Mothers and Overpopulation

A Dialogue: Ultimate Outcasts and Overpopulation Insights


Overpopulation Insights:

I was critical of an article from NEWSWEEK by Robert Samuelson whose major thesis was that it is somehow our duty to produce children because it is good for the economy.

In my response I expressed some concerns about his narrow perspective.  We currently have a system that rewards, encourages, subsidizes and markets to women and men who are simply able to have children.

Ultimate Outcasts:

The problem is that we have not created a system that benefits and rewards responsible reproduction. Moms are the best people to develop systems which benefits and rewards responsible reproduction. Moms are the best people to develop systems that would improve the situation because they have the experience.

The reproductive work that mothers do is too often considered a byproduct of events in society, instead of the source through which every event is made possible. The financial, social, religious and political set up is backwards and out of balance. 

Overpopulation Insights:

Hence, much energy, writing and angst from overpopulation concerns is directed at those more universal and impoverished groups (often women with children), rather than the equally important task of developing systems and reinforcing attitudes and behaviors for a more select group of responsible and enlightened potential mothers and fathers.

Ultimate Outcasts:

I agree completely. We live by example. Often it’s difficult for women to see beyond the joys or pressures of a young man’s attention, which leads to unplanned pregnancies. Especially, if it is what her mother did.

For young women to take a more intentioned path, they need to see the road ahead as one wide enough to walk along with a child and dream for herself. That involves reviewing economic systems, particularly our own in this country. We have an opportunity to lead the world on this issue.

 Overpopulation Insights:

I do have concerns about the role of poverty in either producing unwanted children, or children with little or no economic resources.

One idea that has been considered is paying people, especially young women at the poverty level, to delay having children and pursue more education. That would postpone their choosing to have children they cannot afford yet, raise both their skills and consequent pay level so they are more competitive and productive in the job market. 

In the end we have a more mature, better educated person less dependent on society for her support, and studies have shown she will have fewer children and live a happier more stable, productive life.

 Ultimate Outcasts:

I think paying women to not have children would create many ethical issues. But I support the idea of implementing greater financial incentives for child-bearing in women who have pursued education or have had a job. A woman engaged in these activities will tend to bear fewer children and select more responsible partners. Currently, there are more financial incentives for an impoverished woman to have a child than get an education or work in this country. That needs to change.

I think we should consider a grant system for all new births as has been implemented in many countries in the world. There would be a generous base grant amount for the first two births. Additional monies would be provided through the system based on the educational and work history of the individual woman. I think we can create an American version of this system through market mechanisms.

We need to create incentives for women to access a variety of opportunities, select an ideal partner to have children with and have a good life that includes a manageable number of children.

The more women can explore the world, they are more likely to find numerous reasons to put fewer humans on it.

And they would be a direct example for their sons and daughters.

 Overpopulation Insights:

Just what are the ethical issues you are concerned about in paying women not to have children until they are prepared to do so?

It would seem to benefit both the mother and any future children.  A win-win situation, if you will.

Secondly, paying women not to have children in essence is a grant system, so why would we need to institute a second grant system if women were already prepared through education and job training to support their children, if they choose to have them.

Finally, the trend is actually fewer births in educated families and they are the least likely to need a grant system. So far there is little evidence that most women in poverty have few if any incentives to not have children.

Unfortunately, I suspect there is so little that is available and meaningful to women in poverty that producing children is the only thing that is an option. I have empathy for their circumstances and lack of choices, but it is counterproductive to empowering women and mothers, and reducing both poverty and overpopulation.

In summary any incentives most likely should be aimed at raising the standard of living and education of those least able to afford and raise children successfully, rather than including those with more resources. Those more educated and effluent groups are quite able to pragmatically choose whether to have children or not, and be able to nurture, educate and financially support them, if they do choose to have children.

Ultimate Outcasts:

In theory, paying women not to have children does sound like a solution until women are doing extreme things to rid themselves of unintended pregnancies. I think we would also see increases in newborn abandonment.

Paying women not to have children should coincide with paying people not to procreate altogether. It takes two after all. So neither are
realistic policies since pregnancy is (usually) the by-product of one brief act. It’s a women who carries all of the evidence. And in
unfortunate situations, it has created a certain degree of punishment for women.

This reproductive bias and feminine suppression is ever-present in religions, politics, economics. Having children is still viewed as quite negative.

China has proposed it’s solution for years.  Chinese mothers still remain in a difficult ethical, emotional and some may argue moral dilemmas when a fleeting moment turned into another human being to feed. Abortions are common, but the elderly are living longer and longer. We need to pay attention to both problems:

Are babies the problem or is it an aging population?

Overpopulation Insights:

In an ideal world what you advocate is certainly a reasonable scenario. Unfortunately, we are very far from an ideal world, and this country and others are already in serious crisis mode. Dramatically slowing fertility rates in the near term have to be the major foundation for any real change in population dynamics. That can only happen if the focus is on the groups in our societies producing most of the unneeded and unwanted children, specifically in this country, but also in the rest of the underdeveloped nations. 

It would seem only logical then to funnel most allocated resources to the poor and uneducated, both women and men as you rightly point out. 

But first, for any potential solutions to occur, there must be a general acknowledgement by all that overpopulation will doom us and our children to ongoing conflicts and economic decline. That universal consciousness does not yet exist. 


In the end it will be the mothers (and fathers) that will carry the burden for not only educating their own children about the dangers of too many people, but who also represent the biological means in which fertility rates will fall to more sustainable levels.

That is a burden and responsibility that needs all the assistance we can provide, whether in the form of grants or incentives.

Remember: One Billion people = 1000 Million people

Credits:  Many thanks to Ultimate Outcasts

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Education: The Numbers Game




Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

                                              H.G. Wells:  The Outline of History: 1921



 A common theme or premise will emerge when any major political, economic or social problem is being examined. It may be openly discussed or in many cases simply implied and woven into any discussion: Any problem will tend to greatly increase in complexity when total numbers become larger; correspondingly, the inverse will occur when total numbers become smaller and problems will tend to greatly decrease.

Education is no exception. 

Today, we are all directly or indirectly involved in the process of education either with our own children attending classes, or as taxpayers funding the cost of education. Therefore, it is in everyone’s interest to see that education is a success. But yet our communities are often unable to agree on what education should accomplish, much less agree on a standard curriculum. Consequently, education has been less successful than what we would all like. High School graduation rates have declined from a peak of 77% in 1969 to around 69% in 2007. 

The major factor influencing public school decline in this country is ongoing overpopulation. Growing populations mean growing problems, and therefore, more services required throughout our system of government. Costs to maintain needed services are escalating faster than the growing numbers of taxpayers. Program budgets are continually being reduced or downsized to reflect the lack of funding, even though there is more demand for services. Education is often a major casualty of financial consolidation. 

The amount of students in each classroom, commonly known as class size, is directly effected by reduced budgets and attempts at downsizing. When there is less money and more students, the result is more students in fewer classrooms. Applying the premise that more students means an increase in complexity and more problems, it is clear that a class of 15 students will be more efficiently run and more learning will take place than a class of 35. It is logical that one teacher simply cannot control, manipulate, and educate 35 students as well as a class of 15 – all other things remaining equal. 

The argument is often voiced that an exceptional teacher will be able to teach more students effectively than the average teacher, which may be true in some cases. But common sense should reflect reality: How many exceptional teachers are there in this country?Exceptional is a rare commodity, just like any other field whether it be lawyers, carpenters, dentists, machinists, doctors or etc.. The fact is that most of us are dedicated committed people who do the best job we can, and average results are the norm. Average is not a negative, it is a gauge to measure results on a spectrum, and most will be average. To expect anything else in any occupation is to be naive. 

Money does not continue to flow to education in direct proportion when student populations are increasing. More demand for other government  services such as police, and the need for new services such as welfare agencies, especially in large metropolitan areas, will considerably shrink education budgets. In fact, just when education needs proportionally more money to solve the problems associated with greater numbers, it is usually forced to absorb major cutbacks.     

