Jason Brent: Humans: An Endangered Species I: The Power of Compound Population & Economic Growth


Part: 0102030405.

Copyright by Jason G. Brent
Jan. 1, 2008, Jan.1, 2009, and July 17, 2010


  1. Introduction
  2. The Book Begins
  3. Smart Growth, Dumb Option
  4. Recycling has its limits
  5. Space Travel Not the Answer
  6. The Power of Compound Growth
  7. Declining Growth Rates Mask a Coming YouthQuake
  8. The Exploding Growth of the Indian Sub-Continent
  9. Gambling Our Future on Statistical Projections
  10. There Isn’t any Fix for Perpetual Growth
  11. At Most the Earth Could Support One Billion on an American Life Style
  12. Doubling the Economic Output of the Planet Just to Stay Even
  13. The World Will Not Be Big Enough for Both Resource Hogs — China and the United States of America
  14. Humanity Cannot Afford to Gamble on Voluntary Population Control
  15. Terrorists and the Power of Weapons of Mass Destruction
  16. Religion — A Potent Force Against Population Stabilization
  17. Universal Voluntary Birth Control — A Pipe Dream Humanity Cannot Afford
  18. The Delusional Expectations of Technological Solutions
  19. Environmentalism Fails to Address the Root Cause
  20. Triage Ethics — Conventional Morality or Human Survival?
  21. The Exhaustion of Oil — A Death Sentence for Billions
  22. Water Shortages
  23. Easter Island – A Lesson Which Humanity Must Heed
  24. Destruction of Productive Land and Destruction of Fisheries
  25. The Compound Effect of Extended Life Expectancies
  26. There Cannot be Any Procreative “Rights” in an Overpopulated World
  27. Shocking Proposals
  28. A Proposal as to How to Determine Who can and Who Cannot Reproduce
  29. The Leaders of Humanity by their Inaction Will Kill Billions of Humans



This book was written to present you, the reader, and all of humanity with three choices.

  1. Prove the author wrong. Show that the author’s facts, math and logic are wrong. Show that the conclusions the author reached are not supported by the facts, math and logic. Show that the facts, math and logic put forth by the author can support another course of action that will prevent the destruction of humanity. Show that the course of action proposed by the author is wrong and will not prevent the destruction of humanity.
  2. If you cannot show that the author is incorrect, then implement his proposal in order to prevent the horrible deaths of billions of living, breathing human beings and the destruction of civilization.
  3. If your are unwilling to implement the solution proposed by the author for any reason and you are unable to propose another solution which will prevent the horrible deaths of billions, then all of humanity will suffer the deaths of billions of living, breathing human beings and the total destruction of civilization.



The planet earth, the planet which the human species inhabits, is finite—not infinite. The earth is one of eight or nine planets circling a non-descript star in one of the spiral arms, far from the center, of a non-descript galaxy. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of perhaps, one hundred billion galaxies that make up our universe and our star is one of perhaps 100 billion stars in our galaxy. The earth is a sphere about 8,000 miles in diameter or about 25,000 miles in circumference made up of two major surface parts—land and water. As far as the universe is concerned, our planet is less than an insignificant nothing and we, human beings, are also less than insignificant nothings.

No debate, discussion or sophistry can change the fact that by definition infinite population and/or infinite economic growth cannot and will not happen on a finite earth. Therefore, at some point in time both population growth and economic growth will cease. No power on earth or in the heavens will permit infinite economic and/or infinite population growth on the finite earth. Any attempt by humanity to maintain continuous economic and/or population growth is doomed to failure. Any law enacted or any action taken by any government in the world intended to maintain continuous economic and/or population growth is not only doomed to failure, but will lead to the speedy and inevitable destruction of the entire human species in a very short period of time.



