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Book Notes - Rapid Growth of Human Populations

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  • Rick Reese
    William Stanton, The Rapid Growth of Human Populations 1750-2000, Multi-Science Publishing Company, Brentwood, United Kingdom, 2003. I liked this book a lot.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 15, 2008
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      William Stanton, The Rapid Growth of Human Populations 1750-2000,
      Multi-Science Publishing Company, Brentwood, United Kingdom, 2003.

      I liked this book a lot. It discusses the population problem without a
      humanist bias (so it will be uncomfortable for humanists to read). The book
      frames the population problem from a new perspective, which makes the issue
      easier to understand. In addition to Stanton's thesis on population, the
      book is packed with population growth charts - one for every nation. There
      are amazing variations in population growth, region by region.

      Stanton is a man with strong opinions, and some paragraphs, here and there,
      were a bit over the edge for me. But, it was refreshing to see someone take
      this subject and push it to the limits. Stanton vigorously blindsides a
      fair number intellectual taboos. Hooray! These taboos are destroying the

      Walter Youngquist told me that the first printing of this book was 1,000
      copies. The second printing was 500. Get it while you can.

      Three terms are used in this book:

      WROG - Weak Restraints on Growth. The WROG era (from 1750-2000) raised the
      planet's carrying capacity, which inspired a population explosion.

      DC - Death Control. Technological improvements (disease control, sanitary
      sewers) have reduced the death rate (but not the birth rate), fueling
      population explosion.

      VCL - Violent Cutback Level. Every society has a level of overpopulation at
      which violence is inevitable, leading to population reduction.

      4 If emissions per person decrease by 10%, while the population increases by
      10%, there is no gain. When eco-groups strive to reduce emissions alone,
      while remaining silent about population, no benefits are reaped. 21 Before
      1750, and the fossil fuel era, populations were quite small, and they were
      limited by the carrying capacity of the land. Carrying capacity was reached
      when malnutrition drove the death rate up to match the birth rate. With the
      advent of the Industrial Revolution, new technologies increased agricultural
      production. Death control (DC) became possible, and DC population surges
      occurred in Europe and North America.

      41 Carrying capacity - before 1750, England could support no more than five
      million. Life was hard at carrying capacity - the food production system
      was maxed out, and people died when production faltered (i.e., droughts,
      blights, etc.). The Black Death cut pop by 50%, so marginal lands could be
      taken out of production, and life was less of a struggle for the survivors.
      With technological improvements, carrying capacity increased. But this was
      gradual, and pop generally grew by 1% per year. In primitive areas, when
      civilization fell out of the sky, and decades of improvements were
      implemented all at once, this lead to large DC population explosions - up to
      5% per year. In 1700, the amount of land that could support ten people
      could support 50 people by 1900. Also, the export of manufactured goods
      generated cash that could be used to buy foods from other lands. When
      unlimited food could be imported, then carrying capacity was almost

      42 Current population levels cannot be sustained over the coming decades
      because of wars, diseases, climate change, and the disappearance of foreign
      food to import (or foreign aid). In fact, population is likely to drop
      drastically. 43 We now live in an era of WROG (Weak Restraints on Growth),
      which has been the general norm for the last 250 years. There are signs
      that the WROG era is nearing its end. The VCL (Violent Cutback Level) is
      achieved when growth is no longer possible, because of violence - including
      genocide (like Rwanda). 44 Following the arrival of the Industrial
      Revolution, many countries experienced DC-generated population growth -
      large quantities of extra food became available, which reduced starvation as
      a death control.

