Growth for its own sake is the philosophy of a cancer cell.
Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. — Kenneth Boulding
The headline was among graffiti scrawled on a men’s room wall in an Encinitas restaurant. It’s a variation on a line written by Edward Abbey in The Journey Home.
The Boulding quote means economic growth increasing by a successive percentage.
If exponential economic growth meant lifting more and more people out of poverty and a more equitable distribution of wealth, it would be a good thing. It has often meant that in what are called developing economies. In recent decades in the US, however, it has meant the opposite.
The downside of economic growth is that it’s nearly always environmentally destructive. Eventually, the damage outweighs the benefits. If we’re more well off as we destroy the planet that sustains us, where’s the good?
Among the threats humanity has caused and faces:
Global Warming/Climate Change: July 2019 was the hottest month measured on Earth since records began in 1880, the latest in a long line of peaks that scientists say backs up predictions for man-made climate change. — Associated Press
The effects of global warming and climate change are broad, deep and dire.
Scientists don’t want you to take this as a death sentence. There is still hope to curb climate change before it becomes life-threatening; it simply needs a massive amount of financial support and attention. — National Public Radio
Water Crisis: A quarter of the human population [~1.9 billion people] is facing the growing and dire risk of running out of water, according to World Resources Institute data. — New York Times
There is and has always been a fixed amount of fresh water on the planet. The only way to make more is to desalinate sea water.
Desertification: A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times as fast as it is forming. — New York Times citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international group of scientists convened by the United Nations
Shrinking/shifting arable land: Climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, with the possibility that food crises could develop on several continents at once. — Attribution as immediately above
Species Extinction: The UN already reported earlier this year that one million species are threatened by human activity. — CNN
Life on Earth is in peril. The biodiversity crisis could potentially have permanent effects if swift action is not taken. — Vox
Sea Level Rise: It has two components. The volume of ocean water is increasing as northern and southern ice caps melt. Global warming is raising sea water temperature. The warmer the water, the more it expands. Sea water is simply taking up more space, forcing land area to shrink.
Plastic Pollution: One of the reasons global warming and climate change have taken so long to alarm most people is because they’re slow. They don’t seem like an emergency because they’re not readily apparent. On the other hand, plastic pollution is visible everywhere. Besides having been recently found in snow and rain, it’s abundantly visible in the oceans, on beaches, in inland waters and on the land. It has even overwhelmed the peak of Mount Everest.
The seven problems given above are consequences. The cause is too many people. Our population has grown beyond Earth’s carrying capacity.
The solution is not 10 or 12 billion people driving electric cars. The solution is fewer people — about half the current 7.7 billion world population. We got away with our destructive behavior until there were too many of us. We have overloaded the planet. We’re killing it and its ability to sustain life — and not only human life. We’re heading for a Mad Max scenario: Too many people competing for too few resources.
The fertility rate (the number of births per woman) is shrinking below or to the replacement level in many countries. In 1964 worldwide, it was 5.0. By 2017, it had dropped to 2.4. That still means population growth overall. For population to gradually shrink, the global fertility rate has to fall below 2.0.
Check this: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/
Driven by economics and fear of the future, some people are choosing to have fewer or no children. But openly encouraging population reduction provokes instant condemnation. Almost nobody talks about it.
Hummingbird chicks so small they fit in a teaspoon know not to poop in their own nests. They raise their tiny butts above the rim and shoot poop projectiles into the air. We humans soil the only nest we have. The more of us there are, the faster we destroy our planet. The only way to save our species and millions of others is to reduce our numbers.
Problems caused by a shrinking population — more older people and fewer younger people — are solvable. Problems caused by limitless population growth are not. They threaten the existence of life on Earth.
— Doug Fiske