, leave it to the free market. If there really is a shortage of one or more resources, the market will price it accordingly. And many of us would figure out ways to do without (or with less) of those particular resources…

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  26. King,I think a better way to argue your point would be to point out that the US produces roughly 25% of the planet’s GDP. Taken from that perspective, using 25% of the planet’s resources seems reasonable, if you get my point.Not to say that Americans can’t do things more efficiently, just that bailouts and stimulus packages prevent them from doing so.As I said above, leave it to the free market. If there really is a shortage of one or more resources, the market will price it accordingly. And many of us would figure out ways to do without (or with less) of those particular resources…

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  27. “…the poor in 2008 is a lot better off.”

    A poor person in England or the U.S. is no doubt better off than a poor person in those same countries would have been in 1798.

    But, the average poor person of the world is not better off. The bottom three billion of the world’s population is in truly dire straits, and the world has more people than it can carry with current technology.

    The only relief will be a massive die off, or clean fusion energy that is “too cheap to meter.”

    Comment by Karl Bogardus | February 2, 2009

  28. “…the poor in 2008 is a lot better off.”A poor person in England or the U.S. is no doubt better off than a poor person in those same countries would have been in 1798.But, the average poor person of the world is not better off. The bottom three billion of the world’s population is in truly dire straits, and the world has more people than it can carry with current technology.The only relief will be a massive die off, or clean fusion energy that is “too cheap to meter.”

    Comment by Karl Bogardus | February 2, 2009

  29. Unfortunately, population reduction or wealth reduction is like reducing CO2 emissions. No one really has any appetite for it; but there is plenty of incentive for doing opposite.

    So even if we could scientifically determine that the planet is “overpopulated” whatever that means, nothing will be done about it.

    btw there is an article at the BBC about this

    Comment by bc | February 2, 2009

  30. Unfortunately, population reduction or wealth reduction is like reducing CO2 emissions. No one really has any appetite for it; but there is plenty of incentive for doing opposite.So even if we could scientifically determine that the planet is “overpopulated” whatever that means, nothing will be done about it.btw there is an article at the BBC about this

    Comment by bc | February 2, 2009

  31. The bottom three billion of the world’s population is in truly dire straits, and the world has more people than it can carry with current technology.

    The only relief will be a massive die off, or clean fusion energy that is “too cheap to meter.”
    Thanks Karl. Now explain how you define in truly dire straits. Having to walk X miles to get water, like your parents and grandparents did? Your failure to build a simple cage that would eliminate the threat of crocodile attack while collecting water? No access to basic health care, even as your government shows the best GDP per capita numbers on the continent (Botswana)?

    Also, what do you mean by the only relief will be a massive die off? That these people’s lives are not worth living? Are you going to convince them to voluntary suicide? Shouldn’t be that hard since they are in truly dire straits. Did you have something more spectacular in mind?

    Or, perhaps we should turn it around: perhaps you’d consider suicide so that a family in Africa can gain access to all those resources you are hogging?

    Save us the doom-and-gloom, Karl: it makes no sense, and it does not solve anything. Suggesting that three billion people die off is an unspeakable horror. How can you seriously present that as a solution to anything? Presenting it as inevitable is just as bad.

    Also BS IMHO: the world has more people than it can carry with current technology, unless you have data to back up your theory. My data: the world is supporting its current population with current technology.

    As I said, not easy. Or pretty. But somehow it works.

    Of course, it could work a lot better sans Messrs Mugabe, Castro, Putin, etc.

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  32. The bottom three billion of the world’s population is in truly dire straits, and the world has more people than it can carry with current technology.The only relief will be a massive die off, or clean fusion energy that is “too cheap to meter.”Thanks Karl. Now explain how you define in truly dire straits. Having to walk X miles to get water, like your parents and grandparents did? Your failure to build a simple cage that would eliminate the threat of crocodile attack while collecting water? No access to basic health care, even as your government shows the best GDP per capita numbers on the continent (Botswana)?Also, what do you mean by the only relief will be a massive die off? That these people’s lives are not worth living? Are you going to convince them to voluntary suicide? Shouldn’t be that hard since they are in truly dire straits. Did you have something more spectacular in mind?Or, perhaps we should turn it around: perhaps you’d consider suicide so that a family in Africa can gain access to all those resources you are hogging?Save us the doom-and-gloom, Karl: it makes no sense, and it does not solve anything. Suggesting that three billion people die off is an unspeakable horror. How can you seriously present that as a solution to anything? Presenting it as inevitable is just as bad.Also BS IMHO: the world has more people than it can carry with current technology, unless you have data to back up your theory. My data: the world is supporting its current population with current technology.As I said, not easy. Or pretty. But somehow it works.Of course, it could work a lot better sans Messrs Mugabe, Castro, Putin, etc.

