Two Essays on Overpopulation

Overpopulation 1

Planet Earth has had 5 major extinction events; all related to natural phenomena such as the secondary effects of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs; or mega-volcanic eruptions like Toba and Thera. We are now in the 6th major extinction cycle, The Holocene Extinction, which correlates to human activity beginning about 10,000 years ago.

This extinction event is due to the adverse effects  Homo sapiens have had on animal and plant habitat encroachment, habitat fragmentation, over hunting, over fishing, pollution and climate change. At present human beings are responsible for the loss of 140,000 plant and animal species each year, which is 1000 times the normal rate. It is estimated that by year 2050, another 30 to 50% of all current life on Earth will be made extinct by human activity.

In the 1960s, Desmond Morris warned against the “population explosion.” This was a reiteration of a 1940s concept that seemed exaggerated and was ignored. He postulated that overcrowding might cause terminal damage to previously relatively stable social structures that humans had evolved over the 5-million-year course of their development. This is mirrored by modern warfare and ever worsening social, religious and racial friction.

Because we as humans have chosen to neglect family planning and /or to only replace ourselves one for one, of greater concern is the scientific projection that the planet cannot support more than 10 billion people when it will reach the tipping point of depleted resources and mass famine. At present we are at a population of 7.125 billion. In that case, just as men lost at sea in the 1800s had nothing to eat but their dead colleagues; cannibalism might not be so far from a frightening reality.

However, to put things into perspective, Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Life began will one celled organisms about 3.8 billion years ago. Since that time 4 billion species, or 90% of all life that ever existed on Earth has become extinct.

This means that natural events, such as volcanic eruptions, meteor strikes and other cycles such as the Milankovitch Earth orbital, axis shifts and precession wobbles, which contribute more to global temperature changes then a few puffs of human carbon emissions; will ensure that human activity will also come and go like all the rest. It is an inevitability that either we will create the circumstances for our own extinction; or that the God will take out his eraser; and wipe the blackboard clean again.

 

  H bomb

 

The population explosion; Worse than atomic warfare

Photo © National Archives
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