Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The death of mankind due to population growth?

Have you ever wondered about the ever growing population when it comes to Exponential growth?

So let’s break it down with some simple ideas.

There is the story of a queen who asked what she could do for a subject? Could she give him food? Instead, he asked her to place one grain of rice on the first square of a chess board, double it on the second square on the second day, double that amount on the third day on the third square and keep going in this manner until all squares had been accounted for. Seems like a simple request right? Only if you do this he ends up with 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of rice.  For those math minded, the equation is 2^64 - 1, since there are 64 squares on a chessboard.  By the way in words that is: 

eighteen Quintilian ,
four hundred forty six quadrillion ,
seven hundred forty four trillion ,
seventy three billion ,
seven hundred nine million ,
five hundred fifty one thousand ,
six hundred fifteen

Another example involved pennies and a month. Take 31 days, one penny the first day, double that the second day and so till you have reached 31 days. This equals to $10,737,418.23. That's almost eleven million dollars!

Or take a sheet of paper, fold it in half, fold it in half again. At 7 foldings it is about as thick as a notebook. At 12 foldings you will find you can’t fold it anymore but let’s pretend you can.  At 20 foldings you have passed the height of Mount Everest. Do this 42 times and you now have a sheet of paper that will reach the moon. Do it just 8 times more and now you have reached  the sun.  Amazing huh?

But it is very scary when you think about this in terms of the human race and population increase, and the limited amount of area and resources we have on this earth.  

However, there is more to this when you start to dig deeper.

Let’s start at the beginning. It took the human race from the dawn of man till about 500 BC to reach the 100 million people mark.

Around 500 A.D to A.D. 600 the population had doubled to 200 million.

By 1250 it had doubled again to 400 million. Shortly after this, we had wars and sickness and that took its toll.

Then in 1805 or 1887, we reached the one billion people mark (we do not know for sure when exactly).  Now think about this, it had taken us thousands of years to reach this point. But within 100 years, we doubled that number to 2 billion people. This happened around 1927 or so.

In 1959, the year before I was born, we hit 3 billion. The year of the baby boomers.  We progress from there to:

1974 - 4 billion people
1987 - 5 billion people
1999 - 6 billion people
2011 - 7 billion people
And as I write this today on Feb 28th at One O’Clock in Playa De Carmen in Mexico, the population clock says we have 7,487,607,851 With 218 thousand births and 90 thousand deaths.

The deaths are important because that does slow our growth rate, as we will see later in this blog.

It is believed that if we keep growing as we have, we will reach 9.5 billion people on our planet by 2050
The largest growth rate numbers that appear in the Sub-Sahara African nation area, and it is at an alarming rate where the population is expected to double by 2050 and to quadruple by 2100. 

Right now the world is adding 81 million people a year. This is equal to the size of Egypt or Germany.
So what does this mean for world population? This a much more complex question than it seems at face value.

It also opens us to many more questions.

1. At what point is growth and population too much? Mankind has already become an ecological force in this universe, much as weather, fire and the like. We affect the earth as much as any of these.
2. When will we exceed the sustainable point for man to survive, re food and water?
3. How many doublings can we take before there simply is no room for mankind to exist?
4. What can we do about this and should we do anything?
5. Will the humans constant will to survive be their demise in the end?

And so on the questions get asked. Everyone has an answer, and everyone has more questions than answers.

Now here is the thing, population growth does not grow exponentially, people die and it takes two children to replace two parents. But despite mortality rates, plagues and disease, our population does indeed still keep growing as you can see by the numbers earlier.

A Malthusian Catastrophe on the horizon?

A Malthusian Catastrophe is the situation where a society finds itself returning to a subsistence level of existence as a result of overtaxing its available agricultural resources. The theory was first put out by Thomas Malthus in 1779

There are many who say we have surpassed our sustainable point. That there is not enough food in the world, but this is not quite true.  A study at McGill University in 2012 said that we already grow enough food for 10 billion people. They also told us that the past two decades prior to 2012, the rate of global food production had increased faster than the rate of global population growth. This is a good thing. But there is a problem....getting the food to the people. 

