ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Science, Mathematics, Medicine, and Technology
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 15th April 2019, 09:15 PM   #1
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
What would be the ideal global population in terms of sustainability?

Here are the issues that I would like to address:

1) Sustainability
2) Minimizing harmful impacts on the natural environment
3) High standards of living for everybody
4) Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions
5) Minimizing the depletion of exhaustible resources
6) End the destruction of natural habitats like rain forests, grasslands, wetlands, and lakes, rivers and oceans
7) Fishing should be sustainable
8) Minimize the extinction of other species due to human activity (possible exceptions for harmful species).
9) Minimize pollution

Population control should be humane, using tools like family planning, and ideally voluntary. In most advanced economies, the rate of reproduction has fallen below replacement rate, so I believe that the population could be gradually reduced to a sustainable size without using any inhumane methods. Just give women and men control over their own bodies and reproductive choices. The tools for this already exist. I believe that all forms of birth control should be free and/or affordable and easily accessible for those who want it.

I don't know if there's an ideal number, but I suspect that it's much fewer than what we have now. Maybe 1 or 2 or 3 billion? And could such a population be maintained for thousands or tens of thousands of years or more, and still achieve the above goals?
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 09:35 PM   #2
Venom
Master Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: United States
Posts: 2,255
I assume this is starting from our current standing, in which case I would add increased education and empowerment of women; propaganda (inhumane?) aimed at idealizing the two-child family.

I think 1 to 2 billion humans is enough.

We should aim for quality over quantity from there. Large investments in public education and including courses that will train students for practical situations outside of the usual curriculum; maybe how to make a fire or basic emergency medical training and to be a critical thinker/skeptic, etc.

^ETA: I think we should do this now
Venom is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 09:45 PM   #3
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
I don't know that you need to idealize two-child families. For some people the ideal number will be one or zero. For some others maybe more than 2. But it's the average that matters. If it's less than 2 on average, the population will gradually decrease.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 09:52 PM   #4
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,976
"Enough" is a completely inappropriate factor here: you could save the species Homo sapiens, with most of its genetic diversity, with probably less than 10 million.
If you can access the genetic engineering that is slowly coming online, 100,000 might be sufficient.

At the same time, if we were more coordinated on a global scale and less wasteful, we could easily accommodate 10x the current population and still leave large parts of the globe in natural preservers.

There is no ecosystem-determined population size when it comes to a specie that can fundamentally change the ecosystem it is living in.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isnít.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 10:09 PM   #5
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
At the same time, if we were more coordinated on a global scale and less wasteful, we could easily accommodate 10x the current population and still leave large parts of the globe in natural preservers.

There is no ecosystem-determined population size when it comes to a specie that can fundamentally change the ecosystem it is living in.
That sounds like a pipe dream to me. The "if we were more coordinated on a global scale and less wasteful" part. This is the human species we have, not the human species we might want to have. Let's acknowledge that human beings are not 100% rational beings and that coordination on a global scale isn't likely to happen in the near term.

Take our current population and multiply it by ten, and what? Hope and pray that they will all behave as you want them to behave?
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 10:12 PM   #6
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
"Enough" is a completely inappropriate factor here: you could save the species Homo sapiens, with most of its genetic diversity, with probably less than 10 million.
If you can access the genetic engineering that is slowly coming online, 100,000 might be sufficient.
I'm not trying to minimize human population unless it's absolutely necessary to achieve the above goals. I'd like to have it as big as it can be while still achieving the above.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 10:22 PM   #7
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,976
I don't see a way to make people have fewer children by conscious choice - that's the pipe dream in my opinion.

I have wondered if there is a way to have a "reverse" Pill: if we could somehow keep people infertile unless they make the choice to take a "baby-making Pill".

But given that our genes want to be passed on, I doubt this would be possible without severe side effects.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isnít.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 10:47 PM   #8
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I don't see a way to make people have fewer children by conscious choice - that's the pipe dream in my opinion.

I have wondered if there is a way to have a "reverse" Pill: if we could somehow keep people infertile unless they make the choice to take a "baby-making Pill".

But given that our genes want to be passed on, I doubt this would be possible without severe side effects.
It's already happening in many countries. About 80 countries in the world have fertility rates less than 2. Mostly these are developed economies, but it also includes China. I think it really is as simple as giving people access to birth control, for free if they are poor. Economic development and education of women also correlate with lower fertility (they probably also correlate with access to affordable birth control).

