Holy crap! I finally found someone who says what I’ve been grumbling to my husband and friends about for years. I haven’t ever gotten around to writing about it though:
Economic Prosperity Requires Population Growth… Not!
Here’s what Ron Britton at Bay of Fundie has to say about this, as part of a larger critique of fundamentalist fear mongering.
Yes, ourÂ currentÂ economic model requires population growth, but our current economic model is wrong. The current economy requires consumption. It depends on the conversion of non-renewable natural resources into consumer goods. It is actually an illusion of prosperity, because weâ€™re living off of a savings account, in this case the accumulated resources of the Earth: Forests, fishstocks, water, minerals, etc. All of these things are extracted from the Earth, consumed, and thrown away. As long as we keep extracting resources, we can continue our current lifestyle. More people means more consumers, which accelerates the depletion of resources, but generates even more money in the process. If population reverses, consumption declines, and the amount of money being created declines.
The problem, of course, is that resources are finite. Whether the population is growing or shrinking, once a resource runs out, the money stops.
What is needed is a different approach to economics. We need to create a sustainable economy based on sustainable levels of resource consumption. In fact, having a lower global population makes this goal much easier to achieve.
Full disclosure: I am so far to the left on the political spectrum that there is no political party for me in the United States. I guess that doesn’t take very much these days, but I just wanted to be up front about it.
Over the past few years I’ve spoken to several conservatives about economics and they can’t get it through their frakking heads that growth cannot be sustained infinitely. I don’t know if they can’t comprehend infinity or they can’t look beyond the ends of their noses to care about what their policies will do to future generations. But either way, whenever I mention that growth has limits and that eventually our economic system will collapse in on itself, they look at me like I have four heads. It might happen in 10 years or 100, but it will eventually happen if we continue with the same flawed system we have today.
On a related topic, it depresses me that the American lifestyle requires slave labor to sustain itself. This was true at the time of the American Revolution, and it is basically true today. It’s just that these days we primarily get our goods made by wage slaves who live on other continents so we don’t have to look at them.
Finally, am I the only one who thinks that 99% of our problems on Earth would go away if the human population were reduced by 3/4?
Â UPDATE: This personÂ has accused me of supporting a mass culling of humanity because of my last statement, which is really a side issue related to the main post. In case anyone has ended up here from hisÂ post, I would like to stateÂ unequivocallyÂ that I certainly do not support any form of murder. What I do support is increased planned parenthood and birth control and a large reduction in the number of babies being born, to ensure that the population of this planet does not expand to the point where a large percentage of the population dies of starvation or thirst because we have outgrown the available resources. Infinite population growth is not sustainable and we don’t know at what point the population will outgrow the ability of our planet to provide food and clean water. I suspect we are nearing that limit now, but in any case, with the rate of growth of the population that has occurred in my lifetime, we will definitely be nearing it before I die. Â My point is simply that with fewer people there would be fewer problems, and many of the problems that remain would be less severe.
Excuse me for being pissed off. I don’t care if people disagree with me or even if they think I’m a fool. But I won’t stand for someone accusing me of supporting genocide.