Interestingly though, when student populations shrink, money often remains at the same level or even increases. For one thing schools will be more effective as the total amount of students-at-risk (students who have behavior and learning problems) decreases relative to the drop in student population.  Total students-at-risk will undoubtedly drop at a faster rate than the reduction in overall student population as other problems also decrease in society – crime, drugs, etc.. All of which tends to have even a greater cumulative impact on reducing the amount of dysfunctional families; consequently, less students-at-risk.  As taxpayers we will be more willing to pay for education when we see more positive results. 

It is the same principle that works in private schools. The more affluent among us pay more money for the education of their children because they know their is a direct correlation between private schools, class size and success. An effective public school system, with a clear set of goals and mission statements, not beleaguered with discipline and social problems is more likely to generate more revenues than one that is in shambles, as many are today. A confused and threatened public is not likely to pass bond issues when we are already heavily taxed for other services, and we believe little is to be gained by more money being spent. This is especially true for people who have no perceived direct connection to education such as single taxpayers, married couples without children and, senior citizens in the community. 

Inner city schools are particularly prime candidates for reducing total student populations and class size. Students in poor inner city schools attend school for many different reasons, least of all for some is education. Drug dealing, making friends, girl friends and boy friends, escape from a dysfunctional home, a decent meal, or simply a warm place to spend the day is oftentimes far more important to disadvantaged students than what they may or may not be learning. Many of the schools in the inner cities are warehouses for students who have few other places to go. Schools are too often a haven from the streets and homes, which are sometimes places of violence and abuse.                        

The likelihood of making any real changes in inner city schools without a radical change in student populations is remote at best. There is simply not enough money for needed classrooms, specially trained instructors, and teaching resources; consequently, there are few if any effective solutions on the horizon, and hope is just another four letter word, more often replaced by despair and failure. 

All public education though will continue to show declining results without a reduction in student numbers, no matter what new buzz word comes along. There will always be some well meaning doctoral candidate who will develop some new system or theory that on paper looks promising.  But recent experiences show that when new ideas hit the playground and reality sets in, most die quickly following a fast track to oblivion. And the reason they die, even the most thoughtful and creative, is that they face the impossible task of competing with overwhelming student populations, which will defeat the best of intentions before they can be implemented.

What is crucial for all of us, is to begin to understand the relationship between numbers of students and numbers of problems. Our system of public education is a mirror image of our society in general. If society is undergoing a trend of unemployment, poverty, violence and crime so will education. Students are the products of adults who create the conditions under which we all live. Crime, drugs, violence are all rising at a faster rate than the population, which is a troubling indicator for the future. Education is directly linked to these problems and faces the same quandary that society does: Populations are becoming more unwieldy, more impersonal, and more dangerous. Certainly, increasing the general population and student populations will only tend to dramatically increase the problems for both society and public education.

The major objective for both education and society is to decrease both overall student populations and populations in general, so taxpayers and others will again have confidence in the goals and results of public schools. Americans will support success and are less likely to support failure. Human nature being what it is, we are more likely to pour more money into success than continue to feed a system which is more and more confusing and threatening to the citizens who are responsible for funding it.

Today, we all have a tendency when dealing with increasing numbers to look at them in a fatalistic way.  Increasing numbers are always with us, they never seem to go down and most likely they will entail growing expenditures. More houses, buildings, traffic, congestion, crime, government bureaucracies, the list is endless. 

But students should be viewed differently. Unfortunately they represent a resource which is steadily increasing in numbers also, and by all reports, declining significantly in overall quality. But like it or not students are the future of this country. We should view their increasing numbers and seriously consider the correlation between more students, less money, declining quality, and more complex social problems. 

That correlation should be a serious reminder to all of us that overpopulation should be taken as an ever increasing threat to this country.  

Remember: One Billion people = 1000 Million people



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Overpopulation Quotations 6_11

  • These Quotes are presented here in the spirit of discussion and dialogue. 
  • They do not necessarily represent the views of Overpopulation Insights
  • A selection of links are available for further information and study

 Poverty Attacks The Middle Class

Unemployment improved a bit last month but it is still nearly nine percent and the trouble is job creation is so slow, it will be years before we get back the seven and a half million jobs lost in the Great Recession. American families have been falling out of the middle class in record numbers. The combination of lost jobs and millions of foreclosures means a lot of folks are homeless and hungry for the first time in their lives.

One of the consequences of the recession that you don’t hear a lot about is the record number of children descending into poverty.

The government considers a family of four to be impoverished if they take in less than $22,000 a year. Based on that standard, and government projections of unemployment, it is estimated the poverty rate for kids in this country will soon hit 25 percent. Those children would be the largest American generation to be raised in hard times since the Great Depression.

Nationwide, 14 million children were in poverty before the Great Recession. Now, the U.S. Census tells us its 16 million – up two million in two years. That is the fastest fall for the middle class since the government started counting 51 years ago.

Hard Times Generation: Homeless Kids :  60 Minutes: CBS News


Mainstream Media Recognizes Overpopulation

You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?

“The only answer can be denial,” argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called “The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.” “When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required.”

Gilding cites the work of the Global Footprint Network, an alliance of scientists, which calculates how many “planet Earths” we need to sustain our current growth rates. G.F.N. measures how much land and water area we need to produce the resources we consume and absorb our waste, using prevailing technology. On the whole, says G.F.N., we are currently growing at a rate that is using up the Earth’s resources far faster than they can be sustainably replenished, so we are eating into the future. Right now, global growth is using about 1.5 Earths. “Having only one planet makes this a rather significant problem,” says Gilding.

This is not science fiction. This is what happens when our system of growth and the system of nature hit the wall at once. While in Yemen last year, I saw a tanker truck delivering water in the capital, Sana. Why? Because Sana could be the first big city in the world to run out of water, within a decade. That is what happens when one generation in one country lives at 150 percent of sustainable capacity.

“If you cut down more trees than you grow, you run out of trees,” writes Gilding. “If you put additional nitrogen into a water system, you change the type and quantity of life that water can support. If you thicken the Earth’s CO2 blanket, the Earth gets warmer. If you do all these and many more things at once, you change the way the whole system of planet Earth behaves, with social, economic, and life support impacts. This is not speculation; this is high school science.

The Earth Is Full : Thomas Friedman: NY Times


Gays Weigh In On Overpopulation

Some have gone a step further, claiming there’s a direct correlation between the number of gay people and the increasingly dire state the world is in.

“Today overcrowding, urban sprawl, pollution, and increased yet inadequate farmland are negatively affecting both wildlife and the humans who cause it at an alarming rate,” wrote G. Roger Denson in an article for the Huffington Post.

“Given what we know about natural selection as an eminently versatile response to environmental endangerment, and what we know about the genome’s metabolic adaptability, it follows that humans over generations would develop a mechanism within them to check and balance procreative extravagance.”

If it’s true, it couldn’t be happening at a better time. The World Health Organization recently announced that over a billion people — one in six of us — are facing starvation. Food prices continue to skyrocket, as more and more hungry mouths demand their share of a dwindling agricultural resource.

The world is, quite frankly, a mess, and “breeders” are the number one cause of the problem. The world’s population increases by 74 million a year, with scientists estimating almost 8 billion people crammed onto our tiny planet by 2022. We face the real possibility that within our own lifetimes, we’ll reach a stage where the number of people on this planet could become unsustainable.

Homosexuality, it’s argued, is one of nature’s solutions to that.

It makes a lot of sense. We’re living on the knife-edge of a new era, in which science and medicine might one day keep people alive for decades, centuries or perhaps even indefinitely. That removes the human necessity of reproduction, which is arguably the only biological difference between straight and gay relationships.

In all other respects, gay people and straight people are the same. The look the same, have the same hopes, dreams, and ambitions. They share the same strengths and weaknesses, including the desire to build emotional and sexual bonds with other human beings (just ones of the same sex).

The only difference is that straight people make babies naturally, whereas gay couples require the intervention of science or adoption (and, in all honesty, a lot more straight people should consider adopting a parentless child rather than add one of their own to the increasingly overcrowded world).

And despite what conservative Christians try to tell you, such a scenario isn’t science fiction. Homosexuality isn’t just entirely normal in nature — it’s rampant. Over 1,500 animal species have shown demonstrations of homosexuality or bisexuality. Studies of rats demonstrated that this behavior tended to increase when kept in overpopulated conditions, even when the ratio of males-to-females remained static.

Is Homosexuality the Next Stage in Human Evolution? : Roland Hulm : Eden


Advice For Future Martian Settlers

I advise the Martians to keep in mind the experience of societies on Earth, that a high standard of living in conjunction with readily available contraception can be major factors in holding back unrestrained population growth and resultant overpopulation. Conversely, a good standard of living can be promoted by keeping population in check so that plenty of Martian resources are available to everyone. Our planet may be humankind’s first step to colonizing the cosmos.

It would be best to make the experience of Mars and her teeming cities a template for colonization of the solar system and the stars beyond.

Teeming Cities of Mars: Jared Daniel:

Illegal Immigration Enforcement

Earlier this month, New York and Massachusetts joined Illinois in withdrawing from Secure Communities, the promising immigration enforcement program that the Obama administration hopes to extend nationwide by 2013. The effort, begun in 2008 and since expanded to nearly 1,800 jurisdictions in 43 states and territories, links federal, state and local arrest data with the immigration status and fingerprint records of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency; the agency then uses that information to decide whether to deport lawbreakers.

The idea behind Secure Communities is to focus enforcement on those immigrants who pose the greatest public safety threat. The program is far from perfect — immigration officials sometimes deport minor offenders, like traffic law violators, rather than the more serious criminals, who should be the top priority. But by withdrawing from the program, these states are weakening an essential immigration enforcement tool rather than working to improve it.

Of course, Secure Communities will always arouse controversy: while we can all agree that Level 1 offenders should be the first targets, and mere traffic violators should be the lowest priority, reasonable people will differ about the many in-between cases. Even some who are guilty only of immigration offenses, such as previously deported immigrants who have repeatedly returned illegally, are fair game for federal immigration agents.

Secure Communities is an essential program that is beginning to reshape its priorities. The three governors who have abandoned the program rather than working to improve it seem to be making a grand gesture intended more to impress their political bases than to strengthen immigration enforcement.

Three States Short of a Secure Community : Peter H. Schuck : Professor of Law:Yale University and New York University 


Overpopulation = More Profits – More Poor – More Crime

Overpopulation is good for business. If a company in China or India can sell a product at a fraction of the price charged by an American company, that is because the cheaper product is based on what is virtually slave labor: the backbreaking misery of the poor.

The world is divided into a small number of the very rich and a much greater number of the poor. There is also the middle class, a vanishing breed who have neither the money of the rich nor the leisure of the poor.

Overpopulation is also correlated with crime. Contrary to its depiction on TV, there is nothing mysterious about crime. Anyone born in a poor neighborhood must occasionally break the law in order to survive. Prostitution, for example, is not an occult society: to a large extent, it is just a way of paying the rent.

Collapse: The Practical Paradigms: Peter Goodchild:  Counter


 Commodity Prices and Global Warming

The rapid growth in farm output that defined the late 20th century has slowed to the point that it is failing to keep up with the demand for food, driven by population increases and rising affluence in once-poor countries.

Consumption of the four staples that supply most human calories — wheat, rice, corn and soybeans — has outstripped production for much of the past decade, drawing once-large stockpiles down to worrisome levels. The imbalance between supply and demand has resulted in two huge spikes in international grain prices since 2007, with some grains more than doubling in cost.

Those price jumps, though felt only moderately in the West, have worsened hunger for tens of millions of poor people, destabilizing politics in scores of countries, from Mexico to Uzbekistan to Yemen. The Haitian government was ousted in 2008 amid food riots, and anger over high prices has played a role in the recent Arab uprisings.

Now, the latest scientific research suggests that a previously discounted factor is helping to destabilize the food system: climate change.

Many of the failed harvests of the past decade were a consequence of weather disasters, like floods in the United States, drought in Australia and blistering heat waves in Europe and Russia. Scientists believe some, though not all, of those events were caused or worsened by human-induced global warming.

A Warming Planet Struggles to Feed Itself :  Justin Gillis : NY Times


A “Minor” Shortcoming

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

Sir Winston Churchill 

Sounds Like Us!

The main thrust of Idiocracy is to shine a light on our short-term priorities and our culture’s lack of foresight as society today expands and devours up the planet’s resources converting everything into large monuments of trash. Judge also accounts for the reckless breeding where the uneducated pop out more and more children. This reproductive recklessness is arguably the cornerstone of the other intractable problems. As population explodes natural resources will disappear. The world will lurch toward crisis, famine, collapse.

Idiocracy, Re-Visited : Joe Giombrone : Film Review :


Suicide After 70? 

There is a simple but agonizingly difficult solution to mankind’s overpopulation problem. It is legalizing suicide after a certain age, say 70, and making it easily available.

No, wait, don’t just condemn it out of hand. This is a serious proposition worthy of serious thought. There are millions of people out there who are condemned to useless lives, helpless in bed, entirely dependent on others for their very existence. There is every reason to believe that given a rational choice, free of religious dogma and superstition, they would choose suicide over their present condition.

Think of the immense burden we now bear to support these citizens in their meaningless lives. An easy suicide would be a blessing for them, their families and society as a whole.

And it would end the financial shortfalls of Social Security and Medicare and possibly eliminate Medicaid altogether.

It is already legal in Holland and Oregon, and just recently, a canton in Switzerland rejected by a vote of 85 percent a call to ban assisted suicide. So it is not an unheard of proposition.

All it takes is a few courageous legislators, both state and national, to start the ball rolling. Certainly any such bill would go under in a hail of ridicule, but a few would see the need. Over a generation or two, as population pressures continued to grow, so would the logic of a suicide solution.

A controversial, but rational, solution— Otto Knauth, Des Moines


The Old and New Slavery 

What I do know is that it is surreal that these scenes are unfolding in the 21st century. The peak of the trans-Atlantic slave trade was the 1780s, when just under 80,000 slaves a year were transported from Africa to the New World

These days, Unicef estimates that 1.8 million children a year enter the commercial sex trade. Multiply M (one child: ed.) by 1.8 million, and you understand the need for a new abolitionist movement.

She’s 10 and May Be Sold to a Brothel : Nicholas D. Kristof  : NY Times


A Fertile Plains Land Grab 

A new scramble for Africa is under way. As global food prices rise and exporters reduce shipments of commodities, countries that rely on imported grain are panicking. Affluent countries like Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China and India have descended on fertile plains across the African continent, acquiring huge tracts of land to produce wheat, rice and corn for consumption back home.

Some of these land acquisitions are enormous. South Korea, which imports 70 percent of its grain, has acquired 1.7 million acres in Sudan to grow wheat — an area twice the size of Rhode Island. In Ethiopia, a Saudi firm has leased 25,000 acres to grow rice, with the option of expanding. India has leased several hundred thousand acres there to grow corn, rice and other crops. And in countries like Congo and Zambia, China is acquiring land for biofuel production.

These land grabs shrink the food supply in famine-prone African nations and anger local farmers, who see their governments selling their ancestral lands to foreigners. They also pose a grave threat to Africa’s newest democracy: Egypt.

Growing water demand, driven by population growth and foreign land and water acquisitions, are straining the Nile’s natural limits. Avoiding dangerous conflicts over water will require three transnational initiatives. First, governments must address the population threat head-on by ensuring that all women have access to family planning services and by providing education for girls in the region. Second, countries must adopt more water-efficient irrigation technologies and plant less water-intensive crops.

Finally, for the sake of peace and future development cooperation, the nations of the Nile River Basin should come together to ban land grabs by foreign governments and agribusiness firms. Since there is no precedent for this, international help in negotiating such a ban, similar to the World Bank’s role in facilitating the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan, would likely be necessary to make it a reality.

None of these initiatives will be easy to implement, but all are essential. Without them, rising bread prices could undermine Egypt’s revolution of hope and competition for the Nile’s water could turn deadly.

When the Nile Runs Dry : Lester Brown : Earth Policy Institute


China: Critical City Water Shortages

A chronic drought is ravaging farmland. The Gobi Desert is inching south. The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water. The rapid growth of megacities — 22 million people in Beijing and 12 million in Tianjin alone — has drained underground aquifers that took millenniums to fill.