Why? Raising kids is hard work and expensive in developed countries.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

Last edited by Puppycow; 15th April 2019 at 10:49 PM.
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 11:14 PM   #9
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,408
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Here are the issues that I would like to address:

1) Sustainability
2) Minimizing harmful impacts on the natural environment
3) High standards of living for everybody
4) Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions
5) Minimizing the depletion of exhaustible resources
6) End the destruction of natural habitats like rain forests, grasslands, wetlands, and lakes, rivers and oceans
7) Fishing should be sustainable
8) Minimize the extinction of other species due to human activity (possible exceptions for harmful species).
9) Minimize pollution

Something that would address a large part, possibly the largest part, of points 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 would be animal agriculture on land.
Within just the last few hundred years we have completely changed the biomass distribution of the earth. We have shifted the vast majority of mammal and bird biomass from wild animals of many species to a handful of domestic animals and humans, mostly cattle, pigs and chickens.
The latest calculations estimate that we have turned 95.8% of the mammal biomass on the planet into humans and livestock. Poultry accounts for almost 3 times the biomass of all wild birds.
Animal agriculture is responsible for the majority of land and fresh water use as well as greenhouse gasses, habitat destruction and deforestation.

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I don't know if there's an ideal number, but I suspect that it's much fewer than what we have now. Maybe 1 or 2 or 3 billion? And could such a population be maintained for thousands or tens of thousands of years or more, and still achieve the above goals?
Something like 70% of agricultural land, not sure, is used to feed livestock.
We could probably feed everyone on the planet right now with what we produce if it was distributed efficiently. Without animal agriculture we would have an additional 70% space to grow food to feed humans with.

I have no idea what would be sustainable.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 11:46 PM   #10
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Something that would address a large part, possibly the largest part, of points 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 would be animal agriculture on land.
Within just the last few hundred years we have completely changed the biomass distribution of the earth. We have shifted the vast majority of mammal and bird biomass from wild animals of many species to a handful of domestic animals and humans, mostly cattle, pigs and chickens.
The latest calculations estimate that we have turned 95.8% of the mammal biomass on the planet into humans and livestock. Poultry accounts for almost 3 times the biomass of all wild birds.
Animal agriculture is responsible for the majority of land and fresh water use as well as greenhouse gasses, habitat destruction and deforestation.


Something like 70% of agricultural land, not sure, is used to feed livestock.
We could probably feed everyone on the planet right now with what we produce if it was distributed efficiently. Without animal agriculture we would have an additional 70% space to grow food to feed humans with.

I have no idea what would be sustainable.
That's an interesting point. Well, even if we don't change our eating habits, if there were fewer human mouths to feed, we would need fewer livestock to feed them, thus less land dedicated to raising livestock and food for livestock.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 15th April 2019, 11:48 PM   #11
rockinkt
Graduate Poster
 
rockinkt's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 1,289
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
Something that would address a large part, possibly the largest part, of points 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 would be animal agriculture on land.
Within just the last few hundred years we have completely changed the biomass distribution of the earth. We have shifted the vast majority of mammal and bird biomass from wild animals of many species to a handful of domestic animals and humans, mostly cattle, pigs and chickens.
The latest calculations estimate that we have turned 95.8% of the mammal biomass on the planet into humans and livestock. Poultry accounts for almost 3 times the biomass of all wild birds.
Animal agriculture is responsible for the majority of land and fresh water use as well as greenhouse gasses, habitat destruction and deforestation.


Something like 70% of agricultural land, not sure, is used to feed livestock.
We could probably feed everyone on the planet right now with what we produce if it was distributed efficiently. Without animal agriculture we would have an additional 70% space to grow food to feed humans with.

I have no idea what would be sustainable.
Wow!!!
Are getting your information from PETA?

The info I found indicates that about 20-33% of fresh water use in the world is by domestic animals and about 33% of the planet’s arable land is occupied by livestock feed crop cultivation. That is far less than you wildly exaggerated claims of > 50% and 70%.
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/trave...M6dOhj8CsuC.99

I suggest you provide evidence to back up all your claims and then we might be able to actually discuss your post further.
__________________
"Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." Steve Earle

"I've met Bob Dylan's bodyguards and if Steve Earle thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table, he's sadly mistaken." Townes Van Zandt

Last edited by rockinkt; 15th April 2019 at 11:50 PM. Reason: spelingz
rockinkt is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 12:12 AM   #12
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,976
we have not nearly started to exhaust our abilities to produce food - we just have over-optimized the way we have always done it.

Hydroponics, insects as protein, ocean farming, new land made accessible by climate change, fighting back against desertification, vertical farming etc. etc. etc.

all technologies that don't compete with the current farming space.

