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September 29, 2012

I am a lucky living thing.  Though I have been hungry, I don’t recall that I’ve ever gone hungry.  If we narrow our gaze to humans only, I’m still lucky, but I don’t think I’m in the minority, although I don’t think that majority – of people who have never gone hungry – is particularly massive; I just think it’s somewhere over 50%.  I could be wrong.

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There are approximately 6 billion humans living on earth.  I understand that it is projected that there will be 9 billion by 2050 or maybe it’s the year 2100.  These figures and years can be very very approximate for the purposes of this blog and what I want to discuss.

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I heard on the radio the other day that there is some organization that is called something like Food for Nine Billion.  It is, I believe, an organization that is trying to make sure that all nine billion humans will be adequately fed when we reach that awesome population number.  This is a laudable goal.  I think.

I don’t think that an ever increasing human population is any sort of victory.  Of course, this puts me in a similar position as those people whose ancestors, anywhere from ten to 235 years ago, came from various parts of the globe to the USA, and now feel that we need to close the ports to immigrants.  It’s an ‘I’ve got mine’ attitude, a sense of entitlement that I don’t particularly care for.  Yet here I am, living on earth and wondering if we really need an ever increasing population.

Here’s the thing.  People go hungry now.  If we have adequate food now, it is not being distributed in such a way that all have a sufficiency.  And if the population is going to grow from 6 to 9 billion, it seems likely that an ever greater percentage of the human population will go hungry.  But suppose Food for Nine Billion is a blazing success.  We reach a human population on earth of 9 billion people and they’re all adequately fed.  What will happen next?  Presumably the 9 billion, adequately fed, will have the energy to do what all living things seek to do.  Multiply.  So, once we reach 9 billion, how quickly will we reach 10?  11?  12?  20 billion?  Can that many be adequately fed?  Can the earth produce that much food, and can it be distributed from the places that it is produced to the places that don’t produce enough for their local population?  Or will we have a planet with 20 billion people, half of whom go hungry?

Here I am only writing about food.  What about land, energy, medical care, natural resources?  What about fights (wars) over scarce items?  Such as land, energy, medical care, natural resources.

I know I’m not the only person who thinks the human population must, at least, level off, for the well-being of all (or even most), but outside of mainland China, is anyone doing anything about it?  And I fear that thinking this way puts me in both good and bad company. 

China has limited the number of children couples may have, but at least it’s their own people they’re placing these odd and perhaps unnatural laws upon.  Will other societies, other political entities be so reasonable?  Or will we see an uprising of political entities who insist that limits must be placed on the population growth, not of their own group, but other groups?  Fewer Jews, fewer Muslims, fewer Koreans, fewer left handed folk, fewer redheads, fewer black Africans, fewer dancers, fewer woodworkers, fewer daydreamers….  Fewer of you, but more of me.

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Oh my goodness, I so wish I had some answer.  Some plan to proffer.  Even some good solid sense to expound upon.  I do not.  I just see no positive end in sight, as the human population requires more space, uses more natural resources, encroaches on more of other species’ natural habitat, and grows and grows and grows.  Like a cancer.

Perhaps, if we could stop believing (pretending) that we are made in God’s image, we could, somehow, dwindle to some small band, and let the earth be.  Green and blue and beautiful.

 

 

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