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The great red herring of overpopulation - Part 3

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Policywonk
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http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2011/11/is-seven-billio...

David Suzuki actually doesn't answer the question, and he seems to agree with and link to an article by Angus and Butler, which I find excellent. Exponential population growth is occurring, but the rate of growth is decreasing, and population can only be stabilized by concentrating on improving human welfare, not profits. Under business as usual (concentrating on increasing profits at the expense of human welfare and environmental sustainability) a die-off will likely occur and human populations may never stabilize (extinction).

http://www.grist.org/population/2011-10-26-is-the-environmental-crisis-c...

 

 


Fidel
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M. Spector wrote:

Fidel wrote:

I believe we can all agree that countries where grinding poverty and hunger define the way of life there are more likely to be fertile ground for uncontrolled population growth. And misery along with it. And many of those countries are typically corrupt and were most likely politically affiliated with some group of countries or another during the cold war and even today.

Grinding poverty and higher fertility rates are connected. The poor want more children, because having babies is all the power in the world they have. What they know is that infant mortality rates are high, and that the more often they try the more successful they may be for having a large, multi-generational family. Why would they need a large family if they are poor? Doesn't it mean a bigger grocery bill at the local Metro food store? Doesn't having a larger family in those countries translate to whopping bills for parents paying the kids' way through university? Why on earth would desperately poor people want to have as many children as possible? It's a mystery.

The spark of life is a total mystery to capitalists and their apostles alike. Capitalists and their political hirelings do not understand people in general as a rule.

We should be careful about falling into uncritical acceptance of popular "wisdom" about poverty and fertility rates. There are countries where there is a positive correlation between family size and income or wealth. Humans do not, as a rule, breed mindlessly.

 

And I did not mean to say that people breed mindlessly. They breed for a purpose and have been doing it for millenia. Scientists have observed that people have children as a form of security. They need a large family to help with the farming and chores, and hopefully their children and grandchildren will look after them into old age. For millenia, there was no socialism ie. no public pensions or government amenities, public services etc. People in piss-poor capitalist countries have nothing, basically. They have nothing except the power to have children, and they will not give up that power soon. Today it's more like needing children to contribute by begging on the streets as the world's poorest are pushed off the most arable lands to inner city ghettos, the peripheries and mountain sides where life is generally harder still. The new liberal capitalism has created waves upon waves of refugees escaping third world, cash crop capitalism where profit takes precedence over basic human rights. With the neoliberal ideologically-driven value system, corn for ethanol and cattle feed are more valuable than human lives. Life and basic human rights take a back seat to profit always, and this is not only immoral, it is amoral. Those who work for the world's neoliberal institutions: the IMF, World Bank, WTO etc know full well how many millions will starve to death and die in agony of malnutrition and related diseases every year yet they insisit on poor countries abiding by free market diktats. Billions of human beings need socialism, and the rest of the world should want them to have it. But for now, having children is totally serious business for the world's poorest not living very well on $2 dollars a day and even less than a dollar a day.


M. Spector
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That article has generated some buzz, both pro and con, and it's been translated into French.

Ian Angus has followed it up with a further article on his website, Climate and Capitalism, to respond to what he perceives as a "blind spot" that many greens have about class: Population, consumer sovereignty, and the importance of class.

Quote:
The most frequent criticism from Grist commenters accuses us of failing to understand that consumer desires drive the economy, that corporations are just responding to our demands, expressed through the market. The system isn’t at fault, “we” are.


M. Spector
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Too Many Of Whom And Too Much Of What?
Posted on January 13, 2010

What the new population hysteria tells us about the global economic and environmental crisis, and its causes.

A No One Is Illegal discussion paper [download PDF here]

Quote:
Throughout 2008-9, as banks collapsed, credit bubbles imploded, and the reality of climate change penetrated even the innermost comfort-zones of neoliberalism, mainstream media sprouted headlines, leader articles and commissioned features declaring that the real, urgent problem facing the planet is not its economic system, but its human population. Moreover, oppressive “liberals” had turned population into a “taboo subject”, which must be challenged. It is no longer just a matter of controlling people’s movement; it is a matter of controlling their existence....

