Sacramento Freethinkers Atheists & Nonbelievers (FAN) Message Board › The Damaging Effects of Religion on Overpopulation

The Damaging Effects of Religion on Overpopulation

David D.
Lodi, CA
Post #: 60
This thread has been started to encourage discussion about the December 21, 2010 meetup, "The Damaging Effects of Religion on Overpopulation".

Please join in and share your thoughts and ideas before and after Paul's presentation.
David D.
Lodi, CA
Post #: 61

There is a danger in the new "atheist/"quasi-scientist"­ viewpoint that says population growth is "not exponential and in fact will level off at somewhere between 8 and 12 bill. and go negative by 2100.' (as if we could support 12 bill.!)

Posted Dec 14, 2010 4:40 PM

Matthew Howery:

What's the danger in the viewpoint? The commonly accepted carrying capacity of the Earth is somewhere between 10 and 15 Billion.

Posted Dec 14, 2010 7:29 PM

Alex Weaver:

What are the assumptions underlying those calculations?

Posted Dec 17, 2010 11:29 PM

Janet T:

10-15 billion people is "commonly accepted"? Common where exactly? I'd like to see verification that our planet can survive, in any decent condition, that many humans.

Posted Dec 18, 2010 12:00 AM
A former member
Post #: 2
This topic is so core to all life that I would like to see a group on Overpopulation grow out of the 12-21-10 meeting. I would like to participate with others who can develop ideas to share with the region, the country and the world. One of our most basic instincts is to procreate to insure the survival of our species. We are going to procreate ourselves to death at the current rate. All joking about that is the way I want to go out aside, we must choose to insure the species survival in a different manner at this point in history. Just my initial thoughts.
A former member
Post #: 2
It seems that proponents of 12-15 billion people as "supportable" don't care about survival of all the large land animals. I wonder when we will begin triage for them? Which species to save, if we can?
I would not care to live in a world of JUST people - in huge skyscrapers, like hives, no nature, no large animals, no life in the sea. I hope I am wrong, but that's the nightmare scenario I think the world will be in 2060.
user 3215189
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 9
In reading back over Howery's statement, it seems he didn't clarify what type of organism the planet was capable of supporting at the level of 10-15 billion. I'd be surprised if he actually meant 10-15 billion humans, but hopefully he can clarify for us ... or perhaps he's being argumentative for the sake of spurring debate!

At any rate, my addition to the conversation may no longer be needed, but I was reminded of Daniel Quinn's novels - Ishmael and The Story of B - where he discusses overpopulation and carrying capacity. I found this section on a different website, which describes a non-fiction book on a similar topic:

Carrying Capacity

William R. Catton's book Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change disarms this debate by eloquently explaining the concept of carrying capacity, and applying it to our current predicament. Carrying capacity, put simply, is the ability of a given environment to support a given population at a given level of consumption. What this means is that it is both consumption levels and actual numbers that determine the impact of a population on its environment.

Privileged Westerners who blame ecological problems on the high birth rates of poor Africans ignore the concept of carrying capacity: a family of four Americans who consumes 100 times the resources of an African are contributing just as much to overpopulation as 400 Africans. Reducing the population increases of both of these groups will decrease the intensity of all human-caused ecological damage.

We might be able to fit 15 billion people on this planet if we all stood shoulder to shoulder across the mountains, plains, and desserts, but that doesn't meant the planet could sustain this many of us in this manner.

Probably beating a dead horse at this point so late in the discussion, but still felt compelled to share it!

A former member
Post #: 2
I think we're showing pretty well that even 7 billion is far too large a population!
A former member
Post #: 30
The number is an estimate used by biologists and other conservationists in various models to make predictions. There are a large number of factors involved not the least of which is land usage and the genetic engineering of food which, thankfully, has almost quadrupled the feeding capacity of wheat and other crops. The vast majority of the landmass of this planet is still sparsely populated, if at all. Pretending that the Entire planet is as crowded as NYC or India is just as misleading and dishonest as saying there is infinite room for growth.

As for us somehow replacing the larger animals, -some animals will become extinct as has happened continuously throughout the biological history of our planet due to other animals taking over various ecological niche's. The fact that the biosphere of the Earth depends on all of the trophic levels, from the smallest micro-organism, to the largest land animals necessitates that as long as we are responsible, it will continue to exist.

What we must be cognizant of is the "static-glasses" view, which is to say the idea that the Earth should always look "just like it does now." We must be careful, cognizant, and conservative in how we use the planet and live, but we must always recognize that the planet itself is the most existential of all, since it is always changing and becoming something new.

David J.
user 6514874
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 61
Carrying Capacity,

I noticed the suggestion that 10-12 billion is a number that was offered as generally accepted. Several requests were made to substantiate that claim. I thought that was a fair point to question.

I did a cursory read of Wikipedia and found them also vague on the question. I imagine that might reveal something about the topic. As difficult as getting consensus on Global Climate Change is, The theoretical numbers of Humans that can survive in a sustainable way on the planet is possible to calculate, but also difficult to communicate. There are many variables and as we are just starting to ask the question, the answer will take some investigation. The quality of the answer is Dependant on who we give credibility to and as each individual becomes more informed on the issue, the overly optimistic and overly pessimistic will become easier to detect.

Maybe we should make a number pool and people could make there own guess about the number. Would that be a scientific study? It would, but not about the accuracy of the carrying capacity number, but a number that would represent what individuals of FAN might guess.

If anyone sees a study or a quote from something scientific, please put it out there (here).

David Jacobs My guess is 2-3 Billion.
A former member
Post #: 1
As broad and overarching as this topic is, and the discussion thus far, I don't have anything to add to the previous comments. However, I do want to offer some links and ideas as to how one might channel these shared concerns, beginning at the local level and beyond.

For me personally, I find the development in the Sacramento region and the land use policies and practices that have allowed for and underwritten it alarming. And as the capitol region, I believe the issues facing this area are a microcosm of the issues facing the state at large. What happens here on the local level matters. Several of Paul's slides about what's gone on locally with development brought to mind Cosmo Garvin's column in the SN&R from a short time ago.



For those of you concerned with this by-product of overpopulation and human activity, here's one organization cited at the forefront locally:



Despite how long the Environmental Council of Sacramento has been at it, it seems short-term expedient decisions for short-term gains in revenue and short-sighted boom-bust thinking continues to prevail, however insane, counterintuitive and counterproductive in the face of global warming. Developers, it seems, are winning. Even so, volunteering or getting involved with this group is something a concerned, if not alarmed, atheist CAN do at the local level.

Additionally, down to the even more personal (that has huge implications for all of us as pointed up by Paul), if one's interest is in supporting organizations that are at the forefront of population growth through sex education, reproductive health and birth control, Planned Parenthood and Pathfinder International are worthy of ongoing and continued support.



Lastly, given the points that were made in the discussion following the lecture about the unlikely success in converting religious adherents beliefs by logic or reason, in the interest of finding common ground and bypassing the great divide, I did run across this article from years ago in SN&R about a coalition of religious institutions and churches who have taken up environmentalism. A list of Sacramento area churches are listed on their website. Although motivated and informed by vastly different perspectives, it would be interesting to look into just where these local churches are currently at in their response to climate change and global warming.



On the other end of the spectrum, even MTV is doing it's part. Who knew?­

So short of forming cells of "atheist missionaries" that go out into the world to reverse the damage done by the religious sort, I simply wanted to offer these few links and ideas that point to potentially constructive ways to act in response to the grim picture we're faced with. Barely a start and hardly exhaustive, if this sparks off other relevant thoughts and ideas, all the better. Doing a lot or a little, it may not be enough, it may never be enough, but it's better than doing nothing while the band plays on...and it would seem this time of year it's all x-mas music.

A former member
Post #: 1
Foreign Perspectives:

Some related figures concerning World Population, Religion and marriage customs:
1. At present (24 Dec 2010) the most populated countries are China (19.5%) and India (17.3%) respectively. They consisted 38% of the total world population, with United States coming in third at 4.51%
2. Religion in China has been characterized by pluralism since the beginning of Chinese history.
3. On the other hand, India is the birth place of four major religions, Hindusim, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Presently, Hinduism accounted for 80.5% of the population, Islam 13.4%, Christianity 2.3%, and Sikism 1.9%.
4. The UN estimate for future world population by 2010 are, UN high about 14 billion, UN medium 9 billion and UN low at 5.5 billion.
5. Polygamy was practiced in many sections of Hindu (India) society in ancient times. But since 1959 polygamy was made illegal in India by the Hindu Marriage Act.
6. Technically, ever since the Han Dynasty (206BCE-220CE), it had been unlawful for Chinese men to have more than one wife. However, throughout the history of imperial China, it had been common for the rich and influential Chinese men to have one wife and various concubines. It is illegal in modern China to have more than one spouse for either sex.

Source: Wikipedia, World Population, Religion in China, Religion in India, Polygamy

Personal Experiences, Singapore overpopulation policy (small scale example):
1. I was living in Singapore for 9 years and the government at that time was “terrified” of the issue of over population, because the country is just a small island with limited natural space and resources. They came up with a 2 child policy law, where they strongly encouraged (with government benefits and incentives) for family that has only 2 children. As time goes by educated Singaporeans tend not to get married and have children. By 2008, Singapore has the world 3rd lowest fertility rate at 1.28 per children per woman. Concerned, the government changed its policy and instead gave benefits for higher income family to have more children. In addition, to overcome decline in population growth, the Singapore government encourages foreigners to immigrate to Singapore.

China present problem concerning over population (large scale example):
2. The one-child policy refers to the one-child limitation on most families in the population control policy of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which started in 1979 and will probably last until at least 2015. Due to this policy, many Chinese parents in China illegally abort their baby girls (Chinese customs prefer male child to carry on the family name). According to a new study released (Jan 2010) by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, more than 24 million Chinese men of marrying age are likely to find themselves unable to find women to marry come 2020. In some regions of China the male-female ratio was 130 males for every 100 females (a normal ratio would be 103-107 males to 100 females) Source:­

Aging Japan (possible future world scenario, control world population and increase in high life expectancies):
3. On the other hand, if a population live longer than usual another problem arises like Japan. The aging of Japan outweighs all other nations with the highest proportion of elderly citizens, 21% over the age of 65. In 1989, only 11.6% of the population was 65 years or older, but projections were that 25.6% would be in that age category by 2030. However, those estimates now seem low given that 21.2% (as of April 2007) are already 65 and over, now the world's highest. The change will have taken place in a shorter span of time than in any other country. This aging of the population was brought about by a combination of low fertility and high life expectancies (i.e., low mortality).

Source: Wikipedia, One-Child Policy and Aging Japan.

Possible Solutions:
1. Global Environmental concerns, including self-sufficiency (not to waste global resources.)
2. Global Consciousness, guidelines for number of children per family according to each country (not enforces by law, but determine by each individual free will. Can be encouraged through information and education). To achieve a balance between minimum but positive global population growth and a stable aging world population.
3. Good Global Health Care for senior citizens.
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