I am fed up with ‘scientists’, such as Michael Kaiser, defending our current farming practices on the basis that ‘we have a hungry, growing world population.’ That was from an Observer article on how trawlers are destroying our inshore waters. I hope that Kaiser, professor of marine conservation ecology at Bangor, was misquoted. However, the ‘hungry, growing world population’ is also the reason given for experimenting with GMOs – an horrifically bad idea. (Just looking back on agricultural ‘progress’ of the last 150 years, has any actually been good in a long-term way? Everything, from mechanisation to fertilizers, has done more harm than good, as we’re finding out more and more. Surely this is reason enough to halt GM. But I digress…)
The fundamental problem here is that the ‘hungry, growing world population’ begs the question. It assumes that the population should grow. This is an appalling assumption. The population cannot grow infinitely, as any Darwian knows. Well before we all die of starvation because we’ve eaten everything that it’s possible to eat, we will lead such impoverished lifes that we should probably rather be dead. Even primary school children can see that if you have a cake and four people, you get nice big slices; but if you have to share that cake with sixteen people, the slices are somewhat meagre. Having to share the world’s resources with ever more people will inevitably lessen qualities of life, as – something which politicians love to shove under the carpet – the world’s resources are finite.
We must not ever utter such sentences as ‘the growing population’, for this subconsciously gives moral permission for the population to grow. It must not grow: it must, in fact, shrink. The world population is already too big. Let’s have fewer people, living nicer lives. I am not suggesting mass extermination, although I think that attempts to find cures for fatal diseases are misguided. I am, rather, suggesting that state aid money goes into women’s education and sexual health programmes; that the Catholic Church wakes up and grows up and not only endorses contraception but funds contraception clinics; that the thorny issue of euthanasia is really, properly addressed; and that schools teach pupils that we are not the only species on the planet, and that our survival depends on the diversity of our environment.