I don't see food as a limiting factor to population growth.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isnít.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 12:44 AM   #13
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,408
This is quite incredible, very interesting:

The biomass distribution on Earth
Quote:
Whereas groups like insects dominate in terms of species richness [with about 1 million described species], their relative biomass fraction is miniscule. Some species contribute much more than entire families or even classes. For example, the Antarctic krill species Euphausia superba contributes ≈0.05 Gt C to global biomass, similar to other prominent species such as humans or cows. This value is comparable to the contribution from termites, which contain many species, and far surpasses the biomass of entire vertebrate classes such as birds.


Some about our impact on the planet:

The scale of life and its lessons for humanity


Quote:
Bar-On et al. estimate that humans and human livestock combined now make up ∼8% of total animal biomass and roughly a quarter of terrestrial animal biomass. This measure underestimates this component of the human biomass footprint, because it ignores the animal biomass in aquaculture. Froehlich et al. estimate that the biomass of animal aquaculture is about 14% as large as that of livestock (thus ∼0.014 Gt C, assuming similar average carbon content) and growing rapidly. Although these numbers represent only one type of human impact on global biomasses, they underscore the unprecedented scale of humanity today and raise the question of what scales of humanity and human activity can be supported sustainably by the planet’s ecosystems.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB

Last edited by Cheetah; 16th April 2019 at 01:11 AM.
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 01:04 AM   #14
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
Agricultural land (land actually used for agriculture) and arable land (land potentially used for agriculture) are not the same. Besides, if we use all of the arable land for agriculture, that would destroy the few remaining natural grasslands, etc. Ideally, we shouldn't use more than we need to.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 01:58 AM   #15
rockinkt
Graduate Poster
 
rockinkt's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 1,289
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Agricultural land (land actually used for agriculture) and arable land (land potentially used for agriculture) are not the same. Besides, if we use all of the arable land for agriculture, that would destroy the few remaining natural grasslands, etc. Ideally, we shouldn't use more than we need to.
"That is land that is actually tilled by Arabs."
(Peter Cook, Secret Policeman's Other Ball, 1981)
__________________
"Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." Steve Earle

"I've met Bob Dylan's bodyguards and if Steve Earle thinks he can stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table, he's sadly mistaken." Townes Van Zandt
rockinkt is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 02:29 AM   #16
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 81,554
Originally Posted by Venom View Post
I assume this is starting from our current standing, in which case I would add increased education and empowerment of women; propaganda (inhumane?) aimed at idealizing the two-child family.

I think 1 to 2 billion humans is enough.

We should aim for quality over quantity from there. Large investments in public education and including courses that will train students for practical situations outside of the usual curriculum; maybe how to make a fire or basic emergency medical training and to be a critical thinker/skeptic, etc.

^ETA: I think we should do this now
Yeah, I'd say around a billion. And it's enough to sustain a good global economy, though not as massive as the one we have.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 02:45 AM   #17
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,976
the more people we have, the more genetic diversity, the more likely that someone will have immunities to whatever epidemic will come our way. Counter-intuitively, overpopulation makes survival of the species as a whole more, not less likely.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isnít.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 02:54 AM   #18
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 81,554
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
the more people we have, the more genetic diversity, the more likely that someone will have immunities to whatever epidemic will come our way. Counter-intuitively, overpopulation makes survival of the species as a whole more, not less likely.
Sure, but once we're in the billions I think it's overkill.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 03:44 AM   #19
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,408
With only a billion people I imagine you could have an incredible standard of living.
How do you get there though, how long does it take?
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 03:48 AM   #20
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,976
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
With only a billion people I imagine you could have an incredible standard of living.
How do you get there though, how long does it take?
we had 1 billion around 1800.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isnít.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 04:00 AM   #21
Ziggurat
Penultimate Amazing
 
Ziggurat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 43,071
If human life has value, then more people has more value than less people.
__________________
"As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose -- that it may violate property instead of protecting it -- then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious." - Bastiat, The Law
Ziggurat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 04:32 AM   #22
Puppycow
Penultimate Amazing
 
Puppycow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 23,370
Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
If human life has value, then more people has more value than less people.
Yes, but clearly it isn't the only thing with value.

