Climate change no issue with human population of, say, 10

I use the extreme example of 10 to cut to the chase, get to the point.

With a low human population, human-caused climate change would not be a concern.

With a low human population, neither would habitat loss or any other of the current threats to the diversity of life on Earth.

It wouldn’t matter if every person in a low human population was the most rapacious sort of capitalist. They couldn’t make a dent. It wouldn’t matter if every one was socialist, communist, racist, atheist, Buddhist, Confucionist, Taoist, Christian, Jew, or Muslim. What packs the most clout is the sheer mass of the human population

This mass is the great hulking monster behind the threats to climate and biodiversity. And yet the growth of the human population has important sources of support. For the political leaders yearning for military might, it means bigger armies. For organized religion(s), it means bigger congregations. For the business world, it means more customers — and a labor supply abundant enough to make labor cheap. Over all this hangs a silence amounting to a near-universal taboo.

Everything I know or think I know persuades me that continuing on our present course will, sooner or later, plausibly beginning in the lifetime of children born since 1980, create conditions that will set off a severe and sharp culling of the human herd. But we’ll be bringing a lot down with us as we go, and we are already seeing all the evidence we need of that.


“Research suggests that the scale of human population and the current pace of its growth contribute substantially to the loss of biological diversity. Although technological change and unequal consumption inextricably mingle with demographic impacts on the environment, the needs of all human beings—especially for food—imply that projected population growth will undermine protection of the natural world. 

“Numerous solutions have been proposed to boost food production while protecting biodiversity, but alone these proposals are unlikely to staunch biodiversity loss. An important approach to sustaining biodiversity and human well-being is through actions that can slow and eventually reverse population growth: investing in universal access to reproductive health services and contraceptive technologies, advancing women’s education, and achieving gender equality.”

Eileen Crist, Camilo Mora, Robert Engelman. The interaction of human population, food production, and biodiversity protection. Science 21 April 2017

“The individual scientist can survive for a long time by lying low in the valley of specialized intellectual interest … We in science must get up and face the wind, confront the future.”

William Bevan, “The Sound of the Wind That’s Blowing.”

American Psychologist. July 1976

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