World Population is Stabilizing

You may be surprised to learn that the average human lifespan across the planet is now over 60 years.   When did that happen?  It has been happening all along, gradually increasing with each new increase in health and food production.  And the average life expectancy increased dramatically as we radically reduced the number of deaths in early childhood.

But another surprising consequence of reducing childhood mortality is that people are having fewer children.  Makes sense when you think about it, but we do it without thinking about it.  At this time,  most of the world has families with about 2 to 3 children.

Please watch this great video: Hans Rosling: no more boring data.

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Why Global Consensus?

Why Global?

The world is a big place, big enough that we still have troubles getting together with our neighbors in neighboring towns, let alone on continents across the oceans.

However, the world is rapidly shrinking in many ways.

  • Local problems anywhere in the world are soon problems for the entire world. We are all increasingly interconnected, which is a good thing if we can use it to fix our problems before they spin out of control.
  • Using electronic telecommunications and the internet, we can connect with anyone in the world in an instant. We don’t need to travel anywhere in order to do any of the things that merely require our presence of mind.

With our rapid rate of industrial growth, we now have many global problems that seem to be no one’s responsibility. Every nation, acting in its own best self-interest, has the incentive to exploit its “own” resources and the shared resources of the world such as the oceans and atmosphere. Every person and corporate entity has the incentive to get what they can before someone else beats them to it. And so we all suffer as a consequence. This is called the “Tragedy of the Commons” . Read the rest of this entry »

World Population Extremes

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 »