Too many? Of course.

Last night, enthralled, I watched Horizon on BBC TV as highly respected Sir David Attenborough skated over the thin ice overlying the massively important question; "How many of us can our planet support?" I'm not sure the question was answered in any other way than 'too many', but at least it exposed facts that have for long enough been pretty well taboo.

Given that there are indeed, or soon enough will be too many of us I do not think the way to stabilise, much less reduce human population is simply the kind of global contraception program suggested by Sir David.

The reason I have a special interest in this subject is that I made a fairly deep layman's study of it before and during the writing of my upcoming novel, Going with Gabriel Following is an extract from chapter one of my book. It takes the form of an imaginary science magazine report ...

‘Professor Richard E Smith of The Oxford Centre for the Molecular Sciences failed to complete his delivery of this year’s Patterson Lecture, ‘The Two Problems of Man’
The Professor began by pointing out that July 6th, the day of the lecture, was the 117th anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s first treatment of a case of rabies. He quoted Pasteur: ‘I beseech you to take interest in these sacred domains so expressively called laboratories… these are the temples of the future, of wealth and well-being. It is here that humanity will grow, strengthen and improve. Here, humanity will learn to read progress and individual harmony in the works of nature while humanity’s own works are those of barbarism, fanaticism and destruction.’
Professor Smith said there was little evidence that today’s worldwide plethora of laboratories has inspired humanity to behave in any way less barbarically, fanatically or destructively than in 1885. In fact science may well have encouraged the reverse. On the other hand, since Joseph Meister recovered from his attack of rabies humanity had indeed grown and was still growing, from 0.5 billions in 1885 to today’s 6.5 billions. Of these, the overwhelming majority continued to suffer educational and physical deprivation whilst the minority were consuming a vast over-share of Earth’s diminishing resources.
Increasing populations and imbalanced, escalating over-consumption. These were the ‘Two Problems Of Man’ that now threatened many forms of life on earth, Mankind himself not excepted.
The Professor said it would be unrealistic to expect any lessening of an individual’s urge to own or to consume, by all means moral or amoral, lawful or unlawful, as much as might be available to him. Fiscal economics - the means by which the planet’s resource is systemically grazed by individuals - was probably too deeply embedded within most societies. In fact personal greed was expected, indeed applauded, to the extent that it had today largely replaced religion as Man’s key raison d’etre.
Human over-population was another matter, he said, one for which microscience may quite soon be able to provide a solution.’
Reading it again now, Gabriel remembers how, at this point, his professor had looked up to where the young Doctor Nicolson was seated in the gallery, had nodded and smiled that gentle, very occasional smile. Gabriel shakes his head, reads on …
‘But, he went on to say, the willingness of people and their governments to take such remedial action as may today be available was far from certain. Be that as it may it was this, the need and the modus for self control of human populations that the Professor said he would be addressing in today’s Patterson Lecture.
The response from a particular section of the audience was vociferously hostile. Proceedings rapidly degenerated into general uproar. Several physical confrontations ensued and the police were called before a clearly disturbed Professor Smith left the podium, unable or unwilling to attempt any further delivery of his paper.
However a complete transcript of the 2008 Patterson Lecture may shortly be accessed through www.mcrosci/Pasteur/2002.

Marc Vandevoorde: L’Institut Nouveau des Sciences Naturelles’

Sir David has written to say he will read my novel. Perhaps will endorse ot?

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