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Stop Overpopulation (In a confined space)?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by RoseScript, May 10, 2021.

  1. RoseScript

    RoseScript Dreamer

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    Similar to The 100, my story takes place with the new population living in a confined space (except not in outerspace- on a Earth planet instead). Now in The 100, in order to deal with overpopulation, all crimes are punishable by death.
    Without doing that, what is another way one might stop overpopulation in that situation? Or how would a government be able to sustain the growing population, in terms of food, resources, etc.?

    Related: How many years would just be "too many"? before this way of living is simply impossible?
     
  2. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

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    Really depends on the biological needs of the species and available resources.
     
  3. RoseScript

    RoseScript Dreamer

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    Makes sense. I probably should have specified, but the population is humans (or at least a species identical).
    As for resources, possibility one is a destroyed world, (ex. apocalypse-ish world, with limited resources remaining). While the second possibility is a world that's thriving, however the population lives in the confined space for whatever reason.
     
  4. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

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    Tech level of the people in question be it magical or scientific is important. It's a catch 22. The more advanced the society, the larger and more complex it must be to support the tech used to keep itself thriving.
     
  5. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    Do they have contraception?

    There are two basic ways to stop population growth: increase the death rate, or decrease the birth rate. If the birth rate stays at replacement rate, the population would stay roughly the same.
     
  6. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Exile either for crimes or whenever the population exceeds X is another fun option. It's easy to see it as just a death sentence with extra steps, but there's a lot that you can do with them not dying.
     
  7. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

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    If you want no moral shortcomings just make everybody sterile from birth. They can only have childern with the help of highly controlled machines that allow cloning or such. If it's all about numbers and survival that's easy. Quality of life is another along with social stability.
     
  8. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

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    In our modern world, "over-population" is kinda a myth. In a well-planned society, there is enough housing, public transit, and food for everyone (compare this to our current system, where we make really inefficient food like growing corn just to feed cows, and something like 1/4 of all US grown meat goes just to pet food). Getting things from point A to point B is the hardest part, since some parts of the world can't grow a ton of stuff, but if you have enough tech/money/planning you can do greenhouses/vertical farming and such. You can also go highly efficient and everyone eats nutritional paste that's from proteins grown in vats from genetically-egnineered yeasts, but it's not very fun and it's bad for people long term, mentally. But they do have genetically engineered yeasts that make things like caesin so you can make dairy milk and dairy cheese with no cows (or lactose!) involved, which is way more efficient (resource wise) than cows.

    Anyways! You need to figure out what is the limiting factor for your setting as to what is bringing a cap in population. Is it physical space? Oxygen? Water? Medicine? For every one of these, there's going to be people who need (or want) more than the "normal" amount; someone who's diabetic is going to need more medicine than someone who isn't, a person in a wheelchair is going to take up more physical space etc. Rich people/people of status are going to want more/nicer food, lodgings etc. People who do physical labor are going to use more food/water/oxygen than someone at a desk job. How is your society determining what is the "fair share"? People can be paid in coupons/tokens for food/water rations. There's also going to be a black market for these things, too, which is a good source of world building and conflict.

    Also depending on how far out the society is planning, your humans can be genetically engineered to only be able to reproduce during certain conditions, like when there's more daylight per day, there's an abundance of food, there's a specific enzyme they're incapable of making and need to take to keep a pregnancy. Depending on how tight things are, punishment for trying to reproduce "out of turn" can revoke your rights to reproduce at all (how that's done is up to you and how messed up you want your society to be).
     
  9. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    In some indigenous cultures leaving the sick and elderly to die alone used to be practised. It ensured that scarce resources went to the healthiest and fittest people.
     
  10. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    So rumor has it. But there's no evidence that was ever done routinely in any culture.

    If it did happen, it was only in times of very extreme scarcity. Not just normal fluctuations in food availability, but extreme, unrelenting famine. Believing that was ever the norm in any culture is like believing that the people of first century Jerusalem regularly ate their babies because there's a recorded case of someone doing that during the siege. That was never normal, just a very desperate measure taken in a very desperate time.

    And if the elderly were left alone to die, that wouldn't affect the long term population, since these are people who aren't going to procreate in the future anyway. For deaths to decrease the long term population, people who likely would have procreated would have to be getting taken out before they can. Even that doesn't bring the population down in the long run if there are then plenty of births to counterbalance the deaths. World War II, for example, had no real effect on long term population growth even though it had a very high death toll which included many young people, because post war baby booms brought the population right back up.
     
  11. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Inkling

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    Rosemary Tea is correct: indigenous peoples leaving their sick and/or elders to die was usually only practiced in times of famine or other extreme circumstances. I should've clarified this.

    However, the practice of senicide (the killing of elders) is practised in certain parts of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and is referred to as Thalaikoothal. This has been documented in various Indian newspapers including The Hindu and the Deccan Chronicle.

    It's true that killing the sick and/or elderly in itself would not result in population decline but that would depend upon the level of medical science or magic that existed in the world being discussed. However, if it was combined with infanticide where unwanted and/or surplus numbers of babies were killed then this would cause population decline or at least slow down population growth.

    Another - often overlooked - form of population control has been achieved through disease. Indeed, the history of the indigenous peoples of the Americas is a devastating example how the (mostly unintended) transmission of diseases (such as smallpox, measles and the flu) between Europeans and the indigenous peoples wiped out an estimated 90% of their population. The same thing happened on many Pacific islands but not to the same extent.
     
    Eclipse Sovereign likes this.
  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    Am I the only one who's thinking of by far the easiest solution to this, which is that the government decrees a 1-child policy? In our world we've had 1 major experiment with limiting the population size of the country (as far as I know at least), which was China. They simply instituted a 1-child policy, where you got into all sorts of trouble if you had more than 1 child. And it was fairly effective.

