Earth’s overpopulation – can we survive?

| March 2, 2021

I am now an Australian Senior Citizen. I’ve seen myriad and profound changes in landscapes, customs and lifestyles. Of all the changes I and my peer group have experienced, I believe the most profound change through my time has been the rapid, ongoing growth of our world population. In 1982, world population was recorded as 4.6 billion. Back then, this number was not a cause a cause for public concern.

First and second world countries largely enjoyed excellent levels of lifestyle. Third world countries struggled on as they always have. Today, world population to the end of 2020 is recorded as being 7.8 billion, nearly double the 1982 level. I follow this growing overpopulation situation from a farmer’s perspective, I understand the consequences of drought and overstocking. Animal starvation follows. With the agricultural base decimated, destroyed or gone, starvation will creep into the human population.

Re Homo Sapiens; (as depicted in Yuval Noah Harari’s recent book, “Sapiens”) I learn that today’s homo sapiens evolved alongside six other “Homo” variants. Sapiens eventually prevailed and spread across the planet, occupying almost every land mass.

Around 1600AD, the Industrial Age appeared. Homo Sapiens began to master production and the use of metals. This led to improving lifestyles that in turn, improved living conditions, agricultural scope and productivity. Sapiens entered an era of innovation and industrialization that required all manner of resources.

Coal, iron ore, copper, timber, food etc. to feed the ever growing hungry labour forces and coal smoke belching factories. No longer largely dependent on subsistence agriculture, sapiens expanded across most lands whilst multiplying in numbers.

To support this industrial revolution, sapiens took from their environments all the resources they required. This happened (and is still happening) across the world. Greed begat capitalism. Profit became sapiens motivator, there was no end in sight. Victoria’s British Empire was built by capitalistic greed, as were many other empires; Portugal, Spain, Holland, France, Russia, to name a few.

Since the 1800’s, Australia, the British vassal state, fell into step with production for export. From about 1950, we became known as the world’s quarry, we exported our numerous minerals for little gain. This state of affairs continues today.

Following is a distillation of my thoughts gathered over time from published works by noted scientists, naturalists and academics, some of whom include James Lovelock, Tim Flannery, David Suzuki, David Attenborough and Yuval Noah Harari.

For years, British scientist Lovelock has been telling us the world (Gaia) is a living organism.  The view of Earth from space certainly adds weight to this view. In a book entitled ‘The Vanishing Face of Gaia’ (written at the age of 92 in 2011), Lovelock lays out the consequences of continually ignoring the needs of our planet.

He contends it is now too late to reverse the path humanity is committed to and that is, species extinguishment. He doesn’t identify when but it can’t be too far away. Harari’s recent tome, ‘Sapiens’, explains how we’ve come to be in this overpopulation situation.

Sapiens is denuding the planet by continually using and exploiting its natural resources. Evidence of this environmental pillage can be seen around the world. Modern science has, and is, showing us where and how we are fouling the planet.

Just about every modern invention and device is another brick in the road to our extinction. Had we been able to cap world population at, say, a manageable 5 billion we would have largely fended off our doomsday.

From a political perspective, it seems corrective action is not an economically viable course – or option. Increasing consumer demand is putting in doubt the planet’s ability to support our burgeoning overpopulation. The world’s population has largely evolved into a ‘throw away society’. Capitalism has become a cancer that is slowly killing us. I am like James Lovelock.

I believe Capitalism t will succeed in killing us off as more humans are born and make more demands on Gaia and her limited resources. No amount of hi tech solutions will save the ‘have nots’ of world society.

Governments around the world are seemingly unable to come together to define solutions and actions. Globally, we’re devoid of strong affirmative leadership and so, like lemmings, collectively, we race to our prophesied doom. I think the majority of us agree action is needed. We’re just helpless spectators witnessing an unfolding tragedy.

It is small comfort indeed to realise that life on earth will carry on but we sapiens will have relinquished our position at the top of the food chain. Life on the planet will succumb to the will of nature and other life species will become dominant.