Not atypically, the Chinese government has a grand and expensive solution: Divert at least six trillion gallons of water each year hundreds of miles from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the north China plain and its 440 million people.

The demands of the north will not abate. Migration from rural areas means Beijing’s population is growing by one million every two years, according to an essay in China Daily written last October by Hou Dongmin, a scholar of population development at Renmin University of China. “With its dwindling water resources, Beijing cannot sustain a larger population,” Mr. Hou said. “Instead, it should make serious efforts to control the population, if not reduce it.”

Beijing has about 100 cubic meters, or 26,000 gallons, of water available per person. According to a standard adopted by the United Nations, that is a fraction of the 1,000 cubic meters, or 260,000 gallons, per person that indicates chronic water scarcity.

The planning for Beijing’s growth up to 2020 by the State Council already assumes the water diversion will work, rather than planning for growth with much less water, said Mr. Wang, the former official.

City planners see a Beijing full of golf courses, swimming pools and nearby ski slopes — the model set by the West.

“Instead of transferring water to meet the growing demand of a city, we should decide the size of a city according to how much water resources it has,” Mr. Wang said.

Plan for China’s Water Crisis Spurs Concern : Edward Wong : NY Times


Remember: One Billion people = 1000 Million people

1 Comment

Overpopulation Quotations 5_11

  • These Quotes are presented here in the spirit of discussion and dialogue. 
  • They do not necessarily represent the views of Overpopulation Insights
  • A selection of links are available for further information and study

    Older Residents’ Numbers Rise, Put More Demand On Shrinking Budgets

     Growing older: Census data released this month showed significant increases in the population of older residents from 2000 to 2010:


    2010 pop.: 37.2 million (Change from 2000: 9.8 percent)

    65 and over: 4.2 million (Change from 2000: 16.8 percent)

    85 and over: 601,000 (Change from 2000: 41.1 percent)

    The Press-Enterprise – Jim Miller/Ben Goad


     Unrestricted population growth can put women and children at risk.

    In response to the suffering experienced by men, women, and children in nations with rising populations, biblical scholar Sarah Ruden recently wrote in support of family planning programs. She focuses on Paul’s defense of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7 and she writes, “Paul condemns by clear implication most of the conditions in the Third World that are blamed for catastrophic overpopulation: the forced marriage of young girls, the general oppression of women, marriage as “just what you do” and marriage as a mode of production. He insists that both men and women consider their own needs and choose freely what the best life will be for them as individuals.”

    A Christian Response to Overpopulation-Amy Julia Becker



     Overpopulation Tsanumi-By Luojie: Yuba

    Overpopulation, Religion and Science
    In America, religious groups are being manipulated by corporate interests to work against their own members’ best interests, in health and economic well-being. They are being used to cast doubt upon well-established scientific findings in important issues such as overpopulation, pollution, and global warming. This would not be happening except for the diametrically opposed world-views of religion and science. In America today, corporate interests and the conservative politicians they have purchased use religion to stifle science.

    In other words, trust in God. He won’t let us destroy life on earth. Could there be any better example of the folly of faith?

    In conclusion, it is time for scientists and other rationalists to join together to put a stop to those who claim they have some sacred right to decide what kind of society the rest of us must live in. We must act for the sake of the betterment of humankind, and the future of our planet. Based on the favorable signs that young people are increasingly abandoning religion, I have great hope that perhaps in another generation America will have joined Europe and the rest of the developed world in casting off the rusty chains of ancient superstition that stand as an impediment to science and progress. I just hope it’s not too late.

    Victor Stenger: The Folly of Faith –


    Arizona: SB 1070

    As sheriff of Cochise County I am responsible, along with my 86 deputies, for patrolling 83.5 miles of that border, as well as the 6,200 square miles of my county to the north of it — an area more than four times the size of Long Island.

    Whether illegal aliens committed a crime to enter this country, or a civil offense to remain unlawfully, they are still breaking the law, and S.B. 1070 is Arizona’s solution to help the federal government hold them accountable without becoming embroiled in confusion that enables individuals to fall through the cracks. At the same time, it assures the standards of probable cause and reasonable suspicion are applied throughout the process.

    Of course, the law’s critics prefer to think that any state-level effort to control illegal immigration is racially motivated, and that the law is just an invitation for us to racially profile Americans and legal residents of Hispanic descent.

    What’s more, such critics have a strange impression of what law enforcement officers along the border actually do. In Cochise County, my deputies and I often have to travel many miles to respond to a resident’s call for assistance. The last thing we have time to do is harass law-abiding people.

    Larry A. Dever – Abandoned On The Border – New York Times

     Unskilled Labor and Social Stability

    People who are concerned about overpopulation generally think of the problem in terms of impact on the environment and depletion of resources. Another concern, perhaps just as significant, is that overpopulation is leading to a worldwide surplus in low and unskilled labor.

    Ironically, President Obama noted in his May 19th speech about the Middle East that millions upon millions of people without any marketable skills in the Arab world pose a threat to regional and global stability. Yet in a speech delivered nine days earlier in El Paso, Texas, on immigration policy, President Obama laid out a plan that would legalize millions of low and unskilled illegal aliens and create for millions more such workers to immigrate legally to the United States.

    Every human being possesses inherent value and is entitled to respect and dignity. But the reality of the world in which we live is that low and unskilled labor, as a commodity, is rapidly losing whatever value it might still have. And, as the president correctly points out, millions of people with little or nothing to contribute economically pose a threat to social stability. Unfortunately, the president has a hard time reconciling this reality to his immigration policy.

    The Dan Stein Report-Ira Mehlman-FAIR

    Need For Space and Overpopulation 

    Consider that although the origins of a war may be rooted in antiquity, and are complex in nature, it is essentially about the need for space, which breeds all manner of justifications for violence, with the root cause concealed behind politics. Our globe has been subject to overcrowding for several centuries, and consequently the fabric of our society has been pulled to the breaking point.

    Unless a reasonable means of implementing birth control is found, the situation will take care of itself, unfortunately through mass murder, genocide, suicides, and famines. It’s time to re-start the dialogue about overpopulation.

    JD Adams –


    I’m going to add my quote to all these other people. THE MORE EXTREME OUR NUMBERS, THE MORE EXTREME OUR CHILDREN’S CONSEQUENCES.

    Frosty Wooldridge,


    Out of Balance

    Working from the premise that all of the above issues are part-and-parcel of the same macro problem—overshoot—Cooksey explains his wake up call that global warming was just one symptom of something larger. He then goes about encouraging people to look for solutions. Real solutions. (He’s clearly not a fan of anything that just sets out to maintain the status quo.)

    Film: How To Boil a Frog,


    Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

    Several writers have cautioned that as many of the resources the world depends on are depleted (possibly as soon as the middle or end of this century), food production will decline rapidly, giving rise to starvation on a massive scale. The result will be a reduction in the world’s population, possibly to the two billion which can survive wholly on renewable resources. We have the choice of achieving the necessary population reduction pre-emptively, or by allowing it to take place through starvation and social breakdown. It is up to us.

    Hal Sundin – Glenwood Springs Post Independent


    Again, The Wealthy Few Controlling The Many

    It’s mind-blowing when you actually think about it:  The fate of our planet, our destiny, is being determined by a small group of wealthy corporatists and politicians, who control, and profit from, dirty energy and military-war decisions.  The consequences of their decisions have already brought about an unfathomable hell of economic and ecological ruin. (Read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine) If they are allowed to have their way over the opposition of millions of people, globally speaking, the future could very easily resemble the 1973 sci-fi film “Soylent Green“.


     Film: By Day and By Night

    In the future, overpopulation causes humans to split into two groups. One group lives by day, while the other never sees the sun. One mother’s daughter goes missing and finds herself awake in the strange daylight. Director Alejandro Molina considers what is ethical when it comes to humanity’s survival – DIFF synopsis for By Day and By Night


     It Doesn’t Pencil

    Population growth is a major step-back in terms of making any significant progress in reducing global environmental impacts. While most nations agree that something needs to be done, most models do not seem to include the human growth factor in the picture. Let’s say that average world environmental footprint (energy use, waste generation, food consumption…) reduces by 30% (very ambitious) by 2050 through advances in technology innovations. By that time the world population would have grown by at least 2 billion. The environmental pressures and energy demand as a direct result of this 2 billion person increase will most likely far exceed the impacts saved through this improvement.  At the end of the day despite significant improvement in reducing our current impacts (based on current population), and unless some nations set targets for controlling population growth, the overall human footprint will continue increasing very significantly as a sole consequence of global population growth.

