John Howe on one child per woman: still too high to stay under oil depletion curve

[In the graph below, you can see that “Howe’s slide says that even with 1 child per female we don’t stay under a depletion curve of 1% per year” — private communication from Charles A. S. Hall May 13, 2012]

My comment: It looks to me live even NO children per year doesn’t stay under the energy depletion curve, especially when you consider that the most likely depletion rate is 9% per year, not 1% per year!  On the other hand, the death rate is likely to go way up as people succumb to diseases as malnutrition and starvation increase, made worse by the numerous antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. It looks like we reached Peak Food in America in 2014, and back in 2012 Lester Brown believed Peak Food was reached worldwide.

Below is an excerpt from John Howe’s article with this graph at the bottom:

population 1 child per woman not good enough john howe













The only  possible way to achieve 1CPF in a modern free society is with vast publicity and peer pressure. The public must realize that extra children born today will not only compete with everyone else for resources, but their parents will be there to see them suffer in a world which will get a whole lot uglier.  The planet is a finite entity so we must respect the reality of numbers. Please join this mission and get involved.

Negative population Growth: Because we expect to live to see our children, and their children and, hopefully, our great-grandchildren, the bulge (momentum) of total population grows long into the future even at a reproductive (sometimes called fertility) rate of only one child per female (1CPF). As shown, the population for a closed group of any size at 1CPF will reach peak population about 30 years after the start of the program and far beyond peak oil and the sum of all energy starting right about now (2011). The numbers are based on a typical demographic pattern of: average age of reproduction at 25 years old, and average death at 80. The starting date for the methodology used assumes an age distribution as follows:

1 to 20 years old, 40%

21 to 50 years old, 43%

51 to 80 years old, 17%

If other age distributions are assumed, the results would be slightly different, but the conclusion would be exactly the same. Because, with modern medicine and dependable food systems, we are so adept at death control, our population grows much larger for even a small birth rate. Before industrial times, the average age at death was much lower because of infant mortality and continuing through brief adulthood with plagues, famines, child-birth death, wars, and just a hard, short life. We can’t have it both ways. Modern health care is not compatible with a fertility rate higher than 1CPF, especially now that energy in the essential forms of food, fuel, and transportation will soon decline precipitously.

John Howe


The included bibliography includes many titles specific to the population problem starting of course with Thomas Malthus, who was “proven wrong” for the last 200 years because of new lands, high-tech agriculture and unlimited fossil fuels. The best contemporary authors start with Al Bartlett (“The Essential Exponential”). He has given thousands of lectures on population throughout the world. Now, in his 80’s, he still has an office at the University of Colorado where he was teaching in the 50’s when I was there as a young engineering student. Another author who combines both sides of the population-resource equation is Lindsey Grant (“The Collapsing Bubble” and, “Too many People”). He is instrumental in the U.S. NGO, Negative Population Growth, Inc. (, which focuses directly on the subject. Another U.S. NGO is World Population Balance ( In the U.K., several of the best books are: “The Rapid Growth of Human Populations” by William Stanton and “The Growth Illusion” by Richard Douthwaite. Similar work is spearheaded by the Optimum Population Trust ( Many are trying to get the facts out. To date, few are listening.

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