We Can’t Evolve Our Way Out of the Population Explosion

Every species of life has evolved and is here because they successfully adapted to change and had more offspring.  The human population explosion presents risks we’d all like to avoid, such as global economic collapse, famine, and epidemics, but it is caused by having more offspring, exactly the success pattern that got us here in the first place.  We can’t evolve or adapt our way out of this – we will run out of energy and food sooner or later – so we need to reduce our birth rate to a sustainable level by using our brains and being creative – instinct won’t do it for us.  More advanced technologies, conservation, and everything else we are doing today will unfortunately only enable people to have more children, worsening our problems.  Politicians and the media won’t talk about this problem, so we need to.  It is the toughest problem we’ve ever face, and millions or possibly billions of lives hang in the balance. Here are some more in-depth thoughts on this most important topic.

In the face of the population explosion, I was thinking recently about microorganisms and other life forms, and how they evolve.  Current living organisms are here because they have been particularly successful.  Though luck might play a part for some, it’s probably not responsible for long-term success.  They have succeeded by adapting at every scale, from the molecular level up, with the primary goal shared by all life, to increase the species’ numbers.  It is the pursuance of this goal, built into our nature, that creates the population explosion we face, and which threatens our existence.  But does survival always mean expanding the population as fast as possible?  Are there normal regulatory systems built into nature and, more importantly, do those controls apply to us?  If there are no built-in controls regulating the numbers of humans, how can we avoid having our demand overshoot our available resources in the next few decades with potentially disastrous results?

Looking at other species, it appears that the food chain plays a big part in population regulation.  Nutritious molecules, sometimes a part of another living organism, are consumed by larger microscopic creatures. These microscopic creatures are consumed by other larger creatures, and so on, all the way up to the top predator.  Top predators are typically large and have a lot of complex biological systems that can break down as well as much higher energy needs, so they are fewer than prey life forms and have fewer offspring over time.  More importantly, population numbers are usually resource dependent, and a smaller number of available food-critters in a particular season inevitably leads to a smaller number of predators in that and succeeding cycles, though that may mean some of the predators starve to death.  Still, some species adapt to worsening environmental conditions by having less offspring.  Humanity doesn’t seem to have that mechanism,  however, or, at least, the mechanism appears to be obscured by the distraction and confusion that comes with functioning in a global civilization.  We don’t have such control mechanisms … yet.

Key motivators for population control may be absent from humans.  Research has shown that we humans need an emotional/psychological reason to change our behavior. Interestingly, our detection of our most serious problem ever (overpopulation) has been reached through intellectual and not emotional channels, and this may explain why the overpopulation threat lacks the gut-level impact that would get us to recognize it, take it with the seriousness it deserves, and do something about it.  In short, the problem may be that overpopulation doesn’t have a “face” that will be remembered, associated with the problem, and serve as a reminder of the problem and its seriousness.  Unfortunately, without a face most threats are ignored or not taken seriously until too late.

Do some species self-regulate, have fewer offspring, and have them over longer spans of time, so that they don’t exceed the resources in their environment?  Or is population control typically a matter of where one is on the food chain, with control of the top predator species mostly falling to food shortages or the microorganisms at the bottom making them get sick?  That makes me wonder, too – could we identify species that do regulate their own numbers, by whatever mechanism, and study them to learn how they find and maintain a balance between their population and available resources, and what it means to their lives?

If we accept that the purpose of evolved life is to procreate, and that we can’t think and act differently, then we have a big problem and it is us.  We may be intelligent enough to see, understand, and change our behaviors to mitigate the problems, but if thinking for ourselves creates enough confusion and disharmony among us to obscure the population issue, or if our political nature blocks efforts to do something constructive about it, then we have an even bigger problem.  (And, yes, it is still us.)

So far, humanity appears to be like any other species.  We have been successful through adaptation, much of which happens on very small scales such as the development of new capabilities in the brain.  Now, however, with every part of our being aimed fundamentally at increasing our numbers, like a bacterial culture in a petri dish we are facing a point where our numbers exceed available resources.   Key point: Since our basic nature is to have more offspring, we will have to defy our basic nature to reduce our birthrates to levels that will allow civilization to survive.