The human body needs about 2,100 calories. In 1996 the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that the world was producing enough food to provide every man, woman and child with 2,700 calories a day. That’s 600 calories more per person than we to need to exist.

The problem of hunger is not the amount of food we are producing. It is poverty. And this is only going to get worse if we do not produce more food. The more scarce food is, the more expensive it gets. At some point, if the world growth keeps growing unstopped, we will not be able to sustain it.

Now here is the interesting thing. Before we all start to freak the hell out. The growth rate has slowed. It is moving down dramatically. It is in a freefall right now.

In 1968, we reached the relative peak in global population growth rate. We added 73.2 million to a world population of 3.54 billion. The world grew at a record 2.09 percent it was between 1966 and 1972 that the world was in a historical peak and the only time in recorded history when the world’s population grew above two percent.

In 1988 the world gained 93 million people, this year we will gain 81 million or so and it is projected that by 2020 we will be at a 1 percent growth rate adding about 76 million people a year and by 2050 we will be down to a 0.5 percent growth rate bringing us to 17th and 18th century numbers that were at about 46 million people. 

The good thing here is we have slowed down our growth but have not stopped the growth.  An estimated billion people every 15 years is still a lot of people.  Though there is a belief by some that at the year 2045 our population growth will halt at around 8 billion people. The U.N. believes we will peak at 9 billion people.

So why the slowdown? Our wars are bigger, more people alive, so more people die of disease, there are more people living in cities who have smaller families, price of raising a family limits the amount of family members in non-poverty families, the longer people live, procreating is not the center of a families world, and a myriad of other causes.

I believe that just because we see an end to the growth it does not mean that we should not be aware of it, be aware of our effect on this earth and try to leave it in a better place for our next generations. To not destroy it. Because I believe as we destroy it, we destroy ourselves, our very way of life and all the things we enjoy about our world. No one really knows the answers but we should think about consequences. Nobody wants to talk about limiting the amount of babies people can have. Nobody wants to talk about other solutions. We should talk about them, what is fair, what is not, what is humane what is not?  and we should discuss these options early and not wait till it is too late, this is not to say we should act,  But, we can talk about them now and doing so will allow us to brainstorm, to find real solutions or decide  if we need do nothing at all.

The world has been paying attention for quite a while now, in secret usually.  Atrocities have been inflicted. Dictatorial ideas have been put in place. But can we learn from them? Good or bad?

In 1979 China imposed a one child family plan. It allowed some exemptions, for instance, ethnic minorities were exempt, however with these exemptions by 2015, 36% of China’s population was subject to this one-child policy. And 53% were allowed to have a second child if the first was a girl. Fines were imposed and they even went as far as to force the policy with implanted contraceptives or sterilization.  This affected over 400 million Chinese. China claimed that over 400 babies were prevented that year. This number has been disputed by pointing out that 3/4 of the decline in the fertility rate was already being reached before 1970, nine years prior to the implementation of the one-child policy, and they point out much of it was due to the decline in economic growth. Ironically although many see this as a horrific policy, they say over 76 percent of Chinese supported the policy. This policy was phased out in 2015.  Jan 2016, China went to a two-child policy.

Vietnam has used “một hoặc hai con, which means "one or two childrenpolicy or the choice of a payment of government subsidies only for the first two children.

An interesting note on this, Vietnam has reduced its fertility rate to 1.8 percent (Births per women) which is lower than the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. The amount that it takes for a population to replace itself from one generation to the next.remember it takes two children to replace two parents so anything above 2 is an increase.  Looking at that it seems like a great idea until you realize the consequences. Families are fined, this affects mostly the poor. And even more sadly, abortion rates rise, Rich people are exempt, and there is a host of other complications that arise.

