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12 April 2007

Love to Lead Question 14

Question - Does The World Need Disease To Control Overpopulation?

My answer - Well if it does it’s not working.

Disease and predation are the two factors that normally prevent a species becoming over populated. If they fail then there is a third and final control point…starvation. Humans are not predated on and medical advances are getting ever better at preventing premature deaths. The result is that we have over populated the world. So does this mean we will eventually starve?

I was once quoted by one of my uni lecturers that there are more people alive today than have ever lived! By that he meant that if you add up all the people on this planet who have ever lived but now deceased they would not outnumber those that are currently living. When you think about this it is really quite frightening. The lecture was on environmental sustainability. China got tough with its people by restricting couples to just one baby. This seems harsh to the West but even with this system having been in place many decades now their population is still growing.

Bird flu threatened to become a global pandemic and it would not be unreasonable to expect we were due for something like that but the risk of this appears (touch wood) to have subsided. In the past plague has hit the human population hard but it has not been seen for hundreds of years. Strangely enough Scientists still do not know what the plague was or why it hasn’t been seen in modern times so perhaps that will remain a mystery.

I think the question is a little behind the times. The world is overpopulated as disease has largely lost its grip on us. Any pandemic that kills enough humans to restore the balance would knock out so much of our infrastructure that the world economy would crash. Many otherwise healthy people would then probably starve anyway because food supplies would suffer. The great plague of 17thC killed a 1/3 of the population of the UK, that’s 20million by today’s standards. Now imagine that occurring across the entire world.

We all want to live, and we are doing that very well. Those who are able want to have children and we consider it our right. We all know the world is over populated but which one of us will volunteer to do anything about it? Disease is unlikely to provide the answer and we wouldn’t want it to. There are no acceptable answers. Perhaps the Chinese have come closest to the right idea after all.

1 comment:

A Margarita said...

It is very troubling, and I applaud China for taking steps to limit their population growth, if only that would catch on here. It won't be a cure-all but it will definitely be a step in the right direction. As horrible as it sounds, I think an epidemic would most effectively curb our population growth.