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John Taves

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The human population is at the limit. We are killing children by making babies too fast.

The definition of "at the limit" is the situation where the population cannot grow as fast as the birth rate demands. This results in premature death, specifically childhood death.

To understand this, imagine a static environment where a stable quantity of sustenance arrives daily. In that environment if the population is at the limit of how many people that sustenance can keep alive, and the adults average 3 babies, then 1/3 of the children must die. If the adults average 4, then 1/2 of the children must die. Notice that the birth rate dictates the child mortality rate.

This concept does not change if we alter the environment or our techniques for extracting sustenance such that we are expanding the amount of sustenance. In other words we can be in the situation where we are expanding our capacity, but not as fast as the births are demanding, and thus some portion of the child mortality is caused by breeding too fast. This means we cannot use the total child mortality rate as an indicator of whether we are suffering this problem or not.

To prevent this a TwoFourEightPlus system is required. This means no more than 2 children, 4 grandchildren for you parents, 8 great grands for your grandparents, plus some are allowed to have more to make up for others that do not meet TwoFourEight (Note: do not count dead children in this calculation). This system has never existed, thus humans have never controlled their fertility.

Given that humans have existed for a long time, never controlled their fertility, and anything above an average of 2 children attempts to grow our numbers exponentially, we must assume that we are at the limit. Scientists do not assume this. They assume the opposite.

Note, before you supply some comment about how humans limit their fertility, make sure you comprehend the difference between something that lowers fertility and something that will ensure it is low enough such that births are not killing.

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  • Nov 12 2013: I think I do understand, but if the premise is as stated "The definition of "at the limit" is the situation where the population cannot grow as fast as the birth rate demands. This results in premature death, specifically childhood death." Then we have always been at the limit and even more so in the past. If I understand your point correctly, and please do correct me if I don't, then if on average, in the past women had 10 children and only two survived the population was not growing as fast as the birth rate demanded. However in the year 2013 that average is now 8 born and three survive then we are still at the limit. Those are not real statistics but the infant/childhood death rate on average has fallen globally.

    To answer your other two questions:
    Do you understand how to prevent this? A: no no one does that is why it is still a problem, but I bet it has to do with what I mentioned above like education, a womans right to choose when she gets pregnant, education and family planning, growth of the middle class globally, infrastructure etc.

    Do you know of a different mechanism that will prevent hitting this limit? A: yes kill all humans. That is the only mechanism that will solve this outright. However that is not a logical solution nor an ethical one, so how about finding ways to distribute food and clean water like by building out infrastructure and sharing farming techniques and creating legislation that doesn't comoditize food and health since they are necessities to life.

    Sorry if that sounded like I was annoyed cause I was a bit.
    • Nov 12 2013: Yes, we have always been at the limit and more so in the past. Yes, your 10/2 and 8/3 example, which is grossly out of whack with reality, does correctly state the "more so in the past" concept. It also nicely shows that in the past there was nil population growth, and today, exponential growth.

      Regarding how to prevent this, what is wrong with the TwoFourEight concept I described above? I am not saying that I know how to get everyone to agree to this, but this very knowledge is a requirement.

      I want this to be a technical discussion, so I will nitpick on your last paragraph. Killing all humans cannot solve the problem of humans killing other humans. It is not a matter of ethics, it is a matter of logic. But note that if you agree that births are killing children, then that throws a huge monkey wrench in everyone's belief that fertility restrictions are unethical, right?

      Even if we can snap our fingers and distribute food and clean water as efficiently as possible, it will not stop the attempted exponential growth. Rosling's talk, referenced above, extrapolates the low fertility we have seen recently into the future, and paints a rosy future. However, there is no scientific basis for doing that extrapolation. It is no better than extrapolating the flight of a baseball with a straight line. To properly predict future fertility rates scientists must find the groups that average the most babies and are the most successful at passing along the beliefs that cause this high fertility. In other words, Rosling must find the groups that average too many children in spite of having family planning, education, and women's rights in sufficient amounts. Demographers don't do this. (see http://www.ted.com/conversations/10955/the_conventional_wisdom_of_dem.html)

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