The Problem of Too Many People
Andrew McKillop from West England writes:
Dr. Wilken, Yesterday, you wrote:
At the moment we have far too many “cells” (human individuals) and no one should be allowed to reproduce at all. We must reduce the human population drastically. We may have to limit reproduction to every other generation. Or to less than 5% of population zero levels.
Our only choice is will we do this voluntarily with compassion, intelligence and love. Or will we wait for a nuclear, chemical, or biological war and/or major eco-castrophe to do it for us.
Dr. Wilken, I totally agree with what you say
But, how do you respond to dreamers saying something like:
“If we all converted to Gandhi’s lifestyle (that is AFTER he quit being a fancy lawyer) then world population of say 20 Billion could be sustained ?”
To me this kind of argument, usually backed by an accusation that if you dont agree with it you are a Nazi-minded ‘eugenist’, is as sophist as saying “if we covered X thousand sq kms of desert with solar cells we could escape energy-triggered economic crisis and civil or international war and strife”
Because it isnt possible in the timeframe we have. Maybe 85% of ‘ordinary well-informed citizens’ in advanced industrial societies either don’t know, or don’t believe that fossil energy supply will start tapering down pretty damn fast in the next 10 years. Nearly all the other 15% are sure something will be done to avoid any difficulties coming from fossil energy exhaustion.
These not-so-sunny optimists will tell you we got to the Moon, but has anybody any figures on the fossil energy subsidies needed to get people to the Moon (or even cook up a reasonable fake Moon landing) ? Bet they were out of this world (sorry for bad joke)
They will tell you we can that is could scoop un liquid hydrogen from Jupiter to bring back to Earth for H2 fuelled SUVs, or fix a few Moon-size solar reflectors in space, or just simply re-engineer human beings with robotics, nanotechnologies and genetic engineering. So easy! Future SUVs would be 1-inch long, would really turn on a nickel
Meantime, in the real World, dinosaur-minded politicians and warleaders crunch around for the last major reserves of the Jurassic Energy Fix.
Thanks for your question and comments Andrew. Let me address them one at a time.
Let us begin with the premise that the human population has exceeded the sustainable limits of Earth’s Natural Resources. Let us further agree that we have achieved this enormous human population only by using our powerful human intelligence to exploit and rapidly consume most of the fossil fuels on our planet within 100 years. This is what (those of us who are waking up) are now calling The Overpopulation-Fossil Fuel Depletion-Global Warming Crisis.
1) Can we solve our crisis by living a simpler low tech-low energy lifestyle like Gandi proposed?
Yes, if we reduce our human population to less than 20 million. That means ~5.8 million humans will dieoff.
2) Can we cover the earth with Solar Collectors and continue our present lifestyle?
No, Solar Technology requires enormous non-solar energy to create and maintain the hardware necessary to collect power from the sun. The last of the energy necessary to create such a technology is being burned up in our automobiles and war machines as we speak.
3) Can we be rescued by some as yet undeveloped new technology that will give us cheap and unlimited energy?
No, the Earth in finite. In fact, the Universe is finite. That means there are limits. We have reached them here on this small planet.
What can we do ?
We humans need to stop our striving to earn our livings for a few minutes, and take time to think. We are the currently dominant form of life on this planet because of our intelligence.
Intelligence produces different levels of knowing. One of the levels of knowing is called Knowledge. An example of knowledge is knowing how to build a nuclear weapon. Another level of knowing is called Wisdom. An example of wisdom is knowing NOT to make nuclear weapons.
Today, most humans living in the modern world are locked in the mindless routine of earning their livings, while responsibility for their futures rests in the hands of elected politicians who live in a One Dollar=One Vote Neutral system of political-economics.
This Neutral System cannot create a positive future.
Today, most humans living in the third world are locked in mindless struggle for basic survival, while responsibility for their future rests with the warlords who live in a One Bullet=One Vote system of Aversary political-economics.
This Adversary System cannot create a positive future.
The only way humanity will have a positive future is if we change the rules. To do this all we have to do is change our minds.
We can restructure our lives. We can stop driving cars. We can move information instead of people. With our new powerful communication technology, we don’t need automobiles, we don’t need airplanes. We don’t need mass transit. We can live locally and support our lives locally.
We can take a look at what we need not what we what. It is time to grow up. Put away advertising. Put away the neutral way of consumerism. We humans can work together to solve our problems. We can stop having children NOW. Reproduction is not a right. It is a privilege. And, it is a privilege that belongs to Humanity as Community, not to Humanity as Individual.
Neutrality is based on unlimited resources. In any limited environment, it must fail. Guess what ?
It is failing. And, that failure is occuring right NOW in our lifetime!