“Humans are a plague on the Earth”
Who said that? ‘Twasn’t me, although I have recently and independently come to the same conclusion myself.
No, it was (at least for the most recent utterance) none other than that internationally known and revered, highly honoured and decorated naturalist, named among the 100 Greatest Britons, Sir David Attenborough.
Sir David made the statement in an article for the current edition of Radio Times magazine as reported by Population Matters. So we should, merely by dint of whose words they were, approach and contemplate the matter with a serious degree of thoughtfulness and not dismiss the warning outright.
Possibly less seriously, but proving that the concept is not unprecedented, you may remember that this was also the opinion of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies. Please don’t let this little ‘aside’ diminish or divert your thinking on the important issue raised here. I just thought it a little ‘amusing’ and something that may have been missed by viewers of the movie.
In his statement Attenborough warns that this (over-population) is a problem which is coming home to roost in the next 50 years or so and even now is seen to be in operation in places like Ethiopia where there are just too many people for the land to support. To which I would add that the situation in Ethiopia is likely to be repeated in many other places around the world as climate forces increasingly continue to wreak havoc on food production. Places like North America, Europe and China.
I don’t see any equitable solution to the issue. There is not, nor will be, enough food to go around to sustain a population at current levels let alone future projected levels, even though this has often been mooted to be just a problem with distribution. Globalisation, the Green Revolution and ceding control of production to Big Agriculture, is and will continue to be seen as having been a monumental failure.
All things considered (climate change, resource limits, Earth capacity to renew itself, systemic collapse), the safe global carrying capacity before too long will fall to something less than 1 billion human lives. Perhaps considerably less. The future does not look too rosy for at least six out of seven folk now alive at this present time. I expect that conditions will be less than ideal for everyone now living as we progress through the next few decades and perhaps for considerably longer than that.
I despair for what the current younger generations, those who have known nothing other than the greed and avarice of ‘the consumer society’, are about to face and would urge young women everywhere not to have (more) children until a safe future can be assured for those unfortunate to be born into the world in these troubled days. At this time, the future is anything but certain.
The people of the world will not lay down, perish, starve and die quietly. There is much turmoil, movement and conflict ahead. Immigration policies will not stand in the way of mass migrations of hungry, desperate peoples. National borders will very soon count for nothing.
Pre-knowledge of such events is why I have personally, in the twilight years of my life (may they still be many, healthy and fruitful) moved away from centres of population, why I have learned the principles of permaculture, why I am learning how to grow, cook and prepare food and why I have shed all ownership of property/debt and why I am continuing to gather resources around me in preparation for basic survival living which will hopefully equip me to see better times.
Take some time to consider these things for yourself. Beware the crowd mentality. Don’t dismiss David Attenborough’s warning lightly.
Humans are an introduced virus on this planet. You know what happens to viruses within the confines of a limited environment such as a laboratory Petrie dish or a ball of rock floating in space. They consume all available resources (the food medium in the Petrie dish example) and then die off completely. On a planet that is continually renewing itself we don’t have to suffer the same fate. We just have to learn to live for as long as we are able to within the renewable limits of the planet. That means a lot of us living very simply (few comforts, basic low technology, simple tastes) in a steady-state (zero growth) economy, or a relatively small number of us leading basic but fairly comfortable lives in a truly long term sustainable (zero growth) way. That is the best we can hope for.
Eventually of course, we will inevitably go the way of all species. But life, in some form, will go on.