Given the current population explosion, we have no time to evolve our way out of our problems, so we must “evolve” ourselves much more quickly through intellectual as well as physical activity.  Even if we had the time, it is not clear that we are capable of evolving naturally to manage our population given that it requires going against our deep-set nature to procreate.  That means it is up to us as thinking beings to think, plan, and act to avoid disasters we are creating and establish a sustainable existence.

I am still considering the ramifications of all this, and I intend to write more as I learn and think more about overpopulation.   The population explosion is the greatest threat ever to humanity and, by dint of our power over the environment, to all life on the planet, in large part because addressing it requires denying our fundamental drive for procreation.  Can we do this before it is too late?  We will see.

Our challenge as humans is to regulate our population so we avoid the coming die-off period that many expect to occur in this century, and that appears to require us to deny a fundamental part of our nature.  Based on current evidence I am not sure we are capable of doing that, though I am encouraged to hear rare mentions of the population issue, which I never heard a few years ago. There is still hope, but we need to communicate this issue widely, face the facts, and act on it quickly.

Thanks for reading.  I welcome any comments. — Tim


9 responses to “We Can’t Evolve Our Way Out of the Population Explosion

  1. I would define which races are having children. Whites are not – averaging only slightly more than 2 per family – due entirely to the socialist agenga of high taxes and high cost of living.
    Asians are not – I think the average is near 3, due primarily to the same reasons – and the forced murder of children you propose both in the womb and out – to control population.
    Blacks are averaging 3 also – due to the Democrat Party’s pressure to sell abortion at every turn, and the starvation rate in Africa keeps that number from growing.
    So that leaves the Hispanic averaging near 6 and the Arabs averaging 8 per family.
    So Tim, tell your Democrat and Liberal buddies to claim loud and strong that you are all for the mass sterilization and / or murder of those two groups babies – both in the womb and just out.

    Waiting for your platform on this issue for Hillary to trumpet.
    Or is it just White and Black children you are trying to ‘control’?

    I doubt you even know. You are just spouting wise like what you say is correct when you don’t have a clue what is really going on and where the population is.

    • Nik – You did not state any facts or back up any of your points with references. Instead, you took a purely race-oriented view with “which races are having children”, then tried to make generalizations about which races have which birth rates, which is entirely unrealistic. Dividing things up by race simply makes you look like a racist, and is far too simplistic to be useful.
      Then, ranting about my “liberal buddies” just makes you look like another idiotic right-wing nut case – too ignorant to understand the facts and dominated by corrosive right wing American media and politics. I hear too much of that kind of sick, evil, destructive rhetoric already and it helps nobody.
      I will not allow any more of your comments to appear here unless you offer something helpful and meaningful, but I suspect you can’t. I am sorry to say it, but you are an example of the exact kind of human problems that will promote and exacerbate the disasters we may be facing from overpopulation.
      Good luck, Nik. I suspect you will need it, as failing to understand the world makes you powerless – probably explaining your apparent angst. Listening to right wing propaganda will not help you or anyone else (except the people who make money from it.)

  2. Sorry, Nik, but your comment is so full of conservative “trigger” terms and so lacking in facts that I can’t give it any credence. You and another conservative acquaintance of mine are the only people I’ve ever heard saying things like “forced murder of children”, “Democrat Party’s pressure to sell abortion at every turn”, and “mass sterilization”, and that makes me think you are a lot closer to such awful behaviors than anyone in the center or on the left. What you say sounds like a repetition of the scare tactics of late night AM radio pundits, Fox non-news talking heads, and the tea party.

    My opinions are born of a lifetime of concern for humanity and much reading and study, and while they are opinions just as much as yours I bet I can substantiate mine a lot better than you can yours. I hope you will do some thinking and read some facts before posting again. Otherwise, I recommend you continue to just “wait patiently, with a cigar in one hand and a gun in the other, for the end.”

    Thanks for commenting, but no thanks for the empty conservative rant-stuff. – Tim

    • I didn’t rant. I stated facts which you ignored.
      I gave you birth rates. You gave me hot air.
      China and Nazis kills babies (communist – democratic socialist – democrat – liberal – left agenda)
      Europe and Japan can’t afford babies (socialist – democrat – liberal – left agenda)
      That leaves your Hispanic and Muslim population…..which is growing exponentially. Where is your answer to the main contributor to YOUR population issue?
      I asked a simple question. You have no answer.
      But you are a liberal. You have no answers. Only a ‘scare’ issue that blames the wrong people.

