Plaidneck

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Could there be Over Population

There are 3 times as many people on this world than there were when I was born. I’m one of the last war babies.

There are 50% more people on the world than when my children were born. They’re early to middle millennials.

The news today seems to be disaster after disaster. Let’s look as a few of those disasters from the relatively recent past.
The Ethiopian Famine
In the middle 1980s there was a famine in Ethiopia and neighbouring areas. Part of the problem was a disruption of agriculture especially where two cultures (the herding nomadic Afar and the farming Oromo). They were both marginalized and because of increasing numbers they began overlapping. The herders who used to move in after crops were off were now more numerous and began moving prior to harvest. People were displaced and crops no-longer available. During the famine the population of Ethiopia was 41 million.

Today the population is 83 million and today 2 of 5 children are stunted due to lack of nutrition with more than 80% going untreated

Rwanda Genocide
In 1994, the Rwandan genocide took place. Hutus killed Tutsis. Up to 1 million were slaughtered. The new usually reported that the cause was a power struggle between tribes. A more in depth look shows that population pressures were another major factor. The population at that time was in the 7.25 million range (density over 400 people per km2). Political events marginalised many rural small landholders. It was Rwandan custom to divide a family’s landholding equally among heirs thus further diminishing the land owned by a family. Population pressures coupled with encouraged ethnic animosities made the other side’s land look like the solution to an already deteriorating situation. The majority massacred the minority.

The population of Rwanda today is more than 10.5 million; its budget is 40% foreign aid and the government is again repressive.

Haiti Revolt
After the contested election of Jean Bertrand Aristide controversy, student protests and pressure from right wing militias led to an armed coup d’etat and Aristide being spirited out of the country. Why revolt? Again could population pressures be a part. Through the ‘80s and 90’s land holding continued to fragment and population density grew to over that of India. In 2005, the population was 9 1/4 million.

Today, ten years later, even after sever upheavals of a major earthquake and hurricane, the population is 10 2/3 million.

The Arab Spring
In 2010, a number of countries had social upheavals that have become to be known as the Arab Spring. One of the news items that struck me was the large number of unemployed young – a growing population and no work. The countries involved were Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. The total population total for all was 118 million in 2000 and 144 million in 2010.

Today, these countries’ populations have grown substantially to 150 million even with a reduction in Syria’s population of about 4.5 million due to their civil war. These countries are still rife with civil unrest and authoritarian regimes.

Too many people
There are estimates vary on our population but they range between 2.5 and 4 times as many humans on the world as can be sustained. The news coverage we get on problems only repeats the visible symptoms. The underlying problem is too many people.

It is time to seriously consider and act on “growth.” At present It is aggravating but could very easily become our ruin

The Plaidneck

PS.
News outlets are just beginning to warn of another famine in Somalia. In 2011, there was a famine; the population was 9.5 million. Today their population is 11 million. A lot of factors aggravate a famine (political unrest, lack of infrastructure, inefficient distribution system) but surely increased population must also be considered.

Some Misconceptions of “Engineers”

Recently I read a journalist’s comment on a candidate for a high-ranking position’s response to a question. The reporter said that the replies “often sounded like the engineer he was earlier in his career, replying frequently that he would need more time to gather facts.” This seems to be a common perception that Engineers are evasive.

I am a Professional Engineer (my discipline is Civil Engineering) and spent a lot of my career working for municipal councils. They did not accept the “more time” comment very often. They wanted considered answers so it was pretty well my duty to have gathered the facts before attending Council. Early in my career, I assembled anything I could think of and read the information available and brought any possible supporting documentation so that a proper answer could be provided. As experience increased background knowledge, the background material taken to meetings diminished, but the preparation didn’t. Evasive wasn’t an option.

Dilbert is a cartoon of an engineering working in the bowels of a company and not exposed to the general public. When depicted socially, he is an uninteresting misfit There seems to be a common perception that Engineers are reclusive uninteresting techies.

At the school I attended, engineering students wore a very distinctive coloured jacket. One evening after attending a drama club play, I noticed quite a number of engineering jackets being donned as we left at play’s end. Techies with a cultural interest.

In work life I found the outside interests of my Engineering colleagues to be quite varied. There were choir members, sports coaches, local theatre group actors, sailors, hobby farmers, pilots, marching band members, civic promoters. Active interested citizens; not reclusive number wonks.
And continuing this line of thought, Engineers are just Techies.

This probably comes from our schooling (Maths, sciences, CAD/drafting, design, lab work). Did you know our classes also included humanities, legal issues, ethics?

In Canada, “Professional Engineers have a clearly defined duty to society, which is to regard the duty to public welfare as paramount” (from PEO website). I read somewhere that this duty is somewhat different from that of say Lawyers or Doctors. Their public is their clients. They protect the public by performing their best for their clients. Engineers are hired by developers and politicians. Our public is the third party and it is our duty to protect them from ill-advised decisions by our clients. An interesting and sometimes arduous task.

We (Engineers) don’t seem to have properly promoted this key fact. Although we work in technical fields, our duty is public protection.

The Plaidneck

The Trump Card

The Trump Card

After some of the very concerning things that have happened to the great country south of where I live and a very intelligent lady who I was lucky enough to marry, some interesting ideas began to foment.

Most news media we get to listen to/watch is staffed by educated and I’m guessing city people – our illiteratti. The USA President elect appealed to a more rural and probably less formally educated group.

Most media we get to take in probably don’t rub shoulders with what we used to call the common working types.

I, although purportedly, educated spent my career working under the direction of rural small town committees. I have yet to find a more common sense intelligent group.

If you’ve seen any other of my posts, you’d have figured out that I play old timers hockey. The teams I’ve played in are a collection of all types and lately a wide variety of ages. You can have some very interesting and enlightening conversations after an hour or so of team sport.

I also play in a marching band (bagpipes actually) and again a wide mix of personalities. About half of us blow a fixed volume, nine notes, can’t shut it off instrument and the other half beat drums.

Without commenting on the views of the President elect, he tapped into something that our illiteratti missed – that common sense that lives within all of us but is often not easily expressed. It didn’t matter that some of the things said and done were repugnant. His background appeal was to this unexpressed “something”.

It’s not bigotry (two syllables less than xenophobia), but it could be.
It’s not just fear, but it could be – sort of
It’s not jealousy, but maybe something a bit more akin to WTF
It is more like one part of his message was you not on the inside deserve to be represented.

Basically there is a frustration of being ignored. The intelligencia may perceive that they know it all (or at least enough) to get their way. However, living with and listening to the less formally prepared would have allowed those who try to shape our thinking to see that maybe we don’t need shaping, just consideration.

In order to avoid the more damaging aspects of the insiderism into which we seem to have fallen, it’s time to truly listen (and heed) widely. Sometimes the nine trumps the ace.

The Plaidneck

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