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May 05, 2007


Max Kalehoff

To your point:

Max Kalehoff

To your point:


Matthew Hurst


The weird thing about Jonathan's post there is that it was I that pointed this out to him. For some reason he anonymized the source of the idea.


Please note that blogging with regard to the skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population numbers on Earth is virtually non-existent. The dynamic silence that surrounds this topic is deafening.

If human beings evolved on Earth (did not descend from heaven or come here from some other place in the universe) and the emerging data of human overpopulation of our planetary home are somehow on the right track, then humanity could soon confront daunting global challenges.

Perhaps hubris confuses human reasoning about the “placement” of humanity within the natural order of living things. There is the rub, I suppose. We have learned from God’s great gifts to humanity—natural philosophy and modern science—that Earth is not the center of the universe (Copernicus); that we are set upon a tiny celestial orb among a sea of stars (Galileo); that such things as the Law of Gravity and the Laws of Thermodynamics affect living things equally, including human beings (Newton, et al); that humankind is a part of the general evolutionary process (Darwin); and that people are to a significant degree unconscious, mistake what is illusory for what is real and, therefore, have difficulty both adequately explaining the way the world works and consciously regulating our behavior (Freud).

Now comes unanticipated and unfortunately unwelcome evidence from RUSSELL HOPFENBERG and DAVID PIMENTEL that appears to indicate we have widely shared and consensually validated an inadequate, preternatural understanding of human population dynamics and now willfully refuse to appreciate the necessity for considering the regulation of certain distinctly human “overgrowth” activities. That is to say, humanity could soon be presented with a predicament resulting from 1) increasing and unchecked per capita consumption of limited resources, 2)seemingly endless expansion of production capabilities in a finite world, and 3)unbridled species propagation.

Unchallenged scientific evidence from Hopfenberg and Pimentel (2001) and Hopfenberg (2003) indicate that human influences could directly and primarily account for excessive extinction of biodiversity, creeping environmental degradation, and the voracious dissipation of limited natural resources of Earth.

From my humble vantage point, it does look as if the challenges posed to humanity by certain unregulated human activities are huge ones. Even so, we can take the measure of the looming challenges and find solutions to our problems that are consonant with universally shared values.


Is there even a remote possibility certain activities of the human species now rampantly overspreading the surface of Earth could soon become so dominant as to precipitate the mass extinction of biodiversity, the pernicious destabilization of the climate and the irreversible degradation of Earth?

Perhaps noticing the magnitude of the human influences resulting from a rapidly growing human population (6.7 to 9.2 billion human beings in the first half of the twenty-first century) upon the natural world is like finding a proverbial “elephant in the living room.”

No one can say how so large a creature ever got into our planetary home. Its very presence does not make sense. Even so, every human being on the planet can see some part of the leviathan-like creature. Some people see a gigantic tusk or a tail. Others see its head or some part of its massive body. Because the creature is so big that no one person can see the whole of it, we are free to believe and mistakenly conclude it simply cannot be real, not really.

If we simply agree to make the choice to deny its existence within our home, then we can ignore that which, in any case, cannot be completely seen by anyone. Henceforth, there is no reason to talk about the elephant. There is also no point in discussing either human limits or Earth’s limitations to support the elephant.

And not surprisingly, if we continue to ignore the elephant in our living room long enough by not talking about the potential threat it poses to a sustainable future for our children and coming generations; to biodiversity; to the viability of ecosystems; and to the integrity of Earth, as one of the world’s most prominent, visionless political leaders (gesturing by throwing up his hands toward the sky in dismay) recently put it, “We’ll all be dead.”

An unannounced, unwelcome and unacknowledged elephant lives among us……and can be seen, even now, in the offing as a potential threat to human and environmental health.

If you would be so kind, please discuss population science that looks to be the subject of a taboo.

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