Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Thomas - New York, New York
Entered on April 21, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: birth, question

I believe that people listening to this essay will think up every reason to doubt it. I even believe you are genetically predisposed to disbelieve it. Am I some kind of paranoid malcontent? You’ll probably end up thinking so. Yet what I am advocating is nothing new. What’s new may be my belief that my cause will always be underrated and irrationally ignored.

My cause is population control. Yes, the dangers of overpopulation. But wasn’t starvation through overpopulation debunked by the green agricultural revolution? Of course it was. And didn’t we determine that technology will save the earth from pollution and the destruction of nature? Of course we did.

So why worry? Because overpopulation was debunked and trivialized not through facts, but by wishful thinking. The green revolution has ended, and people are starving again because agricultural land is now being used for fuels and luxury foods. The ozone hole crisis was solved through alternative technologies, but global warming is proving a hard nut to crack. These two crises would never have appeared if it weren’t for increases in populations using already-existing technologies. The future will undoubtedly bring further debunking and maybe some un-debunking as well.

I could remind you of other consequences of overpopulation: overcrowding, species extinction, overburdening of infrastructure, depletion of natural resources, etc.. But rational arguments can’t hold a candle to the powerful urge to reproduce. Besides the sexual drive, there is the myth of immortality in children, security in old age, and the appeal adorable little faces. No matter how silly, an excuse will always be found to reproduce. No matter how troublesome, expensive, and time-consuming raising children can be, people will always find having progeny irresistible. Why? Because only those kinds of people who are crazy to have children pass their genes on to the next generation. Rational, childless types die out. Everyone on earth is only one generation removed from parents who threw caution to the wind and had children.

Of course I have no proof — scientific or otherwise — of my conviction that most people are genetically predisposed to ignore the dangers of overpopulation. I can only ask why people argue that technology will save us from the consequences of overpopulation, yet nobody proposes that technology might solve the problem of underpopulation. When a baby bust in Japan or China threatens the retirement of a baby boom, more population always seems to be the prescription. Is this rational thinking or an inherited rationalization process?

So feel free to call me chicken-little, anti-family, or Malthusian. It’s a natural tendency. My theory predicts it. But before you have another child, remember that you’re probably not thinking hard enough about the world you’re leaving the children you already have.