1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Is overpopulation cause for concern?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by LucyDuke, Feb 12, 2009.

?

So what's up?

  1. There's no such thing as "too many people". We gotta make more babies.

    7.6%
  2. There is such a thing as "too many people", but we won't reach that number because it's so high.

    4.2%
  3. There is such a thing as "too many people", but we won't reach it because of technology.

    7.6%
  4. It's a concern, but it's far off and not really worth worrying about yet.

    6.3%
  5. We should start thinking about the problem, but there's no need to panic.

    17.4%
  6. We need to start now with methods like birth control and sustainable development.

    43.8%
  7. We need to start now with methods like forcibly sterilizing andor killing people.

    2.1%
  8. There's only enough room for me. I'm going to be killing the rest of you now, if you don't mind.

    6.3%
  9. Let me explain why none of your poll options are good enough for me.

    4.9%
  1. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    44,640
    Location:
    Pale Blue Dot youtube=wupToqz1e2g
    Well, consider that a few places have suffered catastrophic failure due to overpopulation since Malthus. These were politically distinct and mismanaged, but still: even though lots of people had guns and the will to use it, they weren't able to account for the externalities of others.

    As climate changes, the fact that we have defended borders is going to mean that overpopulation will become important for citizens that are prevented from migrating out of famine regions.
    We also have to ask whether we've denied Malthus by finding new resources or if we'd just increased the scope of our resource consumption. We're at a stage of development now where almost all food production is entirely dependent upon oil; so it's obviously limited by oil or other fossil fuels. However, most farms are losing topsoil every year due to the way they're farmed: this might not matter where there is lots of topsoil, but it matters where there is 'some' topsoil.

    The number of fishing stocks that have become nonrecoverable have only increased since Malthus, and we're now at the point where 75% of fish stocks are 'threatened' or worse. While building to the current population, we've threatened (or worse) 75% of fish stocks: so the trend is clearly unsustainable.

    A huge number of regions have their aquifers going down; few are going up. This means that the 'free water' that we're currently using is going to become very expensive. Even Israel, which uses water rather carefully, has lowering aquifers. And their aquifers are becoming increasingly polluted. Finally, the wetlands that naturally clean water before they drain into aquifers are being taken away.

    So, soil, fish, water and ultimately fossil fuels are all being depleted. It doesn't really matter if you can poo-pooh one or two of those concerns away, either, because they're all risk factors in over-population.

    And, finally, as a great indicator: in wealthy countries, the amount of money a poor person has to spend to get a healthy diet continues to increase as a percentage of their income. Even in Canada, the poor are having a harder time eating healthy. If that's a trend, it's a scary trend.
     
  2. bender19

    bender19 Warlord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2005
    Messages:
    259
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Australia has more wilderness than any European country. So Australia is unsustainable because it has mines? Think where those resources end up. They go to China, Japan and other Asian countries, they're then manufactured into goods and exported to Europe and America. So Australia has more than enough resources for itself, it has so much it can afford to export it, and because it exports resources that Europeans have long since depleted Europeans can live comfortably. If we close most of our mines and turn our farms into forests people in Europe and Asia will end up living in abject poverty. We export 2/3 of our agriculture, does that mean our population is unsustainable or are the people we export to unsustainable? We can more than sustain ourselves, wether we can long term sustain people in Europe and Asia is another issue. Australia has an abundance of natural resources per capita, if there's any sustainablity impact it is because we export to countries that don't have an abundance, Japan would be top of the list.
     
  3. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Messages:
    44,640
    Location:
    Pale Blue Dot youtube=wupToqz1e2g
    Is it sustainably exporting 2/3rds of its food? Because, if it's not, then its net ability to export is going to go down, while demands for its exports is going to go up. More and more people are going to encourage short-term increases in the exports, for profits. And then there's immigration from the overpopulated countries to worry about.
     
  4. PiMan

    PiMan Emperor

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Messages:
    1,997
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Australia is not excessively over populated, however the vast wilderness we have is largely uninhabitable for people due to lack of water.
    Most of our unsustainability comes from water use, and non-renewable resource use for power generation. And if we make the assumption (that I think is quite reasonable) that global warming is human caused and is going to be as bad as they say, then we are contributing more to that per capita than all bar USA.
     
  5. Winner

    Winner Diverse in Unity

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2004
    Messages:
    27,947
    Location:
    Brno -> Czech rep. >>European Union
    And there will be about 5 billion too many people :p

    Earth simply can't take these numbers, that's a fact some people prefer to remain blind to.

    Read Collapse, it will answer all your questions. It's not about mining minerals, it is about mining the environment, as Diamond calls it. Australia has never been a particularly hospitable continent, but the Australians are ignoring this fact. Their methods of agricultural production are destroying the only fertile regions in Australia.
     
  6. bender19

    bender19 Warlord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2005
    Messages:
    259
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    I'm not going to read it, I don't have time. However saying go read this doesn't prove a point. Your theory assumes that these unsustainable practices will continue indefinitely it also probably not an overly robust idea. It also assumes present levels of consumption are maintained.

    Lets assume though the world is overpopulated, thats there's 'carrying capacities' that have been exceeded. Australia is none the less far less vulnerable.

    Here's a link to a website that shares your opinion that the world is overpopulated and indeed has quantified it:
    http://www.population.org.au/index.php/population/affluence/carrying-capacity/142-carrying-capacity

    Reputedly Australia population now 22 million has a capacity at present consumption of 10 million, and 21 million if we live modestly. Indeed if the theory holds prices will quickly rise we won't be able to presumably afford to live the present lifestyle. Indeed we're quite close to sustainable under this theory.

