Monday, 28 July 2014

Eliminate your Ecological Footprint - A Modest Proposal

Warning: Hazardous Tongue-in-cheek ahead. If you would prefer not to deal with my dark humour, the gist is summed up in this Chesterton quote.

Basically, then, there are only two kinds of solutions to the population problem. One is a "birth rate solution," in which we find ways to lower the birth rate. The other is a "death rate solution," in which ways to raise the death rate - war, famine, pestilence - find us.
-- Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb

A word to the 'overpopulation' alarmists: we won't be able to achieve a sustainable ecological footprint by curbing birthrate alone. The birthrate is already trending to fall below replacement (2.4 children in 2011). Hans Rosling gushes that we're already maxing out what we can do with birthrate.

We may be able to control local overpopulation through immigration controls, but the countries that scream overpopulation the loudest (rich white nations, I'm looking at you!) can oft afford to accommodate more people. Australia has a surplus 7.87 global hectares per person. Besides, it doesn't fix the global problem that:

The world-average ecological footprint in 2007 was 2.7 global hectares per person (18.0 billion in total). With a world-average biocapacity of 1.8 global hectares per person (12 billion in total), this leads to an ecological deficit of 0.9 global hectares per person (6 billion in total). 

(Source: Global Footprint Network, Wikipedia)

Few countries are 'average', however. Richer people consume far more than poorer people. But if that's a hint for me to live without electricity or international air travel, then hell no! The question shouldn't be 'how many Earths would be needed if everyone lived like you?' It should be "How many
'You's could Earth support?" (And then work forwards from there.)

I don't need to buy carbon credits or go vegetarian. That's for pussies who don't have the cojones to go all the way to the logical conclusion. I could completely offset ecological footprint by eliminating poor people, ahem, allow them to return to mother earth. 3 Algerians, by my calculations.

It's easy to calculate. Just look up your current country's ecological footprint, and divide it by the target country's ecological footprint. To use my example: Japan (4.73 gha/person) divided by Algeria (1.59 gha/person) = 2.97 (round up for safety.)

Why pick on poor people, you heartless monster? Several reasons:

Firstly, poorer people just don't seem to have gotten the memo on fertility. Rwanda and Zambia still have fertility rates in the '5's. (Source: UN World Population Prospects 2008)

Secondly, poor people will get richer and they will want to live like rich people. Look at South America and East Asia. They've created a dangerous precedent for Africa. This will tell 'em, "Nuh uh. Spaces are limited and we 'made it' first."

Thirdly, they're less likely to be able to mount a defence, or afford a gunship drone - my weapon of choice - for a retaliation. It's far more practical for me to take out 4 Tanzanians than 0.6 Americans. Furthermore, I like rich Ango-saxons. They gave me a great passport, haven currencies, global stock markets, and the internet. Since Tanzania produced Freddie Mercury, I haven't so much as received a greeting card. (That's all it would take, Tanzania, just a 'wassup' once in a while.) This brings me to my most important point: checking to see that I am not spruiking my own demise.

If the world lived like me, it could support 2.5 billion people. My net wealth puts me in the global top 130 million. Were the decision to cull be made on net wealth, I would be a survivor. I would still be wealthy among the survivors. And I vote!

This is not a new idea. See Paul Ehrlich above. Even the grand-daddy of overpopulation Thomas Malthus wrote:
"The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves."
—Malthus T.R. 1798. An essay on the principle of population. Chapter VII, p61
We can depopulate orderly or chaotically. Do you have what it takes? Or will you pussy out and try to find some magic technology to supply iPads and McDonalds to 10 billion people so that you don't have to make the fun, ahem, tough choices?

The good news is that I don't have to completely offset my eco-footprint, just my portion of the global ecological deficit. So I could cut my kill count by half. You 2 Tanzanians can thank me later.

Thanks Dan Brown and David Brin for the inspiration.

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