Is "down" the opposite of "up?"

People are ever poisoning the environment with their wastes. They are ever consuming fish stocks to extinction. They are ever using land for parking lots and roads that once grew food and made animal habitat. Ever more millions are starving and ever more thousands of species are going extinct. Ever more people fight over scarce resources. Ever more governments, religions, and economies shape rules of behavior, which ever more allow, exploitation of labor and environmental resources, subjugation of woman, ethnic cleansing, and warfare.

If population growth drives all these trends, is it possible that population decline could reverse them?

Could a rapidly decreasing population, one caused by parents limiting themselves to a single child, reverse all these trends? Why is it so easy to attribute global problems to increases in human footprint and so difficult to see decreases in footprint as a solution?

Most of the 6 billion people on the world today fail to see the huge opportunity to turn future wars, deprivation, and environmental decimation into peace, abundance, and a clean robust environment.

Because of our excessive population, this opportunity exists today more than at any time in human history. Before the present, it might be argued that the support of the arts and the development of technologies were done on the backs of the extra bodies. Progress, like a, contagious disease, needed a minimum population to continue.

Some people might argue that we need 6 billion people to ensure that a virus that kills 99.9% of us will leave a viable remnant. However, it is not difficult to believe that out of the 6 billion people on the earth if all but one billion disappeared the remainder would be able to proceed on the current path with little hindrance from their absence.

Rapid population decline, as a means of addressing global problems is not easy to implement. The one child family behavior at the individual level appears immediate and very costly. The benefits appear small and accrue in the future. For individuals to choose the one child behavior requires a level of temporal cognition few have.

The absence of these thinking abilities may not be genetic. The cognitive limitation may result from unintentional cultural activity.

It's something to think about while we are flying airplanes into skyscrapers and blowing up the neighborhood.


Jack Alpert (Bio)     mail to:      (homepage)      Other position papers

  (more details)