China: population policy

Xueyong suggested that by improving rural women's education, China can achieve a better population policy (zh).


  • Perhaps you and your colleagues can assist me and my generation of elders to understand what behavior changes might be required of us so that a good enough future can be granted to our children by responding to the following questions.

    Please take a moment to explain what you expect will occur that results in the stabilization of population numbers of the human species on Earth in the year 2050, given the fully anticipated young age distribution of a global population of 9+/- billion people at that time? What do you suppose billions of fertile young people, who are expected to be capable of reproducing in mid-century, will be doing with their sexual instincts and drives other than what human beings have been doing during the past several thousand years?



  • What do you imagine the human world will be like in 2050 when the human population worldwide is widely expected to reach 9.2 billion people?

    It seems to me that Russell Hopfenberg’s apparently unforeseen scientific evidence regarding the population dynamics of the human species is suggesting several things to us:

    1. Free, immediate and universal access to contraception is required;

    2. Open access to family and health planning education is made available to everyone;

    3. The time for the economic and social empowerment of women is now.

    4. As a means of accelerating the present downward movement in birth rates in some countries, a VOLUNTARY policy of one child per family would be initiated worldwide.

    5. The many human beings who are suffering the unhealthy effects of obesity will share their over-abundant resources with many too many people who are starving.

    6. Every effort to conserve energy and scarce material resources will be implemented, beginning now.

    7. Substanitial economic incentives are necessary for the development of energy resources as alternatives to fossil fuels.

    8. Overhaul national tax systems so that conspicuous per human over- consumption of limited resources is meaningfully put at a disadvantage.

    9. Humanity needs a new economic system, one that is subordinated to democratic principles and more adequately meets the basic needs of a majority of humanity who could choose to live better lives with lesser amounts of energy and natural resources.

    9. Overall, what is to be accomplished is a fair, more equitable and evolutionarily sustainable distribution of the world’s tangible (e.g., food) and intangible (e.g., education) resources, as soon as possible.

    Thanks for your consideration of these proposals.

    With thanks to all,


  • Plainly, what is necessary now is intellectual honesty and courage as well as a willingness to begin “centering” the attention of the leaders of the human community on the threat to humanity, life as we know it, the environment and the integrity of Earth that is posed by the gigantic scale and evidently unsustainable growth rate of the human population worldwide.

  • The leaders in my not-so-great generation wish to live without having to accept limits to growth of seemingly endless economic globalization, increasing per capita consumption and skyrocketing human population numbers; their desires are evidently insatiable; they choose to believe anything that is politically convenient and economically expedient; and they act accordingly; but, despite all their shared fantasies and soon to be unsustainable activities, Earth exists in space-time, is relatively small and bounded, and has limited resources upon which the survival of life as we know it depends. Whatsoever is is, is it not?

  • Dear Friends,

    Let’s get real. Time is of the essence and is slipping away.

    In the final analysis, IMHO, please note that the human community may be governed in our time by a wealth-worshipping, power-driven structure that chooses to protect nothing else, ultimately, but the endless growth of economic globalization. Despite all their posing, the self-proclaimed masters of the universe these children of men, these men playing God, these soon-to-be erstwhile leaders of the global economy have its unobstructed, unsustainable growth continuously in mind. The ‘success’ of the political economy is their raison d’etre. That their relentless insistence upon infinite growth of the world’s human economy and for unrestrained per capita consumption of Earth’s irreplaceable resources is scheduled become patently unmaintainable later in Century XXI, is not something they want to discuss. Afterall, for the heirs of Ozymandias SILENCE IS GOLDEN.

    Always, with thanks to each of you,


  • I remain convinced that the work of Dr. Jack Alpert has not yet received the attention it deserves.

    Basically, his work calls out to the human community to immediately begin reversing the current trend of skyrocketing absolute global population numbers by implementing a program of rapid population decline. Rather than near exponential population expansion, he is advocating rapid population contraction.

