The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Our Progress Trap: Should we stop engaging in industry and encourage population control?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/15/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 640 times Debate No: 58991
Debate Rounds (5)
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Votes (2)




In the documentary entitled Surviving Progress, great minds come together to assess the developed world's situation in relation to our greatest resource, the earth. I am arguing that the way out of a progress trap is to stop developing technology and industry, which have grown to such a scale as to classify as modern addictions. In many great civilizations in the past, the progress trap has resulted in a tumultuous decline. Consider the issues of sustainability, the growth of modern society, population, agriculture and technology, and the ethical human rights arguments associated with population management. Should we, as a collective human race, take the initiative and embrace the idea of natural population caps before modern medicine became a "human right"? I think so. I think we should admit that we, as a species, have a tendency towards destruction, however passively we may live, but that we also have the capacity for rational thought, and as such, should use our mighty brains to get ourselves out of this impending progress trap by means of reducing and eventually stopping our abuse of the only resource we have - nature.


I graciously accept this debate;

Population Control is a bad idea in general and through out this post I will address several reasons;

Resources will multiply if population control was put into place, why is this bad? Because more resources will be created than can be consumed. This drop in demand will lead to several negative outcomes such as the value of the dollar decreasing. Disposing of the dead bodies is also a huge economic concern, as it is necessary for controlling the world's population. so ultimately we are losing money by moving away from industry and losing money with decreased demand.

With less people living in a world where there are many different towns, suburbs, and apartments, these areas would become abandoned, dangerous, and unsanitary,thus leading to massive ghost towns where the land has been deforested. Imagine a city such as New York or San Francisco with less than half of their current population living there. Massive parts of the city would now be unusable for years, or we would be forced to spend billions rebuilding the land that once had been inhabited.

We can also see an issue in the selection of reproduction, if we attempt to control population such as china we will be using a broken system, if people are selected to reproduce then we deal with bias selection, it is near impossible to provide a system that will effectively limit population.

Religion also plays a role in America today that cannot be denied, because we are free to believe what we want and the government cannot place laws on religion, many beliefs would come into conflict.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, thank you for engaging.
Second of all, what?

Resources will multiply if population control was put into place?

I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Resources don't "multiply". We use up resources in a finite system known as planet earth. "There are very few resources that are considered inexhaustible (will not run out in foreseeable future) - these are solar radiation, geothermal energy, and air (though access to clean air may not be). The vast majority of resources are exhaustible, which means they have a finite quantity, and can be depleted if managed improperly. . .
"Renewable resources can be replenished naturally. Some of these resources, like sunlight, air, wind, etc., are continuously available and their quantity is not noticeably affected by human consumption. Though many renewable resources do not have such a rapid recovery rate, these resources are susceptible to depletion by over-use. Resources from a human use perspective are classified as renewable only so long as the rate of replenishment/recovery exceeds that of the rate of consumption."

Regarding any economic concerns, the idea of the dollar losing value is a short-sighted one. The issue is not in economics, but in the efficacy of living beyond any reasonable means. I'm not saying, "let's cut off the heads of a BILLION PEOPLE!!!!!" like a madman. I'm proposing an attitude change towards downshifting our rampant industry and short-sighted dollar-focused economy and instead, turning our focus towards a healthy dose of "reality" - which is "the true situation that exists" [] - not this mumbo-jumbo about resources "multiplying".

Now, let us bring up Malthus, the wonderful gent from the 1700's who authored his theories on population reaching the world's maximum carrying capacity at the time.

