Friday, December 20, 2013

How is the environment affected by population growth?

A question presented on is: How is the environment affected by population growth? 

Let's take an absolute basic easy-to-see example. More people create more trash and waste. This is undeniable. Take a look at this picture: 

This was trash left behind by tailgaters at a Kenny Chesney concert in Pittsburgh, PA. Apparently, some of the tailgaters didn't even have tickets to the show, they just showed up and trashed the place. 

Before any of the arguments come out about how there were some bad apples spoiling the barrel, or that it doesn't matter how many people would have been there if they had just acted better, before any of that comes to your lips to say to me, let's stop to think, shall we? Yes, of course, we could act like responsible respectful humans and this wouldn't happen. The fact is, we DON'T, and it does happen. So that's off my table right there. 

Instead, let's focus on pure numbers. There were easily 50,000 people at this event. So even if every one of them left just one piece of trash behind, well then right there that is 50,000 pieces of trash. If there had only been 10,000 people there, and each of them left 1 piece of trash, there would be 10,000 pieces of trash there. So, here we see that the increased population had a bigger effect on the environment of that parking lot; they left more trash behind than a smaller number would have. 

We can extrapolate,m then, that 7 billion people WILL leave more waste behind than will, say, 5 billion. Or 3 billion, as it was back in the 1950s. That's just pure sense and common logic. 7 billion people WILL use more fresh water than 3 billion, will consume more food than 3 billion, will leave more sewage than 3 billion. This is math. This is fact. This is truth. Reality.

The real question should be, How is environment NOT affected by population growth. 

It is affected. Period. It can be said over and over that it doesn't have to be that way, that we can be better, that with the right education and caring, we don't have to put such a strain on the environment and we can be as high in population as we wish.

The thing is, that isn't reality. That isn't how we are living and it's not even the way the tide is turning at present. The truth, now and for the foreseeable future, is this: 

This is what 7 billion people looks like. 8 billion will just look worse. Let's fix the problem BEFORE it's an even bigger mess to clean. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

If you can't do something right, don't do it.

That seems to make sense, right? There's the whole idea of trying something and not being too good at it at first but then keep on at it and get better. Of course there's that. However THAT does NOT apply when speaking of population.

According to a recent article in Mother Jones, "As many as one in six children nationwide has a neurodevelopmental disability, including autism, speech and language delays, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." ( ONE in SIX. 1 in 6. We see that this is happening. We know it is happening. Well, I shouldn't actually jump to conclusions. We SHOULD know it's happening.

"Schools and day-cares are typically built on the cheapest land, often next to highways. That's where developing lungs are, and susceptible kids."

With awareness building, we will surely get a handle on it and get better. We don't know how long that is going to take. Also, the 1 in 6... what of them? Until we do get a handle on it, isn't the more responsible, logical thing to do is to, oh, I don't know, maybe not have as many children? Think for a little? Not risk it? "It won't happen to MY baby." The mathematical odds are actually against us. But because the issue of children is an emotional one, that doesn't seem to matter. No one is supposed to tell anyone else that maybe it's a good idea to stop at one. That could be seen as impinging on someone's rights. No one has to come up with a good reason to HAVE a child. They just have them. 

I do not want it to, but I fear things are going to get much worse before they get much better. The BPA that we didn't catch for awhile... the carcinogens that are here... the mercury, the oil spills, the pesticides, the antibiotics... these things are here and have gone on unchecked for a long time. We could stop polluting today (well, we could but we won't, so... there's that...) and STILL have these environmental issues for decades. 

Here's the thing: Mother Nature always wins. Always. If we don't find a way to stop torturing her and stop ignoring her and get back into living in harmony with her, she'll go ahead and deal with us herself. It could be what is already happening. 

I hope I am wrong. I suspect I am not. We have a choice: we can cool it and save some huge amounts of suffering, focus on quality not quantity, or we can go on unchecked until we ALL have to suffer. I made my choice. Link About Population Deniers

This little blurb really summed it up for me, so I thought I would include the whole thing. I hope they don't mind, I put their link down there for them and everything. I really like their questions at the end, and I think I would like to expound on them in a few more posts. I reiterate, I'm not an expert, I have no PhD, hell I don't even have a BA and most people will try to say I am full of BS. I don't care. These are my observations, and I think just getting the conversation going is the most important thing. Think I'm wrong? Great! Let's debate. I'm warning you, you WILL need to arm yourself with logic instead of religion and emotion. Think I'm onto something? Great! Help spread the word!

As for the questions these cool people set forth... I'm on it. I don't know everything about, but they seem pretty cool at a glance. I may have to chat with them at some point.

