I really enjoyed that essay with my morning coffee. Thanks.
Yea, the 10 billion person guerilla in the room, that no politician and even fewer environmentalist seem to want to talk about, is population control.
Really it is modern medicine that is going to kill us all. The 'do no harm' thing, is only applied to the individual. What about the rest of us?
Without modern medicine, we would have long ago exceeded our population limits or at least reached some equilibrium.
Think about it. 100 years ago, living past say 40 years old was a major stroke of luck. We doubled the population in one generation, not because of efficiencies, but because we doubled the lifespan of humans. We also eliminated major plagues, and many run of the mill killers. Cancer is not always a death sentence. Way more pregnancies are successful. A minor cut is not going to kill you. Even natural genetic imperfections no longer take their course. Totally possible to have some genetic disorder, and live a very full life. Even one of our great natural killers the flue, is mostly controllable and survivable.
The only natural population constraint we have left is social in nature. We have allocation and limits of food resources perhaps. We still have war. Not much else to work with. We really are only noticing the strain however now, because of artificially imposed economic / political limits placed on places like China, India, and the USSR in the first half of the century. Now that cat is out of the bag, and they can have a 4 bedroom house with an SUV too, the pinch is sudden. There was a sudden infusion of billions of people in to the global economic consumption picture over the last 10-20 years, that previously did not exist.
I recall in China, several friends of mine telling me how when they were kids their families starved. That their grandparents starved to death at home, because they were the oldest in the family. They chose to starve, so the younger people could eat. Those younger (30-40 year old people) now own several houses and apartments, drive cars, their kids are wearing the latest western fashions, eating western imported foods, kids are going to private schools, and so on. They are consuming as much resources as any American family consumes. Waiting in the wings for their chance to join the modern consumer society, are 100's of millions of more Chinese in poverty. I am sure India has a similar situation. Throw in another billion people from the Arab Spring now.
We did not suddenly have more people, we suddenly have more western style consumers. The people were there. Politics and poverty kept their ability to consume in check. Basic economics assumes people have the opportunity to fulfil their wants, needs, and desires; that has simply not been an option for over half of the World's population for most of the last century.
So, if the economist are correct, the only conclusion that can be reached is that scarcity of resources will check the population of the world at the door. War will be result of the political scramble to secure resources. It will not be a nice peaceful, those with the most money win market economy shift. It will be a 'those with the biggest guns and bombs' win. At least until there is an equilibrium reached of some sort. Economist are ignoring their own theory. You can add more resources to the supply, or you can decrease (eliminate) the demand.
Billions of people are going to die. Unfortunately, more vital resources are likely to be consumed in the process. War is not a zero sum game. It is not a sooner or later predication either. It is a borrowed time predication, that should have happened already.
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