In early 2009, the Optimum Population Trust’s annual conference got headline media billing. Its patron Jonathon Porritt (also an adviser on green issues to UK premier Gordon Brown) announced that “the UK population must fall to 30m” and the world as a whole must somehow lose over 3 billion people. In April 2009, Britain’s best-loved TV naturalist, David Attenborough, joined the Optimum Population Trust himself, and declared population growth “frightening”.


Northern Shoveler
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Policywonk wrote:

Humanity does need a revolution, which doesn't necessarily mean a violent one, but more of a social one.

Couldn't agree more. The Occupy movements might just be the seeds of such a social revolution.  Only time will tell.  

I watched a good documentary on coyote control a couple of years ago. I think the "Trickster" has lessons to teach us humans. Apparently the best way to control a population is to feed them regularly. The birth rate of the females then drops naturally to sustainable levels.  However if the coyotes populations are under attack the female reproduction cycles and number of pups increase quickly to offset any decline.

Subject people to an economic model that attacks their families ability to prosper and humans fertility rates sky rocket. The more equitable the society it seems the easier it is to control population growth. The Trickster model of birth control doesn't require anything except sharing the resources and there is no doubt as poverty decreases in human societies so does the birth rate.  


M. Spector
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John Bellamy Foster wrote:
We need an ecological and social revolution. We have all the technologies necessary to do this.  It is not primarily a technological problem, because the goal here would no longer be the impossible one of expanding our exploitation of the earth beyond all physical and biological limits, ad infinitum. Rather the goal would be to promote human community and community with the earth. Here we would need to depend on organizing our local communities but also on creating a global community -- where the rich countries no longer imperialistically exploit the poor countries of the world.

You may say that this is impossible, but the World Occupy Movement would have been declared impossible only a month ago.

Source


M. Spector
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An example of an officially "voluntary" sterilization program:

Quote:
In the 1940s light manufacturing industries began to move in [to Puerto Rico] from the U.S. mainland, attracted by cheap labor and low taxes. Young women were a key and “docile” part of that labor force, but subject to “loss” (from the employer's point of view) due to pregnancy. The result was a massive sterilization campaign carried out by the local government and the IPPF [International Planned Parenthood Federation], with U.S. government funding.

Women were cajoled and coerced into accepting sterilization, often not even being told that the process wasn't reversible. The result was that by 1968 one-third of the women of childbearing age had been sterilized. The combination of mass sterilization and heavy out-migration due to a declining economy caused the population of Puerto Rico to actually drop―with no resultant improvement in living standards, or the environment.

World Hunger: 12 Myths, p. 37.


Fidel
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Jeez, they were really treating them like so much cattle then. Fascist bastards.


M. Spector
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From a review of the book Too Many People?:

Bryan Walker wrote:

Whether there are too many people on the planet is not a question which can be lightly answered, say the authors. They agree that infinite growth is impossible on a finite planet, but consider it untenable to jump from there to the conclusion that the environmental crisis proves that we have exceeded the maximum number of people the earth can support. The high level of greenhouse gases points not to there being too many people but to the need to change human activity. Greenhouse gas emissions are not correlated with population growth.  Almost all of the population growth is occurring in countries with low emissions but almost all of the emissions are produced in countries with little or no population growth.

On the question of food shortages being due to overpopulation the authors argue that there is sufficient food but the existing global food system is grossly inequitable, wasteful and inefficient, preventing the food being available to hungry people.  To those who claim that the only way to feed so many people will be by industrial farming which carries environmental hazards with it, they argue that there is evidence that ecologically sound farming is in fact able to feed projected mid-century levels of population.  In an interesting discussion they cite the findings of the Agrimonde project [4-page .pdf] as offering reasons for optimism, albeit against the likelihood that giant corporations will resist conversion to ecological agriculture and unabated climate change could harm many crops.


