Essay—A Population and Energy Plan (53)

Summary—This essay argues that we should follow countries like China and implement a voluntary child policy starting with Canada where the most number of children by a couple is two. We could follow the laws of nature and existential philosophy so that everyone around the world takes responsibility for a sustainable Earth.

The 1997 movie Titanic is an exposé on risk.  It shows us that falling asleep at the wheel can have disastrous results.  The crew of the Titanic could not fathom the idea of a so-called unsinkable ship running into an iceberg and sinking.  Metaphorically speaking, everyone on the ship was running around rearranging deck chairs, while I am shouting with this essay—Iceberg!  By embracing global child policies and energy reducing plans, we can avoid the disaster of an imminent, inhospitable planet Earth.

Child Policies.  The Chinese government recently announced the latest relaxing of the 1979 one-child policy within a few years so that Chinese couples will be allowed to have a second child.  Changes in past policy include allowing couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child or if the first child is a girl.  While many critics agree that the policy change is a step forward, others believe the country’s difference in gender makeup, diminishing labor force and involuntary abortions will not be remedied until the one-child limit policy is relaxed.  The Chinese fertility rate now sits well at 1.6 children per woman, which is less than the 2.1 children per woman necessary to maintain a population.  I would argue for a voluntary two-child policy—first in Canada and then around the world.  This would make us globally aware of overpopulation and would allow the population to decline gradually.  Other countries that have also implemented child limit policies include Vietnam, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.  Hong Kong currently has an extremely low 1.04 children per woman fertility rate.

Nonrenewable Energy.  Nonrenewable energy is a resource for which there is a limited supply.  The finite energy comes from the Earth and can take millions of years to mature into useful raw material.  Heat and pressure applied over the course of history allows organic and nonorganic material to become oil, gas, coal, minerals and metallic ores including nuclear fuels—all of which are nonrenewable.  Even groundwater in some aquifers is nonrenewable.  In 100 years from now we may not be able to feed our families, heat our houses or drive our cars.  Considering that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, we only have a heartbeat of nonrenewable energy remaining.  If a worldwide application of a two-child policy is successful, we could then consider a worldwide application of a one-child policy.  Over the next 100 years, proper family planning could reduce the population to the 1790 level of one billion people, which could significantly increase the number of years of nonrenewable energy remaining.

Renewable Energy.  Renewable energy is a resource for which there is an unlimited supply.  Biomass has been the primary source of energy on the planet for millennia and includes wood and alcohol.  Wood, like coal, is a dirty fuel.  Corn can be converted into alcohol.  Sunlight and wind can be converted into electricity.  Water flow and the Earth’s internal heat can also be converted into electricity.  Currently 85 percent of the Earth’s energy comes from oil, gas and coal.  The remaining 15 percent comes from nuclear and renewable energy.  Once the nonrenewable energy runs out in 100 years we will have to shift to renewable energy even though it now only provides a small percentage of our energy.

Fossil Fuels.  The simple truth is that the Earth cannot support the current population of 7.2 billion people.  If we do not take dramatic steps to reduce the global population now, mankind may well go the way of the dinosaurs.  As Western Indians say—We do not inherent the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.  Consider that overpopulation and the ravenousness use of nonrenewable resources started with the industrial revolution in 1790.  The world has gone from one billion people in 1790 to 7.2 billion people in 2015.  China has gone from 640 million people in 1960 to 1.4 billion people in 2015.  The use of nonrenewable resources has increased at an even greater rate than the population explosion between 1790 and 2015.  To put this in perspective the United States was covered by a great forest in 1790.  Scientists believe we have 50 years of oil and gas and 120 years of coal remaining.  Although we can use coal to power electric heaters and electric cars, it is a very dirty fuel and is largely responsible for global warming.  As a start, I would suggest that all motorized racing around the world be banned in order to save oil and show people that we are taking this monolithic problem seriously.  Our society is largely based on fossil fuels.  Losing them would cut the ground from beneath us.

