The Malthusians amongst you will agree with the fact that the worlds population has grown significantly resulting in you thinking that the population size is now too big for the planet to cope with. I do not stand within your number. I have differing opinions.
The world is a big place although our technology can make it seem smaller at times. The population has reached 7 billion, which is a lot by anyone’s standards, but like all things it is relative. In this case it’s relative to the size of the planet and the resources available to feed, house and support the population. On the face of it there are people who suggest that the population is already too great, our Malthusians fellows.
To clarify a wee bit about Malthusians you might to have a quick look here. You may be already aware of one of the more high profile organisations Populations Matters (PM) (previously know as The Optimum Population Trust), it doesn’t sound so bad does it? The PM has some high profile supporters such as David Attenborough that nice man who hugs gorillas, talks in a nice soft voice and was involved in a sleight of hand incident with a polar bear. The Duke of Edinburgh, President Emeritus of WWF, also believes that the world population has grown too large. Another name for you is Paul Ehrlich described by the Guardian as “the world’s most renowned population analyst, It’s strange that anyone at all listens to him as he has been predicting doom in the shape of mass human deaths due to food shortages for 40 years. In fact this gentleman should surely be a recipient of a Nobel Prize for getting so many predictions wrong!
To put things into perspective all of the current world population could be contained within the State of Texas. Okay the density of people would be similar to New York but not as dense as in some other parts of the world. Texas is a fairly big place but in terms of the world it’s not that big and I think this points to an issue about how space, land and resources are owned, controlled and used. Could it be the rich have a huge amount of space to live in which might get pressured if population growth continues?
As far as resources are concerned food production is higher than it’s ever been although it could be better still if we stopped using fertile ground for growing bio-fuels, soya and such like. We have the technology and the skills to continue to grow more from less without indulging in any unpalatable practices (Solyent Green anyone?).
The is another way of thinking about this.
All the evidence we have of increasing population sizes within established countries point to the fact that prosperity reduces populations. It does so because people have more choices, one of which being how many children will they have and the answer is always less than before prosperity. There are good reasons for people to have more children when they live in poverty –
- high birth mortality rates;
- high child mortality rates up to, and beyond 5 years of age,;
- having more children so there is someone to look after the parents in their old age;
- having more children who will get jobs and bring money into the home;
- having children to sell them.
No matter how you view this it s a disgrace when there is so much wealth in the world.
The biggest issue of course, following a decision to reduce the world population by at least half, is how would it be done? I’d assume that those of a Malthusian persuasion would be first in the queue. Okay I jest they’d be the last not the first. So how would it be done? Crims first? Oldies next? People with health issues, then bankers, and so on and so forth? Does this sound familiar?
Of course there would also be a need to maintain the population at or just below the decreed size. How would that be managed? Replace someone who dies with a new baby? What happens if someone gets carried away and has twins when they don’t have permission?
The whole thing is ridiculous, as ever there is only one solution although in two parts. Firstly make the whole world prosperous, be honest it’s ridiculously overdue, criminally actually and secondly rely on mans ingenuity to progressively find solutions to food needs whilst also planning a future which would include more then one planet.