M. Spector
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The roots and impact of apocalyptic thinking in American environmentalism

A TEDxTalk by Betsy Hartmann on YouTube, 15 minutes.


Gaian
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Labeling all discussion of the three central issues as "apocalyptic thinking", ignoring the work of scientists while suggesting it all flows from the fundamentalist and evangelicdal camps, is distortion on a grand scale. Sort of a red herring, as it were. And someone really should advise them to change the Dresden date from September, 1945.

M. Spector
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Population and Climate Change

Quote:
An additional concern however, is that as countries such as China, India and Brazil grow in prosperity, there will be large populations with purchasing power, consuming more goods and services, thus making more demands on the planet.

Indeed, many environmentalists have constantly noted that if such countries were to follow the style of development that the rich countries used and emulate them, then our planet may not be able to cope much longer.

Yet, as also noted in this site’s population section, researchers have found that depending on what variables you factor in, the planet can support an extremely large population, or an extremely small one. These ranges are ridiculously wide: from 2 billion to 147 billion people! Why such variance? It depends on how efficiently resources are used and for what purpose (i.e. economics).

There are concerns, however, that many developing countries are pursuing the same path to development that the current industrialized countries have, which involved many environmentally damaging practices. Ironically much of the advise and encouragement to follow this path comes from the western economic schools of thought. There is therefore an urgent need to focus on cleaner technologies and an alternative path to a more sustainable form of development.


Policywonk
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M. Spector wrote:

Population and Climate Change

Quote:
An additional concern however, is that as countries such as China, India and Brazil grow in prosperity, there will be large populations with purchasing power, consuming more goods and services, thus making more demands on the planet.

Indeed, many environmentalists have constantly noted that if such countries were to follow the style of development that the rich countries used and emulate them, then our planet may not be able to cope much longer.

Yet, as also noted in this site’s population section, researchers have found that depending on what variables you factor in, the planet can support an extremely large population, or an extremely small one. These ranges are ridiculously wide: from 2 billion to 147 billion people! Why such variance? It depends on how efficiently resources are used and for what purpose (i.e. economics).

There are concerns, however, that many developing countries are pursuing the same path to development that the current industrialized countries have, which involved many environmentally damaging practices. Ironically much of the advise and encouragement to follow this path comes from the western economic schools of thought. There is therefore an urgent need to focus on cleaner technologies and an alternative path to a more sustainable form of development.

I'm fairly sure the low end of the range 2 to 147 billion is too high (actually other sources quote a range of half a billion to 800 billion!) and high end ridiculous in any realistic scenario. I expect that the assumptions used to allow a carrying capacity of 147 billion are questionable. I think that without the present economic system we wouldn't have 7 billion people in the first place, and we can't support 7 billion people (let alone more) sustainably within the present economic system. It doesn't merely depend on how efficiently resources are used and for what purpose; it depends on how efficiently they have been used and for what purposes up to now.


M. Spector
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Policywonk wrote:

I think that without the present economic system we wouldn't have 7 billion people in the first place, and we can't support 7 billion people (let alone more) sustainably within the present economic system.

I don't disagree with this. That's why changing the economic system is the only solution to preserving and restoring the planet's ecology.

Joel E. Cohen wrote:
Estimates made in the past half a century ranged from less than one billion to more than 1,000 billion. I learned that these estimates are political numbers, intended to persuade people either that too many humans are already on Earth or that there is no problem with continuing rapid population growth. By contrast, scientific numbers are intended to describe reality. Because no estimates of human carrying capacity have explicitly addressed the questions raised above, taking into account the diversity of views about their answers in different societies and cultures at different times, no scientific estimates of sustainable human population size can be said to exist.

Beyond Population: Everyone Counts in Development, p. 23


M. Spector
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World population explosion not to blame for environmental crisis

A rabble.ca "podcast network" interview with author Ian Angus.


