Don’t forget to have your spouses spayed or neutered.

Dear Citizen,

Congratulations on your first newborn!  We hope the immeasurable happiness that accompanies such a joyous occasion reaches you well.  Please be alerted that, within the proceeding 4 weeks, you must undergo assisted sterilization, as mandated by your peers.

Kind regards,

The Human Race

Dr. John Feeney, an environmental journalist residing in Colorado, authored an interesting article presented by the BBC, “Population: the elephant in the room.”  Go read it.

As Feeney explains, the carrying capacity of our species on Earth is a fickle subject to tackle. However, ecologically, it’s a fundamental law governing of organismal population growth: a definite amount of food, water, or other resource cannot sustain an infinite number of organisms.  Humans are no different from other animals in this respect.  At some point, we will overshoot our carrying capacity, and calamity beyond our wildest dreams will ensue.

Now, I think most would agree that forced sterilization or government mandated population control would be terribly unethical and unpopular.  However, at what point do the actions of the current generation of humans impose unethical constraints on future generations?  It seems to me that, collectively, we have two options: a) avoid disaster by limiting growth now via population control; or b) allow continued population growth, and let disaster be the population controlling agent.

The questions remains, however, which of the above two contingencies is more ethical?  Is it better to prevent the possible deaths of the unborn, or prevent the certain deaths of the those individuals possibly born in the future?

Frankly, I have no freaking clue.

Oh, in case some of you sci-fi lovers are thinking, “Hey, stupid, we’ll totally be warp-driving to Romulus in, like, 100 years.”  Well, check it.  The closest Earth-like planet is Gliese 581c, a mere 20.3 light years away.  Given our fastest recorded occupied vehicle travels 11 km/s (Apollo 10 – ref), it would take approximately 550,000,000 years to get there.  Even if we were to take a Helios II to Gliese 581c, the fastest spacecraft ever developed (ref), it would take 86 million years.  Shit, even if we could travel at the speed of light, barring the ridiculous amount of energy required to do so, it would take 20 freaking years to get there.  Now consider moving a 5-10 billion people those 20 light years, and the logistics get even more complicated.  In short, we’re stuck here, so let’s make the best of it.

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: