Population matters

After witnessing first hand the impact that over population can have on my home country of Australia, and the parallels that over population of humans on planet earth link directly to climate events, pollution, etc., it is clear that outside of money and government restrictions, resource sharing is the next biggest factor to constrain us.

I’ve written about how my home country (Australia) has become an over-populated, poorly planned out infrastructure that reduces life quality to the point where it is hard to want to return to live there now.  Don’t get me wrong - I’m an open borders kinda guy.  But I’m open borders for trade - not for mass migration.  And Australia has demonstrated just how bad management by government is destroying the way of life for the average Australian by over-burdening a country that is poorly setup for mass immigration.

In researching this further, one discovers a lot of statistics that are really terrifying.  The first was that human population on planet earth has doubled since the day I was born.  This has never happened in history.  And as I write this the count appears to be 7.7 billion people on planet earth.  It seems like it was only 7.3 billion last year.

There has been a lot of excellent discussions by smart scientists on this, but most of the attention seems to be focused on climate change.  The interesting thing is that if you overlay carbon in the atmosphere over time, against population increase, they are strangely similar graphs.  If anyone argues the fact that humans do not affect climate, clearly they haven’t looked at the number of humans out there and what they are doing to ecology and pollution all around the world.

This panel got little attention at the recent COPA 2019 conference in Spain, but at least some people are willing to talk to the difficult topic of human population.

But this is a topic that we, as humans, don’t want to talk about.  Most of us that don’t travel can’t see what is really happening in the world.  We hear high level statistics like “China has 1.3 billion people” and “India has 1.1 billion”, etc.  But as those countries begin to come into the western world, they are actually making some decent headway to population reduction.

The reason is that women are becoming more educated and the result is that they are having children later in life, which is bringing down the birth rate to either sustaining their current population levels, or reducing it.  Over time this gives some hope that growth will be slowed down.

Thankfully, however, some journalists are willing to tell the tale like it is, namely Chris Packham on the BBC “Horizon” show, and it is downright scary.

It is hard to watch this show because the BBC will wall off access to their content other than to British viewers, but I found someone had shared it for download here:


Why this matters to the unconstrained

Most of what I talk about is how you can individually reduce your financial expenses, use Smart Income to generate money without labor and get control of your life, time and choices back.  That’s great, but what none of us can control is what the resources we need will cost or how available they will be to us.

I learned that 27% of the surface of habitable planet earth is dedicated to farming, and much of the land requirements go to meat production.  I love meat.  I want the choice to eat steaks until the cow’s come home.  But it has to be done in a sustainable form.

The problem is that as we produce more technology that extends life, reduces birth rate death, etc. we create more and more demand on the planet to support that.  If you have ever traveled into a “mega city” before, you know just how life quality goes down as more people have to share resources like roads, water, sanitation, etc.  I spend a bit of time in Mexico City - a city of about 23 million people, and it is very hard to get around, particularly during peak hour.  The same was true when I lived in Los Angeles.  You would never want to go out on the freeway after 3PM or in the morning, yet all of those employees had to do this and their time with families, life quality, etc. was substantially impacted.

Yet it seems these are “first world problems” and we shouldn’t complain.

How Third World Problems become First World Problems

My biggest shock in watching the BBC Horizon documentary was to see the country of Nigeria.  This is a country of poverty.  Yet women are routinely having 8 children.  And living in slums.  WTF is that about?  It is just social culture.  My position is that if you cannot provide a quality of life to a child, you have no right to bring that child into the world.  But I get criticized because historical dogma, ideology and religious belief is opposed to my position for the most part.  I mean who could criticize little babies and not be considered an enemy of society.

But here’s what the result of not taking responsibility seriously looks like:

Millions of people live in the lagoons, in shanty towns that are basically slums.  And yet they are having 8 babies per woman.

Nigeria is becoming an emerging economy, despite its population problems.  And it is sitting on huge deposits of oil off its coastline.  So this population epidemic will spill over to more food and water consumption, and then trash & pollution, etc. and eventually emmigration out of the slums to the rest of the world.  

And with that, we all must shoulder the burden of this.  It doesn’t stop in one country - this problem is continuing without anyone shining a light on it because politically or socially it doesn’t present well.  People like nice, happy stories.  Maybe shock & awe works for wars, etc. but it doesn’t seem to work when you put a mirror in someone’s face and tell them that they have to change their attitude or life quality goes down.

However thinking that issues like over population in Nigeria has no impact on our lives, its solidly wrong and naive at best.  Look at the impact of this on pollution and climate.  And if you want to see how that looks, consider the plight of Australian bushfires.

I’ve complained about human population issues in Australia and how Australia is the “canary in the coal mine” before.  But if you want to see the ripple effect of this outside of pure congestion and bad resource management, look at the drought & bushfire impact that climate change is having.  If you want that as your backyard (and yes, I know, Northern California already has that), then just keep doing what we are doing.

The risks to the unconstrained

Being unconstrained is about having a quality of life increase.  Take away the burden of financial debt, get your time back, get your ability to roam the planet and learn, find opportunities and prosper.  Sounds great.

However if there are 10 billion humans on this planet, your opportunities are now shared with more and more people, meaning that it becomes a feeding frenzy.  I mean if you think that Black Friday shopping at Walmart is crazy, think about what it will take to find new opportunities in the world when you increase population by 30% in 10 or so years. 

But with that, all the costs of disaster cleanup affects our insurance premiums, taxes, and the DJIA.  Yes, the Federal Reserve won’t be able to pull enough levers to hide the inflation that will come from increased disasters.  And more so, when you put more people into a fixed space, fights break out.  When that comes to nation states, that means more wars, more land grabs, more resource grabs, etc.