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  33. “Suggesting that three billion people die off is an unspeakable horror.”

    Not a suggestion, a prediction. Do you still think the human race will be around in 10,000 years? 100,000? 500,000? I can’t say when, but the span of humans living on the Earth will be a short blip compared to the life span of the entire planet.

    “…perhaps you’d consider suicide so that a family in Africa can gain access to all those resources you are hogging?”

    Wouldn’t do any good. If you and I died tomorrow, none of the resources we now use would aid anyone in Africa.

    “My data: the world is supporting its current population with current technology. As I said, not easy. Or pretty. But somehow it works.”

    It doesn’t work very well. The bottom three billion literally live in the dirt with life expectancies in the low 40s.

    Their quality of life is abysmally low. Waking up each day above ground may be a positive, but other than that, they don’t have much to live for.

    Comment by Karl Bogardus | February 2, 2009

  34. “Suggesting that three billion people die off is an unspeakable horror.”Not a suggestion, a prediction. Do you still think the human race will be around in 10,000 years? 100,000? 500,000? I can’t say when, but the span of humans living on the Earth will be a short blip compared to the life span of the entire planet. “…perhaps you’d consider suicide so that a family in Africa can gain access to all those resources you are hogging?”Wouldn’t do any good. If you and I died tomorrow, none of the resources we now use would aid anyone in Africa.”My data: the world is supporting its current population with current technology. As I said, not easy. Or pretty. But somehow it works.”It doesn’t work very well. The bottom three billion literally live in the dirt with life expectancies in the low 40s.Their quality of life is abysmally low. Waking up each day above ground may be a positive, but other than that, they don’t have much to live for.

    Comment by Karl Bogardus | February 2, 2009

  35. Not a suggestion, a prediction. Do you still think the human race will be around in 10,000 years? 100,000? 500,000? I can’t say when, but the span of humans living on the Earth will be a short blip compared to the life span of the entire planet.
    Utter speculation. Period.

    Wouldn’t do any good. If you and I died tomorrow, none of the resources we now use would aid anyone in Africa.
    So that proves that fewer people around doesn’t do us any good, does it?

    It doesn’t work very well. The bottom three billion literally live in the dirt with life expectancies in the low 40s. Their quality of life is abysmally low. Waking up each day above ground may be a positive, but other than that, they don’t have much to live for.
    I don’t think many of them are as desperate about their lives as you are. Hard as it is to believe, some of them are actually enjoying it.

    As I said, much of the problem is political. Won’t be solved by genocide.

    The solution is the opposite of what you propose/predict: lift their standard of living, help them to share in the wealth (and consume more resources). That way we get allies that will help us invent (and pay for) the new technologies we need to support the coming generations.

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  36. Not a suggestion, a prediction. Do you still think the human race will be around in 10,000 years? 100,000? 500,000? I can’t say when, but the span of humans living on the Earth will be a short blip compared to the life span of the entire planet.Utter speculation. Period.Wouldn’t do any good. If you and I died tomorrow, none of the resources we now use would aid anyone in Africa.So that proves that fewer people around doesn’t do us any good, does it?It doesn’t work very well. The bottom three billion literally live in the dirt with life expectancies in the low 40s. Their quality of life is abysmally low. Waking up each day above ground may be a positive, but other than that, they don’t have much to live for.I don’t think many of them are as desperate about their lives as you are. Hard as it is to believe, some of them are actually enjoying it.As I said, much of the problem is political. Won’t be solved by genocide.The solution is the opposite of what you propose/predict: lift their standard of living, help them to share in the wealth (and consume more resources). That way we get allies that will help us invent (and pay for) the new technologies we need to support the coming generations.

