Anytime someone in an elite or powerful position starts saying the population is too high we should get worried. You can bet it isn’t their friends and family that they are talking about overpopulating the Earth.
Of course, they are talking about people whom they consider peasants. Definitely me, and probably you too. We are the ones crowding this little planet, and we are the ones whose carbon footprint they say is a problem. Nevermind that the elites burn more carbon flying to their global warming conferences than I use in a year.
But these elites are just so amazingly unimaginative. Either that or they just don’t want to find a solution to accommodate Earth’s growing population.
Prince William and his wife Kate are just months away from adding a third child to their family. Yet “voluntary family limitation” was his best suggestion for tackling a growing population. He specifically mentioned the fact that Africa’s population would double in the next 25 years.
You might expect a Prince to lack imagination on how to solve big problems. But shouldn’t the famous “genius” Steven Hawking be better at it? His best suggestion is to colonize other planets, which seems like quite the undertaking. After all, he predicts armageddon within 100 years, which seems like space colonization is a race against the clock. He certainly cloaks his predictions in a healthy dose of apocalyptic doom.
I believe we have reached the point of no return. Our Earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.
Let’s get one fact straight. The rate at which Earth’s population is growing has slowed. Yes, the population itself is still increasing, but as the global standard of living rises, birth rates decrease.
Earth’s population is no longer growing exponentially. Most indicators suggest that the population of Earth will level out around 11 billion people sometime around 2100.
And if everything else stayed the same, that would make some places quite crowded and unpleasant. I left Massachusetts in part because the population density is already too high. It was getting crowded and I like my space.
But doesn’t that suggest an alternative right there? I was able to move to a mini-farm in the middle of nowhere because I work online. As more people work remotely, proximity to a city will be much less important. Advances in transportation should have the same effect.
The other thing that annoys me is the utter lack of creativity and innovation that the elite exhibit when making these dire predictions. Space, they think, is the final frontier. Their imaginations run wild and skip right over the massive amount of space right under our noses.
Singapore is familiar with overpopulation. Because of innovative government, the island nation is a popular destination for emigrants. Singapore has expanded the island by importing massive amounts of sand to grow the land base. But they have also started digging.
Underneath Singapore, at varying depths, are pedestrian walkways, infrastructure service tunnels, public transportation, and an ammunition storage facility the size of 400 football fields. There is even an oil storage cavern the height of a nine-story building which can store 580 Olympic size swimming pools worth of oil.
Singapore isn’t stopping here.
The creative minds in our local government have recently launched an R&D programme called The Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge. The challenged statement is to “create new space cost-effectively and optimise the use of space to sustain Singapore’s long-term growth and resilience”. One of its many focuses is to create underground space for better urban living.
See where a little ingenuity can get you?
About 95% of the 7.3 billion people on Earth live on 10% of the land mass. Less than half of the Earth’s landmass is used by humans, whether for agriculture, industry, or homes. That leaves plenty of space to expand, even without going underground.
But 33% of the land on Earth is a desert. Doesn’t it seem easier to transform a desert into inhabitable land than to establish an Earthling colony on the moon or Mars? At least deserts have breathable air.
And it may not actually be that hard to make a desert into an oasis.
Stories abound about people in remote places singlehandedly reforesting acres upon acres of land.
One man in India planted a tree a day for 35 years, restoring over 1,300 acres of desert into a forest.
One of the founders of Church’s Chicken used his money to buy dry rocky land in Texas. Seven wells drilled hundreds of feet deep turned up no water. But by simply planting the right kind of native grass, rains started to percolate into the natural reservoir beneath. 50 years later, springs abound, wildlife has returned, and the ranch is a lush paradise.
A couple in Northern China planted 67 hectares of saxaul trees to stop the desertification.
A man in Africa named Yacouba planted 30 acres with different trees to revive an old farming practice that allows him to grow food in harsh desert conditions.
The best part about all these stories is that they involve individual action. These people didn’t need government grants and scientific studies. They didn’t have to limit anyone’s freedom, and they didn’t have to convince a majority to vote their way. They simply started doing what they knew would help them and their children live in a better environment.
That makes me feel better about the food forest that I am growing on 10 sandy acres of the Florida panhandle. Over a dozen trees and many smaller plants have been added to the sandy soil, along with composted leaves, sticks, and goat manure. The reason we do it is to provide fresh fruit for us. A fortunate byproduct is restoring a sandy sunbleached pasture.
And all this is while plenty of good unused land still exists on Earth. These efforts will only accelerate as the need arises, with even more productive methods.
Prince William is worried about Africa’s population doubling. But Africa has about 0 people living in the Sahara desert at present. The land that Yacouba transformed from desert to forest sits on the edge of the Sahara desert.
Desalination of seawater provides another promising tool to turn deserts green. But the oceans themselves are yet another untapped resource for a growing population.
About 71% of the Earth is made up of oceans.
Seasteaders have been the butt of jokes for quite some time. But despite the adversity, dedicated people have soldiered on. Seasteading promises places to live, new sources of sustainable food, and positive impacts on the environment. To learn more, check out the book review I wrote on Joe Quirk’s book Seasteading: How Floating Islands Will Enrich the Poor, Cure the Sick, and Liberate Humanity from Politicians.
So the elite can have a field day with their doom and gloom predictions. But smart individuals know better. We don’t need drastic and genocidal policies to reduce Earth’s population. And we don’t even need to look as far as outer space. Individual action can solve any problems that come from an increasing population.