• Janus
    9.1k
    This is split from one of the "Systemic Racism" threads. Below is my post and the passage from @StreetlightX it responds to, and then a further response from @StreetlightX.

    "No one expected these protests, the kinds of conversations they opened, the political atmosphere they birthed, the scale of what they are bringing about (perhaps never to be substantiated)". — StreetlightX


    Me: It's the focus point of the much broader, deeper anger of the frustrated "consumer". To be consumers is to be cattle being fattened up for the slaughter. Discussion about sexism, racism, classism and so on is just "rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic". The frustration is on account of the apparent impossibility of coordinated action. We affluent ones are all beneficiaries of the enslavement of others; it's just mostly geographically far away enough for us to remain comfortable.

    We are all being screwed (to varying degrees) by the financial elites, in a system in which we are all hopelessly complicit. We expect our politicians to do something, but our politicians are too cowardly, or stupid, or "in the pockets of the plutocrats" or just plain impotent to do anything, other than make vague promises, about doing "something".

    The angry outrage is the outcry of systemic impotence; it's all noise in a deadly vacuum. Predictably, once some degree of the customary comfort is restored, we will settle back into, as much as resources allow, "business as usual", and we'll do that until resources no longer allow. That is what is coming; whether next year, or in five, ten, twenty or fifty years.

    The greatest problems we collectively face are resource depletion, destruction of habitat, species extinctions, destruction of soils by the industrial agricultural machine that is needed to feed our absurdly over-bloated numbers. But these much more dire (than mere "racism") problems scarcely get a serious mention by our, themselves mostly ridiculously comfortable, public intellectuals. (I'm not excluding myself; I'm ridiculously comfortable too).

    I know this could be thought to be off-topic; but the bigger picture is more sorely needed now than ever before. What are we prepared to sacrifice to address the primary problem of overpopulation? Is there any measure which could be acceptable? Are we even able to talk about it?

    Split this off into another thread if you like: I'd love to hear what the brightest minds have to say about our greatest problems and the one greatest problem that is behind them all; overpopulation.
  • Janus
    9.1k
    You're welcome to start a thread on overpopulation. For my part, I think the refrain of 'overpopulation' is entirely regressive. I don't think it is an accident that the populations that happen to be most 'responsible' for overpopulation are the poor, the dark, and the extremely underprivileged, usually from the global south. 'Overpopulation' is, as far as I'm concerned, classist bullshit. Especially insofar as those populations with the lowest growth rates tend to have the highest environmental footprints. The question of population is a distraction from how to make the world we currently live in liveable for everyone, for which we have plenty of capacity. I won't say any more on this though, 'cause it's off topic.StreetlightX
  • Janus
    9.1k
    Please have at it! (Apologies for the typo in the thread title; I couldn't figure out how to edit it).
  • DrOlsnesLea
    24
    There is reason to believe that all the crime, evil blocks rationality to take steps against Overpopulation.

    Besides, women are squeezed out of their rightful contraception, away from possible emergency abortion and to give births against their will only to fuel the flames of evil, tragedies guaranteed!

    That is, combatting Overpopulation is important but fighting crime, evil needs to take priority in order for the necessary rationality to pave the way for all other problems to fall.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    Does this include ideas like high density living? High density living, as practised in our big cities is a lifestyle. Is that detrimental to cities like huge populations are to nations. Even in countries like India people migrate from rural areas to cities for work compounding existing problems and creating new ones. Over population might be relative to countries. So how many people should particular countries have and how should they be dispersed?
  • Janus
    9.1k
    I'm not quite grasping your point here; could you elaborate?

    As I understand it industrial farming practices, most notably the use of chemical fertilizers, which destroy soils and ecosystems are essential to feed the current population of around 8 billion. One estimate I read (can't locate the source) is that the planet could sustainably (i.e. employing organic farming practices) feed around 200 million, one fortieth of the current population. If this is accurate, this is the primary problem we face.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    As I understand it industrial farming practices, most notably the use of chemical fertilizers, which destroy soils and ecosystems are essential to feed the current population of around 8 billion.Janus

    So is your point of view coming from the idea that we can’t feed the world population, that that’s the primary problem?
  • praxis
    2.4k
    The sadist part of the dilemma, besides the mass extinction of species, is that the modern materialistic consumer lifestyle isn’t all that great in terms of actual ‘well-being’. Greater well-being could be had with far far less material consumption. That would require a major cultural shift, however, and there’s probably not enough time left before the shit hits the fan.

