Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tackling the Core Problem of the Planet & Biosphere

As I 've noted in many previous blogs, e.g.


human population growth is unsustainable and is clearly the core problem facing this planet: the more people the more the drain on limited resources and greater likelihood of conflicts, the more the drain on energy capacity, and the greater the CO2 produced-  which directly fuels global warming. In other words, you attack the problem at its core and you can reduce all the other problems that beset us.

According to the site Global Footpoint Network:


We currently need 1 ½  Earths to regenerate the resources the current lot of humanity consumes in one year. Since this population burden has already increased by 1 billion in just 12 years,  it stands to reason that we either have to: a) find at least one more 'Earth' (or Earthlike planet) to live on, or (b) cut our rate of increase to the bone. Even if the population remained constant at 7.3 billion we're going to be in serious trouble as global warming continues to ramp up and wield extended droughts like in the American West, or drenching crop killing rains -storms elsewhere.

Because humanity has played the ass too long, most of the remaining solutions for population control must be draconian if any life quality is to be possible. China has solved this in its own way, recognizing from 30 years ago it would never be a major player economically on the world stage unless it gots its numbers under control. Hence it instituted its "one child only" policy, which has been a success at least in containing its numbers which otherwise would have surpassed 2.7 billion - leaving it still a peasant nation as it was in Mao Tse-Tung's reign.

One can, of course, quarrel with the morality of the Chinese solution (and we in the West and especially 'Muricans, love to cast stones while not minding our own moral house), but at the end of the day it worked - and we see China now a creditor to the U.S. of A.'s military and tax cut spendthrifts, even as the Chinese rise to super power status.

The inherent problem with the Chinese one child rule is not in the policy per se but in its contradictions. For example, typically couples that violate the policy must cough up a hefty fine but the fines vary from place to place ('The Economist', June 23, p. 49) As The Economist article notes:

" A husband and wife in Shanghai will each pay 110,000 yuan ($17,300) three times the city's average annual post tax income, for a second child. The rich can shell out millions."

In effect, the Chinese one child standards for sanctions can be relatively easy for a rich couple, but brutal for an ordinary couple say in Shanghai or Beijing. Ideally, there ought to be a single and uniform one child policy for all.  Those who flout it are strerilized and the additional child (when of age) is sterilized. There can't be any special appeals, or dispensations. Once people are aware of this, and since there won't be any latitude for gamesmanship, they will shape up. Granted these solutions sound brutal, but the planet is entering brutal times because of  humans recklessly exceeding its population carrying capacity by at least 1.5 times. And the Chinese are merely the main nation trying to do something about it, the U.S. - equally at risk, is not. India had tried, but political pressure forced the old Gandhi gov't to give up its forced sterilization policy.

The pervasive squeamishness of most nations to act boldly on their population problems was first articulated by physicist Albert Bartlett, both in a Physics Today article from July, 2004 ('Thoughts on Long-Term Energy Supplies: Scientists and the Silent Lie’, p. 53  ) and in a book, 'The Essential Exponential: For the Future of Our Planet' (2004), Chapter 3, 'On Population'.. In the former Bartlett wrote, in respect of fellow scientists' chronic failure to name human population growth as a major cause of our energy and resource problems:

"their (scientists’) general reticence stems from the fact that it is politically incorrect or unpopular to argue for stabilization of population – at least in the U.S. Or perhaps scientists are uncomfortable stepping outside their specialized areas of expertise”.

Whatever the reason, Bartlett argues it is equivalent to perpetuating a “silent lie”, a term derived from a Mark Twain quote:

Almost all lies are acts, and speech has no part in them…I am speaking of the lie of silent assertion: we can tell it without saying a word.”

Now, while the Chinese solution to over population is an extreme draconian example, there are increasing efforts to "nibble" away at the core problem. One of the recent ones entailed a major Boulder, CO company donating 500,000 condoms to Haiti in a first effort to assist it to stem its over-abundant humanity. (And let's realize that all the care donations and packages in the world won't help unless the Haitians help themselves and cut their numbers). See, e.g. Boulder firm giving condoms to Haitians.”   

As one Denver Post letter writer put it after applauding Sir Richard's move:

"Am I the only one who has noticed that every time there's  a disaster in a Third World country everyone has at least six or seven kids?.....Wouldn't they be better off with 3 or 4? We can't feed every hungry child in the world and we certainly can't bring them all to the U.S.

Family planning is the answer..we need it there, we need it here, we need it now."

Indeed. But we must be aware of the reactionary forces that dislike the idea, never mind the increased misery and suffering inflicted. (And that suffering will multiply horrendously as more austerity measures are imposed in the West, including the U.S., and giving hits the wall of fatigue and collapses). Even if a person has some disdain for family planning, he or she ought to realize its economic impact: the more people generated ....wherever....the greater the difficulty in obtaining employment...anywhere. As I noted previously, nearly all the U.S. unemployment problem currently is due to population expansion. That's why 140,000 a month of new workers is always written off as merely meeting the "population replacement" level. (E.g. 140,000 is the number of new workers entering the labor force each month).

That number over one year yields 1, 680,000 jobs. Over ten years it amounts to 16, 800,000 or accounting for nearly all the current unemployed. As long as we keep making babies at the rate we are, we will never catch up in terms of employment. Add to that the jobs sent overseas and you have a situation that's even worse. (Which is why the "real" unemployment rate is usually cited as 40-70% higher, see e.g. 'The Judas Economy: The Triumph of Capital and the Betrayal of Work')

If our nation is to improve and its life quality enhanced for all, people need to wake up and recognize where the actual problems inhere. And if I am correct about the central cause, nothing any politician does - whether Romney, Obama or whoever...will work unless population control is first addressed.

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