I’ve thought about this before and I think others have brought it up in various ways, but here goes:
I do not believe in the whole overpopulation myth or the belief that humans are parasites on this Earth and that we must work to reduce our numbers, etc.
But what would you say to this argument:
The Earth is limited. There is only so much room and resources, etc. Even if it would take 50 billion or 500 billion people or whatever to exhaust the resources, at some point, they would be exhausted. Therefore, at some point we would be required to limit the number of children we are having, and having more people would be unsustainable.
Regarding there only being so much room, everyone in the world could fit into Texas (and comfortably).
Regarding resources- well it depends on the resource. If you’re talking about food, it’s all about how it’s distributed. There is enough food for everyone. Check out overpopulationisamyth.com- there is a lot of good information with sources.
In developed countries right now, there is a big problem with the replacement rate. In these countries people are already limiting having children so much that they are in danger of dying out eventually.
Natural populations are self-limiting in size, because as they approcach the limiting capacity, there is increasing pressure against reproduction (less food available, more violence due to crowding, etc.)
For human beings, there are other factors:
–increased movement of women into the professional world rather than traditional “family” role
–increased use of the younger years for education, professional development and the “yuppie” life (and searching for the “perfect relationship”) resulting in fewer children
–increased financial burden to raise each child
The result is that without any deliberate population-control measures, the population will hit an inflection point and then flatten out. It’s happening in the western countries and in Japan, and as the nations of mainland Asia become more prosperous, it will happen there, too.
Worry about over population when we fill up Wyoming. I think they still have more cows than people there. Not to mention, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, the Eastern Plains of Colorado. There is plenty of room and resources for everyone.
The over population arguement is a prgressive cover for promoting abortion, culling, and limits on children. It is used against industrialized countries, and it’s silly.
Also God gave us an infinite capability to improve ourselves and our surroundings, and to create better more efficent ways of doing things.
It used to take an entire family all day to care for enough crops and livestock to sustain themselves. Now we have farms that can produce food for millions more effieciently and faster. I am confident that God has given us the tools to conquer any challenge if we apply them.
This is a tough one to counter! However, it doesn’t take into account technological advances, with can reduce the amount of resources required to live, increase the amount of resources we have, or change the resources we use entirely. Genius inventors, engineers, and scientists are the ones that can make these changes. The more people that are born, the greater the chance a genius will be created and invent something great.
Also, there are 8 billion people in the world now. What if the limit is 20 billion? What if it is 500 billion? By the time we reach 500 billion people, we could be colonizing other planets. It would take a long, long time, and a lot could change by then.
Also, populations don’t always grow at the same rate. In the animal kingdom, once a species reaches a certain population density, the growth of population tapers off. This can happen (and is happening) in many ways. This last point can be discussed a lot, and might require a whole different thread! (for example, as women become more educated, they have less children on average (for better or worse), also as food becomes more scarce, less people can live, meaning we don’t have to manage our own population because it will manage itself (for better or worse) among other things!) This last point doesn’t seem to desireable…but the catch is we don’t know the population limit, or if there is one. Artificially limiting human population growth before we hit our true population potential could handicap the human race, in effect.
I wouldn’t say overpopulation is a myth, but it’s not generally happening right now. I think it depends more upon where you are than the whole planet and all of its resources. Assuming a plane crashes on an island that can support 5 people, and 40 people survive, that island would be overpopulated. There are still many resources on this Earth, I would think enough so that we could support everyone currently if such was needed. This might change if we, say, create a nuclear wasteland making 90% of our resources not usable.
If your population reaches a point where resources are exhausted faster than they’re renewed then you need to cut back on population, or nature will take of it for you.
There definitely is a limit, assuming human life remains uniplanetary.
The Earth has a finite mass, and only a very small part of that mass is available to biological life, and only a very small fraction of THAT can be converted into human bodies. Also, only a small proportion of its energy flow can be channeled into that conversion.
Now, if human life gets serious about space expansion, all bets MIGHT be off. But it might still prove impossible for the human body to live full-time in space, in which case, we would face a final limit in numbers, though it might not be discovered for centuries.
There are two major arguments:
(1) The sustainability of the Earth is not static. With more people, there’s more innovation. With more innovation, we find ways of better utilizing available resources. We possess, today, the ability to feed more people than at any point in human history, a number of people literally thought impossible even fifty years ago.
(2) As others have said, intelligent populations are self-limiting. If you don’t have enough food to feed a wife and kid, you’re less likely to go out and get married or procreate. That’s why many of the population bomb theorists have been (a) scientists who studied unintelligent creatures, and/or (b) racists who thought Third Worlders were unintelligent creatures. Paul Ehrlich, for example, is both.
(3) Earth’s sustainability is only one piece in the puzzle. By the time there are enough people to genuinely overpopulate the planet (assuming that (2) doesn’t make that point in time ‘never’), we may well be able to grow food on the moon or other planets. Once you start computing this into the equation, you see how absurd the overpop. debate is.
(4) Even if all of the above were wrong, and humanity really did get so populous that we could no longer feed ourselves, the sort of population control we’re talking about would still be immoral. Humans have intrinsic dignity.
I forgot to mention what I think might be the best counter to the hypothesis of over-population: it doesn’t matter.
The purpose of life is not to have enough resources to be comfortable and prosperous (however desirable that may be)…it is to glorify God and get to heaven. The more people born, the more souls end up in heaven. The worse life gets for humans, the more opportunity there is to show love and charity!
The “world is over crowded” argument is garbage. Total rubbish, and among the most absurd arguments out there. So foolish, that few people even try anymore.
If we took the entire population of the world, pushed them into the state of Texas, everyone could live comfortably. It would be about as dense as the city of London. People complain about famine, but that’s because most countries that have famine have their food industry controlled by the goverment. That’s the problem.
There are huge amounts of children born in the world every day-they’re a blessing. They could cure cancer, paint beautiful paintings, write amazing plays, or just be really nice people to hang around with. (I’m a bachelor with no children, by the way)
Human population is directly linked to availability of resources in our environment. The are examples of this all over the planet. For example, in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where several paleolithic tribes still exist, have relatively small populations after tens of thousands of years of occupation. Other areas, such as various southeast Asian countries, have cities along the ocean that are extremely populated, and dependent on resources from elsewhere. These cities would simply collapse if the resources weren’t available.
The availability of resources includes many factors, including the cost to obtain them and the net energy obtaining from the resource. These extremely important points are typically ignored and/or misunderstood; the rules of thermodynamics apply, whether we like them to or not.
Current total world population levels are only possible through the discovery of cheaply obtainable fossil fuel sources. As they get more expensive, or scarcer, population levels will adjust accordingly.