Yes, it was about the potential problems of the shrinking population it predicts will happen before the end of the century.
I listened to it, and there was some pushback from a UN demographer saying that it wasn’t going to contract so quickly, and in fact a ballooning population would occur first.
But even if it does happen, if we don’t go to 11 billion – I can’t believe that we are even saying that when we have so many problems already with 7.
What’s the problem?
People talk about population reduction as if we are going to suddenly disappear from the face of the planet.
We won’t disappear
The world wasn’t empty when there were a billion humans. There were enough for a fucking world war or two. The worst flu epidemic in history killed tens of millions and the world kept going on, with hardly a blip on our population.
The world wasn’t empty in the nineteenth century and we were inventing cars and telephones and all that stuff.
Some of the drastic effects outlined here are about one country losing population while others don’t – a kind of population arms race fear in my opinion.
Our cultures will survive.
No country needs multiple millions of citizens to keep its culture alive. Look at Ireland. It lost half its population in a few decades and still we know what it is to be Irish. There are fewer Irish per square km of Ireland than there are of Spaniards to square Km of Spain, or any other country practically in Europe – 4 million compared to 16 in the same area of the Netherlands.
And within that relatively small population, let’s be honest, how many people do Irish dancing, play the bodhrán or uilleannpipes, or even speak the language very well? (Hint, I do none of these things.)
In our globalised (mostly Americanised) world, most of us watch Netflix, shop in Zara and dance to techno., not to mention eat pizza and curries.
But that’s okay.
It only takes a handful to keep a culture alive.
Many Native American’s have kept their language and customs going despite being nearly wiped out by European invaders.
The highlanders of Scotland kept their Gaelic, kilts and tartan going, despite the crackdown on them in the 1700s.
The Basques were prohibited from speaking, too, yet now my kids speak only Basque in school, and they learn the culture of many villages and towns in the region – carnival means making a different costume every year in my house!
People tend to think that the way the world was when they were young is the way it should be.
That’s why some of us don’t notice that the insects are vanishing, that the seas are empty, that sheep are not supposed to be eating every tree seedling that tries to sprout.
We are used to having billions of people, used to hearing that there are more than a billion people in both China and India.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
A billion human beings is quite enough for Planet Earth..
If we want those folks to live in any way approaching the wonderful lives we are (could be if we tried) living in the western world, then we would be better off with even fewer.
A planet emptier of humans would be able to become one full with the other denizens of our ecosystems we have pushed out during our population explosion.
And, for those who only care about seeing the same species, perhaps this lower density will help us appreciate the other humans around us
For our fellow citizens have become mostly background noise to us: moving furniture and to our lives.
We sit on metros and busses surrounded by others without even catching their eye. We go to coffee shops and bars and exchange few words. The supermarket customer now hardly needs to acknowledge the existence of the cashier, if there is one. Our elevator journeys are a gauntlet of greetings, goodbyes and trying not to look at one another in between.
If we were less tightly packed, perhaps we could become more personable (note the word) and talk to one another, chat with our neighbours, smile on the street as we pass, like people did in the past when they lived in villages, like they still do in small communities.
Remember when we all laughed watching Crocodile Dundee deciding New York must be the friendliest place on Earth, with seven million people all wanting to live together?
I see only advantages in such reductions. The only problem is how to get there – and it’ll be most probably abruptly by climate devastation and the loss of biodiversity.
Malthus always gets a bad rap, but as Naomi Klein said, Climate Change changes everything.
Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing Kate Robbins, author of the Highland Chiefs series of historical romance novels. I have to admit I am very jealous of Kate – not because her books are flying off the shelves, which they are, – and a read of the excerpt below will let you see why – but because she lives in Newfoundland: a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I know, I live in Spain and many might think I’m barmy for wishing to go somewhere cold instead, but different strokes for different folks!
David O’Brien: First off, welcome Kate! This is my first author interview of a person from anywhere in Canada, much less from your neck of the continent, and it’s a pleasure to have you here. To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself: where are you from, do you still live there?
Kate Robbins: Hey! Thanks for having me! I’m from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada where I work as a public servant, live with my man beast and two man cubs and write in my spare time. J
DOB: Why do you write? What would you do if you didn’t write?
KR: I write because I feel compelled to express stories that well up inside me in a written form. I’ve explored filmmaking and have written and directed stageplays as well, so I guess I’m a storyteller and writing novels is my current medium.
DOB: Tell us a little about your latest work.
KR: Promised to the Highlander (PTTH) released on May 30th and is the second book in my Highland Chiefs series. It’s set during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name in 15th century Scotland.
PTTH is a love triangle between Fergus MacKay, his brother, William, and William’s intended, Nessia Stephenson. The political backdrop introduced in book one, Bound to the Highlander (BTTH), threads through this one as well as the others in the series.
DOB: Why do you set some of you novels in Scotland?
KR: I love Scottish culture and history. Fascinates me, especially the plight of the clans during the middle ages.
DOB: Would you like to, or have you already, set a story in Newfoundland?
KR: Writing is an escape for me from daily life. As much as I love the province I live in, writing a novel set here would be a challenge because it is my every day. I can’t escape in it and so am not quite sure I’m the right one to tell stories set here. Plus there’s far better writers setting stories here than me. I don’t think I could do it justice.
DOB: What is your workspace like? Do you have a view, or does everyone have a view there?
