Dark side of the earth

The number of the year, as acknowledged by last week’s cover story, is 7 billion. If you want to quickly get a grasp on the cause of all the trouble on our troubled world, you really only have to know this one number. 7,000,000,000. Everything that is messed up, screwed up, fouled up, haywire, askew and awry all stems from this number. All of our problems—environmental, financial, sociological and political—eventually get back to it.

When I was a lad of 7 back in 1960, there were 3 billion humans on Earth. In the last 51 years, that number has gone up by 4 billion. That’s a lot. That’s a number with real impact. A number that means something. What it means is that humanity is to reproductive discipline what Danny DeVito is to pole vaulting.

Seven billion. It’s a number that brings to mind a lyric from one of the great rock albums, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. In the song, “Us and Them,” David Gilmour sings, “With, without, and who’ll deny that’s what the fighting’s all about.”

If you were asked to sum up the situation on our planet in one line, I’m not sure how you would do it any more poetically, succinctly or accurately.

Seven billion people. With the projection of humanity hitting 8 bill by the year 2025. That means the experts aren’t expecting much of a slowdown in humanity’s sexual activity. Are you kidding? With all these hot young babes strumpeting about these crazed young men scarfing down their Cialis soup and Viagra vitamins? The experts are also apparently not expecting much in the way of exciting new developments in birth control. Or any kind of new Zero Population Growth-type movement. For every expert talking seriously about controlling our numbers, there are five talking about how we need more workers, more consumers, more slaves to the system which desperately needs ’em so as to guarantee its continued self-maintenance. Anybody talking about population control is laughed off, shouted down, shunted to the fringe, and labeled as some kind of enviro wacko. So why bother?

What would I say to a modern woman of 30 who is beginning to truly feel that ancient maternal itch? Go for it. What the hell. Each new baby brings us that much closer to the total collapse of the flimsy house of cards in which we live. Might as well go ahead and bring that whole rotten, corrupt, rapacious and frightfully messy house down. It had its shot. It had its day. It certainly had some greatness, grandeur, and promise. But in the end, we can now see, it’s gonna fall apart. How can it not? Might as well bust it up and see what game we’ll concoct next.

But don’t do it just yet. I still have some room on my Mastercard.