Overpopulation (was Re: Exowombs & AGING: a few billion too many)

From: James Rogers (jamesr@best.com)
Date: Fri Feb 22 2002 - 00:18:35 MST

On 2/21/02 8:27 PM, "Vanessa Novaeris" <novaeris@hotmail.com> wrote:
> I guess my whole gripe with the fertility issue goes back to a global
> population concern. Well okay maybe it really goes back even further to a
> local population concern. I returned to the city where I was raised this week
> to visit my family. Even though I've only been in the "country" (rural NW
> Mass.) for 2 months, I was shell shocked when I returned to Providence. Its
> not that its a big city by any means - its actually very tiny (size,
> buildings, etc.) but there are just SO many people everywhere, its
> suffocating. RI is the 2nd most densely populated state in the US and also the
> smallest geographically (*not a good combination). I remember it being pretty
> bad before, which is why I left. But you don't realize or you forget how
> crowded it is when you live there because you simply get used to it. And its
> only gotten worse. Going back after 5 years, I realized that it is NOT
> something I want to have to "get used to."

You don't have to get used to it, you've just chosen to locate yourself in
regions that have relatively dense populations. Part of this is standard
market mechanisms at work. Many of the most desirable places to live are
heavily populated, particularly in the Eastern Hemisphere. Nonetheless,
there are VAST tracts of usable land that are essentially uninhabited, even
in countries that are nominally highly developed. Quite frankly, in the
Western Hemisphere it seems that many undesirable places have huge
populations and many desirable places have less than a person per square
mile population density; there are many factors at play as to why people
concentrate where they do.

I think a lot of the concern about overpopulation is based largely on
perception. It isn't so much that we are over populated as it is that the
population is very poorly and/or unevenly distributed, due to a mixture of
historical, political, and economic reasons. There are still large regions
of the United States where one can drive a hundred kilometers between
houses, never mind towns, particularly west of the Rocky Mountains in the
Lower 48 and in Alaska. The same is true of most of Canada. I have little
doubt that North America could easily and safely support 2 billion people
given the necessity and without utterly destroying the environment. If you
lived in Southern California or the Bay Area (like I do) for example, the
world really does seem overpopulated, but the reality is that just east of
those very densely populated areas is a thousand miles of land where the
population density approaches zero. I guess you could consider it a kind of
sample selection bias.

As for me, I love wide open spaces without a trace of civilization. And if
you've ever been to those places, it is fairly evident that there is
relatively little chance of them becoming overrun with civilization any time
soon. Most people *like* living in dense urban/suburban environments.

-James Rogers

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