The major killers of humanity throughout our history — smallpox, flu, tuberculosis, malaria, plague, measles, and cholera — were acute infectious diseases that evolved from animals. To sustain themselves, however, they need a human population that is sufficiently numerous and densely packed. Only then will numerous crops of new victims be available for infection by the time the disease would otherwise be waning. (In smaller populations, victims either develop resistance and survive — or they die. This makes the microbes die as well).
But, on a planet that is adding a quarter million more humans every day (225,000) and 82 million more per year – on our way to a bloated 9 billion by 2050 — can anyone really be surprised that nature is reminding us of her nasty side? Indeed, human over-population of the planet provides a tragic opportunity for infectious diseases to easily sweep across the surface with fearful speed. This, combined with jet travel, are the ingredients that make serious pandemics even more likely.
Most serious ecologists have been saying for decades that the planet is over-populated by billions. Recent studies of the carrying capacity of the United States indicate that our sustainable population is far less than our current 306 million. To scientists like this, it’s a no-brainer that both global and U.S. populations must be stabilized to have a shot at sustainable development. Others remain in ignorance about our population problems.
The calamity of Swine Flu is unfolding in the context of unbridled, exponential human population growth. It’s front and center – and terrifying. Yet, looming catastrophes of climate instability, ecological impoverishment and resource shortages like oil, food, and fresh water are happening on that same population battle ground.
No matter how this tragedy unfolds, it’s more urgent than ever to have a conversation about planetary and national sustainability — and the fundamental role population stabilization must play in achieving them both. If we don’t get a handle on our population, death and disease will become more the norm than the exception.
And that won’t be good at all.
“If we don’t halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be
done for us by nature, brutally and without pity — and we will leave a
ravaged world.” — Nobel Laureate Dr. Henry W. Kendall
Current World Population
Net Growth During Your Visit