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(121 Posts)
carboncareful Tue 04-Oct-11 22:42:05

This month, October, a baby will be born who will bring the population of this planet up to 7 billion.....

grannyactivist Tue 04-Oct-11 22:59:43

Apologies to all - five of the little blighters were mine. I came late to the overpopulation debate I'm afraid! blush

On the other hand they're all hard workers with good social consciences, so hope their presence in the world will not tip the balance too much.

Faye Tue 04-Oct-11 23:13:39

Should we be cheering the 7th billion baby's birth or starting to worry. I think 7BB will be probably be born in squalor and have a miserable life where there is not enough food, education, etc for them. sad

susiecb Wed 05-Oct-11 08:34:08

OMG my husbands hobby horse! I am treated to this debate on a regular basis and on a regular basis I remind him of Malthus checks and balances i.e. natural disasters. His favourite remedy for this country is only giving benefits for the first child after that your on your own!

Baggy Wed 05-Oct-11 09:10:20

If anyone would like to engage their brain on this topic as well as their emotions, chapter nine "Malthus & Co" of Delingpole's new book Watermelons (available on Kindle) is good. And before anyone shrieks at me for a right wing !#*! please remember that I read Lovelock's Revenge of Gaia as soon as it came out as well. Yours in peace and rationality, Baggy.

Butternut Wed 05-Oct-11 09:33:11

Well, I like the idea of engaging my brain (and emotions) Baggy! I have heard of Malthus and his views on population, but haven't read Delingpole's new book, nor Lovelock's. So, as I've mentioned before on another thread, I'm always up for a bit of learning and rational debate. Better get some research done. :~)

Baggy Wed 05-Oct-11 11:39:01

Have fun, butternut! smile Here's a sample from Delingpole (Kindle editiion 'location' 3580) that hits the mark:

"From Tertullian to Thomas Malthus, from Harrison Brown to Paul Ehrlich, from the Club of Rome to James Hansen—every one of the catastrophists who has predicted doom, gloom and disaster for our planet as a result of expanding populations and burgeoning economic growth so far has been proven entirely wrong. Those few brave "Cornucopians" who have dared to venture the opposite view....have so far been proven spectacularly right."

And there are plenty more soundbites about how life expectancy worldwide is steadily increasing (better in some places than others, naturally) and how more people die from obesity-related problems nowadays than from starvation.

Ariadne Wed 05-Oct-11 11:45:10

There's a novel, published in the late 90s, called "Benefits" by Zoe Fairbairns, which I seem to remember was a chilling dystopian story covering these issues. One of a spate of them - about the time of "Handmaid's Tale." Have just ordered a second hand one from Amazon - will report back!

Butternut Wed 05-Oct-11 19:02:05

Well, Baggy - you have given a good link. I don't do kindle - yet - still feeling rather luddite-like regarding books. However, thank goodness for 'google'.
I have my own opinions, but they have not yet been tempered with varied theories!
So as you say, I shall have fun, and I always enjoy a challenge! :-)

Ariadne - looking forward to your report..........

jinglej Wed 05-Oct-11 19:44:42

Wonder if that seven billionth baby has been born yet. He or she will never know it, will they.

I suppose a lot of babies could emerge at exactly the same moment though.

Butternut Thu 06-Oct-11 18:14:19

Having done a little on line reading, (thanks Baggy), I realise that I am nowhere near being informed enough to 'debate' this subject in depth.
Frankly, and simply, I do not believe in the premise that we humans are responsible for global warming. I believe that 'world nature' is evolving in a way that we have no control over, and to try to control this by political/business (read power/control) means is a total hoodwinking of society.
However, I do think we need to respect our individual environment, which will make things better for all those who live in it, through looking at land-fill, energy consumption, recycling etc. Future generations will find their own way....
Quite a ramble, but there you go.......

Baggy Thu 06-Oct-11 18:32:41

Completely in agreement with you, butternut. I think people divide into optimists and pessimists. I'm optimistic that future generations of human beings will be as resourceful and inventive in solving problems as humans have been in the past. That's not an excuse to be wasteful now, but it does mean we can stop the doomsaying and the worrying. Er, no ... correction ... we'll never stop the doomsaying, but we can stop letting it worry us.

If you, or anyone else, is interested in doing more reading, I suggest you check out the site It's a bravely sceptical site interested in all "puzzling things in life" but has links to all the main "lukewarm" and "pro AGW" sites too.

Although the Royal Society (no less) seems to have forgotten its own motto, we can bear it in mind: "Take no man's word for anything" (Nullus in verba) and keep trying to educate ourselves.

Butternut Thu 06-Oct-11 19:12:55

Yes, your comment on the Royal Society's motto holds true for me.

I had a pretty dismal education (no blame, no shame), and remember very clearly the first time I learnt about the concept of 'theory'. It was such an eye opener. Theories abound, but are often confused (and used) as being the truth or otherwise.
I try to remain aware, informed and open minded with a good dose of scepticism thrown in , whilst holding onto my life values and responsibilities.

Thanks for the link info. :-)

carboncareful Fri 07-Oct-11 11:57:39

You can use the following traditional French riddle as another way to illustrate the surprising nature of exponential growth:

Suppose a water lily is growing on a pond in your backyard. The lily plant doubles in size each day. If the lily were allowed to grow unchecked, it would completely cover the pond in 30 days, choking out all other forms of life in the water. For a long time, the plant seems small, so you decide not to worry about cutting it back until it covers half the pond. How much time will you have to avert disaster, once the lily crosses your threshold for action?

