The Case for Controlling Human Population

    Roland Vincent | 5 August 2016
    Armory of the Revolution

    Capitalism with its relentless emphasis on consumerism and its equally relentless extraction of resources is a driver of climate change. This includes evils such as animal agriculture that not only brings misery to the animals involved but also degrades the environment with air pollution from methane and water pollution from runoff.

    However capitalism has a partner that politicians do not want to talk about. That partner is overpopulation. According to Democratic Underground, “Any politician who even dares to bring this subject up ends their career. So almost no one will discuss it.”

    Human population is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 and will continue to cause Anthropocene Extinction, something else the politicians are not talking about.

    In 1968 Paul Ehrlich published his book “The Population Bomb,” warning about the dangers of the burgeoning numbers of human beings on this earth. The author appeared on multiple TV shows discussing the problem, and his book was received with great interest. However, soon the whole topic of the human birth rate was becoming politicized. Anti-abortion/anti-contraception religions made the topic politically incorrect to discuss.

    As a result of the silence and the still growing numbers, Garrett Hardin noted the following in his 1977 book, “The Limits of Altruism”: “… in the modern press, nobody ever dies of overpopulation: It is unthinkable. So we say people die of starvation, drowning, disease, civil disorder, and countless other acceptable ‘causes.’ Taboo determines language, and language controls perception.” (p. 94)

    The discussion has become more dire, causing ecologist like Hardin to suggest that if countries allow their population to grow beyond the carrying capacity of their land, other countries whose own resources are stretched, may no longer be able or obligated to come to the rescue. Ethical philosopher Herschel Elliott also notes that the usual rules of humanitarian morality may be irrelevant in the face of mass overpopulation and its problems.

    So far, though, most of the human race has escaped the worse consequences of its arrogant and irresponsible overbreeding. The rest of the creatures on this earth have had to bear the burden. We hunt them into extinction for food and take their habitat until they starve or are driven into human communities, where they are killed as pests and competitors for resources. Even the megafauna of Africa are fighting for their lives and their species, as the long-gone mammoths and mastodons did. The article above suggests that we are annihilating 30,000 species a year.

    I wonder if our species will ever have the humility and wisdom to regret what we have done and are doing. Even when we are warned about the hazards of climate change to all life, many deny it. Even when we know of the tragic consequences of our overbreeding and have the ability to control it, we allow Religion to make the rules. To many in that community, a whole species is less important than one fertilized egg.

    So our numbers grow. But species who have evolved with us over millions of years and who have earned the right to live on this earth with us are being driven to extinction. Many of them will be gone before we knew who they were or that they were here. Thus we will even deny them their place in the record of life on this planet.

    They are just more victims of capitalism, greed, denial, and the futility of the political process.

    Roland Vincent is an animal rights activist, an environmentalist, and a civil libertarian.

    Sir David Attenborough: an interview with the Wellcome Trust

    Stephen Emmott’s Ten Billion, Trailer | The Future of Our Planet

    Professor Paul Ehrlich: Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?

    Al Bartlett – Democracy Cannot Survive Overpopulation

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    2 COMMENTS

    1. It is even sadder that many of the frontline "environmental organizations" refuse to mention population as the overwhelming environmental problem because they think it will damage their fundraising.

    2. Take the graph of human population growth and flip it left to right. That is the curve for population decrease. A crash. As Al Bartlett said, if we don't choose our means of controlling population, nature will do it for us, and we won't like the choice.

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