A couple of weeks ago I said I’d talk about the Apocalypse and then I didn’t do it (Sorry for lying). So now I’ll talk about it, sort of. It all began well over a year ago when I tore through another of Dan Brown’s book ‘Inferno‘ (They’re making it a movie at some stage soon so now you don’t even have to read it).
Anyway, the book addresses a pretty fookin’ serious real world problem; overpopulation. In what Dan Brown refers to as the ‘Population Apocalypse Equation’ he explains how ever shitty little thing that happens on the planet (depleted resources, ice-caps melting, green-house effect, war, famine etc.) are all caused by the simple fact that there are too many of us humans. (At this point, if you’re not screaming internally there’s something wrong with you).
Panic. Everybody panic. It’s all our fault. I think that’s something that’s incredibly obvious yet most of us tend to push it out of our minds most of the time because it’s such an uncomfortable though; that we’re the sole reason all the bad stuff happens on the planet. It’s easier to live happy in denial than it is to admit to it and face up, right?
Anyway, along the way in the book there’s a man (I suppose he’s the ‘villain‘ in terms of this story) who proposes a solution to our imminent problem. Although not real, it is pretty interesting food for thought. This is how it goes:
What if we could develop an air-borne virus that infected everyone. As in, at the very least, everyone carried this particular virus. However, imagine it was engineered in such a way that the virus was ‘active‘ only in half the population, at random of course. Now, the only symptom of this virus is that if it is active within your system, it causes you to be sterile (no kids for you!). So that means half the population wouldn’t be able to have kids, the other half would. Additionally, because everyone is a carrier, a proportion of the next generation would have the active virus too so that the population decreases significantly with every generation.
What I’m asking is, and I genuinely would like to know, if it were up to you, would you release this virus? On the one hand, nobody dies in some sort of violent culling and the population problem is somewhat fixed (for now). On the other hand, many family names are discontinued randomly and many people will not be able to have children of their own.
Do you release the virus, potentially saving mankind or do you let us continue to procreate like, well, humans?
(Do take into account that, if we do survive over-population, we’ll probably only be around for another 10,000 years or so, but that’s a discussion for another day. Google ‘The Doomsday Argument’ if you’re curious though)