Crowd – flick creative commons

If you got to News Now site you can read all kinds of articles on Ecology and Environmental issues. As well as here and Huffington Post and Dailykos and just about any news source. Except right wing ones. As well as Fukushima and the Typhoon that decimated the Philippines.

And we all know of the impacts climate change is having.  One person suggesting that the rich countries need to foot the bill. There is one subject that gets very little attention though.

Population !

We know what the physical impacts of population and are and carbon footprints and economic etc. There is also a huge psychological impact as well. Our mental well being is negatively effected by the living density. This is an area that has been studied quite a bit. Proxemics and personal space and social distance have a great deal too with our emotional well being. Anyone who has had to spend any time in a crowded elevator knows this.

It can have a profound effect on people of different cultures.

It is said that every individual regards his or her own culture as being superior to all other cultures as inferior by virtue of being different from his or her own culture. In this way, the distance between individuals, who are influenced by different cultures, increases because there is no meeting point for the two. The social distance between these two cultures ultimately manifests in the form of hatred. A consequence of this distance and hatred is prejudices, that different cultural groups assume to be true for differing social groups. To take an example, the Brahmins are believed to possess the highest, and the shudras the lowest status in Hindu society. The social distance between these two groups is so great that the Brahmins look upon the shudras as lowly and impure creatures. If a Brahmin child ever touches the child of some shudra, the former is given a bath to rid him of his supposed defilement caused by his touch. As a result of this strict formulation of his activities, the Brahmin child forms a prejudice in his mind that shudras are untouchable and impure

And for violation of personal space, dehumanization.

According to the psychologist Robert Sommer a method of dealing with violated personal space is dehumanization. He argues that (for example) on the subway, crowded people often imagine those intruding on their personal space as inanimate. Behavior is another method: a person attempting to talk to someone can often cause situations where one person steps forward to enter what they perceive as a conversational distance, and the person they are talking to can step back to restore their personal space

So with more and more people closer together on shrinking land due to rising sea water. Combine that with decreasing resources and the out come is quite ugly indeed. So to maintain their psychological comfort people will choose to live in areas that previously were considered un-optimal at best. We already see this occurring in places like Florida where more and more people are living closer to the gulf and Atlantic or further in toward the Everglades. Having more and more a negative effect on the environment. Or living in more earth quake prone areas. Or cutting down of forests.

Then there is what is known as Dunbar’s number.   The total number of people we can have stable social relationships with. Those outside of that become just other people.

Given all of this one would expect some thought would be given to population control. But this has proven to be very unpopular even in China. Our desire to continuously breed is just too strong and deep seated even though it will prove to be our undoing. And sooner than one may think.

In the past – and not that distant a past either – this was not a big problem. People did not live as long. Children would die of childhood disease like diphtheria, whooping cough, small pox and even chicken pox.   Large parts of the population would be wiped out by epidemics and global wars.  Even some natural disaster.

Now this happens very rarely and has less and less of an impact when it does. Yet we keep putting our energies into life extension. Without thinking about the consequences.

What is needed is to either stop procreating or find another planet to live on.  Unless we unleash some devastating epidemic on ourselves – a theory which my mother thought likely -  or some other biblically sized event, we face a very bleak future indeed. Either that or …