Horrible spelling aside, this poster from Yahoo! Answers wants to know the ‘point’ of all the people being born in Africa seemingly only to die.
“What’s the point?” What does that mean? Why does there have to be a point?
The situation in Africa is complex and understanding the labyrinthine connections of cause and effect would take years of study.
Humans are animals and as such we follow many of the same reproduction strategies.
Populations with a high infant mortality rate tend to have a greater number of children. The more children you have, the higher the chance of some surviving long enough to reproduce and take care of you when you’re unable to. While African countries have the among the highest infant mortality rates in the world, they also have the highest population growth rates. This fact is often overlooked by those who would play on your bleeding heart (and then ask you for money) about all the people dying in Africa.
All the kids in those commercials all have something in common with you. They are flesh and bone. People who are flesh and bone are made of food. This should be obvious but is something overlooked. If there really was no food for them to eat, they wouldn’t be there. Of course there are plenty of kids who do die for lack of food but the inescapable fact is that the population is growing. There is food.
Increased food production/supply will always result in an increased population. The human population on this planet continues to grow as we continue to produce more food. Affluent societies tend to have fewer children per family while poorer societies tend to have more children per family, so it should come as no surprise that the poor population is expanding. This is true in Africa and it is true in the inner city.
Agriculture allows for an area of land to produce food more efficiently. But this efficiency comes at great cost to the long-term health of the land. This efficiency leads to an increased population. Over time, the population growth will outpace the ability of the land to provide for the people. This requires food to be imported from other areas to the detriment of that land and its people. It is a vicious cycle that has been going on for 10,000 years since the Agricultural Revolution. More food results in more people who require more food so they produce more food which results in more people.
The land in Africa cannot support the population of Africa. Importing food to Africa (and the resultant population growth) only adds to the instability of the population. When (not if, but when) it becomes the case that Africa can no longer import food, the results will be disastrous. It will make the Irish potato famine look like a picnic. It is inevitable. The greater the population of Africa is when it happens, the worse it will be. Yet, the population of Africa is growing.
Agriculture is not sustainable because it damages the land and results in a self-perpetuating population growth that is inherently unsustainable. Continuous growth is one of the big myths our civilization is based on.
The problem is not just limited to Africa. The planet cannot sustain 7 billion people long term and yet our population is growing. We are in the middle of a period of mass extinction at a rate not seen since the fall of the dinosaurs. We are causing it. We are rapidly converting the world’s biomass into human biomass — us and what we like to eat — all at the expense of biodiversity and long-term stability and sustainability.
A global population crash is inevitable. The only question is how much damage we do to the landbase and the world’s ecosystem in the interim.
So what’s the point? The point is that our culture (not humanity, as the Yanomami, Piraha and bushmen aren’t doing this, our culture is doing it.. the so-called civilized) is setting itself up to crash and crash hard. Our culture has a number of myths that enable this behaviour and if we are to survive at all, we must work to dismantle these myths. Now.
One of those myths is that there is some sort of cosmic point to all of this. There isn’t. We are utterly insignificant in any grand scheme of things. We are responsible for our own actions and inactions. The Easter Bunny won’t save us.