Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Altruism Fuels The Population Explosion.

Without going into the arguments about whether altruism is desirable or not in human behavior, it is worth reflecting on one of the results that our altruistic trait has produced, namely: significant and dangerous over-population of the globe. With the exception of ourselves, all animal forms have a natural and self regulating cycle of life, one in which it is difficult; and mostly impossible, for poorly supported young or elderly forms to survive. Nature is self regulatory and the result is, that as a long term trend, only a viable and finite population within each species can survive. Not so with human beings. We have adopted altruism and pronounced it to be a good thing in itself, even when this behavior ultimately produces the out of control population increases that we are experiencing now; and which will reach dangerous levels in the not too distant future. Our very consumption of sustainable raw materials is already almost out of control. The welfare state is one an example of the caring side of our nature. Could this ultimately add to the problem and is the system being manipulated by vested interests?
One eminent Biologist has this to say: - "I think that most of us believe that the welfare state is highly desirable. But you cannot have an unnatural welfare state, unless you have unnatural birth control, otherwise the end result will be misery even greater than that which obtains in nature. The welfare state is perhaps the greatest altruistic system the animal kingdom has ever known. But any altruistic system is inherently unstable, because it is open to abuse by selfish individuals, ready to exploit it. Individual humans who have more children than they are capable of rearing are probably too ignorant in most cases to be accused of conscious malevolent exploitation. Powerful institutions and leaders who deliberately encourage them to do so seem to me less free from suspicion."
Dawkins, Richard. (1976) 'The Selfish Gene.'