      45 This period of WROG is an historical anomaly. But, since 1970, a number
      of populations have hit VCL levels. This encourages nations to compete
      violently for access to resources. The people of today falsely assume that
      WROG is the norm. It is not. We are not well prepared to deal with the
      coming years. When VCL strikes, it is futile for governments to intervene
      (as in Kosovo in 1999). 46 The population had exceeded the VCL, and
      reduction was the only solution. Homogenous populations have a high VCL,
      whilst multi-cultural populations have a lower one (where factions compete
      for resources). When religious or ethnic diversity is introduced, a stable
      population can suddenly hit its VCL (which has been reduced by the increased
      diversity). Once groups begin struggling against each other, the problem
      becomes hard to fix (like Ireland and Northern Ireland).

      47 The only painless way to reduce population pressure is to have fewer
      babies - but this is a slow-acting remedy. We attempt to smooth over
      conflicts via multiculturalism - use education to blend the minorities into
      the herd. But this is unrealistic. 48 Prior to 1750, DC was rarely an
      option. Premature death could result from a number of sources - disease,
      war, starvation, etc. After 1750 many regions suffered from DC population
      surges - people lived longer, and more children survived to adulthood. Food
      production increased, and disease control improved. Surges began in North
      America and Europe, then spread to other regions. It would have been
      infinitely better if birth control had been available - and used - so that
      death control could have been balanced by birth control. 49 Instead,
      population growth kept pace with increasing food production. We pursued a
      course for a large population with a low standard of living, rather than the

      Another phenomenon was aggressive breeding, or competitive breeding. When
      there are two groups in a country, and one is breeding at a high rate, the
      heavy breeders will eventually become the majority, and take control of the
      country. 50 Palestinians are outbreeding the Israelis, with a goal of
      recovering control of their homeland. Racial hatred is intense, and the
      population density is already well beyond the VCL. 51 In Kosovo, Albanian
      Muslims are out-breeding Serbs. Catholics are beating Protestants in
      Northern Ireland. 52 Hispanics are growing quickly in the US. 53
      Competitive breeding is sure to lead to trouble.

      Between 1750 and 2000 was an era of Weak Restraints on Growth (WROG). Old
      limits on growth - a limited food supply, disease, etc. - weakened.
      Populations could grow rapidly without taking resources from other groups.
      Some places experienced extended peace. Punishments for crimes were
      softened. Charities became more generous. Slavery was abolished. 54 Now,
      people believe WROG to be the normal mode for life. Populations can grow
      very rapidly, but they can't shrink rapidly - humanely - because humans have
      long lifespans. Conditions that lead to population growth (tolerance and
      love) are politically correct, whilst the conditions caused by
      overpopulation (violence and conflict) are not. Once a population exceeds
      the VCL, conflict is inevitable.

      57 AIDS is likely to kill more people in less time than the Black Death. In
      2000, 58 million were infected, and 22 million had died. The infection rate
      appears to be increasing exponentially. If true, AIDS may begin to actually
      shrink the human population by 2020. 60 If Americans can't even get
      interested in fighting climate change, then hoping for population reduction
      is silly.

      61 From 1950 to 1960, Brazil added 19 million, an average increase of 3.5%
      per year. From 1960 to 1970, Brazil added even more - 25 million - but the
      average increase was only 1.7% per year (because the starting population was
      higher). Some journalists use these percentages to mislead the public into
      thinking that the rate of population growth is declining, and that this is
      an indication of improvement. This is also done with the Total Fertility
      Rate (TFR), which is the number of children per woman. If there are more
      women having children, then the population can rise while the TFR is

      62 Demographic Transition Theory - created by Adolphe Landry in 1934.
      Premise is that as people become more prosperous, they will have less
      children. Thus, population growth is not a serious problem. All we need to
      do is to end poverty. In the developing world, ever-growing aid has not
      kept pace with poverty. The truth is that population control must precede
      poverty reduction. 63 Also, war increases poverty - the less war, the
      better. 64 So, the theory works best in nations that are already prosperous
      (except that positive gains tend to be neutralized by immigration) (and the
      immigrants are coming to pursue a vastly more destructive lifestyle). In
      Eastern Europe, the theory is wrong - poverty is growing whilst population
      is falling. On a world scale, the effects of the theory have been
      devastating - for 60 years, we've concentrated on aid, not birth control.
      Wrong plan!

