Skip to comments.Will Human Population Collapse This Century?
Posted on 11/01/2023 9:58:22 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
For 99.9% of Homo sapiens‘ 250,000 years on planet Earth, our population has remained below one billion individuals, and for much of that time, our species’ growth curve was relatively flat.
Since 1800, however, the human population has exponentially ballooned to 8.1 billion from just under one billion.
We now occupy almost all parts of the globe and ravenously consume resources beyond what Earth can sustainably provide for the long term.
As eminent ecologist William E. Rees argues in an ominous new paper, this is a recipe for impending disaster.
For 40 years, Rees taught at the University of British Columbia, focusing on planning related to global environmental trends and sustainable socioeconomic development. His most notable academic contribution is the concept of the “ecological footprint,” the “amount of environmental resources needed to produce the goods and services that support an individual’s lifestyle.”
As an ecologist, Rees is well aware that all sorts of species frequently go through boom and bust cycles. When resources are plentiful and threats are low, they reproduce and multiply. But when resources dry up, perhaps from over-consumption or environmental change, species’ populations will precipitously fall.
Rees’ painfully simple proposition in his new paper is that humans are no different from any other species. Thus, we are just as vulnerable to population busts as we are prone to booms. “Homo sapiens is an evolving species, a product of natural selection and still subject to the same natural laws and forces affecting the evolution of all living organisms,” he wrote.
And make no mistake, we are at the peak of a boom on the precipice of a bust, he says. Human population’s 700% rise, along with a 100-fold expansion of real world product, over the last two centuries are anomalies unlocked by rampant use of fossil fuels, deforestation, mining, and arable land destruction. This has propelled us into an ecological state of “overshoot,” where we are consuming more resources than can be replenished and producing more waste than can be handled by ecosystems. The only question is when humanity’s bubble will collapse. Rees portends it will happen in our lifetimes.
“The global economy will inevitably contract and humanity will suffer a major population ‘correction’ in this century,” he wrote.
How bad will it be? Rees cites estimates suggesting that the number of humans that Earth can support for the long term is between 100 million and 3 billion people. So, the population and civilization collapse he forecasts will be quite bad, indeed. He even briefly painted a bleak picture of how it might happen.
“As parts of the planet become uninhabitable, we should expect faltering agriculture, food shortages, and possibly extended famines. Rising sea levels over the next century will flood many coastal cities; with the breakdown of national highway and marine transportation networks other cities are likely to be cut off from food-lands, energy, and other essential resources. Some large metropolitan areas will become unsupportable and not survive the century.”
After the population correction, Rees portends a more primitive future.
“It may well be that the best-case future will, in fact, be powered by renewable energy, but in the form of human muscle, draft horses, mules, and oxen supplemented by mechanical water-wheels and wind-mills.”
Rees’ opinion is not destiny, of course. If it sounds familiar, it’s because much of it is simply a rehashed version of what Paul Ehrlich wrote in 1968 in his book The Population Bomb. Thomas Malthus made the same argument in 1798. For the past 225 years, reality has proven them wrong. There is no convincing evidence to suggest that conditions on Earth have changed so much that a human population collapse is inevitable or even likely. Indeed, as productivity has increased and technology has advanced, we are creating more things but using fewer resources.
Besides, demographers at the United Nations forecast that the human population will peak in the mid-2080s at around 10.4 billion people, after which it will level off and decline. Rather than due to a catastrophic collapse, this natural slow-down will be the result of higher standards of living, birth control, and shifting perspectives on sustainability, among other reasons. In short, the UN, along with most other scientists, predict that humans will effectively choose to dwindle in number rather than have the choice made for us in dramatic and deadly fashion.
In places, Rees’ paper reads like the rantings of a dour old ecologist, understandably angered by the damage humanity has done to the natural world. Sprinkled throughout the article are opinionated barbs aimed at various targets: short-sighted politicians, naive techno-optimists, and overly hopeful scientists. He also reserves a fair amount of irritation for those who insist that climate change is the greatest problem that humanity faces, when the real problem is us — or rather too many of us.
Still, Rees’ arguments should not be ignored entirely. The accomplished ecologist has distinguished himself through decades of scholarship. He also draws on history to correctly note that many major civilizations throughout human history have collapsed and suffered die-offs, often stemming from ecological overshoot within their respective habitats. He believes that, if we aren’t careful, the same will happen again. Let’s be sure to prove him wrong.
This article was first published at Big Think.
>> As an ecologist, Rees is well aware that all sorts of species frequently go through boom and bust cycles.
The ultimate “boom and bust cycle” will be realized when Jesus returns.
Boom for the faithful chosen. Bust for those outside of CHRIST.
“So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
i had just seen a story that said italy has had no live births in the last 3 months.
i’m unsure how accurate that is, as those in control of ‘respected’ media would bury such a headline to insure their agenda of population collapse can be realized.
thing is, if i have even a 1% chance to believe that to be accurate then that’s very worrisome.
and with the push for vaxxing kids and the vaxx’s knack for sterilizing females... i’m starting to believe it more every day
My worst fear is that most people who received the vaxx will be dead within 30 yrs. Regardless as to the age when they got the jab.
According to these wackos, We need to cut human population to about 0.5 billion.
That’s why they pushing euthanasia, abortion, pills, castrations and LGBT.
Prepare to volunteer to be euthanized!
The problem with Malthusians is that they see people just as stomachs which need to be fed.
People are indeed born with stomachs, but also with hands and brains to provide for themselves.
I was in mechanical engineering school in 1972 when the Club of Rome published “The Limits to Growth.” I happened to be studying system dynamics and differential equations at the time the book was published and was intrigued by their modeling techniques. The book basically said the same thing — that the earth has a carrying capacity for human life and things could go awry quickly leading to population collapse.
I have heard the exact same sentiment and question from many. As public debt rises and populations -- expected to "service" if not pay down that debt -- become fewer in number, the per capita debt burden will explode into a people's awareness.
The "Club of Rome" elite will come to find that they will not be the "elect" in all that implies. Rebellions and revolutions aplenty can be foreseen.
There is no question now that absent divine intervention humans will destroy themselves via the products of technology.
I sure hope so. Something has to give.
It just makes sense doesn’t it? Lifeboats can successfully and practically hold only so many people can’t they?
Three stupid people on the planet is overpopulation.
Thirty billion smart people on the planet would be an amazing civilization.
“We now occupy almost all parts of the globe and ravenously consume resources beyond what Earth can sustainably provide for the long term.”
BS... Get rid of the “throw away” culture and it wouldn’t be a problem.
Only in the US thanks to the eco regs.
Just more Malthusian nonsense.
Who is "humanity"? Isn't those who are angered part of it? They have a choice.
They can kill themselves, if the "humanity" they belong to and are part of angers them.
Yes, but that carrying capacity is enhanced by technologies and methods unknown at the time of a particular calculation, so is impossible to compute, as the data isn’t static.
Modern science has increased our ability to raise food far above the needs of the 8 billion that live at this time. Any famine or hunger nowadays are due to human war and criminal activity. We grow enough to feed everyone.
One could even argue the coming warming (of which the potential benefits never seem to be spoken of) of the Northern latitudes will bring vast ranges of Taiga in Canada, Alaska and Siberia under the farmer’s plow.
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