Previously, I read an article that suggested growth in human population will likely devastate the resources of earth (amongst other ill effects). This article sourced a report from a NASA-funded study on the likely collapse of a given civilization where social imbalance between the poor and the rich existed. Below the article were typical public comments. Some comments suggested overpopulation was the reason for unsustainable human activity. Interesting reasoning, if it were not completely untenable. The following was my response:
The perspective that population is the obstacle for a sustainable species is highly subjective in a social frame, and relative in a scientific frame. To point the finger at overpopulation is to suggest the Earth’s eco-system is there to absorb the punishment of humanity, and our species has simply grown too large for the earth to cope. Expectedly, the subjective nature of society is void of merit in supporting any known sustainability model. To correct any imbalance in sociality, the nature of human society must align with the principals of a sustainable model.
Universal Equilibrium will always drive towards a state of maximum entropy. It discriminates nothing — not even humans. So yes, humanity may suffer a catastrophic correction as a species; however, as sentient beings we carry the capability to protect ourselves from our own actions — much like wearing a helmet when riding a bike, or a seatbelt when driving a car. We need to put measures in place protecting us from our global activities. Identifying the 1% as the culprit for our troubles is misguided. The 1% exists as a byproduct of our current social model. How does it go?: “With great power comes great responsibility”. So ask yourself, if you had unlimited financial means, would your actions be any different than those of the 1%?
The sustainable activity of the 1% are statistically disproportionate to even a basic sustainability model. Winning the lottery is a prime example of where our society tends to take aim: big house, lots of cars, heated swimming pool… you get the picture. The truth of the matter is, those of the 1% did not win the lottery (a one-time event). They leveraged the mechanisms within society to reach excessive financial gain. The activities of those who won the lottery are somewhat dissimilar, as the underlying nature of how those individuals got to the 1% mark is part of their persona. They are there [because] they worked to get there (the journey), and that means they will use their enhanced financial means to protect that enhancement out of entitlement. No merit is being made for entitlement, just that those of the 1% have a distinct advantage to influence their position in society, and that means protecting that advantage will automatically become the first seatbelt/helmet they put in place. It’s blind human nature.
Human nature influenced from social evolution can be sustainable. Unfortunately, there are fundamental contradictions in how our current society operates. No less does it make sense for low-income housing to exist next to a casino, than it does for society to reward it’s members by reinforcing the mechanisms that spawned the 1% — suppressing the composite ability of society as a whole. It’s a self feeding cycle akin to linseed oil in a cotton rag: the more it dries, the more it heats up. It quickly boils down to Universal Rights as a species. Until universal rights are socially observed, policies of human societies will stumble reactively behind the activity of those who are charged with its welfare — and ultimately the direction of our species.