      Sustainable development is an oxymoron. 65 Development is not benign to the
      coming generations. And, the current scene is wildy unsustainable at
      present. So, further development simply worsens things. 66 Nothing is
      being intelligently conserved. 67 "Sustainable development is not just a
      farce, for most of the world's people it's a cruel farce."

      Maximum Population. Future population growth is projected as if the status
      quo will continue in its present form for many decades. Populations leaped
      in the last 250 years because of Death Control. But, DC has its limits. 68
      Climate change, disease, war could radically increase the death rate.
      Stanton expects pop to peak at 7 or 8 billion around 2020, followed by a
      steep decline.

      More is Better - Growth is Good. Growth increases wealth and power. 69
      Rising pop boosts the economy. But, in terms of pop, more is not better.
      In developing countries, pop is growing faster than economy, so each piece
      of the pie gets smaller - poverty increases. In developed world, economy
      grows faster than pop, which attracts immigrants. In long term, developed
      nations are at risk when economy slows, because the VCL level is lowered -
      and most are overcrowded today. 70 While the pop continues to grow, the
      supply of conventional energy is at peak, and will begin to decline.

      71 Human Rights. In 1750, it made little sense to donate money to feed
      large numbers of the poor, because the food needed to feed them could not be
      bought. Everything was being eaten, the pop was maxed out. Starvation kept
      the population from exceeding the carrying capacity. There was a high birth
      rate, but little pop growth, because of high mortality. 72 To proclaim that
      the poor had rights, and deserved to have their lives prolonged at any price
      was absurd - because it was not possible. The extra food did not exist.
      The rich could keep their kids fed, but the poorest people were expected to
      starve during bad years. Their lives were cheap. But with the arrival of
      the Industrial Revolution, the WROG era began. Surplus food made it
      possible to feed the starving. The Death Control pop surge began. After
      WWII, Christian groups began to call for an end to capital punishment and

      73 Other religions have tended to tolerate infanticide. Human life became
      sacred. The UN adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When the
      WROG era ends, then the notion of universal human rights will again become
      absurd. Compassion is a luxury that is enjoyed by the prosperous. 74
      Rights conflict - the right to reproductive freedom (large families) vs. the
      right to a healthy environment. If you claim rights from society, then you
      must also accept responsibilities. 76 Within a few decades, as the WROG era
      ends, and more places reach their VCL, the average human will have no more
      rights than a cow.

      Imperfections of Democracy. 77 One way for minorities to seize power in a
      nation is to have a lot of babies over the course of a few generations. In
      South Africa, the slow-breeding white minority was outbred by the black
      majority, and they fell from power. Arabs could outnumber Israelis in
      Israel by 2024, because they are breeding twice as fast. The region is
      already over-crowded. Big trouble ahead. 78 In the developing world,
      nations can't afford to feed lots of babies, even though they are being
      born. But developed nations can - and the poor are immigrating to them.
      Human rights advocates celebrate multiculturalism, a holy concept that
      cannot be criticized - except by deranged and irrational racists. 79 Before
      1950, Britain was almost pure white, so there was very little racism. After
      1950, there was large scale immigration. By 2001, 9% were non-white. 80
      London was 27% non-white in 2002. Racial conflict grew.

      81 Orthodox Jews, fundamentalist Christians, and Muslims tend to be zealous,
      un-self critical, unquestioning. Mainstream Christianity has mellowed a bit
      in the last 500 years - science has inspired doubt & questioning. 83
      Religion unites and divides humankind. Each faith sees itself as the One
      True Path, heretics be damned. 86 For most humans now, resources are in
      very short supply, 87 exploiters are everywhere, and so are tyrants, racist
      assholes, and rip-offs. Struggle is inevitable when there are too many
      people - and denying this truth is folly - but politically correct. When
      immigration is light and sporadic, the immigrants can assimilate into the
      dominant culture. Jews and Gypsies have had a rough time, because they
      avoid assimilation. 88 Growing minority populations in the UK are
      assimilating more slowly. There are Jihad training camps near Gatwick
      Airport. 89 In many nations, increased diversity coincides with increased
      social conflict.

