Questions Relating To The Future Of Humankind
By Jason G. Brent
24 October, 2011
WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY FROM THE NUCLEAR BOMBS DROPPED ON JAPAN IN 1945--20,000 TONS TNT EQUIVILENT--- TO NUCLEAR DEVICES WHICH PRODUCE OVER 57,000,000 TONS TNT EQUIVILENT.
1. After many years of thinking and research I could come up only with three ways by which the growth of the human population can be reduced to zero or made negative, if that were necessary for the survival of our species.
a) By war, with or without weapons of mass destruction, starvation, disease, ethnic cleansing, rape, mutilation, and other horrors. This most likely would occur as humanity got close to the carrying capacity of the earth and almost certainly would occur after humankind reached or exceeded the earth's carrying capacity.
b) By the voluntary action of all of humanity. This most likely would occur prior to reaching the carrying capacity of the Earth. Of course, this also could happen after humanity reached or exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth and be used to reduce the human population to the carrying capacity of the Earth without violence---provided the horrors in (a) above have not commenced. This action would include education of women, raising their standard of living, modifying the culture of many societies, increasing the standard of living of all of humanity, and many other actions of a similar nature. Voluntary action includes any and all non-violent steps humankind could take to reduce population growth to zero or make it negative except coercive action.
c) By the coercive action of society limiting the number of children a person or a couple could produce. This most likely would occur prior to reaching the carrying capacity of the Earth. Of course, it could also be used to reduce human population to the carrying capacity of the Earth after humanity has exceeded the carrying capacity of the Earth, provided the horrors in (a) above have not commenced.
There isn't a single accepted definition of "carrying capacity". For the purposes of this essay I will define "carrying capacity" as the number of human beings combined with the average per capita usage of resources which will permit that number of human beings to exist and survive on this planet for a minimum of 1000 years. An alternative definition of "carrying capacity" is the number of human beings combined with the average per capita usage of resources which if exceeded even for a short period of time will result in the inability of the Earth provide the resources necessary for civilization to continue causing a rapid and horrendous decline in the human population. While no one knows what the carrying capacity of the Earth may be, it cannot be infinite-- it must be finite. No matter how much the average per capita usage of resources is reduced the Earth could not support 1 trillion human beings. Similarly, if the per capita usage of resources were increased such that each human being used 30 times the amount of resources used by the average American is highly unlikely that the Earth could support 1 billion human beings.
At present human population is growing. It is highly likely that the average per capita usage of resources will continue to increase due to the rapidly growing economies of India and China and the growing economies of many of the other nations of the world. Therefore, a very strong case can be made that humanity will shortly exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth, if humanity already has not exceeded that capacity. If humanity exceeds the carrying capacity and takes no immediate action to reduce the population and/or the usage of resources to reduce it's impact on the planet below carrying capacity, then humans will enter into a violent competitions for the resources necessary to survive and the horrors set forth in 1(a) will occur. In simple terms, it will be each and every man/group/religion/nation/culture against every other man/group/religion/nation/culture in order to obtain resources which the Earth can provide so that the individual survives-- pure violent Darwinism. Billions will die and die horribly and more importantly the catastrophe will use up and/or destroy any remaining resources such that civilization will be unable to restart forever or at least for thousands of years
2. Does society, no matter how defined, have a right to limit the number of children a person produces by coercion or is the right to determine how many children a person produces absolute and society has no right to interfere with that decision? In considering this question limit yourself to the right I have set forth above and do not consider how that right could or would be enforced and whether enforcing that right would be harmful or beneficial to society. Those questions and any and all others would have to be considered, evaluated and discussed only if the right to limit the number of children a person produces by coercion exists in society. As far as I have been able to determine after doing many years of research I could not find a single human right that was not subject to control or modification by society. Even the right to life is not absolute-- many nations and cultures take away right to life when a person has committed certain types of murder. The right walk the streets as a free person is not an absolute right-- almost every nation or culture takes away that right and places a person in prison when a serious/heinous crime has been committed. Your reasons for your answer are requested.
