Carrying Capacity. Something That Scares Me.

This is a point that seems obvious to me and it's seemed obvious to me for a few years now. It seems like something everyone should know and that everyone does but everyone ignores. 

The world as we know it is not in a good state, this isn't the idiot cynical teenager inside of me that says were all gonna die because china has a hidden agenda or something we are really not doing to well. We focus a lot on the economic crisis, on the middle east, on oil and in the future we might focus on fresh water and fishing issues. One issue that doesn't seem to get brought up ever is the over population of earth. In my grade 9 science class they taught us about carrying capacity and how the population of deer will go up and up until they're aren't enough resources and then it will drop down and go up again. The human population should in theory fluctuate in the same way. We already have to many people and to me there is only one solution .... lots of people will and are going to have to die. We can't just keep growing it's impossible, for all I know people will just start to die in large numbers because of problems with overpopulation like homelessness, starvation, pollution, ect but people have to die. It may come in the form of an event or just subtly creep up on us. It could be a war or a disease which makes sense because the more people their are the more likely wars and diseases are. Then someone could get into the lifeboat mentality and say leave all the homeless and the poor to die save the educated. There are proposed solutions to this but none of them get around the fact that people have to die its just a matter of who. It is in our nature for most people to be against the lifeboat mentality and i have yet to really develop an opinion on it or other similar theory's but we don't want to pick and choose who dies we just let it happen. Something that struck me was a book called World War Z (which is a great read even if you don't really like zombies) In it they describe a man who is emotionless. This man proposes a plan to surviving the zombie apocalypse and people admit it's a good plan they don't like it because it involves choosing safe zones and groups of people to sacrifice for the greater good. 

I'm writing about this because it scares me. I am a fifteen year old boy who is terrified of the future. I think something will happen to humanity and a lot of people will die. I do not think it will end humanity. I do not think i will survive. I think it will happen in my lifetime. This is how I think and it honestly scares me. Its really just a matter of luck who lives and who dies and every day i hope that maybe I'll get through my life fulfill my dreams have kids and just die but it just doesn't seem like I'll live very long...

Children are another problem... i always wanted kids since i was little and still do dream of starting a family.. but who wants to bring a child into a time where a disaster will take place and the odds are they won't survive. 

So I'm on this site asking people who are older then me, people that can think logically, people that will tell me if I've missed something or am i just being a pessimistic teenager. I don't want people to say "don't worry about it" I want you to agree or disagree and state why.

Views: 140

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on February 9, 2012 at 1:12am

I can't allay your fears, but I can point out an 'out'.  We, as a species, are the first creatures to have the capacity to understand what you are saying and take action against it.  The action we could take is social change.  Now, it would mean a tremendous violation of liberty in reproductive incontinence, but it would mean a change that would allow us to evade natural selection in this matter.

What you fear is the natural limit of our over population - starvation, pestilence, etc.  What we can do is engineer social controls (that people won't like, but which will circumvent starvation pestilence, etc).  Now, the only question is; which way will we have it?  Will our species opt for reproductive discipline or just continue speeding headlong into a mathematical brick wall?

Comment by Cristynfaye on February 9, 2012 at 8:36pm

Hey, I'm 31, and I feel scared about those same issues sometimes.  I want to have children, but sometimes I wonder if I should just adopt the ones who are already alive rather than bring more people into the world.  Or maybe I shouldn't have kids at all, like you said.  Sometimes I worry about the future for a number of reasons.  But I then I gain my senses, and realize that no good can come from worrying.  All you can do is a little bit of good in the world, make a few good changes, and maybe influence others to do good.  Take care of your part of the world, emotionally, mentally, and environmentally, whether your sphere of influence is large or small.

Comment by Becca on February 9, 2012 at 9:48pm

 Will our species opt for reproductive discipline or just continue speeding headlong into a mathematical brick wall?

I'm guessing that we will just continue to speed headlong into that mathematical brick wall. Our species has a really bad habit of not changing anything until a crisis. And when that crisis occurs we typically go for the quick temporary fix instead of a lasting long term solution.

Anyways... I think about the population crisis too. In fact it's one of the things that makes me support any and all efforts to explore and send people into space. I imagine one day we will have the ability to travel to and terraform other planets (at least the moon and Mars maybe?). About the kid thing. I want kids someday too. I've learned that there is never a perfect time to have children and no matter what it's going to be a wild ride for everyone involved. I would however support a 2 child policy. With such a policy we'd be replacing the population that we currently have instead of continuing to increase it.

Comment by Shankar on February 10, 2012 at 4:02pm

Hi Andrew,

I am 100% confident that we'll survive and do well as a species.

1. Overpopulation - This isn't really happening anymore. Fertility rates (avg no of children for two people) are declining and are expected to hit 2 (stable equilibrium state - 2 kids for two parents) by 2050 with population stabilizing at around 9 billion. Overpopulation, even otherwise, is not really a significant drain on earth's resources; it's overconsumption - our per capita carbon footprint has grown tremendously this past century when compared to our population.

2. Oil - By 2050, we'll run out of it. That does not mean the end of the world. We are already investing in numerous technologies for energy production everywhere and I'm sure we'll figure something out. If you want an example of a city that even today consumes very little oil, take Paris with the most extensive metro system in the world. It is possible to move to alternate fuels and reduce our consumption significantly. No worries!

3. Fresh water - A problem due to pollution in the third world. You or your children in America need not worry. Third world Governments can and should address this problem, which is not difficult to solve.

4. Global warming - Once oil runs out, global warming will naturally stop. So the earth will have to keep taking a beating for another 50-60 years, due to which many other borderline species in Africa/ Asia will probably go extinct. Humans in first world countries will not be significantly affected.

5. Virus - It is true that viruses and bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant to broad spectrum anti-biotics, and probably soon the age of broad spectrum anti-biotics will be over. I don't know the solution to this, but this is not species-threatening (we did not discover penicillin till 1928, and managed to survive well till then). We will probably discover better ways (nano-meds?) of combating illness in time.


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