It started as a simple conversation about population control. We were sitting near the faux surfing pool in a major American indoor waterpark on December 22nd. The ambient noise was quite high and frankly, I was shouting just to be heard, not to make a point.
Our friend had said that the way to cure over-population (and therefore decrease the stress on global resources) was to educate women. Educated women have fewer children. I called her a misanthrope (I actually had to ask what the right word was.) She took some offense to the name-calling, however, I had a different fish to fry in this conversation.
Her next point was that we had advanced too fast as a society, technologically, and that we needed to slow down the advancement of technology so as to allow civilization time to catch up. I find this position to be very dangerous and so I responded:
On this hand we have 5 people that think we need to save the planet; one the other hand we have 100 people that just want what the 5 have. Assuming that the 5 have abdicated what is in their own economic interest for the benefit of all humanity, all that prevents the 100 from taking from the 5 is technology.
The conversation looped over itself several times, so bear with me.
I further argued that if educated women had fewer children, then we needed to force them to have more children because the 100 uneducated women were going to have LOTS more children furthering the creation of uneducated masses. We would soon have only 4 on one hand to prevent 120 on the other; then 3 to prevent 150; and then 2 to prevent 200 and finally, when on one remained, the 250 would overwhelm even the one technologically advanced denier of economic self interest.
Her attempted rebound was to argue that the earth could not support both the 5 and the 100 growing by leaps and bounds and that technology was doing more harm. My first response was the 5 could not be forced to abandon their economic interests unless it was…by force. Taxation, legislation or even fear of global consequences could force people to abandon their economic interests, but pitting the 5 against the 100 without technology to support them was cultural suicide.
My second response was that technology was all that was saving us now! If advanced agricultural techniques had not been found, millions, maybe hundreds of millions would have died of starvation. Medical advancements have saved millions more. Abandoning technological advancement means the death of millions AND because the haves are seriously outnumbered by the havenots, only the threat of technical superiority prevents the 5 from being overrun.
My problem is of course only 1 of the 5 really wants to stifle technology and abandon economic self-interest ‘for the benefit of all humankind’. But that 1 is doing everything it can to force the other 4 to agree or at least comply with it’s goals. Meanwhile, the 100 are doing everything they can to multiply and steal technology to use against the 5. The 100 are not contributing ANYTHING to ‘the benefit of humankind’. They are reproducing and calling the 5 racist, selfish, and imperialist. If the 4 allow the 1 to guilt them into abandoning economic self interest, there will be nothing to stop the 100, or 150 or 250 from overrunning them.
Economic self-interest is not a bad thing people. If you don’t know where you will sleep tonight, or where the next meal is coming from, global warming is the LEAST of your problems. And if you happen to see a One proclaiming concern for you and offering you a handout from her doorstep, you are more likely to see a slap at the hand and rushing of the door.
As long as the 5 insist on having fewer children and stifling economic growth, the 100 will continue to grow in numbers and demands, eventually overrunning the 5. We are reaching a point where we will have to choose.