The global problem?

Wikipedia notes: ‘The Population Bomb [1968] is a book written by Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich.  It predicted worldwide famine due to overpopulation[i], as well as other major societal upheavals, and advocated immediate action to limit population growth. Fears of a “population explosion” existed in the mid-20th century baby boom years, but the book and its author brought the idea to an even wider audience.’

‘The book has been criticized since its publication for its alarmist tone, and in recent decades for its inaccurate predictions. The Ehrlichs stand by the book despite its flaws, stating in 2009 that “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future” and believe that it achieved their goals because “it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future.”’

Population – with or without the bomb associations – certainly gets a lot of attention still.

Mention climate change – and the need to drop fossil fuels as sources of energy – on social media sites and you’ll hear critics saying that it’s not coal (or oil) to blame but overpopulation. Ipso facto: the world’s resources are under stress because of overpopulation (mostly in the global south[1]) so this is the root cause of our current environmental – and some other – problems, not fossil fuels (nor unchecked overconsumption in the global north). We might sum up the attitude of such critics as “TOO MANY OF THEM and NOT ENOUGH OF US.” One does suspect that many of such critics may be bots designed by fossil fuel companies and their minions.

Doing anything (via rethinking economic growth as the ONLY paradigm) about the wealthy nations’ unfettered greed and desire to maintain hegemony – privilege – is, in the convoluted reasoning of these critics, untenable. Current thinking insists we must allow

  • underdeveloped or undeveloped nations [their terms] a chance to realise the joys of democratic neoliberal capitalism by exporting to them and their political elites as much coal and oil and gas etc. as they need to power industrial development and so on and so forth. Thus they can make the things we won’t make because our LABOR is too expensive, but theirs isn’t.

The only other thing to do is the unthinkable – deny them what we’ve got or cull the population[ii] (with the problematic associated impact of reducing demand for stuff). The end reference takes you to a satirical essay on this topic entitled ‘A modest proposal for the preservation of the plutocracy’. It is anchored in this document, so an internal link.

It is chiefly the FAR RIGHT who make use of this threat of unfettered population growth in the Global South to:

  • assert that our lives – and lifestyles – are under threat. Thus we need to build walls, curb immigration, deny asylum, monitor aid, go to war with Russia, China et al, not do anything real and significant about the root cause of the problems.

The notion of overpopulation thus becomes the global problem of concern because…

[i] The Population Bomb has been characterized by critics as primarily a repetition of the Malthusian catastrophe argument that population growth will outpace agricultural growth unless controlled. Ehrlich observed that since about 1930 the population of the world had doubled within a single generation, from 2 billion to nearly 4 billion, and was on track to do so again. He assumed that available resources on the other hand, and in particular food, were nearly at their limits. Some critics compare Ehrlich unfavourably to Malthus, saying that although Thomas Malthus did not make a firm prediction of imminent catastrophe, Ehrlich warned of a potential massive disaster within the next decade or two. In addition, critics state that unlike Malthus, Ehrlich did not see any means of avoiding the disaster entirely (although some mitigation was possible), and proposed solutions that were much more radical than those discussed by Malthus, such as starving whole countries that refused to implement population control measures.

Ehrlich was certainly not unique in his neo-Malthusian predictions, and there was a widespread belief in the 1960s and 70s that increasingly catastrophic famines were on their way.

[1] See https://globalsouthstudies.as.virginia.edu/what-is-global-south

[1] A modest proposal for the preservation of the plutocracy

A melancholy question occurred to me the other day beside the polo field – what if all this was taken away? I’d skimmed a summary on my holdings and companies before setting out that morning in the Jag, which I drive myself – why give that pleasure to someone else? The summary presented the usual mix, with continued questions from me re my fossil fuel entities (R_, who says the writing is on the wall for carbon assets and is busy divesting, says that still guarding fossil interests may well leave me with stranded assets).  My other entities, ‘green’ investment schemes, safe banking, hemp futures, property in eight countries  and so on and so forth were otherwise doing well. I’ve never touched the Ponzi scheme that is crypto currencies.

Mulling this over again beside the polo field, a match having just finished, I was thinking (taking in a view of green sward, white picket fences, sunny sky and hundreds of thousands of dollars of prime horseflesh being spelled or rubbed down) just how good life can be. And then arose that unhappy question: what if this is all taken away?

I stood suddenly (I’d been leaning on a fence), spilled a little champers from my flute. [Imagine a world without champers.] Times are unsettled; Boris is gone, Trump allegedly sidelined – is such a thing possible? – and a number of other governments that unreservedly favour our cause out of office or on the nose. It seems we might be experiencing our own French revolution.

