Sunday, June 1, 2008

Erasing Poverty?

A solution commonly proposed to solve the world's overpopulation and related pollution and resource shortages is to eradicate poverty in the so-called non-developed nations. Once these people achieve good lifestyles, goes the thinking, they will not want large families and their economies will be able to afford pollution controls. We'll all live happily afterwards.

Noble as this goal might be, it is completely and totally unachievable. There are two reasons. Throughout history a gap has existed between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, the lords and the peasants, the wealthy and the working class. There is not a shred of evidence that this unfortunate but basic part of the human drive will change. Humans will always fight hard to climb the ladder of success and if some have to be trampled en route, tough luck. Sorry, but poverty in the form of poor nations—and a poor stratum even in wealthy nations—will be with us for the foreseeable future.

Even more important is that the Earth simply does not contain enough resources to lift two billion people out of poverty. As the United Nations and other organizations point out, we are already living far beyond the carrying capacity of the globe. Additional refrigerators, cars, televisions, roads, houses and the energy to power these goods cannot be supplied to the poor without ruining the world. In short, the rich and comfortable are already living beyond the world's capacity; there simply is no room at the party for more. The poor nations, which also have the greatest population growths, are condemned to lives of poverty. There is no escape.

Do you agree? Do you think that technology can overcome the impending crises of oil, food and water? How can we save the poor? I don't think we can, but I want to hear from you.

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