Amidst this fighting of pandemic called Corona Virus or its nickname COVID-19, I was trying to find the silver lining amidst the clouds, a glimmer of hope in the darkest times of humanity maybe. Don’t get me wrong, the economy is recessing, people are dying, flying is feared upon and Gardenia bread/toilet paper has run out. It is like the infamous tragedy of 2012 resurfaces to haunt us for the failed attempt to decimate humankind. It is during this time of grief and catastrophe, I realize how small our world truly is. There are always many subtle connections between everyone and everything (The plague stretches all the way to the remote and under-the-radar country such as Bhutan!). But in all its gory, I recalled this one theory or perspective I stumbled upon years ago in my reading of a book called Inferno by Dan Brown that left me feeling unsettled and disturbed. It is like Mother nature has taken the matter into her hands through the current status quo.
Putting aside the actual plot of the book, I am most interested in the real underlying questions posed by the author on the subject of population explosion and humanity’s responsibility towards the earth. The book has said and I quote, “It took the earth\’s population thousands of years-from the early dawn of man all the way to the early 1800s-to reach one billion people. Then astoundingly, it took only about a hundred years to double the population to two billion in the 1920s. After that, it took a mere fifty years for the population to double again to four billion in the 1970s. As you can imagine, we\’re well on track to reach eight billion very soon. Just today, the human race added another quarter-billion people to planet Earth. A quarter million. And this happens every day-rain or shine. Currently every year we\’re adding the equivalent of the entire country of Germany.”
To make the matter worse, it further explained that “ozone depletion, lack of water, and pollution are not the disease—they are the symptoms. The disease is overpopulation. And unless we face world population head-on, we are doing nothing more than sticking a Band-Aid on a fast-growing cancerous tumor. Picture a colony of surface algae living in a tiny pond in the forest, enjoying the pond’s perfect balance of nutrients. Unchecked, they reproduce so wildly that they quickly cover the pond’s entire surface, blotting out the sun and thereby preventing the growth of the nutrients in the pond. Having sapped everything possible from their environment, the algae quickly die and disappear without a trace.” And for all we know animal species are going extinct at an exponential rate, demand for dwindling natural resources are accelerating at a precipitous rate, access to clean water is harder to come by. Under the stress of overpopulation, all of the Seven Deadly Sins; pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth will begin to brew to surface. People are going to resort to steal or worse murder just to provide their young. Unless something is done, we will soon be the algae if we keep ignoring the symptoms.
However, what if I say that we can keep the world sustainable for the next hundreds of years if we let the pandemic kill half populations of today to escape extinction? Let the pandemic kill the population to a comfortable number at which humankind can live in relative comfort before we do something to help them. Some say the optimum number is one to two billions, while others say it is 10 billion in which this number will be materialized in 2055 provided that nothing major, like COVID-19 set it back. But, imagine all the global issues we are trying to make ends meet with will just be gone in a blink of an eye if we let the Mother lead the world. Take dinosaurs for instance. They went extinct due to unfavourable conditions bred on earth which include dramatic climate change, volcanic eruptions and sea level changes. Shouldn’t we have learnt our lesson already by now since those environmental factors and evolutionary problems have cost not only dinosaurs but all the 5 billion species that I will not be able to mention? The analogy is likely taking its roots as of now for all we know.
Even so, here comes the moral compass. The biggest one being; how do we justify letting people die when there are resources and means to save them? Do we kill one to save many? Regardless of what backgrounds; people who are infected or people who lost their means of bread and butter due to the lockdown. Or should we only save the people of the elite to extract their benefits later on? Though this pandemic has proven how every job existed co-dependent on each other for their continuance and sustenance. Will our conscience ever let us kill another person?
At the end of the day, some truth is hard and there will always be a gray area somewhere, within and everywhere. However, it should be noted this article is simply a convenient shorthand of a thought that in no means or on any account can be construed as a perverse underwriting of any particular concept.
On a bright side, this is not yet an end until it ends and when it ends, it will be a new beginning to a more united world one has ever seen, hopefully. May the odds be in our favour.
| D. Brown, Inferno, United States: Doubleday, 2013.
| P. Dérer, \”The Overpopulation Project,\” 25 April 2018. [Online]. Available: https://overpopulation-project.com/what-is-the-optimal-sustainable-population-size-of-humans/. [Accessed 24 April 2020].