Overpopulation – Is It a Myth?

The hype of ‘overpopulation’ has been going on for years in the media. And even some ‘philanthropists’ like Bill Gates is promoting de-population through vaccines and more to lower the population of this ‘overpopulated’ world.

Now, is the planet really overpopulated? Or will it be, if we continue multiplying? Obviously, it will be if we exponentially increase ourselves indefinitely, but there are many factors that works against that.

Overpopulation is most definitely a myth, and I’ll prove why.

I am talking about global overpopulation. For sure, there are many areas on the planet that are overpopulated, and all of them are what we call ‘cities’. But globally, we have more than enough room.

The reason for overpopulation in cities is blatant; The Monetary System itself. Money, trading and ownership has permeated so to say every nook and cranny of this planet, replacing real resources, like food, with the artificial resource of money, which is most abundant in cities. Thus, in need of this artificial ‘resource’, people flock to cities to get ‘jobs’ that will give them this ‘resource’. Had they stayed on the countryside, they would have had access to the abundance of nature, without much need for money.

Abundance of Space

According to Wikipedia, the definition of overpopulation is:

a function of the number of individuals compared to the relevant resources, such as the water and essential nutrients they need to survive.

Let’s also include ‘space’ as a resource needed to survive. Clearly, we need a certain amount of space around us for our physical and mental wellbeing.

There are vast amounts of land on this planet without a human soul living there. The abundance of land on this planet is so vast that it is unimaginable to most people. The image below illustrates this perfectly. Here we can see that the whole planet’s population would fit in the state of Texas with about one person per 100 m2. That is actually not too bad in itself. Except that we have so much more land available than only Texas. If we divide all the world’s 6,9 billion people on the available land mass of the planet, everyone would have about 22,000 m2 each.

the-worlds-population-concentratedWe have an abundance of space, that’s for sure. More than enough for all the world’s people to live upon. Considering that most people like to live in some form of community with others in the form of towns or larger cities (not because of ‘job needs’, but because of the social aspects, not ‘overpopulating’ any particular place), makes the space we have available even more abundant for settlements.

There’s no need for people to bundle up in huge overcrowded mega cities. If we use the whole planet, we easily have room for all with lot’s of space to spare. And then we haven’t even included the oceans, which also can be populated. Not that that is needed from a purely space perspective, nor a food perspective, as we will see.

Abundance of Food

Let’s repeat the Wikipedia definition:

Overpopulation is a function of the number of individuals compared to the relevant resources, such as the water and essential nutrients they need to survive.

‘Essential nutrients’ can be translated as ‘food’. Thus, for the planet to be overpopulated, or become overpopulated in any relevant future, there has to be too little food for everyone on this planet. The people who seriously talk about overpopulation must thus be seriously ignorant or misinformed.

Food Waste

Today we are wasting half of all food that is produced.  Clearly, we have a huge abundance of food on this planet, out of which half is wasted. According to Tristram Stuart

All the world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe.

Thus, we have no food shortage. Do we? This number alone should be enough to debunk the ‘overpopulation’ myth. But wait, there’s more. Let’s take a short look on how much land we actually need to produce the food we need.

Biointensive Agriculture

With Biointensive Agriculture, less than 200m2 is necessary to feed one person an abundance of vegetables per year, including lots of protein rich vegetables like beans and spinach, even in colder climates. And this is without using any chemical fertilisers or pesticides. Check out this video for an example of how much food can be grown on a small space:

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A quick calculation shows me that here they produce about 3,6 kilos of food/day/200m2. Thus, the one person we talked about above would get 2-4 times as much food as necessary from this little plot of land, which is in a city, by the way!

Arable Land

The amount of so-called ‘arable land’ on the planet is according to Wikipedia about 14 million km2. If we only use this amount of arable land, we would have about 20 times the land we need (or 40 times if we use the last calculation above) to feed all of us on the planet. If we include permanent pastures, which amount to about 33 million km2 and is used for live stock, and grow vegetables there instead, we end up with more than 60-100 times of what we actually need. That is if we only eat veggies. But of course, we don’t need all that land, so there would be plenty of room for some grass fed beef or chicken with happy free ranging animals that can be managed holistically.

