Earth Now Has 8 Billion Humans. Les Knight Wishes There Were None. – The New York Times

Buckley interviewed Mr. Knight in Portland and was surprised to find him curiously uplifting.

PORTLAND, Ore. — For someone who wants his own species to go extinct, Les Knight is a remarkably happy-go-lucky human.

“He has regularly hosted meteor shower parties with rooftop fireworks. He organized a long-running game of nude croquet in his backyard, which, it should be mentioned, is ringed by 20-foot-tall laurel hedges. Even Tucker Carlson proved no match for Mr. Knight’s ebullience. During a 2005 interview with Mr. Knight on MSNBC, Mr. Carlson criticized him for espousing “the sickest” of beliefs but then added, “You are one of the cheeriest guests we’ve ever had.”

Mr. Knight, 75, is the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction movement, which is less a movement than a loose consortium of people who believe that the best thing humans can do to help the Earth is to stop having children.

Mr. Knight added the word “voluntary” decades ago to make it clear that adherents do not support mass murder or forced birth control, nor do they encourage suicide. Their ethos is echoed in their motto, “May we live long and die out,” and in another one of their slogans, which Mr. Knight hangs at various conventions and street fairs: “Thank you for not breeding.”

David Lindsay: I wrote a comment to the following comment:

Seriphussr
United States Of The Socialist Republic1h ago

“. . . . This is a good idea. I have four adult children. None of them have kids. The oldest two (40-ish) have decide not to have kids. The youngest two (early 20s) are still trying to figure out what it means to be an adult. While my wife and I would love to have grandchildren, I tend to agree with Mr. Knight. It’s time to start depopulating this planet. I don’t think we should ALL stop having children at once, but limit it to two or less. Not as a government mandate, but voluntarily. It took a long time to get to 8 billion. We’ve built civilizations on the idea of perpetual population growth. If everyone just stopped having children, civilizations would collapse. That would be awful for the survivors. But if we ramped down over centuries, we could eventually get down to a reasonable population. I’m not sure what amount is reasonable, but maybe something under a billion would be a good start.” . . . .

Reply:

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT   NYT Reply 

@Seriphussr Good comment, good thoughts. We went from 2 billion to 8 billion since about 1930, just 92 years. That is fast, since it took us 200,000 years to get to 1 billion. It took us about 300 years to get to 2 billion. I read that several scientists have agreed that the possible limit of humans on the planet for sustainablily and biodiversity might be 4 billion. My source might be Edward O Wilson or Elizabet Kolbert. EO Wilson calls us to set aside half the earths real estate for non human species to live in, and he co-founded the Half-Earth Foundation to promote this idea, as well as writing it up in his book Half Earth. \

David blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Reply7 Recommended

Somalia Braces for Famine, Trapped Between Al Shabab and Drought – The New York Times

Chief Africa correspondent Declan Walsh and photographer Andrea Bruce reported this article from Baidoa, Somalia, a city threatened by militants.

“The sea of rag-and-stick tents that spreads in every direction from the hungry, embattled city of Baidoa, in southern Somalia, gives way to sprawling plains controlled by the militants of Al Shabab.

Over 165,000 refugees have streamed into Baidoa since early last year, fleeing the ravages of Somalia’s fiercest drought in 40 years. Among them was Maryam, a 2-year-old girl whose family had lost everything.

The drought withered their crops, starved their animals and transformed their modest farm into a howling dust bowl. They endured a five-day trek to Baidoa, braving Islamist check posts, hoping to reach safety.

But one recent afternoon Maryam, weak from hunger and sickness, began to cough and vomit. Her mother, cradling Maryam in her arms, called for help.”

Somalia is on our minds. We watched a PBS NewsHour a few nights ago, and they showed an emaciated infant in somalia, looking far more dead than alive. We are tough old birds, but this was almost more than we could stomach. It definitely infringed on dinner. This article is more gentle, there are no such pictures. But Somalia is on our minds. Here are the top comments, which I endorsed:

Peter Johnson
London

Extreme weather is not the whole story for Somalia’s food shortages. The population has more than quadrupeled in the last fifty years (from 3.48 million to 16.6 million), and agricultural productivity cannot keep up.