Oh Interweb, you are so fascinating. It was nice to find good stuff for a change. Oh - I'm also going with the term "Population Deniers." That's a good one. 

Population Deniers Pose an ecological Threat

Seeking Fair and Equitable Steps to a Sustainable Population
Population Deniers Pose an ecological Threat
 Every day, global population grows by around 228,000. The United Nations’ mid-range projection is for human population to reach 9.3 billion by the year 2050.  And yet, articles have been appearing in major publications that suggest with alarm the world’s population is in decline, citing a “low fertility crisis.” But the world’s population isn’t in decline, and isn’t projected to be, any time soon.
This recent wave of population denial seems to be coming from those who stand to profit more immediately from a large population, and those economists who see the economic benefit to increased consumption without taking into account the ecological impact. But the scientific community has stated in clear and unambiguous terms: if human civilization intends to seriously address its environmental problems, both rapid human population growth—and the unsustainable consumption that goes along with it—need to slow down.
There are fair and equitable approaches we can take worldwide that would make a difference in balancing population growth and the health of the planet. Last June the Global Network of Science Academies issued a statement on population and consumption which noted that national and international policy should “encourage development strategies that help to reduce population growth. Programs that promote education, in particular of women and girls, should be central to those strategies.”
How is the environment affected by population growth? Who benefits from denial of the scientific evidence of unsustainable population growth? Is slowing the growth of human population enough or do we need to reverse it? How is education and empowerment for women and girls crucial to slowing the growth of the world’s population? What practical and equitable steps can be taken now?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How About Some Logic?

Population certainly is a fascinating topic to research. The camps are very clearly divided, and the yawning chasm between them seems unbridgeable.

One of the things I hear the most from those who pooh-pooh at the thought that we need to slow down the growth is that there's plenty of room. "We can fit the whole world's population in a space the size of Texas!" "There's TONS of room, we haven't come close to running out of space!"

I get what they are saying. There are lots of open spaces around me where I live. I've lived in jammed big cities, and I've lived in rural areas where you can go a day without seeing a person. Their argument does not hold for me. Let's think about it, let's apply some LOGIC to it....

Let's all imagine a group of people in a high school gymnasium. It is furnished and they have open access to the bathrooms, of course, and they have their meals there and watch TV there and get on their computers, etc. It's pretty much their whole world, they don't need to leave very often. Most everything they need is in there. Their water source is in there and it is plentiful for their needs - showering, flushing, washing clothes etc. There are four of them. They have lots of room, and they pick up after themselves, so it stays pretty clean. They live this way for, say, a month. Then, their numbers double. Suddenly, there are 8 of them. No big deal, it's still a pretty big space. But their numbers are going to double every month. 16 of them aren't so bad, and even at 32, people have room. By 64, it's getting a little crowded. The bathrooms are not as neat as they once were, because many more people are using them. Food is going more quickly. Hot water does not last as long, and it's getting harder to get a good shower in. Their allotted amount of water isn't going as far as it used to, and what there is, is getting a little gross. Not everyone can agree on what to watch on TV, either. There's a lot more trash around and less space to put it. By Month 6, it's 128 people. That's becoming quite crowded, uncomfortable, smelly, *inconvenient.* Imagine the numbers in a year.

Yeah, I based that all the way down to the most simplistic of examples. These people were in a finite system. Then again, so are we. Earth is a finite system, just a really really big one. There cannot be infinite growth in a finite system.

So when people say we have plenty of room, they are not taking into account areas that cannot support human life. They aren't taking into account the extremely tiny amount of fresh potable water available (which gets smaller all the time thanks to all the polluting practice more and more people have.). In fact,m there are SO many things that are not taken into account that it is hard for me to find a logical standpoint with which to debate. I can't debate with logic where logic refuses to exist.

Is it me?

No, I am not an expert here. I'm merely an observer. Sittin' here. Observing.

Monday, December 16, 2013

An Old Argument

"They" say this whole population thing is an old argument. "They" say we just keep bringing it up. I've come to the forefront of the climate reality, and while many talk about fossil fuels and overconsumption, I say we MUST rein in population. 7 billion is way too many, and we aren't stopping any time soon. I am not alone in this line of thinking. 

