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WORLD POPULATION: Growth rate is truly scary

Letter by Lyle Laws, Puyallup on Oct. 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm with 53 Comments »
October 28, 2011 6:02 pm

If you want to do something scary in keeping with the Halloween spirit, punch up “world population growth” on your computer.

When I learned that there are 7 billion people on the Earth, I wondered if the figure had doubled in my lifetime (78 years).  No, it hasn’t doubled, it has tripled.

With many now facing starvation in some parts of the world, it is hard to imagine how grim the future will be if the growth rate continues. And, to compound the problem, the projected growth rate is highest in the regions that are already in dire straits.

The combined populations of Asia and Africa where poverty is the greatest, now make up 75 percent of the world’s total.

Now that’s scary.

Leave a comment Comments → 53
  1. took14theteam says:

    Okay, so what do you want to do about it?

    Obamacare death panels (you might be a candidate) or forced abortion like China?

    Or let the OWS/ occupy every city and the world protestors crash the system and then take over the problem?

  2. crusader says:

    We debate many issues that are considerably less important than this one.

  3. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    OK, the earth is getting over populated and will, in 100 years, not sustain itself. You are over 70, what the hey?

  4. Dave98373 says:

    Would you propose that America intervene in Asia and Africa in some way to impact that number Lyle?

  5. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Took, Dave, TP- this is a serious issue effecting all of us. At a minimum it will lead to a resource shortage, with numerous second and third order effects.

    If there was a plan to handle these changes in population or an easy solution there would be no concern. What is scary is that while we debate whether gays can serve in the military, if Costco can sell vodka, or if saving a tadpole in Cali is worth thousands of jobs, a world changing problem may not be that far off the horizon.

  6. “Obamacare death panels”

    … are as real as the tooth fairy.

  7. Dave98373 says:

    Concerned- You bring up many domestic issues that are totally unrelated to the international population increase (gays, booze, etc…much as how does Halloween fit into all of this “scary” nonsense in the first place???). The real fact is that humans are living longer due to science and medicine advances and are just living healthier lives in general. Now, there may be certain places in the world (such as Uganda and Somalia) that may indeed be “scary” from a pragmatic approach. But we should be celebrating an increase in the population because that means we are living longer and healthier than are forefathers-and depsite the news-less innocent people are dying in wars due (again!) to technology. Say what you want. But I have and always will be a glass is half full kind of guy!

  8. LarryFine says:

    I’m not scared … ;)

  9. Though I agree with you Lyle, some would say the problem isn’t overpopulation rather it is a problem with an unequal distribution of resources with a relatively small percentage of the world’s population consuming the vast majority of the food and other resources.

    One measure that could be taken is to provide cheap and reliable contraception along with education (yes, Virgina, demonstrations of how you can put a condom on a banana).

    Unfortunately there is significant resistance to this approach from those whose Mission is to attempt to enforce their morality upon others – all those millions in Africa AIDs relief allotted by Bush were wasted in an ABC plan – Anything But Condoms.

  10. Since at least the 18th century and Thomas Malthus, overpopulation has been held up as a serious issue that threatens us all. It has never materialized to be any thing other than a useful weapon for bigots to use to attack people of color. Why do overpopulation zealots never tell us that there are too many white people? It’s always countries populated by poor African and brown-skinned people that seem to have overpopulation problems.

    There are only two ways to change the rate of population growth: decrease the birth rate or increase the death rate. Overpopulation bigots seem to have no qualms with government programs imposing either of those “solutions” on dark-skinned foreigners.

    There is a third way to reduce the rate of population growth: prosperity. Countries with strong economies end up having fewer children. But overpopulation bigots never wish to allow this solution, because it removes the whip from their hand as well as their ability congratulate themselves on “doing something.”

  11. “Unfortunately there is significant resistance to this approach from those whose Mission is to attempt to enforce their morality upon others….” according to bBoy.

    I have two questions. Is there a reason you capitalized mission? Second, if you are referring to Christian mission, you are mistaken. Unless of course, you object to including chastity and fidelity in marriage in the list of reasonable ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Notice I say “include” because there’s plenty of education going on in Christian missions worldwide about birth control, including the use of condoms.

    As for this provocative phrase…”unequal distribution of resources” how would you suggest we handle this?

  12. puyallupmutt says:

    The two major components of exploding growth are India and the Pope.

    Not much you can do about India (except a war with Pakistan), but the Pope has a duty to do his part.

    Central and South America’s adherence to the Pope’s law has caused so much of the problem that is part of the overflow across our borders.

    Mormons can afford large families, Mexican and Brazillian catholics often can not.

  13. bigstrapper80 says:

    I agree, the problem with the world’s population growth is abortions.

  14. daggercat says:

    ok people, deep breath… so john blow has 2 or 3 children, they grow into adulthood and want a place of their own. John Blow is still healthy, so his 2 or 3 offspring have to have space of their own. So, population density increases. Oh wait, there is a huge amount of undeveloped space that can accomodate this population increase looking for their own space. WRONG! Some places have not been developed because IT IS NOT PRACTICAL to develop. There are many places in this country that have depleted aquifiers, those natural holding cells in the earth for water, that once depleted cause sink holes and other slap up the head warnings, and places that people are not intended to live in. This is not just country wide, but across the globe. People can only inhabit so much of the earth. Our needs can not exceed the earths ability to provide. Can you tell I’m on the side of controlling our world population? Lets try to have a healthier environment to raise children. I think that means giving people some space.