    Comment by Optimist | February 2, 2009

  37. Now, here is a chuckle: Jeff Dietert, an analyst with Simmons & Company International, was quoted in the Houston Chronicle to the effect that "We have a lot of oil with no place to go."
    That is Simmons, as in Twilight in the Desert.
    Hmmm. From projected scarcity to a glut with no end in sight. Hey, when you can by wrong by 180 degrees and still be an expert…that's the kind of job I could excel in.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 3, 2009

  38. Now, here is a chuckle: Jeff Dietert, an analyst with Simmons & Company International, was quoted in the Houston Chronicle to the effect that "We have a lot of oil with no place to go."That is Simmons, as in Twilight in the Desert.Hmmm. From projected scarcity to a glut with no end in sight. Hey, when you can by wrong by 180 degrees and still be an expert…that's the kind of job I could excel in.

    Comment by benny "MOAG" cole | February 3, 2009

  39. Robert,

    Thanks for a brave essay that asks some of the awkward questions. I too am suspicious of predictions that population crashes are imminent unless – it is ironically argued – we immediately engineer the same end result ourselves by other means.

    Maury: “Unfortunately,the population growth is occurring in countries already having trouble sustaining themselves”.

    If I subscribed to overpopulation worries I would see that as fortunate rather than unfortunate. The nice thing about the need for population control is that is it I always other people who need to die, or to forego having children. I accept the other poster’s argument that some people in developed countries deliberately reduce family size, but from a utilitarian perspective this makes complete sense: having children demands resources but pays back in terms of additional labour, insurance against illness, support in old age etc. Since those concerns are limited or absent in some developed countries, and children are particularly expensive, then families may well decide in their own interest that children are not worth the drain on resources.

    This provides the easy answer to benny “MOAG” cole’s question: “why is it the only people limiting their offspring are also the smartest people we have?” … because they are the ones that have figured out how to defeat nature for their own gain. This is not a problem of course – the individual’s gain at the expense of the species will be adequately compensated for by the self-extinction of those particular selfish genes.

    BUT: The equation is simply not the same for a family in a developing country. Another offspring who can contribute to family resources (and is not going to be getting $100k college education) may well be a worthwhile investment. Imposing or even just promoting population control in those countries is a tremendously arrogant act on the part of the developed world, IMHO.

    Thanks to Ape Man for pointing out the need for euthanasia as a necessary part of reshaping a skewed population pyramid. Hopefully that ugly spectre will be averted by the importation of labour prepared to work for a living and produce offspring. Without this the European Union for one is heading for a demographic implosion. Russia is even worse off. And the US has nothing to crow about either with population stats not much better if you subtract Hispanics. As long as we can avoid the more ugly forms of racist nationalism (such as is endemic in Russia) there is a chance that we can smoothly hand over the reins of Western civilisation to whoever is willing to take them and run with them ( … something that the US “melting pot” has traditionally been better at than most).

    Optimist, thanks for pointing out the flaws in Malthus. As grist for the mill, Bjorn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist) points out that the Green Revolution has indeed caused “subsistence” to grow geometrically. Clearly that can’t continue forever. But it certainly outstrips the imagination of Malthus – or more lamentably and less forgivably, Paul Ehrlich who sounds increasingly like a tired old ideologue.

    Karl Bogardus, I disagree with you on practically every point of both fact and principle. When you say that the poor of the world have nothing to live for, you are talking about people living under conditions that have prevailed for most of the human race for most of history. Nature, at least, has conspired to convince people down the ages that there is plenty to live for, as evidenced by the fact that every single one of us comes from a bloodline that has enthusiastically and successfully reproduced since we were crawling around in the primodial slime. Surely it is the height of conceit to argue that people without your standard of living don’t have much to live for. With luck, your life will look the same to your descendants two centuries hence.

    As to your statistics about “the bottom three billion living in the dirt” … well, the top two billion of those who earn two dollars a day are twice as well off as the bottom billion who earn one dollar per day. I hope we can agree that affluence is relative. Setting the point at which life becomes “not worth living” can only be an exercise in arbitrariness. And it would also ignore the lack of correlation between affluence and happiness – I seem to remember a nun in Calcutta who marvelled at the existential malaise that seemed to beset the developed world despite its extreme affluence.