M. Spector
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Katie McKay Bryson & Betsy Hartmann wrote:

Each time the planet’s biggest consumers are told that poor women’s fertility shares even equal blame with their own actions, we lose momentum toward solving environmental crises. To build a movement that can grow beyond apocalyptic panic, we need a rigorous political ecology that does not lump all humans into one big destructive category. We need to ask which people and what systems of production, consumption and distribution are harming the environment and why – and also which are helping.

We need to understand the complex interactions between different groups of people, their environments, and the property regimes that determine control over natural resources. The study of population is not just about population growth, but age structure, gender composition, density, migration, and more. This political ecology approach is not some “old school wing of post-Marxism.” It’s transformational, and has deeply influenced the study of biodiversity by a new generation of conservation biologists....

History matters. For over a hundred years, ‘overpopulation’ has justified the violation of the reproductive and human rights of people of color through eugenics and population control programs. In the U.S., African Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans have suffered the most from forced sterilization and other forms of reproductive oppression. In the Global South, population control programs funded through international aid agencies have similarly targeted poor communities of color.

Source


M. Spector
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Facts for Working People

Quote:
I recall as a young kid in Catholic school in Britain and the "too many kids" argument being used to explain why Irish people were so poor.  Too many children, too stupid, dirty, ignorant etc.  That the country was one of the first colonies of the rising British capitalist class which meant the ownership of the land was in foreign hands so Ireland was but a source of cheap Labor and cheap food for export by British concerns was never brought up.  Hundreds of years of occupation, plunder and a racist war by British capitalism is why Ireland remained an impoverished country way in to the 20th century....

The problem is not that the need for food is greater than human society and the planet's ability to provide it. The problem is in the way food production is organized; there's plenty of food but it is not for those that need it.  Capitalist food production is inefficient and wasteful. Food is a commodity just like a car or a refrigerator.  The reason whole societies in the third world are incapable of providing basic health care or of eliminating diseases that were eliminated long ago in the advanced capitalist countries is because there is no profit in investing in such things.  As one author points out, "Food goes to those who have money to buy it."  But even in the US, capitalism cannot provide these things.

Not everyone espousing the populationist argument is a racist or hates the poor.  Some may well believe that they are helping the poor in the long run.  But when I was watching the video above it confirmed in me the need to take these ideas up very strongly because, as we wrote earlier, the too many babies argument blames the victims.  India does not have mass hunger or mass poverty because women are having too many children. India is poor for the same reason the Congo, a resource rich country is poor, because of a couple centuries of colonialism and the continued existence of an economic system where production is set in to motion for the sake of profit.


Fidel
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I think that another of democratic capitalist India's problems is that women are basically non-people. There are millions of women living in the streets of India's cities after their husbands have essentially thrown them away, or traded them in for newer models. An Indian taxi driver once said that India is a place where people seek justice their entire lives and never find it.


M. Spector
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William Ryerson Still Perpetuating the "Overpopulation" Myth

Quote:
Global warming will adversely affect the world’s poorest, the global south, women, and people of color most harshly. Addressing global warming will take major social changes at the roots of issues that underscore the inequalities suffered by these populations.

So then why do groups supposedly working for reproductive rights, environmental protection, and new economic models continue to be blindsided by the idea that the source of problems in our societies somehow stem from pregnant women in the global south?

There are real culprits behind the social problems that movements like climate justice advocates and the Occupy movement seek to address. They are the powerful actors in society in control of tar sands extraction, off shore drilling, mountain top removal, and the rest of the extraction industry. Why not single out those groups in these times when change is so urgently called for, as opposed to rallying around the myth of "over population"?

