Thursday, August 28, 2008

More Fun With Newspaper Story Comments

In the comments to this Senator Orrin Hatch editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune, comes this gem:
ImpeachBushNow: 8/23/2008 11:19:00 AM

Who cares anymore. With idiots reproducing up to eight kids and demanding that they are "right" because there are more of them gives little chance for rational humans to exist on this planet knowing that there are limited resources available.

Gone ahead with your god-given right to have large families and take your state deductions. I'll keep paying for your little monsters to go to school and I definitely feed them at lunch time.

Do you really think we can just continue to flood the world with more people, who will need more food, more water, more resources to survive, and oh yeah... more energy, which with the current trend, means more pollution (something Orrin doesn't mention in his letters).

I can tell that Utah in particular is proud of their education system, because we seem to be creating some incredible problems for them to solve. HINT: you could stop rubbing stamping liars like Hatch.

You want to take a realistic aproach to solving any of our resourse needs, you might want to address the fact that some families choose to tax our resources more than others.
I have noticed this sentiment expressed for some time now. For instance, there's this comment to my letter about biofuels printed in the Deseret News:
liberal larry | 7:34 a.m. Mar. 15, 2008
The writer is correct that the production of befouls is distorting the price of global food commodities. In fact, almost all commodities are increasing in price because of the increasing consumption of nations like China and India. This is a natural out growth of the planets over population, there will continue to be a competition for the worlds scarce resourses, you better get used to it because there are limited amounts of the earth's oil, water, precious metals, wilderness etc. and no glimpse of population control in sight.
No glimpse of population control in sight? Holy cow.

Orson Scott Card recently wrote about the energy issues we're facing, and how every alternative has been opposed at one time or another by environmental groups who proclaim that the only real alternative is to have fewer humans. He astutely pointed out that "I haven't noticed them volunteering to lessen the population starting with themselves; nor have I seen their heroes bicycling everywhere."

Which is only mostly correct. Well, the heroes not bicycling is completely true, but the other part about not volunteering to lessen the population themselves is only partially so. I haven't yet heard of any "save the planet" mass suicides, but last year the UK's Daily Mail reported how some men and women are sterilizing themselves so as not to harm the planet by reproducing. Some choice quotes from that story include,
"When I see a mother with a large family, I don't resent her, but I do hope she's thought through the implications."

"Sarah and I live as green a life a possible. We don't have a car, cycle everywhere instead, and we never fly. "We recycle, use low-energy light bulbs and eat only organic, locally produced food. "In short, we do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. But all this would be undone if we had a child. "That's why I had a vasectomy. It would be morally wrong for me to add to climate change and the destruction of Earth.
Sigh. We seem to be reaping the consequences of Al Gore's "it's a moral issue" global warming/environmentalist crusade.

But guess what? These moral crusaders are flat out wrong.

My inaugural post on this blog concerned the myth of overpopulation. Once again there had been a letter printed in the Deseret News that furthered the myth, claiming that "enlightened observers" knew that overpopulation was the real culprit behind all of the world's problems. So I responded with a letter of my own. In it I included the following information:

-Half the world lives in nations with sub-replacement fertility
-The population of 51 countries or areas is expected to be lower in 2050 than in 2005
-It is widely believed that there will be an underpopulation crisis in Japan by 2014
-The US Census Bureau predicts the level of fertility for the world as a whole will drop below replacement level before 2050
-Today, 20% of developed nations’ population is 60 years old or over. By 2050 the proportion will be 32%.

These are facts conveniently left out during the "overpopulation" section in school. We have been consistently bombarded with humankind-as-the-enemy messages, and those chickens are coming home to roost.


eva said...

Wow, pretty creative assumptions you have there.

For one thing, you seem to lean on estimates out to 2050 that assume no significant changes caused by overpopulation, peak oil, or environmental collapse between now and then. Estimates by those disconnected from religious ideologies or financial incentives to maintain the status quo make no such assumptions and just look at the data.

Good examples of that approach include and of course

We’ve already exceed global carrying capacity. We are now in “overshoot”. Global population is nearing 7 billion. Global carrying capacity is about 2 billion. (This assumes some level of social justice and a moderate, low by US standards, standard of living.) We will get to that 2 billion number the hard way (wars, famine, disease, and their accompanying losses of environmental quality, freedom, and social justice) OR the less hard way (immediately and drastically reducing our population voluntarily).

