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Thread: Over population derail from "Humans as non-animals"

  1. Top | #21
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    The problems of overpopulation are not hypothetical: We can see them now.. Precious resources are being depleted: groundwater, phosphates and petroleum are among the most obvious examples. About fifty species of life already go extinct every week during this Great Man-made Extinction and this number is increasing. Even without extinctions, there are profound changes to the ecology: I've already mentioned the widespread replacement of fish with jellyfish.
    Nobody has ever denied that over-exploitation of natural resources is a problem.
    I have, and do.
    The accusation is that the true perpetrators of the crimes are using "overpopulation" as a smoke-screen. It blames the urban poor of third-world nations (who don't actually benefit much from the destruction of wide swaths of the environment in search of oil) for the decisions made by global elites for their own selfish reasons. We aren't obliged to destroy our planet because that's the only way to feed all the people on it, we choose to destroy the planet because doing do is profitable in the short term. The populations that make those decisions aren't the same ones whose family size is growing at present. Those who personally consume the most resources are, in fact, the least likely to have large families. It is a fact well-established that wealth and family size are negatively correlated, and vice versa. So killing or sterilizing a bunch of disadvantaged people is not going to do anything to solve the ecological crisis. They are the excuse for, not the cause of, ecological destruction.
    This is true too. If resource use is your concern, you need to get rid of a few hundred billionaires, not a few billion poor people.

  2. Top | #22
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    It's true that rich countries and rich people use more resources than poor countries and poor people, but isn't it an implicit goal to increase general prosperity? Ten billion people living the good life will consume a lot more resources than ten billion people most of whom lack access to plentiful meat, electric conveniences and high-speed transport.

    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Nothing is being depleted, except biodiversity; And biodiversity depletion is not due to sheer numbers of humans - we did more of it when there were fewer of us.
    I realize that humans have been making big changes to the ecology for thousands of years. But I'll need a cite for "more of it." Whether measured by acreage of land transformed by man or number of species driven extinct, man's negative influence on ecology is bigger than ever now, and getting worse.

    Anyway, I'd still like the proponents of overpopulation to answer my Hypothetical Question: If the choice is between a world of 10 billion happy humans and a world with 5 billion happy humans, is it fair to say the former has a humanity that's twice as happy?

  3. Top | #23
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    It's true that rich countries and rich people use more resources than poor countries and poor people, but isn't it an implicit goal to increase general prosperity? Ten billion people living the good life will consume a lot more resources than ten billion people most of whom lack access to plentiful meat, electric conveniences and high-speed transport.

    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Nothing is being depleted, except biodiversity; And biodiversity depletion is not due to sheer numbers of humans - we did more of it when there were fewer of us.
    I realize that humans have been making big changes to the ecology for thousands of years. But I'll need a cite for "more of it." Whether measured by acreage of land transformed by man or number of species driven extinct, man's negative influence on ecology is bigger than ever now, and getting worse.

    Anyway, I'd still like the proponents of overpopulation to answer my Hypothetical Question: If the choice is between a world of 10 billion happy humans and a world with 5 billion happy humans, is it fair to say the former has a humanity that's twice as happy?
    All else being equal, no.

    But all else isn't equal. How was the choice enforced? Who made it? Five billion people who wanted big families but were unable to have them because the government added contraceptives to the water supply are probably not happy. Nor are ten billion people who wanted small families, but were denied contraception by the government.

    Right now, with little coercion, population is settling at around ten billion. Any intervention to reduce (or indeed, increase) that number is unlikely to be 'happiness neutral'. On the whole, individual freedom seems to be one of the things people require in order to be happy. But of course, one person's freedom may impact on another. A man whose wife wants fewer children than he does may be unhappy that she has access to contraception without his input; But as she has to do the actual child-bearing, with all the pain and risk that entails, I am inclined to value her happiness on this subject over his.

    Regardless, the only way to obtain a population around five billion without massive genocide or coercion would be to hop in your DeLorean, and invent the contraceptive pill some time in the late 19th or early 20th century. Inventing it in the 1960s inevitably created a fairly inflexible ten billion peak about 80-100 years later. And it is pretty inflexible; Not many other things in history have had significant long term impacts on population. Wars, famines, pandemics, genocides - all caused visible blips in the curve, but none had much impact in the long term, until women were given the ability to choose how large their families would be. People have generally responded to low life expectancy by having an over-compensating number of children. They respond to high life expectancy, low infant mortality (which is the flip side of that coin), wealth, education, and access to effective contraception that is controlled by those who actually get pregnant, by having fewer than replacement levels of children. No coercion necessary.

