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October 16, 2008

Population and Policy

Estimates of global population generally agree that the turn of the Nineteenth Century was the first time Earth’s human population reached a billion. The interval covered is but a tiny fraction of what most authorities now consider the age of the universe. Where there is serious disagreement is in projections for future population growth. A further implication is that as time from the present increases, the accuracy of such estimates diminishes.

imprecision in making such estimates is inevitable; and applies similarly to current estimates that 6.7 billion humans are now dependent on goods and services produced and distributed by an abstraction known as the Global Economy. That economy just entered a state of flux not seen since the Great Depression and is being manifested in the US by increasing job losses and eviction notices, both of which are expected to rise and could easily lead to an increase in ambient levels of anxiety and anxiety disorders; to say nothing of crime and social disorder.

We are the only species with sufficient capacity for that degree of abstraction, the ability to fret about such numbers, and the desire to choose “Public Policies” intended to restrain our worst behaviors. Unfortunately, that capacity may be based on two separate, but related abilities: one for rational thought and the other for emotional expression.

Ironically, they seem to conflict: although our rational thought eventually led to Science with its enhanced “control” of the environment, our emotions have clearly encouraged our use of that power to a degree that now threatens our existence.

Equally clearly, what we desperately need as the US gets ready to choose its 44th President, are some new insights into the behaviors that got us into this mess.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at October 16, 2008 10:49 PM