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Earth Government

World Population Grows Beyond 7 Billion 349

Posted by samzenpus
from the bigger-is-nor-better dept.
First time accepted submitter assertation writes in with a LA Times feature about the booming world population and the strain it puts on the environment and governments. "After remaining stable for most of human history, the world's population has exploded over the last two centuries. The boom is not over: The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years. The coming wave will reshape the planet, and the impact will be greatest in the poorest, most unstable countries."
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World Population Grows Beyond 7 Billion

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  • god damn it (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:37PM (#40740497)

    Taco's wife needs to stop having kids.

  • by zerosomething (1353609) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:40PM (#40740537) Homepage
    "Earth is too small a basket for mankind to keep all its eggs in." Robert A. Heinlein
    • B5... ...and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

      • Re:leave! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by magarity (164372) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:52PM (#40740751)

        B5... ...and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

        The problem of course is it's going to be super hard to find funding and staff at the beginning since we know ahead of time what happens to B1-B4.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by Antipater (2053064)

          B5... ...and now we leave the cradle for the last time.

          The problem of course is it's going to be super hard to find funding and staff at the beginning since we know ahead of time what happens to B1-B4.

          Nah, it'll be fine. Remember, a war just ended. Gotta keep those factories in gear or risk recession!

  • Alarmist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:43PM (#40740573) Homepage

    The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years.

    And fertility rates are dropping everywhere, and more people than ever are choosing to simply not have children. Of course by mentioning that, this article wouldn't be nearly as alarmist, so it was conveniently omitted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrcaseyj (902945)

      The population growth rate will explode again as more children are born of high birthrate religious parents and are increasingly high birthrate themselves. This slowing of population growth is only temporary.

    • Re:Alarmist (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brainzach (2032950) on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:18PM (#40741189)

      You are safe from overpopulation in the developed world, but it is still a major problem for the billions in the developing world.

      • Thankfully, they are developing. Time and again, we've seen birth rates level off once countries attain a status closer to developed. With the world as interconnected as it is now, I honestly believe it's an exciting time that will see large changes over the next century throughout the developing world, bringing them quite a few more of the comforts enjoyed in the developed world.

    • by crakbone (860662)
      Your maths a bit skewed. Yes more people than ever are choosing to not have children. Also more people than ever are required to have only one child. But we actually have more people than ever. So the percentage is down while the amount is up. You have better medicine now, more people are living longer in the poorer countries and having more children. Child age groups that used to die are living. Adults age groups that used to die are living longer. Oddly enough the more technology a country gets t
      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        I don't see how you can avoid tangling with the pesky religious issues. Certain religions (names Roman Catholicism) forbid you from using contraception, no ifs and or buts. If people live longer in Catholic countries, the population will skyrocket (and it already is), because they'll still have 6-10 kids per family but they'll live longer, and modern medicine will mean more of them will live to adulthood and have more kids of their own. The only way around this is for those people to abandon Catholicism,

  • The only problem with exploding population is that it's not profitable to move all the food around so some people throw 50% away and some people starve.

    Oh and as for governments, they don't scale. We need to start chopping everything up into smaller bits.

  • 100% serious.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ....that if i had a button which if pressed, would kill every man, woman and child; I would push it without hesitation.

    • by bwintx (813768)
      But only once, obviously. Unless you're one of those computer-using cats I'm always seeing on YouTube.
    • by tgd (2822) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:56PM (#40740817)

      ....that if i had a button which if pressed, would kill every man, woman and child; I would push it without hesitation.

      The problem with that is that you're effectively dooming three billion years of evolution to comparatively short term extinction.

      Humanity may be killing vast percentages of the biome, and may be causing substantial short term damage to the ecosphere, but its also the best opportunity the planet has had, or likely will ever have, to getting off the planet. And life that doesn't get off the planet will end, period. The odds are there won't be a second chance. Could intelligence arise again? Its possible. Its also possible it has arisen before.

      The problem is one of opportunity. Getting life off this rock doesn't take intelligence. It takes intelligence, the right series of events making that kind of capability important to be developed, *AND*, most importantly, it will require some hypothetical future species to have access to vast amounts of energy.

      Guess what, we've used up virtually all of the dense sources of energy that can be recovered without technology. The conditions that led to the development of coal, oil and natural gas involve geological and environmental conditions that in concert won't likely happen again.

