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Are we overpopulated?


  

28 members have voted

  1. 1. Is the world overpopulated with people?

    • The world can support tremendous more people.
      3
    • Human population can increase but in the future people will need to control their population
      3
    • The earth is at a good population now.
      0
    • We are already overpopulated
      22


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I think that religious people are more likely to believe the whole world is for humans. That human life is good and the more people, the better. But I think that is a very anthropocentric position.

I believe the world is very much overpopulated with people. If you fly over the northeastern US, from Boston to New York and beyond you see dense cities that then give way to suburbs but no wilderness, then more dense cities. Flying over the Midwest you see a grid-like pattern of farmlands. All the fertile land is used to feed humans. In the west there is more rocky terrain that can't be farmed. While we can't farm mountainous, rocky terrain we can farm dry areas by piping in water from far away. Farms here look like many circular fields because of the round coverage of the irrigation systems.

Let's compare us to the white tail deer we have here in the US. What if white tail deer were to populate every continent. What if most of them lived in herds of hundreds of thousands, or even over a million deer. They would never be able to find food within such large herds so the deer would take over all the fertile land to grow food. Herds of more than a million would even populate the most desolate deserts (think Phoenix AZ). Populating these deserts would entail bringing water down from the mountains or other places with water. Who in their right mind would say that is not overpopulation? Anyone saying those deer are not overpopulated must believe that deer are so special that there could never be too many.

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That's logical and I appreciate the clarity with which you laid it out. However, as I mentioned, it has some unintended consequences that I'm personally unsure I'm ready to accept.  I'm referring sp

Vote now.   I think that religious people are more likely to believe the whole world is for humans. That human life is good and the more people, the better. But I think that is a very anthropocentri

If we just hang in there until Yellowstone erupts the problem will be fixed.

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Well, what's everyone think?

I think I may come across as an alarmist but I really do think the biggest problems facing planet Earth are all caused by human overpopulation. Problems such as pollution, feeding the humans, global warming, animal environment and extinction, etc. I think the human population has more impact on Earth than all other animals put together. On the other hand, some say humans are the most important animal on Earth and to a certain degree I have to agree.

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I do not think that the answer depends a lot on context. In short term the answer is obviously yes. If we could not sustain the population it would drop. The issue tend to be long-term projection and the amount of ecological damage and human suffering we want to put up with. Current data suggest that birth rates are declining or leveling out, and due to fill up we are likely to end up with stable population of 10 billion. If resources are insufficient for that, the resulting deaths will level that amount.

The big question is then the ecological consequences of such a population, and how improved resource use (e.g. alternative energy uses) can mitigate issues.

 

But overall, it has clearly been shown that education and empowering women had a tremendous effect on controlling population growth (as evidenced by reduced birth rates). In that regard, we do have a kind of population control.

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But overall, it has clearly been shown that education and empowering women had a tremendous effect on controlling population growth (as evidenced by reduced birth rates). In that regard, we do have a kind of population control.

 

I wonder if this "education" thing you speak of could help out with any of our other problems....

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We are vastly overpopulated. For about 69,700 years, the world's human population was stable at a few million, and then it has exploded dramatically in the past 300 (and especially in the last century). The overwhelming human presence on earth is driving climate change, resource shortages (food, water, fuel), and environmental damage, and it will only get worse as the number of people on the planet increases.

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We're clearly not being intelligent overall with how we're approaching the planet, but I do think it's overly simplistic to look solely at population numbers. More important than the overall number of humans alive is how we use resources and how we clean up after ourselves and how we integrate with the surrounding ecology. If we were smarter about those other things then we could support quite a lot more people. But, we're not smart. We're wasteful and short sighted and arrogant.

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I do think it's overly simplistic to look solely at population numbers. More important than the overall number of humans alive is how we use resources

I think it is all about the numbers. You may think we can populate the Earth all we want as long as we use the resources wisely. I think that is managing an extremely overpopulated Earth. I think we are overpopulated by a factor of thousands or 10's of thousands. There is no other animal that has taken over the landscape as much as humans. Sure you can find local areas where deer are overpopulated but not over the whole world like the humans are.

