TED Conversations

Karl Morgan

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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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  • Nov 1 2012: Your narrative and comments fairly nicely captures my outlook about the mess we have gotten ourselves into worldwide because of the unchecked existing and growing population numbers and the unwillingness of most to consider it a problem.

    Actually addressing population numbers as a problem is taboo, at least in the U.S. I think it is taboo here because of a religious sacred claim that we are here to be fruitful and multiply and dominate over the earth. Also the status quo has been that this subject is not up for discussion. On the contrary politicians can usually be found hugging the religious power base. Incidentally, thanks for giving us the biscuit for loons award (your response to Sharon) and your expansion on why we deserve that "honor."

    I would be a little more encouraged if the U.S. government would simply cancel the huge tax INCENTIVES for those producing more children, let alone making parents more responsibe and reflective about having children.

    The symtoms of overpopulation are not going away, on the contrary they are becoming overwhelming causing more grief than most of us would care to contemplate, or face. These problems will be more undeniable as they show up in our own backyards.

    There could be hope from this new incredible information age as the young can explore knowledge via Youtube, etc. More and more students and the populous are turning to online learning which may serve put biology and natural history more into proper focus. Attitudes can change and in turn could become more effectively shared and expressed in our more liberating electronically connected world. One can always hope.
    • Nov 1 2012: Fanks Dan F.

      Hope my jibes at your country are not DEEPLY offensive, they were not intended to be (seem worse now I read them without the smile on my face).
      • Nov 1 2012: Offensive to some, but your insightful sense of humor is spot on IMO.

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