Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bipolar Humans

The bipolar nature of human beings amazes me. On the one hand, we are geniuses who have created art and music of incredible beauty and passion. We have peered into the atom and unravelled its structure. Humans have walked on the moon, and space probes transmit photos of planets millions of miles distant. We can replace a human heart, understand the intricacies of the DNA molecule and are close to decoding the very makeup of life itself.

We are so smart, yet we have another side. Namely, we are driven by two basic traits that threaten our very survival: violence and the urge to procreate. When stress rises and the going gets tough, we humans resort to violence. Just look at Darfur, Iraq or even big city slums in the United States, which are infested with gangs and lawlessness.

And we continue to increase our numbers so that resources like oil and food grains can no longer keep pace with our collective consumption. The globe is warming, water shortages are looming and the stress on the planet and human civilization is rising rapidly. The pot is bubbling ominously and soon the lid will pop.

What a dichotomy! We have the intelligence to create the most wondrous art and amazing technology, but we lack the intelligence to control the destructive side of our instincts and our psyches. In my dreams I picture politicians working together worldwide to implement programs for curbing population growth.

I also dream of funding being diverted from technological research into research to study human character with the goal of transforming violence into love and caring.
Sadly, these are only dreams and the harsh light of reality tells me that one side of our bipolar personalities will destroy the other, and likely civilization with it.

Yes, this is dark. But do you agree? What can we do?

1 comment: said...

No one is paying attention to human population dynamics.

Declines and increases in population growth are well documented and show us the uneveness in the effect of increasing wealth among countries worldwide. The rate of population growth declines in some countries and regions with growing wealth and not in other countries. These demographic outcomes are plainly inconsistent. People who cannot see the usefulness of Thomas Malthus’s seminal observations of divergent supply and demand simply don’t see such inconsistencies.

In any event, it is possible for us to discern how time is moving forward to a point of unsustainability: when an inelastic upside for developing new supply and an inelastic downside for controlling new demand becomes patently unsustainable. That is why simply allowing diverging unbridled supply and unrestrained demand to go to their natural endpoint could result in a colossal ecological and/or economic wreckage of some unimaginable kind.

The 'manufacture' of pyramidal schemes, economic bubbles and cornucopian mythology deceives people who are ready to be deluded and willing to accept whatsoever is economically expedient and politically convenient, even something patently unsupportable, to buttress their magical thinking about the way the world we inhabit works as well as about the placement of the human species within the natural order of living things.

From this perspective, the theory of the demographic transition does not apply universally. That is to say, for every country that provides us with an example of declining family size as wealth increases, we can identify other countries in which family size is growing as wealth increases, and verse versa.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001