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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIV–Reducing Population: Degrowth or Enrich Everyone?

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIV

Pompeii, Italy (1993) Photo by author

Reducing Population: Degrowth or Enrich Everyone?

Part of an ongoing conversation with another regarding globalisation and whether it is a beneficial or detrimental endeavour of humanity. You can find the entire back and forth here.

The notion that to address our overshoot dilemma by bringing the impoverished up to the level of the so-called ‘advanced’ economies so that population levels out or decreases (eventually) requires some significant magical thinking.

As I stated, the primary reason for ‘advanced’ economy riches is the exploitation of a finite resource; a finite resource that is already in its death throes due to the law of declining marginal utility (to say little about all the other resources that are similarly experiencing diminishing returns and requiring greater and greater amounts of energy to even maintain or slightly increase extraction levels).

There are not the resources remaining to bring the entire world up to the level supposedly necessary to lead to smaller families. What resources remain would be best used in helping everyone relocalise which is going to be most difficult for those caught in the trap of globalisation: dependence upon long-distance supply chains, especially for food.

Then there are the environmental/ecological consequences of attempting to enrich the majority of the world that continues to increase global population, resulting in even more stress on the various complex systems that ‘sustain’ humanity (and many other species). In fact, there are many who would argue our resource exploitations have already resulted in irreparable harm and must be halted immediately, not doubled- or tripled-down as you suggest to provide ‘riches’ for everyone.

I think you’ve got it completely backward; in fact, your suggestion would likely expedite the impending ‘collapse’ of our complex and energy-intensive, industrialised world. The ‘advanced’ economies are going to have to become far, far less ‘rich’ and as I said, either we choose how this might be done before we fall over the impending energy cliff or nature WILL do it for us; and nature doesn’t give one single iota of care or concern about how populations are brought back into balance with an area’s environmental carrying capacity. There are many who suggest a massive die-off of humans is the most likely scenario for the planet.

And I won’t even get into the fact that our current complex systems have been continuing only because of the economic Ponzi that the ruling class has created through flooding of the world with (increasingly debased) fiat currency and debt (hundreds of trillions of dollars). This is a monetary/financial/economic system that could ‘collapse’ at any moment, especially if people lose faith in the system.

I would suggest investigating the dilemma of Peak Oil, maybe start with Gail Tverberg (https://ourfiniteworld.com), Alice Friedemann (http://energyskeptic.com), Peak Prosperity’s The Crash Course (https://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse/), and the late Michael Ruppert’s Collapse (https://youtu.be/0Lx2dfK7H9E). Then also watch the following clips with William Catton (author of Overshoot): https://youtu.be/jNuRZuaw0_U, the late Dr. Albert Bartlett on our conundrum: https://youtu.be/O133ppiVnWY, and archaeologist Dr. Joseph Tainter (author of The Collapse of Complex Societies): https://youtu.be/G0R09YzyuCI.

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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