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Seven Billion

As you probably know, the world’s human population has just reached seven billion… Or more or less seven billion, considering the missing data and the guesswork required to make such an estimate. Not that the exact date is too important anyway.
Then again, not even hitting this milestone has too much importance in itself, for the most part only making calculations simpler. We know, or at least we should know, that the sheer weight of our increasing numbers makes life on this little rocky sphere we call home worse and worse with every day that passes, for ourselves as well as for the other species we share this planet with. As such, from this point of view, today is worse than yesterday, but better than tomorrow, regardless of the exact numbers involved. Not that the term “better” could be appropriate in this situation, seeing as our numbers have exceeded any potential carrying capacity decades ago.

What more can I say about it? Not much, or at least nothing I haven’t already said. My opinion regarding the issue is very clear: There have been too many humans for at least half a century, and possibly far more than that, and human overpopulation is by far the worst problem this world is facing and the first one we must solve if we are to have any chance of solving the other important ones as well. Without drastically reducing the population, other efforts, especially when it comes to environmental issues, mainly mean lost time and resources, seeing as the sheer size of the population negates a significant portion of the positive effects such efforts could otherwise have.
Of course, as I keep saying, the population shouldn’t be reduced by killing people or allowing them to die due to lacking access to food, clean water, medical services or other necessities. Instead, the reduction should happen naturally, thanks to a very low number of births. That is the goal that needs to be achieved by any means necessary, which almost certainly means draconian population control regulations and equally harsh punishments for anyone trying to have children without approval, regardless of what human rights activists may have to say about it. After all, having a child is the most public and, with perhaps the exception of a few truly extraordinary individuals, who can be proven to possess outstanding natural abilities, also the single worst thing a person can do under the current circumstances, so it’s no more a matter of personal freedom than, say, becoming a serial killer is!

Now there will be people saying that women are already having fewer children and that raising the standard of living and offering education and access to safe and effective birth control will solve the problem, so there’s no need for such drastic measures. In fact, now that it’s being managed by the Population Institute, even the Global Population Speak Out movement is going strictly with that line, appearing to lose even what few radical elements it originally had. Which, of course, only means that they don’t really want to solve the human overpopulation problem, but at best tackle a few humanitarian issues and add the overpopulation element to the discussions simply as a way to feel better about themselves, if even that.
The point is that, as I said, there have been too many humans for a very long time already, so measures that would just slow or even stop the growth are far too little, far too late. They could, possibly, have been enough to prevent this problem from ever appearing if they’d have been applied in full and worldwide no later than the 1950s, but now… Raising the standard of living and offering access to education and birth control are things that must be done simply because they’re right, but they could never have a strong enough effect to be considered solutions to the problem. If we are to avoid the truly terrifying scenarios, the number of births needs to be reduced far, far more than the tremendous majority of humans could ever be willing to accept without a fight, so anyone who truly wants to solve this problem needs to be willing to do what must be done.

To back my words up with some numbers, I’ll go back to that rough estimate that says that the wealthiest 2% of people use half of the world’s resources and the poorest 80% use only a fifth, which leaves 18% to use 30%. To that, I’ll add the most recent estimate, which says that last year we used 150% of what the planet could regenerate in that same amount of time. As such, if we’d take everyone to the average standard of living of the 18%, we’d end up using 250% of what the planet could regenerate! And when you think that the people who make up the 18%, probably including you and me and nearly everyone either of us knows, also tend to be at least somewhat unhappy with what they have and desire more at least in some areas, the problem becomes all too obvious. Or at least it should…
According to these rough estimates, if we are to have a hope of offering a decent standard of living to every single person without using more than the planet can offer, the population would need to drop by a minimum of 60%, so to less than three billion. And that fits, since three billion tends to be the upper limit revealed by the serious studies regarding the planet’s carrying capacity, taking the environment and the other species into account as well. However, keep in mind that this would do nothing to repair the damage already caused, as that would require using significantly less than can be regenerated and therefore also a population significantly below three billion.

In the end, my target remains the same. I’m aiming for two and a half billion by the end of the century, but hope for no more than two billion and would be willing to accept up to a maximum of three billion. And I wish us to reach these numbers without killing people or allowing them to die unnecessarily, but only by very drastically limiting births, perhaps even to the bare minimum necessary to avoid a genetic bottleneck. To that end, no measure, no matter how unpopular, drastic or even truly horrifying, is off the table.


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