Posted by: 1of10boyz | February 5, 2013

PEAK or something else?

I saw a graphic about the birth rates of several countries/areas that made think about what the future holds. I know that I have been doing that a lot of late, reflecting and pondering the future. I guess that in most ways I would be considered an optimist but I, on occasion, am a doubter. I am a skeptic about things, global warming, over population, energy crises, and the list goes on.

There was much discussion last year about the moment called “Peak Oil”. That is the moment when the amount of oil produced and available begins to decline. That moment graphically represented as the hump is the beginning of the decline. It was or is meant to represent that the available quantity is going to continuously decline from that moment forward. I will admit that I am skeptical of this concept in my lifetime.

I realize that oil is a limited and finite supply, just like everything else. At some point the amount available will be smaller than the amount desired. We hear about those kinds of things all of the time, oil, ozone, housing, food, clean air, clean water, etc. I remember hearing that the world was over populated and I haven’t been too skeptical about that. I first heard an alternative from this article. I realized that there were many others that would put this point forward. I guess that there really is no way of knowing how a plan will turn out once it is started.

I “reside” in Wyoming even though I “live” China. My residence is less than 100 miles from the borders of Yellowstone National Park. Yes to drive there is further than that but wildlife routes don’t rely on the roads like I do. So I live in that area that is now invaded by the “transplanted” wolves that were placed in Yellowstone. So I hear stories and see pictures that consider both sides of the wolf, some good and some bad. I think the plan didn’t go as intended. I was skeptic of it at the beginning and didn’t really think we needed wolves again. So which story to believe? Which version is true? It is just another example of my skeptic attitude and approach to life.

I live in a country that has bought into a fallacy about containing population growth and has made it illegal to have a birth rate that is above the replacement rate. It has chosen to mandate a reduction in population. There are many groups and agencies that have estimated the population of China. I personally don’t believe any of the numbers including those from the Chinese government. That is a recent development, me not believing the Chinese’s own estimate of how many people are contained within the territory that they call China.

It really doesn’t matter what the number is, in my opinion, what I do know is that within 20 years it will be a smaller number than it is now. There will soon be more people dying in this country than there are being born. That simple fact will result in a diminishing population.

There are many groups and organizations that believe that a smaller population is the best thing that can happen to the planet. They believe that the number of people on the earth is already more than it can support effectively. They are those that advocate a population reduction. They believe that we must make coordinated efforts in the world to reduce the population for the entire planet. They argue that the total numbers of inhabitants must be reduced so that the planet can recover from this over population.

Which brings me to a conceptual comparison with Peak Oil; have we or are we near Peak Population? Is the planet approaching a point where the total number of inhabitants will begin to start decreasing? The graphic and related study calculates that by the year 2300 at the current rates of decline and continuation of life as we know it a world population of just 1 billion people. Just 1 billion people, given that we are now somewhere over 7 billion people inhabiting the planet, that is a pretty significant change in just about 300 years.

Is that really possible, the planet being back at the 1 billion people mark? I seriously doubt it but it does cause me to think about many things. I believe that the “carrying capacity” of the world is more than what we currently have. Some would argue that there isn’t enough food for all, that there isn’t enough water for all. To them I will concede that those commodities are not easily produced where the majority of those people currently are. The technologies to help them do better with what they have already exists.

The USA alone could easily double its current consumable output. I know that there are millions of acres of crop land that is not currently in production because the government pays the farmers to keep it idle. Yes, it is marginal crop land but in nearly every case that marginal crop land in the US is magnitudes better at producing crops than some of the best land in many, many nations. The US has millions of acres that are producing crops that do little for the good of mankind, think tobacco and alcohol related industries. Those crop lands could produce huge amounts of life sustaining crops. So I am not buying that we have reached the point of over-population based solely on food consumption. That limitation is artificial and would require just a little tweak to produce more. Sure we have to move it from the relatively small population in the US to other areas but that is certainly achievable were it really necessary.

So, is the world approaching that theoretical “Peak Population” point.? Are we about to see a reducing global population? The real challenge with those questions is the shift of where the population is. How will the world deal with diminishing populations in the countries that produce the goods consumed by the world? Certainly the automation processes will make some of the jobs done by current “warm bodies” but that will only go so far before it becomes less feasible. Japan, China, England, Europe, and the US are near or below the replacement rate for its population.

The impact of a global “occupancy” of a reducing population will mean work that isn’t being performed. Houses that are no longer needed or required. Building that will be empty and unnecessary. What is it that won’t be necessary at that point? What do you do with it at that point when no one wants it or needs it?

So recently we had people screaming about over population; now it seems that the opposite is more probable. What do we do with all of this when there is no one that wants it or needs it?



  1. […] story started brewing in my mind after I was writing the blog about a shrinking global population. This is one of those relationships that my mind made that fit […]

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