     Sylvain Richer de Forges,


     Greg Mortenson:Poor Bookeeper – Right on Girl’s Education


    I also believe that Greg was profoundly right about some big things.

    He was right about the need for American outreach in the Muslim world. He was right that building schools tends to promote stability more than dropping bombs. He was right about the transformative power of education, especially girls’ education. He was right about the need to listen to local people — yes, over cup after cup after cup of tea — rather than just issue instructions.

    Three Cups of Tea, Spilled – Nicholas D. Kristof, NY Times


    Sci-Fi vs Science

    If it were not for movies like Blade Runner, maybe the consequences of our industrialized society would not seem as severe. Maybe I will never see a water world, or find myself back…from the future, but it is not impossible. In the words of Michio Kaku, a renowned physicist, “a lot of the predictions made by science fiction writers have been replaced by the march of science,” and as documentaries begin to look more like the latest from Roland Emmerich, the more the division between science and Sci-Fi blurs.

    Sci-Fried: The Nexus of Science Fiction, Science and the Environment – Kelly Hamilton – Green


     Remember: A Billion people = 1000 Million people

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    Overpopulation Quotations 4_11

    • These Quotes are presented here in the spirit of discussion and dialogue. 
    • They do not necessarily represent the views of Overpopulation Insights
    • A selection of links are available for further information and study


    Feminism and Mothers

    I think women need a new movement with a new arc, one that feminism fits into, not the other way around.

    It must address the importance of women’s sensual appeal – not ignore or suppress it. This movement must make social, political and economic issues the most central factor in women’s reproductive rights – not suppress or ignore mothers. It must explore the power that mothers have to shape the world through themselves, their children and supportive partners.

    Ultimate Outcasts


    Idle Men

    Part of the problem has to do with structural changes in the economy. Sectors like government, health care and leisure have been growing, generating jobs for college grads. Sectors like manufacturing, agriculture and energy have been getting more productive, but they have not been generating more jobs. Instead, companies are using machines or foreign workers.

    The result is this: There are probably more idle men now than at any time since the Great Depression, and this time the problem is mostly structural, not cyclical. These men will find it hard to attract spouses. Many will pick up habits that have a corrosive cultural influence on those around them. The country will not benefit from their potential abilities.

    This is a big problem. It can’t be addressed through the sort of short-term Keynesian stimulus some on the left are still fantasizing about. It can’t be solved by simply reducing the size of government, as some on the right imagine.

    The Missing Fifth – DAVID BROOKS – May 9, 2011 – New York Times


    Republicans and Family Planning

    Greater access to birth control would also help check the world population, which the United Nations warned a few days ago is rising more quickly than expected. The U.N. now projects the total population in 2100 will be 10.1 billion.

    Yet this year, Republicans in Congress have been trying to slash investments in family planning. A budget compromise last month cut international family planning spending by 5 percent, but some Republicans are expected to seek much bigger cuts in future years.

    If they succeed, the consequences will be felt in places like this remote Somali town. Women won’t get access to contraceptives, and the parade of unwanted pregnancies, abortions, fistulas, and mothers dying in childbirth will continue.

    Ah, but there was one Republican-sponsored initiative for family planning in Congress this year. It provided contraception without conditions — for wild horses in the American West. It passed on a voice vote.

    Maybe on Mother’s Day, we could acknowledge that family planning is just as essential for humans as for horses.

    Mothers We Could Save – NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF – May 7, 2011- New York Times


    American Jobs

    There are no jobs Americans won’t do; only wages that Americans won’t work for.



    Thermodynamics and Overpopulation

    The primary goal of industrialized economies is to grow, and this is an inherently unsustainable ambition. Even increasing eco-efficiency will not compensate for the damage we are inflicting to the environment through population growth and excessive consumption. Although it has been shown that environmental impacts will decrease initially as “green” technologies are emerging and growing, this will only hold up for as long as this growth can occur faster than the parallel growth of the economy. At the point wherein economical progress overtakes the progress in eco-efficiencies, environmental degradation will become a mainstay as long as economic growth is the main objective. Therefore, thanks to the second law of thermodynamics, it is possible in the short-term to have both economic growth and environmental protection, but never will they endure as long-term mutual outcomes. As Huesemann puts it, “current efforts at improving industrial eco-efficiency without addressing overconsumption and overpopulation are nothing more than putting off a socially and economically disruptive day of reckoning.”

    Thermodynamics and the Downward Spiral of Industrialized Society – Lindsey Wedewer – Triple


    Technology and Self-destruction

    It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.

    Elizabeth Kolbert – Field Notes from a Catastrophe


     Understanding Science

    Contrary to what endless columns in newspapers and magazines or minutes of broadcast time would lead you to believe, celebrity, sports, business and politics are not the most important issues. The reality is that the most powerful force shaping our lives today is science, whether it’s in industry, medicine or the military. We cannot control the ideas and inventions unleashed by science if we, as a society, are scientifically illiterate.

    We elect our politicians to represent us and lead us into the future and they must make decisions to deal with climate change, overpopulation, endocrine disrupters, stem cells, cloning, genetically modified organisms, toxic pollution, deforestation and a host of other issues that require some understanding of science.

    SCIENCE MATTERS – David Suzuki: Common


    Spiritual Collapse

    Resource depletion, ecological disasters, over-population and climate chaos are indicators of spiritual as well as ecological collapse. They demonstrate also how much we need a story that renews our love for the mystery of the Earth — a story that can integrate the world’s wisdom traditions with the sciences of cosmology and evolution. Thomas Berry pointed out that the universe itself is our new sacred story. Everything in the universe had a common origin in the mysterious Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago. We ourselves are participants in its awesome physical and spiritual dimensions, which are an authentic source of joy, celebration and support.

    John Stanley and David Loy – Eco-Buddhism: A Sustainable Enlightenment


    Animal Rights and Overpopulation

    Yes, I think human overpopulation is itself a form of animal persecution and we need to find ways of massively reducing the occupation of the Earth by the human species, so that other creatures can have their fair share of the world’s habitat. The term I use is “human supremacism”, which is the totally selfish, arrogant, immoral and illogical view that human beings are somehow more important than other animals. It’s on a par, in terms of wickedness, with notions of white supremacism and Aryan supremacism, as advocated by the Nazis. 

    Sadly this may all be too much for many “animal protectionists” who still want their jobs their cars their umpteen kids, their domestic appliances. But half a liberation is no liberation. Animal rights campaigning needs to extend itself to other areas which hitherto it has hardly touched on.

    Ronnie Lee


    Solving Problems

    Beginning today, ask of every local, state or national problem you encounter, ‘Will this problem be easier or more difficult – and costly – to mitigate if local, state or national population continues to grow?’

    Edward C. Hartman: The Population Fix: Breaking America’s Addiction to Population Growth


    Machines and The Future

    Machines will definitely be able to observe us and understand us better. Where that leads is uncertain.

    Harmut Neven


    America and Immigrants

    They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture.

    Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people. When we liberated France, no one in those villages were looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country’s flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

    And here we are in 2007 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I’m sorry, that’s not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900?s deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

    Rosemary LaBonte

     Remember: A Billion people = 1000 Million people

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    7 Billion People:The Consequences


    Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

    Martin Luther King Jr.

    It’s all over?

    Twenty years ago, after another particularly grievous and barbaric cycle of events in the world, I was off on some inane summation concerning the perilous state of civilization in general. A friend of mine listened silently for awhile and then turned to me and said like he was teaching a man-child that would simply not acknowledge reality, “It’s all over.”

