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

From: jeff davis (
Date: Sat Feb 23 2002 - 14:20:56 MST


--- Spike Jones <> wrote:
> ...And like throwing perfectly good fresh water into
> the sea.
> That should stop, post haste. If one goes to the
> mouth of the
> Columbia in Washington/Oregon or the Sacramento
> River delta
> in Taxifornia, or the Mississippi River delta in
> Louisiana, there
> one sees three appalling examples of wasted of fresh
> water. This
> planet isn't overpopulated, not even close. It is
> just under utilizing
> its fresh water resources and sunlight resources.
> spike

And the Yukon and the Amazon, etc. To my
knowledge--thoroughly anecdotal in this matter--among
major rivers, only the Nile withers to nothing in its
delta, never reaching the Mediterranean. The Amazon,
in contrast, was discovered when a Spanish ship's
captain noticed that the ocean water he was sailing
through was substantially fresh, a hundred miles out
to sea.

For the record, I consider the "population problem" to
be 95% Henny Penny hysteria. The vast, virtually
unpopulated open spaces of the world--Sahara desert,
Central Austrailia, Argentine steppes, the Canadian
and Siberian north, and, of course, the 70% of the
earth's surface that is water (not to mention the 70%
of the solid surface which lies beneath that
water)--lie unused because they are SURPLUS, and
logistically, somewhat inconvenient to use. Ergo,
there's plenty of space available for a vastly greater
multiple of humans than the current population.

The challenge of meeting the material needs of any
biological population ultimately boils down to
adequacy of energy supply, and as Larry Niven pointed
out in Ringworld and Robert Bradbury has repeatedly
inferred in his discussions of solar system
engineering, the final limiting factor in the energy
utilization formula is the disposal of waste heat.

Energy is what is required to appropriately configure
elemental materials to meet human needs. To make
food, unmake waste, to build things, to heat, to cool,
and transport things, and to allow us to process
information, all requires energy.

The raw energy incident on the surface of our planet
is 1.7 e11 megawatts. A sizable amount. And that
represents a mere 1/2,162,250,000th of the total
output of the sun.

There's plenty of energy.

The problem then--and this is old, old territory--is
not an excess, present or future, of human
population--that's a phantom. The problem is an
overabundance of human misbehavior. In the ongoing
contest between the primordial and the emergent,
between ancient reptilian ruthlessness and
consciouness-and-rationality-mediated self-control,...
which will prevail? We et the apple, strapped
ourselves in, and now we're waiting for the fat lady
to sing.

Fix the problem. Enhance. Transcend.

Best, Jeff Davis

 "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
                       Ray Charles

Do You Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Sports - Coverage of the 2002 Olympic Games

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Nov 01 2002 - 13:37:40 MST