BBB020 Transcript-Overpopulation

Why aren’t we talking about population? At first, when people asked me that question, I thought why aren’t YOU talking about population. But then I realized. They are, and they are among the few. Hooray for them. It’s past time for me.

So let’s begin. Probably you won’t like what I say – I don’t either, but it’s real and it’s a problem that we can ignore or not. It won’t go away by itself. The only way to have some influence over problems is to deal with them as they are. Pretending the elephant is not sitting there in your china shop won’t make it gone.

Everyone knows, really, that we can’t grow the numbers of people on earth forever. If you don’t have a clear understanding of why (I mean besides we would eventually be crawling all over each other) you should read my Energy Handbook. The bottom line is twofold: (First) We are a living part the whole living earth ecosystem; and (Second) The energy to keep the whole system alive, including us, comes from food, that is organic energy, and organic energy is made by plants. Food for our bodies and for everything else in the ecosystem including our machines – all that is organic energy, and all of it was made by plants.

It works like this. If the earth is able to produce 100 units of organic energy and there are 50 people, well then we are doing great, but the population is growing. When there are 100 units of possible organic energy on earth for every 100 people, that might be OK if we don’t have a bad growing season. That’s about where we are now. But when you get to 150 people per 100 units of available energy, well then, the earth cannot grow more than it can grow, and bad things happen, and the worst of it is that they happen mostly to the mothers, babies and children.

Yes, I know, bad things were happening all along. Bad things are always happening. Some of them were caused by something else and some of them were caused by local overpopulation. But none of history and none of the cycles of nature and nothing we can do can change one simple fact. We have reached the point where we are eating or burning the plants faster than they can grow, and that means, from now on, the more people we make, the less food we will have to feed all the people.

You say no? You will believe as you do, but the problem with not believing in real, measurable physical facts is that we then become the victims of those facts. I gave up being a victim about in – I think it was 1982, wasn’t it, and from that time I’ve been studying how to not be a victim. How to have some control over my own life. Step one is to get all the facts and get them right.

So it is a fact that whenever there are more than 100 people on the whole earth for every 100 units of energy that the earth can produce — bad things happen that are directly caused by overpopulation. This means that the only long term way to improve human welfare is to address the problem of overpopulation. I’m not saying that everything will suddenly be perfect if we can grow a stable population, and put all you activists out of work. It’s the other way around. If we ignore the population problem, all your efforts will fail. If we succeed, then you will be needed to help the people and to teach a more sustainable way of life.

So, how do we do this? Well, clearly, we will never solve a problem that we are afraid to talk about, so the very first thing that must happen before we can begin to resolve this big problem is that we must start talking — and listening. And talk nice. Anyone can do that.

Here are a few references for starters:

Bare Bones Biology Energy Handbook by Dr. M. Lynn Lamoreux describes the straight facts about how energy flows through the ecosystem. You have to ask me to get this, or go to Brazos Natural Foods or the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History.

Richard Heinberg, 2010. Beyond the Limits to Growth

Post Carbon Institute upcoming book, The Post Carbon Reader
You can order this at a discount through their web site

If you have doubts about the statistics, you can either go to the following web site — or wait a few weeks and they will look worse – or realize the details of exactly how many of what things – the details aren’t anywhere near as important as fixing the problem before more people must suffer for our self-indulgence.

I strongly recommend that everyone read Collapse, quite a big book by Jared Diamond, or listen to the audio version, if you want to learn about historical overpopulation events from a sociological/anthropological point of view.

Dr. M. Lynn Lamoreux on
KEOS, 89.1, Bryan, Texas