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Saturday, 09 April 2011


I've never understood how humanity can gravitate into such a lowly, rat-like existence. Can't imagine what the bottom of that river looks like.

"I've never understood how humanity can gravitate into such a lowly, rat-like existence."

Well, how do they NOT? It's not like it's any particular individual's choice. How do you get caught in a traffic jam? You just do, because there are too many cars on the road. It's not like you can magically decide you'd like there to be a third as many cars and have it be so.


"Human overpopulation seems to be the elephant in the room that people just don't like to talk about, even though it lies behind virtually all of the planet's and our species' problems."

And that's the truth. I've been saying that for years but all the ecologists steer clear of confronting it. AL Gore touched on it in "An Inconvenient Truth" but then slid into more comfortable territory quickly. Unfortunately we are committed to an economic system that requires continual growth to function. Worse, we've convinced most of the rest of the world to go that way too.

For those viewing, don't forget to turn on the captions below the slide show, they seem to be 'off' by default.

Interesting, though a bit disjointed documentary. It's a very in-your-face look at the harsh realities of life in Metro Manila. Very timely too, considering the big debate on the pending Reproductive Health Bill in the Philippines right now.


Because a rat-like existence in a big city will earn them more money than staying, or going back, to their town or village. Actually, that photo shows a place that isn't so bad, look at the brightly painted houses.

If you want to see bad, search for images of Manila's slum or any slums around the world. No running water, not even an open sewer-just sewage flowing here and there, so congested in some places that the sun can't shine through.

Life is shitty like that.

Thanks for posting this. Yes, the continued over-population of our planet and the demands of sustaining this mass of humanity will probably be the undoing of the race of homo sapiens.

Mike wrote, "The phenomenon of outsiders getting more respect than insiders has many dimensions."

And it happens in all fields. I've often marveled at how American architects seem to lose local commissions to foreign architects, while those same American architects get commissions overseas at the expense of local architects there.

Comment #1.
Same scenes may be found in Jakarta, Mumbai and Kolkata.

Comment #2.
"Prophets without honour in their own land".

or to put it another way -

"The foreign monk gets more converts than the local priest".

Hoovenson I'm not talking about the plight of the people nor am I unsympathetic. I mean why doesn't anyone make an effort to clean up the mess? No grass root efforts? Not a soul that cares? Not just picking on poor folk in Manilla either. I've witnessed trash filled streets here in the USA that had me thinking the same thing.

Mike missed your comment but read my reply to Hoovenson. Are lives that desperate that no one cares? What about the government? They could organize some kind of clean up effort in they cared at all. Guess it bugs me that no one does.

No need to get too worried over overpopulation.

According to the 2010 World Almanac I have on hand, the world's birth rate peaked in 1990 and has dropped sharply since then.

In 1990, the world's birth rate was 3.3 children per woman. By 2000 the average dropped to 2.7, and by 2009, 2.5. This is just above the global replacement fertility rate of 2.3 children per woman.

We've TOPped the server. :-/ Bandwidth limit exceeded.

The "outsiders" is far from a new phenomenon, the Internet notwithstanding. Nemo propheta in patria sua is Latin for Nobody's a prophet in their homeland. Written sometime in the first century AD. I believe it's connected to the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side.

I guess the link put too much pressure on the Foto8 site: "The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later."

Quite appropriate, given the subject - human population reaching the bandwidth limit as well?

I couldn't access foto8 website (server collapsed because too many TOP readers visiting?) so this comment is based on what I saw in his/her website.

I was surprised the Catholic church is not mentioned in an essay on
overpopulation in the Philippines. This is the only country in Asia
(with Timor) majoritarily Catholic. The church's influence in daily life is very, very strong, including also (or particularly) reproduction.

For those looking for more works of Filipino Documentary Photographers, a good place to start is http://aninag.org/

The biggest problem of Filipino Docu Photogs is the lack of funding plus there is little to no opportunity for publication or exhibition of works so stories are sometimes lost or does not have a chance to be seen by a wider audience. I guess that is the problem the industry is facing not only here in the Philippines but everywhere.

Also, a guy who work in a smelly kitchen never know those badly smell. If one adopt to a local live, one may pys. adopt to it - good or bad. One can also argue why people can live a 100 acres mansion where a few hundred sq. ft. (or even thousand) is enough or the whole economy using gas as their major supply of energy. For rat like life, well, running away sometimes is not good. As one say that any good leaving its home would be more expensive but less for the people who leave their homebase.

Sub-optimal solution exist as there are transaction costs to get to the global optimal solution. Part of this inertia and part of this any change face uncertainty and any running systems hate people change its course, especially a growing one.

MJ Ferron- The "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" theology always sounds good don't it? And you can find examples of it just about anywhere. Unfortunately, it's always a little harder when there are no bootstraps to begin with.

Like many developing countries and despite its ongoing progress, the Philippines is a desperately poor nation. If you could clean that water up over night, it would be filthy once again by week's end- you need the infrastructure necessary for: sewers, sewage treatment facilities, daily garbage collection, indoor plumbing, transportation, etc, etc- and the massive influx of monies for the education, jobs and resources to build and maintain all of it.

Dear Driver8,

There's several errors in that analysis.

First, the population will continue to grow substantially simply due to the increasing average lifespan. Simply dropping the birthrate to the replacement level doesn't stop population growth.

Second, it presumes that the equilibrium number then reached is an acceptable level of population. That is a very dubious assumption. Considering that we don't even know how to sustainably insure an adequate standard of food, health and quality of life for the population we already have.

The reason, though, that no one really talks about the elephant in the room is quite simply that we have no idea how to make the elephant leave. It's not a failure to recognize that problem, it's understanding the reality that there is no known solution to that problem. Absent waving a magic wand and wishing that people were different.

Simply, and practically, we are stuck with way too many people and we have to figure out how to deal.

pax / Ctein

actually erlic the latin is more likely someones translation from the bible which is the source of the original quote "A prophet is not unhonored except in his home territory and among his relatives and in his own house"

part of Mark 6:4

Do a lot of overseas photographers come over and take those "Ruins of Detroit" photo tours?

We know a lot of ways to make the human population drop precipitously. Some of them, like global thermonuclear war, would do massive damage to all other species also. Most of them would result in the end of technological civilization -- which means I'm not interested in them (personal quirk there).

Nearly all the rest look rather like "I've got mine, Jack", and are hence rather politically incorrect.

Leaving...um...yeah, not sure we've got anything.

Mike lays out good relevant reasons why some locals don't get the global attention some of them want. But there are also lots of bad or irrelevant reasons in play; generally there ARE locals doing work that warrants wider attention.

Maybe the next generation of Philippine photographers will be more net-savvy; I've been following one college student there for a few years now, and he's certainly got a global web audience. (Not clear on preferred usage of "Filipino" vs. other forms, but I intended to refer to location, as the important point, rather than ethnicity.)

Take a five minute walk from the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh and you will see kids swimming and bathing in what amount to nothing more than huge outdoor toilets.

The only country that has done something about their population growth is China (and to a lesser extent Iran). China's methodology was draconian but necessary, and their one-child policy worked. Overpopulation is the biggest reason that poverty in some countries will never be eradicated.
The smaller elephant in the room is corruption, which ensures that the limited resources in a country will be disproportionately shared.
Aid organisations have tended to step around both of these issues for fear of offending cultural or religious sensibilities.

Overpopulation does not necessarily lead to canals filled with trash and hundreds of thousands of people living in filthy conditions. Inept/uninterested government does.

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