Friday, July 15, 2011

2050: The Year We Eat Each Other

Nobody cares about overpopulation anymore, despite the fact that it is one the biggest threats facing humanity and the nation. So there's this: 2050: The Year All [sic] Eat Each Other.

Since I was about thirteen I've worried about overpopulation. I also began, fairly early on, worrying about the national debt, totalitarianism, and human irrationality in general. Let me add: these worries were not implanted in me by the interwebs, which did not exist, nor by coddling upper-middle class parents who encouraged precociousness and political awareness; those also did not exist. Rather, these problems just seemed huge to me from very early on. Finally the debt is being taken seriously--by the wrong people, at the wrong time, in the wrong way, after having been ignored when it was more easily fixable and now pumped up to mind-numbing proportions. I expect no less with respect to overpopulation.

It's a topic that drives smart people to say very, very stupid things. (In one conversation, a Ph.D. friend of mine averred that the U.S. couldn't be overpopulated because we could all stand comfortably in a few square miles. In others, allegedly intelligent people have earnestly pointed out to me that other countries have more people than we do. Or that many people live in Manhattan! And on and on.)

Big business and establishment types have even taken to arguing that we need more people--to bolster Social Security and so forth. And, of course, there are benefits associated with population growth. Short-term benefits with long-term, serious costs. But such folks don't care much about the environment and never have, and they are not known for taking the long view.

Liberals could once be depended to to fret about overpopulation on environmental grounds...but no longer. Most people have very muddle political positions, and they vaguely wander to positions that are occupied by their friends and eschewed by their opponents. The hard right has gone ballistic about illegal immigration. Instead of maintaining a sane position, many liberals have, reactively, decided that illegal immigration must not be a problem at all! And, in fact, one now hears even them mouthing nonsense about population growth being an overall good. The mind, it reels...

So we're doomed.

Of course one has to sometimes take a a bit of a long-term hit for short-term gains in crises. The debt is a problem, but we need to crank it up a bit in order to stimulate the economy in order to get things moving. And it might be that certain economic problems could and should be mitigated by prolonging our rapid/rabid population growth a bit longer. But I doubt it. Slowing growth and building it down now would be extremely difficult; doing so after 40 more years of unbridled growth with be a nightmare. And this problem is not going to go away--it must be faced, and it is very unlikely to ever get any easier.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

my cabin don't leak when it doesn't rain*

*Arkansas state song

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:17 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Doesn't matter to the population discussion, of course, which is about, e.g., carrying capacity... But interesting.

6:30 PM  

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