The Real Issue: Global Over-Breeding – A Note From Haldun Abdullah

Hi Jennifer,

Now that we have left global warming behind us (almost unanimous agreement that it is the result of human activity or rather over-activity, and that its here to stay unless something is done about it urgently) we can concentrate on the real issue, which is, as I believe over population both at the global and local levels.

It seems like the balancing forces of nature, biotic potential and environmental resistance (in the ecological sense), have lost their balancing character in favor of biotic potential. World population has been soaring in the past few centuries in spite of wars, diseases, epidemics and so forth. I have attached an illustrative reference, which shows how world population has increased over the years and how it will reach about 8 billion by 2020. The animation included is really gloomy (Australia does not seem to be effected).

I strongly believe that, unless something is done about human over-breeding very urgently (like having an international agreement on limiting populations on a rational basis) the whole world will be overpopulated in such a manner (like some countries already are!), that the developing countries shall not be able to reach a standard of living of the so called developed countries. Further, because of the continued depletion of resources, the standards of living in the developed countries will reach such levels that severe intra-specific competition (sometimes referred to as “innovation”) will be dominant in every aspect of our lives. Not to mention that present day international conflicts will be much more widespread. So far, we humans have been clever overcoming environmental resistance, it did not work out, let us try to be wise from now on (not wise guys!).

Regards, Haldun

54 Responses to The Real Issue: Global Over-Breeding – A Note From Haldun Abdullah

  1. Louis Hissink February 3, 2007 at 8:14 pm #

    One of the more interesting observations one might make of the biosphere is that those species which seem to suffer catastrophic reductions in population numbers, tend to compensate by, seemingly, almost exponential increases in numbers to ensure that, post catastrophe, sufficent remain to continue the species.

  2. Libby February 3, 2007 at 9:21 pm #

    Hi Haldun,

    This was a topic I was revisiting today and have long believed in. The economists may not agree however. Controversially, I have wondered what would happen if we did carry out Sir Bob’s and Bono’s wishes and stop world hunger in countries such as Africa. Where would we be, and where would the environment be, if we tried to stop certain events such as disease outbreaks, famine, etc?

    Suffering is not something I would wish on anyone, human or otherwise, but what will happen if Homo sapiens keep reproducing and consequently consuming the way that we are projected to do?

  3. La Pantera Rosa February 3, 2007 at 10:54 pm #

    Agreed, but whose \’rational\’ basis, who is the target, whose controls and what methods to control population? A job for the world police?

    We could still let Christians, liberals and democracy supporters breed prolifically. If you\’re concerned about threats to our way of life, we need military might and economic influence to resist those terrorists who deliberately breed soldiers, instilled with fundamentalist hatred for our way of life. Mandatory sterilisation for greenies though – put something in their tofu and lentils.

    Considering overpopulation: how many 3rd world people could you get and keep for each 1st world person? As one measure, if the average Aussie has an ecological footprint of 8.5 ha v\’s the world average of 3.1 yet the typical Bangladeshi is only 0.6 ha, then are the more efficient breeders are entitled to make more people. Should ideal population be determined by nation?

    We have such a comparative disadvantage at making people (SUV\’s to drop your kids at school, designer kids clothes, seperate bedrooms etc), you think we\’d give up and outsource it. We actually we have in a manner: drives for skilled immigrants. But each American takes 12.3 ha and they have high birthrates for a developed country (the more Christian states have the most). The 1st worlders often blame the less developed countries without considering:
    – relative resource use,
    – exported extractive, hazardous and polluting activities,
    – cheap labour inputs (minimal labour standards) maintaining our lifestyles
    – less wealthy countries loaning their currency to the 1st world to fund our debt fuelled spending sprees
    – our drive for continual economic expansion and concern about pensions for ageing populations (quantity not quality, GrossNP not quality of NP)
    – colonial legacies and structural statis in ineffective systems (disadvantaged terms of trade for cashcrops, low bargaining power for 3rd world nations, vulnerable resource commodity prices, weak national economies in poor countries – exposed to shocks)
    – 1st world controls such as binding IMF & world bank policies that undermine the poor nations\’ ability to self govern and force them to cut back drastically on health, education and other spending that\’s essential for countries to recover so they\’re less likely to breed like flies because they have no choice, few options, or seek a form of social insurance.

    A high level of economic development is linked to lower rates of pollution (although some is exported) and lower birth rates. Ideally people need minimal entitlements and the options, resources and independence to make informed choices.

    What would the fertility rates be in, say Africa, if the MDGs were met? There\’s a strong link between female education (particularly literacy), health, personal rights, self-determination and property rights and fertility rates. How to get there? Many overlook the lessons past of failed attempts.

  4. Ian Mott February 4, 2007 at 12:27 am #

    Any discussion based on the so called ecological footprints of x.2ha per australian, etc will go nowhere because these calculations try to imply that all land that we have is essential for maintaining our lifestyle etc. It is bollocks.

    Australia has 20 million people and a land area of 780 million hectares and 1200 million hectares of territorial ocean. And that comes to 39 hectares of land and 60 hectares of ocean for each of us. But that does not mean that the core elements of our lifestyle cannot be delivered by very much less of both.