    The world meanwhile has a capacity of 4.6 billion under present lifestyle, 3.1 billion if we live modestly. Implying relative to the world Australia is better off.

    Lets take a couple of your pillars of sustainability. Japan with its then population of 127 million has a capacity of 13 million under present lifestyle, 23 million under a modest lifestyle. Clearly by any stretch of the imagination japan is overpopulated relative to Australia.

    Western Europe then population 387 million, present lifestyle capacity 129 million, modest lifestyle 251 million. Welcome to mass starvation. Eastern and central Europe then population 350 million, present capacity 238 million and modest capacity 286 million.

    Not entirely true, we have more arable land per capita than anywhere in the world. In terms of water availability per capita we rank 19th in the world:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/env_wat_ava-environment-water-availability
    In terms of severe water stress we're 64th in the world, so there's 63 countries worse off:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/env_wat_sev_wat_str-environment-water-severe-stress
    Bare in mind alot of that water contributes to food we export. We have water issues thats mostly due to management though. Often water is too cheap, there's usually no proper market, its usually provided by the government. Alot of the problem could be solved with storage and transferring water from high rainfall areas to low rainfall areas.

    Global warming though is a different proposition to food sustainability. We may pollute more than most however this has nothing to do with overpopulation, its entirely due to placing no real cost on pollution.
     
  7. suiraclaw

    suiraclaw Hell is other people

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    161
    Location:
    Belgium
    Not participating in the above discussion, but I have to say that statistic is misleading. While Belgium has the second most rainfall of Europe (after the Netherlands) and is a "wet" country where getting water is extremely easy it's ranked high on the list because all territory we have is populated. Other drier countries where water is expensive are ranked lower because a lot of areas there aren't populated. Like Sweden: it's the country with the least rainfall in whole Europe but is ranked extremely low in that statistic.

    Ie. you get the effect: area is too dry -> not many people live there -> water consumption is low in that area -> doesn't appear in the statistic

    But again, not making any point in the above discussion. It's very well possible Australia does have good water availability, I'm not argumenting that (just that the statistic doesn't say how many water there is available, only how much areas have too much people in it for the water available).

    edit: also, the way you use the water available is important
     
  8. ZB2

    ZB2 New wave Ideology

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2006
    Messages:
    678
    Location:
    Europe
    Not sure if it's already been presented, but an article in Focus (an incredibly reputable Science magazine) showed a table of population predictions;

    By 2012 there will be 7 Billion people,
    By 2050 there will be 12 Billion people

    We allready have more than 1 billion across the globe without adequete water facilities, and hundreds of millions across an entire continent without proper food. Our [Western] agricultural abilities only have a finite range of production. If we cannot be capable of sharing or redoubling current food today, how can we be expected to do so in 40 years when our population has doubled?

    This epic Mathuasian-esc catastrophe goes right alongside Climate Change. With more and more people on the planet, the industrial output will (naturally) increase to match. Only furthuring the destructive impact on the climate, and reducing our longevity
     
  9. mrt144

    mrt144 Deity

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2007
    Messages:
    11,121
    Location:
    Seattle
    I might be concerned about this if I had a child to inherit the future I create, but I'm not having a child.
     
  10. ZB2

    ZB2 New wave Ideology

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2006
    Messages:
    678
    Location:
    Europe
    Then why not be concerned for all the other Children?
     
  11. Kerozine

    Kerozine Deity

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,213
    Through increased voluntary conversion to vegetarianism, because by then meat products will have become prohibitively expensive.
     
  12. mrt144

    mrt144 Deity

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2007
    Messages:
    11,121
    Location:
    Seattle
    I'm tired of the negative effect children (and Mothers) have on my daily life and consumption habits.
     
  13. ZB2

    ZB2 New wave Ideology

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2006
    Messages:
    678
    Location:
    Europe
    Meat is one thing, but I was thinking of agricultural production: grain, wheat, rice etc.

    Genetically modified crops for the arid nations is important for their human survival, but I think that is only postponing the fact we just have too many as it is.
     
  14. Kerozine

    Kerozine Deity

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,213


    Ja, what about?
     
  15. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    32,588
    Location:
    Moscow
    Rome didn't collapse because of population issues. :)
     
  16. civ_king

    civ_king Deus Caritas Est

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    16,368
    mass starvation pending?
     
  17. Kerozine

    Kerozine Deity

    Joined:
    May 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,213
    It doesn't look like it anytime soon.
     
  18. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2002
    Messages:
    27,984
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, Florida
    It collapsed for many reasons but it clearly couldn't maintain it's population, could it?

    Resource depletion is ultimately made worse by overpopulation, no doubt about it. Soil depletion is not directly a population issue but it's accelerated by high populations.

    Talking of overpopulation, there are waaay too many pets (mostly carnivorous) in the Western world. Your average cat or dog probably has a higher eco-footprint than your average African (especially fat ones). I plan to do my part to not take on any more felines after mine die (hopefully not for another twenty years or so). All my animals from now on are gonna be pulling their own weight (probably a goat or two).
     
  19. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    32,588
    Location:
    Moscow
    The primary source of population problems in the Roman Empire was disease. Agricultural output in most of the Empire was actually increasing all the way up to its fall.
     
  20. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2002
    Messages:
    27,984
    Location:
    St. Petersburg, Florida
    Which just goes to show that agricultural output as an isolated statistic is not the only factor in maintaining a sustainable population.

    What about the quality of that output? Degraded soils lead to degraded food lead to degraded populations. You can get enough calories & still be undernourished (and thus more prone to disease). Starvation is not nature's only method for culling the herd.
     

Share This Page