Following the recent loss of life in Haiti, Chile and China due to earthquakes or the loss of life from Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami that killed 100,000 in Sri Lanka in 2005—it reminds me of a 39 year old column by the late Dr. Garrett Hardin: “Nobody ever dies of overpopulation.” It is reprinted with permission from Science, 12 February 1971, Volume 171, Number 3971, © 1971 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (www.thesocialcontract.com ) Professor Hardin taught in the biology department of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Not mentioned, but increasing in numbers as the human race accelerates its own populations across the globe—an astounding 18 million human beings starve to death or die of starvation related diseases every year. (Source: World Health Organization) The breakdown: eight million adults and 10 million children perish at the hands of starvation annually. Fully 1.5 to 2.0 billion humans subsist on less than $2.00 per day. That same number cannot obtain a clean glass of drinking water.
For example: India sports 1.16 billion people. Out of that number, nearly one million do not possess a toilet to use, so they squat onto the land every day. They contaminate ground water, lakes and rivers with their human waste. The Ganges runs in raw sewage 24/7 and its dead zone expands to over 10,000 square miles—contaminating and killing ocean life. Result: 1,000 Indian children die of diarrhea, dysentery and other water borne diseases—DAILY. Yet, Indians do not practice birth control as they add another 12 to 15 million people annually on their way to surpassing current-day China and hit 1.55 billion in 40 years.
For whatever reason, Americans as well as citizens of many countries never make the connection of overpopulation and their vulnerability—to disease, famine and Mother’s Nature’s rage. Nature thrives on destruction, i.e., hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, earthquakes, forest fires, famines, hail, tornadoes and epidemics.
INCREASING HUMAN NUMBERS ON EARTH CREATES GREATER SCENARIOS FOR MASS HUMAN DEATHS
For some reason, call it hubris or “false pride”; or massive ignorance or ethnocentrism—Americans cannot and do not think they would ever find themselves on the receiving end of water shortages, food scarcities or energy deficiencies. Thus, they happily grow their numbers, by adding 3.1 million people annually, ironically, mostly through other humans fleeing overpopulation pressures worldwide.
Dr. Hardin brings home our dilemma:
“Those of us who are deeply concerned about population and the environment —"eco-nuts," we\'re called, — are accused of seeing herbicides in trees, pollution in running brooks, radiation in rocks, and overpopulation everywhere. There is merit in the accusation.
was in Calcutta when the cyclone struck East Bengal in November 1970. Early dispatches
spoke of 15,000 dead, but the estimates rapidly escalated to 2,000,000 and then
dropped back to 500,000. A nice round number: it will do as well as any, for we
will never know. The nameless ones who died, "unimportant" people far
beyond the fringes of the social power structure, left no trace of their
existence. Pakistani parents repaired the population loss
in just 40 days, and the world turned its attention to other matters.
killed those unfortunate people? “The cyclone,” newspapers said. But one can
just as logically say that overpopulation killed them. The Gangetic Delta is
barely above sea level. Every year several thousand people are killed in quite
ordinary storms. If Pakistan were not overcrowded, no sane man would bring his
family to such a place. Ecologically speaking, a
delta belongs to the river and the sea; man obtrudes there at his peril.
“In the web of life every event has many antecedents. Only by an arbitrary decision can we designate a single antecedent as "cause." Our choice is biased — biased to protect our egos against the onslaught of unwelcome truths. As T.S. Eliot put it in Burnt Norton:
“Go, go, go,” said the bird, “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.”
we to identify overpopulation as the cause of a half-million deaths, we would threaten
ourselves with a question to which we do not know the answer: How can we
control population without recourse to repugnant measures? Fearfully we close
our minds to an inventory of possibilities. Instead, we say that a cyclone
caused the deaths, thus relieving
ourselves of responsibility for this and future catastrophes. "Fate" is so comforting.
“Every year we list tuberculosis, leprosy, enteric diseases, or animal parasites as the "cause of death" of millions of people. It is well known that malnutrition is an important antecedent of death in all these categories; and that malnutrition is connected with overpopulation. But overpopulation is not called the cause of death. We cannot bear the thought.
“People are dying now of respiratory diseases in Tokyo, Birmingham, and Gary, because of the "need" for more industry. The "need" for more food justifies over fertilization of the land, leading to eutrophication of the waters, and lessened fish production — which leads to more "need" for food.
“What will we say when the power shuts down some fine summer on our eastern seaboard and several thousand people die of heat prostration? Will we blame the weather? Or the power companies for not building enough generators? Or the eco-nuts for insisting on pollution controls?
“One thing is certain: we won\'t blame the deaths on overpopulation. No one ever dies of overpopulation. It is unthinkable.”
As Hardin said, we abhor dealing with reality. In fact, in Joel Kotkin’s recent book, he ‘celebrates’ adding 100 million people to the United States as if it amounts to a “Red Badge of Courage” in a diminishing world. He speaks on NPR with glowing reviews from Jennifer Ludden. He enjoys interviews in papers as he crosses the country to pitch his book. He leads Americans down a primrose path of more denial, stupidity and ignorance of their predicament.
Yet, they fully embrace his message. Should he strut his book in Bangladesh, that grows by six children a minute, with a population of 144 million people in a landmass the size of Iowa, they would toss tomatoes into his face. Change that! They would eat the tomatoes and throw sticks! Reality has already manifested in very ugly ways for the people of Bangladesh. They live in pure daily human misery with no way out! They live in what Kotkin celebrates: overpopulation.
If any of us, no matter what our race, creed or color might be, refuse to engage our U.S. Congress as we have not for 30 years as to the immigration equation creating overpopulation in this country—our children will find themselves living in a terribly degraded America where the American Dream will be described by the history books as a ‘fleeting fantasy’ from the era of 1950 to 2010. These are several of the top organizations where you can take action to change the course of American history. Take collective action at www.numbersusa.com ; www.fairus.org ; www.capsweb.org ; www.thesocialcontract.com ; www.populationmedia.org ; www.worldpopulationbalance.org ; www.populationconnection.org ; www.quinacrine.com ; http://www.familyplanning.org/ , www.skil.org ; www.growthbusters.com ; www.populationpress.org ; www.npg.org ; www.carryingcapacity.org ; www.balance.org and dozens of other sites accessed at www.frostywooldridge.com.
Must see DVD: “Blind Spot” http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/blind_spot/ , This movie illustrates America’s future without oil, water and other resources to keep this civilization functioning. It’s a brilliant educational movie! www.blindspotdoc.com
Must see: Rapid Population Decline, seven minute video by Dr. Jack Alpert—
Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents – from the Arctic to the South Pole – as well as six times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. He presents “The Coming Population Crisis in America: and what you can do about it” to civic clubs, church groups, high schools and colleges. He works to bring about sensible world population balance at www.frostywooldridge.com He is the author of: America on the Brink: The Next Added 100 Million Americans. Copies available: 1 888 280 7715