Mother Pelican
A Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability

Vol. 14, No. 4, April 2018
Luis T. Gutiérrez, Editor
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Discerning the Next Convergence of Human Civilization

Passion, Cross, Good Friday, Tomb of Jesus ~ Pixabay Free Images
"There is no culture without a tomb and no tomb without a culture."
René Girard (1923-2015)

After the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution, what will be the next "convergence" of human civilization? The so-called information revolution is just another phase of the industrial revolution (information energized by fossil energy) and the digital revolution may well be the last waging of the fossil dog's tail. What's next? Nobody knows, and no panacea is to be expected, but we can hope for some improvement in terms of social/ecological justice. Renewed focus on integral human development, in the context of international peace and an integral human ecology, are realistic goals that can be pursued.


A Debate About the Future of Human Population, by Richard Grosman

Reflections and Chronicles From the End of Time: Citizen of State, by Carlos Cuellar Brown

The Formal Economy as Patriarchy: Vandana Shiva's Radical Vision, by Jumana Farouky

Women at the Tomb ~ The New Oxonian
Democracy in Retreat, by Keith Zeff

Toward Peace and Prosperity, by Carmine Gorga

Fatal Errors of Humanity, by Yuji Ishiguro

Globalization's Deadly Footprint, by Alex Jensen

The Curse of Energy Efficiency, by Andrew Nikiforuk

The World Oil Supply is Infinite: I Know That Because I Believe It, by Roger Blanchard

Beyond Supply and Demand: The Dynamic Equilibrium Between Global Thresholds and Allocations, by James Quilligan

Public ICT Centers for Rural Development: Inclusiveness, Sustainability, and Impact, by Francisco Proenza

Sustainable Agriculture – Calling for a Plurality of Indicators, by Mayukh Hajra

Global Capitalism Is the New Colonialism or Workers, and They Are Resisting, by Mark Karlin

Our Global System-of-Systems, by Corey J. A. Bradshaw

You're Probably Drinking Microplastics With Your Bottled Water, by Alexandra Ossola

Why Training Women in Nonviolent Resistance is Critical to Movement Success, by Marie Berry and Erica Chenoweth

The Troubling Realities of Our Energy Transition, by Kurt Cobb

Update On the World's Diminishing Resources ~ Part I: Deforestation, by Gioietta Kuo

Update On the World's Diminishing Resources ~ Part II: Biodiversity, by Gioietta Kuo

Update On the World's Diminishing Resources ~ Part III: Melting Ice and Sea Level Rise, by Gioietta Kuo

The Big Story ~ Can We Change Civilization by Changing Its Origin Story?, by Sam Miller McDonald

Culture Shift: Redirecting Humanity's Path to a Flourishing Future, by Jeremy Lent

Internalizing the Consubstantial Complementarity of Man and Woman, by Luis Gutiérrez

Overcoming Patriarchal Gender Ideology for Integral Human Development and an Integral Ecology, by Luis Gutiérrez

Question ~ Is the Planet Becoming a Tomb?

A Debate About the Future of Human Population

Richard Grosman

Originally published in
Population Matters, 25 February 2018
under a Creative Commons License

By George Martine ~ N-IUSSP built-up Earth

David Lam is a Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan and Director of the Institute of Social Research. He is highly respected and widely published in the field of demography. His elected positions include being past president of the Population Association of America and being elected to the Council of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP). Lam is truly a giant in the field of demography, and deserving of all his many honors.

Dr. Lam published an essay last year in N-IUSSP, the IUSSP’s online news magazine. Titled “The world’s next 4 billion people will differ from the previous 4 billion“, it got me riled up because I felt that Lam ignored our human life-support system–the natural world. My response, “The world in which the next 4 billion people will live“, was also published by N-IUSSP. This sparked a third, “Global population, development aspirations and fallacies” and then a fourth essay, “Thinking about the future: the four billion question”.

Here are very short abstracts of the four essays. Since I’m doing the abstracting, the abstracts may not be totally objective!

  1. Dr. Lam notes that it took just 50 years to add 4 billion people to give us the 7 1/2 billion we have now, but that it will take until about 2100 to add the next 4 billion–and then growth will probably stop. Much of this growth will be in Africa, and the people will be older. He also believes about this population growth “… the experience of the last 50 years gives room for optimism about the world’s ability to support it.”
  2. I am less optimistic, fearing that we have already used so much of the planetary resources that there will be significantly less left for those who come after us.
  3. Dr. George Martine feels that I am overly optimistic about the ability of family planning to slow population growth. Unfortunately, I agree with him! Martine had 4 concerns about the prior 2 articles: “a) the urgency of environmental threats; b) the recognition of diversity in ‘population’; c) the limitations of fertility reduction solutions; and, d) the urgency of redirecting ‘development’.”
  4. I like the way this essay starts: “The ‘population question’, central to the debate about humankind’s future since the 18th century, has slipped away from center stage and fallen into a coma in recent years.” The essay takes a critical look at some of the factors affecting population and our ability to inhabit Earth. Dr. Livi Bacci looks at climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions, and points out that it is not just population that has increased but also the financial ability of people to purchase and use carbon-based fuels–consumption.

I welcome folks to look at these four essays and draw your own conclusions. I first read Lam’s article because I am a member of the IUSSP and subscribe to N-IUSSP, but they are available online to anyone. Just search using their titles. You can even submit a response without being a member. It is good to have a debate on these subjects that are so important to our future!


Richard Grossman is a retired obstetrician-gynecologist who has been fortunate to live and work in the wonderful community of Durango, Colorado, for 40 years. He is currently researching issues of population ecology and developing a new genre of art: contraceptual art. Readers who would like to receive monthly emails about population issues can contact Dr. Grossman.


"Everything that rises must converge."

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)


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