This world is overpopulated. We’ve outstripped our planet’s resources.


National Geographic’s video about the exploding human population. To be clear (though the video says as much): the human population problem is not about geographical space. It is about sustainability, e.g. food production and water availability, and how much CO2 production that we produce that can be absorbed by the trees that we’ve left standing.

Hat tip to Brian Gregory, and my beloved wife for pointing me to it.

This world is overpopulated. We’ve outstripped our planet’s resources.

9 thoughts on “This world is overpopulated. We’ve outstripped our planet’s resources.

  1. 1

    The issue of maintaining sustainability is a tricky one. GMO’s will help mitigate some of the issues, such as being able to grow drought-resistant crops, crops that resist pestilence and disease, livestock that produce healthier meets and require less antibiotic treatment, reduced reliance on fertilizer and so forth.

    Too many people get hung up on the fact that Monsanto has been developing GMO’s, so that they decide that GMO’s must be inherently “evil.” There are also open-source GMO’s that are in development to provide means for agriculturalists to get through the patent issue.

    Organic farming is not sufficient to provide the food we will need in order to support 9 billion people.

    Pamela Ronald’s “Tomorrow’s Table” and the group blog “Biofortified” are great starting points to learn about the issues of GMO. I think that a lot of the anti-GMO reaction is based on sucker pseudo-science much like anti-vaxx, and it bugs me to know end that Greenpeace is so opposed to it. “Save the Whales and Starve the People.”

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    The anti-GMO hype is just fucking hilarious – in much the same way that the anti-vaxers are, ie. it would be funny if it weren’t dangerous (though without question the anti-vaxers are far worst). Nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing in modern agriculture isn’t a GMO. Agriculture is, by partial definition, the genetic modification of plants and animals to select for desired traits. That this science has advanced in a way that allows such changed to be implemented over shorter periods of time is not necessarily evil (though Monsanto is absolute evil incarnate, regardless of the occasional good they produce).

    As far as world population goes, I think it is important to understand the nature of the problem in the contexts in which it actually is a problem. One of the biggest problems is in developing countries that are on the upend of modernization and economic success. These are places where medical progress is able to lower mortality rates, but people are still reproducing for high mortality replacement. This is not to say that high mortality rates are a good thing – they aren’t. But when you have societies that are living longer, but reproducing at replacement rates you are looking at a recipe for disaster.

    In Kenya and Uganda (IIRC on the latter), somewhere around 50% of the population is under the age of fifteen. Economic development has come so quickly that these sorts of societies haven’t had the gradual adjustment that much of the Northern world had.

    The biggest problem we face – underlying every aspect of population and scarcity problems – is economic. We need to radically rethink how a global economy should function – i mean completely deconstruct our growth model system and build something new from the ground up. Technology could easily drive the cost of production of virtually everything into the ground and we need to do that. We also need to get over this antiquated notion that there is something verging on sacred about working. Most importantly, we need to get over this idea that if you don’t work in a socially acceptably productive fashion, you don’t deserve to live – or at least live in any sort of comfort.

    I really don’t have time to dive into this in much depth right now. When I get a chance, I will post my 70+ page paper from world security on Scribd and point to the relevant portion. I did rather discuss it in some detail. Or maybe I will just post the relevant bit in a comment or as a blog post. The problem is that there are really several pages that slowly bring it into perspective – interspersed with chapter summaries and commentary specifically relevant to various topics. It is just that all of them generally come back to the same underlying issue.

    An exception to that would be theological terrorism, as apposed to strictly political terrorism (not to imply the former isn’t political – it just carries additional problems). But that is actually a relatively small proportion of terrorism, though it should not be discounted. Theological terrorism does, btw, include animal rights and other postmodern extremist terrorism.

  3. 3

    I have a dachshund; he’s a GMO wolf. Granted, I wouldn’t eat him, but that’s because he’s like a member of the family, not because he was modified from the “natural” version by human intervention.

    That said, I’m kind of glad my wife and I haven’t had kids so far (there is a sad story attached to that, but this isn’t the place for that tale). Working towards food, water, and energy sustainability is going to be the hard part of the next fifty years.

  4. 4

    Agreed on all points, gents. Monsanto is evil, mostly because of their patent nonsense and destroying farms in pursuit of money. They’re really good at making GMOs though. You know, because they have a corner on their part of the market, what with their evil business practices.

    People railing on about GMOs often have no problems eating bananas. Since humans have learned to cultivate foodstuffs, they have intentionally directed the evolution of those foodstuffs to be healthier, food-ier and easier to grow and turn into supper. Given that bananas in their original forms were wholly inedible,

    Meh. Too many people for sustainability, and too many deluded people who are against the only way we’ll be able to feed ourselves. Maybe they could recuse themselves from eating all GMOs, and thus die of starvation, thus reducing the planet’s number of humans.

    Anyway, this doesn’t lend well to my thoughts on whether or not I’ll ever reproduce. Religious people are more than happy to pop out dozens of kids while waiting for the rapture, but I can’t bring myself to reproduce and pass Jodi’s and my intelligent genes onto the next generation, between the overpopulation of the planet and the overabundance of idiots.

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    I’ll be glad to read your summary, DuWayne, as economics are largely the cause for most wars (with religious and nationalistic drivers to feed the war machine, of course.

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    It’s okay, it will all be cleared out soon and we’re going to start over. Although you may not get to enjoy the benefits of a new earth, I’ll send you a post card from New Jerusalem! 🙂

    Sorry Mr. Thibeault, I simply couldn’t resist. 🙂 CHEERS! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  7. 8

    Wouldn’t it be better to have some kids of your own to help balance the stupid? As you know, I am partly responsible for the overpopulation crisis, and I am glad to be raising four very inquisitive and intelligent children.
    Someone has to be around to actually do shit while the yokels sit around waiting for the rapture.

  8. 9

    To be clear Jason, I am all for sustainability. Growth model economics are the reason we have this population problem – the global economy depends on a continually growing population. That is not to say we need to go all fucking hippie or anything (unless that hippie is me of course) and embrace bug infested “organic” fucking apples grown in your fucking window box. But then that really isn’t sustainability.

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