In the 1970’s in Hong Kong, people were encouraged through the campaign, “Two Is Enough” to have only two children or less. They did not enforce but highly encouraged it through education and a pride in responsibility. Currently. the birth rate in Hong Kong is 1.4 percent, one of the lowest in the world.

From 1990’s till late 2006 the Iranian Government stated that “Islam favored families with only two children.” In 2012 the Ayatollah Khamenei declared that the policy made sense 20 years ago, but it’s continuation in years later was just wrong.”

In July 2012. a think tank in the United Kingdom recommended what the Daily Mail labeled “a two-child policy”. They claimed that Britain’s high birth rate was a major contributing factor to climate change.

There are a host of extreme suggestions that people do not like to discuss. Many of them are difficult, horrific, defy human rights and just cruel. But again, to learn we should discuss them. Here are a few.

1. Right to die or forced age limits
2. Sterilizations
3. Eugenics

The fact that soon, by the middle of this century the average age of life will be 88, and by the end of the century living to a 100 may become the norm is definitely a concern for man and for the global population growth problem.

The right to die:

Six years ago, Taro Aso, the Japanese finance minister state that the elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die." He referred to them as “tube people.”

Dr. James Beattie, a top Cardiologist in England believes that doctors resuscitate too many older people because society does not see enough death, leaving many people unwilling to accept mortality.  Now neither is suggesting that we let them die to enable population growth but it has been suggested by others and in serious terms and their arguments are used to support these claims.

Some claim assisted Euthanasia would help in a minor way with our population growth numbers. They argue that it is humane for those with debilitating painful disease and those faced with a horrible death. I agree with the latter but not sure I agree with the population growth association.


India instituted sterilization camps in 1975. For 21 months mass sterilization was implemented. Women were persuaded to voluntarily go through this procedure with cash incentives.  Those that did not were forced to undertake it. It was reported that in one camp at an abandoned hospital in a rural part of India a doctor with unsterilized equipment sterilized 83 women in 5 hrs. Many women died as a result of this practice.

Other penalties were put in place, like not being able to hold an office appointment if you have a large family or owning a gun. Many of these women are so poor that the money they get is a huge incentive.  More recently India is finally looking at injected contraceptives. But again, poverty is an issue.

Uzbekistan is said to have secretly sterilized women at doctors offices without their knowledge after their second child. It is reported it was a policy starting in 2009.

And if you think that forced serialization was only in third world countries consider this. In Canada, yes Canada, two Canadian provinces, Alberta and British Columbia, performed compulsory sterilization programs in the 20th century with an eugenic agenda. The Sexual Sterilization Act" of Alberta was enacted in 1928 and repealed in 1972. The Alberta government apologized for the forced sterilization of over 2,800 people. Approximately 850 Albertans who were sterilized under the Sexual Sterilization Act and were awarded $142 million in Canadian dollars for damages. If you have read so far you have an even bigger surprise coming up about a practice in the U.S.A.

China, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Israel (on Ethiopian Jewish emigrants), Peru, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and even the U.S. have all been associated with secret sterilizations, forced, or encouraged sterilization of women.  Some for Eugenic reasons, some for racial and some for population growth.


Then there is another horrific belief still held by some today, “Eugenics. The word was first coined in the 1890’s by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, and quickly gained support then. Galton, and others, believed that eugenics should develop from a science to a policy and finally into a religion.” There is that word; “Religion”, used to make something the law of the people.

Eugenicists believed that those genetically defective members of society were human "weeds" who must be prevented from passing on their "deleterious" genes.

And do not think for a minute that our good old U.S.A had it’s hands clean in this.  In fact during the Progressive era, ca. 1890 to 1920, the USA was the first country to undertake compulsory sterilization programs for the purpose of eugenics. See the map of states that held this legislation.

Eugenicists helped Hitler’s rise to power and gave him their support.  They were driven underground after the second world war. But they emerged intact under another name, Crypto-eugenics.  (And many do not know this but Planned Parenthood started in their offices.)  They also believe that the aging are a burden to society.  More recently we see them on many of the right to die cases.  The right to die is certainly a hot topic and has merits but Eugenicists have their own agenda, do not be fooled.