Growth, of course, may be steered, deflected or “managed”, but it cannot be rendered benign by being designated as “smart”. Growth is still growth. As Professor Albert
Bartlett of the University of Colorado explained,

“The terms “growth management” and “smart growth” (or similar words) are used interchangeably to describe urban developments that are functionally and esthetically efficient and pleasing. Sometimes these planning processes are advocated by those who believe that we can’t stop population growth therefore we must accommodate it as best we can. Other times they are advocated by those who are actively advocating population growth. The claim is made that growth management and smart growth will save the environment. They don’t save the environment. Whether growth is smart or dumb, growth destroys the environment. Growth management is a favorite term used by planners and politicians. With planning, smart growth will destroy the environment, but it will do it in a sensitive way. It is like buying a ticket on the Titanic. You can be smart and go first class or you can be dumb and go steerage. In both cases the result is the same. But given the choice, most people would go first class.”

The words “sustainable growth”,” sustainable development”, “smart growth”, “smart development” or similar words are oxymoronic. More than being oxymoronic, they are misleading and extremely dangerous. Since the earth is finite, growth and development cannot and will not continue. Any attempt to have continual growth or continual development will lead to the destruction of humanity

Resources are required for economic growth. The world’s economy cannot grow without the use of something physical. Human beings tend to confuse economic growth with mental or psychic growth or benefit. Viewing a great work of art or listening to a great symphony is a psychic benefit; it is not economic growth. When the artist or composer receives payment for his work and uses the money to build a house or buy a car or spend it in any other way that is economic growth. The house or car is a physical object and to have economic growth you need a physical object and since physical objects are limited on the finite earth, economic growth must cease today or in the future. In fact, a very strong argument can be made that both population and economic growth should have ceased in the past.



The intelligence and creativity of humankind cannot increase the amount of resources on this planet. The intelligence and creativity of humanity cannot increase the number of atoms which makeup our planet. The genius of humanity can reduce the amount of resources used for a unit of economic production, permit the substitution of one resource for another resource and/or permit some resources to be recycled. However, those facts will only delay the exhaustion of resources. Those facts will not change the ultimate truth that both population and economic growth must cease. No matter what humanity does, a unit of economic production will require the use of something physical, a resource.

No physical process can be 100% efficient. Therefore, while recycling will permit the reuse of resources, it will not solve the problem of exhaustion of resources. Example, assume a car lasts 50 years and assume further that at the end of the 50 years the car is recycled. However, since no physical process created by humanity can be 100% efficient, assume that 95% of the car can be recycled. Over a period of 2,000 years the car would be recycled 40 times. At the end of 2,000 years less than 15% of the original material of the car would exist in a manner that could be used by humankind. The other 85% of the material exists, but not in a manner that could be used by humanity. In so far as humanity is concerned, the other 85% is lost and gone forever and can never again be used by humankind. (.95 x .95 x.95 for forty times is about .13 or less than 15%) While the numbers may vary, how long will the physical object last and what percent can be recycled, the concept remains. In simple terms that means no matter what action humanity takes, humanity will run out of material resources to run its industrialized society. Yes, other materials can be substituted, but eventually all materials will be used up—gone forever. In realistic terms that means that population growth not only has to be reduced to zero, but population itself will have to be reduced from the current 6.7 billion humans to some vastly lower number so that humankind can exist on the earth as long as possible.



While science has found about 300 planets outside our solar system all of them, so far, have been gaseous giants which cannot support life or provide materials and resources for our planet. If a planet were found that could provide resources for our planet it would be, at the very least, 75 light years away. Our galaxy is in excess of 100,000 light years across and our earth exists in one of the spiral arms very far from the center—we are out in the boon docks far from other stars which could have planets that could supply our needs. In the terms of distance, a planet 75 light years away would not only be close, our next door neighbor, but very, very, very close. In actuality, it is highly unlikely that any planets that close will be found which could provide resources for our species. At present our space ships travel at about 18,600 miles per hour. To raise the speed of our space ships to just 10% of the speed of light (light travels at about 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum) would require that the speed of our space ships be increased by a factor of 3,600. Such an increase would raise the speed of our space ships to 18,600 miles per second, or 10% of the speed of light. That increase will not be achieved in the foreseeable future and probably never be achieved. Even if that increase were achieved, it would take 750 years to reach a planet 75 light years away and 750 years for the ship to return. The 1,500 year round trip does not include many other factors too numerous to list here. In reality the total round trip would probably exceed 1,750 years. Remember that minimum time estimate is based on the assumption that humanity will increase the speed of our space ships by a factor of 3,600. Therefore, it can be seen that extraterrestrial planets will not solve our earth bound problems—we will not be able to obtain resources from any extraterrestrial planet nor will we be able to export population to such a planet.