4 Replies50 Recommended

joe
St Louis

Starvation in Africa was a staple of late night TV solicitations back when I was growing up in the 70’s. 50 years later nothing has changed. Tribal warfare, a population that can’t feed itself, and not using birth control are not going to be made any better by charity. If people want change than something fundamental needs to change.

Reply34 Recommended

Silas Campbell
Paris, Kentucky

Completely omitted from this article is the fact that the number of people in Somalia has grown from about 2 million in 1950 to about 17 million now, i.e. there are over 8 times as many Somalis as in 1950. Could it possibly be that this exponential rise in the number of people needing resources has anything to do with the famine ?

Reply28 Recommended

mushmouth
Jacksonville

what these poor people need is systematic and free birth control. and then classes on how to use it. why would you bring children into a famine situation?

Reply27 Recommended

A Wave of the Hand Sets Off Spain-Morocco Migrant Fight – The New York Times

Nicholas Casey and 

“CEUTA, Spain — Daouda Faye, a 25-year-old migrant from Senegal, was elated when he heard that Moroccan border guards had suddenly started waving in undocumented migrants across the border to Ceuta, a fenced-off Spanish enclave on the North African coast.

“‘Come on in, boys,’” the guards told him and others as they reached the border on May 17, Mr. Faye said.

And in they went — by the thousands.

Normally, Morocco tightly controls the fenced borders around Ceuta, a six-mile-long peninsula on Morocco’s northern coast that Spain has governed since the 1600s. But now its military was allowing migrants into this toehold of Europe. Over the next two days, as many as 12,000 people flowed over the border to Ceuta in hopes of reaching mainland Spain, engulfing the city of 80,000.   . . . “

David Lindsay: Here is a comment a strongly recommended.

WWill. NYCNYC 1h ago

This world is so overpopulated by humans we are on the edge of disaster. If Europe doesn’t very quickly help Africa get is human population growth under control no army in the world will keep back the waves of immigrants. There are literally billions waiting to come and no fence is high enough or strong enough. Of course this will all spark dangerous right wing populism across the European continent. There are way too many humans on this planet. Way, way too many humans fighting over fewer and fewer resources. And climate change will exacerbate the trend to ever more migration and violence. Governments in Africa, the Middle East and Central America often see excess human population as a bargaining chip with the rest of the world: Excess human population is being weaponized. We need to get very serious about population control right now. In a few years it will be too late. And we need to set strict limits on immigration. Right now emigration is used as a safety valve for overpopulated countries that will eventually destabilize the receiver nations. (See Europe 2015, and that was NOTHING compared what’s to come!)

24 Recommended

Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications – The New York Times

“All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore.

Maternity wards are already shutting down in Italy. Ghost cities are appearing in northeastern China. Universities in South Korea can’t find enough students, and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of properties have been razed, with the land turned into parks.

Like an avalanche, the demographic forces — pushing toward more deaths than births — seem to be expanding and accelerating. Though some countries continue to see their populations grow, especially in Africa, fertility rates are falling nearly everywhere else. Demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time.  . . . “

David Lindsay: Whoa, this is a really bad report. Population growth as a requirement is so 19th century. Luckily, I’m no longer the only commentor here at the Times tooting the overpopulation horn. Here are two of the top comments, I recommended:

DDavid O. HillMemphis, TennesseeMay 23

These scary stories about the world collapsing due to a decrease in births come from demographers who seem to know little about global ecology. The 7.4 billion people alive today have put unsustainable pressures on the atmosphere (climate change), the oceans (where fisheries are collapsing and coral reefs are dying), species extinctions everywhere, forests (just look at current lumber prices), garbage disposal (think of the masses of plastic in the oceans), etc., etc. The truth is that a greatly reduced human population is our last best hope for the survival of civilization as we know it.

41 Replies 2511 RecommendedShareFlag

Buster Dee commented May 23 BBuster DeeJamal, CaliforniaMay 23

I see an opportunity. A world of rising population is a world of increasing environmental challenges and devalued workers. Flat or declining populations gives technology a chance to better deal with our pollution and CO2 concerns. It gives the ocean’s a better chance to restock. It means that young workers will have less competition for work. The problem of course is the loss of the ever growing base of the pyramid upon which our economies are grown. It is not necessarily insurmountable. It does mean a reimagining beyond the capabilities of our current political parties. I say bring it on.

