Theresa O’Connor

On overpopulation

In which I respond to the Malthusian points raised the discussions surrounding this old post of mine.

If you value quality of human life over quantity of humans, you should be just as rude as rms.

Ari Rahikkala

I’m confused. The quality of whose life? Happiness is a reasonable measure of the quality of life. The number and variety of sources of human happiness are as diverse as the world’s population. I wonder how Ari can be so confident that massive human depopulation is a necessary step toward our happiness (or at least the happiness of those few who remain). In fact, I don’t even see how quantity of life enters into it.

Ari continues (emphasis mine):

It’s worth it to get the point across: Human overpopulation is the root cause of every environmental problem in this world (not to mention quite a few wars), and there’s an enormously simple, painless and moral way to solve overpopulation: As many people as possible should stop breeding and live until they die of old age.

I guess I don’t really have that much to say about Malthusian worries such as these. I think people should give less credence to Paul Ehrlich and more to Julian Simon. Although, if you insist on believing such things, you might as well have a bizarre sense of humor about it (like the Church of Euthanasia). Ari’s own Voluntary Human Extinction Movement seems pretty stodgy.

Anyone interested in the intersection of happiness, optimism, and human population growth should check out this blog post from Will Wilkinson. Actually, you should read both his personal blog and his blog on Happiness & Public Policy. Will rules.