I am going to try to do something which in all likelihood is beyond my capacity to adequately complete. And yet it may be the most critical issue facing mankind. An issue that separates thinkers into opposing camps and produces the kind of conflict, existential conflict, now ongoing in Ukraine and soon to spread more widely. It is the kind of issue which produces elitism and the growth of exceptionalist groups whose only aim is to dominate and/or exterminate others. It is the concept that may have no application outside the boundaries within which sentient life may exist on this single planet on which we live , anywhere else across the whole universe. It intimately concerns us. You and I. Although you may have never even given thought to it personally. It is the concept that there is a limit to the number of people (human beings) who may live in reasonable harmony, safety and relative ease and comfort, here, within the confines of the breathable atmosphere, solid ground, and long-term productive capacity for the needs of sustaining that life, inherent in the natural planet conditions.
Now, I do not intend – not having the patience or time to thoroughly research the subject – to lay out all the many arguments surrounding this issue (or non-issue depending on your viewpoint), even if I could. Books have been written about those things. Let it suffice that logic dictates – since the Earth is not measurably growing bigger over time – that there must of necessity be a limit to the count of humans who can successfully exist on planet Earth. That is not to say that – to take it to its logical conclusion – every square metre of ground would contain at least one human. Or even boxed layers of humans. The limit, given they all, at a minimum, need to eat and also excrete waste products, would be reached long before that point is reached. I will waste no more time on that other than to say that anyone who does not think the number of humans on the planet does not now or at some future point represent a potential problem, is a fool.
So, given that we know or are given to understand (confirmed by personal observation if you have been around long enough, or even government statistics) that the number of humans is growing every year by a steady average of 80+ million per year (the difference between births and deaths) over the past 50 years – the greatest actual and steady prolonged annual numerical rate of increase as far as we know, ever – is there a need to be concerned about that?
One area that is often given as a matter of concern is the rapid rise in the total number of people over the last 80 years in particular. That rise gradually beginning to be in evidence since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and especially from the mid-nineteenth century. Our numbers have increased by a factor of almost x6 since that time, by a factor of x4 in just a little over the past 80 years, actually doubling over less than the most recent 50 years. So, yes, there is undoubtedly a problem. But what to do about it?
The population will not double again in another 50 years, or ever. And we should in fact not be looking for ‘doublings’ at all, since that is another misleading statistic favoured by the academics who speak of ‘exponential growth’ as though it mattered. It doesn’t. We have reached the point where such measures no longer apply. Something, some end-point event, must occur long before the next potential doubling of the population. We should not even be looking for the next ‘billion’ after the one due in a few months (Dec/Jan). Every fresh annual 80+ million should be looked at as a social failure. It is now a matter of every fresh million people, arriving every four and a bit days (365/80 = 4.56), that counts.
Before you rise up in anger at what I am saying, let me say that this in no way diminishes the value of every new life. It doesn’t. Every life is precious, and it could and should be said that every living person was actually meant to be here. “You area child of the universe. You have a right to be here” – as I reprised the Desiderata saying a few days ago. That cannot be denied. It must not be denied, or we lose all our humanity, and become simply animals, or ‘Great Reseters’ or ‘population imploders’ or ‘western exceptionalists’ – take your pick!
So, what to do about it – I ask again? Catch-22? Inevitable Doom? So much for the value of life if there is no way out. And, trust me, there is no way out. We cannot stop what is about to occur sometime in the near future.
Already, we see collapse all around us (in the west anyway – which is where it needs to start). And that is where the greatest hurt will come. Because of our expectations. Our overrated self-importance. Our over-inflated egos. Our ‘devil take the hindmost’ ethos. There is a food crisis coming (nothing to do with Russia) for which the west is solely responsible. We will most likely starve. If we don’t starve, we will most likely suffer illness, leading to death, from either newly released pathogens (courtesy the Great Reseters – or the US) or from the ones we (the fully vaxxed, that is) allowed ourselves to be injected with in the last couple of years. If we don’t die from illness, we will find ourselves without shelter or the means of finance to support ourselves in a dissolving society that thought ‘debt’ was a realistic way of life. The west will surely die. And many others will likely also die. What we (or they) will not die from, or are least likely to die from, is war or the horrors of a sudden or prolonged nuclear extinction. As everything else collapses, the appetite for such dire activities will be far from anyone’s mind (at least that is my hope). There are enough other ways to die, aplenty.
I don’t want to make this essay all about population as I have done that in a number of previous writings, but I just want to make one further point, and then bring this right up to date with current events.
It is often postulated that population, following other natural growth situations, is growing exponentially. It is of course, when viewed year to year (based on annually collected statistics), or actually from any point in time to another. Because any change (or no change) to the beginning and ending values of population count for that period can be described by an exponent associated with the starting value (that is, it is the exponent [a multiplying factor] which describes what has happened over the time period. Providing that exponentiated value with the potential to be used as a projective mechanism for possible future change – if that was, by design, the purpose of making the calculation (and why else would you do it?).
What is exponentiality? Mathematically, it is simply a given value (a number) modified by another value (called an ‘exponent’) representing a multiplier of the original value with itself – usually to calculate change in the value across some measurable factor, like time. That is, the initial value multiplied by itself an ‘exponent value’ number of times. This has nothing to do with growing faster over time (as is often thought and expressed about exponentiality) – which is why it is meaningless when applied to population growth – other than describing the change between two points it represents. In fact, describing the modification of a value exponentially can result in that value increasing, decreasing, remaining exactly the same, or resolving to the value of either ‘0’ (zero) or ‘1’ (one). Or also occasionally being described as ‘undefined’ or ‘indeterminate’. Some of those alternatives, of course, representing outcomes we would not experience in reality.
Removing all mystery from exponentiality, the all-important ‘exponent’ is calculable from the division of the measured value at the end of the period by the value at the start of the period* (both of which must be known, unless we want to delve into the realm occupied by seers) – the simplest of equations where two out of three values must be known in order to calculate the third.
* Time of course is not the only basis for exponentiality. Change across any set of measurable features will do.
So, why am I talking about population growth? Answer: Because it is of vital and central interest to most of what is happening in our world today. Whether you know it or not, it is a subject vital to your existence …and don’t you want to know why you are unlikely to live out your full life-span?
Well, I have failed to say what I intended to talk about and I can’t extend this far enough to do so. So let me just give a couple of references.
I read two up-to-date articles today, both of which I consider to be important and are also related to what I have been talking about here – which drew me to consider doing this essay.
The first is by Pepe Escobar – ‘For Those About to Rock, NAM 2.0 Salutes You’ – Pepe Escobar on Strategic Culture Foundation – in which, among other important news, he makes reference to the information below.
The second is the speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin a few days ago. Of which I provide here the full transcript from his official website so you can get the real meaning of what he said – rather than commentary. This will be the most important speech you could have ever read up to this point in time. And it gives hope that there will still be some role for humanity after the sinking and perhaps the rescue of some of the west. Some way that mankind may continue to prosper or regain prosperity after the looming fall.
‘ASI forum Strong Ideas for a New Time’ – Speech by Vladimir Putin – July 20, 2022.
I wish I could have expressed all this much more fully, but this will have to do. Make of it what you will.
My best wishes to all people. To the future of mankind.