Too Many Humans, and, To: Many Humans

David Attenborough
David Attenborough, Photo by: PA

Here are some deep ideas worth considering. I won’t claim to know the answers. This is not an attempt at insult or moral judgment. I only try to draw attention to modern human conditioning. Is the human species sustainable?

Evolution doesn’t stop. With modern advances in medicine, climate control, hygiene and transportation (to name a few things), humans could actually be de-evloving. Are we sacrificing our survival traits? We bathe ourselves in air conditioning, consume antibiotics, and ride in a cushioned seat to get where we are going.

Will our current and ongoing reliance and dependency on modern technology, modern medicine, and advances in science and reproduction create the evolution of human into a less sustainable species? A weaker species doomed for extinction? [1] Maybe we’ll develop a divergence and create a whole new species. While some of the humans on this Earth do not rely on electricity and are not dependent on technology, some of us do.

Natural Selection

Since genetic variation is totally random, we have no way of predicting to what extent modern medicine is preventing potentially beneficial mutations to be preserved and/or non-beneficial mutations from being eliminated. “Are you saying we ought to just let him die, when a simple shot of penicillin today could ensure his eventual reproductive success?”

Modern medicine is changing the Earth with the overuse of antibiotics. This more directly influences bacterial evolution, not that of humans or animals. Now that we’re aware of the problem, steps can be taken to minimize the impact of that mistake.

The longevity potential of a species is determined by its capability to survive significant changes in the environment. [2]

Diversity is how a species becomes adaptable, so species that don’t adapt will be weeded out. It’s not a case of if the environment changes, it’s when. Whoever invented shoes actually created the human extinction? Are we slowing the process of evolution by providing footwear to people who are not fit enough to survive without it?

Humans are taking an active role in evolution both biologically and socially, having the effect of altering natural selection, perhaps even halting it.  Evolution, as proposed by Darwin, is a combination of heritability, random variation of genes and natural selection; the later two which Darwin formulated.  Evolution involves the appearance of a trait due to a random genetic mutation which can be selected for and thrive in the environment, or which can be chosen against and accordingly eliminated.  However, in Western society we are effectively taking control of our evolution through new biological and medical discoveries that can, among other things, extend one’s life and prevent possible extinction from undesirable traits or illness.  In addition, survival and reproduction in our society no longer depend entirely on genes and biological traits. [3]

Humans are a virus.

Agent Smith: I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague…

Humans are a plague on the Earth.

David Attenborough: We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.

Habitat and Habit

The dangers facing the Earth’s ecosystems are well known and the subject of great concern at all levels. Climate change is high on the list. But there is an underlying and associated cause — population growth.

A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector. Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.
A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the San Diego, United States, left.

Indeed, in David Attenborough’s view, there is no major problem facing our planet that would not be easier to solve if there were fewer people; and no problem that does not become harder — and ultimately impossible to solve — with ever more. And yet there seems to be a taboo on bringing the subject into the open. [4]

 

In the United States, we have a lot of agricultural crops, and we have to use a lot of fresh water to water those agricultural crops.  So, you might think it’s bad that we’re irrigating asparagus, corn, soy beans and crops in our food chain… However, it’s not the main culprit of water consumption for irrigation purposes. What is the Number One irrigated crop in the U.S.? It’s grass. Lawns. Inedible green stuff with a primary purpose to be trimmed, and cut, and disposed of. It takes more water to produce the lawns of America than all the corn in America.

Unsustainable

Overpopulation and irrigation in unsustainable areas is already a huge issue for us to ignore. The damming and diverting of the Colorado, the nation’s seventh-longest river, may be seen by some as a triumph of engineering and by others as a crime against nature. [5]

Watch this video on YouTube.

Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago at rates 1000 to 10,000 times faster than normal. Already strained with relentless population explosion, many developing countries, such as in Sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, will experience a degradation of their quality and length of life as they face increasing  difficulties to supply water, food, energy and housing to their growing populations, which will have major repercussions for public health, security measures and economic growth. These situations are especially dire for populations in Uganda, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, which will double and, in some cases, even triple over the next 40 years. [6]

Increasing population growth and unsustainable consumption together pose two of the greatest challenges facing the world. A failure to act will put us on track to alternative futures with severe and potentially catastrophic implications for human well-being.

If you have the time, I recommend this beautifully rendered feature length documentary by ABC News.

Watch this video on YouTube.

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About scottm 31 Articles
Scott Mellgren is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, architect and musician. His interests are as varied as this website.