Thought on Population Growth and Climate Change Discussions

By Jim Bair

Population Growth — all the data I looked at – and there’s a lot – states that while billions more people will live on Earth, the rate of increase will slow down (charts 2 & 3).

I think we are aware that even in our lifetimes, the increase in humans has been so huge as to completely change the planet.  In my lifetime, there are 5.3 billion more humans on earth.  I conclude it has grown so fast the impact of this many humans has yet to be completely comprehended.

Some other scientists posit that 2.5 billion humans is the sustainable number for the Earth.

It’s misleading to think of a decrease in growth rate as encouraging.  By 2100, we will have 3.2 billion more humans, about what the entire world population was in 1960.

Causes of the decrease in rate are only working hypotheses at this time.  But I note that rate is a percentage of a larger number each time it is calculated, hence a lower rate may actually be more human growth per unit time.

It’s also important that the actual growth has not begun to level off, only the projected growth in the next 20 years or so.

One factor in the prediction models must be an increase in death rate which explains the decrease in overall growth rate.

 

The next chart shows the population growth and the projected slowdown in the rate.

Perhaps a stronger variable is the likely increase in the standard of living since the 1700s and certainly continuing through 2100.  Even though a majority of the world does not practice democratic capitalism, they are increasingly engaging in consumption.  Evidently, consumptive growth is the only way capitalism, democratic or not, can maintain itself.

 

The dialectic on climate change is unnervingly dismissive of population growth.  Per capita consumption, mostly requiring petroleum, means per person.  So even if we have lower petroleum use per person, the increase in people is probably going to offset the petroleum lower use.

There are a number of over-arching scenarios, but for this scientist, one is most likely:  massive loss of life due to war, social unrest (fighting for food and resources), pandemics, and loss of habitable (to wit, arable) land.

So, what does one do with such a negative prognosis?  Live in the present and act for the future, and think globally but act locally.  Working with people of like minds and caring is a present….

Reviewing several sources, I found this one to the the best: https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth [it seems more independent and objective than government sources].

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