I found this from my good friend in Australia on that "green Marxist" site:
Population control is an old argument tacked onto a new issue
Climate change is just the latest in a long list of issues that has been seized on by advocates of population control.
For centuries, simplistic population theories have been advanced to explain the existence of poverty, hunger, famine, disease, war, racism and unemployment.
In each case, the real social and economic causes of these social ills have been glossed over. Time is running out to avert global warming – we need to take serious action that tackles the problem at the root.
"Simplistic population theories"? Maybe it's simplistic because it's so obvious and logical. There is rampant unemployment in the US. Why is this? Because of greed? Maybe it's because there is NOT enough for all these people to do? Are we to pull jobs out of thin air for people to do? We seem to be getting along OK with the amount of work being done.. in fact, there are jobs we have created that don't even need to BE jobs. (Um... anal bleaching? Do we really need to pay someone to do that in their day's work? There's a memo I missed.) I agree that there are "social ills" at play here, but perhaps until we fix them, we should slow down a little. Or a lot. The author is right - we are running out of time. Perhaps, then, we need to employ ALL solutions. We need to throw everything at it possible. Disease? Um, yes, it is well-proven that when disease hits, um, where there are a lot of people, uh, a lot more people get it and spread it and die. Simplistic? Sure, yes it is. BECAUSE IT'S SIMPLY TRUE. Hunger? Yes we have that now, why add more to the mix? Because these problems aren't getting fixed. Here's something simplistic: if there is something wrong with your car, you stop driving it and fix it. THEN you continue. How about we stop and fix things first?
Old argument? I'll tell you why it's an old argument: because we haven't gotten anywhere with it, because people prefer to ignore it, because it hasn't gone away, just gotten worse. That's why it's an old argument. Because it hasn't been SOLVED yet. Because it's only getting worse. Because it is the giant elephant in the room, and this author has not convinced me in the slightest. 
Eh. That's OK. I probably wouldn't convince him either. I would love to sit down to chat with him sometime. I think that would be fun. 

Full Planet

A popular argument for the - wait, what should I call them? Pro-procreates? Pro-population? Natalists? I feel like calling them anti-Nature, because they seem to think the world can just keep going, and are not hearing the groans of it under the weight of us. OK, more on that another time. Suggestions welcome. A popular argument for those who DON'T think we need to slam the brakes on population is that the planet can handle a lot more than we have now. Let's turn back to Mr. Butler and his point of view for an example. He says: 
The world is not ‘full up’
The world is not experiencing runaway population growth. While population is growing, the rate of this growth is actually slowing down. This is mostly due to rising urbanization and marginal improvements in women’s access to birth control technology. The rate of population growth peaked at 2% annually in the 1960s, and has fallen consistently since then.

Yeah, I'm definitely not falling for that. What this utterly fails to take into consideration is the exponential nature of population growth. Growth is not linear. It IS exponential. 
According to the UN the average number of children born per woman fell from 4.9 in the late 1960s to 2.7 in 1999.[2] A December 2008 assessment from the US Census Bureau predicts a steady decline to 0.5% annual population growth by 2050.
Between 1950 and 2000 world population increased by 140%. Experts predict a rise of 50% between 2000 and 2050 and just 11% in the 50 years following that.

Again, please take into account that in the 1950s, the world population was under 3 billion. There's that little equation we learned in 7th grade that has to do with exponential increases. Perhaps that wasn't covered in this gentleman's math class. 
In contrast, the rate of greenhouse gas emissions is rising out of control. Polluting technology, rampant consumerism and corporate greed are driving this increase – not population.

Yes, these things are definitely problems. I fail to understand how rising population is NOT a factor here. When you have more consumers, rampant consumerism is even more rampant. These things must be addressed, and they must be addressed in concert with lower population growth. Fewer people of course means more resources consumed. How can an increased population NOT consume more? 

Another popular argument deals with being able to feed all this humanity. It's one of my favorite discussions. 
Can we feed this many people? Studies by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation insist it is possible to feed well over 10 billion people sustainably – but only if we move to a very different food system. A diversified and organic farming system which produces a balanced mix of plant foods, along with small amounts of meat, could, according to British biologist Colin Tudge, sustain 10 billion people without farming any new areas.
A shift to sustainable farming is also desperately needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
This really stumps me. We aren't feeding all the people who are here already. Starvation is a huge problem. And with the addition of climate change - floods, droughts, heat, etc - the future of crops becomes a little iffy. How do we feed 10 billion people if a portion of the 7 billion is starving? Yes, yes, in a perfect world where everything is working properly and there is no greed and there are no dictators and there is no poverty... sure, in that world, everyone is fed. We don't have that world. We can say we want to work toward that world, but really, when is that going to happen? I just don't have that much faith in humanity. Isn't it more logical to figure out how to feed the 7 billion or less, before we try to feed billions more? "...but only if we move to a very different food system." Is this move happening? Is it going to? Can we be sure of that? What evidence do we have that we CAN do so? 

