TED Conversations

Jeffrey Fadness

This conversation is closed.

Are we as a species like a viral infection that will eventually destroy its host...?

Modern man can trace its origins back some 200,000 years, at least anatomically, and 50,000 years back in behavioral modernity. Yet in just 211 years, from 1800 to 2011, human population grew from 1 billion to 7 billion souls. In the year 2011 alone, it's estimate that 135 million human beings were born, 57 million died, resulting in a net population increase of 78 million people in just one year! That's an average increase of nearly 214 thousand people daily, or ~8,900 per hour.

Assuming the rate of population growth stays constant, at this pace global population will double to more than 14 billion people in just the next 10 years. And then what? Do we double once again to 30 billion+ by the year 2033?

And will population growth actually continue to accelerate, with less attrition from continued gains in life expectancy through better health care and medical science?

Clearly, all these folks are going to need food, shelter, and things to do. More cars, streets, shopping and entertainment centers, business centers, government centers, learning centers, clothing, homes and the list goes on and on!

We as a species have been incredibly successful; much of which has come at the expense and impact upon other species, and our environment.

The Earth is a finite space with finite resources. How does this all play out? Do we eventually deplete and destroy our Host -- Mother Earth? What are the implications and what are the solutions...?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 9 2013: I think there is definitely a misguided feeling that man is a kind of Virus... But in biological terms, man is more like a invasive species.

    The problem is that public opinion and certain political spectrum's tends toward the idea that invasive species are always bad, and that man is Bad. In reality that's not always true at all.

    The question is often thus answered before it is even asked: Man has to go, or be culled.

    This is a foolish conclusion to jump to, and is leading our thinking down a very dark and destructive path of reasoning. To some progressives, the Chinese and their one child policy might sound very pragmatic and wise, but in reality it causes horrible living conditions and ruins a lot of lives. But even if we discount the loss of human life and happiness... there are other costs... Such as the cost of enforcement, of abortion, of medical care for abortions that go wrong etc etc.

    I believe that humans have forgotten that they are part of nature.

    We have to remember that industrialized nations have a much slower rate of reproduction and in some places has reached a point where the rate of birth has finally crossed the threshold where population will now decline.

    However, the 3rd world is exploding in new people every day. Their lack of success means they need more people cover the loss of so many, like fish having hundreds of offspring and only 1 or 2 living to adult hood.

    But instead of improving their conditions, we often do more to destroy them and keep them in the 3rd world.

    We must also remember that even though we might be destroying one habitat, we might be creating others... Cities for example are now their own stable ecosystems, no less valid than a deep forest.

    I subjectively feel that it is well within mankind's power to devise a way achieve balance with nature, without resorting to genocidal/eugenicist ideas of population culling and forced procreation limits that will only lead to suffering...

    There is a better way..

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.