Isaac Asimov on population

26 09 2013

Another guest post by Matt Moran
Isaac Asimov was very concerned with the population crises facing mankind, and he wrote several essays on the subject. He was under no illusion as to where it would all end. It would end catastrophically, if population growth was not stopped at a level at which the Earth could support us. He said

‘What a pity, then, that it is all illusion (i.e., the good average life style that a North American leads) and that I cannot blind myself to the truth. My island of comfort is but a quiet bubble in a torrent that is heaving its way downhill to utter catastrophe. I see nothing to stand in its way and can only watch in helpless horror. The matter can be expressed in a single word: Population.’

Asimov was a master at explaining why population growth would lead to a catastrophe, and why the optimists who say science and technology will save us are wrong. He had this to say this about them.

‘Oh, there are optimists (and in this connection I find it hard to refer to them by that word; I prefer to think of them as idiots) who think that if only we end wars, establish world tranquility and advance science we can absorb population increase.’

However he was always humorous about this unnerving subject. He could always crack a joke.  ‘Well, then, what are we worried about? Why may we not expect that population and living standard will continue to rise, hand in hand? That sort of outlook reminds me of the tale of the man who fell off the Empire State Building. As he passed the tenth story, he was heard to mutter, “Well, I’ve fallen ninety stories and I’m all right so far.”‘

And so in his humorous, simple, explanatory style he would unroll this apocalyptic subject and in a thoroughly convincing manner show us that a horrific population crash was all but inevitable if we did not apply brakes to its growth.’s_essays_on_the_population_problem

Issac Asimov’s essays on the population problem – pwalden
Isaac Asimov was very concerned with the population crises facing mankind, and he wrote several essa…