Nuclear Energy.  Nuclear power comes from the fission of elements like uranium and plutonium.  Scientists believe that we have 230 years of nuclear energy remaining.  The top 15 countries using nuclear power get an average of 30 percent of their power from it.  I would estimate that once the 50 years of oil and gas run out, coal and nuclear power will only last for another 50 years in that they would then be the primary sources of energy.  The population could go from 7.2 billion to one billion—a reduction to 15 percent of the 2015 value.  In 100 years we would then have 15 percent of the population at the 2015 level consuming 15 percent of the energy also at the 2015 level.

Existentialism in Action.  Kierkegaard and Sartre bookended the philosophy of existentialism, which effectively died with Sartre in 1980.  I am trying to bring it back to life.  Existentialism is the philosophical movement emphasizing individual existence, freedom and choice.  It stresses that individuals have total freedom and total responsibility for the fate of the world.  For man existentialism tells us that existence precedes essence.  Consider a pen for example.  Its essence (ie. its design) comes before its existence.  Alternatively, man arrives on the scene (ie. his existence) then creates his essence.  Consider the Freudian cognitive model has the ego choosing between the id and the superego.  If the ego chooses the id it is existentialism.  If the ego chooses the superego it is behaviorism.  Behaviorism is the model currently used in Western civilization and only asks that we behave ourselves.  I would ask everyone to choose existentialism over behaviorism and the Church—and take responsibility by having no more than two children.

Leading Citizens.  In corporate finance the ultimate goal is to bring all risk factors into a single probability distribution like the normal distribution.  The thinking is that companies try to make risk-reward decisions based on all portfolio risk factors together.  I would argue that decisions on population should also be made together on a global scale.  Even though Canada does not currently have an overpopulation problem, I am asking Canadians to take a step in the right direction with the voluntary child limit of two children per family.  I would then ask all other countries to follow Canada’s lead and implement the same voluntary two-child policy.  Canada’s actions could encourage other nations like the United States to implement child limit policies.  My proposed voluntary two-child policy would get all people everywhere thinking about overpopulation.  What I am proposing here is not a government operation.  It is just one citizen asking other citizens to lead the way.

Power to the People.  I would also ask people to wait until they are age 30 before they start having children.  It would stretch out the length of generations thereby helping to correct overpopulation.  The time between the ages of 18 and 30 would permit young adults to get in touch with their inner, existential selves.  It would allow women to get a university education and start a career before having children.  During this time young people could accumulate some wealth and also realize that they could reincarnate rather than procreate.  My theory of one (2001) puts a scientific spin on reincarnation based on souls.  Souls exist eternally, outside of spacetime and are connected to beings inside spacetime.  Souls can be linked to multiple beings, which is where the notion of soulmates comes from.  One may reincarnate if one has a soul.  Belief in reincarnation is a cornerstone of Eastern Indian philosophy.

A Time for Action.  Woody from the television show Cheers was trying to explain to his wealthy girlfriend that he had no money.  According to Woody—If you take all the money in the world and put it in one place and then take it all away—that is how much money I have.  Most people cannot begin to comprehend the idea of no nonrenewable resources, yet its truth is a mathematical fact.  We are steaming towards the canyon and the bridge is out.  Going from our current population of 7.2 billion people to the target of one billion leaves us with 6.2 billion extra people.  In 100 years we will have no fuel to power our farm equipment and many may starve.  The question is—Would we prefer having 6.2 billion die of starvation rather than never have them existing at all because of child limits?  I am saying that, one way or another, the world’s population is going from 7.2 billion to one billion people in the next 100 years.

Conclusion.  With this essay I have taken an important step toward solving the population and energy problems.  I would argue that this essay should be distributed across Canada and then around the world.  We must value all life including future life which compels us to make self-aware decisions regarding family planning now.  Being self-aware with an existential attitude recognizes ourselves as active agents making conscious choices in which we take full responsibility for planet Earth—which is just 100 years away from coming to a grinding halt as we descend into anarchy like the 1979 post-apocalyptic movie Mad Max.