Counterpoint by Mark Nicol – Population: The elephant in the room

| November 26, 2020

Paddy: “I says Sean, its ‘ellish dark in ere. An ders sumtin inda room – hoooooj – an growin! Der aint no room ta moov.”

Sean: “Troo! … But its wurs …”

Paddy: “Wurs?” …

Sean: “Ay … its bin eatin peanuts fur tree days.”

Peruse any headlining subject in this forum, in any discussion of mankind’s challenges today, and the monumental excess of human beings on the planet will be a fundamental impelling factor.

Lack of housing in the Sydney environs? A no-brainer. Australia is a predominantly barren continent vastly overpopulated with human beings. Excess human numbers flock to the green verges, to intensive commercial hubs, to cosmopolitan conviviality, (to what was once a beautiful verdant harbour). Let the insidious town planner find a way to smooth away the causal truth, and condition the flock to ever smaller pens.

Global ecological degradation and climate change? Please.

The failure of democracy? Well, here there are more compelling causes. But the super-monolithic demographies contained in modern civilizations, plus the all-encompassing hum of human telecommunications today exacerbate herd mentality. The flighty flock veers, Left, Right, without reason, in chaotic response to fearful over-crowding, shouts of urgency, that brute instinct to follow a herd.

Global military confrontations? The egoistic machinations of imperialistic mindsets, of individual rulers, regimes, and national cultures, this is the transparent cause. Cultural abidance with egoistic ideological visions geared to imperialistic conquest, henotheist or secular, this is a factor now purposefully ignored (on count one).

But organized warfare generated in human history, perhaps more fundamentally, as an outcome of increasing human contestants for diminishing natural resources. Ongoing agricultural revolutions, (and now the aquaculture venture), have greatly raised the human holding capacity of this planet.

Yet we are certainly experiencing the last-dash scramble to seize natural wealths, signifying that the planet is vastly over-populated. And when this push turns to shove, there will be large-scale war.

Beyond the faded misanthropic remonstrations of that forlorn outcast, Paul Ehrlich, why does not one human commentator, today, point to human numerical excess as the paramount cause of all serious problems on this planet?

Let us look at other issues of human challenge prominent in this forum, and connect the causal dots together.

Covid-19? Viral pandemics thrive in super-monolithic host populations, especially where infective contact is assisted by constant inter-population travel, by travellers spending long periods in intimate contact. Anyone for a cheap cruise ship deal?

Heralding another bush-fire season? Yes, from the evidence in Australia, the USA, and Canada, (plus all of the newly developing hot-spots on the planet), our bush-fires are becoming annual, near apocalyptic events. Is the failure to reduce tinder a cause? Yes, partially. Yet bush-fires are beginning to burn in regions where they have never occurred, on record, before – such as in rainforests of Tasmania and Queensland.

Global warming, desiccation of great swathes of hitherto moist habitat, has more than doubled the fire-prone area on the planet in the last few decades. As for the root cause of climate change? 500 million human beings should emit much less in greenhouse gases than 8 billion.

We might trade an excess of people for the great swathes of human felled forest that once took CO2 from and put O2, (→ O3), plus H2O back into the Earth’s atmosphere. But, by all means, let’s stick to that pure qualitative means of redress, per capita emissions reductions of just one gas, for our global warming, bush-fire problems. It’s working so well.

China? Never bite the hand that feeds you. But if that body is simultaneously pointing a gun at your head, then you seem to have a bit of an existential dilemma. Not just for Australia, but for the entire human populace, this is the China problem.

The signalling event of China’s imperialistic intentions was welcomed by cosmetic humanitarians in the West. In 2015 China abandoned the one-child policy, deemed draconian by our enlightened, (human) liberalist culture. But the freedom that China untethered, in 2015, was the same as that announced by every individual who has more than two children, by every national culture increasing its population. Avowedly, or unknowingly, this is the statement:

Ego venire. Volo vincere.

I will trample over every other living thing on this planet, in order to claim my rightful, increased numerical dominion.

What China brings to this ultimately ecocidal and homicidal procession is, simply, a most calculated and effective imperialistic stealth. And how do other nations, feeling threatened by Sinese imperialistic outreach, react?

They raise their military capacities, the economic dimensions that feed this, the population dimensions that feed this. It is in this sense that the China threat has become the symbolic and real maniacal dynamo, generating one final act of madness in the human volitional prospectus.

Should we tend nuanced soft talk to the likes of Hitler, Stalin, or Xi Jinping?

Remember, the megalomaniac you don’t see coming is the one that will tether you – the one that eschews brazen, over-ambitious military force, utilizes sly, methodical economic manipulation coupled with strategic colonization and military buildup. And yet it is India, the seemingly benign, beaming face of mankind’s fecund excess today, which is faring almost as well in murderous imperialistic outreach – just by continually exporting its unchecked, burgeoning numbers world-wide.

Why is mankind, unanimously, locked into this fated expansionist design?

Pre-programmed instinct, psychology, impels all animals towards maximal fecundity. For all animals on planet Earth, apart from Modern Man, this is not an ecological problem. Ecosystem balances are maintained because, if a species populates beyond a certain threshold, then it veritably eats itself out of house and home such that its numbers return to a symbiotic balance. But the unique, intellected and super-dominant predator, Modern Man, has learnt how to ‘beat the house’.

As an intellectually accomplished technocrat, Modern Man has developed an agriculturally based method of prodigious and efficacious subsistential provision. Man manufactures his daily meals, by placing voluminous lands under agriculture and stock, and is thus the only Earthly creature controlling an existential destiny.

But ominous geoecological feedback tells us, today, that we have exceeded the tenable limit of humans we can feed on planet Earth. Then what of the fecund instinct of the dumb animal, the anthropocentric vision of liberalist ideology, the consuming avarice of constant growth economics, the imperative nationalist buildup of militant human arsenals?

Collectively, unanimously, these now dysfunctional instincts, ideologies, (and one seemingly inescapable competitive circuitry), compel us towards a common pact, now suicidal: Go forth and multiply.

Ah yes, but the conceited technocrat is confident – that man can beat the house, again. I hope, for the sake of all the silent creatures on this Earth, that this is not the case. But, in the parlement of an anthropocentric democracy, does a chimp get a vote?

If it is not just considered sacrilegious to argue for a mass diminution of human numbers, it is, rightly, considered nigh on impossible to practicably achieve. Of course, we have two propositions here – one subjective, moral, the other objective, a matter of rational, logistical feasibility.

The moral ask, to reduce the human occupation of this planet, can only be successfully propagated by a commanding new ideological institution, perhaps a Church of Native Divinity imploring man towards a reverence for Life on Earth.

The rational, logistically envisaged procession towards depopulation must firstly come from a body of global governance, Western controlled, and reversing that patronage of incompetent cultures, dumb and/or deranged, now practised by the U.N. The general policy must tax the second child into oblivion, place punitive trade embargoes or enact harsher measures upon cultures that do not comply.

Of course this sounds draconian. But an intelligent volitional culture does not wait for pandemics, famines, war, and ecological catastrophes to do the job that reasoned humbling of its own numbers will do, with far less pain. And the writing is on the wall. We are heading towards a Great Rationalizing Event, one way or another.

Humanum imperium est, mortem, mortuus.

If we run a global one-child policy, stringently, for 250 years, we will reach that magic number of 500 million, space enough for all living things on Earth to thrive.

The Darling Buds of May syndrome:

The Darling Buds of May is a delightful English tale, fleshing out the joys of a very large family living in a rural setting. Akin to the Wind in the Willows, this is a picture-world where the unavoidable predatory and delimiting facets of real life are glossed over with the mythological soft-lens. Would that we could live that way.

But the first and final mooring place of self-indulgence is the harbour of myth.

Paddy: “Argggh!”

“Wus dat da elefant?” …

Sean: “No Paddy. Sorry, but I coodiny elp it … E’s squished me.”