3. While United Nations issues about eight different projections of the future human population, the most quoted and accepted projection is the "medium" projection. The most recent medium projection/estimation/prediction/prognostication (use whatever word you desire) issued by the UN predicts that the human population will exceed 10 billion and still be growing by the year 2100. Do you agree with that prediction after giving due consideration to the rate by which humanity is using the limited finite nonrenewable resources of our planet and the rate our species is using resources normally considered renewable? Do you agree with that prediction after giving consideration to the projected increase in per capita usage of resources by the nations of the world and in particular by the ever increasing per capita usage of resources of China and India? You may want to review the work of Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute as to the future usage of resources by China. Do you believe that the carrying capacity of the Earth, no matter how defined, is substantially less than 10 billion of our species and that the continued population growth will result in the collapse of society/the social order/civilization and the horrors set forth in paragraph 1 (a) above will happen prior to the year 2100? You may want to consult the works of William Catton, Richard Heinberg, Chris Clugston, David Pimental, James Lovelock and many others. Clugston's work can be viewed free of charge on his web site www.wakeupamerika.com (it is spelled with a 'k" and not a "c")-- pay particular attention to his book "Scarcity". The reasons for your answers to these questions would be most appreciated.
Since no rational person would want to control population growth by the horrors set forth in paragraph 1(a) above, there are in reality only two ways to control population growth/reduce population growth to zero/make it negative. No one can present a logically and factually supported case that the voluntary action (as defined in paragraph 1 above) of humanity will reduce population growth to zero prior to the commencement of the horrors described in paragraph 1(a) with absolute certainty. In other words, there is some level of probability that if humanity were to limit itself to voluntary action to control population growth that action will fail and humanity will exceed the carrying capacity of the Earth such that the horrors described in paragraph 1(a) would occur. No one knows what is the chance of success or what is the chance of failure of voluntary action-- no one knows if the chance of success is 70% and the chance of failure is 30% or 80/20 or 60/40 or 50/50 or any other combination of numbers. However, there is a chance of failure and failure will lead to the collapse of society/the collapse of the social order/the destruction of civilization and to the horrors described in paragraph 1(a).
More importantly, there is a vastly greater chance of failure of voluntary action if population growth not only has to be reduced to zero but made negative to substantially reduce the human population from the current 7 billion or from the future 10 billion (year 2100) to a much lower number in order for our species to survive for a reasonable period of time. A number of experts (whatever the word "expert" means) ( David Pimental of Cornell University and James Lovelock of Gaia fame, for example) have presented factually and logically supported cases that the Earth's carrying capacity is 2 billion or less of our species. Humanity ignores at its peril the work of these experts. If the chance of success/failure is one set of numbers for voluntary action relating to reducing population growth zero, then there is a second set of numbers for success/failure in which the success side of the equation is substantially reduced and failure side of the equation is substantially increased in considering voluntary action in relation to population reduction.
Since chance of failure of voluntary action could result in the horrific deaths of billions, perhaps as many as 9.6 billion--(10.1 billion alive in 2100 less the possible carrying capacity of 0.5 billion = reduction of 9.6 billion),the question becomes---- what level of possible failure of voluntary action is acceptable to humankind? Of course, the number of horrific deaths could be substantially less than 9.6 billion. However, since no one can guarantee with 100% certainty that the voluntary action will not prevent a substantial number of horrific deaths, the leaders of humanity have a duty to convene one or more conferences of the best minds presently on our planet to evaluate and consider coercive population control. It cannot be denied that many arguments can be made against coercive population control--- the experiment in India a number of years ago was a failure, humanity could equate coercive population control with the actions of Adolph Hitler or racists, it will take as long to impose coercive control as to make voluntary action successful and many others.
Coercive population control need not be discriminatory. If each couple in the entire world were limited to one child, no religion, group, nationality, race, culture, etc., would benefit at the expense of any other religion, group, nationality, race or culture.
This essay is not intended discuss or debate the advantages/disadvantages, or the problems/benefits of coercive population control. Rather, the purpose of this essay is to show that humanity must consider and evaluate coercive population control because there is a substantial, but undefined, risk that voluntary action will lead to the horrific deaths of a substantial number of human beings in the very near future----probably before the year 2050 and almost certainly before the year 2100.
Jason G. Brent firstname.lastname@example.org
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