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Tuesday, July 11, 2006


SAM SMITH - The Associated Press ran a story bemoaning the fact that Europe and Japan are on the cusp of population losses. You'll read more of this in the future. But as you do, bear two facts in mind:

- Nothing contributes more to global climate change and related problems than population growth. Yet it is rarely mentioned even by the ecologically aware.

- The primary reason for the economic problems associated with population loss is the economic system widely used which depends on ever-growing markets. Conventional capitalism needs population growth and, as a consequence, more global pollution. Again, even progressive economists do not give this the attention it deserves.


At July 11, 2006 12:02 PM, Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sam. I'm glad someone else noticed this.

At July 11, 2006 12:12 PM, Anonymous said...

Declining populations also tend to correlate with higher standards of living. Why have seven kids when you may be happier with one, or none? Also, with fewer people, labor will be in higher demand and people will be more valuable to the institutions they serve.

The human race would get on just fine with 1 billion, or even 1 million people.

At July 11, 2006 6:23 PM, Anonymous said...

Agreed. Population is the problem that no one in this country wants to talk about ... even though the consequences of overpopulation are everywhere.

At July 11, 2006 6:27 PM, Anonymous said...

Capitalism loves population growth, as it translates to ever-increasing real estate values, and the illusion of supposedly beneficial economic growth.

At July 11, 2006 9:46 PM, Frank Ferris said...

Great book on how early capitalism led to witch hunts: Caliban and the Witch by Sylvia Federici. Yeah, it opens a can of worms politically -- all the implications of curbing population; all the sacred cows.

At July 11, 2006 10:48 PM, Anonymous said...

Here in Japan, the government and corporations are practically hysterical over what is called "shoushika," or having fewer children. They are trying all sorts of things to get people to have more babies, but nothing seems to be working. People tend to not give the population issue much thought themselves, but when you explain that the benefits of population decline far outweigh the supposed negative consequences hyped by the government, almost everyone sees the light.

The main reasons that the Japanese are having fewer children are overcrowding, the very high costs of childraising, and interests in doing things in life other than raising children. Recently a politician opined that it's because the Japanese aren't having enough sex, which is an absurd claim considering how well the "love hotel" and porn video industries are doing.

At July 13, 2006 1:27 AM, Ohioguy said...

The joy of raising a child is beautiful. It is a thing that can only be understood by those who do it, but only fully understood by those who do it and actually care about that childs future. When a child is 10, you should be thinking about how to leave the world for them when they are 40. Isn't that what being progressive is all about?

Even if you don't want kids of your own, you should care how others' children are going to inherit the world you leave them. It takes a child to raise a village correct? Its only fair to leave it a little better than you got it.

That said, the consequences of overpopulation are simple. De-population. In other words, the human race needs certain things to survive as a race. If we lose track of what is really important to the survival of humanity: food(and clean water to feed our food), air, and of course the most overlooked factor ever.

Space. Why would you think rural life is so popular despite it's obvious downsides? People need to be alone about 50% of the time. You get some of that while you are sleeping (if you are lucky), but why else would someone choose a rural life? People need to be just people. No government, no international market or the wars that come with them, no bombardment by sensational culture, or just the basic drive to be self-sufficient.

When over population occurs, these things are threatened. Perhaps this is the way that those from the 'urban' left and those from the 'rural' right can unite? It would solve an enormous future problem and create a new political species at the same time. Something America desperately needs, and I mean both.

Humanity needs a new economic model to wean itself off of greed. The whole thought process driving overpopulatiion, is a sense of having whatever you want with no consequence.

"Yes yes yawl, and it wont stop, shedding light on the darkness of greed." - Zach de la Rocha

At July 14, 2006 11:38 AM, David Schwartzman said...


You should know better than to believe this neoMalthusian bunk. Human population size is far below the predictions of 30 years ago, and will level when women are empowered and poverty is
eliminated. The real driver of global climate change is the greed of the fossil fuel military nuclear complex, unsustainable technologies and global capitalism. And the solution is much less capitalism, much more renewables. In other words, with a small addition to Hugo Chavez's brilliant phrase, 21st Century EcoSocialism.

Your red green admirer,

At July 14, 2006 2:49 PM, Anonymous said...

Thousands of years before the greed of the fossil fuel military nuclear complex, unsustainable technologies and global capitalism, major climate changes took place. Expanding populations using renewable resources faster than they could be renewed were the cause of desertification in many of the world's populated regions. The Middle East and what is now the Sahara Desert were once teeming with life. Hundreds of years of agriculture in Persia resulted in unsustainable farming practices, leading to increased salinity of the soil, and the depletion of fertile croplands. Examine any present-daypopulation curve, and you will see a geometric increase in polulation. Malthus was right.

While use of fossil fuels has temporarily increased mankind's ability to produce food beyond Malthus' predictions, petrocollapse inevitably means a collapsing food supply. A sustainable, renewable society can only succeed if population does not exceed a region's natural carrying capacity.

At July 17, 2006 9:13 PM, Quidpro said...

Saying "no" to children is saying "no" to the future. This is progressive?

At July 18, 2006 6:12 PM, Paul said...


Why are you reading "no?" I think the rest of us are reading "fewer."

At July 19, 2006 7:51 PM, Lloydyboy said...

I've said "no" to having kids. Part of it is because I don't want anything to take away from the time I spend with my dogs. Then there's this argument:


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