It’s too late for any “us” vs “them” arguments or any belief that national boundaries will do much to help anyone. This is a global issue with local and nation-state consequences. For example, immigration is a consequence of overpopulation, not a cause of it.

One of the key factors in this scenario is also our sense of time. This is a slow motion crash that requires immediate action, a bit like trying to steer a supertanker on a crash course by putting in consistent input over a multi year time frame, and the one effective input is to stop making babies. (Yes all of us and yes everywhere.) The supertanker analogy is also apt because it was oil that allowed us to get this far out on a limb, and peak oil has already happened.

Other good resources include:
How Many People Should The Earth Support?

Earth’s Carrying Capacity

Peak Oil, Carrying Capacity and Overshoot: Population, the Elephant in the Room:

Cameron said...

Wow, where do you people come from and how do you find me?

My "assumptions" are all UN data.

Paul Chefurka said...

Since my name has already popped up in a comment, I thought I'd throw my two cents in here.

The population bun-fight generally devolves into a stand-off: "The first world has to reduce their consumption, but not their population" vs. "The third world has to reduce their population, but not their consumption."

One thing that would be helped by a reduction in human population, no matter which "world" you're talking about, is biodiversity loss. Human populations out-compete all other species for habitat, and it takes very little human encroachment to reduce regional biodiversity.

Beyond that one area it becomes a question of human impact as symbolically expressed by I=PAT, where the higher levels of technology and activity come into play alongside sheer population numbers.

In order to avoid puerile charges of promoting genocide, I've adopted the following position (which I also think is how it's actually going to play out):

1. Human population growth (but not our absolute numbers) will continue to decline due to the ongoing world-wide decrease in birth rates. This decline is being driven largely by the spread of affluence.

2. Absolute human numbers will eventually be reduced by involuntary resource shortages and system failures induced by the spread of affluence through a growing population as described in point 1.

We can help along the declining growth rate in point 1 by educating and empowering women as well as by expanding access to family planning knowledge and technology. Mother Nature will take care of point 2.

And yes, I'm child-free and sterilized.

eva said...

As usual Paul Chefurka is far more elegant and eloquent than me, which is why I refer people to his website whenever possible.
(Thanks for playing here, Paul!)

I entirely agree with both of Paul's points 1 and 2. However, I also encourage people to take more "radical" (from my point of view "reasonable" action now: initiate a more controlled population crash now by ceasing to have children. (Yes everyone, yes everywhere.)

While this is unlikely, people have done other unlikely things, and doing so would reduce the horrific suffering to come as outlined by Paul's point 2.

(And yes, I too am childfree and sterilized.)

Reach Upward said...

Save the planet. Kill yourself!

We were already supposed to be in a huge food shortage crisis according to the doomsdayers of my childhood days. Instead, we've got a worldwide obesity epidemic which may curtail lifespan anyway.

Anonymous said...

Quotes from Saturday's Warrior are flooding through my mind.

I am a mother of three. My 12 year old son is planning on inventing an alternative-fuel Ford Mustang. My middle child will probably be a teacher - science is my guess. And my baby girl - she's going to run this place some day. You can talk about zero population all you want - I'm going to work on making the world a better place and teaching my kids to do the same.

Anonymous said...

There is no inherent conflict between “going to work on making the world a better place and teaching my kids to do the same” and in advocating for, taking responsibility for, and taking direct personal action to address overpopulation.

All parents want the best for their children, but 26,000 children die every day from starvation, malnutrition, or easily treated diseases made more deadly due to malnutrition. (via Unicef: State of the World’s Children 2008) The reasons for this are complex, but a primary reason is overpopulation.

A few other things that might be worthy of your consideration:

What happens if every woman on the planet has three children, and their children have three children, etc, etc.?

What is the difference in use of limited global resources and the effect on the global environment if those children live in the US compared to say, rural China or northern Africa?

What will you teach your children about having children themselves? What you teach them (and what you do) is your answer to the question “what kind of world to you want?”