Our 800 pound Gorilla

When I was first in college, back in 1974, the world’s population was 3.6 billion and already considered dangerously large.  At that time there was a growing concern over the limits to growth, pollution, and sustainability.

Today, in 2014 (forty years later), the population is over 7 billion and generally conceded to be dangerously large.

And still, today, there is no one willing to talk about controlling the population. 

The best we get is the “educate the women” dialog which notes that educated women tend to have fewer children. It’s also coupled with the notion that lowering infant mortality will ultimately cause populations to have fewer children.  All this, of course, is mankind’s way of closing its collective eyes and pretending there is no problem even though it’s been over two hundred years since the Reverend Malthus penned his An Essay of the Principle of Population.

Malthus predicted that because agriculture grew linearly and population grew exponentially, there must ultimately come a point when the population outgrew its food supply and died off through starvation.  Fifty years after he wrote his essay (1798) the Irish lost over half their population to the Great Famine (1845–1852) in a very poignant and tragic example of what happens when a population’s food supply vanishes.

Yet, instead of discussing this problem, the world persists in ignoring it. Only the Chinese, with their harsh restrictions on population, have had the courage to tackle the problem to any degree (and notice how their economy is well on the way to out-performing the rest of the world).

Here we are dealing with global warming –  a direct result of exploding population –  which is affecting our agriculture worldwide and we still refuse to see the writing on the wall.

Once again (or, perhaps, still) we refuse to look at population as an issue to be discussed and dealt with (as the Chinese have).  Once again, instead, we are waiting on nature to take its course.