Vile Bodies

If the World Is Overpopulated, Who Should Die?

November 07, 2011

Multiple Pages
If the World Is Overpopulated, Who Should Die?

If the United Nations can be trusted, planet Earth welcomed its seven billionth living human on October 31. As if it were currently possible to pinpoint such a landmark, nations jostled one another in staking their claim to having birthed the world’s “seven billionth baby.” Hoisted before the media flashbulbs by their proud parents as potential candidates were a li’l Filipina squirt named Danica May Camacho and a tiny Russian seedlin’ named Pyotr Nikolayeva, shown here being coddled by a rather uncomfortable looking Vladimir Putin.

No one really knows whether we’ve even reached seven billion yet, but we eclipsed six billion only a dozen years ago. In 1927, there were only two billion…in 1800, a mere billion or so. According to UN projections, we’ll be up to nine billion in less than 40 years.

If you happen to dislike people as much as I do, this is not good news. There are already far more people than I care to know on a first-name basis.

Over two hundred years ago, British doomsayer Thomas Malthus prognosticated a demographic apocalypse caused by an exponentially ballooning population that suddenly found itself starved to death by a lagging food supply. But though Malthus was correct about the population upswing, he was wrong about the endless fields of starved cadavers. His foggy isle now hosts about five times as many people as it did when he was writing his alarmist screeds, only they’re much fatter now and their life expectancy is twice as long. For the time being—at least in the UK—the technology to keep humans alive is outpacing the ominously swelling numbers.

“In the improbable event that the heavens were to part and an angel were to task me with immediately eliminating half the global population, I’d halve the global IQ bell curve at its apex and sweep away everything to the left of it.”

Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 eschatological scare tract The Population Bomb sold millions of copies by making seemingly billions of terrifying predictions about imminent demographic catastrophe, none of which have come true.

Some will say the fear of overpopulation is unwarranted, that it’s just a “green myth” propagated by a sociopathically snobby flaky upper crust of elites grasping at global power to cull the peasant herd by vicious and uncaring methods based on discredited and shameful notions of eugenics and, well, you know, Hitler and all that. They say there’s enough land and sufficient technology for the world to host a trillion people without too much discomfort. They say you could give Manhattan-sized apartments to everyone on Earth and squeeze them all together in a land mass the size of Texas. If people didn’t mind being crammed together shoulder-to-shoulder as if they were at a rock concert, you could fit the entire planet’s population in Rhode Island—assuming that being shoved together with seven billion people in Rhode Island is your idea of a good time. I tend to recall that Rhode Island has had problems with overcrowding before.

Others will say there are too many rats in the cage already, that we’ve exceeded our carrying capacity as a species and are in for one bleeding, shrieking, flame-engulfed global migraine of behavioral sink, with all the violence, famine, collective mania, and infant cannibalism attendant thereto. They say we’ve reached peak oil and peak food and peak soil and peak ocean and peak air—in short, we’ve reached the peak, and this roller coaster is headed straight down no matter how loudly we scream about it.

What’s rarely discussed is the notion that we may soon also be reaching peak population. According to some estimates, the global head count will top off at around nine billion at some point later in this century, then start an inexorable decline. Experts differ on whether the decline will be gradual or swift, peaceful or calamitous.

In many parts of the globe—especially highly developed areas such as Europe and Japan—fertility rates have already begun to plummet far below replacement level. But not everyone’s plummeting at the same rate. According to the CIA, 24 of the 25 nations with the world’s highest fertility rates are in Africa or are islands off the African coast. In 1950, whites comprised nearly 28% of the global population, while blacks were only 9%. By 2060, this will have reversed itself, with blacks projected to comprise more than a quarter of the world’s inhabitants while the white quotient will have fallen under ten percent.

Is this good news? Depends, I guess, on whether or not you’re African.

Since this document is not legally binding, let’s pull the magical eugenics rabbit out of the hat and quit futzing around. If one sits passively and allows the imminent population decline to be completely laissez-faire—entirely at the whim of famine, pestilence, weather, disease, and especially reproductive patterns—are we sure we can trust Mother Nature’s wisdom to make the best decisions? If we do, the future will belong to the most prodigious breeders, who statistically are among the dumbest mackerel flapping around this here gene pool. Is passively allowing a New World of Retards to blossom a truly more ethical option than actively trying to sculpt a world that’s more intelligent and functional? Would “natural” collapse somehow be less bloody, chaotic, and truly inhumane than managed pruning? The problem with letting nature take its course is that nature does not always have the best taste—remember, nature smiles upon the cockroach.

Let’s say you don’t believe in God—or at least not one that cares much about us—and that you also believe nature can be brutally random. In many cases, natural selection has the potential to be worse than unnatural selection. Who’s to say there won’t be a super-virus in 10 years that slays everyone but people with Down syndrome? Wouldn’t those with the highest human capital be that infinitesimal minority of scientists who are remotely capable of working on a vaccine for that virus? Especially in times of crisis, not every human life is worth the same. The eternal political question is whether it’s more “ethical” to let nature take its course or to try and intervene. So do you merely roll the dice, or do you also load them? (It’s not as if the US government hasn’t already been practicing its own deliberate demographic replacement program.)

I’d leap at the chance to decide who gets to live and who gets to die. Maybe I’m a wide-eyed rube, but I’d like to believe such goals can be achieved through a peaceful re-jiggering of social policy toward a meritocratic model that rewards potential and achievement rather than inability and dysfunction, so I’m not talking about forced castration or Astrodome-sized death factories—at least not yet.

I wouldn’t blanch at bearing such a terrifying responsibility, either. I have no idea why God is so angry, because it’d be absolutely thrilling to do a lot of the things he routinely gets to do. Imagine waking up in the morning, rubbing your eyes and saying, “I’ve had quite enough of Bob and Joe. Today, they are outta here!” Since I will never know that glory, I will at least indulge that fantasy.

If there is one group that needs to die, it is the stupid among us. If I had to give a name to my political philosophy, it’d be “bright supremacy.” If I could summarize my social policy with a slogan, it’d be, “Start With the Smart.” I believe the higher a population’s collective intelligence, the better will be the society it builds. Smart people can always raise crops, but dumb people will never be able to solve quadratic equations. Therefore, my primary determinant regarding who gets to stay and who has to file out the door marked EXIT would be intelligence. Although imperfect, we have ways of testing such things. In the improbable event that the heavens were to part and an angel were to task me with immediately eliminating half the global population, I’d halve the global IQ bell curve at its apex and sweep away everything to the left of it. We’d still have representatives from every race and most cultures—although in grossly different proportions than they currently exist—but the quality of human existence would take a gazelle-sized leap forward overnight toward a brighter future come dawn.

Or maybe that’s just the hippie dreamer in me.

 

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