Increasing Agricultural Land

If we include some our deserts  in our alculations, we would have even more potentially productive land. According to Allan Savory we can re-green deserts through the use of live stock, as this TED presentation shows, thus fight both climate change and desertification, while at the same time increase our amount of agricultural land. Not that we need that for food production, though, but just saying to further debunk the overpopulation myth.

But, there’s more.

Hydroponics and Aquaponics

We already have more than enough food through the land that we have, but if we for some reason would want more, we can include Hydroponics and Aquaponics in our food plan. If we do, we would have such an abundance of food that we could feed a 100 more planets full of people, easily.

Hydroponics is growing plants directly in nutritious water. The nutrition comes from rotting unused plant matter.

Aquaponics is hydroponics with fish, where the nutrition comes from the fish excrements, while the plants clean the water for the fish.

Take a look at this video to see what I am talking about:

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According to this link, hydroponics (and thus aquaponics) can be up to 100 times (!) more efficient than growing in soil.

One – hundred – times…!

Thus, if we pop up a few aquaponic plants here and there, we wouldn’t even need soil.

Abundance of Water

There’s also a lot of talk about ‘water scarcity’, and that the available fresh water on the planet is rapidly shrinking. We are using up aquifers on wasteful agricultural practices, while soft drink companies are bottling free water and selling it. Both as a result of profit maximisation stemming from the monetary mindset and system.

But even if we use up the aquifers, we will still have rain water. Oh, it rains less as well, you say? Well, that will be amended with the re-greening we mentioned above, combined with lots of new microclimates created when we start to farm naturally, and not to speak of re-planting of forests, that all help create rain.

If this isn’t enough after the aquifers are empty, there’s a sun up there that gladly evaporates sea water for free trough Solar Desalination. In addition there’s also discovered some huge amounts of fresh water deep in the oceans.

As if this is not enough, we can get fresh water directly from the air through inexpensive water towers by harvesting atmospheric water vapor.

After all, we can’t really use up the water on planet earth. It has always been here and will always be here. The fresh water we have we have as a result of evaporation of salt water on the planet, and it raining down over land, in addition to aquifer, fresh water trapped under ground. It can’t really disappear. As long as we have an atmosphere, which the water we have plays a big part in creating and maintaining by the way, we will have water on the planet. And as long as we have the sun, we will have fresh water.

It is only our ignorance and monetary practices that creates scarcity of water, just like it creates scarcities of everything else.

Abundance of Resources

What is ‘resources’? Well, of course, food is a huge resource that we see we have and can produce in abundance. Other resources are ‘natural resources’; such as minerals like steel or aluminium.

Well, do we have an abundance of them? Yes and no.

It all depends on our consumption, technology and recycling. With today’s consumption and recycling patterns, and specific technology, we clearly have too little.

But, with an other type of economy that would maximise the resources we have through new inventions, technology, reuse and recycling, combined with new consumption patterns, we have an abundance of resources as well.

Consumption is created from the monetary system. We need to constantly consume to keep the system running. Since the monetary system is dependent on continual growth in consumption, if everyone cut consumption with only 10%, the whole system would collapse.

Paradoxically, the monetary system is creating both scarcity and a huge abundance of products through planned obsolescence and overproduction. Planned obsolescence is making sure products break or become obsolete due to out-of-date technology or fashion, thus creating a scarcity and need of a constant supply of new products. A perceived scarcity is created through giving the impression that you need the new products combined with the old ones starting to malfunction.

This cycle in the monetary system is the most wasteful cycle of all on the planet, wasting all the resources we possess, only to maximise profit for shareholders. We certainly do have an abundance of resources if they were only managed properly, which can only be done in a resource based economy.

Money

But the most scarcity is produced from the most elusive ‘resource’ we have; Money.

Money is and will always be, scarce, to about 90% of the population on this planet. Why? Because that is the nature and design of the monetary system. Money is not designed to reach the lower parts of the pyramid in any great amounts per person, thus creating not only a scarcity of money for that family, but also a scarcity of the needed resources.