    Australians are 85% urban and they only venture out on long weekends and holidays. For the rest of the time they live on a 700m2 block with 2.6 others for an average of 269m each. They drive to work on 1/60,000th of a road, 1/900th of a train, or 1/80th of a bus, for about 1/10th of that buses working day. They work in 15m2 of office space and share 1/120th of a lunch canteen or 1/240th of a take away kitchen. On the weekend they swim at 1/2500th of a beach and walk the dog in 1/3500th of a park. And they barely even notice that when they do there are lots of people from other countries on holiday enjoying it too.

    They consume only 15% of our beef production, 25% of our grain and only 5% of our wool. And when all is said and done they actually need only a very small portion of the country.

    They don’t use any of the Qld Gulf, the Northern Territory, the Kimberly, the Simpson desert, the Nullabor or even the Murray Darling Basin. Over their entire lifetime they will use about 2.5 hours of 1/130,000th of the GBR each year but many people from other countries will do much the same. And what they get from there is not essential that it comes from there, or even that they get it at all.

    Footprints are bunkum.

  5. Haldun February 4, 2007 at 1:07 am #

    When we examine world unemployment statistics we see that unemployment in the so called developed world, especially in Europe, is quite significant. Germany with a population density of about 230/ recently had exports of about 880 billion USD, yet they have over 5 million people unemploed. France with a population density of 110/ has more than 5 million people unemployed. It is not the total population but rather the population density related to total energy spent/kapita/ year and GNP/capita/year that comes into the picture. The relationships are complicated and must be developed further by economists, ecologists etc. Just as an example; although the population density in the US is about 30/, the energy consumed per kapita/year is twice as much as in Germany and three times as much as in France. One way of interpreting these figures could be as follows: looking from Germany the US population would effectively be 600 million instead of 300. Looking from France the US population would effectively be 900 million instead of 300 million and so on. The important aspect is that if there is unemployment and economic problems we know that the ecosystem people live within cannot sustain them. I believe that if we could model each country as an ecosystem with imports and exports we can eventually end up with a sustainable population figure at a specified quality of life (without global warming). This will need a lot of work and international cooperation for sure.

  6. rog February 4, 2007 at 4:19 am #

    Now global warmers want to move on to total control of the individual by the state via mandated zero population – totalitarianism

    “The world, even the Third World, does not suffer from too many people, or from excessive population growth. (Indeed, the rate of world population growth, although not yet its absolute numbers, is already declining.) The Third World suffers from a lack of economic development due to its lack of rights of private property, its government-imposed production controls, and its acceptance of government foreign aid that squeezes out private investment. The result is too little productive savings, investment, entrepreneurship, and market opportunity. What they desperately need is not more UN controls, whether of population or of anything else, but for international and domestic government to let them alone. Population will adjust on its own. But, of course, economic freedom is the one thing that neither the UN nor any other bureaucratic outfit will bring them.”

    Murray Rothbard

  7. Woody February 4, 2007 at 5:08 am #

    Good grief. Here we are back to over-population and population control by the left–an issue that they harped on back in the 1960’s and for which those terrible consequences didn’t materialize–just like AGW will turn out to be an overstated problem. The left always have to have a problem to solve for the rest of us who don’t want their help.

    What did Paul Ehrlich, an accepted speaker for the left, have to say in his 1968 book “The Population Bomb?”

    “In the prologue to The Population Bomb he wrote, ‘The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…’

    “‘Our position requires that we take immediate action at home and promote effective action worldwide. We must have population control at home, hopefully through changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.’

    “Believing that the United States could only support a population of 150 million, Ehrlich proposed that ‘luxury taxes could be placed on layettes, cribs, diapers, diaper services, [and] expensive toys…’ and suggested giving ‘responsibility prizes’ to couples who went at least five years without having children or to men who got vasectomies. He called for setting up a federal Bureau of Population and Environment to oversee reducing U.S. population growth.

    “Why did Ehrlich’s predictions fail to come true? Because the model he used, like almost all those who predict dire problems from population, was basically flawed.”

    Wow! Hundreds of millions dead, compulsory compliance, more taxes, bigger government…and wrong models. Doesn’t this scenario seem familiar?

  8. Libby February 4, 2007 at 9:00 am #

    “Now global warmers want to move on to total control of the individual by the state via mandated zero population – totalitarianism”

    I don’t think anyone here has said anything of the sort, and I think you have twisted and exaggerated it somewhat. Don’t worry Rog, I’m sure no one is going to come in to your supreme patch of paradise and tell you what to do with your sperm.

    It is not just an issue because of global warming. Perhaps Ian can do an envelope job on China, and what her projected population growth rate would have been before the child policy came in?

  9. Woody February 4, 2007 at 9:11 am #

    Libby, do you want a projection on China to include government officials murdering already born babies, which occurred? When it comes to social engineering, there is no limit to government outrage that liberals won’t defend.

  10. La Pantera Rosa February 4, 2007 at 1:08 pm #

    Reposted after it was deleted:

    Woody your liberals comment to Libby is US dependent and meaningless to us. You assume that she’s unaware of the gender imbalances and infanticide and adult murders and disfiguring of females too in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Guatamala, etc which she isn’t. Neither was she promoting such policies or deprivation of human rights. It’s hard to see exactly what outcomes the gender imbalance will bring about. Libby made it clear she doesn’t want suffering on anyone but think about it.. people are suffering horribly already where they have insufficient food, water, health care or basic personal rights that we take for granted while the 1st world suffers obesity epidemics.