  15. LarryFine says:

    All of the earth’s population could fit in the state of Texas… google it.

  16. so?

  17. I thought you were interested in dialogue, bBoy. I would really appreciate an answer to my questions unless you deem them insignificant of course.

  18. sozo – I was referencing the ABC policy of Christian based anti-AIDS groups in Africa funded through Bush policies.

    I understand that “Christian” and “Christian Missionaries” are rather large and inclusive terms that cover a wide variety of individuals.

    My referencing of “unequal distribution of resources’ comes from two things.
    1) My father, a retired professor of Animal Science, once told me that we produce enough food to easily feed the entire world but it is the distribution of the food – based upon economics and political power – that ensures that we will always have starving, malnourished people. The fact that the worst famines seem to always occur in 3rd world countries in the midst of a some sort of civil war tends to support this thesis. (think Somalia)
    2) A long and rather nasty argument I had at another board with a poster who insisted that the problem wasn’t overpopulation but unequal distribution (I was trying to convince him that both overpopulation and overconsumption were the culprit). He made some good points – ferinstance, the densely populated UK does not even come close to producing enough food to feed itself yet is doing just fine. They have the resources to import the food.

    It seems to me that a recent tactic of these boards is to demand solutions when one identifies a problem and, if an easy solution to a very complex problem isn’t forthcoming then it is declared that pointing to the problem is somehow moot.

    But, as the twelve-step programs realize, acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step.

  19. Just to be clear – my “so?” post was in reference to the rather useless bit of google information about how large the state of Texas is.

  20. LarryFine says:

    So ?

  21. Flanagan says:

    The way things are going in the world, war will probably help control any population problem. Maybe that is our buiilt-in natural control.

  22. You think we have problems now? (insert images of “Night Of The Living Dead”) Just wait till the ZOMBIES come back….aimlessly wandering our streets, moaning with arms outstretched, searching for brains!!

    Oh wait they’re already here!! The election campaigns have begun!!!!!!!

  23. took14theteam says:
  24. took14theteam says:

    Guess the smiley didn’t work, so here it is.


  25. Thanks for responding bBoy. I wasn’t lobbing an accusation at you. Though I AM weary of some others who lodge criticisms without offering alternative solutions, I was not thinking that in this case.

    I grow defensive about the missionary stereotype because it’s just so off the mark so much of the time it’s tiresome. According to the Bible, tending to the poor is of the highest importance to God. That said, I am still looking for biblical support for the government being in charge of that. I believe it is essential that we never allow people to abdicate their responsibility to share of their own free will, thus I am opposed to higher taxes that lead to increased dependence on the state. I think this is ultimately a sin against the needy, creating in them a sense of powerlessness and inferiority. Of course this does not include those in dire straits who need food NOW.

    As for your father’s observation, I have always thought it the worst kind of corruption when I hear stories about food sent to aid hungry going undelivered due to political crap. It sickens me.

  26. for LF:

    A needle pulling thread?

  27. sozo,

    Of course, in Biblical times there was no separation between Church and State so it seems a little anachronistic to me to try to find the answer in the Bible for a societal structure that was beyond imagination when the Bible was written.

    But then….that is me.

  28. tellnolies says:

    “if an easy solution”

    Many of our problems could be solved if people would look for the correct, rather than the easy response…but often times the correct response involves giving up tightly held subjective beliefs, and we haven’t proven very good at that….

    The Malthusian equations were famously wrong, but the concept that there can’t be infinite growth in a finite system is correct.

  29. m9078jk3 says:

    Not to worry the Earth’s human population will likely be drastically reduced by a future global thermonuclear conflict.

  30. ItalianSpring says:

    Hey Lyle- take a flight to Florida. Look DOWN out the window. Behold vacant land.

  31. daggercat says:

    Sorry to see Pat Buchanan’s views are being suggested as a serious read. That said, I’d like to respond to the comment about the population fitting into the state of Texas. I’m reminded of an experiment done with rats. When they had enough living space to move around and get away from each other when they wanted to, and didn’t have to worry about food, they maintained a civil society. They were engineered to keep breeding (because nature would have caused them to slow down on breeding to live comfortably) but not given more space or food. The civility in their society began to break down, and they started attacking each other. There was nothing left but chaos. Our population is at a point that it is becoming more difficult to find places to unwind without a whole bunch of other people trying to do the same thing. The last time I tried to go to a park to unwind I couldn’t find a place to park. So now overpopulation becomes a quality of life issue. We can use our heads and not breed like rats.

  32. nwcolorist says:

    Fifty years ago more than 40% of the world’s population was either starving or undernourished. Today that figure is less than 20% and continues to decrease. It seems ironic that this should be occurring when the earth’s population is the greatest on record. The Malthusian theory that the world’s population will eventually starve has been refuted.

