2011: The Year of 7 Billion

Comments

1
Couple that with this and basically we're fucked.
2
If the Weather Dominator that I am building in my guest bedroom works, I'll knock that number down to 4 billion or so before I issue my demands. Then, the governments of the world will no I am serious!
3
Mass catastrophes will never mean anything to me again.
4
What is it about lots if breeding brown people that scares you all?
5
@2, nobody's going to take you seriously until you learn how to spell.
6
lrb @1, I'd never heard of Jevons paradox before, but it makes sense in a counterintuitive way, kinda like induced demand for highways. Somewhere in that economic principle lies a profound statement about human nature, that somehow we as humans are incapable of restraining ourselves from consuming as much resources as are out there to be consumed.

It's like my mama used to tell me about the horse. Don't let it get at the feed or it will eat itself to death.
7
lol, "it makes sense in a counterintuitive way", thanks for that, cressona.
9
A big Ponzi-scheme. I probably won't live to see the collapse, but my kids might. This is gonna get really ugly in the not-too-distant future.
10
8/Sargon: As clearly stated, the issue IS NOT one of population numbers but "resource" allocation and distribution.

I don't see how the number of people can't be part of the problem.

The National Geographic clip says, for example, that 5 percent of the people in world consume 23 percent of the energy. Obviously, that is disproportionate use of energy but unless reallocation and redistribution of energy (and other resources) results in an overall reduction in resource consumption then the worldwide per capita use of energy and other resources won't change and an increase in population will increase total energy and other resource consumption.

12
11/Sargon, if by "bad attitude" you mean the desire of those 5 percent to live a "comfortable" lifestyle, then I agree with you. But what makes you think that other people in the world wouldn't love to have that same "comfortable" high-consumption lifestyle if they could? Just look at the huge shift from bicycles to cars in China now that the Chinese are wealthier and can afford cars. How receptive do you think they would be to you scolding them for their "bad attitude" because they want, and can finally have, cars?

I'm not saying the number of people in the world is the only problem. But I'm saying that I don't see how it can't be part of the problem.

14
Sargon, based on what you just wrote, it sure seems that what you see as a "bad attitude" is what other people see as wanting to be "comfortable", have a "decent lifestyle" (or however one wants to phrase it.) Maybe a "spoiled attitude" would be more like it. Yes, people want cars. Not just to drive to work or to shopping but to go skiing, hiking in the mountains, or to concerts at the Gorge. Cars consume energy. People also want to fly on airplanes to visit family and friends and take vacations. Planes consume energy. People want warm homes in winter and, in places that have very hot summers, air-conditioned homes. Maintaining a comfortable temperature consumes energy. Heating our water, and lighting our homes, and refrigerating our food and running our electronic gadgets consumes energy. But all those things are nice. We like them. They make our life comfortable. And then there are the industrial and commercial sectors, which together are responsible for about half of all the energy consumed in the U.S.

And yes, people basically don't want to change how they live (change to a less comfortable life, that is).

And, if people in developing countries could, most would probably want the same comfortable lifestyle we have. You think that people in the favelas of Rio or the slums of Mumbai would continue to live that way if they had the option of a more comfortable, higher-energy-consuming life?

High-resource consumption by people in countries like the U.S. is a problem, yes. But so, I firmly believe, is the sheer number of people on the planet. It took until 1960 for the number of people to reach three billion. That amount doubled in just 39 more years.
15
@13: Yes, Americans could live more frugally. And perhaps cars and computers are a luxury that we all should do without. But one of the most polluting devices we have is the refrigerator. It runs day and night, using a tremendous amount of our home's energy....and keeps food fresh and prevents major food-borne epidemics. It is partially responsible for the great increase in our lifespan. Just about every family in the world wants one. But there simply isn't enough energy production in the world to do it for 7 billion people.
So yes, Of COURSE the number of people is part of the problem!!! Yes, all the people alive now deserve respect and to live. But they DON'T deserve to have more children than do other more responsible people. The most polluting, "bad attitude" selfish thing that anyone can do is to decide that what the world needs most is another copy of themselves (above the replacement level of 2 for a couple). The alternative is nature's way of dealing with overpopulation: epidemics and starvation. The only country that has directly dealt with this is China, and it wasn't (isn't) pretty, but is preferable to the levels of suffering that they were looking at if they didn't.
16
Anyone notice that there's all this attention given to the US in the text (the five percent of high-resource consumers, the expansion of urban populations) but when they at last show pictures all you see are scenes of non-American brown people?
17
@ 16, lots of American cities are full of "non-American brown people".
18

38% lack adequate sanitation.

I guess that depends on what you call "adequate."