TED Conversations

Karl Morgan

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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.

+2
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Oct 28 2012: Dear Karl in reply.
    I am sorry if I offend you with "Population controls." An awful phrase, I apologise for it's use.
    The fact is the choices we make as rich individuals affect the lives and well being of other living things including humans. What we buy decides who prospers and who does not. Who eats and who does not. They're here.
    2. Human activity results in the premature extinction of thousands of species every year, many of which have been living on this oasis of life millions of years before the ape family, of which we are one, appeared. Every one of us has a responsibility for that, without them we die.
    3. My personal view is that we do have an obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves, whatever their colour creed belief or status, both home and abroad. The pitiful 0.7 % of GDP that the UK currently spend on foreign aid has to be "sold" as in our interest, and defended as "necessary for our future growth".
    4. I concede the current thinking, "teach the needy to fish, rather than provide a daily fish" is a better approach than past efforts, but it does not necessarily make for a solution, and may make it worse.
    5. Rape murder, slavery, child abuse, cruelty, hate, prejudice and destruction abound across the world wherever mankind sets his foot, it is not the prerogative of the uneducated or poor.
    6 Greed and power are the motivators for these, along with survival madness and belief. The worst atrocities in history and today continue to be justified in the name of good, god or necessity. You are as likely to find a rapist in your street, town or board room, as in squalor or poverty. It is a weapon of power.
    6. Capitalism is the source of our wealth and power and the exponential growth of our numbers.
    The difficulty is deciding which choices deliver the lesser ill, however well intentioned our act.
    All the above lead to my interest in your debate. I have no solution but believe the human race must evolve and become a better species, or die out.
    • Oct 29 2012: Two points.

      1. I forget the name of the speaker, or talk, but just saw one vid on TED from a lady saying that India and I think the surrounding places, have an appalling and absurdly high occurrence of rape. Rape comes with lack of policing and the disrespect of women. I see no reason why SS Africa would be any different.

      2. Having also just seeing Hans Rosling's TED talk on Religions and babies, I am far less concerned about population. Though, as you comment about natural destruction, and I did too, if we saw a sharp down turn in human population then I suspect many species would do much better on our planet. I will go check Rosling's data tho.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.