I’m talking about the writer not a character. From the 1930s through the 1970s there was serious concern that over population would destroy the world as we know it it a very few years.
In 1966 Harry Harrison published a book Make Room Make Room about the over crowded world of 1999. He was extrapolating trends with no change. Why didn’t the world end? Better technology. Improved crop breeding allowed the same amount of land to feed more people. Improved disease control. The establishment of world health organization, vaccinations, the establishment of the Center for Disease Control.
Weather you like it or not genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will allow the population to grow even more. Even DNA testing will allow better control of the spread of disease. Still the recent outbreaks of measles shows us how susceptible we are to the wild fire like spread of a known disease. The threat of the spread of a disease from some secluded part of the world or a mutation of an existing disease could bring back the oldest form of population control, plague.
We have survived a biological attack in Japan by a religion sect. But, that was mostly luck.
In the 1950s there was concern that the world would end in nuclear war.
When I was very young, in the 1950s, I saw a family living in a bomb shelter sat up as a demostration at the county fair in Yuma Arizona. I think they cheated, they had a black and white TV in the shelter. In a real attack, all; TV stations, radio stations, cell phone transmissions would be stopped. The vehicles delivering the nuclear weapons would home in on transmitters, because that’s where the people are. Don’t get cocky and think that the internet will survive a nuclear weapon attack. Data centers, and web infrastructures are very pronounced in satellite pictures. Could you stand to live in a sunless room for months or years with only books to read and no one on the cell phone to talk to?
What happened. Technology. We built radar sites for early warning. Then we built more and better sites. We built satellites to detect rocket launches. We built better and better airplanes, rockets and missiles. We built better and better submarines. We built a better economy. And the attack never came.
Can we say the same about the future. No. Idealist now have the bomb. They don’t care that they could be bombed. Their ideals or religions are more important.
We survived the great oil depletion. Shortly after the oil began to be pumped out of the ground expert have been yelling that there is only so much oil in the ground and we will run out. Often they predicted that we would run out in ten or twenty years.
What happened? Technology. We learned to drill deeper with things like the Hughes oil well drilling bit. We learned to find oil better. We learned to drill for oil in deep sea water.
NPR had an interview with the guy that developed fracking. He was a wild cat driller. He was not a big corporation or government sponsored. He did it on his dime, and it took him years. He tried a lot of things and was about to give up when someone suggested he try something that sounded silly. It worked and we now have more oil than ever.
Oil will run out. But in WWII Germany made oil out of plant matter. We can do that in the future. We will not need as much oil in the future with electric cars, but we will have to develop better batteries and other sources of energy. We can do it.
I look at the young and old so stressed out about the coming end of the world and shake my head. Been there, and seen it pass. If they would study history they would find that experts have been predicting the end of the world since 3000 BC. They are victims of the media and politicians. Some of these media types and politicians are out to enrich themselves. Other of these scare types just don’t know better.
There are big serious problems out there. We can solve them, but these are world problems and one country can’t solve them by itself.
Stay strong, write on, and work and write to make the world a better place.
Professor Hyram Voltage