    Comment by PeteS | February 3, 2009

  40. Robert,Thanks for a brave essay that asks some of the awkward questions. I too am suspicious of predictions that population crashes are imminent unless – it is ironically argued – we immediately engineer the same end result ourselves by other means.Maury: “Unfortunately,the population growth is occurring in countries already having trouble sustaining themselves”.If I subscribed to overpopulation worries I would see that as fortunate rather than unfortunate. The nice thing about the need for population control is that is it I always other people who need to die, or to forego having children. I accept the other poster’s argument that some people in developed countries deliberately reduce family size, but from a utilitarian perspective this makes complete sense: having children demands resources but pays back in terms of additional labour, insurance against illness, support in old age etc. Since those concerns are limited or absent in some developed countries, and children are particularly expensive, then families may well decide in their own interest that children are not worth the drain on resources.This provides the easy answer to benny “MOAG” cole’s question: “why is it the only people limiting their offspring are also the smartest people we have?” … because they are the ones that have figured out how to defeat nature for their own gain. This is not a problem of course – the individual’s gain at the expense of the species will be adequately compensated for by the self-extinction of those particular selfish genes.BUT: The equation is simply not the same for a family in a developing country. Another offspring who can contribute to family resources (and is not going to be getting $100k college education) may well be a worthwhile investment. Imposing or even just promoting population control in those countries is a tremendously arrogant act on the part of the developed world, IMHO.Thanks to Ape Man for pointing out the need for euthanasia as a necessary part of reshaping a skewed population pyramid. Hopefully that ugly spectre will be averted by the importation of labour prepared to work for a living and produce offspring. Without this the European Union for one is heading for a demographic implosion. Russia is even worse off. And the US has nothing to crow about either with population stats not much better if you subtract Hispanics. As long as we can avoid the more ugly forms of racist nationalism (such as is endemic in Russia) there is a chance that we can smoothly hand over the reins of Western civilisation to whoever is willing to take them and run with them ( … something that the US “melting pot” has traditionally been better at than most). Optimist, thanks for pointing out the flaws in Malthus. As grist for the mill, Bjorn Lomborg (The Skeptical Environmentalist) points out that the Green Revolution has indeed caused “subsistence” to grow geometrically. Clearly that can’t continue forever. But it certainly outstrips the imagination of Malthus – or more lamentably and less forgivably, Paul Ehrlich who sounds increasingly like a tired old ideologue.Karl Bogardus, I disagree with you on practically every point of both fact and principle. When you say that the poor of the world have nothing to live for, you are talking about people living under conditions that have prevailed for most of the human race for most of history. Nature, at least, has conspired to convince people down the ages that there is plenty to live for, as evidenced by the fact that every single one of us comes from a bloodline that has enthusiastically and successfully reproduced since we were crawling around in the primodial slime. Surely it is the height of conceit to argue that people without your standard of living don’t have much to live for. With luck, your life will look the same to your descendants two centuries hence.As to your statistics about “the bottom three billion living in the dirt” … well, the top two billion of those who earn two dollars a day are twice as well off as the bottom billion who earn one dollar per day. I hope we can agree that affluence is relative. Setting the point at which life becomes “not worth living” can only be an exercise in arbitrariness. And it would also ignore the lack of correlation between affluence and happiness – I seem to remember a nun in Calcutta who marvelled at the existential malaise that seemed to beset the developed world despite its extreme affluence.

    Comment by PeteS | February 3, 2009

  41. It seems to me that all this talk is futile as we have no way to predict how future technology will reshape the world. Malthus could have been right, until the Green Revolution proved him wrong. We could be on the verge of another one, this time with genetic engineering. For example this CNN article describes flood resistant rice that could help save Bangladesh from starvation

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/01/29/waterproof.rice/?imw=Y&iref=mpstoryemail

    Of course it could be very different this time around, but considering the truly horrific measures that would need to be taken to bring population levels to what Ehrlich and others consider sustainable, I prefer to throw all the money possible at tech and hope advances come fast enough to save us.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 3, 2009

  42. It seems to me that all this talk is futile as we have no way to predict how future technology will reshape the world. Malthus could have been right, until the Green Revolution proved him wrong. We could be on the verge of another one, this time with genetic engineering. For example this CNN article describes flood resistant rice that could help save Bangladesh from starvationhttp://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/01/29/waterproof.rice/?imw=Y&iref=mpstoryemailOf course it could be very different this time around, but considering the truly horrific measures that would need to be taken to bring population levels to what Ehrlich and others consider sustainable, I prefer to throw all the money possible at tech and hope advances come fast enough to save us.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 3, 2009

  43. Minor correction:
    “Professor Ehrlich wrote the groundbreaking 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” which [as subsequent events have shown] predicted [completely erroneously] disastrous effects from unchecked population growth.”

