Julian Simon on Overpopulation
Julian Lincoln Simon (1932-1998) was a Professor of Business Administration at the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.
Erroneous belief about population growth has cost dearly. In poor countries, it has directed attention away from the factor that we now know is central in a country’s economic development, its economic and political system. And in rich countries, misdirected attention to population growth and its supposed consequence of natural-resource shortages has caused waste through such programs as now-abandoned synthetic fuel programs, and the useless development of airplanes that would be appropriate for an age of greater scarcity.
— Scarcity or Abundance? A Debate on the Environment
Adding more people causes problems, but people are also the means to solve these problems. The main fuel to speed our progress is our stock of knowledge, and the brake is our lack of imagination. The ultimate resource is people – skilled, spirited, and hopeful people who will exert their wills and imaginations for their own benefit, and inevitably they will benefit not only themselves but the rest of us as well.
— The Ultimate Resource
Paul R. Ehrlich on Overpopulation
Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich is Stanford Professor of Population Studies and author of The Population Explosion (1990).
o THE POPULATION EXPLOSION (1990)
Overdrafts on aquifers are one reason some of our geologist colleagues are convinced that water shortages will bring the human population explosion to a halt. There are substitutes for oil; there is no substitute for fresh water.
The key to understanding overpopulation is not population density but the numbers of people in an area relative to its resources and the capacity of the environment to sustain human activities; that is, to the area’s carrying capacity. When is an area overpopulated? When its population can’t be maintained without rapidly depleting nonrenewable resources…. By this standard, the entire planet and virtually every nation is already vastly overpopulated.
o Paul Ehrlich, in public discussion with Bill McKibben, author of THE END OF NATURE, in KQED Radio City Arts and Lectures Broadcast, San Francisco 1996
A series of things have come up since then that have made the problem incredibly grimmer…. The ozone hole… acid rain…. Three hundred million people have starved to death since THE POPULATION BOMB was written. The famines weren’t as large as agriculturists thought they would be… due to the spread of… Green Revolution technology into the poor countries…. What makes us nervous right now is that we’re faced with again having to do something desperate to increase our food production greatly…. In 1965 we knew exactly how to do it, the question was could we deploy it fast enough—Today we have nothing left to deploy—that’s very scary…. As a species we’re not able to live on our income; we’re living on our capital, our deep rich agricultural soils are being destroyed, water is being overpumped, and our biodiversity, our life support system—we’re already far beyond what we can support.
o PAUL EHRLICH AND THE POPULATION BOMB, PBS video produced by Canadian biologist Dr. David Suzuki
The idea that we can just keep growing forever on a finite planet is totally imbecilic…. Simon, a professor of junkmail marketing, and his kind, think technology will solve everything…. We can use up the Earth then we can just jump into spaceships and fly somewhere else…. Technology does nothing to solve problems of biodiversity or living space or arable cropland…. Fresh water and arable cropland are finite nonrenewable resources…. We are already far beyond what we can support sustainably…. The provincial view you get from someone living in some wealthy American East Coast city is wildly different from reality. Most of the world is tropical, hungry and poor. Visit the developing world and southern hemisphere and you get a very different view of reality.
Solving the population problem is not going to solve the problems of racism… of sexism… of religious intolerance… of war… of gross economic inequality—But if you don’t solve the population problem, you’re not going to solve any of those problems. Whatever problem you’re interested in, you’re not going to solve it unless you also solve the population problem. Whatever your cause, it’s a lost cause without population control.
It is not a question of the human population outstripping resources, since food production continues to exceed population growth and non-renewable resources become more plentiful each year as new sources are found.
o Jim Peron, published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, “Overpopulation Myths”
In fact, people do live in crowded conditions, and always have. We cluster together in cities and villages in order to exchange goods and services with one another. But while we crowd together for economic reasons in our great metropolitan areas, most of the world is empty, as we can see when we fly over it. It has been estimated by Paul Ehrlich and others that human beings actually occupy no more than 1 to 3 percent of the earth’s land surface.
o Jacqueline R. Kasun, “Too Many People?”
There are now 6 billion people on Earth. The planet’s population will most likely continue to climb until 2050, when it will peak at 9 billion. Other predictions have the world’s population peaking at 7.5 billion in 2040. In either case, it will then go into a sharp decline. The world may soon be facing an under-population crisis — a prospect that has all but escaped media scrutiny.
o Anthony C. LoBaido, “The overpopulation lie”
Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.
o Isaac Asimov
I am convinced that some political and social activities and practices of the Catholic organizations are detrimental and even dangerous for the community as a whole, here and everywhere. I mention here only the fight against birth control at a time when overpopulation in various countries has become a serious threat to the health of people and a grave obstacle to any attempt to organize peace on this planet.
o Albert Einstein, letter, 1954
If government knew how, I should like to see it check, not multiply the population.
o Ralph Waldo Emerson
Population growth is the primary source of environmental damage.
o Jacques Cousteau
Short of nuclear war itself, population growth is the gravest issue the world faces. If we do not act, the problem will be solved by famine, riots, insurrection and war.
o Robert McNamara, Former World Bank President
The leadership are fooling themselves. Overpopulation is a very serious problem, and over immigration is a big part of it. We must address both. We can’t ignore either.
o David Brower
Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess. What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims.
o Martin Luther King, Jr., May 5, 1966
The greatest form of contraception is development.
o Mahatma Gandhi
Overpopulation is one of the greatest threats to human nature
o Joe Rogan
In the last 200 years the population of our planet has grown exponentially, at a rate of 1.9% per year. If it continued at this rate, with the population doubling every 40 years, by 2600 we would all be standing literally shoulder to shoulder.
o Stephen Hawking