Monday, April 16, 2007

The Population Bomb

I was reading The Oil Drum the other day and could not believe the delusional ignorance that was sitting in front of my face. People were all decrying the global oil production rates and any growth in them yet no one even raised one word about population, the underlying driver of all these issues.

You can check the numbers yourself. People believe the spew put out by the government about future population yet from 1980 to 2000 the growth rate was a 1.74%. From 1960 to 2007 it was a steady 1.66%. To reach 9 billion population by 2050, the governments of the world somehow assume that the growth rate of the population will magically shrink from 1.6% steady growth to almost down to replacement near 0.49% on a global scale no less! The US Census bureau postulates global growth rates as low as 0.5%, all of which flies in the face of the steady 1.6% growth we have actually seen.

Global population:
1960 - 3,040,617,514 -
1980 - 4,447,068,714 - 1.92% growth rate from 1960.
2000 - 6,073,265,234 - 1.74% growth from 1960!
2007 - 6,605,046,992 - 1.66% growth rate from 1960.

In 47 years we've seen the growth rate slow by 0.26%. If I slow the growth rate another 0.26% over the next 43 years (to 2050), we end up with a growth rate of 1.4% from 1960 to 2050 and that translates into 10.6 billion people on the planet. In order to achieve even the modest goals that the US census bureau suggests, we must cut the growth rate by more than a whole percentage point in less than 40 years, something that has never occurred in modern history.

Where do you think you are going to put 4,000,000,000 new people (in addition to the 6,500,000,000 already running around)? How are you going to feed them? Where are you going to get fresh water? Adequate housing? Where are you going to flush the sewage? Bury the trash?

This is positively delusional yet here most people sit thinking solely about peak oil, which you freely admit cannot grow much higher, yet you blithely ignore the population bomb ticking on planet earth.

The total casualties caused by WWII were roughly 72 million people, yet population grew over the intervening period from 1930 to 1950 from an estimated 2 billion to 2.5 billion. Even the horrors of the worst world war could not stop a 25% increase in population over the 20 year period encompassing the war.

Yet somehow, without war, without massive education (which is not happening), without police state tactics, global population growth is going to sink to near zero by 2050. And what happens if it doesn't drop to 1.4%? What if it stays near 1.6%? Well, we end up with over 12.6 billion people, that's what!

However, the delusion lives on. People ignore population growth as if it will go away of its own accord. But it won't. It won't go away til we achieve horrors that make WWII look like child's play. And it will go away. You can count on that, even if you refuse to prepare for that. Global population will begin to fall sometime within the next 40 years. I want you to try to imagine falling population. If WWII could not stop population growth, I want you to really try to imagine falling population, what that means globally, and what it might mean to you. Now, do you understand the predicament we are in yet?

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