"Am I big enough to know how small I am?" - Babyhead
I'm quite carefree on a day to day basis. I'm not one of life's great worriers. But, sometimes, something will set me off worrying, and I can lose days to the sort of thing which I have no hope of doing anything about.
Often, the thing I worry about is The Future, which I have capitalised for dramatic effect. Quite a broad topic, and somewhat unavoidable, like the result of a sporting fixture you're hoping to watch the day after it actually happens.
This worrisome aspect of my character has been noticeably more, erm, noticeable since becoming a father. This, I suppose, is because I no longer have the luxury of being able to stop worrying at some point roughly fifty years into the future. I now have to worry for (I hope) at least eighty years. And that's if Cam doesn't do any procreation of his own.
Part of the trouble with The Future is that there will almost certainly be people in it. People like me, people like you, people like George Osborne, people like Eric Schmidt, people like Wayne Rooney. Countless other people. Millions. Billions. Too many. Too many people milling around on this little rock; eating, drinking, pissing, shitting, sleeping, shagging, consuming, wasting, creating, destroying.
Did you know, that if every human currently on Earth consumed its resources at the rate at which the average American consumes resources, we would require 3.7 Earths in order to not run out of stuff? Now, I've checked under the fridge (where everything I've lost eventually turns up) and there are no spare planets under there. Fortunately, we are not all Americans.
So, no problem, right?
Well, not according to this article I read yesterday: Humans
See, it isn't just the consumption being done by existing humans we need to be concerned about. There's around 7 billion of us at the moment. Apparently we'd all physically fit on Zanzibar, although I doubt the quality of life would be up to much. But, as a species, we are DAMN GOOD at growing our population.
Yep. High fives all round for our procreative prowess.
As a result of our collective horizontal jogging efforts, we'll soon (within our children's lifetimes) be sharing the planet with 9,999,999,999 other humans. Hold on, is that enough digits? I'm not sure I can even count to ten billion, or if I'd have time to get there before I died. Anyway, yes. TEN BILLION people.
So, in The Future, I just don't see that there's enough Earth to go around. Enough water. Enough food. Enough fuel. Enough space. Enough of those little paper umbrellas you used to get in cocktails. Enough spokey dokeys. Enough, honestly, of most things.
So I worry. I worry that Cam will grow up in a world where there is increasing competition for the resources we do have. That he will see massive unrest unfold around him as more and more people wake up to the idea that we can't go on as we do now. Most of all I worry that the answer to the problem of too many people does not lie in a change in how we consume, I worry that it lies in how many of us there are doing the consuming. I worry that there needs to be fewer of us, and that somewhere in The Future we will have to confront that.
I worry that we are not big enough to know how small we are, and that we will wander headlong into a need for drastic action to reduce our number, and we'll be too busy thinking about how important we are to see it coming.
I hope, now I've written this, I can go back to not thinking about it for a while. I am a part of the problem.