    What his work indicates is the need for a worldwide, “ONE CHILD PER FAMILY” initiative. He is not the only person to be advocating such a plan of action. Alan Weisman, the author of The World Without Us, has come to precisely the same conclusion.

    Just for a moment, imagine that the majority plus one of the human community accepted the idea that what we are doing now by adamantly advocating and relentlessly pursuing certain distinctly human overgrowth activities would eventually lead to the collapse of either human civilization or Earth’s ecology or both. Let us also suppose that this majority plus one agreed that the ethical thing to do was not to keep doing what we are doing now, but something different. If having multiple human offspring was unethical and having not more than one child per family was ethical, in part because such a program of action would have survival value for the human species, its global economy, other species and the integrity of Earth, then it seems to me that humanity would naturally and democratically move in a new direction, along another path, perhaps to a good enough future for our children and generations to come.

    This perspective makes one thing crystal clear: if humankind chooses to follow the current primorse path of endless economic globalization, endless per human consumption and endless population expansion, a colossal wreckage of some kind is in offing.

    In light of the great work being done by the contributors to this discussion by the members of the Orion community, I would like to ask humbly that you turn your attention to a website, one I presented some time ago.

    Once there, I would like to suggest that you begin by reviewing what Jack calls SKIL Notes. There are now 45 of them and they are mercifully short. These Notes show a certain careful and skillful development of thinking about resolving THE PROBLEM that presents itself to humanity now as the proverbial ‘mother’ of all global challenges, I believe.

    Always, with thanks,



    Humanity is the greatest challenge

    John Feeney

    The growth in human population and rising consumption have exceeded the planet’s ability to support us, argues John Feeney. In this week’s Green Room, he says it is time to ring the alarm bells and take radical action in order to avert unspeakable consequences.

    We humans face two problems of desperate importance. The first is our global ecological plight. The second is our difficulty acknowledging the first.

    Despite increasing climate change coverage, environmental writers remain reluctant to discuss the full scope and severity of the global dilemma we’ve created. Many fear sounding alarmist, but there is an alarm to sound and the time for reticence is over.

    We’ve outgrown the planet and need radical action to avert unspeakable consequences. This – by a huge margin -has become humanity’s greatest challenge.

    If we’ve altered the climate, it should come as no surprise that we have damaged other natural systems. From deforestation to collapsing fisheries, desertification, the global spread of chemical toxins, ocean dead zones, and the death of coral reefs, an array of interrelated declines is evidence of the breadth of our impact.

    Add the depletion of finite resources such as oil and ground-water, and the whole of the challenge upon us emerges.

    Barring decisive action, we are marching, heads down, toward global ecological collapse.

    Web of life

    We’re dismantling the web of life, the support system upon which all species depend. We could have very well entered the “sixth mass extinction”; the fifth having wiped out the dinosaurs.

    Human activity is threatening the web of life, warns Mr Feeney
    Though we like to imagine we are different from other species, we humans are not exempt from the threats posed by ecological degradation.

    Analysts worry, for example, about the future of food production. Climate change-induced drought and the depletion of oil and aquifers – resources on which farming and food distribution depend – could trigger famine on an unprecedented scale.

    Billions could die. At the very least, we risk our children inheriting a bleak world, empty of the richness of life we take for granted.

    Alarmist? Yes, but realistically so.

    The most worrisome aspect of this ecological decline is the convergence in time of so many serious problems. Issues such as oil and aquifer depletion and climate change are set to reach crisis points within decades.

    Biodiversity loss is equally problematic. As a result of their ecological interdependence, the extinction of species can trigger cascade effects whereby impacts suddenly and unpredictably spread. We’re out of our league, influencing systems we don’t understand.

    Any of these problems could disrupt society. The possibility of them occurring together is enough to worry even the most optimistic among rational observers.

    Some credible analyses conclude we’ve postponed action too long to avoid massive upheaval and the best we can do now is to soften the blow. Others hold out hope of averting catastrophe, though not without tough times ahead.

    One thing is certain: continued inaction or half-hearted efforts will be of no help – we’re at a turning point in human history.

