[Taxacom] Pro-natalism vs. biodiversity

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Fri Jan 29 09:25:42 CST 2010

We'll always have biodiversity of a sort. Let's see, 7 billion people
times 130 pounds per person = 910 billion pounds of biomass. Think of
all the diseases! A burgeoning new universe for the real rulers of

Richard H. Zander 
Voice: 314-577-0276
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
richard.zander at mobot.org
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site:

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Bob Mesibov
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2010 8:02 PM
To: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Pro-natalism vs. biodiversity

With respect, Richard, there is no solution. By that I mean neither
better education for women nor the elimination of poverty will have a
significant impact on biodiversity loss.

There are already too many people, and optimistic UN demographers
forecast a plateau of 9 billion, up from the current ca 7 billion, in a
few decades. Even assuming we do plateau, the sustained environmental
impact of that many people will be the continued steady loss of Earth's
biological resources. It isn't our increase that's causing species loss,
it's just our being here and living our ordinary lives. We need land and
water, and the only way we can get those is to take them from other
species. We're careless about resource use and waste disposal, which
leads to further extinction. We facilitate invasions by diseases,
parasites and animal and plant weeds, which lead to further extinction.
We've apparently modified the Earth's climate, which will lead to
further extinction. These four things (and perhaps others) are the
drivers of biodiversity loss, and neither reducing the birth rate nor
raising living standards addresses the core problem, which is that there
are too many 
 people *now*.

There's lots of debate about when people went into ecological overshoot;
some observers think it was the 1970s. I suspect it was during my
lifetime of 64 years, during which world population increased about
2.7X; I expect it will have tripled from my birth year when I die.
That's interesting but the carrying capacity of the Earth for humans
isn't the issue here. It's how many of the living things that we
taxonomists study can be carried on an Earth full of humans. What's the
nadir-flat (opposite of plateau?) for biodiversity?
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html


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