A note before I launch into this: what I'm talking about is a super-controversial issue. I expect that many, if not most, people will read this and disagree with most or all of what I'm saying. But I'd appreciate it if you could not just shout hate, and rather give a reason for what you think or feel. That would be great.
So the other week, I finished listening to the audiobook of Inferno, by Dan Brown. (Yes, it references Dante's Inferno quite a bit.) It's the one that relatively recently got turned into a movie. Don't watch the movie. People have various attitudes towards Dan Brown books, but I'm a bit of a history buff, so I love the detail. I also loved how in this book, there were more turnarounds than you could poke a stick at. Classic drama. (One of the reasons that the movie fell through was that they really only included two of them, whereas the book had easily half a dozen or more.) Also, by the end, you were able to empathise with the supposed 'villain/s'. Which I rather appreciate. There's a bit too much hate that goes around.
Here is where I'm going to be doing a massive spoiler for the book, so if you don't want that, stop reading and go watch something else. Or read the book and come back. Not the movie, they changed the ending for it. Yes, they actually changed the ending. That's how bad it was.
Okay. If you're still reading, I'm assuming that you're okay with massive spoilers for the book.
Throughout the book, there are big hints at disease and epidemics. References to the Black Death. Biohazard symbols. The World Health Organisation. Plague masks. The whole idea is that Langdon and his partner are racing to stop someone from releasing a plague that will go global, and wipe out some percentage of the population - the idea being that the humans left surviving will then be able to thrive, because there will be less competition for resources. The analogy is used of the Black Death preceding the Renaissance. So the whole time during the book, you're given these grisly images of disease, death, horrible pain and global panic.
But right at the end, this virus (because it is a virus) is actually revealed to be something very different. It's a sterility virus. Mass Effect players, think genophage, but not quite as bad. Essentially, 1 in 3 people, for the rest of time (unless a cure is devised) are rendered completely infertile. Works on both males and females, and it's suggested that because of the brilliance of the person that engineered the virus - and the fact that they committed suicide - it is going to be extremely difficult, maybe impossible, to come up with a cure in any near future. As an aside, they don't manage to stop the virus from getting out, basically because they got their dates wrong - so it's gone global.
A couple of people in the book have a very immediate and visceral reaction to this virus. They hate the idea of it, think it's horrible, and do anything that they can to stop it. But others - they see it as a clean answer to many of the problems that we face in the world. Overcrowding. Pollution. Resource depletion. Food scarcity. Poor health in some areas. The simple fact is - if you have a lot less people living on the planet, suddenly, many of these problems become much more manageable.
Strangely enough, I finished that book thinking - well, actually, that would be a great idea. Overcrowding has been in the back of my mind ever since I read a comic of Mandrake the Magician, where he met someone who had time-travelled back from a future where they had serious overcrowding; to the point where they had people who's job it was to cull the population. Now, I don't know if we'd ever quite get to that stage. But certainly, in many places, you have a lot more kids being born than people are able to take care of; because of lack of contraception, or lack of education, or lack of wealth or health, or any number of other reasons. And there are so many kids that are orphans, or waiting for foster carers, or that are just left, because people can't care for them. And I don't think that's really okay.
Now, don't hear me saying that we shouldn't have kids. Or that everyone should just stop having sex! Like that would work. I'd be the last person to say that. I've been aching to have kids for a long time. But, although I know I'd enjoy having my own child - I also think I'd really love adopting children, and being able to provide them with parents. I think that would be super-special too. And yes, it would be hard. And sad. I know there are a lot of people that would find it particularly difficult - guys that see themselves as having their masculinity robbed from them, or girls being broken over not being a mum to their own kids. Though perhaps some would be glad to not go through all those pains of giving birth....but I'm straying well into the territory of things I know nothing about.
I don't really know. I think it's an interesting topic to think on. Because our population is skyrocketing, any old graph can tell you that. Growing at an exponential rate. And as it grows, so do so many other issues. And most things on this Earth are finite. Some are a bigger finite - but almost all will run out, one day. And if we don't look to solving that issue soon, it's going to come back and bite us on the bum before we know it. That's my thoughts, anyway. You can feel free to disagree.