    Mott reset your envelope with productive land not sand and then balance the equation with inputs and outputs. You draw national boundaries when convenient and ignore them when not. What do australians import, how much do they import and who provides that and do they go without, and from where does Australia borrow to service national and household debt and who is saving and how, to loan us that money? ie be sure to factor in our financial boundaries too, and all physical inputs that reach and leave our shores, not just national land & sea boundaries.

    Yes footprint is one guide and a fairly rough guide but do you think that societies should not plan productivity supply capacity versus demand? Do you not think that it’s valid to compare specific product substitutes or more broadly, lifestyles, by resource intensity?

    Population control as a left agenda is an unsubstantiated and unhelpful allegation. Shall I counter argue that Christians are breeding ignorant zealots and faking right to life concerns to spread their idealogy thoughout the world? Nah.

    Posted by: La Pantera Rosa at February 4, 2007 11:42 AM

  11. Woody February 4, 2007 at 1:17 pm #

    La Pantera Rosa, would your repeat that, please? We stupid people like to see how you smart people prove that you smart enough to tell the world how to live through your impressive and repetitive use of blog technology.

    Does Libby need you to explain things for her? How do I know that what you say is what she would say–unless you all eat at the same totalitarian trough?

    You know what’s funny? You and Luke duck a lot of questions by saying that certain issues relate to the U.S., even when they don’t, and that excuses your admitting to flaws in left-wing beliefs.

    Overpopulation concerns of the left was not a particularly big problem in the U.S. to rational people in the 1960’s or ever. It was in other parts of the world, so you’re welcome to address the concerns of your fellow alarmists from five decades ago.

    Your concerns about “insufficient food, water, health care” are mainly matters of distribution, for there is plenty available. Distribution is hindered by civil wars and unrest, particularly in Africa. Let’s address that before we punish people for having kids. Since you are also concerend about “basic personal rights that we take for granted,” then maybe we could expect you to support the battles for democracy over dictatorships in the world, such as in Iraq–unless that’s not your problem, too.

    Finally, you reveal your own prejudices when you suggest that Christians are ignorant and that their concerns for the unborn are a ruse to spread an ideology. This may come as a shock, but I’m a Christian and meet intellectual standards higher than the masses who endorse socialism, and I oppose abortion because it takes an innocent life–period.

    Of course, maybe to you, opposing abortion, which kills down the population, is a stupid position for the greater good. On the other hand, I think that people who support abortions are not only ignorant themselves, but evil, too. Maybe this global warming has fried a few of your brains.

  12. david@tokyo February 4, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    What they do to prevent human over-breeding here in Japan is have these dopey old bastards say stupid things like compare women to “birth-giving machines”.

    Consequently, people feel less inclined to have children.

    Maybe this message could be taken world wide.

  13. Helen Mahar February 4, 2007 at 1:42 pm #

    Yes, we do have a population spike coming, and policy wonks are worried. But we have been there before.

    As a child in (a rural) school, I can remember being told by teachers that farmers had a moral duty to clear land to feed a hungry world. Those teachers were promoting the then government policy.

    Well, the population did increase, but starvation began to decrease in absolute numbers. The green revolution, which steadily increased food supplies (wheat, rice, corn) was already underway by the time Paul Earlich published his doomsday projections.

    The green revolution, which produced more food per ha, eventually undermined the policy imperative to clear land for food, leaving room for biodiversity considerations, both by farmers and conservationists.

    Now, farmers are being told that food supplies will have to be doubled by 2030 to feed the expected world population surge – preferably without clearing any more land. So the race is on, with traditional crop breeding programs augmented by genetic engineering the most promising strategy.

    The environmental / conservation movement needs scientists and farmers to get them through the next food challenge.

    It takes farmers to actually produce the goods, but they need defined (protected) property rights, and free markets for their produce. Pretty much the same institutions as any community or nation needs to lift itself from abject poverty to relative prosperity.

    Regulatory, top-down controls on population increases will not work. People will rebel. That is human nature. Lifting food supplies and economic reform are slower, more sustainable, and more acceptable methods. These methods have more sustainable overall environmental outcomes too.

  14. Aaron Edmonds February 4, 2007 at 2:08 pm #

    Ian Mott. Your analysis is spot on with one problem. It is historic. What impacts on the population base as:
    1. Irrigators in the Murray catchment continue to see irrigation capacity eroded?
    2. More dryland acreage is droppped out of cereal production. Hyperinflating fertilizer prices will see to this (international urea price is now up 50% in 3 months). There is no room for error now for farmers in marginal dryland zones.
    3. Low input agricultural production systems move to displace high input, high output grain systems eg Low input generally means low output, and generally less than half on a volume basis.
    4. Fossil fuel supply inflates in cost and security of supply is lessened.
    5. Food prices continue to inflate. Meat will see spectacular gains in the next 12 months. Affordability of living/breeding?

    Whether you or I like it or not, in a globalised world, we are forcibly carrying more than 20 million people in Australia. Its a complex issue.

  15. Libby February 4, 2007 at 3:02 pm #

    Woody, your comment on China and human rights abuse issues was unnecessary, and as La Pantera Rosa pointed out, I am aware of. I eat from no totalitarian trough thanks Woody.

