This article from Wired magazine shows the weakness of American popular culture. It is good that the authors see potential problems from the population explosion, and try to come up with a way to feed the 9 billion humans expected to live by 2050, but this is a very shallow consideration. Certainly much thought and work should be applied to this issue, but do the authors think time and the population explosion will stop there? What do they expect to do when the population – enabled to have even more children by the plentiful food supply – continues to explode and reaches 10 billion, 11 billion, and then 12 billion?
Growing more food and reducing pollution and resource use aren’t the answer. The only humane solution for reducing population is reducing birthrate. We don’t want to kill people or shorten their lives – we might be next – so we need to get people to stop having children. In reality that means “nearly stopping” but not stopping completely. We will still need people of all ages for a productive and functioning society, but we need to avoid an apocalyptic crash of resources and infrastructure made worse by pollution and the disruption of climatic systems.
More educated people tend to have smaller families. More educated people are also better equipped to understand the population explosion and reason out the possible outcomes and how we might avoid global calamity.
People can’t respond to problems they don’t know about and understand. The internet and satellites have revolutionized communications around the world, and now a good education is possible just about anywhere. This suggests hope for humanity and the planet as long as we focus on the population challenge and do something about it (reduce the birthrate to well below the replacement rate on a country-by-country basis), which will require educational efforts worldwide.
What prevents us from doing something now? Distractions, to put it in a word, are our biggest problem. Human politics and economics are complicated and messy, and have lots of aspects that capture and hold our attention, focusing our minds on things that don’t have much impact or do nothing to help us in the long run. The longer we wait, however, and fail to transcend our daily struggles, recognize the enormous challenge ahead of us, and start making serious effort towards curbing the global human birthrate, the worse our lives and the lives of our descendants will be in the future.
Thanks for reading. — Tim