Examining the positions of one such advocate of population reduction might lead us to some kind of explanation. Whether in or out of the Tanton Network, William Ryerson has been all over the Internet crying fire at a world population of 7 billion. In an interview he gave around Halloween, Ryerson said:

Quote:
Some biologists feel that after oil and fossil fuels are gone, the planet could sustain 2 billion people in a Western European lifestyle. At the Ethiopian lifestyle, we could maybe sustain 10 billion people. The question is which kind of life we want.

So which is it Ryerson? So much for his facade of caring about reproductive and sexual health and rights. Those goals are fundamentally different than what is happening here: scrambling for the remaining resources to sustain the current lifestyles of people in the global elite.

As Betsy Hartmann writes on the phenomenal discursive gymnastics at play in arguments like Ryerson’s, which supposedly combine the preservation of class and global power interests (and imply racial ones, as well) with reproductive rights:

Quote:
The assumption is that we live in a win-win world where there’s no fundamental contradiction between placing disproportionate blame for the world’s problems on poor women’s fertility and advocating for reproductive rights and health.

What is particularly offensive is the way these arguments are further bastardized to encompass anti-immigrant politics. In fact William Ryerson’s former home at Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR) has even called for an immigration moratorium, a policy that is patently far-right, and would adversely affect thousands of families here in the United States.


M. Spector
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Quote:
WASHINGTON—Saying there's no way around it at this point, a coalition of scientists announced Thursday that one-third of the world population must die to prevent wide-scale depletion of the planet's resources—and that humankind needs to figure out immediately how it wants to go about killing off more than 2 billion members of its species.

Representing multiple fields of study, including ecology, agriculture, biology, and economics, the researchers told reporters that facts are facts: Humanity has far exceeded its sustainable population size, so either one in three humans can choose how they want to die themselves, or there can be some sort of government-mandated liquidation program—but either way, people have to start dying.

And soon, the scientists confirmed.

"I'm just going to level with you—the earth's carrying capacity will no longer be able to keep up with population growth, and civilization will end unless large swaths of human beings are killed, so the question is: How do we want to do this?" Cambridge University ecologist Dr. Edwin Peters said. "Do we want to give everyone a number and implement a death lottery system? Incinerate the nation's children? Kill off an entire race of people? Give everyone a shotgun and let them sort it out themselves?"

"Completely up to you," he added, explaining he and his colleagues were "open to whatever." "Unfortunately, we are well past the point of controlling overpopulation through education, birth control, and the empowerment of women. In fact, we should probably kill 300 million women right off the bat."

Because the world's population may double by the end of the century, an outcome that would lead to a considerable decrease in the availability of food, land, and water, researchers said that, bottom line, it would be helpful if a lot of people chose to die willingly, the advantage being that these volunteers could decide for themselves whether they wished to die slowly, quickly, painfully, or peacefully.

Additionally, the scientists noted that in order to stop the destruction of global environmental systems in heavily populated regions, there's no avoiding the reality that half the world's progeny will have to be sterilized.

"The longer we wait, the higher the number of people who will have to die, so we might as well just get it over with," said Dr. Chelsea Klepper, head of agricultural studies at Purdue Univer­sity, and the leading proponent of a worldwide death day in which 2.3 billion people would kill themselves en masse at the exact same time. "At this point, it's merely a question of coordination. If we can get the populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Beijing, India, Europe, and Latin America to voluntarily off themselves at 6 p.m. EST on June 1, we can kill the people that need to be killed and the planet can finally start renewing its resources."

Thus far, humanity has been presented with a great variety of death options, among them, poisoning the world's water supply with cadmium, picking one person per household to be killed in the privacy of his or her home, mass beheadings, and gathering 2.3 billion people all in one place and obliterating them with a single hydrogen bomb.

Sources confirmed that if a death solution is not in place by Mar. 31, the U.N., in the interest of preserving the human race, will mobilize its peacekeeping forces and gun down as many people as necessary.

"I don't care how it happens, but a ton of Africans have to go, because by 2025, there's no way that continent will be able to feed itself," said Dr. Henry Craig of the Population Research Institute. "And by my estimation, three babies have to die for every septuagenarian, because their longer life expectancy means babies have the potential to release far more greenhouse gases going forward."

