Tanstaafl: The Economic Strategy for Economic Crisis
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Critics are warning that at almost six and a half billion people currently inhabiting the world, we are coming dangerously close to the sustainable capacity of planet Earth. Overpopulation and attempts to control the whirlwind of reproduction that is plaguing both developing and developed nations has been dog-eared as one of the major concerns for the United Nations at the recent summit in Johannesburg. Both Edwin Dolan and Charles Southwick have cited the population explosion that started post-industrialization in their respective excerpts &endash; “TANSTAAFL: The Economic Strategy for Economic Crisis” and Global Ecology and Human Perspective – as a problem deserving serious attention both in academia and the international front. However, both mens arguments contain some rather significant holes for several reasons. The first is perhaps often overlooked when discussing the Earths ultimate capacity in terms of human population. What is a sustainable number of persons on the Earth? How is it to be measured? What basic human rights should be ensured to every man, woman, and child, and how can these rights be ensured without a redistribution of wealth? In essence, can overpopulation and economic disparity be separated? Southwick discusses this, but gives no decisive verdict on how the two are actually related, while Dolan claims that the issue is of less urgency than commonly perceived.

Furthermore, both authors are failing to include rather important viewpoints into their arguments that ultimately results in the weakening of their chosen position. Dolan argues that population growth when coupled with the technological progress will eventually level off and the problem will more or less disappear. He is claiming a tech fix is inevitable, but ignores the problems with applying this tech fix to the lesser developed nations that are being most violently effected by the population boom. Conversely, Southwick argues that human population growth is virtually unstoppable and will only be curbed with significant global legislature and aide or worldwide catastrophe. He ignores many of the arguments, such as the possibilities of a technological solution, which Dolan is presenting. However, when the two essays are combined, they provide a more comprehensive picture of what global population growth actually looks like, and give the reader a better sense of how the problem will develop and therefore must be handled in the near and distant future.

The first question of interest &endash; what actually constitutes overpopulation &endash; receives no answer of adequate definition in either of the works. While Southwick does not outwardly define the term, he does note that human population growth is “one of the greatest problems in global ecology and a major driving force of environmental degradation (Southwick, 160).” His meaning seems to point to the environmental consequences of too many people in any confined area and thus depleting their resources beyond repletion. However, he goes on to mention seven other points, presumably which he connects to overpopulation, but dont seem to have any immediate ties to his initial description. The fact that one out of four adults cannot read or write (Southwick, 160) does not necessarily point to an overpopulation problem, but rather a problem with the distribution of wealth and thus educational opportunities. Is Southwick suggesting that a population of only 2 billion would result in total literacy? It seems highly implausible. We cant even manage total literacy in the U.S. with overreaching legislation, never mind if we were to spread our population across the span of the entire globe. He, like so many others in the discussion of overpopulation, clouds the issue and refuses to separate it with the poverty problems in our country and world. They are based on the assumption that fewer people would result in a more equal distribution of wealth, disregarding the natural human tendency to hoard for ones future progeny. Fewer people would not necessarily mean more money for all. It could very likely result in an even larger poverty gap like that which was experienced pre- Industrial Revolution.

Likewise, Dolan skirts the issue of what the definition of overpopulation is altogether, focusing instead on how the rate of growth we are currently experiencing will eventually curb itself. But in doing so, he fails to identify what the problem with this increasing growth rate really is and why it needs to stop at all. He claims there are “fixed environmental limits (Dolan, 56)” but never goes into what they are, at what capacity they will be reached, or what ramifications they will have. The problem just seems to be understood to be

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Charles Southwick And Edwin Dolan. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/charles-southwick-and-edwin-dolan-essay/