    “Let’s address that before we punish people for having kids.”

    No one was saying anything about punishing people for having kids. Stop twisting to suit your own agenda. There is a suggestion of limiting how many children people have, and there is no suggestion of making ‘unwelcome’ children suffer. I’m sure many people would like to have clean air, soil and water, not to mention low crime rates, good education and decent health care. In fact I’m sure many people would argue these are basic human rights. If you can show me that as the global population grows these resources will be available in all countries to the majority of people, then I would be happy for the world.

    “Of course, maybe to you, opposing abortion, which kills down the population, is a stupid position for the greater good. On the other hand, I think that people who support abortions are not only ignorant themselves, but evil, too. Maybe this global warming has fried a few of your brains.”

    Now that you have stated this case, there is little point in debating with you, as you have a very set belief. Are you a drug-addicted female teenager who is living with abusive parents and found herself pregnant to her father? I didn’t think so. Christians are supposed to be compassionate and forgiving.

  16. La Pantera Rosa February 4, 2007 at 3:09 pm #

    You misread again Woody. I hope you don\’t misread and misinterpret God\’s word with the same regularity. Who, and where and how did I or anyone suggest \”we punish people for having kids?\”. I suggest that we need to meet the MDGs and introduce institutions to recognise and defend human rights (including individual property rights).

    Clearly you do think it\’s a job for the world police. As for your Christian war mongering, I think it would be too far off thread to discuss the oily topic of religious justification for bringing war without international (via UN) support but I support a secular democracy not a theocracy. Is the US (veto power) up to date on its promised UN payments, by the way? I\’ll leave it there.

  17. La Pantera Rosa February 4, 2007 at 3:16 pm #

    I didn\’t really want to go there Libby but I was wondering yet again, how many anti-abortion right to lifers actively fight as hard against other denials of the right to life – such as children dying from malnourishment or being born HIV positive no thanks to christian groups who railroad efforts to get condoms widely used in Africa, suggesting they abstain instead (as if young girls have a choice). People here like to make accustions about activities that have human costs, christian groups are no exception.

    And how many human casualties of war is an acceptable amount to in a failed attempt at democracy – more likely civil war. Must be that all those heathens in Iraq are beyond redemption and don\’t realise what\’s good for them.

  18. rog February 4, 2007 at 5:30 pm #

    Is it a ‘ye’s or a ‘no’, should policy makers work to reduce population growth?

    A simple enough question I would have thought.

  19. Ian Mott February 4, 2007 at 11:04 pm #

    I agree, Aaron, that we already sustain a larger population than 20 million. I did the numbers about 15 years ago that indicated we sustain the equivalent of 80 milion australians or about 160 million third worlders.

    Good points, Hellen. The key to feeding the starving and the key to slowing their birthrate is quality government based on the rule of law, the seperation of powers and secure property rights. Best recent example, Vietnam. Couldn’t feed itself from 1975 to 1990 but now exports food.

  20. Jennifer February 5, 2007 at 2:17 am #

    Everyone, just a friendly reminder that if you don’t have any new information to add then best to limit your contribution to 2-3 comments per 24 hour period and please try and stay polite.

  21. Woody February 5, 2007 at 3:36 am #

    Libby and LPR, abortion is the ultimate child abuse.

  22. Travis February 5, 2007 at 8:03 am #

    Looks like you have nothing new to say Woody.

  23. Haldun February 5, 2007 at 12:28 pm #

    Hi Libby,
    How right you are in saying that “the economists may not agree”. I do believe that the “create the need” thing is what keeps them going. It seems that they know the social laws of the jungles very well. In human made ecosystems we need to have a rational reproduction scheme and there will also be need. When there is over-reproduction however other more costly needs com to existance because what we percieve as fair competition turns to struggle and conflict. This does not seem to bother economists because more “need” is created naturalley. They don’t even have to bother with advertisement. This is unfortunate.

  24. Woody February 6, 2007 at 12:45 am #

    Travis, when someone accuses me of being against abortion to push an agenda rather than being compassionate to the innocent unborn, I think it is appropriate to explain why they are wrong in their assumption. Your snide remark really wasn’t necessary and shows a lack of intelligent analysis. BTW, Christians donate far more to missions to help with food and medicine in impoverished lands than do non-Christians.

  25. Travis February 6, 2007 at 5:22 am #

    No one was “accuses me of being against abortion to push an agenda rather than being compassionate to the innocent unborn”, you misinterpreted. My “snide” remark was because you have already stated your opinion on abortion and were therefore saying nothing new when you posted at 3:36. That doesn’t take any intelligent analysis. It is not necessary to pronounce the good work Christians do over non-Christians. We are all God’s children and should be helping one another regardless. That is a sign of a humane and compassionate person, not whether they are Christian or non-Christian.

