Peak Population

Seven billion miracles are enough!

The issue is not so much what form of technology is more terrible, but how many people are engaging in the technologies. There appears to be very little thought given to how large a population size is sustainable with a renewable-energy economy."
-- Jan Lundberg

Family Planning – A Special and Urgent Concern by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Posted on October 25, 2016 by energyskeptic
[ Below are excerpts from this May 5, 1966 speech by Martin Luther King Jr. after he was awarded the Margaret Sanger Award by Planned Parenthood ]


Why did the environmental movement drop the issue of overpopulation?

Posted on March 24, 2016 by energyskeptic

Roy Beck & Leon Kolankiewicz. The Environmental Movement’s Retreat from Advocating U. S. Population Stabilization (1970-1998): A First Draft of History

[This is most of the 27 page report. Beck and Kolankiewicz have written this excellent paper explaining why the environmental movement abandoned the goal of keeping population within the carrying capacity of U.S. resources. Systems ecologists such as Paul Erlich, David Pimentel and others estimate the U.S. can support about 100 million people without fossil fuels. That was the population during the Great Depression, when 1 in 4 Americans were farmers, yet still many people were hungry (hence “The Grapes of Wrath”. Alice Friedemann ]
I once asked the executive director of the Rainforest Action Network why RAN didn’t discuss the huge number of people on the planet as a factor in rainforest devastation and encourage smaller human families, as everyone in that nonprofit organization probably understands that the demand for resources from 7 billion people on the planet is causing extensive damage to the earth. They know that if the UN projection of 10 billion people on the planet by 2050 is right, it will be disastrous for forests everywhere. She admitted, abashedly, that she did not want to alienate donors.
RAN is an organization whose members break into corporate offices and hang banners out the windows excoriating Big Oil, yet they are afraid to talk about human overpopulation in their pamphlets or on their website. If RAN won’t admit the link between diminishing natural resources and a population that grows by 220,000 people every day, then what large environmental organization will?
It turns out, none.

"[In response to this question by Bill Moyers: What do you see happening to the idea of dignity to human species if this population growth continues at its present rate?] "It's going to destroy it all. I use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then both have what I call freedom of the bathroom, go to the bathroom any time you want, and stay as long as you want to for whatever you need. And this to my way is ideal. And everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up, you have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, aren't you through yet, and so on. And in the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies."
-- Issac Asimov
Ideology Subsumes Empiricism in Pope's Climate Encyclical
By Lawrence M. Krauss | June 18, 2015
... An encyclical wouldn’t be an encyclical without theology however, and that is where problems arise. In a chapter entitled “Gospel of Creation” Francis ruminates poetically on the nature of man, the mystery of the cosmos (my own area of study) and the special duty Christians have to respect nature, humanity and the environment. It’s beautifully presented and sounds good in principle. However, his biblical analysis leads to the false conclusion that contraception and population control are not appropriate strategies to help a planet with limited resources.
Here, ideology subsumes empiricism, and the inevitable conflict between science and religion comes to the fore. One can argue until one is blue in the face that God has a preordained plan for every zygote, but the simple fact is that if one is seriously worried about the environment on a global scale population is a problem. A population of 10 billion by 2050 will likely be unsustainable at a level in which all humans have adequate food, water, medicine and security. Moreover, as this pope should particularly appreciate, the environmental problems that overpopulation creates also disproportionately afflict those in poor countries, where access to birth control and abortion is often limited. Ultimately, the surest road out of poverty is to empower women to control their own fertility. Doing so allows them to better provide for themselves and their children, improves access to education and healthcare and, eventually, creates incentives for environmental sustainability.
The problem with basing a public policy framework on outmoded ideas that predate modern science and medicine is that one inevitably proposes bad policies.
No one can fault Pope Francis’s intentions, which are clearly praiseworthy, but his call for action on climate change is compromised by his adherence to doctrines that are based on revelation and not evidence. The Catholic Church and its leaders can never be truly objective and useful arbiters of human behavior until they are willing to dispense with doctrine that can thwart real progress. In this sense, the latest encyclical took several steps forward, and then a leap back.
Lawrence M. Krauss is director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. A cosmologist, he has visited the Vatican to discuss the long-term future of life. His most recent book is A Universe from Nothing. Krauss is also a member of Scientific American's Board of Advisers.