Sunday, April 3, 2016

Debunking the Debunking

We've been over this before, but it seems to bear repeating. Someone tried to bring it up to me as a debate point, so here I go again.

There's this whole group dedicated to "debunking the myth of overpopulation." Actually, they've distilled it down to three easy steps. That's all it takes to prove that we are not overpopulating the planet. I can beat them. I can debunk their debunking by their third paragraph. Observe:

"... let’s define overpopulation. Overpopulation describes a situation where the number of people exhausts the resources in a closed environment such that it can no longer support that population.
Let’s imagine that our PRI offices were to suddenly become a closed environment, with nothing allowed in our out. Obviously, I and my colleagues would exhaust the available resources very quickly: The water cooler would be drained dry, the refrigerator would be emptied out, and the oxygen would be all used up.  
Obviously, my office has too many people for its natural resources, but I haven’t started trying to eliminate my co-workers to ensure my own survival.  I haven’t launched a sterilization campaign against my younger colleagues or encouraged my older colleagues to jump out of the windows.  Why?
Well, of course, I am constrained by Catholic moral teaching.  But aside from that, I know that my office is not a closed environment. Neither are most instances cited by overpopulation zealots, such as crowded cities or poor countries.  None of these are closed environments."
Well, there's the problem right there. What's the problem? They make no sense. At this point I start to feel it's unfair to even pick apart their points, because really they just aren't good points to being with. They are defining overpopulation (supposedly), but they aren't defining a "closed environment." Sure, they can leave their office. Sure, people can leave the cities. Sure, people can leave poor countries. But at the end of it all, we are still just on one planet, which would seem to indicate a "closed environment." Unless they have a spaceship and another M-class planet that they haven't mentioned.

Until they define "closed environment," I can't be swayed but this.

We haven't even gotten into their three reasons and they have already lost anyone with any sense. I like to hope, anyway. But let's entertain them a bit longer and look at their three reasons that they think overpopulation is a myth:

1) “Food: there isn’t enough!” Since the time of Thomas Malthus, who lived in the early 1800s, doomsayers have gloomily predicted that mankind would outbreed its food supply, resulting in catastrophic famines.  Yet the world currently produces enough food to feed 10 billion people, and there are only 7 billion of us. That is, with 7 billion human minds at work, we produce enough food for 10 billion human bodies. Imagine how much food we can produce with 10 billion minds!

This one kind of makes me squint - you know that look you can't help but get on your face when you are talking to someone and you start to suspect they aren't all there ... like this:

They seem to be missing out on a few points here. How much waste is created by that food? How much of that food is actually healthy and sustainably produced? How much harm are we inflicting on the environment producing that "food"? For that matter, define food. Oh, they go on, but they really don't get much better. So I keep this expression on my face. Oh - and I like Malthus. He knew stuff.

2) “We are running out of water!” The earth is awash in water.  Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet’s surface to an average depth of 6,000 feet.  That’s why the earth looks blue from space.  You cannot use up or destroy water; you can only change its state (from liquid to solid or gas) or contaminate it so that it is undrinkable.

Wow. See the picture above. Or, let's just look at actual facts rather than Fox News talking points:
  1. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.
  2. Clean Water Crisis - Environment - National Geographic
Um .. I'm gonna have to go with Nat Geo on this one. Oceans? Yeah, sure. Here's a glass of ocean water. Drink it. Go ahead. I'll wait. Finish it! And yes, we are actually contaminating it at an alarming rate as well. Because, you know, feeding 10 billion people creates a lot of waste that goes into where? Water supply. Oh, and while our glaciers are melting, to where are they melting? INto the oceans. So the fresh water locked up there becomes ... say it with me ... ocean water. Drink it.

I almost can't go on. But I must, to #3.

3) “But we’re growing exponentially!”  Um,...No. We’re not. We are growing, but definitely not at an exponential rate. In fact, our rates of growth are declining. Between 1950 and 2000, the world population grew at a rate of 1.76%. Between 2000 and 2050, it is expected to grow by 0.77 percent. So yes, because 0.77 is greater than zero, it is a positive growth rate, and the world population will continue to grow.

Give me a minute. My brain went all squishy and tried to ooze out my ear for a short time there. Um ... yes, yes we are. If our rates of growth are declining, how is population still increasing? Is it increasing more slowly? In some areas, perhaps. But they contradict themselves all in one paragraph. So I don't even feel the need to argue it. I'm hoping sense prevails with most people reading this. And let's just put this right here: 1.76% of 5 billion versus .77% of 7 billion. See what I'm saying? Exponential - they keep using that word. I don't think it means what they think it means.

They go on to spout a few fun facts which really just leave me despondent. Here's the link to the page if you really want to check them out. You've been warned.
I've glossed over some of the points. I had to. Really, if there are people that are falling for this, there's really no hope for them anyway.

Let's all enjoy a moment of silence.

Thanks to Futurama for an endless supply of Fry faces from which to choose.