There’s no doubt what economists think about overpopulation. There’s no such thing – not now or ever. Man is clever enough to overcome any obstacles to growth, they say. We can stretch resources through recycling and substitution. We can mitigate any threats to the environment. We need more population growth as an engine for economic development.
The Catholic Church too sees no cause for concern. God will provide for us all. The use of contraceptives is sinful, as it thwarts God’s will. At least that’s the pope’s position, seeming quite confident in his knowledge of what God’s will might be – a position almost universally ignored by Catholics.
But is the pope right? Does God want us to increase in numbers at a rate dictated only by our libido? Will He reveal to us new methods to feed ourselves and new mechanisms for managing our effect upon the environment? What does He really think about all this?
Or is it possible that the pope’s got it all wrong? Perhaps the answer can be found in our genetic make-up. As reported in the linked article (link provided above), it seems that the Creator has built in a mechanism for limiting our ability to reproduce. The Y chromosome, the one that makes males unique from females and carries the code for the design of the male reproductive system, is destined for the scrap heap – steadily deteriorating with no mechanism to repair itself.
In a new study, researchers say there is a dramatic loss of genes from the human Y chromosome that eventually could lead to its complete disappearance — in the next few millennia. While the Y chromosome’s degeneration has been known to geneticists and evolutionary biologists for decades, the study sheds new light on some of the evolutionary processes that may have contributed to its demise and posits that, as the degeneration continues, the Y chromosome could disappear from our genetic repertoire entirely.
… the Y chromosome, which once contained as many genes as the X chromosome, has deteriorated over time and now contains less than 80 functional genes compared to its partner, which contains more than 1,000 genes. Geneticists and evolutionary biologists determined that the Y chromosome’s deterioration is due to accumulated mutations, deletions and anomalies that have nowhere to go because the chromosome doesn’t swap genes with the X chromosome like every other chromosomal pair in our cells do.
In other words, male fertility is destined to steadily decline. So, is it possible that God Himself saw a need to limit our reproductive capacity as our ability to conquer disease steadily extends our lifespan? Isn’t this actually contraception that’s been built into our genetic make-up? If so, when we practice contraception by artificial means, are we thwarting God’s will or are we actually supplementing it?
The truth is that none of us can pretend to know God’s will on the subject of overpopulation and how to manage our numbers. But, beyond the fact that natural limitations like resource availability and the environment’s capacity to absorb our pollutants seem to make unending population growth a physical impossibility, our own genetic make-up seems to provide evidence to refute the pope’s version of what he believes God’s will to be.
And if, in fact, it is God’s will that we limit our numbers to no more than can be sustained by our finite world, a very logical conclusion, wouldn’t it also be logical that He would provide an economic system that would function best in an environment of population stability? If so, then who are economists to claim otherwise? Perhaps it’s time that they stopped promoting an illogical and unsustainable economic model and start envisioning the true economic model of the future – a future with a stable and sustainable population.