Everyone I know, and whose opinions matter, will agree that the numbers of ‘US’ seem about right at the moment, but are they optimal? As of 2022, the world’s population stands at something over 7.7 billion. The exact figure is immaterial, of course, and probably unknowable, as various regions of the planet keep spitting them out at prodigious rates.

What matters is that about two and one half thousand of this number are ‘US’: people who have proven their worth. If you have a billion or more dollars (and more is better) you count, and though I may not be one of the hallowed 26, we others are still those whose material value is proven; we are, as we should be, those who decide. Power resides with us.

And we are under threat. If we do not act soon, we may lose out because there are, now, simply too many of them and not enough of US. This is the nub of the problem.

Those ‘democratic’ ideas of personal growth and development and of owning things – of potentially joining the club of the wealthy (once it was millionaires, now you need more) are essentially mythical but they’re myths we promote. Who knows, perhaps we even half believe them ourselves?  And yes – we have room for more among ‘US’ but not so much room that we can afford to be complacent.

Let’s cut to the chase.

Population control is the subject of my proposal. Certainly, we could admit a few more others to our numbers, but how many? Does the fact that we now have seven plus billion agitated people – many with new found liberal progressive ideologies – allow US enough power to suggest an answer? Or should we act with some rigour before this question is answered in the negative.

What is the optimum number of people? I do appreciate my champers and seven cars at home and the rest of the asset list but I also rather enjoy my room at the fishing lodge on New Zealand’s Owen River and skiing in Bulgaria where the crowds are less populated with Dutch queue jumpers (and those energetic Japanese with carbon fibre skis and the stand out against the snow sunburned Englishmen). But I’m feeling hemmed in. And let us admit it now before it is too late… the fishing has not been so good at Owen River (and elsewhere) the last three or so years and the crowds are growing too large in Bulgaria. We all know this, or things like this.

At what point do too many entities wishing to be like us create a problem? At what point does my Veuve vanish, my ski lodge become overcrowded and the Owen River unfishable? Certainly, I can contemplate a move to another place for skiing and fishing (South America comes to mind) but even there, the pressures are being felt. (Jeffrey’s lodge near Villa el Chochón is for sale, Reggie tells me, but Donnie tells me it’s getting crowded in Patagonia.)

An optimal figure for world population, so demographers tell me, is less than we have now. How much less? Surely 50 million is too low a global population? What about 100 million, a billion, two? What is optimal? If the purpose of people is to grow economies and improve living standards, though not, let us be honest, at equal rates, then seven plus billion is having gone too far. Diseconomies of scale. That has become obvious. The numbers are simply too great. The myth of endless healthy consumption and the good work of Adam Smith’s invisible hand (though we know full well whose hands they are) is now too exposed for our good. What’s to be done?

3 billion is the number my people came up with; that is optimal for provision of labor pools, consumption to keep the wheels of business turning but not too fast, a pool of better educated workers from which we can recruit other worthy souls. Three billion, which was the world’s population around 1950: keep that figure in mind.

But let us first consider how well we’ve done to let the numbers grow well past that magic three billion. We have been, shall I say it, philanthropic.

There is much to be learned about preservation of our lifestyles in the methods and modes of our American and Australian brethren. Lessons to be taken, also, from the reverses we are suffering in Europe. (Asia remains of course a morass of nothingness but will no doubt do as it is told. Its members who matter are part of us, not really Asian.)

I have examined and admired (and even, I will say with some truth, modestly supported) the methods used for control of those I now call the fossil fooled as practiced by our governments and media in America and Oz, as the plebs like to call it. But those methods are under duress. As is our maintenance of fossil fuel; Reggie is right, I’ve decided, and we need to consider a shift into more renewable energy sources. (I do recall the stink of Australian smoke on the Owens not long ago. Not pleasant, particularly as the fishing had been poor.)

We still control the media and perhaps the government in the antipodes and the U.S. Britain is still ours but other parts of Europe not so certain. Denial works where we control the message (though things may be getting out of hand after those infernal fires in Australia [then floods, it’s a cursed nation] and in other parts) but our grip is loosening and it cannot be assured into the future. Furthermore, resources are stretched, particularly water. While agribusiness can genetically ensure increasing yields there appear to be natural feedback loops of which we were not aware and which may compromise our ability to feed increasing numbers of people.

