I just watched Earth 2100, a 2009 program that posits the collapse of civilization by 2100 if business as usual continues. Somehow I'd missed it on TV that year. It's sobering, but plausible to realize that children already born might live to see the end of global civilization. The hopeful talk at the end doesn't even mention the underlying problem of overpopulation.
I should warn you that after watching the series of YouTube videos, that conveniently came on one after the other, I had trouble getting a proper link for it. Then YouTube wouldn't let me sign into my account. There's something wrong with the site. My husband had the same trouble two days ago.
Zero Population Growth (now called the Population Connection) has been working on the problem for decades in the face of staunch opposition from Republicans, Fundamentalist Christians, Catholics and splinter groups, like the Quiverful Movement. Bush II so sweetly imposed the global gag rule on information about contraception as well as abortion -- women all over the world are being forced to bear children they don't want and can't support.
But the other part of the problem is people who truly believe that they are obeying god's will to be fruitful and multiply, and that god is taking care of the world (I talked to a Mormon last week who firmly believes that -- not open to discussion). Filipinos, for example, are so totally under the yoke of the Catholic church that there is no room for discussion.
I remember when China started its only-child policy, and how outraged people in the US were. Personally, I thought it was a good idea, although it is certain that people like Americans would never stand for it. However, it has resulted in female infanticide, because Chinese families want BOYS, and is causing a problem because there are not enough women for all those boys to marry. So it wasn't an ideal solution.
And the problem isn't really about stopping population growth -- we desperately need to get the population DOWN. Of course, I'm not advocating killing people (as the forementioned groups immediately infer without listening), but we need better social problems to care for elderly people who have chosen not to have children and therefore need the social safety net because they DON'T have family to act as free, and overworked caretakers. Children, and lots of them, have traditionally been the insurance program for the old, and we have to change that way of thinking. But we can't do it under current Republican and Christian oppression.
I keep thinking about the utopia that we might have if our population was low enough but sufficient for everyone to have a decent quality of life (which doesn't include 300 pairs of shoes for people like Imelda Marcos, or private jet planes for executives), but where our resources were sufficient for people to enjoy eating fish without threatening the very existence of edible species, and homes without threatening the existence of forests, not to speak of politically caused famines, like in Somalia!
Incurable idealist, I am!
In 1988 four other teachers and I wrote science curriculum units for the school district. One of the units was on endangered species the other was on human population growth.
After looking at all the factors influencing human population growth, we came to realize that the religious, economic and cultural anchors would never allow for a voluntary control and only world wide draconian laws could stabilize the population. Short of that, we will see, at some point, a rapid die off of the human population. The poorest regions of the world will be the first – the Horn of Africa on a much, much wider scale.
Humanitarian aid even when efficient and unencumbered will not meet the needs – food stuffs are not infinite and the logistics of delivery and distribution to meet the needs will become insurmountable. Water supplies are polluted and scarce, medicine and medical care is rare or absent, social order is minimal or absent but violence and brutality is in abundance .
When the population of any organism over grows the carrying capacity of their environment a rapid die off of the population will occur – true of bacteria, plants, rabbits, deer, warthogs , human beings and everything in between.....Ecology 101.
The human population, in a primitive state, has far exceeded the natural carrying capacity of its environment Our technology has pushed the carrying capacity ever larger but we are reaching the limits of that safety net. So short of some remarkable technological, economic and social innovations in the next 3 or 4 decades things will become increasingly ugly – and the death toll will be staggering.
I don't know whether I got the following from you or not, but:
I know I was mightily impressed by it, and I think it strongly relates to the whole business of overpopulation and overuse of resources ... and I thought I'd mention it here.
Hmm so maybe in the long run the Nazis had the right idea after all :P >> Except for killing the homosexuals of course, we need more of those and more non-reproductive sex to cut down on humanities suicidal birth-rate; less violence is a beneficial side-effect.
Of course the epic alternative is to expand to the planets and then the stars... but this is unlikely to be the case.
You hit a nerve there. How in the world could the Nazis have had the right idea? By preserving blond-haired, blue-eyed Christians? They even had a project called Lebensraum that would kidnap appropriately-colored girls out of school and send them to camps where appropriately-colored soldiers could have their way with them in order to produce more "pure Aryan" babies. Ugh! is not a strong enough term.
And I'm not even mentioning the family I lost.
Those aren't the only alternatives.
I'd prefer a global computer based system, where every person has to choose a breeding group according to their own values. A world council of all groups sets birth limits per-person based on sustainability, and each group decides how to distribute the birth permits among their members. It would be international, so the poorest individual in the poorest country would compete on a level playing field with the richest person in the wealthiest country. Each group would be stuck with the consequences of their choices. For example, if your group preferred religious purity and mine preferred intelligence, over generations your group would stagnate into true believer robots and mine would get smarter. Since the groups would compete for members of each new generation to join, sorting would occur. Those which cling to poor choices would get poor reputations. Members in the same group from developed and poor countries would have stronger ties than to their nations.
It's just one suggestion to incorporate personal empowerment and diversity with sustainable population policy. I'm sure many more creative approaches are possible.