Through interest and ownership money is naturally flowing upwards. The ‘trickle down’ economics advocated by the rich do exactly that with money; trickle. Just enough, barely, to keep the workers work ‘down there’, day in and day out. Just enough money is ‘trickled’ down in the form of small salaries for hours upon hours of work, thus, keeping money and most other resources scarce for 90% of all of us. Because too much of it would cause inflation, as we all know. Or would it?

The discussion of a basic income is getting higher and higher up on government agendas around the world. The long lasting results of a basic income in the western world is yet to be known. But tests in Africa and India are very promising, with the communities flourishing and people doing more work than before. The difference being that now they do what they love, providing a needed service to the community, instead of slaving away at something for a corporation, if they could ‘get a job’ at all. With a basic income more people could create their own jobs, minimising the for corporations and governments to create the jobs for them.

Money could easily be abundant for all the world’s people, and it would probably not create inflation, but rather more collaboration, inventiveness and community. It might also increase consumption and boost the ‘economy’ even more, which in our monetary system would be good of course, but not necessary for the wellbeing of the planet.

This topic is an article in itself. All I will say about it here is I think a basic income could be used as a stepping stone towards a global resource based economy as it promotes a decentralisation of resources and an empowering of people, which is exactly what a resource based economy is all about.

Conclusion

There is no overpopulation on planet earth. We can easily provide in abundance for everyone here, and even double, triple or quadruple that if we really like. All we need to do that is to create a resource based economy, making sure food and resources is created where people need them, and empower people to create their own lives wherever they live.

To keep the population manageable, though, and prevent any unnecessary population increase, education and living standard are the best methods for that. Statistics show clearly a decrease in birth rate in several developed countries where the population is educated and have a relatively high standard of living.

A resource based economy can easily provide all of the above, when we stop relying on measuring everything in money, hoard through private ownership and trade for profit, but instead maximise and share our resources, use custodianship and usership, and create a truly free world for all.


Six Philosophies Which Enable a Resource-Based Economy

The resource-based economy has become a popular topic of discussion, and this paper is the author’s inaugural foray into the field. Far from being an easy convert to social movements, I am inherently distrustful of them. However, a hard-won ally is a hard-lost one. Perhaps it is time for me to endorse the movement and attempt to illuminate some vital needs such a movement may need to embrace in order to succeed in implementing its views. This paper is intended to be an initial exploration of concepts for further definition. 

Discussion of the idea of a resource-based economy (RBE) is becoming increasingly popular, yet the exact technical specifications of such a society have remained somewhat elusive. This paper attempts to address certain fundamental concepts which may allow the idea of the RBE to solidify into a working piece of social technology. Six core philosophies are presented in no particular order to be explored, compared to existing social behaviors and evaluated for usefulness.

Transparency

On the way towards a resource based economy, the philosophy of transparency calls for all economic transactions to be recorded and made public instantly. Thereby, the wealth and resource holdings of each individual and each company becomes completely visible to each other member of the society at all times. In this case, the philosophy of transparency applies to economic interactions exclusively. However, broader social implications are present in the philosophy.

Clearly, this transparency is a radical departure from the economic structure we are accustomed to using on this planet at this time. The idea of discussing one’s monetary holdings is considered rude by both the haves and the have-nots–for different reasons, of course. The poor would rather not discuss a sensitive topic which can create worry, while the rich don’t want the poor to realize just how much economic power they weld, for fear of losing it. The lack of transparency allows for untoward hoarding of resources. It allows companies to purchase less-than-ideal components for manufacture and it allows politicians to surreptitiously receive payment by lobbying councils.

In contrast, the benefits of applying the philosophy of transparency in a society are manifold. Theft of all types will become increasingly obsolete. Unusual hoarders of resources can be immediately identified (such as the gargantuan wealth of certain royal families or industrialists), and it is unlikely that such massive hoarding will be allowed to continue in the face of universal and exacting public scrutiny. In the RBE, transparency serves the further purpose of allowing an accurate accounting of which resources are available, and resolves concerns over an usurping force seizing the reigns of the society by undue accumulation.

