What's cool in the GTIA Portfolio...
Having read around the subject of Transition Towns and the importance of climate change and peak oil it always interests me that the subject of increasing populations continually appears to be ignored.

Whilst the issue can raise some difficult discussions the subject should not in my view be ignored. Rising populations whilst energy resources diminish and climate change takes place will only exasperate the problems facing us. Ignoring difficult subjects does not make the subjects go away.

Tags: Population

Views: 8

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

There were several posts on the California board. If you want to know any current topics across all the transition boards and related sites, use the custom google search widget. The one I designed at the California site works the best.

It is as if population has been discussed for so many decades now, that everyone is worn out on it. There are different schools, too, that are sort of warring. There are the anti-immigration xenophobes only worried about people who might come to the US. Still, over all, everyone has seemed to ignore the most viable solution proposed by Feminists many decades ago. Simple: The education of women has been proven to lower birth rates. But, worldwide, we have not made much progress. Kerala is often used as the best example of this.

Also, if we outlawed sperm, we might go a long way to reducing the population. But, not too many men seem to take this sort of responsibility.
For decades, I've thought there was an "elephant in the room" aspect to the non-discussion of population. It is so obvious to me that the environmental degradation we see in our world is already a clear reason for slowing or even reversing population growth.

Mexico, where I currently live, has 4 times the population that it had when I first visited as a child some 50+ years ago.

It's not an easy topic to discuss, partly because it is related to s e x. Which is not an easy topic to discuss either.
The education and liberation of women is the key, really. But we live in a world where sex slavery, prostitution, and porn are the number three economy in the world. The liberation and education of women worldwide is not coming very soon, and the men are not doing much to change that. A good example and proof of this fact is Kerala, India. 50 years ago they declared themselves democratic socialist government and liberated women. the statistics for the last fifty years proves it makes a difference in the population.

And, of course, today, see how far we got with Feminism? No one wants to call themselves a feminist today.
I feel we in first world countries need to trod with care around this subject as overpopulation is a scary tool in the hands of ones who wish to extort resources and land from "over-populated" countries. Add to this the large consumption of the earth's resources by a relatively small group of people as countries with very high populations begin to adapt "our way of live" as the model of success.

I found this quote from an interview with India's Vandana Shiva to be very important to keep in our minds as we start to discuss this issue.

"London: The most urgent ecological issue facing the planet today, by many accounts, is overpopulation. The issue is often framed, particularly here in the West, as a "third world problem" since the birthrate is highest in poor countries. What is your perspective?

Shiva: The people who see the population explosion in the Malthusian way — as a geometric progression — forget that population growth is not a biological issue. People are not increasing in numbers out of stupidity and ignorance. Population growth is an ecological phenomenon linked very intimately to other issues, such as the usurpation of the resources which allow people to live.

In England, the population explosion can be linked very clearly with the enclosure of the commons that uprooted the peasants from their land. In India, it was the same thing: the population increased at the end of the 18th century when the British took over and Indian lands were colonized. Instead of the land feeding Indian people it started to feed the British empire. So we had destitution. Destitute people who don't have their own land to feed themselves can only feed themselves by having larger numbers, therefore they multiply. It's the rational response of a dispossessed people.

The population explosion is an ecological phenomenon of displacement. Unless we solve that ecological problem of displacing people - to build huge dams, to build motorways, to take away what people need in order to survive — we will keep pumping more and more money into population programs. We will have more and more coercive and violent methods through which women's bodies are treated as experimental grounds for new contraceptives. Yet we will not have a solution to the problem of numbers.

London: How do we address the problem?

Shiva: The problem of numbers can only be dealt with by recognizing that people have a fundamental right to economic security. If you provide them with economic and environmental security, the population will stabilize itself. The example of Kerala shows this very clearly. Kerala is a state in south India in which the trends are the absolute opposite from the rest of the third world and from the rest of India. There are two or three reasons. There is tremendous equality between genders in Kerala. Also, there has been a very strong land reform program in the state so that even the poorest of people own the plot of land on which their hut is built. For example, landless laborers might not own the land on which they do their agricultural work, but they own the land on which they have their hut. That resource-guarantee has tremendous implications for the security of the people.