 

The overpopulation that humans experience is not found with any other large animal. But it does happen with smaller organisms such as bacteria, algae and yeast. Long ago before people learned how to keep food sterile and fresh they could not enjoy grape juice unless it was freshly crushed from grapes that were just picked. Within a couple days natural yeast would infect the juice. The yeast would eat the sugars and produce alcohol. The alcohol is their waste. Grape juice would turn to wine within a couple weeks. Bacteria would also infect the juice so this uncared for wine would also be sour. Within a few weeks the yeast would eat up all their food (sugar) and be swimming in their own waste (alcohol). At that point the yeast would die by the millions. This is the point that I think we humans are at. We humans live in cities of hundreds of thousands or millions. We can not get food in those densities EXCEPT for bringing our technologies into the problem. We can truck and transport food from the farmlands to the cities. If we had zero technologies our cities would die up just like the overpopulated yeast. Even if we migrated to the farmland and distributed our population over the fertile land we would not be able to sustain our population without technology. If we had to have our food so close that each of us had to walk out to our field and pick our own food. Or if we had to go out and kill our own animals most of our population would die off. There are lots of fertile land that can support lots of people but there is also a lot of very dry lands. Earth could not support our population without our technologies.

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So, what do you advocate we do about it, then? That's the point. We either start being smarter and more strategic in our approach to resource utilization and integration with the surrounding ecology or we start mass murdering people. We don't have a ton of other options, and the latter of the two doesn't sound all too appealing to me, but I suppose YMMV.

Edited by iNow
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So, what do you advocate we do about it, then?

Overpopulation is a problem that has no practical solution.

I hate to complain about things without a solution but I'm afraid that's what I'm doing. unsure.png

Edited by BusaDave9
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Overpopulation is a problem that has no practical solution.

I hate to complain about things without a solution but I'm afraid that's what I'm doing. unsure.png

 

I disagree. As CharonY mentioned, empowering women with knowledge of their own bodies, sex education including birth control, and education in general to give everyone more choices than childbearing can help control population. I know there was a study done in Mali where women with a secondary level of education had an average of 3 children while women without such education had an average of 7.

 

Practical solution? Instead of foreign aid in the form of money, why not offer to build schools and pay teachers instead?

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Phi for All, what you are talking about is ZPG or decreasing the population a bit but since my opinion is the earth is over a thousand times overpopulated that's why I don't think there is a practical solution.

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So, what do you advocate we do about it, then? That's the point. We either start being smarter and more strategic in our approach to resource utilization and integration with the surrounding ecology or we start mass murdering people. We don't have a ton of other options, and the latter of the two doesn't sound all too appealing to me, but I suppose YMMV.

We could always create incentives to reduce birthrates below replacement level, which, if successful, would gradually lower the population over time. That seems like the best solution to me.

Edited by kindheart
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Phi for All, what you are talking about is ZPG or decreasing the population a bit but since my opinion is the earth is over a thousand times overpopulated that's why I don't think there is a practical solution.

 

It sounds like your opinion has no mechanism for change. You'll always be able to say a solution is impractical because you think there is a "correct" population.

 

There are way more variables to human population than just the number of people, resources and current consumption. We find ways to conserve and make our tools more efficient all the time. Miniaturization, which seems to be an ongoing process, helps conserve a great deal. I'm hoping our tools get so good that they'll take us offworld. Perhaps resources and population won't be so much of a problem.

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Our world population growth has been quietly slowing as of late.

 

IMO the only issue we'll have to deal with is a finite population. Presents social problems for countries, but ecologically we'll be better off.

 

They've been making inroads on intercity gardens and skyscraper farming. Not sure on how it stacks up in terms of efficiency, but is a promising development.

