Sunday, March 29, 2009

Connecting the Dots Between Global Warming and Human Population


Global warming continues to dominate the news, and the news is grim. The world is heating up faster than scientists predicted. Global ice sheets are melting, hot smoggy days are increasing and severe weather hammers us more frequently. And, in spite of dire warnings , we continue to party on. Yes, the recession is helping, but we’ll be out of that in a year or two. And yes we are embracing more fuel-efficient vehicles, compact fluorescent light bulbs and other conservation measures. But these are too little, too late.
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Let’s connect the dots. A growing population leads to greater consumption which requires more energy which uses fossil fuels which leads to global warming. The first and primary factor is population. But all the solutions being proposed attack subsequent, secondary factors. And none of these solutions will be nearly enough. Take, for example, the environmentalists favourite proposal: dumping coal and using wind and solar. This won’t make a significant contribution for at least 50 years, if then. Why? Because the infrastructure involved with coal-fired electricity is gigantic. There are over 5000 coal plants in the world with more being built every day. Utilities don’t have the resources to scrap the plants that still have many years of useful life left and replace them with expensive solar plants. I don’t see people rushing out to scrap their one-year-old SUVs and buying hybrids.
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Like all complex problems, global warming has no simple solution. We need to employ many strategies including conservation, more efficient technologies and renewable energy. But all that won’t work unless we also slow and stop human population growth. It’s vital that we recognize this crucial fact. Let’s connect the dots.

4 comments:

SESALMONY@aol.com said...

Nothing I can think of can be more vital to a good enough future for the children than a global flow of ideas regarding the population dynamics of the human species on Earth. A virtual mountain of scientific knowledge supports the near-universal understanding that a finite planet with the size, composition and frangible ecology of Earth cannot be expected to much longer support an endlessly growing number of human beings worldwide, many too many of whom appear to be willfully choosing to increase in an unbridled way their conspicuous per-capita consumption and unnecessary overproduction of stuff.

With the hope of promoting necessary discussion of the subject of global human population growth, I would like to share a recent email from one of our most respected colleagues, Dr. Gary Peters, a splendid contributor to the blogosphere.

begin----

"Steve has mentioned the work below but I'm not sure how many of you have actually been able to look at it. It is solid and worth your time, especially if you have an interest in population growth and any variation on the idea of sustainability.

Gary

www.panearth.org

P.S. For those who like such data, the world population now grows by close to 220,000 people per day."

end ---

If you will, please rigorously examine the presentation, World Food and Human Population Growth.

Usual objections to the research of Russell Hopfenberg, Ph.D. and David Pimentel, Ph.D., have focused the human community's attention upon "Demographic Transition Theory." Although this theory is descriptive in character, the demographic transition theory has been widely shared, consensually validated and erroneously deployed, by many too many demographers and economists in particular, as a tool for effectively predicting the end of population growth soon and the automatic stabilization of the human population on Earth in the middle of Century XXI.

With remarkable clarity the research of human population dynamics by Hopfenberg and Pimentel shows us that, as a predictor of the increase or decrease of absolute global human population numbers, the theory of the demographic transition is fatally flawed and directly contradicted by more adequate scientific evidence.

While the theory of the demographic transition does offer a useful historical view of recent patterns of human population growth, its value as a tool to forecast the increase or decrease the population numbers of the human species worldwide can now be seen, in the light of new research, as fundamentally defective.

If the human family continues choosing to keep doing precisely what we are doing now as absolute global human population numbers skyrocket toward a projected 9+ billion people, can reason or common sense possibly support the idea that future outcomes regarding human population growth will be any different either from the results we are seeing now or the results which have been occurring throughout recorded history?

Perhaps someone will kindly explain what you think will happen that would effectively lead to the stabilization of population numbers of the human species in the year 2050, given the fully anticipated young age distribution of the global human population at that time?

At the midpoint of the twenty-first century, what do you suppose hundreds upon hundreds of millions of fertile young people, who are expected to be capable of reproducing, will be doing with their sexual drives and instincts other than what their ancestors did for thousands of years?

Psychologists have often commented about such circumstances in this manner: doing the same things over and over again while fully expecting that a new succession of events will somehow magically occur is an example of extreme foolishness.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
established 2001
http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/index.php

SESALMONY@aol.com said...

THE NEED FOR THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN

Dear Hans,

There are reasons why we see so few discussions of global human population growth and why politicians will not touch the topic with a ten foot pole. The real, "mother" of all inconvenient truths, I believe, is this: the human population is exploding beyond the point where a finite planet with the size, composition and frangible ecosphere of Earth can sustain all of us much longer. The human species is overrunning our planetary home. The most obvious, reasonable, sensible and humane thing to do, and everyone knows it, would be for human beings to take personal responsibility for the reproduction of our species. Perhaps more status, freedom and power for women would be helpful. As vital as the multifaceted empowerment of women is, such empowerment is only a step in the right direction and insufficient by itself.

Hans, you evidently see the colossal challenges to human wellbeing and environmental health that are soon to be confronted by the family of humanity {unless some kind of catastrophic, intervening variable disrupts the present, predominant course of events}. There is good news and bad news in your recognition that the looming global threats to biodiversity, the environment and Earth's body are primarily human-induced. On the one hand, because the problems presented to humanity are driven mainly by distinctly human over-consumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities, it is clearly possible at any moment in space-time for the human community to determine to limit the currently unbridled increase of such activities. Such action could occur tomorrow, in the sense that every tomorrow is the first day of life. On the other hand, the human family appears not to possess either the political will or the instrumentalities of governance to change anything about the way too many of our leaders go about the soon to become patently unsustainable task of selfishly and recklessly choosing how they and the remainder of humanity are going to live in the world we are blessed to inhabit.

Who knows, it could be that only "the feminine" can save humankind from itself. If "the masculine", self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe in my not-so-great generation of leading elders are left to rule out of their own arrogance and greed as well as with their pernicious devices for sabre rattling and warmongering, then I believe all of that which everyone says they are trying to protect and preserve will be radically diminished, if not destroyed.

Sincerely,

Steve

SESALMONY@aol.com said...

Human reproduction does not occur by means of some magical process over which human beings have no control. Quite to the contrary, people know about "where babies come from." It is for this reason that I am suggesting people can choose to take responsibility for this behavior. There are all kinds of incentives that could be deployed to encourage people to have "one child per family", for example. This is only a guess but I believe adequate incentives would lead to rapid behavior change, the kind of change that would put the human community on the road to population stabilization/reduction.

Not only does human production not occur magically, we can see from voluminous evidence from the twentieth century -- when there were two world wars and other ubiquitous armed conflicts, AIDS and other terrible diseases, pestilence, famines, natural and manmade disasters leading to great loss of life -- that the global human population skyrocketed from 1.6 to over 6.1 billion people in that century alone. Please note that nothing served to stem the rapidly rising tide of humanity on Earth in the years between 1900 and 2000. It seems to me that human beings simply have to take responsibility for their propagation {consumption and production} activities because these activities could soon become unsustainable if they remain as unbridled as they are now.

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