It has become apparent, surely, that nearly eight billion is too many to maintain our lifestyle and their illusory hopes of better lives. If we are to maintain a fossil fooled population – even while reinvesting in renewables and downsizing from coal and oil et al, a move it will be relatively simple to convince the hoi polloi is both wise and with the good of all at heart (& Bill will be on side) – then that optimal three billion is the number we should aim for. A significant drop in population is essential, despite the move to other fuel sources. And this reduction needs to occur almost immediately; my people suggest within the space of 10 or so years, by 2030. At the latest, 2035.

Two methods to achieve this desired outcome can be employed, either together or separately depending on context and media control levels.

The first will involve either voluntary suppression of fertility rates – a Chinese one child policy, if you like, or mandated economic gains from smaller family sizes – or an involuntary one through the use of chemical agents or hysterectomies of the poor, prisoners, and others marginalised in various jurisdictions.

The second more dramatic means of population reduction, and one that must be utilised, is annihilation of certain groups. Asia suggests itself as the best venue for this second method, as do parts of Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa.

Suggested timelines are:

Access of government and commercial records (taxation, personal banking et cetera) as a means test; this will give us numbers at least in the hundreds of millions of those below certain rates of earning or on welfare of some sort, if not more. (There are of course many others who cannot to be assessed in this way. General Felix Duchorne of Myanmar (still serving) and Marshall Meric of the former Serbian armed forces indicate that there are many more people than we suspect who are ‘off record’; such a status they argue, means that eradication is actually expedited. Who misses the unrecorded? Street dwellers, the homeless that every city and rural township possesses, whores, the drug raddled and con merchants – who will miss these?)

Implementation of method 2 should immediately begin once means tests are applied and suitable persons identified. Obviously the first cohort for this would be the very poor, those who earn less than say 10 dollars a week. To begin with, this would apply in less sensitive parts of the world such as rural Asia and Eastern Europe. Who would miss them other than as traffic directors on crowded roads (soon to be less crowded), occasional gardeners and rat catchers. Let us be honest; such people do not really function for us; they neither mind our children and rarely warm our beds. 

Meanwhile, those unrecorded persons, as alluded to above, are already disappearing. Pinochet’s methods have much to recommend them in this field; at least 40,000 plus in just the first four years of his government is an impressive count. What was learned in the Chile of the 1970s can be refined and applied now in a number of countries across the world, for instance Venezuela and Bolivia and Peru in South America, Laos, Bangladesh and Myanmar in Asia, and, so my man in Durban tells me, at least 11 countries in Africa (though they are doing a good job there of keeping mortality rates high, their fertility rates are still too high). This also benefits the military industrial complex – low grade weapons and munitions sales should boom. GDP increases are guaranteed and useful employment found for some.

Concomitant with method two’s initiation are media campaigns to promote smaller one child families in allied democracies or government rulings to this effect in nations where more centralised authority exists. My PR people tell me that one-child is not difficult to apply in many cases due to the operation of the greed/luxury lifestyle lure. The demographic transition model applies across most cultures and socio-economic groups. As people become ‘wealthier’ fecundity naturally subsides. Japan is a case in point; aging population and natural decline as a logical extension of demographic transition. (Some losses must still occur in Japan , and Professor Daichi Arata of Ito University has presented an addendum to this proposal dealing with the specifics of Japan; I recommend it to you as a very worthy and well-reasoned case study in dealing with a nation that has often posed difficult questions. The Japanese mind set is one that is difficult for westerners to get their heads around.)

Administration of agent[s] for controlled eradication of excess population would not employ the same methods as used by Germany in World War II, for obvious reasons. The most significant of these is the near impossibility of selling an act with that historical reference to a public[1]. Though the public is inordinately gullible, any action which reminds them of the cultural icon that the Holocaust has become is simply unsellable. As a reminder we cannot use anything like Zyklon B, (Cyclone B), the trade name of the cyanide-based pesticide invented in Germany in the early 1920s and used in extermination camps from early 1942.

Better methods for mass eradication exist. Ensuring the spread of such does not infect any of the desired retained population can be problematic depending on methods employed. Let me consider a few that exist as part of the historical record.

Air borne contaminants such as were accidentally released in Bhopal India can be employed: such accidents affecting poorer populations do not really rate significant or sustained media attention and, as indicated, would be occurring in parts of the world that really ‘don’t matter’ to most of the people we need acquiescent. However, these methods are chancy and still not sufficient to ensure really significant falls in numbers, consistent with the desired outcome of 3 billion. There is also still the risk of such contaminants affecting people we’d rather they didn’t. Air currents and weather are such chaotic things. Nevertheless, the Bhopal vector can be employed in places, I am assured.