I think there is also value to other kinds of life. I would like to maximize the number of people within the limiting parameters that I outlined in the OP. I also want to maximize it over time, not just in the short term. What happens when exhaustible resources are exhausted and what happens if there's a severe greenhouse effect that makes large areas of the globe uninhabitable? We should be thinking in terms of centuries. What about standards of living? The more people you have, the fewer resources are available per individual.
__________________
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare
Puppycow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 04:34 AM   #23
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 81,554
Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
If human life has value, then more people has more value than less people.
If you only use a single criterion, sure. But with other things of value, calculations become more complex. At some point, also, more humans might mean more harm to humans in general, etc.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 04:47 AM   #24
Cheetah
Graduate Poster
 
Cheetah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 1,408
If human suffering is bad, the fewer people there were to suffer the better things would be.
__________________
"... when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow so that I can feel the rain" - DMB
Cheetah is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 04:53 AM   #25
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,976
As long as current humans have a say in the number of future humans, they will weigh their well-being higher than that of their descendants.

Sucks to be not born yet.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isnít.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 05:11 AM   #26
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11,124
Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
If human life has value, then more people has more value than less people.
Value is a very esoteric concept when you break it down. Even
economic/financial "market value" is pretty squishy and malleable. Non-monetary value is extraordinarily abstract.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 05:13 AM   #27
kellyb
Penultimate Amazing
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11,124
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
If human suffering is bad, the fewer people there were to suffer the better things would be.
And if one values human happiness and a lack of suffering, and too many people on the globe will result in more suffering, then more people is obviously a bad idea.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 05:46 AM   #28
William Parcher
Show me the monkey!
 
William Parcher's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 22,470
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I don't know that you need to idealize two-child families. For some people the ideal number will be one or zero. For some others maybe more than 2. But it's the average that matters. If it's less than 2 on average, the population will gradually decrease.
Farmers need to have multiple sons to make the farm functional on anything other than a very small scale.
__________________
Bigfoot believers and Bigfoot skeptics are both plumb crazy. Each spends more than one minute per year thinking about Bigfoot.
William Parcher is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 06:52 AM   #29
ahhell
Master Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 2,287
Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
If human life has value, then more people has more value than less people.
Even by that standard, long term, some number is too many and the ecosystem collapses resulting in widespread death and destruction.

Long term, you need a sustainable population that will eventually result in more people, therefore, more value.

This assumes that other life forms don't have value. If they do, even if its less than that of a human we have to figure it in. If one human is worth 100 and 10 trees is worth 10 but in order for that human to live 11 trees will die, then more humans is not necessarily more value.
ahhell is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 08:37 AM   #30
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 34,099
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Here are the issues that I would like to address:
[...]
2) Minimizing harmful impacts on the natural environment [...]
I think "harmful" is a subjective value judgement that can't really be applied to the natural environment. Change the environment, yes. Remove something we'd rather keep, because of our subjective values? Yes. But Harm? No. It's a non sequitur.

The natural environment is just... the environment. We can talk about optimizing our environment for this or that subjective good. We can talk about trade-offs between competing subjective goods, and we can talk about the best compromise between them.

We can change the environment according to some plan, but we cannot harm it. All we can really do is make changes that harm our plan, or go against some other subjective value.

"For me, no changes to the environment are harmful. But not all changes serve my purpose." - Saint Paul, probably
theprestige is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 09:53 AM   #31
JohnDuffield
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 1
What would be the ideal global population in terms of sustainability?

A billion. Maybe two. I very much dislike the way people go on about issues such as climate change, animal extinction, and plastic in our oceans, without saying anything about overpopulation.
JohnDuffield is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 09:58 AM   #32
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 81,554
Originally Posted by JOhnDuffield View Post
What would be the ideal global population in terms of sustainability?

A billion. Maybe two. I very much dislike the way people go on about issues such as climate change, animal extinction, and plastic in our oceans, without saying anything about overpopulation.
Welcome to the forum.

Actually these issues are inextricably linked. People mention overpopulation fairly frequently.
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 11:43 AM   #33
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 12,216
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Sure, but once we're in the billions I think it's overkill.
Higher populations also mean more economic development and more innovation in both science and technology. Those in turn can lead to more efficient use of resources so we may end up actually using fewer resources if the population stays high, though I'm talking long term.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 11:47 AM   #34
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 12,216
Originally Posted by Cheetah View Post
If human suffering is bad, the fewer people there were to suffer the better things would be.
That's assuming a net negative value/human life. If life on earth were hell such that each person would be better off killing themselves because their suffering outweighed whatever value they had in life, then sure, you'd be right. But if on average people find even a very small net positive value to their lives then more humans is better.

Puppycow's point that other life also has value is valid, in my opinion, so if you add one human life by removing the room for one wolf's life, then that may be a net loss, depending on how we assign value to each of those lives.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 11:53 AM   #35
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 12,216
Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
That sounds like a pipe dream to me. The "if we were more coordinated on a global scale and less wasteful" part. This is the human species we have, not the human species we might want to have. Let's acknowledge that human beings are not 100% rational beings and that coordination on a global scale isn't likely to happen in the near term.