    Although at the time I did not fully comprehend the indelible implications of such a statement, it has become increasingly clear over the years the complete futility that such a statement implied:

    It seems no matter what actions governments or individuals undertake, no matter what governments and individuals think we should do, no matter what governments or individuals plan for the future, none of it will matter in the end. We are doomed to follow the path that biological determinism and mankind’s long suffering history and events have created for us. 

    The Earth’s population will reach Seven Billion people sometime in 2011 and most likely Nine Billion or more by 2045.

    Is it simply too late?  Is it really just all over? By running through the numbers today and then extrapolating out from the populations which will present themselves in the very near future, hope is not a word that comes easily to mind. For those not willing to confront the reality of more and more people, Martin Luther King Jr. would again be useful as a credible witness when he described overpopulation as a “modern plague” and not because we are not aware, but because we lack a “universal consciousness” – code for moral discipline. That was in the 1960’s! 

    And here we are today with half the people in the world – not to say a significant part of our own population – living in a litany of shambles and disarray.

    Are we so naive as to try to hold onto the tired old economic arguments from the wealthy minions that “trickle-down” economics and corporate led growth economies will miraculously turn chicken shit, Seven Billion people into chicken salad, Nine Billion people”? Recent decades have certainly proved those economic forecasts miserable failures. So you don’t have to be a gloom and doomer to picture what 2045 might look like.

    The only thing that has kept us upright up till now is the advent of the “green revolution”, meaning farmers over the years have poured an avalanche of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on farms, which have increased crop yields dramatically. On the other hand that which at first was seen as salvation has turned into more of an evolving disaster by polluting the waters and ecosystems that we depend on even more for our survival. Besides, how long can we really expect to get away with the fertilizer-pesticide trade-off when available tillable acreage is already maxed out and steadily losing ground to the new mega-cities and the ever-spreading suburbs?

    Still, the estimate is One Billion people go hungry everyday, and that unfortunately is a very conservative number depending on what your definition of hungry is. The much more likely figure approaches two billion, and another billion living in what can generously be described as squalor. 

    But agronomy only explains the reason we have been able to attempt to feed Seven Billion people. That does not explain the fundamental cause of  the population explosion. The precipitous increase in populations – in 1930 there were only Two Billion people in the world and today it has more than tripled – is due to the ongoing marriage of technology and medical science. In a very short time period of 80 years we have moved from an average life span of 59 to almost 80 for both men and women in developed countries such as the United States, and even longer life spans in some European and Asian countries. We have the ability to actually extend a substantial number of people’s lives out to 100 years old, and that is with just a minimum of preventative health meaures during a lifetime. 

    In other words: lay off the food, alcohol, cigarettes, get off the couch and at least walk around the block on a regular basis. And when, and it is only a question of when, we finally find a cure for the majority of cancers there will be another explosion of people able to live well into their 90’s and 100’s! Now that is a predicament fraught with more than its share of moral ambiguity.

    Have we even considered that eventuality? Have we even done one iota of planning for that eventuality? Of course not. None of us believe we are going to be the ones warehoused in some nursing home – the new phrase of choice is assisted living facility. For those of us lucky enough to not have had the experience of caring and visiting our mothers, fathers, family and friends in such facilities, here is the daily routine for your later years:

    • Sleep 12 hours at night
    • A staff person will help you dress and move you to your wheelchair
    • A staff person or two will then take you to the toilet or change your soiled Depends. If you are too heavy they will have to lift you with a “cherry picker” and wheel you to the toilet
    • A staff person will then wheel you down to one or two dining rooms for breakfast: one is for people that can still feed themselves and the other is for the more aged or disabled who cannot feed themselves – a liquid pureed diet is the norm at this point
    •  A staff person will then wheel you back up to your double room after breakfast.  For many of the patients they will be either undressed and put back to bed, or a few will rest or read if they still have their eyesight, or watch a blaring television if they can both see and hear to some degree
    • Any conversation will revolve around the “lousy food” or “lousy care” – which is mostly completely undeserved – but at that point in your life you have completely reverted back to the child centered I, and consequently, you live in a fantasy world of your own making
    • The above routine will repeat itself twice more for lunch and dinner, and then it’s time for bed
    • You will do that 365 days a year until you die
    • Anybody care to volunteer for early duty in the nearest Assisted Living Facility

    This is all happening now, not sometime in the future. Does anyone truly believe that our final years will be better with Nine Billion people on the planet?

    But what about the argument that the population explosion is slowing in rate of increase. In the end who knows whether that will really happen or not. It hasn’t happened yet and the years between now and 2045 offer plenty of opportunities for further blips in fertility- replacement rates. Our sociopathic obsession with sex and bringing into this world more children than most people can either care for or afford seems unending. Certainly the unrelenting corporate baby marketing cartel is always going full steam, and not likely to give in to logic and common sense anytime soon. 

    Lastly, according to National Geographic, in 2030 the largest generation of adolescents in history will then be entering their childbearing years. That is less than 20 years from now. And the NG article adds a sobering conclusion to that undeniable event: IF each woman has only two children, populations will continue to increase under their own momentum for another 25 years.

    That is a very important if. The combination of less than 20 years and the largest generation of adolescents is not likely to bring the desired results, especially if what we are churning out of high schools right now is any indication.

    So, is it all over? What stands between us and nine billion people? Probably nothing! All we can do is hope it will be no more than nine billion and begin the process of planning for such an eventuality that will hopefully be the zenith. But that will only happen if we begin to take measures now that will guarantee that dramatically falling fertility-replacement rates are in place well before 2045.

    One can only imagine what world fertility-replacement rates that are RISING at mid-century would bring with them.

    Environmental degradation, overpopulation, refugees, narcotics, terrorism, world crime movements, and organized crime are worldwide problems that don’t stop at a nation’s borders.

    Warren Christopher

    Remember: A Billion people = 1000 Million people

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    7 Billion:National Geographic:The Numbers

    The January 2011 edition of National Geographic magazine, including the front cover and a good deal of the magazine, was devoted to the total number of people inhabiting the world today.

    The Earth’s population will reach Seven Billion people sometime in 2011.

    Numbers, they can be mind numbing. They oftentimes do the opposite of their intentions, which is to institute a sense of proportion into where we have been, where we are now and where we are going.

    The intent is not to numb the mind, but to stimulate the mind, so we all take the actions required to limit the world’s growth and improve the lives of all those living on the planet.

    Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we posses. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims.

    Martin Luther King, Jr

    The final conclusion must be that we have become very adept at longevity, but not very good at sustainability.

    The numbers listed below are the  numbers given in sequence by Robert Kunzig, the author of the National Geographic article.

