How many can we be (at least try to discuss it)?
This limit seem harder to discuss because it concern a limitation of the right to create life and of our natural propensity to procreate.
Balancing this limit is a delicate question and much be treated with the outmost respect for the equality of all human beings. However it is a question that we can’t avoid discussing. Human beings require around 2200 calories a day to be well-nourished. This is the lower limit for the energy requirements of human metabolism and many of us are not reaching it and go hungry everyday while others get a whole lot more
“Researcher have calculated that industry moves, mines, extracts, shovels, burns, wastes, pumps, and disposes of 4 million pounds of material in order to provde on average middle-class American family’s needs for a year. In 1990, the average American’s economi and personal activities mobilized a flow of roughly 123 dry-weigh pound of material per day – equivalent to a quartor of a billion semitrailer loads per year. This amounts to 47 pounds of fuel, 46 of construction materials, 15 of farmland, 6 of forests products, 6 of industrial minerals, and 3 of metals of which 90% is iron and steel. Net of 6 pounds of recycled materials, the Average American’s daily activities emitted 130 pounds of gaseous material into the air, created 45 pounds of material artifacts, generated 13 pounds of concentrated wastes, and dissipated 3.5 pounds of nongaseous wastes into the environment in such scattered forms as pesticides, fertilizers, and crumbs of material rubbed off tires. In addition the person’s daily activities required the consumption of about 2,000 pounds of water that after use is sufficiently contaminated that it cannot be reintroduced into marine, or riparian systems, and produced 370 pounds of rock, tailings, overburden, and toxic water as a result of extracting oil, gas, coal, and minerals. In sum, American waste or cause to wasted nearly 1 million pounds of material per person per year”.
This was reported in the 90s and as overshot day and other statistics show this consumption has increased. To all live like this we would need more planets.
Clearly this is not possible and neither is letting people starve so let us try to discuss from John Rawls veil of ignorance the interrelated questions, what kind of life do we as humans believe to be sufficient to prosper?, how much resources per capita does this prospering require? and how many can we then be on this lovely but finite planet?
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