  4. Top | #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    I realize that humans have been making big changes to the ecology for thousands of years. But I'll need a cite for "more of it." Whether measured by acreage of land transformed by man or number of species driven extinct, man's negative influence on ecology is bigger than ever now, and getting worse.
    Don't have a cite but my best guess would be loss of habitat. Human animals, as their population expands, destroy the habitats of other organisms. Some species can coexist, some even experience population increases and are better off, but generally the cost of loss of habitat is loss of species.

  5. Top | #25
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    I realize that humans have been making big changes to the ecology for thousands of years. But I'll need a cite for "more of it." Whether measured by acreage of land transformed by man or number of species driven extinct, man's negative influence on ecology is bigger than ever now, and getting worse.
    Don't have a cite but my best guess would be loss of habitat. Human animals, as their population expands, destroy the habitats of other organisms. Some species can coexist, some even experience population increases and are better off, but generally the cost of loss of habitat is loss of species.
    No.

    Human animals, as their range expands, do this.

    It mostly happened back in the distant past, when total population of humans was minuscule compared to today.

    Adding another million people to Shanghai or Mumbai makes very little difference. Adding a billionaire to California makes more, but not much more. A handful of people crossing the Timor Sea with their dogs 40,000 years ago wiped out vast numbers of species. The same happened in the Americas a few thousand years later.

    Human impact on our environment has very little to do with raw population numbers.

  6. Top | #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    I realize that humans have been making big changes to the ecology for thousands of years. But I'll need a cite for "more of it." Whether measured by acreage of land transformed by man or number of species driven extinct, man's negative influence on ecology is bigger than ever now, and getting worse.
    Don't have a cite but my best guess would be loss of habitat. Human animals, as their population expands, destroy the habitats of other organisms. Some species can coexist, some even experience population increases and are better off, but generally the cost of loss of habitat is loss of species.
    No.

    Human animals, as their range expands, do this.

    It mostly happened back in the distant past, when total population of humans was minuscule compared to today.

    Adding another million people to Shanghai or Mumbai makes very little difference. Adding a billionaire to California makes more, but not much more. A handful of people crossing the Timor Sea with their dogs 40,000 years ago wiped out vast numbers of species. The same happened in the Americas a few thousand years later.

    Human impact on our environment has very little to do with raw population numbers.
    Just have to disagree with you there, I think. Lots of contradictory claims in that short post. Can you find anything that supports your position, a credible source? I'd love to read an argument that agrees with you based on numbers and documentation but I don't think it's out there. Plus it only makes common sense that as people build homes and strip malls they destroy habitat for other organisms. You're peddling a weak argument but if you have documentation that supports it I'd be curious to see it.

  7. Top | #27
    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    ^ ^ ^

    Forested area in the U.S. reached its lowest area (~735 million acres) in about 1920 when the U.S. population was ~106 million. In 2000 the U.S. population was ~282 million (close to three times the 1920 population) and forested area had increased to ~749 million acres.
    https://www.thoughtco.com/us-forest-...llion%20acres.

    But I think Bilby was probably referring to the extinction of the mega-fauna around the world as small bands of hunter-gatherers would move into an area.

  8. Top | #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    Nobody has a plan to sharply reduce human population in the short term, so the following comments are purely hypothetical — a thought experiment.

    Question: If the choice is between a world of 10 billion happy humans and a world with 5 billion happy humans, is it fair to say the former has a humanity that's twice as happy? This is a philosophical question with, perhaps, no easy answer. I would answer No, but perhaps many would say Yes. The Yes-sayers may stop reading after the next paragraph; my comments aren't addressed at them.

    A world with fewer happy humans will have more happy squirrels, happy dolphins, happy birds, happy insects and happy fish but some will find this suggestion silly. However, many would agree that humans would be happier in a world where other creatures thrive. Why do some promote a 10-gigahuman world? In what sense is it better than a 5-gigahuman world? Or is it just about accepting the inevitable: There will be a high population so let's hope it's for the best.

    Some say that with ten billion instead of five billion, we'll have twice as many geniuses like Mozart and twice as many like Archimedes. This fails the sniff test! There were less than a billion humans alive in Mozart's time, and perhaps just 100 million in Archimedes' time. Yet both these great geniuses are still spoken of in superlative terms.

