Thursday, September 07, 2006


Nothing like following up a light subject like drug legalization with one on overpopulation. :-)

Whatever your beliefs on religion, politics, the environment, it's silly to deny that we are exerting pressure on our planet merely by virtue of our breeding. If we do not adjust our beliefs to a changing world, we will run out of space, out of resources, out of food. These pressures on territory and resources are causing all the major international conflicts that are going on now. What do we do? Do we change our beliefs to adjust to a changing reality? Not a pleasant thought for some, but I believe it will be necessary.

What does overpopulation stress (in the U.S.):
- our classrooms
- our highways
- our infrastructure (fire, police, rescue, local government)

... The average American's "ecological footprint" -- the theoretical area required to supply everything a person consumes and to deal with the aftermath -- is 269 global acres, almost nine times the footprint of the average person in China and more than 22 times that of the average Indian or Pakistani.

According to their analysis, the ecological footprint of the United States as a nation is bigger than the combined footprints of China, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Russia, which together are home to 3 billion people. So from the planet's point of view, the birth of a single American child has the potential impact of 10 births in those countries.

Jennifer Shawne believes that such statistics should be a consideration in deciding whether to reproduce: "Each child born in this country means further destruction of the planet. Now that argument doesn't really stick with people who are eager to have kids. But for others who are constantly being told by society that they are selfish for not wanting to have kids -- maybe it does help them." -- courtesy of Alternet

The United States, now at nearly 300 million people, is the only industrialized country that has experienced strong population growth in the last decade ...
... Americans consume like no other nation -- using three times the amount of water per capita than the world average and nearly 25 percent of the world's energy, despite having 5 percent of the global population; and producing five times more daily waste than the average in poor countries. -- From Alarm Sounds on US Population Boom

Am I talking about child limits like in China? No. Am I talking about taking responsibility for the strain larger families put on the earth's resources and infrastructure? Yes. Am I suggesting that people change their religious beliefs? Mostly no. Am I starting to sound like Donald Rumsfeld asking himself rhetorical questions? Yes ... I'll stop now.

We are going to have to examine policies that we are using now that are not helping the problem:

- abstinence-only education
- not making readily available the morning-after pill
- religious beliefs that prohibit or discourage contraception
- abortion bans

By no means are Christians beliefs the sole cause of a rising overpopulation crisis in America. But the attitudes of some seems to point that they are not interested in being the solution either (from How Many People is Too Many):
... Campbell (Nancy Campbell) sees no problem. "God made this earth to be inhabited. I have traveled from one side of America to the other, as I am sure you have. You travel for miles and miles and miles of uninhabited land, drive through a city and back to uninhabited land. I think that the God who created this earth knows more than the environmentalists of our day."

... Is Nancy Campbell encouraged that evangelicals are having more kids? "Yes, I think this is a positive trend. I think that Christian people, on the whole, are going to raise more God-fearing and honest citizens who will bless the nation."

Evidently being honest to yourself doesn't count. Maybe the kicker is that it's not just a religious thing, it's a political one. Maybe the intent is to maintain a permanent Republican majority. From Baby Gap: How birthrates color the electoral map:
... States, however, differ significantly in white fertility. The most fecund whites are in heavily Mormon Utah, which, not coincidentally, was the only state where Bush received over 70 percent. White women average 2.45 babies in Utah compared to merely 1.11 babies in Washington, D.C., where Bush earned but 9 percent. The three New England states where Bush won less than 40 percent—Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island—are three of the four states with the lowest white birthrates, with little Rhode Island dipping below 1.5 babies per woman.

Bush carried the 19 states with the highest white fertility (just as he did in 2000), and 25 out of the top 26, with highly unionized Michigan being the one blue exception to the rule. (The least prolific red states are West Virginia, North Dakota, and Florida.)

In sharp contrast, Kerry won the 16 states at the bottom of the list, with the Democrats’ anchor states of California (1.65) and New York (1.72) having quite infertile whites.

Other rationalizations for unbridled breeding by Christians are sad and unintentially hilarious:


Has "be fruitful and multiply" been taken too seriously? Evangelicals consider it an edict. Was the term multiply even properly translated? -- Be Fruitful and Multiply: The most tragic translation error?