    This is why reasonable people find it increasingly difficult to take seriously anything the chattering classes say. Even when their gods are completely wrong (Ehrlich falsely predicted there would be massive famine by the 1980s, for goodness sake), the usual suspects still worship them.

    Has anyone ever flown hour-upon-tedious-hour over Northern Canada? Or over endless Kazakhstan? Or even spent two days driving across Texas? There is no shortage of space in this world. None!

    We could use more fresh water. But we can get that by desalination & long-distance pumping using already existing nuclear fission technology. Unfortunately, the usual suspects (and you know who they are) would rather see ordinary people suffer & die — all to feed their own bloated & ignorant egos.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 3, 2009

  44. Minor correction:”Professor Ehrlich wrote the groundbreaking 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” which [as subsequent events have shown] predicted [completely erroneously] disastrous effects from unchecked population growth.”This is why reasonable people find it increasingly difficult to take seriously anything the chattering classes say. Even when their gods are completely wrong (Ehrlich falsely predicted there would be massive famine by the 1980s, for goodness sake), the usual suspects still worship them.Has anyone ever flown hour-upon-tedious-hour over Northern Canada? Or over endless Kazakhstan? Or even spent two days driving across Texas? There is no shortage of space in this world. None!We could use more fresh water. But we can get that by desalination & long-distance pumping using already existing nuclear fission technology. Unfortunately, the usual suspects (and you know who they are) would rather see ordinary people suffer & die — all to feed their own bloated & ignorant egos.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 3, 2009

  45. “Another offspring who can contribute to family resources (and is not going to be getting $100k college education) may well be a worthwhile investment.”

    Well yeah,a dozen kids can get a lot more off the aid truck than just two or three. Sub-saharan Africa will go from a population of 100M in 1900 to 2B in 2050. It grows 30% less food than it did 40 years ago. One would think 20% of the population having Aids might dull the urge to propagate somewhat. I mean,fear of death was something Darwin tended to dwell on. Not a problem. The western world will just have to grow more. A lot more.

    Comment by Maury | February 3, 2009

  46. “Another offspring who can contribute to family resources (and is not going to be getting $100k college education) may well be a worthwhile investment.”Well yeah,a dozen kids can get a lot more off the aid truck than just two or three. Sub-saharan Africa will go from a population of 100M in 1900 to 2B in 2050. It grows 30% less food than it did 40 years ago. One would think 20% of the population having Aids might dull the urge to propagate somewhat. I mean,fear of death was something Darwin tended to dwell on. Not a problem. The western world will just have to grow more. A lot more.

    Comment by Maury | February 3, 2009

  47. Of course it could be very different this time around, but considering the truly horrific measures that would need to be taken to bring population levels to what Ehrlich and others consider sustainable, I prefer to throw all the money possible at tech and hope advances come fast enough to save us.
    Wouldn’t it be great if governments responded to needs? I mean real needs, not the needs of lobbyists and re-election campaigns. Since they don’t, I tend to limit my expectations of the good that will come from our elected officitutes.

    Not to worry: free markets have a way of taking care of problems, in spite of the government. If energy becomes scarse, it will be priced accordingly. In spite of Washington’s best efforts, somewhere in suburbia Joe Sixpack will probably invent the solution in his garage. Big Oil or Big Auto will be there to reward Joe for his efforts and market the technology.

    We could use more fresh water. But we can get that by desalination & long-distance pumping using already existing nuclear fission technology.
    You are missing the obvious source, Kin: treated sewage. Yup! Windhoek (capital of Namibia) has been doing it for 40+ years. None of the current membrane technology. Orange County, CA just started. [Unbeknownst to the masses: the rest of us has been doing it for centuries: at Hoover Dam the mighty Colorado is ~20% reclaimed water!] Much cheaper (and energy efficient) than either desalination or long distance pumping. A truely drought-proof and reliable source of water. And one that is likely to encourage conservation!