22 Replies 1786 Recommended

Long Slide Looms for World Population, With Sweeping Ramifications – The New York Times

“All over the world, countries are confronting population stagnation and a fertility bust, a dizzying reversal unmatched in recorded history that will make first-birthday parties a rarer sight than funerals, and empty homes a common eyesore.

Maternity wards are already shutting down in Italy. Ghost cities are appearing in northeastern China. Universities in South Korea can’t find enough students, and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of properties have been razed, with the land turned into parks.

Like an avalanche, the demographic forces — pushing toward more deaths than births — seem to be expanding and accelerating. Though some countries continue to see their populations grow, especially in Africa, fertility rates are falling nearly everywhere else. Demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time.”  . . .

This piece is so off base as to be disturbing. I found two excellent comments, that do well to summarize my deeply felt rejection to need for more humans.

This is also the most recommended comment:

David O. Hill
Memphis, Tennessee May 23

These scary stories about the world collapsing due to a decrease in births come from demographers who seem to know little about global ecology. The 7.4 billion people alive today have put unsustainable pressures on the atmosphere (climate change), the oceans (where fisheries are collapsing and coral reefs are dying), species extinctions everywhere, forests (just look at current lumber prices), garbage disposal (think of the masses of plastic in the oceans), etc., etc. The truth is that a greatly reduced human population is our last best hope for the survival of civilization as we know it.

41 Replies2318 Recommended

BbinturongBCMay 23

Where to begin? The tone of this article and its selective data are slanted to make population decline sound like a disaster when in fact it is necessary to the future of a habitable planet. The economic models predicated on the need for continual growth (impossible in a finite world) are outmoded — holdovers from a time when the population was smaller and resources more abundant. The reality today is that the human population is already above Earth’s carrying capacity. The evidence is everywhere, from climate change to habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity. Like all other animals, a rapid population increase (such as we have experienced over the last century) will inevitably be followed either by a levelling off or a crash due to a combination of diseases, starvation, loss of shelter and predation (or wars in the case of H sapiens). In short, I’m amazed that anyone considers a smaller population a bad thing. Do they think that all the humans that lived on the planet before the twentieth century led impoverished lives because there were fewer of them?

2 Replies 728 Recommended

Bad New (or Good) | We Expect 300,000 Fewer Births Than Usual This Year – The New York Times

Melissa S. Kearney and 

Dr. Kearney is an economics professor at the University of Maryland. Dr. Levine is an economics professor at Wellesley College. In a report for the Brookings Institution last summer and an update in December, they predicted that the Covid pandemic would lead to a decline in U.S. births.

  • 713

Credit…Alice Proujansky for The New York Times

“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the country into an economic recession and an unprecedented restructuring of our work and social lives. Early on, some likened the public health crisis to a blizzard, imagining that people would stay home, cozy up with their romantic partners and make babies.

These playful visions have given way to a more sobering reality: The pandemic’s serious disruption of people’s lives is likely to cause “missing births” — potentially a lot of them. Add these missing births to the country’s decade-long downward trend in annual births and we can expect consequential changes to our economy and society in the years to come. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes.

Research we did last year showed that the Covid pandemic would lead to a decline in U.S. births of about 8 percent, as compared with the number of expected births without a pandemic, resulting in 300,000 fewer births this year than would otherwise be expected. This prediction was based largely on the fact that economic factors affect people’s decisions about whether and when to have a baby.

There is a well-documented cycle to the nation’s birthrate: When the labor market is weak, aggregate birthrates decline; when the labor market improves, birthrates improve. At the individual level, there is also a well-documented link between changes in income and births: When income increases, people often expand their families; when people experience job or income loss, they have fewer children.” . . .

David Lindsay: This op-ed is so off base, it had me gasping for air, and giving it my middle finger, as I started shouting at the empty room. True, I can me very childish and silly.

I made a note to check and leave a thoughtful comment, but Holy Smokes, many articulate environmentalist beat me too it. The comments are terrific, and for they alone, I post the rubbish above.