  26. Pinxi February 6, 2007 at 10:10 am #

    Tying it all together then, no-one disagrees that quality of life gains are tied with decreases in reproduction, and the hungry need to eat…

    Climate Variability and the Millennium Development Goal Hunger Target, Hansen et al

    Climate variability contributes significantly to poverty and food insecurity. Proactive approaches
    to managing climate variability within vulnerable rural communities and among institutions
    operating at community, sub-national, and national levels is a crucial step toward achieving the
    Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. Climate variability can
    impact a household’s access to food by affecting subsistence production, income from primary
    production, local food prices, and sometimes the economy of an entire region. The risk of
    household food insecurity is determined by the success of livelihood strategies in the face of climate and other shocks. Across the economy, climate variability affects food security through its influence on investment, adoption of agricultural technology, aggregate production, market prices and economic development, and hence the ability of individuals, communities and nations to produce and purchase food. The impacts of climate variability are both ex post – losses that follow a climate shock – and ex ante – opportunity costs of conservative risk management responses to climatic uncertainty. The report summarizes the scientific basis, current methodology, and prospects for
    improving climate prediction at a seasonal time scale. Current forecast methods give modest to
    moderately-high prediction skill in “hunger hotspots” in East, West and Southern Africa, and other regions in the tropics and subtropics. Applications of climate information contribute to a comprehensive strategy to combat hunger. First is the use of seasonal climate prediction in early
    warning systems to guide interventions to avert food crises. Second is the use of climate
    information to manage risk in agricultural systems within vulnerable rural communities and among
    a range of institutions. This includes smallholder farmers who comprise the largest group of poor
    and food-insecure; intermediary institutions that interface with farmers, and can provide the
    information, technical guidance and production inputs required for effective climate risk
    management; and institutions that make climate-sensitive decisions at a broader scale that influence food security. We also discuss measures to strengthen institutional capacity and coordination to improve management of climate variability. Improved management of climate variability has appealing synergies with other interventions that target hunger, including soil fertility management, small-scale water management, markets, and extension and communication systems.

    Sorry for the eye glazer, but it\’s a good read. Also relevant to our other conversations:

    Globally, ENSO is the most
    prominent source of climate variability at seasonal to interannual time scales. Models of the global climate system that couple the upper ocean or land surface to the atmosphere and allow them to evolve potentially permit predictability at even longer time scales (Rosati et al., 1997; Zeng et al., 1999). Land surface characteristics also vary at time scales considerably longer than those of the atmosphere, and therefore potentially provide additional extended predictability (Fennessey and Shukla, 1999, and references therein; Douville and Chauvin, 2000).

  27. Woody February 6, 2007 at 12:06 pm #

    Travis, please leave the comment editing to Jen if you can’t understand what I’m trying to communicate or simply don’t like it.

  28. Travis February 6, 2007 at 12:44 pm #

    Woody, ditto. Please go elsewhere if you oppose other’s views so much and insist on distorting them. Calling anyone who supports and presumably has had an abortion “evil” is disgusting. It is one thing to hold these views, which I can fully accept, but please keep them to yourself.

    Smarter farming and use of resources is needed in a growing global population context. Stamping out poverty and replacing it with access to education and skills may help to empower communities, in particular women in communities. Women that are educated and feel a sense of empowerment can often show a trend in smaller family size, thus easing over-population. However, what to do in communitites with strict cultural/religious beliefs which do not give women power and can propagate abuse and rape and unwanted childbirth is another issue.

    Rog, as to your original question re policy makers, as Helen pointed out, people can rebel when deing told what to do, and you can get abuses of that power as has already been pointed out re China. It may help too if people realised that in order to be happy, they do not need to overconsume. Should we all want to live like middle-class America, we would need three Earths. There has to be a reduction in consumerism in the first world and an increase in better health, education and basic living standards in the second and third world. Bhutan may be a good example to follow after all.

  29. Woody February 6, 2007 at 1:09 pm #

    Sorry, Travis. Until Jen appoints you “keeper of the gate,” I’ll ignore your attempts to run off me or anyone else with whom you disagree. Just because you don’t want to hear something doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be said. Where I live we have freedom of speech, and I don’t let the PC police dictate what I can say.

    It’s just too bad if it offends you that I consider someone as evil who, for instance, can take a baby that is in the process of being born, jam scissors into its skull, and suck out its brains. What’s more disgusting…mentioning this or doing it?

    Only someone without a conscience could consider abortion as a legitimate birth control method. There are plenty of people who will adopt and care for unwanterd babies. Put these kids ahead of your social engineering.

  30. Travis February 6, 2007 at 1:27 pm #

    You have no idea Woody.

  31. Pinxi February 6, 2007 at 1:40 pm #

    Seeing that Woody persists: yes a mature, healthy baby ideally would be born and adopted out. But that abortion process is not worse than the numerous bombing deaths and injuries of innocent and conciously aware civilians.

    But if abortion is murder, is miscarriage manslaughter? There are lots of miscarriages, Drs say they\’re often underestimated, often unreported and sometimes unnoticed. But if we could equip all toilets with mandatory hormone detectors, perhaps we could identify them and charge the perpetrators. Ditto where the body reabsorbs a foetus. You can hardly argue that miscarriage is excusable but abortion not. Miscarriage is decided by the body and the mind is part of the body. There may be conscious but unintended decisions of the mind (eg ingestion of a harmful substance; overwork) that cause the body to miscarry. Unless you can prove that the mind is located outside of the body, abortion and miscarriage is equally determined by the body.

    More importantly Woody, if the right to life dominates all other rights then should we all live at bare subsistence level and sacrifice everything else to buy food, water and medicine for the desperately poor whilever they exist? Surely it\’s a sin to do otherwise while there are people in dire need. How do you balance your wants with their needs? And what of innocent casualties of war, what of their right to life? Do foetuses deserve more rights than children and adults?