    It’s true that there’s still a lot of capacity, but the cost of the capacity or resource extraction will get increasingly higher as time goes on. All the easy to access cheap energy (fossil fuel) and minerals have been taken. It’s also costly to deal with the effects of climate change and to purify water. Capitalistic economic growth simply isn’t possible when the future is ever more expensive, at least not with the current global financial system.

    Sustainability will require more than depopulation but could have unexpected rewards, if it’s at all possible.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    If this is accurate, this is the primary problem we face.Janus

    If we care about other countries besides ourselves and our alliances?
  • Brett
    2.3k


    Greater well-being could be had with far far less material consumption.praxis

    How would that help India’s population problem for example? They had an imbalance without the modern consumer lifestyle.

    “Capitalistic economic growth simply isn’t possible when the future is ever more expensive ... “

    Edit: what choice does India have to deal with caring for its population?
  • Janus
    9.1k
    So is your point of view coming from the idea that we can’t feed the world population, that that’s the primary problem?Brett

    The point is that we cannot feed the world population sustainably.

    :up:

    Sustainability will require more than depopulation but could have unexpected rewards, if it’s at all possible.praxis

    I agree that it will require (much) more than depopulation; but it will certainly (if the kinds of estimates of how many people can be fed by organic farming practices are more or less correct) require depopulation. The conundrum is how to bring that about, or even discuss it in ways that people can come to accept.
  • Janus
    9.1k
    If we care about other countries besides ourselves and our alliances?Brett

    It's a problem even if we just care about our own for the long term.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    It's a problem even if we just care about our own for the long term.Janus

    I think there’s a difference between managing the resources and population in a country like Australia and Africa or India. Australia could manage it, but India, that’s a different problem.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    I agree that it will require (much) more than depopulation;Janus

    So you don’t think that, in theory, redistribution could change things?
  • Janus
    9.1k
    I'm talking about the problem on a global scale. Of course the problems are worse in some areas than others. Australia exports more of it's produced food than it consumes, so overpopulation in Australia itself may not be so much of a problem. But our farming practices are destroying the soils, causing salinity and desertification, devastation of waterways and ecosystems, etc. And all of that is not even to mention climate change.
  • Janus
    9.1k
    So you don’t think that, in theory, redistribution could change things?Brett

    Redistribution of what?
  • Brett
    2.3k


    What I’m trying to say is that if we could feed all these people without damaging the environment, if that was possible, would you still regard population as a problem?
  • Janus
    9.1k
    No, of course I wouldn't consider it a problem if 8 billion (and the ever-increasing numbers of) people could be fed sustainably. The fact that they (apparently) cannot be fed sustainably just is the problem.
  • praxis
    2.4k


    Same story with China and other countries, I understand. Don’t know.
  • praxis
    2.4k
    One estimate I read (can't locate the source) is that the planet could sustainably (i.e. employing organic farming practices) feed around 200 million, one fortieth of the current population.Janus

    I wouldn’t have guessed the number was that low.
  • Brett
    2.3k


    What are we prepared to sacrifice to address the primary problem of overpopulation?Janus

    So what is the primary problem of over population? And whose problem is it?
  • Brett
    2.3k



    The fact that they (apparently) cannot be fed sustainably just is the problem.Janus


    The greatest problems we collectively face are resource depletion, destruction of habitat, species extinctions, destruction of soils by the industrial agricultural machine that is needed to feed our absurdly over-bloated numbers.Janus

    This is how I see it. Is people starving the problem or the damage it would take to feed them the problem?
  • StreetlightX
    5.9k
    Australians consume roughly 17tons of Co2 per capita; India, 1.73t* - but of course, it's the poor, brown nation that is the problem... This kind of Malthusianism is just racism by another name.

