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The following opinion editorial was written by Leon Kolankiewicz of Progressives for Immigration Reform:

For some time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been using his ample platform to sound off about population: not the world’s continuing, disastrous human population boom, but what he foresees as an impending population collapse.

At a time when the Earth continues to add more than 80 million people annually – year in, year out – because of so many more annual births than deaths (approximately 140 million vs. 55 million), fears of a collapsing global population would appear to be misguided, uninformed or, at the very least, premature.

After all, every single day the planet must provide for about 220,000 more human beings than the day before. This is an extraordinary burden on the biosphere, one that, among other things, is replacing millions of nonhuman creatures on Earth with ever more human flesh.

The weight of all humans alive today is an estimated 32 times greater than all terrestrial vertebrate wildlife – all wild mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined! And tomorrow the ratio will be even more lopsided as long as the human population explosion continues.

We can’t continue adding more people forever to a finite planet with a shrinking resource base and a beleaguered climate.

But what will end the population explosion: a decreasing birth rate or an increasing death rate?

Musk emphatically believes the former, and to some extent at least, he is right. The global birth rate has decreased by about 50 percent over the last half century. In countries as diverse as Iran, China, Brazil and the U.S., women are having far fewer children than they used to.

By and large, this has been a very good thing, for those women, their families and the overburdened Earth.

Yet Musk believes the pendulum toward lower births has swung too far, to such an extent that sub-replacement fertility rates in much of the world now portend imminent population shrinkage. He believes this is the biggest problem the world now faces, reiterating these views as recently as August 29 in Shanghai, China.

In a gabfest on stage at the 2019 World Artificial Intelligence Conference, Musk pontificated that: “Most people think we have too many people on the planet, but actually, this is an outdated view. The biggest issue in 20 years will be population collapse. Not explosion. Collapse.”

Elon Musk may be a brilliant – if eccentric and erratic – pot-smoking entrepreneur, engineer, billionaire, visionary and wannabe colonizer of Mars, but he is no demographer. Neither is he an ecologist or environmental scientist. And it shows.

Many ecological and earth scientists like myself concur with Musk that the bloated human population may collapse in this century. But not from too many people going childless or having smaller families.

We believe that if it happens, population collapse will be from rising death rates as a result of human civilization having grossly overshot global carrying capacity, that is, the ability of Earth’s environment and resources to sustain human population and consumption levels in perpetuity.

Professor Bill Rees of the University of British Columbia, inventor of the ecological footprint concept (out of which the carbon footprint emerged), has written recently that:

“The current population is well into ‘overshoot’, soaring beyond global carrying capacity….contemporary population and economic growth are being ‘financed’ through the liquidation of once-abundant stocks of so-called ‘natural capital’ and by over-filling natural waste sinks. (That’s what tropical deforestation, plunging biodiversity, ocean pollution, soil depletion and climate change are all about.)”

Rees adds that we must “conceive and implement a global fertility strategy to reduce the human population to the 2-3 billion people that might be able to live in material comfort on this already much-damaged single planet Earth.”

Earlier this year, leading Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann tweeted that:

“Climate change is simply one axis in a multi-dimensional problem that is environmental sustainability. They all stem from the same problem – too many people using too many natural resources. We probably already exceed the planet’s carrying capacity by a factor of eight.”

I trust these two (and many other) seasoned earth scientists’ views on human population much more than I do Musk’s. One gets the impression that he is more focused on colonizing Mars than safeguarding Earth.

If we humans cannot or will not voluntarily undertake the implied downsizing that is in order, nature will do it for us, but brutally.

Environmental scientist and wildlife biologist Leon Kolankiewicz is an advisory board member with Progressives for Immigration Reform.

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  1. All the pontificating in the world about overpopulation, under-population is just that… pontificating. They cite the burden on the earth and climate change as they fly in their prized private jets. When these rich men of mediocre intelligence talk, it all boils down to blather! They just try to make themselves more important than they really are.
    The earth is not overburdened. There aren’t too many or too few people inhabiting this planet. But there are too many people thinking they know best when they haven’t figured in the “God Factor”. Do they know God? Don’t they realize God has everything under control? He’s the one who made the earth and He’s the one who controls the weather, the population, the everything! This concept is too much for them to comprehend because it would diminish their self-importance.
    He also knows those the hypocrites who pollute this earth and then tell everyone to cut back, recycle, have few babies, while they bask in opulence, don’t think twice about what can and cannot be re-used and send their hordes of progeny to far away schools, on their private jets, so the kids can’t see or hear them make asses of themselves using a plethora of well chosen words.
    If under-population was truly Mr. Musk’s concern, perhaps he should support the pro-life movement. Mr. Musk and those opposing his views should take a close look at a common calendar. Climate change happens 4 times a year, totally predictable. While it is true we should should be good stewards of our beautiful planet, any plan man contrives is just an attempt to grab money from the hardworking in order to support the self-proclaimed, egocentric experts. Carbon footprint? Yeah, that’s what you get while camping and step into a dead fire pit and get into your vehicle. There’s the true carbon footprint!
    My concern is that these over-educated, self-important experts of theory have no common sense but people are listening to them spew ‘expertly’ on things over which they have no control or resolution! In short they are idiots, money grabbers, deceivers, liars. I suggest that we give God a chance to control what He made. He is the only expert.


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