Managing the limit of human growth
Talk intensifies about the fight for oil among developed and developing nations. Other precious resources join the list ranging from precious metals to one thing we all need to survive and that is water. As the Guardian article describes posted here, the question is less about physically fitting people in as it is about the logistics footprint required to support each of us.
While we are also preoccupied with seemingly more esoteric subjects like global warming, how about addressing the notion of what populations on this earth deserve to survive and therefore deserve scarce resource allocation, and which will be abandoned?
In the USA, we’re already addressing these issues. 475 million homeless people live on the street because collectively we decided 1) it’s their right, their choice, 2) not our fault, 3) not our problem. We are making choices about how to allocate healthcare. We’re deciding to reward financial executives with bonuses while depriving others of basic needs because leadership has decided some of us are more worthy and critically important than others.
Sooner than later in our global economy, our ownership, including the Chinese and Japanese, might want to sit down and have a discussion about who gets what. Is that farfetched? I don’t think so.
“Nobody knows how many people the planet could hold. The UN predicted this week that fertility would decline and longevity would increase until the global population stabilised at nine billion in 2300. Some optimists have argued that the planet could support 1,000 billion; others look at what is happening right now and wish that it had stayed at ancient Roman levels.
Joel Cohen, the Rockefeller University population biologist, argues in a 1995 book (How Many People can the Earth Support?) that it isn't a question like "How old are you?" which only has one answer at any one time. Cohen argues that you could fit one billion people each a metre apart, into a field 32km square. So everybody in the world would fit easily into Yorkshire. But it takes 900 tonnes of water to grow a tonne of wheat, and there is only so much water, so much land and so much sunshine. Human action has its own "ecological footprint"; there has to be so much land to provide food, clothing, shelter, medicines, building material, fresh air and clean water for any one human. It takes, according to some calculations, 2.1 hectares of land and water to provide for one average human. The important word is: average. The American footprint is about 10 hectares. So if all humans lived at US standards, we'd need another four Earths.”
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San Pedro de A, Malaga, Spain