Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ten Billion People Marching Your Way



A Broad-billed Hummingbird stretches out while it still has the room.

Overpopulation. Its a scary concept, really. In many places in the world, it is already a fact of life. Malnutrition and the threat of starvation are constants in many peoples lives. Forests, wetlands, marshes are burned, drained and paved over to make way for people and cows and crops. Clean water is a luxury, not something to flush down a toilet. 27,000 species go extinct each year in tropical forests alone. Global warming makes us all sound doomed.

Parched, cracked mouths, empty swollen guts
sun-baked pavement encroaches on us
Haves and have-nots together at last
Brutally engaged in mortal combat

What kind of god would orchestrate such a thing?
Ten billion people all suffering
Truth is not an issue, just hungry mouths to feed
Forget what you want, scrounge the things you need.

- From Bad Religion's Ten in 2010

Privately, most of my friends and colleagues alike think population regulation is not only a good idea, it is completely necessary for the natural world and human world alike (although any distinction is arguable). As places like China and India become wealthier, their consumption rates will go up and up. China surpassed the United States in the last year in the amount of "resources" they use up annually. Imagine dozens of nations that have people who want to live a lifestyle like the wasteful, privileged ones we lead in the United States, that get a little closer to it every year. People must be able to live with some security (and I'm not talking about the Homeland variety), but this is not something the Earth will be able to take for very long.

There are almost 7 Billion people in the world right now....that's a lot of people!

China, to my knowledge, is the only country that has an active policy that controls the number of children people can have. The single-child policy has prevented the births of approximately 400 million people to date, which is considerably more than the entire population of the United States. As my good friend and colleague Nice Lady pointed out, this has resulted in many orphaned children and a lopsided sex ratio (in traditional Chinese culture, boys are expected to care for their parents when they get older, so are often the favored gender when people have a child), and who knows how many other problems. But the law seems to be a success on some levels, with no plans or any serious discussion to discontinue it.

Well we've all got the right guaranteed by the state,
And even a god demands that it's my job
Just to procreate
For everyone to feed something's gotta bleed
Now are you going to take until there's nothing to do but leave?

Bulldoze and level the loam
Ag land under your home
The fire in the jungle is hard to contain
The factory farm don't make it easy to sustain
People with a narrow scope
Market a supply of disposable hope
And the masses will demand it every day....


- From Cobra Skulls' Overpopulated

Aside from China, there is almost no serious discussion in the public sphere about overpopulation and how to cope with it....which is understandable....its a political nightmare in any country and any culture. You just can't tell people they can't have kids. It violates people's most basic sense of freedom, and to suggest otherwise would come across fascist. In many places it is traditional to have large, sprawling families, and when people cling to notions that contraception is wrong and abortion is worse than killing an actual human being, there is no chance. Then there is the fact that God himself wants you to breed. And how do you even start this conversation with somebody who has a couple of young children? Talk about offensive.

This is the political reality, and the world is worse for it.

I don't have any solution to this, other to recommend that that you don't have a litter of kids Octomom-style, to stop eating cheap meat constantly and to watch what you buy and what you throw away. Or.....do what you think is best.

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