Guaranteed Livable Income* and Population Part 2 (of 3)
by C.A. L'Hirondelle, July 12, 2011, updated 2016



Total world population is still rising; but fertility rates around the world are falling. This means world population will increase, peak, and then decrease. Even in countries with the highest fertility rates, birth rates are also falling.


"By 2050, according to the latest United Nations projections, 75 percent of all countries, even in underdeveloped regions, will be reproducing at below replacement levels..." — Philip Longman, The Empty Cradle; how falling birthrates threaten world prosperity, 2004

"As recently as 2002, twenty African countries had an average of six children per woman. But by 2008, only nine did. Several -including Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Kenya- have seen their fertility fall by more than a third." — Fred Pearce, Population Crash, 2010

Population growth rates
peaked in 1960s
Population annual increase peaked
(87 million) in the late 1980s

Total world population growth...
usually the only chart shown
regarding overpopulation.
World pop growth: Less developed countries, light green, more developed countries, dark green. PRB


"Personally I think we would be wise to aim at a stabilized population of about half to one billion, and then we would be free to live in many different ways without harming Gaia." — James Lovelock, Revenge of Gaia

James Lovelock in his 2008 book The Revenge of Gaia says that the world would be best with 1 billion people. However, it is not human numbers but human actions that determine how green our planet can be. Without changing the economic system, a billion people could still obliterate the environment if they were a billion power-obsessed, nuclear bomb-toting maniacs each hell-bent on world domination.

Of course population size is a factor, but it is not the deciding factor. What determines the level of environmental harm is not the number of people on the planet, but the number and scope of harmful activities. And it is the economic system that drives and determines those activities.

"[H]owever small the population was, if you had an economy that demanded that farming should be designed to make money rather than feed people a proportion will always starve."
—Colin Tudge, BBC interview*

As indigenous philosopher Vine Deloria Jr. has pointed out, Western economic practices are driven by an apocalyptic world view that sees the planet as something to plunder. (God is Red - a must-read book.)

In a post-GLI world, people may still have destructive consumption habits, but consumption patterns would drastically change because much consumption is driven by stress. Since people would have more peace of mind, less stress, and more time to learn skills and form friendships, consumption would likely change from status-seeking acquisition to meaningful expression-seeking forms of creativity. 

People have difficulty seeing how economics is the deciding factor in the ruination of the environment partly due to the deep moral and cultural roots of the mythology of 'hard work.'

As Upton Sinclair stated: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

It is much easier to blame overpopulation for all social and environmental ills than to challenge status quo ideas about work and economics. In other words, blame mom and avoid the wrath of Captains of Industry and their army of pundits.

If human society is determined to continue with an economic system that requires vast waste of natural resources — and wars over those resources — then even a relatively small number of people could easily turn the planet into a giant crispy crouton in space. It is not human numbers but human actions - determined by a human invented but changeable economics system - that will determine what kind of a planet we will be living on.

If humanity does not recognize that the driving force causing environmental destruction is economic activities and not human numbers, there is no way to save environment because the true cause of the destruction will remain hidden and unchallenged.



Next: Part 3 - How Overpopulation Alarmism leads to some Very Bad Things


CIA World Factbook (see drop down menu for "People")

*Colin Tudge - It Is Easy to Feed the World ( for opposing view, see anti-Tudge article)

Vanessa Baird - No-Nonsense Guide to World Population (a must read)

Fred Pearce - Population Crash (2010 book)


Related articles by C.A. L'Hirondelle
C.A. L'Hirondelle has been researching and writing about guaranteed livable income from a grassroots perspective since 1998.

*Along with guaranteed livable income (GLI), other terms for this policy include:
basic income guarantee, basic income grant, citizen's income, citizen's basic income,
minimum income guarantee, national dividend, citizen's dividend, guaranteed annual income, LIFE grants (Livable Income For Everyone), Participation Income, and Buckminster Fuller's Lifetime Fellowship. See Intro.


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