      So your short-sighted action would likely save one small potential set of life that otherwise wouldn't have a chance to exist, but would essentially guarantee an end to the entire chain of life in another half billion or billion years.

    • by OrangeTide (124937) on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:27PM (#40741305) Homepage Journal

      If you kill yourself then the effect is the same, from your point of view.

    • What if we gave you a button you thought did this? Would you push it and shut the fuck up?
  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:47PM (#40740657) Journal

    By bringing middle classes to developing nations. People who don't have to have litters to ensure that one child survives have one or two children, below the replacement rate. People who have careers and money to spend and cultural activities to take part in don't spend so much time screwing. And when they do, they realize that having extra children will prevent them from enjoying those luxuries.

    In short, the fight against overpopulation is the same as the fight against global inequality.

    • By bringing middle classes to developing nations.

      That reduces population growth, but causes an explosion of per-capita resource consumption. That's not exactly sustainable either.

    • by vlm (69642)

      People who have careers and money to spend and cultural activities to take part in don't spend so much time screwing.

      Unlikely. "everyone knows" if you get a bachelor pad downtown in the hip urban areas then you'll get laid every night. Supposedly. Also see endless "I can't date until I buy a junker car" and "I can't get laid until I get an apartment and move out of mom's basement" and "rich guys get all the chicks" and "I need to get a job after school to pay for dating if boy and clothes so boys notice me if girl" etc etc.

      Aside from examples and logic, if its anecdote time, it certainly applies to the first half of my

    • Bringing billions of people around the world to the middle class is much more difficult than controlling population growth.

  • TED (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kr1ll1n (579971) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:49PM (#40740683)

    A TED talk on this issue sheds some light into the flawed overpopulation mindset.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies.html [ted.com]

    The presenter does a decent job of showing how religion has very little to do with amount of children per woman. Bear in mind, the overpopulation crowd (primarily left leaning) blame religion (another target of the left leaning in society) for a supposed population problem.

    The issue with blaming religion is brought to light in the TED talk, and also the fallacy of overpopulation theories overall.
    All in all, the video is well worth watching, I must say.

  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:49PM (#40740699)
    and still none for the average /.er. ;-(
  • Nature has a way of equalizing the population to it's confined space. We may not like it, but it will happen one way or the other. I like how the video tries to tell you that the problem is solvable by government action. It isn't by any realistic measure. The more you provide resources to people, the more they will consume, and the worse the problem becomes. Wars, while not ideal, do a fairly good job of removing large numbers of the population quickly, as does desease. However, we like to think that

  • If the present day is the right hand side, things always look more stable in the past. It's always been a J-curve, though.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:52PM (#40740735)
    UN's "medium" estimate is that population will reach about 10 billion and then plateau. Of course, projecting population 90 years in the future is an inexact science at best. On thought on resource consumption: an individual human being's resource consumption is, to a large degree, a factor of his or her standard of living. Consider the per capita resource consumption of developed, western countries vs. sub-Saharan Africa. One could reasonably argue that it will prove impossible to maintain the current global mean standard of living as population increases, ergo environmental stress may not end up increasing linearly with population.
  • Population Cap (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DeeEff (2370332) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:53PM (#40740767)

    Obligatory TED links, that might actually be a bit more insightful than TFA.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies.html [ted.com]
    http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth.html [ted.com]

    While I am skeptical that we'll have enough resources either way, I think that humans are going to have to adapt hard or the entire race will just fade away. This won't necessarily be a problem for a few generations, but there is very little left in this world that is untouched, or that we can leave untouched. Solutions to the energy crisis aside, food and water are still major concerns, and we can't infinitely increase the amount of farming, because we'll also need to increase our living spaces; however, this is unless we go full Tokyo and build above and below ourselves and learn to live in cramped situations. Even still, it will be an incredibly difficult feat to convince most Westerners that they aren't allowed cars anymore and that they need to walk or use trains to go to work. I don't mind myself, since I'm a student who uses trains and busing all the time, but few people want to give up the luxury of driving to work in favour of using a subway system (similar to how most east asian countries operate).

    In the meantime, I'm going to be developing my zombie formula so that I can do my part to end overpopulation. Call me if you can help, I'm trying to put a patent together so I can sue others who want to destroy the Earth while the zombies and lawyers (?difference) take over.