There is no proof that we can feed 10 billion people. Because we are not feeding 7 billion. If we were feeding 7 billion, I could try to accept that this shift is possible. It is not. Let's stop trying to pretend that it is, and deal with the numbers we have now. To do otherwise is to heap more strain and suffering on the species and the planet.

So, yes, I feel the need to say that the planet IS full, and until we can play nice with it, we need to stop adding more with misguided thoughts that it will all be OK. Learn to do it right first. That'd be different. Yeah. Let's try that for awhile.

Quotes courtesy of by Simon Butler of Green Left Weekly. Maybe he has changed his mind by now. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why Population Control is the "Wrong" Answer?

So I stumbled upon this site that calls itself an "ecosocialist journal, expressing the viewpoint of environmental Marxism." (Um, what?) The Green Left. (Uhhh...) I might agree with some things they say if I could be bothered to be interested in what they are saying. (Eh...) The article that caught my eye was all concerned with population control and why it was the WRONG answer for climate change. Amused, I had to read it. I'm all up in the whole climate change thing. Now, I get to tear it apart point by point. This will take a few entries.

They say population control measures would actually hinder the movement.

Oh, DO, go on, say I, leaning forward with an eager expression, chin in my hands. This ought to be GREAT. Please... do tell.

Their first point in the article by Simon Butler is that population does not cause climate change. No, of course it in itself does not. The author's view in this is that reducing the population is focusing on one symptom of a bad system instead of dealing with the root cause.
"People are not pollution. Blaming too many people for driving climate change is like blaming too many trees for causing bushfires."
Um.... hmm. I'm not entirely sure why this makes sense to Mr. Butler. Sure, sure, I kind of see what he's saying (not really). There is a failing in this. You do not have a brush fire where there is no brush, and where there are not humans, there is not pollution. A smaller number of people using less energy burning fewer fossil fuels WOULD result in less pollution. So, no. BUZZ!!! Wrong!
"The real cause of climate change is an economy locked into burning fossil fuels for energy and unsustainable agriculture. Unless we transform the economy and our society along sustainable lines as rapidly as possible, we have no hope of securing an inhabitable planet, regardless of population levels."
Um... yeah. I don't disagree with that. But Mr. Butler is not convincing me at all that population can keep growing unchecked. It's like he's trying to tie something in for the heck of it rather than for good reason and argument. His population would have to be a very nearly perfect one that uses very little energy. Since that is not likely to happen, I still advocate population reduction along with his transformed society. A growing population will always require more and more and more, and therefore also needs to change. 
"Population-based arguments fail to admit that population levels will impact on the environment in a very different way in a zero-emissions economy. Making the shift to renewable energy – not reduction in human population – is really the most urgent task we face."
Again, I don't disagree - we need to make the shift to renewable energy. But I maintain a reduction in human population is completely necessary. I am failing to understand what his utopian world of 9 billion people looks like in a zero-emissions economy. How are we feeding all these people? Are they still using computers, driving cars, using air conditioning or heating their homes, or all they all walking around gardening and living in caves? I don't see that happening. I'd love for him to explain it to me. Maybe... just maybe... in getting to that zero-emissions economy he seems to think we can have, we put the brakes on a little and give the planet a change to catch its breath? 
More to come next time. His logic takes a lot of digesting. Trust me. A LOT. 
I realize this is just one man's opinion in one article, but this is the kind of thinking I face all the time. Population is the last thing people want to discuss. That time is gone, that luxury is one we no longer have. It's getting to be too late.  


From The Guardian:

Children unable to run as fast as parents' generation, study shows

Global conference on heart fitness hears research that says each generation is getting slower and heavier than one before
Am I the only one that finds this... notable? We are exploding in population, but the humans we are producing are de-evolving. "On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did 30 years ago. Heart-related fitness has declined 5% each decade since 1975, for children aged 9 – 17." Now, we might be slower than our way-long-ago ancestors were, those who had to run from, say, saber-toothed tigers and such, but what's the deal here?

We have programs like "Play60" because kids should get 60 minutes of good active play time but are not. This article mentions that phys-ed classes are going away. And kids are getting fatter. I was one of those last ones picked for sports in gym class, and I still could run and play and was an active little thing. We ran. We played kick-ball. We rode our bikes. We breathed actual outdoor air.

It boils down to this: We are not creating quality here. If we were a growing population of really good stewards of the Earth, living with Nature instead of fighting it, becoming better and better instead of descending into Idiocracy, then I wouldn't say a word. Not a peep. But we are not.

Evolution: We're doing it WRONG. Darwin rolls in his grave, and we fill the planet with way too many unhealthy progeny who will simply further trash the planet, because soon, like in the movie Wall-E. humans will be gelatinous blobs of helpless useless goo.

I'm failing to see the point.