The Case for Controlling Human Population

overpopulationby Marcia Mueller

Capitalism with its relentless emphasis on consumerism and its equally relentless extraction of resources is a driver of climate change. This includes evils such as animal agriculture that not only brings misery to the animals involved but also degrades the environment with air pollution from methane and water pollution from runoff.

However capitalism has a partner that politicians do not want to talk about. That partner is overpopulation. According to Democratic Underground, “Any politician who even dares to bring this subject up ends their career. So almost no one will discuss it.” http://www.democraticundergroup.comm January 2015.
Human population is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 and will continue to cause Anthropocene Extinction, something else the politicians are not talking about.

In 1968 Paul Ehrlich published his book “The Population Bomb,” warning about the dangers of the burgeoning numbers of human beings on this earth. The author appeared on multiple TV shows discussing the problem, and his book was received with great interest. However, soon the whole topic of the human birth rate was becoming politicized. Anti-abortion/anti-contraception religions made the topic politically incorrect to discuss.

As a result of the silence and the still growing numbers, Garrett Hardin noted the following in his 1977 book, “The Limits of Altruism”: “… in the modern press, nobody ever dies of overpopulation: It is unthinkable. So we say people die of starvation, drowning, disease, civil disorder, and countless other acceptable “causes.” Taboo determines language, and language controls perception.” (p. 94)

The discussion has become more dire, causing ecologist like Hardin to suggest that if countries allow their population to grow beyond the carrying capacity of their land, other countries whose own resources are stretched, may no longer be able or obligated to come to the rescue. Ethical philosopher Herschel Elliott also notes that the usual rules of humanitarian morality may be irrelevant in the face of mass overpopulation and its problems.

So far, though, most of the human race has escaped the worse consequences of its arrogant and irresponsible overbreeding. The rest of the creatures on this earth have had to bear the burden. We hunt them into extinction for food and take their habitat until they starve or are driven into human communities, where they are killed as pests and competitors for resources. Even the megafauna of Africa are fighting for their lives and their species, as the long-gone mammoths and mastodons did. The article above suggests that we are annihilating 30,000 species a year.

I wonder if our species will ever have the humility and wisdom to regret what we have done are and are doing. Even when we are warned about the hazards of climate change to all life, many deny it. Even when we know of the tragic consequences of our overbreeding and have the ability to control it, we allow Religion to make the rules. To many in that community, a whole species is less important than one fertilized egg.

So our numbers grow. But species who have evolved with us over millions of years and who have earned the right to live on this earth with us are being driven to extinction. Many of them will be gone before we knew who they were or that they were here? Thus we will even deny them their place in the record of life on this planet.

They are just more victims of capitalism, greed, denial, and the futility of the political process.



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14 thoughts on “The Case for Controlling Human Population

  1. Part of the problem is that once you begin speaking about human overpopulation the assumption becomes that you are against other- than- white people. Sorry, but it is a fact that the populations of Africa, India, and other non-european states, are growing at exponential rates. And along with this condition comes the obliteration of free-living animals and their habitats.Unless you are unusually well off financially in these countries,a family consisting of even more than 1 child is doomed to poverty, or a day to day existence lifestyle. With our obsession with not offending anyone, ad nauseum, this issue will not be addressed. The dialogue can be respectful, but must also be honest and soon…


  2. This is why I wrote my dystopian science fiction series, Nae-Nee. There are birth control nanites, birth licenses, and fewer new humans. This is not a policy that is popular with the populace. No…it is the inversion of Mark Twain’s observation that “it is better to be popular than right.” I’m going with right, even though a little Orwellian control is in the mix. Without this, there would be nothing to show, and thus nothing to think and talk about.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When humans become extinct because Nature and Earth will fight back: I hope the exit is joyful for any more-than-human survivors, and I hope humans to never return.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great article, and so true regarding politicians’ inability to acknowledge and deal with this problem. Seems that even the Green party (in Canada) doesn’t want to touch it. Can people really not see that all our problems are tied to our rampant overbreeding and hubris in believing we are the only life form that matters? Climate change, mass extinctions, disease, wars, and most of all our total disregard for and abuse of all other species is a direct result of our insistence that we are the be all and end all of life on this planet. our time here as a result will probably be short, but unfortunately not before we have caused billions of others unspeakable suffering, due to our sense of entitlement. How true that many humans feel that one egg and sperm is worth more than any other species on earth, if it’s their own.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Capitalism has done more for population control than anything else. Nearly all first world countries are near or below 1.5 reproduction rates. Some to the point they will actually start decreasing in population. Where the problem still exists is in the poor parts of the world. The more we can do to lift people out of property the more the problem will fix itself.


    • Yes, the capitalist industrialized countries of the world have reduced their populations.

      But the European countries had great universities for centuries before industrialization began. They already had a foundation in the sciences, and they developed further education and technical training for their new industries. Thus they created better jobs, and those jobs plus smaller families allowed the standard of living to rise.

      However, capitalism requires constant growth, growth in labor, production, and markets. Some of the most technically advanced countries were warned that their lower birth rates were leaving them without enough workers. Germany, for example, was told that it required several hundred thousand immigrants to meet its needs, and it was hiring highly trained workers from other countries. When the migrant crisis started and thousands came into the country, Germany felt its needs would be met. However, it soon discovered that approximately two-thirds of the new entrants were illiterate in their own language and had no job skills relevant to Germany’s high-tech industries. It has been estimated that it will take approximately 25 years of education and integration before people are ready for work. So immigration is not always an easy fix.

      And this is the issue the world is facing. Impoverished, war-torn countries have high populations. Many of those countries are reaching or have exceeded their carrying capacity. They do not have the educational infrastructure to give significant numbers of their citizens the knowledge and skills needed for information-age and high-tech jobs. Therefore, it is difficult for them to find work at home or abroad. Decreasing poverty in those circumstances will be more difficult. In the meantime, people struggle to survive, and that often means using up all the resources they have.

      Then there are the environmental problems of capitalism, including climate change.

      We are in a positive feedback loop where carbon emissions increase temperatures, and the increasing temperatures, in turn, lead to more climate change. When glaciers melt, they can no longer reflect heat back into the atmosphere. When the tundra permafrost melts, it releases methane. When the forests of South America are ravaged to raise cattle and create jobs, it leads to more methane and to the destruction of the trees that absorb carbon dioxide and other gases. The same is true for the destruction of forests in Southeast Asia to build palm oil plantations and the logging of forests around the world for more construction and developments.

      Strip mining for coal and fracking and drilling for oil in order to meet energy demands will damage the land and contribute to rising temperatures.

      Increasing acidification of the ocean harms ocean lives, whose numbers are already being depleted to feed the world population. Rising oceans from glacial melts will inundate shorelines.

      The constant growth, both human and economic, also has drastic consequences for the nonhuman animals of this planet. Habitat loss is causing more animal species to become endangered and it has been estimated that up to 30,000 species a year may be driven to extinction. The poor in some countries poach wildlife to survive, and their leaders may promote trophy hunting of their iconic species to raise money. Unfortunately, we tend not to focus on the interests of animals, but their losses should be a warning.

      We cannot turn back the clock, but it is time to at least admit our problems.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: the case for controlling human overpopulation – vegan anarchist primitivist

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