It's ironic. By being mindful of the strain we are putting on the planet, we are bringing less potential Democrats into the world. Of course, that is assuming that we take on the politics of our parents. I'm living proof that you don't. Scott will love this ... Though my parents have always voted Republican, I think if they were more active in politics and political theory, they'd be Libertarians. They've always liked living off the grid as much as possible. They have no debt whatsoever and dislike any government interaction in their life. But I digress.

You have all these silly "ban gay marriage" proposals in our state legislatures. Maybe what we need is a "ban straight marriage" amendment. :-)

“Overpopulation” a work by Victor Cauduro Rojas By permission: Global Environment & Technology Foundation

"We have been God-like in our planned breeding of our domesticated plants and animals, but we have been rabbit-like in our unplanned breeding of ourselves." -- Toynbee, Arnold Joseph English historian (1889-1975)


Jewish Atheist said...

It's funny how people forget the rest of that verse: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land." We've filled, we've filled! It's okay to stop now!

dbackdad said...

Good point, JA.

Scott said...

We're running out of water now?


What does overpopulation stress (in the U.S.):
- our classrooms
- our highways
- our infrastructure (fire, police, rescue, local government)

These aren't "resources", they're screwed up Government institutions. Why isn't the supposed over population stressing our private sectors?

Shawn said...

I think that it's a definite reflection on our society. Greed and self interest dominate any concepts of thinking about impact on others...or even caring about impact on others.

On all levels of society - individuals, business, and government there's a more, more, more mentality prevailing.

Individuals just have to have more toys, bigger houses and as many damn kids as they want thank you very much. Business has to have growth or it's considered a failure. And no comment on government's need to constantly expand itself...

CyberKitten said...

I don't think that numbers are as important as how much resources the people use/need. The less we use each, the more people the planet can sustain.

If everyone wants the same standards as the average American though... we'd need a few more Earths... [grin].

dbackdad said...

I think I could say the sky was blue and you'd say it was just a controversy manufactured by liberals. I know you think that you're lending a critical voice but there has to be a point where it becomes counterproductive. Continuing to say that every problem is not occurring does nothing to help that problem. It's a technique that is popular with this administration.

So, in the interest of saving time and saving you trouble, I'll just post a variation of the following comment as the first comment for any of my posts:

Scott said:

Dems do it.

Same thing.

Government is bad.

The private sector and corporations can fix any problem and always have the best interest of the people in mind.

_________ is not real. It's a fabricated problem by the left-wing. (insert any of the following: global warming, overpopulation, water shortage, poverty, pollution)

And, I hope you are joking about the water issue. I hate to shock you, but Illinois is not the center of the universe. There is a tremendous water shortage here in the Southwest. Try going to Yuma and seeing how the mighty Colorado River is a trickle and then tell me that we have plenty of water.

Laura said...

Scott: Not every resource needs to be defined as a consumbable, tangible product. The educational system is a resource that sustains both the economy (by teaching us acceptable behavior and training the next workforce) and our culture (by instilling our values and norms into children) at its very core. Does it need fixing? Sure. So do our policies regarding the use of tangible resources like oil.

There's so much to talk about in this post. But I'd like to touch on the abortion issue: Most abortions are sought and obtained by women who already have one or more children and who cannot sustain another child financially. Due to lack of contraception acces (it's expensive!) or failure of a contraception method, they seek an abortion. US policies placing gag rules on international aid programs so that if they even mention abortion they don't receive funding hurt working class and poor women and families all over the world.

That 101 reasons to have children is hilarious. Good to know that she speaks for every woman, everywhere. My favorites

I'll have more people to love: because loving others over yourself is truly the nature of being a woman in our society.

Children teach me patience: So does John and my dog.


Scott said...

I'm not arguing the importance of education, but as we all know he who defines the terms wins the debate.

Education is not a resource it's a service. In fact, education requires NOTHING outside of two people. A teacher and a student. Of course you can enhance education by adding other things to it, like books, but the act of educating is still a service.

Now water, on the other hand, is a resource. The largest renewable resource in the world in fact. We all know that there is as much water on the earth today as there was last year. Or the year before. Or two thousand years a go. Therefore we know that population (or over population) has no effect on water availability as a RESOURCE.