    The problems of overpopulation are not hypothetical: We can see them now.. Precious resources are being depleted: groundwater, phosphates and petroleum are among the most obvious examples. About fifty species of life already go extinct every week during this Great Man-made Extinction and this number is increasing. Even without extinctions, there are profound changes to the ecology: I've already mentioned the widespread replacement of fish with jellyfish.

    I'm sure that the supporters of overpopulation have glib answers to these concerns. Fusion power will provide the huge energy needed to replenish phosphates and groundwater. Extinctions are not a concern: only H. sapiens matters. And clever chefs will find ways to prepare varieties of jellyfish as delicious as fish. I find these answers overly glib. Groundwater depletion is already a serious concern in many parts of the world; a huge portion of arable land is already dedicated to humans and their food; pollution of various sorts is already a big problem. And extinctions are irreversible.


    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Overpopulation is a stupid idea. It was a reasonable fear in the mid to late twentieth century, but it's long since been resolved.

    There are no resource issues we cannot solve that would prevent us sustaining the ~10 billion humans that represent our likely peak population. Of course, we might not be smart enough to actually implement those solutions - look at the reluctance we have to completely replace the burning of fossil fuels with nuclear fission - but the problems are political and ideological, they're not resource, technology, or population driven.

    Population is just people. "Overpopulation" is a fundamentally anti-human concept, and belongs in the same ideological dustbin as other anti-humanitarian ideas such as apartheid, slavery, and fascism.
    You acknowledge that 30 billion would be too much; that leaves me confused about your strong support for 10 billion. Especially since you admit that there may be obstacles to the dramatic changes needed to sustain such a population. Are you especially fond of jellyfish as a food? :-)
    Our unrestrained economic and population growth will eventually collapse.

    We are seeing indication with COVID. COVID is relatively harmless, but we see what happens when w crowd 9n cities like LA and NYC. Another pathogen could decimate population.

    Something has to give. The economy as is does not really support a large part of the population. Mny live paycheck to paycheck. Any interruption in the system and people go hungry and homeless.

  9. Top | #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by skepticalbip View Post
    ^ ^ ^

    Forested area in the U.S. reached its lowest area (~735 million acres) in about 1920 when the U.S. population was ~106 million. In 2000 the U.S. population was ~282 million (close to three times the 1920 population) and forested area had increased to ~749 million acres.
    https://www.thoughtco.com/us-forest-...llion%20acres.

    But I think Bilby was probably referring to the extinction of the mega-fauna around the world as small bands of hunter-gatherers would move into an area.
    And in that same period bird populations dropped by 3 billion, just as an example. Why didn't they increase if forested areas increased?

    Just because forested areas increased does not automatically mean that species were benefitted. It is the quality of those forested regions and other regions that matters. Lots of those forested areas are not native forest which support native populations of biomass. For example we planted lots of ginko trees by the millions and they support zilch in terms of insects that feed birds and other wildlife. And there are hundreds of these invasives.

    We literally planted exotic species precisely because native bugs and critters would avoid them. Seems kinda stupid but that's what we did.

  10. Top | #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Our unrestrained economic and population growth will eventually collapse.

    We are seeing indication with COVID. COVID is relatively harmless, but we see what happens when w crowd 9n cities like LA and NYC. Another pathogen could decimate population.

    Something has to give. The economy as is does not really support a large part of the population. Mny live paycheck to paycheck. Any interruption in the system and people go hungry and homeless.
    What happens when an animal loses all of its food and habitat? What happens to an animal population when it loses 95 percent of its food and habitat? The Ivory Bill is extinct because we cut down all the trees that it required for survival and cleared the land that provided it with the grubs and larvae that was its food supply. The Pileated Woodpecker, on the other hand, because its diet was largely carpenter ants survived.

    What happens if Homo bilbyens loses 95 percent of its house and 95 percent of its food supply? What happens to Homo bilbyens if we give it plenty of food in the form of hay and grasshoppers instead of its preferred diet? We just let other species use his food and habitat and expect him to thrive on 100 calories a day and live in a 20 square foot house? And btw, we also get rid of 95% of his roads and reduce his energy demands by 95% so he has to get by with 5% of what he used to, and fill his water supply with bird and buffalo droppings. And we also scatter those meager resources out into little patches everywhere.

    According to Homo bilbyens there isn't any problem. Of course, Homo bilbyens isn't on the short end of that stick so it doesn't matter that that is precisely what Homo bilbyens has done to most of the other species on the planet.

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