Photo by Tim McCartney

The  Herd of Elephants in the Room

Barry Healey’s Letter to Justin Trudeau (et al)


In 1953 the population of humans on Planet Earth was 2.3 billion.  65 years later, it’s over 7 billion, 3 times the number in 1951.

It would appear that we humans have one problem from which all other ‘so-called’ problems are symptoms, and which is:

Over-population.   There are too many humans on planet earth.

What?  I’m sorry, I can’t hear what you’re saying.  I see you angrily shouting at me, but I can’t hear you over the crowd.  Come closer.  Ah, now I can.  What are you asking me?  How dare I suggest that we limit our beautiful species?!  Humans belong here.  Do we?  Limiting the human reproductive machine is a violation of human rights.  Is it?

Okay, okay, I understand you.  Perhaps we should look break it down:

  • War does not create over-population—over-population creates war.
  • Climate change does not create over-population—over-population creates climate change.
  • Famine does not create over-population—over-population creates famine.
  • Gridlock does not create over-population—over-population creates gridlock.
  • Over-forestation does not create over-population—over-population creates over-forestation.
  • Resource scarcity does not create over-population—over-population creates resource scarcity.
  • Pollution does not create over-population—over-population creates pollution.
  • Nuclear proliferation does not create over-population—over-population creates nuclear proliferation.
  • Etc.

Isn’t clear that these problems, and many others, are a result of too much begetting?

At present, we humans consume one and one-half times the amount Earth can replenish itself.  Even the most math-challenged of us can see that soon there will be no more trees, drinking water, crops, moderate climates, etc.

We will have eradicated life on planet earth and, dying of thirst, and attempting to breathe in a toxic atmosphere on a bare rock (the planet), we will wonder why we were over-breeding like a locust infestation.

Yes, this is depressing.  That’s why I bring it up.

Why is it that there is no public discussion about 7 billion (rapidly approaching 9 billion) humans over-populating our tiny rock.  Why is there no attempt to turn back that number?  We discuss war, famine, gridlock, climate change, pollution.  Why are we talking about the symptoms and not the disease?

Is it because, to humans (as Monty Python satirized in their movie The Meaning of Life), “every sperm is precious”?  Is it because humans believe that the sun shines up our rosy whatsits; that we think we’re the chosen species; or that we believe that all this (Earth) was put here for us?  Wouldn’t these ideas suggest to you that we are mindless or, even worse, cowards?

Is there anything good about over-population?  Does anyone think it’s productive?  Yes, corporations love over-population because it provides cheap labour and many consumers.  But, as we’ve seen, ‘corporate’ thinking is rarely intelligent and almost never useful in improving the general good.

Should we not at least make an attempt to cure ourselves?  Shouldn’t the Bill Gates Foundation, and other foundations (if they aren’t already), fund family planning and other means of reducing the urge to procreate?  Can we not begin a planet-wide discussion of what might be done to mitigate this endemic earth disease?

Can we start shouting about it now, please?

Are you listening, politicians and world leaders? — Justin?  Barak?  Vladimir?  Pope Francis?


–Barry Healey, Toronto ON