Monday, May 18, 2009

Apocalypse Now?

Remember Charles Dicken’s Christmas Carol when Ebenezer Scrooge offered his “final solution” to the poverty problem? “If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”


In his “Arithmetic, Population and Energy” speech at the 2009 EntConnect conference, Dr. Bartlett regarded overpopulation as “The Greatest Challenge” facing humanity. If steady growth continues unchecked, zero population growth will happen, anyway, as we expend our non-rewable resources. High birth rates will drop and low death rates will rise until they are equal. How this happens may not be pretty.

What are our options to control population growth?

First, let’s look at some factors that promote overpopulation: motherhood, immigration, medicine, public health, sanitation, peace, law and order, scientific agriculture to produce more food, safety, clean air and water, etc. What we consider as good is bad because it makes the problem worse.

Now consider what curbs overpopulation: abstinence, contraception, abortion, small families, no immigration, diseases, war, murder, euthanasia, ethnic cleaning, violent crime, famine, accidents, disasters, pollution, smoking, AIDS, etc. Most of what we consider bad is good because it “decreases the surplus population.”

Good grief!

Dr. Bartlett regards sustainability as his “Great Challenge." “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

He got me there.

How do we sustain living without unleashing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

There must be a way to promote a more pleasant outcome. And that will be the subject of the final blog on this topic.

EntConnect website:

Dr. Bartlett links:

Photos from
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

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