The Poor, Still With Us

| 8/28/2008 11:26:01 AM


At the beginning the 19th century during the rosy dawn hours of the Industrial Revolution the world’s human population finally surpassed 1 billion individuals. [1] After about 200,000 years of evolution our extraordinary intellect and extreme mobility had brought us that far. We had, by then, colonized every continent except Antarctica. Civilized cultures were generally aware of the world as a finite sphere, 70 percent of it covered in water. We lived everywhere, from the sweltering tropics to the icy arctic wastelands.

We dominated everything we surveyed, but we couldn’t survey the microscopic yet, at least not very effectively. The germs still pretty much had their way with us. They limited human population growth. Average Europeans were lucky to live to 40 years of age. Almost a third of babies born in Europe’s cities died before their third birthdays, mostly due to diseases borne by microbes. People flocked to the cities where they found new affluence in factories and textile mills. The crowding in city tenements gave the pathogens an ideal habitat and accelerated the spread of disease.

Louis Pasteur was born in 1822[2] and soon began whipping the germs into shape.  With an uncanny instinct for the nature of disease, Pasteur revolutionized our understanding of the world and helped us train new weapons on the microbes that made us sick. Pasteur gave us the specific tools to fight cholera, anthrax and rabies, but more importantly he revolutionized our knowledge of microbes and their effect on our lives – both good and bad. We had been drinking wine for thousands of years but we didn’t know that bacteria caused fermentation. Pasteur identified disease-causing germs and invented tools for fighting them. Soon, people were living longer. More babies survived. Modern medicine was born, and human population growth accelerated.

By 1900 there were more than 1.6 billion of us, up 60 percent in one century. That population doubled in about 60 years, then doubled again in half the time. I was born into a worldwide human population of about 3 billion people. Based on current United Nations projections and my expected lifespan, there will probably be about 9 billion people on earth when I die.

So far we’ve done a remarkably good job of feeding all these new people. When you think about it, it’s almost miraculous that we’ve kept up with our own expansion. Shortly before Louis Pasteur was born, the English philosopher Thomas Robert Malthus made himself one of the world’s most famous thinkers by suggesting that unless we did something about population growth, we could never ease the burden of poverty. His basic thesis was that because our population expanded geometrically while food production expanded arithmetically, and because birth rates increase with prosperity, we would never be able to create consistent surpluses in food supply.

len buckholtz
12/24/2008 7:09:54 PM

one other thing. the hollyweird elite who chide 'we the commoners' for not helping more. let's set up a homeless shelter on madonna's lot. and one on each of the other whining leftists who are 'special' and have more than 1/2 acre of land on their lots. they do all these mea culpa telethons. sorry, that era has ended. belly up to the juice bar, fellas. pull out your big, fat, juicy ........... mastercard. :-)

len buckholtz
12/24/2008 7:04:15 PM

well, the politically correct will hate this. so be it. we need a war. a big war. a war to end the following: 1 fornication of any sort 2 greed of any sort 3 dishonesty of any sort 4 governmental kickbacks of any sort 5 any non-compliant religion the above will remedy the following: 1- illegitimate children 2- people/ govts/ groups/ unions not sharing 3- same above in not being 100% truthful 4- no subsidies of any crop that is not grown 5- the good one: hindus must teach their women how to protect themselves; muslims must treat women with respect, not with whips; ro caths must assign wives to each priest if they are incapable of finding one; assign a husband to any not unable to find a one; frisco will counsel homosexuals to marry one of the opposite sex and stay monogamous. baptist churches will tell bill clinton, jesse jackson, billy carter[s], all said wanna-be 'males' of that ilk, and a host of breeding women in the south of phoenix [about 30 i found] who have kids by over 5 men to KNOCK IT OFF. or get the tubes tied. or whack off whatever the doc does to guys. have i offended enough folks out there? good. my job is done here. that, or let GOD bring Armageddon and do it fast. your choice folks. Jonah lettin' you all know what is going to happen.

12/22/2008 11:27:00 PM

Carla, Even if you are correct that all of humanity could fit in Nevada and Texas then if you read the story, in another thirty to forty years you would need another Nevada and Texas for the 12 billion souls. Then the population would double in half of that time (20 to 30 years) to 24 billion and you would need still another 2 Nevadas and 2 Texas. Then in the next doubling in 15 to 20 years there will be approximately 48 billion people breathing out carbon dioxide and using up other natural resources. Then in the next doubling in about 5 to 10 years there will be nearly 100 billion people. Yes scince and technoligy can make significant increases but not at the same rate that people can breed without some kind of restrictions. The sooner the better for the rest of us to have some kind of quality of life.

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