Today is the second day of the demonstration of the Extinction Rebellion in London. I am fully in sympathy with this movement to force governments to stop carbon dioxide emissions. But I am skeptical that this movement will succeed. And, after all, they are not addressing the underlying cause of our situation — overpopulation.
See also the interview with the co-founder of the Extinction Rebellion, Roger Hallam.
I know that it is very difficult to predict with any accuracy about what will happen to humans — there are too many factors to consider. Nonetheless, there are some generalizations which can be made. One is that the sun will burn out is some 4 to 5 billion years. Another is that given finite resources, infinite growth is impossible. It is this last generalization which has been at the horizon of my thinking — made explicit by Thomas Malthus, who in 1789 published an essay noting that resources (specifically food) grow arithmetically, while populations grow exponentially. The conclusion seemed obvious to me: there is a limit to
growth. And a report by that name, “The Limits to Growth” was published in 1973, using a computer to take into account various factors. [Here is a documentary about this project:
The criticism was that the predictions failed. This is true. But the claim that there is a limit to growth with finite resources seems to me to be a truism, as does Paul Ehrich’s “The Population Bomb” (1968). Again, the criticism of these books was not that there is a population problem, but a disagreement about the severity of it, and what will take care of this problem.
We are now living in the midst of an ecological crisis, as well as with other possible global collapses. This impending sense of collapse has been analyzed and proclaimed by a host of people. One of them is Jared Diamond in his book “Collapse” (2005). Below is his 2003 TED talk on this subject:
Recently, I came across the compelling documentary film “Prophets of Doom” (2011):
It includes the following six “prophets”:
Michael Ruppert (1951-2014): “Confronting Collapse,” “Crossing the Rubicon”
John Cronin: “The Riverkeepers”
James Howard Kunstler: “The Long Emergency,” “Home From Nowhere”
Hugo De Garis
Robert Gleason: “End of Days”
Chris Hedges, The Myth of Progress and the Collapse of Complex Societies