Why do we carefully collect all of the urine and faeces of every human in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and presumably most of the rest of world in beautifully crafted ceramic or stainless steel bowls connected to a massive plumbing system and then pump the incredibly valuable nutrient directly out to the ocean?

Why do we allow cities and towns all around the world to keep street lights, illuminated advertising and empty office lights on after 11pm at night when this consumes more than 20% of electrical power generation?  This is even more ridiculous when normally the promoters of this are screaming for the introduction of carbon taxes at the same time.

Why do we build these very strange cities which contain massive buildings that are occupied for less than fifty hours per week and cover the earth with tar and cement when we could house the entire population of the world seven people to a four bedroom house on one thousand square metres of land in an area the size of the US state of Texas?

Why do we make products that have such a short life that practically everything that is made becomes landfill within a few years?

I am interested in this topic because I have been harangued all of my life about the “population explosion” destroying the planet.  It turns out that some fairly simple analysis demonstrates that the number of people is not the problem.

For example, I live in a four bedroom house with a double garage, 3 toilets and 2 bathrooms, 2 living areas, a large dining area and kitchen on a quarter acre block of land (1000 sq m).  That house could easily house 7 or 8 people in considerable comfort.  For comparison, my English grandparents raised 11 children in a considerably smaller house in Birkenhead.  For the sake of argument, let’s accept the official estimate of the world population as being just under 7,377,490,000 at the time of writing and growing at the rate of 46,500 per day. .  Again, for simplicity, lets imagine that the entire population of the world was housed in this manner with an average of 7.4 people per household, … a manner which we have been told is “unsustainable” and the “people in the west” can’t expect to have this way of life forever.  The arithmetic starts to tell an interesting story.  The entire population of the world could be comfortably housed in an area of 250 million acres of land, an area about 50% bigger than the US State of Texas which is 172 million acres (  

Now imagine that this area is divided into 10,000 cities of equal size.  This would mean that these cities would each be 25,000 acres… the equivalent of a square of land 10km wide by 10km long.  These cities, each with a population of 740,000 people, could be dotted around the earth and we would be unobservable by satellite imagery (that is a little joke btw… I don’t “believe” in satellites so we are never going to be observed by them anyway).

Now lets play with the thought of living in cities like this.  Each dwelling is on a quarter acre (1,000 sq m).  The rainfall of every roof is collected and possibly stored commonly for 100 households.  Every toilet is connected to a central unit where the nutrient is collected and digested to produce methane and electricity and nutrient recycled in farms and gardens.  The land between the houses is used for growing food and fish based hydroponics.  People walk to whatever place they need to walk to.  At any time they can walk out of the city and into the vast wideness of the planet.  The adventurous souls could set off to explore the world on foot, passing through the wilderness or travelling the oceans to the other ten thousand cities.

On this scale, the Earth is vast and munificent, with no person being limited by time or space or opportunity.  All people could live well, free of the tyranny of machines, so close to their friends that they wouldn’t need to use facebook or mobile phones.

The purpose of this discussion is not to propose Utopia.  The purpose was simply to demonstrate that the number of human beings on this vast creation is tiny is comparison to the riches available for us to harvest and live well.  If there is a problem, it is with the completely and utterly pointless manner in which our cities and our lives are now managed.

Typically, people live thirty or forty kilometres from where they work.  Many people regularly travel more than one hundred kilometres.  As a mining engineer, I would regularly travel thousands of kilometres on a weekly basis to go to work.  Vast areas of our Earth are covered over with tar and cement to facilitate travel between where we live and the buildings where we work.  And let’s think about the tasks most of us are performing.  Making coffee, selling liability insurance for bad coffee, making barbie dolls, packaging for barbie dolls, writing and creating ads for the barbie dolls, writing and making content which people watch so that they will also see the barbie doll ads, making machines to make the barbie dolls, fixing the machines to make the barbie dolls, cutting down trees to make the cardboard to package the barbie dolls, making the cardboard to package the barbie dolls, making machines to make cardboard to package the barbie dolls, fixing the machines… then there is ink, printing machines, banking, insurance etc etc etc.

Profligacy… it’s a thing.


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