There are several ways this could happen, and none of them are acceptable to the vast majority of people on the planet. Which is why we’re in the fix we are.
Many spritual disciplines teach only to eat when hungry. To eat simply. But the vast majority of people enjoy eating anytime — until they feel stuffed. People eat to be part of social groups, people eat as “comfort food”, people eat when something special is offered, such as at holidays and parties.
That is: Most people enjoy overeating, much of the time. And they like expensive food much more than they like cheap food. I have a friend, her family often on the poverty line, who dearly loves a $35/lb. cheese, and buys it when she’s “feeling naughty”.
This wouldn’t be a problem, except that the vast majority of people also like to have sex and to have families.
Put together these three essentially open-ended needs, and it spells real trouble, because the Earth is not infinite.
Basically, population needs to a large extent to stop growing. Several suggestions have been made about this, and of course, whatever is suggested … millions or billions of people hate it. In China, many couples are allowed only one child. You can read about the advantages and disadvantages in the URL below.
Solutions encouraged by the government also have the added burden, in countries with considerable free speech, that quite a few people are against the “Nanny State”, just on principle. I.e., for them, it’s not so much a matter of whether some particular government action on having children is reasonable — their reaction tends to be that they don’t want the government to have ANY more control.
In some ways, this is an even more difficult problem, because although some fear of government is healthy, people who fear government regulation also include thieves and white collar criminals, for example. To them, increased “regulation” means increased chance they will be caught and punished.
So the “population problem” starts out relatively simple, and quickly becomes political, religious, philosophical and even legal.
As Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman points out in “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, humans aren’t very good at making these complex decisions, even at the best of times. So the outlook here is not good. Over-population will probably get increasingly intense, until something “breaks”. And that “something” is probably major wars.
In the meanwhile, of course, we should work to avoid starvation and hunger — the longer we avoid the major food/water wars, the more chance the world collectively will come to better solutions.
Stop eating meat. One pound of beef requires 10 pounds of grain. Half of America’s grain and 40% of the grain in the world feeds livestock. Livestock provide food for much less people than the grain would.
Policies and practices both need to change. The rich do not share their money and the way we grow and collect food is not as sustainable as it could be.
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