Over-population is Among the Most Pressing Challenges of the 21st Century
Are we facing turmoil as a society?
Will Government-control be able to help us to prevent this catastrophe?
Yes, I think so.
Free Access to Resources
One of the main issues with Capitalism is that access to resources for capital gain automatically leads to over-exploitation, in both the short-game and in the long-game. There is no way around it. If you are a multi-billion dollar fossil-fuel industry and you have one thousand untouched lakes that possess oil in your country, you will arguably almost always be prone to want to access that oil by destroying the ecosystem surrounding that lake.
Over-exploitation inevitably happens because the benefits of exploitation are endless for the party that is in control. This occurs to the point of which the customer or recipient of the produce becomes reliant on it. Many only due to convenience choose to buy a car with which they will be able to travel around the city.
We are told that we need things that we know we actually do not need.
Do you really need that $1,000 phone so that you can post better pictures on Instagram? Do you really need two laptops (I actually had the temptation to buy the new Chromebook for school — I resisted)?
That, in turn, causes the demand for the resource (Iphone, Chromebook, fossil fuels, etc.) to increase, which means that in the long-term the resource will inevitably run out, if there is no technological prevention.
Finite Resources: A List
Sustainability is the number one problem with overpopulation. Consider the following factors that are limited resources but are being used as if they are infinite:
- Non-renewable energy (oil & coal)
If we are to rely on conscience alone, we will still have an immense problem at hand. Individuals such as Trump, would abuse the system to their advantage, which would eventually lead to over-exploitation and subsequently a lack of resources.
Before we go into why Capitalists tend to disagree with putting a limit on the free market, we should briefly glance at the reasons why Overpopulation even occurs.
Why Overpopulation Happens in the First Place
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the family as the natural and fundamental unit of society. It follows that any choice and decision with regard to the size must be irrevocably rest with the family itself, and cannot be made by anyone else.
The reasons for overpopulation are numerous. Perhaps some of the most obvious are the decline in death rate in most Western countries and now even in most Eastern countries (Japan, Korea, China, Indonesia, etc.). Extreme global poverty has also been reduced drastically over the past couple of decades, medical treatment is more available to most places in Africa and Southern America.
Some other negative effects are the depletion of natural resources (water, oil, coal, etc.) and the destruction of the environment (the Amazon river, BC forests, lakes, fish, etc.).
Ways to Prevent Overpopulating the Planet
Some of the best ways to reduce this problem of overpopulation, as Bill Gates and Steven Pinker (and others of course) have pointed out elsewhere are: increasing the literacy for women and a proper sex education for young families. This would lead to a stagnation of growth, as we have seen happen in the West.
The more women are able to read, the more women will pursue a career rather than simply function as stay-at home robots, imprisoned by their lack of knowledge.
Challenges to State-Control over the Population and the Market
In order to challenge this capitalistic dogma (mainly free access to resources), we have to start implementing rules that consider the collective as more important than the individual.
I know that most Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, Thomas Paine, David Hume, and Adam Smith would maybe disagree with this notion.
Similarly Libertarians and other people on the Right are slower to agree on this point. But I think we should be quicker to reassess Marxism, rather than to entirely dismiss Marx’s points on Economics.
Dave Rubin, the stand-up comedian and the host of the Rubin Report on YouTube, has expressed similar concerns with collectivist ideology. He says:
“[the idea of Socialism] that the means of production, distribution, and labor should be owned, controlled, and regulated by the community as a whole are the worst sort of collectivist ideas which exist.
The very implication that the group knows what is good for the individual . . . is antithetical to the purpose of being human. It’s your job to find value in your work, to strive to have more than you have . . . and to live as a free person as you see fit.
The very idea that you should set aside your individuality for the community as a whole, which virtually always turns into an intolerant, hostile mob is exactly why so many have died in socialist regimes.”
He further concludes:
“Imperfect beings cannot create a perfect system, but what we can create is a system that always does its best to further the advancement of human freedom. For all its flaws this is what capitalism is.”
I am a big fan of Rubin’s work and I agree with him to some extent. What I think he does not take into account is how companies have created a monopoly on natural resources.
Peter Singer explains the problem with Capitalism best in his book, Marx: A Very Short Introduction:
“[There are] three ways in which workers are alienated — from the products of labour, from their activity, and from their species-being . . . For workers, productive activity becomes ‘activity under the domination, coercion and yoke of another man — the capitalist employer. This other human being becomes an alien, hostile being. Instead of humans relating to each other cooperatively, they relate competitively.
Love and trust are replaced by bargaining and exchange. Human beings cease to recognize in each other their common human nature; instead they see others as instruments for furthering their own egoistic interests. They are alienated from their common humanity.”
If we are to seriously grapple with the challenges of the 21st century, we will need to dispose of these self-centered individualistic ideologies and consider the overall benefit of society and the ecosystem we are living in. How would we ever be able to impose on the most wealthy people in the world, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Bezos, to give back some of their wealth to the poorest of the poor?
This seems like an appropriate expectation of the Government. It is first, however, important to establish a proper, ethical government. That is a more difficult dilemma, I assume.
Let me know in the comments if you know anything about that and if you have any thoughts/ if you disagree with my assessment. I would love to discuss this topic with you in more detail.
Before you go…
I’d love if you’d share the article on Facebook/TWITTER if you want your friends to benefit from it in some way at all.
I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,