    This is my last post on this, but interested to hear your answers (I won\’t reply).

  32. Jennifer February 6, 2007 at 3:15 pm #

    Woody I think you’ve made your point. I suggest we leave the issue of abortion and get back to a discussion of the original article by Haldun.

  33. Paul Williams February 7, 2007 at 4:04 pm #

    Jen, I think abortion is very pertinent to Haldun’s post, the topic being global over-breeding. Is it not true that China instituted a one child policy to try to deal with the projected overpopulation? And that policy resulted in forced abortions, including “abortions” carried out during labour?

    Not to mention the infanticide of millions of female infants.

    Haldun may have strong beliefs, but the increasing wealth of the world, the ability to feed more people and the declining numbers living in poverty indicate that his idea to “rationally” limit population growth is baloney, and has lead to grievious abuse of human rights when tried in China.

  34. Haldun February 7, 2007 at 4:54 pm #

    Here is a web file which lists yearly world population (and increase) numbers between the years 1950-2050 where it is estimated that total world population will reach 9 billion by 2050.

    going back 18 years from 2007 and averaging population increase we have about 73 million per year. Dividing by 365 (I like to get average daily numbers) we have about 200000 humans worldwide reaching 18 years of age daily.

    Ofcourse these are average numbers that only give an idea about the order of magnitude(this type of calculation can also be done for each country). One way of interpreting this data is that every day we either have to send this many people to higher education or give them a job.

    The history of the world for the last 50 years shows clearly that humankind has not been able to do this. Also, there are 2 billion people worldwide who have never used electricity in their life (as anounced by a UN representative in a world renewable energy congress which I attended in 1996 in Colorado. This number was also confırmed recently in the news media). It appears that nothing much has been done in this respect in a decade and very likley nothing could be done about it in the comming decade. All I am trying to say is that this alarming increase in world population will be effecting our children and grand children (if it is not already effecting us today).

  35. Paul Williams February 7, 2007 at 5:36 pm #

    Your link didn’t work, Haldun.

    Isn’t your numerical example a bit simplistic? How many people die or retire each day? Subtract that from the number you gave.

    Where do jobs come from? There’s not a fixed number that has to be shared around, people create jobs.

  36. Haldun February 7, 2007 at 6:38 pm #

    Hi Paul, there is no space between “referred and Data” in the link. This happened because of the line jump in the comments section. I sent the link to Jennifer as an e-mail attachment. Sorry for the mistake.
    We are talking about population increase where the number of births exceeds the number of deaths. If you want to be more accurate you have to make an assumption about the number (or percentage) of survivals of the extra births starting with the second year for 17 years. As an example if you assume that 90% of the extra births will survive for 18 years you have a daily figure of 180000 instead of 200000. The order of magnitude is still there.

  37. Jennifer February 7, 2007 at 8:03 pm #

    I think I’ve fixed the link.

  38. Paul Williams February 7, 2007 at 9:22 pm #

    Haldun, I don’t understand what you are saying in your last comment, sorry.

    Looking at the link, it is apparent that population increase peaked in the early sixties, and has been declining since. Given that growth is expected to continue declining and food production is keeping pace, hampered only by lawlessness and totalitarian regimes, there seems no need to advocate coercive population reduction, with all the potential human rights abuses that have ocurred in China.

  39. Pinxi February 7, 2007 at 10:55 pm #

    Agree with Paul W the point is not well explained and too simplistic.

  40. Haldun February 8, 2007 at 1:03 am #

    Lets explain the population increase in a simpler way.
    Case 1: Suppose,World Pop. is 6 billion in Jan 1,2007. Suppose 100 million successful births take place during the year 2007. Suppose 100 million deaths occur during 2007. Then world population will still be 6 billion in Jan 1,2008. The demographics will be such that the incomming will take the place of the outgoing. Theoretically, no new jobs will be needed and the total energy needed during one year can be the same as the previous year.
    Case 2: Suppose world population is again 6 billion at Jan 1,2007 and that there were 150 million successful births and 50 million deaths during 2007. The world population in Jan 1,2008 will be 6.1 billion. This means that there is an increase of 100 million in world population during 2008 comming from 2007. Assuming the number of births and deaths during 2008 are equal we have to provide extra energy and food for the extra 100 million during 2008, 2009 and so on. If the world population remains constant afterwords say for 18 years and assumuming a survival rate of 80% for the 150 million newcommers during 2007, 120 million people will have reached 18 years of age at 2025. The number of higher education places and/or jobs needed in 2025 will obviously be more than the number that was needed the previous year group (19 years of age in 2025). The group that took higher education positions the year before (2024) will usually keep them for a few years, the group that took up jobs would need to keep them for at least 25 years (for retierment purposes).
    As world population increases every year (it has been doing so for the past 50 years and is projected to do so for the next 50 years) then the need for extra energy and food is obvious and the need for new jobs is evident although not so obvious. Each country can and a I believe it should do its own calculations.
    If you have time you can modify this simple model or do case studies for the past decade or two at the local level. Actually more realistic figures can be obtained when local calculations are made, say at the country level and added up to obtain world figures.

