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MacFADYEN – Science Guy Bill Nye: Earth has a people problem

ALRIGHT, NO ONE panic but Earth has a “people problem.”

This according to Bill Nye as outlined in an episode of his Netflix series, “Bill Nye Saves the World.” Since he is the “Science Guy” we should probably take him seriously.

Whether it be food or water, people have a nasty habit of consuming finite resources. Anyone who has ever had house guests can attest to that. There is also the unfortunate truth that not all of the Earth is hospitable to human life. Not many of us would want to live out our days in Antarctica or the middle of the Sahara desert – or in Toledo.

Humans are a responsive species so we do find ways to adapt and survive. We are finding ways to grow more food with less land and exploring renewable sources of energy. But it is a mathematical certainty that eventually the sheer number of people will overwhelm any response we might make or innovation we can devise to sustain ourselves.

According to Bill Nye, the population problem is not just about babies and your neighbours having too many of them. No, it is also about grandma and the advances in medical science that have made it possible for people to live longer lives.

Increasing numbers of countries around the world will soon have to face the reality of the old outnumbering the young. That demographic nightmare begs the question of just how will an increasingly elderly bubble of people outside the workforce be provided for by the proportionally shrinking numbers of young entering the workforce.

Governments cannot conjure money from thin air. They rely on a tax base that allows for equitable distribution of social services to all those in need. But what happens when “those in need” overwhelm the available programs designed to ensure that basic requirements are met?

Eventually the sheer number of people on earth will overwhelm any of our attempts to sustain ourselves

Add into the mix the issue of mass and sudden migration – coupled with our own deleterious impact on the environment – and one can quickly see that the problem of dwindling resources is a serious one. To put it in terms that are relatable to non-science guys like myself, think of it as the “Pepperoni Pizza Principle.”

Let me don my white lab coat and explain: If four college roommates order two large pepperoni pizzas then we can safely assume that all four will be satisfied with their share of the pizza and will likely carry on living in harmony within the walls of their dorm.

However, what if we now add forty roommates forced to share the same two pizzas and it quickly becomes apparent that in short order people are going to be killing each other over a single pepperoni – not a pizza slice, mind you – but over one single, solitary round piece of pepperoni.

Oh, the horror.

Any suggestion that people procreate less begs the question of exactly which people are we talking about? We probably don’t consider our own darling offspring as the problem but consider other’s people evil spawn as the real bugaboo.

Any suggestion of population control leads to a host of social, cultural and religious minefields that few leaders in democracies would ever want to take on. We are nowhere near seeing a Canadian prime minister or American president putting “Only two kids for you!” on a T-shirt as a catchy campaign slogan.

Super-brain Stephen Hawking has now joined the chorus of those who stand on street corners with cardboard signs warning that the world will end at 10:00pm – (10:30 in Newfoundland). In a BBC documentary to be aired this summer, he has drastically revised his estimate downwards of how long we can survive on this planet from a more than comfy 1,000 years to a mere century.

Yes, the smartest man on Earth now believes we have less than 100 years of usable life left on this planet and will become extinct as a species if we do not find another planet to colonize within that time frame.

Okay, now everyone can panic.

Gavin MacFadyen is a U.S based writer and occasional lawyer. 

© 2017 Distributed by Troy Media

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About Mel Rothenburger (5132 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on MacFADYEN – Science Guy Bill Nye: Earth has a people problem

  1. tonybrumell // May 23, 2017 at 10:19 PM // Reply

    I think there are a lot of folks like you “J” who refuse to believe that there are simply to damn many human beings on this planet.It is most disapointing when folks who don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground sublimely tell people like Bill Nye that he has it all wrong.
    PAY ATTENTION!!!!! There are to many humans extant today and it must stop!!! If we don’t start serious programs to control the worlds population the world will start them by it’s self.That of course is the pizza scenario and humans have no priorities but staying alive .Regardless of the impact on this planet and it’s non human inhabitants..and the overall quality of life for us and them.,
    In Kamloops, two months ago Naomi Cline said ” she sees no problem with 7 billion people or the probable growth to 11 billion within the next one hundred years.On the same stage of the grand hall at TRU ,the very next night David Suzuki said it (over population) was earths most prominent problem and that the population must be controlled through education and ending poverty in the third world.Wow!!! two of my heros diametrically opposed in their opinions on population overload.I will go with the scientists every time.We might be able to feed 11 billion but only at the expense of everything else .I can see the mountainsides of BC terraced like the hills and vallies in India and Vietnam and part of China.Done for the purpose of feeding ourselves at the expense of everything else.
    Thanks Bill I hope you will break the news to Naomi gently.Our own media chose not to even cover either event

  2. – We should get the new A. I. interest (in mainly, now, ‘virtual reality’) to do something useful, like train it/code it to grow food: How to get the ph levels adequate for hydroponics; add the right mix of nutrients into the ‘stir;’ keep the building air quality -that food commodities are grown in- at absolute enhanced levels; find the best methods in tooling the equipment to increase the value of the product’s outcomes, etc.

    Then, we would be concentrating on mankind’s need and not to such a great extent on mankind’s desire for entertainment…!

    -As illustration: Some game -we all seem to know about- that drives over people for points at high speeds is just what the good Lord gave us brains to use these advance technologies in coding and the like to create. No, I don’t think so; mankind’s problem is not growth per population, per se, as it is our reluctance to take care of one another, because, in reality, problems crop up everyday and our simply ignoring them doesn’t justify triage to society as a whole as a best method of rationality for the whole….

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