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Debate: Should we endlessly assist population expansion?

I was intrigued by Magnus Larsson and indeed other TED talkers about helping with the desperate plight of people in Africa, for example the chap assisting with clean water and his 15nm filter.

But being a long view sort of chap, I immediately wonder if the best thing for the dirt poor isn't contraception. This may sound harsh, but I am no eugenics nut, this is not about picking cultures or races.

Also I wish no ill to any living people, they should receive aid, but the biggest taboo in modern science and political strategy seems to be overpopulation.

For anyone not knowing, please look at the world population figures for the past few hundred years, they cannot be overstated.

Simply working on keeping communities alive, finding renewable energies and looking to feed people is treating the symptoms, not the plague. And people, human beings are the plague.

Why is nobody asking questions like, just how many people do we want to support on this planet? Not even - how many can we support?

Now think of a world with 1 billion people. Or less. How's about several hundred million. Those people can live spread across the world according to available resources. We could still improve on our pollutions but decreasing the population seems to me to immediately fix most of the world's problems, and I don't see a down side. Why do those that want children need more than two? And really, why more than one?

Then the other counter to initiatives like Magnus' is, SHOULD we interfere with nature on the scale that he proposes? Do we really think we know the true consequences of something like that? Ask yourself, why is the desert swallowing green belt? Is it because humans interfered?

I have grave concerns that if you feed everyone, and provide their other basic needs through technology, without any cultural revolution, that overpopulation will simply and VERY rapidly throw up the next major problem, and that this may risk life on this planet.

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    Oct 27 2012: We should certainly be talking about this, and some are, but the fundamentalist evangelical members of the Abrahamic religions are still a strong political force in our country. These anti-intellectuals don't know the hardships that they lobby for.

    Some are talking about this, and believe that the world can support 5 billion people, which means that we need to decrease the number of children born. As it stands now, by 2030, all but the wealthiest few will be in dire straights. The economy is collapsing. More and more are driven into poverty. Global warming - whatever the cause - is real, and arable lands are dwindling. Hurricanes/typhoos and tornadoes are increasing in intensity. Glaciers are melting and the sea level is rising. Aquifers are being polluted by big businesses, whether by mega corporate farms or oil companies that use fracking to get natural gas. Topsoil is being eroded at a huge clip because of poor farming practices by mega farms. Hunger will be very real very soon. By 2030, 28% of the world's population will be starving, and that starvation will not be limited to Africa and parts of Asia. It will be as real in the US and UK as it is in Africa.

    During the great depression, food rotted in the fields because there was no money to buy fuel to transport it, and because there were no buyers for the food.

    We can do better, but for as long as politicians can distract us from dire threats against all of humanity - caused largely by the economic model that we desperately cling to - it looks like we are choosing to jump off the cliff rather than face solvable problems responsibly. We also need to find a way to silence the fundamentalist religions that think that they will be raptured before the consequences of THEIR actions hit the sinners.
    • Oct 27 2012: Ooo, you have touched on two things that make me wildly unpopular, Abrahamic cults and American politics.

      Let me just say, I agree, these cultists are of huge concern to me too. Those "religions" anger me beyond expressing nicely here to you lovely people.

      I am not of your country though TED Lover (praise Xenu!). I was fortunate enough to be born in Europe (phew) in the UK in particular (lucky lucky bar-steward). And here the religion is less common, though still a major influence in politics for those really looking, it is much less fire-and-brimstone crazy town. We are British after all! Pip pip.

      So good look with all your craziness America. We (the rest of the world) are far from immune from your turmoils and corruptions, but if there's one thing we all know about America, it's that no-one outside the country is going to change anything there in any meaningful way (not without a nuclear winter).

      On the topic of starving and future predictions, that really is only part of my concern. Again this focus leads to a simple continuation of the same problem. "Oh no! We are starving!", science and tech breaks through with another save and we all go on breeding like rabbits.

      The real concern is that at some point there is no countryside. And that our numbers permit something catastrophic; superplague, total environmental destruction or GM finally makes us all infertile.

      Besides that, there's a real quality of life question. Seeing pictures of Manila, Mumbai, even New York and Tokyo; it skeeves me out. There are not enough anti-depressants in the world for me to live like that.

      Why would you birth the next 20 BILLION children into a world with 20 billion people crowding it? Put in your own figure, how many would make you reconsider having children?

      If there is no answer here, then you have the crooks of the problem. We are not as in control as we think. Having kids is primal and emotional.

      I don't have answers, just questions of blindly feeding the breeders.

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