FOREWARNING: I am not saying that I necessarily believe in any of this. In this blog, a tangible transcript of my shower thoughts, I am simply exploring the outcome of a world where humans are unable to meddle with the ways of nature.
Overpopulation. Overpopulation. Overpopulation. It seems that almost all the plights of the 21st century stem from…overpopulation. Global warming? A growth in the human population directly correlates with higher carbon dioxide emissions, exacerbating the problem. Starvation? The earth can only produce so much food especially with the limited resources is has (land, water, etc…) and a growth in the human population makes it impossible to feed everyone. The list goes on.
But does nature have a way to prevent overpopulation?
Animal populations tend to grow exponentially— until limiting factors (limited supply of food or water, disease, predation, etc…) reduce the size of and essentially stabilize the population.
Try cross-applying this to the human population and you will find a few critical flaws:
- We have no natural predators.
- We tackle (or at least attempt to) the problems of limited food and water resources through GMOs and desalination plants, respectively
- Newer medical advancements make disease easier to understand and treat than it was centuries ago, saving many more lives
Could these be the reasons for human overpopulation? And are we screwing ourselves over in the long-term by trying to counteract these natural controls?
When man comes into conflict with nature, nature will ultimately win as proven time and time again. By trying to find loopholes through nature’s population controls, we are simply bandaging the wound rather than treating it, so to speak.
Does this mean we should stop treating disease to allow nature to do its job in controlling the population?
This is where we get into a moral dilemma.
If we were to hypothetically stop treating all genetically-inherited disease, here’s what would happen:
Our population would, obviously, significantly decrease, balancing out human demand and resources. Treatments for diseases such as diabetes and asthma would cease to exist meaning less diabetics and asthma patients would reach the age of maturity, producing less offspring than their healthier disease-free counterparts (reduced individual fitness). Genes that lead to these diseases or any other ones would be selected against in our gene pool and result in a healthier, more robust human population overall (natural selection).
This is a dangerous, highly misanthropic and cynical idea.
We are not solely animals, but passionate, emotional, and empathetic human beings. It is human nature to do whatever possible to save a person especially when considering individual bases.
At the same time, due to the correlation between the exponential growth of the human race and some of the biggest ecological challenges of the 21st century, it is hard to imagine how habitable our planet will be decades from now.
But we must ask ourselves this: Do the lives lost today help save the lives tomorrow?
And that is a question that will remain for centuries to come.