The philosophy of transparency further answers the plaguing question of “who will decide who gets what” in the RBE. Based on limited research, it appears that most RBE supporters will say that “some kind of supercomputer” will make the calculations. However, as pointed out by Stefan Moleneux, computers merely run programs as defined by the programmer. Therefore, the question becomes “who will program the computer” and is equivalent to the first question–no answer has been presented. By applying transparency, the correct answer to our questions becomes “everybody”, which is a simplified way of saying that open-source communities can present calculations on which resources exist and how they can be utilized, and these calculations will be available for immediate scrutiny by all members of the RBE.

Custodianship

The philosophy of custodianship replaces the philosophy of ownership in the RBE. The difference is subtle, yet profound. Custodianship assures individual rights over items one has accumulated, yet impedes misuse or wanton destruction of those items. The underlying theme is that in order for most resources to have value, there is a transactional nature inherent in their use. Given that an item has entered one’s sphere of influence from elsewhere, and that that same item will eventually leave one’s sphere of influence, it becomes apparent that a person is, at best, temporarily in command of the item. Thus, the philosophy of custodianship recognizes the transient nature of “owning” a thing and prepares the individual adherent for that thing’s continued functioning after it has left the individual user’s sphere of influence.

This philosophy differs from our contemporary mode of thinking in that it does not respect the right of an individual to wantonly destroy that which he finds himself in command of. Thus, if one were custodian of a plot of land, that individual would be prevented from dumping toxic waste on the land on the simple authority that the land was “owned” by the individual; on the contrary, the individual would be required to understand that he is, at most, transient force upon a plot of land that has existed, and will continue to exist, for spans of time generally inconceivable to an individual. It becomes the duty of the transient custodian to prepare for the graceful transition of custodianship to the next user–a thought that seems to be lacking in a ownership based society.

The benefits of custodianship include an increased attention to preservation of land and resources, a reduction in waste of perishable products and provides a further impetus for the elimination of undue hoarding. Consider, for example, the story of the grocery store that went out of business. The previous owners wanted to simply give away the food that remained inside; however, the new owners saw no profit in doing that and instead ordered all the food to be disposed of by transporting it to a landfill. The new owners were enabled to undertake this incredible act of wastefulness because the food became “owned by them”, and therefore they were free to do whatever they wished with it, including simply destroying it. Under the philosophy of custodianship, the “new owners” would be aware that the food had only temporarily entered their sphere of influence, and their primary concern would be to facilitate the proper dispersal of it, not the wanton disposal of it. Only by streamlining the use of resources can the RBE become feasible, and by applying transparency this streamlining will be assured by an open-source accounting by multiple parties.

Renewability

The philosophy of renewability addresses the continued survival and success of the RBE. Since resources are one of the definitions of wealth in the RBE (joy, fulfilment, happiness and creativity, for instance, are others), renewing, preserving, optimising and expanding those resources is the only way to achieve (resource based) economic stability or growth of abundance in society.

In comparison, the modern economic practice of creating “fiat currency”–a mathematical construct which has little, if any, relation to actually existing resources–does not require renewability. The illusion of stability or growth can be artificially introduced into the economy by simply adding numbers which, when not linked to actual resources, have no value yet give the illusion of value. The result is that practices which are inherently destructive to the actual wealth of a society, its resources, are routinely praised as valuable and continued even to the final depletion of a once abundant resource. Furthermore, re-use or recycling of useful resources is often ignored, allowing valuable resources to be discarded in favor of maximizing fiat currency holdings. Holdings which, as resources diminish, have an inherently decreasing value.

The benefits of renewability to the RBE are apparent on the surface: it allows the resource-wealth of a society to be preserved and expanded upon. Furthermore, the philosophy of renewability promotes creation of complex resource abundance over that of simplistic consumption or outright destruction. It does this by valuing the retention of available resources above all else in economic practice.

