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From the End of the World to the Kid next Door

by edhawk on July 13, 2013

When I was starting college back in 1966, I took up the banner of all sorts of social ills; the Viet Nam war, natural foods, saving the Bay, so on and so forth. However, as the years of my life have bore down on me (I just turned 65) I’ve come to believe that all of these social problems have one, common root cause, exponential human population growth. There are many experts who say we are on the edge of world wide over-population right now while others say we are 50 or 100 or 200 years away from a crisis situation. One thing they all agree on is that the crisis is going to come. There are some idealists who bury their heads in the sand and say that technology will avert the crisis. The sort of technology they talk about hasn’t even been world population 4around for a hundred years, a microcosim of time in the context of human history. Civilization only came to the into the realm of humanity something like 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. That amount of time, itself, is a micro amount considering the several hundred thousand years ago when homo erectus (upright man) was still around, a recent homo sapien ancestor (homo sapiens are us — human beings as we are popularly referred to). I’ve fiddled around with technology all my life and the only I really trust about technology is that it always breaks down. I use my computer and the internet everyday but when I wanted to document a collection of my writings, I saved it to electronic media, the easy and immediate thing to do, but for the sake of reliability I also saved it to the printed page of paper, a media which is much more reliable and very well proven.

 

The woes of overpopulation are not unfamiliar to anyone unless, perhaps, you were brought up in a cave on a mountain or in a desert, totally cut off from humanity. The popular entertainment media is filled with numerous portrayals of the overpopulated earth and there have been such portrayals for many years. I remember one episode of the initial Star Trek series where Captain Kirk falls in love with a woman who lives on an overpopulated planet where the people were so numerous they were living chest to chest with each other and there was no place to sit down. Pretty absurd, eh? But those were the early days. As they were pioneering science fiction, they could get away with such naive and preposterous overstatement.

More than 30 years later, with much more experience and technology like CGI (computer generated imagery), the Disney company released “Wall-E” portraying an earth covered is trash, with its human population abandoning the planet for a number of space domes where, as they were growing grandly obese, the humans are waiting for the trashed planet to heal itself. I suppose this is one technological solution, but it’s not a solution for the planet. And, in this animated story, the machines on the space craft do, eventually, break down.world population 3

In 1949 another futurist came up with an Earth that had averted the ultimate population crisis but in doing so, Big Brother micro-managed human life to the extent there was no joy in the human experience. This futurist was George Orwell and I reread his “1984” a couple of years ago, being very, very impressed as to how accurate his predictions were, they being fulfilled over the years of my lifetime. While some people complain about his politics, Orwell’s artistry and imagination are nothing but vivid, incisive and profound. I’m not much of a political animal, not concerning myself with political parties but much concerned about social issues in my immediate neighborhood.

 

 

To my somewhat unforgiving logic, why try to end world hunger, insane “suicide bombers,” life threatening diseases and useless wars when they are partial solutions to the biggest problem our world faces, exponentially growing overpopulation? Pretty cynical, don’t you think? And I sure as hell don’t want to die in a war or a bombing or from some nasty disease but that doesn’t change the logic; think “Mr. Spock,” Captain Kirk’s best friend, that nasty logic again. When I was studying philosophy in college, they taught us that there is logic and there is truth, and one is not necessarily the other. Things can be logical without being true. So, that’s my “out,” the thing that leaves me not being a nasty, cynical jerk. In this context, there may be other truths, other situations and solutions other than the logical one.

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world population 5

 

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I was talking of these things with a friend yesterday who is an academician. We were sitting in a coffee house and in conclusion, I told her that I didn’t see any reason to try and fix the world now when it was going to end up being a pile of crap in a 100 or 200 years anyway — no matter how you cut it. She asked me how I could be so selfish. I was knocked off my train of thought, “huh?” I wasn’t being personal, here, just philosophical. How did my “self” in selfish get stuck into this discussion? In answer to my query about selfishness, she pointed to a clutch of little kids chirping around a table across the aisle and asked if they didn’t deserve a descent life, somewhat  like I’ve had? Didn’t they deserve it, even if the world was to end in a few generations? What could one say to that?

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world population 2

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About two months ago I was sitting with another friend in one of the local pubs, a guy who was also well educated and very business savy. We were discussing a development that was proposed to be built here in town. I don’t remember exactly how the discussion transpired but I do remember that I was talking about using sturdy, long lasting materials so that the project would remain in good repair for generations to come. He asks me,

“Why bother? Just do it as cheaply as possible and get it up.”

I reiterate, “but it won’t last.”

His retort was totally unexpected, saying “So what? I’ll be dead then.”

 

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Like me, the guy has no kids.

 

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Post Script:

On June 8, 1949, George Orwell published a novel describing a fictitious world gripped in the vise of constant war and a society held captive by the ever-watchful gaze of a shadowy totalitarian dictator known as “Big Brother.” The book has since found relevance again and again in our modern world.

This week, in the wake of the ongoing National Security Administration surveillance scandal, dystopian classic 1984 is again experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

Sales of at least three editions of 1984 have skyrocketed in recent days, according to Amazon’s Movers & Shakers page, which tracks items with the biggest positive sales change over the past 24 hours. Sales of the Centennial Edition of the book, for instance, had increased by more than 4,000 percent as of Tuesday afternoon. The book was ranked fifth on the Movers & Shakers list at press time.

 

From:   The Huffington Post  |  By Dominique Mosbergen Posted: 06/11/2013 5:25 pm EDT  |  Updated: 06/12/2013 3:08 pm EDT

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