When I was in the capital of Kerala state, I remember some rich people telling me, "You can't get the maids to come every day out here. They have a house and don't need to work every day because if they stay home they won't starve."

That is where the population control issue needs to be addressed. Population control is not an issue involving contraceptives for third world women. It is an issue of ecological justice."

source: http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/shiva.html
Contraceptives is an issue when those contraceptives and choice are banned. Reagan cut the UN budget for these, and since then many areas of the world have been without access. It is one part of the education and liberation of women. Women deserve access. Women also deserve to live in a world without misogyny and gender violence. We have yet to figure out that battered women's shelters are a huge failure.

I hope no one misunderstood my rant about sexual degradation has somehow having something to do with contraceptives. I was depicting the dismal subservient sexual slavery women are forced into world wide as a barometer as to the status of women.

Also projects like the Grameen bank, microloans, and vocational training and education access are key to women's liberation. Kerala is a good example where basic needs are taken care of, but it has not completely squelched their ambition. Most people are over educated for the professions available.

over the last years, nonprofit organizations began to understand that the money should be funneled directly to women and children in developing nations. Why? Before they deferred mostly to men or those in power, only to find their supplies and monetary contributions were funneled/translated into military interests.

We had a population thread over in transition california.

http://transitioncalifornia.ning.com/profiles/blogs/10-reasons-to-r...
Hi folks, this is an edited version that was posted on Transition Ohio with a direct RSS feed to a larger community and university related site.

Conversations about Population

A discussion regarding the challenges of population on the planet has emerged again on the Transition US site.

A fellow wrote the following:
Having read around the subject of Transition Towns and the importance of climate change and peak oil it always interests me that the subject of increasing populations continually appears to be ignored.

Whilst the issue can raise some difficult discussions the subject should not in my view be ignored. Rising populations whilst energy resources diminish and climate change takes place will only exasperate the problems facing us. Ignoring difficult subjects does not make the subjects go away.


Another fellow added input from In the Footsteps of Gandhi: an interview with Vandana Shiva.

I replied with the following:

Thanks for bringing this up on the table again here. It may appear to you to be ignored but it may just be that it is so inherent in everything that it might not always hit the front pages with a population banner.

Have you run a search on the Transition site for population yet? I appreciate the development of the search engines on Transition sites and I too need to utilize these functions more. I know there was a discussion awhile back on the local food movement and whether it could help address global hunger given population realities so it, for example, should turn up on a search. However, if we want to utilize these search functions we also need to pay attention to our usage of tags and keywords.

Anyways, I agree that it is a very complex, highly diverse and potentially volatile subject but rest assured there are many of us who are not ignoring it.

I had my tubes tied in 1984 after having two kids. It was one way I could accept personal responsibility; even though I loved being pregnant, giving birth and mothering children. I would have had a big family if it was just about what I wanted, moreover my efforts turned out highly successful as my two sons are now responsible, kind young men and warriors of sustainability. However, I simply couldn't ignore the fact that we as a civilization has a very serious challenge related to human population on a planet with limited resources.

I am a RN educator who never forgets population matters and who has also provided services to many childbearing women and families.

I always appreciate what Vandana Shiva has to share and loved meeting her and hearing her speak at a California Student Sustainability Coalition Conference a few years ago. In the article referenced above, In the Footsteps of Gandhi: an interview with Vandana Shiva, she speaks about population.

I agree with her that population is linked to economic and ecological stability and that from a Third World perspective it is more about economic security and access to land rather than education and contraceptives. She also reports that people in developed countries often view overpopulation as a Third World problem.

I'd like to share my perspective of population matters in our area and would appreciate hearing anyone elses views as well. One could make a case for how we experience Third World conditions in the Hills of Appalachia but the root cause and the particular circumstances are different. I agree that the economic security factors remain but many folks in our area do have access to land as well as access to contraceptives.

