The fat and flat world


I’ve been reading “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman. You have to read this book! If, in the next presidential election, some candidate anounces Friedman will be his adviser, or simply that he has read Friedman’s book and agrees in substance with all he says, that would cinch my vote.

I have a related thesis- “The World is Fat”. I mean this on both the micro and macro levels. On a micro level, developed countries are having more troubles with an overweight population and the health problems that entails. But, on a macro level, the growing population of the world means that we are throwing the natural balance of nature off. This has implications beyond just increased pollution and diminishing natural resources.

Humankind needs to go on a diet, and by this I mean it needs to learn to live with a fixed population. In the past, growth has been possible because of the abundance of both space and natural resources. Furthermore, growth meant more person-power, which led to an accelerated rate of technological progress. But we are at a point now where we are reaching the limits of what the earth will support. We need to slow down our growth now. Otherwise, when we do reach that limit, there will be some very painful trimming of the “excess” population.

This will be no easy task. Every generation is larger than the last, making the work force ever-growing. Slowing down to zero population growth will mean an effective shrinking of the relative size of the labor force.