Take our current population and multiply it by ten, and what? Hope and pray that they will all behave as you want them to behave?
We have become more efficient throughout all of human history, in that we can get more of what we want out of the same resources. It takes x number of acres to feed a hunter-gatherer, and maybe a factor of ten less to feed an early agriculturalist. Maybe another factor of ten (more?) less to feed a modern person in the developed world.

Of course, we use these advances to get more of the stuff want rather than to use fewer resources.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 12:15 PM   #36
W.D.Clinger
Illuminator
 
W.D.Clinger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 3,574
With my highlighting:
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
That's assuming a net negative value/human life. If life on earth were hell such that each person would be better off killing themselves because their suffering outweighed whatever value they had in life, then sure, you'd be right. But if on average people find even a very small net positive value to their lives then more humans is better.
I don't think so. Speaking in terms of "very small net positive value" invites a mathematical model.

Suppose, for argument's sake, that every individual places a value on his/her/its life that is a simple function of the world's total population N. Suppose that function is
f(N) = (1 / (1 + (N - Nideal)2))
where Nideal is the ideal global population, assuming (again for the sake of argument) that every individual agrees on the numerical value of Nideal.

If that model were accurate, then each individual's individual valuation of his/her/its individual life would be maximized when the total population is Nideal.

If the total population were (Nideal)2, then each individual would still place a "very small net positive value to their lives", but they would be placing far less value on their own life than they would if there were fewer people in the world. The total value of all human life would be considerably less as well.

ETA: I see a possible ambiguity in the sentence I highlighted. Before Roboramma objects by saying the model above fails to place a "small net positive value" on each additional human life (because the value of each life diminishes with increasing global population, even though that value remains positive), let me say I would agree with that objection, and that the point of my model is that what Roboramma wrote is entirely compatible with the idea that there might be some ideal level of global population at which the subjective value of each individual human life is maximized.

ETA2: There might be a second ideal level of global population at which the total value of all human life is maximized. Depending on the model, those two ideal values might be the same or different. Note, however, that Ziggurat's statement fails for many simple models of the sort outlined above, even if we assume Ziggurat is talking about the total value of all human life.

Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Puppycow's point that other life also has value is valid, in my opinion, so if you add one human life by removing the room for one wolf's life, then that may be a net loss, depending on how we assign value to each of those lives.
Both arguments are valid.

Last edited by W.D.Clinger; 16th April 2019 at 12:29 PM. Reason: added ETA
W.D.Clinger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 12:19 PM   #37
Belz...
Fiend God
 
Belz...'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: In the details
Posts: 81,554
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Higher populations also mean more economic development and more innovation in both science and technology. Those in turn can lead to more efficient use of resources so we may end up actually using fewer resources if the population stays high, though I'm talking long term.
But is it sustainable?
__________________
Master of the Shining Darkness

"My views are nonsense. So what?" - BobTheCoward


Belz... is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 12:39 PM   #38
The Great Zaganza
Maledictorian
 
The Great Zaganza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 7,976
Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
But is it sustainable?
That depends on what timescale you have in mind.
__________________
Opinion is divided on the subject. All the others say it is; I say it isnít.
The Great Zaganza is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 01:23 PM   #39
Myriad
Hyperthetical
 
Myriad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: A pocket paradise between the sewage treatment plant and the railroad
Posts: 14,784
Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
If human life has value, then more people has more value than less people.

Chairs have value. More chairs therefore have more value than fewer chairs.

You could probably afford to buy a few dozen more chairs for your home, right now.

Why don't you?
__________________
A zÝmbie once bit my sister...
Myriad is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 16th April 2019, 03:16 PM   #40
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 12,216
Originally Posted by W.D.Clinger View Post
With my highlighting:


I don't think so. Speaking in terms of "very small net positive value" invites a mathematical model.
Thanks for that, and yeah, I think that's an entirely valid point. I was thinking of a pretty simple model where there's no interaction between people so and you just get a linear adding of values, but that's pretty obviously nonsense.

What's more likely is that more people will have affects on the lives of the other people who are already there that are either net-positive or net-negative, and that might depend on the total population at the time that each individual is added. When there is 1 person, adding 1 more is probably going to give a large boost to the positive experiences, etc. of that first person. If there are 20 billion, even if that new person has a net-positive value in his own life his impact on the other 20 billion may sum to a negative that more than outweighs the positive value he himself gained.

I can certainly see how (as your model demonstrates) these sorts of interactions could lead to an "ideal" population size, so thanks for the correction.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Science, Mathematics, Medicine, and Technology

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:05 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.