  3. Excellent perspective. Well written and well thought out – thank you!

    I want to bring up that extending our lifespan through medical technology makes us wholly different than other species. The fact that we are unnaturally extending our lives is creating a population issue today. But what can we do about that? You can’t tell humans to stop cancer research etc to stop longevity.

    It’s a good debate and I look forward to your next entry. – jb

    • Simply stating statistics does not make me a racist. But I was trying to help you understand where the problem YOU described is at. I didn’t say over-population was a problem, YOU did.

      I simply tried to give you the statistics as to where the population is growing the fastest. I was trying to help you out with some facts. I am assuming you allow facts in your analysis of a problem.

      You said ‘We must evolve”. Who we? I was trying to help YOU target who WE is., i.e. the audience that needs to hear YOUR message.

      The defined White population worldwide are barely staying even……so Whites can’t be the main contributor to over – population. So, you may want to focus your message to groups who are contributing to the problem YOU are warning us about.

      Just trying to help. That is what I do.

      • What I don’t see, Nik, is how separating any issue like this by race makes any sense. What if you consider economic standing? Do poor whites have more kids on average than wealthy? Does that apply to, for example, Argentina? My bet is, there are far more variables in play than race or skin color, and trying to subdivide things by color/race is pure bigotry. I wouldn’t be surprised if educational and economic standing correlate a lot better with birth rate than race. Your points, dividing people by color, just don’t make sense.
        Take a look at Dixon White’s youtube video if you haven’t already seen it. That self-espoused redneck is being realistic about racism in America.

      • STOP with the racist jargon. I am telling the races that are having the children. PERIOD. If you wish to curb world population growth, that is where you can have the most success. Eliminating the shrinking White race will not solve YOUR problem YOU described.
        Yes, poor whites have more children than rich Whites and middle class Whites. That is due to who is paying for those children. The rich and middle class whites are not having their own children because they are too busy paying for the poor white, black, Hispanic and Muslim children in this country.
        But forget this country. Europe is not having white children for exactly the same reason the United States is not.
        The liberal welfare state is making it all possible. It’s too expensive for the people paying for their own children. Taxes included.
        But the data I quoted you is based on world – wide numbers – not North America numbers. Read the book – America Alone by Mark Stein.
        White Europe is going the way of the Brontasaurus and Tyranasaurus Rex. Extinct. Liberalism killed them. They could not afford children to replace themselves – let alone grow.
        Look at the USA. Women are starting their families in their thirties. How many do you think they want to have with their current energy level. That’s right – two tops. You need around 2.4 to stay even.
        The people paying cant afford to have them….and in this country – too old to earn taxes and raise a bunch of children. Yes taxes drop birth rates.
        But that is the liberal plan isn’t it? Drive everyone to poverty, and let the government take care of them. Or ……not…..if deemed there are too many.
        China has had a kill female babies policy for decades. Then have more men that will never have a wife than we have people in the United States total.
        Think about a motivated army! You want a woman? Here’s a rifle – go over that border young man!
        You want to solve the world population problems?
        Liberalism is the way to do it. It kills everything …..every time.

      • Nik – no, You stop with the racist jargon. There are much more important distinguishing characteristics to people than the color of their skin, and that’s what racists like you can’t seem to understand. I know people of every shade and from many parts of the world, and what hurts them most is the exact kind of screwed up right wing propaganda-driven thinking you are spouting.
        Do you even know what a liberal is? No, you don’t, because the meaning of the word has been distorted into a hate-target by people paid to do exactly that. Karl Rove and Jeff Roe are just the tip of the iceberg – their entire careers involve nothing but subtle scare tactics, cleverly framed hate speech, demonization of the poor, etc. They are sociopaths and, I’m sorry to say, you seem to have absorbed a great deal of their evil crap. You have been played, Nik, for decades, and I hope you will think about it more deeply. Dixon White and people like him are coming to the realization that they have been racists, manipulated into mindless hatred by political and cultural forces that have none of our best interests at heart. They prove, however, that when a person uses their head and puts themselves in other peoples’ shoes they start to realize that people are all the same inside, and that racism is nonsense – evil, idiotic nonsense that shames us all before the world.

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