    If your society has contraceptives and it is clear why the policy is in place, then you should have no problem controling population size with this kind of planning. And any society which thinks simply killing people over minor transgressions should have no issue with such a measure.

    A few other points. As ChasejxyzChasejxyz mentions, overpopulation is not a thing in modern society. We have gotten so good in growing food that a country like the Netherlands can be the biggest exporter of tomatos in the world (for reference, it's the 133rd country by size...). Any society with modern levels of technology or better will have limited issue with growing / producing enough to keep a population fed. The only two real problems you can run into are limited amounts of energy or limited amounts of materials. If you're on a space station, then you can't make more oxygen or add extra sleeping quaters, simply because you have no materials to do so.

    Another issue is that if you have birth control available then you will have no need for any population control. In the real world, it is the case pretty much everywhere that if birth control becomes easily and cheaply available that family size is self limiting. Many people decide not to have children or to have only one or two. Birthrates across the world are falling in such a way that many countries would see declining populations if it werent for immigration and the increase in life expectancy. The only exception pretty much is in highly religious areas where the cultural norm is that you need to have big families and contraceptives are "forbidden".
     
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  13. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    The issue with any voluntary [and I use that word very loosely] population limitation is if there is a gender preference. If a family is to have only one or a limited number of offspring, which gender would they chose? This could lead to a gender gap, with more of one gender relative to others. This again could cause issues later on.
    I don't want to get in to the politics of the situation in China, but this goes through the issues... Missing Women of China
     
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  14. LCatala

    LCatala Scribe

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    Low infant mortality rate and easy access to contraceptive, in combination, are a strong predictor of decreased birth rate, far more than national policies or ideologies. Currently birthrates are on the decline pretty much everywhere in the world; not at the same rates everywhere, and not at the same point of declines, but most countries have seen significant drops in birthrates since the 1970s, regardless of the kind of culture they have. The only exception is subsaharan Africa, where birthrates ramain quite high, but even there they have started to fall (eg: Nigeria current at 5.39 children per woman, down from 6.78 in 1980; Ethiopia 4.25, down from 7.44 in 1984, Rwanda 4.04 down from 8.46 in 1980, etc).
     
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    How large is this population? Are we talking hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands or what? It makes a difference as to whether there's a strict cap on the population (there's only enough food on this ship for 200 people...), or a general cap (we have enough land for maybe two thousand people), or a fuzzy one (resources are tight enough with twenty thousand, if we keep growing we're going to run out....).

    In the manga/anime Attack on Titan, humanity is trapped within the three walls, and when they faced a population problem, they sent the extra people on a doomed-to-fail suicide war to claim more land until the number went back down.

    There is no humane way for a government to limit the size of a population.
     
  16. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    They would have to exist in a highly controlled society. Everyone would probably have a specific set of duties they'd have to do daily, and not much else. Doing this would keep everyone busy, and curtail (or perhaps foster) rebel activity. They would have to use some form of a controlled breeding program, to avoid the genetic pitfalls of inbreeding and to keep up with the number of people it takes to actually "run" the colony. As stated above your population growth would have to be basically the same as the number of people that are projected to die. The main issue I can foresee is that there is no guarantee that those projections are accurate, so knowing exactly how many people will die will be tricky. Not to mention the whole idea of how long it takes to physically grow and mature (not to mention become educated) to a point where a replacement can replace those that die. Cloning would be an obvious solution to this problem, but that opens a whole other can of worms.

    I would say that in a colony of 100, there would only be maybe 10-12 "vital" positions... it could be possible that everyone born (maybe only 1 or 2 per year) is trained to fill one of those 12 positions, and when one of the positions become vacant, then the best one is chosen to replace them. everyone else just goes about their day doing other things in a not-so-vital position.
     
  17. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    The killing people over minor transgressions part was done in eighteenth century England, which was experiencing rapid, unsustainable population growth and overwhelming migration into cities by desperately poor people displaced by the Enclosure Acts. Crimes punishable by death included pretty much every kind of survival crime, as well as the serious stuff like murder, rape, or treason. It didn't stop their population growth at all. And it created a thoroughly dystopic setup.

    Then they started transporting people to penal colonies for those minor survival crimes. And giving them some sweet deals if they opted to stay in the colonized land when they finished their sentences. Australia acquired a significant portion of its settlers that way.

    If your fictional society is punishing petty crime with death, it must be a dystopian one. If you intend this to be a dystopia story, by all means, use that premise. If you don't intend it to be a dystopia story, that premise doesn't fit.
     
  18. MrNybble

    MrNybble Sage

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    Before there was contraceptives and capital punishment there was war to control populations. If there are too many people you just have them go take resources from others that have what they need. There will be fighting and dying. In the end you will have less people. It has worked for thousands of years as nations invaded others because they need stuff to keep their own numbers going.
     
  19. Stevie

    Stevie Scribe

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    How many years would this be possible for? Potentially indefinitely, if your society can keep the rate of consumption of resources below the rate of production and your resources are renewable. One simple way to keep the consumption of resources under contol is for people to do as little as possible. I remember reading somewhere about pre-Indutrial France, that outside of busy periods (sowing and harvest), peasants would spend a lot of time laying in bed. Not because they were lazy, just to conserve energy.

    So your society could have enforced hibernation or sleep periods! Along with food rationing, heavy penalties for food related crime, taboos on energy wasting activites, elevation of frugality as a virtue...
     
  20. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I would love to know how true this was... I can't imagine anyone having much idle time. There would always be animals to tend, wood to cut, cloth to weave etc.
    Sleeping is usually a good way to pass the time with little effort...
     
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