free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 277. WHY A MASSIVE POPULATION IS GOOD

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I think a hundred years from now the ideal population, contrary to current trendy thinking, would not be a small population but a massive one. Far more massive then most people imagine being possible. The more humans the better things will be.

*Pause for pessimists to roll their eyes*

I'll attempt to explain this seemingly bizarre concept.

Paul wrote:
> If there were less people it would be nicer now, because we would have destroyed
> less on the way here...

If there were less people, it would not be now. If the current world population had only just reached what it was in the nineteen twenties for example, we wouldn't be at the technological and social stage that we are currently at, but rather that of the nineteen twenties. This is because growing populations and growing economies is what drives development and progress.

There seems to be this notion that if the human population somehow stayed at the miniscule levels of the pre-industrial era, then we could have advanced to some glorious age of high technological and socio-political existence, yet also had abundant resources for all.

This notion is garbage.

If the human population did not expand humanity would still be living in the pre-industrial hell that many people foolishly romanticize. It's through population and economic expansion that progress and development is made. The reason we live such comfortable, healthy, educated and entertained lives today is because of the large human population.

And so back to my opening statement, the ideal human population of the future is a massive population. Because if there is a massive human population in the future it will mean that we have continued to progress, develop, and evolve. A progressing population in the years ahead will solve many of the problems we now face. A growing population will have found alternative ways to live and prosper; they will have found ways to undo much of the environmental damage done on the journey; they will have found sustainable ways to live and ways to raise the standard of living.

Contrary to doomer shortsighted thinking, a large population will be far better for both humanity and the environment then a small population can ever be.
-- by Omnitir


At Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 7:24:00 AM PDT, Blogger goritsas said...

Are there any limits to this massive population or do you expect the population will continue to grow without halt?

Is there any "optimum" massive population?

If there is a population contraction, for whatever reason, will that mean we will be unable to solve pressing problems?

If the population was enduring a long term contraction does this signal the end of the human race as we will obviously not have enough "talent" to resolve any issues we might face during this period?

At Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 7:49:00 AM PDT, Blogger Fat Man said...

Every mouth comes with a pair of hands.

I guess you are not going to support that prof in Texas who wants to use Elboa to kill off 90% of the world's population. Now that was creepy.

At Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 9:04:00 AM PDT, Blogger goritsas said...

With regard to the notion that from more people springs more innovation, here's a voice with a different take.

Scientist: Rate of progress slowing

At Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 9:05:00 PM PDT, Blogger BlackSun said...

Sustainable living can make almost any human population figure perpetually viable.

At no time in history have humans yet lived in a sustainable manner. Hunter-gatherers prospered because there were so few of them on a large planet.

Solve the sustainability problem, we solve everything. Ignore it, and we will eventually be facing some kind of die-off.

At Wednesday, April 5, 2006 at 1:37:00 AM PDT, Blogger Markku said...

I agree that while the population is growing, there is a benefit from having a larger working force than the previous generation to pay for caretaking of the elderly.

Why does everyone always forget that during population growth, the proportion of children and youth being cared for and educated while producing nothing is also high?!

Just think about it for a minute. The average pensioner lives about 15 years on pension while the average young person spends in kindergarten, school, and vocational training/college for about 20-25 years before working.

It seems to me that having a large proportion of minors is much worse than having a large proportion of old people.

Yes, you can argue that old people need plenty of medical services and hospitalization but they don't require any teaching and much less policing and incarceration than the young, particularly young men.

At Wednesday, April 5, 2006 at 8:02:00 AM PDT, Blogger Markku said...


It seems to me that having a large proportion of minors is much worse than having a large proportion of old people.


You're free to offer examples of the success of your theory rather then just assuming it's correct.

I meant better as in imposing fewer costs on the productive members of society, i.e. the working population.

Pensioners live an average of about 15 years before they die. The average person starts his/her career as a productive member of society roughly at the age of 20-25 in contemporary Western societies.

Which one is more costly for the working population to feed, clothe etc., a pensioner or a child/adolescent?

I'm just saying that the fact that it is often implied that out of the non-working population onlypensioners are an economic burden to society and thus a potential source of fiscal hardship.

