Sunday, 30 June 2013

Surface Algae, Overpopulation, Extinction

There is an idea that I can't take off my mind lately... everywhere I go, whether on foot or by car, I can't help but notice: there are so many people!... I've always thought of overpopulation as the main
reason behind all social, environmental and health problems - wars and natural disasters being one way of the overcrowded planet to cleanse itself - and although it raises a lot of existential questions and makes me reconsider so many concepts, theories, suppositions etc... I  am not going to get into that today. Instead am going to explore the social repercussions of this problem.  

Every human being that is born in the "developed" world grows up wanting a car, a centrally heated (or air-conditioned) house full of electrical appliances, cheap flights to holidays abroad and a new
mobile phone every couple of years.

Most of the married couples I know, or even young bride-to-bes regard it as unsatisfactory to have one child – some of them are on their second or third pregnancy. Yet we smile and congratulate them as if they have done us all – and their own offspring – a favour, when the opposite is the case.

Why can we not acknowledge that bringing up an "only child" is a more responsible choice? Or even better, normalise the practice of having no children, rather than regard those of us who choose to remain childless as freaks? Reducing the number of plastic bags we use at the supermarket is mere tinkering. Reducing the number of children we have would mean a better world for them to inherit.

But there might be a far more tragic outcome: the extinction of humankind!
Let's take an example from nature itself: just imagine a colony of surface algae living in a small pond in the forest enjoying the pond's perfect balance of nutrients. Unchecked, these algae reproduce so
wildly that they quickly cover the pond's entire surface, blotting out the sun and consequently preventing the growth of the nutrients in the pond. Having consumed everything possible from their environment, the algae quickly die and disappear without a trace.

Could a similar fate await mankind if we don't stop breeding or at least, cut down the size of families? Studies suggest that it could be far sooner and faster than any of us imagine!