Here are the three most recommended comments:

BC
New EnglandMarch 4
Times Pick

While this may have some negative economic impacts for humans, I would imagine there would be many gains for other species and the planet itself. We can adjust. Animals, on the other hand, are at our mercy in many ways, and will likely benefit greatly from a check in human population growth. I’ll call it a win.

1417 Recommended

June commented March 4

June
CharlestonMarch 4

This is wonderful news. We don’t need more human reproduction, we need less, much less. Climate change is causing massive human migration across the globe which will only accelerate. There are far, far too many humans on earth and a baby bust is good news.

16 Replies1050 Recommended

MNM commented March 4

MNM
AtlantaMarch 4
Times Pick

Covid threw into even sharper relief the immense challenges of parenting in American society. This is not an easy place to have a baby, y’all! Let’s see – you can be fired or laid off while pregnant, which means goodbye health insurance and goodbye FMLA (which is trash anyway – 12 weeks of unpaid leave is obscene.) Your childcare is going to cost as much as your mortgage – literally! The full-time daycare we planned to use (before I was laid off at seven months pregnant) was $1400/month. Our mortgage is $1500. Oh, don’t forget healthcare – our baby’s insurance premium is $425/month. Are you doing the math? If I hadn’t been laid off, that’s around a $1900/month minimum expense on one new family member. If politicians want Americans to have more babies – a goal I don’t necessarily agree with – they should start by making America less openly hostile to parents. Raise the minimum wage, ensure better protections for pregnant workers, establish 12-18 months of family leave so moms AND dads can stay home with their babies in those first precious and precarious months as a new family, mandate reasonable leave policies, create a national system of affordable childcare… I could go on. We choose to make life immensely challenging for parents and then wonder why so few Americans opt in to having a baby. People WANT children, but they also want to be able to give their children (and themselves) a life worth living.

14 Replies995 Recommended
Verity Makepeace
EcosseMarch 4

I’m not bothered. This planet cannot sustain our massive population. Why do humans still think they are the centre of the universe? Why can they not get past the fact that there are other species that depend on what this fragile earth can offer them for survival. It isn’t all about humans, you know. I’m not callous, but I am aware of the world around me and that biodiversity deserves a chance.

1 Reply686 Recommended

The Everyday Chemicals That Might Be Leading Us to Our Extinction – The New York Times

COUNT DOWN
How Our Modern World Is Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, Threatening Sperm Counts, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race
By Shanna H. Swan with Stacey Colino

If you’ve smugly enjoyed the dystopian worlds of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (where infertility is triggered in part by environmental pollutants) or “Children of Men” (where humanity is on the precipice of extinction) — and believed that these stories were rooted firmly in fantasy — Shanna Swan’s “Count Down” will serve as an awakening.

“Count Down,” which Swan wrote with the health and science journalist Stacey Colino, chronicles rising human infertility and warns of dire consequences for our species if this trend doesn’t slow. The reason, Swan explains, may be growing exposure to “endocrine disrupting chemicals” that are found in everything from plastics, flame retardants, electronics, food packaging and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics.

She outlines the danger. These substances interfere with normal hormonal function, including testosterone and estrogen. Even in small doses, they pose particular danger to unborn babies and young children whose bodies are growing rapidly. These hormone-warping chemicals, which can enter even the placenta, have the ability to alter the anatomical development of girls and boys, change brain function and impair the immune system.

Swan is a noted environmental and reproductive epidemiologist who has studied this subject for more than two decades. Her work on falling sperm counts garnered worldwide attention in 2017. Media coverage focused on her central finding: From 1973 to 2011, the total sperm count of men in Western countries dropped by 59 percent. The quality also nose-dived, with more odd-shaped sperm and fewer strong swimmers capable of fertilizing an egg. Perhaps most important, the DNA they carried was also more damaged.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
What a disturbing and serious piece of reporting. Thank you Bijal P. Trivedi. This makes me want to protect myself, my family, my country and the world, but is there a silver lining? With 7.6 billion people now overpopulating the world, we are the new asteroid, causing the 6th extinction of species. Maybe our growing infertility is what saves us from destroying ourselves and our environment, stops us in our trajectory of being like another green algae bloom.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” on 18th century Vietnam and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | A Cataclysm of Hunger, Disease and Illiteracy – by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“We think of Covid-19 as killing primarily the elderly around the world, but in poor countries it is more cataclysmic than that.

