And Then There Were Too Many

Written by Sam Vaknin

The latest census in Ukraine revealed an apocalyptic drop of 10% in its population - from 52.5 million a decade ago to a mere 47.5 million last year. Demographers predict a precipitous decline of one third in Russia's impoverished, inebriated, disillusioned, and ageing citizenry. Births in many countries inrepparttar rich, industrialized, West are belowrepparttar 132506 replacement rate. These bastions of conspicuous affluence are shriveling.

Scholars and decision-makers - once terrified byrepparttar 132507 Malthusian dystopia of a "population bomb" - are more sanguine now. Advances in agricultural technology eradicated hunger even in teeming places like India and China. And then there isrepparttar 132508 old idea of progress: birth rates tend to decline with higher education levels and growing incomes. Family planning has had resounding successes in places as diverse as Thailand, China, and western Africa.

Inrepparttar 132509 near past, fecundity used to compensate for infant mortality. Asrepparttar 132510 latter declined - so didrepparttar 132511 former. Children are means of production in many destitute countries. Hencerepparttar 132512 inordinately large families ofrepparttar 132513 past - a form of insurance againstrepparttar 132514 economic outcomes ofrepparttar 132515 inevitable demise of some of one's off-spring.

Yet, despite these trends,repparttar 132516 world's populace is augmented by 80 million people annually. All of them are born torepparttar 132517 younger inhabitants ofrepparttar 132518 more penurious corners ofrepparttar 132519 Earth. There were only 1 billion people alive in 1804. The number doubled a century later.

But our last billion -repparttar 132520 sixth - required only 12 fertile years. The entire population of Germany is added every half a decade to both India and China. Clearly, Mankind's growth is out of control, as affirmed inrepparttar 132521 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.

Dozens of millions of people regularly starve - many of them to death. In only one corner ofrepparttar 132522 Earth - southern Africa - food aid isrepparttar 132523 sole subsistence of entire countries. More than 18 million people in Zambia, Malawi, and Angola survived on charitable donations in 1992. More than 10 million expectrepparttar 132524 same this year, among themrepparttar 132525 emaciated denizens of erstwhile food exporter, Zimbabwe.

According to Medecins Sans Frontiere, AIDS kills 3 million people a year, Tuberculosis another 2 million. Malaria decimates 2 people every minute. More than 14 million people fall prey to parasitic and infectious diseases every year - 90% of them inrepparttar 132526 developing countries.

Millions emigrate every year in search of a better life. These massive shifts are facilitated by modern modes of transportation. But, despite these tectonic relocations - and despite famine, disease, and war,repparttar 132527 classic Malthusian regulatory mechanisms -repparttar 132528 depletion of natural resources - from arable land to water - is undeniable and gargantuan.

Our pressing environmental issues - global warming, water stress, salinization, desertification, deforestation, pollution, loss of biological diversity - and our ominous social ills - crime atrepparttar 132529 forefront - are traceable to one, politically incorrect, truth:

There are too many of us. We are way too numerous. The population load is unsustainable. We,repparttar 132530 survivors, would be better off if others were to perish. Should population growth continue unabated - we are all doomed.

Doomed to what?

Numerous Cassandras and countless Jeremiads have been falsified by history. With proper governance, scientific research, education, affordable medicines, effective family planning, and economic growth - this planet can support even 10-12 billion people. We are not at risk of physical extinction and never have been.

The Ecology of Environmentalism

Written by Sam Vaknin

The concept of "nature" is a romantic invention. It was spun byrepparttar likes of Jean-Jacques Rousseau inrepparttar 132503 18th century as a confabulated utopian contrast torepparttar 132504 dystopia of urbanization and materialism. The traces of this dewy-eyed conception ofrepparttar 132505 "savage" and his unmolested, unadulterated surroundings can be found inrepparttar 132506 more malignant forms of fundamentalist environmentalism.

Atrepparttar 132507 other extreme are religious literalists who regard Man asrepparttar 132508 crown of creation with complete dominion over nature andrepparttar 132509 right to exploit its resources unreservedly. Similar, veiled, sentiments can be found among scientists. The Anthropic Principle, for instance, promoted by many outstanding physicists, claims thatrepparttar 132510 nature ofrepparttar 132511 Universe is preordained to accommodate sentient beings - namely, us humans.

Industrialists, politicians and economists have only recently begun paying lip service to sustainable development and torepparttar 132512 environmental costs of their policies. Thus, in a way, they bridgerepparttar 132513 abyss - at least verbally - between these two diametrically opposed forms of fundamentalism. Still, essential dissimilarities betweenrepparttar 132514 schools notwithstanding,repparttar 132515 dualism of Man vs. Nature is universally acknowledged.

Modern physics - notablyrepparttar 132516 Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics - has abandonedrepparttar 132517 classic split between (typically human) observer and (usually inanimate) observed. Environmentalists, in contrast, have embraced this discarded worldview wholeheartedly. To them, Man isrepparttar 132518 active agent operating upon a distinct reactive or passive substrate - i.e., Nature. But, though intuitively compelling, it is a false dichotomy.

Man is, by definition, a part of Nature. His tools are natural. He interacts withrepparttar 132519 other elements of Nature and modifies it - but so do all other species. Arguably, bacteria and insects exert on Nature far more influence with farther reaching consequences than Man has ever done.

Still,repparttar 132520 "Law ofrepparttar 132521 Minimum" - that there is a limit to human population growth and that this barrier is related torepparttar 132522 biotic and abiotic variables ofrepparttar 132523 environment - is undisputed. Whatever debate there is veers between two strands of this Malthusian Weltanschauung:repparttar 132524 utilitarian (a.k.a. anthropocentric, shallow, or technocentric) andrepparttar 132525 ethical (alternatively termed biocentric, deep, or ecocentric).

First,repparttar 132526 Utilitarians.

Economists, for instance, tend to discussrepparttar 132527 costs and benefits of environmental policies. Activists, onrepparttar 132528 other hand, demand that Mankind considerrepparttar 132529 "rights" of other beings and of nature as a whole in determining a least harmful course of action.

Utilitarians regard nature as a set of exhaustible and scarce resources and deal with their optimal allocation from a human point of view. Yet, they usually fail to incorporate intangibles such asrepparttar 132530 beauty of a sunset orrepparttar 132531 liberating sensation of open spaces.

"Green" accounting - adjustingrepparttar 132532 national accounts to reflect environmental data - is still in its unpromising infancy. It is complicated byrepparttar 132533 fact that ecosystems do not respect man-made borders and byrepparttar 132534 stubborn refusal of many ecological variables to succumb to numbers. To complicate things further, different nations weigh environmental problems disparately.

Despite recent attempts, such asrepparttar 132535 Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) produced byrepparttar 132536 World Economic Forum (WEF), no one knows how to define and quantify elusive concepts such as "sustainable development". Evenrepparttar 132537 costs of replacing or repairing depleted resources and natural assets are difficult to determine.

Efforts to capture "quality of life" considerations inrepparttar 132538 straitjacket ofrepparttar 132539 formalism of distributive justice - known as human-welfare ecology or emancipatory environmentalism - backfired. These led to derisory attempts to reverserepparttar 132540 inexorable processes of urbanization and industrialization by introducing localized, small-scale production.

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