Local Production

The philosophy of local production has two main purposes. One is economic: to reduce the amount of resource-use during transportation. The other is social: to decentralise the method of resource-production to the maximum extent. While the economic purpose is straightforward, the social purpose is more complex. Taken generally, the social purpose of local production is a safeguard against various problems such as natural disasters, infrastructure disturbances or resource-domination by certain groups. At it’s most basic level, the idea that anyone can provide themselves with all of life’s necessities personally, unilaterally and sustainably will serve to free each individual to pursue more lofty ideals and complex undertakings.

Comparisons between the philosophy of local production and philosophy employed in contemporary modes of production are telling. Our planet currently discards millions of pounds of food yearly while at the same time allowing millions of people to starve daily. As with all famine, the problem is not with production but distribution. Quite simply, the food is too far away from the hungry people. There is further complication due to current economic system which considers the destruction of real resources to preserve the fictitious resource of fiat currency as reasonable. A parallel can be drawn between most, if not all, situations of human lack faced by modern society, and these situations are highly likely to be reduced substantially by the philosophy of local production.

Thus, the benefit to the philosophy of local production is first and foremost the elimination of lack of access to basic needs. However, the economic advantage to the RBE is unmistakable: it allows the conservation of resources and thus a decreased load upon producers, eventually leading to resource based economic growth.

Technological Advancement

The philosophy of technological advancement anticipates and celebrates the invention and implementation of new technology as rapidly as is safe and logical. The purpose of technological advancement is to increase both the economic production of the RBE as well as fostering social development.

While it may seem that contemporary society embraces the philosophy of technological advancement, in truth it does exactly the opposite. Take for example the historical evidence which was Nikola Tesla’s project to provide free wireless energy to the world. Although the technology was superior to that being used at the time and the technical application of the technology was well within the limits of human ability, the project was forced to be shut down. The reason was overtly stated: it would be impossible to meter out this energy for fiat currency and the technology was, for this reason alone, abandoned. It becomes obvious to even the casual observer that the failing and outmoded technology which IS fiat currency has become the only technology which truly is freely expanded, at the expense of all others. Furthermore, potentially dangerous technology, such as GMO crops or nuclear weaponry are quickly developed and deployed beyond the limits of what is safe–assuming, of course, that they are likely to advance the accumulation of fiat currency. Thus, according to the philosophy of technological advancement, fiat currency technology (along with other outdated technologies) should be abandoned in favor of a more advanced one.

Technological advancement offers a vast array of potential benefits. Advances in energy production, food production, communication and transportation are only the beginning of what is possible when the philosophy of technological advancement is applied.

Voluntary Participation 

The philosophy of voluntary participation respects the right of the individual to choose among varying forms of ‘work’ and social interaction. It announces that the only social structure that is appropriate for the thinking human is one in which all members have voluntarily agreed to the interaction. It rejects the outright annexation of huge masses of land and the idea of force-based compliance to subjective rules.

It is simple to see the fundamental contradictions between modern society and the philosophy of voluntary participation. In all countries, there is no option given to reject the benefits of the State, and therefore it’s requirements. All land on the continent is annexed by a government, including areas of land which have not been given any attention at all–no people are living thereupon and no resource management has been effectively introduced. By annexing all land, these governments seek to impose an involuntary participation in their social technology. The philosophy of voluntary participation respects the right of each individual to migrate away from the forms and structures of a certain society and encourages a free space for new social technologies to be experimented with.

The philosophy of voluntary interaction is vital to the birth of the RBE and to its continued development. Clearly, without a free space in which to design and experiment with the RBE, it is impossible to implement it. Yet even further, the continued success of the RBE will defined by its ability to metamorphose to suit different climates and social expectations. The philosophy of voluntary participation will streamline the social-evolutionary process by which the RBE will become useful and robust.

Conclusion

What has preceded has been an initial foray into concepts which may prove vital to the actual implementation of the RBE. The subjects discussed are by no means an exhaustive compilation. However, with further development it may be possible to come up with a “social platform” which is sufficiently robust to be applied yet flexible enough to meet the needs of the great majority of people. In this time of great social unrest, great solutions are emerging. It will be up to each of us, individually, to define where we would like to take our society.