My near philosophical musings about the world in general its problems and possible ways out.


What fools these mortals be

Just recently I (again) read a shocking story about ‘How China's one-child policy has ruined the marriage prospects of its young men’.  How could this be? Such population growth measures just limit the population growth. They don’t have per se the potential to skew any gender distribution. – Well not per se, but … a bit further down in the article the innocent sentence “…, combined with a cultural preference for boys, …” reveals the total brutal truth. Chinese (and may other) parents simply don’t want girls – they want boys. So, if they are blessed with a female foetus, there is a tendency to simply kill it.

You may well call it murder. So the system works as designed: If you don’t want girls, you will never have women, which your proud boys, once they became men, could marry. It is that simple. So, where is the problem? No one can be so stupid, not to instantaneously see this simple equation.  The sad truth is, journalists can. Eric Schulzke even seems to be a Westerner. Nevertheless, only the hell is the limit to his stupidity. Well not all is wrong: He correctly points out, that, all these young men, without women, jobs and without future, do what young men in such situations always used to do. They start turmoil, civil unrest, even outright wars.

So, what to do?

As the academic and popular science author Jared M. Diamond points out in in his 2005 book “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”: there will be a solution. It might just not be a pleasant one.  Perhaps a collapse of the unpleasant kind?  Well, that sounds cynic. But it is just one of the options – one of the most likely ones.

You might have heard of the Earth Overshoot Day. In 2014 it was August 19, marking the date “when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. For the rest of the year, we will maintain our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We will be operating in overshoot.”

The Earth Overshoot Day is just a drastic illustration of the results of the applied footprint theory:
  • Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planets to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year.
  • Moderate UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the 2030s, we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one.
There are more fine-grained and scientifically better funded theories, e.g. like this one here.  However there is no way around the simple conclusion, that we are already too many. There is no chance, that all the emerging markets and developing nations will ever be able to reach an average ‘western’ standard of living. The necessary resources simply don’t exist – down here on earth. Even worse, even if we proud Westerners could be able to defend the great economical divide and keep all newcomers out, we will have to reduce our standard of living drastically.  The resources will not be available for long. We are simply too many.

So what can we do? Fortunately there is one country – only one – which acted prudently on this challenge: After several trials and and years of considerations it was the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who in 1978 established the one child policy that limited the number of children people could have to only one.

Most probably this was the wisest decision in history of mankind – but it will not suffice. It came late and found no followers. The less prudent rest of the world happily switches to the overdrive mode – on the racetrack to hell.

No comments: