Of an Overpopulated Earth Nov
2013 Dale Alan Bryant
A friend posted recently on FB that she was wondering how we might be able to solve many of the social issues that continually plague this planet; at the risk of sounding like I didn't understand the question, I offered the following: To approach this monstrosity, we must find a way to reduce the population of our planet by something like two-thirds. Overpopulation is the cause of nearly ALL of society’s ills. There are currently 7,200,000,000 (7.2 billion) people alive today, each one of us competing to survive in all of society’s diversity. In high-density areas of society, tests of our endurance and tolerance can stress us to near insanity - like in cases of the assorted ‘-rages' - for example, ‘road-rage’, and the mishmash of umpteen other possible flavors of ‘-rage’: how about "supermarket check-out isle” rage or "on-line ‘pop-up’-ad rage"? Our social media is full of alarmingly inappropriate and disproportionately bold commentaries - an all-too-obvious form of ‘virtual’ rage. People will say, (or rather, ‘text’) things to each other on-line that they wouldn’t dare say to each other in their right minds face-to-face. This overzealous, false sense of ‘empowerment’ is in itself disturbing. It seems people would rather ‘socialize’ with others by curiously ‘holing-up’ in the peculiar, dark safety of their bathrooms, detectable only by the unearthly glow of their iPad screens, and passively type lifeless, yet “urgent” alerts to trusted, phantom ‘Friends’ (rather than calling and telling them) of any spontaneous cravings for chocolate mousse, urges to booby-trap their bathtubs - or other important current events. When I was born, in 1957, the world’s population was 2,800,000,000 (2.8 billion). That means that, today, I'm running into almost three times as many people in any given situation than I was in 1957; on average, three times as many people on the road, three times as many at the beach, in the theater, and in the Men's room.
It was my uncle who first introduced the idea of population reduction by means of warfare to me when I was 19. I thought he was nuts! (He was, but that's not really important) He had served in three wars, and in his mind, war was an efficient solution to overpopulation; it not only reduces human numbers, but also stimulates the economy as nothing else could.
If only we could be smarter than that!
However, I don't believe that human beings are capable of imposing on themselves such a drastic idea as active, aggressive, voluntary population control, let alone reduction. At our current rate of population increase, we will be at 11,000,000,000 (11 billion) in only 60 years. Your children, and theirs, are going to have to live in that world. There may be an alternative solution. If our society's collective space programs remain healthy, we, as a species, can begin to populate -- and export large numbers of ourselves -- to at least one other planet -- Mars. In fact, the Dutch-based space industry's 'Mars One' Human Habitation Project is well underway in its quest to send six volunteers to the red planet as the pilgrimage of a permanent Martian settlement. This project is slated for a launch date of April 23, 2023. For these volunteers (I have applied for this mission, BTW), it is a one-way, no-return trip. The prospective ‘Martians’ must be dedicated to the idea of living out the remainder of their lives on another planet--there are no plans for returning disillusioned participants. It won't be easy, but exploration involving new and trying situations never was. Other future colonist missions are planned for extending the colony by up to six at a time at roughly two-year intervals, as are periodic supply shipments, until the colonists have become fully self-supporting. As Mars has only a tenuous atmosphere containing almost no oxygen and no open bodies of water, the new Martians will occupy a system of living-pods connected by tunnels, containing the necessary life-support systems. Voice communication with Earth will even be established by radio, and e-mail service via a Mars-Earth Internet web-server will be maintained, but a 3 to 25 minute delay each way will need to be tolerated, due to the nature of the speed limit of light, radio and other electromagnetic transmissions, and the two planet's relative orbital positions. Whatever the answer to an overpopulated Earth may be, I hope it comes in time to prevent a decision by an utterly hopeless humanity to bring itself to extinction for lack of any other way out.