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April 24, 2008

Population growth

I second Michael Fopeano’s letter (4/16) concerning the dangers of population growth. The open frontier is gone. We now have a heavily populated finite world, greatly damaged by human efforts to overproduce and overconsume. Even now we struggle to find energy sources that will not aggravate global warming, and every additional person increases that burden. Moreover, there are biological limits to the amount of potable water and food that can be produced.

Unless we keep human population constrained within these limits, we are all threatened. Already, oceans are dangerously overfished, and we see emerging food and water shortages in Asia and Africa. Furthermore, in the final, frantic struggle for food, energy and other necessities, we may well poison our environment beyond any recovery: War is very destructive.

Whether “green,” “pro-life,” Democrat, Republican or independent, we must unite. Survival requires that we initiate a worldwide program to prevent human reproduction from destroying this fragile planet on which our lives and all our hopes depend. Write your senator. And vote.

Margaret A. Hogan
Kansas City

I am glad to see I am not the only one who realizes that the world’s problems are caused by man. It only stands to reason, for example, that our fresh water supplies are dwindling. After all, the human body is approximately two-thirds water, and that water has to come from somewhere. If the population goes up, the water supply goes down.

As the population grows and requires more land to live on, there is less land to grow food. The more trees that are cut down to make room for farms, the fewer trees there are to clean the air and, therefore, more greenhouse gases accumulate, resulting in global warming and climate change. This deforestation also causes soil erosion and increased desert area, which makes for less farmable and livable land and less animal and plant habitat. And this doesn’t cover the pollution we constantly pump into the environment, causing more problems.

No, Mr. Fopeano, you are not the only one “terrified by these figures.”

Michele Green
Independence

The “threat of overpopulation” message is not new. The writer says we should stop “uncontrolled breeding” in order to save the “other plant and animal species” of planet Earth.

Good for him his parents didn’t get this advice before he was born.

The save-the-planet themes do raise some questions. Save it for whom? Which plants and what animals are going to inherit the Earth?

My recollection of Genesis is that man was given dominion over this creation, along with the gift to “breed.”

I’m not aware of any knowledge that this rock in all of the universe will last forever.

Frank Grimaldi
Kansas City

Comments

Engineer

MR. KATMAN
I didn't realize I was arguing with anyone, I was just making some observations. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to where those observations were in error. I stated that I have observed that all of the forecasts and warnings of Malthus and his followers of which I am aware have failed to come about. As an aside those who have been around this blog for some time can tell you that I have used up a lot of cyberspace opposing Al Gore et al. I also stated that, according to the figures I have seen, the "affluent" appear to be producing decedents at a rate barely above that required to sustain their current population. But if you are actually upholding Malthus, Marctnts has ably presented the case against him.

Marctnts

The major argument against Malthus' ideas is that they are based on the notion that as the ability to sustain population rises (i.e. increased food production, etc.), population will tend to rise even faster.

This has been proven erroneous in a majority of industrialized nations, where as real gross production has increased, birth rates have decreased. While the worldwide population in the last 100 years has increased six fold, gross production has increased forty fold.

I read an interesting article that compared the population of the world to the state of Texas. According to the analysis, you could fit every person on the planet in the state of Texas, giving each one a little over 1,400 square feet of space, and leaving the entire rest of the planet for food production, natural habitat, etc.

Overpopulation is a myth that seems to pop up every 10-15 years. Even the New York Times, one of the more liberal papers in the country, has listed overpopulation as one of the 10 biggest myths of the twentieth century.

katman

Mr. Engineer, your argument against Malthus is also an argument against Global Warming.

KATMAN

Engineers are fun to debate since they are so myopic. I see therefore it is.

Engineer

These disciples of Malthus keep popping up despite the fact that their forecasts of chaos have proved to be wrong time after time over the last 150 years or so. But it's a moot point, according to one forecast we all gone already, starved to death in 1980. Looking at today's world it appears to me that affluence is the key to the control of population growth. Northern Europe is not reproducing at a rate that will sustain current population. White USA is at the edge and Canada is below it. It seems that the easier life is the less desire there to undertake raising children.

katman

That's why they have Liberals & Conservatives, Democrats & Republicans, catholics, Protestants, & Jews, horse races, & multiple choice exams. There's no one right answer.

KATMAN

wellpaidscientist

"Save it for whom?"

Right, after the rapture, there won't be any humans left, just godless heathens and animals, who cares what happens then?

jack

If population outruns subsitance, that bucolic thing called nature will solve the problem. Starvation and disease will reduce the population to a sustainable level.

jack

"And, in the 17th & 18th centuries, wasn't everyone an immigrant and unwanted by those already here?"

No. Although there were always groups looked down on and discriminated against, during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries most immigrants were welcome.I'm sure the Native Americans would disagree, but in the opinion of those of european decent there was a continent that needed filling up.

There is also the minor detail that the immigrants were LEGAL. All those folks who came through Ellis Island were approved to enter.

Coomparing LEGAL immigrants to ILLEGAL immigrants is apples and oranges. It just ain't the same.

Anne

Frank,

Your argument is no argument at all. You know you're going to die someday. Does that mean you do nothing to take care of yourself? Please try to have a better reason than that to not take care of the earth.

katman

Jack, don't we already have 12+ million here that we call illegal aliens(immigrants). And, in the 17th & 18th centuries, wasn't everyone an immigrant and unwanted by those already here? Rhetorical question.

KATMAN

Thought for the Day: Population always tends to outrun subsistance (Malthus)

solomon

"The last major attempt to mechanically (aka politically) control population was engineered by Adolph Hitler."-KATMAN katman

KATMAN,

katman

I think if you explain that sentence I can refute it.

jack

Cheap people. That's what we need! More cheap people. If we had more people, we could have lower wages and get back to a system where if you are hurt on the job, they through you away and bring in some one else.

After all, unrestrained population growth works so very well in third world countries.

katman

Do I hear the familiar mantra once again? -- "the sky is falling". Population is controlled by three factors -- pestilence, war, & famine. The last majaor attempt to mechanically (aka politically) control population was engineered by Adolph Hitler. Throughout history, populations have grown when & where food surpluses increase. Agricultural surpluses allow persons to pursue other endeavors -- and to populate the planet. Think twice before you suggest fooling Mother Nature.

KATMAN

solomon

Frank,

By definition, we have not displayed a just "dominion" over the Earth.

Rogue

Margaret and Michele, two "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" whack jobs.....

 
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