      91 In 10,000 BC, there were four million - possibly twice as many as in
      100,000 BC. Like mold on a rotting orange, which grows and spreads,
      humankind is completing its rape of the Earth. With exploding pop, natural
      systems fail - the ozone layer, climate change, etc. 93 Conspicuously
      absent from the carbon dioxide discussion is the subject of population -
      which is a primary cause of most environmental damage. 94 Today, at six
      billion, two billion live in poverty, with no hope for improvement. Since
      we have depleted so many resources, a sustainable population is maybe around
      500 million, with no poverty. 95 The solution to the greenhouse effect is
      massive depopulation, not a painless path, and it may be too late.
      Desertification and soil erosion are the trademarks of agricultural
      civilization. 96 Oceanic fisheries are being pounded. 98 Some fear that
      the Gulf Stream circulation of currents may cease, which could make Europe a
      cool place. 100 Aquifers are being depleted. There is as much fresh water
      as ever, but more people means each person's share is less.

      102 Population density in England is quite high. Two-thirds of food in
      England is imported. Over-crowded countries are extremely vulnerable - like
      Ireland & the spud famine. 107-111 There is a trend for regions to band
      together into larger nations, but there is a bigger trend for larger nations
      to break apart into smaller, less multicultural nations.

      112 The Micawberish Rule is named after a Dickens' character. When the
      economy grows faster than the pop, the result is wealth. In most of the
      world, pop is growing faster than the economy, the result is poverty.
      Developed nations confronting large scale immigration are in a no-win
      situation. 113 If they open the gates wide, they will quickly become
      impoverished. But stopping the inflow (sealing off borders) is expensive.
      114 The number of actual immigrants is far smaller than the number of people
      who want to immigrate to wealthier regions. 116 Western Europe is growing
      by a million per year, mostly from immigration. If this continues, European
      national identities could be erased. Slow-breeding natives are being
      outbred and replaced by high-breeding immigrants.

      The sooner Europe's borders are closed, the better. Current immigration
      trends cannot continue. This would force poor countries to confront the
      fact that their poverty is self-generated by overbreeding. There is nothing
      immoral about Draconian birth control, like the Chinese use. The
      alternative to intense birth control is the intense social misery that
      always comes with over-crowding.

      Leaders have a tendency to set unreal goals - reduce poverty by 50% in 15
      years, stop genocide, end racism. 117 We set wonderful goals, but then do
      nothing to address the engine of the problems - overpopulation - which makes
      the grand ideals meaningless. When the West gives money to poor places with
      no strings attached (birth control), the recipients don't get richer - they
      have more children and remain poor. 118 Ethiopia has a high birth rate that
      assures perpetual poverty, and no amount of food aid will solve this.
      Humanitarian aid is self-defeating. Almost no charities address family
      planning and birth control.

      119 Many prayers are offered for world peace. But if they really want world
      peace, they need to be praying for successful family planning (which is
      heresy to Catholics). 120 Vegetarians say that if we quit eating meat, then
      12 billion people could survive on a diet of grain and beans. Joy! 122
      Huge sums of money are spent searching for life on other planets. 123
      Growth causes great strain to government leaders - if the pop rises 50%, the
      difficulty of managing the herd increases by far more than 50%. Societies
      become so complex that support systems begin to fail. Citizens are reduced
      to ID numbers. 124 More crowding, crime, poverty, helplessness. 125
      Do-gooder organizations consistently ignore the problem of population,
      despite the fact that population growth so obviously brings with it a myriad
      of negative effects.