While the majority of the world's populace reportedly understands this is the only option left to save civilization, not all members of the human race are eager to die.

"I personally would rather live, but taking the long view, I can see how ensuring the survival of humanity is best," said Norwich, CT resident and father of three Jason Atkins. "I guess if we were to do it over again, it would make sense to do a better job conserving the earth's finite resources."

"Hopefully, the people who remain on the planet will use the mass slaughter of their friends and loved ones as an incentive to be more responsible going forward," he added.

- The Onion


M. Spector
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"Scarcity" as political strategy

Quote:
Whenever global environmental crises, Third World poverty or world hunger are at issue, economists, demographers, planners, corporate financiers, and political pundits (at least in the North) have frequently invoked human numbers, whether gratuitously, cynically or for the most part subliminally. Reports on the economy and politics of Southern countries — invariably the “problem” of population is deemed a Southern problem — have begun by citing population figures, even though these may have little or no relevance to what follows. But the figures once cited frame the subsequent discussion, skewing the identification of both problems and solutions. The message remains the same: too many people.

Such Malthusian images and thinking — too many people outstripping supply — have not gone unchallenged, however. On the contrary, meticulous political attention to what is actually happening on the ground has invariably located the causes of hunger not in an absolute scarcity — no food at all — but in socially-generated scarcity — not enough food for some people in some places because other people have the power to deny others access to food, land and water.

Such power imbalances lie at the root of the manufactured scarcity that is the hallmark of food poverty, whether yesterday’s or today’s. An incomplete list of such imbalances might include: the enclosure of commons, lack of access to land, unequal gender relations, ethnic and racial discrimination, sexism, intra-household inequalities, denial of human rights, the political exploitation of famine, agricultural modernization, market liberalization, and ecological degradation.

Rooting deprivation firmly and squarely in power relations provides proof — if proof was needed — that no matter how much food is produced or water harnessed, how few babies are born or how dramatically human numbers fall, it is the nature of inequity remorselessly to generate “scarcity.” Without changes in the social and economic relationships that currently determine the production, distribution and consumption of food and water, there will always be those who are judged “surplus to requirements” and who are thus excluded from the wherewithal to live. The human population could be halved, quartered, decimated even, yet hunger would still remain. So long as one person has the power to deny food to another, even two people may be judged “too many.”


M. Spector
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Fred Magdoff wrote:
Now let's forget ideology for a minute. If you are very concerned about the issue of global resource use and environmental degradation, as I and so many others are, these numbers lead to an absolutely inescapable conclusion. Trying to reduce the population of poor people will not help deal with this at all. It is the wealthy of the world that are overwhelmingly responsible for the resource/environmental problems we face.

Given this reality, here is my Modest Proposal.

The world ecosystem and its people desperately need a reduction in the consumption by the richest 10%. I, therefore, propose the following programs for immediate implementation:

• enforce either a "no-child" or a "one-child" policy on the wealthy;
• immediately introduce a 100% inheritance tax on the wealthy; and
• lower the income of the wealthy by having a very modest maximum compensation (analogous to a minimum wage).

Following these prescriptions, we can rapidly reduce approximately half of all resource use and pollution in the world. The previously wealthy would then either disappear (as they die out) or live a life in which they consume at the rate of the average person in the world.


Fidel
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The information in that graph is offensive and disgusting. It's no wonder they hate us for our freedoms.


M. Spector
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I thought you were going to say they hate us for our typographical errors.

Apparently the "V" key is stuck on the Monthly Review keyboard.


M. Spector
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Judy Deutsch reviews Too Many People? in Canadian Dimension:

Quote:
Ian Angus and Simon Butler ’s new book about population control, or “populationism” in the widest sense, is invaluable for people concerned about climate change, climate justice, environmental racism, and system change. Angus and Butler are clear about the urgency of drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and that there is simply not time for the detours, deflections, and damage caused by “population bomb” theories. Too Many People? is also good historical analysis: it exposes the illogical and unfounded assumptions about people that so persistently paralyze action on climate change....

