Does Earth Have Too Many Humans Or Too Few Landowners?
|December 13, 2013||Posted by Staff under Editorials|
The rate of population growth has been slowing since the 1960s, and has fallen below replacement levels half the world over. But what about the other half? The UN Population Division’s world fertility patterns show that, worldwide, fertility per woman has fallen from 4.7 babies in 1970–75 to 2.6 in 2005-10. As Peoplequake author Fred Pearce puts it: “Today’s women have half as many babies as their mothers … That is not just in the rich world. It is the global average today.”
Today’s population panic goes on as if the Earth’s temperate grasslands are straining under the weight of supporting voracious humans rather than voracious Big Ag. According to the National Corn Growers Association, 30% of US corn ends up as fuel ethanol, while 5% is grown as corn syrup for junk food sweeteners and fizzy pop. Ain’t it grand that we’d sooner say there are too many human beings in the world than too much Coca-Cola, Honey Nut Cheerios, or Special K?
Food security and ecological sustainability are impossible without democratic control of land. Only through land nationalisation can we introduce the connected landscapes, smart cities and wildlife corridors that will let ecosystems bend, not break. As with homelessness a century ago, the problem facing a population of 7 billion is not too many people crowding too small a piece of land, but too few people owning too much world.
Ed. Notes: Actually, you don’t have to nationalize land. All you have to do is share land’s rental value. You see, members of society spend piles of money for land, natural resources, ecosystem services, and government-granted privileges like utility franchises which grant monopolies over certain regions. People’s spending for nature and privilege is by far the biggest flow within the GDP. So you’d get your government to redirect that flow with user fees, Land Dues, maybe land taxes, so to fill up the public treasury, the disburse it back out again as dividends to citizens.
When owners must pay Land Dues to compensate their neighbors for excluding them from their private property (as their neighbors would do for them), then owners lose any reason to own more land than they can use, land that others need. Why bother collecting rent from tenants if you just have to turn around and hand it over to your community? So you don’t bother. That’s how the tax on land value broke up humungous land holdings in nations all over the world and widely spread ownership of land to most of the population.
Taiwan did it and when former tenant farmers became family farmers, they rooted out hunger and — lo and behold — cut population growth by 40% in one generation. So economic justice is a win/win for both issues — ownership and population growth. Geonomics can be that powerful.