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Cassidy

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Member since: Sat Jun 17, 2006, 03:30 PM
Number of posts: 40

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Eventually, nature will make the choice for us.

The tragedy of the commons is the fundamental issue.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

Imagine there is a village of 100 families with a community pasture. The pasture can support 200 cows indefinitely, i.e. 2 cows per family. Each family individually would be better off if they had 3 or 4 cows. But if each family does what is best for them individually, they will destroy the pasture.

Humanity is in the process of destroying the pasture. We can either make the rational choice to limit our individual desires, including family sizes, to allow a sustainable environment, or we can allow ourselves to be destroyed by natural consequences, i.e. pandemics, famine, resource wars, etc. It is not a question of whether the population will be limited, but a question of how and when.

When we discussed the tragedy of the commons in one of my biology classes, we also discussed the Chinese one child policy. My American students were horrified at the thought of the government limiting family size. A Chinese student, an only child, was in my class and she told us that neither she nor any of her cousins were planning to have any children at all because of changing cultural norms. The one child policy wasn't instigated out of thin air, it was instigated to prevent future famines. Freedom to have house full of children has less allure if you are watching your children starve. Of course, there are additional problems with the preference for boys, etc. but the reality is our behavior as individuals has consequences for human population. There is no free lunch.

Our behavior as a species has consequences for the earth. If you disagree, please provide evidence of living populations of passenger pigeons, Newfoundland wolfs, and Xerces blue butterflies as part of your rebuttal.

You are right - human population increase is the fundamental problem

Population growth is a fundamental biological problem. Population growth in "developed" nations is a problem because our economic system is so rapacious. Population growth in "developing" nations is a problem because the rates of increase are so high. Resources, like food and fresh water, are not infinite, although some technologies can stretch them, often at significant cost.

One of my favorite professors discussed the fundamentals here: http://www.albartlett.org/presentations/arithmetic_population_energy_video1.html

Educating women is currently the most direct way to reduce the rate of human population increase. Educated women have fewer children and they have them later.

And no, those of us for significantly reduced human populations do not want people to kill each other or themselves to solve the problem. We want people to have 2 or fewer children. We want the earth to have room and resources for rhinoceroses, tigers, black-footed ferrets, and monarch butterflies, as well as human beings.

We should encourage the reduction in population in rich countries by not allowing tax credits for more than 2 children per family. Since religious ideologies play such a role in excessive increases in population (not to mention politics in general), we should tax churches so they at least financially support their ideologies.

And just the record, I have no children. Concern about the environment was a fundamental reason why I made this choice.
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