Your small town with low population might get consumed by the larger cities, or become impossible to have a decent life quality due to the costs of bringing resources to the town that are not locally available, forcing more people to move to cities and creating more Los Angeles or Bostons or Chicago, where commutes are next to impossible.  If you don’t like living shoulder to shoulder with others, then you are going to have to move because they are moving in on your turf.  That’s because humans are being given no other choice.

What to do?

First thing is simple and it goes to our general mantra - get a 2nd or 3rd passport.  You need to be nimble so you can move away as the resources get consumed.  But where to?  Well that’s where we will monitor creative and peaceful places that one can move to.  I’m seeing so many opportunities in my travels of places that are well setup for larger populations by quality city planning.  And no, technology won’t save you here.  New roads are not going to come from Silicon Valley.  Countries that are investing in infrastructure will become the destination spots.

And assume you will have to move a few times.  As more people discover what you discover, they will move in.  Then you might want to consider moving out.  

If you know that migration might be a part of your strategy, then moving what you do to portable offerings could be a great idea.  Internet based income works because it can follow you around.  And if you are able to move out of the city center to the fringe, you might be able to find a place with great resources and population levels that are decent and comfortable.  

You need adequate water supply, low cost of housing and decent transport infrastructure.  Add to that education for your kids, etc.  Let’s face it - you don’t need a lot of retail stores these days with delivery services to your door from Amazon, etc.   Media is readily available everywhere now - streaming services are not regional for the most part.  Communications with the Internet is worldwide and easy to find access.  5G will further that dramatically.

Being less locked to a physical location is far more reasonable these days, but I’m seeing that this may not be a luxury, but to the unconstrained it will be a necessity.  As populations rise and resource depletion starts to occur, you will literally have to (to steal the phrase from Andrew Henderson at Nomad Capitalist), “go where you are treated best”.

You know I do that.  You know my stories about health care in foreign countries and the benefits that are brought there.  But if your local population starts to swell and puts further burden on hospitals, etc. then you will see a lower quality of service as health care professionals can’t handle the quantity of patients and start to ration services.

The same is true in education.  Larger class sizes.   And in local policing - longer wait times for a police officer to attend a crime scene.

And costs go up and up and up.  This is happening now.  To pretend it away with lies in inflation numbers just serves a corrupt government and banking cartel that work in collusion to serve the power hungry and not serve the people.  Look at how much it costs to get by these days and compare that with what it cost 10 years ago.  

Population matters

I’m not telling you to stop having babies.  I’m telling you that you need to be nimble and ready to confront this oncoming problem as it becomes more and more of an issue over the next five to ten years.  That’s not that long - I mean we look at those time horizons for investment returns, etc. but if you are banking on future returns outside of those time periods, then you need to realize that with increasing populations, you need to be the provider of the physiological services that an increasing population requires - food, shelter & clothing.  Because although those things might not feel “sexy” as things to invest in, with world population growing at the rate it is, it will inflate the prices of those things as supply & demand factor into price discovery.

AI, Robotics, Biotech, etc. are all wonderful.  But they are distractions to the real challenges and I hate to say this, but climate change is not a root cause.  It is simply a result of world population and humans literally destroying planet earth.  Our planet.  The domain of the unconstrained.

Be ready, be vigilent and be informed.  Population matters.

  • Bubba Bubbalicious 4 years ago
    Wakeham has many points I heartedly agree with. His example all go to point out the core, underlying issue that threatens human civilization, overpopulation. For myself, I've been a common sense Malthusian ever since I was introduced to his writings. The reason we don’t hear about him is confirmation bias leads many to believe that technology and the agricultural revolution has “solved” the issue of overpopulation. The fundamental myth is that technological efficiencies, that make more from less, can keep pace with exponential population growth. The former, production technology, only tends to grow geometrically in its benefits. It cannot keep pace with an exponentially growing population. Email is a good example. We still cut down more trees than before its invention, regardless of how many forests it's saved from being felled. So invention has staved off the reckoning, not prevented it. We are not sustainable and technology only delays the inevitable. As to Wakeham’s proposal to be unconstrained, I have even offered that advice to my upperclass friends in regards to their children. "Your kids will be fine, since they speak another language and have educations that make them useful abroad." But that advice is only to console or put perspective on their individual situation; "Will my children's lives be better?" In reality, the increased of likelihood of resource wars, which is the United States main interest in the Middle East, trumps all these well made plans. China is already subsuming much of Africa and other parts of the world for resources. They are simply following the European/US behavior, a natural human behavior. Is the chance of nuclear armageddon greater with a world of 10 billion fighting over less more possible? Common sense says yes. In the event of extreme environmental degradation, a world conflagration seems inevitable. This is where I depart from Wakeham. In a less individualistic and more humanitarian bent, I advocate that we push far more resources towards demanding that women around the world be educated and be brought into the modern age. They should have the same lives that their western counterparts have, including political and economic power. This is not feminism for the sake of feminism, but for the sake of all of humanity. Had this started in the 60's, with all the well meaning aid that the West has sent abroad, we would not be at nearly 8 billion people, and hope for the future might still exist. My second generation Nigerian family members all have 2 kids or less. The women all have college degrees. Let’s force that on the world rather than simple humanitarian assistance without conditions. As Wakeham pointed out, more educated women have less children. It’s a win-win, but that’s not an international meme . . . yet . . . Without this becoming an accepted meme in foreign aid culture, I see no hope. Not even New Zealand is a safe haven from the eschaton, at least not for Wakeham’s great grand children. Disclosure: American, Rich, White, Male, No Children. 23 Countries Visited including multiple slums. I'm as unconstrained as you can get, but without hope for my brethren, libertarianism doesn't really work for me or really most of us.
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