Today, people are increasingly confronting the undesirable social, health, economic and environmental impacts of an ever-expanding world – take the example of soaring housing costs, increased taxes, overcrowded schools, deadlock traffic, inadequate food and water along with air, light and noise pollution. Even when you go on vacations, you’ll be disappointed with beach closures because of pollution run-off and overflowing or failing sewage systems.
A complete stunner: human population growth is seen as the root of these pressing social, economic and environmental problems.
Over the last century, the human population has more than quadrupled, surpassing the 7 billion mark and is predicted to grow over 9 billion by 2043. The rise in numbers has been so drastic and rapid that development objectives, consumption, production, employment and income distribution have been significantly affected.
You see, the challenge of this century is to meet the increasing needs and wants of a growing population while at the same time ensuring that current production and consumption patterns follow a more sustainable development model.
How can that be possible, especially when we have reached over 7 billion and the sustainable population size is around 3 billion?
If we go by Paul Ehrlich’s definition, “overpopulation is a population being unable to sustain itself without depleting non-renewable resources.”
In fact, many experts even supported the fact that stopping unsustainable population growth was the key to protecting the environment.
Now, the question is how do we deal with this new rising challenge?
The Malthusian Theory
In an era of sinking economies, fewer jobs, higher-priced food and changing climates, it’s not surprising if an old sore concept is making a comeback.
I remember learning about the Malthusian theory of population growth in Dan Brown’s opus of fiction and opus of facts. The man predicted that the exponential increases in human population growth would surpass the arithmetical increases in food supply, thus leading to dire consequences like famine, disease and war.
I don’t know how many agree with this notion, but somewhere his theory simply makes sense to me. He might have been wrong on some points, but his fundamental message is not completely wrong.
The absolute law of nature is that all powers of the earth must be equal to ensure the existence of a society. But, when food production cannot keep up with the rising population, chances are communities might suffer due to this imbalance.
So, Thomas Malthus was not wrong. His theory was an attempt to warn the human civilization of an impending catastrophe – a by-product of a grossly bloated human population and its never-ending needs.
But, the thing is until some natural calamity leaps out and make a dent in the world population growth, there will be no end to the need to limit people’s consumption of the earth’s resources.
But, we cannot wait for God in his superiority and divinity to unburden man and send a calamity from His heavenly abode.
Time is limited and the world population growth is constantly pushing the consequences of an imminent crisis to a higher plateau.
But, does that mean we follow in the footsteps of Bertrand Zobrist? More precisely, a mass extinction event?
And, so Bertrand Zobrist Enters the Picture
So, to answer your question, especially those who have not yet read one of Dan Brown’s finest books, Bertrand Zobrist is a fictional character – more the antagonist – in the novel Inferno.
I find it better to introduce him as a Malthusian nut job who is obsessed with the fear that the world is coming to a drastic end and the entire human civilization would be swept by a nearing cataclysm, also known as overpopulation.
He blames the World Health Organization, the Catholic Church (as if the church could convince people) and just anyone who has babies – and who turn a blind eye to this catastrophe.
And, so what kind of great solution does this “genius” genetic engineer come up with?
A man-made virus that would unleash a plague and reduce the world population by 1/3.
Hmm… devising a biological weapon to get rid of people… that sounds less like a 21st-century solution to a pressing challenge and more like a logic borrowed from 18th century’s religious figures who doubted God’s plan for humanity.
I guess that’s exactly where this nut job got his inspiration from.
I know it’s a pivotal time in the human history with scary challenges and the decisions we make today will definitely affect our tomorrow.
But, is getting rid of people the only way to address this challenge?