There are three basic paths to world population control: famine, homicide and birth control. All of these are unpleasant, and unpopular, but birth control seems to be the most politically unpopular, followed by war with famine being the most accepted as it seems to be within the natural order of things. But, very few modern people have experienced famine as a way of life, even if the process has been with humanity from the beginning. Food hasn’t been a major issue in the Americas for hundreds of years for the immigrant populations, at least, although the displaced native populations have suffered, and withered. There have been a few famines in the world in more recent times, but most of these have been local, and politically motivated genocidal campaigns. That is population control of the worst kind. It is the most vicious, and it is to be avoided by any means possible because, aside from the suffering, it creates massive stresses for the rest of the world which may trigger a worldwide military conflagration. My goal in all of these Probaway – Lifehaven Strategies has been to help humanity survive for a long, long time in as healthy a condition as possible, but to survive even if some Doomsday disaster occurs or some unpalatable personal sacrifices must be endured.
The question of what is good for humanity or what is moral, right and all of the rest of those types of philosophical conundrums are easily answered from what is generally considered a Darwinian point of view. Actually, not Darwin — I let him off of that hook, and Wallace too — but rather the point of view that I have developed. Basically, what I consider good, in the abstract, is what maximizes the total number of healthy hours of human life. I like the phrase, “The goal of life is to maximize the healthy, happy, wise and wealthy aspects of life” in that order of importance, sort of Ben Franklinish. Ultimately there isn’t much we can do for the last three (happy, wise and wealthy) for Earth’s people in aggregate, because they have to find those things for themselves through their own personal efforts. However, we do have some leverage on providing a healthy habitat for all living people, and for future people. The concept presented here of maximizing a total number of healthy human hours is intended to included all history — past, present and future. We can’t do anything about the past, and our effect on the present is limited to ourselves, and our immediate surroundings, but in the future we can have some effect on almost everyone to some degree. In this perspective, a living person’s happiness whom I don’t know, and almost certainly never shall know is equivalent to that of a person living a hundred years from now, whom I have essentially no possibility of knowing. Of course those people with whom I have a personal relationship, even a distant one, fall into a more standard relationship of how I treat them. I treat them as appropriately as I can. But, this relationship isn’t an abstract general goodness, it is a specific personally directed goodness, and it involves a very few people indeed. What is discussed here is a general human goodness based on the healthiness of all humanity.
With that definition of good declared, the problem of what to do to bring about the maximum number of hours of human health, becomes more tractable. Project our point of reference to some really distant time in the future when all conceivable trace of humanity has been eroded away by the processes of time. Say five billion years from now; from that distant perspective after there are no more human beings, there will be a definite number of healthy human hours that will have been lived. Perhaps the qualifying term healthy should be dropped as it confuses the discussion, but I don’t like to think about some miserable hours that no one would choose to live, and they only endure them in hopes of getting through to some healthy hours. In any case there is a definite number of human hours, and the argument is the same whether or not the people are happy, wise or wealthy or simply surviving.
So, by this approach a population of a thousand persons living at some particular place for a thousand years equals one hundred people living there for ten thousand years, or ten people living one hundred thousand years or one person living one after another at this location for one million years. It is all the same in this approach. There have been one million human years that have been lived; multiply those years out to hours if you like. At present there are about 6.7 billion people living on planet Earth, but it is abundantly clear that the planet can not support this number of people for millions of years, because there are some critical resources that get used up, and are no longer available. Also, there are pollution problems which can not be sustained indefinitely, because there is only so much atmosphere, and ocean to be filled up with effluvium. Something quite different has to happen, and the way things are going that something is going to be very unpleasant! A few years ago I was thinking in terms of a Billion Happy People, but that is no longer possible, because there is just too much environmental stress. The stress is growing, and even if humans vanished this instant the global warming, and its environmental consequences, would continue for over one hundred years. And, just in case you haven’t noticed, the planets population hasn’t been pulling back toward a sustainable population. Here is the shocker: that sustainable population is only about ten to at most one hundred million people. The calculation is easy. The last time the Earth was able to digest the CO2 produced by humans was in 1825, with a population of one billion farmers. Each of those farmers produced, at most, one tenth of the CO2 that a modern city person produces, and so the maximum sustainable modern population is, at most, one tenth of a billion, or one hundred million, max. One hundred million people divided into the six point seven billion current world population gives sixty seven times too many people. Your driving a Prius, and changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescents isn’t going to save the world. Sorry, I wish it would.
With modern technology there is a technical fix to the problem but no one will support it, and nearly everyone, perhaps even me, will fight against it. That is to tag every single person on earth with a transponder of some sort. Perhaps a passive RFID would be enough in the city, but in the wilderness a powered form would probably be necessary. These are so cheap they could be placed in every person on the planet for a few billion dollars. Cattle are already being tagged, and tracked in the method being discussed to make sure they don’t get diseases, like mad cow disease, and when they do the disease can be tracked to its source. When a person was born they would be given their personal ID, and could go about their life in a totally normal way. The difference becomes, after this is all implemented, that when a person is walking along the street, and they don’t have an RFID they would be brought in and given one. Everyone would be identifiable, and identified. Perhaps with focused beam scanners individual persons could even be monitored from afar perhaps even from space.
Go see the movie of an RFID being implanted.
After this monitoring is in place it becomes possible to define who is going to have children. When each person is known, and the desirable number of people in aggregate is determined — hopefully by some fair and honest means — then specified persons could be designated to have a child. Using this method the total number of humans could be adjusted to within the carrying capacity of the Earth at the technological level that people decided that they wanted to live within. With a new and much cleaner super high tech society the population might be a lot more than one hundred million because there might be developed methods for sequestering unsavory detritus. But whatever the technology there is an ultimate number which can be sustained in that life style upon the planet Earth. Ultimately, when this society was fully stabilized there would be very modest limitation on reproduction.
I don’t like this method of controlling people like barnyard animals, but one must consider the alternatives: recurrent famines, and thermonuclear wars which at some point annihilates humanity. I’m sorry, but installing compact fluorescents, and recycling your old pop bottles isn’t going to be enough.