One can’t read science fiction — old or new — without taking away the idea that “there are just too many darn people.”
Now part of this is because humans are really good at scaring themselves with numbers. Starting with Malthus, and on through the early 70s, or so, everyone was plugging the growth numbers for the population since the beginning of the industrial age and extrapolating them ad infinitum.
Which, btw, by now would have us as some truly impossible number.
Of course Malthus — misanthropy in math — was wrong. Not just a little bit too. It apparently never occurred to him that given women (families in general really) being able to count on more kids surviving, they would no longer have six or seven or however many in batch lots. I mean, sure, without contraception, humans would still have more children than we do now, but even then… The population growth was already falling by the early twentieth century due to the old ways of making population fall: later marriage, some timing control of sex in married life. Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone (wouldn’t work for me, part of my problem being odd times for ovulation, which caused us the opposite problem of too many children (!) but it still modulates population growth, so it’s not uncontrolled.)
As you guys know, I don’t think we’re 7 billion or whatever number the UN claims, and frankly I can’t understand why ANYONE believes the UN on this. They can’t be trusted on anything else, pretty much taking the word of dictators and totalitarians for proven facts, but you trust them on this? Really? And you’re sure that countries that can barely keep commerce going (and sometimes can’t) are really sending out census forms and getting accurate counts? Or do you think such countries are taking to bush and hinterlands and isolated villages in the middle of nowhere and counting “peasants” person by person? If you do you probably also think that Juan Valdez picks coffee bean by bean. Not to mention that it’s just a coincidence, I’m sure, that countries that are net recipients of international aid PER CAPITA have the highest population growth. I’m sure.
But more importantly, what the heck is “overpopulation?” Like “Global warming” it seems to be a case of finding a problem in “too much of a good thing.”
I mean, humans thrive when the Earth warms, and human progress and well-being (yeah, and population too) dives when the Earth cools. We want the Earth cooler, because? And please, don’t say we’ll become Mars or some such arrant nonsense. There are reasons Mars is the way it is and they don’t apply to Earth, no matter how many times Scientific American (I remember a nineties article. Not the first to make me lose all respect for SA, but close to the last) screams that they do.
In the same way what is “overpopulation?” At what do we set it?
Americans don’t realize how much closer populated Europe is. And Europeans don’t realize how UNPOPULATED the US is. Just watching a movie the other day — one of those endless saving Christmas movies, because husband was watching it while I did something in sight of the TV — I was amused by images of “going all over the US” including the west, including Denver, but the shots were all NYC dense and high. But having grown up in Europe I can tell you that’s what Europeans think all of America is like, all high rises coast to coast. So, yeah, they think we’re overpopulated.
But you know, as tightly packed together as Europe is — to us — they’re still not overpopulated. Their population density (mostly near highways) works, and makes for (mostly) walkable communities. (No,I don’t want to import it here. But it works for them.) And if you ask, they might wax poetical about unspoiled meadows and forests, but they don’t consider themselves overpopulated.
We’re certainly nowhere at maximum capacity the Earth can support, either in space or food. Most famines in the world today are not caused by scarcity but by kleptocracy.
Sure, you can claim that we’re injuring the environment, destroying species or whatever the heck, but the truth is that the US is more forested now than when the pilgrims arrived, and as for rare species: species have been arising and dying since there has been life on Earth. Also given the ridiculous way species are considered as separate for the sake of making something a protected environment, I’m not even sure we have a true picture of that. Beyond the fact that we also have no clue “what is minimum species diversity?”
Take it as read that people like looking at the pretty animals and plants, and wealthy people — which humans now are, by and large compared to historical norm — put a priority on this. What priority is it? How important? And are we really hurting anything, or is the fact that species encroach on suburbs (not the other way around. Check) just a show of the wildlife doing better. Also, when should we intervene when one species threatens another?
If your entire job is screaming about humans doing this or that, you’re not an environmentalist. You’re a sad freak who hates your own species, probably because he hates himself. Species encroach on and hurt each other’s number or habitats all the time. If you took “species diversity”seriously, you’d care about those TOO.
Oh, yeah, contributing to fears of overpopulation was Calhoun’s mouse experiment. People look at how the wheels came off as the number of mice climbed and keep seeing parallels with our own society. It would be more accurate to see the mouse experiment as a prison population or perhaps as the results of socialism.
First of all, humans aren’t rodentia. Second the Earth is not and never will be an absolutely enclosed space. Third, to get to the level of “overpopulation” he had, we’d need to… well…. we’d need to be denser than the densest city on Earth ALL OVER THE EARTH. Fourth, the main problem was the “loss of role” of the population. Which had more to do with the fact they were being fed “for nothing” than actually striving for their daily bread. And if you consider what happened, it closely resembles the behavior of humans under the “soft” version of socialism, aka European socialism than anything having to do with overpopulation.
People are still terrified of overpopulation, though, even though we demonstrably are nowhere near the world say of Logan’s Run.
Why? I have this theory that it is because subconsciously we think our environment is a lot more densely populated than it is. I know that there was an experiment semi-recently in which people apparently say they have a lot more neighbors/friends than they do, because seeing people on TV, etc. subconsciously convinces people they live in a vast tribe. Our brains aren’t equipped for modernity.
I think this fear we’re overpopulated plugs in that.
But we’re not. Relax. Okay, you’re allowed to point and laugh, particularly when some sample of cognoscenti says we should all live in super high rises because mah overpopulation and leave the world to the plants and the little animals.
This is just hatred of their own species set to music. (Or in this case, to fashion.) And it’s arrant nonsense.
Sure, I think we should spread to the stars, because a diversified environment is better for a species, and I happen to like humans, but we’re not even close to being “too many” for the Earth.
Also no one knows what too many is.
That fear didn’t come to pass. In fact the opposite might be true.
So when the peddlers of nightmares try to encroach on you or prescribe (somehow they always do) socialism for “overpopulation” just laugh and make duck noises. Then ignore them, and go your own way.
And if they persist, tell them to go forth and multiply. Only not so politely.
UPDATE: On the great booksale of 2018 — new post tomorrow, but… —
I CAN’T FOR THE LIFE OF ME FIND NIGHT SHIFTERS. I know I have them and remember unpacking them, but I think I put them in “a safe place.” I’ve remedied the people who had ordered, but let’s assume I can’t find them in the next week.
Darkship Renegades MIGHT be sold out. I’m going to package extant orders (those people to whom I’ve given the go ahead) tonight and will let you know. I might have one or two copies left of the appalling (horrendous, no good) hardcover of Draw One In The Dark. (it’s in good condition. The cover just sucks.)
I found an entire box of hardcovers of All Night Awake (Shakespeare books). There might be other hard covers down there, in boxes, so I’ll try to have a count tomorrow morning. For now, on those too, let’s call hardcovers $18, okay? (mostly because extra weight.) And for the horrible and probably collectible cover of DOITD, first come first serve.
I have a couple of Dipped Stripped and Dead (under Elise Hyatt) and a few more of each of the subsequent ones. Let’s call those $5 each if buying more than one. ($7 otherwise?)
I have a Goldport Press TPB of Death of a musketeer (call it $12 with other books.) and a few others I’ll tally tonight.
Oh, yeah, I have TPB copies of No Will But His and a few of Plain Jane (the later under Elise Hyatt.) Again, I’ll see how many I have tomorrow and whether it’s an “urgent” thing.
I’ll give you a new list tomorrow. Promise.