    Comment by Optimist | February 3, 2009

  48. Of course it could be very different this time around, but considering the truly horrific measures that would need to be taken to bring population levels to what Ehrlich and others consider sustainable, I prefer to throw all the money possible at tech and hope advances come fast enough to save us.Wouldn’t it be great if governments responded to needs? I mean real needs, not the needs of lobbyists and re-election campaigns. Since they don’t, I tend to limit my expectations of the good that will come from our elected officitutes.Not to worry: free markets have a way of taking care of problems, in spite of the government. If energy becomes scarse, it will be priced accordingly. In spite of Washington’s best efforts, somewhere in suburbia Joe Sixpack will probably invent the solution in his garage. Big Oil or Big Auto will be there to reward Joe for his efforts and market the technology.We could use more fresh water. But we can get that by desalination & long-distance pumping using already existing nuclear fission technology.You are missing the obvious source, Kin: treated sewage. Yup! Windhoek (capital of Namibia) has been doing it for 40+ years. None of the current membrane technology. Orange County, CA just started. [Unbeknownst to the masses: the rest of us has been doing it for centuries: at Hoover Dam the mighty Colorado is ~20% reclaimed water!] Much cheaper (and energy efficient) than either desalination or long distance pumping. A truely drought-proof and reliable source of water. And one that is likely to encourage conservation!

    Comment by Optimist | February 3, 2009

  49. “You are missing the obvious source, Kin: treated sewage.”

    Fair point — but the alternatives are not mutually exclusive.

    A sewage recycling facility (or, as Londoners would say, the River Thames) extends nature's supply of fresh water. It is a good approach in urbanized areas.

    I was actually thinking of a situation more like West Texas/New Mexico — lots & lots of empty land where the limiting factor is the absence of surface water. Can't recycle what was not there to begin with. That is the sort of environment where we could relieve any perceived population pressure elsewhere — if we first invested in coastal desalination plants & pumped water hundreds of miles inland.

    The Soviets had at least one nuclear-powered desalination plant on the Caspian Sea supplying fresh water to western Kazakhstan. The technology exists; all that is missing is the will to use it.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 4, 2009

  50. “You are missing the obvious source, Kin: treated sewage.”Fair point — but the alternatives are not mutually exclusive. A sewage recycling facility (or, as Londoners would say, the River Thames) extends nature's supply of fresh water. It is a good approach in urbanized areas.I was actually thinking of a situation more like West Texas/New Mexico — lots & lots of empty land where the limiting factor is the absence of surface water. Can't recycle what was not there to begin with. That is the sort of environment where we could relieve any perceived population pressure elsewhere — if we first invested in coastal desalination plants & pumped water hundreds of miles inland.The Soviets had at least one nuclear-powered desalination plant on the Caspian Sea supplying fresh water to western Kazakhstan. The technology exists; all that is missing is the will to use it.

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 4, 2009

  51. The technology exists; all that is missing is the will to use it.
    Sure the technology exists. What is usually lacking, is funding. Why built an expensive (both capital and running costs) desalination plant when alternatives exist?

    Of course, in some cases you lack the alternatives and you have cheap energy/stacks of money. Hence much of the planet’s desalination capacity is located in the Middle East.

    I think the future for water (somewhat similar to energy) is this: prices need to go up. That would both encourage conservation and make new sources available.

    Now if we could just get those officitutes in Washington, DC to not interfere in the free market…

    Comment by Optimist | February 4, 2009

  52. The technology exists; all that is missing is the will to use it.Sure the technology exists. What is usually lacking, is funding. Why built an expensive (both capital and running costs) desalination plant when alternatives exist?Of course, in some cases you lack the alternatives and you have cheap energy/stacks of money. Hence much of the planet’s desalination capacity is located in the Middle East.I think the future for water (somewhat similar to energy) is this: prices need to go up. That would both encourage conservation and make new sources available.Now if we could just get those officitutes in Washington, DC to not interfere in the free market…

    Comment by Optimist | February 4, 2009

  53. On the vexed topic of allegations of Anthropogenic Global Warming, our host wrote:

    “my impression remains that there is a broad consensus on this issue in the scientific community. Not being an expert myself, I defer to that unless I personally have sifted through the arguments and counter-arguments, understand them well, and have a different conclusion.”

    Not very intellectually satisfying to write that, was it Robert?

    There is also a "consensus" among the usual suspects that ethanol fuel is a Good Thing. That did not stop Robert Rapier from digging in and trashing the "concensus".

