Does the world suffer from overpopulation? The website of Fathers for Life (affiliated with the blog of dads & things) contains a number of web pages that discuss various aspects of world-population control, such as the concerns raised by politicians, social engineers and the media about the specter of the world-population “explosion.” It seems that the argument is raised for the purpose of creating unreasonable fear, which fear is then used to rationalize population control though voluntary and compulsory means that bring about, and have done so for more than two decades already on an unprecedented scale, the killing of children about to born, thereby to prevent those children from being born, and to do that at the rate of about 50 million children a year in the world.
Given the relatively small size of the world population and the relatively insignificant amount of biomass that humanity presents (e.g.: the biomass of insects is many times larger and that of the planet’s vegetation many more times larger yet), why is there any concern about the size of the world population, and why do we hear so much and so often about it?
The answer to that is fairly simple. People consume things: food, materials, goods and resources. The fear is that if the world population grows unchecked, the consumption of the things “needed” by humans will increase so much that it will exhaust the capacity of the earth to make them available. Nevertheless, that is a somewhat dumb argument.
Even though there appears to be no limit to humanity’s greed for Paradise on Earth, consumption by humans is limited by the availability of resources. If we run out of things, we will automatically stop increasing our consumption. Not all natural resources are limited. Some are renewable, such as food crops, but many others that are ostensibly limited, such as mineral resources, limited only by how much we are willing to pay for them — therefore virtually unlimited. There are not enough people alive now or later to permit anyone to accurately estimate whether any of earth’s natural resources can truly and definitively become exhausted for as long as earth will support human life.
Some people smarter than I am calculated that the earth could easily feed 50 billion people and more, and I don’t doubt that at all, although that would require substantial changes to lifestyles and eating habits for many.
The food stuffs we can produce on our farm would sustain three good-sized villages, but we can’t afford to produce crops. There is insufficient market demand for what we can produce. Therefore the prices we can get for what we can produce are so low that it is not worth for us to try to produce them. Besides, not only are we unwilling to spend a lot of money to be able to carry on, money that we may never be able to pay back to the lenders, but we are plainly too old to carry on with making a living off our farm. So far none of our children and grandchildren have had the urge to prove us wrong by showing us that they can make a good living off the farm.
Therefore we leased our farm to someone who thinks that he can stay on top of things because of the economy of scale. He has much more land, larger machinery and less input of work per acre. Unfortunately, anyone in his position knows what problems he faces. The major cost inputs that he has to recover with what he can sell are for fuel, fertilizer, herbicides and machinery. He has no more control over the rising costs of those than he has over the price trends for the crops he sells.
He is not in trouble, but that is only because he has a full-time job with which he supports his farm operation.
At any rate, it is obvious that not just our farm but all of humanity is a long way from reaching maximum efficiency and rate of agricultural production, perhaps just as far away as we are from the need to have to feed 50 billion people or more.
Are we running out of land surface for people? If so, why?
Is the world overpopulated?
If all of the world’s people were located in the Province of Alberta (just a touch smaller in area than the State of Texas) and each were to have an equal share of all of the land in Alberta, then each of the world’s people would have 98.6m2 of land to live on.
Assuming that the average household consists of three people, a family of three would have enough space (3,184 ft2) for a moderately-sized house and a garden large enough to grow some of the food consumed by the family.
- Alberta land area: 661,565 km2, 255,541 miles2
- World population: 6,706,993,152 (Source: CIA World Factbook, July 2008 est.)
The availability of land, even the little bit more that would be required to feed all of those people and to provide them with the basic necessities of life other than food, doesn’t seem to be a limiting factor. If a small garden for each family is not big enough, well, have people live in apartment buildings and thereby reduce the size of their footprint on land used for food production. Besides, Alberta constitutes an insignificantly minuscule fraction of the total land surface of the world.
You may feel that I am over-simplifying the problem, and that the world is far more complex than I make it out to be? If so, please demonstrate where I went wrong and what must be done instead.
Regardless of the arguments anyone will produce to prove me wrong, I bet that the problem is not as much one of limits on basic necessities as it is one of limits to what are largely luxuries that consume disproportionately large shares of available natural resources.
Certainly, we can all agree that we should strive to prevent anyone from going hungry, that no one should walk around naked or freeze to death without a roof over his head.
We can afford to have a chicken in every pot and enough bread to go with that to make it a full meal, so as to prevent anyone from having to go hungry. That doesn’t take all that much, and what little it takes is easily done. It seems that we run into real serious limitations if we wish to give everyone more than those basic necessities. Some of us drive a 1½-ton car for two blocks to pick up nothing more than a package of cigarettes at the nearest corner store. The limitation in this case may be nothing more than that humanity cannot afford to give everyone on earth that privilege. Should that be legislated or decreed by government, or should we allow the free market full play: whoever can afford to drive a car let him; let the others walk?
Yes, maybe, let the one who can afford to drive also pay for the road that he drives on. The others only need a footpath and to walk on it only when the sun shines. However, the medical industry pretends that it can give everyone an unlimited number of organ transplants in attempts to extend his life indefinitely or even by an undefined number of years. That is most definitely limited by what we can afford to pay, but not only that. Organ transplant recipients have the nasty habit of dying on average about ten years after receiving major donor organs. So far there appears to be no solution to that, and as of now we do not know enough to be able to determine whether that will ever change.
So, if you don’t agree that 3,200 sq.ft. is enough land for every family of three to be able to fully sustain itself, how much land for that would be necessary and for what reasons? What lifestyle should Joe Average have, and how do we make sure that everyone in the world can achieve it? The attempts to reach that goal will most certainly not stop in our evermore increasingly socialist global civilization.
The question is why it should be necessary to kill children about to be born to make it possible to sustain the lifestyle that a few people reached in a few nations but that not all people in any or all nations can possibly become accustomed to? If we must exterminate 50 million children a year, why not 122 millions a year, and why not kill off all of those children that are being conceived? If fewer children is good, then no children must be best, right? That would fit the full deadliness of the world-wide rush towards socialism identified by Igor Shafarevich. There is no doubt in my mind that a global socialist state will result in the extinction of mankind; result at the very least in a very intensive and very long dark age for our civilization.
3. Socialist doctrines preserve the notion of the medieval mystics about the three stages in the historical process, as well as the scheme of the fall of mankind and its return to the original state in a more perfect form. The socialist doctrines contain the following components:
a. The myth of a primordial “natural state” or “golden age,” which was destroyed by that bearer of evil called private property.
b. A castigation of the way things are. Contemporary society is pronounced incurably depraved, unjust and meaningless, ready only to be scrapped. Only on its ruins can a new social structure be built, a structure that would guarantee people every happiness of which they are capable.
c. The prophecy of a new society built on socialist principles, a society in which all present shortcomings would disappear. This is the only path for mankind to return to the “natural state,” as Morelly put it: from the unconscious Golden Age to the conscious one.
Igor Shafarevich, The Socialist Phenomenon, p. 130
I often read The Socialist Phenomenon (its file can be very conveniently searched). The book confirms my impression that the prescription for the success of world-wide socialism calls for the creation of all-pervasive, absolute, total and global social chaos (including the loss of our respect for life, especially for the lives of the innocent and helpless). The problem with that is that it will take a virtually infinite interval of time before order can emerge out of chaos. By that time all of humanity will most likely be dead.
It is not in the best interest of humanity to attempt to save the globe by killing off humanity, especially not if humanity is not putting the globe into danger.