Monday, July 27, 2009

Asimov on Human Dignity

The immense number of humans in the world (approaching 7 billion) is causing many problems including peak oil, global warming, declining fisheries and loss of species. However, there is something far less sensational—but just as important—that is quietly eroding away. It is quality of life, a constant diminishing of our dignity and self worth.

Isaac Asimov was a brilliant science-fiction writer and a prescient thinker on the future. Here’s what he said in 1989: “... democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive. Convenience and decency cannot survive. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears ... the more people there are, the less one person matters.”

One example is government. The twin growths of technology and population call for more regulations. After all, synthetic chemicals, assault rifles, genetically modified foods and cell phones need to be controlled to ensure safety and the orderly functioning of society. Governments, in turn, must become larger and spend more time dealing with a morass of details. The increasing regulations hem us in and increase our taxes. And as our numbers increase we get less input to government decisions.

Perhaps saddest is that as our numbers increase the sense of community declines. We lose the feeling of belonging, of helping one another, of friendships. Personal liberty and dignity quietly disappear. Virtually every facet of our lives is degraded. It’s a tragic situation. Yet politicians and economists will not take action. They continue to ignore the fundamental problem of overpopulation.

2 comments: said...

So simple. So clear and obvious. What more is there to say?

Neil said...

With respect to politicians not taking action we need to look at how politicians are elected. In Canada and most western nations to be elected a politician need money and lots of it. On the municipal level the development industry is the driving force. They act like a political party, the industry scouts out candidates, puts their support behind them, and creates the publicity for the need of development.

There is no conflict of interest they say when those elected politicians rezone land to much higher density for those in the industry who gave so generously. To create buyers for the new subdivisions we need an endless supply of new immigrants.

To change this mindset of growth is almost impossible. Rural landowners see their land as an investment for their retirement and they too give their support to the development community.

In Canadian municipal elections we normally have less than 30% of eligible voters go to the polls.