Chapter Ten: GAIA And Other Global Stoppers

III. Too Many People

How many is too many? How can there be 'too many people'? Each person is too perfect not to exist, surely?

Well, yes, but too many people would be more than can be supported by the planet's resources, managed sustainably, at least until mankind colonizes other planets. See the next section and Chapter Thirteen, which argues that people may not need to exist in physical form for too much longer. The Matrix has been there already; but in a dystopian way.

The vision of globalization laid out in the remainder of this book presupposes continuing progress towards a human population of educated, economically viable individuals who have access to the Internet and other modern electronic technologies. Sometimes this can seem a doubtful outcome, but historical trends support it.

Even though in absolute numbers there are many more poor, undernourished, uneducated people in the world today than ever before, the proportion they form of the population is falling, and falling fast, as global giants China and India bootstrap their economies and populations to adequate levels of economic and intellectual achievement. History says that economically successful countries experience falling birth rates, and even declining levels of population, so that in the absence of a disaster along the way, the world's population will indeed stabilize at a sustainable level, and the globalization process will continue on its merry way.

The problem is that there may be a disaster along the way. There are culturally survivable diasters, and other kinds that are not survivable. For the Roman Empire, internal decay meant that the exogenous shock of barbaric migration form the East was not culturally survivable. Exogenous population shocks (irresistible population movements) may be thought to be a thing of the past. It does not seem likely that it will ever be in China's interest to conquer the world by over-running it, even if it were a physical possibility to do it. Economic migration does indeed continue, and is a useful safety-valve to reduce the head of steam in countries that feel themselves excluded from Western economic success. The USA and the European Union are having to do more to accommodate such migrants, who flood across borders in increasing numbers. Legislation and border fences do not stop them; nor should they.

All in all, there are such advantages to be gained for a nation state by joining the existing world order as opposed to fighting against it, that a crisis resulting from population pressure as such seems unlikely. If one is to come, it will more likely be from