  41. Haldun February 8, 2007 at 5:13 am #

    Hi Jennifer, I am surprized at the number of people contributing to this web log thinking (or believing)that abortion is the only way to curb the population explosion. They should consult their doctors to learn of more humane methods of birth control. I was under the impression that people who are interested in this web log have some appreciation for the natural science, ecology (I am sure many do). Ecology in which we learn how we humans are a part of nature and how we belong to the top omnivore group of biota is a unifieying science that promotes synergy among humans and shows clearly how we all have a common fate, no way out!(global warming and its global consequences is a good example). As you know, the natural laws discussed in ecology, are not discussed in the other natural sciences, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In this respect, I suggested earlier that we humans be wise (rather than be smart) about over-breeding. All I meant was that we understand the relavent laws of nature in ecology, utilize them for our advantage and avoid their negative consequences, just like we do with the laws of gravity, electricity, thermodynamics, etc.
    I dont think that millions of humans being born on a pavement, having to live their lives and eventually die on the pavements in India desereve that kind of fate. I dont think that the war between humans and elephants (because their natural habitats were occupied and/or narrowed down by humans)is an indication of any kind of civilization. I dont think that monkeys having to raid human villages and steal food and humans having to kill them for survival is commensurate with the space age. Why is all that happening? I think that the major cause is over-population!

  42. Paul Williams February 8, 2007 at 6:46 am #

    Thanks, Haldun, I see what you’re getting at.

    I just wonder where you suppose the extra jobs have come from in the past, and why that process cannot continue, especially given that population growth is projected to slow down.

    I for one would not deny that many people live in horrible conditions, however world poverty is declining. Surely economic growth is the way to help them?

    The “war” between mammoths and humans was comprehensively lost by the mammoths well before any human civilisation arose. Today, if we are economically developed enough, we spend a lot of money and resources trying to preserve habitat for endangered species. Why do you think that is inferior to the Paleolithic model?

    If you think that an enforced international agreement on limiting population would not involve abortion, as well as totalitarian controls of the worst kind, then I can only assume you are unaware of the recent Chinese experience. Perhaps you should consult a history book for a dose of realism.

  43. Peter February 8, 2007 at 1:23 pm #

    The only balancing force of Nature is evolution, The timescale for which is a bit longer than the last 200 years. Sorry Haldun, but your starting point is silly. As for over-population, are you dead yet?

  44. Haldun February 8, 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    Hi Paul, it is evident that the Chinese experience has been bothering your conscience for a long time, I am sorry for that. Just to make you feel a bit better I think that you should also examine the sociological aspects of the Chinese society at the time. They preferred boys over girls if they only had to have a single child. That was the main reason behind the abortions. Historical evidence of a happening is not enough, you have to examine the psychological, sociological and other environmental condisions at the time as well. Being such a fan of history you may be aware that the burrying of girl infants alive in Mecca in the pre-Islamic era was common sociatal practice because they believed girls would bring shame on to their families. This was about 1500 years prior to the chinese experience. You would also remember that people practicing hinduism were sacrificing their own children for the sake of getting closer to the gods. This was about 10000 years prior to the chinese experience.
    You mention that “poverty is declining”, I wonder where you get your figures. My figures show that the gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening (dont think that I am a communist! I deplore that non scientific idiology).
    Economic growth may be part of a solution, but not the kind we have had so far. Economic growth so far (as many people are well aware now) led to nothing other than global warming!

    Hi Peter, yes indeed the last evolutionary step that led to what we name as “humans” today took place a long long time ago. The brain power was kicked up a few knoches (as Emeril would say!). Human brains have the power to image right and wrong, good and bad, and to do something about it.
    Thanks to evolution the human brain has the ability to gather data, predict highly probable future events and conclude. Was not global warming due to human activity predicted many years ago? You see, I am alive and well. Thank you for your concern.

  45. Libby February 8, 2007 at 4:26 pm #

    Thanks for your input Haldun. I’ve found it very interesting and I am sorry it seems to have got stuck on one point. Indeed many have suffered terrible atrocites over the course of history, and unfortunately will continue to do so. A crowded human world is a very sensitive topic for many reasons, and it kind of really shows where we place ourselves in relation to the rest of the natural world. We are by far the ‘superior beings.’

  46. Paul Williams February 8, 2007 at 5:06 pm #

    Haldun, your post managed to be both offensive and condescending at the same time. You also appear to be quite ignorant if you truly believe that economic growth has caused nothing but global warming.

    Have fun imagining your brave new world.

  47. Haldun February 8, 2007 at 7:29 pm #

    Paul, I did not say “caused nothing but” I said “led to ….”. In my understanding of the English language this implies that the end result was not as predicted in its beginings. I dont think there was any bad intention in economic growth at the begining. It just got out of hand with the population explosion and it just turned into a “produce-sell or perrish” episode. How many products we use that we dont realy need? Have you ever felt the pressure of salespersons and agressive advertisment that wants you to buy what you dont need? O.K. you can call this a struggle for survival in a human made ecosystem. The only thing with overproduction is that you need more energy to do so and as you cannot convert all of that energy into useful work 100% all you do is increase entropy (chaos)which needs yet more energy to put things bach in order again. İts a vicious cycle.
    Thank you for enriching my vocabulary with the word “condescending”.

