DISMANTLING
THE POPULATION

Ultimate Target: An 85% reduction in human numbers by the year 2250



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OVERVIEW, June 2007

Population set to hit nine billion by 2050

Since the Dismantlement website went online in December 1997, the earth's human population has grown by over a thousand million, or four countries the size of the United States.

What, then, does nine billion, the predicted population for 2050, actually mean in terms of future energy requirements? According to Daniel Nocera, professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, if the population rose to 9 billion and we all adopted the current standard of living for an American resident, then power demand would increase from today's 13.3 terawatts of energy consumption (one terawatt is equal to the energy produced by burning 5 billion barrels of oil) to 102 terawatts.

But a bigger and far more dangerous problem will be in finding enough fresh water to sustain the lives of nine billion people.



 [bonsai]

Population is the most important dismantlement of all - the key to all other dismantlements. Reduce our numbers and you reduce greenhouse gas emissions, social strife, urbanization, wildlife extinction and the major causes of war.

The old concept of zero population growth isn't nearly radical enough to achieve what we believe to be the optimum global population of one billion people by the year 2250.

That's a reduction of 85% off today's human numbers, but is not as shocking as it sounds. No one gets killed, and it can be imperceptively achieved. The only thing that will be noticed is a gradual improvement in the quality of life for everyone.



2.........4........8.......16......32.....64....128...

We are currently in a doubling spiral in which the world population doubles in increasingly reducing time spans.

Individual countries have different doubling times. For example, it will take 100 years for the population of the United States to double*, whereas Kenya's doubling time is just twenty years. The world average at the current rate is 47 years (World Population Data Sheet, Population Reference Bureau).

TWICE the people in HALF a lifetime.

 [USA] *Americans will experience a major upheaval well before then. It's estimated that the population of the U.S. will increase 50% by 2050. But prime farmland will have decreased by 13%, swallowed up by fast growing urban development. For the first time in its history, that country will be forced to import more food than it exports. Where from? Are other countries going to stop having children in order to feed Americans?

Bear in mind that only 10% of the Earth's surface is arable land. Land, what's more, which is being reduced and degraded every day through erosion, urban development and a decline in the practice of fallowing land (Conserving Land: Population and Sustainable Food Production, Population Action International, 1995.).

Every week TWO MILLION people are born to eat off that same land.

Click here to read about the dependence of modern food production on ever dwindling supplies of phosphate rock.



TO STABILISE IS NOT ENOUGH

If every couple averaged only 2.1 children (the figure for replacement), we would reach a point of no growth (zero population growth), but no reduction, either.

WE NEED TO GO BEYOND MERE REPLACEMENT AND START HALVING OUR NUMBERS

To enter a halving cycle, every reproducing pair can have no more than one child.

Through the resulting natural shrinkage, we'd depopulate by an average over our 250 year period of a billion people every fifty years. When we reach the target of just under a billion, 'halving' can be replaced by a two-child norm to maintain the population at around the eight-hundred million to one billion mark.

If we ever get there, we'll have achieved the greatest Dismantlement of all - the one on which all the others depend.



WE EITHER HALVE, OR WE'LL HAVE NOT.

A workable strategy for halving does not exist at this point in time. So emotive is this issue, and so multi-layered, that no single prescription can work across all peoples and all countries. Nations have introduced measures to control their populations in the past - and have failed.

We don't pretend to have the answers on this website - at least, not yet. And that's where your input is so important. So do send us any ideas you may have, however far-fetched. We're up against the most powerful, relentless force in human nature - the reproductive urge - so we're going to have to apply some powerful thinking to the problem.

How will halving be accomplished?



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*Is over-population recognised as being an issue in your country? Does your government have a population policy? How is family planning/contraception promoted? Are contraceptives readily available? Are large families socially acceptable where you live? What 'population education' programmes are there in your schools, if any? How many children do you plan to have, and why? Do you think foreign aid should be made conditional on the recipient's birth control policies? Do you have any suggestions on how having more than one child can be made to be seen as anti-social (similar to what has happened with smoking in certain western societies)?

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