TED Conversations

Bob Kirkpatrick

Writer - Editor, Deludia.com

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Are we psychotic rats helping nature to cull the human "herd?"

The talk by Paul Gilding took me back to a thought I had after listening to another speech on global disasters. Mentioned were volcano eruptions, earthquakes, declining ice packs and fisheries, erosion, air pollution, ground water contamination, increasing rates of life threatening disease, and more. For some reason, I began to think back to a high school science class where natural culling of deer population was described. In short, the deer would reach a high enough population that they ate the available food, so deer would starve, more would get sick and perish to predators. This would reduce the population back to a level which could be sustained by the deer's environment.

It caused me to imagine nature doing the same thing to the human animal; essentially allowing us to pollute and contaminate our environment, adopt non-survival attitudes, and throwing in a few natural disasters to boot. All to drive humans to a pinnacle of collapse that would significantly lower the population and produce a strong nudge back toward stone age technology.

The idea would make for an excellent B grade science fiction story, but I began to wonder if there was a possibility that there might be some small aspect of the idea that might be factual. That natural disasters aside, is there some innate force in humans that causes us to be reckless with our environment and resources?

Psychological studies have demonstrated that rats forced into overcrowding and diminishing resources become psychotic and even more self destructive as those pressures increase.

Are humans possibly affected similarly; Is there an element to us that likens us to those psychotic rats, declining deer populations and natural culling?


Closing Statement from Bob Kirkpatrick


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  • Mar 16 2012: It could be that we self-destruct, or it could be that the earth will help that along. For example: the super caldera that is Yellowstone. If that thing blows, it will take out a huge chunk of the world's population.

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