According to a report put out by the Earth Policy Institute in April 2005, humanity is exceeding the earth’s regenerative capacity by more than 21%; the world’s ecological assets are quickly being exhausted. Humanity is drawing down the capital of the earth and if this continues, even for a short period of time, the destruction of our species is at hand. According to a report put out by the same organization in 2006 the world’s economy grew by 5.1% in 2004, 4.9% in 2005 and is expected to grow by about 5% in each 2006 and 2007. Economic growth is great, up to a point. Economic growth provides a higher standard of living for humanity, which benefits humanity. However, such growth can and will lead to the destruction of humankind. If we use 5% growth per year and if that growth were to continue, the economy of the world would double in less than 15 years, quadruple in less than 30 years, increase by a factor of eight in less than 45 years and increase by a factor of 16 in less than 60 years. If The Earth Policy Institute is correct and if the economic growth rate were to continue for 60 years at a compound rate of 5% per year, by 2068 the world’s economy would be 16 times as large as it is today. To the best of my knowledge there isn’t any expert in the area of economics or in the area of the resources of the earth or in any other area who believes that the earth’s resources can support an economy 16 times as large as the present economy. While you may argue an economy 16 times as large today’s economy would not necessarily use 16 times the amount of the earth’s resources each year, there cannot be any debate that it would use a substantial multiple amount of the resources used by today’s economy. A fact which cannot be disputed—there is a direct correlation between the size of the economy and the usage of the earth’s resources—the larger the economy of the world the more of the earth’s resources are used each year. An examination of the problems facing humankind today must lead a person of intelligence to the conclusion that increasing the usage of resources by a multiple will lead to the rapid destruction of the human species. If the Earth Policy Institute is correct that humanity is presently exceeding the regenerative capacity by a factor of 21%, then any increase in the usage of irreplaceable resources must lead to the destruction of humanity in the very near future.

While no one can predict the future with guaranteed accuracy, the best estimate/prediction/projection (use whatever word you want) of the US Census Bureau is that the population of the earth will exceed 9.539 billion in 2050, (even with AIDS and with the fact that a number of industrialized nations have achieved zero or negative population growth) and will be growing at the compound/geometric/exponential rate of 0.0051 (See Exhibit 1), or slightly over one-half of one percent per year. Both population and the economy grow at compound/geometric/exponential rates.



A small example of the power of compound growth—assume your distant relative put just one cent, repeat just one cent, into a savings account the day Jesus was born about two thousand years ago and assume further that the bank paid 4% interest compounded annually. How much would that very small investment be worth in 1950? It would be worth only $1,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00. You would not only be very rich, you would be so rich that you would own every piece of land on the planet, own every car, plane and ship on the planet, you would own every house on the planet and in short you would own everything on the planet—everyone on the planet would either work for you or be your slave. Compound or geometric or exponential growth is the most powerful force in the universe—it overwhelms everything.

Professor Isaac Asimov did a math calculation which every intelligent human being should be aware of and consider. If population grew at the compound rate of 2% per year the weight of humanity would exceed the weight of the earth in a little over 1,800 years and would exceed the weight of the entire universe, repeat the entire universe, in a little over 5,500 years. How long would it take for the weight of humanity to exceed the weight of the earth if population continued to grow at the rate of two-tenths of one per cent (0.0020) per year, a 90% decrease from the 2% used by Professor Asimov in his calculation? The answer—in less than 19,000 years the weight of humanity would exceed the weight of the earth. No matter what action is taken by humanity both population and economic growth will cease and cease in the very near future.

