Ebola is rearing its very ugly head this month, and the response of humanity has been both glorious and horrifying. The United States government has stepped up quickly and is sending what is hoped will be timely aid, but even this quick response to a remote threat may be too slow because the nature of uninhibited life forms, such as disease, is to grow exponentially. This is just nature doing what it does, but in this situation we humans are the growth medium, and from our point of view this is potential disaster. Perhaps the ancient methods of coping with epidemics will be the only ones that work, and that is simply isolation and exclusion, not permitting any exchange of people or even goods. What is being done at the moment in the infected areas is having three-day curfews in hopes of slowing the spread. Perhaps that will work because this disease develops quickly, but what of the people that are confined in a house with a sick person? This procedure would be nearly condemning them to catching the disease and thus to death. How do you confine people to their homes when people don’t have stored food, and what happens when a large city has its people coming out to their grocery stores and mixing? What if a city catches the disease and the only option is to shut the borders, because letting hundreds of thousands of infected people go streaming into the world would get ugly?
Now for the even uglier part. Some people welcome the culling of humanity back to 10% or less of its current population. A google search came up with Eric R. Pianka, who is a proponent of disease as a functional method of population control, and he is used as the straw man to politicize the arguments into the most extreme forms possible. There is some reason to support any of the arguments, but shoving every idea into absurd ideological boxes makes finding a comfortable solution even more difficult. What happens with this procedure, when applied to Ebola, is that it will function to let nature take its course, because everyone pursues his own course of action, and some of them are deadly. In this case that will be a very nasty one, because containment will prove impossible, with some people supporting and demanding every individual’s right to do as they choose. This comes down to people fleeing the infected areas and there soon develops an even larger area of disease which is even more difficult to contain without even more draconian measures.
“Minimizing the suffering of the innocent” is an overview that takes into account the individual’s rights but balances their rights with the rights of all the other people of the world. And a second ideal goal, “Maximize the total human potential” takes into account people of the future as well as those now living.
It seem likely that human population will drop to a much lower level than it is today, but to maintain a stable human population will require popular laws. Nature will inevitably win, but the most pleasant existence for humanity will be where we behave reasonably toward one another.