      126 Environmentalists oppose new roads, because they generate more traffic.
      But so does pop growth, but this isn't addressed. 127 Pop growth is often
      associated with immigration, and discussing it drifts close to the realm of
      racism. Political correctness has silenced most discussion of population
      control and family planning, which could truly give the masses a method for
      bettering their lives. PC pretends to be the moral high ground, but it's
      not. 128 The business world ignores pop, because more consumers are better
      for business. Environmental groups are notorious for ignoring pop issues.
      129 Ignoring the problem of pop growth is unbelievably negligent. And, if
      you are obsessed with being PC, the chances are that you are contributing to
      such an end. To PC zealots, rights matter more than consequences.
      Fundamentalists are intolerant of independent, objective thinkers. Pop
      control is anathema to PC - a woman should be free to have as many babies as
      she wants. But the PC do not lend a hand when she wants to have fewer

      131 Globalization and multiculturalism are similar. Globalization implies
      the spread of uniformity. Multiculturalism is about the spread of diversity
      into previously homogenous cultures. If both succeed, we'd have bland
      global sameness. 132 When animal rights activists in the UK freed caged
      minks, the minks thrived in the wild, and drove away the indigenous small
      predators. There are many stories of bad stuff happening when
      non-indigenous species are introduced to distant lands. Before long, the
      world's 6,800 languages are likely to be reduced to three or four.

      133 Multiculturalism envisions different cultures living together happily.
      In the good old days, people were tribal, and everyone had an ancient home -
      Britain was the home of the Britons. 134 When more than one culture
      inhabited the same land, stress was common (and so was ethnic
      extermination). Often, this was a scenario of conqueror and conquered.
      Slavery was also common. In earlier days, Western powers sent settlers to
      newly conquered lands. Since WWII, the flow has reversed, and people from
      conquered lands are immigrating to Western nations - and this process gave
      birth to the modern notion of multiculturalism.

      135 This was linked to political correctness. People who protested the
      assault of immigration on their ancient indigenous cultures were slammed by
      the PC folks. Later, race riots spread across the UK. The old-fashioned
      notion of national self-preservation was abandoned by the PC zealots, in
      favor of multiculturalism - the growth of minorities, even in urban ghettos,
      was seen to be good. PC people believe that their values are universal, and
      that they are right. Any opposing views are wrong. PC is like a modern
      religion - an update of Christianity. PC originated as a response to the
      racism and exploitation that came with immigration. PC is a faith - a blind
      faith - that disregards the effects of population growth.

      136 In the developing world, there is little interest in multiculturalism.
      The indigenous natives exhibit no fondness for the colonial invaders, nor
      the artificial multicultural nations that they created. 137 Israel is the
      poster child for bloody multiculturalism. Or Northern Ireland. Or
      Afghanistan. Or Iraq. Muslim nations have low tolerance for the existence
      of other cultures. And, Sunni and Shiite Muslims can't get along, either.
      Muslims feel like the oppressed, who must fight against their oppressors.
      138 They don't grasp that their poverty and weakness is linked to their high
      birth rate. 139 The PC multiculturalists are sowing the seeds of their own

      As we approach the end of the WROG era, chaos is coming. 140 Oil production
      is about to peak. 141 The end of the era of cheap energy will devastate
      agriculture. Carrying capacities will plummet. Rivals will fight for a
      diminishing food supply. VCLs will fall. 143 Diversity between regions
      will recover and grow (i.e., localities will become more homogenous, less
      multicultural). Hopefully, the coming chaos should teach us that growth
      must be outlawed - pop control must become an everyday necessity.

