Thursday, June 09, 2005

elbow room versus breathing room

Population. I don't want to overdo this post; much ink has been spilled on the topic. People project their politics and economic beliefs into the discussion and confusion ensues.

I don't have a horse in this race. Die-off may come, or `we' may die of old age. Oh, and when I say we, I am excluding the Sudan, where the Die-off proceeds apace.

It is not necessary for population to rise:
(the better to increase property value).

It is not necessary for population to fall:
(the better to hunt wild goats in Old Suburbia).

More interesting is the sense I get from a wide range of people that perhaps we have overdone things a bit. That we are heedlessly growing in population, not due to some grand overarching plan, but rather because nature wired us to fuck like bunnies.

I asked my readers to weigh in, most (all) were negative, given the basically open-ended (200 year!) timeline. Some of you lurkers might cite numbers such as 9 billion as being ideal; the earth being a bounded sphere means at some level beyond that we'd be shoulder to shoulder, ecologically and spiritually if not physically.

Point being, if one believes there should be an upper limit, any limit at all to population, logically, there is minimal basis to hoot and holler at people who want slightly less.

You say 20 billion people, I say 3 billion, we're saying the same thing. Just a matter of degree.

Earth is always one generation away from the possibility of no humans existing at all. This could happen spontaneously, although the odds are about that same that I will quantum tunnel into my driveway.

Lesser, localized Die-Off events happened all throught the twentieth century. Die-off in the future could certainly happen as result from overshoot. It could happen due to genocide. It could happen due to comet strike.

So, with something like peak oil coming along, I gently suggest that for a generation or so we try and draw down our global population by making free contraception widely available on every continent. Not that anyone will listen. Somewhere, Ol' Scratch is laughing; HE KNOWS what I am proposing is impossible.

I propose draw down because peak oil is not the end of the world, and a draw down could just be a short term step. Stop, take stock, consume less as a race and figure a few things out: like what comes next, really next, after oil. Cause right now, I don't know if world is going to feed itself in 2030. I hear plenty of ideas. Some are quite plausible, like my suggestion that we share oil and put agriculture first, ahead of say, war.

Our population levels will always be transitory, shifting. No big.


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