"Malthus anticipated terrible disasters resulting from population growth and consequent
imbalance in "the proportion between the natural increase of
population and food."[4] At a time when there were fewer than a
billion people, he was quite convinced that "the period when the
number of men surpass their means of subsistence has long since
arrived." However, since Malthus first published his famous Essay
on Population in 1798, the world population has grown nearly six
times larger, while food output and consumption per person are
considerably higher now, and there has been an unprecedented
increase both in life expectancies and in general living standards.[5]"

Of course, this is a good point. However, the same article continues:

"The fact that Malthus was mistaken in his diagnosis as well as his
prognosis two hundred years ago does not, however, indicate that
contemporary fears about population growth must be similarly
erroneous. The increase in the world population has vastly
accelerated over the last century. It took the world population
millions of years to reach the first billion, then 123 years to get to
the second, 33 years to the third, 14 years to the fourth, 13 years to
the fifth billion, with a sixth billion to come, according to one UN
projection, in another 11 years.[6] During the last decade, between
1980 and 1990, the number of people on earth grew by about 923
million, an increase nearly the size of the total world population in
Malthus's time." []

That is to say, there will be consequences if human population is left unchecked. The carrying capacity of humans on earth is still uncertain, but why continue with our head in the clouds? "Earth"s carrying capacity is smaller if everyone is to achieve the average standard of living of people in the United States than if everyone is to achieve the average standard of living of people in developing countries. " [] The mindset of the "dollar rules" has reached around the globe, gripping the attention and focus of billions of people. The concept of poverty is scorned, the humans subjected to this poverty, pitied. If the earth and her abundant resources were represented as an apple, and humans as, well, a human eating an apple of course, then this human eating an apple is taking larger, and larger, and larger bites. Why? To prove that "this guy" doesn't live in poverty. "This guy" is the wealthiest man alive. And the apple gets smaller and smaller, until there's no apple. And "this guy" has suddenly turned into what he's been running away from.

Really though, if you want to make an apple last. . . take less bites.


My opponent misunderstands what I'm trying to explain in my first paragraph so let me explain:

If there is 500 apples and 600 people want them a scarcity occurs, this drives the prices up, this causes the value of the dollar to rise, intern dropping people from 600 to 400 there becomes a 100 apple surplus that the producer carries. Thus the price drops and the dollar depreciates. thus the global market suffers, so population control damages the world economy. You are also stating in the resolution that we should move away from industry, so we will also have to deal with a loss of exports, so essentially our GDP suffers. I would also like to point out you don't actually address economic problems you simply say your not aiming to murder people senselessly and siting Wikipedia.

Moving on to Malthus;

Malthus' theory has been dismissed by scientist's world round due to his lack of representation of technology within his theory. He doesn't account for development that allows for us to use Wind, Water, Nuclear, or Solar energy. He also lived in a time where Fossil Fuels had not been refined. According to [1]Gail Tverberg, a renowned Actuary, "Malthus was writing immediately before fossil fuel use started to ramp up. If it hadn’t been for the fossil fuel ramp up, starting first with coal, Malthus might in fact have been right. As it was, population was able to ramp up quickly after the addition of fossil fuels." She argues that when the Green Revolution occurred Malthus was instantly proven incorrect.

Now my opponent failed to address the fact there is no realistic way for this to occur, thus this point flows to me.

he also did not address the issues with religion so it also flows to me.

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks for sticking with the apple theme, but I understand the implications of decreased economic growth. That's the point actually. The point is realizing how addicted we are to this idea of being able to save ourselves with our industrial complex, but maybe one day it doesn't work. Even solar energy is not as "green" as people think. The chemicals needed for solar panels still need to be mined and that is a finite resource.

Humans lived well before the advent of technology and with less people. I'm saying that we as the human race should not play with fire and stretch our consumption of natural resources to the max. Carrying capacity is a real concept though. Even though the person you quoted, Gail Tverberg, states that a " tentative conclusion might be that as long as we can keep ramping up availability of energy products and debt, Malthus' views are not very relevant", he goes on to say, "of course, things aren't looking as benign today. World oil production has been close to flat since about 2005. . . I am not sure that we can conclude that we are headed for catastrophe the day after tomorrow, but the graphs give a person reason to pause to think about the situation. The reason I write posts is to try to pull together the big picture. If we only look at the latest new item forecasting huge increases in tight oil production or talking about 200 years of natural gas, it is easy to reach the conclusion that all of our problems are past. If we look at the big picture, they clearly are not." []

If you want me to explicitly address the religion issue, let's bring up other tenets of the religious mindset as well. Religious grounds for encouraging population growth are based in a past that did not have the technological advances that are available today. I'm talking about medical care that has been greatly advanced to the point of allowing a very high birth to death rate. I'm talking about agriculture.

