October 24, 2006

Planet Earth – Standing Room only

Why are people so squeamish about death?

And why is it that having babies is seen as the highest achievement of our species?

The Catholic church opposes any form of contraception… American aid nowadays often is accompanied by a no contraception education condition… overseas aid is often just shipped into countries as a short term band aid without much in the way of longer term assistance being put in place. Oh, money is spent and some infrastructure is built but it doesn’t stop a recurring pattern of famines from happening.

Africa should be able to feed itself, or it could some hundreds of years ago before the population got as high as it presently is. Planet Earth could support its population when it was lower. Now we are using up its resources at an unsustainable rate and the population of the planet is continuing to increase at an exponential rate.

I am not suggesting that we literally take people out and shoot them in order to reduce the population, but wouldn’t some form of population control be a good idea over the long term? China is showing the way here with its One Child law. (At least the idea is sound, anyway.) In order to hand over the planet to the next generation in some sort of working order, shouldn’t we limit the size of the next generation so that it doesn’t have to go through the painful learning process that we are going through right now, but more so?

Nature has a way of limiting populations itself by the process of supply and demand. Arctic wolves and rabbits are linked quite closely in this way, and it could be said that humans are, too. Too many mouths to feed in Ethiopia? A famine reduces the numbers, except that Western aid gets involved and so the problem becomes perpetuated year in and year out with whole nations whose only flaw is to be situated in an area with a fragile eco-system which ends up constantly teetering on the edge of starvation. Is that all that our First World know how has achieved?

It seems that the whole idea of actually telling people that they need to have fewer mouths to feed is taboo. Yet with smaller populations there would be more resources to go around and, as an immediate consequence how many conflicts would be tempered as a result? Anyone want to consider the effects on the climate, pollution, rainforest or species on the verge of extinction while we’re here? And what about the effects of the so-called super diseases in our crowded societies?

So why is it taboo to say to people: don’t have so many babies? We have this romantic idea about babies representing the rebirth of the human spirit and get all gooey and, why not, they are… to a point. But like anything, too many and they become a form of pollution capable of bringing whole nations to their knees. What is wrong with educating people about the problems of over-population? For some reason this is a step that few people can consider taking.

Similarly, life expectancies are increasing and yet so is the amount of research into ways to extend that still further. Life and death are natural cycles, but we are continuing to pour in at one end while stopping up the plug hole at the other. A dignified end to a life is all that is suggested rather than what often seems to happen these days where the older generation hangs on, wheezing away its last breath with an ever decreasing quality of life. Instead of forcing them to hanging on by their fingertips and the brilliance of modern medicine we should release people from painful illnesses with quiet dignity.

And so it would appear that death is to be avoided at all costs and all births – and as many as possible – are to welcomed. No wonder it appears that the long term plan of all of Humanity is to make Planet Earth standing room only…

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