At Wednesday, April 5, 2006 at 9:10:00 PM PDT, Blogger Joe said...

I'm not sure what you mean by a "massive population". It seems to me that, at a particular moment of time there is probably an optimal population. Over time as technology improves this optimal population changes.

As other commentators have said, in this century the world will see its population start to decline. By 2100 the population may be back to about where it is now. Assuming that we can solve global warming, I feel comfortable that at that point even the poorest in the world wil be "richer" than the top quarter of people in the US today.

At Wednesday, April 12, 2006 at 11:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger 8riaN said...

I won't even bother addressing the notion that bigger is always better, as it's just a straw man to distract the cornucopians and their opponents from the real issue, which is...

How close are we to the carrying capacity of the biosphere, and which is better for humanity, to reduce, or increase the human population?

I have a gut response to this question, which is that all the best solutions to today's problems invlove several billion corpses - until you take into account the actual death toll.

What this means is that less people makes all the answers much easier. And statements like: "economy has grown as a result of population growth" barely merit response because of course the economy grows with more people, the valid question is does quality of life also improve?

The statement that: "population growth did play a positive role in the progress of the S&T over the last few centuries" is much more interesting (assuming S&T means science and technology - please, correct me if I'm wrong.) Is that really true? Or is it just the opposite, did the discovery of germ theory by a small, privileged elite lead to substantive changes in the human ecological equation which allowed a larger population to be supported? I am certainly not convinced that the number of impoverished plebs was particularly pivotal in the development of anti-biotics, or vaccinations. What was important was the level of education of the educated.

If you want to argue that the more well-educated humans we have on the planet the better, I'm all for it, but the fact is, you start educating women in pre-industrial societies and the birth rate goes down along with the infant mortality rate - with overall population growth slowing. This is good, in my book. I'd rather have one, smart, educated child for every two ignorant adults than a litter of serfs who can't tell choliform contamination from the evil eye.

The one most subtle, and in my opinion dangerous argument, is: "A large population isn't necessary for economic success. Capitalism and, ultimately, democracy are the necessities." While I'll grant that captialism and democracy have been more effective than it's historical anticedants, I think it's painfully obvious to anybody who honestly looks at the state of the world and the environment today that to look to capitalism as an ultimate answer to the challenges that face our planet and our species in particular, is to utterly abdicate our responsibility as thinking beings to a blithe complacency that things will just "work themselves out for the best" without our having to worry about it.

Do the lessons of Halliburton (i.e. KBR) and Enron teach us nothing? Are these flukes, examples of bad men doing bad things - aberations in the system which true captialism would naturally expunge without thought?

No, these are examples of what comes of treating corporate entities, whose officers are specifically prohibited from basing decisions on any motive other than profit, as if they were the moral equivalent of human beings.

If some clever economist/philosopher can come up with a form of capitalism which does NOT require us to treat as human anything that does not have the full moral compass of an ACTUAL huuman, then perhaps capitalism can be saved, but as it stands, we are Frankenstein and the actions of the monster we have created are our responsibility. I would no sooner turn to capitalism, or even to democracy if the US is to be the example of democracy in action, for a roadmap to the future than I would to r. Faust for a path to salvation.

This is not to say that US democratic capitalism is not a reasonable starting point from which to imagine the future as much as to say that to neglect to acknowlege the dismal failures of this, the best system I believe the world has seen to date, is to give short shrift to the un-plumbed depth of the human, and yes, the American imagination.

We can do better. Much, much better. And whether it's because of the increased population pressure and impending peak-oil, or despite it, I feel that we stand at a nexus of both doom and opportunity such as the human race has never seen. And I am awed to be a witness to it.

At Saturday, April 29, 2006 at 6:01:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact is we use about 40% of the land surface of the earth, which is about 70% of the arable land on the earth. The remaining 30% provides only insignificant ecological services like rain-forests. You know, the sort of thing your typical greenie goes on about. It's just so irrelevant to critical concerns like the colour of my iPod.

So as we do not care about having any natural sinks for absorbing carbon, toxins, preserving wildlife, maintaining some bio-diversity, you know... all those boring things, I wonder how fast we can grow?