 

I think we actually have enough resources for everyone. We'll probably end up with a renewable energy and recycling based economy. There's a whole lot of "garbage" sitting out there we can process. Any additional material we can use plants/microbes to produce/extract for us. Easily enough material goods available for everyone and we're already moving away from material possessions anyways.

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We could always create incentives to reduce birthrates below replacement level, which, if successful, would gradually lower the population over time. That seems like the best solution to me.

What types of incentives do you have in mind that might actually realize your stated goal/objective?

 

Millions and millions of years of evolution have created a rather strong drive to procreate within most of us, so I'm skeptical that a tax break or some extra skittles will be enough to meaningful change peoples patters of reproduction (there are also unintended consequences, like in China).

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What types of incentives do you have in mind that might actually realize your stated goal/objective?

 

Millions and millions of years of evolution have created a rather strong drive to procreate within most of us, so I'm skeptical that a tax break or some extra skittles will be enough to meaningful change peoples patters of reproduction (there are also unintended consequences, like in China).

Heavy fines for each birth above the one-child limit and criminal charges for having more than two biological children (excluding twins / multiples), combined with tax breaks (or cash payments) for electing to remain childfree, adopting, and so on.

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Heavy fines for each birth above the one-child limit and criminal charges for having more than two biological children (excluding twins / multiples), combined with tax breaks (or cash payments) for electing to remain childfree, adopting, and so on.

That's logical and I appreciate the clarity with which you laid it out. However, as I mentioned, it has some unintended consequences that I'm personally unsure I'm ready to accept.

 

I'm referring specifically to high rates of female infanticide and commonplace abortions of female fetuses that would result. We'd also be skewing ourselves toward a society of males who cannot find mates and are angry and restless and unsatisfied and hence more likely to become extremist and violent (sort of like we've seen these past 2 decades in the middle east).

 

Such policies would also skew the median age of the society toward the elderly, and the economy itself would ultimately falter because there would be labor shortages and more elderly drawing on healthcare and pensions and requiring familial support than there would be young workers to support them. Strangely, you'd have fewer people working and hence lower demand for products and consequently higher unemployment and hunger and suffering.

 

Also, having a single child generally leads to sociological and psychological problems in the kids... kids who will tend to be more spoiled by the parents, undisciplined, self-centered, and not well integrated into society... as well as lacking basic coping skills in group settings and increased chance of deficiencies in the general competitive spirit that is required to improve themselves and the world around them... primarily due to a lack of experience with siblings.

 

Even China is relaxing and even reversing its policy for these reasons, not to mention the outrage and anger they've caused among the populace.

 

Maybe instead we can invest more heavily in clean energy, water desalination, and even petri dish proteins? smile.png

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130806-lab-grown-beef-burger-eat-meat-science/

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post-100725-0-64474900-1382014641.jpeg

You can see where we are. If you have read my posts you can guess where I think our population should be.

This chart shows why I don't think there is a practical solution to our over population.

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attachicon.gifWorldPopulation.jpeg

You can see where we are. If you have read my posts you can guess where I think our population should be.

This chart shows why I don't think there is a practical solution to our over population.

 

I have read your posts. I think you have some ideal population in mind, and I think you have our best interests at heart, but reducing our population by the factors you want would also cripple one of our greatest strengths, our diversity. Our numbers, combined with an incredible capability for both communication and cooperation and our high intelligence, means we have people at many levels to fill all the needs of our society. Mix in our curiosity and our tool-making flair and we should have everything we need to overcome problems even at our current population.

 

I wish our high intelligence would allow for more respect for the planet we live on. I think that should be taught in the schools. I grew up with First Lady Johnson's "Keep America Beautiful" program, and to this day I can't stand littering, even the thought of it.

 

I get the feeling you want us to go back to a simpler time, and I don't think it's our destiny to go backwards. We know our star isn't going to last forever, so reverting back to a tiny population means we live out our lives here until something destroys the planet or the system, and then it won't matter how many of us there used to be.