The problem, in fact, has nothing to do with source. I'm sure none of us believe that the water we buy at the store is bottled from the local river. Water, being a natural resource, is something that is naturally in the PUBLIC domain, that only becomes private property when someone uses their resource (labor) to extract it from nature. That person, be it Government agency or private entity, is now the owner of that resource. If he (Government or private entity) chooses to profit from his resource, or if he simply feels that everyone ought to have some so he should distribute it freely (which, btw, NO ONE does) he must SUPPLY it to consumers. Suppliers and consumers are, by nature, limited entities. That is to say it is possible to have MORE suppliers than consumers or it is possible to have MORE consumers than suppliers.

When there are more consumers than suppliers we have a water shortage. But it really is no water shortage at all, is it? No, in fact it is a SUPPLY shortage.

So Lance, when I come on here and scoff at the idea of such things, I'm not trying at all to be counter productive. It is only that I believe that the thought of a water shortage is QUITE counter productive, as it addresses a NON problem. The problem is supply. Who is supplying most of the world's water? Governments. So yeah, I do blame government for the problem.

I blame government for most of our problems because when I examine the problem I find poor management by the government as the source of the problem. Am I suppose to change what I see simply because there IS a problem? I'm not "lending a critical voice" I'm telling you how I see things. If its' counter-productive to whatever it is you're producing here (in this case trying to produce ideas on how to change the way people live their own lives I guess) then I suppose I'll try to reform my thoughts in the future to better suit this here blog.

As to solving the water supply problem, a "water shortage" in America would probably be just what the World needs to fix the problem once and for all. We seem to be the only country left in the world that turns to innovation and technology, rather than government to save our ass.

Though after watching the last election and the reaction to Katrina I think that's probably changing too.

(All that says nothing of the fact of who is actually using the water. It's not at all a bunch of Christian kids running through sprinklers in suburban Utah. The VAST majority of America's fresh water supply is used by farmers who supply unnecessary crops that don't sell well enough on their own, so GUESS WHO pays them more money to supply the unwanted crops to keep the antiquated farming system around?)

dbackdad said...

We all know that there is as much water on the earth today as there was last year. -- It's specious arguments like these that are popular with global warming and envirnomental doubters. Technically true statements but completely misleading. I'm not a moron. I realize that there is not water going out into space. A water shortage has nothing to do with water disappearing. It has to do with our ability to get to it. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) recently compiled a report that shows the water scarcity of the world. If you would prefer the term "scarcity" to "shortage", then there you go.

Where Water is Scarce

Why I get tired of someone doubting whether every thing is occurring is because I spend more time arguing minutiae with you then on actually figuring out how we can solve problems.

Your bringing up farm subsidies and irrigation actually IS productive. Those are valid concerns. I would have liked to seen them brought up in your first comment instead of your second. It would have saved us time. :-)

dbackdad said...

CK said, I don't think that numbers are as important as how much resources the people use/need. -- That's really the point right there. Obviously the U.S. is not under any impending shortage of space as we don't have the population density of a lot of other industrialized nations. But we become complacent for that very reason. We don't take the steps that those countries have taken to reduce our "footprint". Our love affair with cars is nauseating. I'm going to have a post in the near future on how Phoenix is slowly but surely moving in the right direction with a light rail system.

CyberKitten said...

So far I've never lived more than about 5-10 miles from work. ATM it's about 3 miles so I get the bus there.

I don't even have a car & have never bothered to learn how to drive. I can understand why the need for the car is greater in the USA but I must say that I'm rather surprised by what I've read about the state of your railroads. I would've though the States is ideal territory for 'bullet' trains like in Japan.

Laura said...

Cyber: Excellent point. And btw us too - we have no car. If we have to go out to the woods, we have to rent one though, because our public transit out in the burbs is attrocious and there's no sidewalks. We can take the Metra to the burbs, but there's often no way to get to the final destination without a car. No busses, nothing. Everything is built around the individual automobile and people who live in the boonies and drive 30 miles to work each day or live 3 miles from the nearest grocery store are in for a very rude awakening if we don't start pouring money into public transit and alternative fuels right now.