      145 Sentimentality is elevating feelings above reason and reality - choosing
      not to think about aspects of life that are not "nice." They dismiss
      realists who warn of serious problems ahead. Doomers are not nice. There
      is an old tradition of punishing wrongdoers. In the 20th century West,
      sentimentality inspired softer punishment. 146 It was possible that those
      who did great evil could repent, learn, reform, and become respectable
      members of society once again. Corporal punishment (like whipping) was
      outlawed for being inhumane. Despite a kinder and gentler justice system,
      plenty of crime remains. 147 In the 1960's came permissiveness - more
      drugs, legal abortions, easy divorces, sexual freedom. Sentimentality will
      pass with the end of the WROG period, when life becomes cheaper again.

      148 The media forecast a blissful future for humankind. We will enjoy
      countless technological miracles. 149 But most humans will remain poor.
      151 Charities feed the hungry and treat the sick, but they fail to address
      overpopulation - the mother of all problems. 152 Saving lives in the short
      term is really cool, but taking action on overpopulation is not politically
      correct. Although citizens in the developed world have access to the
      internet, which provides astounding quantities of diverse information,
      people continue to remain poorly informed. 153 If the myth was true - that
      we are the best informed generation in human history - then we'd understand
      very well the horrors of overpopulation. Environmentalists would not waste
      their time advocating trivial issues like recycling. It would be commonly
      understood that overpopulation was the most serious problem confronting

      164-167 The Green Revolution led to an increase in food production, which
      led to an explosion in population. Genetic engineering promises to further
      this cycle. The technology enables us to feed more people. Starvation is
      postponed, but will hit harder when it comes. The best way to alleviate
      starvation is great birth control. 169 It is very important for overcrowded
      countries to know when and how to stop immigration. Immigrant smuggling has
      become a major industry. 171 Political correctness has inhibited the
      enforcement of existing immigration laws. To speak out against illegal
      immigration would lead to accusations of racism. To advocate unlimited
      immigration was politically correct. The influx of immigrants from poor
      nations with high birth rates is never going to end until overcrowded
      developed countries say Stop! The longer they wait, the worse the

      173 The Future. Some scenarios may curb human pop on a planetary level.
      175 There is every reason to believe that as oil production declines,
      alternative fuels will not step in and replace it. 177 Population reduction
      will begin when the foreign aid dries up. 179 Overcrowded urbanized
      populations will be vulnerable to catastrophe. Most recent and ongoing wars
      are civil wars in multicultural nations, where rival groups are in conflict.
      181 In Muslim countries, it is politically correct to wish for a Muslim
      culture worldwide, with no other cultures. Muslim beliefs must be pushed on
      others, by force, if needed. Because of their high birth rates, many are
      emigrating to other nations. 183 Climate change could turn out to be the
      ultimate disaster. 185 When the WROG period ends, carrying capacity will
      fall sharply. For the first time ever, the human race will face the
      necessity of massive shrinkage.

      191 The era of high personal mobility will end. People will live close to
      work. Imports will dry up, and nations will have to feed themselves.
      Farmers will get priority access to energy. The standard of living will
      need to get much simpler. 193 Political correctness will expire, and be
      replaced with no-holds-barred Darwinism. Sympathy for underdogs will end.
      Society will be harsh to criminals, and the death penalty will come back
      into fashion. Limits on family size will be enforced. Euthanasia,
      abortion, and infanticide will be legalized and encouraged. Minority groups
      will be attacked by the majority. With time, cultures will become
      homogenized again. 195 Borders will be vigorously sealed off. Famines will
      not be followed by foreign aid. Russia and the US have low population
      density, and significant energy reserves - they may do better than other
      nations. By 2050, 90% of the recoverable oil will be gone. 201 By 2050,
      the WROG period will have ended for most nations.

      203 Smart nations will encourage family planning, end immigration, and
      actively restrict growth. By 2050, there won't be much left of virgin
      forests or natural habitats. By the late 21st century, the world may have
      some resemblance to 1750. 205 The 21st century will see pop peak at 7 to 8
      billion, then catastrophically fall to one billion. 207 After that, a
      utopian world becomes possible.

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