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Human Overpopulation Most Unheard
Of Issue In America - Pt 4
The EPA, Hardin's Laws and Boulding's Theorems

By Frosty Wooldridge
12-21-11
 
For over thirty years, I attended lectures at the University of Colorado where Physics professor Dr. Albert Bartlett lectured and promoted discussion on human overpopulation. His extraordinary lecture on "Arithmetic, Population and Energy" can be seen at www.albartlett.org . He presented it over 1,600 times around the world.
 
While the world ignored his and many other top scientists in the world, including Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, in 2010, the population noose tightens around this civilization's neck. Other top experts join the chorus such as Richard Heinberg, Dr. William Catton, Jared Diamond, William Ryerson, Dave Paxson, Aldolpho Doring, Dr. Diana Hull and Amanda Zackem.
 
POPULATION AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
 
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has done many constructive and beneficial things," said Bartlett. "The policies, actions, and leadership of the Agency are crucial to any hope for a sustainable society. In a recent report we read,
 
"In view of the increasing national and international interest in sustainable development, Congress has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to report on its efforts to incorporate the concepts of sustainable development into the Agency's operations.
 
"The Report (EPA, 1993) is at once encouraging and distressing. It is encouraging to read of all of the many activities of the Agency which help protect the environment. It is distressing to search in vain through the Report for acknowledgment that population growth is at the root of most of the problems of the environment. Unlike the report of the Bruntland Commission, the EPA report avoids making the allegation that population growth is not the central problem. The EPA report makes only a very few minor references to the problems of urban population growth. 
 
"The Report speaks of an initiative to pursue sustainable development in the Central Valley of California where many areas are experiencing rapid urban growth and associated environmental problems....
 
"A stronger emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices will be a key element in any long- term
solutions to problems in the area. 
 
"A stronger emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices" won't stop "rapid urban growth and the associated environmental problems..." and hence, an emphasis on agriculture cannot solve the problem. If the EPA is to address the "associated environmental problems", it would seem to be more important to focus on stopping the "rapid urban growth" which causes the problems. Why focus on the development of "sustainable agricultural practices" when agriculture will be displaced by the "rapid urban growth." However, if "A stronger emphasis on sustainable agricultural practices" means protect agricultural land from any further loss to developments, then perhaps there is logic to the statements quoted above. 
 
"In general, with our present social systems, agriculture, sustainable or otherwise, can't be maintained in the face of urban population growth. In speaking of the New Jersey Coastal Management Plan for the management of an environmentally sensitive tidal wetland, the Report says:
 
"The project involves balancing the intense development pressures in the area with wetlands wildlife protection, water quality, air quality, waste management, and other environmental considerations. 
 
"Here we are "balancing" again. In many ways, a series of balances is a way to "Sacrifice the environment in an environmentally sensitive way."
 
In the Pacific Northwest
 
"The EPA...is an active participant in these discussions, which focus on sustaining high quality natural resources and marine ecosystems in the face of rapid population and economic growth in the area," said Bartlett. "These quotations of minor sections of the EPA report make it clear that the EPA understands the origin of environmental problems. Thus it is all the more puzzling that the Agency so carefully avoids serious discussion of the fundamental source of so many of the problems it is supposed to address.
 
"In this report of approximately 30 pages on the Agency's programs relating to sustainable development, the term "sustainable development" is mentioned hundreds of times, and population growth, the most important variable in the equation, is mentioned just these few times. It is as though one attempted to build a 100 story skyscraper from good materials, but one forgot to put in
a foundation. 
 
"A proposal for the establishment of a "National Institute for the Environment" (1993) is being advanced. If the proposed institute is to be effective, its mission and charge must include, "Studying the demographic causes and consequences of environmental problems."
 
A PERIOD OF TIME
 
"The pertinent definition of "sustain" is "to maintain, or to cause to continue..." The definition suggests that things can be sustained for long periods of time. Thus, when the Bruntland Report speaks of "Future generations" and "into the distant future," it would seem to mean "for all future generations" or "forever." 
 