    • Global population is projected to reach Nine Billion by 2045. That is 35 years from now
    • 1677: Antoni van Leeuwenhoek: Examines his own semen through a tiny magnifying glass
    • Estimated population in 1677 was 500 Million
    • 1825: Discovery of female egg cells: Population Doubled to One Billion
    • 1930: Two Billion people
    • 2011: Seven Billion people
    • There are people alive today that will see the population of the world Triple
    • 1.8 Billion women today are in their childbearing age
    • Population in 2045: 8 billion to 10.5 billion: best guess – 9 Billion
    • The differences are One Child per woman – plus or minus
    • World population is increasing about 80 Million per year
    • One Billion people go hungry every day
    • Two billion more poor people in the next Three Decades
    • They will use more already depleted resources: How are we going to feed, clothe, educate, employ those people
    • Water tables falling: eroding soil: glaciers melting: fish stocks vanishing
    • Increasing populations will clear forests, burn coal and oil, use fertilizers and pesticides
    • 1789: Thomas Malthus: General Law of Population: Populations necessarily grow faster than the food supply, until war, disease and famine reduce populations
    • But world populations probably have not fallen since the Black Death of the 14th century
    • Instead of declining  in 1789 populations began to dramatically increase
    • New World crops: Corn and Potatoes: Chemical Fertilizers introduced
    • Cities from 1850 onward began to develop sewers and were separated from drinking water, which was filtered and chlorinated
    • Stopped the spread of Cholera and Typhus
    • 1798: Edward Jenner described a vaccine for Smallpox
    • Life Expectancy went from 35 in 1800 to 77 in 2010
    • “The development of medical science was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Biologist Paul Ehrlich in 1968
    • The Population Bomb published in late 1960’s by Paul Ehrlich
    • In the 1970s, Ehrlich predicted, “hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death … and it was too late to do anything about it. The cancer of population growth … must be cut out … by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.”
    • 1960 to 2010: Green Revolution: Grain production doubles: High-yield seeds, irrigation, pesticides, fertilizers:
    • Today: Many people undernourished, but mass starvation is rare
    • Population explosion because people saved from dying: Penicillin, vaccinations, DDT: Ehrlich was right
    • When child mortality declines, couples eventually have fewer children—but that transition usually takes a generation, at the very least
    • Today in developed countries, an average of 2.1 births per woman would maintain a steady population; in the developing world, “replacement fertility” is somewhat higher
    • In the time it takes for declining birth rates to settle into a new balance with increasing longevity, populations explode
    • Demographic Transition: People now have some control over death and birth rates
    • Global population explosion: Side effect of Demographic Transition
    • 1970’s fertility rates were dropping: Population growth has since dropped 40 percent
    • Birth control: From pre-Enlightment “God will decide” to 18th century “withdrawal”/coitus interruptus to 19th century France where fertility rates dropped to 3.0 
    • Except for the “baby boom” after WW II fertility rates in Europe have dropped today to 1.4 – below replacement level
    • Economic windfall: Demographic dividend with a baby boom: more people working than retiring; fuel economy and provide for retirees
    • Economic down side: After “baby boom” and lower fertility rates: fewer people working so less people supporting retirees
    • How to support an aging population: Social Security – Medicare, especially in Europe and U.S.
    • China today a Fifth of world population. Still growing, but below replacement level.  From 6.0 in 1965 to 1.5 in 2010
    • China’s One-child policy mandated in 1979
    • Iran fertility rate dropped by 70% since 1980’s and Brazil, a Catholic and democratic country, has dropped 50%
    • 16% of the world population, mostly in Africa, has high fertility rates
    • Niger is 7.0, others south of the Sahara around 5.0.  But Life Expectancy around 50
    • World will reach replacement fertility by 2030 – populations as a whole are on a path toward non-explosion
    • In 2030 the largest generation of adolescents in history will then be entering their childbearing years
    • If each woman has only two children, population will increase under its own momentum for another 25 years
    • One in Six of them will live in India
    • India: 1966 500 Million people: 2010 over 1.2 Billion
    • India: 1.6 Billion by 2050
    • India will exceed population of China by 2030 and become the world’s largest country
    • If the world’s population were to reach 7.4 Billion in 2050 instead of 8.9 Billion, it would reduce emissions by 15%

    Something to consider: A Billion people = 1000 Million people


    America Breaking Soft

    Overpopulation and privilege in this country has led to an inability to do the tough work and creativity necessary for our economic survival.

    Yes or no? 


    Well emphatically you would say no if you are talking about the troops in Iraq or Afghanistan fighting unpopular wars in places so difficult and fraught with danger that you and I shudder at the thought of being there. How about cancer, ALS, or other victims of such life threatening diseases and conditions struggling everyday just to make sense or completing their daily activities?  Or people barely making minimum wages that clean up our cities, our homes, take care of our privileged children and help with our aged parents and friends. What about the chronically disabled, physically or mentally unable to fend for themselves and everyday a battle to not only understand their predicaments, but be able to somehow find hope in a society that would mostly rather forget they even exist?

    Toughness is certainly not in question there.

    But what about the general population?  

    For example, those of us who have chosen to be lawyers, accountants, financial consultants, customer service workers, sales executives, teachers, technology purveyors, beauracrats – in total the white-collar masses that exchange money, collect/deliver information and shuffle paper from one place to another. Not that these folks don’t fulfill some important functions, but what do they really create, manufacture and make that other people want to not just consume, but to purchase because it has real substance, value, meaning and function in their lives.

    Do any of those people build your house, manufacture your car, build your furniture, make your carpet, manufacture your television, computers, DVDs, cell phones and myriad of other electronic devices?  It is the manufacturing sector that creates, builds and maintains all the things we take for granted, while we are off moving all that money, information and paper around. 

    David Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times:

    Today’s economic problems are structural, not cyclical … We’ve drifted away from the hard-headed practical mentality that built the nation’s wealth in the first place.

    New York Times September 9, 2010

    Where is the real value in this country?

    Many Americans today have totally forgotten or never learned that it was not Wall Street or Goldman Sachs that secured the building of an industrial nation, but the skilled craftsmen that go to work everyday and actually produce something that is tangible. Value that can be touched and felt. Convential wisdom indicates blue-collar workers are expendable – too expensive to maintain – and should be replaced by lower cost workers from other countries, dumbing down valuable trades and lowering living wages for all other skilled craftsmen trying to make a reasonable living and provide for their families. Or even more deplorable, outsourcing jobs to foreign countries with their “sweat shop mentalities” and more profit margins for corporations already top heavy with overpaid executives.

    We often treat trade unions today as economic encumbrances, completely forgetting their crucial influence in overcoming, balancing and controlling the glaring excesses of free market capitalism,with multi-national corporations constantly trying to bleed the last dollar out of American workers.   

    It is inconceivable that we truly believe that the machinist at Boeing, the welder at Ford, the millwright at Alcoa, the pipe-fitter at General Electric or the electrician at Intel has less value or worth than anyone on Wall Street. It isn’t the people on Wall Street doing the real work of this country, but others that produce a tangible product.  We didn’t win WWII through the efforts of paper pushers in Manhattan, but the average Joe/Jane out there creating and making the war materials necessary for our survival.

    How can it be that there are many people in this country, wealthy and apparently arrogant enough, who believe that they are incapable or unwilling to mow their own lawns, prune their gardens, paint their houses, repair what needs to be fixed, prepare their own meals, clean their homes and for god’s sake take care of their own children. Have we come to the point where we have to employ illegal workers from other countries, for incredibly low wages, to do what all of us should be doing ourselves?

    Now there’s an indictment of a culture in serious decline! 

    THE WEEK editor goes on to add to David Brooks’ op-ed:

    Are we still an industrious people? Or have we become too soft to dirty ourselves making and selling things?

    THE WEEK September 24, 2010

    So, what do we actually do in this country anymore?

    Corporate influence peddling and outright propaganda has convinced lawmakers, policy makers and the public that we don’t need the actual makers of useful products, but instead we need to ship (outsource) those jobs overseas to third world countries for substantially lower labor and production costs. If not outsourcing then bring in illegal workers who work for wages no American can live on, creating high unemployment and shoddy goods at cheap prices.

    Great for corporations, not so good for the average worker in this country.

    All the while we go on adding to our overpopulation woes, importing illegal workers, escalating unemployment in traditional blue-collar sectors of the economy while subsidizing an exploding Underground Economy that fuels illegal activities whose members use more taxpayer services, but pay taxes for none of them. All of this is a “fool’s game” if ever there was one, and we all go along with it! 

    Undoubtedly we do need a more educated base in this country, for all of the obvious reasons.

    But what is wrong with college educated machinists, college educated plumbers, college educated electricians or college educated blue collar workers of all persuasions with all the benefits for society and individuals that accrue from more education?  What is wrong with keeping high paying manufacturing jobs in this country? So what if we have to pay a bit more for a purchase if it guarantees everyone a standard of living that is fair and equitable.

    Breaking soft or breaking tough?

    Instead of most of us figuring out the newest application on our smart phones or playing the latest video game on our computers, what is wrong with all of us mowing our own lawns, maintaining our own houses, pruning our gardens, making our own meals, and taking care of our own children? Certainly, if we all chose to do these sometime mundane but necessary tasks we would undoubtedly make our lives simpler with fewer people, and in the end have a stronger, more equitable, fair and just American society.  

    Revisiting the reasons for supporting a strong manufacturing base and the hard working dynamic people that are the heart of that system may not end all our many dilemmas in this country, but it would go a long way in mending the soul of our mental and physical toughness that for many has been squandered and lost.

    And if we can believe David Brooks, whose analysis in his article also quoted another economist concluding that we would now have a 6.5% unemployment rate rather than the 9.5% if we had not moved our manufacturing sector overseas, certainly that alone is a compelling argument for a resurrected manufacturing sector.

    What could possibly be wrong with traveling a proven road? One that certainly has had its share of difficulties and unintended consequences, but in the end could very well return us to a more stable and meaningful economy. An economy that is more independent of foreign influences and entanglements, American based and controlled, and doesn’t add to an already overpopulated citizenry.

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    The Dunbar Number 150

    The way in which our social world is constructed is part and parcel of our biological inheritance. Together with apes and monkeys, we’re members of the primate family – and within the primates there is a general relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the social group. We fit in a pattern. There are social circles beyond it and layers within – but there is a natural grouping of 150.

    This is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust and obligation – there’s some personal history, not just names and faces.

    Robin Dunbar  The Guardian March 10, 2010

    Sebastian Junger in his latest book, War, summarizes the significance of the Dunbar Number:

    • Dunbar compared the brains of primates and contemporary humans and and used that ratio to come up with 150
    • The neocortex is the part of the brain most relevant to increasing and limiting the number of personal relationships
    • Hunter-gatherers lived in informal communities of between 90 to 221 people – Neolithic villages are estimated to be around 150
    • Larger numbers are difficult to control with peer pressure alone
    • Communities of 150 began to find common benefits in social and defensive relationships that began to form tribes and confederacies
    • The idea of “us” and “them” was more pronounced with different languages and cultures evolving

    Violence, War, Cruelty, Suffering: The Mark of Mankind

    Junger goes on to remind us that our evolutionary past suggests up to 15% of all deaths were in violent confrontations with other groups and tribes. To put that in perspective only 2% died from wars and violence in the twentieth century, but of course the overall numbers in the last century is a magnitude beyond any real comprehension, and certainly dwarfs the 15% throughout prehistory.

    Mankind has a great capacity for killing each other and there is absolutely no evidence that it will not continue unabated. Most importantly, we have the means to finally destroy not only ourselves but also the means for the planet to regenerate itself.  In other words we have become so brilliant, we can, if we so choose, make this planet a veritable desert with all life forms ceasing to exist.

    Now that’s a legacy we can all be proud of!

    Overpopulation and The Dunbar Number

    What should be most worrisome for all of us if this Dunbar Number can be believed, and there is no real reason not to at least give it some credibility, is that we are evolutionarily wired to resist large numbers of people around us.  Suspicion, paranoia and fear seem to be a natural phenomenon and reaction when certain numbers are reached. Consequently, we do feel out of control and unable to maintain a spirit of community and companionship when individual relationships, business connections and social networks begin to approach 150 people and larger.

    That could be a reason for our general uneasiness with the size of governments at the federal, state, cities and local levels. How about corporations and large businesses, hospitals, the military and other organizations that have become so immense and cumbersome that we simply don’t trust them to establish a meaningful relationship with us? 

    Instead of us controlling them, they manipulate and control us.

    And of course, if we are feeling uncomfortable living and working with 300 million people in this country, what about a world that approaches seven billion! If 150 is the estimated maximum, the neocortex must be in a constant state of agitation and anxiety just trying to comprehend much less assimilate the sheer volume of those numbers.

    Technology can deceive us into believing we are in communication with the entire country. We watch television, operate our computers, communicate on our cell phones, read our newspapers and magazines and believe we are in touch with the rest of the country and even the world. 

    But for all of that, we actually know very little or nothing about the vast majority of people whom we have any contact with through any of the media or communication networks. And deep down we all know viscerally that our lives are an illusion of connection rather than of any substance.

    In the end we have very little control of our lives where some live in privilege and good fortune while others suffer lives of poverty and want. It is no accident then that jails, prisons, mental institutions are full of those unable to live in a culture cluttered by too many people competing for declining resources, which are being consumed at an ever increasing rate. 

    The Dunbar Number may not totally explain the ramifications of the overpopulation quandry we find ourselves. Nevertheless, it certainly gives us a fascinating insight and clue into the human psychic and evolutionary biology. That puzzle and consequent feelings of alienation and confusion may help explain why more is less and many more will most likely lead us to our ultimate downfall.

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    Education And SEED Schools


    A few miles from the White House in southeast Washington sit some of the worst public schools in America. The students there are mostly poor, mostly black, and their test scores are low. Only one in three finish high school; of those who do go on to college, just five percent graduate.

    60 Minutes: How the Seed School Is Changing Lives: May 23, 2010

    This is certainly a glaring indictment of the wealthiest county in the world, which in its own capital is unable to successfully graduate the vast majority of students in their public school system. Even more disturbing is that apparently until more recently no one seemed to care. A new high profile Chancellor, after three years of hard work and many changes, has been only marginally successful in restructuring a system everyone agrees is in ongoing terminal crisis. 

    But right in the middle of this same area is also one of the most successful and innovative public schools in the country. Started in 1998, the school is called SEED. It’s the nation’s first urban public boarding school. Ninety one percent of the students finish high school, and 95 percent go on to college. It’s a charter school that’s getting national attention.

    60 Minutes: Seed School

    So, right in the middle of one of the worst school districts in the country is one of the best schools in the country. How can that happen? And more importantly, why isn’t it happening all over the country and in every school district?

    Admission is by lottery, open to any family in the district willing to take a chance. This last spring, parents and children showed up for a lottery with a unique prize: a $35,000-per year education paid for by private and government money. Only a third of the over 200 or so kids who applied heard their number called. It all starts on SEED’s campus, a four-acre oasis, a safe zone where 340 kids can focus on school, free from distractions back at home.

    60 Minutes: Seed School

    Some numbers are helpful here. According to a Washington Post series in 2007, which is somewhat dated but still puts much into perspective, the Washington DC School District has 55,000 students, of which they spend somewhere around $13,000 per student, which is the third highest per student in the 100 largest school districts in the country. The total school budget for FY 2009-2010 was $773 million, which included the cost of 11,000 teachers and employees.

    Try getting your brain around those costs and demographics!  It is a logistic nightmare to imagine this school district even runs at all.

    A Few Things Stand Out

    1. It takes a boarding  school (five nights a week) to get results.  In other words home is not a great environment for succeeding in school.
    2. That boarding school environment costs $35,000 per year per student, paid by a combination of PRIVATE and government funds.
    3. There are only 340 students in this walled-off “safe zone”. What’s going on outside the zone?
    4. Only 200 applied for the available openings. What were the other 50,000 children/parents thinking about? It is a lottery.
    5. Multiply 55,000 students by $35,000 plus building infrastructures. Any hope of that happening anytime soon so a majority of the remaining students could be included?

    Overpopulation and Education: A Grim Scenario 

    SEED (Schools for Educational Evolution and Development) is the brainchild of Raj Vinnakota and Eric Adler. The two former businessmen quit their jobs 13 years ago to take an old idea and make it new. “There’s boarding schools for rich kids; why aren’t there boarding schools for poor kids?” Vinnakota said. “The intense academic environment, the 24-hour aspect and constant access to role models. Why wouldn’t all of those things be just as important for poor kids as it would be for rich kids?”  “We believe very strongly that there is a group of kids for whom the answer is a 24-hour supportive educational environment. And they’re not gonna have a shot if we don’t give it to them,” Adler added.

    They (SEED) don’t simply have to raise a kids’ test scores – they have to change their values.

    60 Minutes: SEED School

    • An educational environment, ethical values, committed role models and substantial amounts of money make all the difference in the world of public education
    • Where are parents in this formula – they are purposefully excluded because they are the major cause of student failure
    • The Seed School makes up only one-half of one percent of the school children in Washington DC
    • Kudos to SEED. but what are the chances of adopting this throughout the district, not only for college bound students but for the majority of students seeking technical and trade school curriculums
    • So it is plain to see we are chasing the numbers game again, and the chance for catch-up is depressingly bleak
    • In fact it is time for all child-rearing age people to really rethink whether they have what it takes to be a parent

    Education, particularly for young minority women, is crucial for both birth rates and hence overpopulation to decline. 

    If there is any hope for education, total student numbers must be drastically reduced so programs such as SEED and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education can be more universally adopted. 

    That would mean significant progress is not only a reality for a few, but a realistic scenario for most. 


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