KR: I am a nomadic writer, like an old cat pawing her way around looking for a spot to curl up most days. I keep everything portable and at the ready so I can write wherever the mood strikes me.
DOB: To make everyone (read: me) jealous, can you tell us what wildlife we could see if we visited?
KR: On the island of Newfoundland you can see moose, rabbit, fox, lynx, black bears, perhaps caribou (though there’s a much larger population up in Labrador). If you like fish then you can get just about anything here including lobster, snowcrab, scallops, mussels, cod, halibut, mackerel, herring…and now I’m getting really hungry.
This spring if you visited you would also be treated to many icebergs. Will make for a cold summer, but they sure are beautiful. Oh and don’t forget to do some whale watching while you dream-visit. 😉 Am I evil or what?
DOB: Yes, but we forgive you. Finally Kate, where can we buy/see your work?
KR: BTTH is available on most online ebook sites. There’s a list of them on Tirgearr’s book page here.
PTTH will be available at first on Amazon and will gradually populate to the other sites as well. Check out that book page too. J
DOB: Thanks a million for stopping by!
KR: Oh hey, thanks so much for having me!!! Cheers!
Nessia Stephenson’s world was safe until a threat from a neighbouring clan forces her to accept a betrothal to a man whose family can offer her the protection she needs. The real threat lies in her intense attraction to the man who arranged the match—the clan’s chief and her intended’s brother, Fergus MacKay.
When powerful warlord Fergus MacKay arranges a marriage for his younger brother, William, he has no idea the price will be his own heart. Fergus is captivated by the wildly beautiful Nessia, a woman he can never have.
When the feud between the MacKay and Sutherland clans escalates, Nessia, William, and Fergus all must make sacrifices for their future. Longing and loss, honour and duty. How can love triumph under such desperate circumstances?
William paced while Fergus leaned back in his chair with his long legs stretched out and his arms crossed over his chest. Stephenson was late, not by much, but enough to make William fidget and Fergus take notice. Their three younger siblings, Freya who was in her sixteenth year, John who was fourteen, and eleven-year-old Stephen, waited as well, all in various states of impatience.
The great hall was large and welcoming with dark wooden beams framing the ceiling and walls. Fergus had counted the eighteen beams along the length of the room about a hundred times. William had worn a permanent path on the wide plank floor in front of the red sandstone hearth beneath the many MacKay hunting trophies. Young John sighed again.
“You know, for a man who isn’t eager to meet his future wife, you’ve got quite a set of nerves there lad,” Fergus said to William.
William straightened his linen shirt and smoothed his tunic as he glared at Fergus. Yet, the comment was absorbed and William ceased his pacing to sit on a chair near the fire. Fergus watched his brother adjust his belt again. The young man wore his usual dress, but had taken greater pains today to perfect his appearance. Fergus glanced down at his linen shirt and leather sleeveless tunic. William’s long hair was tied at his nape while Fergus’s was left hanging loose. Fergus recalled having to take extra pains upon his betrothal. Thankfully, those days had passed and he needn’t overly worry anymore. A young lass would surely find William’s neat, respectable appearance appealing. He hoped so, but before he could dwell on it further a servant entered, announcing the arrival of Thomas Stephenson, his daughter Nessia and several of their clansmen.
William sprang to his feet and crossed the floor in a few quick strides to greet them. He continued to fidget as Fergus sauntered up from behind.
“Thomas! Welcome. We thought we’d have to send out a search party soon.” Fergus led the stout man into the great hall.
“Aye, the road was a bit rough with a wagon in tow.”The man’s brow was streaked with sweat and he looked weary from his travels.
“We’ve had a lot of rains this harvest, there’s no doubting that.” In truth he would have gone searching himself had another hour passed. Earlier that day he’d heard more rumours about Ronan Sutherland. Apparently, the lad had agreed to his father’s suggestion and would commence his campaign in the coming days.
Fergus sensed William stiffen beside him as Thomas began the introductions.
“Fergus, William, this is my brother Neville and these three are my sons, Colin, Robert, and Camden my youngest. And this is my daughter, Nessia.”
Fergus acknowledged each man in turn. When the introduction came to the girl and his gaze fell on her, his breath caught in his throat. With black hair and bright blue eyes, she stood proudly before him with her chin lifted and all the regal confidence of a noblewoman. She displayed no fear or reservation at all, something which was unusual in most men he met, but was more so in a woman. The gentler sex usually cowered before him—not this lass.
Fergus stared at her, his heart drumming hard inside his chest. His guts clenched as if he’d been punched. He had to force himself from moving toward her to touch her hair, which looked like spun silk, for surely it could not be real.
Fergus remembered his brother then, and tore his gaze from her to find William’s eyes wide and his jaw slacked. An unexpected pang ran through him. When he
turned back it was to find her still staring at him, seemingly unabashed for staring openly at a man. A bold one, then. Fergus drew his brows together. What did she want?
Ebook available at these links.
Kate Robbins writes historical romance novels out of pure escapism and a love for all things Scottish, not to mention a life-long enjoyment of reading romance.
Kate loves the research process and delving into secondary sources in order to blend authentic historical fact into her stories. She has travelled to Scotland twice and visited the sites described in her Highland Chiefs series.
Her Highland Chiefs series is set in the early fifteenth century during the reign of James Stewart, first of his name.
Kate is the pen name of Debbie Robbins who lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada with her man-beast and two man-cubs.