Depressing Wonderment of the Week

So, population growth.

There is no doubt that humanity has started to exceed the natural carrying capacity of the Earth - and that our rate of growth is so great that we're going to far exceed it and nothing but a natural disaster can stop us. That's pretty depressing, right?

Conventional scientific wisdom thinks that over-population is going to lead to a decline - either an event, like a disease that wipes half of us out at once, or just a long, slow reduction as our resource systems (food, water, energy) can't keep all of us alive. It's conventional wisdom because that's what happens in living systems, to non-human species. And to be fair, it happens in human systems as well.

But I'm stuck on this idea that humanity is nothing the Earth has ever seen before - and I think it's true.

There's a comparison that's become pretty popular among environmentalists and people who thought that the Matrix was really deep - it says that humanity is most similar to a virus in terms of biological process.

I'm not sure that's true, though. It feels like shoe-horning to try and compare a virus and humanity. Yes, expanding, using resources, etc. - there are simularities, but it ignores a lot about the way humanity works, like our history and potential at living within other systems, the level of control and shepherding we can display over living beings, and our sentience. So while I think virus = human is kinda sorta interesting to think about, I don't think it gets at the truth of the matter.

Humanity is on its own in terms of its course. We have our own decisions to make.

And - here's the depressing part - while our population growth could definitely lead to catastrophy, and definitely already has, our technology has saved us from so many depletion events already. As technology improves (and, theoretically, gets more equitable), we'll be spared more and more of the events that would normally deplete a species all at once. So what are we left with? A long, slow decline and a scramble for limited resources.

That'll be fun.

Both the natural world and humanity would benefit from steps taken to limit our population growth.

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