I've worked with some populations in this area where it was not unusual for women to give birth to 13-14 babies. Land was not the issue because they frequently had large farms and grew their own food. They operated in a paradigm that felt that more children are needed for the sustainability of the community, i.e. to care for the children, the elders, to take care of household chores and to work the farm. World population challenges were not a concern for them. However, they were becoming more aware that encouraging women to give birth to large numbers of children was triggering an increase in birth complications and emergency hospital services, i.e. hospital bills were straining their economic security. The pressure may not have prompted a reduction in birth rates but they did change some of their practices, like utilizing well-trained and skillful home birth midwives who also provided education related to health, nutrition, gardening, etc.

Another aspect of population in our area is definitely related to our economic and health care systems, specifically Medicaid. I've seen some improvement in this arena but there are some folks who still feel that if they have more babies they will be eligible for more public assistance.

Of course, it doesn't take long in a conversation about population to get to the point where questions come up related to who gets advanced medical care (should a 90 year old person be eligible for a heart transplant?), if we reduce population who is going to provide care for the elderly population and then what about the impacts on the economy, workforce, etc. Not to mention any discussion of de-stocking raises many eyebrows.

I agree that just because these are difficult discussions about very complex and dynamic challenges, etc., it does not mean that the topic should be ignored; even in our area.

Vandana Shiva said The problem of numbers can only be dealt with by recognizing that people have a fundamental right to economic security. If you provide them with economic and environmental security, the population will stabilize itself. She also said The people who see the population explosion in the Malthusian way — as a geometric progression — forget that population growth is not a biological issue.

I highly respect Vandana and her work. I agree that economic and environmental security matters are vital but I personally feel that education about the biological implications is extremely important, i.e. population pressure on the planet, biology, birth control, etc.

I recently watched and posted a series of videos on Transition Oho of Dr. Albert Bartlett, a physics prof, delivering a lecture to his students about arithmetic, exponential growth, population, resource depletion, peak oil, etc. In the Wikipedia post about him it reports that He regards overpopulation as "The Greatest Challenge" facing humanity, and promotes sustainable living. The wiki also reports: Bartlett is a modern-day Malthusian.

I am certainly not an expert on Malthusian and related fields however the dive into the materials was very interesting as it also took me into the critical reviews of Malthus' work. It led me into Marxist theories as well as back around to the topics of food security, development, family planning, city planning and actually, everything involved with building community resiliency via a Transition Initiatives approach.

It seems to me that the biggest difference between a Malthusian and related styles of approach and a Transition Initiatives approach is the focus...are we going to remain entrenched in a problem oriented approach or are we going to step out onto a positive, goal-oriented path while keeping in mind all the various perspectives?

I would personally love to hear from others in a respectful dialogue about the topic of population and these related matters. The more diversity the better, including those who simply do not agree that we have any population challenges on the planet!

Thanks and best wishes!
kj
I think that we need to focus on where we live(US) and the way that our culture/society bears its load and paternalism on the planet - how our consumption and overuse of resources contributes to the state of affairs - how local economies which empower people and also create less load can fundamentally change the way that the US effects the world - as it gradually can lessen our collective dependence on paternalistic empire.

I feel that this is the correct place to focus our energies. For too long WE have been dictating to the world what is best and many if not most times the ones who are being dictated to have very little input. I think this is a challenge that faces us in "Transition" - how do we let go of our paternalism? How do we respect other cultures rights to self-determination - how can we be more inclusive with the dialogue?
Hi Matt and all;

I just watched a wonderful video that Sobha shared with us on this site.

I think it applies to the questions that you raised above and that you may enjoy it. I also like the fact that it is aligned with the positive visioning and backcasting Transition Approach...What would it look like?

I posted the following on the Transition Ohio site and have sent it to a few other lists:

I have just watched a wonderful film by the Global Oneness Project titled "What Would It Look Like?"

An excerpt from the Global Oneness Project home page:

"As the structures of modern society crumble, is it enough to respond with the same tired solutions? Or are we being called to question a set of unexamined assumptions that form the very basis of our civilization?

This 25-minute retrospective asks us to reflect on the state of the world and ourselves, and to listen more closely to what is being asked of us at this time of unprecedented global transformation."
There were some good points made in the video. Thank you for sharing it. I can't help to think though that it is utopian. I don't think many people in the world are just wanting to be part of the world community - I think that is a projection. I think many people in the world just want to be left alone and allowed to be self-determined. The good which comes from people allowed to create their own destinies will determine what the future state of affairs is.