This carefully researched and reasoned book is full of critical information that is too often neglected: “the vital correlation-or-causation distinction is rarely observed in arguments that claim to show population growth drives environmental destruction.” Examples of simplistic population assumptions are manifold. Reduction in China’s rate of population growth does not correspond with China’s increased rate of emissions — there are obviously many other factors. Barry Commoner, the first challenger of Ehrlich’s “population bomb” theory, points out that US greenhouse gas emissions far exceeded US population growth. A careful study of increased US car use did not correspond in any simple way with population growth, but with the emergence of two-car families when US suburban housewives joined the workforce and needed a car to get to work.

There are many gems in this book: the fallacies of blaming the consumer, such as Greenpeace blaming consumers for the Exxon Valdez; the fallacy of using “we” to make simplistic generalizations about human behaviour which obscure the institutions and people truly responsible; Garrett Hardin’s profound misanthropy (too many people “using the commons as a cesspool,” requiring “relinquishing the freedom to breed”); the top-down approach to women’s reproductive rights and the fascistic methods to reduce population in India, Peru and China, supported by the World Bank and by the United States. Even if there were a direct correlation between population and emissions such as suggested in the IPAT formula (Impact=Population times Affluence times Technology, in which each person is an equally emitting unit), reducing population could never occur quickly enough to sufficiently reduce emissions, except through mass executions. Populationists generally focus on the poorest people (generally women of colour), whose greenhouse gas emissions are lowest.


Policywonk
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M. Spector wrote:

Judy Deutsch reviews Too Many People? in Canadian Dimension:

Quote:
Ian Angus and Simon Butler ’s new book about population control, or “populationism” in the widest sense, is invaluable for people concerned about climate change, climate justice, environmental racism, and system change. Angus and Butler are clear about the urgency of drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and that there is simply not time for the detours, deflections, and damage caused by “population bomb” theories. Too Many People? is also good historical analysis: it exposes the illogical and unfounded assumptions about people that so persistently paralyze action on climate change....

This carefully researched and reasoned book is full of critical information that is too often neglected: “the vital correlation-or-causation distinction is rarely observed in arguments that claim to show population growth drives environmental destruction.” Examples of simplistic population assumptions are manifold. Reduction in China’s rate of population growth does not correspond with China’s increased rate of emissions — there are obviously many other factors. Barry Commoner, the first challenger of Ehrlich’s “population bomb” theory, points out that US greenhouse gas emissions far exceeded US population growth. A careful study of increased US car use did not correspond in any simple way with population growth, but with the emergence of two-car families when US suburban housewives joined the workforce and needed a car to get to work.

There are many gems in this book: the fallacies of blaming the consumer, such as Greenpeace blaming consumers for the Exxon Valdez; the fallacy of using “we” to make simplistic generalizations about human behaviour which obscure the institutions and people truly responsible; Garrett Hardin’s profound misanthropy (too many people “using the commons as a cesspool,” requiring “relinquishing the freedom to breed”); the top-down approach to women’s reproductive rights and the fascistic methods to reduce population in India, Peru and China, supported by the World Bank and by the United States. Even if there were a direct correlation between population and emissions such as suggested in the IPAT formula (Impact=Population times Affluence times Technology, in which each person is an equally emitting unit), reducing population could never occur quickly enough to sufficiently reduce emissions, except through mass executions. Populationists generally focus on the poorest people (generally women of colour), whose greenhouse gas emissions are lowest.

I=PAT does not mean each person is an equally emitting unit, but it does imply that population is as important as affluence and technology, when in fact tecnology affects affluence which impacts population (they are not independent variables), hence the equation is not particularly useful). It is correct to say that reducing population could never occur quickly enough to sufficiently reduce emissions and that the only viable option is for the rich to reduce their consumption.