 
 
"Let us be specific and state that both "Carrying Capacity" and "Sustainable" imply "for the period in which we hope humans will inhabit the earth." This means "for many millennia." 
 
 
 
"In what follows, "standard of living" is to be thought of in terms of the average annual per-capita consumption of goods; "carrying capacity" refers to the number of people that can be sustained. The term "resources" refers to virgin resources, while "goods" can include both virgin and recycled materials."
 
LAWS, HYPOTHESES, OBSERVATIONS AND PREDICTIONS 
RELATING TO SUSTAINABILITY
 
"The laws, hypotheses, observations, and predictions that follow are offered to define the term "sustainability" which must be understood to mean, "for many millennia," said Bartlett. "In some cases these statements are accompanied by corollaries that are identified by capital letters. They all apply for populations and rates of consumption of goods and resources of the sizes and scales found in the world in 1994, and may not be applicable for small numbers of people or to groups in primitive tribal situations."
 
These laws are believed to hold rigorously. The hypotheses are less rigorous than the laws. There may be exceptions to some, and some may be proven to be wrong. Experience may show that some of the hypotheses should be elevated to the status of laws.
 
The observations may shed light on the problems and on mechanisms for finding solutions to the problems. The predictions are those of a retired nuclear physicist who has been watching these problems for several decades. The lists are but a single compilation, and hence may be incomplete. Readers are invited to communicate with the author in regard to items that should or should not be in these lists. In many cases, these laws and statements have been recognized, set forth, and elaborated on by others."
 
GARRETT HARDIN'S THREE LAWS OF HUMAN ECOLOGY
 
We start by repeating three laws of human ecology that are given by Garrett Hardin. (Hardin, 1993) These are fundamental, and need to be known and recognized by all who would speak of sustainability.
 
First Law: "We can never do merely one thing."
 
This is a profound and eloquent observation of the interconnectedness of nature.
 
Second Law: "There's no away to throw to."
 
This is a compact statement of one of the major problems of the "effluent society."
 
Third Law: The impact (I) of any group or nation on the environment is represented qualitatively by the relation of:
 
I = P A T
 
where P is the size of the population, A is the per-capita affluence, measured by per-capita consumption, and T is a measure of the damage done by the technologies that are used in supplying the consumption. Hardin attributes this law to Ehrlich and Holdren. (Ehrlich and Holdren, 1971)
 
The suggestion may be made that the Third Law is too conservative. The Third Law suggests that I varies as Pn where n = 1. There are situations where the impact of humans increases more rapidly than linearly with the size of the population P so that n > 1.
 
BOULDING'S THREE THEOREMS
 
These theorems are from the work of the eminent economist Kenneth Boulding. (Boulding, 1971)
 
First Theorem: "The Dismal Theorem" "If the only ultimate check on the growth of population is misery, then the population will grow until it is miserable enough to stop its growth."
 
Second Theorem: "The Utterly Dismal Theorem" This theorem "states that any technical improvement can only relieve misery for a while, for so long as misery is the only check on population, the [technical] improvement will enable population to grow, and will soon enable more people to live in misery than before. The final result of [technical] improvements, therefore, is to increase the equilibrium population which is to increase the total sum of human misery."
 
Third Theorem: ("The moderately cheerful form of the Dismal Theorem") "Fortunately, it is not too difficult to restate the Dismal Theorem in a moderately cheerful form, which states that if something else, other than misery and starvation, can be found which will keep a prosperous population in check, the population does not have to grow until it is miserable and starves, and it can be stably prosperous."
 
Boulding continues, "Until we know more, the Cheerful Theorem remains a question mark. Misery we know will do the trick. This is the only sure-fire automatic method of bringing population to an equilibrium. Other things may do it."
 
You can reach Dr. Albert Bartlett at <http://www.albartlett.org>www.albartlett.org
 
__________
 
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents "The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it" to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715
 
 
 
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