Water borne contaminants face the same issues as air borne ones. I will not labour the point with historical records.

You can see that gas and chemical leaks are fraught with issues in terms of PR work, particularly if they were to be employed on anything like the scale needed.

Diseases (Ebola, Sars and Coronaviruses come immediately to mind) are the best administration tools. The notable biochemist and biomedical scientist, Dr. Bruno Tesch (of whom you have heard; rumours of his death were much exaggerated, if you can forgive my allusion to Mr. Hemingway), has been working tirelessly on mutation of all three and others such as Motabi and Congo B. He and his team have developed very virulent forms of these, which can be delivered via water and air. Or through injection campaigns (though of course we face the kind of paranoia found in anti-vaxxers with delivery here). As such, the means by which we would obtain disease infection will vary according to regional and cultural factors. Three of the key infections being investigated are particularly pertinent and, in fact, ready to be used; they are undetectable, fast acting and relatively simple to deliver. Most importantly, inoculation for these new 100% fatal forms exist and have in fact been trialled on myself and members of my immediate family, among others.

Vaccinating the rest of US is very much feasible as soon as you respond to my modest proposal. Vaccinating the remainder of our desired optimal population is a little more problematic so we can expect to lose some. You cannot, as they say, make an omelette without breaking eggs. Areas for employment of the bacteriological/viral agents would need to be carefully monitored.

I have perhaps digressed. Let me return to the proposal and its advantages, though I am certain many of these have already occurred to you.

The first is obvious: a better, cleaner world for us. As observed, fishing, shooting, skiing and other nature based activities have declined. We all know this and I know that I’ll appreciate, as will my two daughters and son, fewer people around. The fish will come back, the snows will be less trammelled (even if the snow fields are fewer and farther between), particularly if you recall that we are divesting ourselves of the prime contaminants creating a hotter world, greenhouse emissions. Fewer people means there is more room for planting up carbon stores too, and employment opportunities.

As a secondary benefit of our fallen numbers, the greenhouse gas emissions shall also decline as carbon footprints are significantly diminished. There are simply fewer polluters.

A smaller population also means there is less opportunity for agitators to fulminate against us; revolutions never really topple US but they can be very disagreeable. Just ask Rasputin.

A smaller population can be better educated, more cheaply, and in such a way as to provide recruitment to us and to further reduce pressures created out of poverty and religion for population growth. Senator Dolores Toro has said that well educated women do not have large families; she is right. But beginning that process works so much better if your base figure is three billion rather than seven or eight.

A smaller population still provides a workforce and market, though our models of endless consumption will need to be substantially revised. What we actually require is that steady state economy they have railed at us about for decades. I have infiltrated CASSE and the methods we can use to achieve such, with our people still firmly entrenched on top, are very able to be implemented. If we control production and government and media, a reset is possible, and so much more readily achievable with a smaller population.

I could of course simply suggest to you that this is not a proposal; that you may see it as threat? It is NOT. I am no megalomaniac intent on world domination. I like my friends; my friends like me. I do not want a world where we are pitted against each other in some life and death struggle. In business, yes, in life, no. Our struggle is to maintain what we have and make it better for a smaller population. This is best for the planet. Nor do I have the means, myself, to ensure it works as it should. I need us to work in concert, as we always do, even if not consciously. Much of what some argue is needed to ensure that our existing population[s] is dealt with fairly and sustainably is useful here. But — and this is the critical BUT —  my experts tell me 7+ billion is too many, so we need, for the sake of both the earth and US, to reduce the pressure. Thus we can make a better world by first some significant and short term snipping of numbers, then (and concomitantly, because change is needed urgently):

Attain nett zero emissions by earlier than 2050 (relatively simple if population is curtailed to c. 3 billion by 2035). There is still some greenhouse emission going on, of course, but negative emissions guarantee zero is attained. Greenhouse emissions shrink further over the next 25 or so years.

Generate electricity and power via sustainable means. Smaller cellular networks are probably what will occur but there is still a lot of  money to be made in this.

Reduce consumption for the balance of the world’s population. This will require more localised food and other goods production. Less travel. Less conspicuous ownership. It will not apply to US, of course, but it is easier to maintain the myth of enrichment without actually enriching more than a few, than it is to rewrite the mythology. And we are good at hiding our wealth, if needed.

Amend agricultural practices that are affecting insect populations and having other negative impacts on natural systems.

I have – as do we all – a personal interest in promoting this necessary scheme. My motives are not entirely selfish though; as I’ve said, this will benefit those remaining. This will benefit the world.  

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