    I understand how hard it is for people of a certain political persuasion to speak truth to power on this topic. Look at what happened to Bjorn Lomborg for logically demonstrating that AGW is not the top issue we should address — even though he stipulated that AGW was real.

    No-one wants to be ostracized. But sometimes the price of staying in the peer group is one's own self-respect.

    It is not reasonable for a person who has become a respected voice in the field of energy to claim that he has not dug into the theory & evidence behind AGW. The topic is too important to the future of global energy supplies.

    And if one wants to steer away from the subject because of peer pressure, then the honest thing to do would be to hold no opinion at all.

    It would not take long to read, for example, Balling's "The Satanic Gases" — a little dated now, but gives a fairly even-handed summary of the evidence. Follow that up with McKitrick's "Taken by Storm" — a rather readable account of the challenges involved in modeling huge chaotic systems.

    You probably would not agree with all that they have written, Robert. (I know I don't). But it would at least bust open the convenient fiction of a scientific "consensus". Then you could make up your own mind, and stand tall again.

    It is worth remembering that when Pres. Eisenhower made his famous farewell speech warning about the military-industrial complex, he also warned about the dangers of the politicization of science through dependence on government funding. I suspect that is the real story behind the rather tenuous "concensus" on AGW.

    Let the President say it in his own words from 45 years ago —

    “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    … Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. …

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 5, 2009

  54. On the vexed topic of allegations of Anthropogenic Global Warming, our host wrote:”my impression remains that there is a broad consensus on this issue in the scientific community. Not being an expert myself, I defer to that unless I personally have sifted through the arguments and counter-arguments, understand them well, and have a different conclusion.”Not very intellectually satisfying to write that, was it Robert?There is also a "consensus" among the usual suspects that ethanol fuel is a Good Thing. That did not stop Robert Rapier from digging in and trashing the "concensus".I understand how hard it is for people of a certain political persuasion to speak truth to power on this topic. Look at what happened to Bjorn Lomborg for logically demonstrating that AGW is not the top issue we should address — even though he stipulated that AGW was real. No-one wants to be ostracized. But sometimes the price of staying in the peer group is one's own self-respect.It is not reasonable for a person who has become a respected voice in the field of energy to claim that he has not dug into the theory & evidence behind AGW. The topic is too important to the future of global energy supplies.And if one wants to steer away from the subject because of peer pressure, then the honest thing to do would be to hold no opinion at all. It would not take long to read, for example, Balling's "The Satanic Gases" — a little dated now, but gives a fairly even-handed summary of the evidence. Follow that up with McKitrick's "Taken by Storm" — a rather readable account of the challenges involved in modeling huge chaotic systems.You probably would not agree with all that they have written, Robert. (I know I don't). But it would at least bust open the convenient fiction of a scientific "consensus". Then you could make up your own mind, and stand tall again.It is worth remembering that when Pres. Eisenhower made his famous farewell speech warning about the military-industrial complex, he also warned about the dangers of the politicization of science through dependence on government funding. I suspect that is the real story behind the rather tenuous "concensus" on AGW.Let the President say it in his own words from 45 years ago –“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government…. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. …The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”

    Comment by Kinuachdrach | February 5, 2009

  55. I find it amazing that most of the population control crowd seem to be those who never conceived or some UN faction.
    Truth be told, the civilized Western societies in Europe are on a negative trend and the US and Canada are at around neutral, slight increase.
    The countries that are overpopulating are the ones we learned in high school and college as the third world. Many out of religious purposes do not practice the methods ascribed in the Western world, therehore, they are growing rapidly.

    I completely disagree that a president of this country (USA) should even discuss this idea. We are not the ones overpopulating.

    Unless you are suggesting controlling other countries population rates, which it seems the recent congress and administration has lifted the Mexico City Policy, or by some other means, this will never happen.