    Though few seem willing to confront the facts, it’s no secret how we got here. We simply went too far. The growth which once measured our species’ success inevitably turned deadly.

    Unceasing economic growth, increasing per capita resource consumption, and global population growth have teamed with our reliance on finite reserves of fossil energy to exceed the Earth’s absorptive and regenerative capacities.

    Getting a grip

    We are now in “overshoot”; our numbers and levels of consumption having exceeded the Earth’s capacity to sustain us for the long-term.

    And as we remain in overshoot, we further erode the Earth’s ability to support us.

    Inevitably, our numbers will come down, whether voluntarily or through such natural means as famine or disease.

    So what can get us out of this mess? First comes awareness. Those in a position to inform must shed fears of alarmism and embrace the truth.

    More specifically, we need ecological awareness. For instance, we must “get” that we are just one among millions of interdependent species.

    It’s imperative we reduce personal resource consumption. The relocalisation movement promoted by those studying oil depletion is a powerful strategy in that regard.

    We need a complete transition to clean, renewable energy. It can’t happen overnight, but reliance on non-renewable energy is, by definition, unsustainable.

    But there is a caveat: abundant clean energy alone will not end our problems. There remains population growth which increases consumption of resources other than energy.

    We have to rethink the corporate economic growth imperative. On a finite planet, the physical component of economic growth cannot continue forever.

    In fact, it has gone too far already. As a promising alternative, the field of ecological economics offers the “steady state economy”.

    We must end world population growth, then reduce population size. That means lowering population numbers in industrialised as well as developing nations.

    Scientists point to the population-environment link. But today’s environmentalists avoid the subject more than any other ecological truth. Their motives range from the political to a misunderstanding of the issue.

    Neither justifies hiding the truth because total resource use is the product of population size and per capita consumption. We have no chance of solving our environmental predicament without reducing both factors in the equation.

    Fortunately, expert consensus tells us we can address population humanely by solving the social problems that fuel it.

    Implementing these actions will require us all to become activists, insisting our leaders base decisions not on corporate interests but on the health of the biosphere.

    Let’s make the effort for today’s and tomorrow’s children.

    John Feeney PhD is an environmental writer and activist in Boulder, Colorado, US. His online project is

    The Green Room is a series of opinion pieces on environmental topics running weekly on the BBC News website

  • Something is happening that many too many people appear not to be seeing, I suppose.

    Scientific evidence is springing up everywhere that indicates the massive and pernicious impact of the human species on the limited resources of Earth, its frangible ecosystems and life as we know it.

    Guided by mountains of carefully and skillfully developed research regarding climate change, top rank scientists like Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Hans J. Schellnhuber and Dr. Christopher Rapley issued a Climate Code Red emergency declaration this month to leaders of governments and to the family of humanity proclaiming the necessity for open discussion and action by politicians and economic powerbrokers.

    From my humble perspective, many leaders of the global political economy are turning a blind eye to human over-consumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities that can be seen recklessly dissipating the natural resources and dangerously degrading the environs of our planetary home. The Earth is being ravaged; but it appears many leaders are willfully refusing to acknowledge what is happening.

    Because the emerging global challenges that could soon be presented to humanity appear to so many fine scientists as human-induced, leaders have responsibilities to assume and duties to perform, ready or not, like them or not.

    Perhaps leadership in our time has too often chosen to ignore whatsoever is somehow real in order to believe whatever is politically convenient, economically expedient, socially agreeable, religiously tolerated and culturally prescribed. When something real directly conflicts with what leaders wish to believe, that reality is denied. It appears that too many leaders are content to hold tightly to widely shared and consensually validated specious thinking when it serves their personal interests.

    Is humanity once again finding life as we know it dominated by a modern Tower of Babel called economic globalization? That is, has human thinking, judging and willing become so egregiously impaired by our idolatry of the artificially designed, manmade, global political economy that we cannot speak intelligibly about anything else except economic growth and profits without sounding like blithering idiots?

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