Sunday, 30 November 2014

Muddled Thinking

A snippet online took my other half to the amazing world of red diamonds – hugely rare and expensive, upwards of a million dollars per carat. That's a lot of money just to hang a bit of sparkly carbon off your body, which set me off on a chain of association which ended in a tangle of muddled thinking.

An undisclosed number of years ago I was taught classical Greek – in modern parlance, my teacher would be called inspirational, but back then he was just great. Most of the Greek has evaporated from my head, but one thing really stuck – he would never wish us 'Good Luck' before an exam, but 'Good Thinking'...

I should be so lucky.

My first, instinctive reaction to the price of a red diamond was just how many people could be fed with that money. People want a bit of bling, and people with too much money need to show off how much they have with the rarest and most expensive bling, but why can't they show off their wealth by feeding a few more (thousand? million?) people in the world?

Then I set off across the fields to do the evening routine – good thinking time. Muddy thinking time.

Not so long ago I was having another rant – global warming, dwindling natural resources and the most pressing problem on the planet, the excessive number of us humans. In the good old days, when people died young (c1964, when the UK "mode" age of death was zero (BBC News Article) – to summarise, the "mode" is the commonest value. In 1964, and preceding years/decades/centuries the commonest age of death was zero, aka, infant mortality), population control was achieved through disease, famine and war. When us humans used more of the natural resources than was available, lots of us died and everything balanced out. Now, we have this insane mentality where everyone has to be saved, everyone has to live, and everyone has the right to produce as many offspring as they like, regardless of whether our environment can support so many of us.

To be fair, every other species does the same. The population grows to the limit of the resources, and if anything disrupts those resources, lots of individuals die. What they call a population crash.

So there I was, standing in the middle of a field, bitching to myself about two contradictory things – there's too many of us, but we ought to be feeding people not buying expensive bits of carbon. Logically, rationally, I ought to applaud this carbon sequestration programme, the ridiculously wealthy of the world doing their bit to reduce global population by encouraging people to dig up rocks instead of growing food. But I have this troublesome, muddled thinking that still wants to throw all those bloody diamonds in the trash and feed a few more people.

There are too many of us, and every time any politician touches close to the topic, they talk about planning for our ever-rising population – feeding them, housing them and making sure there is always food, hot water and bountiful electricity. What they ought to be saying is there are too many of us. Some of us just have to go. That's the real green solution – starting bulk composting of humans. I don't have an answer to my muddled thinking, but our politicians don't even seem to have heard the question.

We're getting rid of infant mortality, sorting out the plagues, cutting back on famine, which only leaves the ever-popular war and occasional genocide. Even those great population reducers are being pushed out of fashion (with varying degrees of failure), so we need something to cut the numbers...

And so back to my muddled thinking – it's great that infant mortality is under control, that so much money is devoted to trying to cure disease and improve food supply... but we still need population control, and my number one favoured mechanism is... I don't have a clue.

Population control, by whatever means, is fraught with all manner of moral, ethical and "what did you just do to my granny?" questions. I know we need it, and I don't want to face it. Not that it matters, there's bound to be a population crash just around the corner, because once there are enough of us squabbling over scarce resources, the traditional lottery will re-open: plague, famine and war are the prizes, and the lucky survivors get to start the whole game again. So we either pick a method, or get one imposed at random.

There you have it – a simplistic rant over a complex problem. Forget all the tricky details, because only a simple one matters – I need to get my thinking straight: save the planet or save all the people, because I can't have both. Then I can think about the rest of us pesky humans who don't get that we have to make a choice.

No rush. Still plenty of decades until doomsday. And I'll be dead by then, so why do I care?

I do care. I don't know why, but I do. But that's a whole new pit of muddled thinking...

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