    And while the best livable land has already been taken, there is still plenty of decent land available for expansion. Mankind is very adaptable.

    I have seen studies have shown that the earth can support up to 15 billion people without undue strain. Of course, it will require some getting used to, but it’s possible.

  33. History shows that we can expect mass migrations, wars, famine, pestilence, and new religions.

  34. aislander says:

    No, beerBoy: a common name in China–speaking of population. La…

  35. All the Ti in China….

  36. lylelaws says:


    I strongly question your statistics. Would you please cite your source?

  37. daggercat says:

    Thank god I’ll be dead by the time there are 15 billion people crawling all over each other to find some quality of life. How about we just breed responsibly. All the Ti in China, very funny beerboy! Made me laugh.

  38. nwcolorist says:

    lylelaws, I see if I can find it.

  39. serendipity says:

    I would suggest people stop being so selfish and have perhaps one child and/or adopt the many children who do not have a home.

    Obama is not to blame for this nor his proposed healthcare plan. I am so tired of ignorant people suggesting he has “death panels.” There is no such thing in the plan and as a person with a disability I can assure you no one has tried to kill me by denying me care nor is that in any future plan.

  40. The number of hungry and starving people has been going down for decades. Technology and a more peaceful world might very well be the reason that the number continues on a downward trend.

    What’s truly scary is doorknobs like Lyle. Must be the product of one of those high achieving public schools that the WEA touts.


  41. MarksonofDarwin says:

    The best solution was submitted by bugme waaay upthread.
    To repeat him/her:

    “There is a third way to reduce the rate of population growth: prosperity. Countries with strong economies end up having fewer children.”

  42. Words of wisdom from bugme, indeed.

  43. LarryFine says:

    There’s always the soylent green option.

  44. alindasue says:

    puyallupmutt said, “Mormons can afford large families, Mexican and Brazillian catholics often can not.”

    Mormons (here or in Mexico and Brazil) are no more affluent than the rest of the population. The only reason it may seem so is because of our emphasis on living providently – which can include things like making the most of the resources already available and, when possible, gardening (thereby adding to the world’s food supply).

    Most areas of the world where people are consistently starving are usually that way because of reasons having more to do with regional politics than the earth’s capacity to support people (Somalia being a classic example). People flock to over-flooded cities and refugee camps in hopes of finding food because political situations make it impossible to safely stay home and till their lands and nearly as difficult for aid to get in to help them. Yes, the population accounted for on this planet may have tripled (or perhaps only doubled and our methods of counting people improved) but we do still have more than enough earth to handle the food needs of our people – if you take politics out of the equation.

    However, that doesn’t mean that we can live as if our resources are infinite. Our capacity is diminished every time we cover another piece of fertile farm land with yet more warehouses for stuff we don’t use or yet another shopping mall. The earth is adaptable (as are people), but we need to be wise stewards of our resources or we will diminish its capacity to produce and its ability to adapt.

    That’s where frugality comes in. A frugal family or society – even a larger one – can live well without having to constantly use up as many new resources. It’s not so much a matter of the number of people on the land; it’s more a matter of how we use that land.

  45. old_benjamin says:

    Virtually all of the European countries have negative birth rates. The rate in the U.S is just at replacement. There’s not much we in the West can do about the birth rates elsewhere. Mother nature does have a way of dealing with over-population. It ain’t pretty, but she has been at it for several billion years.

  46. In the 1920s, established WASP families were tending towards small families while the families of the Irish, German and Slav immigrants were large – there was quite of alarmed rhetoric about “race suicide” then too. Interesting how a lot of the rhetoric has stayed the same.

  47. gonefishin69690 says:

    Free vasectomy’s.

  48. itwasntmethistime says:

    camas — Your math is bad. The number of starving people has NOT been going down for decades. It has been going up. 50 years ago 40% of 3 billion people were malnourished. That’s 1.2 bilion people. Today, only 20% of the world’s population is malnourished, but that’s 20% of 7 billion, which is 1.4 billion starving people.

    When you feed people who live in a region of the world not conducive to supporting life (regardless of the fact they did not choose to be born there) you help produce more hungry people, not less.

  49. sandblower says:

    camas did not completely read his http://www.worldhunger.org link. His argument is null & void.
    Beyond that, he is a really nice person.

  50. itwasntmethistime/sandblower – both of you should try reading with comprehension. “The most recent estimate, released in October 2010 by FAO, says that 925 million people are undernourished.” After that it states nobody knows the exact numbers, but both of you do. I cited sources and you two pulled numbers out of your iceholes. Speaking of null and void…

  51. daggercat says:

    I read a statement that there is a statistic to support every arguement, pro or con. Better question to be answered would be: when is the last time you had repeated episodes of being negatively affected because it was just to damn crowded? Not going to get any better if we can’t control our populations.

  52. LarryFine says:

    when is the last time you had repeated episodes of being negatively affected because it was just to damn crowded?… since I avoid liberal utopian enclaves like Seattle ??? Not for some time….

  53. daggercat says:

    I’ve come to avoid it also. I’m a farm girl at heart from the once small town of Puyallup. But watch out Larry, apparently the masses will be coming your way…

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