I hear that the subject of World Population is a sensitive issue. It essentially involves the touchy areas of reproduction, birth and death. Basically sex and violence. It is also a very complex issue, dragging in the total carrying capacity of the earth, projected rates of growth, the entire history of the world, evolution, life, the universe and just about everything else.
I’m going to charge ahead anyway because it is vitally important that we get this right and come to a common understanding of the facts and possibilities. There are a lot of extreme views regarding these issues, and some strongly held beliefs in myths, it turns out, or alternatively, blind faith that it will all work out. These extreme views have passionate believers, thus increasing the volatility of any attempt at rational discussion.
On the one hand, we have people who believe the planet is way over-populated, on the order of 5 or 10 times its carrying capacity, or even 20 times or 100 times. Many of these people believe we are reproducing at a rate that effectively assumes we have infinite resources, and we will soon slam into a wall of impossible density and total environmental collapse.
On the other hand, we have people who believe the extreme opposite, that there is plenty of capacity on the Earth for many more people, on the order of 2 to 10 times more, or even 100 times more. Generally, they expect that advances in technology will take care of all our problems, and that the more people we have, the more potential geniuses there will be to advance us even faster. Read the rest of this entry »