    • "There is very little left in this world that is untouched, or that we can leave untouched"

      I'm not sure how true this is. In terms of natural resources (mines, forestry, oil) things will get tougher. However, there are lots of places with places for people.
      However, most people tend to
      a) Prefer to live in the big, already-crowded cities
      b) Not want to start new towns

      Technology allows us to cultivate land that was previously quite un-usable. The big problem is that we're dirty pests that tend to f*** up said l

    • There is still a *lot* of empty space. Also, if we managed to convert even a fraction of the developing world to the level of output that US farms have, we have plenty of food. Mostly the issue is water and sanitation.

      But even then... the real issue is energy. We can deal with getting water to where it is needed if energy is cheap enough.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Solutions to the energy crisis aside, food and water are still major concerns, and we can't infinitely increase the amount of farming, because we'll also need to increase our living spaces; however, this is unless we go full Tokyo and build above and below ourselves and learn to live in cramped situations.

      Everything comes down to ready supply of cheap energy. If we have that, nothing much matters.

      With cheap energy you can grow food indoors without any farm land. With cheap energy you can build huge skyscrapers where everyone has more living space than they do today. With cheap energy you can dig up all the materials you want, recycle what you can't find, and ship more down from space if you really have to.

      Which is probably why so many on the left hate cheap energy so much.

  • It's not "the Coming Wave," we're right in the midst of it, and have been for some time. It's not in front of us, we're well into it. That's not to say it won't get much, much worse, but it's very important to realize that we have entered the effects of overpopulation.

    Just ask the Atlantic Cod fisheries, the Pacific garbage patch, that dry lake somewhere in the former USSR - heck, there are too many to list.

  • ...off...my....lawn!
  • by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:12PM (#40741103) Journal

    "This natural inequality of the two powers, of population, and of production of the earth, and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal, form the great difficulty that appears to me insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society."

    Thomas Malthus, 18th century.

    People have been saying that the "end is near" since human beings developed speech. None have been right. Ockam's razor and the law of induction tells me they won't be in the future.

    • Agreed. The focus should be on improving quality and expectancy of life, for all people. I don't fear mass extinctions except in a few distinct cases (asteroid strikes, global pandemic, etc). Global warming and climate change may cause a drastic change of life for us all, and it will suck bad, but I don't see extinction level event.

      All that said, yup, there's a lot we can do to improve life for the people who do live here, and we should strive to do so. All of us atheists get it, and most religious f
  • The birthrate will in the long term tend toward one birth per person (or two children per woman given a 50:50 sex ratio). The only question is whether this happens because most children that are born die of famine or violence before they get the opportunity to reproduce or whether it happens by a more benign mechanism.

  • This is not the first time population growth drove change.
    not to many posts but by reading them you might comprehend what is happening, why and where we are heading
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Abstraction-Physics-101/170311386325230 [facebook.com]

  • Random things... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trims (10010) on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:34PM (#40741411) Homepage

    Firstly, TFA is dead wrong in stating that human population has been relatively stable throughout most human history. This is blatantly false, for anyone who has bothered to look at the historical record. In pre-history, human populations have varied wildly, from up to several dozen million to possibly as low as several tens of thousands. Likewise, once "civilization" has started, human populations have obeyed a rather steadily increasing geometric curve. We notice now because we're finally at the heel portion of the hockeystick curve where the numbers start increasing quickly.

    Secondly, the decline in number of children per woman is primarily tied to increasing Woman's Rights in a society. The closer women are treated like property (both culturally and legally), the higher the number of children borne, and the inverse when women and men are treated equally. Women's Rights is also closely correlated (and, likely a causative factor) in development of a significant middle class. Religion only has an impact in so far as it affects Women's Rights (which, it certainly can have a very negative impact).

    Also, there are two major factors that aren't really addressed in TFA: lack of energy, and water. Advanced civilizations require ludicrously larger amounts of power than low-tech societies, and, even with conservation, this isn't going to change. We need power to run our 1st world countries, and the more everyone else tries to emulate us, power requirements will be exponential (probably high exponential) in growth. Until we have real clean energy, this energy demand and the side effects of providing energy is going to be the number one environmental pressure. On the other hand, (decreasing) access to clean water for both drinking and agriculture is something that is radically reshaping societies, as we can't really de-salinize enough to make a difference at this point, and we're well on our way to draining many historical water sources out of existence. Water will be the new oil which people fight over, likely very, very soon. It's already a major friction point in the Middle East and Indian subcontinental areas.

    To quote the old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."

  • Mission accomplished breeders. Enough already.

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