By Terry Morrone
I’ve heard that the population is growing at only about 1 per cent a year. That’s great news. It used to grow at 2 percent a year. I’ve also heard that sustainable growth is great. If the economy doesn’t grow it’s a disgrace, time for regime change.
I think about future generations a lot, at least once a year when I’m not doing something important, like walking my dog. How long do you think it would take at one percent a year growth rate for the number of people to equal the number of square feet on the earth? Imagine each person is entitled to one square foot. I dusted off my scientific calculator and found that it would take about 1500 years. We’ll you might say, we’ll live in high rises and grow food in flower pots. But in about 2800 years the volume people will equal the volume of the earth. The problem is, that at a one percent growth rate, the population doubles every 69.3 years. Isn’t exponential growth wonderful.
So the population has to stop growing sooner or later. Also the number of cars has to stop growing, as well as the number of airplanes, bicycles, cats, dogs, etc.
No problem. In some European countries the population indeed has stopped growing, without any government controls. It seems that all they did was to give people a safety net and allow women to have careers. That’s the dull way to stop population growth. It’s more exciting to make it a crime to have more than one kid, or to have wars, famines, and plagues.
But why worry about an impossibly large number of people? Long before that happens we’ll run out of parking spots, water, farmland and oil and stuff like that. Corporate farming is unsustainable. I read that the US is now a net importer of food. So what, we’ll just print up more T Bills and buy food. But T Bills are always accepted because they’re backed up by H bombs. Pretty soon every country will be a net importer of food.
Jared Diamond in his book “Collapse” tells about societies that have survived and others that have died out. The Easter Islanders chopped down all their trees to make ramps for sliding giant statues away from a quarry. The trouble was that they needed the wood to make fishing boats. When all the trees were gone, the soil eroded so they couldn’t grow food , and they couldn’t go fishing. So they all died.
But we’re much smarter than illiterate Polynesians. Look how intelligently we’re handling global warming and the financial crisis. Our government has found a sure fire way to handle all crises: just give tax cuts to the rich and bail them out when they get into trouble.
Some people are upset, but you have to trust somebody. The alternative takes up too much time. When I go to see a doctor, I automatically trust him because he’s dressed better than I am. My mother taught me that appearance is very important. Applying this profound principle, we should trust our politicians and corporate leaders. Look what nice suits they wear. Look how well they speak. And all went to great colleges. They have advisors that have professional degrees and years of success in their professions. They’re experts. Could they be wrong?
Then look at the people who cruelly criticize them. They don’t wear suits. Their pants are not pressed. They don’t shave very often. They’re a mess.
So trust, trust, trust. Sooner or later our leaders will straighten everything out. The world will take care of itself without your help.