Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Hard Numbers

According to the wiki article on Texas, its area is 268,820 square miles. Now, 1 square mile is exactly 27,878,400 square feet. Ergo, Texas has approximately 7.5 x 10^12 square feet. Now, according to the wiki article on World Population, the current population of the world is estimated by the US Census Bureau to be 6,808,900,000. Suppose we were to fit the entire world population into the state of Texas. How much room would each person have? Well, you'd take your 7.5 x 10^12 and divide by 6,808,900,000. According to my calculator, that gives about 1100 square feet / person. That's a small home with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and one bathroom. That's not too bad. If you do the same calculation, except that you use the area of the entire United States, you end up with approximately 15500 square feet / person. That's an extremely large mansion.

Have you ever noticed that the people who argue that the world is over-populated tend to be liberals/socialists? And have you also noticed that liberals and socialists tend to be concentrated in large cities? And have you ever noticed that in large cities, the amount of living area the average person has is considerably smaller than in the country? It makes you wonder, doesn't it, as to whether liberals are able to look beyond the confines of their cities!

To take another angle, let us consider wheat. According to the wiki on Norman Borlaug,

Biologist Paul R. Ehrlich wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, "The battle to feed all of humanity is over ... In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." Ehrlich said, "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971," and "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980." - Ehrlich, Paul: The Population Bomb, 1968.

A little bit later, the wiki has the following: "By 1974, India was self-sufficient in the production of all cereals." So, ok, maybe India took a little time to get there, but they did. Ehrlich's basic idea was flat-out wrong. Norman Borlaug has been credited with saving the lives of over a billion people from starvation.

When are we going to get it into our heads that Malthus and Ehrlich are wrong? It seems, in the face of such hard numbers as I've given above, that the over-population people are incorrect. So why would supposedly rational people ignore numbers such as these? There might be any number of reasons. Possibly one reason might be that science and hard data is not as important to such people as control over other people. We've seen this first-hand with the climategate scandal, which the extreme environmentalists have ignored to the best of their ability. Their support is waning, however.

I would issue a call to liberals and socialists everywhere to re-examine your philosophy and how well it matches up with your rhetoric. Do not invoke science and statistics when you intend to twist them for your own political agenda.

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At 6/06/2010 08:54:00 PM ,  James Gregory said...

There are lots of good arguments both for and against the idea that the world is over-populated, but literally *no-one* argues that the problem is literally one of running out of physical space to store people. To say that your first two paragraphs attack a straw man would be a dramatic understatement. Furthermore, though it's true that people have in the past worried about levels of food production, pretty much no-one argues that any more. If you really wanted you could go read a book written by a modern environmentalist, but presumably you are uninterested in doing so.

At 11/11/2010 02:48:00 PM ,  Adrian C. Keister said...

My point is that the earth's resources are incredibly far from being exhausted in supporting human life. There are a number of assumptions that modern environmentalists seem to make which I would challenge.

1. There is an odd dichotomy between man being basically good and being basically bad. The modern environmentalist appears to think that, morally, people are basically good, and that people are basically bad for the environment (in pretty much every way you can think of; modern environmentalists appear to want to apologize to the earth for existing). My answer to this is no and no. Morally, people are basically bad, as the Bible makes clear; moreover, men are called to be good stewards of the earth, as the Bible makes clear. Men doing things to the earth can be a very good thing. While it is true in certain cases that men might not have a good incentive to be good to the earth, most of the time, they do. Hence, while some regulations are undoubtedly important, market forces are much more powerful than most liberals are willing to believe.

2. In terms of sustaining human populations, what's considered "poverty-level" is quite simply ridiculous. I have a friend in my church who would be considered poor by many standards, and yet he has a car and a computer! Those two things right there put him in an entirely different financial class than the truly poor person who has nothing. For that, you'll need to go to countries in Africa with distribution problems and corrupt governments. That's where you can see true poverty.

3. Finally, the world's birth rate (except for Muslims and maybe a few other classes of people) is below the necessary 2.1 births per woman necessary to sustain the world's population. In places such as much of Europe (especially non-Muslim France and Italy) and Japan, the population is halving every generation. If it weren't for immigration, America would be in the same boat.

Fundamentally, I think what we're dealing with here is a culture of death versus a culture of life.

We do not have an overpopulation problem. Period. We have a distribution problem. And the solution to the distribution problem is not socialism, Marxism, or communism. The solution isn't even capitalism, as powerful as it is for increasing wealth. The solution is the gospel.