    *World average being about 5t.
  • Janus
    9.1k
    So what is the primary problem of over population? And whose problem is it?Brett

    This is how I see it. Is people starving the problem or the damage it would take to feed them the problem?Brett

    It seems obvious they're both problems. The overarching problem seems to be how to decide what to sacrifice. If we favor saving people now over saving other species and the environment, the long term effect will likely be much worse for all future humanity.
  • Janus
    9.1k
    Of course "developed" nations consume much more, destroy much more biota and habitat and create much more greenhouse gases per capita than "developing" nations. I'm not suggesting it is "poor brown nations" that are the problem at all; quite the contrary.

    Bringing the "poor brown nations" up to our level of lifestyle will obviously greatly exacerbate the problem, though. Are we prepared to come down to their level of lifestyle? And even if we could, how will all the people be fed once we have given up industrial farming practices?
  • Brett
    2.3k


    The overarching problem seems to be how to decide what to sacrifice.Janus

    So the answer is in ethics?
  • Janus
    9.1k
    So what is the primary problem of over population? And whose problem is it?Brett

    Again, it seems obvious that it is (potentially at least) everyone's problem.

    So the answer is in ethics?Brett

    I don't know about the answer "being in ethics", but the problem is certainly an ethical one. Can you think of any answer?
  • Brett
    2.3k


    Again, it seems obvious that it is (potentially at least) everyone's problem.Janus

    First of all I see that as a moral position.

    I don't know about the answer "being in ethics",Janus

    If the problem is ethical then the answer is ethical. Feed everyone now and sacrifice the future. Save the future and let millions die.
  • StreetlightX
    5.9k
    Of course lifestyles are going to have to change. Drastically, by everyone. That's not even a question. But 'lifestyle' is tributary to massive economic and technological changes which will be needed to be revamped on a planet-wide, systematic level, and not simply a nation-by-nation or population-by-population level. We currently overproduce food by an insane margin. The idea that we can't feed the world's poor is a function of shitty distribution practices, shaped by perverse economic incentive structures, not the fact that there are too many people. And not only is 'overpopulation' a totally bogus problem, the kinds of 'solutions' employed to 'fix' it are usually barbarous and execrable:

    "Instead of resolving environmental problems, promoting family planning to save the planet often has deleterious effects on reproductive health and rights. For one, it upholds family planning as a tool to achieve national and international goals like economic growth, environmental sustainability, and national security. At the same time, it points to women’s bodies as appropriate targets for intervention in the name of a greater good.

    The abuses of population control show what can happen when women’s health is second to other, more powerful, agendas. China’s one-child policy, while somewhat relaxed, still strictly regulates and restricts fertility, particularly in cities. In some states in India, two-child norms keep people with more than two kids from sitting on local governing boards or from receiving government benefits. Romani women in Central Europe, and women living with HIV in parts of Africa and Latin America, undergo forced and coerced sterilizations. A 2014 audit of California women’s prisons found that tubal ligations were performed for the purposes of sterilization, sometimes without the consent of the inmate. In this context, endorsing population reduction as an environmental prerogative is abhorrent."

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/01/family-planning-environment-capitalism/
  • Wheatley
    1.2k
    What are we prepared to sacrifice to address the primary problem of overpopulation?Janus
    Who says we can't address the problem of overpopulation without making huge sacrifices?


    There are studies that show that female empowerment results in the decision to have less kids.

    Regardless of the country, more empowered women desire significantly fewer children compared with their less empowered counterparts. https://bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12905-019-0747-9
  • Janus
    9.1k
    First of all I see that as a moral position.Brett

    OK, fair enough, I guess it is a kind of moral position to impute something as a problem to those who may not care about it. It is a problem, though, to anyone who cares about the future of humanity, or even just about the future of their own children or other youngsters they may care about.

    If the problem is ethical then the answer is ethical. Feed everyone now and sacrifice the future. Save the future and let millions die.Brett

    Right, of course any answer has an ethical (or unethical) dimension. But what if the problem is ethically intractable and requires a pragmatic (and, it might be though, unethical) solution whichever way we might go?
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