Rich Folks Can't Fix it Alone

| 7/24/2008 3:11:40 PM

Tags: visualization, overpopulation, climate change, environment, population control,


If all the residents of North America and Western Europe cut their per-capita energy consumption in half over the next 20 years (not likely) and the rest of the world held per-capita consumption steady at their current, frugal levels (also not likely), total energy consumption will remain the same. A 50-percent reduction in the developed world will not be sufficient to outweigh population increases in the developing world, even if the increasingly affluent residents of developing countries don’t increase their energy consumption.

Someone’s going to object to my evidence. Maybe it will take 75 years to reach 10 billion population. Maybe the planet can accommodate 12 billion frugal human beings. The rate of population growth is not the issue. Any growth at all creates the same ultimate dilemma. Sure, we might figure out ways of accommodating 10 or 15 or 20 billion people in a crowded world. But why would we want to?

If ultimately we must control our population, why not plan for a rich, healthy planet?

What if we decided, by mutual consensus, that a stable worldwide population of 4 billion people is our goal? Could we then live on a planet with clean air and water, plenty of food for everyone and the environmental resilience necessary for us to prosper through the inevitable environmental fluctuations – the next ice age, for instance? Could we restore habitats now teetering on the brink of destruction?

Couldn’t we create a sustainable healthy planet just because we decided to?

12/8/2008 9:02:51 PM

If we can reach consensus and avoid the "tragedy of the commons". "The rich can't do it alone" title points to other issues beside population. I'd some it up by saying "more! more! more! give me more!" Once we have or population where we want it. people will still invent to consume and gather as much to themselves as possible, we then come to the point of having to control our consumption. Since we have more comforts and entertainment then we need or will use, we should be now controlling our consumption. But not leaving the other unnoticed. We also need to campain for a stable, sustainable world population.

9/18/2008 9:04:23 AM

Well, with you and me and Salix, Stormie, that only leaves another 6.6 billion - oops, 6.7 billion - people to go, right? :-)

9/15/2008 11:45:37 AM

I think Salix has put his cursor on the crux of the matter. We could certainly do this "by mutual consensus". But if all the people of the earth could reach mutual consensus, we wouldn't have to deal with the kind of wars that keep popping up all over the globe. If everyone were as concerned about the planet and the rest of its occupants as they were about themselves, we wouldn't have greedy dictators. (Or even inconsiderate neighbors, for that matter.) As long as there are religions who believe it is not only their right, but their duty, to populate in the name of God, and as long as the now trained-to-be helpless know we won't take as good care of them if they don't have another baby (as Salix worded more succinctly), population is going to increase. You do have my mutual consensus, for what it's worth.....

9/15/2008 11:34:34 AM

I don't get where the title of the article relates to the idea of this article: "The Rich Can't Do It Alone?" The photo of the sailboat? To me that represents the indulgent stresses on the environment imposed by the rich: production of high end sailboats, large vehicles to haul them, gas to fuel the trip, a house built on the waterfront to accommodate all sailors involved. Sure, the rich pay for it, and doing so energizes the economy, but all that activity also stresses the environment. Poor rich people. They just can't win. Is living simply and lightly on the land too boring a lifestyle for the rich? Also, in my life, for specific examples, the poor and the rich are equally guilty for battering the environment. Living lightly is more a fruit of sensibility than socioeconomic class. So, back to the original question: How does "The Rich Can't Do It Alone" relate to the idea of this article? Any comments?

7/31/2008 5:06:28 PM

Good question, Salix. I think we better get to work now, don't you?

7/29/2008 7:44:52 AM

Bryan - I believe the answer to your final question is: of course we can. But we can't. Not with the current right-to-procreate institutions that not only encourage reproduction, but reward it. The rewards are both monetary (baby bonuses) and spiritual. When governments, seeking to populate their remote territories, encourage people to move in, and when religious institutions accept the fact that birth control is necessary (and aren't afraid of losing wealth and power as their memebership numbers stabilize), then perhaps we can make a start. The new morality will need to include a strong earth stewardship component, and our global societal institutions will need to mainstream the concept of population control. In this country, we have made strides in women's rights and civil rights. It has taken a generation to see any real change. How many generations do you think we have to get our minds and actions around creating a healthy, sustainable planet?

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