Pandemics & Overpopulation

In a globalized world the threat of a global pandemic has come true. World history is full of epidemics. In 1347 Black Death (Bubonic plague), 50% of the 100 million population of Europe. Worldwide the 1918 pandemic killed over 50 million. The present pandemic will most likely kill millions. Our media presents us multiple graphs of infections and deaths.

There are also other graphs worth considering. For a longtime, disease, starvation, and warfare kept population growth in check. With modern medicine, advanced agriculture, and a more peaceful world, population numbers are climbing. In the 1960s, when world population was 3 billion, there was great concern that overpopulation would facilitate pandemics, and outstrip food and water supplies. A United Nations graph shows present world population at 8 billion and, due to declining fertility rates, population should level off at 11 billion later this century.

What was not considered in the 1960s was climate change. A growing population, utilizing a carbon-based energy supply, is altering the climate and that change most likely will result in a hotter dryer earth. Now we watch upward tending graphs of temperatures, atmospheric carbon, and sea levels. It would be safe to say that the dire predictions of the 1960s did not happen, at least not yet. Using science, technology, and a lot of coal and oil we have built a certain type of global civilization. One could say that we are now in the precarious position of having to support 11 billion people and not destroying the earth. This will require a monumental global cooperative effort. In many ways this pandemic is a test case.

Unfortunately, it is becoming abundantly clear that the U.S. has become an outlier to world cooperation. Our present go-it-alone national administration is negating decades of global agreements. The U.S. no longer provides leadership for world issues. Our administrations response to the pandemic will go down as an epic fail. Most importantly this administration has decided to gamble by declaring victory and move on to opening up the economy. This decision was based on a graph called Hassett’s Cubic Model, which was a staff generated manipulated spreadsheet model unrelated to any scientific modeling. This is just one example of a retreat from evidence-based management and a move to gut-based, at the moment, management. Gut thinkers can even undermine science by manipulating the inputs, like under reporting COVID-19 deaths.