This has always been an issue that was recognized as a limit to growth in the global population but the advent of some cost effective new technologies is the changing the possibilities. Scarcity was recognized and modeled by British Scholar Thomas Mathus in the 1800′s when he realized that food production is linear and population growth is exponential. In other words, food production cannot grow at the same rate as population and thus somebody is going to go hungry.
The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power the Earth to produce subsistence for man. Thomas Malthus
In 1972 the Club of Rome published the results of a study they performed in a book called The Limits to Growth. The study was a multidisciplinary effort in which worldwide population growth was compared to global resource consumption.
The prognosis was not pretty. Some of their predictions were quite dire and while 40 years later they have not come to pass, we can still find evidence of their conclusions most places that we look in the world.
One in four mammals faces extinction, 90% of the large fish in the ocean are gone, aquifers are drying up and our soil has become too salty from the over use of petroleum based fertilizers and poor management to optimally produce crops. One of the main fertilizers used in crop production, phosphorous, is in short supply.
Too Many People
By the year 2050 there is estimated to be a global population of 10 billion on the planet. There are simply not enough resources to sustain that many people. Some scientists say that the Earth’s carrying sustainable carrying capacity is 2 billion people. Other scientists suggest it’s as low as 300 million. That’s less than the population of the US.
Over the years various societies have tried population control from the Nazi eugenics program to the Chinese attempt at “one child per family” which was supposed to be a blanket program but in reality only applied to little more than a 1/3 of the population of China.
Unlike the plague of the dark ages or contemporary disease, which we do not understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Population control is absolutely crucial. But until we can do that we have to stretch Earth’s resource dramatically further. The primary concept is “use less, gain more.” This concept is about efficiency of resource use, but is it the only answer?
Others suggest that if the pie isn’t big enough, then create more pies. And in fact this latter concept is possible through advances in technology. This happens not by creating new resources but by utilizing renewable resources that we have barely tapped into, such as solar energy that I mentioned in my previous blog.
The planet and humanity is in a radical transformation in which technology has the potential to significantly increase the standard of living for every person on Earth.
Within the next generation technology will be able to provide goods and services to the world that have previously been reserved to the wealthy.
Reason for optimism….ABSOfreakinLUTELY !!!!
While the technology to do this will will predominately come from the western world the implementation will happen by those in the Third World. They will seize the technology and show us in the west how to best use it. They will empower themselves with our help and ALL of us will be better off.
I am completely optimistic about our future and although there appears to be a plethora of conflict and inequities in the world, humanity is actually in better condition than it ever has been, and we will continue to grow, develop and create in ways that are for the betterment of all mankind.
If the the Third World is starting to empower itself, what about you? What are your possibilities for growth and abundance. Share yourself with the world!