We have met the enemy and he is us

in Voices by


We truly cannot see the forest for the trees, as the world’s attention is understandably focused on COVID-19, and other maladies deeply affecting our country.

But, attention my friends: Virtually all of the world’s greatest problems have just a SINGLE cause.

Raging pandemics destroying untold lives and damaging world economies; droughts of long duration creating new deserts devoid of life; uncontrolled floods that destroy cities, farms, and lives; incredibly dense cities housing uncounted millions; world-wide famine and uncontrolled diseases taking millions of lives each year; polluted air unfit for breathing and toxic water unfit to drink, and the unpredictable effects of “global warming.”

Who is this satanic villain, you ask?

Quite simply, it is OVERPOPULATION.

This planet cannot sustain the current scourge of too many folks living on spaceship Earth, let alone its inexorable continuing growth. Sadly, this curse is not part of the national discourse, even as we face the existential scientific FACT of “global warming,” but one of multiple manifestations of overpopulation.

The world’s population grows exponentially; that is, each person has the potential to produce more than one replacement person; it takes less and less time to increase the number of people as the planet’s population explodes. A short history of the earth’s population over the past two millennia demonstrates vividly this mathematical certainty, and it should get your attention.

At the time of Jesus, the world’s population was estimated to be around 300 million. A thousand years later, around 1,000 CE, the world’s population had barely increased by a paltry 10 million, although it is unclear what was responsible (diseases would be a good suspect).

But, by 1800 CE, only 800 years later, the earth supported a landmark population of one billion persons! By 1927, only 127 years later, the population had doubled to two billion.

It took 1,800 years to go from one to two billion folks. By the 1960s, the population reached three billion, a 50 percent increase in barely three decades.

And by 1974, a trifling 14 years later, the population was four billion, increased by another billion in only 47 years, from 1927 to 1974! Thirteen years after that, the earth’s population reached five billion and 12 years later (1999), a staggering six billion folks inhabited the globe, these massive increases occurring in only 30-odd years.

At the current rate of growth, in only 30 more years, the world’s population is expected to increase to 9 billion. That’s nine times a thousand million! Reflect on that for a moment.

Will the world’s resources, agriculture, potable water, soil suitable for growing our food, land to house these staggering billions, and clean air, be sufficient to sustain human life?

A basic axiom in Mother Nature’s world is that the scarcer the resource, the greater and more intense the competition for it. Consider this a fundamental rule for all life forms. That means more, and more brutal, wars and revolutions fought for ever diminishing resources necessary to support human life. We already see riots over food in failed states.

Human overpopulation is “The Problem,” plain and simple, stripped of all its nuances, green revolutions, and increasing deaths from war and diseases.

An “alarmist” statement, you say?

Chicken Little, the “sky is falling.” You bet your sweet Bippy. Pogo, one of our foremost philosophers, identified The Problem: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” “Us” meaning people making more people making more people, who make even more people.

Do we have the political courage and the global strength to address this world-ravaging menace before it can no longer be solved? As an inter-connected global community, we have just only begun to acknowledge the perils of “global warming.”

Of the 189 parties that have ratified The Paris Agreement (on global warming), the world’s foremost leader (at least we once were) is the only country NOT participating. Thank you, Mr. President.

Malthus warned us about overpopulation more than a century ago; he was right in principle even if his timing did not anticipate the Green Revolution.

In spite of that contribution to growing more food for the masses, the World Food Program estimates that as many as 300 million people world-wide may starve to death by the end of 2020.

The hallmark of human evolution is the development of a large and complex brain. Intelligence is an evolutionary strategy whereby Homo sapiens possesses sufficient behavioral and intellectual intricacy and flexibility to adapt to complex situations.

What could be more complex than the Grim Reaper knocking loudly at our door? Shall we open it? Will it be too late?

There is a growing constituency that believes it already is too late. Time is running out. Mother Nature is an unforgiving parent. She plays no favorites. It is now or never!

David M. Taub was Mayor of Beaufort from 1990 through 1999, and served as a Beaufort County Magistrate Judge from 2010 to 2015. He may be contacted at david.m.taub42@gmail.com.