The estimate of any UN organization concerned with future population growth is in general agreement with the projection of the US Census Bureau for the year 2050—the medium projection by the UN for the year 2050 is in excess of 9.2 billion. Even if the US Census Bureau were incorrect and population were to grow at 0.0010 (one-tenth of one percent) per year subsequent to 2050, a decrease of more than 80% from the Census Bureau’s estimate of 0.0051, and that growth were to continue population would double in less than every 700 years. That would mean that the population in 2750 would reach 18.4 billion (2 times 9.2= 18.4), in 3450 36.8 billion and in 4150 73.6 billion. In about the same time as from the birth of Jesus to the present, slightly over 2,000 years, population would reach 73.6 billion starting with the UN’s medium estimate of population in 2050. If the estimate of the US Census Bureau of 9.5 billion were used the numbers would be 19 billion, 38 billion and 76 billion respectfully. No matter the action taken by the human species, the population of the earth will never reach 73.6 or 76.0 billion human beings; our species would exhaust the earth’s resources before either level of population was reached.




Exhibit 2 sets forth the estimated age distribution of all of humanity in 2050, as projected by the US Census Bureau. That estimate indicates that 34.4% of the population of humanity in 2050 will be under the age of 25. What does that mean for the future of our species? That distribution means that a very substantial portion of those alive in 2050 will not have started their reproductive years or will be at the very beginning of their reproductive years. That means, if the estimate that 34.4% of the population will be under 25 years of age is reasonably correct, population will continue to grow after 2050 and that the very conservative estimate I used in the example set forth above will be wrong—population will grow at a much greater rate in 2050 and the years thereafter than the one-tenth of one per cent (0.0010) I used in the above example.

If you will review Exhibit 1, you will notice that the annual population growth rate of humanity exceeded 2.0% during the period 1962-1971. In fact, the annual population growth rate reached a high of 2.20% in 1962 and 1963. The growth rate I used in the previous paragraph of one-tenth of one percent (0.0010) is less than one-twentieth of the highest growth rate during that period. Even at the extremely low growth rate I used in the previous paragraphs it is clear that the destruction of humanity will happen in the very near future, if growth continues.

While no one can accurately predict when population growth will cease, it is extremely doubtful that this planet could support 19 billion people for any reasonable length of time at the present average standard of living (at the present average per capita usage of resources). A population of 19 billion would cause resource wars resulting in the use of weapons of mass destruction, no matter how efficiently humankind uses the resources provided by the earth. Therefore, it is my belief that population growth must stop in the very near future or humanity will destroy itself. No, that is not correct! Based upon the problems facing humanity today and based upon the explosive economic growth (and it is explosive) of China, India and many other nations, humanity must convert population growth to a negative number today so that total world wide population starts to drop as quickly as possible. For the reasons set forth herein humankind does not have a choice—immediately start the reduction of world wide population or face almost total destruction with weapons of mass destruction.

Population growth and stabilization are dependent upon four interrelated concepts or facts—the number of human beings inhabiting the planet, their standard of living (their average per capita usage of resources), how efficiently humanity uses the resources provided by the earth and the length of time our species hopes to survive on the planet. There is a direct relationship between the average standard of living and the amount of resources used. The higher the standard of living, the more resources are used by humanity! The higher the standard of living, the shorter period of time humanity will exist on the earth. The larger the population, the shorter period of time that humanity will exist on the earth! The more efficiently humanity uses the resources that the earth can provide the longer humanity will exist on the earth. I challenge anyone reading this book to present a logical argument that if the human population reached 10 billion, the human species would exist for a longer period of time on this planet than if the earth were required to support only two billion human beings. Let me be more realistic. I challenge anyone reading this book to present a logical and factual argument that the earth could support 19 billion humans for 100 years at a standard of living that does not result in the destruction of humanity no matter how efficiently humanity used the resources of the earth; 19 billion will be the population of the planet in less than 700 years, if population growth were to continue subsequent to 2050 at an annual compound rate of one-tenth of one percent (0.0010). To be more realistic, if the human population were to grow at one-half of one percent (0.0050), about the growth rate estimated by the US Census Bureau for the year 2050, and if that growth rate were to continue, the human population of the planet earth would reach or exceed 19 billion before the year 2200. The social order would collapse and all or almost all of humanity would be destroyed or at least civilization as we know it would no longer exist.

» Part: 0102030405.