  48. Jennifer February 9, 2007 at 12:34 pm #


    I think you make some good points, however, offensive they may be to some.

    Discussions on population do need a social context.

    Interestingly right now in many western countries women (myself included) are voluntarily having one or no babies.

  49. Jennifer February 9, 2007 at 3:23 pm #

    PS While economic growth has been part of the problem is also part of the solution … because it is when a society gets to enjoy a particular standard of living in a particular social context that women stop having lots of children.

  50. Pinxi February 9, 2007 at 6:05 pm #

    As an example, when I said the point wasn\’t explained well or too simplistic Haldun, was this claim \”One way of interpreting this data is that every day we either have to send this many people to higher education or give them a job.\” I\’m not sure if you meant this seriously, or meant \’higher\’ education, as it\’s a narrow explanation. For example, there\’s some indication that basic literacy and numeracy abilities alone (which can be relatively cheap to deliver) help women to manage their choices better and provide better for the children they have (also connected to a reduction in births). A key issue is not higher education but basic education and availability of basic (primary) education to all genders and ethnicities.

    Yes ec growth has brought rewards for those who have participated but it\’s a mistake to assume that what has worked in prior times and what works today in 1st world conditions can be applied directly to 3rd or 2nd world contexts. Paul W the poor in poor countries and regions need economic development and institutional development. I emphasise development. Economic growth by itself won\’t necessarily help them unless you assume the increased wealth stays in that country (often income, technology and skills are repatriated elsewhere by MNCs) and assume a widespread trickle-down effect but documented experience shows this assumption is misplaced and doesn\’t occur in under developed economies without arranging insitutional supports (something that IMF and loan conditionality tends to reduce and undermine). It needs instituationally and socially focused economic development. Paul you needn\’t be so harsh and literal over Haldun\’s turn of phrase.

  51. Haldun February 10, 2007 at 2:52 pm #

    Hi Pinxi, yes I agree with you that a key issue in overpopulation is basic education and its availability. This is so true for the third world. I think the the UN should put more effort in that respect.
    The intention in sharing my thoughts in Jennifer’s web log was that the platform here being ecologically minded would take the course of putting ideas for sustainable populations throught the world starting with the first world.
    My obsevations from world statistics is that unemployment in Europe is high, pollution levels are not as desired, and inflation is at a higher level than planed(by them), although there are no problems there with education and technology. It seems that having more exports and imports is not a solution (at least for the long run).
    So could it be that some time in history, their population had jumped up to a level that is burdenning their ecosystems today (although their populations have been rather stable,at least for the past 50 years or so)? Given a particular ecosystem could we find a sustainable level of human population at a specified standard of confort and leasure for a life time? (dont any one out there think that I am aiming at a “utopia”! I am well aware of the laws of the jungles and there effects upon us).
    I have a hunch that we could start a model by considering basic human needs from birth to death. We could quantify these needs say in terms of Kcal/capita/year, the efficiency with which we can provide this energy, and its availability. I believe that the key word from now on should be “sustainable population” rather than “abortion”.

  52. Aaron Edmonds February 10, 2007 at 6:09 pm #

    Nitrogen fertilizer prices have hyperinflated 40% in 3 months to a world record high. This is a serious development for the world of food because it increases the % of the world’s agricultural land that will be classified as marginal. Meaning the risk profile of trying to grow input intensive crops such as cereals (what the world is growing short of) will actually work to discourage production in these areas. Futher worsening food production prospects. I am a classic example. I have removed 120 hectares away from traditional cropping across to a tree farming system (sandalwood nuts) anticipating my marginal soils would become too risky to produce on. I will have to accept lower food output on the marginal soils but then again I don’t have the cost of the input so dont need to yield as much. But a trend you’ll continue to see and a bad development for those who like cheap food.

  53. harry p March 2, 2008 at 2:03 am #

    Uh! Today, Most Wanted Kids Recieve Only Lip Ser. 2 The T.L.C. Thing, 2 mention the millions of unwantedkids by the individuals who buy the crack etc, i.e. their unwanted “parents” eye call em the “I Luv U” Kids, Nut Mention The street Kids and sex slaves! the pt. is, even a casual obzurvur could & would tell anybody that cared enough to think a moment or 2 or a half hour to see the real difficulty is in unwanted, most unexpected also false petence kids actually pose, [Actuarial about 3: 1 +- ] to, shall I say, “to the life of the planet or as we know it anyway” we could go on an on an yet our own solution is the problem! know another “no brainer” write! Riight On! The Subjerk. Cu2 Ok.

  54. Jordan West July 7, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    This is the “butterfly effect” or “chaos theory”. Eventually the human race will over populate the earth, thus using all of its natural resources, man made resources, all food sources and taking up all of its space. We have no natural predators to control our population increase and we continue to breed at exponential rates that will become dangerous to our species in less than 2000 years if we continue to follow our current trend.

    We will be living in such cramped conditions that diseases will spread; we will be fighting each other for food or AS food and all life will die along with our planet. Our species needs to die back to allow the planet to re-heal and create more natural resources and try to learn from our mistakes. We are over evolving and becoming our own greatest threat and we must stop ourselves before it’s to late. Some might say I’m crazy amongst other things, but either we as a species have got to “cull” ourselves or the planet has to!

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