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If we're not going to reduce our population, then we need to drastically reduce our impacts on the planet and the other species with which we share it. Ideally speaking, we'd need to:

 

1) Move everyone to a vegan diet. This would lower animal deaths and pollution from mass meat, dairy, and egg production. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet

 

2) Get rid of sprawling suburbs, as they take up valuable land that should be either used for farming or animal habitat. Move everyone into cities, small towns, or rural farmsteads. Restrict any future urban sprawl.

 

3) Abolish consumer capitalism. Our current economic system encourages mass over-exploitation of natural resources, and it is simply not sustainable for the planet: http://www.globalissues.org/article/238/effects-of-consumerism . Instead, we need to transition to an economic system that encourages cooperation, reuse, and as little consumption as possible.

 

4) Develop alternatives to the car-and-plane dominated transportation system we have today. Drastically reduce personal vehicle use, make much greater use of mass transit (in both cities and small towns), and develop alternative means of transport.

 

5) Zero population growth. If we can't reduce population, at least prevent it from growing any further.

 

6) Long term, find a way to colonize other planets. Earth is a finite planet with finite resources, and regardless of how much we conserve, we'll eventually exhaust the planet's resources or (with further population growth) exceed its carrying capacity. Spreading out elsewhere will help guarantee our species' survival.

Edited by kindheart
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I don't know... After years of (sporadic) thinking, I came to conclusion that today people are happier (in average) than 100 years ago. Even more than 500 years ago... I know that many of you won't agree, but this is my view: we are happier than ever... I don't know if this is sustainable, but I think it is.

 

Now, what is "overpopulated"? Is this 'harming other living creatures' or is this 'being unable to sustain our own numbers'? I am with the second answer and, therefore, I think we are not overpopulated. Other creatures will be harmed, but this is what evolution is - they should adapt or die. Many adapted already - wheat, corn, dogs, pigs...

 

....

 

BusaDave9 mentioned that we cannot live without our technology... But or technology is us. Your car outside is your legs, the walls of your house is your body skin - we are cyborgs alredy. Only we didn't change our biological bodies that much as we added layers and layers of technology to outside of them. We are enormous creatures now... Our computers expand our brains, our telescopes stare at the universe, we even have organs that can head-smash protons and antiprotons at near-light speeds.... We are not separable from our technology (we never were, as we are, by definition, creatures that use technology)

 

If you, BusaDave9, try to reduce the population by 3 orders of magnitude, we won't be as happy any more. Our (techno) bodies will collapse; we are not going to be such magnificent creatures any more. I strongly believe that some population density is necessary for us. We feed on population density. I don't know what the optimum density is.

 

This is the new evolution path that started with the dawn of men. This is what I believe.

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I don't know... After years of (sporadic) thinking, I came to conclusion that today people are happier (in average) than 100 years ago. Even more than 500 years ago... I know that many of you won't agree, but this is my view: we are happier than ever... I don't know if this is sustainable, but I think it is.

 

Now, what is "overpopulated"? Is this 'harming other living creatures' or is this 'being unable to sustain our own numbers'? I am with the second answer and, therefore, I think we are not overpopulated. Other creatures will be harmed, but this is what evolution is - they should adapt or die. Many adapted already - wheat, corn, dogs, pigs...

 

Why do you think we have the right to abuse, harm, and eradicate other creatures? I find such a thing highly unethical.

Edited by kindheart
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Why do you think we have the right to abuse, harm, and eradicate other creatures? I find such a thing highly unethical.

Me too... but the question is not if we are moral. The question is, are we overpopulated. As I understand, overpopulated means "being unable to sustain own number by any mean".

 

I too have strong romantic feelings about wilderness. But I still think the wilderness will not stand. No chance. It would be so non-human for us to set back now - we are the born conquerors.

Edited by Danijel Gorupec
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