A Winning Strategy to Save Humanity?

In the essay “Let’s Reduce Global Population!” J. Kenneth Smail gives ten inescapable realities as to why humans as a species need to reduce global population if we are to survive as a species. The first reality is that over the past two centuries the Earth has experienced unprecedented human population growth. The second reality is that even if a zero population growth program (ZPG) was implemented today, it would most likely fail to stabilize the population in a reasonable amount of time. The third reality is that fertility rates have been increasing and are likely to continue in that trend. The fourth reality is that rapid population decline is usually on a regionalized level and NOT global. The fifth reality is that the “window” for implementing population control is even smaller than we estimate today. The sixth reality is that the Earth’s long term carrying capacity is finite and that what could be supported, most likely should not be supported. The seventh reality is that “sustainable growth” is a fanciful pipe dream that is not realistic. The eighth reality is that only about 20% of the world’s population today lives in a generally adequate way and that the other 80% of the population is striving to become more like the 20%. This will mean even greater conflict to come. The ninth reality is that the I=PAT equation is a guesstimate at best with many factors that are impossible to predict such as, population growth, energy consumption, and new technology. Finally the tenth reality is that “guided social engineering” will be necessary to insure the survival of our species and tough choices will have to be made about the survival of other forms of life on the planet as well. When Smail indicates that the Earth “long-term carrying capacity” he is talking about the balance between the Earth’s natural resources and the exploitation of these resources by humans. We only have one Earth and one ecosystem to experiment on, and when the resources are gone they are gone forever. We will never get another shot to “fix” the Earth on which we live. If we ruin the Earth in the next few generations, we will ruin the Earth for all of humanity. Smail sees a solution in drastically reducing world population size to around 2-3 billion people through voluntary reductions. He also sees a solution in treating the Earth more like our home than as a resource that was put here to exploit. The “stewardship” he refers to is indeed going to be absolutely necessary if we are to continue to survive and thrive in this planet. We need to treat the Earth more like a terrarium in which we live. We have nowhere else to go and we are quickly possibly irreversibly damaging the only home we have ever known.
By Gary

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