We need to do our part in creating changes in our OWN backyards and good will flow from that.

"As the structures of modern society crumble, is it enough to respond with the same tired solutions? Or are we being called to question a set of unexamined assumptions that form the very basis of our civilization?"

This quote in itself is troubling. Many people have lived in the world relatively lightly with their environs and many still do. In fact - it can be argued that a small minority on the planet have contributed to the rapid deterioration of the environment. This is not about the world - we can't get ahead of ourselves, as we often do. This is about WE as in privileged people who have benefited from hundreds of years of imperialism which gave birth to our "modern society" calling "to question a set of unexamined assumptions that form the very basis of our civilization." We can't jump the gun and say this is a global thing - indeed how would this be different from the paternalism that has formed the crux of our assumptions of the world?

As we attempt to move away from dependence on the structures which are propped up with our support and create empowering, stable solutions for ourselves - we are doing are part. The amazing good that can come of that in the world is the result.
I agree with you but have to admit that's not what I picked up from the video on the first run through. Interesting how we can all perceive things so differently; that's why I love listening to folks and sharing in dialogue.

I suppose I may have had some tinted glasses on as I watched the video but I saw it pointing back to the individual...it is totally up to individuals coming to a place in their back yard where they question their own unexamined assumptions.

I can't help to think though that it is utopian. ... I don't think many people in the world are just wanting to be part of the world community - I think that is a projection. I think many people in the world just want to be left alone and allowed to be self-determined.

Yes, this is a sad reality in many areas. I didn't get the feeling that the video was at all projecting that many people in the world are just wanting to be part of the world community.

And, I thought at least one woman interviewed reinforced the contrary reality with her comments. Ahh.. I can't remember a quote but I essentially heard her saying she wasn't going to be holding her breath.

I thought the whole emphasis was on the need for individuals to examine their own assumptions and make personal lifestyle changes while not forgetting the neighborhood and bigger picture.

I'll try to remove the filters and watch it again with your input in mind. Thanks! kj
Not everyone is doing all that great in their own backyards. Sharing cross cultural global support and educational materials seems to me the only way to improve substandard indigenous regions as well as reskilling post petroleum communities for greater self reliance.
When I speak of backyard - I am speaking more as an American and the work that we have in front of us right in here, in our own backyards - as this system breaks down and we try to find a better way forward. Historically and presently, much of our meddling has directly contributed to other areas of the world being  in the state that they are - whether through colonialism, neo-colonialism or globalization - and I say "our" because it is true that many in this transition movement are beneficiaries of such a global arrangement. Many of us come from middle class white backgrounds - we have the resources, education and time to be thinking and dealing with these issues. I do believe that we have a responsibility to a world in which we have tried to make in our image - I'm just trying to get to the root of what this entails.  Historically many humanitarian and human rights agendas have been and are intertwined with socio-political-economic agendas. There is a paternalism in all of this that I think we need to address -  we need to address our assumptions about the world as we try to make the best moves possible. We all have been indoctrinated in some way with exceptionalism - it comes naturally from being from privileged classes in an empire - this trickles down to most everything we do, including our best of intentions.

How do we get more voices from non-western countries on board to this discussion of population since the majority of the world's population is in fact in these "developing" nations? It irks me that the intelligensia that responds to issues such as population, no matter how well intended is heavily weighted from the "developed" or rich countries or from elites in other areas who are in power because they directly benefit from the kickbacks afforded them by the global order. How do we keep population and other such issues from becoming co-opted by the military-industrial-empire complex and more in the realms of reality and non-agenda? This is really the crux of my point. I just feel this is so crucial to keep in mind. So often - well intended issues such as humanitarian endeavours are co-opted. What is the reason for this and how do we start to step away from this paradigm?

RSS

ALL-Transition Global Search

Loading

Members -- Welcome the Family!

TRANSITION IN ACTION SOCIAL NETWORK is a social network

© 2014   Created by Les Squires -- Webmaster.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service