Many right-to-die advocates point out that World population will stop growing when the birth rate equals the death rate. Remember, It takes two children to replace two dead parents. Giving a person the right to choose if they want to die or not due to sickness is a humane thing to do and helps with population growth and food and medical supplies in the world. I believe they have a point. I certainly do not want to die in pain, hooked up to machines keeping me alive for what? To put money in the doctor's pockets, to make family members feel like they are doing something,  when the prognosis is a few months extra to live and the behavior will leave a family with debt and a memory of my long demise.  At this stage, I don’t think I am going to affect the population growth in any way at all.

More human ways to control birth rate but also are touchy to speak about are:


Banning divorce (the reason being people have more children with other partners)


Birth control





Pride in responsibility for your family and population.

For more on these look them up yourself.

Unseen Consequences of growth rate in a country. What do you do when your country is not making enough babies to support your country?

Funny aside to all this gloom and doom, in 2014 Denmark had a .4 population growth rate of 1.73 children per women (less than the two needed for growth). They were headed to a population decline and a possible labor replacement crises. (see there are other factors to look at.)  The Danish travel agency Spies Rejser was worried they would not have people to book travel and would lose business ..... sooo… they started an add campaign aimed towards adults with the slogan, “JUST DO IT!”  The commercial started with a voice saying, “Can sex save Denmark’s future?”  Then a sad elderly couple came upon the screen. Denmark’s population problem was described. Next, a young adult girl visits a hotel where she was conceived.  You then saw her try on lingerie and visiting Paris with her boyfriend. The Danes were then encouraged to take a trip by being told that they have 46 percent more sex when on Vacation. Even an ovulation discount was offered when booked through them and if you could prove you conceived while on vacation with them, you received three years of baby supplies

Singapore, when faced with declining population took up with the candy maker Mentos for an add that said, “Get your night on.”

When Romania was faced with the same issue they took it a step further. Their population growth was around zero in the 1960’s (I was born 1960). So Romania banned abortion and contraceptives, they made divorce almost impossible and imposed taxes on childless families. If you were over 25 and did not have kids you were subject to up to a 20 percent tax increase. Have a kid and you received tax incentive breaks. Have three kids and you had a 30 percent cut in your taxes.

In Russia from 1944 till 1986, if you had more than 10 children and raised them you were awarded the “Mother  Heroine”.  It was a way for them to increase their workforce under the guise of “looking out for the health of mother and child”. These women also received added retirement benefits, food and payment of public utilities. 430,000 women were awarded this title.

When South Korea reached the low 1.2 point they gave employees every third Wednesday “early closing time” for “family time.” Read into that, “go home and get your groove on.”

But hold on a minute, maybe we do need to “Freak out” for our future generations instead of getting “our groove on."    

Think about this.:

Even if growth slows down, technology is allowing us to live longer and this means less people dying. Less birth mortality, means more babies living. At some point, logically, the population growth rate will start climbing again and we are back with the problem we were all concerned about when I started this. Maybe we need to all be educated from a young age to be responsible in our family growth as a unit. Do we really need more than two children each, can we afford it? And if we can afford it should we? Do we want to lose the right to make this choice for ourselves? What is the family unit, what is healthy? AND SO ON... I certainly do not have the answers. But it is something we need to really think about before it is too late.


As Bill Gates points out, we are due for some big catastrophe; a disease, meteorite or comet crash, climate issue, a super solar flare (unlikely), a man-made catastrophe (more likely), or something that will kill large amounts of our population. Mother Gaia always seems to find a way to take care of herself, to rid itself of any pestilence, of which we have become one. Maybe Mother nature will take this problem into her own hands to take protect herself. Maybe? Or maybe we should check ourselves before this happens? Do something nice for the earth for a change.

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