What is the ideal population of the Earth? The answer to that question by natural processes would be, “The greatest number that can be created”. Nature maximizes the number of any given species by creating as many offspring as possible, and lets natural processes prune off the excess. This is an ongoing process, and works out quite well, because it adapts all living species to cope with the environments in which they are attempting to live. On a daily basis nature seems peaceful enough, because things have evolved to be stabilizing, and when one thing is overabundant there are processes which soon bring it back into balance with its environment. When the environment is very complex with many species vying for a livelihood in the same area there are many factors functioning to keep all of those species pushed into their personal niche. In this complex situation there are many unpredictable variables, such as weather, which occur all of the time, and some of them are extreme. Overall the complex bio-habitat adapts quickly, and when the more usual situation for an area reasserts itself the most common form of the various species reassert themselves.
This process has worked well for maintaining stability of the vast number of species which have inhabited the Earth — up until the appearance of modern Homo sapiens. It worked pretty well even then, up until the industrial revolution started becoming effective at mining the minerals that are buried in the earth, about 1825. At first the problem was just the fossil fuels, but now it includes other things such as fossil water, and atmospheric fossil air. By fossil air is meant our current supply of gases above the surface of the Earth with the implication that it is a leftover from earlier geological processes that created minerals such as fossil coal, and fossil water. Fossil air may turn out to be the most dangerous thing of all to mine, because as it is depleted it affects everyone in a bad way, and there are no reasonable alternatives. The destruction of fossil air is a bit different from polluting the air because some of the pollution can be removed by natural processes over a long number of years but for example the locking up of oxygen into unusable compounds like CO2 just deprives us of that essential oxygen which is needed for life.
Now, with the development of atomic energy there is an appalling ability to contaminate the environment. This pollution can move through the water, but it appears most troublesome when it moves through the air because then it can go everywhere. If the only use of the atomic processes was to create energy for electricity there might be a slim chance to contain the radioactive pollutants. However, in the long run there will be atomic wars, and when that happens there will be radioactive pollution everywhere there is atmosphere, and that is everywhere where people live. But, it is argued, we need the energy and the minerals to feed all of our people. Of course we do, but if we had a smaller population then the demands upon the Earth would be proportionally smaller. The question becomes how much smaller would the population have to be to be permanently sustainable at a desirable level. Once that number is determined then there can be processes devised for maintaining that population, and once that is stable it might be possible for humans to live very comfortably for a very long time. Millions of years perhaps.
The last time humans were in balance with the Earth was in 1825 with a population of a billion farmers, but now with our much more demanding lifestyle using ten times as much energy it would only be possible for the earth to sustain one tenth as many people. That is how the number one hundred million is arrived at as a postulated goal for human population. If methods were developed for sustaining a higher population that would be wonderful, but until that is done the population is going to have to drop back to the smaller number.
Various religious groups are the staunchest foes of population control, but this condemns humanity to an early extinction, and one certainly hopes that that is not their goal. Back two thousand years ago when Jesus was active, there were about one hundred million people, and one doesn’t hear much complaining about there not being enough people. So it seems not unreasonable to ask the church to return to that population number. If the current policy of maximizing population in a Darwinian fashion is maintained, early extinction is certainly at hand, and no sane person wants that. Jesus said his primary goal was that the people might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Notice that the statement is that the living people might have this more abundant life, and it was not a statement that there should be more people in any numerical sense. King James Bible Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. and Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. Genesis 9:7 “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” All of these commandments by God were at a time when the population had been reduced to those very few people, and creatures who had been in Noah’s ark. By last count there are some six point seven billion more people now, and one would suspect even the most grandiose biblical prophets would be astonished at our numbers. At that ancient time they needed to fill up the land, but now that the land is overfull it is time to consider maintenance.
For those ancient folks their talk of destruction concerned such local phenomena as earthquakes, fires, floods, and such things, and only those with the most hallucinogenic dreams could imagine the real powers which we actually possess. We possess some of those powers just sitting at our computers. Our talking to people on the other side of the planet or scooping up and analyzing dirt on Mars would be pure hallucination to those people.
This blog was intended to be a plea for reducing population, and after a bit of introduction, aimed at arguments which might have some tiny influence on church people. But, I have wandered, and failed miserably. The arguments are weak. Not because the need is weak, but because there really is no rational way to approach irrational people with reason. Matthew 13:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
The time is rotten for Doomsday!