Monday, January 14, 2019

Population Management Debate Gets Heated


Debate over how to manage population to fight the DIE threat grew contentious over the weekend as it became clear that rich nations could not rely on their wealth to keep birth rates low. They would need to limit the urge to increase births as they simultaneously reduce per-capita consumption of ecological resources. Meanwhile, poor nations would struggle with reducing births without an attendant increase in standard of living.

Ambassador Lazlo explained that the underlying issue is that the fraction of basic resources being consumed by a population tends to biologically and psychologically govern both birth rates and aging, and the changes required to improve human survivability currently run counter to those tendencies because the fraction is critically large. 

“This is exacerbated by regional variation,” she said, “where relatively isolated groups or countries may already be experiencing the leading edge of a population crash because they have fewer resources available locally. There will be a lot of pressure to seize others’ resources without granting access to the original owners, especially if those owners are poorer with higher birth rates that threaten to overwhelm the older, less fertile natives. Since everyone is better served by averaging out the birth rates and consumption, that pressure must be resisted and all resources shared, with general discipline to set aside an amount that can help keep the entire system healthy.”

Reality Check

The descriptions of population and consumption follow from the historical dynamics incorporated in the simulation. Lazlo’s attribution of birth rates and aging to biological and psychological mechanisms is based on hypothetical causation that might explain an observed strong correlation between them and the basic resources ratio.

Recent research suggests that the United States and other countries pursuing isolation policies could be on the leading edge of the crash, or moving faster toward it, in the way discussed by Lazlo.

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