Saturday, January 05, 2008
Two Views On Population: What We Cannot Say
It is not news to regular readers that Chaos wholeheartedly agrees with Dr. Bartlett's assertion that overpopulation (along with exponential growth) constitutes the root of most of humanity's troubles. Equally clear is the fact that these topics are not permitted to be discussed on any level; don't look for your favorite presidential candidate to add them to a stump speech, or your favorite flavor of political party to adopt them as 'planks' in their 'platforms.' Why not? Well, read Kurt Cobb's explanation of what happens when you do bring up the issue. Along the way, the author provides an excellent overview of the concept of "carrying capacity" and how OECD countries export their resource degradation to the rest of the world. Another view of the issue comes from this op-ed in the nation's paper of record by the eminent anthropologist Jared Diamond. Diamond reflects the current understanding among those concerned about the natural world that one's resource 'footprint' is more important than the numbers of humans inhabiting the planet. An other wise insightful article is marred towards the end by the now almost obligatory references to hopeful examples of growing awareness of the problems (along with an exhortation that diminished resource consumption need not constitute a diminished lifestyle, a ridiculous assertion but one necessary to publish in a mainstream newspaper, because nobody wants to hear anything like they might have to live differently than they do now), which Chaos found to be underwhelming at best, and mendacious at worst. Chaos' own view is that both population control and resource conservation are essential components of an effective strategy of solving the current woes, but not to worry: the Cobb article explains quite clearly that even a discussion of these is not ever going to happen.