    I do not agree with the Mexico City Policy. I am not religious, I just feel that when I consider “Made in America” technology, I never foresaw that it would be in the form of this.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 6, 2009

  56. I find it amazing that most of the population control crowd seem to be those who never conceived or some UN faction.Truth be told, the civilized Western societies in Europe are on a negative trend and the US and Canada are at around neutral, slight increase.The countries that are overpopulating are the ones we learned in high school and college as the third world. Many out of religious purposes do not practice the methods ascribed in the Western world, therehore, they are growing rapidly.I completely disagree that a president of this country (USA) should even discuss this idea. We are not the ones overpopulating.Unless you are suggesting controlling other countries population rates, which it seems the recent congress and administration has lifted the Mexico City Policy, or by some other means, this will never happen.I do not agree with the Mexico City Policy. I am not religious, I just feel that when I consider “Made in America” technology, I never foresaw that it would be in the form of this.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 6, 2009

  57. Re: consensus

    Jim Prall is compiling a list of scientists drawn primarily from the AR4 WGI contributing authors, activist declarations, and climate skeptic declarations. Of the top 500 most cited authors, 4% have signed onto some kind of skeptical statement, while 36% have signed an activist statement. 52% of the 500 are IPCC authors, although that includes the occasional skeptic (e.g. John Christy).
    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/climate_authors_table.html

    A recent Gallup poll of publishing Earth Scientists found that the 82% agreed with the consensus (i.e. significant anthropogenic effect on the climate). When restricted to scientists actively publishing on climate change, that number rises to 89%, and when restricted to just climatologists, the number is 97%.
    http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    The AAAS, AGU, AMS, ACS, GSA and the Science Academies of the G8 Nations plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa also endorse.

    Comment by cce | February 9, 2009

  58. Re: consensusJim Prall is compiling a list of scientists drawn primarily from the AR4 WGI contributing authors, activist declarations, and climate skeptic declarations. Of the top 500 most cited authors, 4% have signed onto some kind of skeptical statement, while 36% have signed an activist statement. 52% of the 500 are IPCC authors, although that includes the occasional skeptic (e.g. John Christy).http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/climate_authors_table.htmlA recent Gallup poll of publishing Earth Scientists found that the 82% agreed with the consensus (i.e. significant anthropogenic effect on the climate). When restricted to scientists actively publishing on climate change, that number rises to 89%, and when restricted to just climatologists, the number is 97%.http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdfThe AAAS, AGU, AMS, ACS, GSA and the Science Academies of the G8 Nations plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa also endorse.

    Comment by cce | February 9, 2009

  59. “A recent Gallup poll of publishing Earth Scientists found that the 82% agreed with the consensus (i.e. significant anthropogenic effect on the climate). When restricted to scientists actively publishing on climate change, that number rises to 89%, and when restricted to just climatologists, the number is 97%.
    http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    cce, did you not read the post before you? Restricting to scientists actively publishing on climate change would indeed raise the number, as these scientists are surely dependent on their grants specifically designated for climate research. And what exactly is a climatologist? Is that code for a scientist who studies the anthropogenic effects on climate change, or climate change in general?

    And what is a consensus? Do we throw away a number like 4% as meaningless? Obviously, any scientist within that number would just be a “denier,” a kook or just plain nuts. After all, disagreeing over propositions and hypotheses is not what science is about. Science is about stating emphatically that what “we” have found to be true, is true, and anyone who disagrees is just wrong.

    Comment by Joshua | February 11, 2009

  60. “A recent Gallup poll of publishing Earth Scientists found that the 82% agreed with the consensus (i.e. significant anthropogenic effect on the climate). When restricted to scientists actively publishing on climate change, that number rises to 89%, and when restricted to just climatologists, the number is 97%.http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf“cce, did you not read the post before you? Restricting to scientists actively publishing on climate change would indeed raise the number, as these scientists are surely dependent on their grants specifically designated for climate research. And what exactly is a climatologist? Is that code for a scientist who studies the anthropogenic effects on climate change, or climate change in general? And what is a consensus? Do we throw away a number like 4% as meaningless? Obviously, any scientist within that number would just be a “denier,” a kook or just plain nuts. After all, disagreeing over propositions and hypotheses is not what science is about. Science is about stating emphatically that what “we” have found to be true, is true, and anyone who disagrees is just wrong.

    Comment by Joshua | February 11, 2009

  61. The world is not overpopulated. 75% is water. The following huge land masses are underpopulated: Canada, central US, central S. America, most of Africa, most of Northern Asia, Antarctica, and Australia. There are definitely small pockets of over population which are limited to coatal US, Europe, South Asia, Japan, and some others. Even a ride through my home state of NJ takes one through miles and miles of farm land and forests. Overpopulation is obviously a myth.

    Comment by Stan Baer | April 1, 2009


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