Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Too few people

Generations have grown up with the idea of the "population explosion". Environmentalists have been accused of being prophets of doom. Bill Gates, Buffett, Ted Turner and other billionaire agree overpopulation is the world’s No. 1 problem. Gates outlined a birth-control system to scale back and “cap the world’s population at 8.3 billion people, less than the U.N.’s forecasts. Gates has been funding research to develop cheap contraceptions for low-income nations in an effort to reduce infant mortality, slow population. Environmental economists warn Earth can’t support even 8.3 billion. In his “Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, warns that our planet can support a maximum of five billion people. Today we have seven billion, two billion too many. And we’re consuming natural resources as if we have “1.5 Earths” says the Global Footprint Network group of scientists and economists. A recent WorldWatch Institute report says: “If everyone lived like the average American, the Earth could sustain only 1.7 billion people — a quarter of today’s population.” The prognosis from such people is starvation, pandemics wars and mass migrations.

Yet some disagree and say the truth is just the opposite that over-population scares are alarmist and on the horizon is a population implosion. Fertility rates are below replacement level (2.1 children per couple) in more than 70 nations worldwide. The world's population 'boom' is not a result of an increase in birth rates, but rather a decrease in death rates. Today more children are surviving into adulthood, while adults are living longer. Governments and business in general fear the ageing population in the developed world as against the youthful world. 

Europe’s population is shrinking, with an overall fertility rate of 1.38; in northern Italy and certain regions of Spain, the figure is less than 1. A UN report suggests that Europe needs 700 million immigrants to maintain its age structure. Russia’s population is declining by the better part of 1,000,000 people per year, despite government efforts to encourage fecundity — such as paying citizens $9000 per child. “In 40 years, the world's largest country by area will have only 100 million citizens instead of the 142 million it has today. Fertility rates are below replacement level even in countries one wouldn’t expect, such as Muslim nations Tunisia, Qatar, Iran, Uzbekistan, Algeria, and Lebanon, just to name a handful. Mexico’s rate (2.27) is still above replacement level but has been declining precipitously during recent times and will continue to fall. Greece is managing only 1.39 children per woman. The lowest fertility rate in the world belongs to Singapore (0.78). By 2050, Japan's population is expected to decrease from 128 million to 112 million, a drop of 12.5 percent. Neighboring South Korea will lose 6.7 percent of its population, or 3 million people. There is a transformation of populations from short lives and large families to longer lives and smaller families.

The world’s population will continue to increase for a time at a steadily decelerating rate, but this trend will reverse around the middle of this century. Moreover, this is something professional demographers have long known. So why do billionaire philanthropists academics and politicians not know it? Of course, there is a problem of over-consumption of certain resources but much of that can be blamed upon the capitalism's priority to accumulate profits by expanding their markets. In a rational socialist world fe would advocate the advertising industry driven consumer society of the USA as an objective. Consuming less is anathema for the disciples of the growth

 The greatest total population increases will be in countries such as Ethiopia, Pakistan and Zaire. The poorest countries generally have the fastest growth: Yemen, Rwanda, Liberia. It is poverty that is the problem to be solved and when removed these countries too will have lower numbers. As people gain more access to resources and become healthier, the infant mortality level drops— parents no longer need to produce many children in hopes that a few will survive to a healthy adulthood and wpmen begin to value their leisure time rather than bear children.  Sub-Saharan Africa is among the places where the population is expected to grow over the next 50 years. By the year 2050, demographers predict there will be 1.7 billion people living there, up from the current estimate of 752 million, a leap from 12% to 20% of the world's total population. Population growth is so fast that they cannot provide services, especially education, health and, employment. African birthrates are the highest in the world due to a variety of factors, certainly the desire for large numbers of children and its population is rural and dependent on the land. But those communities want change.

Regardless though, we already have have the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population right now but fail to because of the capitalist system. The availability of food has greatly increased, even with growing population. Population increase fosters agricultural innovation, which, spurs leaps in production. Overcrowding? This is a problem of density, not population. There's plenty of land available out there. Environmentalists claim that the Earth has a finite supply of resources but human innovation stepped in to provide greater efficiency. More population means more creators and producers, both of goods and of new knowledge and inventions. With 2.4% of the global land mass housing 16% cent of the global population India's massive workforce is seen as the country's greatest resource. India produces 2.5 million Information Technology (IT) graduates a year, plus 650,000 in science and related subjects.

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