Monday, July 09, 2007

Hiding from Reality

A commenter at writes:

Isn't one of our biggest basic problems still population growth? I see projections that the world's population will magically top out at 9.2 billion, but there's something itching at the back of my brain that says that the number's probably little more than wishful thinking.

In the light of ecological responsibility, Russia probably takes first place for its negative population growth. But why is it that we never hear population control mentioned any more? If the world population was still the three billion or so that it was when I was a child, would we be worrying as much about ecological catastrophe?

Err .. no, no, no and no.

First, the commenter displays the common desire to pin all the world's problems on one singular cause, and then, usually, declaring this cause to be so big and hard to solve that we may as well give up. And that doing anything else is just a waste of time.

In debating circles, this is called the I am a Sad Sack Loser Gambit.

Second, the assertion is provably false. A small number of people acting horrendously wastefully and idiotically can damage far more air, water, soil, wildlife and natural resources than a very large group of people who live sustainably.

There is no inevitable causal relationship between human population and natural resource degradation.

California redwoods have existed for millennia. It only took a handful of greedy people in a few decades to destroy most of them. Today, clearcutting is all mechanized and can be done quickly and with little labor. It may not be far in the future when forests can be clearcut with robots in the cabs of tree-fellers, rather than people. With today's technology, just a few people can destroy thousands of square miles of Earth, all for the benefit of just a few people.

Destruction is almost always by the few and for the few and to the great harm of the many.

Blaming "too many people" for the deeds and greed of a few is just the ...

I am a Sad Sack Loser Gambit.

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