The times have changed since the Bible was written and people need to realize that. I'm not here to get into a huge debate about freedom to exercise religious freedoms, though I wont deny that it is a factor. I'm here to talk about how we have fallen into a mindset of growth equals good and how to offset the progress trap by rational means. Technology may have granted us more freedoms than ever, but if you really want to exercise your freedom to have as many kids as you want, then you might want to consider how many kids are going to end up with the short end of the stick because there's a shortage of fresh water, or the air is too polluted because the rain forests have been cut too much to be able to replenish the oxygen we breath, or there's more radiation poisoning in many populated places because when fossil fuels hit the critical point (that is, too expensive for consumers to buy), people turn to electricity and amp up the nuclear power. . . I'm not saying these things WILL happen. I'm saying they might happen. So let's be aware of them and confront the conflicts our beliefs have with simple prudence.


If you understand that there will be decreased economic growth then why would we concider this a good idea? Our economy makes us the keystone in the international economic arch, without us there is no international economy, Asia, Europe, South America, Central America, Africa, Australia, every country (Exluding Cuba and North Korea) Rely on our consumerism and creation of jobs in their countries, as well as international aid. If imposing population control on the US occurs and our economy shrinks then the world suffers. Forbes states [] "the United States is the world leader and likely to remain there for decades. It has the greatest soft power in the world by far. The United States still receives far more immigrants each year (1 million) than any other country in the world. The United States leads the world in high technology (Silicon Valley), finance and business (Wall Street), the movies (Hollywood) and higher education (17 of the top 20 universities in the world in Shanghai"s Jaotong University survey). The United States has a First World trade profile (massive exports of consumer and technology goods and imports of natural resources).

It is still the world"s leader for FDI at 180 billion dollars, almost twice its nearest competitor. The United States, spending 560 billion dollars a year, has the most powerful military in the world. Its GDP (16 trillion dollars) is more than twice the size of China"s GDP. As the first new nation, it has the world"s longest functioning democracy in a world filled with semi-democratic or non-democratic countries. Its stock market, at an all time high, still reflects American leadership of the global economy." The world cannot survive as of current without American consumerism, thus population control is a bad idea.

Your second paragraph doesn't make any since, Gail Tverberg doesn't reference carrying capacity but an equilibrium, when a market flattens it means no growth is necessary and thus it will remain a constant.

Religion isn't the same as a dooms day philosophy based in reality, you cannot equate it to a void of technology. Notice the catholic church has reaffirmed its beliefs against contraception, many protestant churches have reaffirmed their beliefs in family. technology doesn't change religious beliefs, it makes them easier to follow.

Yes the time since the creation of the bible has passed, but the bible doesn't fade in their religious views, dismissing their beliefs to prepare for something that "might happen" by essentially denying what they would consider to be souls, from entering our plane of existence is wrong. and yes, I will be having kids, they will live with the issues my parents, grand parents, and great grandparents have created, because I believe that if we work together as a planet, as a species even, than any issue can be fixed. I also believe God himself gave me the ability to bring children into this world so I may nurture and rear them, driving them to be good people.

Now my opponent has still failed to address the fact there is no realistic way for this to occur, thus this point flows to me.
Debate Round No. 3


Jadeydid forfeited this round.


Extend, ill wait for my opponent
Debate Round No. 4


Jadeydid forfeited this round.


Seeing as my opponent didnt refute my points we can only see a vote for my arguments.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
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Vote Placed by dynamicduodebaters 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF