Helen says I look several weeks younger than my age and this is a myth I would not disperse. But I will divulge that when I landed on Earth the descendants of Adam and Eve numbered two billion bodies, most of them living outside Paradise Park, some of them prematurely sampling Hell on Earth.
In my lifetime (now get ready for a shock), some six, yes “6", Billion people have been added to the 2Billion I joined on arrival. If 2B had been added to 6B I would have called it “atrocious”, but it is 6B added to 2B and for that I know no word.
Two and a quarter centuries ago, Thomas Malthus, (quite a bright bloke), rang the “Earth Overpopulation Alarm”. He predicted the population explosion and imagined the effect it would have on Mother Earth and on us, the massive, passive, ever-expanding populace. Malthus managed to overcome his upbringing and washed out of his head some of the conventional wisdom packed in his cranium by Church, State, and Family so as to make room for some commonsense. He defogged his mind enough to understand what was happening and managed the courage to say it to his brethern who had been intensely conditioned to resent change.
Instantaneously, assorted “prophets of the system” formed a formidable front to defend the system they were mercenaries to. They searched for a weak point, usual in a startup, aimed and hit hard. Even now, after the 6B were born and added to the 2B, Malthus denyers claim being more credible than Flat Earth adherents.
Malthus was dangerous to kings, anxious as they were for more “subjects” and “soldiers”; and to the church hierarchy being perennially on the prowl for additional “flock” in its pursuit of universality. They deployed their “guardians of the system” to prevent Malthus tweaking the “supply side of this market”.
We all hallucinate sometimes, we lose site of the forest for the trees as when we direct our energies to reduce carbon emissions and to cool the atmosphere, instead of attacking the cause of these happening. It is not to deny credit where credit is due, it is about re-scheduling the deployment of our resources for efficiency and effectiveness. Attention to detail should follow consideration of the whole like the cart comes behind the horse.
Let’s for a moment sidetrack Malthus. Let’s imagine that the population increase curve flattens at 8Billion. This would not detract from our duty to pursue a semblance of decency on the stage of the human race. Simply said, we cannot carry on living with endemic deprivation blanketing a large part of humanity. The number of the deprived is in the billions and to various extents occurs everywhere. There are patches of “third world conditions” even in the richest countries of the world, including Canada. Some of us sleep under bridges and beg in the streets of our affluent cities. Countless people all around the Earth struggle to survive the day, for that is the realistic timeframe of their future.
In the 2B people world I was born into, the “establishment” could keep the masses in ignorance, “pacify” “agitators” and dispatch gunboats to silence the rebels. This has since changed and increasingly the people demand a fair shake. They no longer “beg”, they “demand” now and rightly so, because opulency is stolen, it is not “earned”. I am no nostalgic for that era.
We cannot levitate to the top those living at the bottom – simply said, there is no room there for that. And illusions aside, one cannot eradicate poverty without eliminating decadence – no apologies to the prophets of Capitalism or any other “-ism”. To eliminate the quality-of-living differential, or even to reduce it to tolerable levels, we must lower the intake of the top consumers and divert the energies now dissipated to sustain them where they are. But, can we do that? To what level can the Earth sustain 8B people in a reasonable standard of “common decency”?
How can we close the gap, how can we shrink the differential between the “haves” and the “have-nots” to tolerable levels, for the lurking “trouble” to vanish? It has to be a realistic solution. Philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett dispensing charity will not solve the problem. It is a realistic elimination of the need for charity that will do the job.
Heeding Malthus is one of the pre-requisites, for relocating ourselves, the populace, into a garden, if not a Paradise. Can we stop the “train of fools” we are on? Can we reverse it now after letting it ran it so far downhill?
One thing is for sure: if we expect this train to stop or reverse by itself, the Earth may not survive the wait. Because nuclear weapons cannot be un-invented ...