People watching

John Davis

Photo By Ashley Hennefer

There are few in Northern Nevada who think of the desert around here as over-populated—although if it weren’t for manmade infrastructure, we’d be vastly too many people for the naturally available water—but John Davis is a member of that chosen few. He says those who want to learn more about the effects of human life on other animals can look at

What are you doing to celebrate the 7 billion?

That’s coming up, supposedly, October 31st, which should make this Halloween especially scary. The Center for Biological Diversity, which I’ve worked with before, came up with this project, the Population X project. Part of that is this condom distribution project. It’s like 1,200 condom distributors. I think I’m one of 11 of them in Nevada. They give each of us a box of 40 condoms, so we distribute them out here and there. It’s mainly kind of a lighthearted way to remind people of a very serious subject. The Earth can’t sustain a population of 7 billion. Anyway, I’ve been passing them out. I passed a few out to co-workers who got a big kick out of them. I still have some to pass out.

What do you do for your regular work?

I’m a registered nurse.

What makes you say the Earth can’t sustain 7 billion people? It seems as though it’s sustaining them.

Well, no, it’s supporting it, but it can’t keep it up. There’s not enough food, water, resources, to go around. There’s just not. That’s part of the reason we got into the Iraq War, was for oil. We want, it seems, more than our share of stuff.

“We,” meaning Americans? Or the human population?

The human population, every living being, needs so much water and so much food in order to survive. We don’t have the potable water for the people we have now—let alone 7 billion. In the future there’s going to be wars over water, just like this war in Iraq over oil.

I see projections that look like Earth’s population should cap out at like 10.1 billion in about 2100 …

I think the Center for Biological Diversity is projecting we’re going to reach like 15 billion by the year 2050. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think something pretty catastrophic would slap us down pretty good and bring us back in line before that happens.

The United States doesn’t have a problem maintaining its population, so I presume these condoms are more about education than actually preventing more babies.

There are Congress people who are trying to stop any kind of family planning clinics in the developing world. Somewhere—I think it was Mother Jones—I read the best population programs for them are micro-loans for women because when women can be self-supporting, they don’t have as many babies.

Describe these condoms.

These condoms—each one has a package of two—have these cute little sayings and pictures of endangered species on them. One says, “Hump smarter, save the snail darter.” One is, “Wear a condom now; save the Spotted Owl.” “Use a stopper, save the hopper,” and there’s a frog there. “Wrap with care, save the polar bear,” things like that. Really, it’s the package, not the condoms that I think everybody likes so much. They’re kind of funny, but I hope that they’ll get people to think about being a little bit more responsible with their reproductive acts.