The answer is, "One day." The water lily will cover half the pond on the 29th day; on the 30th day, it doubles again and covers the entire pond. If you wait to act until the pond is half covered, you have only 24 hours before it chokes the life out of your pond.

Baggy Fri 07-Oct-11 13:05:52

Recent history of developed nations has also repeatedly shown us another surprising thing: birth rates fall as standards of living go up. There are national and international programmes to improve education (especially for girls — educate the women and you educate a nation. Who said that?), sanitation and health care already in place. Do you know of other solutions to what you see as the population problem, carbon, that are in keeping with acceptable standards of personal choice and freedom? If so, I'd love to hear about them. I daresay some other GNers would too. (They will soon bat me down if I'm wrong about that wink).

Meanwhile I hope you manage to keep your own pond unchoked with weeds. All the best, Baggy

Faye Sat 08-Oct-11 01:27:03

The problem is the nations that have increasing birthrates don't have time or the money or even the care to educate their population.

While the population is getting bigger by the minute, 10.5 billion people expected to be sharing this planet of dwindling resources by 2050. Whether we are okay with this amount of population or not, it will certainly affect us. There is not enough food for all of these people and I wonder if they feel it's acceptable to starve to death.

27.5 million starving Yemenis as unrest intensifies.
1.3 million starving people in drought hit Ethiopia.
3 million starving people in Somalia. Some 1,000 Somali refugees arrive in Dadaab each day. It is the world’s largest refugee camp, hosting over 456,000 people.
3 million people expected to starve this year in North Korea.
10 million people affected by the ongoing drought and famine in the Horn of Africa described by the United Nations as the worst humanitarian disaster on Earth.

I don't understand at all why some people think it's okay and other people feel a dooming sense of urgency!

Baggy Sat 08-Oct-11 08:01:24

If there wasn't enough food, the human population wouldn't be growing. It really is that simple. Just look at nature. For example, in severe winters in Scotland, the deer population crashes because they can't find enough to eat. The same applies to all other animals. Therefore, the cry that there isn't enough food cannot be true. The population explosion in India, for instance, is because food production increased during the last century. I accept that there are areas where there isn't enough food, but these are usually in war zones where people haven't been able to grow food, e.g. at the moment, NE Africa; it's a drought stircken area (has been for a few thousand years) but it's war that has caused the current food shortage. Nobody is saying this is OK but some people (optimists) are not allowing themselves to be bludgeoned into panic by ignorant media hype. Of course we should help where help is needed. Globally we have the resources right now, don't we, to help in NE Africa, but it is the political regimes there (or the anarchy) that are hindering our ability to help those poor people, not lack of food.

Baggy Sat 08-Oct-11 08:31:52

If anyone wishes to be better informed, here is one article (among many) that gives a more balanced view than we are used to hearing:

Ariadne Sat 08-Oct-11 09:19:15

Think it's a Ghanaian proverb, Baggy.

Baggy Sat 08-Oct-11 10:10:36

Sorry to be dim, ariadne wink, but which bit is the Ghanaian proverb?

Joan Sat 08-Oct-11 10:31:41

I would like to see the whole world reach a state of civilisation, whereby everyone has enough to eat, a home, gender equality, a decent job,a chance to reach their full potential, and good health care. When this has been achieved, people will have smaller families, and all these over population worries will cease.

In the third world, the only old age insurance you can have, is your family. Lots of kids means lots of adults to look after you in your dotage. Lots of kids means security through the work they can do.

We all won the birth lottery, by being born in a Western Industrial democracy.

crimson Sat 08-Oct-11 10:46:50

I undertstand the reasoning about having large families in third world countries, especially as the mortality rate with young children is still high, but what about in other countires where people churn out children without being able to support them without the help of the state? Did the way that the Nazis abuse any ideas we have about birth control [which earlier pioneers developed as a way of giving women more freedom etc] cloud our reasoning about population control? Please don't shoot me for saying this; it's difficult sometimes to put an idea across on the internet without it sounding wrong. I'm just playing devil's advocate. Over population worries me terribly and seeing people have child after child without the means to support them concerns me. Every child that's born should have the help of the state to achieve it's highest potential, but that help isn't infinite.

absentgrana Sat 08-Oct-11 11:22:21

crimson Not shooting down in flames, but, just for the record, not all birth control pioneers were concerned with giving women more freedom. Marie Stopes, in particular, was much more concerned about stopping people she considered poor quality material from breeding. Not that this adds anything useful to this thread. hmm

crimson Sat 08-Oct-11 11:49:13

Yes, that's true. I think what I'm trying to say [albeit very badly] is that our ideas on birth control have been clouded by some very very evil people. In the natural world poplulation control is regulated by lack of suitable food but, as human beings that doesn't happen in the same way [except for the aformentioned third world countries]. We are responsible for that control but, sadly, as in with other issues humans can't be trusted to do so without abusing it in some way. We live in such a beautiful world with so much going for us and yet we constantly mess it up by our own greed and lack of compassion for others.

Baggy Sat 08-Oct-11 11:56:45

Hmm. I'm not sure I agree that "humans can't be trusted". What a pessimistic, misanthropic view of our species! However, even if it is true (just for argument's sake) that we, as a species, are untrustworthy, greedy, nasty, resources-grabbing, and planet-wrecking, I still don't think that gives an elite a powerful and rich few the right to tell the rest of us how to behave as if they were gods. That way madness — not to mention cruelty, more greed, more untrustworthiness, etc., etc. — lies.