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Sustainable Society:  A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.







National Optimum Population Commission-NOPC-proposal

Optimum Population

E. O. Wilson*

M. Boyd Wilcox, Founder


The following is a quote from "The Diversity of Life", by E. O. Wilson, published in 1992 by W. W. Norton and Company. This section appears on pages 328-29 of the paperback edition.

"The raging monster upon the land is population growth. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct. To say, as many do, that the difficulties of nations are not due to people but to poor ideology or land-use management is sophistic.

"If Bangladesh had 10 million inhabitants instead of 115 million, its impoverished people could live on prosperous farms away from the dangerous floodplains midst a natural and stable upland environment. It is also sophistic to point to the Netherlands and Japan, as many commentators incredibly still do, as models of densely populated but prosperous societies. Both are highly specialized industrial nations dependent upon massive imports of natural resources from the rest of the world.

"If all nations held the same number of people per square kilometer, they would converge in quality of life to Bangladesh rather than to the Netherlands and Japan, and their irreplaceable natural resources would soon join the seven wonders of the world as scattered vestiges of an ancient history.

"Every nation has an economic policy and a foreign policy. The time has come to speak more openly of a population policy. By this I mean not just the capping of growth when the population hits the wall, as in China and India, but a policy based on a rational solution of this problem: what, in the judgment of its informed citizenry, is the optimal population, taken for each country in turn, placed against the backdrop of global demography?

"The answer will follow from an assessment of the society's self-image, its natural resources, its geography, and the specialized long-term role it can most effectively play in the international community. It can be implemented by encouragement or relaxation of birth control and the regulation of immigration, aimed at a target density and age distribution of the national population.

"The goal of an optimal population will require addressing, for the first time, the full range of processes that lock together the economy and the environment, the national interest and the global commons, the welfare of the present generation with that of future generations. The matter should be aired not only in think tanks but in public debate. If humanity then chooses to breed itself and the rest of life into impoverishment, at least it will have done so with open eyes."

Note: This quote does not constitute an endorsement by E. O. Wilson for any particular political course of action. It is simply a reflection of his views on the subject of optimum population, at the time they were written. However, on March 21, 1995, Mr. Wilson officially endorsed the National Optimum Population Commission (NOPC) proposal, which would establish a process for determining the optimum, sustainable population of the United States.
This is an accessory document to the official letter/petition proposal to establish the NOPC.
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