It is killing children through malnutrition. It is leading more people to die from tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. It is forcing girls out of school and into child marriages. It is causing women to die in childbirth. It is setting back efforts to eradicate polio, fight malaria and reduce female genital mutilation. It is leading to lapses in vitamin A distribution that will cause more children to suffer blindness and die.

The U.N. Population Fund warns that Covid-19 may lead to an additional 13 million child marriages around the world and to some 47 million women being unable to get access to modern contraception.

In short, a pandemic of disease, illiteracy and extreme poverty is following on the heels of this coronavirus pandemic — and it is hitting children hardest.”

David Lindsay:   This column makes me uncomfortable in several dimensions. The following comment in the NYT covers the elephant in the room:

USA

11m ago
Times Pick

Rampant overpopulation sets the stage for poverty, malnutrition, disease spread, and societal breakdown. Mr. Kristof needs to do more than mention population control in passing. He needs to address the cultural and religious factors that prevent women and the fathers of their children from limiting the number of children they bring into the world, often with no means of providing them with food or shelter. The pandemic will eventually be brought under control. Overpopulation is a far more widespread, destructive, long-term catastrophe.

6 Replies129 Recommended

Opinion | Mother Nature Scoffs at Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan – By Thomas L. Friedman – The New York Times

By

Opinion Columnist

 

“TEL AVIV — To get a different perspective on the Trump-Kushner peace plan, I decided to call the best Middle East analyst I know. Her name is Mother Nature.

So, Mother Nature, what did you think of the Deal of the Century?

Well, Tom, not a lot. For starters, it mentioned me in only a few short sentences. Let me take you on a tour of the neighborhood, as I see it. Warning: My maps have no boundary lines, no walls — and no Areas A, B and C in the West Bank.

You can be sure that President Trump, who has declared climate change a hoax, has no idea that the Eastern Mediterranean has experienced drought conditions for 15 of the last 20 years, which is unparalleled in the modern historical record. A recent study by Tel Aviv University predicts that the Eastern Mediterranean will get steadily hotter and drier and gradually lose two months of winter — i.e., rainfall months — within the next 25 years. Meanwhile, in 1948 Israel’s population was 800,000. It’s now 8.7 million. Jordan’s was 450,000. It’s now 10 million. Syria’s was three million, and it’s now 17.5 million. So, the future is steadily more people and less water.

What are the implications?

Israel used to pump up to 500 million cubic meters of water a year out of the Sea of Galilee, a freshwater lake, to meet domestic needs, including for agricultural fields in the south of Israel, to turn the desert green. In 2018, Israel could pump out only 30 million cubic meters!

In the summer of 2018, the Sea of Galilee was so low from droughts and water withdrawals for rising populations that it was threatening to become another saline lake, like the Dead Sea. You remember that Jesus walked on water in the Sea of Galilee? Well, you could have done that, too, because it was so low that two islands were visible in the middle of the lake.”

These 3 supertrees can protect us from climate collapse But can we protect them? – Vox.com

By Eliza BarclayUmair Irfan, and Tristan McConnell
Photographs by Victor Moriyama, Ardiles Rante, and Sarah Waiswa

We traveled to protected areas deep inside these countries to learn the superpowers of three tree species that play an unusually important part in staving off environmental disaster, not just locally, but globally. These trees play many ecological roles, but most impressive is how they produce rainfall, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and support hundreds of other species.

If these ecosystems collapse, the climate effects are likely to be irreversible. And so what happens to these forests truly affects all life on Earth.

This is the story of three trees at the center of our climate crisis that provide big benefits to you, me, and the world. Meet the trees, get to know their superpowers, and learn how scientists are trying to protect them.

This project was supported by the Pulitzer Center.

Meet the Amazon’sRAINMAKER

https://www.vox.com/a/supertrees?emci=402d9d87-b61d-ea11-a601-2818784d6d68&emdi=a18960b5-4e22-ea11-a601-2818784d6d68&ceid=1543337