The Cancer of Overpopulation
I’m reading Dan Brown’s latest release INFERNO, and I must say the scenario depicted in the story is uncomfortably realistic. The bottom line is the blatant fact that the human species has terminal cancer simply based on the etiology and definition of cancer: the uncontrolled replication of cells. In other words, exponential growth with no checks and balances.
Here’s a passage from the book that gave me pause. It’s Bertrand Zobrist, the villain and mad scientist in the story, who’s solution to overpopulation and inevitable demise of the human race is to create a plague by releasing a virus into the water, explaining to Dr. Elizabeth Sinskey, the biologist who heads up the World Health Organization (WHO), the data behind his doomsday scenario.
“Consider this. It took the earth’s population thousands of years–from the early dawn of man all the way to the early 1800’s–to reach one billion people. Then, astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to double the population to two billion in the 1920’s. After that it took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four billion in the 1970’s. As you can imagine, we’re well on track to reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added another quarter-million people to planet Earth. A quarter million. And this happens every day–rain or shine. Currently, every year, we’re adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.”
Based on these mathematical determinants alone, by the middle of the current twenty-first century, the population of Earth will have reached nine billion people. It is estimated that the earth can comfortably support about four billion people with her natural resources. Is this the “elephant in the room” that no one wants to talk about? Dr. Sinskey defends her organization against Zobrist’s accusation that the WHO is ignoring the problem by citing its recent spending of millions of dollars sending doctors into Africa to deliver free condoms and educate the people about birth control. Zobrist counters by citing the activity of Catholic missionaries who poured in behind the WHO and told the Africans that if they used the condoms they would all go to hell. The result was a new environmental issue of landfills overflowing with unused condoms. As the conversation unfolds, Zobrist points to a passage in the works of Florentine Renaissance historian, Niccolo Machiavelli:
“When every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove themselves elsewhere, the world will purge itself.”
In my lifetime, the population of Earth has nearly doubled. Will my children and grandchildren and their babies see and experience the painful but inevitable purge of the human species? Are we now poised on the precipice of Dante Alighieri’s INFERNO, book one of his Divine Comedy, with its seven “rings” of hell and sea of human bodies wallowing in their own waste and begging for death to end their misery? And, as Dante proposes, must we pass through hell and purgatory in order to arrive at Paradise? In other words, is there a Golden Age to follow this dark age we seem to be entering?
Every Tuesday now as the garbage truck stops in front of our house to dump our trash dumpster into its huge belly, I wonder how long it will take us to run out of space for landfills. In my youthful days, we had a burning barrel for paper trash, dug a hole for cans and bottles, and carried out food scraps in a slop bucket to feed to the hogs and chickens. But those days are long gone. Thankfully, we have recycling today to take care of much of our paper and other solid waste–and we have a compost bin for our food waste and back-yard garden–if only everyone took responsibility to collect their recyclables and deliver them to the collection sites. I see so much laziness and lack of caring for the Earth in our town. I want to knock at doors and say “Wake up! Don’t you see where this carelessness is headed?! Take care of your Home!”
I will leave you with this encouraging fact in the world of physics. For every disintegrative process there is an integrative process taking place. It’s a universal principle of cosmic economy. Some of us have the job of managing and stewarding the disintegrative process, and others of us are employed in the integrative process (and there is a new integrative process underway, has been for some time only the news media doesn’t cover it.) It’s the nature of the Creative Process to “waste not, want not,” as my wife says and her mother before her — and balance is maintained at all cost. So will it be for our human species and planetary Home among the stars.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. Until my next post,
Be love. Be loved.
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