We are too many here!
We are too many here.
We are about 7.6 Billion people now. That is huge to start with. And by most estimates we will be 9.8 Billion in 2050. 2.2 billion more. Cut back to 1916.
We were just 1.8 Billion people on earth!!
I find that scary. We are just too many here.
On top of that, the recent findings in April 2018, that “Death will be 'optional' and ageing 'curable' by 2045“* by José Luis Cordeiro, and Cambridge (UK) mathematician David Wood make me even more worried. Their book The Death of Death claims that immortality is a real and scientific possibility that could happen soon.
It is fun to have a lot of people around. To some, they are more voters, customers, consumers, friends, family, neighbors, and enemies. The more, the better for the economy, social interactions, politics and religions.
It is great that we now live longer and many diseases have disappeared or have been controlled. Hats off to scientists and policy makers! But the flip side is worrying. Population control is ineffective due to many reasons; lack of education, philosophical differences, policies or religious stances.
Why do I say this?
I see the following 8 red flags which are largely being ignored.
1. Religions want more believers and politicians want more voters of their party. How many of them feed or take care of their poor believers to give them quality of life? Instead of encouraging a smaller family and a higher quality life for their followers, they are fighting birth control!
2. Population is growing where it hurts most; among the poorest, in the driest areas and where climate change will have the highest impact. In Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, on an average, a woman has more children than in most countries!
3. Over half the people in the world now lives in urban areas. The pundits say it could go to 70% by the middle of this century. Poor hygiene, pollution, crimes, malnutrition, and diseases are sure especially in the poorer cities. Education could be another casualty with significant impact on everything else.
4. Overcrowding, poverty, and extreme climate will lead to more conflicts and human misery. Resource scarcity and lack of access, particularly for water, could impact sanitation and spark new conflicts. Many cities could become uninhabitable. The impact of crowding on the mental health of inhabitants and initiation of violent behaviors has been well presented by Desmond Morris.
5. Population is dwindling in many developed countries. The solutions such as more immigration creates social issues related to racial and other discrimination.
6. There is strong opposition to technologies such as transgenic that could feed the new guests on our planet. We can’t have the cake and eat it too. Traditional means for increasing productivity in agriculture cannot support projected population growth. Period. Consumption of animal proteins is increasing adding to further straining of environment and agriculture.
7. Tribal politics is gaining ground. We are becoming and are being encouraged to become more tribal. That adds to intolerant attitudes towards groups that we don’t belong to; be they national; religious, political or economic. More conflicts, and misery along the way.
8. Every finite physical system has a maximum carrying capacity. Earth is no different. We can’t ignore that. Some kind of self-regulation operates in nature to check animal populations. Whether we believe in Thomas Malthus’ idea or not - that population growth is exponential while growth of food supply is linear - something will eventually give way. We will have to either manage our population within earth’s natural carrying capacity or exponentially increase food production through advanced technologies and manage the environment differently to support the billions of our new guests.
Forecasts and views will vary in details but the trends are obvious. Better preparation is absolutely needed. It is time to think anew and fight for this case if we care about our grandchildren. Doing nothing about these is not an option. At the macro level, the required actions are beyond national, religious, and biological domains and capacities.
At another level it is quite simple. There are many things we can do as individuals. To state a few, planning family size ignoring religious or political compulsions, is a great place to start. No one can stop us from that. Not wasting natural resources is another. We don't need a law for that. Consuming less or no animal protein is another. That helps the world and the animals. If we are serious about this, there are many more actions we could take.
In any case, we are too many on this train!