Gloucester County Humanists Message Board › World Population Reaches Seven Billion... and Counting, toward Ten Billion.

World Population Reaches Seven Billion... and Counting, toward Ten Billion.

Bill R.
jwreitter
Glassboro, NJ
Post #: 72
http://www.nytimes.co...­

Here is an excellent article about the still exploding world population and what it means for the future of our planet and our species. What do you think?
Michael D.
user 15761781
Sewell, NJ
Post #: 6
The problem of overpopulation has been with us for the last 50 years. Only china has implemented public policy that begins to deal with the problem. There are so many groups of people who do not believe we should do anything about it for religious or other ethnic reasons that it seems like a tough nut to crack. The problem is here now, but only war, famine and disease will force us to deal with it.
Bill R.
jwreitter
Glassboro, NJ
Post #: 79
Thanks Mike, for the reply. Religionists believe that everything is in the hands of their god figure, but Humanists take responsibility for our actions and cannot blame co-called supernatural forces for our problems. Nor can we look above the clouds for solutions. Here is more of what Mr. Cohen wrote:


Seven Billion

By JOEL E. COHEN


ONE week from today, the United Nations estimates, the world’s population will reach seven billion. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date — the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March — but there can be no doubt that humanity is approaching a milestone.

The first billion people accumulated over a leisurely interval, from the origins of humans hundreds of thousands of years ago to the early 1800s. Adding the second took another 120 or so years. Then, in the last 50 years, humanity more than doubled, surging from three billion in 1959 to four billion in 1974, five billion in 1987 and six billion in 1998. This rate of population increase has no historical precedent.

Can the earth support seven billion now, and the three billion people who are expected to be added by the end of this century? Are the enormous increases in households, cities, material consumption and waste compatible with dignity, health, environmental quality and freedom from poverty?

For some in the West, the greatest challenge — because it is the least visible — is to shake off, at last, the view that large and growing numbers of people represent power and prosperity.

This view was fostered over millenniums, by the pronatalism of the Hebrew Bible, the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church and Arab thinkers like Ibn Khaldun. Mercantilists of the 16th through the 18th centuries saw a growing population as increasing national wealth: more workers, more consumers, more soldiers. Enlarging the workforce depressed wages, increasing the economic surplus available to the king. “The number of the people makes the wealth of states,” said Frederick the Great.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pronatalism acquired a specious scientific aura from social Darwinism and eugenics. Even today, some economists argue, incorrectly, that population growth is required for economic growth and that Africa is underpopulated.

This view made some sense for societies subject to catastrophic mortality from famines, plagues and wars. But it has outlived its usefulness now that human consumption, and pollution, loom large across the earth.
Bill R.
jwreitter
Glassboro, NJ
Post #: 80
IF we spend our wealth — our material, environmental, human and financial capital — faster than we increase it by savings and investment, we will shift the costs of the prosperity that some enjoy today onto future generations. The mismatch between the short-term incentives that guide our political and economic institutions and even our families, on one hand, and our long-term aspirations, on the other, is severe.

We must increase the probability that every child born will be wanted and well cared for and have decent prospects for a good life. We must conserve more, and more wisely use, the energy, water, land, materials and biological diversity with which we are blessed.

Henceforth we need to measure our growth in prosperity: not by the sheer number of people who inhabit the earth, and not by flawed measurements like G.D.P., but by how well we satisfy basic human needs; by how well we foster dignity, creativity, community and cooperation; by how well we care for our biological and physical environment, our only home.


Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical biologist and the head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University and Columbia University, is the author of “How Many People Can the Earth Support?”
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