May 04, 2011

Incredibly Scary

This post is about an old bugbear. But that does not make it any less of a danger. Population growth across the world is going to be relentless for as long as the end of the present century. Human numbers will have crossed the astonishing figure of 10 billion by then according to new projections from the U.N.


http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/population.htm

The major part of it will apparently happen in Africa which continues to be mired in a circle of poverty and ignorance apart from many other problems.


The decisions we need to make as a society are these: what constitutes a good life. The challenge merely is not whether there will be enough to feed these billions even though that is going to be one of the major challenges. But more than food and water, I am concerned about the quality of life all these billions will have.


With the relentless spread of science & technology, individuals are ever more empowered. Single humans are able to do more and more and as standards of living rise, each individual consumes more and more of resources. In such a scenario, if the total population also keeps increasing, I do not see how we can avoid a crisis.


To put it bluntly, there is no need for so many humans. As more and more jobs become doable by computers, humans become more and more dispensable. It's only those who have extraordinarily high skill sets that are irreplaceable.


So, my worries are these. What will all these people do when they are grown ups with perhaps just a smattering of education but no extraordinary qualifications such as PhDs. There might be enough to feed people, but will there be enough land left to build decent living quarters for all these people. Will there be enough land to build great roads where people can drive their cars.


Doomsday projections have been shown to be false often enough in the past. I hope there won't be wars among nations in the future for water resources. But even if new technology in food production is able to feed all the teeming millions and billions, I am not so sure that they will have quite a thriving quality of life. This is sad.

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