M. Spector
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Policywonk wrote:

I=PAT does not mean each person is an equally emitting unit

It does assume that each person is an equally consuming unit, which is pretty much the same thing.

As discussed in the free excerpt from the book that is linked to in post #6 above, the "A" in I=PAT stands for per capita affluence, income level, or consumption, expressed in per capita share of GNP. By using a per capita average, it treats each person represented by "P" as an equally consuming - and thus emitting - unit. And the proponents of I=PAT use it falsely to "prove" that as population increases (or decreases), consumption (or "affluence") increases or decreases in the same proportion.

As the book says:

Quote:
In fact, IPAT isn't a formula at all - it is what accountants call an identity, an expression that is always true by definition. Ehrlich and Holdren didn't prove that impact equals population times affluence times technology - they simply defined it that way. Not surprisingly, their definition was based on their opinion that population growth is the ultimate cause, the universal multiplier, of other problems...

The book also points out the fundamental fallacy of I=PAT, which is that A is a "per capita" GNP number, so that P × A simply grosses A back up to the total GNP.

If A = GNP ÷ P, then P × A = GNP

Thus "population" drops out of the I=PAT "formula" altogether, and it becomes I = GNP × T !

 


Policywonk
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Joined: Feb 6 2005

M. Spector wrote:

Policywonk wrote:

I=PAT does not mean each person is an equally emitting unit

It does assume that each person is an equally consuming unit, which is pretty much the same thing.

As discussed in the free excerpt from the book that is linked to in post #6 above, the "A" in I=PAT stands for per capita affluence, income level, or consumption, expressed in per capita share of GNP. By using a per capita average, it treats each person represented by "P" as an equally consuming - and thus emitting - unit. And the proponents of I=PAT use it falsely to "prove" that as population increases (or decreases), consumption (or "affluence") increases or decreases in the same proportion.

As the book says:

Quote:
In fact, IPAT isn't a formula at all - it is what accountants call an identity, an expression that is always true by definition. Ehrlich and Holdren didn't prove that impact equals population times affluence times technology - they simply defined it that way. Not surprisingly, their definition was based on their opinion that population growth is the ultimate cause, the universal multiplier, of other problems...

The book also points out the fundamental fallacy of I=PAT, which is that A is a "per capita" GNP number, so that P × A simply grosses A back up to the total GNP.

If A = GNP ÷ P, then P × A = GNP

Thus "population" drops out of the I=PAT "formula" altogether, and it becomes I = GNP × T !

Not much point in debating since we agree the "formula" is garbage.


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005

India's Sterilization Camps See Rural Women Treated Like Cattle April 3, 2012

Quote:
Rural women in India have always been dehumanized and the latest case brought to light is that scores of women are being sterilized sans basic sanitary amenities and, perhaps most shockingly, under torchlight [flashlight].

According to Bikyamasar, an Egyptian-based news organization, health right activist Devika Biswas filed a petition to the Supreme Court of India against the vile conditions that these surgeries are performed under. The court, in return, has issued notices to the state and federal governments, giving them eight weeks to respond to the petition.

According to the report, Biswas cited various state-run camps run by doctors, who have no regard for life and treat the impoverished women like cattle. As hospital authorities are required to reach sterilization targets imposed by the government, many of these women got sick and in several cases even died as a consequence of the procedures. Biswas alleged that there were instances where the operations weren't effective, the report said....

These government-operated sterilization policies were initiated by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1970s as a means to prevent the occurrence of defective genetic traits in the Indian population. During that period, thousands of men and women had undergone vasectomy as part of the program's family planning initiative. These strategies failed to hold down population growth, but have nevertheless continued into the 21st century.


Policywonk
Offline
Joined: Feb 6 2005

I don't think any women received a vasectomy. However, complications from tubal ligation would seem to be more likely because it is abdominal surgery, particularly if conducted under unsanitary conditions.


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