Say 1% per year? When the geometric progression is mapped out for 1% per annum growth for one human lifetime of about 70 years, the world population will only have gone up by a factor of 2. It will have doubled to about 13 billion people at just 1% per year. Too easy! We can cope with that!

Not enough, I hear you say? We can chop down the remaining forests, we can put solar towers in the deserts and green the deserts, increasing the arable land and do all manner of things. We have to, JD said so.

So even though Lester Brown writes horrible things like Oil and food: a rising security challenge, Deserts advancing, Civilization retreating, World food security deteriorating and many other concerns we can defeat all this doom and gloom. There are no natural limits — JD said so.

So lets stretch out to 2% growth per annum for 70 years. There you go, that was not so bad was it? Except that now we have 4 times the population, or 26 billion.

Oh, now we need:-
4 times the agricultural land, (from deserts?),
4 times the energy (after peak oil and gas, and probably peak coal at these population levels),
4 times the trees for building McMansions (we just chopped down the rainforest to have more agriculture),
4 times the freshwater (we already have water restrictions here in Australia).

Nah! We can beat all of this when we go NUKULAR and get those NUKULAR powered food towers going that JD raves about. Growth is good! We'll build steel homes, packed dirt homes, and do all that funky JD stuff like sleeping at work if we have to. There's no need to think about natural limits... no need to be concerned about lifestyle changes, we've just GOT to grow! Peak Oil Debunked said so!

So let us stretch out and really BREED at 3% per annum for the next 70 years = 52 billion!

4% = 104 billion.
5% = 208 billion
6% = 416 billion
7% = 832 billion

There is nothing to see here. There are no walls to our Petri dish called earth, there is no over consumption of resources, no overshoot, nothing to worry about.

Back to your TV sitcoms and BREEDING. We are human beings and can defy the laws of thermodynamics! JD said so.

At Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 5:01:00 AM PDT, Blogger cynicboy said...

Ive seen some retarded opinions in my time but this takes the cake!*rolls eyes*

At Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 11:59:00 PM PST, Blogger AR said...

You are a total moron. This is the stupidest thing I've heard.

At Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 5:22:00 PM PDT, Blogger YoungAdam said...

where will we get the resources to support this MASSIVE population? We're already destroying huge amounts of the rain forest...

At Sunday, June 10, 2007 at 8:26:00 AM PDT, Blogger Felix said...


"It's through population and economic expansion that progress and development is made."

Looks like someone is having problems with the concept of cause and effect. Does the possesion of wealth makes is wealthy? Do advances make us advanced?

Did the population skyrocketed and then we managed to found oil, coal, etc? NO! It was a gradual process. We made a little advance here, and population grew a little bit, then more and more and more.

China and India have really large populations, each about 4 times larger than the US. Are they 4 times more developed than the US?

At Sunday, June 10, 2007 at 8:35:00 AM PDT, Blogger Felix said...

I'm not sure how is the panorama in other technical fields but there are like 1000 times more physicists today than in 1900 and all we manage to do is sprout out a plethora of increasingly intrascendent papers. Publish or die as we say.

My so called tutor has written about 20 articles since the 80's on a new mathematical method to find numerical solutions to the Schrodinguer equation. Einstein instead changed the world with just 5 papers in 1905.

At Thursday, September 27, 2007 at 11:30:00 AM PDT, Blogger Denis said...


"The reason we live such comfortable, healthy, educated and entertained lives today is because of the large human population."

Define "we" please. Did you include the 20% of the world who couldn't read a single word from your entry? (assume it's translated into the most convenient language)

Did you include the 75% of the world who don't even have a computer?

I want you to explain how you can go around saying that a higher population benefits us "all" when the rich-to-poor ratio of countries have increased 32 fold over the past 150 years.

At Monday, October 15, 2007 at 7:13:00 AM PDT, Blogger Tate said...

High populations sure helped out those Easter Islanders, didn't it?

If they would have stayed in small numbers, they never would have known the sweet taste of victory. Give me overshoot or give me death. All diversity must end now. Any habitat that isn't exclusively human habitat is just wrong-headed thinking. Raze the bastards down and build, build, build... aha ha hahaha hah ha!

At Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 3:54:00 PM PST, Blogger doomseer said...

"a massive population is good" >> that is total nonsense.
google Thomas Malthus or here also see excelent documentary "arithmetic, population and energy"

At Monday, March 3, 2008 at 4:46:00 AM PST, Blogger Blaine said...

This is an interesting opinion but I have grave reservations about large populations. If all groups within that population are working towards self preservation of that society then that would be the greatest outcome, but when you seriously seen that happen on this planet.

Our instincts for survival at best put us against eachother when things start getting desperate, how many wars have we had to convince anyone of that.

Small communities-and yes I have lived in both small and large, have less in some ways but look after what they do have and each other, the larger the community the more anonomous it's members become and the more impersonal the loss of life becomes.

By the way, my parents lived in India during the split between India and what would become Pakistan, they witnessed some truly horrendous and brutal actions take place between groups of angry people who before showed some of the most caring, articulate and beautiful culture you could hope for, so good luck with your selection of post peak communities.

At Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 1:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger UmassMenus said...

"The reason we live such comfortable, healthy, educated and entertained lives today is because of the large human population."

You might be speaking for us, but I guess you mean "we" as in the top 10%

I'm not trying to bombast your articles, but they are more opinion than fact.

At Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 1:17:00 PM PDT, Blogger UmassMenus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 5:07:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"Accounting for growth: the role of physical work" a paper by Robert Ayers and Benjamin Warr (Structural Change and Economic Dynamics) produces the best correlation to energy and economic growth yet produced by examining the actual work done by the energy used. This takes account of increases in efficiency. It is a combination many factors including this increase in energy efficiency, coupled with the 'Green revolution' of the 70's (that massively increased agricultural crop yields) that has driven economic growth and hence allowed an increase in population. As the energy in the system starts to decrease (whenever that is) so there will be a decrease in the economy, and more than likely, food production. A corresponding decrease in population will shortly follow. E=mc^2. We are energy, and we have to consume energy to continue our existence due to entropy. Whether the natural flow energies from the sun can provide enough for a large population remains to be seen... and whether there will be anything left to live for: 90% of ocean life maybe gone by mid century, and the deserts are encroaching fast.


At Friday, October 9, 2009 at 9:40:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Emac said...

Omnitir - I wonder where you live. Not in an overpopulated city, of course. The progress we have seen is based on the expanding use of oil, gas and coal. When their production starts to fall, progress and population will also fall. To believe otherwise is foolish.

At Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 9:56:00 PM PDT, Anonymous X9 said...

I don't think I've ever read a more ludicrous justification of an unlimited populace in my life.

This mentality is nothing short of parasitic.

It seems there are a large number of people who believe our ingenuity will transcend obstacles that, with a little bit of basic thought, would not have become problems in the first place. The circular acceptance here is mind-boggling.

The techno-geeks who think their brains can outwit the natural order of our universe need to stop watching Star Trek and attempt to understand that our capacity to create balance is the truest form of human intelligence.

Infinite progress is ludicrous, but more importantly, unneccesary.

In science, the simplest answer is sought as the most rational. And here, we've got the very same proponents of such scientific method contradicting themselves by promoting a larger and more sophisticated dynamic by which to live by.

Hubris of the highest order.

I just stumbled upon this site after watching "Collapse", and intended to find some balanced rebuttal to the movie. I like JD and his seemingly calm and objective manner by which he approaches such topics. I've been going over quite a few entries and am impressed for the most part. This particular article however, is nothing short of laughable.

At Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 10:18:00 PM PDT, Anonymous X9 said...

This is without a doubt, the stupidest article I've ever read. Logic is entirely absent here.

If you calculated the ratio of how many people contribute currently to progress of the species compared to the current populace, you'd need to exponentially recognize the same ratio in a planet lined shoulder to shoulder.

The writer assumes that the percentage of contributing people will increase based on the potentials of a larger, more diverse intellectual population.

Unfortunately they forget that social inequality can never transcend exponential population growth.

I can't even put into words how ludicrous this article is.

There are some good objective opinions from JD and others on here, but this thing is just out to lunch on so many levels.


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